Fight On, Fighter…

We all have battles in life that we go through… Sometimes, they are silent battles, ones that no one else knows about… sometimes they are very public battles and it feels like the whole world knows what you are being faced with. Either way I think we can agree that battles are hard. And no one is immune to them. Some battles you feel ready for, some you do not. And then there are the continuous battles… one right after another and there seems to be no end. Those battles are the most challenging mentally.

If you are like me during those rough times, you feel like you are constantly throwing your shield up against arrows of disappointment, discouragement, and regret and you have those moments where you just feel tired. Tired of fighting, tired of lifting that shield… and BAM… that’s when an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and a feeling of giving up comes over you. You are right in the thick of it and you fall to your knees feeling alone and overwhelmed. All you want to do is ‘sit this one out’. Those nasty thoughts come creeping through… you know the ones I’m talking about… I’m sure we’ve all faced them at some point or another…

What’s the point of it all anyways?

What am I fighting for?

What is my measly life good for?

Wouldn’t everyone be better off with out me?

That’s when you need to YELL back to yourself…

NO!

You need to know that no one is better off without you! It’s the exact opposite. Everyone is better off with you! ❤ You are the only You! Picture a big beautiful puzzle with a missing piece. You cannot see the whole beautiful picture the way it was designed to be seen because of that one pesky missing piece.

Related image

You may think it’s only one missing piece but that one piece effects the whole picture. That’s you in the great puzzle of life. You are a piece in this puzzle of life that only you fit. Without you there will always be something important missing. You have a part to play in the lives of those around you that no one else can play! Fight On, Fighter!

DON’T GIVE UP!

You are not alone in this battle. Your Creator is by your side. Even if you FEEL like you are alone please KNOW within your spirit that you are not!

Image result for not alone

God has given you everything you need to win this war. The battle has already been won but you still need to fight. So stand up, dust off your knees, raise your shield and your sword. Fight On, Fighter.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT YOU!

Remember who is coming behind you… your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends… we are all fighting for someone! Use that as your motivation! Who are you fighting for?

Image result for who are you fighting for

It’s your life, but it’s not all about you… and that ultimately is what makes this battle… and every battle after that… worth fighting! With God, you can do it! Fight On, Fighter. ❤

 

Thank-you for hearing my right-sided heart on the matter…

Melissa ❤

Advertisements

The Little Milestones That Feel Epic…

Well it happened… and sooner than I had expected… Izzy lost her first tooth. It was such a big deal for her… after it happened she was so elated…  hopping around the kitchen with excitement about the future and growing up… but somehow I think it was a bigger deal for Mom and one that needed to be processed. 😉

Due to my health, Shaun and I decided quite a while ago that Izzy would be our one and only here on Earth. I prayed a lot about it and we both came to the conclusion that it was more important for me to focus and put what time and energy I have into being the best Mom that I could be to Izzy, as well as the wisest decision for both my health and the health of the baby. Losing Dexter was enough for me. Lupus has made me prone for late-term miscarriages and although I know I will see Dex again I don’t think my heart could take another loss like his.

So… being a one child household has made both Shaun and I very aware and determined to remember the big and little milestones… to try to live in the moment with her as much as possible because we only have one shot at this.

A happy by-product of this makes two very attentive parents and lots of family time… a hard by-product of this means that these little moments and milestones seem so epic. They come with tears of joy mixed in with tears of sadness. Our baby girl is growing up. Losing that first baby tooth brings her one step closer to that first adult tooth… and even saying ‘Izzy’ and the label of ‘Adult’ in the same sentence makes me tremble on the inside. So when I have these feelings I know I have to deal with them. Initial feelings are always going to surface and that is normal and natural but now I must decide what I am going to do with them.

I do know my job as Mom is to raise my child to become independent and excited about the future in front of her. But as I’m sure any Mom out there reading this will understand. This is not easy. When you have poured your heart and soul into this little human from day one the thought of her leaving your nest and not actually needing you anymore… even in the little things… comes with initial feelings of loss. Loss of the past and the loss of ‘being needed‘. If I am being totally honest, it’s the loss of being needed that hurts the most. Secretly, I love being needed by her. Being Izzy’s Mom fills me with purpose and I embrace every moment… Of course being Izzy’s Mom also means that it is my job… and thus my purpose as well… to think of Izzy before myself. To constantly think about what is best for her… not necessarily what is best for me. 

So how do I do this? How do I deal with these initial feelings? First, I admit them. I am human, and therefore not perfect. I am selfish by nature and I know I need God’s help to deal with them. Then I gently remind myself of what kind of adult I want my little girl to become…

  • I want her to be confident and independent
  • I want her not to fear change 
  • I want her to be kind and compassionate
  • I want her to find the joy in the small things
  • I want her to find friendship and love
  • I want her to know that if she has faith she will always be ok… no matter what happens.

This then reminds me of what kind of Mom I need to be for her…

  • The Mom who gently nudges her towards independence with a smile on her face
  • The Mom who does not hold their child back because they have a hard time letting go
  • The Mom who models as best she can the behaviour that she wants to see in her daughter
  • The Mom who spends time and takes the small moments and makes them joyful
  • The Mom who models as best she can the faith and application of that faith that she wants to see in her daughter

So now, after processing, I can look at that slightly altered… but just as beautiful… smile and see the future in a positive and exciting light.

Hopping around that kitchen she is like a baby bird beginning to flap her wings with excitement and independence… and this momma bird is going to do her best to help her baby learn how to fly! 🙂 And someday… when she finally flys away from this nest with hope and excitement for the future I will have so much joy in knowing that I have fulfilled my purpose as Izzy’s Mom.

Thank-you for hearing my right-hearted side of the matter! ❤

Melissa ❤

20190117_144152

 

2019… Here I Come!

What is it about a New Year that causing us to reflect on the past and hope for the future? I guess it’s a sense of new beginnings and an inherent hope to always improve our lives.

Although I am a firm believer of contentment and peace with your situation I also know that hope for the future, self-improvement and overcoming weaknesses are important as well. So I thought I would jump on the New Years bandwagon and create my own list of life goals for this year…

  1. To Strive for Peace in my Daily Life
  2. To Not Regret the Past but Learn from it
  3. To Learn the Balance of Hoping for the Future and yet Finding Contentment & Joy in the Present
  4. To Not Fear Disappointment
  5. To Spread as much Joy as I Possibly Can
  6. To Be Real and yet Positive at the Same Time
  7. To Love Others more Unconditionally
  8. To Regularly Walk in the Shoes of Others… Especially when they are Driving Me Crazy 😛
  9. To Encourage Myself More and to Not be so Dependent on the Approval of Others
  10. To Think More about what I Can Do and Less about what I Can No Longer Do
  11. To be a Source of Encouragement in ALL Aspects of Daily Interaction… Whether it be face-to-face, facebook, instagram or blogs 
  12. To Not be Consumed by or Depressed at the state of the World around me but to do My Best to be a Light Shining in it
  13. To Seek Meaningful & Uplifting Relationships in my Life… with Family, Friends and most of all my Creator
  14. To Love Myself in a Healthy Non-Egotistical way and to see Potential in Myself Despite my Weaknesses
  15. To Pray for Wisdom & Discernment on a Daily Basis
  16. To Start Every Day with a Thankful Heart
  17. To Daily keep God Front and Center of my Life
  18. To Not Expect Perfection in my Parenting or Marriage but Yet Still Strive to be the Best Mom & Wife that I Can Possibly Be ❤

There we have it. My life goals for 2019. In all honesty though, each one of these goals is more of a prayer than a goal because each item on my list will require God’s help to accomplish. I am positive that this year, like all years before and after, will be be chalk full of ups & downs, challenges & joyful moments… but with God’s daily help I am ready for it all.

After all… I have a special promise to cling to in 2019 and every year after that…

Whatever I have, wherever I am,

I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Phil 4:13 [MSG]

Goals 2019

2019 Here I Come…

Ready or Not! ❤

 

Thank-you for hearing my right-hearted side of the matter and Happy New Year to You and Yours!

Melissa Ann Elizabeth Erikson ❤

Dear Dexter…

This is your Momma

Six years ago today you went straight from my tummy to the arms of Jesus. I have been trying so hard to think of a way to honour your life this week. Some way to show my love and to keep your memory alive. So this is what I have come up with. A very public letter. To me… the more I say your name and acknowledge your life the more you are alive to others as well. After all you didn’t just exist in my heart… ❤ You existed! You were alive. Just as alive as Izabelle is today. As much as this crazy world tries to tell me otherwise… living to only 19 weeks does not make your life any less important than anyone else’s. You were designed by the same Creator that I or anyone else was!

My little Pumpernickel, I won’t lie… I miss you and have so many wishes…

I wish I could have seen you take your first steps… to hear your first giggle… to watch you grow into a strapping young man… even to just know the colour of your eyes and the colour of your hair. I grieve not what I lost… but what I never got the chance to know.

In some respects you are a complete mystery to me. As I watch Izzy grow up and more and more of her personality come out, it highlights the fact that (for now) who you are is a mystery. To me, you are a big beautiful shiny wrapped present… but I will never fully know what is inside that gift… all the little nuances of who you are… until I reach heaven someday. And  I have to say… what a joyous day that will be! You have made Heaven so real for me.

Don’t get me wrong… I love my life… I know that I too have a plan and a purpose… and until God calls me home I will do my best to live this life to the best of my ability… but I also look forward to the day when I get to embrace you… my Son. My first born. For now, I will be satisfied with joyfully imagining you and everything God has made you to be.

As selfish as I am in ‘wishing’ you were here… I also know that you got to skip this crazy roller coaster of life… full of up and downs. It’s pretty amazing to think that you’ve never had a scraped knee, or a cold. You will never experience heart ache or loss of life. You have never cried or gone hungry. You are living in a Perfect Place! For that I will always be thankful. God is so good and I am so thankful that you went right from the safe haven of my womb to the loving arms of your Creator.

I will also always be so thankful to have been chosen to be your mother. As much as I ache when I think of holding you in my arms, I am always filled with thanksgiving as well. I am thankful to have been chosen to be your mom. I am thankful to God for giving me both my desired Boy and Girl. He completed my family when He created you and your sister… but your special place Dex was that you made me a Mother. There was no going back after that. You changed my heart forever, and your very existence made me ready for Izzy and all the excitement that her entrance into this world was going to bring. As much as I miss you I want you to know that you are a source of Joy in my life. Everyday I thank God for you. ❤ Knowing you are in Heaven with my grandparents and waiting for my arrival brings me such a picture of Joy and more Peace than you will ever know.

I Love You Dexter Pumpernickel Erikson… ❤

Here is me… your mother… sending your name yet again into cyberspace to publicly declare your existence & importance. I may have to wait to fully open my gift of you… but I love that gift no less than anything here on earth.

Love Always & Forever,

Your Momma ❤

20180309_062708

Ten Years And Counting…

Well Shaun we did it…  10 Years! 🙂 The first major milestone of marriage. Let’s check it off the list. Even though I know we are both secure in knowing that we are in it till the end I feel as though it is still good to acknowledge the hard work that we have put in to make it happily and more in love than ever, to 10 years. 😉

Although we both knew Marriage would be hard work and full of surprises I don’t think either one of us realized how much two people can go through in a short span of 10 years…

First came the initial melding of hearts… which let’s be honest… in marriage never really ends… but the first couple years for us were definitely interesting. Mixing a clueless just turned 26 year old optimistic idealistic with an almost 32 year old routine and hobby orientated realist definitely caused some sparks. From having to cancel hobbies to putting up with bike frames by the front door we amazingly made it through those first few years without any ‘forest fires’! 😉

Then came the journey to start a family. Due to my health history we knew it might be an adventure from the start but we really had no idea what we were in for. Reflecting on my pregnancies for me will always come with a flood of emotions… extreme joy & immense sorrow. I remember being so elated when we first found out we were pregnant with Dex. I remember being so cautious and so trying to do everything right. Especially because of my past I was so very careful. I was just about at the point where I was letting down my guard. We were past the 1st trimester and everything was going so great… so normal… and then the world shook. I was loosing amniotic fluid and no one could explain why. I found myself in the worst time warp imaginable… just waiting on my bed, talking to my unborn child and waiting for the inevitable. I felt as though I was in row boat out at sea spinning and having no knowledge of which direction I was going. But the boat did eventually stop spinning, and the direction was chosen, and my little man made his physical appearance but not before he made his true appearance in heaven. Looking back I can truly say that was the hardest time of my life. A piece of my heart was gone forever and there was no getting it back. They say that loosing a child is extremely hard on marriage… it can either bring you closer or tear you apart. I am so thankful that it did bring us closer. There were definitely hard times. Men grieve differently that women and especially because I… being the pregnant one… was the main one at that point who really had any sort of physical interaction, (After all it was my body that was changing as he was growing inside it) But Shaun… you stuck by me. You comforted me. You loved me. You took me away. I can never really express my gratitude for your love during that time. Just not being alone… having you working in the next room while I grieved meant the world to me. You showed me love when all I felt was loss. ❤

Of course… I wasn’t ready to try again right away… but because at the time we still had no idea why we lost Dex, everyone assured us that we were good to go for for baby #2. Once we started trying it actually didn’t take very long to conceive.  Joy mixed with trepidation and fear as I slowly walked out the 9 months. Baby #2 (Poppy) grew perfectly. I remember the tears of Joy I had when we had our 21 week ultrasound, finding out that we had a healthy baby girl growing perfectly in my womb. In fact, aside from a rash that started to make an appearance a couple months before she was born, everything was remarkably boring. But boring never lasts with us and Izabelle’s entrance into this world was anything but. With some much needed help she came into this world and helped us define our priorities quite quickly. All of a sudden we were no longer just husband and wife… we were now Mom and Dad. All decisions had to reflect that fact. And they did. It was hard going for the first month… Shaun, you had to jump on the plane with her and go to Vancouver only hours after her birth and I had to play the waiting game again. It was yet another time filled with turmoil, upheaval and fear… but Love and Faith were at our core so we made it through that crazy month with our love and family in tact. ❤

The first year of being a parent was quite hard. Not only did we have to deal with all the normal first time parenting jitters and ups and downs but we now had a new mountain in our midst… Lupus. The discovery did bring some peace on the loss of Dexter because we now understood that it was most likely the reason we lost him, but it also turned our world upside down. Having a new baby is challenging enough, but having a new baby while dealing with multiple health issues and symptoms is extremely hard. But I was so in love with our daughter… which I think made me somewhat blind to the copious amount of challenges that we endured that first year. In fact… it’s not really until I look back on that year do I really truly realize the amount of challenges that we faced. We were both so in love with our little Izzy. It’s safe to say that she brought so much joy into our lives and into our marriage and continues to do so every day. ❤

The last three years have now been about finding our groove… finding our balance. Still a work in progress but I think we are getting there. Unless there is a cure discovered or it is within God’s plan that I be healed completely I know I will continue scaling this mountain for the rest of my life… but there are ledges of rest… and I can definitely say that it teaches us… or should I say forces us to define our priorities and find some balance in life. The ‘bigger picture’ becomes more important and we really have had to learn to not ‘sweat the small stuff’. 😉

Although we both were not blind going into marriage, I think we definitely did not understand the full extent of what was to come. We knew marriage was going to be hard work and we were right. It’s amazing how the melding of two individuals into one is such a long drawn out process. Of course it’s a process that never really ends but with each passing year you both do start to think alike, you start to gravitate towards the same interests and areas of importance but you never loose your individual identity. I think it just naturally comes with the growth of love. The more you love someone and the more that love grows… the more you are truly putting yourself in their shoes… you start to care less and less about yourself and more and more about the one you love. Of course this process is not an easy one. As much as Hollywood would still lead you to believe that Love is easy… it’s not. It requires sacrifice and action and it requires effort from both parties. I am blessed that I am married to you Shaun… a man who also jumped into this marriage believing that ‘this is it’. It’s a ‘one shot pony’ and we are both in it till God calls one of us home. We both believe that with God’s help we can conquer all problems that come our way. 🙂

All in all, our 10 Years have not been boring. Shaun, I know everyone has a different story and everyone has an exciting adventure to share, I’m just so glad I am on this particular adventure with you. ❤ It has been a roller-coaster and it is probably not going to slow down any time soon. I expect more dips and side-winds and free-falls along the way… but I have you by my side… holding my hand… so I know we are good to go for 10 years… AND COUNTING! 🙂

I ❤ you Shaun,

Thank-you for the past 10 years… and God willing… the many more to come. ❤

Melissa ❤

Until next time… Thank-you for hearing my ‘right-hearted’ side on the matter.

IMG_20171229_070927

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfulness = Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about Thankfulness over the last couple months… really since we had our Thanksgiving here in Canada… and now that our neighbors to the south are celebrating Thanksgiving today I thought it appropriate to write out my thoughts on the matter. I am so happy that in this day and age we have a holiday called Thanksgiving… a Holiday that is purely about spending time together as families and enjoying the simple things in life like food and fellowship. It’s so important… especially in a society where we all seem to be stuck on the fast forward button. 😉 After all, it is those simple times that are remembered the most. 🙂

I have found in my own life that there is a huge connection between thankfulness & joy. I am now going to steal, yet another quote from my daughter’s favorite show VeggieTales… “A Thankful Heart Is A Happy Heart”. This for me says it all and is so very true. When I am thankful… even for just the small things… my heart is happy. But if I wallow… if I can’t look around and see something to be thankful for… then I am miserable. It really is a pretty simple equation… Thankfulness = Joy. Of course, as with many things… knowing what to do and doing it are two very different things. Thankfulness is the key to joy, however it takes effort on my part… and depending on the day… it can take a lot of effort.

It can be so discouraging to wake up sick and in pain on a daily basis… and I cannot lie and say that I do not have my moments where I want to wallow in self-pity and tell the whole world how hard life is for me… but thankfully I remember that this will not solve anything. This will not change my challenges or magically make anything better. In fact, all it does is make me more miserable. I then remember that despite my measly challenges (because let’s face it, I am very aware that everyone has challenges… and most of them are more challenging than mine ;-))… I have SO MUCH to be thankful for.

I have an incredible husband, an amazing daughter, a son waiting for me in Heaven, the most loving parents, a roof over my head, a free country to live in, lots of friends and family and really the list could go on and on

The point is… it is possible to take any and every situation and find something… anything… to be thankful for. And I know that if I can do that… then even on my worst days I can look into my daughter’s beautiful blue eyes and experience the joy that comes from having a thankful heart. ❤

As always… thank-you for hearing my ‘right-sided‘ heart on the matter…

Melissa ❤

Best-Thankful-quotes

 

It’s A Meaningful Life…

Sometimes the best lessons in life… the ones that really hit home… come from simplistic sources. You watch good and wholesome lessons with your child in hopes that she will get something out of it and then low and behold it’s you that learns the greatest lesson. That’s what happened to me this week. It’s not a lesson that I haven’t heard before but it is a lesson that I needed to hear again.

Izzy loves VeggieTales (For those of you who have never heard of them before… It’s a christian children’s cartoon) and this week she took out of our Church library a Christmas episode called ‘It’s A Meaningful Life’. As you can probably guess by the title it is a  child’s adaptation of the classic ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. I took the time to sit down and watch the whole thing with her yesterday and I came out the other side crying like a baby. Now before you laugh too hard at my slightly pathetic emotional upheaval let me explain the premise of the story and why it invoked such a meaningful and emotional response.

Larry the Cucumber (the main character) has hopes and dreams about leaving his hometown… about becoming a big football star and supposedly making something of his life. However his hopes are dashed when he misses the touchdown pass and gets injured in the process. He then ends up marrying his sweetheart, running his father’s toy train factory and having 3 kids… twin boys and an adopted girl. He loves his family but he cannot help but wonder and still think that his life would be better and have more purpose if he had just caught that pass.  From there he takes a magical train ride and gets a glimpse of what his life… and the lives of those around him… would look if he had gotten his way. In his alternate reality he leaves the town, becomes rich… but still isn’t happy… never marries and because he never gets married his twins do not exist and his adopted daughter is never adopted. Through the whole process he learns that even though his life did not turn out the way he had originally planned it actually turned out better… because he had his family. He also learned that he had purpose, because even though it may have not looked like much on the outside, God was using him to make a difference in the lives of others. From just having his children, adopting his daughter, showing love by coaching football, employing people at his toy shop… it all meant something… it was all making a difference.

I know what you are thinking… nice story… but why was she crying?

So here’s my confession… I have totally felt like Larry. I have been at that place where I have thought… If Only? Or what can I really do to make a difference? Especially since my diagnosis, I have had times where I have struggled with self-worth. Where I look to Heaven and ask God what good am I really doing here?

So in watching this ‘Children’s Story’ I got a shot in the arm. God tapped me on the shoulder and helped me to see…. yet again… that I do have a planI do have a purpose. Yes, I have struggles, yes I may not be able to do what I once could do… but that’s ok. It does not lessen my purpose in life… it just changes it. My priorities shift (which actually isn’t a bad thing at all) but my purpose remains.

Ultimately, I believe that the whole reason for existence is to show God’s love to others. Whether it’s showing love to your neighbor, your teachers, your parents, your friends, your siblings, your spouse or your children. IT ALL MATTERS! And it really doesn’t need to be as complicated as we make it out to be sometimes. As humans we tend to feel that we will be satisfied with our lives ONLY if everything lines up the way we think it should… but in reality… time and time again… I have seen proof of a Creator in my life because it HASN’T lined up the way I have thought it should. That’s part of the reason why I love my Faith. My relationship with God assures me that I don’t have to be in the driver’s seat. If I would have been in the driver’s seat, I already know my life would be a mess. I love that I can trust that God knows the best for me. And it doesn’t matter what he leads me through… even if it’s hard… or practically impossible… I know He will bring me out on the other side STRONGER than I was going in.

Thank-you God for the simplistic shot in the arm…

I have a Plan… I have a Purpose… 

I have a MEANINGFUL LIFE! ❤

Thank-you again for hearing my ‘right-sided’ heart on the matter…

Melissa ❤

PS. Don’t ForgetYOU too have a Plan and a Purpose! ❤

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)

For Auntie…

A funeral can be a very beautiful thing. When done true to that individual that passed on, it really becomes a reflection of that person. A simple taste of who that person truly was and a much easier time to say our ‘goodbyes for now’. Recently, I had the honour and privilege of going to my Auntie Marilyne’ s funeral. It was unconventional, broke a few funeral rule books and in doing so, spoke volumes of who my Auntie was in life and what was so very important to her… three main things come to mind… Faith, Love and Family. As I sat, my Mom on one side and my daughter on the other, I was again so reminded of the truly important things in life. God gave us one life to live and it really does matter how we live it. Hearing stories, and thinking of my own treasured memories of my Auntie, I came to the conclusion that what was said of my Auntie was exactly what I wanted people to speak of me someday. I want to be known as someone who put Faith, Love and Family at the top of my priority list. At the funeral, graveside and the lunch that followed I did not have the emotional strength to get up and speak about Auntie’s importance in my life. So, this is me dedicating this post to my Auntie and taking a moment in reflection on who she was, not only to me, but to everyone around her.

Her Faith – From the treasured old hymns that she loved to the hand written sign in her casket stating “I am Home. I am waiting for you! – Marilyne” it was very apparent that my Auntie was a very strong woman of faith. She was dedicated to sharing her faith not only verbally but practically in so many ways. I cannot remember many conversations with my Auntie where some aspect of ‘faith’ didn’t come up. She truly not only talked the talk but also walked the walk… providing us ‘youngin’s’ with such an amazing example of a strong faith walk. She struggled for many years with health issues and yet it never dampened her Faith… in fact, it only strengthened it. She knew the art of ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’. Jesus, was her pillar of strength. She knew that God had her on this Earth for a reason and she did her best to fulfill her God given destiny.

Her Love – Love came second nature for my Auntie. She just knew how to spread it. Whether it was through her amazing cooking and baking, her crazy generosity or just opening up her arms for some of the best hugs I can recall… Auntie knew how to Love. At the funeral there were so many stories of Auntie spreading love… from taking in foster children, visiting prisoners, down to simply baking a chocolate cake for a woman confined to a wheelchair when she found out it was her favorite dessert… that’s just who she was. For me, I will always remember the care packages she would send our way when I was a kid. Especially the ones that came when I was struggling health wise. When I tried on the clothes… especially the princess dress that she would usually send my way… I felt so specialso pretty… despite the iv bruises, lack of weight and horrible hair that came with the copious amounts of medication… and that to me, spoke volumes of my Aunties’ love for me. She knew I needed to feel like, even just for a moment, a normal little girl who dances around her living room in a pretty poofy dress. I know these packages also spoke volumes of love to my parents… who sacrificed so much… including jobs… in order to stand together by my bedside at the hospital. She always saw the gap and filled it with whatever practical love she could find.

Her Family – Family was incredibly important to my Auntie. Even at her funeral, it was mainly just family and those that were considered ‘like family’. Both Auntie Marilyne and Uncle Len knew what it was to invest in their loved ones. They understood how important it is to spread their wisdom to the next generation. And watching not only their three (amazing) daughters share about their mother but also their grandchildren sharing the comfort of Psalm 23 to the family, it really showed. The love between Auntie and Uncle also spoke volumes about Auntie’s love of Family. She knew the importance of having a strong marriage. A marriage that can make it through the ups and downs and come out stronger than ever. Watching my Uncle kneel to the side of the open casket and take my Auntie’s hand showed me just how full of love their marriage was. He insisted on carrying her casket because he wasn’t going to let anyone else carry her… he just loves her that much, which in turn just shows me how much she loved him as well.

Like I said at the beginning of this post… a funeral can be a beautiful thing… especially when it’s the funeral of a beautiful person such as my Auntie. She was not perfect… none of us are… but she was an amazing example to me. Reflecting on her life has yet again highlighted the importance of mine. Not that I am anyone overly special, but like my Auntie believed, I was given this life by God and health challenges and all it is important how I live it. I very much want the same things to be said of me someday at my funeral. Like my Auntie, I want to be known as a strong woman of faith, who believed in loving unconditionally and putting family first.

I love you Auntie Marilyne. Please give my son one of your amazing hugs for me. Until we meet again… ❤

Thank-you for reflecting with me and for hearing my right-sided heart on the matter. ❤

Recognizing the Face in the Mirror…

I’d like to say that I’m not a particularly vain person. I’ve never been obsessed with my appearance. However, like most women, it’s nice to look at the person in the mirror and feel good… to feel attractive. If I’m being honest, this is definitely a day to day struggle right now. It’s particularly bad when I see pictures of myself. Somehow I just don’t recognize myself. Anyone who is on heavy duty medications or has a disease they are contending with, understands the havoc it can ensue on your ‘outward’ appearance. Because of this fact, I feel no need to go into details about every little aspect of what I do not like about my body except for one… it is what I ‘not-so-affectionately’ call… ‘Moon-Face’.

When I look into the mirror right now I see a face that resembles the shape of a basketball and I feel as though I have gained 30 or so pounds… even though I remain the weight (for the most part) that I was before my pregnancies. It’s as though I have stepped  into some weird simulation machine that shows me what I would look like if I just sat on my tush and ate ice cream and cookies all day. Of course, I think that is what is bothering me the most. The fact that I am NOT sitting around and eating cookies and ice cream all day. This ‘Moon-Face’ is not a result of a lack of will power. This is a result of a medication. A medication that on one hand I am extremely thankful for… it allows me the luxury of less pain when I get out of bed in the morning, picking up my daughter and giving her that airplane ride that she so frequently asks for, going for walks, being able to still enjoy the outdoors and riding my electric bike… something that makes me feel a bit like my former lupus self. So naturally the latter definitely outweighs the former, but the frustration of having to choose between the two can be emotionally overwhelming at times. The choice to move and ultimately be in less pain or the choice to like my appearance, are not always as easy as one would originally think because it all becomes a matter of identity. What you see in the mirror is still your initial feelings about yourself. And it certainly doesn’t help that our culture is slightly obsessed with our appearance. We are constantly told and inundated with the pressure to look and be a certain way. So the key I believe is to be able to look past all that… to see not the face but what is beyond the face.

So here is where I talk about my process of trying to overcome. We all have struggles, and this is one I face… but it is so important to not stop at the struggle. That’s when it gets out of control and depression tries to rear it’s ugly head. I have to have a process. A way to deal. I have to take the control back into my hands. The side effects of the medications I am on may not be my choice but it is my choice to take them and to be thankful that there is such a drug because ultimately it gives me a quality of life that I would not have without it. As for getting past the appearance factor. That is a mental challenge but with God’s help I can do it.

There is a verse that I am so grateful to be able to reflect on… 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” I am so thankful for my faith. It keeps me grounded to know that Jesus loves me no matter what and he is always with me. I can go to Him with these decisions and medication choices and I know He provides me with the wisdom I need to make the right choice. I also know He is teaching me to look past what I see with my eyes when I look in that mirror… to see instead the heart and the smile that He’s given me. To know that it doesn’t matter how ‘poofy’ my face is, my smile remains that same and with His help I can have an inner joy that far surpasses the ‘poofy-ness’ and makes me far more attractive to others. Let’s face it… no matter what society dictates… who would you rather be around? An attractive girl who is conceited, moody and mean or an unattractive girl who is kind and full of joy? (PS. Please know that I am not saying that you cannot be attractive and kind, I am just making a general point ;-P) I think most would pick kindness and joy over outward appearance. 

It is good to remind myself that at my funeral someday, people are not going to be remembering how ‘poofy or not poofy’ my face was, but they are going to remember whether I was a loving and kind person. Whether I was able to smile and laugh through the good and the hard times. These are the things that really matter. These are the things that I should be focusing on when I gaze in the mirror and see those pictures of myself. Not the face, but the smile and the good times that I am having in those pictures. The memories that I am able to create with the help of these medications…

Hike

Someday I hope to see my cheekbones again, but until then, I know that there is so much more to life than cheekbones.

Thank-you again for hearing my ‘right-sided’ heart on the matter…

Melissa ❤

 

My Online Tools Of Encouragement…

My last blog post was about ‘choosing to be positive’ even when the choice is hard… so today I thought I would share a glimpse at the different online tools I use to help me stay positive…

  1. Instagram. Those of you who follow me on Facebook probably think I have an Instagram addiction… and you would be correct. 😉 But I promise my heart has the right motive. I am certainly not doing it to prove what a great perfect life covered in ‘filters’ I have… I do it mainly to help remind myself how much I have in this world to be thankful for. When I take a picture, crop it carefully, choose the filter, position it and of course try to think of the perfect caption… I am constantly smiling as I remember the moment the picture was taken. I have learned that sometimes it’s the simplest moments that are the ones that deserve the most gratitude. It is also part of my creative output and how I choose to document my ever growing Izzy. Some scrapbook… I Instagram. 😉 (I guess I should also confess that deep down I have always dreamed of being a professional photographer… so Instagram is where I get to pretend that dream came true.) 🙂
  2. One To Live By. On my Facebook feed I often try to share some sort of motivational post, add my own little touch and then label it… One To Live By. I do this, in part to motivate myself but mainly to try to be a source of encouragement to others. I have also learned that one of the best ways to help yourself stay encouraged and positive is to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others. To build someone else up is the best way to end up feeling encouraged ourselves. I find the more I am thinking of others the less I am thinking about what I am going through and ultimately have no time for a ‘pity party’. 😉 Of course… my One To Live By’s are pretty simplistic but I am a firm believer that it really doesn’t take much to encourage someone.
  3. This Blog. Ultimately this is also why I started this Blog. It is therapeutic for me but most of all my heart wants to encourage. I know sometimes my words can be a bit heavy and full of real life… but I want that real life to be taken, used and ultimately be an encouragement to someone out there…

Like I expressed before… one of the best ways for me to stay positive is to actually stay as far away from me as possible. Of course I mean that in the best and nicest sense. Life happens and we must deal with it and process it. However ‘processing’ can soon become ‘dwelling’ and dwelling can turn into a ‘pit of discouragement’ pretty quickly. But if I start to remember the beautiful moments I am blessed with and focus my attention on building others up, I soon find myself smiling and laughing and enjoying this precious life that I have been blessed with.

Until next time…

Melissa ❤

This slideshow requires JavaScript.