Monday, April 21, 2014

I've Been Playing Candy Crush

Yes, I fell into the black hole that is Candy Crush. That is my excuse for being gone for so long! I've finally reached a point in the game that I have to wait too long before another level opens up; so, my addiction has been wavering!

Enough about that. What has the Brew Crew been up to? Well, we had the privilege of sharing our blessings from the end of January until about a week and a half ago. Family friends of ours while waiting for their new home to be built, had temporarily taken up quarters in a small travel trailer. Mark and I suggested that they use our spare bedroom, and we would make room for their kid-o's. They finally took us up on our offer! So, we went from a family of 4 to an family of 9 really quick! When the children (our two, Austin and Abi, and their 3, Cameron, Remington, and Lyla) went to bed, it just seemed like a nice evening hanging out with friends! When all the children were awake, things at times became more complicated. But for the most part it was a blessing. It was a blessing for me, and a blessing for Austin and Abi. I often reminded them of a verse that God put on my heart shortly before they moved in: Hebrews 13:16 Don't forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God. Before they moved in, other friends questioned our sanity. They asked if we were scared to lose our friendship with our friends. In the end, our friendship was not only intact, but even stronger than it was before! Some of the highlights from our 3 month slumber party:

 Lyla LOVES Austin. Every morning or any time we would return home, she would make a running leap to hug him!
These two, Abi and Remi, had their days when they were BFFs or mortal enemies! Sometimes within 5 minutes!
Mark and Javier. These two kept us entertained nonstop!

Lyla helping Mark build a shelf for my laundry room. That didn't work out, but Lyla was so excited to help!!

Lyla, Abi, and Remi having a tea party with a tea set that was my Grandmothers.

Our family made sure to clear our calendar for Winter Jam this year! We also helped transport some of the youth from our church, as it was also a youth group event. Some of our favorite bands were there: Lecrae, Tenth Avenue North, and Thousand Foot Krutch to name a few!
Austin waiting to enter the concert, rocking his blue Mohawk!
One of the youth worshipping!

Abi turned 10 on March 11th this year! Her request for a birthday party this year was to have a few friends over for a spaghetti dinner, Paris style, and then to have her friends spend the night. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away on Abi's birthday, and his funeral was the morning after her party. Abi was a good sport, understanding that sometimes things don't work out the way you always plan for them to. She did get her fancy spaghetti dinner, and was happy enough with that!

Even the Eiffel Tower is edible!

Abi and (her very best friend!) Luke!
We have really slacked on the field trips this year. We tried to make up for it this spring. We took a field trip to the George Ranch where the kids got to see what life was like in the the 1800's.

Here, Austin and Abi did an impression of old people that started with "Back in my day sonny..."

Abi was most curious to see the inside of ever building on the ranch!
Field trip number 2 has become kind of an annual trip. We packed a picnic for Memorial Hermann Park, which Mark was able to join us for this year, and then went to the zoo for one of their free admission days! I made sure to pack the camera because I wanted to take spring photos of Austin and Abi. I pulled up some spring pics of the kids from the last 4 years to see how much they've grown!!
Spring 2010

Spring 2011

Spring 2012

Spring 2013
Spring 2014

I love these two with my whole heart!
She is so beautiful!

And he is one handsome fella!
Then we went to the zoo!
His personality makes me laugh!

Silly, silly kids!
I love this picture. Abi's face is priceless!!!
Of course, I can't forget Easter. This year we didn't give the kids Easter Baskets. I've always dreaded giving them baskets anyways because then the holiday, like Christmas, slips away from the true meaning of what we are celebrating. I don't want them to look forward to Easter because they get more STUFF, but because they can have new life! They have a way to heaven because Jesus died and then rose again three days later! We did give them one item each, and they seemed okay with that!

Easter 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One Year and Counting: What a Journey It's Been

On this day one year ago, I received some life changing information. For a few months I had serious pain in my feet. I thought it was maybe the new shoes I had just purchased, because breaking new shoes in can be painful! I also had been struggling with the vision in my right eye, which had been diagnosed as a lazy eye since I was a child. I assumed that the constant fatigue was because of my weight, which in turn lead to brain fog. I had also been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis which brought on constant headaches, and carpel tunnel syndrome when I was in the military.

 I went in for an MRI of my head early in the morning, and that afternoon received a phone call from my doctor. The radiologists had confirmed what my doctor suspected, I had multiple lesions on my brain. My doctor directed me to the hospital as soon as possible to start a high dose of steroids. Before they could confirm a diagnosis of MS, they had to run more tests because there is no one test that can test for MS. While I was in the hospital, they tested for Lyme's Disease, Lupus (two diseases I had previously been tested for in the military), and few other diseases. They did two more MRIs, this time of my neck and spine. I had multiple lesions in both. They did a spinal tap to test for Oligoclonal Bands. If four or more O-Bands are found in the cerebral spinal fluid, then it is consistent with a diagnosis of MS. I had 12 O-bands.

 You see, the lesions in my brain had been caused by my own immune system attacking the protective coating around my nerves. I was in the hospital for 5 days, during which I researched as much as I could about MS. I learned that it is a very individual disease. It effects each person differently, no two cases are the same. The National MS Society defines MS as: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. There are four different types of MS. I have Relapsing-Remitting MS.

I've been on Copaxone, a daily injection, for almost a year now as well. Some of my symptoms have subsided. My vision, the biggest concern of my doctor, has been doing well! My feet only hurt when I've stressed myself out, over worked, or am overheated. The two lingering symptoms are fatigue and brain fog. I get tired so easily, my memory stinks, and I sometimes have a hard time processing information.

I have fears of the disease progressing. Because MS in unpredictable, what's to stop it from ravaging my health in the night. I fear that I will lose the use of my legs and arms. With each ache and pain and tingle, I wonder, 'Is this it? Is this the last day I will walk?" I need a daily reminder that God loves me. That He said : So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) I have nothing to fear, weather I am walking or rolling, God is with me. I can lean into Him, and He will give me the strength I need to make it through the journey. He is my source of Hope, Joy, Strength, and Peace. I hope that there will one day soon be a cure for MS. I am joyful that I am able to share God's love for me, and His people, through my journey. I am strengthened by His unconditional love for me. And I can be at peace and say, 'It is well with my soul' because I know that I have an eternal spot in Heaven praising His name. There will be no more diseases, no more pain, and no more sorrow.