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Friday, April 16, 2021

An Ending




You know what they don’t write a lot of books on? Grief and broken families. 


Grief when there is estrangement. Discord. Deep hurts that happened long before the death.

They don’t talk about grief when there have been lines drawn in the sand. They don’t educate you on what that looks like or how that feels.

Grief is often spoken about in the context of deep love. When you can hardly imagine what life is supposed to look like without that person. 

But it’s not really talked about when the person is a distant memory. A broken piece of us.

They don’t write endless novels on how to process that, and how to move forward. 

There is not a step by step instruction manual for how to come to terms with what was and what wasn’t.

My grandmother died this week. She was my last living grandparent. 

She had Alzheimer’s, and I am truly glad she’s no longer suffering in her prison of a mind. I’m thankful she no longer has to be alone in the nursing home like she was when COVID-19 was at it’s worst. I’m glad her 3 beloved sons got to be with her in the end.

But, the truth is: my relationship with her was complicated, because my relationship with my dad is complicated. 

Broken family dynamics are hard. They destroy us in such a unique way. I am convinced that no one knows how to hurt you better than family. No one knows how to exploit your insecurities, your ugly places, or your shortcomings more than flesh and blood. 

Grief is always hard, but grief in the midst of a broken family dynamic is so much harder.

I’m struggling with how to be. How to act. How to overcome what is and what was for what is expected.

Over the last few days I have found myself sitting in the middle of waves of anger and grief. And the days just feel heavier than normal.

Grief always makes others uncomfortable, but grief when they don’t think you’re entitled to it makes them lose their minds. 

Because grief they don’t think is yours leaves them trying to dictate it. They write off the grief because you weren’t “close with her” and your relationship was “complicated”. They down play the facts of the night she died to minimize your reaction. 

Don’t start! Be quiet! Do not cause a scene. This is your role and you will play it. 

Isn’t it funny how when people hurt you they think they get to dictate how you feel about it too? They think they get to choose your reactions and how you carry the weight. They become the thief and the judge all at the same time. And they convince those around them that they have that right too. 


Grief is always messy business, but today it just feels messier.

We will bury my grandmother tomorrow. 

I will play my part as I am expected too. 

But something I’m learning about grief in this space is that it deeply changes you and it finalizes the shift. 

The step back. 

The closing of doors.

For me, her burial tomorrow symbolizes the end of many things. 

Because there is no going back. 

There is no way to re-write the story that has already played out. 

So, here’s to ugly endings.

To stories that don’t end as they should. 

Because they are the stories that build us. That make us better. And serve as reminders for how we want our story to end by showing us how we don’t. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Guilty Motherhood


 

I drove over 15 miles like this today. 

Holding my screaming, sobbing, over tired, toddler’s tiny little hand while she BEGGED to be released from her seat. 

My arm fell asleep. My back was tweaked in a weird position. And I’m pretty sure I was going 10 under the speed limit and swerving. 

The people on my road this morning HATED me. 

But, we made it. 

I dropped my crying, screaming toddler off at daycare as I apologized to her teacher and attempted to leave her favorite blanket behind to console her. 

It didn’t work. ️

This morning NOTHING worked. 

It was a BAD morning. 

And several times this morning on the drive in I wondered if I should call in today. 

I wondered if I was failing by making her go to daycare.

I wondered if I was heartless to leave her with her teachers like this. 

I wondered for the seventeenth billion time if working really is “worth it”. 

If I’m somehow damaging my child by choosing NOT to stay home. 

Her older sister got me, at home, for three years. Do I owe my youngest the same? 

These are the questions. 

The guilty thoughts. 

The daggers to my soul. 

My constant internal struggle. 

My decision to work outside the home, and the career I’ve chosen, doesn’t necessarily make me popular in mommy circles and sometimes I think the PTA at my oldest daughter’s school has all but given up on me. 

Sometimes I’m late for pick up. 

Sometimes I don’t make it for dinner. 

Sometimes my Saturdays are spent in meetings I don’t really want to attend-but that’s the job.

I’m on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

I carry two phones: a personal phone and a work phone. 

Some nights my children get my undivided attention and other nights I’m stuck in my bedroom putting out the next “fire”. 

And you know what sometimes I really suck at the juggling act. 

I’ve been listening to Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In” on Audiobook. (I HIGHLY recommend this book if you are a working mom!) 

I’m on Chapter 10, “The Myth of Doing It All”. 

In the chapter she explains that we often make a big deal about babies and “separation anxiety”, but really “separation anxiety” is more about the parent. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be it all and do it all for our kids that we forget how resilient our kids actually are. 

This struck a cord with me because days like today I feel guilty. 

I feel like a failure. 

I feel like I could do more and be more.

But at the end of the day all I can do-is all I can do. 

Being a stay at home mother is a thankless task! Trust me! I know! I’ve been there. 

But, so is working outside the home. 

Motherhood is just hard. 

Period.

Some days we have it all together.

And then some days we drop the ball and our toddler screams at daycare, or our kid doesn’t pass the spelling test, or the dinner is from a drive through, or we lose our tempers at bedtime. 

Some days we let them watch too much iPad and we read only one book instead of three and they eat suckers for breakfast. 

And sometimes you drive like this for over 15 miles just to try to console them. 

Because this morning we both barely made it to drop off-but you know what? 

We made it.

And at the end of the day-that is all that matters.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Here's To The Boys


 Photo courtesy of Heather Greubel Photography.


Here’s to the boys who love the broken girls. 

The ones with daddy issues.

Trust issues. 

The ones with too many scars.

And deep gaping wounds.

The ones whose path has been lined with more mistakes than victories.

The girls who have turned their pain into power. 

Their regrets in stepping stones. 

The girls who wear their scarlet letters a little too boldly. 

The girls who don’t fall easy, but when they do-they fall hard. 

Here’s to the boys who don’t try to change them. 

Don’t try to erase them or silence them. 

The boys who show up-even when it’s hard.

Even when she’s hard.

The boys who anchor them. 

Who remind them that some boys do keep promises. 

The boys that give patience and grace-even when it’s the least deserved. 

The boys who let them fall and break and rebuild as many times as it takes. 

The boys who don’t shy away from the past, because they know that’s what brought her here. 

To this moment in time. 

To this path. On a warm fall day. Doing the thing they will always do better than anyone else in the whole world:

Putting a smile on her face. 

Here’s to the good ones.

The diamonds in the rough ones.

The ones with boots and blue jeans and callused hands that are more gentle than all the hands that came before them. 

The ride or dies.

The ones who say forever and mean it until their very last breath. 

Here’s to the boys that love the broken girls. 

And help to put them back together again.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Hard Places


 

Do you have places that hurt?

Physical places.

Locations.

Buildings.

Roads.

A church.

A school.

A restaurant.

Places that conjure up memories you have spent a lot of time healing from and forgetting. 

Places that can send you 1,000,000 steps backwards in a single second. 

Maybe it’s the place where you got the diagnosis or experienced the break up.

Maybe it’s where you learned a truth you didn’t want to hear. 

Maybe it’s where good memories and sad memories co-mingle in an unbearable way.

Places that breathe death instead of life. 

This is one of my places.

People who love me and who are deeply familiar with my story understand why this is one of my places.

Last week, during a particularly rough day that had nothing to do with this place or the memories of this place, I had to take a road trip here for work. 

As I drove down this road and past my personal “do not go” point, I was hit instantly with emotions and memories I haven’t visited for a long time. 

I was proud of myself for not losing it.

And as the day went on, I only felt myself slightly starting to spiral. 

I fought hard against the spin out and the backwards motion, and I came out on the other side slightly bruised, but without giving up any of the hard fought ground I have gained toward healing and forgiveness.

Two years ago I started the serious work of forgiveness.

I have two people in my story that I have held deep-seeded anger and resentment toward. 

People who have caused me unimaginable pain and grief. 

People whose choices resulted in collateral damage in my life.

They are people I will never get an apology from and I will never get to tie up their loose ends into a nice little bow of resolution. 

They are my Everest.

Those of you with similar people in your story. You understand. 

You understand that those are the hardest people to forgive, aren’t they?

The ones we don’t get to sit down across a table from and ask them why. 

The ones we don’t get the answers from that we so desperately want. 

The ones that root themselves so deeply in our soul that they become like poison in our hearts. 

The ones we allow to make us calloused, angry, and cynical. 

They are the hardest ones to let go.

The most painful ones. 

And over the last two years during my deep dive on forgiveness, I have learned that with some hurts the process of forgiveness is ongoing. 

A few weeks ago, I was talking with an amazing sister in Christ and we were talking about “baggage”, and the things we need to lay at the foot of the cross.

And she said something that struck a cord with me. 

She said that sometimes you have to visualize yourself physically laying it down.

And that sometimes you have to visualize yourself laying it down every single day. 

Like a morning ritual.

“Here you go, God. I’m going to let you carry this burden today.”

That visualization has been therapeutic for me, especially over the last week. 

Every morning this past week when I’ve woke up and my mind has tried to zap me back to this place, I stop and I visualize myself laying it down. 

This stretch of road.

That hurt.

That anger. 

That unforgiveness.

I lay it down. 

Right there. 

Right at His feet.

Forgiveness is a process. 

And for some hurts, it doesn’t happen overnight. 

But, Jesus knows my heart. He knows where I’m at and where I’m trying to go.

For me forgiveness symbolizes forward motion. 

A desire to be unstuck in a place that no longer serves me or my purpose. 

And as long as I’m trying.

As long as I’m committed to getting there. 

To the other side of all of this.

He will bless me.

He will see me through.

It may not be today or tomorrow or even a year from now.

But we’re getting there, because He’s got this.

And He will continue to carry this place that I no longer want to carry.

As long as I’m willing to continue to lay it down.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

His Steadfast Love


 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,

‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24

 

I woke up this morning to a text and a heart full of ache for a dear friend. 

A hard choice was made, but even harder choices are coming, and I cannot begin to fathom what this morning must feel like for her. 

And as I put my make up on this morning-fighting back tears- I thought about how blessed I am in this moment with my little family tucked safely into my beautiful new home. My children and my husband are happy and well. And then I glanced outside toward the beautiful sunrise that greets me each morning in this precious place we call home. 

And Lamentations came to mind.

I may not understand what today is going to look like for my friend, but I do know what it’s like to have mornings when it feels like the sun may not rise. 

I know what it’s like to have mornings where all you can do is lean into His mercy and grace. 

I know what it’s like to have mornings when it’s only by His power your feet hit the floor that day. 

I may not be in that season right now, but I have been there. 

So today I’m praying new mercies for my sweet friend. 

I’m praying for peace that passes all understanding. 

And I’m praying that today God reveals hope to her as beautiful as the sunrise in a way that only He can.

Count your blessings, friends.

Even if they are hard to find. 

 Because He’s got the day. 

The week.

The month.

The year.

He’s got it, and He’s going to show you beautiful sunrises to prove it.

Yesterday Is Heavy


 

I don’t who needs to hear this. 

 I know there are days I have to be reminded. 

 Days when the night was long, and the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty were loud. 

 Days when the smallest thing make me take 1,000 steps backwards. 

 Days when that *thing* I laid down at His feet makes its way back into my arms. 

 Days when I lose sight of what’s ahead and all that is to come.

 Days I can’t shake. 

 Days that linger all over my soul like second hand cigarette smoke, and fog up the windshield.

 Days I feel like old her instead of new her. 

 Days when I forget all the mercy, grace, and love He has extended me.

 Days that just feel heavy.

 I don’t know who needs to hear this: but lay it down and walk away.

 Don’t look back.

 You don’t even owe it a second glance.

 Today is all your guaranteed.

 Go ahead and own your yesterday.

 It made you who you are.

 But, it’s okay to put it down. 

 To lay it gently at His feet.

 He’s been waiting for it. 

 You were never meant to carry it at all. 

 So, lay it down. 

 Because it’s not going where you’re going, friend. 

 I promise.

Friday, October 23, 2020

I See You


 I see you. 

 To the mama letting her almost two year old terrorize her bathroom so she can get semi-ready and out the door. 

 I see you.

 To the mama who is rocking a baby in his bouncy seat with her foot while she straighten her hair or finally makes time to tweeze those brows.

 I see you.

 To the mama who is feeding her baby while she takes work phone calls and returns emails.

 I see you.

 To the mama who can’t use the bathroom without a tiny person on her lap or at her feet. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama juggling elementary math homework, a crying toddler on her hip, and a stove full of dinner you wish would just make itself. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who is always late no matter how hard she tries to be on time. 

 I see you.

 To the mama who puts in 12 hour days at her job and only 2-3 hours a night with her family. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who sometimes misses dinner and bedtime because of a conference call, or Saturday morning cartoons because of a weekend meeting or shift at work.

 I see you.

 To the mama who has perfected 3 simple 20 minutes dinners and makes them way too much for her family because she doesn’t have the time or the energy to serve a 4 course meal. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who can’t remember the last time she had a date night with her husband. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who can’t be the President of the PTA or attend all the class parties.

 I see you. 

 To the mama who wants desperately to be a good friend, but who struggles to return the texts and phone calls and feels like she’s always the one cancelling “the plan”. 

 I see you. 

To the mama who’s best doesn’t look like Pinterest. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who always feels tired, stressed, worn down, defeated, and over. it. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who is trying to be ALL THE THINGS. 

 I see you. 

 To the mama who doesn’t give herself enough grace for this season.

 I see you.

 I see you, mama.

 Keep going. Keep trying. Keep putting in the work. 

 You may not be perfect, but you are perfect for YOUR people who love you, who understand you, and who support you. 

 It’s just a season, mama. 

 It’ll be gone before you know it.

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