In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Letter to Kara Tippetts

ON a different blog site that my friends and I are experimenting with, we are writing, "Thirty One Letters to Life."  One for each day of October.  This is the letter that I wrote for yesterday on that website, but I wanted to put it here also, because it feels so personal to my story.

Dear Kara Tippetts,

When I first started reading your blog (I'm sure anyone reading my blog has read hers), and learning of your plight with cancer, I felt like I had something to offer to you.  I felt like I wanted to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and tell you that your kids will be OK should your cancer progress.  I wanted to tell you that they will be lovers of Jesus, heaven and you in the most genuine and pure way.  That the lines between this life and life to come will in some ways blur for your kids.  But after months and months of following your blog, I'm pretty sure I have nothing to offer you that you don't already know.  I am quite sure that I have learned more about living after the death of a family member, from you, even though I should be the expert.     

Shortly after my husband died, I wrote a post about feeling like I was in a pile of hot coals, and to touch me, was to burn yourself.  In a way, I feel a bit of a parallel with your story.  Your story can feel so painful and so hot to the touch, that to even read your blog, it could burn a little.  Sometimes, I even turn away for a time, so I can gear up to read your latest thoughts.  But what I have found, in continuing to read each post, is that I find the warmth and not the burn.  In a story that feels so wrong, so scary, so what we all don't want to happen to us, you give it warmth.  You offer Jesus as the safe, place in a story full of scary.  You have reminded me that love never ends.  You have encouraged me to extend grace, patience and love, even when I was in so much physical pain over the past year.  You kept bringing my eyes back to Jesus.  You make suffering, much more than pain.  You even sometimes allow it to be named beautiful.  You have given permission to love Jesus in the most difficult of circumstances. From the outside, you seem to have grown less and less fearful and more and more confident of grace and the road God has called you to walk.  Yet, you have never pretended that this is anything, but the most difficult hard to walk through.  I am so humbled by your story and your story has given me so much freedom in loving Jesus through every hard piece of life and every beautiful gift of life.  

Having written all that, it turns out that I can't help, but to tell you one little story that I want to pass on to you.  I wasn't planning on it, but after I started this letter on Thursday, we had an event at church on Friday night.  It was a special worship service that revolved around loving our city One of the pastors asked if our family would join a bunch of other families in holding up signs that read, "God loves the broken hearted," or "God loves the homeless," etc. . .   The poster board that Spencer ended up with was, "God loves the fatherless."  When we went to the front of the church during the song, I had zero emotion.  I was just wondering where I should stand.  A few lines in, I saw Spencer a few people away from me on the top step, holding his sign, with such confidence.  He kept pushing it forward and holding it higher, as if to say,  "People, believe this!"  I don't even think that Spencer had any idea of what he was doing.  He wasn't intentionally holding his board like that trying to convince people that God loves the fatherless.  But it was a Holy Spirit moment. During the song, I was not watching anyone else.  I was just trying to hold my tears in (and I evidently wasn't worried about my zipper that was down, while I was holding a poster board above my head in front of the whole church).  At the time, I had no idea, what kind of impact this moment had on others until, countless people told me, with tears in their eyes every time, that they just lost it.  Nobody could totally explain why, but they all talked about his posture, while holding the sign.  Spencer was a walking testimony that night.  And he is all the time.  He has no agenda.  He is just walking around as a whole child.  Not broken.  Not cracked.  With a heart ten times the size as it was before Dave died.  He is not perfect, but there is something that God has done in His life, from the moment Dave died.  I believe that Dave sees it and that he knows all that, but it is something that I wish I could tell him.  I have no idea what Dave's death was like.  I don't know if he knew he was having a heart attack or if he just suddenly died, but if he knew what was happening at all, I wish that he could have supernaturally seen this moment somehow.

After Dave died, I was so beyond worried about my kids.  I still worry and I hurt for them that they don't have a dad, but it never occurred to me, when Dave first died, that my kids would walk around as little unknowing testimonies of God's healing hand and redemption.  I'm so fortunate to see it all the time.  Kara, maybe this sound presumptuous, but I know that your kids will be the same.  They get to just be them and God will be using them in every way to show His glory. After Dave died, a friend stated that God really will become so evident their lives.  I didn't totally believe her, because it seemed impossible that they would really be OK, but God has done immeasurably more in their lives than I ever could have imagined.

I'm still praying along with thousands of others that God will heal you.  That you will be on this earth until you are 101 . . . no if, ands, or buts!

You can't even see his face, but Spencer is in the top left of this picture.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Forty and the Future

One gift that Dave's death has left me, is to not take much of life too seriously.  There are occasions when an apt amount of seriousness is required, but Picture Day, is not one of them . . . anymore.  I took a few extra minutes last night to arrange cute outfits for picture day, but as it turns out, zero out of three of my children are wearing what everyone agreed to wear last night.  Spencer was determined to wear plaid with stripes and I forgot to check for bed head until he was exiting the van.   Leah was dancing with becoming undone before I agreed to let her wear orange fluorescent tights with her soft pink shoes and jacket.  In addition to the jarring contrast of her color tones, if you are wondering why a usual bow-less Leah is walking around with a big bow in her hair today, it is there for the sole purpose of covering up the yogurt that was crusted in her bangs from yesterday.  And, if you know anything about Ethiopian hair, you can guess that three minutes is not enough time to tame that mane.  I'm sure the pictures will reveal the chaos of our morning, but not in a bad way.  Had I cared, even a little too much, it could have had disastrous results, but I don't.  Maybe I'm still just way too thrilled that they are in school each and every day to worry about how they look, even on Picture Day.

Or maybe it is that I am one year older and wiser, as of September 8th.  I officially have to start checking the 40's box on the meet and greet folder in the pew each Sunday morning, now.  The funny thing is, that since I feel like I'm 65, due to being a widow and still feeling partially crippled from my back, 40 feels pretty young.  Some people take to the skies and head to places like NYC or Napa Valley for their 40th.  Me? I went for an impromptu twirl around the dance floor at the Ritz . . . Colorado Springs.  And I couldn't have been happier in that moment.  My two best friends from college had flown in, and those friends who happened to be available for a late night at the Ritz also found themselves where no husband would want their wives to be found.  Just kidding.  Seriously kidding!!!  It's not that bad - at least not from 9-11pm.  It was an interesting feeling to be thanking Jesus for his faithfulness with true sincerity, while I was reciting every last word of Salt 'N' Pepa's "Shoop," while on the dance floor.  I'm not sure that when Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, saying, "pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus,"  that this is what he had in mind.  Or did he?   I know that it does not mean that everything is beneficial, but I loved even being able to bring my gratitude to Jesus in the middle of the Ritz for my 40 Birthday.  I love that Jesus!

With the turning of a new decade range, I have thought a lot about time lately.  I seriously can NOT imagine living another 40 years.  I always thought that I would live to 103, based on a song that Jimminy Cricket used to sing in these educational videos I watched in elementary school.  Now, doubling my age seems quite impossible.  I still feel so delicate and vulnerable.  Maybe I just feel like my back could never last another 40 years.  I don't know, but it seems impossible.  It kinda feels like the glory days are gone and done with.  It feels like an endless stream of hard is what is awaiting me in future years, separated by brief interludes of relief.  But I don't want to feel this way.  I want to feel like there is still some glory in the days ahead.

I love the phrase Sarah Young wrote. "You accept the way things are without losing hope for a better future."   And even more than that encouraging little phrase there is Paul.  Bible Paul and one really cool verse that gives me a big bouquet of hope.  It's a verse that is quite easily skimmed over.  It is that last verse in the book of Acts.  It reads, "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.  He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all boldness and without hindrance!"  I would bet that in the preceding years, Paul never even dreamt that he would get a stretch of time without "hinderance."  After all, his life had become just one hinderance after another for quite some time.   He was beaten with rods multiple times, was stoned a few times, shipwrecked more than once, was starving, sleepless, hated, and thrown into prison, just to name a few.  That is why that last verse in Acts is so huge.  If you know what Paul had to endure, it really lights up the fact that he was able to live unhindered, at least for a while.  So, when I am feeling like life will be nothing, but an uphill battle, full of hinderances and hard, I remember Paul and his rental house and my hope meter rises.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Reacher

Last December, I got a sweet and tender gift from a friend one night.  He's one of the more faithful Walgreens shoppers I know in real life.  He buys anniversary gifts for his wife, birthday gifts for his friends and Reachers for his less able friends, like me.  Every time I use my trusty tool, which is about 600 times a day, I have to remind myself that I am only 39 years old.  I haven't ever taken the tag off of my Reacher.  It's like a prom dress that you are tempted to wear and when the night is over, you return it.  That's how I feel with the Reacher.  I want to be done using it and then return it, as if all of this never happened.  After all, I don't want to have something in common with the 100 year olds that are on that tag.  They look so happy using their Reacher, but every time I use mine, I am reminded that I can't do simple tasks, like casually pick up my clothes off the floor.  It would be nice if I could go back to my teenage years and not be bothered by clothes on the floor, but now that I can't just bend down and pick them up, I am suddenly irritated by my clumsy looking floor.

Here is the deal, though.  I'm ready to do some reaching of a different sort.  I don't know how long I will be in a decent physical state, but I want to get after it.  Feeling physically better, mixed with my new future with all my kids in school feels like an approaching starting line for some new endeavors.  Some of my endeavors are pretty simple, like actually using Groupons before they expire.  Some are a little more involved like possibly taking a stab at writing a book?  Some are more unmeasurable like wanting to tip the scale the other direction to becoming more a giver than a taker.  I also want to be loving my kids even bigger.  It's nuts how much easier it is for me to love big, when I'm not in pain. I treasure that more than anything.  However, the other day, I did find myself reading a blog of a woman who I have only met once.  She is dying of cancer and has four kids. Her blog is at Her words have carried me through the last year.  However, the other day, she was talking about loving her kids big every minute and I was so inspired to do the same as if I knew my days were numbered, but then my kids interrupted me while I was reading this post and I was all irritated with them.  Whoops!  I got off to a pretty rocky start there.  One thing I won't be reaching for is anything athletic, as my serious athletic pursuits are looking shaky these days.  Which brings me to just a plain old physical update.

I am nearing eight weeks post surgery.  My pain level is really pretty good, but on some nights and some afternoons, my nerve pain will rear it's ugly head and I will shoot into high anxiety mode.  The pain is nothing compared to what I have endured for months and months, so it's not the pain that is bad - it is the reminder that this healing could make a U-turn at any minute.  The strength in my leg is a little iffy still, too.  If I were a ballerina, I would be in trouble, because I can't quite go up on my toes with my left foot, yet.   And, my foot still feels like someone sewed a few acorns into the bottom of it.  As long as I wear a highly cushioned athletic flip flop, life is just fine.  Hopefully, that sensation with cease, before flip flop season is over.  Someday, I will most likely be back in the operating room for a fusion, since they removed almost my entire disk, but the doctor says that will likely happen anywhere between six months and never.  I was thankful that he cleared that timeline right up.  Backs are just plain unpredictable.

These days are a good exercise in living for and in each day.  I am continually reminding myself to appreciate this very moment and reach for the next . . . with thanksgiving for the last!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


When I was in tenth grade, my dad and I, took a trip around Colorado - motorcycle style.  Even though I wasn't cool, I felt pretty cool on the back of my dad's Honda, with my shiny helmet, Keds and french rolled jeans.  One thing that I secretly loved about that trip, was that every time we would cross another motorcyclist, be it a rumbling crowd of Harley riders or a retired couple on their Honda Goldwing, we would casually raise our hand, as if to say, "Yo! We've got something important in common.  Ride on fair friend."  The only requirement to be a part of this club, was that you were taking the road by hog.  I remember getting a bit giddy each time a new motorcycle would approach.  I told myself, "Be cool. Be cool."  I would casually raise my arm and none of them knew that underneath that helmet was a pretty average 10th grader, toting my teenage gear of Noxema and Carmex.  That brings me back off the open road and into real life.

I was born wanting to be a part of a club.  I grew up under the gentle guiding of two highly trained, "Love and Logic," parents, so I had many choices in life, including in what clubs I choose to enroll.  I was in sports, Girl Scouts, choirs, youth group, newspaper, a sorority of sorts, post college singles group (of which I was a card carrying member for many, many years) and the list goes on.  Basically, if there was a group of people, I wanted in, no matter what skill set was required.  

In the past two years, I have found myself ascribing to a new set of clubs and teams that I don't exactly appreciate. It is one of the first times that I would love to unjoin a club.  The clubs I want to exit are not the kind where we have written agenda, a common goal and matching T-shirts.  They are the clubs that change you.  And it doesn't tickle.  I feel like I could use the same cool motorcycle arm raise to anyone in these clubs and a world of words would have just been spoken.  Anyone, who is a single parent just knows the strain.  Anyone who has lost a spouse, just knows the unexplainable of it all.  Anyone, who has been through an unrealized adoption, just knows the years it took from your life.  Anyone, who has entered the world of disc problems and back surgery just knows the pure physical pain and fear of never being normal again.

I am sure I've learned a lesson or two through being thrust into these clubs.  I am positive my faith is sturdier.  Not because I haven't questioned and I haven't doubted, but because I have.  I am confident that I treasure each day WAY more than I ever have, yet I look forward to heaven WAY more than I ever have, too.  I am positive my compassion for others in these situations and in general has increased tenfold.  I am certain that I am so desperate for people to know Jesus, because I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that He made it possible for me to withstand the hazing of these clubs.  I am sure that being a member of these clubs is God's best for me.  For every inch of me, I do not know how that is true, but I believe it is.  I know that may sound nuts, but if I believe the Bible is true, then I believe He loves me and works for the good of me.  I seriously do not want to really believe that, because I want there to be some other equation where I love Him enough for life to go well and comfy for me.  That is not the case in God's economy, though.  But His economy is amazing.  No matter what happens, what clubs I join, good, bad, hard, easy, wanted, unwanted, He is there through it all.  Nothing I do, can change that.  

I bet there are a lot of people out there who are members of a club in which they never thought they would be a card carrying member.  Can I get an amen?

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Father's Day Wave

 It probably does not come as any surprise to someone from the outside that I feel like I am riding in a wave a grief right now.  How could I not be?  Going through a traumatic trip to the hospital, surgery and Father's Day, all without Dave is just plain rotten.  I cry very easily at this point in my life, so suffice it to say, I have cried a river over Dave this past week.  It's hard to say that, because I don't want to diminish what anyone has done for me lately, but I just miss him.

It's not like life would be just fine if Dave were here.  He would be saying all the wrong things, just like he always did, in serious crisis situations.  And he would certainly not be giving me one more ounce of sympathy than what was minimally required.  But he would be here, doing everything he could, (with a bike ride or two in between) and he would be here for our kids.  And he would be steady, as I rock like a southbound train.

Strangely enough, it seems that in the biggest waves of grief, I also receive a peek into the silver that God is drawing around a cloud or two.

On Friday night, my family joined a host of other families at our pool for dinner.  For a small slice of the night, we reminisced over some Dave moves at the pool.  Like the the giant back flop he did one night when trying to execute a flip.  Or how he would load all three kids on his back and swim all the way across the pool.  Dave's absence was thick, as he lived for nights at the pool.  But when I watched my kids throughout the night,  they were not lacking.  Dave's friends all had a part in my kids' night.  One let my girls sit on his lap for 45 minutes while they ate pizza. Another rallied Spencer to have a water gun fight with him. Another tossed my kids around the pool and one more just let my kids hang on him in the deep end.
2012 - A typical Friday night at the pool.
2014 - Terminator Spencer

2014 - The girls (and Josh) getting some pizza and some love. 

Before Dave died, I sometimes hated sitting in church, because it felt like it was all these perfect looking people, pretending to have perfect lives, and then they went home to their perfect little homes.  But now, my family really sees what the church REALLY looks like, when it is living out the call of the church.  It looks like the pool on Friday night.  It looks like meals showing up long after I should really have needed them.  It looks like friends sleeping over, when I need drugs administered in the middle of the night.  It looks likes friends kidnapping me to go to Bible Study, because they know it is what I really need.  It looks like families taking in my kids to spend the night for the 5th time, because I can't move.  I mean, my kids are experiencing what it really means to be a part of the body of Christ.  What a gift.

Example number two.  Seeing as how it is Father's Day,  I asked my kids what is one thing they loved about their Daddy.  Maci rambled about some things that never really happened. Leah said that she just loved that he got to be her Daddy.  And Spencer said, "I love that he loved Jesus and worshipped Jesus, which means that he is in heaven and that means that if we love Jesus that we will get to go to heaven someday and see him."  Then I asked if there was anything hard about him being gone.  The girls said that they were sad, but Spencer said he was starting to get used to him being gone.  But then, (and this is the point of the paragraph) Spencer said, "What about you, mom?  What did you love about Daddy?"  I answered.  Then he asked, "Is it hard for YOU that he is gone?"  The fact that Spencer, at seven years old, can look outside of himself and see people that are hurting, feels like a result of the hard he has experienced.  He just continues to amaze me with his heart for Jesus and his heart for others.  I can't imagine that he would be that far along, without all that he has been through.  Again, what a gift with eternal value!

In conclusion, (going back to my 5th grade writing roots there), it's been a week.  A rough, grief filled week.  But it has also been a week.  A week with these two HUGE gifts.  And let me tell you - I have needed these gifts.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I am usually the recipient of hearing the word, "Mommy," many a time a day.  It is a label that I feel grateful to possess and I feel lucky to hear it bouncing around these walls. Albeit, on occasion, when it is overused and said with a whiney lilt, it can wear on my nerves a touch. Right now, I miss hearing it, as my kids are away for another set of days. So, to keep the word fresh around here, I have been adding it to my vocabulary.  I, typically, just say, "Mom," but what I really mean right now is, "Mommy."  I have needed my mommy in a huge way over the past few weeks.

That is not to say that I haven't needed my friends, my Tony and my dad in a huge way, because I have, but sometimes, you just need your Mommy.  You need someone who isn't allowed to leave, even if you say the most reprehensible things.  You need someone that you know will love you, even though you have cried for the 600th time in a 24 hour period.  You need someone that you don't feel bad keeping up all night, because you are scared for the 700th time that you will never be even semi-normal again.  You need someone who is willing to repeat, "you will make it through this," as many times as needed.  

Actually, I really, truly, believe that all of the aforementioned people would do the same, but there is still just something different about about needing your mom.   It's a long road with me right now.  Surgery went well, as far as I know, but it will be a few weeks, or even months before I know where my symptoms will really land.  I am fighting like a madman to stay out of the freak out zone, since my symptoms are still present.  I still have weakness, numbness and a little bit of pain in my leg.  So, thank you, everyone, for hanging in there with me and spending the night with me and bringing me treats and giving me the gift of normal conversations and thanks, mom, for being my mom.  
My mom - always taking care of someone

Monday, June 2, 2014


Last week I did a lot of whining about how long it has taken to get into surgery from the time that I first went to see the surgeon.  It included waiting for an initial appointment, then waiting for a shots appointment, then taking a detour to the ER, then waiting for another appointment with the surgeon, to waiting for the actual day of surgery.  Since last September,  I have been in quite a bit of pain and the last three weeks I have encountered having a baby type of pain, but without the miracle prize at the other end.  The last week, I have spent mostly laying in bed, until my dad found me this great zero gravity lawn chair at Costco.  Just when you think you can't love a store any more . . . .

On Friday, I was dreading the weekend.  Just more wasted days to wait, in pain.  I had hardly laid eyes on my kids and I was sinking into a bit of a scary place for me.  But with this new found chair that I could actually sit up in, a book that a friend gave me, and my journal, God took those wasted days and brought about some serious purpose and beauty.

While I have read pages here and there from some books, I haven't read a book from cover to cover since before Dave died.  And while I write on my blog, I hadn't done any real personal journaling since this pain started, I don't think.

The book I read was Wildflower Living, by Liz Morton Duckworth.  She has encountered her own tragedies throughout her adult life.  I felt like I could relate to her and she would be able to relate to me.  It was perfect for me this weekend, as it was an easy read and at the end of each chapter there were questions to journal about.  After all of my rampant journaling, my last entry of the weekend ended with this:

"While the wait has been long and the pain so frustrating, these days have also given me a bit of a gift.  I have had a few days (where I could actually sit to read and write) to press my faith roots down a little deeper.  It's like the hurricane winds and tornado skies had pulled my roots up some.  My tree is leaning.  It's a little tippy and not only have I wondered if I was going to fall to the ground, but I think others have wondered the same.  I feel like this unasked for time to reconnect with God and to read has helped me water the soil around me and allowed my roots to grab hold and sink in again.  Roots of faith, and roots of trusting that Jesus has a plan. . . . I think God knew that I needed this time to gain some perspective, to evaluate if I REALLY trust Him, and to do this - journal about how I am really feeling."

My surgery has been moved up to tomorrow morning at 7:30.  I am a mix of nerves, excitement for a new lease on life, fear of great disappointment, peace in knowing that God has got it all and giddiness that this day is finally here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Visit to the Local Hospital

In my last update about my back, I was counting the minutes until I got cortisone shots in my back. I wrote, and I quote, "I am literally counting the minutes until May 28th, which is the soonest I could get in to get shots.  I don't get that either?  Anyone who is getting shots is in pain, but it takes two weeks to get an appointment?  I'm not totally sure I'll make it.  I don't know what the alternative is, but I might find out."

It is the last sentence that I want to highlight:  "I don't know what the alternative is, but I might find out." Find out, I did.  It turns out, the alternative is, an ambulance has to come and get you off the floor and take you to the hospital.  I could not have made these things up about my life, if I tried.  So, here is the ridiculous story that started last Wednesday.

I had just finished taking Spencer to his year end parent teacher conference.  We returned home for the official start of summer break.  We were home for all of about 5 minutes, when I bent/squatted down to look at one of my dear cherubs in the eye.  In mid squat, I crumpled to the ground in severe pain.  Fortunately, I had my phone on my person and I scrolled through the first group text I could find and pleaded, "Someone Come Now Help."  I didn't even know who was receiving this SOS.  My kids started doing chores that they had never asked to do before and probably will never ask to do again, in attempt to do anything that could help their groaning mommy.  Not long after, my sweet peeps started arriving, phone calls were being made and plans were getting drawn.  It wasn't until I discovered that there was no possible way on this green earth I could go to the bathroom in the appropriate place, that I was in serious trouble.  I literally couldn't move an inch without excruciating pain. I couldn't crawl, I couldn't stand, I couldn't sit and I couldn't even shimmy across the floor.  I could only lay on my back, with my left leg in the air.  After my attempt to get to the bathroom failed miserably, the only option was to have the paramedics come.  I cringe every time I think about them coming.  There is this nagging little voice that keeps telling me that it is embarrassing that I had to go by ambulance.  Everyone is tempted to say, "you shouldn't be embarrassed," but I bet a whole lot of you know that deep in your thought bank, you might be the tiniest bit embarrassed, too.  

Anyway, they gave me a very special drug called Fentinol.  It was beautiful.  I wish that was available on the open market.  However, it only lasts about 20 minutes.  For the next two days, I was in the hospital, just trying to get ahead of the pain.  I did manage to get some cortisone shots a week early and they did give me some relief from the knee up, but from the knee down, it was another story.  It gave me increased pain, loss of feeling in my foot and loss of strength in my leg, to the point of falling over when I tried to stand the first time.  It was another "what in the world?" moment.  I feel like I could write a book called, "What in the World?" and each chapter could describe each little story, where life should get easier, and it only gets harder.  

The night I got the shots was a definite all time low.  After countless months of pain and trying to push through it, I literally had nothing left to muster.  I wanted to give up.  I don't even know what I wanted to give up on, but I just wanted to give up.  

That night, nobody was slated to spend the night in my little hospital room with no extra place to sleep.  I had flown solo for a few hours the night previous, so I thought I could make it again.  God knew better.  At about seven or eight at night, two friends, Liz and Brooke, came to visit me.  I was OK for a while, but as night came closer, my pain did the same.  The nurse was giving me the max amount of morphine, etc. . . ,  but I just wasn't responding.  At one point, Liz suggested maybe just putting some pressure on me to distract my brain from the pain. It helped slightly, but I needed more.  So, I asked her, if it wouldn't be too weird, if she could just lay in my bed with me and rub my back.  So, hour after long hour, Brooke, Liz and later Christina, gave me the sacrificial gift of just being by me.  They gave up their sleep to take turns rubbing my back and just being close to me.  Every time I think of it, I cry.  I don't know why I'm so emotional about it?  In those dark dark hours, I really didn't feel like I was going to make it.  I really didn't.  In the morning, I told them that I seriously felt like they had saved my life.  That sounds so over the top dramatic, but it is how I felt and still feel.  Upon recounting that story to another friend, she started talking about how little preemie babies need touch more than anything else, to help them survive.  I was like that (super cute) preemie little baby.  I needed touch and my body needed to know that someone was there and that I was loved.  I will forever be struck with the truth that a friend to love me and be close to me was far more effective than high powered narcotics.  Even though, I am always asking where God is, throughout these long months, there are these little moments where I feel like God is so present.  He knew I needed someone (somethree) that night and that I needed their touch.   I want to take this moment to say that I am thankful for the most amazing friends in the world.  I'm so indebted every single one of them.  

In the morning Nurse Ratched  (actually she was a doctor) pretended to care how I was doing, so I expressed my worries over never walking again, and she replied, "Only time will tell," and then she said, "smile,"  as if this answer shouldn't disturb me on any level.  I then used that weak leg to kick her in the shins!  Just kidding, but I sure wanted to.  

By the afternoon, I was breaking records with my newly purchased walker and so they sent me home.  Trepidatiously, I left the morphine giving walls of the hospital and have pretty much laid in bed until my appointment this morning, for fear that any other sudden movement might catapult me right back into the swinging doors of an ambulance.  The appointment today pretty much confirmed my suspicions of setting a date for surgery, which is what I think I need.  Next Tuesday, I will go in for surgery on my lowest disc.  So, I return to my knees and beg again for healing and a successful surgery.  

My mind is a battlefield right now.  I'm desperately trying to hold the line right now.  I am reading, "Walking Through Pain and Suffering," by Tim Keller, which is helping me to hold that line.   

Third, we learn that it is perhaps when we are still in unrelenting darkness that we have the greatest opportunity to defeat the forces of evil. In the darkness we have a choice that is not really there in better times.  We can choose to serve God just because he is God. In the darkest moments we feel we are getting absolutely nothing out of God or out of our relationship to Him.  But what if then-when it does not seem to be paying or benefiting you at all-you continue to obey, pray to, and seek God, as well as continue to do your duties of love to others?  If we do that-we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his benefits.  
And when the darkness lifts or lessens, we will find that our dependence on other things besides God for our happiness has shrunk, and that we have new strength and contentment in God himself.  We'll find a new fortitude, unflappability, poise, and peace in the face of difficulty. The coal is becoming diamond.   


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Kids Have Stepped on Too Many Cracks!

Say what?  How is summer actually here?  Maybe I'm making this up, but I seriously think that it snowed the same week that my girls got out of school for summer break.  I am underwhelmingly not prepared for summer at all.  Sadly, this is the case, because my herniated disc is still quite miserable.  I know I look like I can walk and function, but it's all a ruse, people.  If I hadn't lost Dave and I didn't require so much tending to over the past two years, I'm sure I would be laying my pain on thick to everyone and anyone who would listen or even pretend to listen.  I'm just sick of feeling so needy and like such an impossible case.

I, finally, did meet with a surgeon this week and I feel like I have some glimmer of hope of getting out of pain.  A million times over I have heard NOT get back surgery under any circumstances, but I just don't think I can take it anymore.  I am going to try some cortisone shots first and I really pray for the millionth time that I will return to normal and that I can avoid surgery.  But, at this point, I am willing to go under the motha loving knife.

I still can't believe that I managed to lose my husband and gain a herniated disc, all within ten months.  Surely, life will get easier?  Right?  I seriously feel like, if I can get out of pain, I can do anything.  I can easily be a single parent that can pack healthy lunches, cook dinner, get definition in my triceps, volunteer in my children's classrooms, reads books every night, sends out Birthday cards on time and wash sheets twice a week (not that I would actually do that, but I COULD!).  However, this summer I feel like I am back to the beginning of last summer.  I'm just trying to survive.  Just trying not to fold.

My pain was 100 times more manageable a month ago, but it has altered again, to where there is NO comfortable position and it really hurts when I try to sleep.  Not being able to sleep, because you are in so much pain, is no joke.  I am literally counting the minutes until May 28th, which is the soonest I could get in to get shots.  I don't get that either?  Anyone who is getting shots is in pain, but it takes two weeks to get an appointment?  I'm not totally sure I'll make it.  I don't know what the alternative is, but I might find out.  

I feel quite unspiritual lately, as you might be able to tell from my harsh language (i.e. - "motha loving knife").  Just kidding. Yet, the only thing that brings me any kind of encouragement is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that somehow God will use this, too and that He is still here, walking me through this. But it you don't think that I have used even harsher language with God on a daily basis, you would be wrong.  I'm pretty sure I have said this before, but I'm so thankful that I can share EVERY single thought, frustration, and emotion with my God, and I don't have to feel guilty.  He can handle it all.  I don't have to pretend that this is OK to be a good little Christian.  God has got my heart and I love Him, but it doesn't keep me from saying exactly how I feel about all of this to Him.  And when I do, I know he still pours out his grace and I pray that he'll pour out His healing, too.    

Because there are not any good pictures to go along with this kind of crazy pain, I will post a couple of pictures of Tony from a couple posts ago.  It has been amazing to have someone who is willing to encourage me through this trial and to keep life exciting and lighthearted in a set of circumstances that are anything but!  I do thank God for him, that is for sure.  

It's good to learn early on in a relationship, whether or not you can trust someone with your camera.  I guess I've got my answer to that one.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Second Time Dave Missed His Birthday

As I headed into 2014 and I crossed over the year mark of Dave's death, I heard many a person tell me that the second year is harder than the first.  It's so strange to me that people actually say this out loud.  It's like when you are three days from your due date and people feel like that it is a perfect time to tell you that they lost 600 pints of blood during their delivery and their child was born with three legs.  I don't get it?  However, now that I think about it, maybe I should be grateful for such stories and words of warning, because they set me up to believe the worst.  In my very personal experience,  I think the  first year was the hardest.  It is not to say that I have closed up my tear ducts to all things Dave, but life has a rhythm now. Of course, that rhythm is about to be upset by the impending end of school, but that is for another post.

Any landmark date causes me to compare this year to last year.  Dave's birthday recently passed and it was one of those comparison dates.  Last year, we had a big celebration and a giant race and the whole time I was feeling my way through it all, minute by minute.  It was a great weekend and an excruciating weekend, last year. . . I think.  I think I remember it??? Or maybe I just know it from pictures.  This year, it was a simple and special celebration with just my little family.

When the kids woke up on April 22, I told them that it was Daddy's birthday and that we get to celebrate after school.  They didn't have a mix of emotion, as far as I know.  They were just excited to celebrate.  So, after school we traced the steps of the path we used to walk frequently when Dave was still alive.  First, the Manitou Penny Arcade and then to Dave's favorite little stop in Manitou - The Colorado Custard Company.  Then I fixed Dave's favorite dinner and we wrote messages on helium balloons to send off, after a round of Happy Birthday to You.

The most difficult part of the day for me was choking back tears when the kids were dictating their messages to their Daddy.  I really wanted to maintain the the focus of celebrating Dave's life, though. I figured we can lament his absence any day, but his birthday gives us a unique opportunity to celebrate him and share Dave stories one after another.

Leah's message: "I miss you, DAD! I am so glad you are here for me. I love you, DAD.  I wish you never died.  I'm so glad you got to take care of me and see me! Love, Leah."

I love, love, love, that Leah feels known by Dave and that she seems to treasure that he took care of her. Sometimes, I talk about when they were babies and how Dave was so much better at bathing and changing their diapers when they were itty bitty, than I was.  So, I wonder if that is why she said that about how she was glad that he got to take care of her.  Who knows, but it is sweet.
Maci's message: "I love you, Daddy.  You are the best Daddy. I always loved playing with and tickling.  Happy Birthday.  I miss you.  Love, Maci
One of Spencer's messages: "Dad, I'm so glad I had time with you, even though it was short.  I'm glad  you are in heaven, even though I am still sad.  Love, Spencer.

Charlies's message: "Yo Dave, Miss you.  Charlie."

I think Charlie's message pretty much sums up how our little family feels.  We just still miss him.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Toe-Knee, Tony

It's been so long since I have checked in with this blog.  I am so relieved to have a moment to record some of my thoughts.  I have wanted to write and have not wanted to write.  I think I will start  where I left off on my last post and I'll title this section, "Toe-Knee."

Part I - Toe-Knee
The physical update on my back is that I have still avoided surgery on my herniated disc.  I am still in a notable amount of pain, BUT it is slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, getting a little bit better.  I used to not be able to bend enough to touch my knees, but as of now, I can even wrap my cozy little socks  around my very own manicured toes.  My sweet children no longer have that as part of their chore chart, that I never kept up with anyway.  I'm not winning any wogging races, but occasionally, I can walk at a regular pace without any pain.  It was telling the other day, though, when I told a friend that I walked through grass, without searing pain.  It was part funny and part sad, that I was telling her that I was doing great, because I was able to walk through a patch of grass, for crying out loud.  And one more indication that I am getting better occurred as I was trying to catch a door before it closed the other day.  I took two mildly quick steps and Maci exclaimed, "Wow, Mom!  I didn't know you could move like that."

The last time I wrote it is like I closed my computer and got on to the business of trying to heal my back.  It is such a slow, grueling process, not only in the pain, but just as much for the mind, which is why I had such a hard time writing lately.  Herniated discs are tricky, especially when they are so large that they acquire  the nickname, "The Monster," by my chiropractor.  They are tricky, because you can feel like you are making progress for a few days and then the next few days you feel worse than you have in months.    It has challenged my body, my lifestyle, more of my faith and most of all, my steadiness of mind.  The fight is often found in trying so hard to not let my pain status for the day, dictate my joy and my mood.  I am getting good at rejoicing over the decent days, but I quickly return to, "I will never be normal again," or "that's it, I'm calling a surgeon-I can't take it anymore," when the day holds frustrating pain.  For a small stretch, I was starting to feel better and I thought about being so bold to write a blog post about how I couldn't believe that I could feel a fair amount of real joy, "thanks be to Jesus," in the midst of my pain and life right now.  Then . . . . my kidneys started to react to the Advil and I couldn't take any anti-inflammatories.  That scare brought me right back to, "really God?"  And then I was back to a lot of pain and my joy meter had taken a big dip.   All of this led me to feel like I was afraid to write anything, because I wasn't sure what I would write would be true, even in the next moment. Does that make any sense at all?

So . . . . on to another update.  To tie these two threads together, I will give you a real life picture of my fickle state of being.  At girls group one night, I was crying about my back, and then one of the gals, said, "but Holly, not everything is bad.  What about Tony?"  And then I lit up and my mood was completely different.  You just get me talking about Tony and my world feels a whole lot lighter.

Part II - Tony
Tony has been such a gift since January.  Naturally, everyone's first question is, "How did you meet him?"  I have a VERY long answer to that question.  For a minute, I thought about sparing you the long answer and all the disclaimers, but I can't help myself.  I apologize in advance.  I know internet dating is how many a people find lasting love these days and I know it has lost it's desperate/creepy factor, but I still feel like if I just say, "I found him on," that people will think I was actually on the prowl, when, in fact, I only BARELY was. There is a big difference.

Back in May, when clearly I was not ready for any relationships, I was scrolling through Match just out of pure curiosity.  Who in the world is out there that is single, my age-ish and relatively normal looking.  I paid and I scrolled and I wrote on my profile to not contact me, because I had recently lost my husband and was just on there out of curiosity.  That subscription ended and I didn't check in with Match for many, many a month.  Near the end of the year, I got a message saying that I had 6 emails from Match that were waiting to be read?  Evidently, your profile stays up, even if you are not paying.  They are sneaky over there at Match headquarters.  I left it alone, but then I guess I got bored one night and was curious enough to pay to be able to read the emails. I read them and then immediately experienced buyers remorse on that wasted purchase.  But with two weeks left on my subscription, I went ahead and put up a picture and added about two more sentences to my very unapproachable profile.  I amended my profile by adding that I was barely ready to maybe possibly go on a date and noted that I loved Jesus, family, laughing and was looking for someone who liked those same things.   Needless to say, Tony wrote, and now here we are.

Even though Tony is pretty cute, it wasn't quite love at first sight.  In fact, upon returning home after our first date, I bawled, because I missed Dave.  It was even a fun first date and I knew I would want a second, but that first date revealed some uncanny similarities between Tony and Dave.  Even the weeks following, I cried more over Dave than I had in months.  I cried hard, every day for a while, even though I was thoroughly enjoying getting to know Antonio.  I am not totally sure why.  Maybe it was just a natural wave of grief or maybe it was that to let Tony in, I knew I'd have to release a little more of Dave in some way?  Or maybe, these newly awakened feelings were in the love realm, which had belonged to Dave for so many years?  I really have no idea.  What I know is that I was able to talk about these things with Tony, without him running 100 miles in the opposite direction. That spoke volumes to me of Tony's character.  It was telling on date two, when I was talking about something that I really appreciated about Dave and I started tearing up. Instead of getting all awkward, Tony just listened and empathized and was just so sweet about the whole thing.  It was in that moment, that I knew I would be up for a third date, if asked.  We are now up to about date 20 and I can assure I am smiling just writing about him, right now.

I don't know where this relationship is going to go.  There are some logistics in our lives that keep our relationship tempered, which I semi-appreciate at this point. Maybe I'll be cursing those logistics a year from now, but for now, it is OK.  Hopefully, tomorrow I won't feel like I am lying, now that I just wrote all of that.

Well, I would have loved to have added a picture of my toe and my knee and my Tony, but some technology glitches are preventing that display.  Maybe next time.  Hopefully, I'll get another chance to write soon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Well, people . . . I finally got an MRI on January 14th.  On January 15th, I came home to about 5 urgent messages to call the doctor back.  I knew my pain was bad, but I wasn't expecting to hear that I needed to have surgery ASAP.  Back surgery!!!!  What???? The diagnosis sounded quite grim, with words like, "you only see reports like this in the elderly."  I've been telling everyone that I feel like a 99 year old, and now I had the medical report to back it up.  That was very scary to hear.  Sitting on my couch, with no husband to call, I suddenly felt that familiar feeling of, "how can I do this life, without my person?"  In those few minutes, God did not feel big enough to cover this pain, or this diagnosis.  So, I did what I usually do. I threw out a token prayer and then I put out an APB to my lifeline people, (minus a few, because I was in such a panic).  As usual, my friends leapt into action and within minutes I was in the car to see two different professionals, with friends by my side.  A chiropractor that specializes in disc treatments and a former, highly respected back surgeon that was willing to meet with me in his own home that very night. 

Upon arrival at the chiropractors office, we handed him the disc of my MRI and he slid it into the computer and then bellowed, "WOW! That is definitely in the top 5 worst I've ever seen."  But he didn't stop there.  "Did you get hit by a bus, or jump out of a plane without a parachute."  Holding back tears, I replied, "This isn't helping! I don't even know how this happened, except that I am taking care of my three little kids by myself."  Then the tears came.  Over the next hour, I grilled him, as to what kind of success he has had with decompression therapy and, naturally, he found the results to be quite compelling.  I will say that his cavalier attitude was almost reassuring.  I was thinking, that surely he wouldn't be joking about this, if he didn't think I could ever recover.  

Then, it was on to the back surgeon's house.  He was so encouraging and gave me some solid direction of what action to take or not take. He listened for a while to get the history of my pain and encouraged me to get prepared for surgery, but to try and avoid it, if at all possible.  Basically, if I pee on myself or lose control of my bowels, then I should make haste and get to the OR immediately for surgery.  So, talk about lowering your standards in life. Since, January 15th, my mantra has been, "Every day that I don't pee on myself, is a good day."  So, the good news is, that I have now have had 29 good days in a row!  

I started the decompression therapy, which I know some people have their suspicions about. However, I heard about it from my friend, Julie, who heard about it from Marijah, who does my hair, whose husband was in dire straits with his pain and this pretty much cured him.  Did you get all that?  I figured the only risk is a hefty chunk of change, so I may as well give it the old college try.  So, if this works, Jimmy, then I am forever grateful to you, and the pain you endured will have had purpose in helping me!  It seems to be helping so far!?!   

I go 2-3 times per week. Most people go 17-20 times, but the good doctor told me, it will probably take  close to 40 treatments for me.  I've always said, "Go big or go home." Anyway, It has become a treasured time for me.  I lie down on this giant machine for 28 minutes and the machine basically stretches out my spine, which will hopefully, allow my disc to find it's way back to it's little home.  PLEASE JESUS!  It actually feels really good and it allows me 28 minutes of time to listen to worship music and to pray for others that I know are in some serious physical pain.  Julie, Mike, Brian, Kara, me, and whoever is laying on the other machine next to me.  I would love to pray for more of you who are in pain, so please let me know!  

 ***Sidebar*** The other day, I was lying on the machine praying for the giant, tattooed, rather large bellied, scruffy faced patient and I felt like God was telling me to tell him that I was praying for him.  I am a self proclaimed, rarely hear from God, gal.  I really didn't want to say anything, but when I knew I wouldn't be in there much longer and I knew a quick escape would be possible, if things got really awkward, I said, "Uh um.  I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for your back."  He said, "What?"  Of course, after all that work up, I had to say it again, but louder.  "I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for your back."  Then he said, "Thank you - I pray for everyone that comes in here, because I know what kind of pain everyone is in."  I thought that I was going to be the one that encouraged someone, but it was the other way around.  I began to wonder how many of us that darken that little office are praying for each other, because it is no secret, that where there is pain, there is prayer.  We so desperately want healing.

***Double Sidebar*** A fairly sizable back brace accompanies this treatment, so if you have seen me and you are wondering why I look like a linebacker lately, that is the reason.  

It just amazes me that in the middle of this awfulness, I get excited to go to decompression therapy to pray.  I know that I wouldn't feel this way, if I were still in the same degree of pain that I was in, in December.  I am positive my despair would be deep, but today, I am standing in the hope (most days) that someday soon, I'll be able to put my own socks on.  I'm sure my kids feel the same way. 

One more thought on all this craziness.  I think grief and physical pain like this have some real parallels:  

You never choose it.

You can't hurry through it.

You can find ways to take the edge off, but it is still there.

It weaves it's way through every step and every breath.

It is a solo battle.  Even as others do an amazing job of supporting, you alone, feel the direct pain.

So, in trying to use what I have learned through grief to help in my physical pain journey, I went back to day two after Dave's death.  The only piece of advice that I remember from the days surrounding Dave's death, was that my only job, was to surrender it all.  Just surrender where you are to Jesus.  That is all I could do with this pain.  "Jesus, here I am, hurting. (This is after many weeks of mostly griping and begging, mind you).  Please, do something good with it, and please, please, please, please, heal me."  And then I wait to see what He is going to do.  My limited words are making this sound easy, but I can assure you, I don't want it to sound that way.  I have had to give up so many things that I love to do.  Shoveling snow, scooping poop, picking up toys off the floor.  Oh wait - wrong list.  I miss skiing, running, working out, putting clothes on like a normal human, standing for longer than 5 minutes in one spot, slouching in a chair, playing volleyball, picking up my kids, bending down to hear their secrets, giving them a hug without having to get in a strategic position, etc. . . I miss it all, but at the end of the day, I have hope that I will one day do those things again and that whether I see it or not, there is purpose in this pain.  And in the meantime, I pray, that I pray the guts out of other peoples' pain and I pray they find supernatural healing.  Wouldn't that be awesome?!?!?!?!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

IF: Such a Little Word, With So Much Power

IF.  I have found myself uttering that one syllable word repeatedly, in recent months.  Sometimes,  the word IF can signify something that might come to be.  There is a hint of hope for something to come.  There is some wonder in the word.  It is also a cause and effect word, both positive and negative.  Like, "If you are naughty, then you won't go to the North Pole." (see previous post).  Or it can be positive, like, "If you get your seatbelt on in less than 30 seconds, then you get a tic tac."  At the same time, IF can be a word that has the ability to paralyze.  It's a word that wants so badly for circumstances to be different.  It's a word that can rob us of joy.

These are some of my paralyzing IF statements lately.  (Some of these may sound terrible, so brace yourself and try to stay friends with me):

  • If only I didn't have this colossal herniated disc, everything would be better. 
  • If Dave would have died a couple months earlier, I wouldn't have to worry about health insurance. Yuck!
  • If only he had died before we brought Maci home, I could gracefully raise TWO kids. (Before you defriend me on facebook, adoption friends and all others, I believe with all my heart that Maci is about as amazing as they come and I love her like a crazy woman, most of the time.  However, there are times that I have had this thought.)   
  • If he had only lived just a little bit longer, the kids would be older and this would all be easier.
  • If we had gone with the suggested amount of life insurance, I wouldn't have to worry about money.  (As Dave Ramsey said, we always want just a little more). 

Those are the biggies.  I don't like them.  They just come to me, naturally.

To be fair, if sat down to write positive "if" statements, I would be here all day.  Statements like, "if my friends, family and even strangers, were not so amazing and so supportive, I wouldn't have made it through this past year.  It is crazy how, when life is hard, the despairing thoughts come so easily.  I guess I should take some time to write out the positive, huh?

Back to the ugly ifs.  I can make these statements all day long, but it sure doesn't change that Dave actually died, it doesn't change when Dave died, and it doesn't change that I still have to have my kids put my socks on in the morning (however the pain is a little less these days, so for that I am thankful).  All of these circumstances don't change no matter how loud I say them or how I wish circumstances were different.

I didn't really realize how many times I repeat IF statements, until I was looped back into a round of emails for a conference that I am helping to organize.  I say "helping" very lightly, because I haven't done much.  Sorry, gals!

The conference is called none other than IF.  The very abbreviated description of the conference is,  "If God is real, then what?"  You know what I love about that question?  Everyone can answer that question.  You could know nothing about God, you could have grown up in the finest Bible thumping house, or you could be in a sweet spot with Jesus, and you could still entertain that question on the same level.

Anyway, lately, I have been repeating the counter IF GOD IS REAL, THEN WHAT? statement to my IF ONLY LIFE WERE DIFFERENT statements.  As I question myself, what keeps coming to my mind, is one isty bitsy phrase that I heard in passing before Christmas this year.  GOD GIVES GOD.  God sometimes gives us good things, but I know that he never promises a comfortable life.  In fact, the Bible is chalk full of suffering, even for the most devout follower.  Comfort is what I want, though, after a year where I have experienced both the most devastating, unexplainable, grief and the most enduring physical pain I have ever experienced.  It is such a challenge for me to be satisfied with God giving me God and that is it.  How can I even type those words?  It sounds so blasphemous.  I get God and that is it?  What does that even mean that God gives God?  I want him to give me immediate healing.  I want easy for a little while.   I want him to give me a really good looking, Jesus loving, kid loving, smart, athletic, ridiculously funny man, with good hair. (Just kidding) (No, I'm not) (Well, I wouldn't be opposed and I'll leave it at that:)).  I want God to make things right, in my opinion, right now.  I want justice, I want good people to receive good things and bad people to get what they deserve.  None of that is what God promises in this earthly life.  So, in answer to IF GOD IS REAL, THEN WHAT?  I think He is telling me that If He is real, I get Him. If I take out my selfishness, then it is pretty staggering.  I get the God who created the universe, whether it is through snapping his fingers or if it is through evolution.  I get the God who can do anything.  Literally anything.  I get the God who has made a way for me and my kids to see Dave again.  I get the God who loves unconditionally.  I get the God who can heal.  I get the God who has a sense of humor.  I get the God who will UNDO all the yuck and in it's place will be JOY.  AND I get God every second of every day in every circumstance.

Elizabeth Elliot summed it up nicely when she said, "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances." She couldn't have said that lightly, as she didn't exactly have an easy life or seek out a life of comfort.  I know I couldn't say those words, yet, with conviction to anyone, but I am getting closer, as I continue to walk through hard, yet want more and more of God.

While I didn't compose this blog as an add for the conference, I feel it would be remiss of me to not extend the invitation to any who are interested.  I am excited about this conference coming up, as it will give time to explore the question, IF GOD IS REAL, THEN WHAT?  It will be fun to see ladies across Colorado Springs break the boundaries of the church walls and see where God is leading them.  

Feel free to email Christina (address at the bottom of the flyer) or leave a comment on here, if you have any questions.  I would love to see you there!

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Whew!  Made it.  December was a big, fat, furry bear for sure.  If you are going to lose somebody you love, try really hard to not do it a few days before Christmas.  As all of you know, the weeks before Christmas, as hard as you may try to pare everything back, still is a steam train that just doesn't quit.  School parties, recitals, programs, gatherings, family, etc. . . .

For months I had dreaded and in a strange way, looked forward to, the anniversary of Dave's death.  In a month that is way too full, I was looking forward to a day that I was just allowed to be sad.  I was kinda saving up my sadness for that day, but then it came and went and I didn't even get the chance to be sad.  Sad, huh?

I had planned on taking the kids skiing, but in light of this beyond frustrating and painful back situation, skiing was out.  The North Pole amusement park was in, though, which was a place that Dave LOVED to take our kids.  He had always wanted to go when he was a kid, but it never happened, so I think that when he took our kids there, it was this symbol of providing a childhood dream that he never got to fulfill.  He was just so cute about his love for the North Pole.  We started the day with donuts - another fave of Dave's - and then got ready to go.  Unfortunately, Maci was having a rough day and I made the carnal mistake of saying that if I had to correct her one more time, then she was not going to be able to go with us.  In those moments, you think, "Surely, they won't test this boundary - this is too important."  I'm certain you can guess what happened next.  Under normal circumstances, maybe I would have made an exception, because this was an important day and event, but we were going to be boarding a plane for New York in two days and I needed her to know that I'M NOT KIDDING AROUND HERE!  Gosh - I sound a little defensive, don't I?  Anywho, the North Pole was the perfect way to spend the day. Then we came home, got a flu shot for Maci, started laundry and packing, and that was that.  The day had come and gone.

Leah and Cousin Jacob

I had also dreaded the day before the 21st, because that felt more like THE DAY.  I got the fated phone call, while driving Spencer to school on the day before break last year.  It took me months to be able to drive that same path after Dave died.  I had thought about how hard that drive would be this year, but instead. . . . (insert big breath here) mid way to school, Spencer dropped his cinnamon toast on the floor, and then wouldn't eat it, because there was fuzz on it,  which probably meant that he was going to get a stomach ache, because now he didn't eat breakfast with his antibiotics that he was on for having strep throat, along with his siblings earlier in the week.  See what I mean???  It's like life is a giant run on sentence.  I thought that I would be able to insert a period, or at least a semi colon around the 21st, but life just kept it's regular Christmas pace and I just couldn't stop it. 

This crazy pace continued right until the moment we got on the plane, headed for New York.  I know it is a little nuts to take three kids across the country at Christmas, but there was no part of me that wanted to stay here.  I just couldn't do it, this year.  We were going to be flying out of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, which is usually a friendly way to fly.  It is easy and small and fit for a single mom with three kids in tow.  As we were pulling up, I was telling Linette that I was so glad I wasn't leaving out of DIA.  Why did I have to utter those words?  So, I start the check in process, which, of course, is taking forever.  Just as they load my luggage onto the conveyor belt, this sweet high schooler, Cole,  behind me says, "I don't mean to look over your shoulder, but the flight to Denver you are on, just got cancelled."  I immediately yelled, "Grab those suitcases!" before they disappeared behind stage. They informed me that there would be a bus coming at some point to shuttle us to DIA.  The problem was, I would miss my connection to NYC.  Thus begins my own personal Amazing Race.  The lady behind the counter kept saying, "your never going to make it," and I kept saying, "can you please just hurry, because I'm going to try."  I informed Linette of the little glich and she began packing up the kids to drive to DIA - in a hurry!   We had an hour and nine minutes to make it an hour and 38 minutes away, according to my iPhone . . .  AND there was a wreck on 1-25.  So, we headed up Powers and managed to have to stop at every. single. light.  We invited Cole to ride with us and in the car I informed him that this was a conditional offer.  Now he was obligated to help me with my kids and all our luggage.  He was quite the 15 year old trooper.  We had to have our luggage checked in by 2:04, which was the time the plane started boarding. Somehow, through a mix of a Linette's speeding and a minor miracle, we pulled up to the curb at 2:04.  I begged to cut in line and the guy took my luggage and we raced to the security line.  I could be found saying things to my kids like, "If there is ever a time to listen and obey, it is right now!"  They did awesome and with some sweat and heavy breathing, we raced onto the plane, only for them to close the door, drive a few feet, drive back a few feet and then sit for an hour.  It was very anti-climactic, but I was just so relieved to be on that plane.

Cousins and cozy jammies!

Two cutie little shoppers who couldn't wait to visit Claire's Boutique.

We made it to Westport, CT that very night and we were there for one lovely week and we made it back without incident.  I guess Maci felt that was reason to rejoice. When we landed back in Colorado Springs, I went to help Leah press the drinking fountain button and when I turned around, Maci was ON THE LUGGAGE CONVEYOR BELT . . . DANCING!  Now, it's funny, but I was a little too tired to think it was funny at the time.

I guess to wrap this random post up, I would conclude Christmas break with saying, "We made it, we did it, and I wish Dave were here to be a part of it all."