Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Feet up, a glowing moon out the back window, and the scents of Thanksgiving drifting from the kitchen.

Oh, what a grateful heart I have tonight.

Tomorrow will begin the first of many meals and house hopping this weekend.  While it will be wonderful seeing family, I can already feel the exhaustion that comes.  For now, I'm reflecting on the special moments of the day.

Life is all about which side you want to focus on...the good or the bad.

Today was filled with a mix of Busy and Bliss.  Anger and Joy.  Tired and Rested.  Frazzled and Humbled.

Our morning began tense, as Noah woke up more than a little grumpy.  He is so not a morning person, even though I let him sleep in until nearly 10:00.  An unexplained scowl appeared across his face and his answers were short and tight.

I tried asking him what was wrong but "Nothing" is all I received.  My shoulders stiffened and tears brimmed.  It would've been so easy to lash back, as his attitude was undeserved.  Instead, while slowly inhaling, I mentally forced myself to relax, pause, and hit reset.

Though I'd planned it for our last stop, I decided a trip to the food pantry was needed.  They were having a lunch fundraiser and filling our bellies before running errands seemed like a good plan.  As I prayed for our meal, the heavy emotions seemed to dissipate.  It's difficult to stay angry when you think about the families who will line up later tonight in need of food.

By the time our BBQ was gone, my boy's sparkle had returned.  We ran into the store, which I dreaded the day before a big holiday, to grab a few forgotten ingredients for new recipes we're trying.  I made it a point to smile at everyone I saw, because I know the my-feet-are-tired-and-I-still-have-so-much-to-do face.  Instead of it being a chore, the trip was pleasant and Noah and I shared lots of laughs.

Leaving the store, a lady on a mobile cart was stuck in the road.  Without hesitation, Noah curved toward her and bent down gently, "Can I help you ma'am."

Be still my momma-heart.  This boy.

He can put on a tough act but he is such a gentle giant.  When I see him willingly care for someone in need, just because, it is all I can do but squish kiss him right in the moment.

I contained myself and didn't gush over him but instead tucked it away.  My plan was to tell him later how proud I was.  However, it wasn't five minutes later he was amazing me again.

As we left the parking lot, my eye caught a man sitting on the curb, cardboard sign sharing his soul.  Noah rubbernecked as I drove past.

"Mom, he was sitting on a gas can.  He needs help."

God was already tugging at me so it took no effort to turn around.  And I barely pulled into park before he was out of the car, shaking the man's hand, sharing that beautiful smile, the love of Jesus pouring off of him.  With his own money, he filled the man's can and listened to his story.

Only 15 but such a servant's heart.

May I cling to those little nuggets in the days ahead. Thanksgiving is bittersweet for our family, as while we are thankful to be together, we're ever-mindful of the one who left us seven years ago this very weekend.

What a blessing it has been - and is - to have two sons with such sweet and giving spirits.

One who is smiling down on us and one who continues to fill me with joy each and every day.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The D-word

I hate depression.  

I've watched it cloud, choke, and transform people into shells of the person they once were.  It isn't just an emotion or shifting of mood but for many, a disease that invades and destroys.

When someone you love has depression, you feel trapped on the other side of the mirror.  You can see them but not reach them.  Touch them but not bring them over.  And some days it seems they get deeper inside.  Another layer away.

Unlike a terminal diagnosis, there is little understanding or empathy for someone battling depression. Most people assume you can just "shake it off" and look on the bright side.  Yet for those trapped within the clutches, there is no bright side to see.

I've been depressed and have endured great darkness in losing my son, but I can't say I've suffered from chronic depression.  For that I am grateful because I know the pain of depression, and how it hurts both the one suffering and those that love them.

There is a difference in grief and depression, though often they go hand in hand.  Grief just adds to the weight of the already sinking.  Like throwing bowling balls to someone drowning.

Then you add the holidays, which for many are a time of rejoicing, but for others are impossible expectations.  And of course, the changing of seasons, where sunshine is harder to find and days turn frigid, gloomy and cold.  It is no surprise why the most wonderful time of the year is also the most difficult for the depressed.

Tim and I handled the grief of losing Austin in very different ways and it taught me, firsthand, how unique grieving is.  Though he was never diagnosed, there were periods I would say that Tim fought depression.  The weight was tangible, as if he carried a heavy coat on his body that wouldn't come off.  It wasn't just triggers, anniversaries, or memories that resulted in his sadness but a heaviness that clung to him.

And I prayed fervently for it to be released from him. It's with extreme gratitude to God that I see a change, knowing the weights have been lifted.  Of course, we will both always carry sadness in the loss of our son, but the clouds of depression are no longer in view.

This is one of the most difficult posts I've written because I find myself tiptoeing around what I want to say and worrying someone will take it the wrong way.  And also because even though this was my experience, it doesn't mean it to be so for everyone.

But I know that the only reason I have survived the loss of my son is because of God.  He gave me strength when I didn't have it.  Helped me find hope where there was none.  Gave peace in moments that surpassed understanding.  And brought joy back into my life.

When you fill your empty spaces with light, there is less room for darkness.

The closer I've seen my husband grow in his relationship with God, the more I've seen the darkness fade.  I know Satan uses whatever tools he can to hurt us and pull us away from God.  He hisses in our ears and clouds our thinking.  He hides the silver lining of every day.  He revels in depression because where it is, joy cannot enter.

If you're facing depression, there are so many options for help for you.  You are worthy of help.
You matter!

Seek support.  Exercise.  Eat well.  See your doctor.  Take care of yourself!  
Pray.  God will walk this journey with you - and carry you when you can't walk.
Practice the power of positive thinking.  Light cancels dark!  One day, one step at a time.

Reach out if you need help.  You are never alone in this.  Someone cares for you.
1-800-273-TALK is just one of many resources available.

Know I am praying for you.  If you need specific prayer, comment below or message me.

My prayer for all is that you'll find the hope, peace, and joy that can only come from One source, this season, and always.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Grateful & Kind

Maybe it is because I'm getting older but time seems be passing so quickly lately.  I can sit and almost watch it slip away.  And no matter how much you will it to slow, there is no stopping the ticking of the clock or ending of another day.

It's already the middle of November.  

The busyness of the holidays will be among us and, before you know it, another year gone.  

Pausing to be thankful is how I spend this month.  Not just on Thanksgiving but every day of the month.  I started practicing this the year after losing my son.  It was impossible to imagine the holidays without him so this exercise helped me focus on the good that still remained.  I've continued doing it because truly it's how I try to live every single day.

Gratitude = Joy.  This I have learned.

This November has me standing on my head at times searching for joy.  In what is the most difficult of months for us, we've endured some extra heartache.  Watching those you love suffering is one of the deepest pains, especially when there's nothing you can do to fix it.

In the midst of it, I'm aware that Satan would love nothing more than for this girl to stop.  Cease sharing.  To end the finding of joy.  But that just makes me want to do it more.

Since I was a child, if you told me I couldn't achieve something, it just fueled me to prove you wrong.  Of course, in this case, I know there's a bigger power on my side.  And through Him, I can do all things...most especially find JOY!

Yesterday I hear it was World Kindness Day and then I see devastating news for Paris.  In a much bigger scale, it magnifies that sometimes there is nothing you can do in the chaos and pain, except keep moving forward.  PRAY.

And not stop.

Our annual RAK project is approaching.  I prefer focusing on the day of my son's death with a positive, because how else can you celebrate such an anniversary.  Instead of dwelling on something we can't change, we remember our son and the way he lived his life - helping others.  Doing random acts of kindness is a small way to keep his sweet spirit with us on the day we miss him most.

Sunday, November 29, if you'd like to join us.  Although I encourage you to do a RAK whenever it feels right, whether in November, December - or even July!

Here are some of my favorite RAK moments from the past, if you'd like to read...

Last year was the first year we received messages after our reverse shopping spree.  
Six years may have passed but I was having an especially rough weekend remembering.
These came at just the needed moments.  Hugs from above...

If you do a RAK in memory of Austin, we love hearing about them.  
Just add to the comments below.

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