Man-made Geysers

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Right now I have many many emotions shooting out from inside of me. It reminds me of a fountain underground. Several holes in the pavement shoot up water of all different lengths and you never know when the man made geysers will appear. It’s very unpredictable, but beautiful at the same time.

August 12th was my anniversary. I would have been married 8 years. Close friends and family who knew, called me and thought of me in their prayers. It should have been a hard day, but I have to be honest. It was a weird day, but it was not hard. There was nothing tangible in my day to remind me that there was something missing. It’s like the day just didn’t exist.

To my surprise, a day that is coming up, a day of celebration for someone who both Chris and I loved and still love very much, already has a floodgate of emotions tied very strongly to it. As I think about celebrating the beautiful “daughter” we were able to love and take care of for 20 months, I so badly want Chris there. Aiyana is turning 8 tomorrow, I can’t believe it! I will be with her and her brother and sisters, her moms, her cousins, her aunts and uncles who we all know so well because they are our second family. Her “Dad” wont be there though.

I can’t tell you why, because from the outside world perspective it doesn’t make any sense, but right now tomorrow seems to shoot up higher with emotions of joy and sadness then it did at Gabby’s birthday, our own child. Chris had more time to be a dad to Aiyana, and we fell in love with her as well as all of her others brothers and sisters, together.

Understanding this and experiencing these emotions have made me realize that Gabby wont be the only one who I will be writing letters to to talk about their Daddy. I will be writing to 5 kids about their Daddy. Gabby will also have 4 brothers and sisters who will be able to tell her what type of Dad Chris was to them and how they remember him.

So here goes,

Dear birthday girl!

I can’t believe you are 8 tomorrow! I am so proud of you, and Chris would have been so proud of you too! You are so smart and we were always amazed at how well you did in school. Remember the spelling game that we would play all the time around dinner? You LOVED trying to spell hard words. You are growing up so fast and becoming quite the social butterfly. You were pretty shy when you first came to live with us, and now when I come over to your house, you have lots of friends and things going on that pretty soon I am going to have to be penciled in on your calendar.

You always helped us take care of your younger brothers and sisters including Gabby. You will make a wonderful mom someday which is what you want to be when you grow up 🙂 You can be anything you want to be!

I am sorry Chris can’t be here to watch you open your presents or throw a baseball with you or rough house with you, but remember all of the fun we had together and the example of love he showed to you. Remember the things he taught you and the example he gave to you. Even though he is not here, he will always be like a Dad to you. That will never change.

I love you sweetheart!

Gina (A.K.A. Mommy #3)

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Holding on to the stories, not the stuff.

Why is it so hard to part with our stuff? It’s just that right? stuff?

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I had a garage sale today and yesterday. I was excited to see at first that there was a lot selling. I want to live with less, much less then I am living with right now. I am desiring simplicity more and more and this is one step in the right direction. Most of it I said good riddance to, but a lot of Chris’s things were in the garage sale as well. All of his clothes, his shoes, his posters, his old baseball cards, these things were a little harder to say good bye too. It’s a reminder that he is no longer here.

There were a couple of things that I put out and then later regretted selling. “I should have kept that for Gabby when she is older.”
“Would he have wanted me to sell this?”
Thoughts like this went through my mind and the weight of regret and guilt and sorrow was heavy.

However, a friend reminded me that it’s about the stories of that person that keeps their example and witness alive. It’s not the stuff.

Sure Gabby would like some of her Daddy’s things when she is older. There are some specific things saved already. But what she is really going to remember are the stories. Stories of how her Daddy loved baseball and how he was the most competitive person you will ever meet. She will remember the stories about how he loved Grammy’s cookies or how he ate an exorbitant amount of shrimp scampi at Red Lobster with his best friends. She will learn about who he was and what mattered most to him and follow his example even after he is gone. She will learn about his extreme devotion to his students when she reads the letters they all wrote to her.

Gabby will know her Daddy. She will hear about his life from myself and her family and all of our friends, and she will know his spirit.

So when I die, because we all do, I want people to remember me by my life not by my stuff. The way I see it, the more I can get rid of and give to others, the better. And the more I can recall, recount, write and live out Chris’s life and example the richer I will be.

If you have any great memories or stories of Chris and wouldn’t mind sharing them, Gabby and I would love to read them.

Thanks!

Just Enough

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” C.S.Lewis

All of us know fear, in some form or another. We have felt it at a very young age. My daughter experiences fear sometimes when I walk out of the room or when her older brother Lorenzo surprised her wearing a Sully mask from Monsters Inc. The farthest back memory I have of fear is of shadows and darkness. The gleam of car headlights moving across the dark room ceiling or the dark basement light up like a firecracker for less then a second as lightning strikes outside the small window. My fears grew more and more every year, fear of other kids laughing at me, fear of large bugs, fear of not being good enough at a sport, fear of bad dreams, fear of being kidnapped.

Some fears were born because of a terrifying experience and some fears were created because of imagining what might be. The world gives us a reason to fear. Sometimes fear can be good, its there to protect us. But most of the time, fear will control us and keep up from living as God intended. Pain and sorrow and loss will reveal to you fears you never knew you had.

My three biggest fears right now are:
1. That the loneliness and pain of loosing Chris will not allow me to really live.
2. That truly living and being happy will make me forget.
3. That I will miss what God wants to do with me because I will be too consumed with my own fear.

I have other fears, many. There are always several more when you become a Mom and a single mom at that.

So what do I do with my fear? A response I heard growing up before I experienced any sort of loss or real pain myself is, “give your fear to God and he will take it.” It makes it sound like you can hand it over in one fell swoop and it all disappears. Believe me, I have tried it and it doesn’t disappear.

And then I realized that without fear I wouldn’t have a chance to be brave. The fear doesn’t go away overnight, it shows up day after day after day. But when I let God in and tell him what I am afraid of and tell Him how weak I am, He tells me to ask for His strength so I can be brave, just enough for that very day.

A friend shared something with me a couple days ago. She and her husband went to Israel and they were taught and guided down the same roads Jesus walked. She told me that in Psalms 23 David says that God leads us into green pastures and beside still waters. Its this beautiful picture of thick green grass beside a deep calm lake. And then she said but out in that desert, where David would have been with his sheep there was no meadow or stream. But there were these small little patches of desert grass underneath rocks, and once they were overturned it was just enough grass for the flock of sheep. It was just enough for that day.

A couple months ago I read the Divergent series. I heard from some that ending was horrible so my expectations were low. For me however, the end was the best part of the entire story. I wont give anything away if you haven’t read it but I have to share this quote with you because its how I live right now.

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now. ”
(From Veronica Roth’s book “Allegiant”)

Its a slow walk and its painful, but I am given just enough to be brave for today.

A letter about your Daddy in you.

Dear Gabby,

Its been a little over five months since your Daddy went to live with Jesus. You’re 15 months old and your Daddy is coming out in you more than ever before. When the sun was too bright or an internal concentration took over, your Dad’s eyes would narrow and his mouth would stay slightly open. You have that same look.

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Your across the face half smile with your top teeth showing is your Daddy. Your love of bouncy balls, basketballs, tennis balls, plastic baby balls is from your Daddy. Your Dad’s hair would flip and curl at the ends when it was long, just like yours does. You have his courage. There is not much that scares you. Your eyes look exactly like his eyes. They are deep and they speak. Most of the time I can tell your mood by your eyes. It was the same with your Daddy. His eyes never lied.
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He is in you now, and he will still be in you when you start kindergarten, learn to swim, drive your first car, graduate from high school, and start a family. Your Daddy is a part of you. His strength, his compassion, his tenacity, his joy is all in you and a part of you.

One day you will ask me, “Why did God let Daddy die?” And I will tell you that I will not know that answer until I die and ask God that myself. But I will also tell you that in the sad and impossibly hard times of life is when I have held tightly to God’s hand in the dark, instead of using my own eyes in the light. And it was remembering and having inside me the strength and example of your Daddy that I kept going. The light of his spirit permeated every part of me and that has not died.
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I know its scary when there are no answers to your questions. You may have doubts and confusion that leave you helpless with no control over the most important things. But please remember that you have so much of your Daddy in you. Not just your eyes, hair, mannerisms and expressions but your spirit. Let it shine my daughter.

I love you,

Mommy

Confessions and Conversations (Confessions to single women and a private conversation with God)

In the last several months I am learning how to be single after being married for 7 1/2 years. Single women, especially with kids, I have the utmost respect for you. I am now walking in your shoes. My pain might be different then your pain, but I now understand the weight of making all decisions on your own. Always hoping you made the right choice. Even if I did think I was doing the right thing, I was always at complete peace when it was confirmed by my husband who I respected and loved. Its not only my husband that is no longer gone, but that peace I was given from his wisdom and discernment.

I now understand the nights of loneliness and how easy it is to fall into escaping your life with the TV, a Sci-Fi novel or Facebook. Spending your night writing honestly or in prayer before God will mean that everything in your life is real and bloody. I never had this much time before and as much as I don’t want it now, I do know its a gift and I feel guilty for not using it wisely.

I now understand what its like to feel that you don’t belong even in your own house. I understand how you accidentally pull away from all your friends who are still married, its just not the same anymore is it? And I understand how you don’t belong to any single gatherings unless you want to do more then just talk. There is lots of support but emotionally and mentally you just feel homeless.

There is a lot more I understand now and a lot more that God is teaching me. I am learning to walk in the dark and please don’t mistake this for a bad thing. In fact, I am able to listen clearer, notice more and judge less based on appearance when I am in the dark. Its scary but what better way to trust God completely then not being able to see whats in front of you.

So now, I’d like to share a conversation with you. One that I had with God a couple months ago. I wasn’t originally going to share this publicly, but I have come to realize that keeping it to myself would completely defeat the purpose of the conversation that I am about to share.

Me: Why can’t I sleep?
God: I believe you know why.
Me: Yes, perhaps I do.
God: I called your name, but you did not answer. Where were you?
Me: I . . . was distracted, watching a movie.
God: I see, and will this become a regular occurrence now?
Me: I don’t know, Sometimes it feels better then just the silence.
God: It’s numbing.
Me: Yes.
God: Is that why your distant?
Me: I don’t really know how to answer that.
God: You’ve been cheating on me.
Me: No . . . no its not the same. I just want to be in a different world, somewhere thats not my world.
God: to escape the pain and loneliness.
Me: Yes, I suppose . . . You took him away from me. You gave him to me and then you took him away!
God: I know you are saying this out of what you are feeling and not what you know, I am so sorry my love.
Me: You had the power to heal him and you choose not to.
God: My daughter, why is it now that you do not trust me?
Me: I trust you-
God: and yet you doubt my goodness.
Me: . . . forgive me, I know you are good.
God: Listen to me, and do not speak to quickly. You are trying to escape into something that is not real. And living an illusion, a lie. will only destroy you.
Me: Watching one movie is not going to destroy me.
God: Its not the movie, its the desire to escape your pain. A host of other things can do the very same thing- food, work, alcohol. Anything you want to do in order to block out the pain of being alone.
Me: I suppose I knew that, but it feels better to not think and be me, alone.
God: Then you have allowed yourself to be deceived.
Me: I guess so.
God: Tell me why?
Me: This is pointless, why must I answer you when you know? You understand better then I understand.
God: I know this is hard for you. It is not my intent to cause you pain but to clean your wounds. Please, answer the question.
Me: Sometimes an illusion is better then reality.
God: I could understand that if you were lost and you did not carry my very light inside of you. Please. . . open the eyes of your heart and ask me to take away what is covering that light and weighing you down.
Me: . . . fear? but what am I afraid of?
God: What are you trying to escape?
Me: From pain and sorrow and loneliness.
God: You are strong and you are not afraid of the pain itself. You are afraid that it will not end. You’re afraid it will knock you down and consume you.
Me: Yes, and it will if I allow it.
God: Allow it.
Me: What?
God: You have to trust me. You have to trust that I will take you out of it all when it is time. You cannot do this on your own, but if you want my help then you have to let me do it my way.
Me: This is insane! You want me to let the pain and sorrow consume me? You don’t want me to fight?
God: Lay your weapons down my love, keep your eyes on me and trust that I will deliver you.
Me: I don’t know how to not fight.
God: I will teach you. And in the end you will be complete.
Me: I don’t know if I can do this . . . what your asking is beyond what I can handle.
God: I know it is. Oh, and this is not a one time deal it is a decision you have to make day after day to not fight and surrender instead.
Me: Ok . . . this seems ridiculously impossible right now.
God: On your own, it is. I promise you, its worth it if you surrender to me, if you trust me. . . I love you, don’t stay away for to long.

* You have probably figured out how that ended, or began- depending on how you look at it. And now you have a little more context to explain my last post. Yes, the pain feels very consuming at times but how can we ever get rescued if we are never in trouble? And how can we ever be healed if we are never sick or broken? All of this, friends, is not a bad thing. Do not try and fight against the great pains and trials of this world. God, our lover and rescuer will give us joy out of our circumstances, a deeper love and understanding for others and a faith so unwavering that it can never fall.

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