Friday, September 28, 2012


my favorite fridge picture... I love seeing our faces pressed together

The other night, dear,
as I lay sleeping,
I dreamt I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear,
I was mistaken,
So I hung my head and cried.
You are my sunshine -
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
when skies are gray.
You'll never know, dear,
how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Did you ever realize how sad is this little song? It comes up often on the Pandora children's folk music station I play for Erika. And every time, I think it was written for me.

When will the dreams stop? Yet, I hope they never stop. I get to be with Chris—if only in my dreams. But when I wake and find myself in bed all alone... There is nothing quite so freshly painful as that moment.

And the dreams seem to mirror my grief process. They have evolved over the months since I lost him. At first, they were the sick dreams. Very vivid and very painful. I woke feeling almost relieved that he was gone. Seeing him suffer profoundly once again made me grateful for his eternal rest. Yet, at least I got to talk to him.

Now, the dreams are no longer sick ones. Still vivid though. And they are all pretty much the same. He is healthy and vibrant and affectionate. He “comes back” to me. And we both know, in the dream, that we have only one day to be together before we need to part again. Permanently (until Heaven, that is). He often says goodbye to Erika and me. These dreams are harder than the sick ones. Harder to wake, for sure.

The mind is amazing. I'm often reminded of memories in my dreams. It's as if that strange, wonderful computer-organ takes the night to sift and organize information. File my life events in attempts to make some kind of sense of it all. And thrill me and torment me with its processes.

In those desperately lonely mornings, I am reminded that my God cares for me—my exhilarating dreams and my sad wakings. This quote (a commentary on Psalm 139:17 "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God") is one of my favorites:

In our sorrows He observes us incessantly and not a pang escapes Him; in our toils He marks all our weariness and writes in His book all the struggles of His faithful ones. These thoughts of the Lord encompass us in all our paths, and penetrate the innermost region of our being. Not a nerve or tissue, valve or vessel, of our bodily organization is uncared for; all the littles of our little world are thought upon by the great God. (CH Spurgeon)
How could I possibly do these nights and days without those Divine thoughts? That care and condescension. Great love.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Two Hands

It's those innocent, passing comments that perhaps hurt most. The genuine and true accolades for a dad spending quality time with his kid. "He needs some daddy time—he’s been acting up." "That date with Daddy sure did her good!" I find myself wanting to rush to my girl and cover her ears. To tell her that God is her father—but that I can't imagine how it must hurt to not have a daddy of her very own here with her. One who plays and laughs and tickles. And sings bedtime songs in a voice so low and soothing that it lulls her to sleep on his big, strong chest. And how she must desperately want her own daddy-daughter date. How it's been so long since she's spent time with him... 

on Daddy's shoulders last summer at the farmer's market
But she is still very young. I don't think she quite understands those conversations. But maybe she does. And if she does not now, she surely will soon. I certainly understand them. And more. I understand how disadvantaged my daughter is. And seeing the pain of her loss is sometimes nearly too much for me to bear. What's worse, I can't fix it. I can't protect her from the pain.
She tells me as we walk hand-in-hand in the parking lot, "I have two hands. This one's for you. And this one [the empty one] is for Daddy." Oh, she gets it. She may not understand it all in my adult-like way, but here's what she knows: I have this hand that is supposed to be in Daddy's. But it's not.
People—even those close to me—forget, I think, that my life is not normal. Not like theirs. I don't have a husband to bear half of the child-caring load. Or one to enjoy with me all the amazing things about our girl. One with whom to discuss parenting and discipline. It's just me. I have to be enough for her. Or I have to assemble people around us that can help me to be enough for her.
And I truly do not want people to walk on their tiptoes around me—to change who they are and what they would normally say simply because they are in my presence. Because it might hurt my feelings. I guess what I want is to be strong enough. And confident enough in the loving providence that brought me to this different-from-my-peers life I now have. And I want to be more than just strong and confident. I want to be truly joyful that my friends' kids have their daddies. And somehow, I want to see something of a blessing in all of this loss.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


What if my life, like Paul's (Phil. 2:17), is to be a drink offering? Poured out. What if pain and hurt follows me always? For the sake of others.

What if I am to comfort others with the comfort with which I have been comforted (2Cor. 1:14)—and what if that comfort means infinitely more coming from one who has daily grief and pain?

What if I cry to see my baby have this sad life? And what if my mom cries for the very same reason? Moms aching over their daughters' pain. What if it is sad and hard for us til we die? And what if heaven is the first time we see the beauty in all of this?

What if I never again enjoy the loveliness and benefits of a sweet marriage? The companionship. What if I always feel so very lonely?

What if immensely heart-breaking dreams in which I say goodbye to Chris over and over again keep disturbing my nights and shadowing my days?

What if, try as I may, it is very difficult to see my afflictions as "light and momentary" (2Cor. 4:17)—rather, I see them as heavy and enduring?

What if "counting it all joy" (James 1:2) seems impossible and the patience that this testing of my faith is to produce seems rather undesirable?

What if death works in me so that life may work in others (2Cor.4:12)? What if the HOPE in my sadness is just the thing some poor, desperate soul needs to see? To see Jesus.

Am I willing? Will I rejoice to spend and be spent? Is all of this "pouring out" what true love for God and man looks like? Can I surrender all? All claims to rights and happiness.

Today, it's war in my soul (Gal. 5:17). Not every day. But today, Spirit and flesh are clashing. Flesh cries out for deliverance, for happiness, for companionship. Spirit knows that all I have is not my own—even my very life—and that true joy comes in full surrender, despite my outward circumstances.

I have no idea of the path I am called to walk. But this much I know: Spirit must win. True joy is found in full surrender. And I have a Savior who showed me with His life—and death—how to do this. Surrender. And joy will follow. I will be soothed and sung songs of peace and comfort. My world will crumble around me, but my Lord will gather me up and press me close to Him.
Psalm 91:4 :)

My assignment: "So brace up your minds, and as men who know what they are doing, rest the full weight of your hopes on the grace that will be yours when Jesus Christ reveals himself." I Peter 1:13 (JB Philips) Pray for me?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Songs… and Owls

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the JOYOUS mother of children. Praise the Lord!  Psalm 113:9

How joyous I am to be the mother of my sweet Erika Grace. And only God could have done this thing. A journey full of tears of wrenching heartache and also of unspeakable joy. Turning sorrow into dancing. The kind of dancing you do when you are overcome by a melody so beautiful that it is perfection—Divine. It is God's song. He is the composer. Only His song is perfection—and exquisite beauty.

ERIKA 089Not of my flesh, nor of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart, but in it.

-Fluer Conkling Heylinger

Miraculously our own! Chris and I could not have made Erika from our flesh and bone. God used her birth parents... so that she is just exactly herself. Our Erika. My Erika. And how perfectly she fits. How overwhelmed I am daily when I think that He put us together. Oh, I need her now more than ever!

She is reason God knew I needed to get out of the chair. To care about life. And to care about really living. To laugh, too. What a gift! What a song!

And I believe that He is also composing a perfect melody of THESE tears of loss. The loss of my beloved. And perhaps He will be so kind as to show me a bit of the beauty of the notes He's writing. I think I am just maybe beginning to see some glimpses. And I trust the Great Composer. Even if I do not see the full beauty of this song in this life, I will surely see it in the next.

So, as I wait to see that beauty... I knit. For my therapy—because the rhythm and accomplishment somehow helps to heal my heart. And for my girl—because I love her most in this world. Behold! This week's project (therapy)! A birthday backpack for Erika. My soon-to-be 3-year-old! Shhhhhh…. don’t tell her! I hope she loves it.

sept (32)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Re-Making Life

So, over Labor Day weekend I did something exciting. I redecorated my bedroom. And I love it! The color scheme and design has been in my mind for a few months. But this was the time! My dear mom stayed up late with me, painting away cheerfully. She’s pretty much in love with my room too.

               room pics 012                       room pics 013

Now guys, would you agree—this is not the kind of room guys would generally appreciate? Yeah, Chris would NOT have gone for it either. But guess what? I don't have to pick things that Chris will like anymore. I can buy a purple shirt and know that I am not wearing a color he detests. (I haven’t done that yet—I can’t quite decide if I like the color purple…) And I can have a pretty, pink (and tan) bedroom because its just for me.

Please don't misunderstand... I ache—with all my heart—to make wardrobe and decor choices that he would love. But perhaps this is part of my healing, my re-making of life. A finding of a bit of sunshine in a whole bunch of clouds. Gratitude.

I find so very much for which to be grateful. Maybe the more you lose, the more you appreciate all that you have. I have a Lord who holds my hand and my heart--and is so very gentle with both. I have the most amazing daughter who came to me in the most amazing way. I have the memory of the best man I have ever known loving me with a love that I did not deserve. I have a family who would readily take every ounce of pain from me if they could. And I have a pink bedroom.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Life, Part 2

Welcome! I'm so glad we all made it here together! This feels rather monumental. My first real live blog post... I'm excited to have this new, fresh place to share my heart and my happenings with you. Breaking with CaringBridge—and with cancer. But not with all the ways Chris changed me, shaped me, loved me. And not with all the happy-heart memories.

And the six-month mark seemed a fitting time to make that break. Six months, after all, is a half-year.

So here we are—a  half-year into this new life. Life, part 2. And we are upheld by the Savior's sweet whispers of comfort. Whispers in the darkness. This is a place to tell you about those—in  the light—and from the housetops (Matthew 10:27). He is so very good. My Savior and my sweet friend.

I am navigating life a little less blindly these days. Things seem clearer. Priorities have shifted, and I'm glad. Jesus is so very near to me. Daily, He cuts away the bandages I and others have tried to plaster over the wound on my heart. And He slathers on the most healing and soothing salve. So that I can breathe normally again, not ravaged by the pain of the loss.

DSC_0446 editedThis picture was taken on a vacation to Bayfield, WI a couple weeks ago

Erika has now lived almost a fifth of her life—18% of her 33 months—without her daddy. That's a pretty sizable percentage. I wonder, does it feel like that to her? 18% of my life would be 5.5 years. I wonder how I will feel in 5 years. She seems, for the most part, to be thriving and loving life. Oh, but I see her little, aching heart sometimes in her eyes. The look of longing as she watches other kids be thrown in the air by their daddies. And I hear the sweet, desperate, heart-breaking question, "How 'bout me?" And I see in her the sheer joy of being indulged or the crushing disappointment of being refused. I hear her slip and call Uncle Jake "Daddy" because that’s what her cousins call him. And I HATE correcting her. I want her to have a daddy of her own. I ache to see her broken over the void in her life.

My prayer then, as her mom, is to show her Jesus. To teach her to bring Him all her pain. To infuse His name into every conversation. To model complete and utter dependence. And I hear her little child-like faith. "Jesus made my owie all better." Yes, Baby, and He can make your heart all better, too.

So then, we lay open our hearts to the Healer of all wounds. We beg Him to cut away the dirty bandages we've put there and to give us more of that precious salve. And He liberally douses our hearts. Over and over again.

And healed daily, we walk forward into Life, part 2.

(A very special thanks to my sweet friend, Hannah Beasley of Hannah Rose Beasley Art & Design for this blog design. I taught her Sunday School when she was in 2nd grade! And now, here she is—a lovely, talented adult with a successful business doing what she loves. Hannah, thank you for being so fabulous at what you do—for "getting me" and bringing to visual life what I couldn't articulate but knew was perfect when I saw it. I'm so very grateful to you for both your talent and your love for me. Much love to you!)

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