Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Re-defining STRENGTH

Most everyone has their own opinion/ definition of strength and to be honest I was one of those that thought strength was all about the muscles in your body.  Matter of fact, back in the day, I worked out 6 days a week, kick-boxed, had a personal trainer, ran, and worked my butt off to be in my prime physical condition. I remember the day I weighed 124 pounds, I had gained 9 pounds of muscle working so diligently to build my body.  I was so excited!  I was strong!  At least that's what I thought then...before I buried my son and had to face life with disabilities.  

Suddenly strength had a much deeper definition to me.  Strength was  no longer the face of the most muscular person lifting the weight of a small village upon his/ her shoulders.

Strength was the face of the cancer survivor, the mother by her child's grave or the person in a wheelchair...

Strength was surviving and living after loss and tragedy...

I had to have a come to Jesus moment (or three or fifteen) when I had to let go of what and who I was physically before my injuries and learn to love who I was now.  I had to learn to love the weakness in my body, because there I would find strength.  Strength I needed to believe I was worth fighting for and that this new body of mine was still good and a treasure.  I had to learn to look at Matthew's grave site and cry out loud.  (For any of you that may think that crying is a sign of weakness, go ahead and leave this page now, I am not the person for you to be reading about).  I had to learn admitting my weakness was my biggest strength!

I had the muscles before...and I could run with the best of them...and I did for a season...and I am glad I did. But the woman I was then is nothing compared to the woman I am now.

In my weakness, his strength is always perfect, always has been, always will be.

If I looked at a picture of me "then" and me "now," and had to choose which one was stronger, I would *without hesitation* choose the me "now" photograph.  

I don't see weakness when I look in the mirror anymore- I see a survivor.  I see eyes that have known sorrow and joy, fine lines that show evidence of tears and smiles.  I see grace.  I see a miracle in my reflection.  I see hope, even in the scars that are remnants of my broken body and my son's death.  I see a picture of strength, not in the muscle tone of my legs like I used to, but in ways I would have never dreamed... 

I SEE BEAUTY IN THE ASHES and that my friend's is the most perfect description of strength that I can offer...

I hope whatever you are facing today, that you too, can see beauty in the ashes when you are looking in the mirror and that you will find great strength in that! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I survived...

I am a survivor of a uterine rupture that claimed my son's life. I also survived Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (D.I.C.) and flat lined twice. For any of you in the medical field, y'all know that isn't something many people survive. BUT I did! I suffered extreme trauma to my body the day my son died and for the last nine years have been a medical mess!  I blog and write openly about the struggles of living life with disabilities.  Letting go of my pride was hard, really hard.  But necessary to tell my testimony.  

I may look healthy, but don't judge my cover, my outside appearance, until you have read my book or my story.  I was diagnosed a couple of years back with Posterior Cord Syndrome and every day is a challenge, but one I meet with God right by my side.  My injuries and my son's death are coupled together, so for me, every scar, every pain, every doctor's appointment and so on, are all wrapped up in the tragedy of my son's death. The emotional and physical pain are a unit.  There is no separation and there are some days it is just so doggone hard. My injuries are progressive and migratory, so I do absolutely everything I can to preserve what I have left.  Every morning I open my eyes and say "Jesus take the wheel."  And many days I repeat that over and over along with "I surrender all."  I couldn't do the hard without my faith.  But with God, I am on it!  He knows what is going to happen tomorrow and I rest in that.

My story is one big fat messy, medical miracle intertwined with things that will make you fall on your face and cry to things that will make you dance even without music playing! Seriously I am a hot mess one minute and then a put together princess the next!  Stick around, you will see that truth! 

When I wrote my book and started my blog, I vowed to be authentic and real, even on the worst of days.

And I am. 

God has given me the courage to be authentic and allow the tears to fall off of my cheeks and onto the keyboard as words are penned directly from my heart.  Sometimes it is scary to talk so openly about my struggles, but then I think if I didn't you all would miss the really huge miracle that my life is.  

Every day of my life, I need Jesus more than yesterday and I rely on grace to carry me through moment by moment.

I don't like to focus on my challenges, but rather overcoming them!  Side note here about challenges for me- I throw a fit with God sometimes and he lets me.  I get it all out and he gives me grace.  

I truly live life some days with mascara perfectly applied and some days with it smeared down my cheeks.  And guess what, that's  okay!  I cry when I need to and laugh a lot!  I live in the moment gracious for it.  I live for little moments with my family that will be sacred memories tomorrow.  I place worry back in God's hands 1000 times a day and then some.  In all of my life, all of my sorrows, all of my experiences, I can truly say God has given me joy in the midst of it all, but I had to choose it.  The days I don't choose joy are the days that end in the dumps.  I don't like dumpy days.

Life is a beautiful gift, a present I am grateful to open every single day...even with all of the physical pain and the struggles that I endure, it is a precious, precious gift! I am beyond blessed.

Thank you all for reading, for sharing and for being YOU! Wherever you are, thank you! XOXO!

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's real people...depression is real.

December 3, 2005- I wrote this in my journal, just five months and one day after Matthew died. It's real people...this is part of life and death; there is depression and pain and tears and fears...even with faith! If you feel like you have to be strong for everyone else, please stop! Words I don't remember writing but feelings I will never forget!

If you are depressed today, please let talk to someone.  You don't have to be "okay" for them, like I "thought" I had to be!  PLEASE, don't do that to yourself!  

I did that to myself for too long and don't want to see anyone else suffer the way I did.  I am reaching my hand out to you.

I always tell others and often remind myself that "It's okay to be okay and it's okay to not be okay, but it's NOT okay to PRETEND you are okay when you are NOT okay.  Okay?"  

Healing for me started when I let God take the pain of losing my son and turn it into love for others who were experiencing the same.  I am no stranger to pain...but with God's grace and mercy, that pain is now a labor of love...Please know you are not alone...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's a New Season

There are seasons in life.  Many seasons as we all know.  Lately I have been embracing a new one in my life with an open heart and open arms.

Three years ago today, my book was published and shortly after that I started this blog sharing some of the most emotionally and physically challenging times of my life.  Looking back at my archived blog posts, man I went deep.  Every word that you read is authentic from my heart.  The rawness and pain of life after loss is ever present in many of those posts.  And there's also some really encouraging posts as well.  I just share the heck out of my heart with my guard down hoping  to encourage or inspire anyone that may need it.

Telling our story in my book, then following with this blog that held such deep discussions of life after loss was very healing and necessary for me.  I needed to be able to help others for in that would come healing.

And healing came.

I had to persevere...daily.

May, 2012, I began to write for Still Standing Magazine where I was welcomed and loved in a community of some of the most amazing people I have ever met.  We all shared two things, love and loss. When you share loss with someone, there's an unspoken bond that will last for a lifetime regardless of where you go because loss is one thing that will never go away, it will never change, it is constant.  At SS, I contributed monthly articles that also drove me to new places in healing.  I shared some of the most raw places in my heart there. During that time I developed some pretty special relationships and grew to love babies and children I, nor anyone else would ever get to meet.  When you can grow to love a baby that can only be shared from inside of a mother's heart, that is pretty amazing.  My time there was precious but came to an end for me in November, 2013.  It was time for me to rest my heart for a while and live life away from the key board.

In October, 2013, I was inspired to create a hand painted card line in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I started painting cards for those who were missing their little ones.  This fulfilled a place in my heart that was so special.  I have hundreds of cards that were given / sent to me after Matthew passed away and almost nine years later, I still open the trunk they are in and spread them out and read each one.  A card is something tangible that someone can hold on to, and when you lose a child, you need something tangible to hold on to.  When I have my "cry days" I always eat cookies with one hand and hold my Kleenex with the other...thus the name of my card line,"Three Cookies and a Kleenex!" Inside each card I sent out, I included a Kleenex.  If I delivered a card, I would also deliver cookies with it.  This gave to me great joy in my heart and has continued to do so on a daily basis.  Many people have followed suit when giving these cards to others and included cookies and a Kleenex!  (Big Mama Smile)

As inspiration came, three lines were produced in my card collection.  My "Loretta" line that was completely inspired from my beauty shop days.  "Loretta" screams about life loudly, wearing big hair, lots of jewelry and she loves Jesus and her girlfriends. (and of course chocolate!)  Her name is inspired by my name and my sister Lynette's name because new clients would call our beauty shop and ask for "Loretta" all the time! They would mash our names together forgetting Lori or Lynette!

These are just a few samples of Loretta:

Then there's my  "She Whispers" line which was completely inspired by the many hours I have spent at the cemetery looking above at the sky and the trees as I talked to Jesus.

And lastly, I have the "Remind Me" line that is inspirational Bible verses, encouraging words that have helped me through the years.  Chances are if I said it to myself to get through a day, it is on a "Remind Me" card.

I also started painting canvases with Loretta as the star.  This was such FUN therapy for me and also gave me a chance to bring Loretta to life, on canvas.

Of course, y'all know I had to paint some "Hotty Toddy" ones too, right?

Hours of painting and praying over cards brought even more healing and purpose to my life.  I also discovered a huge need to contact my ninth grade art teacher and tell her "Thank You!"

In February, I was offered an opportunity to blog for HottyToddy.com.  As an Ole Miss Rebel fan, this was perfect for me and for my family.  I surprised my husband with my first article there on Valentine's Day. Indeed, it was special!  I began to write and smile at the keyboard instead of cry!  It was time to write and smile at the same time.  I have written four articles there so far and have had the most fun sharing them and talking about them to our boys.  I really never talked about my blogs / articles with them before because of the heavy content and it is so wonderful and refreshing to be able to do so now!  I have to shout Hotty Toddy at the end of that because that is what any Rebel fan would do! (Rebel fans, shaking your head up and down, aren't you?)

So here I am, almost nine years after losing Matthew and almost nine years of living with life changing disabilities and I am more grateful today than I have ever been in my life.  I am grateful for life, for love and even loss.  I am grateful for the experiences, both good and bad, because they have given me such perspective in life.  I will be forty years old in July and I welcome the new decade with open arms. I am blessed!  Really, really blessed!

If you are new here to my blog or have been a friend  for a long while, thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing your hearts with me and  for listening to mine.  I will blog randomly here about what is on my heart. It will be different, but a good different.  From time to time, I will share as I used to, but this new season is about smiles, lots and lots of smiles!

You know, Confucius said "Wherever you go, go with all your heart" and that inspired me so much, not just in where I am going but in how I write, with my whole heart.  So wherever you find my words, here on this  blog, at StillStanding.com, HottyToddy.com or in my book, you will know those words were written with my whole heart.  

My cards are absolutely painted with lots of love and my whole heart too!  "Three Cookies and a Kleenex" cards can be purchased at Diamondhead Pharmacy and Gifts.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Difference Makers

Before my injuries, I played hairdresser for a living.  I loved it. My sister and I had a wonderful hair salon and the most amazing clients.  We made some of the most wonderful memories in that shop and did some fabulous hair, if I may say so myself! (Insert big southern smile and more adjectives here, right?)

I worked my last day as a hairdresser at the end of June, 2005, just days before the death of my son and my life changing injuries occurred.

My life is different now, oh so different but I am grateful and blessed to be here. I am blessed to be helping others in a way I never thought I could or would through writing and speaking, but am often asked if I miss doing hair.  

Because I was never able to return to my career and the industry I so loved, there is this huge place in my heart for it still. The part that loves to make people smile and feel good about themselves.  That part.  I really miss that part.

I do have to be honest though, Lord have mercy, I don't miss the screaming toddler haircuts.  Not one bit! (All of you that were in my chair screaming and are now all grown up, you know who you are!)  

My favorite moments in my hairdressing career were the smiles and often tears from the women looking at themselves in the mirror because at that very moment, they felt beautiful!  I miss those moments!  I miss that "magic!"

There's something about watching someone stand a little taller walking out of the beauty shop than when they came in!  

Over the last nine years, I haven't been able to give that to others the way I used to, but I have found some pretty incredible ways to achieve making others feel good and to encourage them whatever their situation.  I really believe that when you have that in your heart, it stays there and you find ways to pour into others, to fill their cups, to make them smile and to just love them where they are.

I believe in complimenting and encouraging others!  Every day of my life, I try and compliment someone, maybe on their shoes, their fashion, their smile, or whatever it is that makes me connect with that person and give them a smile. This comes very natural to me.  Maybe my southern roots?  Hmmm, maybe.  One may say that, but I believe God gave me this desire deep within my heart and with it, I do my very best to honor Him through words of encouragement.

My boys know I am going to tell somebody in Walmart I like their earrings, fingernails, shoes or hair!  I think sometimes they people watch and see who I am going to talk to or what I am going to notice first.  (I can't help myself y'all!)  People are everywhere and everyone loves to receive a nice word or compliment.  It makes them smile.  Try it. It really does.

In physical therapy a few weeks ago, there was an elderly man (maybe 80 years old) walking out and he had some crazy looking flag tennis shoes on.  I had to talk to him and tell him his shoes were pretty cool.  Of course, I asked him if I could take a picture.  He raised his pants leg to give me a better view and I said "Oh show me some skin!"  He smiled so big.  He proceeded to tell me the story of those shoes with a smile on his face.  I am not sure how he walked into therapy that day, but I know he walked out with a smile.  

It didn't take much, it never does.  A one liner can change someone's day, really!

The potential to make someone's day a little bit brighter gives my heart great joy.

We should all choose JOY.  Doing things that allow us to choose joy along our journey will grant satisfaction to our soul.  If I am having a down day, and I encourage someone else, I am also encouraged.  The Bible says in Proverbs 11:25 "He who refreshes others will too be refreshed."  Wow, doesn't that make you want to refresh someone right now?  I am throwing my hands in the air on that one! 

This brings me to close with a few of my thoughts and encounters from yesterday that REALLY were the difference in my day!

I have to set the tone first by telling you that the past few days have been rough for me.  My body has been worn down from physical therapy and restless nights of no sleep and pain have been plenty. I have grown very used to this, but sometimes I just am like "really, Jesus? Really?" especially in the mornings when I haven't slept at all. (Just being honest, y'all, I really do say that to Jesus sometimes!)

So yesterday morning I was just telling Jesus all about it when I got a sweet tweet back from Kim Gravel ("Kim of Queens") that said "Lori, you are so pretty..."  Gasp! Y'all, have any of you ever woken up to a beauty queen telling you that you are pretty? It was a first for me, one that made me smile and touched my heart so deeply. (so, so deeply for many, many reasons)  I was humbled. Jesus knew how I felt, how my body felt, how my injuries have changed my body and how I see myself quite different than how others see me since my injuries are not seen on my outward appearance. Through Kim's kind and gracious words, I was encouraged more than I could ever express.

Then I received a message from a sweet lady that had read my article at HottyToddy.com that said she had been having a tough time balancing everything in her life, but this article reminded her that she can do it, she can win the day.  

What perfect timing!  (Jesus knows, y'all, Jesus knows!)

You can see here how Proverbs 11:25 was unfolding in my day already!  I had just written an article to encourage and refresh others and here I was being refreshed.  

Next came physical therapy.  It was challenging, but a good challenging.  I was mentally and physically exhausted when I got home and received a tweet from my awesome friend Julie Cannon that simply stated "Hang in there, you can do it! Love you!"  Ah, here I go again, getting all encouraged and refreshed!  (Big smile)

See, how simple this is y'all?  Are you smiling yet?

And these ladies didn't have a clue how much I needed this encouragement!  (Once again, Jesus knows!)

So, I carried on in my day with my heart a little lighter and a smile on my face.

Then came night fall and just before I settled in, this happened; a dear friend of mine, Amie Emmons posted this comment under my article- "Look forward to reading each week. Makes me want to be a better person. Thank you."

My day was full of encouragement!  And I really wasn't even aware of JUST HOW MUCH I NEEDED IT until I was showered with it yesterday!

If I can stop a complete stranger and compliment her handbag, her hair, or just tell her she is pretty and rearrange her entire day like mine was yesterday, you better believe I am going to do it!  Or if I can send a short message to a dear friend that will lift her spirits when she needs it the most, you better believe I am going to do it.  We never know how much our words will impact, encourage or refresh those around us, but Jesus does!  Are you willing to be a difference maker today?

I challenge you today to find someone that you can refresh!  And as promised in Proverbs 11:25, you too, will be refreshed!

Thank you to all of the beautiful ladies that took a moment of their precious time yesterday to send me a few words of encouragement!  Each of you made me smile and were a difference maker in my day!  I am still smiling typing this!  I hope you will all be blessed abundantly!

If you are facing adversities or trying to overcome obstacles in your life today, take a moment and read my "Will to Win" post here.  Be encouraged!  Be inspired!  Be brave!

Lots of love, hugs and big southern smiles from me to you!

©2011-2014 All Rights Reserved http://facetsoflifeafterloss.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Third Anniversary BOOK GIVE-A-WAY

Time to celebrate with a BOOK GIVE-A-WAY... 

In honor of my book's third anniversary, I am giving away a copy of Facets of Life: What I Didn't Expect When I was Expecting.

Do you know someone you would love to give a copy of the book to? Would you like a copy? It will only take a minute to enter!  

To enter, visit my Facebook page HERE and 'like' the page, please leave a comment so you will be entered into the drawing!  If you are already a friend of Facets of Life, leave me a comment and you too, will be entered into the drawing!

You can also share this giveaway via Twitter for an entry to win.
 @LoriWeatherly #FacetsofLifegiveaway.

***Want a sneak peek of "Facets of Life?"  Tune into this interview on The Balancing Act- Watch it HERE.

I love to give books away and am excited to see where this one is going!  
Winner will be announced on March 16th, 2014.

For more information on Facets of Life,  please visit LoriCWeatherly.com. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Where I've been...and where I am going in 2014!

Hello everyone! 

On the verge of the new year, I wanted to take a moment to share with you all today!

I have had lots of questions about where I have been lately, hopefully this will explain it a bit!  

When I wrote my article in November for Still Standing Magazine, I didn't know (at the time) that it would be my last, I just knew that while I was writing it, I was in a different place.  I share about that different place in my article and if you would  like to read that, you can do so here.

As I began to try and write for December, my heart told me it was time to put the pen (keyboard) away. And so after a year and a half of writing for Still Standing and developing some really wonderful relationships, it was time for me to step away.

I want to thank you ALL for reading, for following and for sharing your stories and your hearts with me! Thank you for all of the support, love and encouragement! Thank you!

My time at the magazine and here on my blog has been so healing and therapeutic for me.  I will never underestimate the healing that has happened through sharing words from my heart and from the stories each of you have shared!

I began my journey of writing publicly New Year's Eve of 2010 when I decided to write my book.  Since then, I haven't shut-up!  I think it is time to shut-up for a bit!  ;)

In all seriousness, when I was struggling in November with my decision, I had a dream.  I dreamed of Matthew.  It was such a beautiful dream and in my dream, I wrote the most beautiful words I have ever written to him.  When I woke up, I grabbed my pen to write down the words I spoke and wrote to him in my dream and I couldn't remember them...not one word.  But my heart was so full of love, joy and peace that I knew those words were still there, for me.

All  I could write down was "I dreamed I wrote the most beautiful words to you..."

That dream spoke very softly to my mama heart...it was time to keep those words sacred in my heart.  Deep in my heart where they are remembered.  I don't doubt for one moment that this dream was just what I needed to confirm the tug on my heart.

It was closure of some sorts for me. It was as if Matthew was speaking to me that it was okay to keep the words in my heart, his story had been told and it was time for me to embrace and find the beauty in this new place.  As hard as it was, I knew letting go was the right thing.

So I have been quiet, but quiet in a beautiful way!  I have been enjoying the freedom that has come along with this decision of living life away from the keyboard.  I have been living out loud without always wondering if I will write about it!  

I have had some really beautiful moments that could have made beautifully written stories...but for right now, they are beautiful memories in my heart.

One day I am sure I will be back behind the keyboard,  but for today, I am enjoying the amazing beauty around me in the lives of my children and my family!

There is truly a season for everything and I am embracing this like there is no tomorrow!  

I will always share Matthew's story, his life and the impact he had and still has on us all!  That is part of my "mama-hood!" He is my son and I love him as I love my other boys!  Always have, always will!  

This is the time I share him in a different way, like through my card line, "Three Cookies and a Kleenex!" And through the wonderful world of painting canvases.  It is so refreshing to create and just be in the moment, which is just where I need to be! (I absolutely love hearing all the stories about cards arriving with cookies and a Kleenex!  Makes me smile!) 

Matthew's story is woven in my book, my blog, the articles I have written at Still Standing, my card line and in my paintings. The colors he left behind are beautiful!  In some way, on any given surface or platform, I will paint with his colors the rest of my life!  Thank you sweet boy, thank you!

Thank you all for being here through the years!  Thank you!

I hope that wherever you are today, you will see the beauty that surrounds you and that you will embrace today like there is no tomorrow!  Life is so full of treasures!  Open your box!!!  May the jewels that surround you brighten your smile and fill your heart with love!

Happy New Year!

May God bless and keep you all!