Liam’s Armory – t-shirts on zazzle.com!

Liam’s Shield Bearer t-shirts are now available at zazzle.com!

Here are the direct links:

Men’s Shirt

Lady’s Shirt

Kid’s Shirt

frontback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

options

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you prefer the design on a different style of shirt (long sleeve, sweatshirt, technical running shirt), scroll down the page and look for the blue oval that says “See all styles (119)” in the column on the right side of the page.  Lots of options are available!

 

 

 

Word to the wise: Zazzle.com almost always has a coupon code that will reduce the price of their merchandise.  So, don’t forget to check BEFORE making your purchase!

Give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me…

Jennifer gave blood for the first time in 20 years today!

Jennifer gave blood for the first time in 20 years today!

This morning started differently for me than most Saturday mornings.  Last night, I had casually mentioned to my sister that I wanted to go give blood.  She’s a take action type of person, and so we immediately planned a morning outing to give blood and then enjoy a beverage at our favorite local coffee shop (White Rhino). We picked the first appointments of the day-7 am-because we knew that White Rhino would open at 8am, which seemed like perfect timing.

I had not given blood since my senior year of high school…almost 20 years ago.  I had tried to give one other time, but had been anemic.  I found myself excited, but also a little nervous.  It made it a little challenging to sleep, but easy to get up!  It was very much like a first day of school experience.

I picked Colleen up at 6:42 am, and we arrived at the blood donation center at 6:51 am.  The lights and heat were on, the staff was ready, and the door was unlocked.  We signed in, read the laminated education sheets, finished the registration process, and then were called individually into different consultation rooms.  The tech to whom I talked has worked there for 7 years.  She took my vitals (temperature, blood pressure), then checked my hemoglobin.  Once all of those numbers were recorded, she set up the intake questionnaire on the computer and left the room to give me privacy to complete it.  Once I was done, I opened the door (as per her instructions) and we talked about some of my answers.  Once I was given the all clear to donate, I was taken to a donation chair.

The chair itself was a well padded recliner with adjustable arm rests.  My donation arm was placed on a pillow atop the lowered arm rest.  I noted that the other 9 donation chairs were empty.

My donation phlebotomist was a very nice, talkative woman who made the process of donating pass quickly.  (As a side note, her son turned 30 yesterday.  He had childhood cancer, spent a year going to Children’s Medical Center getting various chemotherapy/radiation treatments, and was initially told he would live 3 years past diagnosis.  No one at Carter BloodCare knew about Liam when I was assigned to my phlebotomist.  To think that it was mere coincidence that I would be encouraged in this way just does not seem possible.)  I was finished with my donation at 0752, but I was encouraged to sit in the canteen area for 10-15 minutes before leaving.

I enjoyed a package of Famous Amos cookies and apple juice, while I talked to my sister.  Unfortunately, her extended time in Europe disqualified her from donating.  She was disappointed.  But I was still so glad she was there.  Not only had she encouraged me to actually sign up for an appointment, but she also wanted to donate and asked to come with me.  For me, donating blood would probably have remained on my “Things I’d Really Like to Do” list because as a mom of 4 kids, including one with cancer, it’s really easy to think about doing something and often logistically challenging to actually do it.  (Case in point, I haven’t had a haircut since 2 weeks after Liam was born.)

Now, I have a return appointment.  Because I gave whole blood, I can give again in 56 days.  I suspect that the length of time for the next appointment may be shorter because I’m now a registered blood donor with Carter BloodCare, but an hour and 15 minutes seems like so little to give.  I have spent many more hours watching Liam receive blood products and am so glad that I’m now giving back.  I am forever grateful to the donors who have given the blood products that Liam has received during his treatment.  They gave not knowing who they would help, and we have been blessed by their selflessness.

The experience brought to mind the song lyrics by Roger Hodgson, “Give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me…” Blood donation is a gift of love.

I found these facts/statistics interesting:

  • Someone needs blood every three seconds.
  • Three lives are saved by one pint of donated blood.
  • 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood — less that 10 do, annually

If you are eligible to donate, please, consider becoming a blood donor.  I would highly encourage you to sign up with a friend or a loved one and go!

If you would like to know more about the donor guidelines for Carter BloodCare, click here.

If you would like to know about the types of donations, click here.

If you would like to find a Carter BloodCare donation center or mobile drive, click here.

If you would like to find a blood bank near you, click here.

Cancer is Wood

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series "Liam's Battle" --

Fred and I met in the fall of 1995 at Southwest Texas University (now Texas State University). I was a 17 year old freshman and he was a senior. We met at the first chemistry club meeting. He told me I had cold hands (he asked to shake my hand after I was elected secretary of the new club), and I later told my roommate that I had met a really nice guy but he was way too old for me. A Friday night group movie night (planned by Fred just to have a way to ask me out without asking me out on a one on one date), a Saturday night group outing to listen to music and dance at Nephews (I walked down to the square in San Marcos to check to make sure I could actually get into the venue), and a Sunday morning “date” to attend church and Sunday school together, and I was smitten.

A year and a half later, we had been already been engaged to be married for 7 months and the plan was to wed when I graduated (scheduled for May 1998…I was on the “I took a bunch of AP classes in high school and am willing to work through the summers to complete this degree” program); however, Fred and I wanted to move the wedding up and start our happily ever after. My parents wanted me to finish school. So, Fred and I flew out to northern Virginia for Spring Break to discuss the possible change in plans.

My parents were preparing to put their house on the market. (My dad had been reassigned to Fort Sill, OK.) Unlike the previous trip that Fred had taken to visit my parents, the tenor of this visit did not involve sight seeing or national monument visitation. This trip involved a lot of work…together.

We stacked firewood. And my dad watched our interaction. The temperatures fell. And then dropped below freezing. And dad asked (told) us to power wash the large wooden deck. This was a task that neither Fred nor I had ever done before-alone or together, in good weather or bad. But we tackled it together and managed to enjoy a rather miserable time together. We took turns, we encouraged one another, we laughed, we borrowed a joke from the sitcom “Boy Meets World” that we still use, “This is the opposite of fun. This is wood.” And my dad watched.

At the end of Fred’s trip, my parents had a clean deck, we had the memory of a lifetime, and my dad gave his blessing for us to move our wedding to August of 1997…even though I wasn’t done with school, my sister was getting ready to finish high school/start college, and they were selling their home and moving halfway across the U.S.

What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time, but am starting to appreciate more fully after 17 years of marriage, is that character is revealed as well as developed during times of conflict. My dad had already figured that out and was resourceful in using tasks that needed to be accomplished to see how Fred and I would work together in challenging times.

Our first year of marriage was a borderline disaster, but we endured the conflict that arises when one person has a schedule crammed too full of graduation requirements and the other is waiting for said person to graduate. We endured all of the frustrations that go along with learning to share a life (and small apartment) with someone else. We endured the transition to graduate school and my realization that I didn’t want a Ph.D. because I knew I would feel compelled to use it in a job outside of the home once I had earned it. We endured 5 years of a commuting marriage when I took a job at Portland Community College, while Fred finished his degree in Eugene. (I had an apartment in Portland and lived there during the week and came “home” to Fred on the weekends.)

We endured the stillbirth of our first child, a daughter who we had named, talked to, hoped for, and love deeply. We have endured the wonder, blessing, sleeplessness, and general nuttiness that parenting 4 kids can entail. We endured a chemical pregnancy and a miscarriage.

We have walked an interesting journey together and we continue to grow together as two become one flesh, a head and a body learning to serve each other as we respect, love, and cherbish (we both mispronounced “cherish” in our wedding vows) each other (Ephesians 5).

We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary by indoor skydiving, a surprise my sweet husband knew I would love. We laughed and made memories as we experienced the wonder of being supported by a force we could not see, but could definitely feel. We cheered for each other as we learned how to relax into the wind. We compared sore muscles after our brief flights.

And on August 17, 2014, the day after our 17th wedding anniversary, our sweet two-year-old Liam was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. It is a horrible disease and the treatment for it seems cruel and unusual in many ways. Honestly, at first I felt like we were in free fall. But as we continue to endure and walk this journey together, I have come to realize that just like when we were skydiving indoors, we are being supported by an invisible force. We can’t see it, but we can definitely feel it. This is an opportunity for our character to be revealed and shaped. It is an opportunity for us to grow together as a couple as well as for our family to be unified.

Just like power washing the deck in freezing temperatures, we are in a situation that neither Fred nor I have experienced before, we are tackling it together, and managing to enjoy a rather miserable time.

Our audience has grown. We are blessed to have our family here to help.  My dad has a front row seat to this adventure as the long term substitute in our homeschool this year.  My mom is wearing many hats as she shuttles kids, cooks, cleans, runs errands, etc.  My sister and brother-in-law (and their girls) are walking along side of us, watching, supporting, teaching. And our children are watching how we handle this situation, growing, and learning some character lessons early in life.  We are enjoying an extended family support system orchestrated by a God who listened to our prayers to relocate to Texas for six years before allowing us to move to within 2 miles of my parents and sister to a job that was a perfect fit for Fred’s skill set and personality type. We have been blessed and humbled with an army of people praying for us and our son, people providing meals, people sending care packages and encouragement, people showing us God’s love.

Cancer is the opposite of fun. Cancer is wood. And yet, it is fueling a refining fire. We are not the people or parents that we were before our son was diagnosed. We are still imperfect, flawed, and human; however, we are calling on the name of the Lord and we testify that He is our God (Zechariah 13:9). He is faithful and just to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). And He promises to use all things for the good of those who love Him…so that we can be conformed to the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:28-29). May our faith be proved genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor for Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

What does it mean to be Liam’s Shield Bearer?

Liam’s name means Beloved, Courageous Protector.  We remind him every time he goes to sleep because it’s part of his blessing song.  (Each of our kids has a personalized blessing that we sing over them before they go to sleep.  It’s a Harris-thing.)

After learning of Liam’s diagnosis, I kept hearing the words of Nehemiah 1:11 in my head, “I was a cupbearer to the king,” and I realized that what Liam the Protector needed was an army of Shield Bearers–people who would lift up the shield of faith and pray for our son.  It’s a similar image to Aaron and Hur raising up Moses’ weary hands and keeping them steady till sunset  as  Joshua battled the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-15.  Liam is fighting a battle and needs the shield of faith to be raised on his behalf.

The verse on the bracelets is Ephesians 6:16, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  It’s the ending verse to the Ephesians 6:10-16 Armor of God passage:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

As you pray for Liam, we encourage you to put on the full armor of God before taking up the shield of faith to pray for our son.

We are so grateful for your prayers and humbled by the number of people who are praying for Liam.  People coast to coast and around the world are praying for our son.  We serve a big God and trust that regardless of the outcome that He will be glorified.