S: It's a wonderful life!
1: This is me - Staci - when I was around two. This book is about my life - where I live and work - where I travel, my photography and my art. Welcome to my life. It's a wonderful life!
2: This is my home. My husband, Eric; son, Grant; and I have lived here with my Mom and Dad for the last three years. We added two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office and a den on to their house three summers ago. Those first two years were a gift to me.
3: That's Eric and me in the back. My Mom and Dad and Grant are there in the front. I have always had a great relationship with my parents. This is the sad part of my story. I lost my Mom to pancreatic cancer March 2008.
4: My Dad | My Grandmother with my Mom | My Dad still lives on the other end of our home. He's a quiet guy. His hobbies are reading, collecting coins and guns. I enjoy his company. | My Grandmother is 91 this year. She lives two hours away from me so I don't get to see her as much as I would like. She's an avid book reader. I talk to her every evening on the phone. I wish we lived closer.
5: Eric's Mom and Dad | Pawpaw is jolly and has twinkly eyes. He works with high risk children. He's also a musician and avid movie watcher. | Mawmaw is a musician too. She teaches panio to students. She loves to sew and is quite talented at it. Grant loves to go and spends days at a time with them.
7: My Mom was born in 1942 at Sparks hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I was born in that same hospital. My Mom was such a support and encouragement in my life. She taught me how to live with constant pain and to trust in God when cancer took over her body. Before she got cancer she had been in a wheelchair from arthritis for six years. She had lost her independence, she could no longer walk and her hands were curled from the disease. But I can honestly tell you that she never asked why and she never complained. She didn't want to have it or the cancer but she did. She didn't let it dominate her life and she wouldn't let it crush her hope in God - even with terminal pancreatic cancer. The last seven months with her were a gift. I cherish every last moment I had with her. One of my favorite lines from The Shawshank Redemption is when Andrew says to Red in a letter that he had left him under a tree: "Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things and hope never fails." I miss my Mother. I have hope that I will see her again. And it will be a very good day.
8: Now hospitals, cancer and sorrow have been a dominating theme in my life over the past year and a half. Eric would put his hands on each side of my face and make me look in his eyes. "We're going to make it. It's going to be ok," he would say. You know, when God says, "If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed," it is true if you're willing to totally let go and trust him. I had nothing left inside of me to hold on to but Jesus. At that point it had all been said and done. There was so escape and no turning back. I would trust God or I would die too. An emotional death. I couldn't even hold on to Him really. Even that was too much for me to try to do. He would have to hold on to me. I laid down in the floor of my bathroom and told Him that this was way bigger than me. I can't handle it. Would you please just squeeze me tight so I know you're with me. I imagined that he did. I could almost actually feel the warmth of His hands. That's when my journey began. The one with me curled up in a tight ball at night and Him holding me close. No words were exchanged. No prayers were prayed. I just rested in Him. He just sat with me.
9: For over a year and a half God has sat with me. He's been such a huge presence in my life - even without any words being said. It's true. If the Son has set you free then you are free indeed. Jesus kept me from damaging myself emotionally. He took care of me when I couldn't. He held on to me when I had no strength to hang on with. He gave me a peace that did not make sense. He set me free. Only God can do that. Standing at the foot of her bed the evening my Mom died we both were set free. She had gone her way and now I would go mine. And it was ok. She was ok. I was ok. Knowing how much I loved my mother and her being my dearest friend you would think that I would have cried that night by her bedside. But I didn't. We had fought the good fight and we had both won. Even when sorrow overwhelmed me and her voice was silenced we still had won. I learned a lot from her her during her illness. I leared a lot about God. I am free.
10: You had to know all of that to get to this part of my life. Those events are at my core. I can't do anything for God to be pleased with me. I don't NEED to do anything for God to be pleased with me. I figured out He was crazy about me just like I am. Wow, now that is huge. So who am I? | then | now | wife | mother | daughter | friend | granddaughter | artist | photographer | follower of Jesus | dog lover
11: eric | grant | Eric and I are the same age. Don't let his hair fool ya. We met at college when we were eighteen. He was a year ahead of me so I do think of him as older. Plus, he's got all these degrees from school and he's working on his doctrate now. So that makes him older and wiser! Doesn't it? He's patient and kind to me. He's my biggest fan. He's my best friend. I like holding his hand. | Grant is 12 now. He's my greatest joy. He's gifted in relating to people. He's a worldclass traveler and is a joy to travel with. He's been to China five times and hopes to go to India, Italy and Mexico in the coming year. He loves U2 and playing the bass guitar. I like him a lot.
12: This is Murphy. She's a miniature dashchund. She is a funny little thing. She loves to snooze in her nest, eat, eat, and eat (she's a little portly) and play with her toys. She hates walks and doesn't like to get too far from her nest and the kitchen. She was my fourth dog.