The Year They Call “2020”

Over the past few many months I have written, rewritten, erased, started, stopped, and ultimately given up on quite a few blog posts.

It seems 2020 has cornered yet another victim in “speechlessness.”

I’m still not really able to put into words everything that I’m thinking and feeling and sorting through.

But today, being the anniversary of a diagnosis that completely upended our last year, I just wanted to acknowledge that.

That I don’t have the right words – any words, really.

Although I am going to babble on anyway…

See, it seems on top of the whole global pandemic that the hits just keep on coming.

As we approach the two year anniversary of losing my mom the hole there seems just as large as it ever was.

In July we said goodbye to my grandfather, which has left another large hole in the fabric of our family.

And as I process the last year with the Smurflet, regarding his Epilepsy diagnosis last Halloween, and all that has come because of that,

Man.

I just don’t know how to say it all.

I guess I could say that it’s been hard but nowhere to go but up!

Or I suppose I could go the pity-party route and ask why me? Why us? When does it stop!

Or maybe I should do some combo of the two.

But I think what I really want to say is that it’s hard.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have found that it’s hard to walk down roads that one, you desperately don’t want to walk, and two, are both mentally and physically painful to endure.

I find it’s hard to have your world upended over and over and over again, until you feel like you’ll never catch your breath.

It’s hard when the world around you is telling you that you are doing it all wrong, when you’re just trying to keep some piece of it all even a little bit afloat.

It’s hard to balance the weight of it all.

And embarrassingly, it’s often hard (again, speaking for myself) to run back to the Gospel.

It’s hard to say that this is all good.

Not that what’s happening is good, it certainly is not, but that God is good.

So it is ultimately good.

Or will be good, one day, when we reach the glory of Heaven.

If I had to pick a word for the end of 2019 through this point in 2020 it would be: hard.

It’s a simple word, I know, and probably doesn’t pack much of a punch, but it just seems to sum everything up.

It is hard.

And I don’t have any words of wisdom for moving forward or clever quips about how it’s all going to be ok.

But what I do have are those surrounding us (from an appropriate social distance of six feet away) with the love of Jesus.

I have the continual reroute from brothers and sisters in Christ to get myself refocused on the end goal, rather than remaining focused on the here and now.

And I have my Savior.

Not that it makes it any less hard right now.

It doesn’t.

But a cure for the pandemic, healing of seizures, those things may never happen.

We certainly don’t live in a world where my mother or grandfather are going to suddenly come back.

But I have this.

Psalm 13:6: I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been GOOD to me.

I was given this verse a while ago by a dear friend and mentor.

Her admonishment to me, as I curled up under the weight of every crushing thing, was simply “Christ.”

Just Christ.

I was reminded that no matter what, even were I to lose every single thing I call good, I would still have Christ.

In today’s world it would seem that doesn’t come as much of an encouraging word.

We want the hard to go away.

We want to say that it’ll all work out in the end!

But sometimes,

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes they lose the battle with cancer.

Sometimes the diagnosis goes from pediatric epilepsy that they will grow out of to suddenly exploring the possibility of future brain surgery because nothing else seems to be working.

Sometimes there is a global pandemic with no end yet in sight.

Sometimes the hard just gets, well,

Harder.

So I remain thankful for the faithfulness of those around me as they remind me that ease and peace and smooth sailing is not the way of this world.

But rather, the hard, the exhausting, the painful, and yes, even the global pandemics, are to point us to Christ.

And were I to lose all I call good,

I would still have Him.

5 Ways to Successfully Survive Quarantine (According to a 4.5 Year Old)

1)
Bake all the things. Start each day off by begging your mom to please please please let you bake something. Anything will do: cookies, muffins, donuts, etc. When she finally caves, the important piece here is to finish the fun part and leave immediately. Then tell your mom to let you know just as soon as the food is ready so you can come back and eat it. Also, she definitely doesn’t need help with dishes.

donuts

2)
Do all the crafts. This should follow a similar pattern as outlined above. Make sure she gets everything out and prepped and ready to go, then decide you’d rather do something else. But ask mom to finish it for you. Obviously it’s important to finish what you’ve started.

craft

3)
Ask all the questions. Carve out some time in the day to rapid fire some “why” questions. But avoid simple ones like “why is the sky blue” or “where do babies come from.” Stick with important questions like “why did this bad sickness start?” “Who started it?” “Why won’t it go away?” You must continue your education, after all.

4)
Wear all the clothes. Being trapped at home indefinitely requires no less than 27 outfit changes per day. And remember, if it so much as touches your body, it’s dirty. Now you’re also creating more laundry without even leaving the house. Success!

5)
Finally, after all that, mom may need a break. She does seem a little tired these days (though you haven’t any idea why). It’s probably best to take over little sibling duty for a bit to give her a chance to recharge just a little.

sibling takeover

Then rinse and repeat.

Forever.

E is for…

I have never much cared for Halloween. Probably because one: my mom never put much stock in it, and two: because when my family was living down south many years ago we used to do cool things like go to the Discovery Place for Halloween. After moving up north to the middle of nowhere just dressing up and collecting candy, which could simply be bought in large bags at the store, (and not handled by total strangers) seemed like a letdown.

I know, I’m sure I’ll hear about it from a few people. But it’s the truth.

Why do I bring this up? In March of all times?

Well the biggest point is that many a year has gone by when I’ve actually forgotten that it was Halloween.

In fact, the past few places I have lived also came with no trick-or-treaters, so it was even easier to overlook the day.

But now, as of Halloween 2019, that date is permanently seared into my mind.

Not because I’ve suddenly developed an affinity for dressing up in strange attire or asking people I have never met for candy, but rather, it was another notch in the “let’s rock your entire world” belt that my family has worn for the past few years.

Halloween 2019, for us, was spent in the hospital, ending the day with a vague but definitive diagnosis of Epilepsy for the Smurflet.

We had no idea just how tough this diagnosis was going to become.

And on top of that, with all my family has walked though in recent years, nothing,

I repeat nothing,

Prepared me for having to walk with my child through something like this.

That small tiny creature that you have been tasked with protecting.

Then suddenly, despite all your best efforts, it all seems to unravel around you with the future ahead looking very, very long.

And overwhelming.

Since the initial diagnosis we have had many tests and medicine changes and doctors appointments and I never knew you could spend so. much. time. on the phone and still get

nowhere.

As of this post our little Smurflet is still battling largely still uncontrolled, daily seizures.

I will say that the bright spot in his diagnosis is that he technically has “Partial Epilepsy,” which means his seizures don’t affect his whole brain, so they aren’t as heart-stopping as say a Grand Mal seizure. They are, however, still seizures. That can happen up to 20/30 times in an hour.

They can knock him right off his feet, out of a chair, etc.

Despite a myriad of medications, we are still fighting to gain control.

Despite a myriad of tests, we are still looking for a root cause.

(In all transparency, we may never find an answer to that second one)

And I’ll be honest, I’m tired.

It wasn’t that long ago we lost my mom.

Truthfully, I am largely still working through a lot of that. And now, it feels like “here we go again.”

Here is another unknown that’s overwhelming and scary and we have no idea what tomorrow will look like, let alone two or four or ten years from now.

Of course, a necessary asterisk here to say that I fully understand our journey doesn’t hold a candle to many others. We’re mere months into this, and I know many other families have walked through fire (if you) will for many years. I definitely don’t want to take away from their journeys.

I just want to say that it’s hard. Watching your kids walk a difficult path while knowing you can’t do a whole lot to really help them hurts your heart like nothing else.

It’s easily the thing that’s brought me to my knees more than anything.

It’s humbling and terrifying and so many other words I can’t think of right now.

And I don’t wish it on anyone.

And although I admit it’s hard and I need constant reminders, I have to keep bringing myself back to the cross where I know my hope ultimately lives.

Because even my precious kids aren’t promised an easy life in this broken world.

So while I pray for healing in a physical sense, I’m driven also to pray that the Lord uses this to bring both my kiddos to Him.

As I watch my little Smurflet somehow turn two years old today, I am thankful for a big God, for the Smurflet’s strong little boy spirit, and for a world of modern medicine where even scary and relatively unknown diagnoses like Epilepsy aren’t a death sentence.

But mostly I’m thankful for a big God, who is strong when I am weak.

And who holds my little boy in the palm of his hand

No matter what.

Even if E is for Epilepsy.

Come to Me all who are Weary

The other morning I walked by our bathroom mirror, and, for the first time in my life it actually stopped me dead in my tracks.

I looked absolutely terrible.

Not in the “I should lose a couple pounds” or “I hate my haircut” way, but more like I looked utterly weary.

Overwhelmed.

Beaten down.

And although inside I have certainly been feeling that way, seeing it physically reflected back at me was shockingly breathtaking.

It’s been a long few months, mentally, as I slogged through the summer.

Not only was summer my mom’s favorite time of year, but it also held so many lonely “firsts” that it often left me trying to play catch-up with my emotions.

The Mini’s first birthday without Nini.

My first birthday without my mom.

First time going to the fair, first time going to the pool, first time not going to the beach, first time having to buy the kids new clothing without her tagging along.

And of course, there was probably the hardest of all, her birthday.

But as it’s been said before, time continues to march on, and however painful these events, these firsts, eventually passed us by.

However, I would be lying if I said that physically and mentally these months haven’t beaten me down.

The truth is that some days I feel like I’m barely scraping by, just trying to get one foot in front of the other.

Trying to fill the time with whatever distraction I can to try and go just twenty minutes without thinking about the giant gaping hole.

Mentally exhausted from just getting through the moments in the day.

Although I’m hoping to talk about it more in coming posts, since my mom’s passing I have also been at the mercy of some merciless anxiety.

This not only leaves me mentally defeated, but physically exhausted.

And that moment in the mirror was a vivid and awful reminder off the weight I carry these days. The mental and physical burden slowly trying to suffocate me.

It was a reminder of how incredibly weak I am.

Even more convicting, it was a reminder that I am commanded to NOT try and shoulder the weight of the world by myself.

Come to Me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.

That moment in the mirror was a reminder of how quickly I fall back into the pattern of just dealing with it myself

Instead of relying on the One who spoke and created life.

The One who holds all things in His hands.

The One who can and did carry the world on His shoulders.

The One who went through the same trials and fire I now walk through and knows exactly how painful it is.

The One who has extended salvation and grace to an undeserving and lowly sinner such as I.

How simple and silly am I to think that I can take the difficulties of this life and hold them securely in my weak, pitiful grasp.

How quick I am to forget that even if I lose it all, I still have Christ.

Him I cannot lose.

That moment in the mirror was one of many that has sent me crawling humbly back to the foot of the Cross, begging not only for forgiveness, but for the strength to carry on.

The good news, in all of this emotional mess, is that while I am unable to carry myself through the hard moments,

He is willing and

He

is

able.

I need only come.

 

Loving Love

This year (more specifically last week) marks, for the Hubby and I, nine whole years of marriage. While this alone I feel is somewhat impressive, if you will allow me to toot my own (our own?) horn for a moment, it does not in entirety sum up the length of our relationship.

Before marriage the Hubby and I dated for two years, and before officially becoming a “couple” the Hubby and I were good friends for about another two years.

For those who don’t feel like doing the math, that means that for approximately the past thirteen years in some way or another we have been in each other’s lives.

In addition, a quick fun fact, I actually met one of my husband’s younger brothers a couple years before I met him, so all said and done I’ve been somewhat connected to the Hubby’s family for a LONG time (does this make me old? It does, doesn’t it?).

Ok. Other than to give you all a quick math lesson, what’s my point here?

Well really the above information is just a little brag that I have been with this man:

Anniversary2

A long time and I haven’t killed him yet.

Yet.

Ha.

Anniversary1

But on a more serious note, celebrating an anniversary always puts me down the path of “let’s think about love.“

If I had to guess, I would say that most of us, and more than likely especially the women in the house, have spent a lot of time loving love.

Yearning for love.

Seeking fulfillment of that deep-down desire to be wanted and loved by that one special person.

Searching for the I want to fall asleep and wake up next to you forever you are my whole world I will always love you the stars shine brighter with you

Love.

I know for me (and a lot of people I’ve talked to over the years) it was especially in my formative teenage years that I longed for nothing more than that picture-perfect Tom Hanks’s “You’ve Got Mail” style ending.

(Shameless plug here for my favorite rom com. Ahem. Moving on.)

There’s something special about imagining the rest of your life alongside that person who loves you more than life itself.

And it gives you all the warm fuzzies in the world when you picture a future of you and “the one” living out your days in the perfect romantic atmosphere.

But, if I have learned anything over the past nine years it’s this:

That “perfect” love we all picture? The movie version of romantic walks on the beach and cuddling by a roaring fire and always saying the perfectly timed perfectly romantic thing and just spending hours and hours staring into each other’s eyes?

That is so, SO shortsighted.

Don’t get me wrong, being with someone you love certainly begs for moments like those mentioned above.

But real love? Real true we will be together forever love?

Yeah. It just doesn’t look like that most of the time.

Real love is washing out the kiddo’s vomit bowl because your spouse just. does. not. have. it. in. them.

Real love is painting a fully functional (just not your style) but horribly ventilated bathroom in thousand-degree weather with paint that splatters like a nicked artery.

Real love is putting in overtime you weren’t planning on at home so your other half can go spend time with an old friend.

Real love is making coconut cupcakes for a birthday even though you HATE coconut.

Really hate coconut.

And real love is hard. Real love is getting to know the best and worst of someone.

Real love is disagreements and hurt feelings and angry nights spent as far away from each other in a full-size bed as you can get.

Real love is having to humble yourself to ask forgiveness when you’ve done the other wrong.

Having to humble yourself again when you mess up again.

And real love is forgiving the other person even when they’ve hurt you (again) because you have chosen to spend the rest of your life loving them.

Real love isn’t always cheesy quotes or that perfectly ended movie.

Again, don’t mishear me here – when you are working through life with the love of your life there are absolutely romantic walks in the beach and high-class dates nights and moments of staring into each other’s eyes (or so I’m told. Not so into that last one myself…).

But that’s not all love is about.

And honestly, that real in the trenches it’s your turn to get the crying baby please for the love of goodness can you do the dishes tonight love is so. much. better than anything you can imagine.

It’s so much better than movie love.

Because it’s real. It’s doing life with someone who’s been there at your best and your worst.

It’s knowing they aren’t going to walk away when things get hard because they have chosen to love you no matter what.

And it’s choosing yourself to work through the difficult moments because you too have made the decision to love them no matter what.

Real love isn’t found in perfect looking social media posts or picture perfect book endings.

Real love is shown in those hard, exhausting moments.

But moments that leave you treasuring the gift you have been given in that “special someone” to walk through life with. And having the privilege to continually choose to love them as you have been loved.

Despite them asking for coconut cupcakes on their birthday…

Confessions of an Imperfect Mommy

A little while back the Hubby and I loaded up the Mini and the Smurflet for a quick, painless, just under an hour car ride.

(Ha)

We were about 10 minutes into the trip when we heard a little voice from the backseat.

“Mommy? I think I need to go potty.”

After a quick assessment as to whether or not I had the travel potty seat in the car (I didn’t – major mom fail) it became clear that a stop at a nearby gas station was necessary.

I’ll be honest, stopping at a gas station restroom with my three (almost four) year old is probably up there with wanting a root canal or a sudden spider apocalypse.

Something about that weird smell and your feet sticking to the floor just doesn’t do it for me.

But our options were limited (try non-existent), so minutes later we found ourselves pulling into the gas station parking lot. And although every fiber of my being was now begging for that spider apocalypse, into the bathroom she and I went.

I’ll just summarize the next few minutes as smelly, sticky (ugh), and somewhat traumatic for all involved.

I was now grossed out, upset that we even needed to stop (yeah I know. But I don’t know that I would have described myself as “rational” at this point), and just overall in a bad mood.

As I finally (quite grumpily) ushered the Mini out of the gas station door, a woman with a beaming smile leaned out of a nearby car and motioned for my attention.

“She is just beautiful!”

And in an instant those four words brought me as much guilt as they did pride.

In the same minute I went from feeling very proud because of course my daughter is beautiful! To feeling very, very, very guilty about my attitude.

Here I was, treating my beautiful daughter like she was nothing more than an inconvenience because I was unhappy about doing something.

Here I was showing my daughter that my frustration and discomfort with this situation was more important than, well, her.

And whether or not this stranger noticed my attitude right off, she definitely noticed us. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t catch me with a smile on my face.

In that moment I was humbly reminded of two things.

One, I am continually modeling my attitude in front of my children.

And in this instance, I was definitely not showing my daughter how to handle a (really one of the easiest) “difficult” situation with grace.

Not even close.

And two, which is really just a continuation of the above point, there is ALWAYS someone watching you.

Always.

Whether it’s your kids or a perfect stranger, someone is watching you.

And that gives me (us) moment after moment to display either a grumpy attitude, or a happy one.

To show grace in an unfavorable situation or to show frustration with current circumstances, whatever they may be.

And it took a reminder from a perfect stranger to humble me, and cause me to seek forgiveness both from my beautiful daughter and my Heavenly Father.

Because my desire in raising my kids, and just “being” in general, is not to allow grumpiness, or unhappiness, to define who I am.

Especially in light of the road my family is currently walking down, my utmost desire is to is model an attitude reflective of where my ultimate hope is.

Don’t get me wrong, more often than not I am not putting my best foot forward.

Especially right now.

So consequently I am humbled, again and again.

I have to seek forgiveness again and again.

I have to pray for patience, for help, for grace, again and again.

And again.

And I confess the cycle gets wearisome sometimes.

But, my kids are watching me.

My Heavenly Father is watching me.

Perfect strangers are watching what I reflect from inside my heart.

So I pray that I would be given the grace and strength to smile when something is hard.

Whether it’s the loss of a parent or simply having to venture into a gas station bathroom.

I have been forgiven, and thus given, much.

So much.

No matter how bleak circumstances may seem, no matter how dirty that gas station bathroom is,

I have a reason to smile.

 

A New Kind Of Mother’s Day

As I’ve had some time to reflect on this past Mother’s Day, it has brought a few thoughts to mind.

Growing up I don’t remember Mother’s Day being a huge deal.

Sure, we usually made or bought mom some nice gifts (this improved as we got older…), ensured that someone else (dad…) made dinner, and told her we loved her a few extra times.

But that was about the extent of it.

In fact, I cannot remember a Mother’s Day that was a massive event with a party or lots of presents or anything.

It was just more a simple, quiet, love on mom day.

And make sure that she didn’t have to cook.

And mail cards to the grandmothers if mom remembered…

So when faced with my first Mother’s Day without my mother, I didn’t think it would hurt as badly as some of the previous firsts.

After all, this was not one of our families’ “big events.”

But now, after making it through Mother’s Day weekend and beyond, I can honestly and truthfully say

That was the most painful first thus far.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect it to be.

But, when you’re working through hardships and suffering, especially ones that have resulted in loss, it seems to magnify everything else.

Or everyone else.

Especially those who have what you don’t.

I’ve always heard about the women who suffer through Mother’s Day with empty arms aching for a baby.

I have much less experience for when it is a child aching for their mother.

Until now.

I was able to muddle through all the TV ads and the mail flyers exclaiming that Mother’s Day was coming!

By focusing on the fact that I too, am a mother.

But when I woke up Mother’s Day morning I was unable to hide anymore.

Any and all social media platforms available were bursting with Mother’s Day excitement.

Pictures of Mother’s Day brunch, videos of gifts given/received, and heartfelt words proclaiming that this is in fact the best mother alive, and how thankful we are for her, and we couldn’t survive without you.

It was moment after moment of an in your face reminder that I will never have another lunch date with my mom.

I’ll never spend two hours on the phone with her even knowing I would see her for dinner that night.

We will never go get our nails done only for me to listen to her complain about the “wild” color I talked her into.

I will never again wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

While I do not begrudge anyone celebrating their mother (I mean, you should, and it’s probably not done enough), it’s difficult to be surrounded by it all.

It’s hard to see so much joy and thankfulness when you are sad.

And I know this pain isn’t limited to those missing their mom on Mother’s Day.

It’s hard to watch moms celebrating their babies when your arms are empty.

It’s hard to see pictures from that family hike when your chronic pain won’t let you out of bed.

Suffering is hard.

Loss is hard.

Figuring out how to move forward without someone

Hard.

And though I am so grateful for the mother’s who are still in, and very much influencing, my life,

I think Mother’s Day will be a little tainted from now on.

Although it will always be a day to celebrate those important mothers still in my life,

As well as enjoy being celebrated as a mother myself,

There will forever be a hole that cannot be filled.

Forever an empty seat and an unsent card.

Forever a painful reminder of what I no longer have this side of Heaven.

Forever a reminder that loss has a funny way of glossing over moments you thought would be hard, only to be hit from behind when you least expect it.

But also, forever filled with sweetness as I look back on all the moments, memories, and time spent with my dear Mom, and remember that while I ache now,

Heaven is one day coming when I will see her again.

So in the midst of that ache, and the sadness, and the pain, I will remain thankful for that fact.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

P.S. I know you’d appreciate the fact that this post is embarrassingly late. Some things never change, huh?

Household Updates

In an effort to give all three of my faithful readers (ha) a bit of a break from the less-than-light posts of late (sorry, back to those next time), I wanted to give a quick update on the Shaw household.

Literally.

We are updating our house.

Our basement to be a little more precise, as I have alluded to in previous posts.

It was always the plan when we bought our house to finish the basement, and now with a few additional factors tipping the scale we finally pulled the trigger.

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Because I’m a scatterbrain I don’t have any official “before” pictures (oops), but you get the general idea.

Our basement will soon house a guest room, laundry nook, bathroom, office, and large play area / future schoolroom for the kiddos.

And while I am super excited for the finished product, can I just say that home renovations are exhausting?

Or is it just me.

No?

Ok.

They are exhausting.

And if nothing else a continual lesson in patience.

(Not that I need that or anything)

Yeah, between the noise and the mess (so. much. mess) and the lack of spaces to put things I would be lying if I didn’t say I am getting a little antsy for things to wrap up.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy we are finally doing this, but also ready to be done. You know how it goes.

Thankfully though things are moving right along, and the light at the end of the tunnel grows a little brighter with each passing week.

On a brighter note, the kids have very much enjoyed the large trucks, tools, and of course “workin’ men” that have been in and out of the house in the past weeks.

Pretty sure I could have just left the Smurflet in the basement with the men and he would have been thrilled.

(The men however probably not so much….)

And I have gotten to play around in the kitchen a little bit so as to keep treats on hand for those “workin’ men.”

It’s amazing how much more they can accomplish when you keep a steady stream of cookies flowing their way…

Ha.

So that’s about it over here, as far as home updates.

I am excited to share finished pictures with you when we get to that point.

Which is hopefully soon.

(Ish)

Also I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has been reading / giving feedback and encouragement on my recent posts.

I know they’ve been heavier (and more consistently heavy) than maybe it’s been in the past, but you all have given me a very helpful platform to work though life, and I pray I will somehow be of assistance or encouragement or something to those who read this.

Ok, I’m done babbling for the moment.

Off to sweep some more drywall dust!

Great (Unrealistic) Expectations

I never really, deep down inside, believed that my mother was dying.

I know that is probably the most ridiculous sentence you’ve ever read, but it’s true.

Well, mostly true.

Deep in my subconscious I think there was a part of me that understood what was happening.

That small piece inside that kept whispering reality.

But the rest of me.

The rest of me didn’t really believe it was happening.

Couldn’t believe it was happening.

See, there was no life before my mom.

Again, a ridiculous sentence I know.

But it’s true.

There are no memories without my mom in them.

There were no moments that she didn’t touch, in some way.

Even if just playing a background character in whatever storyline that was currently playing out

My mom was always there.

So she couldn’t be dying.

Right?

She would always be there.

She had to be there.

And even though I could have conversations, multiple conversations, admitting and lamenting and worrying about the end coming so incredibly quickly

I didn’t mean it.

Somewhere inside me I held on to a belief that this too would pass.

That there would be some miracle recovery.

Or something.

I had great expectations.

And thinking back I would possibly call it something close to a defense mechanism.

I simply couldn’t process everything at once.

I blocked out what I knew was coming and instead burred my head deep into the sand of denial.

And while I do wholeheartedly believe that part of this denial was indeed a safeguard my body provided to keep me from going into complete and total shock

I also think I, and a lot of the world, suffer from another condition.

Those great expectations.

We all say that life is short, or that things change too fast, or something similar.

But we don’t really believe it.

The “here today, gone tomorrow” mindset is great when we want a reason to skydive or travel the world.

But we don’t really believe it.

I know this because life still manages to take us by surprise when we’re not looking.

An unexpected change or loss leaves us shocked and reeling.

How could this happen to me?

We spout off things like live for the moment or tell someone you love them!

But

We don’t really expect life to change.

Deep down we have a firm belief what we have will always be.

Whether it’s health or family or maybe a job.

It will always be there.

Maybe it’s just a universal safeguard.

Keeping us from going insane in the broken world we live in.

Or maybe.

Maybe we have great, but unrealistic, expectations.

Maybe we need to face the reality that life in this world is nothing but change.

Ranging from the loss of a job to the loss of a loved one.

What we have will never stay the same.

Maybe it will for for a minute.

But then two minutes down the road suddenly your kids are grown and gone or your job is downsizing and you’re out of luck or your mother is swept with harsh finality from your life.

Maybe that safeguard of not truly believing that life changes

Maybe it’s not really doing us any good.

Maybe instead we should be focusing on just how frequently

Quickly

Suddenly

Life changes.

Maybe instead of brushing it aside with the inner thought that it will never happen to me

We should be ready for it.

I don’t mean in a paranoid way.

Looking for disaster around every corner and waiting with baited breath for the next bad thing to knock us off our feet.

No.

I mean that maybe by admitting that all we hold dear is slowly slipping through our fingers

We can find something that actually, truly, one hundred percent does not change.

Maybe

Just maybe

We can have those great expectations after all.

We just need to have them in the right place.

Expecting, even subconsciously, that this life will never throw big changes at us

That does nothing but break you down when, eventually, you find yourself in the midst of suffering.

But “expecting” in something, or Someone, who has never and will never change?

Maybe that’s the secret.

Maybe that’s our great expectation.

Maybe by placing our faith and hope and trust in the One who has always been and always will be

We can have great expectations.

He will not change.

His love, His salvation, His grace, His mercy

That doesn’t change.

Won’t change.

CAN’T change.

When the life we hold so dear slowly unravels around us

He is constant.

When that one thing we always prayed and hoped and knew would just never happen

Happens

He is there.

He is constant.

And whatever road, no matter how painful or changed filled, we are given to walk down

The end of that road?

That doesn’t change either.

When we have our hope in the One who never changes

We can, with great certainty, trust that whatever we endure here on earth will never change our Heavenly home.

We can have great expectations.

If we expect in Him

And all His promises.

 

Memories of Mom and Meme

Although time is a cruel mistress, continuing to grow and change everything around it, there is one thing I am thankful for that never changes.

One thing that stands still even as everything around it marches steadily forward.

Memories.

Those memories of moments past that are cemented in time, forever.

Never changing, even as everything else does.

Whether it’s photos or video recordings or even just moments in time frozen in my head forever.

Those memories can’t be changed or altered and I know they will never be forgotten.

And it’s a small pinprick of light against the dark background to know that as time continues its forward movements that I can call up those memories to help me remember.

I love that the photos and videos that I now hold so dear are only a moment away.

I have never appreciated so much that simple ability to pull out a phone camera and capture a moment forever as I do now.

Because, at least for me, those memories are important.

They are a large piece of what keeps me moving forward.

Although I know that sounds a little silly, looking backward to move forward,

It’s the truth.

When missing my mom gets overwhelming hearing her laugh on an old video helps sooth the ache even just a little.

For just a moment.

To keep me moving forward.

When I cannot fall asleep at night I replay in my head highlights and special moments from over the years.

And although that usually reduces me to a puddle of all different emotions,

I am grateful for the memories.

I am grateful too, that if and when the Mini’s memories start to fade I can help her remember.

Whether it’s stories or pictures, those memories keep a small part of that important person with us.

And that’s it, right? When someone is important and special to us, we move through loss by remembering.

We remember how they laughed.

We remember what they valued.

We remember how they spent their time

Who and what they loved

How they lived.

We remember them.

We talk about them and look at pictures of them and try and hold them in our hearts just a little bit tighter.

We do everything in our power to make sure though they are gone, they are not forgotten.

So too, I work to continue to remember not only my mom, but my Meme.

My sweet Meme left us what feels like forever ago now.

Losing my Meme was the first time in my life where that ache over loss didn’t fade with time.

And as her birthday slips quietly by I remember not just for myself and the great grandchildren she never got to meet, but for everyone who knew her.

For everyone who was given the opportunity to be served a meal by her.

To be loved on by her.

To have known her.

And as I work to comprehend a world where two very important women to me are no longer in it,

I am grateful for the memories I have.

I am grateful that I can show my kids pictures and tell them stories so that while they may never have met her,

They can know who my Meme was.

I am grateful that although my Meme and my dear mother are gone

They will never be forgotten.

Happy Birthday Meme.

Meme

Life, Laughter, and who am I kidding. It's all craziness!