For More Ways to Help The Blaines

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Red Shoes

I knew going back to school would be hard! It's hard to give up entire days with the kids, the ability to just go run errands during the day, and actually plan out meals...ok well maybe I didn't plan out a ton, but still it was nice! It was also hard because it's just another reminder that life goes on, which it should, but when your child isn't here anymore, that realization that life just keeps on going is tough. 

SG grabbed these shoes to put on today...thankfully they matched.
 I laughed thinking these are never going to fit you, but we will try. Guess what, they fit...well, with the little help of some socks, but it was even more of a wake up call that life is moving on. These were Ellie's shoes, worn after she was two. 

So much time has passed since Ellie's death that SG actually fits in shoes now, Richard has finished two classes in school, in 9 weeks we will have another child, and tomorrow Noah starts first grade! Another school year is starting, and she's not here. Last school year started and she was cancer free. This school year, she's cancer free, but she's also free of her earthly body.  It's not like I expect every one else to stop moving on with life, or my own life to stop, it's just hard when it moves forward and you are terrified that with each step forward, somehow part of the past will slip away.  Its just going too fast.

Its a funny feeling, as time passes and you just kind of get used to the fact that she's not here. But when it hurts, it hurts just as bad it did almost 8 months ago.  You cling to things that may just possibly bring back a new memory or one you've forgotten because that memory is all you have left. 

Now that school year is officially started again, I'm back to my long car rides, although now that I have Noah back with me, they won't be as lonely.  One thing I've learned to appreciate about those long car rides is music, tears, and the occasional thought that I'm sure comes from the Lord.  Why...a thought that crosses my mind often, and I'm sure many others who have experienced a loss.  And sometimes right when you think you've got a grip on it, you think you know the why, your heart breaks one more time.  The balance between loving the Lord for all He gives you, and trusting He has a plan, and not being mad, can be pretty tricky at times.  So on one of my rides on a particularly rough morning, this thought came to me "maybe Ellie being in Heaven is my motivation to continue to live the life I know I'm supposed to."  I know I'm saved, I know Heaven will be my forever home, I know I will see her again.  I also know I will have to answer to all my choices and actions and some how having my child already there has given me a new determination to truly let His light and love shine through me.

As the school year starts again, I'm seeing why He brought me back this year, I'm learning where I'm needed and I have excitement.


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears,then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:1-17

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding Beauty

The community around me is struggling with a loss right now. I won't go into details of the situation, because it's not my place, and because the details aren't important, in our lives we all face moments where we are left wondering, why? And I'd be lying right now if I told you I wasn't struggling, trying to make sense of it all, trying to understand why these things happen. When Ellie got cancer, battled and passed away, as much as that hurt, I could see the God in it all. I could see how God was using our situation, our hands and feet to do His work. It still was hard, but it made things seem way more meaningful. Now we are faced with a situation where I'm struggling to see The Lord. 

Human nature seeks to try to figure this all out. We judge, we make accusations, we come to our own conclusions, when in reality, it doesn't matter if I understand why this all happened, or any of us do. For some reason, unknown to us, this was God's plan. He didn't have to run it by us first, He didn't need to call 5 friends and get their opinions....if He did, would we have said, "yeah sure, go ahead"? Even if He promised us something great would happen after, I don't think we'd say okay. If God came to me and said "Carly, I need to run this by you. I'm going to give your daughter an uncurable cancer. I'm going to cure her for like a month, but then I'm going to bring the cancer back full force. I'm going to let her die. You are going to experience heartache, your son is going to see things that most 5 year olds will never see in their life time....But hey, don't worry you will be able to share my words, people will be drawn to me because of your faith, families will praise me for their children, because of you....is all this cool with you?" My response probably would have been, "umm thanks for the offer, but can you choose someone else, someone a little bit stronger than me, another family with way more faith than ours? I mean it sounds good, but I'd rather not loose a child at the moment!"

We don't know the why, we may never know the why any of these things happens.  Our job as Christians, is to not fall victim to the trash talk, to not entertain the evil thoughts that come creeping into our brains.  To not lose our faith and hope because of what social media says.  We are to rise above and not lose hope that there is some reason all things happen in our lives, whether they are tragic or fantastic.

We don't often get to pick our circumstances, we can only control our reactions to them. It's up to us to react in a way that says, no I don't understand it all and I don't pretend to, but I do believe in a God that is omnipresent. He knows everything that has, is and will happen in the world.  We may never be around to see the good that comes out of a bad situation, but we have hope that it will happen.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28




I just ask for prayers for all families who are suffering with unbelief, loss, understanding.  Help me lift them up, and pray that the God that has so many times brought peace beyond understanding into my heart, will touch theirs. 

Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A prego brain on overdrive :)

And I promise I have had no Starbucks today, although that sounds really good right now! Bear with me....I've been taking care of so many things this morning...well afternoon now! I was up late last night, my mind whirling with ideas for upcoming fundraisers, who knew that my heart would feel such satisfaction from organizing and raising funds for others!  Because not everyone is on facebook, I wanted to share what we are up to lately with fundraising.

A few weeks ago some lovely ladies, Kristi and Jessica, donated a portion of their commissions to Habitat for Hope in our honor.  They raised $170 through Jamberry and Thirty One sales. From that Thirty One sale, I was able to get some pretty nice items, that reminded me of going back to school, and since that is right around the corner...an idea started to form. And since I got all those items from the Habitat for Hope fundraiser, I think it only fitting we use these new items to try to raise money more money for them!
Team Princess Strong will be doing a Back to School Auction, I would ideally like to do it next weekend (August 2-3), before everyone starts doing their back to school shopping, but it just depends on how many items I get donated before next weekend.  I realize that August 9-10 might be more of a reality! There will be 3 different auction items/sets. 
1.  A Thirty One Her Deluxe Backpack and purse, a hostess exclusive. This bag I would like to stuff with school supplies and gift cards to help purchase any additional supplies. 
2.  A Thirty one black Cinch Sac, with Princess Strong on it. This set would be ideal for the after school run around most families go on! It will be filled with a St. Jude blanket, gift cards to fast food restaurants, snack baggies and a water bottle. 
3.  A Thirty One Chill-icious Monkey Lunch Thermal with lunch containers, ice packs, plastic wear and a gift card to help purchase lunch groceries.
In order to make all this happen, I will need the help of many who would like to purchase the items to make this auction a success. I created an online registry with the items we will need. You can purchase them online and have the items sent directly to my house. If you are local and would rather just buy them and drop them off, please feel free to do that too. We can always find a place to donate extra school supplies to if we end up with too many.  The last online auction we did, raised $1900 for St. Jude, I know this one is not as large, but I'm excited to see what we can make happen for an organization who did so much for our family during our journey in Memphis.
This leads me to the next item...when you look at this registry you will see two iPods listed...let me explain!
Team Princess Strong will be participating in the Pink Heals Color Rush 5K.   Proceeds of this fabulous race to benefit a wonderful LOCAL organizations:Mary Washington Hospital Foundation- Color Rush 2014 will be creating the "MWH Foundation Pediatric Oncology Fund" to benefit the MWH Regional Cancer Center! This Fund will be created in memory of Princess Ellie Marie Blaine http://www.marywashingtonhealthcare.com/mwh-a-sh-foundations/foundations
A portion of proceeds will also benefit The Owen Lea Foundation- http://waffie.owenleafoundation.org/
Ellie's Elves will sponsor a Toy Closet for Mary Washington Hospital's Pediatric Oncology Infusion Room and the Main Hospital Pediatric Unit- https://www.facebook.com/PrincessElliesElves (Coming soon... check out Facebook to hear about their latest project!)   

At the Color Rush they will be holding an on site silent auction. We will be donating a "Keep the kids quiet in the car set!" We have a great Thirty One tote for the car and we'd like to fill it with "car quieting goodies". We would like to put one iPod in that gift set.  The other iPod listed would be donated to the Pediatric Oncology Unit for the kids to use while they are there.

Our dress code for the Color Rush is white...so of course we needed a white Princess Strong shirt for the event!  We are combining our shirt with Ellie's Elves and the proceeds from our shirts will go to the MWH Foundation Pediatric Oncology Fund.  If you are interested in purchasing a shirt please go to https://www.booster.com/princessstrongelvescolorrush.

There is also a Pampered Chef Online Party open until August 6th.  Julie is donating part of her commission to Team Princess Strong for the CureSearch for Childhood Cancer Walk.

We once again have a team for St. Jude Give Thanks Walk.

Lastly I was invited to participate in Crop for a Cure, sponsored by the Fredericksburg Tri Delta Alumnae Chapter.  I am excited to finally set aside time to put our hundreds of pictures from our Disney Trip, into a scrap book and to share our story with an organization that donates so much money to St. Jude!

I've decided my new philosophy is it doesn't hurt to ask.  I know I probably typed too much, but I couldn't help myself, I've exploding with ideas today and just feeling blessed with the opportunities in front of us.


I appreciate you taking the time to read through all I have shared today.  Please share this blog with your family and friends or anyone whom you think could help us out with the many things we have going on.  Its so exciting to see what a group of people with a Princess Strong heart can do!

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hope


This song was played in church yesterday.  I've sang it a million times.  Yesterday it was sang by a special guest, and the projector was scrolling through random pictures. Then there was an image that stopped me in my tracks.  There was a picture of the beach and the shore. In that image I could see her running to me, like some cheesy Hallmark movie, with her arms wide open.  I couldn't breath and I grabbed Richard's leg.  Will it really be like that? I have no clue, but I can't help but wonder.  

There are many moments in my life now, that I know I have dreampt of or seen before, and since I don't believe in coincidences, I believe God shows you small glimpses of your life to come. I think we are just too caught up in our every day lives to recognize them.  I don't think I ever shared before the first time it happened to me.  I was in TN with Ellie and it was the 4th of July celebration with Habitat for Hope.  We were lining up the kids to take a picture, and in an instant, I knew I had seen this very image before.  It happened so quick, and the feeling was gone.  But it was one of those feelings you just want to live over and over, because you know it comes from God. To me, when it happens, that "deja vu" moment - it assures me, God has already been there, he has planned it all out, he knows the future and if I would just open my eyes and my heart, He will give me that glimpse, a glimmer of Hope.

Hope...its what helps me through each and every day.  It is the confident expectation that I will once again see Ellie, whether she's running to me with open arms or we just bump into one another, I'm so happy to be given that promise, that Hope that we will be reunited one day.  It's a wonderful feeling to have that reassurance, especially on days where her absence from this house is felt all over!

So your here's your Hope...

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5

 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

and my favorite

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


Prayers, Praise and Pink
~ Carly





Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sisters

I miss you. Each day with your sister, I see how much you all are alike, which makes me miss you, I also see how different you too are, which makes me miss you even more. 




 She has your spunk. She hits and then smiles. She throws temper tantrums and falls out on the floor. She loves to dance, and every once in a while she moves her arms just like you did. She jabbers endlessly and I have no clue what she's says. She picks on Noah and just like with you, he sits there and takes it. The word "no" means nothing to her and I think she enjoys time out. She comes in the bathroom and watches me get ready, I jokingly ask her if she wants me to do her hair, like I did with your, but she just blabbers something back. She puts her food in her toes....which I'm pretty sure you did too! These moments of you that come shinning through make me miss you so much. I realize that this is the way now that I will "see you and hear you" but it's also not you. 
She doesn't like dresses...at least not the puffy ones you would have loved. She doesn't like hair bows, or hats, or even pony tails, she pulls them all off, which drives me crazy because she has more hair then you and it's always in her eyes. She drinks from a garden hose and doesn't mind getting dirty. When I realize the differences in you two, I miss you even more because my dress up pretty princess isn't here. I took SG out of her bath the other night, and unlike you, she doesn't like to snuggle in her towel afterwards, but on this night she did. And as she laid there on that pink kitty cat towel, for a few moments I felt you. I don't know if you were really there, but it felt like I was holding you. I squeezed her close (couldn't believe she let me) and just felt you, it made my heart hurt so bad, but also left me longing for another moment like that, because I know that's the closest I'm going to get to you on this side of heaven.
I'd never force her to be you, no one could be you, you, my sweet girl were definitely one of a kind. Her fancy dresses stay in the he closet and her hair stays in her face, and I love her for being who SG is meant to be. I do wonder sometimes when she gets a little older will she talk like you. Will she have trouble with her "L's"? Will she constantly say "him and her" instead of "he and she". I could see that causing the same "missing you pain" all over again. 

I get sad when I think she will only have a picture memory of you, she won't have her own memories...so I would assume.  She will only know the stories we tell her.  I am happy that the Lord is blessing us with another girl, so she will have that sister relationship, I just hate that you won't be here to boss the girls around and tell them exactly how to place their princesses.  

Prayers, Praise, and Pink
~Carly




Sunday, June 22, 2014

6

I like even numbers!  I'm not superstitious or anything, I just like even numbers.  Today I don't like them.  Often the 22nd of each month passes and I don't realize what day it is, I'm grateful for that. For some reason though this 22nd is staring me right in the face, saying "its been 6 months".  Possibly because I don't have the crazy busy schedule of work and school to keep my brain busy.  Six months seems like a long time, but it also seems like just yesterday she was here snuggled up on the couch beside me with a blanket tucked all around her keeping her socks warm!  Kinda hard to believe that the days can just keep going by without her in them.  They feel much emptier, but they surely pass by.    I find myself watching a lot more videos these days because I miss her voice, I hate that I can't remember what she sounds like whenever I want to.  I hate that I don't get to have silly conversations with her anymore and I don't get to hear her say "Noah" a million times or listen to them argue about how she can do it "by all myself!"  Now that we are on summer vacation, the days feel even more empty.  Don't get me wrong there are two loud and rambunctious kids here that keep me busy, but there's that Ellie gap that just can't be filled.  For me there's just been sadness and I miss her.  Songs lately bring every memory flooding back and the tears roll.  
So I love how on this 6 month day some God things happen.  First there is a dress in SG's closet that I breeze by every Sunday.  Its a dress that my mom made for the girls, there were two of them.  Ellie never got to wear her's and it got put away.  SG's has just been hanging there.  I haven't been able to bring myself to put it on her, not only because SG doesn't like puffy dresses, but it just made me sad that the girls never got to match, which Ellie loved to do.  Today, that dress stared me in the face and said "you can do it".  So I prepared myself for the dress battle...SG didn't fight me at all when I put in the dress.  She happily took off down the hall in her sparkly shoes.

Her sister would have been proud.

My heart still felt a little empty, I was really having a hard time getting that happy in.  I stopped to get the mail on my way home...I know its Sunday, but I don't go to the mail box a lot lately...since its at the end of the road.  In the mail is a package from St. Jude.  I smiled.  I knew exactly what it would be and it couldn't have been a more appropriate day for me to open it.



Because of the awesome amount of money raised at the St. Jude Give Thanks Walk we were able to donate that money in Ellie's name and get a engraved brick on the walls of St. Jude.  We started this process a while ago, and you know how life just moves too fast and you can't keep up, well I kept pushing the paper work aside and forgetting about it. So now on the six month anniversary of Ellie's homecoming with the Lord, this comes to remind me of the love the Lord puts around us!  I started to say it helps me know she will alway be remembered and live on in the halls of St. Jude...but she won't be in the halls.  Her name will be there.  And her name on that brick reminds me of all the people that came together to show support for our family.  More people than I will ever know donated to that walk, to create an amazing amount of money.  This brick reminds me of how we were allowed to share our daughter with the world, that she touched hearts and brought a face to cancer, death, and an amazing God.  Fingers crossed that in the beginning of October we will be able to make the trip to Memphis for the St. Jude family remembrance weekend.  I may have to bribe a few airline people to let me fly since I will be rather far along in my pregnancy, but the Doctor says I should be fine to go!  When we visit I can't wait to see that brick in person and remember all the amazing people that helped make that dream a reality!  
The sun has come out today, which makes things a little brighter today...literally.  But it has helped my mood some.  Pretty sure the rest of today will be spent snuggling with my chatterboxes and watching Disney Movies...because it makes Noah happy...and me two.  
Please continue to pray for my family.  Six months is a long time to be without a family member, especially one who could bring a smile to your face no matter what the circumstances.  Pray to help us through the sad days and to never hold back sharing when we feel sad and alone.  Thank you for allowing us to be part of your family.  You mean the world to us.


In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35


Prayers, Praise and Pink







~Carly

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's Summer!


I couldn't resist the song, it's one of Noah's favorites!

Summer in our house is a time of relaxation, that's one of the reasons I love working in a school, the time at home with the kids is amazing! Summer is usually full of pool time, family time and trips to the beach! Last year our family didn't get the summer most families do. When you have cancer, you don't get vacations or holidays off, in fact last year on July 4th Ellie was getting chemo. You don't get to schedule chemo or blood transfusions around vacations or holidays, it's just like any other day. I wanted to find a way to to honor of the kids and their families who will be in the hospital this summer and who don't get to enjoy that summer vacation where they can forget about it all.

So to kick off the summer Team Princess Strong is hosting an online summer auction. I choose today, the first official day of summer to kick it off!  We will be using the proceeds of this auction towards
our St. Jude Give Thanks Walk team. No better way to support the place that did it's best to keep us entertained last summer and forget about the beach (although that's pretty hard to do!). So many people came together to donate some pretty awesome items to this auction...quite a few I have my eye on!  Take a look, you just might see something you like! http://www.32auctions.com/teamprincessstrong
Please make sure you read each item carefully, some items I cannot ship due to the size and the fragility of the item. Our goal is to raise $1000 with this auction, which doesn't even come close to the money it takes to run St. Jude for a day, but I feel it's an easily attainable goal! Please share!



I miss last summer, even though it was no where close to what used to be my "ideal summer". What I wouldn't give to have summer back with her in it. Ellie screaming that she didn't want to get in the pool, but ended up having a blast, sun screening that bald head. Trips back and forth to UVA seemed like a big pain then, but I'd do it all over again if it meant she were here.  However that's not the way The Lord intended the summer of 2014 to be for the Blaine's.

"Shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.  The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream. They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream." Larry Crabb

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly