Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Losing my mom (part 1)

Through out my life loss has been a theme. First it was observing abuse, then it was experiencing abuse, then it was more real through my parent's divorce, then one summer losing friends through a vehicle accident, and grandparents passing on top of that. But nothing could have prepared me for losing my mom. I know the veil is thin, she is dancing before the throne, and one day again we will be together but for now she is gone and this has been the most painful loss of all. 

In a month it will be 10 years since a car accident took my mom from this earth and I am thankful for the time which has healed more than I know but it doesn't seem like that long at all. The months leading up to her accident I was home on furlough from being a full time missionary overseas working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). So we had been spending almost all of that time together until just a week before the accident. My stepdad, mom, and I even went on a cruise to the Carribean for six days when I landed in the US from being gone for two whole years. My mom could not wait to see me and drove straight down to Texas to meet me a whole night before she was supposed to! I have pictures of her face when she saw me for the first time in two years! If anyone knew her they can imagine what she would do to see her "baby girl!" 
Vacation together! 

My mom was a tenacious lover of people! Especially her kids! During the four years I spent in missions she would always find a way to call me, no matter the nation I was in! And packages would appear at the host homes even in South Africa I got hot chocolate and Reece's Peanut Butter cups!! She was a force to be reckoned with, a Momma with a burning heart for Jesus! After the cruise she instantly wanted to find a church to go to. Although I also love Jesus I told her no, "no mom, we are not going to go to church today, we are going to get off of this huge boat, find something to eat, and make it to Wichita before dark!" I probably broke a piece of her heart but she said okay, this woman loved to worship and be at church! She loved to go wherever we were, whenever she could! And that was where she was the night she died. She had just left a church meeting in Hoxie, Kansas and was headed home to Atwood when the driver of another car drove through a highway stop-sign and T-boned her car, killing her almost instantly. And in that moment, at 50 years old, she was living her biggest dream and that was to see the face of Jesus, her beloved one! 

I know so often when we lose someone we can blow out of proportion the "amazingness" of the one we lose. I do that sometimes and then I remember that she also used to drive me crazy lol! But I can not exaggerate how my mom loved the Lord. That would never be possible! She set a precedent for me that I am not even sure I would know how to surpass and I am okay with that. She journaled daily and poured her heart out to God constantly. She was a prayer away from Him and dialed in more often than I could know. She studied the word, constantly listened to teachings, and worship, at church, at a bible study, or a conference. Why does all this matter? Because I have met many people who teach how to be a tenacious lover of Jesus and I know few who do it on a daily basis like my mom did! And it matters even more because this is my inheritance! She paved a way for me and for my children to walk in love and with an un-offended heart! This is gold in my book! 

Oh the banana cake!! 
Okay deep breath. My mom loved Hawaiian banana bread with lots of cream cheese frosting. We went on a road trip together during my break and she frosted the muffins she had made and put them in a zip lock bag and of course that meant every time she or I wanted one she would have to reach her hand in and get covered in frosting. This did not hurt her feelings at all, we were laughing hysterically about this one and I got some cute pictures too! My mom's eyes smiled, there was joy about her that was contagious yet a depth of pain and suffering that she had walked through in her life that made it more than happiness. She was truly joyful, and believed the best about people and circumstances even in the face of adversity. I think she honestly taught me how to grieve even before I had to grieve losing her. She would feel it and let it happen to her, I was a runner and just wanted it to go away and everything to be better or the same again! But this time I didn't have a choice. 

Selfie on the cruise before selfies were cool!
Grief is a crazy thing! I was only 25 when I lost my mom and so there is so much of my life since then that I have lived without her. A void that was left and not filled honestly until I got married two years ago. My husband obviously didn't become my mom or something but our union healed so much of the pain of loss that I lived with for the 8 years. I know there are many books on grieving, but most people that I share my experience with mention that I should teach on it. I had a friend who lost a child ask me for my story three years ago but until now I am not sure if I could have written any of this. I have beat myself up and said I should have done a grief group or counseling or something, anything. Within the weeks and months after the accident the one thing I felt to do was sing. That was the most painful thing I could have thought about doing. Seems easy. But for a singer. No way. And to sing to God. To worship, to surrender. Or to write a song that would put words to the pain that I was in. That seemed impossible for sure. I was so lost, (not unsaved, just in a fog) and the pain was as if I had been snapped in half. It was the most dehabilitating experience of my life. My heart felt like it was literally broken, like physically something was wrong with me. I cried and cried and cried and cried, and when it felt like I had no more tears left I cried some more. And it wasn't just hysterical crying, it was deep groans almost screaming from the inside out. I was crushed and I didn't know what to do. 

But I obeyed, I sang. I had a picture of the ocean crashing wave upon wave on the shore. I had just spent a lot of time in the ocean the years prior so I knew what it was like to be in them. Often the waves would catch me just right and suck me under flipping me in the water and spit me on the shore. It was definitely overwhelming but not really that big of a deal once it was over most times. This is how the Holy Spirit explained my grief to me. It was like a wave that I was running from but once I let it hit me and let the tears and cries out then it was better after that. The scripture He would bring to me day after day was Psalm 30:5 "weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." The picture of the wave crashing over me but then it was over. The joy came. And I didn't usually have to wait until the morning, within a short time of releases those tears I would feel the release and relief of the sorrow in my heart. I think this process kept me from becoming angry. During this time I wrote several songs about my grief and my loss. Singing, although it was extremely painful, was so helpful as well. And writing has always been an outlet for me. I would always know when I was dealing with some of the deep things when my journal was silent for a season. A season without words or sometimes even songs. At first I was worried that I was depressed but I clung to the thought that God knew my thoughts from afar and he wasn't worried at all. I tried to go back to normal, whatever that was, but for a few years I was searching, searching for home I guess. Grief is intense and everyone's experience with it is different, yet I have met several people that resonate with my experience. Giving grief a voice and a place in my life has been so helpful as I process my story.  

I am so thankful that God gave me a mom like Connie Sue! She was and still is a gift to me! I cherish the years I got with her and of course would give anything to have more years! But I have a peace within me about it, I still have tears, and I even have a few regrets. Nothing that a little song can't fix.

I love you mom,
your baby girl!
First time seeing mom after two years!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I am a mom

These past two years have flown by...marriage, baby David, and now we wait for baby boy #2 to come in July and we are so excited! Right now life is full of sticks, dirt, discovery, and all things outside! David runs to the door in his pjs and proclaims "ouudide" which as I translate is "come on momma lets go OUTSIDE!" There is so much to explore, discover, and experience that he can hardly contain himself much less focus to get clothes and shoes on so we can get outside! But I love it, I love the determination in his eyes and the passion for all things boy! I think my favorite part is that he does it without being told! What dirt... this must go on my head, in my clothes, in my mouth, and down my shoes! I was worried that our backyard would fall short with our kiddos because we haven't purchased any swing sets or even small slide/play house things yet. But today I watch him sit in a pile of dirt with his shovel and play for over ten minutes and then proceed to the strawberry patch to fiddle with something for another ten minutes. I just let him wonder around and I sighed with relief, "yep this will do just fine!"

So I am a mom. I know I am kind of late to the party since I am already pregnant with number two but something has happened in my heart since David started walking, talking, and participating more in our lives. I have been a mom since conception but I have become a mom this past year and its done something to my heart that made me step back and realize "wow, now I am a mom!" I can't wait to meet number two but of course I am having those thoughts of "how can you love another?" and "how can you not?" and "seriously this is crazy! two under two!" and "I am so excited I need this pregnancy to hurry hurry up!" and then I look at David growing and growing and exclaim "SLOW DOWN!!!!! Ahhh!"  I am sure someone can relate right? LOL! Anyways all of these thoughts make it official! "I am a mom!" Including the constant search for his next wardrobe, great deals on diapers, toys, and all things kids! I have always been a shopper but being a mom takes it to another level and I am sorry but not all consignment sales are created equal and I can't wait to go to one that exceeds my expectations! So far, not so much!

So all that being said I am living my dream! Married by 33 and a momma by 34!! I have such a grateful heart and the wait was totally worth it although at times I wasn't so patient. Waiting is not easy but that is a post for another day! For now I am just going to savor these days, that is the advice I have received from every single 50 plus parent/grandparent! I am going to enjoy them like they are ending tomorrow and seriously thank God for each and every day! I know to do it because honestly it is already going too fast! And I am learning to have a single focus even if that means saying no the "good" things so I can say YES wholeheartedly to motherhood. I "get to" in this season and I know that it is how I can give my heart fully to the Lord right now! It took me a minute to figure all of that out, which makes sense since I came out of 12 plus years of full time ministry with a very loaded schedule. So for a bit I wasn't sure what this season was supposed to look like BUT now I have a vision and I am giving it all I have.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6


Friday, January 1, 2016

15 Minute Journals

So being a new mom at first I thought I would never get to use two hands again at the same time. A little dramatic but it felt very true. Now that I am three months plus into the thick of this I have come up for air a few times and even found my journal! I love writing out my thoughts, even while Stephen and I were dating I wrote after every single one of our dates! I have those precious thoughts to hold onto and go back and cherish. So now I realize I have almost nothing from these past three months as far as journals or thoughts to put together as sentences.

A few years ago when I was doing some more research on grief and counseling I found this author, Susan Zimmerman, and her book on grief, "Writing to heal the soul."


Ha! I just found the beginnings of this sweet little blog post! I love love love that its from over 9 months ago and yet its so applicable to my new rhythm of mom-life and not to mention today is New Year's Day, so we might as well put a new stake in the ground for journalling! In the book I talk about above she gives questions to answer about grief and life and then encourages you to write for 15 minutes without stopping! It's such a great exercise and you would be surprised how much you can say and how refreshing it is to do! Sometimes I will do it on the laptop when I have a lot of "beans" to spill and sometimes on my pen and paper! My mother would journal on anything that had a little white margin or space on it! I would find her church bulletins full of her "Dear Lord Jesus" journal entries! I guess the point is... write, write, write! You would be surprised how much it will clear your head, calm the drama, fill your heart with hope, and cause you to soar in this new year! Even as a mom I can do a lot of things in 15 minutes! Well at least during nap time I can. So here I go again, committing to my 15 minutes, however I can get it done! I will pour out my soul and watch my heart soar!