Nostalgic November

It’s been a trying last few weeks as I’ve been traveling a lot. I just finished up a spectacular elk hunt enjoying the solace of nature and returned home, reconnecting with the world.   While spending time hunting, on the job and with family, it has been exhausting to say the least.  Being pulled in many directions, I’ve found that I’ve not had the time to write or share posts, nor have any time to myself during these days but then realized that this is life. It doesn’t adhere to my anticipated plan. It doesn’t fit in the cookie cutter mold. There are sharp turns, steep hills, and at times I find myself going in reverse.   What in the world?  I’ve learned I’ve no choice but to embrace it.

With the recent passing of my beloved uncle and declining health of my father, the emotional roller coaster welcomes me. I’ve enjoyed reminiscing, laughing and crying, as the pendulum of feelings swings widely. Grieving our loved ones is so hard, whether their passing was expected or not, there is no easy way to say goodbye.

However, since Lydia passed away, and years progressed, I’ve been fine-tuned to seeking life’s blessings during hardships. Despite difficult circumstances, I know the darkest days will pass and the sun will shine again, all in its own time.

But that doesn’t make it any easier.  Life is so fragile and love is so powerful.  Fresh events of loss bring to the surface the true meaning of life. It makes us ponder why we are even here. What is our purpose? Why do some live longer than others? Why does life have to hurt so much?  How are we equipped to handle it all?

How fast these years pass.  It seems like only a few short years ago I was in college as a young, naïve lady who set out to conquer the world.  Fast forward 20+ years and here I am today, wiser beyond my years, living through the unimaginable.  So strange. No exactly the life I had planned for myself.

I still cannot believe its November already. This month is one that carries high emotional charges as Lydia’s birthday lands on or near Thanksgiving each year.  No matter how many years have passed, we bereaved parents will always have heavy hearts and endless tears during birthdays and holidays. Yes, even after ten years. Yikes!  It still is so hard for me to fathom that much time has passed since my darling daughter was here.

During November every year, I find myself craving connection with God, needing to read scripture to remind myself that an eternity awaits.  I find myself visiting the cemetery more often, finding comfort in the solace and presence of her grave.  I find myself fantasizing of those early years with her and imagining who she’d be today.  You will find endless drops of pure love descending down my cheeks at random moments, evidence of the hearts incredible strength and timeless devotion.

Much time is spent on wondering, fantasizing, and dreaming of those heavenly reunions- no pain, no sorrow, only pure joy and restoration. Talk about glory days! What a gift.

In the end, today is all we are ever really promised.  Remember, when fear knocks on your door, answer with faith.

On the journey with you~

P.S. Stay tuned. Lots of excitement brewing here and two special announcements coming this month!

 

 

Advertisements

Navigating Relationships Between Childhood Friendships and Grief

Childhood can be a tricky thing for growing little humans.  Finding where you fit in, figuring out your personality and who you want to be, how to act and learning what to say, can be challenging to say the least.  Add a bit of grief or struggle on top and a child’s world is compounded immensely.

Having four children sprinkled through elementary and middle school, this is something that has laid heavily on my heart lately as I have observed my children navigate through the tangled web of friendships in their schools.  

Finding the true definitions of a friend has been a challenge for them. They have experimented with learning lessons the hard way by hurt feelings, being excluded from games on the playgrounds, pushed down, being told to “leave, you’re not wanted here,” to “I’m not supposed to talk to you,” among many others.

It’s rough. All kidding aside, the last thing any parent wants is to have their child being treated terribly arriving home after school with tears in their eyes. It opens your heart to places you never felt, having these innocent beings reliant on you to provide comfort and understanding when you have none.

 Yes, it  tears at the tender heart deep down. I wish I could protect them from such pain.

No one wishes for their children to be ostracized by their peers.  Thankfully, my kids are resilient.  They are real, honest, kind-hearted and strong.  I am so proud of each and every one of them. 

Don’t get me wrong, they each have their moments of irresponsibility, speaking without thinking, or rudeness that needs corrected, among many other undesirable traits. Outnumbered, they’ve at times made me think I will never survive the four of them with all the joking, fighting, yelling and craziness my sweet darlings provide.  Yet despite it all, I can say I am truly proud of the individuals they are becoming.

I work extremely hard to try to instill the proper values in their expanding minds. So far, my monsters are well rounded, compassionate kids with big hearts, willing to help anyone out.  

They don’t care what anyone dresses like.  On any normal day, you will find my kiddos in hand me downs, prized apparel acquired at yard sales and thrift shops.  Their second-hand shoes and mismatched socks make them who they are.  Thankfully, they don’t pay attention to what people wear or feel inadequate to be lured into comparison.       

They don’t discriminate based on social hierarchy, popular status, or appearances.  They don’t bat an eye to unruly hair or tattered clothing and remain joyful non-materialistic little people.

In our family, we just don’t have time for that.  A quick glance will reveal my little people frequently covered in dirt wearing stained shirts with chocolate faces. To some they may look like they just rolled off the wagon train, and that’s okay. 

Through it all, they remain confident in who God made them to be.

Our children have visited homeless shelters on many occasions and have observed life on the other side of the fence.  It has humbled them, yet opened their hearts to see children who are just like them, ignoring the different lifestyles while engaging in laughs and play with other children as if they’d been friends for years.

They look forward to saying their prayers every night together, they know what real pain and sorrow feel like.

They don’t judge based on gossip or rumors.  They don’t bully others attempting to outcast others from their circle of friends, even though others may have done this to them. 

It’s is my hope that they will always reciprocate and never take advantage of others. They are not fake, pretending to be someone’s friend one day and then the next day not knowing who they are. 

Fancy new cars, name brand clothes, economic status or living in a fancy house doesn’t apply to them.  They can mingle and mix with the best of them, joining hearts with all kinds.

My children have bloomed into compassionate hearts that are the first to console a hurting friend or to lend an ear if someone is sad. They are proficient in seeing broken hearts, observing their parents sorrow and unending love for their sister in heaven.

And you’ll find that our house is not immaculate. Sure, we do the basic house work but have found there is so much more to life than stressing about weather all the toys are picked up, or the floors swept and mopped daily.

They may not look or act like they have it all together, but inside they are perfectly fit. The puzzle pieces of their soul are connecting at just the right moments, fertilizing that growing heart.

You see, our family has learned the hard way, what really matters in life.  Years ago, we didn’t realize the value of what we had until it was suddenly taken away from us.   We’ve reached the lowest of the lows together and are slowly crawling our way back out.   One day at a time, 8 years and counting.

Enduring my young daughter’s tragic death was a slap in the face to the life I was living.   One thing grief has taught me, from being at my lowest point in life, was to be humble.  I was humbled by the simplicity of this life, humbled by the blessings God has given me.  Contentment and gratitude rose to the forefront of my reality.  And it not only taught me, but my children as well.

Lately, the uneasy feeling of grief and friendships has hit my family pretty hard.   Hurt feelings from people you thought were friends, who turned out have never heard of the golden rule or believe it doesn’t to apply to them.  Observing my children question someone’s harsh words, not understanding this fleshly world we live in-I struggle to find words to offer as an explanation.

However, I can say that having your heart torn open and shattered beyond belief, makes you appreciate the life you have, fuels you to live it with a purpose and passion like never before. It’s crazy to think of how our family may not have understood these valuable lessons had our daughter not passed away.

We all need to experience frequent reality checks and to treat others with love and kindness. Most importantly, we need to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think-we are all  equal and unique in God’s eyes, made for a special purpose and nothing can ever change that.

So I leave you with this heartwarming quote from Proverbs 31 Ministries to ponder….

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Blessings-Reflections From A Mom Who Lost, Yet Won

It was November 27, 2002 and the clock had just turned past midnight. After a rigorous 24 hours of labor and nearly missing an emergency C-section, early this Wednesday morning my beautiful daughter Lydia Marie was born, weighing 8lbs 2 oz. and covered in a full head of dark hair.  Heavily medicated and exhausted, I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  I had a baby.  A daughter.  My heart was bursting with a gigantic love, one I had only ever read about.  She would be named after my great-great grandmother, Lydia.  Parents and friends sat anxiously in the waiting room for hours, fighting sleepiness, unwilling to leave until they were able to meet our precious baby girl.  She had a wonderful entrance into this amazing world; loved, adored, and cherished by so many. Little did I know, she would be the one to teach me the most valuable of life’s lessons, and only be here a short while.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

The day after her birth was Thanksgiving Day, and with a little coaxing the doctor, we were able to bring her home for the first time. My dad drove my car, fighting a blanket of thick fog, as Lydia and I snuggled in the back seat. As I carried my beautiful girl to the front door, I realized this was no longer my home, but now ours. It was so full of love as we were welcomed by our family, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, all eagerly awaiting our arrival. The amazing aromas of a delicious Thanksgiving dinner immediately overwhelmed me, and I was overtaken with the comfort and blessing of bringing my Lydia home.  Lydia was a tiny bundle of heartwarming love.  We passed her around like a little hot potato, each gawking at the awesomeness of new life.

 Everyone adored her, making me fight for time just to hold her that first weekend of her new life. She was so loved that no one wanted to give her up.  The first grandchild on my side of the family, spoiling her rotten was the only way, according to my mother.

When I looked in the mirror for the first time with my new title as “mom,” it revealed a transformed young woman, three years out of college, in the beginning of a career, learning how to navigate in this big world. In the midst of finding my way, this new life was suddenly handed to me.   I was unprepared, and unable to comprehend the immense gift I had just been given.  Lydia opened my heart to a new life, a new world I had never before imagined. What a fabulous day it was. The best day of my life.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

In 2008, Thanksgiving came rushing in, three months after she had passed away.  I must say, the last thing I felt like doing was gathering with a house full of people and I quickly grew to despise the word “happy,” and anyone who used it.  My heart was devastated and showed me excruciating pain I never knew possible.  For years, yes many years, I dreaded this day as I lived in a blanket of sadness and deep sorrow and looked with contempt towards others who were celebrating with delight.    

As the days and years progressed, slowly I began to evolve, hatching from my cocoon inviting sparks of hope into my life and soon, they out shadowed the darkness. I found myself smiling more, and counted the days in between the tears.  Progress was being made.  My faith was growing and glimmers of hope were blooming inside me.  I began to forego the judgmental self of previous days, learning to appreciate the struggles of others, understanding full well that each one of us is fighting a silent inner battle.  

 As our family gathers today, my heart reminds me that I would give anything to have all my children sitting around the table. Although she is not physically with us, she is with us in spirit. We talked, we laughed, we remembered her.  This year marked the 9th Thanksgiving without my girl.  Hard to believe it’s been that long. Time passes so quickly.  Yet, I soon was reminded that I am immensely blessed in life and grateful for His promise that I will see her again someday.

 www.grievinggumdrops.com

So, for all of you. Absolutely count your blessings.  Find something to be thankful each and every day. Serve others with love.  Life is so much better viewed through eyes of gratitude.  

Thanksgiving will always be a challenging time for me as I am flooded with years of memories of the precious time I had with my blonde haired blued eyed daughter, in which we celebrated her birthday as well.  Five years, eight months, and 16 days, she was mine and I was hers.  And nothing will ever change that.