My family has been through a very difficult season in our lives. In October my husband’s sister died. About two weeks ago his brother’s wife died. Both are gone too soon. Both left a lasting impression on many lives.
My sister-in-law died unexpectedly and leaves behind her grieving husband and three beautiful children. In the shock and tragedy of her untimely death, I saw an outpouring of love from family, friends and neighbors. All came together to comfort one another through words, hugs, meals and the remembrance of many good memories.
The funeral was the saddest one I have ever attended. But it was also a emblem of a town showing love for one who either directly or indirectly affected many lives.
Her youngest sister spoke at the service about a fun-loving, caring person who touched her life by the way that she lived so enthusiastically. She felt like she was a combination of her two sisters. One sister had always been nurturer and the other inspired her to live life to the fullest. Her fun-loving attitude was going to be incredibly missed.
As I studied my Bible this morning I compared the story to our lives. It was the story of the battle between Israel and the Amalekites. The Israelites were in desperate need of help. The Amalekites were skilled warriors and the children of Israel were experienced in making bricks, not war.
Moses turned to God for help. He climbed a hilltop overlooking the battle below. Moses raised his hands and his staff. As long as his hands were lifted to God the Israelites were winning. When his arms grew heavy and he dropped them to his side, the Amalekites had the advantage. Aaron and Hur saw Moses struggling and sat on either side of him for support.
“As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.” Exodus 17:11 NIV
When life’s difficult circumstances arise, we need to seek the Lord first. We often try to tackle the problem by our self and rely on our own strength. Sometimes we make our own judgment of the situation and decide that it is hopeless. But God is available to us all.
Think about your own battles in life. You might feel like you are dealing with an overwhelming situation and see no way that good could come from your struggles. When life gives you heartache, health problems or anything that causes stress and confusion, there is always hope.
I also noticed in this story that Moses needed the help of his friends. I think it is important to have a support system that will help you through those difficult trials that we all face. Finding support from people who are dealing with the issues of Interstitial Cystitis and others similar health problems has been a great source of strength for me.
I will never forget what my one of my other sisters-in-law said at the funeral. She hugged me and said “I love you.” She said she was thinking after the funeral of our first loved one that all of us sister-in-laws should get together with our mother-in-law and go out for coffee or something. It is important to tell the people in your life that you love them. You never know what will happen and one of your loved ones may be gone too soon just like what our family has recently experienced.
From these painful difficulties I have been reminded look to the Lord for strength and guidance. I have also thought about how important it is to reach out to family and friends for support and remember to tell loved ones how you feel about them before it is too late.
In Loving Memory of
Barbara Jo “BJ” Campbell Leopard
December 2, 1963 – November 11, 2014
There were hundreds of strangers that quickly became a source of comfort as I greeted them coming through the receiving line. Some faces were familiar. Some where faces I knew long ago. I was surrounded by many family members on either side of me. There was a long line of a husband, a mother, children, brothers and their wives, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.. A few feet away was my sister-in-law who looked so peaceful now that she was with her Master.
He called her home long before we wanted to let her go, but His timing is perfect and His will is just. That doesn’t mean we didn’t all shed tears of sorrow. We didn’t want her to leave us, but now she is in a perfect place and she has no more pain.
She fought a long, hard battle against cancer. A fight for her life. A life that she wanted to continue. She wanted to attend her children’s weddings. She wanted to be there for the birthday parties of her grandchildren. She wanted to grow old with her dedicated husband. But it was not meant to be. She tried to make the best all of the moments that she was able to share with her family.
Cathy was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer seven years ago. The doctors told her that she would have to give up the job that she worked so hard to pursue. She was a RN in labor and delivery at the local hospital. She went back to school later in life when her kids were older and earned a degree in Nursing.
We all have good memories of Cathy. I know that she touched the lives of many in a positive way. She was a Christian. She continued to go to her church even on the bad days when she did not feel like going. But she was loyal to her Lord and Savior.
She had the blessing of a devoted caregiver in her husband of thirty years. When it was time for chemo treatments in another state, he would take time off from work and drive her to her appointments. When he did have to go to work he would call her throughout the day just to make sure she was okay and to show his love and dedication. He spent many, many nights in the hospital and Hospice House without ever going home. He was always by her side.
He was not her only loving caregiver. Her mother who has health issues of her own did as much as she could. She went many times on the trips for the chemo treatments. She helped with much of the paperwork and insurance filings. She spent much of her time at doctor’s appointments and in the hospital with her. She enjoyed spending time helping with her baby girl.
Her daughter was a loyal caregiver who helped in so many ways. She and her family spent much time at Cathy’s house to help and show their love. She was also blessed with three sons and their families who helped and loved her very much. Her four brothers and their wives would make visits and phone calls to spend time with her. She was a special lady.
As I struggle in my own battles with Interstitial Cystitis; Fibromyalgia; IBS; Pelvic Floor Dysfunction; Vuvodynia; Restless Leg, Insomnia, etc. I could relate to some of the pain, nausea and pure exhaustion that Cathy experienced. We became closer through our trials and I am so glad I got to know her better over the last few years.
I’m in a battle in my own life. I picture a race in my mind with encouraging spectators. I am running toward Jesus and I try to keep my eyes on the Lord. There are so many obstacles in the way….fear, selfishness, lack of focus and just plain ole feeling sorry for myself. In this race I can see Isiah, Abraham and Moses on the sides cheering me on to the finish.
Now when I look up into the stands of this race arena, I see Cathy telling me not to give up but to keep my eyes on Jesus. She is telling me to run the race with endurance and I too will receive my heavenly rewards.
My family had a birthday celebration at my house during the Fourth of July holiday. We had a cookout and celebrated June and July birthdays. We all enjoyed spending time with each other and honoring the birthday guys and gals.
My youngest brother, Scotty, asked if I wanted to come over to his house afterward. I said, Yes! So Anthony, my oldest brother, and I followed Scotty to his house. It had been way too long since I had been to his house and I was looking forward to seeing his wife, since she is home bound. It had been longer than I would like to mention since I had seen her, though I had talked to her on the phone several times.
While we were at their house, Anthony showed Scotty how to burn some of Scotty’s music files onto a CD. I took notes for Scotty, since he is not that familiar with computers. I told Anthony that maybe we could make a career out of this. We could make house calls and train people to use computers. Anthony could provide instructions and I could type notes on my laptop and print it out for them before we leave…Assistant to my brother on the road…another dream job of mine…see blog posts “Priceless,” and “Beach Bum” for other dream jobs of mine.
Scotty plays acoustic, classical guitar. He has urged me often to learn and play. He is self-taught and plays beautifully. He has even written some original music.
I wanted to show Scotty some things on the computer too. I worked at a computer repair shop and I know a few things about computers, so I had to put my two cents’ worth into the mix.
Anthony and Scotty are highly intelligent, spiritual and talented people. They both play guitar, thus my on- and off-again, love/hate relationship with my own desire to play the guitar. I took lessons about ten years ago, but I really stink at playing the guitar…it is very hard work and I am not naturally talented at playing, like my brothers. My guitar mostly serves as decoration as it “gently weeps” because it is not being played to its’ full potential.
The Beatles-While My Guitar Gently Weeps
After a short visit, Anthony and I made our way home. We decided to take a different route than we came. It was dark outside as we were leaving my brother’s neighborhood. There was also an overabundance of people in the street, shooting fireworks, celebrating the Fourth of July. I was driving and all of these things made me a little nervous.
As we were riding along, we saw more and more people on the street shooting loud fireworks. I soon realized that we were “Not in Kansas anymore.” We were not on the way home…we were lost!! I felt anxious!! I don’t drive at night much; all the people on the streets, the noise of the fireworks and now we are lost!! I did have a small panic attack. However, I decided to turn around and go back the way we came. When we were at the spot where we made our mistake, we simply turned the other way and we were on the right track.
Anthony said in an email to me, “As for getting lost, in guy terms we weren’t really lost, just riding around a bit before going home. No need to panic….” Yeah, easy for him to say, but I did feel a bit panicked. I explained to him on the way home that now that I have Interstitial Cystitis and Fibromyalgia, etc., etc., I tend to panic more. I explained that I am learning to recognize when I am panicked and try some deep breathing techniques to help. It doesn’t always work, but it is certainly worth a try!
It was a good to spend time with my Big Brother and I enjoyed the ride home. Anthony and I have become closer over the last couple of years. We have developed a loving bond for each other that we never had until recently.
He suffers from chronic pain; he loves music; he is devoted to the Lord; and he has a passion for writing. All of these things, both the good and the bad, must have made us realize we have a lot in common. Since I have been sick with Interstitial Cystitis, I starting blogging to encourage others. He has been the main source of encouragement to keep me motivated to write.
He guides me in my struggles with pain; he inspires me on my journey with the Lord; he even futility tries to boost my love for practicing guitar. He keeps me focused on my writing. Like a proud Big Brother, he wants me to be better at it. He wants me to stretch myself and be successful. I am thankful for his encouragement more than he will ever know. I thank God for my Big Brother!
I am thankful for two intellectually gifted and inspiring brothers!
My sister is going to a wedding next week. She asked me to help her find a dress. It is a formal wedding, but we decided that she should just buy a nice dress that she can wear again after the wedding.
I had asked her to do some “pre-shopping.” Pre-shopping is what I do to save time and money. I told her to go to a couple of websites and check out their dresses. That way she would know which store has the best selection for what she is looking for. If we know ahead of time where we are going, we can also look for coupons for that particular store to save money.
She came by house first and we discussed our plans. Then I packed my stuff into her van and we drove to a larger city about an hour away from where we live. Since I had also “pre-shopped” for her, I knew that we needed to head straight to Belk…it was in the mall…dun,dun, duuun! Click below for the actual sound effect.
I don’t shop much in malls any more. Too much walking…it wears me out. We were fortunate that Belk has its’ own entrance making that daunting task much easier!
When we walked in neither of us knew which direction to go, so I just started walking. By the time we found the right department I was already beginning to feel weary. However; I have noticed that if my mind is focused on a task that I enjoy; such as shopping, I am more likely not to focus on the pain. Apparently that even works when I am helping someone else shop.
I used to “love” to go shopping before I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC), Fibromyalgia, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Vuvodyndia. Now my shopping trips are few and far between.
Once we found the right department, I began to suggest dresses and grabbing the ones she liked. Then I saw the clearance racks…ahhHHHH! Clearance racks are a shoppers dream come true…if you can find your size!
Well, we were having a good day because we found several in her size and she tried on all of them. None of them were “the one.” So I told her we needed to go back to the clearance rack one and find something. She said she was ready for lunch and so was I. I told her that we needed to find a dress first. We needed to complete our mission!
We went back to the racks and found the perfect dress for her. It was a mixed print dress in blues and purples and black. The matching short-sleeve jacket was made of a lightweight turquoise material. It has a flared bottom that lightly swishes when she walks. It will look great with some new black shoes. We both we very pleased…and hungry!
She suggested a nice Mexican restaurant across the street from the mall. I said that would be great since I had eaten there before and I knew what to order that would agree with my bladder. We both ordered our much over due lunch. She then told me she was going to pay for my lunch for my services. Boy, I wish I could do that for a living. A professional shopper that sounds like a good job for me!
After we ate we headed back home. It was a good day for me and I enjoyed spending the day with her. I hope that we will be able to do it again very soon.
Gas for shopping out of town $10.00, Dress on clearance rack $30.00, Spending the day with my wonderful sister Priceless!