Life lessons from an ordinary girl with a lot to say about the life God's given her before and AFTER triple negative breast cancer. I'm pretty much a simple book worm, a wallflower and a nerdy girl who grew up to marry the love of her life, fought the beast and by God's grace raised two amazing young men.
In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!
"Allow beauty to shatter you regularly. The loveliest people are the ones who have been burnt and broken and torn at the seams, yet still send out their open hearts into the world to mend with love again, and again, and again. You must allow yourself to feel your life while you're in it." ~ Victoria Erickson
Our family just spent eight wonderful days inside the World known as Disney. I know what could we possibly do for eight days and why? Well, for us it's a feeling I can only describe as coming home. We're just Disney people. We were there for many different reasons but the biggest was to celebrate our youngest finishing high school. It's hard for me to believe Micah is 18, done with high school and heading out into the great big world in pursuit of his very own hopes and dreams. I mean I just closed my eyes for a moment, and suddenly both my little boys were men standing in front of me. It's bittersweet is what it is. With all the excitement lately I've definitely shed a few tears knowing my baby is now on his way to the life he's always dreamt about. I have no doubt nor do I fear where life will take him. I know the love and faith we've raised him in and I trust in the One who gave him to us first. Micah, just like Joshua, will always be a child of God, empowered with faith, boldness, courage, and ready to step out into his journey with a destiny hand - craved out for him and him alone. I was fighting back tears as I snapped the picture above. The boys were messing around, being silly and getting ready to take a posed photo for me. It's a tradition going back at least 8 years, inside the studios, in front of the tow truck. With each picture, every year I can see my children growing right in front of my eyes from little boys into men. This moment, like the one captured in the picture above is one of those moments...a moment I can say to my boys...I see you. I see the men you have become, the strength you have inside you...I see you just as you are...I see your heart, I see your soul.
Now you have to understand our connection with Disney. It's not just a place to vacation, to ride rides or grab a meal and a souvenir. Disney is part of us, in our fabric, where celebrations take place and milestones are made. Think of it as the keeper, a living album filled with all of our fondest memories if you will. I admit without shame that Disney World for our family is a place of wonder, imagination, celebration, letting go of our fears, embracing our dreams and re-enforcing our bonds. It's not just a vacation for us, it's our happy place. As Micah so beautifully put it a few years back, "Disney World is where we bond, where our bond as brothers is strengthened." And this year was no different. As we wandered through the new world of Avatar, my breathe was taken away. I can say we all felt as if we were transported to another world. The beauty and majesty of Pandora was astounding. Walking through it's magical landscape filled with waterfalls, vines, interactive plants and flowers was a moment I can't really explain with words. Then as I walked beneath the floating Hallelujah Mountains above me I was moved to tears. But it was when I entered Flight of Passage I found myself experiencing a moment of pure emotion. I was truly struck by how far our family has come, and how we have landed on our feet after so much struggle. As I took flight on a banshee one word stuck out, "Sivako!" It means "Rise to the challenge" in Na'vi, the language of Pandora. For a sci-fi geek like me, that's something that sticks with me and hits close to home.
What I know, what I can see when I look into the hearts and the eyes of our children is this: we are fighters. We don't give up. We most certainly stumble, we fall and feel completely broken sometimes but we always stand back up. We have faced my breast cancer, Micah's autism and Joshua's TBI as warriors, fighters embracing the unique challenges each have brought into our lives. Psalm 61:2 says, " From the end of the earth I will cry to You; when my heart faints, lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Yes, we have faced many great battles, the struggles that have tried to tear us apart and yet here we are, here we stand...together. Broken at times certainly, but continuously we've mended again and again. Together we have faced the fear, the hardships and together we have risen to the challenge. Together, we have found the Rock that is higher than ourselves, higher than all our fears. We have sivako, risen to the challenge. We have taken that flight of passage together. If we have learned anything as a family it's this, "Being challenged in life is inevitable but being defeated is optional." Looking at this picture, I see strong, mighty and genuinely happy young men. I see a big brother taking care of the little one, looking out for him, walking beside him through his own right of passage, acknowledging his ability to rise to the challenge and passing the torch, giving Micah his moment just before flight. And that's what it's truly all about isn't it...giving them wings to fly?
Behind us are the memories, and before us the challenges still yet to be met. The truth is some unfair things have happened to us as a family and individually that are down right awful. Not everything we hoped for turned out either, or at the least the way we thought things would anyway. But I know God is good, all the time and "If we'll rise up out of those ashes, put on a new attitude, He will not only bring us out but He will bring us out with twice what we had before." And that's the thing about God, nothing is a surprise to Him. He knows what's ahead, or waiting just around the corner. The thing I believe we have come to understand about life is something Cheryl Strayed says beautifully. " Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start there." The strong at heart and of mind rise to the challenge, no matter how unimaginable the feats are. And that's what my family and I have come to understand, we have the ability to rise above whatever is towering over us. Like the flight of passage, we bond, we rise and we soar... together. God knows every challenge, and He knows we may wander, get lost and fumble a bit too but He always gets us where we are supposed to be in the end. I know God sees us, and through His eyes I see my children. I understand them and they me, through different lenses than the world does, but together we see and we get one another. "I see you" in Na'vi is spiritual. It means "I see the love and your feelings and your soul and you mean everything to me." And so yes this is what Life Lesson #166~ I See You is all about, seeing each other with an unconditional love.
Micah I see you. I understand you. I love you. I am so proud of you.. You've spread your wings and taken your flight of passage beautifully, even if a bit bumpy at first. "I wish you strength to face the challenges with confidence along with wisdom to choose your battles carefully. I wish you adventure on your journey, and may you always stop to help someone along the way. Listen to your heart and take risks carefully. Remember how much you are loved." I know we don't always see eye to eye. I know it doesn't always feel like it, being on the spectrum, but I see you Micah, I see you. I love you, I know you and your soul. I love who you are, completely, fully and you mean everything to me love bug. I see you baby... I see you. And I have no doubt when you are ready you will take flight, and not just fly but soar!