Sunday, December 30, 2012

Being a Duck

Grandmother and Granddaddy Duck
I am a Duck.  I come from a long line of Ducks- my Grandmother was a Duck (her maiden name).  I have heard all of the good Duck jokes, and even told many of them myself.  We all collected Duck treasures.  And we all spent time learning what it meant to be a Duck.  I spent many Sundays at the homes of other Duck relatives growing up... there were lots of Duck cousins, although not many my age.  Apparently, this wasn't just a tradition for my generation.  My Mom spent every Sunday going to her grandparents house for a meal.  Everyone's presence was "expected".  How I love that tradition now... but at the time I remember wishing I had more kids to play with.

Mostly, I remember being at the home of my Uncle Otis and Aunt Betty.  They hosted family reunions and many big luncheons at their home on Duck Drive.  I remember playing with their Corgi, Ichabod, and laughing with Uncle Otis as he smothered me with kisses.  Aunt Thelma pinched our cheeks in the stereotypical way.  Uncle Bobby and Uncle Bud made me giggle at their silly jokes.  I remember playing with their pool table... I loved it all.  I loved being part of a "bigger" family.  I loved being a Duck. 
Aunt Betty and Uncle Otis

As we grew up, those "bigger" family events dwindled.  Part of it was the nature of life- the cousins had babies and families of their own... and each individual Duck child hosted their own immediate families for holidays.  I saw the (great)aunts and(great) uncles as I was able to... and of course saw them all again at my Grandparent's funerals. 

Sadly, I missed Uncle Otis's funeral.  I remember Mom calling me to let me know he'd died- I was a freshman at UNC.  It was right as exams were starting- Mom told me to stay there and take my exams.  She insisted that Uncle Otis would want me to do well on my exams rather than drive home.  So I stayed... and I went to Linda's on Franklin Street to toast Uncle Otis with some friends (on my way to the library, I'm sure.)

When Dan and I moved to Winston in 2002, we knew 4 people.  Our friend Chris Lieu who was here in Med School, a friend-of-a-friend Joy (who became my contact to the world here!), Aunt Betty and her daughter Roz.  I vaguely knew Roz, but I was looking forward to reconnecting with Aunt Betty while being here... and knew I would like Roz, too.

Keith finally talks to me now.
Our first Thanksgiving, Dan was on-call at the hospital and we couldn't go home.  Roz insisted we join her family at her home for Thanksgiving Dinner as Dan was able to sneak away for a meal.  Roz had 2 teenage children- Keith, a high school freshman who had no time for his "old lady" cousin; and Courtney, a college freshman.  I tried to charm Keith into being my friend, but it took about 3 years until he actually would say more than "hey" to me.  That Thanksgiving meal was the beginning of a beautiful tradition.  Our families have spent many Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, and beyond together since 2002.  I so envied people with "big" families growing up... and loved that Match Day gave us a bigger one here in Winston.

Aunt Betty showered both Dan and me with her love.  She was our "grandmother" here in town... and both of us were thankful to have her as we both had lost our own grandmothers.  We picked her up for meals, errands, appointments... or sometimes we'd join her at Brookridge for a meal and get to meet all of her friends.  We loved that she "showed us off"... and she did proudly... until the birth of Elizabeth Jane when we became known only as "Elizabeth Jane's parents."  Her son told me the other night "You know Mom adored you, right?  But not nearly as much as she adored your daughter."

As I said my goodbyes to Aunt Betty last week in ICU after a horrible, freak hospital stay that turned fatal-- I told her thank you for making my family bigger, and for adoring my daughter so.  I drove back home from the hospital on Christmas and allowed myself to think back on our ten years here... more sure than ever that Match Day brought us here for more than just residency.

Elizabeth with Courtney
The day after Aunt Betty died, we began rallying to celebrate.  We were not only celebrating her life, but we were celebrating the life and love of her Granddaughter, Courtney.  Courtney had the most lovely wedding yesterday.  It was perfect.  Just perfect.  Probably due to the fact that, as a friend so sweetly put it, the wedding had a "heavenly coordinator."  The rain held off, there were no glitches, and I've never seen a more smiley bride.  The only thing missing, obviously, was Aunt Betty who had wanted so desperately to be there.  At dinner, our table drank a toast to Aunt Betty and my Daddy.  I feel certain they were toasting us, too.

Ten years ago, I had cousins and aunts I knew only in the "formal" sense.  But yesterday at the wedding... and tomorrow at the funeral... they are so much more than that.  They are ones with whom I share inside jokes... they are ones with whom the "I love you"s mean so much more.  We are Ducks.  And I am so thankful for being one.

The sweetest bite. E's first birthday.

**for a link to Aunt Betty's obituary, click here.**

Monday, December 17, 2012


I live life out loud.  I share my story- the good and the bad- with the world.  I tend to be an "open book."

And all of those things make my mother cringe.

My mother, for those of you who don't know her, is a very private person.  She keeps details of her life to herself- always has.  She would cringe- often publicly- when my Dad or I would say things that she wasn't comfortable hearing publicly.  I think we were put in her life to push her buttons... and she was put in our lives to give us filters.

Which is why these last few years I've lived in a tenuous spot.

My mother has been diagnosed with dementia.  And she is horrified of people knowing.  And I am weary from living with it a "secret".

Everyone who has been around my Mom knows.  It is past the point of hiding.  Without sharing cringe-worthy stories, I'll just share that the diagnosis is official and non-arguable.  It has been painful, hurtful, heartbreaking, and has left us completely worn-down.  We ache for her loss, and we ache for ourselves.

I have tip-toed on Facebook and my blog for months upon months to make sure that I don't "over share."  The last thing I want to do is embarrass my Mom.  In light of recent events, it's hit me more than ever that we should not steer clear from talking about mental health issues.  At the same time, mental health or physical health... my Mom would not want her private life to be posted anywhere.

So therein lies the struggle.  Mom- totally private.  Me- public, and aching from living in this world of uncharted emotions and experiences.  My days are long... and often rather empty... as I sort through not having my Grown Ups to turn to anymore.  My birthday came and went with no parent to call to celebrate that date.  Traditions and expectations on holidays are all a moot point this year.  My guard goes up with each phone call regarding our "new" situation... and my shoulders stay tense.

And this is why I finally decided to post about it.  With the exception of a few friends who are also on this path, it can by a very lonely place trying to navigate this season of life alone.  Kelly Corrigan talks about this "season" in her book The Middle Place... and when I read the book years ago, I had no idea how quickly I would get to this space.  When I read it, Mary and Daddy were both living and Mom wasn't quite as sick.  I wasn't yet adding words to my responsibility list like "executor" or "power of attorney".  I liked that space much better.  But we can't go back... which is why I tread lightly to share with you some of the details of my story... not just my Mom's.

I ask for your prayers for the days ahead in our journey... and I ask that those of you who have "been there" not bombard me with information, but offer your guidance in a way that would have been helpful to you.  I also ask that you help me in keeping my Mom's desire for a private-lived life just that... while dementia is nothing to be ashamed of, it's hard to not be where you thought you'd be.  And it's hard to have a daughter who tells the world your information without your blessing.  I feel sure Elizabeth (and karma) will repay this gesture in the days to come.

Friday, December 14, 2012

it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday...

This morning, I was on the folding-end of a laundry blessing.

My heart-sister, Laurie, called early on and said she needed help at the laundromat.  She was getting the last of her laundry done before leaving town.  Her day was scheduled to the minute, and she needed someone to take over so she could get back on task.  As soon as E's bus left, I headed over to feed quarters and match socks.  Mind you, she's not "leaving town" like, I dunno, going on vacation.  She's "leaving town", like, moving to Arizona.  To plant a church.  Which is awesome... and yet still, my heart hurts.

While I was folding the cutest little Lego underwear, my heart jumped when I realized that I was, indeed, on the giving end of this blessing...

And just a few short weeks ago, I was on the receiving end... our friends had before rushed to our door to take away our dirty laundry and returned it clean and folded.  Blessings.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:42-47

This is just how my 10-year friendship with Laurie and her family has been.  We have given- and received- together when there was a need.  We have seen signs and wonders.  We have broken bread and prayed.  And we have had everything in common... sometimes, a wee bit too much.  (There aren't many people who would loan you ALL of their clothes when your luggage gets lost in Rwanda... just sayin'.)

Which is part of what makes this transition so hard.  Never have I felt so instantly connected to a friend in both life and Spirit.  Never have I had someone who would drop everything to run to Wal-mart at a moment's notice.  Never have I been rebuked in love and encouraged in truth and ridiculed by the same person.  We have woven together a tapestry of pain and suffering... joy and celebration.  We have witnessed the birth, rebirth, and homecoming of our children together... we have taken pregnancy tests and watched fertility ultrasounds together... we have watched great men be inaugurated and sung on the stage with other men at that same moment in time.  We have walked together in search of a nude beach... we have wept openly about our pasts... we have bought each other Starbucks when the other one of us just couldn't afford it.  We have lived through parents with cancer and dementia... we have sung RENT! at the top of our lungs (even when we have the words wrong.)  We have walked on dark streets in a foreign land against our better judgement... and been blown away at God's individual love over a gallon of wine.  We have been sure our husbands have lost their minds and needed us to tell them... and praised those same men at their amazing growth and Godly decisions.  We have watched college students grow... and watched our hearts grow to love students more every day.  We have run together at Rope Drop and run together at the Y in the dark.  We have eaten at Long John Silvers and Boca de Bobbidi Boo.  And never have I been more grateful for every step of the journey.

THIS is the body of Christ.  This is the fellowship of believers.  This is the good life. This is the real life- folding laundry and all.  And this is truth... friends really are friends forever.  God speed, my Kindred Spirit.  I can't wait to see where He leads us next.

 (she is a Brickhouse, you know...)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

my kitchen is clean.

My kitchen is clean.

It looks beautiful.

The countertops are free of sippy cups and plastic plates. 

I didn't get out of bed until 7:30 this morning. I woke up at 6, but I laid in bed- cuddled next to my sick child who had invited herself in sometime during the night- and read until 7:30.

No one has cried this morning.

No one has yelled.

No one has been put in Time Out.

There is coffee that's been brewed and Dan is making us waffles as I type these words.

There is nothing on my agenda today except to decorate for Christmas and have lunch and ashopping date with a friend.

Holy crap, y'all... this feels GOOD.

Yesterday, it didn't feel so good.  Yesterday, I had two little boys in my living room watching PBS Kids and waiting for the Social Worker to arrive to take them to their next home.  Two little boys who had pushed every button I had by sunrise.  Two boys who had wrecked my "normal" during the last 6 and a half weeks.  Two boys who made me angry... made me yell... showed me sides of my own heart that were nasty.  Two boys who wanted nothing more than to be loved and be shown that we would be the same today that we were yesterday.  Two boys who exasperated my daughter and my dogs.  Two boys who made me weep when I heard one say "I love Dan soooo much.  I just love him so, so much."  Two little boys who I had grown to love.

This foster care business?  It ain't for the faint at heart.

And that's just what I am- faint at heart.  Our six and a half weeks with the boys showed me humanity in a way I've never seen.  It humbled me when I saw what a "bad" person I am at my core.  It showed me how prideful and selfish and weak I am.  And, not to sound uber-holy, but it showed me that I CANNOT DO THIS without total dependence on God.

While the timing could not have been worse, it also could not have been better.  We began their stay here with E's birthday- and while the spotlight was taken off of her, it also was rightfully given to her as all the little people in our home got showered with gifts.  During their stay, I was also occupied with my responsibilities as a daughter- taking care of things for my Daddy's estate as well as finding a new role in loving my Mom.  My to-do list has never, never been as full as it has been in the last 6 weeks.  This year alone has been taxing in brand new ways... and these last 6 weeks just fit under the banner of "2012 Crazy".  I even had to upgrade to a larger day-planner to keep all of our appointments and responsibilities straight.  Yet having the boys to distract me from life as I now know it, and having life to balance out the boys?  Perfect timing.

Here is the kicker, though, of our quick stint in Foster Care... it's not about us.  Yes, my family changed.  Yes, my responsibilities changed.  Yes, we had to adapt.  Yes, we sacrificed.  Yes, we grieved.  But ultimately- and I'm not looking to be a martyr- it's about the kids.  Those two little boys who got in our van on a Tuesday night- shaking and sobbing.  Those little boys who were forced to learn to trust us... and who just wanted to go home. 

I posted yesterday on Facebook that I was thankful for our role in Foster Care... and I am.  I got slammed with people saying encouraging things like "we're so proud of you" and "you made a difference"... thank you.  While my post was not intended to seek encouragement- we appreciate it.  But when it boils down to it- and, again, I'm not trying to go uber-holy- it wasn't us who made the difference.  We are tired, sinful, weary, hurting people... we just provided a safe place for those boys to feel God's love.  There were days we couldn't do it, so we allowed others of you to love on them for us.  The love those boys received from our friends, their daycare/preschool, our church, our families... oh ya'll... they got loved.

And we will do it again.  Not because we "want" to, but because we know we are supposed to.

But it won't be right now.  We're going to take a little time to rest.  And heal.  And go see The Mouse.  And love each other big and un-interrupted.  And rest.  (Did I say that already?)  And breathe.

So for now, I'll look at my clean kitchen and enjoy it... because I know sometime soon the sippy cups will be back.  And I'll hug E extra tightly... because I know sometime soon my lap will have another little one in it.  And I'll not feel guilty about enjoying this moment... because I know it's a gift from the Lord.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

a little update on our family...

The last month has been insane in our house.  We have gone through more changes than I can begin to describe in a blog post.  Some of those changes are to be shared at a later date, but I can tell you a bit about our new friends living with us.

On the eve of E's birthday, we added 2 foster friends to our family.  Two sweet boys came to us with 2 hours notice... broken, scared, shaking, crying, wrecked.  In turn, we have felt those same emotions.  We have journeyed with them into a new territory- all of us feeling our way through the transition.  E has learned how to be a Big Sister in a crash course, and we have rapidly learned how to parent 3 children- 2 of them being boys. 

We have felt the prayers, encouragement, and help of our Village in new ways.  Friends have arrived bringing meals, clean laundry, coffee, hugs, tears, lawn mowers, bookshelves, clothes... we are grateful and overwhelmed.  We have come to depend on others hugely in the last year, and never more so than these last 4 weeks.  I have sent more emails with the subject line "Help?" only to be amazed with immediate response.  We. Are. Blessed.

We are also weary.  We have had multiple people gently ask "are you sure now is the right time for these additions?"  And we hear you.  We have asked our selves the same thing- and asked Our Jesus- and we understand that yes, this is the right time.  It is hard.  It is exhausting.  But it is our calling, and so we are responding.

As I've mentioned before, we can't tell you much about our new friends... we tend to call them Big Man and Little Man around here, and for the sake of this blog I will refer to them in the same way.  They are both precious and constant reminders of God's Grace.  We are praying for healing for their family, and we are thankful for the role we get to play in their story.

As many of you have asked about E, I will tell you some about her.  She has cried a lot.  She has missed being an only child.  She is overwhelmed with the volume of boys around here.  She is learning a new routine.  She is learning a new family.

But she is good.  Good.  In the newness, God is shaping something beautiful in her.  And I'll tell you, people... it's not that I am trying to paint a pretty picture of all of this.  I could honestly tell you endless stories of her on the hard-side of this transition.  But last night as Big Man had a pretty severe meltdown, I watched my daughter stand back and hurt for him.  She "gets" it.  She may not like every minute of it, but she is learning to adjust to the calling on our family.

Yesterday we were fortunate to have some intentional alone time with her.  I was able to go to her school for lunch, and then Dan and I got to take her out last night while the boys had an activity at their school.  While we were out on our date with her, we went to an indoor playground for a bit.  2 girls there were not being super nice to her- I sat back and watched E try to approach them only to be told "You can't play here.  This is our space."  And in a moment of true beauty, I watched her say "Well, what are you playing?  Could I play with you?"  They included her in their game of chase... and she ran and giggled and enjoyed being a kid.

Indulge me for just a moment to fully describe that scene: E was surrounded by children who looked very different from her.  She was the only blond, blue eyed, white girl present.  As she ran around with children of varying shades of beautiful skin, I sat watching all their ethnicities blend together in a blur when they would dart by us.  The only little boy playing with them- the one the were running from as he chased them, giggling- was about 2.  He was a lovely child- and only took a break from chasing the girls to stop to sign to his dad.  His dad was deaf- as was the woman he was with- and we weren't certain about the little boy.  I sat and watched the children- different as God has made them all- and enjoyed seeing my beautiful girl in the middle of it all.

Moments like that make me long to share my parenting-joy with my parents... and specifically last night, with Mary.  Today marks the second anniversary of when Mary went to be with Jesus.  Two years.  TWO YEARS.  I cannot believe it...  So much has happened in those two years.  I know Mary would have loved to watch E hang out with those children last night.  I know she would love to watch her here with these boys.  There are so many moments with the boys I know that she and Daddy would have the perfect one-liners to fit our days.  No matter how much I miss each of them daily, I know we are making them proud by loving others like they did.

And there you have it... a glimpse of where we are.  We are grief-stricken, pained, weary, exhausted, sick, broken people.  And yet we are joy-filled, hopeful, encouraged, supported, thankful, grateful people.  The dance of emotions leaves our head spinning.  When you couple that with our ever growing to-do lists, we never seem to stop these days.  Welcome to our drama... we'd love to have you join us on our journey.                                                                       

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To my girl, on her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!  You are SIX!!!  How in the world did THAT happen?!?!?!?  Oh, right... I remember...

Six years ago, I enjoyed lunch one Friday afternoon with Miss Debbie.  I still tease her that her U-turn in the middle of a busy road is the reason I went into early labor.  When your Daddy and I went in for my doctor's appointment later that afternoon, the doctor confirmed that you were likely going to come early.  After a weekend of celebrating with friends and preparing for a possible early arrival,  I went into work Monday afternoon like "normal".  I had spoken with the doctor's office earlier and they let me know if I didn't feel you moving around anymore that it would be time to go to the hospital.  Sure enough, as I sat in the RMH office, you weren't moving around.  Your Daddy recommended we should head to the hospital "just in case"... we were still thinking you would stick around longer since you were not due until November 9.

The doctors let us know when we arrived at the hospital that I couldn't feel you moving around because you had already moved into the birth canal.  We were going to see you early after all!!  We walked around the hospital for about an hour trying to get you moving quicker, but then determined we'd be better off to get some sleep and see you the next day instead.  That told us your birthday would be October 17- you would share that day with my Grandmother.  Even though she died before you were born, so much of you reminds me of her-- your big heart, your long fingers, your love for Jesus.  I know she would be so proud of you!

At 5:00am on Tuesday the 17th, your Daddy and I were awoken to a scary, startling moment- we experienced our first earthquake!!  The whole hospital shook and no one was sure what had happened.  Earthquakes aren't usual in Winston-Salem!  But we still tease that the earth shook with excitement upon your arrival... you shook up our lives and apparently everyone else's too. 

Wide awake and a little freaked out, we all laughed when shortly after 5:00am your Mimi walked through the door.  I had called her the night before to tell her I was going to have you early.  She wasn't able to sleep once she knew you were on the way, so she hopped in her car and headed to meet you.  Once it was daylight, I called Dadaw to let him and Nanny know you were coming early.  2 hours after talking to Dadaw, he walked through the door, too.  He said he just couldn't concentrate at Home Depot after I called and walked around the store saying "My baby is having a baby!"  Your Mimi, Nanny, and Dadaw were all so proud of you.  Your Mimi gave you her sense of order and diligence, your "femininity", your tender heart.  Your Nanny gave you a love of learning, your patience with others, your adaptable heart.  Your Dadaw gave you your sense of humor, your ability to laugh at yourself, your kind heart.

We enjoyed some time with Mimi and Dadaw before the doctor came in to break my water.  (And Dadaw left as that happened- he wanted no part of that!)  After several hours of labor and a very short amount of time pushing, out you were.  Remember this part?  This is the part of the story you love so much.  You came out so quickly, the doctor wasn't even in the room yet!!  Your Daddy had to help deliver you- what an honor.  Your Daddy gave you your wisdom, your insight, and your compassionate heart.  He is so proud of you.  When you came out, Daddy looked at me through a tear-streaked face and said "It's a girl and she's perfect."  Mimi said, "She has 10 fingers and 10 toes!"  And I said, "She's purple."  Leave it to me to make a moment magical...

The doctors cleaned you up and handed you to me to snuggle.  The first of hours and hours of snuggling we would do.  We snuggled through your brief stint in the NICU with jaundice.  We snuggled through your colicky phase.  Through losing lots of loved ones.  Through big celebrations!  We snuggled every morning on the couch in that golden moment when you just woke up and needed some Momma Time.  We snuggled when you were nervous about school.  We snuggled when you were proud about having a Blue Day!  We have snuggled through so many hours... and in those moments, I experience God's love in the most tangible of ways.  In fact, I gave you your love of snuggling, your messy side, and your social heart.

 Last night as I laid with you in your bed and we talked about really hard things, I prayed over you.  I prayed God's protection for not only your life, but over your heart.  Your special heart that is made up of all of the people I love so much.  And this story only involves "my" side of the family!  I'll let your Daddy share with you the blessings you got from Grammy and Pop... blessings that include knowledge, attention to others, persistence, and loyalty to name a few.

In your six years of life, you've had more heartache than some people have in sixty... and for that I'm so sorry.  I'm sorry that you've had people you love die, you've had people you love leave, and you've had promises broken.  As you begin this sixth year of your life, I celebrate your life and your heart.  I'm honored to be your Mom.  From the first moment we heard your heartbeat, we knew you would be special.  We had no idea just how special you would be... and I can't wait to see what lies ahead.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brokenness and Band-aids

our lovely view on that March weekend
6 months ago *right now*, I was sitting in the mountains of Georgia, enjoying having some girl-time with a dear friend, breathing easier- spiritually- than I had in months.  I had spent the day before reading the words of Hosea... and I woke up restored.

I've written what the next week was like here... it breaks my heart to even see that post again.  It still feels so... well... new.

At the retreat that weekend, I attended a "Date with God" session lead by the sweet woman who had prompted me to read Hosea.  We went from station to station experiencing different mediums through which to connect with God. One of them was a place where you would write a prayer request on a Post-it, place it on the wall, then read the others' requests and pray for them.  My Post-it said "broken."  That weekend, you'll remember, was when we had just been turned down for Foster Care.  In addition to that, I was grieving my best friend's move to Phoenix, and still wrestling with Sweet Leah's leukemia. I truly felt "broken."  In a moment of restoration, I looked at those Post-its as they were affixed later to a cross and felt the hand of God remind me that HE would heal me... no one or nothing else would do.

Our Wailing Wall... Heal us, Lord.
Oh, the irony of the brokenness I felt then.  I didn't know that mere hours later, I would find out my Daddy had died.  I didn't know that 6 weeks after that we would lose my friend Geoff.  I didn't know that 3 months later we would lose my friend Aaron.

Grief upon grief leaves one feeling beyond broken.  It leaves you feeling just plain wrecked.

Yesterday happened to be my Daddy's birthday.  He would have been 70.  From the moment my feet hit the ground yesterday morning, my wrecked-self grieved.  I sobbed in ways I haven't allowed myself to in quite some time.  I also had lots of funny internal-dialog throughout the day imagining what Daddy would say to me if I shared with him my stories.  I wanted to tell him how much I love mowing the yard with his lawn mower.  I wanted to tell him how E asked Dan why he said "dammit" this weekend. (He didn't, btw, he said "hammock"... but hearing my little one say "Why'd you say 'dammit', Daddy?" was a moment that Dadaw would have loved.)  I wanted to talk to him about how hard things are right now and have him tell me what to do.  I wanted to ask him his recipe for Country Style Steak, and then later call him to tell him that Paula Deen's worked out just fine.

Not to sound like a broken record, people... but I just miss my Daddy.

In ways I never imagined.

I think I used to watch people who had lost a parent and think, "Gosh, that must be sad," but didn't understand. I didn't get that it would be a daily ache.  A daily burden.  That every experience- good or bad- would be filtered through the lens of not having your Big Person to share it with.  And in my crazy, jacked up life... I need my Big Person.

Slowly over these last 6 months, there have been moments when my broken heart begins to heal.  Unlike the picture, my heart hasn't been torn straight down the middle.  It's been shattered into millions of pieces, each requiring their own Band-aid.  And the Band-aids are beautiful as they come!  They show up in the form of People Puppy Chow, or coffee mugs, or walks on the Greenway, or phone calls, or verses about "doing good", or comments on Facebook, or well-timed flowers, or bottles of wine, or Stan-like jokes, or leaves changing color, or looking at old pictures, or salted caramel, or a compliment, or a hug, or Country Style Steak, or even through tears.

The hard part of the last 6 months is that sometimes the Band-aids come off.  Sometimes they are ripped off... sometimes they just fall off in the bathtub.  And through it all, it shouldn't surprise me that my encouragement comes from... well... Hosea.

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
    but he will heal us;
he has injured us
    but he will bind up our wounds....
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him."

Return, heal, acknowledge, press on, and Do Good... cause that's what my Daddy would have wanted.  Happy birthday, Dadaw... I can't believe we've made it 6 months without you here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

things I just can't tell you.

I'm writing this blog about 24 hours after finding out my friend, Aaron, passed away.  My intent was to write the foster-part of this post yesterday... hours before our little one arrived.  But then the bottom fell out again.  The loss of another great man in my life.  And all of the sudden my post seemed frivolous.  Again, our focus shifted to the day at hand and the days to come.  Our hearts became woven with Debbie's.  And that was all that mattered.

But let me share with you our other news...  We are finally licensed foster parents.  18 months after we began this process.  1 year after finishing MAPP.  We are done.  In fact, as I type these words, I'm waiting for our first little visitor to wake up.  We are blessed to be providing weekend respite for a wee one- not a permanent placement, but 4 days of a little friend joining our family.

So many of you have followed our journey in the foster care world... and I wanted to let you know how we rejoice that we are now in the "next" phase.  It's a bizarrely unknown time for us... just as the rest of 2012 has been.  We are learning in new ways each day that it is so not about us- and that we are not in charge of what's next.

Here's what I can't tell you: much of anything else.  As children come in and out our lives, I can't post about them, specifically.  On any social media format, I can't post pictures, tell names, give details.  When you meet them, of course you'll know more about them (like, with this one, how super cute she is!!), but I can't tell you details of why they are in care.  I can't tell you (if I know) family specifics.  I can't answer all the questions that we all typically have.  An awkward predicament for a public-sharer like I am, but the "rules" nonetheless.

We are grateful to finally be at this place.  And yet it feels beyond surreal.  Days before she arrived at our house, I was in Asheville closing on the sale of my Daddy's house.  Talk about the gamut of emotions...

But little did I know that those two things were just the beginning of the emotional journey ahead.

Here's what I can't tell you: why another great man is on this earth no more.  I can't tell you why Debbie and her children are in the spot that they are right now- navigating life without their trailblazer.  I can't tell you why within three months of each other two of my girlfriends have lost their husbands.  Six children have lost their daddies.  Shoot, within five months eight of us have lost our daddies.  And it sucks.  All of it.

I know what it's like to charter the world realizing each day that my Daddy is gone.  Yet I had 36 years with him... not 8, or 7, or 4, or 1.  I know what's it's like to look to your Daddy for an answer only to remember he's not there.  And here's what I can't tell you: why those babies have to find that same moment of confusion so young.

I don't know what it's like to lose my husband.  But in those moments of God-given empathy and understanding, I can imagine that loss.  My heart aches for Debbie and Nicole... just aches.  And I can't tell you why any of this has happened to either of them.

What I can tell you is that we are all hanging on by a thread.  I missed gathering with friends yesterday and I'll miss praying with our church today because I was thrust into duties of being a Foster Mom.  Ironic timing, and I can't tell you while it's lining up this way.  I'm desperately wanting to be with my church body, but I'm trusting that instead I'm supposed to be here loving this sweet one instead.

I can't tell you why things happen this way. 

But I can tell you this:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

This morning, Aaron is dressed in the righteousness of Jesus.  I don't fully understand it.  Nor do I expect to on this earth.  I have learned since March that the only for-sure thing we have in this life is Jesus.  And I'm thankful that Aaron is now sitting on that solid rock.

taken from Aaron's Facebook page- where he spent this past Sunday morning.

Monday, July 30, 2012

early bedtimes and living intentionally.

Yesterday, E just couldn't get a grip on herself.  Before church she had cried at least 2 times... getting frustrated over everything.  She got mad at me when I combed her hair with a comb rather than allowing her to continue to use the plastic fork which was giving her not much success.  She was angry and weepy about everything we said.

After church, we had lunch with friends... and she was just fine... until it was time to leave.  She walked out of their house without even a real goodbye to our friend and pouted the whole way home.  And then the whole way to Home Depot.  And then the whole way home again.

The climax of this pout came when she asked if we could go swimming and we said no, which caused a magnitude of tears and teenage-sounding lines.  She managed to pull it together for a bit... but couldn't maintain the together-ness long enough to even finish dinner.  So with only a few bites of a baked potato eaten, she went to bed.

Before 6:00pm.

(Please note, DSS, we were not withholding food from our child.  She chose to skip dinner in favor of some solitude.  I promise we'll feed her well when she wakes up.  We don't let children go hungry.)

I feel quite certain that yesterday's behavior was E's way of sorting through the emotions of a previously packed two weeks.  As we've seen with her time and time again, even when her packed schedule is packed with goodness... she still needs time of nothingness to unpack.

Her Mom tends to be the same way.  Historically, when I would cram too much in to my schedule, my body would shut down with an asthma attack.  While this still happens, it happens far less now that I have the winning combination of good medicine and a husband who "makes" me slow down every now and then.

But even when I maintain life at a good pace, my heart and mind still race.  My emotions get as jumbled as E's do... I just usually have more coping skills to fake it better.  The introverted part of me (yes, there is one) desperately requires time alone- to think, to clean, to sit, to read, to be still... and when that part is neglected, I crumble... just like my wee one.

Dan and I are constantly making adjustments to our schedule to make sure that both of us have the "down time" needed to keep peace in our home.  This morning, my quest for peace came in a laundry washing- Quiet Time having- coffee drinking start to the day.  (Side note?  I also have discovered recently that my "state of calm" is in direct correlation to how much junk is on my kitchen counter.)  Today, while I attempt to keep peace and order in my home, I'll also be nailing down some details to close out Daddy's estate.  It seems bizarre that not even 130 days ago, my life looked so completely different.  Friday I was on the phone with a friend and as I said to her "I just miss my Daddy...", the tears came and couldn't stop.  Finding peace now looks so different than it did then... but it is peace nonetheless.

The irony of my word this year is that it is "intentional".  So funny that I felt led back in January to speak a word into my life which would cause me to pause and be aware of every most decisions I make.  So funny that before I even knew how this would feel, I was preparing my heart to intentionally choose it's response.

My heart fluctuates between being a jumbled mess and at peace... and the peace only comes from Jesus.  I have become more and more dependent on Him in this season.  That doesn't mean that in the midst of this I've made all wise intentional choices... but they have (for the most part) been intentional.  And like Miss E, I've sent myself to bed early a couple of nights because I knew that was what was best- for all of us.

But here's to a new day.  And a new week.  And a (almost) new month.  Here's to making intentional choices about how we spend our time, our money, our energy, and our emotions.  Here's to Doing Good for those around us.  Here's to starting our day on a positive note- looking toward the One who created it.

And here's to making it last until bedtime... which will hopefully be later than 6:00pm.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some PR for my friend Muffy...

Hey y'all... just a quick commercial-post (and a chance to share some sweet pics..)

Those of you who have been around for a while might remember me posting when I met this new friend over a year ago.  Muffy (and her husband, Smitty) have woven themselves in and out of our stories in the last year+ in beautiful ways.  She was with me during my (sniff, sniff) last attempt at nose piercing, she has shown me a lovely picture of what it's like to foster a child with grace, and she has taken some great photos of my family.

Last weekend, she came to Daddy's celebration and took some great pics there- all that I'll be sharing post haste.  When she gave me the CDs that had literally hundreds of pictures of the day, she included some ones of my girl that had been snapped during a recent playdate.

 the Elizabeths... and Miss Flossie
 poor Flossie pup... those girls took full advantage of her petite size to make her play baby...
E wanted a turn in the stroller, too!

Like her style?  Well GREAT!  Miss Muffy is raising money to go with one of her besties to Africa very soon as her friend brings home their soon-to-be-adopted daughter.  (Sound familiar?)  Y'all know I have a heart for just such a trip... so I thought I'd let you know that you can help her out... by having her take your family's photos!  She's offering a deal on a family photo shoot... as well as some pretty cute necklaces and an upcoming yardsale.  You can find her over here at her blog, or message me for her contact info.

And here's one teaser from the Celebration...

It is well with my soul.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

do good.

One morning when I was in third(ish) grade, my Daddy drove us to school.  Against the backdrop of Scotty Rhodarmer on WWNC, Daddy slowed his car down to offer help to a man walking along the road with his young son.  Now, where I went to elementary school, people did not just walk along the road.  Daddy knew there had to be some reason this man- and his son- were walking... as he noted to me that there had to be another reason they didn't have on coats.

Daddy offered to take the man and his son to school.  The boy, my brother, and I were dropped off, and quite honestly, I don't remember to this day who he was.  I'm not sure if he was a kid I ever saw again, or he was one of the "big" kids who I didn't know.  Or, maybe it was one of you.

After dropping us off, Daddy found out that the man's car was broken down (hence the walking along a non-walking-friendly road) and he couldn't afford to have it fixed until payday.  He told Daddy that times were tight and he was trying to make ends meet.  This was not a cry for help- he was merely telling his story.

But Daddy wasn't just a listener... he was a do-er.

As they stopped for coffee, he called his office and told them he wouldn't be in that day.  They first went to a garage where the man arranged for his car to be towed and repaired.  Then Daddy took him shopping.  The man (humbly) accepted Daddy's offer to provide a coat for his son, but Daddy didn't stop there.  He outfitted both the man and his son (against the man's arguments), then treated the stranger to lunch.  After lunch, he returned the man to the garage to pick up his repaired car.

And then he went on his way.  To the best of my knowledge, he never spoke to this man again.  (But we all know that man heard more than enough Stan Stories during those hours together to last him a lifetime!)

He did not do this act of service as a way to get "credit".  He did not do it for any repayment.  He did not do it for praise... in fact, he's probably angry at me that I told you all that story just now.  He did it because he did good.

He loved people, and he loved them well.

He taught me how to love people... and reminded me of my "mission" each time we spoke.  No matter whether in person or on the phone, we always left our time together with an "I love you.".. then he always followed that up with "Do Good."

As my heart has ached these last 3 months with the loss of my Daddy- these words keep coming back to me.  I'll interrupt myself to give you all an update on how I'm doing in that regard... it's hard, y'all.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't end up in tears.  As I watched my parents grieve when my grandparents died, I (morbidly?) wondered what that would "feel" like when it was my turn.  And I'll tell you... I had it all wrong.  The sadness is constant.  The pain is always just below the surface.  My heart is both raw and numb with hurt.  Yes, life is going on... but it is always tempered with this nagging of something being "different."

In that same vein, the only time that I feel "normal" is when I am doing good.  When I get outside of myself to care for the needs of others... that's when I feel okay.  That's when I feel like I'm going to make it.  And that's when I know that I am made that way because that's how my Daddy raised me.

One of my fears is that with his death, many people will suffer from not having his "good" done in this world.  In fact, the night before he died, he rode his lawnmower up to his neighbor's house (without asking) to mow her yard.  No thanks were needed- he just raised his hand to wave at her as he finished up and headed back down the hill.  Who will do that now?  Who will decided to take the meals to the people up the street when their family won't be there for Thanksgiving?  Who will buy the coat, the meal, the car repair for the man who desperately needs it?

And then it hit me... I will.  You will.  We will... together.

Join me as I honor my Daddy's life and venture into a cooperative movement to "do good."  This is not a "pay it forward" concept in the sense that once you "do good", you're done.  This is a way for you to reach out to those around you and share love as you take care of those in your life.

Over the next few weeks, I'll filter through this website, through Facebook, and through a new site several ways that you can focus your good works.  I'll offer some products you could use to create gifts that provide moments of hope... cards, mugs, bags, Rwandan pens, etc.  Through your own stories, we'll restore some peace in this world as you share with us all how your life changes as you "do good".

Here's the beauty: any money raised through the items sold will go to fund more "good" in this world.  Together, we'll put some much needed items in the pediatric oncology unit at Baptist Hospital.  We'll send support to some widows in Kigali.  We'll use our resources- collectively- to make some big things happen.  And individually, your "good" efforts will bless those in your own spheres.  Everyone wins.

I can't wait to share with you the stories of hope.  I hope you'll join us.  I'll post products as soon as the website is finished- look for it the first week in July.  But this weekend as several of us join hearts in Asheville to honor Daddy's life... I hope we'll remember the good that he poured into us all.  And I hope that we won't stop there- I hope that we'll, in turn, do good.

He'd like that.

Daddy meeting E for the first time

The Daddy I grew up with
The Daddy I knew best

Dadaw, E, Alex, and Nanny

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hope and Change.

Today was a big day for my family.  Miss E and I met the Vice President of the United States.

I'm always a bit starstruck when I stalk meet famous people, but today's was super memorable.  E and I headed downtown after Art Camp for a treat and ended up spending 20ish minutes with Mr. Biden.  We were joined by some dear friends who (honestly) just happened to be walking/driving by when we arrived... a serendipitous moment if I've ever had one.

As we took picture after picture with the VP, (and, yes, E made fish faces in most of them,) I got caught up in the importance of that moment- that one small chunk of time.

I am certain that today was from the Lord.

Not just because I met someone who is part of an administration who I support... but because part of my heart that has laid stagnant for weeks months now was able to reignite.  The seconds before Mr. Biden came in were thrilling- watching the staff and Secret Service do their stuff.  Watching the manager at Wolfie's learn that her store was about to hit the big time.  Watching my friend shake hands with the Vice President after telling him he (my friend) had recently become a US Citizen...

It was good, y'all.

And it gives me hope.  Hope that part of my heart is not stagnant permanently.  Hope that moments of joy and excitement will seep into my days.  Hope that I will be able to tell stories with exuberance of the good things in my life.  And knowing in it all there will be change.  Change that I can't share these moments with some of the people most dear to me.  Change that some moments in my life won't get celebrated by the people who taught me to tell the stories.

There is hope and there is change.

And in them both there are blessings.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Like a ton of other Americans, I don't give proper attention to Memorial Day.  I always usually take time to pause to try and think about the true meaning of the day... but (again) like a ton of other Americans, the day rushes by me in a "Welcome to Summer" kick-off rather than it's intended purpose.

This year is different.

This year, at 12:00am (on the dot!) of Memorial Day, I did some online shopping.  I bought a case for this flag:

My Daddy was a veteran.  We talked about his service throughout my life, but not to the extent that I totally grasped what he did.  He told more stories of what it was like hanging out with his Army buddies than of his duties... but I know his service changed him.

Now, like so many people across our country, I have this flag in my home (soon to be in my brother's) as a "thank you" for that service.

It's humbling.  And though my Daddy didn't lose his life while he was serving, he was a veteran.  For that, I am thankful.

I'm proud to be his daughter.

In memory.

Monday, May 7, 2012

a life of intention.

Less than 40 days after losing my Daddy, another one of my heroes is gone.  Wednesday night after Small Group we got another one of "those" calls... the calls that change your life.  Geoff... whose name you never heard me say without saying "...and Nicole".... died unexpectedly while heading up a basketball game with some friends from work.  That story is not mine to tell, but what I can tell you is about my friend, Geoff.

Geoff lived with intention.  He loved out loud.  He truly brought out the best in everyone around him.  Someone said at his funeral yesterday that "you hope you like yourself half as much as Geoff likes you"... and that is so true.  His laugh was genuine and contagious, and lawsy, he liked to eat.  We loved sharing meals with the Kugels because Geoff always appreciated good food... but he cared for the fellowship more.

Nicole and I met sometime around 2005 when our church did a discipleship focus called "Build".  Nicole and I ended up in the same Build group because of our crazy schedules- I was working at the Ronald McDonald House then.  The two of us- and a third friend, Kathy- got to know each other as we spent time growing together in our understanding of scripture late at night at Starbucks.  We memorized passages together, prayed, laughed, and began to weave our lives together.  Soon after that time, Geoff and Nicole began attending another church, but our lives were already committed to one another.  We walked through a time of mourning as we were still infertile, as her Mom was suffering through cancer, as Mary was diagnosed... then we rejoiced at Elizabeth's birth just months before her Mom went to be with the Lord.  We asked them to covenant with us to raise our daughter- as we saw in them qualities we wanted in our child before they were even parents themselves.  That fact became magnified as their son was born, and again just a year ago as they added a sweet baby girl to their lives.  By this point, "Geoff and Nicole" were stuck with the Johnstons... and we were blessed to be stuck with them.

The stories that poured out at Geoff's funeral yesterday were funny, precious, and poignant... and they all pointed back to Jesus in Geoff.  As we left the church, Dan looked at me through tear stained eyes and said, "that is exactly what you would want people to say about you when you are gone."  No truer words have ever been said- to live a life of intention... to live a life of purpose... to live a life of love... to live a life of Grace--- that's what Geoff did.

And that's why this pain hurts so much- with losing Geoff and losing Daddy- both of them lived big.  Both of them made you feel loved and cared for and like you were the most important person they knew.  They showed favor to those around them.  They put others' needs before their own.

I want to live like that.

In the days to come as the Lord brings Nicole to your mind... pray for them.  The pain rushes in at unforeseen times... I cannot imagine my world without Geoff, so I can't fathom what hers will be like.  But don't just pray.  Act.  Love those around you.  Treat someone to lunch.  Mow your neighbor's grass.  Send someone a card.  Scratch the back of your loved one.  Open the door for someone else.  Carry someone's groceries... shoot... buy someone's groceries.  Send that email you've meant to send.  Buy a friend a treat for no real reason.  Loan someone a good book.  Go swing at the park.  Get to know the name of the person who makes your coffee.  Support local businesses.  Walk downtown.  Call your brother back.  Color with your kids.  Order several different varieties of drinks at dinner... splurge a little.  Go back to visit your alma mater.  Hang those pictures.  Do what you love... with those you love. Give.

Geoff did all that.  Daddy did all that.  I saw it... and it changed me.  The pain is bigger because they were bigger... and while the pain of losing them aches, it pushes me to respond.  I want to be "Geoff" and "Daddy" to those around me.  I want to make a mark on the world in that way.  I want my response not to be fueled by grief... but by wanting to show a tangible love to a hurting world.

Let's commit together to "do good".

Monday, April 30, 2012

Name it and claim it.

I hate the so-called "prosperity gospel".  I do not serve a God who blesses you because you do something.  I serve a God who blesses you because He is good... and He loves you.  So when I hear the whole "name it and claim it" mumbo-jumbo... my hackles are in a tizzy from that first moment.

But, as in most things, there is an ounce of truth amidst the crazy.

And recently I have been part of that goodness.

Last year, my word was "peace".  I prayed "peace" all over my days.  I prayed peace into the lives of others.  I worked hard to make my life something that would leak peace into those around me.  And I still do.

Those who know me well have joined me in my quest to cover my life and home with "peace"... I have received gifts and words over the last 16 months very focused on the word "peace."

So it was a logical jump that a friend use that word to explain my Daddy's death to her almost-3 year old. 

When Daddy died, I texted my friend- something that 6 weeks ago I never imagined I would do, sending life-altering news in a text.  Who would do that?  I'll tell you who... this girl.  In those first hours of confusion and anguish, I reached out to those around me with a quick line or two about what had happened so that they could rush on my behalf to the Throne of Peace... as I was unable to find my way.  My sweet girlfriend received that text in the presence of her son... and realized she had to put words around her shock and grief.  Words that he would understand- especially as they had not yet had to talk about the abstract and concreteness of "death".

In a moment of Momma-wisdom, she gently explained to young W that Miss Becky really needed peace, and it was their job to pray peace for her (me).


That family, like so many others around me, prayed that prayer... and I have been the recipient of peace.

Now, I will fully admit that I don't understand how prayer works.  But I know it does.  And I know that God hears the prayers of those who love Him... and loves the prayers of children.  So, win-win for me- they pray it, I get it.

But the biggest blessing- to me- in all of this is the lesson that my friend has taught sweet W.  Because every time he sees me, talks to me, hears about me, he asks his sweet Momma if I have gotten more peace.  He is now part of the bigger picture of the inter-weaving of this world and the eternal.  As he is on the earthly look-out at my life and my quest for peace, he is at the same time reaching his precious little hands toward heaven on my behalf.

He has named it, and both of us have claimed it.


And that makes it well with my soul. 

Peace to you, and to sweet W.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It Is Well With My Soul.

In September of 2009, I asked Mary what verse/thought/words were giving her something to cling to as she was undergoing chemo and radiation.  By this point, I knew she was weary... but for those of you who were lucky enough to know her, you knew her spirit and resolve to carry on.  She responded to me in an email (on 9/9/9 I just discovered!) with these words:

Favorite Hymn:  It Is Well With My Soul  (especially love the last verse:  "And Lord haste the day when my faith will be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll...the trump will resound and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul."

She'd also listed a couple of lines of scripture she liked, too, so I let it roll around in my mind to think about what words I wanted to put on a bracelet to give her.  I'd recently seen my Aunt's bracelets (the rubbery "Livestrong" kind) that her friends had made for her during her own fight, and just knew Mary needed some.

That Sunday at church, my sweet friend Debbi stood up to announce to the church she would not be going back to China as a missionary as previously planned.  She, too, was now entering the fight with breast cancer.  Actually, her husband announced it.  When he finished with the nitty-gritty of their story, Debbi came forward to the microphone and said "It is well with my soul."

Um... wow.

I came straight home and ordered 200 of these bracelets for Mary... and now, for Debbi too.

I will never forget giving them to Mary- sitting on the couch together, Daddy was sitting in "his" chair.  It was rare with the two of them that we were that serious- our family was constantly making jokes.  But as I told her why I printed those words (and now the connection to another fighter) and the tears flowed, she and Daddy were speechless... but I remember both of them taking their bracelets and immediately putting them on as we hugged and cried.

The bracelets were spread worldwide.  Our families and friends wore them.  I gave one of mine to someone working at Downtown Disney after it sparked a conversation.  One of mine was given to this sweet girl in Rwanda.  With every bracelet I passed out, there was a blessing of grace given.  Seeing those bands of pink not only made me smile for the message that was being passed, but it was a way to calm my heart and center it back on those words... and try to make it well with my soul.

 beauty in Rwanda

In late January, our sweet friend Leah was diagnosed with leukemia. The morning her mom was taking her for first appointment in Oncology, she stopped by our house on her way to the hospital and I popped one of those pink bracelets on her wrist.  A week later it hit me- it's time to order more bracelets.  Over the 2+ years I had the others, people loved sharing them with friends... and we'd run out!  So we knew it was time to add more "it is well"-ness to our lives. 

I asked Leah's mom for her blessing... and also asked what Leah's favorite color was (purple!) to give new life to our favorite bracelet.  I also checked with Daddy- I didn't want a color change to appear that I was somehow "moving on" from Mary... immediately he gave his blessing to the rebirth of the bracelets.  I vividly remember at our last lunch on March 22 him asking when we'd get them in and telling me he was going to start wearing a purple one with pride.  (He called constantly for updates about Leah... in fact, the last time I heard my Daddy cry was when he talked me to about Leah- and Mary- losing their hair.)

 Sweet Leah enjoying a strawberry fresh from her garden yesterday morning

Then March 25th happened.  My world changed.  I won't lie to you... it was not really well with my soul.  At all.

But that's the beauty of those bracelets.  Wearing those words has become a reminder to me... an anchor, even... on the days when I don't feel it.  Or when it's not really well.  Or when it's hard.... it's a reminder that I have to choose to make it well with my soul.  Even so it well with my soul. Even so.

Even So when Mary loses her fight with cancer.... because she gets to be with the Lord and be healed.

Even So when my Daddy dies unexectedly... because I had 36 beautiful years of him pouring into me.

Even So when a wee one is sick... and we don't know what's next... but we know God is good.

Even So in the miscarriages, the rejections, the fights, the wounds, the broken friendships, the painful words, the lost jobs, the life changes... 

And Even So in the blessings!  The marriages, the new babies, the adoptions, the attachments, the new friends, the beautiful spring days, the promotions, the hope of tomorrow...

One last thing... I found this when digging through my email archive... words taken from Mary's Facebook page.  This was her status update on October 15, 2009- I copied the words to send in an email to Dan.

Mary Waldrup 
One can never have too many prayers when those 'sea billows roll' and I must thank my step-daughter, Becky, for the bracelets which invite others to pray for me. The bracelets are inscribed with the title of my favorite hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul." Follow this link to one of the best versions of this hymn available on You Tube.

I'm wearing my new purple bracelet with joy to remind me of all of this.  To remind me of Mary, and Debbi, and Daddy, and Leah... and hope.

It is well with my soul.