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

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