Expectations

I posted this on Facebook a year ago, and it showed in my “On This Day” list today. It still rings true a year later.


Someone asked me recently why I would sit through 11 hours of a dance competition on a Saturday when there’s tons of other things I could be doing.

Sure, there are other things I could be doing, so why don’t I do those instead?

These two beautiful girls.

They need to know and see that I am right there by their side supporting their every move. They need to know and see that I’m there to celebrate their wins with them and to lift them up after their losses. They need to know and see that they deserve my time, devotion, and attention more than anything else and that they are a priority in my life. They need to know that I care about what they care about, that I am interested in what they are interested in. They need to see that I genuinely want to know more about what they’re interested in, that I care to know what first position is, what a cramp roll is.

When they’re older and dating, they will come to see where parallels exist between me and their boyfriends, that those boys should show them and give them the same respect, attention, interest, and care.

My girls need to see all of this and come to expect it… because they deserve nothing less.

This is my job as their dad, and it’s the most important job I’ll ever have.

Goodbye Trailblazer

A couple weeks ago, we went to San Diego on a half vacation / half business trip. A huge thanks to Ben & Joel for agreeing to let my family come along!

Knowing that we’d be driving to San Diego and Orlando this year, we took my Trailblazer in to have the AC fixed as well as have 100,000 mile maintenance performed. As that work was being completed, the mechanics discovered something wrong with the front axle as well. All in all, we spent about $1700 getting my car ready.. and that’s on top of the $800 we spent on new tires back in May.

All goes well on the San Diego trip of course.. right? Of course not.

Halfway through the first day of travel, both Monica and I start thinking the air just isn’t being pushed out strong enough. It’s cool enough, but the pressure just isn’t there like it should be. Once we get to our destination for the first day, I call the local Chevy dealership to see if they can get it in. Nope, they can’t — not until 5 days from then. Well that obviously won’t work, so I call a dealership in San Diego and they said they’d be able to look at it if we have the car to them first thing in the morning. The only problem is that we’re 12 hours away from San Diego still, so we decide to let the girls swim, eat some dinner, and then pull an all-nighter.

Along the way, we start hearing a sound like something’s hitting the car. At first I thought it might be the antenna coming loose, but that wasn’t it. I look down at the front passenger side tire and notice a plastic part of the wheel well had come loose and was coming in contact with the tire. Plastic + Rubber ≠ Good. So I try to put the plastic part back to where it won’t hit the tire anymore, but it still does. So we pull over again at a gas station. I bought a bungee cord and rigged the plastic part to the front bumper so that it wouldn’t hit the tire anymore. In that process, Monica starts looking at the front bumper and we realize that it’s not completely affixed to the car!

Needless to say, the last few hours to San Diego were a bit nerve wracking. As we’re driving, Monica and I decide that we’re just not trusting of the car anymore and that we don’t want to put any more money in a car with 111,000+ miles on it. The mechanic we had do the 100k maintenance found something else wrong.. what if this dealership found something too? We just decide to cut our losses. I drove the car to a few local dealerships and found one to buy it. We rented a car for the drive back home. A HUGE thanks to my dad for spending so much time locating the title to the car for us. We really did know where it was.. too bad it was the third place we knew where it was..

Selling my Trailblazer was bittersweet for a couple reasons. It was the first vehicle Monica and I bought together. While minor in the end, it’s still a little sad!

More importantly, both Katie Lynn and Karyn were brought home from the hospitals in my Trailblazer.

Katie Lynn:

Karyn:

A car is just a car, but I’m definitely going to miss my Trailblazer. That being said, I’m very excited about my new vehicle! More info on that coming soon..

My Testimony

With Easter being Sunday, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately and just wanted to write down how He’s been active in my life in the past few years.

Flashback to summer 2005.. our oldest niece was born. Monica and I got bit hard by the baby bug, but it unfortunately didn’t happen for us. We went to a specialist culminating in the need to do an IUI. Odds weren’t in our favor as the specialist informed us the success rate for the first IUI was only 18%. Faith played a huge role, and He saw us through it. We were blessed with a pregnancy after the first IUI in March 2007.

We were ecstatic to learn that Monica was actually pregnant with twins, but we were saddened a week later to discover one of the twins’ heartbeats had stopped. We were naturally heartbroken, but we also knew that the other baby was okay.

The rest of Monica’s pregnancy was rather non-eventful: everything normal at ultrasounds, etc. That is.. until Monica’s water breaks a month early. After a 44 hour labor, Katie Lynn finally graces us with her presence! She was taken to the nursery for observation and ended up in the NICU. Long story short (long version here), she had three surgeries within her first 60 days of life and saw a pediatric gastroenterlogist for her first 8 months of life. Many times during those 8 months we felt “why us” and “why her”. But we knew He would see us through it, and for whatever His reasons, He decided that we were the parents Katie Lynn needed to see her through it all. He had chosen us, and it’s all about faith in Him for guidance and support.

In the middle of Katie Lynn’s surgeries, Monica has her gall bladder removed and after a single day of recovery, she’s up and about doing everything she can for Katie Lynn.

Flash forward to Fall/Winter 2009. Monica and I started talking about when we’d want a second child and whatnot. The Monday before Christmas, Monica and Katie Lynn bring “an early Christmas present” into my office and tell me to open it. And what’s inside? A positive pregnancy test. We were both so surprised we had conceived naturally given our past concerning Katie Lynn’s pregnancy. Karyn was born in August 2009 after another uneventful pregnancy — a perfect delivery and post-partem. We were released two days later. He had provided for us once again.

At that same time as the end of Monica’s pregnancy and Karyn’s birth, my Mom is diagnosed with stage 3 bladder cancer. She had surgery to remove her bladder one week before Karyn was born. It was a successful surgery that resulted in the removal of all the cancer, and once again faith got her and my family through it. Then on the day after Karyn was born, my mom was being released from the hospital when she has a massive heart attack. Luckily, the heart hospital was connected to the hospital she was already at and she was rushed in for surgery again. If circumstances had been different, i.e. she was already back at home, I’m not sure she would have made it. Blessings in disguise, and the constant is the Lord. He knew her work was not done on this earth.

In May 2010, one Thursday night I had the single most intense painful physical feeling I’ve ever experienced. The next night, the same exact pain happened again in exactly the same location. After an ER visit and some visits to a urologist, a preliminary diagnosis was made: testicular cancer. After talking with Monica, we made the decision to proceed with having the affected testicle removed. After the surgery, pathology determined it was not cancer but instead vasculitis. I was referred to a rheumatologist for further treatment. After multiple tests and whatnot, my rheumatologist determined that it was a rare occurrence of isolated vasculitis — all tests and indicators show that it’s no longer present.

In November 2010, my brother-in-law Ryan, at the urging of his coworkers, took part in a free health screening. Why not? It was free and not a bad idea to have done! Good thing he did – test results were concerning and he was ultimately diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. He had surgery the week of Thanksgiving to microscopically remove what ended up being a softball sized tumor. He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and slated to be completed in a couple months.

So, yeah.. it’s been a very trying time for me and my family over the past four years. But faith is extremely powerful! After all of this, where do things stand?

  • Katie Lynn is a healthy 3.5 year old. The only remaining “signs” of her ordeal are her scars and her petite frame. But hey, there’s much worse things to be! 🙂
  • Monica’s doing just fine without her gall bladder. 😉
  • Karyn is a healthy albeit ornery almost 20 month old!
  • My mom is going on 20 months of being cancer free. It’s not always easy, but she’s doing amazingly and getting stronger as each day goes by.
  • I’m doing great. Each follow up appointment with the rheumatologist gets spaced out further and further apart from the last one.
  • Ryan is still having his chemo treatments, but at this point is cancer free with a very positive prognosis.

The Lord is SO present in my life, and His impact on me is immeasurable.

I’m going to close this post with the lyrics to two of my favorite praise songs – To The Glory and The Way You Love Me both by Danny Lacey:

I will live my life
Walking in your way
A little more like you
Each and every day
Learning how to trust
I trust you’ll make me change
So That I can live
To the glory of your name

Jesus I want to walk like you
Jesus I want to talk like you
Jesus I want to look like you
To the glory of your name

Glory and honor wisdom and power
Are yours forever amen
Glory and honor wisdom and power
Are yours forever amen
Amen

You say your love for me is higher than the heavens
Deeper than the oceans and the sea
And I could never comprehend the depth your love reaches
But I know it reaches the deepest part in me
And praises rise from the depths of my soul
And I say

Thank you for the way that you love me
Thank you for this life that you gave me
Thank you for the way that you set me free
Thank you for the sacrifice
The way you came and gave your life
The way you made this blind man see
Thank you for the way that you love me

Surgery Update

My surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 1st. I’m hoping to get that moved up to this week, but if not, that’ll be when it is.

I’ll be posting all further updates over at tomandmonica.com. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers!

Thoughts / Prayers Requested

I’m asking for your thoughts and/or prayers in the coming month.

Long story short..

I will most likely be having surgery next week to remove what appears to be a cancerous testicle. I’m posting this rather private information publicly for two reasons:

1) I am a firm believer in the power of thoughts and prayers. The support that comes from the thoughts and prayers of family, friends, coworkers, and even those people not known can and does work wonders.

2) Awareness. Not that I’m this beacon of health, but there were absolutely no signs until one week ago. It has literally appeared out of the blue. Guys – regular exams are a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I’ll be posting semi-regular updates when possible, so your continued thoughts/prayers for me and my family would be greatly appreciated.

Me Myself & I

My Mom gave me a copy of this the other day and I thought I’d share. My Dad came up with the text.. I definitely got my Dad’s sense of humor!

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