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Posts Tagged ‘brother’

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This is my beautiful family. From the left, this is my mother, myself, Brother, and my dad. This photo is one of the last taken of all of us together, during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii. My parents had dreamed of this for years, and since we were able to stay with some friends who live there, it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been.

Little did we know that just a few months later, my wonderful, amazing mother would take her final breaths in this world.

I suppose in a way we all knew it was coming. She had been sick for a while, and though we never gave up hope that she would recover, in a few short weeks her health deteriorated very rapidly. I thought this would be it for me. When I saw how difficult it was getting for Mom to do even simple tasks, I felt dread. I got mad. I yelled at God. Several times, in fact. I denied what I knew was coming and felt only devastation.

Then she made the decision to check herself into hospice. Suddenly, it was a reality. I mean, everyone knows what hospice means, right?

But you know what? As much as I dreaded what was coming, I also felt an amazing sense of peace. Acceptance. I got to have so many things with my mother that not every person gets to experience. She was my best friend, my confidant, and the most incredible mother in the world. I got to be beside her in her final moments. I got to tell her how much I loved her and how wonderful a mother she was. How many people honestly get that opportunity?

So here’s three things that I’ve learned as I’ve processed reality during this time. And I’ll warn you, while I don’t usually tend to get “preachy” on this blog, I’m using it as a part of my healing process, so you might find more spiritual stuff than normal.

1.) Don’t let fear rule your life.

Seriously, I held myself back on so many things over the years, it’s ridiculous. I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, and too many times I didn’t allow myself to participate in things because I was self-conscious. Whether it was of how I looked, or if someone would like me or not…it doesn’t matter. The fact is, when we know the Author of Love, there’s simply no room for fear. My mother always quoted Graham Cooke when I talked about my hesitations and fears of failure. She would tell me, “Remember, it’s always a green light until God turns it red.” That means that I can step out in confidence, because I trust that if there’s a path that I’m not supposed to take, He’ll let me know. Otherwise, I’m going for it. Take opportunities as they come. They might not come back around again.

2.) God really is able of working all things for good.

Trust me, I did not think this was possible when it came to something like this. I flat out told God that there was no way He could produce something good from losing my mother at such a young age. When I confronted Him and very angrily demanded WHY, He didn’t give me a direct answer. Yet, in His own way, He still did. I know it doesn’t make sense, but He helped me realize just how big the picture was. We’re talking about eternity here. It’s so much more than we could ever imagine. Now that I look back, I see where God was preparing me every step of the way. No one could ever, ever replace my mother, but He placed a mother figure in my life in my pastor’s wife. He knew that I would need her there, so He made sure that I had that connection established. For that matter, He knew that I would need my church family as a whole. I honestly don’t know I would do without their unconditional love and support.

He restored part of my finances. Obviously I would a million times rather have my mother in this world than any other earthly good, but because she always put everyone else before herself, she made sure that my father was well taken care of financially. Through that generosity, my father is now able to give some of that to my brother and me. It’s a long story as to why the restoration of stolen finances are so important to me, but suffice to say, even now that she’s gone, she is still taking care of her children and blessing them. She always wanted to be able to give more, and now she is doing exactly that.

Her life touched so many people, I’m astounded. As a family, we’ve spoken to so many who have been impacted by my mother. And through my personal journey, I’m able to reach out to people in a way that I might never have been able to before.

3.) Don’t stay in the past.

That’s not to say that you can’t remember things, because memories are part of what shape us into who we are. But when you dwell in the past, you miss the here and now. Plus, it leaves too much room for regret. Of course there were things that I wanted to do with Mom that I will never get to now. But instead of focusing on what we DIDN’T get to do together, I remember all that we DID. I treasure every moment, every walk, every hug. I will never, ever, forget my mother, but I will not let myself fall into the trap of “What if…?”

My mother was only 60 years old when she passed. That’s it. I’m more than halfway there. Now, I’m certainly not projecting that I’m going to die at 60, because I plan to live much longer than that. But I have to ask myself, if that was all that I had, what would I do differently? How many more risks would I take? How much more time would I spend with those that I love? If I spend each day as though I’ve only got a few left, I’m going to make the most of every single thing that I do, and every person that I meet.

If that’s our mindset, then there is nothing we can’t accomplish. And at the end of our time, we can rest in the same words that my mother wrote at the end of her journal, quoting Paul:

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

Fight the good fight.

Finish the race.

Keep the faith.

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Me and the best mom in the world.

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How many oldies do we have on this blog? Raise your ancient hands. Just me? Really? C’mon now. Tell the truth.

Well, whatever the case, how many of you remember waaaaay back in the day when McDonald’s had those limited edition Disney glasses? I don’t remember what the heck they were celebrating, but somewhere along the line we ended up with one of them.

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You remember these guys, right? Tell me I’m not the only one.

So we’ve had this Disney glass for, like, AGES. Both Brother and I remember growing up with it always handy in the cupboard at Mom and Dad’s house. It’s a nice size and hey, it’s Mickey Mouse so what’s not to love?

Well, apparently Brother always thought that the glass was mine for some reason. I mean, heck, maybe it was at some point. It’s been too long for me to really care now. Mom, on the other hand, assumed it was Brother’s glass. So she always made sure that it ended up wherever he was.

In the most recent move, however, it somehow ended up BACK at Mom and Dad’s, so when she discovered it, she was more than happy to bring it over to our place. Now, Brother and I have been housemates for well over a year, but one can never have too much glassware. And again, it’s a pretty nice cup. I thought it was super sweet of her to bring it over, so I just stuck it in the cupboard with the rest of our glasses and thought no more of it.

I sort of forgot to tell Brother that Mom had brought it by (and he was at work during the time she was over), so one day I see him reach into the cupboard, pull out the glass and go, “Huh.”

“What?” I asked.

He shrugged. “It’s just kind of weird. No matter where I live, this cup always ends up following me.”

So apparently Mom has been just happily supplying him with what she thought was one of his favorite childhood cups, and he just kept finding it magically appear in every house he’s ever lived in. Everywhere he goes, he just opens up a cupboard and there it is again. Thus he is haunted by mystical cups that never go away.

Disney Magic indeed.

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So I tend to do most of the laundry for Brother and myself. I’m home most of the day and have time to do it, and it’s the one chore that I really don’t mind. I mean, if I get behind then Brother will do his own, but generally speaking I try to keep up on it. I figure it’s one way that I can give back to him for all the times he’s helped me out this last year.

So the other day I’m minding my own business, getting ready to fold laundry and all that, when I go to open the dryer door. To my surprise, a small projectile comes flying out at my face, inciting a minor panic attack.

I had no idea what had just happened, until I finally saw the grievous offender when it rolled to a stop:

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That’s right. The end of one of my brother’s sweatshirts had gotten caught in the door of the dryer and when I opened the darn thing, it shot out at me like a mini bullet. I’m pretty sure I jumped a full foot off the ground:

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As I relayed this story to Brother when he came home, he started laughing so hard he couldn’t speak for several seconds. Turns out he had already known this little bugger was about to come off his sweatshirt because the other side had already done so.

“It wouldn’t be so funny,” he said between laughs, “except that it belongs to my Punisher sweatshirt.”

So…apparently I offended the Punisher sweatshirt and it decided that retribution was needed.

I’m not sure what I did to bring about such open hostility, but clearly I did SOMEthing wrong. Needless to say, I will be more cautious when taking out loads of laundry henceforth. Because deep down, I have this feeling that the sweatshirt will always be watching…waiting…until just the right moment comes again….

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Who knew that such mundane activities could be so incredibly dangerous? It’s enough to make one want to live in a bubble.

Fortunately, I am still a brave person and am willing to traverse the perilous crossroads for the sake of clean socks. After all, one still has a sense of dignity to maintain.

Despite what certain sweatshirts might think.

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Boy, the holidays are already here. That’s just crazy. This last year has been a little bit of a whirlwind for me. I mean, the divorce was finalized, I moved to a completely different city, and ended up starting my own business. If you had told that me that all those things were going to take place over a year, I probably would have laughed at you.

But it’s been so good. All of it, the whole process. I have received so much healing the past several months, and it’s partly in thanks to my wonderful support system. My family has been instrumental in helping me both financially and emotionally. Seriously. I wouldn’t be anywhere without their love and stability.

This is where I have to give a shout-out to Brother specifically.

He’s been the best. We’ve been roomies for a year now, and he’s totally helped me out with rent the last couple of months while I’ve been getting this business off the ground. He’s been my number one cheerleader and often times the reason that I didn’t just give up and go back to a regular day job.

My church family has been my other support system. I’m one of the lucky ones, guys. We’re small in number, but fierce in love. And the other night, as I had a conversation with my pastor and his wife about many different things, something awesome happened. I felt a healing in my soul that I didn’t even know I needed.

I processed this over the next few days, almost testing the feeling of such peace, but it hasn’t wavered. You see, one of the unfortunately side effects of being in an abusive situation is fear. When you leave that situation, you break off one part of the fear because that person can no longer control you through it. But there are other parts of you that still feel apprehensive.

One of those things is fear of rejection. It’s something that I’ve struggled with my entire life, even before living in abuse, and part of the reason I rushed into a marriage that shouldn’t have happened. As other parts of my heart were healed, the fear of rejection still reared its ugly head. Especially when you’ve been single for a while and haven’t had any real prospects for dating.

That was the amazing thing about the other weekend. For the first time in my life, I felt freedom to love without fear. It didn’t matter if I was rejected. Didn’t matter if things didn’t turn out the way I envisioned them. I could still choose to love and know that it’s all going to be okay.

Everyone has their moments of doubt, but you can’t let fear rule your life. Live without regret, and enjoy the journey. I’ve had a couple of design inspirations come from this revelation, and I’ll be sharing them as soon as they’re finished. In the meanwhile, I leave you with my hope for your lives:

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Photo c. Hawk’s Haven Photography & Design

Be blessed! And thanks for traveling on this journey with me.

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Another day, another cosplay! Yes, it’s the exciting conclusion to my first post regarding our recent trip to Rose City Comic Con. As promised, I will reveal the genius costume idea that my brother came up with.

After toiling long and hard about who the heck he wanted to be, Brother had just about given up on finding a decent costume. He played around with the thought of going as Titus from Final Fantasy, since that was a character that he somewhat looked like, but the costume ended up being far more complicated than it should have been. (Not to mention pretty expensive.)

He hemmed and hawed over this decision until finally — at last! — inspiration struck him. You see, a good majority of his favorite characters just to happened to be female, which initially made him rule them out. Then he finally thought, “What the heck? I’ll just do a gender-swap of my favorite DC character of all time.”

Thus I bring you gender swap Harley (or “Harvey”) Quinn:

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Not bad, eh? He opted for the Suicide Squad version of Harley, since he really enjoyed Margot Robbie’s portrayal of the character. (I won’t lie, I thoroughly enjoyed that movie, and I personally thought it was by far the best live-action version of Harley Quinn that I’ve seen.)

He got a lot of compliments on his outfit. I’d told him how I had seen MANY Harleys the last Comic Con, but no gender swaps. So you can imagine my surprise when we ran into two of them almost right away. Go figure. While we only got a picture with one, they were definitely a fun couple to hang out with:

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And of course, we couldn’t resist posing with another DC character, which was this Batgirl cutie:

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And we got REALLY excited when we found two other Suicide Squad cosplays:

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I love how Brother is totally in character. The other two are appropriately serious, and he’s grinning like the Quinn he is. 😉

But the best part was when we found a legit, absolutely fantastic Batman. So of course, Brother had to ask if Batsy would be willing to play the part of his nemesis for a photo op. Being the gracious guy that he is, Batman was more than willing to comply:

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But I promise, he really was just a nice guy overall. And probably one of the best Batmans that I’ve seen, to be honest.

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See? Just a nice guy.

So that was our overall Comic Con experience. I managed to snag a few more things for my Lord of the Rings collection, which made me happy. (Even though they weren’t nearly as epic as Karl Urban’s autograph would have been.)

All in all, a great time.

In other news, I am SUPER stoked for this week. My parents, brother and I are going to head over to the island state of Hawaii! Woot! This will only be the second time that I’ve ever gotten to go, and it’s going to be nice to see something other than the tourist trap of Honolulu. Not that I’m really complaining about the last trip, mind you. Heck, any time in Hawaii is good, in my book. But this time around, I’ll be able to do a lot more hiking and exploring and picture-taking. It’s going to be superb.

I’ll be posting photos and sharing about our adventures when I return. Plus I’m going to finally share a little more about my latest project. It’s not really writing-centered, but it’s still creative and very fun.

Until then, aloha!

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So I’ve mentioned my brother a few times now. He’s pretty cool for the most part, except when he makes fun of me. But name me one little brother who doesn’t pick on his sister from time to time? (Besides I usually deserve it. Don’t tell him I said that.)

Today, however, I got to actually get a good laugh at him. Poor kid had to work the day after Christmas, which he really wasn’t looking forward to in the first place, but he got ready and headed to his car to take off anyway.

My family has this tradition that we always wave to each other from the window or doorway. It’s a longtime ritual that first started with my grandma and grandpa. As my grandpa went to work each morning, he wanted my grandma’s face to be the last thing that he saw as he drove off, so every time he left the house, she was there at the window waving to him. If it was dark out, he would flash his lights a couple of times to show that he saw her. His other common signal was to hold up one finger, then four fingers, then just three, which meant “I love you.”  Two generations later, my family still carries this out even to this day. Whenever we leave, we always wave to each other, and my dad often gives the sign for “I love you,” just as his dad did.

Thus I was at the window this morning, ready to wave to my brother as he went off to work. This was how I was able to witness the glorious moment when he carefully looked over his shoulder, slowly backed his car up….and ran straight into our garbage cans.

I’m pretty sure that I laughed for a solid ten minutes straight.

He looked very sheepish as he got out of the car, fixed the cans and proceeded to drive off. I was kicking myself for not having my cell phone ready and in my hand, but I still chuckled about it all day.

However, I started to feel kind of bad as the day wore on. Brother had already been kinda down about having to go to work, plus Life had given both of us a swift kick in the @$% recently. In fact, we had just been talking about how we were feeling kinda bummed before our awesome family came over for Christmas and cheered us up.

So I braved the after-Christmas crowds and did my best to make it up to him:

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What you can’t see behind my note is a couple of keychains he’d been wanting too. See, I’m a good big sister. Most of the time.

Harley Quinn makes everything better, right? I think I made the world right again. *puffs chest out*

Incidentally, if you haven’t seen Suicide Squad yet, DO IT. Disclaimer: It’s super dark (obviously) and really not a very wholesome movie. But it’s freaking awesome and probably one of my favorites of the year. Won’t be for everyone, but if you want to see a great action flick (and get some Harley Quinn eye candy) give it a go.

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As every good older sister will tell you, part of your job requirement as the eldest is to toughen up your younger siblings to prepare them for the ways of the world. Personally, I like to think of it as both a duty and a perk. I’m extremely fortunate that my younger brother is probably the best one that I could have ever asked for, especially thanks to my consistent torment guidance. Okay, okay, so he’s just an awesome brother even without my help. As he started to become interested in the same things as me (hard rock, manga, video games, etc.), I found a companion who actually understood me. We could sob together over the death of a beloved character in Naruto, beat each other to a pulp on Smash Bros., or squee over the latest Nightwish album. Yup. He’s that cool. Though we’re almost eight years apart, the older we get, the stronger our friendship is.

So now a confession must come from me. (I do that a lot, don’t I?) Anyone who knows me knows first-hand that I love the Zelda franchise with a passion. Or, as Brother would say, a flaming purple passion. (Don’t ask, ‘cause I don’t know where he got that.) The characters, the storylines, the gameplay, everything. I have LoZ decals on my car, a wallet, even a lanyard for my key card at work. So here’s my confession:

I’ve never actually really played or beaten a Zelda game. Ever.

Yeah, I played the original NES one, but I didn’t really understand it. (I was kid, okay? What do you want from me?) The sad fact is, I rather suck at them. I tried desperately when the N64 was released, and even managed to go a little ways in Ocarina of Time. But as it got harder and harder, I found that I just didn’t possess the skills to master such amazing awesomeness. I was great at Mario Kart, Smash Bros., even Mario 64, not to mention that I was a pro at most NES games. So what was I to do? I wanted to see what the heck happened. (Okay, so I really just wanted to see Link as an adult. Pervy elf fancier, remember?) Low and behold, I discovered that my little brother, who was probably about eleven when Ocarina of Time came out, was surprisingly talented at just about any video game handed to him. He started playing OoT, so I started watching. New discovery – we were actually a pretty sweet team together. When he couldn’t figure out a puzzle or couldn’t find an object, I could often point out something that he’d missed. Yes, it was the beginning of something beautiful.

From that point on, I just pretty much let him play every game while I watched. It was like seeing a movie for me. Not a bad deal in the long run. We’d grab some lunch/dinner and spend countless hours poring over the next dungeon or puzzle, oohing and ahhing as the storylines unfolded. Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem were the top two on our “must-play” list.

OoT. Best Zelda game ever.

OoT. Best Zelda game ever.


That brings me to my favorite gaming memory of all time. The Shadow Temple in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Let’s just start out by saying that it’s not for the faint of heart. The Nintendo 64 was stretching all of the boundaries gaming-wise at that time, and OoT was at the forefront of the revolution. It changed the way games were played. It had killer graphics for its time. It pushed the 64’s capabilities to the limit. It. Was. Awesome.

It was also extremely complicated, which is why die-hard Zelda fans love it still to this day. But by far, the creepiest aspect of it was the Shadow Temple. You knew it was going to be difficult. You didn’t know it was going to be mind-scarring. Remember that Brother was only about eleven or so when we played this, and I was around seventeen. It’s late at night, on a weekend, if I remember correctly. All the lights are off in the house because Mom and Dad are already in bed and it’s just cooler that way. Creepy music is playing in the background of the game. Brother enters a chamber of the Shadow Temple, unsure of where to go next. Suddenly, we both see this strange, black spot on the top of Link’s head. We stare at it, perplexed as it slowly grows bigger and bigger. The next thing we know, a giant severed hand jumps out and brings Link to an instant, untimely demise.

I’m pretty sure we both screamed like little girls.

My heart actually tried to jump out through my throat. Brother kept whomping on buttons like crazy screeching, “Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!” But alas, it was to no avail. That was just one of many difficult temples, but it’s the one that sticks out in my mind the most. Actually, I don’t think I could forget it if I tried. Between the dead hands and the long-necked zombies (I forget their proper name)…yeah. Those gave us both nightmares.

However, it’s still one of my favorite games, and it was the one that sparked both of our interests in LoZ. To this day, I still make Brother play games for me. Yes, I have my Mario Kart and Smash Bros., but when it comes to complicated games that I don’t stand a chance on, he’s awesome and plays for me.

I tell ya, that’s a good little brother.

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See? Mind-scarring.

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