Ya'll I have to admit that lately, life has just been plain HARD! Back in March it seemed like the thread began to unravel...and quite frankly on some days it seems like it hasn't stopped a bit! Just to give you a better understanding let me let you in on a piece of my life....

One week before my 30th birthday my Father called to inform me that my Papa, who was ill with a terminal disease, was in his last days. I made plans to take the kids for that one last visit, but I didn't make it in time. In fact at 9:30pm the night before my 30th birthday I received the sad news that Papa had passed away, just 2 days before I had planned to arrive. That same day that I found out Papa was in his last days, we found out that my Mother-in-law was re-diagnosed with ovarian cancer after 4 years of a clean bill of health! We packed up our babies, headed to Florida to celebrate the life of my Papa and enjoy the company of family from all around the world.  We came home long enough to do some laundry, and headed north to Birmingham to wait alongside Matt's family as his Mother faced a very intense surgery, that turned out to be more extensive and invasive than we originally expected.

During the course of this time, I felt the Lord whisper to my spirit that we were about to endure a "season" of hardship. I was baffled that we were having to face this level of "hard" stuff. To be honest I didn't know how to sympathize with my Father as I watched him  bury his own Father, and I didn't know what to say or how to act as I watched my Mother-in-law face a long road of recovery and 2nd battle against that nasty disease we call cancer.I even watched my Mom face trials of trusting God in her own life, which was always emotionally draining for me because of the sympathy I felt for her during her tough time.  I felt lonely, like no one around me knew, or could know, or even understand what I was going through. I didn't know how to comfort my own husband as he began to worry about his only surviving parent's health. I didn't know what to say when my Mom called with her trying news. At times I just felt empty, even allowing relationships to suffer from the sadness I was feeling inside.  In fact I would say that most of the time I felt like my glass wasn't even 1/2 empty, but more like 3/4 empty!

In the midst of the obvious hardship, everyone at work seemed to be disappearing, most to better job positions, some to happier places in their lives, and some to equally hard places as I was in. This "hole" in the office had to filled by someone...ME and my sweet co-worker Sarah had to pick up the slack left behind by 2 amazing sweet friends that were now facing new roles in their own lives. Do you know how hard it is to pick up the slack when you only work 12 hours a week?! Thats right, I only work 12 hours a week (for the time being anyway). Those of you who work full time try to imagine doing your job and then some in just 12 hours - its not a dreamy image is it? Don't get me wrong, I love love love my job, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to get it all done.

By the end of May, things started to turn around, work started balancing out, my Mother-in-law was recovering well, and healing began in the midst of broken relationships, and I even begin to see new ones form. I began thinking that this hard season was over! We went on vacation with my in-laws to the beach, and let me tell you...when it rains...its POURS! LITERALLY!! It rained on us for 4 straight days, no sunshine, no beach - this apparently was a glimpse for the Damato family of what was to come - because when the vacation was over we got more negative news on our fight with cancer! It was already back, and it hasn't even been 2 months! We were all devastated at this news! We have started researching foods, treatments, alternative treatment centers. We have said "what if..." until we've cried, we have been angry, sad, hopeful, faithful, and ready to fight all at the same time! We are EXHAUSTED! We feel alone even when we aren't! We don't have what it takes to invest in others outside our family circle.  But do you know who was always there? My God, my amazing merciful, grace giving Heavenly Father!

It was during these times that worship was most important. We took time out of our busyness to devote a night to uninterrupted worship, we began to get refueled. While singing the lyrics to "Came to My Rescue" the Lord literally jumped into my memory bank and began flashing scenes before my very eyes of the many times He has come to my rescue over the course of my life. From moments of being frightened as a little girl, to the night I sought out my own salvation through Jesus Christ. From times of feeling completely alone to the times I survived giving birth to my 2 miracle babies! Ya'll, HE LOVES ME! HE LOVES MY FAMILY! HE LOVES YOU! No matter what trials you are facing, He is right there with you, waiting for you to call out to Him. He is waiting for you to allow Him to rescue you from the pit you are in! He was waiting for me to ask Him for His supernatural strength to survive these many painful things gracefully and with dignity.

Although it was sad to see my Papa pass, I am fully convinced he is heaven pain free, enjoying his newly improved body the Lord has given him. Although it is hard to see my Mother-in- law face cancer, I know she is a fighter, and she has what it takes to survive and win this battle! Although my Mom faced trials of her own, the Lord reigned victorious in her life, proving He can and will provide in times of need. Although I allowed a relationship to suffer he reminded me of a few precious bonds of friendship from both my childhood and adult life. He even redeemed my broken situation to allow me to open my heart to new relationships.

On Sunday we had our son Lucas baptized and dedicated to raise him to know Jesus as he grows. Our families stood by our side while we made this commitment. During the sermon our Pastor made mention that every family suffered from a little bit of disfunction, but as I looked to see who all was around me, I realized we were strangely functional instead! How blessed am I that my divorced parent's can celebrate the good in my life together? How blessed am I that I have 2 great sets of parent's to call my own and share good times with at the dinner table on occasion? How blessed am I that I have amazing in-laws who are always willing to be there with us no matter what they are facing in their own lives? How blessed am I that I get to only work 12 hours a week when I could be forced to work more because of the lack of current staff? How blessed am I? As I began to reflect on these things, I realize that my glass isn't 3/4 empty, or 1/2 empty...its full...full to over flowing! There will always be trials and tribulations in this life. It's how we choose to handle them that matters. Yes, all these things were hard, and some still are - but my attitude toward them can and will make all the difference in how I let them affect me, and my home!

Often, God has to remind me to be thankful for all things in order to fully understand His love for me! He has a plan greater than my own. He knows what we can handle with ease, and he also knows exactly what needs to be done to GROW OUR FAITH! Are you open to have your faith grow in the Lord? Are you willing to face the 1/2 empty glass only to discover its actually full to overflowing?  Are you open to allowing the Lord to redeem some unfair situations in your life?

As I tell you all this, I ask that you will pray for our family as we continue to face some of these hard trials. Pray for healing, wisdom, guidance, and peace as we stand together to fight against cancer. Continue to pray for me as I sort through these feelings of emptiness and loneliness, that I would open my eyes (heart) to see what the Lord wants to teach me during this time. That I would set the right example of faith and attitude for those big precious blue eyes that are watching my every move every day! I want to rise above through all the waves of this storm. I know the calm is coming, but I first must survive the storm at hand.

Until Next Time, Be Blessed, and Be a Blessing!