Life is a Gift-Celebrate! Every. Single. Day.

I have never been a crystal and china kind of gal.

I got a few special pieces when my husband and I married, but most of the things in my home are durable and useful.

So I don’t have many things tucked away for special occasions.

I’m glad that when my kids were young we made even ordinary days special by setting the table, using candles, cloth napkins, real plates and mugs for meals.

We foolish mortals sometimes live through years not realizing how short life is, and that TODAY is your life.
― Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

I’m especially thankful this side of child loss that our memories include making many regular days wonderful by choosing to celebrate the smallest moments. 

I have an inexpensive set of Chinese plates, soup bowls and porcelain spoons I bought from a mail order catalog way before the Internet, much less Amazon.  It gave my homemade sweet and sour chicken an air of authenticity (and it was fun!).

When December rolled around, we ditched our everyday plates for Christmas ones we used for meals and festive coffee mugs that held everything from morning coffee to the evening’s soft drinks, tea and hot cocoa.

Birthdays, holidays and regular days were all reasons to make merry and make memories. 

I’m so glad we didn’t set things aside because they were too dear for everyday use.  

Life IS a gift. 

Celebrate it.

dont save for special occassion

What Encouragement Looks Like

If I went all the way back to the beginning of this journey, I could write one hundred pages or more detailing the many, many ways people have come alongside and encouraged my heart and the hearts of my family.

But instead I’ll just start with a couple of weeks ago when we found out that Ryker would be delivered early-ready or not!

ryker lauging 31 weeks

Encouragement looks like an old friend who texted back and forth with me the whole day as we awaited word that baby was born, his mama was safe and my son in Africa approved to come home.  She kept me company even though we were miles apart.  She sent random prayers and helpful details from her own premature son’s journey.  She let me vent, moan and cry.

It was a gift.

Encouragement looks like a sweet friend who looks after our little farm and ridiculous animal set ups on a moment’s notice so I can drive down to be with my family and welcome this new life.  She even continued the physical therapy we were doing with an elderly goat.  Sitting in the pen, forcing her to stand, in the rain, under a tarp.

That’s love.

Encouragement looks like people who take just a minute to “like” and “share” the updates about the baby.  You don’t even have to leave a comment, but evidence of your presence and prayers lifts all of us up.

It helps our hearts hold onto hope and strengthens us for the journey.

social-media-sharing-tips-ftr

Encouragement looks like a beautiful worship song messaged to me one morning by a mom I’ve never met but consider a good friend.

Encouragement looks like taking my hand at church, looking me in the eye, and asking, “How are you holding up?” before asking me about church business or the weather.

church

Encouragement looks like all the folks I’ve never even met but who follow the blog and ask me for an address to send gift cards to this little family trying hard to take care of one another.  I cannot begin to tell you how that overwhelms my heart.

And it’s less about the material help (which is HUGE!) and more about the time and effort someone is willing to put in for a couple they haven’t met but love anyway.

Encouragement looks like my family vet who called me every day I was out of town and reported on my companion animal, an older cat who had stopped eating and drinking a couple days before we left.  All of my kids worked at her clinic over the years.  James Michael learned a lot from her before he went to vet school.  She knows how much the cat contributes to my sanity and emotional well-being and treated him like her own.

She didn’t have to make that additional effort, but she did.

roosevelt in the golf cart

Encouragement looks like all the comments, messages, notes and posts from fellow bereaved parents who are just as excited and joy-filled this story didn’t end in sorrow.

I think that is perhaps the greatest gift.

Those of us who know what we know and are so thankful they were spared.

That’s encouragement.

 

lifting up

Repost: Just Plain Hard

I wrote this last year about this time but it suits me this year too.

So many big stressors combined with dozens of small ones have me begging God for relief.  The end is not in sight but I DO know how the story ends.

If I can hold onto hope -which I manage to do most days-and make space for my heart on the days I just can’t, it will be alright.

Maybe not soon and certainly not in this lifetime.  But it WILL be alright.  ❤

Today is full of tears.

No real reason-other than the obvious one-but so many things coming together to remind me this life is hard, hard, hard.

I find on this side of burying Dominic that when two or three other stressful events pile one atop the other I crumble.  Sometimes it’s other family members  doing the best they can to muddle through and sometimes it’s physical pain or disappointment or the random “ya-ya” stuff of life in community with other people  Whatever it is, the weight-in addition to grief-just absolutely overwhelms me.

I used to be stronger.  

Or at least I thought I was stronger.

Read the rest here:  Just Plain Hard

Aftermath Of Violence: Trauma Marks a Soul

The recent spate of apparent suicides connected to school shootings should be a wake up call.  

Not that everyone who survives trauma may follow suit.  

But every soul who survives trauma struggles-no matter what it looks like from the outside.  

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975…That was a long time ago but it’s wrong what they say about the past….Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.  ~ Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Witnessing or experiencing horror scars a heart.  And society rarely does a good job making room for the kind of work it takes for that heart to even begin to heal.

Feel-good news stories about activism, heroism and turning tragedy into triumph send a signal that if you can’t “get over it“, “overcome” or “become stronger” in the wake of the most awful day of your life, you aren’t trying hard enough.

But the truth is that most people DO try. 

They try and try and try but trying isn’t enough.  Tragedy and trauma change a person and no matter how much they may want to go back to the “old” them, they just can’t. 

And that is OK. 

trauma image

We must allow survivors to take as long as they take and to adjust their lives however they can.  We need to stop insisting that there’s a time limit on grief or that there is an absolute upward trajectory in recovery.

I don’t know what drove these individuals to die by suicide.  

But I do know that as a society we are not tolerant of people who don’t “deal” with their “issues” and live a life accepted as “normal”.

And that is not only unhelpful, it’s despicable.  

No one has the right to shut down another person’s voice or circumscribe another heart’s journey.  

We need to do better.  

We have to create safe spaces for people to admit they are fundamentally and permanently changed by a traumatic experience.  

We have got to make room for messy and unfinished stories.  

loving people with ptsd

 

In Love’s Service, Only Wounded Soldiers Will Do

So often we hide our wounds.

Sometimes it’s because others have shamed us into covering up.  Sometimes it’s because our hearts have been stomped on by folks who might mean well but really don’t understand what it’s like to live every day with a messy and unfinished story.

But there’s no shame in being broken. 

And we have no obligation to pretend for those that are uncomfortable with our wounds and our sorrow.

In fact, there is no greater invitation to the good news that Jesus came to redeem and restore than a person whose life makes plain that they are depending on Him for that very promise.

only wounded soldiers will do

 

It Takes As Long As It Takes.

I’m really not good at sitting still.  

When I see something that must be done I tend to get up and do it.  

But right now (as I wrote yesterday) I’m in a season where I need to be patient with myself.  I need to learn to rest.  I need to give my own heart the space and grace I’d quickly extend to another.  

So I’m hanging this little sign up around every corner in my house.  

I hope my heart heeds the message.  

takes as long as it takes

Demotivated, Dispirited, Disheartened

I have no idea how it happened but my “get up and go” has gotten up and left.

For the first time since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I’m utterly incapable of talking myself out of the doldrums.

I’m not especially sad or anxious, just worn out and uninterested in making progress down my “to do” list.  

demotivated pigeons

There are so, so many chores that are best done during these too-brief perfect spring days and I’ve barely managed two.  I’m usually rushing from daylight to dark taking advantage of cooler temperatures and comfortable breezes.  By now (in a typical year) the porches would be clean, the yard tidied up, some fences mended and windows washed.

Not this year.  

Each morning I begin afresh, promising to do better, to make more progress, to finish up the random bits of long-overdue projects and by noon I’m done.  Back in the same funk that’s pursued me for over a month.

side porch 2018 edited

I understood it better when we were covered up by clouds, drenched in rain and shivering in the cold.  

But I can’t figure out why sunshine and flowers, birdsong and breeze hasn’t made a difference and given me an infusion of enthusiasm.  

no winter lasts foreer and no spring skips its turn

I’ve tried all the usual remedies-eating right, exercise, checking my meds and supplements-but they aren’t effective. 

Maybe the struggle against a natural downward trend is what keeps me from truly resting and bouncing back.  

I might just give in for a few days and see if that works.  

I’ll let you know.  ❤

let-yourself-rest

Only Natural

Whether surrounded by friends or strangers, I sift through the words threatening to fly out of my mouth very carefully.

Like most of us, there’s a script in my head that doesn’t always bear sharing.

But unlike many, part of my script involves a child that lives in Heaven.

And I’m constantly weighing whether or not I should mention him even though the conversation leads my heart to a memory I very much want to speak aloud.  It often makes others uncomfortable, awkward and upset when I do.  So sometimes I just don’t.

I hate that I edit myself like that.

I hate that another person’s response or lack of response makes me cautious.

If Dominic were still walking among us, I’d be sharing away.  His life, his work, his challenges, his accomplishments would all be fair game as I sat with fellow mothers and grandmothers talking about our families.  No one would bat an eye if I mentioned his name, said I missed him since he moved away for that job, admitted that I counted the days until the next family get-together or holiday and I could host a full table.

But because he moved to Heaven, I’m supposed to be “over him”.  I’m supposed to bow to convention and quietly stop talking about the son that’s missing from all the photos we’ve taken since 2014.  I should shush my heart and silence my lips because it makes other people uncomfortable.

I’m not doing it.

talk about them better image

Our family just welcomed the first grandchild.

Little Ryker will never see Uncle Dominic, hear his amazing drum skills or be the brunt of his snarky jokes.  But Ryker will know about Dom.  I will tell him stories and show him pictures and let him know that the chair at the end of the table is where Uncle Dom used to sit.

ryker smiling

I’ll help Ryker learn something everyone needs to know:  It’s perfectly natural to include and talk about ALL our family-the ones that are here AND the ones in Heaven.

Even when we no longer enjoy their earthly companionship, we love them and they are still very much part of our lives.

So when I’m reciting all the exciting news, be prepared.

I am mom to four, grandmama to one.

Always and forever.

Amen.

desimones uab family

 

Repost: Goodness of God

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.” ~popular church saying.

I’ve never been comfortable with direction from the pulpit instructing people in the congregation to “repeat after me”.  Maybe I’m a little rebellious, but it always seemed disingenuous to appropriate someone else’s sentiment for my own.

And I think there is danger in adopting pet phrases to explain God (as if He can be explained) and creating shorthand for concepts that require so much more discussion to even begin to understand.

Read the rest here:  Goodness of God

Trying to Keep Up

I love, love, love when people leave comments on the blog!  

Even though I wish we had come together over a common happy experience, I’m still thankful we have come together.

And I normally try hard to “like” and answer every comment in a timely way.

But this spring has been a real roller coaster ride and I’ve fallen dreadfully behind.

Please forgive me.  

I’m trying to keep up, but no matter how fast I pedal, I’m not quite able to make the miles I hope to make each day.

I appreciate every single heart that chooses to engage, chooses to encourage, chooses to turn back and hold out a hand to the next struggling soul behind them.  

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  

I love you all.  ❤

buckets to put out flames