Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Heroes.

We were doing our norm for over 5 years now...driving well over an hour (each way) for a 45m speech therapy appointment.  He was reading his book for the second time...because "it's THAT good"...until Mom interrupted.

"Are you a hero?"  It was immediately followed by a jolt and a quick glance my direction. "What? Me?" Laughter. "No! Definitely not."

"Oh. Really? Why not?"

"Well...for one...heroes like...save the world. And..I haven't exactly done that." Laughter.  Looks back out his window. Back at me. (What in the world is Mom thinking? I mean, really!)

"So...do you know any heroes?"

"Uhhh...in real life? No. Never met any.  In my books, I know heroes! But...yeah, not in real life. Like...do you know any...?"

Long glance my way. I knew I was smiling.

"Ahh yes. I do.  I'm sitting by one..."

"What? Are you serious? Mom...really. I'm not a hero. Are you joking? What do you mean?"

"We'll...why don't we define a hero.  I think we need to re-define it. Do you know what that means?"

"Yeah. Change its meaning."

"Yeah.  So how about instead of a hero being only a fictional character in your books...what if a hero is really someone who is really courageous and does the hard thing...when others wouldn't....? What if it's someone who, by doing the hard thing...does make a big impact on someone else.  And by doing that...actually...does change the world? Just not in the way you are thinking."

He smiles.  Sparkles. That's what he did.  He can't even help it.  He sparkled long before he ever smiled. 8 weeks old. He was sitting in his infant swing. I'll never forget it. He sparkled...his eyes fully smiled before it ever made it to his mouth. I remember his plastic surgeon telling us that God gave cleft babies extra sparkle in their eyes. Right from birth. And he was so right with Azlan.

"So...now that we redefined what a hero is...I was wondering if your answer has changed....are you a hero?"

No hesitation.  None.  Looking over at me...not out his window.  "Yes.  Yes...I am.  And so is Zion...Azahria...and you. Definitely you. You are a hero! So I guess... I do know real life heroes!"

His smile said it all.  We didn't need to fill in the unspoken gaps...because our newly clarified definition...well, it said it all.

Change the world? Oh yes he did.  Spoke up when it took some boldness, courage...when he felt a little silly...? Yeah, that for sure.

Impacted someone's (more than one's) life forever? Oh...without a doubt.

He went back to his book.  Random chuckles from his own little world of fictional heroes that save the world...maybe they had more meaning now that he knows he's one of them.  I could hope.

As we said our goodbyes after FIVE years with his therapist...there were some misty eyes, no question. I asked if he had anything he wanted to tell her based on our discussion. He smiled. "Yes, that you are my hero..." She pulled him into a hug.

Heroes.

Everyday normal people...that are courageous enough to stand up, speak up, do the right thing even if it's not popular.  People that do hard things with us and for us and impact our lives forever. And those, who in doing so, change the world...our world, forever.

Heroes.

May we know them....recognize them...thank them.  May we raise them...and most importantly may we all find the quiet courage within ourselves to be them.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Saying goodbye.

Saying good bye, first, to all the things.  That's all they are.

And I can tell you though I have loved the things...I've loved saying goodbye even more.

As we sit here in our strangely empty house...we feel so free.  Yes...we are leaving with only what matters...each other.

Any crisis will show you that's all that ever did matter. We just tend to get lost in the things.  Chasing things...and ironically... though we think it's for what truly matters...the people in our lives...we end up trading time with the people in order to get the things.

Sad.

I've thought a lot about saying good bye to this state. This state that we came to as young, still wet behind the ears, newly weds.  Pregnant with our first child...clueless in many ways. We leave...wiser...to be sure.  How we gained that wisdom...we'd never wish on anyone.  We leave with our oldest having just turned 14.  What the what...? Crazy. And yet...when we look back on the last fourteen...they have been full. Full of beautiful, wonderful, crazy, and oh-so-heartbreakingly-hard moments.

My mind wants to immediately gravitate to the strong thought that this state stole so much more from us than it ever gave...but.

But...it didn't.  As much as it stole..more than I thought was possible even in the land of the worst of the worst fears and nightmares...we are choosing to believe it gave much more.

Yes. It gave these precious 7 babies that were born here. Children that I could not possibly love more.  Ones that know beyond all doubt that we will fight for their safety, their freedom, their healing.   It gave depth and fierce commitment to our marriage.  It gave friendships that will last forever. It gave our counsellor that we never would have known if it weren't for all that it stole.  And she? She's changed my life forever.

So to you, Washington...I say farewell.  We couldn't be more ready to wave goodbye.  And as we go...there is no question what you stole is begging to be front and center in our minds...but we are choosing to look at what you gave.  Maybe most of all...you gave us wings.  And though we wished we never had to use them...that we were never pushed to the cliff and put to the test...we were. And now...we fly.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Run towards the roar.

The same beautiful friend that sent the book to me at the most needed time in my life...often messages me with a reminder to 'run towards the roar'.

"Through The Eyes of a Lion" changed my life. Yes. I said it.

And if you are in the storm of all storms...or the deepest of grief...it just might offer you hope too.

The very idea of running towards the roar is against every fiber of my being.  My nature is to duck. Hide. Retreat. Back to my four walls.

And honestly, at this point in our journey...? I'm tired. Truly...just, plain...tired.

I have fought for so long, so very hard...and only done so with strength from Christ, Himself.  I...am...tired.

Tonight...I took the plunge.  And it's so very hard.

I don't know where this goes...but tonight was step one.  Of running towards the roar.  And don't get me wrong...I'm sitting here at my desk...crying. My house is quiet. I should be watching Fixer Upper or something much more light hearted than what I'm doing.  Just sipping coffee sitting out on the deck. Over a fire. Anything really...but what I'm doing.

Last night, one of the people that has impacted my life the very most, sent me a song. I've heard the song many times before. But this time...something caught my attention.

Though, quite frankly...well-deserved...I had taken a seat.  Stopped standing.  My legs...well...they are tired. Perhaps even...broken.  Wobbly, for sure.  And then I watched this:

https://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/11b8cc_2x0&hl=en-US&kgs=2330e47c3d3a9310&q=passion+conferences+in+christ+alone&shndl=0&source=sh/x/kp&entrypoint=sh/x/kp

I realized...it's time to stand.

So tonight I begin to write. To write the story.  And though I'm told healing will come from writing it...I'm not feeling it tonight.  It's horrific. No one should ever have to live this nightmare. And telling it...has me sitting here crying. Wanting to run and puke.

But the time has come. The time to stand...so that I can run. Run towards the roar. The very thing I fear...the very thing that terrifies me.  That thing.

In Christ alone.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Freeing.

Freeing. The act...of setting yourself free.

So for me...this was walking into our closet and feeling all the emotions that I have felt for so long...and choosing to be free.

Associations are powerful.  I would see a shirt...and remember when and where I wore it, if it was attached to a bad memory.  So this resulted in me having a full closet...and yet "nothing to wear".

Does that resonate at all?

The problem is...I love my clothes.  I only buy what I love.  And this means many of my pieces are 7 and 10 years old! SERIOUSLY.  (Doing the kids baby books...proved it!)

I stood in my closet a few weeks ago...holding pieces I didn't want to part with...crying...and choosing to be free.

99% of my wardrobe went to consignment.  Things I wasn't 'done with'. Things I 'still loved'.  Things I wanted to keep for years to come.  My 'favorite pieces'.   But it was time.

Time...to set myself free.

At least now when I walk into my closet and groan that "I have nothing to wear!!"...it's legit! I really...truly...don't. And you know what? I'm ok with it.  Because I chose freedom over stuff.

A few nights after that big moment, Dean came home with a Starbucks and an envelope.  The kids all gathered around for me to open it.  On the outside it said "Janice's clothing fund".  I opened it to see 5- $100 bills inside.  And I cried.

Yes. We share a bank account. Yes...what's his is mine. But he knows...I would never spend the money on me.  It was an amazing gift and the fun part? I still have $432 left.  I have spent it only on things I love.

Not things on sale. Not running to the clearance, as I have my whole life. But just buying things I love...that I will love to wear.

I stopped in the most adorable boutique a few days ago.  I found a shirt that I truly love.  In every other moment in my life, I would have choked on the price and put it back.  But this time...? Without hesitation I walked to the counter with my cash and bought it.  And for good measure...? Bought a pastry to enjoy on my way home.

Free.

This was so freeing to me...much more than I could have anticipated...that a few weeks later I walked into our little girl's room.  I saw our six year old's shoulders go up...her body freeze as I started pulling out dresses out of her closet.  I looked at her and asked if she saw happy memories or sad memories with each piece.  99% was sad.  I asked if she was ready to say good bye to the sad and get some new things with happy memories.  Bags of clothing later...they now love going into their closet to choose what to wear.

Free.

For you...it may not look like emptying your wardrobe.  It's really symbolic of something much greater. But I suspect each one of us can take a step towards freedom. An active step...towards being free.

This is a small step compared to what we are taking in a few weeks.  But really...should any material thing hold us back from freedom?  Isn't it all just 'stuff'...? Just a car...? Just a house...? Just clothes...?

If you see me...and I'm wearing what you saw me wear 2 times in the prior week....know this.  I am much freer than I was six months ago with a fabulous wardrobe.  In fact...I don't even go in my closet and whine about nothing to wear. Because everything in there...? Reminds me that I'm free.  Nothing has a powerful negative memory attached to it.  And it's all just clothes.  Just stuff.

My heart being free is worth so much more.

So is yours.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Four months.

March 23.  

It's really been four months.

Ever try so hard to savor something that you feel it just keeps slipping out of your grasp? 

Yeah. Me too.  

In a way, that's a good summary of the last four months.  Yet...I have savored every moment.  

This precious little bundle that...in many ways...saved me.  

Gave me a reason to keep eating.  To try to keep sleeping.  And then...one of the most surprising gifts was how getting up with her in the middle of the night to feed her...somehow kept me out of a deep REM sleep and the horrific nights ended. Abruptly.  That..was amazing. 

I went from shaking in the night, waking screaming...sweating...convulsing...to being woken by the sweetest newborn cry and dragging myself to the rocking chair to feed her. Where all I could see was a sky full of stars out our window. 

Who knew...that a nocturnal little tiny newborn could save me from the trauma I dreaded every single night as the sun set?  

There's so many times I catch Dean just smiling at me across the room...as I coo at this little face.  

He knows. I know.  We all know.  

The gift out of the ashes.  The gift we had no idea we needed.  The collateral beauty.

Oh Topaz Treasure.  I love her little face when she wakes from a nap (as her Mama does, by the way)...still kind of grouchy, puffy eyed but lights up into the most beautiful smile when her eyes catch mine.  I love how she talks and talks and talks to Tirzah. I love how she laughs every time Zion comes near.  I love how she watches as Nazara sings song after song to her all day long.  

If you have more than one child, you have likely wondered if you had the ability to love the second as much as the first. Remember those days? You smile at them now because...well...now you know.  You know that your heart somehow grows and is simply capable of more love than you ever dreamed. 

Well in this pregnancy, I honestly feared if my heart was capable.  I had been through so much pain. SO much loss. So much grief.  I was broken.  Could I feel all of those wonderful things again? What if I couldn't?

And then she arrived.  And every fear just melted in the first moment. I was going to say...at the moment I saw her. But I heard her so much early than I saw her. I couldn't even open my eyes for, what felt like, minutes. I was crying too hard. But I heard her and I was holding her.  And I felt like my heart doubled in size.  Again.

Topaz.  Since the day she was born, people have commented on our "little redhead". I would laugh it off but here we are...4 months later and she's definitely strawberry ish.  Bright blue eyes.  A smile that lights up her entire face.  And one look at her and I melt all over again.  

I am so thankful for this child.  This gift given...at the very hardest time of our lives.  And I...I will love her forever. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Will you speak up?

So this last week has left our community reeling.

Devastated. Shocked. Horrified. Stunned.

There was a huge child sex sting where 26 local men were arrested for child sex crimes.

The community, I suspect, is not so much reeling from the fact that it happens...we all know that. But who the perpetrators were.  Ouch.

People we know. Loved. Respected. People in positions of authority...even with at risk youth.

No...they don't fit the profile we had formed in our minds.

In all of this...I've heard little about the victims of sexual abuse.  Now in this case since it was all a set up by law enforcement, there were no actual victims. But ... we don't really need to fill in the gaps do we?  There were victims. The night before. The week before. The month before. The year before.  There were so many victims.  Thankfully, this night...there were not.

This left us reeling for a different reason.  We are the parents of children...who have been sexually abused.

We know first hand the long, grueling, horrific, hard, heart wrenching road that lies ahead for these children.  Only hoping they get the help they actually need.

Will they have a voice? Will they have people that love them stand up and speak? Will they have people who will fight for them with every breath? Will people hide the awkward news articles that come out about perpetrators? Will people deflect and talk about how sin is sin (as if consequences of our choices are equal not matter the severity of the offense...)? Or will people take the heat and speak? Will they speak up and give a voice to these children?

Because that...? That is what it takes.  And time doesn't heal with sexual abuse.  No...time frees their little spirits up to feel safe enough to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk some more.

Our journey has been hard.  So...very...hard.  And so very hard that we had to fight for them to heal. Fight for their safety. Fight for their protection.

Perhaps it was my own naiveté...but I thought the world was on their side.  People would rally around them and us to fight for them.

I saw, firsthand, differently.  The victim's voice is hushed.  Shushed, even.

In moments of despair...I have cried out to God saying this road was too hard.  That we weren't strong enough for this.  So very tired of having to fight for basic human rights.  And then...Dean would remind me that no one would fight harder to protect our children...than us. That we would do whatever it took.  And that small flicker of a flame would be fanned again with new resolve.

The hours we have spent and ... will spend...in therapy.  The falling on the floor at the end of the day in sobs for what these precious children have endured...only to be reminded that they survived.  They...survived.  The longing to see them overcome and thrive in their lives...knowing God gave them...and us...a microphone in this horror. So many are hurting. Hushed into silence.  No...it's time for us to rise up and speak.  Give them a voice. No more sweeping it under the carpet. No more putting 'shame' on those who have been victimized.  No. It's time to empower them to overcome. They are more...so much more. As our counsellor says..."they are not victims...they were victimized."

Not a statistic. Not a nameless number.  No. They are children.  With futures. With hearts...albeit broken ones.  They have families who love them.  They need a village to fight for them.






Thursday, July 6, 2017

Still standing.

Raw.

Tattered.

Weary.

Battle wounds.

Bruised.

Bleeding.

Weak.

Tired.

Still standing.

You?