Healing Heart

Alive

It’s the twelfth day of 2020.

It’s taken me 12 days to put words to the thoughts in my head.

And even now, they come out stumbly and awkward.

It’s Sunday evening and it’s black dark outside and the temperature is plummeting below zero.

It’s January and 6 years ago, on this very day I was bringing our three year old daughter home from another hospital stay with no idea that in a few short weeks, she would physically leave us for the rest of our earthly lives.

I wept as I drove home in the gathering dusk earlier tonight, after picking up Vitamin C and Echinacea and Throat Coat tea for my son.

I wept because I wanted to spend another day or month or year or forever with our daughter ALIVE.

I wept because I miss the feminine, sweet, little girlishness she brought into our lives.

Sometimes death feels so dead.

I know there is always Life somewhere.

I just need to choose to see it.

This year, I chose the word ALIVE as my focus.

Not because I wanted to hide the pain of death. Not because I want to live every day in a flurry of activity or growth.

I chose it because I want to remind myself of LIFE.

I want to remind myself that no matter how my heart and emotions feel, I am vitally ALIVE.

I have been making a running record in my journal of proof that I am ALIVE.

Some may think it a gratitude list if they saw it.

It’s more then that to me. While I’m grateful for everyone of those things I list, it’s also proof to me that LIFE is still happening. Right this minute.

Dirt under fingernails.

Homes for crickets.

Green in Winter.

I stand with myself and weep in the death of our daughter. It’s a healthy thing to grieve. But death can be so much more then physical death.

Death can be lived in the heart and the mind and this is where I stand my ground and come ALIVE.

I refuse to be soul stuck in the clutches of shame and fear and selfish thinking. I refuse to ruminate on things I cannot change. I refuse to believe my self worth is based on my emotions and thoughts and others opinion of me. I refuse to manipulate myself and others by doing and saying things in a passive aggressive manner. I refuse to allow other people’s issues to control my own personal mental and physical health.

I will fall down flat often this year. I know I will. But I also known that I am not the sum total of my mistakes.

Falling does not mean I am dead. It means I am human and it means I have an opportunity to grow.

I am reminding myself of my own humanity and my own power …through the wonderful grace of my Creator.

I am reminding myself by writing lists about being ALIVE.

Steamed cream in my coffee. So frothy and smooth on my tongue.

The ache in my shoulders after a day of work.

Fractured morning light on the living room wall.

The smell of icy winter.

The way my son lies, breathing in and out.

Sleep music wafting through the room.

Footsteps of my husband downstairs.

Writing down the present makes me more aware. It reminds me of the important things happening all around me and keeps me from getting stuck on things I cannot change. Things in the past. Things in the future. Things in the present that are out of my control.

I want to be ALIVE this year.

To listen without judgment.

To give true empathy without patronizing or trying to fix things.

I want to feel my heart healing.

I want to watch the woman inside of me blossoming.

I want to own my story and live my present.

I want to feel the joy and the hard and the mundane.

I want to remind myself that ALIVE is what my soul is. That no death will take that from me.

Death is conquered already. My Divine Creator is the essence of ALIVE and He has invited me into His presence.

ALIVE .

EMBRACE IT. THIS ONE WONDERFUL MIRACULOUS LIFE.

Healing Heart

Chasing 2 AM

It was 2 AM and my toddler was crying out in his sleep, thrashing his body around desperately.

I comforted him the best I could and he calmed down.

But I?

I was hit with a memory. It washed over me with intense clarity and I lay there in bed, my insides falling out all over again.

My leg began to ache in the exact spot it had ached way back in my childhood when I thought I had growing pains.

Only this time, I’m 30 something and growing pains happen to me heart, not my leg. So they must be connected.

I knew what I had to do. Wide awake and heart pounding, I pushed blankets and pillows around my toddler so he wouldn’t roll out of bed. Shivering and weak, I carefully made my way downstairs.

I put water on for tea.

I was shaking in the stillness and the fear that this memory clenched my heart and body in. It was strange because the memory was an emotional one more then a physical one. They are entwined.

Brew the tea. Make it Lemon Balm and Lavender. It aids relaxation. It promotes calm.

I curled up with a blanket and my pen and notebook and I let it out.

This time, I wasn’t going to force myself back to sleep. This time I wasn’t going to pretend it was nothing. To shame myself into believing that my reaction was overkill.

This time I explored it and I chased it down and although I don’t have all the answers, I found peace. I found release. I gave myself a hug instead of criticism. I gave the other person grace instead of resentment.

I found forgiveness and I gave forgiveness.

The pain in my leg is nearly gone.

My second cup of tea is steeping.

I sit in sweet silence after my fear and ravaging and I eat a piece of pumpkin cake. Slowly. Intentionally. The flavor of cinnamon and cream cheese and the dense steady texture of baked pumpkin.

I feel like perhaps this was the remembrance that Jesus spoke of when he asked us to partake of his bread and body. The love and nourishment He meant for us to receive.

Broken for me. Broken for you.

Communion with The Divine comes in different forms.

I choose to thank and embrace and be loved. To feel held and cherished with every bite of pumpkin cake.

With sips of warm, comforting tea.

Everyday cutlery. Every day food.

Partake slowly and know that you are connected to life and love and nourishment.

You are connected to the Divine.

Healing Heart

When You Fear the Questions

Our heart struggles to find meaning

To know the answers to the core questions

And we hide when we don’t.

Shame is a trap that suffocates the light from the soul

Fear keeps our questions looking like monsters

Misery tell you that you should be better then this

And still.

You sit in silence

And wonder why the questions

Have no pat answers

And when they do,

You question the perfect existence of them

Because nothing in life is perfect

Divine peace comes with divine intervention

When nothing makes sense

When death steals

And loneliness engulfs

When the past hurts and the present is survival

When you know you have so much but

The questions still burn in your brain

And more then anything else,

You FEAR.

You fear the questions

Where they will take you

You fear the answers

How they are waiting for you.

The discomfort of growth is never an easy rising

“Flying is not the hard part

It’s where you go when you do”

-Boris the Goose in Balto III

Choose to trust as the geese.

Trust the air.

Trust your natural instincts.

Trust the migration.

Trust when you cannot control it and it makes no logical sense.

You can be confident and ask questions at the same time.

Follow forward to the Divine Mystery whether you have answers or not.

And don’t forget to enjoy life as you go.

Healing Heart

On Rushing Spring and Healing

Its March 13. At least I hope I’m not a week off. I haven’t looked at a calender in days and gave up adding or subtracting to March 5 since that was my birthday and I actually remember my birthday even if I don’t keep track of how old I’m getting.

Please tell me I’m not the only one that uses their birthday as a mental time anchor.

Just when I thought I might run away as far South as possible, the sun came out and the snow began to melt.

And me, the girl who actually likes snow, knew that this winter really truly has been a hard one.

I’m sitting in my living room with the morning sun streaming across the hardwood floor, listening to Enya and Kyrell’s breathing.

Feeling can be hard for me.

I was that brave mommy that powered through her child’s sickness and kept her chin up and her mind occupied because I had to be brave and strong and as sane as possible for my daughter. I was her voice and her advocate and her home base.

Having Ky had brought back so many emotions that only a baby can bring. Its hard to know exactly how to articulate my thoughts. While Ky is totally his own person and celebrated for who HE IS, he also triggers so many memories.

As most of you know, he was born with a deformed voice box which caused respiratory issues and reflux which has majorly improved with surgery.

He just received a great thumbs up on his progress last week and we are truly grateful.

This week he is sick with RSV. So far we have been able to care for him at home but the fevers, the choking on great gobs of mucus, the coughing so hard that he loses all control of his body, it all reminds me of caring for his sister.

Six years ago, we were in and out of the hospital with her. She never seemed to bounce out of her bout with RSV that spring.

It was well into the summer before she was feeling truly well again. And by then, we had moved across country with her.

She loved resting with her Daddy in the gentle sunlight.

Your body doesn’t forget. Brains are a complex system and triggers can cause amazing feats as well as irrational fear.

I watched Ky breathing the other night, burning with fever and breathing rapid shallow breathes and I suddenly was back in the ER with Kierra and having her decline so rapidly and hearing the Dr say that kids wear out so fast when their respirations are 60 breathes a minute.

I had to firmly tell myself that Ky is not Kierra. That he is strong. I had to force myself to open a window and allow the night air to wash over his sick body. The fever reduced and his breathing became much better but my heart felt weak and spent.

I held him all night last night so he could sleep. This morning, my body is still on high alert. I’m actually not tired. Part of it is a pycologial thing and part of it is because I am healthier then ever because I have been making sure my body gets the nutrition it needs to function properly.

Now before you think I’m amazing, let me tell you a little secret.

I’ve got this big fear.

I saved Kierra’s suction machine because it is so priceless when you have a child with respiratory issues. I was so grateful for it with Kierra and it went with us all over the place. It was the norm and I was fine with it.

Its been sitting on the shelf for 4 years.

I know in my heart that I should most likely use it to do some deep suctioning on Ky. But there’s a part of me that shuts down at the thought. My heart starts racing and my legs turn to jelly.

I’m not sure what to do with all the emotion I feel about it. I do know that unless Ky really truly needs it, I’m going to allow myself to feel that apprehension. I’m going to allow that machine to just stay tucked away.

I’m not going to shake myself into some straight jacket and force my mind to turn off and go get that black case down unless it is really necessary.

There are times when you need to shove fear aside and ‘just did it’ because there ARE no other options.

Thats ok! That’s bravery.

But today, I’m going to be a different kind of brave. I am going to give myself space and time to acknowledge that RSV is rotten . That crackly breathing puts me into over drive. That sittting here trying to decide if I’m overly paranoid for calling the Dr again doesn’t make me a helicopter mom.

That someday I may be brave enough to pull out the suction. Until then, its not going anywhere.

That forcing myself to heal and comply is wildly unhealthy and will produce no lasting results.

So I’ll sit here and hold Ky. I’ll drink my hot coffee (its actually cold by now) and listen to Enya and allow the sun to do it’s magic in my house. And I won’t rush the process.

Because rushing spring can freeze the buds and wilt the blossoms. Beauty is a process in nature. And in our hearts.

Healing Heart

The Lily

Years ago, I had a dream.

Some people may call it a vision.

Dream or vision, it doesn’t matter to me. It was a beautiful picture in my mind that I bring back and look at lovingingly and tearfully.

I don’t know how old I was or the circumstances that surrounded it, but I close my eyes and I am taken back to that time and place in an instant.

I found myself in a vault like prison.

Cold. Grey.

There was no beauty at all.

In anything.

I walked down the dim hallway and turned right. Two wide stone slabs stepped me down into a rectangle room. A feeling of dread and hopelessness walked with me and I felt my heart constricting in my chest.

A window with bars filtered in meager sunlight that slanted across the bare cold floor. And there, kneeling in that one shaft of dim light, was a man kneeling.

White robed and serene, he was totally still. In fact, he appeared to be a statue. The sun slanted in on his shoulders as he faced the blankness in front of him .

I took a step closer and saw a lily of the valley clasped in his hands, folded in prayer. White and delicate with vibrant green leaves, it was a spot of serene beauty in the muddied grey of that cold tomb.

He didn’t say a word. But in the from lighting, his eyes shone with so much love, that I began to weep. Tears poured down my face as I stood there, soaking in the peaceful lily and the eyes.

The eyes broke me. They seemed to reach in and draw me compellingly and I found myself lost in their love.

I wept gut wrenching sobs that erupted from places I didn’t even know existed. That cold grey room became sacred ground.

I woke and my body felt weak from crying and I lay there, wondering what it meant and feeling strangely cleansed and freed.

I wondered what awful darkness lay ahead of me in life, and I shuddered a bit, because that prison was so hopeless. so cold. So ALONE. It was so morbid that I looked the other way.

All through the years, I have hung onto the eyes. The eyes that drew me in and wrapped me up and loved me. The eyes that I knew would never ever leave me. So compassionate. So understanding. So welcoming. And so uncondeming.

There is a beautiful verse in Psalm 32 that follows me as well..

“I will guide Thee with mine eye.”

Fear has to leave when we gaze into that kind of love. Shootings, illness, death and even hard decisions cannot escape that kind of love. It’s the kind that never lets you go. Even on the darkest days. Even when your facing the hardest situation of your life and it takes your breath away.

Those eyes guide you. They are constant. They carry you. You are never ever for one moment truly ALONE.

You can imagine my delight when my husband brought home a gorgeous bouquet of lilies for Valentines Day this year.
Lily of the valley has the flower meaning of humility, chastity, sweetness, and purity. It also means “the return of happiness.”

Sometimes I don’t realize the significance of something until its right in front of me. This was one of those times.

Roses are sweet and lovely and some people feel a deep happiness when they receive a bouquet. They are the flower of love. I get that

But lilies? They touch me in a way roses cannot. I feel real and connected and deep. Fresh and hopeful and constant.

My heart thrills a bit every time I look at them. I feel a oneness with them. Out of the box unaffected.

Wildly unsymentical and free from cultivation. Reaching for sunlight in exotic unpredicatable patterns. Flourishing and heart wide open and laden with the scent of pureness.

That’s the kind of woman I want to be. And that’s what the lily means to me.

Healing Heart

To Laugh Again

I didn’t know how much I missed the laughter. I have a cousin who is beautiful but especially when she laughs. Her whole face turns into joy and just looking at her makes you want to join her. She doesn’t hide the liberating emotion. 

She.

Just.

Laughs.

Sometimes life gets heavy and laugher gets scarce. Circumstamaces dare you to be funny. Situations leave you tired and where’s the laughter to that? 

One can laugh without it catching their face or reaching their eyes. Laughter can be just white noise. Filling in the blank’s. Making One look OK.

My friend, Gracie, gave me this photo along with a baby gift for Ky. I stared at it and scarcely recognized myself. I was laughing. Laughing like I thought  I never would or could again. 

Laughing like I never had in my whole life. Because when laughter is stripped from your heart, the gift of its return is more precious then words and the laughter is deeper. More precious. The heart knows that not all day will be laughing days. That the hard will sometimes silence the thrill. 

But the world needs to hear this….

“Because of Jesus……

photo credits: Gracie O’Brian 

Laughter can be birthed again.” 

Healing Heart

Still

Tonight I cried. 

It was one of those days where you felt off kilter and emotional and tired and nauseous and irrationally irritable.

I usually love weekends but today was just plain hard and I didn’t know why and I couldn’t seem to place my finger on anything but  everything was hurting. 

Let me go back a bit. To all the little hugs from God that I have received recently. 

I’ve been fighting this ugly third trimester 

fear (ugly and crippling):

what if this little man child has NCS as well? What if he cries for hours on end like Kierra did? What if he hurts and we can’t help him? What if he won’t suck? What if I’m so tired I don’t know which way is up? What if he dies? 

and anxiety (rediculous and real) :

What if there are complications with the birth? What if my baby dies suddenly before I get to meet him? 

and preparing for two different scenarios (each could be total reality) so I’m not even sure what to tell Kobe when I prepare him for a baby in the house:

(Some of these may seem silly to you, but if you’ve had a child with special needs, you will understand how big the little things can be. I’ve had both these babies and it’s a world of difference! But the love ….aw the love is always always a mommies heart full!)

Because really, this little man child could cry all night or sleep all night.

He could drink well or have sucking/swallowing issues.

He could need to bottle feed or he may breast feed.

And as he gets a bit older…he could love to cuddle or prefer to be left alone.

He could smile and gaze at us or turn away and not focus.

His little cap could fit perfectly or it could slide off his head all the time. 

He could be a ‘pick up and go’ baby or a ‘make no plans’ baby.

He could play with toys or he could ignore them.

He could grow out of his clothes faster then you can buy them or he could stay in one size for a very long time. 

He could love to be held and played with by his big brother, or he could cry at being touched too much.

So I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. How do I prepare my 5 year old for a baby brother when I really don’t know what to expect myself? I don’t want scare him needlessly and I don’t want to expect the worst, but I DO want to be real and not sugar coat everything for him. So we talk about babies and how tiny they are and how cute they are and how he can be such a great big brother. 

Like I said, the past weeks have been a bit hard. Fear is ugly. I know there are people praying for me and I’m so grateful for every one of you! This week some amazing things happened. Last Saturday night at church, I was sitting there, before the service started, reading my Bible and enjoying a bit of peace when  a sweet lady came up and said Hello. We only had a few minutes before the service started, but somehow, I mentioned that our baby could have genetic disorder. She asked if she could pray for me and we clasped hands and she prayed such a sweet prayer for me and our son. It totally warmed my heart. Her confidence that God was in control was like a breathe of fresh air!  

A few days later, at our small group, we ladies were praying and I asked for prayers especially for my fear and uncertainty. ( sometimes I wish God would just TELL me if this baby will be healthy 🙂 but He seems to want me to simply trust and wait! ) After the prayer, one of the ladies told me that she felt she was suppose to tell me that “God’s got me!” The very next day, I received a bracelet in the mail with a note from a dear friend that said the same words…”God’s got you.” 

(Isn’t God amazing at backing His promises with promises!)

Now just listen…this gives me happy goosebumps! There was a bracelet with the note I received and  inscribed on it was “Be still and Know that I am God.” I immediately fell in love with it and wanted to wear it to work that night, but of course I couldn’t very well since I was working the floor. In the two years that I’ve worked at the hospital, I’ve never had a CNA follow me in training. That very night, a lovely helpful girl followed me around and helped me out. We made a great team and she was a fast learner since she had worked there quite some time ago and was just brushing up her skills. Before I went to a different floor for my last 8 hours, I noticed the words on her forearm….”Be still and know…” and I wanted to hug her. I was so amazed I could only tell her how much I liked those words. The rest of the night, I carried them with me.

A day later, another lovely friend (I’m SO blessed with friends! ) left a song for me on my Facebook page. I didn’t  have time to REALLY listen to it and HEAR the message in it until tonight.  I was going to sit and write and read some scripture and try to process life but something in me made reach for the memory journal of Kierra. 

I actually didn’t want to open it. It seemed too hard and emotional and I just wasn’t up for wading in those waters  tonight. But sometimes that little voice that insists you do something, doesn’t go away.

“Nope!” I told myself firmly. Tonight I will do exactly what I want to do and I leave  the journal on the shelf. 

But…. that little voice prompted me again, so I sighed BIG TIME in my mind and reluctantly pulled it down. “I just don’t want to handle more emotions right now” I thought as I flipped to the very back. There was no writing here and I looked at the pretty pink pages first. They were gilt edged and beautiful. Then I started with the last entry that was made ( my friends and family had written memories of Kierra for me) and I started to cry. 

But I kept reading. The more I read the more beauty I saw that I had never seen before. People were literally touched and blessed by her life. The brokenness I remembered. The pain and hard and tears and questions…they were beautified with hope and love and lives that will never be the same…because of that one little girl. It was so healing. And a peace washed over me… no matter what happens, it will be OK. 

This man child is also given to us for God’s glory. He will be loved and adored and I am so blessed to be his mom!! 

I listened to this song my friend had posted  and I wept and worshiped our Creator. our Father. our Friend. 

And I gave Him our son once again….

And the title of the song? 

Of course it was: 

STILL! 

HILLARY SCOTT LYRICS

“Still”

I believe that You are God alone
But sometimes I still try to take control

Cause I get scared when I can’t see the end

And all You want from me is to let go
You’re parting waters

Making a way for me

You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see

You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak

All You need for me to be is still
I bring my praise before I bring my need

Cause there’s no fear You’ve not already seen

I rest my heart on all Your promises

Cause I have seen and know Your faithfulness
You’re parting waters

Making a way for me

You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see

You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak

All You need for me to be is still
And know that You are God

Be still

And know that You, trust that You are parting waters

Lord, You whispered my name

Oh, You answered my prayer

You’re moving mountains
You’re parting waters

Making a way for me

You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see

You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak

All You need for me to be is still

Be still