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Category Archives: grief and loss

Holding Out Hope for a Better Life

My name is Erica. I am a 38-year-old public school art teacher. I have been teaching for over 10 years and love my job. Unlike many mothers with children with disabilities, I have managed to maintain my career. I feel very blessed to work with over 500 students in our town in Minnesota.

I have been married since 2006. My husband, Scott, is an outside sales person for a title company. He is the most amazing father. He has stepped up, when he could have run away. I admire his strength for completely doing this with me day-to-day.

Our only son, Grant, was about 6 when his first serious round of self injury began. He has some level of intellectual disability, autism, and Avoidant Restrictive Feeding Intake Disorder (ArFID) which resulted in a g-tube getting surgically placed in August. Below is just a small piece of my life story. I am writing regularly at erica873.wixsite.com/grant and share updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/deargrant if you would like to read more.

Amy is my friend and neighbor. She was kind enough to let me share my story here today. We are seeking donations for our medical trip. Grant is on a wait list for a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, called Kennedy Krieger. Please watch the video at the end of this post, and check out my site for more details if you are in a position to help. Thank you.

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I was cleaning up my art room, like I always do. Pandora was playing “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. I know this song really well. I might be able to sing along without the lyrics without them in front of me. Can you hear it now?

” Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus …”

This song triggers a variety of emotions. I sing along. Just in my head. I don’t need someone to walk in my classroom and hear me.

Taylor sings …

“You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
I won’t make it any other way”

I push the tears back. I want to let them flow at this moment, but I don’t and I won’t. I have let them flow before. I have had deep, ugly cries in the last six months. I have done this in front of my son. I have done it alone. But, I have never let myself cry like this in front of anyone else. This song is triggering this feeling, but I push it down.

I feel regret and anger when I have cried like this in front of Grant. It makes me cry more. My anger builds with every piece of this of this journey. The tears flow easily if he hurts me and I am not talking about emotional pain. I have never had a verbal argument with him. He is not considered “non-verbal,” but he is not functionally conversational either.

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He has attacked my hair so many times I can’t count all of the incidences. Even in one day, he has come at me over 20 times. It’s like he is trying to remove chunks of my hair. I am trained in something called “CPI” so I know how to release his hands from head. I have to press on his knuckles. My scalp hurts after he comes after me. After a summer of hair pulls, I eventually sacrifice my long strands for a chin length “do.” I resent him in that moment at the hair salon. I tell myself it’s just hair. It is not me or who I am as a woman. It’s just hair. I eventually purchase hair turbans off of Amazon to protect my poor scalp. Cutting my hair doesn’t prove to be enough to keep him from hurting me.

He has tried to hurt my eyes. This is how it all started. He would push his fingers into my tear ducts. It happened so quickly. It’s hard to explain how anyone can get to your eyes so quickly.

Today he mostly kicks me. He hits me. He has bruised my eye area. He has scratched my skin and, more recently, he has learned how to head butt. This might be the worst new behavior. It comes out of nowhere. I can be putting on his diaper or he can be sitting on my lap. I might lean over to fix something and his head, with a helmet on, comes at my face so quickly. I can’t get out of the way. I bawl.

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There was a day where he hit me so hard, I question if there is blood running down my face. I luck out, it’s only mucus. My nose feels broken regardless. It’s hard to hide my emotions. Tears flow easily. I want to hide. I can’t show him how upset I am in these moments.

This head butting issue really irritates me. On Halloween, his head hits my mouth. I thought he had loosened a tooth. I am not sure if he just caused me serious dental issues. I am hysterical. I grasp my face in horror. WHAT DID HE JUST DO!? How can a 9 year old be this violent? He stares at me as tears make my mascara drip black lines down my face. I am flushed. My lip is busted open this time. I have not overreacted. I might have my teeth still, but that was truly painful. I fall to the floor sobbing. He just stares at me. He might have said something like “mommy sad.” Yes, Grant. Sad is only the beginning of the emotions I feel in this moment.

Deep anger fills me. I don’t lash back. But, every cell in my body wants to fight. But, I can’t. There is no point. He doesn’t understand what he is doing. He just sees his mother crying. To him, this is interesting. So he will do it again. I have sealed that destiny with my outward emotions. But, I can’t stop in these times. I am getting hurt. I am hurt. I cry. I am so unbelievably tired of this.

Attacking me…this only a piece of what is happening in my home on a daily basis. Some days are worse. Some are better. I ask myself constantly “What is worse than this?”  I mean, I quite literally in my head run through a game called “What is worse than this situation?” We have to find answers. We have to move forward. I remind myself that we are lucky he is alive. We wait patiently for his turn at the hospital. I’ll do the best I can with each day as it comes. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe. I will hold on to the hope I must keep in my heart for the three of us for a better and easier life.

Erica

What I Learned From Writing Someone’s Obituary

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He called me first. I was on the phone with my husband, so I wasn’t able to answer. Then I received a text. Having received a phone call and text within seconds of each other, I knew the message was urgent and required a prompt and personal response on my part. My husband suggested I hang up and return the call immediately.

“Hi. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom this week. We all know it’s going to happen at some point, but it’s still never easy,” I said.

“Thank you very much,” he responded. “Actually, that’s why I called. I need to write up something about my mom for the back of the bulletin for her funeral, and I was wondering if you’d be able to do that for me.”

“Sure,” I said, without giving it much thought. After all, just six days prior a writing colleague suggested that I should consider writing peoples’ life stories. It should’ve been no surprise that I was presented with an opportunity so soon after the suggestion was made to me.

He told me he’d spoken with his siblings, that they’d gathered some information about their mom and her life story, and could I possibly put all of this together and write it in a nice format for the back of the bulletin?

Undoubtedly, YES I can.

Who would say no to such an honor?

Basically, I was being asked to write this woman’s obituary.

I took the son’s notes, spent time putting them into paragraphs and emailed the final draft of the obituary to him around 10:00 p.m. that night.

The next morning bright and early, he shared the draft with his siblings. They removed some information and added some information. He called and asked if I could rewrite and refine the obituary with the changes in mind.

Undoubtedly, YES I can.

I made the changes and emailed the obituary back to him within 30 minutes. He needed to get it to the pastor that morning.

She passed away on Monday. I sent the final draft of the obituary for the funeral bulletin at 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday. The funeral was Thursday. Today it’s Friday.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. – James 4:14

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All of this has me thinking…

What did I learn from writing this woman’s obituary?

It is with great honor and respect of this woman’s life and death, that I share just a few of my learnings. Perhaps one or all will guide your path, your life, the light you shine during your short time on earth.

  1. In the end, your life will be reduced to a few short paragraphs in an obituary. What would you like those paragraphs to say? You are not victim to what happens in your life, nor are you victim to what shows up in your obituary. You have a chance to change the trajectory of your life NOW.
  2. Whether you believe it or not, whether you believe you’re making a difference or not, you WILL be a part of someone’s obituary. Your name is important. Your contribution and service to others is important. Your presence and dedication to others is important. Whose obituary will you be on, and how are you contributing to their life today?
  3. Isn’t it beautiful to have grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended relatives and friends? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a powerful influence in your grandchildren and great-grandchildrens’ lives? How will they remember you once you are gone? What legacy will you leave for future generations? How about extended relatives and friends? What relationships are you fostering now that will actually hold weight on your death bed? Who’s the friend you can’t imagine life without? Who’s the cousin or aunt or great uncle for whom you always had a special affection?
  4. Your mistakes, your sins, your faults, your terrible mishaps, and the worst moments of your life will rarely show up on your obituary. People will remember the BEST of you. What do you want that BEST to look like?
  5. LOVE is perhaps the one and only thing you want to show up most on your obituary. Love deeply, to the best of your ability.
  6. Work hard, but definitely not too hard. Work with your heart. Work with the end in mind. Do you want to be remembered for earning $200,000.00 a year, or do you want to be remembered for being a great leader? Do you want to be remembered for never missing a single day of work, or do you want to be remembered for being committed and dedicated to whatever you did? Do you want to be remembered for being “over” hundreds of employees, or do you want to be remembered for being a faithful mentor and guide? Do you want to be remembered for all the awards you won, or do you want to be remembered as a servant heart? The list could go on and on. Be wise about your work, for the days are short in this one wild and crazy life.
  7. What are you doing to stay busy in your down time? Watching TV? Watching your iPhone? Vacuuming? Dusting? Or would you rather be remembered for something cool and interesting like knitting, skydiving, woodworking, writing, traveling to all the continents, pottery, jewelry making, or something super cool like that? Find and develop your interests now and as you’re able. Who knows? Maybe someday your grandchild will find your box of antique rulers and bottle caps, and will think it’s the coolest collection in the world!
  8. If your entire life had to be summarized in just ONE sentence, what would you want it to say? What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? What kind of legacy do you want to leave for future generations? What changes can you make that will begin to shape and mold the ONE sentence that describes your life? Hint: It’s not necessarily about WHAT you did, it’s more about WHO you were. “She was always such a graceful lady.” “He was such a funny guy.” “She was such a kind and generous soul.” “He was committed to his family.” “She was faithful to the end.” “He never gave up on his dreams.” “She sure went through a lot, but she was one tough cookie.”
  9. What do you believe at the core of who you are? Believe me, your core beliefs will show up on your obituary. What do you believe, and how is that being expressed in your life? It’s worth pondering today and every day.
  10. What would be devastating and terribly unfortunate if it never showed up in your obituary? What are your dreams, your plans for your life? Is there some goal, some life aspiration, some way of living and being that you need to commit to so that someday when your obituary is written, it will actually show up and be remembered? What is your one true calling? Are you short-changing yourself? Are you foregoing your dreams for daily pursuits that don’t have any long-lasting legacy power? Are you selling your soul for things that won’t really matter at the end of life? If you were to die today, what would be missing from your obituary tomorrow? Move towards the thing that’s missing.

That’s it. That’s all I learned from writing someone’s obituary.

Be blessed. Be a blessing. Live life as if it counts. Live today as if it’s your last.

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It’s Okay to be Mad at God

I woke in my parents’ guest room to Monday morning thunderstorms.

Rain and thunder gave way to the weather channel app. Needless to say, the day’s forecast did NOT look good. Heavy rain until 1:00 p.m. A 20-40% chance of rain between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Then downhill from there.

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The forecast gave way to a Facebook post that went something like this: “Please pray for today’s weather and I’m serious. The golf tournament in honor of my dad and his upcoming lung transplant is scheduled for today from 1-6 p.m. CST. Ideally, we need sunshine or overcast with NO RAIN between 1-8 p.m. Our family has been going through bad and very bad times for 14 years. If we could just have this one day of sunshine that would be awesome.”

My Facebook post gave way to tears and prayers. I prayed 100 times over the course of 10 minutes. I prayed all the ways you could pray for weather and then some. “Dear God, please make it stop raining between 1-8 p.m. today so we can have the golf tournament in honor of my dad. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Dear God, please make it stop raining. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Dear Heavenly Father, you are so good and we know you can do anything. Please make the sun come out at 1:00 and stay dry until 8:00 so we can have this tournament for my dad. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Dear God, please make it stop raining. In Jesus’ name, please make it stop raining. Please make it stop raining.”

Tears and prayers gave way to my mom yelling through the door between the bathroom and guest room. “The tournament is canceled because of thunderstorms, and has been RESCHEDULED for next Monday the 18th.”

I was SO angry.

I popped my head out the bathroom door, told my parents how mad I was, told them to go, and confirmed (BY YELLING VERY LOUDLY) that I WASN’T mad at them, I was mad at God.

Couldn’t we just have this one day after all we’ve been through?

More tears.

24 minutes after I published the Facebook post asking for prayers for good weather, I deleted it. My dad had been in contact with the owners of the golf course. The golf tournament was officially POSTPONED due to thunderstorms that were projected to last all day. No use bothering people with worry and negativity when I already knew that prayer wasn’t going to be answered.

Did I mention that I was SO angry?

Of all things, now weather’s going to get in the way?

I’m 95% confident I’ve NEVER been more angry at God. He knows the hell my family of origin has been through the past 14 years. If God is so good, why couldn’t he just grant us this ONE day of sunshine, this ONE ray of hope, this ONE day we’d be surrounded by friends and family and feel loved, supported and cared for without more roadblocks. Couldn’t He just give us this ONE day?

I was so angry that I’d driven all the way to my parents’ house and stayed overnight for nothing.

I was so angry that my husband and two big kids had driven 1 hour 30 minutes and were already 3/4 of the way to my parents’ house when I had to call and tell them to turn around.

I was so angry that my brother was there with his friend, that they both took the day off from work and came especially for the golf tournament. I was so angry that he seriously might NOT be able to come on the rescheduled date.

I was so angry that all the food and prizes had been prepared, tee times had been arranged, schedules had been rearranged for this…and now it’d have to be moved to a week later.

I was so angry thinking about the people who might fall through the cracks now that the tournament was rescheduled because we all know that this week’s schedule is RARELY the same as next week’s.

I was so angry that we’d have to go through this all over again in one week, that we’d have yet another chance to worry about rain.

I was so angry thinking about my dad on oxygen, about to go on a lung transplant list, and why does it seem like everyone else’s dads are healthy and playing golf without a second thought?

I was so angry thinking back on everything we’ve been through the past 14 years, and now God can’t grant this ONE day of sunny or simple overcast weather?

If you know me at all, you know I’m NOT an angry person.

But I was angry that morning.

The most angry I’ve ever been.

I see God in everything. I give Him credit where credit is due. I have no problem seeing His work and grace in good and VERY bad times. But this crossed MY line. If God can do all things and knows everything we’ve been through, why we couldn’t he make this one day of sunny? Why couldn’t we have this ONE day of goodness? Honestly, I still don’t know why it thunderstormed all the live long day.

No doubt about it, I was set on leaving my parent’s house as quickly as possible. I got up. Got ready for the day. Didn’t fix my hair because who really cares and it’s pouring rain anyway. Threw my dirty clothes in the suitcase and zipped it up. I made it clear to my mom, dad and my 4-year-old daughter that “We’re leaving soon, like 10 minutes from now, and we’re NOT eating muffins before we go.”

I didn’t want the muffins.

I wasn’t buying my parents’ seemingly calm and grace-filled reasoning that “We can’t control the weather. We’re not happy either, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

God could have done something about this, and chose NOT to for some reason beyond me.

I didn’t want the muffins.

I tried explaining to my four year old that we were leaving in as few words as possible, but she wanted the muffins.

She started crying.

I started crying.

She got the muffins because what’s the use of depriving a four year old of muffins in the midst of misery?

I lay in my parents’ guest bed staring out the rain-dropped window while my daughter ate muffins.

“I don’t know why my mom is so sad,” my daughter said to my parents.

“The clouds are mean,” said my 2 1/2-year-old nephew after a loud clap of thunder.

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After what seemed like a 30-minute breakfast, the blueberry muffins were finally gone, the skim milk was finally ingested. I was ready to go home.

I walked right through the rain and loaded the bags in the trunk like it was an emergency.

My sister gave me a hug.

My parents told me to call them later.

And off we went back home.

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Later that afternoon, I became numb. By early evening, I was exhausted.

My husband asked WHAT we could do to make me feel better? He was operating at an 8, and judged me to be a -3. Maybe a hot shower followed by a movie by myself in our bedroom?

I rented a crier about a woman who had breast cancer and then died from brain cancer because WHY NOT feel all the feels? I breathed deeply and let myself sink into the bed. After the movie, I had a huge knot that hurt on one side of my neck. I, of course, was imagining I had brain cancer because I’ve had so many headaches lately, and after today, I wouldn’t be surprised if something big happened to me, too.

Apparently, the shower and movie DID help! I felt better yesterday. Tuesday was MUCH better than Monday.

But Wednesday afternoon, anger came trickling back in when I least expected it.

Why is a small, but growing segment of the blogosphere freaking out about the “hidden dangers of Pokemon Go?” Why are we finding fault in a game that encourages kids to get out on their bikes, go to parks, check in at churches, and gets them actively engaged with friends and family? I’d forgotten how frustrated I can get with Christians who don’t seem tuned in to real life, who forget that that the world has more serious concerns than the “witchcraft origins” of a cartoon character. Can’t we all just get along? Don’t we have more important things to worry about? I’d been sensing a POSITIVE blog post rising up in me about this crazy Pokemon Go phenomenon, but after reading that Pokemon post this afternoon, I sensed the frustration within and couldn’t stop taking deep breaths over this stupidity. For the good of all parties, there will be NO blog post about Pokemon Go.

The BRAND NEW capris I bought 12 days ago and only wore once to a wet photo shoot were full of grass and mud stains that weren’t coming out. I left the capris in the laundry room, went outside to pick weeds in the garden, threw away trash from wherever I could find it, and deadheaded begonias in the window boxes while the children played water guns.

After all that, I went inside to make myself a bowl of bing cherries and purposely put ONE bright red cherry on top for goodwill.

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A bowl of cherries, a minute of self care on our front porch, and a four-year-old neighbor girl later, MY ONE BRIGHT RED CHERRY WAS GONE! I’d saved that ONE bright red cherry for last for a reason, and she ate it right out of my bowl with no remorse whatsoever.

“You ate my last cherry!” I uttered in surprise like only a four (forty) year old could.

She ate my one, bright red cherry, the one I handpicked for myself.

A minute later, after cherry girl and the other kids left to play, I sat and stared at the white clouds drifting through the sky.

I needed to chill.

I needed to get a grip.

Our neighbors parked a parade float in their driveway and had music up loud as they were repairing the sound system. Honestly, the music resonated incredibly well with my soul as I was picking weeds. Now an hour or two later as I sat sat on the porch watching clouds – somehow NOT surprised that my one, bright red, self-care, all-things-bright-and-cheery cherry had been eaten by a four year old – a new song played.

A song like no other.

No beating.

No drums.

No partying or raging.

No anger or injustice.

Just a sweet, simple song.

Totally out of character. Totally unexpected. Totally out of nowhere.

Baby You’re Mine.

Baby You’re Mine.

I nestled into the comfy porch couch and let the sweet tune and simple lyrics settle into my soul as they may.

The sky was blue.

Clouds drifted, their movement barely perceivable.

Tears.

I was still angry. I still felt a fire within. A fire for justice and all things GOOD instead of evil. But in my heart I knew the truth. I could see and feel the truth. It’s okay to be mad at God. He can handle it. He’s bigger than anger, better and beyond human comprehension.

Grace is always around the corner.

Baby You’re Mine.

Amy - Dear Gentri: First of all, I want to say that I am so sorry for the loss of your brother, and now your sweet mama. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to understand WHY God allows things to happen. I, too, will have some very important questions for Him. 11 days have passed since the day I got most “ANGRY” at God. I want to be clear. I was NOT mad about thunderstorms, rain, tee times and muffins. The rain and thunderstorms were a TRIGGER to everything that’s been building up, for everything that’s happened in my family these past 14 years. No, I haven’t LOST anyone to death, but there has been a LOT of pain and a lot of grieving and a LOT of never-ending trials. I’m weary. I’m exhausted. I’m spent. I’d like to have some simple days where there’s not another medical or other type of crisis. And I’d like that for my family as well. The enemy has been on the prowl, and I guess that’s what I’m mad about. Maybe I wasn’t angry at God. Maybe I was mad at the ENEMY. Because he’s tried and tried and tried again to kill, steal, destroy and dig his heels in our family. But I’m here to proclaim it won’t work! Thank you for your prayers, and I pray for peace as you go through yet another time great grieving for your mama. I’m so sorry, Gentri.July 22, 2016 – 7:29 am

Gentri - Amy,
Hi Love,
As I sit reading this, I realize this was posted on Thursday, July 14. I also, am angry with God. Very angry! This hit me hard as July14, 2016 is 20 years since I lost my twin brother to a car accident. You, being my college roommate, knows this. You can darn well bet, when I get to heaven, I will be first in line, hands on my hips, tapping my front toe, asking the ‘Big Guy’ my many questions. I was a bit ‘set back’ when I read that you were so upset over thunderstorms, rain, tee times & muffins. Why? Because you still have your dad. You still have your mom. Your sister. And your brother. Am I bitter? Yes. Am I angry? Yes. Does my husband and girls deserve ‘family of the year’ award for putting up with me? Definitely. Why? Because on May 2, this year, I also lost my momma, for forever. Cancer.
Amy, be Thankful that you still have your family because I would give anything…thunderstorms, rain, golf or muffins to be able to hug both mine one more last time. I continue to pray for your daddy and Seth.
XXOO
GentriJuly 18, 2016 – 10:11 pm

Cyndy Johnson - We all reach a breaking point! I’m glad you allowed yourself to have your moment, think about it, and move on.July 14, 2016 – 7:03 pm

Carol Femling - Yes, I’ve NEVER seen you angrier than last Monday morning! GOOD news for you! We found out yesterday that the golf course was waiting to make the potato salad and coleslaw until that morning, so…. NO waste of food for the cancelled tournament last Monday!! They froze the beef and all will be fine!! YAY!!!! Another bit of GOOD news for you…. There are 94 people signed up for the golf tournament this Monday, the 18th. No one has dropped out—GOOD news again for you!!!! Today we go to the U of MN for your dad’s last checkup before he is officially placed on the lung transplant list this coming Monday, July 18th. It will be a GOOD day when he finally gets his transplant!! I’ve had my years of crying and heartache. Either I’m numb now or something, as I think I took last Monday’s weather as something we could NOT control and I was ok with that. You see, God is GOOD..Amy!!! Stop worrying and know that our God is in control, no matter what!! Love you and maybe we’ll see you today!?? XOXO ❤️ PS: Maisie really enjoyed being able to eat her muffins before you too off!! Thank you for allowing her that small pleasure.July 14, 2016 – 3:23 pm

Peggy Lynn Groenwold - Interesting! Yes, we all feel anger like you did, at times. Satan is getting his way and casting doubt that anything can be good. My prayers are to defeat this warfare he is perpetrating in this situation! Hopefully next Monday will have great weather for the tournament! You will rise above this with God’s help!July 14, 2016 – 3:05 pm

Her Pain. Your Pain. Hide No More.

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Beauty.

Gnashing.

Gnawing.

Love.

Truth.

Justice.

Know.

Know justice.

No justice.

The story is mine, He declares. The story is mine.

She’s yearning to break free. Yearning to break loose.

Justice is on her side. Justice.

Weep no more, I declare. Weep no more.

For the day is coming.

I will prevail.

Fear not, dear ones. Fear not.

Come to me all who are weary. Come.

My burden is light.

My yoke is easy.

Fear not.

I am tried and true.

True.

Truth.

It will set you free. Indeed.

The light, the truth, the way. I am.

Seek justice. Justice.

On earth as it is in heaven.

Surrender your lives.

For the sake of others.

Your yearning is hers.

Her pain is yours.

Her breath is yours.

Her pain. Your pain.

Hear her.

Hide no more.

Hide no more.

Monica Anderson Palmer - Amen and amenJuly 7, 2016 – 7:31 pm

You’re Almost There

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In loving memory of Olivia and Steve. In honor of their families.

Music’s pulled me through the two weeks between Africa and Christmas. It’s fitting that the only post I visioned for Christmas is inspired by song.

Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant’s rendition of “Almost There” caught me off guard this week. I’d almost forgotten I’d heard it and loved it before. This time it was fresh, inspired, divinely grand – more than before.

I’ve been thinking about you…and me.

We’re almost there.

You’re almost there.

Christmas.

It’s a promise of love. A promise of light, life and better days ahead. A promise of a Savior, Jesus. A promise of eternal hope that exceeds all earthly hopes. A promise that our pain is temporary, absolutely incomparable to the glory yet to be revealed. A promise that we can surrender and receive the gift of grace, no strings attached.

I could’ve mustered a light-hearted post, a Christmas giveaway post or a “Christmas Wishes for You” post. I could’ve skipped a Christmas post, just forgotten about it this year. I could’ve counted my sister’s words as my Christmas post and left it at that. I could’ve decided or written just about anything, really. But my heart of heart’s telling me a whole lot of people are hurting, hopeless, lonely, overwhelmed, and seeking something more this Christmas.

Sure, not everyone.

But many.

We’re hiding in the woodwork, aren’t we?

Hiding.

Waiting.

For someone to acknowledge. For someone to tell us…you’re almost there. You’ve got this, friend. You’re going to make it.

And your life? It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. You’re here for a reason, a purpose. You’re part of a grand design, an epic story you can’t even begin to wrap your mind around.

Keep pressing on, friend.

You’re almost there.

It’s Christmas.

Your promise.

Your hope.

Your firm foundation.

The place and peace you’ve been waiting for.

You’re almost there, friend. You’re almost there.

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To the ones who lost their spouse this year, I see you. Whether your spouse’s death came tragically and senselessly, or you knew it was coming for years and years, it hurts all the same. Who knows WHY, HOW, or NOW? Only God, dear ones. Only God. Surround yourself with loved ones. Rest. Believe. Seek peace. Absolutely, without a doubt, cry when you need to. Know you were and are loved. Deeply. Wholeheartedly. Unconditionally. You are a fighter. You are a lover, a believer. Keep pressing on, friend. Life’s waiting for you. We’re here for you.

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To the ones who felt lonely this year, I see you. Life’s demanding. Fast paced. Achievement oriented. Life leaves little time for relationship. Friend, if you’ve been lonely, take heart. Believe you’re worthy of pursuit, friendship and love. Reach out. Let someone know you’re not doing this alone, you can’t do this alone. Let your heart come undone. Be vulnerable. Take a risk. If someone strikes your fancy, make sure they know. “Hey, can we chat?” Or “Hey, you wanna go get coffee?” Let that guard down. Be a little vulnerable next year. Show your colors, friend. Start a friendship and relationship revolution. And when all else fails, turn to God. Tell him you’re lonely, trust Him to fill the void with Himself, with others.

Olivia

To the ones who lost a child this year, I see you. Why was her life taken so soon, God? Why? We don’t understand. We don’t know why. Why show us the glimmer, the hope of a life filled with promise, then take her sweet soul home well before the timeline we deem satisfactory? To you, oh you, I see you. I don’t even begin to fathom your pain this Christmas, your love and your loss. Nobody will ever fill your sweet baby’s spot at the Christmas table. You don’t ever need to take down that stocking. That special spot, that special place she held in your heart and your life, it’s reserved for her and her alone. You move on, yes. Life goes on, yes. But your precious baby’s spirit lives on, too. Through your living. Through your being brave. Through your fragility, your vulnerability. Through your strength. Through your living example of what it means to trust and believe you’ll meet again, you’ll embrace again, you’ll be together again. And in the meantime, love like your heart’s on fire. Together or separated for now, LOVE.

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To the ones sick and in forever limbo this year, I see you. If one thing’s for sure, you’ve been through a lot. While you’ve frequented clinics, hospitals and ERs, the world’s gone on. Sometimes it seems nobody sees, nobody knows the full extent of your pain, your half-living, half-dying life. Nobody knows the steps you’ve taken, the places you’ve limped, the ground you’ve wheeled. Only you, my friend, know what it’s like to live and know this life is truly temporary. I’ve not been sick, my friend, but I see you. I honor you. Lift your head high. Conquer that illness. Live fearlessly. Live each day like it’s your last. Be loved. Love. Trust that better days are ahead. Teach us how to fight the good fight.

Target

To the ones wandering blankly through life, I see you. I saw you in Target yesterday, friend. Your eyes were empty. You barely saw me. You’re empty, friend. Life’s taken it out of you. You’re literally wandering, wondering, lost. I’m not sure if you even know, friend. I’m not sure you’re aware. I want to enter your world, stop you in your tracks. Stop moving, friend. Stop going. Stop trying all the things to fill the void. Stop believing you’re a robot. Friend, you’re so much more than this. So much more. You’re so much more than productivity, accomplishment and achievement. You’re so much more than your actions, your decisions, your duties and daily delights. Stop, friend. See. Be. Live. Connect. Look into someone’s eyes. Feel something, anything. Cry. Release it all. Sit down, friend. You are MORE THAN THIS. Take in the beauty. See the sights. Rest. You are not a machine. Life is better than it’s been. Take heart, friend. Take ahold of your heart. Open your eyes. I want to see your eyes. I want to see your soul. Wipe our eyes, God, so we can see. And be. All you want us to be.

We’re almost there, friends.

You’re almost there.

Christmas.

The promise of Jesus, a Savior.

The promise of love and peace and joy that passes all understanding.

To Mary, I see you. You’re carrying Him, baby Jesus. He who has…shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”  (Isaiah 9:4-7) Thank you for pondering these things in your heart. Thank you.

You’re almost there.

We’re almost there.

To God, our Heavenly Father, I see you. Thank you. For sending Jesus. For creating us. For releasing us from death, sin, loneliness, fear and pain. For giving us hope. For extending grace when we least deserve it and most need it. For living in us so we might see truth and life. For living in us so we can shine and be a light unto the world. For bringing and being beauty amidst our earthly existence. For everything, yes, everything. Thank you.

You’re almost here.

You’re here.

greensig

 

Gayle Gilbertson - Thanks Amy! You write beautifully.December 28, 2015 – 4:58 am

Judy Sandberg - Thank you, Amy.December 26, 2015 – 10:51 pm