Sunday, March 18, 2018

24 hours in the life of this grieving mama-

6:45-open my eyes, realize I'd rather be asleep than get out of the cozy, warm place that often provides the only true respite from the reality of dead children.
7:15-realize that if I don't get my ass out of bed, my day will shot before it begins, so I throw my workout clothes on and head to the rec room.  Where there are the last sets of "school" pictures I framed and the kids handprints hanging on the wall, staring at me.  I face the doors and try to keep up with my workout without looking at that picture/handprint wall, because today, like almost every other day, it takes my breath away and reminds me of the desperately deep and jagged hole where the lives of 2 of my children used to be.  Unfortunately, facing the doors includes facing the red chair where Mercy used to sit and bounce around like a ping pong ball while I tried to read to her.  It's got the microscope sitting behind it that she'd also spread all over the place and try to examine whatever she could get her hands on.  It also means staring at the bins of art supplies that lined my school room in the old house and caused me hours of aggravation when they'd empty them, but also filled days with so much creativity and joy.
But if I face the other direction, I have to stare at the wall of toys that never gets played with anymore, the basket of puppets that lay untouched, the My Little Pony bin that only makes an appearance when Lyla comes over. The trains that Max now builds alone.
7:45-awareness that Eva isn't up pokes into my consciousness, so the internal debate over whether to wake her or let her sleep starts to rage.  Did she have nightmares again and that's why she didn't get up to her alarm?  Was she tossing and turning, trying to rest but unable to find that place of respite?  Did she get up in the middle of the night and turn on all the lights again to keep out the fear?  Do I have the energy to deal with her tears if she wakes up engulfed in them?
8:00-I poke the bear and the tears start.  I can't help it, I'm less than understanding and my weariness translates into irritation.  I've NEVER been a morning person and the challenges of mornings since "the accident" can sometimes feel like scaling Mt. Everest.  (And I'm stuck on the damn climb-unable to EVER just take a damn minute.)
She has a headache, so I try ibuprofen and a big glass of water.
Nope.  Not helping.
More tears.
Ok, let's try a shower.
By this time, I'm pissy because Charley and Max are messing around and I seem to have SO little patience any more for things that don't go according to plan.
It's a control issue.  Duh.  I've always been a control freak and when your kids die because of circumstances beyond your control and then you live the aftermath of more circumstances beyond your control, that deep fear and need to just control SOMETHING, ANYTHING, takes over and turns you into harping, nitpicking, buzz-kill of a mother.
9:10-still too much messing around and now I'm REALLY mad.  The standard lecture ensues, which sends Eva completely over the edge.  To which I respond with ZERO compassion.  (Yup, super proud mom moment here.  It's fan-freaking-tastic when your meter is so pegged that you can't even find a shred of peace to bless your child with.)
9:15-Eva sits down to eat her breakfast and all of a sudden, the wailing is beyond anything I've heard from her, in a really long time, maybe ever.  She shut the door on her emotions a long time ago and it shocks me now when it creeps out.
Her pain finally breaks through my wall and my heart is breaking because hers is too.  ALL OVER AGAIN.  Like it does a thousand times a day.
"What-love, what's the matter?"
Through her sobs, she stutters-"Max always gives me a hug when I don't feel good, just like Mercy did.  And I just want her to hug me, Mommy.  I just want her to hug me."
And I have not a word that I can utter that can change that pain, take it away or even make it better.  So I just do what I always do now-I tell her "I'm so sorry, baby.  I'm so very sorry, I wish I'd never sent you, I should have kept you all with me. I'm sorry, I'm just so sorry.  I miss her too, I miss her buttoning my sweater and playing with my hair.  Smearing too much butter on her toast and stealing my candy.  I miss seeing her smile and hearing her laugh. I'm sorry, love, I'm SO, SO, SO sorry."
9:25-convo with my husband, during which I'm reduced to a weeping mess, probably not making a lick of sense other than to just keep repeating that I'm just so very tired.
On. every. level.
9:40-by this time, I've got a headache and I just want to hide in my closet and cry. I open my door and leave my room to find my son on the living room floor surrounded by dinosaurs and trash packs.  Lining them up, building a safe space where his mind creates a world that still has his twin and best friend/brother living in it.  Last week it was his car mat and matchbox cars that were favorites with Sammy, this week it'll be trash packs and dinosaurs.  So-every. single. time. I walk into the living room, which I do at least 50 times a day, that sight will sucker punch me in the gut and take my breath away.
10:00-I'm trying to rescue the morning, so I park Max at the counter to start on math and I try to put on my crockpot dinner.  Phone rings-it's my sister.  She can tell the moment I answer that I'm a mess. And I am.
Can't hardly talk without sobbing, make zero sense, pour out every fear, frustration, and all the pain filled pieces of grief that have been building since I mostly stuff them now.  Because I'm supposed to stuff them and wear that mask that makes everyone comfortable.  You know, the one that says I'm thankful to still have 3 children.  I'm blessed to have a home.  The one that says I'm finding purpose in the pain and the silver lining in the deaths of TWO of my kids.  Joy, the finding joy in Jesus mask.
I am NOT finding joy in much of anything.  I'm freaking pissed that this is our life and I'm so mentally exhausted that it takes every ounce of my energy to find the brainpower to make dinner.
10:45-finally wipe my face off enough to throw crap in a crockpot and hope it's edible.
11:30-guess I should shower.  Maybe it will give me a minute to breath and whisper a prayer that I can get through this day.
12:15-check on lunch for kids.  Am reminded by the smaller pot and less boxes of mac and cheese that there are less little people to feed.  Then I throw away the extra food in the fridge that I can't seem to stop buying and that just expires because there are aren't enough of us to eat it all.  Last week I cooked enough food in 3 days to last us 10 because my default setting just kicked in and big clan mama took over in the kitchen.
That sucks.  Because when I have to put it all in the fridge, it's yet another reminder of who I don't have to feed.
1:00-I field an inquiry from Charley about what we're wearing for Easter, followed by request to have an outfit just like the ones in our very last family picture.  Sucker punch to gut.  I used to get such joy from finding just the right things to showcase the personality and style of each of my neat little people.  I'd spend hours scouring racks for my picky Charley bean, going store to store to find edgy little "men" clothing for Max and Sammy and searching high and low for matching dresses for Eva and Mercy.
Not so much anymore.
Or really at all.
I HATE shopping for any of us anymore.  We're all SO different and holidays, honestly, they suck.
1:45-Max is starting to check out and desperately wants to lose himself in "trash pack" land, so I give him and Charley a break and decide to try and do paperwork/bit of office stuff.  Receive text from my brother about our family visit for Charles' retirement in July.  Start to stress because worry goes into overdrive and I think he's going to tell me he can't come.  Which I can't handle.  Period.  Charles' retirement is scary, it's bittersweet and it's not what we had planned for this stage in our life.  So I need all my people here to stand beside us and celebrate all that my husband accomplished as he served our country.  Because this part of our life looks so different than it should and it's a hard pill to swallow.
2:15-Worry unnecessary, but my heart is still racing and my anxiety is up as I start realizing for the thousandth time that I have no idea how we're going to make it through that day without all of our children by our sides.
2:30-check email looking for estimate from handyman.  Who is at least the 6th person I have talked to as we try to make minor updates to the Island house so we can sell it in a few months.  Stress level peaks as I realize it's STILL not here and I have run out of ideas for finding someone to do this damn work.  I don't want to deal with this.  I don't want to move.  Just going into the storage shed filled with their stuff sometimes starts a spiral I can't get out of of, what on earth will it be like to be constantly surrounded by boxes and boxes of tangible things they touched, wore, played with and lived in?
2:45-Charley starts waxing poetic about moving back "home."  At which point, I not so gracefully respond that it's not a done deal.  And her face falls and she shuffles off to the dining room to do her schoolwork.  So I plod behind her and give her a hug and tell her I'm so sorry-that I shouldn't respond that way.  Just that her dad and I are still praying through so much and the decision about where to live is a big one that we can't just rush into.  And there's so much more to the decision than just where to live.
2:50-the internal war over where to live peaks for the day.  Even though I want to go home in a part of my heart, the other part just can't settle with what it will be like to move back into the home we built for the family we no longer have all of.  What will it be like to wake up every day without Sammy's big brown eyes staring at me from the side of my bed?  How bad will it suck to know that I'll open the door to my room to grab a glass of water before bed and I WON'T see Mercy curled up on the floor just outside my room?  How will it feel to look out and see only 2 kids playing on the swings instead of 4 or 5 hanging from every surface?  HOW will Charley, Max and Eva feel when it hits them that moving home isn't going to fix the holes in their hearts and souls?
3:30-I'm ready for bed.
And it's seriously not even dinner time.
4:00-hop on Facebook for a minute to check an event time and get assaulted by suggested event for Mother/daughter pampering day.  Don't have a little lady who loves to be pampered anymore.  Which makes me cry again. And mad.  MAD.
Mad enough to spit nails.
5:00-load Charley up for Lacrosse practice and head off to Newport.  Spend most of the drive thinking about how desperately I don't want to deal with all the crap falling down around us right now.  How I don't want to face this decision about where to live, what Charles should do, what I should do, where our kids should go to school, whether or not we should switch churches because every time I walk in ours, I flash back to the day we filled the FLC with people to "celebrate" the lives of 2 children that ended too soon and in such a disgusting and violent way.
5:30-Drop Charley off and am flooded with guilt that I'm not staying to watch.  But I can't do people today and I just need to go home.
6:00-Call Mom and rehash all the stuff that never seems to change and the frustration I slog through constantly.  Living in the shadow of grief may change, but it doesn't get any easier.  Every day that passes is another day further from the moment I last hugged my children, heard their voices, smelled their sweetness and waved as they pulled out of my driveway for the last time.  Vent that I wish people would stop looking at us moving back home as some kind of exciting life event.
Maybe it will help our hearts and maybe it will make me even madder.  And the rub is that we won't know until we're in it.  There's no crystal ball or burning bush to tell us what to do.  It's simply a leap of faith.  And leaps of faith for people who leapt into a new chapter in faith only to have the worst possible outcome aren't just leaps of faith.  They are momentous launches into a deep, dark chasm that feels bottomless and bleak.
6:45-finally head inside to eat dinner and find my husband and son reading at the counter.  Find my heart filled with gratitude for the wonder of hearing my son read.  Something I wasn't completely sure would ever come to pass. And gratitude for the incredibly giving and selfless people who have come alongside us in that journey.  It's not just a little boy learning to read, it's an anxiety ridden, twinless, brotherless and traumatized little boy overcoming more emotional and mental obstacles in his short little life than most people do in a lifetime.
Gratitude in that moment to provide respite in a day that feels like a thousand heavy bricks crushing my soul.
7:15-hiding in my office.  crap tv.
I simply can't think for one more minute today.  I need to check my brain out and zone out and find a little quiet in this brain that never stops.
8:15 move to room to hide.  take bath and eat popcorn.  more crap tv.  Snuggle goodnight to my little man.
9:15 crap tv has lost it's luster and I read.  Read other broken mama ramblings and pray, with every ounce of my soul that tomorrow will be a little lighter, a little easier, a little quieter.
But I know it won't.  Because at the end of the day, this is my life.  It may look a little different each day, but at at the end of the day-
this. is. my. life.
And every day that I wake up will be another one that doesn't include Mercy and Sam.
So I pray, when I can, that something will give.  Something will change.
I'll keep trying to deal with the alligator closest to the boat, do the next thing and not give up.  Even when, most of the time, it's what I most desperately want to do.
Grief is not self-pity.  
It's not whining. 
It's not being stuck.  
It's the manifestation of a love so deep and so wide and so full that it's all encompassing to wade through life without the physical manifestation of that love.  
Changing, ebbing, flowing and crashing over our life interrupted.    
10:45-close my eyes and pray that the night brings the peace that eludes the day.

I'm not sure when we ALL started to hide behind a mask because it became easier to stop talking about it and being honest than it was to be raw and true to the pain.  When did it become "easier" to shut things out than hear that AGAIN "God has a plan," "God is sovereign," and "God will work all this together for my good and His glory," one more time?  It is so easy to say that when you haven't held the body of your lifeless children, running your hands through their hair while you try not to let the smell of the embalming fluid be what you remember.
So easy.
You may not want to hear this and you may not agree-but I will never believe that the God who loves us, created us in His image and walks beside us in every part of our days would PLAN for my children to die so violently in a field, PLAN for my surviving children to be forever scarred, PLAN for my daughters to blame themselves.
PLAN for us to spend our lives wondering why we didn't get a miracle.
What do I believe?  I have to ask myself that over and over again, and I'm waiting, still waiting for that answer to settle in my soul.
The only thing I know for certain is that The Father, The Lord, The Giver of all good and beautiful things, gave these children to Charles and me.  So I will love them, cherish them, find patience and grace when none remains, and never give up on finding my way out of this fight I'm in for my very soul.
Truthfully, I know one other thing for certain.  I simply cannot censor myself or what this looks like for my family anymore.  I know it's hard to see us cry, painful to hear our sorrow, heartbreaking to watch any of us fall apart, frustrating to not know what to say or do, and exhausting to listen to us over and over again, I know that. 
But the mask is too heavy and painful to wear, so we won't be wearing it anymore.

as always,
clan mac mama

Monday, February 05, 2018


I’m going home tomorrow.

967 days have passed since I walked out that garage door-utterly shell-shocked and devastated by Sam’s senseless and heinous death and praying with every ounce of faith I had for Mercy’s precious life to be spared.

And yet it wasn’t.  

Tomorrow, my husband and I will step through the door of our family home together, for the first time since we left to start picking up the pieces of the mess we were handed.

Such. A. Mess. 

To that end-I don’t write much anymore, because most of what I want to say right now wouldn’t inspire a single ounce of faith in even the most Jesus infused soul.  967 days out and I’m wrestling even more heavily now with questions I’ll never know the answer to this side of Heaven.  Questions that I know I won't get an answer to, yet I simply have to let them run through my soul and out into that black pit of doubt.  Because that's what grief looks like.  

And I’m just so very tired.  To the very core of my heart, my soul, and my inmost being.
It’s a mind-numbing mental exhaustion that I simply can’t seem to shake. My words don’t come easily, just living everyday life often feels so painful and awkward.   Relationships are strained and my faith feels distended and splintered.

Life hasn’t stopped for us.  We don’t “get a break” because our lives imploded when our kids died.  We’ve had to figure out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other in a world that often has little patience for extended grief or stories that don’t end with a quick redemption.
And ours doesn't feel like a redemption story.  I can’t and I WON’T try to find a silver lining buried in the tragic deaths of my children. In my heart, I believe that someday I can find purpose and a measure of joy, but for now we’re surviving.  

And taking the next step.

Tomorrow that next step is figuring out if we can live, every day, in the home we built for all of us with just some of us.
And after that, it’s finding out what life without the Marine Corps means for a family that started there, grew there and for some-
ended there.

So tonight I beg for your prayers, my friends.  We need some vigorous ones in the days to come.  We are in desperate need of an undergirding of the Holy Spirit, an infusion of divine strength into our souls and a potent dose of the fire of faith to carry us into an uncertain future.

Tonight my heart is anxious, but it's also certain of something that Cassie reminded me of today.

Walking in that house can’t ever be worse than surviving the last 967 days without Sam and Mercy.  So we’ll make it.  It’ll probably completely suck, but we’ll survive.  

And take the next step.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes."
                                                  Isaiah 54:2   

Perhaps the widening of my tent is willfully choosing to pull back the curtains of doubt, fear and isolation.  It's facing the malevolent whispers of the enemy and declaring them powerless to rob my house of the strength we can only EVER find in The Lord.  
Will you pray that for us tonight? 
And for every family facing an uncertain future?
Those facing a future without all of the ones that make them whole? 

Thank you from the depths of our souls-
Prayers are our balm of Gilead and we are ever so grateful for each one offered to the Father on our behalf.  

with love always, 
clan mac mama


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Wishing you were here, my precious girl...

I wish I had some eloquent words to frame this day, but mostly we're just trying to find the smiles to celebrate our sweet boy and remember our smiling beauty, Mercy. 
It's rough around here without you, Mercy.  We laugh a whole lot less and hugs are so much harder to come by.  You were truly the glitter glue that stuck all of us together, melded our hearts in tighter and lightened so many of our moments.  The best little surprises I find are the selfie videos you constantly made on my phone/computer/ipad-for just a minute I get to hear your sweet voice, see your kookie smile and listen to one of your silly rants.  You seem so alive and I can almost reach out and touch you...
Our world was forever changed the minute you slipped into this world and into our family.  Your heart for your siblings, especially your twin, was as deep and wide and full as the greatest ocean.  You filled our days and nights with crazy plans and silly dreams, dress up days and movie nights, box forts and icy water slides, barbie castles and ninja battles, candy sneaking and make-up madness....
Our ears were blessed by your melodic little voice lilting in a lullaby, singing a song of praise of our God, who you adored and worshipped-
Mercy-I'm sorry my words are failing your memory today.  Our hearts hurt so desperately and we love and miss you so very much.  I pray that your sweet twin will have his heart filled with your love and presence today, reminding him of just how much you adored him.  Whisper a special prayer to Jesus for all of us today, sweet girl.  And give Sammy the biggest hug and pretend we're all in it together.  I long for the day when we're reunited in Christ, baby girl.  Until then, we'll do our best to honor you, to honor Sammy and to spread your love and light wherever we go.  
Mama loves you-
Happy 9th Birthday Mercy and Max-

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Alice's bottle of grief...

Imagine a little bottle sitting just in front of me.  And before you can ask, ponder, question or inquire anything of me, you have to drink it.
And in that bottle is what sits inside my heart and soul- every second, of every day.
As it pours down your throat, you gag.  The bile rises and it burns, relentlessly firing inside your throat.
Every instinct in your body is forcing it out.
But you can't.
Once you drink it, you can't go back.  It sits there, spreading and seeping, invading every layer, pore, fiber, vessel and crevice of who you are.
It chokes you, suffocates you, blankets you.  With feelings that don't even have words that can capture the layers and depth of your heart-wound.

When you're wounded by the potion in the bottle, words and opinions are like arrows, sharpened and pointed into razored barbs that embed in the jagged and bloody flesh you have left hanging off of your broken and battered body.

Descends in a shroud, hovering and covering all that your senses take in. Distortion is inevitable, the funhouse mirror is all that you see.  Reality feels surreal and who you are simply doesn't make any sense. 
All of a sudden, you were too big for your life.   Your head hit every corner and your mere presence made chaos of all that was around you.
Then just as quickly, you were too small, so small that you not one single thing fit anymore.  Everything was just wrong.  All WRONG.

When you drank the potion, you started falling. And it felt like you fell forever, the black bottomless pit swallowing you whole.
And then you hit the bottom.  So hard.
Then standing back up took every ounce of what little you had left.  

But you have to stand up over and over and over again. 
And you're just so tired.
So when you stand up over and over and over again, it's all you can do.
Literally.  All you can do.

And it's still all I can do. 

And it's all my husband can do.
And my children.
When nightmares and loneliness, confusion and anger, fear and failure, when they walk in your steps and at your side...
sometimes standing up is more than we can do.

We are loved.  
We are blessed. 
We are thankful. 
And we are so broken.

Please don't splatter me with "Jackson Pollock" scripture or platitudes you think might ease the sting. Don't use my tragedy to tell other people to hug their loved ones tighter.  Because you have NO IDEA how tightly I hugged those babies before they left me for the last time.  Please don't place your timeline of healing on my shredded soul.  
And for the love of all that is holy, don't tell me my children are in a better place.

Just tell us you'll keep praying.
Lift us to the throne of the only One who can lift us out of the hole.
Share your memories if you have them.
Plant a flower in their garden.
Don't give up on us.

Just know that every day, every minute, every second...
standing up is mostly all we can do.  

And when it's time and when we can, maybe we'll stand straighter.
And take a few steps.
We'll wobble and stumble, most likely we'll fall.
But we'll get back up.
When we can.

It's not easy to walk beside us on this broken and pitted road.  Switchbacks and cliffs are lurking in every moment, around every corner.  We're like that box of chocolates in Forrest Gump-"you never know what you're gonna get..."
You will get tired and fall off.  Our shrapnel will become too much and your patience will wear thin.  Because you want us to be better.  Because you love us.  Because we fail to be whole again.
And that's awkward.  And sad.  And shitty and uncomfortable.

You want the gal who thought "asshat" was entirely appropriate in the right circumstance.  The loose lipped chick whose favorite adjective was "craptastic."  You want the redemption and the good.


But it's not my story to write and I don't get to pick the timing.  And I don't get to decide what the redemption and the good is.

What I do get to do is be me.
See through.
Broken and battle scarred.  

I get to be me. 
I'm trying to do it gracefully and I'm probably failing in epic proportions, but I'm not giving up.

A sweet friend asked me the other day if I share my testimony...
I didn't really know how to answer her.  Because I can't tell you, with any amount of the eloquence you'd expect, what my testimony is.
Maybe it's as simple as this.
God doesn't leave you.  Even when you try to make Him.  When you put up the wall, erect the barrier, close the door and deadbolt it shut.

And what I can tell you is that I refuse to give up. 
Bitterness is my constant companion and I DESPISE the words FAIR and HEALING.  (And for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT tell me everything happens for a reason.)

I don't know what that looks like or how it's going to play out, but I'm hanging on.  By a thread.

Don't for one second think that because I figured out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, we are A-OK.

We ain't.

You can pray for the nightmares to stop.
For sleep to come with peace and stillness.
You can pray for our hearts to thaw and our family to find our center.
You can pray for your own hearts and souls to be moved with that same earth shattering awareness of His goodness and presence that invaded you in the weeks and months after the accident.
You can HONOR God with remembering that You are SECOND. 

Me? I can pray for you.  For me. For my husband and children.  My whole family.
For every soul in this world to realize that it's not about them.
Charles said this to me today when we stared off into the endless horizon of the ocean-
"He's not coming back until we stop believing WE are what matters."  

Above all else, love one another as I have loved you.
With an everlasting love...
That type of love means WE don't matter.  
HE does.  

His pillar of fire in my heart and the hearts of my family-I pray for that pillar of fire to burn away the barriers and the bitterness.
I pray for the LOVE  to be the center of it all.


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