Repost: Of Flying Geese and Calling Courage!

Every autumn I hear the geese overhead and I think about how all that honking serves only a single purpose:  to remind the stragglers they are headed in the right direction.  

It speaks courage to my own heart as I remember that not only does the leader call out to those behind, but that each bird takes a turn at the head of the line so that the others can rest a bit.  

What  beautiful picture of how life SHOULD be.  

Read the rest here:  Of Flying Geese and Calling Courage!

The Healing Power of Fellowship

I spent last weekend with eleven other bereaved moms.

And lest you think, “How sad!”, let me just tell you we had a beautiful time together.

Sure there were tears-how can there not be when talking about the precious children we miss-but there was fun too.

Of course we had somber moments. 

Especially as we lit candles in honor of each child whose light lives on even as their physical presence is denied us.

anchor retreat lit candle

In between Bible study sessions we ate, talked, walked outside and got to know one another.

A game of “Two Truths and a Lie” revealed all kinds of surprises that had us practically falling off our chairs with uproarious laughter.

Even though most of us had never met before, knowing we shared the heartache of child loss drew us together and opened the door to meaningful conversation.

anchor retreat hope

For 72 hours we didn’t have to put our masks on or walk with one foot in the world of the spared and one foot in the world of the deeply wounded. 

We were free-gloriously free-to be real and unguarded.

One of the fun things we did was have a Mary Kay consultant come and do facials and makeup.  I think we kind of shocked her when she went around the circle asking, “So what are you primary make up concerns?” and over half of us said, “I don’t wear make up.”

Poor woman.

anchor retreat mary kay lady (2)

She had no idea that we had long passed the point of faking feelings or saying what someone expects just because they expect it.

I know it was a stretch for some of the moms to make their way to this place they’d never been to and walk into a room full of women they’d never met.

It was a stretch for me to facilitate discussions when I felt I had reached my limit for anything besides staying home for the rest of this year.

But it was worth it.

There is nothing as beautiful as broken hearts gathering together to love, uplift, encourage and listen to one another.

If you have the opportunity and are afraid, please step out. 

Take a chance and link arms with fellow grievers.

I promise you will be glad you did.

circle-of-women

 

Life Is Hard: Speak Courage To Struggling Hearts

We all know those folks-the ones who have a kind word, quick smile and warm hug for everyone they meet.

And we all know the other type-the ones that suck the oxygen out of the room when they walk in and effectively dim any spark of hope a heart might be trying to fan into flame.

I want to be the former, not the latter.  

I want to be a light bearer, not a candle snuffer.  

In fact,  this has become my anthem since Dominic left for Heaven. I cannot bear to think I’m heaping weight onto an already burdened soul.

A smile, a kind word, an outstretched hand may be exactly what a hurting heart needs that minute to keep holding onto hope.

And how many of us are just about to let go at any given minute?

So much of the New Testament is about perseverance. Who needs to persevere if life is full of rainbows and unicorns?

No.

Perseverance is needed for trial and hardship.   

My guess is that if you’re reading this, you know about both. 

So I pray that the Lord will send someone each day to encourage YOUR heart.  

And, being strengthened yourself, you will pass it on.  

Life is hard. Most of the time I wanted a participation ribbon just for living through another day. We don’t give each other enough credit for hanging in there during tough times, and we often criticize more than we comfort. Can you imagine what our world would look like if we spent more time encouraging people who are making it against all odds instead of criticizing them?

Paul told us to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11). … While God in His infinite wisdom and timing does choose to deliver some of us quickly, many of us spend years persevering before we find freedom and healing for our wounds.

~Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine

Hollow Words

We don’t mean to speak words that echo like a whistle in an empty auditorium.

But we do.

We open our mouths and pour out platitudes because that’s what’s been poured into us.

But we need to stop.  We need to listen.   

And then we need to respond to the heart that stands before us and not to our need to shut down and shut up and shut out another person’s pain.

compassion and stay with youIt’s hard to choose compassion.  It’s hard to lean in and listen well.  It’s hard to let our hearts get all tangled up with someone else’s when we could just walk away.

I am well aware that you have a life of your own full of drama, daily duties and demands.  I don’t want to drain you dry. 

Truly.

But I might need just a moment of your time and a bit of your courage to make it through my own darkness and despair.

One word.

One REAL word.

“I’m sorry.  That is awful.”

“I hate that you have this heavy burden.”

“How can I pray for you?”

“I don’t know what to say, but I want you to know I’m here and not going anywhere.”

 

fluent in silence

 

[Dis]couraged

We talk a lot about encouragement and we should.

Because coming alongside and speaking courage to a heart that wants to give up and give in is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

It’s a big part of why I write-my daily prayer is that the words I send into space land just where God wants them to and that somewhere, somehow a heart is made stronger.

But life is full of discouragement.  

Sometimes it’s a phone call that brings news of a “no” when you were longing for “yes”.

Sometimes it’s finding out that there is more month than money.

Sometimes it’s a friend that doesn’t remember your birthday or anniversary or some other important date and you’re left with no one to celebrate that milestone.

Sometimes it’s the scale registering PLUS two pounds when you’ve been so, so careful to eat well and exercise all week long.

And sometimes it’s more serious than that-a diagnosis, a pink slip (do they do that anymore?), an argument with your child or spouse or parent.  

One of the things I’m learning in this Valley is that I am not immune to the myriad afflictions of life on Planet Earth.  I don’t get a pass just because I buried a child.  I have to trudge through the muck and mire of the everyday just like anyone else.

CryingWoman

And while my heart is much better at sorting the truly important from the barely mentionable, there are still many, many days when I feel sad and discouraged and it has nothing to do with Dominic’s not being here.  

This week I’ve battled increased and uncontrollable pain due to my RA.  I don’t know any other way to describe it except to say that if it keeps me from going outside and doing things, it’s at least an 8/10 on that stupid scale they use at the doctor’s office.

Some routine blood work showed a couple areas we need to watch.  Yippee!  More doctors’ appointments and more needle sticks.

I’m resigned to the fact that I cannot change any of this.  I’m not morose or without hope, but I will admit my heart is faltering just a bit.  

I preach truth to myself.  I know that in the end all will be made new and right and I won’t even care about the measly 70 or 80 years I spent down here.

think of eternity and live backwards from that

But sometimes I’m just plain tired. 

I’m tired of fighting against the barrage of everyday joy suckers.  

I confess.  I’m discouraged.  ❤

eeyore plain

 

 

Repost: Courage is a Heart Word

A conspiracy of silence forces those who are suffering to hide.  It creates huge gaps between what goes on behind closed doors and public image.

And it causes those who are wounded to question the authenticity of their own experience.

I will tell my story because even though it is hardit matters.  And even though it hurts, it can help heal another.  And even though it isn’t finished, it can blaze a trail for others to follow.

Read the rest here:  Courage is a Heart Word

 

 

 

 

 

Stick Around: Help Another Heart Hold Onto Hope

When grief was fresh, the pain was raw and my heart was oh, so tender, I desperately needed a safe space to talk about the nitty-gritty of child loss.

And I found it in online bereaved parents’ groups.  

I’m so thankful that they exist, that they are maintained by people who give time and energy to keeping them safe and that-for the most part-participants are kind, compassionate and encouraging.

There is something I’ve noticed now that I’ve been here awhile.  Many parents tend to drop out of active participation when they get a little further along in their journey. 

I understand completely that time, plus the work grief requires, often means a heart has less need for these groups.  It’s not that grief dissipates, it’s simply that we get stronger and learn to carry it a little better.

I also know that grief groups can become  Echo Chambers and wear on a heart after a time.

We all need a break.

But can I take a moment to encourage those among us who have learned a little, lived a little and walked longer in the path of child loss to stick around?

Newly bereaved parents need to know that they CAN survive.

Your presence-even if you don’t have wonderful words of wisdom-speaks volumes. 

When someone comments and shares that her loss was 5, 7, 10 years ago, it helps my heart hold onto hope. 

Because if YOU can make it, maybe I can too.  

buckets to put out flames