Life After Loss

 

Today I ran across this picture on my Timehop:

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It’s not the type of picture that would normally elicit memories from the entire day because I probably posted a million similar pictures. This picture however brought with it an array of unexpected emotion.

2 years ago today I sat alone in my living room with my ridiculously pitiful pup and wrote the last blog post I have had any desire to write. I sat for hours with tear stained cheeks and typed my heart out in my Microsoft Word document. I hit saved, exited the program, and never posted it.

So here it is, the last blog post I wrote on January 13, 2015. Take heart half way through, it gets a little better toward the end

Dear 2015, 

I wish I had nice things to say to you, but I can’t think of any right now.
So far you have brought pain and bitter heartache.

I want this to be a letter about all about the positive things, the things you have in store, the secrets to come, the adventures to be had, no negative and no bad…

but it can’t be. 

Because with all of the things that are in store and all of the adventures to be had, there is still a bitter ache.

2015 will never be what I thought it should be.

Every happy thing that happens, the things I will want to shout from the rooftop,
the things that make me want to pick up the phone and call home,
will immediately remind me
that 2015 will never be what I thought it should be. 

And when the days get hard and I feel low,
when I am in the grocery store and I can’t find the right aisle,
when I have more kids in my house and need advice or just an understanding ear
I will again remember
that 2015 will never be what I thought it should be. 

No matter what else happens, 2015, when I look back at you it will sting.
Along with the good memories will come the heartache
Along with the adventures will come a sharp pain
2015 will never be what I thought it should be.

It’s 2015 and 10 days ago my mom died.

2015 will never be what I thought it should be.

Don’t stop reading yet though, because the good part is coming.

For me, 2015 has been heartache and pain beyond what I have known before
but 2015 is not what my mom thought it would be either.
You see, my mom was battling Leukemia, she had been battling it in one form or another for over 2 years. She had undergone extensive chemo, lost all of her hair, had a catheter in her chest, been through a bone marrow transplant, and lost her life as she had previously known it to be. She didn’t have the energy to work, or the immune system to spend time around many other people.
Her life had become something that she never thought it would be.

But she didn’t quit.
She persevered, she ran the race and she finished well.
She loved to the end.
She loved the people that others took for granted.
She loved the downcast and the overbearing.
She knew the love of Jesus and she gave love from Jesus.

Her life had become something that she never thought it would be,
but that didn’t matter,
because Jesus was still the same.
He was the same for her
and I know
that even though 2015 will never be what I thought should be
He will be the same for me too. 

and 2015, even though you bring me pain,
I know you brought my mom peace

I know that right now she is Singing With the Saints.
So even though I am angry enough to throw things at you, and I am extremely conflicted about my feelings on the next sentence… on behalf of my mom I will say,

And for one reason or another, I never wrote that last sentence. I have no idea or memory of what I was planning to put there. Today I sit in a different living room typing once again with tear stained cheeks while eating crackers to curb the nausea that has come with the pregnancy of my second child and trying to my keep my first child from chewing on my toes with his brand new, really sharp teeth (babies are gross).

In September 2015 I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and I realized in that moment that this letter was accurate. For the rest of my life it will never be what I thought it should be. There are still so many happy days, and the years have looked much brighter than the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 looked for my family, but the ache that comes with loss never really dulls or goes away, you just kind of learn to live differently.

I have also learned that while the first half of the letter is accurate mostly on the days when big things happen, the second half of the letter is even more accurate every single day. Jesus is still the same, and He is enough. He doesn’t take the pain away, because pain is part of life on this sin riddled Earth, but He holds us through it, He gives us the strength to continue, and He gives us joy even in the hard times.

So I want to encourage you this year, if you are or find yourself in a place of loss, depression, shame, guilt, fill in the blank, look to Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith, He is there in every season, and as I have seen over and over again the past 2 years

HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW

*Sorry my first post in 2 years was sappy and full of tears, hopefully in the years to come I will fill these pages with much more upbeat words.*

When you can’t find your journal, you remember that you have a blog that you haven’t used in ages…

When you can’t find (any of) your (15 brand new) journal(s)…

 

Some Memories:

December has been a gold mine of memories for me. I’m not sure why this is the month that has brought out all of the memories, but it would seem that December is a month of nostalgia. I remember the fuzzy socks my mom wore all winter long. They were giant and comfortable and she always had them on in the winter, and it never failed that underneath those fuzzy socks her toes were perfectly painted a deep red to go with the theme of December.

 

I have memories of hot chocolate and marshmallow crème, because it melted better than regular marshmallows, memories of cowboy Santa’s, moose, and a million random Christmas decorations that she picked up (probably from Goodwill) that didn’t really match anything else that she put in the house.

 

I have childhood memories of coming home from Christmas vacation in NM to a house still decorated and a tree still up, ornaments still hung and stocking still stuffed. It was like Christmas after Christmas when we came home because my parents always saved Christmas with our immediate family for after the festivities with extended family when we traveled. I remember the year of the fold out doll house, it was the exact one that I wanted. I remember the year I got a sewing machine and my grandma took me to buy a few extra necessities. I remember how excited my grandma was that I was interested in sewing. I remember that year my mom putting extra work into making sure someone could help me understand the basics of my machine (because she didn’t sew), thanks Mrs. Jeananne…

 

We didn’t have a lot of set traditions around the holidays, but it didn’t matter. Each year was unique and I remember them for that very reason. Christmas won’t be quite the same this year without fuzzy socks, red toes, and hodge-podged décor, but I still have Rudolph hanging on my front door to remind me of the little things that made my mom happy and to remind me that no tragedy is too big for God to heal, and if we look hard enough we can still experience joy in the details.

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Lord, thank you for today and for the people you have placed in my life. Thank you for joy and for a better second half of the year. More than anything, thank you for reminding me that you never leave my side, and I am only far from you when I choose not to pursue you. Please give me a humble heart and a genuine desire to pursue you no matter my circumstances.

 

Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)

 

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

My prayer for myself right now is that I would be a better example of what it looks like to be called “blessed” by the God who created the universe and then sent His only Son to leave every comfort of His home and step into a world that was/is completely hostile to Him so that we could experience a true and lasting relationship with our creator and the only true King.

Small moments and Small healing

On Monday I drove to Missouri to see my grandparents.
I wasn’t expecting anything special, just a quiet visit with my grandparents because I don’t see them often enough.
I got a lot more than I had expected. It’s cool how God shows up when you least expect it. It’s amazing how the littlest things can often feel like stitches sewing up a broken heart.

I have always seen my mom in my grandpa. I think they are so much alike.
They share an adventurous spirit, a gypsy soul that can only be tamed by an incredibly gifted personality, and even then only for a short time. They share a wild side, a mischievous personality that is always up to the best kinds of no-good. The kind that may get them into a little bit of trouble, but that also makes a situation feel light-hearted and that seems to draw people to them. They are fun, and they are unique.

But on Monday when I pulled into the driveway it was not my grandpa that seemed to bring back the memories of my mom. It was her mom. My grandma. The one with the incredibly gifted personality that every gypsy soul needs in their life. It was her expression and how she came outside to greet me when I pulled up, with her hands on her hips and squinting into the sun. I could almost see my mom.

I miss that.

I stayed with my grandparents for three days and it brought healing that I never anticipated.
I saw my mom in my grandma like I never realized. I saw her in the compassion and matter-of-fact way that she spoke. I saw her in the busy-body that is my grandma, the never-sits-still always-ready-to-help attitude that has always been my grandma. I saw her in the little things that I never thought to think about.

God used small moments. I found healing in the way that our conversation flowed. In the fact that even when we had nothing to say it was ok. I found comfort through watching her work and interact with the people around her. I found comfort because I felt almost like I was with my mom.

I am so thankful for my grandparents. I am thankful for how he put my mom together using their personalities. I am thankful that I have time with them to know where I come from. I am thankful for their past and how it shaped their present, and I am thankful for how God used their past to shape the woman that I called mom.

God used the smallest moments of my time to bring little bits of healing that I can only pray will be the beginning of a renewed hope in my life.

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Give me eyes to see you

It would be an understatement to say that I have been irritable lately for some unknown reason.
But today has been a very good day and this is why;

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
therefore I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV

So thankful to serve a God like that.

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Kelsey

Dry Bones

I have spent recent months in a place of spiritual discontentment. I found myself feeling like every story I read was one that I had read a thousand times before and, to be honest, I didn’t feel like reading it one more time.

And at the same time my bones were dry and my insides were dead.

I prayed for new eyes
I prayed for a renewed hunger for God’s word
I prayed for a fire to burn in my heart
I prayed for a passion that would drive my life

and I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed
and my bones remained dry and my insides remained dead.
I remembered what it felt like to want to know Christ more for awhile and I wanted to want that. And then I got tired of wanting to want and it just became a numb thought at the very back of my very full mind.

I still knew the words to say and I still read and I still prayed but Jesus felt far away, and I started to wonder if this would be what our relationship looked life from now on.
And then I picked up a book.
“The Insanity of God”

cs-insanity-lNow please don’t go all super spiritual on me and lecture me about The Bible being the only book I should need because it is God’s inspired and Holy word. 

I know that.

But I believe that in that moment, when I was reading, but not really paying attention to The Bible, God placed in my hands exactly what He knew would get my attention. Honestly, He could have used any book and that’s fine (though this is a great one and if you haven’t read it you should). 

And frankly it wouldn’t have mattered to me what book He used I’m just so thankful He did.

And finally after months of dry insides and dead bones God woke me up again and I am reading with new eyes and a deeper sense of gratitude for grace. 

I’m reading John right now. I am using the Gospel Transformation Bible. My prayer is that with every verse, chapter and book I read the transformation in my own life becomes more and more obvious. My prayer is also that my relationship becomes one of such intimacy that I can hear everything the still small voice whispers, and that I would have the courage to obey. 

You probably thought there was a point to this post when you started reading it. There really isn’t. I just felt like I needed to write down what has been going on in my heart recently. And this just barely scratches the surface. I do hope that if you find yourself in the place I was in that this gives you hope.

~Kels~

A Few of Our Favorite Things

I thought that having kids would give me abundantly more to say on here, and it has. The problem is there is so much to say and so many emotions that I can’t seem to sort through them well enough to articulate them.

So in the mean time I will tell you some of our new favorite activities (and by our I obviously mean the girls);

Rain Drops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens…
Not really, that song is only one of my favorites. If I tried to get my family to sit still for the movie, Clint would fast forward through all the songs and the girls would cheer him on (true story: that’s exactly what he did when I tried to make him watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He just doesn’t get it.).

10171925_10201606277865661_1275577961_nWe love $3 Target Tu-Tu’s, but that goes without explanation.

Sorry (the board game). Can I just tell you, they changed this game. They added tokens called Fire and Ice “power ups”. The ice one we have figured out and we play with it regularly, but even after reading the instruction 3 times I could not for the life of me understand what to do with Fire! Anyway, I have to keep both eyes on the game because I have 2 cheaters and one who is still trying to understand the concept of a board game.

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Mickey Mouse Memory, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and all other things Mickey Mouse. For the record, 4-year-olds do not have the attention span to play a matching game with 64 pieces (that may be an exaggeration). Also, I do not love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I miss classic Mickey Mouse. The characters lack.. well.. character! And at any point in time during the day you can walk through my house and hear “Oh toodles!!” being yelled by the TV, kids, or Clint…

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Toodles is the odd floating head next to Mickey. He has a face most the time and he is their gadget that helps fix things, aren’t you so thankful for the useful information I fill your head with?

Kids Songs. Squirrely (the younger of the two) is very inquisitive and if we are in the car she will ask a million questions about ridiculous things that I cannot answer. My patience for this grew thin after a month so I had an idea one day in the car; Kids Songs! Oh my it was a hit, and not just for Squirrely but Lilttle Momma (the older of the two) LOVES them as well. We sing the baby bumblebee song, tiny turtle, days of the week, The B-I-B-L-E, and Zacchaeus pretty much every day. That’s fine. I will sing about smashing a bumblebee any day if it means I do not have to listen to One Direction. (Every song sounds the SAMEEE)


On that note, I need some more kids song, so feel free to leave suggestions!

Leggings. Ok, if you know me you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people wear leggings as pants. THEY ARE NOT PANTS. If you want to wear them with a long shirt that covers all your parts, fine, but wearing them as a substitute for jeans is not ok past like 2 year old.
This is a concept that was never taught to my girls. They have more leggings than all other clothing items combined. We have had to take a shopping trip to find shirts that are long enough to be my version of acceptable with leggings. And I am about to cave on Jeggings. It’s just a battle I can’t fight anymore.

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I don’t really love these greeting card things, but this one seemed appropriate.

Their favorite part about living with us (as they informed the caseworker) is church =). We love that. It has made such an impact in their lives that BioMom has started attending a local church so that they can keep it in their lives when they go home (as long as everything keeps going the way it is currently going). We are thrilled about that, we know that Jesus is the only one who can fix a broken family and make something beautiful out of it.

That is the hope that I cling to every day for my girls.

Anyway, thanks for reading!
All you friendlies that I don’t get to see on a regular basis: I miss you!

*Kels

 

She *Five Minute Friday*

She

Today I wrote a research paper on child brides. 
Did you know that 49 countries allow families to marry their little girls off at ages as young as 8?

The hardest part was the research before the writing. Reading all the stories realizing that most of them were written about little girls young enough to fit into Clint and I’s range for foster care. It broke my heart. 

Did you know that the number one cause of death in these countries for girls ages 15-19 is childbirth?

The part that really got me is that the parents do this because they genuinely feel that it is the best option for their daughters. If their daughters are not married their likelihood for becoming a rape victim increases, their chances of getting married later in life decreases because they are seen as flawed and without a husband they have no way to survive due to the cost of education. 

I wonder if we are aware in our society of all the injustice that happens in the world. I wonder, even when we become aware, how many of us will care enough to do something. How many of us will get angry for those little girls? Angry enough to step outside of our comfort zone and try to enact change?

She.

FiveMinuteFriday

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Photo by: Gagan Thapa
The photo is a link to its original source.