Life Update?! 2020

Hey guys! I realized a few weeks ago that I haven’t made a blog post since 2019?! Which, as we all are very aware, 2020 has been an emotional rollercoaster and just one thing after another.

February 1st, exactly a week before my 21st birthday, and during a stressful time in the semester, my great grandmother passed away. She had been unresponsive for a week prior to passing and hadn’t spoken in days when, 3 days before she went to be with Jesus, I walked in her room to hold her hand and tell her that I love her and she opened her eyes just a little bit and said “I love you too, Hannah.” As far as I know, I’m the last person she spoke a whole sentence to and that was a beautiful thing. I think she knew that I needed to hear her say it one last time, and honestly I would give anything to hear it again right now.

I haven’t really had time to grieve, even now and we’re in July already. She was so proud of me and I know she’d be proud of me right now. Anyway, Covid-19 came soon after and school was shut down which created the most difficult semester I’ve experienced yet. Then the semester ended, and I started online classes for the summer. Last week, I lost my grandpa on my mom’s side and while I didn’t know him a lot of my life, we became close during the last several years and I miss him a lot. I’ve lost 2 very important people in the last five months and that’s hard.

Then I had the unfortunate luck of stumbling across an email in our work email (that I have access to, I was NOT snooping!) and found out that my coworkers and I may lose our jobs in August (something I’m not even supposed to know, so many of you are hearing this for the first time too). So I just put an application in for a PCT position at the hospital near me… so wish me luck on that!

With the news of my job, I decided to try to make a little extra income on the side, crafting! I started an Etsy shop, where I sell t-shirts (and soon I’ll be selling cups, decals, and stickers as well so stay tuned)! The link below will open a new window and take you to my Etsy page so feel free to go check it out and purchase something fun! Every purchase goes directly towards my textbooks and tuition. I do custom stuff as well if you reach out to me personally! It’s fun trying to turn my love of vinyl goodies into a little side hustle.

backporchvinylco.etsy.com

So we are only in July and life has been crazy. I’m nervous to see what the rest of the year has in store but I couldn’t be more excited about it at the same time. And yes, I do plan on posting more often on here again. Thank you to everyone who supports me and is sharing my posts and purchasing my stuff. Even a share really does a lot of good and gets the word out, and it means the world to me. I am truly a blessed woman and God is still good, y’all. Don’t forget to look for the good in the world because if you’re not looking, you won’t see it… and I promise there is still more light than darkness.

Enjoy this picture of me enjoying my second legal margarita, lol! 😉

August 14

Last summer, my family’s world was flipped upside down. I’m going to give you a little bit of a backstory before I really get into it. I was in shambles, my emotional stability was shaken because I had just went through a very bad breakup. My mom had been taking care of my great grandmama with Alzheimers for over a year. My sister was starting a new job. My dad had been craving ice and losing his strength.

Daddy had been sick for a few months. He was getting tired easily, craving ice like you wouldn’t believe, and losing his strength. He couldn’t even work out in the yard for more than a few minutes at a time. He’s stubborn as a bull and didn’t want to go to the doctor but he had been having some digestive and bathroom problems and we were all a little bit worried about him. Doctors had been telling him for a few years that he had hemorrhoids, but we were certain it was something else.

A little over a week before we were supposed to go to Pigeon Forge for the weekend, Daddy went to the doctor to see a physician assistant that he hadn’t seen before. The PA was concerned when he realized that my dad had been craving ice as that is a sure sign of anemia. He scheduled a colonoscopy for August 14th.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 is the day that would change our lives forever. They found two masses. One was a polyp that was creating a blockage in his bowel, that bad boy was causing his bathroom problems. That polyp was the main reason he had gone to the doctor in the first place. Above that polyp, in his colon, was another mass. The doctors had their suspicions about that one. It was darker than a harmless mass would have been. Over the next couple of days, it was confirmed. Daddy had colon cancer.

We had a trip to the mountains planned for that same weekend and we went. We ate good food. We enjoyed each other’s company. We drove around and looked at God’s handiwork in the Great Smoky Mountains. We laughed, we cried, we sang. Mama and Daddy scheduled appointments over the phone. Friends, family, strangers reached out to us to tell us we were in their prayers and that everything would be okay. More than anything, we prayed. We prayed harder that weekend than any of us probably ever had because when your dad has cancer, all you can think to do is pray.

The next couple of days and weeks were a freaking whirlwind. Everything happened so fast. Surgery to remove the cancer, along with 14 inches of his colon, was scheduled for August 31st. We got to the hospital around 4 in the morning, because my PawPaw wanted to meet us there before the surgery so we could pray together. Surgery lasted a few hours, it went well, and he stayed in the hospital until September 4th. We found out that his cancer was stage 3A. A week after that, he was back at work.

October 8th was his first day of chemotherapy. He would have to get 12 rounds of chemo over six months. Every other week he spent Monday at the cancer center, sitting in this room (that he described as the most humbling room you could walk into) with other people sitting around the room getting chemo.

Over the course of the next six months, he made friends in this room with some incredibly strong people. Chemo is poison, people. It destroys your cancerous cells but unfortunately, chemo (like cancer) doesn’t discriminate and it destroys your good cells as well. It attacks the hair cells, mouth cells, the feet and hand cells, among others obviously. Daddy spent the next months struggling to figure out what he could eat and drink because food tasted wrong and drinks were thick, not to mention the cold felt like needles piercing into his lips and tongue. His feet hurt and he could hardly feel anything in his hands. The tips of his fingertips were numb. That man worked the whole time though. He may have called out sick three times… maybe.

Monday, March 11th was his last chemo. He actually still has neuropathy in his hands and feet. It’s manageable but dang, that sucks. April 10th, he had CT scans and on April 12th, we heard the best words we’d heard in months.

No Evidence of Disease. NED. Cancer free. It was as if the biggest weight had been lifted off our shoulders, because even though it was him going through it, we all went through it too. We lived with him, we watched him sick and in pain, we changed dinners up to accommodate. My mother was amazing during the time period. We had people praying for us in different states. The most amazing support system came out of this.

He is healed and our faith already told us that, but the scans confirmed it. I never imagined I would come home and have to hear my daddy tell us that he had cancer, but I knew from the moment it happened that God would bring us through and that he would be healed. The amazing thing is that through this journey, there were more good times than bad ones. It was scary and devestating, but it brought our family together and it created a deep-rooted faith in God that we all thought we had before but by the time it was over, we knew.

Listen. I believe God told my father to go to the doctor. I believe God told that PA that something was terribly wrong. And I believe God placed that polyp there so the cancer could be found, because let me tell you something. We later learned that had Daddy not gone to the doctor, had the cancer not been found when it was, had he waited just six more months… they would have given him two years. Just let that sink in for a moment.

In the Bible, the book of Job tells a story of a man who was tested. He didn’t deserve what he went through, but Job said that even if God did “slay” him, he would still trust Him. Job loved God more than all else in the world and he still faced challenges. Sometimes good people go through bad things.

Job 13:15 says “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.”

When terrible news is delivered, you can choose to listen to the devil and you can get sad and you can give up. Or you can stand up and look the devil in the face and tell him to get lost because God is right beside you. God is holding your hand and He will prevail. I’m posting this because a year ago, our lives changed. This is my dad’s story but it’s also mine. And my mom’s. And my sister’s. This is our testimony and it needs to be told and heard. Life can change in the blink of an eye and you never know what tomorrow holds, so love hard. Love your enemies, love your friends. Forgive the people who never apologized to you and be thankful for the ones praying for you. God is good, even in dark moments.

God Is Preparing Me

I feel stuck. Like I’m just waiting for the next thing. It’s a still, quiet season of my life and if you know me, you know I need to be busy. When things slow down and I have too much to think, I get anxious.

Less than a month ago, I was taking 15 credit hours for college. I was working 40+ hours. I was getting up before the sun and the birds to work out. I left my house before the sun came up and I didn’t get back home until after the sun went down. Right now, I’m taking 3 credit hours for school; which I don’t want to downplay because Statistics online is no easy feat by any means. I’m still working 40+ hours but who isn’t?

So in my head, I’m not doing as much as I was and I’ve got much more spare time, especially on weekends because I’m not spending my entire day on Sundays studying. And man this is weird for me! I’m not used to having head space for anything except school and work (which is one reason I started this blog). Staying busy is a survival tactic for me, it keeps my mind occupied and doesn’t allow space for too much stress. 

But I’m not in a busy season. It’s very quiet. So I am growing. I am learning. I am developing relationships and friendships. I literally saw two of my best friends last week and I’m getting coffee with another tomorrow morning. I am appreciating the life that I’ve been given, and the disasters I’ve been through. I’m thanking God for the bullets I’ve dodged and the second chances He gives us all every single day, even when we may not deserve it. 

God is preparing me for the next chapter. It will be chaotic, and beautiful, and exciting. It will be scary, and busy, and I will be preparing myself to save lives. To comfort strangers and learn as much as I can about the world and the people that dwell in it. I will enjoy the quiet before the storm… because I know the next few years of my life will be a beautiful downpour. But hey, a flower can’t bloom without a little rain, right?

I am going to do amazing things so in this still season, I am going to listen to what God is telling me and learn to love myself so that I can love those around me with as much passion as possible. I am going to work on my own health so that I can be a good advocate for the health of those around me. I am going to crack open my Bible and find the answers to my questions.

Enjoy the stillness. Use the silence as a chance to hear that still, small voice speaking to you. Crack open your Bible. Cut up some cucumbers and drink a cold glass of ice water (or drink that double caramel frappucino with that extra espresso shot, honey!) Work on yourself for once because now is the time.