Monday, October 26, 2015

Pen-pal visit!!

So. . .this post was supposed to be up a while ago, ;) Well, anyway, here it is now! :D       
About four weeks ago, Faith P. emailed me and said that their family was planning a trip west, and on their way home they would be coming through Wichita!! I was so excited!! We weren't sure exactly how/if everything would work out for us to meet,  but we were both praying that it would!
Our moms started emailing trying to figure out all the little details and then, on October 2nd, after weeks and days and then finally hours of counting down, we were able to FINALLY meet!! 
After months of emailing, chatting exchanging stories, doing research together and being completely crazy (well, okay, maybe not completely ;) we were finally able to meet! 
They didn't have a lot of time, so our families met at an ice cream shop and spent an hour and a half together. We had such an amazing time and I wish it could have been longer, but I'm so thankful it worked out! God is so good! :D 
Here are some pictures we took just before they left.

SO glad we were able to meet this sweet family! Sorry for the reflection, the flash on the camera was supposed to be off. . 
.apparently it wasn't. ;)
Oops, we weren't looking at the camera. . .

Ahh, there we go! Now we're looking in the right direction. Faith and I! So, SO excited we were able to meet in person!!! 

Our moms! A.K.A the people who made it possible. ;) 
Mom took this picture as we were saying goodbye. They weren't able to stay very long, but I'm so thankful it all worked out! I've said that a lot, haven't I? B-) 
So, yeah. We had a wonderful time together and we've all decided that we need to take a trip out to North Carolina to visit them sometime. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and. . .yeah.  Thanks for the visit, Faith!! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Were it not for grace. . .

Grace, grace, God's grace. Grace that is
greater than all our sin. 
(Julia Johnston)

If it were not for God's grace, just where would we be today? 
Aren't you thankful that we don't need to ever ask that question? God's marvelous grace has been given to us! Freely! All we need to do is believe on Him. 
I heard this song on the radio today and. . .wow. The words are so, so powerful! I won't say anything else because the song really does say it all. 

*picture verse found on pinterest 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Two years. . .

October 15th, 2013. Exactly two years ago today, I started this blog. Two full years ago.
But this post isn't just about the blog. Two years ago, my dad was diagnosed with cancer.
Well, okay, two years and two months. He was diagnosed in August of 2013. I was planning on doing a post on the exact date, but we were on vacation, so I thought I would combine the two posts together.
I look back, and so, so, much has changed.
My parents have changed.
My life has changed.
I  have changed.
But do you know what? I can look back and say that my dad being diagnosed with cancer was one of the best things that ever happened.
Okay, let me explain.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, it was a shock to everyone. Sure, he hadn't been feeling great, but. . .cancer?
The official diagnosis took a few days to sink in, and then chaos erupted. Literally. No one in our little area of the world had even heard of my dad's cancer. The doctors couldn't figure out where the cancer had started, but it had already traveled to his lymph nodes. As far as we knew, it was a rare, aggressive cancer. And there were no treatments. Chemo didn't do a thing to his kind of cancer, so it wasn't even an option.
After studying the cancer for a few weeks, my parents found that there were 3 areas in the U.S that researched the kind of cancer my dad had. It was so rare they were still researching it, trying to find a treatment that worked.
One of the research centers was located in Seattle, WA at the University of Washington State. Technically, they never should have been able to go. But God provided in miraculous ways. My Grandma and Aunt from California offered to traveled out here and stay with us, and one of dad's friends from college offered to buy their plane tickets. A guy my dad works with had family in WA, and my parents were able to stay with them while he was having the doctors visits.
And so, less then two months after the official diagnosis, my parents were on there way to Seattle.
I can't describe the feelings that went through me as they left. Fear. Uncertainty. Confusion. But it didn't matter. As the oldest child with my parents being gone, I was the one my siblings looked to.
I steeled myself, blocking out all emotion and turned to the task that was ahead of me. I didn't let myself cry or tell anyone else how I was feeling. I was fine. I could handle it. I never showed any emotion. I did was was required of me, then found something else to do that would keep me busy and keep my mind off everything else. I told myself I could handle it. I would handle it.
But I couldn't.
I would have nightmares that my dad had died and I never had the chance to say good bye. I would wake up with tears streaming down my face.
And it was then, that God made himself real to me.
There came a time when He was the only one I could turn to. No one else understood what I was going through, no one else understood the pain and hurt I felt.
But He did. There came a time I couldn't hold on anymore. I let go, and He was there to catch me. I didn't have to act anymore. I didn't have to be strong because He was strong for me! I didn't have to do it in my own strength. I couldn't. But instead I could lean on Him, trusting Him to get me through the storm.
And do you know what?
He did. Just like He always does.
Cancer is one of the best things that ever happened because it brought me closer to Jesus.
But He didn't only carry me through it, He provided so many blessings along the way!
Through the trials of cancer, I discovered my love for writing.
I had never written before any of this happened. I read a lot, but other then what was required for school, I didn't write much at all. After dad was diagnosed with cancer, I needed something, anything to get my mind off reality if only for a few minutes. So I started writing. Just little stories at first, but then longer ones. I realized then that I LOVED writing. The rest is. . .history. ;)
Through this blog, I was able to meet some of the most amazing people. Seriously, looking back I can't imagine a time when I didn't know you guys! It has been so amazing to get to know some of you!
I have also had opportunities to get to know people I would never have met had it not been for the cancer. Also, the many days going back and forth between the hospital and our home when dad was having radiation showed me my love for all things medicine.  Lord willing within the next 1-2 years I will be able to enroll in a nursing program at our local community college.
Now fast-forward two years. Two years since the cancer diagnosis, Dad is closer to normal then he was before the cancer. And there has been no cancer activity in his body since the radiation treatments ended in January of 2014. We were able to take a family vacation this year, the first since the cancer diagnosis. I was able to meet two very dear friends and pen pals this summer and I have started my senior year of highschool. I'm still learning, still growing, but I'm different then I was two years ago. I have changed. It puts Job 23:10 in a whole new light. 'But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.'
I have learned that I can't shun cancer as an enemy, I can't embrace it as a friend, but I can accept it as something God has brought into my life for His perfect reason.
I'm not saying I have everything down. Trust me, I don't! There are still times I struggle to see exactly why God is doing what He's doing. But I have to remind myself that God sees the end of the road. He sees things I can't see. There are still times I doubt any good can come from what is going on, but then I have to remember that even in the midst of it, God is there. I'm just so thankful that He always welcomes us back with open arms!
The trials God brings into out life are for our good. Maybe we can't see it at the time. In fact, it is very hard to see it when everything that is happening . But later on, when we're able to step back and see how everything has changed, we can see God's hand through what has happened. And honestly, I can't wait to get to heaven and see how all the little pieces of our life fit into the big picture God has in mind. I mean, can y'all just imagine how exciting that will be?!
Am I saying it's easy? No!  Fully trusting God and surrendering to Him can be one of the hardest things you will ever do.
Just remember.
He has a reason.
He is faithful.
And He will bring you through it!
Two years, and yet so, so much has changed. But there is something that will never change. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good!

Monday, October 12, 2015

WWII museum trip!!!

A couple weeks ago I was so thrilled to realize there was a WWII museum/history center that was only 40 minutes away from our house!! If you've been following my writing blog for any amount of time, you know I am slightly obsessed with that time period. Dad took my sister and I there on Saturday, September 5th and we had an amazing time! I actually uploaded these pictures and planned to have this post done a loonggg time ago. But. . .life. ;) Anyway, here are the pictures I took. Excuse the horrible quality. . .I was using my dad's phone camera.  Some of the pictures are numbered because there are two parts. The actual picture, and the description.

#2. Description

A silk map that was issued in 1944 and given to all the allied fighter pilots. Is showed the escape routes and safe areas for them to go if their plane crashed. It was kept sewn into their uniforms so that if they were captured and searched by the enemy, no one would be able to find them. The map had actually been donated like an hour before we got there!
#3. Description.
Standard Red Cross nurses's uniform issued during WWII.

#2. Description. (Although I'm sure all of you know what it is. ;) 

#2. Description.

#2. Description

#2. Description

Model 1940s american living room. The radio actually played speeches by the British prime minister, and American president which was really cool! 

At the bottom of this soldier's letter it says V-Mail. The story behind "V-Mail" is quite fascinating! You can read an article on it here. (Since I'd rather not copy and paste the whole thing! ;) ) 

The letter that was read to the troops the night before D-Day. 

#2. Description. El Dorado is the town where the museum is, about 40 minutes from Wichita.

Well, that's all of them! I had such an amazing time! The museum also has a research library that has shelves full of books about WWII. Like a room full of shelves. I told my dad I could have been there for another 2 hours and still felt like I hadn't seen everything. ;) I ended up coming back with 8 or 9 books, which have been invaluable in my research!
The day we went we were the only ones there, and so the man there ended up sorta being our personal tour guide. He was so helpful and it was amazing to learn more about my favorite time period. We got to the museum around 2:45pm. It closed at 4:00 and since it was small, dad though an hour would give us more then enough time.
Well. . .we were there until. 4:45pm. ;) Anyway, I'm sure by now you have heard enough to know that I LOVE the museum. We're planning another trip there at the end of this month and I'm sooo excited!! :D Also, there is a WWII battle re-enactment sponsored by the museum in November, which I'm also super excited about! ;)
I hope y'all are having an amazing week! I'll try to get back to more regular posts some time this week. . .or maybe next week. :)