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Showing posts from 2014

The Resolutions that Matter

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year's. 
On the one hand, getting sloshed and insluting your wife or driving drunk and wrapping your car around a tree just doesn't seem like the right way to celebrate anything in life. I also have a hard time with the comments that stem along the line of we made it through this year! because what about the ones that didn't make it through the year? In my admittedly oversensitive heart you just called a bunch of my loved ones failures and they are nothing of the sort. They simply didn't have the choice to finish off the calendar year here on earth. And that hurts. Thanks for the reminder.
But on the other hand, I love a makeover. There is something incredibly empowering  about washing over the old color of a wall with a new one, symbolizing a new start, a fresh start, a chance to finally get it right.
Resolution suggestions abound the interwebs: lose 10 pounds, stop smoking, drink more water, save $10,000 and finally take that tri…

Climbing the Highest Mountain

For my 40th birthday, my friends threw me the most epic surprise party ever. I usually pride myself on having this sixth sense that those around me are keeping things from me, but not this time. I was honestly 100% taken by surprise. It was the best party anyone could ever throw for me. 
But what's perfect for me doesn't mean it's perfect for anyone else. Discussing it, my friend Ginger explained she would absolutely hate being the center of attention like that. She preferred something small and low key, more intimate with less fanfare. And that's exactly how her 40th went. It was absolutely perfect for her. Perfect location, perfect size, perfect fun.
My friend Kim turns 40 next. You'll remember Kim as being referred to as My Rock. When the police officer looked down at me, hand on my shoulder, and asked, "who is your rock?" I answered, "Kim. My friend Kim." And we called her. She was at work but she answered. "Avery's dead," I sobb…

Light for Lilly

This picture has been printed in various community newspapers in the past two years. It shows my precious daughter, Avery - second from the right - smiling with her sweet friends at a sleepover at Katie's house.

Too soon after this picture was taken, Avery passed away as the result of a car accident.

Too soon after Avery died, another little girl in this photo was called home to be with Jesus.

You guys. My heart.

Lilly, the precocious young lady on the far right on this photo with her arm around Avery, was full of so much life it is impossible to think she would ever leave this earth.

She cracked jokes and asked bold questions. She laughed out loud and made me shake my head at how insanely wise she was about things you wouldn't think a kid her age would be. She never made any excuses for herself and taught me a great many things about being bold. She played football with the boys. She played hard. She played good. She played real good.

And just like that. Gone. The most audac…

Not Through My Eyes

This afternoon I was driving through town and caught a glimpse of the sun in the sky. It's cold here in Wisconsin. Snow has fallen, but the sun came out, temperatures warmed and snow turned to water. The sky had been hazy. Foggy, almost. But there, in the middle of the sky, was the most perfect circle of light.

The sphere was so bright. The edges clean and crisp. Like someone had literally drawn a perfect circle and shaded it bright.

I pulled off to the side of the road to take a photo of it. I grabbed my phone, took off my sunglasses, and exited the car to find the perfect shot.

Except the sun circle was gone. Vanished.

In it's place was a bright haze of light among the fog and clouds but nothing like the amazing, perfectly shaped sphere in the sky.

Disappointed, I hopped back in my car. Pulled on my sunglasses and took one last glance out my window before putting the car in drive.

And there it was again!

It was my sunglasses that allowed me to see (forgive me, but this is th…

The Color of Heaven

I find the easiest way to learn about people is to listen to what they have to say. Everyone has something to say. It's just that sometimes, they stop talking out loud once they feel no one's listening.

When I go to Haiti {I've been three times now}, I find myself sitting quietly a lot. Just sitting. Sooner or later a kid or two will show up. Then another. And another.

Usually it's the boys.

Mostly they talk about silly things. Teasing each other about their hair and who is going to "grow it tall." Laughing about who was outwitted on the soccer field. They're all boy; hitting and nudging and pushing and bumping into each other.

But other times they grow silent. Quiet. Like they're thinking so hard about things but aren't sure how to talk about it. Like saying it out loud will somehow cause them to lose their train of thought.

And so we sit. Not saying anything at all. Side by side.

And then there are the times when they're full of questions. …

One More for the Road

I have a friend who struggles with drinking. Not the consumption part; but, rather with the stopping part. Now, to be fair, it's not an every day occurrence. They are able to hold down a really nice job, they own their own home and are actually quite respected in the community amongst their peers. It's just those times when they start drinking - they can't seem to stop.

We were introduced a thousand years ago (or perhaps less) when I, too, was still in my let's get dressed up and dance until closing time stage. I loved dancing. And I didn't need to drink in order to do it. Although I did. Fruity drinks. Southern and Cokes. The random shot encouraged by a friend with a camera: Let's all do one! Hold on - let's get the bartender to take our picture! Because bartenders love doing that.

Eventually, I moved past that stage. I met a guy. Fell in love. Wanted to settle down and start a real family (not the single mom thing I had been doing).

I wanted to get marrie…

Starting the Walk

I haven't written in a while because I haven't known how. Let me be honest, Year 2 is harder than Year 1. It means I'm starting Year 3 and, well, I don't really look forward to another year without.

On the first anniversary of Avery's death we released balloons. Hundreds of balloons. 



And it was good!
This year, I wanted to do something not so public. So, I went to Haiti and celebrated life with my sponsor son.


And it was good!
And then I came home and my world was thrown upside down - and it was awful. And then came that slow realization that it had been upside down the entire time; I had simply been trying to force it upright for the past seven years. 
And my soul was exhausted. 
And my heart wouldn't hurt anymore.
And even disappointment didn't affect me. 
I sat in a daze for a good long while before realizing I could sit and stare at walls until I could scream in hurt before staring at walls again until the end of my days... but that wouldn't change a…

In His Hands

"These scary spiders are going to go away now."

He had been 'scaring' me with these silly plastic toy spiders for most of the day. He being my just turned 5-year old son. I often wonder if he would be so focused on my attention if his sister was still alive. It hits me like that: not just how my life was suddenly thrust into the spotlight of unknowns, but how his was, too.

We all know days pass, decisions are made or not made, choices turn us this direction or that. Our lives are a constant stream of unknowns. What if I hadn't dated that person? What if I would have stood up for myself? What if I would have applied for that job? What if I would have moved like I dreamed I was going to?

But these types of unknowns are the shadows of our lives. The ones that stay in the background, stepping forward only when called.

Whereas, the what if my child was still alive? unknowns stand bold and tall, center stage, with the spotlight shined on them morning, noon and night. …

A Letter to my Psychology Teacher

Dear Mr. Love,

I often thought about how nice that would be to walk into a therapist's office and sit down with someone named "Love." It's a word that evokes gentleness, caring and kindness; all the things you were to me in school. Except I was a very angsty teen and you wouldn't have known I thought all that.

You had the pleasure of enjoying me in your Psych 101 class. (Someone really should have given you a pay raise.) I questioned, well, everything. I peeled back layer upon layer and looked at things from every possible angle and forced you to put up with I-totally-understand-why sighs and eye rolls from pretty much every single kid in that classroom. Yet, you were always calm and patient and "up for the challenge" when dealing with me.

But if I was challenging in class I was downright difficult in homeroom. You must have drawn the short straw because you were stuck as my homeroom teacher for all four years of my angsty high school career. Or, maybe …

Life Jackets

"The life jacket won't make you swim," I tried to explain. "You'll still need to do the work; it just keeps you from sinking."

She wanted to swim so badly. She felt it was time to move from the shallow kiddie pool over to the big kid pool. But she was afraid because she didn't know how to swim.

We borrowed a life jacket and strapped her in. The second the belt snapped in place she squealed, "now I can swim!"

Oh, buddy, I thought. If only it were that easy.


Maybe life is like swimming and faith is like the life jacket. 
Let's say you've got to swim across this huge span of water. You can't even see the other side and, while the waters appear calm and quite pleasant right now, you've heard stories of dark and stormy seas. Of waves that swell so big they threaten to swallow you whole. Of the torment the waters put on a body, making every muscle ache and lungs plead leaving you crying and completely broken, begging to just give up a…

The Spiral

"Buddy!" I ran over to Brody, just 4 years old, and scooped him up into my arms. "Why are you crying?"

I swear, He was just fine. I had just walked by, glanced at him happily pushing his train around the wooden track not more than five minutes ago. Suddenly he's sitting up, staring off into space, tears streaming down his little-boy cheeks.

"Buddy! What's wrong?" I rocked him back and forth, carefully pushing aside tears with my fingers. "Oh, honey, please tell me what happened!"

My eyes started an inventory, scanning his little body for hints of pinched fingers or maybe an errant bug bite. Something, anything, to make this sudden silent stream of tears make sense.

"I can't remember Avery very well anymore" he whispered, lower lip jutted out in the saddest pout I'd ever seen. "I know I should be happy because people can still tell me about her, but I just want to remember her for me." 

Woah.

This.

This was big.

The Love is Worth the Grief

In passing, someone said something to me about grieving for a child you lost has to be so hard. I get what they were stumbling to say (trust me, even though I'm going through it, I never have the right words and always end up sounding so, well, off). But the truth is, grieving for a child you lost is the easiest thing in the world.

I took no special training. No special classes. Shoot, even when I was about to give birth there were Lamaze classes. But there were no your child is going to die unexpectedly so we'd like you to learn how to breath through the grief pains tutorials.

No, grieving the death of someone you love comes very, very easy.

It's the grieving while attempting to appear normal that is very, very hard.

There is a spot in the back of my neck at the base of my skull  that has been in a constant, thick knot for over a year and a half. It's a tumor of grief. But I'll just pass it off as I must've slept wrong.

There are days I would rather sleep fo…

A Question for Mothers

It's a conversation no parent really looks forward to having. It can be awkward and uncomfortable and, as parents, we worry if we're giving too much information, or not enough, or if it's not being understood quite right. But as parents we're charged with the duty of seeing our young children through puberty and into adulthood. And so, we are required to talk about the things that might make us feel uncomfortable. This week while I was in Haiti, I was given the task of teaching Human Health and Development to girls aged 12 and up. I prayed in earnest that what we would be discussing would be understood in such a way that these young women would come to understand how unbelievably beautiful and perfect and wonderful they have been made. I prayed that I was honoring their mothers while I acted as a stand-in. I prayed I would get it right. We talked about pregnancies and HIV and AIDS. I answered questions that made me want to laugh out loud the information being so inc…