You are More Than What You Lost

We all have had trauma and loss in our lives. Sometimes our brains try to sort things out, and we need to be aware of what is going on. Other times, someone close to us, (especially children), need our help figuring it out.

It occurred to me recently that me losing my Mom 15 years ago isn’t just my loss. My girls never meeting their Mimi is a loss for them too. It seems so obvious to me now. However, they never really cried about it or expressed sadness unless they saw me being sad. You can’t miss what you never had, right?

Several years ago, Lauren told me she had a dream about Mom. In it, Mom was young and running around with dogs. At the time, I thought the dream was meant more as a comfort for me or maybe it was just a neat dream for Lauren to have.

Now I see that the dream is her brain’s way of dealing with a loss. She is still reconciling the stories I tell her about her Mimi with who she was as an actual person. This wasn’t just a character in a book but a flesh and blood piece of my little girl.

When we have birthday parties for Mom to celebrate her life, it is helping my girls. When I talk to them about who she was and what she liked, it is creating a picture for them. If they have questions for me, you better believe I answer them. Shutting a painful part of our story away is never a good long term solution. It will eventually come out.

You have had losses too. Your brain will keep trying to put pieces together like a big puzzle. Sometimes it may be difficult to see something as important if it is from the past. Or it may be too painful and you want to shut it down. After all, it isn’t happening now. Let it come out naturally in its time. Your growth and emotional well being depend on it.

Please don’t ever be afraid to ask for help in the healing process. Loss may be a natural part of life, but that doesn’t make it easy. There are people around you who love you and want to help. Let them. You have so much to offer and the world needs your perspective. Your experiences make you who you are. If you have reached a memory that is a stumbling block, find a way to hurdle it. You and your story are worth the effort.

Linking with Holley Gerth

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My Favorite Person

Tomorrow is our 14th wedding anniversary, and James and I will spend it in a three hour training class for future foster parents. You know, when I saw that date listed in the course, I smiled.

Over the span of our 17 years together, James and I have had many phases. We were early twenties, broke, college grads. We were poor newly weds. We were parents of young kids. We were middle class parents to two elementary school kids. Since moving into our house almost three years ago, our world has opened up to the phase we are about to start: future foster family with an extra room just waiting.

In all my life, there has never been another person I love spending time with as much as my husband. Maybe it is corny, but even just being next to James in this class is enough for me for our anniversary. It is a sign of our commitment to our family and any other kids that come into our lives. It isn’t romantic, but there will be plenty of time for romance another night.

Every relationship has layers built into it over time. We have several already into ours. There is heartache from unforeseen events and stressful years with no money and too many bills. There has been much joy as we have been raising our girls. Some years have been smoother than others. All of it is being weaved into a tapestry that will one day be beautiful in its rich entirety. As we begin this next layer, its texture and colors will stand out on their own.

The years we have been together have flown by, and I suspect they will begin to go even faster. As long as we hang on to each other, we will make it and have many stories to tell future generations. I can’t wait!

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Linking with Holley Gerth

One Decision Away

Our first class on the road to begin fostering children was this week. Each of these sessions is going to be intense, so it may be most of what I write about this month. They are packed with the highs and lows of what we will be experiencing.

Before we could start these training classes, our family had to fill out a big stack of paperwork and be approved. At the first class, we were handed an even bigger stack. Just to give an idea of how much we still have to do, the checklist itself is 3 pages long!

While discussing how invasive it is to us future foster families, the leaders reminded us that they have to do their due diligence. The birth parents that have to let someone else care for their children need to know we are safe and will do our best. I can’t even imagine having my girls taken from me for any reason.

What really stood out to me during the night is the perspective of the parents we will be working with. Sure, some of them will not get to have their kids come back and shouldn’t. I have been feeling horrible for just the kids involved, but the parents have it rough too. For some of them, life may have just gotten away from them. They may have made a bad choice and their regrets are not the only consequences. There may be repercussions in their lives for years to come. Bad decisions can haunt us all.

None of us is immune to making a bad choice. We need to get back to being a village and helping out when we can. Instead of judging the little we know of a situation or a person’s heart, we should choose to help them. Love their kids when they need it. Look past what they did to who they really are. We never know when we will need the love returned. It could be us that makes a bad decision next.

There is always good in someone if we look. Are we looking? And are we looking for ways to help them?

Linking with Holley Gerth

God is Still There

 

In the whisper of the wind, God is there.

In the middle of a hurricane, God is still there.

When your child is getting straight A’s, God is there.

When your child is getting bullied, God is still there.

During a peaceful time, God is there.

During a time of war, God is still there.

When a baby is born, God is there.

When a baby is stillborn, God is still there.

When your first book is loved by all, God is there.

When your next book is read by no one, God is still there.

If you have lots of friends you can count on, God is there.

If your one friend just moved away, God is still there.

If you have a job you love waking up to every day, God is there.

If you have been looking for a year and can’t find a job, God is still there.

When your marriage is rosy and communication is open, God is there.

When you long for a marriage that has never happened, God is still there.

During times of plenty, God is there.

During times of want, God is still there.

God is right there, where ever you are. He is waiting to hear from you!

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

 

How Often Do You Get Goofy?

If you are asking me this, the answer is frequently. Look, the world is sad and days are long, but life is too short to always be serious. If we can’t let loose occasionally, we are going to burn out.

My youngest daughter and I have had several chances to laugh until we cried recently. It felt so good to relax and not care what we looked and sounded like! I used a high pitched Mickey Mouse voice because it made us laugh every time. I face timed her from the next room and made faces at her. Neither of us could stop our laughter and we didn’t want to. Our days of school and work are long, and I feel the tension melt from my shoulders as I have a good belly laugh.

One of my coworkers is a fellow snorter. I got to hear her snort the other day and it made me laugh harder. We are moving around so much and tending to a group of kids all at once so having a kindred spirit to enjoy a joke with makes me forget the awkward conversation I may have had earlier in the day.

Don’t get me started about the content of my texts with my good friends! We love to laugh at each other’s lives and the crazy things our kids do and say. We try to find humor in the absurd that happens, and we still bring up memories from years past. Some nights we are just so tired that any chance of a filter is gone. Those are the great messages!

My favorite person in the world to be silly with is my husband. James and I are friends, which means I tell him everything he probably doesn’t want to know. We send each other texts that no one else would understand. Sarcasm is our love language some days. Other times, we sing at the top of our lungs or go back and forth making each other laugh harder. He helps me lighten up and see that everything will work out.

As the great Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Don’t let these moments pass you by in silence for fear of being judged. Laugh. Snort. Make silly faces. Sing off key. Speak with an accent. Pretend you’re a pirate for an hour. Tell a joke a 4 year old would love and own it. Two words: tickle fight. Run in the rain. Make up a dance on the spot.

If you need more ideas, you are on your own. You are only limited by how willing you are to look silly and have fun!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Just Jesus

The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:18-27)

I can’t explain why atrocious things happen here on earth. I can’t understand the evil in man’s heart. But I can focus on my future home in heaven, a place which will blow my mind when I get there. There will be beauty beyond what we can fathom here, but more importantly, there will be Jesus. Just His presence alone will light the whole place. There will be no more sadness, grief, tears, confusion, depression, loneliness, or pain. Just Jesus. He is all we need here and all we will need there.

While I focus on the splendor of heaven, I must also try to get as many people to know Jesus as I can. That is why I am here, why God has left us on earth as long as He has. He wants our excitement for His presence to be so contagious, that people trade in a hopeless life for one that is full of hope. We are here to get the lost people around us to long for heaven. They need Jesus. Just Jesus.

This world needs Jesus.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Another Birthday in Heaven

Yesterday would have been my Mom’s 70th birthday, if she hadn’t gone to heaven 15 years ago. All these years later, I wonder what she would be like now. I think about what kind of mother-in-law she would have been and about how much she would have loved her grand children. But I can’t live for what can’t happen and for the way life didn’t turn out.

Our family is now in our seventh year of celebrating Mom’s birthday. Instead of mourning the fact that she isn’t with us anymore, we celebrate that she lived a beautiful life. Our party has evolved over the years to cake, handmade cards, and releasing balloons to heaven. The girls have loved it every year, which makes me look forward to it.

This year has been different. A week or two before this past Mother’s Day, I was in the store looking to buy 4 Mother’s Day cards. The fact that I have so many wonderful family members and friends to help guide the girls and I is never lost on me. I am truly blessed. But this time as I looked at the cards for mothers and mother figures, a profound sense of loss came over me. It took my breath away in the middle of the grocery store and I had to leave. This kind of sadness hadn’t happened to me in several years.

The last few months have also found me missing Mom more. Our future fostering plans are ones I would love her input on. My scary health issues are ones she would definitely understand. Milestones the girls go through make me want to call her until I realize I can’t. It has been enough to make me ugly cry.

This year, more than other years, I have realized that grief is not linear. There is never a time you are over it. It comes in waves and can seem to come out of nowhere. Just when you think you are better and past it, a fresh thought or memory or situation can send you back to where you came from. The good thing is that at this point, you know you can get through it. When grief first hits, you wonder how you will ever go on. Then days and months pass, and you are living still. Life may be different, but there is still air in your lungs and your heart beats in your chest.

So, even though I didn’t feel like celebrating last night as much as I usually do, we had our little party. First up was the cake. The girls reenacted the picture I took of them from the first party, six years ago. They are still cute!

 

Then we took the balloons outside and set them free. No matter how many times we have done this, it still makes me happy to dream that they get to her in heaven. I can picture the delight on her face when these balloons arrive from her family!

 

The girls made cards too. It was a fun little party that did my heart good. Getting out of the depths and forcing myself to smile led to actual smiling. If this idea sounds like something that might help ease your sadness even a little, I urge you to try it. Cake and balloons do wonders!

Linking with Holley Gerth