We Can Do Hard Things: Thinking Of You: Valentines Day

2/03/2016

Once a year I make up a batch of these beauties.
That’s right, every February 14th,
I consume more of these cupcakes than I would like to admit.

Valentines Day Cupcakes

There’s nothing quite like these cupcakes, you get a taste of brownie, strawberry cake, and cream cheese frosting, all in one bite. It’s heavenly.

And don’t let the different layers fool you, they are incredibly easy. All it takes is a box of brownie mix, a box of strawberry cake mix, and a little frosting.

Every year I bake some of these cupcakes for our family and deliver the rest to friends and neighbors. My favorite delivery usually takes place on Valentine’s day, I love to stop by with a couple cupcakes to give to the widows in our neighborhood. Their reactions are always so sweet!

strawberry brownie cupcakes

As I was preparing a few cupcakes to deliver this week, I realized how cute the plate would be with a festive card. So I reached out to the amazing Miss Audrey Sue for help and can I just say she never disappoints?
I was thrilled when she sent over not only one,
but FOUR adorable Printable Valentines Day Cards!

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Can you believe these? Audrey always exceeds my expectations! Just print any of these 4x6 cards onto a piece of card stock, pair it with some cupcakes (or any treat) and you have yourself one adorable gift.
You can download the cupcake recipe and four printables below.

Happy Valentines Day!

No Regrets

2/02/2016

Oh, what I wouldn’t do to be able to pick up this sweet little girl and just squeeze her.
I’d definitely never let go.

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(Summer of 2009)

One of my only regrets dealing with Preslee happened the night of her accident. As we were leaving, Pat was able to steal a hug from her, but before he could hand her over to me, she wiggled her way out of his arms and chased after her cousin, Ace. I tried to grab her as she ran past, but the quick little thing slipped out of my fingers. I remember thinking, “It will only be a couple of hours.” never dreaming it would be the last time I saw her healthy.

I’m getting emotional thinking about that night,
so before the ugly tears begin to fall, I’m off to go and hug my three boys.
It’s something I make sure happens Every.Single.Day.

If I have any piece of advice it would be,go and hug your little ones today,
(give your little girls an extra hug for me) 

In fact, lets make sure to hug our kiddos multiple times a day,
because life is precious, and tender,
and no one knows what tomorrow holds.

We Can Do Hard Things: Jason Egbert- Hosptial Stay

1/28/2016

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Meet Jason and his wife Geri.

Jason was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at a young age. Jason's lungs progressively declined over the years (accelerated by incessant hemoptysis) and in January of 2012, he developed a severe case of  pneumonia, which required months of hospitalizations, that progressed to lung failure and end-stage Cystic Fibrosis. In February 2012, Jason was forced to drop out of Optometry school (in southern California) and fight for his life. March-July was filled with evaluations at University hospitals across the country and Jason was blessed to be accepted into the transplant program at Duke University in North Carolina. July-September focused purely on getting Jason as strong as possible so he could be listed on the national donor registry. On September 17, 2012 Jason received THE call and the gift of a second chance at life because of the selfless miracle of organ donation. Countless miracles happened over the next 5 months of intensive rehabilitation and he was able to re-enroll in Optometry school and today is a healthy, practicing eye doctor.

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Q: People usually mean well, but don’t always say the most helpful things. Is there anything people continually said to you while in the hospital that wasn’t helpful?

A: “It was especially difficult when others would say they knew exactly what I was going through, then proceeded to make the conversation about them and their experience (no matter how equivalent or not), expecting comfort and sympathy for their trial. Patients aren't usually emotionally equipped to dole out comfort to others while in the throws of their affliction, nor do I think it is fair to ask that of them. No one knows exactly what another is experiencing. Please don't try to make it about comparison and how much you know or understand. Sympathy will always be better received than comparative empathy, at least in the first exchange. Hold the conversation of comparison to yourself unless you're asked for advice or input from your perspective—there certainly may be a time and a need for that, but wait for them to come to you.”

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Q: Are there any specific acts of service that really made an impact on you at such a difficult time?

A: "One thing we both learned through our experience is there are angels all around us. We were astonished by the acts of kindness, some small and simple, others more grand. We were stunned by the fundraisers that took place and donations made and letters sent and prayers offered. Communities in Idaho and California and North Carolina and online rallied around us and lifted us up. We were buoyed up and could hear the encouraging voices singing out to us all along our way. I cannot begin to tell you how much this impacted us in such a time of difficult trial."

"Around the same time that I was forced to take a leave of absence from school, we did a round of In-Vitro Fertilization which sadly was unsuccessful. We were at a very low point because we thought we'd missed our chance at having kids of our own (we later found out that there is still hope). Right in the middle of all of this pain and loss, my classmates got together and asked my wife what my favorite movies and treats were and surprised me with a big care package and a card full of uplifting well-wishes. This really brightened my day.

“It also means a lot to the patient if you take an interest in helping their family through this difficult time. There are parts of the struggle that are harder on the family than the patient. I can't imagine what it felt like for my wife and parents as they waited during the 9 hour operation. Thankfully, our angel relief society president that we'd only known for a few weeks prior to the operation, came with a big smile and 6-pack of diet Coke for Geri because she knew it was her favorite. She also brought a pizza for my family, because she knew they had been, and would be at the hospital for a very long time. This simple act of kindness lightened their burden. She was there to reassure and support my family when I couldn't. I will always be grateful for the Christlike love she showed to almost complete strangers."

“Shortly after the transplant and arriving home to California, I became very sick, septic actually, and was admitted into the hospital for a while. Instead of waiting and asking what she could do, a friend just jumped right in and gave Geri several gift cards to her favorite fast food restaurants (In-N-Out Burger, Panera, Chipotle, etc.). We were so grateful for such forethought and hope to have learned a valuable lesson from her—think about what might help that person in need, what might ease their burden, and jump right in.”


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Q: Good intentions don't always come across helpful. Did anyone's actions ever hurt you?

A: “People need to feel the love and support of their friends and family when they are battling a tough situation. There is, however, a point when an individual's concerned questions can cause unnecessary stress and burden on the patient.  When dealing with a prolonged illness or hospital stay, days will go by with no new news, no updates, just a lot of waiting. Be conscious of the stress the patient is already under while trudging through each day—continuous questioning and rehashing will only add to the anxiety of the experience. The most effective support system is warm and full of love, and doesn't add guilt and stress to the patient. The less you make it about yourself, the better."

"The greatest example of someone not making it a bit about them, and simply offering compassion and love was one of my best friends, Brian. When I had just learned I was to drop out of Optometry school, and our first round of IVF had just failed, and the foundation of our world seemed weak and starting to crumble, Brian visited our apartment. He shook his head, tears filled his eyes, his voice was thick with emotion as he spoke only two words, "I'm sorry." I knew he understood what we were facing, I knew he loved us, and I knew he was there for me no matter what. All from such ordinary words, and all because I could see and feel his whole heart."

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Egbert pinA: Please take a few minutes to learn about organ donation. I am only able to share my story with you today because of the selfless decision of another. Become a donor and let your family know about it. *Even if it says you are a donor on your driver's license the decision will ultimately be left up to the family, so make the decision easy for them. My 15 year-old angel donor selflessly made this decision and shared it with his mom. He was proud to have "organ donor" on his learner's permit. http://donatelife.net/understanding-donation/

Website: www.meandhimblog.com

Gift Idea:  Just like Jason mentioned up above, Pat and I also received gift cards while we were in the hospital with Preslee. We were so grateful for them! We found if it became too big of a hassle, we wouldn’t eat at all, so gift cards enabled us to eat when we could fit it in to our schedule. Below I linked a few gift cards you can order straight from Amazon. I hope this helps!

How Losing a Sibling Affects Children

1/26/2016

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After losing Preslee, I realized both Pat and I had changed immensely, and I knew it would affect any future kids that we might have. I remember talking to my Father-in-law who had lost his older brother during his teen years. At the time, I didn’t know much about his situation, but after asking him a few questions, my eyes were opened to how much children really are affected by the loss of a sibling. Even though we didn’t have any living children at the time, I gained some insight what to do and not do with any future children we might have.

This article was recently posted, and I thought I’d share for any of you who are now raising children affected by the death of their sibling. I found it incredbly insightful.

When a Child Dies, a Therapist Warns, the Grief of Brothers and Sisters May Leave Lasting Scars

We Can Do Hard Things: Lisa King: Death-Spouse

1/21/2016

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Meet Lisa and Aaron King.
Lisa and Aaron met in 1995 while at church in Tasmania, Australia. After thirteen years of marriage, the couple was blessed with four boys. One of their sons, Noah, was born with a condition called hydrancephaly, and was severely disabled. Life wasn’t easy for the Kings, but Lisa says, “It was certainly wonderful!” Aaron was a teacher known for his sense of humor, (not always appropriate which is why he was so funny!) Three months after the Kings buried their son Noah, Aaron suddenly had a massive heart attack right in front of the family. 
Aaron passed away in January 2012 at the age of 39.

I cannot ever describe how much I miss my best friend, every single day.”
– Lisa King

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Q:
After Aaron passed away, were there any acts of service performed for you and your family that you really appreciated?

A: “When your husband dies you are going through so many emotions, and in my case I was dealing with my children, who were also grieving at the same time. You have financial matters to attend to, have to think about going back to work (if  you weren’t already), you still have to feed your children, keep the house running, and try to hold it all together at the same time. Suddenly you are Mum and Dad in that you have to try to compensate for what the children have lost.”

“I remember feeling so overwhelmed and not knowing how I was going to do it all. Something went wrong with our computer and I burst into tears and was so angry that Aaron wasn’t there to fix it, as he always fixed it! I had things that needed fixing in the house and no one to fix it. I had amazing friends who just jumped in and helped me do things that were just too hard at the time. Some friends helped me build garden beds and plant out my vegetable garden for the summer. My brothers helped me fix things around the house. One of my best friends helped me sort out Aaron’s life insurance so I didn’t have to deal with it.”

“I also have wonderful friends who would remember that Father’s Day (and also  Mother’s Day) is now particularly hard and would send us a card to let us know they were thinking about Aaron and what a great Dad he was.”

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Q: I truly believe most people mean well, but were there any comments that were hurtful?

A: “I had a few people say things to me like ‘when I went through my divorce I grieved, so I know what you are going through.’ I have never been through a divorce, and I have no doubt that you do grieve when it happens, I understand that the life that you once imagined what now gone, but I don’t think it can or should be compared to someone passing away. My boys no longer had their father on earth. They couldn’t spend the weekends with him, or call him, or Skype him. I didn’t have someone who was paying me child support to help with the cost of bringing up my boys. I understand that divorce is an extremely hard thing to go through and I have empathy for those who have gone through it, but it doesn’t help to compare it to someone who has passed away. Grief should never be compared  - even someone who has lost someone because they have passed away, is on a different journey to someone else in a similar situation.”


“I’ve also had many people say to me that I need ‘to move on’ and get remarried. I feel like I have moved on by doing things every day that are hard without Aaron – getting out of bed every day, going back to work, dealing with my boys’ grief while grieving myself, selling our home and moving (because it was too hard to stay where we lived together), creating new family memories and traditions while still remember Aaron in our lives.”


“Moving on doesn’t and shouldn’t necessarily mean getting remarried. I have made a decision that I don’t want to get remarried and it’s had when people still say things like ‘You never know what’s around the corner.’ No I don’t, but I wish people would understand that I’m still moving forward in my life, and that being remarried isn’t going to fix everything. I love and miss Aaron every day and will for the rest of my life. I’m happy for other people who do choose to get remarried, but it’s not something I want for myself.”

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Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: “I LOVE it when someone mentions Aaron by name and talks about him.  Some people are too scared that they will upset me more if they mention his name, and I may tear up at times, but it doesn’t mean they’ve upset me because they mentioned his name. I love it when people say ‘remember when Aaron....’ and tell a funny story about him or when they say things like ‘Aaron would love this’ or ‘I was thinking about Aaron the other day.’ It helps me to know that I’m not the only one who misses him and that other people still love and miss him as much as we do.”

Website: www.lisajking.blogspot.com

Gift Idea: I love the idea that Lisa shared of acknowledging someone's spouse on Father's Day or Mother's Day. I reached out to the amazing Miss Audrey Sue who whipped up these ADORABLE cards! Just print them off on card stock, and you've got yourself a super thoughtful card. Audrey designed them to fold into a 4x6 card, so there is enough room to add a thoughtful note. 







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