Friday, January 31, 2014

Do angels have shovels; Guilty as charged.

Yesterday I sat outside Paisley's dance class listening to a conversation between two moms who do not know me, my life, or my story. Completely unaware of the words coming out of their mouths with me sitting a couple feet away floods of guilt covered my soul once again.

I don't even know who they were talking ab but their story resolved with the tough decisions at the sudden end of a life. The moments of deciding that's all their loved one could take, that's all they could take or allow their family to bear. The decisions to have family there or not. The decisions that come flying in your face faster than life could possibly prepare you for. Things that get dealt to you that seem so far beyond your means... Too fast to brace yourself for the fall. The frantic calls, the anxious breaths. I could feel it in my lungs again as I heard the unassuming words seep from their lips.  I heard sniffling. And I feel the wailing deep in my loins.

The guilt of each move I made that night attempts to haunt me.   Will it ever not?

I've sworn to myself I will write in detail every single thing I remember about that night. Every time I try I fail and curl up in a ball. Just as I did that night.

I know that I know that I know God is sovereign and powerful and in control far beyond anything I will possibly hear, see or learn in this life, but does that ever prevent us from seeking some sort of revelation or asking the hard questions to our grieving, guilt-filled hearts?  Will it ever satisfy?

As they continued to talk, a pregnant woman sat just seats over from me with her hand sweetly resting on her belly. A baby sat on the floor gazing at his mother and the moments of that night flash before the eyes of my soul. Moments I long to remember each detail of-  the shape of his face and scent of his skin... but how so selfishly I wish I could permanently erase it from time. Moments I hope to never re-live but some how pray I don't loose what they have sewn in the depths of me.

This week I mentioned guilt to a friend and she stopped me and said, "What do you mean, you deal with guilt??"  It seems easy to me too. If only it weren't my story. Of course it wasn't my fault. Doctors told me over and over nothing I could ever possibly have done caused the problems he had.  Nothing I could have done could change how things progressed or how things ran their life was slowly ripped from his grip. 

But do I believe that?  If it were only that easy.  This is the rub.

As a mother you long for, strive for, fight tooth and nail for your child. To protect them, to guard them, to nurture them. They take one step off the sidewalk- you jump with all your might. They get a cold- you worry what you exposed them to. They have an accident and you think of all the ways you could have prevented it.

The weeks after Gibson's death this indescribable guilt washed over me in waves.  Maybe more like a tsunami. I never saw it coming, never heard the quake and suddenly I was drowning in it. What did I do wrong?  What did I do during my pregnancy?  What did I do to deliver early?  How did I cause all the problems?  What decisions of the thousands I made regarding his care were wrong?  What more could I have done?

That night. That awful night.
Was I wrong to guard the hearts of the ones I loved, the ones that so loved him?  Was I wrong to want to run away?  Such fast and hard decisions we had to make while our hearts were in a state of shock.  Did we make the right choices?  

And then in the months following a new guilt rolled in...
Last weekend I was sick with the stomach bug and I got caught up on my favorite show Downton.  During this awful episode there was a quote that cut me to the core.  Isobel Crawley, Mathews mother, said this, 
"But you see I have this feeling that when I laugh or read a book or hum a tune it means that I've forgotten him for just a moment.  And it's that that I can't bear."

That's the guilt of it.  We move on and lives move on but with that comes guilt.  Daniel's birthday is tomorrow.  Last year he turned 30 and I wanted to celebrate.  It seemed weird to be able to celebrate anything 2 months after life had stood still.  Love, laughter, friends and life filled the lonely grief-stricken walls of our house and it was reviving, yet followed with a tinge of guilt.  For a while every good moment was such a blessing and such a confusing ball of tightly wound guilt

The guilt of enjoying life with these sweet ones I've been entrusted with but longing to be with the one gone before...

Usually people struggle with guilt from a sin.  So what if it is not from a sin?  Can guilt itself be a sin?  I wouldn't go that far.  But I would firmly say that it can lead to destruction.

Psalms 103:2-4, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;"

I repeat those words in my head.  His plans are to prosper and not to harm me... I am to walk in full knowledge of and with Christ, it is for freedom Christ has set me free, old things passed away... all things new...  

Philippines 3:13, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."

This morning on the way to school Ryder and I had a funny conversation which I briefly referenced on Facebook.  His timing is (per normal) priceless.  And the whole way home I was dying inside with thoughts of the various things he could have walked in and told his teacher...

He says out of no where, "Mommy, turn the music down (here we go...)" 
"Do angels have shovels?"

(UMMMM. What?!?)  More calmly than that I ask what he meant as we are literally 45 seconds from pulling into the school.

"You know, to take the bodies to heaven," he says very nonchalant.

We continue in the rapid conversation of souls, new bodies - new HEALED bodies like Gibson has.  I mention that bodies are just the earthly dwellings, they can be put in the ground... the ocean... He hops out of the car and I'm stumbling over my words, retracting the ocean comment knowing he has no clue what that means and thinking of all the things that could come from that!  
He kisses me and says bye.  Unfazed.  With sweet belief he skips down the sidewalk.

This guilt & grief stricken world is not my home.  Heaven is near.  And that's the glory of it all.  Ryder's sweet faith-filled, believing heart is the relief from guilt and questioning for today.  Thank you God for answering me each day in new ways...

2 Corinthians ...we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come....

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kickball & Hobby Lobby

I had big (kinda) goals for this week. 
If you read my last blog you know I was planning, setting a positive outlook, going into the new year counting blessings (in the voice of Gru from Despicable Me... Goodnight Sleep tight, blah blah blah... blah blah...)
So this week didn't exactly go like that. Figures.
Ever been dead legged? Got the wind knocked out of you?

I have a vivid memory in elementary school of playing kickball on the big asphalt circle. A few things come to mind... One, although I couldn't run (previously mentioned on blog!) I could however kick that kick ball- because let's be honest if you can just make contact with the huge round empty ball you can kick it pretty far, making every non-athletic 10 year old feel like a rockstar. That's the beauty of it.  My other memory of kickball was my friend Candace's perm. She had beatiful blonde ombré hair -before that was even a thing, and the most magnificent perm I'd ever seen. (It was the 90s people!)  It was a Monday and she'd had the perm done over the weekend. She was explaining how they did it, how long it took & how it smelled while all us girls stood awestruck. I wanted one. I can now firmly blame my curly hair on her because a couple years later I got that long awaited perm.  However my long brown hair ended up looking like Kenny G and NEVER went to straight again. Totally serious. 
So there we were standing around gazing at her golden locks when suddenly I was jolted back to the reality of the kickball game with one flying ball straight to the gut. It knocked the air completely out of me.  

That's kinda how I felt this week - I was gazing into the new year and more like a few flying balls all in a row knocked the air out of me. Life got messy... ugly.  It knocked the thankfulness right out of me.  

Sunday I prepped meals & lunches.  Monday I wrote thankyou notes & filled up my fancy new little planner.  I started my new devotional all dreamy eyed and full of faith.  I started a couple new party jobs and scheduled when I'd work out 5 days this week and {fantasized} how I wouldn't eat sugar.  None (I repeat, none) of that worked out so well... Plans got messed up, goals got interrupted.  Life around me snapped, things got ugly. Things pounded down on my soul just like the erratic weather on our house progress!  Ryder (and half his class) got strep.  I didnt get to do what I wanted (whah!)  And I chose anger instead of gratitude. 

And then I went to hobby lobby.
I've mentioned before how I frequent HL. In fact it's gotten so bad that autocorrect on my phone changes JK (as in just kidding) to HL for Hobby Lobby.  For Real.  I know hobby lobby is a good company with good morals (again blah blah blah...) but their workers couldn't give a rip and are unhappy, unhelpful & rude pretty much all the time.  Except the fabric ladies. After 5 years of going to the same store I've finally woed them into at least a pleasant exchange of words each visit. I'm certain they know I really can't sew and I'm mainly bothering them for fabric I'm gonna glue, wrap or drape on something. Nonetheless they are sweet to me now. So I went in and saw Lois a sweet gray haired lady in her 70s. She's got just enough southern sap to deal with most people but just enough edge to scare off unwanted customers and keep me in the know of how to work the Hobby Lobby system.  So I smile and ask how her Christmas was. Her demeanor shifted. Not so good she said. She went on to tell me how her 50 year old son had a third heart attack and had been in a comma for 3 weeks, with little brain activity, expected not to ever come out of it.  {gulp}
She told me how she'd spent 2 weeks by his bedside in Houston and there she was... back cutting my super important fabric.  I was jolted back to the days I couldn't be by that hospital bedside and how my mind was constantly racing and consumed elsewhere. 
I asked her what his name was and told her I would pray for him. That I was SO sorry. (The BEST thing you can say to prevent saying something stupid in this situation!!!) and I told her to hold on to hope.  She said she knew all she could do was pray.  And then she said she knew I understood grief & loss & she couldn't imagine & began to tear up...

There I was. THAT was my New Years goal. To just be. When God wanted me to be- just be. What was important in the course of eternity?  Not any of my other futile plans (or changes there of) this week.  No, those didn't matter.  But that sweet little lady cutting my insignificant fabric on this mundane morning needed to hear little ol' me say that there is hope & God is good. 

Because there is.  And He is.

To bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice our understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for everything because HE is benevolent.  -Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Graces ::: 2014 Goals

We saw much grace in 2013...
more than I could ever have imagined.  

We faced the year head-on knowing there would be many tough days and now I can look back and say "You know what?  We had a surprisingly great year."

So I thought I'd do a recap of some of the many graces we saw this year.  
Daniel and I started the year with a trip away full of rejuvenation & healing.  We purposed in our hearts we were going to focus on our kids, try new things and pouring into the people who'd poured into us for the past year.   

::: we discovered more and more of the love of Christ :::
More than I know how to possibly express.  
I've talked about it a lot on here, but there's really no way to explain the nearness we've felt to God this year.  God is real, heaven is near and some how this whole story has taken us there.

::: we went deeper with friends & community :::
Best thing ever.  I love our friends so much.  Our community group has been so great.  Our church has been amazing.  My girlfriends started the year somehow knowing what I needed before I knew myself.  There were bad days where they cried with me, there were days they spurred me on, & there were days they celebrated the good with me.  I am one thankful girl.

::: i discovered a love for a few new things - painting, running & writing :::
I may never be an expert or even good at any of these but God has brought me great purpose and      used all 3 as extreme therapy!

::: ryder played tball :::

::: paisley started dance - and loves it :::

::: our bills were PAID :::

Yes, that's right.  All of G's hospital bills got paid.  We will never EVER be able to truly express our gratitude to all who so selflessly  & lovingly gave and made this happen.  People gave and gave and gave...  And they ALL. GOT. PAID!  And somehow (by the grace of God) the largest bill that we were being charged as an "out-of-network" charge which would have added almost 30k to our already mounting bills was pardoned.  All the sweet lady at Dell said to me on the phone that day was, "I've spoken to 'some people,'  you will not be charged over what your insurance has paid for this one.  Hope y'all are doing ok..."  I really didn't believe it and thought for sure I'd receive another bill soon.  To this day I get a knot in my stomach when I receive the mail!  But we are so happy to say they're PAID.  

::: we went on a safari :::

::: we celebrated 10 years of marriage :::
And I can say I'm more in love than ever after watching my husband stand like a ROCK for us this year.

::: we celebrated G's birthday :::
yes, celebrated.  it was bittersweet but it was again, more than I could have imagined. 

::: ryder started kindergarten :::

::: sold our house :::
So we got a wild hair and sold our house.  Wasn't exactly what we saw coming either! 

::: started building a house!!! :::
Again, wasn't exactly what we saw coming, but we're oh so excited for what's to come. 

::: moved in with friends :::
Yep, that's what we're doing!
(we have pretty great friends!)

::: daniel got a new job! :::

::: God has brought us purpose :::
Our story is our story.  And God has continued to give me purpose in that mystery.  I've shared it in multiple ways this year only by His grace.

So it's been a pretty great year.

2014 GOALS...

::: live more simply :::
I know, I know I just spent the whole day shopping at Dillards!  But seriously, after packing everything we own to go in storage I really just want to live more simply!!!  That means different things for every person, but this year I hope to discover what it means for us.  I bought a planner today.  Yes, an old school paper planner.  I want to write things down. I want to use my phone less. (GASP!)  I want to be present.  It's a re-programming I think.

::: let go of the heavy and just be :::
What does this mean in the course of eternity?  Or even the course of this year. I want to do what's important and let go of the rest.  I feel like we just touched the tip of the iceberg this year.  
The other night Paisley was putting a little nativity puzzle together.  She's probably put it together 10 times in the past couple weeks.  But I laid on the floor and watched her and was amazed at how fast she did it and how smart she was.  How could I have missed this?  Was I on my phone?  Was I focused on something more important?  I have lots of dreams for my kids and for myself.  Time to stop dreaming and do the little things that we can each day in the direction of our dreams and let go of the rest. 
(My goals are to pursue my business/brand more and write... as in a book.  Did I just put that out there!?!)

::: counting blessings :::
A few years ago I read One Thousand Gifts for the first time, having no idea how much I'd need it in the coming days.  Last week I bought the devotional because I need to be reminded going into 2014.  Somehow it's easier to see the little blessings on the bleak days.  Last year I was grasping for blessings at every turn to help get me through.  
The other night while my parents were putting up Christmas my dad stepped outside and called my mom & I out to look at the stars.  They were so bright and clear.  You could see them everywhere.  I thought about it later... You see the thing is the stars were always there.  We just couldn't see them in the city light.  For us God's light has shown brightest in our darkness.  But I want to see(k) him the same in the blessings.  

So here's to a new year, of new starts and new blessings to be counted...