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.

Nature Awakens You

It’s OK To Cry Right Now

She cried because all the chairs were stacked and her favorite coffee house looked stark and unfriendly.

She cried because the tables that held friendship and hand holds and side hugs and steaming cups of coffee were silent and empty.

She cried because her shopping consisted of running in and out and extra hand sanitizer and constant awareness of what she touched and choosing the minimal amount of products with the minimal amount of money but at the same time wondered if this was enough food for the possible shut down coming.

She cried at the empty park and the silent soccer fields.

She cried because they needed kitchen chairs but new ones were too expensive and used ones were too risky to pick up.

She cried because she felt helpless and that made her feel needy and that made her feel tired.

She cried because her already tired mind had to weigh so many new choices. To sanitize the door handle or not? To hit the drive through or go into the store for food? To wash her hands religiously and often even if she hadn’t left the house for 48 hours? To sanitize all mail and groceries or to be careful and call it good? Was her shopping list legit or should she try to make something out of tomato paste and frozen blueberries and a cup of flour?

She cried because her sons birthday gift would not come for a month because it wasn’t considered essential online.

She cried because some people were paranoid and some people were naive and some people were stupid.

She cried because the church buildings were empty. The school grounds silent. The storefronts posted with covid_19 closure papers.

She cried because the lady in the drive through was so kind and sweet and cheerful that it made her feel loved and seen and heard.

She cried because children were suffering with no one to hear them. Lives were being taken out of desperate loss of hope.

She cried because her kids were fighting again and it felt like a reflection on her motherhood.

She cried because the sunshine illuminated her succulent with golden pink and it made her feel poetic

Friends, we all break sometimes. No matter if we trust God or not. And that’s ok. We don’t have to be brave every second of every day.

I hear your cry. I see your pain.

I took a drive beside the river on a frosty morning when nature was at peace with hoarfrost and sunshine. A deep understanding stirred inside me.

All of nature was simply LIVING. Inviting humans to do the same. Reaching out beauty and grace. Inviting . Come play with me. Sit with me. Feel the connection of earth and matter and sunshine and wind. Reflect on water and listen to the wild goose quest.

We are more related then you know. Cut from the same dust. Returning to the same dust. Living RIGHT now. In this reality.

Friend, hold this moment in time gentle and holy. This beautiful moment as a light in your hands.

That’s what matters most.

Perhaps what felt like death to normal was actually life stirring in dormant places. Bringing collective love and strength to individuals. Showing up in texts and online chats and coffee dates in the back of vans. In food drops and recipe swaps and care snail mail. In face masks and empathy and acceptance. In prayers to Heaven. In Children being rescued.

In realizing the vulnerable, weak, ugly parts of our own hearts. In finding grace. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Hope .

In finding beauty in loving well and living intentionally.

In seeing that mankind is not all corrupt and that truth and justice will win. Even after hundreds of years.

In knowing. That the best is yet to come.

Finding Yourself

When Comparison and Covid Strike

I feel like I’m floundering right now. Not only has our world turned into a germ house of fear but life in general has me wondering what in Creation I’m doing and where I’m headed.

I don’t know what all you’ve been facing personally over the past few weeks but I’m sure it’s not at all what you thought your March would look like.

I’m struggling to make sense of it all just the same as everyone else.

I’m also realizing that as an introvert, my life has not been totally turned upside down AND I have a legitimate excuse for staying home and doing things I love. I also realize how much it means to be included in other’s lives and how we need each other!

At the same time, my family and I are moving into a fixer upper that is not totally finished. One we’ve been working on for months. I feel like I’ve lived in dust and painted hair and hands and work clothes all 2020. Through a series of events, we have had a rather unusual and often crazy past year in life and just this weekend, when everyone was posting pictures of home creations and quality time and toilet paper, I was trying to find my way through piles of boxes, weary to the bone form hauling totes and belongings and keeping up with a two year old, misplacing everything and making sure no one in our small family starved but DID take their probiotics.

It feels so very very good to have a house again after selling ours last spring and living in a camper and house sitting for the past (almost) year. While both those options were valuable experiences and a good fit for the present, there is nothing quite like having your own spaces and rooms and knowing that your kids won’t wake the neighbors at 4:30 AM or spill food on carpets or break things that aren’t yours.

Change can make anybody feel vulnerable and the threat of sickness and financial issues and unknown futures can cause stress to shoot through the roof!

If you are feeling alone or distant or just plain lonely right now, please know that you really truly are not alone no matter how trite that may sound.

You’re value is not based on your performance or how smoothly you’re homeschooling is going or how brave a face you are putting on. Life is just plain HARD sometimes and comparing yourself with others …nope! Don’t go there.

I don’t know if you are anything like me…but I love to surround myself with people who are better at things then I am. Ladies I admire. Powerful strong ladies who know who they are and what they have to share with the world. Ladies who have a voice and use it to build others up and bring awareness and peace and empowerment to others.

Here’s the deal though. I can feel super intimidated by people I admire. I can pull out my comparison cards in two blinks of an eye and before I know it, I’m wallowing in self thoughts that are literally tearing me down.

It’s what I call self sabotaging at its finest.

Part of my journey has been learning to accept my past and present and embracing the fact that I have self worth.

Being flexible is important in life. Being a puppet is not. I have danced to others ideas in so many ways but even more destructive is the inner critic that is my own voice, tearing myself down.

Right now, when there is extra stress and all the world is thrown a bit off balance, it’s even easier to find ourselves, as humans, groping for a normal and questioning everything including who we are and what we are doing right this moment and for what purpose. It’s easy to judge ourselves harshly, judge our kids and those we love most, and allow the whole tide of comparison to rush in and take our breathe away.

Ground yourself friend.

Know that you are an incredible human with incredible strength.

Your life. Your quarantine. Your kids. None of these will look like every one else’s . It may, in fact look like no one you know. But that doesn’t mean you are weak or weird or less then.

Embrace the hard and the easy and know that nothing lasts forever. That change is good. That growth happens and that you don’t have to look or act or do like everyone else in order to have worth or be accepted.

It’s ok to feel confused and a little teary and emotionally off balance. It’s ok to need to sleep a bit more or eat some comfort food and wrap yourself in a big hug.

Stay home and love your family. Love the Divine. But don’t forget to love yourself also. Love who you are becoming. Love that you get to live in this story that will become history. Love that you can make a difference simply in being a good human. Love the YOU that is living and breathing and moving right now. And let that acceptance and love overflow into those right beside you today!

We won’t let coronavirus take our confidence. We are not in control of anything in life except ourselves and that’s the part that we can do well…no matter what comes our way!!

Finding Yourself

Finding Calm in Chaos

Have you felt out of control of your emotions or reactions to situations? Do you think “if only they would __________ I could handle this so much better.”

Do you wish you could stop the thoughts parading through your mind or change the knee jerk instinctive reactions to situations out of your control?

It’s not impossible my friend! I’ve been a mom for nearly a decade. If anything brings you to the end of your patience and self control it’s working with humans 24/7. That’s mom life. Beautiful, exhausting, messy, life.

I’ve struggled more then I want to admit with my reactions. I think we all have our own unique way of responding to stress or discomfort in our lives.

Yelling, being overly critical, self hatred, shaming, being passive aggressive, hitting, leaving, shutting down. We all have ways our body automatically WANTS to respond.

We CAN have control over these reactions. We CAN’T normally control the circumstances we find ourselves in. It’s not my kid’s responsibility to stop crying because it’s uncomfortable for me or my husbands responsibility to help me more because I feel alone.

Let’s just STOP 🛑 laying blame on our circumstances and hoping for better outcomes.

Hear my heart. I’m NOT saying to stay in abusive or dangerous circumstances.

I AM asking if I may challenge you to start working on the deep roots and the core issues that are triggering these helpless, hopeless feeling that explode in reactions in our bodies and often onto those we love the most.

Before I go farther, I want to credit Dr. Caroline Leaf for decades of research in the brain and the empowerment and knowledge she has shared with countless people!

I’ve been doing her 21 Day Brain Detox and am on my 3rd cycle of 21 days. My life is literally changing because of it.

Here are some of the things that are working for me that are specific to her coaching as well as things that I’ve discovered over the years through other research. I don’t take credit for them. I do love to share what’s working for me!

• Get enough sleep. If you can’t sleep, then at least rest. Resting your body is vital to managing your brain and emotions. I’m talking a MINIMUM of 8 hours a night.

• Drink water. Eat well. You don’t have to go extreme. Just make good, healthy choices and take well researched clean supplements.

• Become an observer. Observe yourself in hard situations. Pretend you are viewing yourself from a distance. You will be amazed at what you see when you remove your emotions from a situation and observe yourself as an onlooker. Of course you don’t want to stay up on that observation deck forever! Just get far enough away to took at your reactions logically then come back and give yourself and hug and make some changes.

• Ask yourself questions. A lot of questions.

Why? Why am I angry at my toddler?

Because he won’t stop yelling.

(Note that this is YOUR inquisition…not your toddlers)

Why does that bother me? Because it’s loud and it makes me uncomfortable.

Why? Because I didn’t get much sleep last night and I’m tired and hungry and I’m bending over backwards here to fix things and they won’t be fixed and isn’t yelling bad behavior?

Tada!! Now I’m getting somewhere! I’ve learned some things about myself.

I’m tired and hungry.

I feel unappreciated.

I feel like yelling is not acceptable and reflects that I am a bad mom.

Onward girl!!!

Now comes the crunch.

What are you going to do about it?

That’s up to you.

For myself?

Get a drink. Eat something with protein and hopefully something flavorful and fresh.

Remember that my child is not here to please me or perform for me. I am here for them. I am here to help them navigate big feelings and support them in using their voice in respectful, healthy ways.

I am a loving, powerful, good mom!

It’s not always easy to ask these questions in the moment so I like to take note of when I feel upset and then go back later and break it down a bit and try to find a solution to the problem. I need to find the core of the issue in my own life before I can hope to successfully manage my own emotions.

• Contemplate instead of ruminate. When we let negative or stressful thoughts run through our head all day like a steady back ground sound track, we are destroying our brains!

The thoughts we give energy to will create strong patterns in our brains. It’s much more helpful to plan a time to sit or walk or run and give your mind specific permission to think (contemplate) on the issue that is bothering you. Then set it aside and go on with positive thinking.

• Feel the pain. Feel the hurt. Then release it and find a new way of thinking of it.

• Give yourself a lot of affirmation and hugs. Tell yourself how strong you are. How powerful your mind is and how you are changing generations through your own change.

• Take note of when you are extra anxious or triggered and find the warning signals that you are on a downward spiral. Decide right then and there to change the outcome. Being aware of your physical and mental feelings is HUGE in gaining control of your mind and reactions.

•Take it slowly. This is a marathon. Not a sprint. It has taken us years to build our mind patterns and it will take a lot of hard work and dedication and the desire to change in order to succeed. Every day you work on your own issues is a step forward!! You don’t need to get it perfect. You just need to keep making positive , thoughtful choices.

• Take time for soul care. Having time to write, think, read, be in nature, worship, or do a fun project are vital for me. Unplug and reset.

•Take a hot shower or bath. Wash your hair. Or put on your makeup. Go work out at the gym. Walk around the block. Whatever it takes to make you feel fresh again. I personally go for a quick shower and hair wash. I try to let my ugly feelings go down the drain and start all over. There’s no shame in making repairs and moving on.

I’ve found that working on myself is vital to changing the whole way my life goes down around me. I can’t change my circumstances or the people around me but I can change my own inner world. I can change my mind and my brain and that changes my biology. It changes my attitude, my health, my immune system and my DNA.

Yes! Our Creator made us THAT powerful. He also didn’t abandon us to try to do this on our own. He sent His Spirit to live in us. Hold us. Teach us. Lead us. Empower us. Comfort us.

We are not hopeless and we are not alone. We are not a diagnose. We are not a number.

Our stories matter. Our life matters.

Step into your power and LIVE!

If you have a favorite thing to calm yourself down or even reset your day, I’d love to hear about it!!!

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.

Mom Life

The Family I Want To Be

It’s a place to come home to. A love that engulfs. The familiar comfortable bindings from years of growing and learning and laughing and hard times. The forgiveness for mistakes and misunderstandings. It’s what makes family special and loved and irreplaceable. It’s what makes us homesick for Heaven and that destination that will actually and truly resonate with our inner most being and we will know we are actually, truly, forever HOME with our Father, and the family of saints.

We took a quick trip to West Virginia last weekend for my cousin’s wedding. I hadn’t seen most of my cousins in a very long time, so I was very excited. It made it even more wonderful to visit the old ‘stomping grounds’ of my girlhood best friend, and “partner in crime”. That old farm-house is literally saturated with memories. From totally embarrassing to hysterically funny to  teenage heart breaks. I could write a whole series of books on our stupendous and epic moments. Maybe another day I will begin that project 🙂

Now we  are supposedly ‘all grown up’ with husbands and little girls and  boys with happy or sad faces 🙂

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Our girls are actually close in age, and just like us, they can wear each others dresses and hair bows.

Carly wore Kierra’s dress and we watched her quietly as she scooted all over the house on a trike, munching an apple.

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Isn’t she just beautiful!  My heart was all mixed up watching her. Thinking of how Kierra would  look doing the same things she did.  It was special. sweet. inspiring. and heartbreaking all together.

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Two adorable little girls. Two totally different paths in life. Two mommys that love them fiercely  and tenderly and wholly. Isn’t life just incredible?

Aunt Betty held Kierra for a long while. They got along very well 🙂

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Everyone needs an Aunt Betty. She’s got a kind, thoughtful lovely heart that reaches out and makes you feel comfortable in your own skin…whatever type of ‘skin’ that is in life at the moment 🙂

The wedding day was lovely and the happy couple literally beaming with love and hopes and dreams.

The day after the wedding, we slept as late as our children did 🙂 then we ate steaming delicately crisp waffles smothered  in favorite toppings, mine being peanut butter and syrup. (See, I still have part of that little girl in me somewhere 🙂

It was so refreshing to see happy faces and brave smiles and family warmth. To feel  that we are loved and cared for. No matter what comes our way in life. That’s how family is meant to be. That’s the kind of family I want to raise. The kind of person I want to be.

Love your family  today. They really do need it. And so do you!