Posted in Abundance, and Love, Carpe Diem, Celebration, child, Creating Art, dreams, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Freedom, goals, God, Gratitude, grief, Healing, Healing a Wounded Soul, Home, Hope, Impossible, Joy, lessons, life, life and death, life lessons, Love, Marriage and Family, Memorial, Memory, Pain, Possibilities, Tattered and Mended, Train Up A Child, Transparency, Writing

In which I grieve and mourn…

What makes a life? I know the arguments run in circles. Does it start at conception? Does it begin with that first, gasping breath after hours of labor? Maybe that’s the wrong question. I’m still trying to figure out the right question to ask.

One week ago, I was thrilled to announce that a long-awaited event was taking place. After months of trying, I got a positive sign. (Actually, it was four positives and one digital negative…I had to be sure) I probably didn’t need one, because I just KNEW it. My body was starting to feel different and I knew it was true. In my head, I was already planning out the next few months, hoping my morning sickness wouldn’t get too extreme, and praying that just this once, I’d be able to enjoy my pregnancy in full. I estimated I was 6-8 weeks. My midwife calculated a little more efficiently given my irregular cycles and said I was WAY earlier. I hoped I was later, but figured she probably knew a thing or two about this…

So I was anywhere from 4-7 weeks, but it didn’t matter really. I felt amazing, if a little tired and gaggy, and I was determined to enjoy the next nine months, come what may. Was I apprehensive? A bit. This was the first pregnancy where I was at a VERY healthy weight, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. Everything felt different, but I figured I could still safely tell others my news. I mean, I had three uncomplicated pregnancies prior to this one, right? No big deal.

Maybe the question I should be asking is, is that tiny little life real because I believe it to be, or do I believe it to be real because it is?

Friday morning I woke up. Had my coffee, spent time doing school with the kids, pondered a conversation I’d had with my mom the night before about my fears regarding pregnancy and loss. Worked out pretty hard and felt great afterward, if a little winded. I’d been experiencing a bit of an achy stretch on my right side from the beginning of the pregnancy, but thought nothing of it. It wasn’t pain and I figured my uterus hadn’t been in use for over three years, so it was natural to feel some stretching. No big deal.

That was until I got out of the shower and started to bleed.

Beyond the fact that I had NEVER experienced abnormal bleeding with any of my other pregnancies, I knew right away something was wrong. There was no pain (at least not that first day) but I knew that for whatever reason, this brief period of time where I once again was given the privilege of nurturing a new life, was now over. Call it a gut feeling, a matter of the heart, or just the facts. I knew. And I lost it.

My darling husband came home to find me curled up on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out. He held me, prayed with me, and we discussed the next steps. There was no drama (other than my tears) that day, but we both wanted to find out for sure. So I called the midwife, got in to an emergency ultrasound that afternoon, and took a blood test to find out my HCG levels.

Even if my levels were higher, and they weren’t, I would have known when I looked at the emptiness on that ultrasound. I could see all the preparations for sustaining a life in the womb, but no life. Not even a blip on the screen. I’d FELT empty before the ultrasound. Now I had proof that I was empty.

I’ve fought PCOS since puberty hit. I was told that I would struggle with infertility and irregular cycles and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. None of this was new to me. Thankfully, I’ve been managing my symptoms well enough that even the midwife noticed the lack of evidence for PCOS where there should have been. I’m not cured, but perhaps I’ve been given a reprieve.

And the three children I bore prior to this pregnancy proves that infertility isn’t that much of an issue really. I mean, we tried three times, and three times we made a baby. That simple.

Actually, we tried four times, and four times we made a baby. It’s just that now I get to tell people that one of our babies isn’t going to be present here on earth. That hurts just writing it. I’m a mother four times over and I won’t get to meet Pelokid #4 until I get to heaven. Something tells me, it’s a girl. Sweet and precocious and bubbling over with life.

There are a million explanations for why this pregnancy did not end with a live child 40 weeks after conception. Some explanations even range into the, it wasn’t really a baby idea. I’m going to block that one right now, because one, it doesn’t offer me any comfort whatsoever. And two, it brings me back to the question I asked earlier. I believe I was carrying a precious life for at least 5 weeks and that life is no longer present in my womb. I will grieve and mourn that life and then I will take joy in being chosen to be the vessel for that life for a few brief, but absolutely precious moments. All life is a vapor, some lives disappearing sooner than others.

The day after I miscarried, we watched a video on science and faith in regenerative medicine. There was a picture of a basic human cell. A basic picture from a typical biology textbook that any high school or college kid could read. As the scientist/researcher explained the components, I picked out names I hadn’t heard in years. Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum. I like Golgi apparatus best. The name is just cool.

Each part of these microscopic cells works in harmony to create a miniscule organic computer in basic scientific terms, but it’s SO much more than that. Put billions of these working, tiny cells together and you create things like skin, organs, muscles, eyes, ENTIRE Human Beings. If just ONE part of ONE cell is out of order, it can cause the entire structure to collapse. To decay and degenerate. The research in regenerative medicine takes these cells, breaks them down into their multiple components, tries to figure out how all the individual components work, and then attempts to recreate a cell using that knowledge. And it goes wrong, so many times. But when it works, ligaments are healed, cartilage and bone are renewed, and skin is grafted. But the original cell is what amazes me most. Because as much as a scientist or doctor can do their best to work with lab-created clones of the real thing, they will NEVER be able to perfect it to the level that our Creator God did on the original model.

Right in the middle of that talk on regenerative medicine, when I was feeling the physical pain of losing a child, struggling with the emotions and mental strain of the ordeal, I felt God wrap me up in His arms and whisper His reassurance in my ear. I looked at the three children He’d blessed Jake and I with and marveled on the fact that, of all the billions of ways it could have gone wrong, HE knit them together in my womb and breathed life into their tiny developing bodies. HE started their hearts beating and formed the neural pathways in their developing brains. HE fit every joint and bone and ligament together like a perfect puzzle and told each cell what its job would be.

I got to carry them and do the work HE created my body to do for nine months of their life. I was the vessel, but HE.

He is ALWAYS the Creator and Sustainer of life. And that little life He recently allowed me to carry for a few brief weeks was His too. He granted me the privilege of being mommy to not one, not two, not three, but four fearfully and wonderfully made children. His image stamped on each and every one of them. Three, He gave more time for me and Jake to love and cherish and raise. The fourth one, He called home. I have NO idea why He gave me the privilege of being a mommy four times and I pray that I will get that privilege again. I have no idea why I was given the privilege of keeping three of His babies, but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and showing them their Heavenly father’s love. I have no idea why the fourth one won’t be in my arms for a VERY long time, but I am so very glad I got to carry her under my heart. And I cannot wait to meet the child who is more alive now than she ever could be here on earth.

Posted in Creating Art, faith, Family, Freedom, God, grief, Healing, Healing a Wounded Soul, Hope, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, Made to Crave, Pain, Passion, Possibilities, Random, Transparency, Uncategorized, Writing

In which loneliness hits hard…

I was the awkward, unsocial kid growing up. It wasn’t for lack of trying to build friendships, because lord help me, I was also the obnoxious one on the playground begging for friends and clinging to them until they realized how needy I was and shook me off. I don’t blame them. It’s not pleasant being on the other end of that connection either.

I don’t think I ever “gave up” trying to make friends per se. It was the keeping them that I couldn’t quite figure out.

So I made friends and lost them, contenting myself with my literary friends in the between times, until the next unsuspecting victim crossed my path and I threw myself at them with all the grace of a 2 ton bull in a tea shop. Delicacy has NEVER been a strong suit of mine.

It’s funny? Ironic? I’m not even sure which word to use actually. In all my “personality” tests I’ve taken, some of the top character qualities I have are loyalty, honesty, and friendliness. It never fails. Of course, that’s always followed by some variation of, “makes friends easily and usually has a large social circle, but her deepest relationships are rare and hard-won.”

I’ve assumed it’s because I’ve just got a handicap when it comes to making and keeping friends. That maybe the tests are wrong and I’m not “friend” material. After all, literary friends are SO much easier, less messy, and they don’t shy away from my overtures. It’s part of the reason why I wanted to be a writer actually. Writers are kind of given carte-blanche to be reclusive and eccentric, and keeping friends at arm’s length is just part and parcel of their hermit-like existence.

I am an introvert by nature. I get my energy and restoration from silence and solitude and my weakness is that I use that as an excuse for laziness and isolation on occasion. I can easily lose myself in quiet and peaceful alone time and not feel any guilt at all the relationships I’ve neglected in the meantime. I have to work harder at keeping in touch and connected to others because I LOVE my own company so much. If that sounds a bit narcissistic, it probably is. I never said I was perfect. I’m deeply flawed and heavily faulty in many areas.

However, in spite of my introverted personality, I deeply care about the friendships I DO build and maintain. Going back to the loyalty, honesty, friendliness factor. I wear my heart on my sleeve. If you gain my trust and my friendship, you’ve got it for life. No matter how messy it gets. Because that is the hardest part.

It’s SO messy to be human. It’s messy to build relationship with any one else because relationship implies something deeper than acquaintance or brief knowing. It’s trusting that person with your heart and with your deepest darkest places because if you are friends long enough, they WILL know everything about you. It might take years and years, but you can’t truly be in relationship without letting yourself be fully vulnerable. That’s like giving just a part of yourself to marriage, but keeping the majority back for safe-keeping. It won’t work.

And therein lies my main problem. Because our culture tells us that the individual rights and freedoms are the most important. It tells us that guarding your heart and staying “safe” in relationships are more important than letting someone in. Letting others see who you really are. We selfie, post social media updates about our “happiness”, give everyone the illusion of our “perfect” lives, and inside, we’re dying because no one actually knows all the burdens we carry and the wounds we bleed.

And I cannot do that. I was raised to abhor deceit in any form. If I have a fault in that regard it’s that I might be TOO brutally honest, especially in fledgling relationships where full disclosure might actually frighten someone away, especially if they aren’t used to that kind of connection.

So I don’t have a lot of deep, abiding friendships. I do have some very close friends and my husband is the one person who probably knows me better than I know myself. But it’s painful on my end to try and build friendships because I don’t do closed off and “safe” and that makes me vulnerable to a different type of hurt. Friendships that only stick around until they realize that my transparency is terrifying and they want nothing to do with either receiving or giving it. It’s easier for me to spill all to my journal and burn the pages, than it is for me to form a relationship with someone who enjoys surface-level discussions over wine and a good meal, game nights, and the random text message saying they’re fine when they really aren’t.

It’s easier for me to bury myself in my latest literary interest than give someone my heart and watch them hand it back to me because they have no idea what to do with it.

I cannot be the only person in the world who feels like that. And it’s uncomfortable when the rare exception happens, because sometimes it’s awkward and feelings are hurt and life gets messy and we’re oh, so human. We want something deeper and more meaningful because it actually exists in the One who Created us. We want that hole filled, but have no idea how to go about filling it. So we muddle through and get as close as we dare before we wall up the darkest parts of ourselves, KNOWING that if you saw that part of us, you couldn’t love us, couldn’t stand to be around us. If you knew the real me, you would run away screaming.

It makes us introverts cling even more to the rare friends who actually can and do reciprocate such deep, abiding vulnerability. It makes us crappy counselors though, because we tend to be fixers and we want so badly to make everyone experience those rare, beautiful friendships like we have. If we have.

It also hurts like the dickens when friends we thought could be that rarity in our lives turns out to be unable to handle the beautiful mess  we are.

This post doesn’t end with easy answers and loose ends tied up. Life isn’t like that really. We like to pretend it is though. But sometimes, we just don’t have answers and we don’t know what else to say and we just live in the middle of the mess and that’s okay too. Because fortunately for me, this life isn’t all there is and it’s far from over. So I continue in the muddle and appreciate those rare friendships all the more for their rarity.

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Posted in Abundance, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, Healing, Hope, Joy, life, Love, Pain, soul surgery, Tattered and Mended, War, Writing

In which I start a New Year

I began 2016 in a bad place. Oh, I’m pretty sure I put on a good face. I smiled and laughed my way through the holidays, but the dark places don’t always engulf you at first. Sometimes, it’s a slow, insidious crawl through the light until all that’s left is a tiny pinprick of flickering luminescence in the distance and your eyes have already adjusted to its absence.

It usually is the little things. Like child training going well until a little, repetitive irritant starts to escalate a situation until you find your voice is hoarse and your children look at you like you’ve just stolen the most precious thing in their world. And they ask why.

Or the quirks that endeared you to your husband become a creeping, crawling noise that shatters your stillness and you want to blame him for all that is wrong in your world.

Or family and their obligations that would normally fill you with unceasing joy, but now become another task on your to-do list that you desperately hope to check off.

Or time spent in the Word that used to feel so sweet and precious, but now feels like an unpleasant, additional hurdle you have to cross after you just broke the tape at the finish line.

And you wake up one morning wondering where all your joy went. More importantly, you wonder where that inexplicable peace went that you know you experienced just a few short weeks ago. When all was calm and bright and your nights were restful and your days a fountain of smiles and giggles and beautiful little gifts in the form of four foot and under pixies and a handsome, hardworking, amazingly patient man who treats you like the world revolves around you.

All the things that used to fill you with overwhelming pleasure, feels tired and exhausting. Or maybe those pleasures are still there, waiting for you, only YOU are too exhausted to care.

You don’t care.

But somewhere, in the darkness, that pinprick of light is still there and it whispers and sings to your heart.

Call me. Come to me. You, who are heavy laden. I AM your rest. Let me carry you.

So you answer. You reach out and take hold of that whispering melody and it washes over you in a flood of tears and pain and an agony of soul that you find difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it before. But your limbs are infused with strength and your heart feels the beginnings of something that seems very close to the peace you desperately seek. And you find the tenacity and will to hold on as the waves break over you and you try not to drown in them.

For me, the pinprick of light is a direct link to my Savior. My Lover, my Hope, my Truth, my Friend. His song, plays in my heart, whether it be through the beautiful voice of a precious friend or a song of worship reminding me of His amazing grace or a verse that I’ve passed over a million times before, but suddenly it awakens and stirs my soul on the million and first time.

I fear the darkness. Not that such fear is healthy and I would not recommend it. Fear of the darkness often keeps me firmly rooted in the middle of it when I should be reaching out to grasp the Light. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. Just stating a fact.

What I fear more, however, is losing the Light. My soul, my shattered heart could live without so much, but without the Light, I am nothing. I have nothing.

And that is not something I can ever bear to contemplate. Instead, I take a hold of God’s grace and His mercy and let it wash away the darkness. I grasp onto Him with all the desperation of a drowning woman and He refuses to let go.

In the end, as peace fills me once again, all I can ask is,

How can it be?

If I never know the answer to that question, I’ve discovered that I can be content in knowing the One who holds the answer.

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Posted in Age, God, grief, Home, life, Vanity

In which reality sets in…

I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined I could be a candidate for the sin of vanity. In fact, I might be a good choice for the category, “She just doesn’t care.” Or maybe, “It’s not the outer beauty that counts” award. I was good at caring just enough to make sure I didn’t go over the imaginary line I’d set for myself. After that, I could do what I wanted and it didn’t matter what others thought of me.

I didn’t think much of me. Why should I care what anyone else though?

However, something drastically shifted in my thoughts, about six years ago. Something that changed my perspective on beauty and aging and the human body in general. I don’t want to call it a wake up call. That would imply it was a good shift. Although what created the shift was good, the thought process, I’ve found to be damaging and unhealthy, especially if I linger too long on those thoughts.

I had my first child six years ago and some odd months. With my little bundle of joy came a massive weight gain (eighty-five pounds of it), decrease in energy levels, a hormonal apocalypse that sent me into alternating degrees of depression and mania. I found gray hairs, hairs in unwanted places, wrinkles where there had been none, and my body (which wasn’t enviable to begin with) no longer resembled ANYTHING of the young college student I once was.

See, I have always struggled with my weight. Due to recent diagnoses after years of searching for answers, I now know WHY I struggle. It doesn’t make the struggle any easier though. So I still fight every stupid pound that grows on me if I even LOOK at that chocolate cupcake.

The topping on the sundae came when my husband and I started our third Daniel fast in as many years. The first two were a breeze for me. I felt healthier, I felt stronger spiritually, and I lost weight. I know weight is not the main focus of a fast, but it’s still a great thing for a woman who has been clinging to those extra pounds she never lost after her first baby.

This third time was great spiritually. But physically, I’ve felt exhausted, I’ve gained weight instead of losing it, and I’m ALWAYS hungry – craving coffee and cheese mostly.

Last night, I finally broke. I was getting ready for bed and caught a glimpse of my figure in the mirror. And I realized just how vain I’d become. No longer did I care less about myself.

Now, I care too much about what my outward appearance says.

And my outward appearance last night said, “Unlovable, ugly, overweight, wrinkly, frumpy, unwanted, undesirable, unnecessary.”

Fortunately, my husband was there to catch me as I fell. I don’t want to know where that particular dark road would have led. I’m still reeling from it this morning as I try to smile at the kids and pretend I don’t feel old and faded.

Thing is, I’m not that old. I’m thirty, still relatively healthy, with hopefully many more years ahead of me to live and enjoy. I have a beautiful family, a Good God, a great community around me. I have everything I will ever need.

So why does that woman in the mirror, looking back at me, scare me so much? Why do the wrinkles and gray hairs and aching joints send me into an emotional tailspin? Why should it matter to me so much, that I break down and cry over a few extra pounds and curves in places only I can see? I’ve cared about it before, but not enough to make me hysterical.

I’m well aware of the natural progression of things. You get older each year you’re alive. You go gray, you start to sag, you wrinkle, and sometimes you lose your mind.

When I broke down, I cried harder because I couldn’t remember if I was thirty or thirty-one. My husband did the math for me, but for some reason it didn’t help. I just cried harder.

I don’t have pat answers or a ready comfort for those of you who suffer from this issue. I’m going through it and it’s too close for me right now. I’m just trying to remind myself that these emotions and feelings will pass and my husband still finds me attractive and my God still loves me no matter what.

Those sentiments will work eventually. But for now, I’m grieving and that’s okay too.

Posted in and Love, benefits of exercise, Celebration, discipline, dreams, exercise, faith, Finances, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, Hope, Joy, laziness, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, marriage, Marriage and Family, Pain, Winning, Writing

In which the darkness tries to hide the light…and fails…

It’s been a rough year so far. I’m pretty certain that’s been mentioned before in my blogs.

But hey, I’m actually getting in a blog a month now. What do you know? At some point, maybe I’ll stretch and make the three blog/month mark.

Anyway, in the midst of financial woes, medical emergencies, raising young children in the midst of cold springs, weird schedules, and insomnia, I’ve felt the darkness pulling at me.

It’s not something I’ve ever gotten a diagnosis for or experienced time in therapy to deal with the implications of this darkness. But these little demons of despair and depression and discouragement (that’s a lot of D’s) seem to creep in during times of high stress and little to no sleep. They chip away at my energy and my joy and fill my brief dream states with disturbing images and dreams that wake me in a cold sweat. I’ve been running and praying and pleading with God to keep the demons at bay, but sometimes I forget in all the running and praying and pleading, to fall.

Fall into the arms of my Savior. To stop running, stop praying and pleading.

Babies seem to get this concept of falling. As they learn to walk, they kind of toddle until they cannot keep their top-heavy bodies upright any longer and look for the nearest pair of arms into which they can tumble. Ungracefully, certainly not very well. But they trust in those arms with everything in them. When logic and reason tell them there’s no way they will be caught (sometimes those arms are halfway across the room and have to hurry close to make it in time) baby knows–believes–those arms are already there.

I do not care much for falling. I like my legs to carry me with control and poise. Stumbling looks foolish and stupid. Needing Someone’s arms to catch me when I’m perfectly capable of carrying myself through the darkness? I scoff at those arms when I should be trusting them to carry me.

I hate it when the darkness overwhelms me. I feel less than human, non-functioning. A piece of scum on the bottom of a very deep ocean. Drowning because I need light and air and freedom. And the chains are heavy, dragging at me, pulling me into the darkness with an ease that frightens me. I fight back, but often have reached a point where I just don’t want to care.

It’s easier to stay in a little comfort bubble. To let the darkness take me. I can sit in oblivion, not noticing life passing me by with all its joys and sorrows and amazing light. Oh, I go through all the motions, and probably do it well enough that no one would notice the difference unless they knew me inside and out. Even then, I’m pretty sure I’ve fooled my loved ones too.

Because the darkness is all inside me. I cover well and cling to sanity like the last lifeboat casting off a sinking ship. I go through the motions and pretend it’s all right, when in reality, I’m screaming for help inside and no one can hear me. It builds and builds until I finally explode with it.

It’s crazy. I find the darkness recedes the most after I’ve had a great worship experience. I’m not just talking music either. I’m saying worship in all of its colorful forms.

A long chat with a mother whose encouragement is often found in the form of a kick in the pants but I know she struggles with the same thing, so it doesn’t have the ring of judgment it might have had if she didn’t know what I needed most.

A good, solid run where the sweat drips down my back and into my eyes and I’m gasping for air like a land-stranded fish desperate for the ocean again. Where the pain reminds me that I’m alive and God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Making love with my husband (and I defy anyone who says that’s not the sweetest form of worship for a couple bound for eternity in the eyes of God). I will leave this one right here.

Cuddling with my littles, when all is right with the world and they haven’t filled my day with complaining and griping and, “Mommy, he got more than me,” and “Mommy, she hitted me.” When they haven’t drained me dry with their wants and needs and demands on my time and energy. When I have a little more to give and I’m glad to give it. Such precious time when we say, “I love you” and mean it with everything that we are.

When my fingers fly across the keyboard as a new burst of inspiration fills me with ideas for my manuscripts that have seen too little light and too much time in between the writings.

When a particular piece of music sends tears to my eyes. I revel in the beauty of a melody so profound, it can induce me to a blubbering mess of snot and salt water puddles.

When laughter overwhelms me for no reason I can begin to explain. I giggle at first and then fall in to those deep belly laughs that hurt so good.

What joy I experience in these flashes of light through the darkness of days spent wandering far from God and wondering why He hasn’t answered my plaintive calls. The lost little lamb, stumbling around in the dark valley when all the while the Shepherd’s fold is so very close and the only thing He asks is for me to turn around and run back into His arms.

The darkness never wins. It can’t. Because I run to a God who is so much bigger than the darkness could ever be. I never doubt His ability to overcome. He is good, all the time. All the time, He is good. It sounds cliche, but it can’t ever be, because it’s so very true.

Peter grew overwhelmed by the waves and began sinking. BEGAN being the operative word there. Because he never ended with sinking. Christ’s arms were right there, the moment Peter cried out. Peter never had a chance to drown because Christ would never let him.

And so the darkness threatens His light; but once again, it never had a chance to win.

 

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Posted in Book promotion, Books, Celebration, faith, Family, God, grief, Home, Humor, Joy, lessons, life, life and death, life lessons, Love, Reading, reviews, sanctity

Book Review: All My Belongings

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This book has become another favorite. I read it in one night (about three hours total) because I knew the busy week ahead would hold little time for reading. I woke up exhausted the next day, but it was completely worth the lack of sleep. 🙂

Warning: There are spoilers, though I will not tell the ending…just for your information.

All My Belongings is the story of a woman trying to find home when home is a place she cannot wait to escape.

I resonated with this, even though our reasons for running were vastly different. I came to a point in my life where home was full of bitter regrets and stifling rules without the saving grace to buffer me. I did not know who I was apart from the four walls of what I imagined at the time to be my prison cell.

I know now that there is healing and grace and forgiveness in the relationships and bridges I tried so hard to burn. I found Christ for myself, though I knew Him all my life, in the great big world. I discovered my identity in the Savior and realized that running away would never fix the wounds I carried. So I found home again, in the arms of those I loved and with new-found perspective to see them for the children of God they really were.

This book is exactly that. And it’s a whole lot different too.

Because I never had a father who practiced the crime (or art depending on who you talk to) of mercy killings. In the stylings of Kavorkian himself, Jayne’s father helped (or forced) many people to take the final step into the afterlife–including her own mother. Even before she walked in on him administering the fatal dose (and reported him to the authorities) her parents had shut her out of their lives and their home. Oh she was still present physically, but she was unwanted and a necessary annoyance in their world of disease and devastation. She gave up everything–her hopes and dreams–to care for her ailing mother and it all fell down around her with her father’s devastating choices.

To escape the stigma attached to her name after her father’s trial and conviction, she changes her name to Becca Morrow and moves across country to take care of the sister of her dear friend and mentor.

Upon meeting the elderly woman and her handsome son, Becca realizes just how difficult it will be to keep up the facade her life has now become.

How does one continue a lie when one is desperate for truth and love? When one is desperate for a home to call her own?

Just as Becca is settling in to her new life and finding peace in the midst of a new normal, tragedy strikes again. She’s once more at the center of a murder investigation, only this time, she’s the chief suspect. The victim? The mother of the man she’s fast falling in love with, and he doesn’t even know the real Becca Morrow.

I love the redemptive power in this story. Not only is there reconciliation with her past, there is a genuine chance to start fresh in the beauty of an identity that is God-given. No longer is Becca homeless and destitute and unloved.

She is a daughter, a friend and beloved. The pain of the past is not erased. Her wounds have to be reopened for true healing to occur. But she finds home in the most unlikely of places and a chance for redemption in the loving arms of her Savior.

Cynthia Ruchti has the amazing ability to take such raw, emotional topics and weave them into a powerful story of forgiveness, healing, and the binding up of the captive’s wounds. She writes of tears and laughter and life and hope that glows in the dark. I find myself swept up in another tale that doesn’t have all the loose ends tied up in neat packaging with easy answers and quick fixes. It’s one of the reasons why her stories restored my faith in the Christian novel. Because life is not always neat and wrapped up pretty.

Life’s actually a lot like guacamole…you can’t get the good stuff without getting the mashed up bits.

And life’s really good with chips and a side of guacamole..

Posted in Celebration, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, lessons, life, life and death, life lessons, Love, Memorial, Pain, spiritual training, War, Winning

In which I honor my fallen heroes

My family has a rich history of service to our nation’s military. I can honestly say that every branch of the service is represented in the fine men and women with whom I share a genetic bond. I am proud of every one of them for what they have sacrificed and fought for down through the ages.

I want to also remember those who have fallen, either in battle or in the natural passing at the end of their lives. I also want to remember those who have fallen in a different way entirely. Those soldiers who have fallen in to civilian life and do not know quite how they fit in the puzzle that is not a war zone. Those soldiers who have fallen because war hardened them and shaped them in ways even they cannot fully comprehend. All bitter memories and pain too deep for words.

My grandfather died in the natural course of his life at the brilliant age of 89. July 25, 2013, three days after my husband and I celebrated our seventh anniversary. I’ll always feel the bittersweet of those memorial days now. He lived a long, amazing life. A man of integrity and character, he knew what it meant to build with his own two hands, the life he wanted. He fought death so hard, because he was stubborn enough to try to outlive it. I loved that man and wish I’d told him more, exactly how much he meant to me.

My father is also fallen but not in the eternal sleep either as a soldier dying with honor on the battlefield or an old man at the end. My father has been broken and changed and rebuilt and destroyed by life, not just as a soldier, but as a man. He won’t admit it, because pride comes in many different forms. His wounds aren’t all shrapnel and amputated limbs and the stench of gunpowder in his lungs. But he too clings stubbornly to life with the tenacity of a man who’s still fighting on the battlefield. I love this man too and even with all his wounds and his pride and his damned stubbornness, he’s a hero I’m h0nored to know. I wish he could trust in THAT truth above anything else. It would sure make our relationship a little easier.

But I have my own wounds, and while I was never on a battlefield (unless you count the reenactments during the civil war days or a museum at Cantigny Park) I too fight my own battles. I hope to follow in the footsteps of these two great men and in the footsteps of my other family members who have fought and fallen before me.

In the great exodus of the Israelite nation, the people stopped along the way to commemorate both the bitter and the sweet of their journey. The battles they fought both within and without, the lives of the fallen and the lives of those yet to fall. They memorialized things that to some, might seem trivial, meaningless. Unless you’d been there and witnessed it for yourself.

Today, I want to commemorate the men and women in my life who have fallen and those who have yet to fall. In life, falling is not always a bad thing, though we seem to make it that way with all of our ideas about failure and fairness and black and white. Sometimes, falling is just the precursor to learning to walk. For those who are learning to walk and falling a little or a lot,

Thank you.

 

Fallen-soldiers

 

A Blessed Memorial Day!