Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Learning to be real.

May you be filled with Joy today.  May your heart explode with thanksgiving.

I want to admit that I tend to live a few years down the road from where I am right now.  I have always been a dreamer and I forget to exist in daily reality.  Instead I keep my dreams as fond pictures of the life I want to live.  
While knowing where you want to go is vitally important to having a road map for success, it is not necessary to live as if those dreams have already come true.

If you tend to look behind you with rose colored glasses, perhaps you should check your daily thought process.  The last three years have been a giant deviation from what I thought our plan/dreams were.  I have trudged through, just waiting for the time comes to get back to family.  Waiting to return to real life.  

I have missed out on so much of our giant adventure, because I was stuck in regretting where we weren't.

I am incredibly grateful for what the last few years of our life have been.

I have walked with my children under the dripping leaves of a towering redwood.
I have set sail on the coolness of the sea and enjoyed the spray in my face.
I have wept from the depth of loneliness with only my husband's arms to hold me.
I have walked down wind blown city streets.
I have made friends with anyone who looks too long in my direction.
I have become far too comfortable with myself.
I have not worried if my house is clean.
I have been too close to seals and felt the spray from their backs as they rule their pier. 
I have clocked hours at the Santa Cruz boardwalk as my children run wildly through the sand.
I have learned to be okay in every situation and open myself, despite my fears.
I have watched my family grow as a solid unit.

I can look back and see how far we have come.  I can see how much farther we have to go.  I do not have it all figured out.  My life is not what I 'want' it to be.  I am, however, exceedingly grateful to be a part of this journey.  I love that I have been rid of my comfort zone and been placed in difficult and trying times that I may more fully make use of the resources which I have been given.

Today.  I hope you find things in your life which fill you with joy.  I hope you take a minute to be in a moment.  To feel it, to sense it, to be thankful for your breath, your friends, the weather, the beauty of what surrounds you.  Everything is fleeting.  There is nothing we can fully hold on to.  It will always be slipping from us.  

You will not one day have all you dreamt and 'arrive'.  Our lives are filled with all of the little things that make us 'real'.  

I hope you enjoy your moments, your day.  

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Peaceful Life


I have come to give you life and that more abundant.

God has never promised me an easy life.

I struggle with fears and when I go to God with them, usually I don't get the answer that I am hoping.  Such as 'don't worry, everything will be okay'.

Instead there is this peace.  This circling of truth.  "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

I am not promised that people will not fail me, that pain will never come, that life will be safe and easy.

In fact just the opposite.

In this life you will have tribulation, but!  Be of good cheer.  I have OVERCOME the world.

We Christians often cling to the word, "Your burden will be easy, your yoke light".

And yet we have been promised that things will be hard, that we are foreigners, that we are different, that there will be sufferings, and persecutions.

In the middle of this we are told not to worry, we are told not to strive, not to fear, to rest and be of good cheer.

My very being struggles against this, I desperately call out for the peace and ease of an abundant life.

The nature of worship is to look outside of ourselves and with everything in us glorify another.  Our full body reacts, our hearts explode, our beings give honor and praise.

In the middle of pain, in the middle of terror, in the middle of heartache, he has prepared a table before us.  When we are rejected and reviled he has called us to a place of peace, to sit and eat.

Loving Jesus does not come as a safety blanket.  It comes as a heart promised pain and in the pain, peace.  In that pain, rest.  In that pain, joy.

I worship him, not for what I long for, but for what he is.  The fullness of glory, the holiness of his nature.  His goodness.

So often we cling to God's goodness and believe that it means we will never experience the hardships of life.  Rather his goodness carries us through.  His mercy sustains when we have lost everything and are face down and broken.

His yoke is easy and his burden is light, because we are yoked to him.  If we try to pull ahead, carry it on our own, it will break and destroy us.  The only way to walk in this life is letting the Great I AM pull the weight.  I like to picture myself leaning against him, resting into him as he keeps us moving forward.

I simply am not strong enough to shoulder the heaviness of this life.  I don't have the ability to weather the storms that have come and will continue to blow through.

I must live heaven minded.  Keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.

The promise is that he will walk with me and carry me through the storms of this life.  He will sustain me.  He calms the storms and stills the waves.  He is the Prince of Peace.

I hope this makes sense.  It is the place of my heart, my thought process right now.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living, After.


The last three weeks have been a whirlwind.  I cannot, at this moment, decide what is up or down.  There are few things that can blow a giant hole through your plans, your take on life, your visions, or direction, than death.  I am still shell shocked from the blow.  I simply sit and stare.  I could move on, life can go back to normal, but I'm changed.  I am completely altered.

We left for vacation the day I got back from my sisters, the day after the funeral.  I went from days of sitting, grieving, processing, to a sudden halt.  I had to be happy.  People get uncomfortable when you talk about sad things.  I learned this quickly and tried very hard to keep from sharing this giant loss.  Sometimes, it would spill out.  Sometimes, I would just cry.

I was in shoe store and was trying to find shoe's for my daughter.  I pointed to a pair, she told me they were 'baby Clair' shoes.  It made me cry.  She then screamed through the store, 'Daddy!  Mommy's crying, you better come help her."

Processing grief is unique to each person.  I remember when we buried Clair and I was walking from the funeral.  It felt over.  Like a big sigh after holding breath for too long.  My heart ached as I realized, it wasn't finished for me.  She may be buried, but the loss still feels huge.  I miss the child I longed for.  The niece I couldn't wait to hold.  The one who held my desire for another baby at bay.

My daughter is holding tight to baby Clair.  We are walking through our grief.  It's aching and hard.  We miss what wasn't.  We're sad.

The week I sat with my sister.  The week we drank coffee.  The week we worked through all of the emotional, personal issues that blew up in each of our hearts.  The week we laughed and cried.  The week we spent anguishing.  The week cousins played wildly, barely supervised.  The week we ate a lot of soup.  The week our lives changed.  The week we woke every morning to the reality of loss.  The week we said goodbye to one of our own.  My sister would sit, tears streaming down her cheeks, 'It's just so sad,' she would say.  Over and over.  The sadness of our loss was so present.  It still is.  It will be a long time before the ache abates.  For now, there is grief for what should have been.  For the gaping hole.  The room that was created in each heart, that was never filled with memories.

I am returning to routine.  Slowly, and a little bit cautious.  Life will resume it's day to day.  This will become a memory.  Sadness will give way to an eager expectation of heaven.  But, for now, as I sit quiet in my house.  I can let the tears fall.   Everything is different.  As much as people hate to hear this, life will simply never be the same.  When there is trauma or joy, it rips or adds to your world.  When a life is birthed, everything is different, when it is lost, everything is different.  It's okay to make room and arrange around what should have been or what is.

I'm adjusting and arranging.  Resting in the grace and goodness of God.  For now, that's all there is.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Goodbye, Sweet Clair

Beauty for ashes.  Strength for tears.

Clair was a bright delight, an expected joy.

Katie carried her 16 days past her due date.  She walked, hoped, and awaited the birth of her fifth child, her fourth baby girl.  Selah mentioned, each night felt like Christmas Eve, as the delightful anticipation was rich in the home.  And still Clair stayed, quiet in the womb; her heartbeat strong, her movements sure.  Hints of labor would start, only to fade.  Katie rested.  Tired and hoping to see Clair, to hold in her arms, the life she had grown and nurtured, deep within.  But, all was quiet.

At 5:00AM September 27, 2013, when Katie paced, restless in the early morn; she moved in a stretch and her water broke.  Labor began, soft and sure.  Her contractions came in waves.  When we spoke at 6:30AM her excitement to meet her daughter was so deep.  It was time!  Baby Clair was coming.

Everything was in its place.  The house was ready, the crib made, the blankets washed, prepared to welcome a greatly desired life.  It was Katie's third home birth.  Having given birth, twice at the hospital, twice at home - this was the natural progression.  Each of her babies have come through their own rending labors.  The breaking pain, to bring forth perfected life.  This was no different.  Peace and love abound.

It was so hard, because she'd been waiting so long for labor to start.  With hand reaching to feel Clair's head as she came, the pain was worth it. So soon she would be in her mama's arms.  A mantra played in Katie's mind, "I can do this, because I get to meet you.  I get to see your face, and hold you."  As contractions broke through her tired body, she stroked her extended stomach, whispering, "goodbye baby, it's time to come out, goodbye."  The anguish, giving way, to the joyful expectation.

And Clair birthed forth.  Perfectly formed, in every single way.  She was exactly right.

But.  She did not breathe. 
She did not gasp for air, or open her eyes.
She did not try.
There was not any attempt at life.
Yet, her heart beat strong.

As women, who should never know this, breathed for her, she continued to lie listless.  A life called to Jesus.  A child whose life was birthed and taken at the same moment.

The firemen arrived first.  What should have been the loving disconnect of child from mother, was replaced by the tattooed arms and calloused hands of a man used to anguish.  He broke the chord and took sweet baby Clair away.

Her heartbeat maintained it's strength, but she was without breath.

David and Laura followed the flashing lights of a wailing ambulance.

A team of doctors and nurses worked on Clair's tiny body.  Her lungs did not open to allow the necessary air.  The doctor, gentle and kind, took David aside, and he was forced to make a choice, for which no father is equipped.  "It's time to let her go."

And Clair passed.

There are one thousand whys.  They are not ours to know at this time.

We cling to God's goodness.  His sovereignty.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this life we will have tribulation.  But be of good cheer!!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33