Facing Fear

Where were you? Do you remember? I’ve heard most people liken it to knowing where they were when President Kennedy was shot. Where were you when you heard or saw the first report of something happening at the World Trade Center? Did you tune in at the very beginning when it was some type of explosion and no one knew how it happened? Did you tune in as the second plane hit and gasp in sheer terror? I think for the majority of us we know exactly where we were.

I was at home with a 6 month old baby living in Lafayette, Indiana. Wyatt was getting ready to walk out the door for work and JT and I had just finished breakfast. I think that was one of the most terrifying days of my life. I remember being in my living room after putting JT down from a nap and being so overcome with fear. I had no family near. All of my family lived in Virginia and North Carolina and I just felt so very far away from everyone that I loved in that moment. The only thing I could do was hit the floor on my knees and cry out to God and pray. I wept and prayed and buried my face in the floor and just cried to God for the people in the buildings, the first responders, for the people in the planes, the Pentagon, the plane that crashed in the field. I prayed for so many things that morning. That was the first day of many that I was glued to my TV crying and praying and hoping.

Our country changed forever that day. We have so many different tragedies that befall us and can give us a spirit of fear. Shootings and natural disasters, the fate of our government gives some people a spirit of fear. More terrorist attacks. You name it, there is a lot of things we could fear from the time we get up in the morning to the time we lay our head down at night. Well that is if you sleep. Maybe you are so afraid you have a hard time sleeping. I could just stay in my house for the rest of my life if I let fear overtake me. There is one thing that kept coming through during that time back in 2001. God did not give us a spirit of fear. – For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 We are not to walk around afraid or stay closed up somewhere so nothing happens to us. God created us to share his love with those around us. We can’t do that if we are afraid.

I always remember that scripture on this day every year. God did not give me a spirit of fear, in short. I think for a long time I thought I had that under control. I’m not afraid. I walk with courage and power and love. I was mistaken. I had a lot of liquid courage. I used Vodka to give me courage. I was lying to myself. I was so afraid. I did have a spirit of fear. I certainly wouldn’t compare my walk to those who have experienced the type of terrifying tragedies that I mentioned above. I was still fearful. Fearful that something would happen to me or my family. Fearful that I couldn’t raise this little baby boy to be better than me. Fearful that he would be just like me. Fearful that I wasn’t a good wife. Fearful to go out in public. Fearful of me. Fearful of who I am as a person and not letting anyone know who I really am. That was my biggest fear of them all. I conquered my fear. All it took was alcohol. That conquered a multitude of fears. Really it just turned me into a drunk. Then I was just afraid that someone would find out how much I was drinking and how often. ‘Round the mountain we go. I thought I was conquering my fear when I stopped drinking. I really just found another way to hide and I’m ready to face this fear head on.

So today on this anniversary of 9/11 I want to take time to remember all the people that lost their lives, all the people that fought to save lives on this day. All the families that were affected by this senseless tragedy. This was just such a far reaching act of terroristic proportions that one can not name all those that were possibly affected. Lets pray for God to wrap them up today especially but every day in his peace and that they are drawn closer to him. Lets face our fears with a spirit of power and of love and of sound mind. – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

His Gift

It’s been a little over two weeks since my Dad passed. He passed away on August 23rd. I miss him very much but the funeral wasn’t as much of a funeral as it was a call to know the Lord. That’s exactly what my Dad would have wanted. Several people stood up to speak about him and how he had touched their lives and how God had come into their life through my Dad. There was laughter and there was tears. My Cousin Bryan spoke and my nephew Nick spoke. They led the service. They both did an amazing job. If you walked in there unsure of who God is and how much he loves you, you walked out knowing the truth. (If you were listening)

The Gospel was spoken on August 31, 2019 at 2:00 PM. It was a celebration of my Dads life and a dedication to the man he was. That was the overwhelming theme. I never heard my Dad or anyone that knew my Dad say he was afraid to talk about the Lord no matter where he was or who he was with. That was who he was and I hope is what everyone that walked out of there will remember about him. He loved Jesus. All you had to do was be listening and have your heart open that day and you could have received the greatest gift you will receive in a lifetime. The gift of Jesus. The gift of eternal life. The gift of being saved. Not by anything that you or I could do. Not by trying super hard or finally earning the right to have him give you that gift but by believing. God loves you as you are, where you are and you just have to accept him and know that he died for you on the cross and shed his blood for you as a sacrifice to wash you clean of your sins. He was buried and rose three days later and ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God where you will see him and live there eternally when you die if you accept him. If you didn’t know that before you walked into Monaghan’s Funeral Home you should have known it when you left. That was my Dads parting gift to all that gathered there that day. I know seeds were planted and they will just need to be watered by the next gardener God puts in the path of those open hearts.

You don’t always get to see the seed you planted flourish in the spiritual world. Sometimes you might not even know that you actually planted a seed. I was so blessed that day to meet a man that I had heard about through the years. Winston Parker. I met him his wife and daughter. This man, if I have the story right, had asked my parents to come to church on many occasions when they were young and I think living the young fun life. I think it may have taken quite a few invites for them to finally go. This man was the reason my Dad accepted Christ. How amazing is that!!! What an awesome sight for him to see. That 50ish years ago he invited a couple to church and they finally came probably to get this guy off their back so he would leave them alone and this is what came of that. That makes me want to shout with joy! Through him Christ has been shared in countless places, throughout the world and will be shared down through generations to come. What a legacy for Winston and what a legacy for my Dad. It was an honor to meet him that day. I am so glad he was able to see the fruit of God’s good work working through him. So the lesson here is, never stop asking. Maybe that friend or couple or co-worker will come to church with you just to get you to stop asking. Maybe that’s all it will take.

What a life my Dad had and how blessed am I to be a part of it. To have been able to call him Dad. It wasn’t a walk in the park for him. He wasn’t a man without faults. There isn’t a man without faults but he did a great thing. He shared this great gift that is more valuable than all the riches in the world. Thank you Dad. You are still my hero. I will see you again and if there’s a DVD player in heaven we can watch The Storm of The Century if we can get God to make it snow. Maybe they have streaming up there. Haha, I’m sure there will be better things to do than watch movies.

My Dad, My Hero

Jesus Is Waiting

I am at a loss. I have been trying to blog since we came home from inpatient hospice on Monday. I have written and deleted I don’t know how many times. Nothing seems right for me to put on the page. I’m all over the place.

We were given such a gift from God on Monday. Dad woke up, is how I like to describe it. It’s called a rally. It’s very common for a person to have a rally as it gets closer to the time that they are going to pass. He was alert and he wanted to eat and we all got to spend some time with him. I think we all got to tell him things that we thought we weren’t going to get the chance to tell him. I had the chance to tell him I love him again. I had the chance to hear him tell me he loved me. I was able to hold his hand and look in his eyes and let him know how very much he means to me. What a good, good, father he is. I don’t want to let him go. Looking around the room at all the people that had gathered to spend a moment with him and love on him was overwhelming. There must have been close to 20 people in the room. A person isn’t surrounded by that many people if they did not touch all those lives in some special way. The room was lit up with laughter and love, tears of joy and tears of sadness. I went to bed that night feeling like I had been rushed from the bottom of Mt. Everest straight to the top in about 5 seconds. Cold wind rushing in my face, snow hitting me and standing on the top peak with the sun shining down on me warming every part of my being making me feel alive.

Only to wake up the next morning and find that he had gone back inside himself again. As fast as I had been whisked to the peak I had been dragged back down to the valley and the trip was exhausting. He was still somewhat responsive and could call us by name. We were still able to talk to him and understand if he was uncomfortable or in pain or not. He was still able to say I love you but that spark that had been lit the day before was slowly going out. Little by little he has traveled inward until he is unresponsive. We might get some sort of an answer every now and then when we talk to him and ask him questions but I believe he is battling now. He has many conversations, most of them we can’t decipher but he is talking to someone. The nurse explained so many things to us about the mind and the body and how they fight against eachother. His body is struggling and is tired and I think he is ready to rest but his mind still wants to stay and isn’t ready to quite let go. He is having hallucinations according to the nurse and I like to think he sees his Mom. Meemaw is sitting in her rocking chair chuckling and shaking all over and can’t wait to hug him and show him around. I’m so excited for him to go and sit and talk with Jesus. I know he is going to have all his quesions answered and I can just picture his face full of light and love and joy when he sees the Father. At the same time I want to be selfish and hold on to him. I know it is time. I don’t want him to suffer or be in pain or struggle to stay because he thinks we are not going to be ok. I have told him it’s ok. He can go. As much as I will miss him and mourn his loss I know I will see him again. That’s what makes death so bearable. I know he knows Jesus as his Lord and savior. I know Jesus as my Lord and savior. I know where he is going without the shadow of a doubt and I know where I am going. So I know we will be reunited. Death is not the end. It’s just the beginning. We are only on this earth for a short period of time. If there is one thing my Dad would want anyone to know who is reading this or who knew him it would be Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you. Jesus rose from the dead for you. You can have eternal life and live with him in eternity if you just believe and accept him as your lord and savior, admit you are a sinner (as we all are) and believe he died and rose from the dead and is the one true Son of the living God. He will wash you white as snow and you will be forgiven. You will have eternal life. So you see, earth is just a short journey and we should certainly live and love and spread the love of Jesus Christ while we are here. Death is where our real life begins. It’s where we are made whole again if we so choose and to live in peace for eternity or to be separated from God for all eternity. That is the true definition of hell.

So while I sit here today by my Dads bed and watch him labor to breathe and struggle with a foot in both worlds so to speak I pray that he will hear us and know that it is ok. I love him with all my heart but Jesus is waiting and I will see him in a short while where we can sit and talk just me and him on the steps.

What’s Most Important

I am laying in the hospice suite at Regional Memorial tonight getting ready to go to bed. My Dad was taken to the ER yesterday and then admitted to ICU. Now the day before, Friday, he was at Sheltering Arms, where he had been for a little over a week doing physical therapy getting his strength back and was walking with his cane and going up 3,4 steps and coming down them. He was doing really good. We were looking forward to him being released the following Saturday and coming home. We just wanted to take care of him and make him comfortable. Let him feel the sun on his face, feel the breeze be surrounded by the people that love him the most and would do anything to make this process as easy and pain free as we could.

He had a heart attack! Yes, I know. That’s not in the script. We didn’t plan for that. We have everything lined up just so and that doesn’t involve a heart attack a trip to the ICU and my Dad dying at any time now. He has a year to a year and a half. Oh wait, no probably a year, that’s more of what we should expect. Well, now we are thinking more like 6 to 9 months. Wow, this really is a tragedy. We did not think this was going to play out like this. We thought we would have several rounds of chemo, radiation etc. etc. This is just not how we saw this going. These of course are not the exact words from the Dr. Some, but you get the general idea. We are just a little under the three month mark. How did we go from a year and a half to we might not even make it to three months? How did we get here? This just happened so fast? I’m not ready? I have plans, I’ve rearranged my house for him to come stay there. I want him to sit on the front porch with me. I want to read to him, take him on walks. My Mom is not ready. She has plans for things she wants to do or say I’m sure. My brother and sisters, his grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends. We have things to do and say and want to have that one special moment in the time we have left! It’s not fair! Don’t take that from me God!

I needed to take a minute and get myself together. I have calmed down a little. I forgot during all my planning that I wasn’t in control. I haven’t been in control of any aspect of this since the very beginning. Nothing about this cancer has gone the direction we thought it was going to go and everytime we get comfortable a curve ball is thrown our way. I don’t get to plan my Dad’s last days. The hour and the time, the when and the where. Is there comforting music playing. Is he surrounded by all his family. Have we all gotten to look in his eyes at least once since this started and let him know how much we love him, how much he means to us, how much we are going to miss him. How JT and I know that if we ever saw an alien he is the only one that would ever believe us. How he can look at me and know if I’m not doing well I can talk to him about anything, if I need to call him in the middle of the night to have him pray for me or anything there is never a question he just does. That no matter what I have done in my life I know my Dad loves me unconditionally. PERIOD!!

I don’t know if anyone got to say or do all they wanted. I don’t think there would ever be enough time to be honest with you because the list would go on forever. I do know a couple of things though in thinking and writing all of this out. As I wrote this I saw how many things that I listed that I wanted to make sure I got to do and I got to say and I wanted. It’s not about me. It’s not about my comfort. It’s not about making sure I get to take care of my to do list so I feel better. This is about my Dad. All those things are nice and great and movies play out so wonderfully when they show how everything just falls into place so naturally and beautifully. Well that’s not real life. What is real life? What? This is so hard. Losing a parent is just not even registering correctly with me right now.

I want my Dad to know he is loved. I know he knows I love him. I know he knows through this process he is loved by more people than he thought. More people have reached out, visited, sent cards, called, texted, done acts of kindness the list goes on. My Dad was overwhelmed by the love he received and the places it came from. Every hospital we had to go to for even one day do you know what we heard over and over. Wow, he really has a lot of people that love him. We take over a waiting room when we come in. It’s a lot of people. When we were waiting during his brain surgery the Dr. came out and said whoa, you guys have your own rugby team here. A lot of people love him and we all rally and love on each other. I know I’m bias but my Dad has the best family in the world.

I want my Dad to be comfortable. He is. That’s where we are now. He is comfortable. It wasn’t my step by step plan, it was God’s. I keep forgetting I’m not his assistant. My brother Buddy made a statement that this might have been better for him and for us than to have him struggle and suffer months on end from the effects of the brain tumor. I never thought about that. He would slowly lose control of the left side of his body. Sight, movement, feeling, speech and much more. Is that what I want so I can sit on the front porch with him or take him for a walk. I think not.

So Lord willing we will be able to move him to my house tomorrow so he is in a familiar comfortable place, we can fit a lot of family in and people can stay the night but that is in Gods hands. He is a good good Father and he knows whats best for my Dad and that’s what’s most important.

(Just a little side note. I am super tired and I typed this and proof read it without my glasses on so ignore any misspelled words or crazy ramblings. I just wanted to get my thoughts out tonight. Thanks ya’ll)

Thank God

Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t written in over a month. When I started this in May my goal was to atleast write once a week if not more and it was going to be about my walk. The struggles I have had with sobriety, with relationships, being a Mom, with God, just generally being me and living. If I could encourage just one person out there and open up about my failures, my struggles, my victories all the wonderings that race through this head of mine it would be worth it. Little did I know that when I started writing it would be so healing for me. So God has blessed me just by writing and sharing. I really hope it helps someone out there and I hope most of all you know you are not alone in how you feel or what you go through. If nothing else though I heal a little more each time I sit here and the letters flow through my fingers to make the words on the page.

I did not intend to take this much of a break but life has a way of sticking it’s foot out as you are running by and making you really ugly fall. When my Dad was diagnosed with an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Brain tumor on May 23rd life really did stick it’s foot out. Actually it threw a ridiculous amount of marbles out onto the road and I, well my whole family, have been trying to navigate that road ever since. We’ve been sliding and rolling and doing a balancing act to stay upright and move forward at the same time. We have all been trying to find our place in this and be where we need to be. What I have seen over these last months is nothing short of amazing. I have also learned God has given every one of us a different gift that we have the potential to use during a time like this. People have reached out in so many different ways and the love and support have often come from places that we did not expect. I also am learning to accept help from people and not to judge someones motives. Where I was expecting certain things from one direction they were coming from another. Not everyone can deal with illness, caregiving and dying the same way. You have to learn to meet people where they are and be thankful for the gifts that God has given them and how they are using them. Some are great encouragers, some send wonderful cards, some just check in time to time to see how you are doing. Others are hospital visitors, meal providers, shoulders to cry on and people to vent to. Some work with their hands and have contacts in the right places, loaning and putting together a wheelchair ramp that saved us a lot of money. Some send people to clean your house when you just don’t have it in you or to put in a handicap toilet because your Dad is coming to live with you. Others drive 5 hours here and back almost every weekend to give you a break and because they want to be here to take care of their Father, Grandfather, Grandfather in law. If they could be here 24/7 they would. Still others drive that far just to visit or have given money either to help with expenses or they have donated to the National Brain Tumor Society. I say all that to say I am learning to let people use the gifts they have and not require things and judge people for their actions as to why they did or didn’t do something. That is not a complete list of all the amazing people who are around us daily or who have been there for us and helped us through this. It’s just a little glimpse of how blessed we are.

I have also learned how I must pay it forward. I know the next time I run accross someone who is going through something. An illness, a crisis, a marble balancing act, instead of just saying how sorry I am and let me know if there is anything I can do I need to show up. That doesn’t have to mean to their house every day or maybe it does if that’s what God wants from me. A card, a meal, a phone call, some flowers, whatever the circumstance try to meet the need. That person is never going to let you know if they need anything so I know I just need to do.

This is a hard journey. For my Dad, for my family, for all those its affecting around us but I do know one thing. I have seen God show up a lot through out this and I need to remember that. I have seen my family become closer because of this and I need to be thankful. I have seen the giving heart of people that I never even thought cared and I need to rejoice. I have gained a lot of wisdom through this and I need to give it away. I have had my own personal hardships but I have also had my own personal victories and I need to Thank God.

Cucumber Water

Finding a place to keep living in the middle of taking care of my Dad has been hard. Now don’t misunderstand. I am not taking care of him by myself and he does not have to be sat with 24/7. We are not at that stage yet. I mean just continuing to the every day things that need to get done instead of putting my life and everyone else in it on hold so I can just concentrate on him and what he needs and be there for he and my Mom.

I don’t know about you but when something so big comes up in my life I have a knee jerk reaction to look at everything else around me and everyone else around me and say “You all are just going to have to exist on your own because as of this moment I am no longer available.” Granted the way things run will have to change but I just can’t wak out of my life. I still have a husband, a son living at home who just recently got his tonsils removed and needed to be taken care of for two weeks, a house to keep semi straight, animals that aren’t going to feed themselves and a garden that would probably keep Kroger’s produce section stocked for the rest of the summer. I still have to keep living. I’m a fixer. If there’s something wrong well you just sit down make a list plan out how you are going to take care of that and you get it fixed. Follow the list, A B C D or 1 2 3 4. My Mom and my sister are the same way. Fixers. None of us can fix this. You just have to live in this. I’m also a perfectionist. If you don’t understand completely what that means it doesn’t mean that everything I have is perfect all the time. It means that if I can’t do it completely and accomplish it all the way through exactly as I need to I can’t do it. So, the kitchen needs cleaned but I only have time right now to sweep the floor. That’s not going to work because the whole kitchen needs to be cleaned. What good is it going to do to just sweep the floor. It’s bill paying day but I also have to balance my checkbook on the same day. If I can’t do both I will have to do that tomorrow because you can’t do one without the other. Yes I know, that is sounding a little OCD. So I will just leave things undone until I can accomplish the whole task at one time. You see where that would get me. With a big pile of chaos and my anxiety level is just off the charts.

I need to find a place to just live in this. I need to understand I CAN’T FIX THIS!! Ya know it’s still hard to deal with my brain and all the thoughts that go through it. It has almost been 2 years but sometimes it can feel like it’s only been 2 days. The thought goes through my head that I could deal with everything much better if I could just sit down at the end of the night and have a vodka tonic. Then I could just relax. Really, is that how that would go. No, it would start there but quickly and I mean very quickly that would be 5 or 6 VK’s light on the tonic at the end of the night.

A couple things happened yesterday that made me happy to be in the moment. My Mom and I were wrestling this wheelchair out of the back of my car and getting my Dad in it so she could wheel him into the house through the back. Well I was trying to make it easier on her and get him in the chair and wheel him through the grass to the walkway so she wouldn’t have to push him through the grass. It’s kind of hard to do that if you never have. Well I ran over her foot and she laughed and I laughed and it was just kind of comical. I ran and parked the car and came through the front door out the back and she was having a hard time pushing him off the walkway through the grass to the patio. So then we both pushed him and Dad was using his cane like an oar as if he was helping us get through the grass. Uh, if you didn’t know already that was of no help and I let him know that but it was all just funny. The other thing that happened was JT came home last night and I was still up and we just sat and talked a bit. Not about anything in particular but just about stuff. Just talking, he and I on the couch talking and laughing. I love those moments.

I tell you those two things to say I know if I were drinking I would have been moody and irritable with my Mom and my Dad to get them where they needed to be so I could get home and have a drink. I would miss the funny laughs that you have to have through this to keep your sanity. My Dad needs to laugh, we all need to laugh. If we can’t do that this road is going to be longer and harder than we think it is. I would have already been drunk by the time JT got home and would have had little to no interest in talking to him and felt that he was interuppting my me time. What a missed moment. Those are the kind of moments your kids remember when they get older. Not what they got for Christmas when they were 12 or what they got on their 16th birthday but those moments when you laugh and talk heart to heart and you are just loving on eachother.

So reading through all this rambling I’ve done today I come to this conclusion. Find a way to live in this. I’m not going to fix it. Making a list is fine for certain things but it’s going to be ok if you have to move those things from day to day. Doing a little bit at a time is fine, if you don’t do any of it it’s never getting done. Stick with cucumber water it doesn’t make you nearly as moody, irritable or give you the same hangover that vodka tonic’s do.

Consider It Joy

Things sure have changed for me in the last month.  I seem to spend a majority of my time at Dr.’s appointments or hospitals.  I’m sitting in the hospital right now waiting on the Dr. to come tell me that everything went well with my son as he had his tonsils taken out today.  There is never a dull moment here.  I think I had four hours of sleep last night.  Ya know it could be worse.

It can always be worse.  I guess that’s what I keep stumbling upon.  No matter what your circumstances it can always be worse.  We checked into the hospital this morning and signed all the paperwork and went over everything including my portion of the bill.  Which was not to bad since I’ve used the heck out of my insurance this year and hit my deductible.  JT and I were looking at the total of the procedure and thinking, What if we didn’t have insurance?  We wouldn’t be able to afford the procedure.  What if we couldn’t pay our portion?  We wouldn’t be able to get his tonsils out.  Now whether we get JT’s tonsils removed or not is not life threatening.  Think about other situations.  What if we did not live in a place that affords us the opportunity to have his tonsils removed?  What if I could never have gotten the antibiotic the first time JT had strep throat?  What if? What if? What if?  I could go on and on with the what if’s because there are so many.  We are so very blessed and most of the time forget that we are.  Your situation can always be worse.  How? Do you really want to know?

My Dad was quoting some scripture yesterday just sitting in the living room.  One such scripture he mentioned was “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perserverance.  Let perserverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1: 2-4.  He was kind of talking that through with everything that he’s going through, Is this tumor from God? Is this tumor from Satan? Am I to consider this tumor Joy?  Are we to consider our situations sent from God?  Are we in them because that’s where he placed us?  I certainly don’t consider myself a scholar of the Bible.  I haven’t even read the entire thing but I am trying to do that.  By the way that still won’t make me a scholar of the Bible.  I think each one of us can apply scripture to our lives.  There is truth in each scripture.  It’s not that it has a different meaning depending on how you read it.  I believe it applies differently to your life depending on where you are at in your journey.  Does that make sense?  Maybe not.  Sometimes words in my head don’t make sense on the screen.  I think God does place us in the right moment at the right time in order to  “fulfill his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13 and  “work for the good of those who love him.” Rom. 8:28.  I also feel like we well I’ll say me,  I have to go about it the hard way.  Instead of taking a direct route to where God needs me to be I go around and around the mountain.  I can’t remember if I’ve seen that rock before so I take another trip around.  But that’s the beauty.  Not while you are going through it necessarily.  When you get there!!  If God wanted us just to get there he would have created robots who could not think and act for themselves.  We can, think and act for ourselves, and we fail and we fall and we learn and our faith gets tested and it produces perserverance.  That’s when God shows you where he needs you to be when you have matured and you see that rock.  You realize you have seen that rock 17 times.  If I just would have noticed the grafitti on the right side I would have known I passed that rock 17 times before.

So is my Dad supposed to consider his tumor joy? Am I supposed to consider it joy?  All these things that are happening are they from God? My feeling is this, the tumor is not joy, JT’s “faulty” tonsils are not joy.  Am I here due to my own choices or because God put me here.  I’m here by the grace of God.  He brought me through all my terrible choices and he will continue to be a good good father and walk with me through my choices to come.  Good, bad, silly and really, are we going to go through that again choices.   As hard as it is sometimes I need to remember to consider it pure joy.