Babbling Brooke

Babbling Brooke

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring Is Coming


               Who else has questioned if Spring is ever going to come?  It has been a LONG, grey, cold Winter and while the calendar claims that it is in fact Spring the temperature and sky seem to scream WINTER.  We have covered our outdoor ferns and plants more times than I care to count, I have bundled my kids up to play outside only for in a few short minutes to have them come back inside chilled to the bone.  I cannot tell you the amount of times my kids have questioned "When is it ever going to get warm outside?" Each time I have told them soon, very soon but in all honesty I myself have questioned the same thing. Will Spring ever come?

            At 34 years old I have seen Spring every single year so deep down I know that it will in fact come, but here right now I look out my windows to see dark skies and frigid temps.  It is very difficult today to believe that Spring is in fact on its way.  Sunshine on my face, warm temps on my shoulders are at best a wish today.  While cold temps and grey skies are valid to complain about this late in April they are nothing compared to the Winters that all of us face at some point in our lives.  The Winters that aren't dark because of overcast skies, the Winters that aren't cold because of frigid temps.  The Winters that are like a suffocating dungeon of grief, heartbreak or an unbelievable amount of misfortune.  The Winters when you look out your window to be reminded of what could've been or what should be.  The Winters of your life where you are left questioning if there is any hope or joy left to be had. 

             The Winters when you feel like Spring just won't come.  We have all lived through this season of life.  Just like I have seen Winter fade each year and green grass rise up and flowers bloom I have seen Winters of pain in my life subside and joy to rise up and laughter to find its way back in.  If you are in the dead of Winter in your life, if it feels like you are hopeless and that your joy is gone I speak from experience when I say that Spring is coming! I have experienced pain and dark times but I have also seen my joy restored.  And if it weren't for the darkness of our Winters we would never appreciate the brightness that comes with our Springs.  Today take heart for you may be in the middle of Winter but I am certain Spring is coming!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Need Me Some More til You Don't Need Me Anymore





    On Monday my daughter came home from school and as usual I opened her backpack up to see what homework she had for the week.  I opened her folder and there it was a white piece of paper that made my heart stop, a tinge of sadness came over me as I realized yet another page in her book of life was almost time to be turned.  The paper was informing us it was time to order her Kindergarten cap and gown.  Her Kindergarten year the year that seemed a million moons away just a few years ago was now nearing the end.  I couldn't help but wish for her to need me some more til she doesn't need me anymore. 

      I can remember times in her first couple of years I wished she didn't need me so much.  I wished she had more independence so that I could get things done.  As we all know that is impossible for a baby and now looking back I see just how quickly those years of needing me 24/7 passed by.  And isn't it funny to think that here I sit just a few years later mourning the days that I used to want to hurry and pass me by.  Today I look at the yesterdays behind me and I am thankful for the times she needed me more. 


     Her independence these days is impressive and heartbreaking all at the same time.  As all mothers know watching your child grow up is a constant beaming with pride at the new things they are learning & achieving while also watching your heart shatter and break knowing that is a little less they need of you.   She reads books to her little brother at night, books that just a few months ago I was reading to both of them. She has never been more sure of what clothes look best on her and has gotten so good at reminding me that my taste in clothes is a "mom's" taste.  She wakes and gets her own breakfast and gets herself dressed. Admittedly some mornings this one doesn't make me too sad but never the less still a reminder that she needs me less and less.  She leaves for school and I think I wish she needed me some more.


     And just when I start to get sad she does something like last night to remind me just how much she still needs me.  Last night I was up at 2:30 with her little brother who was crying uncontrollably because he wanted it to be daylight.  My groggy self held him explaining that it was the middle of the night and everyone was asleep.  I laid him down and rubbed his back until he fell back asleep.  I come downstairs get back in bed to be woken up at 4 by my girl.  In tears she tells me she is scared because she had a bad dream about a witch.  Through her tears and loud sobs she asks me to come lay with her.  I grabbed my pillow and went upstairs to finish our sleep in her bed.  I laid beside her rubbing her back and smiling because she was reminding me that she Needs Me Some More til She Won't Need Me Anymore. 

    

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Lessons From My Nana

     


   Today is the sixth birthday that my Nana will spend in heaven.  Today is the sixth year I can't pick up the phone and wish her a happy birthday, it is the sixth year I can't hear her tell me about her plans for a game of dominoes and pizza to celebrate her big day, it is the sixth year I haven't heard her talk about her love for the Atlanta Braves and her beloved, Chipper Jones.  It sounds sad to think of all the things I am missing and won't ever share again with her; but the reality is today I am happy and reflective.  Do I miss her? Everyday. Every. Single. Day.  I miss so much about her it is unreal but now when I think of the goodness of heaven and what is to come there is more to look forward to.  A sweet reunion with my Nana is definitely one of the top things on my list. 


       Today my happiness comes from reflection of just how good she was.  Today my happiness comes from lessons she taught me that are now apart of me and make up who I am, which in turn reminds me that part of her is apart of me.  I can't think of anything more beautiful than that even on the days when I miss her the most.  I want to share lessons that my Nana taught me so that I have them in writing for myself and for my Meritt.


       It is impossible to share all the goodness she taught me but here are a few of the good ones


COOK FOR YOUR FAMILY- Everyone's grandma is the best cook, I know, and I am among the many who will argue that my Nana was the best cook to ever exist.  There are some foods that will never taste the same again and then there are some that my mom and others have worked tirelessly to perfect to give it that perfect Nana taste.  Anyone that cooks knows it is all trial and error.  Some things are winners other things are not but just keep trying! It is a privilege and honor to cook for my family and often it offers me therapy to get in the kitchen and chop and play.  Recently my daughter told me that I was the best cook ever.  This is not true but her words meant so much because it made me feel like she was getting a glimpse of my Nana.

LOVE YOUR HUSBAND- When Brian and I got engaged I started having lots of wedding showers.  Some of my girlfriends threw me a lingerie shower and while my Nana didn't attend the shower she brought me a gift the day of the shower.  I remember opening it in front of her and blushing at the fact that my Nana was giving me lingerie.  She clearly knew I didn't know how to respond so she talked for me. She told me that romance is very important especially to your husband and that I needed to remember to work at it all of my days.  In the moment I was embarrassed but once I left her sight I let her words sink in and I knew the wisdom and truth in those words.  My Nana always was able to flirt with my Papa and there was a specific grin that only she could bring to his face. 

LAUGH AT YOURSELF- The woman knew humor and was absolutely hysterical.  She didn't know how to swim but she let my mom and aunts try and teach her almost every summer.  This usually resulted in her laughing so uncontrollably that she went under and someone had to pull her out.  I can remember many games of charades that ended in her wetting her pants from laughing so hard.  She was HILLARIOUS and never took herself too seriously.  This past year we were at the beach with my parents and Meritt had my mom on the beach in her swimsuit doing cartwheels, toe touches and cheers in front of tons of people.  It was hysterical and also the most warm feeling to see Meritt getting to laugh hysterically at my mom like I did at my Nana.

BE A FRIEND- There wasn't a friend she had to get sick, have surgery or just be down in the dumps that didn't receive a meal, a visit or card.  My Nana loved her friends and she valued building her friends up and being there for them in the good times and the bad.  She was intentional with her friendships and brought a taste of Jesus to all who knew her. 

IT'S ALL FOR HIM- Her life is over but the 71 years she spent on this earth were all for HIM.  My Nana loved the Lord with all of her heart and she spent time with Him every single day.  She dove into His word everyday, prayed frequently ( I am certain that me and my cousins turned out good because of the numerous prayers she covered us in).  Simply put she loved Jesus and I am certain that her time in heaven has been beyond beautiful. 

      The lessons I learned aren't extraordinary.  The lessons I learned aren't impossible.  The lessons my Nana taught me were humble and good.  The way she lived her life is motivation for me to live my life like her.  It wasn't in her words it was her actions.  She lived out what she believed.  While I am sad for my kids missing out on knowing such an amazing matriarch I am thankful for her life.  At night when I curl up in bed with the kids to say bedtime prayers I often tell them a story of my Nana.  It is beautiful to share her life with them and I always feel her presence in the room when I speak of her.  Nana, today it is your birthday but I am the one getting the gift.  The gift of remembering so many wonderful things you taught me!

Monday, November 27, 2017

When the Words Won't Come

          It seems in the past year I have had several friends going through some really hard stuff.  I don't know if it is because I am getting older so more adult, real life problems are present or if it is just a really tough season for several that I care about.  It has been a variety of struggles, heartaches and crises.  When the news has came each time I have felt the tug of war struggle of wanting to fix things and not knowing what to do.  It is like you want to jump in the water and rescue them but there is no place for you to jump.  So then you are left saying "I will pray for you." Sometimes saying that just seems cliché and frankly it sometimes doesn't feel like enough.  Recently a friend changed my mind on those cliché feelings. 

          My list of friends and family that I am praying for is long and full of BIG stuff.  Occasionally I will send a text to a friend after I have prayed for them.  I don't know about you but there are times I will be driving down the road or unloading the dishwasher and God will just place a friends name on my heart and it is in that moment that I stop in my tracks and pray for that person.  I almost consider it a "text from heaven." God knows the busy season of life I am in so he pricks my heart and stops me then and there for a time of prayer.  Recently I texted a friend "I just prayed for you" I just wanted her to know that God had just placed her on my heart and I wanted her to know that even though her storm is raging she still has people in her corner rooting for her and praying for her.  The response she sent is what quieted my doubts and made "I will pray for you" anything but a cliché.  My friend has been through a lot, most recently a great loss.  When I told her I had just prayed for her she replied "good, thank you, I need you to because lately when I try to pray the words just won't come."


         Many of you have been right where she is...you know God, you know of his faithfulness and goodness but the waves keep crashing before you can open your mouth to catch some air.  You get over one hurdle to look up and see that a mountain is next.  The pain of life can be paralyzing, it can be a brutal place and to that all I can say is thank goodness this world is not our home! But here we are living in this world and if you are on the sidelines watching as friends get hit blow by blow with the pain and heartache that life dishes out- pray for them! Let them know that you are praying! God is faithful and provides us with each other to lighten the loads of our brothers and sisters when life gets too heavy.  If you are being beaten by life right now, if you are paralyzed by the pain of life and the words won't come when you pray- let others pray for you.  Let others walk with you and give you the sustenance you need to make it through the valley.  God has given us so many blessings one of the greatest is the gift of each other!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

One Step At A Time




       It was the day before his 5th birthday.  I picture his mom, Sarah, checking off her to do list.  Cupcakes have been ordered, presents bought, candles secured, deposit for the party paid.  I imagine her doing all the exciting things a mom does the day before her child's birthday.  I even imagine a flood of sadness wash over her as she wonders 'where have these almost 5 years gone?'   I picture her smiling at how hard the newborn stage was and how it felt never ending but now he has grown into this independent little boy.  I bet if you asked Sarah the year before what she would be doing the day before her son, Brodie's, 5th birthday she would have envisioned something much like I imagined above. 


       The reality is the day before Brodie's fifth birthday things were not like what I had imagined. Things were in fact a nightmare.  Sarah & Josh, Brodie's parents found themselves sitting a doctors office trying to wrap their brains around the words coming from his mouth.  They listened as the doctor diagnosed Brodie with Philadelphia Positive Pre-B ALL (leukemia).  June 24, 2011 at 4 years, 11 months and 29 days old Brodie's life was completely changed.  The rug was pulled out from under them.  A pinch on Sarah's arm confirmed that she was in fact not dreaming.  She was awake and this was a parents worst nightmare happening to her oldest son, Brodie. 


    

       He was admitted to the hospital for 29 days to begin his first rounds of chemo.  He spent time in and out of the hospital before a 5 week stay for his bone marrow transplant on October 4, 2011.  His donor would be his sister, Jenna, she is super proud of that! Everything went well with the transplant but on March 23, 2012 they were told that Brodie had relapsed.  This began his longest stay to date, 4 months, YES! you read that right 4 months of a small, sterile hospital room.  Brodie began a 3 year long treatment plan with chemo only this time instead of a transplant.  Brodie has stayed at the hospital 370 days total since his diagnosis, and still goes monthly for labs/meds.  He continues to take daily chemo pills at home and still has his port but otherwise is doing awesome! He has been in remission since April 2012.  The family has developed a mantra, One Step At A Time. 



       Things are different for Brodie than a child who has never fought leukemia or cancer.  He loves sports but contact sports are something that he is not able to participate in.  Brodie has remained full of joy and found new interests and hobbies to involve himself in.  Truly living the one step at a time, when he finds out he cannot do something he reroutes his steps and finds something new to enjoy.  For now a couple of those things include being the water/ball boy for Jackson Christian's high school football team.  He loves the game of football and any chance he see's my husband that is what he is talking to him about.  Another hobby is cooking.  Brodie is great in the kitchen and loves to create unique concoctions with things in his fridge or pantry.  Recently he made a homemade alfredo sauce with sausage that was a huge hit.  He also loves to make Julia Child's chicken fricassee.  He is going to have one happy wife someday with his cooking skills!!



       To know Brodie, is to love Brodie! He is a kid full of joy that has taught people way older than him many life lessons.  When life throws you a curve, which it will, slow down and take it one step at a time.  Reroute if you have to but never ever stop taking the steps! Speaking of steps...there is a large group from our church, including Sarah-Brodie's mom, running the St. Jude half marathon.  If you have ran a half marathon before then you know they are tough, they require a lot of training, mental & physical discipline and ibprofeun :)

         I can say that every training run I have done has included prayer time for Brodie.  I have logged many miles and if I am honest there have been some runs where I wanted to throw in the towel and go home.  But when my mind is wrestling with my tired legs it is in those moments that I am reminded of Brodie and his whole family.  I think of the 4 month stay in the hospital and what he wouldn't have given to have a day outside with fresh air and time to run around, so I pound the pavement a little more.  One step at a time.  Next up my knee will begin to ache and I will think surely I have to stop and then I remember his parents, Sarah & Josh, and how emotionally and physically exhausted they must have been. But as parents they stay strong and fight on.  One step at a time.  Then my side- the pinch is hurting so bad surely I should quit.  Then I think of Brodie, still taking chemo, still going to the doctor monthly.  One step at a time. 


      I write all of this to ask that you pray for Brodie and not just Brodie but all the precious kids at St. Jude.  It is a place that does great work and they do it all free of charge to their patients! I also ask that if you are able please consider a donation to St. Jude! We have created a Team Brodie page and the link is just below this.  You can easily click on the link and make a one time donation.  Anything you can spare will aid in saving the life of a child $5, $25, $100.  Thanks for reading this, thank you for your donations, and most of all thank you for praying!!


http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=4605611&pg=personal&fr_id=67039


Friday, September 15, 2017

Listen to Him

             A couple of years ago a girlfriend of mine spoke at a ladies night.  She gave her testimony, told some hilarious family stories and ended with one piece of advice that she was given that she wanted to share with all of us.  Her advice seemed so simple but it spoke so much to me and since that night has been a whisper in my ear when my own human doubts creep in. 


            Her advice..."When you feel those words from God, when you hear Him telling you do something don't doubt it, don't hush it, don't talk yourself out of it.  Just do it."  These words have stuck with me and I have tried, sometimes failed, to act when I hear or feel God nudging me to be His hands and feet. 


            This week I stumbled upon a recipe and randomly my first thought was "I should make this for my neighbor."  My neighbor has been sick so it wasn't such a far fetched idea.  My human self said things like "what if she is allergic to nuts?", "what if she is sick from chemo?", "she doesn't know I am making this what if she isn't even home?" but louder than my doubts were the words of my girlfriend, so I loaded Wells up and off to Kroger we went.  I got my produce and passed the florals, as I passed I saw the most happy sunflowers.  It was almost like they saw me too, "buy me, buy me" they petitioned.  In my cart they went. 


           That afternoon Brian and Meritt took her husband the goodies.  I honestly hadn't thought much more about it until yesterday when my neighbor walked over to our backyard.  She looked great and was feeling great which made us so happy.  Her words though, they confirmed what my girlfriend had told us that night a many moons ago.  You see my neighbor told me that friends were bringing them dinner the night that we delivered the berry crisp and flowers.  She told me that she had a brownie mix that she was going to make but hadn't yet made it.  Then she told me that day that she kept thinking as soon as her husband got home from work she needed him to take her to get flowers for the table. Before they could leave for the store Brian and Meritt had delivered our goodies.  Obviously I had no clue that she was having company and I definitely didn't know what things she needed...but God, He did!

             The things I did were not extraordinary, the things I did really weren't even my idea.  They were God's.  Thankful for the great advice my friend, Chantel, shared 2 years ago otherwise my human nature may have gotten in the way of being the hands and feet of Jesus.  I challenge you to listen and act on what God is telling you to do.  The results can be great and even better glorify Him!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Growing Pains

         

  As a kid my maternal grandparents lived about an hour away.  About every six weeks or so we would go and eat at their house after Sunday church.  I can remember the hour long drive felt like eternity because we were hungry and also because we knew the amazing food that awaited us.  My tastebuds would venture to say that NO one can fry okra, make homemade jam, or bake the perfect broccoli casserole quite like my Nana.  So as we drove the hour drive we wanted my dad to hit the pedal a little harder and get us there a little sooner.  There was nothing extraordinary about Sunday afternoons at my Nana & Papa's, except all the ordinary in it.  It was just the fuel we needed to fill our hearts & tummies.  We shared a big meal, laughed & talked, played a game or two of kickball or we'd sit at the table with dominoes.  Some might nap while others watched Sunday NFL, there was no agenda, no requirements, just time spent conversing and loving on each other as families do.

             When I was 9 or 10 years old I remember it was a Sunday night and we had just said our goodbyes to my grandparents.  They stood on their carport, as grandparents do, and waved goodbye as we reversed out of their driveway.  It was very normal, it had been a very normal, fun Sunday so as we reversed I couldn't understand why my mom was crying? I asked her...I remember as she wiped tears she said "because everytime we leave they get a little older and so do you." Being a child I really hadn't noticed that my grandparents had aged.  I thought they dressed like old people, and had grey hair like old people but as an innocent child I assumed that is how they would look forever.


            Fast forward to 24 years later...my Nana has been gone for 5 years, my parents nest is empty.  There four little birdies are all adults now; my oldest brother and I both live in the same town as my parents along with our spouses and children.  My two younger brothers have taken career paths that have lead them to living further away.  One brother lives about 90 minutes away and the other, the baby brother, lives about 9 hours away.  Yes, 9 hours away.  I know that is normal and it happens to families everywhere but in my childhood head I just knew we would all live super close and see each other daily.

            A couple of weeks ago we were blessed to all get to be together for the first time in 7 LONG months.  The visit went way too fast, it was filled with eating, swimming, and laughing.  It filled our tanks with the fuel we needed to make it until our next visit all together.  As we drove off I felt the tears as they streamed warmly down my face.  I was taken back to a time when I saw my mom crying those same tears.  I think the tears come from growing pains.  The aching in our hearts that know what is coming...parents getting older, children spreading their wings and weeks (sometimes months) that stand between us all being together again.  No visit is taken for granted and it is truly a celebration to all be together doing nothing extraordinary at all.