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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Going Back in Time

This is going to be an odd time on the blog where I right merely to refer you to what I posted way back when. All that time, I was still writing. I just wasn't ready to publish.

Now is the time.

 It's important to me to publish them in chronological order. This is a journal after all.

You can find the next entry here.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Story Unfolds

I’ve waited 11 months to tell this story.

I’m not looking for sympathy.

I’m telling it in hopes that my journey might help others. I’m telling it so that you can see that everyone struggles. I’m telling it so that we can all remember that though our struggles help us become who we are, they do not define us. I’m telling this so that one day, when I’m on the other side of it, I will not forget what it took to get me there. I’m telling it to remind myself that even when things don’t go my way and it feels like God may have forgotten me, He hasn’t.

God does not cause the pain in our lives. He carries us through it.

He is carrying me now. He always will. May I never, ever forget that.

The whole story is not here yet, but I’m working on it. For now, you can start here. For some reason I can't see it when I pull up the August 2014 page from the blog roll on the left, so I'll include the missing links here, here, here and here and hope the rest show up on your page.

Over the next days and weeks I’ll go back and fill in some of the gaps.

Don’t read my story and worry about me. Read it and pray for me. When you see me, remind me that God is in control, and He does it much better than I do.  Help me remember that God’s got this.

I know He does, but sometimes I need a little reminder.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Moving On

As I sit here in my hotel room on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, I am finally finding a chunk of time to return to this cathartic place. It’s been another challenging season. This one is on the tails of this challenging season, which was on the tails of this one. Are you seeing a trend here? I’m certainly feeling it.

During a season when taking an anniversary trip was out of the question, God provided one for us. Nelson is attending a conference. It just so happens that it’s in New Orleans, they invited me to join him…AND they are paying for everything. The fact that it fell on the week of our anniversary and that my parents graciously agreed to stay with our kids was icing on the cake (Thanks Mom and Dad!).

God knows what you need when you need it. I am so grateful.

I think I have made a mistake of steering clear of this place during hard times. I’m going to work to rectify that.

Circumstances have changed so that Nelson has the computer when he’s working, which is often from before the sun rises until well after the kids go to bed. When he’s not out, he’s working from home with it. When I get the chance to use it, I can hardly form an intelligent thought, let alone put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). He reminds me that I can use the kids’ computer but it’s not the same version and trying to make that work when I can’t even make my mind work is nearly impossible.

The problem is, that when I’m not writing here, I’m writing in my head. So the need to get things down is ever present, even when circumstances don’t allow it.

But that’s about to change. I don’t know how I’m going to make it work, but I now know that I have to.  I’ve moved through the crossroad and I’m on my way to tell my story.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Crossroad

Two roads diverged in the wood and there I stand. I’m in the middle looking each way. I have no idea where I am or where each road will lead, so I stand…and stare…and wait.

This is not where I saw myself. Not that I never thought I would reach a crossroad. No. In fact, there have been many. I’ve stood there for a brief second, or two, made a decision, discerned a direction and off I went. Life is full of them. Been there. Done that.

The crossroad is not the hard part. It’s the standing there watching myself from the outside. Standing there with an unsure direction. It’s standing there…doing nothing, that’s eating at me.

I don’t stand still. I don’t sit around. I don’t stay undecided. I do. I go. I choose.

Except that I’m not.

Maybe my problem this time is not the decision to be made, but the wonder at where I am and why I’m here in the first place. I’m a planner. I’m a studier. I’m a thinker and a doer.

However, I didn’t walk down this road in the first place. I didn’t map out this course. I didn’t intend anything about this and it’s killing me. This is not my thing. This is not my choice. I don’t have this.

So I stand and stare into space.

That’s the big picture of the little crossroads at which I stand. And just getting the words out, just envisioning the scene helps because, no matter how I got here, I can’t just stay. Life is not sedentary. There is a direction to go and a choice to be made that can only be done by me.

I take a deep breath while closing my eyes. I breathe deeply. I feel the environment. Suddenly, my eyes pop open and see the road more clearly than I’ve seen it before.  It’s time to move away from this stale place. In the staleness, nothing can grow.

Sometimes the decision is not direction. Sometimes the decision is to move or to stay. And finally, I realize I cannot stay in this place anymore. It’s time to move. It’s time to do.

I step forward. The roads no longer matter. I plunge ahead in faith that if I keep moving, wherever I end up is going to be better than the middle of nowhere.

That’s a good start.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Forward Progress

Tonight I was in the laundry room throwing in a load when I heard precious little foot steps coming my way. I peeked around the corner and said, "Peek-a-boo!", as I watched my 14 month old toddle down the hall towards me. She laughed as she held the straw to her sippy cup tightly in her teeth. 

I went back to the laundry and she kept coming. We continued our little game until at last she made it into the room. It was a long walk and it did not escape me how amazing this simple thing was. It was just last week when she at last gained enough courage to let go and walk without holding on to something or someone for more than a few steps. Here we are, a week later and she's walking all over the place...more than she's crawling.

It's been a gradual process. By her first birthday, she was standing on her own and beginning to cruise a bit. This was nothing short of miraculous. She's not only walking earlier than all the other kids, she's the only one who didn't need some form of therapy or exercise to get her there. 

It's kind of funny to think that even though she was showing signs of walking and progressing quicker than the others, I thought she'd be walking before now. Does it make sense to say that the outcome has been on the quick side, but the process has been rather slow? First was standing, then weeks later, moving along furniture for short jaunts, then letting go for one or two steps, then a few more, then walking a bit, and finally walking more than crawling. 

So what's happened is that I've seen it coming for so long, it kind of overwhelmed me to think about it all today, standing in front of my washing machine holding dirty clothes. There was nothing special about it - no cute outfit or hair bow, no video or pictures, not even anyone around to applaud - just the simple realization that the moment I've been waiting for is really here.

Forward progress.

This moment caused me to reflect on another slow process that has occurred over the past thirteen months.  Nelson's mom had a stroke last December. Throughout the year, she had many more. Each one taking more and more of her away. First she was unable to walk, later she lost movement in one arm, and in May she lost the ability to communicate. It has been hard to watch such a vibrant woman go through so much suffering. 

To put a different perspective on it, she was at the hospital when Felicity was born. She came down with some kind of cold after that and wasn't able to come see her for fear of getting Felicity sick. I remember her calling me to apologize for not being able to help out with all that was going on. Felicity was two weeks old when she had her first stroke. She was never the same again.

There came a point in the whole process where it dawned on me that the end of life is at times, very much like the beginning. The longer her life went, the less Nancy could do for herself. In the final few months, I felt she and Felicity were kindred spirits in many ways. Both frustrated by their inability to communicate or make their bodies do what they wanted them to do. I think that's why Nancy perked up the most when Felicity came to visit. Without fail, her eyes would light up and a slight smile would come over her face. If I put Felicity on her left side, Nancy could still reach out for her. 

The last time we saw her, Felicity got into the bed with Nancy and crawled all over her. She held her hand and gave her kisses. I think she knew what the rest of us did not. I think she knew that was the last time she would see her alive and she was saying goodbye. 

To the human eye, the two events present as a dichotomy. One at the beginning of her life making forward progress, the other at the end of her life regressing - both suffering through the process. 

We know that to make advancements, suffering is necessary. Sacrifice is usually involved in improvement. Training and hard work are required to get better. Muscles get sore when they are growing. We accept this. Growing pains are a part of life.

If we think of death as we should; if we acknowledge that it is indeed a beginning, rather than the end, shouldn't the same apply? Getting to Heaven is no easy task. It requires nothing less than perfection. Surely, some suffering on our part is a necessary part of achieving this. Nancy had more than her fair share of suffering, especially in her final year.  

Look at God's only Son. Didn't He suffer? If we want to be closer to Jesus, if we desire to be like Him, we have to suffer. I believe that Nancy was closer to Jesus than most people this past year. I believe that even though she couldn't communicate with us, she communicated with Him. 

Her death, though it makes all of us sad, was her endgame. It was, after all her goal. There is only one way to get to Heaven, and death is part of that. So although I will miss her terribly and I'm sad the kids, especially Felicity, will not get the chance to have her present at the big events of their lives, I am grateful that God finally allowed her suffering to end and I rejoice that she is now with Him talking up a storm I'm sure.

So you see, both Felicity and Nancy were making forward progress towards an end goal. The only difference is that Nancy has finished her race and Felicity is still at the starting line.

We love you Nancy and we will miss you dearly, but we rejoice in the knowledge that you fought the good fight, you have finished your race, and you have kept the faith. May your soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday Fun Day at Six Flags

My brother Kevin shot me a text sometime last week asking if he could make good on a promise to take Mackenzie to Six Flags. Of course, that meant that someone would have to get her there.

I tried to pawn it off on Nelson. He has a business associate in Atlanta and I suggested he drive Mackenzie up and meet with the guy. Nelson, however, is not a fan of driving or theme parks so it was a hard sell. I told him that if I took her, that would mean he would be here with all the kids. He felt it was a fair trade.

When I told Kevin that I would bring her, he said he'd buy my ticket so that I could go to the park with them. I couldn't remember that last time I had been to Six Flags, so I let him.

Though I was excited to spend the day with my girl and my brother, I was nervous. I love roller coasters. I always have. However, the older I get, the less they love me. These days I get nauseated swinging next to the kids in the backyard. Throwing up at a theme park is not top on my list of ways to spend a Sunday (or any day for that matter).

Mackenzie begged and Kevin egged me on. I figured, if I was going to be in the park, I had to at least try to ride the things.

We went on every ride. They were super exciting and worthy of a few screams. I got nauseated every single time. Thankfully, we had to wait in line for most of the rides so that gave my stomach time to settle before I put it through the same thing again. However, at the end of the day, when we started to ride a few for the second time, my stomach had had enough. I sat the last one out.

Unfortunately, it was Fright Fest at Six Flags so when the sun went down, the zombies came out. Let me just say that sitting out a ride in order to settle your stomach is not helped AT ALL by a zombie jumping out at you. Didn't help...not at all - but I already said that didn't I. Said zombie was very, VERY lucky I didn't throw up on him.

All in all though, I'm very glad I went. It was a great time with two of my very favorite people. I can also now list all the newest and scariest rides in the "been there, done that" column so that they can be avoided until Uncle Kevin decides to torture me again.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


This year's Social Dance Club is so much more fun and easier than any other year. They only have a dance once a month and every dance has a theme that helps them choose how to dress. This month's was a costume party of course.

I started talking to her about this dance after last month's Beach Party. I suggested numerous options and scoured the Internet for DIY ideas. Unfortunately, after all that, she saw a picture of some super heroes and decided that nothing else would do.

Now we have plenty of super hero costumes and props for little people. However, most of it is not Mackenzie's size, petite as she is. I tried to talk her into anything we had the stuff for but to no avail. The eve of the dance, she got an invitation to go shopping for a costume with a friend and her mom.

I told her that I was not willing to pay for a costume she would most likely never wear again when we had plenty of other stuff she could use. Still she was not convinced. I let her borrow some money with the understanding that anything she spent was going to come out of her account, not mine.

"How much do you think a costume will be?" she wanted to know. I told her I thought it would be at least thirty dollars, but probably more and off she went, money in hand.

I got a text from the mom that she had found the most perfect Wonder Woman outfit that was only $50 and could she pretty, pretty please get it. Well, I told her that I wasn't trying to spoil the fun but I thought that was a lot of money to spend. However, it was Mackenzie's money, so the decision was hers.

We exchanged a few more texts and then she sent me this.
I have to say that the girl looks great. The mom told me people stopped her in the store and told her the same. After I saw the picture, I figured it was a done deal. She looked amazing and it was her choice, and maybe...just maybe I could squeeze myself into it for a costume party we have next weekend.

When she walked in the door, she had a relatively small bag in her hand. "Hey. I saw the photo and you looked great. Let me see it," I said.

What she pulled out of her bag was a Batgirl belt that she purchased for $10. "Oh Mama," she slightly moaned, "the costume was so perfect...but also SO expensive. It was hard."

"I am so proud of you! Sweetie, life is full of hard choices. There are a lot of great things out there that cost a lot of money. Most of them are not needs. It's a good lesson to learn. You'll be happy you have that money for something more worthwhile in the long run."

She made a few phone calls and I ran her to a couple of friend's houses so she could put together a Batgirl costume. Honestly, I think it's every bit as good as the $50 store bought one.
Hopefully she learned that you don't have to spend a lot of money to look good or to have fun. It will serve her well in the future as she saves us all from the bad things lurking in the dark.