Thursday, June 24, 2010

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Birthing a Baby


I’ve stalled long enough.

Tap-danced as long as I can.

When a baby wants to be born, there’s not much you can do but push.

Deep breath. (Many breaths.)

So, everyone take a look at the little “welcome” blurb on the left. Remember…it says “this is not the final product…blah, blah, blah.”

“In the Meantime…” has been a holding ground while the baby’s been developing and growing.

Personally, I think it’s a bit premature. There are still plenty of imperfections and immaturities.

But I’m feeling more than a little celestial pressure to push.

I must warn you that this new baby is different from its predecessors.

My hopes are that it will be simultaneously more profound and more profane; both more poetic and more prosaic.

More mundane and mystical…

trivial and extraordinary.

Because life is all of  these things.

For instance, we might discuss hemorrhoids one day, Marx’s Theory of Dialectical Materialism the next. Menopot on Monday, Tolstoy on Tuesday.

Weddings on Wednesday, Tillich on Thursday.

Freesia on Friday.

Get it? Both more substance and more fluff. A greater range of topic matter. From Anthropologie to theology and zoologie.

(Just kidding about the zoology part… ‘artistic license.’  You do know when I'm kidding, right?)

Hopefully, this baby will be even more real.

I do not invite you to join me in this new adventure…at this new location… without some trepidation and much hesitation. Who do I think I am? Some cyberesque Pied Piper, forcing you to bounce all over the internet trying to keep up with me? “Follow me,” I beg, flitting from site to site…trying to make up my mind where to land.

Hopefully, this will be it for a while. Moving’s not much fun, whether it’s actual or virtual. Change is uncomfortable. But I’m tired of hanging around the pool, dangling my legs over the side. Sometimes, you just have to take the plunge into the icy water. (It helps if Someone gives you a little shove from behind.)

Eventually, it’ll warm up. I’ll warm up. And start to feel comfortable floating around in my new environment. 

I hope (and pray) that you will too.

So please (pretty please) “follow me” one last time, to meet my new baby.

She's kind of a weird one, but I think you'll grow to like her eventually. Same mama as the previous two. 


You are cordially invited to

Meet Margery

Today, Tomorrow, Whenever...



p.s. If anyone has ever questioned my sanity, this will give you a definitive answer. For many, many reasons.

(I surely do hope that the lady who said she'd read about me picking my toes is still around.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thwarted Plans

6:00 a.m. 

I’m in a warm blanket cocoon, finishing up a dream.


Someone’s hard little head crashes into mine.

“Wake up, Mimi!”

My grandson has spent the night with me.

(His parents went out last night.)

He usually sleeps ‘til around 7:00.

I had a plan. I would get up early, sneak out into the living room, and do some writing.

We’re watching "Robots" now instead.

(He’s not thrilled that I’m typing.)

It seems that every single time I try to make plans, they are thwarted.

Excuse me. James just pushed the laptop out of my lap and yelled, “No witing!!!”

Okay. The movie got interesting again. What was I saying? Oh yeah. I was talking about thwarted plans. So anyway, I’ll mentally make a list as I drift off to sleep. I tell myself, “Well, today was a wash, but I’ll accomplish something tomorrow. I’ll get up early, have my quiet time, finish writing that life-changing piece, feed, bathe, and dress James, put on my workout clothes, and go to the gym. Then I’ll come back and clean up the house and do some laundry. And then…”

Wow. The laptop almost hit the floor that time. I’m bribing him with some gummy treats now. Before breakfast.

That was quick. Cheese toast on the way.

Where was I?

I was telling you how annoying it is that my plans never work out. Make ‘em and break ‘em…that’s how I live these days. Sometimes it irks me that we never get to do what I want to do. Couldn’t we watch the Today Show for once instead of Sesame Street? I mean, would that be a huge deal?

Oops. A shoe was just thrown my way. Confinement time. Belted into the booster seat.

“Now be sweet and eat your cheese toast, please.”

“I want more tweats! More tweats, Mimi!!”  (Shoulda known that was a bad idea…sugar before breakfast. Never works.)

Anyway, I realize that wanting my own way…trying to stick to my plan…just leads to frustration and irritation.

“I don’t wike cheese toast!!! I want tweats!”

BAM. Sippy cup hits the floor. Lid flies off. Milk everywhere.

That’s it. I give up.

Maybe we’ll just go to the park today.

And smell some more of these along the way:


“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 nlt)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beautiful Books

I have been asked multiple times about a reading list. Which books, devotionals, studies, etc., have helped to shape my world-view and inform my theology?

Perhaps because I have so little time or energy to actually read these days, it was fun to compile this extremely partial list for a reader who asked me for some suggestions. When I say it is partial, I mean it is probably about 1% of what I'd like to recommend. I'm west coast now, without most of my books. The next time I'm in Georgia, I want to make a more complete formal "census."

(...which will appear on the new blog!)

Yes, it's still coming. It's almost ready.

But this week it has seemed as if all the evil forces in the universe are trying to prevent its completion.

Soooo...if anyone 'feels an urging' to pray for me, a tiny prayer request might be for the gift of time. And peace. And vision. And direction. And guidance. And peace. And....

Hey, I know you've got other things to do.

In the meantime...

Here's a place to start, if you've never done much reading on faith or theology:

*Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis (or What Christians Believe, a shorter version.)
*The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven, C. S. Lewis (or any compilation of his other works.)
(Actually, anything at all by C.S. Lewis)
The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning
Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen
Basic Christianity, John Stott
Hind’s Feet in High Places, Hannah Hurnard Smith (an allegory)
In the Grip of Grace, Max Lucado
Breaking Free, Beth Moore
Where is God When It Hurts? Philip Yancey
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott
Girl Meets God, Lauren Winner


*My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers ( but not '101.')
(Excellent, short, accessible readings from the Christian classics, including St. Augustine, St. Theresa, Hannah W. Smith, Amy Carmichael, Julian of Norwich, Thomas a’ Kempis, St. John of the Cross, and more. Some still in print and available on Amazon.)

Talking With God, Francois Fenelon

The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence

Also, I like to read “JAR” (the books of John, Acts, and Romans) straight through, almost as a novel or single narrative. Those 3 seem to represent the essence of the Christian message to me: What happened, the response of the witnesses, and the theology behind the events. Right now, I am really enjoying my NLT (New Living Translation) version of the Bible. It makes it seem fresh and new.


Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby
Any of Beth Moore’s studies
Just ordered N.T. Wright’s study of Romans…will let you know how it is.
So many other good ones…I’ll have to look through stacks when I get back to GA.

 I'd love to hear YOUR suggestions....maybe you can help jog my old memory cells. Which readings have meant the most to you? Been responsible for the most spiritual growth?

Thank you for your faithfulness and prayers during yet another transitional time.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I’ve had a friend from home visiting this week.

Whenever that happens (which is very rarely), I see this new life through their eyes.

And I see just how far from the shore of the old life I’ve drifted.

The most common comment: “I had no idea.”

Which is kind of weird.

Because I feel like I’ve been fairly honest in my description of what things are like out here.

But everyone, friend or family member, says the same thing: “I never could have imagined what this is like. It’s just not possible for people to understand unless they’ve been here.”

I don’t know why I need to share this. I guess it’s because I’m so tired and very achy and a little teary.

(Even post-menopausal women still get all hormonal sometimes.)

And because I have to stay so completely focused on what needs to happen in the next 15 minutes that I can’t allow myself the luxury/torment of projecting into the next day/week/month/year.  I am so intent on just surviving…doing the next “right thing”… that I can’t reflect upon how difficult…impossible…this all is sometimes.

Unbelievable, unbearable.  Unreal…yet very, very real.

So completely different from the way most of my friends are living that they don’t (can’t possibly) have a clue. If I try to explain, I might as well be speaking Russian. (Not complain…just explain. Like why I don’t always answer phone calls or emails:

… I don’t always have time to go to the bathroom. Can you wrap your mind around this???)

Everyone asks very realistic, reasonable questions about the future. And I always answer in the same naïve/cliché-kind of way. “One day at a time…let each day’s trouble be sufficient for the day…” yada yada yada.

The reality is that we are often terrified, and if we look down, we’ll drown. Fall off the tightrope into the bottomless chasm of despair and doubt.

So faith is not a virtue, it is a necessity. It is not something that has to be worked up; it is the air that we breathe in order to survive.

I am nothing, nothing, nothing at all without it.

I can do nothing without it.

I don’t know what fresh hell tomorrow holds.

But I do know that if I don’t fling myself into the arms of my compassionate Father and beg for mercy, I might as well just lay down and die.

Some days that would be a welcome relief from the pain of existence on this fatally flawed planet.

So I fix my eyes on what is unseen. I lie down for a minute when my sweet love/little tormentor takes his nap. And I ask for refreshing.

“Times of refreshing come from the Lord.”*

They really do.

I receive what I need in order to take the next step.

The pilgrimage is often hard and tiring. There are falls and bruises and hundreds of glasses of spilled milk and broken things along the way. Aching backs and heads. A deeper exhaustion than I’ve ever known.

But we can’t give up.

We crawl on, limping and bleeding, to the finish line.

Where there is true rest at last.


I debated whether or not to post this one. It just spilled out last night. I slept on it, and decided to go ahead and click this morning. Because I am trying to paint a realistic portrait of life after an earthquake. The portrait would be incomplete if I only included the happy/funny/”inspirational” moments.

I need to make it very, very clear that I do not in any way consider myself to be the primary victim here. The struggles I experience are not even worthy of comparing to what Katherine and Jay deal with each and every day. They are the heroes in this story. They are continuously bombarded with fresh and daunting challenges. 

But, by its nature, an earthquake continues to send out tremors that affect whole families. When a tragedy occurs to one family member, the life of everyone in the family is changed. None of us have had an easy time. For instance, my husband supports a unique burden in that he has to be alone so much. It is easier to be here in the midst of the fray than to worry about everyone from a distance.

I reflect back on the stories that have been so graciously shared with me over the past few weeks. They have given me hope and a sense of solidarity. When my day is long and hard, I think of Cheri and what she’s living through. Or Peggy, who's living in circumstances similar to mine, helping with grandchildren apart from her husband. (Who is home caring for her elderly mother.) Everyone stretched thin. The friend who was visiting is living through her own earthquake. Hers was caused by human choice rather than by illness or accident. That is a special kind of hell.

It helps to know that there are others who truly understand what's it's like to have your world turned upside down.

Thank you for that great gift.


(* Acts 3:19)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Amy's Story

(This is long, but worth the read...)

“…I was 20 years old and starting my Junior year of college.  I had spent the previous summer in Panama City Beach, Florida on a Summer Beach Project.  This was set up through a campus ministry known as Campus Outreach. We were in discipleship groups.  We studied a particular book of the Bible.  We were shown how to have a quiet time, how to share our faith, etc.  It was a very intense time of learning and growing.  At the beginning of the summer, a girl asked me if I wanted to meet with her. I knew that one-on-one time with her would be a blessing, so we sat down and talked.  I cannot even remember what was said.  By the end of our conversation, she confronted me.  She was a recovered anorexic, and could see struggles within me that I, myself, had not yet identified.

I mulled over that confrontation throughout my summer. My denial was so deep and this 'thing' seemed too big to acknowledge.  By the last night of the project, I went to L’s room and sat talking to her for a couple of hours.  I was still wondering if her accusation could carry any weight (no pun intended:).  She was very encouraging, offering hope, while stressing the severity of a struggle such as this.

I was fearful of returning to school.  I moved into the sorority house that year.  I had a packed schedule.  More and more I found myself tucked away in my bed just wanting to sleep. No one knew the turmoil inside of me and I desperately wanted to keep it that way.  Normally quite the social butterfly, I became more and more withdrawn.  The eating part was, in reality, eating me alive emotionally.  I would go on long drives and cry.  Since L. was the only person who knew about my struggle, I would call her on occasion, in tears.  She gave me the names of some Christian counselors.  I decided on a weekend when I felt I could slip away and go unnoticed in order to meet with one of the recommended therapists.  I used money I had won in a pageant to pay for the session (irony?).  I kept seeing this particular therapist, and after a few weeks, I thought it was necessary to bring my family into the light concerning my situation. I had put this off because I have a very supportive family and I knew that they would do any and everything to help me get better.  I just wasn't sure if I was ready to acknowledge what was going on or start a process of recovery.  Everything seemed so far out of reach.

Just as I thought, my parents and sister had only words of love and encouragement when I sat down to speak with them.  I told them on a Sunday afternoon.  I will never forget watching them join hands and walk down to the altar to bow in prayer that night at our church.  I also called my brother (I'm the youngest of three) and he was completely supportive and broken as well.

I continued with the counseling and things really started to spiral down.  I specifically remember spending the night at my parents’ home one Sunday night.  The next morning my mother found me dressed to go to class.  I was sitting in my room on the floor, looking out the window and crying because I felt that I couldn't even leave my home.  I felt completely engulfed in a darkness I'd never known.  My mom lovingly tucked me into bed.  In the following weeks I lost the ability to function in the routine of my normal life.  My mom went to my college, withdrew me from my classes, and packed up my things to move me home.

I grew up in a very small town. Everyone knew my family. Many of our relationships overlapped among church, work, and community.  It was as if I had disappeared. However, the Lord was so powerfully present during these dark times.  I experienced a depth of worship that I had never known existed.  On one particular occasion, He lovingly brought Lamentations 3:22-23 (“Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”) to mind the night before I was to recall some sexual abuse from my childhood.  I didn't audibly hear His voice, but I knew without a doubt that He was speaking to my heart and saying, "Tomorrow is going to be a very hard day, but I love you."

The therapist recommended that I look into in-patient treatment.  God placed a wonderful doctor in my path who strongly encouraged me to seek in-patient treatment as well.  I cannot recall every single detail as I write, but the Lord clearly showed Himself when it came to placing me in a treatment facility. I cannot remember the first time I heard about Remuda Ranch in Arizona. We were sent videos to watch and pamphlets to read concerning Remuda. My curiosity got the better of me one night and I watched the Remuda video after everyone had gone to bed. I don't recall making the decision to go. My statements just seem to change from "'if I go" to "when I go". Rather quickly, things 'fell into place.' (Insurance agreed to cover 40 out of 45 days.)

My mom and I left on October 31, 2000 to drive to Atlanta and catch a flight to Arizona. I don't know if it was my total denial or a working of the Spirit, but I went from not wanting to leave my house to having a spark of excitement when thinking of meeting other girls like myself 1600 miles away.

As I mentioned earlier, I grew up in a small town. My Dad was (and is) the local veterinarian.  I was known as "Dr. J’s'' daughter. It wasn't a bad thing, mind you.  I just felt a certain level of expectation. I had actually  thrived on such feelings in some ways. I found success in various avenues and activities.  I really did seem to 'have it all.' Oh and we were a 'nice, christian' family. These things all came into play later.  I mentioned this now to let you know that I coveted the anonymity that would come with being 'Amy J., just another patient.’ Later, I found that my own problems with recovering strangely had to do with whether or not I had been the ‘best anorexic.’ Since I went through waves with bulemia and anorexia, I was never at a point to where I was a walking skeleton. I had times of noticeable weight loss, but it seemed to be just enough to garner praises. I was just very unhealthy. Whether it was binging and purging or total restriction, I had some major issues that needed to be dealt with.  Lyrics from a Jennifer Knapp song made so much sense to me. "There are ghosts from my past who own more of my soul than I thought I had given away. They linger in closets and under my bed and in pictures less proudly displayed." 

As I hugged my family and told them goodbye, I did so thinking that I would arrive in Arizona and be told that I didn't belong there. I expected to return home. (Hello Denial, so nice of you to accompany us.)  I arrived at Remuda Ranch on November 1, 2000.  My mom was able to walk into the initial area with me and then I had to tell her goodbye.  She had been my Rock in many ways, yet I didn't shed a tear as we embraced.  I prayed for her (she's fearful when it comes to flying). God later orchestrated a meeting for my Mom. (I mean my Mama- I am from the South.)  As she strolled through Wickenburg, AZ she met another couple from Arizona who had just left their daughter a day earlier.  God showed Himself thoroughly throughout this earthquake.

 Remuda Ranch is a Christ-centered rehab facility for eating disorders that uses horses as a part of patients' therapy.  (My last experience on a horse was nearly two years earlier when I was thrown from one.) My problem upon arrival was that I saw all of these pitiful girls whom I grew to love and adore.  I wanted to 'fix' them. I thought my 'hurts' paled in comparison to the stories that I was hearing on a daily basis.  I wasn't looking to expose what was underneath my surface. I felt spoiled and stupid.  Certainly we had taken this 'getting help' thing way too far.  I can remember my dietician (a recovered anorexic) sitting down with me and saying, "Why don't you just eat your meals and work the program. You can always go back to what you were doing."  That clicked just a little bit for me.

Also, the fact that Remuda was Christ-centered did not mean that everyone was a Christian.  This treatment center was sought after because of its success rate. (Any connection there?)  So there were girls from various homes.  It was literally a mission field.  A lot of these women were truly down and out and quite accepting of the Gospel.  One girl who entered treatment just after me, told me one day that she prayed to received Christ.  Another girl was an atheist.  We sat at the same table one night.  After I prayed over our food, she told me, "You're good at that."  I thought, "Wow. Please take note that we're in the same place. It's not about being 'good' at anything."

I had a major realization on Thanksgiving.  We had to write out our life story.  This was an ongoing process for me and it caused a great deal of pain.  I began 'cutting' on my arm as an outlet.  Eventually one of the other girls urged me to tell someone.  After that I wasn't allowed to be alone since I had harmed myself.  I was also attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to deal with well, alcohol issues.  All of this was leading up to Thanksgiving Day.  I woke up that day and called my family.  It was okay and I thought I could handle it.  By that night, I was making my third call to my family.  I broke down.  I began to see that this 'thing,' this eating disorder, was costing me more than I was willing to pay.  It was like being tricked by my best friend who, in all actuality, was no friend at all. Needless to say, this was an eye opener.  I remember all of the other girls being so surprised to see me cry because up until that point, they had never seen anything but a smile on my face.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that my previous experience with a horse was being thrown from one?  Well, another turning point for me was when I decided to ride (excuse me here) that damn horse.  I cannot even tell you the difference in me as I rode on Brando. (If that horse could have fit in my suitcase, he'd be in Alabama as I type.)
In December, I had my family week. My family (minus my brother) flew to Arizona.  We were grouped with four other families.  Each girl was given a time for their 'Truth in Love".  This was when we sat in the middle of the room surrounded by the other families and told our loved ones how we had gotten to this point in our lives.  We had a family therapist as well as our individual therapist that we had been working with up to this point.  It was a time to accept responsibility where we needed to and also a time to hear as well as be heard. 

I was quite possibly dehydrated after my turn.  It was like ripping a well-attached scab off and in my case, it was necessary.  My family seemed to gain a lot by being surrounded with others who were facing similar struggles.  There's so much to knowing that you aren't alone.  The week ended on a high note as we were able to have our very own rodeo. 

I was blessed to return to Alabama and celebrate Christmas with my family.  I even got my nose pierced before returning to Arizona.  Craziness.  I didn't return to the same facility.  I had completed my stay in Wickenburg.  I went to Remuda's transitional treatment facility.  It was basically a cul-de-sac with five or so homes.  I lived with other girls and we had much more freedom.  

I returned to Alabama in mid-January.  Since I was the ‘perfect patient,’ it only made sense that I would transition perfectly back home.  Yeah, right.  I cringe at the next 1 1/2 to 2 year period.  I take full responsibility for my decisions and actions.  The 'returning' part was by far the hardest.  Remember how I had disappeared?  Well, now I was reappearing.  Only now I had cut 10 inches off of my long, dark hair and, oh yeah, the nose ring.  Most people didn't even recognize me.

I could not come to terms with the fact that the world didn't stop just because my life had taken a drastic detour.  A lot of people (well meaning) didn't know what to do with me.  Heck, I didn't know what to do with me.  I neglected to have a plan in place upon my return to 'normal' life.  It looked as though I was the biggest George Bush supporter as my college transcript was covered with a row of 'W's (for withdrawal). 

So many 'wounds' had been uncovered and left that way.  A born-again believer since 17, I was now not at all resembling my Savior.  I drank heavily and even tried to overdose one time on my anti-depressants.  My little recovery puppy, a chihuahua named Scarlet, was killed six months into my recovery.  Seriously?!?!

I've struggled with 'my story'.  I mourn over my actions and attitudes.  I remember specifically asking the Lord to take me at the very beginning of my ordeal.  I reasoned with Him that He could gain glory in my departure.  So many times I wandered why He hadn't done just that. 

Seeing as how I am an'all or nothing' person, I couldn't come to terms with the fact that my road to recovery wasn't nice and pretty.  I like for things to look well done. I just wanted my story to have clear transitions.  I was sick. I got help. I lived happily ever after singing the praises of the Lord. Period.

The Lord handled me in a way that I didn't see coming.  I thought I would experience a Paul salvation moment.  A bright light would shine.  I would be given instructions about what to do.  I would never be the same again.  Well, here's what happened:

It was December of 2002.  I was at a piano bar in Dothan, Alabama.  I saw this really good-looking guy.  With a hint of liquid confidence I approached this guy and said, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Spiderman?" (He favored Toby Maguire.)  He told me that his name was Ross and he got my number.

He tried calling me a few times, but I wouldn't answer his calls because I had met him in a bar. (Hypocrite.)  So I returned to that same piano bar the following February.  Guess who was there?  Mr. Ross K.  Granted it was only his 2nd or 3rd time ever being there.  I, on the other hand, felt like Norm from Cheers when I walked through the door and everyone exclaimed, "Ammmmyyyy." (Only partially kidding.)

I explained my reason for not answering his calls.  He said that he would call me again.  We realized that he would be in Troy the following weekend at my apartment complex. (We discovered that we had mutual friends.) 

The meeting at the apartment led to a date.  He picked me up and took me to the beach on a dinner cruise!  Our conversation revolved around the fact that we each knew Christ, but we were not walking with Him. 

So here's what the Lord did.  He showed me that by choosing to stay in my sin, I would be missing out.  My sin was costing me... everything. 

Ross and I dated two months and got engaged.  We married five months later.  The Lord lovingly drew us to Himself, both individually and, ultimately, as a couple.

We were married for three months and then we moved to Louisville, Kentucky where Ross began seminary.  I did have continuing struggles with anxiety and depression, but the Lord bonded us through those times.  My husband comforted me and loved me when I felt so unworthy of either response. 

Ross is now a full time pastor and I am a stay-at-home mommy to our two little ones.  Ellie Kate is 3 1/2 yrs old and Emmett is 1 1/2 yrs old.  I love, love, love what I do. My babies are so precious to me. Emmett's newest thing is to lay his head on my shoulder and hug me while saying, "Awwwww Weeee."  I'm “gone eat him aw up,” as Ellie Kate would say.

I am at a place now where I can give my testimony.  I have shared with a small group of women, and I was quoted in the Alabama Baptist newspaper in an article about eating disorders.  The Lord has brought me to a place where I can accept my story.  I know that I made some terrible choices in the process, but it makes me all the more grateful for my Savior's love and mercy. After all, if my story only pointed people to me then it would indeed be a wasted story.

Whatever challenges we face, I know that God is in control and I am blessed to walk with my Lord through today and each coming day.”

Amy, thank you so much for sharing your incredible earthquake story. I know that it will bring hope to many who are suffering in silence, feeling isolated and alone. All of us have our inner battles and demons to fight. But I believe that when we bring secrets out into the light, they lose their power over us. Your honesty, vulnerability, and humor are inspirational. Your voice is powerful and brave. Your story of redemption is a beautiful blessing for all who hear it. Keep speaking your truth, sister. It does set us free.

Amy’s family blog:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time Bomb Ticking

It was a long, busy weekend.

Wonderful wedding of the baby of one of my kindergarten friends.  Hosted the brunch for 60 the next morning, went home and packed, got 5 hours sleep, left for the airport in a storm.

Back to LA in time to help my baby pack for a study-abroad trip to Europe. Took her to the airport, after rushing by Target for last-minute necessities. Errands, then back to babysit James while his parents went to their small-group gathering.

He’s always funny when he hasn’t seen me for a while. Plays tricks. Laughs a lot. Flirts up a storm with me. Makes me fall in love all over again.

We walked down to the Farmer’s Market and picked up some fresh fruits and veggies, then came back to Munchkin Manor. Still on Georgia-time, I could hardly keep my eyes open.

I will spare you the details of why a bath was necessitated, but there was just no other way to deal with a potty situation. While James splashed away and talked to himself and his bathtoys, I lay down on the bed in the next room. (Don’t worry: I’d hear him if he drowned.)

He had a grand old time in there, splashing and laughing. I rested my eyes for a little bit.

Until I decided he was probably turning into a prune.

But he wouldn’t get out. I’d pull the plug on the water, and he’d stop it back up.  So I just sat there on the toilet for a while, too tired to argue.

He pulled the shower curtain closed and hid from me. Then he slowly peeked around it and gave me the most utterly adorable, delicious little grin before diving back into the water.

And a pang of déjà vu hit my heart so hard I almost fell off the toilet:

For a millisecond, he was his mother, 26 years ago.

Now this is a little strange, because he looks pretty much (exactly) like his daddy. But every now and then, I’ll see an expression on that child’s face that came straight down the maternal line.

I have a faded picture of his mommy in a bathtub with that very same delicious little grin on her face.

I’m not sure why it hit me so hard. Maybe because I was tired and jet-lagged. Maybe because I’d been with kindergarten friends over the weekend. Maybe because I’d just put my baby on a plane to Europe. Maybe because we’ve gotten some bad news about a family member’s health.

Maybe all of the above.

It just about did me in.

It was wonderful and sad at the same time.  The inexorable passage of time, and all that.  Sunrise, sunset.  Violins.

But it had a twist to it.

Because at the moment I felt it, there was also a stab… of realization… of astonishment…

that when his mother gave me that little grin 26 years ago…when I snapped that picture…

all the while, behind those big aqua-blue eyes of hers, behind that mischievous smile,

in the back of that precious little head,

a silent, hidden monster grew.

And no one knew.


I’m not writing this to make every young mother who’s reading become enveloped in a blanket of fear. I’m not trying to be melodramatic nor instill panic. My purpose is not to evoke a mental series of worst-case “what ifs.” The vast, vast majority of a mother's worst imaginings never come to pass.

But I wonder…

if I had had even an inkling of the existence of such a beast…

if I could have conceived that there was a time-bomb ticking away in that tiny blonde head…

what would I have done differently?

(Apart from the scenario of doing everything humanly possible to prevent its detonation.)

How would I have lived differently?

Would I have had more patience?

Would I have been softer, gentler?

Lived more in the moment?

Let the unimportant stuff go?

Spent less time on my house?

Would I have loved more, laughed more, lived more?

Cherished more?

I wonder…

If I had been given a grim glimpse of foreknowledge into the future…if I had understood how precarious it all was…

Would it have made every second matter more? Made every day more precious?

I wonder…

because we’ve all got time bombs ticking away in these earthly tents of ours.

And none of us know the day or hour when they’ll go off.

As Francis Schaeffer asked, “How, then, should we live?”


"...What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short..." (I Corinthians 7:29)

Sometimes I think Blogger exists just to drive me insane.

For instance, I've been fiddling around with trying to make the font size and spacing consistent on the previous blog. I had to put it up "as is" yesterday because of time constraint.

Anyway, the 'preview' will look normal , but then it will be screwed up again by the time I hit "publish."

For my 50th birthday, a friend gave me a cute little book about what NOT to do after the half-century mark. One of them was something like "I will NOT allow gadgets to get the best of me!"

We helped each other with that when I was home. I taught her how to do one new thing on her Mac, and she returned the favor. We were jubilant because,  a.) We didn't have to pay the Geek Squad a hundred dollars for two measly questions, and  b.) We didn't have to endure the eye-rolling and loud sighing of our college-age children.


Old ladies of the Internet, UNITE!

Any tips are welcome.

Thanks, the Management

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Becky and Marielle

Becky's Story
"...If you have capacity for another earthquake story, here is mine.    
I lost my younger brother Tom to suicide eleven years ago at the age of 34.  He was a wonderful Christian man with a heart as big as Texas.  He lived in Denver after college having fallen in love with the Rockies as a young boy and was a superb athlete, focusing on cycling, mountain climbing, and triathlons. He was well loved and respected by many, evidenced by having four children named after him before his untimely young death, including my younger son, Tommy.  Unfortunately, he battled severe clinical depression, particularly in the last six years of his life.  He never married, fearing he would pass on the gene. He was hospitalized twice with debilitating bouts that lasted for several months each.  Approaching another, the disease took away his hope and he hung himself and went to heaven to be with Jesus.  He left a tableau of items neatly arranged on his kitchen table: a note to his family telling us he loved us and asking for forgiveness from God, his Bible open to the passage in Matthew about Jesus driving the demons out of the swine, and family pictures. 
Police came to my parents door in Kansas City to give them the worst news a parent could ever receive. Then my parents called me and my middle brother with the same tragic news and in the blink of an eye, the world we had all known had been shattered in a million pieces.  I am struck by how it seems that very often it is the phone that delivers the news of sudden earthquakes in our lives.  Somehow, my husband got me on a plane home to Kansas City a few hours later.  I remember him helping me pack, and breaking down with the thought that I was packing to attend my little brother’s funeral who had died by his own hand.  It was impossible to process at the time.  Then I had the thought that the only thing I could imagine that would be worse than this would be if it were one of my own sons.  And then it hit me – that’s what my parents were experiencing.  They had just lost their baby.  And our family would never be as it once was.  
The plane was stalled at the gate at National after boarding. I was just staring out the window; numb, shocked and grieving. Then an image appeared in my window.  It was an image of Jesus in burgundy robes sitting next to a seven year old blonde haired little boy with his fists up to his eyes, crying.  It was exactly the face of my brother at that age.  Jesus had one arm around him in the most reassuring way. The image stayed in the window until we took off about twenty minutes later. I knew it was significant and somehow found the presence of mind to write down a description of the image on the back of my office directory, the only piece of paper I had on me, so I would remember it. In the days and weeks and months and years of grieving that followed, I returned to this image again and again. It became Psalm 34:18 to me - "God is close to the broken-hearted."  It became a message from God that my brother was safely in His arms.  It became "mourning with hope". 

I did many years of what I call "bibliogrief."  I read everything I could on depression and suicide.  I interviewed Tom's friends, doctors, business colleagues, neighbors, anyone that would talk to me, to piece together pieces of his life and final days. I had to find a way to get my arms around what had happened. Suicide is such a unique grief, because it is accompanied by so much anger and guilt for the family, especially a Christian family.  You ask yourself a thousand times over, "What didn't we see?" "if only . .", "what could we have done to prevent him from doing this?", “How could he have done this to us?”, “Is he in heaven?”, “Can God forgive this?” I got involved in suicide prevention and suicide survivors groups, and a group addressing the response of the faith community to suicide and its survivors. It was all helpful in my grief journey as I traversed from anger to understanding to peace.  But I kept coming back to the image. 
When my brother died, thank goodness we were in a small group Bible Study at our church, The Falls Church, as that group was a rock for us during those initial months.  A woman we had met in the group was also a talented artist.  Mary became a dear friend and I learned that she had also lost a sibling just a few years earlier.  We talked a lot about sibling loss and that common connect to your childhood.  A few years later, I told Mary about the vision and asked her if she would paint it for me, just so I would have a visual reminder of a time when God literally came down to touch me deeply in a time of need.  Mary took the assignment on as a special spiritual project.  It took many years to complete, but I knew Mary was the only one who could paint it with the reverence it deserved.  And she captured it just as the way it was in my airplane window. We named the painting "The Comfort". 
I still miss my brother and, at times, I am still seized by grief for his loss – the waves still come unexpectedly and there is nothing to do but let them come.  Ecclesiastes says “there is a time for weeping”.  And when the loss is great the weeping is also great. But God has taken me on a healing journey and has enabled me to rest in the peace that he is with Jesus and without pain, and one day I will see him again in heaven... 
I think prior to my own earthquake, my faith was real, but not really tested.  And truth be told, I relied more on my own perceived abilities to get through life than on God.  But I found one of the greatest lessons of an earthquake is understanding fully our complete and utter dependence on God for everything and that we are most definitely not in control.  The other great lesson is compassion.  I had never really been in a place where life was just so painful and hard to face that I didn’t even feel like I could get out of bed in the morning.  So I think tragedy also serves to open our own clenched and prideful hearts to others’ pain in ways we couldn’t before, because we have been at the bottom of the well ourselves.  And sometimes it just takes an earthquake to “get it”.  It did for me."  

Marielle's Story:

...My husband and I are about Katherine's age, and we are newlyweds (been married for a little over 2 years.) Our first year of marriage, I had a cancerous tumor taken out of my salivary gland.  This was followed by radiation for 6 weeks.  The experience was devastating. I had my surgery right around the time that Katherine had her stroke.  I definitely hadn't expected my first year of marriage to look like this!

Shortly after I finished radiation, I took on a very stressful job (I had just gotten my Master's degree right around the time of my surgery).  This job stressed me to the point of giving me chronic digestive issues. I still have them, and have faith that the Lord will heal me of the daily pain and discomfort that I am facing.  Thankfully, the cancer is in remission, praise the Lord!  :)   My prognosis looks good, and in the autumn, my  husband and I plan on trying for children.

Both yours and Katherine's blog has been the biggest godsend in my life.  Always a pessimist by nature, I agonized over what had happened to me and had little hope for the future.  As if my physical ailments weren't enough, my emotional issues really took a toll on my poor husband.  He tries to be here for me, but he is human after all.  

Reading Katherine's blog, and yours, has really helped me to increase my faith in God, taught me lessons about suffering in marriage, and how to be a mature Christian.  It is a lot of hard work.... as I'm sure you know!  Even on the mornings when it is hard to get up, I think, "maybe Katherine or her mom will post something today," and that helps to cheer me up.  Really.  Both your blogs have brought me to tears and inspired and encouraged me so much.  So thank you, for being open and transparent with your lives and experiences.


Thank you so much, Becky and Marielle,  for your willingness to honestly share your painful stories. 

Both touch upon a topic that I feel is still greatly misunderstood. 

Depression is a very serious and devastating condition that can affect anyone. Although there may be precipitating factors, clinical depression can rapidly become a biochemical issue which, if not treated, can be life-altering or, tragically, even life-destroying. 

It is not a faith issue or a strength-of-character issue. I have known many very strong people of great faith who have succumbed to this complex condition. It is naive and simplistic to believe that people suffering from depression can just "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." That can be like telling someone with cancer to "get well" without undergoing treatment. 

Sometimes it is not possible to climb out of the slimy pit of depression without help.

I feel that anyone suffering from depression deserves great compassion, not judgment. People I know who have experienced both intense physical pain and severe emotional pain have told me that they would willingly choose the former over the latter.

Including me.


I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire:
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
(Psalm 40:1-3)

If you are experiencing severe depression today, please know that there is hope.

I promise.

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:

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)