Choosing to Be Positive Through Life's Biggest Storms | positivity | redemption | loss | grief | encouragement | interview | freebie | free art print | be positive | mindset | story | testimony | #positivity #bepositive #positive #redemption #grief #sorrow #encouragement #testimony #story #interview #mindset #freebie #freeprintable #artprint

Everyone has a story. Some are more dramatic or traumatic than others, but we all have a story. We’ve all been through tough times and happy times. But what about when those huge trials come? I’ve got some insight for ya! Today I’m sharing my interview with my sister Elaine about choosing to be positive through life’s biggest storms.

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Choosing to Be Positive Through Life’s Biggest Storms

A while back, I was telling my sister about a particular person I had in mind to interview for the blog. She said rather pitifully, “Why don’t you want to interview me?” So I explained that this person is a very successful Christian businessperson, and I wanted to talk about how their faith has played a role in their success in the business world.

But then, a couple of weeks ago, it hit me. Elaine would be an amazing person to interview, because, even though she didn’t realize it, she does have a story. And it is quite the story.

Outtake from the interview — Elaine: Ugghh! Okay, I’m triggert! Me: Oh dear… 😂

She’s been through some pretty big trials in her life, so I wanted to sit down with her and talk about how those things impacted her. She had a lot of loss and upheaval in her life at a young age, and on top of that, she ended up losing her mom before she even graduated from college.

Literally one thing after another, and yet, her life didn’t fall apart. How did she keep it all together? Here’s her story!

And by the way, she’s an absolute hoot, so get ready for some laughs!

Me: Thanks for sitting down for an interview! I know you feel like you might not have much to share, but you’ve been through things.

Elaine: I mean, I guess I have!

Me: You have! Okay, so let’s start by talking about Grandma having a stroke. You were really young.

Elaine: Yeah, it was before I started Kindergarten.

Choosing to Be Positive Through Life's Biggest Storms | positivity | redemption | loss | grief | encouragement | interview | freebie | free art print | be positive | mindset | story | testimony | #positivity #bepositive #positive #redemption #grief #sorrow #encouragement #testimony #story #interview #mindset #freebie #freeprintable #artprint
Elaine on one of our many visits to Grandma’s house

Me: Having to deal with that, being so young, and being that—you saw Grandma pretty much every single day of your life—how do you feel like that impacted you?

Elaine: I know this is gonna sound really weird—this is gonna sound so weird, but I remember viewing it as an adventure. Because we were going to the hospital, and I was like, “This is an adventure!”

And then after she got out of the hospital, she went into the rehab hospital, and it was like an adventure… and I got to have pie, very exciting! I played foosball…

Me: I kind of know what you’re talking about, and I think it’s because we were kids, and there were people there who were responsible for taking care of whatever was going on, and we were kind of just along for the ride, and “whatever’s happening is happening.”

Elaine: Yeah.

Me: So like, we’re in the hospital and this is new and this is interesting, and things were different. But, you know, your life changed completely!

Elaine: It did! But it was like “fun” though.

Me: What about Grandma not being “Grandma” anymore? How did you deal with that? Were you mad or upset about it, or were you confused about it, or sad?

Elaine: I don’t remember… Maybe that’s how I dealt with it, I just don’t remember what I thought. Because I remember her being in the hospital, and then I remember her being home.

But whenever she first moved back home—she’d had a stroke, and it was bad—she couldn’t talk, but she was still more cognitively intact. But then as time went on, she had more and more strokes.

But I remember playing Cooties with her while you were at school. She would still play with me, we would play with Barbies and stuff.

Me: So, she didn’t scare you or anything like that, because she couldn’t talk or she would make weird noises?

Elaine: Nope!

Me: So what about when she went to the nursing home and you had to go there? I mean, you were still really little, did the nursing home scare you?

Elaine: No! Cause I thought it was fun! We would go to the pond… I remember when she first moved into the nursing home. It was around the time of the Nagano Olympics, and so whenever we would go there in the evenings, we would watch the Olympics. And we would make popcorn!

Me: Yeah, it was a fun time! I like those times too. I was still kind of sad though, just knowing that she would never—because at first there was hope that she could learn to do these things again, and it just didn’t happen, and so I was kind of sad about that.

But you know, I was older, so I think maybe I missed her a little bit more in that way, or was more aware of that maybe.

Elaine: Yeah. But I just remember it was a fun time to me, I had a good time, because then she moved to this place that I could explore and adventure in, and that was fun.

Me: So what do you think made you deal with it that way instead of going like, eyes wide: “Something’s wrong and this is bad, why isn’t she getting better?” What made you say, “Oh okay, this is gonna be a fun adventure, these things are new and different!” Why did you deal with it in that way, do you think?

Elaine: I think that’s just my personality.

Me: That’s just you? That’s just your lovely little self? (laughs)

Elaine: I think so! (laughs) And you know me, I love adventuring in buildings, so it was the perfect opportunity! But then later, she started getting worse, but she was also getting older. And friends at school had had their grandparents die, so I was more prepared for that.

So when Grandma died, I was 13, so I was a little bit more mature by then, and also some of our great aunts and uncles had died too, so I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the concept of people dying.

I think some people have never had someone in their family die, so when something like that happens, it can be scarring. And I was sad about her dying, obviously, but I knew to expect that people die.

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Elaine celebrating Christmas with our precious Grandma

Me: Okay, so what about Mom. You had just turned—I figured this up, how young you were—you had just turned 24 when she died. And I mean, that’s young! You were still in college, you were almost to get your degree, so you were seriously working towards that, and you had all this stuff going on.

And some people wouldn’t know how to handle all of that, with their mom just dying and all these things going on in their life. I mean, that’s a trauma! That’s a tragedy! So how were you able to keep your life from crumbling when that happened?

Elaine: …Experience?

Me: Experience?

Elaine: Yeah. Because Grandma had been ill. And died. And you know, our aunt had cancer. And then Grandpa had cancer, and had died. And our uncle was very ill and died. I knew that there’s a process to how this kind of situation works.

I mean, whenever you have a bunch of people in your family who get sick and die, or sometimes they don’t die—our aunt didn’t die—but whenever you experience that…? I was very familiar with hospitals, I was very familiar with nursing homes, with illness…

Me: But, there’s something different between when it’s your uncle or your grandpa or your grandma versus when it’s your mom.

Elaine: I’m getting there! (laughs) But the trappings of the experience weren’t traumatic to me. Because some of my friends? Their grandparents are still alive.

Me: They never lost anyone.

Elaine: They never lost anyone. And I had already experienced—not firsthand, not with my mom—but just in general, like, this is what a nursing home smells like. Or a hospital.

Me: Right, so it’s like, “Okay, she’s going into the hospital, we know how this works” kind of thing. So you’re not traumatized by that part of the experience.

Elaine: Yeah. I wasn’t like (wailing), “Oh my gosh, this is awful!” My first thought was like, “Where’s the cafeteria?” (laughs) Because whenever you spend a lot of time in the hospital, you either choose to get comfortable there, or you choose not to. You have a choice. And I chose to grow where I was planted.

I think also I knew more than you did [about the situation]. Because I was still living at home and you weren’t. So I think I knew for a really long time that something was wrong. And I don’t know, maybe that was God whispering in my ear, telling me things, like preparing me so that I wouldn’t completely fall apart.

I remember it would just be random things. I’d be in the shower washing my hair, and I’d think, “Ya know, when Mom dies…” and I’d think, “Why am I thinking like that?” And it would just pop up in my head.

And I remember 6 months before she went into the hospital, I had a cold and I felt really bad, and then Mom got it. And when she got that cold, she never got over it. Never.

Me: I remember her texting me because she couldn’t get over it. She thought maybe she had mono or something.

Elaine: And I kept thinking to myself, “This isn’t good. This is not a cold.” But I didn’t think it was cancer—although I should have—but I thought if it was cancer, there would’ve been a longer onset period. I think maybe in the back of my mind I always knew it was probably cancer. But it happened so quickly.

I thought maybe she was having kidney or liver failure, because I knew she almost died when she was younger because of her kidneys. And I kept telling her, “Mom, go to the doctor. Mom, go to the doctor. Mom! Go to the doctor!”

Me: Do you think she knew there was something going on and she just didn’t want to face it?

Elaine: I don’t know… I don’t know what she was thinking.

Me: And I hadn’t known any of that except she would text me once in a while and I’d say, “How are you?” and she’d be like, “Oh, I’m fine. I have this pain under my ribcage once in a while, I think maybe it’s a gallstone.” So I told her, “Well if it keeps up, go to the doctor.”

But I didn’t see what was going on. So I didn’t know anything about what was going on until that day she went into the hospital.

Elaine: Yeah, you were shocked. But I wasn’t shocked. I just remember that day when you took her to urgent care, I thought, “I wonder if this is the last time she’ll walk out of this house.”

And then when you called me and told me, I wasn’t surprised at all. Obviously, I was sad. I was sad because my mom was sick and gonna die, but I knew. I think maybe I was less traumatized than you because I had known for such a long time that something was just not right.

And you can’t completely emotionally prepare yourself for things like that, it just takes an emotional toll, but I think I just knew.

And Mom was young, I know. But also I always knew that my parents were “old,” and obviously being in your 60s isn’t super-duper old, but my friends’ parents were in their 40s. I always knew that my parents were going to die 20 years sooner than everybody else’s parents.

Choosing to Be Positive Through Life's Biggest Storms | positivity | redemption | loss | grief | encouragement | interview | freebie | free art print | be positive | mindset | story | testimony | #positivity #bepositive #positive #redemption #grief #sorrow #encouragement #testimony #story #interview #mindset #freebie #freeprintable #artprint
Little Elaine and me at the park with Mom

Me: Okay, so thinking about everything: Grandma having the stroke, and having all the seizures, and being bad for 10 years, and then our uncle being really sick and dying, Grandpa getting cancer and dying, Mom getting cancer and dying… How did you get through it?

Elaine: I just did.

Me: What kept you from saying, “Why me?” What kept you from falling into a puddle on the floor?

Elaine: (laughing) I don’t know! I don’t know. I think part of it is just my personality. You know the personality traits like sanguine, melancholy, choleric, or whatever? I do NOT tend toward melancholy, ever. I just cannot stay sad!

I have bouts of sadness, but I just don’t stay sad. Sometimes I’m like (mimes tearing up) and then the tear like sucks back up into my eye. (laughs) And I’m like, “Let’s go do something fun!” I just don’t have a tendency toward sadness.

I think part of it also is my personality where I compartmentalize a lot more, you know what I mean? So when I was at school, teaching my class, or sitting through lectures, I wasn’t thinking about Mom. I wasn’t worried about it. I was at school. I was there to kick butt and take names. That’s how I viewed it, I was gonna “win” school. So I think that’s a part of it. A combination of those things. I’m just not the type to collapse into a puddle on the floor.

Me: You feel like you’ve dealt with it?

Elaine: Yeah. I would say so.

Me: Did you ever “puddle” at all? A little bit?

Elaine: Well, when I had to email my professor that Mom died, I cried a bunch. I was really sad. And then I was like, “Okay.” And I sent it, and I went to sleep. I’m like a crazy person! (laughs)

Me: But I mean, we cried when she died. We were there when she died, and we were all crying and crying.

Elaine: Yeah, we cried. And I’m not gonna pretend like I wasn’t sad, but I just cannot hold on to sadness for long periods of time!

Me: Okay, because I know we’re different in that way, so I just wanna make sure you’re not stuffing things down.

Elaine: No, I’m not stuffing. Sometimes I’ll have a moment of slightly misty wistfulness, and I’m like, “Aww, Mommy,” but then I’m good for a while.

But I don’t cry. I. Don’t. Cry! I’m not the type! I only cry when I’m angry. Or when dogs die in movies, I can’t handle it. (laughs)

Me: Okay, I’ve asked you all these questions about the stuff that you’ve been through, but now I wanna ask you just some general questions. So, can you just share a little bit about your salvation experience?

Elaine: Well, I distinctly remember this, Liv! (laughs) I always knew about Jesus. It was told to me and I always knew it, and I believed it. But you have to accept salvation, you have to make a decision to accept it. And of course, when you’re 3 or 4 or 5, you don’t understand it.

So we were watching the Disney channel, The Return of Jafar. There’s a part where Iago decides he doesn’t want to be bad anymore. And there’s a part where the ground splits open and there’s lava, and Iago gets scorched. And you told me, “That’s what hell would be like, and if you don’t—”

Me: I just got struck with a bolt of evangelism in the middle of The Return of Jafar. (laughs)

Elaine: You did! (laughs) And you told me, “You’re gonna end up like Iago and you’re gonna be in hell!” And I was like (screams). So I called for Mom and I was crying, like, “Liv said I’m gonna go to hell!” And she prayed with me, and she was like, “You don’t need to go to hell,” and “Do you believe in Jesus?” and all the questions, like, “Do you believe He’s the Son of God?” And I was like, (crying) “I believe!” And I believed it all before that happened but…

Me: Realizing your personal need for that?

Elaine: Yes! And I think I was maybe like 7. And then afterward, she made me call Grandpa and tell him. She was like, “You’re gonna have to tell Grandpa everything you said to me, but you have to do it by yourself.”

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Me: She made me do that too, I was so scared! (laughs)

Elaine: Me too! I felt like I was in trouble!

Me: I know! Like, (deep voice) “Call The Grandpa and tell him what you’ve done!” (laughs)

Elaine: (laughs) So I called him and told him, and that was it. But you know, when you’re 7—I wasn’t a “bad” kid. I wasn’t the lying kind of kid, or the sassy kind of kid. I hadn’t ever stolen anything, so I didn’t have any guilt weighing on my conscience.

I was so young when I got saved that I didn’t have—obviously you have that original sin—but I hadn’t really done anything, you know what I mean? So when I was saved, it wasn’t like a big “come to Jesus moment!” (laughs)

Me: You didn’t have the same testimony as someone who accepted Jesus as an adult and had done drugs or whatever that may be…

Elaine: Right. And I’m sure that it changed me in ways that maybe I didn’t even understand because I was too little to even have a good self-awareness or self-reflection.

But people have these amazing testimonies and they can go up in front of the church, and I’m like, “It was because of Iago in The Return of Jafar that I discovered I needed to be saved.” (laughs)

Me: (laughs) But it’s still a testimony because you made a decision. Not necessarily huge evils you were delivered from, but that you have this life from that point on because you made that decision.

Elaine: And I’m sure that’s the reason why I don’t have any horrible misdeeds. I remember that Joyce Meyer thing about the woman who wrote in and said, “I don’t have a testimony,” and Joyce said, “Well, your testimony is that God kept you.”

And I guess that’s my testimony is that God kept me. And I’m sure that’s why these traumas and things didn’t traumatize me. And I have an abiding joy. That’s maybe why I don’t stay sad.

Me: And the things that you went through, you might not have dealt with them so well if you didn’t know the Lord, right? It could have completely crumbled you.

Elaine: I’m sure! I’m sure my whole experience with that would’ve been completely different.

Choosing to Be Positive Through Life's Biggest Storms | positivity | redemption | loss | grief | encouragement | interview | freebie | free art print | be positive | mindset | story | testimony | #positivity #bepositive #positive #redemption #grief #sorrow #encouragement #testimony #story #interview #mindset #freebie #freeprintable #artprint
Elaine, our mom, and me

Me: Okay, so what would you say is the #1 way the grace of God has impacted your life?

Elaine: I guess joy!

Me: And how do you think your faith influences your day-to-day life, at your job, or whatever you’re doing?

Elaine: It’s so hard for me to say that because I’ve been saved for so long. I don’t know, everything probably! It’s such a natural part of my life that it doesn’t stand out to me. Because I can’t say, “Well before I was saved, I had this problem, and since I’ve been saved then I haven’t.”

Me: Right. Well, what about the grace of God? Have you always been so aware of knowing how loved you are by God and how forgiven you are by God?

Elaine: Yeah, kinda. Because I always knew, “Jesus loves you,” you know. It was always a prevalent conversation topic. Because I was even younger than you were [when I got saved], so it’s like, I don’t even know myself before that.

Me: I feel like that too, my testimony was more like, “God kept me.” But I was probably in 5th grade or 6th grade when I was saved, so I was a little bit older than you. And I did change.

I could notice that my life changed because I used to be really spoiled. Especially by Grandma. Not that that was her fault, but it was a spoiled attitude I had. And I was ungrateful and kind of entitled.

And after I was saved, I was way more thankful. I would say to Grandma every single time we would leave her house, I would say, “Thanks for letting us come down,” and I would give her a hug every time and tell her I loved her. And I didn’t do that before. My attitude changed a lot!

Okay, I have a few more kind of fun questions real quick. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?

Elaine: …I don’t put stock in what other people tell me.

Me: Ooooh! Snaps!

Elaine: So, people give me advice and I’m like, thanks so much. Pffftt. (laughs)

Me: What’s your favorite food?

Elaine: There are so many possibilit—tacos. (laughs) I feel like I could literally eat tacos every day.

Me: Me too! Do you have a favorite movie?

Elaine: I have a favorite TV show. Ask me what my favorite TV show is.

Me: What’s your favorite TV sho—

Elaine: Star Trek: The Next Generation! Although I am partial to most Treks, except for Discovery, it’s “gorbage.” You can put that in the article: Discovery is “gorbage.” (laughs)

Me: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Elaine: I guess the 91st Psalm, probably.

Me: What’s that one about?

Elaine: That’s the one about the evils of the arrows that fly on the left and on the right and…whatever—obviously it’s my favorite because I remember it so well! (laughs)

Me: Is that the one where it talks about the pestilence? Is it the same one that says, “Ten thousand may fall at your left hand, and a thousand at your right, but it will not come near you”?

Elaine: Yeah! I can’t recall stuff like that from my brain, I’m not the best.

Me: I’m not the best either. But you know what? At times when I need the word, it comes to me. And it may just be a paraphrase, but the meaning is there. And I think that’s okay.

So to wrap up, do you have any parting words of wisdom, or anything else that you want to share, or forgot to mention?

Because as we’ve been talking—all these different things you’ve been through—what I’ve noticed is that you’ve made the choice to respond in a way that is healthy, and to choose to be positive.

Elaine: Yeah. I mean, you can choose how you feel about things. Life is full of things, and you can choose to—okay, just do the things. Take care of your business.

Me: Okay, quote, do the things, period. Got it.

Elaine: (laughs) Just put that on my tombstone.

Choosing to Be Positive Through Life's Biggest Storms | positivity | redemption | loss | grief | encouragement | interview | freebie | free art print | be positive | mindset | story | testimony | #positivity #bepositive #positive #redemption #grief #sorrow #encouragement #testimony #story #interview #mindset #freebie #freeprintable #artprint

A big thanks to my sister Elaine for doing this interview with me! She was a bit wary and felt like she didn’t have anything to share. But, as you can see, she’s been through some things. So even if you feel like you don’t have a testimony, you do!

Everyone has a testimony, no matter what end of the spectrum it falls on—extremely radical or seemingly mundane—everyone’s story can impact others.

To the person who was delivered from addiction, violence, anger, abuse, incest, whatever it may be—to that person, a laidback testimony from someone whom God “kept” can be of huge impact. And vice versa.

So please don’t think you don’t have a testimony!

Maybe God kept you from things.

Maybe God delivered you from things.

Or maybe He walked beside you through the trials and temptations of this world after you were saved.

See mine here: How I Beat Anorexia and Embracing Grace.

I hope this interview has been encouraging (and entertaining! LOL). And most of all, I hope it’s helped you to know that, even through life’s biggest storms, we can make the choice to be positive.

Thanks again, Elaine!

xo Liv

P.S. Elaine and I want to make sure and mention that, while this interview focuses on choosing to live with a positive attitude regardless of circumstances, we understand that there are times when more than a change of mindset is needed. If you or someone you love is experiencing depression or other mental illness, we support you 100% in seeking treatment, and we understand that those kinds of challenges aren’t a choice and require further support. ❤️

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