and just like that…

And all at once, everything changed.  The years passed without a hitch, time stood still on some days, and some days it moved quickly, but before I knew it, the future was present and I was right here, turning 30 years old.

It’s pretty cliche, but I can certainly recall a time where 30 seemed a million years away and so incredibly old.  My Mama was 33 when she gave birth to me and for the longest time, I couldn’t imagine being that age or anywhere close to that age. Eventually, we all get there, and ideally, we go past these milestones, collecting memories and moments that we get to carry for as long as the human brain will allow.

Honestly, though, I wish I could talk to 15 year old me. I’d give anything to tell her so many truths and beg her to be kind to herself, to love herself more, and to live without apology in this silly, unfair world.  It wasn’t until now that I found the importance in extending kindness not just to everyone I meet, but also to myself.  So many years of harsh, painful criticism directed inward, and now, I spend my days unwinding that braided wire of hatred and filling my heart and mind with kindness, and it’s not always easy.  15 years ago, I had no idea where I’d be today, or who I would be, but I am elated with both.

Truth be told, I think I was always meant to be in my 30’s.  I never partied in college, I never dated a lot, I never did a lot of things.  I was saved when I was 11, baptized at 17, and while I am certainly not perfect, I am a walking testimony of grace.  I certainly do not deserve the life that I have, the life I begged God for relentlessly, but He gave it to me anyway.  No.  He gave me more.  And it absolutely bowls me over when I think about how much more. I love the stillness of 30, of knowing who and what I am (though I have always had an idea – I’m pretty steadfast like that), and no longer putting value in anyone’s opinion about how I live my life or what I believe or think.  It’s liberating.

So, here we are.  The start of another year of my life, a new decade, a new chapter.  I’m excited to see what’s on the next page.

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We’re planning.

Oddly enough, I remember Christmas 1989.   My Dad was sitting in the kitchen talking on the old, wall mounted rotary phone at least once, and that is important.  I can remember how many gifts we got that year, and it was odd, because we never really had much money, so we certainly shouldn’t have gotten those gifts.  I was only 3, but I can remember so much about that particular Christmas.  Not too long after Christmas, my Mom noticed a long distance call on the bill and called the number back, asking for my Dad.  The number originated in Alexandria, Virginia, where my Dad was working at that time.  A woman answered, naturally, and I could tell you that was the beginning of the end of their marriage, but honestly, it had been ending for quite a while.  Nail in the coffin that was already six feet under ground is probably far more apt a description.  Since then, it’s always been the four of us.  The picture below always struck me because at that moment, did my Dad know that this was going to be it?  Was it as simple as there was no one else to take the picture?  I can’t ever really know what was going through his head, but this picture is equal parts heartbreaking and fascinating to me.

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Andi, please don’t be mad at me, your hair is glorious.

My Mom is the center of our universe. Tommy, Andi, and I all have very different relationships with her, but we are very, very close.  It’s no secret if you follow me on twitter or Facebook that we’re likely facing something difficult in the coming months.  When I was 10, Mom was diagnosed with cancer.  At that age, I had no real grasp of her mortality.  I very vividly remember her saying, “I’m going to be fine.” and if Mommy said she would be fine, she would be fine.  And, you know what, she was.  She made it.  Just like she survived my Dad leaving, she survived cancer.  My entire life I’ve known that if my Mom puts her faith out there, whatever she is believing for will come to pass.

And for some reason, we’re likely looking at this cancer thing again.  I don’t know why.  Of course I don’t believe anyone deserves cancer, but selfishly, I especially don’t believe my Mom should have suffer with it twice, but twenty years later (almost to the day), we’re visiting doctors, having scans, having biopsies, and begging God for mercy and for the best news possible.

But, I’ll be honest, and maybe you’ll bristle at me saying this…. I’m pretty aggravated at God. Mom says I should be mad at the devil, but I’m just… maybe I’m just mad at everything. I’m mad at biology and cells and this ridiculously savage, unrelenting disease.  I wish it were me because I’m strong, and I’m able, and I could do it. I wish I could take it from her, but then I know it would destroy her to watch me go through it.  There’s a verse that comes to me even when I am angry, I keep hearing, “All things work together for good to them that love God, and for them who are called according to His purpose” and I try my best to find some shred of good.  Not in a trite way, because I hate that. I absolutely hate platitudes and all of that, but because I have to stay positive and I can’t let this negativity and anger consume me, I’m trying my level best to find the good.

So, we’re planning.  Last night when I was talking to her, I said, we’re not planning your funeral, we’re planning life.  We’re planning Thanksgiving, Christmas, and going into the new year.  We’re planning how to transition her into a healthier, more active lifestyle.  We’re planning on watching Bekah and Dylan get older and maybe adding another grandchild to the mix someday.  We’re planning.  We’re not going to let any of this get the best of us or take what time is here, because we believe deeply, no, we know this is not the end. There’s still much left to be done.

If you pray, please pray for my Mom.  She is my heart walking around outside of me, my rock, and any tiny shred of kindness and good in me, I owe to her.  I am everything I am because of the way she has taught me to live my life, loving relentlessly, even when life is not fair, good, or kind.  Pray that the prognosis is good, pray for strength, and if you feel so inclined, pray for a miracle.  I am.