Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Cancer Won't Change

I have learned a lot over the past couple of months. More than I ever wanted to learn about cancer.

Cancer is complicated. The diagnoses are confusing. Nothing is certain. It seems to be a lot of guess work. For me, it's a lot of prayer.

The day before her 46th birthday, my mom found out she had cancer. She found out it was in 2 spots of her body, it being classified as metastatic stage 4 cancer. I didn't realize the seriousness of it at the time, although I've come to understand more over the past few months.

My mom started chemo almost immediately after the diagnosis. She wanted to take action quickly because her type of cancer spreads quickly. I could say a lot about this cancer thing but I think I will tell you about my amazing mother instead. I am writing instead of what cancer won't change, no matter how hard it tries.

My mom is strong. I would have said this before cancer, but I am realizing just how strong she is during this journey. She doesn't flinch at the needles being put in her. She shrugs off the fact that she has been in so many different doctor's offices the past few months. She continues to work at her job and to work out at the gym during chemo. She is the strongest woman I know, maybe the strongest person.

My mom is beautiful. I love this picture of her from high school. I can see who I know as my mom in this picture, but she also looks so different. I see a beautiful, curly haired, sparkling young woman. She is just beautiful. I have always thought so, even though she doesn't agree when I say so.  

My mom is loved. She is so much more than my mom. She has so many friends, so much of a past that doesn't involve us kids. I have seen some of these people on facebook and it is encouraging to know that so many people love my mom & care so much for her. Even people I do not know. These people are praying for my siblings & I too, just because they love my mom so much. She has touched so many lives. It's really amazing to see how many people know her.

My mom married a really good guy. I have always loved my dad of course, but I have seen this whole new side of him since October. He is doing everything he possibly can to support my mom. He is changing his diet, taking vitamins, switching his schedule to be with her. He is taking her to do anything and everything she wants to do. I have always admired their relationship, they are so loving towards each other. It is a love that I hope my husband and I will have.

My mom had a wonderful mom, my mim. I wish I had known her longer. Mim died of breast cancer when I was young, I think ten or so. But my mom always speaks of her so lovingly. She sounds like a wonderful mom. My mom is the youngest of 5 kids. Her siblings are also wonderful. My mom speaks fondly of growing up with them, even though she was the baby and the oldest sibling is several years older than my mom.

My mom is fun. I never had any of those 'my mom is the worst' stories while growing up. We had our arguments and we still do. But I never remember thinking that I hated or or desperately wanting to get out of the house. She knows more Katy Perry songs than me. More dance moves too. She was just as excited to see the Plain White T's live as I was.  She still acts like she's in her twenties and jokes around just as much as my dad. My friends liked hanging out with her and I wanted her to come visit me at college. She is silly and adventurous and has a contagiously joyous spirit.

My mom has taught me so much and is always there for me. I am so blessed to know her and to be her daughter. I would not be the person I am today without her. I can't write down everything she's done for me because there is much more than I even know. 

Anyways, I am writing this just to remind her how much she means to me. Just to encourage her, to show her that I love her so much! She can and will beat this cancer. God is using this to remind me of how wonderful she is, of how fragile life is, and of how strong He is. Cancer can't take away any of these wonderful traits that my mom possesses. 

It's been quite a journey and there is more to come. But I know my mom will stay strong. 

~Nothing Without Him~

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

23 Things Post

There is a blog someone posted about 23 things to do instead of getting engaged before 23. When I first read it, I didn't really think too much about it, even though I got married at the age of 23.

There have since been several posts & blogs concerning this girls post. I thought about writing my own for awhile defending my marriage & how I made the choice knowing that divorce wasn't an option for my husband and I, no matter how young we are; defending how happy we are & how there are more meaningful things to do in a year than some of the things this young lady posted.

My mindset changed dramatically today when I read two posts by strangers of the original author. They berated this girl for her post, called her names, & were judgmental of her life. This made me sick to see people trashing one another & judging one another over a simple blog post!

I see it all the time on these social media outlets & I realized today that I've become accustomed to it. It's totally normal to post hurtful words about another human being because it's just the internet, not real life right??

But tonight, it just hurt me to see all these nasty posts to a 23 year old, or really to anybody! Blogs and social media should be used as a way for people to connect to one another, to share happiness & love. It may sound corny but seriously, where did all the joy & friendship in social media go??

I have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a blog. But I don't want to use these social networking tools to tear others down & complain about my problems (although I guess this is kind of complaining now??). I want to start being more intentional about using these tools to lift people up, to share love & joy, to reach out to friends & family who live far away.

If you see me complaining or being intentionally rude/mean to someone on social media, please call me out! I am posting this in a public blog so that I might grow as a kind, God loving, human being. God says that we should hold fellow Christians accountable for their actions, in a kind way. He does not say to judge others, just to help each other in our walks. As a true God follower, I want to be called out when I am going against His will.

I am scared to do this because I don't want this media outlet to become just like the rest, BUT check out this website if you want to spread a little more joy. It's all about posting things you are HAPPY about! What a concept, a website where only positive things are said??!! I love it & it makes me happier :)

Have a happy evening :)

--Nothing Without Him--


Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 Recap

I cannot believe it is 2014! Time seems to go by so quickly. Before I began posting about new happenings in my life, I wanted to review last year. It was a big year for me in many ways but I'll start in the beginning!

  • I lived in three places in 2013! 
    • The first two places were with Cassie. We started out the year living in an adorable villa in Dillsboro. In February, we moved to a cheaper and much less adorable apartment in Sylva. And it snowed twice right after we moved!

    • The third place is where I now live with my hubby. In August, Tripp & I moved into our first real house in Alarka (part of Bryson City). 

  • I had three different jobs in 2013!
    • I continued with my teaching job at SME! I started a new school year in the fall, same classroom & grade! Thanks to Tabatha who helped me make it through my first year! 
    • February-July, I worked as the interim Children's Ministry Coordinator at my church, First United Methodist of Sylva. I could not have done this job without Tripp, Cassie, Carolyn Colton, Susan Huss, and many of the other people who volunteered to teach children's church! Thank you to those that were so helpful. The job brought to light how frustrating it is to be in a church full of people who are unwilling to volunteer their time for God's work. There are various reasons people have for not helping but I encourage you, if you are able, volunteer ANY amount of time at your church. There is a lot of work that happens behind the scene and it is truly disheartening to how few people actually volunteer their time. 
    • In the summer, I was the head teacher of a summer school class for school aged children! It was so much fun!
    • I guess I had 4ish jobs! I also continued babysitting, although usually Tripp helped. And I helped Tripp teach a toddler, and in the fall school age and toddler, Spanish class. It is also fun!
  • I traveled A LOT in 2013! 
    • Almost every month, we traveled to Gastonia to visit Tripp's family. We also traveled to Franklin often to visit my family. 
    • I went to Hilton Head with these two beautiful ladies! Love them and am so excited to travel with them again this February. 

    • In March, I traveled to Gaitlinburg, TN for the 3rd annual Sylva Community Women's Retreat! I cannot any pictures BUT it was a wonderful time spent with old and new friends. I led a small group with discussion questions that were given to me (thankfully) and was so honored to be a part of this time of growth with some amazing women! 
    • In April, I went to Chattanooga, TN with my baby brother! We had a great time, eating yummy food, checking out the aquarium and watching an Imax movie! 

    • In June, I traveled to traveled to Isle of Palms/Charleston, SC for my honeymoon! We then flew to Chicago, which was a blast! 
    • In July, we went to the beach with Tripp's family. We went to North Myrtle Beach! 
    • At the end July, Tripp & I traveled to Texas to bring my sister some of her things as she was moving there. We also brought her lovely dog. 

    • In November, we traveled to Winston-Salem for a conference for Tripp. Matthew was there too, performing with his gamelan class. It was great seeing him perform and hanging with my hubby! 
    • This December we traveled a lot! We did the usual trips to Gastonia and Franklin to see family. Then, we went to Florida! We went first with our friends, Cassie & Rachel, to go to the Wizarding World park at Islands of Adventures! Then, we went further south to Sarasota to visit my family. I am so thankful Cassie & Rachel were willing to make this happen!

  • This year was full of big life changing events! 
    • In May, my (at the time) fiance graduated college! I am so proud of him! He then began filling out bunches of job applications as I finished my first year of teaching!

    • In June, Tripp & I were married! I've already posted two long blogs about that :) 
    • In June also, my sister moved to Texas to work for Teach For America. I am very proud of her, although I miss her very much!
    • In July, Tripp got a teaching job in Andrews! He teaches middle & high school chorus.
  • A great deal of other things changed in 2013. 
    • Our eating habits changed dramatically, which is in another blog. 
    • I watched two dear friends have a falling out and still feel very saddened by it, even tho so much time has passed. 
    • Tripp & I have begun looking at buying a house in the near future. 
    • I shaved my head. 
    • I ran two 5ks! 
    • I read some books and found new, great music to listen to.
    • I watched lots of Gilmore Girls, 7th Heaven, and New Girl. 
    • I went to 4 very special weddings.
    • A dear friend had a new baby, a beautiful little girl!
A big event began happening in October, when my family learned that my mother has breast cancer. This is a constant daily struggle that I will blog about more.

2013 was a big year, so many good things and some not so good things. One thing that hasn't and will never change is that God is always with me. I don't always communicate well with Him, but, regardless of my actions or lack thereof, He is here with my, guiding me through each. 

Thanks to all for the support and love in 2013! Looking forward to another great year with friends and family! 

--Nothing Without Him--