Today Sucks

It’s Monday but it’s Monday-ier than most. Thick and heavy like a London fog. Thick with loss. Heavy with chaos.

Three years ago today began about as normal as a day could. So normal that but for the events that transpired later in the day, I wouldn’t be able to detail a single thing about that day. The events later in the day, however, have forever seared this date into my consciousness. It’s the day that a reckless driver stole my daughter, Brooke, from us. Thick with loss.

To make matters more Monday-ier, SARS-C0V-2/Covid-19 (“Coronavirus”) has the entire world in turmoil. The state of world affairs is literally changing at a pace not before seen in my lifetime. These Coronavirus flood waters are still rising so it is yet to be seen where it will leave its final mark. Heavy with chaos.

Yet, even in the middle of this sucky, thick, heavy day – I have to remind myself that loss and chaos DO NOT reign. Loss and chaos DO NOT get the final word.

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Reasonably Happy: That’s all you’ve got?

God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change; courage to change the things that I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Most of us are familiar with the “Serenity Prayer” originally penned by Reinhold Niebuhr. It’s a staple for those striving toward sobriety. It’s a quick “go-to” for times when our own patience is running low. It even has it’s own cult-following resulting in humorous internet memes with witty edits referring to coffee in place of courage or wisdom for staying out of jail and/or knowing where to hide bodies.

What I didn’t realize until recently, there’s more to the prayer than the verse most of us can recite by heart. Actually – a lot more.

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1,000 Days

Today marks 1,000 days since a reckless driver stole Brooke from us. Some of those days have been the darkest of my entire life. Some of those days have surprised me when moments of joy streaked across the horizon beckoning me forward. Mostly, 1,000 days have marched on despite the incomprehensible reality that Brooke isn’t here.

Though Brooke is not physically present, the love we shared didn’t die. We cheat death in a thousand ways when recall memories of our loved ones. Love dances beyond the fingertips of death. There are a thousand memories that death can’t touch:

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Purpose in the Pain

In high school, I was first introduced to the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the five “stages” of grief in the book On Death and Dying. She introduced the stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – in the context of individuals who were facing their own impending death. Later, she and David Kessler published a work, On Grief and Grieving. Both books have been incredibly helpful in understanding this thing called “grief” and for figuring out what’s “normal.”

However, there was still something missing.

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Speak Life

A sad thing happened on the way to the typewriter to write this blog. A news article caught my eye. The son of Christian rapper, TobyMac, died unexpectedly sometime during Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. It’s human nature that we are drawn to those who’ve had or are going through experiences similar to our own. Though I don’t know TobyMac personally, my heart goes out to him and his wife, and their family.

Like so many others, I look forward to TobyMac’s daily #speaklife memes. On March 16, 2017, he posted this graphic:

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Shattered

Have you ever had a rock or a baseball come flying through a window? The thwack of the initial impact is overwhelmed by the chaotic chime of glass hitting floor. The only thing left in the wake is a halo of jagged shards jutting out at odd angles from the frame. Splinters of glass everywhere. It’s a mess. 

When it comes to cleaning up the mess, we tend toward one of two approaches. Some bust out the rest of the glass and sweep it all up in one fell swoop. Others slap a piece of old cardboard and masking tape over the mess until the repairman can get there to replace the pane. We tend take similar approaches to our own brokenness.

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Brooke It Forward Foundation

What better day than Friday the 13th to share exciting news about the Brooke It Forward Foundation! The creative team at Hoffman Miller Advertising completed and launched our amazing website today. Check it out at Brookeitforward.org.

What is Brooke It Forward?

The Brooke It Forward Foundation is dedicated to shoebox-sized acts of kindness providing “birthday boxes” to children whose birthdays might otherwise be overlooked due to placement in foster care, displacement as a result of disaster, domestic violence, poverty, or other circumstances.

What are “birthday boxes?”

The boxes are so simple – yet so powerful. (Please read about Bella and how she inspired this project.) Clear shoe-box-sized containers are filled with the essentials for a birthday party – cake mix, icing, candles, and so on. Small treats and some special “birthday swag” round out the boxes. Then, they are delivered to children whose birthdays are at risk of being overlooked.

Aren’t essentials like food and clothing more important?

Essentials are absolutely important and we are grateful to the organizations who provide those services. However, one cannot underestimate the power of honoring a child on his or her birthday. When the counselors hand the children a birthday box, they communicate to that child – you are special and you matter. What could be more important!

How Can I help?

There are a number of ways you can “join the party.” Host a Birthday Bash (aka birthday box drive). Make a donation. Become a volunteer. (If you don’t live in the New Orleans area, no worries. We’ll help you make an impact in your community.) And if nothing else – you can like Brooke It Forward on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’d be honored for you to help spread the love by spreading the word!

SDG