Tag Archives: prayer

What My Broken Heart Wants You To Know This Mother’s Day

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As the mother of four children, I say Happy Mother’s Day. To those of you scratching your head, wondering if I can do math, let me explain.

I have four children. I have two boys who I’m incredibly proud of. Two boys with so much to offer the world. Two boys that keep me going. Then I have a little girl we never got to see take a breath this side of Heaven. Many don’t consider a baby lost during pregnancy to be a child. But, from the moment that little baby started growing inside me – from the moment that heart started beating, I was mama to her – even if we didn’t know her outside my body. I was no less a mother. Then I have a beautiful princess – now residing in Heaven. For those new to my blog, my 7 year old little girl fight brain cancer for three years before taking her final breath this side of Heaven in February, 2016. She’s not here, and I miss her like crazy.

I am eternally grateful for the kids I’ve been blessed with. Those here on earth, and those whose home is Heaven. There is, however, a hole in my heart that is impossible to fill with anything else. Ever. I am going to let my heart have a voice today. Let my heart share a few things.

As shattered as my heart is, it still loves. It still beats – though it often feels like I need to remind it to beat again some days. But, even though there is a love so passionate, there is a counterpart called pain. My heart hurts. It aches.

Let me talk to you a bit about what Mother’s Day is to me. This day is as excruciating as it is beautiful. There is nothing that denies the incredible love. That cannot be erased. But to deny the existence of a broken heart is just unfair.

Mother’s Day does make me think fondly on the gift that motherhood is. I’m blessed to be given the honor of being trusted with the title of Mama. It also, however, reminds me of the empty space that those residing in Heaven used to fill. Though I love them greatly, I ache at merely the thought of the rest of this lifetime without them. I try not to dwell on it, but it’s impossible not to. Especially with all the memories and life moments that surround me each and every day.

Focusing on the little girl who we had seven years of a well lived life with, this is what I need you to know.

I need you to remember her. Not just that, but I need you tell me. I like to hear people reminisce about happy memories with her. No amount of you talking about her will bring me pain. I will not miss her any more than I already do. You talking about her won’t remind me that she’s gone – it will remind me that you remember her life – that she lived — not just that she died.

Tell me you miss her. That you hurt too. Tell me you’ll never forget her. If you never actually knew her, that’s okay. Remind me she was real, and so very loved. She was and always will be loved.

I need you to also just know that I hurt. Please don’t try to fix me. No amount of reminding me how grateful I should be because I still have the boys will ever change the fact that my heart is shattered. Yes, there is strength in those reminders – but they don’t stay pain. It isn’t possible for you to take away my pain.

What can you do?

You can offer to just sit with me in the pain. Acknowledge that it’s okay to not always be okay – and just know that I might not be feeling very okay any given moment. I might be – but might not be. Just sit with me. Allow me to just BE. Allow me the freedom to feel. To feel whatever I feel in that moment. Sometimes I feel love, hope, compassion and grace – while other times I feel quite the opposite.

I should note that sitting with me doesn’t just mean physically. It means online. Offline. Wherever.

Take the time to talk to me. Ask how I’m doing – but care enough really listen. If I tell you flippantly that “I’m good” that might be the truth, or it may be me begging you to dig deeper. I may mean it when I say I’m fine, or I may just find that easier than explaining how much I hurt and watching you squirm – not knowing how to handle me.

Another thing I need you to hear.

I know that you don’t know what to say. Truth be told, I’m glad you don’t know the pain associated with losing a child. I don’t expect you to have the perfect thing to say. Note – there isn’t magical or perfect thing anyone can say. And that’s okay. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing. Just tell me you’re with me. Tell me you care. Just allow your presence to be a friend.

Oh, and I know I may step on toes here, and I promise that is not my intent. But you need to understand that no loss you know (a parent, grandparents, cats or dogs, birds or fish – even a child) will equate to mine. I don’t pretend that you don’t hurt – but it’s not the same. It can’t be. My pain is not worse than yours. It’s just different. To tell me that you know how I feel because your dog died simply doesn’t compute. Don’t get me wrong. I totally validate your pain and know it’s very real. I only stipulate it isn’t mine. It’s yours. You don’t get it, and I’m glad.

So, on this day, as all days – these are just a few things I want you to remember. But especially on Mother’s Day, remember that if I’m not full of joy – there are valid reasons and explanations. If I am okay, let’s celebrate that together cause it may not be that way long. But it may be. 

Just – you be you. I’ll be me. We can be broken together.

#RememberTheLove

The Power In Music – Zealand Worship, Citizen Way, and MercyMe Concert

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Music is powerful. That is more than a statement, and music truly is more than a song. Many artists freely admit that their songs stem from their own stories. They write from their own heart – which often contains unimaginable pain. To the naked eye, these songs are just pretty music with nice words. This is where I challenge things. Not that those thoughts are wrong, but I’d simply like to add. A song allows the artist to tell a story – and that story may include pain, hope, sadness, joy or a myriad of other emotions. But, it tells a story and that story resonates with different people on different levels – but does do Aggy whatever step on this journey through life they are taking.

To share a practical example of this principle in action, I’d like to share a personal moment with you. I was invited to a concert to see Zealand Worship, Citizen Way, and MercyMe live. Part of me wanted so much to go, but the other part of me wrestled with this. I was physically tired, and not feeling like getting out of bed after the late afternoon nap I couldn’t avoid. But, my choice to go and to be with friends for a night if music won that battle. I went. And I’m glad.

To further explain just the significance of those moments in time…

To backtrack a slight bit, I’ll briefly tell you why I was in the mood and frame of mind that I was. As you may or may not know, we lost a baby through miscarriage, and also seven years later – we lost our precious 7 year olddaughter Janet after a very courageous battle with what we’d learn was terminal brain cancer. I’ve lost friends and military unit members to suicide. I’ve experienced abuse, and know the effects of trauma. I know the pain of depression and the effects of mental illness.

I was thinking, mostly about missing my little girl since her death is still so fresh. (She passed away Feb. 13, 2016.) But, those thoughts brought up so many more. Thoughts of brokenness. Thoughts of pain. Thoughts of hope and love – often hidden or elusive. I really wasn’t okay.

In those moments, I really wasn’t okay. I wasn’t actually suicidal. But, I’d be lying if I told you that living through this kind of personal hell on earth can be seemingly impossible. I was thinking about life being unfair, and seeming so broken, almost beyond repair. I was thinking about life after death. I was thinking about seeing my daughter, and so many others who have gone before and after her. Thinking of the epic reunion that would be.

But, the thought of going to a concert again won. I had attended several concerts with Janet. She adored music as well, and could sing right along to many songs. Songs with messages. I had to remember that. I had to go and see what messages I would hear. I wondered if there would be anything spoken or otherwise delivered that could still touch my shattered heart. I may have had doubts there, but the desire was there for a reason.

Love, comfort, peace and strength were just a few of those reasons.

The first band to take the stage was Zealand Worship. I had never seen them before. Their words and their songs were spot on. They made me smile, and wish for a CD. To see the raised hands (the bands, but countless others around the arena) in worship did something. It sparked a memory of love – if a time in life that did know pain, but more accurately also knew tremendous hope.

The next band to walk on stage was Citizen Way. This band is one I met roughly five or six years ago at A Christmas concert. At the time, my daughter hasn’t even been diagnosed with cancer, but life still knew pain. At the time, they spoke words directly from God to me heart. This concert was no different. In fact, meaningful took on a whole new meaning. Ben Calhoun (from the band) spoke so many words that my heart grabbed onto. But, when he started to talk about the pain and trains behind some of the passion in their music, I held onto every word. You see, he and his wife had to say goodbye to a son (Jeremiah) that they never had the opportunity to know this side of Heaven. They may have had the opportunity to hold him, and to experience death in a strong, personal, and very real way. When Ben related how he felt His God was speaking to him – that, that grabbed hold of my heart. God’s warm and loving hands were holding Jeremiah in His hands. From Ben and his wife’s hands, directly into the hands of God. That thought brought me so much peace and comfort in that very moment. It helped me see my own story in a similar light – as I had a similar experience with pregnancy loss, but also in the death of my seven year old princess. Citizen Way’s songs just spoke to my heart than they ever had before. They spoke to my heart on a personal level. They were instrumental in the tears in my eyes being happy instead of painful tears.

After Zealand Worship and Citizen Way were finished, I wondered what more was in store – what ways God could use music notes and words from a page to bring peace, comfort, strength, and love to this broken heart. To this depressed and hurting (proud to be recognized as) child of God. So, I opened my heart to the possibility of hope being real again, even of life having purpose once again. For love to hold me. So, there I remained – now with renewed expectancy. Next up was the final band of the evening.

The final band to bless the arena with its presence, and to share the heart of God with the same kind of passion of the two bands on stage before them, was MercyMe. Their lead singer, Bart Millard spoke from his heart – sharing so much pain and yet so much hope and peace in spite of the hurts. As a case in point example, he spoke of a venerable part of his story with such heartbreaking transparency – to an audience around six thousand, give or take. He shared the original hell on earth he lived as he endured verbal and physical abuse from his father – from someone who should have been busy protecting his heart, not crushing it. Then he shared the real miracle. His father came to know Jesus as the Lord and Savior of his life. Though skeptical, he watched his father’s heart and entire life surrender to Christ. Through that process, he was able to forgive his father, and a relationship built on love was permitted instead of one surrounded by painful memories. He even said he hopes to be like him when/if he ever grows up. (Bart, for what it’s worth – I don’t think you ever need to be concerned with you ever growing up. I don’t believe that’s a thing – it even possible! But you are a man with a heart like it sounds like your father finally came to know – – one of so much love and compassion.)

I’ll now circle back to my own thoughts, feelings and emotions that evening. There were thoughts of pain and hurting, of not wanting to live life this way, and of wishing for escape – that point where hope seems elusive. You can know in your head that how was never lost, but convincing your heart to believe it – sometimes very difficult. So I went there to spend time with dear friends, but left with so much more. I went to what I knew would be nice – maybe even encouraging music. What I did not expect was the very real infusion of hope and love right back into my heart. God’s love, largely in part due to the words and messages in the songs and spoken words, was able to permeate more broken places in what I feel is my shattered heart. But, what I realized was that He is still God. He is still good. And, He is still in control. No amount of pain or loss will ever take that away. He holds every single shattered piece of my heart (and yours too, if it’s broken) in the palm of His loving hands – close to His heart. I found myself falling in love with the heart again in such a sweet way.

So, if you’re a musician, songwriter, or anyone (from all thees venues, staff, and all members of the bands) who makes this possible – thank you. Don’t EVER doubt your worth – personally or as a team. What you do matters, and is life changing – life saving even. I may never have the opportunity to personally meet you. But, if I did, I’d consider it an honor to just look you in the eyes and say thank you. To say job well done. To say I’m proud of you for stepping outside your respective comfort zones and sharing intimate details of your life, and allowing those details (even the pain) to bring hope and healing while allowing countless others (myself included) to know they aren’t alone. Ever. Through anything.

Thank you for helping me remember these things.

If you are a fellow music lover such as myself, I want you to also hear these words. You are not alone. It’s okay to not always be okay. But, it’s also okay to allow yourself the freedom that comes with also allowing yourself to feel joy. No matter where you are in life, or what personal hell you’re going through, you don’t have to experience life alone. Please don’t believe the lie that tells you you’re alone, or that no one could possibly understand. No one can understand your specific brand of pain – bit they can relate on a universal level – that pain hurts. Allow others in. If this is you and if you’re hurting, please reach out. Talk to someone – a trusted friend, your pastor, your family, a counselor or therapist, or right here on the internet. Speak and be known. Feel free to reach out here and post in comments or send me a message via the contract me option. I’ll look forward to connecting and sharing life with you. Yes, I mean that. And yes, I’m still talking to you. You – you are loved and hope is real. Rescue is possible.

To everyone reading, a side note – May is a number of things, but two of them are near and dear to my heart. May holds title of brain cancer and also mental health awareness. So, as such – take the time to surround anyone you know (especially those fighting brain or any cancer) With love. Take the time to get to know people on more than skin deep levels. Let people know you’re willing to walk with them, or sour together in the pain. You have no idea the impact you can have or the absolute fact that you could potentially be saving a life. Even when you know a person, unless they choose to take off the mask, you may not fully know them. Be that for someone else, and allow someone the honor of being that for you. You be you, and know you’re loved. Right where you are. No questions asked. You ate a human being, worthy of so much love and grace. Again, you be you – your the best person to play your part.

For a slideshow videos of more pictures from this event, please feel free to check this link out. Concert pictures on YouTube

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.

A Lot Can Happen In A Year

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If the truth is known, I have no idea even where to start. I came to realize it has been a long time since I have shared here on this page. Too long. Over a year. As such, I also know it’s not wisdom to make some promise to write every day, or heck – even every week.  Though I might do that, I reserve the right to also say that I might not.  What I do know is that I have missed sharing life with you.  So, as such, I want to share where things are right now. This may not be a very long post today.

For those of you unaware, my life and my family’s lives were thrown upside down about this same time, three years ago. We were notified that our little Janet (then 4 years old) had an aggressive brain tumor.  Three years ago, our lives changed. For three years, she courageously fought a disease that would eventually claim her life.  Yes, her life. At 7 years old, my little girl breathed her last breath this side of Heaven. She passed away February 13, 2016 – just over two short but excruciating long months ago.

Truth be told, much of the previous year was dedicated to fighting childhood cancer alongside her. Now that she is gone, that fight is far from over. I proudly stand with others who are fighting, rejoice with those who have finished treatment and live to share their stories, remember the heroes who have their ultimate and eternal healing, and pray for all who stand beside them. None who walk this path are alone. This is a fight that I continue to fight – not just because my daughter died – but also to help ensure other families do not have to walk this same heartbreak.

If you have played a part in our journey – whether small or huge – know that you are greatly appreciated. Please continue to share your love and support – your thoughts and your prayers. They sincerely mean so much.

 

Not Being Alone – Grateful For Phils Friends

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Something I continue to talk about is not being alone. This journey is so much easier to walk through knowing there are others who love our four year old (and us) and care. From the very beginning, I determined this is nothing I was willing to do alone, or to allow her to do alone.

As such, we were blessed to be able to connect with an organization that reaches out to cancer patients of all ages. This organization, Phil’s Friends has been instrumental in blessing SO many people, or family included. Phil, who started Phils Friends after his own fight with cancer not once, but twice, has a heart of gold. His testimony is such an inspiration to us. God’s love and peace was so much a part of his healing, of his story, he started this organization with the hopes of reaching others who are struggling with this. His faith was strengthened through this process, and he aims to share the same strength and hope with anyone through this organization.

A few weeks ago, Janet received a care package from Phils Friends. I posted pictures at the time. It came at the perfect timing. In the times since, we’ve aligned with this organization to help them share hope in any way possible. They have brought Janet (and countless others) so many smiles. Smiles do a body good!!

Anyway, that said – Phil was in town with his family this past weekend. Janet and I had the honor of meeting him and his family. There were hugs and many smiles. In the picture, you’ll see a semi-funny picture not seemingly related. It just shows Phil’s heart. My air was low in my tire, so he insisted that he help me – as he wanted to make sure we were safe. So, he helped out. So, I had to take a picture. Anyway, Phil actually brought a special care package for Janet to give to one of her special new friends at the hospital. What better time, cause her next inpatient stay starts tomorrow!

I would consider it an honor if you would repost and/or share this with anyone in your sphere of influence. Go to their page, like it, and let them know we sent you! More than that, let others know about them. You can find out more at their website as well.  If you aren’t local, they will mail care packages out. If you know anyone who could use some love and hope, please connect them with the page. If you feel inclined to sponsor or help in any other way, please also connect with them. If absolutely nothing else, please pray for them as they reach out to others.

The Hardest Kind Of Prayer To Pray

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If someone were to ask you if praying is hard for you, what would you say? I don’t know about you, but sometimes prayer time is hard for me. It is, simply because I’m learning that my will and God’s will don’t always coincide. The things I want sometimes aren’t what is His will. So, for me at least, I’ve identify one of the hardest kinds of prayers to pray as the UNSELFISH prayer – the one where you ask for God’s will to be done, and actually mean it.

I have a “for instance” example, as a carry over from yesterday’s post really. My daughter is fighting a rare and aggressive cancer. We are about to go to the hospital where she will be admitted for chemo therapy. She is four. I don’t get it, and certainly don’t understand why. When I pray, my prayer has been for her healing. For her to be cancer free, and not live with any amount of cancer in her body. None. However, I have also been praying all this is according to God’s will. A service at church, in combination with some sweet heartfelt words from a friend, made me dig deeper and realize that His will and mine aren’t always the same. Well, no kidding. However, if I pray for His will, I better accept and understand that it may not go the way I want. In this particular case, that may mean that my child may not live to adulthood. That is a heartbreaking and sobering thought on the one hand. However, on the other hand, there is great joy in realizing that she’ll get to commune with Jesus – that she would get to lay her head on His lap, and rest in the arms of Jesus. Something purely peaceful and joyous about that. I DO NOT want this as our story, BUT if it is to happen, I’ve realized that it’s best to not live in dread or fear of it.

I encourage you to pray with diligence. Ask and believe for God’s will to be done. There is nothing wrong with hoping that His will DOES match up with yours, but understand that it may not always. During the times that His will and yours aren’t the same, take a moment and pray for peace in the process. It won’t always be easy, but it will be rewarding. It is hard to see peace or joy when your situation seems hopeless, but I assure you – it is possible.

I encourage you to surround yourself with people who care about you, and who are willing to walk through life with you – through whatever you are facing. When you are struggling, or just don’t know how to handle the situation, pray. Ask others for help. Never be afraid to reach out. Help is there. Hope is real.

Please feel free to connect with me. You can send me a message via the “contact me” link, or by leaving a comment below. I monitor all methods of contact.

Denial – That Land That Leads To Hurting And Hope

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Recently, I have had much time to thing. Ponder things. One such thing includes the much sought after question – WHY!?

The other day, I was having a particularly emotional day. I talked with several people – just because I have found the value in both connecting as well as asking for help. The help, in this case, was pretty much in the form of prayer. Nothing would change the exact scenario at hand, but prayer would bring the peace and courage to face it.

As I was chatting with a friend, I was speaking about my daughter. A friend of ours is also young (she’s 10) and fighting a battle with cancer. She is losing that battle, and has only been given a short time of life left this side of Heaven. That was particularly hard for me. I looked at the similarities with my daughter’s cancer and it got to me. My heart was broken, realizing the possibility that lies ahead with us. As I was chatting with my friend, it was noted that when I spoke about this, I simply could not talk about the possibility of her dying. I would mention it and say that “things might not go how we want” or “if one day she doesn’t make it” but it was pointed out that I didn’t seem able to face it head on and talk about it. My friend asked what I thought would help to get to the point where I could look at her situation, see similarities in other situations that might not be going well, and not get upset. How could I watch a friend with a daughter who is dying, and not let it bring me down to the point that it’s depressing because I liken it to our own situation.

It was a hard thing to ponder, much less identify. I did come to the realization that I was attempting to live in a land of denial. In my head, I realized that the cancer she is dealing with does not hold a good prognosis. She may or may not live and have the opportunity to grow up. However, I never have really dwelt on that. Nor had I ever allowed it go to from my head to my heart. I only saw it as a possibility. What I did not see it as was a possible reality. I had some pretty in depth conversations. Just looking at the facts, and realizing there is a possibility she could die was extremely hard. However, it has been helpful in that way to not live in denial. To not think and dwell on it to a point it brings me down is hard, but necessary. Well, it’s not necessary to dwell, so much as realize the possibility.

One huge thing for me to realize – even though I knew it – was that just because another child is dying (or even that seven or more children die every single day) as a result of childhood cancer, does not mean that will be the end of our story. Yes, my four year old daughter could die. However, having cancer is NOT an automatic death sentence.

The hardest part is to realize that death is a possibility. It is hard to fathom, and impossible to understand. However, just because it is possible doesn’t make it probable. We will pray for God’s will. I seriously hope His will includes her being completely healed – from the inside out. I hope His will includes her living, not dying – and going on to grow up and live a long life. I will not, however, live in fear and dread of the opposite. If, for whatever reason, my daughter does not “win” this battle with cancer the way we want to see it won, it does not mean God isn’t in control. My faith and prayer is for her healing. I pray that healing takes place while she is on earth. If not, my joy will come from knowing she beat me to Heaven, and will be able to spend time and be in the arms of Jesus. That’s actually a sweet and heartwarming thought. No, I don’t want it to happen, and I’m certainly not rushing to get there myself. It’s just a beautiful thought when you are able to look at death as not the final goodbye, and instead as the next segment of a beautiful journey in a different place.

If you are facing this, or any other similar medical diagnosis and just don’t know how to handle it, please feel free to connect with me. I have, by no means, got this all figured out. What I do have is peace. I have peace knowing that the outcome isn’t guaranteed – good or bad. I have peace knowing that my life, the life of every member of my family, is in His hands. The maker of the entire universe has us in His hands.

Regardless of your situation, I pray you can come to know the same peace. May the God of all creation hold you today.

Don’t Allow Life To Become Too Busy

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Is your life hectic – a day to day compilation of so many things life throws at you?  Do you often feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in any given day? Yes, me too!  You’re certainly not alone.  What I’d like to do here today is challenge how you handle this situation in your own life.

I’d like to encourage (more like implore) you to slow down.  Learn to take joy in things again. Make the most of however many moments you’re given. Take time to just enjoy life.  No matter what your story is, or what journey you’re walking, take the time to find the good.  Celebrate it.  Make it last.  Treasure the memory.

To those of you new to my blog, welcome.  Please allow me to share a little bit about my story, and why this is so heavy on my heart.

My four year old daughter is currently fighting a rare and aggressive cancer. We honestly do not know what the future holds, though we proclaim by faith that she is healed and is (and remains) completely cancer free.  She had a brain tumor surgically removed, and has had six weeks of daily radiation therapy and will be starting chemo this week.  I do not share that with you to beg for sympathy,  but instead to share my thoughts – and the validity of why I’m saying what I do.

Having a critically ill child has had quite an impact on our family.  It hasn’t all been negative though.  Please don’t think that I’m saying I’m happy with a brain tumor/cancer diagnosis with my child.  Far from it.  However, I have been able to take a step back and realize that good can be found in the midst of any storm, this included.

What I’d further like to share are my convicting thoughts here.  It shouldn’t take something of this magnitude to make you (collective you, with myself in mind) appreciate life.  It shouldn’t take a bald little girl with a smile that melts your heart to make you realize just how precious life truly is.  Take time to enjoy life, and don’t allow yourself to become so busy that you don’t enjoy life.  Let those who you love know it.  Tell them.  Hug them.  Spend time with them as you’re able.  Make time. Love like tomorrow won’t come. Have fun. Be you and allow others to be themselves.  Be authentic.

If you take nothing else away from my words here today, take this thought with you: life is precious. Make the most of it. You never truly know when tomorrow may not come. Live life.

The Last Six Weeks In Review – Fighting Cancer – Standing In Faith

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This morning I received a very sweet email from a friend and regular visitor of my blog. It served as a reminder that I have not been active on this blog in several weeks. Yes, I have had ample reasons, and quite honestly, I just haven’t felt up to writing as much as I had. With renewed strength, I am here.

As I have mentioned previously, we found out in April that my daughter had a brain tumor. In a long drawn out process that is not yet over, we have come to find out that the tumor was a high grade polyphenotypic malignant (cancerous) brain tumor. It is still apparently one of a kind, and doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis – yet! They are currently doing full genome sequencing to get to the DNA of it and discover more about the cell(s) of origin, etc…as that has continued to baffle her medical team and extended network of medical professionals. This thing is unique, aggressive and quite annoying. However, we’re not giving up OR losing hope. We have created both Caringbridge and a praying Facebook page for her. If you are interested in links to either, please comment below or send me a message via the contact me page.

These last weeks have been some of the most difficult of my life. Never in a billion years did I ever imagine I’d be walking a road and journey that included the words aggressive cancer – let alone with my four year old little girl. Many things have transpired, medically speaking, and it’s just all been exhausting – physically and mentally. We’re nearing the end of a six week (every weekday) radiation treatment with her, and then will have a few weeks off, only to start an aggressive chemo treatment for many months. As I have pondered all of this, I have done much soul searching, heart-checking, and digging deeper in and with my faith.

You see, it is my faith that has, in large part, sustained me through this process. I will admit though – my faith has had some rocky moments lately. It hasn’t been shaken to a point of falling, but I have had ample opportunity to question many things. Never once have I blamed God. Never once have I been mad at God, per se. I say it like that, because I have found myself mad just kind of at the world. A four year old should not have to fight for her life. Period. At one point, though, I realized that it’s actually healthy to question things. I felt almost guilty and like I lacked faith because I was frustrated basically. Not frustrated with God, but with the entire situation.

I’m going to be brutally honest here. I found myself asking some scary questions – as it pertains to faith. When I put my daughters situation in a little bubble, and thought of it alone (instead of everything else in my life) I found myself wondering why I even bother praying…why I even bother having a relationship with God when it changes nothing. My thought process took me to the line of reasoning (or rather lack thereof) that my prayers and my relationship with Him meant nothing – that, int he great scheme of things, the situation was still going on, she was still fighting cancer, and there was still all this stuff going on – even if I do pray. But, let me explain what point this all brought me to.

First, God doesn’t NEED me to be faithful. He is faithful, 100% of the time. His idea and mine aren’t always the same, but it doesn’t mean His plan isn’t already in action. Back to me. No, He doesn’t NEED me – however, He does DESIRE me. Just as I am a child of God, His precious daughter – I was reminded — my daughter is also. For reasons that still remain unclear, she is dealing with this. We are all walking through this journey. No, it is not a path anyone would choose for themselves, but here we are. But, what I have found is that my prayers, and my continuous seeking Him is not only important, but it is vital. Again – No, God doesn’t NEED my prayers to accomplish His mission. However, I do. I need the strength that comes from Him, and Him alone.

Even through all my soul searching, I have not walked away from God. In fact, even through the questions, I have opened my heart and allowed Him to shine. People continuously ask how I’m so strong, etc. In my own strength, I’m clearly not strong. In Him, His grace sustains me. His love is poured out in so many different ways – in large part through the people he has blessed me by having as a part of my life. It is with such heartfelt gratitude that I say thank you to God – then to each and every person in our lives right now who are allowing us to see His love. The gratitude we have for the love, support and encouragement we’ve gotten during this cannot be quantified with words. Like I said from the very beginning, this is not a road I wanted to walk alone — and I don’t have to. We are sincerely grateful for that.

So, while times have been tough to comprehend, walk through, or stand in faith on — I am still here, standing on faith and knowing that God’s got this whole entire situation. Even if things don’t go as we hope or plan, I STILL Know God is in control. I rest in the knowledge that He is still God, He is still good, and He IS in control…even when we don’t like or understand it.

Thank you to each and every one of you who support us in any way, shape or form. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus. It is through all of you that I smile and have my faith continuously renewed.