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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I learned this fall

The model volcano is finally as done as it's gonna be. The kids are in bed and I finally have a few moments to share what I've been learning lately...

What I learned this fall is you can't control the seasons. I know that this probably seems obvious. But it has been a struggle for me.

I was writing to someone who I hoped could take a look at my writing and told them that November is my most productive month of the year and I hoped I'd have something substantial to show her by the end of the month.

Yeah, so I have spent basically zero time doing any substantial writing. I guess I hadn't taken into account how emotionally exhausting Grayson's surgery would be for me. I guess I hadn't taken into account how time-consuming homeschooling has been. So I'm looking at this season as a big chunk of basically non-productive time.

So here I sit, looking back at this season, feeling a bit disappointed but as I sit with it I am slowly learning this - you can't control the season you are in. I can't make this season be what it's not. It has been all kinds of intake but it has been not a lot of output. I guess I'm just going to have to be okay with that at this particular moment. I want my literal harvest season to be my spiritual harvest season but it doesn't always work like that. Sometimes things need to just sit a bit longer. Sometimes you have to be patient a bit more. I feel like this is the lesson I come around to again and again and again. I just have to be faithful in the space I am in and trust God to move me on when it is His time.

Other things I have learned this fall - Facebook Live is kinda' harder than I thought it would be. I did my first virtual Bible study meeting on my Facebook page this month and it was exhausting. I basically sat on my couch and did nothing the rest of the day. I am learning a lot through this study - mostly about myself. If you would like to join our study we are just a tiny little group of women, mostly moms, taking a few moments to sit with God and the stories in the Bible. At our last meeting we talked about Hannah who grew brave in her asking. This Thursday we'll be talking about Hagar who was brave in her wilderness. (Click here to download Week 2 homework).

I also fell in love all over again with doing photography sessions. You can see some of my latest work over on my photography page. It has been a real joy to get to go do these sessions. I had forgotten how much I really love photography so it has been nice to remember that.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

I love doing these "Read - Watch - Listen" re-caps and have been looking forward to sharing this one all week.

I was blessed with a copy of It's Not Fair by Melanie Dale. The subtitle of this book is totally awesome "Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Choose" and this is exactly what the book is about. It's about when life takes a left turn (and it feels like the road heads off a cliff) what now? The book is like getting coffee with your funniest friend. I was laughing and crying by the end of the first chapter. It's not a lot of heavy lifting theologically but sometimes you don't need a pastor or a therapist when it all hits the fan - what you need is a girlfriend. She co-habitates the dark spaces of grief and disappointment with tons of grace and humor. Not everyone is going to love it, but I did. I really really loved it.

I started reading a few other things which I'll be sure to write about soon(ish).  I finished a fantasy novel a friend gave to me and re-discovered that I actually do have more time to read, hidden in the little corners of my life, than I had given myself credit for so I'm hoping that in December my "books I've read" list will be longer.

This has been a month of watching. We watched Nerve at the beginning of the month and it was so good. Daniel had seen this with my oldest girls and they were excited to see it again with me. The ending is just so redeeming.  As soon as we got home from the hospital after Grayson's surgery I got a massive cold and ended up in bed all day one Sunday. That day I watched the entire first season of The Crown on Netflix. It is so beautifully produced. The plot seemed to move really slowly and some of the episodes lacked drama, but in a culture that tends towards over-dramatization I think a series like this is a good one. I heard that there is another season coming out and I will definitely be interested in watching that. Also on Netflix I watched Mission Blue. You can watch the trailer on YouTube here. It is a beautiful, eye-opening documentary on oceanographer Sylvia Earle. On the theme of life in the ocean, we also watched Finding Dory this month. I didn't have high hopes but was pleasantly surprised. I've also been watching the Netflix series Chef's Table. My favorite episode so far has been episode 2 with Dan Barber. I watched the Netflix movie Tallulah. It is rated TV-MA and has a mature scene at the beginning and had some salty language but it all felt very appropriate for the circumstances they were in and at the end of the movie I was glad I'd watched it. It was so emotional. We also watched Sing Street. You've got to watch the trailer  on YouTube. I thought it was a family film but it really isn't. It's rated PG-13 and totally deserves that rating. Over Thanksgiving break we watched Into The Woods - we watched it twice and you will find most of the females in the family singing the songs from it at random times. I wasn't sure my kids would go for a musical - they totally did and I have a feeling that someone will find this movie under the proverbial Christmas tree this year. This weekend my oldest and I went out to see Arrival and it is absolutely the best movie I have seen all year. It was everything I hoped it would be, plus a little. I was worried it would be too scary but it wasn't. It was weird, but it was beautiful. And Amy Adams was amazing.

I'm attempting to get into the Christmas spirit, especially in the music department. I've been listening to Thrill of Hope by Christy Nockles. You can listen to it on YouTube here. I have loved everything from Christy Nockles - from Watermark to Passion but I think this may be the most beautiful album from her. Maybe ever. I've also been listening to the new Pentatonix Christmas album. Honestly, I think I liked their older one better, but it is still a really good mix.

What are you reading/watching/listening to these days? I want to know!

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman as we share what we learned.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Grayson's surgery

Grayson had surgery at the beginning of this month. He was born with Grade 5 kidney reflux (so his urine would back up into his kidneys and cause infection). He had his first UTI at 2 weeks old which was super scary. He had surgery at 3 weeks old to open a spot in his belly called a vesicostomy. Thankfully he did not have another UTI after that surgery, which was amazing. Kids with kidney reflux typically get a lot of UTIs and it can be difficult to manage. Caring for a kid with a vesicostomy and who was considered medically complex was hard. Grayson was hospitalized a second time in January for a persistent fever, probably a virus. It definitely gave me a different perspective and taught me to be thankful for how healthy my kids have all been!

So the surgery that Grayson had this month was to reimplant his ureters and close the opening the doctor had made a year ago. The success rate of this procedure is very high and should take care of the issue for Grayson. I am so thankful that we had access to such awesome doctors and that his condition was spotted so early on before significant damage to his kidneys could occur.

The best way I know to share about Grayson's latest surgery is through pictures and what I wrote on Instagram during that time...

Grayson woke up to nurse and Eli came into my room saying he'd wet the bed at about the same minute. So I laughed to keep from crying. Grayson cried while I stripped down Eli's bed but thankfully now he has stopped. So we are pacing the living room to the best of the washing machine. And the sone from my childhood pops into my head "I'll cast all my cares upon you. I lay all of my burdens down at your feet, and anytime I don't know what to do I will cast all my cares upon you." and I'm thankful. Thankful that Grayson isn't crying. Thankful for a God who bears my burdens when I don't have the strength. Thankful that I don't have to live beneath the crushing weight of it all for even a minute. Even as I'm holding onto Grayson as we pace this living room floor, God is holding on to me. He is good. He is God. He has got me.
A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

Grayson waiting to go back to surgery. It was so hard to leave him. He was screaming, I was crying.
It is one of the worst things I have experienced as a mom.

Grayson's recovery nurse, also a friend of mine. Such a comfort!

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

I feel like today has been the hardest day of recovery. Grayson was a restless little sleeper last night and instead of waking up smiling like yesterday he woke up crying. He is off of his IV and medicine routine and is on an "as needed" basis but he has needed them. A lot. It's so sad to see him cry and be so uncomfortable. We just had to pull out the big guns and I was really hoping to be feeling closer to ready to head home. So - good news: all of his vitals are looking awesome and he is down to just the pulse/ox monitor and one little tube to drain any fluids away from his surgery site. Yay for being slightly less tethered. That was miserable. Still waiting: for his output and input to normalize. He's nursing well and has eaten a little but we're still waiting on a normal diaper. So yeah, I think that's it! Thanks to everybody who has surrounded us help us through this tough this. 💜💜💜
A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

Grayson had to be on round the clock pain medicine for a few days but he gradually needed less and less. By a week plus a day or two post-op he was already totally off of his medicines and has been super happy! He's started walking this week. He's been such a fast crawler that he wasn't interested in walking for awhile but now he has started to really get the hang of it.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Virtual Bible Study

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithrphotog) on

So, I feel like I have more or less failed at this this #write31days challenge. I wrote for how many days? Twenty Five? Lame. That's like one week shy of the 31 days. Maybe I'll come back and fill those days in. I have got some of the material for those days... anyway. I am bravely marching forward with my journey with this study. Doing the next thing, no matter what. So I have been doing that Facebook Live thing on my blog Facebook page and today I have kicked off my "virtual Bible Study".

Today I basically just dumped the first week of homework in a link on my Facebook page. Nothing pretty or fancy. I talked for a couple of minutes about the format of the study. I talked a little bit more about the format of the study in my previous Facebook Live video. I don't know who to post a direct link to that video but it's on there, somewhere.

Basically it's just three days of homework a week and then we'll "meet" on Facebook Live once a week - on a Thursday around lunchtime, I think. You can watch the video anytime and leave comments with thoughts about the homework. You can ask questions in the comments too or send me a private message.

The plan is to do this virtual Bible Study for 4 weeks. I have 10 weeks (more or less) of material so I might do another 4-6 week virtual Bible Study again in the new year. Let me know if that is something you'd be interested in doing. The study is super-basic and my virtual Bible Study will be super un-produced, because while I looooooooooove a well-produced video series sometimes we just need to be in front of each other bare-faced and honest about the mess of our normal lives. That way we can say "me too - I thought maybe I was the only one."

So I hope that you will head over to my Facebook page and grab a copy of this week's homework. While you're there feel free to tag a friend who you would like to go through this study with.  Next Thursday (God willing) I will hop onto Facebook Live to discuss any questions you had and just my general thought process behind writing this week's material.

Can't wait to hear from you!