Friday, March 28, 2014

No make-up selfie - the LoBoat way

I was challenged to do the “no make-up selfie” by my sweet friend Leanne McElrath today.  Well, I love the idea of raising awareness for breast cancer, but I wanted to take it a step further.

I’d like to start by saying that to me, the face of breast cancer was always a stranger’s face. That is until 2008, when the face of breast cancer for me became this face:
 and by association, these faces:

That is my sister-in-law, Jamie.  At 38, she was diagnosed.  With two little boys and a grown up one (her husband), the cancer diagnosis turned her world upside down. After a lumpectomy, she had radiation, chemo and participated in an additional chemotherapy clinical trial.  The treatments made her very ill.  Her nails turned brown and gnarly, her eyebrows and eyelashes fell out.  She temporarily lost her (great) hair, a lot of her dignity and on many days her sense of humor (also great).  What she didn’t lose was her faith.  I know she would tell you that it was the prayers of so many (and mashed potatoes) that helped her muddle through the day-to-day awfulness.

She chose to participate in the clinical trial even though she wasn’t guaranteed to actually receive the trial medication; it was possible she could receive the placebo.  Afterward she learned that she did indeed get the powerful drug, which lessens the chance for any cancer recurrence.  She's been cancer free for 6 years!

Here’s how I’d like to raise breast cancer awareness.

Step 1:  (And this is the most important step!)  Pray for someone who has breast cancer and do it daily.  Add them to your prayer journal.  If you don’t know someone personally, ask your friends.  They’ll know someone.  If they don’t, I have a friend who was just diagnosed you can pray for.  Pray for “Lori’s friend” (God will know who you’re talking about) or private message me to find out her name.  Pray for your person's family, her husband and children, her mother and her friends.

Step 2: Get involved-either with your wallet or your time or both!  Do something.  If you’re able and feel led, donate to your favorite breast cancer research organization.  Here are a couple of links.

On The Susan G. Komen website you can donate as little as $5 online.  The home page of the website has plenty of other active ways to get involved.

Want something a little closer to home?  In Marshall County, the Foundation for Marshall Medical Centers raises money throughout the year with programs like the Pink Pumpkin Run to fund mammograms for women who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Click the link to find out how to help.

If you have a friend going through this and she's having a tough time with treatment, take her a meal, pick up some dirty laundry and deliver it back washed and folded (if you’re really good friends with her, put it away).

Lastly, never discount the power of your words.  Call, message, send a note through the mail.  Encourage someone, even if it’s a someone you don’t know well, someone whose name you got from a friend.  If you want to do something, let them know you’re praying for them, that you're thinking of them, that you care.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How baby socks hurt my heart today

Day one of my Lenten project, 40 bags in 40 days, a decluttering project, began with my odd sock basket.  I don’t let my children use the word hate, so I’ll begin by saying I LOATHE socks.  If I could find a way around them at all, I would.  I had, until just now, an entire laundry basket full of odd socks sitting on top of my dryer.  I had to reach around it every time I wanted to dry clothes.  It was ridiculous.  Once in a while, I go through it and match up what I can, but as piles do, it grows again with time and the sock-eating laundry process.

Tonight my resolve was bright and shiny and new so I set about dumping out all the socks and sorting them by person.  I was doing quite well when I came upon the first of the teeny baby socks, a blue, ever-so-soft sock with bear faces.  My youngest will be two this summer, and in the past few weeks, he has grown from baby to boy, chattering non-stop and getting a more angular big-boy face.  While I spend many moments throughout the day wishing my littles were just a little bigger (!!!), I still wish I could freeze some moments - the nice ones, not the crying and gnashing of teeth ones.  The teeny baby socks put me in mind of the teeny baby feet I used to admire and snarfle and kiss.  Those little feet that fit into those tiny socks were a slice of Heaven!  So soft and sweet and nearly edible.  I know, I’m a weirdo.

Through the 2 a.m. nursing to the 4 a.m. teething awakenings, even when mouths were crying and demanding attention, those tiny feet inspired tenderness in me.  In my worst postpartum depression moments, the feet of my eldest stirred maternal feeling when nothing else seemed to make a difference.

So when I was choosing which socks wouldn’t possibly stretch over Bryce’s ever-elongating feet, it hit me that I wouldn’t be saving any for the next baby.  This was it.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dream of another baby, I just mourn the passing of my babies’ beloved teeny feet.

I held up various pairs to Jason for inspection, presenting them, and then holding them to my heart. He wasn't quite so moved as I, especially about four socks into this process. It was the pink trimmed, lettuce-edged “I Love Mommy” ones of Sophie’s that made my heart ache the most.  I can’t explain why, but those gave me more pause.  Maybe because she’s my lone daughter, or maybe because of the time frame and my state of mind, I enjoyed her babyhood with the most leisure.  Rafe was nearly four when she was born, so he was getting to be independent, plus I experienced no depression after she was born. 

Whatever the reason, I couldn’t part with those cherished socks.  They’ll go in her keepsake box.  I also chose a pair for each of the boys, to put away as mementos of a time when teeny feet inhabited my home and my heart.