Category: encouragement

Five Years Later

A friend of mine always gets a kick about how I keep track of time…

That was 5 years ago this spring.

That was before I started getting pregnant again.

That’s when we were at the theater.

That’s when I was Tweeting.

That’s back from our road days.

 

…and on, and on.

Last week, I started Tweeting again. I need to for my job, but in order to relearn the language, I started using my personal account again. Like all things social media, it’s a giant rabbit hole, not just of information, but of emotions.

I soon “saw” people I hadn’t seen in awhile and got caught up on one of their stories. Perhaps the most emotional one for me is the story of Sara Frankl, known on Twitter as “@gitzengirl.”

I read Sara’s blog for years. And in the middle of a crazy, turmoil-filled season in my life, she passed away after an agonizing battle with a rare disease.

I am delighted to see her legacy is moving forward, captured in a book and a foundation and the constant reminder to CHOOSE JOY.

Rod and Kel's Beach House

In five years, literally everything about my own life has changed. We moved two more times, and as of this July, we now live in our “BEACH HOUSE.” Through connections very divinely-ordered, we “have our own house” again, one mile from the ocean, with palm trees and golf carts and a salty breeze. It’s unbelievable…

kids Aug2016

We had three more children… two of them born to heaven, and one of them growing like a tall Carolina pine tree. I will never understand the baby that came to us (one year post-tubal-ligation) this January, and I may never quite get over saying goodbye to our Jesse at the end of February (2 years from the day of our first miscarriage), after seeing his perfect beating heart. But I am grateful for the new filter through which I view life… it’s always surprising, it’s always abundant, and we are never alone.

This year of 2016 has been full of the unexpected. We lost friends to moves, and gained friends who moved closer. We lost friends to disagreements, but gained others through grace. We lost a few dear friends to death, far too young in our eyes, but welcomed a few special little ones earthside. And I learned that redemption of sadness and loss maybe doesn’t look how we always thought it would.

our beach at full moon

And I am reminded that every story ends with an ellipses. There is always more to be told…

As I write this today my heart is full on many levels. I have missed coming to this place and sharing, but I know my life is so “abundant” right now that this is a privilege rather than an appointment. It’s one I will take. We never know what is coming tomorrow, so the life in our hearts should be expressed RIGHT NOW.

Save

100 happy days

#100happydays#100happydays is a Facebook challenge.

{You can read more about it here}

I decided to assign this one to myself today because I felt it first. I felt it when my phone pinged after a crazy day at work and cancelled plans for after, no plan for dinner and no nap (still hanging on to the last days of first trimester, y’all). I looked and saw my friend Deanna’s words

I discretely snapped this for you.

What was it she snapped? A photo of my daughters’ pediatrician in Illinois during her kids’ own visit. Oh, how we loved Dr. C.! And how we miss him. He was so fabulous… had three daughters of his own, never panicked or gave us trendy advice, always smiled and spent time with us, and when we were losing our health insurance, made sure we had plenty of samples for Kaity’s nebulizer.

We have a good doctor here, but when you spend 2 straight years of well visits and plenty of sick ones with your little almost-Irish-twins, you grow attached.

That Deanna knew the picture would make me smile, possibly make my day… well, that is pretty fabulous too.

Feeding the birds leftover tortillas at Chipotle
Feeding the birds leftover tortillas at Chipotle

I think we often equate a happy result with a grand gesture… planning, formality, fanciness, bigness. And then, when we look back at the times we spend preparing The Grand, the effort was often more draining than the result deserved. Or perhaps, the process was happier than the outcome.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the simple. Look at your day. What moments made you smile? What notions made you laugh? Did you give anyone a hug or an encouraging word? Did you appreciate anything you saw in nature? Did you listen to your favorite song one time? Did you call a friend or hold your husband’s hand?

It doesn’t have to take much. It doesn’t take much. When I look around and see dissatisfaction or even misery in our first-world experience, it is usually due to unrealistic expectations or misplaced energy.

A trip to Target... Randa's not in pain. She's singing, I think :)
A trip to Target… Randa’s not in pain. She’s singing, I think :)

So I take the challenge of 100 days. I accept the opportunity to find pleasure in one of my favorite Friends episodes being on at bedtime, or my child saying something completely hilarious first thing in the morning… to be satisfied by a family outing to Target on a Sunday night or to be fulfilled by a 4-text conversation with a faraway friend.

Happiness is accessible. It is simple. It is a choice.

Take the challenge with me. And clap along…!

We were made for this

kaitlyn_dec2013 She runs outside with the other girls, excitedly whooping and ready for adventure. They’re all cute as buttons, pictures of what little girls look like in their homemade t-shirts and bare feet, or dress up clothes and funny socks.

I look at the window just minutes later (so grateful for the view to the outside, and so grateful for the sprawling, shared yards we have with friendly neighbors). She is there, alone, playing on the climbing wall, having an adventure with herself.

It’s taken awhile, but I’ve learned that these are not sad adventures, and this is not a lonely child. Sometimes, most times, she does not fit in. She is the one with the “thing” that I can’t quite put my finger on, the thing that isn’t a diagnosis or a label. She is going to dress her way, imagine her way, and demand her way. She is going to challenge me and she is going to be challenged.

She is mighty. She is a leader. And she is a child. And that last one sometimes trumps the first two, and the brave warrior comes crashing down, with angry accusations and heart-wrenching tears that break her mama’s heart, because I never wanted my five-year-old to feel that level of fear, of uncertainty, of rejection, of humiliation, or frankly, of intensity.

~

On church day, a friend comes to me. She knows me pretty well by now, and she embraces me as she tells me what she feels God has shown her. It’s confirmation, so I know it’s true. One daughter, she says, is just like her daddy. And this one, she is like you. God is showing you what you were like, so you can see… so you can see…

Like me? This five year old with bravery that I envy? With confidence that I long for? With coolness that I strive for? She is me? Did I leave others in awe? Did I leave my parents in manic states of amusement and frustration and utter bewilderment at my brilliance? Surely not.

But now, colored with perspective, I watch her today. I remember the stories I began to write at age 6, excited ramblings and detailed imaginings. I remember how my heart reached out for others, wanted to be like them, but could never quite change enough to fit. I know that looking back at the girl I was…age 6, age 9, age 12, age 18… age 35, that I was beautiful, but I didn’t see it, so I tried to be something else, anything else.

icor12-4I look in the mirror and see the same blue eyes and pale skin as our youngest child, the one who does not look at all like her three older siblings, (who’ve captured their daddy’s little bit of Cherokee blood, deep brown eyes, and great ability to tan), the one whose flowing blond mane calls to mind “Irish Lass” or “Tinkerbell” until people realize it’s more like “Buzz Lightyear” or “Thor.” Can I have the same care, the same grace, for my own reflection as I have for my baby girl? Can I accept, even celebrate, that those uncategorizable differences my Father gave to me make me special and fun and even great? Can I accept the beauty that others insist is there, in spite of the wiry grays and the extra pounds and general feelings of awkwardness? Can I apply the lesson that adventures of my own making, taken alone, are acceptable and even enough, if they are what I am meant to have?

~
I look outside again, just after writing those words, and see the girls have regrouped, then run off again, except now one has stayed behind with my warrior, swinging on a tire just feet away, companionable but separate. Companionable but separate: kind of like my husband, reading across the room but smiling knowingly at me on the occasions I look up… or my Dad, who sometimes smirks and shakes his head at my “Kelly-ness”… or those friends, some 1000 miles away and some at the next desk, who know my fake smile from my real one (even on Facebook) and when to call me on it.

We were not made to be just like everyone else. We were not made always to fit in the crowd, but sometimes to get lost in it, and sometimes run circles around it. She will be ok, and so will I. And if this resounds in your spirit, so will you.

~ November 2013