Ready To Love Home Again!

   Your laundry room is where cleaning happens so why on earth is it always such a mess?! There is just something about when you walk into someone’s home and their laundry room is clean and smells wonderful that just makes you want to slap them and tell them they suck.  Well, that would be terribly rude of us, so instead we must decide… Do we make a million excuses why we long for that, yet never seem to care as much when it is time to clean it, or do we take it on and protect it like a our lives depend on it?!  How was that for a dramatic beginning?  I know, nice, right?

   Okay, but here is the real me.  I love my home being clean and when I have time, I love cleaning it, but there is something really weird that has happened to me over the years.  When my youngest daughter had leukemia, our home was insanely clean.  I was so freaked out about her coming into contact with germs that we maintained a hospital like sanitized environment for  a very long time.  When she hit remission, the doctor made a joke knowing how I had become, about not sterilizing the door knobs every day anymore.  Some weird switch in me said… Relaxed housework symbolizes everything is okay.  It sounds ridiculous and I have really struggled with the way my own mind glitched on me, but it is the honest truth.  That’s what we do here, remember? 🙂

   So, I allowed that mentality to grab hold and within a couple years, I was in big trouble. I had let my house go, I was taking on tons of projects and jobs that consumed my every moment, and I had decided to keep, EVERYTHING! Moving into town was the final straw. I was completely out of my element and depression was sinking in.  I didn’t even know it. One friend after another expressed concern about my changes and how they felt it was affecting me.  At first, I was totally pissed.  I was so mad that they knew all the things I had gone through and thought that I didn’t have control over my own life.  Really, what they were saying is that I was trying to be in control of my whole life!  Even in the areas I needed to surrender, and even in the areas that I needed to say “No”, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t even interested in hearing what they had to say.

  The seed was planted though and God began to work through my heart. Slowly but surely, I began to actually feel burdened by all that was happening and all that should have been happening, that wasn’t.  I came home from a large event for the organization I run here and I thought I had been robbed!  It sounds so funny but it was almost like I was seeing the disaster for the first time.  It was nuts!  That week, I spent the most time connecting with the friends who had expressed their concerns and let them know, YES!, I finally saw it.

   To make a long story just a little less long, I got rid of crap.  Every time I went to town, I took things to donation.  I made sure that no matter how much garbage we had, the trash can was always full.  It took a while, let me tell you! That year, we had more deaths and tragedies in our family than we had sustained in our lives entirely.  It was a very rough year. Just when I was finally getting a grip on surrendering, we got a notice that the owners of our home needed to sell. While it seemed like such a catastrophe considering that my husband and son were working three states away, one child had moved out and it was just me and the younger two girls left to do the packing and the moving.  I got rid of more stuff and finally said, “Enough! I can’t focus on this anymore.” I was so irritated with God that here I was… ‘getting IT’ and now this is thrown into the mix!  I was determined to do it on my own.  My husband didn’t like that idea.  He called our church.  I was sure no one would want to come move our family of 6, plus an organization, plus a home school, plus put up with my exhausted butt!

   They came… they loved on us, they moved our crap, they brought us lunch and went through a couple very difficult situations with me.  They came… God was there… I got ‘IT’ again.  I was doing good until I tried to be in control of my own surrender. I know… what a dork, right?  Yeah, I agree. 🙂

   Anyway, the point of this is that now, we are back in the country, (God made sure of that) and what was already in progress has continued in shorter spurts.  I donated 10+ more boxes of stuff while unpacking in our new home and I continue to get rid of things on a regular basis.  I have 2 boxes in my car right now and another box I am in the process of filling.  I wish I had thought to blog the process of going through our office area and bookshelf… it was invigorating!

   Now… I’m here… with you.  I have officially gotten rid of enough stuff that finally, I can start living again and organizing with pleasure and joy in my heart!  I, my dear… AM READY TO LOVE HOME AGAIN! 

So!  here goes!…

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Here is my laundry room BEFORE.

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Sorry the pictures are terrible from my phone… This is my bookshelf made into shoe rack and ‘organizer’ for quick grabs from outside.  This is the first thing people see when they walk in this door.

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This is our pantry in the same room.  The space is good but the organization is not.  Behind all those plastic bags are cloth grocery bags that I always forget to take to town on shopping day! 😦

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We eat mostly fresh or frozen foods unless I can it myself, which hasn’t happened for 3 years! I need to make room for that because we are building a garden this Spring, you and me. 🙂

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There were OVER 100 plastic bags in my pantry!  These puppies have GOT to go!  Right to the food pantry!  (Anytime you get overloaded on plastic or paper bags, donate them to your local food pantries.  They love them because they store well and hold a lot of food.)

THE TRANSFORMATION…

The reason it is so important to take everything out of the room is because it allows you to really understand how much stuff is in the room, it is SO much easier to clean the room thoroughly and it gives you a clean slate to work with.

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I have this insanely high shelf in the top of my pantry that goes up to the ceiling and allows for a lot of storage.  This is the perfect place to store these tall boxes of dessert mix!  We bake goodies to go with dessert that our Small Group serves at our local homeless shelter once a month. (If you really want to help your homeless community, serve often at a homeless shelter and really get to know them.  You might be surprised who learns more.)  See that space to the right?  That is going to have 20 boxes of brownie mix (The guys’ favorite) after Saturday.

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To save a lot of space in your pantry, after cereal gets down to 1/4 of a bag, roll it up and write the kind of cereal on it.  

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Drop them in, writing side facing the wall of the container, side by side.  You can identify the cereal without pulling them all out.  Keeps the cereal fresher too!

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Hot cereals stay fresher longer in plastic ware as well.  Cut the directions off the box and slide it down the side.  Refill and toss the box upon every purchase!

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Only 20 bags in that laundry bag converted grocery bag holder!  When it gets bulky, we will make another donation!  No more bags on the floor!

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I labeled the shelves because my family is great about unloading groceries… Now, they can actually put them where they belong because they have a well marked location!

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These recyclable grocery bags are going into my car! I shoved all the smalls into the big.

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Portable insulated bags, coolers and lunch packs now fit on the floor in the pantry!

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I actually had extra space even! And look! Nothing on the dryer!

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Shoe rack now is able to hold our dog grooming bucket and has a place for everyone to put there gloves after working outside!  On top is ready for coffee mugs to be set on while boots are going on!  This is the country, yes, we really require this.  I even put a yummy smelling candle on there that I lit and now has made that whole part of the house smell wonderful!

  My laundry room is small, but it is still part of my home. There were muddy boots coming off in that very room just an hour after I took these pictures.  But now, it is just a wipe and sweep away from being clean all over again and I can do it in about 2 minutes!  

   It’s about making your house work for your lifestyle, not adjusting your lifestyle to fit your house.  I had so much fun doing this and I loved knowing that I could share this with you guys to encourage you to start even if it’s small and learn how to make a small space work for you!  Hope you had fun reading!

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See you soon!

Angie

 

 

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For Her…

   About 1,340 children are expected to die from cancer in 2012… About 12,060 children will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012…

   Wait… Let’s try this again…

About 1,000 + 300 + 40  children are expected to die from cancer in 2012.  

   How many people really know this number?  Even more important, how many people are touched by seeing that number?  

 

    Meet Faith

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   Faith was a typical 5 year old girl, who loved to dress up and put on Tinkerbell eyeshadow and pick beautiful flowers for her mommy and daddy.  She had no comprehension of cancer or the terrors that came with it.  Her favorite color was yellow like the sun… her favorite song was Jesus Loves Me and her favorite thing to do was dance and play with her brother and sisters.  She giggled endlessly and loved playing jokes.  She loved princesses and ballerinas.  Faith only got sick on an average of once a year, even during flu season.  Strong, healthy, vibrant and beautiful.

   November… Thanksgiving Day, while playing with her siblings and cousins, Faith fell on a rock pile and scraped her back, leaving a bruise just like any other fall. A few days later, she was fine and her scrape was healing fine.

   December… While preparing for our first Christmas in our new house, Faith seemed to be a little less excited than usual, complaining of feeling tired.  One night, while eating dinner, Faith complained that her tummy was hurting and started projectile vomiting.  While she was getting sick she started crying and grabbing her back.  The bruise on her back was still there, but there seemed to be no other sign of anything wrong with her back from the outside.  A call was made to the bone specialist but they couldn’t get Faith in until the 28th, 3 days after Christmas. The following morning, Faith seemed totally fine and said her back didn’t hurt any longer.

   A week later, the whole family got the flu except Faith.

   Christmas Eve… While celebrating Christmas with her grandparents 100 miles away, Faith complained of not feeling well and asked to lay down. While resting, she began vomiting and the flu was evident. Faith was very pale and we decided to travel back home where we would be closer to the doctor. 

   Christmas Day, Faith still felt sick but was holding down food and fluids. She never spiked a fever, and managed to open her gifts with interest.  By that evening, she was complaining of back ache but her tummy was feeling better.  

   The day after Christmas, Faith felt a lot better and only had mild back pain and only when she bent over. She stayed in bed for the next 2 days to prevent any damage to her back.  

   December 28th, while at the bone specialist, the x-rays showed absolutely no sign of injury. Ribs were in tact, spine was in tact, and there was no sign of new bleeding.  The most concerning part was that fact that Faith was getting more pale by the day.  While the doctor ran his fingers up her neck, he found a lump on the left side and recommended that her pediatrician see her immediately.  She was rushed to her pediatrician who just happened to travel the world, helping countries who are less fortunate medically, to diagnose rare diseases.  He checked her over for about 10 minutes and ordered lab work to be done promptly.

   December 29th, 7:00 am… Faith is sleeping peacefully for the first time in days and wakes up with a sleepy sigh and sweet smile for her mommy.  She says she is feeling “okay”… The phone rings…

   I answer the phone to the doctor, a little confused that he is calling before the office even opens.  “Angie, I need to talk to you about Faith’s lab work,” he says gently. “I need you to listen real closely.”  I stopped pulling cereal boxes out of the cupboard. “You have my full attention,” I reply, fear creeping into my chest.  I knew it.  I just knew she had something wrong with her back.  What I couldn’t figure out is what in the world that had to do with her lab work. “Angie, after looking at Faith’s lab work, I believe she has something called leukemia…” I felt my legs giving out.

   Rewind… September, earlier that year… I sat watching a St. Jude’s fundraiser on television, tissue in hand.  A young boy, bald and pale, yet absolutely adorable, talks in a little voice about how much he misses his sister and daddy and how he just wants to be able to get better and go home… As tears roll down my cheeks, I thank God that I am not enduring what those mommies are enduring and swear that I would never be able to watch my child go through such terror.

   “Angie… Angie, I need to know you are hearing what I’m telling you. Angie… do you understand what I am saying?”  … I keep answering, “Yes, yes.” but he just keeps saying my name.  “Angie, I think you are in shock right now and I need you to only concentrate on answering me.”  I realize that my mind is saying yes, but my voice just won’t cooperate.  I take a breath and I don’t even recognize my own voice anymore.  “I understand.”  That’s it. That’s all that comes out. “There is already a bed ready for Faith at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.  They are expecting you by early afternoon.  You need to leave within three hours if possible. It’s critical to get her there as soon as possible.” 

   We packed light and called our friend and youth pastor and my mom and asked them to meet us at the church.  Several church staff members, my mom and sister, my husband, me and our kids all came together to ask God for something we didn’t even know if we had a right to ask… understanding.

 

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   Upon arriving at the hospital, we were flooded with strange smells, nurses, doctors, technicians & fellow doctors (doctors in transition to the floor).  We were overwhelmed by the confidence of the physicians and their thorough testing. Our family of 6, unwilling to separate, found a way to sleep all of us in one room.  I slept with Faith in her hospital bed, Vince slept in the recliner and the other three kids slept linked together on the couch.  I say slept and by that, I mean, in between beeping machines, flashing lights, nurses coming in and out, blood pressure cuffs resetting, and families whispering the nurses enter the rooms beside us.  Our lives felt like a slow moving horror movie.

   January 2, 2007… the test results have come in.  The team of doctors come in and their faces are unreadable. Calm, considerate, compassionate, and burdened, they walk into the room and quietly take a seat. Over the last few days, these people have not only earned our trust by being completely honest with us, but they have also become our only lifeline here on earth and we know it.  As soon as the words ‘cancer’ and ‘leukemia’ left the doctors mouths, we were flooded with paperwork, facts, statistics and plans for treatment.  One thing that our doctor told us that gave me great comfort, was that not only were they very familiar with the type of leukemia that Faith had, but that over the last 10 years, the survival rate had drastically gotten better due to research and modern technology.

   I didn’t know it then, but that little bit of hope would change my life and how I gave back in the years ahead.

   Treatment meant many things for our entire family. Separation, fear, strength, hope, growth, friends, knowledge, patience, FAITH, research, support, love, frustration, education, exhaustion, loneliness, and courage are just some of those things.

FAITH

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  At the hospital and while staying at the Ronald McDonald House, Faith would often fall asleep during prayer so peacefully that we just knew God was comforting her every time we prayed. As a mother, I can’t even explain how this picture still to this day floods my heart with so many conflicting emotions. The memories of her being this sick are still really vivid in my mind. 

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Our first trip home, Faith had a few good days.  We tried to capture them as much as possible. She slept a lot, vomited daily, and cried occasionally.  We tried to keep her as comfortable as possible all the time but the steroids made it difficult for her to get comfortable.  Between the chemo and the medication to keep the chemo from killing her, she was a roller coaster of emotion and her immune system was usually at zero. Often, we had to quarantine our home for months at a time and no one was allowed to visit and trips to town were very rare. The smell of most foods would throw her into a projectile vomiting.  We had to completely adjust our diets and cooking methods.

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Some days were significantly better than others.  This picture is Faith’s first trip into town, non medical related.  She was so excited that she even struck a pose for me!  We constantly saw glimpses of the vibrant, beautiful girl that we knew so well and our hope was high.  We had no reason to believe she couldn’t be one of the survivors we had heard about.

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As time went by, Faith had breaks in treatment that allowed her to have visitors.  (These were usually times that the treatment was subtle to allow her immune system to recuperate so she could be hit again) It was bittersweet because it was such a blessing to see her color return and her spunk to be up, but knowing in the back of your mind, it wasn’t over… but even more, just being grateful that it was atleast life.

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Friends came, bearing gifts, including the bicyclists from Candlelighters For Children With Cancer who rode with Cycle Oregon 2007 and sent postcards to Faith at their stopping points to remind her they were riding for her.  We love this organization.  They are wonderful!  Melissa, the first Candlelighters staff that we met continued to support Faith by coming to every one of her doctors appointments for the first 3 years of her outpatient treatment.

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Sometimes treatment even allowed us to attend awareness fundraisers where Faith was always willing to talk about what she was going through. Her smile is what carried me most days.

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Finally, the doctors cleared Faith to go to Disneyland.  She was so excited that she called everyone herself to tell them. Her Aunt Kristie gave her a Mickey Mouse hat that sat on a shelf until this special day of clearance! Faith had to take chemo even during her trip to Disneyland.  They wouldn’t allow us to take her pill crusher on the plane and when we got there, we couldn’t find one anywhere. She chewed her pills with ice cream.  Not even chemo was going to stop this wish from happening!

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There were good days…

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Crazy tired days…

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But they were days…

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They were life…

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She spent her very last day of treatment admitted in the hospital…

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But we still celebrated life…

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It’s all that mattered…  

   So when treatment ended, people assumed that everything ended, but really, it isn’t over.  We were fortunate to parent a survivor, but there are SO MANY side effects of treatment. Faith may never be able to have children… She is more likely to get a secondary cancer… She has to have continued doctor visits for the rest of her life.

 

HERE COMES THE BIG PICTURE… 

   We have a chance..

Image To help…

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ImageTo make a difference…

ImageIn the lives of these children…

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ImageTo bring giggles…

ImageSmiles…

ImageSeasons…

ImageMemories…

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Support is easier than you think!

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Whether you are a sibling…

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A parent…

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It doesn’t matter how you are effected…

         Maybe you are an aunt or uncle… grandma or grandpa…

                 Heck, maybe you are a neighbor….

Or maybe…

You just have a heart…

That is big enough to give in an area you can’t relate to, but you really feel led to reach out.

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Whatever reason you have… if for no other reason, FOR HER!

 

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month… won’t YOU help spread the word?

 

Love,

Her Mom ❤

 

If you would like to reach out and don’t know where, please consider this worthy recipients that we have not only benefited from but support and have seen where the money goes!

Candlelighters For Children With Cancer http://www.4kidswithcancer.org

Caring Bridge http://www.caringbridge.org

Shane’s Walk http://www.shaneswalk.weebly.com

 

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