Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A few days-

of trying to find the words I promised to write.
Words that are stuck in my "throat," because there are SO MANY things I want to say.  Things I've tamped down, hidden away, shoved in the feelings closet.  OR-simply haven't had the energy to share.  

Christmas shopping when 2 of your kids are dead sucks.  
No way around it, no silver lining or cute emojis that can make it suck less.  
No amount of "being thankful for the kids I still have..." can even remotely touch the fried endings of my nerves.  
I still have to hang their stockings, knowing they won't be filled with anything because they don't need anything here on this earth anymore.  
I still have to open the boxes of ornaments and Christmas projects, fully aware that we are one Christmas away from having more Christmases without Sam than with him.  
do all the things for the ones I have left.  
Because they have suffered enough and they deserve to know that joy is still real.  

Going to church when your kids are dead also sucks.  
Especially when you just don't want to go.  
Not because you don't love Jesus, or want to worship or spend time in the Word.  
I don't want to go because every single Sunday, without exception, when I usher my 3 living kids out the door, I still feel like we're incomplete.  Because. we. are. 
Of all the chaos in our lives before Sam & Mercy left us, the one constant was our church.  

SO-After nearly 9 years at the same church, we stopped attending last spring.  Much to the dismay of our surviving kids, who couldn't quite grasp why we would do such a thing.  
Walking into that place, incomplete-finally just became too much for this mama heart to bear. 
To be frank-it was also the raw scraping of being in that Family Life Center where people eulogized my kids and "celebrated" their lives, it made me SO FREAKING ANGRY that I was physically ill when I would force myself to sit there and ride out the service.  

For much of the last year, my life has felt like it was falling down around me.   Dominos falling in sequence, faster and faster, with no chance for me to flick one out of the way to-
make. it. stop. 

BUT- walking into this season, one that absolutely isn't about presents, trees, lights, cookies, ugly sweaters or hallmark movies-
I'm going to kick the dominos out of the damn way.  
To focus on the true gift.  

Even though-
It's our first Christmas without any family here to help fill the holes.  To create noise where there is none now.  
It's our first Christmas in 8 years without our closest pals.  
It's our first Christmas without unit parties and Gunny Claus. 
It's the first time we'll wake up Christmas morning with-
just. the. 5. of. us.  
And eat Christmas dinner with-
just. the. 5. of. us. 

It hit me last night that in this year, with all of it's chaos, our focus as a family hasn't even been close to the way we used to celebrate this season.  In the last 3 1/2 years, we've all just been trying to survive.

In my sewing cabinet last month, I found a beautiful, unfinished Advent Calendar that I started sewing for the kids the year before the accident.
The irony of that unfinished calendar coupled with our incomplete life has been stewing in my spirit-reminding me of all that has been lost in the time since Sam & Mercy left us.

Slowly, but surely, each tradition has fallen away-too painful to continue without all 5 sweet faces and hearts.
Gradually, we've learned it's often easier to fill our time in ways that require no thought or planning, no emotional engagement, no little pieces of our hearts and NO reminders of the people missing from our family.

And I hate it.  My spirit and my soul fiercely miss the beautiful traditions, the simple joy of keeping our focus and our hearts on Christ.

Will you pray with me?-
Pray that each heart in our family can seek ways to build new traditions.  Pray we find ways to be a blessing, to serve and to demonstrate the miraculous love that Our God showed us when he gave us-

the true gift of Jesus Christ.  

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
John 1:14

clan mac mama

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Hurting all over-

so yesterday evening, for some reason, Charles and I decided we'd have dinner at the restaurant we were headed to the day of the accident.  The one we were merely steps from when our lives irrevocably changed and our world was shattered.

That was probably stupid.

I've plowed through an incredibly emotional weekend with my "face" intact...and I capped it off by rubbing salt in a festering wound.
I've also added in a nasty flare up of my auto-immune disorder and sick kids.
Nod to the master of chaos for the crazy carnival music...

I finally had no choice but to listen to my body and my heart today-which were nearly impossible to ignore since I'm currently a crabby butthole, I'm so exhausted that breathing takes too much effort and my joints feel like they are on fire while being hammered with a thousand tiny, ultra sharp, tack nails.  Thankfully, I've managed to keep the irritation at bay and NOT take it out on my kids.
Um...Sorry, Charles.  You know I LOVE YOU.

I have plowed through this fall, with all of the chaos and destruction and uncertainty, with my "face," again, mostly intact.  I've managed to perfect walking into "my" house in Swansboro without crying every time I step in the door.  I only embarrassed myself with tears and oversharing to contractors a couple of times...(that I can remember.)  We said "see you later," to the dearest friends who walked beside us in the burning flames of life after Sam & Mercy died. I compartmentalized paralyzing fear and worry for precious family walking through tremendous trials.  And I survived the emotional minefield of -
The Nutcracker.

And today, I just needed a minute.  So, I'm taking it.  I'm going to cry, eat chocolate, watch crap tv to shut off my never resting mind and go to bed-VERY early.  And pray that when I wake tomorrow, I can slap the "face" back on.  And if I can't?  I'll just pray that there will be some hands and hearts to catch me when I fall and help carry the load with my sweet kiddos for just a bit.

I used to think my life was so exhausting when the kids were all little-For REALS, they were all under 7 when Sam was born.  And I thought cloth diapering was a GOOD idea.  (It sure saved some moo-lah, but I'm not certain Charles will ever recover from the poop sprayer attached to the toilet.)

I had no idea. 

No clue how much mental, physical and emotional energy it would take to keep going just a few years later-when the shrapnel of June 11, 2015 would shatter my world and forever alter-
every. single. minute.

So, I'm trying to learn.  To take the time I need.  Step away when it all rubs my heart too raw.  Be honest and blunt about what I can and can't do.  Speak truth when I'm hurting or need some extra love.  And accept that how I deal with the death of my kids only truly matters to the people in these 4 walls and The God who brought all of us together.
This house and this heart?-got to be judgement free.
I DO NOT need to bring outside opinions into how I walk this rutted, pitted and treacherous path.  
I DO NOT need to concern my heart with how my grief looks to anyone other than the husband I'm committed to and the children I am blessed/charged with guiding.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.  Study how he did it.  Because He never lost sight of where He was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he's there in the place of honor, right alongside God.  

Hebrews 12:2, The Message

To be truthful, I've never been a big fan of The Message translation-it's often seemed a little too "popmusic" for me. 
But this one? 
This said EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. The only "self-help" that I need in my life is to keep my heart pointed right where my children are rejoicing today.  

clan mac mama 

Monday, December 03, 2018

I WANT you to tell our story.

Did I ever want to be the cautionary tale you tell?
Not just no, but HELL NO.
IF it saves the life of just one child…
I will gladly tell it over and over again.  I will share it with you so you'll share it with others.  I will stand in front of crowds and watch as videos of our story roll across a screen.  I will endure uncomfortable questions and comply with requests to tell my story over and over again, even when I'm so emotionally exhausted I just want to die.

I'll find a way to make this new "dream" of mine, a dream I never wanted but have accepted, be that thing that every bereaved parent wants.

A purpose out of seemingly infinite pain.

because it could save the life of-
just. one. child.

We celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago at Eva's school.  Yup, you read that right.  EVA GOES TO SCHOOL.  Being the dorky and over attached former homeschooling hoverer that I am, I decided to take the invitation to attend the school Thanksgiving Day luncheon seriously and actually go.  Well, aside from the parents serving, only one other mama decided to embarrass her kid and pop in.  And she just happened to be a friend from "before." A sweet mama who graced my life in overlapping social circles.  Ones that usually involved funny mom's nights with my ridiculously entertaining pal, Misty.  We'd seen each other in passing and chatted for a few minutes here and there during school events in the last few months.  She'd gracefully reminded me of how we met and shared some laughter when I couldn't recall.  (Happens way too much now.  Grief brain is real, I promise.)
I know she was nervous as she shared that she had spent some time waiting for the right moment to tell me how my story had hit home in her life.   Today was that moment.
And I am so glad she did.  Beyond glad.  GRATEFUL. SO VERY GRATEFUL.
After she shared how much and how often she prayed for our family, she looked me right in the eyes and said-"I don't know if I should say this or if it's the right thing to tell you, but I tell your story.  I use it as a cautionary tale."
Her honesty just about took my breath away, but so did her willingness to be transparent and truthful.
The Holy Spirit convicted me through her again that day-
As much as it makes people uncomfortable to even imagine what it's like to walk in the shoes of a family who lost TWO sweet babies in one single day, it's not my job to make you comfortable.  It's my job to be a mama to all 5 of the precious children The Lord blessed me with.  And part of that job is honoring the 2 who left all too soon.  To let their deaths change nothing would shatter my heart beyond what I could bear.  The other part is raising my surviving 3 to be convicted in what it means to own your choices, own your history and to not even consider allowing the enemy to steal the life God has planned for them.

So I WILL share my story.  YOU share my story.
Don't assume it won't happen to you or your kids just because they've grown up around ATV's/UTV's or dirt bikes.  Don't assume it won't happen to them because it didn't happen to you when you were a kid.  News flash, Sherlock.  Those vehicles didn't exist when you were kids and the ones that did sure as hell didn't go 60 miles an hour.
LEARN from what happened to Mercy and Sam.

Use safety gear.
Take safety classes.
Wear the seatbelts!
Don't let an unlicensed driver operate one.
Follow the rules.
And YES, I understand that all those rules are not super fun, but neither is dealing with dead kids and the shitshow it leaves behind.

Accidents happen and people get hurt.  I get it, I really do.
You wouldn't throw your baby in the pool without teaching her how to swim right?
And you'd teach your kid to drive before taking them to get a license and operate a car?
And you'd make sure they lock all the doors when you leave them at home and know how to dial 911?

Enough said.
Share. our. story.  and ALL the stories you know that might save a life.  Trust me, it'll be worth the words, and the breath, and the time.

Thanks, Kelli.  My heart needed that.

clan mac mama

Sunday, December 02, 2018

23 years-

As Charley pointed out during our gift opening today, Charles and I have been married to each other for almost half of our lives.
Dude.  That is a LONG time.  That means I'm creeping up on FIFTY!

We literally had not one clue what being married meant when we planned that big, beautiful shindig and got all dressed up and said some I Do's 23 years ago.
And when I say not one clue, I am NOT KIDDING.
Sometimes I think we didn't figure it out until kid #5 and deployment #2.  We may have started to get a clue when #3 & 4 were incubating and hubby was deployed...
but seriously.  I don't think we really got it until our kids died.
Because that's when the proverbial "rubber hit the road."
I will NEVER forget the brutally honest conversation we had with close friends just a week after Sam and Mercy ran ahead to Jesus.
My precious friend and fellow loss mom looked right at me and told me a day would come when we'd want to walk away.  That the anger and the grief and the pain would all tie themselves around each other and the enemy would convince me that I'd be better off without him.  Or that he would be better off without me.
I wish I could tell you she was wrong.
But she wasn't.
Marriage under normal circumstances is hard, under the kind of circumstances we've walked in the last 3 1/2 years-I'm not sure there's a word that encompasses that kind of challenge.

Hanging on to your marriage through the devastation we've faced?
Walking through child loss (x2) and coming out with your marriage intact?

That's just about miraculous.
And if I want to be completely transparent, I'm not sure I really believe in miracles.
What I believe in is this-
Holy Spirit led transformation.

That is the ONLY explanation I can truly believe in.  I. KNOW. with all I am, that it is not in my own strength, or my husband's, that we are still standing.  It is the groans of the prayers that we couldn't put into words, the fragrant offering of appeals on our behalf, and the tenacity of a Heavenly Father who strengthens us to persevere when we have nothing left. 
It is an alternating yin and yang of who refuses to give up-when my reserves and my spirit have hit the bottom, Charles will pick up the pieces to push the enemy out of our home and our union.  When he is depleted, it's me who stands in the gap and finds the will to keep fighting for our family.
I promise you, there is no greater victory for evil than the destruction of a family that loves the Lord.

HA!-Guess what?
I'm a sore loser, so losing this battle is not an option.

Charles-I love you, I love all of our children and even with the pain, I really do love our life.  Do I wish it was different and ALL of our babies were celebrating with us today?  Of course I do!  I will never stop yearning for what should have been.  But while we wait for what will be-a glorious reunion at the feet of Jesus-I'll keep loving and living THIS life with you.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, 
write them on the tablet of your heart.  
Proverbs 3:3

All my love,
clan mac mama

Saturday, December 01, 2018

I promised-

and man, this is hard.
Writing every day is no joke.
And, for the love of pete, I'm ONLY ON DAY ONE.

Granted, day one of said writing challenge happened to coincide with the final day of Nutcracker chaos.  For any of you who have been alongside or been through the "Nutcracker Years..."
You TOTALLY get it.
For the rest of you, suffice it to say that it's 90 miles an hour with your hair on fire, while you're juggling flaming bottles of hairspray, glitter and hot glue, smelly costumes, multiple pairs of rancid dance shoes, crowns and crazy headpieces...
I was wearing a TOOLBELT, for crying out loud.  It might have been loaded with bobby pins, hairspray, red lipstick, safety pins, bandaids, headpieces and a headlamp, but a TOOLBELT always makes a mama feel like a rocking superhero.  
And I really needed to feel like a superhero.
Because when you spend copious amounts of mental energy feeling like you've somehow failed because you have dead kids and your living ones are heartbroken, you NEED to feel like you aren't failing sometimes.
And I didn't feel like I failed this time.
I felt...
Like maybe, just maybe, I AM a good mama.
And, Jesus knows, I NEEDED to feel that way.  I NEEDED to know that I'm doing all I can for my babies, to help them heal, help them grow and lead them-
every single day-
right back to Him.
I pray that who I am and how I love them shows them what Christlike love truly is.  What it means to set all your own crap aside and love your kids-

Christlike love was all over the place this weekend in our little world.
Precious and thoughtful gifts to remember my sweet Mercy from other mamas.
Hugs and whispered words of encouragement.
Unexpected Sammy memories shared-and, I really needed that!
The gift of friends who aren't simply friends, but family, who took the time to come out and love on my sweet girl and all of us with their presence.  

This mama is once again-
so. very. blessed.

clan mac mama

Friday, November 30, 2018

Every day-

I'm going to write something, every. single. day. 
and guess what?!-you're all going to be my accountability peeps.
You. Are. Welcome.

I needed a good laugh today...

I spend all day writing in my head.  Telling stories and storing up memories, cataloging the moments, composing the words that I want to share.
And then I forget them all.
Because I don't write them down.
And I don't take the time because the sheer weight of living with ever present grief and pain, coupled with painful circumstances that have separated us from those we love, has short-circuited so much of how I used to deal with life.  And revealed with startling clarity the flaws in how I do now.  

As I was looking for pictures recently to put in frames for the past 3 Christmases, I was shocked at how few pictures I take now.  How often I let the moments slip by, because taking pictures that don't have all of my people in them sometimes feel like a betrayal.  It takes a tremendous amount of emotional effort to keep myself together, so the fluff of life tends to get overlooked.  A LOT.

Last night, when Eva and I rolled in from performance #1 of Nutcracker weekend, the freight train of emotions that I've held (mostly) in check through the last few months slammed into my heart and spirit.  As I watched Eva dance in her first queen role in 8 years of Nutcracker seasons, the pain of knowing I'd never see Mercy do the same or watch Sammy's eyes light up watching them both took my breath away. And all over again, I'm on my proverbial knees trying desperately to catch my breath and not literally die from grief.
Eva's Lead Maid too-and this year, Mercy would have been just the right age to play Clara.  Maybe they would have been on that stage together. No-I know they would have.  Because Mercy would have been the perfect Clara.  Bright and beautiful, graceful and elegant, eyes filled with wonder and joy.  She probably would have convinced her brothers to get on that stage with her.  Maybe even Charley, although that would have been a miracle in and of itself.

My Eva should be dancing with her sister, dazzling with their bright smiles and sweet sister love.  

Yesterday, as we drove to Nutcracker, both a little dreary from hurting hearts, we started listening to music for Eva's solo this year.  Every year since Mercy and Sam left us, Eva has poured her heart into dancing for them at recital.  Some years it's flawless, other years it's painful and stilted as she tries to dance through the weight of grief and teenage angst.  But-it takes my breath away, every. single. time.  She doesn't speak her grief the way I do.  She dances it.  She processes it through music that touches her spirit and speaks for the holes in her soul.  And she always surprises me with the depth of her thoughts and how she remembers them.

My life is hard.  and painful and exhausting.
it's also SO. VERY. BLESSED.

And NO-not, #blessed because I just got a free coffee or my outfit is just right.
Blessed because I am a child of God, a God who loves and cares for each member of my family by using the Holy Spirit to speak love, grace and fellowship into our lives through others.
Blessed by the family and friends, fellow bereaved parents, and even complete strangers who seek to find ways to love on us.
Blessed by my steady as a rock husband and my incredible children.
Blessed by the abundance of "gifts" He continues to give, even when I doubt, when I'm angry and when I push Him away.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 
James 1:17 

clan mac mama

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mean girls-

always suck.
I am FORTY-SEVEN years old.  You'd think the mean girls days would be oh-so-far behind in my rearview mirror.  Seriously.
And yet, apparently, they aren't.
In a few recent social situations, I've found myself to be the target of some behind the back whispering and some very clear "turn the back" snubbing.

Adding a bit more salt to the wound...
my daughter, the one who would literally lay herself down in front of an oncoming train to save another soul, has been the intended target of some teenage nastiness specifically intended to hurt.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Hold on-  I almost forgot to mention the intentional hurt that was shoved into my face for the second year in a row on my birthday.

WHO does that?
And WHY?

Does it make you feel better about yourself to spew nastiness and gossip?
Is your heart "healed" when you hurt others?
What hole are you trying to fill when you intentionally exclude someone or say things to tear them down?

Did you ever stop, for just one moment, to ask yourself if the target of your spite might need grace, or a smile or just a kind word?  Did you take just one minute to think, to REALLY think, about whatever perceived slight caused you to react the way you did and maybe consider offering a moment of mercy?  Do you understand that the person you are hurting may be hurting enough already?

Of course not.  Because if you did, you wouldn't be a mean girl.
You wouldn't spend your time finding ways to intentionally inflict your ill will AND spread it around like a nasty fungus.

I may be a lot of things that aren't easy to handle.
Angry, sad, impatient, and quite frankly, extremely emotional.
Impulsive at times and often, incredibly forgetful.
But one thing I AM NOT-
intentionally mean.  Ever.
If anything, I am overly sympathetic/empathetic, too quick to find the good when sometimes I need to be aware that there isn't good to be found.  I'm a bleeding heart for the underdog and always willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
NEVER, EVER, am I intentionally mean or hurtful.  And for my daughter and myself to be the target of someone else's nastiness?  It just makes my blood boil.

But, at the end of the day, the only thing I can do is slap a smile on it, be graceful and know that at the core of the need to hurt others is the brokenness in the heart of the one who inflicts the hurt.

So, pay attention, mean girls.  I'm gonna slap a smile on it when I see you, I'm going to pray for your hearts and the hurt that lives in them.  And I'm going to rest in the fact that YOU and YOUR ugliness don't define me or my daughter in any way, shape or form.
Christ defines me.
He defines my daughter.
And He is my strength, my shield and my armor.  

You can take your nasty and shove it where the sun don't shine.

clan mac mama