The Embodiment of Sarcasm: Women of bargains, common sense, and too many animals.

You know when you see a family and there is not a single doubt in your mind that they are biologically related? Well that is how my mom and her sisters are/were: The Inscho Girls. If we are all honest, the genes extend to some of our cousins. And since I look like my mom, I guess that makes me a part of the gene pool too.

I rest in that identity because it has always given me a sense of belonging that I can be proud of. My grandma, my mom and my aunts are four of the most INCREDIBLE women I know. Christy and Kelly, my aunts, have been lovin’ on me since I was born. I have lived with both of them at various different points in time and they have impacted me in those moments and many more.

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My aunt Christy and my mom Cindy

When my mom passed away, they lost their sister. I didn’t know my mom as well as they did. The three of them had grown up beside one another. They had bickered and loved as sisters do. In so many ways their loss was significantly magnified in losing someone they knew so deeply, whereas a large portion of mine was not just in losing her, but all that I had yet to learn and would never get to. In the midst of their extreme loss they both reached out to me in their subtle non-affectionate ways. (Know I am laughing here because this is another generational pattern in our family).

Christy and Dillan added onto their house and created a room that I could stay in if I chose to. The sweetest part about this room, was that they made it thinking it would be a place for me, but it ended up being a place for the most perfect unexpected gift: Miss Rylee. They never pushed this on me but simply let it be an option if I needed it. I struggled so much with losing my home and transitioning to living somewhere else, all the while processing my mom’s death, and this made me feel so incredibly loved. Christy also initiated dinner once a week. I would go over to her house for dinner and “learn” to cook. *still working on the learning part

I enjoyed having an escape from the chaos of the big household I was living in at my grandma’s at the time. Essentially it was a whining escapade. The icing on the cake to whining to my aunts is they don’t care. They don’t care in two ways. First, they don’t care if you whine. Second, they literally don’t care about your whining. I think there is a very teachable lesson in there somewhere, but my brain is too tired to process it for you in words. You got it right?

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With Christy there is always laughs and many of those Thursdays where I was supposed to be learning to cook ended with a lot of playful banter about my inabilities to cook and how it would drastically impact my future as “wife material.” I would like to publicly say that my cooking gets better with age.

During this time my aunt Kelly and I also developed a special relationship. She was building her barn….(my family all lives in barn houses)…so she lived at my grandparents.  She always included me with her four children on the holidays. My first Christmas morning without my mom was spent with my aunt and cousins. The most cherished part of this time with her were the long hours spent sitting in her bedroom talking about my mom and the grieving process. My aunt Kelly has a very quiet nature and at the time I not only found her gentle conversation uplifting but also transforming. We learned so much from one another just through those deep conversations.

As time has gone on, I have developed stronger relationships with both of them. I like them more than most people. We garage sale together, goodwill together (especially during Christmas time for lights….do a drive by sometime…haha..jk that’s weird), we go to auctions and other completely random events. We have our little 4-H club and share our love for horses. I love trail riding with them and evening rides as a whole fam. We day dream about our next traveling adventures and we are constantly making fun of one another.

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And even in these moments of “doing” I never am able to forget how strong they both are. I look back at all they have gone through and I am humbled that they each choose to face tomorrow not just for their own sake, but for ours. They have endured death to degrees that no one should have to face: sister,son, nephew, loved ones. In those deaths, they have always pushed us to believe that what we do from that point on can be a true representation of all of the living they never got to experience. Selflessness; to live for those who couldn’t. I am motivated everyday to live for Tory and my mom. To live a life they would have enjoyed. That mindset…that courage…it came from Kelly and Christy.

In our family, touchy feely moments are gone in the blink of an eye…it would only be fitting that this post is the same.

As littles we, the Inscho Tribe, roamed the 100 acre forest without much supervision…..and we often found ourselves in big trouble. Like trouble you might not believe because well we lived on a lot of land,with a lot of animals; with a lot of opportunities.

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And what fun is it if I don’t continue to share some of those adventures every now and again.

I decided to do Sammy’s hair on one of my days that Christy babysat me. I used horse rubber bands…because thats what we have in our houses…and I got them stuck in her hair. So naturally, you avoid telling the adult and just cut it off…not noticeable at all…I got  grounded…by Christy. She is to this day the only person who has grounded me. I was (still am) more of a just look at me in disappointment and I’ll burst into tears type of gal. She grounded me from the TV…my cousins would laugh at this because I wasn’t that interested in the TV as a kid (still not). It was a daily struggle to get them to play with me if one of their favorite cartoons were on. Even so, this took her down several notches in the cool factor for quite a long time. And occasionally she threatens to ground me as an adult…it’s usually for not doing something cool and fun…I can be a major party pooper.

Cousin shenanigans usually occurred right before or during the time in which we were supposed to be doing something important….like going to a rideout. We were given a time to be ready…with our horses…that were to be cleaned…and our tack which was to be put in the trailer….Chief Kolton told us that it was for the greater good of all to stay and nurture the land. We, under the direction of our chief, chose to hide in the woods from my aunt Kelly so that we could play instead of going to the rideout. Did I mention we have a lot of woods? She knew we were hiding…I giggle quite loud and the cliffs make it echo, but she couldn’t find us. She went so far as to hunt us down on the four wheeler, but screamed in defeat that we were in BIG trouble and she would be waiting. Clearly it wasn’t big enough trouble because I don’t remember the consequence.

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There are so many stories and inside jokes that connect all of us in our dorky way and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Christy has a joke that she has overused…the two for one deal in her pocket…and I laugh everytime…I laugh too much. Obnoxiously…but its more like a squeak…anywayyyy….my two for one deal isn’t in my pocket…it’s my two beautiful aunts. (They are pretty hot for being dinosaurs, too).

When I struggle to feel like I don’t have a family of my own or that I don’t really fit in anywhere because of the absence of my mom, I am reminded consistently that my aunts love me, support me, and believe in me. Their strength is something I can’t even articulate in words.

I like to believe that I carry a little bit of all three of them inside my heart. And when the milestones come that will be hard to not have my mom by my side…I know that they and my grandmother will be right there with me.

I hope I am a hot and strong dinosaur like you guys one day, but with less “natural” highlights. HA! I love you.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

 

The Embodiment of Grace: A Woman of Joy and Genuineness

I am the oldest of five and an only child. In both ways, I have always yearned for an older sister; someone to share clothes with, to learn from, to share secrets with. I found that in C.

We got to know each other by spending time with her family. In those moments our relationship remained mostly on the surface. It wasn’t until I started staying at her house, when her husband traveled, that we really truly bonded on a level that would inspire me. C and I, on those nights together, would open up to each other.

She shared some of the darkest moments of her life with me. She trusted me with her secrets and even in my fear to be accepted by her, I began to trust her with my own. She was my boyfriend’s sister, but our relationship began to be completely separate from my relationship with him.

You know when you meet someone new and you have this moment that just clicks that you are going to be good friends? The first time we hung out I was so nervous that I don’t think I thought one coherent thought. Sometime later though I remember being frustrated about what people thought of me going to a branch of OSU. She had gone to that branch and expressed how it really was a wise choice. She helped me move beyond those opinions and have confidence that I was doing what was best for me. It was my future not theirs.

It was in that conversation, when her words made absolute sense to me, that I knew.

And it didn’t stop there…as time went on she would continually have a positive influence on me as a person.

When my boyfriend and I struggled in our relationship, she offered kind advice. When I struggled, she offered me truth. The kind of truth that hurts when you hear it, but grows you in the best of ways. The kind of truth that equals love. When my uncle died, she wrote me one of the kindest letters I have ever received and used her talents to make me a sign for encouragement. When my cousin Tory died, she looked past all of the awful mistakes I had made and still sought me out to tell me she cared about me, missed me and was sorry for my loss.

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And even in this past year, where I suffered at my own hands, she gave me the space to learn but remained a friend as best as she could given the circumstances. I had hurt those close to her and yet she offered forgiveness and gave me another model of love. I keep wondering if I would have that kind of courage if I was her. Would I be willing to keep a friendship when trust had been broken? Would I be willing to forgive something so great?

Before I had left for France last year for my internship, she was expecting her first child. For her baby shower, I decided to make her a baby book that contained the pieces to their story before their sweet baby and then pages for the baby’s growth. My heart was so overwhelmed with love and joy towards this unborn child. As I made this baby book, I found myself in tears thinking of missing her shower. I cried tears of joy for the life that would be birthed into this world. And how beautiful this sweet baby would be because of the family she had surrounding her.

My heart hurts just to think about all of those moments I thought I would be a part of that I won’t. Not just with this little girl, but with her mom and their whole family. Even him. And yet I find confidence in God’s plan being so much greater than my own. She may not have become my sister-in-law like I had hoped, but she will always be a sister in Christ.

As C and I’s friendship changes over time and with circumstance, I have faith that what we share will always be something I carry in my heart. C gave me the big sister I always wanted. It is my hope that I will still have that friendship with her in the future, but regardless, my heart is so entirely full to know that our relationship was truly so special.

She is an amazing mother, daughter, sister, and friend. And to share in that is humbling.

Psalm 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs without fear of the future.”

I am so proud of you C. I am thankful to have you as a friend and cannot wait to see how God uses you for His plan in the future.

I love you.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

The Embodiment of Grace: A Woman of Understanding and Provision

Our story started with a sleepover. My life has been the epitome of weird and unexpected relationships. I was in middle school visiting my dad’s ex-wife, hanging out with her friends’ family. One of the family members was close to my age and asked me to spend the night with her at her aunts. Hesitantly…WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE…I accepted the offer.

That night I hit it off with this girl and her cousin, but the relationship that I didn’t expect to develop would begin to happen after they fell asleep. Stacie (the aunt in case I have lost you already) stayed up with me interrogating me about everything. During this time in my life, both of my parents were grieving their failed marriages and I was lost on my own journey trying to cope with the circumstances that were present.

I had internalized everything. I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable with the pain I too was feeling. Stacie saw right through my facade. That night we stayed up till the early hours of the morning sharing stories and the heartaches and joys that accompanied them. There was an abundance of tears.

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Pictures in Walmart are normal, right?

From that point on, Stacie became my anchor. I would try to spend as many weekends with her and her family as I could. She breathed life into me when I couldn’t find a reason to appreciate it.

Stacie didn’t use lavish words or detailed plans for a quick fix. She listened and she loved me. She let me cry when I needed to. She let me complain and beg for understanding. The beauty in her love came in her patience to speak with me. She never let me dwell in those emotions, but she encouraged me to feel them. When she felt I had felt enough, she always pointed me to the truth; to the reality of the situation, as well as the purpose. To His purpose.

I have two tattoos. They both represent this idea that I stand so strongly behind. The idea of Brightside. Much of that perspective was learned from Stacie and her insights into my life and the emotions that I struggled with. I have a small cross to remember the greatest gift I have ever been given; the sacrifice made on the cross. With each death in my family, the power of the cross continues to grow.

The other tattoo is the word, Brightside, in small script. The “for the better” mentality fails. Are you telling me that my pain was just “for the better?” Umm. No. Pain is purposeful. Brightside, to me, captures that. Our pain serves a purpose. It teaches us about ourselves, about Jesus’ love, about the world we live in and how we can be better in it. Brightside is that purpose.

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When there were times in my life where I couldn’t find this purpose, I sought Stacie. I still do. I do not see her nearly as much as I used to, because of college, distance, and “adulting,” but I still value the time I do have and the comfort and love she provides me.

Recently, I was struggling to understand someone that I once called family. I couldn’t empathize with her and her actions as a parent. Stacie helped me see how this person might feel and how I could be proactive in the situation, instead of just reacting negatively like I had at first.

Our relationship continues to evolve as time goes on. I like to think that as I get older that I gain more of her friendship and it becomes less and less one-sided. Just as a mother’s relationship does with her daughter. She will always be a guiding light for me. Even when I am stubborn and don’t want to hear her tidbits of wisdom.

We talk so much when we are together that I usually fall asleep talking in the early hours of the morning. We used to stay up till like 5 or 6 a.m. I am proud to say that we usually shoot for 1 or 2 a.m. now!

As a young girl, Stacie also gave me outlets for family time and happiness. She let us get away with a lot for the mere sake of laughter. I cannot tell you how many times we had food fights in her kitchen.

I love you so much Stacie. Thank you for being not only a mother to me, but to your beautiful children; biological and adopted.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

 

The Embodiment of Grace: A Woman of Faith and Courage

These words of gratitude have been continually growing in my mind and heart for almost five years now. As ya’ll know I was in a very serious long term relationship with a wonderful man that I thought I was going to marry. Our lives were very intermingled and I spent the majority of my time with his amazing family. Over the span of our relationship, I grew close with two of the women in his family, each one leaving a lasting impact on my heart.

When we started dating, it was three years after my moms death. I was a 17 year old senior in high school planning my next four years on my own. I’ll never forget the first night I went to their home. I remember walking in to a place that immediately made me calm and think of home in it’s true meaning. His parents were sitting at the table eating dinner together talking quietly. It was such a short span of time, only a few minutes or so, but having not grown up around that type of environment, it immediately made me question what was normal for me. Normal for me, up until moving in with my grandparents, had included, on most nights, dinner by myself with a leftover plate in the microwave and a sweet note left for my momma.

In the beginning of my relationship with my ex-boyfriend and even sometimes throughout our relationship I struggled with envy. It took me a long time to accept that he came from two very loving parents, who not only loved their children, but also loved each other. I wanted so desperately to have my own mother back, it was hard to accept that he had his. This is what I mean about that adolescent growth thing. YUCK.

His mother would be one of the most influential women in my life. I cannot even begin to find the right words to express how amazing she truly is, but I am going to try. As I have mentioned before, I struggled to understand how the dynamics of having a stay-at-home mom worked in a home structure. I even resented it at first because of my heartache and ignorance. Being a naturally curious person, I began watching her every move. I wanted to know how it worked. How did she manage to do all of these wonderful things for her family, help run a business, stay involved in her church, and do things for herself?4ec496e28251ff5719ea788b8919a277

She embodies the word grace. If I was to describe her in any way it would be graceful (with a pinch of sassiness that I so adore about her). She is so comfortable in her choices and her in yes’s and no’s of life. She is decisive. She loves openly and freely in her own little ways. Whether it is using her talents of cooking or sewing for her family, little gifts of love, texts of encouragement, or even just her everyday thoughtfulness, she is always showering those around her with God’s love. She is a learner and she is always teaching her family in God’s scripture and its applications to life. She is a listener. Some of my most cherished moments were spent in the kitchen with her after school or work talking about the heartaches of life and the joys.

During my relationship, I watched two of my family members die from cancer. His whole family supported me so much throughout that journey. But she provided me with not only the listening that I so craved from someone who wasn’t suffering in our pain, but also the wisdom to know that in the midst of my families pain there was and always would be purpose.

His mom taught me not only the little everyday things about being a woman, but what she really taught me was how being a godly woman was so distinctly different. She does the things God calls us to in action and service, but more importantly she lives her everyday life according to His word. When others struggled to understand me and see my true heart, she always stood up for me and believed in my ability to be shaped and molded like the clay that I am. A godly woman does just that.

I needed her love and discipline more than she will ever know. I needed my spot next to her at the dinner table. I needed those recipes that she shared. I needed all of those tips on skin and make up. I needed the knowledge I learned from her about scripture. I needed to see what a healthy marriage looked like and what family unity looked like. I needed to see all of the things she showed me on a daily basis by just being herself.

When you lose a mother, you lose your compass for those silly daily things. In my search for womanhood I didn’t have a clue what being a woman really looked like. I had my grandmother as a guide and my aunts, but she allowed me to see into her home in ways that I couldn’t have learned from them. She took me under her wing, even when she didn’t have to. That is the true beauty in all of it. She didn’t just treat me like her son’s girlfriend. She treated me like a daughter. I know a part of her believed I would probably one day become her daughter, but I am also sure that there was a part of uncertainty. She never once allowed that uncertainty to hinder the love she offered me.

17279b0b7b6b491b0f4d4c75b7349ed5If one day I could be half the daughter of Christ, half the mother and wife that she is, I would find content in my growth as an individual. To be loved as she loved me during a time in my life when I was most certainly not that lovable, is courageous. God didn’t just call men to be men of courage, but he also called us women. She was vulnerable and open with me. She showed me that there is power in simplicity.

To the woman that I miss almost as much as my own mother, thank you for your love, your kindness, for your faith in me and in God. Thank you for being the type of woman that I strive to be.

And Happy Mother’s Day to a mother that deserves it so very much. And Happy Birthday.

With all of my love.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

Cookies and Their Maker: An Intro to Mothers of a Motherless Daughter

I was slowly but surely becoming a woman and making decisions on what type of woman I should be. I was talking back and rolling my eyes (more than normal). I  was insecure and clumsy. I was indecisive (still am) and confused. But all of a sudden a train came rollin’ right on in. It crashed into me head on. The lights were so bright that I couldn’t move out of the way in time. Adolescents without a mother….was a nightmare. I was fourteen when my mother died.

My normal teenage development would pause. At times I believed that I missed it altogether. That I just skipped over it to the next phase of life and what little bit I had the year before her death was all I “needed.” With everything I had endured I simply wanted to keep my head above water. Those difficult growing pains were not in my vision of my future.

But that’s not what happens when death hits. Yes you pause. Life stands still. You keep moving, but your soul is still in that place; that place of shock…of heartache and panic. I still had to go through those stages that make us so very human. It just looked quite different than what I saw my friends going through.

My adolescent growth was minimized to behind the scenes moments of confusion and awkwardness. I was on pause for a few years before I felt that I could move on in any capacity. When I was ready to hit play again, I didn’t have the support that I once had. That’s the crazy thing about grief. When grief hits you and it’s someone close to you like a mother, sibling, child, etc., the pain doesn’t just disappear like it does for others impacted by the death who are at a distance.

I was in a relationship at the time and my need for this adolescent growth would show its ugly head at times. Sometimes around the dinner table, sometimes in how I treated my inner circle of loved ones, sometimes in my inability to empathize with everyday struggles, and sometimes just in plain normal girly ways. (Example: I am incapable of making any decisions on food 99.9% of the time….and sometimes because of my picky Pete attitude I get hangry…this also still happens occasionally).

I remember feeling like what I was going through was okay. I knew when I said stupid stuff or was a little rude. I always did my best to apologize. That’s my brightside to it all coming a little late. It wasn’t one big burst of drama (THANK GOODNESS). Even in feeling like it was okay, I found myself wanting to explain to others what was going on because they didn’t understand. In their expressions of disappointment, I cowered in my own disappointment of myself. I felt alone. I felt like no one understood.

No explanation could have helped them understand, but the lesson I want everyone to know is that if you have a young child in your home for whatever reason. Love them. Believe in them. Make a difference in their lives, because you do not know the type of impact, negative or positive, you might have. As much as someone can tell you of their story, if they choose to do so, it will never fully equip you to understand them in all of their realness.

As those years of extreme growth and transition began to take place, there were 62cd37e4d801a621154460ccd41fa683several people who opened their doors and their hearts to me; people who loved me in spite of it; people who extended grace and compassion; people who made me the woman I am today and gave me the platform for change and difference that I stand on. Over the next month or so I am going to share with you those beautiful souls.

Whether you are a biological mother or not….I guarantee that at some point in your life you will or have mothered someone. And how incredibly brave is it to mother the motherless daughters of this world. From one herself, thank you for your love and big warm hugs (cookies too).

Happy Mother’s Day Beautiful,

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

The Weed Killer

Yesterday was a day. A day that I complained about to just about everyone. Let’s just say that the people I passed on the sidewalk probably heard me whine above the normal octave.

I had to teach a lesson that I wasn’t comfortable with. It had little mobility and it was not the most creative creation of my existence. But, I rocked it. It went so well. The kids were not bored out of their minds and they even complained a little with how much I pushed them. The catch was I had to record the lesson….it didn’t work. Borderline technology illiterate over here. (Seriously to the point that I still call my cousin at college to ask how to work the DVD player…every time). After the tears and panic…I realized I also forgot my laptop. I spent five hours in the car yesterday.

School is hard. College is hard.

The media portrays college as glamorous parties, alcohol, dancing, and good times. But it’s not. Is that a part of it at times? Absolutely, and for some more than others. There isn’t any carousing around for this one. But college is late nights. It is early mornings. It is unpaid, paid by you, internships. It is part-time jobs, maybe even a full-time job or two jobs. It is little respect from the outside world. It is mocked and pitied. I cannot tell you how many people have told me that it will all be okay and it will be over soon and blah blah blah. No. Pet me and tell me I am pretty. *insert melodramatic music*

Majoring in education takes that hard thing to a whole new level, we are talking aluminum compared to steel. We spend every semester for almost the last two years in some form of unpaid internship, where we are forced to meet the needs of everyone but ourselves. Differentiate. Be understanding. Be kind. Be proactive. Continue to learn. Get good grades. Model perfect behavior. Basically they tell us to slap on a cape and pretend to make it till you fall apart crying in class questioning your whole life decisions…that might just be me. The struggle bus is real on this one.

There is enough acronyms to fill up a 26 edition Britannica encyclopedia that we have to remember. Videos to submit. Thousand page reflections in which we tear ourselves apart. TK20 and EdTPA…AKA the Weed Killer.

College is hard.

But,

College is hard.

It pushes you to think outside of the box. It opens your eyes to careers that you never even knew existed. Those tests you take in high school, “What is the Best Career Field for You?” are total crap. Did you know that I could have chose to study why people talk the way they do? I could have chose to travel the world and dig up ancient civilizations. Did you know you can do real things with fashion and other arts? Hot Dang Babbit. Yes. You can even take a class from each major and compile them all together in a self-proclaimed hodge podge. College taught me that I can be whoever I want to be. It gave me control of my own life and taught me to live further outside of my circumstances. When those circumstances sucked and hurt my heart to the point I thought it would break, I had college as a distraction.

My degree pushes you academically and emotionally. We do have to be role models. We have to learn to give children hope, even if their lives outside of our classroom seem entirely hopeless. Without the guidance of God, my amazing professors, my grandmother’s constant ear for my whining, and the love and support of all of my friends and family, I would not have been able to do it. But I have and I will. And so will you. Whatever your degree is. Whatever your challenge is.

As my first degree starts to wrap itself up within the next six months or so, I realize just how blessed I have been to attend college. I was a result of teenage pregnancy. I was raised by two hardworking people who fought for our family. They provided and sacrificed their own dreams to love me and to set me up for success. And not worldly success, but success of the heart, mind, and soul; success that truly matters. They didn’t do it for me either. They simply believed in me enough so that I could find the way for myself. I applied for scholarship after scholarship. Award after award. I worked long days. I got knocked down, only to learn how to stand taller.

My prayer is that when your days are hard…whether that is in your journey through college, parenthood, a career, a change, a hardship, etc. Whatever it may be, I pray that you choose to find the purpose. Look higher than your own understanding and seek to know His purpose for you and what you are going through. Our burdens are not our own to carry, but we do have a choice in what we do with them. Work within your scope of influence (thanks Dr. Covey for your wisdom) and rock it. And when you feel like no one sees what you are doing…know I am so incredibly proud of you…your strength…YOUR purpose.

You’re an inspiration.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

 

She speaks at fourteen.

It was early in the night and I was sleeping in my bed when the outside light came on and woke me up. There was a knock on the door . I thought it was my mom. Perhaps she had lost her key?

SIDENOTE: I wasn’t supposed to be home. I was supposed to be with my friend Artea, but I felt like crap and decided that my own bed was the best bet for me. In part because one time I puked all over her bedroom floor and didn’t want a repeat of that…especially considering I can’t handle cleaning up puke….sorry about that Tea. Andddd especially considering her room is always messy (even now as an adult), so that meant puke wasn’t just on the floor….oops.

I heard a mans voice and honestly was a little scared. I decided to just lay there. (The demise to every woman in a horror movie…just avoid the scary man outside…just hide under the covers). Good plan genius. But my phone rang. It was my uncle…in the middle of the night.

I ran to the door, confused and half awake. My uncle was standing on the front step with tears in his eyes. He told me my mom had been in a car accident. My first thought was,

“crap we gotta go.”

“What if she broke bones?”

“What if she is unconscious?”

“What if I have to say goodbye to her?”

And then we turned right out of the driveway instead of left. What the heck did that mean?   We didn’t have time to go to Grandma’s house. We needed to get our butts to the hospital. My heart was racing a mile a minute. And my thoughts were so unfocused. I was confused and scared, yet somewhat still hopeful. Naively.

I’ll never forget the next ten minutes. As much as time fades my memories, I couldn’t if I tried.

When we pulled into the driveway, everything stood still. My body began functioning on its own, without my mind or heart there. I stood above myself watching one of the most horrific moments of my life unfold.

The state patrolman and the sheriff had pulled in right before us. There was a group of family members, dressed in their sleep deprivation and pajamas, standing at the edge of the walkway, waiting for someone to say something.

Why was no one moving? We needed to get to my mom. Where was she? Why weren’t we going to her? She needed me. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and yet my mouth didn’t move.

Everyone walked inside and stood in the foyer.

The patrolman and the sheriff removed their hats.

And I knew. I finally understood. I don’t remember where I stood or what was said. I don’t remember his words or even how I physically responded. I remember feeling empty. I remember feeling like the life was just swept out of me and I remember chasing after her.

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My mom overcorrected on the right side. Her car spun around, hit a guardrail, and flipped onto a tree. Once it hit the tree, she was ejected and the car landed on top of her in the embankment. 

My mind wandered to a sweet memory of my mom and I. I stayed there for a while. I stayed in that field with our ponies. I stayed with the adrenaline from having just raced her (and winning might I add). I stayed with the wildflowers and tall grass. I stayed with our laughter chasing the wind. I refused to move from that spot. And even now, seven years later, I still stay there sometimes.

As my grandma wept and everyone hugged each other, I stayed there. Once they left it got worse. She was dead. We kept asking if they could be wrong. They had to be. My mom was only thirty-one. She couldn’t be dead. She was invincible. She was my rock. She could not be dead! But she was.

The next couple of days are a blur. But as the reports started to come in we found out that my mom had been heavily intoxicated, as is the tradition for holidays like today. A hardworking single-mom certainly deserves a rare night out on the town.

She wasn’t planning on driving, knowing that she had drank too much. But I was sick. I had texted her earlier in the night and told her I was going home and I didn’t feel good. She felt terrible for going out and sadly responded with a text that was filled with insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. She replied, “I am sorry I am worthless.” Those were the last words my mom said to me.

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What was left. People would later write her letters on the guard rail, plant flowers in the embankment and leave other tokens of love all over the crash site.Her saddle was in her car and the tree of it was ruined. However, a local craftsman was able to fix it for me. It’s the very saddle I ride in today.

I was so proud of my mom. She had overcome so much and pushed herself. She listened to me and respected my feelings. She tried for me. She worked hard for me. She believed in me and pushed me to be better. She was so proud of me. I told my mom that night that we were survivors. I told her the same words she had told me a few years earlier when my own heart felt defeated. I told her how much I loved her and how thankful I was for all of her hard-work. I never thought those silly texts would be the end to the closest relationship I had shared with anyone at that point in my life. Those words wrapped themselves around my heart, choking me with guilt in the years that would follow her death.

With the guilt came the why, what if, and how. They traveled hand in hand to every thought I would have. It was my fault. If I had only done more. If I had only checked on her. If I had only stayed at Artea’s house. Why was it her? Why couldn’t it have just been a broken bone? Why didn’t I get to say goodbye? How could I live without her?

Those are the thoughts that I resonated with for so long. Seven years later and my understanding of death has been shaped and reshaped again with more loss. I no longer believe those things and I have been able to find the brightside where I needed to.

Today marks the only day of the year that I truly allow myself to revisit these memories in all of their ugly. I allow myself to reflect and to grow from it in new ways every year.

My mom is still all around me. She is the whisper in the wind. She is the drive to my ambition. She is the quiet voice at night that tells me I am doing okay and that she is proud of me.

Nowadays my dreams are filled with sweet images of my mom and my cousin Tory dancing in the living room, always a short step away from me. They are filled with short visits where I can talk and cry with her. I have hope that one day I’ll be able to laugh with her again in that very field… in the quiet of just her and I.

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Mom, me and Logo. Logo died the winter after my mom. I took care of his withering body and grieved not only for her, but also the first horse I ever truly loved. 

To love someone so much that their absence hurts is a beautiful gift.

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” -Unknown

And so I grieve for you mom; everyday.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

To be raised without a mother

There is something truly heart wrenching in losing those that you love. For me my first real experience of that pain was the loss of my mother. Nothing in my young life could have prepared me for the emotions I would experience as a result of it.

Losing a mother or any parent for that matter shatters the heart. Sometimes it never finds  a way to collect its pieces again, and sometimes it does and even then sometimes you learn to shine in the midst of the broken pieces.

As if the heartache itself, the loss itself, isn’t enough already there sounds the thunder of displacement and the loss of identity. One of the most challenging struggles that I have faced over the years is displacement. I call it “orphan syndrome”… even though I was not an orphan, so much of my identity was wrapped up in my momma. Losing her felt like I had lost everything. And in some ways I did. I lost all sense of normalcy and routine. I lost my home. I lost her.

I was a young girl on the peak of discovering who I was when the one compass meant to guide me there, my mom, was taken away from me. How would I know what femininity looked like? How would I date without her guidance? How would I know how to maintain a household? How would I know all the silly little things that are so difficult about being a woman? Where would my identity come from? My dad? My family?

I swam in the murk of these unknowns for so long, and at times still. I am surrounded by so many family members and even friends that have grown me and helped me over the years answer these questions, and yet my heart still feels lost and alone.

As I journeyed through my quest for answers, I started as a falsely opinionated young girl, clinging to any sort of ideology I could internalize and process, to a young woman who now understands the depth of womanhood and grace. (And that deepens everyday).

I remember this particular moment sitting at the table with some people very dear to my heart. I was trying to understand a facet of womanhood that I failed to because of my own upbringing: stay-at-home moms. I was raised by a single working mom. A struggling single working mom. I could not wrap my mind around being a woman and not contributing to the household. I, at the time, believed contributions could only responsibly come financially. Boy was I wrong. In conversation with these people, I made a snarky comment along the lines of those once held beliefs.

I remember hurting my friend C’s feelings. She wasn’t a stay-at-home mom, but she wanted to be and was raised by one. I followed her to the hallway and told her how sorry I was. It was such a small incident, but it left a lasting impact on my understanding of being a woman. It shaped my understanding of womanhood as an individualized pursuit that holds differing importance and meaning for each person who chooses it.

As I continually have sought the world for the magic filler to this void, I have continually found myself on my knees in prayer with the realization that my efforts are futile. The reality is that in our loneliness and in all the places we feel we don’t belong, there is One true belonging that we can cling to; there is One we can identify in.

I fumbled over understanding how to grow without my mom, but what I saw in time was that my mom would teach me just as much in her absence as she had in her presence. She taught me to believe in myself and to search for truth; truth in womanhood and truth in Jesus.

Even when the days are long and my heart struggles to feel belonging, I know that my mom would be so proud of all that I have accomplished. I know that each and every day I want to pursue more and more of Him and I want to accomplish all of the things she never got to do.

Discovery and adventure is the means to my madness and I think it is one that my momma would be in support of. As Saint Patrick’s Day approaches…remember her and cherish the lessons she taught us and the love she shared with us. I know I sure will.

Stay safe.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

Upon the Precipice

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I stand at the edge of a precipice overlooking the vast waters before me. They rage in their darkness, taunting my fear. Every few seconds I shoot a glance behind me half expecting Past to push me over. Is it ever really Past that pushes me forward? I sit down letting the damp grass bring me back to the present situation. I can’t help but think of everything that has happened these last two years. Everything that hurt me. Everyone that loved me.

I can’t stop thinking of the young woman that I was two years ago…six months ago…yesterday. I think of my need for security and how it enslaved me to heartache. I think of how I tried to reign in my free spirit, constantly ignoring the whisper of Wander. And even now how much I still need to grow, reflect, and rest; to be molded like His clay.

But I also can’t stop holding onto Past. I keep waiting for him to encroach on Present— to rob me again of my peace and calm. I know the only way out is to dive deep into the waters before me. Do I have the courage?

My weakened spirit tells me I can’t. That life has been too much. That I am destined to this cliff, always looking at what has been and what could be.

I feel the wind around my face, reminding me of the One who commands its direction. It hisses adamently through the rocks below, beckoning me forward. I close my eyes and plead for God to hear me; to hear my cry of defeat. I cannot bear to go on. But something deep inside of me pulls at my heart. The wind. The cliff. The waves below. It is so much bigger than me. It must be Him; His presence.

John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So is with everyone born of the spirit.”

As the tears finally come to a stop I feel a renewed peace, a renewed energy. A promise of something so much greater than me.

The waters below will rage on. They will intimidate you and I. They will cause us to step back, to hesitate, and to question our purpose. But GOD CALLS US OUT UPON THE WATERS. He calls us to move forward, “…to trust in His embrace.”

And so with His hope in hand, I took a leap of faith and met Jesus where He called me in the deepest of darkness, all in the promise of His eternal light.

Whatever parts of your past tug at the hem of your garment; whatever precipice you are overlooking with intimidation….let go and let God.

My prayer for us is that we learn to trust in God’s love for us and cling to the promises He has for us. I pray that when life seems too hard that we remember that Heaven awaits and even in the hardship there is growth that will be had. I pray that we use our trials as testimonies and as ways to truly understand and love all of God’s children.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah

p.s. Hillsong’s Oceans.

 

Dearest Meme

After my dads divorce, I never imagined that we would be able to welcome someone else into our lives again. Everything we had known as family was shattered in a split second.

We had recently bought a home and it was going to be my first weekend in my new bedroom with bright green walls and adorable pocket doors. That anticipation would quickly end. When my dad picked me up it was clear that we weren’t going to that house.

I don’t know if it was his red rimmed eyes, the quiet stereo or the obvious different direction we went out of the school parking lot, but I knew, without him telling me,that our lives were going to be drastically different.

After the divorce my dad vowed to never marry again. HA! He ate those words. A few years later our sweet Meme would come into our lives. They were high school friends reunited, and sometime, I hope they will let me share their story because it is quite beautiful if I do say so myself.

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After my mom died, I needed people to confide in. I needed people outside of my family; people who I felt I wouldn’t bring down by being weak with. I needed late night texts. Calm. Wisdom. Guidance. Love. Reassurance.

Meme became one of those people.

She shared her own losses, opening up her own hurts to help me. She so selflessly took the time to respond to me, considerate of my sensitivities and hurt. Yet she pointed me to truth and helped lead me away from my negativity.

Years later and I get to call her my mom. She brought hope to our lives when we had none. She showed all of us love and kindness and has been the greatest support we could ask for.

My dad had vowed to never marry again. To never open his heart to anyone else. To never be shattered like he was. But he modeled for us what true courage looks like. In his bravery he showed us that you can love again. That life is worth living when love is at the center of all things.

Meme and my dad stand strong at the foundation of our blended family. They have shown us what true love looks like. They have shown us how to love again, even when it hurts. They have shown us that blended is just a box, and that we are simply…family.

Sometimes we take for granted all that she does for us, all that she is. She is a woman of grace. Courage. Persistence. Kindness. Compassion. Faith. Love.

I think I can stand with all of my siblings and say that we are so thankful to call you mama, Meme, and mom. We are so thankful to have you as our very own. We are thankful for your hardwork. Your support and wisdom. We are thankful that you push us to dream big and to recognize our worth.

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Thank you for being the mom that my momma and God must have handpicked for me. I love you so much.

Till Heavens End,

Savannah