Thursday, September 26, 2013

Confession #6...oh feeler's broke

Pretty sure most of you are now just opening the post just to try and make sense of my off-the-wall titles! HA! Love it. got me...I'm not getting out much these days.

I started this post the day after my last post, 9/17!  Let's just say, Elvis has left the building. But he definitely did NOT take me with him. I've been here. At home. Listening to weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth...through a monitor. Yea. Zane's not a fan of NOT being in charge, but that's for a later blog post.  For now, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Just cut me some slack. 

How 'bout we jump right in, shall we?  

Confession #6:  I have realized that it's difficult for me to get very emotional about anything other than Zoe's death and the hole she left in our family.  This may sound similar to the 1st confession where I shared it was hard for me to feel compassion for those struggling with non-life/death issues.  However, it is different from many angles.  I'll just share the most notable.  Primarily, I'm referring to things that actually hit very close to home, yet fail to draw from my overly taxed core of emotions.

I'm sure you'd all understand the phrase, "I just can't cry anymore!" or "I'm all cried out." Typically when someone uses these words, it's to indicate a worn out and weary soul...too exhausted or mentally and emotionally taxed, to exhibit one more shred of emotion.  That's basically what I'm referring too.  The only difference is...I'm still crying every day...but just about Zoe.  I can honestly tell you that it's not a conscious refusal to get emotional about anyone or anything else.  It's more like...I can't. Almost like my body's coping mechanism.  For those of us non-emotional types, the fact that we're suddenly thrust into a constant state of frailty in regard to our emotions, is completely exhausting.  We're not sure how the rest of you "sappy Susie's" (shout out to my in'law's...hee hee) make it through the day!! :)  My new reality that any sound, word, show, toy, person, trip, dress, or (fill in the blank) could shove me over the emotional cliff with no fair warning, makes me so weary that I can only presume my body is storing up for the next onslaught. 

I WANT to show emotion sometimes, (I know, right?!?) if for no other reason than to communicate my sincere concern and heartache for situations that truly are heartbreaking.  But it just won't come.

Let's circle the wagons.

Almost 2 months after Zoe died, we received word that Chris' grandfather, "Grand Pap," passed away.  Chris had been hunting with his own dad and all his family since he was 10 years old.  It's not been that long since Mamaw, his wife, passed away as well.  Even though we had only been to West Virginia a handful of times with our kids, we all have such sweet and pleasant memories of both of them.  I was so heartbroken for all of Chris' family, and our own, but I'm sure I did not communicate that well at all.  Nothing would come.

The following Monday, I had to have surgery for an issue that was a couple years in the making.  Very few people even knew anything about it. (No, I'm not going into detail...not the point.) It's no surprise that I had already postponed the surgery 5 times this year due to the adoption and all the complications with Zoe's health there was no procrastination left.  The week following was one of the most difficult I've experienced myself.  But still...nada.

That Friday, 5 days later, our dog was hit and killed by a car on a busy road a couple miles from our house while we were at some friend's house for dinner. The circumstances and story were sketchy as described to me the next day, but the reality was the same.  No more Tucker.  Believe it or not, this was our 2nd dog to be struck by a car and killed.  The 1st one was Cooper, a bishon yorkie, that was killed on Ty's birthday 2 years before.  We'd gotten our golden retriever, Tucker, on Ty's birthday last year to ease that pain a bit.  Yet, now we have a repeat performance...and still, as much as I ached for my family, I found it difficult to engage my heart.

Roughly 1.5 months later, some routine labs for myself led my doc to call me in for a follow-up visit to discuss some concerns.  Two days later, I had a nice little nap inside a MRI machine...for real, I totally fell I was being checked for a brain tumor and the like.  We're still working through all the particulars, and the smart people are figuring all that out, but let me say in my best Arnold voice, "It's not a tumor!"  (HAHA! Name that movie...GO! I should give a prize...but I won' forget the contest I was about to throw out there.) You should all know that there's never anything normal about use starting now!  Anyway, the night before the MRI, Chris asked me if I was scared.  My only response was, "About what? It is what it is."  I nothing left.  What's the point of getting all worked up about it? As if.

That's when I realized...oh feeler's broke.  Help...I've fallen, and I can't get up! :)  

So just remember...when you encounter someone who's still weathering the devastating storm of losing a child or whatever...their feeler might be broken and in need of repair.  They truly do care. Just try to be patient.  It's a pretty remote area, and sometimes it takes quite a long time to get someone out there to fix it.  Think of the cable guy...on steroids.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Confession #5...Hold my hair, then tell me that verse

I seriously think I have some sort of strange addiction to coming up with odd and creepy titles for each blog post.  Like I could be on that weird show where people lick cats or eat paper...that would be awesome.  "Stay tuned! Up next...late-night mom who sits for hours naming and renaming her blog posts." Oddly enough, I am once again struck by my need for therapy. Ok...guess that's not an "oddly enough" moment.  

Today's confession has been a long time coming, but I've been thinking a great deal whether to share this one or not...primarily because of the high potential for  misunderstandings and hurt feelings.  Yet in talking with other people who've suffered through great trials, I've heard this countless times.  Therefore, since the crux of the matter in sharing these confessions is so that we may all minister in a much more effective way to those who are deeply grieving, I wanted to include this for your reading "pleasure."  Just to be clear, I think growing up in a pastor's home with the church nursery as my NICU, softened the blow in this area for me...others may struggle to an even greater degree having a different family background...but this was still pretty difficult for this PK-PW Christ-follower.

Confession #5:  Quoting Scripture or serving up glossy platitudes about the sovereignty, faithfulness, and goodness of God to the grieving heart is usually not the best FIRST step. It makes us feel guilty for not being able to suck it God is not pleased with those who grieve under the umbrella of His if a good kick in the pants or slap on the back is all we need to kick back into gear. 

Please understand that I hold these truths and promises as foundational to my every waking breath.  Losing Zoe would have no redemptive value or hope if I didn't...nor would anything I've based my life upon...what would be the point of living a life dedicated to following and serving Christ when I cannot, in fact, live that life when something goes wrong? So...on this issue, I think we're cool.

However, when someone comes up to me and says, "God's got a good reason for Zoe's death" or "This really is happening for your good, ya know!"...well, then we have a crossroads.  Solid ground has turned to quick sand.  

"It's so awesome to see what God's doing with your tragedy!"  You wanna know what would've been awesome?!?  Zoe not dying.  There I said it.  It's what every grieving parent (or insert your sorrow-filled blank here) is thinking but is too ashamed to say.  I'm sure their intention was not to add guilt to my grief, but that's what just happened.

Like I said, I know these things to be true...and truthfully, I'm banking on the faithfulness of the Father to put the nail in that "His glory/my good" coffin one day...but, right now, it stings so deeply that you wonder if the offending party could possibly even feel the physical backlash.  

Then there's my favorite [insert dripping sarcasm]..."God doesn't give you more than you can handle so He must have a lot a faith in you to give you this trial!"  Scripture totally taken out of context and even twisted to fit some sort of warped Hallmark moment.  While the temptation for bitterness and anger might fit into that slot, the circumstance itself was never implied.  As a matter of fact, I think we are given FAR more than we can handle to drive us to our knees faster.  And where, oh where, are we told that God has faith in US?!?  Different version, maybe? Nah. (Phil Robertson's best line besides "Happy happy happy!")

Now I want to quickly add that I'm confident that the people that come strolling over to encourage you in your time of grief are truly trying to do just that...genuinely encourage.  But what I'm submitting to you tonight is that, once again, this is an ugly process that might not be able to get wrapped up in a pretty "There's a reason for everything" bow just yet.  

It's like putting lipstick on a pig.  (Shout out to the pops for that little nugget!) But why do we grin at that? Because it's still a PIG...a smelly, wallow-in-the-mud, eating-every-piece-of-garbage-in-sight pig.  (Of course now I've offended every person still chin-deep in the grieving process but hopefully they'll appreciate that I'm trying to throw them a bone here...or a scrap...whatever.)  

When did the church become the place where grief doesn't hurt, and pain doesn't take time to heal? Jesus wept over the loss of His friend even knowing he would soon revive him.  Death is an ugly has no ultimate sting for the believer but, trust me, it stings here on earth. 

We need to be people who hug it out with the hurting more than toughen 'em up.  When I feel more compassion in my grief from a doctor that couldn't fix my daughter's illness than from a group of people who know the Ultimate Physician, something's off.

I had this post ready to share with you last night but left it for today's revision.  When I woke up this morning, I read a fresh blog post from Jen Hatmaker dealing with this exact topic. Clearly, the issue of grappling with suffering in the world and how we should handle it as Christians is heavy on many hearts lately.  Jen, to no surprise, says this much better than myself.  You can read her post here.

So friends, let's circle the wagons, shall we?  Back to my strange compulsion for titles...betcha thought I such luck.

As I began to organize my thoughts about how to best illustrate this point, I decided to comb my brain for the times in my life when I felt the most cared for...when someone served my needs with no benefit to themselves...because after all, that's really what the grieving person truly needs.  And guess what I came up with?!? 


Sorry Mom...but it's true.  Puke.

I remember when I was little and would be throwing up in the bathroom...with my head leaned over as I clutched the sides of the toilet, my mom or dad would come in and hold my hair so it wouldn't get messy.  It was so horrifying for me to be puking...hated it worse than anything...and then I'd be crying as I tried to keep my long locks free from projectile vomit. There was something so comforting about them pulling my hair back and holding it for me until I was done.  I'll never forget the first time my sweet hubby did the same.  

They couldn't take my pain away. There was nothing they could do to make it go quicker or lessen the impact.  There were no words that made me feel less sick.  But the comfort of their presence and the touch of their compassionate hand...even if they got dirty in the process...meant the world to me.  Still does.  That's what I remember...that's what made a lasting impact.  

Hopefully, it's obvious where I'm going with this.  There are, without a doubt, times when people need to hear the truth of God's Word to uplift and encourage them to continue to fight the good fight and continue to run the race.  

But there are other times when we just need to go hold their hair while they puke their guts out.  This is being Jesus to the broken...where they will feel uplifted and not condemned, loved and not rebuked.

I stink at this whole puke thing, but I really do wish you'd hold my that I can hold yours someday.  Underneath it all, I'm confident that God is using all this for His glory and our ultimate good. Let's do this thing. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jesus, Firm Foundation

I've been sharing at length lately about some of the things grieving parents struggle with but don't usually feel comfortable revealing.  I hope you realize that I'm not making excuse for these confessions but am sharing them, rather, to help us all wade through these muddy waters of grief...emerging together on the other side, stronger and more determined than ever to support and encourage those experiencing life's darkest storms.  

Today's post, however, doesn't contain a confession.  We're going for a reprieve that we all need...ok...maybe that's just me...but since we're on the same team, we take time-out's together!  Go ahead...grab your peanut butter and DP...I sure did.

Sometimes in the midst of the mundane, God sends a sweet care package your way! You remember those glorious times you checked your mailbox at college and saw the surprise box of cookies from your momma?!? (C' know it's the momma!) Let's be honest, if it was a pack of gum, you'd have been stoked.  It's a wonderful thing when you find yourself blessed just by knowing someone is thinking of you from afar. God sent me a care package today.

I had the privilege of being part of the worship team this morning at church.  This is only my second time leading since we went to get the kids from China in March.  I've missed being involved so I always appreciate the opportunities when they come.  Today was one of those God-Eva moments...the rest of the church peeps were just along for the ride.  See, children, I can share too!!! Get with the program. :)

We opened with a song I never heard before but can't get out of my I thought I'd share it with you.  The words will likely be familiar to some, but I'm including the lyrics and the video just to cover all the bases.

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word
What more can He say than to you He has said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled

Fear not, He is with us, oh be not dismayed
For He is our God, our Sustainer and Strength
He'll be our Defender and cause us to stand
Upheld by His merciful, almighty hand
How firm, our foundation
How sure, our salvation
And we will not be shaken
Jesus, firm foundation

The soul that is trusting in Jesus as Lord
Will press on enduring the darkest of storm
And though even hell should endeavor to shake
He'll never, no never, no never forsake
He'll never, no never, no never forsake

How firm, our foundation
How sure, our salvation
And we will not be shaken
Jesus, firm foundation

Age to age He stands
Faithful to the end
All may fade away
But He will remain
He will remain!

How firm, our foundation
How sure, our salvation
And we will not be shaken

Jesus, firm foundation.

Jesus Firm Foundation

Every. Word. Every single word. care package.  But I'm happy to share my cookies and gum.  

I'm grateful for your impressive endurance in traveling with me on this journey. I'm trusting that we'll arrive at our destination, safe and sound. Some of us might be hanging from the side mirrors or locked in the trunk, but we'll get there.  I'm just glad none of us are driving!