:: old friends ::

There we were, a whole group of us. Sitting around a table of hot tea, delicious food, and delightful conversation. Though seemingly only one thread connected us, yet it may surprise you to know there's so much more. There's a knowing that comes from years. And experiences. A knowing of the heart that settles in.

No matter the time.
No matter the circumstances.
No matter the age differences.

Once connected in heart, always connected in heart.

The infinite beauty of an old friend.

We've chosen different jobs, different churches, different life experiences...

And yet...

The same God, the same Jesus, the same love, and the same friendship. Even the same laughter whenever we're together! So much more commonalities than would seem apparent.

It's the heart lessons here. It's joy we've experienced together, and it's the heartaches too. These ladies have simply always been there. I've moved far away, yet they never left me. I came back and there they were, arms wide open.

My constants.
My heart.
My dearest of friends.

We have hiked and road-tripped and toured...
We have sat hours talking and playing games...
We have journeyed life together...
And at the end of the day, we have LOVED.

It's a heart-full, loved-on, happy-inducing, smile-bright, imperfectly-perfect friendship, these ladies.

And through dating, marriages, inter-state moves, and all manner of changes... Every single step we've taken together has grown my heart three sizes.

There's just something about old friends!

For my heart that pulls elsewhere always knows,
no matter where it may be,
there's hearts waiting,
always at the ready,
to welcome and love
no matter what.

It's a glorious feeling like none other! And when life hits hard, and the pain gets crazy, my wild heart knows the place it can count on...

That's what these ladies are to me.
A comfortable place of rest that is sure.




fighting fear

"Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it."
My friend Jamie wrote that in a post from last year. I was randomly skimming through some of her old blog posts for whatever reason and I read that and y'all....

Fear is so very real, isn't it? It's a BATTLE. Every single day! Maybe not everyone has the hard battle I do with it, but I feel fairly safe in saying we all battle it in some form or other. And man what a battle it is!

And now that I'm at a better place with my health, I have no excuse for just sitting idly and refusing to think about this Thing again. So naturally, that's when this incredible FEAR rises! Everything within me may be saying YES, but that fear says what about...what if...what are you doing?! And honestly? I have no idea what I'm doing. I have absolutely no idea where this will take me or what hard I may endure or what exciting stuff may happen. The only thing I do know? Is God has absolutely gotten me this far. I would NOT be here but for Him. I would definitely not be on this cliff edge, wondering if I should jump off into the unknown, but for Him.

Yes, it's scary. But as so many have said through the years, if it's scary that probably means you should do it! If it's scary, that probably means that the enemy is striving hard to keep you from it, because it likely means you could do him some serious damage if you do it! And how amazing would that be? To be a part of the bigger battle! To do some MAJOR damage to the enemy! To become broken and scared and wondering, yet step out anyway! Because God said DO IT and I did.

If He tells me to do it and I don't? Isn't that a MUCH scarier place to be? I think so!

I think maybe He's just waiting for me to LEAP and then He'll take care of the rest. He's waiting for me to prove I believe Him, that I trust Him, and so what if I fall? So what if I leap out and then it turns out maybe I don't actually do this Thing after all? Turning around after leaping out doesn't mean I was wrong. It doesn't mean I misheard Him. It simply means I had things to learn from the experience. It means those steps were necessary in order for the next steps after to be able to happen. For that next person that I might need to help, for that next experience to grow in my knowledge of Him, for the next example I can use to reach someone who is withering in the battle themselves!

For the simple fact that I chose to be obedient.

I've been waiting for the clear sign I've asked for. Didn't I receive it this past week? I'm pretty sure I did! So if that sign is there, how can I deny it?

There are unsettled days
When sense & logic are a tangle of knots
The heart is seeking elsewhere
& every thought is churning
In the question marks & unknowables
& all the unexplainable feelings
(which tumble & crash & loop-de-loop)
God's quiet relentlessness can break our walls
fill our hearts
& make possible embracing our uncertainty
It's there we surrender
& in our yielding, He is Grace
& Hope is brave again


Going back to my own words to remind myself....

Hope is brave again


it's a faith thing...

"And then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick." ~ JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
So I leaped a couple weeks ago. A mini leap, if you will. Nothing great, or huge, or amazing. Except actually it was? Not to anyone else but me (and God!), of course, but that's okay. Because it was fairly incredible for me! And I seem to get reminded of how incredible it is whenever I begin to speak of the New to someone else who hasn't heard it yet. (Which turns out to happen a great deal, as I haven't shared this New with hardly anybody prior to now! Not the details anyway.)

I've had small little convos here and there with just a few in my life that I decided it high time they knew where my heart was reaching. It's during these serious convos that I forget how exciting it is! I get focused on the Hard and the Unknown, because believe me, those things are there and quite big. Yet as I sit here contemplating (only in my own heart) all the details and the what ifs and the unknowns and all the scary, I am filled yet again with a heart-beating-loud excitement! (Or maybe it's because I'm currently sitting in my newest fave spot, a quaint little coffee shop that just gets my creative heart pumping hard. :) It's true, there is much to contemplate before I jump off the ledge into God's arms. I know He'll be there, but I want to be sure that He wants me there, off this particular ledge I mean.

I was talking with a friend last week and he stated exactly what I was feeling but couldn't put in words. Approximately a month ago, when this door suddenly made itself known to me, I stood in front of it for days and days, staring and praying and contemplating. Wanting to be absolutely certain that God wanted me to go through it. Finally that moment came when I knew it was time to step over the threshold. But now, I no longer have as much time to just stand and contemplate the roads before me! I'm still praying and seeking, don't get me wrong, but I'm learning that the praying and seeking have to come mid-stride, not while standing still in one place. I have to keep going, keep walking, and each time I raise my foot and lower it down, I want to be certain that I'm moving in the direction that God is leading me.

That's tough, friends! It's the obedience in action. Which, I know, is so much of our constant daily lives, but it simply feels way different when I'm moving towards a scary and BIG change and direction! And all the potentials for moving out in the wrong direction seem bigger too. Because I want certainty. And obedience in action doesn't always bring immediate certainty. Or maybe it does? I'm not clear on this quite yet. God and I obviously still have much to chat about!

Really, I think it's more of a faith thing. Faith that brings obedience that brings action. How much of what I'm thinking and praying about am I willing to step out in faith for? Am I going to continue to doubt and wonder whether this certain path is where God is leading? (I mean, He's clearly put it in my heart, otherwise I wouldn't be so focused and unable to think about anything else. He never places things and options in our path if He didn't want us to pray about them, right?) Or am I going to stop the doubt RIGHT HERE and move forward without it? How much am I trusting my Father? How much am I willing to surrender? Everything? Because until I can surrender it all, I'm probably not going to get very far...

Yet I was just reminded of those verses in Mark chapter 5, where it's talking about the lady with the issue of blood and how she gets healed. We read through that chapter several months ago during church one Sunday and this particular verse has been stuck in my heart ever since:

vs 34 "And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole..."

And also this one:

vs 36 "As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe."

"Something Tookish" has been gripping my heart for months, for years even, and I think it's high time I paid attention. My heart has been stymied by all manner of doubt and fear, even while everything else within me is screaming to go for it. So why am I listening to the doubt? Why am concentrating so heavily on the what ifs? What if God is simply waiting for me to let go and move?  I want to be determined to stop the fears and doubts right now, right here, right this very second. When everything in me says YES, YES, YES. It looks big, yes. It looks hard, yes. It looks uncomfortable and crazy and all manner of things, yes. But where in God's Word does it say I need to be concerned with uncomfortable and crazy? So this is me, reminding myself again.

God's got this! He's got me. Cradled right there in His arms and He'll never let me go.



:: LEAP ::

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." —Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)
This passage is very dear to me. It's convicting. In fact it WAS so convicting to me more than five years ago, that it set our family on a course of life-change we never could have imagined.
I was struggling with the first part of that verse -- the self-exploration I did resulted in a mirror image of a woman I didn't want to be. There was this small flicker of a flame -- a dream of creativity on my heart -- that for the life of me, I just could not shake. And each day, I went to work. Happy to have a job. Responsible to contribute to the care of our family. But feelings of discontent began to override any of the comforts in the life we'd built for ourselves. And out of the exploration (and several years of focused prayer), my husband and I had a sense that God was calling us to more. Not to have more or achieve or collect or succeed by the world's standards. This was spiritually more. To be closer. Walk farther. Dig deeper into the heart of God through His Word. To live a life that was sold-out. Sold-out to Jesus. And that was new, scary...exhilarating to imagine.
What if we weren't afraid to take a leap?
What if we could risk in order to live the life God had put on our hearts?
It IS possible. Maybe someone needs to hear that today? That the dream-of-your-heart moments are not disposable to God! They're not wasted. They're not meant to be tucked away for some brave moment in the future when we might give it a try. Why? He put the dreams there on your inner-most heart. He engraved the creativity. This is the ONE LIFE we get. And it's not meant to be spent living it safe. We can trust Him with our loftiest dreams. We can risk with Him -- because the truth is, He will never let us fall.
So EXPLORE today. Look where He's sending you. Just wait and see what He will do... Here's to the dream-chasers!"
~ Kristy Cambron via Instagram

Kristy wrote that last fall, almost a year ago in fact. And it spoke to my heart. Oh, friends how it shouted! But I could in no way tell you why or what on earth it actually was that my heart was feeling in that moment when I read those words. All I knew is that it felt something. Something clear as a bell rang through the fog and I knew. Only I didn't know what I knew!!

How crazy is that? It makes no sense, right? I completely agree. Only I think I may finally be starting to understand it? Because the heart-dream that I had tucked way, WAY down deep inside? So deep that I barely even remembered it was there? It's speaking to me this days, friends. My heart jumps and leaps and beats crazy hard these days. And I still don't know precisely what it looks like, but I know it's there. I know I'm feeling it and I'm excited! So excited that even just writing about it right now, at the mere thought of it, my heart is nonsensically happy. It's leaping and bounding, sort of like Tigger does in Winnie the Pooh! ;D

Excited to the point that I can't hardly contain it! I've haven't felt this way since I don't even know when. It's hard for me to even pinpoint the last time my heart beat so crazily at the mere thought of a Thing, it's really been that long. And the Thing! Oh friends, I don't know what this Thing is going to be. I'm still working through what the Thing is going to look like, what it's going to entail, where it's going take my heart....and it's a fear-filled huge jump out of my nice little comfort zone. Here where I'm content, most days I'm happy and joy-filled and getting through. Yet this Thing? While there is great potential to be quite happy and joyful and filled to the brim with MORE, it also looks really, really........scary. And impossible. There are SO many things that would have to fall into place perfectly for this to happen. Scary things. Hard things. Things that I'd have to accept for the miracle they are, yet I know the guilt and wondering that could come along with them.

Yet here's the kicker. Today I was pondering a convo I had recently with this awesome teen that I know. He is in his senior year of high school and imagining where his future is going to take him. Which is an exciting place to be! (I should know. ;) But where my thoughts were going was how badly I wanted to tell him to LEAP!

My mind immediately went to Serena Chase's dedication in her latest book Intermission. Wherein, as you can see, she tells us to hold on and then when the time is right, we need to leap. Leap out in full faith that Jesus will guide our steps! This particular teen has some ideas of where he'd like his future to go and, as is wise, he was cautiously excited about a couple new ideas thrown out at him. He absolutely does need to be sure God is guiding him this way. However, I really want to shout at him to step out anyway! Because that excitement he's feeling? God placed it there. I'm absolutely certain about that. And God never, ever, ever places excitement for something in our hearts but what it doesn't lead somewhere awesome. Granted, it may not look exactly like we're first picturing, but that doesn't mean it won't be AMAZING. God just works like that.

Someone told me that very thing recently and I was struggling to believe it. I knew it in my head, but getting my heart to cling to it? A whole other thing entirely. Yet when I pictured myself trying to say this same thing to my teenage friend? I had no hesitation whatsoever! As that occurred to me, I realized I needed to be taking my own advice, I needed to believe it about myself just as much as I believed it about him.

So I'm taking it. Today, I am claiming that for me. Whatever this Thing is in my life, whatever God has planned for it, whatever it looks like, however crazy and impossible it seems, I'm claiming it. I'm tired of dithering. I'm tired of circling my brain over and around and all topsy-turvy. It's mine. He planned it and He gave it and He'll water and care over it and make it glorious to Him.

All I have to do? Is just say yes. Simple as that!

Here I am, Lord, leaping.



{So my birthday happened recently and a dear friend had a little party for me. A bookish sort of party! :) She requested that I pick out a quote from a book that I really liked or I could write a poem or whatever inspired me... So! I happened to remember one of my very favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis and this poem happened.}

A story begins with chapter one
(as does life)
Even the Bible has a beginning
Not so, with God
He always was
& will be
Yet in that Great Infinite
He understands
our hearts need story
Immersing ourselves
& our imaginations
in this incredible adventure
With our newborn cry
our first pages are written
& the story grows
Sometimes the path is easy
(not much is happening on the page)
yet moments may come
rushing one to the next
as the plot thickens!
our lives mix genres
at any one time
With a constant Thread of Hope
weaving in & out
of every moment
building characters & heart
amongst a backdrop of unimaginable Beauty
(for God's world-building is limitless)
Every word & breath
with a Purpose
moving scenes forward
step by step
page by page
until we reach the Climax
"& for us this is the end
of all the stories
& we can most truly say...
they all lived
happily ever after
it was only the beginning
of the real story
All their life in this world...
had only been
the cover & the title page
now at last
they were beginning Chapter One
of the Great Story
which goes on
for ever
in which every chapter
is better
than the one before"

{& C.S. Lewis "The Last Battle"}


Dear Friend...

{This is written in response to hearing about friends whose parent has been diagnosed or they fear may be diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.}

Dear Friend,

It's scary, isn't it? This not knowing? This new diagnosis that looks huge and terrifying? I know that feeling well. Oh how I know it. I wish I had the words to tell you it will be alright. But the truth is? It won't be. Not really. Your new reality is that your life and all those around your loved one's lives have irrevocably changed. And everything will take on a difficulty that you won't necessarily like.

Parkinson's is a terrible, awful, no good, very bad disease, for the record! And whether you're the one going through it or someone you love dearly is going through it, it just simply stinks. Plain and simple, it's yucky and there is no getting around that!

I was only 10 or so when my mom was diagnosed, so I dealt with it much differently than if I'd been an adult. I know that. But mom did SO well for so many years that it wasn't until the last 8 years or so of her life that we, as her family, had to really look this disease in the face. My dearest mother (and my father, I'm sure) took on the huge burden of what this new thing was going to do to their lives and carried it so calmly and reassuringly that the rest of us had no idea of what they were carrying.

But then...

I was in my upper 20s when mom fell and, through recovery of a broken pelvic bone, threw her Parkinson's into overdrive. Suddenly there was this HUGE UNKNOWN staring me right in the eyes and I had no idea what to do with it. For years, I'd just been in denial, really, that mom's disease affected me. I learned really quickly that it did. When your mother suddenly requires help, when she suddenly can't make any and all decisions alone, when you have to step up and take on more responsibility (on top of your already busy/crazy life of your own), and especially when your parents sit all of you down and admit that they can't do this without you...

Let's just say it was an eye-opener. So I get it! I was forced to make one choice that day. Whether I was going to step up and take on that responsibility, including everything that I didn't know it entailed at the time, or whether I wouldn't. Obviously, you can probably figure out which I chose. But it wasn't easy, and so yours won't be either. But it'll be worth it. Trust me. Looking back on this side of mom's passing, I am so, so grateful I had that time with her.

Yet I'm not kidding when I say it's not easy! It's so much more than just having to physically do things for your loved one that you've never had to do before. It's the emotional side! I think that's actually the hardest. Watching as dignity and pride of both you and your mom have to get tossed out the window so you can help her to the bathroom and other things we're used to keeping private. Struggling to find words to encourage when she's just really tired of fighting this battle and wondering why God thought she could endure it. Your own battle of accepting your new normal and coming to terms with it. (Realizing that sometimes you just don't want to have to help her, you wish your life was "normal" so that you could come and go as you please without constantly wondering how she was doing and if she needed anything and keeping one eye on her at all times. Then immediately feeling guilty for having such understandable feelings!) The emotional aspect is certainly a roller coaster. And the combination of both the physical and emotional toll it takes on you can be more difficult that I can describe.

But now that we've established the terribleness of it, can I tell you something else?

It can bring really good things into your life, if you let it.

  • Things like a new appreciation for all the little things we do, such as simply decide I'm going to get up and walk across the room and I do it! It's a daily reminder for how precious life truly is.
  • It can bring your family closer together. It did for mine. We had to make effort to contact one another often and check in. Encourage each other that we weren't alone in this battle. 
  • It'll grow your prayer life and reliance on God like never before! It's definitely a constant reminder that we can't do any of it by ourselves, it's only through His strength.
  • It can cause you to find a core group of friends around you who let you vent, give you hugs when you need them, and inspire you to keep going.

Fighting a battle such as Parkinson's Disease can bring some amazing things in your life that you may never have discovered elsewise. God likes to work like that, you know? :)

So what I'm saying is that it's hard, but you can do it. Just remember not to try to do it alone! Because that's what the enemy is going to throw a lot of his poisonous arrows at, our sense of loneliness and fear. Keep praying, get a core group of friends (even if only two or three) to actively pray on a daily (or hourly) basis against this specific thing! It's really amazing how much encouragement it gives when we know someone is praying for us. :) 

Above all else, if you remember nothing else from this letter, remember this one thing: God's got this. You may never understand why your family is having to go through this, but He does. He's got a purpose in everything, and as cliched as that sounds, I truly believe there is some AMAZING things that will come out of this if you let Him lead you. You'll probably make some mistakes (I made plenty!), you may even end up with regrets (I definitely did), but the Good Things God will do will be too numerous to list. I believe that with all my heart.

Hang in there, okay? You are not alone. 



No Voyage

I wake earlier, now that the birds have come
And sing in the unfailing trees.
On a cot by an open window
I lie like land used up, while spring unfolds.

Now of all voyagers I remember, who among them
Did not board ship with grief among their maps?—
Till it seemed men never go somewhere, they only leave
Wherever they are, when the dying begins.

For myself, I find my wanting life
Implores no novelty and no disguise of distance;
Where, in what country, might I put down these thoughts,
Who still am citizen of this fallen city?

On a cot by an open window, I lie and remember
While the birds in the trees sing of the circle of time.
Let the dying go on, and let me, if I can,
Inherit from disaster before I move.

O, I go to see the great ships ride from harbor,
And my wounds leap with impatience; yet I turn back
To sort the weeping ruins of my house:
Here or nowhere I will make peace with the fact.

~ Mary Oliver


I miss you

Dear mom,

I can't believe it's been an entire year already. Each day without you gets a bit easier, but the part of my heart that you have permanent residence in? It's always going to be a bit jagged and painful. Just a bit. I know that pain will lessen the longer it goes, but I also know I will always, always miss you!

This morning I saw a car with a handicap thing hanging from its rearview mirror and it made me think of you. The days leading up to Mother's Day last weekend were filled with advertisements all about celebrating and it made me miss you fiercely. (I've learned holidays will do that. I have much more compassion for those who are grieving around any major holiday now.) I visited Biltmore Estate last weekend with friends and all the beautiful flowers reminded me of how much you loved them. How much you would work in your flowerbeds and how many hours and hours we spent at greenhouses (I also remember how much I dreaded going, I didn't understand your love of flowers back then, did I? :) looking for just the perfect ones to plant. I never knew there were so many reminders of you around, but there are. And I simultaneously love it, yet it makes me cry.

I used to read in fictional stories about how a character who had lost one or both of their parents years before the story begins would still get teary-eyed when they thought of them. I remember sort of rolling my eyes, thinking that surely the grief couldn't still be that fresh. Ah, how wrong I was! I don't cry at the drop of a hat, but when I spend a good deal of time (like today) thinking about you and all that I miss and how much I wish you were here, the tears come. And I think how could I be any different? I think it's just part of loving someone so much. Your heart will forever miss them once they're gone. So kudos to the authors! Because they were right.

Dad and I stopped by your gravesite the other evening. I told him how I don't often visit you there, but every once in a while I feel the need to go talk to you. There's something soothing about it, telling you all the things I'd tell you if you were here.

That's one thing I really miss, talking to you. All these memories from years past have surfaced in the last year. Things I'd forgotten all about. But now I remember all the times I sat with you and cried over the aches and pains I dealt with. All the teenage angst and the friendship issues and the fears and wonders. You listened. Every single time. You couldn't always fix it, but you always listened and always had a hug for me. I never once doubted that you'd be there when I needed it. And I'm so grateful, mom. I wish I had told you how much that meant to me over the years.

My heart is full though. I had you in my life for just over 30 years and while I wish I could've had you for 30 more, I'm so glad for the memories I have. Some people lose their mom far sooner than I! Instead, I have your quiet example always before me. You taught me so much more than even the words you spoke, and you made me feel loved and wanted every single day of my life. So I'll gather that love deep inside me for the days my grief hits a bit harder and trust the Ever Faithful to keep me going.

I love you whole bunches, mom. Forever and always!



faith builders

When things aren't going smoothly in our lives, that's usually when God is allowing the Hard to build our faith. Isn't that just what He does? 

The thought occurred to me recently that ever since I moved back to VA over three years ago, my life has felt like a constant upheaval process. My emotions seem to fly all over the place and my reliance on Him seems to have to be rebuilt day after day after day. I doubt and fear far, far too often. Yet even through the doubts, He has remained faithful. When I look back at different moments, I can see His hand working so very clearly. In turn, this continues to remind me how wonderful He has been to me! :) Never once in my life has He ever turned His back on me. Ever. Yet it's the Hard that makes me call on Him. When life was flowing easy, like my life before my Big Move, I didn't have much forward movement. It was more stagnant treading of water, there was action on my part, but I wasn't really going forward.

But now. Even in the ups and downs and fears and wonderments, I feel like I'm actually moving ahead. Like my faith is being built up and even when I doubt, it's simply a way for God to use to prove to me once again how much I need Him. I might only be taking baby steps, yes, but even a small bit of progress is still progress! :)

I just love how I can look back at my life and pinpoint moments where my faith grew. Where He proved Himself faithful once again when I let Him have my everything. Sometimes it's too easy for me to look at my life in the current and see only the Hard of the moment. Yet when I take even one step back and look at the bigger picture, all I can see is amazement of how far He's led me! Because when it's the Hard that He uses and your life is seemingly one Hard after another? There's nowhere for your faith to go but up, right?

So here's to the faith builders in our lives. They aren't always fun, sometimes they hurt like you wouldn't believe, yet in the end we learn to trust the heart of the Ever Faithful. What more could we ask?


Behold HE Comes!

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee
Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes

You've probably heard the song Days of Elijah. I went to a singing school program last week where the children sang this song and it was beautiful! I'd heard it before, knew it fairly well in fact, but there was just something about hearing children's voices singing those words of glory and excitement. :)

As I sat at a funeral service over the weekend for my great uncle, my mind kept returning to those words: Behold HE comes!

Life and death circle each other constantly, don't they?  There seems to always be new babies born and not a single one of us is exempt from a final goodbye with our loved ones. Goodbyes are hard and can be yucky sometimes. Or at least, they can cause us to feel yucky and sad. But when you look at a casket of someone who has truly lived for Jesus, while there may be sad, mostly there's rejoicing. I wore orange to the funeral because while I figured I'd probably stand out amidst all the darker clothing (and I did, indeed), I wanted to shout that it was a day of celebration! Because it was. I mean, if there is lots of rejoicing in Heaven when someone here chooses to follow Jesus, how much more rejoicing must there be when one returns Home again? :)

So even as grieving may bring sad, even as the hard things of life may bring heartache, this one thing we can absolutely count on. HE is coming again, and when He calls us, no matter what we've experienced here, it will be worth it all.

Out of Zion's hill, Salvation comes!

May bittersweetness

Today marks a year since our journey began. Exactly a year ago today, mom went into the hospital and when she came home five days later, we knew it was for the last time. Wow. A whole year has gone by! I don't know that I dwell so much on all the particulars about how much I miss her every day, but I do think about her just about every single one. Life gets busy and it's funny the times that I'll think about how hard it's been, yet other times all I really think about is how much I miss her smile.

I don't know that anyone else in my family even remembers the exact dates like I do. But I haven't forgotten them. (Oh I probably will some day, but not yet.)

May 2nd, the day she went to the ER.

May 3rd, the night she went on the ventilator and scared all of us silly.

May 4th, the night we decided we wouldn't put her on a feeding tube.

May 6th, the day she came home for the very last time. What a bittersweet moment that was. All my family had been together just that afternoon, surrounding her bedside at the hospital, before one of my brothers had to leave. And the sweetness of being together, singing, praying, ah my heart. And then we brought her home. So wonderful to have her there, where she was most comfortable and so were we! (Hospitals can be nice places and the staff that week had been fantastic in their care of us all, but there's just no way to truly relax there.)

May 7th, early morning and late night, twice she woke up and giggled and laughed and tried to talk a little bit. Such sweet, sweet moments that I'll treasure forever.

May 8th, my last Mother's Day I got to spend with her. She had lots of visitors that day and was in and out of awareness.

And then each moment got more and more precious as they got fewer and fewer. Until that final moment when she let go. Forever.

This year, the month of May is bittersweet. Not in a bad way! I don't plan to burst into tears the entire month (I hope), but I've a feeling my emotions will be closer to the surface. And I'll think of her just a little bit more often.

I miss you, mom. And I love you, forever and always.


it is well

So I occasionally (read: often) have bouts of anxiety. Silly as this may sound, it wasn't until very recently that I ever thought that's what I was dealing with. I mean, I've felt like this a lot throughout my life, but had just never called it that. Never even imagined that's what I was feeling. But it's true. I deal with anxiousness. Not to such an extent that I can't function normally, obviously, but enough that I feel it and I certainly don't always handle it well.

For example, the other afternoon I realized (way too belatedly) that I was feeling overly anxious about a situation. Which then caused me to rapidly search for a way to get around said situation with as little fallout as possible, in which case I overcompensated and inevitably made the situation worse. I wanted to prevent something from happening, but instead perhaps made it happen even faster. Not a great way to handle it, yes?! Still, I did do something right. After the situation was caused and I'd dealt with the immediate stuff, I had a few quiet moments when I realized what I had done and knew I needed to seek God's help in calming myself again. (Also I needed lots of prayer, yay for good friends who answer when you emergency text them!) So with a little time, a lot of prayer, listening to calming music, as well as finding a few scriptures which helped tremendously, my heart had settled again. Yay Jesus! :)
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41.10 kjv
One of the songs I happened to hear was "It is Well With My Soul" by Audrey Assad. I've known this hymn for years, have sung it numerous times, but that day it truly struck me anew. It IS well with my soul! I've heard the story behind the song, though I forget the entire thing I know enough to understand the purpose behind the writing of the lyrics, but I don't know if I've ever truly understood what it meant until now.

Here's what I mean, a dear friend has been revived in spirit the last few months and has been sharing her discoveries with me. What she's learned, and I've been pondering myself, is how much ownership we wrongly take of our emotions. "I feel this way, and since it's a negative feeling, I must, therefore, be a negative person." The enemy sneaks into our heads and throws darts at our emotions, and we let him, so much so that we decide he's right. But that's not what Jesus wants for us! Jesus took on all our negative emotions, all our unreliable feelings about who we are, at the cross. He conquered the power behind those negatives! Therefore, we don't need to claim them as true anymore. We never did, actually! But now we have the Holy Spirit's help in reminding ourselves of Truth. Claiming ownership of negative emotions is NOT truth. Truth is knowing that I'm feeling this negative emotion and my flesh is drawn to believe that it's true, but knowing even more so in my heart that it's not me. That Jesus died so I would never have to own this feeling again. Jesus died to place me back in an honorable position before the Father, which means any thought or feeling that contradicts my honored placement is a lie.

So those feelings of anxiety the other day? I don't need to believe them. In those moments, I need to remind myself that, regardless of how I'm feeling, my honored placement is still true! When the Father looks down on me, He is not seeing that anxiety and fear, He is seeing Jesus' blood which has washed me clean and placed me back in True Fellowship and a True and Honorable place at His side.

Which brings me back to the song. It truly is well with my soul, regardless of what I feel, regardless of what lies the enemy is throwing my way, daring me to believe, regardless of anything.  My place of honor before the Father will never, ever change.

It is well with my soul. *excited dancing inside my heart* :D

Indeed, it truly is.


Even if

I've said before and I'll say again, change can be very hard. Not necessarily bad, just hard. And when that hard comes on top of the emotions already swirling inside? Yeah...

So! The newest bit in the ongoing (character-building...??) saga of my family? Dad's seeing someone. (Do you still call it "dating" when the couple in question are both in their 70s? Maybe...but it feels kinda weird to do so.)

Let me just get this out there immediately: Dad choosing to find a new friend to talk to and spend time with is not a bad thing! At all. It's just a weird thing. For me. A very weird thing for me.

I've known about it for several weeks now, only more people are finally beginning to find out. And I've been so very grateful that I've had time to adjust before they did. (For the record, I am way farther along the acceptance scale than I was five months ago or so, whenever it was he first let me know this might be his plan of action.) Because I've certainly needed that time. And I still need it, to be honest. I thought I'd jumped this emotional hurdle in this crazy race of adjustment and might finally be aiming for the next one. Instead? I've done an entire 180, circled out and around that particular one, and am currently running in place two hurdles back. *sigh*

Fluctuating emotions? Yep, that's me. Only I really wish it weren't!!

My cue that I might not be quite as Okay as I thought I was? My stupid brain wouldn't shut up the other night. I was wide awake (even while simultaneously feeling soooo sleepy. Yeah, not a good combo.) until at least 2am. Ugh. Every time I'd tell myself "Kara, you have to get up for work in just ___ hours! Go to sleep!" and lay my head down, my brain went, "Ahahahahahahaha." Humph.

Still, repeated hurdles or not, I am determined to get to Okay. And after that? To get to Happy and Thrilled and Yay. Got a bit of a ways to go yet, but I'LL GET THERE. Most importantly? I know God's going to get me there.

Have y'all heard Mercy Me's song, Even If? The lyrics are a beautiful reminder that God's got this and despite these annoying emotions of mine that refuse to listen to me (strangely enough, giving myself a stern talking to doesn't work...), if I actively choose to believe Him and trust that what He promises will come true...that's what He's waiting for. Me to choose it and to say so (out loud if need be).
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
My hope...your hope...our hope is Jesus. Nothing else matters. At the end of the day, fluctuating emotions and all, wherever dad's journey goes, wherever my own journey takes me, whatever may come in your life that may not look so rosy and definitely doesn't smell like one, Jesus has got this. He has EVERYTHING. Even the hard places are easier to bear with Jesus shouldering the burden. Because He will. Every single time you ask. And even when you don't. (I'm learning He actually carries so much more of our "stuff" than I ever realized. We never, ever, ever walk through anything or carry anything alone.) He. Will. Carry. You. (And me! :)

So I'm going to choose to trust Him.

Even if.

:: release ::

these tumbling thoughts
these anxious cares
these ideals of myself
(they keep me up unnecessarily)
I release them to You
& I rest
in Your peace
in Your calm
in Your love
in Your embrace
YOU are enough
& letting go is easy
I just have to choose it
choose YOU
(& not this stuff that wanders)
You've got this!
Why did I forget?



How does one put words to a feeling
All the vast differences
huge & known
loom fierce
& Believable
one phone call
one simple convo
open willingness for communication
& Common Ground
(faint though it may be)
proves still in the battle
Chasms dwindle
(with new bridges built over)
Hearts grow three sizes



hard things

You'd think that my heart would be quite sore by now, the way it rises and sinks depending on the day and the moment. It gets lots of good exercise, I can tell you that! If it's not my own emotions causing the upheaval, it's someone around me. And it seems a pretty near constant. *big sigh*

One of the hardest things, I have come to find, is allowing others their own free will. I know I have mine and goodness do I appreciate it most days, yet when it comes to someone else? When you see the choices they make and your heart hurts for the pain you know will come to them? When you see the twisty ways they circle in and around trying to make illogical and unreasonable excuses? When you want to shake them and force them to see how difficult they're making it for themselves?

Ah, my heart!

Life isn't actually that complicated, it's just that we humans tend to make it that way, sadly. And when I look at someone I care about and see the devastating places they are headed, the turmoil that could be nonexistent but for their own refusal to see....it saddens me. Because I can't make them see it. I can tell them and I can show them over and over and over, but until they are willing to break out from behind the walls surrounding them, until they choose to really listen and allow Truth to sink deep in their souls, I can do nothing but love them.

And pray, of course! {Which is the very best I can do anyway, so why do I tend to use it as a last resort? Silly me.}

I have been learning precisely how difficult it is to sit back and watch someone actively choose the hard way, to make themselves miserable, when help is but a single question away. It's just hard! And figuring out where to plant His seed and where to water and where to leave them alone so His work can be done without me distracting...it's not an easy road, is it? My heart is a tender thing, it loves fairly easily, I can't help it. And when you love someone, it makes you vulnerable to them. Which is not a bad thing at all! It just makes it easy for that someone to hurt you.

Vulnerable is what Jesus made Himself in the garden. (Remember that incredible intercessory prayer from John 17?) He makes Himself vulnerable to us again and again, every single day, so why wouldn't He ask the same of us? Of course He does. He wants us to love others and put ourselves out there. Even when it's hard. Even when it hurts. Even if they do or don't appreciate it, or we feel like they do or don't deserve it.

Love hard and love well, I think that's what He's telling us. And when God reaches down and reminds me that He's got this, that I can trust Him absolutely, oh how my soul sings with comfort!

So I begin again.

Loving anyway.



My heart is tender
It cares
& sitting there
listening to the
it hurts
it wrenches my soul
They choose this
day after day after day
they make Simple, Complicated instead
they are blinded
they are deaf
& I am tired
Fighting for someone is painful
So I pray
Long & Hard
Longer & Harder still
Only His Power & Strength are able
not mine
His Still, Small Voice
gently whispers
I want them to Hear
they believe lies, not Truth
Complicated can become Simple again
If I let go
Trust Him
The battle is His
not mine
He's got this
& it turns out
putting them in His care
is the easiest thing in the world


the edge of Okay

There are days
when Okay feels like the edge of a cliff
I'm clinging hard
arms wrapped tight
yet hovering a vastness incomprehensible
Fog's wispy fingers surround
& Peace is but an arm length away
So close
So far
Determination tightens my fingers
yet my strength feels inadequate
Crying out
tears dripping
and He's there
just waiting for me to call
Scooping me up
He becomes my strength
cradles my tired body
wipes my tears
Burying my face in His warmth
I cling
Okay will happen
as long as He's there




My last post was slightly dismal, wasn't it? It had been a foggy and hard few weeks prior to that and my words reflect it. My thoughts couldn't seem to see beyond the fog, to the Light. But! I am well pleased to say that I'm in a much better place today. Yay! :)

God is just so, so good, isn't He? 

He knew my pain and my uncertainty, took them and carried them, and reminded me of a couple truths I needed to realize.

Firstly, I had a friend come to me with a hurting heart recently and I wanted to do all I could do ease that pain for her. Grieving makes me selfish, yet focusing on her heart put my own in perspective. It allowed me to stop looking at the fog surrounding me and instead look up. Look up at Jesus and focus on His Light, which then laser beamed through that fog and zeroed in on the person I was praying for. Once I stopped only looking at myself, it wasn't long before I felt energized again! The fog isn't completely gone away, I have to be honest about that. I think that grief-fog is going to be around for a good long while. But it's not so dense anymore. It's more wispy and floaty, not the heavy thickness of prior. And even more amazingly, it was only a matter of minutes for my feelings to turn around. I only had to have one, small (yet huge) conversation, wherein my focus immediately stopped looking at me. As I drove home a little bit later, I could tell a difference. It was small, but definitely there. 

And secondly, I was reading a new fiction book the other night and I reached almost to the end when I, literally, felt a blip in my heart and was forced to stop reading because the tears started. I was so unprepared for that! But in a good way. :) The particular passage I had been reading referenced the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And these are the innocent words which struck me in that moment: 
"Before Jesus performed His big fancy miracle, He met those sisters in the middle of their pain, and He wept alongside 'em."
I had forgotten this one, gloriously beautiful thought. Jesus knows my pain. He has felt my pain. He knows it so much better than anyone else here could ever possibly understand! And He's weeping with me. 

Ah, the flutters of my heart when I read that again. Jesus doesn't expect us to carry any of this alone! In fact, He's right there beside us long before we ever even ask. He wipes our tears, cradling each one, and knows exactly what we're feeling. He's been there. (I mean, do any of us think He didn't feel pain when He went to the cross? Of course not. I think both the Father and the Son were heart-broken that day.) He has a fix for our pain, absolutely! (Himself.) But before He moves in any big way, He always, always first gathers us in, acknowledges our hurt, and guides us to remember that He is big enough to handle it. He is big enough to carry these holes in our hearts. He. Is. Big. Enough. For every bit of it! 

That hugely comforting thought slipped down into a crack in the wall of fog around my heart and split it wide open! And my tears...ah, my tears. 

God is good, friends. He never gives up on us. 

And I am grateful beyond words.



December was good! But December was hard. It felt so much like I was going through the motions of Christmas, but my heart wasn't feeling it. I got rather good at faking it though. (Some days I feel like that's all I'm doing, faking it.) And then you add in family dynamics to all that emotional mess and....well....my heart felt chaotic to say the least.

Grief is just the oddest, did you know? It complicates everything. It makes every emotional moment feel gigantic and more. As if I didn't already struggle to understand myself, now it feels twenty gazillion times worse!

It's like I've been under a fog, so to speak. I struggled with this sort of feeling back during my first year after moving back to my home state again. Which makes me realize that I must have been grieving my old life in CA and all my friends there. It's sort of funny how we can grieve so much more than just people, isn't it? Yet this time is still different than back then. It's just very strange and I don't rightly know how to work my way through it!

I feel off.

I feel like I'm not myself, but I don't know how to become myself again.

I want my old normal back! Which, I know, is never possible again. :( I want to stop tearing up when real conversations happen. I want to stop feeling grumpy and accidentally snapping at someone because of it. I feel like I might be fighting some anger? But I don't know who or what I'm angry at. I'm so tired of feeling happy one minute and then grumpy the next! I want my emotions to settle. At least a little bit!

I want, I want, I feel, I wish...

*big sigh*

Grief just stinks, you know that? Pray for me friends, if anyone's out there. I could really use it.