When Life Throws You Lemons

Sometimes I wonder why I have a blog if I can’t even keep up with it. Other times, I am writing often and it is a release for me. If you are reading this, know that I am super grateful you have stuck around for the past year, by far the hardest year of my life. Let’s recap shall we?

  1. On September 7th, 2013 my amazing, encouraging, inspiring brother, Benji passed away to a courageous fight with  cancer.
  2. In March of 2014, we got chosen for an adoption. Our beautiful joy was born on March 17th. 3 days later the birth mother backed out. Yes, we have yet to clean out the nursery.
  3. In May of 2014, we were contacted by a sweet, courageous, loving friend who wanted to place her baby up for adoption with us. It still wasn’t God’s timing and the birth mother had a miscarriage a few weeks after telling us.
  4. Last month, I went to the ER with severe stomach pains. They assumed it was my gallbladder and found nothing. They sent me to a specialist who, after doing a colonoscopy and EGD, determined I have Celiac Disease.

Needless to say, life has really thrown our sweet family some serious lemons. There are days where I throw my hands in the air and just cry because I am not sure what else to do. People say “God only gives you what you can handle”.. I don’t think that is necessarily accurate, one of these events would be plenty, but not all 4. I can’t handle them. I break down, I cry, I yell, I scream. It’s not fair.

But…

There is always good when there is bad. There is no hope without pain. There is no sunshine without rain. There might not be a reason or a purpose for bad things to happen to me, or if you are facing trials now you might not know why. And you may never know why. BUT, without trials you would have no strength.

I have two choices, I can let these heartbreaking and life changing events ruin me or build me. I can focus on how horrible my life is, that I am cursed, that the pain just doesn’t stop, etc etc etc. Or I can focus on the fact that I have an incredible family, I have an amazing job, I have a house, a yard, a sweet dog. I have nieces and nephews who I adore and I think adore me.

So what is my focus for the next little while? Well, we are going to work on us. We both got part time jobs to be 100% debt free, I am really focusing on my disease and losing weight and am feeling so much better. We are both getting more and more involved in our church and I am loving my new friends that I am making.

Is life easy now? No. Do I still get upset over those events that happened, every single day. I still cry every day, it hurts so much and I don’t think the pain will truly go away. But, my brother told me when he first got diagnosed with cancer that I need to still live my life and push on. And that is exactly what I am trying to do. Will we hit road bumps? Of course. But we are pursuing a goal and a dream. And we will get there, even if it takes us longer than we had imagined. Life is funny like that.

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

XOXO,

Erica

Hope

Sometimes when life is SO hard, you know when you feel like you have nothing left to look forward to, no light at the end of the tunnel, a little piece of hope appears. Oftentimes we are too afraid to realize it, or to hurt to notice it. But it does happen and it does come.

This past year has, by far, been the worst year of my young life so far. I lost my brother, my idol, some one who I admired with ever ounce of my soul. Someone I longed to be like. I lost him to a horrific disease. I watched his healthy body turn into that of an old skinny man. And it hurts. My heart literally hurts. I have never felt such pain before in my life. They say time heals all wounds, that is not true, the pain hurts more now than it did when he passed away, time just allows you to learn to deal with the pain and depression.

When our adoption failed, I experienced similar pain. Someone told me I was grieving and I never thought about it before, but I was, I am. I am grieving a daughter that I will never be able to see again. That hurts too.

And I am not God, I don’t know why these extremely painful things have happened to me. But I do know hope and without hope I would probably be in a pysch ward… no lie. As I was speaking to my brothers wife this morning, I realized something. It just kind of clicked. The failed adoption was so painful, but it gave me hope. After losing my brother I was in a dark dark place. I had no hope, I had no future (so I thought). The adoption gave us hope again, we got excited. We planned, we laughed, we cried, we were SO happy. A pure joy and hope, something we hadn’t experienced in a while. And I think God did that in a way to show us that we can hope again and it is okay. Sounds a bit weird, but it is what it is and it helps me move on.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead.” 1 Peter 1:6

There is hope ahead. I am not sure what or where it will be. But Benji would NEVER want me to be the depressed person I have been. He would want me to see the light, see a future and hope for a better outcome and that is exactly what we are doing. Does that mean I am done grieving, um no. I still cry just about every other day and miss my brother. I miss his words, his advice, his goofy nerdy humor. I miss him and it still hurts and will always hurt me. BUT, I can see light, I can see that he is working with God and creating and amazing future for my family. I know we have can have hope for something amazing, for life, for beauty, for a will.

Listen to this song too, it is my theme song lately.

 

Okay, I am done ranting now…. I am not sure if this post even makes sense, but it feels good to write and vent out my feelings. Hopefully you understand.

XOXO,

Erica

Dear Baby Girl

Dear McKayla

After years of planning, making your nursery, setting up your crib, and getting excited, my sweetest McKayla, you were welcomed into this world on March 16th, early in the morning. I was able to lay my eyes on your beautiful face in the evening, so perfect. Your hair is full, your lips and so perfect, and you fit just right in my arms. I have never felt a love like I did the moment I laid my eyes on you. You completed me, you made us a family, you fulfilled our dreams. The next 3 days were a whirlwind, were we ready? Had we prepared everything? We were parents! You were coming home with us!

photo 2

photo 1

photo 4

photo 3

On day 3, you started to show signs of withdrawals from Heroin. Your poor little body just couldn’t take it, you experienced severe shakes, constant tremors, and you could not keep any food down. Watching your helpless body experience such a horrific thing was almost too much to bear.  You were soothed easily by your Daddys touch and you even ate an entire bottle for your mommy. We loved that. We spent every second we could with you while you were in the NICU and loved every moment of it. You are so perfect. photo[1]

After 3 days, your mother decided it was best you went home with her and chose to parent you instead. The phone call receiving the news has changed our lives. We are broken inside and feel a piece of us is missing. We never got to say goodbye to you and think about you so often. We have kept the nursery the same, it’s just to hard to cope with now.

I know you probably will never read this, but I had to say my proper goodbye. We love you, we pray for you every single day. We pray that you are given an opportunity to grow up in a good home, with a family who adores you as much as we did. I pray that you excel in everything you put your heart and mind to and never give up. Life is so hard, bad things will happen, but keep your head up and it will all be worth it in the end. We never thought we could love someone the way we loved you and we hope you feel loved for the rest of your life.

Good bye baby girl,

Erica

 

 

Oh Baby!

Hi Everyone,

Let me start from the beginning, a few years ago when we were considering adoption we got contacted by a lawyers office about a baby up for adoption and wanting to show our profile. We, of course agreed. Nothing came of it, but the office continued to keep our profile for future opportunities.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I received a call that a birth mother had LOVED our profile and wanted to meet us… What?! REALLY? We panicked, I cried, this had never happened before. I was SO nervous. It consumed me for the next week and it was all I could think about. What would I wear? So many questions were going through my mind. As Saturday came, we got dressed, nicely, and drove to our former church to have a meeting with her. At first glance, she was absolutely beautiful. Petite, long blonde hair, big beautiful blue eyes. And for the next hour we talked as if we were best friends. She is on bed rest so we talked about Netflix, we talked about my family and my story of my brother who recently passed.

3 weeks, 3 weeks of torture, constantly staring at my phone, hoping for a phone call. Nothing. I was discouraged, maybe she didn’t like us. Maybe the other family fit her story better. And then on Saturday, the 8th, I got a call “Hey Erica, the birth mom wants to meet you again”. YES! We met with her again on Sunday. Anticipating an answer, we talked again, we had breakfast, we laughed. She showed me the 3d ultrasound and the baby has beautiful full lips and her mothers big beautiful eyes. After an hour of no immediate answer, I simply asked her “How did you meeting with the other family go?” She quickly said “There is no other family, I chose you”. Before I could even think, I was bawling, absolutely bawling. Had this day finally came? YES! We were going to be parents. We all cried.

On Sunday, I received another phone call from the birth mom advocate, she said “Erica, I am concerned, the birth mom is questioning her decision in placing her up for adoption, please gather your troops and pray for her”. I hung up the phone and bawled my eyes out. WHY? Why was this happening? Some time ago my older brother Dan, told me when I miss Benji to talk to him. So that is exactly what I did. I sat in my car and cried to Benji, I told him to beg and plead with God to let our dreams come true. He told me before he passed away he was going to “make things happen”. Last night, Tuesday, the birth mom advocate called me again. The call I was dreading, she said “Erica, whatever you did worked, the birth mother said she just felt peace and knew it was the right decision”.  As I hung up the phone, I said out loud “Thank you Benji, I know that was you that made things happen” and before I even finished, his song “How he loves” came on the radio. In my eyes, that was him saying “You are welcome”.

So, there, is our story of how our dreams are finally coming true. 7 years of trying, of crying, of a ROLLER COASTER of emotions, is soon to come to an end as we welcome our beautiful daughter into our family.

Thank you for being apart of this journey with us. Of our emotions, of our change of hearts often. Just helping us, praying for us, and encouraging us to never give up on this dream.

My sweet sister set up this amazing fund to help with the court fees, adoption costs, etc. If you can donate any to help us, we would be even more grateful.

Thanks!

XOXO,

Kurt & Erica

Our Kitchen Fiasco

Hi Everyone,

Let’s start this story from the beginning. Back in November, our dishwasher took a plunge and died. We shopped around and found an amazing deal at Home Depot for a nice stainless steel dishwasher. I was in love, because I knew eventually I wanted to upgrade all of our appliances to stainless steel. The dishwasher was delivered at the end of November and everything seemed perfect.

Fast forward to about a week before Christmas, and I noticed a huge puddle in front of the dishwasher. We called Home Depot and they sent out their delivery guys to come fix the problem. Everything seemed perfect, until a week later I noticed the same puddle in front of the dishwasher, and this time the wood floring was starting to bubble.

Long story short, the water had been leaking for over a month, causing severe damage to our floors, our cabinets, and everything needed to be removed. So, this is how I am living for at least the next month.

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel

 

Kitchen Remodel

And everything is sitting in our front room for now. Can I tell you how awful it is to not have a kitchen sink? Or counter space for that matter. Its is terrible.

BUT, as my previous blog post states, let it be. So we are seeing the positive in the situation. We get to put in dark flooring that we have always wanted, and we are going to pay a bit more to upgrade to granite counter tops. So, although this is NOT how I wanted our kitchen remodel to go, we are thinking on the bright side and soon enough I will have my dream kitchen.

XOXO,

Erica

New Year, New Me

Hi Everyone,

So, it might seem like this blog is going under, but truth be told, nope! I am still here, surviving. Surviving has been my key since my brother passed. Getting through those moments that I didn’t think I could. I am ok. I get through the days, I cry and have HUGE meltdowns that seem to hit me out of nowhere, but I am still going. Doing exactly what he would have wanted me to.

What has been happening? Well, I got the amazing opportunity to go to Hawaii the day after Christmas to nanny my 3 adorable nephews. It was a time for healing, a time for peace, and a time to get way from life. I had major meltdowns there, I got very angry. It made me so upset that we were in paradise, swimming in the ocean, watching whales, enjoying the heat with out him. I was very very angry at times.

IMG_2032

 

IMG_2133

I walked away from Hawaii with a new perspective on life, one that Benji would want me to have and that is my new 2014 new years resolution “Let it Be”.

Letitbe

I am trying to be happier, more realistic, but letting the bad and good things happen and realizing I have absolutely no control over them. A month into the new year and I feel like a new, happier person.

What are some of your new years resolutions?

XOXO,

Erica

Alone

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all of the love and support on my Remembering series. It means a lot.

The past two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions, to say the least. I will be perfectly fine one day, and hear a song on the radio and it all comes crashing down. So much reminds me of my brother. Every Philly cheese-steak I eat brings back memories, every song on the radio, every book in my closet. They are all there because of him. He inspired me to always pursue, to always believe, and to never ever give up on my dreams.

So, what have we been doing? Staying busy. We are trying to keep our minds busy and focus on things that make us happy. We have been cooking more together, listening to music by our fire together, and enjoying each others company. We have been doing some DIY projects together, tackling some things we have been wanting to do the past 7 months. We both have our moments and break down, but we both know that being sad and depressed is NOT how Benji would want us to be. We are trying to remember the good that he brought into my life.

Benji brought my husband to the Lord. This is something I have been praying for, for years. And it wasn’t until Benji that Kurt actually believed. He encourages me to go to church now, we pray together now. I will never be able to thank Benji enough for the way he has changed our marriage.

Above all of this, I have never in my life felt so alone. My body aches, I sometimes feel like I am on auto-pilot. Not sure how I make it through the days, but we do, we have to. This is what Benji would want.

Kurt has been painting Benji’s house, starting today. He says it is hard, hard knowing he is working so hard but Benji won’t be able to see it. Everything seems to be hard. But we have to keep pushing on, because Benji would want that more than anything.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7

XOXO,

Erica

Remembering (Part 5)

Hi Everyone,

This is post 5 in my Remembering series. Thank you for understanding as I space it out between a few posts.

Over the next few days, Benji got worse. It was so hard to believe he could get worse after being so bad already. Heidi, his angel of a wife, made the most difficult decision to put Benji in a hospice home. She came to the realization that if he passed away in their home that would constantly remind her of such a terrible time. We all supported her in this decision.

Not that it was the best choice, but I had such a terrible time bringing myself to go see him in this home. I knew he was getting worse, but he made it clear to me that I needed to focus on what I needed to do. So I stayed away. It still hurt and I thought and prayed for him every day. But I couldn’t bring myself up enough courage to see my Brother.

Then, on September 6th, Heidi called and said it was going to happen soon. Benji was in a coma and was now non responsive. His vitals were getting worse. Without question, I decided to go up and see my brother. My oldest brother, Dan, warned me that he looks worse and it is hard to see. I was scared. I didn’t want my last memory of my brother to be like this but I knew I needed to do this.

As I walked into the room, I saw my precious brother looking so frail, so week, so not him. I sat by his side and held his hand. I cried and told him how much I loved him, how much of a fighter he was, how much I admire him. His grip on my hand tightened. I knew he heard me.

photo[1]

Heidi’s mom read a beautiful passage about heaven out loud to us all. As she was finished, Benji raised his hand up in a fist. His typical movement for his famous saying of “Strength and Honor”.

Through the next several hours, we spent the time in the room listening to music, praying, crying, and being together as Benji held on. We all decided we would spend the night because we knew this was going to happen soon. Right as we all got settled in our bed, I could hear Benji moaning, more and more. He seemed as though he was in pain. The nurse reassured us he was not in pain, but that this was normal.

I paced the floor, bawling my eyes out. Could this really be happening? My brother, Dan, hugged me and we bawled. I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my brother was going to die. This was not a dream. This was real.

Everyone was in the room with him, watching him, praying for him, crying. I couldn’t take it. I put headphones in and sat right outside his room. Over and over I kept playing his favorite song “Because he loves me” by David Crowder.

And then it happened, the door opened and my step mom came running out of the room. “He is gone”. I lost it. I ran in and everyone was crying. His wife was saying “No Benji, no Benji”. We all held each other bawling. It happened. My brother took his last breath and was healed.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

XOXO,

Erica

Remembering (Part 4)

Hi Everyone,

This is the 4th post to my Remembering series.

A few days after Benji was released from the hospital, home, and on hospice was my birthday. Benji called me telling me how sorry he was but he didn’t think he could go out and do anything. He always felt like a burden to us. In all honesty, the only wish for my birthday, was to be together as a family. It just happened to be the first Broncos game of the year so we got together to watch it.

photo 4

This was, by far, my absolute favorite birthday to date. Benji and I dissected the Broncos, we laughed. We smiled. He told me how much he loved me. I will never, ever, forget this night.

A few days later, Benji asked his hospice nurse how much time he had left, he told him about 2 weeks. Hearing that news hurt. It made it that much more real. We spent as much time as we possibly could with him. Slowly, I watched my brother get weaker and weaker. He started to lose his mind a little bit and was forgetting things and getting confused easily.

In honor of him, I got a tattoo on my foot. The flower, is a gladiolus flower which means “Of character of strength and honor”. He knew I was planning on getting the tattoo and made it clear he wanted it done before he passed away because he wanted to see it.

photo 5

Being honest, it  was starting to get very difficult to go and visit my brother. As much as I loved his wisdom, his love, and his company, watching him slowly get worse and worse was heart wrenching.

He had a few things he needed to accomplish before he passed away, one of them, was to celebrate his sons birthday. Jonah, his son, asked to have his father at his birthday before he passed away. With Benji getting worse every day, we realized we needed to plan his birthday a few weeks early. But, Benji made it.

photo

In the end of August, I decided to go up and visit him. He was awfully confused and easily agitated. He wanted to write letters to his beautiful sons for different points in their life. He was having such a hard time with this, something that would normally take him no time to complete. We sat on the couch and I helped him finish these letters. He then looked at me and said “You and I need to go have a talk right now”.

We went to the front porch and the first thing that came our conversation went like this:

Benji: Erica, you need to put your guard down. It is okay to not be strong. It is okay to be weak and cry and hurt.

Me: Bawling

Benji: I love you so much Erica and I know this is going to hurt you more than anything. But I just want you to know how much I love you.

Me: Still bawling

Benji: It is okay to yell at God, it is okay to be angry. I shouldn’t have to die so young. It is okay to cry loud. It will be okay Erica.

Me: Gaining my composure a little bit. Benji, I love you so much and I am going to miss you so much.

Benji: I know, Erica. But I am not afraid to die. I am going to be in heaven, pain free. I am just sad for all of the people that will hurt when I die.

As I drove away that night, it made me realize that this was probably the last conversation I would have with my brother and it hit me like a ton of bricks. A usual 20 minute drive home took me over an hour as I had to continue to pull over and just cry.

This series is in a few parts, so bear with me over the course of the next few days/weeks as I write it all out.

XOXO,

Erica

Remembering (Part 3)

Hi Everyone,

This is a continuation to the Remembering Posts Part 1 and Part 2.

On July 22nd, Benji went to the ER. We received a phone call from his wife Heidi stating it wasn’t good and we needed to go there immediately. We spent the evening in the emergency room for them to tell us that Benji needed emergency surgery, now. The problem, his body was so weak that he wouldn’t be able to continue with Chemo for 6 weeks. Ouch. At this point, there was no other option. He needed to get into surgery.

As I watched them wheel my brother into surgery, he grabbed each of our hands and told us how much he loved us. I thought I was going to lose my brother this night. After surgery, he was put into ICU due to his heart rate. During surgery he was required to get a colostomy bag. This was one of Benjis worst nightmares.

When Benji awoke in the morning, he had a tube down his nose to try and release some of the bacteria that was in his stomach. He wasn’t able to eat, couldn’t drink and he was in a lot of pain. Benji was in the hospital for a total of 13 days. We, as a family, would trade of different days and nights to go spend with him so he was never alone. His 33st birthday fell on July 31st, in the hospital. He didn’t want a big deal made out of him, so we spent the evening together as a family in the courtyard of the hospital. Another one of my absolutely favorite memories.

photo 1

photo 2

On one of the last days he spent in this hospital, after talking to his doctor in Texas. The doctor walked in and informed Benji and Heidi that there was nothing more to do. That it was time for Benji to get moved to Hospice.

When I heard the news, I wept. I cried like a baby. I couldn’t comprehend losing my brother. It didn’t seem right. I wasn’t sure what to think or even what to do. My heart literally hurt. I layed in bed for the next couple days numb, unable to process what was going to happen.

Please bear with me, over the course of the next few days/weeks as I write out this story in separate posts.

XOXO,

Erica