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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 3

Before 7am, God taught me a lesson.

We took off this morning at 6am, like normal, but this morning someone wanted a biscuit from Hardee's so we stopped. I ran in to use the bathroom and then hopped in line to get another cup of coffee...no such thing as too much coffee on this trip!

While we were waiting in line, I mistook a girl in line behind us for someone we met yesterday at the school. She was with her mom and her brother, and as we continued talking to them and about our trip, the son told us how he had changed his life around. How he had been saved in January, and it was a good thing because six months later, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He and his mom talked about surgeries and treatment and how his cancer had come back, and more treatments and now he was doing great....

I couldn't breathe...

I fell apart for a second, I couldn't look at him and some jealous thoughts ran through my brain. I turned towards Richard and just started crying, thankfully Pastor Mike and Liesa were standing right there to carry on that conversation.  I pulled it back together, and was gonna just walk away with my coffee, but God said "no" and turned me around to share about Ellie with this complete stranger. I told her how happy I was for them and how awesome it was that God knew exactly what her son needed to fight that battle with cancer. The mom and I continued on to have a sweet conversation about how we wouldn't change a thing about our journeys and how grateful we were that God had our children's future in his hands. We left, and they were on their way to the doctor for more check ups.  I was grateful to God for opening up my heart to hear what I needed to hear. The grief journey is one that you can easily cover up with a happy face, put the wall up and just keep trucking on. Pretending and sometimes really believing that all is okay. Living with that wall up and happy face, sometimes makes me numb though to life's experiences.  Things that others would probably love to revel in for hours, I tend to try to rush through because the emotion is just too much....and I don't always realize I do it. God totally knocked my walls down this morning, to wake me up and realize there was so much emotion going on in what I was doing in Kentucky and I needed to slow down and experience it.



Our school that day was quick, we were having to move quick, talk quick, hand out boxes quick...and I was grateful for a moment that I got to steal away and go visit some of the special needs classrooms. Such a change of scenery from the loud gym with music blasting!  Smaller classrooms with sweet kids working hard...and a little music playing! I may have whipped and nay nayed and sang some Elsa 😉

During our group of 5th graders, I went and sat with some of the "wigglier" boys...thinking that's where I was meant to sit, God was putting me there for those boys! As I sat there, the girls in front of me were talking, and I heard one say she was scared. I scooted down to talk to her and to figure out what she was afraid of. She told me she wanted to ask for prayer, but she was scared to raise her hand.  So I told her she could tell me and I'd make sure I wrote it down for her so the group could pray for her. She told me her mom and dad were both in prison and she was living with her older sister. She didn't know when they were getting out or how long they were staying with her sister.

As Pastor Mike went to pray, I placed my hand on her shoulder, and prayed for her.  I wanted her to feel that love I feel all the time from my church family. When Pastor Mike asked if any of the kids would like to accept Jesus into their hearts, I felt her arm move, I peeked, and there was her hand lifted high. I couldn't help but cry and be completely humbled that he choose me for that moment. That God has helped me come completely out of my comfort zone and share Him!  When they were done praying, she turned to look at me and the relief and peace on that girl's face was amazing!

Back at Calvary Campus, after dinner each night, we have a time of sharing.  We had two teams with us, so we don't always know what happens with the other team.  After having my walls knocked down by God early in the morning, my heart was raw with emotion, and ready to open up a little bit more to this group of people I'd been with all week.  So for the first time, I shared out loud to the whole group about Ellie, some knew, but many didn't. I told them about the brain cancer boy at Hardee's and how God just completely broke me that morning to be open hearted. To be so in tune with him for the day, and that's how I heard him tell me to place my head on that girl's shoulder to pray with her.

After devotion time, a new team member that had just joined us that day came up to me with his daughter (who gave the most incredible hugs).  He and his work had sent care packages to us when Ellie was first diagnosed.  Our family picture is still on their refrigerator.  Had I not shared that night, he wouldn't have figured out who we were, and that sweet moment would have been missed,  talk about incredibly broken roads!  His daughter was so sweet and I think had radar for my tears...for the next day, she found me every time I was crying and had an amazing hug for me!


Today I learned about obedience....today I was obedient and was able to see the reward of my obedience....but I also had a tad bit of a gut check when thinking about all those times I was not obedient, those times I heard God tell me to do something and I ignored him because I didn't want to feel weird or go out of my way.  How many moments and blessings I have missed because I wasn't obedient?  I'm grateful for today's lesson....had I not learned this today....I may have missed out on meeting the one girl I came to Kentucky for, the next day.


Prayers, Praise and Pink
~Carly

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