Thursday, December 31, 2015

What You Believe, Manifests.

Last year at this time I decided to come up with a personal manifesto rather than a "resolution." 

My 2015 Manifesto was the following: 


Be intentional
Guard your heart
Believe
Be You
Laugh & Love
Be brave  & Passionate
Pray
Find Thanks


The list above actually played itself out for me. I became more intentional about my time, my words, my actions and my faith. I learned through some situations that guarding my heart from certain people was necessary for my well being. I became disciplined in my prayer and in that saw my belief increase. "Ask and it shall be given" (Matthew 7:7) became a daily prayer of mine and just like always God showed up and showed me how BIG He really is. I learned to be myself and not play small to those around me. What you see is what you get with me and I'm choosing to "sugar coat" things less. I learned to embrace all sides of myself more than ever. As always, I struggled to find thanks in everything, but the blessings always outweigh the struggles. 


For 2016, I came up with a new list to add to the previous list and am SO EXCITED about it.

I want to be better at seeking WISDOM this year because wisdom is probably the most worthy treasure a person can have. 

I want to find PEACE in the midst of whatever chaos life brings. I want to make time for more peaceful things in my life and more time for me to just breathe. 

I want to DO LIFE BIG. There's this great song on one of my Apple Music playlists that talks about doing life big and so that's my plan. To do some big things that I've never done before. 

I want to LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY ANYWAY. I added the "anyway" because I have learned to love those in my circle extravagantly, but I want to be intentional about doing that even when I'm unsure if some in my circle may choose to walk away.  

I want to OPEN ARM PRAISE. Not just praise and be full of thanks, but I want to completely surrender to each moment and praise God for all of it. 

I want to GIVE ABUNDANTLY. This goes along with the loving extravagantly. I want to be a better giver and be able to not just give but give above and beyond what I would normally would. 

I want to FIGHT WITH PRAYER. It seems that the easy way these days is to fight with words or with silence, but I want to fight with the strongest weapons I have - my prayers. I want to pray intentionally in all situations, but especially those situations that I cannot control. 

Lastly, I want to SLAY MY GIANTS. I posted a few days ago " Fear helps you settle. Don't retreat when you see a giant in your path." I don't want to allow fear of those big wounds and potholes in my path to keep me from living fully the way God intended. I don't want to retreat, push people away or isolate myself just because something looks too hard for me to overcome. 

2016 is going to be an epic year for me and my family and we hope the same for you!



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Confessions of an Adoptee

I often feel like a poster child for the Lifetime Movie Network. 

I'm serious. 

Adoption. 
Addiction. 
Cancer. 
Divorce. 
Death

I've dealt with it all and I bring a pretty unique perspective to all things and will never, ever think like the normal adult. 

I feel like I become the spokesperson for whatever issue is at the forefront of my day. 

Being my family, being my friend is not an easy task because of that list up there. 

Today is no exception. 

Yes, it's my birthday. 

Yes, I've had some pretty amazing birthday's. (This is one of my all-time favorites!) 

Before adulthood, I LOVED my birthday. I have to admit I got some pretty incredible birthday surprises. It was a day that I celebrated and couldn't wait for each year. 

Then, I grew up. I started asking more and more about my birth parents and the circumstances surrounding my adoption. 

I did not expect to be met with anger and yelling and accusations of not loving my parents. 

All day today I've been trying to figure out why this day now brings me sadness. Last year I just thought it was because my mom had recently passed. Everyone was quick to chime in on that being the reason, so I accepted it and I moved on. 

This year I'm realizing more and more that it's because not only am I grieving a mom that isn't here, I'm also still grieving a mom and a family that I never knew. And with the death of my mom last year, many of the details I sought also died with her. 

I'm speaking out today because all I've ever heard my entire life was "You're so lucky." "You are so special." "You are so loved." "You were so wanted." "You should be so thankful."

And then when I did start having questions soon after my first child was born, I was made to feel like my questions were invalid and not as important as what the family that raised me was feeling. I was told I was being disrespectful and unloving by asking those questions. 

I began feeling like something was very much wrong with me. 

So, I sat with that. 

For a LONG time.

I was caught between wanting to know more and being afraid of hurting those that raised me. I did not bring up my adoption ever again. I did seek out information on my own and know a few of the steps it will take to get some details, but then Jace got sick and my focus became cancer. 

Here's the deal. You can read all about the families that adopt. You can read about amazing reunions between birth parents and children. But I rarely hear from the adoptees themselves. It seems that their voice is the most overlooked and ignored. 

Adoptions have changed a lot in 40 years. I have special friends who have amazing families and are amazing parents to children who've been adopted. Their stories warm my heart. 

I do want to say is that just because a child is adopted or has been adopted doesn't mean that they aren't going to have questions or might wrestle with feelings that are scary.

It doesn't mean that they won't be silently grieving a loss. 
It doesn't mean they are ungrateful. 
It doesn't mean they love those they are with any less. 

Birthdays can be hard just because it's a reminder of loss and unanswered questions.
Birthdays can be hard because they bring up abandonment issues and feelings of anger. 

Next time you are wishing someone "Happy Birthday" remember that there could be a lot of emotions wrapped up in that one simple phrase. 

Research has shown that many adoptees have built walls around themselves to keep others from getting too close. They may hide behind perfectionism, achievement, and self-sufficiency. 

I am no exception to this and constantly struggle with letting those walls weaken. My faith definitely helps with that because despite what I know about my earthly parents I still know WHOSE I am. 

39 years and He is still writing my story . . .


xoxo

Friday, November 13, 2015

What Do You Need?

It's usually the same 25 or so people that check in on us and ask "What do you need?" or "How can I help?"  We wish we had a good answer for them. Thankfully, when something crazy comes up like it has the last week with Jace ( update here )  we have a strong support of people around us lifting us up, praying for us, and bringing us meals. 

The past few weeks have definitely thrown us off of our regular routine. One with a concussion, one in the hospital, and then one sick all at the same time wasn't what we expected to be dealing with right now. 

There are many things we are thankful for aside from the strong circle surrounding us. 
It's not a coincidence that I'm in the middle of my 8th year of doing the 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge. Last year, I had just lost my mom, had to put my dad in a nursing home and had to literally, pick up pieces of their life that were unprepared for all of that change. 
The year before we landed in the hospital with Jace for a 14 day isolation stay. 
I could go on and on. Bottom line is that every time I work at growing my gratitude, I'm greatly challenged to not be thankful. 

Jason and I don't know exactly what our lesson is this time around, but we know there is one. 
We, typically, don't know how to respond when people ask what we need or how they can help. 

Some days it all weighs so heavy on our shoulders. Some days we are too tired to even think. Some days we just want to give up the fight. Some days we just don't know. 




Many of the things that need to be done or taken care of have to be done by us: changing IV, giving meds, driving to the clinic, dealing with work not truly understanding our situation, and sleeping :) 

We WISH that others could do some of those things, but for whatever reason this is our thing to follow God through. 

We aren't giving up, but our hearts are heavy, we are worn, we are tired and most days we are just crying out to him with anything we have left.......

~t

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

September - Childhood Cancer "We Don't Fight Alone"

We are excited about September because this is the month we can be EXTRA LOUD about voicing our support for kids like Jace and reminding others how important childhood cancer awareness is to all of the kids & families affected. We try to give you a glimpse into what families like us experience and all the challenges that pop up along the journey.



This year we not only have a donation list for you again, but we also will be selling t-shirts to honor both Childhood Cancer Awareness and Super Jace.

There are LOTS of ways to support children who have cancer and their families. We don't ask that you do them all, but that you AT LEAST share our story with those you meet and bring awareness for just how many kids are affected each day.


>>WEAR YOUR SUPPORT <<

We've partnered with Kathryn over at Dash of Flair and created a special Childhood Cancer tee that reminds us all that "We Don't Fight Alone" and that everyday 43 kids are diagnosed with childhood cancer.

$4 from each shirt will go to the fund of your choice: Team Connor Or The Jace Poncio Medical Fund.

Kathryn will be taking pre-orders starting now. Please click here to grab your shirt! You can also email her at ShopDashofFlair@yahoo.com for questions.

Shirt sizes 3XL and 2XL...........$25
Sizes S, M, L, XL.......................$20
Youth S, M, L..............................$20
Kids 2T, 3T, 4T, 5/6, 7..............$20





We have also teamed up again with fellow co-worker, Carol Lynn and her husband, to bring back the original blue Super Jace t-shirts. We know you've ALL been asking for them for the longest time and that time is now!!!

We've created a pre-order form for you, also. 
Just click this link and fill in your information: http://goo.gl/forms/uWPfv12u5I
Questions can be sent to onthewingsofgratitude@gmail.com

All shirts $20
* For shipping, add $5





>>SUPPORT WITH YOUR TIME<<
We also will be working with our local high school and St. Baldricks to bring more awareness to schools. Be watching our social media sites or here for more information regarding this effort. We are working hard to get information out to you as soon as we've ironed out the details.

In addition, we've been asked to be part of a few events coming up in October including the local health fair put on by the City of Celina which will include a walk.

We will also be working with Team Conner (listed below) and their Color Me Green 5K and Caterpillar Dash.

Please be watching our social media feeds, Jace's page and our personal pages for more information so you can mark your calendar!


>>DONATE YOUR SUPPORT<<

And as always we encourage you to donate ANY amount of money to the organizations listed below. The government only gives 5% of funding to childhood cancers. Our children are our future and should be taken care of better than this.

As always we thank you for your continued support, love and prayers.

~The Poncios

Childhood Cancer Donation List

**direct money only to childhood cancer related causes, primarily research

If you'd like to, specifically, help a family whose child is currently undergoing treatment, please email us for more information. onthewingsofgratitude@gmail.com   

Visit Charity Navigator to view efficiencies & financial information for many major charities:

National
Cure Search

Triumph Over Kid Cancer

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation

Alex's Lemonade Stand


Local - Texas
Team Connor

Heroes for Children


Sarcoma specific:
Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative

1 Million 4 Anna



OTHER

Make A Wish

Hope Kids

Kenna's Kids

Peach's Neet Feet

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Workplace Prayer

To be completely honest, I struggle A LOT in the workplace. My job has me serving multiple buildings and multiple personalities and people. Many times I become the "in-between" person. I don't have the power to make final decisions and usually just carry out what I'm told to do and most often I only hear the complaining of said decisions. 

Because of the big changes in my job this year and not having as much time off in the summer as I usually do, I've been reflecting on my attitude about the coming year and know I need to adjust my thinking. 

I pray a lot to not take things personally. I pray to focus on what I CAN do instead of what I can't. I pray to be respectful of leadership and their decisions even if I don't agree with them and to be patient with those around me. 

The new year hasn't even started and I feel more stressed than ever that I won't be able to fulfill everything that needs to be done. I've had to come up with small boundaries in order to maintain time with my family on my days off so I don't get caught up in the stress when I'm off the clock. 

I searched for a prayer that might work for me and came up empty, so I decided to come up with my own. I thought I would share it just in case I'm not alone. :) 



Dear Lord,

Help me to work for you & to respect authority around me. 
Nudge me to live each day full of honesty & integrity. 
Guide me when faced with trials & tests at my workplace. 
Show me opportunities to bless others & to let YOUR light shine through me. 
Overwhelm my spirit & soul with grace and love for my co-workers. 
Remind me to have an attitude of gratitude & to display patience for others. 
Lead me to opportunities to use the gifts & talents you've given me to serve You. 
I rest daily in the faith I have in You and in the borderless love You have for me. 

Amen. 



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Affirmation

Most of my life I've known how important words of affirmation are to all of us. Thankfully, God placed some pretty incredible people throughout my life to speak into me. If it was all up to me, I probably wouldn't be as good at speaking words of affirmation to myself or my family. I would still be believing my life was meant as a punishment instead of a gift. 

A leader at our church spoke these words into us this weekend and it reaffirmed a message I believe God is speaking to me: 

Be sowers of good seed everyday. Let the words you speak and the deeds you do reflect what God wants to do through you. 

Many of you that have been reading with me here know that I've been on a lifelong spiritual journey and my life and my heart have been messy all along the way. 

Because I'm in education, I usually take what little time "off" I get in the summers to refocus and listen more intently to what God wants me to do and say and hear. 

The last few weeks I've been immersing myself in reading. I'm reading Anything  by one of my favorite authors ever, Jennie Allen. I've read and re-read her Chase study and just finished up her Stuck study. I love how transparent and authentic she is with her writing and speaking. 

Alongside Anything I'm also re-reading Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers). 

These books are pouring into me what social media isn't no matter how much I clean up my timeline or feed. 

If you really want to read about love- true, pure, unbinding love, you need to read Redeeming Love as soon as possible. I'm serious. You can buy it here: http://goo.gl/h2RybW and if you have Prime Membership, you'll get it as early as tomorrow. It will change your life. 

I wish on all the stars in the sky someone had sent me to read this when I was 14 or 15. What a lot of heartache that would've been healed if only I'd seen and heard these words sooner. 

Two things I'm having to be reminded of as often as I breathe lately is that God's love is greater than anything in this world. It's greater than any pain: past or present. It's greater and wider and deeper than my heart can even imagine. 

The other thing I'm wrestling with on a daily basis is doing what God has called me to do. If I'm willing to do anything for Him, then why am I not doing it? What's holding me back? 

These are some of the lies I tell myself: 

I am unworthy
➵I have nothing to offer
➵This story is just for me
➵I deserve to carry the weight of this story on my own
➵I do not have the words, time or ability to carry out what you're asking
➵It is too painful to relive. 
➵What people think about me and my story will change how they view me

Lately, I'm beginning to think that most of these lies replay in my head because I'm not listening to the right voices. I took an experimental 2 days to deactivate my personal Facebook account and unfollowed a few people on Twitter and Instagram. I started picking up my phone to read and my Bible to study more. 

From Thursday to Monday, I'd handwritten 15 pages that were hard and painful to relive. As I opened my Bible yesterday during my Anything study, I was looking for 1 John, but ended up stopping at John. If you're a believer in "God Winks" as I am, you will know my turning to John was not an accident. 

"He came as a witness to testify to the light." {John 1: 7}

When I stop letting the lies swirl around in my head I'm able to see that God is using my story and my story with #superJace as a testimony to His light. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not EVER overcome it. {John 1: 5}

I think as a people we get really caught up in the world and the worldly ways and the worldly opinions and when we immerse ourselves in all of that we become most like the world. When I focus on the world, I quit focusing on what God has for ME to do. I forget His promises and start listening to the lies. 

I thought I would share with you our family's daily affirmation. We say this together before we start out each morning. We say it in the middle of the day if it's been a hard chemo day with Jace. We say it at night if the stress level in our house seems to be rising.

I wrote it one day sitting in church as I thought about how the words we say are like seeds. They grow and multiply into something beautiful or they become like weeds in our lives. I needed this affirmation as much if not more than my kids: 




Some days I didn't WANT to say these words. Some days I had great difficulty believing these words. Some days my own family had to prompt me to say them. Even in my resistance, these words had power over my day and my life. I hope they will for you, too. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Behind the Smiles

Ugh. This week has already been tough. 

If you scan through any of my social media feeds {or the past blog posts here}, you'll most likely find the positives, the smiles, and  the gratitude. You'll also find a dash of authenticity and reality thrown in there, too. Part of what I wanted to do in the very beginning of my journey with Jace was be real. I wanted to be able to give you the day-to-day Tisha - not the one people call heroic, or brave, or an example. I may be all of that, but at the end of the day I'm really just me, daughter of the most high, and thankfully so because I could do it no other way. 

Some weeks are easier than others, but NONE of the weeks are easy. 

As you've probably gathered from the last year, holidays are bittersweet. Mother's Day and Father's Day, in particular. I do a lot of avoiding of social media and and television. There are some spaces that are still healing and as thankful as I am to be a mom to these amazing kids and have an amazing husband who is one of the best dads, we both agree that these days are often still filled with pain and reminders of what we didn't have or have lost. 

I miss my dad. I miss the random and unplanned talks we would have late at night. I miss him teasing me or hugging me. I miss him looking at me and being able to tell me all kinds of memories from my childhood. I miss him talking to me on the phone and remembering what he had for dinner or what he did the day before. Someday I may miss that he even remembers me. 

On the flip side, the day is also painful for my girls who always spend it with their dad. This year their visit was filled with mostly anxiety which made me a lot more anxious about the day. It was a hard day for us all because everything seemed off-balance. 

THEN.....

because chemo is a few days away, Jace has a hard time sleeping. He anticipates the port needle going in and the "sleepy room" (aka spinal) and the pentam booth. Last month was a hard one with him because he was more angry about it all. Every night since has been harder when it's time to take his chemo pills. He doesn't understand why taking them is important, he doesn't understand why he can't eat or drink before or after them. He cries because he asks when he gets his port out and even though we share with him that it will happen, he cries because he just can't fathom that far into the future. 

He's more weepy and clingy to one or all of us. Little things set his emotions into a tailspin and it's exhausting for us all, including him. 

This cycle is the cycle we are on every month. Just when he is feeling a little better, those nasty steroids kick in and make him feel crazy again. 

Which also makes US feel crazy because knowing when it's the steroids and knowing when it's just him being a boy is HARD. 

Behind the smiles you see from us are both, is a strength that only comes from God. Those smiles don't show you how tired we are of this journey and how our emotions are still cRaZy most days because of so much going on {work, work, bills, and "stuff"}. 

Those smiles were tears just a few hours before or later. 



It's summer and I STILL don't feel like I can keep up. That is a feeling I've never had before because I've not had to work as much and it's kind of making me insane. I thrive on prioritizing time alone, time to read, time to breathe, time away but when I don't get it for whatever reason, I'm always thrown off. 

I try to remember that this is a journey, not a destination. But some days behind that smile, I'm still looking for a finish line, a break, a breather. And, honestly, there isn't one. Life goes on. My girls are growing up, my dad is growing old, end of chemo is getting closer, but none of that is an end. 

It's a beginning, a new season, if you will and that's probably why we continue to smile and find the little joys in the hard days. 


"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
{Ecclesiastes 3:1}






Sunday, May 10, 2015

Not Always Happy

I swore I would turn off my phone and deactivate my Facebook account at midnight. 

Mother's Day. 

This day has never been up there with my favorite holidays. Actually, it's probably my least favorite aside from Valentine's Day.  From a very young age, being adopted brought on a certain set of feelings associated with Mother's Day. Of course I'm thankful for both my birth mother and my adoptive mother, but this day was always a reminder of the struggle I've had with both. One I know nothing about and have never met. One was the most difficult relationship I've ever had. 

After having three amazing kids of my own, I am always honored to be their mom, but that's true every single day of the year. Both my kids and husband honor me every  day with things they say and do to lift me up. I've always felt that the official day creates too much pressure for them and for me. 

I have never doubted that I am a good mom. I've worked hard to teach and model for my kids what I always wanted myself as a child. I'm confident in my parenting and know that this is my lasting legacy for generations after me. I was even working on how I would parent long before I had kids. 

Not having a happy day on Mother's Day seems to make people uncomfortable, so rather than speak up, I usually spare the uncomfortableness and just smile and wave. But it's not just about me. 

The problem I have with Mother's Day is that it doesn't naturally account for those that are grieving the loss of their mom or for those moms who've lost a baby before they even were able to meet them. It doesn't account for those kids who possibly lost their mom to suicide or for the moms whose kids don't acknowledge them any day of the year. It doesn't lessen the blow for those who want to be moms, but constantly are struggling to get pregnant or for those who were possibly abandoned by their moms.  

So many scenarios, so much pain wrapped up into a day. So, no, Mother's Day isn't always happy and for some it never will be. And that is ok.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

No Inspirational Speeches, Please.

I'm sure at some point I'm going to offend someone with my writing here.  This blog could be it. {Meh. It's my blog anyway.}

Many of you know that I did something pretty difficult the past week. I let my circle of trust know and as always they were supportive and understanding. Those in that circle were chosen a long time ago when Jace first got sick, but I learned how powerful the concept was while I was going through my divorce. Not everyone needs to know every detail of your struggle. Not everyone will be compassionate. Not everyone will know what not to say.

Not everyone will care. 



My circle of trust doesn't try to inspire me or give me advice or lecture me on what I should or shouldn't do or feel. They just ask how to pray, check up on me, and love me through it all. {they also pour me coffee}

I know I'm the so-called queen of the "feel good messages." I've been reading through past posts from several years ago and even I get annoyed at myself and my gratitude some days. 

I get it. It's great and life-changing to be positive and grateful and joyous. I know that is what we are called to do, but when people are hurting sometimes they just want you to get on your knees with them and say, "Yeah. Life sure can suck." 

Since Jace started chemo, I often think of Mary and how she felt watching her son die a slow, brutal, and difficult death. Even though she knew this was how it was suppose to play out that did not make it any easier on her heart, I'm sure of it. 

In 2013, there was a day when I was fearful of losing my own son. 
In 2014, I lost my mom much earlier than I expected. 
In 2015, well, let's just say it's already looking to be another painful year after a recent visit with my dad. 

Do I trust that God's plan is bigger than my life? Yes
Do I know that His promises will come to pass? Yes
Do I know that I'm redeemed already? Yes

Do I need to only hear the good, the promises, and how God doesn't waste pain? {my own words} No.

In my hurting and grieving, I need people to recognize that even in the promises life can SUCK. I know people don't like that word. I don't like it either. 

But I'm going to be very honest. If you know the details of my story and all the nooks and crannies of complication that have come about in the last several months, then you know I'm not exaggerating or asking for pity. Some days I think I'm the brunt of satan's biggest joke and he's just waiting for me to give up. {I'm not.}

Instead of pretending our lives are always happy, great and inspirational, I wanna see authenticity, genuine feeling and compassion and the ability to recognize that it's ok for life to be hard.

It's very hard for me to listen to PERSON A tell me an inspirational message when they never show they are struggling and are in the business of masking their hardest days. Life is perfect or so they want me to believe. 

I want to hear from PERSON B who has been in the depths of the valley and admits life is a struggle and isn't always sunshine and rainbows. I want to surround myself with those who have the ability to recognize: "this is hard," I can barely breathe through this day," or "today seems to be against me on all sides." 

I am Person B. These things I'm having to sort out, the feelings I'm having to deal with, the loss I'm continually seeing is hard and some days I'm not sure I'll make it through. 

And I'm ok saying that. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Perfect Imperfection

So the imperfection about reading my blog is that I don't blog consistently, but you can bet it will always be from my heart and as genuine as I can capture it for you. 

 I've been quiet on here for a lot longer than I anticipated. Most days I just don't know what to say mostly because there is so much on my heart I cannot even begin to put it into words. There isn't a tweet or Facebook status or IG picture that can even come close. 

This "perfect imperfection" theme has popped up more than once the last week and I wonder if it's God trying to send me a little message. 

You see, I don't think people expect me to be perfect. I DO NOT feel anywhere near perfect and really hope they just see me as I am. Maybe deep down this is one of my childhood wounds that keeps popping up without me really knowing it. 

I debate a lot with what I share about my childhood and that is the sole reason that I haven't finished my book. I'm still figuring out how to present it all and, honestly, still trying to work through it all. Despite those that {thought} they knew my family, they definitely didn't see what was happening behind closed doors. It was difficult to go through and writing it all into words is proving to be even more difficult. 

My mom did expect perfection. I'm pretty sure if you ever talked to her you probably heard different. It was mostly in her actions and words if I happened to mess up even a little bit. My parents did run a tight ship, but for my mom there was a lot of anger with things not being perfect. I remember very often wondering why I would be grounded for something so simple as missing a room while vacuuming or for not loading the dishwasher to her level of expectation. 

I remember talking about anything that might not have been perfect was off the table even up until right before she passed. That included my brother's death, the plan upon either of them passing, the plans for the properties {in my name} that I wasn't allowed to visit alone, how to handle my brother's disabilities and his services or even our own relationship. 

It was like that pretty much my whole life. That's probably one of the reasons I've become an open book. If you are having a one-on-one conversation with me, I most likely will answer any question you can come up with. Cancer, adoption, death, divorce, grieving, faith, God, prayer.....

I so wanted to just be transparent with those around me, including my kids. I was tired of pretending that everything was great when it wasn't. So now I just go with what's happening and try to be as honest as I can while trudging through the valley. 

I do have some great support and have surrounded myself with those that I feel comfortable sharing my story or the story of now. But when I cannot even talk about the circumstances above without bursting into tears, I usually will just smile and come up with something nifty to say instead. If you happen to ask about my dad or brother, I usually can't answer you right away. I only get to talk to my brother once or twice a month and I only know what the drs/nurses tell me about my dad. I'm SUPER protective of sharing information about them right now especially publically on social media. 

There is NO WAY to spin the circumstances I'm in for the positive.  I mean, clearly, I know God is doing that for me even if I cannot see it, but humanly, all I see and feel is despair and desperation for this long season to be over. When I look back over my almost 40 years I see a lot of pain and struggling and wonder what I've been doing wrong or what I need to do different to get out of this desert. 

I am in this weird grieving stage right now that I know is normal. {been there done that many times before} 

I'm angry that I'm being left with so much to figure out when it all could've been avoided. I'm SUPER annoyed that all of these situations took a turn for the worse during my son's cancer treatment.  I'm sad that I cannot be closer to my dad or brother and that where they are is a much better situation than them being here with me in Texas. I'm sad that I cannot keep and preserve anything from my previous life, including the lake house that holds so many memories and moments. 

And then...

I am also grateful which makes it all even more weird. 

I'm so thankful that God has intervened in my life more times than I can even see or speak about. I'm so thankful for those at my church, at my work, and in my home that love me, encourage me, help me, guide me, cheer for me, pray for me, and allow me to go through all of these emotions at the same time. I'm thankful that NM takes better care of those that need assistance than TX does. I'm thankful for those who visit my brother and dad and help to take care of things they need. I'm grateful for the family I have and for all the days I get to see my kids grow and experience life. 

My gratitude really does overflow even when I'm sitting in the valley crying out for it to be all over. 

This morning I woke to a few empowering text messages: 

"You are AMAZING. You are BEAUTIFUL. You cannot be DEFEATED." 

"God has big plans for you and is going to use your pain to create gain in your life." 


Then, I headed to Instagram to scroll through some of my favorite feeds and found this gem from @pastorraley: 

{Ps. 37: The steps of the righteous or ordered of the Lord...David penned the words as a wise old king. Gone are the days of killing giants, military campaigns and youthful motivations. He now leads a powerful, united kingdom. His greatest weapon at this stage of his life is not a sling, a spear or a sword. His greatest weapon in his EXPERIENCE. He could look back on the goodness and faithfulness of Jehovah and realize that through it all, God had ordered his steps. There comes a point in life where your greatest advantage is the lessons you've learned through past battles and challenges. You come to realize you've actually been empowered by the journey.}

It's sort of miraculous how God uses others to confirm the message he put on my heart last night: 

God doesn't waste suffering. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

In Between

I use to wonder where people went after something (usually "bad") happened in their lives. I remember corresponding and connecting with them often and then they sort of just fell away (mostly on social media) whether it was a divorce, loss of a loved one, or illness. I always said a prayer for them because I knew at an early age how those "bad" things can isolate you. 

Now I'm "that" person. I've distanced myself from a lot of things I never thought I would. I've become very selective with what I do and who I share things with. This is definitely not the person I was before Jace was sick or even really before my mom died. 

I was listening to the radio the other day and like many of the daily devotionals on Air 1 this particular thought really hit me. 

{paraphrasing} Sometimes God has you go through pain because not only do you draw nearer to Him, but because people pull nearer to you during that time. Your story could be helping them and you don't even know it. 

So often I hear "people just want to follow and hear your story." Even today, a very sweet, funny friend gave me the perspective I so needed. I am always very puzzled why people that I do not know or who rarely talk to me want to friend me on social media, mostly Facebook. She said, "People want to befriend you, follow you, read your posts, read about your journey because even if they don't say it, they can relate to you or are learning from you."

It's very hard for me to see myself the way others see me and even more difficult to see myself the way God sees me. It's truly a constant tug of war for me. I don't think I'm necessarily being strong in this moment in time. I feel more weak than I ever have. I feel more vulnerable and less trusting of others. I see my faults magnified. I don't think I have a lot to offer right now to anyone much less what it takes to really inspire people. 

I've struggled a lot with what I share about my family of origin recently. It seems I have no problem talking about my experience with Jace and childhood cancer and how that's changed our family, but because my family of origin has so much history, much of it painful, I'm very selective on what I talk about. I know one day that will evolve and I'll be able to talk more about it and hopefully help others who've gone through a similar situation.  


Now that I'm in that in-between place of grief and healing, I totally get where those other people went. They are in a state of healing. They are learning their new normal. They are trying to make sense of all that went wrong and how it will all be right again. They are navigating who to trust and how to live again. They are relearning what they love and even how to love. They are growing into the people that God meant for them to be. 

So, thank you to those of you who are truly meant to be in my life and are being patient with me, letting me be real & raw and waiting gently on me while I heal and move from that in-between. 

"The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you." 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Open Letter to People Who Are "Different"

Dear People Who Are "Different," 

My life is full of the same lesson over and over again. In the beginning there was a sense of shame for not being like the rest. At first it was because I was adopted and then the list just went on and on. No, I do not speak Spanish even though people think I should because of the color of my skin. {Yeah, people actually have been angry that I don't and made horrible comments about it.}

For a while I played into the "game" of fitting in. I was a cheerleader for 6 years, after all. I didn't try my best in my classes and thought being more concerned with my social life and boyfriends was the answer. I look back and realize that I wish I'd been BETTER to my classmates and more supportive of those that were "different" than me. 

Then, in college, something crazy happened. I realized that I was really good at working with computers. It sort of came naturally. I walked into my first college programming class.  There I was "miss cheerleader" with a class full of Steve Job's wannabes. For a moment, I was pretty sure I couldn't do it. Afterall, I didn't "belong" in this group.  I convinced myself I was only good at the cheerleader thing and all that came with it. I mean THAT wasn't the person I was. 

It was then that I realized I had a decision. I could continue catering to what others said about me or I could decide to run MY OWN RACE and keep going.  2 years later, I had several computer programming classes under my belt and a list of hands-on computer projects I completed for real businesses. 

13 years later, I watched as my son began his battle with leukemia. I learned a whole new level of being "different" in that moment. I watched as people of all ages would stare at his bald head and his N95 mask. And again, I learned a new level of compassion for people like him. 

A year ago Avery came home from school and told me a little story: 

"Mama, today at the playground I was swinging and  _____ came up to me and said "If you want to be popular, you have to cheer with us." "

"What did you say, Avery?"

"I told them I don't care anything about being popular. I just want to swing."

You see, my point is THIS. There will ALWAYS be people judging you and labeling you. There will always be people who only know a critical voice. 

The only label that is important is the label you give yourself. The most important thing is what YOU believe about yourself, not them. You were made for such a time as this - whatever THIS is in your moment. 

This past weekend Avery stepped out and did something that isn't considered "popular." I saw, firsthand, how hard that cast & crew of 60+  worked and since I was the taxi, their long hours were also my long hours. 

As I sat in the audience of their last performance yesterday, I was greatly disappointed by the loud talking and laughter and criticism around me. I, as a parent, was offended that behavior like that is "ok." The teacher in me was disappointed that respectful audience participation wasn't taught. 

But even in my disappointment, I had such pride in everyone of those kids. They kept going and kept going in confidence. {On with the show, as they say} THEY have re-inspired me to remember all the lessons I've already learned. 

◦ Being critical or mean says more about YOU than it says about those you're criticizing. 

◦ Finding the 1% you have to offer that no one else can will elevate you higher than you'll ever know. 

◦ It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think YOURS is the ONLY path. (Paul Coelho)

◦ Being part of something bigger than yourself is really what life is about.  

◦ Being popular isn't going to do as much for you as you think it will. 

...and so as you continue to grow older remember what Avery says, "Just SWING and do your thing." :) 


xoxox