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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When You Have to Stop but the World Can't

I have not liked the flu, head cold, or pneumonia.
And I certainly have not liked having them back to back.
But, I've liked some of the changes those things have required.

The world having to go on without me is a good thing.
It lets the world know they are okay without me
and gives me freedom to be okay not always being needed by them.

This is good stuff.

Monday, January 28, 2013

In the Beginning...of a Great Week

It's Monday!

You have a whole week to... wondrous things,
            ...invest in creating the life you want,
        people deep,
                      ...and make a difference in this world!

And if you think it won't give you a chance, make one!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Postless Days and Appreciated Prayers

I started the new year with a flu bug. About a week into the year, I felt good again.
There was much rejoicing.

The day my body was able to get out of bed without aching, watching the room spin, or wanting to expel all food from Christmas, I heard it. That cough from deep in the chest, and the voice that comes from clogged sinuses. My boy. I love that boy.

I loved that boy through the next week of no energy, raspy breathing, and little sleep. Finally, on about day 5, we saw change. Clear nasal passages were at the end of the virus, and it was good.

On day 6, it bumbled down the hall. The breathy whisper-yell of a teenage girl trying on an adolescent boy's voice. I was no impressed. Nor was I impressed with the body shaking coughs that reached so deep and lasted so long her body ached from the convulsions expending air and the gunk blocking it. My girl. I love that girl.

I loved that girl through the next week of no energy, raspy breathing, and little sleep. Finally, on day 5, we saw change. On day 6, she declared it: "I feel better!"

I my adolescent teenage boy voice which had slipped in during the night.

This is now day 6, and I cannot declare I feel better. I will confess I am tired, my entire nasal system including ears throb, and sleep has been relogated to my 29:11 file. Talking is exhausting and aggravates my airways, and my mind cannot function well-enough to put two significant thoughts together, and I simply do not have words for the mental and emotional rollercoaster the lack of sleep and constant discomfort has created.

This too shall pass, but until it does, I am going to sit quietly and pray thoughtfully.

Would you please consider praying for us, too?

With humble appreciation for God's goodness,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When Abortion Makes Sense

Why would anyone have an abortion?

Why would someone kill their own baby?

Why would anyone do that?
Because the fear of parental retribution or cruelty is real.

Because someone says, "Either you do this, or you are on your own," and at 14, 15, 16 year old, how does one make it on her own...little less with a baby in tow?

Because the thought of having a baby that needs extreme medical intervention, that will need extreme help physically, mentally, financially is simply more than a person can handle. It isn't about wanting a perfect baby. It's about being an imperfect human who has limits and doesn't know how to climb Everest when a normal hill was already looking huge.

Because not all daddies are kind. Some are cruel, and some give two options: you get rid of the baby,
Because it can feel more humane to abort a baby then let a man who doesn't want it kick and beat the life out of it while he kicks and beats the life out of you.

Becasue mommies carrying babies from incest are terrified of that baby being the next victim.

Because sometimes being alone and trying to take care of oneself is overwhelming. The idea of being responsible for another human being...that can bury you.
Because peer pressure can be relentless.
Because giving up what you've never seen seems easier than giving up what you've felt move, heard cry, and know looks like you.

Why have an abortion?

Because people are human, and fear is a weapon of hell that Satan uses in a kazillion different ways to steal, kill, and destroy.

If you want to stop abortion, stop judging. Stop declaring you can't understand...and get some understanding. Quit talking about how you don't know how anyone could do that and find out why they do that. THEN, deal with the WHY.

Judgment doesn't care about the why. It cares about the what.

Compassion cares about why, how to help, and what needs to be done to heal.

You want to stop babies from being killed? Address what those mommas fear if they live.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Survival 101--Desperately Walking on Water

When people hear our story, almost without exception, the first question is: How did you survive?

That is an excellent question, and my usual answer is, "God is good." I say that because 1. it's true and 2. I truly believe we made it through the trauma only because we had God.

Oh, we might have physically lived, but we would have been the nightmare statistics you read about with the drugs, relationships, shopaholic, depression, self-destruction, etc. And honestly, without God, I could easily see suicide being an issue. A person simply does not come out of that alone. Don't believe me? Look around you. We could have been the worst scenerio. Instead, we are the best scenerio, and the difference is God.

I would love to give you some touchy feely, great-time-with-God story about the sweet fellowship and how I felt so loved and God-ified through the whole thing, but I'm not going to lie to you. God and I were tight, but it wasn't pretty.

There were times God and I were tight because I knew if we weren't, I was going to drown. He was a necessity, not a warm fuzzy.

Some people have a hard time with that reality. After all, He is God, and I'm...not. The proper way to approach God is with reference and worship and humility...or absolute desperation. I have found He responds to both.

When Peter was walking on water and started to sink, he did not pray in a solemn manner, "God of all creation, Father of everything, I humbly beseech thee to look upon thy servant which is sinking and in your mercy and kindness respond to my cry for aid." No. Peter opened his mouth and screamed, "JESUS! HELP!!! I'M SINKING!"

Stop and think about that.

Peter is walking on water because Jesus has asked him to join Him out among the waves. Peter is where Jesus ASKED HIM TO BE.

Peter is where Jesus wills for him to be.

And Peter looks around, and reality slams him.

There are winds and waves, and the average person would already be sucking water or dead by now, but he's...standing on a foundation that isn't a foundation but a death trap that was never made to hold him up...GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! WHAT WAS JESUS THINKING?!

And he starts to sink.

Now, most folks stop here and shred Peter for not having faith. Really? No faith? If this is a man of no faith, then why is the first thing thing out of his mouth, "Jesus, help me! I'm sinking"?

For a man with no faith, he sure puts a lot of trust in Jesus' compassion to grab him even though his doubt dragged him under.

For a man with no faith, he sure put a lot trust in Jesus' forgiveness in his failure.

For a man with no faith, he sure put a lot of trust in Jesus' faithfulness.

And he wasn't raising his voice in worship or adoration. No. He was raising his voice in desperation to the only hope he had.

And Jesus reached down and grabbed him.

Now, I wasn't there, and the Bible doesn't tell us, but I'm thinking Jesus either teleported to Peter's side, or He was there all the time, which makes me wonder why Peter didn't just reach out and grab Jesus. He was obviously within reach, so why didn't Peter just grab Him?

I'm not Peter. I'm just someone who has started to sink, and there were times I could not think straight enough to reach out beside me. The shock of sinking despite being where God had ordained me to be left me unable to think of how to get a hold of the situation. All I knew to do was cry out to the one who could get a hold of me.

And like Peter, I can hear Him ask, "Why did you doubt?"

Because I'm Jerri.

Because I'm human.

Because the waves were bigger than I had any idea they would be.

Because...I had no idea being where You wanted me to be could hurt so much.

Because for that moment, I forgot my foundation isn't the water I'm walking on but the One who made the water and told me I could walk on it.

 And because I doubted, I became desperate.

But even in my desperation, I knew on whom I can depend.

And despite my forgetfulness, You remain faithful.

And ultimately, I may hate where I am, but I'm thankful You are in it...

Because even in my forgetfulness, I remember...

the only way through the waves and across the water is with You.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Best Time For Grace--From Ourselves

MizzBrizz over at Waking Up Me! left a great comment on my post "The Best Time for Grace" . In fact, it was so good I have to share it...because some of us need it...because some of us need grace...from ourselves.

"Sometimes we find it so hard to forgive ourselves. To let go of who we were or what we did that we build the bars and slap on the chains of our imprisonment. We ALLOW ourselves to be there. To punish ourselves for our transgressions. To live beat down thinking that will be payment for what we've done. We forget--or some do not yet know--that Jesus' blood washes it all away when we take it to the cross in confession and repentance for our fall, our sin."

The Best Time for Grace

They say he headed up the biggest in-your-face doping scheme to be pulled off in sports.

They say he made a mockery of the sport and a joke of the people who believed in him.

They say he fooled the world for years.

Now he is saying they are right.

According to "sources", Lance Armstrong is going to confess all his sins on TV for the world to see.

I don't know Lance Armstrong. For whatever he did...

I don't know why he made the choices he did. Obviously the person he was then thought it was acceptable. Maybe he felt he needed something he could get no other way. Maybe he believed that is who he needed to he could be something. Maybe...maybe he's as human as I am.

I don't know why he is confessing now. Maybe he is weary. Maybe he has learned...he doesn't need the lies to be truly himself. Maybe he has learned...the best part of him, the world changing part of him...isn't in a frame on the wall. Maybe he is weary of being a fugitive. Pasts can become prisons we can run from but never escape until we put on the prison clothes and call ourselves what we are...debtors of the sinful kind...desperate for freeing grace...right now.

And when I look at Lance Armstrong, I am looking in a mirror, a mirror I stand before far more than I want to confess...putting on prison clothes, calling it what it is...a person from the past desperate for grace right now.

And I confess...

And I can't explain it into goodness...

I can only say this is...what I've done...who I've been...who I am...asking for a chance to be better...another chance to be get it be me the right way...the be the me I wish I had been...

And I should have been here before...should have fallen on knees before...should have confessed before...should have been someone not her before...

But I am now, and now is all I have to offer.

...and now I am here I am fallen I am confessing I am needing

...and there is no better time than now...

...for Grace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Sometimes It's Just Gonna Be Me and Him"

"Have learned that even the wellest meaning can't be in crisis mode 24/7...even if you are. Sucks to know that. It's a harsh reality. But when no one else can that's when I've had to remember that God can. Sometimes He uses people. Sometimes it's just gonna be me and Him."

Yes, sometimes it is just going to be Him and me, and frankly, sometimes those seem to be the absolute hardest times. You would think He could send someone at the absolute hardest times, wouldn’t you?

Except, sometimes in the absolute hardest times what I really need is just Him.

There is a level of honesty I can reach with Him when it is just the two of us that I don’t reach when people are around. I can say what I want to and not have to wrap it in acceptable language. I can feel whatever I really feel and not have to worry that others are uncomfortable. I can be core-honest with Him when I can’t with others.

You know how sometimes when it’s just you and God and you hurt worse than you could ever imagine and it feels like your heart is being ripped out of your chest? Well, that is pretty accurate for what is going on.

When I’m alone with God, it gives Him the chance to reach deep, way deep, deeper than my human consciousness may want to go to touch the thing that is hurting me the most. He doesn’t waste time with symptoms. He doesn’t play hide and seek. He goes right to the heart of the wound.

The Bible says the Spirit leads me into all truth (John 16:13). It also says I will know the truth and the truth will set me free (John 8:32). I will never be healed without the truth of what happened and my interpretation of it. I have to acknowledge what happened first. Then I have to acknowledge how I feel about it and how it defined me mentally and emotionally. Then I have to let God redefine me and live in HIS definition.

There is no person who can do that for me.

Plus, for those of us who stand strong no matter what slams them, for those who have learned to perform, for those who have learned to breathe anyway, for those who have become experts at keeping the stuff that might weaken us locked away…we need someone to find us. We need someone to walk into the soul-cellar and find the Pandora’s box that we keep hidden so no one else sees it. That is what being alone just God and me allows.

I often refer to the things that keep us imprisoned as ‘monsters’. When I’m alone with God, He pulls me to a place of honesty about the monsters that I cannot reach with a person.

And, yes, it does feel like the absolute worst I’ve gone through because at that moment I am at monster pain ground zero. This is the epicenter of the anguish.

The Bible says the Jesus is the Mighty Counselor and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). No counselor is going to have a soul deep session with a patient in a food court in the mall. There is no way a person can be honest about deep soul hurts in that setting. Instead, the counselor offers a private place that is safe and serves as a refuge. Jesus does the same thing.
He gets me alone in a place where I feel safe, usually my bedroom, and He listens to me cry and scream and talk and hurt. While I'm pouring all this out, because remember out of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34), the Lord digs out the deep things of the heart, the stuff in my soul-cellar that I had either hidden so well I had forgotten about it or I didn’t realize how much or in what way it affected me.

As I said, these are excruciating times. I always hated that worst-pain-ever –and-God-is-the-only-one-who-showed-up times, but they are necessary for healing.
And I am learning instead of screaming about how much it hurts and how bad I hate it, what honestly helps is to ask, “What do you need me to see? What do you want to expose? How do I work with you for the healing?”

It still hurts like hell, but by asking Him to show me the “monster”, I’m opening the door for Him to show me how to defeat it, and that allows me to get beyond it. As horribly nightmarish as it may feel, facing the monster is part of getting through the pain. Until I am willing to face the monster, I’m not going through, I’m stuck in, and the pain never gets better.

I thank God for every person He has sent into my life who has helped with the healing in the last 2 ½ years. They have been valiant warriors who have fought with me and over me, and I don’t know how we would have come through without them. Honestly, I think we couldn’t have. I believe they were essential, which is why God put them there.

However, some monsters can’t be fought by even the fiercest warrior friend. In fact, those warrior friends can actually try so hard to protect me and make me feel better, they actually hinder the healing because they don’t let me fight the monsters I need to fight or I’m afraid to be really honest about the monsters that are out there. Sometimes it is necessary for those friends to step off the battlefield and let me face the real monsters that are keeping me in prison.

Those "just God and me" moments aren't God's carelessness or His thoughtlessly not providing someone to be there with me. It is part of His necessary plan to get me alone so He can deal with monsters I can't deal with any other way. I'm learning to consciously know when God is all I have, it isn't just that He is all I need. It's that I specifically need Him only.

The Blessing of Others Outside the 24/7 Crisis Mode

"Have learned that even the wellest meaning can't be in crisis mode 24/7...even if you are. Sucks to know that. It's a harsh reality."

First of all, I applaud the courage to say this! Isn't this the absolute truth?!

And, you are right. No one can be in crisis mode 24/7, but I've learned that is a gift.

Sometimes when people aren't in crisis mode, if I give myself permission to step into their reality, it helps me. Either things get in perspective, or I just get a reprieve. Either is good.

For instance, I've had several times when I've called someone and said, "Just tell me about your day."

My closest friends now know that is my code for, "Really hard day. Need to step out of me so I can breathe and step back into it with a clearer mind and less emotion, so I need to step into you."

Usually, they start with, "Well, I did this mundane thing, which was followed by some other mundane thing, and then you won't believe how absurd this other wholly mundane thing was," and I listen and laugh, and we end up talking about all kinds of things. It feels so good to my soul.

When we are done, whatever was slamming me is usually not as bad because I'm not in emotion anymore. Emotion never handled a problem or allowed for healing. Emotions are indicators, not responders. If you want to actually deal with something, you have to think it through and respond. A clear mind is a powerful weapon when crisis comes.

Taking time to step out of the emotion can give the mind time to start grabbing truth, get a solid footing, and stand up to whatever is happening.

Having people who are not in the crisis gives me a chance to step outside of it, too, which allows me to think of how to respond instead of just react.

It's a great thing.

And you may be wondering how to do that. Simple. You choose.

Just like choosing to walk in out of the rain.

If you are walking down a street and it is pouring rain, you are going to get sopping wet. Now, you choose to stop by and say hello to some friends because you want a moment not to be rained on, and they invite you in to warm up by the fire. You walk in and stand by the fire. ENJOY THE FIRE. You aren't in there because you have to be. You aren't in there because your friends need you to be. You are in there because your friends have a fire they want to share with you. ENJOY THE FIRE.

Yes, I know you are still sopping wet, and it is still raining, and you still have a long way to walk.

But for right then, that moment ENJOY THE FIRE.

When I make those phone calls to friends or a friend offers to take me to paint, see a play, etc., I have a chance to step out of the rain and get warm by the fire. I choose not to think about the rain outside. I choose to focus on something good in that moment.
Part of healing is forcing the pain to yield to some happy.

And, yes, I have hurt so badly that no matter how 'happy' things were, I always felt the undercurrent of pain raging below the thin ice where I stood. I remember thinking I was never really happy, and I wasn't, not like I was before God shook up my life etcha-sketch. And there were times I hurt so much for what I had lost I couldn't feel joy for what others had. I think that is pretty normal, but, I refused to stay there.

I tried to focus on one thing that brought a smile to my face. I would pray fervently, "God, help me be happy for this person." I clung to anything that felt "better".

Sometimes, that is all a fire can do--make it better, but make the choice to enjoy the better. Sometimes you have to mentally fight to recognize that moment of better, but it is worth it. YOU are worth it.

And you are worth stepping out of crisis and enjoying the reprieve.

It's not escaping. It's catching your breath, and taking time to get off the battlefield with others who help you think about anything but the crisis raging in you is vital to being able to stay in the fight.

I know. There is a voice in the back of your head that calls it abandonment and disinterest, but I've learned that voice lies a lot.

Maybe God didn't put anyone in your crisis with you because He knew you needed to step out of your crisis for a bit and be with them.

And when the war is raging, a reprieve is a wondrous blessing.

Monday, January 14, 2013


When our world changed so suddenly, a lot of "friends" suddenly disappeared. WonderGirl said it was as though they thought we had cooties and if they got too close, they could catch them.

A few months ago, our family had multiple conversations concerning homosexuality and how Christians act like homosexuals have cooties and if we get too close, we might catch them.

I'm a Christian. I adhere to the Word of God that says homosexuality is a sin.

I'm a sinner that prays for grace and mercy...and wants to be loved anyway.

Too often Christians forget that last part. We are so busy being Bible-advocates we forget to be Jesus-livers.*

Jesus wasn't afraid of cooties. Whether they be divorce cooties, orphan cooties, adulterous cooties, tax collector cooties...or homosexual cooties...whatever they were, He was all in. He loved passionately.

At our house, we are asking how to be to be all and all...or maybe that is love FOR all.

The following is a PROFOUND article by a pastor who learned to being hated.

In my opinion, if you are a Christian, it's a must read.

If you are a homosexual, Jesus loves you, and that isn't my opinion. That is fact.

The Gay Community and that One Time Jesus Called Me the N-word.

*So you know...No. Not Jesus-lOvers. Jesus-lIvers. You know. Folks who LIVE like Jesus. Can't live like Him if you don't love like Him, and if you don't love like Him, then what exactly are you living? Yeah. Jesus-livers.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Because Sometimes It Takes Thinking Like a Marine to Heal

When a man or woman joins the Marine Corps, he or she enters boot camp. For the next 13 weeks these men and women have one purpose: learn to be a Marine.

Their way of thinking is addressed. Their way of acting is corrected. Their entire mentality and identity is altered so that when they leave boot camp, they live in such a way as to bring honor to the USMC.

These weeks are imperative in the making of a Marine. It is simply impossible to be a Marine without them. While these men and women are in boot camp, no one is bashing them for not being in a war zone shooting a gun. No one is telling them how they are failing the Corps because they are not covering someone's back. No one is trashing them for only in training.

People are praying for them to succeed. Their instructors are working with them to become the best they possibly can be, usually even better than they thought they could be. People are proud of them for making the choice to think beyond themselves, to see a bigger picture, to look beyond the right see the possibilities of a better life for themselves and for others.

No one considers boot camp a waste of time.

On the contrary, boot camp is essential to stepping out of the present and into the possible.

What does boot camp have to do with healing? Everything.

Because if you heal correctly...
...the way you see yourself changes.
...the way you think changes.
...the way you act changes.
...the conviction of purpose is born.

When you heal well, you no longer see yourself as a victim or as weak. You know longer see a screw up who always gets it wrong. You no longer define yourself by others attitudes, actions, and words.

Instead you realize...

You are strong.
You are essential.
You have the power to change how YOU act.
You choose to define yourself.
You define yourself according to the value God gave you and according to how HE sees you.
You choose how you respond to people and situations.
You set yourself free from the prison of the lies that have kept you chained to brokenness and allow yourself the freedom to investigate and enjoy being the masterpiece God made you to be.

You no longer see what was or has been.
You see what can be.
THAT is what healing does.

Healing allows you to step out of the present
into the possible.
Unfortunately, it usually takes more than 13 weeks, but when you reach the other side and realize how far you've come and you are so thrilled with this person you've become and so proud of the battles you've won...then you didn't waste your time all. You invested it in you.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Because Sometimes I Look in the Mirror...and See a Prostitute

Jennifer over at Getting Down with Jesus is one of the places I like to visit. She speaks to where I live, and honestly, it is nice to have the company.

I wanted to share one of her recent posts that spoke right to my heart on the day it came through. It was one of those days when the failures were numerous, the memories relentless, and the need to be found overwhelming. It was one of those days when I looked in the mirror...and saw a prostitute.

If you ever have one of those days, you need to read Jennifer's post about The Day a Kid Asked Me about "That Prostitute."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Time Well Spent--Part 2, What is Gained in Wasted Time

It was right before Christmas when it hit me.

2 1/2 years.

We had been hurting and healing for 2 1/2 years.

I pulled my covers tight and buried my head in my pillow.

2 1/2 wasted years.

How does one make peace with wasted time?

There is so much we could have done with 2 1/2 years, so much I could have taught the children instead of trying to keep them stable, so many things we could have seen, so many places we could have much we missed...

So much wasted time.

So much wasted life.

And what did we have to show for that time?

So many hard lessons learned. So much hard-won wisdom gained. So many life skills imparted. So much confidence in the ability to overcome. So much understanding of pain...what hurts...and those who hurt...and how to touch the pain gently. So much compassion. So much...

...ability to live well.

In the time we were trying to figure out simply how to survive, we were drowning in the grace of learning to live well.

It wasn't what I thought those years would look like or should look like. It certainly wasn't what I had wanted them to look like, but we came out being the people I want us to be.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Time Well Spent--Part 1, What Does It Look Like

Time from the moment we walked into the ER until my daughter was released after emergency surgery--24 hours.

I had plans for those 24 hours. It was the week before Thanksgiving, and I was going to bake pumpkin bread for neighbors, make pie to freeze for Thanksgiving dinner, clean the house, grocery shop, and other really important things. We all know what Thanksgiving is supposed to look like, and these things were necessary for that to happen, so these were very important things to get done. After all, what happens if we don't do life like it's supposed to be done, like others expect it to be done? What happens when others look at us and expect us to be doing Thanksgiving when we are just thankful healing?

I'll tell you what happens because I know what happens.

Life goes on.

The world does not end because there is no turkey on the table. The revolution around the sun continues whether there is cranberry sauce or not. Peanut butter sandwiches keep the orbit in groove as well as left over ham sandwiches do.

Life goes on.

What do people think? Frankly, most folks don't think about it at all. I feel very confident that well over 99% of the people on this planet never gave one thought to our Thanksgiving. We just aren't that important on a global scale. Of the people who did think about us, there were most likely three groups: the group who were glad all of us were home and healing on Thanksgiving, the group who thought about how to help us heal, and the group who thought about how our healing inconvenienced them.

The real issue--what really has any impact at all on me--is what I think.

I think the people who rejoiced that my daughter was healing are a gift.
I think the people who asked how to help the healing did more for us in the grocery runs, dinner drop-offs, and transportation than they can know.
I think the people who find us inconvenient spend enough time thinking about themselves and their lives that they are covered and I need not expend my energy--mental or emotional--on them.

I think healing is time well spent.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Hard Nights

It's about 10:30 when I crawl into bed...trying to get comfortable in my skin...and I lie there staring into the mostly dark with the lightning playing its flashy game of peekaboo through the window.

And I stare.

And tap fingers on my stomach.

And roll eyes to look at the glowing numbers on my bedside clock.

Minutes. I've passed minutes.


These are the hard nights.

It isn't the night after a long day with the kids or a mentally exhausting day with house repairs or a day spent on the phone navigating my way through computerized voices only to be told computers are down, can I call back later.

Those are the nights when I crawl into bed happy the day is over, happy to have a reprieve, happy for the quiet. Those are the nights my eyes are almost closed before my head hits the pillow. Those are the easy nights.

Tonight my mind is full.

It is full of manuscript progress and things I learned in my research. It is full of another saving grace from the world-reboot no longer needed...and released...and the excitement of the next adventure. It is full of the things that kept a smile on my face throughout the day...that keeps a smile on my face now.

My mind is full...and my bed is empty.

And it is hard.

Because there is no one to tell about upper recievers and lower receivers and glass bedded anything. There is no one who cares that I FINALLY figured out that plot snag I have been trying to untangle for a week. No one is there to give testament to my stepping from one season to another. No one to smile with me or laugh or roll his eyes at a bad joke.

Those are hard nights...the full-heart crying empty nights...

...Not because I have no one to share my bed...but because I have no one to share my life.

And that is hard.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tell Them...YES!!!

This morning I am sitting in my recliner with a blanket tucked around me, fluids on the table beside me, and meds coursing through me. You know the point when you feel so lousy you are hoping it is a virus that is nearly done running its course because you cannot fathom actually making yourself find the energy to go to the doctor to get meds to feel better? I'm there.

One thing I've learned about God is He uses sickness to still me so I can listen without distraction. I am not feeling obligated to clean house or do dishes or run to the grocery store or have a phone conversation. Sickness is my "free excuse" for being still.

And don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those sappy folks who have the grace to be still and be thankful for the right to suffer for Him and all that. Oh, no. I do not do the martyr thing well. I do not go down without a fight, and I whine horribly at my body's vulnerablities and weaknesses. Really. I am an unlovely patient.

BUT, God is good and faithful, and when I'm done fighting and whining and finally say, "Okay, I'm here. I'm glad you are here, too. What do you want to talk about?", He usually takes me into some really good deep stuff. When it is over, my soul feels full, and I feel recharged throughout my whole being.

This morning I was telling Him how I missed writing the blog, but I really don't have anything profound to say, and I don't want to take up your time and space with fluff.

I heard His sweet whisper, "Ask Me what I want to tell them."

I smiled. "What do you want to tell them?"

"TELL THEM I LOVE THEM!" He boomed excitedly.

"Tell them I love when they come to me. I love time with them. I love hearing the excitement of their lives, and I love when they let me tell them about my excitement. Tell them I love them...high...and long...and wide...and deep...

and if they are wondering if they are still welcome here, the answer is YES!!!"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

God's Rushing Heart

Under the weather with this sinus gunk that seems to desire a long term relationship despite my best breakup efforts. While I recuperate....

Heart deep wisdom from WonderBoy's rushing heart....

"You know you feel God rush around in your heart when you see that there are little $1.00-$4.00 trinkets, 90% off, and you can imagine little kids, smiling, laughing, and playing with them."

Is your heart rushing?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Better Answer--Part 12, The Power of Knowing When It is Beyond You

In this series, I've spent a lot of time talking about the importance of being there, listening, standing strong, being patient, walking through the hard places even when there was nothing you could do to make them better. I've tried to offer ways to be part of the healing by believing in the process and trusting time and God will heal things.

However, sometimes things go wrong. Healing doesn't progress. Faith craters. And the mind and spirit become too exhausted to fight on.

Sometimes a person cannot see through or past the pain to the other side

Sometimes a person simply wants out.

Sometimes suicide because a very strong possibility.

I wish I had an absolute "look for these signs" list to offer, but I don't. A few things I've seen among people who have walked this precipice specifically after someone's death include:
--wishing they were with that person
--talking about how empty this life is
--expressing a lack of hope or reason to continue
--telling people goodbye, creating closure with the living
--"shrinking their lives" by not engaging in relationships or social outings

The problem with these warning signs, in my opinion, is they are also natural responses or comments to make while going through the grief process. It can be really hard to know what is going on inside someone's brain.

So I ask.

I have asked more than one friend, "Are you considering suicide or hurting yourself?"

For most, it seems knowing someone is observing that closely and cares that much is enough to encourage them to stay in the game. However, getting through rough patches can take some time. Don't be afraid to ask more than once.

I have one friend I asked on a pretty regular basis for a time, "Are you suicidal? Is it even crossing your mind? How can I help you get through right now?"

Sometimes I won't even bring up the word suicide. Sometimes I'll ask, "On a scale of 1-10, what kind of hell is today?"

Some people might find that wording offensive, but if you are in that mess, it is like breathing for someone to recognize how hard it is. Whatever they tell me, I ask, "How can I help? What do you need me to say or do to help through right now?"

The truth is, I am powerless about tomorrow or the next day or next week, but RIGHT NOW, I'm here, and I can be a presence right now.

Sometimes, though, my presence doesn't help. Sometimes it is honestly beyond me.

In those situations, I've called in reinforcements. I've called in friends, church members, pastors, and police. I've sent the police to someone's house to bang on the door and check their mental/emotional state. I've invaded Facebook friend lists to find someone close enough to the person that he could go by the person's house. When I think someone might truly be suicidal, nothing is sacred. I will invade whatever I have to invade to give that person time to think clearly.

If you really believe someone is suicidal, the situation is bigger than you. You need to call in someone else who can help. You can find counseling. You can call the police. You can go to the church. You can do an intervention with several people, hopefully jar the person into realizing their is still love here for them to live in if they will fight through the pain. Sometimes they really need to see that they are not alone in the pain.

Asking doesn't have to be a big drama either. A simple way of asking is:
"I know you've really been struggling, and I know you've gone through some hard stuff. I know you are sad, and I've noticed some things that concern me. I'm wondering, are you considering hurting yourself or maybe even considering suicide?"

Or skip the roses and get to the point. "I care about you, and I'm concerned. Are you considering suicide?"

And I know. Everybody is afraid they'll offend the person or make them mad. I have never lost a friend because I've asked them if they were suicidal, but if I did, I think I could live with that a lot easier than living with losing a friend because I didn't ask.

If they say they are not, still watch them closely. If they say they are, it is time to encourage them to go to counseling or call a suicide hotline for more help.
The national suicide hotline is 1-800-SUICIDE

or you can call your police or hospital for more information.

Grief is such an odd thing with such extreme emotions with the highs and lows that go with them. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if what you are seeing is a normal part of the process or a person slipping out of control. If you have the slightest concern it might be the latter, ask. Invade. Call in reinforcements. Call whoever you have to.

Sometimes the only way to help is realizing you can't...but finding the person who can.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Better Answer--What I Wanted

This series began with a question from someone who read my post Battle-made Courage.

She asked:

"In your latest post you mentioned your friends who responded to your emails in a somewhat harsh or maybe an unsympathetic way.  I'm curious and also want to be sensitive in these situations and would like to ask what would have been a better response for you at that time?"

I've offered pages of thoughts and suggestions, and hopefully, in them, people have found understanding of grief and equipping for addressing the pain and needs of those who grieve.
However, this writer asked specifically, "What would have been a better response for you at that time?"
To help you understand the answer, let me give you an insight into what precipitated the text.
I had gone through 7 1/2 months of mind-jarring losses. During those months, I spent countless sleepless hours with children who were grieving and could not sleep. I dealt with a mom who needed to be told daily what the doctor had said about the cancer, and each time I told her, it was the first time she had heard she was terminal...and she sobbed and grieved...every...single...time. My family was in denial. Then my stepdad blamed me for killing my mom when she died and decided to punish me in a variety of mental and financial ways. I cannot even put the whole separation and divorce thing into words, and there were people I had called my closest friends...who decided they weren't.

The week prior to that text I had finished my emergency response training, and every night I closed my eyes and saw my husband die in my arms...over and over and over again. Multiple times a night I was the one who pulled him out of his car and pushed air into his lungs through his blue lips.  I was the one who pounded his chest with compressions trying to get his heart to restart. And every single time...he died...with his head in my lap...anyway.

Throughout those months, I had tried to be brave and courageous. I had tried to be the kind of person my Marine friend would be proud to go into battle with. But that day, there was no bravery. There was no courage, and I had been battled beyond my ability to battle anymore.

And these "friends" demanded more. They made it clear what I had given was not good enough. That I wasn't strong enough. That I was a disappointment.

I deleted them from my phone list, Facebook connections, and email. I was already buckling under the weight of what I had. I could not carry their expectations, too, so I deleted them.

I tell you all that so you have a glimpse of the weight of grief and the responsibility of rebuilding lives when there is a giant gaping hole, or in our case, multiple gaping holes.

What I was really trying to communicate with the text, "I don't want to get out of bed," is how utterly exhausted I was on every level. Mentally, emotionally, and physically I was beyond fumes. Sheer will only goes so far, and mine was gone.
What did I want the response to be?

I wish someone had taken a moment to take care of me.

I wish someone had shown up at my door and said, "I'm here. Let me clean your house. Let me take the kids. Let me fix you meals. Let me...let me take care of you."

I wish someone had shown up with coffee or shown up to take me to coffee.

I wish someone had brought a stupid movie, made margaritas, and laughed hard for a few hours. Any clue how good it would have felt to simply laugh?

I wish someone had just brought sweet tea and a box of kleenex, sat on the deck with me, and said, "Tell me everything. This isn't normal for you. Tell me everything." And when I was done, she would have hugged me and whispered in my ear, "I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry," while I just sobbed.

I wish, for one day, someone would have given me a day where no one needed me to have an answer, no one needed me to be strong, no one needed me to take a deep breath and do the hard thing anyway.

I wish, for one day, someone would have been my answer and would have been strong for me.

I wish someone would have taken a moment to realize even the strongest warrior grows weary. If the battle rages long enough, even the most courageous can reach a point of simply wanting to quit. The cuts and the blows and trying to figure out a way through the battlefield only to be assaulted even more brutally than before takes its toll. At some point every warrior needs to step off the field or into a foxhole and find some rest while someone covers her.

I wish someone had been willing to cover me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Better Answer--Part 11, The Power of Patience

She was probably already on her way to the coffee shop. I should have left five minutes earlier. Instead, I punched in a text.

"I am sorry. I can't have coffee tonight."

I could barely read the letters on the phone screen through the tears as I touched "Send".

In one bedroom my daughter was screaming about her dad's selfishness and venting the pain and anger of a teenager whose dad had left...and then had the audacity to die.

In another bedroom my son hid behind his door and cried.

And I sat in my bedroom floor with hot tears slipping down my face because yet again grief had won and my plans for anything that resembled a normal life collapsed in front of me.

My phone screen lit up. I opened her message.

"It's fine. Another time. Hope y'all are okay."

No! It was NOT fine. We were NOT okay.

This was crazy. This was...prison. And I had no way out. All I could do was sit and wait for the raging to ease, wipe their tears, and help the kids process their feelings and thoughts, and this for now.

I have no idea how many times I cancelled plans because grief slammed hearts hard or life-holes ached badly. I have no idea how many phone calls I ignored because sometimes there are no words...or energy. Sometimes the battle through the pain is simply so exhausting conversation is impossible.

Many times I wondered if we would ever make plans...and keep them.

I was sure people were writing our names in pencil with big question marks...with backup plans in place in case we backed out...because we mostly likely would.

Every time I had to cancel, my heart broke. I wanted anything that looked like normal, and every time I had to cancel something from what used to be normal only reminded me how un-normal we really were...and how we still had so far to go.

Sometimes I just told people I wasn't able to do something because it was less risky than having to cancel and deal with the mental and emotional backlash.

One of the most appreciated gifts my friends gave me during that was patience. No one ever complained about my having to cancel. No one ever mentioned the effects on them or their families. No one ever told me what an inconvenience it was. No one ever even attempted to joke about it. Everyone was kind, compassionate, and patient.

I think it would have been crushing for them to tell me I had let them down in anyway. But they never did.

They simply said, "It's okay."

And even though my heart was screaming it wasn't okay at all, it was also whispering gratitude for the kindness of patience from people we love because their patience told us how much they love us.