Tuesday, March 30, 2010

we've been...

surgery having
tummy itching
(due to a reaction to EKG electrode adhesive)
wagon delivering
(in loving memory of JD)
soccer jersey wearing 
(3 days in a row, as a matter of fact)
train track building
slide going 
(or 'weeeeeeeee', as Cate calls it)
(well, just Cate, anyway)
picture taking.

and it's been good.
Happy Spring, my friends!

Monday, March 22, 2010

surgery tomorrow

At 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, my sweet baby girl will be in surgery.
They're implanting a loop recorder which will monitor her heart.
The surgery itself is pretty minor;
but it is my baby girl, 
and it is taking place at the hospital in which JD received all of his care, 
the hospital in which JD took his last breath.

I have a feeling that most things about tomorrow will be pretty hard.

We'd appreciate prayer for Caters, for the surgery itself, the doctors performing it, for us- as we sit, as we wait, as we remember. 
Again, the surgery isn't major and for that I am so glad!
Thanks for praying, friends!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9
"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3

Friday, March 12, 2010

held heart

Last night was, as I expected, a pretty emotional night. What I didn't expect was for God to show up so big, to do so much, just for me... just for me and my hurting, healing heart.
I was fine driving there, fine being there, even got through watching someone push their teenage friend in a wheelchair down on the lower level.
I cracked when the 'Letters to God' trailer played on the jumbo-tron. In case you're not familiar with the upcoming movie, it's about a 9 year old boy who dies from brain cancer. The actor playing the boy reminds me tremendously of a 9 year-old JD. It was almost more than I could take.
Immediately following the preview, Tenth Avenue North took the stage. I did fine, did well, was enjoying it. They played 'Hold My Heart' and I was taken back to last concert, remembering how I sat wondering what JD was thinking during the song, wondering if he took the lyrics literally, right now I can barely stand, wondering if his heart was breaking like mine, wondering if he saw me trying to hide my tears. I cried at the memory and my heart echoed the lyrics as it has so many times the last six months,
"But if there's no other way, I'm done asking 'why'
I'm on my knees, begging You to notice me
I'm on my knees, Father- will You run to me?
One tear in the driving rain
One voice in the sea of pain
Could the Maker of the stars hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say are- would You come close, hold my heart?
So many questions without answers;
Your promises remain.."
The tears came easy at the memory, but I know the sweet promises I have to hold onto. I know where JD is and that he no longer has a breaking heart or a hurting body- He's standing, dancing even, in the presence of our God. I know there was no other way for things to happen- that God has a plan, and this was part of it. I know that God was faithful to me then, and He is faithful to me now. It was enough for me just to be there. I would've been satisfied with that- it was all I went to do, just be there, worship the Lord along with friends I love and thousands I don't know.
I had no idea that God wanted to meet me there, wanted to hold my heart, just as I had been asking Him to do- but come close, He did. I was blessed, blown away at the goodness, tenderness, the things that happened just for me... for me... for my heart, for my heart that needed touched so desperately.
The lead singer, Mike Donehey, asked the audience if they were up for hearing a new song tonight. He received an enormous applause and continued talking. "We're going to play our new release from our upcoming album. Tonight, this song goes out to Kristen, who recently lost her brother. It's called 'Healing Begins'".
I turned and looked at Hope and Maddie. "That's me..." I said, half questioning if I had even heard correctly. I stood shaking and sobbing, trying to figure out how this happened, how my name, my brother were just mentioned amongst a crowd of thousands of people- and by the lead singer of my favorite band. I figured it had something to do with the blog I had written yesterday, and had a good guess as to how they could've found out about it- but for them to read it, to dedicate the song to me... I was blown away.
You could imagine my shock, then, when a person I had never even met- she goes to school with Hope- came up and asked if I was Kristen, and if I'd want to go meet the band. So we went. The wife of the drummer took us out to the tour bus, where no one was, and then back inside to the dressing room where the band was located. I stood and talked to the lead singer and met a few other band members. I got to share some of JD's story, about the last concert we'd been to, his testimony, him wanting to be baptized, all the lives he touched. My mouth felt like it was full of cotton and I probably talked too much, but I was so excited to be able to talk about JD, to hear Mike Donehey's heart, to be encouraged. Talking with him, just like hearing him speak at the last concert we went to, makes me like their music even more- just in love with Jesus and wanting to be used by Him for His glory.
Something else that was really bazaar- Mike was telling me that on the weeknight shows, they usually just have 15 minutes for their slot, so they play the songs from the old album. On Friday and Saturday, they have 20 minutes and so they play their new song. It just so happened that the lead singer from Newsboys was sick and they weren't there last night. The only band out of all of them that performed yesterday to get extra time because of the absence was Tenth Avenue North... Ordinarily, they wouldn't have even been playing 'Healing Begins'.
So many awesome things.
It was sweet to leave backstage and re-enter the concert while Third Day was playing 'God of Wonders', and then 'Agnus Dei', which sings 'Holy are You, Lord God, Almighty. Worthy is the Lamb..." - The same words that Revelation chapter 4 says are being sung in heaven around the throne of God ...
just maybe the same words JD was singing last night.

God has been so good to me. I needed that- and I'm so thankful, encouraged, and blessed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

so they say...

"I don't want to take a nap, eaver. Ever again."
"Mama, will you move? You're enormous!"
"Dat's incredible!"
"Daddy, you're my best frin."
"Mama, you wook so married!" 
(said anytime I'm wearing something white or dress-like. Also said starting with 'Caters' in place of Mama)
"Can I have the ipod? Pwease?"
"Can I have dum? Pwease?" (translated: gum)
"Can I watch Veggie Tales? Pwease?"
 "Will you tell me a story about Curious George/Rudolph/baseball?"
"5, 6, 7 OCTAGON!" 
"Can I have pretzels/raisins/apples/oatmeal? Pwease?" (said at least 987x per day)

(also 'quack' and 'woof')
"Wuh sat?" (what's that, while pointing)
"Nigh Nigh" (night night)
"Cor" for Corban, only twice though
"ba ba" (Bye bye)
and she signs:
eat, more, please, all done

I've been terrible about keeping baby books, so I thought I'd get these recorded while it was fresh on my mind! Off to clean!

healing begins

This picture is a snapshot from one of my hardest memories regarding JD. It was taken at the Tenth Avenue North concert- just 4 days before he was admitted to the hospital, one day shy of a month before he died. The pictures we have from the evening of us, with him in them... they hurt my heart. Everything about that evening hurts my heart. He wanted to be there so badly. Loud noises physically hurt him- but he insisted we sit up close. He was in the wheelchair, could barely stand. He was uncomfortable to sit, uncomfortable to walk, uncomfortable to move- but he wasn't going to miss the concert. I text him over and over as we sat there, making sure he was okay. He got frustrated with that- he just wanted to enjoy, just to be a normal kid enjoying the show. There are so many other things, other little details, but I can't go there right now. I can't.

I'm going to see Tenth Avenue North tonight. I battled back and forth on whether or not I wanted to go, whether or not I had the strength to do it. All day I've been telling myself that it's good to do hard things... JD would want me to go.
And then, I got on the Tenth Avenue North website.
They released a new song on March 2nd... the 5 month anniversary of JD's death. I had no idea they had a new song out.
Any guesses on the title?
Healing Begins.
So I'm going. 
I'm doing hard things. 
And I'm allowing my heart to heal. I'm grieving the loss of something so precious to me, but I'm doing what he'd want me to do.
"This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark...

It'll be a bittersweet night, I'm sure. My heart is aching over the memory of last time, aching that he's not here to go with me again...but I know it will be good. An evening of amazing bands, with people I love so much. Remembering JD...joining him as we both worship our God- me here on earth, him in heaven, but together in sense.

Friday, March 5, 2010

photo recap

 Corban was really sick this week. Pneumonia, to be specific.
It made for a long week. 
Just sayin'.
Finally- Thursday, as the sun came out, my little boy returned to his normal, energetic, eating, happy self.
This Mama sure was glad.
That sunshine has been glorious, huh? 
Never has 45 felt so good.

I was amazed by the kids' reactions! The second we were out the front door, Corban was climbing the tree (literally) and Cate was squirming to get down... We are all so ready for this nice(r) weather. I'm grateful that March has already brought some above-freezing and sunshiny days!
Also- I forgot how fun picture taking is outside and with sunlight. I can only imagine how much fun I'll be having once my NEW LENS comes in!!! :) Nothing too fancy or costly, but a prime lens! Woo!! 
I'm really working on learning the manual settings of my camera. It's left me frustrated on numerous occasions, as I've missed good pictures due to wrong settings- but- I've also been really pleased when they come out like I was picturing in my brain. Just takes time, I guess!
Lastly- check out my newest project:

Doesn't it almost make you want to pull out the high heels and start vaccuuming??
Okay, fine. Me neither. But I was pleased with how it came out.
It's actually a wedding gift for a friend who is getting married tomorrow. I plan on having a few of these at the Craft Fair to sell as well. I REALLY enjoyed making this. Probably my favorite thing I've sewn so far!
*Also please note, I'm not 8 ft tall as it appears in the pictures. I'm standing on a footstool. And please ignore the 'getting ready for bed' appearance. Doesn't every 24 year old look like they're ready for bed at 8 p.m. on a Friday night?
Okay. I'm done rambling. 

This post was brought to you by:
                                          curls and purple skinny jeans
                                                with help from furry moccasins

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Five months ago, we watched JD take his last breath, left the hospital without him, began a long, hard, uphill road of grief.
Five months.
Truthfully- it's been the longest and most difficult five months of my entire twenty four years. I feel like October was years ago. Though we, at one point, were fairly prepared for what was coming when the cancer spread and there were no further treatments, nothing- nothing- could have prepared us for life without him, how hard continuing on would be. I had no idea. I never dreamed a $5 footlong subway commercial would make me cry or empty shampoo bottles left in the shower would cause an ache so great. I never anticipated the overwhelming need to just hear his voice, see him move again. I broke down last night in a way that seems to be coming less often these days, but I missed him so fiercely. I scoured my computer for every clip that had his voice. It was tortuous and relief at the same time. I smiled and laughed, hearing that chuckle of his, listening to him crack his little jokes- but ached upon recognizing that there would be no more moments like those... that these videos, these memories, that's all we've got for now. Please don't misunderstand- I wouldn't trade those times for anything- we had so much fun, so many good times- I'm so thankful for those... but my kids won't grow up with Uncle JD. We won't hear him sing anymore, won't hear stories about highschool, won't watch him get married. I miss him, and I ache for what could've been. I truly just enjoyed my little brother. I looked forward to any time we got to spend together, and I know that was reciprocated. We had a really neat relationship, and I just miss him. Those words seem so small and insignificant compared to what my heart feels, but I know no other way to express it.
I recently went back through an old online journal that I kept and started reading from the beginning of this journey of cancer we went on. The road was long- started in 2005, and it was interesting to see the lessons learned and re-learned, God's faithfulness, the things being pressed upon my heart as a result of our circumstances.
One thing I saw multiple times (and if I weren't lazy and wanting to sew, I'd probably link to them all for you to see- it really was neat), but am really just now starting to grasp, I think... On the numerous occasions that we received good news- clear MRI's, good surgeries, etc- through songs, verses, teachings, God seemed to say every time that if the news we got had been otherwise, He'd still be good and worthy to be praised.
I had an 'aha!' moment last week as I was studying in Philippians for our girls bible study. Paul begins chapter 3 by simply saying, "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord." The background of this book of the Bible: Paul is currently chained to a Roman guard, sitting in a jail, writing to the Philippians. His instruction: Rejoice in the Lord.
Really, Paul?
It's hard to wrap my mind around that being the reaction of my heart while circumstances seem so... un-rejoice-worthy. But as you read the words and consider what He's saying... Paul doesn't mention circumstances here, does He? He doesn't say, "Rejoice in the hard things happening in life," but rather, "Rejoice in the LORD". There's a tremendous difference. The things we face can be grueling. Life is stinkin' hard. But God- He does not change. He doesn't shift with the waves of life, is unmoved by our circumstances. His love isn't dependent on our actions or swayed by our unfaithfulness. He is 'yesterday, today, forever the same'. (Hebrews 13:8) Additionally- and tremendously- he loves us unfathomably, cares for us, keeps us. His faithfulness to me, His goodness that is so apparent all around me- those are things I can rejoice in.
I don't know what your circumstances look like right now, what you're facing, what might be looming darkly over you- but I want to encourage you that God is above it, that He's bigger than it, that He's got it under control. May I challenge you (and me) to fix our eyes on Jesus, hold fast the Word of life, cling to our God who is faithful and good, who is steady and unchanged, who is not dependent on our circumstances but wants to draw us closer through the storms we may be facing.
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!