Thursday, December 4, 2014

This is the picture of a 10-year-old!
What a beautiful day yesterday was! Sure, it was gray, with a kind of humid coolness that creates a rainforest type ecosystem under your jacket. Yuck. But, it felt beautiful despite the grayness as with a humble perspective I was able to appreciate, enjoy and be so prayerfully thankful for December 3, 2014, which marks a decade of annual celebrations in honor of Eli’s birth. I had moments of surrealism throughout the day that we had made it, and that the day did not go as I had envisioned almost a year ago. One year ago today, Eli, Caleb and I left for Memphis for a routine MRI, which would have been considered his two year mark from original diagnosis, a statistical goal. We would receive the stunning blow of bad news that the cancer was back on the 6th, and feel the familiar weight of the sky bearing down again. We are so thankful for your prayer efforts that are both a weapon and a comfort. My heart is full with gratitude as I have been painfully aware that the day could have been tortuously different. I again leave for Memphis tomorrow, but no hospital appointments! And, unless something unforeseen happens, I will be participating in the St. Jude half-marathon. Not only have I not prepared, but I have anti-prepared (gained weight, eaten junk for
One of the really bad things about having a massive under-bite
is eating cupcakes. Eli enjoying his War Eagle cupcake from
the Iron Bowl - (It's ALWAYS great to be an Auburn Tiger!)
 month, exercised only sporadically), so I just hope to survive during the time allotted for it. Today, I dropped Eli at piano lessons, and I was hurrying back to the car across the yard and turned my ankle. It tweaked my knee and the top of my foot. Ordinarily, I would hardly notice, except that I know I’m going to be walking/running for about 6 hours or more on Saturday. So, wish me luck, that I make it to the finish line before they shut it down, and that I survive uninjured, and that I have enough consciousness to drive the four hours back home after the race. Eli has chemo tomorrow (Friday), so I hope to leave after that, although that will run me pretty late getting there.

We celebrated Eli’s birthday on Sunday with some school buddies that he had asked to join him for a pizza and a movie, then yesterday, instead of school, he, hg and, I went to another movie and to Toys R Us for him to spend some birthday money that he has collected from different people for his birthday. We have thoroughly enjoyed all the
He does read the cards... and he does shake them for money.
 birthday wishes, and the wonderful cards and t-shirt from the UAW, and from the kids at school, and miscellaneous others that are just do so much better than me about sending cards. It is so simple, but makes a big impact, really does, so thank you all for making that effort. And, wow! at the Transformers! We are building a formidable team to transform childhood cancer! I have loved hearing all the descriptions of how some of the Transformers would rid kids of cancer, lots of zapping and vanishing and wiping away. Love it! How cool it has been to see all the creativity from so many different people - kids and adults, male and female, it is so fun to see what all of you come up with. We are so impressed and loving it! Keep it coming, keep challenging and spreading awareness about childhood cancer. And, with Transformers on our minds, please remember the
A friend took this picture of Eli leading singing while she
sat in the nursery and he came on over the internal tv.
family of Brent Gordon in your prayers. Brent owned a Chevy Camero that was a Transformer Bumblebee look-a-like and he took it to car shows, but he was so kind to bring it to our Superhero Fun Day for childhood cancer and let people take pictures with it and talked to a lot of people about it. As you can imagine, that was the main thing that Eli was interested in. Brent  was killed during the night Sunday as he cleaned his gun. He has a precious young wife, that is a talented hairdresser here in town that the kids and I go to, and a little boy that will turn two years old in January. I was and continue to be so sad for the situation and for Erica. I don’t know her well, but she seemed so upbeat and fun. I am just heart-heavy for her and what she is facing as a young mother. Something strange that I will share, just because it struck me. I don’t think anything of it, except that it was
Eli and his Bumblbee.
weird. Sunday night at church was singing night, and I suggested to Eli that he lead a song because the theme was heaven and it was Thanksgiving weekend, so I really wanted those there that have been so diligently praying to see, in front of them, the fruit of their labor. Eli can’t know the encouragement he is, and really, an encouragement from no act of his own. But, I believe he represents God’s power over the evil of this world, and is evidence of the power of prayer. So, I told him that I thought he should lead a song. He did not want to, period. But, I know that it is important and that he can, and if he does it one time, then it will be easier. So, I told him that if he would do it this one time, that he could have a surprise. He wanted a Transformer because we are all about Transformers these days (he has never seen the movies, only the cartoons, and books). So, he lead
This is our St. Jude ornament. I had Eli to sign it.
 “This World Is Not My Home,” and did just fine as I knew he would (thankfully, I did just fine, too). He told me that next time he would do it and I wouldn’t have to get him anything, which I knew that if he did it one time then he would know that he could. But the next day, while we were out, I took him to Target as I promised. He had a specific Transformer in mind, but they didn’t have it. He only ever gets a weird one that I’ve never heard of, or he gets the main guy Optimus Prime. Suddenly, like a light bulb turned on, he reached for a Bumblebee and said very clearly, “I want this one instead.” It was weird because of the 30+ Transformers we have, not one that is his is Bumblebee. Caleb has some because he is a Camero guy, but Eli has never, ever chosen a Bumblebee. Not because he doesn’t like Bumblebee because he does, but when standing in front of
So thankful for preschool teachers and early
elementary ed teachers that take time to do
crafts with the kids. We wouldn't have
ornaments without them!
the toys, he just does not choose Bumblebee. This is before we knew about Brent, and Eli still doesn’t know. I asked him several times, if he was sure that he wanted Bumblebee. And he was adamant and would not even look at others. Even in line, I questioned him again because I doubted that he wanted Bumblebee and just knew that suddenly he was going to say “ummm, I guess I’d rather have that Grimlock” and I was going to say “Yep, I knew it.” I even took his picture with it later that afternoon for fun because it had struck me strange that he picked Bumblebee. That night, my sister texted me about the news that “the guy with the Bumblebee at Superhero Day” had been killed. Tragic, really it is, and I am just so sorry for it. And, it just magnifies so much more how blessed we
Re-purposed vintage toy: Christmas Fonzie
and Spunky (I had to add the dog from
season four to help appease Abbey when she
didn't get an elf like her friends.. keep in mind
 that she knows the truth about Santa.)
 are to have been given a heads-up, a kind of warning that we needed to take notice of the preciousness of our days. I would never, ever been able to reach the depth of appreciation for each day had I not been warned. Please, don’t require a diagnosis to get your attention, and don’t wait for a tragedy to wake you up. Genuine prayers for each of you that Eli’s journey helps you talk nicer, be more patient, be less judgmental, and see more clearly what is truly important. If you would like to help this mother and her son, there is a fund set up for them at Regions Bank (any branch), or I would be glad to turn it into the fund.

We got our tree up, and have some other scarce decorations around, and Big Sam has on his Rudolph costume. I put the lights on the tree and now I just let the kids decorate it. Sure, there are like five ornaments all jumbled in one spot, but they had so much fun. And, I am so thankful for preschool teachers and early elementary school teachers that take the time to do ornament crafts with the kids. We would have a pretty bare and meaningless tree without them! Our Christmas Fonzie is also back for the season. He is our version of an Elf on the Shelf because I don’t like commercial businesses creating traditions for me (like Hallmark and Valentines’ Day). And I wanted to prove to my kids that they don’t have to have what everybody else has got, and certainly don’t
I have no idea why he is standing on a stool.
I guess after he stepped up, he found a better
spot down low.
need what others say we need to have a fun or a tradition, so I wouldn’t buy one. They are super cute, for sure, and I love all the ideas people create with them, but I just could not bear to bend. The harder I’m pushed the more I will resist. The girls are finally enjoying Fonzie this year (Abbey was furious that we didn’t get an Elf) and have been the ones to create his mischief. Abbey even made sure that she left time for Fonzie before bed. They boys look for him the first thing in the morning. I made the mistake last year of pretending Fonzie was responsible for the Disney trip, so the boys are all excited about what Fonzie will do this year. I had to talk them down off Disney, and told them Fonzie only does something big once. That’s the cool thing about Fonzie, he makes his own rules and doesn’t have to abide by the Elf rules in the book.

I love Christmas, and all the different things to do during the month and I love packing it all in. We enjoyed the Athens Christmas parade with friends tonight, and the weather that went with it. My heart is full to be enjoying the holiday season, and at the same time I am mindful of others who are not. I have been keeping up with some other kids lately, and we are so happy that Leah, another local cancer kid, got good news from her latest MRI, so we want to join all
Look who we found!
of those holding her up in prayers of thanksgiving. But, I also think about some of the kids we followed for so long that have passed. Please, remember Smilin’ Jack’s family, and Ryan’s family, Brittany’s family, Hunter’s family, Lane’s family, Brayden’s family, Nolan’s family, and Aaron’s family. Those come to mind right now, and I hope they are healing and finding their blessings now.

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