Rotel made me cry…

Yes, that’s what happened today. Rotel made me cry. Not because it was spicy, or got in my eye, or any other thing my clumsy self could accomplish, but because of a random memory that it brought crashing to the forefront of my mind.

My Mama was a great cook. I try, but i’m no comparison to her, even when using her recipes (kinda makes me mad, but what can I do). She made this Chicken Spaghetti that was DIVINE. Whenever I wanted to make it, I would always call her while standing in the store, staring at the different spiced Rotels, and ask which one she used that was always just the perfect amount of heat. Literally. Every. Time. I could never for the life of me remember. This morning, I was thinking about making some chicken spaghetti tonight, running through the ingredients in my mind, and making a list of what I didn’t have. I didn’t have Rotel. No stinkin’ Rotel. Then, I thought, “Well, i’ll just call Mama real quick (for the 100th time) to see what she uses”, and remembered that I couldn’t. I can’t call my Mama. I can’t ever call Mama to ask about which Rotel she used again. I broke, y’all. I broke down over a can of Rotel. It’s embarrassing to admit, and as we’ve established, I’m an emotional hot mess, but crying over Rotel. Really?! There are pictures of her everywhere. I think about her constantly, but this, THIS is going to get me today. It was just one of those things that hit me out of nowhere, and y’all, I folded like a lawn chair.

I’m sharing this random, slightly embarrassing story with you to say this, if you’ve lost someone, you’re going to have a “Rotel moment”.  You’ll have those days where its all normal and you’re just going along with your day, and something will slam into you like a truck. It’s okay. It’s not crazy. You’re not too emotional, or being a baby. You’re being human. You’re being reminded of a piece of your life that’s missing, even by something as simple as a can of Rotel. Have your moment. Talk to someone about it. Talk to me about it if you have no one else. Lord knows I have no room to judge anyone’s breakdown moments. Then keep going. Do the next thing. Think of that next ingredient you need for your recipe and move forward. As I’ve said before, I have an awesome support system, and the piece of advice I got today while sharing my crazy that helped the most was, “You are not crazy. One day, buying Rotel will make you smile because it will remind you of the conversations you had when you had to call her over what kind to get. Today is not that day, but it will come.”

One day, whatever your Rotel is will be a happy memory. One day we’ll smile over things that still make us cry right now. One day, we’ll be a little more okay than we are today. Don’t rush yourself. Grief is an emotion, that while shared by all at some point in our lives, is totally unique to each individual. Cry over your Rotel today, and remember one day, you’ll smile about it. Don’t lose hope. Don’t feel bad about yourself, and always remember, it’s okay to not be okay, just don’t stay there.

Love always,

Cody Jill

National Infertility Awareness Week

So, we get our own week to celebrate being infertile, right!! Just kidding. This week is all about AWARENESS. So many women suffer from infertility for so many different reasons. Some choose to keep it quiet, while others are more open and vocal about their struggles. I respect both choices immensely. It’s up to you how to deal with what you are going through. I just thought I’d share some facts about some of the reasons i’ve dealt with personally, or seen loved ones go through, some thoughts with you about why i’m so open about it, how it’s affected my family and friends, and hopefully some tips for you and those you love who don’t know as much about what living the infertile life is like.

Here are some basic facts about infertility, just to give you an overall glimpse of how many women are actually affected by this: Infertility means after one year of trying, women are still unable to get pregnant. If the woman is over 35, it’s reduced to 6 months. About 10% of women ages 15-44 have difficulty getting or staying pregnant. That is 6.1 million women, y’all. I didn’t just make these stats up. Go to https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/infertility for some more interesting facts.

PCOS: The reasons behind infertility are also vast. 1 in 10 women, like me, suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Some, like me, have cysts covering their ovaries. I’ve seen my ultrasounds, and it literally looks like a string of pearls lining both ovaries. While it is a “treatable disease” just like anything else, treatments don’t always work. It calls for medicines, shots, more medicines, and total life overhauls. We have been treating and trying for 5 years now. I don’t ovulate. I’ve tried medicines to make me ovulate, which according to my bloodwork, one actually worked, but after 8 months we still hadn’t gotten pregnant. Not to mention all the other lovely things that come with a PCOS diagnosis. Here are just a few: Irregular menstrual cycle (I average about 6-8 a year), too much hair in places that normally only men grow hair because of the testosterone given off by all the cysts on our ovaries, acne (i’m 32 and STILL suffering with acne), some have thinning hair and male pattern baldness, weight gain and difficulty losing weight (raising both hands here), diabetes, high blood pressure (check), unhealthy cholesterol (check), sleep apnea (check), depression and anxiety (double check with both hands raised which also means, you guessed it, more meds), migraines and headaches from the hormonal imbalances (raising both hands and feet here, and again, more meds), and can even lead to endometrial cancer. These aren’t even all of them, on top of being infertile. It’s not easy, y’all, and 1 out of 10 women suffer from this.

Endometriosis: It’s a common health problem in women, affecting more than 11% of women of childbearing age. Endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of your uterus and on other areas in your body where it doesn’t belong. Some symptoms include immense pain during cycles, pain during and after intercourse, intestinal pain, pain during bowel movements, and intestinal problems. In short, it causes lots and lots of pain in a lot of different ways. Pain, y’all. Plus, it can make getting pregnant extremely difficult. I’ve seen first hand with a loved one what it can do to you, and it’s not something to write off and dismiss. It has real and lasting effects, and can lead to multiple surgeries to remove it, because it keeps coming back.

These are just two of so so many reasons, people. Two that i’ve dealt with personally either by having it myself, or watching one of the closest people in my life deal with. I’ve also had dear friends that have or are dealing with Secondary Infertility. Just because, by the grace of God, you had one child, does not mean you can easily have another. People have such misconceptions about this and it is so hurtful for those dealing with secondary infertility. First of all, you don’t know what they might have gone through to have the first child, and secondly, don’t make rude comments like, “Well you had one, why haven’t you, can’t you, don’t you, or why wait so long to have another?” Nobody needs to hear that mess. You don’t know everyone’s story. That goes for all women who may seem like they’ve waited a long time to conceive, or haven’t done it fast enough for society’s standards, or have miscarried and not gotten pregnant again yet. You. Have. No. Idea. So, just don’t make comments like that to people, it’s just rude. Some men deal with infertility too, not just their wives, but they may be part or all of the reason a baby hasn’t happened yet, so just keep that in mind. OK, i’ll get off that soapbox 🙂

Infertility affects a lot of women, as I’ve said many times so far. People you know may be dealing with it, and they just aren’t open about it. I chose to be. That was based on decisions made by me and the Hubs because we hope that our story can help someone not feel so alone, or lacking because they can’t, or just seeing that the range of emotions are not abnormal. We all feel them. I have a wonderful support system in my Hubs, family, and friends. They know what we have and are going through. They respect us and are sensitive to how it feels. I’ve mentioned in posts before, I may be considered slightly emotional/dramatic, but just slightly :), so hiding my feeling about certain situations was difficult for me. It just made things easier for us both to be open with those we love about it, not only so I wouldn’t have to feel like I was holding so much in at times (you can only hide so much crazy), but because we now have the specific prayers and support we need from those that love us most. They know they don’t have to tiptoe. They know a hug, or and I love you on certain days are just what I need, and we know we aren’t in this alone.

Personally, we decided to come off meds for a while and just live without the pressure of tracking ovulation and worrying about all the doctor visits, test, and you guessed it, medications. Since my sweet Mama passed a year ago, we really felt I needed time to process and get myself in order before we added the extra stress back in to the mix. People may not understand. I’m 32, 33 in November, and yes I know I’m not getting any younger, but we felt this was just right for us right now, and I don’t regret it. It’s been good for us to just getting back to life and finding my new normal without my biggest supporter by my side. Honestly, we have prayed and questioned whether we are meant to have kids at all, and if we still want to go back to trying soon. God, hears our prayers, and we have no doubt he’ll lead us to that answer when the time is right. Until then, i’m going to be the best, coolest, favorite aunt and godmother to my babies that I love like my own.

People don’t realize the emotional, physical, and mental stress this puts on people dealing with infertility. Sometimes, I see a pregnancy announcement, and it’s a literal kick in my stupid cyst covered ovaries before I can feel happy for them, and other times, I can scroll right past and feel just happiness for them. Sometimes I feel like I still have plenty of time, and other times I think i’m going to be the team grandma when my kids grow up because most of the mothers will probably be in their early twenties, or younger, and i’ll be in my late thirties by that point. Sometimes, I see these precious babies out and about and want it so bad it hurts, and then I go down the next aisle in the store and see a kid laying on the ground pitching a big one because they want the chocolate cereal, and i’m secretly relieved that isn’t me. It’s a crazy, messed up, whirlwind y’all. Please don’t judge me. I just want others dealing with this to know they aren’t bad people or crazy for having mixed emotions and feelings about what they’re dealing with.

If you know someone who is dealing with infertility, or even if you don’t know they are, just be mindful of what you say to women in general about pregnancy. Don’t remind them they aren’t getting any younger. Don’t tell them to relax and it’ll happen (you might get throat punched, just warning you). Don’t tell them some people just aren’t meant to be parents (yes, i’ve been told that). Don’t ask every week at church if they’re pregnant yet, or what they are waiting on. Don’t expect that everytime they show up unannounced or call you out of the blue that it’s because they’re pregnant. It could be other great news for them that they want to share, and you just blew their happiness about it out of the water by saying what you thought it was. Just be mindful, be respectful, and be loving.

Some do’s for all those who truly want to support their loved ones: Give them a hug on hard days. Tell them you’re praying for them. Tell them you love them. Give them a little extra support through text or calls when you know they’re down. You don’t even have to mention or know exactly what’s wrong or why you’re doing it. They’ll know, and appreciate your thoughtfulness. If they open up to you about how they’re feeling, they’re not expecting you to have all the answers or great advice, they probably just need you to listen and empathize with their struggle. Just be there for them.

Since it is National Infertility Awareness week, i’d love to get video or written testimonials from any of you who are dealing with infertility, in whatever form, and share them this week. Just message me on my facebook page, and we’ll come up with a plan. I’m going to go deeper into my story one day this week, either by video on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jesusandcoffee30/, or another post. I’m typically better at writing than speaking, but we’ll see what I feel led to do. Let’s make this not such a secret or embarrassing thing for women to deal with. Let’s spread awareness, and hopefully, love for those who are dealing. If you need someone to talk to privately, don’t hesitate to message me. I’m no expert, i’m just along for the ride myself, but i’d love nothing more than to be there for you.

Love always,

Cody Jill

The fastest and slowest year of my life…

It’s crazy to think how time can pass so quickly and so very slowly at the same time. It happens with many things in our lives. Marriages that seem like yesterday are suddenly celebrating seven year anniversays (while at the same time it seems like you’ve been putting up with them for 70 years, love you Hubs). Christmas as a kid seems forever away, but as an adult it comes and suddenly six days later its like its Christmas again. Trying to start a family and feeling like a month is so long to wait to take that test, and suddenly when its time your freaking out because how has it been a month already. Grief and loss have seemed to work this way for me as well. It’s been one entire year since I lost my sweet Mama. One whole year since I saw her gorgeous smile in person, heard her say Cody Jill, had her hug me and tell me how much she loves me, been able to hug her back, touch her, talk to her. This has been the longest year of my life, but at the same time, somehow its gone by. I don’t know if it seems faster because it honestly feels like life can’t really keep going without someone so important to you in it, but it still does. Life keeps going, even with the big void you feel with someone missing from everyday things. It took months before I stopped picking up my phone every morning to text her and check on her. I still to this day hear things or have things happen and my first thought it is, “I’ve gotta tell mama about this!”, only to remember I can’t, and it breaks my heart all over again. This is a year I honest to goodness did not know, and for a time, did not care if I survived. I did though. If I can say one thing about the past year, its honestly that I survived. It wasnt, and still isn’t easy. I still cry most days. I still try to call her most days. I still send her messages on FB messenger just to feel like i’m talking to her. I still spend lots of time at her grave and talk to her just because it was the last place I saw her physical body.

This year has taught me a lot. I called mama for her opinion on everything, once I couldn’t, I became more independent and decisive out of necessity. I learned that somethings I thought I wasn’t really paying attention to or wouldn’t remember, I do. How to handle some things on my own, because she and I had to a lot with dad working out of town. I do or say things and think, that sounds just like my mama. I love those moments. I can remember her voice so clearly in those moments, and what she looked like when she would say or do them. Her life is a legacy that lives on through me and others. She touched so many, and so very many people love and miss her. It’s hard to believe i’ve survived a year without my very best friend in the entire world, but sometimes I can still feel her in things I do. I still hear her opinions on things. I remember her everytime I see a hibiscus or a hummingbird. I take peace and comfort in knowing how much better off she is now than she was when she was so sick. She is happy and whole. She kept a prayer box by her bed where she would write her prayers and then write when they were answered. In this box, I found where she had written about her cancer coming back. I wrote the answer for her, and that picture is included in this post. I pray she is happy and whole. I pray she can’t see how much we have suffered without her. I pray she is nothing but laughter and light as she worships our Savior face to face. I pray when I get there, the first thing she does is give me a huge hug and say, “I’ve been waiting for you, Cody Jill.” Cancer may have taken her earthly body, but she lost no battle. She’s with Jesus and that’s not losing any battles. Her verse through all this was Matthew 9:22 “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” Her faith made her whole, and even though we are still feeling the huge loss, she wasn’t whole here with us anymore.
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Mama, I love you more than all the sand in all the oceans, and I know that I’ll see you again one day. Happy first anniversary of your home going. I know its been more amazing than we can even imagine.

Love always,

Cody Jill

Is this crap storm EVER going to end? Is this my life?

Y’all…just bare with me a minute before you high tail it out of here just because of the title. Yes, it is negative. No, it is not the least bit encouraging. You know what is though? The answer to those two very dramatic, (Hi, my name is Cody, and I’m dramatic) questions. If we are being honest with ourselves, at some point, a version of one or both of those questions has gone through our minds, or if you’re like me (again…I’m a teensy bit dramatic) even come out of your mouth. At the time, in that awful place we seem to be stuck in like the rice I can’t get out of my Instant Pot (don’t ask), these questions seem completely valid. Sometimes, things are difficult. Sometimes, things go beyond what we think we can take. Sometimes, things just suck. Sometimes, they seem to stay that way. I get it. Like I get it on a deep deep level. This past year, it totally and completely sucked. Just being honest, or in my Hubs words during some of his sermons, let me be transparent with you. This has been, by far, the worst and most difficult year of my entire life. I didn’t know what pain was until this year. I didn’t truly know what being at the very end of my rope was until this year. In fact, it’s taken me a year to even be able to write this post, and i’m still afraid of how it’s going to come out, but I know it needs to. I feel it in my soul that it can be used for His greater good, even if it’s only one person that is helped. You, whoever you are, I see you, I feel you, and I love you.

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, my sweet Super Mom was battling cancer for the second time. This time last year, she had lost over 70 pounds. This time last year, she couldn’t get up and down without help. This time last year, she couldn’t walk without a walker. She couldn’t eat. She had episodes of manic confusion, and amounts of time she had no memory of. I stayed with her a whole day and decorated her Christmas tree for her, and then the next time she saw it, she had no idea how it had gotten put up and decorated. Witnessing a loved ones suffering, and not being able to fix it, is like a thousand razor blades tearing through your body. This time last year, on April 4th, the day before her 57th birthday, we got the news that she had very little time left. A couple of months, if we were lucky. The cancer had spread like wildfire, and the radiation and chemo weren’t touching it. Twelve days after we got the bomb of how little time she had left, she passed away. She went to Heaven with her loved ones gathered around her, and the very last thing she did on this earth was throw both hands straight up in the air, reaching for the Lord she loved who was calling her home. Then, just like that, she was gone.

Lots of you reading this knew her before she was sick, knew the woman that she was my whole life. My Mama had always been a force to be reckoned with. She was kind, giving, independent, and the only thing she loved more than her family was her Savior. Praise God for that. She lived her testimony throughout her life, and especially throughout this whole battle, right up to the end. She trusted Him. I wish I could say I was as strong as her. I wish I could say I handled myself in ways that would have made her proud, but I can’t honestly say that. Somehow, life seemed to move on for others, and I was sitting there watching it, wondering how everyone could be so ok, when I was dead inside. I’ve dealt with chronic anxiety, depression, and migraines for almost twenty years. It was nothing compared to the pit I fell in to after my Mama was gone. It was so many overwhelming emotions, that I became numb. Completely and totally numb. I never knew pain and depression until it was mixed with the grief of losing my best friend for my whole life. The depression and migraines got worse, the bitterness at God was overwhelming. I didn’t understand how so many of us had prayed, begged, and pleaded for her healing for so long for her to still die. I didn’t want to do anything. Living life and being happy seemed like it would be an insult to the beautiful life that was now gone. Nine months after we lost Mama, my precious Paw Paw, her daddy, passed as well. In less than a year, i’d lost the two people who’d instilled everything I am in me. The whole time, throughtout those nine months after Mama, the questions kept circling. Is this crap storm of my life ever going to end? Is this feeling of emptiness, and bitterness, and complete lack of understanding going to be my life now? How do I keep going, when I know that there is now a huge void in everything I do where my Mama should be? How do you enjoy big moments, when the one person who’d been my biggest supporter in every single one was now missing. Then, her birthday came on April 5th of this year. Her first one in Heaven. She’d have been 58, and up until she got sick, she didn’t look a day over 40. Most people thought we were sisters. The day after her birthday was a lot like what it felt like about a week after she died. Lots of kinds words, well wishes, happy heavenly birthdays, a few wishing her many more birthdays, but we won’t get in to how THAT made me feel. Then, the day after, it was back to that feeling again. Reliving her death. Everyone living their life and going about their day like my world hadn’t just exploded with pain all over again. I know no one understands the pain unless they’ve dealt with loss, and i’m not throwing myself a pity party, but its just hard you know. It’s hard to think of life just moving on as normal, when it will never be normal again. I’m blessed with friends that let me vent and helped me through both her birthday and the day after. Today is better. I can think of more happy memories today. Anyway, back to the dramatic questions we were talking about before. We have to go back in time a little for this.

I recieved my answers to the title questions in two different ways. I was lying in bed, sick with a migraine and completely depressed and uncaring if I ever left my bed again. However, even through my running away and bitterness, God gave me this thought, “How would she feel about you wasting your life because she’s in paradise now? You are still here, and you’re wasting life and time after a precious one was taken home. Live for her. She showed her strength, and you have it too. Show it. Live it.” Talk about a wake up call. A literal slap in the face, kick in the teeth wake up call. She’d be furious with me. She’d tell me she raised me better than this. She’d tell me she didn’t stay strong and faithful to the end for that strength to end with her. That was not long before my Precious Paw Paw passed, and it helped me to deal with his passing with a little more grace than I had before. He too was a devoted servant of God. He had lived through more than most of us ever could, and if you asked him on his worst days how he was, he’d grin and say, “I’m doing good.” He knew, and often told us, he was a winner either way.

My second answer to those questions came just a few days ago. It was getting closer to April 5, her birthday, and April 16, the day she passed a year ago. I have been super emotional, and letting my thoughts get the best of me again. I have an old wooden ammo box that I bought (Trade Day for the win) and painted blue that I have lots of her things in in my living room. Its my treasure chest of her. For the first time in almost a year, I felt the ability and the need to go through it. Her bible is in there, and as I flipped through, reading her notes, I saw four different time where she had written, “God never wastes a hurt.” Four times. In her own handwriting in her bible, God let HER tell me what I needed to hear. This pain is not wasted. This pain is not to end me, or make me run angrily away from Him. This hurt is not wasted, because it can be used to help others in the same situations. It can be even more of a testimony to the strength she instilled in me that I can keep going forward faithfully. I can’t waste this hurt, because it would make her death be in vain. If I can come through this hurt with Him, it’s not wasted, because she lives on through me being able to help others.

So yes, sometimes things are more than you can handle, and yes, sometimes the crap storm feels neverending, but everything ends at some point. There will be more bad days. Refer back to what I said about her birthday and the day after. I’m not perfect, none of us are, but there is a greater purpose to whatever you are going through. He never wastes a hurt. Don’t let the hurt you have be in vain. Lean on Him, and use it for something greater, if not for you, then for others who need you. Whatever your hurt may be, someone out there needs to know they aren’t alone, and when they aren’t turning to God for help, you can be the one to help them and set them back in the right direction with your story. Don’t waste your hurt.

Love always,

Cody