Tag Archives: peace

Hopeful Expectancy – It’s Time To Start Dreaming Again

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It is no secret that I have struggled with the idea that hope, often times, seems elusive. Pain from trauma, brokenness, grief, mental illness, etc – that pain can be so intense it’s blinding. It removes hope as a word in our vocabulary. It insists that hope for anything beyond the pain isn’t a thing – that it never really was. It ensures we cannot remember what hope even feels like. It says hope isn’t real, at least not for me. I’ve also come to realize that this is dangerous, and false thinking – simply put: hope never goes anywhere. Yes, our life’s experiences that allow for that temporary blindness that makes hope appear to play a mean game of hide and seek – with us consistently losing. I urge you, however, to remember that hope is still real, and it always will be. Yes, I’m speaking to myself as much as the next person reading.

Today, however, something pretty interesting happened. I will explain more specific details in a future post, but I will say this. I was at a very low point today, and – if I’m being honest – the same can be said for plenty of the time recently. I have been questioning the meaning of life, in combination with the actual desire to keep on walking. To keep breathing. It’s been a struggle, trying to simply be, and live with the intensity of the pain. Instead of getting easier to navigate and deal with over the course of time, it’s been getting intensely more difficult. I have questioned my ability to keep fighting. Life shouldn’t be a fight.

Today, I was feeling really very overwhelmed, like giving up – and just, hurting. Instead of forcing myself to deal with it on my own, I reached out to a trusted friend. I will write more about this friend in time, but it became a moment, inspired by God Himself. That is not something I say lightly. But, it is something I say absolutely, with no doubt, was orchestrated by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  Grace took on the form of human connection, and reminded me of hope. And smiles. And laughter. Even tears. But, more than that, reminded me of the life saving grace and love that God offers.

This day especially, I needed this reminder. Had I forgotten who God was, or all He’s done in countless lives, mine included? Absolutely not. Had I been blinded by the pain, so I was unable to see or focus on Him at all? Yes, more than I care to admit.

But, the beauty of it all? Hope arrived. Though it never actually left, it did become real again. I would be lying if I said all was now a bed of roses, and all my thoughts and feelings are suddenly all totally better. I would be telling a tall tale if I told you that I now have it all figured out, due to this magical conversation with a friend. Though, I will say that the conversation was absolutely a tool God used to penetrate some dark places – to shine light on hope again; to allow for hope to arrive. What did happen, was beautiful indeed. I dared to allow myself to hope again.

Then, like a healing balm applied to a painful wound, a word was beginning to take form, and be etched in my heart. Expectancy. More than that, to live with hopeful expectancy. That is a change from where I am right now. It became a moment of deciding to choose not to live life comfortably – a moment where I chose (and will continue to choose) to dismiss the status quo. I realized, I really do want more than just the pain that life has offered. I know there has to be more out there. I will not give up on it.

You see, just last night, I was listening to this same  previously mentioned friend talk about dreaming. That our dreams are possible. While he was speaking, something broke inside me though. It was at that moment that I realized that I do not really have a lot of dreams – big or small. I haven’t been dreaming anymore. This really bothered me. But, I didn’t have the answer – the “how to” on dealing with it.

During my conversation today, though, That word, expectancy – it became real again. It is taking up residence in my heart, and is helping me grow my thinking.  It is helping me believe that not only is hope real, but also that dreaming is possible again. I haven’t really dissected this all that much yet. I haven’t sat down and really put much more thought into it, but I am going to.  I need to be in a different place than I am right now, and I can already tell it will require re-framing of my own thoughts. Re-framing reality even.

So, even though I don’t have it all figured out – I say that’s okay. I have something much greater: hopeful expectancy. That, in combination with my faith in a God who loves – that, is where I believe life change will begin to happen. That is where I see hope growing and thriving. That is where redemptive grace takes hold, and doesn’t let go. For this, I am grateful.

With this, I say, let’s get to dreaming. Never let your dream(s) die. If you aren’t dreaming, it’s time to rekindle the fire that says to not give up, and to never stop dreaming. You’ve got this. I’ve got this. Together, we can change the world. Maybe not the entire world (maybe so though) but we can change our individual world. That is worth hopeful expectation.

Dream big.

When Missing My Baby Turns Into A Conversation On Faith, And Includes God Being Called An Asshole

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This piece appeared just moments ago on my daughters prayer and support (Facebook) page.

This post is going to be one of my birthday gifts to myself. I give myself the strength that surrounds not walking alone – the strength of community. So, I can guess this will probably be a bit long. (What’s new, right!?)  But, today is my birthday (the 24th of August) and this will be an attempt to be real, but also infuse joy. 
Wow. So, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to post. For a chunk of the time, I was sick. But, the rest is the time I was a combination of brokenhearted and simply trying to survive. I know each of you understand, to a degree, that this is the most crazy difficult thing I’ve ever walked through. Excruciating may begin to describe it. 
This last month or so, I’ve been hurting, but also finding myself again. I’m not going to lie – it’s been tough. Watching her take her final breath here on earth was so hard, but it’s the living without her physically here that’s killing me. ūüėĘ 
Yes, the good thing is that she had an incrediblly beautiful and special seven years of a life, well lived. She truly leaves a legacy of love – surrounded by incredible joy – hugs and smiles. #RememberTheLove 
I shared so many photo collages because they are beautiful. She is beautiful. These are a small fraction of the memories I fondly remember. In time, I will share more. Many more. 
She may not be here in the flesh, but she is EVERYWHERE. I see her at every turn. As we do things as a family, or I do things she and I used to do – I pause, remembering fondly, those things — but also with a shattered heart, because no parent should have to utter the words “she would have liked this… we had so much fun, etc.” Past tense. That just sucks. No real better way to explain it. 
Oh, I have to say something while it’s on my heart and mind. Let me put a theory to rest. Some people feel like they shouldn’t talk about Janet, reminisce about her life, even talk about her death, or share the thoughts, curiosities, etc with me.  THIS COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!  PLEASE don’t EVER stop. I may be sad, bit you talking about my baby didn’t make me that way. Her dying wins that trophy. So, please – if you’re sad and miss her, tell me. I’d you are curious how tall she’d be, or how she’d be doing in school, share that with me. If you want too smile and laugh, remembering beautiful moments, do that with me too. I guess all I’m saying is that anything related to my daughter – don’t EVER hesitate to bring up. 
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been on a “me finding” journey. This also includes my faith. If you’ve followed me, or this page for any length of time, then you know that my faith has been my rock – a source of strength when it seems The World is falling apart. Well, that hasn’t changed. It’s more like its evolved. 
About me faith, I found I had the need to own my faith – for it to be able to stand on its own two feet. I knew my faith, and what I believed – but if asked why on certain topics, I realized I had no idea. Why did I believe the way I did? Your guess was as good as mine. When I realized this, I decided this needed to change. So, I’ve been digging deeper, and seeking answers. No longer am I able to follow faith blindly. 
While this is all going on, I’ve been evaluating my feelings and thoughts on faith in general, but also specifically on God. I’m not going to lie here either. There are days I’d kinda rather punch Him in the face. I’ve seen Him as an asshole at times too. Don’t get me wrong. He’s still good. He’s still in control. He’s truly a good, good Father – even when it doesn’t feel like it. See, the “I don’t like God thing” is a personal thing. It happens when I feel like His inaction spoke more volumes than His action did. NO, I do NOT think God GAVE her cancer, or couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger as she fought and then died – but He didn’t. 
What I want you to hear is that I still had the faith I always did, but parts have evolved. Other parts I’m human enough to say I feel were flawed theology. I’m also transparent enough to say I don’t always like God, I do question Him, BUT THAT’S OKAY.  I’ve learned that it’s vital that I FEEL these things. I have to feel them before I can move past them, or whatever the situation dictates. See, I often feel like I disappoint God. However, this is false. This happens when we try to attach human emotions to a God that isn’t human. 
Thankfully, His love for each and every one of us is never ending, and unfailing. 
So, as you can see, I’ve been talking since combination of baby steps mixed with leaps and jumps towards finding myself again, and establishing who I am as a wife, mom, friend, and Christ follower. It’s kinda like a roller coaster. So many ups, downs, twists, turns, hands up in the air screaming – but with hint of joy etched on most faces – or perhaps hidden a little deeper. 
Right now, I hurt but I love. I cry but I smile. My heart is shattered, but the fractured and broken places are where healing is happening, and more light can shine through. I fall, but I pick myself back up – often with the help of friends. I miss my baby girl, but I had 7 incredible years with her here by my side. I often don’t know who I am, or where to turn – but my God doesn’t need a roadmap to find me. Janet us physically gone, but she is everywhere. 
Dear goodness, apologies on the length this has become! I just miss you guys so much. I won’t guarantee that I’ll post every day or any of that, but I will tell you that I’m happy that I feel strong enough to BE back. Thank you for loving Janet, me  and our whole family. For better or worse, we’re figuring out how to do life in the midst of great pain. 
So, for those of you still reading, thank you. Sincerely, my heart has so much gratitude. Please and thank you in advance for continued love, support and prayer. I’m beyond grateful. 

A Time And A Season For All Things

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This picture is one I haven’t always as freely shared. It, however, is a beautiful moment in time. A moment that I have come to cherish so much more than words could ever explain. This little girl blessed lives, mine especially, in tremendous ways. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her smile, hey love, and her “squeezy hugs” she so lovingly shared. I shared the following on her page, and I’d like to share it here as well. I feel these words are important enough that ALL people need to hear them.

I haven’t been silent here on Janet’s page because I wanted to – more because I needed to. Life just kept happening in a way that I had to take a step back, reflect, and just be. I know this is an incredibly beautiful community. A place fill of so much love. You all understand the concept of what #RememberTheLove really means.

Friends, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of brokenness also as to why the absence. As you can imagine, life isn’t ever again going to be what it once was – full of her bright, love-giving smiles and hugs. This, alone, breaks my heart. But, that’s not to say that life doesn’t hold incredibly precious moments.

I will say this also. Both Janet’s life and also her death have taught me powerful lessons on life and love.

You see, I’ve often mentioned the value of another person’s time and the true gift that it’s friendship. It is simply irreplaceable.

I’d like to share a “case in point” example of this scenario in action. What I want to showcase is that – though there is pain attached to these memories and events – there is also an incredible amount of comforting love.

In the months and even years leading up to her death,  so many people surrounded us in love. As those years turned to months, and the months then turned to weeks Рa different kind of people, new and deepening friendships emerged. The last two weeks were beautiful in so many ways. People we never expected became close, like family. They were welcomed with open arms. Desperately needed in those final moments. And, they were there.

In the weeks, now months since Janet passed away,  there has become yet another shift. I have come to realize that some of those friendships were built for just a season. That season, and sadly nothing more Рwhereas, some of these same friendships have stood the tests of time Рand also including death and grief.

There have been many who uttered words that I’ve found myself only wishing they meant – I’ll be here for you – any time, day or night. But, even in those times, I sit back and breathed it all in. I take those (sometimes painful) moments, and I remember whatever season someone said this to me in – thankful again for whatever part they played in our story.

I will tell you this – it is for these reasons that I don’t as often say these words to people. When I do, you can rest, assured that I mean what u say. That kind of offer won’t ever come with an expiration date. Perhaps this is because I know the intense pain of needing someone who once filled a very special place – it maybe just because I love people and see the inherent value of human life.

Whatever the case may be – I want to thank you for the part you’ve played in our journey – before or after Janet passed away — even if you are one who (consciously or otherwise) walked away when you didn’t know how to handle things. This (inaction) doesn’t define the purposeful and special times we did share.

You be you. There’s no-one more qualified to play your part. Just also allow me to be me – learning and growing, grieving and loving. That, after all, is what so much of life is about. To live and be loved.

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And, friends, I meant every word – both there, and here. It is with sincere gratitude I say thank you for sharing and walking through this life with me. I cannot do it alone.

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A Time And A Season For All Things

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This picture is one I haven’t always as freely shared. It, however, is a beautiful moment in time. A moment that I have come to cherish so much more than words could ever explain. This little girl blessed lives, mine especially, in tremendous ways. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her smile, hey love, and her “squeezy hugs” she so lovingly shared. I shared the following on her page, and I’d like to share it here as well. I feel these words are important enough that ALL people need to hear them.

I haven’t been silent here on Janet’s page because I wanted to – more because I needed to. Life just kept happening in a way that I had to take a step back, reflect, and just be. I know this is an incredibly beautiful community. A place fill of so much love. You all understand the concept of what #RememberTheLove really means.

Friends, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of brokenness also as to why the absence. As you can imagine, life isn’t ever again going to be what it once was – full of her bright, love-giving smiles and hugs. This, alone, breaks my heart. But, that’s not to say that life doesn’t hold incredibly precious moments.

I will say this also. Both Janet’s life and also her death have taught me powerful lessons on life and love.

You see, I’ve often mentioned the value of another person’s time and the true gift that it’s friendship. It is simply irreplaceable.

I’d like to share a “case in point” example of this scenario in action. What I want to showcase is that – though there is pain attached to these memories and events – there is also an incredible amount of comforting love.

In the months and even years leading up to her death,  so many people surrounded us in love. As those years turned to months, and the months then turned to weeks – a different kind of people, new and deepening friendships emerged. The last two weeks were beautiful in so many ways. People we never expected became close, like family. They were welcomed with open arms. Desperately needed in those final moments. And, they were there.

In the weeks, now months since Janet passed away,  there has become yet another shift. I have come to realize that some of those friendships were built for just a season. That season, and sadly nothing more – whereas, some of these same friendships have stood the tests of time – and also including death and grief.

There have been many who uttered words that I’ve found myself only wishing they meant – I’ll be here for you – any time, day or night. But, even in those times, I sit back and breathed it all in. I take those (sometimes painful) moments, and I remember whatever season someone said this to me in – thankful again for whatever part they played in our story.

I will tell you this – it is for these reasons that I don’t as often say these words to people. When I do, you can rest, assured that I mean what u say. That kind of offer won’t ever come with an expiration date. Perhaps this is because I know the intense pain of needing someone who once filled a very special place – it maybe just because I love people and see the inherent value of human life.

Whatever the case may be – I want to thank you for the part you’ve played in our journey – before or after Janet passed away — even if you are one who (consciously or otherwise) walked away when you didn’t know how to handle things. This (inaction) doesn’t define the purposeful and special times we did share.

You be you. There’s no-one more qualified to play your part. Just also allow me to be me – learning and growing, grieving and loving. That, after all, is what so much of life is about. To live and be loved.

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And, friends, I meant every word – both there, and here. It is with sincere gratitude I say thank you for sharing and walking through this life with me. I cannot do it alone.

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When Perpetually Suicidal Thoughts Become More

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Take a good look at that picture. You can’t see everything there – but what I want you to see is what a potentially lethal dose of medication looks like. Let that sink in. The meds are legal, and for in the palm of your hand. They are common meds – when used properly, save lives. When not – well the opposite is true. This one small handful of meds could take your life.

You might wonder how I have stumbled upon such information!? Simple. I looked it up. I asked the knowledge whale known as google for a little guidance. I was curious what completed suicides were as a result of specific medications. Medications I have easily within my disposal. I honestly wondered what that looked like. Why the picture/meme then!?¬† Again, a picture tells a story, and this one tells so many people’s story. As I looked at the picture, I realized two things – 1) it scared me and 2) the thought of “how easy it would be” made entirely too much sense. The next morning, I created that meme. I recognized the need to seek help was very real.

I may circle back around to that whole “seeking help” thought process in a moment. However, I’m going to just tell it like it is. Open up the window called transparency and let you see a glimpse inside.

Let’s talk about suicide and suicidal thoughts. You do know there’s a difference, right!? See, a person can have suicidal thoughts and not actually be suicidal. A person walks over the line between the two when a plan starts being concocted. People think about suicide all the time. People think about the meaning of life every day and wish it weren’t so painful. Neither thought makes them suicidal.

On the flip side, people also create plans to carry out suicides – to find a way to escape whatever painful reality they desperately seek relief from – every day as well. This, though, is a game changer. This is that moment where reaching out is vital. The suicidal person cannot see beyond the here and now. They cannot grasp the concept or even possibility of hope being real. People sometimes experience whatever makes up their own personal hell, and simply feel as if they cannot take the pain any longer.

At this point – or perhaps immediately upon reading the title – you might be wondering where this is coming from, or why now. My next question is why NOT now. Suicide is not a pretty word. It conjures up some (quite likely) painful thoughts. The stigma that surrounds mental health topics (suicide being only one in a vast ocean of others) cannot diminish if we cannot talk about it. It may be hard, but the conversation will be worth it.

Ask me how I know.

I want you to know something. First and foremost, I want you to know that I am not suicidal. Note my language again. I’m not suicidal. I do, however, have suicidal thoughts. I think much of the population would – if they’re being honest – admit having had suicidal thoughts at one point or another. I want to circle back to stigma again. What’s sad is that someone currently having, or having had suicidal thoughts IS NOT a secret needing to be hidden. It’s not something people should have to ADMIT TO, as if it’s a dirty little sin.

Okay, so back to my breaking the silence about my own suicidal thoughts. Yes, they happen. Yes, they’re real. No, they’re not happy. No, they’re not fun. They’re scary at times. However, I am able to separate myself from the thoughts. I can look at the thoughts, and I can know they exist. There have been moments where it’s been difficult to grasp onto the reality that things will ever be okay again – let alone good. In those moments, it is vital to remember that, though currently elusive, hope is most definitely real. Though the clouds in a dark and gloomy sky may hide that hope, all hope is not lost. I have to remember that the sun will break through the clouds, and it will shine again. Maybe not today, but tomorrow brings with it the potential of sunshine – of hope.

There are times where I feel like my heart is shattered. Times where I feel broken, almost beyond repair. I’m not though.

And neither are you.

Now, let me take a moment and address you. Yes, you. That person who knows nothing other than how to hide behind a mask. That person who believes that hope is a good theoretical topic, but isn’t for them. That person who looks I’m the mirror and doesn’t know or like the person starting back.

That person. I want to talk to them. And so should you. Take a moment and look for signs. I know you’re busy, but someone’s life is worth it.

If you ARE that person, welcome. Welcome to the conversation you never saw yourself having, but are going to be grateful that someone cared enough to have. Buckle up, and hold on. I will tell you things that you need to hear, but may not be inclined to believe. Your eyes may be clouded by the depression that catches your gaze instead. In that case, I simply want you to hear my words. You’re listening – really listening, yes?

Okay, these things I need you to hear. You are a living, breathing story. The Storm you are walking through will not last forever. It may be painful, even seemingly unbearable, as you walk the path. Though, soon, the eye of the storm will pass by. It’ll be scary, and it’ll teach you the meaning of living through pain. However, you’ll soon just look around and realize that you made it. You’re still alive. As time and distance come between you and the storm, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that you’re actually GRATEFUL that you made it – that you’re alive. You’ll look down at your scars, and you’ll immediately think of that scary storm – but, much to your surprise – you’ll see the scars for what they are. Your scars tell a story. They tell your story. They show the very real pain associated with your storm. They’ll also remind you that where there is a scar, there is some form of healing also present. You’ll look at those scars and see that they represent healing and strength. You’ll be able to see them for what they are – a reminder of that storm, but also a reminder of the strength and healing.

You know, you might have just laughed as you kept reading. I know that you may chuckle when someone is amusing enough to actually write out such words. You believe that those words might be great for other people, but can’t hold onto them as truth for yourself. You see, I understand how you think. I AM you.

However, I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that you can take a break from your thoughts, and be gentle with yourself. Know that your story matters. Know that YOU matter. It may hurt right now, but it won’t hurt forever. You may not be able to see beyond the pain, but please allow me to be a voice that speaks hope. Let that hope be fueled by love and wrap itself around you like a hug.

You and I. Maybe we are broken, but no one is telling us we can’t be broken together. Take my hand. Look me in the eye and see the hope in mine. When you can’t find yours, please borrow some of mine. I guarantee there will be times I will return the favor. Please know how much you mean to me. Please don’t go anywhere. Please stay. I need you to be my voice of hope during the moments I feel like I can’t hold on.

Hear my words. I need you and you need me. We need each other, you and I. As we walk along this path called life, take my hand. Help me walk – one for in front of the other – when I’m not even sure I can breathe. Let me do the same for you.

Together.

Let’s be broken together.

We Hurt Because We Love

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I think this title is self explanatory. I also believe that it needs explaining. To make this very real and expose a few more of my own emotions, I’d like to share a bit about our personal journey – about the pain, loss and love.

As yesterday’s post made it painfully evident, my daughter has passed away. I can barely utter these words, let alone write them. That said, I want to concentrate on an idea that resonates deep within me.

Our pain wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t first loved. ¬†Where there is great pain, there is a great volume of love.

It’s true. I loved my daughter with more words than are in existence. As such, I grieve her passing with more pain and hurting than words as well. The life she lived – though short – was incredible. And full of love. If you were to ask 100 people who knew Janet what the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of her, at least 90 of them would say her smile. This child loved and breathed happy. ¬†No matter what she faced. This was made possible, in large part, due to love. She was surrounded by love, and made it her life’s mission to also love others. It is that love that makes her absence in physical form that much more painful. We love her, and we miss her. However, her love yet remains. It always will.

At what became her final moments of life here on Earth, she had many very profound things to share. She knew that people would be sad, but didn’t want them to stay in that sadness forever. Instead, she requested that everyone Remember The Love. And, though it is also etched with pain, remembering that love is our life’s mission. Love others. Be loved. Be the love our world needs. Yes, there will be pain – but it will be matched with love. Allow that love to lead and guide you instead of the pain alone.

With Childlike Faith – Fighting Childhood Cancer

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My daughter has such heart. She has a joy and just the positive spirit that she takes with her everywhere! This little girl has a smile that will light up any room. Her no-nonsense and innocent look at life is heartwarming beyond words. Children, especially those fighting big battles, just have a different perspective than anyone else alive does.

With all this said, I’d like to fill you in on some of the details of our recent history.

As you may have heard by now, our little Janet’s cancer is back, and things don’t look good in a lot of areas. First, I am going to share all that with you – then I am going to tell you were we stand on everything about to be mentioned.

We all knew that it was a possibility that her cancer could one day come back. No one, and I mean no one thought it would so soon. Dealing with a recurrent / metastatic cancer is not good. Learning that she will endure cranio spinal radiation for over a month (every weekday) is also not fun. The follow on treatment will be an outpatient chemo therapy regimen.

Let me explain her treatment plan. For four and a half weeks, Janet will undergo radiation therapy. This time, there will be mostly proton beam radiation, with “normal” radiation a few times. There are said to be normally more side effects with this because a different type of radiation, as well as a larger part of her being treated. The goal of hre radiation is to shrink and make disappear the tumors… also to preferably kill their opportunity to every even possibly return.

After radiation, the protocol is that she will go through an outpatient chemo therapy regimen. This will include daily (Monday through Friday) outpatient chemo. One week. Then, she’ll have approximately 2-3 weeks off, and then do the same thing again. Aside from that, every two weeks, she’ll have a one hour outpatient chemo administered – separate from the others. As I have learned, this chemo therapy regimen is more aimed as being palliative support, or a quality of life kind of thing – as versus curative.

If you’re like 99.99% of everyone else reading this, you may be wondering about alternative protocols or treatment options. You may have suggestions on where else we can seek treatment on behalf of our little Janet. I want you to know, we have gotten multiple second opinions – from the nations leading hospitals and have involved the nation (I’d say even the world’s) top medical minds in this situation, and in her care – simply because her tumor / cancer IS one of a kind. Nothing like it exists in the world. I spoke with another hospital again today, and heard the exact same news as all others have said – St. Louis Children’s Hospital has her with a protocol they’re comfortable with, would recommend themselves, and has state of the art equipment. There are other alternative therapies that we are also looking into, just to ensure we do all that we can to help our little princess do her best.

The entire point I am making is that we have faith and confidence in Janet’s medical team here at Children’s. Never did we doubt them. We sought second opinions just to ensure everyone was on the same page. We do NOT like the page everyone is on, but there is a certain amount of peace knowing that the medical minds agree – as to both what we’re looking at, as well as treatment options, etc.

Now, with all that said, I want you to know that we have not given up – and we will not EVER give up. In fact, we KNOW without even the shadow of a doubt that our God is greater than ANY cancer, any tumor, or any issue Janet faces. Regardless of what the situation looks like, we KNOW that God IS in control. His hands are clearly seen in just about every aspect of this journey. That’s not to say that Him being in control makes it any easier to deal with — but it does make it easier to walk through. We don’t LIKE the situation Janet is in right now, but we do trust God 100% with her situation, and her very life. All of our lives. Her life, and her battle with cancer is part of a bigger story – one bigger than her, than us, or than anyone can imagine. I have that faith. What exactly that means, I do not know. However, I do know that I am grateful to have the strength that comes from the living God we trust. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I refuse to allow the fear (like I’ve said before) to rob and steal the joy from today.

For those of you inclined to pray, know that your thoughts and prayers are valued.

What It Looks Like To Lose Your Identity – From Bipolar To Cancer Mom To…

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As this title might elude to, I’m about to share a little bit about what it looks like inside my head. Buckle up. This is going to be a fun ride.

My blog has not been active in some time. I’m not going to make some promises to post a certain amount a week or month, or anything really. I am going to write from my heart. It may be multiple times a day, and it may be only once in a blue moon. What I can tell you is that I have been struggling – not for words, but to figure out who I am. Let me explain.

As you know, or may not know, my five year old daughter has been fighting cancer. She had a brain tumor removed from her head. She had daily radiation for six weeks, and she then had a high dose chemo therapy regimen. To make a long story short, they threw all they had at it, with the hopes that something was the right answer. You see, the cancer she had growing was literally thought to be one of a kind. Her tumor and info was sent all over the place, in search of second, third or tenth opinions. We’re talking worldwide experts. No name for this unique thing. As such, we held our breath, and above all else, prayed. This past January, she completed treatment! Thank God! In February, her scans showed no evidence of the disease. It showed the cancer didn’t appear to have even ever been there! Again, thanking God!! Then, in May, her scans showed spots on her spine. Those spots were consistent with drop metastasis. In other words, it looked like a cancer that had metastasized and spread to her spine. But, there was a silver lining – it also might NOT be that. It could just be enlarged blood vessel(s) and we had no way of knowing for sure at that point. Even if it WAS cancer, it would have been too small to do anything with, or biopsy, etc. So, we wait. Three months, and we wait. Tomorrow, actually, she will have more scans to look and see what we are dealing with – which, obviously, we hope is nothing. In fact, our prayer is to have the scans, and see NONE of the spots previously seen.

That was the back and lead up explanation to what I am about to share with you. I can pretty much say that I am a picture perfect example of what it looks like to lose your identity.

One more back story. Many of you know, and some of you don’t. However, instead of hiding behind a mask of “everything is okay all the time” I want to be transparent about something. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Okay, fine. Go look it up. No, wait…it’s best you don’t. That said, it’s something – just the diagnosis – that I struggled with for a very long time. Years. Until recent history that I really figured out that it was just a diagnosis. It was not me. It is part of who I am, but not my identity. At least I thought. I do struggle with depression. I have also learned that I’m not alone in that. Depression is a real thing. It affects more people than you’d realize, or even care to think about. It hurts. Again, it became my identity for some time.

So, through these two examples alone, you can see that my life is definitely not boring. There are times, I long for a much more boring time.

The issue and problem is that we often will allow life’s circumstances – those curveballs that life tosses our direction – we often allow those things to define us. They become who we are. They become our identity. Then, when life changes, or circumstances take on a different shape, we tend to lose a part of ourselves. At least, it’s clear that I do. Let me explain.

When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I became a cancer mom. I became a cancer awareness fighter. I became a voice for children who battle childhood cancer. I became a person who spent more time in the hospital, even during holidays, than at home – at least it seemed at times. I realized that we had almost a second home away from home. Childhood cancer. It was who we became, and the fight we fought. We lived and breathed it (through all the tests, scans, hospital stays) with every breath. Then, THANK GOD, my daughter had clean scans. No evidence of the disease. No more daily / weekly / monthly tests, scans, radiation, chemo, etc. No more hospital stays. No more cancer, right now. Of course, I was elated. Beyond all measure. My daughter was free to live, breathe and run around and just well, be a kid! Yes, she would struggle with the aftermath of having had radiation and chemo, but she was HERE. She is alive!

But, now what!? Now where do I go? Now, who am I? These are all questions I never actually ASKED, but realized were present – asking themselves. I have come to realize that my identity was set in those things. It, rightfully so, consumed my days. Now, though – now that she is not fighting this disease, what’s a girl to do? I have to embrace this “new normal” as life again. I have to figure out what our current “normal” is and go from there. I won’t lie. It’s not easy. It is, however necessary.

I have, just in the past couple of days, sat down. With myself, and with my thoughts. I dug deep, and thought clearly – back to a time where I felt okay, good even. What I came to realize wasn’t shocking, but it was good to remember. I was the happiest when I was reaching out to others. When I took my own time, and gave it to others. When I took time, became a volunteer, and just reached out to others – helping THEM smile, it helped me. My hurting heart was calm again. It would bring me joy to see joy in someone else’s face. To know I had made a difference – that made a difference in ME.

So, two days ago, I went back to one place where I have felt me. I went to the YMCA. We have long since (over a year) not had a membership. Recently, my husband lost his job, and so a YMCA membership was something we couldn’t fathom, let alone afford. Still, though, I had to connect. I asked if I could volunteer again. I asked if I could just reach out, even during times that I might be hurting, because people (myself included) need people. I mentioned that I know God created us as community people, and I need that too. So, I turned in a volunteer application packet, and will soon be able to volunteer. I guess, to some, it may seem odd to be so excited about the ability to donate my time to make a difference in this community, and in other people’s lives. But, it isn’t at all silly. It’s real. I firmly believe that the heart of a hurting person can be brought so much joy from reaching out and serving others in such a way that life becomes about someone other than themselves.

I’ve learned that I may not have a rock solid identity, but I do know that there are things that make a difference. My purpose, through it all, however, remains. My purpose is to share smiles, and to share hope. It is to realize that in my not being alone, NO ONE in the world needs to feel alone. People – every person alive or dead – is or has a story. Every person alive is a living breathing story. Their story matters. Their life matters. THEY matter. That, and their story isn’t finished being written yet! The current chapter is JUST ONE chapter in a much larger – yet to be completed – book.

If you made it this far in reading this blog post, know that you have my gratitude. If you are hurting and not sure what your purpose in life is or where to find your identity, hold on. You’re still there. You’re still you. Don’t give up. YOUR life matters. Your hopes and dreams matter. Your story isn’t finished. Don’t give up! If you are hurting, or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Know, also, that I’m happy to talk it out if you’d like to post below or send me a message via my “contact me” page. I am grateful to not do life alone, and would be honored to walk alongside you in your journey as well!

Never Doubt The Power Of A Spoken Word

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I just wanted to take a moment to share something that has become very important in my life.  People.  More specifically, connecting with people.

I want to share something with you because I feel that the entire universe needs to take this to heart.  Your words matter.  Words carry so much weight.  Something you may not think twice about may change the entire trajectory of a persons day.

Let me take you into the wonderful world of my life recently. ¬†Things have ¬†not been awesome. ¬†To be honest, I have been pretty exhausted – all the way around. ¬†But, it has been through connecting with people that I have been truly blessed. ¬†Let’s take today, for example.

The past 24 hours or so just have not been the stuff dreams are made of.  There has been stress, hurt, heartbreak, unsolicited drama, etc.  But, there has also been peace, love, hope, healing, forgiveness and grace.  The fact that I had a not so awesome day is not what I am trying to spotlight here. What I am trying to explain is how the people in my life made a difference.

At one point, I reached out to a friend and just chatted. ¬†I explained how my day had gone, and I was simply real and honest. ¬†In return, I did not get a “oh, don’t worry sweetie, everything will be okay” response. ¬†Instead, I got a “talk to me. ¬†I don’t personally understand what you’re going through, but I am here to listen” sort of reply. ¬†I was encouraged, and I was blessed. ¬†

Through the kind words of friends just taking the time to be there, God infused peace, strength and joy where it was severely lacking previously.

The one thing I hope you take away from this is that your words Рwhat you choose to say to someone Рreally matter.  Take the time to speak life.  Share love.  Be the friend you would like to have. Give the gift of yourself as a friend.  The blessing cannot be measured!

Faith In The Struggle

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Your faith will be illuminated, especially in the midst of a struggle. No matter what the situation – good or bad, whatever faith you propose to have — it is that faith that people will see. How you respond in the struggle will be a true test of what level of faith and trust you have in the Maker of all of creation.

My life recently has been turned upside down. I am struggling in a way that I don’t even always understand. As I find myself walking down this new path that I certainly didn’t ask for, I do find my faith being strengthened. I don’t understand what all is happening, but I love a God larger than life. Regardless of the struggle, He is faithful. He is good, and that is never changing.

Does that mean I like where I am, or what’s going on? Not at all. Am I grateful that God is able to use even this for a greater purpose? Yes, that I can answer yes to.

What is my struggle, you may be wondering? Let me share…

We found out two weeks ago today that my four year old daughter had a brain tumor. Talk about unexpected. There was the thought that she had a viral illness, and nothing more. Certainly not this. She underwent surgery to remove it a week and a half ago. The surgery was successful, and it appears that they got it all. That is the really good news. The fact that it’s aggressive and rapidly spreading – not so much. So, even though they got it all, it’s quite likely that she’ll have to go through chemo and/or radiation as well.

I wrote the following few thoughts four days after she was admitted at the hospital:

It’s really a hard thing sometimes – maintaining faith in the middle of some unimaginable emotions and situations. I have faith in a God larger than life. He created my little girl, and He knows her – from the inside out. He knows exactly what she needs, and how to take care of her. No matter what she (or any of us) goes through, He gets it. His love for her is strong, and never failing.

I know I sound like I’m preaching – and I guess to a point, I am. My thought pattern is this – regardless of what’s going on in that little body of hers, God is still in control. I don’t have to understand or even like what’s going on, but He is definitely in control. He is holding her safely in the palm of His hand.

My faith is strong, and I pray will remain unshaken. I hope that I can continue to see this through the lens of faith, and perspective of His amazing love.

Faith in the struggle. Struggle allows you too realize that things don’t always go as planned. In the midst of a struggle, though, it is okay for things to not always be okay. The key when things aren’t going as planned is to just know with certainty that God’s got this… Yes, even this.

As you can imagine, things are very tough right now. It’s odd, because it’s almost as if my heart is simultaneously broken and filled with hope, all in one. What I can say is this though. God is still good, and that fact remains. Please know how much we value your friendship, support, encouragement and especially – your prayers. Grateful beyond words.