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Just Keep Swimming

Just Keep Swimming

Hello- I’m back and it’s apparently November. Where did the time go?

Honestly, the season I’ve been going through has been hard. And I hesitate to even say that because I’ve mostly been on the periphery of the hard things. They haven’t happened to me directly but to people I love. And when my people hurt- I hurt with them. I’ve also dealt with some things in my own life that have caused stress, pain and reflection. It’s everywhere, just turning on the news makes it apparent- the whole world is in turmoil and pain.

In dealing with my trials, I try and remind myself not to let situations define me. That life isn’t, and never will be, perfect. That if I choose to ruminate on the bad, I will likely miss the good. That God is with me every step. To put my attention first on the things I am called to do. And I’m often terrible at doing all that.

The details of my stress? They honestly don’t matter. I’ve been in hard seasons before. I bet you have too. And with the benefit of hindsight, it really is the process- the slogging through emotions, the finding people who can hold you up, the post-tears epiphany, the realization you did the hard things, and finding God’s redemption through it all-  that matters in the end.

So to cope- I watch funny YouTube videos. I listen to podcasts of sermons while I fold laundry.  I wear sweatpants and be comfy. I decorate for the holidays. I drink a regular Dr. Pepper instead of the diet. And I pray- when I wake up in the morning and when I try to fall asleep too late at night and when I’m taking deep breaths all in between. Also, I quote a very wise character from a movie. Dory- from Finding Nemo. Yup, Dory. The forgetful and hilarious blue fish.

“Just keep swimming”. Simple and true.

It reminds me I don’t have to figure it all out right now. That I don’t need to think more, solve every problem, and process every possibility. I just need to keep going. Most days that seems like too much and not nearly enough all at once. But I can do it. And if you are going through some difficult times- you can too. Pray. And just keep swimming.

-Cher

PS- My sister is still recovering. Doing great but it is a long road. Prayers are always appreciated!

When I’m Afraid

When I’m Afraid

Sorry I haven’t been around the past couple of weeks. Life got busy and scary as you can read below. This is a departure from my usual type of writing and I debated sharing it because it is so personal, but I find writing that’s “real” to be the most impactful and my prayer is that by sharing some of my struggles it encourages others. -Cher

The hospital air hits my face as the sliding doors open. It has that smell. Why do they all smell that way?

Today wasn’t supposed to go this way. I was thinking about picking some paint for the dining room. Maybe go for a swim with the kids. Enjoy the long weekend. But nothing turned to something in less than a day. My sister’s “pink eye” morphed into a brain tumor in hours. I was telling her to throw out her old makeup and get a stronger antibiotic. She considered going in to work. She felt fine. But her eye was so red, and I told her not to mess around with her eyes. She went in to a clinic. Something didn’t look right. They transferred her to the ER. The ER moved her to a small hospital. They did a CT scan. It showed something. But….it was probably nothing. An annoyance for sure. Some meds for a while. But lets do an MRI to be sure. They pulled out her many ear piercings with pliers and did 2 MRIs. And then we waited. And waited. I googled. It was the “nothing” I was sure- she had all the signs and symptoms. It was going to be fine. But why were we still waiting? 5 hours of waiting and she said her head hurt. She wanted Advil. They gave her morphine. For a headache? I tried not to read into it. They finally told her the news. A mass. The polite way of saying tumor. She took it well, she’s not overly emotional and I’m sure the morphine helped. But it was large, hiding behind her eye and wrapped around her carotid artery. It was serious. She texted me the news. Said I was the one she was most afraid to tell. I hate that. I want to be strong. I called her and spoke calmly. Repeating- it was ok. It was ok. It was ok. It’s GOING TO BE OK –but my words couldn’t hide my breathless, panicked tone.

I run around the house trying to pack my bag to go to her. Brain tumor. I’ve always had paranoia about them. Every headache or twitch- it crosses my mind. And here it is. There were no headaches or twitches though. It was pink eye. It was supposed to be pink eye. My face is so hot. I’m so hot. I pack a giant bag and rush to the hospital. I take her 10 granola bars and give her water she’s not supposed to have. I leave the hospital late and collapse into bed relying on Benadryl to put me to sleep.

More family is on the way to be here. Preparation gives my busy body something to do. I clean my house, replace all the burnt out light bulbs, buy toilet paper and insist my husband put weed pre-emergent on the yard. Now. No, it can’t wait. We have to do it now or weeds will grow in the spring. Now. Don’t let the weeds take root.

I go back to the hospital. She looks good- you’d never know. Just the reddish eye, though it’s turned her brown eye green. My eyelids look like split tomatoes. I’m sweaty and gross no matter how much I scrub and keep biting my tongue and staring at the fluorescent lights trying to dry the tears that keep pooling.

She is so strong. Joking even. Texting friends and family. She named the tumor Paul. How are we sisters? I want this peace. Even if it’s fake. I want to be able to at least fake calm. Not have every emotion spill out my eyes or mouth with no way to dam them up.

I bring her her daughter. She smiles and talks so calmly but I see the look in her eyes. It’s an intense stare beyond the smile and cheerful tone. That terror all mothers feels if they ever let their mind wander to leaving their child. I clumsily push out of the room before the tears fall. I want to be strong so much. I stare out the window and watch her daughter darting in and out the ICU room giggling. She has a cherry lollipop and is so happy. She went pee-pee in the hospital’s “funny potty” so her mama gave her a lollipop. Parenting and potty training from her bed in ICU. I go back in and am happy for 3 year olds. Every family needs them. Her mama gives her more lollipops and tells her she loves her 100 times.

My sister wants chocolate ice cream so I ask the nurse if it’s allowed (not that it would have stopped me). The nurse says no but then looks at her chart and says yes. The nurses are being too nice. Their eyes look sad when they see her. I bring a large chocolate Frosty back since it’s the closest to ice cream I can find. Everyone eventually leaves the room besides us. I slowly tear. For the first time she does too. She tells me not to make her cry. I make a joke, “I’ve made it this long!” haha. I tell her I love her. Which we never say. She says it back. I turn to leave and the tears pour out. By the time I get to the elevator I am literally choking. Coughing. Gasping. I can’t breathe. I rush to my car and collapse inside. Lay on the steering wheel and cry so hard I don’t know how I will stop. My grandmother comes over and puts her hand on my chest and her arm tightly around me. She’s always so soft. I sob and heave. I want to make it better. I’m the big sister. I’m the protector. I’m the one who beat up the kids who called her names in elementary and threatened the ex-husband to not mess with her during the divorce. And people believe me. They don’t mess with me. I will be crazy if needed and they know it. But I can’t scare this away.

I pray. I ask everyone I know to pray. God performs miracles. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. Received them. I know they happen. But how much do I need to pray? If I beg 1000 times is it enough? Give me a number. Give me a job. I will do it. I promise. Just restore her. Heal her. Please God.

I want to be annoyed at her boyfriend choices and roll my eyes at her messy room. I want to tell her to go back to college for the 3000th time. I want to see her cool makeup looks, envy her nails and go Christmas shopping together. I want to see her give her daughter lots more lollipops. Please God. Please.

My sister is at home recovering now. Thank you to all who prayed for her and please continue to do so. I have seen God’s hand and so many miracles. The older I get the more I see my need for Him. So while I hate all the tragedy, sickness and destruction in our sinful world- I know God can work good through it.

You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good -so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved.- Genesis 50:20

-Cher

A Little About Me

A Little About Me

Some of you know me in real life (IRL as the kids are saying these days) but some of you don’t so I thought I’d share some things about myself so you can get to know me better!

Hubby and I at my high school graduation.
Me and my babies when they were babies!
  • I’m a Mama and Wife. Those are my main priorities and my ‘job’. I love being a mom and consider it the most important thing I have done or will ever do. As Jackie O said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”. And I couldn’t agree more. My husband and I have been married almost 18 years. We started young and have literally grown up together. He’s my lobster.
  • I’m a Christian. I think the cool kids say “Jesus-follower” or something  but I accepted Jesus as my savior, asked him to forgive me for my sins, and do my best to live my life according to the Bible. And that has had a bigger impact on my life than anything else. I was blessed to have made this decision very early in life and can see how otherwise I would be in a very different place. If you haven’t done that- you can do it now. Seriously. It’s that easy- a decision with eternal implications. More info HERE.
  • I have moved around a lot. A lot. This has given me a heart for the “new people” wherever I am. I love welcoming people and helping them find where they fit. I greet visitors at our church, help new families at my kid’s school and if you move in on my street you will be getting a plate of cookies with my contact info. I hope that my “job” when I get to heaven (a long, long, time from now) might be greeting the new people.
  • I don’t mind public speaking. If I have a presentation to give- no big deal. Now, a big room full of small talk though? Help me……
  • My husband works in technology and is the first to have all the new gadgets. But I’m what he calls a “late adopter”. I’m the last straggler to jump on the bandwagon. Facebook, smartphones, Instagram- I don’t jump onboard until I can’t hold out any longer. Drives him crazy! I can barely even get my TV to work and often resort to asking my kids for help. My excuse is my brain is full. If I learn which HDMI I need to use for Apple TV I may forget our address.
  • Texas is my happy place. I love traveling but also love coming home. To Texas. No other place is home to me. I wasn’t born here but got here as fast as I could!
  • I still do things like eat too much cookie dough, sing loudly in the car and sometimes dye my hair colors rainbow colors. I’m still waiting for that “grown up” feeling I thought I would get by now. I may be a grandma with pink hair one day.
  • I hate mornings and love sleep. When people brag about getting up early I feel confused. To me it’s like bragging about going to the dentist. I understand it’s sometimes necessary but don’t understand wanting to do it.
  • Halloween and Independence Day are my favorite holidays. See above. Nighttime events! (notice I didn’t say most important fellow Christians).
  • I’m left handed. Not sure that means all the things people say it does but 2 of my kids are too and we enjoy messing up dinner seating with our elbows.

Well, hows that for a start? Anything else you are dying to know? Ha!

Also, a little update on my freezer meal plan from my last post. It is THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously. We haven’t had fast food in a week and have eaten together every night. My kids are also eating so much healthier because chicken nuggets and french fries are not an option! (they were about to sprout feathers- I’m sure of it). They are on their second week of school and I really think it’s helped make evenings calmer. They can relax or do homework while I prepare the meal and get ready for bed while I clean up. So even though it is a lot more work for me, it’s good for the family. I really think I was just stuck in the “what should I make for dinner?” rut and having the meals already prepped and planned got me moving in the right direction. You could totally do that without subscribing to a plan but I think the plan made it less daunting for me.

Well, one more day until Friday! Hope this weekend brings fun and relaxation for you!

-Cher

New (school) year!

New (school) year!

This week my kids are going back to school. I always feel like right when we have settled into our groove- summer is over. I will miss them bunches. I have a child in elementary, middle and high school. The logistics of that can get tricky…And each year seems to fly by faster than the one before. I mean, in 2 years I will have a senior in high school! And I can’t even think beyond that.

But our summer was wonderful. Full of lots of rest and relaxation. Blanket forts and night swims. Family time and travel. Some days that meant we were in pj’s zoning out on Netflix and X-Box while eating leftover pizza. Probably too many days- but it’s a nice reprieve before fall. If summer is a gentle creek, fall is a raging river. And there is pretty much zero time to switch gears.

But honestly- I like it. I mean, I’m a blogger so it’s kind of required for me to like fall. But it’s a new fresh start for us all. The haircuts, new school shoes and clothes, brand new, non-stinky lunch boxes! So much to be excited about! With the kids in school all day it gives me time to start my own projects. I’ve downloaded a freezer-meal prep plan I will be writing about soon. I’m planning on painting a few rooms (any tips on painting ceilings? Ugh!). I will be leading a neighborhood Bible study for moms of teens (prayers appreciated!!!). And of course exercising. This is my “new year” more than January 1st and the opportunity to make good changes is always exciting.

What plans do you have for the new school year?