Saturday, August 20, 2016

Contentment

For a little over a month now I haven't written a single thing on the blog.  It's not that I haven't thought about it, it's just that I needed some time to just completely and fully enjoy summer.  For several years now our summers haven't exactly been "relaxing" and even more recently they have been tainted with the most horrifying events.  I quickly found this summer could be my chance to feel happy and to have fun.  The twins are a bit older (obviously) and for some reason Charlie's place in heaven has settled in my heart a bit.  So I just took some time to breathe.

Today after a little prompting from some of my favorite people I am writing again.  What better to topic to begin writing again with than contentment.  This week/weekend has been a whirlwind in the absolute best way.  We officially started school on Wednesday.  My heart was ready and I now know and already love 19 new little people that I get to see every single day throughout the course of the next school year.

Our first three day week quickly spilled into our Friday night.   We decided to fight the exhaustion and spent the evening with friends at an event in our tiny town called "Art Around Town" where we didn't peruse as much art as we did food.  (Please note, I am absolutely not complaining...)  Once that event dwindled down we walked through town to the Highlands football game.  I have to say that the twins excitement is so contagious when it comes to new things.  They loved every last thing about the game.  The stands, the cheerleaders, obviously the "big" football players, the horn that sounded when the Birds scored a touchdown, the people, and the announcer that spent the evening telling us all what was going on.   I kind of felt like I was in a movie.

This morning our fun continued with a birthday party for the twin's second cousin, Jillian.  What we thought might be a washout due to the impending thunderstorms turned out to be so much fun!  Evan's Orchard in Georgetown has so many fun things for kids to do and even though the "Bounce Pad" was a bit wet the kids all had the time of their lives jumping and sliding until we finally had to burst their bubble and call time to leave.  Seeing the twins with wet hair and wet clothes and huge smiles on their faces walking to our car made for another memory that I hope stays imprinted on my mind for a long time to come.   It makes me happy to know that they know their cousins and second cousins and they love spending time with them!

We came home this afternoon and crashed.  Well...I crashed.  I think the twins ran wild through the house while I took a nap in my bed.  I thought they were watching tv in bed with me but when I finally peeled myself out of my bed and walked into their rooms to get them ready for the next event I found candy wrappers all over their floor.  I am going to go ahead and say that wasn't my most proud "mom moment."  Anyhow, we are all alive and well and around 5:30 we headed out to Jim's surprise party at the Brownings.  Everything went off without a hitch and at the moment I have two very soundly sleeping little ones in their big girl and big boy beds.  The rain is moving in and I can't help but say, "Bring on the rain."

It is true what they say about the storms in your life.  I am absolutely different now.  I am content.  I am thankful.  I see things now that I wouldn't have seen before.  I'm thanking God for the "perfect to me" days with my kids and husband, even if it is just the typical day to day that we get to do together.  It's our perfect.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Things Are All I Have

It has been a little while since I have posted and I know why; it's this darn time of the year.  It is supposed to be relaxing and somehow it always turns into teeth grinding, high stress and demanding (in my mind at least) time of year.  Charlie's birthday came and went, the Fourth of July came and went, and the dreaded day I rushed him to the hospital has now come and gone.  This is about the time that first evening when I finally sat down and was told that he would come home as soon as he fought the dreaded cold that he had.  Of course we learned differently the longer we stayed in the hospital, however, this evening while I was terrified I wasn't without hope.  I am trying to remember that while I look through some of his old things.  It's hard though when all I have are his things.  

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Through the Eyes of a Lion

If you have ever wanted to understand parts of my heart that feel hidden by circumstance, read Through the Eyes of a Lion.  I have read a lot of books about grief and a lot of books about losing a child.  I have read blogs and even personal emails from people reaching out to share their insight.  This is by far one of the most heart-changing, eye opening books I have ever read.  Levi Lusko speaks of a loss so excruciating, and yet never once keeps you in the dark with his grief process or the purpose he found in the midst of it all.  He shares the light of Jesus in such a special way because of his daughter, Lenya.  He shares some of his darkest moments while encouraging you to face the impossible pain so that you can find the incredible power God has given you in your specific circumstances.

I am sitting here writing this post on my laptop (literally in the car on our way to North Carolina for a family vacation) because I just finished the book and I couldn’t bear for all the emotion and power to be stripped from my memory before I shared my thoughts.  If I’m being honest, I just wanted to copy and paste about half of his book into this post.  I realize that would be plagiarism if I claim it as my own so I won’t go for that but know that if you truly do want to learn about the heart of someone who is mourning you need to pick up this book or download it to your kindle.  Right. Now. 

While there are a million and one things I could share (which is why you should read the actual book and not just my blog post about it) there are two that stood out to me as I read this book over the course of several months.  I had to allow myself to pick it up and put it down when I needed to.  The timing could not have been more perfect when I felt urged to pick it back up.  Several months ago when I started the book I needed someone to understand the pain.  I know so many people understand grief and experience death in many different ways but I needed someone that held their child in their arms and waited for them to breathe their last breath.  I did that and I felt lonely in that.  I felt sorrow and a deep pain that felt like it would never leave me.  While in the midst of that storm, during some of the darkest days, I read something that spoke to me.

In his book he shared a three-word description from Philippians on what it’s like to have someone you love die: ‘sorrow upon sorrow.’  The phrase, he explains, is in the original Greek a nautical term that describes waves crashing.  As someone that has indeed experienced grief I know that waves come at random.  They aren’t clean or neat.  They are dangerous and extremely unpredictable.  The waves make it nearly impossible to breathe sometimes.  He goes on to explain the stages of grief and how he (like I) found the stages to be messy as well.  There is no rhyme or reason as to when you start or end a stage.  You can come in and out of them for a long, long time.  “They swirl together like an ugly emotional cocktail.”  When you think you may be out of the stormy waters another wave you didn’t see takes you back out into the great vast sea and you have to start over making your way to the shore.    

This was just the beginning.  Someone out in our great big world understood.  And now, several months later when I stuck the book into my bag for vacation I decided after a rough night or two I wanted to finish the book.  Oh, how God graces us with what we need right when we need it.  This afternoon while we were driving I read about something I had also experienced but could have never put into these powerful words.  It happened to me nonetheless and I would not have accepted this truth or taken it to heart had I read it several months ago.  I was not in a place where I could.  Today I can.    

“Having my daughter go to heaven in my arms acted as a cataclysmic event, opening my eyes up to eternity like never before.  It shook me from my cocoon of comfort and made the bread and circuses of this world become visible and less desirable to me…I found that grief undeniably enhanced my spiritual senses.  Being so near to eternity causes you to almost be able to taste it.  I suppose that is what Jesus meant by, ‘Blessed are those who mourn.’ (Matthew 5:4) There are gifts you get from God in the midst of grief that you would never have had the bandwidth to receive if everything was going as planned.  It was as though a lens that had been misaligned deep inside my soul jolted back into place.” 

Grief and missing Charlie will always be like an ocean full of emotion that I never can predict but it is also something I can use to tell others about my home in heaven.  We all yearn for more and it’s because there is more.  A great host of amazing things waiting for us in heaven, our homeland.    
 

This whole post seems silly because I don’t feel like I said much of anything and I am debating whether or not it will even make it on my blog but it’s a way for me to remember this place I’m in and a way for me to share our Heavenly Father’s love because it is indeed greater than Satan and all of the hurt and pain in our world. 

Now, go read Levi Lusko's book. You won't regret it.    

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Appointment by Governor

I have recently been appointed by Governor, Matt Bevin, to be a representative on the Kentucky State Educational Professional Standards Board.  When it first came about I thought it sounded like a unique opportunity and why not seize it!?  If you don't know me very well, that is 100% my personality.  Why not?!  Then, in the back of my mind I heard wise counsel reminding me, "Don't take on too many things, Casey."  I heeded those thoughts, I prayed over the decision, and then I recognized that a lot of times I am better when I am taking care of others.  I am continuing to heal and feel more alive as I learn to lean into grief and take advantage of helping others in a variety of ways.  Education is one of the ways I have been blessed to be able to do that.  In this capacity I will be taking care of children across the state of Kentucky and making decisions that will impact how their teachers are educated, who is able to teach them, and also work to ensure that those in the classroom are held to the highest ethical standard.  To say that I am excited is an understatement.  I am looking forward to my trips to Frankfort.

Fort Thomas Matters wrote about my appointment here.
 
Images by Freepik