I’m ready.

This weekend was one that I’m sure I will remember for the rest of my life. I’ve gone through it not being able to walk, crying in front of friends who I’ve been my “strongest” for, and having to physically be taken care of by my family.

Without saying too much, the largest tumor decided to do its own thing, and the result was a Foley catheter. I seldom get embarrassed, or feel a sense of “anxiety” in public places. This weekend was different, though. I didn’t want to walk into Wal-Mart. I didn’t want to walk my dog. I didn’t want to walk to my car. I didn’t want to WALK.  Coincidentally, the day before this, I was praying for the ability to do just that — walk. I went Thursday and Friday without being able to stand up on my own, let alone move about, and here I was, too ashamed to use that gift. After a long night of profane prayers and silent weeping, I was relieved at the fact that I was well on my way to perfection. I know it sounds silly, but that’s all I see in my head.

Two years ago, my heart was broken down and battered. Not only by the man I loved, but by many of my family members’ selfishness, unexpected murders, unexpected death, and the absence of old friends through it all. It was soon after rebuilt.

Last year, my mind was broken down as I realized that my job, my health, and my insecurities had completely stripped me of any mental peace. I was consumed with dark thoughts and a scary lack of hope. I was depressed and lonely, and my mind was the root of it all. It was soon after rebuilt.

This year, my body is being broken down. I’m having to remove, repair, and rethink what I thought its purpose was. I’m being prepared, and as the days go by, I’m able to find the joy in that.

I don’t know what God is preparing me for, but in Hebrews 2:10, it reads

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation PERFECT through suffering.”

That verse has penetrated my entire being in ways that never made sense until now. It reminded me that suffering isn’t always what I see it as. It’s not the absence of God, as much as it is a small dose of His powerful presence. I’m being molded into the woman I am meant to be. That woman serves others relentlessly, sees beauty in herself, and will be a mother of some child that has been abandoned and neglected. There is more to come, but I think that’s a good place to start.

Today I find out when the hysterectomy will be. I schedule the surgery, and although I’ve come in contact with MANY people who disagree with my decision, my health has become an enemy to my service to God, and whether or not you understand that, is outside of my power. Not being able to have children will never define me. Being a mother is more than natural birth. I’m ready. I’m ready and willing to be whoever it is that God has for me. I will walk in obedience and I’d love it if you walked alongside me. Remember to add yourself to my email list so I can encourage you PERSONALLY in your life, as you have done for me by taking the time to read my posts. Please feel free to ask ANY questions, remember, my life is open so we can grow together. I’m confident there are people praying on my brokenness, but I have faith that I’m protected.

Thank you.

I love you.

Meet Aries.

I know it may seem a bit juvenile for me to introduce my dog in the “Meet A Friend” collection, but he has done things in my life that I’ve failed to put into words-until now.

On March 15, 2016 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. It was easily the best thing to have happened to me. For years, I’ve struggled with understanding my body and why my reproductive system just didn’t seem to be healthy. I’ve had countless doctor’s appointments, with numerous specialists, and spent thousands of dollars on “trial treatments.” I’d finally gotten a semi-concrete answer for my pain, so I was satisfied. Simultaneously, my doctor found an alarming amount of cancer cells from a cervical biopsy. I didn’t tell my family until about 6 months after beginning treated, and by then, I was having to re-learn the value of self. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them to know, or that I didn’t think they could handle it, I was just too scared to say it aloud.

I was in a relationship, one that I don’t regret, but he was not prepared to carry this sort of burden. I soon found out that I’d tested positive for HPV, so I told him. It seemed like every visit to the doctor came with a bag of bad news, and I was sick of sharing it, but I knew it was my responsibility. I’d broken my virginity that year. I felt safe having unprotected sex with him because I trusted him. I was sure he’d be my husband, and it’s like I set aside what I knew to be true about sex outside of marriage. I took a risk. Luckily, HPV can easily be treated, when caught in time because it’s a virus, not a disease. This was not the case for me. The infectious cells had multiplied at a pace I wasn’t aware of, and those were the now cancer cells, I was fighting.

I know you may be asking, what could this possibly have to do with a dog, but I promise I’m getting there. On more than one occasion, he (my ex) made it very clear that I was becoming “too much” and that he “wasn’t used to seeing me this way.” We separated for more reasons than that one, but I think that one hurt the most. I don’t blame him for any of this. I don’t see him as the enemy. I have no hatred in my heart. I will always love him, but it was necessary that I realized the beauty in letting go. I was not as strong or rational as I’d been in the past. I was sensitive and easily broken. I was fragile. I was afraid. I was damaged goods. Eventually, the only emotions I felt were loneliness and perseverance. I may have been lots to handle, but I needed to be handled, and he was not the man for the job. I was determined to submit my brokenness to someone, and I finally told my mother. The way she held me is a moment I often re-live in my head. I have never wept like that in my life. I vividly remember yelling “He took so much from me, but motherhood?!” I said this because with the treatment and surgeries I was scheduling, infertility was the biggest risk factor. I remember her responding with, “Don’t you let hate fester. This will not break you, Renae.” I fell asleep in her lap, on the floor, in the living room.

At the ripe age of 25, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and Stage 1A Cervical Cancer.

The school year seemed to drag, but as an educator, I had to put on my “poker face” and serve. It was exhausting. I was exhausted. My students knew something was up, and they refused to take “I’m fine” as an answer any longer. The thing about Endo, is that it causes a kind of pain that I don’t think I can adequately put into words. There were days in class when I’d have to walk out, sit on the floor in the hallway, take deep breaths, then reconvene. I remember one of my Senior girls catching me outside on the concrete beside the building, in a ball. She said, “Queen, whatever it is, let me hold you” and I cried. I could not stop crying. It wasn’t a snotty, snorting kinda cry, though. It’s like the tears just fell while I sat there in a blank stare. I felt so inadequate as a leader, mentor, and teacher, but that was the first time in a while that I didn’t feel like a burden. I never told that baby what was wrong. I got up, told her I loved her, and went to my next class. When I talk about my bond with my students, it’s so much more than being their teacher. This was the day after my doctor suggested a full hysterectomy. I hadn’t missed work the day before, because I refused to miss out on that little bit of joy. A hysterectomy meant no kids, no family, no motherhood, and I was broken. If you’ve read my blogs in the past, you know how badly I long to be a mother. You know about the adoption process that came back void. You know about the fostering. You know I’ve tried.. I found myself reading Galatians, where Isaiah 54:1 was referenced, it said,

For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!For the children of the desolate one will be more    than those of the one who has a husband.”

I decided then, that being barren would never define me, nor would being a mother. I, instead, loved my students as if they were mine. We decided that instead of a hysterectomy, a Myomectomy may do the trick. This would remove the non-cancerous fibroids that had formed, once I’d treated the cancerous cells. This would also increase my chances of fertility. I haven’t made a concrete decision. I’ve mainly been focused on taking care of my body, as is, but I have an appointment this March and we’ll see.

Still wondering where Aries comes in? Here he is!

a year ago, my doctor recommended I see a therapist, just to help navigate through my emotions. He knew that I’d broken up with my boyfriend and he knew how close I was with my moms, but he also knew how prideful I am with my feelings. It’s crazy how necessary mental health is, and how often we cower away from it (that’s a blog for another day). I’d decided “I was fine” and carried on. Soon after I made that dumb decision, a co-worker of mine posted a picture of this long-legged, gray, something or another dog that she’d found. She had 3 huge babies of her own, and couldn’t see herself keeping him. I waited. I prayed. I wrote. I legitimately thought about whether or not I was in a place mentally to care for that creature. I decided I wasn’t, but he would be the driving force behind my getting there.

I adopted Aries Paul Lewis at two months. He was gentle. He was afraid. He was nervous about yet another new home, and person he’d have to trust. I had a connection with him that still blows my mind. On days when the pain brought me to my knees, he’d lay his head underneath mine while I cried. On days when the bleeding just wouldn’t stop, he sat on my feet in the bathroom while I screamed. On days when I couldn’t walk, he’d let kme hold on to him while I crawled to the other side of my apartment. On days when I couldn’t get up out of bed because my pelvis had swollen and my bladder refused to release, he curled up against me and let me lie on his back. What I thought was just a dog being overbearing, was a friend being my protector. I still have some hard days. I still have days when it’s more comfortable to sleep on the floor, and on those days, I text my mama, and curl up with my best friend.

My cancer has since subsided, and I’m down to only about 6% cancer cells. I haven’t tested positive for ANYTHING in over a year. I have no tumors. I have no bleeding, and I thank God for that daily. It sounds silly, but I felt “dirty” and now, I feel like I got my freedom back. Unfortunately, the only treatment for Endometriosis is surgical procedures and pain relievers. I’ve had 2/3 conservative surgeries which is the removal of endometrial tissue. I can honestly say, I have never felt better. I’ve changed my lifestyle. I’ve changed the criteria for people I allow in my life. I’ve changed the way I see perseverance, and I’m thankful for the people who have walked with me through those changes. This sickness took a toll on many of my friendships, because I’d grown exhausted with talking about the pain. It taught me who would and could stick around. It also taught me the uselessness in complaining. It taught me so much. I still have days when the pain can become unbearable, but I’m learning that it comes with the territory.

Aries has played a vital role learning what it means to love myself. He taught me how to, even when I didn’t think I deserved it. I call him my best friend and people laugh. I sing happy birthday and people laugh. I make him waffles for breakfast and people laugh. The laughing is fine, because I’m fully aware of how ridiculous I can get, LOL,  but please understand that this dog played a major role in saving me from myself. So, again, meet Aries.

He’s my best friend.

Thank you for reading, I love you.

Today’s Milestones 7/15/2014.

I’ll make this quick. I really just want to share what I would consider note worthy in this whole lifestyle change of mine.

1. I sang “Saving All My Love” by Whitney Houston without cracking, not once. That has nothing to do with the healthy eating, weight training, non-smoking (y’all probably didn’t know that I ever smoked huh? 1 year clean this month!),thing I’ve been avidly pursuing but I find it to be a milestone. I mean, come on. That song has notes and key changes that only Whitney herself could sing with ease. I’d like to thank my moms.

2.I can’t fit any of my XL leggings. Now this was only a milestone because IT’S LEGGINGS! They literally squeeze everything. I had a pair fit a little bigger than usual last week, today these basically fell off of my waist. Bye, XL.

3. Cut 2mins off of my mile. Now THIS had me extra hype! I like running. I mean, It’s therapeutic. I sing, pray, think, and sometimes start blogs but today was solely running. I can’t even remember what I thought about, that can either be good or bad. I’ll take good. So will you.

4. T-shirt drive. We’re having one. That may not be a milestone to people who know me because you know how often I love doing this sort of thing. This year has been really confusing with Abraham’s Tent (that’s my adopted soup kitchen, lol), so having this is like a big hug from God. I don’t know. This one is a little complicated. A milestone nonetheless.

You could be really annoyed. You could be really proud of me. Either way, I think today ended up being pretty productive. My life has completely shifted from what I’ve always known to what I’ve always hated (that’s a blog in the making). So having a day that felt remotely encouraging, was nice. It was really nice. I’m going to go and read Hebrews now because I can’t get that book out of my head. I love you guys. This blog felt more like a letter. I like writing letters. Hmmm…

Strawberry Schmear.

Good morning you guys! Okay, so I generally don’t blog about food or anything pertaining to food, mainly because I don’t think you care what I eat but this recipe made my morning. Beside the fact that it’s my first off day in forever, I woke up at 7am……..7……AM……. Instead of going into a Hulk-like rage, I played with my unbearable transitioning hair and tried side-dish recipes.

Strawberry shmear is what I’ll call it. So, since I’ve been losing weight I’ve really tried to kick my bad eating habits in the face but I have 3 vices: 1. Pizza 2. Ice cream 3. Bagels , they’re literally my favorites in life but instead of completely doing away with them, I’ve been experimenting healthy ways to indulge. I’m rambling. Sorry. Okay, to the point. I had a whole wheat-cinnamon bagel for breakfast and instead of butter, cream cheese, or even honey, I did the following:

Blend together (I used a bullet)

-3 medium sized strawberries

-2 tsp of honey

-1 tsp of brown sugar

-1 tbs of skim or low-fat milk

SIMPLE RIGHT?!

Let it get pretty smooth, you want it to at least be thick enough to smear. This should be enough for one whole bagel, because I only ate half of mine, I just placed the rest in the fridge and plan to use it tomorrow for breakfast. Now, any health guru would probably tell you to steer away from bagels but like I said, I love them, so I’d rather work it until I feel like I’m strong enough to say good-bye. Oh bagels.

Hope you liked it. This blog is a lot different from my usual ones but food is good so I like to talk about it sometimes.