Accepting I am a Weirdo Recovering Cancer Mom

10.24.2017

Today I was shopping in Aldi and a woman was apparently observing me and how I shop. She said, "You know just what you want and you just grab it and put it in your cart! Here I am just moseying along through the aisles not knowing what I want." I laughed and made some funny joke about having 2 boys that eat through the house and never having enough food in the house!

Now, when she said this I didn't think much of it, but I realized that I do know what I want and I am very purposeful in how I shop and what I choose these days. 

When she said this to me I happened to be on the end cap of the organic produce section at Aldi and this week there was seemingly more to choose from than others. I was grabbing all the organic produce that made reasonable sense for our family and budget. As I was checking out, I looked down and was so grateful for this store and the ever increasing "Simply Nature" organic items they seem to carry. 

You see, I am learning to accept that I am in fact a weirdo recovering cancer mom that can't go back to that other me who didn't care before cancer. 

I admit that I used to never care about if food was organic or not. I didn't really think it mattered very much. 

But then I looked at the state of my health dealing with Ulcerative Colitis in my young 20s and later having a child with cancer, a husband with ongoing asthma and digestive issues and I realized that through all of that I did decide it mattered and that I had to fight to get healthier and cleaner products and food into my home. This is something I am truly passionate about and it's shaped how I shop and even stepping into the consultant role with Beautycounter.  

We are far from perfect in this, but it was a priority I realized that I wanted to put more of our money towards. My kids still eat too much junk and it's a never ending fight to try to reduce their sugar intake from the world, but we all have to do the best we can and still try and live a normal happy and balanced life. 

Grocery shopping is just a tiny thing in the week that we all have patterns and ways we go about it. It really isn't something I stop to think much about until a stranger seems to recognize that "I know what I am doing" (even though I very much do not!). I just try to stock up on organic produce as cheap as possible and act like a kid in a candy shop when doing it! 

Looking at my cart, I found myself thinking, maybe buying organic is a hoax and it doesn't really matter at all. Maybe it truly doesn't. But then I found myself thinking about pesticides and them being spayed all over crops these days and you know, maybe I just won't take that chance as a recovering cancer mom? 

p.s. I know it's been forever since I posted on this blog and maybe a nice little family update would be good, but I just had the urge to write and maybe, just maybe I am realizing I need to make that time in this world and not worry about the order of things so much, but here's a family photo that the talented Charlie Mather took of us, that I should probably post a little more soon... in a year... when I feel like it.... hahaha
Judah is doing great and we had a clear 1 year post transplant biopsy and we celebrated his first Day 0 Re-birthday and truly we could not do anything else than to give God all the glory and thank him daily for the breath in our lungs and the life in our children! Thank you Jesus for your healing on our family! 

Almost Out

1.07.2017

It's late and quiet and I'm a night owl, so I tend to do a lot of thinking at this time when the littles are in bed. I'm pausing and thinking about where we are right now and where we just came from. We are almost out of the tunnel. The light is getting brighter in this season and soon we will bolt out into the sunshine free.

There have been very distinct moments where I felt like a wounded soldier limping out from the battlefield, going through any cancer will do that to you whether you are the patient or the mom of the patient. Moments when I cried over and over to God, asking him to protect and preserve the life of my sweet 2 year old son. And even now as we near almost the end of 100 days post bone marrow transplant, there's that quiet terrible whisper asking me, "Will God be good again THIS TIME?" Even though, I quickly say to my soul, "YES! He will be good THIS time and EVERY time!" Oh, how good he has been to this little boy and to us! Judah has his 90 day bone marrow biopsy this coming week and we are praying for clear results and 100% donor cells so he can finally go home, so that all 4 of us can go home, so that this whole back and forth, time split when we can't all be together time will end. I feel like in many ways my life is in limbo and yet at the same time, like God has used this time to mold me more into who he wants me to be.

God's opened a passion in my heart for healthy living and I can honestly say there isn't a more perfect place than Mount Pleasant, SC for that to start. My joke when I first got here was, "Where is everybody running to!?"

It's hard to put a finger on exactly how God is changing me, but I can feel it deep inside. A newness  of life is there springing up from the caked dry hard ground of my heart. I was so tired and rundown and complacent in life before and now I cannot help but feel as if God brought us through so much! There is NOTHING he cannot do! This time has helped me to stop and DREAM again, to pray and seek God to lead us to where he wants us!

I'm honestly excited about routine and life at home and running our businesses. God is good and I'm grateful for all of you and how you walked with us through this and while there is so much recovering and healing to yet go through, I cannot help but stop and look and see how far God has brought us. Praise Him for that, friends! Praise Him!
Happy 2017 to you all! 

Love,
The Traylors

Hospital Life and Judah Update: Week 1

8.19.2016


I sat in my favorite hammock chair pouring my heart and tears out to the Lord. Today was the day we were beginning our hospital life helping Judah fight 2 different forms of leukemia before his bone marrow transplant. I remembered how the very first time I walked into the clinic holding my 6 week old beautiful blue baby bundle, there was a guy that Hart knew from college. He fought leukemia as a child and was back for his yearly check-up. He had just had a baby boy. Something most cancer patients know just won't ever happen for them.

I remember at that moment the Lord whispering to my heart, I can do all things. See, what good I can do.

In my trembling fear gazing at my newborn, I wondered, "Was this foreshadowing things to come?" If so, God was telling me that He had it. Nothing is impossible for him.

I sit tonight after our first week of chemotherapy admitted in the hospital in awestruck wonder of God's goodness. I know it will get harder. This is just the first week of 5, but truly I feel so utterly blessed. There were tons of hard moments this week. We had to go back to surgery 2 days after to replace a central line that Judah had pulled out. We had to fight Judah to get oral meds into him. Chasing a toddler around hooked to a sensitive IV line and heavy pole that constantly was getting caught on things and wasn't long enough to keep up with how fast he was moving was EXHAUSTING. There were moments of intense frustration and little sleep. But there was SO so SO much good that all I can do is praise the LORD!

Walking into this week, I had the pleasure of being able to worship at church one last time for awhile and the song, "Christ be all around me" by All Sons and Daughters and it was one of those moments where I had to lift my hands and everything in me said, "YES! This is what I need." Christ before me, Christ behind me, above and below me. All around me.

And He has been. He has covered Judah like a shield. He has allowed Judah to be remarkably unphased by chemo thus far and I'm so grateful for this so very tiring week.

We had the body of Christ visibly around us in friends bringing meals to the hospital (SUCH a help!!!), sending us encouragement in many forms (texts, chocolate, links to songs, small gifts for me and the boys, financial giving, visits), having family help out, and the hospital staff here at Palmetto Richland has been so fun and positive, and helpful! It's really been amazing!
 

God is with us! He is before us and paving the way of complete healing for Judah!

Thank you for continued support and prayers! Because of you, we are being held up and sustained! 

Stunned by His Faithfulness

7.06.2016

I was hot and flustered trying to put Judah's carseat into the van in the middle of July. She scared me as she said my name which I barely heard over the music and thinking about how I was going to wrangle my wild child into his carseat. It was my neighbor and she wanted me to come over to her driveway to give me something.

I was on my way out to drop the boys off at a friend's so I could go show houses and running a bit behind schedule.

As I pulled into the drive way, she came out with a small rectangular piece of paper in her hand. As she got closer, she held it out to me and said, we just wanted you to have this. Get that baby well.

It was a check for $1,000.

I was stunned. 

We love these neighbors so much. They are like my kid's 3rd set of grandparents. They have watched my kids run around barefoot to pick blueberries in the back yard and have seen my little daredevil's tricks on the trampoline over and over again. They have given popsicles over the fence and taken them when this frazzled mama just needed a couple hours to clean the house. They have gotten mail and fed our dog when we were out of town.They have been sweet family right next door for the last 7 years, but I didn't expect this.

In all honestly, I didn't expect any of this.

Some 20-something year old man halfway across the world giving my baby a chance at new life. A neighbor handing me a check for too much money to go towards all the added expenses coming up.

And suddenly, I see right up close that God sees my heart and knows my fears and wants to show me He is bigger. When I pray and ask God to be CLOSE; He is. He gives and provides and uses His people for His glory and leaves me speechless, because I am too used to the mundane to see this God that is able to move mountains. So he proves it to me as he stuns me out of complacency. He is the giver of life, of new life, of needed things to help relieve stress and mostly, he is my God the One who also had me read this passage this morning before all this happened and as I reflected on it again this evening, I can't help, but see this verse jump out before me.

"The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness." Isaiah 38:19 

If you would like to find out more about Judah's health updates check out his FB page! If you would like to know more about his giving, go here!

Be Near

7.02.2016

This trial is different. I have a confidence going forward. I know it will only be a season. Trials don't last forever. I can trust God. All things I tell myself all day long.

I know this, but it doesn't stop the heaviness that can fall upon you in an instant.

I spent the majority of the day reading a book. The first book I have read in a long time. Once I get into a book, I have trouble putting it down. I'm just like my Gramie that way.

I had no anxiety or worry really floating around in my mind. I was just trying to finish my book between episodes of my children bursting through my bedroom door.

Then suddenly it was there. What was that? Why did it suddenly come on me? Where is this coming from? 

I felt the weight of it. All of a sudden I wasn't normal. All of a sudden I didn't want this life with a child diagnosed with pre-leukemia. I wasn't like everyone else. I was alone.

The darkness enveloped me and I tried pushing it away to no avail.

Kissing the boys goodbye, I grabbed my car keys and went to meet a friend. I admitted the haunting heaviness that I was carrying. I didn't want it. I wanted to be light and free and not heavy laden.

Why was my life full of trials? Why me, Lord? 

In the 7 years we have been married, we have experienced what many don't experience in a lifetime. One year of newlywed bliss, then a little one surprisingly coming 9 months later. Financial burdens, cars without A/C in SC heat, one car family, past health trials, struggles through fostering while simultaneously growing life inside of me. Second son born, then hospital life and a diagnosis we thought was the end.

It's felt like one string after another, yet there has always been joy and blessing in the middle of it all. All of it has melded our family together and closer to the Lord, even when he has felt distant.

I finished my book and grabbed my journal. I knew what was wrong.

"Lord, I want to know you CLOSE in the midst of this trial with Judah's health. I don't want to question what you are doing or why. I just want you to be near to me. I don't want to be complacent. I want to be moved by your spirit & love you deep. Please don't be distant. Let me know more of you. Help me to hunger for you, Lord, to feast in your Word. Draw me in Lord & cradle me now. I need you Lord. Be near." 

I was tempted to put it aside and turn off the light. But, I grabbed my Bible instead. I flipped it open to the Psalms and read exactly what I saw first. Psalm 73.

This Psalm starts out by saying, "Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." 

That was it. I was envious. I wanted normal. I wanted to not be the mom of the child that would die if we didn't go through a bone marrow transplant. I wanted to be able to have an easy life, free of trial and coast right on through, enjoying whatever riches we could achieve and live right on however we desired.

Without Jesus. My feet had almost stumbled.

God brought me to this exact Psalm to show me what that life would be like apart from him. It was not worth being envious over. Their life seems easy and best, but it brings death. There is no pain and everything appears to be perfect. They are normal. Nothing appears to be wrong on the surface. But it is far from desirable.

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory." v. 24 

"Oh, Lord, you are holding my right hand. Even now reading this exact passage. You led me here. You are guiding me with your counsel. Thank you, Lord!" 

"Whom have I in heaven, but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you." v. 25

Straight up conviction like an arrow to my heart. I wrote in my journal, "...there is nothing on earth I desire besides YOU."

How I fall short of this! Forgive me Lord! Be in front of me. Let me desire only you on this Earth.

Only Jesus.

I can't be normal, because God loves me. He wants me near and He wants me to inherit more than anything on this Earth could give. He wants to give me himself.

Heaviness gone. God was near right now leading me to himself.

"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." Psalm 73:28

God is promising to be near to me. That is where it is good. He is my refuge. And I have to make it that way. All this is happening in my life, so that I may tell of all His works!

Who am I to doubt that? 
Stephanie Middaugh @stephmiddaugh Instagram photos | Websta:
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