I won't pretend to excuse this shortcoming of my mom role to the rest of the kiddos that are present and able to pose for the annual family picture... yet I will be real in saying that I stopped sending out Christmas cards. It may not be a big deal to you, but it is something I have purposefully avoided for the past three years.
You see, it made me super happy to have all these creatures God has placed in my life, pose annually in the summer for our upcoming bulk joy send out!
Kennedy has not been with us the last several summers. I have taken lots of individual pictues of the four kids that have been with us. They are slowly noticing that I just can't seem to take a family picture wihout the entire family.
Is anyone else with me on this? I know, I know. I SHOULD take a picture of the six of us, put a stamp on it, address beautiful, sparkly Chirstmas greetings , but in my heart, we aren't whole unless it's the seven of us.
Don't get me wrong, the six of us still stand strong, we are still a family, we are all super worthy of showing our smiles and sending our greetings. They might not understand why I can't; why I won't.
You see, to me, the absence in my action of sending out the cards equals HOPE. To me, sending out the six of us shows defeat, hopelessness. To me it feeels as if I am saying I've forgotten her.
To Ellie, William, Lucas and Owen... will you ever know how important you are? Will you always know I am forever fighting and praying for you just as hard as I am for your sister? Will you remember that when things look different, I am doing the very best that I can? Will you keep praying, keep forgiving, keep laughing, keep remembering in your heart the party of seven that we created seven years ago? You matter, She matters. Family pictures and greeting cards matter. There will be a time when I make all of you hold our hands, fuss a little, grumble a litle more and take shot after shot assuring that I've captured just the right moment... but until then, know I love you. I will see your journeys, I will post your lifes, I will celebrate with you your highs and lows and I will give you my very best.
For Kennedy, come back to us.
For those of you in a similar boat, we are doing the best we can. I hear ya. Celebrate the wonders around you and continue to have Hope for those that aren't.
My goodness, these past two months have been harder than I had anticipated. As far as I remember though, I wasn't given the option of whether or not I could handle it. My God, my friends, my faith, my Bible, my time in worship, my HOPE, has brought me this far.
For some of you, you know just what this feels like. I am here, still strong, still kicking, still offering my love and fellowship with you, my strong, amazing, wounded yet risen up women. Just because I may blog a little here and there as a therapeutic necessity for myself, I am still fighting for YOU, for YOUR journey. This past month of the 21 day mini coaching speed path has been fun, rewarding and refreshing to work with so many of you all at once. Thank you for the opportunity.
Packing up my college bound daughter and missing her light around here was something I knew was coming. I thought I had prepared. Our life is different now without her but seeing her thrive, watching her from afar and missing her is a bittersweet chapter.
Falling into a bit of a dark spot again after nearly 6 years scared me for a while until I realized I had plenty of tools, coping skills, faith and friends to get me through. Raising three step boys without my girls in the house and with a husband who works six and a half days a week while their birth mom chose to move out of state seven years ago leaves me primarily responsible for every waking moment of these little dudes. I do my best, and I try super hard not to judge choices. Everyone does what they need to do.
For the past few months, my friend and I led a parent support group for parents of addicted loved ones. It was hard, I am not going to lie. We taught them about not enabling, boundaries, hope, etc. One of our members lost her son during our time together. I couldn't go back. We stopped the class. It was too real. I felt like a failure and at fault. I thought it was my calling. I wasn't strong enough. And that's okay. It has to be.
My 20 year old daughter is in jail. I still pack lunches for boys, send care packages to college, schedule and attend appointments, play dates, sports events, try to build a business, attend fitness classes and try to stay on top of my mood, my body, my nutrition and my soul simply because somehow life had to go on. BUT.. my daughter is in jail.
I write her letters. She won't allow me to visit. I let my mind wander sometimes to places it shouldn't and I tremble.
Tomorrow, somehow, even though I "can't", I must and I will attend a hearing while I watch her walk in a jumpsuit and handcuffs barely recognizable to this mamma's eyes. How on earth will I? I will TRUST. I will look up. I will ground myself with the power of my God to get me through.
Drugs have taken my child and she's been in "jail" far longer than the past 13 days. This is the letter I wrote to her.
My dear girl,
I just wanted to write to you to let you know I love you and miss you so much. I hope you understand why we decided not to bail you out. It is out of hope, and love for you. I pray constantly for you, my child, and I know you must be alone and fearful and I want to remind you to spend this time finding Jesus. You know how he saved me. Look for the angels, the helpers, the hope. Look up my child and know that he is with you. There is not a moment I am not thinking of you and praying for you. Call on him sweet girl. I love you. Mom
Don't ever assume strength comes easily to any of us. What choice did we have? Through tears and anger, sadness and pain, we find our way. Never stop. Keep breathing. We've got this.
As my reader, you know that the majority of my blogs are based on my personal and current life experiences, while also integrating to you...readers, clients, followers, friends and family, a tip or two along the way. For me, writing is often how I breathe. Most of my clients know that I tend to encourage writing of some sort as part of their weekly actions steps. When life gets super fast, emotional, calm.... whatever the situation, I find writing allows me to stop, reflect, connect and yes.. breathe a little deeper. Journey with me through this one and at the end, realize I am letting you know that you are simply not alone.
"Packing up Barbie" has been sitting on my heart for a few days. I've ignored her, forgotten her, tried to deny her.. but alas, I've decided to face her head on and let the writing commence.
I've been holding out hope for lots of years that my daughters would reunite. Yes, I was the mom that had lots and lots of Barbies. (I was also the mom that had the simple conversation that Barbie bodies were just pretend and not a standard but despite all of the body image stuff , a good old make believe day of playing with and designing clothes and forts and homes for Barbies is just a right of passage in my opinion and was, in our lives, quite harmless). My daughters, now 18 and 20, used to play with these, constantly. Their sisterhood and creative imaginations were happily intact and free. I want those moments back. I get growing up. I get moving on. I get drifting a part a little, and those are things I feel like I could've adjusted and adapted too. What I didn't expect, what I didn't count on, was addiction tearing these girls apart.
Just like one didn't choose to be addict, one didn't choose to "lose" her sister. I carried around with me the hope that they would reunite. I carried around with me faith that the time would come before my youngest leaves the state and moves to college ( in four days) that they would be happy again. I didn't realize when my oldest daughter started her battle at 13, that her Barbie days were forever over. I remember, like a life altering accident, the moment her life, their innocent sisterhood, our lives, changed. I remember the call in the middle of the night. I remember her self-hatred that started the next day, and I remember wishing the drug had never entered her body for the first time, realizing she was the one in our family whom addiction didn't pass up.
Anger, sadness, misunderstanding, hurt, pain, loss, addiction, treatment centers, homelessness, tears. All of these things kept my two most treasured life gifts apart.
Satan is the thief. When we catch him, he will be required to restore seven times as much as what he stole from us.
Three years ago, (four years into her addiction), I threw my Bible and my wooden cross that I slept with as far as I could toss them. I had a choice to make: I was going to believe in God and have faith NO MATTER WHAT, or I was going to let my anger and my sadness tear me further away from the only thing I knew could bring me hope. I chose to believe.
You see, I may have packed the Barbies for now, realizing that my window has closed. You need also to see that I believe I will get those same Barbies back out for the day my daughters reunite, perhaps with their own daughters, and they will play together again. Their relationship will be restored. What has been stolen will be gained back.
What I would give for the days we spent, just the three of us, watching old movies, eating popcorn with melted chocolate chips staining every shirt they spilled on, laughing with one another as we fell asleep in one big bed. Some would say I created an addict by babying her. Some would say my coddling her with songs, stories and lullabies at night, crippled her into not growing up. I disagree, I raised them the same. I didn't create nor cause her addiction. I loved and raised them the best way I knew how. I am thankful beyond measure for having those moments.
I knew packing my youngest for college would hurt. I knew I'd be thrilled for her new journey. I didn't know I would be saying goodbye to a dream of two beautiful sisters spending a beautiful moment together before their lives went different ways. I didn't know.
Thanks for reading. I hope your take away is this.... no matter what life has thrown your way, no matter where life went the "wrong" way, hold on to a hope bigger than your dreams. Hold on tight. For we may not know when restoration and redemption comes, but we do know to look around, to look up, to reach out to those around us offering shoulders, ears, compassion, time and love when we struggle. And that to me is a gentle reminder of God's love.
Dream on. Hold on. Be free.. until the miracle comes.
Good and Bad. Sadness and Joy. Hope and Despair. Darkness and Light. Do you often feel these at the same time? If so, which one has the biggest hold over you? For me, the answer lies in which day you happen to ask me. I want to say that I always live on the positive side of those choices each time, but I can't, because this is not yet eternity, and I am not yet whole.
Although my clients are women, this image spoke to me. Here he is, clearly strong with his towel ready to wipe the sweat and possible tears away during whatever he has set out to do. He stopped, right in the middle of the tracks. Full surrender. Head bowed. Ready to throw the towel he is clinging on to.
I believe He's saying, "How long oh, Lord, how long?" I also believe he spends time mourning, asking, praying, seeking, crying, and then he musters the strength to get up, walk away, and focus on the light.
You see my friends, life is not often all good or all bad. Most days it's a mixture of things we would rather see come to an end, and things we are so very thankful for.
A friend of mine just lost his beautiful daughter, and his son and wife still need him. Darkness and Light.
A mom I know has an adult child with Cancer, and another one having her first child. Sadness and Joy.
I have a daughter with two severe illnesses and she's not seeking help, and I also have a daughter starting her life in college with great and joyful anticipation. Despair and Hope.
I have a friend with a son who is starting a new school and is overjoyed, and a son with chronic pain. Good and Bad.
I can sit here or I can sit in front of my clients and I can tell them that God is Real. That Faith is believing in what you can't see. I can read passage and scripture from Ephesians, Psalms and Romans. I can't, however, tell you how to keep on trusting and believing and praying despite the sadness. I can't tell you to only focus on the good. I want to, but I wouldn't be real.
I can tell you that one day we will all understand. I can tell you that there is goodness, every single day when we ask God to remind us. I can tell you that God wants to hear from you, on the tracks, off the tracks, on your knees, lying in bed, head bowed or fists raised. He has not left us. He has not left you.
Look around for the helpers in your darkness (Mr. Rogers) and provide light to others when you can. I want you to keep going. I want you to breathe in enough to let the goodness in, in whatever package that's being delivered in.
He has indeed not forsaken us. He is indeed still here. I am also here, for you. Be FREE.