My Calendar, My Crutch.

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caIt’s just a simple dry erase calendar.  It’s also one of the very things that helped me stay sane after my daughter passed away.  I couldn’t process thoughts clearly or remember where I was supposed to be.  I also had extreme anxiety about my schedule and seeing people.  This calendar made it possible for me to keep track of everything and to not stress out so badly about it.

It became a crutch for me.  If I was out and someone would ask me if I was available to (insert any social activity with other humans here) I would panic.  This calendar gave me the freedom to say, let me check my calendar when I get home.  Then instead of feeling cornered, or unable to make a decision- it allowed me to think about it later on my own time in the quiet serenity of my own home. Seems like something so small and insignificant, right?  That’s the way grief can be though for some of us.  It can cause us to be unable to process simple daily tasks, it can make a mountain out of a molehill.

Back in 2017 when we were getting ready to move I took a last look at this calendar.  I was finally able to use a simple calendar on my phone (google calendar), and I BURNED THIS CALENDAR.  Yes, I burned it.  It was very symbolic and healing for me.  I relied on this for so long.  I chucked it right into our campfire pit and lit it on fire with some paper and sticks.  And I cried, because I knew God had used this tool to help me on the day to day, and He helped heal my heart enough that I didn’t need it anymore.  There are probably people who will read this blog and think, “It’s been ten years, aren’t you able to move on from it?”  And those people will likely be people who never lost a child.  You never completely move on from a loss of child.

  You didn’t just lose that baby, you lost a toddler, an elementary school kid, a graduate, a daughter or son getting married.  Every stage, every lesson, every moment that you expect your child to have is gone.  That’s why grief resurfaces.  I didn’t just lose a baby, I lost a lifetime with another person.

That’s why it continues to hurt, and that’s why the hurt changes as time goes on.    (I use the term lost here, but really they aren’t lost, they are in Heaven…  Just acknowledging our loss here on Earth).

If you have a friend who has lost a child, I challenge you today to reach out to them.  The sweetest thing you can say is that you are remembering that person today, that they are in your minds.  Parents love to hear that you are remembering their child.  It is very meaningful.  A card in the mail with a simple line acknowledging your remembrance is huge in the life of someone who is hurting.

Will you spread some love today?

 

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Who Understands?

Grief is a crazy trip.

It’s something that never really goes away, it just settles in the cracks like dust.  The slightest movement, thought, smell or feeling can stir it up.  If stirred up enough, it can become a fog.

 

After our daughter departed for Heaven, grief came over me in waves.  Some were small, some were large.  To this day, ten years later I have a literal phone anxiety issue.  Not everyone understands this.  If you do, or if you suffer from the same issue, I would love to hear from you.  I can text, email, chat in person, you name it,  but phone calls STRESS ME OUT.  Now, if I am 100% certain of the mental state or attitude of the person on the other end of the line, I can do it, just fine.  But– if there is the slightest question of there being bad news, sadness, unpredictability I can’t handle it.

The ringing of the phone and an unscheduled phone call is worse.  If I can schedule the call, like “Hey, would you like to chat later today at 5?”  It’s ok.  If someone calls me out of the blue at a random time and the ring cuts through the silence….  I might panic.  My heart races, I sweat, it’s anxiety time!

I think people have the wrong idea about me, I think they feel snubbed if I don’t call.  I try to explain, but that’s a difficult thing to understand for other people who don’t experience it themselves.  They might think I’m making it up, or should be able to just overcome it myself by staying calm.

 

 

Dear Grief:

You’ve overstayed your welcome, but I understand you are pretty proportionate to the amount I loved someone so I get it.

 

Purpose, Glory and Grace

I was considering a different title for this post like: “Seeking God despite my Failures”, but decided to stick with the current title above.

I’m writing this post because grief (a small word for that horrible, scary, overwhelming ocean of pain) can really make you question the reason for existence, question God and several other things.  And, if you are anything like me, you’ve probably asked yourself why you’re here, or what your purpose is on Earth. Maybe you were six, or 16 or 26.. Or maybe it’s been a continual question in your heart. For me it definitely started at a young age. I honestly don’t think I ever understood or truly heard the purpose until I was 25. I spent plenty of childhood Sundays in Sunday school class, so I likely could have heard the truth about our purpose, but I didn’t commit it to memory. Not knowing this left me with a hole in my heart. I tried to fill the hole with a job, money, starting a family, but even before experiencing great loss and grief, I was discontent and felt like I lacked value or purpose. The biggest lack was in that area of joy. I could enjoy my family, don’t get me wrong, but it felt shallow, like I was missing something.

I remember 2007, being eight months pregnant with Lila (our second child who passed away), and sitting on our Pastor’s couch. They had invited us over to dinner because we had questions we hoped to get answers to. I explained to him and his wife that night that I wanted to be saved, but something about the gospel wasn’t clicking for me. I didn’t completely understand, and I personally felt ‘stuck”. I bit my lip and held back tears before confessing that my problem wasn’t believing the gospel, but believing that I could be saved.

What I did believe in these early stages of my messy walk with God was that I wasn’t good enough to be loved by God.

In six short months I had gone from

Don’t call me a sinner, I’m a good person”

to

I’m ashamed of my past life choices, why would God ever accept me?”

That’s when he said it.

‘It’s a gift.’ He went on to explain that gifts aren’t always given when someone deserves it, sometimes they are given because of the grace of the giver. (I quickly associated this with buying our oldest child Christmas gifts even though she had produced a series of tumultuous tantrums from October through December.)

It finally clicked. God gives us grace, love and the hope of a future with Him because of Jesus, not anything we have done.

Though, in return, we show obedience, gratefulness, and that’s where the fruit comes in. (Or – at least, it should..) Our good deeds and works don’t earn us a spot in Heaven. But instead, our obedience shows God our love and thankfulness to Him. If we didn’t love God, why should we be allowed in Heaven? And if we truly love someone, we show it, right?

Finally I understood that our purpose on Earth is to Glorify God, to love God and love others. I hadn’t known that, and it was causing me so much strife.

It’s hard not to get caught up in a legalistic mindset where we decide what we should and shouldn’t do. It’s equally hard not to be overly casual and start making choices based on a moral code we make up ourselves instead of checking the Bible and our hearts to see if we are on the right page.

I have struggled with that part for 10+ years. Have you? Knowing I have to guard my heart and watch my tongue can be hard (even my typing/blogging figurative internet tongue included) lest I be a stumbling block to another soul trying to find the truth about Jesus. What I want/need/do/think should all be put through my filter in my heart asking myself, does this glorify my Great God. I have to hold myself accountable.

Sometimes I feel intensely guilty for my words. I ask myself how they would look as a tattoo across my forehead. Would I be proud to wear them, would God be honored, would my kids be willing to claim me? Thank goodness for Grace, because a lot of times the answer is a big, fat NO. Insert Heavy Sigh here, I have failed DAILY. I won’t lie. But- and I do mean BUT- I can keep trying. I have a forgiving God who gives me repeated chances to try again.

Who doesn’t want to hear this when they get to Heaven,
‘Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:23 NIV

We’re not perfect, but we can certainly be loved by our Great God.