Category Archives: Authentic Living

These posts talk about the reality of the everyday ups and downs that everyone experiences in life, even when you’re trying to follow His direction for your life.

R.I.P. Mom

Sadly, my Mom died exactly 1 week after my last post “Her Smile Said It All”. As tragic as it is to lose your Mom, I feel like we couldn’t have asked for it to go any smoother than it did. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 and was given 6 months to 2 years to live. That was 11 years ago!

She decided early on not to fight the disease with chemotherapy and I can’t help but wonder if that was a blessing in disguise. Either way, the cancer itself didn’t seem to impact her life at all. Then about 3 months ago, she lost control of her right side, almost as if you would if you had a stroke. Within 2 weeks of noticing that initial decline, the doctor told her she could no longer live alone and he sent her home to die. Apparently the cancer had metastasized and spread to her brain and bones.

My brothers and I stayed with her around the clock for the next 5 weeks until she died. It’s amazing to me how much of a decline there was every day. I was the “weekend girl” and was responsible for caring for her each weekend. It was unbelievable how much of a change I saw week to week. I could have never foreseen the night that I got her all dressed up to attend her grandson’s wedding reception, and we posed for the selfies in my last blog post, that when I returned the following weekend, my Mom would no longer be able to communicate or interact with me. I don’t think anything prepares you for that. By the following weekend, she died….peacefully, surrounded by all of her children.

Saying Goodbye

My brothers and I at her funeral.

The blessings in all of this are more than I can count, but here are just a few: 1) She didn’t suffer in pain for very long. It could have went on and on for years, but it didn’t. 2) She got to die at home like she wanted, surrounded by the people she loved. 3.) She could have ended up having to go to hospice which would have cost a fortune! 4) She got to spend the last 5 weeks of her life surrounded constantly by her loved-ones. 5) Exactly 2 weeks before she died, she was all smiles and so excited to go to her grandson’s wedding reception. To me, the fact that she was laughing and having fun with the people she loved 2 weeks before she died, was a gigantic blessing in itself!

Her Smile Said it All

I find myself today at an all too familiar place as of late, the bedside of my mother who has been sent home to die. We have had a very unusual relationship almost my entire life. Somehow, somewhere, early on in my life, I took over the parenting role. Not only parenting her, but also trying to parent my siblings as best I could.

Mom

Her health has been declining rapidly each day. Today as I watch her lying there confused, in pain and scared, my heart breaks for her. My biggest concern since she was diagnosed with cancer  has been that I wanted to be sure that she knew God in the close, personal way that I know Him before she died. Unfortunately, from everything I can tell, and every discussion we’ve had, I’ve gotten the impression that she still doesn’t. She can no longer carry on conversations. So I quietly pray at her bedside for her.

The one sign of hope that I do have is that she was raised Catholic and I know that it has been very, very important to her that a priest visit with her so she can give her last confession. Because she has not been super active in church, we’ve had a hard time getting a priest to make that visit.

Moments after I began writing this post, there was a knock on the door. A priest that my brother had contacted was here to pray over her, take her final confession and do something Catholics call anointing the sick. Though my Mom was heavily medicated, it was clear that she understood what was going on. I felt such peace and comfort hearing the words the priest prayed over her – promising that God would comfort her, give her peace and that all of her sins have been forgiven.

As the priest left, my Mom thanked him wholeheartedly with a smile, nothing more. That smile was the biggest smile I had seen in days from her. And for that, I thank God. He reminds me there is always hope.

Mom

I Saved a Fortune by Just Saying No!

Can you believe that I started smoking cigarettes when I was 11 years old?! I can’t even believe that. Thankfully, I quit smoking in 1998. It definitely wasn’t an easy thing to do. In fact, I even took an anti-depressant medication called Wellbutrin for a couple of weeks because it was supposed to help you quit. I am confident today that I would have never been able to quit on my own without that medication. It worked really well and made getting through the first couple of weeks much easier.

Quit smoking

When I started smoking, cigarettes were only 50 cents a pack. By the time I quit smoking, they were almost $2.00 a pack! In addition to the health risks, the cost of them was a big reason I wanted to quit smoking. Yesterday I was behind someone in line that was purchasing a carton of cigarettes. I was shocked and so thankful that I quit when I heard that he would be paying $49.00 for the carton!

This got me wondering how much money I had saved by quitting. So I came home and did the math. Can you believe that I have saved over $42,000 since I stopped smoking 16 years ago? That is a gigantic chunk of money! That’s the equivalent of approximately 3 brand new cars! Plus, I don’t have that nagging cough anymore. If you’re still a smoker, knowing this might be just the motivation you need to quit.

Don’t You See, We’re All Jacked Up?

There is nothing I love more than sitting down and having a real heart to heart conversation. The minute I meet someone, I want to know everything about them. I want to get deep inside their soul. I want to know about their lives, what makes them tick, what makes them who they are. I want to know about their hardships, their victories and how those have impacted who they have become. I love, love, love psychology and I think that’s why I find exploring everyone’s lives to be so fascinating.

Interestingly enough, because of this curious, direct and non-threatening quality of mine, people tell me things they have never told anyone else. I know that they do that because they feel “safe” with me because I am sharing the same type of information about my life with them. I have no secrets and often share stories of my challenges and how they have made me into who I am today to encourage and inspire others. Many times I share how those very challenges turned into blessings in disguise.

Blessings in Disguise

Throughout my life I have always gotten the impression that being an “open book” was not a good quality. However, I don’t seem to have the skill set to do life any other way. I’ve never understood why we wouldn’t all be an open book. Why wouldn’t we want to share our burdens, hardships and victories with one another to encourage, support and educate each other? Why wouldn’t we want to just be honest with ourselves and others?

I have found that by being completely open about who I am, why I am who I am – in addition to my own personal challenges and victories – that I have been able to help and encourage others. It has allowed others to feel safe enough to lower their guards and just speak their own truth without hesitation. I sincerely believe that is one of the main purposes of Modern Day Noah – to share my journey in a completely honest and vulnerable way including my own imperfections and insecurities, but with the ever resounding “they’re not going to knock me off course” attitude so that others are encouraged to go after their dreams with that same resolve.

You Make The Choice

Do you realize that there is not one among us that is perfect? Do you realize that we’ve all had our fair share of heartache, pain and hardships? Do you realize that each and every one of us is “jacked-up” as a result of those things? Admit it. I’m jacked up, you’re jacked up. But the reality is that if we are open enough to look closely at the situation, we can find the blessings from the pain we’ve experienced and use it for good.

As I mentioned in another post, I was sexually abused several times by several different men. Would I like to have that horrible, horrible experience again? Heck no! Did I see it as a blessing when it happened? Heck no! But when I look closely at it, I’m able to be thankful (well if I’m being 100% honest, I’m only a little thankful) that it happened because it has helped to shape me into the person I am today. Because of those experiences, I truly understand pain. It has given me a compassionate heart that wants to help and encourage the hurting. I understand how it feels to have your own feelings and needs ignored – trampled on. I understand the impact that pain is having on them. I understand what they need to feel built back up again. I am able to use my own painful experiences to help others change the direction their life is heading in a positive way. For that, I am thankful.

Struggles Will Come

While talking to someone recently, she shared that she often struggles with why God lets bad things happen. She admitted that she gets very angry with Him when they do. You know, I have heard this very same sentiment from a lot of people and I’m always surprised. They blame God whenever anything goes wrong. Now I don’t claim to be better than them, or to be judging their perception, but I do struggle with that thought pattern.

Granted I’m a newer Christian and not a Bible scholar so I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but most everything I’ve been taught or read in the Bible are stories of people’s struggles. So I’m not sure why people don’t think struggles will come their way. The only thing that I do know about struggles is that He will be there with you through them. You can’t always see Him or feel Him, but in the end you realize that He was there with you all along and that through that struggle you’re a stronger person. Or you may have even grown closer to Him during that struggle and you’re thankful for that now.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like the challenges or struggles that come my way either. They are difficult, trying and seem almost never ending. But because of my struggles, I am more compassionate and a much stronger, determined and driven person than I would have ever been without them. I think although we all feel like we have had more struggles than others and that it’s not fair, the reality is that we have all been through our own fair share of struggles. They look different for each of us, but every struggle is equally difficult.

Struggles make us stronger

Those struggles are there to grow us, To teach us something about ourselves. Whenever bad things have happened in my life, my natural inclination has always been to ask God “how do you want me to use this?” It never once occurred to me to ask him why this was happening to me. Long story short, without all of the gory details – I was sexually abused by several different men at different times growing up. Each time was a horrible, horrible experience. It caused me to carry so much shame. It shattered my confidence and self-esteem. It took a big toll mentally and left me numb and in a state of stressed confusion for many, many years.

It’s funny though, I never once thought to ask Him why He let that happen to me. Each time I simply asked him how He wanted me to use the experience and what it was that He wanted to teach me through it. I eventually felt that he wanted me to understand people’s pain so that I could minister to them. At one point I thought I was supposed to be a counselor. I now minister to my clients who are in pain because of their disorganized, out of control lives. Pain is pain, no matter what the cause is, so through my own personal struggles I am better able to understand how they are feeling and what they need to get over that pain.