Finding Our Place

Adam and I have been enjoying the “fresh start” that seems to accompany the season of fall in our culture. It’s the time to jump back into routines and rhythms and all those things that some of us thrive in, and some of us drowned in. And for the rest of us, there’s pumpkin spice lattes and scarves!

After many months of a combination of having church at home, attempting to go to the church services of the church that for the most part loved us really well during Brooklyn’s life and after, and some lazy sleep-in Sundays, we decided it was time for a change. Life just looks so radically different for us, inside and out. Going back to places or communities where we were settled before just didn’t feel right. Sometimes it felt difficult, sometimes it felt awkward but most of the time it just felt like that once perfect pair of jeans that just don’t fit right anymore. You let ’em hang around in your drawers for a while. Then think maybe a trendy pair of cut-offs is the answer? And then eventually they become condemned to the “to paint in” pile.

Ok, that was a tad harsh. Needless to say, it was time for a change.

He had been planting lots of seeds throughout the past few years in both mine and Adam’s hearts that made this new community we’ve been led to feel like a place for us to bloom. But of course, with newness comes lots of introductions. Our lives are at a great place for new introductions, and meeting people is a lot easier with baby in-tow! As relationships develop though, stories are told. And ours is not always easy to tell; or hear for that matter. But I’ve experienced some newness even with that. For one thing, sharing about Brooklyn and her life isn’t always accompanied by tears. Sometimes there’s even room for smiles and laughter. It feels good to talk about her life that way. There is a sneaky voice though, that likes to whisper things like, “You didn’t cry when you shared about her today, do you even care that she’s not here anymore?”. Or when certain things come about in my every day life that should be “triggers”, the voice shames me for hardly batting an eye.

A couple of Sundays ago the service was on Jesus as The Healer. One of the passages we looked at was in Mark 5 where Jesus heals Jairus’ daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. This one was a tough one for Adam and I. It hurts to be reminded of a story where a father asks Jesus for healing for his daughter. It hurts to remember that Brooklyn wasn’t healed in a miraculous way on this earth. It brings up a lot of “whys” for us. For me in particular it brings up a lot of, “can He really be trusted?” kind of thoughts. Of course by the end of the sermon we had both been crying at multiple inappropriate times, so when the offer to be prayed for came up, we thought if there’s anyone who needs prayer here this morning it most certainly seemed like it would be us! During prayer the words that were given to us were remember and release.

The more I’ve let those words kind of….simmer, the more I’ve been seeing how important they are in this present season we find ourselves. Making the time to remember Brooklyn and yet release our grief, almost as a deliberate, simultaneous act. A new way that feels like opening ourselves up for continued healing.

This past weekend we were doing some organizing and tidying up around the house and the little pile I had gathered with some of Brooklyn’s things has been staring me down. I felt anxious having it just sitting in the corner there every time I walked in the room. So, I pulled down the pretty boxes I had bought to put some of her special things in and as I started filling them up I was getting so irritated because it didn’t all fit. Some objects were too big, some too small, some things would have been better stored in a book, etc. And I got all worked up over this because for months now I’ve just wanted all her stuff to just be in one designated place, carefully and affectionately stowed away so I could visit it any time I wanted and then put it all away again. But, what struck me in all of this is, I just can’t do that. There will always be little pieces of Brooklyn and her life with us scattered throughout our home. Just as she will always scattered around and woven into our hearts. And when I stop to think about it, would I really want it any other way?

My brother and sister-in-law came to visit us soon after Lydia had been born and while they were here they organized some of our family photos and wall art, and hung them up as a photo gallery on the wall in our living room. Prior to this we had a large canvas of one of our favorite pictures of Brooklyn above the fireplace. Well, now that canvas is on our wall surrounded by other pictures and art that represent pieces from our life story. It dawned on me the other day, how symbolic this small act of redecoration was. The mantle in our home is an obvious focal point and we didn’t really have anything on the walls anywhere else in our house yet. Brooklyn was kind of it. And for a season that was OK, but now we’ve come to a new season. A season that doesn’t put her away, or on the opposite spectrum…showcase her and hold onto the grief to prove our love to ourselves and others, it’s a season of all of us….finding our place. Picking up and embracing all pieces past, present and future, and cherishing each one.

CTW Syndrome

I have this self-diagnosed syndrome. I will name it CTW (Chasing The Wind). CTW is basically trying to create the optimal situation at all times, or at least most times, in an effort to feel joy, satisfaction, peace, etc. I suffer from this the most on the weekends. Largely because Adam is home from work and the weekends are for cleaning the house up, accomplishing major gratifying house projects, going on some sort of epic outside adventure, and maybe a little pinterest project at the end of the day. That all sounds do-able, right? So, when the cleaning up consists of moving the dirty dishes from the counter to the sink, the gratifying house project is changing the batteries in the downstairs smoke detector, the outside adventure is walking to get the mail, and the pinterest project is pinning more projects, the day can end up feeling somewhat disappointing compared to my grand hopes.

I call it Chasing The Wind Syndrome because, the few times that my grand expectations have actually materialized, it never feels as satisfying as I imagine it will. I find myself chasing the wind, often. And the problem with this is I end up missing the moment I am actually in. All of the energy I could be giving towards being thankful for the moment I find myself in, or even acknowledging it, I give over to mentally arranging the to-do list like a game of Tetris. Always looking for the most efficient, productive and satisfying way, but leaving little room for actual enjoyment.

CTW isn’t just limited to the weekends though, it also likes to visit me on holidays, and birthdays. About a week ago, as the calendar flipped closer to the 15th, I started to feel the rising tension that generally accompanies my birthday, and can be associated with an early onset of CTW. I had never noticed it in previous years, but this year it made me stop and think about what I was feeling, and why?

My mind started racing with all the possibilities of how I could spend my birthday. Lunch with friends? Dinner with friends? Which friends? Pedicure? Massage? Leave Lydie? Take Lydie? But, then I started to reflect on the moments over the past few months where I have felt the most satisfied; the most joyful. Most of those moments I was either celebrating or loving someone else, or just being with Lydie and Adam. This of course sent me into a different kind of tizzy, because I thought, “If I don’t plan, hint, or nudge around about what I want…nothing will happen and I won’t feel celebrated! And I’ll be stuck in my cycle of quiet disappointment again…” OR… I could just be still, wait, and trust that what I need to feel joy, satisfied, and celebrated will come TO me! And whatever comes will be just what I need and just enough, whether it’s a fan fare (which I wouldn’t really want anyway), or a quiet day at home with Lydie.

What’s truly amazing about loosening my grip and being open to what the day brings, is I feel more thankful for the little things. I woke up this morning to a peaceful, sleeping baby at my bedside. When I consider where I was this time last year, that in itself is such an amazing gift – a longing fulfilled! Since little bug wasn’t up yet and needing “the milk truck”, as I’m so affectionately called at home (What woman wouldn’t love being referred to as a truck?), I laid in bed and felt my heartbeat, and watched my chest rise and fall as my lungs filled up with air. I thought about how I sleep well when I get to sleep. I don’t have chronic migraines or back aches. I have friends and family who love me and support me.

Unwrapping each thought with thankfulness.

Adam made me Eggs Brooklyn, one of my favorite breakfasts we made a lot when she was home with us. It’s the most delicious way to remember her. Lydie slept in some more so we finished our coffee in the backyard. And, tonight we’re planning to take a walk over to one of the local restaurants around us for dinner and dessert. This was such an added bonus when we bought our house a little over a year ago. He knew it would bring us so much joy to be able to walk to pretty much anything we would really need (or want), and still be tucked away in a quiet suburb with a backyard of beautiful trees. Getting to enjoy all these aspects of our location, makes me feel so loved.

And why does it all matter? My health, my family, my home…because it’s been given to me. In my final lap of my 20’s this is what I want my life’s focus to be.

No searching, maneuvering, adjusting, scheduling, plotting, chasing or labeling necessary.

If it’s been given, it is a gift.