Wednesday, December 30, 2009

brian

Tonight at midnight, we'll ring in a new year, and for the first time, I won't be able to call Brian at 12 p.m. January 1st and wish him a happy birthday. :( That's sad. I had a realllllly long cry about it last night. Probably the longest I've ever had because this is starting to become real that he won't be here for these annual events. The "trauma" of it has faded somewhat and reality is sinking in and I don't really like its picture.

I do like knowing that he's still around. I'll probably wish him a happy birthday up in heaven at midnight. And thankfully, I'll be surrounded by friends (new year's eve party) and family on Friday night. Although I'm a little nervous for the feelings I'll face, I know I'll make it through okay. I'm sure it will be double or more what I'm feeling for my parents and Cristina, so if you could keep them in your prayers, that would be great.

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas letter 2009

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times...."

Looking back on 2009, that phrase seems only the best way to describe it. We will never forget 2009 for two big reasons: our wedding and my brother's passing. It's definitely been an emotional year.

Erik and I absolutely loved our destination wedding on March 8. We were married on the beach in Naples, Florida and then held a big party back in MN to celebrate with our family and friends. It was an absolute dream!

I love that my brother got to see us get married. Brian wound up going home to meet Jesus on October 5 after a well-fought battle against cancer. He was an amazing, admired man and is dearly missed. His life will encourage us (and many others) to live right before God for many years to come.

On the day-to-day side of things, Erik continues to be a rehab technician for Reliable Medical company. He's daily bringing stories, hope, and a smile to a bunch of patients around the city who need his help getting a new wheelchair or getting their chair fixed. I continue to work full-time as a writer for Living Word Christian Center. I love working with words every day... and I realize that sounds totally nerdy to say!

Other news of the year... we got a puppy! Tucker is a chocolate lab and English springer spaniel. He's SUPER hyper, but only when people are around. He stays around with me (Laura) at home, since I work from home, and is relatively chilled out then.

We appreciate all of our friends and relatives; we're especially thankful for their strong support during an emotional year. All God's best and blessings to you during this Christmas season and the new year. We love you.

Erik, Laura, and Tucker Wegener :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

just checking in

Hey everyone!

It's Friday and I'm making some lunch so I thought I'd write a quick note hello before time gets away from me. :) My family and I are doing well. I miss Brian. I was reminded of him a lot last weekend. We played an expanded version of Settlers of Catan, a game Brian just loved, and I knew he would have loved the extended version too. Erik said we could play the game with him in heaven. :) Yay!

My parents are down in Florida and will bring back Cristina and the girls on Sunday. They'll be back for the holidays - I'm very very excited to see them and spend time with them. From what mom and dad have said, it hasn't been easy being with the five of them but not having Brian there. We decided we are all going to be together on New Year's day - Brian's birthday. And we're going to think of something super fun for us all to do... still to be determined. Erik and I came up with a lot of good ideas, but they were all food related... heheh hehe... that made me laugh. :)

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers during the holidays. I greatly appreciate it. It's not easy, but time does help heal and God helps you adjust. We still have lots of questions and aren't sure exactly what the future will look like, but it will be okay because God is with us.

We probably won't get a Christmas card out this year, and I'm not sure that my parents or Cristina will, so we'll probably wind up sending you lots of love via our respective blogs. Know that we do love you and pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas season. These next two weeks are really the most wonderful time of the year - family, fun, friends, vacation, etc. I'm looking forward to them.

Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

our first (almost) plumber's story

So Erik and I have our first story that thankfully didn't involve a plumber (and isn't too disgusting!). Our downstairs bathroom stopped working about a week ago. Well, it still worked somewhat - it was just reallllllllly slow, and slow enough where we couldn't really use it.

That, of course, is a problem.

We plunged it plenty of times, but still no change. I even went to the store and asked an employee if there was anything like drano you could use on a clogged toilet. He smirked and said, "Pretty much no. That's the job for a plumber or maybe a snake you can purchase." His look was relatively humiliating, but I kept reminding myself I'd probably never see him again...

So Erik and I were somewhat resigned to the problem and the possibility of spending money on a plumber. Until last night...

I decided to put all the carrot peels down the kitchen sink, and apparently, it didn't like that. Within seconds, both the garbage disposal and downstairs bathroom was plugged... great... So I decided to hunt online and see what "how-to's" were available for plugged pipes.

Long story short, Erik looked online, and then grabbed the plunger and thankfully cleared the garbage disposal. He decided to go purchase a plumbing snake for the toilet since we were both convinced the clog was way down the piping system and wouldn't be reached with a coat hanger, one of the online suggestions.

Erik came home, put the $8 snake in the toilet, but was perplexed when it couldn't go far. He tried and tried, and then bent down to see the problem. Lo and behold (I know, that's an ancient phrase!), Tuck's missing dog bone, which was circular, was right there, out of sight.

Thank goodness, we hadn't called a plumber.

On another dog story, we did decide to put up our Christmas tree, in hopes Tuck would avoid it (I know, a lost hope). And let's just say, now the bottom of the tree is surrounded by furniture, a baby gate we use to keep Tucker out of places, an overturned stool, and a few other of our things that are faithfully guarding our carefully decorated tree.

:-)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

happy Christmas season!

Today (Saturday) has been a good holiday day! I think I've come up with a new holiday tradition... for myself. heheh hehe... Making cranberry applesauce!!! I love it! Tonight Erik and I are headed to a Christmas party and I decided to make a big batch of it, partially because my best friend April heard I was making applesauce and wanted some. Too bad for Erik that he doesn't really like cranberries... more for me. Yay!

Our Christmas tree is up and today I found the holiday station on XM radio. Super fun! A bunch of old Christmas music. Loving it. Good atmosphere. It does remind me of my grandparents' house.

I did pray a lot this morning for a friend of mine from high school and his dad. His sister died right before Thanskgiving and within days, his grandpa died. Wow. You know when things look really dark for you, you'd be surprised by how many people around you are facing more difficult situations than you are! Peace and grace to them. I know a little bit of what they are going through and I am aching with the horror and pain. Those first few weeks are so surreal. God, be with them! Surround them and bring them peace during this time!

Erik and I are working on white elephant gifts for a party tonight... I think we have some good ones.

All for now...

P.S. New Year's Resolution #1... (I know, it's early!)... stop using "..." when writing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

thank you

Hi everyone,

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers for my family during Thanksgiving. It blessed me every time someone mentioned they were praying for me. It wasn't easy, especially for my parents and Cristina. By God's grace, we pulled through.

For me, I was dealing with a new set of emotions - having a "split" Thanksgiving with two families! I was at my in-laws for Wednesday night and Thanksgiving morning and then drove to my family's for the afternoon. It was super weird to not be helping my mom on Thanksgiving morning but my mom-in-law! I loved being able to help in Wisconsin; it was just weird for it not to be my mom! And yes, two turkey meals in one day is a lot and I highly suggest you don't eat the second piece of pecan pie, especially if you've already eaten two full meals, a slice of lemon meringue and mincemeat pie!! First year of marriage stuff... good times! :)

It was extra special to look forward to seeing my family later that day. It made me realize how much I appreciate and love them. And it's cool to see how you appreciate both sides of your family in different ways. I love my in-laws and I love my family!

Tonight Erik and I are headed to my grandparents to pick up a Christmas tree for our house. We'll put it up tonight or later this week and hopefully our dog will not enjoy tipping it over....

Oh and funny story... if you look outside on this cold, Minnesota day, you wouldn't see any ice or snow on the ground. Just ground. Except for the parking lot that I walked through this morning. Apparently I was able to find the one patch of ice on the ground in the whole state and slip on it. Classic. I was laughing pretty hard when I told Erik because it wasn't just a bend-the-knees-and-stumble-to-the-ground fall. It was the classic legs-go-out-from-under-you-so-you-fall-right-on-your-bum fall. Wish I had a camera to see how funny I looked! No harm done, as far as I can tell!

I'm getting excited to see Cristina and the girls around Christmas time. I bet the girls are getting so big! And probably tan... I might be slightly jealous! Excited to see Julia walk (the youngest) and hug and squeeze all four of them!

Anyway, off to go see what my husband and dog are up to. Blessings on your day! And tomorrow's December - WOW! :) Happy Christmas season to you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

learning about the Lord

It's been a rough week. A lot of it came from my extreme tiredness when Tucker had diarrhea in the middle of the night two nights in a row earlier this week. And if you know me at all, you know when I miss sleep, it's not a pretty picture! Thankfully, he's on the rebound so the sleepless nights were only two in a row.

I think Brian being gone is starting to hit me harder. The why is seeming bigger since the shock of it is gone and the relief that he's free from pain has subsided a bit (although I'm grateful he's not in pain anymore). Now it's starting to hit that my everyday life is really truly being affected and it stinks.

I miss him a lot. I miss the family we were when he was completely normal. I'm sad that Erik won't ever get to experience that fully. I miss the normal of two years ago. This really really stinks.

You know, it's crazy how many prayer requests for sick people have been brought to my attention in the past few weeks. I know I was oblivious to much of that kind of stuff happening when I was younger, but it seems like sickness is hitting families extra hard recently. And it is tough to know exactly how to handle it when you've just been through the fight we've been through. One day at a time is the best I can do!

The phrase that stuck out in my Bible time yesterday was "Lead me in the way everlasting." It has been very comforting to think on that yesterday and today because I'm not really sure how to get to that way right now. I'm glad to know God will help me. I know all the right answers, and I know what I would generally say to someone if they were in my position, so that's not a concern. It's doing them and putting the pieces together in your brain that make it a little more difficult.

Anyway, I'm a work in progress and I'm glad God is leading me down the way everlasting, somehow, someway, because no matter what happens around me, I know that deep in my heart I truly love Him and am so grateful for His guiding hand on my life in this crazy world. He makes me have a stability without which I would be lost.

Off to the dog park with Tucker. I love seeing him run around there. I always get a little nervous that I won't be able to get him back on his leash, but I always do. And while I'm there, I'll keep talking to God. He's good.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Hi there! I have a lot I could ramble on about the past week, but since it's getting late, I'll just tell you the highlight. Erik preached at...

...whoops, I thought my dog was eating a bone, but I just noticed it was a CD that I had dropped on the ground. Hope I had the stuff on there backed up somewhere else!!!...

...his brother-in-law's youth group in Wisconsin. It was really awesome! A fun glimpse of the future. And it's always awesome when you see God working in other people. I love serving and worshipping and telling others about Jesus because He is truly the life-changer and the hope-bringer.

I'm super excited for my new laptop keyboard to come because this current one is really sticky from the grape juice I spilled on it....

Anyhoo, all for now! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving in case I don't write before then! I'm looking forward to being with family, and I know we'll miss Brian a lot, but it will be okay. There have been a lot of times this week where I have thought of him and just miss him. He brought so much into our lives, so it's okay to miss him a lot. I do appreciate knowing he's still around, just up in heaven, our real home. Such a comforting thought.

I'm finishing up watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay - Thanksgiving edition. I've never made a turkey before, but my mom and aunt have a killer recipe for wild rice stuffing that could hold up on some food network shows (in my opinion).

Toodles!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

a laughable moment

So picture this. Erik is cutting up a bunch of bloody deer meat in the garage with a friend. The two of them are going in and out of the house as they get set up... but Tucker is left inside with me, while I catch up on some work.

Where do you think Tuck wants to be?

The first couple hours of them working in the garage weren't so bad. Tuck whined every once in a while, but slept for a good chunk of that time. But then he saw Erik's friend come in and go back out. That reminded Tucker he's missing out. So he went over to the door, sat down with his head facing where the door opens and whined, making a more ruckus than he previously had.

Once I had caught up on my work, it was 10:30 p.m. I took Tuck outside on a walk to do his business, and after coming back in, realizing I was super, super tired. I thought, "What's the point of staying up if I really should be sleeping?" (I knew Erik would be up for another few hours finishing his project.)

So I told Erik I was heading to bed. At first I put Tucker in his cage downstairs, but while I got ready for bed, he was whimpering and whining, pretty much because he knew Erik and I were both around, but he wasn't with us. Not cool for him. I thought to myself, "If I put him in his kennel upstairs, he'd at least be by one of us, and the complete darkness should tell him, hey, it's time for bed!" So I did that.

But Tucker didn't think it as cool as I did. He started whimpering and whining... not the full blown whining, just the "ohhh, really? I don't want to be here." I thought, perhaps he didn't get enough water, and was kind enough to bring him some water while in his kennel - but he didn't budge. So I went back to bed with Tuck in his kennel, and he whimpered probably every two to three minutes.

I decided to wear earplugs.

Two hours later, I wake up to Tucker making a LOT more noise. He was whimpering, yelping, pretty much saying, are you serious? Get me out of here right now! I yelled at him to be quiet, but nothing stopped him.

I was seriously annoyed...

So I went and opened his cage to see what he'd do while I went to the bathroom... my goodness, he put up such a fuss because the door was shut and he couldn't leave our bedroom!

The annoyance was building... especially since it was the middle of the night and I was trying to sleep!!!

So I opened the door and he dashed downstairs, right to Erik who was inside cleaning up the mud room. I came down, rather grumpy, and told my side of the story. Erik laughed pretty hard... and then said, yeah, once I came inside, I heard Tucker's barking increase. He knew I was down here.

At that point, I was like, are you serious? And let the dog stay with Erik while I went back up to bed.

I woke up one more time when Erik and Tuck came up to bed, and then finally I got a good night's rest. :)

Happy Saturday! Hope that brings a smile to your face!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

the latest battlefront

Fair warning... the next journal entry is long. It depicts the health issues Erik has been going through and goes through how we finally have a solution and a battleplan!! (YAY!)


So Erik and I finally have an action plan to combat the strange health issues he's been dealing with for the past five years. After multiple doctors' visits, a trip to the ER, many chiropractor and kinesiologist visits, way too many days of feeling horrible, we have a doctor who knows what's going on.

Here's the deal: When I met Erik, it had been three years or so at that point that he started dealing with shortness of breath, dizziness, and other strange symptoms. The biggest one was that every once in a while, usually when he did activity, his heart would go into a-fib (an odd beating pattern). At that point in time, no doctor knew what in the world was going on with his body or how to fix it. He even went to the ER one time when he was in a-fib and they had to shock his body with those paddle things 3 times at the highest level of electricity to get his heart to go back to normal.

They put him through so many different tests and rang up a nice huge bill for him to pay and then wound up saying, your heart's fine. We have no idea what's wrong with you, except that you went into a-fib and that's deadly because it can make your heart clot, etc.

That's nice, isn't it?

So Erik didn't know where to turn next - sounds like the lady with the issue of blood story!! He visited chiropractors and a few natural method doctors to see what they would say. Somehow they pinpointed it to adrenaline, but nobody really knew how to fix it. If they did have an idea, it usually wouldn't work.

So throw me into the mix right about this time: we meet, start dating, quickly realize we're going to marry each other, continue dating, get engaged, get married. And we do this all while my family is going through the craziest ride of their life!

Talk about stressful!

Erik's body kept getting worse; there was no knowledge of what was going on, except that he could kick into a wrong heartbeat at any moment and that would be deadly. It hasn't been fun to watch. Especially with my brother dying, I certainly didn't want to lose my husband that quickly!

So speed us up to August of this year. Erik's ready to take a week off work and go to Mayo and have them examine his heart and figure out what in the world is wrong with him--expensive and a lot of time off from work, but we weren't sure what other choices we had!

Erik's at a church event and is casually running and kicks his heart into an irregular beat. It takes 10 hours of him lying around hoping and praying for it to go to normal. But in the meantime, a nurse at the event checks in on us and tells us she knew people with a somewhat similar situation and told us they went to Mayo and had no luck, but there was this doctor named Katsiyannis in the cities who specialized in heart arrhythmia. (irregular/fast heart beating)

What a God-send. What if we had gone to Mayo, but found out nothing???

Our first visit to Dr. K. was a couple months ago. The first thing he tells us is that a-fib is not deadly. Erik's like, are you sure? And he's like yeah. In fact, he told us that we could trigger the a-fib 18 times with the heart monitor to get the information and that would be okay. (The problem is, it makes Erik feel like crap when he's in a-fib.) Some people live in continual a-fib - but they are usually older and because Erik's so young, he feels the a-fib intensely. So he wore the monitor for a month, triggered an irregular heartbeat once-a horrible, horrible night-and the doctor took blood tests.

Here comes yesterday's appointment. The doctor smiled at us and said, yep. You have atrial fibrillation. Here's how to fix it.

We come to find out he's a Christian and he knows God has a plan. He's not sure what the path to Erik feeling completely normal again is, but he'll help us walk through it until we get there. He's pretty clear about the fact that we can fire him at any point if he doesn't help us as we need it. He won't stop until Erik can run about and play like a normal 29-year-old will do. It was extremely reassuring.

The doctor also thinks that perhaps the dizziness, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath could all be connected to the stress of not knowing what your heart is going to do. All that to say, if we fix the possibility of his heart going into a-fib, the rest of his life will fall back into place because that unknown of dying from a heart condition will be gone.

All that to say, now Erik and I are on a journey to his victory. We actually have an end in sight. We have natural help with someone who knows what's going on. We are growing in our faith of God and His power. We know God has a plan for us and we will complete it.

Our outlook has definitely gotten brighter. We have hope that this can and will be taken care of. We're just not sure exactly how or how long it will take. Right now the road involves medicine - a good medicine without long-term side effects - and could potentially involve a surgery that's pretty simple (if you can call any surgery simple!) and effective. So it won't be the easiest road, but at least now we're traveling a road that has an answer. Mix that with God and His grace and healing power, and I think we're doing aok.

The stress level continues to lift as do Erik's spirits. Erik soon should be back to running around like he should be at his age. We go back to the doctor in 2 months to see how we're doing, but we're welcome to call if anything goes wrong and schedule an earlier appointment.

We're going to make it. Erik and I will grow stronger as a couple through this and have a testimony of God's faithfulness to share. Our faith is being tested and we will come out on the other side "perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James chapter 1). Oh great, now I sound like Pastor Mac!! Heh heh

Well, it's Friday morning and off to start my day. It's going to be a good day, and I'm excited to see what God's going to let me do in it.

Blessings in your day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cristina's blog

Hey everyone...

If you want to know how Cristina's doing it, here's a link to her blog: http://www.bakerfamilynet.com/wp/. Beware... it will make you cry!!! I'm crying - I couldn't even read it all. The details she puts reminds me of the reality of the situation. Given my personality, I look on the bright side all the time so the reality of it doesn't always hit.

Anyway... I'm rambling. Off to get a hug from my husband.

Hugs~

just checking in

Hi all!

I'm doing really well right now. Erik and I attended an awesome church service recently that rocked our worlds. Spending time in God's presence corporately helped jump start my time with Him at home. I'm learning how to live in this new "normal" of life.

Things are definitely different than they were over a month ago. The biggest difference is that our stress level is down a lot. I'm grateful for that.

Cristina and the girls are reconnecting as a family down in Florida for the next few months. They're having a wonderful time. Cristina did find someone who can help her out a few hours every day to give her some breathing room with the three little ones.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. It has been such a help knowing our community and network of support is there for us.

On other news... deer opener in MN was this weekend. Erik got his deer last night - yahoo! I helped him skin and quarter it last night; for some reason, I find that somewhat fascinating, although last night's deer was bloodier than normal, so it was super disgusting at moments. Given the perception of how women usually find that type of thing disgusting, I felt like I should be more disgusted with it but I wasn't! I was out with friends yesterday and they laughed with me, because this is a part of me that no one knew was hiding inside!! I really do enjoy being a "hunter's wife" with all that includes - meat in the freezer, dead deer hanging in your garage... It's funny because I know it's so unlike the perception people have had of me!

I think I posted last time that our dog got a new leash - a gentle leader. And it was super funny because this afternoon I was feeling like I could be a testimonial for an infomerical about the leash. It's literally changed the way I think about walking my dog because with a regular leash, it was Tucker walking me (and sometimes injuring me he pulled so hard in the wrong directions!!!), but with the new leash it's me walking him!

Oh and I took Tucker to a nearby dog park this weekend. It was great to see him run at full speed around the whole area. Loved letting him get exercise. Erik and I will probably head back there this weekend to hang out with our new little dog community!

Anyway, apparently I have lots to say. :-) Hope your life is doing well. If I can ever pray for you for something, please let me know. Either post on here or email me.

Hugs~

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

almost one month later

I guess it's almost been a month since Brian beat us to see Jesus. (It's so hard saying he died!! Sounds so final!!! Glad he's still around - just in heaven still around, not on earth still around!) Overall, I'd say we're doing pretty good. We all have those horrible, horrible moments where you realize what happened and the finality of it sinks in. I usually try not to let those moments last too long; it's too tough. :(

Not really looking forward to holidays without him. It'll have a different flavor. But we're a strong family and the days will come and go with the Lord's help and each other.

I'm working today, but taking a break for lunch. Probably mac and cheese - didn't resist that 4 for $1 sale at the grocery store!!! Tucker's got a new "gentle leader" leash that is supposed to keep him from pulling when we are on walks... which I am SO happy for! I couldn't stop him when he would pull! My arms and wrists need a break from getting pulled around by a little (okay 44 lbs!) puppy!!!

Anyway, just wanted to post a note. I had a great weekend with girlfriends and had prayer time and got to flow with God and it was so refreshing for me to be in that place. Little by little, God is definitely healing my heart and bringing me fully back to Him.

All for now! Blessings and all God's best to you! :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

random thoughts

Another week has passed. This one seemed to take a while, but I think it's because I'm looking forward to a lot of different things happening in the next few weeks.

I've definitely had my ups and downs this week. I've had visits with good friends talking about where my family has been and will be going. I've had a few cry-fests. I've had good moments. Dad and I did get back into the swing of things at work. And sometimes it does feel weird to stop and remember that you've lost something so dear just a few weeks ago. A lot of times I just think, what am I supposed to think??? What am I supposed to do? And I know no one has any answers to this - it's different for anyone, and it's normal to be going through a little bit of "lostness" in knowing how to react "right." Or more so, there's no "right" way to act.

Erik and I shared Brian's story today with some people. It was very interesting retelling it because it is a sad story naturally. I don't know how to relay the hope of the situation to people, but I'm kinda intrigued by how God will use this story in my life, Erik's life, my parents' lives, Cristina and the girls' lives. It's not the normal God-story, but it still is a God-story in every way. Physically things didn't go as we wanted or expected, but spiritually it got better and ended in a wave of glory that couldn't be denied. Again, mind-boggling since it's not what you expect, but I'm looking forward to see how it impacts people because I know somehow that story will impact people around the globe, especially as Erik, Cristina, and I look ahead to times of ministry somewhere down the road. And I don't need to worry about how the story impacts people; I just need to do my part and share my testimony of going through it when I can.

I don't know if I have a whole lot to say besides that so I'll end it.

Oh and if you want to hear a good song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGpPnE2Rt6A
Love it.

Blessings!

Monday, October 19, 2009

it's another day

Hi there! Today was a good day. Spent some time talking to a few different people who were checking in to see how we're doing. I think it's a good thing to spend time processing with people what we're feeling/going through, etc. So I enjoyed my times today remembering and acknowledging Brian and his God-filled life. Ahhh so many good things I could continue to say about his life.

Cristina and the girls are spending some time in Florida to recoup. My parents have a place down there (same place I got married!) and it's super peaceful and filled with good memories. Mom's helping them get settled and Dad and I are working a full week this week.

It's fun to think about what Brian's doing in heaven. I wonder if he has an assignment up there that will help the plan of God continue on this earth. Maybe he's doing something up there that will affect our lives down here. Maybe he's just hanging out with the prophets or his favorite Bible character (hmmm, I don't think I know who that is). Maybe he's just spending 24 hours a day worshiping. One day I'll get to join him and prepare to rule and reign with Jesus forever.

Now that's mind-boggling! I love the verse Pastor Mac quotes a lot: Eye hasn't seen, ear hasn't heard, neither has entered the heart of men the things that God has prepared for those who love them. (1 Cor. 2:9). Yes, God reveals it to us by His Spirit... but either way, it will still be more than we can ever ask or imagine! (Eph. 3:20)

As for me and my house, we're just hanging out right now. I cut Erik's hair last night (his initial idea) and it looks pretty decent, especially for a novice hair cutter! I absolutely love the new adventures Erik brings my way!

Hmmm I'm feeling rambly, and if you've ever received any voice messages from me, you know that means I can talk a reallllllly long time, usually about nothing, so for now, I'll simply sign off.

Blessings on your day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

feeling refreshed

So I'm almost over this cold/cough - about at 95% now... not that you really needed to know that, but it's true. Last night, I had a girls' sleepover with some of my Bible study friends and they prayed over me for a long time. I just felt like I was getting filled up with God again and getting re-energized in my relationship with Him. I know where God is and how to find Him, but I've been needing a little help in heading there, just because I'm a little unsure. (With the past few months, even years, of dealing with Brian's sickness, it has been mentally exhausting.)

All that to say, I'm feeling refreshed and a lot more like myself spiritually and physically than I have in a long time.

It was kinda funny because I told the girls that I'd probably get up 8 or 8:30 a.m. since that's when I normally get up and I'm past the age where you sleep in until noon... but I woke up at 10:15 a.m. They were sweet to let me sleep in. I needed the rest.

Anyway, I'm going to work a little today to make up for some time I spent with my family earlier this week and then off to hang with more girlfriends. :) YAY!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

...

Hi there... life has continued. I finally feel like I'm getting over that nasty cough cold I had last week. Sorry for y'all who had to endure seeing me in that state! Thankfully I'm almost through.

My family and I have been reading through all the cards we've received - we still have a lot more to read. Thank you for all your kind words! I'm a "words person" (love language) so I just soak in the words on the card and let them encourage and minister to me. I definitely need it.

My parents are doing aok. My dad is super busy helping Cristina get situated - all the phone calls, arrangements, changes, etc. My mom is helping with the girls. They've been blessed with plenty of food (thank you!) to help them through the week, so cooking hasn't been needed. I know God's watching over all those little details to help make the transition to a new life easier.

Erik and I have some much needed time with our friends this weekend: I have an overnight with girlfriends and he'll be hunting. I'll get some alone time to catch up on house things as well. So all is going as well as it can be or even better since God is involved. We're trucking along.

I hope you all had safe travels back to your family locations if you came up for the funeral last week. Thanks for your prayers and support. I feel it and am extremely blessed that you're there helping me.

Well, I suppose I could ramble on, but then you'd get bored. :) Have a wonderful evening/morning/night/day... whatever moment it is you are living in right now.

Love~

Sunday, October 11, 2009

walking through the storm; coming back to life

So I'm a little gun shy about heading back into reality with a bunch of people. E and I wound up staying at home and watching LWCC online. (Trust me, we don't normally do that!!) Pastor Jim's message was about words and watching him quote scripture reminded me that the Lord truly is my shepherd and I shall not want because he makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul. And even though my family and I have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we don't have to fear because God is with us. And God comforts us when we are there.

I know some of it I'm still saying from my head since I know that is the route to turn. God keeps turning me back toward Him and He comforts me through this time.

If you happen to be on facebook and want to reminiscence about Brian, check out the group "Memories of Brian Baker." Robbie (Bri's best friend) started the group to help us all remember and heal. Here's my post. Maybe I'll post more later from my sister perspective. He was an absolutely wonderful brother. :)

"He and my mom and I were talking when we were teenagers about when we would get married. Brian, being the great brother that he is, said that if I didn't have a rock on my hand by the time I was 25, he'd make sure I'd have some "bling."

"Fast forward a number of years. It was January, I was 24, and just starting dating someone. Everyone started speculating if I would be single by the time my birthday (august) came around. We joked about the idea that if my boyfriend was interested in proposing, he'd have to do it in September, so I could get my diamonds from Bri. Thankfully (since I have a much better boy for me now) that boy left a few months later, and when summer came, I was single. So on July 4, my family was at the cabin and he gave me a pair of diamond earrings. :) I love them!"

Good guy, huh?

Anyway, off to finish watching the vikings. Maybe I'll make cookies too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

a good day

Today was a good day. Erik had a morning for himself duck hunting with a friend, and I had a morning at home sleeping and reading. We spent the afternoon and evening at my parents with my grandparents, 2 uncles and aunt. It was wonderful.

Today I think presented a time to laugh, a few times of crying, a time to reminiscence, play games, and remember some normalcy for my family. And yes, if you happened to read Erik's facebook status, my mom, my aunt, and myself all learned how to clog today by watching youtube videos. Super funny! Then, we had a netti-pot party cleaning out our sinuses...

Doesn't every family have quirks like we do?

We laughed a lot today and just rested together watching football, eating food, and talking. Oh and we ended with a game of Taboo.

Not that you needed to know all that, but today was good for a smile.

Friday, October 9, 2009

saying goodbye

Just finished saying goodbye to Brian. It was a good day. Tough, but good. Lots of emotions, lots of family, lots of friends. Thank you to everyone who came and supported me, my parents, grandparents, and Cristina and the girls.

Now with the week over (which was a long week), I'm a little baffled on what to do. Supposed to get back to life, while remembering who Brian was to us. I know the new normal will come, but it's a little overwhelming trying to understand it now. For now, sleep is good. Food network is fun. And tomorrow is a day of rest. Nothing to plan. I can accomplish things at home (which always feels good to do). And then later in the day, I'll go spend time with my parents and an aunt and uncle who are staying in town to help us work through the next few days (Thank you UC and AM!!!)

Thanks again to all the family and friends who came with love. I know the support meant a lot for me; I can imagine my parents were blessed as well.

Off to walk the dog before bed. I love the fact that Tucker's just happy. As a dog, he has no idea what happened today (except that we left him a long time in the kennel!!!). He's just happy that we're home. I like that. Now, if only he can sit like Erik's asking him to do right now... :)

Love~

Thursday, October 8, 2009

me again

BHi. Just finished Brian's reviewal. Erik and I are exhausted. It's so surreal trying to comprehend what's going on. I do know I miss him and we realize he's gone for good (until heaven), but I guess it's the "how daily life is affected" that is a little overwhelming.

A high school friend came by who recently lost his dad. And an old friend from elementary school came by who lost her sister years ago. She's been through what I'm in the middle of; she suggested we connect on facebook, which I'm glad for. A sibling aches in a different way that a parent or a spouse or a friend. I'm looking forward to connecting with her. She made it through - I know I will too!

Thanks for your support. I'll say it over and over because it is really helpful. Seeing family helped remind me of normal and let me know my support system is bigger than I could have imagined.

Oh and I know normal will not be the old normal, but a new normal (I learned that from Adventures in Odyssey a long time ago!!!), and my family is strong. We'll find the balance of living after this.

Blessings

day 4 of our new life

I woke up thinking today and tomorrow will stink (reviewal/homegoing service). And they will. But they will also be good. I then started to think about all my family and friends who will be there to help and became extremely grateful. People who have been through something like this before mentioned the same thing to me: let yourself be surrounded by people to help.

It's comforting just to know people will be there with me. Some of my in-laws are traveling to be there for us from a long ways. That made me happy, because they're coming for me and then my parents. It's a huge blessing, and I'm very grateful.

It's also going to be good to spend time remembering his life, to remember who he was, to laugh and cry.

Anyway, all for now. I'm getting ready for the visitation tonight and having a rough time, but I'll be surrounded by people soon. God is good like that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

day 2 after our new life

This stinks.

I hate waking up and knowing my big brother is gone. He was such an amazing man, it's awful that he got sick, especially when he seemed so healthy. At this point, I'm glad he's no longer in such pain, but I really miss the normalcy that came before all this junk started. It stinks knowing that our lives on this earth has been forever altered. I'm glad I'm a Christian and know he's with Jesus; I can't imagine life without that hope.

It always makes me smile when I think, Yeah Brian is now the lucky one.

It also gives a whole new meaning to tragedy and when you see other people walk through something similar to what you're walking through. Every situation is new and you never know quite what to say or do since there aren't adequate words, but it definitely gives you more understanding for hurt and pain.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Technology brings the support of family and friends to a whole new level. Please keep my parents and grandparents (I still have all four!) in your prayers. I can't imagine what they're going through with the injustice of the situation.

I'm honored to be Brian's sister, and proud of his legacy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

so we're all a little jealous

Brian beat us all home. :( He's finally free of pain and suffering. I am still in awe of how much of a fighter he was. He was such a man of God. Every year that went by, my respect for him grew as I realized how much he continued to grow in God. He never wavered in his faith or his trust of God. I don't know how many hundreds were touched by his life or from his fight of faith. The spiritual reports of God's presence touching people when they were with Brian were constant.

I get to write an obituary for him. Put my writing skills to good use. Yay!

It's hard to know what to think now. If I think about things too long, I start to realize how much life will be altered now that he's gone. Usually I have to stop that train of thought and just take it one day at a time.

Erik's with me; he's a good rock for me right now. All my friends are surrounding me; I'm so grateful. I am excited to veg out to the football game tonight. hehehe... sounds funny, but true.

Brian, you lived a good, amazing, God-filled, God-honoring life. I really wish you were here and healthy, but you're in a wonderful place. I wish we were all with you worshipping and dancing before Jesus, but I guess you'll get a head start. Meet up with you soon. We'll take good care of your girls and wife until then.

Love you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

a day in the life

A day in the life of being married to a hunter... I come home to two guys (Erik and a friend) walking around the house testing goose calls and duck calls to make sure they sound real. And the dog is running around slightly freaking out wondering what in the world is going on. Too bad it's predicted to be rainy and cold tomorrow. Tucker has been commissioned to stay home instead of going with.

Anything can happen. Such a wonderful thought.

The phrase that has been mentioned a lot in my family: the fat lady hasn't sung yet. And as Dad so eloquently put it, she may be on the backstage warming up, but she hasn't started her song. And praise God, anything can happen. I was talking with my mother-in-law about Bri's situation and she started recalling stories of others who have been "snatched from the grip of death." Brian very well could be the next testimony of that... God alone knows!

God is good. I'm ready for bed. Busy weekend ahead. Planning to visit Brian on Sunday with Erik. By then, I hope for a good report of strength returning to Brian!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

rough day

Rough day - day off spent with the family. We're getting prepared to say goodbye in case things go that way. God is still good. I'm glad He's the God of the impossible. He's also the God who works everything together for good.

Sorry I don't have too much to say. Everything else in my life is swirling around at the same time as this, so I'm a little overwhelmed but thankful for the stability God provides.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

amazing

So God rocked Erik and my world on Tuesday. Absolutely off the charts. We were blessed to pray with a man of God who was in town for the prayer conference and then at the end of prayer, he had a word from God to share with us that was spot on! Okay that was a little Mary Poppins-ish, but true! I could barely stop smiling all night as I was in awe of what God was doing in our lives.

Now, Erik and I are taking what we learned that night and bringing into our daily lives. It's taking faith to follow God, but it's a journey I know God is help us on.

I know that's all a little vague, but that's okay. The main point is God has been moving in our lives!!! I love it!

On the Brian-side of things, I don't really have a lot to post. I've been caught up with helping Erik through a health trial that he's going through and applying Tuesday's word to it. And yes, I'm getting pulled from two sides watching both my brother and husband go through health things. It makes one thing clear--the devil is scared! He knows that once we walk in victory, he will be kicked so hard he'll wish he never messed with my family!

Remember last Friday Brian was prayed for by a man of God from Jamaica? He's the same guy who prayed for Erik and I and he's going up to see Brian on Friday. If you think of it, please keep tomorrow in your prayers - for wisdom and light to be shed on this situation. We have the victory of the Lord in the spirit realm. We're ready to see it manifest in the natural!

All for now. Thanks for supporting me and my family. :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

day 10

So today didn't turn out like I had planned, but I'm okay with that. We were going to see Brian, but Cristina's parents (who are so graciously offering their home to Brian and his family while he recovers) needed a break from all the visitors. And given all the circumstances, I was very okay with it. Instead, Erik and I got to play cards with his mom and grandma during the afternoon - yay!

The best news (I think) is that Brian had a good day on Saturday!!! I don't know exactly what that means and I know he's hardly out of the dark, but it was definitely a good thing to hear!!!

Thursday and Friday in Brainerd were filled with good things that may have led to the good day on Saturday. Some of Brian's friends came up and prayed for him. One said there was an "open heaven" over the house. Angels surrounded the place. The next day, a pastor from Jamaica came and prayed over Brian - one who is extremely sensitive to the Holy Ghost. The whole day was filled with amazing God-moments that brought encouragement to me.

Perhaps we've turned a corner in our journey. I'm not sure, but the glimmer of hope is definitely much stronger than last weekend's. Again, that doesn't mean things will suddenly turn easy. Brian's body has had a lot of damage done to it due the brittle nature his bones have become from the cancer. I don't even like to think about all the things that he's dealt with! But nothing is too big for God.

Blessings~

Saturday, September 19, 2009

another week goes by

Ever have those weeks where Friday never comes? Well, as I'm writing this, Friday has come and gone, but it took a long time to come! It probably was because Brian was prayed for yesterday by a well-respected minister and I was excited for that to happen.

Work was super busy this week, so the week went well, once I worked through some things on Monday. I don't like knowing that even though I'm having a good week, Brian's still fighting for his life. But you do what you can - praying for him, visiting, talking to my mom. Every bit helps in the fight.

Tomorrow I will hopefully go see Brian again. As my dad so aptly stated, Brian refuses to die. And it's pretty intense watching his faith in action when he is in so much pain. As a family member said, he's literally seeing through faith's eyes right now, not his own. It definitely challenges your own faith.

On a different note, through all of this chaos from the past two years with Brian, I met and married my husband, Erik! And today God showed me something about him. Erik is God's gift of mercy to me. That's how Jeremy Pearsons explains his wife in the book Hello, My Name Is God. My spouse is God's gift of mercy to me. This journey would be completely different, if I didn't have Erik by my side. He's been encouraging, strength, a listening ear, and someone to hug, over and over and over again. He helps me work though my thoughts and helps me put them aside to have fun.

Although many times during the journey, I felt odd going through the happiest moments of my life while my brother was in the worst moments of his, I'm grateful. As the sister, I don't always know what to do to help, except visit, pray, and talk to him. So the distraction of getting married, probably was another gift of God's mercy to me. Plus, God brought me a whole 'nother support system through Erik's wonderful family--not only his immediate family, but also his extended family.

Anyway, it's Saturday morning. Erik's sleeping. Tucker (our dog!! that's a whole 'nother story!!) is playing, and I'm thinking about straightening up the house before we head to our second wedding of the weekend.

I hope your day is blessed. God is truly good and will remain good for all times.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

good days , bad days

The past few days have been good for me. Work has kept me busy, and I think the rush of adrenaline from the weekend has passed. Daily I'm learning how to relate to God when my heart is so full of questions. Thank God, though, that I don't have a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

It's tiring watching Brian hurt. We're waiting on the Lord for His miraculous to happen - whatever that looks like!

I do have to say thank you to the huge support and community that has come to our family during this crazy time. Two years ago when Brian had his surgery, we took the "DL" approach and didn't tell a lot of people what we were going through. The second time around, we enlisted all the help we could get! It's been such a blessing!

I hear quite often, "If I can help in any way, let me know." And I just want to "shout out" to all my community in particular, but also to all of my family's support system. Thank you for being there for us. Knowing you are praying makes such a huge difference! There are days I don't know what to say in prayer or just feel very weak, and in those moments I'm reminded that I have a whole team of people supporting me.

Thank you.

This experiences is definitely teaching me the importance of praying for those in difficult times. Every0ne has a prayer request of some sort, and if I can help shoulder the burden for someone else, that will help the body of Christ out in the long run.

Blessings!

Monday, September 14, 2009

day 4... the balance beam

I feel like I'm walking a balance beam and I keep falling off. Right when I feel like I'm back on it, I get pulled down into the other side.

One moment, I see Brian and how much hurt he is in and realize he's not in a good place right now. Something needs to change; this can't go on forever.

The next moment, I'm in a prayer meeting that is very victorious and praying about light and reversal of situations, and I'm seeing the victory. In my heart, I'm doing a victory dance because I'm seeing Brian become miraculously healed.

The next moment, my family has a question for me about what I'd do in a certain situation if Brian went home to be with the Lord. It threw me off the beam the other way as I tried to prepare myself for that option again.

Nothing seems real except my family's pain and it's hard to know what to do.

Right now I'm squeezing a teddy bear Erik gave me when we found out cancer reappeared in Brian's body last fall. And crying. Wishing it would all stop.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

day 2

The last few days have been rough, but today has a bright spot. I'm watching Julia, the youngest of Brian's three children. All girls. (Lots of weddings to pay for down the road!) She's 1 1/2 and taking a nap right now. Okay, not really taking a nap, more like jabbering in the playpen, talking to herself, and pooping in her diaper. Such fun.

If you do the math, you'll realize Julia came right in the middle of this storm. She was born right around six months after Brian's surgery. At that time, he was cancer free.

Julia's a super easy-going baby. In fact, as I'm typing in the room with her, she drank her milk and now is alternating between laying her head down and playing with her toys. So precious.

You know, having a super easy-going baby in the middle of such craziness isn't a coincidence. Yes, three kids is a lot of work, but a smile from Julia can calm anyone's day. What if they had had a difficult child? Makes me remember that God is watching over them.

Heh heh. Julia is making loud noises and Erik is trying to sleep in the other room. Hopefully she's not bothering my sleepy husband. :)

The little things show that God is moving in the middle of this chaos. From providing for Brian's medical needs to the blessing of his third child, He's taking care of us.

I often wish He would take care of the big needs as well, since manifest healing is such a prominent need, but then I wonder, how many lives have been changed by watching Brian's faith remain strong through this ordeal? How many people have changed or confirmed their belief in God by seeing how strong Cristina is, even when she's weak? How have their lives been changed for the better? What difference will be made in the kingdom of God because of what they've been through?

Questions seem so prominent in the middle of this storm, but sometimes I think I can--and should--reevaluate the questions I ask.

Friday, September 11, 2009

day 1

day 1 of my blog. day 700-something of the storm.

Two years ago my brother was diagnosed with cancer - something my family never dreamed would happen. We're a normal, American, Christian family. Two parents, two kids. No one expects cancer to hit them.

But hit it did.

My brother and his wife have been battling it for longer than 700 days. Brian started feeling bad probably 2 1/2 years ago. A cough nagged at him, and he couldn't shake it. He didn't know he was getting ready for the fight of his life.

He went into surgery and came one less one lung - again something we didn't expect. We believed the cancer would be removed from his lung, not the lung from his body.

But I'm quickly learning God's ways are not my ways.

How many times do we think we know what God wants? How many times are we so sure of what His ways should be? Too often, I'm sure. We're only human, and although some of us know the supernatural realm exists, not many of us realize how close that realm affects our natural circumstances.

Brian's cancer went away. His 6-month checkup was clean. But the storm wasn't over. It showed up again a year after his surgery, worse than before.

That was almost a year ago. He's now near death's door.

But there's something I have to remember here. Death isn't more powerful than the God inside Brian. All the prayers and support that have been given to our family hasn't been for naught. Our God is a God who answers prayers. He doesn't respect persons. And I know of at least 3 situations where death was looming but didn't have the final say. If God can do it for them, He can certainly do it for Brian.

The problem is, my mind desperately wants to figure it out. I want to know the how, when, and where of his healing. I want to know when we'll be through this trauma. I want to know when the pain and hurt will end.

I don't know. Only God does. And that's why I find myself returning to the basic truth I know: God is good.

If that's the only thing I know in the middle of this unstable, horrific time, I will be okay.