It’s been almost a year and you would think it gets easier right? That life goes back to normal. That you don’t think about calling them or hoping they like your new boyfriend, but I don’t know if it does. All I could think about for a while after you passed was I have to be strong for mom. I have to be there for mom. You would want us to be strong for her and I hope we were, I hope we are.

I have this picture of you hanging in my apartment and I’m sure you just love that everyone who comes over sees it… and I’m sure you love even more that I’m sharing it here, but what can I say it makes me smile. It makes me think of all of the amazing things you gave me.

Grandma

You gave me everything grandma. You gave me love, you and grandad paid for my private school, and you gave me something no one else could give me… baking skills 🙂 You gave us bravery and showed us what grace looked like. You let me know I always had somewhere to go. You provided a family when family seemed broken. You gave me Wednesdays and Sunday mornings. You helped build my faith, by showing me what it looked like to love.

They say the holiday season is always the hardest when you lose someone and I’m trying to convince myself that October 30th isn’t some cursed day, but again this year it will prove to be one hell of a day the only difference is last year I didn’t know that I would forever remember the day before Halloween more than I would remember Halloween.

I’m crying and smiling while writing this because all I can think of are the inside jokes that I could put in here and have no person understand (Mom and Jenny, “Who’s insane?!).

I miss you. I miss your laugh, your smile… but there is so much of you in all of us, so much of you in mom. You were so much stronger than I ever knew Grandma, you were so much more than I ever knew and I wish I had told you that down here on earth.

You. Were. Amazing.

I love you. I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful for the life you gave us.

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I don’t know if I will ever feel whole again, if the numbness will ever leave me. They keep saying time, but what can time do, but dim a mind? It cannot heal all wounds because some wounds run too deep. We keep saying it isn’t good-bye; we cling to our hope, our faith because what else is there?

I cry when no one is looking, so I can be strong when all eyes are on me. “Am I okay?” they keep asking and all I want to do is say, “would you be okay?” What is okay? I am sleeping, eating, breathing… I’m alive. Does that make me okay?

I find solace in knowing pieces of them will never leave, pieces will be passed down and down and down. Her famous red velvet cake that we have had at every celebration, his story about what can happen if you eat too much of said cake… I sit here and laugh, but want to cry. I knew when I learned the recipes that this was why.

I knew when I listened to the stories, kept the drawings, cherished the words written that this was why.

I knew that I couldn’t hold on forever, but here I am trying to hold onto anything I can.

I know these words are nothing, but a cry that I won’t let escape. I type them and re-type them, but nothing sounds right.

And just when I thought I wouldn’t know how to end this with a smile I hear a voice that says, “turn on the radio.”

That was all the reminder I needed. We are in better hands, she is in better hands, and while I feel as if the world should stop with me there is hope, there is faith.

Smile.

 

It’s the 4th of July and I’m working.

I’m not just working a normal 8-5 day though. I’m working some crazy hours at a volleyball tournament… and I have been for a week…do these tournaments end? Does sleep still exist?

This event has been one wild ride (long days, broken equipment, canceled plane rides, bacteria infections), but as I sit here today in my live-streaming lift, above the crowd, I realize how absolutely amazing this entire experience is. I am traveling the country with my job and I’m only twenty-three. How exciting is that? And the great part is I love what I am doing. Now, there are times when I’m so frustrated I have to dig deep to get out of bed and go to work, but I can honestly say in every bad day there have been good parts.

The people I work with are a constant good part, constantly challenging me to grow and learn. I am living out a dream and sometimes I simply can’t believe it. I keep trying to figure out how I got here and I simply can’t believe the bad things that had to happen to make this dream come true. Everyday I wake up I know that I am going to be around people that make me laugh and that believe in my talents. How amazing is that?

I woke up today and checked my social media outlets, my only connection that let’s me know there is life outside of volleyball, and everyone back in Florida has pictures up of the beach and boats they are spending their 4th on. At first, I was jealous (not of the beach or the boats), but of having the day off  and then I realized this:

USAV LifeI am here and while I can’t say I will ever come to Reno by choice I can say I love that I am here to celebrate my 4th of July.

I have never wanted a “normal” life and this whole experience is anything but normal.

Today I am smiling… even though I am about to fall over with exhaustion… because I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

You've got enemies?“You know, if you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, wouldn’t you, at any time? And you would achieve nothing!” – Margaret Thatcher

I know very little about this women, Margaret Thatcher, but I love that she said this. In this world you have to make choices that aren’t popular and you have to make people you love upset. Maybe you’ll even make people you don’t’ know upset, but you have to make those choices. This world focuses too much on being liked and admired and it costs them everything.

Now, I am not saying you should go out and treat people badly, but I do think you need to stick to your convictions. I would say I am pretty stubborn with my convictions and view points, but I always try to make people feel like their point is valid as well. I hope that I never make someone feel less because my feelings are different than theirs. However, I will not apologize for being who I am and if that means people don’t like me… well, at least they don’t like the real me.

I am moving forward in life knowing that it is okay for people to not stand by my convictions, but I cannot allow that to let me waiver.

Today I am smiling for being me.

(Verses for convictions.)

I have lots of time to myself lately, which is good and bad. It is good because I am starting to realize the important things without being clouded by what is going on around me. It is bad because I tend to over think.

Tonight when I was getting into bed I looked at the pictures I have lining a window behind me. There are two of my grandfather and I thought to myself that is how I want to remember him, happy. I want to remember him when he remembered himself still. I want to remember him before the disease took over. I hate that people judge him for how he acts now and just wish they knew the man I know. I wish they could hear the stories I got sick of hearing.

His writings are everywhere… and now even the writings are sad. When I was last there he had a note out saying… I’m out smoking about all I can do. Before his writings were filled with such passion and things I’m not sure I want to know about the war, about his feelings towards my dad, or about life in general.

It seems so unfair that we can live in this world a lifetime and then lose it all, but our lifetime not be over. It seems so tragic. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of this illness that rots your mind? Is surely isn’t for the person who is “lost.” Which means it is for those of us they leave behind. What is the lesson? And does that lessen the blow?

I ask this question, but have no answer. I wish I did, I wish I could make this all easier and better, but it isn’t. This is the hand God dealt my family. This is what brings us together, this is what makes us stronger.

Today I am smiling for the love my family has.

Isaiah 30:21My mind is slightly all over the place this evening. I’m trying to tame my thoughts to make sure I tell the story that has been laid on my heart. I am currently on what I deem my second great adventure. I truly believe that everything that happens will be truly great as long as I listen.

I have officially been in Colorado for one month this week and everything that is happening just proves, that if I let God, He has an amazing plan for my life. When I first came out here I went to a meeting for church builders, not sure I really belonged there, but why not? After attending the meeting I received a book called The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage. Now, if that isn’t the most perfect book title for what I am doing I don’t know what is.

I have been slowly diving into this book, and I mean slowly, but that is because I find myself highlight or underlining half of the page on most of the pages in the book.

First, we confront the fear of crisis: “Crisis is no bad thing. In fact it’s an opportunity to rediscover.” Wow, that line just blew me away in this book. The past has been one giant crisis after the next. I have worn my armor and tried to protect myself from my real emotions, tried to protect my family from how I was falling a part. Really, I was looking at the situation all wrong. God was not allowing life to sucker punch me repeatedly because it looked like I was just “too happy,” it was allowed because I needed that opportunity. It is time all of us take a look at the drama and crises and see if they are really just opportunities.

Secondly, we start to see how this life and our walk with the Lord are supposed to be an unpredictable adventure. The book quotes Tolkien,

[Bilbo] used often to say that there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs are at every doorstep, and every path is its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Life Begins... You can’t predict life, but you can predict your reactions. The greatest thing any one of us can do is show love and compassion to others remembering that each of us are going through a battle. Of course, we all misstep and do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, but it’s how we move forward with that. My sister, one of the nicest people you will ever meet, is a 2nd grade teacher. She called this week and said she was really disappointed in how she reacted to one of her students. I reminded her that you can do something right 1000 times, but that 1001 time you just mess up. That IS LIFE. That doesn’t mean we don’t walk out onto the road.

“Adventure is an attitude we must apply to the day-to-day obstacles of our life…” We get a second chance EVERY second of every day of our lives, yet so many of is do not take advantage of this. You could change everything. Not happy where you are? Move. Not happy with your relationship with God? Pray. Having trouble forgiving? Forgive and Forget. Need to apologize? Call them. Life is an adventure and we have to be willing to seize what God gave us and live for him every moment.

The book provides some great reasons for why we don’t do anything though. My favorite two lines so far are: “Much depends on how we perceive life–as a threat or opportunity.” and “Our preference for stability and security blind us to the opportunities for adventure when they present themselves.”

I love the second one because that is why I left Florida. That is why I am in Colorado, thousands of miles away from my family and friends.

The last thing I’ve taken away from this wonderful book so far is that life is anything, but normal and we have to live with courage.

“Courage finds it’s greatest expression in love and sacrifice. It is that point where we can be sure we are in faith (1 John 3). When we really love, consistently and in Jesus’s name, we are being as courageous as we are ever expected to be.”

Courage is a wonderful thing, we need it to make it through every day. I know it may seem like you aren’t courageous in your life, but take a look and see that standing up to someone, being kind to a stranger, dealing with poor health, dealing with death, saying good-bye and so many more things are all acts of courage.

Today I went on my own adventure. I went out alone and just was. I didn’t need to be with someone else in order to enjoy this wonderful world. I hope that each of you can learn to live life they way it was meant to be for Jesus. And so I leave you with this, “Martin Luther suggested, the church should live its life as if Jesus died yesterday, rose from the dead toady, and is coming back tomorrow.” Are you living that way?

Today I am smiling for this great adventure.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to figure things out. I’ve tried it my way, tried to take what I wanted and impose it on Gods plans. Let me tell you how well that has worked out for me. However, it’s not really fair to sit here and tell you all about miracles and encounters and special circumstances without telling you how I got here.

I grew up in a family that believed in God, went to church, prayed, etc. etc. I kept going to church, praying, and believing until I got to college. Then I stopped going to church, prayed some nights, but still believed… or I think I believed.

Then I met a guy who insisted I needed to go to church with him. (This is just a guy not a romantically partner that will change my life). I had agreed to go to church, it was Mother’s Day and you know what happened? I woke up an hour before my alarm to a phone call from my sister. My mom was in the hospital with a possible heart attack. I jumped out of bed, threw some stuff in a bag and started driving home, no church for me. I really thought that was not a good sign for this church.

A few more months go by and I am in total bliss with my recent college graduation, a job, and a boyfriend Well, then the boat started rocking. I think God was frustrated with me. He was giving me everything I wanted, but I ignored Him because of that “bad omen.” Finally, the bliss broke.

The boyfriend and I break-up, my mom is in the hospital needing brain surgery, my grandma falls, my grandad can’t remember who I am, and I’m not happy with my job. Seemed like a good time to try out this church thing again.

It’s only been 5 months, but so much has changed because of all of the bad things. I’m not saying everything worked out and I have roses and butterflies. In fact, everything is nothing like I expected. My mom is happy, my grandparents continue their downward spiral, and I moved across the country.

You know what though? I’m happy. I got out here and I found a church. That is the most important foundation. I need to surround myself with people who love the Lord, people who will pick me up when I’m failing, falling, and scared out of my mind. It’s too soon to tell where everything will lead, but I jumped into this with the Lord knowing He was kicking me out of my own ways. I wish I would have listened sooner, I wish I would have never stopped listening before, but I can’t change how it has played out. I can, however, change how I continue.

I like to say worrying is something I am great at…. I’m also great at telling God how I think things should be. What I am finally learning though is if you take the time to sit with the Lord and soak Him into your heart, you will change, mountains will become mole hills, and problems will have solutions.

I think back to every time I almost came back to God, every time I almost walked into a church, read a book, and I was stopped. I am starting to realize that the Devil medals more in the lives of the ones who are seeking then the ones who have found or than those that are lost. He doesn’t waste his time, he plots to destroy you. He plans on you turning and never looking back. Everything should have destroyed me, but I am stronger and braver than I ever was. I have found a peace that will never leave. I have found myself again and it was about time because I really missed me.

What’s even crazier is that according to the world I should feel alone right now, but in all truth I’ve never felt more alive. I started this blog when I was really confused on the path my life was taking to remind myself that no matter how bad or confusing things were each day gave us something to smile about. And when I struggle I look through my posts and remember all of the things I have that make me smile.

Today I am smiling for a fresh start, which seems only fitting for Easter 🙂

Happy Easter everyone!

 

My sign: Trusted no one.

FLIP

Finding trust through Him.

Today I am smiling for both sides of my cardboard.

Today I am smiling for THE BEST NEWS EVER.

Thank you to wonderful amazing doctors and the Lord for miracles.

I often find I ask too many questions and over think almost all of my actions, but this past week and a half has really knocked me off my feet.

It’s as if my whole world exploded and I’m scrambling to grab the pieces, praying I remember where they all go.

I feel I’ve gone through a fair bit of rough patches in my life, but this one is so unique, so unfamiliar.

I couldn’t imagine any of this happening, each blow came just as shocking as the one before. I pray all the time. I feel His answers, I swear I do, but then I question if what I feel is simply what I want to happen. What if I’m only fooling myself?

I recall verse upon verse saying for me to trust the Lord and to accept what he’s saying, but I keep getting pulled back into what-ifs.

I need courage and strength, but really I would give all mine away right now to my mom and family. I need wisdom and guidence, but again I would give it all away to the person I think needs it.

Life and death, it makes you reconsider what is important and it certainly makes you realize who is
important. It really makes you realize what you’ll be okay with and what you just won’t accept.

So again I send out my ramble…

Today I am smiling for my family, in good and bad health.

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