It’s time

Close to two years ago I wrote a post titled Transition.  A rambling preach about how Charles and I could see a transition coming.  How we knew a move back to Georgia was happening.  We knew it was going to take awhile and be abrupt all at the same time.

As I sit here tonight in the silence I am awestruck that the transition is here. As of February 1 2016, the Christian family will be residents of Georgia, once again.

Charles went in for an interview for a promotion, and not only did he get the promotion but the company asked if he would be willing to relocate to Georgia.  We of course said yes.  How could we say no?  God has been speaking of this move for many years. The intimate details of what He has worked out are mind boggling.

For tonight, I will this here as a simple announcement of what is to be.  In the weeks to come I hope to lay out the beautifulness of the faithfulness of the Lord.  His compassionate love. His patience for growth in such a long human filled journey.  The elegancy of arms open community.

The time is here.  We are moving to Georgia.

Man Child

Tomorrow, you will be 7, and you have experienced more in your brief 7 years then most.  Our life today isn’t what I thought it would be when you first came into this world.

When you were born, I was bound in chosen captivity. A captivity that made your life selected for you.  You were destined to be a farmer, to carry a last name that wasn’t yours(a name your dad and I carried also that wasn’t ours), and to walk a path without choice.  You could only be what your dad was, and do what the family was doing.  God was bigger though, and he broke us free. Your birth drove your dad  to no longer settle for complacency, and choosing captivity was more intimidating with you in the world.

The story is long, detailed and I hear often it needs to be in a book, yet at the end we left that family.  You, Me and your dad; three strangers practically; forging our way into a world we had hid from.  Yet we couldn’t stop, we couldn’t quit. We had you.  We needed to be okay. To keep moving, to keeping chasing the Lord wherever we felt led.

I am grateful because it led us to our community.  The one we have to this very day.  A community full of choices, broken people pursing health,  messes, and brave communication.

When your sister was born, it was that community that held us.  And it was you who pushed us to not stop.  To not quit.  But to be okay, to keep moving, to keep chasing the Lord wherever he led.  You needed us to be okay, to find the strength to do life with Katie Grace well.  You needed us to be the example of how to find God in the pain. To watch us learn how to lean into his chest and breathe in his peace as your heartbreaks.  You needed to see us trust him when it looked like we shouldn’t.  To chose forgiveness when we had every right to chose bitterness.  To chose grace when could have been angry and to chose to be powerful when we could have been a victim.

Not only did your presence push us but you met us there.  You embraced your sister in the fullness of who she was from the moment we brought her home.  You were insistent upon reading her books each night before bed.  You were careful and aware of how fragile she was.  As her care demanded more, and equipment began to fill our house, you carried an awareness of tubes and cords, diligently making sure not to pull or trip over anything.  That tenderness that wraps your heart and oozes out your pores, drew you to her.  Letting her nurses step in as your playmates but always pretending she was playing with you, sitting next to her as you worked on your leapster including her in your games and photos.

To be honest son, some days I get lost in all that you have had to negotiate in your life. Between your dad and I learning how to do marriage, our sweet Katie Grace, and our rocky beginning; I wonder how on earth you have turned out so well.  Earnest to makes those around you laugh, so free with your love and compliments, your tenderness.  And then I write this, and as I type I am overwhelmed with the bigger picture.  You see you are a catalyst son.  Your dad and I would not be where we are today without you.  We wouldn’t be who we are today without your sister, but surely we would not be where we are without you.  You have held us in account for how we do life.  Your presence has called us to chase after the deeper.  To be better and to keep moving.  You are one, Isaac Adam, who will call people to health.

Please forgive me for every moment, my heart mourned that you didn’t have a “normal” life.  That I thought my “mistakes” took away from you.  I see now…..I see how much I couldn’t have done what I did, if I didn’t have you. And how much that is apart of your destiny.  A part of the greatness that God has for you.

I am going to swap my mourning for dancing and my sorrow for joy.  I am going to dance on injustice and declare the goodness.  Thank you my boy, for being you. For running the race with your dad and I.  For saying yes to your sister. For being the watching eyes that called us to greater. For giving us your laughter, your love, and your tenderness.  You have changed my world in ways I am just beginning to understand.

I love you man child. Happy Birthday!

The Deliberate Crumble (9 month mark)

Tomorrow begins my deliberate crumble.  My healthy resolve to fall into pieces and I find myself fascinated at how God designed us as human beings to recover. Did you know that the body has 4 stages of healing when wounded?

  1. Red blood cells form a blood clot, which helps stop the bleeding and creates a temporary barrier.
  2. The inflammation phase where the body sends white blood cells to capture and fight off any rogue bacteria might have gotten through.
  3. Then the Fibroblast cells enter the wound, dropping off collagen, that forms connective skin tissue to replace what was lost.
  4. Then the dermis and epidermis connect and contract to close the wound.

Amazingly after this full process, the skin is likely to be much stronger than it was before the wound. 

My journey with Katie Grace is much like the four stages of healing.  I had already had a deep cut when we left Georgia, our whole family did, Katie Grace was like our inflammation phase, she was our white blood cells, and walking through life with her was collagen, it formed the connective skin tissues that replaced what we lost in Georgia.  Her death, was our final stage of healing with her, and it closed the wound in many ways.

I find myself missing not just Katie Grace but the healing presence she brought.

The house is filled with only the sound of worship.  My head leans back into the softness of the olive colored chair, finding it’s nook amongst the cushion.  With each breath out blows the holding on and with each inhale brings a stillness my heart fears.   Then I see it, the tight hold of my hand, and I know it has been my heart. Soft words are spoken.

“Will you let me peel back the layers covering you? Will you let me in so I can bring you out?”

And just like a healed wound is gentle unwrapped, I know God is calling me out to slowly and deliberately let him pull back the gauze I have used to hold me together.  He is asking me to trust that the wound is healed.  That it is better then ever before.  That I am better then ever before.

To be honest I thought it would be easier.  I fashioned myself to not be a victim of what life handed me and in all of that I find that it is a harsh reality to also not stay a victim after Katie Grace has passed.  My life the last 5 years has been my yes possibly meaning no, always having a backup plan, and to always not know what is going to happen and when. That style of living allots you a trump card, a way to not go somewhere if you don’t want to. To not have to really follow through and it’s valid when you are in the middle of it. It is valid to have that trump card.  But when you step out, when your life doesn’t need a trump card, you need to latch onto the new reality.   To realize that it is time to allow the layers be peeled back.  It is why the Lord’s sweet voice calls out.  It is a stage in the healing process.  This is where you find how much you have grown, how much you have changed, how much you have inside of you.

Unraveling the bandage for me looks like follow through, it looks like clear communication, it looks my yes meaning yes, and my no meaning no.  To do that though, to have follow through, I need to trust who I am.  I need to trust that as God unravels the bandage, as he peels back the layers of white, that what I find is not a skinny arm, cut open, unused for 5 years, but instead I will find a whole, strong arm, put back together better than when first formed, with a skin held tighter together then ever before.

God’s grace and presence never left me, never abandoned me.   To trust the process, to chose a deliberate crumble, is to walk out the belief of that truth.

Tomorrow begins my deliberate crumble.

Radio Silence

Whew!

It’s the best descriptive word I can use to describe what the last 3 months have been like.  My mom moved back down to Southern California, Charles and I sold our house, moved our stuff into storage and in with friends who become more like family then ever, and then moved again into the place we have now.

Just writing it out is exhausting.

We are here though.  We are slowly settling into our new home.  A home I believe God has given us for rest.  A place to heal, to recover, and to understand the past 5 years.

In 9 days, it will be 9 months since, we said our goodbye to KG.  This time last year, we knew death was upon us and we started to change our mindset.  We believed we had a year so we set out to make that time the best it could be.  What we didn’t know was that we only had 3 months.  We had Thanksgiving, Birthday Party, Christmas, and then Goodbye.  I am not sure what the next 3 months are going to hold.  I don’t know how hard the 9 month mark is going to hit my heart, or what 1 year will look like.

What I do know, is as life is slowing down and there are more days marked off the calendar then aren’t, my heart misses her more.  The tight grip I held onto to keep moving, is slowly loosening, and upon me will be a season of crumbling into this beautiful healthy mess of a soul.

And around me will be the most beautiful Father and the most gracious of community’s to lift me up and hold our family tight in this season.

Community sweet community.

This past month has flown by and in a way my brain still can’t grasp it.  Between Thanksgiving, Charles’ Birthday, Christmas performances for a certain Kindergartener, and Katie Grace’s birthday our days have been full.  As the dust settles this week, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.  Throwing this birthday party for Katie Grace was kind of a big deal.  In a lot of ways, I have hid her away.  Only sharing her when my heart felt strong enough.  There are only so many stares that you can take, or ignoring, and purposely avoiding that your heart can swallow. Also the amount of work it takes to take her places is exhausting, the getting machines ready, oxygen, do we have meds, do we have enough snot rags, diaper bag full, warm clothes, cool clothes (more often cool then warm.) Then once we get somewhere, I have zero control over the lights, the temperature, the loudness, the things that bug her and make her uncomfortable.  I can help make her comfortable at home but not when we are out.  So, because it has always been Katie Grace preference to be home, and easier on my heart, we have just stayed home.

When Charles and I settled on throwing Katie Grace a birthday party this year, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into.  You know she doesn’t talk, walk,  smile (well smile on que), open presents, or blow out candles.  Her infectious laughter wasn’t going to fill the room, and squeals of glee over wanted birthday presents weren’t going to resound through the wall.  I had my concerns about how this party was going to go down.  Not even mentioning the practical things of her care. To say I was overwhelmed with the thought of it all was an understatement. How awkward would this party be?

I found myself compelled though.  I just couldn’t let the only party I throw for my daughter be her funeral.  If this is really our last year with her, I wanted her to be celebrated on the day she chose to join this world, not just the day she leaves it.  So we planned and planned, and on Saturday December 13th , we had an amazing day celebrating.  Our friend Michele, from North Carolina, who had yet had a chance to meet Katie Grace, flew out to be our photographer.  She captured some beautiful moments for us.

IMG_8694 IMG_8707 IMG_8722 IMG_8726 IMG_8770 IMG_8791 IMG_8825 IMG_8860 IMG_9008 IMG_9026 IMG_9043 IMG_9051 IMG_9063BW IMG_9090

As I sit here today typing, and looking at these pictures I am moved again to tears.  Not only was there not an awkward moment, but my daughter was held, talked to, doted on, and embraced with such tenderness.  She wasn’t looked at sideways or with question but she was embraced. Friends her age held her hand, and stroked her hair. They brought her presents, cards, and filled that room with such a tangible love. And when the time came to blow out the candles on her cake, she was surrounded by kids who blew them out for her. Where she couldn’t, they did.  This was the first time I had invited so many people so intimately into my life with Katie Grace, and without a skipping a beat they wrapped us up and loved us like they had lived in our house for the past 4 years.

On that day, my not normal special needs daughter was normal. Where she lacked; her friends had more then enough.  Her community, our community that day surrounded us, with God’s relentless and perfect love.  The love that knows brokenness but does not see it, that covers you with strength when you are weak. I know heaven won’t feel strange to her because she has already been enveloped with a heavenly love here on earth.

To our community thank you.  Thank you times a thousand. Her birthday party wouldn’t have been possible without you nor would it have been the same. To those of you who donated on her YouCaring page, her birthday was because of you, thank you.

A huge shout out to the www.thelittletumbleacademy.com for being there to entertain and keep busy a large group of children. Your service was outstanding and unforgettable. If you live in the Redding area these guys should be on your call list for birthday parties, or if you run a preschool or daycare.

Our next adventure begins this upcoming Saturday.  We will be packing up what will seem like most of our house and traveling to Southern California to see Aunt Jessie. Just like her birthday party, it is scary and overwhelming. And just like her birthday party, I feel compelled. Compelled to give her one amazing year on this earth.

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