Thursday, September 29, 2016

When I Might Be Drowning


What a person publishes a post entitled, "What's Saving My Life Currently," you might correctly infer that said person feels their life needs saving.

Last week was a really hard week for me.

I had a cold. I had women's issues. I had a kid going in for her second round of chemo.

And, for some reason, facing this second round of chemo was much harder for me than facing up the first round.

I think it is because chemo side effects was no longer a vague idea. It was pretty concrete as far as Meres goes. I knew we would be facing days of nausea and jaw pain. And, who wants their kid to go through that.

Meres first chemo day was LONG. The staff had said it would be long, but in all of our combined figurings, we were 3-4 hours off. One of Meres' chemo drugs requires her to be well hydrated before they start it. Hydration at this level does not consist of drinking a few glasses of water. It involves hours being hooked up to a saline I.V. drip. Two hours before chemo, two hours after.

Thankfully, some other things are happening simultaneously with those 4 hours, or this would be an extra 5 hours or so, on top of chemo.

So, the long day ended up being twice as long as I thought. Even though everything went off without a hitch. Blood counts were fantastic. Everything went very well.

I was a weepy mess on and off that first day. I think it was a perfect storm of events. The long day. The anticipation of side effects. (which thankfully, were much more mild than last time. Nausea for several days, but still good eating. And the jaw pain was manageable with Tylenol. And she still was able to eat.)

The sight of my baby getting chemo. Which is crazy, by the way. The nurses suit up in special bibs and gloves when they are handling the chemo. There is the skull and crossbones motif on the bags. It is toxic. And I am allowing those toxic substances to go into my child. It really puts things in to perspective and kind of freaks me out. But, I also have peace that we have made the right decision.

But, here is the other thing. My support group at Gilda's Club kind of freaked me out, and put me in a not good place. We attend a family and friends' group. We are supporters of someone in our life who has cancer. A parent, spouse, child, friend. Well, three of the members in our group are facing almost imminent death with their person. They are getting ready to transition from the cancer support group to the grief support group.

And, things are ticking along quite well here. But, then I get scared. We have a good prognosis. Enucleation and chemo for retinoblastoma has a 95% cure rate. But, what if Meres falls in the 5%? What if I am clinging to this hope, and this doesn't end up being the finish to her cancer journey? What if she has to have more surgery and more chemo to fight cancer in other parts of her body? Do all those people in the support group look at us and think they were in our optimistic shoes once? Poor, deluded us?

The what-ifs are a horrible black pit.

I cried with the social worker when she asked how I was handling this. I cried on my own. I cried with Mr. Hippie on our date last night, when I articulated exactly where I was at. I'm crying as I'm typing this. And, I'm betting I will cry in the support group tonight.

I know God is gracious, and merciful, and good. I know He will be with us step by step, no matter what each step holds. I do know that. I'm not doubting it.

I'm just hoping, hoping, hoping, that the six chemo treatments are the end. That I don't have to take my child for anymore chemo treatments or surgeries. Radiation or labs. That I don't have to watch her vomit or cry as she is trying to eat. That I don't have to sit passively while the nurse hooks my daughter up to toxins that are supposed to kill the worse cells-the ones that could actually kill her.

Hope that the chemo is doing its job.

Resting in the fact that the MRI showed no cancer or metastasizing in her brain or other eye.

Grace to face today.

Vulnerability to say, I'm not strong in myself. This is a really hard path to walk. Maybe I'm good enough, but not necessarily good. Fine, but not exactly okay.

In case you were wondering.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What's Saving My Life Currently and A Recipe

Let me tell you, life with a kid doing chemo can be described as an upheaval. Add to that scenario, the chief cook and bottle washer (aka-me) still recovering from knee injury and surgery, well, life is not at all normal.

I'm looking for things that simplify our routine, things that make life doable, and enjoyable. Here's what I've found to be making all the difference in the past few weeks...

Campfires. Campfire smell rates right up there with fresh baked bread and coffee as my all time favorite scents. Which, in and of itself, makes them a life saver. But, campfires are also great because they are tailored for pausing and reflecting. It takes time to build a campfire and get it burning nicely. The logs take time to burn completely away. And it forces one to slow down, sit down, and just enjoy the warmth and pace. Someone gave my husband their still nice campfire pit last fall. We've used it many times throughout this spring, summer and (now) fall.

Meres with her new eye...you can't even tell...Amazing!

Foil pans (and the dinners that fill them) and paper plates. Having had many, many dinners brought to us over the course of the summer, I've become a convert to foil pans. Especially when bringing a dinner to someone. It saves one from having to remember whose dishes belong to whom, besides the fact of remembering to actually return them. Love, love, love foil pans. Easy clean up. (ask LC-she's a convert too.) Same clean up principle belongs to paper plates. Sometimes it is just easier. Not nicer, but easier. And easy is good.

Getting dressed nice-with jewelry and make up. Dresses and leggings. Skinny jeans and tunics. No graphic t-shirts. I've always been a dresser, but this summer was all about what was comfortable. This fall is about comfort too, but I've been paying attention to what I'm wearing even at home. Making an effort makes all the difference. And it takes little additional time.

Just saying "no". It used to be that the more I had to do, the more I'd get done. I was inspired, and I'd whip that to-do list into submission. Sad to say, this is not as true anymore. Not in this life season. Because life is borderline overwhelming, adding a brimming to-do/to-go list to that overwhelming, tips me over to a not good place. My to-do list these days is usually 3-4 items-tops. That's all I can handle. And, if our evenings start filling up, I start cutting things out. The breathing room in our schedule is making life able to be walked, one day at a time. Step by step.

iCalendar. Everything that comes across my radar, every activity and appointment that I say yes to, goes on my iCalendar. Immediately. With multiple notifications. This way, I can keep track of who needs to be where, when. So far I've not missed any appointments, but I've been early to one. =) Knock on wood. And put it in the calendar.

Making applesauce & bread, cleaning my bedroom & the bathrooms, mornings at the table doing school...in other words, ordinary day-to-day life. These normal activities make life seem normal, or at least as normal as it is going to be.


I should just share this recipe right here...

My brother brought over a bunch of these peppers from his garden. The light green ones were sweet-not hot. The dark green ones were mildly spicy. Nothing to burn all the taste buds off your tongue or anything...

They were a snap to whip up. Particularly because I had the pulled pork and black beans already cooked and in the freezer. All I had to do the night we ate them was seed the peppers, heat the beans and pork, stuff the peppers, top with shredded cheese, chop cilantro and red onion, and sprinkle them on. 

It's a gluten free option when considering how to use up that big batch of pulled pork.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Poblano Peppers
(about) 6 cups pulled pork 
2 cups black beans or 1 (15.5 oz) can
12 large poblano peppers
8 ounces cheddar cheese
1 small red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
barbecue sauce (opt)

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-Place the pork and black beans into a microwave safe container, and microwave on medium-high until heated through.
-Cut tops off peppers, and seed. Cut through one side of pepper, leaving the pepper whole, not two halves.
-Chop cilantro and red onion.
-Shred or slice cheese.
-Fill peppers with heated pork and black beans and arrange in a greased 9x13" dish. Cover with foil, and bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until starting to soften. Remove from oven, top with cheese, onions, and cilantro. Return to oven, baking uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the peppers are tender.
-Can serve with barbecue sauce if desired.



Easy dinners, those are saving my life too...

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Home Schooling: The Biggest Mistake of My Life?



I love home schooling. No ifs, ands or buts.

I love teaching. I love math, and I love reading. I love writing. I love history. I love that history is stories upon stories, colorful and real. It doesn't require work to make it interesting. It does require a lot of effort to make it boring

My kids love science, and I love it on their behalf. Apologia is the curriculum we use and they are the best. It is a creation based curriculum with lots of hands on experiments. The experiments are fun, and are also thoroughly explained. Why did this happen? What does this experiment teach or explain or show? The students have journals to fill out which keeps everything in one place.

I love home schooling.

Have I said that before?

I love watching my kids get hooked on a subject. I love watching them blossom and grow as they learn. I’ve loved watching my oldest progress from pre-K all the way up into high school. And, frankly, I’m pretty impressed that I’ve worked with him from pre-K all the way up into high school. We are in our 11th year! Cray-zay!

But, let’s be honest.

Even though I love teaching and love home schooling and love my kids, I actually don’t love every minute of home schooling.

Actually, within the first week of each year, I wonder if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life.

Every.single.year.

And what I have to remind myself of in these moments is that this does happen every year.

Because each year there is the same rough learning curve as we get back into the swing of things. As we readjust to our school schedule (rather rigid and heavy) and opposed to summer schedule (all loosey-goosey).

Students haven’t realized yet that just because mom works on Tuesdays and corrects Tuesday’s assignments on Wednesdays does not mean that he/she is going to get away with not doing the school work well. Sub parr is not going to make the grade. Sub parr will be re-done on Wednesday.

Students haven’t realized yet that when mom says reading is a huge part of your school year, she means it. When she says notes will be taken as you go, she does not mean one word for 25 pages. Also, she does know that you can read far more than 10 pages in two hours. She knows your reading pace. And she will start cracking the proverbial whip when the month is half done, and you’re only 125 pages into your 600 page book.

Students haven’t realized yet that spending an hour on 5 easy math problems, and still getting them wrong is not okay. It is frustrating to the teacher, and it only produces more math solving for you.

Teacher has realized that every child clammers for attention at the exact.same.time. Because…Murphy’s Law.

Teacher is ready to pull her hair out, and any hair left is turning grey by the home-school minute.

Hmmm…

So, we take a deep breathe and realize that some things aren’t working (obviously). Is it the technique? The scope of work expected? Stubbornness? Stupidity?

(Just being honest here. I have wondered that about my kids. I know. Bad mom! I didn’t wonder aloud. Good mom!)

I evaluate….

What needs tweaked for things to run smoothly this year?

Where do we need to persist because it just takes time to get used to the school routine, new books, new responsibilities, new methods? 


Evaluation is necessary.

Before school starts, everything is theory. Subjects, schedule and timing, logistics. Sometimes you actually need to live it for a bit to realize if it is or isn’t going to work in the long run.

I take a deep breathe, and I pray. For wisdom and patience and flexibility. I let God know that I am overwhelmed.

Then…

I buy large-square graph paper for the child struggling with math. Little boxes help keep equations neat and organized. (thanking a friend from Germany for this great tip)

I clearly set expectations for what I want done. Be it how many pages I want read, or how many typing lessons completed. These can be revisited as needed, but they are no longer vague concepts. There are goals to meet.

I remind each child that they need to try to problem solve on their own if I am working with someone else. If they can’t figure it out, then they need to go on to some other task, until I am able to work with them.

I change one of our Friday fun school lectures to a different series. I change one of our activities to a slight different method of studying and accomplishing, to make some free time on Friday afternoons.

I remind myself that I am tethered to the table for a couple hours every day. School is my job for that segment. Not cooking or cleaning or laundry or phone calls or emails or social media. School. It’s good and it’s enough.

I remind myself that having students in Kindergarten, and 4th grade, 7th grade and 9th grade, is having students in quite the skill range. I need to give myself grace for this.

I teach my kids the principle of hard now versus hard. I focus on skills learned and progress made, not on perfection. In both my kids and myself.

Yes, I do love home schooling. No, it isn’t sunshine and roses every single moment of every single day. Yes, I do believe home schooling is what we are supposed to be doing again this year. Yes, my kids are pretty good kids, and pretty smart and responsible too. And, yes, I am still a sinner in need of grace, and so are they.

Hopefully this post encourages you. From me, a person who often seems to have her junk all in order. From me, a person who loves to teach and loves to home school. From me, an 11 year home school veteran. I still have to adjust and readjust yearly, and monthly, and weekly, and sometimes even daily. Hopefully this encourages you to keep on keeping on.

I’m so thankful for small graces and new mercies…even in home schooling.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Count Your Blessings

We were sitting with my parents on Labor Day, when my husband remarked, "all in all, I'd say we had a really good summer."

I punched his arm and was like...what? If this summer is his version of really good, I'd hate to experience his really bad.

But, it did get me thinking.

We've had quite the summer. Hard things. So.many.hard.days.

And yet, sprinkled through the really hard, was so many small graces. So many things to be thankful for.

And because of that, here is my thankful list for today...

I'm thankful for my neighbor who has a green thumb and loves to garden. And weed. Huh? Crazy! I can back from my week long vacation in August to a beautifully tended front flower garden. It was weeded, and trimmed, and dead-headed. And it looked glorious.

I'm thankful for fresh flowers. I know-I'm always thankful for fresh flowers. They hit every one of my thankful lists... I'm thankful for cheap bouquets that I can split between vases in my dining room and bedroom, so that I can see their beauty almost anywhere I am in my house. And I love to stop and smell the roses. Literally. I love their scent. I think roses smell like rain.

Again, all photo credits in this post go to the amazing Josh Rexford
I am thankful for Shauna Niequist's new book, Present Over Perfect. Her writing style makes me smile. And the truths in the book are encouraging and challenging. I've particularly been challenged about being as opposed to doing. I've had to physically rest more this summer than probably any time in my entire life. This book is encouraging me to keep the rest going. Priorities have been a recurring theme in our year. God-marriage-kids-everything else. We've filtered and filtered through that order. One of the truths of the book is to know your purpose and your priorities. It gives a lot of freedom. My purpose is to glorify God. My priorities are what I listed. As we sift through activities and opportunities, using the template of glorifying God through our relationship with Him, through our marriage, through our parenting, and then through everything else, things become more simple.

I'm thankful for our local Gilda's Club. Gilda's Clubs are free, safe, support places for entire families as they grieve and/or go through cancer. I love that there are age appropriate groups for each of my kids. Each group is run by a certified counselor, who guides them in discussions as well as has fun activities for them to do. Plus, dinner is provided. What's not to love about that?

I'm thankful that it is school time again. That we are back into routine, back to learning new things.

I am thankful for another good week for Meres. No side effects this week. And still another (almost) 2 weeks until her next chemo treatment. This week and last week has been a breath of fresh air. A time of peace and rest between rough patches.


I'm thankful for our local children's hospital. For the competent and friendly staff. For it's really good rating among children's hospitals in the country. For is proximity to my house. I can get from my front door to the oncology floor, with parking and check-in, in 20  minutes. This is a great blessing.

I am thankful that I finally branched out into skinny jeans. Okay, so I still am all about my the bigger the flare the better jeans, but skinnies are quite comfortable. I'm also thankful for a cute denim shirt dress from Old Navy, and some new tunics from Goodwill and Marshalls.

I'm thankful that I can be working out in the morning again. We've been getting up at 5:20 several mornings a week, and going to the gym. I bike for 30 minutes, and then do weight machines and stretching for another 30 minutes. I work up a good sweat and watch the news. Which is ridiculous. Seriously. Last week, Monday-Wednesday, they basically recycled the same 3-4 stories over and over and over again. Sigh... The exercise is helping my knee heal. I feel less stiff in the mornings. Ready to rumble. I'm eager to run and swim again, but I am quite content to pedal away on the stationary and recumbent bikes.

I'm thankful for our new computer. We invested in a 27" iMac for school (and business). The display is huge, the sound is far superior to our old computer, and everything is crisp looking. I love it.

I am thankful for air conditioning. Very thankful! We have had a hot and humid summer, and the AC has saved my sanity.

I'm thankful for friendship and community. Our people have surrounded us with so much love and support, meals and prayers, visits and cards, babysitting and fellowship. I have never felt as cared for by the people of God. It is a very healing situation.



I am thankful to be teaching Sunday School again. I love teaching. I love telling stories. I love interacting with the kids. It's my jam. My goal this year is to dig a bit deeper with my students. Every story in the Bible is there to teach us about God-who He is, what He does, and what His plan is for the world- and to teach us about us-who we are and what God wants us to do. I am going to pick the kids' brain each week to see what they heard from the story along those lines.

I am thankful for sunshine and rain. Both are necessary. Both have had their place this summer.


I am thankful for anniversaries and trips with my husband. I don't take anniversaries for granted. Each year that clicks past represents it unique challenges and rewards. We celebrated our 15th anniversary last month. Since August was a bit booked for us, we are taking 4 days next week to celebrate. I know, I know...we did the cruise for our anniversary. That's what I told Mr. Hippie too. But, thankfully, he overruled my objections, and we are booked to fly to South Carolina, and spend some time in Asheville. Sans offspring. Whoot!

I am thankful for the ability to walk with out crutches or a brace. The ability to walk up and down stairs. Being able to carry things for myself again.

I'm thankful for the ocularist who is making Meres' new eye. And that it will be ready tomorrow. She is always beautiful to me, and she has had no problem with her "pink"eye, but I think we are all excited about the new eye.

I am thankful for campfires. There is nothing to be compared with the scent of burning wood. It speaks autumn to me.

Well, I'm sure I could go on and on for a long while more, but you deserve a medal if you've made it this far.

What would make your thankful list today?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where We've Been, Where We're Headed

Oh.my.word!

It's been almost 2-1/2 months since I've last written here.

School starts tomorrow, and I'm not sure I'm ready. To be perfectly honest, I feel somewhat gipped out of a summer.

We've had a summer to beat all summers. It whipped past in it's urgency. It was survival mode, not thrive mode. Not survival of the fittest, because I sure wouldn't call us the fittest, though we have survived.

Thus far.

By the skin of our teeth. And the grace of God.

A highlight of the summer was hanging out for an entire week with my parents, siblings (8 of us!), spouses (5!), nieces and nephews (12 total, including my kids! Ages ranging from 14 to almost 2.). We borrowed some friends' house in near the beach. We divided bedrooms and living spaces and crammed us all in. We laughed, and ate, and played games, and hung at the beach, and talked, and had a really good time.

Mom and Dad with the grandkids
It was great.

We determined to spend this week together while my mom is still pretty healthy and strong. If you remember, she was diagnosed with ALS at the end of last year. She is doing okay. She is slowly going down hill.

We hired the photographer to document our family. (By the way, all photo credits in this post belong to Josh Rexford. He did an amazing job for my family. Check him out if you live in The Mitten.) We are going to cherish these photos forever.

Time and opportunities are not something you can get back. Once gone, they've slipped past forever.

My parents


If you can remember way back to the last time I wrote, I had mentioned that I had torn my LCL. I was finding out that day what our game plan was going to be.

Well, not only had I torn the LCL, but I also had torn my biceps femoral tendon off the bone in two different places. Talk about a spectacular injury.

The game plan was surgery, on June 29. I have a glorious 6" scar on the outside of my knee, and a graft of some sort inside my knee. I'm not too eager to delve much farther into who or what provided said graft for my healing and wholeness...

The healing process is a long one. I ended up being on crutches for 7-1/2 weeks. I was in a brace for just under 11 weeks-all told. I even got to wear all the way to high heaven compression stockings for the first 2 weeks after surgery. Day and night. Through several of the hottest days of summer. #notMyFavoriteThingEver

I felt free as a bird when I could finally lose my crutches. I can carry things again! Let me tell you, that is a key skill set as a mom. 

I will not run for 6 months from surgery, but I am riding a stationary bike, and using other gym equipment to strengthen my quad muscles and hips and calves and all the other things that have gone to pot in this non-triathlon summer.

I am so thankful for the progress I have made.


Brian and I celebrated our 15th anniversary earlier this month. I am so thankful to have this man to lead me and our family. To partner with me on this road of life. To be my best friend and my lover. He has really stepped up to the plate (and beyond) this summer. As chief cook and bottle washer, nurse, and bread winner. I love him and appreciate him so.



And our kids...



BMV is 14 and will be a freshman (shut up!) starting tomorrow! He is at least 6' tall-taller than me. He is still wearing braces and is still geeked about all things Star Wars and Lego. He has been plunking around on the piano this summer-picking out tunes by ear. He has some peach fuzz coating his chin, and is growing into a man. I really can't believe it.


Freckles is 12, and will be in 7th grade this year. He is an introvert. He paces in our front yard on the berm. Just thinking. I have no idea what about. He loves to visit our local military antique/surplus store. He wore his sailor hat non-stop for months, but I think he has given that up. I think...


Elsie, Elsie. This girl. She is 9, and will be in 4th grade this fall. She loves to read. She read at least 30 books this summer. She almost always is my first kid awake in the morning, and she will be tucked in with a book. She is not a night owl. She is the first one to fall asleep each night. The phrase still waters run deep describes her pretty well. She does not demand attention (unlike a certain someone in our family), but she needs it. And she needs hugs. 


And then Meres. What to say?

Two days before my knee surgery, Meredith was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, pediatric eye cancer. It is a condition that starts in the womb, but then takes a few years to manifest itself-though generally by age 5.

July 11, she had an enucleation of her left eye. (eyeball and optic nerve removed). She currently has a coral globe in her eye that is attached to muscle, with a place holder lens over it. She has been fitted for a prosthetic lens, which will be painted to match her other eye, and will track with her other eye also. She will get this beautiful new eye in another week and a half.

Meredith had an MRI the week of her enucleation. We know from that that all the cancer is out of her head. Her eye socket, right eye and brain are all gloriously clear of cancer.

We also know from 2 pathology reports, that the cancer went up her optic nerve a bit, and quite deep into her eyeball. These 2 circumstances make her more likely to get cancer again somewhere else in her body.

Which is why we made the terribly hard decision to do prophylactic (preventative) chemotherapy.

She will go through 6 treatments (the first of which is already completed!), each running 2 simultaneous days, and about 4 weeks apart. If all goes well, we will be done after the new year.

It is a fairly mild thing, but it is still chemo. And there still are side effects. Nausea, jaw pain, low blood counts.

We are hopeful. The prognosis is 95% no return rate. That is really good. We are choosing to rest in hope. And rest in the grace given for today, and today's joys and challenges.

Pray for Meredith's complete healing.



You know, I love this photo of my siblings and our kids. It is full of joy. Sunshine. Life. 

This has not been an easy summer, and I can't imagine that it is going to be an easy fall. But, once again I'm brought back to our priorities.

God. Marriage. Our kids. Everything else.

And, how can we glorify God through these relationships today? 

I love this photo too. I love my mom. I am so blessed to be her daughter, and to have her example.
Life this fall is going to be pretty bare bones. We are healing. So, we will be doing school, and therapy (physical and chemo-), and blood draws, and I will be cooking (because it is creative and it heals my soul), and we will be attending cancer support groups. All of us.

I will not be cleaning my house. Well, at least not more than a lick and a promise. I have hired on my cleaning team to come every other week for a while. 

We will be digging into Ancient Rome. From the pre-Republic days down to its fall. Whoot-whoot! I am so excited about this! I love learning, and I love teaching. We have lectures on Ancient Roman history, famous Romans, and the Roman emperors. Towards the end of the year we will do a series comparing Greece and Rome. And our fine arts this year is actually focusing on how to look at and appreciate art. 

The boys, in particular, have quite the reading lists. Augustine. Ovid. Gibbons. Josephus. Cicero. Virgil. It is going to be so interesting! At least, I think so. =)


Well, this a nutshell of where we've been and where we're headed. Hopefully I will have time in the near future to write more-about school and maybe about this whole cancer journey and about the faithfulness of God and the love of His people.

But for now, know that the Barefoot Hippies are still here. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blessed Are They That Mourn

Last weekend I was driving through heavy traffic, without the offspring, and thus doing some heavy thinking. And this is the thought (verse) that crossed my mind…

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

You may or may not have heard, but I tore my LCL (lateral collateral ligament) almost 2 weeks ago. I was trucking along on my 7 mile run, with only 1-1/2 miles to go. I tripped on some uneven pavement, flew through the air, and heard a tearing sound. It was not my clothes. Sigh…

In that moment I knew that my summer was going to look drastically different than what I had planned. My summer of triathlon training and races was over.

Just.like.that.

People have told me that I am handling this very well. I’m not not angry. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to heal.

And it is going to take months to heal. Whether rest and then therapy, or surgery and then therapy-we are talking about the long haul. Being pragmatic and hopeful, I’m okay with a season off, if it means that I can run again, and bike again, and swim again.

But, as I sent my husband and Freckles off to my favorite 5k of the summer that Saturday, I was neither pragmatic nor optimistic. I was rather bummed.

Frankly, I was mourning. Mourning the season that should have been. Mourning the (hopefully temporary) loss of my knee function. Mourning my inability to train with my son and husband. Mourning my glorious early morning, sunshiny, quiet, summer bike rides. Mourning the exhilaration that comes from running races well.

Mourning the loss of hopes and dreams and could have beens for this year.

In the depths of my despair (that is totally an exaggeration…) I got a bit vulnerable on FB. Not in a bid for pity, just being real about how I was feeling.

I wanted people to understand that while I am by nature pragmatic, this was throwing me for a loop.

I was mourning.

What I got was understanding by some, and not understanding by some.

My athletic and runner friends got it. They know how I love to run and train and race, because they love it too. We may not totally love every minute of the process, but we love the life style. And an injury puts a stop to that-even if temporarily. My athletic friends chimed in with me too’s.

But, then there were other, well meaning people who said the darnedest things. I wanted space to mourn. I wanted people to see that maybe I wasn’t handling it as well as it looked. I wanted to hear that sucks. What I got was some suck it up-it’s life's. I ended up taking my status down, because I just didn’t want to deal with comments any more.

Maybe (probably) my wants were self-centered. I won’t deny that. Maybe FB is not the best platform for vulnerability.

The whole debacle made me wonder how I deal with people’s mourning.

I think, as Christians, we tend to try to short circuit the mourning process.

We spiritualize and push for the end product, without allowing the process.

I know I’ve been guilty of that. I’m betting we’ve all experienced that.

Once someone said to me, “you have to remember the goal is ____.” And I remember thinking, “I am not to that point yet. I need space to mourn guilt free for what was and what could have been. What was not my fault.” It was a major, life altering circumstance. Even though the person had the best of intentions, it came off as callous and uncaring. Spiritual, but not realistic and rather hurtful.

The contrast, is when we left our church of 13-1/2 years. It had been a grueling year or two. We needed to escape. It was time to leave. Yet, when we left, I was hit by tremendous and unexpected mourning. A friend took time out of her day and called me on the phone and let me mourn. Literally mourn. Tears and snot and all. Mourning the break in relationships. Mourning the wreckage. Mourning the hurts. Mourning the leaving.

Mourning was crucial in the healing process.

In death, we Christians quote the verse…we sorrow not. Instead of facing up to gaping holes left here on earth by the absence of loved ones, we go all spiritual. We comment on God’s will and faithfulness and goodness, and how well someone is handling the death. But, that verse doesn’t say that we don’t sorrow. It says we don’t sorrow in the same way as those who have no hope.

There is still mourning that needs to happen.

Grief over memories not made. Absences at weddings and birthdays and graduations and baptisms and milestones and daily life. Regrets. Hopes and dreams unrealized.

As I thought on the verse, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted, I thought about how we have spiritualized that one too.

We say “Blessed are they that mourn over their sin, for they shall be comforted.

That is certainly one application of that verse. It is not the only application. It is a very narrow application.

The verse just says…blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. No caveats. No amplification.

Why would those who mourn be comforted? Well, because, duh, they need to be comforted.

But, also, those who mourn are being honest with themselves. And with God. And with others.

(When appropriate. Not that we should be dishonest with others. Just that some mourning is more public and some is more private.)

Those who mourn are admitting a loss, a sorrow, a disappointment, a wrong done. They are admitting that we live in a fallen, imperfect world. Where there is sickness and death and loss and injury and sin and consequences.

Those who don’t mourn don’t need comforted.

Except they do.

As long as we have our junk all together, we aren’t mourning and we aren’t being honest and we aren’t being comforted.

Comfort may or may not come from people. Some people treat vulnerability as a weakness to be exploited, as a weapon to use against us. Vulnerable is not something to be with everyone in our lives. FB is not a good platform for vulnerability. At least, not in my experience. Or, at least not at some levels.

But, there are those people in our lives, maybe a handful, maybe a dozen, maybe a couple dozen, who are a safe place. Who treat our vulnerability with compassion. Who weep with us and pray for us. Those are the ones to bare our soul to.

In the scheme of things, a knee is just a knee. A summer is just a summer. Comparatively, it is just

But, it is my just. My reality this summer. It is what God is using to refine me this summer. It is that mourning in my life that God is comforting.

So I can, in turn, comfort others. 



Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Or mourning…

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Only Good Thing About Yesterday

Sigh...

Yesterday morning I woke up early a hotel in Cleveland, a 5 hour drive from my house.

(Incidentally, at which hotel was a fetish/leather/LGBT convention happening. Which is not something you want to wake up to. Nor go to sleep to, for that matter. Inappropriate dress is the mild way to put it. In any other context there would have been arrests made for indecent exposure. And that is not bigoted or exaggerated.)

We got the kids fed and dressed and were on the road before 8:00 in the morning. We had to get back home in time to go to LC's appointment with the pediatric surgeon for the lump in/on her arm. There was a cancellation in the office, and while we had originally planned to stay at the hotel until check out, we decided that getting into the surgeon sooner, rather than later, was the better deal.

We had smooth roads and clean sailing all the way home. We arrived back in town with over 1-1/2 hours to spare.

Time to eat lunch, start laundry, and have the 13 year old split his head open.

Three words...pea sized brain.

Teenagers....

He jumped and hit his head on the beam that runs through our basement. Upstairs, we heard the thump and felt the house shake. We asked what happened, and he said he hit his head, but that he was alright.

Snort....

A couple minutes later he comes up the stairs dripping blood from the top of his head. It was a gusher. Hair soaked with blood. Blood all over his hand.

We put ice on it, and decided to take him to the Urgent Care. I didn't know how we would butterfly it in his hair. I wasn't touching that one.

So, it is 1:40, LC's appointment is at 2:30, and we have one car. I dropped Brian and BMV off at Urgent Care, called the BFF to see if she could watch Freckles and Meres, dropped them off, drove to the appointment, parked, then ran like a crazy woman to the wrong building.

Then ran like a crazy woman, up a hill, to the right building, 2 blocks away. All the time hoping and praying that they wouldn't cancel our appointment because we were late.

I was on the verge-of tears. Panic. Cray-zay-ness.

Moral of LC's story/appointment is that she has a pilomatrixoma. It is probably the result of some trauma to her upper arm that no one can remember. It is scar tissue that won't go away on its own, and will probably grow until it is removed. She is having out patient surgery tomorrow. No biggie.

Sigh...

Yes. I did a lot of that yesterday afternoon. Deep "cleansing" breaths...Snort.

We got home, and I had insurance paperwork to do for all my kids. By dinner time I was all wrung out. My shoulders were stiff, and I felt like an emotional wreck. Like I was going to cry if I thought too much about anything.

I said to Brian...

"the only good thing about today is that we got home safe from Cleveland, and that there was no traffic to speak of."

Oh yes....

...and BMV didn't break his neck when he jumped and hit his head (he hit that beam that hard)

...and my kids (all four of them) had just been approved for insurance just last week.

...and Brian made dinner so I didn't have to.

...and the cleaners came while we were still gone yesterday morning, so my house smelled and looked clean when I walked in. (and now I don't have to worry about cleaning in the midst of traveling, working and doctor's appointments)

...and LC had a good diagnosis from the surgeon and got booked for surgery this week.

....and we got a check in the mail.

...and we had friends praying for us while we were neck deep in staples and blood and appointments.

...and the BFF was able to watch Freckles and Meres at the drop of a hat so neither had to be hauled to either place.

...and I got to have a 5 hour long road trip with my husband, which means 5 hours of good conversation.

...and the pediatrician office staff showed me grace for running late.

...and I tucked into my own bed last night, with my own husband.

Yeah, when I stop to think about it, that is quite a few good things.

I keep going back to that verse...the joy of the Lord is your strength. Obviously, a lot went wrong yesterday, but focusing on all that just pulls me down. Focusing on the good, choosing joy, lifts up my soul.


The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning, it's time to sing your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul...