Friday, February 28, 2014

A Time to Heal

There is a time for everything. And I want to so desperately believe that now is my time to heal. I'm about to spend some time really focusing on taking care of myself. These past two months I have just been going, going, going and I finally realized I am on "empty." Completely empty. I have nothing left to give to anyone else but myself. I am excited to say that I have been so graciously given the opportunity to take off the entire month of March from work to simply focus on myself. What?! Yes. I am so thankful for the people that God has put in my life who care about me and my well-being to allow me this time off. It really is such a blessing and a breath of fresh air!

My counselor has given me a strict list of things I need to do with my time off. The last thing I want to do is sit around my house and mope with nothing to do. I plan to be very intentional with my time. Here are the things my counselor told me to include in my days:

- Exercise daily - my Mom will be beaming from ear-to-ear when she looks down and sees me step foot in a gym.
- Eat nutritional meals (which will include a lot of planning, preparing and cooking - I'm sure my husband will love this part!)
- Rest - and that includes naps! Oh I can so do that, Doc.
- Spend time digging into God's Word and in prayer

I think those are all the main things. I really am so excited and thankful for this time that lies ahead of me. I'm even excited about going to the gym and working out! I don't know that I have ever said those words in my lifetime. But yeah, I'm pretty pumped!

There is part of me that is afraid to expect too much from this time. My biggest dream and hope would be that come the end of March that my spirit would be completely refreshed and filled and ready to take on whatever else may lie ahead. But then there is this little, evil voice that keeps whispering to me, "There is no way you can fully heal in a month's time. You are still going to be a wreck and just as empty as when you started. You can't expect God to fill and restore you in just one month." Uuuggghh. I hate that voice. I hate that voice.

My spirit wants to believe that God is able. My heart wants to expect this glorious restoration that the title of my blog proclaims. But right behind my hope is fear. Immediately following my expectations is doubt. It is such an ugly battle.

Will you please join me this month in prayer? I cannot do this on my own. It is very humbling to ask people to commit to pray for you. Because as I do, my mind rushes with hundreds of other problems in the world that are so much bigger than my own. But I am still desperate enough that I am going to ask. Will you commit to pray for me everyday through the month of March? I need your prayers. I want to believe that God can heal me and restore me in this month.

Here are some specifics:

1. That I would again believe all of God's promises in Scripture. Here are a few that I want to believe for myself:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 (I love that the ESV uses the word "wholeness" here. I want to believe that my broken, shattered heart will be made whole again!)

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

"Bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:2-5

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Psalm 42:5

2. That the lies of the enemy would be crushed. "This is never going to get better. You are never going to be okay again. You are alone. You have been wronged and stolen from. Look at everyone else who still has their moms - you will never have that again."

3. That my spirit would be restored. (Psalm 23:3)

4. That God would fill me and equip me with everything good that I may do His will. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

5. That I can begin to choose joy every single day. According to Kay Warren, "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things."

Thank you for your prayers - for the ones that have already been going up on my behalf, and for the ones still yet to come. I couldn't keep going without them.

I feel it is appropriate to end with this song - proclaiming the truth that GOD IS ABLE. He is bigger than all my hopes and dreams, and He alone is able to heal and restore this broken and crushed spirit of mine.

"God is Able" by Hillsong

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Raise Your Voice

Did you know there are 27 million men, women and
children trapped in slavery around the world today?

There are only a few hours left in the day, but will you join me and put a red X on your hand and speak up for the millions who are suffering this very moment?

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Life in Three Songs

I'm really hoping it won't get much worse than it is right now. I mean really. This is the pits. But I won't carry on too much about this.

I thought I would let you into my world of music a little bit. Three songs have been my theme. In a time when I just don't feel like singing. When it seems impossible to rejoice. When I feel completely exhausted by 9:00am and the sky is never blue in my eyes.

I have three songs in a playlist entitled "Worn" that I created on Spotify. Yes, only three songs. Here they are...

1. "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North
(for some reason the embedded videos aren't showing up on mobile devices, so you can click on the titles and it will take you to the YouTube video)

2. "Reason to Sing" by All Sons & Daughters

3. "Grace is Sufficient" by Shane & Shane

*Disregard the first 18 seconds of this song... I've never understood why they started it with the funky little guitar/piano jig. I honestly don't like that part at all, and it sounds nothing like the rest of the song. So don't be turned off by those first few seconds.

I'm worn. I'm searching for a reason to sing. And literally, the only thing I can hear from my God right now is Him saying, "My grace is sufficient for you."

Through gritted teeth...
"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tell a College Student!

Okay, this is a post that is outside my normal line of content, but it's something I'm pretty pumped about, and it's geared toward all you college students out there! Or to parents of college students or to anyone who knows a college student :)

My husband just started going back to school in January and is taking a couple prerequisites so he can hopefully begin nursing school this coming June! Woohoo! Here's a picture of him just because I think he is so darn cute...

Look. At. Him.
Okay, so really, I wish I had known about this awesome gig back when I was in college. I always felt like buying textbooks should be illegal because of how expensive they are, and then how jipped you feel when you sell them back for basically $0.02 each. Wah wah.

I had no idea you could RENT textbooks for way cheaper from
Here are a few of the perks when you rent through this website:
-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices - whoa!
-free shipping both ways - holla!
-can highlight in the textbooks
-flexible renting periods
-they donate to Operation Smile w/each textbook rented - who doesn't love giving to a good cause?!

If you want to see exactly how it works, watch the video below:

Already bought textbooks for this semester? Check this out!! I remember talking with my friends in college about wishing there was a way college students could come together and just swap their textbooks with each other without going back through the book store... well, I think my dreams have finally come true in a little bit of a different form. 

Campus Book Rentals recently launched a new program called RentBack - a new initiative that allows students to rent the textbooks you own to other students... which is awesome because it makes you 2-4 times more money compared to what you would make through buyback options! (selling your books back at the end of the semester) Um, OKAY! Yeah. I'm so in.

So when it comes time for my husband to buy/rent books for nursing school, I'm prrrreetttyyyy sure this is the route we will be taking! Spread the word to a college student! :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Choose Joy"

I started reading a book today for the first time in a long time. One of my mom's closest friends gave it to me, and I am so thankful she did!

Thank you Susan!

I've only made it through one chapter so far, but I can already tell this will be a book that I highly recommend to others who are dealing with loss, trials, or just plain struggling in your fight for joy. Because let's face it, choosing joy is a battle.

And like I said in my previous post, joy seems like something in another galaxy. I don't even feel like it's an option for me right now in such a dark season. But that is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Satan doesn't want me to experience joy. He wants to keep me right where I am, and he wants me to believe I'm stuck.

Kay Warren quotes John Eldredge when he said...

"The story of your life is the story of a long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it."

She follows up by saying, "The enemy of your heart, Satan, does not want you to leave the place of despair, but the lover of your wounded heart, Jesus Christ, has a better plan for you, and it includes joy."

Praise God for such beautiful truth! My mind is beginning to believe, and I pray my heart is soon to follow. I love the definition of joy that Kay wrote:

I love that. I am thankful that God uses people and books to speak to His children. I am thankful to be one of His children and that joy is a promise I can cling to. And I am so looking forward to the day when this joy is a reality in my life!

This is not a sponsored post, but I am already so into this book and want others to get their hands on this great resource. So here a link that will take you to where you can go ahead and order a copy for youself! Click here

Still trying...
"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Struggle and Passion 2014

Wow, I feel like it's been a long time since I've sat down to write an actual post. I think I've been busy, although I'm not sure with what exactly. But I mean, let's just jump right into it. This past week has been really hard emotionally. I have no idea how to explain the condition of my heart. "Empty" is a definite. "Broken" for sure. Other than that I'm all over the place. I have glimpses of happiness... Keep in mind "happiness" is not the same thing as "joy." I feel like "joy" is something totally out of reach right now - like it's at the top of a mountain 10 times the size of Mt. Everest and in another galaxy. I think my heart feels cold right now. Bitter. Maybe even angry. Like I've been stolen from.

But at the same time, even with all of these negative feelings and emotions, I still don't doubt that God is sovereign and that He is good. That's definitely harder to say right now, but I know I still believe it with all my heart. I don't doubt that He is going to work all this together for my good and His glory. I think my anger and frustration come from the question, "When?" How can losing her be good? Whatever purpose He is trying to accomplish, couldn't He have accomplished it some other way? Why by taking my Mom?

In Rick and Kay Warren's sermon series "How to Get Through What You're Going Through," Rick points out that there are several stages to the grieving process.

1. Shock

2. Sorrow

3. Struggle
the "why" questions

4. Surrender
stop asking and start submitting - the only path to peace

5. Sanctification
when God starts bringing good out of bad - when God makes you more godly

6. Service
when God takes your greatest pain and turns it into your life message

Grieving can't be pinpointed and turned into a formula. No two individuals will walk through grief the same way. But as I look at these stages, I think I'm consistently moving between sorrow and struggle. I didn't think I would really deal with "struggle" again. I thought I had moved past that when she was still here and her health was majorly declining. I was angry. I was boiling. I thought I had processed all these questions already. Nope. Here I am again...

I'm not disappointed in myself for being angry. I realize this is normal. It's all part of the process. I'm thankful that God knows my heart. I'm thankful for His patience. I'm thankful for His loving kindness and His mercy. I'm thankful that He remembers that I am dust.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Psalm 103:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in
steadfast love...
As a father shows compassion
to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to 
those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:8, 13-14

This past weekend David and I went to Houston, TX to attend Passion 2014 - a huge Christian conference led by some pretty big names in the Christian world: Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, and a few others, all dedicated to worshiping and pointing toward Jesus Christ. We went with our friends Cameron and Laura, and we had a blast together!

I went to my first Passion Conference in 2006 as a senior in high school, and have been hooked ever since. I talked about it so much, in fact, that my Mom got hooked with me. She attended every year since 2007. She has been my Passion buddy. So this year was obviously quite a bit different, and there was one thought I couldn't get out of my head the entire time. Mom and I have always described Passion as "the closest thing you can experience to heaven on earth." You see, thousands and thousands of college students from across the nation and across the world travel to meet together for one weekend to worship Jesus Christ. And when I say thousands, I'm talking like 64,000 people were there last year. That's a TON of people. And when you put them together and lift high the name of Jesus, it is a glorious sight and sound.

Well, Mom is in heaven now. And I here I was at the very place we described as "the closest thing you can experience to heaven on earth." I couldn't stop thinking about her. My heart was an open wound constantly reminded with the fact that she's gone. She's there and not here. In one sense, it's a beautiful thought to think that she is worshiping the same God face-to-face that we are worshiping here. But in another sense, it's gut-wrenching. More than anything, I would rather just be there with her. I would never ask her to come back to this wretched earth.

Sometimes I think that if someone slung a sledge hammer at my gut every 10 minutes, every single day for the next 2 years, that would feel better than missing her so deeply and moving on without her. Oh, how I wish life could just stop. That I could lock my doors and run away.

I realize this post has taken a very depressing turn... soooooo I would like to close with a few pictures from our weekend. I am thankful that David and I were allowed the time to get away for a couple days with our friends! Our 20-plus hours in the car and constant chatter and laughs were good for my soul.

Cameron, Laura, me and David
The big red "X" is for the End It Movement.
There are still 27 million slaves in the world,
and our generation is seeking to put an end to it!
Oh, you had no idea? Check it out HERE.
Me and my love
Oh, just at the #1 TCBY in America! Booyeah.
Our first time in the HOV lane. Yeah, this was a big deal.

Still choosing to say...

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback to "Onion Water"

If you're on social media very much, I'm sure many of you have heard of "Throwback Thursday," or also popularly labeled as #tbt. Well, I'm going to do a #tbt blog-style. I have an old blog that I updated while I was in Africa back in the summer of 2010. When I came back from Africa, I didn't post very often. But this past September, I blogged about a camping trip that my husband and I went on, and I wanted to share the post here. I learned a very valuable lesson through a quite humorous and unfortunate experience, and I'd like to share it with you here:

"Onion Water"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

This weekend David and I went camping at Roaring River. It was very relaxing and so peaceful. As we made preparations for our adventure - making to-do lists, gathering equipment, packing necessities, food, etc. - one of the small details was to chop up an onion. David chopped the onion on Wednesday and placed it in a baggy in the fridge. Well, this was no normal onion. Its fumes quickly filled the fridge and would plaster your nostrils upon opening. This thing was the epitome of POTENT.

When it came time to pack up and leave on Thursday, we decided to double-bag the diced bits of oniony fumes AND put them in their own tupperware container inside the cooler to keep them from contaminating all the other fresh foods. We got everything packed, and off we went on our exciting adventure into the wild.

We had chosen a camping site with no trees - our logic behind this was to allow for the prime star gazing experience. We thought we had struck gold with this camp site. (The experienced camper would immediately recognize this as the #1 rookie mistake). As morning dawned, the heat of the sun quickly turned our tent into a crock pot and we began the infamous game of "Dodge the Sun" - which involves laying on a blanket to read and moving every ten minutes as the sunlight shifts and bakes your skin. This was when we realized that picking a campsite with no trees was not among some of our "brighter" moments - no pun intended.

As the cooking events of the weekend had taken place, we let down our guard against the vicious onions and used their designated tupperware to store some leftovers, allowing the onions to sit in the cooler (now only single-bagged for some reason). But we used the rest of the onions for breakfast that morning and the onion fiasco was far behind us (so we thought). As the sun continued to blaze our campsite, we decided it was time to pack up and head home to the promising shade under our roof.

So the fun began - we packed all the leftovers, deflated the queen size blow-up mattress (that took up our entire tent by the way, but we also learned this is the ultimate way to sleep in a tent), folded both the mattress and the tent and successfully stored them each in the bags in which they originally came (score!), and worked up a near-drenching sweat in our no-shade zone which led to a dyer need for a drink of water.

Disclaimer for this next part of the story: Please keep in mind I just slept a whole night without my box fan (those of you who know me well know this is worthy of winning the Nobel Peace Prize), and I peed in the woods in the middle of the night, and I'm just downright incredibly thirsty and not thinking straight at this point. Let's continue...

David then pops the seal to drain the water from the cooler. All I can see is a crystal clear stream of ice cold water begging me to come and quench my thirst. The thoughts of how taboo this is quickly escape my mind and I'm overcome by my undying desire for a cold drink of this liquid that is so beautifully sparkling in the sun, and I just do it. I walk over to where the water is streaming from the bed of David's truck out of the red cooler, open my mouth, and the cooling sensation that splashes onto my tongue is DELIGHTFUL and REFRESHING... but only for a moment. The delightfulness and the refreshingness quickly vanish and I am overcome by an awful taste of... ONION. Yes. Onion. Flavored. Water. Those three words should never be side-by-side. That wretched onion had somehow managed to poison EVERYTHING it came into contact with. Its fumes permeated every drop of water that poured out of that cooler and now into my unsuspecting mouth. I immediately regretted my decision and spit it out as fast as I could. I couldn't find my toothbrush quickly enough to cleanse myself of this vile poison. Promising me something which I so desperately desired, but fooling me all too easily into its nasty scheme, this foul liquid only left me yearning for what I had originally desired even more.

Read the last sentence of that paragraph one more time. Sound familiar? All too often temptation lures us in with promises on which it can't deliver. Temptation plays upon the very things which we desire. It offers us fulfillment. It offers us satisfaction. And somehow it manages to appear in the exact form of the thing for which we are searching. The onion water itself looked NO different than the water that pours out of an ice cold water bottle. If I had paused for just a moment though, and considered the SOURCE (a dingy red cooler with melted ice that our dirty hands had dug through and that had been plastered with onion fumes) I would have chosen otherwise. My eyes deceived me, and my desire led me astray. I settled for the immediate, rather than waiting for the best (ice cold water bottles that, yes, were right inside the cooler).

"But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." James 1:14-15

We must guard ourselves against the temptations this world has to offer us. We must first identify the deepest desires that lie within our hearts. We cannot be tempted by things which we do not desire. Once we have examined ourselves and have allowed the Lord to search our hearts, we must then take steps to keep those desires in check. I think that most of our desires can, in fact, be traced all the way back to God-given desires - the desire to love and to be loved, the desire to please and succeed, the desire for satisfaction and contentment. But from who are you seeking love? Who are you striving to please? In what things are you seeking contentment? When we take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to look at what the world dangles in front of us, this is when those desires get twisted and we settle for the immediate. This is when we get duped into drinking onion water rather than waiting for the Living Water. 

"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you." Proverbs 4:25

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chicken Thighs

I threw chicken thighs out the back door yesterday.

Yep. There they are. You can even see where they hit and slid a couple feet further.
Call me crazy.
But I did it.

Grief makes you do funny things. Weird things. Sometimes it makes you feel like you should be put in a straight jacket. You never really know what is going to put you over the edge. Or when something is going to put you over the edge. And for me, yesterday, it just so happened to be...

chicken thighs.

I should have known about a week ago when I picked "Lemongrass Chicken" that it was going to be a disastrous idea. I don't even know what lemongrass is. I Googled a picture of it while I stood, lost, in the produce section, and I still couldn't find it. Frustrated, I left the store. I made a few other attempts, and never found what I was looking for.

So I have this package of 12 chicken thighs sitting in my refrigerator, and I have no idea what to do with them. I'm really showing my true colors here that I am not experienced in the kitchen. I'm not one of those who is gifted with picking up spices and making things up. I have to follow a recipe, and I get nervous if I measure something even the tiniest granule off.

So I went back to one of my best friends - Google. I asked her for some "chicken thigh recipes" and she told me about a teriyaki chicken recipe that sounded pretty good and easy. Keep in mind on the timeline here, these chicken thighs have been in my fridge about 3 or 4 days now. I don't know the shelf life of these babies, and I want to get them cooked before they enter our prison, aka the freezer. Once something goes in there.... it typically doesn't come out. *dun dun dun*

So yesterday I had the perfect window of time and thought I would June Cleaver my way through the kitchen. Before I even began, I realized I didn't have all the ingredients. Slightly frustrated I made a quick run to the store and pep talked myself back into a good mood as I arrived back home. Alright, let's do this. These chicken thighs are gonna be good! You have all your ingredients. You're set. Easy peasy from here. WRONG. I am so not June Cleaver. One of the ingredients must have fallen in my blind spot. I still didn't have all I needed....

All I could do was throw my hat on the ground, crawl in my bed and pout.

At first, I was angry with myself. How could I overlook something so simple? And then I realized...

I was angry that my mom isn't here.

This is one of those times when a girl needs her momma. Had she been here, I would have still been irritated, but I would have called her and explained the whole story. I would have said in my own frustrated, pouty tone, "Mom, what the heck can I do with these chicken thighs? Please help me." And she would have told me exactly what to do.

But she's not here. I can't call her. And the last thing I want to do is call someone else. No one else can fix this dilemma. Only Mom can do that.

I want my mom.

So it seemed like to me, since I couldn't call Mom, the next best thing to do was to get those cursed chicken thighs as far away from me as possible. I didn't want to be under the same roof as them. "You know what I want to do right now?" I said to David. I threw off the covers, put my feet on the ground, stomped into the kitchen, grabbed the chicken thighs, and

And it felt good. I really wanted to throw them over the fence. I wanted to open up the package and throw them one-by-one as far as I could. But I maintained my sanity by a hair, and settled with throwing the package only a few feet. But it still felt good. And thankfully, David still loves me. And God still loves me.

FREEDOM. A word my dear friend, and a woman I look up to, has spoken over me the past couple of months. And what a beautiful word it is. I've definitely taken it to heart, trusting that my God remembers that I am but dust (Psalm 103:14) - and if I want to throw chicken thighs out the back door, He still loves me.

I can't believe chicken thighs are what did it to me. But it's so true, you never know what or when something will put you over the edge. But something will. At some point.

And for me it just so happened to be chicken thighs.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Ramblings, My Friend and JP on the Sleeve

It's so strange. We have our first event coming up with our youth group without her here. Thankfully, it's a pretty simple one. This coming Saturday we are having a Girl's Night of Worship with our 7th-12th grade girls, and I'm really very excited about it! CHANIKA MCLELLAND will be leading worship for us. She led at our girl's event last year and did a phenomenal job. She has a beautiful heart and has been blessed with such awesome talent. I think it's going to be a great night!

But back to that first sentence I started with... It's so strange. She's not here anymore. I'm taking on responsibilities she so gracefully and secretly handled. I had no idea what all she did behind the scenes even when I worked right next to her. Gaahhhlly. My mom. That woman. I tell ya. She was incredible. What a gift we had when she was here with us. Oh, I miss her. I hope to make her proud. I hope she's looking down at me and smiling. I'm doing my best, Mom. I'm doing my best!

I have to give a big shout out to my right hand woman - Maegan. I seriously don't know what I would do without this girl. We've always been a team.

It's always been Mom, me and Maegan.

Now it's me and Maegan. We are the team.

She is my glue. She's become like a sister to me during this time. She doesn't even know this, but she keeps calling me at the exact second I need her to when I'm having a crappy moment. And I just have to say, I feel like we have done a great job stepping up and filling some pretty big shoes my mom left behind. Shoes that we, honestly, never wanted to fill. There's no one else I would rather have by my side to be my teammate, my support, my right hand woman, my cheerleader, my make-ma-laugh-when-I'm-sad buddy and my let's-talk-about-janet-because-we-love-to friend.

I also am super excited about our t-shirts for this event on Saturday. I think it's our best yet! Want a sneak peek?.... Okay! Here you go:

JP on the sleeve... Janet Pate. That's my mom, and she is forever with us!
I love you, Mom!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dreams and "Say Say"

I got to see her last night. I am so thankful the Lord has allowed her to come visit me in my dreams. So far they have all been in the context of knowing that she has been to heaven and is only back to visit for a little while.

So last night, she looked like her healthy, pre-cancer self. I can't remember where we were, but she was sitting. In this dream I knew that I had been with her for a couple of hours, although I can't recall what all we had been doing together. But then I finally remembered, she's been in heaven for over a month now! I've got to ask her about heaven! So I did. I asked her what Jesus looked like. I asked her if He had scars on his hands. And I asked her who greeted her when she got there. The only answer I remember her telling me is that yes, Jesus does have scars on his hands! (check out John 20:24-29) How beautiful! My mom has seen our Savior face-to-face. She has seen the scars that He bears in remembrance of the sacrifice He made on our behalf. The scars to remind us that we have been bought with a price.

A couple nights ago I dreamed that her hair had grown back, and she wasn't sure how she liked it. She was debating if she was going to cut it or not. This is entirely accurate of who she was before she got sick.

I am thankful the Lord is allowing my memory of her to switch back to who she was before cancer - to who she really is - to the Mom I knew and loved with all my heart my whole life.

In one dream, I hugged her. She didn't say anything. She just sat there and smiled at me and let me hug her. Her smile simply said, "I love you." I know that's what she was saying to me with her eyes and with that big beautiful smile.

She texted me once. I looked down at my phone and on the message preview I saw that is was from "Mom" and all she said were those precious three words... "I love you." Oh! How I miss being able to text and call her. I cherish that dream. Something as simple as a text message...

In another dream I remember asking her, "Mom, so you've been in heaven a day and a half now. What's it like?" The only thing I remember her telling me was that she started singing "Say Say" and everyone joined in with her. She said it was beautiful.

"Say Say" is a song by Kristian Stanfill that Tony and Hudson (my now 3 and half year old nephew) would always, and I mean always, drum to! What's really crazy about this dream I had, is that the next day my family and I had to meet at the funeral home for something. Bryan and Jenna told me that on the way to the funeral home, Hudson was looking out the window and he said, "I see G-ma in the sky!" They asked him what G-ma was doing. He said that she was dancing and singing. Well, guess what song he said she was singing?..... Yep, "Say Say". I about fell on the floor when they told me about this considering the dream I had the night before. I have no idea what God allows little children to see and experience - but I don't doubt for a second what Hudson said he saw. I know my momma is up there dancing with the angels singing "Say Say" and I can't wait to get up there and join her!

So, now I find it very appropriate to share with you the song Mom has been singing in heaven, "Say Say". And in honor of her and our King Jesus, I invite you to crank up the volume a little bit, let loose and jam out - because I'm sure that's exactly what she has been doing, and who knows, maybe she'll join in unison with you while you listen and sing :)


"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Two Years Ago Today

I can't believe it's been two years. Two years since the word "normal" flew out our window and is still flying around somewhere. Two years ago I received the phone call that Mom's surgery didn't go as expected. Two years ago that the word "cancer" became "normal" in our home. Two years ago that doctor visits became a normal occurrence. Two years ago that hospitals almost became a second home. Two years ago that the beginning of the end commenced. And we had no idea.

You can read all about the moment I received that phone call and the events leading up to and the events that followed that moment HERE.

When Mom was first diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, there was no question in our mind that she would be healed. She was leaps and bounds ahead of all of us on the healthy scale. She's the only one in our family who exercised regularly, and she was always the one to initiate the "No Sugar for a Month" or "No Carbs for a Week" or the "Who Can Go the Longest Without Drinking a Coke" competition. And she typically won them all. She was a champion. She was so vibrant and so full of life.

She had already been miraculously spared from AIDS (which took my dad) 18 years prior to this measly cancer diagnosis. In our minds, cancer had nothing on her.

Boy, were we wrong.

Here we are today, two years later, and she's gone.
This still doesn't feel like real life.
It doesn't feel like MY life.

As I sang in church this morning, I was met with the beautiful reminder that the same God I am singing to from down here, is the same God my Mom is seeing and singing to face-to-face. I imagine that she is singing the same song as me, that we are singing in unison, and for a moment I feel connected to her. That's the only thing that we can really still do together - worship our great God.

I miss her.

Those words seem so puny. So off the mark. So NOT close to how I really feel. I feel as though I am doing her an injustice by only being able to say that I miss her. But I do. I miss her from the deepest, darkest, most soul-jerking place inside of me. I miss her.

I want to say thank you to our friend Kelly Stamps (from KELLY'S KORNER BLOG) and to Wyley Elliot, editor of Celebrate Arkansas Magazine, for writing a beautiful tribute to my Mom. I really am speechless about this precious gift and the time that was taken to put this together. You can see the article below:

Photo taken from Celebrate Magazine HERE
To read the article and see the actual Celebrate Magazine you can go here.

Today brings many emotions - most of which are sad ones - as I remember and realize that two years ago today marked the beginning of the end of Mom's journey here on earth. I miss her deeply, but I am thankful for the reminders of the difference she made while she was here with us. I am so proud of my Mom. I love you, Mom!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."