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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who Cares?

I sometimes wonder if people get tired of seeing my continual post about our fundraising efforts.  So I thought I would share why I care so much about these upcoming walks and all the fundraisers we are doing?

Because my child was diagnosed at the age of 2 with a brain tumor that has almost no chance of survival for children under the age of 2. 
Ellie, day she was diagnosed, February 18th, 2013


Because I know how it feels to wonder whether or not my child will live.

Because I've said the prayer where I begged God to heal her because the doctors couldn't.

Because I've spent hours googling my child's cancer hoping and praying to read something encouraging.

Because I've been in a hospital where children fight every day for just one more day.

Because I will never forgot the day the little girl across the hall from us passed away and I watched the pain on her family's face from inside my daughter's hospital room.

Because I've witnessed first hand the effects of these medicines. I've watched children get sick while desperately trying to eat something so they don't have to have their feeding tube connected.

Because I've been told "your daughter has 4 weeks to live."

Because I watched my family try to be strong while they were scared to death.

Because the scene of the last night of my daughter's life is permanently stuck in my brain and there are days I would love to turn it off.

Because cancer isn't just about cute kids with bald heads, 7 children loose their life everyday due to this disease!

Because before Ellie got cancer I was completely unaware. I knew nothing about pediatric cancer or the prevalence.

Because today 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer, and one could easily be another one of mine, my family's or my friends.

Because now I know and I want to be a part of the cure, not just hope someone else does. 

I know these aren't the pretty facts of cancer or our experience with it, but these are the realities. 

Last picture I have of Ellie on my phone, December 18th, 2013.  You can see the cancer has taken over, you can see how tired she is, but how much she still wanted to paint with Mrs. Kelly. 

There's my reasons for caring and why this is so important to me. If you'd like to join us in our efforts, below are some important links.

CureSearch Walk Team

St. Jude Walk Team
http://walk.stjude.org/princessstrong2014

Current ThirtyOne Fundraiser for CureSearch

For more fundraising updates, visit Team Princess Strong's Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/teamprincessstrong

Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly 









Friday, September 12, 2014

Reality

Tomorrow we walk again....well don't think I will be, this 34 week prego lady is trying to keep this baby in! But this walk is different, and honestly I'm struggling. September is hard. If you weren't already aware, it's Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and I'm surrounded by things gold and yellow, the color of childhood cancer. And while it's nice to see so many people tuning in and supporting, it's heart breaking all the same.  Heartbreaking because in a few weeks the gold will be gone, but there still won't be a cure, my child will still be gone, the month will change and so will everyone's focus and the reality of childhood cancer for many people will turn off until next September. But not for my family. 
The reality is that 46 children everyday will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and 7 children will die from cancer. The reality is that these walks we do just aren't for fun. They mean something to me, and to all those whose lives have been forever altered due to this disease. When all these people join my team, people I don't even personally know, my heart is encouraged that we are brining awareness to others lives, we are supporting those still battling, and we are honoring those whose lives we're taken.

Tomorrow's walk means so much to me for so many different reasons, and is probably also the main reason for my emotions being all over the place tonight. This race is being organized by someone who fell into my life when her own cancer journey started. After making her a hat to cover her beautiful bald head, who knew what was to come of our relationship...God sure did. As she says, little drops of honey along the way.  Tomorrow, there will be pink fire trucks with pink firemen. The same pink trucks that pulled into my driveway a year ago, and made Ellie's feet dance. Tomorrow people will wear her name across their shirts, and read a beautiful bible verse about letting God's light shine through you. Tomorrow we will wear tiaras in her honor and get really messy.  Tomorrow lots of money (I'm hoping) will be raised for two charities that support pediatric cancer.  One of those charities is starting a fund, in honor of her. Tomorrow Ellie's Elves will make a big impact on the community around it.  Tomorrow toys will be donated to create toy closets in her name, but tomorrow, she won't be there. Tomorrow my heart will swell with pride, but the hole will be big.  



Richard often makes these pictures. I saw where someone shared it on Facebook, and someone else commented, "if he can heal cancer, why doesn't he?" When I read this I can easily see why someone would ask that. I've asked it myself, multiple times. But He does heal cancer, a lot, just not always the ones we want Him to. I don't know how He picks and chooses, but that's not really for me to know at the moment. I do know that because I am saved, I can one day be Christ like and I can know the answers to all my "whys", not that I'm sure that I will even care anymore once I get to heaven.  I truly feel that because Jesus lives in my heart, he gives me His eyes at times to see what he's doing. He let me see the lives we have touched.  He encourages me with the words of others.  He didn't heal here on this earth, but he gave her the gift of everlasting life, which is way better than any other gift, and as her mother you can be sure that I will be there with her, that's my reality.  
God used my family to be a reality to others, he made people pay attention to cancer, through her.  He knew that once this touched my life, I would forever be changed. I will always talk about my daughter, the struggles that she and so many other children face dealing with an incurable disease. The choices we had to make, and the beautiful things that happened. He choose us because we would make this reality known to many, we would share the amazing things God can do and will do, once you make the choice to let him in your life. No, he didn't heal my daughter and the pain is still raw, but he made sure that I would get to spend eternity with her. When you really, really think about it, He gave us something better than a cure on earth, he gave us forever. And yes I have to suffer now, and yes I have to cry and long to squeeze her, but I have faith that it is all going to be worth it.
I remember when we first started going to church again, I heard my preacher say he would rather God take his new baby granddaughter now, then to let her live her life not accepting The Lord in her heart and going to hell. I was shocked....why would any one want God to take their baby or grandbaby. I can't say I understood what he was saying until my own daughter was taken from this earth. My daughter was given a place in heaven because of her age, I don't have to wonder if she will be there or hope that she made that choice, or worry about it. I get it now. 

I can't give the perfect answer as to why he doesn't heal cancer the way we think he should. All I can say is he heals it according to his will.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [thorn], that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:8–9

He can heal cancer. 


 I warned you my emotions were all over tonight. I feel pride and nerves (which is nothing new to me), excitement and a heavy burden. Pride for my family and all we have done. Nerves because my name is Carly and I always get nervous. Excitement to do something fun with a lot of wonderful people tomorrow. And a heavy burden to remind you that life isn't always going to be what you want it to be. Things aren't always going to go your ways even close to it, but God has an amazing gift to give you that guarantees you will not suffer or feel pain any longer. God has the gift of eternal life, but you have to accept the gift. Will you?

Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly

Monday, September 8, 2014

Are you smarter than a first grader?

Lately, I'm not!
I've had so many ideas running through my crazy head about what to write about, and as I was sharing this story with a friend today, I realized, this is what I needed to share!

As I near the end of my pregnancy, the doctor's appointments get more and more frequent.  I have the extra special challenge of gestational diabetes, so I get monitored by a few different sets of doctors. And in typical Blaine style, I don't go to the doctor in the same county where I live or work :) so the back and forth does get old after a while. I have Noah with me at school too, so I usually have to tote him along...he's probably the only 6 year old that knows that you pee in a cup when you go to the OB.  
So at my last doctor appointments, I was so stressed.  I had to leave early, pull Noah out of school because the specialist I see closes earlier than other doctors offices.  Luckily I can see both my doctors in one day, but I hate pulling him out.  The dreaded conversation came up about weekly heart monitoring...not because anything is wrong with the baby, just because that's protocol.  Of course, I'm going to do what the doctors feel is best, but the little girl in me (not the no named baby) just wanted someone to give in a little to what would make my life easier!  My doctor suggested I call the hospital in the town where I work and see if they could do the weekly tests.  Again I'm ready to cry...I don't even order pizza on the phone, much less call some random hospital and ask about a test.  After we left the doctor's office, I think I cried half the way home, I let Noah watch a movie in the car because I didn't want him to hear me venting all my frustrations to Richard on the phone.  Not only were the doctors not giving in to what I wanted, SG was also getting sick.  And once you've had one child with cancer, I don't think you can ever look at your kids "coming down with something" the same again.  My nerves were shot.  I got home, and took our little feverish lump from Richard so he and Noah could go to church and I could sit on the couch cuddling my girl, figuring out how I was going to get out of making this phone call!

After Richard and Noah got back from church that night we put Noah to bed and I was crying some more, Richard was doing his best to fix my problems, but I was non consolable, I was convinced nothing he said would work! Noah comes out of his room and crawls up in my lap and hugs me (just what I needed in that moment).  We tried to explain to him everything was fine, the doctors just wanted me to come a lot and I couldn't keep taking him out of school early every week.  He finally headed to bed.

The next morning Noah asked me if I felt better and what made me feel better. I told him his hug really helped me.  Then he said, "well I also prayed for you after I went back to bed", I giggled and told him it was a good thing he did because Mommy forgets to sometimes because I'm too busy trying to fix the problem myself.  In the car on the way to school, we were thinking of things to pray about and he said we should ask God to help me find a way to go to the doctor and not have Noah miss too much school.  Such a simple prayer, but its what we needed.  I immediately thought of a sweet friend who is so faithful to ask God to help her with the small things, like papers she can't find.  I always smile when she asks me to pray for those things, but it always works.  I never think about praying for simple things like that.  I don't know why, is it because I think He doesn't care about the small things, or I just think I can fix it all.  If he knows how many hairs are on my head, I think he probably cares enough to help with every detail of my life, if its in his will.   

So that's what we prayed for, I sent Noah off to class, proud of the child he is and his new found awareness of prayer!  I put my big girl pants on and called the hospital.  While I was waiting for a call back from the hospital, my doctor's office called to let me know that my doctor had ended up calling too to see if the local hospital could do my weekly testing (I'm thinking he saw the look of fear on my face and wasn't exactly sure I would follow through!)  God answered a prayer, they can do my weekly tests, and they can see me at 4:00.  I was so excited that I went and found Noah at lunch to let him know that his prayer was perfect and that God had answered it...he was also very excited!  

"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-4

I was so stressed out about how "I" was going to solve this dilemma, I was forgetting to ask the One who has lead us through every valley and helped us climb back up the mountain.  It took my 6 year old to open my eyes and remind me I don't have to solve it all myself.  I am so grateful God gave me Noah!



Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Red Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A prego brain on overdrive :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hope


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

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

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

So your here's your Hope...

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

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

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

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

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

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

and my favorite

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


Prayers, Praise and Pink
~ Carly