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Eight

February 12, 2015

Eight years. My mom has been gone for eight years.

She was too young when she died. It was so unexpected.

These are the things I tell myself, again and again. Stating the obvious, again and again.

I sometimes wish that I had known it was coming. It wouldn’t have made it better. Not significantly. There could never have been a “good” scenario that ended in my mother’s death.

I haven’t slept all night. Maybe that is because this is when she died. Maybe it is because I am bad at sleeping. Maybe it is because I am a night owl… like my mom.

I feel like I know her better today than I did then. I understand so many things now that were beyond my grasp when she was alive. I was younger… less mature… less experienced. Now I have spent a few years being crushed by chronic illness and haunted by the accusing demons that have sought to steal my identity, my voice, and my hope.

I wish I had understood her struggles then like I understand them now. Like I will understand them in 20 years. I could have loved her so much better. I could have been compassionate. I could have been less obstructed by hurt and offense.

I was barely alive when she was alive. My spirit, my emotions… my whole self was so buried and so dull. I was not the person I am today… after so much healing and so many encounters with God’s faithfulness and ability to keep me.

Ben doesn’t know her. It seems so wrong that he doesn’t know her. That he only knows the things I have told him or the pieces of her that are in me.

I needed a mom every day of the last eight years. I needed a mom who was alive. I needed an advocate. I needed a voice of truth and encouragement. I needed comfort. I needed guidance. I needed someone who was faithfully praying for me. I needed someone who knew me.

I had all of those things. I had them more perfectly in God. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t need her.

I especially needed her in these last few years. I needed to be reminded of who I was. I needed my misery to be acknowledged and understood. I needed the truth to be… shoved down my throat. (Less room for all of the lies.) I needed love and perspective.

My grief is different. Sometimes it seems easier. Often, it doesn’t. But I know that it is different. I am different. The world she isn’t in is different.

I am grateful to remember the resurrection. Jesus… the FIRSTborn from the dead. The one who died and defeated the grave. The confirmation of greater promises than we can imagine living.

I will likely say some of these same things after another year has passed. But the words will mean different things. I will be different.

I miss her so much. I will see her again. I can’t see her yet.

I am in pain and I am full of hope.

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Ooh! I see a speck of light!

January 8, 2015

I feel good right now. The best I remember feeling in a long time. And… I think I really like it!

I’m tired… but it is the happy tired of “I just got a good workout!” Which is a lot better than the defeated exhaustion of “I just went grocery shopping and now I’m completely spent for the week… and my whole body hurts even more than it did when I dragged it out of bed.”

We just got back from swimming at the Y. An uninterupted hour of treading water and swimming can tire a healthy person (or make them really hungry). I’m not even remotely healthy. But I feel like I have finally figured out a magical assortment of healthy foods, exercise, and supplements that can keep my body going as we work to understand what is wrong with me. Seriously. As tired as I am, this is nothing like my persistent fatigue. I’m not sure where it came from, but I actually have some energy to work with!

PRAISE

THE

LORD

The warm, spring-like weather is only enhancing this sense of being tired, but refreshed. Winters in Colorado Springs are THE BEST. Yesterday was COLD. I got to enjoy falling snow that formed a fresh blanket over the crisp earth. (My favorite!) Today, I was greeted by the warm sun and sounds of trickling snowmelt when I walked out of the gym smelling like a swimming pool. Everything looked, smelled, sounded and felt like spring. New life. Fresh beginnings.

Hope is easier to grasp today than it is most days. I feel the Holy Spirit breathing life in and around me. (The recent norm has been, “Hey, you’re still here, Holy Spirit, aren’t you?”)

I’m also writing again. I wrote a… thing for a thing on the 1st. About 1100 words that would be judged by strangers. It felt good. I also created a new blog, hoping anonymity might help me break through this… writer’s block. It must be doing something, because here I am… writing on the blog that some people I know might read.

Seal seems a little disappointed. The poor cat still wants to spend the majority of her day curled up on my lap, utilizing my body heat to survive the warmish fridge that is our house. (Seriously… Our ” room temperature” water is perfect right now.) But I’m doing things like… moving for reasons beyond an empty water bottle or full bladder… sitting at the computer, where good cuddling can’t be achieved. (Oddly enough, I opted for writing this post on my cell phone… again.)

It is amazing how foreign energy has become. I’m going to go upstairs and shower soon. And it isn’t going to require my usual mental preparation to will myself up the stairs to the room where a bunch of standing awaits me.

Maybe you are reading this and mostly thinking, “Wow… I didn’t realize she had gotten this… pitiful.” But, if things keep trending in this direction…

Not for much longer, friends! Not for much longer!

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Camping in the Rain

August 4, 2013

I grew up living in mobile homes. While that obviously wasn’t the height of luxury, I loved it when it rained. The soothing, steady sound of the drops hitting the roof lulled me into blissful sleep like nothing else. And when sleep eluded me, I would simply lay there, calm and content.

Now, in our town home, I often wake up and realize that I have been oblivious to the rain falling outside my bedroom window. I still get excited when it rains (now that I have finally escaped the land of oppressive humidity), but I miss out on that glorious rain sleep.

Today is different. Today, I’m laying in my tent in the middle of a “gloomy” August afternoon. The rain has been falling for a while, it’s intensity ebbing and flowing like ocean waves on the shore. Joy and peace, however, have washed over me with steadily increasing intensity.

I think people usually need a sedative to find this kind of tranquility. Me? I just need some rain, a good tent, and the Holy Spirit.

Ben wasn’t here when the rain started. He had forgotten the all-important chocolate for the s’mores and we decided it was worth venturing out to get some. He came back a little while ago, but I texted him and recommended that he stay in the old ’88 Trooper to keep him (and everything else) dry. I would still enjoy his company, but my little introvert heart is far from lonely in this ideal setting.

I guess people usually get upset when their camping trips are interrupted by rain. Things get wet and muddy. Activities are hindered. I, however, could not be happier about the fact that it is raining. I arrived exhausted but know I will leave the tent energized. And it won’t even require a nap! Not that I won’t eventually fall asleep if the rain persists.

Speaking of which… I’m going to put my phone away and let the rain do it’s thing.

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Since We’re Being Real

July 25, 2013

Going on the “better late than never” theory, I am finally publishing this post from APRIL 12 to my blog. (This is one of the posts I found saved as a draft.) Here it is:

With that last little disclaimer out of the way… who wants to hear about the recent antics of my ornery little digestive system?

Don’t worry. I’m not planning on giving you the gory details of my digestive dysfunction. But I am going to open up a little bit about the journey.

When we moved to Colorado Springs (almost 13 months ago), my health was notably improving. I had strictly removed gluten from my diet in December (after a diagnosis of celiac disease) and was beginning to feel much better. It was a night and day difference.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite on the glory-to-glory path that I hoped I was on. Almost immediately after I started working at Every Home for Christ, I started to feel quite sick and began to experience some of my scarier symptoms again. I won’t elaborate on those symptoms right now… but they were alarming.

I could not shake the feeling that it would be a really good idea to see a gastroenterologist and make sure that there wasn’t something serious that we were missing. But I also could not imagine paying to see a specialist at that time. Our finances were especially tight after our transition from IHOP-KC to Every Home for Christ. Thus began a really long year of wrestling and confusion.

Another factor in all of this is my family history. In fact, I never met my paternal grandmother because of colon cancer.

When you throw the idea of “colon cancer” into a swirl of alarming symptoms, it’s natural to be concerned. Actually, I’d say it is probably right to be concerned. But I really did my best to convince myself that I was childishly responding to fear and being overly dramatic about nothing.

For a little while, I started feeling significantly better again. Not completely better, but enough to get excited. I attributed most of this to our diet. (We cut out processed foods and other junk for a while. It really made a difference.) But I honestly felt more sick than I let on during that time of improvement. And it was so expensive to eat the way we were eating.

I started to really downplay how sick I was feeling every day. And, for the most part, I kept my mouth shut when anything happened that was alarming. I’d trudge through every day acting like I felt much better than I did. I would push myself to my physical limits (and beyond) and communicate as little as I could about how much pain I was in and how nauseated I was feeling. I didn’t pretend to be 100% great. I just did my best to never reveal the extent of any suffering. I hate feeling like a burden. And since I was still feeling better, it was easy to do. It was also easy to justify, as I told myself that Ben didn’t really need to suffer with me.

[Talk about needing to repent. I am truly ashamed of how willfully deceptive I have been over the last few months.]

Unfortunately, there have been some pretty rough side effects to hiding my pain from my husband. Especially noteworthy is the fact that I have been incredibly irritable. Actually, I’ve been flat out mean. I have been truly disgusted with myself on a daily basis. And I cannot seem to stop myself. Funny how you keep reaping the consequences of your sin while you continue choosing to sin.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Failure to Post

July 25, 2013

It looks like all of the decent posts I’ve written in the last year have not quite made it to the blog. I just found a bunch of them still saved as drafts. Oops! Sorry about that. I really thought I had posted those things.

This makes my blog (of late) even sadder and more neglected than it was in my head. Hopefully I can fix that problem in the coming weeks.

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Writing Seminar

July 25, 2013

In the growing list of things that are awesome about being at EHC… they are currently hosting a little two-day writing seminar with Dean Merrill. After finishing up the first half of this seminar, there is no doubt that he is qualified to speak on this topic. He is also an effective communicator.

I’m pretty wiped out, after this first day. On one level, this is primarily due to the fact that I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. But on another level, I am feeling very provoked and challenged right now.

As some of you may recall, I “recently” (last April) declared my intentions of writing a book. When the inspiration came, I had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But every minute that I spent on the project progressively harder and less inspired. I hit several walls and mostly put everything on the back burner.

Today, as we were covering writing basics (like working out the essence of what you are going to write and nailing down who your audience is), I found myself really wrestling with the book again.

I think that I believe, deep down, that I only have one book in me. So anything I might possibly write that even remotely connects to my topic feels like it needs to get crammed into this project. And thus, the essence of my book is lost in a jumble of loosely related ideas. I need to simplify things a bit and stop trying to write about everything at once. That, of course, raises the question of whether or not I will really have enough to say. But a tiny “book” is probably better than saying so much that I don’t end up communicating anything.

I also think that my audience is not who I thought my audience would be. This is undoubtedly causing my constant frustrations in trying to define my audience. I start to define the group for whom I am writing, but the specific faces who come to mind all seem to fall outside the defining boundaries of that group.

The good news is this: the frustrating things that the seminar is forcing me to wrestle through right now are the frustrating things that held up the process before. If nothing else, doing this is pushing me back in the fight to try this again. I think we can call that some pretty good fruit.

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The Cruelty of Grammar Snobs

July 21, 2013

Before I elaborate on that title, I should disclose the fact that I am a grammar snob. Certain common errors really get under my skin and I often have to work hard to look past bad grammar when I read.

Despite my grammar snobbery, I also strive to be a kind person who doesn’t condemn people for their imperfections. I know that I am quite flawed and make many grammatical mistakes (sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of carelessness). I have cringed more than once when looking back at my own blog posts.

That said, grammar snobs are mean! Not all of us, and not all the time. But I guess that’s why we use a word like “snob”. (Note the flagrant, intentional rebellion in my period placement. Some grammar rules are stupid.)

No one should have to be afraid of people who care about grammar.

I was just reading a question posted in a grammar forum. Half of the responses, however, ignored the question and jumped all over a grammatical error that was made in the asking. Sigh… Obviously, this person doesn’t claim to be a grammar genius. He was vulnerable and asked for help… and you rushed in to devour him.

It hurts my heart when I know that people are afraid of showing me something they’ve written because they believe I will look down on them for poor grammar or spelling. As a general rule, I care… but I probably care about you A LOT more! (If you are a publishing company, that rule does not apply to you. Editors exist for a reason.)

If everyone cared about grammar as much as some of us do, I don’t think it would actually make the world a better place. This might clear up several ambiguities and enhance our communication, but it wouldn’t fix any true injustices.

Fellow grammar snobs, this is my plea: let’s use our knowledge and passion to help people, rather than using it to make them feel like idiots. (And please forgive my own frequent errors. I don’t have the energy to try to be perfect.)

The end.