Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Thursday, January 30, 2014

People You Should Know- Stephanie Holmberg

I've been one of the luckier people I know.

I have had some pretty fun jobs that have allowed me to run across many interesting people.

A few years back, I had a short run stint with the company Welcome Wagon.  Yes, I was the Welcome Wagon lady, and it was fun.

Mainly because I met people like Stephanie Holmberg.

Stephanie was a gift from God to me.  I literally had JUST found out about Laynie, when I met Stephanie and her husband Lee.  And imagine my surprise, when Stephanie informed me that whatever we needed for Laynie she could help us with, because she had vast knowledge of special needs kids and how to get the necessary help for them.  And, mainly, because she was such a sweetheart and cried with me, just basically hours, after I found out about Laynie.

She followed me, first on Myspace, and then over to facebook, and has been a tremendous comfort, support and prayer warrior for me and mine.

Now, imagine my surprise when she messaged me and asked me to have my warriors pray for her.  I don't like hearing this stuff.  I don't like cancer hitting my friends.  Especially friends like Stephanie.

Friends, this gal is in the fight for her life, and she is a WINNER.  She will triumph over this monster and will give the glory to God the entire way.

I want you all to follow her here

Stephanie's blog

And pray for her and her precious little family non-stop.  She is now in Arkansas, undergoing treatment, and will be there 10 weeks.  I can't even imagine.   All I know is that I pray for her continually through the day, and I want all of you to add her to your fervent prayers, and let's beat this monster. Add her to all your prayer groups and prayer lists and let's put as much prayer out for her, as we did for our Laynie.  I want God so overwhelmed with prayers for her, he's like , "Dang".  Which of course, God wouldn't do, but for the sake of this, and I'm getting teary, I have to throw in sarcasm, which is what I do.....


She is fearless, and I love her, and she really, truly is my hero.

Stephanie....please know that we are standing in the gap for you.  Praying and knowing and BELIEVING that you will beat this.    You.are. loved.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

There she Blows

Warning.  If you don't like to talk about snot, you won't like this post.  Just letting you know.

I'm kind that way. 

I have been sick.  I mean SICK.  It started January 1st and it has followed me all the way to January 28ish. 

Coughing, so much drainage it was ridiculous, wheezing, uncontrollable pee on yourself coughing (How Am I Still Single?), just awful.   Couldn't work, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat....well, that's a fib, I've ate just fine. 

So anyhoo....

My brother has been at me to try this sinus rinse and clean your nose.  Really????

Waterboard myself??  Yeah, like that's going to happen.

Face it people, I still hold my nose going in the pool, because as far as I'm concerned, that route through the nasal passages is ONE WAY.

But, everyone at work was so tired of me hacking and blowing, Shane Vice finally talked to me yesterday and with his wife, Deedra, who is every bit of a wimp as I am, backed him, I finally decided to give it a try.  Because seriously, I was sick of looking like this,every second of every day
Hallie describes it as "Your brain melting out of your nose".  That was about as close to perfection in a description as anything I have ever heard. 

So, I pulled my hair out of my face, I warmed the distilled water to the perfect temperature, I added the packet of saline to the plastic bottle, I rolled my sleeves up, got the toilet ready for the throw Up I was sure to happen, and held the bottle to my nose, bent slightly over (Shane's direction), practiced breathing out my mouth.... and squeezed. 

Nothing but goodness.  My sick, clogged sinuses, filled up with that warm water, and CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.... I could breathe.  It was God in a bottle. 

Don't be wimps.  (Like me).  If you are sick and feel like a wet rag that can't breathe, just DO IT.

You will be utterly amazed at how much better you will feel (and sleep).  I am the #1 and #2 biggest wimp in the world (Because I am such a big one I take two spots), and I did it.

 Just say no to snot.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Speaking Truth

Church makes me so happy.

The last few weeks of Lifechurch, we have been walking through a series called "Small Things, Big Difference", and he's really been zinging me where my mama lives, if you know what I mean.

I don't think I ever realized how much of a role model and impact I was for my girls.  I just grew them up and hoped for the best.  But with the advent of the lovelies, I have seen first hand, what a difference a positive influence can make.

I think back to the first week of them being here, and how they acted.  They were totally out of place, and searching for anything to connect with.  It would be like going to a different country, almost.  These kids hadn't had their own bed, clean clothes, stability, peace, none of that was theirs.  Now they always had plenty to eat.  Always.  That was even different here, I don't have unlimited food lying around, we are very portion controlled for meals.  So, EVERYTHING was different.

I remember when we took our mission trip to Haiti, and Austin and I were talking as we left the airport about the conditions we were thinking we were going to see, and Austin said, "Wouldn't these people want more for their lives?  Wouldn't they work to have more?" and I said, "Who has taught them there IS more?" and he thought a minute, and he said, "Wouldn't they see it on tv?"  As we worked through the week, and Austin saw first hand, that these people live in tents made of donated jeans, and no electricity, and in villages of crude wood house, with naked children in donated men's clothes running around, that there are no tvs.  They have literally, nothing.

People are always quick to say "They could have more, this is the land of plenty" and that's very true.  We are lucky in our lives.  Most of us have had parents, teachers, friends pour into our lives and teach us how to live abundantly.  But I think of the wasteland of children and these families at the courthouse that I visit every few weeks, and the one thing that overwhelms me almost every time, is, These people don't know any better.  A poverty cycle will begat a poverty cycle. Ignorance begats ignorance. No ONE has poured into them.  When I got these children,  I asked them about their future, they both saw themselves working in a restaurant  (like mom).  LB said he would "bus tables, and wash dishes", and Lovely's hope was to be a "Cook like her mom".  That's all they knew.  Now, 365 days later, both Lovely and LB see college as a viable option for them.  They know that the sky is the limit.  Lovely wants to be a phlebotomist, (so excited when the blood drive happens), and LB wants to work at the weather station in Norman and be a weatherman.  365 days ago, this wasn't even an option for these kids.  Now, it's reality.

After court the other day, which I haven't really talked about because it's, ugh, but, the CASA for the kids, same man who put them back in the home last time....said to me, "These kids have outgrown what their parents can give them".   To bring everyone up to speed, the latest in the saga of the bio parents, is that they have, on their attorney's advice, "separated" so the children can come home.  No one is believing or buying this latest ploy, so we go to court Feb 10 and have it out.  Valentine's day could be extra special good this year, if all goes well.

Here is the thing that I'm trying to get to, though...your children watch and emulate you.  I actually spoke quite loudly and rudely,  at a lady at the movies last week...she totally cut me in line, and I sarcastically let her have it.  Lovely was with me.  I felt better in the moment, letting that stinking brat, who felt cutting was an option for her, have a piece of my mind, but as the evening progressed, I felt more and more ashamed.  Especially when I heard Lovely cut her little brother off, mid sentence, in the same exact tone and manner that I had diminished the line cutter.  What an eye opener.

Oh be careful little lips what you speak, oh be careful little lips what you speak..  There's a Father up above and He's looking down in love, Oh be careful little lips what you speak.    How many times did you sing that at church???  It never means more to me than now that I can see the difference so dramatically.

I really am going to do my best to keep speaking truth and life into these little souls that look to me for direction and wisdom.   What I really wanted to share though, is that even if you don't think your kids are watching you and learning, you are kidding yourselves.  Every thing you do is banked in the recesses of their memories, and wow, as for me, I want that to be positive.   God, give me the patience and wisdom to speak truth into the lives you've entrusted to me.  That is my prayer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

All about LOVIN' a BABY.....

I adore Laynie fans.

They come in all shapes and sizes, and come from far and near.  It always overwhelms my soul.

Yesterday, at Laynie's memorial blood drive, it was no different.  New faces, familiar faces, beloved faces, so many came to remember a tiny baby, and help save lives in her honor.  It was fantastical.

Austin Greenhaw started us off.  He came running in (right at the 3:00 starting bell) decked out in a purple sweater for the occasion, lamenting, "It's too hot for this sweater".  We love Austin.  He and his wife Kelli are part of Lacey's lifegroup, and he was one of Laynie's angel-bearers at the cemetery and has been with us for the long haul.  (Remember, we even took a trip to Haiti with him and Kelli), we love and appreciate us some Greenhaw family.

Next we had Brittany Meadors swing by to donate.  She was dragging her hand behind her due to the big engagement rock she recently acquired (Smiling).  We go back many years with Brit, she was in pom with Lacey in high school and we made a lifelong friendship with this little gal and her mama.  She graduates from RN school in May and I am so proud of her!  She also is the doting aunt of the cutest little boy in the land, and we were so happy to see this beautiful gal. 

This wonderful family rarely misses a Deaton event.  We missed the baby sis Amanda yesterday, because her daughter had the flu (Thanks for keeping that at home), but the bulk of the Cope's made it to the blood drive again this year.  We love Josh and Jamie, and their three munchkins, Blake, Jake and Brinlee.  And Beverly Cope got this family thing started back many moons ago, when her co-worker at the time, Carl Deaton, shared his grandbaby's story with her.  Beverly started following me on my blog, and got all her kids hooked, and now they are family.  Blake wins the Team Hope 5k every year (in his age division) in our "Wings to Fly" run in El Reno.  None of them have missed an event that I can remember, ever.  Someone from the Cope family always represents, and they are family to us.  Love you Copes!

Lifechurch, Midwest City was well represented yesterday, as several of the Lifekids staff came to donate.  Jessica married Lacey & Tyler, and though she says she feels like a shrimp around our very tall family, we still love her and think of her as our short family.  I won't say which person was the only fainter yesterday, but if I was saying, Chris Cunning might take that award, though I would rather just blame it on the Daniel fast he has been on for the last 20 days (wouldn't even eat the food he needed to, to overcome the dropsies at the blood drive,
because it had sugar in it), so just because he was laying backwards on the table with his feet in the air, that has nothing to do with the fact he may or may not have fainted.  His wife K.C. gave him a pep talk, telling him he wasn't really white as a sheet.  We love love love love love our church family and it was so fantastical that they all came out and donated blood for our little sweetheart's memory. 

Back before we attended lifechurch, we were members at Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene, and Pastor Nate Cook always generously donates their gym for our blood drive every year, and Lori Perry hasn't missed a drive yet.  Kristie Valtierra came this year (decked in her OSU orange, GO POKES) and I got to see her bambino, Justice (Same age as Hallie, and MAN have our kids grown up on us!)  I adore these ladies, and appreciate them so much giving their time (and blood) to our baby's memory.  Thank you ladies....I wuvs you.

Lacey had friends, miracle mommies and more friends show up to donate, and it's overwhelming to me how, even after a few years, Laynie's memory still brings people out.   Precious friends.

Speaking of precious friends,
Allison Jakkus (fellow mommy on Hal's club volleyball team)

 Church friends, (and CA alumni) Jen Bartlett (3rd year for her) and Anthony Rodriguez (first timer!)
 Linzy Hall, my trusted confidante, who gets all the secrets that I find too burdensome to carry, I always end up in her office, telling her everything, leaving her to be the one to not have to tell Lacey.  Lacey's co-worker and partner in all things Children's Hospital Foundation  (her 3rd year to donate too)
 My wonderful buddy, Amy Astle, (3rd year to donate) who runs in the runs, donates the blood, crossfit queen of the world, how I wuvs her too.

 This lady has followed me before she even knew me as a person, she knew me as Lolly, the writer of the blogs about Laynie, and imagine our surprise when we find ourselves sitting next to each other at a Sisters Conference at church and we connect the dots.  Nancy Roy has been a wonderful source of strength for me, sending me encouraging messages when I am down.  Single handedly got so much visa money for the lovelies at Christmas, it rocked (literally ) my world.   She is a precious soul, and I love her to the moon and back. 
Some friends are family, and some family are friends, and this little gal is both.  Carl's cousin, Janet Harbolt, is my sister from anotha-motha, and we laughed our faces off yesterday about dating and kids (even though she isn't really sure how old hers are) and I never get to see her enough.  I love her long time (said in best Hong Kong voice) and we will be running/walking/crawling the 5k together this year, and I am looking very forward to it.

Speaking of friends that are family......Jerad and Ashlee Ethridge, to my knowledge, have never missed a blood drive.  Preslee is a frequent flyer too, and I have loved watching this little lady grow up.  (she used to be in my Let There be Light, back when she was in Diapers)
 She's grown just a bit since the first blood drive.....

And her mama doesn't pass out anymore, in fact, she can fill a bag in no time flat.   Love us some Ethridges!!!  And I have to put a special shout out to her mama, Peggy Smith.  Peggy has always donated, in fact, this family, like the Copes, come out in full force for our drives.....

and we needed a special favor, donating blood for a special little someone last week, and she dropped what she was doing, and raced to OBI to donate for our precious little friend.  Even though OBI had evacuated the building and all the fire trucks were there when she arrived.  Which is about her luck.  She and I roll that way. Always have Perfect timing, with running into walls and door frames, tripping over lint on the floor, wearing two different shoes, and marching through Target with our barn doors open.   Those kinds of things.  So I appreciate and love Peggy.   My friend, Becky Singleton, also donated for our precious little friend, and she is another BIG Laynie fan.  Love me some BeckyBug.

Then of course, there is family that actually IS family, and Tyler and my bubba were there to lend their blood to the cause.  
 I especially love this picture of Tyler, Austin, and the OU board of Directors big shot in charge of all things CMN on OU campus, Quy.  Tyler called them the AT&T bars.  Do you see why I love my son in law?  Hims funny.

  But mostly, I just love the love that is still so evident when it comes to loving our baby.  We know first hand how important blood donation is, and we are so fortunate that so many people still come to remember our baby, and we are able to help OBI in this way.  The love and support of all of our friends and continuing to build her legacy is an honor and a privilege for us.

Cause at the end of the day, it's all about lovin' a baby, and savin' some lives. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy birthday Angel

Dearest Darlingest Angel,

It's hard for Lolly to believe that it's been 6 years since you were born.  SIX years.

I could say that in a perfect world, we'd be watching you head off to first grade, and quoting movie clips, singing with Aunt Hallie and dancing with your mom, and riding your bicycle like the wind.

Instead, we celebrate your day in praise of the time we were blessed to have you with us.  We learned patience, and unconditional love, unwavering faith, and finally, fully understand the meaning of "Hope".

You taught us that life is fleeting, and there are no guarantees, and you should wrap all your energy and love into every single day and never take one second of your life for granted. 

You taught your Lolly to fully trust in the Lord with all of my might and strength.  You also taught me that "Different' isn't bad, frightening or weird, it's just Different.   Normal is just a word, and we experienced a NEW, better normal that changed the course of our lives.  I cherish every single second our family spent in Holland.

We all carry your memory, and your story, and the things you taught us, with your miraculous life, to people every single day.   Sweet love, I still share your story to everyone I meet.  Your life mattered and changed people.

Here is the thing that I hold close to my heart.    You know you were totally loved.  You only felt love and knew only love from every single person that met you.  Never did you get a cross word, an angry feeling, nothing but pure, real, tender joy.  You, my little love, were totally cherished.

It leaves me in awe, through loving you so unconditionally, that I finally understood that God loves me that much.  He cherishes me as much as I cherish you.  I understand that because of you.

In your tiny perfection, (our own real live American Girl bitty baby) you changed so many lives.  I believe that you are still changing lives, and will continue for a long long time.

I miss you, sweet angel.  I miss your softness, your sweet, loud voice.  I miss your smiles and your fascination with your hands.  I miss your excitement when it was time for a bottle, or your yogurt.  I miss it all.   I miss watching your mommy love you.  Here's the wonderful part though, sweet angel.  Your mommy has found love again, with a man that loves her and you as much as we do.

And, I am sure, you will be a big sister in the next few years, and I assure you, NEVER will you be forgotten.  All of your sisters and brothers and cousins and 2nd cousins, and inlaws and outlaws will know your story, and know you.  I promise you that You are forever, and always my #1 granddaughter.

So, today, on the day of your miraculous birth,  I stop and thank God again for you.

Happy Birthday,  Lolly's girl.  You are so missed and so incredibly loved.

Until we see each other again,   All my love and then some,  
Forever Your Lolly