Where My Writing Journey Began

One month ago we were contacted by Cincinnati Children’s hospital about being on the news. The segment would be about a research study that SJ was a part of.

I was thrilled to be a part of the story. Actually, let me rephrase that. I was thrilled for SJ to be a part. I was a hot mess that did not do my hair or makeup. The other kids had sticky faces and mix matched clothes. Elle had no shoes, and we probably looked homeless. Since I was under the impression that SJ would be the only one involved she was all I had time to worry about that morning. You can imagine my surprise when they wanted to interview me and have all the kids on camera. Ugh.

So anyway we were on the news and got to raise awareness about this advanced technology.

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Here is a link to the clip:

http://local12.com/health/health-updates/giving-children-a-voice

And for any parents in the Cincinnati area that think their hearing impaired children might qualify and benefit from this Language Intervention Study here some more information.

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Shortly after the program taping I was contacted by Cincinnati Children’s to do a blog post about the Touch Chat software and our experience with the program. This opportunity made me absolutely ecstatic.

I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it’s special to me. As many of you know I had a little brother that passed away. He had Leukemia and received all of his treatment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

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For years that Hospital was my home away from home. I spent a decent portion of my childhood there. We celebrated birthdays and holidays at Cincinnati Children’s hospital. We were on a first name basis with the staff and they were always so loving and supportive. They even had a therapist that I called “The Play Lady”. I never saw it as therapy. In fact, I didn’t realize that’s what it was until I was older.

The Play Lady at Cincinnati Children’s was the one who encouraged me to write. I was in 2nd grade and was just starting to discover my writing voice. I had a journal that my Aunt Beth and Uncle Leon (who are both writers by the way) got me for Christmas and I would find great relief in being able to express my feelings as I filled the pages.

When my brother passed away The Play Lady encouraged my older brothers and I to write a book and illustrate it. It was called “Remembering the Good Times and the Bad” and it was held together by three silver binder rings. It wasn’t anything fancy, but there were multiple copies made and they even had one in our school’s library. To me I had written a real book. Even though I was only a little girl, in some ways I knew then that I could use my words to help others walking through similar difficulties. It was was a big part of how I coped.

As time marched on we moved across the country living in various states until I finally settled down in Dallas Texas where I met and married my husband. I never thought I would have a reason to be in Cincinnati Children’s hospital ever again. That was until I moved back more than twenty years later and had a special needs daughter. Now Cincinnati Children’s is a big part of my life again, thankfully for different reasons this time.

So when I was contacted to write a blog post for Cincinnati Children’s it was more than just writing a simple post about “Utilizing Technology to Aid in Speech Development“. It’s a chance to maybe help other parents whose children are struggling with speech, and in some ways I feel like my 2nd grade self would be proud to see that I never quit writing. It’s a full circle story where my love for the written word found it’s way back to the place where it began. That’s why this little piece means so much to me.

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Here is link if you want to check it out.

Utilizing Technology to Aid in Speech Development

 

By | March 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Meet Isabella

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For SJ’s birthday this year I thought it would be really special if she got an American Girl doll and and then we could take the doll to the American Girl Doll Hospital for hearing aids. The problem is I knew we couldn’t afford an American Girl doll right now. Normally I would just buy second hand, but even then I couldn’t find one anywhere near my price range. You can hardly touch them for under $75.

So I had this wild idea to post an ISO on some yard sale sites on Facebook.

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And the response was INCREDIBLE. Strangers were sharing my post and contacting friends and offering dolls left and right. I could hardly keep up with the outpouring of generosity!  I had one lady send me a private message saying that she was deaf in one ear and really wanted to give a doll to my daughter. She said that she would let me choose one from the three that she owns STILL IN THE BOX! I tried to refuse her offer telling her it was too generous. How could I accept such a personal and valuable gift from someone I don’t even know? She told me it was what she wanted to do and the doll needed to be played with. In almost no time at all I met up with her and gave her a huge hug while expressing my deepest gratitude.

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Then the doll waited  and waited quietly in my closet until the big day final came. The gift bag was so big we had to move it from the table to the floor so that our little birthday girl could reach inside. As SJ pulled out the doll she instantly fell in love with her new friend.

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I explained how her name is Isabelle and that she is going to get hearing aids. SJ calls her Isabella because she told me there is a girl named Isabella at her school who has cochlear implants.

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It’s only day three of having Isabella and SJ has hardly let her leave her side. Sometimes I mistakenly call her a doll and SJ will correct me saying “She is not a baby. She is not a doll. She is Isabella.”

It’s been really sweet to watch and later this week SJ and Isabella will take a trip with Mémé (my mom) to go to the American Girl Doll store at The Mall of America.

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The original idea of having hearing aids put in on the spot fizzled out when I learned that it doesn’t work that way. You have to ship the doll to the AG hospital which is not located in the store and then they will ship her back. That’s okay though, we still plan to do that and the outcome will be the same.

On top of all that I am wanting to start a non-profit for special needs girls that have hearing aids, or a wheel chair, arm crutches, a service dog etc. to be able to get a doll that they can relate to. All of these disability accessories that I have mentioned are offered through American Girl. Just think of all the dolls that need a new loving home that could be donated to girls that would otherwise never be able to have a doll that shared their uniqueness.

There is still so much that would have to happen to set up a doll sharing program for special needs girls, but I just can’t shake the idea so I do believe that it is something the Lord placed in my lap.

I want to give a special thanks to the two women that donated dolls already and for the many others that were willing to. These days “feel good stories” are hard to come by in this divisive political climate, but I am encouraged to know that there are still so many people out there whose hearts are overflowing with kindness. This whole experience has been such a blessing and I am encouraged to never stop paying it forward.

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By | March 6th, 2017|Hearing Loss, Special Needs|8 Comments

A Weary Update

I’ve been blogging for over nine years and I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve gone a week without doing a blog post. This is one of those weeks where it’s a struggle for me to type any words. So this is going to be brief, but I’ve got some BIG personal updates that I’ve been anxious to spill the beans about.

1. We are getting a house!
I have alluded to this for a while, but we are just weeks away from sealing the deal. If everything goes through we will be moving into a home of our own by the end of the month!  There are a ton more details to that but I’m gonna hold off until we had the keys in hand.
2. My dad and brother were in a car wreck.
This past Wednesday I got that call that everyone dreads. My mom never calls me at night and I was in the middle of the bedtime battle with the kids so it wasn’t a  good time to talk, but I answered the phone because “What if?”.
Me: Hello?
Mom: Has anyone called you yet?
Me: (My heart was already racing because I knew this was bad) No what is going on?
Mom: Your dad and Jeremy were in a car accident? (and she breaks down in tears)
Me: (Freaking out and trying not to hyperventilate.) “Is every one okay? What happened? Are they fine!? Oh no!”
Mom: I don’t know everything yet, but it looks like they are going to be okay…
They had borrowed a truck because there was a huge storm in our area the night before and a tree went down at my brother’s place. The truck had been running completely fine until they approached a three way stop and the brakes went completely out. They were going 55 mph and Could. Not. Stop. They flew through the intersection and with no way of stopping the vehicle  they actually went over a creek Duke’s of Hazard style and landed in somebody’s yard. They were taken by ambulance to two different hospitals for different injuries. By the grace of God they are both out of the hospital now and doing alright, but my dad has severe back pain and my brother has a broken arm which he had to have surgery to have pins put in. We are all feeling so grateful that they are alive, but they are going to have a major recovery ahead of them so please keep them in your prayers.
3. I am beginning a new series called inspiring moms.
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I know I’ve mentioned it before, but things are really getting going with the Inspiring Mom series. I’ve already interviewed two moms. One of them you may have read about from when we did postcards for Colton (which was something I promoted on Facebook). Colton’s mom Suzanne is amazing. She is sharing with us her story of having a son diagnosed with a rare disability and also what it’s like to survive a tornado. I was so moved by her story and I know you will be too. She is a warrior mama! I also interviewed my favorite granny in the whole wide world. She 96 years old and still drives and lives on her own. And then I have another interview coming up Tuesday. So the ball is really rolling. I still want to hear from more moms though. Don’t hesitate to nominate somebody or talk to me about being featured as an Inspiring Mom! And be on the look out for the first installment here in the next couple of weeks.
So that’s the latest in a nutshell.
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. Be blessed!
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PS. It’s SJ’s 7th birthday! We’ve got some fun surprises in store.

By | March 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

15 Months Old With Hearing Aids

Elle is now 15 months old and has had hearing aids for almost a month. Have you seen any of those viral videos of babies hearing for the first time with hearing aids or cochlear implants? They are always so sweet and touching. Elle was not hearing for the first time when she got her hearing aids, but she was hearing differently (and improved) so I had my video camera ready. Here is a screen shot from that video.

 

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She never cried. She just scowled. She gave her notorious stink eyes to everybody in the room. I should have known then that we were going to have a long road ahead of us.

SJ had hearing aids when she was two and they didn’t work for her at all because she had such profound hearing loss. She quickly progressed to cochlear implants. Elle’s hearing loss is not the same as SJ’s. They are both genetic and they both have the same parents, but Elle has mild hearing loss which she gets from me. She hears sounds and even speech, but she is missing out on some of the softer sounds like “s” “f” and “sh”. So the hearing aids help with picking up on the sounds that she is missing and making the ones she does hear more crisp and less muffled.

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That means that all of the girls in our family of six have hearing loss and we all have hearing devices.

 

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Elle and I have Phonak hearing aids and SJ has Cochlear Americas Cochlear Implant.

 

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Unfortunately they all three take DIFFERENT batteries. Go figure. Making sure we have batteries charged, changed, or in stock is just one of the many hurdles we face having children with hearing loss. It does get easier with time, but having a baby or a toddler with hearing aids takes a lot of work!

 

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Elle doesn’t seem to mind wearing them, but at the same time she does like to mess with them and rarely leaves them alone.

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After a week of struggling to keep them on we went to Hanna Andersson in the mall to get some pilot caps. These hats aren’t made specifically for hearing loss, but the pilot cap is perfect for keeping the hearing aids on while the child is still training.

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The problem is, Elle can still get the hearing aids off even when she wears the cap. So it may not be the ultimate solution, but it’s a significant help. She messes with the hearing aids a lot less, when she is wearing the pilot cap.


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We have had some VERY scary close calls with lost hearing aids in the past month. I think I am going to look like I am 90 years old by the time Elle is trained to wear them. That is how stressful it is. I compare it to having a child that has to wear socks every waking hour, and each sock costs a thousand dollars. Now if you are anything like me your baby kicks off or takes off their socks all the time and they inventibly get lost. It’s annoying when it’s $2 socks, but with hearing aids it’s ulcer worthy.

Time marches on though and I know that we will get through this. Elle still isn’t really talking much yet and is considered delayed at this point. I am sure all of this effort will be worth it in the long run.

As I type this Elle is napping in the other room so she is not wearing her hearing aids, but she did manage to loose one (with the cap on) before she went to bed so I guess I’ll go search the house. AGAIN. Wish me luck. toddler-with-pilot-cap

By | February 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

When Barbara Met Rene

Today is the last day of the How We Met series and for this piece I had the pleasure of interviewing a  friend of mine whom I admire so much. Here is the story of how Barbara met Rene.

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Barbara grew up with the call of God on her life. She always had a heart for the lost from as early as she could remember and by the time she was in High school she yearned to do missions work internationally. One day after a missionette’s Bible class she overheard some of the elders of the church discussing sending a team to Mexico to build a church and Barbara could hardly contain herself.

I want go! I want go! she pleaded with her parents in the back of the car on the way home from church. Her parents agreed that she could go on the mission’s trip, but she would need to find a way to come up with $700 in order to pay her own way. Barbara prayed and saved every last dime of her babysitting money (which was $3 an hour at that time). Eventually the money trickled in confirming that this was God’s will.

Barbara loved every bit of ministering in Mexico, especially working with the children. One day while sitting down for a meal with the team there was a knock at the door and that’s when she saw her future husband Rene for the first time. She didn’t know if it was the hot temperatures, exhaustion, or maybe it really was the Lord that put a halo around that handsome young man. Rene was there to translate for the Americans and Barbara was immediately smitten.

They hit it off as friend right away, but their time together was short and Barbara had to return back to her everyday life in Cincinnati. On the way home she cried, and no it was from not teenage infatuation, it was because she had fallen in love with the country and had a deep desire to minister to the people there. She knew from that first visit that God was calling her to be a teacher and to work with Children and that somehow it included the Mexican people.

Every year she returned to Mexico and became more dedicated to the church there. She also learned more about Rene and his love for Christ. They both continued on with their lives separately, but they maintained a friendship that grew with time.

On Sunday nights they would talk for one hour and at that time it cost a dollar per minute for long distance calls. So Barbara would pay her mom $60 every week. There were often a lot of complications because of the language barriers and misunderstandings. For example when it was Rene’s turn to call Barb, she waited anxiously beside her phone and after 15 minutes went by she began to get nervous. Did he forget? Has he moved on? were some of the thoughts going through Barbara’s mind. She picked up the phone just to make sure it was working and as she heard the dial tone her heart sank. An hour later she gave up.

It turns out Rene was doing everything in his power to make contact with his one true love. However he did not have a phone so he had to go to neighbor’s houses to beg to borrow theirs. When that didn’t work out he desperately searched for a pay phone, but with no success. His heart broke when he couldn’t reach Barbara. He was starting to feel like she was the one that God had chosen for him. He couldn’t imagine life without her.

When Barbara was away in college about 7 years after they had first met they found themselves in a relationship whether it was acknowledged out loud or not. They both began to pray and seek God about marriage and soon after that Rene came to the states for a visit.

Barbara says about that time together “All I know is that I asked God to show me something… to give me a confirmation, and he did.” As they talked about their dreams and their love for the Lord their hearts were bound together.

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A year later after they finished college they became engaged. Barbara worked three jobs and paid off all her debt so that she could move to Mexico. The next step was marriage, but the question was where?

If they married in the states they would have to worry about a fiancé visa and some other legal matters and Barb still felt like Mexico was where God had called her. So she sacrificed her dream wedding surrounded by friends and family to pursue the vision that she always had in her heart for Mexico.

A few people came to Mexico for their Spanish ceremony. Barbara still wasn’t quite fluent in Spanish. In fact, for the vows you respond with “I accept” only instead of saying I accept Barb said “I except” to this day her family gives her a hard time that she was commited, but with exceptions.

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For their fist years of marriage they served in Morelia Mexico and taught English at Christian schools. Barbara was speaking Spanish like a native in no time. They eventually felt like they needed to go back to America though. So they sold everything in order to cover the costs of the immigration process. When they crossed the border they had nothing but two suitcases and a Chihuahua. Then in 2003 they started a Spanish speaking church and began bilingual community outreaches in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area providing medical and practical relief for those in need.

For their 10 year anniversary everything came full circle as they renewed their vows. This time the ceremony was in english and they were also able to dedicate their two children that they had recently adopted from Mexico.

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Their heart will forever be connected to God, to each other, and to spanish people of Mexico.

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Barbara Roche has a BS in elementary education and although she isn’t currently teaching in a conventional way she homeschools her two children Miguel and Lesly. Her and her husband Rene Roche are the pastors of Iglesia Herencia Divina a spanish speaking ministry of Heritage Fellowship where they have people from over 14 nations represented in their congregation. They lead many  bilingual community outreaches on a weekly basis including going into men’s and women’s prisons. Barbara and Rene just celebrated their 16th anniversary.

 

By | February 17th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

When Heather Met Blake

Today is the 3rd installment of the How We Met series and the guest blogger is Heather Hollander sharing how she met her true love. 


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“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Prov. 16:9

With the fluorescent lights above me and the white tile floor below my feet, I stood in the local Santa Cruz, California K-Mart with a few of my girlfriends when I first met Blake Hollander.

He was with a group of guys, one of whom I knew who introduced the group he was with to the group I was with. I had just gotten off a plane from NC hours earlier, and I along with the others needed a few necessities as we prepared for our summer away from home in this new and very interesting part of the country. I remember shaking Blake’s hand, and to me, in that moment, he was just a boy. He was a boy that I didn’t really want to have much to do with, just like I didn’t want to have much to do with any of the boys that I would be spending the summer with. 

I had just recently finished up my 4th year of college, but after the many changes in majors and concentrations, I had a whole other year of college waiting for me in the fall. (5 year plan-ers unite!) The summer before my last year of college was beginning, and it was to be spent in a beautiful part of California. I came alongside dozens of other college students from all across America hoping to grow in their walks with the Lord, serve in a place that was not their own, and bring glory to Jesus through summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru).

I went that summer with the intent to grow, serve, and pour into the other girls on the trip, and to  pay no mind to the boys. I had walked through heartbreak and had been distracted by boys before, but that was not going to be the case in Santa Cruz. I knew my purpose and I had a plan, and meeting a boy who I would marry was not part of that plan. 

Interestingly enough, even being in Santa Cruz that summer was not exactly my plan either. I had originally thought I would spend the summer overseas in Russia, where I had been the summer before (and where I had met the guy who introduced Blake and I in the beginning of the story), but then decided instead to go on a stateside mission trip. My plan was to go to Russia long term after I graduated, so, since I knew I would surely be back there soon, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do something different and serve in the U.S. instead. But then I changed my mind and plan all together and decided I’d just stay home for the summer! You know, since I knew I was going to be heading to Russia long term and all, I thought spending time with my family and church that summer would probably be best. What I didn’t know was that halfway across the country there was a boy in Oklahoma that had also decided against going to Santa Cruz for the summer too. He had planned to go, but he changed his mind. 

He wasn’t going to go. I wasn’t going to go. But somehow the Lord moved, and instead of spending the summer in our respective towns as we had planned, we ended up in California. 

God had a different plan for us. 

And there we were, on June 8th, 2004 shaking hands and meeting one another for the first time at K-Mart in Santa Cruz. 

Knowing the backstory definitely points to the miraculous nature of this moment and the rest of our story. If not for God directing our steps we would have never met. I would not have noticed his character and his servant’s heart. I would not have prayed and prayed for the Lord to guard my heart as his character and person more and more resembled the type of man I could only hope to marry one day. I would not have said yes to his invitation to coffee and I wouldn’t have heard him declare his hope to pursue me. I wouldn’t have been shocked at this declaration, because surely someone like him could never be interested in someone like me. I wouldn’t have felt like simultaneously the luckiest girl in the whole world and the saddest human on the plant when we had to say goodbye to one another as we left California to head back home. And I wouldn’t have said yes as he knelt down and asked me to be his bride nearly 7 months after thinking of him as “just a boy” when we met. 

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We had our plans, but God directed our steps, so clearly to one another. 

Less than 365 days from our first meeting in K-Mart, we said “I do” in what can easily be called the happiest day of my life.

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Blake is my favorite person on this Earth, and he was not my plan. Our life and our marriage was not my plan, but I will be forever grateful that he was God’s plan for me. 

This coming June 4th we will celebrate 12 years of marriage, and the beginning of our story fits so well with the rest of our story. Much of our life has worked out not at all as we had planned…

We went to seminary in Wake Forest, NC instead of going on staff with Cru, which had been our plan. We have 3 children, all of whom the Lord blessed us with while we were not planning for them. We prayed about and planned to move out west to do ministry, but the Lord planted us in upstate South Carolina instead. And, I’m homeschooling those 3 kids of ours…definitely NOT what I had planned. 

Interspersed in the happy unplanned moments have also been unplanned hardships, difficulties, and tough seasons as well. It has not always been an easy road, but it has been a good one. God’s plan for our life and our marriage, through the good and the bad times, has shaped us and has certainly been used to sanctify us.

We have learned deeper how to trust the Lord, how to forgive and repent, how to communicate, and how to support one another. We have learned time and time again that God’s ways are not often our ways, but He is always good and always to be trusted.

So now, as I sit and overhear my Blake read a story to our kids before bed, I take in this moment and I thank God that He didn’t give me what I had planned.

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This beautiful, unplanned life is more than I deserve, and it gives me hope that whatever we may face in the years to come will be for our good and God’s glory…

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heather-headshotHeather is in love with her bi-vocational pastor husband, still sometimes shocked that she’s a homeschool momma to her 3 kiddos, and amazed at the grace given to her in Christ. With an M.A. in Christian Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, she writes about seeking truth, goodness, and beauty, and clinging to hope in Jesus in midst of all life can throw our way. Come connect with this Jesus loving, unlikely homeschooler on Facebook (heatherhollanderwrites), Instagram (heatherannhollander), Twitter (heatherannholla), and currently at www.what-is-perfect.com.

 



By | February 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

When Emily Met Colton

Today’s guest post is by Emily Williams sharing about how she met her husband Colton and the scary, intense, but beautiful journey they have been on ever since. Here is day two of How We Met

 

Colton and I first met before I knew we had actually met. I went to Northern Kentucky University and… he didn’t. Colton was on campus to hang out with friends and filled in on the worship team at our Baptist Campus Ministry, where I ran sound. The funny part of the whole thing is that I ran sound for the band every week, but it took me probably about a month to see him as a human behind his guitar. He had that early-days-Justin-Beiber-emo-swoop haircut going on. You know what I’m talking about. One day, I looked up from the sound board and saw a pretty cute guy. He had freshly cut hair. I thought to myself, where’d this guy come from?
Long story short, a few weeks, maybe months, later I had him help me lead worship for a worship night at my church and I made my move.

We were going out to eat as a group after and I pulled my car up next to his as he was loading all his gear in and said, “We might as well ride together”. Boom. And the rest is history. That’s how you do it ladies. 

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Fast forward about a year and a half, we got engaged, fast forward another five months and we were married.

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Three months into marriage our world was shaken when Colton lost his job at a creative ad agency.

At that point he decided to go out on a limb and do his own thing, so he began working on a personal brand. Two months after that, December of 2014, Colton was diagnosed with StageIII Esophageal Cancer, AKA. a cancer that chain smoking, binge drinking, 70-year-old men typically get. It was, conceivably, a shock to us all. Everyone except for my hypochondriac husband who said, “I told you so” as soon as he came out of anesthesia and found out the news.

The next eight months Colton went through radiation, chemotherapy, an Ivor-Lewis Esophagectomy (basically gastric bypass), and another round of chemo.

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At that point, his doctor’s cleared him and wanted to see us back every three months for scans. When we came back for his six month scan the cancer had recurred and metastasized in his leg, shoulder, and lymph nodes in his chest and vocal cords.

When the cancer recurred, his oncologist suggested we look into alternative medicines that were coming out. He explained that he couldn’t get his hands on a lot of them yet, but gave us references for out of state hospitals and treatment centers to look into. After much research, we landed on Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, New York. 

We dropped everything back home and through, what we believe to be, God-ordained connections, we were able to stay in the city for next to nothing for the first five months. When we realized it was going to be more of a long-haul treatment, we decided to go ahead and rent a place we could call “home-for-now”.

Since arriving in New York, Colton has received radiation and two different regimens of immunotherapy. When the first regimen didn’t work out as hoped, his NYC oncologist told us about this new combination of drugs that had just come out. She told us that it was very unlikely that insurance would cover it, and if it didn’t, it would be around $10,000 every time Colton would sit in the chair to get treatment, which is every other week. The oncologist gently suggested us return to chemotherapy which, at this point, would be a palliative option. That was all we needed to hear for us to make the decision we were not going back to chemo without a fight. We told her we wanted her to try to get insurance to cover the new drugs. She said she would, but to not get our hopes up.

Time went by slowly as we waited to hear if insurance was footing the bill. Three weeks later insurance called Colton to let him know that they were going to cover the new drugs that were requested, they also said they were going to give a little extra coverage for some other things coming out “to give his oncologist more tools”. If you’re familiar with insurance AT ALL you know this is not normal. At Colton’s next appointment, the first thing his doctor said as she walked in was, “I’m getting your insurance”.

After three months of the new immunotherapy drugs, it was time for the dreaded PET scan to see if any progress was made. November 9th we found out that these new drugs were shrinking each spot of cancer left in Colton’s body and some had even disappeared! It was then that we found out that these new treatments were so new that there is no studies to show what happens if taken off of them, so for now, Colton is meant to stay on them until further notice.

As I write this, his next scan is coming up next week, February 6th*. By the time this blog is posted we’ll hopefully already have the great report that we’re hoping for.

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Wrapping this post up, I’m realizing that there’s more of a play-by-play of a cancer story than our relationship, but to be brutally honest, I feel like the last six months has been the first time we’ve been able to somewhat enjoy each other’s company without him feeling guilty like he’s “putting me out” or me fighting the feeling and title of “caregiver”.  Moving forward we’re looking to what’s ahead, remembering what and who brought us here, and enjoying where we’re at. 

 

 

emilyEmily Williams is a manager and lead barista Cha Cha Matcha in New York, New York. She also blogs at www.Cure.ColtonWilliams.com Her husband Colton Williams is a freelance videographer. You can be mesmerized by his work at www.ColtonWilliams.com .

 

 

 

 

* Subscribe to www.cure.coltonwilliams.com for updates on Colton and Emily’s cancer story and to read the results of the most recent testing.

By | February 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments

When Amber Met Alex

Welcome to the How We Met Series on MessyMom.com. Let’s jump right in and welcome Amber Kaufman as today’s guest writer sharing how she met her husband Alex. 
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Alex and I attended college at Cincinnati Christian University. He was majoring in Missions and I was majoring in Deaf Studies. During our Sophomore year, we took a public speaking class together. I remember thinking he was cute but it didn’t really go past that because he did’t have long hair, piercings and tattoos. One day, he gave a how-to speech on changing a bicycle tire. He stood there at the front of the class, making small talk…and then he started rolling up his sleeves. I thought “OH MY WOW. He has nice forearms!” I was (maybe) a little more interested in him after that lol.
Weeks past and one day we needed up in a random discussion with friends about reading the Bible from beginning to end. I told everyone that I was trying to get through it but couldn’t because I was stuck in Leviticus.
I then made the huge mistake of saying that Leviticus was extremely boring and he wasn’t having that.
“Leviticus is full of good stuff!” he said. “Look. You meet me here everyday, and we will read it together. I’ll help you get through it. ” I wasn’t at all excited about his proposal. But I did it and he kept his promise. Every day I spent with him, my heart grew more and more fond of him. He made Leviticus interesting and I loved that. I remember feeling sad once we reached the end of the book. After we read the last chapter, we both kind of sat there in silence.
Then, he looked at me and said, ” So….you wanna read Numbers together?” I smiled and said yes. A few months later, he took me out on our 2nd date. Alex wasn’t the type of guy that I would usually go for. I remember being up at night walking around my room trying to figure out why I liked him. He was clean cut…not a single piercing (to my knowledge) and didn’t have any tattoos. HA HA! I wasn’t even sure if he liked me that much. He was a pure country boy and I am somewhat of a city girl. Still, I found him very intriguing. After agreeing to the second date, I started wondering if he would want to make it “official”.
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We went to a park in Price Hill, walked around and talked (I still to this day love talking to him). We sat on a bench and he put his arm around me, smiled real big and said, “You wanna be my girlfriend?” He was all up in my face too! Ha ha! I was so shocked at how sure he was of me. I smiled and said “Are you sure?” I remember thinking “This isn’t happening!” He assured me that this is what he wanted and I told him that I would love to be his girlfriend. We dated for 10 months. 10 months of getting to know each other and becoming more and more inseparable. 10 months of learning about each other cultures and embracing each others differences.
Our families grew closer, we had good times and bad times. We leaned on the Lord as we worked through struggles and built each other up.
The hardest part of our 10 months of dating was our time apart during the summer. It was 2006 and he had to go overseas for his degree (remember he was a missions major). He went to Africa for 3 months. I was torn because I knew I wanted to be with him but I also knew I wasn’t called to live overseas which is something he talked about often. The longer we were apart from each other, the more I knew that I didn’t want to live my life without him. I just started to pray and ask the Lord to help. I only heard from him a few times while he was there. The last email I got from was my favorite. He told me that he missed me and loved me and that the had already changed his major from Missions to Biblical Studies. “I’ve really been thinking about our future while here. I’ve been thinking about saving my money for a house and a couple rings *wink wink*”.
After reading that, my jaw hit the floor. I was so ready for him to come back! He did, safe and sound! We were once again inseparable. For 3 months, we looked at rings and talked about marriage. One day, I saw him coming back to campus wearing khakis and a sweater. I thought “Aww. he went and got my ring today!” I asked him why he was so fancy (for Alex, that is fancy) and he told me that all his other clothes were dirty and was behind on his laundry. Ha! Then, on a rainy day in November, he asked me to go out with him. I noticed he was wearing the same outfit that he wore when he “was behind on his laundry”. We went to dinner and had a great time. I was thrown off because he didn’t seem nervous or anything. I began to think maybe this was all in my head. But I knew something had to be up because he was wearing his “fancy” clothes! We drove back to campus (now I’m really thrown off), he got out and opened my car door like always. He took my hand,  got down on one knee in the rain and asked me to marry him. I smiled and took the ring from him so I could look at how beautiful it was. He gasped and said ” Hey! You can’t just take it from me! I have to put it on!….And, is that a ‘Yes’?” I gave the ring back, smiled and said “Yes!”
We have been married now for 9 years. About 2 years in, we thought it would just be amazing to have a big family. The Lord impressed on us to become licensed foster parents and before we knew it, we welcomed our first child into our family. We now have 7 children.  Five adopted: Lia-9, Eli-7, Ziyon-4, Naomi-3, Ezra-1 and our two foster children are 6 and 4.*
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This isn’t at all how we thought we would be living our lives at 31 and 32 years old! We wouldn’t change it for the world! We are a happy learning and growing together. Alex is my best friend; my husband for life! After only dating for a few days, we were walking and talking and he stopped and looked at me, I’ll never forget it, and said “I dunno what’s going to happen here. But I promise you, no matter what happened, you WILL be a better person for having known me.” At first I thought “Well who does this guy think he is?!” But you know what? He was right.

 

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Amber is the Founder and President of a non profit organization called Reflect Worship Arts Collaborative (RWAC). RWAC is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation that exists to reflect tJEsus and provide free-of-cahrge instruction, ministry and /performance opportunities to anyone in the Greater Cincinnati area who wishes to explore and use his or her creative talents to glorify God through collaborating with the Hoy Spirit and fellow artists. Through the arts, they seek to reflect the Lord’s glory (2 For. 3:18), to minister to the heart of Jesus Christ, and to lead others into a life-changing relationship with him through the power of the Holy Spirit! Their website is www.reflectwac.org. RWAC can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Amber and Alex also have a vlog on Youtube where they share their heart about foster parenting, family, adoption, and more.

*The foster children have disguised faces because they cannot show their faces online.
By | February 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|15 Comments

How We Met III

Valentine’s day is tomorrow and for Messy Mom that means it’s time for the How We Met series.

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This will be the third year I get to highlight some inspiring and unforgettable love stories. We have an amazing and diverse group of participants this year whose stories are all truly testimonies of God’s hand in our lives; his perfect destiny is far above anything we can dream up on our own.

I’ll go ahead and introduce the couples that will be sharing their stories this week so that you can see what we have to look forward to.

 

Amber and Alex

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I don’t want to ruin the fun by sharing how they met, but let’s just say it involves the book of Leviticus. Sounds romantic right? Just wait, it’s so stinking cute. Alex and Amber are such a perfect pair. They have a huge heart for adoption, foster parenting, and worship through the arts. They are truly an example of what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ. You do not want to miss their beautiful story.

 

Emily and Colton

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I was thrilled when NYC’s barista extraordinaire agreed to write a guest post for me. This couple’s story is incredible. I am not exaggerating. You might laugh, and cry, and want to be their best friend after you catch a glimpse of what God is doing in Colton and Emily’s life.

 

Heather and Blake

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Heather is a fellow blogger who writes about her unlikely journey as a homeschool mom. Homeschooling was never on her radar when she imagined her life as a mom, but God completely hijacked her plans. A similar thing happened when she first met her husband. You can read about this adorable couple on Thursday.

 

Barb and Rene

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The All American church girl falls for a hispanic translator in Mexico. These two have the sweetest story and a really powerful ministry, so hurry back on Friday to read all about that.

 

I want to give a big thank you to everyone who is participating in the series this week. It is going to be awesome, and if you want to check out some of the previous love stories from the How Met Series you can look back to How We Met II in 2016 and the original How We Met from 2015.

Come back tomorrow as we kick things off with Amber and Alex and their super fun gang.

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By | February 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments

January Pinned It Spinned It

When I shared my 10 goals for 2017 I said I wanted to participate in the Pinned It Spinned It Challenge twice a month.

So far I am making good on this and I have really enjoyed piecing outfits together from the inspiration thrown out by the Pinster Sisters. Here is a really quick look at my spins for January.

 

Floral Top

This first one is a terrible photo! Thanks a lot dimly lit living room and camera phone set on timer. It was also a really dumb day to try to dress up. I remember changing clothes in the afternoon because I was cleaning the stove and I didn’t want to get my light colored pants dirty. You win some, you loose some, but at least I tried.

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Army Green and New Purse

This was my favorite outfit of the month.

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The jacket and the purse were Christmas presents from J. I needed a new purse badly and after a lengthy search I found this leather bag from the Fossil Outlet and I just knew it was “the one”.

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Leopard Print

One of my best friends was clearing out her closet and asked me if I wanted any of the clothes she was getting rid of. Being the second-hand free-cycling queen that I am I didn’t even have to think about it. This leopard print cardigan was one of the items I inherited and it worked great for this particular spin. I momified this combination to be a little more casual and comfy.

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Sweater Season

From “momified” to “winterized”. I love the look on the left, but the day it was featured as a Pinned it Spinned it piece it was freezing outside. So I added boot socks, boots, and a winter hat. pinterest-sweater

So far I have loved this challenge. I haven’t been able to do it as much in February because it has been so busy, but I am still keeping up with the goal of twice a month.

If you ever want to join in on the pinned it spinned it weekly challenge you can follow the pinterest board oAmy  and Jamie and then post your outfits on Instagram with #pinstersistersfebruary2017 (or whatever month you are participating in) . And if you don’t already follow me, but you want to connect on social networks then by all means follow me at instagram.com/messymom or pinterest.com/the messymom, or twitter/themessymom. I love meeting new friends so be sure to say hello!

By | February 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments