Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life – by andrea williams


Part of cultivating a good life is recognizing the power of gratitude.

It was May 22, 2008. My husband Travis was experiencing some facial numbness so he had an MRI. The scan revealed a brain stem tumor. Today was actually the four-year anniversary of our twin daughter, Ella’s, diagnosis with Leukemia. We had been through some very dark days in the past but felt incredibly blessed since her treatment was successful and she had made a full recovery. In fact, I often said how much I loved my charmed life. We were blessed. Now we were facing the worst news of our lives.

Over the next several months we faced brain surgery, rehabilitation, radiation. We experienced the best of people: doctors, friends, neighbors, church members, family. Everyone rallied and we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of kindness, love, and support. Prayers, meals, babysitting, house/yard work, donations…..we truly witnessed miracles. The biggest miracle was a remission of the brain tumor.

Life returned to normal. Work, kids, everyday life. But Travis and I were changed. We didn’t take life for granted anymore. We played, we took vacations, we spent time with our four beautiful kids. Everything we said we would do “someday” we started doing NOW.

We had four years like that. Then, on a routine MRI appointment, we found out that the tumor came back. It would require more surgery. This time, his recovery was a little more difficult, but we made it work. He soldiered through chemotherapy while continuing to work full time. He was rear ended in a car accident and that complicated his recovery. But we continued to feel gratitude for the lives we were given and the blessing of each other.

Just eight months later, the tumor returned again, even while on chemotherapy. This wasn’t a good sign. His symptoms affected his ability to walk, eat, speak, drive. He never complained once. He was kind, patient, and loving with everyone. In January 2014 he had more brain surgery. This time we were not so lucky. It had progressed to an aggressive tumor and there was little the skilled doctors could do. Travis was hospitalized for 11 weeks while enduring countless treatments and surgeries. He could no longer swallow, eat, walk, sit up, talk. But he always had a smile, thumbs up, a thank you for the doctors, nurses and therapists. Travis wanted to get home so badly, so we made it happen. We brought him home on a Monday and he passed away five days later.

I am 41 years old and a widow with four young children. But I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. I was blessed with 19 years of marriage to my best friend and together we built a life and family together that have been my greatest joy. Travis will live on in my children and the legacy he created. We will tell stories, share experiences, watch videos, and look at precious pictures to keep him close in our hearts. I remind my kids how blessed they are to have Travis as their dad….even though they didn’t get him as long as they hoped. I remind myself daily that I, too, am blessed to have had Travis as my husband, partner, and best friend for so many years.

There is great power in finding gratitude in any circumstance. It is a choice that I make daily. It helps me feel more joy and contentment in my life and gives me hope for a happy future. I can still honestly say that I have a blessed and charmed life filled with loving family and friends who enrich my life.

Note from Becky

Travis and Andrea Williams have been some of our very dearest friends since we met them in 1995. We were all newlyweds, living just south of the university campus, figuring out married life, sharing our struggles of the work / school balance, and having a blast together when we just needed a break from the daily grind. We have never stopped supporting each other through thick and thin, and we always pick right back up where we left off the last time we hung out together.

When Travis’ earthly journey came to an end, we saw a new strength in Andrea. I know she has her moments. Everyone does. And everyone who understands loss and grief, knows how important it is to truly grieve. But through it all she has become even stronger, more faithful, and more full of gratitude. This all radiates from her. Anyone who knows Andrea can tell you that – and it is truly my honor to have such a dear friend and stellar example in my life.

Connect with Andrea  ::  Instagram


17 Responses

  1. Laurel says:

    What a wonderful post! I was widowed at the age of 32. I joined an online young widows’ group and made a lot of great friends. I also ended up meeting and dating a widower and we’ve now been married for 6 years. I met so many people who had very few pictures of their late spouses, so I swore if I got married again and had kids, I would take pictures and video all the time. Thanks to Project Life, that’s what I’ve done! Our kids love looking through the albums. :)

  2. Leslie S. says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Andrea, it is truly inspiring. It reminds me to be grateful for my family, even when things are tough. God bless you and your children.

  3. Paula O says:

    Wow, inspiring and heartbraking! What an incredible outlook through a more than difficult time. God bless you and your kids.

  4. Katy says:

    Thank you so much for this – I really needed to read this. My husband has been in Afghanistan for the last 5 months and is due home in just about 3 weeks (!!!). You would think I would be filled with so much excitement that this last month would be a piece of cake. Instead, I’ve found myself feeling less patient, less happy, and more grumpy with my three little ones. I think I’ve held on pretty strong this whole time and we’ve done great, but it’s as if knowing the end is near has made me let my guard down more and just mentally give up. Weird!
    Anyway, I’ve been feeling extremely sorry for myself this weekend and asked God to send someone or something to help me get my brain on straight. Again, I needed to read this. Hearing that this man Travis could not complain and be as happy as possible in the face of much larger trials than I have to deal with compels me to be humble, grateful, and patient. Stop feeling sorry for myself, reach out to others (even if that means reaching out with more love to my own children in my own home of course), and realize that my attitude is what makes or breaks the circumstances. Thank you Becky and your friend Andrea for this!

  5. Erika Bailey says:

    Andrea is an amazing example! Thank you for sharing! Love to you both ♡

  6. Rachel Pomeroy says:

    Thank you for sharing Andrea… we all need to appreciate what we have even if our lives are hard as we all have those days as we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.. thank you and god bless x

  7. Lynn L. says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Your attitude is inspiring! So easy to say I am grateful but a lot harder to find things to be grateful on the tough days. Saying prayers for you and your family,

  8. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this post. I became a widow last new year’s eve at age 42. I always took a lot of pictures and thank God I did because they now have more meaning then ever to me and my kids. I use PL for all my scrapbooking. I downloaded the Remembrance kit to use for the time when my husband passed. It’s been hard looking at certain pictures of last year but I know it will be good to see the album when it’s done.

    • Andrea says:

      Sandy, I’m so sorry for your loss and understand the unfamiliar new place that puts you in. But what a blessing to have so many pictures to remember your husband. It helps keep his memory and spirit close. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Ashley S. says:

    Thank you for such an uplifting post. I’m sorry for your loss, Andrea, but am inspired by the gratitude you live and share.

  10. Monica says:

    Wow – – i have tears in my eyes – – no so much for saddness but for the beautiful life this family has lead. The passing of your husband is sad in itself – – but they way I read this article is that he was the sunshine in your life, he was your best friend and instead of mourning – – you are celebrating what he gave you for 19 years – – a great example of a man, husband, father – – you and your kids are truely blessed to have had him in your lives and wow – – such a great example of gratitude! You’re so blessed!! Such an beautiful memory he’s left on this earth for your children. This is probably my most favorite post ever – – Gratitiude and not taking life for Granted …

  11. Dannielle says:

    thank you for sharing Andrea. you are very inspiring and your story is what I really need to hear right now xo. god bless you and your family xo

  12. Ruly says:

    Thanks Andrea for sharing your story and inspiring us. This is what really gratitude is… really appreciated you share your example with us. God bless your beautiful family

  13. Roxanne says:

    I am humbled by your post. I always said that I was grateful for the trial and tribulations–it didn’t matter why, what or who…my children were healthy! Then I lost 2 of my precious children, and I was lost. I understand how loss colors your world. For the longest time, I would stare at my scrapbook stash, and think…I’m not a mom anymore, what do you scrapbook about? As the years have passed, healing does happen in minute incriments…I BELIEVE. Joy will come in the morning. I BELIEVE Jesus has a plan for all of us.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Andrea says:

      Roxanne, thank you for sharing this. I agree that healing happens drop by drop…..even when you can’t see it. You have a beautiful outlook! We don’t always know/understand His plan, but I love that you believe and trust in that plan. It will all be made right in the end. God bless you and your journey. We are never alone.