Finding Closure - Still Searching.

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Last friday was the court date for my best friend's murderer.

We found out shortly before that he agreed to a plea bargain for life in prison without parol.

After 3 years, at 4:15 pm last friday, Chris plead guilty to 7 counts of
murder, stalking and child cruelty.

I 'm just now able to publish this post.
I think I just couldn't wrap my head around all of it.
I really struggled with "how" am I supposed to feel about it.
I'm not sure why I initially felt there was a "correct" way to feel...
but it really bugged me that I couldn't pin point my emotions.

I went into this thinking it would bring closure.
It would be the first time I would see him and I wasn't sure what to expect.
I guess I was waiting these past 6 days for that closure to kick in.
I suppose there is an ending on the legal side of it...
But all around, it was a sad day. I was sad for shannon's family and friends.
And I was sad for Chris and his family.
I don't think I'm ready to have sympathy for him...but I did feel sad.
Is that possible? who knows. maybe those aren't even the correct words
to express my emotions but at this point that's as close as I can get.

Ben, Micah and I drove into Atlanta from Charlotte that morning.
It's an easy boring straight 4 hour drive and micah was a dream baby.
Give him a fruit pouch and forget that's the worst idea ever and he is happy.
Our car, car seat and baby smelled fruity fresh.
I held onto the scarf shannon had made me one year for christmas.
I had come across it one day earlier this year when I absolutely needed it.
It was a God moment.

In my purse I had these photos and tissues from my mom.

So thankful for my sister in law who watched Micah so ben wouldn't have to
worry about taking him in and out of the court room.
Ben was my rock that day.

We got there 30 minutes early.
I had knots in my stomach and felt like I was about to do something
I was going to totally regret.

When we got there, shannon's step brother was coming out of the courtroom and
after a hug and smile he asked if we wanted to go up with him to the holding
room where his parents were. We went through the maze of hallways
and ended up in a small room where they all were.
Everyone looked on edge, happy but sad..anxious. to see it all really happen.

The DA came in to give them a run down on how things were going to go.
I felt awkward and was excusing myself when they said to stay.
I told them just to tell me what to do! She started going through what would happen.
I'm glad she did, I felt more prepared and was able to work through some of the knots in my throat. She said how she had to run through the basic details of the murder and that we had to be prepared to hear it. and that, looking at me, some of the details might be new. we had to be ready to hear them. She went on with more of how it would go...
but I already was wanting to fill up with tears. I squeezed shannon's scarf and got through it.

As we made our way down to the court room, Shannon's dad pulled me aside and
asked if I wanted to know details before I heard it in the court room.
That's when the first rush of tears came.
Her mom had come over at the same time showing me a photo album our friend made up...
so many of the photos were from my parent's house when she came up to visit.
I was just in those rooms. everything still looks so much the same.
It just felt like too much and I cried. But at the same time I didn't want them to comfort me.
They had enough on them. 

I really was anxious to see Chris. to just put my eyes on him.
When we entered the court room and all sat down.. his family on the other side..
He walked in with his two lawyers.
Physically he looked the same to me. hair in a pony tail and a wispy beard.
He did a lot of standing and holding his hands together in front of him.
He also bent forward a lot putting both arms on the table in front of him.
Kind of like what you do when you are in a church pew.
He had his head down and to the left or right a lot.
And there were times he shook his head... it looked like the same motion I found
myself doing when they were reading some of the horrible details or affects on the kids.
You just don't want to believe it's real.

The DA ran through a lot of questions with him..and he had to answer yes to each.
Mainly to show he understood the laws, his rights, his decision...etc.

I have to say that I found some comfort in knowing more of the unknown.
I know that I'll never know the conversation they had.. what he said to her what she
said to him.. why he did it.. what he felt after... but knowing more of the timeline and
the autopsy details gave me some peace...she didn't suffer long.
But just hearing all of it took me back to those first days.
The details of how defenseless she was and how ruthless the killing was.
My heart broke for her family having to listen to it with her murderer sitting so close.
Just a very weird feeling. like...does he hear what we are hearing?

I found myself holding my breath.
ben had to squeeze my hand and remind me to breathe.
The tears came and I tried so hard to make them silent.
I wanted to just flat out ugly cry. but my ugly cry is too loud.
and the judge had made it clear at the start that if we didn't think we could handle
it to excuse ourselves. I don't think he meant crying..but I knew I had to keep it
contained or else I would never get it back.
the whole time I felt like water was being poured over me and I was trying
to hold my breath and catch every last drop, not letting it fall to the floor.

At one point Shannon's mom, dad and step mother were able to give a statement
to the judge. Most of their words were to describe to the judge who shannon was...
Lots of memories and details about the beautiful person she was.
These stories brought lots of tears to all of us in the courtroom.
When they talked about some of the memories that I was a part of...
It was like we were back there.
It was especially hard hearing the affect this tragedy had on shannon's children.
Just heart breaking experiences and conversations.

Shannon's mom shared about how Shannon had finally recently "met the love of her life."
and the night before had spinned around her mom's kitchen just so
happy from a fun night with him and friends. How she said,
"mom, I was the prettiest girl in the room!"
It made my heart just want to burst. Because she was able to have that moment,
of realizing how amazing she was again. She was free. She was whole.
That was something he couldn't take from her.
Her babies were baptized..and she saw her worth and beauty!

You will never see me share, until I am told it's appropriate, current photos of shannon's kids.
We want to keep them as safe and private as possible.

At one point the judge asked all of Shannon's friends and family to stand.

The DA had told us before in the holding room, that Chris' lawyer said he was not going to make a statement.
But, when the time came, Chris said he wanted to say something.
He pulled out of his pocket a white piece of paper and read
a bible verse, Psalm 23: "the Lord is my shepherd....."

The DA listed the counts against Chris...and he had to respond to each one.
Guilty.
He only hesitated at one..I don't remember which it was.
And can't assume to know why he hesitated. I would like to think
it's because of the gravity of the crime that was hitting him,
and not that he wanted to back out of his plea.

He never looked over at us. Just at his parents the few times he
turned around when sitting or leaving.

The judge never hammered down his gavel like I pictured always happened in a court room.
too much tv for me I guess.
But the judge accepted his plea and said some kind words to all of us.
It seriously felt like we should have been in a movie.
It didn't seem real.
I remember at one point looking around and going...how did we get here?
I felt like I could just close my eyes tight enough and
open them we would be in another time.

It was just a sad day. all around.
Happy to have this earthly justice. But there is no profound sense of peace.
just lots of sadness right now.
I'm not angry.. so I suppose that's something. I'm glad that her family
doesn't have to go to another courthouse or the suspense of the pending court dates.

A blog reader messaged me earlier this week.... she had gone through a
cross and losing someone she loves.. she told me how she is like a cup now.
that you come to a point where you can keep filling up day to day but then
something will happen and you will overflow. and that's that hard day. I feel like a
cup right now. Some days you are ok and you are just filling up but getting through.
but then you hit that point where you overflow and need to cry...
and then you are ready to be filled again.

Thank you for all the prayers for us there that day.
They were felt.
I felt a grace in the room, that her parents were able to stay so strong.

Please continue to pray for Shannon's children and family.
And all of us who miss her every day.
Shannon's wish was granted, that her children be safe from him.

I'm putting my faith in God right now and loving on my family.
Praying He will help heal my heart and help me to forgive and not be filled with regret.
I still struggle regularly thinking about how shannon would have loved this, or we would have done this.
I know I should be grateful for that last voicemail she left me..
But in my mind I just wish it would have actually come through on
my phone BEFORE instead of after she was taken from us.
I wish that that trip to meet in charlotte with our kiddos would have actually happened...
just weeks away. I hold onto that still. And I hold onto a lot of regret for not being present
in atlanta. Not being there enough. I know that it is useless to burden my heart like that,
but I'm just not there yet to let it go. praying for that peace.
I know it'll come.
I just have to give it up to Him. 
We love and miss you so shannon.









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Baby's First Easter Ideas + Baby Aspen $100 Prize Giveaway!

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I seriously can't even handle the adorableness in this post!!
I have shared Baby Aspen before, and I was happy to share them again
because I really love their products! Lucky for you, they love a good giveaway!

Baby Aspen is gifting one of you with a prize package valued at $100 of baby items!
You can choose a boy or girl package.
The Girl Prize Pack includes: Flower robe, Flower Bloomer, Flower Hat
and Bunny Plush with sweet little socks!
The Boy Prize Pack includes: Dino Robe, Dino Plush and the Dino Bloomers.



How precious is this Peas and Carrots Set!!!
Love those little booties!

"Bibb" Lettuce. I need to make sure I have or know a
baby this age during easter... at all times.
this is too cute!!

Help yourself to pin these cuties!
And be sure to enter the giveaway for your baby or a friend's baby!
Check out Baby Aspen for lots of goodies like this.


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Girls' Weekend in Charlotte!

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Ladies my heart is so encouraged as I write this!
This past weekend I got a boost I needed...having a weekend of girl time!
Mandy, my friend and business partner, came into town for a "work" trip and we had a blast!
We worked hard, played hard and ate ice cream.. hard.
It was just what I was needing and really helped me get out of my head
during my recovery and focus on great friendship and the awesome things we
are planning with HAPPY MOMMY BOX!

I'm so excited and hopeful for the community I've already found here in Charlotte.
I planned a last minute get together via instagram for charlotte locals who wanted to meet up
for pizza and froyo with Mandy and I! More photos below!

Our whole crew was so excited about Mandy coming, so we all went to the airport!
Carrie was also able to drive in for the night before the meet + greet!
Sienna asked every day "MOM, are your girls coming yet??" haha.
On friday we had a fun girls' night of mexican, target shenanigans and ice cream!
I would like to add that we got "scolded" by a teenage target worker for being too wild.
(carrie and mandy were bouncing balls) We felt pretty good about our bad selves.

Saturday was the Meet + Greet and it was so fun!
Here's a shot of the lovely ladies who joined us for some chatting, instagraming and eating.
pretty much the best combo ever.
Of course we had to do the Mandy face for one photo.
(pictured below-not in order) Rachel, Steph, Gena, Stacy, Rachel, Lexi, Erica, Valerie, Carrie

 
 



 Mandy brought her fancy new camera so of course... we took photos!
my sister joined in and snapped some of us while she had a baby on her hip.

Carrie is such an amazing person and always wanting to make people smile.
That means she will arrive at your house with a trunk full of balloons for your littles.
immediately becoming their favorite person in the world.
Micah had a bit of a crush on Mandy. I'm pretty sure she was instagraming out how she was going to try and take him home with her. what's one more boy?

Mandy lives in a sad sad city that doesn't have Chick-Fil-A.
Yes, let's all weep for them.
So of course we took a trip. ben get on in this.
#sisterwives

I'm kindaaa excited that Rachel lives down the street from me.
She texted me the saturday night inviting us to her church where her husband is the worship leader.
Of course we said YES! It was awesome and we plan on going back again!
Great speaker, music and community feel at Ridge Church!

Mandy and I LOVED being able to have Starbucks dates and work TOGETHER...
in the same STATE! We got so much done..and think we need to plan more of these trips.
like immediately. next "meeting" should be on a beach.

So blessed and grateful for this girl!
She really inspires me so much and I have the blog world to
thank for bringing us together!
My mom made a comment to me, one of the nights
Mandy was here, of how she reminded her of shannon a lot.
I had said that to her back when I first was becoming friends with Mandy.
God really is so kind to us. Putting people in our life that help us to be better us-es.
We set out with HAPPY MOMMY BOX to encourage and inspire mamas and I
really feel like that mission is at work in our own relationship and just
pours out into our work with our company!

Officially trying to plan a summer vacation together so I don't have to wait
till the Influence conference to hang out again!
We both were asked to speak on their Strategy Panel and CAN'T WAIT!
Are you going to the conference?? Come hang out with us in Indy in September!!!




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Getting out of my Head.

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It seemed fitting that our first outing...
as a family on our own with the hospital days behind us...
would be to target.
I think I even changed out of yoga pants and put jeans on....
it was a big day. ;)
I love our family selfie we took in the cheese stick aisle. haha.

A lot of days I still feel like I am just out of the hospital in my head.
Like I put makeup on and get dressed but still feel like I'm in a hospital gown.
I'm sure that makes no sense..but it must be how a part of me is working on realizing I'm OK.
I have this fear that I won't get my full personality back...
that this weakness I feel while I'm recovering is going to keep me slow and timid and...sad.
I was legitimately mad at my instagram feed earlier this week.
because it just felt sad. Seeing all the photos from the hospital...
I just wanted to make it happy. and we have been busy making lost of fun
happy memories to push back the sad ones from this past month!

The other morning I came downstairs and sophia goes 
"MOM!!! you're so...so... FUlll....." and then she didn't say anything else, her hands
were just up in the air and she couldn't think of the words to say.
but I could tell she was trying to explain how I looked...
more ALIVE.

Another day she saw me and exclaimed,
"mom!! you're more normal today!!... do we still need to be gentle?" haha...
I'm getting stronger every day and my kids are
noticing these differences in me even when I'm not able to myself.
I'm trying to get out of head and be patient with myself as I get back to normal!

I might not be able to pick up my kids or do much of anything at all,
BUT I have been able to save up some energy and make a meal some nights.
It's something I can do (unless heavy lifting is required then I ask for help)
and I'm DESPERATELY wanting to be able to contribute something around here!

The other night I made up a batch of my favorite pizza dough
The kids loved putting their toppings on their own mini pizzas.
They turned out delicious and pretty as always!

It made me feel so happy to feed
them something homemade and yummy.
I was sore as heck by the end... but it was worth it!

Baby Giggles make everything better.
Love my Ben and his mini-me, Micah.

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Silent Tears and Loud Scars

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So we have made the move down to Charlotte! I got the ok
from my surgeons to make the trip...
and we got through the 10 hour drive and made it here.
Staying at my parent's house while we get settled.
Excited to be with my family and to start looking for our new place!
I have missed the big blue skies here and we are all more excited than nervous to
have made such a big move. My sweet sophia had asked my mom last
week, "so when we live there all the time, am I going to be able to
come over and bake cookies??" ::heart melting::
So glad to be able to make these memories here all together.
The kids are doing so well and are all so happy!

A big weight has been lifted off of me with having finally made the move down south.
So happy to be on the other end of the pain and surgery and hospital days.
I am getting stronger every day.

A new set of struggles has set in.
I had shared yesterday on social media about how hard it has been not being able
to be the mom I'm used to being.


"I took this photo a few days before I ended up in the hospital.
Back when I could actually play with him on the floor and pick him up.
Really having such a hard time not being able to comfort him when he cries.
He has really attached to Ben which is a blessing but it's heartbreaking when Micah
cries and he doesn't even acknowledge I'm in the same room. It's like he knows
I can't do anything for him anyways. Trying to be at peace knowing this is only for
a few more weeks. But lots of silent tears yesterday and today over this."

The bodily pain I'm feeling now is healing pain and not what was happening before
Which is SUCH a blessing because they had even warned me that they could do all the surgery and
then the pain come right back. But every day I feel the pain going down.

My body is just wrecked in my eyes. The scars I have just scream at me.
And it brings me to tears when I look in the mirror.
Which just breaks my heart even writing that. because it's so sad that I wouldn't just be able to look past it...
but if I'm being honest, I'm just not there yet.
I'm the skinniest I've ever really been... because of not eating for so many days.
They even talked about a feeding tube at one point when they couldn't control the pain or find the problem.
In my eyes it doesn't look like a pretty skinny...
I feel like I look weak and have dark circles under my eyes.
My arms and neck are covered in bruises and healing spots from all the different IV's
and times they drew blood. I got undressed the other day and saw a whole
new spot of bruises I hadn't even noticed before on the
back of my upper arm from daily shots.
I have 5 small incisions across my stomach, 1 long larger one across the
bottom of my stomach and then one small incision on my side from the drain.
All this on top of my stretch marks. My bikini days are over. ;)
I know the scars will fade..but right now... it's this reminder of the horrible pain and the
fear of not knowing what was going on... it takes me back to the thick of it when I thought
I would never get through it. Those 4+ hour chunks of time that I just shook, cried
and screamed out in pain and begged please please..someone help me over and over.
To the days and nights I just had to hit the pain pump every 8 minutes or else I would be in horrible agony.
I remember when I finally slept a solid 1.5 hours..it was amazing.
Looking at my body takes me back to the moments I was trying to offer it up and
would say this is for youuuuu this is for youuuu
it became like this lamaze way of getting through the pain..
with the same type of breathing I used when I was in labor with Micah.

I have this new tender heart for anyone who has
experienced changes on their body due to a suffering.
For the women who have had a mastectomy... or c sections but lost their child...
or chemo and have lost their hair. My cross is so small compared to theirs.
But experiencing this has opened my heart to them so much. I've had some amazing
e-mails come in from women who are about to or have faced some of these crosses,
and it has been incredible connecting with them and finding strength in them.
There are some pretty inspirational women out there.

Now the craziness of easing off the strong pain meds is happening.
I already had one day last week that was HORRIBLE.
With anxiety and sweats.
Today as I eased off of it even more, oh my gosh... the worst day.
Chills, dry heaving, nausea, shakes in the head,
light headed-ness almost blacking out two times.
I'm just praying that I can get through this and ease off of them slowly
so that I can go back to my normal. So lucky to have my family here helping me.

when I look in the mirror I just feel worn down.
Just worn. I cried today to my mom...I'm just tired of feeling pain or being sick.
My mom and sister were feeding all the kids a snack today and
I had to leave the room just to cry.
I did the same thing yesterday. just took a break to the bathroom to cry.
Just to be vulnerable with God and ask Him to help me during this time I feel so helpless.
Ben told me in bed the other night, as I cried about how helpless and frustrated I felt,
not being able to bend down or pick up my own child or have a clear head
to work, "don't worry about anything else but taking care of you."
But that's the problem. I know that when taking care of me,
I'm asking others to do more.
And that is very hard for me. So praying extra hard tonight for
peace and help in being still and patient.


Trying to focus on the good that we have right now

and to look past the struggles of the day.


We have today.



get down and play with your kids on the floor for me today!





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My Hospital Tour and Reflections

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I really don't even know how to begin this post. 
A few weeks ago. Life got a little crazy.
1. We decided that we were going to move to Charlotte to be near family and focus on
growing HAPPY MOMMY BOX. We got out of our rental lease early, but had to be out
for new renters to be in within a few days. Packed up our house and shipped it to Charlotte.
Was staying with friends for that limbo time before I headed down with the kids.
The plan was for ben to finish work here and then he would join us down south in april.
We would stay with my parents till he came down and we found our new place.
But that obviously was too chill of a life for us...
We needed to throw in a 2 week+ long stay at 3 different hospitals a
couple minor operations and a surgery into the mix.

Everything is just now settling in. The trauma of the pain I experienced. and the tension of
the not knowing why I was in such pain.. it wore on me and now that we are on the other end....
it's all just hitting me like sack of flour in the face. Just realizing that because of this
pain and doing test after test to find answers, they were able to find a 4cm pre cancer cyst on my pancreas...
and pretty much save my life. 
So many tears shed these past weeks.. and so much love shown to us.
By our family and friends and by COMPLETE STRANGERS.

I've never cried out to God like this before.
In the way that I really felt that the pain was going to take over me and crush me.
But it was during one of those moments of pain that I felt the closest to God.
I'm pretty sure it was only a few seconds, but near the end of 4 hours of solid pain, it felt like a miracle.
I really felt like God was there with me.. and Shannon came to mind.
That they were telling me "hang on we are here with you this is
all for good. you are so close!"

If you were to ask me what l felt God revealed to me during this hardship....I would say:
The power of prayer is real. I've seen it first hand.
During the exact time that ben had set up and passed the word for everyone to pray,
I had whispered to him (too afraid to move and somehow bring the pain back)
that the pain had subsided! And although it came back...
it gave me strength and hope  to keep going.
There was really no reason that the pain should have subsided that day we
needed me to be off pain meds for a certain amount of hours so we
could do the test that helped answer questions. the pain came back violently
that evening..but just having those hours of being HUMAN again.....
and enough time to lay still for the tests... we seriously just kept all looking at each other like...
what is going on....this is God. 

I learned God has a plan... we might not see it all the time...
but when He let's us see a glimpse into His plan and reveal how He is working,
it's INCREDIBLE.

There are SO MANY good people in our world that are willing to show kindness
to complete strangers and rally together in prayer. I have hope for our world.

We need to trust in God. He will see us through any cross we face.
however big or small. Speak it even when you struggle to believe it.

------------------

If you want to see how it all went down,
here's my instagram updates we shared.
sometimes ben took over.

3 weeks ago
This is NOT a Photo from today. I look a whole lot more crazy. This is from one of the multiple times I had to go to the emergency room/doctor for the pain on my side. The pain has been getting worse and usually I can function every day with it but lately it was so bad I had to just curl up on the floor at least once a day from the pain. Last night the pain was so intense I woke up and went to the ER crying in my pajamas.They did more X-rays and saw what they think is a kidney stone. 3cm. Met with a specialist this am and had a CT scan done. Will know more tomorrow but they wanted to schedule my follow up early in case they needed to "schedule surgery" ?!?!  glad to finally know what has been causing the pain all these months.. But I'm not a fan of hospitals or needles. At all. Prayers appreciated!


3 weeks ago

This was my second gown of the day. I'm such a Fashionista.

3 weeks ago
Got out of outpatient surgery and Ben said doctor updated him that there were no kidney stones causing the pain. I cried. On morphine from the pain. Don't have much energy. Traveling to different hospital for specialists. Please say a prayer if you have a minute. Hoping to find answers.  @blesnefsky is my hero. Print from @naptimediaries

3 weeks ago

This is me stealing Natalie's phone and posting to IG while she tells me not to. Keep prayers coming for her. No stones and they're trying to figure out cause of pain. Thanks everyone I really appreciate you're prayers and support for Natalie!


3 weeks ago
Admitted to the hospital till who knows when. Missing my kids. But my yummy liquid diet is lifting my spirits.... happy to finally eat something after a day of tears, pain, test after test, more tears more pain. Realizing I had an outpatient surgery for no reason now that fresh eyes looked at the CT. (Grr) at a new hospital.. Have checked every body part I've ever heard of. Tomorrow the GI doctor comes. Trying to get ahead of the pain but haven't succeeded yet. I seriously thought I was birthing Micah again. Trying So hard to offer the pain up for the souls God has given me, but I am so frustrated, sad, sorry for the trouble I'm causing and not feeling strong enough. Appreciate all the prayers. Trying to stay positive and enjoy my chicken broth. Husband is amazing and still wants to kiss me even with dried sleeping slobber on my face. He is loving my 4th hospital gown of the week. It sometimes is an off the shoulder look. Hoping to get a gallbladder ultrasound tomorrow too although they don't think that's it. Thankful for friends taking care if our kids and my mom driving up from Charlotte. Even when you're a mom you want your mommy! Trying to hang in there but the unknown is so hard! 

2 weeks ago
I had some cute visitors today at the hospital.  had to fit in some "gentle" snuggles with my kids. Tried to explain all the machines and IV's. Sophia-"but mom are you going to blog?"  she said she would blog for me.  love her. Thanks for all the prayers texts and emails! Did another CT Scan with dye. Met with a GI specialist. There's a sore in my colon and they are treating me for an infected intestine for now with more tests happening Monday. Pain is being managed and finally was able to eat something not liquid for the first time since Thursday! Back to liquids tomorrow, so enjoying my cream of wheat 

2 weeks ago
Still hanging in there! Mom and Ben are taking turns being with me at the hospital. So thankful for them. Colonoscopy tomorrow and taking a biopsy of an area. Side issue..Saw a cyst elsewhere but not worried about that being cancer, just want an mri done at some point. - horrible headache and nausea.. Feeling weak from not eating much. Trying to stay positive and pray. Spoke out loud to God earlier, feeling like I'm going to hear bad news every time someone comes in. Thank you for the prayers and help for my family. 

2 weeks ago
Yesterday was one of the hardest days so far. But seeing my kids gave me that boost I needed

2 weeks ago
Yesterday was the hardest day. Abdomen pain was taken over with nausea and headache and I had a horrible reaction to the other medicine they gave me- practically paralyzing me and causing anxiety and restlessness. I cried it was so scary. My mom just held her face next to mine saying i'm here. Finally passed. Could move. I thought the night wouldn't end. I prayed to God and thanked Him (with tears) for my cross..help me to carry it well. Hardest part is not being able to take care of my family. But have been so blessed by those who have stepped in to help. Offering this up for my family and the women I'm supposed to reach in my life. Tears on my face. Hopeful for results of the colonoscopy and biopsy and the mrct of the cyst on my pancreas. Thank you for prayers and encouragement.@blesnefsky and my mom are my Heroes

2 weeks ago
Had the colonoscopy but they skipped the biopsy.. First thing they said when I was just coming out of anesthesia was no sign of Crohn's disease or anything cancerous. Once the anesthesia completely wore off I was in the worst pain yet. they gave me pain meds but nothing worked until two hours past. It was like labor pains with Micah only worse because I didn't know why and didn't see an end in sight. Waiting to meet with doctors tomorrow to go over the report more and get some questions answered. And I'm scheduled for the MRI of the cyst in my pancreas tomorrow am. Not sure where to go from here. Ben has been praying with me and helped me get through the pain when I didn't think I could -flowers from @blesnefsky

2 weeks ago
Feeling blessed. Thank you for the cards and flowers(these beauties from my sweet aunt Dominique and uncle mike) and for the prayers. Colonoscopy rules out Crohn's disease and anything cancerous. As soon as the anesthesia wore off the worst pain of my life set in for 4 hours. I was crying out to God. Pastors came over and prayed over me. I think I scared them with the shaking crying and throwing up. But we prayed together and asked for god to guide us. Doctors loaded me up with so much pain medicine it finally became bearable and now I'm just nauseas and throwing up. Did an MRI on the cyst on my pancreas. To quote the doctors.. We're stumped. Don't know what is causing the pain, trying to manage it (usually unsuccessfully) thank you for the prayers. Dad just flew in from Charlotte. They called a surgeon in but have ruled out surgery. Grateful for your thoughts and prayers. Praying the nausea goes away so I can finally eat something real. It's been since Thursday.

2 weeks ago
I miss my Micah man. we've ran so many tests. Pain is under control for the moment.

2 weeks ago
Thankful today for the Health of our family all these years. Please pray for those with way more suffering than me. And for those who are lonely here at the hospital. I'm so blessed to have family and friends here helping, but ok my way to tests I see many many people alone and it hurts my heart, pain was managed well all night. Trying to not feel negative... But not sure what the next step is. You all have been leaving comments of things to look into and about 97 percent of them they have looked into. Trying hard to trust. Yesterday when the pain was the worst I just was screaming and groaning.. The pain was so intense. I called out Jesus I love you Jesus please help me! Hardest part was seeing @blesnefsky cry as he let me grab his arm in pain. He has been my rock. Thankful for my spouse.

2 weeks ago
Please join us tonight to lift up natalie In prayer for the Holy Spirit to lead the doctors and that her pain is manageable. Today she prayed to God that whoever she can offer up the pain for would take her prayers. Join us tonight 6-9 as we pray for her. Thanks, Ben

2 weeks ago
{Old photo} today was the hardest yet. Woke up at 630 am and while I talked with surgeons could feel the pain building. Quickly was out of control and they wouldn't give me any more pain meds. It was an incredible suffering all day long. I cried through most of it. Sometimes out loud but it hurt to move it breath so many silent tears and whispered prayers. I cried to God. Trying to believe it by saying it. Jesus I trust in you. I didn't want to waste a single moment of pain.. I didn't want it to be for nothing.. Cried with my mom as I whispered out this is for you.. This is for you (whoever you are in the world) - I was so weak today from fighting the pain for so many hours. I thought it was going to crush me. They keep telling me how strong I am, but I don't feel strong at all. Trying to keep up hope and ignore my husband making comments about how hot I am in front of the nurses. At 630 I finally had reliefs randomly from the pain. My husband then showed me the Facebook group praying and the Instagram shares. I cried and am so thankful for all of you. It was by no coincident that during that set time to unite in prayer I finally was able to be without pain. Thank you!!! Please pray for the night. I'm scared because I have to stop pain meds after 2 am for a test at 8 am.

2 weeks ago
So far she's doing great. Said it hurts but she's really doing well. She doesn't want to talk said it hurts to much. She is doing miraculously and we know it's from prayer. Thank you and keep it coming.... Here is a prayer we said this morning,

Ben


2 weeks ago
God is bigger than all these! Pain has stayed away all morning without pain meds. She is peacefully in her test right now and I'm pretty sure she's sleeping. Prayer is so powerful! 

Thanks everyone!!!! @blesnefsky


2 weeks ago
One test done waiting for another before I'm back in my room. As they wheeled me down here I just kept whispering a God you're with me God you're with me. -no pain meds through the night I was terrified. All through the night I would randomly find Ben kneeling at my bedside praying. Every morning around 5/630 the pain begins to build. This am I felt it coming around 5... I didn't move and only whispered as it built up. Started to cry terrified because I know how bad it gets. Then around 720 I was still holding my body tense trying not to move and Ben had knelt down to pray. I whispered to Ben that the pain had lifted too scared to move and make it come back. It doesn't make sense I said. Ben said it makes total sense you have so many people praying for you. We both cried. Pain has held off through the hour I had to lay in the test. My faith has never felt stronger... So thankful for our loving Jesus and all of your prayers. 

2 weeks ago
This morning as I waited for my HIDA Test to be finished so we could start the next, I looked over at Ben and asked him if he ever wondered why we go through certain things. I told him I felt like, through this whole thing my faith in God and the power of prayer was lifted! But I now realize that was only the start of Him working in my life. Like I said earlier, my pain CRAZILY completely left me this morning so I could lay and do my HIDA scan. The tests showed Obstruction and inflammation of gall bladder, they also found that my cyst on my pancreas needs to be removed. They believe that left untreated it could become cancerous. It is also 4 cm large and could be part of the abdominal pain the gall bladder is causing. I'm going to be transferred to other hospital- third one! (hospital tour !) and a pancreas specialist doctor for a lapro surgery to remove gall bladder and cyst. Feel so many miracles today. I am in shock and can't stop smiling even though I have surgery scheduled and possible pancreas ultrasound(down my throat I think) I just can't get over how all this time here led them to the pancreas and how that could have easily been missed. They aren't positive it's nothing but they can't be till they see it. Power of prayer! Faith is stronger than ever! Thank you so much for all you prayer warriors!!!! I'll continue to offer up my pain and discomfort for "you" whoever that might be. But thankful to have answers. That was the scariest part.
 {my happy dance if I could dance}

2 weeks ago
Can't wait to be home with my family. I miss them terribly! I was going to announce Sunday before all the hospital festivities began Friday......... But we are moving to Charlotte!! The word has been out "officially" so wanted to share on my social media. We actually had a few weeks of being out of our house and in limbo before going to Charlotte when I went to the hospital! (just to add to the trusting in God part--not doing the rental we had planned and shared before, But needed to be out for new renters of current place=craziness) We are excited for where God is leading our family! My family is in Charlotte so they are kinda excited too  So sad to be leaving our amazinggg community here in Pittsburgh but at total peace with our big move. Ready to be near family and focus on @happymommybox!! Ben has loved this last year of doing ministry as his job, but is ready to step in a new direction. Moving our family in the direction we think we are called. Ready for us to all be together.. And in warmth!!! Not sure when the kids and I will head down, but April is when Ben is finished at church. Hard to choose to leave such a great parish but we have loved being a part of a community there that is so in love with their faith and will take that with us!! We will miss our Pittsburgh people! Can't thank @natfrey3 and bill enough for letting us be their family roommates during this time! I seriously have been blown away with their kindness. And it was kinda fun doing wife/mom things together.. Let's just do communal living in Charlotte nat. 

2 weeks ago
Last night as the ambulance arrived to take me to the new hospital, the left side pain started to build and the morphine wasn't covering it. It built and built and very quickly was out of control. Since I was just arriving there was a delay in being given pain meds. Luckily we had a fantastic doctor's (from the past hospital) pager number and she was very helpful in making some "stern" calls to get the ball rolling. You guys...the pain was the most INTENSE of my life and rocked my entire abdomen. I cried the most ever and the only way I was able to get control of my breathing was with the help of my mom and Ben on either side of me. I had one leg under my knee one foot crushing the end of the bed, a cold tag on my eyes and by thinking if someone to offer this pain for. The first girl that came to mind was a follower who commented yesterday, beautiful heather@hchauvin of momisincontrol.com who is 27 and mom of three going through chemo. Girl...we are connected. You helped me get through the pain and I hope it helps you. I pictured your tiny IG photo!!! -- not gonna lie.... Angry and exhausted today. ready to not be in pain.. Trying to trust but the exhaustion from last night is just putting me over the edge today.  It's Friday so probably will be doing one surgery before the other. (Gall bladder surgery is easier than pancreas-they want to prepare more.) Thank you for any prayers for me.. But please join me in praying for @hchauvin


2 weeks ago
You don't even know how much you all help me. A big ol puffy teary mess today missing my kids and not loving the potential time line made with the surgeons. I don't know if I'm just overly worn out from everything last night and the past week, but feeling soo sad about being away from my kids so long. Thank you @k8fischrfor these! I always thought since losing Shannon, starting my blog so many years ago, must have been to have a platform to share her story.. But now I can add that it also has given me access to so many amazing praying and blessing friends!! I am tearing up typing just thinking of how you have helped me during all of this unknown. Trying to focus on the fact that they were able to catch, during all the testing, the 4 cm pre cancer cyst. You don't always get to see how God works in your life.. But we were able to see Him making that aware to us this week so we could take action early. Wiping tears and trying to be strong. 

1 week ago
I'm so thankful for Ben. He has been my breathing coach and person I can lean on (literally) During these days of feeling so sick and weak. Thankful for him serenading me with 98 degrees songs.. And resisting the urge to answer about himself when the doctors ask if I had bowel movements or gas.. Thankful for him braving the cold for panera for me so I could eat something besides hospital food... He loved me even when I was a dried slobber on my face mess and embarrassingly tells the hospital staff how hot I am an awkward amount of times.. But really see his love for me when I wake up through the night and see him kneeling at my bedside praying for me and our family...  @blesnefsky

1 week ago
Today has been a little more hopeful than yesterday. I don't know HOW mothers survive being away in the hospital long from their kids. My heart breaks each time they leave and I am even lucky to see an end day in sight now! (Maybe Saturday???) makes me want to see what I can do for mamas experiencing this once I'm better. I could see the sadness on my kid's faces yesterday. Especially Sophia.(5) she is able to get it the most and jumps right up in bed with me and tucks under my arm to snuggle. Sienna snuggles too, but she acts more "silly" in her response to the changes. Ben posted this last night-"Tonight as I was snuggling with sophia and sienna, Sophia was crying and said I miss Mom and I miss family. I miss doing fun things together. This ripped my heart out but I told her how she needs to be strong to help mommy fight this. I told her things will be ok and we will all be together soon doing lots of fun things, she saw a tear run down my face and asked me if I was crying and I told her yes, its ok to be sad and to cry and everything is going to be ok. I know God must have a plan and that all this suffering isnt going to waste but its deffinitely getting harder."---- thank you for prayers. Please pray for my sweet little ones! And for this mission put in my heart while here. It's so hard for mamas to visit and comfort their kids in a hospital... I feel helpless. I was told today meals are planned for the next week for the kids and I cried. Some friends put together a meal train and I am so grateful! It's really so uplifting to see the goodness in so many people when suffering happens in a family!

1 week ago
My sweet Sophia was excited to come to the hospital today to see me and have her penguin play with my owl  ( I gave them each a stuffed animal to snuggle with at home and I have the owl from Ben to "snuggle" with at the hospital) -- My mom told me today that yesterday as she drove the kids out of the hospital parking garage they reached the top and Sophia from. Te backseat goes "it's so beautiful!!!!" My mom asked what was? "The sky!!!! It's so beautiful!!" my mom laughed and agreed and thought from her view seeing the sunset it must have been the perfect shot going from dark to light. Sophia then said "I want to have my birthday here!!!!!"  I seriously love her and her view of the world.

1 week ago
Being away from my kids makes my heart...But I loved being able to give them something to snuggle up with when they are away from me. I also let them open a couple letters and packages that arrived for me and they LOVED it. Some of you have commented, texted or emailed asking how you can help in other ways besides prayers, if you feel called, maybe you(or your kids!) could mail a letter to my girls! I would be able to give it to them when they come visit me at the hospital. If you have time, even a doodle with their name on it in an envelope would make their hearts just soar. They know mommy's blog readers and @happymommyboxmommies... Sophia and Sienna would feel the love! --- PO BOX 13205 Pittsburgh, PA 15216 (address no longer current)


1 week ago
When Sophia left the hospital today, she held in her tears till she was out of the room.. But I called her back in and we hugged and cried together. She has been trying to be so strong but I told her it's ok to cry, it's a hard time, but we will be together soon. Bless her little heart. 

1 week ago
The readings for today couldn't have been more fitting... "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself."-- Tomorrow is surgery day. They are removing my gall bladder (bilaria dyskinesia or acalculous cholecystitis) they are also removing 20-30% of my pancreas where the cyst is. It is pre cancerous and because they don't want to risk bursting it and spreading it(if it is cancer) they are removing my spleen since it is connected to it. Pretty much lobbing off the end of my pancreas. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning first thing. Could be taken to the OR around 6. I'm in the best hospital in Pittsburgh for this operation and feel confident in my doctors. I'm most concerned about recovery time. They said it could be 5-12 more days in the hospital. Hoping for 5-7. Makes me want to cry just thinking about being away from my kids that whole time. Feeling helpless and have been worrying about my family while I'm out of commission for so long--but today's other reading spoke to my worries perfectly... "So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’

or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides." --- please pray for us tomorrow and again, thank you for following our family and the prayers and encouragement you have given us during this time!


1 week ago
 SO blessed by random strangers messaging and donating to help take some stress away financially. A girl I never even have met but follows my blog felt called to start spreading the word and help and I can't even thank her enough. Shared her link on my blog's Facebook page. Ben was crying. I was crying. Really brought me so much comfort as I head into surgery tomorrow.

1 week ago
This is Ben. Surgery went very well and we are just waiting for them to get pain under control. Please pray for her. Hopefully I'll be back with her shortly. 

1 week ago

@blesnefsky here again. Everything went great. We're back in her room now. She's in a good amount of pain but doing ok she's peaceful and resting. She has 6 incisions a drain on the side of her abdomin to drain excess fluid from surgery and a tube in her nose to drain the stomach. During surgery they think they may have found a cause to the left side pain as the cyst was pushing against the spleen and her veins to spleen were really enlarged. The said the cyst would have also ended up giving her liver problems down the line. Gall bladder definitely had to come out and will relieve right side pain. Cyst is off to pathology and we should know the results of that wed to Friday. God is good prayers for recovery


1 week ago
God is good! After a blur of day yesterday- not being able to move and barely speak and in horrible pain- we are seeing improvement in my recovery! One of the many tubes in me is gone. I moved to a chair and "sat" there two hours!!  I peed!! With an audience. I can speak easier. Tomorrow's goal is to take out nose/stomache tube and walk down hall a bit. Terrified but the pain is getting better managed and each step will take me closer to going home for my kids! Thank you for joining in prayer for me and my family...Finally looked at my phone for a minute while I can focus and was amazed by the love!!  it's starting to set in that the pre cancerous cyst we randomly found during all of this was a "your life was just saved" moment

6 days ago
I got much needed boosts today... Thank you sweet friends!! They arrived at the perfect moment.  My mama heart CANNOT WAIT to give this letter to Sophia!! It was the first to arrive! Thank you to all of you who took the time to send love mail to my kids... I feel helpless here in the hospital but am so excited I can make them smile when they come visit tomorrow and I give them this! So thoughtful of you!! --- PO Box 13205 Pittsburgh PA 15216 (address no longer current)

6 days ago
For Lent..I gave up my gall bladder , spleen and 20-30% of my pancreas. No cheating on Sundays though. And actually I never get them back. 

5 days ago
Moving forward! Last night the stomach/nose tube was taken out and I could finally speak with more comfort! Today the nerve blocks in my back and the heart monitors on my chest were removed!! Looking forward to taking out the big IV in my neck later today and the most painful part, the drain on my side...tomorrow!! We are on the home stretch people!! And your prayers are helping us hang on and focus on the end in sight. The days of sad kids leaving me at the hospital are numbered. 

5 days ago
The letters have been pouring in, as asked, for my sweet girls. Can't thank you enough for the doodles from your kids and stickers and just the love you put into each letter!

4 days ago
The other day was an especially hard goodbye from the kids. Ben told me they got back to the car in the hospital parking garage to find a huge target bag filled with doc mcstuffin toys and this note. Perfect timing to help ease Sophia's tears! Thankful for this random act of kindness from a stranger! #godisgood hanging in there! Thanks for the prayers. Ben is going to the PO Box today and I can't wait to share more letters with the girls! Blown away by your kindness to us during this time.

4 days ago

To celebrate 2 weeks at the hospital being behind us, and hopefully one day to go, we checked out ALL TOGETHER the hospital cafeteria. Grandma and grandpa were there too. Enjoying my full liquid diet one more day. LOVED opening the letters with my kids from kind strangers around the world! Their happiest time here-- lots of smiles and giggles! THANK YOU!


4 days ago
Guess who is going home tomorrow?!?! ME!!!!!!! 


4 days ago
Thankful for my amazing husband who has been by my side lifting me up this whole time. We just stood and "hugged" for the first time in weeks. But I seriously just told him I'll kick him out of here if he makes me laugh again. It hurts so bad! The nurse came in and I warned her if he comes out with a black eye, I did it.  love you @blesnefsky - and no you cannot wear a gown.

3 days ago
Yesterday I can't even describe the joy I saw on my Sophia's face when she saw the BAG of mail from people around the world wanting to cheer her up while she missed her mommy. It was an amazing moment seeing the doodles of her name on all these letters. There were even postcards from Germany of "Cinderella's castle"  THANK YOU to each of you that took the time to bless my kids and in turn Ben and I!!! 

3 days ago
(VIDEO OF US DANCING TO "I'M COMING HOME..") This is our theme song for today!! Trying to explain to Ben he cannot have it playing when they wheel me out... Today is such a good day!!!!!! Can't wait to be with my kids after two weeks. Thankful they found out what was causing the pain (gall bladder, cyst on pancreas pressing against spleen, veins enlarged in spleen) and that they found the 4cm pre cancerous cyst on my pancreas that they said left untouched could have killed me years down the road. So thankful. And still in shock. We will get details on the pathology of the cyst this week. Excited to read more of your mail and prayers tonight. Never felt more trust in God and that there really are GOOD people in the world. 
-----
Been an emotional but good day!! Tears started flowing in the car ride leaving the hospital. During those days of horrible pain I couldn't imagine leaving the hospital. So grateful it's happening. Pain is still strong but it's a different type of pain.. I'm healing! Thankful for my amazing parents who have helped SO MUCH! And for my brother in law and sister in law for opening their house to us as we are in limbo time till we move to Charlotte. Ready to start making some fun memories with the kids.. Too many sad ones made this week! But happy they were able to see the kindness of others and the power of prayer these past two weeks and 1 day 

2 days ago
Sore and weak but I'm healing! Happy to be home and near my loves. Can't lift anything heavy {Micah} but able to "side snuggle" and just BE with them. Micah finally put his arms up for me.. It was heartbreaking when he wouldn't come to me at the hospital. Thank you for the continued prayers!

1 day ago
I have my little spot on the sofa with pillows and a blanket where I can watch the kids play. So hard not being able to help more. So frustrating being limited but trying to ease into everything. Sophia told Ben yesterday she is happy mommy is home but that I'm walking weird. 

20 hours ago
I've felt like crying since yesterday. Kept it together till tonight. I didn't even try to cry and the tears fell. I think the past few weeks were just so traumatic with the pain, and tense with the unknown, now that I'm finally back home with my family and can see them a little more peaceful, the emotions are just taking over. I don't feel or look like myself yet. I know it's going to take time but it feels like slo-mo, I can't even pick up Micah and hold him and comfort him when he cries. Also the stress of moving next week and not being able to do final things like I planned before we leave is hurting my heart. Through this whole experience I've realized how fragile we are and how much we need God and others. This is a good lesson for me, someone who wants to always do the taking care of and not slow down. Praying for peace tonight as I let my body heal and the reality of everything that just happened set in. The struggles this week seem small to the big ones that could have come if they didn't discover the cyst. Thank you for the continued prayers and support! Sweet@justagirl_abby took care of dinner for us with pizza delivered at the perfect timing for our crew here! I can't wait to pay all this love forward!

I have a follow up appointment with my doctor on wednesday...
and if all goes well, we will be heading to Charlotte Sunday!!
Ben was given the choice to do full work days or be able to be with me in the hospital and help take care of the kids. he chose his family. So he won't have to stay here till April.
On to charlotte and our next adventure there! Very excited for what God has in store for us...
and very thankful for how He has seen us through this so far. He is with us.

The pain is there, but it's different.. it's a healing pain. And I can handle that!
Every day I feel myself getting stronger and not so weak from
not eating or moving and just fighting the pain all those days.

We can't thank our friends family and strangers for the love prayers
and encouragement we have felt!


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