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Posts Tagged ‘family’

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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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