You know that moment when something you have been waiting for finally happens. You’ve imagined how you would feel. You’ve pictured elation, tears of joy, shouts of glee. Then it happens and you’re sitting there waiting for the surge of emotions to overtake you. But instead of the picture you have in your head, something different happens. You don’t react like you thought you would. Hmmmm, what does this mean? Don’t get me wrong I’m thrilled it finally happened, but the balloons and confetti didn’t fall from the sky.
Ok, so I know, you are wondering what happened that I’m rambling on about. Well, my husband, who works in the oil industry, has been struggling to find work in his field. He has done everything he could to provide for our family, and by the grace of God we have survived. Kind family and friends have thrown work our way, helped with making sure our kids have what they need, and done countless other kindnesses to help us. God has so beautifully used people in our lives to provide us our daily manna. And, we have grown. Each one of us is better for this struggle. My kids have come together and worked for what they want. They have shared with each other. It has been wonderful, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t ready for the season of struggle to pass.
Well, the waiting is over. My husband got that phone call we’ve been waiting on. He’s headed back to work in his field, doing what he loves next month. I am beyond happy and grateful even though I didn’t break out into song and dance when I got the news. No instead of an outward show of emotion, what happened to me was an inner assurance that I knew God had me the whole time. See, I reached a point in this journey where I knew God was going to provide for the day and when the time was right our lives would return to normal. And that to me is so much better than what I pictured in my head, because I reached a point of contentment, I reached a point of assurance, I reached a point of trust. And, I’m so grateful for my struggle for it taught me I am strong.
This weekend I had the honor of going to the funeral of retired Army First Sargent Thomas Ross. As I walked up to the pavilion at the Veterans Cemetery in Houston, I passed a line of Veterans holding flags. Near the entrance were the soldiers of the Honor Guard standing tall and holding their guns that would later blast out the 21 gun salute. Sadness overcame me with the reality that Thomas would never come roaring into our drive way on his Harley to give Gavin a ride. I was saddened to think that my husband was now without one of his best friends. However, that day brought me a moment of pure clarity for my life. The noise of my life gets overwhelming, but what is important is the legacy I leave behind. Thomas’ legacy has many lessons that have left an impression on me.
Thomas’ life was one of service and generosity. He was someone who gave until it hurt. He came into people’s lives and through his goodness and love, changed them for the better. Now, you may think I am painting the picture of an upstanding Christian man who is soft spoken, kind, and giving. Thomas was far from that idealistic picture we have in today’s society. He was gruff, he wore jeans and a combat veteran leather vest; not a pressed dress shirt and khakis. He ate too much, talked too loudly, definitely cussed too much and enjoyed a drink occasionally. But, here’s the key. .. Here’s what makes Thomas the perfect example of a Christian man. He loved…. He gave without a thought of what it might cost him…. He didn’t make you feel judged, he made you feel like you mattered. That is the type of legacy I want to leave behind… The legacy of being a true life-long hero.
Who am I? What is my story? What am I about? What do I stand for? These questions define us. I could go back to my childhood and talk about growing up in a small West Texas town. I could talk about being the super nerd in high school who married her high school sweetheart. I could go on and on about my 20’s which I spent pregnant and breastfeeding. (Knowing me I will talk about all of these at some point) But, while all of these tell my story, they cannot accurately portray how I got to where I am today. That is a story of an amazing woman whose brief stay in my life changed my destiny.
In 2009-2010 a friend of mine who I had only known for less than a year was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. God brought us together and I am a better woman because of it. Over the next 18 months, I got down in the trenches and tried to be there for her as she fought with everything she had to stay alive.
Now, to truly understand my story, you need to get a mental picture of me. I was a 33 year old mother of 4 who was very, very overweight. I volunteered at church and took care of my kids. I felt like it was my destiny to just be a fat mom. To be honest, I was scared to live life. I was scared to get out there and fail. But, crawling down in the trenches and watching someone fight for something you are taking for granted, changes you.
Every chemo appointment, every surgery, every time there was bad news, held a lesson for me. As her journey sadly was coming to an end, she was giving me a gift. She was teaching me to live life for all it is worth. To fight past the doubts, fears, depression, disappointments, and challenges because life is worth it. Life is worth fighting for. And not just to wake up, get through the day and be miserable. To wake up and seize the day, experience everything it’s got to offer because somewhere out there someone is fighting to have what you are taking for granted.
So, what did I learn? How did I change Who did I become? Well, I lost 90 lbs. I have done things I never imagined I would do. I got a black belt. I became a personal trainer. I started traveling. My husband and I go scuba diving. I started living. Like that I woke up one day a changed woman.
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