Grief School: Lesson #4 Today, We Remember, Pt. 2

Yesterday was 9/11 – a day when as a nation we stopped and remembered the events of that date back in 2001. Our social media feeds were filled with pictures, videos, and somber graphics. We shared the names of those individuals who lost their lives in the attacks.

Dare I say – our national grief was on full display. Even eighteen years later, we still grieve that loss. We honored that grief by remembering those touched by the events (basically all of us) – especially the heroes and their families who suffered the most on that fateful day.

Yesterday as I prepared a memorial post for this site, I was reminded of a concern that so many grieving individuals face – but particularly those who’ve lost a child – and that is sharing memories of their children.

Bereaved parents recount experiences of sharing a memory on FaceBook or Instagram of their children only to receive negative feedback. They receive comments along the lines of “It’s been three years already. Isn’t it time to move on?”

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Grief School: Lesson #3

Welcome back to Grief School! School is back in session. How do we know summer is over and it’s time for a new school year? Our “news feeds” are blowing up with first-day-of-school pictures! If you live in one of those areas that extends the summer past Labor Day (ahhh, the good old days), don’t worry. It’s coming.

History was never my strong suit in school, but let’s start with a history lesson. About four years ago, Angie Cartwright, started petition through Change.org to have August 30th declared “National Grief Awareness Day.” Change they say is slow and the movement to bring an awareness of grief to the forefront of the societal conversation is certainly no exception. We may not yet have an “official” day of awareness, but how can we not be aware of grief on a daily basis? Grief is the continuous backbeat that pulses through our day-to-day existence.

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Connecting the Dots . . .

As a kid (and even beyond), I was am a sucker for puzzles. Crosswords. Word jumbles. Word searches. Sudoku. I couldn’t even resist the humble “Connect the Dots.” Seriously, what is more satisfying that to watch a scene unfold from a smattering of random dots strewn across a piece of paper?

Growing up, the Bible was a lot like a smattering of dots for me. I learned it a dot at a time. The story of Adam and Eve. A story about Jonah and a big fish. A story about feeding a crowd with no time to hit the grocery. A tale of Joseph and his fancy coat. An account of how a boy named David took down giant named Goliath and another about Daniel escaping the lion’s den. A yarn about Noah, a flood, a dove, and a rainbow. Stories strewn across the pages of my youth like random dots – unnumbered and out of order. 

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Motherhood is a Dirty Business

Except for the first Mother’s Day after each girl was born, I’ve tended to write Mother’s Day off as “greeting card holiday.” You could blame it on my cold heart and staunch distaste for anything sentimental, but that wouldn’t be a fair assessment (at least on most days). Read more

Taking Faith on a Dare

Are you a sucker for a dare or a challenge? I wish that I could answer “no” to that question, but sadly and all too often the answer is “yes.” In my younger days, tackling a challenge usually meant that I would get myself into some sort of trouble. There was that time that I had to prove that I could ramp a BMX bike like my younger brother and his friends. That one landed me on my head – literally, complete with a ride in an ambulance and a luxury, all-inclusive stay at our local hospital.

More recently, the dares and challenges that I accept would be considered “good for me.” I fell for that 30-day plank challenge that was all the rage on social media. Nailed it! Back in 2007, I was goaded into running a half-marathon. Crushed it!

No, I was not a runner. No, I don’t enjoy running. Yes, I get a deep sense of satisfaction when I push myself to achieve goals that seem just out of my reach. In this sense, my stubborn streak could be seen as both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, we could be calling 9-1-1 or on the other I could enjoy toned arms and abs of steel for 30-days.

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Does Anyone Remember Me?

It’s the start of the holiday season (unless you hung your Christmas lights before Halloween, in which case you are in full swing). Families are gathering. Friends are reconnecting. News is being shared.

Not all of it is good. 

I don’t mean to be the “Debbie Downer” to your holiday season. It’s just that yesterday brought news of another young life lost. Another family is shattered and forever altered. And we know that others are facing difficult news during what is “supposed” to be the happiest time of the year. Families won’t be able to put food on the table because ends just don’t meet. Other families – particularly those dealing with California’s wildfires – won’t be able to put food on the table because there is no table. Families in Florida are still sifting through the debris of Hurricane Michael wondering where their table has floated off to and more poignantly – does anyone remember us?

That is the big question we all ask when we are facing our worst days. 

Does anyone remember me?

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Chaotic Musings

As I pen this post, chaos is all around me – literally. Movers are delivering furniture. Tile workers are destroying the kitchen backsplash. A painter is ripping sheets of old wallpaper from the hallway. A woodworker is staining the stairs. The dogs are barking. The noise-cancelling headphones only block out so much.

In the midst of this chaos, it occurs to me – I can handle it. This is no big deal. I’m not even rattled. Why? Because I know the plan. I can envision how the mess will come together in the end. I know that the upheaval is both temporary and necessary. I can buy into the vision because it’s my vision. I created it (with help of course).

Life’s chaos shouldn’t be any different. But it is. Why? Simple answer – it’s not our plan. Granted, we are too frequently participants of our own pandemonium, but so often our lives are thrown into disarray by outside forces. The boss is breathing down our necks and our inboxes are piling up. The teacher schedules yet another conference to discuss Little Johnnie (or Jeannie’s) “leadership skills” in the classroom. The dogs chew your new sofa. Phone calls come in rapid succession sharing unbearable news.

In the throes of turmoil, we lose sight of the game plan. We forget that the mess is going to come together in the end. The final outcome is so simple and so satisfying –  no more tears. That’s great and it’s easy to get on board with that plan. I love that plan, but what about today?

Even though God has shared his vision with us, I still struggle in these in-between days. God has shared the beginning, and He’s laid out the end. God even warns that the in-between days will be frenzied and disordered, but I still want more. I want to know. On my worse days, I want to fix it.  I desire to impose my vision when I’ve only been invited to partake of God’s vision. God has not appointed me to a heavenly Board of Directors for purposes of devising a strategy for moving forward.

God’s smart like that. I may (with the right help) be capable of choosing some fresh paint colors and a new countertop, but God knows that running the universe is outside my skill set.

God is the master Artist. In the beginning, He created the universe in the way a painter looks at a blank canvas and begins to apply color. God created out of nothing. The first strokes on canvas can appear haphazard to the bystander. Yet as layer after layer of paint is added, a scene comes into focus.

These middle days are the days of haphazard color and missing layers. God sees the finished work that is still outside our realm of comprehension. The day is coming. The final stroke will be applied to the canvas. We will see the final masterpiece in all of its Glory. We’ll be able to see how the brushstrokes of our own lives fit into the whole and how the finished piece wouldn’t be whole otherwise.Warhol Quote

So, as I soak in the frenzied creativity taking place all around me – I am reminded to step back. I’m reminded that when life feels out of control, He is always in control. I’m reminded to trust God’s ultimate vision. I’m reminded that when our tears our wiped away, we’ll see clearly.

SDG