My favorite Cyber Monday deal EVER!

I love a good deal and I love it even more if I can snag it from the comfort of my couch. I’m a lover of online shopping, mostly because no one wants to see me at the store in my pajamas.

My favorite Cyber Monday deal this year is….

MY BOOK!!

You can preorder The Con Man’s Daughter today for only $8.92 and it will auto ship to you in May when it is released.

This is my heart and soul.
This is my how God takes all the broken pieces and makes beautiful stained glass.
This is my redemption song.

Click here to order one or ten 😉

Thank you for all the support and love.

The Con Man’s Daughter.

 

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I’m never going to be your mama, but…….

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I know I’m never going to be your mama. I know I won’t be the one sitting on the edge of your bed and asking about your new boyfriend or helping you study for your big test. I know I won’t be there to press a cool wash cloth to your forehead when you have the flu. I know I’m not your first mama — the one you loved so much who died too early and too suddenly for some of you and the one who was just a little girl herself and couldn’t handle the pain after your daddy was murdered and so she ran away. I know I don’t look like you and we don’t share the same beautiful brown skin that you wear so well. I know we don’t even speak the same language —- you with the Ateso words that drip from your tongue and your new, broken and adorable English.

In short….I know I’m not enough. I’m not enough to heal up those gaping wounds or fill the gaps that make you gasp in pain. I know, baby girl. And yet here I stand — offering all that I am. I don’t understand it anymore than you do. I don’t understand how when I met you for the first time, you crawled into my soul. I don’t understand how out of the thousands of Ugandan children that I know how you 6 beautiful girls have somehow become mine. I don’t understand why I love you with a mama’s love. I don’t understand the tears that fall down my cheeks even now as I write about you. But it’s true. It’s real. It might not be much and certainly not enough, but I offer you my mama heart to love you all of your days.

6 girls. Ranging in age from 7 to 16. All motherless.

Many months ago  I stood in an auditorium full of adoptive and foster parents who were lifting their hands in worship before their God, many of them openly weeping for the hard journeys they have walked and I began to silently weep. I had just gotten back from Uganda where I had been wrecked all over again. Many of you have read about the day Beatrice crawled into my soul and broke my mama heart….but now other girls were being added. I dropped to my knees and pressed my forehead against the chair in front of me as I wept for these 6 precious girls – these motherless ones who had lost too much in their young lives. These girls who were considered the heads of their households at ages where kiddos should be complaining about school work and not worrying about feeding their siblings. I wept for each of them and told God I didn’t understand this love I had for them. Love for Ugandans….that I understood. There are 7,615 of them in the program I run and I love every one of them fiercely. But this was different. This was a mama’s love. But that couldn’t be. I was not their mother and adoption isn’t even an option for them. And yet the love and the tears (because my dear, doesn’t love come with tears) continued. In that still small space between my gasping cries while I tried to catch my breath, I heard Him “You are their mother, Brandi. You are. They don’t have a mama and you are here. Why do you run from it? Will you choose to be a mama in ways that don’t make sense here on earth? Will you accept the mantle of motherhood? For these girls and for many, many more in many, many ways. The motherless are waiting for mothers to step into the gap.” My breath caught in my throat once again and tears came afresh as I offered my hands and my heart up to
my God and croaked out a quiet, “yes.”

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You see, I wonder if motherhood is so much bigger than I’ve ever thought. I’ve seen it expanded over the years already, but I wonder if I’m just scratching the surface of how big and beautiful motherhood really is? I birthed my first child nearly 12 years ago and I thought I understood the heart of a mama. My second child came along 20 months later, expanding that vision just a bit. 18 months after that, I welcomed a 2.5 year old into my heart and my home from a war-torn country. “Oh now I really get motherhood,” I thought. Experiencing motherhood as an adoptive mama taught me how I could easily love children another woman had borne.

But this? This is a whole new concept that is blowing my mind. It’s motherhood from a kingdom perspective.

Because we all need to be mothered. There are motherless all around us just begging to be mothered. Children and adults alike who never had a mama who could really, really mother them for one reason or another, who crave the ministry of motherhood. I remember hearing a friend of mine who had grown up with tremendous abuse and trauma tell me once, “Even at 40 years old, I wish I could be adopted. I just want to have a mom and dad so deeply. Is that silly?” NO! That’s not silly! It’s how we are made!!! The motherless of all ages around the world are asking with no words, but from the deepest, loudest places of their souls to be mothered. And it’s time we let motherhood break out of some boxes and stepped up to the plate.

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For me, offering my mama heart to the world and accepting the mantle of motherhood is going to look like choosing to love and be mama to 6 precious girls who will never live in my house. It will mean skype conversations when I’m in the US and snuggles in a hotel room bed on the weeks I am in Africa. It will mean me knowing that while I cannot offer much and certainly not enough, I can offer what I have. I can offer to love them fiercely, pray for them devotedly and do all I can to provide for Beatrice, Rhoda, Leah, Auma, Anyait and Mary. It will also mean mothering people when I walk women through their deepest trauma memories here in the US. It will mean sitting on my couch with grown women who may even be older than me and holding them and speaking to and loving on the little girl inside of them who needs to be spoken sweetly to.

This is what it looks like for me….but it may look different for you. This post may have stirred up in you a deep longing to be mothered. Oh sweet one, I wish I was sitting next to you and could hold you tight and speak gentle words to those wounded places. I pray God will provide a friend who will mother those places in your soul. For others, this post may have stirred your mama heart. You may or may not be a physical mama here on earth, but your mama heart – the heart in you that is created to reflect the image of God as mama (because he is both mother and father and in Him both exist). I encourage you to offer that mama heart to a hurting world. I don’t know what that
will look like or who He will bring you to mother, but I trust that when you offer what you have even when it feels like not much, it will make a kingdom difference. It might look different from you ever imagined, you might mother friends who are your own age or teenagers from your neighborhood or you might pursue the courageous adventure of becoming a foster mama (!) —I don’t know! No matter what, I wonder if you will accept the mantle of motherhood and offer His mother heart to the world.

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I little bit about Brandi Lea

Brandi Lea is a single mama to 3 amazing humans – 1 adopted from Liberia + 2 biological. She is the founder / executive director of 3 non-profits: She’s Worth It (a campaign to fight human trafficking), SoulCare (pouring into non-profit leaders) and Beauty for Ashes Uganda (working with single mamas across the Teso region of Uganda). She is absolutely passionate about promoting justice and championing value. She spends her days raising money for mamas in Uganda, encouraging non-profit leaders and walking with dear women who find themselves healing from trauma — all from the comfort of her home in beautiful Southern Colorado. She loves healing and fighting for beauty and hopes you will do the same.

Instagram: @brandilea + @beautyforashesuganda FB: Brandi Lea + Beauty for Ashes Uganda beautyforashesuganda.org + brandilea.me + soulcareretreats.org

I’ve never fully understood redemtption until my father took his own life.

 

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If you’ve never seen redemption, this is what it looks like.

I’ve never fully understood redemption until my father took his own life. What I thought he stole from us that day turned out to be a gift.
Because he made the choice to leave us behind on that rainy Monday, this precious little girl now lives in my home.

My husband and I have been given the gift of parenting my teenage sister. We’ve been blessed with loving her through her pain and watching as the corners of her mouth gradually sneak up to her cheeks to form a smile.

Her story was set to be told by a very different narrator.
The road she traveled on was rough terrain.

But redemption came that day.

God’s redeeming my story by allowing me to parent her in the absence of our father.
God’s redeeming her story by allowing her to get a daily glimpse of our father through my eyes.

If you’ve never seen redemption, this is what it looks like.

How a simple drink order completely wrecked my world.

We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.

Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.

The waitress approach in the middle of the thick and asked for our drink order.

Black coffee for me.

My sister asked for coffee and a chocolate milk.

That’s when my heart was torn in two, much like her drink order.

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The kid in her craved an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk, the kind we all cherished as kids.  I remember dumping heaping spoon full of Nestles Quick into my milk and stirring as fast I could, trying to get it all down before the remaining undissolved powder settled to the bottom.

My sister is a child. She was born when I was 23 yet my silliness and immaturity brings us to the same age. We overrule the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother and treat each other like sisters. She giggles like a kid, does crafts with her nieces and stays up late at night sharing secrets with my oldest daughter.

My sister is just a little girl. She likes her chocolate milk as cold as ice.

The adult in her likes her coffee hot with a side of cream. She needs the morning boost. It’s sometimes hard for her to face her day and she needs a cup of grace to get her through. She’s not like other kids her age. She’s seen more storms and treaded through taller weeds. She’s delicate when she pours her cream. It’s like sweet therapy.  I like my coffee black. I prefer nothing come between me and the fresh brewed goodness.

My sister is an adult child. She was born when I was 23 yet her boldness and maturity brings us to the same age. We have to sometimes remind ourselves that I’m old enough to be her mother and help her make choices only an adult is capable of. She spends hours in her room alone, painting with methodical strokes. She meets once a day with adults who have faced life in a similar way that she has.

My sister is walking a fine line on a fast track to adulthood. She likes her coffee hot with a swirl of sweetness.

My heart is torn in two for her. I want her to be a child. I want her to have a milk mustache that I have to tell her to wipe off. I want to correct her homework, fold her clothes, cook her dinner and watch her play in the yard. I want her to just be a kid but she can’t, the world has messed that up for her. The world has stolen from her, beat her up and knocked her down. But she’s got a little fight in her. She’s got resistance and spunk. She’s a little bit of a princess and a whole lot of a warrior.

My sister like her chocolate milk cold and her coffee hot and that shatters my heart into a million pieces.

I’ll always fight to keep the little in our kids. We’ve become a society that expects them to grow up so quickly, turning our little girls into teenagers long before their time. Turning our teenagers into adults extremely prematurely. Giving miles where we should only give inches. Letting go when we should covet just a little longer.

There’s no rush.

Let’s let them be kids, play with dolls, have bare faces and natural hair, unadorned with jewels and covered in age appropriate clothes. Let’s let them stay small and allow them the joys of just being a kid.

Let’s pray that their drink order stays an ice-cold chocolate milk for as long as we can.

Let’s keep the little in our kids.

Baptism, Divorce and why you don’t have to go to church!

I truly believe that I’m in church every day. I spend time with God every morning and I talk to someone about Jesus far more than once a day. I stand firm in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God is always with me. I am in constant “church” with people and spend many nights in fellowship with my friends each week. So daily church happens outside four walls of a building all the time.

But my church! My church feeds me. I crave the building and the people in it. I’m addicted to praising in the big room filled with my brothers and sisters. There’s nothing like standing with my people, arms raised high, my husband’s arm around my back and belting out praise to Jesus, no matter how off-key I am. I love to watch everyone scoot to the edge of their seats, preparing to soak up the message our pastor is about to deliver. Oh how I wish you could hear him deliver the Good News. It’s amazing!

You don’t have to go to church.
You can love God from where ever you are.
You can praise Jesus in your car, your home and even the shower.
You can gather with your friends and be the church in your back yard.

However, there can be great beauty in finding a church that you love and that loves you back. If you’re in San Antonio then meet me at Castle Hills Church, hold my hand and love on Jesus and others with me.Come meet my people. If you’re not then find a church that loves you. There can be so much that fills you up when you surround yourself with followers of Jesus. Wherever you church, do it big. Do it with abandonment. Do it with love. Just do it.

Here’s a little about how my church helped save my marriage and ultimately saved our lives. We almost surrendered ourselves to ending everything we had wished for, then God stepped in. He is the God of redemption and He is good.

Check it our here.

Candice Curry and Life Stories. 

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The day I testified against my father in court and how I was taught to stand in the gap.

“Mrs.Curry, isn’t it true that…”

I almost couldn’t believe that I was where I was. Sitting in the witness stand ,while my whole body shook violently, I calmly and honestly answered the question that my very own father presented to me in the middle of his custody hearing for my minor siblings. He represented himself in his custody case. Bad move.

The result of me being on the stand left my father with very little time with my siblings and every second of it supervised. I’m not happy about that but it had to be done. It was my responsiblity to protect them and they needed to be protected from our fathers mental and emotional abuse. It was one of the worst and best things I’ve ever done. After so many years of torture from my father, I was happy to take the chance away from him to do it to my siblings but he was still my dad and watching him struggle broke my heart.

The hardest part was the gap it left for the kids.

Growing up, I had the same gap.

My father was an abuser on many levels. Even though he never laid a hand on us, the mind games were just as painful. Those mind games and his in and out presence in my life left a gap. A gap where a father was supposed to be. A huge gap that presented pain and heartache that I would have otherwise never known.

But my life has been full of strong people and unbelievable blessings. I’ve always had people who have stepped in and stood in the gap.

My mom worked tirelessly to provide financially. She showed up at every school event. She made sure I was always smiling and did her best to keep me on the right track.She made sure I was a responsible person, had a good work ethic and was kind and compassionate.

She stood in the gap.

My brother made sure to do the things a father should have done.. He changed the oil in my truck, rebuilt the engine, changed the brake pads and more. He threw the hammer down on me when I was out of line and reminded me to stand up for myself in all circumstances. He comforted me through my pain on more than one occasion and stood up for me daily. He taught me how to be tough, helpful and funny

He stood in the gap.

I’ve been blessed with people who stand in the gap for me. People who stand in the gap of my father’s absence. People who show up and do whatever it takes to make sure I’m not only okay but that I thrive in life. People who pray for me when I’m too hurt to whisper my own prayers.

Now it’s my turn to stand in the gap where my father should be.

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My husband and I will stand in the gap for my 16-year-old sister and welcome her into our home as one of our own. We’ve made a promise to God that we will do our best to be an example of compassion and grace. We will do our best to provide tough love and discipline. We will insist that she just be kid and only have the responsibilities a child should have and nothing more.

We will have the discipline to stand in the gap.

We will provide dinner every night at 6 and breakfast every morning at 6:30.
We will provide a quiet place to do her homework and a safe place to sleep.
We will provide a guaranteed ride to school and promise to be waiting outside when the last bell rings.
We will provide smiles and hugs on a daily basis and firm words when needed.

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We will have the courage to stand in the gap.

We are family. This is what we are called to do. If only for the blink of an eye, a moment in time, we will be a solid rock for her to lean on.

We will have the strength to stand in the gap.

When she crumbles in sadness over our dad’s suicide, we will pull everything from us to remind her of the love he had for her and the love she has now through our family. When she cries for what has been stolen from her childhood, we will find a way to ease the pain. When she stumbles on the stones thrown in front of her, we will reach out our hands to catch her fall.

We will have the dedication to stand in the gap.

I had brave people in my life that, in all circumstance, stood bravely in the gap for me. Today I pray that we have what they had and can be brave enough to stand in the gap for my little sister.

We will stand in the gap.

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When A Hungry Girl Crawls Into Your Soul. Because Of Beatrice!

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Today Brandi is telling her story about Beatrice. Oh Brandi, I love you.

They wrapped her tightly to my back with fabric, like I was a real African mama. She didn’t know me from Adam and yet she snuggled her little face against my back and my heart soared with joy. I didn’t know in this moment what this little girl would do to my heart, how she would rip me open to a new depth of love and a new pain that would take my breath away.

Her name? Alaso Beatrice.

Even now, I whisper it with reverence and wonder if you will read it with the care it deserves. She is beyond special. She is the epitome of the Biblical phrase “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

After they placed her on my back for a few hours of good, solid African mama work – I slipped her out of the fabric and brought her to my hip to hold. It is here that I first saw her dimples. Dimples for days and a shy little smile that will make your heart soar. Oh, I was in love. Just like that. Head over heels.

Don’t get me wrong, I love fairly easily. I have a son adopted from Liberia, West Africa and, as any adoptive mama will tell you, it’s not as hard as some might think to love another child as your own. I have traveled to Uganda multiple times. I run a non-profit there (Beauty For Ashes Uganda – you can pause and go like it on FB if you need too ). I know what it is to love the Ugandan people and to have your heart fall a little more in love every time. But this? This was different from any time before.

This hungry little girl crawled into my soul and settled there, staring up at me with her dimples, shy smile, and sparkly eyes. My soul felt something that can only be called holy and sacred.

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I spent the rest of my day in her village, Odukai, with her on my hip. She was my little shadow. We worked together and I snuggled into her little neck, sending her into fits of giggles whenever I had the chance. I painted her little nails, along with 100 others, and watched the little girls beam at their new pretty hands and feet. I even left her dig through my backpack, looking for snacks. I shared my banana with her and handed her any food that was handed to me.

After we spent time in the garden, digging up the cassava and piling it all together for all of us mamas to peel, I set Beatrice down next to me. She immediately reached for the sharpest blade she could find and I gasped, “Oh sweet girl, little ones shouldn’t play with knives.” She looked at me, a tad incredulous and grabbed a piece of cassava and quickly peeled it. The other mamas laughed and one leaned over to me and said, “It looks like she’s been preparing her own meals for a while.”

I sat back stunned ~ in both wonder and heartbreak. Beatrice is four. Four-year-olds shouldn’t play with knives…not just because it’s not safe, but because four-year-olds shouldn’t be responsible for their own meals. Littles shouldn’t know how to peel
cassava, or anything else, because they should be too busy playing to worry about making sure their bellies are fed.

Beatrice is four, but she’s the size of a two-and-a-half-year-old. Just a little peanut that fits perfectly on my hip or snuggled into my back or on my chest for a quick little nap.

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As best as we can put together her story, here’s what we believe has happened: Beatrice’s sweet mama was just a young teenager when she had her first babe. Five years later, Beatrice was born. Sometime when Beatrice was a babe, her father was poisoned and her mama ran away. Beatrice and her sister went to live with their grandma. Grandma, however, had late stage AIDS and was not doing well. From what her great aunt told us, at this point, Beatrice almost starved to death. This thought alone is so unimaginable to me that I can barely write the words. The one who my heart adores almost starved to death, while my babies beg for snacks every hour and eat until their tummies are more than full every single day. A mzungu (white person) came along and took her to a hospital or care center of some sort for a time, nursing her back to health before bringing her back to Grandma.

Now, Grandma lives in Odukai village. She is still very, very sick and can’t work. From what we have heard, Beatrice lives there along with a few other kids (possibly 10 total). Since Grandma can’t work, the kids go from house to house (mud hut to mud hut) asking neighbors for food or if they can have a piece of cassava. No worries, they can peel it themselves. Sometimes, they find enough food. Sometimes they don’t. A mama from the village told Rita (our field director) that sometimes Beatrice sleeps on the path on the way back home because she’s so weak.

The day I heard this news, I was on my way to a meeting at Chick-fil-A. I got into line and when the young man asked for my order, I wept. Here I was, eating lunch while Beatrice went hungry.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with a heart that weeps over the hungry. Every night when my family sits down to pray over our dinner, I get choked up, “Father, thank you for this food. Please provide for those who are hungry. Amen.” And my children and I look at each other and whisper, “especially Beatrice.” All I know is that this heart, this broken, weeping heart of mine cannot stop at crying for the hungry. If I simply cry that there are children who are hungry, I will have done nothing to ease their hunger. My tears over their trauma must move me to action.

Here’s what I know: I know that Beatrice lives in Odukai village. We are asking the mamas of our women’s cooperative in Odukai to “adopt” Beatrice’s Grandma and allow her into their cooperative even though she has very little to offer to the group. We are brainstorming what needs to be done for Beatrice and the other children who live with Grandma. We may treat their family like we do the “child headed
households” in our program and provide food for them every month. While we agree that mamas should be empowered and given the tools to feed themselves, we do not believe that children should have to work.

So here’s the plan to help make that happen!

I want to help Beatrice’s whole village in her name. The precious mamas of Odukai Peace Group (the name they have given their cooperative of 45 single mamas and widows) need to send their kids to secondary and vocational school and can’t afford it themselves. They need another $1099 to send their kids to school on June 15th ($40 for secondary school, $100 for vocational school). They also have another 6 kids that want to start University in August — at a cost of $500 per student. So $1099 is due June 15th and another $3000 is due August 1st.

Do you think we could come together and help the kids in Beatrice’s village in her name? I want to be able to go to Odukai and tell the mamas that because of our sweet little Beatrice, people all across the world rose up to help her village.

My hope is to endear our sweet little Beatrice to every mama in that group so they will want to rise up and help even more! Do you think we can do it? Would you join me? For Beatrice. To honor her and the pain she has gone through and to bring blessing from that horror?

You can donate at www.beautyforashesuganda.org Put “because of Beatrice” in your comments. Total, for all of the children in our program, we still have to raise $6,856 — so please note in your comments what you would like your money to go towards if Odukai is covered. It can go towards the other school children, or to the fund to help Beatrice’s family and others like hers.

**PS: I promise to tell you what we find out about our little Beatrice and her family and what our staff decides is the best way to help. Together, we will make sure this sweet little precious one doesn’t go hungry again.

If you’d like to share these stories or photos, please do so only with the intent to allow others a window to this world and to allow their tears an opportunity to make a difference. You can use #beacauseofBeatrice if you would like.

Shattered glass and baby proofing.

Today I’m over at Reveal Ministry talking about baby proofing and shattered glass.

“It could be so many different things that leave us shattered, believing we can never be whole again. Our cracks never look like anyone else’s and we feel alone. There’s a silence in thinking no one could possibly understand the pain you have from your own shattered glass. Their feet aren’t bleeding from walking on the sharp-edged shards.”

Check it out here

 

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Why I Choose To Have An Affair.

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An Affair by definition is a sexual relationship, a romantic friendship or passionate attachment between two people.

My husband and I have been married for 9 years. I’ve been having an affair for over four years now. Had I known how wonderful it was going to be I would have done it years before. I’m happier and healthy because of it and I’m not ashamed.

Many years ago I was sitting in a bible study and the man speaking told the room full of ladies “Have an affair with your husband or someone else will”. That ran through my head for days. I knew he was right but kids were tugging at my skirt, the bank account was beyond tight and both my husband and I were at our jobs more than we were in front of each other. I was tired. I put the kids first, myself and my marriage last and lost all sense of why my husband and I married each other in the first place.

In 2010 our marriage crashed like an airplane that lost both its engines mid-flight. While picking up the pieces of the wreckage we discovered our black box, the heart of the matter, the secrets of the cockpit. Through that I realized that I wasn’t a good wife. I had been a great mom, I was confident in that, but I fell extremely short in the wife department. I failed at being a good and strong wife who put her husband first and let him lead the family.

So I started having an affair.

I’m not going to lie, it took effort at first but after a while became second nature.

I began an affair with my own husband 4 years ago and it changed our lives.

We had let our marriage slip and our focus went to treading water in an effort to keep our heads up and not drown in all the hits life had for us.  So we made a choice to turn our focus back to each other and all the reasons we fell in love in the first place.  We began an affair with each other. We rebuilt our sexual relationship, romantic friendship and passionate attachment to each other.

He rubbed my back and played with my hair without me begging. We held hands everywhere we went which seems so simple but surprising how quickly you can lose it. We kissed, and not just a goodbye peck but truly kissed each other and meant it. Even a goodbye peck was held a few seconds longer and began to mean so much more. We said I Love You and not just because it was part of the script but to truly remind the other where we stood with each other. We talked. We talked about everything and anything no matter how much it hurt.

We stopped letting the children rule the house and our schedule.  Date nights became more frequent and more private. We no longer met up with friends when we had a kid free night. Instead we went to places were we could focus on each other and each other only. We sat in corner booths in dark quiet restaurants, looked each other in the eye and reconnected. We took our marriage back and made it top priority because its crucial in a family. If the marriage fails, the family fails.

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We love these little people but they no longer control our house.

When my husband and I started having an affair with each other, we restored our sexual relationship and our passionate attachment to each other. We not only loved each other again but we liked each other too.

All the relationships in our lives matter and take work but our marriage is by far the most important to continue to grow and nurture.  My marriage is the heartbeat of my family, its health is vital. Getting married was easy and fun but maintaining a strong and successful marriage takes hard work, sacrifice and extreme dedication. When I said my vow of for better or worse I meant it. I didn’t take the vow of for better or bail if things get painful.

The most important change we made when our affair started is to put God in the center of our marriage and our lives. Without Him as our firm foundation we were simple standing on shifting sand. He makes all things new and beautiful. He heals the broken-hearted. He restores our lives and wipes away our sins. He is our redeemer.

I won’t lie and say that everything is my home is perfect and that my husband and I never have low moments but I will say that with God and our renewed sense of who we are together, we are stronger than we’ve ever been.

A story of courage, faith and grace in the face of cancer. Channel’s story of bravely living God’s plan for her life.

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I took a deep breath in and exhaled as strong as I could and for as long as my lungs would allow. I watched the virtual candle flicker on the screen as she released her breath into the machine attached to the computer. I desperately wanted the air in my lungs to make up for what her’s had somehow come to lack.

Running track had become difficult for her and gymnastics wore her out so here we were trying to find a reason for the pounding in her chest. As the doctor spoke to me I found myself making long and labored efforts to fill my body with oxygen. It’s strange how our bodies react to what is mentally weighing on us.

At that moment I would have traded my lungs for hers. Give her mine, they work perfectly. I’ll take hers. She’s was only 13 and deserved the good set.

Jordan’s mom and dad weren’t able to take her to the doctor that day so I gladly volunteered. That day would be the first time I would meet her mom. She and I met and talked about the diagnosis of chronic asthma then went over every pill and every inhaler that had been prescribed in her child’s name. We respectfully looked each other in the eyes and carefully went over every detail. I talked while she took notes.

That’s how I met Channel, sitting in the kitchen discussing her daughter’s diagnosis.

Now, over 11 years later, that sweet girl  and her mother are facing another diagnosis and finding themselves taking deep breaths in an effort to understand how they got here and what comes next.

Radiation 10-2014

I want to share Channel’s story with you and ask you to take a minute to pray for her, her family and all the medical staff that will care for her. On Monday she will learn the results fo her latest scans and what she is up against. The prayer is always for miraculous healing but they’d settle for no new spots or growth in the current ones. She is a wife to Tommy and a mommy to Jordan, Weston, Korbyn and Tatum. She’s a daughter and a sister. She is the child of the One True King. Please join us in prayer today and continue to pray for this family.

her babes 9-29-14

First chemo treatment after relapse

On October 18th, 2013 Channel was diagnosed with non-small cell adenocarcinoma and has since faced things in her life that she never expected.

Her story is one of amazing faith and a true testament of someone who is bravely facing God’s plan for her life. I have no idea how I would face what she has had to face medically and mentally but I hope that I would somehow find as much faith as she has and be an example to everyone who knows her and many that have never met her. Through this Channel has touch lives of people that she has never met and shown a courage that people strive for. She hasn’t hidden her fears but has taken great efforts to put her faith first. No one wants to go through what she has and will physically go through but she knows these things are ultimately temporary and that God gave her this test so that she would have a testimony. Channel is facing her test and telling her testimony so that others can find strength in their trials. She is letting God use her the way He planned and instead of rejecting Him and being angry, she is giving thanks and courageously following His plan.

Channel shaved

Goofy shaved (1)

Here’s Channel’s story told through the eyes of that 13-year-old little girl who is now a 24-year-old amazing woman, daughter and sister.

Jordan takes deep breath in and exhales as strong as she can and for as long as her lungs will allow. She faces the doctors and diagnosis while embracing her mother’s hand in her own. She desperately wants the air in her lungs to make up for what her mom’s have somehow come to lack. At this moment Jordan would trade her lungs for her moms. She’ll take hers. Give her mine, she thinks, they work perfectly.  She’s the mom and needs the good set.

Shaved -Jordan Channel

Channel’s story through her daughter: My mom was sick off and on the beginning of 2013, she would feel bad then get a little better. She had gone on a trip to Costa Rica with Tommy mid July and had a blast! Shortly after this trip she started feeling bad again. Things just started going way down hill and doctors could not figure it out.

All of her Doctors were doing what they could to figure out what was wrong and one of the things that was done was a spinal tap – my mom got the headache from the procedure and went into the ER to have a blood patch done. While she was waiting for her blood patch one of the nurses came in and did a chest x-ray, we thought that was procedure and didn’t think of it. The results came back and she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics and we went on our way. During the next two weeks she was extremely sick – she saw another doctor that convinced us this was a fungus in her lungs (this included being in the hospital 7 days) so again she was on meds but this time it was worse.
During that time she lost 20 lbs, fainted at one point that put bruises all down her body and felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest.

That is when she ended up back in the ER – that night a few things happened. One of her nurses recognized her and told us after she had left the ER last time they realized an error on their part – the chest x-ray that was done was not ordered for her but for another patient in the ER. This was no error – God knew exactly what he was doing! Thank you nurse for making an “error”! Major GOD WINK! Of course the nurses and ER doctor wanted to admit her into the hospital but she argued that she wasn’t staying unless someone would figure out what was wrong with her. She was so tired of being in the hospital with no real results, so that is exactly what they did.

She was introduced to Dr. Ulmer, her oncologist, and his team who have been such a blessing – we all are so sure that Dr. Ulmer is exactly who God picked for my mom. And by the next day, October 18th, 2013 she was diagnosed with non-small cell adenocarcinoma. The diagnoses was the most terrifying thing I had ever heard in my life. My mom has never smoked a day in her life – HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN??????? We were so happy to hear her PET scan came back and that the cancer was only in her lungs! She went on to have half her lung removed on November 1, 2013, and then chemo started. All went as well as I think it could have being this Is the first time ive ever seen someone go through this.

Fast forward to March 2014 and she was officially IN REMISSION!! She went to her 3 month check up and HALLELUJIA she was still in remission. It was when Dr Ulmer called on September 18th after her 6 month check up that our world came crashing down once again – but worse. This time not only was the cancer back in her lungs but it had spread to her brain. WHY? WHY? WHY? Luckily, surgery was an option. We met her surgeon Dr. Bogaev who is absolutely amazing and two days later she had surgery to remove the two largest tumors located at the front of her brain. There are two more spots, one on the back of her brain and one at the top. She had one week of cyberknife radiation for the spot on her lung and one week for the two spots on her brain as well as the “bed” where the tumors had been that were removed. She is getting chemo once every three weeks for 4-6 months and then will be put on a ‘maintenance chemo’ regimen. Mama C completely secluded herself from everyone when she found out it had spread to her brain. She just knew she was going to die and she didn’t want to be around anyone. Thankfully, she has come out of that funk and has been more social and inviting to all of her friends and family. So far she has had two treatments of chemo – this makes her sick for about a week but then she has two weeks of feeling a little better! (so thankful for this) The radiation made her bald in certain spots which meant she ended up shaving her head.

Jordan’s heart: This is extremely hard, overwhelming, sad, confusing, hurtful to me. I feel so sad and mad and I do not understand any of it. The hardest part is watching her fight through this. I see how much she is struggling and it completely breaks my heart. I hate seeing my mom like this and I hate wondering every day how much more time I have with her. The selfish side of me wants her here forever. I want her to be here when I get engaged and when I get married and I want my kids to have a Cici. I want that for me but I also want that for her so bad!!! I think this is so unfair and I want someone to give me an explanation!!!!!! I have had my moments of being mad at God but I’ve truly put my trust in Him. I believe that He has a purpose around this and I believe that He will not only get her through this but me and everyone else too. My biggest prayer is that my mom be present. I want her to be able to spend time with us kids without thinking about everything else that’s going on. It is so hard to be in this situation without thinking about the word CANCER in every single thing you do. ITS DISGUSTING. I also pray that this helps people get through their struggles. When you write about things I may not be going through or have gone through that exact thing but it helps me!!!

prayer group before surgery

Channel has chosen to live her life with purpose. She does her best to teach the rest of us to love while we can, forgive while we can, hug our family while we can and to carry out God’s will for our lives with courage and faith. Even in her weakest moments she continues to remind us how worthy and brave we all are and encourages people to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy at her gym aMAZEn Boot Camp.  Today we can honor her by facing each day with grace and mercy for others, love everyone and forgive everything.

In Channels words,

“Love you all big! Muah!”

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