From the BlogSubscribe Now

The Stories Behind the Buzz

Today I shaved my head. Let me rephrase that, first I put it into two high pig tails and let Emily and her best friend, Sunny the daughter of one of my dear friends, cut them off to donate. But the reason for the cut wasn’t to donate. Then we had a bit of fun, because when you cut two pig tails off, well, you get a really bad mullet…almost Pat Benatar, but not as rockin’. After the pseudo mullet-mohawk phase, the beautiful Bina, our babysitter and Em’s big sister from another mother, stepped in with the 1″ clip and cleaned it up around the sides so we could see what a sorta-pixie would look like. From there I let all three of the girls have their turn at trimming here and there, just cuz, why not? And finally, I went to town with the 1/8″ clip and loved every minute of it.

I sent this "before" to Jason who is in Taiwan right now for his job with World Vision. He fully supported my choice. Come to find out, he's always had a crush on Sinead O'Connor, so now I know why he was so supportive... ;)

I sent this “before” to Jason who is in Taiwan right now for his job with World Vision. He fully supported my choice. Come to find out, he’s always had a crush on Sinead O’Connor, so now I know why he was so supportive… ūüėČ

IMG_1770

Here are the hair bandits after the first cuts.

Super bad rat tail, mullet type situation...post pig tail chopping.

Super bad rat tail, mullet type situation…post pig tail chopping.

 

Here we cleaned it up so I could be just like the beautiful bella Bina!

Here we cleaned it up so I could be just like the beautiful bella Bina!

T-shirt brought to you by "Chosen and Dearly Loved" a ministry for special needs.

T-shirt brought to you by “Chosen and Dearly Loved” a ministry for special needs.

 

It took me 20 minutes from shower, dry, brush teeth, do make-up, and get dressed this morning. Don't even think about telling my dad how his three daughters should have done this at age 13...it would have saved him hours of waiting and we would have been places on time. All that time I used to spend on my hair I'll now spend in prayer. A visual reminder to pray...

It took me 20 minutes from shower, dry, brush teeth, do make-up, and get dressed this morning. Don’t even think about telling my dad how his three daughters should have done this at age 13…it would have saved him hours of waiting and we would have been places on time. All that time I used to spend on my hair I’ll now spend in prayer. A visual reminder to pray…

For me it was a choice for empathy. For everyone I know who loses their hair because of caustic chemicals coursing through their veins, it’s an inconvenient and scary¬†side effect on top of a disease on top of pain and discomfort and emotion and hope and bravery and courage and wonder if it will work.

Today on Facebook I posted that 4 of my friends are on chemo, but shortly thereafter, realized I was wrong and the number is 6, as I miscalculated. And those are my friends. Then there are my friends whose spouses are sick, whether with cancer or undiagnosed ailments and endless pain, unexplained, yet more real than ever.

And then let’s talk about our sweet friend’s whose daughter has to have her foot amputated or my friend whose daughter just had to be taken to Juvie or the friend whose husband just had his body crushed by a car in a bike accident or my friend whose son’s heart is broken and irreparable and so they wait and my friend whose son has 100’s of seizures each day or my friend whose son’s disability is ramping up because of puberty and he’s getting too strong for her and our¬†dear friends whose son has been sick for over 5 months, in pain, every day, and my sweet new friend whose daughter has a terminal illness.

Then there is my Dad who misses our Mom every. single. day. Her picture is everywhere I look as we stay at what was their house, and my guts hurt for his guts, and for his heart…but that doesn’t even include the pain he has daily because he needs a new knee and his best friend isn’t here to hold his hand through it. And for my beautiful Mother-in-Love who has been brave and strong for 17 years a widow on a journey not meant to tread alone. And my friend who is a young widow as of December.

And I don’t care how “acceptable” a death is at a latter age, the company of orphaned daughters and sons I have met on this journey grows regularly and there isn’t a day that goes by that we wouldn’t each love another hour with our parent…just one more question, please tell me one more story…but they are buried along with a portion of our hearts.

And the news the other night aired the total fire destruction of an apartment of someone my family loves and prays for regularly.

And all the single parents and broken homes and busted up hearts and heart-wrenching addictions. The parents who are waiting and longing to adopt.

But that doesn’t include the bereaved parents who have joined the community of late, a community I’ve been part of for over 8 years now, like my sweet friend who is figuring out life with her family minus their heart-daughter after 6 beautiful years. And the friends who have welcomed a new life into theirs after the loss of their sweet handsome boy.

ALL THIS, and we haven’t even turned on the news to see and be aware of all that transpires worldwide…

On any given day, we all carry things in our hearts, some we share, others we hide and hold closely, all of them chisel at the walls we try to erect around our tender hearts because life is hard and maybe protecting seems like the safe and right thing to do.

But, on any given day, none of these things are meant to be faced alone. No, I am not going to have a port put in my chest and take chemo to show empathy to my friends who have cancer, but maybe we should? Maybe empathy is entering into the stories of others with both feet? Maybe we would be more tender with our enemies if we both were in the same hospital with our ill children, just down the hall, just trying to love well, realizing we have something in common?

I tell you what…Jesus wasn’t just a historical figure written about in a history book that lies dusty on a shelf somewhere. God was in LOVE with ALL of us and came here to show us how to love well, which included loving everyone, even the crustiest among us. He ate dinner with those “society” called down and outers, but the thing is, they looked a lot like me, and you, and that guy, and that lady over there. Each of us has a story and we all have hard things. If we don’t start living empathy, choosing it, getting uncomfortable and walking through hard things with one another, then those of us who call ourselves “Christians” are using His name in vain. Jesus came doing the opposite of the way of the world…He came loving selflessly, He spit in dirt and made mud and smeared it on a guy’s eye to heal him, He told us if we wanted to find our lives, we needed to lose them…He didn’t just ask us to believe, He asked us to follow Him….

John 1:9-14 in the Message says this:

“The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
*But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten.

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
¬†¬†¬†¬†true from start to finish.”

*my emphasis added

I’ve ever only wanted to be who God created me to be. The months of Noah’s life gave me a glimpse. The weeks leading up to my Mom’s death opened the door a lot wider. Shaving my head in solidarity for friends and anyone and everyone going through hard things, well, let’s just say, I’ve never felt more free to be my true self, my child-of-God self, my most imperfect, messed up, forgiven and loved-self. And, I’ve never felt¬†so free or more¬†full of God’s purpose and beauty.

All the time I’ve spent doing my hair as I’ve been growing it out to “feel” pretty and sexy and fancy, well, with 1/8″ hair, I’ll have a bit more time to live intentionally. And that’s what the shave is about for me…a reminder to live a life of empathy, because we are all here, living hard stories.

And if anything, I know I’ll get ready faster than you tomorrow morning ūüėČ

(More on John in another post…)

Lessons in Perspective

As I’ve been packing for this year of jubilee, a year of uncertainty and excitement and purging and dreaming, it has been a journey of memories, going through every drawer and cupboard, finding pictures and notes and mementos of a whole lot of life lived.

And even in the living and losing, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Do I want my son back? Yeah. It’d be awesome to see Emily have a brother closer in age and to see Ryan want to be wherever Noah is…but I wouldn’t change our history, because it has molded who we are presently and each of us reflects Noah’s impact on our lives. We are all stronger for knowing and loving him…

I have one of those drawers in my dresser with treasures and keepsakes, hankies and heirlooms, pictures, relics from travels, each piece with a story of its own. As I was going through it the other night, making no headway on actually purging or packing, I came across some notes I had jotted down years ago for a speaking engagement. I wanted to share them here as they are handwritten and may¬†get lost in the move. I also wanted to share these notes because re-reading them tonight it somehow felt fresh, as if someone else needed to read it. I’m not going to take the time right now to give a play by play of what was going thru my head and heart when I wrote this, but if any of it resonates with you and you’d like to open a discussion, I’d totally be down with that…

“Peace, Perspective, and Perseverance”

Moses’ Mom’s level of trust at the river’s edge was, “Did I really just do that?!” while his sister was thinking, “Did you just stick my baby brother in the river?!”

  • I knew Noah was God’s kid from the beginning – he was dedicated to God in the womb.
  • Not until we went to the hospital did I begin to grasp just a glimpse of the “bigger picture.”
  • At first I thought that meant a miraculous healing, one that would lead many to Christ’s unconditional love – that’s when I tried to cut a deal with God.
  • As things progressed I thought it would be God raising Noah from the dead in order to reach people for Him.
  • It never crossed my mind that in Noah’s death people’s¬†lives could be reached because his life was so short in human terms. A tragedy.
    • I thought I had it all figured out how it would look…God either heals Noah or raises him from the dead, then for the rest of his days, we would spread¬†God’s love to the ends of the earth.
  • It made total sense to me and God got all the glory either way…
  • When it was clear in the natural what God was requiring of us, I remember thinking I would still have faith in God and trust Him but I most certainly wouldn’t believe in/or pray for healing and miracles…
    • That’s when my heart changed…
    • I realized I had boxed God in…
    • I surrendered to God’s bigger picture:
      • That JUST MAYBE He knew what He was doing since He was the:
        • Creator of the Universe
        • Put every star into place
        • Made man out of dust
        • Knew the hairs on the heads of over 6.5 billion people, etc
      • That JUST MAYBE He saw physical death in a WAY different way than we did…(like the Garden of Eden where they were able to experience His physical presence…)
    • So, what then? Could I truly trust God with Noah in the total sense of the word?
      • If I didn’t, I couldn’t trust Him with smaller things…
    • I realized the healing or miracle wasn’t that the story turned out the way I wanted but that my limited heart could be miraculously healed enough to TRUST God and that He is true, no matter what I see or feel…
  1. PEACE > TRUST GOD > BEYOND UNDERSTANDING IN THE MIDST OF AND DESPITE CIRCUMSTANCES
  2. PERSPECTIVE > BIGGER PICTURE > WHERE WERE WE CREATED TO BE? > FOR WHERE AM I LIVING?
  3. PERSEVERANCE > PURPOSEFUL/INTENTIONAL LIVING, A PURSUIT OF WALKING IN THE SPIRIT > ABUNDANT LIFE HERE DOES MATTER FOR THERE!
  • The other day I told Em I loved her as big as the Universe. She said, “Mom, do you love me more than you love God?” I said, “No, sweetie, I don’t. I love you as BIG as I can love you on Earth, which is really, really huge, but I love God more than you or Daddy or Noah, and it’s in loving and trusting Him that I have the ability to love you exactly how you were designed to be loved…” And after saying this to her, I felt a little like Moses’ Mom probably did as she knelt next to that raging river…

(*I have a ton of journals and notes and thoughts running through my head and heart, things I want to share here, but presently don’t have tons of time to scribe.¬†We close on our house in 3 weeks and then will start traveling right away. I want to share more on that, but for now, I just felt like I was supposed to share this…)

In the words of my Mom who said this every. single. night of my life:

“Goodnight. God Bless You. I love you.”

Get Your Party Started

On October 11, 2014, my Dad, sisters and I threw a party we should have thrown years prior, but under different circumstances. Life gets busy. We have jobs and spouses and kids and appointments and things to do and budgets and we get tired and the thought of traveling with ni√Īos in tow is less than appealing, and so, the seemingly responsible and practical reasons for not doing WHATEVER it is that is very important, but could maybe be put off until our lives slow down a bit or aren‚Äôt as crazy, well, those things don‚Äôt happen. And then it‚Äôs too late, over, after the fact.

There were special milestones we looked forward to acknowledging, but planning for a 70th, 80th, or 90th birthday party or a ‚Äúremission from cancer‚ÄĚ celebration, well, those never happened.

My Mom even said to me before she passed away in June, ‚ÄúBoo Boo, I think I was waiting to get better before I did such and such‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

Every one of us has lives filled with things to do and places to go and sights to see, check lists to complete, errands to run, things, things, things, busy, busy, busy, some of it good, some of it mind-numbing, some of it slowly sucking the life from our bones. But when the day is done, it’s the people with whom we have come in contact with, from the guy at the checkout at the store to the person across the table at dinner, to the person reflected in the mirror, who matter the most…

I’ve sat with death on several occasions. I’ve held those I love, hand in hand, close to my heart as they took their last breath and moved on to the realm of real living, but the realm I’m not welcome in yet, the one I can’t see…the place where much of my heart resides and my mind wanders to, yet my eyes are blinded because I’m meant to live here, right now, fully engaged, beautifully intentional, eyes open to the present, heart wide open, loving and celebrating the gifts (people) of God all around me, on this given day.

And so, though we celebrated our Mom with daily phone calls and family meals and gatherings, trips here and there, hours over the sewing machine, snuggles on the couch soaking in her wisdom, we never threw her a party like the one we did in Arizona just this last weekend. It wasn’t that it was some fantastic venue or even that the food was super yum. This party was one of the most beautiful gatherings I’ve ever attended because the setting was love and the décor was a room full of friends, all people my Mom loved and who loved my Mom. Set in one of the wealthiest and most beautiful cities in the world, I looked around the room and realized with an overwhelming sense of awe that my Mom was one of the richest women who ever walked the planet…her heart had been filled with the gift of friendship, both in the giving and receiving, and everyone else there knew it, too, their presence speaking louder than words.

I think Kid President is onto something‚Ķpersonally, I‚Äôm not so much a parade girl‚Ķthey are kind of long and I‚Äôm not a fan of having candy chucked at me from a distance, but, baby, say ‚Äúparty,‚ÄĚ dinner party, cocktail party, well-digging party, dance party, charity party, beach party, garden party, wine tasting party, coffee party, fund-raising party, freedom from slavery party, cupcake party, impromptu party, just hanging out party, birthday party, divorce party, because the house is clean party, bad/good day party, anniversary party, because it‚Äôs Monday party, hiking party, biking party, whatever the heck kind of party, party,‚ÄĚ the key word here is ‚Äúparty‚ÄĚ and my heart lights up!

Life is short no matter the timespan.¬†Sometimes waiting for tomorrow, scheduling, or ‚Äúspecial occasions”¬†establishes a mindset that TODAY isn’t miraculous enough…

I mean, really. What’s more special than right here, right now, and the people around us?

Forget Pinterest and go break bread and throw someone a party…because you still can!

10 Things I Love About Our House

Our realtor asked me to write a list stating 10 things I love about our house, neighborhood, and community in order to share with potential buyers. I thought I’d share it here because for me it’s so much more than a way to sell our house. Even though my heart is longing and ready for adventure, ready to be free, excited about not keeping or cleaning a house for several months, writing a list reminds me why we have homes and live in community with others in the first place.

1. ¬†Our kitchen/great room area is my favorite place in our home because it’s where laughter and heart to heart conversations and dreams and tears have all been shared, usually over tea or a meal, maybe at the counter, the table, or over on the couch, or even near the fireplace. So much happens in the heart of our home and this space is definitely the heart.

photo 1[1]

The Kitchen, the heart of our home, the place where I sip tea, make soup, and greet each family member as they wander down in the mornings. Em and I made that painting with the dark orange doilies in the background, those chairs around the table are from Jason’s grandparents centurion farm, that’s Danielle Walker’s “Against All Grain” always open on the counter, and those are ginormous zucchini’s from our garden.

photo 2[1]

The Great Room, curtains sewn with my Mom, leather ottoman found by parents at a garage sale, big “G” $1 at a garage sale, painted blue vases part of one of my spray-painting streaks…

photo 3[1]

Front entry way, free gigantor mirror from friends, matching lamps on sale because my Mom always taught me that EVERYTHING goes on sale, ceramic balls from one of Jason’s trips in South America, buffet console just makes me happy…

photo 4

Antique sleigh bed, which was mine as a kid, is from lat 1700’s, leaves lend a feeling of snuggling under a tree reading endless stories, and the beautiful quilt was hand made by my friend, Kim Arnold, who included “xoxox” just for Ryan, that little lover you see perusing dinosaurs on the flood….

photo 1

Washer and dryer NOT included in sale of home! (Well, at least these aren’t…but the real ones in the laundry room are included!)

photo 2

I love this book nook at the top of our stairs. The Nativity scene was carved by my brother-in-law. The shelf I picked up at A Paris Street Market one weekend years ago when my girlfriends and I would meet at the crack of dawn with cash and coffee in hand ready for deals, and the framed pastel portrait is of me circa 1975 when we lived outside San Francisco and had gone into the city for Dim Sum and cable car rides.

photo 3

Ahhhhh! This is the beautiful and beloved Honeycrisp Apple tree in our backyard and this year the birds didn’t get to them first! We are so grateful to enjoy the harvest before we pass the baton to the next homeowners. They are the BEST!

2.  I love the decor in our home, because as I look around almost every piece has a story behind it, especially as it relates to someone special in my life, like a friend or family member who helped me paint something or found me a great piece at a garage sale or helped me sew or design a nook or corner. It brings my heart joy to know many hearts and minds have worked together to make this space comfortable and beautiful.

3. ¬†The backyard of¬†our home has been a haven for us. ¬†It has been the scene for many games of tag, a ton of birthday parties and other family gatherings, the site for several seasons’ worth of zucchini, lettuce, and kale, quiet mornings with hot tea and reading, a place to talk over the fence to neighbors now friends, as well as the best campsite in town where stargazing and time with friends lasts into the late night. I love our backyard! It’s been a labor of a lot of love, blood, sweat, and even tears.

4. ¬†This neighborhood has been good to us. We were among some of the first families in the neighborhood so it has been neat to see it fill in and meet new people in the process. We all have our stories and it’s been an honor learning some of the stories of the people right around us who call this place “home”, too.

5. ¬†Two specific features I appreciate about our neighborhood are the quiet, low-trafficked streets and the park just 10 houses down on the left. My kids have grown up at the neighborhood park, taking their friends there, us talking to the other parents as the kids play and wear themselves out. It’s a great draw in building the community of our neighborhood.

6. ¬†We live in The Meadows, a great master-planned community with ample sidewalks, parks, open space, hiking and biking trails, and HOA’s which keep the up the pride of residency.¬†We are so excited to see what the town of Castle Rock has in store for the town center of The Meadows as it will really add to the “small town” feel west of the highway. And, we are only 10 mins from one of the most beautiful hikes at Dawson’s Butte, my new favorite serene spot. The views are spectacular wherever you go in The Meadows.

7. ¬†Back to our house…I just have to say, the basement is another favorite spot because it’s always been a place for guests, short and long-term, as well as the setting for my creative heart. It’s where I’ve sewn for hours on end, designed and repurposed vintage jewelry, and spent time snuggled with my kids doing homeschool. It’s also been the place where I meet the yoga mat in the quiet of the morning or walk or run off stress in the workout room.

8. ¬†We used to live in Denver, and though it was fun and close to many things, I’m so grateful we made the move to Castle Rock. This place has a small hometown feel without the hustle and bustle of a big city, but is close to¬†downtown Denver or Colorado Springs for major events. I rarely leave here, though, because it has plenty to offer, including our¬†local coffee shops, Lost Coffee and Crowfoot Valley, the best antiques and window shopping around at The Barn, as well as our fantastic local date night hot spot, Uniscali where my husband and I pretend we are in Spain having tapas for happy hour, or where I meet my sister and girlfriends for a glass of wine once in a while.

9. ¬†Having been here 7 years, it’s been fun to meet local shop owners and business people, exchanging names and stories, feeling¬†more like a part of a small supportive community than just a number in a big city. This has also helped us develop trusting relationships in order to know where to have our car serviced or where to get natural health care or where to get our hair cut. It’s also fun to have the folks at Sprouts or Natural Grocers greet me and my kids when we run in for the 5th time in a week because I’ve forgotten something.

10. ¬†Wow! 7 years seems like a long time and we’ve built many memories in this home! We hope and pray this home will be a blessing to the next family who lives in it, making their own memories, celebrating milestones together, and inviting others in, as we have over the years, to break bread and further build the community.

On Weddings and Funerals

In preparation for my Mom’s memorial (funeral) service, I wrote out more than a dozen pieces, trying to figure out just what to say. Once it was determined I was the one who would be sharing the message, I prayed and pondered how to sum up 42 years of MY memories with a woman who lived 26 full years of life even before¬†my arrival to this earth. My Dad said he wanted me to share but with one stipulation: I couldn’t say “pissed off”. I asked, Where have you EVER heard me say that?” He informed¬†me that it wasn’t only my Mom who had listened to my radio show several years ago, but he did, too, and he heard me say it. I assured him, “Dad, don’t worry…I won’t say ‘pissed off’ at Mom’s service…but I’ll probably drop an ‘eff’ bomb…” (*if you could only be a fly on the wall of our family’s inappropriate sense of humor…at all the inappropriate times…hey, laughter is good medicine.)

Except I didn’t drop an ‘eff bomb. The problem is, whenever I speak publicly, no matter how many hours of preparation and rehearsal are poured into it, I still get¬†nervous out of the gates, then warm up after a few minutes. And my Dad said I couldn’t cuss, and it wasn’t a wedding where I had already had half a glass of wine to relax, so my usual alternative is a joke to lighten people up… (*Hello!? remember WHY people have asked me to speak publicly over the past 8 years…because my son died…and people always think it’s¬†going to¬†be sad, even though it’s not…I need a new platform…just sayin’…) But it was my Mom’s memorial service, so without cussing, wine, or a good joke, I awkwardly fumbled and barely¬†scratched the surface to only ONE of the angles I wanted to go in sharing about my Mom and her impact on my life.

Then, of freaking course, I left my computer in the other room with all of my notes and ended up winging it…but whatever.

After I worked out my nervous¬†kinks, I was so glad to be sharing at my Mom’s service. I’m very comfortable not only sharing my heart candidly but sharing about death. I think funerals, (and talking about dying and death) are kind of important, I mean, especially since everybody dies and all. Yet we avoid the topic like the plague, as if that keeps it at bay, and don’t even plan services until a person has died.

You see, I don’t think weddings and funerals are really¬†all that different. In both cases we celebrate¬†a sacred love shared between¬†two key players. Weddings are a blissful time where there is all the time in the world, seemingly. Funeral are the bittersweet reminder that God holds the number of our days in His hands…life is short this side of eternity, living with intention is key, and that even though those of us left over will be sad, it’s momentary, and the gathering of people to celebrate the one who has died is truly an opportunity to share joy! And, baby, my Mom loved a good party, especially the pretty decorations! Music, stories, food, and tears are present in both scenarios…and if it’s a funeral, there is most certainly dancing going on, too, though we just aren’t able to see it.

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...a friend made the "It is well with my soul" placard for my birthday earlier this year...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…a friend made the “It is well with my soul” placard for my birthday earlier this year…

Anyway…I can honestly say, I’m not sad for her. I don’t grieve without hope. There is a vast difference between grief and despair. Grief is a true emotion meant to be expressed over great loss, and for me, the loss of¬†my Mom’s physical presence in my life is great because I loved her dearly and was loved unconditionally by her, but I’m not sitting in the corner of my closet, hopeless and in despair. I know it’ll hit me in the thighs¬†in a few weeks when things “wind down”, I realize I can’t carb-load anymore, and the reality hits that she’s not on a trip with my Dad, out of cellular range, so that’s why she isn’t calling…believe me, I’ve already wanted to ask her something specific and the answer is gone, with her.

photo 3

photo 2

The little Dutch house is part of a canister set she put flour, sugar, tea, and coffee in over the years.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn't pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn’t pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

God gave me a vision of my Mom while she was alive but on her last full day of life, and this as I sat behind her ailing body, rubbing her back as she tried to breathe…she was sitting on the edge of something and had her head turned, looking back at me over her shoulder. She was alive and young and vibrant and her smile was one so wide and beaming, I had never seen one quite like it captured in any photograph. Her eyes were bright and so alive and the look on her face was that of anticipation and excitement for what was before her, more glory than she had ever known…and then she danced with all of her might, and I could no longer see her…

Because apparently dancing takes place not only at weddings, but also in the midst of sacred encounters…

Time: My Love Language

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

My number one love language is time…and I think that’s why this grief is so incredibly profound.

My Mom was too young to be as old as she was when she died. She wasn’t an “old” soul. She was wise and discerning beyond her years, basically with enough God-discernment to qualify for a lifetime, but as far as spirited, she was young and vibrant…

Did you know that just 8 weeks ago the docs said if nothing else worked our Mom had about a year to 18-months left? We planned a family trip to Glen Lake, Michigan, and Traverse City, to attend the Cherry Festival and take in lots of Lake Michigan sunsets, our family tradition while growing up that we hadn’t done in over 20 years. Did you know that just 3 weeks ago they told us 4-6 weeks, at best?

What THE HELL? #$%^&*

I’m no mathematician, and I’m also not one to listen to one human dole out a life and death time-frame to another human, but the numbers just don’t add up and I’m grieving TIME!

IT’S GONE. TIME WITH MY MOM IS GONE. And she was one who spending time with was priceless…a gift, worth every minute…

Yes, I get that she was “diagnosed” with cancer just shy of 3 years ago, but she was a Mother of the Faith, a Superhero, a Spiritual Force to be reckoned with in the earth…she wasn’t solely the love of our Dad’s life and our Mom and friend to many of you, she was a friend of God and the thought of her dying never occurred to me…because apparently I’m slow or, maybe, rather, I chose not to “go there” so I could be present in each moment, one day at a time.

My grief runs deep because her love ran even deeper…and time was cut short.

There. I said it. I’m not a fan of God’s timing or answer. Sure I have peace that my Mom is dancing her heart out with the Lover of her soul, seeing family and friends, meeting people who have been family all along…she is in the presence of Almighty God, her Creator and the Love of her life, but I miss her and this can’t be “real.”

I have gone back to the mortuary twice now to pray for my Mom to be raised from the dead. This whole “great commission” thing from Matthew 10 is difficult to follow, the part about “healing the sick and raising the dead,” when the dead person is enjoying the presence of God so much that the very thought of returning to earth life isn’t even an option…Was it so bad here?¬†Hey, a¬†bit of cooperation would be amazing…

Come on, Mom! I get it! God’s presence is awesome! Clearly! But you have eternity to hang out there…come back here so we can love people as a family and share God’s love with everyone we meet…let’s go! The world is lost and wallowing, they need to know God’s unconditional love…

To visually see our Mom age at an exponential rate over the last few months was a bit Benjamin-Button-esque. It was unreal and surreal and I could curse chemo and cancer for all of it, but nothing, nothing, nothing is outside of God. Nothing. My Mom prayed before, during, through, and after EVERY SINGLE step of this disease, treatment, etc, and confirmed to my heart, NO MEDICINE, NO CLEAN EATING ROUTINE, NO NATURAL OR TRADITIONAL MEDICINE OR TREATMENT WOULD EVER RECEIVE THE GLORY FOR HER HEALING OR DEATH, but God alone would be her Healer, whether it was with us here on earth or with Him in His presence…and this is what I trust. God really does know the number of our days. He showed my Mom while she was struggling to breathe that it wasn’t the Pharisees¬†or the Devil who finally took His life on the Cross, but God alone said when it was finished…

He holds time in His hand, says life is “but a breath” that it’s a “wisp”, short, and that He is coming back soon, yet my limited earth-mind is here, steeped in earth life and earth perspective and though the hope of heaven is that much richer with more treasure there than just days ago, eternity’s time and my interpretation and physical experience with it aren’t quite lining up, and as a result, the loss of time aches like a mother…

 

Bedside with Bebe, Literally

(*I started writing this the morning of June 19th)

It’s all surreal, carpet burns on my knees as I position myself to be helpful to my Mom, rubbing her back while playing worship songs in her ears, reading Scripture over her, telling her how very grateful I am that she would call me her own, wishing I could have her here longer, whole and healed, and wishing I could hurry her to the other side, knowing it’s not my timing call but His and the two of them will work through this labor of love through death on their own…I’ve tried to be a helpful daughter, all three of us have been in our own ways.

Vigils look many different ways. Death is something we all will experience personally, but it’s not something any of us should go at alone.

If it is essential to live in community then we should also die in community. No one should die lonely.

Yes, each one of us has personal, deep down ways of expressing grief, sadness, disappointment, heartache, and many of them are so raw, we protect them as if they are unique, solely our own. Yet anytime I talk about death on my blog or in person, people reach out to me and thank me for sharing so openly, question how I can be so strong, and are grateful I shared, because it resonates…because we will all walk through this with someone we love and preparation is important. We are grieving what we see but when we trust in an unseen God, the grief is different, hopeful rather.

This is a hand I've held for 42 years...

“Chosen & Dearly Loved”, this is a hand I’ve held for 42 years…

It’s a shared experience, though parts of it so very private. I don’t share EVERYTHING, but I’ve been so very close to death, watched the process, touched the cold it leaves behind, and felt my heart gulp for breath and hope, knowing the part about being physically in God’s presence is more real to me as the days go by than this stretchy, burned skin on my knees.

It would be awesome to be in amazing health and then one day get my glass of water, head to my room, brush my teeth and wash my face, read a bit, pull the light chain, settle into my pillow and somewhere between a dream and the dawn, meet my Savior face to face…but that doesn’t always happen and with the loved ones I’ve sat by as they have neared the Throne, it hasn’t looked like this at all, except my sweet boy…his was quiet and tender and quick, yet not if you include a lifetime in a hospital.

We have to talk about death and debunk the fear of it. We must talk about it, not because we’ll understand it, but because it’s a shared human experience and so it levels the field for all of us. It also demands our attention. Not to live life in fear of death but to live a life with purpose and passion, wherever we are, in whatever circles of life we’ve been called to, being found “doing” what He told us to do.

“Life is short” isn’t a clich√©, it’s actually true in the measurement of time and the vastness of the Universe.

Who we are and what we do with these brief lives matters. We all have stories and God desires us to live them out faithfully each and every day, in the day to day.

As we have thanked our Mom for giving of her life to our Dad and to us over the years, she has said, “It was easy for me, it’s how I was made. I enjoyed being your Mom…raising you girls has been a joy for me,” and it leads me to believe she is onto something…

I’ll leave you with this video with Bebe’s final commission to us, as it sums up everything…everything!

Bebe’s final commission

Why Wait?

“I’ll run a marathon¬†when I lose 50¬†lbs.”

“We’ll travel when the kids are out of the house.”

“I’ll go back to school once my kids are through school.”

“When I’m feeling better I’ll do such and such…”

“When I have more money I’ll be able to do (whatever ‘it’ is…)”

You and I could sit for hours and write out lists of passions we have not only deep in our hearts but likely kept just at bay or beneath the surface, all things which are powerful, necessary, even how we are wired, yet things we have told ourselves there is “time” to “one day” accomplish such things.

Why wait?

Unless God Almighty has specifically asked us to “wait” on the timing of something, if the waiting is for “so many reasons” or because we are afraid, then the waiting is self-inflicted, and not “holy” at all.

And I’m not sure what I’ve been waiting for. Oh, wait, yes I do. I’ve tied into the lies that I need anyone’s permission to do or say or act on anything the Lord puts on my heart. And this “waiting” has been disobedience.

I’ve waited for bloggers to “network” to believe ¬†I had worth as a blogger. I’ve waited for groups to ask me to come speak to believe I have worth as a speaker. I’ve even waited to write a book to believe I have worth as a writer.

And by “worth”, all of the above things imply the granting of worth from others over me. Have you ever done that? Have you ever waited for the permission of another to believe your worth? I have, though I do not do it in all things. Yet, I have done it and there is no time or circumstance like the present to give me the swift KICK I need to step out into deep waters and walk a life of complete faith and trust that it’s only God’s worthiness I seek.

God has been telling me for years…YEARS…to SPEAK. I have boxed in what I’ve believed that to look like and therefore have waited for the permission of “man” to get going…Sure I’ve used this blog at times to share, but I’m talking SPEAK, like sharing everything He has ever put on my heart with whomever is hungry to listen. My Mom’s current tenacity to preach in spite of her circumstances has stirred up in me a desire to be obedient, as well. Obedient to the tug at my heart and the words He has shared loudly in my head.

And not to care what people think about me, but to just live and share and love the best I know how.

So, that’s just what I’ll be doing. And whatever it is The Lord has put upon your heart to do, don’t look around and throw out declarations that you’ll do it once such and such is completed. If He is asking you to do something, He will provide the time and space and way for you to make it happen.

My friend posted this on her Twitter the other day and I’ll leave you with it: “I’m not a product of my circumstances. I’m a product of my decisions.”

What are you waiting for? There really is no time like the present! GO FOR IT! With God on your side, there is nothing you CAN’T do!

*Below¬†are some¬†study notes for some¬†“Bedside with Bebe” sessions she was unable to¬†share verbally. One is about the Holy Spirit, and another¬†the Deep Waters of the Holy Spirit.¬†Our Mom¬†sent them to me last week as attachments and asked me to make them public. They are meaty! I pray they will bless your heart and draw you closer to the Heart of God:

 

How do I Pray?

Sometimes I pray like this: (*closing my eyes as I type so it’s prayer and not prose…excuse typos…)

Father, I love you! You are good and holy and lovely! You are BIG and I’m NOT! I’m grateful for Your grace each day, thankful for Your love, in awe of Your mercies, humbled by Your constant forgiveness in my life. YOU are AMAZING!

I’m glad You know what You are doing…I’m grateful You run the Universe and it’s not my job! I’m thankful to have a body to live in here on this Earth, but more so, thankful to have Your Holy Spirit alive in this temporary body. I can’t thank You enough for the family and friends You have placed in my life! Seriously! These people…amazing!

Father, You know everything. I know this full well. You know my heart is deceitful above all else and that my mind and own will wish for certain things and outcomes. So when I pray, I know I don’t have to pretend or hold back things in secret. Please search my heart. Of course I want to spend more time on this earth with my Mom, Lord, but not to just sit around, and You know that, too! We aren’t meant for here. We aren’t even from here, yet we all battle so much to stay here…to make HERE the end all, be all…but it’s not! Lord, I want my Mom and Dad around so we can be part of what You are doing in the earth in these end times…REVIVAL!

I’m so very grateful you left the book of Job in the Bible so we could see how very low the Enemy of our hearts would stoop to try to trick us into believing You aren’t good. I know this is a spiritual battle! WE BOTH KNOW IT!!!! I know You adore my Mom, in fact, You adore all of Your creation, and that is why modern day Job stories even transpire, because You are still 100% behind us and You believe deep down we’ll stay focused on the eternal, rather than grip tightly to what we can see or feel, this earth life, NON-REALITY.

Lord, I’m praying for miracles! It’s time! This generation needs YOU, needs HOPE! I’m not praying for miracles for the sake of miracles, or even just for my Mom’s healing. Historically people were healed and witnessed YOU first hand on earth performing miracles, yet they didn’t even believe! But Lord, LORD, we are selfish, so self-reliant and sufficient! The earth actually believes it doesn’t need YOU! and we have believed LIES! The Enemy has been so very successful to deceive the masses! Little by little we, I, have believed un-true things! Father, I’m praying for hearts around the earth to be softened to Your love for them! The lies of the Enemy need full exposure!!!! They have gone on too long and are too loud! His whole purpose is to accuse…“to steal, kill, and destroy” but You have come that we would know life, full, exploding at the seams, LIFE! Father, that is the life I desire for Your creation to KNOW!

Lord, You are aware of our family’s life circumstances right now…the Enemy has tried to snuff out our Dad with Parkinson’s and our Mom with cancer. Lord, if we live we are in YOU and if we die, we are in YOU, but they are both too young to be this old! Father, please pour Your healing oil over their bodies from head to toe, fillling them with strength they knew in their 30’s, with wisdom from their 60’s, and with Your anointing to carry out what it is You have orchestrated for them to do, here and now…in the Earth, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done…

And sometimes I simply just pray, “Lord, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

Obedience

Have you ever been disobedient? It’s a word we like to throw around with our children, not even throw it around but use it with firm¬†voices and wish for it with all of our hearts. We camouflage it¬†with cooperator, team, make a good choice, blah, blah, blah. We think it’s worse at: toddler age, preschool age, preteen, teens, 20’s. But the reality is, I’ve been being disobedient and I’m 42.

I’m a “grown-up” and have known better for years upon years. But¬†I’ve cared…what others think, cared that what has been on my heart is: too rough around the edges, not polished, not mainstream enough, certainly not what ears and hearts want to hear.

But there’s no time like when your Mom is fighting for her very breath and days are cherished to finally start obeying, not just the encouragement of my Mom, but God. Obeying God. And He has spoken through my Mom to my heart on numerous occasions to be bold and SPEAK, to answer my call from Him, not wait for the permission of others when I’ve had His all along.

You see, God has put a lot on my heart over the years to share with others either face to face, via writing, on my blog or even vlogs, but I’ve fought against the System and many times, held back. Because even though I have social media accounts,¬†I’ve been nauseated by how it’s used, how self-promotion crosses lines every day, how intimacy with the Loving and Living God is marketed and promoted with paid-for ads, making sure to be “engaged” on social media for a certain amount of time each day, hobnobbing with the right people on the Web, looking for the stamp of approval of others.

Except…remember that part where Jesus was God in the flesh and came to earth and lived here among us for 33ish years and didn’t Tweet one thing He did that day, and how He didn’t have a fan page or even post inspirational photos on Instagram of His miraculous healings, even though what He did and had to say was, oh, I don’t know, like, the end all, be all, most important thing in the whole wide world to ever say. Ever.¬† I’ve teetered on the edge of wanting everything I do for the Lord to be authentic and grassroots and of Him, and worrying if I’ve crossed the line by even hitting “post” or casually promoting¬†something. I so don’t want it to be about me that I know there have been many times when I haven’t spoken at all, whatsoever, not a word, and in truth, been just plain old disobedient. But¬†my friend, Erin, told me, “Ade, I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…and they are all about Jesus, not about themselves…”¬†Touche.

Now let me say this, God and I don’t have a relationship where He is demanding my obedience. I LONG FOR AND DESIRE to obey Him because of His love for me and my awe and love for Him. This lesson alone has taught me much about parenting my kids because demanding obedience, “Because I said so, that’s why” isn’t rooted in trust and love but rather fear. And though a healthy fear of listening so we don’t get hit by cars is important, so is a healthy fear of obeying God when He leads, not because He’ll smote us if we don’t, but because there is beauty in trusting Him in total faith and only when I do am I able to experience all He has for me.

So, almost 2 years ago a friend was praying for me and for Bevy, my non-profit organization that my Mom named, so you could actually call her the “founder” (it’s a 50’s word that means, “A group of birds or girls”). And while praying for us, this is what God put on my friend’s¬†heart: “The next move of God is going to be through a nameless, faceless generation who is truly concerned about Him getting¬†glory. If Bevy is aligned with that, you’ll be in for the ride of your lives watching God move, creating more stories that make Him look like the Only Man Show.”

And so this is where this post comes in…my Mom introduces me as her daughter who is a “minister.” She tells people I’m a “pastor”, that I have a non-profit, that I’m a writer…she tells me that I’m supposed to SPEAK and I’m supposed to share what God puts on my heart.

And I haven’t. I have not done this entirely, whole-heartedly, without abandon. I have held back because I’ve been told I’m too much, too bold, too, too, too. Imagine having lost a son and still holding back some of the things God has put on my heart! And my parents are the ones who named me, “Adrienne: Dark, Bold, Rich, Confident.” I didn’t make up the definition, it was already there before I was born.

So, I’m done holding back. If my Mom is going to live like she is dying, her “Bucket List” to preach all God has put upon her heart over the years, not allowing the Enemy of her heart to snuff out God’s love and message for whomever will listen, I have to follow suit, live up to my name. She is leading by example and I want to show her that I finally get it…life is short, it’s precious, time is of the essence, there are people who aren’t fully living because they are believing lies about our loving God, and I’m here on earth to¬†convey that LOVE to whomever I meet.

I’ve been soaking up my Mom’s wisdom for years, watching her study each and every page of her Bible, been a beneficiary of her prayers and her direct line with God. None of this can be lost on me. It’s time for me to walk in obedience, whatever that may look like to this rebellious heart.

Am I the only rebellious one or has anyone else out there not shared what God has placed upon your heart for whatever reason? What better time than the present to get moving?