Monday, December 7, 2015

My Story, The Timeline Version

By Laurie Epps

If you’re new to my blog, you may wonder why I’m writing it, or what my platform is. Well, I’m not here to sell you anything, or to ask you to sell anything. I’m here as a messenger of God. I’m fully human. I’m flawed, and imperfect. I sin. I love. But I have a very important message to send the world, and I’m using my own blog to do it. I hope this blog will encourage and inspire you.

My cousin Kay & I in Dothan, AL

My Story
4.5 years ago, I had uterine cancer. I elected to take a summer off college, and have my hysterectomy done. My logic was simple: if my uterus was just going to keep growing tumors, and since I didn’t need it for survival, just remove the host. No uterus = No cancer.

After that, I spent the rest of the summer at the beach. In June, I went to Outer Banks, NC and in July, I went to Panama City, FL (pictured in Dothan, AL). I will treasure the time I spent with family that summer forever.

Pictured at Our Hotel, September 2012
3.5 years ago, my husband of 17 years abandoned the girls and I. At first, I didn’t really accept what was happening. I believed that he went to CA looking for work, even though he never called, and didn’t take interview clothes or a resume. After months without contact, I realized that he wasn’t coming back. After 20 years as a couple, I was now on my own, really on my own for the first time in my life. Half my life, I’d been a wife. I had to face my demons (pictured with my girls at a wedding on his side of the family just 2 months after he left).

My First Day as an Editorial Intern, January 2, 2013
Nearly 3 years ago, I was an editorial intern for my mentor and beloved friend, Edie Melson. I grew both professionally and as a person realizing that I had value. More importantly, maybe, that my writing had value, and truth. During this time, my blog took off and I became more consistent. Edie taught me about e-Books, magazine articles, blogging, SEO, social media, and most importantly to stop to formulate my own opinion.

Pictured with Todd Starnes of Fox News
2.5 years ago, I had the privilege of attending the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference up in the Western North Carolina Mountains at the Lifeway-Ridgecrest Conference Center. Great conferences, keynote speakers, good food, and friendships that I’ve maintained to this day stemmed from this conference. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. My kids were with my sister-in-law, and it truly was a time of rejuvenation. 

Pictured on Ventura Beach in CA a few days after Christmas 2013
2 years ago, my family flew the girls and I out for Christmas. It was the first Christmas in years that I wasn’t working at the mall. My friend, Anthony Joseph Scott Perez died just about a week before my flight. I had to choose whether to visit my father, or to fly to South Florida to go to his funeral. I felt that Anthony would’ve wanted me to see my family. After all, I’d not been back home for 7 years. 

Lining up for graduation
1.5 years ago, I graduated from Anderson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. I took this selfie while the students & I were lining up for graduation. So much hard work and tears went into my degree. Many said that I couldn’t do it, but I knew that I had to finish for my kids. Failure wasn’t an option.

Christmas Eve 2014
Last Christmas, I was looking for that Christmas job, and worked at Sears to give my girls a Christmas. But I never gave up. I decided to go to grad school. We celebrated the holidays on my days off, but all and all, it was very difficult. But I knew that God brought me through it all for a reason. I never lost sight of that.

Ellen's High School Graduation, July 29, 2015

Recent Times
Six months ago, my middle daughter Ellen graduated high school. We were beating the odds, and doing what many said we couldn’t. I’m proud of all my girls. They’re strong and independent women.

One of my numerous Workout Photos at the Gym
From June to now, I’ve lost 30 pounds by working out 4-5 days a week. I gained my weight being on bed rest for close to five years with recurring pregnancies, miscarriages, and tumors in my uterus. Society makes a lot of assumptions that are simply not true. People would make mean comments like that I was just lazy, or that I ate too much. I knew the truth, but it still hurt my feelings at times.

But somehow, reading the bible and prayer books all summer transformed me. I learned that I’ve got worth in the eyes of God, and I finally saw the good qualities that I had to offer. You wouldn’t think so, but it also changed my perception of fitness. Sure, what people said about me wasn’t true, but it was my fault for leaving myself in that condition, and it was my responsibility to regain some of my health back. Now instead, I’ve heard people say that they’re inspired by story.

What’s holding you back? I’m here to tell you that not cancer, divorce, weight-gain, personal loss, or poverty has gotten me down. God has carried me through it. The key to universe is gratitude, and I’m grateful for the air in my lungs. There is hope, always. Most important of all, is that it’s not over until God says it’s over.

Please share with me your stories. I’m so humbled and grateful for my readers. I made the decision this summer to become the story that I want to read. I hope this finds you well, and if it doesn’t, please leave your prayer request in the comments section below. Thank you.

Laurie Epps is featured in dozens of news articles, and literary journals both on and off the web. Laurie is also included in a number of short story anthologies, and does some ghostwriting for prominent professionals nationwide. Laurie is also active in a number of writer support groups and networks with writers from all over the country.

Laurie is a single mom, and is still raising her two youngest daughters, Ellen and Chloe. Laurie’s grown daughter, Melanie resides in California. Laurie is also a proud momma of three furry-babies; Laurie has turned in more than one manuscript with cat fur on it. When not teaching or writing, Laurie gets in as much beach time as her budget will allow, and loves to be working out or hiking. 

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