Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So This is Christmas?....UPDATE

For those of you still wanting to give to the Foster family, we will be making a run out to their house on Thursday to deliver what we have collected.  If you would like to have your gift delivered, please contact me.  Post to this site and I will contact you.  I review all posts before they are published, so if you include a phone number or email address, I will not publish that post publicly. I will also be at Good Shepherd all day tomorrow and can make arrangements to receive items there. 

Thank you to those of you who have sacrificed to give to this family.  It touches hearts and provides hope. 

With love and gratitude.....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

So This Is Christmas?

 
 

 
"The Fosters received the biopsy results; they are not encouraging. It looks like the GBM is back and is bigger than what the doctor thought, and it is also in multiple places. They will not do surgery. They might do radiation or Avastin to gain some time, but not much. The doctor is not God, but he gives Matt no longer than 6 months..."

I would like to introduce you to some very special friends of mine -- Matt and Anna Foster.  I have known Anna for as far back as I can remember.    Our families grew up in a very tight Baptist church when we were kids.   Up until recently Matt and Anna lived across the highway in the same neighborhood as us.   They have four kids.  So do we.  Our kids are the same ages. Our family loves Jesus, but this family is awe-inspiring when it comes to following and trusting Christ.   Like us, their daddy and husband has cancer.  Matt has had a very deadly form of brain tumor for five years.  He wasn't expected to live three months past diagnosis, but has fought this monster for five long years. For years they thought it was in remission, but that isn't the case any longer.  It's back and without a miracle, this disease will take Matt's life. 

Matt, Anna, and the boys, were a huge encouragement when Marc was sick.  Their boys ministered to our kids, they ministered into our lives....They gave us hope.  When Marc went home to heaven, Matt and Anna sang at Marc's memorial.  Without missing a beat this family served us in our grief.  Without missing a beat they continue to share the message of hope and salvation with anyone that will hear them.  Amazing.  Courageous. 

I have asked many times in my circle of praying friends that they lift Matt and Anna up.  I was sharing with my dear friend, Mel, the other day about the news regarding Matt.  She listened and agreed to pray.  Later she called and told me she had shared the story with another friend.  Neither of these women have met Matt, Anna, or their boys; however, both wanted to DO something.  Perhaps that's the hardest thing when we encounter these incredibly difficult trials.  We want to do something...anything...to fix it.  We know many of you wanted to do the same thing for Marc, me, and our kids, but there was just no fixing it. 

What I can say is that the outpouring of love and support when Marc was ill was a tangible touch from Christ for us.  Having friends and family help with our physical needs was a way that we felt sheltered by the Lord.  Many of you made us meals, helped with kids, cleaned our house, gave gifts of money, gift cards, and other resources.  We were helped generously by so many and cannot express enough gratitude.  You were His hands and feet during a time when we needed much help. It was beyond humbling. Thank you.

Our experience with the overflowing blessings from friends and family has forever changed my perspective.  I know firsthand how much Matt and Anna need the help of others.  They attend a beautiful and Christ centered church with a faithful congregation.  Their church family has supported them by providing many of their needs; however, there are many needs that the larger Christian community may be able...may want...to provide.

Many of us get tired of the material glut this time of year.  The meaning of Christ and Christmas is lost in the midst of gift giving, parties, and eating.  Not that any of this is bad, but sometimes we all want to be part of something more meaningful...something that is close to God's heart and would make Him smile during this season of His son's birth.  For those of you that want to DO something for a dear family in need this time of year, please consider a gift to the Foster family.  Much of their needs are monetary right now.  Basic needs are hard to meet and the next few months are going to pose extra financial burdens.  Our hope is to raise what we can to help with the following:

  • Medical expenses as they arise
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Fuel and repairs for their van
  • Clothing (one of the boys has a size 17 foot and is still growing.  Yikes!)
  • Funds to help pay for homeschooling supplies (Anna homeschools and consults for the company that provides the curriculum.  In exchange for her work they give her the curriculum she needs for the boys.  She will not be able to consult for the time being and will not be able to pay for the materials)
  • Some funds to provide Christmas gifts
  •  Also, here are  requested items for those in the local area (Gresham/Boring/Sandy) that would prefer to give a gift and not money.  Please know that Matt and Anna's boys are VERY tall young gentlemen.  Sizes are not typos :)
    • Benjamin -- Age 14
      • Height 6'2
      • Shoe size:   17 Wide (Yes, that is Seventeen....WIDE :)
      • Pants   36 x 34
      • Shirts  2XL
    • Elliott -- Age 12
      • Height 6'4" 
      • Shoe size:  14
      • Pants: 34 x 36
      • Shirts: XL Mens LONG
    • Christian -- Age 9
      • Shoe size:  9 Mens
      • Pants:  12/14 Husky (Must be husky)
      • Shirts:  L Mens (length of sleeve/body is important)
    • Gideon -- Age 7
      • Shoe:  7 Mens
      • Pants:  10 Husky
      • Shirts:  14 Youth or Small Mens
    • Also, they need a waterproof mattress pad.  Queen size.
Any items that you would like to donate, please contact me.  We will arrange a way to get those items to the family.

We are establishing an account in their name.  You will find the Paypal link HERE.  Their email address to access their paypal account is mattannafamily@gmail.com  OR you can mail funds to

PO Box 52
Troutdale, OR 97060



To read more about Matt and Anna, their testimony, and updates on Matt's health, go HERE.  You will be richly rewarded by their story and faithfulness.


We would ask that you prayerfully consider supporting this family. 





"Insasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto Me."
....Jesus

As always....With love and gratitude....


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Black Dresses

I purchased an understated black dress for Marc's memorial service.  I remember thinking that for something I was only going to wear once, that I should keep it simple and forgettable.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to forget that dress.  Out of all the dresses in my closet, I have worn it more in the last two years than any other.  Memorial services have been a fairly frequent event in our world. 

This past weekend a dear mom of three lost her husband to a sudden heart attack.  I met this sweet woman about four years ago at a women's Bible study through our church.  She was one of the many sincere people that prayed and supported us through Marc's illness and death. She was a woman that I admired greatly -- she is quiet, gentle, soft-spoken, and loves God's word.  When I talk to her I know that I am speaking to someone that holds fast to Christ and lives for Him.  She exudes His love.  Her countenance is beautiful.

Over the last couple of days I have had a chance to speak with my friend.  Our paths now cross at the school the kids attend.  We have stood in the parking lot in the rain, chatting -- relating on a level that most can't grasp.  And, again, I have to say that I admire this woman.  I am grateful for her.  While her heart hurts, her mind is scrambling, and her body exhausted, she continues to see the bigger picture.  She sees the blessings.  She feels His love.  She has hope. 

I was encouraged by our conversation.  As we stood in the downpour by our cars, a gentleman approached quietly.  "We'll be there about 11:00," he said.  She teared up.  The guys from the church had been to her house yesterday to do yard work and help with her property.  She started listing all that our church family has done to help them.  My heart soared.  I was reminded again at how faithful God has been to our family.  Watching our church body -- His hands and feet -- move is a powerful experience.  Those that are servant hearted show the broken hearted that they are not forsaken.  Thank you to those of you that served us so graciously.  Thank you to those of you that are serving this family -- many of the names and faces are the same.

While my heart hurts for my friend, I am also excited for her.  Weird, huh?  Not really.  This woman has a beautiful faith.  She is wise and is already leaning on Christ.  She gets it -- she knows that there is so much more to our existence than our life here.  I am excited because she will get to experience God's promises on a very deep and personal level.  She won't be disappointed.  He has great plans for her and her precious children.  I have a feeling that we will all be able to watch and marvel at her faith and testimony.  I already am.

I guess in some ways I am glad that I have to pull my black dress out again.  Perhaps I shouldn't have tried to dismiss it from my memory.  It's in the remembering that reminds me of the countless ways we have been blessed by God's overwhelming love and provision.  These are things that should never be forgotten.

Please pray for this family. 

With love and gratitude...

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Long Break...

I took the summer off from writing and updating the blog.  Several have asked if I have quit the blogging world.  I have been tempted, but instead decided simply to take the summer off.  We rested, we played, we got caught up on projects, did our chores, and spent hours with family and friends.  Most of all we learned to be a new little family.  It was a great summer and we are sad that it is over.  September is here and so starts school and all the activities that go with it.  My hope is that we will be here a bit more. 

In the meantime...here is the summer in pictures.


The first fishing trip to Harriet Lake.  Julia smoked us all -- this was her first of many good sized trout! 


 
A subsequent trip to Timothy Lake to catch more trout and kokanee.  Are you sensing a trend here?  Fish like girls!
 
 
Brian and supermodel Kami at her fashion show debut.  She did great and was a fantastic sport! 
 
 
I finished!  I was able to finish Marc's race in Seattle.  13.1 miles of misery.  It would have been more miserable, but Jess kept me running the whole time...and entertained.  I couldn't have finished without her.  Thank you, Dear Friend!  I couldn't have done it without you.  Thanks again to all my friends that ran the race with me and to Slalom that made the event possible for us.  It was a hard, but great day!
 
 
After running the half marathon we took the kids to Pike Place for some fresh seafood.  This is Ben's reaction to oysters on the half shell.  No way, Man!
 
 
Sophie gave it a good try, but the slimy mouthful was just too much to swallow.  Out it came!  Oh, well...it left a whole platter for Brian and I to finish up.  The kids went for the less raw calamari.
 
 
We spent the Fourth of July at home with friends and family.  Mel and Brian's sister, Deb, manage to keep me guessing.  They were plotting something here....makes me nervous :)  Actually, I love it when friends and family come together.  It does the heart good!
 
 
The end of July brought us back to East Lake where Brian and I first met.  Kami, in a much less supermodel role, escaped with her girlfriends out on the canoe.  I have to say we are blessed to be surrounded with a bunch of amazing kids!
 
 
Marc's cousin, Kelli, and her daughter, Maya, came up for a wonderful visit.  They were able to join us at East Lake.  Hopefully this will be an annual tradition! 
 
 
Brian's niece, Ali, went to horse camp with Julia.  It was so sweet to see our 20 year old niece being a role model for her 9 year old cousin. Again, I marvel at the amazing young people that we are blessed to have in our lives!  This is Ali and her mount, Bubba.
 
 
Julia learning the barrel pattern.  I think she would live on a horse if she could.
 
 
Brian and I were able to get away for a belated honeymoon/hunting trip -- after 7 kids and five months of marriage...it was about time ;)  Above our cabin was this cable swing.  Brian pondered it for a brief moment before....
 
 
he took off!  This was so cool!
 
 
My turn!!!
 
 
Our trip provided some much needed time away.  We enjoyed being away from the rat race.  God's creation was extremely therapeutic.  I actually FINISHED a book in less than a month.  Amazing what one can accomplish with spare time! 
 
 
We saw lots of wildlife while we were away.  We saw plenty of targets, but came home without a freezer full of meat.  The only animals we captured were shot on film, not with Brian's bow.  Archery is tough!  This cow was hanging out with her herd by a creek.  
 
 
This guy was more nervous about us watching than his mama and sisters.  He'll make a nice big bull someday, but this year he was just a little spike.
 
 
This was my "kill" for the weekend.  He is mine, mine, all mine.  I named him Nigel.    What a monster!  He lived to see another day.
 
Thanks for catching up with us!  It was a great summer.  Hope you all enjoyed your own version of summer fun.  We'll look forward to communicating (hopefully) more consistently as fall gets into full swing.
 
With love and gratitude....
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Running the Race

In 2006 Marc started running.  It all started when he came home from work one day.  He was frustrated with his job, he had gained weight, had back pain, was lethargic, didn't sleep well, and was...well... generally irritable.  He spent his day behind a desk, only to come home to eat a heavy meal and flop on the couch.  I have always benefited from regular exercise, so I not-so-gently suggested he do the same.  After some wifely prodding (complete with eye rolling and exasperated sighs),  he reluctantly agreed to pack his running shoes and simply take a walk at lunch time. 

For a couple of weeks he kept up the walking routine.  One of his co-workers joined him for company.  His co-worker was more fond of jogging, though, and eventually convinced Marc to step it up a notch and start running.  He started running several times a week and loved it!  He lost weight, was much happier, and had energy in the evenings to hang with the kids.  He slept better and his chronic back pain went away.  I was so happy for him.

In 2007 he changed jobs and went to work for Slalom Consulting.  Several of his new co-workers were runners and they would often break for lunch and go running.  He really started putting in the miles, excited about how great he felt after each run.  In the fall of 2008 he learned that Slalom would sponsor employees to run the Rock and Roll Run in Seattle.  They would pay his entry fee and they had a training program that would help prepare him for the run.  I soon learned that it wasn't just a fun 5K, but a half marathon -- 13.1 miles.  While I was all for exercise, this seemed ludicrous.  Only crazy people sign up for such things.  It seemed so unappealing....and hard.  I wasn't overly excited or supportive.

I finally agreed (more sighs) to support him in his training; however, I insisted that he get a physical and get our family doctor to sign off that his forty-something body could handle it.  Well, we pretty much all know what happened next.  He went to the doctor for a routine exam in February of 2009.  He left the doctor's office with orders for a CT scan for a palpable mass in his abdomen.  Needless to say, Marc never got to run his half marathon.

This past fall I got dragged into running with my friends at the kids' school.  We would drop the kids at school in the morning and slog out a few miles, rewarding ourselves with Starbucks coffee afterwards.  I was reluctant at first.  I am not a runner.  I am a gym rat, preferring to log miles on the elliptical in a dry, temperature controlled environment.  I am not built for running.  It's hard.  The first few weeks I struggled simply to keep up.  I would be gasping for air while the other girls carried on conversations.  We would come to a traffic light and they would curse the fact that we missed the light and had to wait to cross.  I would praise God for that missed light! Oxygen is not overrated!

I stuck with it, though.  Not that I had a choice.  My friends are soooo convincing and there was, of course, the coffee macchiato at the end of the run.  By December I found my stride and was (ahem) enjoying myself.  I no longer felt like I was dying and could even carry on a conversation for the entire run.  I have to admit that those runs were such a blessing to me this year.  I have amazing friends.  I've known that all along, but it warrants being said again.  They are amazing.  As we slogged out the miles -- rain or shine -- we shared our frustrations, sorrows, worries, joys and triumphs.  To have that time to share with such faithful and wonderful women was so humbling and encouraging. 

In December I approached Marc's employer, Slalom, about the possibility of running the Rock and Roll Run in Seattle under the Slalom name.   I had started feeling led to finish Marc's race.  I now knew how much time and work it took for him to be ready for that race.  I had logged the miles, often reflecting on Marc and his life.  Always realizing how God has held us in His protective grip all the way.  Slalom agreed to let us run under their jersey, and they paid our entry fee!  These folks are generous beyond comprehension.  I am so honored to run with their company logo.  My  hope is that we represent this fine company well!  I will never be able to repay them for their kindness and generosity, but I can certainly acknowledge it as often as I can.  Please pray that I can finish strong...well...at least finish....

So, this weekend I am headed to Seattle with eight friends to finish what Marc could not.  I suspect it will be an emotional weekend for all involved.  Brian has been supportive of my training and will be there to cheer me on, along with Adam, Ben, Julia and Sophia.  I couldn't be more grateful for their encouragement.  I couldn't have made it through the training without their cooperation and support.

As I run I will be dedicating the miles to some special people. 

1.  Marc.  For his life and legacy.   I am proud to start running this race in his memory. 
2. Patti A.  For her battle against lung cancer.  She is also a beautiful servant of Christ.  This mile will be a prayer for healing in her body.  Her story can be found HERE
3.  Matt F.  For his battle against brain cancer.  He, too, is a faithful Christian man.  He, his wife, and their four kids, continue to trust the Lord despite the odds.  God is sovereign, though, and doesn't play odds.  This mile will be a time to pray for Matt's healing.  His story can be found HERE
4.  Jenn C.  Praising God that she beat breast cancer!
5.  Kamelah N.  Praising God that she beat Leukemia!
6.  Kathy C.  Praising God that she beat uterine cancer!
7.  Maxine E.  In memory of an amazing mentor and friend. 
8.  Adam.  My sweet son.  For his courageous and sensitive spirit.  Thank you, Adam.  You are becoming a mighty man of God.  I am so proud of you!
9.  Ben.  My loyal son.  For his protective and stoic spirit.  Thank you, Ben, for all your love and concern.  You, too, are becoming a mighty man of God.
10.  Julia.  My princess girl.  For finding the courage to smile again.  Your joy gives me hope.
11.  Sophia.  My "mini-me."  For your sensitive heart and independent spirit.  Your persistence in remembering your dad is honorable.  I love you, Sweetpea!
12.  Brian.  My husband.  For all the patience, support, and encouragement you have given me.  You are a good man and I am so blessed to have you as my husband.  You took on a lot by marrying me and the kids. God didn't make a more generous or servant hearted person. You are a wonderful spouse and father.  Your love, honesty, and leadership are a HUGE blessing.  Thank you!
13.1  Marc.  Crossing this finish line in his memory.  Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity....
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who who have loved His appearing.

2 Timothy 4: 6-8
 
 
With love and gratitude...



Monday, April 30, 2012

I Do...

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.   Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing  with water through the word,  and to present her to himself  as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:  21-33



It's been a month today that Brian and I were married.  Needless to say it's been a whirlwind of activity!  Things are finally settling down a bit and we are catching our breath.  I got our wedding photos back from our photographer, Gene Takalo, this week.  I thought I would share some of them with you.  For those of you that made it to the wedding, thank you!  We had an amazing night.  I am still smiling, thinking back on all of the friends and family that turned out to encourage us.  It was a truly blessed evening -- so much excitement and so many smiles!  Thank you for being there.  For those of you that couldn't be with us, here are some of the fun photos that Gene took of our wedding.  He did a great job! 




Me and my sweet Dad.  I am so lucky to have such an amazing family!



The ceremony starts.  What I love about this picture is my youngest.  She had a hard time focusing all evening.  Lots of standing around for an active six year old -- she kept herself busy and was quite the active wiggle worm on stage!  She makes us smile. The kids all did fantastic and really made the day fun and special.


Brian serving communion to his family.


Our friends and family praying over us after signing the marriage covenant.  Being in this circle is so powerful.  Reminds me of another circle not so long ago..... 


Knowing these arms were around us on our wedding day was so sweet.  Having friends and family that cry out in grief on our behalf is so humbling.  To share prayer again on a happy occasion felt even more humbling and so....right.  Thank you all of you that have loved us during the hard times and the joyous times.  We hope you see God's generous hand in our lives and that it brings you joy.


A most memorable kiss.  I love this picture because of Julia's face.  I think she wants to disappear behind the flowers!


Mr. and Mrs. Brian John Crockatt...I'm one lucky girl.


Our new family.  Brian and I are blessed beyond what we deserve. God is good.



Thank you, again, for all of your support, prayers, and love. 
With love and gratitude.....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Friends

A friend loves at all times....

Proverbs 17:17

I have been absent for quite some time.  Planning a wedding while trying to maintain a home and family has proven to be a challenge.  In a nutshell we have been making wedding plans, blending two households, doing homework, doing chores, running here, and running there.   Life has been busy! 

Our wedding date is fast approaching and we are so excited.  So much is going on this week that I'm having a hard time keeping track of all the details.  I have been easily overwhelmed the last few months.  I forget stuff.  I miss things.  I've been tired.   Many of the details of the wedding have been hard to manage for me.  Fortunately, I am blessed to have some amazing friends and family.  The best part of this wedding has been the enthusiasm and encouragement we have received from those that love us.  The celebration has seemed endless and the help has been welcomed and timely.  It's been fun getting ready for this weekend with the input of those that care.  I'll admit...my attention span for cake filling, flowers, and invitations has been limited.  When my interest and time has waned, others have stepped in heroically to save the day.

I just want to take the time to say thank you to my dear friends and family for making this such a fun season in our lives.  I appreciate each and every one of you.  You have seen us through the hardest of times and now celebrate our happiest times.  We hope this is as much your celebration as it is ours.  We are grateful to God for the blessing of our relationships.  Our cup continues to overflow! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On Valentine's Day...

I am not a big fan of Valentine's Day.  Actually, I'm not a big fan of February.  I could do without the month altogether if it were up to me.  Unfortunately, I muddle through every year, anxiously looking forward to March and the arrival of spring.  Three years ago Marc was diagnosed the week of Valentine's Day.  Two years ago we arrived in Washington D.C. for what was to be a life saving operation.  Those hopes were dashed and we flew home dejected and sad.  Last year I remembered the cruddy  previous two Valentine's Days.  Three for three.  Sigh.

I'm not much of a romantic.  Marc and I never did much for Valentine's -- a card, maybe a token gift, but aside from that, it was really a Hallmark holiday suited more for kids.   What bothers me now, more than anything, is that this silly holiday reminds me exactly where and when I experienced some of my deepest hurts.  Given the context of the holiday makes it all the harder.

I was really struggling last week with those emotions.  I was glum and agitated -- just trying to muddle through.   Brian and I spent the weekend sifting through household items and reorganizing.  Blending two homes is a lot of work and we have been diligently picking away at the monster project before us.  I was in Marc's closet, removing some of the last, seemingly unimportant, items.  One of those items was an old Coke crate.  Marc collected antique Coke items and I thought this was just one of the many collectibles in the house.  I had overlooked this crate for years, remembering that it held some old glass coke bottles.  It did hold some old bottles; however, when I opened it, I was blown away.  Nestled next to the bottles he had squirreled away, what I believe to be, every single card, love note, post-it note, and scrap of paper the kids and I ever gave him.  Upon further inspection, I discovered that he not only kept the notes, but had written on most of them the date he received them and why.  From the amorous to the mundane, he kept them all. 

The kids and I sat down and carefully sorted through the cards.  They delighted to find some of their earliest handmade cards.  They read through many of the notes I sent Marc, and asked a lot of questions.  What struck me most was all the notes of encouragement -- notes I sent when he was discouraged at work, frustrated, or worried about finances.  I was amused that I could remember those events, but they don't seem like they were that big of a deal.  Minor stresses as we lived life together.  Sure, they seemed big at the time, but not important enough to remember today.  All I remember was a loving husband and a marriage that endured a lot of tests.  Pretty simple.

I consider that treasure box of memories my last Valentine's Day gift from Marc.  It makes me smile to know that my notes and words encouraged him, and touched him enough to keep all these years -- that he chronicled our life by making notes to remember those times.  It validates what I already know was a great love story. 

I have to admit that the box of memories lifted my spirits and gave me new perspective.  I am content, moving forward, and yes...happy.  I was also reminded that what I had was amazing.  I'm looking forward to bringing what I learned with Marc into my relationship with Brian.  I would encourage those of you that are blessed to be married to look at the bigger picture.  Love each other.  Encourage each other.  That's the stuff that matters.  All the other stuff....well, if you do it right, it's the small stuff and it's not worth worrying about.  Trust me.



Mounds of memories....I still can't believe he kept all this.

This was a post-it note that I stuck to his wallet when I dropped it off (apparently....I don't remember this).  He must have thought it was pretty special that his girlfriend, at the time, would do this for him.  Who woulda thought a quick post-it note would have meant so much then...and so much now?

This was a quick love note I left when I took off for a baby shower just before the boys were born.  It was a note about what I had prepared Marc and my dad for lunch, and telling them to have a good day....and that I loved him.  Again, who in the world would keep this stuff?!?  All I can say is that my kids find it fascinating.

Most of the holiday cards are dated.  They obviously meant more to him than I ever knew.


With love and gratitude.....