October

Another month passes by without mom, this one in particular was a bit harder than the first couple. October was always mom’s favorite month. It was kind of like a “Peace” time, as it was a month without any major things happening. September was always crazy between school and my birthday, and November had her birthday and Thanksgiving. She loved that the weather was finally changing, and in Texas that was always something to look forward to. Besides the cooler weather, October is always prime time for football. Mom was a big Cowboys fan, and we even did fantasy football for a year and her team name was “Dak to the Future”. I was/am the commissioner for the league that we played, and when the time came to start fantasy again this year, nothing was harder than staring at her team, knowing that she wasn’t going to be playing again.

 

Everyone deals with the passing of a loved one differently. For me it’s avoidance. I don’t like it, but it’s just what I’m doing/did, and if I could stop I would. When I say avoidance, I don’t mean that I’m not accepting the fact that mom passed away, I just avoid (subconsciously) thinking, or talking about it. Of course that’s where therapy comes in to help that avoidance.

 

Anyways, back to the story.

 

This fantasy football thing was the real first instance that I truly had to face the fact that mom was actually gone. I wasn’t going to stop the league, others still wanted to play, but were very understanding if I wanted to take a break for a season. Outside of mom’s actual passing, nothing has been harder than hitting the “Delete Owner” button next to her team name. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took me days to build up the strength to do it, and I cried every time I looked at her name. It may seem minor, but I will never forget sitting on that couch, closing my eyes, holding back tears, and finally hitting that button.

I did feel a sort of sense of relief, and even could hear mom in my head go “Good job Alex!” the way she used to. I know that there is nothing she wants more  than for me and all of her loved ones to move forward with their lives. To never forget her, but not dwell on her.

 

I know she and God gave me the strength to move forward, and will continue to.

 

Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with MY eye upon you

The Light that Will Shine Forever

Hello everyone! For starters I should quickly explain that I am not Julie. I am her son, Alex, and I wanted to give an update on her blog. I also apologize for the length, a lot to share!

I asked her awhile ago why she has not posted anything in a long time and she responded by telling me she is too tired, but God is still giving her guidance and she has drafted posts. I could understand why she would not want to dedicate a lot of effort to her blog, giving the treatments she was undergoing and just battling cancer itself. Her posts clearly depict the battle with cancer she faces. Her posts, however, do not give an overall view of my mother. I believe there are so many other battles she fought besides cancer and depression.

She fought a major battle with borderline tendencies. I am so grateful she won that battle, as suicide is common with borderline.

Mom also battled poor relationships. Significant others were just the surface of the many relationships my mom battled through, but she won each one of them. Repairing broken relationships, and forgiving all.

She battled being virtually a single parent. (Side bit, in no way is my father a bad father, he is an amazing father and I treasure our relationship as much as mine and mom’s, but that does not mean that he is without faults)

She always had her focus on me. I will never forget the day she told me she was depressed and contemplated suicide a few years ago. I had come home from college and she explained it to me. I shared with her the depression I felt around the same time. My step-father had a bunch of knives upstairs in our home. I remember one night after a particularly miserable day, I sat at the top of the stairs with one of the knives that had seemed to be calling to me for the past few days. I remember holding against neck, and then a thought came:”What is mom going to do to when she sees her only child dead, laying upstairs?” I quickly put the knife away and went to bed, happy to live on knowing mom is with me.

She saved my life that night, and I told her this. She told me how I saved her from suicide by being her focus and when she would get depressed she would think of me. We made a pact that night, neither one of us was allowed to commit suicide or the other would too. I remember the feeling of finally having something to live for, that being mom. She was now MY focus. I promised myself I would keep my mom alive forever, regardless of the obstacle. Unfortunately, I was naïve and that promise was eventually broken.

Mom passed away early yesterday morning around 4 a.m. and lost her one and only battle, cancer.

I am thankful beyond words to be her son, and to have such a wonderful, courageous, strong, and amazing person to raise me. She will always be with me, in my heart, in my soul, and in my thoughts. I know she touched each one of her readers at least once with a post.

There was nothing I physically wanted from my mom. I did not want money, or her jewelry or anything like that, I wanted something else, something more memorable to me, something I can build and share her legacy. I wanted a way to share her story, her battles, and her amazing victories. I wanted this blog.

Although I am nowhere near as prolific writer as mom (She disagreed and said I’d be a great writer, she always encouraged me), I plan on keeping this blog alive in memory of her and will continue to publish her stories and battles, and some of my own observations of her and those battles. I hope one day the world will know what a truly amazing person my mother was. This is my way of keeping that broken promise, by keeping my mother alive forever through this blog.

I love you mom, and I know you are with God in the heaven you envisioned smiling down upon us all and you will forever and ever be remembered. I love you mom, and you’ll always be my snuggle bug. 

John 11:23-26- Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Hello, 2017

January is almost over. This past New Year’s Eve, I thought that just maybe, all the bad things in the world will go away because a new year is starting. I know that’s not likely, but you can’t fault a girl for dreaming.

So far this month, the following things have happened: a friend of mine lost his father, another friend (a single mom) lost her job, there have been politically charged riots, extreme weather, police shootings, and the Cowboys (who should have gone to the Super Bowl) lost their playoff game. And, my old nemesis cancer, continues to be an annoyance as I found out that it is now in my lungs.

Sigh. 2017 seems to be continuing exactly where 2016 left off.

I like the old adage, plan for the worst and hope for the best. For a long time, I lived only half of this adage; plan for the worst. Throughout the years of my depression, I never hoped for the best. I was convinced that the worst would always happen to me. My defenses were always on alert, always ready for my world to turn upside down. I knew that each day, a new hardship would fall into my world. There would be something new for me to manage while I was using all my energy to keep my mind from breaking into a thousand pieces.  It was a dark time in my life.

Today I know I don’t want to live on edge, waiting for bad things to happen. Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought about how to prepare myself for the rest of the year and all that it could bring. I thought about what I would tell myself at difficult times. All I could think of are words that God would say to me.

I am right here with you, you are not alone.

I love you more than you can comprehend.

I am in control, put your trust in Me.

Be strong and courageous.

Keep your eyes on Me.

I know bad things are going to happen. I’m not thrilled about the status of my health. But, I will not spend my days worrying about what may happen. I will not spend my days anxious about is happening.  I will not spend my days being sad about what has happened. The bad things will not control me. I will not allow them to take away the joy God has given me.

Except for the Cowboys, I am still mourning their loss.

Psalm 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom will I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom will I be afraid?

Life Not Empty

More peoplemore-1

More giving of love

More taking of love

More conversations, less silence

More smiles

More contentment

More relaxation

More peacemore-1

More purpose

More warm, less cold

More companionship

More plans

More dreams

More fun

More life

More joy

More hands to holdmore-1

More fulfillment

More serving

More sacrifices

More laughter

 

More God

Psalm 90:12 – Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I Am Thankful For…..


wind-3I am thankful for the feeling of wind blowing through my hair.

Last winter, I went through some heavy-duty chemo treatments. There was a chance I would lose my hair. This news was bothersome. I’ve always had long hair, I mean always. Long hair was my thing. Hair dressers always complimented it. Friends envied it. I loved it and I definitely did not want to lose it. It seemed like a cruel joke, as if feeling bad wasn’t enough.

It’s hard to prepare for losing your hair. I’d like to say I was brave and stoic about it, but there were times I was not. About two months into the chemo treatments, it began to fall out. When I looked in the mirror, I started to see more and more of my scalp. When I washed it, long strands stuck to my hands in big clumps. It was difficult to remember that it was only hair and that it would grow back as I watched it going down the drain.

After finishing the chemo treatments, it did start to grow back. There was a problem, though, with that post-chemo hair style. I did not lose all of it. I had new hair growing in amongst the long hair I did not lose. Try to picture it, a buzz cut with random sections of long hair all over my head. Not pretty. It was time to get it all one length.

When I had it cut, I didn’t get upset. I had grown a little less vain and was comfortable with the idea that long hair wasn’t going to be my thing anymore.  After the cutting, I looked in the mirror. I saw someone who looked completely different. I saw someone who was completely different.  Since losing my hair, I’ve allowed God to shine through me. I’ve allowed myself to trust Him and He gives me joy in return. I have gone through a transformation on the inside and it was showing on the outside.

Now that my hair is growing longer, I can feel it on my neck. It’s naturally wavy and I have to admit that it’s kind of cute. One day I was walking my dog and we turned a corner and headed straight into the wind. The feeling of the wind in my hair was odd, foreign and wonderful.  It felt like a victory. The past year has been rough with the surgeries and chemo. But, here I am, rebounding and stronger than I could have imagined.

One more thing to add to the list of things that God and I conquered together.

Jesus, teach me that anything can be taken away except for You. My life can change, my body can change, the people around me can change. But the one constant is You and Your love for me.

Fifty-Five Gifts

girl braveI haven’t had a chemo treatment since August 16th. Earlier this week, I found out that a few of my lymph nodes have started to increase in size again. I will start back with chemo next week. During my chemo vacation, my blood counts have been great and my CEA number has dropped. I was growing more and more optimistic and hoped for a longer break. I am disappointed.

Since my last chemo treatment, God gave me 55 gifts. Fifty-five days of feeling free. I let myself imagine life without cancer and I truly lived. I felt the sun on my face and I walked in the rain. I watched beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I stopped and looked people in the eye and really listened to them. I spent time with friends and family. I laughed, a lot.

The status of my physical health moved to the back burner. People around me stopped asking how I felt or telling me not to overdo it. I enjoyed not thinking about how I was going to feel the next day because I knew I would feel good. I grew stronger, my brain was quicker and I began to feel like me again. The old Julie with the dry, sarcastic sense of humor was welcomed back.

The news of more chemo has made me sad. I want to be free from the chains that come with cancer treatment.  I feel like I was let out to play, but now I have to go back inside. I’m a little shaken and I have cried a few times these past few days. But, I feel God all around me. He whispers to me that He is near and will never leave me.  

I’m thankful for the 55 gifts. I lovingly embraced each one. There are no promises that life will be easy and I accept that this is the path I’m on. There is no point in asking why because God is in control. He knows I can handle it. And, He’s given me another opportunity to share my faith. I will let His light shine through me and I will continue to tell my story

I will take up this battle again. He will give me the strength, tenacity, courage or whatever I need. God is bigger than cancer and I have Him on my side. I win regardless of what happens. 

I am not afraid, I have nothing to be afraid of.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Charles, The Contractor

charles-paintFor the past few months my husband and I have worked (and worked and worked) to get our house ready to sell. We were getting to the bottom of the list of things to do. The grand finale was getting the master bath redone and completing paint projects around the house.

After getting quotes and talking with contractors, we had a plan and were ready to get going. The first day of work began with excitement. We’re getting started! Everything is going to be beautiful! Home remodeling is fun! The day ended with plastic covering everything, brown paper on all the floors and my bathroom inoperative. My excitement had turned into dread. As I brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink, I had a hard time envisioning how my house could ever be beautiful.

At the beginning of the project, our contractor Charles, dealt mostly with my husband. I suppose he could sense I was not enjoying myself so he kept his distance. Two weeks have passed, the work is nearly complete and I’m so close to having my bathroom back. I decided that being a contractor doesn’t mean you’re a bad person and I’ve started to talk to Charles more. Yesterday, as I was cleaning the kitchen and he was painting the ceiling, we somehow got on the topic of God.

Charles started to talk about his life. He was a long time abuser of drugs and alcohol. He had stints in rehab, but he came out the same way he went in. Unless he was drinking, he was a mean and angry person. He was one of those people who if you brought up God or church, he wanted no part of it and he ran the other way. One morning, he woke up lying on the kitchen floor after a night of drinking. He heard his daughter come into the kitchen. She leaned over him and asked, “What is wrong with Daddy?” As he lay there listening to his daughter, he thought he could get no lower.

He soon found himself in jail after his fourth DWI. In the past he had prayed and tried to make deals with God like, “God, if you get me out of jail, I’ll stop drinking.” None of those prayers were heartfelt and none were answered. Soon, the visits from his father, his daughter and all other family members and friends ended.  After years of trying to get him to change, they all gave up on him.

He felt broken, alone and deserted. With a humble and sincere heart, he turned to God and asked Him to change him. And just like that, God did. Charles began to read the bible. He continued to pray and ask for God’s guidance. He began to live his life the way God would want him to.

He immediately quit the drugs and alcohol cold turkey. He had no withdrawals and he hasn’t had a craving since. He finally found the best place for rehab and it stuck. He is living proof of God’s handiwork to his family and friends.They cannot believe what a completely different person he is. They call him a miracle.

I’m glad Charles had the courage to speak to me about his life. While I’m brave when it comes to writing, I’m not so brave in person. He showed me how easy it is to speak about our Father and what He has done for us.

And, once again when I least expect it, there is God. I love it when God takes me by surprise like this. It gives me chills. He is real. He is with us.