Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Live Life the Real Way

We just returned from a family vacation to Crivitz, WI; an old-time favorite of ours. We purposely picked our vacation this year to be "up north" in a cute, secluded cottage on a lake away from all the craziness of life. We wanted time together as a family of five, especially knowing that Matthew turns 18 in October; time is of the essence. I watched a video on Facebook right before leaving for our trip that was so applicable to what I was after. It left me speechless. It opened my eyes, as I hope it does yours. I was challenged to think about things differently in a big way. I hope you take the time to watch this video and enjoy! Click here to watch.

Wow!...powerful, I know.

So I wanted to get the kids (and me!) away from all of the "technology" and spend our time doing something more know- playing board games, fishing, reading a book, etc. I was interested to see how they'd manage with limited cell phone reception and having to relate to and hangout with 'just' their siblings. Time that is priceless, which they can't understand until they are much older.

When I planned the trip in January, I heard nothing but complaints about the lack of "WI-Fi" in the cottage. I clearly remember chuckling to myself and thinking, "Ha! This should be interesting." I almost cancelled the trip, but 'knew' I needed to let it be. Both Mark and I agreed that it'd be a good thing for them to get "bored."

The first full day of the trip both Mark and I were thinking that this might end up being a long week for our kids without the constant stimulation. What I am guilty of falling into as well. I can barely keep up with the variety of social media outlets my kids are on-Twitter; Snap Chat; Instagram; Skype...Huh?! Oh my!!

So by day three, I am happy to report that the kids had chess competitions over & over, and I could hear laughing and giggling as they wrestled in the living room. I caught myself smiling, and my heart filling with joy; saying Thank you, Jesus.

The kids put their phones down (for a little while!) and took advantage of the rowboat, fishing, kayaks and paddle boats. Luke helped Mark build a fire. Matthew fished; Megan kayaked across the lake. All that I hoped they would do.

On our last day, we took a whitewater rafting trip down the Menominee River. We never did it before, so we were all a little anxious; we didn't know what to expect. Naturally, I couldn't take my phone or camera with me on the trip, and I expressed my disappointment to the tour guide. This young guy all of 25 years of age shared this wisdom with me, "That's okay. The picture is in your mind."

I'd say that's living life the real way.

Although I had watched the video and set a goal to not constantly be ''checking my phone,' I found myself in the "habit" of doing it. I caught Mark doing it, too. I personally wanted an all-out-break from it all but checked email once in the morning for anything work-related. Unfortunately, I came home to 630-spam emails to filter through...ugh!

So one day during the week I couldn't get any cell phone reception on my phone. I didn't care and was happy to have a day away from it. The kids would've freaked out! I remembered the video from Facebook. I knew I was being challenged to give my life attention and set the phone aside (I had to grab my camera though!). To Live Life the Real Way, as the guy said in the video. It was what I needed to learn and what I wanted to teach my kids. To learn this truth and live it out. I knew how fast time flew by, and didn't want to miss a thing.

What I captured, instead, on the day when I set my phone down were priceless, irreplaceable memories~and SO worth it!

I had a splashing war with Luke and finally dunked him :) ... 

I watched my children and their father play together in the water...

I stopped and smelled the daisies...

I saw my kids playing a board game!...

I watched Luke eat an ice cream cone one lick at a time...

I saw Megan feed and touch a giraffe for the first time...

I took in Matthew's thrill in jumping off the cliff...

I allowed myself to be "goofy" with Luke...

 I enjoyed the stillness & peace & giving thanks for all that I had been given...

I hope my children look back one day on this trip and use the word "bored" when telling the story. I also hope they use the word thankful. Because if they do, I will know I did my job right :) I don't want to miss a thing, do you?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pain Demands to be Felt

I first heard this quote, "Pain demands to be felt" when I watched a movie called The Fault in Our Stars. It just jumped out at me & hit that heart spot. It stopped me dead in my tracks because it was what I really needed to hear at that time. I simply love quotes like this!! So deep and meaningful, yet so simple. I tried to read the book; however, I 'knew' it wasn't going to have a happy ending, so I put it down. Then, Megan talked me into seeing the movie....okay- good Mom/Daughter time, so I went, but I left the movie with a tear-stained face and a heavy heart. The lesson of 'it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all' didn't seem to help.

This quote has stuck with me. It reminds me of the stages of grief and how you have to go through it in order to get to the other side. The side of acceptance. I like to call this freedom.

I have experienced this in my life in recent months with a friendship that I treasured. It hasn't been pretty, and it sure hasn't been easy, but it is what it is. I  am reminded of the Serenity Prayer, my sister's favorite. It is one that I have memorized. Have you read it? It sure is powerful & if applied, freeing.

Why is it to hard to accept the things we cannot change? And why is it so hard to have the courage to know the difference? Sometimes it is hard to even know the difference.

"Pain demands to be felt." We try to ignore it and make it go away. So we must feel it. Some run it out; some immerse themselves in family, work and activities. Some soothe it with food or drink or the arms of someone else. It is all about the means of trying to forget the pain gnawing at you so you try to push it into a deep place where it won't be felt. We try to numb it, but the pain keeps on popping up. There is always a reminder of what is there.

It doesn't go away until you allow the only One who can heal it to do so.

For as beautiful and awesome as my life is right now, I feel enormous pain over the loss of this friendship. The aching hole in my heart because she isn't in my life is a constant. I try to ignore the pain. I try to focus on all that is wonderful in my life and the good memories. I will mourn the loss and feel the pain so I can be free of this nagging ache in my soul.

The pain has to be confronted, embraced and dealt with. I know this to be true. Ignoring it only puts off the inevitable, and that destroys us and others in the process. I will get by as I always do, and so will you.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Enduring Loss

Thirteen years ago today our lives changed forever. It feels like a lifetime ago, yet it feels just like yesterday. In the early morning hours of July 4, 2001 Mark and I went to the hospital expecting our baby girl to be born, but instead we walked straight into our worst nightmare coming true. The doctors liken Emily's death to SIDS as they found no cause of death. We left the hospital that day without our baby. It was devastating beyond what words can express.

Every year on this day I read through Emily's "memory box." It is filled with all of the cards people sent us, pictures of her, a snippet of her hair, a letter from me and her birth certificate with her footprints on it. I need to do this every year because it is healing. It is how I continue to heal, and I let the tears flow.

Maybe this year is more difficult than last because she would've been a teenager. I think of the birthday party we would've thrown for her. I imagine what she would've looked like. I wonder what her personality would be like. Instead, today we will visit her grave as we do every year. We will release balloons that I know she's waiting anxiously to catch, and we will place roses on her grave and remember.

Tonight when the fireworks are blasting high up in the sky with all their beautiful colors, I will be imagining Emily in heaven looking down on the spectacular show. I will say Happy Birthday sweetheart, and let the tears run down my face smudging my makeup. I will imagine her smile, and I will keep that picture in my mind close to my heart.

The truth is that I really, really miss her. In the years since her death, I have reached out to others who have had similar losses. This helps me heal and endure, too. I remember the friends I've made along this journey who had done the same for me. The thing is, I don't even have the "right" words to say because there really are no words sometimes. I tell people that they aren't alone, and I understand. I tell them that each day will get easier because it does. I tell them to never lose faith in God because He is the one who will carry them through it.

I know full well I will live with this ache in my heart the rest of my life until we meet again. It's a process of trusting that God is good no matter what. It is learning to live with no answer to my question of why? What helps me endure this loss is heart full of joy and thankfulness for the 3 beautiful, healthy children I do have. My mind immediately shifts to the two friends I have who would do anything to conceive a child. I know and understand full well all that I have to be thankful for, including Emily's life. 

In the meantime, I choose to focus on the good that I have seen come from her life and death. I will give thanks for the time I had with her, and I will continue to praise the One who chose me to carry her. If you'd like to read more about Emily's story please click here. My friend wrote a blog post giving tribute to our baby girl. It is so worth reading.