As a girl, I remember…
chocolate gravy spooned over buttermilk biscuits,
sitting in the pew every time the church doors opened,
ferocious squabbles with two older sisters,
a dog named Sandy who followed me to school,
picking the garden in the sweltering heat,
fried fish and hush-puppies,
laying in the lush grass dreaming of the future,
Sunday dinners and church socials
…it was the southern way of life.
Today, I live in Cookeville, Tennessee
with my beautiful son, Jon Alex.
I am privileged to serve as the
co-founder and president of Rising Above Ministries.
My husband, Jeff, and I started Rising Above in 2005
to help families of children with special needs.
I took up the role of president after Jeff passed away in 2017.
Life without Jeff is hard, but I love and appreciate the
family and friends who surround me,
my southern roots,
and the opportunities I have to share the hope
I have found as I learn to
redefine this life.
Life is a story. It’s a tale within a tale. There are plot twists, cliffhangers, and surprise endings. Things happen along the way that catch us off guard, shake us, disorient us, maybe even break our hearts. Life can give us unimaginable joy and take us down twists and turns that we could never anticipate.
When I married the man of my dreams in 1991, I never imagined our story would unfold the way it did. I never dreamed I would have a traumatic miscarriage followed a year later by the birth to a son with profound special needs. I never considered the possibility that my child would require one-on-one care every day of his life just to survive. I never thought my husband would get sick in the midst of our story and require full-time care. I couldn’t imagine that he would die so young and that I would be left a single parent.
In my life, I have known my fair share of disappointment and sorrow. I have also discovered some incredible tools that help transform pain into purpose. I want to share these tools with you, but first, we must learn how to honor and address the pain of loss itself. As a culture, we have forgotten how to do this. We expect people to suck it up and move on after loss. That is a sure-fire way to kill your heart. Loss - any kind of meaningful loss, deserves to be honored.
Before you can RE-define something, you must first define it or know its borders. You must be truthful with yourself about what your losses mean to you. You must honor your loss because to honor loss is to honor Love.
“I have known unexpected grief and great heartache, maybe you have too, but here is what I have learned: the story I choose to believe about my life, the way I interpret what is happening to me and the narrative I weave about my circumstances...that is what matters.”
I don't mean to suggest that a little positive self-talk will fix you right up, I mean that what I believe in my bones about who I am and what is happening to me sets the stage for how well I can cope. I have found that the story I write about my life -- the way I redefine my circumstances, what I choose to believe about what is happening to me, that is what makes all the difference. I have the power to write my story in a way that heals me and brings me peace. I can redefine this life.