Category Archives: Evan

Perspective

I once wrote a post on life’s blindsiding moments, on life’s before and afters, on grieving and growing through blessings in disguise. The past six days have required me to reread and remember my own words, something I’m still struggling to apply, if I’m honest.

This week began as any other and became, by Monday’s end, another before and after, rendering my youngest son admitted to a children’s hospital with a lifelong diagnosis: Type 1 Diabetes.

This week I watched my ginger, brown-eyed boy be cared for in a different hospital by the same physicians who helped sustain my ginger, blue-eyed boy’s broken heart 13 years ago.

This week I felt the embrace of sincere community while confined in an age of social distancing.

This week I remembered distinct antiseptic smells and pulse ox alarms, and the significance of small numbers flashed across a screen. I remembered huge, ugly-pink water pitchers and crunchy ice refills and sleeper recliners that never quite get comfortable no matter how hard you try.

This week I experienced the brilliance of bedside nurses and the solidarity of colleagues and the sacrificial courage of men and women who, having taken the Hippocratic Oath to first do no harm, are often overlooked in times of our own need.

This week I witnessed an eight-year-old boy ride the rollercoaster of grief towards acceptance of a new normal and take immeasurable strides towards maturity within four in-patient days.

This week I gained fresh appreciation for outdoor breezes and sun shining on the skin, of organs unseen and disposable needles and how a formidable diagnosis may contain the capacity to bring alignment to those otherwise at odds.

This week I reconciled my assumption that certain experiential boxes can be checked only once in a lifetime with the fact that one can never outlive any possibility while this broken world remains.

This week began focused on a pandemic and ended with a new perspective for pondering life’s weightiest things.

This week I returned to the world of fragile, chronic conditions and resilient children and unanswered questions, of treasured tears captured in an unseen bottle by a Physician, Great and Eternal, and the holy tension of honest lament.

Above all, this week reminded me that gratitude and grief can cohabitate a heart as it cries out to the only One worthy, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

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Filed under diabetes, Evan, Faith, God, Health, Suffering, Thoughts

Anchored

This may surprise you. It certainly surprised me. You’d think after nearly 5 years, the truth would have sunken in by now. But my eyes opened wide this week to new knowledge of myself, a perspective I’ve long yet unknowingly carried deep. Watching my children run strong and bubble over with laughter, it struck me as never before.

Eliana and Evan are growing up.
They’re alive!
And I’m.
Completely.
Shocked.

In an instant fear and wonderment collided as my children’s growth hit me afresh. As if scales had fallen from my eyes, I saw my children as the little man and young lady they’ve become and the babies they will never be again. Sounds odd, I know. But in awe I watched them converse like little adults, laugh at each other’s jokes and console their sibling’s occasional boo-boos. They’re growing up.

They’re still here.

Loss lingers long past its welcome, tucking itself down deep to rear its worrisome head when you’d least expect. Startling defenses, it stalls progress and silences hopes at their onset. Like the rolling tide, you may jump over the first big wave but if you don’t continue forward, the aftertide will quickly follow. You’ll still get wet. You’ll still feel its pull.

Loss leaves you changed. No matter if its death or disease or disappointment, loss is loss is loss. By His grace and faithfulness, God has bound broken heartstrings, cradled my woes and shone hope into darkened places of my soul. But I realized stark this week that the tides had continued to roll deep within long past its initial breakers. I never fully believed these days would come and had braced my inner depths for the assumed “worst” to follow.

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I fear it
Prone to leave the God I love
Take my heart, Lord
Take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

As the tide of truth rolled in, realization reduced me to confession. Confession of walls built within from loss that in turn had inflicted loss – they had held me captive from fully enjoying each gift of today, from fully committing to daily now of my children, from dreaming of days to come.

Loss has marked me. Its tide will ebb and flow until my breath fails and pulse stills. BUT. Truth understood renders choice. Every fearful impulse, every braced breath, carries on its back the choice to succumb OR to offer it full to the only One with grace enough to make it through. Loss acknowledged can breed gratitude and faith-filled trust in the One who bore our griefs, who carried our sorrows to Calvary. Its a journey. A most humbling journey. But one worth traveling. As we offer our fears into trustworthy Hands with honest confession and resolve to see through grateful eyes, hope sinks down deep. Amidst the turbulent tides of this worrisome world, we can cling to our Anchor, firm and secure. Sure as the rising dawn, the hope found alone in Jesus will always hold fast and true.

My children grow before my eyes. I breathe deep in gratitude, trusting their tomorrows to the One who has renewed my hope today.

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Thank You, Jesus, for all You’ve redeemed. Thank You for loving every wounded place, for pursuing every fear-built wall with love strong enough to breech boulders. Thank You for grace to see beauty in ashen spaces, for joy in mourning’s place, for patience while we learn to trust You. Thank You for redeeming what You allow. Thank You for all my children. You have taught me much through them with lessons more in store. I am grateful.

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Filed under Eliana, Evan, Faith, God, Isaac, Motherhood, Struggles, Thoughts

How They’ve Grown

Summer.

The auburned boy has turned three, the boy whose name means “brave messenger”, whose eyes reduce my soul to puddles of joy and delight.  He climbs everything, breaks many things, fears NO thing, and makes his mother a bit more gray with each passing dare-deviled day.  He greats me with a “huug and a kiss” morning and night and many moments between, this snuggler of my heart.  He softens the rough places I didn’t know I had and overwhelms me with the tangible goodness of God.  A boy.  A ginger boy.  A boy who rests his head safely on my shoulder with secure breaths and contented sighs.  He delights in his sister, melts his mother and follows closely after his father’s every step.  Oh this boy of mine.  How I love him so.

Longer days, shorter nights.  July quickly approaches.

Her dark hair cascades down like sheening waves of chestnut and ebony.  Just shy of five, this beautiful Answer To Prayer shines hope and joy through her bright blue eyes, eyes like sapphires surrounding a glowing orb of glacier blue. Simplicity delights this boundless dreamer who sees a friend in every stranger, greets each new day as an adventure and has never known a dull moment in her existence. She bestows gifts from the mundane to the imagined extravagant, all boasting of her affection and placed value in people. How she loves to give gifts to others! Her nurturing heart tenderly cares for every wound in the Leino household – those seen on our flesh and those hidden in my aging soul. She has lavished love and joy into places long tucked away in me. This blue-eyed beauty sees beautiful in the plain, the broken, the misshapen and forgotten. She sees through innocent eyes with a courageous love that knocks fear off its feet. Protector of her brother, admirer of her father and kindred spirit to the child her mother once was. This sweet girl of mine. How I love her so.

Summer’s heat will quickly give way to autumn. Autumn to winter. Winter to another year to another decade to a life fully lived. May I drink it all in and savor every drop.

These precious children of mine. Oh how they’ve grown.

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Off To A Great Start

Eliana LOVED her first day of preschool!  She was giddy about it from the moment she woke on Tuesday.  Thankfully I was able to maintain my composure at drop-off, only tearing up while praying with her before going in.  With a quick hug, she headed right into her classroom and began working on a craft with some classmates.  “Bye, Mom!”  And that was it.  My baby girl was officially a student.  (Where has the time gone…)

While the little lady was at preschool, Evan and I enjoyed a fabulous date together.  We enjoyed waffles from Jubala Village Coffee then went exploring at the park.  The heat finally forced us indoors until it was time to pick up big sis.  I loved having one-on-one time with my little man.  Evan is the sweetest, snuggliest, most charming 15-month old I’ve ever met.  Precious boy.

At the end of the school day, Eliana greeted us with a smiling face and stories to tell.  Our new season of preschool is off to a great start.  One great day down, many more to go.

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One Month Along

Time flies quickly these days and it seems to have shifted into warp speed ever since Evan arrived.  Our sweet boy turned one month old on Sunday!  He has grown quite a bit since his grand May arrival, now weighing 10 lbs 3 oz and measuring 22.25 inches long.  Looks like I’ll end up having two tall and handsome men in my life. 🙂

Eliana grows more beautiful and adventurous every day!  She is on the move from the moment she wakes until bedtime.  While I’m still learning how to keep up with my gorgeous bundle of energy, I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Her zest for life and outgoing demeanor brings a fresh element of surprise to each new day.  Eliana askes for Evan first thing each morning, wanting to greet him with hugs and smiles.  We’re still teaching her how to gently love on Evan, but there is no question that she adores her little brother.  Anytime he cries, Eliana is right there to enthusiastically tell him, “Its okay!”


The past month has been many things: hilarious, emotional, eye-opening, precious, refining, thrilling, exhausting.  But above all, it has been a blessing.  I could not be more grateful for these two precious children, thankful for their health and humbled that God entrusted such amazing gifts to Jordan and me.  I would not trade a single day for anything else in the world!

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Still Here…

To say the past few months have been a whirlwind would be a ginormous understatement.  In a blink, time has flown from being massively pregnant and traveling to DC to now being a mother of two amazing kids.  Evan Garrett turns 3 weeks old tomorrow and though he has only been with us a short time, I could not imagine life without him in it.  I am completely smitten with this precious little boy and amazed at the love Eliana shows him daily.  Jordan continues to astound me with the incredible father he is to our kids and how he finds little ways daily to encourage and love me.  Simply put — I am blessed beyond measure and comprehension.

I hope to blog more regularly in the days and weeks ahead as I adjust to our family’s new routine (and hopefully gain more sleep).  There are pictures to be posted, stories to be told, posts to catch up on, and hilarious pregnant moments to share.  But for now, know that the Leinos are having an amazing summer.  Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf as we waiting for Evan’s arrival and the joy you have shared with us since his birth.  More to come soon!

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Filed under Blogging, Eliana, Evan, Family, Jordan, Patience, Pregnancy, Random, Thoughts

Friday Facts

  • I’m 27 weeks pregnant today.  Little Man Leino has become quite a busy-body.  He is definitely strong, kicking and moving his arms with far more force than my other two kiddos at this stage.  At times it feels like he’s doing somersaults or boxing.  I can’t wait to meet this feisty little guy in June!
  • The warmer weather has allowed Eliana to spend much more time outside and she has loved it!  She wants to be outdoors every chance she gets.  Often her first word in the morning is “outside?”  Such a happy little girl.  Whether she’s flying kites with Daddy, helping Maima in her garden or coloring on the porch in a hula skirt, Eliana has a blast anytime she’s in the sun.

  • Leino Studios had a fabulous first week in its new location.  We are so thankful for the new space God provided for Jordan’s business.  Though we are still putting some final decorating touches on the space, Jordan has already enjoyed the benefits of having much more space for all his musical and business needs.  A step forward in every way, we’re excited to see all that is in store for the Studio in this next season.
  • Our little girl loves to sing!  Any time music is playing, she’s singing and dancing along.  Maima has been teaching Eliana the words and motions for “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”.  It amazes me to watch her pick up phrases and hand motions so quickly.  I found her trying to get one of her baby dolls to do the motions this past week.  Precious!
  • Journey just finished a series on Love.  Boy, has it impacted me!  Over four weeks, our church took an in-depth look into what Scripture says about Love: God’s love, our love for Him, our love for others and our love for ourselves.  I’ve found myself reading through my notes over and again, wanting to listen to the sermons more than once as they have really challenged me to grow and convicted me in areas I certainly need it.  I highly encourage everyone to take the time to listen to the messages.  Since Jesus said that the world will know His disciples by our love, its an area we all could grow in.
  • Well the sunshine and an energetic little lady are calling me outside.  Be sure to check back here on Monday as I’ll be sharing the most amazing carrot cupcake recipe I have ever tasted!  Seriously….BEST EVER!  Happy weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Eliana, Evan, Family, Fun, Jordan, Journey Church, Leino Studios, Patience, Photography, Random, Weather

Big Sister In Training – Pt.2

Eliana continues to show more interest in caring for her baby dolls, taking them everywhere she goes.  Her care always begins with the best intentions…

So close!  Try putting the stroller upright, sweet girl.

Much better!  🙂

Yesterday’s sunny and somewhat warm weather allowed us to have a nice walk around the neighborhood.  Of course, Eliana brought her baby doll along.  She was power walking with that doll!

Work it, girl!

Like any big sister in training, she was sure to check how her “baby” was doing once we reached the clubhouse.

No doubt about it – Eliana Faith is going to be one amazing big sister!

 

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Half-Way There

Today, I am 20 weeks pregnant!  Its shocking really that this pregnancy is already half-way over.  Just a few short months ago, I was in the best shape of my married life as I ran my first half marathon.  Little did I know that as I ran those 13.1 miles, a new life was just days old and growing within me.  No wonder the nausea lasted so long after the race!  20 weeks later, my runners’ body has given way to a baby bump and maternity wear.  (Sadly, this week brought the stark realization that I can no longer fit into my normal skinnies.  *sigh*  So long, favorite jeans.  Hopefully we’ll meet again in a years’ time.)

This pregnancy has been quite different than my previous prenatal journeys.  For one, I’ve experienced nearly no nausea (thank You, Jesus!) which is a far cry from the others.  I was always on the verge of puking throughout my first two.  With nausea next to nil and migraines occurring no more than usual, this physically has been a much easier pregnancy so far.  It seems my hormones have made up for the lack of sickness though as I’ve been very emotional since day one.  Poor Jordan.  I can be laughing one moment and then uncontrollably weeping the next.  Definitely moody as well.  Jordan, you are the most patient man!  Thank you for loving me in spite of me and for finding humor in my randomness.  You are more than wonderful.

As far as memory goes, it seems the brain dies just a bit more with each pregnancy.  That’s how it feels anyways.  I’ve forgotten names of people I’ve known for years (30 minutes into talking with them!), put the cutting board away in the fridge – twice, asked Jordan the same question 5 times in a row without realizing it, and searched fervently for keys that I was holding IN MY HAND.  Goodness.  My family has certainly enjoyed much entertainment on account of my forgetfulness.  Not that it makes it any easier.  To be honest, I just feel stupid during those moments but my sweet husband never makes fun of my absent-mindedness.  Lord, seriously bless him!

Above all the changes, discomforts, quirks and emotions, this new child is a gift!  This growing life has taught me much about trusting God’s will and provision.  I’m fully aware that God is the One who ultimately places children in their mother’s wombs and that He has different journeys for different women.  To simply be pregnant is a privilege, one for which I am truly grateful.  Since learning at last week’s ultrasound that we were having a healthy baby boy, I’ve experienced waves of emotions.  A son!  We’re having a baby boy whose organs are all forming correctly!  It still brings tears to my eyes knowing we’ve been given another opportunity to love and parent a sweet boy.  While we are quite far from having a name picked out (QUITE far), I’m so eager to meet our son face-to-face in a few months’ time.  Will he have his daddy’s rich brown eyes?  Will he have red hair like his brother or bright green eyes like his grandparents?  I can hardly wait!

20 weeks down.  20 weeks to go.  Lord, thank You for growing this precious child in me thus far.  Please continue to mold him physically and even emotionally to be a strong champion for You once he’s here.  Thank you all who read our blog for your prayers on our behalf.  What a blessing.

Now I’m off to get out all of my maternity clothes as life is about to get much, much larger….

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It’s A…..

HEALTHY BOY!!!!!!!

Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf!  Relief and joy only scratch the surface of what we’re feeling right now.  After the sonographer spent 45 minutes measuring and looking at every tiny inch of our little fella, the doctor came in casually to say, “Well everything looks great!  I’ve been through all the footage and see nothing that would give me cause for concern.  You’re having a healthy baby boy.  Any questions?”

That was it!  No “brace yourself” conversations, no sitting down and going over details.  Just “Looks good!”  WHAT A GIFT!  As soon as I heard, “it’s a boy” during the exam, my heart skipped a bit.  We’ve been blessed with a healthy girl but would we be able to have a son who was healthy?  Praise be to God Almighty for His kindness and favor!

So come this June, we’ll be a family of four.  Dad, Mom, Eliana & Little Mister.  Now the epic name search begins…

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Filed under Evan, Updates

Boy Or Girl??

Today’s the day!  At 11a, our family of three will be at Rex Hospital for my 18-week Level 2 ultrasound.  The docs will be checking every inch of our little one, examining every organ and measuring everything possible.  (One of the hidden blessings of having a baby born with a congenital heart defect, you get lots of amazing ultrasounds for all your other pregnancies.  And they’re all covered!)  We may even be able to get our first 4-D image of Baby Leino #3.

Please join us in praying for the appointment: for our bundle-o-joy to cooperate w/the ultrasound to examine all the organs & such, for peace of mind during the appointment, and for a healthy report.

AND!  If our baby cooperates, we’ll be able to learn whether we’re having a BOY or a GIRL!!!!  I have a hunch.  What’s your vote???

Stay tuned…

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Officially Official

Today we saw our littlest bundle of joy again.  As soon as his/her little body came on the screen, this pregnancy sank in to a whole new level.  There’s a real little person in there!  Our first sonogram a few weeks ago showed just a flickering dot.  Its absolutely amazing how quickly babies develop.  A mere three weeks later and our darling looked human!  We saw legs, arms, spine & a sweet little noggin.  Our official due date is June 4, 2011.  So there you have it.  Its officially official.  We’re having a baby!

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