Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Power of a Life Well Lived: A Tribute to My Aunt Mary

Three months ago my Aunt Mary died. I cannot believe this earth has been without my feisty favorite for three months. I don't remember so constantly missing someone at any point.This time of grief has probably been one of the most difficult things I have ever faced. Louie Bodies took her memory, her understanding, her body...but never her soul, the person she was still shined in all she did.

To the end she wanted me to read her Bible out loud to her, she wasn't a fan of my "crazy hats," and she refused to "rob God" by not giving tithes...even at 80 years old, that woman had her priorities straight. And my favorite part? Even while she was dying, she ran her race well. I learned more from her in those last months than I have anyone else in my entire life.

I learned the value of time. I learned what it meant to be present in the moment because you never know what memories you make that you never want to forget.  And we dreamed and dreamed about bodies free of pain, mansions big enough to fit all of the people you loved, and we talked about the "Cloud of Witnesses" spoken of in Hebrews because I firmly believe she sees all of the things that would make her happy in my race even if she's cheering me on from heaven.

I learned about the value of touch. While her memory eroded, holding her hand brought a sense of the Holy Spirit I have never experienced in silence. Sometimes at the end of life, you realize words don't really matter, pictures don't do those moments justice - all that matters is that you are there with the people you love, holding them, and loving them for whatever time you are given.

I learned the power of living a life with no regrets. The last thing I said to her was "I love you. You can go to heaven now, I'll meet you there later. (I may have also promised to be feisty enough for the both of us :)." Since she passed, I make sure the last thing I say to my parents and D before leaving them (or any family member) is I love you.

I also learned just how much I LOVE being an aunt. I try to invest in B and EK the way she invested in me so that they will know that they are someone's favorite.

I cry a lot. I rock in her rocking chair and sometimes pretend like tomorrow I'll get to hold her hand all over again. I sing a lot of hymns. But I don't regret a thing. Losing her was the most painful thing for my heart, but even knowing the pain I know now, I would do it all again because loving her and learning from her was one of the greatest privileges I have ever been given.

Here's to my Aunt Mary. I miss her daily but the glitter she left is with me always. And she taught me lessons I will never forget.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Healing I Never Needed: A Family Calling

Both my brother and my father preached in the last few months, and the topic of CP came up. They talked about how they prayed for healing, and longed for me to know what life in a body free of pain from CP felt like. As I listened to them I realized, thanks to the way my family approached CP, I never needed to be healed...that was never a genuine desire on my part.

As I prayed about that, I realized it was because the Jesus that my family mirrored in their approach to CP was never small. He never had to do anything to convince me He was loving, He was faithful, He was God. I can genuinely say, whatever Jesus plan is regarding my life with CP I have never been more thankful for my family's approach to life with a disability.

My mama made me strong. She made me do everything that everyone else did. She is the reason I button buttons, put my socks on, live independently, battle courageously. From her, I learned CP is never an excuse to be a victim.

My daddy made me dream. He always told me I could do all things through Christ. He fought for my identity when it was lost in depression, and death. He fought even when I didn't want him too. From my daddy, I learned the importance of speaking identity into those areas people are ashamed of, and running the race instead of running away.

My brother taught me to fight for what's right. From Geoff, I learned to remember I was meant to win. I learned never to let others determine what I was capable of. I learned CP was a positive part of my identity, not a negative.

My sister taught me the value of beauty in all things, but especially being different. From Emily, I learned the beauty of embracing myself and everything that that involves. She taught me women are beautiful when they embrace each aspect of their flaws.

My brother Landon, taught me that I was valuable. No matter what the world says about disabilities Landon never let me doubt that CP was a unique and valuable aspect of who I was and the people who were meant to be a part of my life would embrace and love that/

And thanks to all of these things, the physical healing my family longed for was never a need for me. My heart never broke over being physically different thanks to CP. I needed healing in a lot of emotional ways, but I never doubted that Jesus didn't have to heal me physically to be present in my life. He was there. He was there every time I fell and my brothers picked me up. He was there every time my sister did my make up. And He was definitely there when my parents forced me to dream in a world so full of nightmares.

And thanks to those aspects of my identity so wooed to life by my family they removed the need for a healing I never even knew I was supposed to need, and I will be forever thankful.