relentlessheart

taking things day by day

November + December. September 1, 2013

Here is photo collage to sum up the rest of 2012. It was filled with reuniting with old friends, going out, game nights, visiting family, work, poker, doggies, training with the Cohort, a kitchen gadget engagement shower, work on Christmas, a horrible attempt at burrito making, Rock Band, and my last day at the theater. I ended the year with twenty-three pairs of Chuck T’s, and brought in the new year by bowling with Chris and friends.

November + December 2012.

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October. January 1, 2013

So, it’s obviously been quite some time since I’ve found the time to write my blog. So, for October I’ll just be posting a photo collage that sums up the month. [going out to eat, Auburn football, two conerts, relaxing, studying, shopping, class, puppies, the fair, Bible study, junk food, FUN.]

October

 

Handsome Daddy. June 16, 2012

Filed under: Family — Courtney @ 2:45 pm
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Any man can be a father. It takes a special man to be a dad.”
— Author Unknown 

 

Father’s Day is tomorrow so it was only fitting to write a special post for my awesome Dad. First, let me explain why this post is called “Handsome Daddy.” My old phone would announce who is calling by saying, “Call from BLANK.” When I told Dad about this, he replied, “So when I call does it say, ‘Call from Handsome Daddy’?” I assured him it did and since then he is always Handsome Daddy in my phone. In fact, now he is my only contact with a nickname. So, as you can see my dad is the jokester, and he always has me laughing.

Thanks for showing me the beauty of muscle cars, too!

Dad, thank you so much for all that you have done for me. You’re always so strong in every situation, which helps me to be strong, too. You always put a smile on my face by something silly you’ve done or something you’ve said. I love our “I love you more so I win” wars. I like that you text me Jessie’s messages to me, because how else would I know that she said “arff arff” which means “I love you” (It’s a good thing you can translate for her too!). I also love our “your face thing.” Chris and I both really enjoy our game nights/movie nights. I know that you always have us cracking up. I’m especially thankful for not only my relationship with you, but yours with Chris as well. He really loves you and you mean a lot to him; more than you know I’m sure. I’m grateful for knowing that I can come to you with anything, and you’ll help me out. Thanks for helping me to appreciate The Beatles and Johnny Cash. I am thankful for your bravery in killing bugs around the house. Thanks for all your fun stories from your childhood. Thanks for letting me go crazy at the grocery store and get whatever is looking good at the time. Thanks for getting me so into the comic book movies; I always look forward to our Daddy-Daughter dates when a new one is coming out. Most of all, I am thankful that you are my dad. Bubby and I are super lucky to call you our dad. I know I’d be missing out on a lot of hugs and giggles if you weren’t my dad. Thanks for all that you do for me, and thank you for all the things I know you’ll do for me in the future. I love you Dad (more, so I win!)

Thanks for always being silly!

When you’re having a rough day, just look back on this and realize how much I love you! You’re the best Daddy in the whole entire world, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better. Happy Father’s Day!

 

My Best Friend. May 29, 2012

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”

— Henry Ford 

I have many, many great friends who I love so much and wrote a special post for them. But this post is for my absolute best friend, Melanee. And when I say best, I mean best. And she is more than my best friend, I honestly consider her to be a role model. The quote that I chose for her fits so perfectly because she definitely brings out the best in me. So, Melanee, this one’s for you.

Cruise Adventure to Bahamas!

Melanee, calling you my best friend does not do enough justice. You are my greatest, most loyal, most amazing, best, best, best friend. I am so thankful we worked together for the Hamlet project in AP Lit in February 2009 (Lame that I remember when, I know!). It makes me sad to think that we may not have become close without that project. I knew immediately when I hung out with you that you were so fun and a good friend. Thanks for suggesting us to be roomies. We have always blast together no matter where we are. I love how crazy I am around you. I’m sure our parents don’t appreciate how crazy we get when we’re together, but they’ll have to deal it because I wouldn’t change one single thing about our friendship (except the distance part, obvi). I look up to you more than you know. You are such a strong Christian woman with such a warm heart, and I strive to be more like you. I know that I have had my struggles, but seeing your Faith every single day amazes me, and I can tell your relationship with God grows stronger every day. God blessed me to have a best friend like you. I wish you knew how much you meant to me. I thank God for you all the time, and I can’t imagine not being friends with you. My life would have much less light in it without you. Thank you for your encouragement, strength, laughs, and support throughout our friendship for the past three plus years, and I know you’ll continue to be there for me. I know I’m sounding pretty pathetic right now, but I mean everything I’m saying from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for everything that you do for me, Mel. You truly are an amazing person, and I’m so thankful to call you my best friend. I couldn’t have anyone better. Be safe and know that I am praying for you. Love you, Mel.

“Poker Face”

Readers, Melanee is currently sharing the love of Christ in the Middle East on a mission trip this entire summer. It is so hard to be so far from her and talking to her little, but I am so proud of the Christian person that she is, and I’m happy she’s happy. She plans to be a missionary and serve the Lord with her love for Him. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Spring Break Adventure to Hawaii!

 

My Angel Mother. May 25, 2012

Filed under: Family — Courtney @ 4:45 pm
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All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

     — Abraham Lincoln

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The month of May means Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday, so I decided to write a special post about her and how much she truly means to me. So, Mom, this is for you. (Hope you don’t mind some of the pictures I chose!)

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Mom, can I just say that you truly are the best mom that I could ever ask for. You do so much for me and everything that you can for me, and I am so very appreciative. You honestly mean the world to me. I have no idea where I would be without you. Of course, you’re my mom so I love you, but I also love you because you’re a great person. You always hold me up when I am having a rough time. You accept that I’m a cry baby and let me have my moments. You love me unconditionally and show that to me daily. You support me in everything that I do and always encourage me to do my best. Your smile when you see me warms my heart. You were strong for me when I needed you to be. I could go on and on.

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I hope this short little letter can help you to understand and see at least the smallest ounce of the millions of gallons of how much you mean to me. I know I can come to you for anything. I’m so thankful for the relationship that you and I have. God blessed me with the best mom there is. I love you, Mom.

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Seven-Year Survivor. May 21, 2012

Alright, so I wrote this whole, long thing on my Facebook May 13, 2011, which was six years from my cancer diagnosis. Well, it’s been yet another year, and I still love what I wrote last year, and decided to share it on here with a few small edits. Enjoy!

Reader’s Digest Version Of My Diagnosis:

I was fourteen and in eighth grade. I wasn’t myself. The bones in my chest hurt when I would breath. It was my mom’s fifty-fourth birthday. I was listless after walking from the house literally across street from my own. Tried to play basketball with my dad, but I wasn’t playing the way I normally did. Went to the local Pri-Med and they saw spots on my lungs, but they couldn’t do a CT scan there. They sent me to a hospital about twenty minutes away where I took CT scans and other tests. They didn’t know what was wrong with me. After midnight, I was at the Children’s Hospital. More and more blood work. Early, early on the morning of May 13, 2005, we found out I had biphenotypic leukemia, which meant I basically had ALL and AML, two main leukemias. There was no protocol for that diagnosis because it is such a rare disease. The doctors didn’t know how to treat me. Dad asked what my chances of seeing fifteen were; they said thirty percent (And now I’m twenty-one!). Mom later found out the survival rate for BAL is eight percent! Then, about two weeks later, my numbers changed dramatically after receiving treatment for AML (which is super, super toxic chemo), and I was getting better more quickly than expected. They decided to change my diagnosis to ALL with AML markers. Meaning, I’d receive ALL treatment and hope that the AML treatment I had been getting was good enough to solve the AML problem. The treatment is much longer but not as tough. My family knows that it wasn’t a misdiagnosis, but the Hands of God healing me. I was in the hospital the entire summer and released in August and made many, many visits back. I was “homebound” my freshman year of high school, which really meant I taught myself everything because my homebound teacher was use to having students with different assignments than mine, and she did not know how to do much of it. Went back to high school two weeks into my sophomore year. I went from about 100 pounds to 75 at one point from throwing up so much. Blah blah. A few surgeries, thousands of pills, and hundreds of shots later, I received my last chemo treatment on November 17, 2007.

Some of my friends who supported me and visited me throughout my tough times. (From left to right: Heather, me, Katelyn, Jeremy, and Katie.)

This is to show you how crazy skinny I got. We are at a baseball game in one of the suites. Unfortunately, I’m not really close to them now, but I’m thankful for what they did for me back then. (From left to right: Emily, Amber, Heather, Jeremy, Me, and Tyler)

Ways That Leukemia Saved My Life:

1.)     It introduced me to so many great people (This bullet is more for those who are written about, so you can skip it if you want). Because of this experience, I met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Crawford– Delivered the diagnosis and chose the protocol. Thinking of him makes me cry. He moved to a different state, but he is still in my family’s heart. He bonded with my family unlike any of his other patients. We were different to him somehow, and we all noticed this. He really cared for us. When he told us that there was no protocol for my condition, my mom asked him to do whatever he would do for his son (who was about my age), and that’s what he did. He made every decision based on what he would do for his family, showing us that he truly cared about my health. He is an awesome guy who God used to help save my life. Pat– My nurse practitioner. She helped my mom through every moment. She was so patient with our family which was full of terrified and confused parents and grandparents. My mom knew and still knows she can call Pat for anything, and she’ll always help us out. She is a part of my family for all of the hard work that she put into making us happy. We all love Pat so much. Lauren– Child Life Specialist. Wow, Lauren is one of the happiest and bubbliest people that I know. She always has a smile on her face. She could just come in the room, and I’d already start feeling better. No matter what mood I was in, she always put a smile on everyone’s face with her wonderful personality and big heart. Whether she was playing games with us in my room or walking me around the hospital, she was always doing what she could to be a friend to me. I consider her one of my best friends still. The Nurses of 4-Tower– I wish I could name everyone, but I know that I’d leave someone out. There were so many great women working there. I loved them all! I especially grew close to Foo, Angela, Beth, and Nicki because those were the nurses who treated me the most, but all the nurses there mean the world to me. We could never thank them enough for all the things they did for us. Nicki brought me Olive Garden once, Beth fed me my pills in my ice cream because for some reason I couldn’t do it myself, Foo put up with having to cut me new pills a hundred times before I was able to take them, and Angela helped me with my peeling skin and even visited us at my house, showing that I was more than just her patient. Judy, Meg, Alison, and Kelly (now a clinic nurse) were some other nurses that I had often. And there are so many more, and I can’t name them all. All the nurses put up with having to count to three and pushing fluids in slowly. I’m sorry for all the tears I cried in front of them. I know they were trying to make me better, but I am still terrified of needles, even after having been stuck with them hundreds and hundreds of times by now. Every time I go for a check-up, I have to visit 4-Tower and hope to see someone I know and give them a hug and let them know how great I am doing! The Many Doctors Who Treated Me– Besides Dr. Crawford, I mostly saw Dr. Hilliard, Dr. Watts, Dr. Buckley, and Dr. Howard, but there was also Nicole, Dr. Fowler, Dr. Castleberry, Cole, and so many others. These doctors were always taking care of me and running around the place trying to figure out what the best move is for me. Dr. Hilliard is my doctor now, and she is awesome. A while back, I saw Dr. Howard, and he didn’t even recognize me until he saw my mom. It’s crazy to think how sick I was when I knew these people. I wish they could all see me now. I miss them. The Nurses of Clinic 8–  I may not have gotten as close to them as I did my other nurses, but they still had a lot to deal with. Some that I still see down there are Jill, Kenna, and Candy. They were sensitive to my feelings about needles and wanting to stay in a patient room instead of the treatment room because the coffee smell made me feel sick. They helped out in every way they could. They are so wonderful down there. I appreciate all they did and still do for me. Everyone else– That I may have forgotten. The woman who delivered breakfast was always a sweetheart. I loved me some Jessica, one of the CAs on 4-Tower; she was always smiling and happy. The triage nurses in Clinic 8 were always awesome. The many visitors from churches and other groups who brought me blankets or stuffed animals always put a smile on my face. The other nurse practitioners that I met who helped us when Pat wasn’t able to. The Junior League who worked the game room. The nurses who held my hand before my knee surgery because my family couldn’t be in the OR. I don’t know who else, but I know there are plenty others I’m forgetting.

Mom, Dr. Crawford, and me and on my last day of chemo treatment! Thanks for everything!

Pat and Me when my hair was finally growing back! Love you!

Lauren and me after Mom and I went to lunch with her this past winter! We still keep in touch! She’s seriously amazing.

Beth and me when I was SUPER sick all thanks to that red bag in the top left. Miss you!

Foo, my nurse for the longest time. Sweetest thing.

2.)     It brought my family and me closer to God. Definitely the thing I am most thankful for. I was already a Christian, but I had no idea who much Faith I had in God until the moment I was diagnosed. See 1 Peter 1:7, as quoted by Dr. Chase in House. I am thankful that I passed the test. I kept a journal for some of my time in the hospital, and I when I looked back at it along with my xanga site at the time, I saw that I had more Faith than I remember even having. I would write that I knew God was taking care of me and that I wasn’t worried. Of course, that didn’t mean I wasn’t scared. My entire family became closer to God though. Not that He needed to, but He really proved himself to my family. I know that because of His work in me, miracles happen.

(3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, (5) who through faith are shielded by God’s power untli the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (7) These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (8) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (9) for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV)

3.)     Showed me I’m stronger than I thought. I am a cry baby. Let’s face it. Not that I didn’t cry nearly everyday, but I learned that I am strong person (of course, that’s because I had God on my side). I am most definitely a weakling, but my Faith and Spirit is strong as can be, and that’s good enough for me. I take small things for more than they’re worth and blow off the big ones I should be worried about. I cried over shots but didn’t care about having my knee cut open.

4.)     I learned to appreciate my family more. I really took and still take my family for granted. They did everything in the world for me. Walking to Taco Bell several blocks away, satisfying all of my cravings, watching ABC Family all day long, being strong when I needed them to, and every other tiny thing they ever did for me. I owe my dad, mom, Grammie, and Papa so much more than I could ever give them. I love you all so, so, so much.

Mom and me after cutting my hair to make losing it less dramatic. Thanks for being so strong for me. I know it was almost harder for you than for me.

Dad and me at the house with my short hair. He was always taking pictures, so I don’t have one with him in the hospital. Thanks for helping me with my mouth wash by telling me your fun stories.

Grammie and me early on. Thanks for your patience through everything!

Papa and me in early May. Thanks for walking just about anywhere I wanted to feed my food cravings.

There so many people I still want to thank for all that they did for me. My teacher and counselors at the high school who did everything they could to make sure I received everything that I needed to. My friends who continue to support me and are there for all my struggles. The rest of my family. The rest of my friends. Chris, for listening to all the crap I talk to him about it and letting me cry sometimes and understanding. Everyone. And most of all, God.

 

Smiles & Good Friday April 7, 2012

Filed under: Perspective,The Word — Courtney @ 2:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking about a few things recently, and I thought I’d share with you!

I don’t even remember the store I was at anymore in this particular instance, however it happens often, but that is irrelevant to the story anyway. Wherever I was, when I checked out, I was being pretty friendly (having a job where I deal with unfriendly customers sometimes has made me a much friendlier customer). My cashier, on the other hand, was not. She never smiled at me or said anything like “How are you?” or “Have a nice day.” As my “I Am…” states, I love to smile. “Smiling is my favorite,” as Buddy the Elf would say. I always feel a little offended in some way when I don’t get a smile back. I left the store thinking she was rude because she wouldn’t smile back at me. Then I got to thinking. Maybe something bad has happened to her recently and smiling is just too hard for her right now. Maybe, even though she was unable to smile back, my smiling helped to brighten her day a little. Or maybe, my first thought was right, and she was just unfriendly and just doesn’t like to smile. Either way, I’m going to stick with smiling. Hopefully my smile can help someone who really just needs a smile.

Then, there was yesterday. Yesterday was Good Friday, in case you didn’t know. The day that represents Jesus dying on the cross to forgive our sins. 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” What an amazing feeling. But I didn’t come here to preach to you (although, there is nothing wrong with sharing the Word). I came here to tell a story about yesterday. Chris (my boyfriend) and I went to Wendy’s, my favorite fast-food restaurant at the moment. Our service was terrible, the cashier was rude, and they had to re-do our order because they messed things up. I left the place angry and annoyed about it. Then I thought about it being Good Friday, and what that day represents. I realized what had just happened to me there that annoyed me was nothing like what happened to Jesus who didn’t even complain. I must admit, thinking this didn’t instantly change me attitude, although it should have; however, I am still human, and it took me thinking that for a while for it to finally make me realize that my “bad” experience at Wendy’s is nothing compared to what Jesus went through for me.

So, next time you have an unfriendly cashier or waitress or the next time you feel like you’re having a bad day, remember that someone is going through something much worse. If you can’t think of any normal scenario that is worse, then think about what Jesus went through. It may sound lame, but it may help you to have a more positive attitude, which is something I strive for. I’ll be working on this myself. Let’s take this journey together. We need a new perspective.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to smile 🙂
Can't tell you how thankful I am for these guys!