Don’t Miss Memories – Make Them!

Last fall we lost my Grandpa unexpectedly. I haven’t shared about it because the bigger the news the more time I need to process & put together my thoughts. But today I find myself thinking about the man my kids called Big Grandpa (since he was older than my dad, who they affectionately called Little Grandpa), the man who made me feel important by letting me sit at the adult’s dinner table on holidays when I was still a child.

In his den with his desk, TV and all of his western movies and books.

I remember our last phone call. I’d brought up a challenge Michael had (I don’t even remember what it was) & my grandpa, always the engineer, talked about how when you come to a problem you find a way to solve it. You don’t give up. You work through it. ❤️ That approach to life was engrained in my Dad & in me. You might say it’s in my Anderson DNA. I’m grateful for the good meals we shared together (sometimes at El Torrito or old town San Diego), the many palm tree Christmases we enjoyed in his beautiful home, the gorgeous books he often gifted me (a good balance of science texts & classic fairy tales), and for his continual support of my education.

Christmas in sunny San Diego, circa 1996.
Graduation dinner, June of 2001.

He came out for my high school graduation even though I’m sure traveling at that point was hard. How special it was to have him there, sitting by me as my Dad sat on the other side for my fancy graduation dinner, surrounded by their support.

With my daughter when she was a toddler.
And with her again when she was grade school age.

It was also incredibly special to see him interact with my kids. We spent the little savings we had to go visit him last spring. I felt like if we didn’t, we would miss the opportunity. We bought a new-to-us van that could make the trip & I drove with the kids to CA to see him. He didn’t remember much of his full life but he still LOVED. He gave us big bear hugs & told us family was the most important thing. He thanked us repeatedly for coming so far. We had many visits in those few days. After each one the kids did an audio recording of what he’d taught them.

Out for brunch last March, 2022.
Black Bear Diner was the right place because he loves his shakes and giving big bear hugs!

I’m sharing to encourage you to connect while you can – tell stories, take pictures & to share the lessons life has taught you. Some day you will be missed. But the heartbreak is less when there are meaningful photos & memories. So don’t miss those memories. Take the time to make them!

Our last visit together.
Grandpa John and Me, March 2022

Love you, Big Grandpa. I hope you & Daddy are at peace together.❤️

5 years

Emotional healing journey after a mastectomy and hysterectomy at 34 when you are a homeschooling, dancing, running go-getter and (at times) a perfectionist with anxiety and depression:

1st anniversary year – Wow! We did it! A whole year. I’m still super sore and not back to feeling like myself yet, but I should start feeling better really soon. Doctors said three months should see me feeling mostly like myself again. Others said to give it a year. So I’m a little behind, but the worst parts are over!

2nd anniversary year – Hmmm…still feeling SUPER tight and achy with occasional shooting pain. I wonder why it’s taking so long to feel like myself…I feel like I’m less than others and not healing as fast I should. I definitely am not like my old self, but I’m trying to trust and have faith anyway. Praying. A lot.

3rd anniversary year – What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with the doctors I had? Why did we have to change insurance companies and lose consistency of care? Why didn’t I bravely do more research on this process instead of just going forward without more education? I know I should just be grateful I’m alive, but I miss the life I had and would have had without this huge change…but maybe I wouldn’t have had it. I don’t know. I’ll just keep doing what I can to be grateful and take care of everyone. I wish I could afford to check-in and see a Dr to follow-up. Still trusting God the best I can. Finding moments of gratitude when I’m less sore and getting stronger. Savoring the little victories through the struggles. Grateful when I can lift something without help because I remember the trauma of not being able to…enjoying those little victories! Then feeling torn between wishing there wasn’t any trauma at all and feeling blessed that I can appreciate basic mobility in my arms and chest. Two confusing sides to this coin. I wish I had more faith. I wish I had more self-love and didn’t see so many setbacks. I wish we hadn’t lost those years…but maybe we would have missed more if I hadn’t done the surgeries.

4th anniversary year – Accepting a new normal, or at least starting to as I still deal with minor pain. Wishing I’d made this choice for the right reason – to be empowered, not because I felt like I had to sacrifice myself for my family. Praying lots more and trying to forgive others and myself. Losing some resentment as I learn to know and love a new, different me. Seeing the positive more as I recognize how grateful I am to be here, the love I have surrounding me, teaching me to love myself fully again, and thankful that I never had to hear the words, “You have breast (or ovarian) cancer.” Also, feeling guilty that I won’t. Trying to tell myself I’m not weak for being preventative. Still frustrated at times to have foreign silicon in me. Still, sometimes, missing kids I’ll never have and meet in this life. Choosing to be grateful for the beautiful lights of kids I do have and the ways I get to teach other children in my community. Wondering if I’ll ever teach fitness classes to adults again or run without the “zingers” of pain in my nerve-damaged muscles. Sometimes I run anyway. Sometimes I dance anyway. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I pout. Overall though, I keep moving forward through the occasional downpour of tears as I accept reality. Having faith in the middle.

5th anniversary year – Peace inside regardless of the line I can feel under each breast of scar tissue, simultaneously both numb and painful, like pins and needles that will never stop feeling that way. It’s ok though. Really. I’m ok. I’m not bothered by my hormone meds or the routine of having implants. Not too much. It is what it is. No life is free from pain. Has it really been 5 years? Isn’t that funny? I was already planning on having a fresh start on some health goals, and this anniversary in a way feels like my body giving its blessing for those efforts. Years of prayers and processing have given way to new confidence. Love for God. Hope for my future. Some mourning and regret for times I was bitter, but pride in my sense of grit. Recognition that all the emotions – up and down -were part of this healing process. Will I lose the silicone? Maybe. Will I keep trying to exercise through the tight muscles and nerve damage. Definitely. Would I wish this on anyone? Never. Would I do it again? Yes. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I would. Because I trust Eva from 5 years ago. And as hard as it all was, there have always been shining moments where I could feel the correctness of this choice, even if I didn’t understand it or necessarily choose it for the right reasons. But I did act out of love, and that is heroic. I see that now.

Today I walk with my head held higher, less by fear and more by faith – faith in the healing journey, the forgiveness journey, the growing journey, the resilience journey, all part of God’s journey for me. I love me and who I’ve grown to be through this process, though I do wish I’d had more grace through it all. I give myself grace now for those dark moments. I was too busy keeping it together for my family to get to this place of healing sooner, but little by little, I’ve taken time for myself over the years to meet and get to know this new me, to love her anyway, scars and all.

Above anything else, I love where I get to be in these journeys thanks in part to crazy-supportive friends and fiercely loving family. I will never be able to adequately thank everyone for the part they’ve played in my healing process. You are all pieces of me and the sum of your unconditional love, selfless service, and endless kindness is so much more than anything any doctor took out of me. Thank you for filling my life with incredible beauty in the moments where all I could see was loss. You are all why I am still complete. <3

It’s been 5 years since that last doctor’s visit, and I’m ready to let it go. As I move forward feeling more whole than ever, I know that today is just the beginning of everything else this life is really about… It’s time to close that chapter and embrace this life I have today, the one I’m still lucky enough to be living. <3 Here’s to what’s coming next!

Free Falling Blessings

So many beautiful blessings from God! Love the colors Mother Earth is showing. Here are some highlights from our nature hike today…

If you are feeling the heaviness of life, take a moment outdoors for you and God. You can find evidence of His love for you all around.

Also, I made an Instagram reel with some of these images and peaceful music. It’s my first one, and it was so special to co-create something so calming with God. If you are on Insta, come find me @LiftLikeChrist so we can connect there! 🙂 Here it is below too, in case you aren’t a social media person. 😉

Have a great weekend and remember, God loves you!

LOTR Inspiration

This morning as I pondered on a couple of things I’m struggling with, some beautiful, guiding thoughts trickled into my mind. Among them was this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring.

My youngest is currently reading this book, so the story has been on my mind more than usual. I couldn’t help but think, Wow! God is so good to give us such personal moments of revelation! He WANTS to connect with us, comfort us and encourage us.

I love how God loves me enough that He speaks to me in ways that I can hear and feel His guidance. I love that He answers prayers. That is a miracle to me. I know he does that for all of us because He loves all of His children, including you! Seek Him out and you will find him.

Beautiful Burnt Offerings

Last week on a long work-at-home day, I asked my youngest son to make me some toast. He was eager to help but as I typed away at the dining room table I soon smelled the familiar aroma of burnt toast.

A sibling pointed out the obvious. I could hear mumblings back and forth along with scraping sounds. Since I was just grateful someone was making me a snack, I stepped in to celebrate with some gratitude.

“That looks great! Thank you for making me toast.”

“It’s a little bit darker.”

“That’s ok! I’m a little bit darker too. 😉”

Then I helped him smooth it all out with some delicious cream cheese. And it WAS good.

Too often we think our offerings to others aren’t good enough. But I think people are usually just glad to be on the receiving end of love, generosity, a compliment, or yummy breakfast foods – know I was. I think God is happy when we share those things with others too. Ministering happens in moments, and sometimes are widow’s mite means more to others than we ever imagined.

So think more of your burnt offerings, and enjoy the ones that happen to land on your plate. Life’s too short to be picky about our blessings! ❤️

God loves you!

Heaven’s Power is Here for Us

Isn’t it incredible that even if we don’t have what we long for, heaven does all it can to bless us with POWER according to our pure desires? ♥️

I love the truth that the powers of heaven can be close around me according to my faith, and not because I’m perfect or more special than anyone else – we all can have that blessing because God loves us! ☺️ Maybe I can’t receive a physical hug from my Dad but I’ve felt angelic impressions that he was near. We don’t always have the peace or order I long for in my home, but there are miracle moments when we have more than I would have expected.

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