Memorial Stones

6Jul2017 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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In the Old Testament of the Bible, people were encouraged to make memorials at places where God did miraculous things. Often, these were made of stone and meant to be permanent reminders for future generations of what God had done in that place.

I think we are wise to create similar memorials in our own lives, whether tangible markers or written words, spoken tales or photographs. It is good to go back to places we have been and say, “This is my story. This is what God did for me. Let me talk about this, so that we never lose our sense of awe and wonder over the amazing things God has seen us through.”

July 6th is a memorial stone for our family because one year ago today, I almost lost my oldest son Zach. He was in a serious motorcycle accident in Melbourne, Florida. He lost control and hit the corner of a house–with his head. If he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, he’d have died on impact. We later found out that the first responders were told to prepare the scene for an investigation. I don’t remember the exact terminology my EMT friend gave me, but it was something used only when they expect a fatality.

We’re wrapping up another Florida vacation now. I made sure that we took a detour around Melbourne. I have no desire to ever revisit that stretch of highway that I sat on for hours, stuck in traffic, trying to get to my injured son, my husband and other kids who had all been visiting a relative when the accident happened. I don’t ever want to go to Melbourne again.

I don’t need to rehash how horrifying it was to see my son unconscious, blood-soaked and intubated. What it was like tag-teaming at the hospital so far from home, and seeing your child struggle so hard to regain what he lost. It’s been a long, hard year in many ways. I’m not going to go into all of that, either.

What I will do, though, is focus on the awe and wonder of God sparing my son. Life is so dang fragile, so short. Yesterday, a man was lost at sea, almost directly in front of our resort. A friend’s husband died of a massive heart attack yesterday, too. They all woke up yesterday thinking it would be a normal day. Just like I woke up July 6th, 2016 expecting a normal day on vacation. We just never know what the next minute holds. This moment–this one–it’s all we have.

I think about how different all my moments would’ve been if we’d lost Zach a year ago. It’s really unimaginable, though I see it in the lives of those around me who are trying to find a new normal with a huge piece of their hearts now gone. I’m so grateful that isn’t me, not now, not today. I feel absolutely terrible for saying that, but I know how it feels to come so close. None of us deserve the blessing of being spared that pain.

All we can do now is say thanks to God by the way we live our lives, living the remainder of our days through Him and for Him.

For if there is one thing I can say about my God, He is a good, good Father.

Finding Neverland

17May2017 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
Christine Dwyer as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and Billy Harrigan Tighe as JM Barrie in Finding Neverland Credit Jeremy Daniel IMG_3083

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s never really a bad night at Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre.

(Except for Evita…which would’ve been awful anywhere!)

We went to see Finding Neverland tonight, and I have to confess: it wasn’t my favorite play. But I really think that’s entirely MY fault, for not doing my homework.

I didn’t know anything about the story itself. I never saw the movie, didn’t read up on it before accepting the tickets, and didn’t know what to expect. I think I was expecting something like a fun trip through Disney’s Peter Pan ride, not a really long story about author J.M. Barrie and the life events that led to the famous tale of Peter Pan.

It was a sweet story, to be sure. The singing was lovely and there were lots of hilarious jokes. The glittery confetti scene pictured below was gorgeous. As a writer, I related to the theme of trying to recapture the playfulness of youth to add new life to your work. But that’s where my sense of connection ended. I didn’t feel moved through any of the more emotional parts of the story. I mean, you should feel something during a scene where a child is mourning the loss of his parent. But the play never did a great job of connecting with my emotions (which could possibly be attributed to the overabundance of drama in my own life lately). It just felt like it all went on a lot longer than it needed to.

Christine Dwyer as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in Finding Neverland Credit Jeremy Daniel _IMG_4741

My 15-year-old son disagrees with my review. I thought he might have gotten bored, but he said he loved it! Maybe because he’d seen the movie, and knew what to expect, he was able to enjoy it more?

Don’t get me wrong–it’s not a bad play, at all. I don’t regret going (unlike Evita…LOL) although I think seeing it one time is enough for me.

It’s playing here in Atlanta, for seven more shows through Sunday. If you like a love story, with a lot of laughs and a whole lotta singing, you’ll enjoy yourself, I’m sure. The rest of the audience seemed really into it.

 

 

 

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The Truth About Chronic Illness

3May2017 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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A friend announced on social media this week that she has cancer.

She prefaced her post by saying “I’m not sharing this for pity or sympathy, but to ask for prayer.”

It bothered me that she even had to include that disclaimer. Have we become so insensitive to the sufferings of others that we’d assume a person is sharing a cancer diagnosis just to receive pity?

Sadly, I think we make wrong assumptions about one another far too often these days. As someone suffering for over 10 years with one of the “invisible” diseases –lupus (and its sidekick, subglottic stenosis)– I can attest: most people aren’t very concerned about what you’re going through. And even sadder? This is true both inside and outside the church. And in my opinion, it just shouldn’t be this way.

I have another friend who recently underwent a major surgery. I’ll spare the details to protect her privacy, but she also posted recently on social media about people judging her for everything she is/is not doing during this season of recovery.

Stuff like that just makes me so mad!

The beauty of being almost 50 is that your love for honesty begins to trump your concerns over what people think about you. So, I’m just going to throw this out there, and you can take it or leave it or unfollow me or whatever:

People who are hurting and scared and sick all the time want to complain 1000x more than they actually do.

So when they DO say something…when they do ask for prayer…just send a little encouragement back. Pray for them. Let them know you’re praying. Ask how you can help and then if you’re able, show up.

Don’t judge what you do or do not see them doing.

I get this all the time, having lupus. All. The. Time! I have to back out of a commitment on a Tuesday and I get judged because they see me posting a picture of something I did a day or two later. They’re all, “Well, apparently she isn’t that bad off because she was able to do X-Y-Z on Thursday…Hmpf!”

The truth is that Thursday’s commitment happened because I got lucky on Thursday and woke up feeling like I could handle it. And maybe I woke up feeling stronger on Thursday only because I honored my body’s need for rest on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Think about how difficult it would be to balance all the demands of motherhood, a career, and a social life when nearly every day feels like the first day you’re coming down with the flu. That’s often what lupus feels like. Does that help you understand why some activities just cannot be accomplished?

If you knew what this deep-bone, never-ending pain is like, or how it is exacerbated by simple things like going grocery shopping…if you knew how utterly exhausting even the most simple things can be…maybe you’d understand that my erring in saying “yes” to too much, too often, is just me trying to regain some sense of life as it used to be, when I actually could do all the things I wanted to?

Maybe you didn’t know me when all this began, when my husband was deployed for a year and I worked full-time and raised two little boys by myself? Maybe you didn’t know me when I was the one who always showed up, who served on every committee, who led bible studies, who volunteered to clean and set up and break down, who would always babysit and cook for those who couldn’t. Maybe you weren’t around me when my house was (mostly) clean and uncluttered and I still had the energy to go for long walks after work.

I still am that person inside. But now I’m stuck in a body that too often says, “Sit your fat butt down…we’re not doing any of that…or anything at all.”

So, now, scheduling things is always a gamble. I might feel great when that day rolls around on the calendar. Or I might be like I am today, aching all over and regretting the anti-inflammatory painkiller I took even though I knew it would set my stomach aflame…because in the moment, dulling the other pain felt worth the trade-off.

I can have one bad day and then, not another one for months. Or I can muddle my way through months in a row of feeling like poo. And I never know what it’s going to be. But I can’t stop scheduling stuff, or trying to say “yes” to things because if I stop, that means I’m letting lupus win, and I absolutely refuse to let it.

The same is true, I’m sure, for my friend with cancer and the one recovering from surgery. They don’t have health-related crystal balls, either. But they’re also mentally determined to keep life as vibrant and active as ever.

So if you care about them –particularly if you call yourself a Christian– they should not feel like they have to apologize for being vulnerable, asking for prayer, or asking for help. Because I can promise you –there are dozens of other fears, worries, pains and concerns that they are keeping to themselves. And the more people respond negatively to them, the less they will open up.

And the less they share, the heavier the burden they carry alone.

Please don’t be the one who makes them do that. God never meant for us to do that to one another.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”-Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

21 Ways to Live Out Your Faith in 2017

2Jan2017 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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I’m really not a fan of New Year resolutions. I’m kind of more of a U2 kinda girl: nothing really changes on New Year’s Day.

Still…the world sees January as a clean slate, so why not make it a time to embrace new things? I just know, that for me, unless I seek God’s help, I can’t keep a promise to myself for anything.

So. This morning, one of our church elders gave the word during the service, and he basically read us several passages about what it means to be a real Christian. These verses from Romans 12 really stuck out to me as good things to work toward in 2017.

Note that it’s all from Romans 12: 9-21, in case you want to read it in a different translation. I’m sharing from The Message, because I sometimes prefer the way it sounds. I also separated some verses into two bullet points because I think they each deserve their own emphasis.

So with that disclaimer, here’s a list of 21 ways to be a genuine Christian this year:

  1. Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.
  2. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.
  3. Be good friends who love deeply.
  4. Practice playing second fiddle.
  5. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
  6. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.
  7. Don’t quit in hard times. Pray all the harder.
  8. Help needy Christians.
  9. Be inventive in hospitality.
  10. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.
  11. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.
  12. Get along with each other.
  13. Don’t be stuck-up.
  14. Make friends with nobodies.
  15. Don’t be the “great somebody.”
  16. Don’t hit back.
  17. Discover beauty in everyone.
  18. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.
  19. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
  20. If you see your enemy hungry, buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.
  21. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Love from Eli, Carrie Fisher

27Dec2016 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

As the Mom of a houseful of Star Wars fans, I was sad to hear that Carrie Fisher died today.

I know the Internet will be saturated with tributes to her, but I wanted to share our story, too. It meant a lot to me that she and her brother took the time to make a little boy smile.

When Eli was six, he had a major crush on Princess Leia. She was definitely his first love. He wanted to tell her how much he loved her, so I suggested writing her a letter.

He couldn’t write much at six, so we wrote it together. He drew a picture, and I went online to find an address to send it all to.

Trouble was, I couldn’t find an address that I could verify as an official place to send fan mail. I did, however, manage to find an email address for her brother, Todd. So I figured, what the heck? Contact him and see what happens.

I just spent an hour digging through my computer to see if I’d saved those emails between me and Todd or if I took a picture of Eli’s letter. Sadly, I couldn’t find either.

I remember that I started off by apologizing for bothering him, but my little guy just really, really wanted Carrie to know how much he loved her and I was wondering if he could tell me the proper address to mail his letter. Todd Fisher wrote me back the nicest email ever and said to mail it directly to him, and he’d make sure she got it.

So, I did. And a few weeks later, this is what we got back:

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“Love to Eli, Carrie Fisher.”

I *love* that they printed a pic of the Lego Princess Leia! (I’d been trying to figure out how to explain to him that she was older than me, and no longer looked like the young girl he adored. And Lego ranked about one hairs’ width below Carrie on the list of things Eli loved.)

He was so, SO happy. (And good heavens, was he cute at six or what???)

I can’t even imagine the amount of fan mail someone like her received, although it did seem that there was a lull in her career around that time. I can’t be the only annoying fan who bypassed channels to get a message to her. But the fact that they responded, so kindly, showed what a class act she was. Especially when you read about her struggles with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. I, and the majority of people I’m related to, have battled various mental health problems, so the fact that she managed to do so much is impressive to me.

I love what she said about her mental illness a dozen or so years ago, because I also can’t imagine making it through anything hard without a keeping a good sense of humor:

“I find it unappealing, but there is a part of this illness that is funny. I don’t understand the stigma. I understand funny. It is what I do. Because I have the sense of humor I have, things don’t prey on me long. And that’s why I have it. If I didn’t, I would be…in pain. If my life weren’t funny, it would just be true, and that would be unacceptable.”

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Thank you so much for all the ways you made my family smile.

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