Saturday, April 12, 2014

Life Lessons.


Last week was spring break, and we had the opportunity
to visit Kevin's parents on the North Carolina coast
for a few days.
It was great to see them
and it's always wonderful to feel the sand between our toes
and smell the salt air.
It was peaceful and relaxing;
there's just something about the beach and the ocean
that is life-giving to us.


Perhaps it's the sound of the waves.
Or the feel of the gentle, constant breeze.

Or maybe it's standing on the edge of something so vast
that it demands an acknowledgement
of our smallness.

But there is an intimacy that I feel with my Creator
that is easy and constant at the shore.


This time I was a bit overwhelmed, actually.

The last time I stood on this sand
was last Labor Day weekend,
just days before my surgery.
While I was a bit anxious anticipating that procedure,
I had no idea the life-changing events
that were just on the horizon--
minor surgery turned into a total
hysterectomy,
a diagnosis of stage 2 ovarian cancer,
months of chemotherapy.
Certainly the most difficult time of my life 
in many ways.

So much can happen in a short period of time.

The sand and the waves looked the same.
But I realized how much I have changed.
How much I've grown.
Hardship will do that to you.

I've heard it described as unwrapping the gift of suffering.
No one wants to receive that gift.
Yet amazingly,
as hard as it was,
I don't think I would want to change it.
There is a gift in the midst--
a closeness of Jesus that I had never experienced,
a better understanding of things eternal,
an understanding of what's truly important in this life.


My faith has grown immensely--
it has to when you're faced with making a choice--
do I trust God in the midst of this
or do I live in fear and worry?

I chose to trust.
And He proved Himself,
again and again.

I don't think I would ever want it to be any other way.

The ocean, like God,
does not change.

But oh, have I.


My hair is starting to grow back
and my body is healing from its war with chemotherapy.
But while I start to look more like my former self on the outside,
I hope I never lose the lessons
I have learned on this journey--
the desperate need to be close to God,
to love well the people He has put in my life,
to enjoy every day that He grants me
and to glorify Him always.

That's really what life on this earth is meant to be,
isn't it?

love to you all,
Jackie

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life Recently.

It has been a month since I last blogged.
A month!

My busiest 6 weeks of the school year are always 
mid-February through the end of March,
and this year was no different.
There were two community-wide student art shows
to prepare for and our school's annual 
Night of Fine Arts and Silent Auction.
Add soccer to the mix
and it was about all this mama could handle.
I'm really trying to practice walking 
the delicate tightrope of margin and rest.
The fact that my body demands it of me definitely helps!
........

In an attempt to get caught up,
here's a brief photo log of life recently:



 We celebrated Hadley's 14th birthday with a party
at a local pottery studio.



We celebrated Sierra's artistic talents at two different
art shows.
(SO excited to be able to have that peacock collage
adorning our walls soon!)


Lots of soccer. So glad that the girls get to play together this year!
This shot was after a game that was decided after double-overtime
and 13 penalty kicks.
Needless to say, the girls were all thrilled to come out on top!


Kevin and I volunteered at the Small Dream's Foundation's
second annual 5K.
I wrote about this event last year.
My, how much has happened since then.


And remember this?
I could hardly believe it,
but I was invited to be a part of a blog post
on gallery walls from the House of Fraser.
What a fun opportunity!
You can check out the article here.
........

It has felt good to be able to really engage
in life again.
I am thankful that my treatments ended before
the calendar arrived at the busy season.
However, 
in the midst of this God has still be teaching me much.
Things are shaking out in the aftermath;
now that life is beginning to settle down,
 I look forward to attempting to articulate
these thoughts here.

I have missed you.

xoxo,
Jackie

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fourteen.

Yesterday was Hadley's birthday.
Our baby is 14.

Fourteen!
........


 It seems like yesterday when she
was our blue loving baby,

who loved to catch lizards,

climb trees,

and play baseball with the boys.

Our builder and video maker,

who never met a board she didn't like.



And to think,
this fall she will be in high school!

To our creative and fun-loving Hadley Grace:
we love you with all our hearts.
We enjoy watching you grow into
who God created you to be
and are grateful to share life with you.

Happy Birthday, Fancy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow Days.

We don't get much snow in the south.
So when we do, it's an EVENT.
There's a mad dash to the grocery store to stock up.
Then things come to a complete standstill.
Since it happens so rarely, there isn't the street
equipment to clear ice from the roads,
so schools and businesses close
until it's safe to drive again.

Last week, the frozen precipitation began
on Tuesday morning and lasted through Thursday.
Add winter break to the mix,
and our girls and I have had a full week off
from school and work.
Kevin was home until late morning on Friday.

And it has been a wonderful gift
of time together.

The snow is so pretty and still and quiet.


And it makes everything look magical.

 The girls had fun playing in the snow,

 and riding our snowboards down our street.

 Our new addition enjoyed it, too!

This is Zeus,
our two year-old golden retriever.
We adopted him from a golden rescue in Atlanta
and he couldn't be a better fit!
It feels like he's always been a part of our family. :)

 Our gas logs were installed the day before
the snow started falling--
talk about perfect timing!!
We have enjoyed watching the Olympics

and making s'mores, of course.

 The slow mornings gave us time to enjoy 
breakfasts together.
One day the girls made homemade waffles from scratch
(boy, were they good!)

However, I think round two was my favorite.
Kevin added cinnamon sugar to the tops of these
when heating them in the oven.
Then we spread a little peanut butter on them before
adding the fruit and maple syrup.
Just. Divine.
You should definitely try it sometime!
..........

The unexpected vacation days also
gave us time to begin a project that's been
on the horizon--
flipping Berkley and Hadley's rooms.

 With Berk away at college,
it doesn't make sense for his stuff to sit lonely
in this big room,

while his sister remains in the tiny room.
So the big flip has happened!
I look forward to sharing more before and after
pictures in the days to come.
..........

I'm so grateful for this unexpected time of making memories
and tackling projects.
It's back to regular scheduled programming tomorrow.

Did you have snow days? 
If so, how did you spend them?

xoxo,
Jackie

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Visual Cancer Timeline.

It's funny.
I've never really liked photos of myself.
But for some reason,
I feel inclined to document the
transformation that I've gone through the past 6 months.
So here's a photo-journey from pre-diagnosis
through my last treatment yesterday.

 August 9, 2013--last cut and color
12 days before my ovarian cyst diagnosis.

 September 13, 2013--4 days after surgery--
cancer confirmation, total hysterectomy,
appendectomy and staging.
Sierra hanging out with me on the couch.

October 5, 2013--
washing my long hair for the last time...

October 5, 2013--
my pixie cut! 

 October 16, 2013--
first round of chemotherapy.

November 2, 2013--
Saturday breakfast date with Hadley, feeling good!

 November 6, 2013--
hair falling out majorly, last day before the buzz.

 November 7, 2013--
post-buzz, the night before treatment 2.

 mid-November--
Sierra with her bald mama.

November 26, 2013--
the night before treatment 3.

 November 28, 2013--
grateful to be feeling good on Thanksgiving Day!

December 14, 2013--
with Sierra before her Winter Formal.

 December 19 2013--
Instagram screenshot, day before treatment 4.
Eyebrows and eyelashes starting to thin.

 December 29, 2013--
with our family at Kevin's parents' house in NC

January 1, 2014--
with the Falling Shoals crew for New Year's Day.
So thankful for these ladies!

 Jaunary 9, 2014--
night before treatment 5. 
Eyebrows and lashes just about gone…

 January 30, 2014--
night before treatment 6--
finish line in sight!

January 31, 2014--
getting to share in the tradition of ringing the bell
after your last treatment!! 
What a joy!
……..

I look forward to the days ahead!
I know the next week will be a bit rough,
but knowing that I don't have to prepare myself for anymore 
chemotherapy is just wonderful.
I'm excited to shed a few pounds of steroid weight;
I'm interested to see what my hair will look like
when it starts to grow again
(many people have told me it will be very different--
maybe black or gray and curly!!).

Never before and never again will you have to
endure so many photos of me at one time!
But I know it will be nice to have this visual documentary 
of my cancer journey to look back on and remember
in the days ahead.
God has been so near to us this whole season.
He has blessed us with incredible family and friends
to love on and support us along the way.
And He has taught me so much over the past few months.
I look forward to sharing these thoughts with you 
in the days ahead.

Love to you all,
Jackie
……..

My Ebenezer List

51. Crossing the finish line
and ringing that bell!
52. a yummy meal from friends
waiting for us when we got home.
53. Berkley being able to join us for our
celebration meal.
54. Flowers from my love.
55. a bundle of balloons from the wonderful Autrys--
Celebrate Good Times!! :)