yarn along

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Phoebe and I did school yesterday sprawled out on a blanket under a great spreading maple in our backyard.  We began reading The Penderwicks.  I’m not even sure what led me to this book but I remember hearing somewhere along the way recommendations of it.  We’ve been listening to The Little House on the Prairie series on audio books, too, and Phoebe’s been re-inspired to run through the yard with her bonnet strings dangling around her neck like Laura.

I’m still not reading much lately.  Odd for me, I know,  but by the time evening comes and I’m free to read I just don’t have much brain power left.  I’m in need of some light hearted stories, so if you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

I’ve mainly been working on my waterrock vest for the Appalachian Knits spring KAL that I’m participating in.  The designer of the pattern is my friend from middle + high school days, Jennifer, and she is the one who taught me to knit!  So it’s really fun working on her pattern.  Everything she makes is gorgeous.  I’ve almost finished the body and ready to begin arm hole shaping.  I’m adding another inch or so to the body since this is a cotton/linen blend yarn and I plan to wash/dry it, so I’m adding length to account for shrinkage.  Plus I have a long torso, I think.  Anyway, I’m really enjoying knitting it.  I’ve started some socks for Phoebe too and I plan to knit a couple pairs for each of the kids and eventually a pair for myself too.

Joining with Nicole’s Crafting On, a weekly craft link up, as well as another knitting friend here.

 

family egg hunt

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After editing and loading all those pictures, I’m too worn out to say much!  Whew!  I’m just so thankful to have some of my loved ones nearby, to get to gather on special occasions and ordinary occasions, to work together (as we all do in one way or another), and to be there and alongside one another.  It’s not perfect and we aren’t as close as I think we all wish we were, in the busyness of this season with little ones.  But it is good.  And we are filled with thanks.  We celebrated Easter with our church family on Sunday morning, then met up at my parents house nearby before dinner, had an egg hunt (eggs filled with stickers, sidewalk chalk and bubbles, since Phoebe can’t have candy right now).  It’s fun to see the children enjoy something small and simple together, and to witness the delight on their faces while hunting for treasures.  My parents made a delicious gluten-free easter meal and I contributed some homemade strawberry basil ice cream.  How precious these little ones are, loving each other so much, growing up so fast.  And best of all, our faithful God, making a way for us to know Him and be with Him.

 

yarn along

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My yarn along posts have been missing lately, due to all the craziness of moving and settling, but also because my beloved Ginny of Small Things has decided to stop hosting the weekly yarn along link-up.  Sob.  I really miss the weekly community and chatter of knitters, many of whom somehow have become friends over the strange world of the internet.  I don’t know exactly what I’ll do in the wake of all of this, whether I’ll still share regularly or not, but somehow the weekly posts helped encourage me to finish projects and to read more, and I miss that.  I’ve been hardly reading at all since moving, I think I just need a good light-hearted book.  Any recommendations?

I’m working on a few projects, mainly a water rock vest that my friend designed (and gifted me the pattern!!  She is the most generous + sweet person).  Knitting it in Knit Picks CotLin yarn, which is new to me and really soft to work with–and inexpensive!  Then I recently cast on a featherweight cardigan for myself.  I bought this yarn awhile ago with Christmas money and it is dreamy in every way.  It’s Madelinetosh Euro Sock in color way Cold Shoulder.  So soft, such a perfect dusty lavender with flecks of mauve.  It’s the most indulgent knitting, and I’m trying not to fly through it as my yarn funds have run out!

By the way, I’ve finished my campside shawl awhile ago and I haven’t even had a chance to block it or weave in ends.  I’ve been wearing it nonstop, unwoven ends a-dangling.  I love it love it love it and think it’s my favorite knit so far.

I’ve been reading/browsing through this design/decorating book, A Touch of Farmhouse Charm with a ton of do-able and cute DIY projects as inspiration for our old/new home. 🙂  It’s a 1950s rancher, but I intend to have a touch of farmhouse charm up in here.

Happy knitting and reading friends, wherever you may be!

Joining with Nicole’s Crafting On and also my new knitterly friend Being Bodecker.
Affiliate links included.

 

hope + a new beginning

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In the early morning dark, all sleeping in one room at the Ronald McDonald house, we woke Phoebe up to prepare for her procedure.  Brandon had already run out to get starbucks for he and I, and then we gave her the sweater that I had knit per her request (and her pick of yarn).  We also gave her the unicorn as a gift, for her bravery, discipline, and perseverance in this three month intensive part of her journey.  So, wrapped up in that knitted love and comfort, and snuggling “Rosie,” she went back into her procedure.  I was with her until she was just going to sleep, and it makes me cry every time to walk away from her and leave her there, but it was a small measure of comfort to see her snuggled up in that bright yarn and snuggling her new friend.

We have heard back about the pathology report from Phoebe’s recent endoscopy.  Her intestines are showing full healing, healthy whole villi, and little to no active celiac damage.  You guys!!!  We are FLOORED.  We are in shock, disbelief.  It feels like a miracle.  You guys have prayed us through, you have prayed for our girl and God has answered!

Now, we aren’t totally through the woods yet.  Her blood work showed still elevated levels of inflammation, which is a bit perplexing.  I’ve heard different opinions about what this can mean, and I’m still waiting on a call back from the Winston Salem doctor about having another pathologist look over her biopsy results.  So I’ve been sitting on the results for a few days waiting, but I know so many of you are waiting and asking and wanting to know the results and I didn’t want to keep you waiting.  Especially on, what we feel, is still SUCH good news!

Is it all over?  Is the worst behind us?  I don’t know.  We still have a lot of work before us in helping Phoebe grow and in encouraging her to eat more/healthfully.  We plan to do some work with a naturopath going forward.  She will have quarterly blood checks and regular weight/height checks so we can monitor progress.  We believe God has been speaking to us about this season of intense difficulty coming to an end, but my heart is so tender and fearful to hope.  It’s easier to brace for the next wave of the trial sometimes than it is to rest in HOPE and faith.  So you can pray for that for Brandon and I.  Of course, we know that we aren’t fully out of the woods yet, it is too soon, but we do hope that from here we will see our girl flourish.

To those of you who have prayed for this miracle: how can we ever thank you enough?  You have prayed life and healing over our girl and we believe we are seeing these shocking results because of your prayers!  God promises that our prayers are effective and powerful (James 5:16) and that they can make an actual difference in things like this.  God cares about healing and bringing wholeness and restoration, as we saw Jesus constantly healing all the sick ones that He came in contact with, and as we are told that this was part of His earthly mission (Luke 4:18).  It is still part of His mission: taking back the lost ground, healing the broken parts, mending the ruined world, glorifying Himself and making His power and might known in our midst.

To those of you who have donated funds so that we can afford these treatments for Phoebe and so that we can continue her medical testing, how can we ever thank you enough?  You have been a huge part of this process and this result.  You have provided relief and help in a very tangible way to our family.  You have, more importantly, just overwhelmed our hearts with encouragement, with the sense that you are behind us, for us, and with us.  We know one day we will be able to bless others financially as you have blessed us, and we eagerly look forward to returning the blessing.  We will do so in the small ways that we can now.

We will keep everyone posted as we know more about Phoebe and as we continue on this journey.  For now Phoebe’s diet will change slowly and with a different approach than anything we have tried thus far.  She is already so pleased just to have her beloved cereal, and slowly we will phase in other things, but will also phase out things we don’t believe she tolerates well.  I will still need to make most of her food from scratch and from carefully chosen sources, so there is still a bit of work ahead for me in trail + error.

As my mother-in-law gently but firmly encouraged me last night, we will rest in this healing.  That this is the beginning, a new beginning, and we are thankful to our Faithful God and to you!

 

Happy Easter!

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Unfortunately Brandon didn’t make it into the photos this year 😦 😦 but maybe I will snag a few of him later when we do an egg hunt.  I know I’ve been absent on here lately, and I have so much to share soon!  But for now, a few photos to say hello and Happy Easter!  Easter isn’t about pretty dresses and baskets full of treats, but we are still thankful for those things.

In the midst of all of life’s complexities, our Risen Living Savior, unchanging and steadfast, is the anchor of our soul and the joy of our hearts.  He makes our hearts sing.  We praise you especially today, Jesus, that you FINISHED the work the Father set before you, that you kept your eyes fixed on the goal and you ran your race, the one that only you could run, and you won the prize.  You are our prize and we are your prize, somehow in the mystery of grace.  You make our hearts sing for joy today.

 

She’s our girl

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Well, it’s time.  I’ve been resisting this for some time, praying over it for a long time, talking it over with our church family, with our small group family, seeking wisdom and checking motives.  I’ve long since moved past resistance to acceptance, and then waiting for the right time, waiting for God’s time and for our move to a new home to be behind us.

This week Phoebe faces another endoscopy.  This will be her third, and I’m hopeful it could be her last.  She has finally finished the three-month dietary course we have been on and now we can take another look inside and see if she has improved.  Since her last endoscopy showed extreme and active celiac damage (as if she was still intaking gluten) after a year and a half on a very strict household-wide gluten-free diet (along with a gluten-free lifestyle in all other products we use), the doctors wanted her on an even more extreme elimination diet of no processed foods, nothing that comes through a facility of any sort.  Everything she eats has to be fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, some simple dairy sources, honey, olive oil, eggs, etc.  Being that she never eats meat or vegetables without gagging/vomiting, it has been quite a challenge to endure for three months.  She has been amazing–but it has brought her to tears many times.  This diet is for the sole purpose of proving whether or not she is super sensitive to even trace amounts of gluten allowed in gluten-free products (most labeled “gluten-free allow 20 parts per million, and certified GF products allow 5 ppm) and/or whether or not she is considered “refractory,” which means her body is not healing even on the strictest GF diet.

So what we are hoping and praying to see on this endoscopy is healthy, healed, whole villi waving around in her small intestine.  Would you pray for that alongside me?

A short time ago a group of strong men, the elders of our church, tenderhearted and gentle, gathered in a circle while Phoebe knelt on the floor in their midst, distracted with some coloring.  They held hands around her, some laid hands on Brandon and I kneeling beside her, some laid hands on her.  And we prayed.  They prayed.  They prayed over Brandon and I.  They prayed for healing for our girl.  They prayed boldly and asked for miraculous healing.  They prayed for protection over our marriage.  They prayed for financial provision.  We knelt and we received it, like being washed in a healing rain.

The thing about having a chronically ill child is that the impact of it happens on so many levels.  The emotions and mental anguish over a child don’t stay in a neat and tidy box, nothing really remains untouched by the life change at some point.  Everything is affected.  The emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, financial, marital impact of it all is continuous, overlapping and crashing into one another like waves on a tumultuous sea.  The weight of worry, the gnaw of fear, the spiritual battle for trust and faith and joy in the face of an uncertain future and so much helplessness–it wears on me, it wears on Brandon, it wears on us all, I’m sure.  This whole journey with Phoebe–it has changed me in a way that only grief, pain, suffering, and agony can.  Those of you who have walked through that dark valley–you know what I mean.

The thing about have a chronically ill child is that you go from just parenting to a heightened level of care-taking.  Everything could be a symptom, everything must be watched and monitored.  There really isn’t ever a time when your guard can be down and you can breathe easy, except in choosing to trust God no matter what the health outcome of your child may be.  The ramifications of having a chronically ill child are far-reaching.  The opportunities she misses out on.  The things I have to say “no” to for her that make her resentful with me, even while I fight for her life.  It is hard and costly and in so many ways, we have borne it out quietly because it feels to soon and too deep and too personal to share all that God has done and is doing in us through this.

We’ve tried for a long time to just shoulder the financial burden, feeling like if God has entrusted this disease to us, surely He will provide all we need to treat it.  I think the major and obvious oversight there was that we would be able to do that alone–without the help of the Body of Christ.  I feel like God has led us to a point where we must depend on others, on the body at large.  We simply have no other choice.  I believe He desires for us to see that YES He will sufficiently provide for all we need through the help of others.  The church is His chosen vehicle for caring for the brokenness in the world.  Christ is in the midst of her, in the midst of us, and the church is His hands and feet to the broken, hurting, sick, needy.  It is so much easier to be on the “giving” end of the spectrum, far more humbling and hard to be on the “receiving” end.  I find myself far more comfortable with being the one to reach out and help others than being the one asking for help.  I have questioned my motives, been in denial, etc. etc., but the reality remains: we have done what we can, we will continue to do what we can to just pay our bills and provide for what Phoebe needs.  But we can’t do it all, and we can’t do it alone anymore.

A sweet woman from our church was on the phone with me asking me about how we are doing with all of this financially and when I poured out the reality of our circumstances and how we feel like we’re drowning silently under the load, she so lovingly reminded me that many people love Phoebe and love us and want to help, but don’t know that we are in need in this way.  She reminded me that it is a gift and a privilege for those who get to give to our need, that they are blessed to do so and not to steal from them that awesome joy.

These words settled immediately in my soul:  She’s our girl.  Yours and mine.  Yes of course she belongs to Brandon and I in the most basic sense, God has entrusted her to us as her parents.  But so many of you who know Phoebe personally and also via what I share of her life on this blog, so many of you love her so.  So many of you know she is hilarious, quirky, vivacious, incredibly outgoing, creative, imaginative, bold, and sanguine.  She is a delight to know!  I think she makes everyone she is around feel like they are her favorite.  She has so much love in her heart it bursts and bubbles out over anyone and everyone she sees each day.  She is wonderful to know and to love, and so many of you adore her alongside Brandon and I.  So many of you have asked how you can help as we battle for life and health for her.  Of course we need prayer!  We are doing all we know to do for her physically.  There is only so much we can do to intervene medically and naturopathically before we realize that there is this great helplessness and dependence on the God who made her body and the God who alone can heal her internally.

So pray with us!  But also–if you are able, if you are willing, if you love our girl and want to invest in her life and in this health journey, then consider giving to us financially as well.  It feels so icky and weird to say it, and I want to make a ton of defensive statements about the medical bills stacked on my counter, the way we’re managing money, etc., but I don’t feel like I should.  I wouldn’t want you to do anything you don’t feel led to do, and I entrust our needs to our great God.

My sister so sweetly began a Go Fund Me for us a few weeks ago.  She has shared it with friends and family and some of you, MANY of you, have already donated there!  But many of you also contacted me to say that you didn’t want to donate through Go Fund Me since they take a percentage of the funds raised.  Some of you have wanted to just send us a personal check, which is wonderful and you can contact me for my address if that is what you would rather do.  I am also creating a fundraising link through You Caring as they have come recommended to me by other families who had health crises and raised funds through You Caring.  You Caring is safe and secure, and also 100% of funds raised go to the recipient.  If you would feel more comfortable giving in that way, the link is here:

https://www.youcaring.com/thekimballfamily-792262

Know that every little bit will go to Phoebe’s medical costs and treatments and is a HUGE and tangible way you can help us.  She’s our girl, isn’t she?

Thank you guys so much in advance for blessing us with your prayer, with your love for our family and our Phoebe girl especially.  Thank you for believing God for miracles for her.  Thank you for investing in her life, pursuing her health and wholeness.  Thank you for encouraging us!  I cannot tell you how speechless and humbled and awed we have been by the money that has already been raised.  I want to thank each one of you who have given.  It has brought me to tears many times.  So humbled, so awed.  I just look to the Lord and say, “You bless them, God!  You pour out your rich abundance on those who would so graciously give to us.  You bless them in ways we cannot possibly.  You return the generosity and heap it right back on their heads.”  What an awesome God we serve.  We can rest in Him.  He sees us.  He knows.  He ANSWERS.  I am floored by Him forever.  All praise and glory to Him forever!

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the little white house

I stumbled on this song months ago and knew it gave words to our one-day new home.  I knew we would probably end up with an old home, a fixer upper, and I find beauty in that.  In living new fresh life in old walls.  Consider playing this song as you scroll through these pictures.  It’s somewhat of a blessing I’ve been humming over this new home.

These pictures are from our first time showing the kids the house, after we had keys in hand.  We didn’t want to show it to them at all until it was officially ours, because the process had been difficult for them when offers on previous homes had fallen through.  We opened the door for the first time, they ran in squealing.  Brandon carried me over the threshold.  It was a sweet, sweet moment after a long wait.  And how appropriate that we closed on the house and took the kids to see it for the first time on the first day of Spring!  I kept thinking of these words:

My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:10-12

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And so, we get to move in and watch everything come to life, turn green, blossom and shine.  We feel full of hope for what is ahead, seeing God provide this home for us in His own time and way through miraculous means.

Brandon and I have been working all week getting things ready and clean, and we emptied out our storage container yesterday into the home.  I took the kids this morning and began unpacking a few toys for them to play with as I set up the kitchen.  They were so excited, seeing our things again and seeing the home begin to take a bit of shape.  The furnace decided not to work the day after we closed, so we are still working on getting that taken care of so we can move in officially.

Our last home had the numerical address 23 and for a long time now I have been clinging to Psalm 23.  As we’ve walked this journey with Phoebe and her health battle, as we’ve admitted to ourselves that we have a chronically ill child, as I’ve fought gnawing fear in the dark of night, Psalm 23 has been a constant companion and comfort.  It was always familiar but now it is personal.  Now it is like a sharp sword in my hands against the darkness.  When I saw that our house number on this new little white house was 623, I thought immediately of Psalm 23:6 and looked it up.  How fitting it is.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

This is His promise to us in this life, isn’t it friend?  No matter what we are walking through, whether joy or pain in our current circumstances, surely GOODNESS and MERCY are gonna follow us everywhere we go.  AND?  We might have just bought our first home, but our hope isn’t wrapped up in these walls, thankful though we are for a place to call home.  We are always a bit out of place in this world, always a bit left longing for the house of the Lord.  Always pilgrims until we make it there one day.  We are gonna make it there one day, friend.  We are going to dwell with Him in HIS house forever.  If the joy we feel in buying our first home is only a foretaste of that joy, oh what great joy it will be!

I can’t wait to share more of our journey as a family in this new little home with you, readers!  Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.  And may our hearts like doors open wide, open wide.

ps.  Thank you to so many of you who have prayed with us and for us as we walked out this long journey and as we continue to face battles and uncertainties ahead.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  Specifically our families, our parents, my parents for letting us live with them in the interim and bring a whole lot more noise to their lives, as well as our church family and specifically our life group.  Kim + Time, Heather + Chris, Kevin + Mary Lynn, Tessa + Rod: you guys are OUR PEOPLE.  You have blessed us with scripture, prayer, encouragement, meals, muscle and brawn.  You are teaching us what it means to live as Christ’s hands and feet here and how beautiful it is to live knit-together lives.