Monday, August 26, 2013

Bayley got married

You might remember our wonderful nanny/family assistant/babysitter/friend Bayley. She got married this summer and graciously involved our three big kids in her wedding: Simon as ring bearer, Charlie as sign bearer (it's a new cute trend that you're very familiar with if you're on Pinterest) and Talya was the flower girl.

We've been blessed to have Bayley as an unofficial part of our family, and it was an honor to watch her begin her new life with Evan. The following is a letter I wrote to her on her birthday last week. She is allowing me to share it with you all - and I'll also include some cute pics of the kids. And, look, I found a way to link to her amazing wedding pictures.

Dear Bayley,
Your wedding was beautiful, which was only a little surprising because the day had the worst possible weather forecast. Even knowing that, there couldn’t have been any of us there who know you who actually believed that YOUR wedding day would be anything other than beautiful - because of who you are: glowy-beautiful, inside and out.

Ever since I got diagnosed, wedding vows make me cry. Because you really have no idea what you’re signing up for, but you go ahead and make the most permanent promise of your life, based solely on knowing the person you’re promising.

I’m a cynic. You know that. So, you wouldn’t be surprised that when I hear young kids say those words, part of my brain does a mental eye-roll because I got married young too. And, I know that when you say, “In sickness and in health,” you picture a romantic night in, cuddling on the couch with chicken soup and Vicks. And I also know that what you actually get is a big fat tumor on your brain that somehow makes you so constipated, the word “romance” sounds like nails on a chalkboard.

And your wedding... well, if a cynic was looking for a place to roll around in the mud, your day had all the needed dirt. Painfully beautiful couple, supportive family and friends, husband who sings during the ceremony, you’re not old enough to drink yet, and even the weather decides to cooperate when it’s not supposed to. I mean, blech.

Except, it wasn’t blech at all. And I’ll tell you why. Because when I looked up at the front row, there was your mother-in-law in a wheelchair. Living with a disease that has robbed most of what she should have had in her adult life. And next to her was her husband, who I’m sure would have carried her to light her candle if he’d needed to.

A cynic says, “those kids have no idea.” But who can say that to you? Because you do. You and Evan know what you’re getting into. You know what “in sickness and in health” means because you’ve seen it, grown up with it, and haven’t run from it. You know that “for better or worse” can mean some really hard things. You know that even though God held back the storms on your special day, He may not choose to hold them back on your life.

And, you know that the possibility - no the certainty - of rain is what makes the sun so  beautiful.

And, so when you said those words, and Evan said them back to you, I cried, but I didn’t roll my eyes. I beheld the beauty of your in-laws’ and of my own husband's faithful love, and I prayed. I sort of feel the need to confess what I prayed, because part of me feels guilty about it.

God, let them know sickness along with health. Let them be richer and poorer. Let them have better and worse. Give them the opportunity to live out every single vow they’re making, because it’s not the promise that makes a marriage sweet, it’s the keeping it.

It’s not just marriage, of course. Every person gets the chance to live a life of complete fulfillment in trying circumstances. In Philippians 4, Paul says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” It’s kind of become a cliche that suffering brings us closer to Jesus - I’ve always believed that while secretly hoping I didn’t ever need to test that theory. But, I have had to test it. I’ve been brought low and I’ve abounded with joy. I’ve lost things that were precious to me. And, even in my faith, I still feel the full weight of those losses. But, just like I’ve relished the chance to know Ben in sickness and health, plenty and in want, I get to know Jesus like that too.

I am so privileged to be a part of your cloud of witnesses, not just as you made your vows, but as you keep them. You are a beautiful woman and child of God.


Charlie fell asleep on the way to the wedding, and had a hard time recovering.

See? Tears all the way down the aisle... but he still looked cute.

Simon practically sprinted down the aisle with that ring box. He is a boy who takes his job seriously!

These girls looked gorgeous.
epecially with matching shoes.

Talya had a huge smile.
We left Annie at home so we could enjoy the evening....

...but she got to show off her cute dress at the rehearsal dinner.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to school special

We love our kids' school. (That being said, I'm still sad that my dream hasn't yet come true of them running into their Pop-Pop principal's office for tootsie roll pops and hugs, but you never know what could happen someday) So, even though we're disappointed that we're not in Brazil yet, it was fun to tell them that they get to go back to Bethlehem Lutheran and see their favorite teachers and friends again.

Simon is in 2nd grade, Talya is in (all-day) kindergarten and Charlie is starting his first-ever school experience with four-year-old preschool three mornings a week. The older two are in uniforms. I wish you could have seen the fury on Ben's face when we were standing in Children's Place and I told him that Talya can't wear pink. Our school has one of the most flexible and least expensive uniform policies ever, but this daddy was crushed to picture his princess in khaki and navy for 9 whole months. We compensated with sparkles on the backpack, headband and twinkle-toe shoes that are so bright they might give me a seizure.

Here are our proud pictures!

Charlie - Pre-school

Simon (2nd) and Talya (K)
Annie (never allowed to go to school or leave home)

Along with school, I had my most recent check-in with my neuro oncologist and my latest MRI looks good. I've had no further symptoms or episodes, which are all good signs and I've regained all my energy (except the energy loss that I sustained upon having a fourth child - apparently that's permanent).

So, I guess I'm fit to resume my agenda-signing, reading-chart-signing, homework-helping, lunch-packing, schedule-remembering, appointment-making-and-cancelling, nap-time-enforcing duties. Good thing Ben is around a lot to help with that!

Brazil status remains as it was. We have days where we feel hope that it could happen soon, but most days indicate that we'll be waiting on paperwork processes for a while still. We are working on waiting; using our time well without filling our life up. Please keep praying for us in all of this.

I wanted to tell you something funny but I can't think of anything right now.