Friday, March 30, 2012


today we are talking about hair and remembering the one year anniversary of my pixie cut. for me personally...i enjoy having my hair long. it's what i do and it's what works for me. this is how i have pretty much looked for most of life (aside from a horrible haircut in 8th grade and when i decided to cut my hair when we moved to chesapeake). i wanted a new look. ha...stick with what you know and love and for me that is long hair. it is easy and i love easy. i am not one of those people that spends more than 10 minutes on their hair and that probably shows. i just like low maintenance.

 let's check out the hair stages over the last 14 months.

stage #1. these are the last pictures taken of my long hair. my comfort zone. i felt like myself with long hair and confident with it. this picture takes me right back. to that day. to the river house. to sara snapping pictures and pretending it was fun. it was fun...but right below the surface i was dying. so scared for what was to come and wondering: will ava and i look at these together or will these be a memory of a mommy she barely knew? i am thankful to was not the later.

stage #2. my hair did not fall out immediately after chemo one or two. it was gradual. a little more each day. so i decided it was time to cut it (not shave it). as the hair kept falling out and little ava not knowing any better than to grab a hold of it and take some hair with seemed that shorter hair would help with the whole i have cancer and my hair is falling out and this is sad and hard and i am insecure and nervous about how i will look as i loose my hair and i am not bold enough to shave it all of`f like some stronger women than me are able to do. so i cut it and i hated it. 

stage #3. for the rest of the fall it kept coming out gradually. in the beginning of december before heading out to a christmas party my sweet husband who could see my growing bald spots better than me said..."babe, it's time to wear a hat." thus the above photo became my look for about 4 months. hindsight is 20/20...but man i hate that hat. i often wonder why i did not just shave it all off? probably fear and insecurity.

i mean check below. that was not too pretty.

later that day i got this. my first and hopefully my last: i felt like i looked like a boy even though everyone kept telling me they loved it haircut. where i wore big earrings everyday to distract people from my short hair. disclaimer: people who have short hair i love you. you look beautiful. my friend laura has a short pixie cut and i love it and admire her. seriously. but here is thing. for me...losing my hair was significant. feeling insecure about my thinning hair and rather bloated face (thank you chemotherapy drugs that saved my life so i can not hate you but you did make me balloon up a bit) just added to the the various emotions and stream of thoughts and fears as we endured cancer. but....i like a good but...

it is just hair. i mean really when you are fighting for your is just hair. losing it because of a drug that is hopefully saving your life...come on it seems worth it. it really is only hair. it really is all about perspective. not a new and profound thought or anything but it has the ability to revolutionize your life. how we choose to see something. how we react. how we respond. how we walk through it.

it begins with perspective & cancer has given me a new perspective on just about everything.

hair is one of them. i realize it is normal to say to someone who is newly diagnosed and is preparing to lose their hair...not sure how one prepares for that...but anyways it is normal to say to them..."hey, it's just hair." although insightful and very true. it doesn't really matter. as women our beauty and our confidence and what we spend a ton of money on to color, maintain, blow dry, cut, straighten, curl, and buy fancy products to make it stay just the way we want it. just hair huh?

before you think i sound way too superficial...know this: i would lose my hair a million times over to be here today. please remember that. no matter what i say or dive into filter it all through that please. it really is just hair. but bare with me as i grow it out and the various stages may not be cutest or maybe your preference is real short or what it looked like six months. feel free to keep those thoughts to yourself as i look in the mirror most days and think two things: i hate my hair today but i am grateful to be alive.

but for a moment i want to dive into the emotional component that goes into watching your hair fall out. your little baby pulling in out without even meaning to. to when you shave it. put on a scarf. wear a wig or rock the bald head with all the confidence in the world. such confidence i did not have. i chose to wear a hat. to hide. to cover it up. in many ways save myself from what i thought shaving my head would do to my soul and to my heart. i chose to wear a hat. about six weeks after chemo ended and i was cancer free my hair had filled in enough to cut it all real short. so i did. i was nervous for people to see it. i was terrified of the response. thankfully no one said anything mean and for the most part it was okay. it is now a year later and my hair has grown a ton. thank you, Lord. long enough even for a little tiny ponytail.

my heart has grown heavy as i read more and more stories of other women and new cancer diagnoses and losing hair and the total upheaval that cancer, like an crisis will do to your life. i quickly return to those first weeks. the phone calls. the doctors. the questions. the fears. the surgeries. the idea of losing my hair. the idea of grasping onto my life so tight. maybe too tight because i thought i might lose it. i have loosened the grip these days. trying to keep my eyes on what matters and what life is really about. but in the midst of choosing joy and keeping my eyes on Christ i realized, the crisis, the total upheaval of everything...well that is what it is about. it is keeping a focus on Jesus and what you are about when things get crazy and scary and hard. we hate the unknown. i get it. it is natural. but the unknown. the surprises. the getting the wind knocked out of our sails...that is life my friends. that is the: this is so crazy and confusing and often unfair life we are living. but God is good. in the midst of it all He is good. even when it is hard to see and everything looks so grey or so stark white and black it's insane. either way we are not alone. no matter what you believe or what you are about or if you pray or if you believe in anything greater than yourself. do not miss it. do not miss the chance to make a difference. choose joy. choose life. make the decision to not waste whatever comes your way but to view it as a chance to grow. to learn. to change. to surprise yourself. i often think back to those six months of cancer and go...what? really? that was our life? this is our life?

what you do with it my friends is up to you. enjoy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

birthday wishes.

today is roma's birthday (ava's grandma and justin's mom). i always try and get ava to make videos for our family and she rarely does when she does it is a treat and i thought i would share it.

happy birthday roma. we love you. wish we were closer to celebrate this very special birthday with you.

as you can tell from the video ava is a little confused on whose birthday it actually is. she watched this video at least 30 times on my phone today and cracks up laughing herself. it's hilarious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

my sorta short lived working career.

a little background. in college i studied social work in grand rapids, mi at Calvin College and then moved to lexington, ky to be closer to my man, justin. while he finished up undergrad at UK (yes, i am older) i attended the advanced standing program (it was a fast track one year program) at UK for my masters in social work. as soon as i completed my grad work and passed my final exam we packed up a uhaul (our moving story is for another was bad. i called my dad crying. we had only been married 3 months. we were not off to a good start when it came to moving). anyways, we moved to chesapeake, va for justin to begin young life staff in august of 2007. YL interns do not make a ton of is no secret. so after being a nanny for a couple months and a lot of interviews i was finally hired to work for a therapeutic foster care agency. i was excited for my first "real" job and ready to doz3 what i for people and build relationships and advocate for those who have no advocate. i did not last long. i worked there for about 8 months. although i enjoyed the relationships with the children and our foster care families i was not very good at leaving my work at home and after many late nights and lots of tears we decided to save as much as we could and in june of that year i left my job and spent the entire summer with high school girls. doing ministry alongside my husband and that was my heart. it was a very special summer. in the fall of 2008 i started substitute teaching in the chespeapebe public schools and nannying for two families. although it was not as financially lucrative (like social worker is to begin with...all perspective i guess) i loved the flexibility that this offered and the burdens were not as heavy. it set justin and i up to do life alongside students at grassfield high school and really invest in our new community. it was a joy and i am so thankful the Lord blessed us in that time and made it all possible.

this continued up until january of 2010 when little ava was born. i tried to nanny and substitute teach whenever possible. then july came and everything stopped and sped up at the same time. our focus became our family and beating cancer.  thankfully because of you and so many other incredible people (most we have not met and how i urn to thank you all individually) who loved us when you did not have to...the potential monetary strains of medical bills and various incidentals never became a reality. thank you. thank you. thank you. we are blessed. we are loved. we were carried.

beat cancer. done and done.

spent some months healing and babysitting a little bit and then we moved.

after a few months of settling into our new home...the financial strain of me not working (for payment) became real. we have been praying forever about the perfect job for me: one that allows me to be with ava, really flexible, and i would even get paid. one night in december i sent out my resume to several social work type jobs in harrisonburg. within a week i heard from a counseling agency that provides therapeutic services to children and families in harrisonburg and the surrounding counties. after an interview where i felt confident and natural i was hired.  i am much more confident in my skills now than i was right after i graduated five years ago. i am older, wiser, a mother, and i beat cancer so i now put myself in a special category i call: i am potentially tougher than you.

this job is ideal in that it is around 5-10 hours a week and is pretty flexible and i can do most of it from home (aside from the actual therapy). i have a small case load of one and it is perfect. wonderful college girls take care of ava while i am gone so i know she is in good hands. you all make it possible. thank you. knowing your child is safe and with people that love her provides justin and i with such a sense of peace and gratitude.

so there you have it. my working career or lack of...

Monday, March 26, 2012

who would've thought...

off they went. while ava was napping i decided that we would surprise justin at the airport and even get balloons. so my friend lindsay came over quick so i could run out. welcome home balloons. check. coke zero. check. showing up at the airport unexpectedly. check. i was on it. but not i am getting ava out her seat i watch...almost like it was in slow motion the balloons blew away. i grabbed my phone to take a picture to have proof that i tried.
 there they are and ava kept saying..."go get them mommy."


it has been a busy month of friends and travels and visits. my great friend angie and her little man silas came for the weekend to see our new home and to be mom's together and run a little 5k. she is legit. she is consistent. she is real. she loves me so well and loves Jesus the most.

sweet friends. thanks to elizabeth and katie for making the trip in and for my new/friend for life, becky. how i love you all.


the run. i started the year with a nice overly optimistic goal for a girl who would not consider herself a runner or even real active for that matter. aside from keeping up with ava i do not exercise regularly. but i wanted to set a goal. so i did. half marathon in the end of april. about a month ago i let angie know that was probably not happening. it was freezing here and i was semi-depressed so running was not on the agenda. we changed the goal to: run a half marathon together in our lifetime. seems less scary for right now. angie helped to make the half marathon in nashville a reality last year. a whole bunch of friends and new friends ran for teamlibby. humbling. it was simply humbling and inspiring and a super fun weekend. because angie is cool like that she did make me feel guilty or push me...she just rolled with it. half marathon at some point in our life. so we made the 5k our mini half marathon. we acted like it was our race. our time. our adventure. all 3.2 miles of it. i kind of joke about it because 3.2 miles is not that much. but...come we celebrate stuff now. we celebrate the little things alongside the big things. so this was big. we ran our first pre-race run together on saturday morning in the ran. we ran about 2 miles. she kept me going. she encouraged me. i knew/know i am not in shape but i knew i was not going to walk any of it on sunday. so i didn't. i ran. i hate running. i was not alone. sweet angie, elizabeth, katie, and my new friend dawn (sad no picture together) we all did it. thanks for doing it. be proud.

perspective is everything. it is not a new thought or anything we have not heard before...but it changes everything. how we choose to view what is ahead. the road we are on. the valley we in or the mountain we are on top of. regardless the only thing we can ever control when life goes array and it will go array. is how we choose to see it. to embrace it. to dive into it. will we see hope, light, and joy...or...dark, deep, and scary. sometimes they are jumbled together into one. i love that freedom because that is real. that is the human heart. the constant dilemma between our head and our heart and how the two join together. i have seen this many times in my life. but yesterday as i ran in the rain with friends alongside me...i wanted to walk. even if just for a quick second. to catch my breath. i just wanted to breathe. i did not stop to walk and still managed to breathe. my mind stayed on one thing. if i can survive cancer...i can easily run a few miles. as i have reflected on running i began to see how that theme is now woven through the rest of my life. whatever i do. wherever i go. whatever happens. i have a strength i did not know i had. i have said this before and believe it so strongly. we are stronger than we think we are. you are stronger than you think you are. we rise to the occasion. even when we feel like we are sinking. we feel a lot of things and that does not mean it is true. we are not alone. the Lord is in all of it. i re-read my favorite 10 thoughts from john piper on not wasting your cancer and number ten like always stuck with me: you will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ. i can now add yet another way that cancer changed me. i want to do things that i do not believe i can do. i want to live life in a fuller, deeper, and richer way. so that is what is truth. He is strong when we are weak. He gives us everything we need even when we can't see it and we are scared and we feel alone and we not sure what is ahead. i embrace this new perspective. this new view on life. i am thankful for it. i am thankful for it the way i was the day we learned of my cancer diagnosis. is there still pain and heartache and deep wounds in cancer. YES. of course. maybe they will always be there. maybe just not so deep. i choose to embrace the unknown. the lack of control. the fact that things rarely turn out the way we want them too...but i choose hope and courage and strength in whatever may come. i am not naive. cancer may not be the biggest thing to ever happen to us. we are only 28. but our cancer story and our survivor story will be one that glorifies the Lord and i attribute my shift in perspective. my life perspective shift on cancer and on Jesus. i love that. i love that in pain we see joy and life and truth.

we are stronger than we think we are. whether it is running or working or pregnancy or singleness or death or cancer or heartache or pain or fear or uncertainty or depression or anxiety or whatever you are facing. whatever you walk in everyday. you can do it. i promise you can do it. you are not alone and i believe the Lord carries us when we can not do it one more second. He will use friends, your spouse, your mom, your co-workers, your family, your neighbors. you might even be surprised who comes out of the wood work when life gets crazy. but you are not alone. i pray we continue to be a community of people that rallies. when things get tough let's never stop rallying.

nice job ladies. we did it. no one walked. not even a little bit. we ran those 3.2 miles.
i like being on my own team. ha, that is funny. i only wore this shirt at the end for some pictures because i felt weird wearing a shirt that said team libby on it. either far we have come sweet angie. this time we ran alongside each other. i am healthy and strong and healed. God IS good.


more on my new ability to wear a ponytail to come friday as it marks one year since the pixie cut.