she who loves the sunshine (still & always)...

It's been almost 2 years since I've posted here.  Looking back, the date was 9/4/15 - a post called 'don't miss the rainbow'.  Shortly under a month later I began a journey - a most unexpected one.  October 1, 2015 I was diagnosed with stage 3, Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Although considered a 'good cancer' (though I shudder to see those words beside each other), it required 6 months/12 treatments of chemotherapy.  I read something recently about the nickname 'chemo'.  About it being way too cruel for a nickname - I believe I concur.  Treatment was hard, more than I could have imagined.  Having cancer was hard.  Having had cancer, it's still hard. 

Over a year out from finishing treatment, I'm healthy and thriving.  I bear the scars with earned pride and accomplishment.  Humbled to have had a 'good kind' when so many aren't afforded that, I confidently say I have a new lease on life.  A new and better perspective for sure.  A tried and true season of learning to be better rather than bitter.  Knowing this is a choice I get to continue to make each and every day - a precious privilege ♥

For needed perspective and catharsis, I wrote throughout my journey and some in this past year.  Aftermath or afterglow - in tandem I suppose.  That is somewhat chronicled, personally and deeply here - https://shewholovesthesunshine.wordpress.com/

Bubba and Lucy are still my 'babies', those 'thundering beats of my heart.'  Bubba is freshly 9 years old and Lucy is short months from being 7.  They too are healthy and thriving - delighting and challenging too.  That part of my heart that started beating outside my body 9 years ago is constantly swelled - in joy, in sorrow, in laughter, in tears, in living each day.  In getting it right and sometimes horribly wrong.  In remembering my Saviour's grace covers the multitude.  Letting that be the banner over it all. 

My latest tattoo (I'm up to 3) says 'made for joy' across the arch of my left foot.  I wanted to bear this chosen scar to remind myself that wherever life may take me, I am the daughter of a King.  Made in His image, created for joy.  Worth remembering. 

When I started B&L in 2012 my mantra/manifesto centered around the idea of 'purveying copacetic living'.  I wrote it down.  'Taking hold of life's greatest joys - to love, to laugh, to feel inspired, to be creative and to find vital time and space to 'just be'.  At the heart of it all, remembering the love of my heavenly father who's love, grace and sense of humor (yes, he has one) help me marinate in life's sweet spot.'

A lot of life has unfolded since 2012.  I believe the sweet spot is sweeter because it's harder won.  It's often fleeting and that helps remind me to 'suck the marrow' when the sun is shining.  To turn my face towards it, to feel it's glow and warmth.  It's also the stay and peace that passes for the days, the weeks, the months where the sun is nowhere to be found.  There is goodness in that space too.  It's where the growing happens.  The stretching, the pulling, the humbling.  What makes the sun brighter when it returns. 

Reminds me of something else.  When my Pappaw died in October of 2012 (what is it with me & Octobers), my Granny asked me to speak at his funeral.  This is an excerpt from what I shared -

“I like the rain...”
is what Bubba said to me this morning when I was talking about today's weather. Defiantly
defending the rain, he said, "I like rain because then we get rainbows."

I spoke of rain being like the sadness we all were feeling with our loss.  I went on to talk and reminisce of treasured memories of my Pappaw.  I closed by saying -

In the days ahead, I pray God will continue to
draw us close to feel His promises...giving us peace that after "the rain", He will faithfully send
his "rainbow."
We don't have to like the rain (like Bubba says), but we can still look forward to the rainbow...

Bubba's 4 year old wisdom and adamant stance on rainbows stuck with me...

My parents were in town this past Sunday to celebrate his 9th birthday and Father's Day - a full heart day to be sure.  We tried to go to the pool later that afternoon.  We stayed a whole 10 minutes.  The rain was upon us moments after loading back up.  A true summer storm.  There was disappointment from everyone, especially Lucy who didn't even get a chance to get wet. 

Once back home, I heard myself saying as the rain came down in sheets, 'It's coming!' of an anticipated rainbow.  I continued to look for it as the storm subsided.  I can't even recall now if I saw one.  What I can know is there was joy in the storm.  Time with family.  Laughter and moments.  Lucy standing in the rain once the thunder passed.  The joy of a child in rain, always something to behold.  Birthday candles were lit.  Wishes were made.  Father's were celebrated.  The sun set brightly later that evening.  And even though I didn't see it, I'm sure a rainbow was there.

I hung the picture that Lucy painted in September 2015 - it was a rainbow.  I see it every day, all the time.  On days where the sun shines, in seasons where the rain is unceasing.  And if only for the needed moment, as predicted, when I see it I, '...feel the nudge to choose the joy when I can...seek peace amidst the 'muck' of the day in the promise of rainbows.  The restoring, hope-giving, this moment - this trial...'it's not in vain' promise the colors hold ♥'

Lucy's Rainbow

Faithfully believing through the 'harder wins', the constant choices to be made, the precious privileges to take hold of, doing the hard things, enduring the rain (even playing in it), and the waiting patiently for the rainbow to be illuminated by the sun's return...therein lies the sweet spot, the copacetic living, the joy found in the journey, in spite or because of.  And if I actually see the rainbow, just an added bonus...

Maintaining - I still love the sunshine, but I'm learning to love the rain too ♥

yes, but don't you think it's beautiful...

was the simple plea from Bubba yesterday as he proudly 'presented' his mama with these -

john's plant

In what was likely a hurried mama moment right before that, I gently said, 'but baby, it's a big weed' to which he humbled me with, 'yes, but don't you think it's beautiful?'  A 'slow the hurry pause' from me, and then, 'yes, baby (sigh) it's still beautiful.'

Pause, humility, grace, seeing things a new way - all feel like 'stopgaps' in my day.  Filling a void I often don't realize is perpetually depleting.  I read something this morning that gave me that whole range of void fillers all at once - reminding me why that weed is so beautiful.

...He handpicked your children for you. These are the children He wants us to have, and He uses them to keep us close to Him.
— Courtney Joseph, 'Women Living Well'
bubba's plant on porch

Bubba knows I love plants, he knows green is one of my favorite colors, he knows I will put almost anything that grows in water and proudly adorn a counter top or table with it.  He also knows a kind, sweet, thoughtful gesture will put needed pause in his ol' mama ♥

Like this 'masterpiece' he presented me with following a quiet time over the weekend.  He could have chose from any number of activities/play, but used his time for this...

bubba's art

He presented this with 2, hot pink rubber bracelets (from his prized collection) and the most proud smile I'd ever seen cross his face.  With likenesses only a mother's heart could love, it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever been given. 

That sentiment at the bottom is what's ringing loud this morning - my 5 year old gets it.  My children are handpicked for me and me for them.  And in spite of me sometimes, He uses them to draw me close.  He reminds me that my duty to teach and raise them is going to be superseded time and again by well-placed simple graces, humility and love I can wrap my arms around ♥

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.  1 John 4:16

eyes that see

On the cusp of Valentine's, there's something especially beautiful about this one...

beary much.jpg

It's not just that cute face smiling through the cut out heart (though that is precious).  It's the 'loving mess' casting so much endearment on it.  It's the purple, glittery heart - which sheds copious amounts of glitter during proud, 'look mama!' moments of presentation.  It's the line of grimace, haste, unsteady hand, etc of expression for the mouth.  The caveat of it, the missing eye - that part makes me smile the most.  Many of bubba & lucy's beautiful projects go partially 'blind' along the road to proud presentation. A collection of lost eyes has begun...

eyes that see - 1.jpg

I smile looking at these faceless eyes too.  They represent hard work, loving lil' hands and mishaps.  I think all of this is a pretty good summation of parenting at times.  Hasty, unsteady, hard-working, proud, smiling, grimacing, partially 'blind' - even a 'loving mess' of purple glitter in moments!

At the doorstep of the 'love' holiday, I'm thinking humbly about the love for and from my children.  In many ways, they're mirrors of the love we give them.  Moreover though, they're beacons of the love our heavenly Father must have for us.  It comes to us in our less than moments, it's beauty amidst our mess, it's pure and joyful at it's core.  It's finding and giving grace in the midst of the mishaps.  Being humbled by the greater beauty and measures of love shining through in spite of. 

hearts.jpg

So here's wishing a happiest of Valentine's to my babies, those 'thundering beats'.  Thank you for humbling me, inspiring me, bringing so much light and joy to my days - thank you most for returning and increasing my love.  My cup truly runneth over and over...

Jesus took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Mark 9:36-37