Wednesday, January 25, 2017

You're Ok. Oh You're Not Ok? ... Ok...

Lately my mom and I do a lot of laughing when we first start a phone call. Maybe not so much laughter as wry chuckling.  Why?
"How are you?" or some similar question is a natural opening line in a phone conversation.
The problem is that lately the answer ranges from "meh" to almost tears.
Some seasons are just rough.
We have this mistaken image of people that if they aren't bleeding or bruised or bandaged up, they must be fine.
If they aren't crying or raging or whatever-ing as an outward show of emotion things must be a-ok.
Why is that?
Real grief... despair... hurt... anger... whatever-ing makes most of us uncomfortable!
Sometimes it has to be "ok" to not be "ok."
Back forever long ago in this season I started using the phrase "sit in the suck."
I used it for my friends/family who could really let me actually be the mess that I was at that time.
I will never forget standing in the back of church one Sunday and being asked if I was doing alright by one of these friends.
I, out of habit, said I was fine.
She looked straight at me and said "really?"
No. I was not fine.  Bless her for calling me on it.
We are quick to need people to move on when they are hurt.  This is a fast paced world where information gallops up and past us before we even really digest it. Actual grief and suffering is highly inconvenient.
It's why some celebrities who have been dead for 10 years constantly get re-dead on Facebook.  Poor Bob Denver... RIP - but yeah 2005.

                I had a point, I swear.

Ah - we need to be the people who can help others move on by sitting in the suck for a while.
It is ok to be a total mess.  Don't stay there. But if you never let yourself actually go there, you also will never fully be ok again.
Talk to people and then really listen. Don't take "fine" at face value. We are way too busy when we never actually take time to hear what is behind that "fine."

We are in a big mess in this world. I really believe that a lot of it comes from the habit we all have of talking past people, talking at people, and scoring points at other's expense. We have talking points instead of relationships. We have stands instead of friends. We are right. You are wrong. Unfriend me if you don't like it...

We must be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," (James 1:19).

Stop. Sit with me here for a minute. Step away from your social media and go BE somewhere. Read a book to a senior adult who lives alone. Help someone with their groceries, just because you can. See that mother whose kid is pitching a fit for whatever reason.  Solidarity nod to her and hey, can you help?
Or just listen.  Ask someone how they are and really listen for their answer.

And that person - the one you can't stop thinking about right now - they NEED you to BE for them.  They need you to hear them and not be thrown by their hurt, or bad news, or anger.

We have each other.  We should always have each other's backs.  We are all in this together.
Please make it ok for someone to be a not ok mess today.


Monday, January 23, 2017

One Year

It was a year ago today that my phone rang in the early morning hours.

"You need to get here sooner than we planned."
        "We have time. But you need to get here."
It was freezing cold outside. Al's car had flat, and we had left it in a parking lot.  But we needed to get it out of the weather and into the garage.

"You need to get here."
         "Everyone is coming... we want to wait for you to say goodbye."
We waited for a touch of daylight so we could change cars and head south.

It's an odd sensation. It was a week that had lows and medium lows. We knew by mid-week that things weren't great. But we thought we still had time.

"We will wait for you. But we will need to say goodbye."

The freezing cold. The quiet ride to my hometown. The cold walk from our car to a hospital room.

"Take all the time you need." "We can wait as long as you need."

The whispered words. The peaceful breathing sounds. The calm.  The hushed moments of trying to take in every second.  I needed to remember every moment, every sight.

In that last week, many of us couldn't be there with him. So we had made a sign to leave for - when - he woke up, with all of our pictures "You are not alone."

The beeping of machines and continued sounds of a hospital room echoed.

The moments that follow are sacred in my memory.  Shared stories. Laughter through tears.
And always the touching of hands, shoulders, heads... the patting.  Patting is our thing.

One year later - every sight and sound is etched on my heart. It's a record of a day that I still have playing on repeat.

I have said it before, probably because I read it somewhere, that great grief is the leftover from great love.  My brother, he loved well. So we grieve with intensity still. If you were his people, you knew you were loved. He was a fierce protector.  He was a big dude but he also had a big heart. He was a mess. But aren't we all? He had a wicked sense of humor.  In my mind I can easily hear him roaring with laughter as I did one crazy thing or another. He was my big brother. He was one of a kind. When you're little you think that your big brother hung the moon. When you get older, you realize they aren't perfect but there is still always something special about the person who paved the way for you in the family... in life.

"Take all the time you need."

Ok. I'm still here, taking my time.  Still loving you.  Waiting until I get to see you again.

Love you big brother.


Friday, January 20, 2017

New Year, Same You - My Word for 2017

I think this is the latest that I have ever done one of these posts. I usually have my "word" and start mulling it over in early December.
This year, I didn't even have a hint until New Year's Eve.
One last time I'll say, 2016 just stunk for me.  Around Christmas Al and I started to talk about the good things from the year.  That's only natural when you're fixin' to wrap up a year.
It was tough.  We really had to fight to start the list.
It was not a lack of blessing. There are about 1000 good things in any DAY that we are blessed with.  I am not unaware of that.
But it was a tough, tough year.

Ringing into 2017 sees the re-routing of our dream for a family. Good things are coming in other ways on that front. But so many of the things I had really fought for, really prayed for, and really worked for - not happening.

Ringing in 2017 brings the close of the first year without my oldest brother. It's a big gap in our lives.  Great love brings great grief.  And we have mourned.

Ringing in 2017 brings the new chapters of foster care into our lives.  We cannot even imagine what that means yet.

What word could possibly stand in for all that I hope for this year?

It's actually two interlocked words.


2016 was pretty much all about chaos and death. Some years are just like that. Some years you skate out of December with no emotion left.

2017 is about new life. It's about really living. It's about walking a little lighter with decisions finally set.  It's about letting go and thriving.

Live... Life

He's got this.

John 10:10
A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. 



Sunday, November 06, 2016

I Counted Up The Cost

We've done this song (below) two Sundays in a row at church. Each time, the same lines wreck me.

My wealth is in the cross
There’s nothing more I want
Than just to know His love
My heart is set on Christ

And I will count all else as loss

The greatest of my crowns
Mean nothing to me now
For I counted up the cost
And all my wealth is in the cross

If you know me personally at all you know that 2016 has been full of startling loss. But as much as I probably over share on social media, the majority of people have no idea just how much loss we've actually faced. It's been a brutal year people. And it just keeps on dealing blows. I've joked multiple times, ok not joked... I've been deadly serious at being ready to run away from this year. I'm ready for the clean slate. I'm ready to put this one away and deal with it in the rear view.

But today as I sang the words "I will count all else as loss" I couldn't help but pause.
Do I really mean that?
         If nothing else good happens...
     If more loss comes...
        If my hearts desire is now completely re-routed or destroyed..
  Is my heart set on Christ?
When I count up the cost, where is my wealth?

Doctor's can only do so much for us. Miracles may come. But they may not come in the way I had set out. I have planned. I have a box that I want God to check/fill.  This right here, God, this is what you must do for me. I've been like a stubborn toddler. This here and now God. This is what is acceptable.

But if my faith means anything, if God is the big God that I believe He is, He won't fit in my box.
And trying to force Him to is disastrous - for me. My plans break against loss. My plans cannot stand up to the whirlwind of life. My plans are fragile... fallible... selfish... s.m.a.l.l.

And I'm undone today. Because I have counted up the cost. Everything is loss.

There is NOTHING more I want. Then just to know His love.
Whatever else comes must come against the strength of that conviction.

Though He slay me,
            I will hope in Him.

And when I stand in glory
My crowns before the Lord
Let this be my confession
My wealth is in the cross

Friday, June 03, 2016

If We're Being Honest

I just realized, the last time I wrote here my brother was still alive. The last time I wrote here I just thought things were tough. I think I'm glad that I had no idea how much rougher things were going to get.
So far in 2016 I have seen a friend die. I have stood at the bedside of my big bear of a brother and said goodbye for now.
I have lost much to this year.
I decided the second half of 2016 needed to live up to its name and bring some redemption.
But so far, well its brought some realizations.

Fertility drugs make you crazy. Well they make you feel crazy. They amp you up emotionally so you manage to either be unhinged crying or unhinged angry.
This time around they are also making me seriously nauseated at everything around.
I am NOT a happy camper.
And I'm really only here for one reason - a simple reminder.

Out there in your world 1 out of every 8 couples is trying desperately to either get pregnant or stay pregnant.
Out there in your world there is a woman whose body has betrayed her over and over again. The one thing that is seems everyone else just "does" her body just doesn't.
Out there in your world there is a man who has no idea how to help his insane wife deal with the ups and downs of a process while he struggles through the process himself.

We are your 1 in 8.  But I bet you know more and you have no idea.

I wish with just about every part of me that I didn't know the freakin in and outs of fertility. I wish I didn't know about the medicines and the ultrasounds. I do not mean the great ones where you see a little body on a screen. I mean the ones where you see a blank canvas and hold your breath and pray you hear "Ok, we can do this." I wish I never, ever had to hear someone say "just relax," or "it'll happen when it happens" or "my cousin's neighbors sister had problems and they did x" or any. other, thing.

It seems weird to put this out into the world. But what seems weirder is to navigate this in silence. I'm a freakin mess right here. I can go from laughing hysterically to sobbing in about 2 seconds. And I literally walled myself off most of this week because I just could not deal with the headaches, the smells, the STUPIDITY (it's me... it's not you), or anything else the world had to toss at me.
All this for a chance, just a chance, at what 7/8 couples take for granted.

Right now, I'm sick and tired. I'm scared to hope for a different outcome. And I'm hoping with all my heart.
If you made it this far thanks for listening.  And please pray that this is our turn around month/

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Redemption - 2016

I haven't blogged in months. Aside from a brief run at Nanowrimo (at which I crashed and burned...), I really haven't written anything in months. I haven't even written in the journal in months.
This is totally not like me. I've at least written something in past years -  probably at least once a week.
But since April, I have been silent.

Yesterday someone posted an article that stunned me into realizing where I've been over these past 6 months or so.
I've been living in the between.
Last year, during this exact same stretch of time, we were working our plan towards finally expanding our little family. I had hope. I really believed that by the end of 2015 we would have what we had so wanted and desperately prayed for, for so long, I felt like that miracle was right around the corner.
And then our world caved in a little bit. Our focus had to change for a while. Life happened. Plans paused.
And we waited in the between.
I know I have said before that I feel like we are in the hallway but it has only locked doors and no windows. And now I feel like I'm at the place where I just want to chainsaw a hole in there and get on out.
We are just here.

It's Christmas and so far, I have mostly avoided it. I've tried to be all holly and jolly and it just isn't working.
This morning, when we left for church I put on my cheesiest Christmas sweater and yelled "Christmas" at the top of my lungs as we headed to the door. (Think Braveheart without the facepaint...)

I told my husband I was going to drag myself into this holiday kicking and screaming if I had to. Because this time last year I was fully enveloped in hope and spirit. And right now, I'm feeling little to none of it. My hope is bruised. My joy is chipped.

I chose my word for 2016 just the other night. Redemption.
I really feel like most of 2015 needs that. This year was filled with way more drama than we signed up for. We all made it out and frankly that is a miracle.
But I had so much more hope for the year than just making it out.
So, for 2016 I am believing for a flood of redemption. I want to see the tears that fell in the past years redeemed in joy.
I want change, lots of it, drastic GOOD change... and if it came in a crib, that'd be super thanks. :)

I never regret a year, no matter how much pain it held. And I definitely do not regret a second of 2015. Lessons were learned. Bonds were formed. And I learned a lot about myself in the fires of the unknown.

But I am ready to break out of the in between. I am ready to move from this hallway.

Bring it 2016 - Redemption

Oh and if you see me between now and Christmas I am still working on my holly and jolly. So bear with me.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

It's The Choices You Make

If I could pick out the moment where my life forever changed in these last 3 weeks, it would not be the one most people would expect.
Yes, hearing that my super hubs had a massive heart attack was life changing, but not the most significant moment for me.
For me, it would be the moment at 3 am when they took my love away for a scan to test for a blood clot in his lungs.
He’d been sick up to that point. He had almost died just days earlier, but in the previous 24 hours he had taken a bad turn and really did not look or feel well.

And at 3 am at the foot of his empty hospital bed I had a choice of what I would do.  I was alone for the first time in days. And at 3 am I couldn’t reach out to many people.

I was terrified. For the first time in the whole process I realized exactly what was happening.
First I sobbed, because I hadn’t really cried yet in the days before.  Then I realized that the only person who had any control in the whole situation was there in the room with me.

So I pulled out  my journal, Bible and my iTunes and got with Him.

I think we always wonder who we will be when life knocks us back. Where will we turn? What will we say?

These last few months have been a constant stream of test, doctors, herbs, medicines, hormones and desperate prayers while we tried to conceive.  We've already been through so much all the time wondering... at least me wondering... where God could possibly be.  Why the delay? Why is such a simple thing for millions of other people out of our reach?


And at 3 am, at the foot of a hospital bed, I just got to lay it all out there.  I won't share everything, because that's 'me and God' stuff.  But I will tell you this: I still don't know why.
I have no answers for why bad things happen to people who are doing their best to serve and trust God. I have no answers for why any bad things happen to anyone.

But I do know this.

When life knocks this family back - we run to - we sprint towards - we dive into - the One who created us. 
Would I like answers?  Yes.
Would I like a baby?  Yep.

But if I don't get either, is He still good? 

Emphatically yes.

Tonight I still go back to the first song that pulled up on my playlist that night.  Because:
"... I will call upon Your name. And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise. My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine"