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Jacksonville Senior Photographer // Scarlett Lillian Seniors: The valley.

Oct 26, 2008

The valley.

Sometimes I wonder how much I should put here on the blog. If I should go into the messy emotional things I go through, or just only post the blogs when all is well. I'm sure for marketing, it's bad to go into the messy emotional things, but I've always believed in keeping it real. Mom and I were having this debate recently, more so about her blog, and how people have encouraged her to write about the REAL mess our family is going through as we progressively see my dad get worse, from hospital and insurance drama, to the disappointment in long time friends or family who have yet to show concern, to everything in between. Mom decided to keep her blog positive, because she wants to show that she's having faith in spite of everything. She wants to be an encouragement to others who read her blog. She wants to prove that God is strong in our weakness.

But today was the kind of day where we were both a crying mess. We decided last minute to go and see a movie to distract us, but afterward we just sat in the parking lot crying about all our fears and anger and confusion and doubt and emptiness we feel as we slowly feel my dad slipping away more and more. His tumor continues to increase and each day he's in more and more pain as his body breaks down.

These tears though come after a beautiful day we shared together the day before as all three of us got in the car to travel to Tallahassee to attend the Florida State football game, the first for my dad this season. My dad barely had enough strength to go, but he has always been the biggest Seminole fan, and it was always one of his greatest joys in life, sitting on the 50 yard line, row 2 at each home game for the past decade. In college, I would drive all the way from University of Florida just to go to the Florida State games with him (I know, I know, I'm a Gator traitor!). I've never been a big football fan, but I would make the 2.5 hour drive just to hang out with my dad and pretend to be the son he never had for a few hours as we ragged the other team and shouted our "Ooo ooo o o oooohs" while doing the tomahawk chop.

But yesterday, it was just different. We drove 3 hours to the game, but only stayed until half time because he simply didn't have the energy to stay longer. I cherished every moment enjoying the experience with him again, but at the same time, it saddened my heart because I knew deep down it would be his last game. Mom confirmed it today when she said that he said last night that he knew it was too.

So today was kind of the aftermath of that sadness. That gut wrenching sinking feeling where a huge emptiness consumes my heart knowing I'm really losing one of the two people who mean the most to me in this world. The kind of feeling where the slightest thought of my dad fills my eyes with tears. The kind where, yes, I say I'm a Christian, but I don't have the strength to even pray or seek God's presence right now, because honestly a huge part of my heart is furious at Him for taking away my dad like this as I watch the strongest man I ever knew became so weak and fraile. I know he's not gone yet, but the whole thing has been kind of like ripping off a band-aid. It hurts less if you just rip it off, but if you rip it slowly, pulling one hair at a time, it hurts like &*!$! But then again, I had a friend who recently lost her dad to a heart attack, so I know neither way is less painful.

I felt numb when I first heard the news of his cancer, but now I simply feel broken. I continue to try to block the pain and move on with life and distract myself with work, but it's all more like a fake superglue trying to hold my life together when instead I feel like crawling under the covers and crying my eyes out like a little girl who wants to scream IT'S NOT FAIR!

I'm not writing all this for sympathy, and I don't mean to keep whining, but I'm just being real with all of you through the ups and downs of coping with this reality that has shaken up my world. I thank you for all your continued prayers standing in the gap where my faith is lacking right now. Oh, how so quickly we can go from being on the mountain to back in the valley... but I know that's what faith is all about as Ginny Owens sings in one of my all time favorite songs "If You Want Me To."



Blogger Jess Cumbie said...

Oh how many times I've listened to this song, over and over again, crying my eyes out.

You'll be in my prayers Scar, I lost a dear family member, might as well have been my grandfather, to lung cancer and my grandmother isn't doing the greatest with her struggle with breast cancer. Granted they aren't parents but seeing someone you love go through the pain of all this rips your heart out cause there is nothing you can do about it...

October 26, 2008 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Rachel S. said...

This brings sadness to my heart, but I know that God has a place in all of this. I'm so glad you were able to share the experience with them, and no matter what happens I'm here for you and love you.

See you tomorrow!


October 26, 2008 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger jamiedelaine said...

I'm continually remembering you guys in my prayers right now--never cease to be real on your blog Scarlett.

October 26, 2008 at 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand where you are. Praying for you and your family. Sometimes you just have to let others hold you tight in prayer as you just be.


Sunny (Connie's daughter)

October 26, 2008 at 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...


It is tough. I just got back from my Mens Retreat and I was reminded by other men how God does things His way. I know its no comfort, but it is comfortable to know that when God calls us home, we're going to a really really AWESOME place, amen. God just may need His son sooner than later. My friend reminded me this today when he was explaining his pain due to losing his daughter to SIDS. Heaven is AWESOME, God is AWESOME, our grief and sorrow is real, but there definitely is reason to celebrate. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers. I pray for strength and comfort. It's His will that I pray, I just still don't understand His timing. God Bless You.

October 26, 2008 at 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear scarlett, you dont know me... my name is Beatriz and i been reading your blog for three months now... is so exiting how you write... and you have the best picks i have ever seen, your love for your work...is like an open book is all so real sometimes you make me read but today i cried with you... you inspire me to express my self and dont let all in... that's why i want you to know that God is holding your hand, your dad's and your mother right now, and when you cry is in jesus shoulder you crying, dont feel a shame for feeling weak in your spirit... we all do and he knows we do, and believe me i never been in a situation like this and i dont even imagine the pain, frustration, inexplicable fear...and like i said i dont really know you but i surely know that the love that bond you and your family is a divine gift which will be always be there as well as your dad even when you cant see him, you will listen to his words and teach them to your kids, because God give you a whole life of memories with him so it could trascend after life, so you dont have to see him to feel his presence and so you can know that even when this is really dificult and tragic...his spirit will be reunited with you inside your heart everytime... God will definitely allow that.
May the peace, and the strenght of Jesus Christ be with you as my prayers will...

October 26, 2008 at 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep enjoying all those little times with your dad. Take it from someone who found out too late just how sick their father was... you can never get back any of those missed moments. There are times I wish I had known far in advance... it would have hurt to watch my father get worse, but at least i would have had those moments.

Your dad is still here... enjoy him and trust that God is watching out for you and your family. You have so many people thinking of you and praying for you all. Take heart in that, even on the days when you seem to be losing hope or faith.

Take care,
Katie S. (well, now S-D for the last name!)

October 26, 2008 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger kristin root said...

i always find it amazing how these songs words are so true to life. i've heard them hundreds of times before, but until you're in a valley do you understand them.

lifting you up tonight...

October 26, 2008 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Amy Hutchison said...


It's ironic you posted this tonight. I got back from youth group at our church where I mentor about 10 10th grade girls. Tonight's message was "Why does God allow bad things?" and we had the girls tell us why they think. They, of course, related it to the Kanye West song... You know the one... "That that don't kill me can only make me stronger." But I think it's so much more complicated than that, isn't it?

You're exactly right... it's bittersweet being able to have this time with your dad. You're lucky that you got to shoot the video for your wedding, go to his last game with him and enjoy it to the fullest possible, and really spend time with him. But at the same time, having to go through this slow pain seems so terrible at the same time.

I hope you'll get to the point where the sadness will fade and it will be more of a release... but I know that is much easier said than done! We are all praying for you and your family.

October 26, 2008 at 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Heather Thorne said...

Scarlett, I know this is such a difficult time for you but what a gift to cherish now and forever--- all these beautiful words you share about your family and the battle your dad is so courageously fighting. My prayers are still with you all and may you find some hope and courage in this passage from Isaiah 41:10:
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

October 26, 2008 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Amy Clifton said...

Thank you for sharing your life with us. It is hard to bare yourself to people you know, let alone complete strangers, but you always manage to do it with beautiful, heartfelt words. I know that everyone who knows you and your family--whether in real-life or in the blogworld--aches to read the words in this entry. My heart breaks for you and your family. As an only child myself, it is hard to even allow myself to imagine how painful this is for you. No doubt, God is confusing sometimes. Love every minute you have with your dad, take lots and lots of photos and videos and recordings of his sweet voice, and write it all down, whether you share it with us or not. And don't work yourself so much that you miss out on his life...reach out to the photography community if you need help covering sessions!! You all are in my prayers, Scarlett.
--Amy in SC

October 26, 2008 at 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so bad with words...I must have typed and deleted, typed and deleted a couple times now...just know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Always keep it real. It's refreshing and it's the real you.

<3 Jessi, Daniel & Teagan

October 26, 2008 at 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

It makes me so sad that you and your family are having to go through this Scarlett. You and your family are still in my prayers.

October 26, 2008 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger Alice said...

I love this song also. As I read your blog, it reminds me of my last days with my dad a couple years ago. I had a great visit with my parents on Thursday. Friday dad fell, and ruptured a valve in his heart. The hospital kept him on total life support for 5 days, waiting for my mom and sister to understand and be able to tell dad good-bye. I was the only one, outside the medical staff, who truly understood what was happening. It was really tough. I can't tell you how much praying and questioning I went through. I knew God was in control and had His finger on what was happening, but I didn't understand. The doctors were able to bring dad around enough for the three of us to be able to tell him good-bye - my mom and sister thinking it was good-bye for that moment, me understanding it was really good-bye until we meet again in heaven. God bless you, Scarlett! May God bless your mom and your precious dad and hold you all tight in His arms. May you be a comfort to each other and hold each other up to the Lord through these coming days. You are a strong witness. You are made of tough material. You are a strong woman ... a strong woman of faith ... a woman who will make it through.

October 26, 2008 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger amy said...

Hey Scarlett,

I decided a while ago that cancer is not fair. I watch kids suffer at work and know that this is not what the Lord intended from the beginning. It makes me long for the day when the promise of the Kingdom will be complete, and all will be restored to the way that it was designed from the beginning. I know that God is who He says He is - that He is Good and that He holds the world in His hands, and that He hears the cries of His children. I don't understand why He often seems to be silent when it comes to my desire to see physical healing of my friends at the hospital. But, I also know that my God is big enough to listen to my struggles and my questions. I know and I know that you know that heaven will bring complete healing for your Dad, but that doesn't help much with the pain that you are feeling and will continue to feel. I am praying for you tonight, friend.


October 26, 2008 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

Scarlett, while I had a few trials of my own this weekend, nothing can compare to what you're going through. I almost cried in church this morning listening to "Blessed Be the Name." One line particularly struck me: my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name." I'm praying that even though you can't see or understand right now, His mighty hand will continue to uphold you and bring you comfort.

October 27, 2008 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Gwendolyn Tundermann Photography said...

I know you feel weak right now, but your faith and your strength are so inspiring, as is your love for your family. Having lost all four of my grandparents to long battles with cancer, I can relate to the pain, frustration, and sadness you are experiencing right now. Cherish these moments. I pray and hope that you will still have many more to come!

October 27, 2008 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger Cheyenne Schultz said...

I don't really know what to say, Scarlett....I guess I'll just be real too and tell you that this just breaks my heart. Please give a shout if I can do anything for you. Hang in there, girl.

October 27, 2008 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Wow, that just makes me feel so sad and sick inside. It also reminded me of my grandmother. Your story about the game. My grandmother was awesome and one of my buddies. She came over every Christmas morning and spent the day with us (among others but christmas is relevant to this story). Anyhow she was always wearing a Santa hat and little bells or whatever. She also always wore this homemade necklace of a large bell with glued on eyes and nose and antlers to look like Rudolph. I always commented on it. She was one of those funny grandmas with great jokes and stuff. Anyway she was diagnosed with lung cancer and I remember the Christmas she came over wearing that necklace and she gave it to me. She said I want you to have this. At that moment I knew that was the last Christmas day I was going to spend with her. It was very sad. Although the memory still puts a smile on my face. I wear her necklace every Christmas now. So thanks for that.

Hang in there. <3

October 27, 2008 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Red Room Studios said...

Honey, I'm so sorry. We all wish bad things wouldn't happen to good people. All I can think of right now is that song by Natalie Grant called "Held", where it basically says, God never promised us we wouldn't go through hard times, but his promise was that when we do, we would always be held in his arms. God is holding you right now Scarlett...and he's with you even when you can't feel anything. We love you girl.


October 27, 2008 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Kenzie Shores Photography said...

Scarlett, thank you for keeping it real and true to what life is about, it's messy and hard, and I believe God is working through you as you share your testimony. I'm sorry you're going through this difficult time...I know difficult isn't even a word to define what you're going through. But it takes A LOT of courage to open yourself up and be so raw with your emotions to thousands of strangers. Thank you, and I pray for your strength to get through this.

God Bless you.

October 27, 2008 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Rene Williams said...

I am so glad you have this circle of friends and a "family" through this blog, who lifts you up as you travel this bittersweet journey with Daddy and me. Thanks to all of you who wrap your arms around "my boo" and our family with your sweet thoughts and prayers. Thank you for caring, even those who we have never met.

We are all family through the love of Christ and it is wonderful to see the Christian spirit alive and well across the universe.

Beautiful Blessings,


October 27, 2008 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Memories by Micha said...

You and your family will remain in my prayers. We sat probally 15 rows above you guys too bad I would have never known you were there! Glad you guys had a good time.

October 27, 2008 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Laurel Housden said...

How Brave you are sharing your story. I have also been following your Mom's blog too..You may not see it now..but your story is helping so many families right now going through the same experience. My prayers are with you and your DAD and MOM.

Gainesville, Fl

October 27, 2008 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger kennykimdotcom said...

Great song, great entry, and job! you rock Scarlett!

October 27, 2008 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Matthew Hammett said...

My wife and I are praying for you and your family. Keep your head up. You inspire so many! Your impact is felt in this world.

October 27, 2008 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger The Keilers said...

Your transparency touched me. I think God can deal with every bit of our honesty. I'm praying for you and your mom, that God would wrap you both so tightly in His arms right now. And that God would give your daddy peace and that he would sense His comfort. And you're right, this isn't fair and it will never be "okay" this side of heaven. But thank God there's another side. You're an awesome woman with a lot of depth and you bless so many with your willingness to be "real". I'm praying for you.

October 27, 2008 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Mary Marantz said...

we love you and will be thinking of you and praying for your whole family! I know that took a lot of guts to post, and I just want you to know how proud I am of you for doing it!


October 27, 2008 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Hybrid Photography said...

Oh Scarlett, I am in tears as I read this. I am so heartbroken for you. Please know that you and your family are in my prayers. *big hugs*

PS-I thought it was interesting...the captcha for this comment was "bless"

October 27, 2008 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger lauren clark said...

Scarlett, my dear, I'll pray for you today.

October 27, 2008 at 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Beth Morgan said...

Hi friend...I have tears in my eyes. I praise God that He is giving you sweet moments and life long memories with your daddy.

I can not begin to understand how you feel or how hard this is, but I know that our God will hold you.

October 27, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

I feel so blessed to have such an amazing support system here on the blog. I know I don't know a lot of you personally, but I thank you for being a virtual friend and surrounding my family with your prayers and love! I can truly feel your prayers working because I am feeling a lot better today, minus puffy eyes from yesterday. ;-) Please know I read each comment and cherish your words of encouragement. Thank you for reminding me of God's promises and speaking His truth into my life.

This really has moved me the way you have all been there for me during all of this with my dad and I'm working behind the scenes to bring you all something special where we can continue to rally together in prayer for others too! Stay tuned!

October 27, 2008 at 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Just wanted to say, keep your focus on Him. I've been going through a "valley" lately, and there are times when the only thing I can say when I pray is "why, God". But only He knows the answers, but we must keep focused on one thing "all things work together for good" no matter how bleak, and painful the situation may be.

May He comfort you and your family today as only He can.

October 27, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey boo ( I call my girls boo boo so I LOVE that your mom called you that), I am so glad that you choose to share with us all the downs as well as the ups because it makes you a real person and that is why we are all still here. We were drawn in with the photography and then captured with your personality and the person we have gotten to know behind the lens. Yes you don't know most of us but what does that say about you? You have this huge support group who really do care about you and your family and even love you and we have never met you in person. We rally around you when times are good and bad and there will be days when you don't agree with God and you will be mad at him and might not pray that day but you better be darn sure that we all will for you and that is a powerful beautiful thing to have Miss Scarlett. Who knows why God does what he does but we just have to trust and believe and it's ok to doubt everything. We're here for you and I HATE that I live so far from you because I just want to come over and bring you something pink and give you a hug and tell you that I'm here for you if you need anything but for now this email will have to do. Maybe I'll go take a picture of something pink and send it to you :) It's ok not to be strong all the time, we are here for you. Have a great day and know that there are total strangers out there pulling for the three of you XOXOs. Sorry about all the drama I just don't know when to stop :)

October 27, 2008 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

LOL, who was the last person to post that called me Boo?

October 27, 2008 at 3:46 PM  
Anonymous syreenab said...

Hi Scarlett, I ALWAYS stop by and I NeVeR comment (shame on me) But I just couldn't leave without leaving my love....when my faith feels weak one of my favorites is Luke 22:31-32 ".....satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But, I have prayed for you, that thy faith fail not.... So whenever I am feeling weak in my faith I remember that Jesus prayed for us that our faith fail us not!!! With Love, Syreena

October 27, 2008 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

Scarlett... Words escape me right now. I wish I had words that would encourage you, that would raise up that fighting spirit deep within your soul. Please know that your dad and your family will always be in my prayers... i loathe cancer.

October 27, 2008 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Amy DeYoung said...

I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through right now. There are no words. Only prayers and hugs.. sent to you from Texas!

October 27, 2008 at 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Adrienne said...

Scarlett, thank you for continuing to share both the ups and the downs in your blog. Your honesty is so refreshing and inspirational. It was absolutely heartwrenching to read this post, but I'm so glad you shared it with us. I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers!

October 28, 2008 at 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Franca said...

Thinking about you, Scarlett! :-\

October 28, 2008 at 6:57 PM  
Anonymous shelle said...

There was a touching story on Oprah today and I thought of you. The words of the Mom who knew she was losing her son, "I will be sad later" I will live each and every moment with him as happy! Easier said than done I am sure...
I will continue to lift your family up in prayer.

October 28, 2008 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger pinkcoffee photoart said...

My heart hurts for you. I can't say I know what your'e feeling, because I don't. I can't even imagine the pain and frustration and fear. I prayed for you after I read this post and promise I will continue to pray that the Great Comforter will wrap his arms around you and be everything you need right now. It's okay to be mad-you're human and God understands and He will be there when you are ready to reach out to Him.

October 29, 2008 at 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Melissa Tillman said...

Although you do not know me, I have been keeping up with your blog and admire your way of capturing the world and the beautiful people in it through your eyes.

I just wanted to say that you and your family are in my prayers. I lost my mother in September 2007 to leukemia. The ups and downs you are experiencing right now, I have been there. Lean on God through this difficult time and he will help to guide you.

October 29, 2008 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

This breaks my heart for yall. That previous post of yours where you danced with your Dad still has me in tears anytime I think about it. I don't know what to say other than I'm praying for yall!

October 29, 2008 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Tommy, Suzanne, and Mary Peyton said...

i am a friend of beth morgan's and have admired your work through her blog for some time.

i had to watch my father-in-law go through the same thing your dad is. it was horrible. but God was glorified through the whole thing. even though it was painful.

i understand, too, the sporting event (especially football!) connection - my husband's family has always been huge ole miss fans (sorry that we had to beat your gators this year!) and when his dad could no longer go to games, it was like the "final straw".

i will continue to keep you in my prayers - that God will wrap His arms around you and give you comfort and peace.

suzanne barnette

October 30, 2008 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger Beautiful Moments Photography said...

:( I am so sorry that your family are going through this. The worst part is that there is nothing that we can say or do to make it better, but as long as you know we are thinking of you it might in some way, help. Stay strong. xx

October 30, 2008 at 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Scarlett sorry doesn't seem the right word to express but I'm praying for your family to find peace.

October 30, 2008 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Jerry in Tampa said...

God Bless you Scarlett! Your tremendous love - and pain - come through your words. You are a fortunate person to hold your parents in such esteem - it shows they did a good job, were good models and you made the right choices.
Be well...

Jerry in Tampa

October 31, 2008 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

Thanks for all the new love!!

October 31, 2008 at 3:57 PM  

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