#BlackLivesMatter

“Better a little righteousness than much gain with injustice.”

Proverbs 16:8

Tonight my heart burns so deeply there aren’t words to describe.

A Tender Reminiscence

I had all the intentions of writing some thoughtful, well versed piece tonight in commemoration of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

But 1 tea party, 2 children and 1 sick husband tucked in bed, 2 grant proposals, and a million work emails answered-later my brain is fried. All that’s left are just some wandering thoughts.

October 9th came and went with little recognition.

I bought an ivy.

I named her Gretchen.

She sits on my desk hutch at work, basking in the natural and florescent lights. She’s spoiled.

I thought about taking the day off but then decided I would work the first half and then maybe take off early. But then I ended up staying all day. It was probably better that I did that.

Dylan and I went out to eat at Olive Garden with the girls and enjoyed some family time together. It’s so rare lately that we’re all in one place together without one of us rushing out the door and blowing kisses in passing. Such is this time of life.

And it hits me that she (I’ve decided that she would’ve been) would be around four months now, give or take a couple weeks.

And that’s hard.

But not as hard as it was last year.

Or last month.

But still hard nonetheless.

And so I press on, acknowledging the truth and finding solace in the Psalms. In my husband and my daughters. In Moses, the ever constant, neurotic pug companion of mine. In my friends and family. In books and music. In the experiences of the everyday constants. The routine. The surprises and unknowns.

I’m not sure if it ever gets easier, I can’t imagine experiencing this type of ferocious emotion again. I pray I don’t. But I think that, in hindsight and with the strength of being a year out, I’ll be okay and life has and will continue in this new normal. A normal that changes and gains meaning each day because of and not because of October 9th.

What a darkly funny date to be emblazoned in my memory alongside mine and my husband’s anniversary, our children’s birth dates, our family’s birth dates, my airplane day, all these dates that I’ve committed to memory for one reason or another.

But Gretchen’s charming. And healthy. And she purifies my dry office air.

She’s got long, graceful limbs and her leaves arch in the most delicate way. She makes my desk seem inviting, and soothing.

A tender reminiscence.

When there are NO Words

I feel the need to write today.

There are too many thoughts in my head and they need to get out.

I find that writing is cathartic, when it’s unplanned, when it’s most needed.

And today…well today is certainly one of those days.

I’ve been avoiding news sources like the black plague. So much pain, so much hurt, so much injustice these days that this poor Mama’s heart just breaks and re-breaks every time I scan the latest news header. Tornados, rock slides, car accidents…all of it unbearable to me and I feel a wash of pain and grief come over me in solidarity for the people and families who have been affected irrevocably.

In an instant.

A.mere.instant.

And so I hug my children a little bit tighter, selfishly and thankfully, tearfully acknowledging that I have no control over anything other than how I live now.

As a talker, I know that words are the first thing that I want to offer to people, hurting or not. However, all too often I hear things like “Be strong” tossed around to the hurting or “God’s plan…” or “Don’t forget about how blessed you still are…” immediately during these trying times, as if a verbal-one-for-all-bandaid could do any good…if there was even such a thing. (And you know me, I love a good cliché.)

To those people I would say, SHUT UP.

I have no time for you, the hurting have no time for you, and there simply is NO TIME for you.

There is a time and place for everything. God is everywhere always, I truly believe that, and I truly believe that God gave us a wide range of emotions to express our lives to one another, our souls. When grief, when sadness, when despair are so very, very fresh (and even lingering) these are not the words that those of us on our grieving journeys need to hear.

What we need are our communities to come alongside us and to hold us up in love. To comfort…to hold… to deliver the standard Midwestern hotdish or pan of bars. More often than not, the last thing that we need are words. Because really, how can you explain away lives taken too soon? Evils and accidents, natural disasters with consequences that rend God’s heart? What words can you give that would comfort a parent left to live their days without the joys and pains of their child?

If anything, perhaps, we should hug our children and our spouses, our family and friends a bit tighter, and revel in the blessings that permeate our lives; and in doing so as a community, honor those who grieve by extending our ears to listen and shoulders to help bear the burden.

Pondering an anniversary

2 Loves

2 Loves…how I miss those chubby chins.

My Facebook feed was blown up yesterday due to a 40th anniversary. I read an article from Eugene Cho: To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the life that could be lived out. because of it. I’ve read many articles about it, on it, the whys and why nots for and against it. And I have to be honest with you.

I’m a fence rider.

Not because I don’t believe in the sanctity of life. Not because I don’t believe women shouldn’t have a right to determine what happens to their bodies. Not because I don’t believe that God intended humanity to be filled with beauty and life. Not because I believe that church and state are mostly and should be separated.

Not because I am sinful…or maybe because I am.

But truthfully, where is the argument or at least the point, when at the end of the day both sides are hurting? Woman, baby, families, broken in two by the loss of love? The loss of compassion? The loss of grace?

I’ve been reading a book that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It’s focus on grace, on thanksgiving…I think is a genius answer to the hatred and pain that is felt throughout this argument. It’s exploration of the basis of sin and evil in the world being rooted in our ungrateful hearts, in a lack of thanksgiving. Through these reflections on faith and practice she connects the pieces together a little bit more for me on my own beliefs. Grace. What is grace?

I’m not looking for a debate or a fight or really anything, mostly I’m just shifting through my thoughts. I realize this won’t make sense to some and maybe will to others. As a mother, as a daughter, as an adoptee who doesn’t know her birth parents, as a child of God, and more simply as a player in humanity…I don’t dare to profess I have all the answers. I long for the goodness, the gratefulness that we once had as perfectly created and perfectly seeing, and in that longing I attempt to make a life and a belief that emulates what could have been. What is if we humble ourselves to embrace grace.

Christmas was, Christmas is

Christmas was…

Lovely and well-fed.

Filled with warmth.

Blessed in all ways.

Peaceful and joyous.

Christmas is a reminder of…

The sacrifices given.

The beauty born from healed scars.

The preciousness of life.

The amazing husband that loves me.

The perfection hiding in our imperfection.

I didn’t take many pictures of our week-long whirlwind of Christmassy happenings. Instead, I chose to try to stay in the moment, savoring this holiday and this time together as a family. The regular updates on Sandy Hook splashed across the televisions and on the radio were a morbid, albeit succinct reminder to enjoy the moments given to me with the littles. So I hugged them a little tighter and repressed my disgruntled-too-many-presents-I’m-drowning-in-wrapping-paper attitude a bit longer.

It certainly wasn’t without its bumps and frustrations (and I am infinitely glad that Dylan is as patient as he is). I’ve struggled with whether or not to write about it, it doesn’t seem very Christmassy or seasonally joyful but I think that, just in case there’s one other person like me out there, that I will. Because as much as I love Christmas and as much as I loved spending it with my family, this Christmas was probably the hardest one I’ve weathered through. Because this was the first holiday that I have celebrated post miscarriage.

I hate that word.

Every gift that I opened, every token of love and goodwill from family and friends, was a brief reminder in itself. No onesies, no blue or pink, no congratulations, no baby toys or books or invasive questions or belly touching. Just piles and piles of dolls, play foods, and coloring books. All of which I am very thankful for, and yet, my heart can’t help but twinge a bit at the lack of joy over the coming of a new life. We would’ve been telling people now about the pregnancy. Maybe even Pinteresting a clever manner in which to reveal the news. Facebook posts, blog posts, Instagram and Twitter…

All silent. Save for a Happy Christmas here and there.

I’m struggling to find words to explain my general dourness this Christmas season, which hopefully had enough Santa facade for my girls not to notice, so that I can continue on this journey of healing and growth. But it’s hard. Way.Hard. Hard enough that I’ve been mulling over this post for quite some time and still, after hours of deliberation, are at a loss for words. Which is a strange realization since I felt that I had dealt with the majority of my grief earlier this fall upon hearing the news. Apparently not. Apparently it takes time and continues to hit you in waves days, months, years? afterwards. So much grief for a life never fully realized.

And though I know this matters naught to you, know Mommy and Daddy love and miss you in the fullest sense. Happy Christmas little one.

Weekend with the cousins

This post isn’t completely about the cousins, I have to admit. This weekend was…full. Truthfully, I’m not sure what other word would best describe it. Maybe I’ll just explain in pictures, I think images are often the best descriptors when words fail anyhow.

Ada and Nellie were reunited with their cousin-BFFs, Lael and Lucy.

@ Grandma Sheila's house.

@ Grandma Sheila’s house.

My Grandma Sue was welcomed into the arms of God on Saturday.

Grandma Sue, the way I remember her as a child, at the lake cabin.

Grandma Sue, the way I remember her as a child, at the lake cabin.

Nellie contracted another round of pink eye and was kind enough to share with Dylan again. We’re still on the fence as to when/if Ada or I am going to get it.

Waiting at the ER for pink eye drugs on Sunday morning.

Waiting at the ER for pink eye drugs on Sunday morning.

I labeled and packed up Ada’s suitcase for her big Florida weekend adventure with Grandpa Pete. (And yes, you did read that right. The Florida trip has been postponed due to recent events and will regain excitement steam this spring when Mom speaks again in March.) There’s just a couple of other things I’ll have to throw in last minute tonight to send with.

Packing for Mayo, again.

Packing for Mayo, again.

And I packed suitcases for the rest of us for our week-long trek to Rochester/Twin Cities.

There is a prayer service on Friday and then the funeral will be on Saturday. I was asked to sing–weddings and funerals. Times for family to come together and celebrate but utilizing different emotions. Meh.

Prayers, I’m sure, would be appreciated.

Love you Grandma.

Love you Grandma.

Love you Grandma.

Victor Hugo You Were Right.

How Spotify is speaking for me:

 
“Psalm 30:5”

After the Storm by Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More
Amazing Grace by Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
Be Near to Me by Enter the Worship Circle, Second Circle
Be Thou My Vision by Pedro the Lion, The Only Reason I Feel Secure
Beautiful Things by Gungor, Beautiful Things
Beauty From Pain by Superchick, Beauty From Pain 1.1
Before the Morning by Josh Wilson, Life Is Not a Snapshot
Breakdown by Jack Johnson, In Between Dreams
Carry Me Out by Enter the Worship Circle, Chair and Microphone, Vol. 4
Constellations by Jack Johnson, In Between Dreams
Don’t Carry It All by The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
Falling Down by Clear, Follow the Narrow
Frail by Jars of Clay, Greatest Hits
From This One Place by Sara Groves, Fireflies and Songs
Ghosts That We Knew by Mumford and Sons, Babel
Held by Natalie Grant, Awaken
I Give You This Heart by Alison Krauss, A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Alison Krauss & the Cox Family, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
I Will Bow by Enter the Worship Circle, Second Circle
I Will Carry You (Audrey’s Song) by Selah, You Deliver Me
I Will Not Forget You: First Circle (featuring Watermark) by Enter the Worship Circle, Worship
Circle Mixtape: Favorites, Side A
It Is Well by Sara Groves, It Is Well
January Hymn by The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
Kite Song by Rosie Thomas, All the Way From Michigan Not Mars
Losing Hope by Jack Johnson, Brushfire Fairytales
Rain by Clear, Clear
See the Sun by Dido, Life For Rent
Sell All My Things by Rosie Thomas, Only With Laughter Can We Win
Silence by Jars of Clay, Essential
Stand in the Rain by Superchick, Beauty From Pain 1.1
The Hurt & The Healer by MercyMe, The Hurt & The Healer
Thistle & Weeds by Mumford and Sons, Deluxe Companion
View From Heaven by Yellowcard, Ocean Avenue
Your Hands by JJ Heller

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
Victor Hugo

Is God Glad Osama Bin Laden’s Dead?

I feel the need to address the death of Osama Bin Laden. Not that my thoughts really matter all that much, but after reading and seeing so many things over the last couple of days, it seems as though it would be peculiar for me to not take a break and respond to his death.

I lack the words. My husband did a good job over at his blog here in his post “What Are We Celebrating?”

But I did happen to stumble upon this article by John Piper and I feel as though it’s made better of an argument (or rather, explanation) than I could about my warring feelings concerning the topic. So…without further ado…here it is:

Is God Glad Osama Bin Laden’s Dead?

Permalink
God’s emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are God-like.
In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.
                                   
It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

Is God Double-Minded?

This is not double talk. All thoughtful people make such distinctions. For example, if my daughter asks me if I like a movie, I might say yes or no to the same movie. Why? Because a movie can be assessed for its 1) acting, 2) plot, 3) cinematography, 4) nudity, 5) profanity, 6) suspense, 7) complexity, 8) faithfulness to the source, 9) reverence for God, 10) accurate picture of human nature, etc., etc., etc.
So my answer is almost always “yes, in some ways, and no in other ways.” But sometimes I will simply say yes, and sometimes no, because of extenuating circumstances.
Here is why I say God approves and disapproves the death of Osama bin Laden:
In one sense, human death is not God’s pleasure:
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . .  For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:2332).
In another sense, the death and judgment of the unrepentant is God’s pleasure:
Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself.(Ezekiel 5:13]
[Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.(Proverbs 1:25–26)
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)
As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)
We should not cancel out any of these passages but think our way through to how they can all be true.

God is Not Malicious or Bloodthirsty

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.
Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory. (For further discussion of God’s heart in judgment see the section in The Pleasures of God called “How Is God Like George Washington?”, pp. 147–149.)
When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.
God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (see alsoRomans 9:22–23).

A Warning

Let this be a warning to us: God is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced. Even on the way to Calvary he had legions of angels at his disposal: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord”—of his own good pleasure, for the joy that was set before him.
At the one point in the history of the universe where God looked trapped, he was in charge, doing precisely what he pleased—dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.