anger · brokenness · death · family · pain · teamwork

Valley of Life…

What happens when you find someone in a valley of life?… 

And not only are they in a valley, they’ve decided to sit down and stay awhile because the climb to the top of the next peak is intimidating… 

Intimidating because of it’s vastness… Because of its newness… Because of the fact that that person is afraid to climb it alone…

That’s where I see my mom right now…

Over the past 2 1/2 years life has shifted and changed drastically…  

First she sped down a mountainside with the death of my father… And now it seems as though the valley she’s been in has “extended stay” stamped on it…

I don’t believe she wants to stay here… but this is where she is in this moment of life…

And it hasn’t been easy living so far away from it all… So moving back to the South, without a clear plan for my own life has truly been an adventure… 

But then, well now I’ve chosen to help climb this mountain with my mother… 
And a lot of the time I feel like I’m carrying her on my back… 
But in reality I believe God is truly moving the entire thing a long… 

For me, following the Holy Spirit has always had its ups and downs… Always… With Him life doesn’t make complete sense, but He always, always leads me to good…

And so, well that’s what I’m hoping for here… That the three of us, my sister included, can walk up this mountainside together… 

And, with the Lord’s help… With His strength, security, love, joy and peace that we can walk up that mountain swiftly…

Because I believe this is a part of life… That this moment we are in… This year is altogether considered a “bad time,” but a bad time He will make good as we climb to the top… 

Because I believe once we get mom to the top of this mountain, well the view is going to be incredible and altogether wonderful…

death · family · goodness of god · grief · power

Mom-Mom…

img121Not knowing yesterday morning what was in store, I ended my journal entry with the statement that He is “always good”… Fitting for someone who used that line as an honest pillar in her life…

Right now… Now is the time I could easily say, “I don’t know what I’ll do without her”… But that’s not true at all…

Because many, if not most, will miss Delores Winder… The prayer warrior… The one who could heal with the power of God… The one who helped change people’s lives… The one with a powerful, powerful story and testament of true, authentic healing… The one with so much wisdom and love…

But, well… I’ll just miss Mom-Mom… The woman who was my grandmother… The woman no one saw but her family and close, close friends… The one who taught me how to bake, write letters to people and always took the time each year to take my sister and I on vacation with our grandfather… “One day all you’ll have left are these memories of us together,” she would constantly say…

I’m going to miss Mom-Mom like crazy… She was one of the only people that drove me absolutely insane at times, but I still loved her like no one else…

We were so much a like… Bossy, controlling, know-it alls… We both needed to have the “right” answer all the time… Haha!…

She would say, I pushed her buttons a lot… Because if she didn’t have the answer, and I knew deep down there was another way or a better way, well we would argue about it… And I would go on a quest to find it… At first this was a struggle… Me wanting more truth than I’d been given, her telling me that was it… Me believing there was more, discovering the more and then giving it to her…

After a while, well she finally just wanted to know what I’d learned… So we could talk about it together…

So to say I will miss the wisdom God gave her, the way she prayed and the things she taught would be untrue… Because Mom-Mom spent her time pouring every ounce of what she had into mine and my sister’s very beings… She knew that one day she would be gone and we would need it all… To teach others… To love others… To help direct people towards the Holy Spirit and His inner healing…

And so I believe that’s what makes this year so significant for me yet again…

Since entering the nursing home in January, I’ve really had no contact with her… And as pieces of my identity, security and confidence have been shaken from me, well the best choice I’ve found is to just follow God’s lead… Even when I can’t see… And though it’s truly been a shaky year, I believe she would be happy to know that her death hasn’t shaken me at all…

Yes, yes I am very, very sad… But I’m not broken or broken-hearted… More than anything, I feel firmer than ever…

And so I guess, well… I just want to tell her thank you… From the bottom of my very heart, thank you for loving me the way no one has ever loved me before… Thank you for believing in me and what God has given me to do in life… Thank you for teaching me how good God actually is… Thank you for the ups and downs in our relationship, they truly shaped me… Thank you for being my best friend…

And more than anything, thank you for showing me that life cannot be lived to it’s fullest without being healthy and whole from the inside out… That our spirit, soul and body have to be in alignment with Him… And that inner healing, well to me is just another way to say, “it’s time to cultivate life”…

anointing · courage · faith · family · follow · healing · listen · miracle

Walking with Healing…

The environment I grew up in was one where healing was a common thing…. Probably from the age of two, I was taught that healing is real… And that it’s meant for our world…

Because of my grandmother’s story, I was encouraged to learn all that I could from her about the power of healing…

And over the years I’ve seen lives transformed externally as well as internally…

Well… Three weeks ago I hurt my foot… Unsure of how it happened, I ran on it for 3 days anyway (I am very hardheaded)… Of course the pain was there… And it increased every time I put pressure on it… But I just kept hoping it would go away… Thinking, “oh this won’t last forever”…

By the third day, wearing heels wasn’t even an option… So I settled for sandals and went to church…

Before church even started I heard God start in on me, “Tonight Amanda. I need you to do this tonight”… And by the tone in His voice, I could already tell it wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do…

As the service went on, I knew what He needed and I argued with Him… Back and forth we went over it all… I finally came to a place in my heart and said, “Ok, God… If this is what you want, then you give me your peace and boldness to do it”…

By the end of the service, I decided, “Well, I guess I’ll do it”… So I got up, walked over to the person and spoke exactly what the Holy Spirit put on my heart for the man…

Like that it was done… No more words were spoken, just an in and out type of job…

On the walk back to the car, Bridge and I discussed how happy we were that I finally did this (God put it on my heart 9 months ago)… So I was just happy it was over…

As I sat down in the car, I stretched out my legs and realized… My foot, the pain… It was gone… I rolled my foot around, searching for pain… But nothing was there…

Just a perfectly healthy foot… That ironically was made well, 41 years to the night my grandmother went searching for an answer for my father… But then found herself miraculously healed…

Of course Bridge and I laughed about it all… Especially the irony…

But really, in truth… Well I realized so much that night…

Most importantly, somewhere in the midst of that hour and a half, I let go of a piece of myself… I set my own goals aside for a moment and just followed through with God’s… My thoughts that are always focused on my agenda were laid to the side long enough for me to actually deliver a message for God…

And, in response, my foot was healthy and whole again… Like nothing ever happened before…

And I guess this moment inspires me… Because it’s caused me to look inside of myself and wonder, “Why is my selfish agenda so important?… Why do I constantly need to fulfill what I want?… And how can I create and live a lifestyle that is about fulfilling what God needs?… Also, how can what God needs become what I need too?”…

family · grief

This Christmas

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/781/13106950/files/2014/12/img_2034.jpgIt’s not even that the holidays are hard… They just aren’t the same… Christmas isn’t the same without you dad…

Dad… You were the one that got everyone excited and in the Christmas spirit… And has odd as it seems… Well we didn’t learn this until your absence…

Because without you mom doesn’t want to decorate… She just doesn’t feel motivated to do Christmas….

You were like a little kid every year… Pressuring everyone to be Christmasy and bright… And making sure the tree was up and all the decorations were ready to go…

And it just doesn’t seem fair that you aren’t here…

And we actually decided not to exchange gifts this year… The effort to buy things was just so unnecessary… I mean we have everything we need… And how do you feel a void this big?… Because we all just want you back…. Here with us…

So this year… Well I guess we’ve started new traditions… We’ve done things differently to keep us merry and our spirits lifted… And we’ve done them together…

I’ll have to admit… Seeing Songs of the Season was sad for me… I realized that the last time I was in the church was for your funeral… And then before that it was for the Easter parade production… The last thing we did together as a family… And then a few of the songs had me so teary eyed and sad…

And then there’s the whole “not exchanging gifts things”… And of course I want to give our family members something… So we’ve put together baskets and such… Making this Christmas the least expensive on Winder record… I guess you would like that…

But don’t worry… We still spent 2 hours in Hobby Lobby… Shopping all of the isles… Mom needed to check out everything and I let her… Hey it’s the only store we were going to…

And then last night we made a gingerbread house… And it was so much fun… We actually did it on the coffee table in the living room…

Yes… I did put newspaper down… No it wasn’t enough… Yes… There was powdered sugar everywhere… And I was just waiting for you to walk in a bitch at us about making a “mess” and being too “loud” while you were sleeping…

And it’s just so much to have you gone… And we’re staying happy and positive… But I still hate to see mom cry… And I have great hope for her… But gosh she misses you so much…

Today was the worst in a way… I was making Christmas gifts… Printing pictures for them… And mom and B were helping me pick some out… But that turned into looking through pictures from the past… Which turned into tears and more sadness…

But we picked mom up and pulled her together enough to go to Walmart so she could get the things to make her famous Spice Tea… And it’s just one more reason you’d be happy that this is the least expensive Christmas in Winder history…

More than anything though dad… I think I’m learning again… Or more like being reinforced with the truth that the holidays aren’t about things at all… They are about family and savoring the time we spend together… Every moment of it….

I don’t even want to think of presents… The thought makes me kind of sick… Because nothing fills the whole that’s missing… Not even the cookie I just ate…

Nothing will bring you back… Because you’re gone forever…. But I can continue to make these memories and cherish them forever…

And I know mom thinks this Christmas sucks because it’s unlike any other… But honestly I feel so rich and so blessed to be able to be home for 16 days and spend time with the ones I love…

Because dad… At the end of the day… That’s what really matters to me the most…

The time we’ve all spent together… Even though it’s without you.. It’s been good and laughter and tears have brought us closer… And I love each person close to me a little more…

And dad… I guess I just want you to know I’m grateful for you… Even though you aren’t here… Well you’re still teaching me lessons on life and showing me how to gain fullness here on earth… And I’m just so thankful…

And I want you to know I love you… I love you so very much… Because death is beautiful in so many ways… So thanks dad….

Oh and don’t worry… I made chocolate chip cookies… Even though you aren’t here… And mom and B ate the best one… Someone had to eat it because… Well you aren’t here to do it…

darkness · death · family · grief · vulnerability

We Just Do Life

IMG_1085

And then there were three….

Three of us remain… and we are supposed to be a family of four… but that’s not how life turned out… and it’s still hard…. and it’s still challenging… and it’s still emotional…

I’ve heard my mom tell a lot of stories… but this weekend is the first time I heard her tell me about the reasons she married dad… what made him stand out among everyone else she had dated and known… why him? why my dad?

And it was a fitting conversation for us to have…. considering the fact that we were at a wedding reception…. it was nice to hear her talk about how obnoxious she thought dad was when she first met him…. how he seemed like such an asshole…

She met him at a wedding… A wedding for her cousin… He didn’t even know the bride and groom…. He was invited by my mom’s cousins who did the know the bride and groom…. Cousins who probably figured Chris Winder needed to experience Natchitoches, Louisiana and some Prud’homme family traditions….

And she thought he was such a pain in the ass…. That was my mom’s first thought and memory of my dad… But they were engaged 3 months later and married 7 months after that…

To think that they met in the summer and were engaged by Thanksgiving is crazy fast to me… My mom didn’t even meet my grandparents until after they were engaged….

Until this weekend I’d never looked at my mom’s story from these perspectives…. I never really fully encompassed their love and romance… and what it must’ve been like to meet Delores Winder for the first time… She can be a little intimidating and controlling… So it must’ve been a lot for my mom… Especially since she’s so close to her mom…

And after hearing mom’s stories…. The parts of the beginning of her marriage and life with dad… well it made me excited for my future…. and it caused my great sadness at the same time…

I still hate thinking about the fact that dad won’t walk me down the aisle…. and seeing someone so close to me get married this weekend…. with her dad by her side…. and to know deep down that my dad will never, ever be able to do that for me…. well… it hurt my heart on so many levels….

I cried watching Morgan walk down the aisle…. And it wasn’t because she looked beautiful… I mean she looked gorgeous… but my thoughts instantly went from her moment to the moment I’ll never share with my father…. And then I looked up and saw my sister crying….

Standing as a bridesmaid…. I knew we were sharing the same tears… the tears that “dad will never get to do this with us. He won’t be there the day we are given away and start a new chapter in life.”

It’s still to much… Too real… And I asked mom what it like… the absence of a father at a wedding… What does it feel like? Did she cry? Was she hurting? And of course she said she was sad…. that even watching father-daughter dances today make her cry…. they make her wish… and just want her dad to be here… to have shared that moment with her on her special day with my dad…

And now I will experience the same feelings as mom… Knowing dad is gone and that it’s going to be a painful moment in that moment of new beginnings….

But I guess that’s life for you…. I can’t seem to figure it out completely… So I’ve just decided to keep riding the wave and sailing through whatever is thrown my way….

Because the most dramatic, stressful situations don’t leave me in a mess anymore… I just kind of shrug them off and move forward in the moment…. I just kind of make it work and hope it works out well… even if what I define is well doesn’t look well in the moment…

And I saw mom doing the same this weekend too… She was so calm… Much calmer than I’ve ever seen her before…. And she was on top of life like I’ve never seen her before…

Even in the lowest moment of her life… This time where she doesn’t know what’s next…. well she’s ok… We’re hurting but we’re all ok… And it’s encouraging… Encouraging and inspiring to know life does go on after death…. That it’s possible to get up every morning and move forward even when you feel like shit…

Even though the three of us don’t really know where we are going in life… and for different reasons… we do move forward… we do stay positive… we do laugh… we do cry… and we just do life as it comes at us….

And I think… right now in this moment… well, it’s the best way for us to do life right now…. to stay hopeful and helpful… and to watch out for those around us… with bigger hearts and a more understanding and possibly compassionate ear for listening…