Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Diary of Days

She's been gone three months today.  And to be honest, I blame her a little for the sunless, rainy summer we've had since her passing=)  Too much sunshine left this world when God took her home.

I have a message from her on my Voxer app on my phone.  For those not familiar with the app, it's like text messaging only with voice messages.  There's a whole conversation on my phone between the two of us back in April, and it rips my heart out to listen to it, but I wouldn't let you delete it off my phone if you paid me all the money in the world either.  I keep silently hoping that in time it will delete itself, but probably not.  It will be there.  My last earthly reminder of a girl who ripped my heart open with her honest, shameless beauty and perspective on life.  The voice of a girl who got it.  Who knew how to be infectious for Christ in a way that was simply magnetic.  You couldn't help yourself but be drawn to who she was and how she lived life.

I've gone through my photo albums and made copies of all the photos I had of her.  Most of them were from middle school.  So many silly, silly, laugh out loud pictures!  Even in her memory, she makes me laugh and smile and giggle from the inside out.  I don't have one picture of her making a normal face with my children.  She was always making life a game for them and loving them unconditionally all the while.

My five year old cried every night after her death at bedtime.  The first month she cried inconsolably. There was no comfort for her tiny heart.  The second month, the crying was not as heart-wrenching, but still...every night.  We finally made it to her grave site mid-July where more deep tears ensued for all of us, saying those final goodbyes, writing some last words on some silly paper lanterns. (I know she loved her crazy, redneck, haphazard grave site.  She totally would have decorated it that way herself=)  And after my daughter shed those last deep tears by the grave, I could feel a weight lift off her soul as she stared out the car window on the way home.  She stopped crying after that.  For the most part, I think we've all stopped crying on most days, but not all.

Somewhere in there we managed to go on our first family vacation without her.  I cried my eyes out every day packing for that vacation.  We had specifically sought out a condominium this year that had enough beds for everyone.  No packing the air mattress.  Turns out we didn't have the need anyway.  I carefully slathered my children in sunscreen from head to toe, praying they didn't burn because they had never burned when she did it every year.  It was bittersweet, but God showed up and turned it into one of the best family vacations we've had in years.  It was such sweet fellowship.  Thank you Lord.

So much has changed since she left our lives.  So much is continuing to change.  As I wrote before, life goes on.  Still there's a place in my heart, my life, my mind, my soul where a little of the sadness lingers for a friend gone.  I think that's the scar left from the wound that opened and poured fresh three months ago.  I've never cried that hard in my entire life.  My husband even said he'd never heard me cry so desperately broken before.  It scared him a little, and with the way I cry about things on a regular basis, that's saying something.  I loved her, and it was too soon.  Too soon for her to go.

So much has changed since.  So many good things.  So many pictures I wish I could text her, tweet her. I choose to believe she can see them whether that's true or not.

I wonder about her family daily.  I pray for their wounds, their scars that are left behind because Lord knows if I have one, there's is bigger. 

Her little sis came to babysit our kids the other night.  Joey and I smiled across the table at each other that date night, comforted by the fact that a Veale was spending time with our kids again.  She said she was fine when I asked her how she was doing, holding back the tears that dared to peek around the corners of her eyes.  I didn't press.  How many times has she had to try and answer that question?!?!?!?  There's no good answer.  But the long, hard hug she gave me when she left that night said more than enough, and I'm telling her comforted me.  Thank you, Emma.  I wanted to comfort her, and instead she wound up comforting me instead!  He scar has to be bigger and deeper and more tender than mine, and yet she comforted me.  What a testimony to the strength and love of God that lives in the hearts of this whole family!  I am blown away.  Blown away.

And so life goes on.  I don't think anyone is capable of answering the question, 'How are you doing?' after something like this, especially the family.  'Fine,' is really the only appropriate answer.  All the things you know to be true are still true.  There's no need to rehash them, reopen the wound.  You still miss her.  You still have days you cry when you think about her.  You still wish she was around for certain events and happenings.  You still want to give her a hug and laugh with her again.  None of those things has changed, but you're fine just the same. 

God is still good, and every one's stories are still being written.  God is still sovereign, and He has used her life as an instrument to change the stories of so many for the better.  For me, her life has set me on a path to pursue joy, true joy because she knew it in Christ.  In the midst of all her suffering, there is not a doubt in my mind she knew real joy in her lifetime, and I want that.  A joy that seeps into every crevice of my being and oozes into the lives of others.  I'm determined now more than ever to find it and share it.

What does her life inspire or encourage you to do?  What imprint did she leave behind on your heart?  Because the answer to those questions is the real reason why we miss her.  Praying God helps you find the answers to those questions for your own life.  Those answers are a comfort and a hope in mine.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Exam Table Lessons: Lessons with Littles

Today I took my 5 year old to remove one stitch from a wound at the doctor.  One stitch.  She was perfectly fine until it came time to roll her onto her stomach to remove the stitch.  The one stitch.  Then what ensued was an out of body experience where it took three adults (mainly me, her mother) to man-handle her, body slam her, then pin her to the exam table, so in a fraction of a milli-second, one stitch could be removed from her precious bottom.  I've never heard my child scream like that before.  I'm pretty sure every other parentin adjacent rooms have never heard screaming like that before.  I warped through a million emotions in those two minutes of wrestling and ten seconds of pinning your own child down to a table.  Shock.  Horror.  A sense of complete loss of control. Extreme embarrassment. Hurt for my child. Compassionate understanding.  Dismay. A sense of pain of betrayal that I was the one holding her down. Relief that it was over.  Then anger--slow, seething, controlled burning anger.  Then an overwhelming deep sadness.

Why didn't she just trust me?  Why didn't she just trust the doctor that we've seen umpteen times a year since she was born?

We had talked about it for days.  I had prepped her that it would not hurt, and if it did, it would feel like a quick, short pinch.  We had discussed the expected behavior.  We had stern conversations about no screaming, no fighting, no fit pitching techniques of any kind.  The doctor had even come in and shown her exactly what was going to happen.  Let her play with the pair of tweezers on her own skin, the doctor's skin, and my skin, so she would know what it was going to feel like.

And still she refused to trust.

And you know what happened?  The doctor took the stitch out.  None of her screaming and tantrum throwing changed the outcome one iota.  What did happen is she was traumatized, I was traumatized, the nurse was stressed, the doctor was stressed, and anyone within ear shot was probably disturbed.  All because she wouldn't trust the authorities over her.

When the doctors left, I pulled her close and held her tight until the tears and breathing returned to a controlled level.  I helped her get dressed, then I got down on my knees and looked her in the eyes and told her she must never do that again.  I was stern, not angry.  I was firm, not uncaring.  She got the point.  She knew she had done wrong.  She knew I was not pleased.  It would have been cruel to spank her, but unwise to reward her for bravery she didn't show.  So we went home, and life goes on.

And oddly enough I can't quit putting myself in her shoes.  I can't get past the idea that how she behaved is no different then how I behave with God on more days than I like to admit, in more ways than I care to claim.

Don't we all refuse to trust?

When we make decisions, we seek counsel from family, friends, the internet, so that we are highly informed before going into a situation.  A new job, a move, a change of school, a marriage--really anything that requires major life change or the need for healing of some sort.  Many of us even have people that come along side us and show us what we can expect, how it will feel, what it will look like.  God is always perfect in His provision.  He knows that when it comes to the big leaps of faith in life, often times the soil needs to be prepped before planting and growth can begin.  We read our Bibles and stand firm in the knowledge of how we know we should react, and yet when it comes time to roll over and blindly trust???

I don't know about you, but typically my reaction is not much prettier than my five year old's.

I wrestle with God for control. I scream out prayers of fear and trembling, lashing out at the ones trying to help me.  I struggle to see and understand and watch what God wants and what He's trying to do in my life.  I throw a traumatic, spiritual temper tantrum.  They are fewer and farther between the older I get, but no less damaging every time.

And you know what happens?  God still allows the change to come.  He orchestrated it.  He knew it had to happen before the beginning of time.  He knew it needed to happen for my own good, my own safety, my own healing, my own betterment.  He tried to prep me, to prepare my mind and body and heart for the change to come.  He did all He could do, then He asked me to trust Him.  Trust Him.

Because when I don't, when the terrible, spiritual temper tantrum occurs, I traumatize myself, I hurt my relationship with my Lord, I stress the people around me trying to help, and I disturb others who I don't even know are watching--and others are always watching.  All because I won't trust.

Trust means to trust.  It means to rely on what you know to be true.  All that counsel you sought that God brought across your path via anything, all the people that answered every question they could, all the God moments you experienced in your Bible study in preparation for the change you know, you feel is coming--lean into that.

But more importantly, lean into your God.  If you can't bring yourself to trust any of the things God tried to put in your path in preparation, then by all means, trust Him!  Has He not proven Himself faithful in even the small things?  Food on your table?  Kind words in a moment of need?  Is He not good?  Look at the intricacies of the creation around you!  Is He not sovereign?  His will WILL be done.  Can you not trust Him?

Because if you can, then you will take a deep breath when the fear and panic starts to rise into a scream in the back of your throat.  You will close your eyes and grab the hand of your God who walks beside you every moment of every day, and you will squeeze hard, trusting that His word, His promises will be enough.  You will blindly roll over and allow the Great God of the Universe to be your strength, your guide, and your comfort in times of change or need.  You will close your eyes in prayer and maybe a few tears, and you will trust.

And you know what happens?  God still allows the change to come.  Only this time, you have grown in your relationship with the Lord because you now have experienced more fully what it means to actually trust, to actually rely on all the knowledge you have of the One True God, putting that knowledge to the test.  You are not disappointed.  You're not traumatized.  Your relationship with the Lord is actually stronger.  The ones there to help you get to rejoice with you in your peace and joy, and the ones watching that you don't even see, they are not disturbed.  You have not been the source of a negative experience for them. And maybe, instead of just going about life as normal when it's all said and done, you will actually be rewarded for your bravery and faith. God does promise to reward those whose hearts fully trust in Him.

God has been teaching me the importance of trusting Him for quite some time.  Today He gave me a very, vivid visual that will resonate in my mind every time I am challenged to trust. I will remember and know what the consequences of my choice to trust could be.

The outcome will not change, but how myself and everyone around me is effected in the process will be dramatically effected.

Will you choose to not trust, allow fear to overwhelm your every thought and action, negatively effecting everyone around you?  OR will you choose to trust, allowing peace to overwhelm your every thought and action, positively effecting everyone around you?

One thing I also learned today...this is a skill honed and sharpened and practiced and bettered over time.  I'm 33 years old, and I'm still learning this.  I don't blame my 5 year old for completely losing it on probably her first real life experience with learning to trust in a scary situation.  Our nature is not to trust, not to believe anyone knows what they're talking about except ourselves.  The lies in my head wanted me to blame myself for not developing a deeper sense of trust between mother and daughter up to this point, but then I realized I did literally everything I could for her, she had to choose to trust me, to trust the doctors.  It was her choice, and as her mom, there's really nothing I could have done that I had not already tried or done.  I feel sorry for her, just as I'm sure God has mercy on us.  But she will live another day to trust again, and maybe next time, it will get a little better.

Here's praying next time, you trust a little better too.  I know that's my goal=)

PS--By the way, my daughter said taking the stitch out only felt like a little pinch, not even close to as bad as a shot.  Sigh.  So take that for what it's worth too, and let that sink in.  Like, I'm thinking most of the time, the thing we fear the most turns out to not be quite so bad once it's over or maybe we get a little distance from it.

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