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Army Life

February 6, 2018

Love Unexpected: My One Word for 2018

It was 2 o’clock in the morning and in one sudden unexpected moment my world changed.

If you watched the episode of This Is Us that aired after the Super Bowl, you might have heard the character Randall describe an unexpected life-altering event as a lightning strike. The writers’ raw and beautiful analogy articulates this experience well. Here is what Randall said:

“When you lose someone suddenly, and unexpectedly, it hurts differently… Boom, boom, like a lightning strike. That’s what unexpected loss is like. It’s like a lightning bolt you can’t even see reaching inside of you and tearing out your guts.”

Eight years ago, the lightning bolt that struck me was the death of my baby girl, and then another bolt struck shortly after when my father died. I’ve spent 8 years processing and healing from that lightning storm.

But this time the 2AM lightning strike was not the unexpected discovery of someone’s death even though it could in every way be categorized as a type of loss and grief.

Like with any lightning strike that appears out of nowhere and dramatically alters our lives, it felt as though the bolt made direct contact with my heart when it struck; that it had destroyed my heart in an explosion of pain.

Ironically, like with the first strikes, this lightning bolt ushering in a new season of suffering came immediately after a season of giving thanks. Also ironically perhaps, right before this latest strike occurred, I had just written and shared about the revelation that I sort of have PTSD when it comes to giving thanks as a result of these losses that had immediately followed eight years ago (you can read more in this post here).

This was the first year after eight years that I was able to confront my PTSD head on and return to my gratitude journal and count my gifts. And then, just like eight years ago, a lightning strike, and my world fell apart again immediately after. I couldn’t believe it.

And then came the inevitable question spoken through the agonizing heartache and flow of hot tears, Why God?

What I discovered, or rather what God revealed, in the days following this most recent lightning strike of unexpected pain was that when life thrust me into this pit of darkness, He was going to rip off a blindfold, and I would see Him begin to use this shocking pain for good quite immediately.

God used the emotional pain I was in to reveal a deeper rooted pain – a pain that it turns out I had been unknowingly causing myself for too long. Read more

November 14, 2017

Hindrances to Giving Thanks

*This is the first post in a two part series on struggling with giving thanks.

Have you ever struggled to give thanks? Have you ever longed to be thankful, yet gratitude doesn’t seem to be the natural attitude of your heart — or maybe perhaps given your current circumstances gratitude just quite frankly feels impossible? Well, you’re not alone.

If you were to come over for a cup of coffee this week, you would see a DIY brown, cardstock banner strung across my dining room window.

Give Thanks it says.

What you might not know, is that my heart needs this banner strung across it too. Maybe I’m hoping as I walk past these words daily that they will somehow impress themselves upon my heart.

Giving thanks does not come naturally to me.

I like to think I’m a grateful person. (Don’t we all?) But an honest examination of my heart would reveal my struggle to give thanks, and not just in the hard times, but on any given day. Read more

October 12, 2017

What You Need to Know About Your Tears

He coyly poked his head past the frame of his bedroom door and peeked down the stairs.

“Mommy?” his tiny voice tentatively asked. It was just above a whisper, barely carrying its way to my ears.

I stood at the bottom of the stairs peering up at him and replied, “Yes, Baby?”

“You need to come wipe my tears,” he whimpered.

Big emotions had filled his small three-year-old heart and almost instantaneously flooded his eyes with great big tears. He had been crying for a few minutes before he called to me.

I started up the stairs, and when I reached him, I leaned my face in close to his, gaining an intimate view of his tears. Their streaks glistened on his cheeks revealing paths that resembled tiny streams. Each eye held a tear so large that it filled half his eye and threatened to fall with the slightest movement. But his eyes held my gaze, and so they remained half full of tears.

With my thumbs I gently wiped his tears from his eyes. I cupped his small face in my hands and ran my them across his babysoft skin, wiping the rest away, but he could still feel the evidence of their wet presence.

“Mommy there’s still more.”

This time, I pulled the bottom of my soft, cotton shirt to his face to soak up every last droplet. (After all, isn’t this what a momma’s shirt is for–to collect tears and boogers and all the toddler things as though it were a napkin?).

By now his whimpers turned to soft sniffles. His soul calming with the wiping and drying of his tears.

This routine started a couple of months ago and has now become a familiar scene in our home, an expectation he has of me.

It’s not until I’ve come and wiped every tear droplet dry that his soul truly rests.

Can I be honest for a minute?

Even though the tears and crying look different as an adult, I still have an inner longing to be seen and loved just like this.

As much as I refuse to cry in front of others, there’s this desire inside of me for my unseen tears to be seen, to know they matter.

If we’re honest, I think we all want someone to come to us like this: to see our tears and the pain behind them, to touch them, and to lovingly wipe them away.  Read more

August 30, 2017

The First Day of Kindergarten, from One Rainbow Mom’s Perspective

Right now many of us moms are sending our babies off to kindergarten.

For many moms this season likely creates a huge ache in their hearts and a trickle of tears down their cheeks that they quickly try to wipe away and hide, at least while still in view of their little ones.

After all, we’re sending our babies off into the world. And perhaps this is one of the first true moments of letting go. And the letting go is h-a-r-d.

This week I was one of the moms sending my baby off to kindergarten.

However, I wasn’t one of the moms that I just described.

Now please don’t hear me wrong, especially if you were / are one of these moms. I can empathize with the reactions and tears and difficulties in sending our babies off to school in a way that is much deeper than most realize and there’s no judgement here.

My experience this week was different. And maybe in a way that you might not expect.

You see, when you’ve walked the unexpected and traumatic road of child loss, as I have, it drastically changes you as a mother, as a person, and affects every aspect of your life including how you think and feel and look at the world.

One of the hardest aspects of losing a baby is that you grieve more than just them, more than just who they were, more than just your sweet one month old. You lose them and their entire future – and the future you had expected for yourself.

You lose an entire lifetime all at once, your grieve a lifetime of losses all at once, and you do it for your entire lifetime.  Read more

August 24, 2017

Comfortable in Suffering

There’s a song by Francesca Battistelli called “If We’re Honest” in which she sings these words:

“The dark seems safer than the light.”

Who could ever imagine the dark being safer than the light? That we could end up thinking that way?

But that was it.

One day as I was listening to this song for hundredth time, those words reverberated in my mind and stopped me in my tracks.

That was where I found myself without realizing it.

In a place where dark seems safer than the light.

Have you ever been there before? Are you there now? If yes please keep reading. If not, please still keep reading, because maybe one day you’ll remember these words, and they will help free you from the darkness and the moment in which it seems safer than the light.

In our lives we will have seasons where the storm rages, the skies darken, a fog falls over us, a blackness consumes us. There’s a million ways to describe it – and most are accurate. None of us are immune to these seasons.

However you want to describe it, the darkness can enter our lives in different ways but functions the same. Maybe it’s through sorrow or fear or pain that comes from death, illness, job loss, a broken relationship, or something else, something else that hurts and breaks and empties us.

Our lives grow dark during seasons of suffering.

The darkness wraps itself around us. Those of us who have experienced a season of suffering know this. But here’s the thing, if we’re not careful, we might end up holding onto the dark and pulling it tighter around us like a blanket.

Like the dark is safer than the light.

We might long for the light and beg to be released from the darkness’s captivity – but how do we experience the light again? Will the darkness ever be lifted? When will we ever be free from it? Is it even possible?  Read more