Be Not Afraid

7 Quick Takes

Now that I’m no longer fighting cancer , I don’t usually post on here unless I have a long, essay-like post ready to go.  I’m a bit anal (you might say more than a bit if you witnessed me re-fluffing the pillows on the couch after my husband gets up.  every. single. time.  I can’t help it!  Thanks for the those genes, Dad!)  Anyways, the thing is, I like control, and am a perfectionist, which means that I don’t post on here as often as I’d like because I’m usually not willing to post something I haven’t had time to really think about and prepare in my mind before I write it down.  But, as someone reminded me yesterday, my son is almost 2!!  2 years old!  And that’s amazing and crazy and awesome and overwhelming all at the same time.  And I want to remember all of this sweet time we are having together right now, because I know it’ll be all to hard to remember in the future.

That being said, I’m going to be joining Jen at Conversion Diary (check out her blog – it’s great!) and posting 7 quick takes every Friday.  Enjoy my random thoughts and pictures!

1.  For the first time in 3 years, I had a group of girlfriends over last night.  It was so much fun!  It hasn’t always been easy making friends between all of our moves (I’ve had eight different addresses since Mike and I got married almost five years ago-whoa!), but now that I’m a mom, I’m a part of a mom’s group that hosts different playdates and activities during the week.  It’s been great for John Paul to start learning to share (emphasis on start!) and make friends, and amazing for me to have other mom’s to talk to and bond with.  I’m so grateful for this group, and it was so much fun to have a few of the mom’s over last night.  Slowly but surely I’m putting myself out there more and more, and every time I do, I feel a bit of the protective block that formed around my heart during my battle with cancer chip away.  And that is AWESOME.

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The basement all set up for the party!

2.  It’s gearing up to be a wonderful Christmas with our little buddy.  Between walking around the house saying “ho, ho, ho” in his high-pitched voice (By the way, when does that go away?  Because I kind of hope never – though that might be awkward for him…) and sometimes resembling a Who from Whoville, this kid is getting ready for the big event in style.

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3.  I’ve been thinking a lot about grace, and how there’s really nothing better we can offer one another.  Last weekend, I was supposed to spend time with a dear friend who recently moved states away.  I miss her dearly, and was very much looking forward to our reunion.  But, being the night before my appointment to receive the results of my latest PET scan, I was stressed and full of anxiety.  When I found out that my church was having adoration after mass, I knew immediately that I needed to be there.  I could actually feel God calling me there.  And so, I nervously called my friend and asked for her understanding of my need to cancel our plans.  To my relief, she couldn’t have been more graceful in her loving response, and I was able to go to adoration that night with no guilt hanging over my head.

With a clear mind and open heart, I was given a beautiful, amazing gift of peace in my time of adoration.  One minute I was sitting there, on the verge of crying, worrying, once again, how I (and my family) would handle the news if the cancer was back, wondering how I could possibly leave my sweet boy if that was what was to be.  And then, I felt moved to pray just as passionately as I was praying for myself for the teens from the youth group around me, one in particular.  In that moment, when I took the focus off myself and put it onto them, I felt complete peace in my heart.  I didn’t have any inkling that my test results would show continued remission and even further decrease of SUV activity (cancerous activity or in my case non-harmful thymic rebound) as it wonderfully did; rather, I had a pervasive feeling that no matter what happened, God would be with us and it would be okay.  And while that may be overly simplistic, the simplicity of the message was what made it so comforting and real to me.  For if there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that the details don’t matter.  If we lose faith when the details get more complicated and messy, then our faith means nothing at all.  If we lose hope in goodness and God when faced with adversity, then we have no hope at all.  We can cry, scream, worry, doubt, fall, and falter, but if we keep believing that God overcomes all things, even if our belief is just barely hanging on by a thread, we will never be without hope and peace in our heart.

I am so grateful for how God gave me peace through the grace of my friend last weekend.

4.  And speaking of grace, my siblings-in-law showed Mike and me an incredible amount of grace over Thanksgiving weekend.  On Saturday night, right before we watched Notre Dame beat USC (!), they surprised us with a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in my name (for $300.00-wow!) and a beautiful video made up of songs and pictures of our journey over the past year and a half.  At the end of the video, they included messages to Mike and me.  These messages said kind, loving, thoughtful things about what we mean to them and how we’ve inspired them, and I was brought to tears reading their words, not only because they humbled me, but because they healed me.  I have been consumed with anger at myself for how bad of a friend and family member I’ve been to so many as I’ve struggled with bouts of sadness and fear over the past two years, and I constantly worry that I’m going to end up with no friends at all because of how difficult I find it at times to properly stay in touch and express how grateful I am for these relationships.  I am constantly striving to do better, but I falter often.  Yet, hearing how deeply I am loved by my adopted family, despite my admitted self-absorption since being diagnosed, was like balm for my heart.

Here is the lovely video.

 

5.  I’ve recently discovered that it’s one-hundred (or maybe two) million times more difficult to take a family photo now that JP is a toddler.

Evidence below.

Then.

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Now.

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(Though I do greatly prefer my real hair to my wig, Miss Holli, so that’s fun!)

6.  The other night Mike indulged my kid-like excitement about Christmas and he, JP, and I set off in our car, warm drinks for Mike and me and a chocolate muffin and milk for little buddy, to drive through the Bull Run Festival of Lights.  We cranked up the Christmas tunes, and the whole night was just lovely.  I tried to capture the LED excitement, but wasn’t very successful.

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I think I did capture the toddler excitement pretty convincingly, on the other hand.

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It’s moments like those when I think, “Is he really ours?”  We are so lucky.

7.  On Halloween, my brother moved to Switzerland, and I miss him terribly.  We’ve been so lucky to live about 15 minutes away from one another for the past two years, and especially after going through my illness together, we’ve grown so much closer.  He is a wonderful, loving person, and although I’m so proud of his accomplishments and excited for him to be living in such a beautiful place, every week I feel a little sad when I realize we won’t be getting together.

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Clete and JP right before he left.

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John Paul watches Clete’s car drive away.

John Paul really loves his Uncle Clete, and I’m so glad they’ll get to see one another at Christmas.  Uncle Clete knows just how to joke with his little bud, plus, he does the best radio announcer voice that’s made JP laugh since he was just a baby.

I love you Clete and can’t wait to see Les Miz with you in a just a few weeks!

***

This was so fun!  I hope you enjoyed my less than eloquent, rambling quick takes and that you have a wonderful weekend!

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12 comments

  1. Anna (Skoien) Lall

    beautiful pictures and beautiful words. I hope you find time for sporadic blog updates, as I’d love to read them. So glad you’re feeling so healthy and happy these days!!

  2. Sue Frantal

    You have just made the holidays even brighter. I love your blogs. So happy you are feeling good. Enjoy that little guy. Clete will be back don’t worry. Nice place to visit

  3. Karen W

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful moments! By the way, my son’s voice changed between 6th and 7th grade. He was Kurt in the Sound of Music and by the next year he had a part but it wasn’t singing!

  4. Alli, thank you so much for this lovely glimpse into your life this holiday season! And I’m so glad that that Adoration was a time of grace for you. Though of course I was a bit sad that we wouldn’t see one another, I was more happy for / proud of you for being brave and telling me just what was on your heart and what you needed to do. I look forward to seeing you next time! ❤

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