Dear God

Dear God

We met D nearly four months ago as she boldly announced herself at a concert. Like many times after, she rudely inserted herself at the most inconvenient times. She found her way into moments, when I was hours away for work, trying to take a night for myself, enjoying the holidays, meeting a tight deadline for work and oh so much more. D has successfully found ways to squeeze into every aspect of life and sometimes against my many attempts to keep her at bay, she win my attention, energy and causes overwhelming fear and what feels like a hollow out of reach future.

When the weight of D comes washing over me, I have to take a deep breath, shove D back where she belongs and keep repeating…. All in God’s time and in His plan.

To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

While I chant my mantra incessantly, the overwhelming waves of D have become more frequent. For a few moments every day, I am overtaken by it all and lash out. Once, I calm myself down; I turn my attention back to God – All in His time and in His plan.

On a particularly long day with D was rearing her ugly head – Brad with headaches and me with exhaustion and fear, I had a conversation that went something like this.

Dear God,

Did you know that we are on 100 plus days since starting this journey? And while I know this time frame is nothing for you, it is a long time for me. You realize that I live in the era of Amazon Prime, right? I mean even here in St. Louis, I can get anything in two days. We are considered archaic compared to the main cities that could get that same item in mere hours.

Here we are 100 plus days just trying to name D properly. Don’t get me wrong; I am overjoyed at the path you have chosen. I am humbled by your grace and power. I am astonished to read the word tumor on every document and know by your abilities; you changed our path.

But God, I am woefully human. I am impatient, and I need your grace. I need you to carry us through this next wait. I need you to help me find the line between your timing, plan and my own human efforts needed to push Brad’s care forward. I need you to heal my husband and show me the path for us.

Just as a reminder, you did create the universe in 6 days. Could you speed this up?

Love,
Your impatient child, Nicki

We meet the next doctor in 10 days. It will be 129 days since we first started this journey, and I speak for both Brad and me when I say we are getting tired. We are weakened by not knowing what comes next, or the time it takes to get answers and heal Brad.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  – 2 Corinthians 12:9

While the body and mind might be weary from the long journey, our spirits, laughter, love and faith is strong. Every day is a gift. We all carry around our own personal versions of D, but we must not forget that today is a gift. A gift that we should treasure! It is ok to let the weight of it all wash over you from time to time, but pick yourself back up and say, “In His time and in His will.”
In His time and in His will, Brad will be healed, our burden lessened and ideally sleep restored. 

Around The Bend

In less than 24 hours, Brad and I should know what the future holds. We jokingly tell people that our life is dictated by doctor appointments. We live from one appointment to the next. Well, this period is almost over. As we have many times before, we will anxiously await the doctor telling us what our next stage will look like. Normally, I have some expectations around the appointment – more scans, holes in Brad’s head, blood work and waiting.

Tomorrow, I have no expectations even though I have desperately tried. I have played every feasible scenario out in my head, but none resonate with me. None, actually feel like our life. As much as I try, it seems like a silly day dream. One that has taken a turn from the independently wealthy scenario into the “what if” world.

The problem is that I don’t even have a solid “what if”! Do you know how hard it is to Google, brain lesion/tumor/inflammation/mass affected by steroids not ___, _____ or ______ with characteristics and defined through scans as _____, ______ and ________. You literally read the weirdest articles that give no direction.

In my attempt to get some control, I read all 99 medical reports which have gotten me into a tailspin and a medical degree through WebMD.

For the first time in my life, I have no expectation or fake control over what comes next for us. I have to scoot over and give the wheel to God. I have to trust that while I can’t see what is around the next bend, He knows and has planned our trip every step of the way…snacks included! While I know this, it is still hard as I thumb through Brad’s medical record one more time. Maybe, they missed something that I a non-medical person can find. 😉

It is an awe-inspiring and oh so terrifying experience to not be able to plan or imagine your life after 11:20 am on Wednesday, January 4th. Tomorrow might be painted with the greatest relief and joy yet, or the gut-wrenching truth of this is the hard road ahead. No amount of worry, Googling or using my WebMD degree will change the words that come out of the doctor’s mouth.

For today, my intention is simple.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

Tomorrow, God will share the path that he has chosen for Brad and I. One that we have patiently waited 96 days to be revealed. I pray for grace, acceptance and the ability to let him lead.

Thank You!

It is rare that I am speechless, but today I am. We are 86 days into our journey to determine what D is made of and I am continually humbled. Since October 1st, we have had many scans, blood draws, headaches, pills swallowed, sleepless nights, hundreds of missing words and two lovely new holes in Brad’s head. When you take a step back, it can be overwhelming and appears impossible that anyone could find joy in the journey.

Well, I like to tell people, I have never felt so blessed or stressed in my life. The stress part is pretty obvious. An alien is growing in my husband’s head, and we have no idea what it is, how to fix it or what our future holds.

The blessed part can seem a little less clear unless you are looking for it, and I have been searching. While searching for God and joy throughout this uncertain road, it became clear. YOU, yes I am talking to you, have contributed to the feeling of being blessed.

Since October 1st, we have had thousands of prayers from all across the world, kind words, meals dropped at my door, teary phone calls, countless words of encouragement and unconditional love.

Today, when we can get so wrapped up in opening the (insert toy here) we wanted, but remember to take a moment and be thankful for the gifts you receive every day. I am thankful for my little life in Florissant. My life that has a kitten in the window, giggling nieces and nephews, supportive parents, overwhelming support from friends, an understanding boss, the ability to still chase my dreams, strong faith in the storm and most importantly being Brad’s wife.

For everyone who has helped us along this long road, Thank You!

You have shown us the face of God time and time again. You have lifted us on days where the unknown road seemed unbearable. You made us smile when you shared your joy as I feared I would never have a normal happy life. You have given us gifts every day, and for that I am grateful. You have impacted our story! While I do know what the road ahead of me holds, I know that God has blessed us with you. Just as Simon helped Jesus carry his cross, you have helped carry our burden without complaint. You have opened yourself to walk on this path and share in both the joy and sorrow. You have emulated God’s love!

This Christmas season, I am humbled and grateful. Thank you for being part of our story. Merry Christmas!

I am an imperfect human.

crystal river

I am an imperfect human.

Regardless of who you are, I think this week was hard. Social media was filled with fear and hate, the sun is set prior to coming home from work and I know, my anxiety about to-dos was at an all-time high. While I try to not to get caught in the rat race of life, this week I was sucked in.

I am an imperfect human, and I was struggling.

My Dad reminded me of this concept during our now regular teary phone call. I was filled with immense guilt over snapping at Brad about our Halloween decorations still being up. That morning, my vanity was high and my compassion was low. The words slipped out and I was immediately field with regret. My Dad’s advice was oh so simple, but directly from God: “Nick, you are only human”. This small phrase helped lift the veil of struggle and pity that had covered me all week.

I am an imperfect human who wasn’t looking.

All week, I kept thinking, God where are you? Why is my worry so heavy and my burden so strong? I kept praying and begging for Him to help, but ignored His replies.

God never leaves us! He was patiently waiting next to me. Trying to reach me in my deeply imperfect state. He had not left me, but rather I turned away from Him and became worried with the details of life. While difficult for a stubborn controlling woman like me, He will carry me through with joy when I let Him.

To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison – Isaiah 42:7

God used my Dad to help open my eyes, and simply reminded me that I am human.

I am an imperfect human who seeks to know Him.

Throughout this experience, I have learned that answered prayers don’t always look like what we want. Here I am begging for God to help me carry the burden and the answers were all around me. God was showing His love through many people reaching out, but I was caught in my own prison unable to see.

In this life, there are not coincidences. They are God moments! Here are a few from my week:

Prayers, prayers and more prayers. I jokingly tell people that Brad is going to make our community saints by the end of the year because so many people are praying. I am amazed at the power of prayer! I am truly humbled at those who are praying avidly for us through their own struggles. Their ability to show God’s face through their own burden is something I am striving for daily.

God’s timing is never wrong.  A few weeks ago, my Dad reached out to a family friend who is a missionary in Mexico. JD sent a quick note back saying he was praying for us and internet was spotty. This week, he wrote us a beautiful note. One that God had planned for this very moment.

“Faith allows divine love to break into this fallen world. This is an opportunity to grow in faith. God reserves opportunities like these for some of his closest disciples; let us show God that even when things are tough, we will not leave him. We will not abandon him.”

At this point, I am like OK, OK, I hear you. I know that you are with me and I have to focus on you to get through.

Nothing is lost when you have faith. I had faulted on my morning prayers this past week. With my inability to see God near, it was hard to pray. Of course, this was the week that I found my Jesus is calling book. I had put it in a safe place. 🙂 In all seriousness, I had been looking for it for 6 weeks and even had a new one in my Amazon cart. It was not lost, but tucked away until the time was right. The first reading was Learn to Appreciate Difficult Days. Again, I was telling God OK, OK, I hear you.

Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer. – Mark 1:35

If we let ourselves out of the prisons was make and open our eyes, we will see God all around us. He was with my all week, showing His love and mercy for me. God will never abandon or stop loving me. It is my job to keep my eyes and heart pointed to him. He will carry me through with joy if I let him.

I am in imperfect human and I keep my eyes pointed to Him.

When I met her

One week ago today, I asked to see her. Yes, you heard me right, her. We named the tumor as a way to separate the struggles we encounter on this road. A good friend of ours and role model mentioned it in passing the other week that her husband and her separate Jan wants vs. MS wants as a way to keep frustration at bay. This, of course, was another gift from God as it was two days prior to D spurring her nasty ways. Brad wanted to cook me dinner after a long day, but D bucked up and prevented it. It is easier to accept the hardships when you think of D as an unwelcome guest in our marriage.

Again, you heard me, our marriage went from three (God, Brad and me) to four now that D has decided to join. I have heard a lot about what D might be and a lot about what she is not, but I wanted to meet her. I wanted to see the exact location that she camped out and how comfortable she had made herself.

This is what I learned from meeting D…

  • Brad’s writing is more profound now than ever before not because of his own talent. Yes, this sounds harsh because he is a brilliant writer, but D is pretty comfy in her reading nook. I have new found appreciation for his writing because it is clearly not easy and he is being guided on what to share. He feels inspired to share his story and he is being guided, I believe by God, on sharing his story.
  • Brad is the most optimistic person I have ever met. D is taking up a good amount of room and I imagine if roles were reversed, I would be complaining about her every moment. He takes her with stride and laughs at her every chance that he gets. Again, God is with us on this one as D alone should be driving a person nuts.
  • She has a big booty and that booty will be evicted one day, just not today. We will wait patiently as we determine who D is and how to gracefully kick her out of our marriage. Until then, we wait and pray. As my brother wrote after hearing the news, “red wine tonight and prayers, prayers and more prayers” This is the perfect plan to deal with D in stride.

I am glad that I met D. She is unwelcomed, big booty and making herself way too comfy, but it shows me how strong my husband and marriage is. We are blessed that throughout our unwelcome guest, we can find joy, share our story and most importantly be given the grace to wait for her eviction. I will celebrate when my marriage returns to normal as it should be; God, Brad and me.

Sleepless Nights

Brad’s snoring use to drive me nuts. So much that I would make jokes about smothering him with our beloved kitten. Now it is a comfort to know one of use is truly asleep. For the past month, our nights have started with pure exhaustion taking over and a wake-up call at an ungodly hour. We have found a sense of norm in our new hours, and taking turns on who is up half the night. I jokingly tell people it is good practice for a newborn baby when the time comes. Read more

My Husband’s Brain Tumor

Busch Wildlife St Charles Missouri

We are 22 days into this new journey, more needles than I would like to count, meeting our new BFF, CT and MRI at every turn, 2 nights in the hospital and one scar forming. We should be 22 days into the most terrifying journey of our life. 27 years old and faced with a tumor straddling language and reading. My two favorite parts of my husband. The parts that will last when the laugh lines settle in and our family is grown. The parts that matter when you are 80, sitting on the porch and telling stories about when we were kids and newspapers were actually paper!

Here we are 22 days later feeling more blessed today than the last. Stress fades a bit easier and finding the joy seems to come a bit quicker. 22 days of terms we don’t understand and unthinkable outcomes, turned into hundreds of prayers, unmeasurable love and God being everywhere we look.

At first, I am sure people thought we had lost our minds. How could we receive devastating news with unknown around every corner and still smile? How could we handle it with grace and faith that we will be ok? How are you accepting ok might not be the outcome we want? The answer is simple and oh so hard all at the same time.

God took care of us to this point. He prepared us in every way without us ever knowing it. I once heard, when you look into the rearview mirror, you can see how God has gotten you there. Well, when you are analyzing ever moment of your life to determine when the symptoms started and how you are feeling, you get to see the path a little closer up. Honestly though, there is too much good not to think that God will carry us through.

As I have since watching my entire future get whisked away into an ambulance, I pray not for my own desires, but to be given the peace and strength to accept God’s will. Something that is hard for a stubborn woman like me.

When faced with tragedy, you can ask why me or be thankful for what you have. Brad and I chose to be thankful for each other, our faith, family and friends. Thankful to love a bit fuller and get to do this crazy journey which some think is incredible grace and we now call life.

Brunch at Tiffany’s

Brunch at Tiffany's

So what is a girl to do when her husband is out of pocket for the weekend, call up her Mom and take a Brunch at Tiffany’s cooking class! While there are a variety of cooking classes in St. Louis, The St. Louis Community College’s Continuing Education is my favorite. This past weekend, my Mom and I took Brunch at Tiffany’s which was hosted by you guessed it, Tiffany! The class description alone inspired me to learn some new dishes, and the class didn’t disappoint. Read more

Day trip to Hermann

Herman, Mo

All aboard the train to Hermann for a day of Missouri countryside, delicious wine, gourmet food and most importantly ending the night in your own bed! As the weather starts to cool, I want nothing more to find a beautiful view and sip a full body Missouri red wine. Like most people, it is hard to carve out an entire weekend to get away. Between, wedding, showers, baptisms, birthdays and work, Brad and I do not have a full free weekend until Novemeber! My need for Missouri wine has to be satisfied before then which is how our day trip to Hermann was born!

Here is how you can plan your own day trip to Hermann!

  1. Pick a Saturday that you are free to run away to wine country.
  2. Book your train ticket! You will want to take the Missouri River Runner #311 which leaves St. Louis at 9:15 am. Don’t forget to book your train back. While we want to get away, the goal is to end in your own bed. I would suggest taking the Missouri River Runner #316 which leaves Hermann at 7:48 p.m.
  3. Plan fun activities for your train ride. I suggest packing a deck of cards, light and gives a wide variety of games to play. My obsession with trains and playing cards started when I backpacked through Europe. We use to play cards for hours to pass the time as we galavanted from town to town
  4. Do a happy dance you made it Hermann in under two hours.
  5. Catch the trolley and enjoy the ride all day and night for only $15
  6. Choose from five wineries to visit or visit them all!
    1. Stone Hill: Stone Hill is the oldest and largest winery in town. It also has a restaurant if you are looking for a larger menu than Hermannhof. It is easy to spend a few hours at this large winery between the rich history, wide variety of wine tasting and tour.
    2. Adam Puctha: This is one my favorite wineries from when I only drank sweet white wines. Fors those who love white wine, the Adams choice is delightful it is crisp, refreshing and a sweet white. Adam Puctha is tucked away in the Hermann countryside and has a family feel which makes sense as it has been family owned for 7 generations!
    3. Hermannhof: This is a quick walk from Amtrak and the perfect spot to start your day. They pride themselves on being a small winery rooted in the German history of the town offering locally german made sausage to accompany their wine collection.
    4. Star Lane: The converted cattle ranch turned into a family owned winery proves making wine is a mixture of science, passion and the right environment. The family brought in experts to ensure their harvest would delight guest, and is known for their cabernets. You know you can find this red wine lover sipping on a local favorite.
    5. Oak Glen: Oak Glen is new to the Hermann Winery community and has been in existence for only about 10 years. What they lack in history, they make up with the view. They have what I would claim to be the most stunning look out point in town overlooking the Missouri countryside and river that will take anyone’s breath away.
  7. Ok, I am down right hungry. FEED ME!! Here are three restaurants that the trolley will take you to directly. Not in the mood for any, check out the wide variety of restaurants Hermann has to offer here.
    1. Simon’s on the Waterfront
    2. Vintage Resturant
    3. El Ranchito Mexican
  8. I had so much fun, but my tummy is full and my wallet is empty it is time to go home. Let the Trolley finish your delightful day and take you back to the train station.

Hermann is a wonderful day adventure that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city life while still letting you sleep in your own bed. It is a great staycation and an easy way to recharge your battery and enjoy great wine without taking a plane to Napa.

 

Time Flies

September really has flown by in a blink of an eye. Here we are just days from October and I am still thinking about squeezing in one more day in the sun before I cave to the fabulous of fall. For me, that means apple spiced candles burning all day, chili on the stove, sipping a pumpkin spice coffee while blogging, and adorning my house with mums! To help me prepare for the next season, let’s chat about the top ten memories of September!

  1. Going to Columbia, Missouri for a sorority sister wedding. Not only did I get to catch up with good friends, but I discovered what I think will be the new rave…painting your wedding live!
  2. Celebrating 5 years with BJC HealthCare, and getting to enjoy one fancy party with 800 of my closest friends
  3. Getting a new flirty hairstyle. While I might mentally be ready for fall, my wardrobe and hairstyle are certainly ready for cooler weather.
  4. Taking my first class flight. It was big splurge for us, and Brad was thrilled for the extra leg room. I was over the moon about real silverware.
  5. Seeing great friends and exploring their city, San Francisco. From sailing under the golden gate bridge to drink pure hot cocoa, it was a blast to see their new home.
  6. Hiking in California and being in awe of the patchwork hillside made of amber, rust, rose, red, purple and green lush ground covering plants.
  7. Watching whales in the distance and hearing them call out. This was a first for me!
  8. Enjoy wine and more wine and more delicious wine.
  9. Coming home after an amazing vacation to snuggle my kitten and sleep in my own bed. 🙂
  10. Catching up with family after a hectic month and enjoying some pumpkin beer on a cool night.

Cheers to an amazing month and a whirlwind of stories to catch you up on!