For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Firestorm Days

I don't know what else to call it. It's the kind of day when everywhere I turn I seem to get hit. Usually, I reach the end of the day in tears and exhausted. However, tonight I'm neither in tears or exhausted. I'm just pondering.

About a month ago I had a heavy shelling day. There were several crying spells--fat, hot tears that burned as much in my heart as they did on my face. A few episodes of overreaction and raised voice. A long phone conversation helping me get perspective, and that was all by mid-day. By the time I fell into bed, I felt like a failure for handling the day so badly, losing my calm, letting things get to me, and misdirected my anger and frustration.

That evening I wrote an email to the friend who helped me get perspective and said:
"I guess, it was just things coming at me faster than I could respond to well. I know that firestorms like that prepare me for the next time, and I will respond better next time. Firestorm days are hard, though. They just are."
They still are, but I was right. I handled today better than I handled the day a month ago, and the next time I'll do even better, but I won't handle it better by simply crawling into bed and feeling sorry for myself for having a lousy day that beat me up. Instead, I look at the elements of the day.
Where did I feel I got hit hardest?
What hurt me? Why? What power was there in the words or actions that affected me? How do I keep from giving that power next time?
How can I react better? If I reacted in misdirected anger, what/who was really the target? How could I have dealt with that better?
If I overreacted, how could I have reacted better? Do I need to ask forgiveness?
If I did get mad or hurt, is there an action or words that triggers those reactions every time? If so, how do I need to address it so I control my reaction instead of being controlled by the circumstance, words, or act?

A lot of times my rough days are simply my not choosing responsibility to make them better or to protect them. Frankly, it is over more that I don't protect them than anything else.

For instance, one of the things that really frustrates me are people who have talked to me once or twice--or not at all--in the last two months, read my blog, and assume they have enough information to make judgments or offer advice on my actions, my family's health and coping, or --more specifically-- how well I am handling things are not.

This happens on a weekly basis, and on a weekly basis, my blood pressure goes up.

I really don't understand how people think a thirty or forty minute phone call or maybe two calls over a period of two months gives them any insight into what our home is like, and I would think folks would realize if they have known us for years and was shocked when Rob and I separated because there were lots of things we never shared, there is a novel of information I'm not going to put on my blog for public consumption. I keep thinking surely they realize that they have the equivalent of a few frames of in an epic movie. However, based on those few frames--or in the case of one person, nothing at all--they want to give advice or pass judgment.

Did I mention my blood pressure goes up?

So, my pondering tonight is what to do with this particular type of shelling because I'm tired of it getting to me. I need to find a response that fits within my belief system and my boundaries, and sometimes that is the hard part--setting boundaries that don't make folks happy.

The honest truth is my thoughts go something like this: "You don't know what is going on in our home. What makes you think we need your advice in the first place? What gives you the idea that simply reading my blog makes you any more informed than any other reader out there? And if you are going to ask a question, have the courtesy to listen while I answer fully without hearing only what you want so you can have an excuse to drop in what you want to say. If you really just want to tell me what you think, could you save me time by putting it in an email so I can skim it and hit delete?"

Sound horrible...or honest?

So why don't I say that? Because I might hurt someone's feelings. Because they might get offended. Because they might not speak to me anymore.

But, if I associate conversations with them as the equivalent of being blasted by so-called friendly fire, do I care if they talk to me again? What am I trying to save? If I cringe when I see their number on called id, what is the point of worrying if they don't call?

Usually, I just quit talking. It doesn't matter if I talk. It quickly becomes apparent the person is not actually listening to me or only listening to what they want to hear. In such cases, I end up wasting time I could be using for purposeful things and hope I mumble "uh-huh" and "m-hmm" at the right moment so they think I am listening instead of making a grocery list in my head. This is being nice?

What if I were just honest and said, "You know what, I appreciate your call, but really, I feel good about where we are and how we are doing. If I need you, I'll call."

Or just drop the whole diplomatic thing like I did last week when someone called and went right into criticizing choices made concerning Mom's health and care. The woman was about three sentences in when I firmly said, "I have had a long day, and I do not have the mental energy or the remotest interest in explaining our choices to you, not that it is your business anyway. I need to go now." And, without giving her a chance to reply, I ended the call.

The reality is people are always going to chime in with opinions and advice. Unless one becomes a hermit, it is unavoidable, but I truly believe I can control my response to them and even choose to stop the invasion in an area they have no right to because they have not chosen to know us well enough for the liberties they want to take.

While I try to always respond with a kind tone and kind words, sometimes a perfectly controlled response is simply, "You don't have the right to give advice about this," or something simpler. "I don't want to talk to you about it."

Yes, I've made some folks mad. Amazingly, I still feel no guilt, and I will probably make others mad. I'll let you know if I feel guilt then, but I'm not expecting any, so don't hold your breath.

The fact is there are parts of my day I have no control over. I can't control whether my mom remembers me or not. I can't control sniffly noses or broken toys. I can't always control what will make me incredibly sad in an instant. There are things I get hit with daily that I cannot prevent or stop, and there are some that I can. I just have to take responsibility to think through ahead of time what I will do when those situations come, make a plan, if need be write it down so I don't have to "think" but can mindlessly follow the script, and then act accordingly being firm in my choice of reaction.

The right or peace-bringing reaction doesn't happen on accident. It takes honesty about what bothers me and sometimes why. It requires me to think through things and take responsibility for myself and my family. No, sometimes my choices are not popular, but my goal isn't popularity. It's peace.

Sometimes the way to find peace on firestorm days is finding peace within myself in a calm moment, so I already know how to diffuse the fight before it ever starts.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Last night I was graced with the opportunity to read a friend's manuscript--a last proofing before it goes to the publisher. She thought I was doing her a favor. HA! I finished it and cried fat, hot tears for 45 minutes or so.

Since my husband moved out and my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I have often been told how brave I am, how inspiring I am, how encouraging I am.

Last night I was honest about how broken I am.

As I poured my honest feelings out, I felt like my heart was being sent through a shredder. All the things I wanted to keep hidden oozed out, and the pain felt overwhelming, and honestly, I hated that. But, in the midst of it, I also felt my friend that I poured my heart out the God who never left, just waited until I would let Him close enough for Him to whisper tenderly again. And honestly, that felt so good.

Jesus said God wants people who worship in spirit and in truth. Spirit, I can do. Truth...well, I'm better at worship Him in spirit and perform-well. I'd much rather tell Him what I think He wants to hear, what I think others will find acceptable, or what makes me look good.

While those genres look good, they don't feel good. They never allow me to feel His love and acceptance for me as I am. My longing to be loved never gets filled, and that creates a wound all its own. Also, if I am not honest about the depth of my hurt, I will never see His greatness in the depth of His healing. Why be grateful for steak if I don't think I'm hungry? And, if I never acknowledge that my knees are buckling under the load I am carrying, why would I see the need for another to help or ever understand the compassion that removes it from my shoulder?

No, not everyone will understand the honest part of me. Unfortunately, there will be those who feel the need to offer advice...that is useless and grates on my nerves. Yes, there will sometimes be finger pointing and whispering. They simply won't get it...won't get me. However...

I choose not to worship humans. I choose to worship God.

Thankfully, God has never turned away anyone who sought Him honestly, and He's never withheld good things from people who put themselves in His hand. And even if no one else gets me, I know He will...honestly.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Truth About My Uncensored Life-map...It's Not Just for Me

I hate when I sit down to write something, and it doesn't come out like I want. It happens all the time on my blog, and really, I have got to find a solution.

Sometimes when I'm way behind on journalling, I'll type it in to save time. It comes out sounding like a factual research paper, which isn't the point. I don't need a bulleted life-notes version of happenings. I want the emotion, the thoughts, the depth of my being to be on those pages because I may need to go back and read them to get my bearings or someone else may need that information to get their bearings. The world will not be a better place if I objectively record my life. However, if I am willing to dig deep, be honest even when I hate it and hate how it makes me look or feel, THAT has the potential to make a difference because THAT is where people will find themselves.

It is so easy to sit here behind my keyboard and create a poetic world filled with romanticized heartache and prettified pain. It is so easy to make questions and doubts look lovely and admirable. But what happens when those delicately woven words and intricately devised imagines on the screen slam into real life at the kitchen table, in the bedroom, at the altar, or in one's own journal? What happens when real life destroys the illusion and there are no editor's cuts when the scenes get intense and we can't cut to commercials?

What then?

What about the daughter who feels like she will never measure up to her mom's outrageous expectations? What about the wife who puts on that new silky gown and he rolls over and faces the wall...again?  What about the mom who looks at her teenage daughter and is scared to death that beautiful, pure heart standing before her will become the broken woman she now is? What about the woman who has done everything to stand and feels she cannot stand anymore but does not have the freedom to fall on her knees at the altar because she's afraid she'll get pointing fingers instead of helping hands? So instead, she raises her hands, controls the quiver in her voice, fights back the tears in her eyes, and lies about how fine she more time.

What about her?

What about all those hearts who feel they are the only ones hurting that bad because no one else admits she is...because I don't admit I am?

I don't like to talk about how much I struggle. I would far rather tell people the latest revelation I received, how I was victorious in something, or how God blessed me.

But I don't read the Psalms to hear how strong David was. I read them to hear how hard it was and how he chose to trust anyway. I read about Joseph because I want to know I'm not the only one whose visions don't line up with circumstance. I read about Jesus in the Garden because I don't always like the cup I'm given.

I don't read about these people to commiserate or wallow. I read them to help me keep walking, to help me keep believing. I read the great things God did for and through them to build my faith that He can do those things for and through me.

That's what I want to be for anyone else who reads this blog, who reads my articles, who hears me speak formally or informally. However, David's story is not told in perfect prose. Joseph in a dungeon because he was falsely accused and forgotten by someone he helped is not romantic rhyme. And Jesus on a cross was so offensive even God couldn't stand to look.

What makes me think I can write Rockwellian blogs and articles and have Dorothea Lange impact? Somehow I just don't think it works that way. Somehow I think people are looking for the ugly honesty that somehow becomes something beautiful and meaningful in the hands of an honestly amazing God. Somehow I don't think they are concerned about people saving face as much as they are concerned about knowing God can save them.

Honestly, I understand. Me too.

God, help me to never be more concerned about how I present myself than I am in presenting You.

Saving Face

When people ask if I have been able to write during this season, I answer that I have not had time to write. The truth is, I have not wanted to write.

My writing has always come from my heart, and right now, my heart throbs with pain that leaves seems to abate only to slam me so intensely that it knocks me to my knees.

A few weeks ago I created a new blog, I Really am Okay. I debated whether to simply place those posts here or not, but I decided it was a specialized blog for a particular population and the posts would be more useful if they were together instead of being linked by tags throughout my general blog. Amazing how easy it is to lie...especially to oneself.

The truth is I didn't want those posts here because this is my "writing blog". This is the blog where posts come in ribbons and bows and a nice concluding sentence that wraps everything up in a "God is so good and I'm so blessed" happy thought. It's the places where answers are found and God is glorified and...I look like I have it together.

But right now, I have few answers and a lot of questions, and while I feel blessed, I also feel broken. And "having it together" often means I don't sob where people can see or hear.

And, honestly, it doesn't feel okay.

It feels surreal most of the time and painful beyond words the other.

And I don't want to tell anyone because I want to be the brave, inspiring, encouraging superwoman people say I am. I want to be strong and courageous. I want to be an example for others to look up to. But how am I any of those things when I am on my knees and my tears won't stop and all I feel is pain? 

The fact is I know God has great plans. I also know I have great pain. I do not doubt He has deep love, but that does not mean I do not feel deep loss. His power is greater than I could ever is the hole in my heart.

I wonder how big my faith in God looks compared to my overwhelming humanness, and I worry that people will commiserate with the human and not look to the God. I am afraid people will see my pain and not recognize the promise that even this...even this heart-wrenching, mind-exploding anguish...serves a bigger purpose in the hands of a great God.

And then in the midst of telling Him how I am afraid of making Him look bad, I wonder...whose face am I trying to save--His or mine?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Whole Life

Stretching can be uncomfortable and down right painful if we don't relax into it.

Right now, a friend of mine is being stretched. Sadly, she is fighting it, and it hurts. This morning she found out another thing she wanted is not happening, and she is angry "with the powers that be".

I am not terribly sympathetic.

First of all, I have grown weary of the spoiled brat mentality that the world--and God--is supposed to give us what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. Since when is it about us? I have yet to read anywhere in the Bible where we are promised cushy lives filled with all that makes us happy. On the contrary, Jesus says in this world we'll have trouble, but don't worry because He's overcome the world.  In other words, life won't always be what you want, but He can turn it into what you need! It may feel like hell and leave you on your knees gasping for air, and He's still going to make something amazing out of it. This is not about us having it easy. It's about His being faithful.

My friend said she shouldn't be dealing with the situation she is. My question is simple: why not?

In her circumstnace, she made choices, and this is where those choices have led. This is not something personal against her. It's LIFE.

Life has its moments and seasons that are all warm fuzzy, and life has its seasons that are hard and hellish. BUT, even in those, LIFE flourishes. It all is life, and no one gets out without going through all of the above. Everyone is entitled to love and lose, to rejoice wildly and to hurt like hell.

A good life, a flourishing life is one that embraces all the wonder and the war, the joy and the pain, the hope and the disappointement, and trusts God to do great things even when it isn't what you would have chosen.

And if I sound like I am being unsympathetic, I'm not. I know it is hard, and a person has every right to feel like it is hard, but I don't do the "I don't deserve this" or "this shouldn't be happening to me". There are people dealing with disease, death, war, and prosperity that did nothing to deserve those things.  Life is not about what we deserve. It's about life just being life.

People ask how I can walk through the separation from my husband and my mom's diagnosis of terminal cancer with such joy and excitement for life. It's simple--I choose to. I choose not to play victim, and I choose not to have pity parties. I accept the hard moments, and I accept that I cry and hurt so bad I can't breathe. I also accept that there are amazing people who do kind things every single day, and I refuse to let those kindnesses go unnoticed or unappreciated. I refuse to let the joy of their giving be lost to either them or me. I can choose to wallow in the pain or look up and move forward. I choose to look up and keep moving.

I know our society and even Christianity as a faith teaches that we are entitled to daisies and chocolate. It's a lie. Life is hard. It'll make you so high that you dance wildly and knock you to your knees in the next moment. You can fight it, but it won't stop it. It just makes it impossible to enjoy it.

And if I am going to be on this adventure, I plan to enjoy every second. Why shouldn't I? After all, it's my life.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Life May be Hard, but I'm Still Okay

As some of you know, this is a hard season for me.

My husband and I separated at the end of June after nineteen years of marriage. Needless to say, that has been a trial.

On July 30th, my mom was taken to the ER with indications of a stroke. Three hours later, I sat in a conference room as images of Mom's lungs and brain revealed multiple large masses. We went from concerns of paralysis to a prognosis of weeks or months to live.

Since then, my life has been an insane rollercoaster ride.

The difficulties and pain are more than dealing with separation and an expected divorce or cancer and the concept of "terminal". They are the well-meaning friends who want to drown--I mean love you with Starbucks and let you listen--I mean talk all you want. The pain is the family members in denial, hoping for something...anything...that will make a difference. It is watching the person breathing just find, suddenly catch a breath and hold it so long you wonder if you just witnessed the last one...and then feeling sorry that it wasn't. It is learning to turn off the phone and the computer and feeling no remorse.

It is continuing to breath when the person you love so much is gone...or going...and it hurts so much that you are sure your heart will be crushed by the pain.

I know. I'm living it...and I'm talking about openly and honestly as my heart and mind can allow. I am being open about what helps, what doesn't, and why. I'm sharing my honest feelings and thoughts...even when some of them are far outside others' comfort zones. I am rejoicing in hope...and being honest about the hard days. And I'm refusing to play a role for anyone. I'm taking it moment by moment as it comes...the laughter, the tears, the life, the death, the rejoicing, the grieving...and I'm finding it's okay...I'm okay.

If you or someone you know is in a hard place and needs to find refuge or share hearts, come join me at I Really Am Okay. Maybe you'll find out you are okay, too...or that you can be.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Yesterday Mom spent several hours sitting on my deck hunched over with tears slipping down her face. The facts of life...and death...seeping into her reality.

I stood at the window and watched, not knowing how to give comfort, afraid of my own tears.

What could I possibly say? "Mom, it's okay." No, it's not. Cancer is so far from okay. "Mom, it'll be alright." The headaches that remind her of the bomb ticking in her head never stop. How can that ever be alright?

But how could sitting alone in one's pain alright? And how can keeping a distance from someone hurting because of fear of one's own pain ever be okay?

A hard blink and a quick swipe of the hand. A shaky deep breath. "Oh, God, help me be what she needs right now. Help me be the love you have for her."

Her head lifted when I opened the door, and her red eyes followed me as I moved the other chair close to her and sat down.

"I love you, Mom."

She nodded, blinked, and leaned back in the chair. A deep breath.

"I love you, too, Sis."

"I don't know what to do, but I'm here."

She didn't look at me, only nodded.

"Here is good."

I leaned back in my chair, too.

Silence wrapped around us, held us tight...held us close. There was nothing to say, only somewhere to be.

Here is good.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Don't Want to Be Here...Except...I Do

Seven weeks ago Rob moved out.

Eighteen days ago I sat in a conference room and stared at images of my mother's lungs and brain spotted with cancer.

When Rob first moved out, one of the hardest things were the "kick in the stomach" moments. Those were the moments that left me mentally or emotionally doubled over in pain, trying to catch my breath, feeling like another blow would collapse my already shaky knees. Such moments included finding a loose engagement picture when I moved stuff in a closet, putting away a book Rob had been reading to us as a family, and grocery buying for three instead of four. The hits came from unexpected places at what felt like the most vulnerable times.

Many phone calls and emails at those moments helped me find my footing, catch my breath, and recapture my hope.  I learned to roll with those moments, to feel them, to accept them, to grieve them, and to let them go while looking forward and believing good would come. It took weeks, but I became good at taking what came at me while solidly standing on my feet...until yesterday.

Yesterday was spent seeking a solution to a seemingly hopeless situation.

The tumor in Mom's frontal lobe has left her paranoid, given to rage, and sometimes violent. Sunday there was an episode with my stepdad that required intervention by our hospice support and removal of my mom from her home. The only solution in the moment was to transport her to my home. However, there are concerns.

The simple fact is there are a lot of factors that are creating an unstable situation. Mom's meds, inability to regulate or filter her moods due to the tumor, her frustration, the deep grief she feels, and a lack of sleep work together to create a person who is wonderful when she's normal but possibly highly volatile when she is pushed even the slightest bit too far. Obviously, this is not going to work with my children in the home. Plus, she hates being here. She wants her own home, and she wants to be left alone. Due to her inability to think well all the time, this is not a viable option. Due to monetary issues, an assisted care facility or a full-time caregiver is not an option.

There are no good options.

Despite rolling things around and around in my mind and playing out different scenarios, I have no answer.

But that is not what slammed into me yesterday. All of that makes my brain tired, but it is only a puzzle with a solution I don't know yet. However, I will. My faith is strong. God has a solution. I haven't heard Him tell me what it is yet, but there is one.

All of that, while tiring, is okay. It'll work out.

That is not the kick in the stomach.

Last evening Rob brought the children over to spend time with Mom and be encouragers. I was looking forward to it since I have hardly seen them since Friday, and I miss them greatly. All was going I thought, and we were getting ready for bed when Robert came to me.

"Mom, can we spend the night at Dad's?"


"We want to stay at Dad's."


"We just like being there more."

"Well, you can call him and ask."

Robert did. Rob said yes, and they were on their way out the door...again.

And I was left feeling like I had just gotten kicked in the stomach, feeling like I just watched my fragmented family shatter.

The door closed, and I breathed. Sometimes that is enough.

Anna and I had talked before they left. She wasn't picking parents. She was picking peace.

Being with my mom, watching her sadness, was too much for two hearts already figuring out ways to heal. I understood.

"I don't want to be here." My mom's slurred words hit me in the back of the head like a slap.

I listened as Rob's car pulled out of the driveway and drove away.

I don't want to be here either.

I would rather be listening to my children laugh as I tucked them in bed and gave them tickles and kisses than to hear them call, "I love you, Mom," over their shoulder as they got into their dad's care to leave again. I'd rather read the book I bought than try to finagle finances so Mom can have good care that keeps her safe while still respecting her desire to care for herself as long as possible. I'd rather...

I'd rather be courageous than cowardly. I'd rather do the right thing...even if I don't like the high cost that goes with it...than to do the easy thing.

The fact is my children are fine. They love being with their dad, and they love playing with friends. I am the one feeling detached. I am the one feeling alone. I am the one feeling the weight of the situations, of being the fulcrum from which the balancing act seems to extend. Being the fulcrum hurts, and the balancing act rubs in ways I don't like.

No, I don't like being here either, but neither does anyone else trying to find their balance in the midst of the situations that keep us feeling off balance. Someone has to be here, though, in the middle, seeking solutions, feeling the weight, finding the balance. That someone might as well be me, and, maybe my being here will make it better for the wonderful people I love. If it will, this is where I want to be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yet Another Change in Plans

I did not watch the sun come up this morning as I had expected.  Instead, I slept till 8:00 and was awoke by a text message from a friend when the phone buzzed on my bedside table...and not the one in my camper.

I expected to greet the day with a strange mixture of peace, melancholy, and joy. Instead, I met the day with a deep sigh and the question, "How did life get like this?" 

Last night's happenings don't cross my mind. Next week's do. Unless there is another major change in plans, my mom will come to live with the children and me next weekend.

A list of "to do's" longer than I care to consider resurfaces from last night. Instantly, more is added to it. Plans for next week are quickly factored into the situation. Social activities. Non-negotiable appointments. A writing deadline. Some things will simply have to go. I can't do everything. What is necessary? What is first?

Within seconds a plan is formed. The list is rearranged into an order based on priority and prerequisites. Time estimates are made. A list of resources, including people who can and will help, immediately comes to mind, and I start placing them where I need them and when. A different list of emails and appointment rescheduling is created in my mind, and I ponder the logic of resheduling right now at all. Some planned events are not easily categorized, and I weigh the cost/benefit ratio. They are slipped into "We'll see." A sublist of things that simply need to be nixed is made as well. I simply don't have time for them.

A deep breath. I know what has to be done and how to do it.

Less than two minutes have passed.

I blink at the ceiling and feel the cushion of the mattress under me. This time next week this won't be my room. My bed will be in storage, and my "new normal" will be eradicated yet again. I chuckle as I wonder how many new "new normals" we will go through before this rollercoaster slows to a halt...but then, I'll have bigger emotional concerns than moving back into my then empty bedroom.

Tears don't come this time. I hear a mental door slam. I don't have time to be emotional right now.

I have a job to do.

Six days to get it done.

And time is ticking.

I'll have to enjoy the luxury of my bed...and my emotions...later. Right now, a to do list awaits.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Amazing Moment

One of those moments that feels good even when it doesn't...and makes me smile even while I cry...

When I talked to my mom this morning, I told her she is amazing. She said she doesn't feel amazing. I told her that is okay, I think she's amazing anyway. She started to cry...and so did I.

In the Early Morning Hours

Some mornings start absurdly early, like this one. At 4:23 my wide-open eyes stared at the clock beside me. It's been a few weeks since I was up this early and couldn't go back to sleep.  Before, it wasn't a big deal. I would prop myself up in bed, read through emails, journal some, and pray. When I got tired later in the afternoon, I would take a nap. Today, however, that is not an option. Today we are going camping with my mom and dad, most likely for the last time.

Even as I write that, I cannot really process it.

Last week I walked by our pop-up camper and suddenly found myself leaning against it with hot tears running down my face.

We bought the camper for our family to take trips together. Now our family...isn't.  A few years ago my parents bought their camper so they could join us on our trips. We've loved it. Now my mom's health is fading quickly, and my stepdad isn't able to do the preparations and make the trips alone.

And my tears fall. 

Yesterday when my mom called to ask us to camp this weekend, I bravely agreed, made the plans, packed the necessary things...and all the while wiped fat tears from my face. The "last times" are so hard...and so precious.

Camping in mid-August in Texas has got to be one of the craziest things anyone would do. The temps are in the triple-digits. Our pop up isn't made to stay cool in this weather, and there isn't much to do besides melt. My practical side is about to have a hissy fit.

But I am more than practical.

I am a mom whose daughter needs as many precious moments of Grandma as she can hold.

I am a story teller who needs the pictures, the whole story, and the opportunity to tell it...the adventure of living it.

I am a daughter who hates seeing her mom this way...but hates the future of not being able to see her I capture the moments...the laughs on the phone, the conversations in the hospital room, the insanely timed camping trips whose time is coming to a close. And I hold those treasures in my my my heart...and I know no amount of tears, no matter how big or how hot will wash them away.

And even though my vision is blurred, my purpose is not.

So I pack swimsuits, shorts, an extra fan, boxes of kleenex. I take a deep breath and do not think of what we will be leaving behind when we pack up our family trip...for the last time. Instead, I focus on what we will take home.

And I pray.

I pray for us to say what needs to be said, to hug as long as we need to hug, to laugh even when we cry. I pray we do not put on plastic faces that pretend all is well when it isn't, but I pray we do not miss the joy and laughter just because life isn't what we want it to be.

Oh, God, gives us the wisdom and strength to be okay with the glory of life when it is so easy to lose its joy in the shadow of death. When I look back, I don't want to think about this weekend as the last hoorah, as trying to salvage moments and memories. I want it to be a weekend where we lived and loved intentionally, knowing you could do something miraculous and there might be other weekends, but if not, it's okay. I want us to have this weekend because this is how we choose to live, not because we are afraid to die.

And, God, help me be brave. Help me to engage emotionally, even when emotions feel like the enemy because right now, my heart hurts more than words can say. Help me not to miss the love and the joy because I'm afraid of the pain. Right now, I don't know how I am going to do this, but I guess we'll do this like everyting else, won't we? One moment at a time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Enjoying the Day

This morning I woke up mentally and emotionally heavy. It's the kind of morning that seduces me to stay in bed and wallow in the sadness and glum of my life at the moment. No tears fall. No defined emotion, just a numbed misery that wants to suck me in and suck the life out of me.

It is easy to succumb.

But I don't.

Instead, I speak the heavy thoughts to the Lord, the ones that whisper hopelessness and loneliness. I tell Him my concerns, the ones over which I have so little control. I confide my desires--to be loved, to embrace these trials, to learn from them, to learn to battle through them, to enjoy this day anyway. 

To enjoy this day anyway. Quite possibly the hardest battle of all. 

I have become rebellious to the plastic mentality of putting on a happy face and pretending all is fine even when my heart has been ripped out of my chest and I feel I can't breathe. I have become militant in my determination to be real, to live authentically, to embrace every moment and every emotion, suck all the wisdom out of them, and then move forward. I will not lie about my pain so others can feel better or be more comfortable around me.  Yet, despite my choice to embrace the feelings of the moment, I have become ardent in refusing to let them define me or my day.  I have become passionately purposeful in living each day with hope, joy, and excitement--to live life at its most glorious...anyway.

Life at its most glorious is not an absence of trials. It is the choice to flourish in and because of the trials.

How do I do that today?

"Lord, give me strength."

He answers, "Strong is something you choose to be. Strong is the choice to do the right thing. You know how to be strong."

"Give me wisdom."

"I am. Right now."

"Lord, tell me what I need to do right now to embrace life at its most glorious."

"You're doing it. You are embracing the option and the day's possibilities."

"I can't pretend to be happy."

"I'm happy you won't pretend."

I chuckle.

"So what do I do to move past this? Because hopeless and gloomy are not who I am."

"Then be you and enjoy it. Enjoy what you bring to the world. Enjoy the hope and encouragement you bring. Enjoy you. I do."

A soft laugh, and I smile.

Be you...and enjoy it...I do.

Honestly, so do I. 

I take a deep breath and sigh contentedly. Oh, yeah, it's going to be a great day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In the Darkness

2:00 am.  Middle of the night. I'm awake, laid out on the couch, finding words to put with the reality. I don't know why I am experiencing the darkness while others get to rest.  All I know is I am here for a reason.

The darkness won't last forever, and eventually I will rest. For now, I am believing in the purpose of being in the darkness.

In my life, my marriage is in question, and my mother is facing her final battle. Doubts of our marriage's viability assail my husband. Cancer ravages my mom. 

It is dark.

I do not know why this darkness has come to my family. All I know is I am here for reason. The darkness doesn't last forever, and at some point, I will rest. For now, I know God has a purpose...even when I do not understand...even when I cannot see...even in this darkness.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Parts of Life I Hate

Like today. Not because it's Wednesday, but because it is an angry day.  I hate angry days.

Honestly, angry days make me feel like defeated, not dejected or discouraged, but like I am losing a war.  I hate that someone else' actions or life's circumstances can have so much control over my responses. I hate that my emotions just run amuck without my permission. I hate that I can be having a great time and some weird thing happen and suddenly I'm sobbing.

I hate this more than I can tell you.

I hate feeling like the sadness is bigger than I can get on top of some days, and I end up feeling like my whole goal is simply to find air pockets so I can breathe under this pile of life rubble I'm under.

I hate feeling broken, like I can't see people for who they are but through some shattered filter. I hate wondering when I will trust people's motives and words again.

And, yes, I know.  All of this is normal, and my being angry about it is about as sensible as a soldier being mad at him-/herself for being shot in combat, hurting from the wound, and having to heal. I do understand that.

I understand my life has been ripped into a more pieces than I can count, and it seems that every piece has become some sort of shrapnel that has embedded itself into me in excruciatingly painful ways.  However, I also understand that even if I am wounded, I have people for whom I am responsible. I take the responsibility very seriously, and I hate feeling like I am not doing the best I possibly can for them, to lead them, to train them up for when they face battles like this, to help them find their footing when everything around them seems to be crumbling, to help them find their way through the pain and questions to see there is still goodness and joy.

As I said, these are the days when I feel defeated, like I'm losing the battle, like I have to fall back to a defensive position instead of standing in an offensive one, and yeah, I hate that.