Monday, June 05, 2017

I. just. miss. you. so. much.

Oh, Sammy.  I just miss you so much.
I think about you every day, all the time.
I wonder what you would be like now that you'd be 7-
would you play football? want to join in lacrosse? master the Karate Kata with Max and Charley?  Would you still let your sisters paint your toenails and dress you up in crazy clothes?

I contemplate how many books a day you'd be reading to answer your endless questions and if you would play the piano.  I ponder what questions you'd ask me today-I miss your questions SO very much.
Questions that often revealed the beauty of God's world and hidden treasures of your unwavering faith.
Do you remember asking me to read I Love You Stinky Face over and over and over again?  Do you remember begging me to voice Grover in The Monster at the End of this Book?  
Do you remember how much I love you? 

I Do. 

The world was brilliant and bright with you & Mercy in it, my precious son. So many of my days, it seems so dull and lifeless without you.
But, in my mommy heart, I know that you would hate to see me sad all the time and it broke your little heart to see Mommy cry.  While I can't promise you that I won't cry, I can promise you that I will try to find joy everywhere I look today, even as my heart is breaking because you're not here to share it with me.  We will eat your favorite treats, blow bubbles, fly kites, bury our toes in the sand, watch the waves break on the shore and imagine you're laughing as they knock you over-I'll close my eyes and let the sun shine on my face and feel the wind caress my cheek, knowing that you are in the wind and a part of the brilliance of the light that fills my day.  And for just a moment, I'll feel your hands on my face, turning me to look into your wide eyes and I'll hear you whisper it again-
I love you, mama.  

It's my turn with the questions, buddy.
Do you have a body there?
Do you ask Jesus questions all the time or do those questions not matter anymore?
What's it like to worship Jesus all the time?  Is it even possible to put that into words?
What's it like to never shed a tear or know sadness?
Does Heaven have memories?
In my heart of hearts, I know you are glorified, exuberant and best of all-SAFE in the arms of our Savior.  And I know you'd never want to come back.  I know it's selfish of me to wish that you were still here-but my heart shattered into an infinite number of pieces the day you and Mercy ran home to Jesus.  I don't think that my heart will ever recover, but I will trust in the Lord to find beauty, grace, peace, purpose and joy in the time I have left in this much less than perfect place until the moment I get to hold you in my arms again, feel your soft hand in mine and hear you whisper-
I love you, Mama. 
I love you, my sweet, stinky face, superhero Sammy.  Happy Birthday. 


"What do you want me to do for you?" 
"Lord, I want to see," he replied. 
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight, your faith has healed you."
Luke 18:41-42

Sweet Jesus-give me eyes to SEE the beauty and wonder still left in this world.  
Precious Father, grant me a heart to know and to give compassion and grace. 
Holy Spirit, indwell my spirit and soul to seek your enveloping presence to walk this path in faith and in confidence of things unseen. 
Blessed Trinity-
be my eyes to SEE, my ears to HEAR and my voice to SPEAK-
of Your works, Your goodness, and Your LOVE. 

Sunday, June 04, 2017


7 years ago today, I left my 4 little people with my mom, certain Sammy would join our family that day and share his birthday with you.
But as was typical of my youngest son (and you), he wasn't operating on anyone else's time schedule and didn't make his appearance that day.  He came in his own time, when he was darn good and ready, after a WHOLE LOT OF DRAMA, the next day.
Funny how you and Sammy were so alike-you never met, never shared a moment, yet you entered this world 12 years and a day apart and you left it within in a week of each other.
Your Ma and I, we share a whole lot of crap.  Guess it's why our friendship got put through it's paces those many years ago in California.  Refining fire for when we'd need each other in ways we never dreamed possible.
You'd get a kick out of some of our more macabre conversations.  And out of the fact that you & Mercy & Sam all live in closets....
I often wondered those many years ago when your mom & I decided to have a grown up friendship and set all the crap aside if it would last.
I. had. no. idea.
Your Ma and me-our friendship...
it reminds me of how God shows His incredible love for us.
By ordaining and orchestrating the relationships and the love we can't live without when the bottom drops out.
I got your Ma, Noah.  And she's got me.  Rest easy, drummer boy.  Rest easy.
The Beat WILL go on-every day, with every beat of the hearts that loved you and remember you.
Happy Birthday, Noah.
This broken, fallen world was a better place with you in it, but the love you left in your wake is an even greater joy.
Aunt Tiff

Friday, March 17, 2017

songs of the past stretching into my future-

I saw the most beautiful baby tonight-I watched her snuggle and suck on her fingers, smile and bubble, be held and loved unconditionally with open and untethered hearts.  Suddenly and without warning, it opened a door to a place deep in my heart that I wasn’t sure I could ever find again.

and the blessing of opening that door, that little love note from God was this-
I sang Max to sleep tonight-for the first time in nearly 2 years, I sang my son to sleep.
I don’t do that anymore.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, I didn’t decide the day they died that I wasn’t that kind of mama anymore.  It just didn’t occur to me anymore that I still had a little person who wanted, who needed, whose heart would be comforted by the melody only mama could sing for him.
Before, I sang them all to sleep.  All 5 of them.  It was my favorite thing to do at the end of all the crazy days…I could rock in my chair for hours singing to my little people.  When I could slip away from the little people, I’d hover in the doorway of the big girls' room, "Castle on a Cloud" and "City of God" slipping from my lips into their softly settling hearts...  I’d make up songs, change words to the ones I held dear, alter the tune, I’d do absolutely anything I could to-
just. keep. singing.
Not one thing was more precious to my mama heart than those sleepy snuggles, the soft and gentle caress of a chubby hand on my face, whispers of “i love you, mama,” and finally the heavy weight of a wholly loved, completely cherished child softened into slumber.
I still rocked Sammy sometimes, right up until he died.  Not in the chair anymore, just in my arms when he’d scooch into my lap, early in the dawn of morning as I read my Bible or late at night when he just couldn’t settle into sleep.  He didn’t live long enough to outgrow his mama.
How I desperately wish he had.
How. I. wish. it.
All around me, their friends are growing up, just like my surviving children.
Just like they would be.
They grow leaner & taller, chubby baby faces long gone.  They’re moving on, the memories of their time with Mercy and Sam fading and growing dim, every day a little further away from the time before The Accident.
When all was right in the world and my heart was full.
Tonight I put my Max to bed-
He never slept alone before The Accident and really hasn’t since.  From the moment he was conceived until the day Mercy and Sam died, Max never slept all night alone.  Not even once.  I will never, ever forget the sight of him sleeping halfway into the night alone when Charles and I finally reached our children in Texas the night of The Accident.  And immediately, Charles laid with our surviving son, so he wouldn’t be alone.  So neither of them, my husband or my son, would be alone when morning came and we woke to the reality that this wasn't a nightmare or simply a very awful dream-
it was real.

So tonight, when Charley was blessed to have her oldest friend Hailey for a rare sleepover, it was finally Max’s time to sleep alone.
And that broken hearted little boy both shattered his mama’s heart to pieces and filled it all over again when he let me sing to him, then wrapped his precious arms around my neck, pressed his cheek into mine and whispered-“i love you, mama.”
It will never matter how much time will pass or how old I become.  Until the day I meet my Savior face to face, I will yearn, mourn, weep and long for the days when my heart was truly and completely full.

And for so many years, when my heart was full, we seemed to always celebrate in one very special place.

Rucker John’s.

Today we were blessed to share in a new chapter in that special place that holds so many memories and laughter- and quite frankly, tears- for our family.
I don’t remember the first meal we ever had at Rucker John’s.  I just know we must have looked a hot mess, because we absolutely were back then.  We had 2 squirmy babies, an unruly 3 year old, a shy and reticent 7 year old and I was probably hugely pregnant with Sammy.  They must have made an impression-because we just kept going back.   Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, family visits, date nights and “just because mama is a wreck and can’t cook” nights and some homeschool "field trip" lunches thrown in for good measure.  But most memorably, "Daddy is home from deployment and everyone survived" nights!
So many memories wrapped up in that one place.  I distinctly remember how walking back in there for the first time “after” was one of the most painful, yet comforting, moments of my life.  As we walked in that door we’d passed through so many times, a flood of memories rained down and blanketed my scattered and discordant mind.
I couldn’t even get through the door that day without rivers of sorrow covering my face.  Mine mingling with all the girls at the front.  The ones who had accommodated my picky table choices, fetched countless crayons and high chairs, bumped us up a spot or 2 in line when the kids were restless and filled their chubby hands with so many mints…
Walking that night through the soft light and the quiet chatter of so many others, making their memories and enjoying the night, my own eyes were blinded by tears, my ears filled with the rushing of my blood pumping so hard to keep up with my racing heart.

I know we walked all the way through the dining room that night, I distinctly remember it-we pulled out our stools, falling into them with a heaviness that defied how small we felt.  But when I look back, it feels like one second we walked through the door and the next we were just there.  Stunned and struck speechless by thoughts that trailed memories and wishes and what ifs.  I wish I could remember who was behind the bar that night, but the only thing I remember is our friend, Mark Sheppard, walking up behind us and putting his hands on our shoulders, not saying a word, just standing with us, crying with us, and for us, and for them.
And in the time since, every time we have walked through those doors, we have felt loved, welcomed and remembered.  We’ve been hugged, we’ve been held and we’ve been cherished.

So today, I couldn’t fathom how I’d feel walking back into a place that held so much of our past when I knew that on the “outside" it would look so different.  I’m an incredibly visual person and I hold so much in my heart with what I see.  The long window booth where we sat when we had that first dinner home from deployment when the bill just happened to be “taken care of…,” the elevated booth where I sat with the kids having lunch the first time I met precious Ann O’Malley, my mama’s “long lost twin,” the "mirror table" just outside the kitchen that made it so easy for whatever poor server got stuck with our high maintenance people to just pop into the kitchen for whatever we were asking for now…the big booth in front that served as the Dobler/Mac/Lewis/Warden spot for so many family gatherings, and the long table in the back where we had our last RJ’s meal as a whole family-when Mercy dumped water all over her dress and I just gathered her up and zipped on over to that little tye dye store to buy her a new one (much to her delight!), and lastly-the rounded booth in the front where we sat for countless simple family meals-I can’t begin to number how many times we sat and where.  I just know that a piece of the heart of our WHOLE family lived there then, lives there now and and always will.

Well-you know what I felt walking into the “all new” Rucker John’s tonight?

Exactly the same as I did every other time.  Like I was coming home.

So, THANK YOU-each and every one of you that gives your time, your talent and most importantly, your hearts, to serving others and making memories. To giving hugs and whispered encouragements, and for granted grace on tough days. You’re truly more special than you know.
Thank you Polly & Chris, Mark & Laurel, Mark Machado and Chris Winstead, Wallace and Julian, Caitlin and Vanessa, Cassy and Billy, Brittany and Janelle, Sam and Amy, Cortney and Billy,  Lauren and Hannah, Brandy and  and oh. my. goodness- every single one of you, past and present!  (If I try to name you all, I’ll fail epically, so grant me a little MORE grace if you would.)
Cheers to your new chapter and giving all the glory to the One who sees and knows for orchestrating and ordaining the past, the present and the future.

And here’s to “raising people” and starting all over-

Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  For it is the one who is least among you all who is greatest."
Luke 9:48

love always,
clan mac mama

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love notes from God-

My mailbox is a little like a heavenly jack-in-the-box.  Every so often, I pop the handle open and out falls out a card, a letter, a little package...
always when my heart seems to be bleak and barren, my soul dry, sorrow spilling and bubbling over...
I get a love note.  
A little blessing. 
A whisper in the wind of sadness that reminds me they are not forgotten.  That I am not forgotten.  That we, The Clan McCawley as we once were, we are not forgotten.  

I'm going to let you in on my secret and share them with you.  

Because in the agonizing absence of my ability to share my heart with you, the only thing I know, with absolute certainty, is that I must do THIS-
-share the hearts of those who have listened to the whispers of that still small voice...
and, once again, blessed our broken hearts.

My childhood friend shared these words from her spirit to mine, piercing right into the heart of my pain-reminding me of the bonds Our Lord created in our family, linking our souls and spirits forever-
those bonds can never be broken. 

And so I will speak their names. 
Remembering, waiting, hoping. 

Because it does, 
too often-almost always, really-
feel as though they are fading like a weathered photograph:  
~clarity blurring, lines softening, shadows growing~
until all you see is the shadow of what once was.  And although I will never again laugh or smile with the freedom of an unbroken heart; if I am still. quiet.  at rest.  in my soul...
I do still see them.  

Tugging on my hand.
Breathing kisses into my cheek.
Spinning, spinning, spinning, unconditional and God breathed love, into our hearts and our home........................  

Because He gave them to us anyway.  Knowing and seeing the end from the beginning;
He blessed us with them anyway. 

Because I know that His love is poured out onto our fractured souls through the love notes He prompts others to send.  And by that love, our wounds are bound when they need it most, when the scab has been torn away and the bleeding is profuse, by that love, we are held.

I'm sharing my secret with you because it's NOT meant to be a secret-
it's the swan song of a loving forever, loving always, loving perfect, gracious and eternal source of all the love in the world.  

Who gave them to us and let us love them...anyway.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, 
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness
I will build you up again...
Jeremiah 31:3-4a

I love you every day, always and forever~
and Sammy.  
All of you, with all that I am.  

Clan Mac Mama

Sunday, December 11, 2016


I've stayed silent for quite a while now.  Losing "my words" has been incredibly challenging-the silence sitting in my soul, my thoughts jumbled and foggy.  I've shut out the world at large, much preferring to hide in my cozy little house than put my "face" on when I have to leave it.  I had the urge to write this morning-then found that once again, "my words" fled before I could put them to paper.  So I went back and read this post that I'd never published and I realized that these words are the ones I still need to say.  6 months ago, when I wrote them, I needed to say them then, and I still need to say them now.  Maybe saying them will begin to break the bondage that I feel so trapped in.  Before I share those words, I have to say this-

Grief is individual, it is personal, and it is selfish.
I am selfish.  Selfishly heartbroken, insanely jealous of every person I know who hasn't lost a child, envious beyond words of new babies, new adoptions, bigger families and people who don't have traumatized children.  
I am selfish because I can't always look outside the fragile bubble of our minute to minute roller coaster existence, a bubble that gets popped by the dullest of pokes, by the slightest memory and the continual realization that my children's grief and tragedy is shaping and will shape who they are and will become.  
I am selfish because the seething anger at my circumstances that lies beneath the surface every moment of my day feels like a prison.  one that I'm not sure I can ever be paroled from.   
I am selfish because I don't want platitudes or minimization of what we deal with every day.  
Grief is selfish. 

And it is fundamentally redefining who I am...

(I wrote this in June, not long 1 year had passed since the accident date-)

I look in the mirror so often and am constantly surprised to see the same face staring back, the same exact one I had before the accident.  Tucked somewhere in a quiet corner of mind was the assumption that I'd look different.  This face couldn't possibly belong to this me, now the mother of dead children.  This face had belonged to a different woman, one who woke up every day believing she would have the future she planned.

Recently I came to the realization that this past year hasn't just been about grieving the loss of Mercy & Sam-it's grieving our home, our life, my identity, MY innocence, our future, the relationships that have been destroyed, the dynamics of life that changed beyond what I ever thought possible and, of the most consequence, the loss of the innocence of my surviving children.  

So often, I find myself telling complete strangers our story, of Mercy and Sam and the time since.  Of the incredible and countless times God has made a way in the wilderness of grief.  I wonder if it's weird.  If I'm trying to find my new identity and this feels like the only way people can know me now.  I used to be that crazy mom of 5 who'd haul them anywhere, now I'm that lady whose kids died.  And I'm not sure I know how to be anything else.  Does it make them squirm inside?  Is my husband embarrassed by this oversharing ghost of the wife who used to make people laugh and now she makes them cry, or look away, or awkwardly change the subject?

Or does sharing the grace of God in the midst of 
tragedy somehow, someway, touch even just one 
unsaved or struggling soul?  

Frustratingly,  I struggle with seeming to write the same thing over and over...that the sadness of my soul feels too much to bear and I can't find other words.  Other words that will show you the provisions God made from the very beginning of my life and in the lives of my husband, my children and those who love us.    
I want those other words tell you My Story...

It's not just my story, though.  It's a narrative woven of innumerable strands- I could search for the rest of my life and never find every single one.  

I have to try, though.  I have to tell you My Story.
It's my greatest hope, my most fervent prayer and my offering to a God who is immeasurably greater than we know. 
If I show you, if I tell you, will you believe it?  Or will you think I'm just nuts?  Sometimes even I think I'm nuts.    The trust it takes to look back and see, to know and to understand the vast love of a Creator who covered and covers our family in His protection and provision in the midst of our greatest tragedy is mind boggling and quite frankly, seems a bit crazy even to ME.  

I found a journal a few days ago, a tiny and precious collection of memories that I started when Charles was deployed.  In it were moments, rare snippets of time that I recorded for the husband so far away.  And honestly, for myself.  I was always so scared, so filled with fear that I wouldn't remember enough, I wouldn't be able to keep their "littleness" alive in my memory...
and there were only 5 pages-5 priceless pages.  The desperate unfairness of it all washed over me, burying my heart in a fresh wave of grief that took my breath away.  

Dammit-that happens a lot lately.  Those waves of grief that hit me in the gut like a sucker punch.  Maybe it's because a door has been closed, or rather slammed shut, that finally released the dam.  The crack in that door was open just enough for me to have hope that what I believed was someone else's "truth" was just my own perception.   

Maybe it's words that were so hurtful, so powerful, and incredibly cruel at a time when we are most vulnerable.  That old adage about sticks and stones breaking bones, but words will never hurt me?  I call BS on that one.  WORDS are powerful, and they can be flaming arrows to the heart or they can be a balm to broken soul.  We've been pierced by some pretty hot arrows and have been on the receiving end of an accusation that is the single most hurtful thing ever said to Charles and me.  

It could very well be that the last of the shock has worn off...

Or, and this is my most confident assumption, I guess it could be that the clear and present reality of no more "firsts" and a future life of gazing on images of children who will never grow up has settled like concrete in my stomach.  

I'd venture to say it's probably every one of those things, and a million more I can't even find words for.  

What happens to a person when the dreams they have lived for, the life built, the future imagined- when all of that comes crashing down in an instant?  

Doubt-soul crushing, faith blasting, fear mongering DOUBT.   

of Yourself. 
Your spouse.
Everyone and everything you've ever known.  
The ability of your faith to carry you. 
The strength of God to pull you through. 
Pretty much every decision that got you to the point of impact.  

The doubt becomes that proverbial fork in the road.
But the choice isn't as simple as it would seem.  It's not a choice made "one and done." It's a constant and exhausting battle-living in the pit or hoping for a redeemed future.    

In all honesty, a lot of the time I do want to live that bloody pit.  The thought of a future redeemed is so foreign, seems so improbable, feels just SO WRONG.  Because it feels like a betrayal of the love of my children.  I can't explain it, I can't justify it and I don't know why, but it truly feels like I'm failing them in death just like I failed to protect them in life.  

And it's just so stupid.  I didn't fail to protect them.  I loved them, I cherished them and my entire life revolved around being their Mama.  I guess I just haven't figured out how to be a parent to living children and dead ones at the same time, so in some ways it's easier to teeter at the edge of the pit than acknowledge that an earthly life without Mercy and Sam could be redeemed.  

This morning, I found myself sobbing in front of the computer as I read Ann Voskamp's adoption story at A Holy Experience-her words revived in me the call my heart has felt for adoption for 13 years.  And once again, I found myself grieving-for the dream that I'm so scared of now.  For the fear of opening my heart to take a chance and for the children I may never know because the shrapnel of the past is launching itself into the future of my family.  

I don't spend my days wailing and sobbing, and laughter often passes my lips.  I don't languish in my bed, clutching a photo of the children lost to the world while clinging precariously to memories of a cherished life now shredded into pieces.  At least not very often.

I'd be a liar if I said I didn't have those moments, if I was able to stuff it all the time, if putting on a face was easy.  
I do have them.   There are times, in the quiet of a house filled with no children and sometimes, no husband, I completely lose my sh*t.  I yell at God, yell at myself, scream at the injustice of it all.  I throw stuff and I go through an entire box of tissues.  I clutch pillow pets or stuffed animals, I try to smell clothes that have long since stopped carrying their scent.  
And then I dry my tears.  
Wash my face. 
Pick up the mess. 
And ask God to forgive me all over again.  And hold me up.  And give me His love and mercy.  And fill me with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

My prayer is this- the time that is my enemy will become my friend, laid out before me in a tapestry of moments in which to fulfill God's purpose in my life and the life of my family.  I pray the dreams and plans God placed on my heart so many years ago will someday come alive again.  My deepest wish and heart's desire is to have a story to tell you that will be filled with the provision of God's grace, redemption, new life and a love that transcends all understanding.  

not my story.
HIS Story. 

Please, precious friends, pray for me.  So desperately I want to share all that God has done in and through the people who have loved and lifted us during this tragedy.  Pray that those words are the ones that break through and fly from my heart into the world.  

By His Grace,

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dear Ella's mom & dad,

you'll probably never know the priceless and precious gift you gave me today when you shared sweet Ella with me.
You'll probably spend a few minutes talking about me and wondering why I got all teary-eyed when you handed her to me and I felt the soft weight of her cuddly little body.
You might be a bit intrigued as to why I'd go to the trouble of taking my earrings & glasses off just to hold an itty-bitty girl in a rugged and cozy hometown market.
As you leave, perhaps you'll smile a bit at the memory, then head off to your home filled with baby snuggles, precious laughter and a wee bit of a girl who was the personification of God's grace and light to a broken hearted mama on a sorrowful Sunday afternoon.
What I wish I could tell you is how it took my breath away to see her reach for me, to light up the room as she smiled, and to have a few of the holes in my soul filled to overflowing by the innocence of a young spirit so willing to let me love her.

Every single day... 
Searching, seeking, I'm desperate to sense their nearness.

And He blesses me-

A striking chirp of a cardinal calling,
the gentle flutter of a soaring butterfly,
crashing waves on a sandy shore,
rolling thunder amidst a storm,
murmuring wind and rustling leaves,
tinkling laughter of a tiny little voice...
and the velvety touch of a pure and virtuous soul.

Ella's mom and dad-
Today you returned to me a precious piece of my soul.  In sharing Ella, you gave salve to a gaping, grieving wound and began to wash it clean.  To simply say Thank You isn't enough.  I could give you a million reasons why it's not enough, but there is only one that matters.

Your child, your "different" child, was Christ radiating His light right into that room, and the love that filled each of your eyes as you held her, gazed at her and shared her was simply majestic to behold.

You are absolutely perfect in His sight.  And you are more than perfect in mine.  I wish that I could wrap you in a bubble and keep you from a world that demands unrealistic flawlessness.  I only held you for a moment and I would stand in front of a speeding train to keep the world from hurting you, so I can only imagine how much your mommy and daddy love you.  And for just one moment today, I felt the unconditional love of my sweet babies pour from your pure heart as it did from theirs.

Every day, I'll pray for you and Mommy and Daddy, Ella.  I'll thank God for you, I'll hold out hope with a little corner of my heart- that someday I'll get to snuggle you for just a moment again and tell you how perfect I think you are. I'll whisper in your ear how much better the world is with you in it.  And I'll tell your Mommy and Daddy how beholden I am to them for letting me have just a moment with you.

Jesus loves you Ella, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
And I do too.

clan mac mama

Thursday, June 23, 2016

It's kind of like expecting a deaf person...

to understand sound.
A color blind person to grasp what a rainbow looks like.
A barren woman to understand the magic of a baby in her womb.
Or an atheist to understand that denying the existence of God because you cannot physically prove He exists is a bizarre kind of reverse faith, based on the exact same type of principles as believing He exists EVEN THOUGH you cannot prove it.
Trying to explain parental grief is pretty much just. like. that.  
Unfortunately, I've learned immeasurably more than I care to about parental grief in this last year and 12 days.  12 things for 12 days into year 2...

1.  Until you awake every morning to 2 of your kids, in a box, on your husband's dresser-Praise Jesus, you cannot, will not and should not understand how we feel.  I don't want you to try to, because it's simply awful and since we love all of you, we'd rather you just continue to pray for us and love us in the unconditional way so many of you have through the twists, turns, ups and downs of our new reality.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with wordless groans.  
Romans 8:26

2.  Wow-my kids were, and are-infinitely loved.  As are we.  Truly, we are blessed.  Even in the midst of this trial, His tender mercies are abundant and true.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, 
offspring a reward from him. 
Psalm 127:3

3.  I absolutely love to hear about my kids.  I love to talk about them, laugh about them, recall their antics and remember the incredibly neat little people they were.  Some of the greatest blessings in the last year have been photos, videos and letters of memories we have been blessed to receive.  Please send and share them if you have them-it's such a balm to our hearts.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.  
1 John 3:4

4. I can't make peace with the death of my kids.  Ever.  But I can be a part of making a powerful statement for wisdom when using recreational vehicles.  And that is exactly what our family is doing through The SaMercy Fund.  Tirelessly, so many have already worked every event to promote our cause, and I've not planned a single one.  Or even been able to attend one.  Every one of the fundraisers has generously been scheduled, promoted and executed by family, friends and even those who have never met us or our kids.  They simply want to serve and lend a hand and heart wherever they can.
Every single penny that we raise helps us to begin partnering with the people that use and sell these vehicles to help raise awareness and to promote safety through educational classes/seminars/training.  We absolutely cannot sweep this under the rug and allow it to be considered a consequence of a way of life when people die or are horrifically injured because of such powerful vehicles.   Every human life is precious to God and it is our intent to honor that in helping to reduce these casualties.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord and not for men..
Colossians 3:23

5.  Grief is quite possibly the most powerful and debilitating trial I can ever imagine going through.  It has forced me to be selfish, to blot out the world at large and to realize that tending to my shredded family is the one and only priority I can have right now.  And for a fixer, a gift-giver, a glass half-full bleeding heart and one who always tries to see beyond the surface, that has been a bitter and hard pill to swallow.  It has revealed more about my character, my weaknesses, my soul and my connection to Christ than I could ever have imagined.  And it has opened my eyes to immeasurably more about the true character of God.
Never does he ever, leave or forsake us, no matter how hard we try to sever the cord when we are bitter, broken and hurting, He NEVER leaves.

Though one may be ovewpowered, 
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  
                                                                      Ecclesiastes 4:12

6.  Guilt is a clever little devil.  Or should I say, work of the devil's hands?  Even though I was nowhere near my children the day they died, I have lived the last year blaming myself in some way, shape or form.  I know it's not my fault, but to live each day knowing that I somehow failed to protect them?  I don't know if my son felt pain, if he knew for just an instant how horrible his injuries were and that he was almost dead?  Did he cry out, call out or know he needed mama?  Or was he just instantly gone?  I don't know if Mercy cried for me, or if she knew what had happened.  I don't know if she saw her brother, dead and broken, and if she knew she was going to die too.  And I don't know if she felt the crushing pain that must have filled her tiny, precious little body.  That, my friends, is a guilt and shame that burrows deep into the recesses of the soul and plants a very bitter root.

...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8b

7.  Praise the Lord, kindness and grace are abundant in this world.  Simply put, there are just a tremendous flock of people who are exceptional in the way they serve, treat others and give grace.  It is my heart's desire to send a personal thank you note to each and every one of them-not because I'm a proper etiquette nazi or because I feel obligated-but because I truly want each of them, from the butterfly tattooed woman on the beach who found us by way of our church and sent us a letter, to the strangers who have sent meals, to the loving ladies who knit prayer shawls for each and every one us, and finally the incredible friends and family who have picked us up when we fell and keep falling, to know what a treasure it is to be held in their hearts, prayed for, and loved by each of them. In truth, that is just a tiny smattering of the blessings we have received.  Honestly, I still sleep with the very first prayer shawl I received, every single night.  But I know that not one of those people expect a thank you note, a pat on the back or acknowledgement.  Each one served out of the wellspring of love God placed in their heart.  Period.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 
Galations 6:2

8.  Sadly- guilt, anger, judgement, selfishness and expectation are also dismally plentiful.  I wish we had made it through this year with a minimum of cuts and bruises on that end-unfortunately, we did not.  Harsh, thoughtless words have been spoken, judgment has been handed down and relationships have potentially been destroyed.  There is fault to be had on all fronts and only God can close and repair any of those gaping canyons that now exist.

Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and never sins.  
Ecclesiastes 7:20

9.   Healing-For reasons I'll try to explain without sounding like a jerk, it is the buzzword that makes my hackles rise, my knickers twist up and my hair catch on fire.  Maybe it's because, to me, it says that I'm expected to return to the person I was before, that I'll be whole again and that the wounds left behind by the absence of Mercy & Sam in this life will be rendered cured.  That may not be what it means when people say it, but I tend to be a bit on the prickly side with that concept at this point in my life, so I'm just being honest.
His healing of my heart will be filling it with His presence and peace-and because I'm flawed and human-well, that means it may take a while.
A precious friend had her daughter go home to Christ 10 years ago on June 20.  Her "healed" heart still hurts, she still grieves and she still longs to hold her baby again.  BUT, because she has held onto Christ like a lifeboat in an epic storm, she has found joy & purpose again, she truly does laugh, and she adores the life she still has with her living children-I KNOW she does, because it radiates on her face ever single time I lay eyes on her!  So I'm holding onto that lifeboat too and praying for rescue.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  
John 14:3

10.  It must be incredibly hard to be my mother, my father, sister, brother, friend, husband or child.  No one really knows what to do, what to say, or how to help.  As time wears on, I wish I could say that part got easier, but it some ways it's harder.  Time has passed, we've walked through all the firsts, we go out in public, we do things normal families do-but Mercy and Sam are still dead, we are still hurting with every breath we take, it is STILL too quiet in our home, I still look for them around every corner, and we never know when a new wave of grief will knock us down.  When it seems like we're normal on the outside, I think it makes the "how" of loving the inside of us through this grief even more complex.  

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. 
Job 2:13 

11. On the flip side, it's a tremendous weight to be the parent of 3 hurting kids and really have no idea how to help them, how to make them feel safe again in a world that damaged them so deeply, and how to teach them to live THIS life to the fullest extent of God's will and plan for them.  How do we teach them to be bold, be brave, be Christ-like?  How do we honestly teach them how loving God IS when we can't explain why He'd allow us all to hurt like this?  How do we answer their why questions?  Making decisions for their lives carries with it an overwhelming sense of fear and worry, far beyond anything I ever experienced before June 11.
And for my husband?  How can I be the wife he needs me to be when I can't fix, mend or soothe the things that hurt him in the deepest part of his soul?  The incomprehensible loss of his children and the dissolution of his family.  I can't make any of that better, I can't change the past or people, and I certainly have no inspiring wisdom that springs forth about how to plan a future that is so drastically altered.  So into His wisdom, I have to lean.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.  
Proverbs 16:9

12.  Finally, and most importantly-
Transparency is the greatest gift we can share with one another.  From the moment I could put my fingers to a keyboard again after the day our world imploded, I have vowed to keep our story out there, to beg all of you for prayer and to shine a light on the fact that while faith is messy, complicated, and HARD-It is the only way we can ever survive THIS life.   Your burdens may be different than mine, but each of us is walking in our uniquely fitted shoes-and those shoes desperately need God to keep them on our feet.
SO-I'll never be the quiet grieving girl in the corner, the stoic, yet broken-hearted matriarch, or a pretender that grieving while loving God is easy if I just give it all to Him.
I HAVE given it to Him.  I have laid it at His feet, sometimes with grace and sometimes with my teeth clenched and my fists ready to punch.  For 1 year and 12 days, I have done my very best.  And my best is all I can ever do.  HIS best is what will carry me through.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.  
Ephesians 4:17b-18

And as I just looked out my window for a moment,
2 pure white, busylittle butterflies flitted into view...
As if to say, "look at us mama, look at us!"
Our Father is just. so. good.

clan mac mama