family | grandmother

i’m not really sure how to start this post…
…how to even attempt to sum up the life that was my grandmother’s.
she went home to be with Jesus, my grandfather, father, and mother last friday afternoon.
and i miss her.
i miss the conversations.
the small little laughs.
her embellishing stories.
the crooked smile.
the wisdom.
the genuine compassion and peace that came from just sitting with her.
her class.
and etiquette.
being soft spoken yet stern.
her beauty.

there are so many memories i have with her and my grandfather.
the many nights/weekends/weeks spent out at their property.
chasing dalmatians and staying out to watch the sun set on the water and marsh.
running down the dock full speed to jump into the river.
climbing trees and getting lost.
toasted cinnamon raisin bread with peanut butter slathered all over it for breakfast – and maybe sneaking a little cup of coffee into the river room.
nights full of stories.
and quiet.
and crickets.
and staring at the stars laying in the grass.
yard work on yard work
and dirty feet from running down the oak-lined avenue.
my grandmother calling us for dinner
and my grandfather making sure our hands were washed.

the fireplace crackling in the winter.
the absolute quiet of a house without the need for being sucked into wifi and tv.
books on books on books and sharing the fiction stories we were immersed in.
the creaking of the stares climbing up to bed.

our countless conversations of what the future holds.
the questioning of the direction i’m heading.
her re-assuring me that God has a plan.
the “hello amy, this is grandmother, i just want to tell you i love you” voicemails i still have.
the joy she had when my brother came home on break and sat with her.
the truly calming presence that she gave.

there was something different about her.
something mysterious and full of class.
stories you know she held onto and smirked to throughout random parts of the day.
the almost ringing quality of her voice that sounded like bells throughout the house.
the stern eye when you stepped a toe out of place.
the affectionate hugs and hand holds.

mary ann lived a beautiful 82 years.
she traveled with my grandfather while he was in the air force.
she had parties.
raised two awesome children.
and knew how to decorate…man she knew how to decorate.
she loved the Lord and walked quietly.
all while carrying a little mischievous smirk.

i’m still learning more about her life.
the adventures she went on, the childhood she experienced, the true awesomeness that is our lineage.
i’m blown away by the life she lived.
and the memories people hold of her, i can’t wait to keep learning.

my gosh she was incredible.
i’m so thankful for the many conversations i had with her.
and i’m so sad i will no longer have them.
it still doesn’t seem very real…but we’re processing.
and i feel that this post doesn’t even do an ounce of justice to how much i love her and respect her.
how much joy i have for her and how much sadness i have that she is no longer here.

i love you grandmother.
thank you for your wisdom.
your love.
your passion and sweet words.
for the life you lived and the lives you brought into this world.
my goodness you will be missed.

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friday | cassie + PPD


i don’t know how to start this post – or finish it.

this past week has been really…draining…attempting to process and work through thoughts and memories – it’s all just left me a little dim.

almost a week ago today – last saturday – i sent out this tweet:

my sweet friend Cassie had gone missing.
i had been out of the house all day saturday and wasn’t checking facebook so when my phone lit up with a “is cassie missing?” text i stood still.

what? – no – this can’t be.
sure enough i text some of my friends trying to find out what was happening – trying to locate cassie.
this couldn’t be real. this only happens in movies. your friends don’t go missing.

i sat there and poured over her facebook, looking for any clues to where she might be.
i kept seeing new comments with “where are you?” “maybe you just needed to take a day to unwind” “come home you’re loved”.
my heart started hammering.
i kept checking my phone waiting for an update, for anything, for some sliver of good news.
what seemed like an eternity later.
don’t say anything on FB – they found her – she’s gone.

i sat there in silence.
staring at the screen.
tears welling up in my eyes.
no – no this isn’t right.
this can’t be true.
she’s fine – she is fine – she. is. fine.

after a few more conversations more things started to reveal themselves.
things i didn’t know.
things i wish i had known.

Cassie had been struggling with PPD | Postpartum depression
“Postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery.”

i never really know how serious this depression was.
i didn’t know how many women took their own lives because of it.
i didn’t know the internal struggle these women face.
i had no idea cassie was wrestling through all of it.

i’m not going to sit here and say in the last few years cassie & i were best BEST friends.
in high school though – she was one of my best friends.
she helped me through my moms passing, she was always a light, we had many hilarious and in depth conversations ranging anywhere from religion to bugs to art.
i can not express the impact she left on my life.
how HER life changed mine.
since high school we’ve kept in touch and seen each other.
we checked in and chatted, like no time had passed, and i still held her close to my heart.

Cassie was a beautiful woman.
inside and out.
she was a ray of sunshine.
so incredibly joyful and full of encouragement.
she was one of the happiest individuals i’ve had the privilege of knowing.

her visitation was wednesday night, and her funeral was yesterday.
it was so heart breaking.
it was heart breaking to see her family so broken.
to see her husband with his hand constantly on her casket.
to see her friends in tears, friends i haven’t seen in a few years.
it was a torn feeling.

i’m normally pretty strong when it comes to death and funerals.
i have a different view than most and have experienced pain and hurt at an early age.
but after speaking to her husband i had to go out for air.
i couldn’t get rid of the lump in my throat.
my sweet friend, full of joy, Cassie took her own life.
and i was surrounded by people who loved and missed her.

she is leaving behind a husband, family, and a young son.
bronson, her son, is facing medical issues.
i’ve been sharing on twitter, and facebook a link to a fundraising campaign Cassie set up before taking her own life. i talked to cassie after she set up the fundraising…she was telling me how she didn’t get out much recently, i told her i was going to come visit, and just a few short days later she was gone. i just can’t wrap my head around it.

the small good that has come out of this?
they have surpassed their goal.
but they still need more.
they need donations.
they need prayers.
they need love.

here is a link to her fundraising page: BRONSON THE BRAVE!

please consider donating, please consider praying for them, please consider passing this link along on twitter, facebook, blog land.
coming from one friend to another – life is precious, cassie’s life was precious, and i want her memory honored in the best possible way.

to read more about a recent 2013 study on PPD click here.
to learn about symptoms, treatment options, etc for PPD click here.

if you, or someone you know is struggling with depression of ANY form please reach out for help.
you can shoot me an email, you can go to your friends, to a minister, to any church, to a doctors office, to a clinic – anywhere. PLEASE reach out and ask for some help. it doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you any less of a mother, woman, brother, father, wife, friend, son, daughter…it makes you a beautiful human being who needs some encouragement and help along the way.

i miss cassie.
i miss my beautiful, artistic, loving, joyful friend.
please help her family.

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September 10…Life Changing Moment.

Q: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn…{i have 2}

It was really hot for the middle of July – like really hot.
Mom was at work, my brother and cousin Jade were at the neighborhood pool behind my house. I was sitting in the lazy boy recliner with the tv on eating a big ol’ bowl of ice cream…something I was not supposed to be doing. I heart the front door open – crap mom is home early – I stashed my bowl beside the recliner where it couldn’t be seen, I really didn’t want a lecture. I heard two sets of heels, my mom walked into the den followed by my aunt darlene. “Amy, where are Bo & Jade?” …uhhh down at the pool? i answered. “Go get them please”. I thought i was in more trouble than just sneaking ice cream. what have I done now? I thought as I walked down to the pool.
I got Bo & Jade to come back up to the house – they kept asking me what was happening…I didn’t know, I couldn’t answer. When we got back to the house, Aunt Darlene held jades hand and pulled her to the living room – mom took me and Bo back to her & my fathers room. At this point my parents had been separated for a small season – trying to work some things out together while needing some space to do it, it was a complicated situation. Mom sat down on her bed and put her head in her hands, she took a few deep breathes. I remember her sitting up straighter – looking back now I could only imagine her trying to gain some courage and strengthen her spine to deliver the news. We sat in front of her, Indian style, and just looked at each other. What was going on? Mom took our hands in hers and said “You know I love you…you know Jesus loves you…and you know your daddy loved you…” I was only 13 at the time but I was old enough to pick up on that one small letter…that ‘d’ that changed a word from present to past tense.
She said loved not love.
“Your daddy has gone to be with Jesus – he is in Jesus’ arms.” I remember Bo busted out in to tears; at 9 years old not fully understanding what that meant, but knowing enough to know that Jesus is in Heaven…and that is where Dad must be too now. I sat there for a minute just looking at my mom – stunned, not fully understanding…not really wanting to understand. Does this mean I’m fatherless? Where is my dad? He just wanted to see me a few days ago…but I wanted to hang out with my girlfriends.
The tears came slowly.
I was 13 years old – less than a month from starting high school – and I was now without a father.
Mom had been sick for over 6 months now.
I hated cancer – leukemia.
The summer and fall had consisted of hospital visits, phone calls, and a brief season where she was home for two weeks. I was living with my aunt & uncle some days/weeks and others I was living at home – too anxiety ridden to be away from what was comfortable to me, what was my normal. My grandmother (mom’s mom) stayed with my mom every. single. day while she was in the hospital and my grandfather stayed with me most nights (some other family members/friends stayed other nights). Some nights I remember going to sleep to the sound of an empty house…hearing my own heart beat…wondering what was next. The night before I was at youth group. We prayed for my mom. All of my friends and youth leaders surrounded me, laying their hands on me, prayed for me, my family, my mother. At one point my friend Niki said, “God, if Mrs. Donna is meant to be with you…then that’s ok, she can go be with you.” I remember being furious with Niki, how could she say that…that was like wishing my mom to die. My friend Andrew prayed something similar…I was still angry.
That night I was laying in bed, my next door neighbor aunt Gayle was staying with me that night (my brother had been living with my aunt and uncle), and I prayed to God. I finally understood what He had been pressing on my heart. You see, I was down to one parent – my mom – she was in the hospital for my 16th birthday, promising a “blowout 17th” for the next year. She still heckled me to clean my room…and do dishes, and learn how to cook something other than mac and cheese from a box. She still talked to me about Jesus and asked how school was going – how was I doing with my grades – all while she was confined to a hospital bed.
At this point mom had been in a coma in the ICU for about a month…I hadn’t seen her. I had the choice, but my family warned me that she didn’t look like herself. She had put on a lot of water weight (my mom was a petit 5’3 115lb woman), her eyes had gone from brown to blue, she had lost her hair a long time ago…my mother wasn’t herself. So I didn’t go, I didn’t want to see her like that at age 16.
As I was thinking about all of that, I whispered some words to Jesus.
Jesus…I’m ok if you take my mom.
I don’t want her to be in pain anymore, if she will be better with you in Heaven – then I’m ok with it, I won’t like it, I’ll miss her….I really want her to stay with me and Bo…but I’ll be ok.
I fell asleep.
Hands were on my shoulders, my body was slowly being shaken awake, “Amy, wake up”.
My eyelids peeled open, my bedside table lamp was on.
My grandmother was sitting at my side. As my eyes adjusted I looked around my room – Aunt Darlene, Aunt Diane, Aunt Debbie, grandma…my Aunt Darlenes eyes gave it away; she had the same eyes when she walked in with my mother to tell me my father had passed away. My grandmother opened her mouth, “Amy, your mother went to be with Jesus, she is in Jesus’ arms…” I remember becoming fascinated with the popcorn ceiling in my room. “Mom, do you think she heard us?” …one of my aunts said.  “I’m an orphan?” I said out-loud. They all started crying – I started crying. Where is Bo? does he know yet? They told me he was at my aunts house – still sleeping – it was 3am and they were trying to let him sleep some more but they wanted me to know, to wake up. I went out into the den where my grandfather was sobbing, my aunt gayle and uncle dave were crying, my moms boyfriend was there in pieces. I remember going back to my room, sitting on my bed, and being silent for a long time – thinking I’m only 16, what do I do now? I remember 530am rolling around and my friend Ashlee calling to see if was running late or on time since I was her and kaylees ride to school. I told her I wasn’t going – she asked why – because my mom died. She started crying – asking if I wanted her to come over, no, not right now…but thank you. They came over later as did many other friends and family. I won’t go into detail today about when we told my brother later that morning – but that was almost as hard as hearing I was parentless.

Tragedy happens.
Joy happens.
You learn from both.
I’ve learned from both.
I miss my parents – every. single. day.
Some days are easier than others – some days harder than others.
I find solace in the fact that God knows more than I do.
His plans are greater than my own.
And glory was brought to Him through their passings…people heard the Gospel through their lives.
Jesus was preached.
I’m sure people were saved – or put on the road to salvation.
I’ve trusted in God through all of this – I will continue to trust in Him.

Joining jenni today for her blogtember challenge.

Zach Sobiech…

{i wasn’t going to post today, but after finding out some news i absolutely had to} 

It’s Monday…i’m sitting at work…with tears streaming down my face.

Zach Sobeich passed away this morning.
Who is Zach Sobeich?

He was a remarkable, joyful, and inspiring 18 year old young man who had bone cancer. 
He has touched so many lives, including my own. 
I ran into his video on youtube a month or so ago and was brought to tears. 
His life, his family and friends…all so heart warming
His story…so heart wrenching.

Even though Zach has such a positive attitude, one that is incredibly inspiring, I broke for his family and friends. To loose a beautiful soul like Zach’s so young, is so hard to comprehend and understand.
Thankfully it seems that Zach had done a beautiful job at saying his goodbyes, even though no goodbye will ever be ‘good enough’ in this type of situation. 
Take the 20+ minutes and watch the video.
Have tissues available.
Listen to his song “Clouds”…and get it stuck in your head and in your heart.

Pray for his family and friends.
. . .
I actually woke up this morning and while i was getting ready i started singing “clouds”…i haven’t listened to it in a few days and wondered that’s random.
I got to work and forgot.
And i just had this moment to pray for Zach and his family so i did.
& then i checked the internet and found out he passed away.
my heart is broken.
. . .

May i have the same outlook on life that Zach has had.
To bring happiness, joy, and love to the world.
To share with others in smiles and laughter.
To leave a lasting impression.

…to give it all to the glory of God.

Cancer is a nasty, devastating thing.
Praying for the Sobiech family…won’t you join me?

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Frankly Friday…v15

 What is Frankly Friday? 

Let’s define Frankly shall we…

frankly |ˈfra ng klē|adverbin an open, honest, and direct manner
. . .
I want this to be a way for all of us to be open, raw, and transparent with not only each other…but with ourselves. I think we put a lot of stock into the “fear” of what others may think of us…into the “fear” of really putting what’s on your heart out there in case someone decides to tear you down.
I’m over the fear & you should be too.
So let’s write…whether it’s about a situation you’re struggling through, a victory you’ve made, a memory that you can’t let go of…anything as long as it’s honest.
. . .

{prepare, this is heavy}
Yesterday was a haze…wanna know why?
It was 8 years since my mom passed away.
{ & It has been 10 years since my father passed away (this past July).}

If i’m honest…most days i’m not fully aware that i don’t have parents…i guess i’ve gotten used to it.
I had parents, and they were amazing and i miss them all of the time; but i’m used to this life now.
Over the last few years their ‘death days’ will come and go and i sometimes don’t even fully realize what the day is…other times i’m fully aware of what the day means.
Losing my father was absolutely horrible, losing my mother…it solidified the fact that i will forever and always have a completely different view on death than most people. It saddens me that when i hear of someone passing away that i’m not as stunned as most, that i completely shut off emotionally and process what needs to happen. I start going through a mental check-list of who needs to know, what needs to be done, how i can help, etc.
I rarely ever process…until i’m alone, sometimes even years later {which is completely unhealthy}.
I think after hearing that i was technically, an orphan, i had a moment of complete stupidity and shut down emotionally, and since then it seems to be a habit i have.
. . .
Last night i spent some time on the phone with my Aunt Di.
We talked about my mom and her time in the hospital {she had Leukemia} and the fact that
she was never, ever, afraid of dying.
Not for a single minute. The only thing that brought her real pain was the thought of leaving my brother  & myself. Her courage was undoubtedly from God and she lived each and every day with a purpose of being intentional and encouraging in her conversations with others.
She embodied love.
. . .
Frankly…there are days when i can talk about my mom for hours and not shed a single tear. Time definitely has been kind in helping to heal some of the raw emotion from losing her (and my father). Then there are other times where just the mention of her name, or a glimpse of her picture and i become weepy. At the moment i’m on the verge of both; i’m having a hard time unclamping my emotions to allow myself a minute to cry and miss what i no longer have.
Ah…tears right?
If i’m to be honest, which is what Frankly Friday is about.
My biggest fear is:
forgetting them.
I refuse to do it, i can’t. I want to be able to one day tell my children “this is who your grandparents were, and here are their stories” and tell them time after time after time.
I’ve already begun to forget the normal day-to-day things; like a weekday night with all four of us in the house. The sound of their voices, the way their eyes would crinkle when they laughed, the stories they shared….all of those are gone.
So, my Aunt & I have decided to help remember them…to remind myself, and my brother who my parents were. Orlando (my bro) and I were so young when they died (bo was 9 when dad died, and then 12 when mom died; i was 13 & 16) that we can’t expect to remember some of the important things.
. . .
So i guess my encouragement to you today: love those you have around you.
Hold them close, memorize the little things because they will not always be there.
Don’t fear, be courageous.
Miss you Mom & Dad…every minute within my heart.

{since it is Christmas time i thought i would share this older photo of them}.
. . .
Don’t forget to link up if you participated:

Thursday thoughts…v2

Linking up with Sarah from Life of Love for Thursday Thoughts. 

You can see volume one here. 

 . . . 
I finished Enshadowed
Not sure what Enshadowed is?!
Well, let me help you out. It is the second book in the Nevermore series…which i LOVE (see i even talked about it on my hype love page). I can not begin to express how much i get sucked into this series. For instance, i re-read nevermore right before reading Enshadowed (in like two days), and then read Enshadowed in one day. Yup, they are that good. However i was completely distraught over the ending in Enshadowed that i had to write Kelly Creagh. Oh yes, i wrote her an email praising her work as an author but also confessing that i was completely unraveled with the way the book ended, and i basically begged to know if there would be a book three…
Guess what, she responded THE NEXT DAY…what?! 

So basically, do yourself a favor and go purchase and READ the books. You won’t regret it, especially if you’re an Edgar Allen Poe fan like myself…he is all up and OVER this series! 🙂
. . .
A lot of it has been happening around town and two young girls (18, 22) were just found murdered in the woods in the area where i volunteer at youth group. Last night at church the amount of brokeness, tears, and frustration coming from these kids completely shattered my heart [much like it did here as well]. So many students were affected by this, they had so many questions, so much pain…i just wanted to take it all way from them. Honestly, i’ve been there. I’ve dealt with the pain of loosing someone you love and cherish…and no words can really make it better. The best advice i can give to someone when they are going through a hard time…lean on Jesus. As cliche as it sounds, it is absolute truth. Without Him there is no hope, there is no thought of a brighter tomorrow, there is no relief from the pain.
I know because i’ve been there, i’ve done it without Jesus.
PLEASE be praying for these students. Pray for the family and friends of the two young girls who lost their lives this past week; pray for comfort and peace and rest.
. . .

I’m learning to become more humble. To become a woman who not only recognizes her blessings, but is willing to bless others. I read this blog the yesterday and it wrecked me, as it should you.
What am i doing with my life? Am i living it for the Glory of God? Or for myself?
Lots of thoughts, lots of conviction, and little action…that is what my life has been lately.
It’s time to change that.
. . .
It will be the first ever Frankly Friday.

I mentioned a few months back about starting something where people are honest. Frankly Honest with themselves, their readers, and life.
I’m thinking of doing this on the last friday of every month, unless people would like to do it weekly.
SO, if you don’t have a post for tomorrow…consider joining up with me for Frankly Friday.
Take an entry to be open and honest with your readers and with yourself.
Whether it’s about a situation your’e struggling through, a victory you’ve made, a memory that you can’t let go of…anything as long as it’s honest.
I’ll have a link up all ready to go…let’s start a revolution.
Let’s just be honest.