Friday, September 19, 2014

Doing Good, 2014

I have been mulling over this post for a few weeks.

I have started it 3 separate times tonight.

For some reason, the words just aren't easy.

I'm struggling to make words on my computer screen match all of the emotion in my heart.  Please bear with me as I take you on a tour through the jumbled-ness that is my mind these days.

Next week is September 24.

That would be my Daddy's birthday.  It also would be the first birthday of a baby I didn't get to meet.

Last year I anticipated that date by planning activities to occupy my heart and mind on a day that I knew had the potential to be painful.  And it was beautiful.  Here's a bit about what good we did on 9-24-13.

September 24 has become Do Good day- not only for just our family, but for so many who have spread the love in their own circles.  This year was no exception.  We opened our home to locals to join us as we celebrate the Good.  Not only was I floored during the day (Daddy's best friend from home SHOCKED me when she arrived unannounced!), I was amazed throughout that week as I heard stories of people Doing Good.
  * We collected over $500 in gift cards to distribute as needs arise.  We have already given several to families in need of some Good, and have been blown away at the stories of how our friends' generosity has met their need in immediate ways.
  * A friend in Asheville put together a drum kit with the help of local musicians to give to a child who was taking lessons and did not yet have a kit.  While his mother may not see hear the Good always in such a LOUD gift, she was thrilled- as was her son- with such a significant gesture.
  * People sent me story after story that day of paying for others' meals, coffees, groceries in anonymity and how amazing that felt.

Goodness won on September 24.  

You have joined me in taking my Daddy's phrase - Do Good - and truly making it a movement.  So many of you text me when you see verses or signs or gestures of Doing Good.  You walk alongside me in my grief by constantly pointing me toward the positive- and for that I am beyond grateful.

Throughout the last year, our Do Good "funds" have provided Christmas gifts to families in need, furniture and appliances to those just heading out on their own, gift cards to just the right people at just the right time.

We would be honored if you are interested in contributing to our Do Good Fund.

At the same time, so much good came last year from some of you who gave right where you were.  You blessed children with drums.  You surprised people with lunch.  You brought happiness and joy and good wherever you went.  And those stories were awesome.

The stories I hear from y'all about the good you do and the good you see have sustained me.  Beyond that, those stories have blessed the recipients of the goodness.  And I feel certain that we are all ready to have some good again filter through our newsfeed and our lives.

Would you join me on Wednesday?  It doesn't matter how you do it- I'd just love to know that you'll partner with us on September 24 to Do Good.  If you don't mind, send me your "goodness" stories that day.  I'll do better at updating you on all the stories and we can see what this little movement of ours can do.

I can't wait to see the good.
Stan Waldrup
September 24, 1942- March 25, 2012
Loving Daddy, Silly Dadaw, and the one who taught so many of us how to Do Good


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Making a Path

Today is Elizabeth's second day of school.  She got on the bus yesterday morning full of excitement and possibility- beyond proud of her Hogwarts backpack and ready to see all that Second Grade would hold in store.  As I walked to the car later that morning, my sweet neighbor (who has an only child herself and fully understands all that each landmark holds) asked me how I was doing. Funny enough, yesterday's new adventure seemed shadowed by the minutae of the morning: the baby pouring hot coffee down my pants, finding our dog had destroyed a bag of garbage all over our bedroom floor, realizing E's fish tank pump was broken.

I spent the remainder of the day tending to those crises of the morning, and trying to get my feet under me with a late afternoon bus, a fussy baby, and all that comes with Back to School life. So, to answer my neighbor, yesterday came and went without the heart pangs of realizing my baby is growing up too quickly and instead being grateful for her help.

This summer was a blur. We got started on "summer" so late thanks to the end of school chaos of responsibilities there, then heading straight into Vacation Bible School at our church. We lived up trips to Wild Goose, Wet and Wild, the beach, Camp of Kids, Merriwood, art camp, Oonie Koonie Cha, and reading book after book after book. So many things around our house got put on the back burner as I tried to be intentional about living in the moment with the girls and tried to be as present as I was able (minus a few interruptions of Netflix binges and Frozen Freefall.)

So today I find myself beginning the process of making a path. Those of you who know the events of our last few years understand that we have inherited lots of items from my Daddy's house, my Mom's house, and most recently my Grandparent's house. In the grief of shock of the Daddy's death, some of the things of his house got put away until I was able to deal with them. I had just gone through them when we brought in items from Mom's. Some days as I sorted through box after box, I just couldn't take it anymore. I would feel like I was drowning with the reality of losing both of my parents- and in those moments of drowning, I would often close the door to our garage and walk away from the task at hand. Add to that our tendency to tuck things away that need more attention than we could give... our storage room and our garage have become unbearable. From time to time we would stick things "out of the way" to deal with later.

Now is the later.

This summer, I began making a path through my pain. With the help of good friends, good routine, good truth, good meds, and good intentions... I have set my mind on not just surviving this season of life, but thriving in it. I am trying to no longer just stick things "out of the way." Just like our garage, that is a process. I have pushed things to the side so often that there are lots of layers to sort through as my heart continues to heal.

And just like my heart, our garage has layers upon layers of stories. The chalkboard one of my grandparents used in school. My Mom's Day International water bottle. My Daddy's ash tray. Elizabeth's bike that is too small. My Grandmother's painting of The Last Supper. Extra water balloons from this summer's water balloon fight. With each memory I unpack, sort, purge, and process. Some pieces make me think of friends who could use that item better. This process not only becomes a practical "To Do" task, but a spiritual one as well as I pray for those people who are called to my mind.

I am far from done. But there is now I clear path- letting me know I can function in the days to come. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Self Care and Washing Machines

My washing machine makes this noise as it's going from one cycle to another.  It sounds kind of like an airplane taking off.  The moment it hits the next cycle (rinse?  I dunno), it has this very anticlimactic "THUD" and then it kicks into a lower gear.  Before you become concerned about the well-being of our appliances, let me assure you that it is fine.  This is par for the laundry-washing course.

Lately, the frantic-ness of life has felt a lot like that machine.  The violent hum of gearing up... you can almost tangibly feel the anticipation and chaos... and then THUD. Stop.

Historically, I have lived my life in this same pattern.  I used to say that one of the reasons God allowed me to have asthma was so that I would have an automatic shut-off valve.  When my busyness got to be too much, I would have an attack and be forced to shut down.  As I have gotten "more experienced" (and gotten better asthma maintenance drugs!), that seems to happen less and less.

But lately, I've been in that crazy spin cycle longing for the sloshing sounds of "rinse".

I felt myself being stretched to a point that wasn't possible.

I let my laundry pile up beyond the normal mountain it already was.

I allowed my family to eat out more than we cooked because of pure convenience.

I started my days in full "GO!" mode and went until I crashed- sometimes as early as 7:00pm.

And then... I stepped back.

Realizing that the last 2 years of grief had altered my body as I knew it, I assessed the situation.  What did I need to do to make things right?  Who did I need to talk to?  What should I say "no" to in my schedule?

This is not one of those blog posts where I let you know of the success of this endeavor.  I am not here to report "And thanks to Jesus and good medication, I'm fine!"

I am still wading through the evaluation.

Still catching myself in moments that I hear the hum escalate.

Still wanting to be more mindful, to feel more whole.

But here is what I can tell you: I am worth it.

I am important enough to take time for myself.

I am worthy of rest.

This is said not out of vanity or pride... but out of a basic understanding that I was made for so much more than frenetic days and harried thoughts.

As 2014 began, I challenged myself to jot down one thing I'd done for myself a day.  ONE THING.  Early in January I wrote down these treasures:
* Took a glass of wine and a book to the bath.
* Watched mindless TV and didn't multitask while doing it.
* Took a nap while Dan and E watched a movie.
* Washed my face with really good skin products

Then... the baby joined our family and we went into survival mode.  In all honesty, when I thought back to those treasures, I felt spoiled... the next few weeks were spent just getting by.

Thankfully, we're not just getting by anymore.  We are learning how to survive this crazy thing of loving someone else's child, and we're adding her to our joy.

And now that we've gotten past the crisis of "Triage Mode", I think it's time to remember my goal of self care.

Would you join me?

I have heard so many of you already cry out to Summer Angst... your kids have already reeked havoc on your house and your sanity.  So how about committing to finding ONE thing a day that is JUST FOR YOU.  Maybe you'll treat yourself to an iced latte, or a new pen, or a beer on your porch at night. Maybe you'll go on that vacation and not take your stack of thank you notes to work on... but you'll just enjoy the moment.  Maybe you'll finish that book or call that friend or paint your nails... but make it about you.

I believe that I- and you- have worth because we were created by One who desires more for us.  Whether or not you share my belief... please trust me when I say that you are worth it.

In this busy world in which we all live- we tend to put others' needs before our own.

This summer, how about taking some time for you?

You. Are. Worth. It.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

two months... two years...

I CANNOT believe our sweet friend has been with us for 2 months.

2 months of remembering what it's like to function without sleep.  (We've about mastered that... zeesh.)
2 months of remembering how amazing those coo's are when she babbles.
2 months of asking each other "wait... when do they do ___?" because we can't seem to remember.
2 months of loving one of the dearest souls we know.
2 months of joy.
And goodness.
And hard times.
And sweet times.
And tears.
And fun.

So that's it, right?  There's our update?


Because life just keeps coming at us.

Today, Dan and I drove with the Wee One to Mars Hill to meet a mover about moving some things here from my Grandparents' house... which will be sold within a couple of weeks.

The gravity of that hit me yesterday.

At the same time as the unbearable pain thinking about next week... the second anniversary of Daddy's death.

2 years of moments where he should have been here.
2 years of times I almost called him to tell him a story... or ask him a question... or call for a recipe... or to tell him something funny Elizabeth had done.
2 years of days when my heart hurt.
2 years of missing part of me.
2 years absent of my biggest fan.

Yesterday as I thought of closing the house up in Mars Hill... I felt sorry for myself.  Truly.  I have closed up THREE homes of my childhood in the last 18 months.  And I am DONE.  I am so super sad that I have no more "roots" in WNC.  And while I am BEYOND blessed with friends who are like family, let's all be honest... on the holidays, people go home to their own families.

I cried buckets of tears yesterday.  About closure.  And grief.  And missing Stan.  And missing Mary.  And missing Mom.  And being overwhelmed.

So today, as we were talking with the mover, I told him I was just over it.  I was sad that this was the second time we were using his services in 4 months.  And that I was sad I was saying goodbye again.  And that I didn't have roots anymore.

And he looked at me... and at the wee one in my arms... and said, "Yeah, but look at all the Good you're Doing with this little one.  She needs you right now."



On this International Happy Day... fresh from a big ol' dose of "Get it Together, Lady" from my mover... I'd love to tell you what I'm happy about.

*That I've had 2 months with this Sweetie.  (See above.)
*That she's growing and eating and sleeping and laughing tons more than when we met her.
*That my big girl is growing, too, into a kind big sister... something we never thought she'd get to be.
*That I got to "smell" my grandparents today in their belongings... and that feels like home.
*That tomorrow night I get to hang out with some amazing women.
*That I have friends who have consistently checked on us throughout this last 2 months... and these last 2 years.  (It does take a village, y'all.)

For those things, I am thankful.  And for the moments when the sadness of 2 years missing my Daddy overshadow the happy of the 2 months (or 2 days, or 2 hours...) I will not offer apology.  I will continue this journey authentically even when it sucks... yet I will try to graciously accept the kind words of movers everywhere who want to point out the Good.

Happy Happiness Day, y'all.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blaming Germs

My Facebook feed has blown up the last little bit with people posting of their families' various illnesses.  It's just that time of year.  But in all honesty, is it not always "that time of year"?  It seems that we live in a world where illnesses are passed rapidly as we are more and more connected to people.  Please note: I know loads of you are selling, pushing, participating in things, medicines, treatments, healthy living changes that make illnesses less-likely to hit your family.  That's awesome... yet that's not the point of this post.

I'm writing this as my sweet 7-year-old is napping on the couch after beginning her bout with the stomach bug.  She said to me in that super sweet sick-kid voice this morning "At least I know what to expect.  I've thrown up before, so I know when I should get to the bathroom."  So true, sister.  (And I'm guessing she was thinking about what will happen if the Wee One gets it... not prepared to tell us when she needs to be sick.)

I've already gotten a text this morning from a friend I've spent time with recently who was worried she was the culprit for bringing us the germs.

I expect that more than one of my friends will assume that guilt at some point today... as loads of people I know have had this recently.

Which led me to think of the wise words my friend Leigh engrained in my mind years ago:  You can't blame (other people for giving you) germs.

We live in a well connected world.  We are a social family.  In fact, Tuesday night we spent the evening with 70+ people coming in and out of our home.  My prayer this morning is that 70+ people don't get this same illness.  But if they do?  I'm sorry.  That's all I can say... I'm sorry.

We are not going to live in a "bubble" where we exclude ourselves from activities because we are concerned that we'll get sick because "someone" might be.  

The exception to this, of course, comes from knowing that your child (or yourself) is sick and bringing them to events/school anyway.  I have little tolerance for people who knowingly bring sick kids somewhere... I know it's a pain to change your plans, find a sitter, whatever... but please, for the good of us all, if they need to be home, keep them home.  We're knee-deep now in deciding which of our weekend plans we'll need to revise because of today's illness.  It sucks, but it's what you do.

Within this "exception" comes my friends with medically fragile children.  Hearing stories of people who attend functions with these compromised children knowing they are ill makes me crazy.  My sweet friend Tamar (whose wee one, Leah, has leukemia) walked a beautifully fine line with this during Leah's treatments.  Having 2 school aged children in addition to Leah made living in a bubble not possible, unless she planned to keep everyone home, all the time.  And she didn't.  They lived life- still attending school, still coming to church, still going out in public- as they were able.  Leah's preschool director would alert Tamar when a bug was prominent in the school (which was great!) so Tamar could make an educated decision about whether or not to attend.  Brilliant.  Let it be up to the parents of the children whether or not to take the risk.  Yet I've heard loads of stories of other children in various treatments who arrive at activities where people show up with fevers and flus and not one nod is given toward how it will affect those immunocompromised children.  No excuse.

But in our case... today, and days in the future, we will take "our turn" at sickness and know that no one is to blame.  Germs happen.  And they will happen... as long as we continue to live our lives with other people.  We will not "blame" germs.

And I'm hoping that you won't, either... 'specially if E gets you all sick.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2 weeks.

2 weeks ago, we went to meet a sweet baby girl.  One in the Foster system.  One who needed a little love.

2 weeks ago, we left that meeting smitten with her cuteness, but unsure what would be next.  We did, however, stop by Target to pick up a few things she could use just in case she came to live with us.

2 weeks ago, we told our agency that we'd love her to come join us... but that we were getting ready to head to Walt Disney World and that just wouldn't make sense to bring Little One with us.  We told them that as soon as we got home from our visit with The Mouse, we'd love to have her join us.

2 weeks ago, the family she was staying with had some pretty serious illness pop up and they had to remove her... immediately.  We got the call that we either take her now- and take her with us to Disney- or we don't get to have her join us at all.  The agency wasn't able to move her twice.

2 weeks ago, in the time span of a couple hours, we said emphatically "yes" to a sweet little one... and pulled a crib down from the attic... and prepared E even further for our family's changes... and reached out to a few friends to ask for some help.

2 weeks ago, friends showed up with clothes and swings and food and toys and helped us prepare for the days ahead.

2 weeks ago, a couple of social workers and some people who had loved her well showed up at our house.  We opened the door- unsure what was next- and this sweet little thing began to fill up our world with joy.

2 weeks ago, we were rested.  And organized.  And anticipating a low-key trip with some of our dearest friends.  And "in control" of the space around us.  And content with our life.

And now...

We are not rested.
Or organized.
Or in control of anything.

But we are content.

To answer all of the questions:
-We aren't sure how long she will be with us, but we are hoping for many, many days to come.
-We aren't sure of all the details of why she's in Care, but all we need to know is that she needs our love right now.  And... we wouldn't be able to share details even if we did know.
-Yes, we still had a great trip to WDW with those dear friends.  Little One did great.  And Miss E had a super time, too.

2 weeks ago, we didn't see this coming.  But on this side of those 2 weeks, we're thankful for the journey.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


My life has been dictated by numbers.  Forever.

- The age marker.  At 7, I wanted to be 10.  At 10, I wanted to be 13.  At 13, I wanted to be 16.... it continued until I grasped that the age I am now is all that I'm promised.  I love 38, even though I've only been it for 1 month... because it's all I'm promised.

- The number on my scale.  Contradictory to EVERY person I've ever known who's talked to me about weight loss vs. healthy living, I check my scale often.  My friend Renee used to talk about her weight being "one blank 4", or whatever it was at that moment.  Once I crossed into the triple digits (which was way before my peers did), the number immediately after the "one" was what took up much space in my mind.  If I was at 1_4, I wanted to be 1[ _ - one]4.  Times in my life, that numbers have easily gone down.  Other times they have shamefully gone up.  And the shame is all mine- I guilt myself into thinking I'm measured by that number.  I.  Am.  Not.

- My GPA.  Hallmark created a wonderful card a few years back that said something like "True Life Fact #513... No one cares what your GPA is."  Truth.  No one does... but me.  I struggled for those college years because the number on my transcript wasn't as high as I'd imagined it would be.  I allowed it to convince my mind that I was "less than."  That somehow my worth was tied up in those numbers... and somehow I told myself I wasn't the person I knew myself to be.  Lies.

- The number of things on my to-do list.  I will never, ever, ever have an empty list.  I imagine that on my deathbed I will feel guilty for the things still there... and likely some of those will be thank you notes I've not yet sent.  (I blame my thank you note aversion to my wedding.  True story.)  I have recently allowed myself some grace on my to-do list... and that was only after living through tragedies that gave us clarity about what really matters.

- The number in my bank account.  I have never been one of those people who is a natural saver.  Neither am I constantly concerned about how much money we have- it's not a source of pride for either Dan or myself.  But after our rocky financial road in the first few years of marriage... that number says to me whether or not I am doing something "right".  When our checking account dips low, it brings back deep seeded anxiety that I have failed.  Guilt and shame creep back up over issues that are years behind us.  Ridiculous.

None of the numbers I noted above matter.  NONE OF THEM.  If my to-do list is crazy long and we don't have money for our "wants" and I gain weight... IT IS NOT ETERNAL.  "Ain't no mountain gonna fall" because I send thank you notes late, or because it took me 10 years to graduate, or because I can no longer eat whatever I want (could I ever do that?).  I am a smart woman- and not because my GPA reflected that.  I am wealthy beyond most of the world's population... and I am blessed to never have known the other side.  Some of the numbers above are important- I want to be healthy, I need to keep on top of my list because some of the tasks affect other people, and I want to be a good steward- yet none of them determine my true worth.

And yet there are other numbers that are critical.  Some of our friends are in crisis as one of Dan's oldest friends has had a stroke.  As her husband watches the numbers on her monitors and hears the numbers her physicians report... that matters.  A key number in their life is 5- the number of young children they have and now have to provide for all while sitting bedside with their beloved mother.  Those numbers matter.

In this New Year, I pray that I keep my numbers in check.  Focus on the ones that matter, give grace to the ones that aren't big rocks, and let go of the rest.  I'll pray that for you, too.  And I ask that you keep our sweet friend Cristi and her number one fan, Hoke, in your prayers.  They truly are some of the best people we know and need all of our prayers.  While I don't fully know or understand how prayer works, I know that when we petition God in great number, our hearts are knit together.  And those numbers, indeed, do matter.

(You can keep up with Cristi's progress on her Caring Bridge site here.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Change in Heart in 2013

Yesterday morning I was up before my family and had some time alone in our kitchen with my thoughts and the sausage balls I was making.  I was thinking through the "What would a 'best of 2013' blog post look like" and all of the fun things that I would include.  These same thoughts went through my mind as I typed our New Years letter... still with our cards that I'm hoping to finish before the weekend.

It's no surprise that in my heart of hearts I've been in a hard spot these last almost 2 years.  Losing people I love has caused me to lose a a little bit of myself.  While, at first, I was ashamed of what those losses changed me to be, I now embrace the new and am hoping to honor the life with which I'm left.  And don't be distraught!  This will not be a "what I lost" post... but rather a "what we gained" reflection.

Our personal 2013 highlights, in no particular order of importance or calendar dating:

September 24 has become Do Good day- not only for just our family, but for so many who have spread the love in their own circles.  This year was no exception.  We opened our home to locals to join us as we celebrate the Good.  Not only was I floored during the day (Daddy's best friend from home SHOCKED me when she arrived unannounced!), I was amazed throughout that week as I heard stories of people Doing Good.
  * We collected over $500 in gift cards to distribute as needs arise.  We have already given several to families in need of some Good, and have been blown away at the stories of how our friends' generosity has met their need in immediate ways.
  * A friend in Asheville put together a drum kit with the help of local musicians to give to a child who was taking lessons and did not yet have a kit.  While his mother may not see hear the Good always in such a LOUD gift, she was thrilled- as was her son- with such a significant gesture.
  * People sent me story after story that day of paying for others' meals, coffees, groceries in anonymity and how amazing that felt.

Goodness won on September 24.  I invite you to mark your shiny new 2014 calendar with Do Good Day.  I'll be posting again in the month of September to remind you of it.  Let's Do Good throughout this new year.  (And, if it's not too much to ask, I'd love you to message me how your Do Good gesture affected you and/or the recipient.)


We made it our mission this year to say "yes" to things that would bring us happiness.  Several events led to big smiles for all 3 of our family.  We enjoyed a Disney trip during Star Wars weekend- I've never seen many happy nerds in one place (my two included.) I finally met Jen Hatmaker!  I saw Glennon Doyle Melton twice.  I told Philip Yancey how much I've enjoyed his books through the years.  I had a life-giving conversation in the rain with Frank Schaeffer that I reflect on often.  I went to see my other half in Arizona and experienced some of her life there.  I took part in a Grief group at Sawtooth that was healing to my soul.  I ice skated with my little girl in Rockefeller Center as it snowed.  We saw 5 (ridiculous!) shows on Broadway.  Dan and I shared a meal with his best friend from college (and his gorgeous new bride!) and I saw him grin in a way that I've missed.  We had Camp of Kids again with days full of crafts, snacks, and giggles.  E attended her first "grown up" concert- The Indigo Girls- in an amazing venue with amazing people singing loudly all around.  Dan and I saw the Barenaked Ladies, Guster, and Ben Folds with some of our best friends (and rode home with the top down in a convertible... lovely.)  I then followed up with a second BNL show in which I finally met the band.

As silly as some of those things sound- they restored pieces of my heart that had been knocked away by pain.  While it would likely get me a restraining order, I thought about writing BNL a "fan letter" and telling them how their shows connected me to years gone by and how healing they were in my 2013.  I'll never forget Brad Spires introducing me to them in 1996, and I've listened faithfully for the last 17 years.  Singing songs (loudly) that I loved in my 20s reconnected me to the girl I was then... and for that, I am grateful.


The turning point in my year happened on June 15.  Just two months prior I had sunk to my lowest of points and grieved in new and painful ways.  That Saturday in June, E and I were doing some grocery shopping when I got a text from a friend.  He asked my opinion on ring sizes for his beloved- and I am not exaggerating at all when I say my heart grew two sizes that day.  I got taken out of my hurt and put in the middle of his joy.  While his reasons for including me in his planning were likely practical, for me it became holy as the Joy began to outweigh the Pain.  I texted him yesterday to tell him that while I joked after that moment that he was "better than Xanax" (or Zoloft, depending on the day) that honestly was not far from the truth.  My life is better because of that day, my 2013 was better because we celebrated their engagement, my 2014 will be better as we celebrate their wedding, and my friends' lives will be better as they will share them in marriage.

"Oh, the feels."


While your 2014 may not be filled with engagements and concerts and celebrations, I pray that your heart will be filled with moments of joy.  We know that there will be dark days amidst the light ones, but I'm committing to focus on the light this year.  Happy New Year, my friends.