Changing My Definition of Peace

I always thought peace was the absence of hardship. But because God performed a true miracle in my life, I know that peace can be found in the best and the worst situations we face.

As a small child, I was the apple of my Daddy’s eye. The pride he felt for being my Dad was palpable to all who were around us. He had my name tattooed on his arm, and later, when my parents divorced, he had an 11×14 portrait of me in the living room of his apartment. I had no question that I was the joy of his life.

Then, as time went on, his struggles with mental health issues, alcoholism, and PTSD (brought on by a childhood filled of chaos and his time in the Vietnam war as a helicopter door gunner) took a toll on him. I know he was involved in a world that was filled with darkness, but I’ve been spared the details by all who knew. He was so ashamed of the person he’d become that he couldn’t stand to let me see him. So, our relationship stretched thinner by the year until eventually, I would have to make many phone calls and find his address and just show up to see him. I missed his presence in my life, but could only muster up the courage to hunt him down about once a year. He didn’t know me, and I certainly didn’t know him. Even when my daughter was born, years later, it was a challenge to coordinate a meeting with him so he could see my greatest joy.

Life went on, and as a new Mother, I knew that there was no way he was consciously making the choice to miss out on my life. I chose to forgive him and pray for his soul, without knowing if we’d ever be able to reconcile. My greatest fear was that I would receive a phone call one day that he’d passed away, and that opportunity would never present itself.

In January 2015, the phone rang. It was my uncle telling me that my Daddy was in the hospital, and they thought he had a brain tumor. I gathered a bag, left my new husband and daughter, and headed to see the unknown. When I arrived, he smiled ear to ear with the same joy emanating from within that I’d known as a child. He was unshaven, dirty from falling in the dirt due to his condition, very sick, but completely cognizant. I knew then that God had opened a door that I could not have opened alone. As I drove home to prepare to stay with him in the hospital while we got more information, I clearly heard God say to me, “It is well.”

What ensued after was a journey from diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer with a metastasis to the brain to a reconnection with loved ones who showed up with love and kindness. Because of the extent of the cancer and the weakness of his body, we chose to ask hospice to come in and provide him comfort as he left this world.

I never left his side longer than was required to shower, pack a new bag, and return, sleeping several nights in a zero-gravity lawn chair just to be near him, and at times, climbing in bed next to him just to feel what I’d missed for so many years. I rubbed his feet with lotion, wiped his face with a wash cloth, and was truly able to return the acts of love he’d shown me as a small child. My daughter and husband were able to meet my Daddy (the person I thought had disappeared many years ago) and I was beyond grateful to be able to witness and reconnect with his true spirit during those final days.

Eleven days later, he passed away peacefully. Red birds suddenly appeared everywhere I looked. It Is Well (With My Soul) of course, was one of the songs chosen for his funeral. To this day, when I hear that song or see a red bird, I am reminded of the true miracle that we were given as we spent my Daddy’s final days with him. The peace I am able to rekindle when I think about those tumultuous, yet beautiful days is truly that which “passes all understanding”.

So, when I created this blog, I chose the name “Peaceful Ahead” because my definition of peace is no longer the same. It does not mean that I will not face sadness, disappointment, or hardship. It means that I know that God has a plan, and that the miracles He presents are not always those we pray for or envision, yet they are exactly what we need when we need it most.

With that, I’d like to wish you all a day and life that’s truly peaceful ahead.

Instagram: @peacefulahead

staceyfade@peacefulahead.blog

My Brain is Bored, But My Body is Tired

If you’ve ever been through a surgery and recovery process, you know what I mean when I say “one step forward, two steps back”.

Waking up: I feel amazing! I don’t even need any Tylenol or Motrin to start the day. I am getting out of this house today! Yes!!!

Shower and get ready: Geeeezzzzssss, I don’t remember shaving taking quite that much energy. I think I’ll lie down for a minute.

Prepare to leave house & do whatever I had planned: You can do this! You don’t have to stay long. Just come back home when you are ready to rest.

At the destination: Roaming aimlessly, unsure exactly why I’m there and what was so urgent. <Look at watch>. Well, I think it’s about time to go home & rest. 🤣

Next day: Rinse & repeat.

There you have the cycle of healing when you’re trying to balance a determined, optimistic brain with a body that just needs you to rest and heal.

Today, I will remind myself: 🎵One day at a time, sweet Jesus. 🎶.

Oh, and I’m NOT leaving the house…for today, anyway! 🙏🏻

Wishing you all a blessed and healing day that’s peaceful ahead. 🏝🏖

Insta: peacefulahead

E-mail: staceyfade@peacefulahead.blog

🙏🏻A Poem of Prayer for My Teenage Daughter’s Journey Through Middle School🙏🏻

If you met my 13 year-old daughter,

You’d know she’s a blessing to me.

Wisdom exceeding her years,

Just trying a teenager to be.

Although boys are not yet her focus,

Her heart has been broken by life.

Not trying to create any drama,

Just fighting to overcome strife.

With a heart as big as Texas,

She worries about those whom she loves.

Watching family members face severe illness,

She’s kept faith in her God who’s above.

So, no, she’s not your typical teen,

She cares not about what others wear.

But she gives all she has to her loved ones.

And if you need her, she’ll be there.

It hurts my heart to see her

Keep trying her best to conform.

When I know that God made her special,

To show others how to weather a storm.

While her gifts may not be the ones sought

By those looking to fit in a mold.

I have no doubt they will serve her

As she grows more courageous and bold.

So many kids face the pressure

To stand out and be the star of the school.

They must keep their opinions inside,

Do what’s asked of them, follow the rules.

Well, I was one of those who tried,

To please everyone with all I had.

But I realized many years later

On the inside, I was quite sad.

I’d spent so much energy complying,

There was none left for me to see…

The unique gifts and beauty inside me,

Everything God intended me to be.

So when I became a Momma, I knew

That I’d do whatever necessary

To empower my girl to be herself,

In spite of societal norms to the contrary.

So while this part of life may be a challenge.

And at times hard to see the big picture.

I have faith that her strength will continue to grow,

And her gifts will lead to amazing adventures.

I’m beyond proud to be the Mother

Of a girl who’s true to her higher power.

And I’ll walk beside her through every step of this journey,

Knowing God’s plan is greater than ours.

When it seems that you’re lost in the masses,

And can’t find the place you belong.

Please remember that you’re already there…

Where God placed you; He knew all along.

Instagram: peacefulahead

💙🤝The Healing Gifts of Friendship, Food, and Fellowship 🥗🥘💙

For the past two weeks, I’ve had one job…heal. After having an extensive breast reconstruction surgery, I’ve spent 90% of every day wearing extremely tight binding garments to reduce post-surgery swelling and allow my body the time it needs to rest and prepare for the rehabilitation process ahead. To say that the restrictions on movement and necessity of wearing compression garments 24/7 has challenged my nerves would be an understatement. DEEP BREATHS…This, too, shall pass!

While I’ve been home and still unable to drive, I have been beyond blessed by the kindness of family and friends who have helped me through each step of this process. My dear husband has kept up with laundry and helped me stay on schedule with medication, my Mom cleaned our house, and both of them have pitched in to help my teenage daughter carry on without missing out on any part of her life. Several friends showed up with delicious home-cooked food, ready to spend time visiting. Each part of this journey over the past five years has included time when I was unable to leave the house, and my family has been stretched thin trying to keep the household running. I am constantly amazed at the blessing we receive when someone takes the time to deliver nourishing food, but most importantly, when they pause to spend time visiting. To me, there is no greater representation of what Jesus expects from us than to spend time with those who are secluded, whether it be for physical or mental health reasons, or aging.

This experience has reinforced my desire to find a way to give back or pay it forward more frequently. I feel that I, like so many, have good intentions, yet fail to follow through with actions so many times because we are stretched thin by so many other life demands. I would love to create a program that would simplify the process locally to connect people who wish to give with those who have needs.

While I’m not sure exactly what is needed to make that happen, I have faith the God will make it clear when I keep His love and light at the forefront of my efforts. Here’s to finding a way to coordinate goodness and help more people to enjoy a life that’s peaceful ahead.

🌸Reclaiming Femininity With Reconstruction; Hope and Healing in Sight🌸

Yesterday was finally the day. I arrived at the hospital for DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction. For this procedure, fat is taken from the belly and used to make breast mounds. It took about 4 hours, thanks to my awesome doctor who works with a partner. Many of these procedures take 10-12 hours as the doctor chooses to work alone. When I had a mastectomy for breast cancer 5 years ago, my surgeon was able to keep my existing implants, which allowed me to take my time healing after treatment before deciding to have reconstruction. After surgery yesterday, I found out that one of those had bursted, therefore causing a very uneven set of “foobs” (term for fake boobs in the bc community). When I woke up, I could not wait to see the results. The first thing I noticed was that my chemo port was gone. I’d had to leave it in for this long “just in case the aggressive cancer returned”. For the past 4 years, I’ve had to return to the Cancer center once every six weeks to have it flushed. Talk about a constant reminder. I’m so very thankful that thing is gone! While I’ll never forget the experience of having breast cancer, I am now able to appreciate the changes that it has made in me, and move forward, using the strength and faith I’ve gained along this journey.

The next thing I noticed when I looked down was that I have CLEAVAGE! Then, further down, I saw a COMPLETELY FLAT BELLY! Wow!!! I am so very grateful to overcome this final hurdle. I can’t even begin to fathom what it will be like to go shopping for clothes after spending the past 4 years trying to cover up in oversized, flowy tops!

I was required to stay in bed for the remainder of the day & overnight. Today, I’ll be getting up and walking a few times & sitting in a chair. The only pain I feel so far is some pretty intense burning sensations at the hip-to-hip incision site, and a bit more of the same on my upper incision sites. Hoping that today, pain will be kept to a minimum.

One of the first thoughts I had was “why did I put this off so much longer than necessary?” Then, I was immediately able to reflect on the gratitude I feel for every step of the journey. Because I was able to accept my body, although it was quite disfigured for the past few years, I now have a deeper sense of self-love and compassion than I had ever thought possible. I now realize that the delay was necessary for me to learn to love myself, and confirm that although my body is not the same as it was when we began dating, my dear husband truly loves me for me. What better gift could I have received?

Wishing you all a beautiful day that’s filled with gratitude,acceptance, and the hope of a life that’s peaceful ahead.