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Cheers to 38 years!

One year ago I would have never guessed I would be where I am now. It is amazing how much can change with just one revolution around the sun.

This time last year, we were on the cusp of lockdowns around the country due to COVID-19. Think about that: lockdows, which came with mask mandates, curfews and forceably closed businesses and public areas. In America, the land of the free. One year later and Texas will be completely open and mask free, should you choose. I for one, now part of the highly vulnerable population, will continue to wear a mask and take only reasonable and calculated changes with this little virus. I'll carefully weigh every trip to the store, every dinner date, every vacation and moment spent outside of the safety of my own home. As I said, it is incredible how much can change in 365 days.

Today I turn 38. It is so strange to write that number. I remember when I thought 38 was "old".... now it feels like such a young age, especially given my current situation. It feels like a young age to be worried about things like eating out earlier to avoid crowds, or not taking trips because it's flu season. It feels young to be contemplating the things I find myself constantly thinking about.

Whether 38 is young or old, I suppose, has more to do with your own years than mine. Is this what they mean when they say "it's all relative"? Regardless, I have learned so much in my 38 years, and here are a few things that stand out to me.

Value and invest in friendship

True friends are hard to find. Some people are in your life for a short period of time for reasons that may not be known until they are gone. Some are permanent fixtures. Either way, try to learn from them all and try even harder to keep the ones that really matter to you.

It is not easy to find true, genuine friends. When you do, hold on to them for dear life. Treat them like family - because they are. Let them know exactly how much you love and value them and do that often (in fact, stop reading for a minute and do that now). Whenever I am saying "see you later" to my true friends, I always tell them I love them. I know not everyone is comfortable with this. For me, it gives me a sense of peace knowing that my friends know exactly how I feel. And, if for some uncontrollable reason, I don't see them again, my last words will be the most meaningful ones.

Work hard and love what you do.

This past year has reinforced this value for me. I have ALWAYS been a hard worker. And lucky for me, I have always loved the various jobs and roles I have played. I love being a wife and a mom. These two things make me so proud and give me a sense of pride and accomplishment. And being a Labor and Delivery nurse was a dream come true for me.

As a nurse, I knew every day as I walked into the hospital that I was going to make a difference. I was there to help bring a new life into the world or to support parents who may be having their worst day ever. When I left work, whether it was a good day or an awful one, I knew I had served a purpose.

With that now taken from me (at least for now), I have looked more at my purpose as wife and mom. And as special as this is, my heart longs for more. As I have been searching for my new purpose, I have come to the conclusion that sharing my journey with lung cancer is what I have been called to do. Whether it is spreading awareness, rallying support for others, raising money for research, or being a source of hope for those who need it most, I know that this role is an important one and one that I can do well. I will do this with passion and unwavering committment, while keeping Jesus at the center of my life to keep me going when things get hard. For all of us, our days are numbered. How many you get is unknown, but what you do with them matters.

Take care of your body, mind and soul

Health and fitness have always been a priority for me. Some have jokingly questioned whether or not that was a good strategy, given my current prognosis. But I couldn't imagine facing this without having knowledge and past experience with healthy eating. Feed yourself with nourshing foods, while having a little fun along the way. It's all about balance. Strengthen and energize your body every day, so that when the hard times come (and they always will) you have your best chance at facing them. The same goes for your mental health and spiritual health. Prepare now for the coming storms... you can't learn to sail in turbulent waters.

This looks different for everyone. For me, I workout consistently (almost daily) and I keep my eyes upon the work of God to ensure a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Routine is key for me. For some it may be yoga and meditation. For others it may be running and a hot bath and clearing the mind. I encourage you to find what works for you, as simple as it may be, and do it cosistently.

Face your challenges head on

If it weren't for the tough times, you would not be who you are. If you change the way you think about these challenges, it is possible to alter the impact they have on your life. Peace and joy often come from our biggest hurdles. We cannot run or hide from every challenge - but what you do with them - how you react - that is within your control. Choose to make peace with hardest things in life. I choose to take my challenges to God and find comfort that He fights for me in all battles. Is it always easy? NO! But at the end of the day, He is where joy and peace reside, so I choose to go there. Find what brings you joy and peace, and make sure the path always leads you there.

Keep God at the center of your life

I have had a decent relationship (IMO) with God for a while now, but the circumstances of the last 6 months have drawn me closer. I have always prayed and gone to church. But I now know better than ever that I am not in control. And it has brought me closer to the one who I believe controls everything.

If you follow me on social media, then you know that I have been doing The Bible Recap. Tara Lee Cobble is the host of the podcast for TBR and she mentioned something in the Book of Job that really struck a cord with me. She said something to the effect of God places hardships in your life not to punish you, but to draw you closer to Him. I could not agree more with this. Nick and I have had plenty of hardships, and with each of them has come a deeper connection with God. Our current situation takes the cake (birthday pun!). We both have grown closer to our Lord and Savior and despite this being a challenging time in our lives, I am so eternally grateful that He is at the center of it all.

These are just some of my core values and lessons learned. I hope to share more with you through this blog. I also hope this next spin around the sun brings a lot of love, laughter and good news for all. Thank you for those who have kept us in their prayers. Cheers to 38 years!

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