The Blaines

The Blaines
For more information about current fundraisers and walks, please click on the picture!

Buggin' For a Cure

Buggin' For a Cure
Learn more about Noah's fundraising goals for 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our Graduate

I looked back at last year's post around this time. I was feeling some stuff that I was almost certain I'd felt last year, and sure enough, there it was. The tough feelings associated with my birthday and mother's day. I wasn't overwhelmed with tears or despair....just kind of that numb feeling that I associate with holidays or important events. I love watching my kids and family enjoy them, but there's just a part of me that can't all the way be there.

This past weekend added another pretty exciting and emotional event for our family. Richard graduated from Liberty University on Saturday!  In April, after Ellie passed away, Richard felt like God was calling him to do something more, he wasn't sure what, but he knew there was more. So he enrolled at Liberty and decided to take all online classes.  With the help of our Preacher, Richard choose a major that he felt could lead to many different paths. For the past 2.5 years Richard has worked so hard, staying up late, doing his Old Navy job, his Daddy job and then his school work. He graduated with honors and I couldn't be more proud!  He would never toot his horn and a lot of people didn't even know he was graduating!

He decided he wanted to walk at graduation, so we set off on our graduation adventure on Saturday.

We only took Noah, since the predicted attendance was over 50,000 people due to President Trump being the Keynote Speaker.  After over an hour of graduates walking into the stadium...I finally spotted my guy! Can you find him?? (Hint he's waving and has no hat on!)
This was the first time that many emotions (besides anxiety) started welling up inside. I wanted to cry, but I'm so good at pushing those feelings aside! We listened to Trump and thought it was pretty cool to hear our President talking about the need of following God and not being afraid to be different! I hope Noah was listening!

We left the massive stadium and headed to his smaller ceremony with just his college.  This was where we would see him walk across the stage and hear his name.  I felt tears about 2 seconds away the entire time I waited for his turn.  I was just so overwhelmed with pride and amazement.  I couldn't help but feel like Richard going to school, had something to do with Ellie's passing, and to see this schooling completed just did something to me.
I finally cracked, as he stood there waiting for his name to be called, I lost it. I tried to holler for him when they called his name, but I was crying (thank goodness for family that can yell loud!)

I was so glad we went!  It was so touching to see the men and women that went to school online, who worked so hard through jobs and kids and grandkids. I got to watch husbands and wives graduate together, a little girl get carried by her daddy across the stage, and hear kids yelling "go mommy" from the crowd, what a touching day!  I realize how easy I had it going to school "way back then" and how extra hard these folks have worked!

We have no idea what the next step is in our lives, or what this degree will be used for, but this part is done, and Richard was obedient, I have full confidence that God has the next steps all planned out! Now we wait....some more....I'm getting so much better at waiting!

I promise I haven't forgotten about the rest of our mission trip. Day 3 and 4 are pretty special, and we get to share at our church this upcoming Sunday night about our trip....so I'm saving those stories for that night, and then I will share them on here.  You could always come and listen in person if you'd like! Zion Baptist Church, Orange VA, 6:30pm.

"Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day." Psalm 25:5

Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 2

4/12/17
Today was filled with ups and downs and I think for a minute I felt defeated, maybe even felt a little like Jesus must have felt when people mocked him or didn't believe in him (not that anyone made fun of us or put a crown of thorns on our heads). Yesterday was amazing and today didn't necessarily compare. Today's school seemed sad, something was just "off" without a better way to explain it. Thankfully we have a team of really awesome people, who recognize the "elephant in the room" as one pastor stated today and immediately there were prayers said to kick the devil out of that building and teams setting out to walk and pray around the building.  On my walk around the building, I just didn't see much joy or many smiles.  We got a chance to speak with the resource officer in that school (which is not a police officer...for my VA people!)  She shared so many of the struggles in that school and in her own personal life.  We spent time listening and praying with her, and found out they were collecting prom dresses for their students, because if the girls don't have dresses, they won't come.

Guess what we had hundreds of....prom dresses...but they were back at Calvary Campus...back across 2 mountains. So the next day, we drove back over those mountains and brought they boxes of dresses! (sorry I totally just jumped ahead to day 3...but it fit here!)


(Back to day 2) Don't get me wrong, there were sweet moments in that building today.

And I'm pretty sure I forgot to thank God for them, because like life, I got caught up in the details....like "these kids aren't excited by us" or "the teachers aren't coming in" instead of the big picture of what was going on.  We were still in a public school, teaching about Jesus...we didn't have to be across the street, we were in their building.  We were planters today.  We planted seeds. We spoke Jesus' name, and though many may not have responded to us, they knew who He was.  I'd really like to peek in that school right now and see if there's any type of atmosphere change, and even more interested to head back next year and see the difference.

Looking back on this day, God was teaching me a lesson, and once you hear about day 3 and 4 its amazing to see how God planned this all out, not me. He was reminding me it's on His timing and sometimes, we just have to wait for what He has in store. When I left for Kentucky, I knew God was gonna have "a moment" just for me, when I was gonna know this is exactly why I came, my divine appointment... but I was getting impatient. Day 1 was a blast, Day 2 ended with sweetness....but I still hadn't had my moment...didn't God want me to know why He sent me here?!?!

I say the day ended sweetly because once we got back to Calvary Campus today, and we were just hanging out in our bunk, one of the sweet ladies I had served with for the past two days asked me about the blanket I had on my bunk.
When picking a blanket to bring with me, I couldn't think of sweeter one then my Ellie shirt blanket, the one my mom and I worked on together. After Ellie passed away, I didn't know what to do with all her favorite shirts.  Mom helped me pick out shirts and pillow cases, let me cut shirts myself and organize them.  Then she worked so hard to sew them all together for me.
That one question about my blanket that afternoon, led to an hour conversation about what brought us to Kentucky and all God had done in our lives. I selfishly love talking about Ellie, and I could probably talk for hours about her and the amazing things that have happened in our lives since cancer, but I'm starting to enjoy more and more bragging on what God has worked out for us. By the end of our chat, we were all in tears, goofy grinning and everyone had Buggin' for a Cure bracelets. This was the first time I cried since I had been in Kentucky....little did I know, God was about to open the flood gates in a big way the next morning, in Hardee's.


***So this wasn't straight journal, I really didn't write a lot about that day, I was tired and a little bummed.  Now that I've had time to look back and reflect upon what was going on that day, I get it. I get that it's not always going to be perfect (in my eyes), but its always gonna be God led, even if we were at that school for just one kid, it was worth it!***

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 1

April 11th, 5am
I'm kinda in shock at the "jump in" and help attitude here. I was so worried about coffee (of course) and there were already pots rolling at 4:55 when I crawled down the steps this morning! I'm the kind of girl who needs coffee to get moving, even just smelling it helps, so its a necessity.  I even tell the kids at home, mommy hasn't had coffee yet, give me a minute.

Last night when we got here, we just started doing. There wasn't any time wasted making sure tables were set up, boxes were unpacked, dinner started and things organized. There is such a sweet spirit that resides here in this 1914 school building we are staying in on Calvary Campus.

I gotta admit I'm nervous going into today, I've never done anything like this before, but as I start to write, and find this verse at the bottom of the page....I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be this week!
10pm
Today was the first time I've ever seen a desire to know Jesus in a child's eyes.  What an incredible moment to see a child know in their hearts they want Jesus. As the kids entered the gym and butterflies fluttered in my stomach, I was immediately drawn to a little girl. As we were being silly together, I learned she had the same name as me, spelled the same and everything! I made sure she was in my small group so I could continue to love on her. Turns out her mom is in jail and she asked me to please pray for her.  After hearing the story of Jesus and Easter, she decided to ask Jesus into her heart and I got to pray that special prayer with her.  Talk about being humbled before the Lord.

The day was full of awesome kids in and out of our gym. I guess it was the school employee in me, but I always seemed to look for the squirlier group of kids to sit with, the ones that might need "the look" to sit still. I was so thankful for 10 years of working in a school to help me out today!

I got to watch Richard be so incredibly excited at what he was doing, my heart just swelled.


We were invited to lunch in the cafeteria, it was Papa John's pizza day!  As we stood in line, and got cut in front of a few hundred times, it was so much fun to talk more with the kids.  We were like the celebrities in the building!  Once we finally gto through the line and sat to eat, the kids continued to run over to us and hug on us...again the school employee in me was like "oh their teachers are gonna be mad" but they weren't, I think they understood how important our visit was and just let those little people keep on hugging!


While in the cafeteria, I took my phone out to take a picture, one little girl saw Ellie's picture on my phone, and she asked me who that was. I told her about Ellie and about how much God loved her that he took her straight to heaven. That God can do the same for us, when we ask for forgiveness, admit we are sinners, and ask Jesus in our hearts. She smiled so sweet, like she completely understood everything I was saying, and then hugged me. 

After lunch we had this little guy, who after we told him about Jesus and what God did on the cross with Jesus, had the sweetest smile on his face, he was glowing.  I was so grateful to plant that seed in his heart, to give him a bible, and to continue to pray for him and his family.

The rest of the day was filled with love, dancing, and Jesus.  This all feels so right.  Giving these children Hope and explaining Jesus to them.....and a whole lot of dancing!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Getting Ready to Shine

Ellie's birthday has come and gone, and we are now three days away from delivering Ellie's birthday gifts!

This year for Ellie's birthday we partnered with a group called Hope for Appalachia (HFA). I heard about them last year on a local radio station, and was able to donate some things at the last minute. This year, I knew they were the organization I wanted to support for Ellie's birthday!  HFA creates something called Hope Boxes for the students in Eastern Kentucky, one of the poorest communities in our country. Inside these boxes are personal care items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, school supplies, little toys, socks and treats. The boxes also contain a ton of love, as thousands are created by people from all over.  Each year HFA travels during the Easter season to Kentucky to deliver these boxes to children and present the gospel message, and they do that through the school system!

Last year, when I learned about them, I started to follow their FaceBook Page.  I became a little obsessed the week they were in Kentucky, one of my students was on the trip as well, and I would anxiously await their posts and pictures. I wanted to be there so bad! So as I prepared to make contact about making Hope Boxes for Ellie's Big Give, I saw they had the 2017 trip dates posted...and sure enough, it was on Spring Break! As excited as I was that God was opening these doors, I was a nervous wreck about trying something new!

We reached out, learned about what goes in a Hope Box and started planning (yes I was so excited for this part!) We set a goal of 120 boxes and we began collecting items and was not let down by the amount of people that became involved!  Donations quickly began rolling in and once again the mail lady and UPS man visited us almost daily!
We began living in the clearance racks of Target....ok, who am I kidding...I live there anyway....scoping out toys small enough for the boxes. The dollar store became a weekly event!
I even got some of my students in on the action as I taught about acts of kindness during the month of December!  They worked to created these sweet little rocks and canvases for us to add into our Hope Boxes.


As we do every year, we gathered for Ellie's Birthday Party, to celebrate her amazing 1061 days and to give back!  There wasn't any snow this year (which I gotta admit, had me a little bummed out) but there was and always is an amazing amount of love!  Our friends and family were amazing and quickly packed all 120 boxes!


We let the littles in on the action too, although I think the big kids enjoyed this part just as much!  Ellie loved stickers! So in her honor we stickered every box we made!



Realizing this is the fourth time we've done Ellie's party, I love that there are some traditions that have started, that I think if she were here, she would adore! Her balloons were beautiful (once mommy got over the fact they weren't the typical pink balloons....change is good, change is good!) and were so much fun to watch twinkling in the sky. 




We sang "This Little Light of Mine" and ate cake!


I sat in awe of this new normal. Of my amazing children who were so excited to celebrate their sister's birthday. Grateful for my family who come to a birthday party and work for a few hours. Amazed at the loving community that surrounds us, and no matter what we do, they support us. 

When all was said and done, we created 165 Hope Boxes that Richard and I will be delivering in just a few short days!

This is what it's about. This is what life should be all about.  Giving our time, our energy, our efforts to help others.  As I watched toys and snacks go into these boxes, I thought about the kids that would open them, I thought about the teachers that would see their students experiencing this event and I was moved!  This is the fourth Big Give we've done, but this is the first time I will get to see first hand the fruits of what we have done. 


All next week, myself, Richard and about 80 other missionaries will be in Kentucky delivering these Hope Boxes and teaching about the amazing love of Jesus.  I've taught children's church, Sunday School, Awana, even spoke in my church, which I know God orchestrated to prepare me for this upcoming week, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  But it's a different nervous then I'm used to....its like a calm nervous (oxymoron...right!). I'm not completely freaked out, even though there's nothing packed and about 10 loads of laundry to do.  It's almost like my brain says "be nervous because that's what you do" and my heart says "you got this, God planned this trip, not you!"

I'm asking for prayer this upcoming week. Prayers that God will protect us as we travel and open the doors to each school we visit.  Prayers that God will prepare the children and staff to hear about how much God loves them. Prayers for my health, I had the flu and pneumonia last week and while I'm feeling better, the allergies have attacked me big these past few days.  Prayers specifically for myself, that I would get out of the way, my own doubts, fears and insecurities would be erased and I would remember that God just wants me to share His love and I know a ton about that!

I cannot wait for that moment (that I know if going to happen) when I watch a child open a box that we have made. When I see the joy on their face. When I get to share what God has done in my life with someone, when I get to use my story of my Ellie to explain heaven.  I cannot wait for my divine appointment to serve these children!

One last little bit of honey for you from my week.  One of my students walked in my office and saw these letters on my table that had been taken down off a bulletin board. 

She got excited and yelled "Mrs. Blaine, that's my favorite song! Will you walk me to class?" We often walk together, so I said of course and told her that was my favorite song too.  As we started off down the hall she started singing (which she often does) "this little light of mine.....Mrs. Blaine, sing with me!"  So down the hall we went singing our favorite song!  I knew that was a moment given to me by God to remind me that next week, He's gonna shine all over Kentucky, in those childrens' schools and I get to be one of the lucky ones to share that!

I'm not sure what kind of service we will have in the mountains, but I will do my best to update on Ellie's Big Give's FaceBook page how the trip is going!  I also will have a journal with me because I know God is gonna use this trip to do amazing things!

~Prayers, Praise and Pink
Carly

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Joy

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, wonders of His love.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing
I can listen to Christmas music in waves. I haven't for a couple days, besides listening to Lulah sing "Frosty da snow mam" and SG's occasional belting of "Away In a Manger." This morning I found myself humming Joy to the World quite often, and when I finally turned the Christmas music back on...guess what was playing!?! God's so good like that!

Why Joy to the World? Before going into another December 22nd, (the day Ellie's soul left this earth to spend eternity with Jesus) I remembered last year, I blogged to myself about how last December 22nd went. So I went back and read, trying to prepare myself for the 3rd anniversary of Ellie's death.  As I read about the emotions attached to that day, I was happy that I titled it Choose Joy.  A word used to describe our savior's entrance into the world, I was using to describe my emotional state.  

Once again the days leading up to 22nd, weren't the easiest, I became very aware that she's been gone, longer than she was here on earth. Feeling weird that life has moved on, maybe even a little guilty.  A couple days I couldn't take it and had to find a place to cry in peace...which is kinda hard to do in a school with 600 kids!  However, as the Christmas break got closer and ironically the anniversary of Ellie's death, more and more peace came over me. So on the 22nd, when I wasn't sure what to expect when I woke up, I felt joy. 

We were all together, we were all lazy, we were all smiling. We visited the cemetery, put up Ellie's tree and watched my crazies run up and down, falling all over each other. I sat there in "Ellie's spot" as SG calls it and smiled. 

I don't know what we will do if this space ever fills up! We all enjoy it so much! 

With no real plan...yes, you read right, I had no plan for the day and I was totally okay with that...we headed to find some lunch.  We ate lunch and were blessed to have our meal paid for by someone else, who probably had no clue what this day meant to us, but it was just another little gift from God on this joyous day. We took off to the pet store and I fell in love with this cute little dwarf hamster, with adorably chubby cheeks, and I may have mentioned I wanted him (well the kids really liked it and I wouldn't have objected if Richard said yes...but in the back of my head I was flashing back to high school when we owned one and the cleaning of that cage!) Lulah attempted to go fishing in one of the tanks and SG made friends with all the cats.  Then a random stroll through target for nothing in particular...and Starbucks.  As I walked out of Target, yummy coffee in hand, the sun was setting and the sky was pink...and I couldn't breathe for a second.  While I was aware all day of what "this day" was, it didn't really feel sad.  That pink sky was my gut check....yep, it still hurts, the sun is setting and the happy feelings of the day were disappearing with the sun.   I wanted to go home, but I didn't want to...since our kids hadn't napped all day, and were finally asleep in the van, we headed home...watching the pink sky fade away.  Finally crying on this day filled with so many happy and horrible memories, I looked up to see a Princess Strong sticker on the back of the car in front of us. I had no idea who it was at the time, but I was praising God for putting that car there in that moment and lifting me up.  No she's not here, but she lives on in so many people's hearts!

Finally home, Richard took at the kids in the basement....with a box of paint.  I asked no questions and just enjoyed the next hour or so of peace and quiet, watching a kiddy movie. I made dinner...
Yes...I did win coolest mom ever award....since it was 8:30, I figured ice cream for dinner was a very smart option...although SG reminded me she does not like ice cream...Lulah ate hers.

To bed they all went, and the house was quiet again.  I told Richard, today felt weird, but good. I enjoyed my day, and I hope that we will always be able to be off from work together, to do whatever this day holds. I keep thinking there has to be a "thing" we always do on this day....but there I go again making a plan. I thought I wanted us all inside the house, with no interruptions, but turns out we all needed to be out, being silly, doing things without a real plan and eating ice cream for dinner. I think my Ellie girl would approve. 

Again I feel joy for my daughter's life. I feel immeasurable joy for the birth of Jesus.  I am joyful that God loved me so much, he sacrificed his son for my sin. Without Jesus, without Christmas, there wouldn't be that joy I get from the promise of eternal life. 

So again this year, I choose joy.  I choose to see the pink sky and savor every minute of it, even if I know its fading fast. I choose to let the hurt in because it always reminds me of where I've been and where I'm heading. 

I pray this Christmas, you will find Joy.  *Some more drops of honey from God....as I went to take this picture of our Christmas card to share with you all...I couldn't help but shake my head and giggle...JOY...told you its been on my mind and in my heart!*

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:8-9
Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Just eat another cookie



But now...I've turned on the 3rd 4th movie of the day...I'm pretty sure that exceeds that whole "1 hour a day screen time" suggested by the doctor!  We have baked, cooked, successfully made a mess, eaten, sent daddy off to work, napped, and now.....what?  Don't feel like cleaning (well I never do), I need to finish up some school work...I should probably get these kids something to eat since we ate so early...or they could just eat cookies! I can't even get my act together to type this....maybe its just time to snuggle....

ok tried that too, its not working, so I threw some chicken nuggets in the toaster oven and we are gonna call it a day...is that wrong to feed your kids chicken nuggets, on thanksgiving??  This is just the brutal truth of grief on a holiday. It's like for a few hours, we lived in this little fairy tale world, where all our family was home, we ate the typical thanksgiving meal...without any yelling!!!

Don't tell Noah I posted a pic with his glasses...he's trying to keep them a surprise!
We all smiled and helped each other out and we were sweet....and now, we are back to reality...no Daddy, its dark out and I have no more happy.

My hole is empty, nothing is filling it, except memories of thanksgiving 2013, when in my parent's basement Ellie got upset because the room was "spinny" and she wanted to crawl up on the couch. That's when life got "real".  We were told she was dying, but up until that day, we hadn't seen any evidence, she was like any other 2 year old.

I had the privilege of speaking to the local MOPS group about grief a few weeks ago.  I had never specifically spoken about grief before, so I was excited for this new territory.  It felt good to share how tough grief can be, the ups and downs, but how good God is to see you through all that. After immersing myself in all the prep for that speaking event and then speaking and talking to some awesome ladies afterwards...it took me days to recoup.  I'm always amazed at how "unprepared" I am for the big roller coaster hill that I come crashing down. I just talked about the roller coaster idea of grief and a day later, I can't cope with the emotions...easier said than done I guess.

I wouldn't have changed that opportunity for the world. We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him. however I'm not sure how often those that are suffering get to see the good being worked out of their tragedy.  I have been given the gift for the past 3 and a half years to see the good that has come out of my circumstance.

Like last year, Noah made Ellie a place card today, and her seat was right by mine, in fact I bumped her seat over because I felt lonely at my end of the table.  Its such a sweet gesture from Noah, and I hope he never stops, but man does that thought creep right up there in my hole, and apparently its not leaving today.

So what now...one of my favorite songs, has John Piper preaching in the middle of the song, and he says to "preach to yourself these truths everyday" or something to that effect. Those words rang loud to me tonight.  These truths are that God loves me, that not all days are going to be easy, in fact I'm going to suffer some days.  God provides everything I have in this life, and uses each circumstance that he has placed us in for his good and glory. And that one day, I won't hurt anymore, I won't be sad anymore because I will live in eternity with God.  After you remind yourself enough times, there's this peace that arises and you know that no matter what, you will get through today with God's help, and then you go eat another cookie.

My prayer tonight, is for those of you who also lived with your hole today.  Who also felt that empty numb feeling, I know it wasn't easy, but you aren't alone, you are loved....just let Him love you.

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us". Romans 5:3-5

Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

Thursday, August 11, 2016

If....3 years later

If Ellie never got cancer...

She would have started Kindergarten this week
My house would be even crazier with 3 girls in it
I'd still be afraid of hospitals
I wouldn't have some of the friends I have
There wouldn't be a hole in this family
My van would have 4 car seats
I wouldn't cherish God's word so much
Somewhere over the rainbow wouldn't make me cry
I wouldn't watch Rapunzel when I'm sad
I may have never seen the amazing hearts nurses have
I wouldn't be terrified anytime one of my kids gets a fever, crosses their eyes or sneezes the wrong way
Richard may not have started school
Christmas lights probably wouldn't be so exciting
My understanding of how God works all things for his glory, may not be so strong
I never would have stood in front of 500 people, talking about St. Jude
I wouldn't be taking my child to get slime poured on his head this weekend
I wouldn't be as grateful as I am for each day
There wouldn't be this blog
I would still stress the petty stuff
Empathy would just be a word I taught at school
SG wouldn't be praying for doctors to get the right medicine
My son wouldn't be good buddies with someone 40 years older than him and just raised over $18,000 for St. Jude
She'd be here
~ Carly

My mother in law shared this blog from three years ago today, titled "If"....as Noah and Lisa passed their goal of $15,001 last week and are marching on towards his new goal of $19,001 (which he is only $622 away from) I can only smile and thank God for these little reminders.  As tough as it is sometimes when we raise money, and all the memories it brings back, this blog is a reminder to me, of where God has brought my family from and what He has brought us through! Three years ago, I was on top of the world, Ellie was cancer free, heading back to St. Jude for another round of treatment.  I was going back to work, but I was so grateful to still have a job.  Soon our world would come crashing down, but it did not crush us, and without cancer, I may never have known what my faith in the Lord Jesus could do.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly