#TeamBrendaJOY

When my grandmother named my mother, Brenda Joy,
I'm sure she couldn't fathom how literal that name would be. 

My mother has taught me so much in my 31 years...be kind...share...do good...strive to be the best you can be.  Of the countless values and lessons she's instilled in me, one that always stands out is that everyone has a purpose....a gift to be shared.  I was (and still am) very competitive, a trait I assure you I did not get from my mother.  Throughout childhood, she's always reminded me that everyone has something to contribute to this world and winning isn't everything...it's how you play the game that matters most. For my mother, her purpose, her gift was, and still is, motherhood.  She's made a career of it.  Giving up so much for me and my three brothers, dedicating her life work to raising us, teaching us, loving us and showing through example the true meaning of unconditional love, giving to others and being a nice person.  She also shared her gift with many other children, being a preschool teacher and volunteering for endless positions in which children benefited.  She's never once seeked the spotlight.  In fact, I bet she's cringing a bit reading this.    She's a quiet warrior, always the first to secretly volunteer.  She may not be the leader on a project, but I guarantee you she's been the driving force behind it.  All without ever wanting any recognition.

She raised us in the church, evenings were spent as a family around the dinner table and weekends were spent playing outside, going on adventures and perfecting sports and hobbies.  Our home was (and still is) a happy one.  We've had our fair shares of struggles, but my mom always ensured our life was lived glass half full.  She taught us to live within our means, never want for more and to be thankful everyday for all the things you have.

Often she's mistaken for my sister, she's beautiful, she's young and I can only be so flattered for people to assume our similar looks are due to sisterhood.

She's taught me the value of of always being on time, early actually...I'm still working on that one, sorry mom.

She's taught me the value of hard work.

She's taught me to say please and thank you...and say thank you again.

She's taught me to be welcoming to everyone and never exclude anyone.

She's taught me to get back up when you fall down, and to help others back up when they've fall down.

She's taught me to be myself.

She's taught me that creativity is worth more than currency can buy and by thinking outside the box, you can get exactly the life you strive to have.

She's one of the good guys.  And I think we all know how few and far between those people are these days.

Throughout my life, I've watched as people approach her to share personal stories, battles and victories.  She's a listener by nature and a nurturer by instinct.

To say I'm blessed to have her as a mother is an understatement.  I know how lucky I am to have her for my mother.  

When I was pregnant, everyone had advice and wisdom to share about parenthood.  Of everything I was told nothing was more accurate than this statement:
No one will love your children more than you...no one except for your mother.

Watching my mom become a grandmother has been one of life's greatest gifts.
This is what she was made to do...
Babies!  Care, love, nurture...babies!

As friends and colleagues have hired doulas and nannies and experts in childcare for their kids, I've all too smugly known that the only 'expert' I've needed was a phone call and short car ride away.  Diaper Rash?  No problem, I'll call my mom.  How to get them to sleep through the night?  No problem, I'll call my mom.  She's continually reminding me that I don't have to be perfect to be a perfect mom. 

The past four months would not have been so easy had it not been for my mother.  Her knowledge, her support...it's too much to put into words.  A girl couldn't wish for a better role model, friend and confidant.  She's been there for the good, the bad and the ugly.  She's seen me ugly cry one too many times.  And I'm lucky to say I've never been made to feel judged by her.

We share a passion for antiquing, crafts and home decor.

She laughs at my jokes, and whether she admits it or not, she's hands down one of the funniest people I know.

This blog was started because of her never ending support and encouragement.  

She's kind, she's thoughtful, she spreads joy.

The first day my life changed completely was the day the twins were born...
The second was the day I found out my mom had cancer.

My mom was recently diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer.

I still can't say (or type) those words without tears, but before you go and get silent and all, oh my gosh that's awful and I'm so sorry for you...

know this...

She's strong, she's brave, she's a fighter.

She's going to fight this thing to get back to her joy filled journey that is her life.

Besides the cancer, she's super healthy and she's young.  For those of you asking, What's colon cancer?!
Don't feel bad...until recently, I myself did not know that your colon is part of your large intestine, let alone details about this ugly disease.  Unfortunately, I'm now a self-educated expert on the subject.  My mom does not fit the mold (shall we say) for colon cancer.  She's lived a healthy lifestyle, she got screened at the recommended age and there's no known family history.

So...what can you say or do?!

Prayers...thoughts...well-wishes...and spread joy!
Whatever your beliefs, good vibes her way would mean so much to me and my family!

#TeamBrendaJoy


Mom, I love you...
I love you more...
I love you most!

xoxo,
Shell