Posts Tagged ‘survival’

Well…here we are. 20 years since my boys were taken away from me. 20 years past the day I didn’t honestly think I could live through. 20 years have passed and 20 years of life has been lived! …..and yet…I can still see so many things so vividly in my mind….as if it were just yesterday.

In preparing for this anniversary….God placed it on my heart to do something different. You see…I’m VERY private on these days. VERY! I take off work, I stay home…I don’t make phone calls…and I don’t take all the phone calls I receive. I allow my self to “go there”. I give myself permission to go back, to remember….to hurt and cry…and fall apart. I do fall apart…usually pretty hard. I usually wait until my husband and kiddos are gone…and I release it all. I cry out to God….I cry and allow myself to feel the ache…to feel the emptiness. I allow my mind to go to the places I try to keep it from on a daily basis. These are usually the days I reserve for me.

But this time…this time God reminded me of some very true realities.

This…didn’t just happen to me. They weren’t “mine” only. There were other family members, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, teammates, teachers, coaches…..just a lot of other people who also experienced the loss of my wonderful boys. And…there are people that have never met them….didn’t know them while they were here with us on this earth. These people didn’t know them…but they know us…and so they know their story. And..they love us!  And…this being such a momentous anniversary…I needed to do something…something to include everyone.

So, I took it to my kids and hubs to see what we should do. This was at the beginning of February…we talked about it…but then life happened and we got busy…and the next thing we knew…we were about a week away and still hadn’t planned anything. In talking to each of my family…..it seems we all had the same idea. We should do a balloon release to celebrate their lives! We agreed to release blue & silver balloons, the color of their school. Then, where to have it? We talked about the school….or the ball fields where their trees are planted…but ended up deciding on the cemetery. It was decided.

I then created a graphic for each of us to share. I remember my daughter asking if I thought there would be a lot of people there. I said…”maybe”. And by “a lot”…I was thinking 30-40!

Little did I know…this would get bigger than I ever imagined. I wanted to just get together…play some music and release balloons. And that is what we did…but it truly…turned into an event. Not an event I had envisioned…but in looking back…it is exactly the kind of event my heart needed!!!!

In listening to God and opening myself up to others on this day….He did a work and a healing on my heart through others!!! I’m so thankful for His provision!

We had news coverage, 2 professional photographers, friends helping plan, donated balloons…..and friends and family….there to support us.

It was overwhelming…the love I felt.

I told everyone…that 20 years ago…on that awful, dark grey day…I had crawled into the lap of God and let Him hold me. But on this day…..it was their texts, calls, facebook posts, faces and sweet messages that I felt…and it felt just like the arms of God were wrapped around me again! It was them….who gave me my strength. And it wasn’t a dark, grey day at all…. There was a beautiful blue sky, with wispy, angel-winged clouds….that evolved into one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

We had close to 150 people gathered to remember…to celebrate the lives of my sweet angels! It was overwhelming to see so many people from so many different facets of my life represented there with me! Seeing the love…and you could truly see love….was more than my heart could have imagined. The hugs I received….were just like the hugs I received 20 years ago today.

20 years ago today was the funeral. I remember it being dark and cold and grey…again. But I also remember staying there….and hugging every single person …..long after the graveside service was over. I remember the hugs…the love…and the way it made me feel supported and that I was not alone. That…is exactly what happened, again….at the balloon release. The hugs…the love….the smiles…the stories…the tears…the presence….of those who loved the boys…of those who love me…and my family…were like raindrops in the desert! They were the salve my wounded heart needed on this anniversary date.

I’m hoping these links work….because if you are reading this…no matter where you are in the world….you are now a part of my story….of their story and I want to share this day with you. I thank you for the time you’ve taken to read my blog…to allow me and my part of His story…to reach into your life. This is a video…of the day I had…of remembering…of loving…and of being loved. These are just some of the small reminders…that God shows up!!! He showed up 20 years ago….and He has continued to show up…through the hands and feet of the people who love HIM!

Click here to watch the coverage from News 9. A big shout-out and thanks to Steve Shaw for being so kind and respectful of my family while covering the event.

And this video is a small representation of the day we had…taken by my sweet friend Mary from ToMorrow’s Memories Photography! Please take a few moments…to watch…to see God…and to thank God…for life…for love…and for each other.

So…if you can still see this…through the tears…I know you are really wonderful and I thank Him for you! I ask that you share…so that others can see the goodness in life after death……in hope after tragedy….in love over hate!! I am asking God to do big things…in and through this day of remembrance! He….has done such a good work through this tragedy…and I know…He is just starting to “show up and show off!”. I’m just praying….I’m strong enough…and up for the ride He has in store!!

There is so much more to share…but for now…this is enough. Until then……………

Much love and thanks! ~c



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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve posted a couple pictures that have had some very heavy meaning in my life. I’ve posted a lot of pics on social media…. but these 2 are ones that truly have a lot of “back story” to them.

The first one I posted was on April 19th and it was this one…..

If you aren’t familiar with what this is…..it is “The Survivor Tree” in Oklahoma City. April 19th was the 21st anniversary of the day when 168 people were murdered in a terrorist attack in Oklahoma City. This day is one I remember vividly…as do most from our area…. You remember where you were..what you were doing…at the exact moment of the blast……I also remember the days after. The news coverage…the talks with friends…watching and hoping for a survivor to be found.  This is very similar to the way I remember the days leading up to and after my own tragedy. But the Oklahoma City bombing impacted a whole city, state, country…and more. The families torn apart, the lives lost…the lives forever changed. That day….was horrific. 

On this particular anniversary, so many were posting pics and comments…”We will never forget”…was the resounding cry of so many people. It is a comfort to families and friends of those who didn’t make it and those who were a part of this tragedy to hear that people won’t forget. Won’t forget what they went through…won’t forget their loved ones…or the lives they lived.

When I posted this photo…it was with no words attached….just the pic. I know, I know…so NOT like me! But I didn’t have words. Not at that moment… Not yet.  There were so many photos that represented that day…but this is the one photo that resonated with me…..   

Why? Because to me..this picture doesn’t just represent that day….It’s also about what has happened since that day! It’s about survival!!

This resonates with me. This tree wasn’t anything anyone paid attention to before. It grew in the concrete jungle of the parking area and wasn’t really even tended to. But then….even with glass and shredded pieces of the Murrah building embedded into it’s bark…..this tree….kept growing. Not only did it keep growing…but it became a symbol of hope…of survival…because it “made it” through this even and has gone on to grow into a beautiful tree.

This is what I believe to be part of my message. It isn’t always about what happened the day…the moment…tragedy strikes. It’s about the moments and the choices we have to make after the tragedy!!! There are tiny moments and small choices….that can seem so insignificant in themselves….but when you put them all together…it adds up to parts of your story…your survival.. It’s about how this tree…continued to grow…continued to bloom…continued to survive. It didn’t wilt away in the difficult situation it had been through. It continued to seek the sunlight, the soil…and the water it needed to grow. It didn’t give up. It 

I truly believe…it’s not about me…it’s not about the tree……It’s about the way God uses each of us…to reach others…to show hope through our stories. Sometimes…it’s about others hearing that I can still get up and have have a life…not just a regular one….but a wonderful, joy-filled life! AFTER a tragedy! Just as this tree shows there is still MORE……room for growth….a place for beauty….a way to thrive….even after what may seem like the most horrific thing in the world has happened to you….. Sometimes…I’ve come to realize…just getting out of bed…getting remarried…having more children….still praising the God who allowed the tragedy to happen….is enough to give others hope that there is a way for them to get to the other side of whatever difficult situation they are facing!

If you are still here…..if you are still breathing….THERE.IS.MORE!!! And even better…it can be OH.SO.GLORIOUS! 

BUT….you must CHOOSE to see it as such! You must CHOOSE to look for the silver linings…. YOU must CHOOSE…to continue to live. 

Is it easy?? 

Well…maybe this next picture I posted will answer that…

I’m just keeping it real. 

Yes…I’m strong….I see that now…even though I haven’t always felt it. Yes…I know I’m a survivor….even when I haven’t always seen myself as one! Yes…..my life is awesome in SO MANY AMAZING ways…..but it doesn’t mean it isn’t still hard.

Yes….I am thankful to be here…to be where I am in life…with my faith, my family…and all that is happening around me. 

BUT….I grow tired…and weary…and even worn sometimes. Sometimes I just don’t want to any more. Don’t want to “what”? You might ask…..    Anything. Sometimes I just am tired of making the choices I need to…..in order to continue to survive.

So….What do you do when those times hit? 

Well… Here are my “go-tos”. (Not in any specific order!)

1.) You allow yourself to be tired. There. I said it. Give in and feel what you are feeling. Go ahead and realize you need a break. You can be tired….be sad…be mad at the situation…….whatever it is you are feeling…FEEL IT!


2.) You HAVE to remember….IT’S OKAY TO BE DOWN….BUT IT ISN’T OKAY TO STAY THERE! Ask anyone who I talk to and they will probably tell you…I say this… A LOT! Because it’s true. You have to allow yourself time to feel what you feel. But you can’t “unpack and stay there” as I’ve seen some posters talk about! You must find a way to get past those feelings and start looking for good…for hope…and feeling other feelings too…not just the ones that have got you down!

3.) Call someone in your “safe”circle of friends. Be real with someone and let them know you’re struggling with being strong. Let them know you are weary and need some help. This is hard to do…especially if you are a giver. Don’t let the fact that others view you as strong….let you feel like you can’t be down or have a time when you are the one who needs lifting up!!!   It’s okay…it’s even biblical! “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

4.) PRAY! Remember….God is with you…He has never left you! He doesn’t expect you to be strong all the time. He has told you to allow HIM to carry your burdens! “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19. I emphasized the DAILY…part. Let that sink in…He is there for you daily!!! 

5.) Remember….if you try to do it all in your own strength….you will always feel weary. It isn’t something we were meant to do. We cannot be strong, all on our own….for the rest of our lives. We were created to rely on the strength the Lord gives us. And He does….give it to us. I know…because in all the times I’ve felt strong…yet tired…HE has lifted me out of it! He has carried me in the times when I could no longer carry the weight of my life….    “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31.

So….use the POWER He gives you. Make the choices to go on….but know…that it’s okay to take a break…to ask for help….to take the “super cape” off for a while. Allow others to minister to your soul. Refill the cup of your spirit until there is once more…an overflow and abundance to give to others! That is where I am. I am allowing others to fill my cup again…. That is what has taken me this long…to be able to put the words….with the pictures.

Love you friends…and I pray you release your burdens to Him who loves you so….and know I will pray for you as well…that He will guide the perfect one to you…to help you refill your cup…so we can both give out of overflow and abundance again! 


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