Sunday, January 29, 2017

Washed in the Water--Finally

Baptism.  An act of obedience that symbolizes the burial and resurrection of Jesus.  A public declaration of a believer's faith and and intended to be the next step taken after accepting Christ as Savior.  I was baptized in junior high.  My husband was baptized shortly after we were married.  Our kiddos have grown up in church and asked Jesus into their hearts several years back--probably 6 or so years ago.  At the time, they weren't ready to 'take the plunge,' so we waited.  A short time later, God led us to what would become our new church home.  Paige and Jeremy wanted to get more accustomed to things, so we waited.  Then the bottom dropped out from under us, and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Paige's original leukemia diagnosis stopped us in our tracks.  Everything was placed on hold--school, work, regular day-to-day stuff--everything.  Baptism weekends would come and go, but Paige was never able to participate.  Hospital stays.  Suppressed immune system.  PICC lines.  These things were part of treatments meant to get her well, but they kept her from doing things she wanted to do.

Then came that second relapse.  So many heavy conversations.  So many tears.  Paige was always very sure of God's presence.  She knew He would not leave her.  She knew the strength, fight, and courage she possessed came straight from her Heavenly Father.  When the news came that her disease was progressing, when the choice to discontinue medications became clear, when going home for even a few days promised some time outside the hospital walls--Paige made it very clear she had one thing she wanted to do.  She wanted to be baptized, and she wanted Jeremy to be part of it.

Our amazing church made it happen.  Jeremy was able to experience baptism by immersion, which is what we'd planned for both kiddos.  Paige has always done things her own special way--and this was no exception.  Granted, we were given the task of figuring out the PICC line and leg braces, so it wasn't like our sweet girl just refused to get in the water.  On top of that, she was feeling particularly wiped out that day.  We put our heads together and came up with a plan that would be more than a sprinkle but less than total immersion.   Paige described it as Pastor Tim scooping up water in his hands and letting it wash over her head with a big "woosh" sound.

That day will forever be one of my favorite days.  My kiddos were baptized.  Together.  My heart was pretty full that day.

One Lord, one faith, one baptism.   Ephesians 4:5

* Here's a quick glimpse of that beautiful, special, amazingly wonderful day. 💖

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I am struggling. Every. Single. Day. Struggling to fight back the tears. Struggling to remember to breathe when an expected reminder of Paige knocks the wind out of me. Sometimes I can simply catch my breath and carry on about my day. Other times I feel overtaken by a tsunami of grief, and I just lose it. It's been almost three months since our sweet girl left us, and it seems the further out we get, the harder all of this is.

I am trying.  Every. Single. Day. Trying to hang on to some semblance of 'normalcy'--whatever that is these days. Trying to wrap my head around the fact that Paige is no longer here. Trying to make sense of something that makes no sense to me at all.

No matter how hard I try, I know it's not mine to understand. I know Paige is in a place so much more amazing than this broken world. She is healed, and she is happy. My head knows this. My heart knows this. Yet it doesn't keep me from missing my girl.  It doesn't protect me from this intense, heart-wrenching ache that feels like it will never go away.

Grief does some crazy things. It can make time fly. It can make it drag on and on. It can make you numb to your surroundings. It can heighten every sense you have. Let me tell you, every one of my senses misses that girl of mine. Every. Single. One.

Seeing her beautiful smile. Those light freckles dotting the bridge of her nose. The way she rolled her eyes at her brother--or her dad--or me. Her excitement about her car--or the latest Captain America or Thor movies. Seeing her here with me.

Hearing her voice. Singing at the top of her lungs to her 'jams.' Yelling at (or not-so-gently redirecting) Jeremy for a whole host of reasons. Laughing at her brother's silliness or her dad's jokes--never mine. Saying, "I love you." Hearing her here, talking with me.

Touching those curly ringlets on her head. Locking her fingers with mine. Feeling her head on my shoulder. Having her here and hugging her so tightly I'd never want to let go.

Smelling her favorite shampoo.  The scented stuffed animals in her room that gave off the slightest hint of vanilla.

Tasting foods we enjoyed together. Bread pudding from her favorite place ever. The chocolate chocolate chip pancakes she ate almost every day for four weeks--with whipped cream, of course.

I am struggling, but I am doing my best to press on through this unbelievable, almost unbearable season. My heart is broken, but I am determined to find the joy in each day. Paige was great about that--finding a reason to smile no matter the circumstance. I need to take a cue from my girl. I may not be able to reach out and hug her anymore, but she's here with me--and always will be.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   Psalm 147:3

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Past, Present, and Future

While technology has played a significant role in my career as an educator, there was a time I was a pretty decent Language Arts teacher.  I loved teaching writing, even with the state test looming on the horizon.  Even with the resistance of struggling, hesitant writers.  There's something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and telling a story, sharing a piece of your heart.

It seemed like many of my students struggled with verb tense--that whole past, present, and future thing.  They would start writing about something that had happened and shift tenses midway through the essay.  Sometimes it worked, but other times it simply muddled what could be a fantastic story.  Today marks three years since Paige's original diagnosis.  Three years.  Cancer cut short a phenomenal life.  Lately I'm struggling with verb tense myself.  Past.  Present.  Future.  What do these look like on this new road we are traveling?

Was.  It's a simple 3-letter word.  We use it all the time to tell about events that have previously taken place.  Things that have passed.  Things in the past.  I was out of groceries, so I went to the store.  He was the loudest kid in the class.  Never in a million years did I think I would be using that word to describe my daughter.  As of October 24, 2016, everything about her story, her spunk--her amazing life in general--became linked to that word.  She was a beautiful soul with a strong faith in God.  She was incredibly smart and determined to help kids in situations like hers.  She was simply amazing.

Is.  Another simple word used to talk about the present.  Someone's current situation.  She is watching television.  The moon is bright tonight.  My situation seems to change at the drop of a hat these days.  This momma's heart is broken.  She knows her sweet girl is with her Savior, but she is struggling on this day.  Enough said.

Will.  Of these 'simple' verbs, I think this one is the strongest.  The most determined.  It shares hopes and sets goals.  It tells of things to come.  God will heal our hearts.  We will continue to shine Paige's light and build her legacy.  Our family will be reunited one day.  What a glorious moment that will be!

These seemingly simple verbs are stronger than they appear.  I think I'm kind of the opposite in that I appear stronger than my heart feels--but that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  What matters is I know God is my strength and my hope.  He is guiding my steps, leading the way.  I always try to write what is on my heart, but I'm so incredibly thankful God is in my heart.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Chapter

January 1.  The beginning of a new year.  New hopes.  New goals.  It's also the beginning of a new chapter for our family.  While many lament the end of the holiday season, for us it couldn't come fast enough.  We forged ahead with a few traditions and flat-out skipped others.  There was simply no escaping the pain felt by Paige's absence.  No way to stay busy enough.  No way to sidestep the fact that a huge piece of this momma's heart is missing.

That's not to say we are in 'sad mode' all day, every day.  As we move forward, we try to work around those feelings of loss--make room for them, so to speak--rather than be consumed by them.  It's a matter of finding some kind of balance in this new, off-kilter world of ours.  

I know God is ultimately the author of our stories.  Each and every one.  He knows the beginning, the end, and everything in between.  Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of the plans He has for us.  Plans that include hope and a future.  Each day we are given breath, we become co-authors to a certain extent.  The way we do life.  The way we follow His lead.  This is how the middle chapters of our stories are written.

2016 started out pretty great for our family.  Then it got rough.  Really rough.  Like punch you in the gut, bring you to your knees rough.  It's definitely time for a new chapter to begin.  For hope--and maybe even a little joy--to find its way back into our family.  Here's a look at how we're getting started:

* The room our sweet girl occupied for 15 years now belongs to her brother.  Jeremy, also known as my giant man-child, has grown inches in a matter of weeks.  Fresh paint, new furniture, and wall decor displaying his varied interests (bowling, Texans, Camaros, etc.) have transformed the room into a space Jeremy can now call his own.   

* Boyce returns to work next week after an almost 6-month leave of absence.  He has been with us from the moment we learned of Paige's relapse in July, and we wouldn't have had it any other way.  It was important to have him here those last months we had with Paige and just as important to have some much-needed time together to begin the healing process.  

* I begin a new adventure tomorrow morning.  I was asked to return to my former school district for the remainder of the school year.  It's a junior high position that will find me teaching robotics and technology education classes.  After many conversations, a visit to the school, and a whole lot of prayer, I agreed to give it a go.  I decided I'll never know if I'm ready to return to work unless I take a leap--so tomorrow morning around 7:30, this lady is leaping.  Add on teaching a college class as an adjunct instructor, and I'm sure to stay busy.  The crazy thing is, I have seen little hints of Paige in the way all of this came about.  Could it be that my girl is gently nudging--really, kind of shoving--me out into the world again?  It really just might. 

Our new chapter includes our sweet girl as well.  Paige's time on Earth may have come to an end, but her story has not.  There is still so much to tell, so much we have yet to share.  What she faced over the course of three battles.  What she was able to overcome.  This new chapter will find us continuing to shine Paige's light, building on her legacy, and doing everything in our power to share the story of a girl whose faith could move mountains.  I'd say the Lejeunes are ready and willing to learn how to shine in 2017.

...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.   Matthew 5:16