Tag Archives: prayer

Are You Aware? Let’s Talk About It!

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Many months, or many individual days come with awareness titles. Each day, or month respectively, seek to bring awareness to a cause. Something near and dear to someone’s heart. Well, this month – and specifically also this day is no different. Before I get to that, I would like to say something though. I almost wish I could go back to the brand of naivety where I simply didn’t know or understand these things. But, I can’t. And, my prayer is that, after reading this post, you won’t be able to either. I want you to be aware of these things, as nothing will change until we start to talk about them. No stigmas will be removed by remaining silent.

September is awareness month for multiple things. But, near and dear to my heart are two very intensely painful and “special” ones.

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First, September is childhood cancer awareness month. The month we bring awareness to something so rampant, and so widespread – but yet so many people think it is rare. Kids get cancer too. So many children, my daughter included, have fought and died as a result of this monster. So many children fighting this fight every single day. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Cancer knows no race, ethnicity, gender, etc.  If you are interested in standing with us to raise awareness for all those who have, or who continue to battle this monster, we’d love it if you’d consider ordering a special t-shirt – created actually by my daughter and I while she was still alive, this side of Heaven.

Children need hope – especially those who have to fight for their lives in a battle with childhood cancer. What they need is awareness, funding, research, hope and a cure. It all starts with you being aware. No amount of awareness will bring my daughter back, but hopefully fundraising that provides research will provide the potential of new medications and therapies. My heart hurts, and it is my desire that no other parent know this kind of pain. The cold hard fact is this though – there have been no new childhood cancer protocols to save our babies lives in multiple decades. DECADES. the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute (NCI) plays a pivotal role in research, yet only approximately 4% percent of its annual budget is dedicated to childhood cancer. The result is that children are dying every day waiting for promising new treatments that lack funding. Our children deserve more than 4%.

There are multiple organizations (locally, and nationwide) where funds go directly to research and finding a cure. There are also several organizations that directly help the families with a child fighting cancer. If you need help finding a reputable place to make donations to, please ask – either here in comments, or via my contact me page. I’d be happy to help you find what makes sense for you – and will gladly share my own experience in those places who made a difference during our journey fighting childhood cancer alongside my daughter for the three years she fought.

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As we open our hearts, and fight for these little fighters all across the globe, we also need to open our hearts and fight for some other fighters. They don’t fight cancer – but, they fight other demons. You see, September is also suicide prevention and awareness month – with September 10th being Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. This is a day where the entire world locks arms and stands together, fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. It is this day and month, that we are more vocal. Talking about it. Giving a voice to those who feel they have none. I have personally been affected by suicide as well. I have lost people I love as a result of their taking their own lives, and have struggled with my own inability to see anything other than the intensely painful moments that just hurt. I have had suicidal thoughts, and I know that I was made for more than just the pain.

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If I were to take (or have taken) my own life when I couldn’t see beyond the pain, I wouldn’t be here to ask you to please stay. I’m here today, asking you to stay. Please stay to be surprised. Please stay for love – to love, and to BE loved. Please stay to know others, but to also be known. Please stay and know that you are loved – that your life matters, and that your life is a story – with chapters, yet to be written. Please don’t take a beautiful story away from those who need to hear it. You are not alone. Not now, not ever. I join my friends at To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) in asking you to stay, and find what you were made for.

So, on this day – and throughout this entire month, will you join me in talking about the topics hard to discuss? Will you reach out to anyone you might see that is hurting? Know that any small act of love, of compassion, of kindness – it might just save a life. If you see someone in pain – for whatever reason, be present. Care enough to not greet their pain with silence. You may not have the right words to say, and it’s alright.

If you are reading this right now, and find yourself feeling hopeless, please know that you are not alone. You don’t have to do this journey alone. Please reach out for help. You are worth it. Your story is worth it. The world needs you to be here. If you need help finding resources, feel free to post here in comments or contact me directly via my “contact me” page. Also, you can find helpful resources on TWLOHA’s page.

If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA.

I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I tell myself this often. I ask you to join me in raising awareness for these two causes this month. Let’s take it beyond just this month – and make it something we talk about regularly. It is only with open and honest communication that we even stand a chance at making a difference, and erasing the stigma(s) that keep us from talking about it – that same stigma that takes lives, and keeps people from seeking help. Let’s be the change our world needs. Let’s talk about it. Let’s do something. Let’s let love lead the way. Always, Remember The Love.

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Sleeping: I Was Paralyzed And Unable To Breathe

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I believe it was the first time I’ve watched myself fading, all from outside my body. I’ve felt similarly scary moments – but this took things a new level. 

As the title suggests, something disconcerting happened.  From a vantage point outside my body, I saw myself sleeping. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong. While this plays out before me like a tv show, I watched as I seemed to wake up, and tried to prop myself up with my elbows. As I watched, though, I noticed that I was unable to do anything, including breathe. I saw myself fading, and falling over – my head back onto the pillow. But. I could not breathe. My chest was not rising and falling. There weren’t breaths happening. At all. From just outside my body, I was frantically telling myself to breathe, while the me drifting out of consciousness almost was trying to move, scream for help, or just breathe. Instead, I could do nothing. 

Paralyzed, I fairly frantically said, “God, help me breathe. I just, I NEED to take a breath. Will you just help me breathe?” A split second later, I inhaled, saw and felt something impossible to put into words (pretty colors, light, warmth, etc.), and then was back in my body. Forcing myself to breathe. I woke up, and continued breathing, with no real troubles after that.

What happened? I don’t know. But, what I do know is this. I was not supposed to die. Not then, and not like that. No one knows their time, but I just knew that wasn’t it. 

This experience has done something else also. It has opened my eyes. As a result, I have drawn parallels to life. More specifically, mental health and illness. Living. Not just living, but also death and dying. Those things, in connection with the Creator of the entire universe. God. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. Him. How they all relate and connect. 

Just as I cried out to Him for physical help, to help the breath in my lungs keep flowing – to help me just catch a breath — just as I asked Him for that help, He’s just as available and just as willing to help me through other struggles. Through life’s toughest seasons. Through crisis. Through not wanting to live. Through feeling swallowed whole; feeling empty and heavy. He’s still there. Waiting. He needs an invitation to help us. 

I know that I have felt more pain than I care to admit. And, there have been times I’ve questioned so much about even the very presence of God. I couldn’t feel Him anymore than the knight in shining armor of some fairy tale. Unlike in a fairy tale, that doesn’t negate His existence. He’s God. He isn’t the one who changes. We do. I know I do. 

As I make conscious decisions to ask Him to help me breathe a little more often, I’m already feeling a lot less like I was having to learn to breathe again – sometimes grasping to have breath in my lungs. As I learn to trust Him in these desperate times, I feel less paralyzed and overwhelmed by talon like grips of depression. I am learning to take my own thoughts captive, instead of allowing the opposite to happen. As I retrain myself to change perspective, reframe my thinking, and keep my eyes on Him, I’m finding hope and healing in a way I had given up thinking even possible. 

I’m not where I want to be yet, and I  haven’t put it all into practice, but I will try. And I will keep trying. I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I welcome your thoughts and prayers, and your love and support – in whatever way, and in whatever picture that looks like. I need you, and I want to think you need me too. Let’s continue to do this thing called life together. Never alone.  

Hopeful Expectancy – It’s Time To Start Dreaming Again

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It is no secret that I have struggled with the idea that hope, often times, seems elusive. Pain from trauma, brokenness, grief, mental illness, etc – that pain can be so intense it’s blinding. It removes hope as a word in our vocabulary. It insists that hope for anything beyond the pain isn’t a thing – that it never really was. It ensures we cannot remember what hope even feels like. It says hope isn’t real, at least not for me. I’ve also come to realize that this is dangerous, and false thinking – simply put: hope never goes anywhere. Yes, our life’s experiences that allow for that temporary blindness that makes hope appear to play a mean game of hide and seek – with us consistently losing. I urge you, however, to remember that hope is still real, and it always will be. Yes, I’m speaking to myself as much as the next person reading.

Today, however, something pretty interesting happened. I will explain more specific details in a future post, but I will say this. I was at a very low point today, and – if I’m being honest – the same can be said for plenty of the time recently. I have been questioning the meaning of life, in combination with the actual desire to keep on walking. To keep breathing. It’s been a struggle, trying to simply be, and live with the intensity of the pain. Instead of getting easier to navigate and deal with over the course of time, it’s been getting intensely more difficult. I have questioned my ability to keep fighting. Life shouldn’t be a fight.

Today, I was feeling really very overwhelmed, like giving up – and just, hurting. Instead of forcing myself to deal with it on my own, I reached out to a trusted friend. I will write more about this friend in time, but it became a moment, inspired by God Himself. That is not something I say lightly. But, it is something I say absolutely, with no doubt, was orchestrated by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  Grace took on the form of human connection, and reminded me of hope. And smiles. And laughter. Even tears. But, more than that, reminded me of the life saving grace and love that God offers.

This day especially, I needed this reminder. Had I forgotten who God was, or all He’s done in countless lives, mine included? Absolutely not. Had I been blinded by the pain, so I was unable to see or focus on Him at all? Yes, more than I care to admit.

But, the beauty of it all? Hope arrived. Though it never actually left, it did become real again. I would be lying if I said all was now a bed of roses, and all my thoughts and feelings are suddenly all totally better. I would be telling a tall tale if I told you that I now have it all figured out, due to this magical conversation with a friend. Though, I will say that the conversation was absolutely a tool God used to penetrate some dark places – to shine light on hope again; to allow for hope to arrive. What did happen, was beautiful indeed. I dared to allow myself to hope again.

Then, like a healing balm applied to a painful wound, a word was beginning to take form, and be etched in my heart. Expectancy. More than that, to live with hopeful expectancy. That is a change from where I am right now. It became a moment of deciding to choose not to live life comfortably – a moment where I chose (and will continue to choose) to dismiss the status quo. I realized, I really do want more than just the pain that life has offered. I know there has to be more out there. I will not give up on it.

You see, just last night, I was listening to this same  previously mentioned friend talk about dreaming. That our dreams are possible. While he was speaking, something broke inside me though. It was at that moment that I realized that I do not really have a lot of dreams – big or small. I haven’t been dreaming anymore. This really bothered me. But, I didn’t have the answer – the “how to” on dealing with it.

During my conversation today, though, That word, expectancy – it became real again. It is taking up residence in my heart, and is helping me grow my thinking.  It is helping me believe that not only is hope real, but also that dreaming is possible again. I haven’t really dissected this all that much yet. I haven’t sat down and really put much more thought into it, but I am going to.  I need to be in a different place than I am right now, and I can already tell it will require re-framing of my own thoughts. Re-framing reality even.

So, even though I don’t have it all figured out – I say that’s okay. I have something much greater: hopeful expectancy. That, in combination with my faith in a God who loves – that, is where I believe life change will begin to happen. That is where I see hope growing and thriving. That is where redemptive grace takes hold, and doesn’t let go. For this, I am grateful.

With this, I say, let’s get to dreaming. Never let your dream(s) die. If you aren’t dreaming, it’s time to rekindle the fire that says to not give up, and to never stop dreaming. You’ve got this. I’ve got this. Together, we can change the world. Maybe not the entire world (maybe so though) but we can change our individual world. That is worth hopeful expectation.

Dream big.

Facing Life After Death – Walking Through Life’s Unbearable Moments

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This child. This courageous fighter embodied strength combined with love. She knew and showed compassion. Though she faced insurmountable odds, she gave the world so many gifts – love, hope, compassion, joy, and so many other beautiful things. She leaves a beautiful legacy of love.

Last night, I had the opportunity to spend time on the oncology floor at our Children’s hospital. If you know my story at all, you know that my daughter died (13 months ago today) from brain cancer. She spent a great deal of time on this very same oncology floor. So, to be admitted with her older brother – it was difficult. When I introduce this paragraph as this being an opportunity, I did so intentionally. I had the chance to feel things that needed feeling.

With regards to being on that floor again – it was quite a mixture of emotions. Each and every emotion you could have, I did. I was angry. I was happy. I was sad. I had joy. I knew deep pain. I knew incredible love. It hurt so much. But, there was so much beauty. I was able to see the love in those walls. Empathy and compassion on the faces of nurses who remember Janet, and who remember the love. I was stopped once, and asked if I was Janet’s mom. That was such a heartbreaking and more than that – heartwarming moment. She was there the night before Janet died, and she remembers. She’ll never forget my baby. I saw another nurse this morning that also knew Janet well. No magical words, but compassionate eyes. We did talk, and it did my heart good. They still care. They’ll never forget her either. My heart needed to feel the pain, but to also feel the love.
 
I kinda think each and every day, all of life, is this way as well. Think about it. As I have said so many times before – I KNOW that I feel the deep pain that I do because of deeply rooted love. If you look at ANY passion or emotion, look at the polar opposite emotion. Usually, you can find them attached at the hip. Weakness is attached to strength. Hope to hopeless. Broken to healing. Etc., etc., etc…
 
I want to encourage you guys with some encouragement that has been life – giving to me. As we all know I stand on the FACT that it is okay to not always be okay. More than that, it’s okay (make that vital) to feel what we need to feel. If we hurt, allow ourselves to feel. There’s that fine line, though, of not staying in that place forever.
 
If you need to know that you are not alone, allow me to be the voice that says, “me too.” No matter what you are walking through, know that you are walking THROUGH it. I know that you may be struggling with the most horrific pain you have ever experienced. Is it the same as my pain? No, not always? But, also, yes – perhaps. Either way, pain (like love) is a universal language. It speaks. Will you listen?? I will. Maybe you don’t need words. Maybe you just need someone to be willing to sit, even virtually, with you in your pain. That is a gift that has been offered to me, and it’s an outstretched arm I also offer.
 
I would also like to offer this tidbit. As a bereaved mother, I want you to know – any of you reading this, it is an honor to walk alongside you on your journey as well. Do I enjoy pain? No. But, there is great healing (for me) in doing life alongside other people. It gives me great purpose to be able to say, “I may not get exactly what you are going through, but it’s an honor to sit with you in this pain,” and mean it. I still consider it a distinct honor to walk alongside parents with children fighting cancer – at the beginning of their journey, or even in their final moments. Does it hurt? Absolutely. Is it hard? Without a doubt. Is it worth it? Absolutely, positively, without a doubt. I said all that to say this, PLEASE connect and reach out. Though I have walked through some very painful seasons, it gives me tremendous purpose to use our experience(s) to share hope, compassion and love with others.
 
So, in the event you ever need help, know that help exists. You aren’t alone, and you matter. You are valued and loved. Please give yourself the ability to feel what you need to feel, to be honest and to give your heart a voice. It is then, and only then, that healing can begin.
 
If you would like to talk to me, I am here. Reach out. If you have a friend who has a friend fighting cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a wealth of knowledge, and though it sucks, it’s an honor to share experience(s) with those walking through similar life experiences. If you’re just hurting, and your heart needs a voice, I’m here. A non-judgmental, listening ear.
 
To all who continue to surround our family with your thoughts and prayers – know that we are, and forever will be grateful. The love and encouragement you continue to share – there is so much strength found there. Thank you for, forever and always, for you reaching out and being able to #RememberTheLove. It brings me strength, and does my heart good.

Spiritual Recovery Group – Who Needs That!? 

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I want to share this opportunity with you. Before you shut down at the word opportunity, please keep reading. Give me a couple minutes of your time. YOU are worth it. 

When you read a title about spiritual recovery, you might have laughed to yourself like I did when I was told about the group. That all changed when I took the time to dig deeper, and really understand the value of what was being offered. I will share briefly why this is so, SO very important to me. 

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, it should come as no surprise that I am hurting – in about a billion places, for nearly as many reasons. My heart is shattered, and I feel disconnected and broken in too many areas. I often feel as if I don’t even know who I am anymore – especially when it comes to being a Christ follower, a Christian. 

My daughter passed away five months ago after a three year battle with a one of a kind brain cancer. That does something to your soul. To every aspect of your life, if we’re being honest. To say that I’ve lost faith is inaccurate. To say that I have completely unwavering faith – also somewhat inaccurate. To say there are days I’d kinda like to punch God in the face – accurate! To say I have so many questions, and no clue how to navigate them – completely accurate. 

I am at a place that I recognize the need for clarity. I grew up around church my whole life. I had, and still have faith. However, recently, I became aware that my faith want built on a very strong foundation. I have realized the need to own my own faith. I no longer desire to follow blindly. As such, I’m finding the desperate need for digging deeper, researching more, and not only knowing that I have faith – but the why behind my faith. 

Enter this spiritual recovery group. 

This group offers an incredible amount of hope to me personally. I joined this group, and would like to offer you the same opportunity. 

Because the life and legacy my seven year old daughter leaves – one of hope, grace and especially love – I wanted to also share that there are now two partial scholarships available. The cost of the course is $149, but two people are now able to attend for just $75. Would you be one of these two people to join me? 

From the website offering this online group:

As a former  youth pastor and worship leader, I know how deep the words of well-meaning people can cut. Even after Bible college and ten years of traditional ministry, I was secretly addicted to pornography. And when all of my mess became public, it seemed my family was too messy for the church. My desire for this recovery group is to help people take off the mask of performance-based Christianity, find healing for their wounds, and move forward.

Here’s a sad fact: the church is often too scared or ill-prepared to tackle the hard topics.But our lack of engagement with broken people is literally killing God’s children. The good news? I have been re engaging my faith and the local church for the past four years, and I can tell you that refusing to live like a victim has changed my life. Recovery isn’t easy, but second chances are possible for you…and the church.

Who is this group for?

  • Someone longing to engage their faith after years of being disconnected from the local church.
  • A person wanting to engage the local church again but in need of clear boundaries.
  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness and is scared of what the church will say.
  • A member of the LGBTQ community who fears they can no longer belong to a faith community.
  • Someone in a crisis of faith.
  • Anybody who feels “soul confusion” and is longing for clarity, belonging, and hope that God is still listening.



For me, I personally fit into multiple categories listed above in the “who is this group for” section. 

I know this is a group beneficial to not only me, but countless others who may be lost, hurt, broken, unsure, or any number of other emotions. Would you like to join me? I’d love to walk through this experience with you. If you are unable to afford the full price, please don’t let that be your stopping point. 

You can reach out here in comments, email me directly via the contract me page. Or, you can reach out to Steve Austin, on the blog post he shares about the group, and also scholarship opportunity

No matter if you join this group, or where you are in your faith journey, please don’t do it alone. You aren’t alone. Allow others to walk with you. You deserve it, as do those you’ll do life with! 

The Letter I Wish She Could Read

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To anyone who may read this – this is going to be a letter I write to my 7 heart old daughter Janet. She passed away three day before Valentine’s Day, 2016, after a three year fight with brain cancer.  I have no idea how long this will be, but I have so much on my mind. You don’t have to read it – but do please feel free. I am not going to edit or even change grammar or spelling errors because, frankly, I don’t want to. I’m writing on/from my cell phone, and so God knows (and so do several of you) that I’m probably going to say any number of things that might not compute! I love you all. Thank you for being here. And for all you love, support, thoughts and prayers! 
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Oh, precious Janet! I love you so much, sweet girl. I will always and forever #RememberTheLove. Like I told you before you took your final breath this side of Heaven, we do miss you like crazy – like there’s no tomorrow! But, just like I followed that up with this then, I will now say that we are okay. The reason we’re okay is because we have each other. We still have you here with us, just only in our hearts. 
I’m not going to lie – sweetheart. This has been the hardest I’ve ever felt. Some days are so much harder than others. You know what I’m learning? That’s just the way it is. I do know this, though. If you were able to, you’d give me a gigantic squeezy hug. You did those the best. You’d tell me it’s okay, and you’d wipe away my tears. I know this. Sorry. I’m just missing you. 
I’ve learned so much about myself, other people, life, and even God. I think you’d be proud. I hope so, at least. God knows I’m also not perfect. But I know you’d remind me how much you love me and no matter what, that wouldn’t change. I said that to you all the time – and you picked up on or, and knew when to say it to me. 
I’m so so sorry we couldn’t do more to save you. I know it’s not my fault. But I still wish. So much. I just feel so broken. My heart hurts so much sometimes. I hate this pain, and how much it hurts. But them I remember that it hurts so bad because we shared so much love. The love you shared with me will forever be in my heart. 
I’ve been listening to a lot of music. I know how much music meant to you. It makes me smile. 
Guess what else? If you were sitting beside me, I know we’d talk about this. I’m learning a lot right now, especially about God, and my faith. Also about love, and compassion – and this messy thing called messy grace. I learned so much about this thing called messy grace at an incredible place – a blog written by my friend Steve. There is also a really neat messy grace community Facebook group that are just a bunch of people that love people just where they are. That helped me too! They just love people really well, and they share so much of this messy grace with everyone. I mean it, Janet. EVERYONE! I bet that would make you giggle. Just all this talk about messy grace! Hehe. 
I wanna tell you a little bit about the things I’ve been thinking about and realizing. I’ve been telling Jeremy and James this, so I’d tell you too. 
I’m starting to see just how much God loves us. I’m finding out a lot about my own faith in God. I know, you’d smack my hand if I told you I wanted to punch God in the face some days. I’m not doing to lie, baby. It makes me so mad at Him sometimes because you weren’t healed here on Earth. But, I’m so so so happy that you got to meet Jesus. I know that even just hours before you took that last breath, you smiled because you knew it was almost time. 
Anyway, I’ve decided to live my life in a little bit different of a way. I’ve decided it’s time to own my faith. What that means I’d I know what things I believe, but I just realized I didn’t always know why. Do you understand? I know you do. I don’t want to have what’s called blind faith. I just mean that – you know, when a person is blind, they can’t see. Well, I don’t want to believe things with my eyes closed. I want to believe them for myself – not because someone else tells me to. It’s more important than that. 
One of the biggest things that my heart needs, and wants other people to understand, is love. Love can move mountains. I bet that would make you laugh – silly mommy. But live is such a big thing. I know you knew that though. 
The world we live in right now needs so much more love. One thing going on right now is so many people aren’t showing people love very well. I know, you would ask why, and it would make you sad. Baby, it makes me sad too. 
One thing going on is the LGBTQ+ community. I know, those letters sounds silly. What those letters are talking about are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and the plus is for all the other things in between. Lesbians are when girls like or love and want to marry other girls. Being gay is like the same thing, but with boys who like other boys. Bisexual is when a boy likes boys and girls, and also if girls like girls or boys. Transgender people are people who feel like they were born in the wrong body. They might be a person who was born with boy parts, but has always felt like that was a mistake. And even sometimes girls are born with a vagina, but they always feel like they were supposed to be a boy. Queer is kind of hard to explain. Not really, I don’t guess. It just means anything but straight. Straight people are when a man loves a woman, or a woman loves a man. But, when a person is queer, they can like it love anyone. The Q also can stand for questioning. For a lot of people, there is a time when they start to question and explore who they think are nice and that they might want to get to know better and maybe love. 
This community is in the news a lot lately. It makes me sad, and I know it would make you sad too. One thing that makes me sad is that people don’t treat people very nicely. I think you’d be super proud to help me with this next thing. I know how much loving people means to you. You would want to help me love people well. ALL people. 
See, you know we go to church. I have figured something out, sweetheart. Not our church, but so many different churches aren’t doing very well in how they love people. I know, you probably can’t understand that! It’s crazy! Cause, God wants us to love every single person – even if they look different, or live different, or if they marry differently. But so many people don’t love people like that. They only love the people they understand. It makes me sad about this LGBTQ+ community because they are very special too. The Bible does talk about homosexuality (that is when two people who are either both boys or both girls love each other and want to be a family) and says in some places that it’s wrong. A lot of churches even tell them that they can’t be a Christian because of the way that they love people. 
I’m going to tell you this. I don’t really believe that’s true. I know there are a lot of people who may not like that I say that. And they may not believe it. Some may even get mad. But, I think they can come to Jesus and all Him (like you did) to come into their heart and be a part of their life. What happens after that is between that person and God. I’m not God. (I know! That’s funny for me to say!) But, I’m not Him and I can’t really tell you how He will act or react. But what I do think is that He will love them very well. You know how I feel about God, and when people want to know Him more. He welcomes people right where they are. That is what I think. 
I want to help people, all people, even in the church to love all people well — not just the people that they agree with. See, I’ve told you this so many times. As people who love Jesus, (we call them Christians or Christ followers) we are asked (by God Himself) to be like the hands and feet of Jesus. Kind of like if Jesus was here, we should act how He acted. Even to people we don’t think deserve love. When Jesus was alive as a person on the earth, He would be deleted with so many people. He loved people well. He would even hang out with really sick people, people who would break the law, and even really mean people. Just like I told you a lot, Christians need to act like Jesus because sometimes we’ll be the only Jesus they might ever see. We need to act like him, and treat people like He would. It makes me so happy when people really do that. 
So, I just think everyone, even and especially Christ followers, need to be known by how we love people, not by all the things don’t like. It’s all about the love, and I hope so many more people can start to #RememberTheLove. With ALL people. 
Janet, I love you more than The World – to the moon and back. Your Daddy, James and Jeremy also miss you so much. We all do. People we’ve never even met love and miss you! Oh, and I was looking at some special notes that your friends from school wrote to you when you were here, and even some notes from every single kid in the first grade work you. That miss you so much too! Evie. I know how much you loved her. I do too. Her whole family is just amazing. Every time I see Evie, I get a great big squeezy hug. She always tells me how much she loves you, and misses you. Do you know how happy that makes me? I’m so happy she likes to give me hugs. Oh, did you know, she cut off her pretty long hair so she could donate her hair to another little person like you were. I know why both of you got along so well. I hope that we can stay friends with her whole family, forever. Me and Jeremy got to go with her to get her hair cut. I will share pictures here after I make sure her mommy doesn’t care. 

You always knew how much you were loved though. So these special people like here in your page (who I love so so much too) also pray for our family all the time. I know I’d make it somehow, but you being in Heaven is even bearable because of all these friends and all the people who love us, and who pray for us. I know that makes you happy too!
I guess I will stop writing now. I want you to know how much I love you, and I always will. I miss you, baby – but I’m smiling now. I’m so happy that even though you were here with us on earth for only seven years, I’m so proud to be your mommy. You James and Jeremy make me so happy. I’m smiling right now because I remember so many really happy and special times. I love you! Forever!

Life Changing Love And Grace

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If you know me at all, or just happened to stumble on yesterday’s blog post – then it will not come as a surprise that I struggle with depression. Some days, it feels so dark – crippling even. There have been points in my life (like yesterday) where hope plays a better game of hide and seek than any child I’ve ever known! The emotions that surround these moments lead to intensely painful times. It is what is done during those exact moments that either sustain life or make you want to see it end. I know that sounds dramatic – but anyone who has hurt so deeply can unfortunately relate to that in some way, shape, or form.

Now what I’d like to offer you, is a perspective different than I was able to see, or even comprehend yesterday. This will highlight the importance of friendship, love, grace, and the ability to be real. Even when “real” hurts.

Let me be honest. Yesterday, something just broke inside me. That’s the best way I can put it. I felt a pain with intensity of the blazing sun. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic. But, the point is this – I was hurting in a way I hadn’t ever felt. The realization that life was this vicious cycle broke me to the core. Suddenly, I felt all semblance of hope has all but disappeared. But, what happened next would change that all. It would open up the door, even a crack, for hope to come back in. It never snuck out, but I was unable to find it. The fact of the matter is that grief and depression clouded my eyes, and how everything appeared.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that things aren’t always going to be good, okay even. They’ll sometimes suck more than anyone wants to admit. Even in those times, I’m learning that it’s not only just helpful, but vital to my very survival to reach out, and not allow myself to face those moments alone. Let me explain the shape my last 24 hours took. (in all actuality, this will not be complete until the morning because lack of sleep is rapidly catching up with me!)

And, so now I pick up where I left off! (I’m exhausted, as I – quite literally – didn’t sleep at all last night. So, tonight should be an early bedtime!)

As intense as my pain was – I still (thankfully) realized the need to surround myself with people. I reached out and either called our messaged those who were available.

My friend Jayson shared an incredible example of how to – even knowing the hard times would be lurking around the corner – still find joy and beauty in the good times. I can’t paraphrase and better than he did, so (with his permission) I will quote him.

Imagine you’re going on an exotic vacation (yeah, me either . . . but let’s pretend). So you have a week in this wonderful place, but you know you’re going to have to go back to work in a week.

You can either be constantly thinking “Only 5 more days until I am back in the grind.” Or you can make the choice to put work out of your mind and just enjoy the repast.

I kind of think of it as the same thing. If I am enjoying a peak, but constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop I am cutting of the height of the peak. Does that make sense?

The valleys stay just as low, but I am ruining the vista from the mountaintops because I’m constantly telling myself “at any moment this is all going to be ruined.”

Sometimes that attitude actually seems to hasten my low points.

It takes some work, but you need to learn to be a hedonist when the opportunity presents itself. It’s completely okay to enjoy the pleasure and break from the darkness.

Even reading that all over again brings such peace. It showed me a couple of things. In reality, I’m not the only person in the world who hurts, and has had similar thought processes. It also opened my eyes, and helped me simply focus differently. I was able to see beauty and truth in what he said.

As my heart felt crushed, and I begged to feel something other than pain, I spoke with another friend. I was asked how things were going, and I explained honestly how I felt. It was explained that they couldn’t relate to or even understand the hurt I felt – but would hold my hand, and sit with me in the pain. That alone have my heart peace and small (yet huge) amounts of healing.

Another odd experience was when I stumbled on a new friends blog. I read just one blog post, and it grabbed my heart. I read and tears decided to go on mass exodus from my leaky tear ducts. It was a reply from the blog author that till me by surprise. He asked if I had joined the facebook group. I hadn’t heard of it, let alone joined it. With that, and very little searching later, I found a link that I would never regret clicking on.

It was a closed facebook about a tribe – a gigantic family/community that welcomed all people – without regard to social, marital, religious, sexual or any other status or identity. This, all in the name of grace. I was assured that all were welcome in that place – all in the name of messy grace. It’s saying that, no matter where you are, or how you got there – that you wouldn’t be judged, but WOULD be loved. For who you are, where you area – right now.

Truth be had, I was in a very dark place, but I instantly felt safe there. I opened up a small amount, and was immediately welcomed as a friend. I felt loved. Immediately, nothing really changed. However, the more I shared my personal hell, and the more my broken heart escaped and turned into words on a page – the more I felt drawn in and loved. And true kind of love that had no expectations in return. It was indeed a safe place. A shelter for the wounded, while also being a church for the hurting, a party for the celebrating – and a love fest for all who came by. Yes, I saw it. It was all those things. But, for me personally it was a place I was allowed to hurt, and to just BE. Friendships were born in an instant. Even as the night went on, there was always a person with a listening non-existant judgemental ear. And quite a few kind words that enveloped me with love. It was so tremendously healing.

Last night, I was also invited to join a twitter live chat. It was one where all were welcome, and none turned away. The chat was about church and mental health. I didn’t even really know how it all worked – I just jumped in there and answered the questions asked, and connected with others who also replied. It was clearly evident that it was authentic community as well. Everyone brought their own life and pain to the table. It was crystal clear to me that love was the driving force. To just be together, and to connect in a way – exactly where any number of us were in those moments.

I believe that the message I am trying to say is that – even if I hurt, and even if I feel as if life has nothing but pain and heartbreak to offer – it also has love and hope. Offered freely. I can speak for myself when I say that I understand how easy it is to lose sight – to essentially become blind and completely miss hope, grace and love.

People – who start as complete strangers (if I choose to allow) – can surround me during whatever brand of personal hell I’m walking through. To be loved through the pain speaks a language I was unaware that existed in such a way.

All this leads up to the concept that you aren’t EVER alone in your struggles. During the times you feel life is too overwhelming to even keep walking – it is then that you need to allow others the honor of holding your hand, and helping you take even baby steps when you feel unable to walk on your own. Please,  PLEASE reach out. You are worth it. Hope IS real, and often will come disguised as other hurting people who will love and hold you. You may think it’s difficult (I do!) but I assure you. It is worth it. You are worth it.

You are a living story – one with more pages, yet to be written.

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