Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Gift of Being Loved Well...Saying Good-bye

Me and Uncle Odale, June 2004
Tomorrow one of the finest men I have ever known will be laid to rest. There will be hundreds of people there, I am sure. There will be laughter, tears, and stories. Oh...there will be lots of stories. A new story for him began last Thursday night though...a story up in heaven...I would have given anything to see him walk through those gates. Pure. Joy.

I have been loved well in my life. I have been loved poorly in my life. No one has loved me better than Uncle Odale. He stole my heart as a little girl, and when that little girl came back into his life as an adult in search of healing...well, he grabbed me up without missing a beat and loved me well. Well.

There are stories between the two of us that I will take to my grave. We trusted each other.

A couple of years ago, he got very sick; he and I got to spend a lot of concentrated time together. In some ways, the two of us said our good-byes was a miracle it seemed that he came back from that. During those two weeks, we played a lot of dominoes, watched a lot of the funniest home video show, I took a lot of photos, and we went back over many of the stories that I had recorded him a few years earlier...saving them for the future. I wanted to always be able to hear his voice, his laughter. I knew someday this day was going to come, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to listen to them at first, but that someday...I would want them...need them. I had learned that from my cousin Corky. Bless her for sharing that lesson with me...via Aunt Obedia...and the promise I worked to keep to Aunt Obedia. That promise led to the lesson...and now I sit here faced with a future of nothing but those recordings, and my heart is shattered.

Over the past few days as the news continues to sink in, the memories and words spoken between us come in waves. I am in shock.

The photo above and some items he gave me sit on my desk at the office...have for years. When I got back into town last week after hearing the news, my eyes went to this photo and items he made for me with his hands....and I wished so much to go back to 2004 and be inside of this photo hugging him. You can't go back though....and grief takes us out like a sword to the heart. It takes me out. I feel like I am in the middle of re-living every good-bye in my life, every death, and every lost opportunity to spend one more minute with somebody...anybody. Guilt will kill you.

Then today, someone sent me a text message to check on check on my heart. Their words reminded me of how much I loved Uncle Odale...and how much he loved me...and that really is the point. He loved me well. I loved him well. Someday, I will see him again. Until then, the best way to honor the love he gave me, the life he lived, is for me to love others well.

This grief will pass....and as, and when, it does...the love will remain. That I know. That is what I am working to hold onto....Love.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

To Be Braver...and Braver Still...

This album. This song. 



"As your wave after wave...crashes over me...."

I am such a silly girl sometimes....okay, okay, a lot of the time. ;)

"Draw me out beyond the shore...with your grace..."


"You make me call me out beyond the shore into the waves..."

Sometimes I confuse the challenges of my life as punishment or personal failings or devil-sent....

...when sometimes they are simply challenges allowed in my life by a loving God who is preparing my heart, body, mind, and spirit for other things...

...and sometimes they are simply....


Let this statement continue to be my daily goal.

....and let me not be fearful of what lies ahead...whether those roads be paved or unpaved. 

...and most definitely let me maintain a healthy sense of humor....

For grace is not the only thing that covers an abundance of sin....but also joy. 

Finally let me be brave in using my voice for those things that so conflict with the beating of my own heart that to be silent itself is a sin...

This story makes me so incredibly angry and sad....worse is that it took so long to garner any national attention here in the U.S. Aaarrrggghhh!!!!! Education is under attack internationally...locally. Girls are under attack internationally...locally. Boys are under attack internationally....locally.

What does it take for us to stand up and call this wrong?!?! 

You make me brave Lord...but I need to be braver....and braver still.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Pain In Healing

This hasn't been my "Best Week Ever" :(((

I cruised through my 43rd birthday on Tuesday...Like. A. Boss. Then, I, in breathtaking fashion, slowly started to unwind (or as Jen Hatmaker calls it, "idling high" :( Ugh.).

I am so behind on personal to dos, professional to dos, community development/board to dos, project to dos, unpacking my new home, unpacking my new office, picking up my clean rugs, picking up my repaired shoes, correspondence (from the simple text replies, responding to VMS, to cards and packages piled up in a corner that I need to mail to friends and loved ones), and it goes on and on and on.

My favorite employee (and yes I know you are not supposed to have those...I already feel guilty over that too) not only had her last day with us this week, but due to chaos with her movers, ended up leaving a half day early (I know God had a reason for that, but good grief the pain...I was ill-equipped emotionally to deal...even though I had had six weeks of prep. Bless her.).

I want to say that the "unwinding" started with the "Happy Birthday guilt trip from hell" phone call I got at dawn the morning of my birthday, and that I subsequently buried, with the beauty of a day where I felt so much love....but who knows. {Sigh.}

I might be 43 years of age, but I find that emotionally I struggle like a child with my own personal failings, the disappointment of others (both of me and me of them), good-byes, loss, transition (i.e., change (even though I love change too; I am a walking paradox), anniversaries of painful events in my past, guilt trips of others placed on my life that I don't live perfectly according to their standards (even when I know they are crazy, and I am human), and a litany of other "isms" that the majority of time I deal with well....and on other occasions simply cripple me emotionally...until I painfully, slowly unwrap them, deal with them again (me and God), and step forward again in the faith and love I know is real for him, and in those that love me...just as I am.

I have known for the past two months that I was spiraling out a little....ever since my last return from Haiti in March. It has not been my best eight weeks (give or take). I am quick-tempered, weepy (All.The.Time.), easily distracted, overwhelmed (emotionally and physically), exhausted (even when I get a lot of sleep), incredibly empathetic (read that as TOO much), no patience, and that is just the short list.

This morning my Sis started a private Pinterest board just for the two of us to share stuff only we needed to see...a little space for us to share our "crazy"...:))))  As embarrassed as I am to write this, that silly board has already had me laughing and crying this morning (read that as released some built up ick).

Suddenly I realized the connection in all of this roller coaster of emotions I have been on...Sis.

Don't Judge. The Language Is What It Is.
I don't think you can go through something like Haiti with someone you love and not be changed in some dramatic way. My third trip, her first. I am completely in love and obsessed with Haiti; now she is too. It wrecked her as it did me, and we got to share that. Plus, eight days together, just the two of us...we haven't had that since I was a teenager. I mean...shit. {Ugly Crying. Give. Me. A. Minute.}

Deep. Breath.

God has healed a great deal in me, but just when I am (ignorantly) confident that I have turned a corner, conquered the mountain....he reveals a deeper wound(s), a deeper level of (painful) emotional confrontation, and a deeper (needed) level of healing.

....and then I went searching for this....Isaiah 43...

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:

all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
I’ll round up all your scattered children,
pull them in from east and west.

I’ll send orders north and south:
‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
yes, personally formed and made each one.’”
8-13 Get the blind and deaf out here and ready—
the blind (though there’s nothing wrong with their eyes)
and the deaf (though there’s nothing wrong with their ears).
Then get the other nations out here and ready.
Let’s see what they have to say about this,
how they account for what’s happened.
Let them present their expert witnesses
and make their case;
let them try to convince us what they say is true.
“But you are my witnesses.” God’s Decree.
“You’re my handpicked servant
So that you’ll come to know and trust me,
understand both that I am and who I am.

Previous to me there was no such thing as a god,
nor will there be after me.
I, yes I, am God.
I’m the only Savior there is.
I spoke, I saved, I told you what existed
long before these upstart gods appeared on the scene.
And you know it, you’re my witnesses,
you’re the evidence.” God’s Decree.
“Yes, I am God.
I’ve always been God
and I always will be God.

No one can take anything from me.
I make; who can unmake it?”

I both love and loathe what God is doing in me. I can't imagine that anyone else who is undergoing healing and transformation would say any differently...if they were honest. I want SO much to lash out and express to people how much they are hurting me, have hurt me....let the pain dictate my words and actions, but afterwards what would be different??? Them? Me? Well, certainly not the reality of the situation. Bestowing grace on others when they have pained me deeply is the hardest thing I have, or will ever, do. Yet....then I start trying to bestow grace on myself....and I realize...again...that if I don't learn how to give grace to myself, I am never, ever, ever going to become a better grace-giver to others. {Deep. Sigh.}

I have deep and resounding issues with good-byes. Whether it is to my Sis after a heart-wrecking trip to Haiti or a deeply needed and loved employee or a dear friend or a board of directors or an old house or old wounds or whatever is that I am having to say good-bye to...

I want to say that I am getting better, but even as I type with fists clenched, tears streaming down my face, and a tightening jaw....I know that I have miles to go to unwind years of burying this particular wound.

I don't know that this is a post full of hope...but there is...because what God reminds me of in Isaiah is that He is God...always has been....always will be. It isn't about me, but him. He is holding my flawed hand through this struggle too....until we get to the end of the road. I love the promise of that. I love the promise of Jesus.

I am not perfect. Not. Even. Close. I am beautifully flawed and trusting that the wounds I have spent a lifetime hiding (and not well I might add) are and will be healed if I continue to do the work. Painful work.

Now....I am going to go enjoy this gorgeous Saturday...get pampered (physically and emotionally) a little, work on some to dos that will clear out the clutter and cobwebs from between my ears, and soak up some healing sunshine.

Whatever the battle you are waging...Whatever the path you are on...There is love and healing and hope all along the way, but we have to be willing to lift our head and allow our hearts to see it, to feel it, to accept it. Love is all around us.

Love...Is all around us.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Souls Wide Open

My heart is a wreck.

Last night/this morning, I said good-bye to our firm's first employee. In reality, it was the fourth, but it was our first real hire, and frankly the first person that Josh and I trusted and started relinquishing to some of the day-to-day...critical stuff. She is headed on a new life adventure in California with the love of her life. It isn't good-bye, but it does break my heart. Let me be is crushing my heart in ways I anticipated, and some I did not. Collateral damage from living a life with my heart wide open.

After giving myself time last night and this morning to ugly cry....heaving sobs....SO ugly, I am now entering more of the reflective, joyous phase. Blessed to have known such a young, sweet soul. Blessed to have been given the responsibility to mentor her and watch her grow. Blessed by the healing I received in trusting her with our business, my heart, my fears....She really owned her role and became nearly irreplaceable. It has been a joy and a ride. 

Leading people is a responsibility; leading  people in your very own firm feels more like parenthood. is no surprise after that realization....that I have had memories flooding me for the past week of every child I have looked after, loved, or taken care of...every mentoree. It has crashed against my heart in waves. 

Living with your heart and should wide open is dangerous and wild. It is the highest highs and the deepest pains. 

My heart hurts. I don't want to live differently, but the pain is deep...and hard to explain. I am also afraid I don't necessarily handle it well. So forgive me as I blubber through a little while longer.*

*The poor restaurant I was getting takeout from just now...I broke into tears just now when CC sent me a photo and text of her as they drive to California. 😥

Wide. Open. 😳

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ Matthew 6:21

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)