Friday, August 29, 2014

taking stock

I came across a taking stock blog post over at Eat.Pray.Wear.Love. awhile back & I thought I would go ahead and do one too.  It seemed like a fitting transition back into blogging. Thanks so much for reading!
Cooking: anything healthy I can cook in a crockpot! This is the current recipe on repeat: Spinach & Salsa Chicken
Drinking: coffee (hello, pumpkin spice latte!)
Reading: #girlboss & Power of a Praying Wife (highly recommend!)
Wanting: our own house.
Looking: forward to Josh and I’s trip to San Fran next week!
Playing: Boyce Avenue station on Pandora. Loving this song.
Wishing:  I could go back and see my brother one last time.
Enjoying:  morning time in the Word.
Liking: Date nights with this guy J
Yep. It was a DQ kinda night. What's up choco cherry love!

Wondering: what are the top places to see, eat at, and things to do in San Fran?! Suggestions, please!
Loving: this verse. {2 Cor. 4-16:18}

Hoping: to find a full-time job soon.
Marveling: at how blessed my family is to have such amazing, selfless, encouraging, and loving friends!
Needing: to drink more water.
Thinking: I LOVE sales! Got these 3 pairs of shoes for $50 at DSW! woop woop!

Smelling: coffee…yum.
Wearing: my hair natural i.e. Crazy curly and totally unruly!
Following: Christ, forever & always. 
Noticing: I need to update my 101 things in 1001 Days page. { it’s officially on my to do list for next week}
Knowing: my brother is up there in heaven experiencing an unbelievable amount of peace. 
I love & miss you so much, Bug!
Feeling: Grateful for all of the time I got to spend with family this Summer.

Bookmarking: i.e. pinning loads of fall fashion inspo here
Opening: my mind & heart for God’s direction.
Giggling: at this video for 2 reasons: 1. I’m the girl crazy dancing in my car when this comes on & 2. T.Swifts moves are just amazeballs.

Have you ever done a taking stock or similar post? If so, share the link below I would love to read it! 
I hope you enjoy the long holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

{ Pain, Forgiveness, and Healing }

I haven’t written a blog post in over a month, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I truly didn’t know what to say.  Nothing seemed appropriate or enough to truly express the pain and loss I felt.  I knew I couldn’t just hop back into outfit and nutrition posts, this was too significant and too important.  My intention for this blog was always to make it light, fun, and of course fashionable BUT I can no longer just do that because then this little space I have created wouldn’t be a true reflection of me.  Ultimately, I saw this blog as a lifestyle journal to have for forever and see the changes over the years, but now it will also be a faith journal, sometimes raw and unscheduled because for that day, fashion or shopping isn’t what I want need to talk about, it’s more than that.  So here it goes, a glimpse into my broken heart…

On July 13th my family’s life was thrown upside down.  I received a call from my dad, no sister would ever want to hear and no parent should ever have to experience.  The awful feeling compared to nothing I had ever experienced in all of my life and my body shook as I cried so uncontrollably I thought I would pass out.  My initial reaction was this isn’t real it cannot be possible… my baby brother cannot be and is not dead.  I just saw him the week before and he looked so great- he had all of these plans, he was making so much progress, he was finally getting back on the right track – he had hope in his eyes for the first time in a long time.  But as my dad was sobbing on the other end of the phone I knew, life was no longer the same and will never be again.  I immediately went into some kind of freak out mode – I honestly cannot even tell you how my brain was processing or thinking at all but all of the sudden my mind went crazy with all of these questions - what happened? Is he sure? Does mom know? The next weeks were pretty much a whirlwind and the emotional roller coaster we were all on was nearly impossible to ride. 

It has been 1 month and 1 week since my brother went up to heaven, the intense hills on our emotional roller coasters are smaller, but the healing process seems to be strange like that, one day you think “I feel stronger I am not going to cry today” then the next thing you know you are sitting in your car in traffic bawling… for me it’s a song’s lyrics, seeing a kid who reminds me of my brother, even some days it’s just seeing a Polo shirt (silly I know, but he lived in Polo and now when I see anything Polo I think of him), and then sometimes it’s nothing specific at all other than the painful sadness of knowing I will never get to see his sweet smile, or hear one of his silly comments and his goofy laugh, or watch him get married, or know my kids will never know their Uncle Josh.  These are the thoughts that still bring me so much sadness and uncontrollable tears.  I don’t know that there will ever be a day that these thoughts won’t make me cry.  I am learning the human body has this incredibly annoying ability to make infinite amounts of tears, but I am also learning that healing is possible and it’s actually happening in my heart

So handsome & that smile :)
For those who do not know my brother’s story.  It’s starts out like so many-  He was a happy and loving kid. Always smiling.  He had this personality that made you smile around him and he was a little jokester. Some teachers would probably even say he was a class clown. He was obsessed with football and dreamed of playing in college.  He could rattle off every football players stats from college to pro- it was incredible! We always said he would make an amazing sports announcer.  As he grew up life changed, we moved, our parents got a divorce, and he had a pretty significant fall from a tree house and suffered a concussion that later led to him no longer being able to play football safely.  He was young and those were some pretty tough cookies to swallow at that age, really any age.  He eventually fell into a different crowd.  It was slow change, but a change nonetheless.  I am sure for him it was just pot, then maybe just this pill or that, but eventually he was doing drugs I think he even thought he would NEVER do.  And sadly, as his family we were pretty clueless… I honestly didn’t even know what half the drugs were back then and unfortunately, now only after his passing do I even truly know what heroin is and the horrible effects it causes.  I so wish I could go back and educate myself when I first learned he was experimenting, but honestly I think I was kind of de-sensitized to drugs because so many people I knew experimented and seemed okay. BUT that is just not true.  A gateway drug is a real thing – it can and many times does change your life.  My brother was SO smart and he could have completed college with flying colors, but the drugs changed his motivation levels, his drive, and in the end added another life changer in his path.  Halfway through his freshman year of college he dropped out, got more into drugs, drifted even farther from family and friends.  One night he realized he had hit rock bottom and reached out to my parents for help.  The next day he was checked into rehab.  I am so proud of him for making that decision and I know at the time it was so so so so difficult to do.  For my brother, rehab started off hard due to withdrawl, but once those side effects faded he was slowly becoming more like his “old self.” He was hopeful, his drive was coming back, and he was determined to beat drugs.  He met some amazing people and friends in rehab and he learned so much about himself.  He began to entertain the thought of God and seeking a relationship with Him.  We began to have talks about faith (which I am SO incredibly thankful for, I only wish we could have talked more) and he began reading the Bible.  He was reading through Psalms and he enjoyed learning and studying God’s word.  If you knew my brother and how he viewed religion and God prior to rehab you know this was an INCREDIBLE MIRACLE! Things were looking up… but like so many of us we think we are invincible, that bad things won’t happen to us, and I am sure that’s what my brother thought too. We are human and sin is so easy to fall into.  Sometimes we bounce back, we deal with consequences, and we learn, but sometimes we never get that opportunity… I am so thankful my brother reconnected with God in his final months, there is no doubt in my mind he is sitting up there in heaven, probably rocking some awesome shoes and a hat, looking down and seeing life in such a different way.  He sees he is so LOVED not only by his family but his friends and his family’s friends… I am so glad he knows that peace now!

{Side note: Drug awareness and education are SOOO important parents, siblings, and grandparents- you think, you hope, you will never have to experience the effects from drug use, but sadly and statistically you will probably have a family member who has done drugs, will do drugs, or is currently using drugs- if you can make yourself aware of the signs you can potentially save a life!}

There is no reason, no explanation for the strength I have found since my brother passed EXCEPT that God is holding me, guiding my thoughts, showing me that there is hope, and that healing is possible.  By any example from my past, I should be extremely depressed.  I have always struggled in situations I feel I have no control over to feel hopeless.  But of all times, this time by the grace of God, I didn’t and still don’t feel this way.  I am learning so much, some extremely painful because I cannot go back in time and change things, and some so full of hope because I know God is with me and my family and my brother is with God.   

I miss you and your silly smiles so much Bug
If you asked me before all of this happened how I would respond – I can assure you “God’s love and hope will get me through” would not have been my first answer.  It probably would have sounded more like “Who sold him the drugs? Who was with him and why did they not say anything or help? Why did you steal from him? Whoever it was they should be locked up and punished.” BUT the truth is we do not know what happened that morning and we may never know what truly went on – this has been the hardest aspect for me to accept- and for a while I wanted the guy who was with him to pay, but it’s not for me or any of us really to punish him – he knows what happened and so does God, and that’s the only one who matters.  Which brings me to my current step of healing…

Forgiveness.  I am definitely learning how to do this.  I would love to say it’s because I know that’s what God wants, because he does, but it’s because I know that’s what my brother wanted SO badly for so long.  He wanted forgiveness for his past mistakes and daily he struggled with forgiving himself.  We owe it to ourselves, to the Lord, and to those who have wronged us to forgive.  After all, we are all sinners, we have all done wrong in our lives, some more frequent or more severe, but ultimately we are called to forgive.  I wonder if my brother could have forgiven himself for his past mistakes if he would still be with us today.  Forgiveness is so very important! I challenge you to look inside today and ask yourself if you need to forgive someone or yourself.  Then ask God to help you forgive.  Don’t get frustrated if you struggle with this, it’s a slow process, it’s painful, and forgiveness will probably be one of the most difficult things you ever do, but I think you will also find it’s one of the most freeing actions as well, not only for the one you forgive, but also for the chains around your heart.  When you forgive, you free your heart from the binding chains of unforgiveness, and you begin to heal. 
{I specifically write this portion to addicts and family members of addicts, because I so badly wish I could go back and tell my brother-  Forgiveness may be the step that saves you from yourself, from a relapse, or a broken relationship.  You are not a druggie and you are not the mistakes you have made while using drugs.  You are a beautiful person who despite what you think, your family loves, God loves, and your future family and friends will love.}

I pray for anyone who is going through the pain of loss or addiction, whether it be personally or through others actions.  Please know healing is possible.  The grieving process is so unique and so difficult.  I pray you reach out to a friend, family member, and God to help you through this time.  You cannot do this alone.  If you ever need to talk please email me at danielleadams28(at)gmail(dot)com.  I have found that sometimes just talking to someone who knows your pain helps just a little more. 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help in the fight against heroin addiction and the epidemic that is sweeping our nation: please visit The Davis Direction Foundation on Facebook or Webpage. 

Then I acknowledge my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 31:5