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Tag Archives: friendship

Church

18 May

church

I have been going to church my entire life. My parents did not exactly make church optional. This was not a bad thing really, I didn’t know any different and my parents didn’t make church look like a chore, it was a place they enjoyed going to. I grew up taking Sunday school classes, singing in the choir, working in the nursery, and really having community while learning about God. Although as a teen it wasn’t great fun and maybe I rolled my eyes those early Sunday mornings but we never missed. I have to say when I went away to college church was not on my mind but eventually I was drawn back. I missed the stability and the community and honestly the peace I felt listening to God’s Word so again in my 20’s I became a regular attender and volunteer.

I recently read another blog which said ‘the church is a beautiful and broken place..it can heal and restore and it can hurt and turn away.’ The author also says regarding current hot button issues, ‘…it’s a lot harder to just swallow what scripture says when there’s a face on the other side.’ Good stuff. So, last weekend I had a bit of an epiphany while sitting in church. The topic was ‘Where’s God when bad things happen?’ a loaded question which they unpacked beautifully. I have to say I have had a few not so fun things happen in my life in recent years and I did turn to my church and the people there for love, support, advice, etc. and have felt both loved and restored but also hurt. Awhile back I felt completely supported after months of asking questions and seeking prayer during an extremely tough time but after a single conversation about me with someone else who could speak more ‘bible-language’ the tune changed from supported to maybe more questioned and judged. It was hurt compounding hurt and I felt myself become guarded, distrustful, and distant. It became increasingly difficult to go to services and engage and to even look some people in the eye. The institution I had relied on my entire life, poured into, and loved did not feel like home anymore and I could feel my heart harden a little. Was the church really a SAFE place for ALL the broken; broken hearted, broken families, troubled kids, abused, blended families, those with more complicated life stories? Are those just empty words and invitations that can turn on a dime when a truly difficult situation happens? Is a person more religious and believable if they have more bible verses memorized? All questions running through my mind.2012-07-08 16.33.59

So what happened last Sunday? I let it all go. Forgiveness. I looked at everyone around me and even the pastor speaking at the pulpit and realized the church is just a bunch of broken people gathered in a building doing the best they can while seeking God. We’re all human, we all make judgement calls and sometimes they’re not always right (and that includes pastors because they’re human too).One thing I know for sure, that question, ‘Where’s God when bad things happen?’ He is right there with you. Whatever I felt toward ‘the church’ through the difficult times with cancer or family issues I never doubted that God was right there holding my hand and that He had a plan. Last Sunday despite the questions in my mind and heart, I realized the church and its imperfections were just part of my journey to continue drawing closer to God. People always say they feel judged or not accepted or maybe that they don’t have a place or feel welcomed but should that be the burden of the church or the person or maybe both? The true burden lies with us, the people professing to be Christians. We are the church. Why does someone feel judged, because we judge. Why does someone feel left out, because we place ourselves in our cliques or comfort zones and stay there. Last Sunday I felt my shoulders relax a little and as they closed out with a song near and dear to me, the song I heard in my head before fully waking up after my first cancer surgery, the words rang true for me, ‘It is well with my soul.’

‘The kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God~D. Campbell’

Today I wear my old standby Dior Addict Lip Glow. I ALWAYS have this in my purse. It is like a lipbalm but it brings out the natural berry of your lips. It is the only lip thing I buy consistently. I chose it today because of the topic and what this product does. Glow brings out the natural color of your lips and adds a hint of berry, being a Christian we glow from the Holy Spirit inside us. Let’s work harder to be a little nicer to each other showing less judgement and more mercy and grace. Cheers!

 

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Prince and the past

25 Apr

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Last week the musical icon Prince passed away. The minute I heard the news I didn’t believe it at first then as the news was confirmed by numerous sources I couldn’t help but feel a strange sense of loss and sadness; the kind that leaves a pit in your stomach. I label it strange because I didn’t know him personally and I don’t generally idolize people but news of his death was utterly shocking to me. As the days passed and the countless hours of Prince music streamed on the radio (and my iPod), I realized the reason for my feelings of such great loss was because Prince’s music was such a huge part of my life in middle school, high school, college, and beyond. Each song I listened to evoked several memories; from the parties in the ‘D’ family’s basement where we had dance-offs, to my college roommate writing one of her first papers on how the movie Purple Rain impacted her life(true story-I had to proof read it for her). Prince’s music reminded me of some of the best times of my youth and also brought back memories of who I was, who I wanted to be, my adventures, my hopes and dreams during that time.

It’s been over 30 years since Purple Rain, since watching the music video of When Doves Cry, from desperately wanting a Raspberry Beret, am I the girl I wanted to be? Life has a way of tossing you around a bit, so no. I had mixed emotions thinking about all that’s transpired between then and now but I told myself it was all ok. I have had a crazy beautiful and blessed life so far with some heartache stuffed in between but that’s what life is. We all have dreams and expectations when we’re young and there are so many choices we have to make that literally takes our life one way or the other. My 15 year old was telling me about her plan for the future, what she wanted to achieve and how she saw her life turning out; when she’d get married, how many kids she’d have, where she would work, live, etc… expectations. She has always been a stubborn, strong willed and determined little being so as I listened to her ‘plan’ of how her life was going to turn out I worried a little. I told her Audreyshe had amazing goals but there was currently no room for space or curve. I told her it was great to have a vision of what her life was supposed to look like in the future but she should absolutely leave room for the unplanned things. The things that make life move and bend, that force you to make decisions, to make hard turns and to maybe change the course you had originally planned but make you who you are truly created to be.

How do we combat the disappointments of some of our own expectations of ourselves and how our life was supposed to be? Gratititude. It’s almost impossible to be grateful for the blessings in your life and be depressed about them at the same time. GK Chesterton says ‘…gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder‘. More wonder, more gratitude, less expectation. Life is short. ‘We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life’~Prince

Today I wear Buxom Lip Polish in Jane which is a deep purple color Sephora describes as huckleberry jam. I’ve always loved these Buxom glosses because they have just enough color to not overwhelm, they’re moisturizing, and they make your lips tingle (and I guess has a plumping effect on lips which clearly I don’t need but if you’re a little older like me it does fill in those lip lines). I chose this color because duh, it’s purple. Prince…thanks for the memories

 

 

18,If Only You Knew…

11 Apr

aj

The other day my 18 year old son had a conversation with my mom, the normal grandma type talk about school, siblings, struggles (good thing my mom was a social worker). My mom shared with me part of the conversation and it went something like this:

AJ: ‘I think mom is getting weird, like really paranoid.’

Grandma: ‘Why do you say that?’

AJ: ‘She’s always asking where I am, if I’m drinking or doing drugs. Is that part of menopause?’

My mom laughed out loud then proceeded to explain the trials and tribulations of being a mom to teens. She also shared her story of when my brother and I were teens and she started growing bald from all the stress we put her through which then made my son laugh out loud. Literally she was losing her hair and was diagnosed with alopecia when I hit high school but was fine before I graduated college.

Being a mom to teens is hard. I believe my gray hairs are showing themselves at record pace but of course we worry about our kids the minute we welcome them into this world. My son will probably never know that when he was born 5 weeks early and placed in the NICU incubator I held my breath, that when he had his first asthma attack at the age of one I cried and couldn’t breathe myself, or when he had a cold on top of asthma as an infant I would sleep with him on my chest sitting up so his nose wouldn’t plug up laying down, or when he continued to need breathing treatments well into elementary from meandajasthma I would lie awake in his room on the floor listening to him struggle to breathe and set my alarm every 4 hours for his breathing treatment. He will probably never know that when he would get hit as a quarterback in 7th and 8th grade I would physically feel sick to my stomach, or the time he cried because he couldn’t understand math and wanted to give up that I cried too. He won’t know that when he didn’t make the varsity basketball team and he sat in his room and cried that I was sitting in my room crying harder because when your child’s dream dies a part of you dies with it. He may never know that when my cancer diagnosis was bad I would lie awake in my hospital bed crying thinking about him and his siblings and willing myself to fight just for them.

So today, it’s not menopause or paranoia, it’s love and the process of trying to let go (ok maybe peri-menopause). I ask the questions because I want to know. I ask them so he knows I care. The world is hard and at 18 they think they know it all. In a few short months he’s graduating high school and leaving for college. I still want to hold him, I still want to take care of him. I want him to know how much he’s loved. His hurts will always be my hurts, his joys will be greater joys to me. All I can do is pray, trust God, and KEEP ASKING MY PARANOID QUESTIONS 🙂car

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.     — Mitch Albom

Today I wear Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Lullabye. If you want great color and staying power Kat Von D is the brand. The lipticks are not super moisturizing but not super dry either. This is a fun color for spring with sparkles. I chose it mainly for the name because I used to sing lullabies to the kids when they were young. Cheers!

 

Free

30 Mar

annabeach

I can’t remember the time I started loving large birds; mainly hawks and eagles. It hasn’t always been the case but it became noticeable to me some years back. What I loved the most about watching them was how free they were. They could fly without too much bother from other birds, they ruled the sky, they floated, but mostly, they were free. Seeing a hawk or an eagle would stop me in my tracks and give me a longing in my heart and tears in my eyes. A few years ago during a difficult time I wrote a poem that a friend of mine recently turned into a song:

Little bird landed on a branch this morning

singing the songs of yesterday

The night has passed a new day begins

but freedom still seems so far away

 

How do you fly again she really doesn’t know

How do you fly again, staring out the window

She’s seen love, she’s seen pain but will she fly again

 

She’s not anything she used to be

She wants that fire back in her eyes

Scared to open up those scars might bleed

For so long she felt paralyzed.

 

How do you fly again she really doesn’t know

How do you fly again, staring out the window

She’s seen love she’s seen pain but will she fly again

 

Bring her back, why not now. Fly so free, little bird show her how

To sing that song she used to sing, to breathe the air above all the pain. 

 

How do you fly again I think I know

Fly again, open up the window

I’ve seen love, I’ve seen pain but I will fly again

Yes I will fly again cuz now I know

Fly again, open up that window

I see love above the pain

I will fly again.

It’s been a wild ride these past few years in more ways than one but looking up at those birds and their freedom in the sky no longer brings a tear to my eye. My life has changed dramatically and it’s filled with peace and love. Now when I look up and see a beautiful hawk floating above my house I smile with joyful anticipation for what comes next.

“…for to have faith is to have wings.”~ JM Barriebird

 

Today I wear Buxom Lip Polish in Brianna which is a gorgeous orchid color great for spring. I have always loved these glosses. They have color but not too much, they’re not too sticky, and they make your lips tingle. Cheers!

‘lifeafterdiagnosis’-2990

7 Mar

cancer poster

2990

I am part of an online cancer support forum which connects cancer fighters/survivors across the country called ihadcancer.com. This month they wanted to hear from us about our life after being diagnosed starting with the number of days since first being told we had cancer. It has been 2990 days since I first heard ‘you have cancer’ and 2265 days since the second time I heard ‘your cancer is back’. May 10 will be my 6 year anniversary of cancer free and wow has life changed and looking back I know I have changed. I think what has changed most for me has been my day to day attitude and the things I seek. Here are some of the changes I’ve experienced:

  • I’m grateful for every moment
  • I try not to stress about things and even if I do it usually subsides quickly
  • I’m less tolerant of bad behavior and meaningless complaints
  • I mainly seek peace and anything that brings me there
  • I try to avoid negativity including negative people
  • I notice beauty more
  • Sometimes I want to shake people when they’re so caught up by irrelevant things
  • I care less about stuff and more about time
  • I realize that there are many things not in my control so I let go more easily

So many more but hard to describe. One of the big ones is acknowledgement of time. Until you are faced with the knowledge that your time is limited you pretty much feel like it’s unlimited. I float in between hope for a long and beautiful life along with a ‘we may only FullSizeRenderhave today’ attitude. Life, I mean real life, happens in the ‘in between’. In between jobs, kid stuff, activities, vacations, etc. we spend a whole lot of time in anticipation of the next game, the next season, the next vacation, and we work and focus on those things but what about all the routine we chalk up to ‘a normal day’? That’s the real grit of life. All of the mundane, the annoying things, the actions and reactions, the relationships…all of the stuff that transpires in the monotonous in between spaces of daily living, that is life. If you rush through to just get to the ‘next’, you’ll miss it. Don’t miss living.

Today’s lipstick is Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Cayenne, a bright red. These are lightweight, have lots of color and are moisturizing; just about perfect. I chose this color because it’s red and the name Cayenne…almost 3000 days later, feeling spicy! Cheers!

Undone

27 Feb

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I am participating in an on-line woman’s group study based off a book called Undone by Michele Cushatt. Like myself she had cancer a few times, kids, and divorce and the book talks about her life becoming ‘undone’ and turning around, but not the way you would expect. I love it and resonate with her journey so much. Since all the participants communicate online I think it’s easier for us to immediately be vulnerable. What is striking to me is all the pain and sadness from unexpected life twists, lives that were ‘undone’ because of illness or failed relationships, or whatever it is that each person has not healed from. Everyone’s story is so different but what seems to have caused the greatest pain to these ladies stem from people and relationships; from parents to siblings to spouses to mentors, many of these people’s lives were affected greatly by another life.

I read this quote, ‘To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us’~Timothy Keller

Life is funny. Experiences and people mold and change you. A single person can make you question yourself and your self worth, lead you to a life of fear, make you think you’re not good enough or that your needs don’t matter. Then there’s unforgiveness, usually toward some of those same people. About forgiveness Tim Keller says it’s ‘absorbing the debt…taking the cost of it completely on  yourself instead of taking it out on the other person.’ How hard is that? Your life, your mind, your heart has changed and to forgive we absorb it, find our strength in God, and move on. He compares it to a kind of death. Fully known and truly loved, that’s what we crave but that kind of love only comes from God. While some of us have people in our lives that come close (spouse, parents, kids), we still are influenced/disappointed by many. Our stories lie behind our smiling faces and perfect Facebook updates. There’s a lot of hurt, pain, fear, etc , out there; how can we expect perfection from imperfect people? We do the best we can and hopefully we learn from our own ‘undone’ life stories and move forward with great lessons and more love knowing the Son is always there fully knowing you and fully loving you, behind the clouds, right in front of you, or in the ‘rearview mirror’ behind you lighting your path.

Today I wear Butter London Plush Rush lipgloss in Flirt. I think this company was first known for their nail polish but then created lipgloss to match some of their nail colors. This lipgloss is a little sticky but has great color and stays put for a long time. Flirt is a great berry color for spring as the crazy weather has spring temps flirting and teasing us in this tail end of winter. Cheers!

 

Thank You, Doctor

26 Nov

sun

This past week I had my last appointment with one of my doctors because he is retiring. Unexpectedly at the end of my normal check up, I burst into tears as he said good bye, hugged me and told me it was his privilege to have taken care of me during my cancer journey. It’s hard to describe how I felt saying good bye to this man because the feelings kind of took me by surprise. Dr. K has seen me from the very beginning of my cancer story 8 years ago and has treated me like I was his only patient. He called me on Christmas to tell me the results of my PET scan because he knew I wouldn’t want to wait, after a medical conference he called me to tell me there was a new test for rare cases like me and although it had not been approved yet by the FDA he was going to arrange I have it done, during a period when I had no insurance and cancer was suspected again he told me he would take care of the additional tests necessary, and every time my cancer came back he would personally call doctors, surgeons, specialists across the country and tell me who he’d spoken to and who he would recommend; he himself a cancer survivor, always offered me the encouragement I needed. I feel so fortunate and grateful to have had him as part of my medical team.

Did Dr. K treat all of his patients like that? Probably, and it probably added more work to his days to make those extra phone calls and do extra paperwork. How easy would it be for us to squeeze in kindness, love, respect, empathy, etc toward other people in our busy days and should it really take that much effort? Dr. K made me feel important, valued, like I mattered, and isn’t that what we want in general? In our homes, friendships, workplace? His extra 10 minutes spent on me created a place in my heart and memory that will last me the rest of my life. ‘Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.’~ Mother Teresa. How do people feel when they leave you? Encouraged? Happy? At Peace? Like they listened? What memory are we leaving? Sometimes we only get one chance, let’s remind people they matter.

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be grateful for; health, family, home, and love. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families! Today I wear Dior Addict Lipstick in Not Shy, a pink-brown, which is my new favorite daytime lipstick. I’ve always loved Dior lipsticks for moisture and shine and this new formulation adds a little more staying power. Cheers from my family to yours!

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