We are Good Timber.

Life hurts.

SO many are feeling all of that pain right now, so many that I know. I keep reminding myself – Life is hard but God is good… I don’t know why we get these heavy, hard and huge piles of pain, it is just part of it. I also know that as much pain as you can have piled on- there is joy there for you have too. I keep coming back to a poem my friend gave me, she printed it out really nice and I hang it in my bathroom closet. I see it every morning when I get ready for the day. It is everything…

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I remind myself that no one with a good life gets to 70 and describes life as easy or not littered with great loss. I remind myself that grief and loss are equal to the love… you can’t miss someone you didn’t love. I know that in the beginning after Madeline died I couldn’t imagine feeling joy or happiness- but those pop into my life often now. I know that I have felt immense pain and hurt, felt broken beyond repair… and somehow all of that pain and hurt built me differently.

I like to think of my life as a tree… like at the end of it all if I looked at my ‘rings’ that I grew each year there will be a variety… there will be years of draught and pain… even though those look like years with low growth it was HARDER to grow then. Those years look like years of little growth but those rings are the ones that build us better. I imagine those years of lots of rain and lots of sun warrant thicker rings, they are the years that allow us to grow big and build up a firm trunk for the next draught. Those ‘easy’ years are a bit of gift, a little reminder that Life is good, really hard but amazing.

You might be the one hurting really big right now… I know hurt. I know pain. I know joy. I know missing. I know anger. I know it all… I know loss and divorce. I am sorry for the pain… I want you to know that you are not alone. Your story might sound like one that no one else has lived, but you are wrong. Your story might be more than you can bear, more than you can carry- let some others come in and carry it with you. Let Him. When you feel like you can’t walk anymore- sit. When you feel like a 500 pound person is sitting on top of you… let them, then stand up and walk on. When you feel like it is all your fault… remind yourself that we are all just broken people, all of us. We do the best with what we have when we have it…

I want to remind you that you aren’t all alone… that while life is building one of your ‘draught’ layers I am here, He is here… so many are here. There will be years to come that are full of sun and rain… you are Good Timber. We are Good Timber…

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Madeline’s Headstone… Her Good Timber…
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Failed Plans?

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The thing about life is that it never, never, never, ever goes as planned. Imagine me saying that like the start of a Disney movie… with that solid voice and a story to back it up. It never goes as planned, like neva-eva.

I remind myself and reiterate this fact many times a day, sometimes I just put it on repeat and let that take my brain over. Inevitably something will happen that royally screws up the day and guess what… the day must go on. It is just the way of the world, always has been and I imagine it always will be. Even when we like the Jetson’s our little spaceships will run out of gas, our robot maid will drop dishes, our perfect kids will fight or make a crazy mess… our husband will tick us off or our friend in the galaxy next door will not be able to show up last minute. So is life… now and forever…

I like to think God likes to keep us on our toes, keeping true to that faith part- you know believe and know without seeing. He tests us to make sure we are good, kind people… even when the world isn’t looking. I guess it is part of His plan, you know the plan that almost neva-eva lines up with ours???

I think I am good at rolling with the punches, embracing plan b (or d or g) and figuring out ways to fix a situation to be an adventure. Honestly the number of events that went my way in my life are pretty few and far between- it rained and flooded the night of my wedding, Madeline’s delivery was anything but what I expected, life was exhausting and didn’t look like I thought it would… my lovely died, my marriage fell apart… and etc.etc.etc. I could go on all night…

It has taken 30+ years to live in a way that I embrace the fact that my plans are not.at.all.the.Big.Plan. It has taken 30+ years to see the light and funny in God’s sense of humor, and embrace His knowledge of the future. I trust Him… even when it royally screws up my Friday.

These past weeks I have been SOOOOOO busy… from Madeline’s Tea and Birthday I have had 5 or 6 Best Day Ever’s, 3 or 4 events, started working fulltime at school, tried to pull a normal fun summer together for my girls and tried to enjoy the small bits of time I have to relax. In this past month my car has had a couple issues, that sound terrible but thankfully my Mechanic is like an angel with a wrench, he gets me back on track. Both times my car had issues I needed to cancel plans or appointments. I was driving down the road last week on my way to Amelia’s appointment and my car started acting funny and the engine light came on. I stayed calm, called Bob and pricelined a rental car. I dropped my car and hitched a ride to the rental and the problem was solved… I could have been mad but I reminded myself that nothing.planned.works. I told my brain- little deal. I was rewarded with an upgrade to a fancy grandma car that drove really freakin’ fast. I enjoyed the leather seats, but my Jeep is home tonight and I missed her.

I am grateful… for the nuisance of a broken down Jeep. Challenges like that remind me that in the grand scheme of life, in the BIG PLAN, it is a little deal. It can be fixed. I can make do. I remind myself to see the ‘little deal’ in most situations. Life has some really big curve balls, some ‘big deal’s’ and I need to save my energy for those. Death, divorce, separation, broken friendships… deeper hurt need more of us. I am grateful for the ‘little deals’. I have gotten through a lot of ‘big deals’ and sooooo many ‘little deals’… but they have built me to be this very me.

I am grateful for all of this story… it is my story. I do not understand so much of this, I don’t know why my lovely is gone… I don’t know why my marriage broke (well I do know some) but I trust that He does… and He is building this life beautifully full and blessed with the broken. I trust Him…

I know that Madeline is traveling this journey with me, guiding me and sometimes pushing me in the direction that will build me best. I am grateful for the man God set into my life to adventure with and experience lots of Plan B’s together… He chose well.

Thanks Big Guy… for all of it. I am grateful for the broken, the fixed, the hurt, the joy, the fun and the crappy… it is my story…

Live life better…

“In this life we have choices, so many choices. We can choose to smile when we wake up, we can choose to laugh when our heart hurts and we can choose to stay mad and hard when someone hurts us. We choose.” Parenting.com – Erin Musto

It feels like so long ago and only yesterday that I had the opportunity to write a piece for Parenting.com, that began with these words. It was years and seasons ago-  my life is so different now, but every one of those words I still know and believe. All of those words are still the core of my soul, my words I live by. I fail sometimes, but don’t we all?

Lately this quote resonates very deeply in me. I see this world full of so much chaos, anger, resentment, guilt and shame. I see families broken by choices, and often pride. I see hearts not willing to forgive, not ready to let go. I see blame thrown everywhere but within…

I know that I am not perfect, no one is. I try, I succeed… I try, I fail so I wake up and try again- the best I can. For the most part I see the light in people, I let go of the hurt and I trudge on through the hard stuff… knowing there is amazing intertwined in the hard. I choose to see light, when I am blanketed in dark. I choose to let go, even when it hurts- life is lighter with less. I choose to be positive, when other’s want to pile on the negative. Life is ridiculously difficult and lovely all together… without the dark we could never know real light, without the hurt we could never know true joy and without the bad relationships we could never know the value of the great ones.

Lately this world is so very hard, so very broken. People are so divided and angry… there have been so many tragedies, so much loss. Young children dying of cancer, drowning… family friends overdosing and losing their battle… a murder back home claimed the life of a father, a husband, a coach- a Trooper. Every one of these tragedies has now been written in the book of life…

This is the part where we get to choose. We get to choose to live this life better, live it how we should have all along. All of these people we lost on this journey are still a part of us, we carry them along. We honor them by honoring our days here on Earth. We live better…

Living better means choosing light, choosing to see positive, choosing to step up and do the jobs that this life needs. Choose to respond with positive and building words, join together to bring those souls along… think hard about how your respond and what you carry with you.

I fully believe in accountability of actions and let me tell you, the man who murdered that father, that Trooper… needs to be accountable in the way that the law deems. We however get to choose to let him go, put his negative soul away. We can choose to change this, to work to keep those Troopers, those mothers and fathers safe. We can choose to show his children light and love and care… show them the love he can’t gift them now.

In those families who lost children to cancer or drowning- we honor them. We tell the best stories about them, we carry those families FOREVER. We change what we can and we show the light that is lost in their hearts. We shine light on those families. We choose to live our days the best we can in honor of those who have no more days here.

For those who lost their loved ones to addiction- love them up. Stand in that momma’s shoes for a few minutes… give love, show light and comfort. Go forward and work to change this, share that story and work to change it for the future.

Live life better. Live it for the ones who are no longer here… choose to live and love and show light and LET GO.

I see so many families wrapped up in disagreements that break their family. I see it in my own family and I see it in so many other families. I have been the one to say hurtful things and hold on to anger. I have been the one to spout words that hurt. I have felt those words from others. It stings. It is so hard to forgive or let go. I also know that much of that is pride. Pride helps us prolong forgiveness. Pride breaks so many humans. Forgiveness builds some of the strongest parts of us…

We choose happy, light and laughter… and we choose anger, resentment, guilt and shame. We choose forgiveness. Life is hard, hurt is hard, forgiveness is hard… but we can do hard things. We can keep living, keep laughing, keep moving, keep crying, keep shining… we can choose to forgive and let go.

My daughter is gone, never to grow or sit and chat with me again, not here on this Earth. I have to fulfil this part of the journey with no Madeline to laugh with or argue with, no Madeline to see grow and become some new bit of herself. She is gone. I am here. I know what it feels like to NEVER hear your daughter’s voice again. I know what it is like to have a broken family that just doesn’t feel like it can fit together. I know what it is like to be betrayed at an ultimate level. I know what it is like to feel anger, to feel rage. I know what it is like to hurt so much I can not find a part of me that doesn’t hurt. I know what it is like to be so angry at another person that I try to break them. I know what it is like to not forgive…

I also know what it is like to forgive people who have betrayed me in the most hurtful way. I know what it is like to let go of anger for a family member and just forgive them. I know what it is like to forgive my ex-husband for breaking my world. I know what it is like to be mad at God and let it go… give it to Him. I know what it is like… it is never worth not hearing your daughter’s voice again, never worth missing your loved one forever, never EVER worth it.  Pride is not worth building the broken and missing…

But I choose to live better. I choose to forgive. I choose let go of the heavy and enjoy the light. I choose to see the love and tell the anger to go ‘eff off’. I choose. You choose too. You choose how you live, you can live better. Live better in honor of those who have no more days here. It isn’t worth it to live lower and carry the anger around. I promise. We don’t get to choose the hurdles, the challenges, the blessings, the pain or the end… but we can choose how we live better with it all.

Choose to live better… better for Joel, Jason, Parker, Andrew, Lorenz, Cheyanne… just do it.  Live better.

Pieces of peace…

Grief is a hard topic to bring along, but it is one that I bring everywhere.  I understand grief, and its direct relationship to love.  Grief is a measure of love.  We are all going through life with our own hard stuff, our own losses- death, divorce and life changes.  It is my favorite thing to connect and speak and give a safe space to share all of those pieces that impact each of us.  Imagine if we learned, early on, that we all are carrying hard things, we are all a little bit broken- but what we do with our broken and how we treat other broken people can change a lot. 

Recently I was gifted an opportunity to work on a project at Pinewood School, a Peace Garden.  I love creating spaces like this, to get to use my creativity to create a space for years to come and fill it up with plants butterflies love.  The plan for the garden was to create a garden and surround it with rocks that were painted rainbow colors- the best part is each rock has a message, inspirational words and stories of loss and love.  Students listened to a mini presentation about butterfly gardens and then I offered them a paint pen and an opportunity to make a mark on their rock.  I had some really big rocks that I saved for big stories… I called those the ‘anchor rocks’.  I loved that I could offer a child a space to leave what they wanted to share about their story, it could be a story, a picture… something special to them that shares how they want to.  Some of the children had lost siblings or parents.  I just offered them a paint pen and a rock- they filled in the rest.  One child shared that music helps him feel the feelings he needs to feel- pretty profound for a 4th grader.  The best part… I don’t know his story, nor do you,  but he left his mark in the peace garden in a positive space.

During my presentation, I ensured that this space was a place of respect, that kids need to care for it so the garden can be there for a long time.  I also told them if they wrote inappropriate words or pictures I would repaint the rock and they would lose their opportunity to leave their mark.  I only had to repaint a few rocks…

One student who was not necessarily a great listener and interrupted me a few times painted his rock.  I was slightly annoyed with him for entering my space and being rude, but then he painted his rock with one word.  His small red rock had the word “Rage” on it… he asked me if this was a good rock and his inspirational word.  I told him that word is not inspirational, I asked him if he had another inspirational word.  He responded “Rage is inevitable”.  I took a different route with him, I took his red rock and handed him a green one.  I told him that I know what it feels like to feel rage, I know that feeling.  I also told him that when I feel rage and anger like that I have things I do to feel better- I breathe, I go for a walk.  I told him we all feel rage, but the inspirational part (the important feeling) is how you get past the rage.  He returned with a green rock with the words “Just Breathe”. 

Life is hard.  It is hard for all of us.  We are all going through something… what we do with it and how we carry it shows so much about us.  Grief is part of it all… words and safe spaces and support are so very important to it all.

One of the biggest gifts in losing Madeline is the understanding I have for life and death, love and grief, joy and pain… they all ride right next to each other.  I love that I still get to talk about her, share her and teach others about butterfly gardens and life.  What a gift…

Pinewood Peace Garden, with bits and pieces of so many students.