Wednesday, May 28, 2014

from grace...let's rally. for real.

Hi everyone! My name is Grace, and I’ve hijacked the blog for today (thanks Libby!)

I met Justin and Libby a few years ago when they moved to Chesapeake to lead Young Life at our local high school. I could spend this entire post writing about how amazing and inspirational Libby is….but if you read this, you already know that. Instead, I’d like to tell you about something she’s inspired me to do - The RALLY Campaign.

When Libby was diagnosed with lymphoma, it was the first time anyone in my life had been touched by cancer. But just a few months later, one of my close friends from high school was also diagnosed. And then a coworker. And then a friends’ mom. After every diagnosis I felt helpless –  people I cared about were fighting for their lives and there was nothing I could do to help. So I started running marathons with a program called Team in Training (TNT). TNT trains (slightly crazy) people for "endurance events" - mostly marathons, half marathons and triathalons. In exchange, the participants raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Fundraising for LLS made me feel as though I was making a small difference....while I couldn’t make my friends feel better after a chemo appointment, I could raise money to help find a cure, and to help make life a little easier for current patients.

Earlier this year, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society honored me with a nomination to run for the 2014 Woman of the Year award. Woman of the Year is a 10-week fundraising campaign in which candidates compete to raise funds for LLS.  At the end of the 10 weeks, the candidate with the highest fundraising total wins the title of Woman of the Year. While the title itself means very little to me, raising an incredible amount of money for this organization would mean the world. With the support of my team, The RALLY Campaign, we’re on a mission to raise $150,000 in just 10 weeks.

We’re 8.5 weeks into the campaign at this point, and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. I wish I could share our progress with you, but candidates are asked to keep everything confidential until the end of the campaign. What I can say is that I’ve been amazed at the generosity and support from our friends, family, and even complete strangers. The RALLY Campaign has brought so many people together to pursue a common goal: to raise an insane amount of money. We’ve hosted multiple events, asked hundreds of people for donations, and applied for countless grants and sponsorships. And now we’re asking for your help as well.

I hope you will consider joining The RALLY by making a donation in support of our campaign. All donations are fully tax deductible, but must be received before 10am on June 5th to count towards our total.  No donation is too small – every dollar counts in this fight.

Thanks in part to campaigns like this, we’ve made huge strides in the fight against blood cancers. But despite the significant progress, the fight is still an uphill battle. Every four minutes someone is diagnosed, and every ten minutes someone dies. Blood cancers are the third most fatal form of cancer in North America, and cause more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults.   

I rally because almost four years after their diagnoses, my friends are all alive and healthy. And Ava now has a little sister. I rally so more families can celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and first steps. And fewer families have to sit through chemo. I rally for the families who had to say goodbye too soon. I rally so future families don't have to. But mostly, I rally with the hope that one day, we won't need to rally anymore. Will you rally with us?

Please visit to donate, or to learn more about our campaign. If you have any questions, comments or would like to learn about other ways to be involved, please email me at

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moving ahead...

Our house sold. Our first home. Well not our first home. We've lived in 6 different homes since we were married 7 years ago yesterday. Whoop whoop for marriage and my husband who surprised me with a night away and a 10 course meal tasting. To which I was nauseous with a headache and barely ate. I asked him last night when I was starving if we could try again...maybe next year. But our first purchased home is sold and we move out in a few weeks. Store our stuff for two months and live elsewhere for June and July. Thankfully June we will be at a young life camp in MI so our housing is set and we will find a place here for July. It's a lot of logistics and storage units and movers and details. But it's coming right along. sitting in my living room after a morning of a school drop off, a dr appt, target, screaming lyla (teeth are hurting her), calling storage units, emailing the moving company, selling items on Craigslist, and catching up on the one with friends. Now I am sitting in my living room. My favorite spot in the house because of the incredible light and feeling a little paralyzed. With a growing list of things to do and needing to shower and laundry to put away...I am here. On this blog. To share a bit about where we were are at...because right now feels like a lot. Not too much. Not stressed. A little anxious. Not sure where to begin or if I should begin or if sitting here is ok. as I teared up a second ago my mind was filled with relief. This is not it. This isn't what we life for. Houses and furniture and stuff. All fine things. Houses are precious and full of life and gifts and memories. But this isn't it. Our life is about a life beyond this world. An eternity in paradise. But today I am experiencing both. The peace that this isn't all I live for alongside with the need to make plans and pack boxes and possibly buy a house in New Jersey this weekend. The two exist together and I love that. 

My desire for control has really come to the surface when the "plan" isn't precise or efficient or even known. We just keep moving and show up and do what needs to get done. In times of change and transition and moves and houses and plans...I sometimes wanna quit and pretend it isn't happening. But it is and I am in and I am up for change and adventures and surprises. I want that. I am ok with risk and uncertainty. Maybe not everyday or all the time. But I am learning to live a daily life that truly rests in trusting The Lord. Trusting him with the big stuff and the tiny details. It doesn't mean I sit back and assume it will all come together. It takes action and plans and emails and phone calls and conversations. I can handle that. But I have a peace and a trust that regardless if this process is seamless or packed with bumps and mistakes we will keep moving forward. I believe that this move is right. Not just for me or my husband or our family or young life or Rutgers or anything. It's about Jesus and He is moving and stirring in this place and we will go and be apart of what he is already doing and will continue to do. Easy and hard. It will be both and a million things in between. I believe that The Lord is going before us and in the midst of my tears and lack of motivation to pack and prepare...He is with me and that is enough. Making plans and having it all tied up neat with a bow isn't real and isn't usually how it goes. Thank goodness for the freedom.

Today I am thankful that our house sold. Quickly. That is a gift. I don't want to miss that because I am so focused on storage units and move dates and details. I think both can happen because both are happening. The Lord is taking care of one piece of this transition at a time. I want to rest in that and live out of that. One thing at a time.

If you pray and think of us this weekend I would ask for guidance as we look at homes to purchase and to rent. clarity for to both Justin and I. 

Thank you for entering into our lives. Maybe it started with our cancer journey or with lyla's birth or this move. Whatever the time or season I am grateful for a place to share and be real and know that people from all over are in this with us and the community that has been created is real and authentic. I am thankful for you and for this life and what is next...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

to the kids out there...

ava had a real simple little thing this past week. just a sleep study. nothing crazy or serious. but man it has messed with me a lot since. i guess seeing your little love all full of wires and tubes just does something to your insides. for me this was the first thing we've had to do with ava in regards to medical stuff. my mind has been tricking me all week that when it comes to my kids i am weak. i fall apart. i believe those are lies. you can be both weak and strong. i think that is possible and must exist alongside one another. i cried laying in bed with her during her study. she hated that silly tube they put in her nose because it was scratchy. but our girl. well she did it. she let them put wires all over her head, face, and chest. she did it. mostly because i think she does really like doctor stuff and because it didn't hurt. it was harmless. mostly annoying to sleep with your face covered in tape and electrodes. what an awful word electrodes is. she slept. they got the information they needed. she got pancakes for breakfast and a new stuffed puppy from target. all is well.

mostly i am writing today because our routine (just making sure she is getting all the oxygen she needs while asleep) sleep test is nothing. i mean nothing compared to those of you out there who have dealt with some stupid hard stuff when it comes to your kiddos or siblings or grand kids or friends. it does something unnatural to your heart to see children in pain. especially when they are too young to possibly understand why it is happening to them. had i not had cancer i do think i would have this outlook or maybe i would. we wont ever know. but i learned that we are capable of more than we ever might imagine we are. i know this to be absolute truth. if we were given a book with our entire journey written out we'd probably cripple under the pressure and anxiety and worry in what that book might hold. i would prefer no book. i do better with walking in stuff as it comes. not that i am good at it or anything. just that it gives us a little at a time instead of one big overwhelming book.

for those of you who have walked this road or started today (follow sweet maureen and her family. we love you, tiny john, his life and for each step ahead) or maybe next month. i am sure you could echo that in the midst of heart break and worry the Lord has provided at each step and in every way. even when it was all way too much. i lived through cancer and often continue to did we do that? seriously. how? 

in the midst of tuesday night with ava and this tiny little test my heart grew. far deeper and wider than before we walked into that room. to all of you who have walked a tougher road. not being able to take the pain away from your child. tests and tests. chemo and chemo. shots. surgery. and death. i am sorry. i hate it. today my heart is for you. lifting you up and praying that the Lord gives you more joy and strength and hope and community and whatever it is you need to sustain yourself another minute or hour or day or month or year. i am pleading on your behalf. i simply had never dealt with more than a little shot at the pediatricians office. even though ava did not experience discomfort or pain it brought something to the surface that i didn't know was in me. i mean i hoped it was. i figured somewhere inside it was there. but tuesday i experienced it for the first time. i felt it and acknowledged it and thought...this is nothing. our girl is going to be okay. but what about those that aren't or will be but first need some surgery or medicine to get them there. thankful i live in a place where that is accessible.

i was going to share a little picture of ava from tuesday but it seems trite in comparison to the battles being fought out there today. thank you for standing by your babies and making the painful decisions on their behalf and the exhaustion and stress and questions. oh, man the questions and the options. i pray you are carried today in a way that you've never felt before or even knew existed. you are not alone.

from one mother to another. you can do it. even though you don't want to and it would be easier to fall apart: feel free to do that though. you are noticed and thought of and prayed for and even if only for a second the burden and weight you carry will feel a little lighter.

psalm 138: 7-8a
though i walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever...