Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Sisters






It's a privilege to introduce you to two more of my new Survivor sisters...


From Cheri:


"...The first post I read of yours was about you Missing Katherine. Missing has become a great part of my life. I don’t think it was a word I had ever really thought about before. Missing always seemed so temporary.

That is until my earthquake...

My earthquake happened December 7, 2003. That’s when I was initiated into the sorority. Of suffering.  My 20-year-old son suffered a TBI as the result of a drug overdose.  It still shocks me that I actually wrote that last sentence. A traumatic brain injury. My son. A drug overdose.

However, what shocks me the most is that I can write it without the shame I felt for such a long time. Only God, through Jesus Christ, can take away that kind of shame.

Yes, an earthquake, that’s a good way to describe it. Unexpected. Devastating. You can’t stand. You don’t know when it will stop. You reach to hold on to someone else but they are falling, too. Is it real? Is it really happening or has something you saw on television found its way into your mind and into your dreams? But, as things start to crumble, you know it’s real. And you soon realize that, even though all you had, God created in the first place, when He puts things back together again, it will all be different. Good, as He can only do good, but different. Scars, cracks, brokenness, at least until we see Him face to face. We are still finding parts of ourselves in the rubble. Six years later, we still find broken dreams, crazy out of control emotions, memories that have been hidden under piles and piles of a former life. Most of the time, I would rather it all stayed buried. I get tired of dealing, of hurting, of remembering.  But God calls us to go through it all. Finding the brokenness so it can be healed.

I am reminded over and over again, especially hearing about Katherine’s faith before the AVM, of God’s grace. Only Our God could show the same grace to my son who messed up so badly, who made such a stupid choice, who was running away from God, (just like his mother) and your daughter who loved God and was sharing Him with others. Only Our God could love them both so completely. So perfectly. Only Our God could give two broken mothers the same strength, comfort and peace that trusting in His goodness brings. Only Our God could give us both the assurance that even though this isn’t what we wanted for our children and at times we absolutely hate it, we know. We know that as much as we love them, as much as our heart cries out to have our babies back, for their lives to be as if we dreamed and planned, we know. We know that His plans for them are better than ours. We know that they are much safer with Him than with us and we know that the part of them we miss, that He’s not missing it at all. He knows right where it is. He’s holding it tighter than we ever could."

Thank you for your precious words, Cheri. No one understands as well as someone who's walked in the same shoes...down the same long hospital hallway. You and your family will stay in our prayers.

Check out Cheri's wonderful blog at:
www.hisbenefits.blogspot.com




From L.:


"...It was very shortly after beginning my employment here that my "earthquake" hit...   
It was discovered that my husband of 20+ years had been involved in an on-going adulterous relationship with a co-worker.  He eventually walked away from our family, including our then 15 and 19-year-old sons, the eldest was a freshman here at S.  My life was turned upside down and inside out in an instant.  But that was only the beginning.  The eruptions and tremors continued to occur through the many more unbelieveable discoveries over time.  Even now, eight years later, they continue.  He has refused any involvement with our sons - has not seen nor communicated with either son in that eight years.  He completely walked out on his life, including all our friends, to start over with the other woman and her sons as if he had no other past.  A man who had worked faithfully with one employer for 20 years, has now lost 3 jobs since leaving causing alimony to be intermittent at best and creating further economic disruptions, all while continuing to send hateful mail blaming me for the circumstances of his life.

While those are the details of the disruption of the volcanic explosion, there is so much more.  God surrounded me with wonderful godly support as only He can - family, friends, counsellor, attorney - all believers who walked me through every phase.  And even though I'd rather not have to continue to deal with things of the past, God remains faithful!  As you have testified in your circumstances, there is victory - praise Him!!!  My eldest son graduated from S. and is working in his dream job - the place that as a young boy he knew he wanted to be - Associate Recreation Minister on staff at the church of his childhood.  My youngest is a senior majoring in Engineering - which is what he has always wanted to do!!  God is so good!!  And I will walk here at S. on May 15 to receive my B.S.  Life is truly good!!

However, there were times I thought that life would never hold meaning ever again.  I had been involved in Women's Ministry through my church and those doors had closed.  But God has opened new doors in another community of faith, and He has renewed His call on my life of ministry to women.  It looks very different than before, but it is an amazing journey!  He is the source of renewal and restoration!!

Even as I share with great joy the victories, there are still great challenges.  That's what I hear in your writing - they just don't ever seem to stop.  Yet that's life here on planet earth.  Not until we are in Paradise for all eternity will the suffering and sorrow cease.  Until then, the heart of flesh that He continues to grow in me feels with great enormity all the pain around me.  And it is precisely that heart of flesh that is actually a portion of God's heart given to me so that as I submit, becomes the avenue to minister to others.  Oh how hard that is.  Some days I simply want to withdraw into "my own little corner of my own little room".  But then, my Jesus takes my chin and lifts it up to gaze into His loving eyes, and I feel His loving arms holding me securely.  

Kim, the reason your words resonate with so many, is because we humans have or will at some point experience explosions, earthquakes, volcanoes and the accompanying pain and sorrow.  We are held up by each other knowing we are not in this alone.  And it's not the misery that comes our way that we gravitate toward, but rather the words of vulnerability from others sharing their angst over our very same struggles.  But we don't stop and tarry there - we grow closer to those who share the victories in the midst of all the suffering - the HOPE that we all cling to!  That's what your blog has done for each one of us - it continues to spread HOPE!!

And even as we are ministered to through your writings, we listen to your heart as if we are sitting across the table over a cup of tea bearing your burdens with you!  You are not alone!  We are here with you!!

Thank you for sharing your life and your love with each one of us!!  You remain in my prayers!"

As you remain in mine, L. during this next challenge.  I agree... "We are held up by each other knowing we are not in this alone." What a gift that is! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

***************

"Carry each others burdens..." (Galatians 6:2)




Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Fat Pink Eraser




Sometimes I wish I could get a big fat pink eraser and rub out certain things in my life.

Painful events…bad memories…

Mistakes and missteps I’ve made…

Thoughtless words I’ve said that hurt others…

Relationships that have been more harm than good…


Erase them and blow away the gritty residue.

Wipe them off my slate.

Scour them out of my toilet bowl.

Pretty up my life-line. White-out the smudges.

Delete whole chapters.

Make it all pink and green and pretty and happy.


I was a neurotic first-born child.  When I was in elementary school, I’d be mortified to get a “B” on my report card.  It would be in either Citizenship (“talks too much with other students”) or Math (brain doesn’t operate that way.) I would be humiliated by my “failure.” So I would get an eraser and try to smudge that big bright “B” right out.  At least fade it enough so I could make it look like an “A.”  Failing at that, I’d apply a little spit to the tip of my finger and rub it like Lady MacBeth washing her hands.

Told you I was a neurotic child.

But guess what…

Not only would I rub out the offending mark, I would rub a hole right through the paper.

That was even less pretty.

I’m not exactly sure what triggered these thoughts. I guess it’s the number of painful things I’ve experienced...or my children have experienced...in recent years. Sometimes I wish I could make them all go away like a bad dream. Erase them from my life. Or at least from my consciousness. Pretend this or that hadn’t happened to me; undo this or that I’ve done. Press rewind and edit out that hurtful remark coming from my mouth… that stumble…that fall. Trash the painful episodes; rewrite the script.

But, remembering my old report cards, I realize that can’t be done without leaving a hole.

And (please forgive me here) we can’t be whole with holes.

We cannot eradicate certain fibers of our story’s parchment without negating the very fiber of our existence. Our fiber. All of the marks and splotches and spilled ink have made us who we are…are helping us to become who we need to be.

Like they always say about the Weaver…the dark threads are necessary for the fabric to have depth and richness and lustre.

So it is with the story of our lives, written in indelible ink.


***************

...more sister stories next time...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sisters





Believe it or not, I am still continuing to receive deeply moving stories from fellow sisters of "SOS."  The bravery and resiliency of these women challenges and inspires me. Their willingness to share their stories is generous beyond measure. The knowledge they share of  treasures gleaned from darkness is an enlightening  gift. Thank you, sisters, one and all,  for your vulnerability and trust. 

An excerpt from Kelly's story:

"...I was thrilled to learn that I was pregnant yet again - I always knew I needed three children.  My oldest son turned 5 right after we found out we were expecting, and my youngest was 3.  My husband and I were so excited, and my oldest son, Matthew, was thrilled!!  Matthew was dying for a sister - I did not think that would be such a bad idea, either, seeing that I was one of three girls.  He was so determined we were having a girl that I found myself continually, throughout my pregnancy,  repeating this phrase - "Matthew, we are so lucky that God decides what baby is best for our family - that may be a girl or it may be a boy."   Well, we like to keep things a surprise around here and chose, as we did with the other two, not to find out the sex of the baby.  As my pregnancy moved on, Matthew began to call the "baby girl" Joy - and, if I'm honest, we all did - he had me convinced we were having a baby girl.  

On March 30, 2009 our baby boy was born and I knew I was meant to have three sons!!  Shortly after his birth, my OB came back in the room and asked to speak to Matt and I alone - I was so scared and had no idea what he was going to say. He informed Matt and I that he had a strong suspicion that our baby had Down Syndrome. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life - not because of the "Earthquake" shock but because God's Holy Spirit was in that room with us and wrapped His arms around my husband and I. The first words spoken after Dr. Kouri's announcement came from my husband - "We are the absolute best parents for this!" There were no tears at that moment - just a celebration of the life God had blessed us with.  After we had told the shocking news to our parents and everyone had gone home - we were finally able to hold our little bundle.  I forgot to mention he was in a bit of oxygen distress after birth so he had been in the nursery.  I sat there and held Vaughan and cried a mixture of tears.  I grieved the baby Joy I thought I was having, I grieved for the baby boy that was going to struggle, but mostly I felt real fear as to what this would all mean for our family.  

News travels fast in our town and the next day we were inundated with precious friends at the hospital. They would all come in the room and not know what to say, and then they would see we were the same Kelly and Matt - just anxious about an awaiting Chromosome Karotype that was going to confirm the diagnosis.  

But the strangest thing happened and I did not realize it until the end of that next day - almost EVERY person that came to visit us in the hospital said something about Joy!!!  "What Joy that child will bring to you!"  "I have a friend that has a cousin with Down Syndrome and she is the most Joyful child!" On and on it went - I finally looked at Matt and said, "Well, Matthew knew all along that God had picked out our special baby named Joy!" 

Our Earthquake, like yours, has been one that has shown me the transforming love of God.  I know that he has been with us through the sad and uncertain days- and there have been some - and He has shown me His love through my two older boys that have loved Vaughan in the most unconditional way possible.  We were advised to not tell the boys about Vaughan's DS and I am so thankful for that advice because they have had the opportunity to teach all of us some pretty valuable lessons.

I am so sorry for the long email - I just wanted you to know that your story helped me tremendously as a mother before I experienced my Earthquake. Now that I have experienced an "Earthquake" of my own - I know from your experience to enjoy and make the most of the journey God has planned for my family.

Thank you and many prayers to your family!


from D.:

...I wasn't going to write because I didn't want the emotions of "my earthquake" to get me shaking again. I don't even know when it started, which makes me sad. I was so trusting and maybe arrogant about my marriage. I truly believed that when I stood at the altar and said my vows in front of family, friends, and...most of all, God... that it would be forever. We went to couples bible study together, we had prayer together, we made a life together. Most importantly of all, we had three children together. Of course it was going to be forever.
When he walked out the door and I learned of the other women, I was shattered. My earthquake did not destroy any material things, although it would have been easier. It destroyed me and my children. I could not see past the rubble. There were days that I didn't think I could go on.  My heart was broken into a million pieces. I then learned that this women was an agnostic and had been living in an open marriage. The pain that my children would be exposed to this type of life-style was more than I could bear. They moved in together. How could God not only destroy me but do this to my children? 
It has been five years since this earthquake occurred. God has done a miracle in my life. I am amazed at how He has healed my heart. He is a physician. He has allowed me to forgive. He is full of compassion.  He has allowed me to laugh again. He is full of joy. He has become my bridegroom. The love of my life who will never let me down. When I look past all the destruction and ashes from this earthquake I see the greatest gift.....sharing my story of death and resurrection with others. This is my gift to Him!!!
***************
Serendipitously, I "happened" to run across the following teaching of Beth Moore this afternoon. I've been really sick this week...sick enough to be pretty much bed-ridden for the past couple of days. Irritable, ill, and impatient, I found myself listening to Beth speak on our current topic of earthquakes. She echoes some of what's been said, but also brings up some provocative new points to consider.
If you are not familiar with Beth, not from the South, and not familiar with this type of speaking, perhaps a little forewarning may be in order: A Bible Study teacher from Texas, Beth is what we might refer to as a "large personality." Her style of teaching may be a bit different from what some of you are used to. But her honesty and passion are very genuine. She has lived through many major earthquakes, of which severe sexual abuse as a child was only the first. 
These teachings were aired on the program of a pastor with whom I'm not familiar, and he adds commentary at the beginning and end. If you just want to hear Beth, fast forward.
 If interested, go to:  http://www.lifetoday.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bth_media

and scroll down to:

Life QuakesPart 1: Video - QuicktimeFlash  Audio - MP3   Text - Transcript
Part 2: Video - QuicktimeFlash  Audio - MP3   Text - Transcript
Part 3: Video - QuicktimeFlash  Audio - MP3   Text - Transcript





Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fran's Story



It was July 24th 2000. I was in my kitchen preparing dinner for my husband and two daughters. Our oldest was home from college after just completing her freshmen year. Our youngest daughter, a rising 9th grader was out with friends. I leaned over the sink to drain the pasta when the phone rang. In that mundane task, something I had done so many  times my life was about to change forever.. There are no words on this earth strong enough to express the sadness we were about to endure.

My husband's sister and brother-in-law had been in a terrible accident. They were on their way to the beach for a family vacation. We were told on the phone to travel to the hospital an hour and a half away. We would be given the details on our arrival.

 We knew that they were traveling with all 6 of their children plus 2 young girls from Belarus that were staying with them for the summer. These girls were in the USA for medical treatment and dental work. The Chernobyl power plant disaster left the children with severe medical problems. Our sweet M.A. and T. were dedicated to helping these girls get the care they needed.  

When we arrived at the hospital we were greeted by the Highway patrol Chaplin. He gave us the news that there were 4 survivors. Our 16 year old nephew, 8 year old niece, and one of our beautiful twin nieces 13 year old M.T.  The other survivor was one of the 12 year old girls from Belarus. Our nephew was left with only a broken collarbone, what a miracle. Three days later our niece M.T. went to heaven to be with her twin sister and the rest of her family. The Highway patrol said that the truck that crossed the median took 2.8 seconds to take the lives of M.A. and T. along with four of their six children. Although sweet Nastia from Belarus did not survive we were thrilled to find out from our nephew that she had become a Christian and been baptized while staying in their home. The driver of the truck was also killed instantly. 

This was a family that loved the Lord. They had dedicated their lives to serving him. Everyone that knew them loved them. The day we told our nephew that they were gone his words were "They are with Jesus." What an amazing legacy they left in these two surviving children. Just one week after the accident we traveled that same rode home with our two new children. We were a family devastated and grief stricken. We knew that everyday God was going to pick us up and keep us moving because we could not have survived otherwise. 

What a gift it is to feel God's hands so clearly knowing HE is there with you keeping your knees from buckling to the floor. We will always miss them so much and feel sad for the years we have spent without them. We really miss seeing the children grow up.

I will soon have an empty nest! Our once wide eyed  frightened little 8 year old niece is now 18 and about to leave for college in the fall. Our nephew married last year and is doing well. He is about to finish graduate school.

We are a family that was changed in 2.8 seconds. We can look back now and see the ways God cared for us over the past 10 years. At times it seemed way too hard but we are well and so blessed. We are a family.

Thank you for letting me share. It has meant so much to me to see how God has given you your miracle in Katherine's beautiful story of healing. I pray for her almost everyday. Please keep blogging. I know there will be many more miracles to come.
Fran
Thank you so much, Fran, for taking the time to share your story. It is truly inspirational. God is able to make the unbearable bearable...if we let Him. 


p.s. And thanks so much to Aidan at Ivy League Insecurities for making my post on "Survivors" a "charm" on her blog today.  It's an honor.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Okay, technical people. Here's a puzzle for you:

I've just gotten several emails saying that Blogger will no longer allow them to post on the blog.

Blogger must have changed something.

Before, if you followed these instructions you could post:

1. Hit "comments" at the bottom of this post.

2. Under "Choose an identity," enter your google account (gmail, etc.) if you have one. If you do not have a google account, hit "sign up here."

3. Type in your existing email and password. (2x)

4. Under "Display name" you can put your real name or a fake one...I don't care.

5. Try to decipher the squiggly letters under "Word Verification" and type them in.

6. Check "Terms of Service."

7. Hit "continue."

Now, it doesn't seem to give you the option of commenting unless you have a blog account such as Google, Typepad, Wordpress, ETC.

WHY DO THEY TRY TO FIX THINGS THAT AREN'T BROKEN???

I just set it to allow 'anonymous' comments, but the first inappropriate or mean comment I get, I'm outa here.

Anybody know how to fix this?

Pretend you're talking to a first-grader.  

Make that pre-schooler.

Thanks!

Love,
Kim



Survivors

(The week before the earthquake.)


For my generation, it was, “Do you remember where you were when Kennedy died?”

Of course we remember. They’d wheeled these giant old black and white TV’s on stilts into our elementary classrooms so we could watch history unfold. Walter Cronkite told us that our handsome young President was dead. The grown-ups were crying, so some of us did, too. Nothing like it had ever happened in our happy little post-war lifetimes. The President was like God. He didn’t die.

But he did.

Later, we saw shocking images in vivid color. Our elegant, patrician First Lady climbing on the back of a convertible, her pretty pink Chanel suit splattered in crimson blood.

Nothing would ever be the same.

It was striking how many of my sister-survivors wrote about the moment they first knew the house was coming down. They recall the exact moment when the mundane and commonplace was invaded by the surreal and unthinkable. Fran wrote, “It was July 24th 2000. I was in my kitchen preparing dinner for my husband and two daughters... I leaned over the sink to drain the pasta when the phone rang. In that mundane task, something I had done so many times, my life was about to change forever. There are no words on this earth strong enough to express the sadness we were about to endure.”

Our new friend Jody returned from an intense mission trip to Africa, only to discover that there was an earthquake at home: “I stepped off the plane yesterday and quickly learned that my life as I knew it was crumbling. My husband made a full confession of past unfaithfulness, resigned from his job, and was waiting to tell me upon walking in the door.”

Another friend shared, “In September of 2009 we were told that we would never get pregnant on our own. The Earth shook and has yet to stop.”

Exactly two years ago on this day, April 21, 2008, our family experienced a 10 on the Richter scale. We thought we’d weathered major earthquakes before, but understand now that they were only tremors.  I remember exactly where I was when I answered the phone that day. (On my bed.) I can still sense myself sliding off the left side and beginning to walk around to the end of the bed when words formed in my head. Then I went into the closet and started packing for would turn out to be a never-ending journey.

One minute: life as it’s been. The next: life as it will be from this point on.

Utterly, totally, incomprehensibly changed forever.

In the space of a breath.

A breath.

Inhale.

Now exhale.

That quick.

As Fran wrote, We are a family that was changed in 2.8 seconds.”

I’ve heard from brave survivors of many different kinds of earthquakes. With one exception, none of us could have even begun to imagine what lay ahead. If you’d told us, we probably wouldn’t have believed you.

But suddenly, the world is upside-down.

And you’re just trying not to fall off.

I’ve learned that these sudden earthquakes come in many shapes and forms. I’ve been graciously entrusted with stories of infidelity and infertility. Tragic and fatal car wrecks. Drug overdose resulting in permanent brain injury. Children born with Down’s syndrome. Cerebral palsy resulting from negligence. Divorce and abandonment. Aneurysms and brain tumors. Cancer. Death.

S. bravely shared her story of sexual abuse. M. wrote of the seismic waves that occurred in her family with the discovery that her two siblings are gay. Misha lost everything in a hurricane. Elizabeth shared her struggle with life-altering panic attacks. T. wrote of her horrible experience with carbon monoxide poisoning that resulted in coma. My friend Marianne has lived through more than one earthquake: a child born with Down’s, and another baby stillborn. Evidently, sometimes lightning does strike twice.

 Just ask Job.

In several cases, the earthquake came immediately on the heels of times of celebration and joy… as if the Cosmic Forces were playing a cruel joke. Sandra Bullock found out her husband was a sex addict the week after winning an Academy Award. Marielle developed cancer shortly after her wedding. Rachel was diagnosed with lymphoma two days after giving birth.

Reading these stories over the past two weeks has been emotional and sobering. Because these things didn’t happen in a movie. They happened to people like us.

People like you.

me.

Elizabeth wrote, We are all broken and experiencing earthquakes of all kinds.  Katherine's brokenness may be more obvious on the outside, but it is no different than the pain and suffering we all must face in this broken world.”

L. concurred: “We humans have or will at some point experience explosions, earthquakes, volcanoes and the accompanying pain and sorrow.  We are held up by each other knowing we are not in this alone.  And it's not the misery that comes our way that we gravitate toward, but rather the words of vulnerability from others sharing their angst over our very same struggles.  But we don't stop and tarry there - we grow closer to those who share the victories in the midst of all the suffering - the HOPE that we all cling to!”

I believe that’s the bottom line. None of the stories I received was devoid of hope. In spite of the tragedies, there have been great blessings and many dark treasures. New lives and second chances. Maybe even because of the tragedies.

We earthquake survivors want and need to share the hope we’ve been given. When we hear a faint cry for help coming from underneath a pile of rubble, we want to get a shovel and dig. “To comfort with the comfort we’ve received.” To offer a cup of water.

Having read these stories during this anniversary week, I’ve been trying to live a bit differently. More aware of how fragile life is/we are. As I’ve gone about my errands, I’ve been a little more patient with people. As soon as an irritable or judgmental thought starts up, I’ve tried to nip it in the bud. Even at the gym yesterday, when the college kids were getting on my nerves. I almost ran into one, a petulant tiny blonde with a disdainful  “I-smell-dog-mess” look on her face. But I just felt this rush of softness and compassion instead of annoyance.

Because only God knows what that child may go through tomorrow.

None of us know what any of us will go through tomorrow. Or even this afternoon.


We need to treat each other more gently.

***************

“For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”  (Luke 17: 24-27)


The week after the earthquake:





*Next time, I will be sharing Fran's story. It's unbelievable.


Monday, April 19, 2010

S.O.S.




There is a secret Sorority of Suffering.

The pledgeship is hard.

The initiation rituals are terrifying and heartbreaking.

Once you’ve joined, your life will never be the same.

Unlike the case with most sororities, you are not given the privilege of choice in the matter.  But once you’re IN, there’s a choice to be made. Actually, many, many choices.

I have met some wonderful new pledge sisters and alumnae in the past two weeks. Earthquake survivors, one and all. That’s not to say that they haven’t been injured or even maimed. But they have chosen to survive and thrive, in spite of the devastation wrought by their respective earthquakes and their forced entry into SOS. (Sigma Omega Sigma?)

We speak the same language, know the secret handshake.

We have all made the choice to chant the letters of our sorority (SOS!) at those times when we can’t go on. And we’ve received the help for which we’ve cried out.

There have been secrets learned in the dark.

 “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3)

***************

 Our worlds have been rocked.

It’s like this:

You’re going along your merry way, thinking the way it is is the way it always will be…with only minor variations in circumstances. You’ve got a plan. It’s all mapped out.

And then the floor drops out from under you.

The walls crumble.

The chandelier comes crashing down on top of your head.

You are covered in rubble and dust and ashes.

Life changes forever.

With no warning.

In the blink of an eye.

As you begin to dig your way out into the daylight, you discover than life as you knew it is gone. All of your assumptions, predictions, projections, and ambitions are scattered around you like shards of glass. The New Normal is not normal at all. It is hard to find your feet again. The world is spinning out of control, and you want to get off. But you can’t. So you stay low to the ground at first, just trying not to be sick.

I remember falling to the floor in the ICU. The fact that it was hard made it better.

As the vertigo subsides, you have to face your first choice: Will you follow the advice of Job’s wife, and “curse God and die?” Or will you choose Life? Will you ask for help in learning how to live again? Will you become bitter, or get better? Or will you just cram your system full of every anesthesia known to man in an attempt to dull the pain?

We have the gift of choice.

I’ve recently met some amazing survivors…new sisters…who have chosen Life, with all of its pain and imperfections.  Some are naturally brave; others, like me, have been given the courage that doesn’t come naturally to them. Although the stories are all different, there are many similarities. It doesn’t matter how it measures on the Richter scale: an earthquake is an earthquake.

As my new friend Abby writes, “There is clearly a pocket of believers who are searching for communion in their suffering.”  In the next few days, I will be sharing some of these stories. We can learn from each other. Cry with each other. Pray for each other. Help each other. Be with each other.

We’re all in this Life thing together.

***************

Even if you haven’t gone through an earthquake yet, it’s always good to be prepared.

As much as you can be.




Thursday, April 15, 2010

youtubes

Posted this on "KMB" this morning:


 

I'm sure most of you visiting this site have seen these before, but in case anyone hasn't, I'm posting them all together. Seeing the before and after in close juxtaposition does seem to illustrate the impact of Katherine's AVM rupture more vividly.


*Clips from "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?":


*Testimony at First Baptist, Florence, MS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59YMj7fFxfQ

*Testimony at First Baptist, Montgomery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC7e4kKxz-4


Katherine and Jay will be speaking at Bel Air Presbyterian in Los Angeles this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quick note...

People are still emailing me their earthquake stories. I've been crying all week.

If I haven't responded to you yet, please know that I am so very grateful for your generosity in sharing your stories with me. I've been traveling this week, so I'm behind in my correspondence. But it has been such a blessing to hear from you. It helps me to know my online friends better. Every story has been of great value. I hope to share some insights soon.

If anyone else feels like responding, it's kta2754@gmail.com.  A few people have said that it was cathartic to write it all out...hard, but worth it. I will, of course, honor your privacy.

One more thing...once in a blue moon, I'll go back and re-read your comments on previous posts for a little encouragement. Sometimes I discover that someone's left a recent comment on an older post. These comments are very precious to me, and I don't ever want to miss any. SO... please feel free to continue commenting on older posts....sometimes the ones that I hope will resonate the most with people receive the fewest responses. It's nice to think that maybe somebody went back and re-read one and thought about it some more. But, it would be great if you could send me a note on the most recent post to tell me that you commented on "X, Y, or Z" so I'll be sure and see it. It kind of feels like getting mail at camp. Exciting! I love, love, love hearing from my readers.

I love you all, whether you ever respond or not. It is such an honor that you take time out of your busy lives to read my words. Thank you, again, for being a part of our story. We are honored by your presence.

Love, Kim

p.s. Change is in the wind...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Needing

 


It is fascinating to observe the development of language in a child.

At 2 1/2, my grandson is at the stage where he is coming up with a new word or phrase almost every day. We must be careful how we speak. Cautious in the choice of words. Because we will hear them mimicked back to us in ways and at times we least expect. James is a little sponge, soaking up every slip of the tongue, every misspoken word.

An interesting dilemma is faced at this point: If a child misunderstands the nuance of language used around him, how do you straighten it out for him? Since the development of vocabulary is in its infancy, which other words do you use in your explanation? It seems a little like looking up a word in the dictionary, only to find it defined by other words you don’t know.

For instance, one of James’ favorite phrases these days is, “I need it.” (He likes “MINE!” a lot, too.) The problem is that he uses it on occasions when, “I want…” or “I would like…” would be more appropriate. Our efforts at making the distinction have been fruitless so far. Think about it. How do you explain the difference between “want” and “need” to a two-year-old?

He might be sitting at the table, eating a p.b. and j. sandwich, when he calls me: “Mimi, I need some berries! I need them.” Or, more likely, “I need candy!”

He could be watching Mickey Mouse on his little DVD player, when he calls me back into the room: “Mimi! Mimi! Come here, Mimi! I need Pinochi(n)o!” (Or “Stoystory.”)

The most urgent needs, however, have to do with the amazing collection of STUFF that James now carries around with him like a ball-and-chain of toddler materialism.

If we’re just going from his house back to mine (10 feet apart from each other), he has to go through this frantic amassing of items to take on the trip. It’s like he’s being deported.

It started with a little lunchbox full of toy cars and trains. Then other items found their way in. Say the prize from a Happy Meal, a petrified French fry, and a dirty toothbrush. The lunchbox was soon outgrown. Next, he took over an old diaper bag. Larger items, such as stuffed animals, a blankie, and a flashlight were added. Then he advanced to a laundry hamper. You might find a ball, an Etch-A-Sketch, and one of your own long-missing shoes in that piece of luggage.

We took away the laundry basket and the diaper bag. Now it’s back to the over-packed (and extremely heavy) lunchbox in one hand; Cat in the Hat, blankie, Elmo, and a DVD or two in the other.

Remember: This is just to go next door.

You should see us on a car trip.

Of course we try to deal with it. “No, James, you can’t take all of this stuff with you. You don’t need it.” But “I need it! I need it!” he cries, as I try to wrest Elmo away. We usually come to some sort of a compromise. But it takes time and energy. Sometimes it’s quicker and easier just to let him cart all of his baggage around with him.

Hmmmm.

Now that I think about it, that’s kind of the way I am, hauling junk back and forth from coast to coast. It’s as hard for me to distinguish want from need as it is for James. To save the time and energy involved in discriminating selection, I just throw it all in the suitcase in a haphazard way. ‘Cause I might need it.

So many things I think I need.


I hear myself saying…hear others say…

“I need to get a manicure.”  “I need a new dress for the wedding.”  “I need a vacation.” “I need some space.” “I need somebody.” “I need a new laptop…phone…Ipod…camera… whatever-gadget-I-bought-9-months-ago-that’s already-obsolete…” “I need a change.”   “I need a raise.”  “I need to raise some hell.”  “I need a new house, car, T.V….body, face.” “I need a break!” “I need more, more, more.”

Like my grandson, I think many of us have seriously misunderstood the difference between need and want.

And we want many things that are not good for us. Not God's best for us. Once we attain them, they can become heavy burdens to carry...like a 30-pound lunchbox.


What do YOU need?

What do any of us really need?


In the end, it boils down to just one thing.

***************

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13) 




Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thank you so much for sharing your 'earthquake' stories with me. They moved me to tears. I want to respond to each of you individually, but the next 4 days are action-packed...so it may be next week.


There are so many un-sung heroes in the world. Your courage inspires me.


A few said things like, "My earthquake isn't as big as yours."  It doesn't matter. An earthquake is an earthquake. I've experienced tremors throughout my life. Whatever your earthquake is, the same principles apply.


We are united in our suffering, regardless of what form it takes. We cannot measure our circumstances against another's. Pain is pain.


I am so grateful for the honor of being trusted with your stories.


I will keep you all in my prayers. 


love, kim


p.s. If anyone else wants to share, the line's still open. Your words mean more to me than you could know. I hope to write about these stories soon. (I promise to keep everyone's confidentiality.)