Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The World is Not my Friend

This past weekend we took a family camping trip to a place called Camp John Marc. We went last year during Jace's first year of treatment. It's an oncology camp for kids and their families who are being treated at Children's Medical Center. 

I admit it. I wasn't really excited about going this year. It's a place that makes you vulnerable. It reminds you of the club you're a part of - the one none of us asked to join. 

I was already vulnerable. I was already emotionally raw. This grieving thing is not easy and I've already done it so many times, I should be a pro. 

I'm not. 

I came home Sunday tired and sore (that kickball game was hardcore competitive). I also came back with a new perspective and a reminder that I need to schedule fun and play into my very daunting and emotionally difficult schedule. It reminded me to check out from technology. We had no reception for 3 days and it was the best thing to happen to me. 

In times of stress, I'm a doer. When Jace first got sick, I set to work organizing and working a plan. Thankfully, I've taken the Kendall Life Language Assessment and have a little more insight into who and what I am. So, while the world would think being a "doer" is a good thing, I know it's just another way to numb myself from all that is going on with me in this moment. 

I have to work at being still and calm. This week was a little worse because I was in "single mom mode" since Jason had long training hours in Dallas. 

The world is not my friend because the world and it's demands do not allow time for me to be still or calm. There is no time in my day to find solitude. I have to be very intentional about finding moments of stillness. 

The world is not my friend because it tells me that numbing my grief and stress is the better way. I know it's not. It's a lie. I need time and space to grieve. 

The world is not my friend because it tells me I need to be "connected" online most of my day. Also a lie. For me, I need genuine, authentic, face-to-face connections a few times in my day. 

The world is not my friend because it tells me being alone is bad. Not true. I know that I need time alone each day to breathe, reflect, and rest. 

The world is not my friend because it tells me I have to be a slave to my phone, email, other people's expectations and demands. Whatever. Don't be offended if I don't respond to you right away, especially now. Some times I'm not in a good place to even have a good text message conversation. 

The world is not my friend because this world is not my destination. I was not meant to stay here forever. It was not meant to give me a comfortable experience. 

So many questions still swirl around in my head and it, honestly, doesn't matter what anyone else feels or thinks about my questions. They are my questions. This is my moment. This is what my grief looks like. This is my story. And as hard as it is, I will rebel against everything the world tells me because it is not the truth. 

"Do not be transformed by the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:12

Thursday, October 16, 2014


"Are the days getting any better?"
"Just wanted to check on you. It seems like you're struggling a lot lately." 

I'm so thankful for people who are brave enough to actually check in on me. I know my life and it's struggles can be overwhelming to others, even intimidating.  (it is for me, too)

i sit. 

i cry out. 

i pray. 

i praise. 

There's so much of my story that I haven't shared yet. So many details of my own iceberg that isn't visible to the rest of the world. So many things I've wanted to share, but was silenced because of shame or fear. 

I am grieving the death of my mom. But that's not all. 

I'm grieving having to put my dad in a facility 500 miles away from me because of Alzheimer's and dementia. 

I'm grieving my brother having to have his own guardian now who is not a family member. 

I'm grieving my family. 

I'm grieving the unraveling. 

The truth is that so many things with my family of origin was a facade. More things than you can even imagine. Things that I know. Things that I saw. Things that I experienced. Things that if I told them to you, you'd probably tell me I was making it all up. 

Boy, do I wish I was. 

Someone asked me last week if I felt alone. 

Yes. I do feel alone a lot, but it's not a new feeling. I felt that way long before this season. I know that feelings are not the truth, though. 

The truth is that I am struggling. 

The truth is behind this face, this smile, this attitude of gratitude, I do struggle with this season. I wonder why. I wonder when I will find a time of rest. I wonder why me. 

I don't share all of this with you so you will pity me. 

I simply share it with you because I want someone out there, someone like me, someone struggling to know they are not alone. 

I share all of this with you so that my fear and shame will no longer have a voice. 

In my truth and in my story, I'm finding authenticity. 

All the while still going on this journey with Jace. Yesterday during chemo, we found out his end-of-treatment date. Yes, I'm thankful we have an end date. At the same time, I'm grieving the expectation I had that the date was sooner and the expectation I had for his kindergarten year. 

Without revealing the date (we want Jace to do that himself), I will say that he will be in treatment for his entire kindergarten school year. My hope was that he would be able to enjoy at least part of it as a "normal" kid. 

The truth is I am thankful through it all. I am praising even through the tears and the grief. 

God is good. I want those that read my story or see me in person to know that is always the bottom line for me. 

He has shown me His faithfulness and love time and time again. I never want my grief or my struggle or my pain to overpower that bottom line. 

I am not alone.

I am loved. 

I am highly favored. 

...and so are you. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014


Norma Rushing
October 19, 1945 - October 3, 2014

I've been silent on my blog for a while. A few months ago I got word that my mom was sick and had decided to go home on hospice care after a long hospital stay. We all knew what that meant. We all knew that she'd struggled since before Jace got sick with her own health. What many did not know is the behind-the-scenes of my relationship with her. I tried to be very careful and respectful of her about our struggling relationship. 

Much of my life was spent trying to make that relationship exactly what we both wanted. It was difficult on both of us for a long, long time. Months before she got sick we had stopped talking. I know why she shut me out and I know that I was only coming from a loving, caring place. There were some toxic people talking to her telling her things that were untrue about my motives for visiting. I struggled weeks before she passed with deciding the right time to travel the 11 hours to see her; to say goodbye. I knew my visit would cause stress and didn't want my presence to create any tension. 

As God always does, I finally felt led to make that long journey. I knew it was time. 

Thursday, I drove with my cousin to visit. We were prepared for what we would experience. We'd both been bracing ourselves for the reality of the future. 

Thankfully, we both made it in time to tell her we loved her and to say goodbye. 

I will never forget that moment. I took her hand. I looked into her eyes and said "I love you." She nodded and raised her head closer to mine and said "I love you, too." I kissed her on the forehead and stroked her hair. 

We left Thursday night knowing that would be our last visit. We got the call the next morning that she was gone. 

I've been preparing myself for this for a long time.  I knew what this would mean for my family. My mom was the caretaker of both my brother and my dad. Without her, we knew they would both need things put in place for their care. 

Many of the things normal families discuss and put in place were not discussed at all. 

I've had a full range of emotions since the time I knew she only had months left. Anger, sadness, hope. . . 

The thing about both of us is that we both said exactly what was on our minds. We both lived different lives. We both approached pain and struggle differently. 

She tried so hard for many years to escape all the painful experiences she had, including my brother's death.

Here's what I read at her memorial earlier this week: 

Unfortunately, my dad is unable to be here today. He is struggling with Alzheimer's and is, currently, in the hospital in NM.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creating, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 8:38

The moment right before my brother died was the very moment I realized just how loved I was. It was the moment I knew God was in the middle of everything we experience. Nothing can separate us from the love He has for us.

Everyone sitting here today is a testament of just how loved my mom and our family was.

Each one of us have different memories of her and had different experiences with her.

What you may not know is just like in any family there is the highlight reel and then the behind the scenes. My relationship with my mom was a difficult one. Like some of you here, I continued to try to reach out, love her, pour into her and remind her just how cared for she was.

My brothers death was a pivotal point in our family. My mom struggled very much to come to terms with that day. And though we have been lucky enough to still have our sweet Jace, I do know how difficult that journey was for her.

Those experiences can cause us to isolate ourselves from everyone and everything. It can cause us to believe no one cares and is just going on about their lives. 

Since that day I have prayed so very hard she would realize that abundant love. I'm choosing to believe the minute she was gone from this earth, she not only realized it but opened her arms and ran to it.

Thank u to each of you for your presence here today and for loving on my mom one last time. 

There were so many people that loved my mom and reached out to her often. Some got through and some didn't. It didn't make them love her any less, including me. It's been heartwarming to read and hear stories of how she helped others, made people laugh, or just made them feel special.

In this season of my life, cancer with Jace, losing my mom, losing my dad also in a sense, and being so far from my brother, some look at me from afar and probably say "Man, I'm glad that's not me!" 

I say, "THANK YOU, GOD! In this season, I'm closer to You. I am closer to Your miracles. I'm closer to others. Thank YOU for showing up every single time I've needed you and for leading me to honor not only my mother, but the life I have and, ultimately, You. " 

One thing my mom did for me every year was try to join my 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge. We would love for you to join us this year! 

October 8 - November 16

RIP Mom. You and John-John are together again finally. <3