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A Sweet Letter From My Sister: A Letter of Love, Grace & Inspiration

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To all of your beautiful warriors.

I am deeply honored to have been asked by my sister to be a guest writer on her blog. She gave me a few possible topics that I could share about but I’m going to go a different direction.

I’m going to talk about us. Our relationship. I love my sister with all my heart and I think about her all the time. I worry about her nonstop. I get scared to death when I get a text from her or our mom/ I get scared that it may say something was dreadfully wrong. I want nothing more than for her to be healed. I’ve prayed and prayed for healing, but for some reason (beyond my earthly knowledge) this is her illness and only God can heal in His time.

I am 22 months older than Jamee which is not that far apart so we were a year apart in school and I’ve always been thankful for that. Growing up, Jamee was always the silly, goofy one and a lot more outgoing than I was. I was super shy and backwards. Almost terrified of people in some ways but thankfully, it is a trait that is not a part of my life today and none of my girls have inherited it. I was able to befriend her friends and they took me in as part of their group. Jamee and I fought a lot growing up (like most siblings do), but she really was one of my best friends.

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Sadly it took me until my late 20s to completely acknowledge our journey and understand how our relationship evolved and how we fit together as we grew older. And it was then that I apologized for every mean thing I ever said to her and our relationship has continued to grow and deepen as we get older.

I’ve always admired my sister. She has a strength and a way about her that makes her stand out. A certain charisma that draws people to her. I saw some of that light fade when illness started to take over, but she won’t back down. She fights back.

I’ve watched her get ink on her body that is permanent (I wish I was that decisive). I’ve seen her color her hair in various bold shades (both on purpose and on accident) from orange to violet to black and walk into a public space just daring someone to make a negative comment.

I have always been a people pleaser. Constantly busy trying to keep everyone happy. Even if this meant giving up my own happiness. I’ve made a lot of choices in my life basing them on the feelings of others rather than my own heart. I worry about hurting the feelings of those close to me or making someone mad at me. Constant worrying can be exhausting.

I started to feel like a coward but then I started thinking of my sister and my mood changed. I was inspired. I said to myself, no more. I’m going to be true to myself and stand up for myself. I have three beautiful little girls who look up to me. I’m their role model. Do I really want them to see a coward, or a strong, proud woman?

Thank you, Jamee. You are an inspiration to me. You are amazing and I’m so proud of you.

Love from your big sissy,

Brandy

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faith

Surrounded By Stars: The Story Behind My Tattoo & My Faith

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If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you know I got a shiny new tattoo! This tattoo makes tattoo #4 and it means the most to me by far. It is one that I have wanted for a really long time. I had always planned on having it done on my abdomen/rib area but thanks to the roadmap of incision scars that now cover my abdomen, it kind of knocked out that option. What little space was available, I was worried since I have the worst luck that they would have to cut right though it with the next surgery (which according to my surgeon major surgery should happen again within 3-4 years tops).

I have talked about Skillet in many posts and how much their songs have impacted my life. I love so many of their songs but “Whispers In The Dark” is like my life song. It has gotten me through so many hard days (and nights). My favorite line is, “When darkness comes, I’ll light the night with stars” (Skillet, Whispers In the Dark).

So when it came time to get my tattoo, that is the lyric of the song that I knew I wanted to get. Since my abdomen was no longer an option, I chose to have it done around my collarbone/shoulder area so I could see it everyday as a reminder. I absolutely love the way it turned out. I had the tattoo artist design the tattoo to follow the curves of my body and to place the tattoo in such a way that I can build onto it either down my back or down my shoulder if I get the itch for another tattoo in the future (because we all know I will – maybe something like this or another Skillet lyric ). You can’t tell from this pictures is that there are two more stars that follow the lyric up and over my shoulder. I absolutely love the way it turned out:

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The reason I love this lyric so much is because it reminds us that no matter how dark our lives seem to be, God always leaves reminders of His love all around us as beacons of light to remind us that we are not alone and all is not lost if we only look up.

[bctt tweet=”No matter how dark our lives seem to be, God leaves reminders of His love all around us if we only look up.”]

Despite the struggles and challenges we may face, we still have so much to be thankful for and so many blessings to count. We are constantly surrounded by stars.

Inspired by this, I want to do a weekly Instagram campaign on Fridays called “Surrounded by Stars” using the hashtag #surroundedbystars where we can each post things that we are thankful for, blessings we have received that week, or people who have made an impact in our lives that week. I hope you all will participate!

 

Do you have any tattoos (or planning to get any) that have a special meaning to you?

 

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My Inspiration: Abby’s Heart for United Christian Missions & Nicaragua

 

ABBY'S-HEART-FOR-NICARAGUA

My husband took his second mission trip down to Jinotega, Nicaragua this summer and one night while he was gone, after reading her bible at bedtime, she asked if she could as me some questions. First she blew me away with questions like if hell was a real place and if the devil ever walked on earth as a human like Jesus did. She is 6. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor and come up with answers that she could understand. Then she began to ask me questions about the children of Nicaragua.

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From hearing stories from her daddy and looking at pictures, she knew that there were children that lived at the dump with their families just in order to survive. They often walked around barefoot around the mounds of trash and fought off vultures for food.

She asked if those children ever received toys or shoes and I told her that they probably only received what was donated by others as their families were very poor. She said, “Mama, I’ve got a lot of toys in my playroom and while I like my toys, I know that  I have a lot more toys than those kids so I want to go through my playroom and pack up some toys to send down to Nicaragua.” My heart melted.

After loading up a box of toys and taking them to United Christian Missions (the group that John travels with for his mission trips), she decided that that was not enough. She wanted to come up with a way that she could help provide shoes for the kids. She asked if we could have a yard sale to raise money to buy shoes. How could we say no?

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We had planned on decluttering and cutting back anyway so this was the perfect time. We went through the house and loaded up things we didn’t need or could live without and hosted a yard sale the last weekend in August. We called it “Abby’s Heart for Nicaragua Yard Sale.” We had a great turn out and ended up raising $300 for shoes for the children in Jinotega that help to allow them to attend school.

Her heart is so full of love and compassion that you can’t help but be inspired by watching her grow. She has a greater understanding of Christ’s love for others than many adults. Her teachers at school say she is the first one to volunteer if a classmate is in need of help. I think if there is one benefit of growing up with a parent that is chronically ill that it allows for a greater understanding of compassion, gratitude, and learning the importance of the little things. I am just so proud to be her mama.

If you feel inspired and would like to help the children of Nicaragua, you can participate in the United Christian Mission’s  Educate A Child program to help a child receive an education or participate in one of the other many ways to help make a difference. In addition to their website, you can also find UCM on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

What or who has inspired you lately?