As I mentioned in my last blog, life has been rough for my family and me this year. In many ways it seemed like it was one shoe dropping after another. Some things the outside world witnessed and prayed for; many things they never knew about. And I know we were not alone, I was not alone. When looking in the eyes of another, you never know the secret battles they are facing, even if you know some of the external ones.

So, how do you survive? How do you stand when these larger than life moments seem to want to totally overwhelm you?

For me, the answer is simple (though sometimes difficult to remember). I survive with my faith, my family, and my friends.

Faith is a choice. It is believing without seeing, and it is knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that I will not walk my path alone. And faith is just as much a verb as it is a noun. It is something that must be practiced daily, not just something we say we have. There are moments I know I would not have made it through if I didn’t know God was in my corner already holding me.

Family is a gift. Now, I realize there are times when family drives you absolutely insane. There may even be times when a family member has hurt you beyond belief. And that’s okay. They are still family, but family exists beyond the blood family God graced you with and into the heart family you surround yourself with. I don’t know how I would have survived this last year without my husband, my mom, my sister, my Aunt Kaye and Uncle Gary, Patty, Dawn, Leslee, Katie, and Cherry. They are the ones that no matter what, no matter when, no matter how long since we’ve spoken, I can call and know they will be there (and I have relied on this with them more times than they probably want to admit!) They are the ones I can just simply be ‘me’ with, and the ones that love me for me, even if I’m frustrating them beyond belief!

Friends are a blessing. And for me, that blessing is often a blurred line between friend and family because so many of them fill my heart. The night of my father’s visitation is a blur in many ways. He was such a pillar of faith, and a strong member of the community, that many wanted to come and pay their respects to both him and the family. We were awed at the number of people who came. As the evening came to a close, and the crowd began to dwindle, I found myself standing alone near him for the first time in hours, feeling utterly empty, when I felt a soft hand on my shoulder. I turned to find the tear-filled eyes of a longtime friend and within a few moments was surrounded with a few more. We told stories, shared some laughter and tears, and I was filled with an indescribable peace at one of my darkest moments. These are women I grew up with, went to school, church, and youth with. We have celebrated weddings together, births, loss, and struggles. And yet, we do not always see each other often enough. Sure, we keep up with each other on Facebook, but we don’t regularly talk. But when needed, they don’t hesitate to make a trip if needed, just to be there; until now, I’ve never put into words what that moment meant to me. And that one moment is just the tip of the iceberg of describing how friends have carried me.

Faith, family, and friends. Three simple words, yet three forces I could not live without. These are what help me survive the seemingly un-survivable moments.

What helps you?

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