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.

Frankly Friday…v21

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.

. . .

Last weekend i was going through some things my brother had put on my dresser and i came across our baby calendars. What is a baby calendar? Well it’s a calendar that you get for when your baby is due and you write down what happens in their lives every day that year. I’ve got to admit my parents did a great job at writing almost daily; <3 them.
{you can read more about them here, here, here}
. . .
Reading their lives (and my life too) when they were just a few years older than i was, was thought-provoking. It gave me some insight on their humor, on where they were in life, on their priorities and their dreams. It helped me see my parents in a way i’ve never really thought of before: like myself.
My mom turned 26 after i was born…that is only 2 1/2 years older than me.

How beautiful is that…and the best part is: she started wearing cameo pins a few years before she passed away. Not that i think she considered herself old (oh my gosh she acted 24 sometimes), she just loved cameo pins and necklaces.
I loved reading their thoughts in their handwriting.
My dad had this beautiful {to me} fast writing that i loved.

You want to know something interesting?
My handwriting is a mixture between the two of theirs; my roommate is the one who actually commented on it. I showed her the calendar that had she said oh my gosh, your hand writing is like theirs morphed together!

How incredible is it that even though i never paid attention to their handwriting {i mean who does when you’re 13-16 years old} that i still carried that piece of them with me into adulthood {as well as my dad’s bad spelling}.
. . .
One of my favorite things was reading my dad’s humor:

Wouldn’t you know it…i probably should have been a politician; i’m loud, opinionated, and over zealous. 🙂 Great observation skills dad!
When i read the shower post…i was laughing for 5 straight minutes; I mean that is hilarious.
Also “head pushups” haahahaha. Fun fact: my dad was a physical trainer and used to run marathons etc, so he made athletic references everywhere, one of the dates even said something about me squirming everywhere and how he needed to look into athletic endorsements since i’d be a fantastic athlete. Oh poor dad, i never became a serious athlete, oh well. 🙂
. . .
I loved reading my mothers thoughts after hurricane hugo (which was horrible in charleston).
My father stayed in Charleston while my mother, aunt, & i traveled up to Columbia to stay with family. The hurricane was one of the worst hurricanes to hit the east coast, cat. 4 with 135 mph winds; and just in case you didn’t already know: Charleston is on the coast. My grandparents (my dad’s parents) stayed in their house on the water so my after the storm had died down my dad had to drive/bike/& run the rest of the way to their home (well over 30 miles) to check on them.

. . .
I think what i enjoyed reading the most was their love and endearment for each other.
I could really tell that my parents loved each other and enjoyed being parents and spending time with me. This might sound lame but whatever. Since i no longer have them here to continually encourage & affirm me, & make me feel beautiful and wanted (because you and i both know parents can do a great job at that) reading the words that they penned telling the world how much the loved me made me sob.
My parents loved me. 
And i loved them. 

This is definitely something i will do when i have my children maybe with a different spin.
I want my children to know that they are loved not only with my actions, but in writing.
We never know how much time we will have with those we love, and we also don’t know how something that might seem so small (like writing in a calendar) could one day mean so much to another person. I will cherish these words for the rest of my life, and remind myself that even though my parents are no longer with me that they loved me (and my brother) fiercely. 

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Would you like to read some of the past Frankly Fridays? Give it a go…
v1 | v2 | v3 | v4 | v5 | v6 | v7 | v8 | v9 | v10 | v11 | v12 | v13 | v14 | v15 | v16 | v17 | v18 | v19 | v20    

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Don’t forget to link up if you were Frank this friday! 🙂

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15 DC | Dinner for 5

I hope everyone had a fantastic, safe, and memorable 4th of July!  
I think so often we take for granted all of the many sacrifices men and women have endured since our nation began. Praise God we have people willing to lay down their lives for ours…it is completely humbling. 
What did your 4th look like? Mine…hung out with my grandma and Maria, went grocery shopping, hung out by the pool, watched Vampire Diaries…yeah. 
. . .
Onto day 5 of the 15 day challenge 

Life of LoveIf you could have dinner with any 5 people who would they be? 

Well, this one was pretty easy.
[1 . & 2.] My Parents…

[i love these old pictures of them!]
I would love to be able to sit down with them, ask them a ton of questions, laugh, listen to old memories. There are so many little things that i took for granted or that i didn’t think about asking (i was 13 and 16 at the time of their passing[s]). It would be great to see their smiles, memorize their laughs, and give them thousands of hugs!
[3.] Moses…
I would love to sit down with him and hear all of the stories of how God worked through his life and ministry. To hear first hand how Moses felt, what all he saw, the way the Lord used him…i mean seriously i would spend the whole day listening to him.
[4.] Bryce Avary…

[image found here]
He is the frontman (and really the whole band) of The Rocket Summer. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him perform once and getting to talk to him briefly. On his albums he plays all of the instruments and does all vocals…to say the man is talented is an understatement. He is probably one of my favorite lyricists of this generation and his music completely resonates with me. I would love to sit down and talk about music, theology, Jesus, life, and random stuff.
[5.] Elijah…
Out of the Bible, you know one of the two guys that the Lord took before they passed away.
I would LOVE to hear their stories, and let them give me a little heads up. 🙂 ha.
. . .
So, yes those are my 5 people. There are tons of others that i would love to sit down with for dinner/coffee/what’have’you. Jesus of course is all in the mix…but i know i will see Him one day (as i will everyone else on this list) in Heaven.
. . .
Remember when i mentioned here that i was going to be doing a photoshoot?
Well, i’ll give you a little sneak with one of the photos.
Susan, with Susan Lloyd Photography was the photographer and Shayla Battle was the stylist.
Shayla is starting an orginization called the Sassi Lady Stying Squad, where she will be working with the every day woman to come into your home, help organize your closet, and help you pair up outfits with clothes you already own. She is FANTASTIC!
They came by my house, Shayla picked out a dress, heels, and accessories that i already owned and went to work on my hair and makeup. It was so much fun!
Let’s get one thing straight very quickly, i am not a model and it makes me a little self-conscious in front of a professional camera. However i’ve known Susan for years and she makes me feel 100% comfortable and confident.
I try to always dress modestly and this dress was only 2-3 inches above my knee while standing and completely covered the chest area. I believe that being classy and sexy comes from respecting yourself and your body…aka not letting it all hang out.
I once heard somebody say “If it’s not on the menu, cover it up” and i 100% believe that. I always tell my girls (students in youth group) that if you don’t want somebody/anybody touching it (skin) then keep it covered. To feel classy, sexy, and confident i don’t need to “flaunt what i’ve got” i need to love myself, know why and who i’m living for, and not treat myself with any disrespect.
Modest is most definitely hottest. <3
 Here is that sneak peek…be nice! 🙂

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Happy Thursday!