Cancer, You coward

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Cancer, you coward.  You come in, invade our privacy and our lives and sap every last bit of strength until there's nothing but a shell of the person we once knew.  You're radical, you're a force of great strength, and you're never welcome.  You come in, using the back door, like a thief.  Too afraid someone will see you and defeat you.  You lie, giving people hope when you're actually thinking of returning and you steal dreams and desires... and time.  But Cancer, yes, I can say your name boldly, you're a coward. You don't realise that in your boasting,  your strength and your pomp that the very person you're trying to overshadow magnifies your weakness.    They are brave in the face of threatened death, and take on suffering like a true hero.  They are poised and dignified.  Not in their bodies, as you have stolen that, but in their hearts, where true strength lies.    They hold up their family with a strength in their hearts unlike none I've ever seen, and they keep on loving.  They love.  Did I say they love? They love wildly until their very last breath. Some do beat you, and that is a miracle.  Though for those that cannot, despite their wasting away, you cannot defeat their love or take away the memories they have faithfully saved for a time like this.   So Cancer, in reality, you're a coward.   The one that's the hero, the winner, the brave last man standing is in fact the very one you despise, and you pale in comparison.  They are the heroes.  They are the winners.  They are the biggest person here, not you.  You're the coward. 

 

His Story

He went in for a cough, just a cough, and came out with inoperable, untreatable stage 4 melanomic lung cancer.  Woah, nobody is ever ready for that.  It smashed our world to a point where you can't even think.  I flew over to South Africa  (where I grew up) with my babies within a week, and we spent a very precious but highly strung 5 weeks with him.  He deteriorated so very quickly, though he lasted 3 months after the diagnosis.  What a man, making sure my mum had the support she needed, and that the home business was closed for Christmas - he died that same day.  My mum says he  was still making jokes, up until his last day.  Unfortunately it was a stroke that got him in the end, and then he was gone within a week.  We are absolutely devastated and miss him terribly, though our fond memories of his love and our times with him keep us strong.   For me, it is all the times I lay on his bed next to him while he was having a bad day, holding his hand.  I could have done so for hours.  This blog is for you, because this is what we saw in you.  Mom, you're the strongest woman that I know and I am so grateful that I get to be by your side, walking this out, even though you're a million miles away.  

My Nana had a long struggle with cancer and like my dad, showed great strength. xx

For all those who have lost loved ones to cancer or who are going through it right now, and to those who will go through it - wow, it's hard. I am so sorry.  Sometimes life isn't fair, and sometimes we can get so sick of making lemonade from those stinking lemons.  But chin up, grief is hard, and we've got this. 

From my heroes to yours, I salute. 

 

 

Hold 'em Close

Brace yourselves, this is a bit of a personal one, quite gushy and heartfelt in some places.  Meet my girls, totally different, too cute for my heart to handle and both full of spunk and fun:

Abigail Morgan (left, 3 and a half)  /  Stacey Georgia - Mae (right, one and a half)

Abigail Morgan (left, 3 and a half)  /  Stacey Georgia - Mae (right, one and a half)

Recently I have heard so many stories of sad, crazy and unexpected deaths in families.  It seems that every time I open Facebook there is another news story on friends' pages, about someone they knew, or affecting someone they know.  And it's happening to those with the same demographics as me - a husband dying in his thirties in a freak accident.  A little girl in hospital who doesn't survive.  A mum who dies, leaving her young children behind - home has been officially hit. 

I don't mean this to be a heavy post, but what are we actually doing?  How are we actually living our lives?  If something tragic happened like this to me or someone I knew, or God forbid, to my husband, what is the legacy we are leaving behind? Are we soaking every bit of juice out of what we have been given, making the most of every teeny little thing (including our lemons) or are we just complaining and struggling through?  It is SO EASY to get bogged down by  things that we let dictate to our life - stress at work.  Too much laundry.  Needing a break from our kids to get some work done, or just to have a cup of tea in peace.  Money.  Things, and those things breaking, needing to be replaced.  If we let them, they will weigh.us.down. Soon enough, our life will be controlled by these things and gosh, it will be heavy.  That aint a great legacy-making, memory-baking, full life creating recipe!  

My girls, painting together.  I realized I hadn't let them do this for a whole year.  That's when it occurred to me that I'm actually not being all that I can be to them, quite a hard hitting truth, yet filled with hope of what can be.  

My girls, painting together.  I realized I hadn't let them do this for a whole year.  That's when it occurred to me that I'm actually not being all that I can be to them, quite a hard hitting truth, yet filled with hope of what can be.  

Recently, I've thought A LOT about this and I've realised that I struggle to actually be with my kids when I'm with them, I live from nap time to bed time, with my stress head on because I know that most days I'll only get to my computer at 9pm.  Recently I've tried my best to be a fun mum, a mum who plays and laughs with my kids.  Look into their eyes when they talk to me and not on my phone, saying "just wait a minute, I need to write a message quickly.)  Get down on their level when i speak to them.  It's been a conscious effort, trying to break the nap-time to bed-time habit, but I've done it. I thought my eldest  (Abigail Morgan, nearly 4, perceptive,  sensitive and lovely) was not the affectionate type.  I thought she didn't like cuddles.   Since,  I've seen Abi laugh more, hug and kiss more, and she now tells me she loves me at LEAST twice a day.  In my wrapped-up-in-my-own-world-ness, I got her all wrong.  SO EASY! She just needed more downtime with me to open up her hug tank.  She refers to her and her sister as "your special girls" an she KNOWS she is loved.  Stacey, my 22 month old, has finally since started saying Mama, and calls out excitedly for me all.the.time.  I thought I was a good mom, and I am, but I realised that often, I'm not a very present mom, and what actually is the point of working from home if I'm not.  

Abi, paint everywhere!  (Trust me, it got a lot more colou  rful!

Abi, paint everywhere!  (Trust me, it got a lot more colourful!

I want to know now that my kids will remember me for taking time to play with them, believe the best of them and for being their biggest cheerleader and motivator.  That I was the one that helped fill them up to brimming over and made them feel invincible.  That I taught them to not despise their weaknesses or boast of their strengths but to just do the very best they can with what they have.  I want to know that my husband, the beautiful man that he is, feels worth the weight in gold he is.  That I give him my best time when he comes home.  That I keep on showing him that I adore him with my whole heart.  I want to encourage strangers, make people's days, and be infectious with joy.  A breath of fresh air.  Time is short, we don't know when we will go, but when I do, or when somebody close to me does, I want to know that I lived a FULL LIFE, and I did my best to make other's lives full around me.   I'm not trying to guilt us into just dropping everything and make our lives revolve around our loved ones, far from it, but perhaps we have erred too much on the side of "give yourself a break, you're doing a good job" (and breaks are important) , but have blind-sighted ourselves to the fact that it's the quality of time spent, not the quantity that matters, and the way this world is going with social media etc robs us of quality of relationship.

Stace babe, my sweet curly top just LOVING the mess

Stace babe, my sweet curly top just LOVING the mess

 

I lost a friend to Diabetes a couple of years ago, and I nearly lost my father in February this year.  That's a whole other story, but you cannot believe the regrets that come flooding once you're in that situation.  Let's not wait until a bad situation finds us complaining, ungrateful or selfish, having to backtrack and come up with a list of "if only's".  It won't soften the blow, but it will keep you grateful for the memories you do have, or have made for others.  Let's live with our hearts wide open and make the most of every situation we can.  When we feel that bogged down feeling come, it has no home in us.  Let's not keep it comfortable.  All we actually need, all that really and truly matters, is right in front of us.  It's right within our reach, hold it close.  Love them, nurture them, do your BEST for them.  Relationally.  Relationships are eternal, let's make the most of them on this side of life.  A legacy of truth, faithfulness, joy, kindness, gratitude and a life on fire with love.   Memories are worth making, they're one thing we're keeping xx

Sisters, friends for life.

Sisters, friends for life.

Nurture.  Love.  Encourage.  Biggest believer, best cheerleader.  Over and out xx

Have your cake, AND eat it!

My beloved and hunky husband and I are always reminding each other to dream a bit (or a lot!) bigger, think wider and aim higher.  To extend out tent pegs and challenge ourselves to do more, be more, believe more.  Because let's admit it, sometimes we forget!  Comfort zone living is so, well, comforting, and sometimes we like our rut.  

This, dear followers, is little Gabriella Faith.  She is the only daughter of a crazy-beautiful couple.  Mum is Polish, dad is Brazillian.  They have a heart for seeing freedom in Human Trafficking, they are committed born again Christians and they are VERY entrepreneurial.  Maggi is a teacher and Davi is a chef, talk about a great mix!  Funny, devoted people - the world is richer because of them.

Gabi had never had sugar before.  Ever.  Not once.  Nothing, nada. (Well done, mum and dad!)  She could have just looked at her lot in life and thought, "hmm... mango, kiwi, sweet potato, salmon... yep, I'm happy with that!" and not known any different.   So Magda was quite concerned that she may have one bite and turn up her nose at the sweetness of it, and we'd have no photos!

She was then provided with an opportunity that she NEVER saw coming.  What was this thing, this circular, yummy smelling, sprinkly decorated thing?  Just sitting on a stand (a beautiful teal one at that, how much more fun!), ready, for her???  She made her way over and (literally) one by one she picked off a sprinkle and savoured it!

Suddenly, her horizons were completely opened to a new thing, and she was hooked!  This thing, it was goooooood.  A teeny morsel turned into a piece which then turned into a chunk! (a scoffed chunk)

I love how Psalm 34 says "Taste and see that God is good", it's an invitation, a unique setup with pretty pink (or insert your favourite colour here) backdrop with bunting, a big sparkly cake, just waiting for you, let me say that again... for YOU to taste and see that He is good.  Gabbi smashed that cake, she demolished it as best she could, until Magda said no more, and she tasted and saw that the cake was good.  Sooooo good. Eyes opened.  Hopes raised. Senses fulfilled.  Expectations ready for the next thing like it.

So whatever you think, whatever you believe, wherever you are in life.  Maybe you've just reached a stale mate or are where I find myself so often - forgetting to dream, to hope, to not let myself get bogged down by endless to - do lists, overflowing washing and the battle between loving my children so much and wanting to tear my hair out because of them at the same time.  Wherever we are and whoever we are we have this in common, it's time to dream bigger, hope harder, trust deeper and tuck into the unknown with both hands, because like Gabriella, we will be sweetly, sweetly surprised.  Have that cake, and EAT it.  All of it.

Love, Katy xx

All things new, yet not entirely

I love the way that life works.  Our days, our moments, our dreams and aspirations start off as something so full of hope, or so full of practical reality.  Somehow, the one view influences the other, and we are left with what we are living and what we have decided, writing the story of our lives.  In Proverbs it says " In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." (19:21)  This is exactly right!  Last month I had the privilege of shooting for a family that I instantly connected with.  I love that!  Mum and I had so much in common.  After discussing what they were planning on wearing, talking about how we were going to execute this monumental "let's run around London and take amazing photos" photoshoot, her words before the session were "I'm so excited, but I'm actually more excited to meet you than I am about the shoot!"  

So where am I going with this?  Well, this family are, like yours truly, South African through and through.  Trainers are takkies (Ta-keys), Jumpers are jerseys, Felt tips are khokis (koh-keys) and yogurt is yogurt (yow-git).  Despite living in England for more years than you can count on one hand, some things will just never change!  (ie:  You can take the South African out of the bush, but you can never take the bush out of the South African.) They were settled, made friends, had a beautiful home and fantastic jobs, had found a wonderful church to call home, but something changed - their heart.

 Izak, their sweet and mischievous little boy came along and stole the show.  There's something about having a child abroad, it makes you pine for home.  For your own "mom" and dad to see them grow up.  The seas certainly feel like they widen considerably between you and the only people in the world who will love your child AS MUCH as you do.  Marisa and Zak never planned to feel this way, England had won them over but South Africa won their hearts right back.  Enough to pack up and do the whole resettling of a home thing all over again, this time, as a family unit, back to their parents farm where they would be welcomed with the warmest love they've felt in years.  And the best part?  They don't have to say goodbye.

So we painted that town RED!  The beautiful city that never sleeps, (literally! We thought we'd miss the traffic by arriving at 7:30, no siree!)  Tower bridge and Big Ben, You are beautiful, and Marisa and Family wow, did you only make them pop!  what fun we had.  All your memories, Marisa, of cycling to work passed the bridge, are all wrapped up in your beautiful portraits, and will be ready to hang in your new home.  I am sad that we only met recently, we would have made great Hobbycraft shopping partners and I would have loved to bring business into your talented framing hands, but I wish you and your family the utmost joy and favour in your new (but old) life in South Africa.

 

And just like that, a turn of events and touch of the heart can change your steps.  But in making these life changing decisions, let's keep our eyes on the things that matter, while being flexible enough to allow change where it's needed and  strong enough to not let go of the things we shouldn't. 

Have a wonderful week! xx