Choosing Transparency

It will soon be seven years since I started writing in this space and I have to say, it’s been such a blessing to share the good, the bad, the ugly and the desperate with hearts that choose to come alongside and encourage me!

But I’m tired.

I’m just not certain I can keep pumping out (even recycled) posts every single day.

I still have a lot to say-especially to those of you who are fresh in this journey and are terrified that the way you feel right now is the way you will always feel. It doesn’t have to be and I want to hold a lantern high so you won’t grow so weary that you give up before you see the path does eventually level out a bit.

So I don’t think I’m disappearing forever.

Honestly, writing isn’t what I DO it’s who I AM.

I can’t stop but I do need a rest from creating public worthy polished pieces that neither make my family blush nor make my readers scratch their heads.

I’m taking a break.

If you want to see posts, you will have to go to my public Facebook page “Heartache and Hope” or follow my personal Facebook page where I’ll put up some posts from the archives.

My goal is to give myself August to regroup, reenergize and rest.

Please don’t give up on me. I’ll be back.

I promise.

Can We Just Speak Honestly About Prayer?

I’m really thankful that more and more Christians are willing to shed false positivity and embrace lament.

Because the truth is lots of stories this side of eternity end in tragedy or at least unmet expectations and sorrow instead of glorious, victorious sunshine and roses.

Crops and marriages fail. Dreams come and go.

We hope for healing but don’t receive it.

Loved ones die.

Let’s just be honest about it-about ALL of it.

❤ Melanie

In the wake of burying Dominic, the most difficult spiritual discipline for me to recover has been prayer.

In part because my heart just doesn’t know what to ask for or how to talk to a God Who has allowed this pain in my life.  

In part because I don’t really have a framework for placing the prayers I want to pray inside my ongoing struggle to commit my future and the future of my family to the hands of a Father Who didn’t step in to prevent Dominic’s death.

I still struggle with this.  

Read the rest of this post here: The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer

Lenten Reflections: Refusing To Reframe My Past, Embracing Truth

This reflection is challenging.

I know I’m often tempted to “work backwards” from my desired outcome/impression/position to fashion or refashion a narrative that suits my purpose. When talking to folks who weren’t there and who have no way to verify any other version of the story I might tell, I can tweak things so I come out on top.

Jesus doesn’t put up with that.

In His Holy Week encounter with religious leaders He forced them to answer His question before He would answer theirs:

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while He was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism-where did it come from ? Was it from heaven or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, From heaven, he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’-we are afraid of the people for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Matthew 21:23-27 NIV

When, after discussion among themselves in which they could not find an answer that would suit their purpose (as opposed to simply answering truthfully) they refused.

So Jesus also refused to answer them.

Jesus wants truth from me.

Not because He doesn’t already know it but because it’s important for me to admit it.

As long as I insist on presenting or framing things my way, whether in an effort to avoid pain or in an effort to retain power, I am resisting the touch of the Potter.

I am only pliable when I am honest.

Revisionism is a deadly form of self-deception and a formidable foe of intimacy with God.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Honesty Doesn’t Have to Be Rude

Like I’ve said before, my emotions will leak out somewhere. I can’t keep them bottled inside forever.

When I choose to be honest AT THE TIME it’s so much better.

When I let folks know that what they say, do, expect from and thrust upon me is unhelpful or overwhelming or even painful, they usually respond with gratitude.

They almost always accept my boundaries.

Those of us walking the Valley often say that those who aren’t just can’t understand. They don’t know what they don’t know.

That’s true.

But they can be educated about some of what we know.

Read the rest here: Hey Fellow Griever-Being Honest Is NOT Being Rude

Being Honest Takes Courage

It is scary to speak aloud what you hope will never happen to you.  It’s unbelievably frightening to admit that we really have no control over whether, or when, we or the ones we love might leave this world.

But I am not going to keep silent.

Not because I want pity or special treatment, but because I want that parent who just buried his or her child to know that you. are. not. alone.

Read the rest here: Courage is a Heart Word

Everyday Brave

So I did something last week that was pretty big for me.

I went to the dentist-not once, but twice-AND I let him make some long-needed repairs to my neglected teeth.

For some folks this might seem like a silly bit of whiny sympathy seeking for the kind of every day healthcare I should be grateful for and not complain about.

But for me, it was HUGE.

I’ve never, ever liked having my mouth worked on.

I don’t remember when it started but I do know that by five or six I would rather know I was going for a vaccine booster than to the dentist for a cleaning. Of course, having pretty lousy teeth (bad genes) and multiple cavities by my teen years didn’t help.

Anyway, fast forward to adulthood and of all the uncomfortable things I could make myself face in the name of being a grown-up I was never able to get over this ridiculous fear.

Last week it could wait no longer.

Retirement means our insurance provider changes and we needed to use up the benefits we had left on the old one. So armed with economic necessity, I dragged my behind to the dentist, committed to doing what had to be done.

One thing had changed, though, in the years (yes, I know it’s supposed to be every six months!) since I’d sat in that chair. I had learned to speak up for myself. I’d learned to be forthright about how much pain I was willing to take and when enough would just have to be enough for that visit.

I’ve discovered a perverse “law” this side of child loss.

I have suffered the absolute worst heartache and sorrow I can bear. So inconvenience or tiny slights or even some pretty large challenges are manageable.

But I’m not at all willing to suffer unnecessarily either physically or relationally anymore.

If a word to the wise, if honesty, if admitting up front that I need some kind of chemical aid or extra grace to endure a procedure will make a conversation, friendship or painful prod or poke go smoothly, then I’m going to ask for it.

So I did.

And while taking the short walk from the waiting room to the exam room involved some deep breaths and positive (silent) self-talk, once things got going it wasn’t bad at all.

I walked out encouraged and with sounder teeth.

I’ve got another complex appointment in a few weeks and am asking for the same treatment plan and protocol. But this time I’m not dreading it at all.

I’m learning that sucking it up or pretending isn’t the only flavor of brave.

I can ask for help.

That’s brave too.

For My Fellow Grievers: Being Honest Is Not Always Being Rude

Honesty is not inherently rude. Even when what’s spoken doesn’t sit well with the person listening to it.

It took awhile for me to figure that out on this journey.

Tone matters, facial expression matters, words matter. But I don’t have to stuff truth in service to the comfort of others.

❤ Melanie

I never ask anyone to adjust the thermostat in a car or at home unless I’m suffocating or shivering.

It’s a point of personal pride that I can tolerate a wider range of temperatures than most people.

And for awhile, I carried that same prideful disdain for “weaker folks” into my grief journey.

I was determined to endure whatever blows might come my way via comments, behavior, subtle and not-so-subtle attempts by others to circumscribe, dictate or otherwise influence my loss experience. I didn’t want to abandon pride in my own strength by admitting I wasn’t as strong as I wished I could be.

Then one day I realized that being honest was not the same as being rude. Telling the truth was not the same as acting selfishly.

Read the rest here: Hey Fellow Griever-Being Honest Is NOT Being Rude

Let Me Be Real

We had to put down a sick goat the other day.

I say “we” loosely because the men in my family shield me from the hard task of taking life.

But it still hurts.

I hate that life is hard and death is the end of all living things.

More than six years after Dominic left us and I still cry. I’m OK and then I’m not OK.

I don’t know what to tell you-I’m stronger but it’s not easier.

Holidays 2020: What The Bereaved Need From Friends And Family

I wrote this four years ago when I realized how hard it was for wounded hearts to tell friends and family what they needed around the holidays.

It’s been shared more than 130,000 times which might reflect that it hits the mark for at least a few folks. My prayer is it makes a difficult season a little less so.

If it speaks for you, feel free to share and let the ones you love know how they can make a hard season slightly easier on your heart. ❤


“I know it is hard.
  I know you don’t truly understand how I feel.  You can’t.  It wasn’t your child.

I know I may look and act like I’m “better”.  I know that you would love for things to be like they were:  BEFORE.  But they aren’t.

I know my grief interferes with your plans.  I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years.  But I can’t help it I didn’t ask for this to be my life.

Read the rest here: Grief and Holidays:What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

A Walking Nerve

It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t walked this path.

Deep pain and unfathomable sorrow stripped me of any reserve, any defense, any padding between the wider world and my oh-so-fragile heart.

I was a walking nerve.

Every awkward and less-than-thoughtful word or deed by friends, family and acquaintances rubbed me raw. I was utterly incapable of extending grace even as I knew I should and understood that most often their intentions were kind.

I had suffered a grievous wound and spent most of my energy just trying to protect what was left of my heart.

All I wanted to do was retreat to the safe cocoon of my own home. I unfollowed people on social media, I screened telephone calls, I rarely ventured out for anything but the most necessary supplies. It was the only way I could provide the space and time needed for my heart to heal enough to bear even the slightest brush with folks who might say or do the wrong thing.

It helped.

Eventually I found the strength to venture beyond the safety of home, family and the few friends with whom I felt comfortable and secure.

I could scroll through Facebook once again without reacting to every single post.

I went back to church and even showed up for covered dish socials where I couldn’t be certain which way the conversation would flow or who might get me blocked into a corner and ply me with questions.

I attended a few large gatherings: graduations, weddings and a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert.

So if you are in the early days of this hard, hard journey, do what you have to and find the safe circle that gives you time, space and grace to help your heart toward healing.

It may take longer than you’d like, but resting from the constant pressure of trying to protect yourself from the hustle and bustle in a world where child loss is misunderstood and frequently ignored will make a difference.

And one day, like me, you might well wake up and realize that what once felt like personal attacks are simply folks saying and doing foolish things because they haven’t been forced to learn the wisdom of compassion through unfathomable loss.

I’m still more sensitive than I used to be.

There are times I just can’t take crowds, unpredictable settings, offhand comments about death, dying, grief and heartache.

But I’m finally able to walk in the world without feeling I have to protect my heart at every turn.

It’s liberating and I’m thankful.

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