My Rock Piles

I was asked to speak this year at my church – on my Christmas Joy. But, how could I speak on Joy when I am not happy?

If you have about 7 or 8 minutes, have a listen; I hope you will be encouraged. May you finish this year out well and enter the New Year stronger !

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SJdYMKhDNQ6RVHLGeGEA1Gmsxm1K68cM/view?usp=sharing

Two Years Greiving an Overdose Death

“THEY” say… that the second year is the hardest.

So I braced myself.

Stealing the words of my husband, he says, the second year is more reflective.

Does that make it the hardest?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see my reflection and I am pleased with what I see; and other times, well – you know… I do not like what I see.

So perhaps it is so.

The second year may be deemed the hardest because it is reflective; reflective of both the good and the bad.

We, who grieve an overdose death, know that there are both kinds of memories. The before-drugs-and-addiction-memories and the after-drugs-and-addiction-memories. Built up hopes and dashed hopes follow too. PTSD is residually strong, even with a firm foundation in Jesus Christ.

Two years in, things are changed and being remade. Holes in the walls are patched up, his room is repurposed, his clothes and car have a new owners, and his garden space is reclaimed by nature. One small shelf in the kitchen holds a tiny basket of Caleb’s trinkets, his photo, his Bible, and exudes his constant presence.

Occasionally I flip through his childhood album. I can hear the chuckles and the family babble as I turn each page that reflect the early years of my son’s life. I can feel the energy and surge of pride, passion, and compassion as I turn each page during his athletic accomplishments. I see his heart as I pause at his baptismal page and strain to recall the words he spoke as he commited his life to Jesus. Graduation pictures fill the last pages. Yes, all good memories and tears flow as I wish for a 3-D hug with my son. The before-drugs-and-addiction-memories are so sweet.

Hardest?

Yes, missing the good memories is hardest.

Yet, often, my mind rolls the not-so-good times over and over: the angry, scary, anxious moments, the hurtful, deceived, numbing moments. The things I did, that I thought I would never do moments. These are PTSD fuel. The “what-ifs” and “whys” flood like the 40 days of rain and my raven never seems to come back. Dents in appliances remain as constant reminders of hard times, for him, and for me. Regrets fall like dominoes across my heart: more PTSD fuel. The after-drugs-and-addiction memories are painful.

Hardest?

Yes, reliving the moments that have left scars is the hardest.

All the grace and heartfelt help, spun with urgency and love so deep, built up hope – hope for a redeemed future! The “Mentor” sweatshirt he earned in detox, friends made at the soberhouse, a job with a second chance, and a wedding to attend… hope on the horizon. Faith, that things would work out and that everything-would-be-okay, buoyed me along.

Then all hope was dashed.

Caleb’s own pain, his own suffering weakened him towards relapse; he knew it, he was scared, and the Beast overcame him that one night of mistakes…. despite our prayers and the prayers of many. My son died of an accidental overdose May 27, 2018.

Hardest?

Yes, dashed hopes are hardest.

What now?

A blue heart marks my calendar; one week til I meet the two year mark without my son.

What now?

Will the third year be any different?

I think not. I think every year will be the hardest. What do you think?

Time from here on in will be reflective over both the sweetness and the pain. This is life for me now.

Enduring the hardest times, God is still good and He sustains me and blesses me, even still. All jargon aside, the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so, I live on, taking the love I hold in my heart for Caleb and doing good with it, I hope, to honor his life.

…still loving you deeply, Caleb, til we meet in heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORMAL(Part III): The Unchanging Changer

Change.

There is this phenomena that says people, in general, do not like change. People like comfortable familiarity, like a well worn, nubby sweater. I have a nubby sweater I love to wear… it’s red.

But, personally, I generally like change and look forward to the new opportunities that could come with the hopeful creating of a new-normal that is better than the normal I had before – a change that might bring more vibrancy to my life.

So…

No change, or change?

How will the scales balance out in this new-normal coming post-pandemic?

I do not know the answers to this question, but I know who does. And, I know He desires to be the center of the new-normal for many people.

He is the Unchanging Changer.

He is the vertical relationship we were created for.

He is always the same, therefore can be counted upon for every need.

He is the One who sustained me in the tragedies I mentioned in my previous posts and He is the One who holds me now during all the unrest this pandemic brings. I do not know the future, but He does.

The truth is, this Unchanging God is actually a Changer; In fact, I might conclude, His main mission is to bring about change.

Thirty years ago He changed me and He has been changing me ever since.

He uses difficult trials in my life to bring about heart-change in me. He changes my heart so that I can see who I am in comparison to Him, the Almighty, Loving Father. Because He is the unchanging, I can lean on Him to face the dark days, as well as the bright days, with equal confidence because of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, who loves me so completely, He gave His life and opened the Way for me to have eternal life when I pass from this one; this allows a constant underlying vibrancy to my life.

Nothing shakes this change in me, no matter what – not illness, loss, grief, or even world-wide pandemics – because I am completely secure in the LORD.

Do you know Him?

… are you brave enough, are you willing?

As the new-normal unfolds in the days and months to come, will you consider seeking and knowing the Unchanging Changer

and make Him the center of your new-normal?

Got questions?

Ask.

Be well my readers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORMAL (Part II): Paint on the Paintbrush

Are we brave enough? Are we willing enough?

Leaning forward,

arm extending at an upward angle,

breath inhaling,

an artist sits before a blank canvas with paint on the paintbrush.

And, if this artist is anything like me, there is a slight hesitation before that first brush stroke, before the paint on the paintbrush meets the white of the canvas, changing it’s look entirely.

Am I brave enough to put that color down? Am I willing enough to take the risk?

Yes. These are the questions I am asking today while we come closer to the new-normal, post Covid-19.

An artist relies on past experiences; brilliant creations alongside failed creations. It’s all in the learning to know what works and what does not.

So, all metaphorical visuals aside, let me ask you this:

What are you learning while in-the-battle,

enduring the stress,

the changes,

the uncomfortableness,

and the losses that dictate the days,

right now, during this pandemic?

(PAUSE)

What is most missed by you?

What is most important to you?

What are you glad to be without?

(PAUSE)

Now.

Lower your arm and let the color fill the white of your canvas. Go ahead, take the risk and put the color down.

Are you brave enough? Are you willing enough?

My brush stroke creates the image of everyone I love, sitting close enough to hug, on a day dappled with sunshine beneath the large maple tree in my yard. My painting would have this image repeated and repeated and repeated, ad infinitum – capturing the essence of time filled with the closeness of the people I love.

Would your color stroke depict something similar?

I think, and I guess, maybe so – and I know why.

We all are created as relational beings. We were made to crave companionship, physical contact, and love.

The greatest Artist that ever existed is the One who created you in the womb; in the womb you were known – the first relationship initiated, it is written in the DNA of all humans. I am not talking about your mother, she came second in your relationships. I am talking about God. From the beginning, God knew we humans need the companionship of other humans in order to thrive in the best way; the horizontal line of relationship one to another.

This is why I am not surprised at what I imagine to be the most common thing missed during this time of pandemic-induced social distancing:

Family,

loved ones,

people/community,

and all the similes from there.

So,

am I… (?),

are you… (?),

brave enough to demand that your new-normal includes an increase of time spent with loved ones? Are we willing enough to allow it to be the forefront of our paintings and push to the background, the busy-ness and non-relational demands? Can we urge authorities to be more mindful of this most important and basic need of humanity as they decide what to dictate to us about “returning to normal?” I believe the old-normal forgot this along the way.

What if…

… family time was more important than homework,

more important than overtime,

than the economic recovery (what do we need to recover to anyway – who decides that mark)?

What if school days were shorter,

work days were shorter,

and naps and vacations more plentiful?

What if we listened more, cared more, invested more into the lives around us?

Would these changes actually make us better and healthier people, students, workers, communities, and thrust us into a more abundant economy simply because we are living a more loving, refreshed life?

The canvas is white!

The paintbrush is in my hand, your hand, individually and collectively….

are we brave enough, willing enough to create a new-normal that is better than the normal we had before?

 

Stay tuned:

NORMAL (Part III): The Unchanging Changer

 

 

 

NORMAL(Part I): It’s Gone Forever

Let’s face it….

The NORMAL we once knew is gone forever. This is how I know.

I birthed a stillborn baby.

I had cancer.

I had a son who died of an overdose.

After each one of these traumatic events in my life, NORMAL was altered forever. And this is just how it is; No one escapes the long term affects of hardships and traumas. The experiences of Covid-19 will render the same. Normal: it’s gone forever.

I do not aim to be a Debbie-downer, but let’s face it… this is reality.

Grace was my fifth pregnancy, and I thought all things would be normal. As she lay lifeless in my arms after twelve hours of induced labor, my outlook  upon life changed. Cognizant, I was face to face with the sovereignty of God: He is the opener and closer of wombs, He is the giver and taker of life, He does what He wants for His purposes. I did not take pregnancies or the creation of life for granted as I may have.  And, God blessed me with five more children.

Stage 3A cancer blasted me from normal life into a year of hellish treatments and surgeries that teetered me on the edge of life and death.  I survived, yet normal life as it was, is gone. There are scars: caustic treatments destroyed my digestive system and I now, must constantly watch what goes into my mouth so that I am not in pain or tied to the bathroom for hours. This is a new normal for me; Tedious and not pleasant, yet I am glad to be alive and often praise God for my breath – inhale/exhale, each day a gift.

Despite all my efforts, love, and prayers… my son died of a sudden, accidental, overdose. Caleb was plagued with common mental issues and he succumbed to addiction, detoxed, was clean, relapsed, then died; that is the short story. The two year anniversary date comes up in just twenty nine days and it will be emotionally hard, again – but honestly, everyday is still hard; family-normal is gone forever as well. Sudden loss, too soon, in our human thinking changes life and how I think.  Some things just do not fit in our brains; we cannot comprehend what does not make sense to us. And yet, again, I am sustained and I am blessed each day I live, by a loving God.

Changed, I am: mentally, physically, and spiritually. I currently live what I call a new-normal life – even still, that is about to be altered, again.

The fall out from Covid-19, no matter how each of us is affected, is ushering in a new-normal, to be revealed very soon.

Yes, the old Normal: It is gone forever.

Grieve it.

It’s okay.

The logical news is this:

A NEW NORMAL will present itself, and by the mercy of God, we will meander into the unfolding with increased grace and compassion.

My advice?

Don’t fight it, it’s not a battle that can be won. I urge you to embrace it.

Some of the new-normal will be dictated upon us by governments and authorities over us, yet some things in the new-normal will be dictated by what we each have learned. That new-normal is up to us as individuals and as the collective community of America; Great opportunity is before us to create a better new-normal!

The question is: are we brave enough? Are we willing enough?

Stay tuned…

NORMAL (Part II): Paint on the Paintbrush

NORMAL (Part III): The Unchanging Changer