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I can’t believe it! 30!! Today you would be 30 years old!

I wish I could say today is a “Happy Birthday” kind of day. But to be completely honest…it’s not. It is grey…cloudy…and I just don’t feel “happy”. I am trying hard to wrap my brain around today being your 30th birthday. It is so hard to imagine celebrating you as a man…. because I never knew you as anything more than a sweet boy. You are my sweet Caby-Baby! You will forever be 8 in my mind…because my mind can’t seem to imagine what you’d be like as anything older than that. I’ve celebrated 22 of these days without you here…and honestly…it hasn’t gotten any easier.

My memories of you are still so vivid. Your silly-yet-serious way of living life! That is what I remember most! You had this way about you…so matter-of-fact…yet so silly at the same time! Man…I miss that. My heart literally aches right now as I picture your smile in my head….as I remember your voice and can imagine hearing your silly laugh as I close my eyes. I long to feel what it was like to embrace you for one more time. I remember you were not too cuddly…unless it was on your terms and your time! You were in constant movement..unless playing video games or reading…and then…it was hard to get your attention because you were so engrossed in what you were doing!

I wish I had more memories with you. Eight years isn’t enough.

You are my baby…even though I had more kids…you’re still my baby. Your baby sister is driving…and we went to a concert together last night! Such fun memories I’m trying to create…with her and your brother… But each time I create a new memory with them…I think of you and your brothers…and wish I had some of those with you. I feel robbed of the good, the bad…and have no idea what any of it would have looked like!

I may not feel “happy” today…but what I can say, sweet boy…is I have JOY. I have joy in the blessing of being your mom. I have joy in the wonderful times we did have and share together. I have joy in knowing where you are. I have joy in knowing you are loved. I have joy in knowing I’ll join you for eternity and we will never be separated again. I have joy in your brother and sister whom God gifted to me after you were gone. I have joy in living the life I have left here and knowing that is what you would want for me.

I don’t always have “happy”….but I do choose to always find JOY!

You…my sweet boy…brought joy and silliness into my world. I get so caught up with the difficulty of life…that remembering you….actually helps me to lighten up….be silly sometimes…and then be serious again. You taught me to live in a different way…a better way. You taught me love…and laughter…in your short eight years. For all of that…I am thankful.

My heart aches and misses you…but it also smiles as it remembers you. Your 8 years of life…filled me with love to last my lifetime.

Happy 30th Birthday Caleb Harrison! Thank you for the way you lived those 8 years here on earth with me! I can’t wait…to spend eternity with your smiling face!

Until then….sweet boy…all my love!

~momma

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Happy Birthday in Heaven!

Today would be my sweet Cory’s 32nd Birthday! It’s hard to believe. That is a man’s birthday…but he will always be my sweet boy! Forever 10…..forever that sweet smiling face! I haven’t been able to sleep….thinking of you….wondering about what your life would have been like.

I wonder….

Would you have been an actor? I remember you telling me when they were starting to look for the second “Home Alone” movie starring role…you told me, “Just get me to Hollywood mom. I’m their guy!”. And…you TOTALLY believed it too! This makes me smile even now! Your confidence was off the chart and I know you probably could have been right!

Would you be singing? Maybe famous for that angelic voice? You loved to sing….I mean, LOVED to sing! I’d like to think you’d be a worship artist and touring with a band….bringing praises to God through your songs! Helping others worship…..singing along with you!

Would you be a doctor? You were so smart…without even having to try! You had a passion for learning and loved helping people!

Would you be married? Single? Have kids? All things I’ll never know.

What I do know is you cram-packed a whole lot of life into 10 short years! You LIVED every moment you were here! You smiled…ALL.THE.TIME! You loved on others and helped those who needed it! I’ll never forget going to a parent/teacher meeting and your teacher telling me of a sweet moment between you and another student. You weren’t finished with your assignment when you noticed another kid struggling to understand. I don’t know how you knew…but you did. She said she watched you….get up and go to this student and put your hand on their shoulder and comfort them, encourage them and then help them understand it in a way they could continue with the assignment on their own. She said not once did you do it for them…but instead…you taught them in the way they needed to understand it. She said you then went back to your seat…you glanced over at her…and saw she was watching. She said you just grinned and picked up your pencil and finished your own work. She was amazed. I cried then and I’m crying now.

That was your heart! That was just who you were! I was so proud of you! I still am! I try to remember these little things and honestly….strive to live out my life in the same way!

One of my favorite things about you is the way you loved! Even the way you loved me! You were my child who always had to “tag up”! This part about you is something that I miss. You were confident and loving. But you loved your momma! You would fall asleep in my lap and I’d have to carry your long, lanky self to bed….even still in 4th grade!! But if I was ever gone for an evening….or you were just needing some extra reassurance…you’d always come and climb into bed with me. You weren’t a cuddler…you’d stay on the edge of the other side….but your foot would ALWAYS slide over to my side until it was touching me. You’d always “tag up” and make sure I was there. It was as if…..as long as you could just touch me….you were okay. How I miss your touch!

Tears have fallen a lot lately in missing you and your brothers! You would not believe the support…the love…of others! I opened my facebook and was reminded of the ones who wore red on your 30th birthday to show you love! The ones who remember you….that to this day…think of you so often! Your 10 years on earth were short….but impactful! This is the 22nd birthday I’ve had to celebrate without you…without your touch!

What I wouldn’t give for you to tag up again! To feel you….to see your smile in person and not just in my dreams. Oh…how I love you son! How proud I am of you!

In “wondering”….I am reminded of the truth.

The truth is….you ARE a star! You ARE a worship singer! You are “tagging up” still…..it’s just with Jesus! I know your voice was added to the choir to praise God on the day you went to heaven! I know you do nothing but smile every single moment! I know you still care for others and bring joy in every possible way! I know, for you, it has been but a moment since you arrived to the most beautiful place!

But for me…it’s been 22 birthdays without you! It hurts…and there are still tears. One of the first things I did this morning was go to find scriptures to comfort my hurting heart. It’s amazing…how heartache can become physical pain. Like…my heart literally hurts. My throat burns as hot tears roll down my cheeks. I feel like I can’t catch my breath…because taking another breath…living more days without you…just hurts too much sometimes.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:4

How I long for this! But for now…I’m comforted in knowing this is what YOU get to experience! I remember having the Point of Grace song, No More Pain, sang at your funeral. Just for you…yes…P.O.G!! ;). But for the gentle reminder of what you were experiencing…to help soothe so many hearts.

Today…I’ll celebrate you! I’ll celebrate who you were….and try to live up to how you lived your life! Sweet boy….I can’t put into words how blessed I am to be your momma. I can’t begin to tell you what the ten years with you have done to change my life….for the better! It wasn’t long enough…at all! But I’m so thankful to look forward to my eternity with you! I can’t wait to join the choir WITH YOU! I can’t wait to see your smile shining again! I’m the one….who can’t wait to TAG UP….one more time!

Until then….sweet Cory….I’ll be here….living….because that is what you’d tell me to do! All my love and hugs and kisses!

~momma

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CRACKED!!!

Do you ever feel like you are just broken? Like the cracks in your life are just too much to mend? I totally get it!

But let me share with you something….

You see….

What I’ve come to realize is that it is through the cracks…..God’s light shines the brightest! You heard me right….I think God’s light shines brightest through the cracks of our hardest times….when we allow others to see us in our true beauty. Cracks and ALL!! This is where He shines.

Think about it for a minute.

Go ahead, close your eyes..no wait…you can’t read with your eyes closed! Okay….just read and imagine what I’m saying!

Take a large vase that is pretty thick skinned….and solid. Brand new! NO CRACKS! Can you picture it? It is dark blue! (Why? I don’t know…I just like blue!) This is the vase you’ve been searching for. There are 2 of these vases on the shelf. You see this one and as you pick it up and turn it around…you see a large crack going right up the side of it! This is NOT what you wanted….not what you pictured! This just won’t do! I mean, I’m not getting THIS vase! And if I did….I CERTAINLY wouldn’t pay full price for it! I mean……it’s DAMAGED!

Are you with me? Can you imagine yourself with this vase? Ok…let’s keep going.

Behind the vase is another one just like it….so you pick it up. It’s PERFECT! No cracks at all! This is what you wanted. This is better. I mean, I didn’t come all this way for something with a CRACK! That is imperfect! I ONLY want perfect things around me!

So….are you following me? Well…let’s keep going.

This vase…this perfect one is the one I’m going to get. I take it home….but this vase isn’t one for flowers. I’m making a lamp out of this one. But as I assemble the pieces….I take the light bulb and place it into the vase…. Yup! Perfection! It fits exactly the way I knew it would. So I continue….this is going to be beautiful and just what I wanted. I continue and get the cord and fitting into the small hole I’ve made in the bottom (with no cracks, I might add) and so it is in place. I screw in the light bulb….and here we go!

I flip the switch….and….the light bulb lights up….but I can’t really see it. There is no light shining through. The beautifully perfect, thick skinned vase…just won’t allow the light to go through it. (Are you still with me? Did your light bulb go off too??)

But…If I had gotten the cracked one…that crack…..that imperfection….would have “perfectly” let the light shine through.

Ok…you see…sometimes we want the perfect. But in God’s plan…our perfection…isn’t always the same as HIS! And His is the best kind of perfection. What we “perceive” as perfect….isn’t always REAL! Like “Fakebook” and “Instaglam”….we see what others want us to see! We see filtered…not real. We see their highlights and don’t get all the behind the scenes yuck! But, this is what we begin to strive for….what we think we are supposed to look like.

What I love seeing is the real….the raw….the messy and the imperfect. Because this is where we see God. When others are real….we don’t feel so much like an island. We don’t feel like we are the only one with this flaw….or the only one going through something tough.

But even better….when we allow God to heal our “cracks”….or where we try to see God in the midst of our cracks…..He shines through those places and OTHERS see Him……so much more vividly. Because they see we aren’t “perfect Christians” who don’t NEED our God. They see us struggling, but they see us seeking Him, what He wants us to learn in this situation….or maybe the fact that we get mad, get frustrated and cry out to Him….. They see us being REAL with Him. And….when they see us in these situations…..yet still loving and trusting Him….they want MORE of HIM who gives us peace.

I see this in the lives of so many I get to call friend. They are suffering, yet they seek Him…and are so public about it! It AMAZES ME! I’m in awe of how real, how raw they are….and how in the midst of their sorrows, they are CONSTANTLY pointing others to Jesus! This my friend….is how we are reaching the world. Not by portraying perfection…but instead, by showing others our cracks and imperfections….our sorrows and our weaknesses!

Let’s go back to that vase for a minute……I was preparing years ago to speak to a group and the theme was taking broken things and making them beautiful. In my praying and researching, I found the art of Kintsukuroi. This is where a broken piece of pottery is mended…using fine metals like silver and gold. The cracks are very visible. And yet, now, this piece of pottery is MORE VALUABLE as a broken piece than the original, perfect piece would be!

This is how God sees us! We are valuable to Him….we are chosen and mended by Him! We are worth more than gold and rubies and pearls! He sees our imperfections and wants to heal them. Then….each one is a reminder of a time when He carried us through…a scar to remind us how He has a plan for us…not to harm us…but to prosper us! Each scar is a crack He has mended and when we share with others how He walked us through…we lead others to HIM!

This my friends….is part of what I talk about when I talk about my two worlds colliding!

Do I wish I had my boys here with me today! You bet! But would I have the family, the faith, the testimony with that changed situation? I don’t know. I would love to say “YES!”….but the truth is…I just don’t know.

Do I love living my life now with the people I have surrounding me? Of course! But do I miss the “What would’ve been/what could’ve been” with the people from my life before? Yes….I truly do.

Life is hard. Life is messy. So, let’s be real…. We ALL struggle. Sometimes….more than others. Some people…more than others. But none of us, not one, is perfect. Only Jesus. I’m learning the more I know about myself, the more I need HIM!

I want life. Yes…I’d love a less messy, less tragic, easy-button life. But, that isn’t what He wrote out for my life. To be real and honest…it ins’t what He wrote out for any of us!

What He did write…is HOPE. Hope in Him…Hope in being real….Hope in others who have cracks…loving us through our own….Hope in knowing our eternity isn’t messy…isn’t painful…isn’t imperfect! I choose HOPE! I choose JOY! I choose messy now….with mended parts… so that I can reunited with those I miss….be healed of every heartache and pain…and get to see Him…the one who carried me through it ALL…face to face…for eternity!

This, my friends…is what I want for all of you!

Many prayers…much love….and totally cracked! ~c

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Again, my two worlds collide. Today would be birthday #33 for my sweet boy! Yes, 33 years ago Cody Brian made me a momma for the first time! I remember it all very vividly, as if it were yesterday.

But other numbers also come into play on days like today.

Numbers like 11. Cody will forever be 11. My sweet angel only had 11 earthly birthdays. So even though I would be the momma of a 33 year old man today….I can only see or remember him as an 11 year old boy.

#22. This is how many birthdays I’ve had to “celebrate” on this earth without him. 22!!! That is twice as many as the number I had him here with me! This is a difficult realization. This is where it just is hard.

I say, a LOT, that my two worlds collide. In my last post I talked about how it is different than some people think. Let me share something that I heard recently that has really resonated with me.

A few weeks back I happened onto a radio station at the end of a story. I don’t remember who or what…so I can’t give them proper credit…but I truly believe what they were saying. I heard them talking about grief…..and joy. They seem to be two polar opposite feelings….and so it is hard for people to fathom that I can live with both…much less let them coexist in my life. But the way I heard it explained made perfect sense to me.

You see…I grew up a dancer…and I know that sometimes when you put partners together…they don’t always seem to “fit”. But when they learn to allow each other the space needed….they start to move together gracefully. They begin to fit in a way you never thought possible.

This is joy and grief. You have to learn to allow them to be dance partners in your life. This visual for me represents my week! This week I am going through the grief of not having my son, Cody, here with me. His birthday is difficult because I don’t know the 33 year old man I should be celebrating…I only know the 11 year old child he was when I lost him. This is grief. But this week is also my son, Bryce’s, high school graduation. I am preparing my home to have guests coming into town to celebrate him and his accomplishments. JOY!

So, this week is full of JOY….intertwined and mixed with….GRIEF. Over the past 21+ years, I’ve learned to let them dance together. I’ve learned to allow myself to feel joy….even when it seems like I should be full of grief. I’ve learned to allow myself to feel whatever feeling is inside me….and work my way through it….so that JOY…is what I end up with.

GRIEF….can now turn to JOY! What do I mean when I say this? I mean, that even though my arms ache to hold my children…..even though I can’t imagine what they would look like now, what they would be doing in life….or any of those things….JOY…comes in the many wonderful memories I have of them! And then….even more JOY arises from knowing I will get to spend eternity with them! I have HOPE….and in that HOPE….JOY arises!

I miss this boy. I miss him more than words can say….or you could possibly imagine. I’m not trying to say I haven’t cried…more tears than I can count…or that I’m always smiling. What I am saying though….is I know where Cody is. I know he is experiencing true love….and none of the sorrow I have. I know where he is…because I know he put his trust in Jesus! And I know, because of the promise of the cross…I WILL see him again!

Happy birthday sweet boy! I celebrate you today! The 11 years you were with me has helped make me who I am today. You made me a momma first. You were my protector first. You had a smile I will never be able to forget. You, held my heart…and will continue to have it…until I take my last breath.

Until we meet again, my sweet 11 year old angel. I will love you forever… ~momma

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Well….it happened. Last Friday night my sweet rainbow baby graduated from college with his associates degree….. THREE WEEKS BEFORE HE GRADUATES FROM HIGH SCHOOL!

So yes….the tears are flowing…the proud momma heart is beating strong….and my two worlds are definitely colliding!!! But let me share something with you about how this has been a different type of event!

You see….I’ve known this was coming. I’ve known his plans were to get his associates and high school diplomas all in the same month. I’ve known for over 2 years. I have had time to prepare my heart! I have had time to watch him grow. I’ve watched him struggle. I’ve watched him overcome obstacles. I’ve held him while he has cried and hurt….. and I’ve high-fived him when he has had major successes! There has been a lot happen in this past couple years…and it is all his.

When I say my two worlds are colliding….they are…but it isn’t what some people might think.

Some people think when I say that my two worlds are colliding…..I mean that as I’m watching him go through these major hurdles and major accomplishments in life…I’m also, at the same time, trying to imagine each of his brothers going through the same hurdles and accomplishments. They think I try to place each of them where he is….or what he is going through.

That couldn’t be further from the truth!

And it takes me back to over 18 years ago on the day he was to be born.

On the day he was to enter the world…I had just been told he would have to arrive by c-section. I was scared….crying…and feeling like I was robbing his dad of the experience of a natural birth. I was feeling like somehow I was failing. Through all of that emotion…my sister, in her wisest 23 year old voice…told me the following….

“Cheli….God is giving you the gift of another son. He is allowing you to finish what you never finished with the boys. BUT…..(and this is what I want you to pay attention to)..God is bringing this son into the world in a completely different way than his brothers! He is doing this….so that FROM THE VERY BEGINNING….. you will NEVER be able to compare them!!! This son, will have his very own experiences in life…..FROM THE BEGINNING!”

And this has been true ever since that day!

You see…Friday night….I was so focused on what he was accomplishing….on HIM…I didn’t even think of the boys in a “this is what they missed” way…! I didn’t think of the graduations I’ve missed out on since they weren’t here….. I didn’t go there…AT ALL! All I could do was smile…and be proud of HIS accomplishment!! All I could think of was HIM!! The tears I’ve shed haven’t been in the “look at all I’ve missed” realm…but instead in the “I am so stinking proud of this child and LOOK AT WHAT HE HAS DONE!”

Don’t get me wrong….in the moment……I DID think of his brothers! But instead of the “whoa is me….look what I’ve missed thoughts….ALL I had is…..”Look at what your brother has accomplished and I know you’d be so proud of him!” Thoughts!

I thank GOD for him EVERY DAY! Not for just allowing me to finish what I couldn’t before….but for MY SON….for the gift of being his mom.

I’m so humbled God saw fit to allow me to be his momma….to allow me to be a mom again AT ALL! That is a small miracle in itself…since I truly didn’t think I’d have more kids or trust like that again.

Let me also say though…that since Friday, in my alone time, I HAVE gone there. I have gone through the thoughts of where they might be now…what I have missed….what THEY missed! But….I couldn’t imagine snagging them away from heaven to experience those things just so I can say they did!!! If they can’t be here with me….I’m oh-so-very-thankful that instead….they are in a place with no pain, no tears and no sorrow! You see…they don’t know what they missed! They don’t….but I do. I am here…where there is still pain…still tears…and still sorrow.

It is so hard to have my heart both in heaven and here on earth. To miss my boys who aren’t here and want to be with them so badly…yet…to not want to leave here so that I don’t miss anything in the lives of my two kids here on earth with me!!! THIS…..this is where my two worlds collide! In my head and in my heart. In my alone time and in my head!

I’m so thankful though…that God saw fit to allow me this opportunity. To see his graduation….and….to see his senior prom! And then…to look forward to doing the same things…with my daughter!

This, my friend, is what I call God’s grace and mercy! This…is Him showing up…and showing me that even when I felt like I couldn’t….HE CAN! He gave me the gift of life. The gift of continuing my life…even when I didn’t know why I was still here when my heart had left this earth! The gift of new life…with both my son and my daughter! The gift of life….and seeing it continue! This…is the light in the darkness. This…is Jesus. This is His redemptive power!

I leave you with pics of my baby…..of my family…of accomplishments and milestones. I see God in these….I hope you do too!

If you are hurting, as I know so many are, please know I’m lifting you up in prayer. Please know, God has a plan….He has a way….and your life still has a purpose! I know it doesn’t always feel like it….but I am the first to tell you…those feelings are lies!

Much love ~c

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As I sit in the darkness of my home….the clock ticks away…and the time just changed to midnight. My son, my daughter and my husband are all sleeping. My pups are cuddled up…but I can’t sleep.

I’ve known this day was coming. I can’t ever escape it….as much as I’d like to sometimes. It never surprises me…because my mind prepares me…as much as it possibly can…for what is coming up.

Today….marks 21 years since you’ve been gone. 21 years – the span from birth that someone is “legal”. 21 years…. long enough to be in college…have found your true love….married…and maybe even have children. 21 years.

But for me…it’s 21 years since you’ve been here with me. 21 years since I’ve heard your laughs….seen your smile….felt your hugs….touched your hair…. 21 years…since you took your last breaths. At that moment…I thought there was no way I could continue to breathe….but for 21 years….I have. I’ve breathed….I’ve lived….and I’ve loved.

My heart hurts…in such a way I never realized it could. It is constant…sometimes a numbness that lingers with you always….but other times…like now…it seers through my body and almost….stops my breath. It’s suffocating…on days like this. The longing to know you….who you’d be…. who you’d love….where you’d be….what you’d be like…what you’d be doing. I.can’t.even.imagine. Not any more. I just don’t know. I’d like to think I’d know. But really….it’s just me…in my head….dreaming.

Being your mom….was such a blessing. I don’t think I even realized it then…..but I do now. I tell your brother and sister…they are my heart beating outside my chest. Well…you are as well. You just happen to walk the streets of heaven. You were my first heartbeats….and I’ll love you until my heart beats its last beat on this earth…and I get to see you again!

I’ve heard grief described as “a love that has no physical place to go”. That love…never goes away. And on days like today ….. it just hurts. My arms ache for you….my heart yearns for the love to be returned….my head is filled with the few, precious memories of your short years on this earth.

On the day you died….it was gray. So gray and and cloudy.

I experienced the same kind of day recently. I remembered looking up at the clouds on the day you died and remembered you were with God that day….and again….I did the same a few days ago. I took pics….from the plane I was in.

Because God ever so gently reminded me that not every day is cloudy. He is still there with me….with you.

Then I took pics going into the clouds…

..and in the clouds too.

It seemed so dark….so thick…like I couldn’t find my way. That is how I felt on the day you were gone. How I feel sometimes….even now.

But then…..I took these.

I

took pics above the clouds…..to remind me that He is ALWAYS THERE! Even when we don’t see or feel Him…God is there. The storms will come and they will feel heavy and like they will never leave…but HE IS THERE! The light of His goodness is above the clouds and they are in constant movement. They don’t stay still….and neither do the storms of this life!!

I love to fly! Love it! Maybe because….for some small moment…I feel close to you. I feel close the feeling you must be feeling. Being above the clouds means the storms are beautiful formations…but you see them as beauty…they don’t hurt you any more. I love the light above the clouds….the clear view of the stars… and I can only imagine….the views you must have from heaven.

I just have to admit. Even though I know this…..even though I’m oh so thankful for this….I still hate it. I hate that you aren’t with me. I hate that I’m not there with you. I just miss you so much. Selfishly…I want you here…..but I could never steal you away from heaven….from Jesus…from the God who created you and loves you more than I do! And…..selfishly…I want to be there with you….but I’ve got your brother and sister here….I want to see them grow up…..get married…have babies and have an awesome adult life with them… It’s just so hard.

I can’t even see through my tears right now. I can’t stop my shoulders from shrugging from the sobs…..I can’t stop the burning in my throat trying to silently cry….so as not to wake my family…… My heart…..hurts. Because you are there….and I am here.

I long for the day I can come home and see you again. I can’t wait to see you running towards me and the eternity of stories…songs and love we will share! I’ve got so much living here to do…..so I know for me…..it will be so many more years of these days…..of this hurt….. But I’m so thankful for you it will only be the blink of an eye before we are together again.

Oh….my sweet boys….I miss you…more than there are words….more than I can ever express. I pray….the life I’m living here has been and will continue to be a testament to the lives you lived so well….and fulfills the very purpose of why God chose to leave me here ….in this world….without you.

I could go on and on….but it all comes down to this….

I love you. Cody….Cory…and Caleb…. you are my heartbeat still. With every heart beat…I love you and miss you more. With every heart beat…I’m closer to being with you again.

May my heart beat….until my purpose is fulfilled.

All my love to you…my c3angels!

~momma

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When I was a little girl…a looong time ago…we used to play a game called “Mercy!”. If you know what game I’m talking about….Congratulations! You grew up in a time where we had to use our imaginations to fill in gaps of time….and we weren’t entertained by electronic boxes 24/7!!! For those of you who don’t know what this game is….basically it was a game where two people faced each other, then joined their hands together……..and then literally tried to squeeze the bejeebies out of the opponent…or twist and contort their hands and arms into a place of pain…..all in trying to get the other person to say “Mercy!” so that you would stop!! This, dear friends, is what we called FUN! Torturing one another and trying to make the other person “tap out”! 

Today, the word mercy has a much different meaning in my life. Today, mercy is something I seek…long for….hope for! 

Here is a definition I found of this complex word.. 


I believe in mercy. The #3 kind of mercy. The mercy my God bestows on me daily…hourly…every moment of every day kind of mercy. I believe that just as Lamentations 3:22-23 states….”His mercies are new every morning”….we just have to remember this and STOP living in the past mistakes that have already been forgiven and forgotten by the One True King and Judge!! 

MERCY – in the game it was the way to make the other person stop. Stop the pain…stop the process of pain. Think about that. Mercy can stop the pain….break the cycle….give new hope!

In my LIFE….it is the continual process of hope! Believing in hope…even after I’ve messed up! Believing in hope…..even after I’ve been hurt! Believing in HIM……and Trusting Him too! If He can forgive and start over….DAILY…..then I should be no different!

So….let me say to those of you stuck….stuck in a place of not believing…of not hoping…..of thinking you are way past the mercies of our Saviour…..STOP IT!!! Just STOP! What makes you so special that the mercy He has given everyone else…..isn’t good enough for you???? What lie are you believing that is stopping you from receiving the very thing…HIS MERCY…that could help you…give you a new hope…and transform your life? 

I want to pray for you…to be vulnerable enough to tell you I NEED His mercy….I need His grace to wash over me daily! I mess up….I disappoint….I get frustrated…I frustrate others…dang it…..NONE of us are perfect. We all NEED Him! Won’t you please….please consider leaning into His mercy? Please….cry out….MERCY LORD! Because this life isn’t a game….and our eternity isn’t a fairy tale. Romans 10:13 says…”Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts  2:21 says “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.   Some translations…instead of “saved” say “shall receive life”. 

To me…they remind me of the game still. Maybe you’re hurting…and it seems like life is beating you….  I urge you to cry out….MERCY!! Because I know…when you call on the name of the Lord….and seek Him and His mercy…..you will receive it! I don’t know what it looks like for you…but for me…it looks like forgiveness I don’t deserve. It looks like possibility where there only seemed impossibilities. It looks like grace…when it isn’t deserved. It can look like that for you….even more! 

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It’s interesting to me….because I never really knew what the term “rainbow child” truly meant. I don’t think it is ever something I had even heard of…  Even as I was bringing this child into the world and putting Noah’s ark items into his nursery….I still didn’t know this was a “thing”. 

I just knew that he was God’s promise to me. A promise to me that I was still “good enough” to be a mom here on this earth. A promise that I could be trusted with another child. A promise that I would get to see and experience things with this son I was unable to experience with my first three sons. A promise….that He was still in control. A promise that….if I would just trust in Him…He would guide my path….into motherhood once again.

I didn’t know the term was “a thing” later on in his life. I most certainly felt like he was heaven-sent….and God’s way of easing my soul… He was never a replacement of the boys I had lost…but merely an addition to my life. He has enriched my life in ways I can’t explain in mere words. He is a part of me….so closely woven into my heart that when he hurts, my heart aches. So much intertwined into my soul that his very smile can make my heart leap and his hugs can melt my heart all at the same time! 

This beautiful child of mine…is truly not a child any more. Just this past week he started his senior year in high school. In less than a month, he will take on his final year towards his associate’s degree. But his biggest challenge to date…was faced this past summer.

Last semester was tough for him. I don’t know how to describe it…but he just wasn’t always his normal self. But it wasn’t until the end of school and first of summer we noticed his drop in weight…without trying. His mood was somber at times and he “just wasn’t himself”. Finally…we got into a doctor to see what was wrong with my sweet boy.

Well…..we were hit immediately with a high hemoglobin and high blood sugar. The doctor wanted to send him by ambulance to Children’s hospital ER but allowed us to drive him if we promised to go straight there. We did….and it is quite surreal when the doctor meets you in the waiting room! They warned us he would be hospitalized for at least 3 days….but to our surprise (but not God’s!) we were able to go home later that night. Those things became the first in our “Small Victories” page.

Type 1 diabetes. This was our new normal. 

Yes, I’m aware it isn’t “as bad as it could have been”. But what I’m also aware of is the fact my son’s life had to take an immediate 180 degree turn and it will never be the same! The next morning we were at the hospital again spending hours finding out what the new normal would look like.

10 prescriptions, calculations out the wazoo, how to give shots, and dizzying thoughts…..we were sent home to this new reality. As Bryce so bravely sat in the dining room going over all the new things he had just learned with his sweet girlfriend, my husband and I were in the back room sobbing. The reality hit. The pain of the life he had known was something in the past. It hit hard. Sobs from my husband as he talked about having to give his son shots….of the harsh new reality hit….were a lot for me to handle.

God reminded me though…of a time when Bryce was in pre-school…and my prayer over him being SO LITERAL….came back to me. I remembered I prayed….”Lord, I know that Bryce thinking in such a black and white way…will someday be an awesome thing and a strength for him to have….but right now help me…because it is literally kicking my ass!”. And I thought….maybe this is it! Maybe…since he knows he has to be vigilant…this will be the strength he needs to conquer this.

That prayer was answered and confirmed just a few days ago when we went for a follow up visit. That  someday is now! At his diagnosis his A1c was 14. This is a 3 month average of his blood sugar…and basically meant he had been living at a 400-600 average for 3 months. At his visit this week….not even 2 months into his diagnosis…his A1c was 7.8!! That is phenomenal! The doctors said they’d never seen it come down so quickly and been so well managed right off the bat! I knew then….this was part of his story. 

It hasn’t been easy. As we were on our family vacation just a couple short weeks after his diagnosis I think it hit him. The reality that we were on vacation..on a getaway…but he still had to check his sugars, take shots…. it’s like he realized this was his new reality. This was something he was NEVER going to be able to take a vacation from. And that hit hard! 

On top of that….his “literal” mind kicked in and when his numbers weren’t in range…he was hard on himself. His literal mind was that of perfection. And with this disease…there is no such thing. And as his body is learning to deal with great numbers….it is not feeling well. His body has been so used to the high sugars…it feels like good numbers are bad! He is having great numbers…but actually feeling worse! 

It’s going to take a while for his body to adjust. He is having to rely on grace….in a very real way. Grace for himself….just as God’s grace has already covered him. He is having to give something truly BIG to God….like he has never done before. It’s hard. It’s hard to give something like this to God and not want to take it back sometimes. Even I struggle with it! 

And it has been a burden I’ve felt like I’ve had to carry. I have tried to learn everything I can….to help him manage and learn. So that as I send him out into this world…..he will be able to manage and cope with this new reality called Type 1 Diabetes. But he will be 18 next month. Next year he will be leaving my home for college. It isn’t my burden to bear. I, too, am having to learn grace and to give it all to God. 

It’s hard ya’ll. Having to watch him go through difficulties I wish, with all my heart, I could take for him! Having to trust that God’s got this son of mine is His hands….and He has great plans for him outside of my home. It hurts my heart and makes my heart burst with pride…all in the same moment…watching how he is managing diabetes and not letting it manage him! Watching him grow into this young adult…watching his successes and failures….all make me one proud momma.

A friend shared with me this thought the other day…which totally touched my heart. She said, “When they are little they step on our toes…their feet are constantly on ours as they learn to dance. But as they grow into adulthood, their footprints instead are on our hearts. Both hurt and feel good, all at the same time!” 

It is so true. His footprint is on my heart. As God takes his path to new territories…that don’t include momma’s house…he will always have my heart. I will always be his biggest fan. And God will always be faithful….in His promises.

The pics below are from his first day senior year. The one is of him…the other is of God’s promise that showed up that evening as I was driving home from work. 

He is amazing. Both God….and my son. I am oh-so-thankful for both of them in my life. For their love….for their grace…and the promises they both fulfill in my life.

I pray you always trust God. Look for the silver linings in the clouds….and trust His promises to be true. ~c

1 Samuel 1:27-28 “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now, I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

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Reality hits….

This month is a doozie for me and my family! So many things…good and bad….and just a bit overwhelming at times!

This month is filled with birthdays and anniversaries of ones I love….

My sweet hubby’s birthday, his sister’s birthday, my grandmother’s birthday, brother-in-law’s birthday, best friend’s birthday, another sweet friend’s birthday….my parents’ anniversary, the anniversary of when my grandmother passed, the anniversary of my boys’ death, the anniversary of my friend’s baby’s “gotcha” day…..just a lot going on.

In the midst of this month….and all that is happening…there is also the busy, normal, every day life stuff going on. 

My sweet boy decided to add to that a bit…and schedule a college visit. We went a couple days ago. The college he wishes to attend just happens to be in my old stomping grounds! But man…has that town changed! There is so much familiarity…yet it is so different all at the same time…..kinda like my life!! 🙂 

We walked through the campus….sat with the admissions counselor…..asked questions….asked more questions….and all the while I kept looking over at this nearly-man child….and wondering…where has the time gone? How did we get from him being such a little chunky monkey to him looking like the young man he is now? How am I sitting here…with a college admissions counselor….thinking of handing over my baby to the world….and not having him under my protective wing any more? How did my reality turn into this? 

As I watched him walk in front of me…with our guide…talking with her and asking questions…I realized this is a symbol of this part of my life right now. He is in front of me….walking away from the protection of my nest…growing ever-so-close to adulthood and stepping out on his own. This is the picture in my heart…as I wrestle, once again, with God, over letting go of this precious boy…..of trusting him…his heart…his LIFE…to the very One who created Him…who loved him FIRST…who has plans for him beyond my comprehension…and who will protect him and guide him on the path HE has set before him. Will it be easy? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  But at the same time…what I’m reminded of…is he will not be walking away from my love. He will never be so far away that I can’t be there for him…if he wants me to be…and I will never stop praying for him…and for his heart… This new reality won’t happen for over a year….but I thank God He gave me this glimpse…this moment…to see and begin to prepare my heart…for what is to come. The harsh reality is…that….this is a part of life I’ve never experienced before…as a mother. To release my child into adulthood…into the world…and away from the facade I’ve created in my mind….of being his protector. Oh Lord…you are his protector, provider and the One who will guide him! I release him…daily…to You. I trust you completely….with his life…with his heart…with his future. I know he will seek You and your will for his path…..and whatever he may do…or be…as long as it is with You…is more than okay with this momma!

Then…this month…there is also the harsh reality of it being 20 years…since I’ve seen my three sweet boys on this earth. My family and I have been discussing this for a while now…and wanted to do something different…something special. Then, this week snuck up on us and we realized it is here…and so we decided to do a balloon release…and include all of our friends, family and supporters! We chose pics and I created a little flyer/invite for all of us to share. 

Now, I have known this was coming…and we’ve been talking about it.. A LOT. But…let me just tell you…seeing it…writing it…to share…somehow made the reality of it…even more real. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The reality…of seeing their sweet smiles…of them being stuck in my mind at 11, 10 and 8…and watching my son and the milestones he is hitting…just jumped out of nowhere and knocked me back…quite a bit. 

This is the flyer I shared. These are the pics I chose. There were so many I could have chosen…so many to share…. But in reality…it was the same photos I’ve always had to go through….nothing new…nothing past those ages. Nothing. No new pics….because there was no more life for them to live. There was no middle school….no high school…no college. No marriages and no babies. That…is the harsh reality. And you know what….???? It sucks. And yes…I could stay here and be all mad and frustrated and angry and even be justified in staying in that place….but……

It won’t help. It isn’t who they were…and it isn’t who I want to be. We are not victims of this situation and I …for some reason…am still here…breathing….choosing…living. So….

Instead I choose to remember the lives they lived in those 11, 10 and 8 years! I choose to remember the smiles…the silliness…the absurdities…the songs…the laughter…the fights…the wrestling…the playing…the crying…..the sports….the shenanigans….the constant eating…the friends…the athletes…the joy….the love….and the life each of my boys had in their time with us on this earth. I will choose to honor them…with the life I still have. I will choose to share their story…with those who don’t know it. I will choose to point others to Jesus…because that is what they would want…. I will choose to honor them…with not staying down..but instead getting up…each and every time … no matter what. I will choose to allow the holes they left in my heart…never to be filled with anger, bitterness or unforgiveness…never to try to fill those same holes with anything or anyone else….but instead I’ll choose to allow those same holes…to expand the capacity of my heart to love…to empathize…to allow more in….and to increase my territory. I will choose to allow their story to be my story…..and to use it to glorify the God they now abide with. I will allow God to be my all…my strength…to carry me when I feel weak…to be my all and my Lord…so I can walk not only with Him for eternity…but with my boys for eternity. I will choose joy…through the suffering and hurt…allowing perseverance to build my strength so I can be strong for others! 

All I ask of you….is to know these truths. The reality is….life is hard. We are never promised happiness or even tomorrow. But…we are promised an eternity with our Creator….if we choose to believe He sent His son for us….to die for what we deserved…and to take our place. If we confess Him as our Lord and Saviour…He will, He has…atoned for our sins…and prepares a place for us in Heaven. The next truth is….He has given us His power and strength. You see, I’m not strong…at all… But..in…and through my Lord…I’ve allowed His strength to carry me…to hold me….to heal me…and in return…He has made me powerful.  I have power in my choices….not to be a victim…but a victor. In my chooses to go on….I have power. The power to choose to live…and not to just exist. The choice to continue to love…and not just focus on the love I’ve lost. The power to go on….is a choice. I am powerful. You are powerful. Please…please…honor my boys with your choices. Choose Him.  Choose love. Choose…to walk His path…and follow Him.

If you are able…you are welcome to be with us Wednesday afternoon. If you aren’t…we ask for your thoughts and prayers as we lift our hearts and release balloons heavenward…. 

Reality is….there is hope…and joy…and love in this hurting world. Your power…is choosing to see it. And…if you don’t see it…to seek it out. My prayer is …. you’ll choose to be powerful! 

all my love! ~c

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Seriously…there is a “how to” manual for just about EVERYTHING these days…or a book for us “DUMMIES”!! Heck, I even saw a news story on a woman who, along with her four children, built their own home…using nothing but “how-to” videos from YouTube!! Seriously…if you don’t know how to do something these days…the answer seems to always be…”Just Google it!”. Well…let me tell you something…there is NOTHING out there for what I’ve been going through in mine and my kids lives!

Let me share with you my night. First, when I picked up my daughter from school…I could tell she was “in a mood”. She wasn’t being rude…really, she wasn’t even talking. But I could sense there was something under the surface. She came home and wanted to rest. That was fine..because I was tired as well. That didn’t really happen…and then…the fireworks. Nothing I said was met with kind responses. It was either an argument or an explanation of why she didn’t need or want to do something. This led to me losing my cool. After a bit…she went to her room. I went back there and we tried to “talk”…but it just wasn’t happening. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to unpack what was really going on with her..and she didn’t want to talk. So I left her alone for a while. 

I prayed while she was back there. I knew there was something..I just didn’t know what. It frustrated me…and in my frustration…I was going about getting her to open up to me all wrong! I had kept prodding in ways that weren’t conducive to her becoming vulnerable and going below the surface to what was really wrong. I prayed and asked God to help me…to give me the timing and words to say to truly help her heart..not just her situation. 

After a long while I went back and opened the door…and asked if we could talk. I stayed there at the door and didn’t invade her space, even after she told me she was okay with it. And then….it happened.

She shared so much. She opened up to me about her struggles….her hurts…emotionally and spiritually. They were very deep wounds and she was drowning in her own feelings and thoughts and couldn’t find a way out. 

I realized then that my sweet daughter has the gift of empathy to the point of taking on the burden so heavily..that she was losing herself. She was so wrapped up in what is going on with the ones she loves…she wasn’t able to focus on herself and know how to still feel for the other person…and not let it effect her own life so much. We started discussing healthy boundaries and having to understand everyone has their own responsibilities. She broke…hard.

But then….there was more. She started asking me about her brothers. She broke…and it broke me. She just wants…so badly…to hear they are proud of her. She wants to know they notice her…that God notices her. She is still angry at my ex for taking her brothers away from her. She cried and mourned….and as much as I understood….I didn’t!

You see…for her….she is mourning someone she loves very much…her BROTHERS….but also…someone she NEVER MET!! Take that in for a moment. She never met them. She doesn’t know them. She has no memories with them. She only knows stories of them.

Where is the manual for that!!??  For “How to grieve a loved one you never met”. I mean, really…think of it….  When people are grieving we often tell them to “remember the good times”…or that “the memories we have in our heart of that person will never die”. Well…she doesn’t have any of that!!!!

I held her…for the longest time. Her head buried in my chest…I had tears rolling down my face…falling on her head. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to comfort her….to reassure her. I don’t even get it! I got to have them here with me….she doesn’t. I get to think of the moments we had…their silly grins…. All she has…are pictures…and stories. And…it’s been so long since they were here….there aren’t many around us who speak of them…to us anyway. Her grief is on a whole different level. One I’ve never experienced…or have any wisdom on the way to help her. It hit me like a ton of bricks. 

She carries a burden for them as well. A burden to live…since they didn’t. A burden to live well…for them…to make them proud of her. She carries a burden of sadness….and her mind takes her to places I can’t even imagine…because she can literally….can only imagine who they were…what they were like…and who they might be to her now. Her burden is heavy…..and all I want to do is take it from her. But I can’t…because it isn’t something I understand. 

So, God. She is wrestling with Him now, too. She is wrestling with all that she is burdened about…for herself as well as others. She is wrestling with feeling Him…with forgiveness…and why it is so expected. She is wrestling with His loving…all while allowing….so many to hurt…including her. 

So, I prayed. And prayed some more. We talked…we cried….we cried and talked some more. And by the end of the evening…we had smiles again. Our hearts were lighter….and our load seemed lighter. If only…just for a little while.  There were no “magic words”….no “fix-it slogans”. Just tough realizations and conversations. 

We decided we will be brainstorming together. You see, in less than a month…we will have the 20th…yes…20 years…anniversary of her brothers death. We want to do something special in remembrance of them. We aren’t sure if we will ask others to join in…or if it will be just a private, family event. But…we will honor the brothers she never knew. We will continue to heal the broken in our lives…and allow God to help us write the “how to” as we go along.

In mine…and my family’s grief process…I’ve learned there is no “how to” or specific way it is supposed to play out. We are all different…and it looks different for each and every one of us. And that’s ok. 

I found this graphic…I think it displays my “grief journey” just about better than anything else I’ve ever seen. 

I truly believe we can have a guide…but we need to understand…there is no “right way” to grieve. Until my sweet girl shared…I never considered just how different her grief process was from my own. I thought I could understand…because I lost them too. But I’m realizing…it isn’t the same. For any of us. 
So, having said all that…I ask you to consider a few things. 

1.) Please, if you think of it…pray for our sweet family. We are struggling more than we will probably ever let on…with the upcoming anniversary. But our God will see us through..and there will be..I’m sure…many lessons yet to be learned.

2.) Pray for my girl. Pray she is able to build healthy boundaries…to release to God what isn’t hers to “own”…and she would see Him…in all she does.

3.) You would consider…when dealing with anyone…there is not always a way to completely understand what someone else is going through. You can empathize…but you can’t own it. You can share and love…but you can’t fully “get it”…and that is okay. Love them through…pray with them…and point them to Jesus.

4.) Open up…be real…to someone you trust. She needed someone to help bring her out of the thoughts in her head. She was letting the voices inside her become so loud…she couldn’t process them..or anything else. She NEEDED to talk…but was afraid to. Open up…be real. We were never meant to be an island. Do the hard work of finding that safe place and open up and let them cushion your thoughts…to guide you into reality…to share in the burdens you carry.

I’ll do that for any of you…seriously. I don’t think we are supposed to walk alone…so if you feel alone…and are reading this…reach out. I promise to keep it confidential. But know…I’ll be honest back with you…and love you through it. 

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you'” – Isaiah 41:13

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” – Galatians 6:2

all my love ~c

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