ansley girl.

This past week has been…bittersweet?…I can’t think of a better word right now. Brendan spent last weekend with his dad’s parents in Panama City and he had a great time but I missed him so much! In an earlier post I blogged about how I loved Ansley staying with me when she was out of school…we had the best time hanging out, just us two. I told Kimberly that I wished I had another day to spend with her again like that…Kimberly was like, “no, she can’t, she has missed too many days of school”, so I just shrugged that thought off.

However, I woke up last Monday morning with mom telling me that Ansley was sick and then asked if I could keep her, I couldn’t say YES fast enough. I jumped out of bed, fixed a cup of coffee, toasted my pop-tarts, and then read my favorite blogs as I waited on my girl to get here. Kimberly brought her over around 10:20 and she didn’t feel good at all. She was running a fever, she was congested, she was just pitiful. I made her a comfy place on the sofa and we spent the afternoon watching some of our favorite movies, we watched Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and a movie about a dog named Bingo…and that was the title of the movie. I made her slushies and those seemed to help her throat feel better. I couldn’t stand seeing my girl not feel good.

When Kimberly took Ansley to the medstop over the weekend the doctor there told her that Ansley had bronchitis. Well, because the symptoms that Ansley was having didn’t really relate to bronchitis, my mom told Kim that she needed to go ahead and take Ansley to the after hours at Primary Pediatrics and that is what they decided to do. Ansley’s dad and my mom took Ansley to the doctor that evening and Kimberly met them there after work. After they got back, my mom walked in the door and told me that I wasn’t going to believe what they said at the doctor…the doctor there diagnosed her with the flu! I knew she was pretty sick because I spent all day taking care of her, however, I truly didn’t see that coming. I felt terrible for my Ansley, but I can’t lie, I was secretly a little happy that I was going to get to spend another day with my girl!

When Ansley arrived on Tuesday she didn’t feel too good but she felt a little better than she felt the day before. I fixed her another comfortable spot on the sofa and we watched one or two movies. Around noon Ansley began feeling better so we painted our finger and toe nails. She painted my finger nails blue and red (Brendan’s school colors) and she painted my toe nails white and of course they turned out beautiful. I painted her finger nails purple and pink and I painted her toes the same colors (I think?). I so wish that I would have taken pictures but again I have been terrible at remembering to take pictures lately. I am usually completely opposite…Brendan says that I am worse than the LA paparazzi! I am the first person to say that I am completely guilty ; ). Anyhow, after we finished doing our nails, we made some cupcakes; cupcakes always make everything better!

Unfortunately, mom contacted us mid-afternoon on Tuesday and told us that she was pretty sure that she had the flu. She was running a fever, she had chills, her throat was sore…and she had several other symptoms that added up to being the flu. She tried to get her doctor to call her in Tamiflu but they were being anile about it and would not call it in without knowing 100 percent that she was sick with the flu. Mom then decided that she would just go to the Minute Clinic at CVS but they were not open. Anyhow when she arrived back home, Ansley and I made some really good enchiladas! Ansley did almost everything all by herself…she LOVES cooking and baking and she is really great at it. Lately when we make anything, like when we made cupcakes earlier in the week, she did almost everything herself, the only thing that she didn’t do was crack the eggs…I need to start teaching her how to do that ; ).

I kept Ansley again on Wednesday. Fortunately, she felt better than she did earlier in the week but I could tell that she just wasn’t a hundred percent just yet. She was SO cute when she came over, she was wearing her adorable little pink tutu! I wanted to just scoop her up…and I did! On this day we got the fold out bed out and I made a comfortable pallet and Ansley loved laying on it and I laid right beside her on the sofa. Kimberly and I grew up loving the movie Now and Then and I wanted to watch it with Ansley because I thought that she would like it too…and she did, she said she loved it! We also watched the movie, My Girl 2 and she really liked that movie, but she said that Now and Then was her favorite…I don’t blame her ; ). Oh, we also watched Monster High. Her sixth birthday was themed Monster High…she has Monster High everything just about. After we watched our movie we made snow cones and listened to a few of her CDs…we had fun doing that…we sang along to ‘That’s What I Call Music (27)”. She also learned how to type and send Facebook messages on the computer, so before her mom picked her up, she spent her time sending messages to her mom on Facebook…and of course they included 10987654 different emojis!

Ansley ended up going to school the last two days of the week but because of the sweet time we got to spend together, just us two, it made me even more excited for summer break…because she will be with me! Actually, I am even more anxious about summer break because I will get to spend those days with both my nieces plus my boy…when he is not at one of his sport camps. I am used to spending all day with my niece Jayla but because her mom accepted a job in Perry (I can’t remember if I have mentioned this in one of my blog posts yet) she has been staying with my grandmother out in Warner Robins because it is thirty minutes closer (actually I really think I have mentioned this in a previous post…oh well). Kasey’s car is in the shop (it has major issues right now) so she is using my grandmother’s car to drive to work in.

Now that I am finishing this post up, I know that I am going to look back on this and just wish so badly that I had took pictures of some of the moments that Ansley and I had shared throughout the week. Although, I am still happy that I have our memories documented in words. I have been extremely long winded throughout this post, so I am going to end things here. Just wanted to write about the special week I had with my Ansley girl. : )

 

around here.

Although I have done a terrible job of taking pictures lately, I still want to post an update of what kinds of things we have been up to lately. I actually have no idea where to start off at, so right now I am just going to try and wing it. Brendan is spending the weekend at the beach with his Meme and Poppy and I am sure he is having a great time, but I miss him! Hopefully, I can find some ways to keep busy until I see him next. Our church has homecoming tomorrow and mama asked me if I would make a banana foster rum cake to take to church and I could not say YES fast enough! Out of all the cakes that I have made in my entire life, this one ranks in the top three (you can read more about my love for this cake here). My other two favorites are cream cheese pound cake and homemade red velvet cake.

Besides having cake on the brain, I have had this massive sweet tooth lately, it’s almost to the point of being uncontrollable ; ). I am not a big chocolate lover by any means, but I have now been craving brownies for a week straight. Just this past Sunday my mouth wouldn’t quit watering over them, it was so bad that I had us get in the car after 8 pm so that we could pick up brownie mix…CRAZY. Although, I wasn’t the only one with a sweet tooth that night, Brendan had a huge sweet tooth that night as well. I usually do not allow Brendan to have many sweets in the evening, especially on a school night; however, I decided to be wild and allowed him to pick out some snacks that night. He chose to get Fruit Gushers, powdered doughnuts, cookies, and a few pieces of candy. Brendan’s eyes got wider and wider as I said yes to each thing he asked for, even he couldn’t believe I was allowing him to consume sugar like this (which I say YOLO, ha!). I came home and made some brownies and Brendan snacked out on his treats as we watched some TV; I was surprised that he went to sleep right on time that night!

Before our late night run to the store last Sunday, mom, Brendan, Ansley, and I went to pick up some Subway after they got home from church. Because it was a very beautiful day and the temperature was perfect, we spent a few hours out in the yard playing baseball. Brendan got his Instagram taken away for a week the day before, so it was nice spending time with him without a phone attached to him. Usually, when Brendan and I are outside playing sports (and I use the word, “sports” rather loosely, if you ever saw me with a ball, you’d understand why), he goes hard on me, he just gets frustrated and almost loses his patience (understandably so, ha!). Although, I have to say that he is getting better about this, I mean he still laughs at my poor attempts to shoot the basketball in the hoop or when I take five minutes to retrieve the baseball, but lately his patience is growing stronger and stronger…however, I still don’t know how the boy puts up with me at times ; ). After Brendan and I finished playing baseball in the yard, it was time for him to go to batting practice, he left about 5 pm and returned home at around 7. Although we had fun playing baseball together that day, I am sure he gained much more skill during the time he spent with the guy who had 17996555 times more experience than I had ; ).

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the pitiful life of a boy without his Instagram ; )

Brendan’s team was scheduled to play against Crisp Academy this past Thursday, though it ended up getting rained out. Brendan continues to do good during his baseball games, his time spent practicing has really been paying off. During his last game, he knocked the ball far out into the field and got a base run. Unfortunately, we have lost the past two games, so we have tied one, won one, and lost two…I mean the statistics could be worse, right? I’m super proud of him for earnestly trying his best, he is never afraid to try anything new. Unlike me, that boy has enough confidence to go out and try out for a school sport (that he has never even played before) and work super hard at getting better at it. I mean, the thought of myself doing that just makes me want to crawl up in a fetal position.

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Brendan’s team has (I think) two more baseball games left in the season and it won’t be long before he is out for summer break…yay! Brendan hasn’t made it clear (to me) which sports camps he will be attending this summer, but I am sure that he will decide to attend Mercer basketball camp again and he says that he is going to try out for the football team this fall; so I am sure he will have plenty of practices for that this summer. I am just excited at the thought of him being on break and us being able to have fun and be lazy together. I will not be taking this time for granted at all; I spent all of last summer in the hospital, so I know that I will cherish these times even more.

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Besides spending time with Brendan, I am also loving the quality time that Ansley and I have been able to spend together lately. My sister Kasey and my niece, Jayla, have been staying out at my grandmother’s house in Warner Robins for the past month or so. Kasey accepted a job around the same time that her car decided to break down, so she has been using my grandmother’s car to go to work and back. This works out well because my grandmother’s house is about thirty minutes closer to her job than our house is, this makes staying out there even more convenient right now.

Being as Kasey and Jayla are out there, Jayla and Ansley don’t get to play together all afternoon like they are used to doing and I know that they both miss each other (even though they probably fought 998 times every afternoon after school). Because of this, Ansley just seems so lonely some of the time after she gets home from school. I know that she loves being with Brendan but on days that he is with his dad, she doesn’t even get to see him. This is why I have been trying to take up even more time with my favorite red headed girl.

I was craving brownies again yesterday afternoon so I was super happy to bake some with my girl. I sprayed the non-stick spray onto the pan, I cracked the eggs, and turned on the oven, but everything else Ansley did; she’s always a super great assistant in the kitchen! I have a feeling that it won’t be too long before she will start calling me HER assistant, ha! After we licked the bowl and got the brownies in the oven, we painted each other nails, I did hers pink and purple and she did mine lavender and gray with speckled glitter. Around the same time that we were finished polishing our nails, the timer on the brownies went off and we couldn’t scoop them off the pan fast enough, they tasted super, everyone loved them. They were so good that they were gone in less than twelve hours…and I’m not even mad about it ; ).

Ansley recently went to Florida during spring break with her cousins on her dad’s side of the family to visit their nana Michelle (Ansley’s paternal grandmother). Bless her heart, Ansley came back home late in the evening on the last day of her break and when my sister Kimberly went to wake her up for school the next morning, she was still exhausted from her fun trip! Kimberly ended up letting her stay home from school that day and this made me super happy because I got to keep my girl that day! Ansley and I spent time watching movies, we colored, we giggled, we ordered pizza, I bought her a new pair of pajamas (she and I both LOVE our pjs…pajamas literally make up 96 percent of my wardrobe), and we did each other’s makeup. We had such a nice “girl’s day”, I even told her mom that her school’s loss was my gain : ).

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Ansley modeling the pajamas that I bought her : )

This post is probably one of the most sporadic ones here on my blog, my thoughts are just all over the place. I was just wondering if I had forgotten to write anything else important that happened over the past week or so, but I think I’ve got it all covered. I am about to get ready to bake this cake for church homecoming tomorrow and then make some enchiladas for dinner, my mouth is already watering ; ).

my papa.

 

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Papa and I hanging out at Chuckee Cheese back in 2011 (we have more recent pictures together but this one is my favorite) : )

 

Right now I am not even sure where to begin because I already know that there just aren’t any words that would do justice in describing the impact my Papa made in the lives of the people in my family and the friends that he loved. However, his recent passing changed the lives of our family and impacted us all in a huge way, therefor, I want to share glimpses of his life. He was an amazing person and led an awesome life and I feel like it would be great to share pieces of it on here.

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we are wearing our purple and gold shirts (Papa’s racecar colors) in honor of Papa

 

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The back of our shirts

There are many aspects of my Papa’s life that I would love to reminisce on.  As a teenager he became involved in the racing scene and that would become a huge part of his life. Not only was racing a major portion of my Papa’s life, it was also embedded in life of my cousin, Tommie Clinard Jr. My cousin began racing go-karts at a young age and now he races his race car at various dirt tracks. Lately, he has been racing at a great dirt track in Swainsboro and has done really well. My Papa took great pleasure in following Tommie’s racing progress. Although, as Papa could not physically be at most of his grandson’s races, he still played a pretty big part in that aspect of his life. After every race, no matter how late he finished, he always called Papa and gave him a detailed summary of each race. That meant so much to my Papa. Papa stayed up late waiting for that phone call each night Tommie raced.

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we are on the way

 

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Brendan thought that I was a fine foot rest (I love these feet) ; )

Our family is very close, so when someone in the family celebrates something special or has an event or ballgame or anything important, we show up. When anyone in the family has a birthday, we ALL go to my Grandma and Papa’s to celebrate their special day. Grandma always has a great cake that the birthday person chose. So, when we found out that my cousin would be spreading my Papa’s ashes on the Swainsboro track, of course our family showed up. It felt like such an honor to get to be there. We later found out that the track officials would be helping us honor my Papa in that way, they stepped up and made it special for us.

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Tommie’s racecar…this was actually taken at Byron Speedway

Last week, my mom asked my to write a summary of my Papa’s life achievements because the track officials would be describing the life of my Papa, so that they could announce parts of his life during a part of the race. This meant a great deal to us and I was honored that I was able to write about his sweet life. Below are the words that I used to pay tribute to his life. I want to never forget what I wrote so I am sharing those words here on my blog.


Here goes:

Tommie Clinard Jr., driver of the 3x, enjoys regularly racing his super street car each weekend. He is also the grandson of Milton Thomas Clinard, who went by the name, Tommie. From the time Tommie was a teenager, up until the moment he passed, much of his life centered around racing. Tommie began racing in south Florida when he was just a teenager. He actually raced his first race by telling a white lie, he told a car owner that he had a bit more experience under his belt than he actually had, but none the less, he went on to finish second that night, which was an accomplishment for sure! It wasn’t discovered until his third race that he was just a novice.

Around this same time, a cute girl, known as Marilynn, was a frequent fan of the same races that Tommie raced in. Marilyn’s dad was the flagman, her mom served in the souvenir shop, and Marilynn typed up the newspaper for each of the races. The very first time that Tommie met Marilynn at the race track, he told his buddies that she would one day be his wife, it was love at first sight. And sure enough, just a couple of years after their first encounter, Marilynn and Tommie wed in south Florida.

Tommie and his wife would soon move to Macon, Ga, where Tommie continued to race his 3x car all over the southeast. He was actually the very first driver to race his car at Byron Speedway. Marilynn and Tommie went on to start a family and they began to raise their children around the racing scene, Tommie continued racing on weekends, as he served as a Macon police officer when he wasn’t racing against drivers on the track. Tommie had the opportunity of racing against drivers such as, Bill Elliot, Richard Petty, and Bobby Allison, just to name a few of the well known NASCAR drivers that we still look up to today.

In 1976, Tommie Clinard decided it would be best to hang the keys to his beloved 3x car, but he would go on to serve the racing community well into his retirement. Tommie played a huge part in serving the southeast division of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, as he spent a few years as secretary for the organization, which he took great pride in, as did his family and close friends. Tommie was also very determined to help found the racer’s reunion at Byron Speedway, he dedicated so much of his time and energy to the efforts of making this event a success. He was later nominated into GARHOF not once, but twice. All of this is to say that there wasn’t too much that took importance over his racing career, even after he retired from the sport.

However, his family is something he treasured more than racing cars and today we have members of his immediate family, including his wife Marilynn, out here to honor his love for racing. Racing was truly embedded into his heart at a young age and his dedication to this sport never died.

Sadly, Tommie went on to be with Jesus this year, yet, he still very much lives on in the hearts of the people he held dear to his heart. Not only has Tommie’s grandson Tommie Jr. inherited the Clinard racing gene, his great grandson, Brendan Campbell, enjoys racing his go-kart at various tracks, in his grandpa’s honor. So, tonight let’s all come together and help his family celebrate his legacy.

Tommie Jr. will be racing his 3x car tonight, we know that Tommie very much believed in his grandson’s racing abilities and took great pride in the fact that he adopted the 3x from him. Let’s all try and encourage Tommie Jr. tonight as he races his 3x super street in honor of his beloved granddad. God Bless.


 

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the announcer leading us in prayer

 

I have to admit, I didn’t cry at my Papa’s funeral. I was still so much in shock. However, I am glad that I wore sunglasses last night and I was also happy that I forgot to wear mascara because I cried throughout the night at my cousin’s race last night. My aunt’s boyfriend, Mike, was sweet enough to buy everyone in my family a t-shirt in remembrance or my Papa and they turned out great! They really represented Papa well. I am sure there were at least twenty people there last night wearing that purple shirt, I was incredibly thankful that Mike provided these for everyone, it was the kindest gesture.

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Brendan, Tommie, and grandma…right before they took my papa on his last lap around the track

 

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the announcer telling the crowd a little about my Papa’s life

 

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and there he goes..

 

 

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papa’s last lap on ear

 

 

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so proud…such a great night : )

 

Last night was not even about my cousin Tommie performing well. It was about representing our Papa’s legacy and Tommie went above and beyond in exceeding just that. As he rode around that spreading our Papa’s ashes throughout that track, I cried as my Papa rode with Tommie for his last lap around that track, I don’t think I have ever been more proud of my cousin! My family’s relentless love for one another and their support for one another, no matter what they were going through, has made the biggest impact in my life. I just want to thank my cousin and the Swainsboro race track for allowing us to represent my Papa and for letting all of us stand on their track as my cousin rode around the track spreading Papa’s ashes. It was an incredible moment, I know that I will never forget it.

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my sweet grandma with Tommie

My Papa led an amazing life, a life that I am more than proud to be a part of. I know that my family will continue to keep his spirit alive. He was a great person; if you were blessed enough to call him a friend or family member, you know that he would do anything for you. I miss him. I love him.

one year, almost.

 

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I was so sick here…I could not move, in any way. My stomach was completely cut open from top to bottom. I was not even able to roll over from side to side. I was like this for at least two weeks. it was not a good time but I was so happy to see these people.

 

The one year mark is coming up fast. Last summer, when I was admitted into the hospital, I had no idea that it would turn into what it did. The ER doctor didn’t even want to admit me. I had been so sick for months. I was in and out of the doctor’s offices and the ER. Doctors just couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. It was an incredibly frustrating time. I was beginning to believe that people were just thinking I was making things up; I even began to question myself, were all these symptoms just in my head? However, in reality, I knew things were bad and I needed help. When I walked into that emergency room in May, I knew that if I went home, things were not going to be good…at all. The ER doctor could not pin point, on paper, what was going on with me. I looked at the doctor with tears in my eyes and told him how I felt, I told him how sick I had been, and it was then that he agreed to admit me. This filled my heart with hope…maybe now we would have answers as to what was wrong.

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I always loved his company, even when he was on his phone : )

 

Almost as soon as I was admitted, I began to have high fevers, and the most excruciating pain. I couldn’t even lift my head to vomit. I was vomiting in my hair. My head felt as if going to explode, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even call the nurse. When the nurse finally came in, I couldn’t even talk, but she knew something was seriously wrong. The next morning my blood cultures came back. I tested positive for MRSA and I was septic. Also, the fistulas that I had were causing immense pain. My belly hated me. It was a bad time.

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This face could always make me smile.

 

I was soon transported to Augusta and was admitted to GRU (formerly Medical College of Georgia). I am not ready to write in too much detail about about the months I spent in the hospital. That was a pivotal time in my life and I don’t think I am quite ready to go back and completely relive those hard moments. However, I will say that after being in the hospital for almost two months, things quickly took a turn for the worst. MRSA came back positive again. I had very high fevers. I was transported back to the GRU emergency room (as I had then been at a nearby rehabilitation hospital, called Select). I was alone and I not very responsive, I don’t even clearly remember that experience.

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isn’t he beautiful?

 

I do remember the next day, I became so sick that I had to be put on a ventilator (I am not ready to share that procedure, but it wasn’t good at all). The next few days are a blur. I was in a comatose state, so I don’t remember the next few days. However, my mom, grandma, and dad were there so they gave me a recap of those days and expressed just how serious things got. My blood pressure began to drop very low and this is when things turned scary. I later found out that Brendan’s Meme (Becky) took off almost two days of work because she was scared that I was not going to make it. This really put in prospective of how close I came to not making it. Becky is also an internist doctor and knows when situations are bad and when they are less serious. If you know her, you know that she is very positive and has been so hopeful in bad situations. I have watched her tell a woman with stage 4 Ovarian Cancer, that things were going to be okay and she gave the woman hope. My grandmother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Becky gave her hope as she told her that if you had to have cancer, this was the one you would want to have, as the outcome was usually good. When my grandpa went to hospice care recently, she was quick to say that she just had a patient admitted to hospice. but they recently, were doing so good that they got to leave. This is just to say that in any moment she can be positive, so, for her to take off work to go home and cry, really showed how serious things got.

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Brendan was aggravating her, lol…I know this sounds bad, but I loved seeing this…made things seem normal during those moments : )

 

After almost a week on the ventilator, I began to get stable, and was able to leave ICU. During all the hard days (and even the less hard days), there is only one thing I could think of and that was my Brendan. That boy, I think, saved my life. When I was at my absolute worst, the only thing I could think of, was him. I cried many tears thinking about him and the thought of him losing his mom, broke.my.heart. I couldn’t let that happen. You couldn’t know how much it hurt being away from him. I missed some really important times in his life. I even missed his graduation. Before I was admitted to GRU, I remember telling the GI doctor at my local hospital that I had to be at his graduation. The doctor looked at me and told me that if I left the hospital, I wouldn’t make it. He also said that by missing his graduation, I was giving Brendan the gift of me be being able to be present for future milestones. I am glad that doctor looked clearly at my situation and was able to put in context just how bad the reality of my illness was.

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I don’t think he ever comprehend what he meant to me during these times : )

 

I know that this post is mostly a quick overview of some the times I spent in the hospital last summer. I really didn’t want this post to be so much about that but that is what it turned into. I really want to go back to the subject of Brendan. I was recently outside watching him play basketball and I casually asked him what he would say if someone asked him to give an account of the best things he’s done in life and what he has meant to the world? He thought for a second and described his skills in sports. I wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to discount the fact that he filled his mom’s heart with hope when she was going through such a tough battle and how he saved my life in so many ways. If it weren’t for him, I’m honestly not sure that I would have pulled through. However, instead of telling him this, I just smiled at his innocence and kept watching him shoot hoops with his basketball. I love that boy so much. That is all I have to say.

 

our pastor.

Writing this post has been on my mind for a few days, at least, but I knew that this post would take some time and I didn’t want to spend that time away from Brendan. And maybe it would be more ideal if I could have said what I am about to say in person, but believe it or not, I am a super shy girl. Hopefully, posting the words on this blog post will be the next best thing. Here goes.

I first attended Daystar Church of God when I was just fourteen years old. My boyfriend at the time (Mark) and his family attended this church and I attended with him at times. However, if I am being honest, I did not go to church to learn about God or strengthen my relationship with Him, I went to church because that meant that I would spend time with my boyfriend and his family. I loved the church members, they were sweet as can be but I had zero connection with God. I didn’t grow up attending church and as much as I wanted to believe in God, I am not sure that I actually did.

Years went by and Mark and I broke up. I began dating someone else and after ten months of dating, I became pregnant. He was the first guy that I had ever become intimate with. We (kind of) practiced safe sex, my birth control pills were making me sick, so I didn’t take them every day, but Ryan used protection…news flash: condoms don’t always work. Oh and at the time that we conceived, I had been really sick so my grandmother gave me an antibiotic to take and I had no idea that it counteracted with birth control. So, I already wasn’t taking them right (and I was very forthcoming about this with Ryan, he knew that I was struggling with taking them), so when I took the antibiotic, that made the pills even less effective. All of this is to say that if it is in God’s will for you to have a baby, you are going to have a baby. And I did. I was seventeen years old and pregnant.

Ryan and I kept the secret to ourselves for a couple of months. Oh…and I need to also add that even though Mark and I were no longer together, we remained friends and I was still very close with his mom, Mrs. Pam. Mrs. Pam was one of the first people that I told that I was expecting and the very first day that I told her, she suggested that I call her pastor, Luther Strickland, who also counseled families at his church. Luther contacted me that night, I was already familiar with him because of me going to his church in the past. My mom and I attended several counseling sessions with Luther and we attended church a few Sundays, but it didn’t last long. I was only seventeen and it felt so awkward talking to anyone about something so personal. Also, I still didn’t have a connection with God, even though I desired one, I just had no clue where to turn. I was so lost.

A year or so after I gave birth to my baby boy, my mom, my cousin, and my aunt began attending Daystar Church again. Brendan would go with them a lot too. I was nineteen years old when I began attending Harvest Cathedral Church on the regular and I was saved a few weeks after attending. I began to have a real relationship with God and it was the most wonderful feeling to have that connection. However, through the years, I also attended Daystar occasionally and I began to really trust Pastor Luther. He began to become a grandfather figure in my life. When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, he supported me one hundred percent. Luther stood by my side before early morning surgeries in Atlanta. He prayed with me. He prayed FOR me. He fasted in my name. Luther was just a very positive presence in my life. Sadly, Luther became very sick in 2012 and he died October 31, 2012. I remember trying to be so happy for Brendan because it was Halloween and we were going Trick or Treating, but I just wasn’t in the spirit, at all.

Their were several people who pastored at Daystar after Luther passed away but for whatever reason they would not stay or they became sick and had to step down; sadly, one pastor passed away. However, I just didn’t connect with anyone like I connected with Luther. Daystar just didn’t seem the same without him…and it wasn’t. This is why when my mom came home from church one day and told me that she really liked a new pastor at the church, I wasn’t surprised. My mom liked all of them, so I didn’t think that this pastor, whose name is Robbie was going to stand out much. However, Brendan and I began coming to church and we really liked him as a person. Brendan got saved shortly after Robbie took on the position as pastor. Before Brendan’s baptismal, Robbie pulled me aside and asked me who Brendan’s favorite NASCAR driver was and on the morning that  Brendan was baptized, he gifted Brendan with a few NASCAR shirts, it was a very kind gesture, that Brendan and I both very much appreciated.

I became to really enjoy Robbie’s style of preaching, I felt like he really connected with his fellow members of the church, and I also felt like Pastor Robbie spoke in a way that most people could relate to. There have many times that I have been to church and after the service is over I feel like everything that was said just went way over my head, I am like, “what in the WORLD did this person just say?”. However, because Robbie spoke in a way that was relatable, I didn’t feel like this at all with him. Because of the connection Robbie had with the members, little by little, the church began to grow.

Unfortunately, in 2015 I began to get sicker with my Crohn’s (you can read a little about that struggle here). I was transported to GRU Hospital in Augusta (formerly Medical College of Georgia) and the plan from the very beginning was to do surgery. I knew that I was not going to get better without surgery so to finally find a surgeon who agreed to perform the surgery for me was just a blessing. I ended up being in the hospital over ninety days, if my math is right, that equals 13 weeks. I was a sick girl. I was drained both emotionally and physically. I missed Brendan immensely. I was scared. For the most part, I was alone, hours away from home. I was a mess.

One of the biggest blessings in life are those people who walk into your life at the perfect time, times when you need them the most, and they are able to make even the most tragic circumstances seem not so bad. These people are like a breath of fresh air to be around, they can brighten your mood with just their presence. Pastor Robbie and his wife Lisa are these kind of people. Robbie and Lisa drove hours to visit me at least every week, they probably spent close to eighty hours traveling in the car to see me over the summer, that is a lot of hours! Before I got so sick over the summer, I knew that Robbie and Lisa were great people with huge hearts for Christ, however, I had no idea how much of an impact that they would one day make in my life.

Robbie and Lisa could have arrived to my hospital room and just knelt down beside me, prayed with me and then left…and that would have been just fine. Although, this was not the case by far. I have been to churches in the past where members are lucky to get in a prayer request before the sermon and where the pastor had no clue what was going on in the personal lives of most of the members. Our church is NOT one of those churches. Robbie serves. Him and Lisa would arrive to see me each week and go way above and beyond to make sure that I was well taken care of. They would bring me food (which you know was more than amazing if you have ever had to eat hospital food), Lisa helped bathe me, they made sure that I had the things that I needed (toiletries…pens…notebook paper), they brought me flowers, balloons, my favorite drink (Diet Dr. Pepper), they laughed with me, held my hand as I cried, pushed the button to my pain pump when I hurt too bad to move, they helped me walk, they were my voice, and most importantly, they prayed over me. Oh, and they made sure that the church covered my family’s hotel expenses. This was another huge blessing. I don’t even want to think about what my hospital experience would have been like if those two people had not been there for me.

Robbie demonstrates the love that God has for us by pouring in his time, his resources, his spirit, his money, and his love, to the good of others. He doesn’t just stand up at the front of the church every Sunday and then call it a day, instead he steps up every single day to help and be there for others. The way that he lives is such a testimony to his faith. The sacrifice for others that Robbie and Lisa both make is huge

Pastor Luther Strickland’s dream as a pastor was for the church to grow, especially in terms of the youth. I respect Luther so much but because he didn’t preach in a way that many younger people could understand or relate to, the youth attendance was never high, actually it was almost non-existent. I would love for Luther to have witnessed, in the flesh, the growth and changes that Daystar has undergone since his passing but that just wasn’t God’s will. However, the direction that Robbie has led the church in since he took over as the lead pastor has been really great and I am proud to be a part of it. At the end of the day, we’re all sinners, sinners standing at the foot of the cross, because of this, I am very grateful to have both Robbie and Lisa encouraging me through this crazy life. My prayer is for everyone to have great people like these two in there corner in life, knowing that I have their love and support is an awesome thing!