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Somewhere between Traditional and Progressive

Hi!

Sorry, it’s been awhile. Life has been full of transitions and new. I am sure an update as to how our move to Charlotte has gone is more than due. To be honest, there isn’t very much to write about it. It went as well as a move could go. What is it like being in Charlotte? It’s different. It’s new. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, overall it’s just good. Isaac is thriving in his new school. Thriving in a way I hadn’t yet experienced with him and school. He is embracing this drive to do well in his academics, that’s kind of a first and amazing to see. Charles and I are doing well. Actually, we are kind of killing that married life as we lean into the ebb and flow of this new life. Generally, overall, we are just good.

Now that we are caught up, I have to admit I find myself a bit grumbly this morning. Not really irritated and kind of a little bit irritated. Irritated seems like such a strong word for what I am feeling….maybe I am more discontented. I don’t even know if that word works. Maybe…maybe I am just…..

Struggling.

That’s the best word. We are in search of a church once again. Weekly I find myself scrolling through the internet, finding churches, reading reviews, looking at locations, scanning websites trying to catch the heart of a place within the black words written across their white and colorful sites. Each week, I find myself more disenchanted then the week before. Less than excited to get up on a Sunday, get everybody ready and once again walk through the doors to be the new people. New to their systems, new to their culture, new to their atmosphere. Always wondering how Isaac is doing being the new kid in class, again. Even though he has got it kind of down to an art form, I hear questions/comments from him that he too is struggling. Can we come back to this church? What did you think of that one? Do we have to go to a new church? I liked that church.

Struggling.

I used to think it was that kind of simple. You know that I just liked it so I attend kind of simple. However, I don’t believe it works that way anymore. Atlanta woke me up. God reached into my boxed world, erased some stark, harshly drawn lines that constructed this “simple” Christianity and I know more now than ever, I see that it isn’t that simple. It’s like deciding to cut your hair, you know you think it will grow back, it’s easy. That is until you are growing it back and it hits all kind of various short and medium stages that remind you why you don’t ever cut your hair. You have that stage where it’s too short to put up and too long to not stay in your face. If you wear it up, you have to use copious amounts of bobby pins to keep all the stray pieces of hair from falling. If you keep it down it falls in your face, consistently demanding your attention. The evolution of growth is not as simple as we like to think it is. It isn’t boxed, there aren’t harshly drawn lines that clearly show the path. It’s messy, with lots of questions, and lack of understanding. To be honest, lots of time it leaves you standing somewhere struggling to put bobby pins into your life to hold the pieces of it together wondering what I am going to do with this in this stage.

Struggling.

I don’t know if I fit into a traditional church anymore. I know too much. I see too much. I question too much. I mean could I sit, listen and quietly agree to disagree every Sunday. I could. I also don’t know that I fit in a progressive church either. I am still walking my path, coming into my own beliefs and understandings. I mean could I sit, listen and quietly agree to disagree every Sunday. I could. It just seems as I face the week searching, I am faced with these two choices only. Maybe in the most childish places of my heart, I want to find a church that is evolving. That is walking the same path I am. That is full of people who are discovering their own trail. I want to find a place that isn’t as full of answers as they are full of questions. People who are open to understanding that the evolution of growth isn’t simple. It’s not drawn with harsh, clear lines that define your pathway. It’s lineless, open to letting your feet wonder out to touch others path’s who are near you but not yours. It allows you to pull from others journey, to see another way, examining where that way fits in the journey you are on. The journey, you are the Lord are consistently in connection about. It kind of demands for individuality, humility, the art of learning, and discovering. It requires bravery and the freedom to let go. In the childish places of my heart, I want to find a place that can hold tradition and embrace evolution.

Maybe I am asking for a utopia.

I don’t know.

I just realized this post won’t end with a resolve. There will be no nice wrap up to this struggle. I will question putting it out there, sharing with the world, letting them into my grumble. Then again, maybe I wrote this for those who are in the same place I am. For those who are looking for a utopia, who are evolving and longing for tradition all at the same time. If that is you, you aren’t alone. We are out here. Finding our path. Making peace with the evolution of growth.

Struggling.

20 Years

It has been 20 years to the year since Charles left Charlotte, NC. It was the only place he had ever called home. He was 17 when he left, eager to pursue the things he believed the Lord had put in front of him and a little bit running from the demon’s that seemed to haunt him there. It’s a whole long story, that all accumulates up to this, he left and he never wanted to go back. Although Charlotte has held his family, his history, and his memories, he has never wanted to return. Even as we have spent more time there over holidays and just visits with the family, we would breathe a sigh of relief as we drove down the 85, excited to get back to Atlanta.

Then something happened.

It was magical. That kind of electric magic that makes you believe in unicorns and leprechauns at the end of rainbows kind of magic.

We took a walk one morning around his sisters’ neighborhood. Hand in hand we ambled and talked inhaling the cool foggy air, admiring the fall colors still holding on the tree branches that begged to be rid of them. As we strolled into the cul-de-sac and started to turn around, I looked up at Charles and said:

“You know if the Lord asked us to move here I wouldn’t be against it.”

Everything came to a standstill.

“What?” Charles responded

“I would be willing to move here,” I repeated myself

Seconds passed even the air didn’t seem to move.

“Me too,” he replied

“What?” I said stunned

That’s when I felt it. An electric current that started to pulse between our entwined hands.

“What are you saying?….. Wait……What are we saying?”

That was it. That was the moment we knew, we were moving to Charlotte.

We spent the rest of the day and the next processing. Talking with each other, talking with Isaac, talking with family and friends.

There were quite a few things we needed to fall into place to make this move happen and they have. The provision, job, housing…all of it. So here we are two weeks away from our move.

We have been letting go of stuff, packing things, organizing things, preparing for this next journey we never considered.

I think I have also been grieving. You see Atlanta was going to be my forever place. I had resolved once the Lord moved me here I was not going to leave. I was going to raise Isaac here and he would raise his kids here, or at least they would visit us here. It’s just what it was going to be. We knew when we left Atlanta years ago to move to California we would move back. We just always knew. I guess my knowing stopped there and I never considered anywhere else.

I am going to miss it. Atlanta that is. Or at least I am going to miss what I thought it was. Which if you want to read about that, I wrote all about it here https://ourhighwayfive.com/2016/02/25/home-2/ when we first moved and I was sure it was forever. I etched vows into my heart about this city. I created a construct in which the only world my life existed was one that involved Atlanta. Funny huh, to hear about me boxing my life into some neat tidy lines. Sounds so unlike me…..*read sarcasm.

That isn’t what life is always about though. We don’t always get these neat lines of construct that hold our whole world. I should understand that by now. Well maybe I do, and maybe that’s why when that magical electric moment hit….I said yes. Maybe that’s why my yes hasn’t come with kicking or screaming, it has simply come with a, I trust you, Lord. I trust who you made me. I trust our relationship. Maybe even though I still have these boxes, these constructs, I am better breaking them down. Better at letting them be revealed, better at looking at them, and better at throwing them out once broken down.

Not to say I haven’t had a million moments of WTF Jesus. I am moving to a place I never considered, to live a life I have no idea about. Everything is new. I have no vision for what it would or could look like. I have been insecure, without understanding, and overwhelmed. I also have been more excited and felt more alive in what has seemed like a while. Guess breaking down those boxes isn’t so bad after all.

I am excited to live near Charles family….to have Isaac grow up with cousins, aunts, uncles, and PawPaw. I am excited for him to hear the stories and see the places his dad grew up, for their childhoods to intersect. I am elated for Charles to be able to go back to the place he ran from and live. I am excited for the hope of a full circle.

We are moving to Charlotte and that is about all we know these days.

Grief Roulette

Today was the day 4 years ago that the doctors told us that Katie Grace was dying. I know this day is coming every year. I know what putting her to bed each night wondering if we were going to have her in the morning felt like. I know what it was like holing up in the house trying to soak in every minute of every day you had. I know what it’s like to just sit and hold your child trying to make the next 72 hours last a lifetime. I know what it was like to know she was done. I know when she breathed her last breath and what I felt when she died. What I don’t ever know is what I am going to feel each year when this time comes around. Death is simple, its grief that is more complex. It’s like a roulette wheel, you just don’t know where the ball of emotion is going to land.

In the first years of grieving, I think I wanted a timeline. A structure in which I could expect something. In true to me form, I wanted boxes in which I could check off the grief process. I wasn’t aware that I wanted that but I did. It wasn’t that way when I was logically looking at death. I knew Katie Grace was going to die at some point, I was intentional about my heart and emotions when it came to death but you see I was looking at just death. I didn’t consider that grief was a whole other beast. I did not give grief the respect that it quite possibly deserves.

Today as I write this I think I might finally begin to grasp the respect that it deserves.

You see this year I am not looking at myself to define the emotions of the next couple of days. I am not trying to box myself with expectations of what year four should look like. I am not analyzing the time passed and declaring I am here this year. Instead, I am looking at the roulette wheel of grief. I am watching the ball spin around and giving it the space it needs. I am not placing my hands on it or willing it or hoping. I am simply watching it. I guess you could say I am trusting grief. Not because I understand or have any form of control but because I respect it.

My mom and I call grief “a sneaky bitch”, it’s our inside joke whenever we are processing and need a good laugh in the middle of our tears. We joke about how it sneaks in at sometimes the most inopportune times, like when you are telling a story you have told a thousand different times but this time randomly leaves you in tears. Or when someone asks if I just have the one child and asks don’t I want more and I can’t laugh it off; instead the tears just fall. Or when Isaac comes home from school emotionally exhausted and it boils down to he misses his sister. Or how randomly you remember you should have an 8-year-old and you don’t and the overwhelming sadness makes you catch your breath. Grief, its sneaky like that. Also, it’s true. A kinder way of saying that, is grief is a mystery, a roulette wheel. It is as I am learning necessary, important, and valuable to respect. I most likely won’t ever understand it. I won’t be able to box it or capture it. I simply will be able to respect it and that matter-of-factly is enough.

I scrolled TimeHop today and the images I captured and words I penned fell before my eyes. I didn’t cry. I didn’t mourn. I missed. I loved. I appreciated. I don’t know if I will feel the same way tomorrow morning when I repeat the process. Or the next day. Or the next. I don’t know how or what I will feel on the 1st when we wake up in 2019 and will we know that this is the day we said goodbye 4 years ago. I don’t have any expectations or preferences. I am just simply standing in front of the roulette wheel at peace, respecting grief…..trusting it.

Where did November go?

You guys…..this month!  Its been the kind of month that seems like it should be over by now but it just isn’t. There are still four days left! The weeks have been so full.  Full of highs and lows. Have you guys ever done that at the dinner table? We used to do that with Isaac when he was younger, we would sit at the table and go around and each talk about our high’s and low’s of the day.  It was one of my favorite times as a family.   Maybe I will pick that up again at dinner. There is something unique about that question that opens up the conversation about your day.  All of that to say, we are going to do some high’s and low’s to catch up. 

High:  We bought a car.  A second car to be more specific. When we moved we decided we would go as a single car family and then buy a second one when we got to Georgia.  That was almost three years ago.  The first year and a half were not too bad. I actually enjoyed it a little bit.  Our life as a whole had slowed down so not having a car wasn’t as big of a deal.  Also, Charles worked close enough that if I ever wanted to take the car for the day I could. With the job change his office was farther away and taking the car for the day became a deal.   Getting a second car became more of a priority.  Wish I could tell you I was so fun to car shop with but I am not. I simply get too wrapped up in making the RIGHT choice, instead of just getting what works for us.  It’s a thing I have to consistently work through. WE MADE IT THOUGH.  We bought a car. I am so HAPPY. I forgot what life was like with the ease to grocery shop whenever, or take Isaac out during school breaks, or just go grab coffee at a shop and write.  It’s truly GLORIOUS! 

Low: This one is hard to write because it is tender still and will be for a while.  This was the month that we said goodbye to Charles mom, Gail. She had been battling cancer for years, beating it once, for it only to come back.  When it returned it came with a timeline, one I would like to note, she beat living longer then they expected. With that timeline in mind, we have purposely spent every holiday and as much time as we could in Charlotte with her.   Gail was a fierce lover of her family, there was nothing outside of the Lord that she loved more than Jack (her husband) and her children. Well, maybe the beach but only if Jack and her kids were there. And a good adventure, if Jack and her kids were there.  She was something else and we will greatly miss her.  

There is our high and low like I said it was quite the month.  We opted out of another drive to Charlotte for Thanksgiving, deciding instead to stay home and be. Just the three of us and we did.  It was about as low key as you can get.  I didn’t even cook a turkey but I loaded up on the snacks. Which as a side note I have recently discovered are what I live for, SNACKS. They are the best thing ever, I will pass on Thanksgiving spread every time if I could gorge myself on snacks.  So it was just us, snuggled up, eating snacks, binge-watching football, and Fringe.   I did do something brave though. Well at least brave for me. I wrote a post and submitted it for an online community to possibly publish. Somewhere in my rational brain, I understand its not that big of a deal, however, the confidence to write and submit something has been such a journey for me. It felt good to step outside of the box I put myself in and just do something that made my palms sweat a little. 

This week we are getting back into our groove. Charles is off to the trenches at work, Isaac is gutting out the harsh school life of a 4th grader (I am joking….he loves it) and I am home (or sometimes not because I have a CAR) trying to find my pace with writing again. I hope your November and Thanksgiving found you surrounded by those you are grateful for and who are grateful for you.  

Leave it to Grey’s Anatomy

It was the next thing I did after I pushed the start button on our coffee pot. It wasn’t your normal end of the season shirt. Generally, I pass those ones on to Goodwill. It wasn’t even one of those I am so much smaller now I can’t wear this shirt kind of shirt. It wasn’t even a shirt, it was an undershirt. One of those skinny strapped tank tops that you wear for layering purposes. I have had it for almost 9 years. Yeah, I know…too long. I couldn’t get myself to the place where I parted with it. It’s not like it was any good anymore. The elastic on the bottom was stretched out. There were holes, the fabric so thin it was see through. I had gotten all the use out of this shirt, I was going to get. Yet still, I couldn’t seem to let it go.

Until this morning.

I have been sitting in this place emotionally where I am just letting the heartbreak of having a child who died, be. I am allowing my heart to take this journey and process however that may need to happen. I have no time frame, no clue as what to think or feel, I just am where I am. Open, present, and engaged with my heart for whatever it may need. Last night I decided to do what I call hibernate. It’s basically where I ditch the boys, snuggle up in the back, and just breathe. Sometimes I write, sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I watch tv. I don’t know what is so life-giving about that for me. There is just something about not having to be responsible for anybody. When I hibernate, Charles and Isaac run the house. They navigate meals, bedtime, or whatever is in the schedule. It isn’t always Isaac’s favorite, he loves it when everybody is together. He also gets it and always finds a way to sneak back at least 3 or 4 times for a quick kiss and snuggle. Don’t even know who I would be without that kid! So last night, hibernating, I end up watching some tv. It was Thursday, or course, Thursday. Grey’s Anatomy was on. Now I have not been a fan of Grey’s Anatomy for many years. I like the old school Grey’s, like McSteamy and McDreamy days. Matter of fact when Katie Grace was born, I went back and binged watched the older shows. There was something incredibly therapeutic about it; it was as if I could release my pain through Meredith Grey. The ache in my own life was too much but I could feel it through the dark and twisty life these writers gave her.

It’s been a hot minute since I have tuned in. Until last night in my hibernation. In the episode, they were showing a scene between Owen and Amelia. It’s a long twisted story I don’t want to get into and isn’t relevant to this story. Here is the part that is, Amelia was talking about a child she had that had died. Apparently, when she and Owen were married, he wanted kids and she wasn’t ready, part of the reason was facing the death of her son. As they were talking, she said something about finally being able to say his name, the freedom that it brings and the fact that the memory of him isn’t lost when more children are born. I can tell you 100% that is not what I expected to watch on Grey’s Anatomy. I just cried. I sat in my bed and let the tears fall. Somehow, someway, this fictional character on this fictional show gave my heart permission in a way my mind has not been able to.

Leave it to Grey’s Anatomy.

That undershirt I threw away this morning, is the last article of clothing I own that I wore when I was pregnant with Katie Grace. It seems so nonsensical to feel so connected to an inanimate object. It’s not like I don’t have things of her’s stored away in storage. Items I thin out each time we move or in each new season. I have at least 3 boxes of her. This undershirt though, I could wear it. I could put it on and remember her. I can remember being so massively pregnant with her. I can be in shock that this shirt, was able to cover her in my belly. Somehow this shirt became a connection to not just my pregnancy but also her.

I have tried to throw it away before. I just couldn’t get ever get close enough to the trash can to let it go. This hitch would happen within my heart, and I would go, awe there is no harm holding onto it. My mind would be speaking another story, reminding me how trashed it is. How there are holes and barely any fabric left. Yet still, I would put it back in my drawer and keep it in my rotation of undershirts. My heart unable to follow with the logic of my mind.

Things are changing though. This healing process, the timing that life has given, change is here, my heart is finally catching up to the logic of my mind. The more I stay in this place of heartbreak, sitting freely, safely, and fighting the impulse to be anything but present; my heart is fully feeling and healing. It is also releasing. It is letting go. Gah! It still makes me cry to write it. I don’t want to let go. That momma in me, that bear that fights, I want to hold onto what I know with her. I want to keep what life gave me. Life already took her, it can’t have anything else.

Yet in true Katie Grace form, doing what isn’t natural as a parent has been the only way to do life and death with her. Fighting to keep your children alive, healthy and well rounded, that is the intuitive drive. Not with her. It was almost always about letting that intuitive drive go, finding who she was, and following her lead. Here she is again, leading me into life, just as much as she led me into death.

Seven or so years ago, I was a new mom with a brain damage baby, weeping through Grey’s Anatomy because it was the only way to release the overwhelming pain of what my world was. Here I am today weeping through Grey’s Anatomy on a Thursday because of the overwhelming pain of letting go was too much for my heart to bear on its own. It’s a full circle. The embracing and the releasing of life and what it holds, the good and the bad.

Leave it to life.

Leave it to Katie Grace.

Leave it to Grey’s Anatomy.

P.S For my die hard Grey’s fan, I wrote this two weeks ago so it was not last Thursday episode. Just clarifying 😉

 

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