Dealing With The Hard Stuff

It’s December 31, 2016.  Yes, I know it’s been a while since my last post on March 15, 2016. But in my defense, I’ve had a lot going on.  And writing was the last thing on my mind, even though it used to be the first thing I did whenever I was going through something. But things change; believe me, I know. I’ve experienced a lot in 2016 (good and bad) and more than anything, God has shown me that through it all, HE has always protected me. If you guys only knew all that I’ve had to endure, not just in 2016, but also in the last five years. It’s unbelievable that I haven’t lost my mind. And sometimes if felt like I had. But God.  

Lung Force 2016

Enjoying Washington, D.C., 2016

What I can tell you is that my tolerance for negativity is zero. My compassion level is at an all-time high and my need to help others consumes me on a regular basis. I have more patience, more empathy and more room to love.

The last time I wrote, I was about to head to Washington, D.C., as the Alabama state representative for the American Lung Association’s Lung Force Advocacy Day.  It was a fantastic experience and I am so very grateful to have been able to participate.

I had only been on my new job for about two weeks at this point, so I am SO thankful that my bosses allowed me to attend this event, even though I didn’t have ANY vacation days.

Since losing mom in 2012, my life has been a hodgepodge of jobs, life experiences and faith-testing exercises. When I was a kid sitting in church, I used to wonder why the adults would cry and get emotional and “thank God” for all that they’ve been through. Well, at the young age of 47, I get it. Lord knows I’ve been through some stuff and through it all, I have maintained my sanity, I think. But I am certainly a different person. I am the same, but different. Hard to explain. But I am thanking God for all of it and I am more than grateful for my family and my friends and even strangers. I am thankful that I have been able to find a place to worship that meets the needs that I have now, not what I needed then. And I am thankful that old friends have become new friends again.

Celebrating my birthday with Derita and Bryant

My heart is full as I write this because I am wondering what God has in store for me in 2017.  On New Year’s Eve 2015, I wrote about “doing something” and basically, I guess I did do something, I changed my direction.  Last year,  all I asked for was a job that would make me happy and would allow me to get my life back in order. God answered that prayer and it took a while, but not without taking me through some stuff to get there.

Let me just say this, the hard stuff is necessary. It hurts, but it’s necessary. It’s necessary so you can appreciate the good stuff. The hard stuff is needed so you can recognize the good stuff when you see it. The good stuff is better after you’ve endured the hard stuff. Of course I don’t pray for hard things to come my way, but when hard things do appear, I know that the good stuff is just around the corner.

Don’t let the hard stuff get in your way. If God removes something from your life, just know that it’s to make room for what He’s about to give you. Trust me on that one.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in 2017.

Peace, love and blessings!

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I’m Doing Something I NEVER Thought I’d Do

In a few hours I leave for Washington, D.C.  I’ve been to D.C. numerous times for various reasons, but this time it’s not so random.  I, along with other lung cancer advocates and patients from every state, will be in D.C. for the American Lung Association’s LUNGFORCE Advocacy Day. Wednesday, March 16, the other state reps and I will take to The Hill to meet with members of Congress to ask that they considering increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health and to help expand efforts in lung cancer research and initiatives. lungforce logo

I can’t bring my mom back, but I can at least work to ensure that others don’t have to endure what our family endured. A couple of years ago I started volunteering with the local American Lung Association (ALA) in Birmingham and if it wasn’t for my friend Ashley Lylerly, who works for the ALA, I wouldn’t be going to D.C.  She was the one who submitted my name to serve as the state rep for Alabama.  I never thought that I would be doing something as serious as this…speaking to legislators about my mom.  I get to tell them about Lillie B. McCarter Conway from Independence, Louisiana. How cool is that?

Here’s the deal about lung cancer. Most times when lung cancer is discovered, it’s in very late stages. You can’t “feel” lung cancer, not in a traditional sense.  But right now there are researchers and scientists working to find ways to detect lung cancer earlier. But they can’t do that without the necessary funding and grant money.  Of course it’s more complicated than that, but the simple version is this: EVERYONE has been affected by cancer, whether it’s lung cancer or one of the other 200+ kinds of cancer that currently exists.   But on March 16, I get to speak to lawmakers about how LUNG CANCER affected my mom and our family.  The fact that she didn’t know she had lung cancer until she was Stage IV is more than just troubling, it’s sad and and unnecessary.  She was a tad better than most who are diagnosed at that stage in that she lived a longer than expected.  We have made many advancements in the lung cancer community since mom’s diagnosis in 2008 and her death in 2012.  Because of those advances in research, many lung cancer patients are living their lives and moving forward now when a few years ago that may not have been possible.   More money for research would also assist in determining why more young, non-smokers are getting lung cancer.  So many unanswered questions surround lung cancer as it relates to genetics, environment and a host of other issues.  We can only find the answers through research.  So, yeah, we need more money.

Mom - March '12

At mom’s last bday celebration, March 2012

I’m asking all of you for prayers as I travel to D.C. and as I prepare to speak to lawmakers one-on-one, Wednesday, March 16.  The best part about all of this?  Tuesday, March 15, mom would have been 72 years old.  A coincidence? I think not.  Somehow I think mom is sending me a message and letting me know that all is well.  And I know she’ll be with me.