Tag Archives: rescue

Traversing A Tornado – When Life Seems Like A Whirlwind

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This past week, I cannot count the number of times I heard that it just felt like we were being caught up in a whirlwind. I can relate. 

You see, my big brother died last week. There are still more questions than there are answers. The pain associated with his death seems unbearable some moments.

 

When I look at this picture, and one I’ll share in a few moments, I’m a mixture of emotions. I smile, and I cry. You see, he was just 40 years old. He’s supposed to still be here. My big brother. 

I wrote, and had the honor of reading a eulogy at his funeral. It was not without tears, but it was also not without giggles. Fitting for the dichotomy that walks alongside losing someone you love. The following words are my hearts voice: 

Steven was a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, he was my big brother. He is a son, a grandchild, a nephew, husband, daddy, an uncle, and a friend. He was my friend. 

If you knew him, you’d know he wasn’t any cookie cutter mold of what society thinks of as normal. But, that’s what made him, well, him. He could be out there at times, but he was passionate. He had such a tremendous heart. He loved his family deeply, and he valued himself as a protector. He would do just about anything for those he loved. 

I know that many of us feel like this is a nightmare, one we wish we could simply wake up from. It feels so surreal, and it’s hard to even believe at this point. 

In his honor and memory, I would like to ask and challenge each person here to live life on purpose. Be intentional with your time. Love people like tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell them you love them. Make sure you know what they mean to you. Treat people with compassion and kindness, and make sure people know their value. 

None of us know how much we mean to others. But when I looked around the room last night at the visitation, and I look around the room right now, I see love. I see people who my big brother touched in some way, shape or form. He had a tremendous impact on this earth, and his absence this side of Heaven leaves a giant Steven shaped hole in a lot of hearts. Nothing can or ever will take his place. And it shouldn’t. 

One of the last things I want to leave you with is a reminder. It’s okay to not always be okay. It’s okay to hurt, and to mourn a loss of someone pretty incredible. Just don’t stay in that place forever. Connect with other people, and connect with hope. Celebrate that he lived, don’t only mourn that he died. 

Please, do not ever forget my big brother. Let’s always strive to remember all the good, or even downright amusing moments that bring joy and make us smile or laugh. Those same moments may also bring tears at times, and that’s okay. 

Heaven welcomed an incredible person, and I’m proud to be his little sis. I know we’ll all miss him greatly, but we’ll be okay somehow, because we have each other, and none of us will carry his loss alone. Thank you.

I meant every word. Though miles apart, we knew love. He often joked that I was his little big sister, because he was able to come to me with “some really big shit” and he knew I would be honest, and I would help him in any way I could. He also knew he could trust me to tell him the truth, even if he didn’t really want to hear it. 

That’s what love is. Love does. It’s an action word. My brother walked through hell on earth, but he wasn’t alone as he traversed his tornados. Even literal tornados – just ask me about his treehouse one day. 

Just as he wasn’t alone, none of us traverse life’s most difficult whirlwinds alone. 

I won’t lie though; right now, life feels really heavy. It hurts. I think of Heaven, and I long for the reunion(s) that will one day happen there. But, reality then sets in, the here and now reminds me that life isn’t always fair, fun, or even good – and sometimes I’m just sad, really sad. And, I know that’s okay too. 

I will echo something I’ve said a lot of times. I firmly believe we were created as community people. To know others, and to be known. To love, and to be loved. The key here is: not alone. I’ve been reminded a great deal very recently – it’s okay to not always be okay. 

Grief needs to happen, and what grief looks like is very individual. If you’re sad, know that it’s okay. If you’re hurting, know that the pain won’t always feel as intense as it does in these moments. I’m there. I get it. These words are as much for me as the next person reading this. 

With that all in mind, let me share an open invitation: please walk with me. Don’t greet my pain with silence. Give my heart a voice, even if that voice may be a little shaky. I need you. 

And let me offer that same hand of friendship – If you need someone who won’t ever give up on you, and who will simply sit with you in your pain- allow me that honor. 

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When A Concert Is More Than Just Good Music

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I went to a concert last night. I didn’t have the money to get in the doors, but I still went. I wanted to be there, and I knew I needed to be there. Music is one of a few safe places in my life right now. There was an individual, my friend Dan (from DCA Events) who knew a bit of my story, and invited me in. I didn’t have the money, and he knew it. He said words that probably set the tone for the entire evening. He said this, “It’s not about a concert. It’s about Jesus.” I already had tears streaming down my face at this point, and he invited me into the concert and (without a seat at the time) I just stood at the back. I watched, and I cried. Concerts are also something my daughter and I very much enjoyed going to before she died last year. So, the emotions surrounding that also were fighting for their place. I think I cried more last night than I have, ever, in any concert. It was healing, but it also hurt.

This is a tour called Worship In The Round, and featured Building 429, Josh Wilson, and Chris August. I’ve seen Chris August a couple of times before, but never the others. There was also a guy, Adam Weber, who I’d later learn was the pastor of a church with multiple campuses out of state.

Something happened there though. In my heart. Sadly, I didn’t magically find all this hope that has seemingly gone on an extended vacation. But, what I did find was a safe place. Music is still that. I heard words and messages of hope. Of love. Of faith. Of Jesus. I heard all those things. The only dilemma I have right now, is finding the strength to keep holding onto those messages. I need them to be more than great words that exist in the here and now, but vanish like a vapor. At an intermission of sorts, I saw a friend from church. When she saw me, she made her way over to me, and she gave me a hug, and simply held me as I cried. And cried. That was kind, and so needed. I didn’t know how much it was needed until I just sat there in tears.

What happened after the show, more than any moment during the concert itself, is what sparked something in my heart. The guys were all out signing autographs. I took the time to make my way to each one, including the dude I came to realize was a pastor. The show itself was incredibly impactful, but what happened after became personal.

You see, I’ll start with him. Adam Weber. I actually ran into him before the show, or before I went in. In passing, he asked if I was okay. I didn’t lie. I told him I wasn’t and he said something about all having days like that. I had no idea who he was at that point, just some dude passing in the hallway. But, from the stage, he was talking about prayer. More than that, about how prayer was not some foreign language we have yet to learn. Instead, it’s carrying on a conversation with God, as if He is a friend sitting next to you. He shared a few thoughts, and I listened to every single one. My heart was open to the hope in his words. So, afterwards, I took a few moments and I talked to him. In a brief nutshell, I shared where I was with my daughter having died, with hopelessness in ways, and with my faith. Had I known he was a pastor, I am not sure I’d have said all that. But, it didn’t matter. I did. He wasn’t condescending, but his words were filled with love. He asked if I had told God all those things. More than that, he thanked me for sharing the things I did with him. He valued our conversation, and that was special.

Next, I had the opportunity to talk to Chris August. First, I showed him a silly picture of him and my son from 2011. He signed his forehead, and it was a fun, candy filled memory. (My son had every visible part of him – his face, neck, and his arms signed that evening.) He mentioned that he doesn’t always remember everything from all his shows, but that one still sticks in his memory banks. (It might or might not have anything to do with the fact that Timehop reminds me of these things, and so I share with him each year. haha) But, I was able to just be real. I showed him a picture of my sweet little girl, and shared the pain attached to her death. I talked to him briefly about my life, and what led me to where I was and some of the why. He took the time to listen, and to let me know that where I was, was okay. I was able to do something I’ve wanted to do for some time, simply say thank you to him. His heart is for and with people.

Then I had the opportunity as Jason, from Building 429 was about to walk out of the room – to talk to him. I felt bad, cause I knew he was getting ready to leave. But, I asked for a moment of his time. I wanted him to hear my words. Mostly my thanks. I didn’t have anything for him to sign. I told him thank you for doing what he does, and he asked what was going on with me. His fault. He took the time, and he asked. haha. So, there were the tears from the whole evening. Back again like a faithful friend. He asked if he could give me a hug, and briefly held me as I just cried. Poor guy. That was not my intention, but nor could it be prevented in that moment. I explained some of the why behind the pain, and where my hope was, or wasn’t. And, my faith too. It was a brief, but very transparent and I guess pretty vulnerable conversation. He asked about what support I had, and then he asked if he could pray with me right then. That was powerful, and the tears refused to not overflow. The prayer itself was powerful, sure, but that he simply took the time. He reminded me that I was not alone. He asked my name, and then shared that they’d pray for me on this tour. Tears aplenty.

After more of the crowd vanished, I saw the opportunity to also speak with Josh Wilson. For an odd change of pace, I was somewhat speechless. It was a fight with those tears. They wanted to be known too. All I could manage to say was thank you, for his music and for sharing his story. It wasn’t a star struck sort of speechless either. There were tears. It was an overwhelming feeling, hard to put into words, culminating from the entire evening. I was feeling some sort of stirring. Something in my heart. There were, again, tears that refused to not make their presence known. I did manage to share some of my struggles with him, even feelings not of suicide, but of wishing that I was already in Heaven. And, like the others, he listened. Mostly, he reminded me that it’s okay. Where I am right now, it’s okay. The pain I have, it’s okay. If my words forgot their filters, he wasn’t offended, and heard my heart, and pain. And, he also reminded me that God has broad shoulders, and can take it too. If I’m mad, it’s okay. If I hurt, if…any of those ifs…to talk to Him about it. I might or might not be at a place that I can do that right now. But, the point all boiled down to the fact that the things I felt, the emotions I had, they were okay. I’m not broken beyond repair, even though it often feels that way. He, again, reminded me that life is precious, and that I am too. That people need me, that I am here for a purpose, that I matter, and also that I’m not alone.

The one constant thing amongst conversation with all of them was this. They were unafraid of my tears and my pain. They didn’t run for the hills, and they didn’t hide. They saw me. It wasn’t a ton of time, but they took the time to just be with me in those moments. My seeming lack of faith didn’t make them look at me as less of a person. They were bold, encouraging, and they heard me. I can’t explain what that did in my heart, but it was undeniable. I was no longer alone in a giant crowd of people. They became the hands and feet of Jesus, in human form. They reminded me that, even if I couldn’t see beyond the pain, that it was okay. Ultimately, where I am right now is okay. In different ways, each one of them reminded me that life continues to be worth fighting, worth living, and that even if simply putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to walk was all I could do – that it was enough.

So, folks, that’s where I am right now. You can take a look at yesterday’s post and get a general feel for where I am in general, and why last night’s concert was as impactful as it was. If you pray, I welcome those. If you have hope, I welcome you to hope. Even during the moments I can’t…I ask you to hold onto those things for me cause maybe there will be a time they exist again in my life. Whatever you do, and wherever you are, I welcome you to join me. I know there is strength in community, and I know there is healing and hope also found there. I may not have a good grasp, or none at all, on some of these things right now, but if you do – please don’t let go.

And for any musician apt to play shows or concerts – this, friends, this is why what you matters. This is why a concert is so much more than just good music, or great music in this case. It’s more than entertainment. The simple gestures, hugs, moments in time that you offer or share – those change lives. Those share hope with the hopeless. What you do is life changing for some, life-giving for others, and even life-saving for some. Please know that music is a place where people can feel safe and seek refuge. I am that person. Music is a safe place. Thank you for that gift.

And, to DCA Events, thank you for playing your part in making concerts like these happen. To quote what Dan says of himself and DCA Events, “….As a believer and follower of Christ, it’s what we are called to do. Dca Events is here to bring Jesus to the hurting & lost, our concerts are about promoting positive influence thru music. That positive influence is Jesus.”  Dan, and DCA Events, thank you for the mission you have, and for doing it well. Like I mentioned before, this shows me who Jesus is, in human form.

I still have many questions, a lot of pain, and a faith and life with so many questions and concerns – but I am not the same person I walked into the concert as. I don’t know what that means, but I do know that I’m grateful to have had the experience, and for the safe place it provided.

Community Challenge – In Three Sentences Or Less

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Challenge time

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It’s about community – it’s importance, and how it makes a difference.

Here’s your challenge. Think of a person you respect. Tell them in three sentences or less things you love about them, and remind them of things they may struggle to remember on their own.

I welcome you to post your answers here in the comments – or feel free to connect via my contact me page and I’ll update this post with all of our community of answers. Comment or message me with as many people as you’d like. This is all about love.

The first person who came to mind is To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) founder, Jamie Tworkowski. Here are the things I wish he knew and could always hang onto:

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Jamie is a kind hearted person who encourages, shares hope and compassion, and loves people well. He is tremendously loved as a son, brother, uncle, friend, comrade, and one day a lifelong companion. He lives life authentically, but with vulnerability as he tells his own story of brokenness and triumph, pain mixed with hope, and sees value in all people – all the while reminding everyone that it’s okay to not be okay, to be honest, and that everyone has a story worth telling, and one that is full of love and hope, while also remembering that rescue is possible.

(See what I did there? I made about six sentences into three – all with the magic of breaking all sorts of grammar rules – so I beg you now — don’t think it necessary to remind me of this.)

I may share and highlight others as well – but wanted to give everyone a chance to #RememberTheLove.

Life Is A Giant Roller Coaster Ride

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Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you like roller coaster rides? I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junkie. However, I do love a good roller coaster ride. The ups are thrilling, the downs are scary. Together, they equal fun.

Thinking of roller coasters, I have come to realize that life is quite like a roller coaster ride – one we can’t get off of at will. If you’re anything like me, the thought is initially a good one. However, the ups and downs can be terrifying when you recognize that they are essentially never ending.

This is the trap I find myself in at the moment. I just want a breather. I want to do more than just pretend life will ever be any different.

The trouble with this, right now, is that I am finding it more and more difficult to grab a hold to those good times – for fear that the crushing and depressing times are just around the next bend. I recognize that it’s a function of embracing the moment – of loving life, right where I am. Truth be told, I do that. And at times, I am not able to.

Right now, I find that I am in the part of this eternal ride that is scary and feels almost like the cart will jump the rails, and crash. Sigh. I just want to break the cycle – and I’ve pretty much given up hope of even that possibility.

Is it too hard to ask – to just be able to raise my hands, yell with glee as I enjoy the ride? I think it is.

I’m not going to lie. I have come to really dislike the familiarity and predictability that the roller coaster ride brings. The highs and the lows – the ups and downs. The emotions and feelings that refuse to give up their grip.

So, here I sit – looking for the exit. There has to be one somewhere. So far, I haven’t found that elusive escape route.

Please, someone – please tell me this life still has the potential of love, hope, compassion and even freedom. Freedom to just live.

For anyone who will point me towards faith, counseling / therapy, talking it out, friends, is any other great coping mechanism – proceed with caution. I do stand on faith, seek help through counseling / therapy, I clearly ramble too much as it is – but I do talk when I can find friends to talk to. See, in theory, a great support system is in place. But, frankly, that system is broken. See my previous post. People sometimes don’t say what they mean, mean what they say – and their actions most certainly don’t match their words. Please don’t be that person.

So, as I sit here today, I just pray for the strength to keep going. Taking that a step further – I also pray that I continue to WANT to keep going. My fear, if I’m being honest, is that the voice of depression and grief that clouds my thoughts will grow louder than that of hope.

So, for better or for worse, that’s where I am today. Here. Breathing. With my heart still beating. Yes, there’s life yet to live.

When Perpetually Suicidal Thoughts Become More

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Take a good look at that picture. You can’t see everything there – but what I want you to see is what a potentially lethal dose of medication looks like. Let that sink in. The meds are legal, and for in the palm of your hand. They are common meds – when used properly, save lives. When not – well the opposite is true. This one small handful of meds could take your life.

You might wonder how I have stumbled upon such information!? Simple. I looked it up. I asked the knowledge whale known as google for a little guidance. I was curious what completed suicides were as a result of specific medications. Medications I have easily within my disposal. I honestly wondered what that looked like. Why the picture/meme then!?  Again, a picture tells a story, and this one tells so many people’s story. As I looked at the picture, I realized two things – 1) it scared me and 2) the thought of “how easy it would be” made entirely too much sense. The next morning, I created that meme. I recognized the need to seek help was very real.

I may circle back around to that whole “seeking help” thought process in a moment. However, I’m going to just tell it like it is. Open up the window called transparency and let you see a glimpse inside.

Let’s talk about suicide and suicidal thoughts. You do know there’s a difference, right!? See, a person can have suicidal thoughts and not actually be suicidal. A person walks over the line between the two when a plan starts being concocted. People think about suicide all the time. People think about the meaning of life every day and wish it weren’t so painful. Neither thought makes them suicidal.

On the flip side, people also create plans to carry out suicides – to find a way to escape whatever painful reality they desperately seek relief from – every day as well. This, though, is a game changer. This is that moment where reaching out is vital. The suicidal person cannot see beyond the here and now. They cannot grasp the concept or even possibility of hope being real. People sometimes experience whatever makes up their own personal hell, and simply feel as if they cannot take the pain any longer.

At this point – or perhaps immediately upon reading the title – you might be wondering where this is coming from, or why now. My next question is why NOT now. Suicide is not a pretty word. It conjures up some (quite likely) painful thoughts. The stigma that surrounds mental health topics (suicide being only one in a vast ocean of others) cannot diminish if we cannot talk about it. It may be hard, but the conversation will be worth it.

Ask me how I know.

I want you to know something. First and foremost, I want you to know that I am not suicidal. Note my language again. I’m not suicidal. I do, however, have suicidal thoughts. I think much of the population would – if they’re being honest – admit having had suicidal thoughts at one point or another. I want to circle back to stigma again. What’s sad is that someone currently having, or having had suicidal thoughts IS NOT a secret needing to be hidden. It’s not something people should have to ADMIT TO, as if it’s a dirty little sin.

Okay, so back to my breaking the silence about my own suicidal thoughts. Yes, they happen. Yes, they’re real. No, they’re not happy. No, they’re not fun. They’re scary at times. However, I am able to separate myself from the thoughts. I can look at the thoughts, and I can know they exist. There have been moments where it’s been difficult to grasp onto the reality that things will ever be okay again – let alone good. In those moments, it is vital to remember that, though currently elusive, hope is most definitely real. Though the clouds in a dark and gloomy sky may hide that hope, all hope is not lost. I have to remember that the sun will break through the clouds, and it will shine again. Maybe not today, but tomorrow brings with it the potential of sunshine – of hope.

There are times where I feel like my heart is shattered. Times where I feel broken, almost beyond repair. I’m not though.

And neither are you.

Now, let me take a moment and address you. Yes, you. That person who knows nothing other than how to hide behind a mask. That person who believes that hope is a good theoretical topic, but isn’t for them. That person who looks I’m the mirror and doesn’t know or like the person starting back.

That person. I want to talk to them. And so should you. Take a moment and look for signs. I know you’re busy, but someone’s life is worth it.

If you ARE that person, welcome. Welcome to the conversation you never saw yourself having, but are going to be grateful that someone cared enough to have. Buckle up, and hold on. I will tell you things that you need to hear, but may not be inclined to believe. Your eyes may be clouded by the depression that catches your gaze instead. In that case, I simply want you to hear my words. You’re listening – really listening, yes?

Okay, these things I need you to hear. You are a living, breathing story. The Storm you are walking through will not last forever. It may be painful, even seemingly unbearable, as you walk the path. Though, soon, the eye of the storm will pass by. It’ll be scary, and it’ll teach you the meaning of living through pain. However, you’ll soon just look around and realize that you made it. You’re still alive. As time and distance come between you and the storm, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that you’re actually GRATEFUL that you made it – that you’re alive. You’ll look down at your scars, and you’ll immediately think of that scary storm – but, much to your surprise – you’ll see the scars for what they are. Your scars tell a story. They tell your story. They show the very real pain associated with your storm. They’ll also remind you that where there is a scar, there is some form of healing also present. You’ll look at those scars and see that they represent healing and strength. You’ll be able to see them for what they are – a reminder of that storm, but also a reminder of the strength and healing.

You know, you might have just laughed as you kept reading. I know that you may chuckle when someone is amusing enough to actually write out such words. You believe that those words might be great for other people, but can’t hold onto them as truth for yourself. You see, I understand how you think. I AM you.

However, I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that you can take a break from your thoughts, and be gentle with yourself. Know that your story matters. Know that YOU matter. It may hurt right now, but it won’t hurt forever. You may not be able to see beyond the pain, but please allow me to be a voice that speaks hope. Let that hope be fueled by love and wrap itself around you like a hug.

You and I. Maybe we are broken, but no one is telling us we can’t be broken together. Take my hand. Look me in the eye and see the hope in mine. When you can’t find yours, please borrow some of mine. I guarantee there will be times I will return the favor. Please know how much you mean to me. Please don’t go anywhere. Please stay. I need you to be my voice of hope during the moments I feel like I can’t hold on.

Hear my words. I need you and you need me. We need each other, you and I. As we walk along this path called life, take my hand. Help me walk – one for in front of the other – when I’m not even sure I can breathe. Let me do the same for you.

Together.

Let’s be broken together.