As I reflect on all of "life's curve balls" that have been thrown our way in the last year & a half I am truly amazed that we survived all of them! Here is a glimpse inside all we have overcame as a family:
Losing Papa B on March 17, 2009 was truly a heart breaker. He was such a pivotal and important person in the Bryant family and loved by so many people. The weeks leading up to his departure from this world was truly some of the hardest my husband and I had yet to experience together. Many tears were shed and some still are when we reflect on the times we had with him. My kids had not experienced the loss of a grandparent yet and it was so hard to go through such a loss with them. Their sadness will forever be etched into my heart and I believe that my husband carries the emptiness and sadness with him everyday. I feel blessed to have known such a wonderful man in my lifetime that loved so deeply and was loved so deeply by everyone in his life. I have never witnessed such love, dedication and sacrifice as I did in those weeks when Papa B was at sick at home. I can only hope my family and children take as good as care of me as the Bryant men and family did for Papa B. They are a true living example of family and love. (pic- Papa B with my husband & his family- Billy, Dana & Heather on her wedding day March 7, 2009).
The very next month my mom was admitted into the hospital. Suffering from a 15 year battle with Chrons disease her stay spanned for an entire month. Surgery was eventually inevitable. She went through surgery well only to contract an infection. During her time in the hospital my patience and sanity was tested beyond belief. Her doctors were careless and negligent and let things go way too long! I had to "show the bad side" a time or two and even initiated the help of the patient advocate at the hospital. I thanked God for my ability to always speak my mind and stand up for my family because it was an everyday fight for my mom to get the care she needed so badly. I was born with the outspoken gene- what can I say! At the end of that month with my mother I felt completely emotionally drained and in much need of a summer break. (in the pic- you can see how my kids spent their time on one of the many visits to see their Gee Gee Debi in the hospital).
When the school year ended I embraced sunshine!
Only one week into our summer break our family took a huge blow. I cannot go into details in this blog because really it's much too painful to elaborate on. I will say that I cried a river for seven months because of the damage that was done. I feared for my children, their safety and happiness on a daily basis. My faith was tested beyond measure. I truly felt defeated until one day I realized that God had control of the entire situation and I needed to let GO! So on a cold December day I chose to change things- to have the best attitude, most positive outlook on things and give complete power and control over to God and trust the He knew best and would take care of my precious children.
After that day- things changed. No more money was flushed down the drain on attorneys, I made a promise to myself to no longer exchange harsh hurtful words with a person that has caused me so much pain in my life that could span a lifetime times two. Everything was settled and the path to healing was paved. Hours of counseling and communication with a person who brought pain into our lives opened new doors and a new hope for peace for our family.
In October 23rd, Maggie, our precious family dog- that my husband had had since he was in high school passed away. Just when we thought we couldn't possible carry another burden we lost a very important part of our family. My children, myself and especially my husband were completely devastated! We miss her everyday! She was the first dog I had ever let sleep with me and my first indoor pet ever! I grew to love her like a child...losing her was horrible! You can see her in the pic- she's sitting on Mady's lap...this is my favorite memory of her- always in the middle of everything!
Amidst the custody battle, healing from a loss of a loved one and a beloved family dog, recovering financially from countless investment in attorneys...we listed, sold our home, remodeled another home ourselves and moved. The transition was bumpy because we were remodeling another home while also living with my in laws for two weeks. It was truly a "House Crashers" episode from HGTV. But we got moved and settled in just in time to put up the Christmas Tree. We are on the tail end of our "house flip" and we look forward to selling the home and building on our land near my in laws whom I love so dearly! The future is bright!
I truly believe my husband deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for standing firmly beside me throughout the entire roller coaster. He sacrificed financially to keep my kids safe, held me while I cried, comforted me with his never wavering faith and always always loved me everyday- even at my lowest point of defeat, fear and utter shambles. When he said to me in the beginning of our relationship that he "has broad shoulders" and "can carry us both" I am sure he never imagined the amount of time he would spend carrying US BOTH! I thank God everyday for him, I truly think I would not be half the woman I am today without his love...he makes me a better person and his love sets me straight. I love him more than I ever thought I could possibly love a man. He has shown me what unconditional love and family loyalty really means. Most importantly- he shows my children everyday how a man should love his wife- and that is a true treasure. So throughout this struggle I see that it brought him and I closer, made our family stronger and also made us thankful for everyday of peace we get with the kids.
I was blessed with the most amazing job this Spring which was a total answer to prayer. I believe it was then that I was reminded that God heard my silent prayers not really spoken or said aloud to anyone. But when He sees us struggling and wanting something more in our life, He provides.
This summer is our first summer to actually enjoy one another since we were married Nov. 2007. 2008 was spent working like crazy because we were in child support battle which cost us more money in attorneys than we had at the time, 2009 was spent missing Papa B, worrying, giving attorneys all our money & fighting in and out of a jaded court system...this summer has been the best...so when I look bad on everything...I can only think one thing- I am so thankful we survived! Not only did we survive but we came out on top with a stronger love for each other and better appreciation for the little things in life. We are enjoying so much about our life, things have certainly "gone our way" time and time again for the last six months. We have a camper now and we have enjoyed 4 weeks so far at the lake with of all the Bryant family and some of my family. Dustin and I are more in love now than we have ever been and I truly believe letting go of all the negative things we can't control anyway is the key to finding true happiness in this life. I am thankful for every moment....
Thank you to everyone (and I know there are so many of you) who prayed for us, listened to my soap box speeches on child abuse and had "our back" throughout the entire battle. In times of adversity we see who our true friends are and I am blessed to have such awesome people in my life. As for family...well you all just simply ROCK and you are my rock! Thank you for the countless hours of praying for us, listening to us and just being there for us! We are blessed to have each and every one of you!