Thoughts On Life

Holiday Like It’s Your Last

I’m afraid to write this post. Mostly I’m afraid because it could be taken in the very opposite way of what I would ever want it to be taken. But aren’t most things in life that way? Two sided?

I’m going to write it I though because I think it needs to be said. Cue the deep breathing.

What would you do if you knew this was your last holiday on earth? Who would you go see? How would you celebrate?

There’s no reason to panic here. No reason to buy exorbitant gifts or frantically try to send out cards or burn your old journals. Just a quiet reflection on what really matters most in your life right now and a refocus on being intentional with it.

Ever since Covid hit, I’ve been rumbling with deep questions and thoughts. I keep seeing two sides of extreme opinions and I honestly feel like I waffle back and forth between the two.

Obviously, the thing most people want to do is to love others well. Love. Love . Love.

Some people show love well by quarantine. Some people show love by working in hospitals. Some people show love by running the trash trucks. Some people show love by sharing their provisions. Some people show love by showing up at their sick parents houses and sitting with them and making them laugh. There So much love everywhere when we look for it!

In a world that speaks so much of hate and hurt, all everyone wants, deep in their heart is to be loved. It just looks different from a variety of glasses.

There are all kinds of opinions and mandatory restrictions over this holiday season. I’m not writing this to tell you what to do or add to the confusion but I have a message burning in me and so I write.

All through this year, while people were speaking of the pandemic and how best to show love, I would remember our daughter Kierra. She was definitely a high risk child. Winters were often spent either at home or in the hospital because the risk of her getting sick or actually being sick was frankly was quite high. Every cold could lead to pneumonia. Every pneumonia could lead to kidney failure and every kidney failure could lead to respiratory failure. Which would lead to death.

There was no cure for her condition. No tidy answer. Just managing the symptoms and trying to keep her immune system strong. Sound familiar?

Now I know that Covid is a pandemic. I am not for a moment saying it’s made up or related to my daughter’s disorder. My heart hurts for all the lives that have been forever changed through this illness. So in some ways, we aren’t even dealing with the same issues.

In other ways, we are. Kierra was high risk for any illness. We kept her home during cold and flu season. We never fully expected to go anywhere unless we actually got there. Our plans could change at a moments notice.

We didn’t ask others to accommodate our daughter’s health needs. We didn’t normally demand extra precautions. It was our responsibility to care for her and do what we could to protect her from viruses. It became our own personal normal.

We also took a trip I will never regret. A road trip from Pennsylvania to Montana with our daughter. It was one of those trips where the whole time you were packing, you thought you were totally 💯 crazy, but the feeling of doing the right thing was so strong, that it outweighed the ‘what if’s’.

What if she would get sick in Montana and we wouldn’t have our pediatric hospital? What if she got sick on the way and we were stranded in a strange hospital? What if she contacted a virus on the trip and came home sick? What if the altitude made her breathing worse? What if we were irresponsible to go so far with a special needs child? What if she died?

Kierra’s grandparents had been missionaries in Central America since she was a baby and they had never had a good chance to connect with her. I felt a certain urgency to take the trip and enjoy some time with them and also get to visit our old home state.

We went on that trip. It wasn’t all easy. I mean just hauling the stuff into the motel room was like a marathon chore. Oh the memories!

And this was just one load.
My spot was right there beside her among all those blankets and stuff for about 30 hours. One way.

But we enjoyed our time so much. Kierra seemed to love Montana and although she needed more oxygen then normal, she thrived. She ‘talked’ and waved her little hands and smiled and giggled. She relaxed more then I thought she would.

It was such a gift to all our hearts. It was healing and special and connecting.

A month later, when Christmas came, we once again decided to make a trip to my family for the day. They lived only 4 hours away instead of 30 but it was still a big deal to pack everything up. Kierra didn’t feel well on Christmas Day.

But the love poured on her and the support given to us was so special and priceless.

Those two holidays were the last times Kierra was at her Grandparent’s house.

She passed away in January. Two months after being in Montana and one month after being in Maryland.

I will never regret taking the risk. Love beat death. Spending that time with family can never be replaced. I will always be grateful we had that opportunity. Her disorder prevented us from doing many things, but they did not define her.

We chose to live like there was no tomorrow. Because really, there was no promise of even one more day.

I know. It’s not going to look the same for you as it did for us. It could very well be that loving well this year means staying at home. You may not be able to take the risk of sickness. You may not have sufficient finances. You may have no family to visit. You may be in mandatory lockdown.

I’m sorry. I know this is hard. I know this is lonely and often there are no ideal options.

Hear my heart though? Please don’t allow the fact of dying or suffering to scare you into isolation. Please don’t allow the fear of others to shame you into not taking that meal or inviting that lonely person. Or hugging those grandparents.

Please love yourself well. Do what you know you need to do. There is no reason for shaming over this season. And that starts with you. Give yourself grace. Pass it out freely to others. Your decision is honorable.

My daughter died from respiratory failure but she died well loved.

At her funeral, her Grandpa said he had asked God for One Chance to connect with her while he was a missionary so far away.

When we went to Montana, his prayer was answered. She looked into his eyes (which was rare). They connected.

I had no idea he prayed that prayer. I did know that we needed to go on that trip. I did know, that after that trip, Kierra seemed satisfied. Like she had accomplished a mission that was hers to do.

Two months later, it was her time to go on. To enter the Knowing – the Fullness. The Complete Wholeness that is Hers. The arms of Jesus caught her up.

Pure Joy

Whatever your holiday plans are this year, love deeply. Freely. Fully. You never know when it is your last.

Peace my friend. Peace and love.

Grief

When Miracles Don’t Happen

I’ve been Rumbling around

With thoughts on God

And miracles and healing.

It feels that too often in life

I’ve operate under the expectation

That when we have our priorities straight

When we have our life full

Of church and giving and prayer

Then God will hear us.

FOR SURE.

I’ve been more and more uncomfortable

With this mindset and I’ve been digging

Deeper in search of clarity.

I always knew that we can’t save ourselves in our own power. However, for years I felt a desperation deep in my core that went beyond that knowledge. It told me that I was never good enough and never powerful enough to be considered a good Christian. I was always aware of my brokenness and my humanness and imperfections.

So I begged

I pleaded.

I made promises in hopes of becoming more powerful and feeling more committed.

I forced a lot.

I was desperate for God to help me.

I was treating God like a vending machine.

Here’s the deal though. Ten quarters won’t buy you more favor then one. They might buy you more soda but they don’t buy you more favor with God.

He’s not a vending machine.

He will not be manipulated.

He will not be patronized.

He will not be prioritized.

It feels like in a crazy way sometimes,

I have tried to manipulate

The Creator into blessing me.

Then when things go down hill

I check my life for sin.

Like I can control the outcome in

circumstances by DOING.

Now before I get all technical

and you think I’m throwing out prayer

and the power of the Holy Spirit and our own

human nature and repentance,

let me tell you what started me on my

Quest for truth and meaning.

When a loved one escapes death,

We say things like

” We are so blessed!”

“It is a miracle!”

“We are So grateful!”

That’s all good and true and fine!

But here’s the part that hasn’t sat well with me.

What happens if death comes?

Or something worse then death?

Are we still just as blessed?

Are we still SO grateful?

And did we still receive a miracle?

It leaves a wide open feeling of betrayal and is downright uncomfortable when one person is ‘blessed’ because the diagnosis was negative but someone else’s was positive.

When death takes one child and the other child is healed.

When one child disappears forever and the other one is found.

It feels like cruel, ill humored fate. We face grief or we face survivor’s guilt.

And we wonder where God is.

He said He gives to those who ask.

He answers to those who knock.

He says you’ll find if you search.

So how come it feels like He’s not keeping His end of the deal?

Here’s the kicker.

There is no ‘deal’ with God.

Not the kind of deal that we envision anyway.

He already Created us plus the whole entire world so He is already light years ahead of us!

He is my Saviour so having him as a priority feels a bit … dusty and lame. I mean ….really!

Our kids don’t become more or less our children by prioritizing our relationship. They simply ARE ours. In a similar way, I am God’s child and that is a fact that I cannot change by trying to love Him more in hopes that I will become more His. I AM ALREADY! (Thanks to Rhonda Schrock for setting my mind along these thoughts)

He will automatically be a priority when I am in a good relationship with Him. That’s what it all comes down to with Him.

Relationship.

Bad things are going to happen in life.

Heartbreak will come. Unfair, horrible, cruel life wreaks havoc every single day and loving God does not always shield us from it.

We will hurt. We will bleed. We will likely rather die then face life at times.

But our relationship with God can still be sacred and steady and powerful. Deeply calming.

Begging, pleading, trying to change minds, or manipulating never works well in any relationship.

Why do we try it with the Divine?

We don’t have to try to figure God out.

He doesn’t need to be defended or explained.

Taking responsibility for other people’s actions, or the ‘fate’ in life, is not our duty or our right. There’s a lot of truth to that with God as well.

While I firmly believe God WANTS to hear our hearts and wishes and dreams and deep longings that ‘cannot be uttered’, I also believe that we need to step off the pedestal of trying to get it all right, have enough faith, read our Bible enough, pray enough, or be a ‘better Christian’.

God is way more interested in having a relationship with us then having us perform our hearts out in hidden fear and desperation.

He has been waiting for a deep, trusting relationship with us since the day He breathed life into our bodies. He is deeply invested in our lives, whether we feel it or not, and He has incredible comfort, insights, blessings and adventures to share with us.

We are living, moving miracles every single day. We may not get the miracle we were praying or hoping for, but we are actually LIVING a miracle Right Now. That’s worth celebrating!

This whole SAFE relationship with God -even when life is anything but SAFE may feel like the beginning of a relationship to us, or the ending of life as we know it but in all reality, He has known us since forever.

He loves us incredibly beyond our imagination.

Trust Him.

He is still the God of miracles! There is still beauty in January.

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.

Nature Awakens You

When You Feel Frozen

Hold space.

Let the deep stillness

Of December frozen over.

Move you to realms where

streams of clear

Still find their way

Beneath the stark reflection

Of reality.

The ice that spreads it’s face

Mirrors what is above it.

But light reflects from greater heights.

Shadows are mere mirages of

What surrounds you.

There is no shame in that.

For life flows true

Beneath the surface.

Do not forget that who you are

Is waiting for the spring time.

The stirring and the breakup

With the cold.

And always, truth emerges from your core

Grief

Lovely Ladies and A Fairy Garden

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I was surrounded by these lovely ladies on Kierra’s birthday. We had a sweet time together. Brenda brought a huge bouquet of flowers over in the morning for us since she couldn’t be there for the tea party.

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She is in our ‘small group’ at church and has a wonderful green thumb. Aren’t these yellow wild flowers just beautifully vibrant! She started them from Kierra’s seeds at the funeral.

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They look very much like that first lone wild flower I saw at the hospital the day Kierra entered our world, 4 years ago. Steve and I planted our flower she gifted us with at Kierra’s grave.

We ladies sat around Sadie’s wonderful dining room table and ate yummy sweet watermelon, fresh cucumbers with cream cheese and pepper jelly, and tiny cakes. We drank iced lattes and cried and talked and laughed.

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The little ones had a  party in the living room , while Alisha and Katrina watched that they didn’t spill and ran outside with them when they were finished.

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I had been dreading this first birthday without Kierra so much. It helped to have kind friends that cared about my heart and my loneliness and loved me through it. All through the joy of celebrating her happiness and freedom in heaven was the sad heaviness of the trauma she had to go through here on earth. That hurt more than anything. There is that hopeless feeling that a parent lives with when they watch their children suffer. Life is just so cruel at times. Even if God is always good, life itself is just SO. NOT. FAIR. to those we love.

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the greatest birthday gift we could have given Kierra this year, was Heaven. Once again, life doesn’t make sense. How can something that makes her so supremely, perfectly happy make us so incredible lonely and sad?

Highs and lows.

Mountains and valleys.

We cannot experience either of them fully without being willing to plunge into the other at sometime.

Christene and her sisters gave me the sweetest little pair of white dancing shoes for Kierra. They wanted to remind me that she is truly happy and dancing in heaven! Tears! I missed getting a photo of the shoes, but they truly ARE just darling!!! It blessed me so much.

I had come across these wonderful little fairy gardens on Pintrest one day awhile ago. Since our life has consisted of lots of moving, I thought it would be the PERFECT little bit of a Kierra memory. A garden so tiny, we could carry it with us over the years, and so lovely it would be like a dream come true to imagine strolling through it.The other ladies had other obligations, but Sadie and I went on a shopping spree to a nearby green house.

We had so much fun picking out adorable little chairs, and darling plants. Sadie had a big wooden bowl that we spray painted and filled with moist top soil.

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Isn’t this itty bitty plant just exquisite!!!!

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Kobe picked out a frog to add to it.

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He had the time of his life arranging and rearranging.

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We built a little patio with small rocks for the table and chairs.

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Of course there had to be a pool. Kierra would have LOVED that! Water always relaxed her.

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We’ve added a bit more since this photo. It looks even better now 🙂 but this at least gives you a picture of what it looks like. Just so sweet. Talk about more healing to my heart!

Sadie so kindly cooked supper for us that night and Steve came over after work to eat. It was wonderful food and we had a great time!

Afterward, Steve, Kobe, and I stooped at Kierra’s grave on the way home. We got this little girl to leave there as a reminder of  how supremely happy she is.

Kobe totally fell in love with her. He called her ‘Kierra’ and couldn’t stop hugging and kissing her.

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He wanted to hold her hand and sing songs to her.

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We sang happy Birthday to Kierra. I think it helped Kobe feel better…and maybe me too 🙂

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We couldn’t leave the little girl there since she wasn’t heavy enough to stand safely if a stray dog or big gust of wind came along, so we brought her home until we figure out a solution.

A few days later, a pink poppy bloomed from the wildflower seeds. Isn’t that just so sweet! I didn’t know there were pink poppies…maybe God  had a special selection of pink poppies planned for that seed package we got for Kierra’s little sachets.

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He truly WILL make ALL things beautiful…in His time!

I am hanging onto hope.

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