Gravity

I noticed the other day how lightly I walked in and out of the grocery store. And, at almost 8 months pregnant I certainly don’t mean weight-wise. I remembered feeling the heaviness of my grief when I was in public a year ago. A stranger would walk by with her two children and I would feel like I wanted to jump out of my skin! I was still wrestling with whether I could really live life carrying this pain I was feeling in missing Brooklyn, in being a Mom without her baby. My heart seemed to protest anytime I was somewhere that most people seemed in one piece, because I felt full of nothing but pieces. 

 
This evening was one of those ugly cry, go through an entire box of tissues, hair damp on each sides of my face from lying on the floor sobbing kind of evenings. I don’t know if it’s Mother’s Day being around the corner, or being at a party last night where the question, “Is this your first?”, inevitably came up with each person we met, or Lydia’s baby showers coming up, or just…the nature of grief, but the hole felt so big tonight. 
 
I remembered her. And, I don’t just mean in my memory….it felt like every part of me was hit with a wave of remembering. It began to feel uncomfortable to be in this skin, in this body, living without her. The very molecules I’m made from seemed to shout, “Something is not right! Someone is missing! Where is she?” 
In this moment, the bed, the couch, even a rigged dining room chair doesn’t seem suitable to hold me. Only the floor will do. The gravity of grief is a strong force.
 
Where is He? My heart kept searching. Woven in between my hearts’ grasps for Him, I hear things like, “He’s not real. See He’s not answering you.”…..”She’s not really in Heaven, that’s just something people say because they can’t handle the idea of an innocent baby dying.” The accuser is so loud. Maybe crying louder will drown him out? My heart’s eyes see feet walk up. Beautiful feet, that’s all I can see. “I hear you! I see you! And, your sobbing is like a beautiful song to me.” That’s what my heart heard. I don’t have any verses to back that up. I don’t know why He would say that to me? But that’s what I heard. Hearing makes all the difference. It may not stop the tears or quiet the whimpers right away, but it plants them in a place where maybe one day they will grow something beautiful. 
 
Maybe the force of gravity even knows there’s more going on with our tears than we could ever see this side of eternity? 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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What’s In a Name?

I never thought I’d be the type who could name their baby without meeting them first. When we had Brooklyn, we didn’t find out her gender pre-delivery, but we knew that if she was a girl it would be Brooklyn, and if it was a boy it would be Shepherd. Even after she was born though, I had a hard time committing. I wanted the chance to hold her and see if it…fit. But, I didn’t really get that opportunity in the time frame I would have liked and had to trust that her name was just supposed to be Brooklyn. 

 
With this new little one, it’s felt very different. First of all, we’ve known this would be a baby girl since early in my second trimester from the genetic testing we had done. Second of all, we just haven’t felt over the name Brooklyn. We decided early on in our marriage that if we ever had a girl we wanted to name her Brooklyn. When she was here it felt like we said her name 100’s of times a day and then all of a sudden it came to a halt. For a little while it was hard for Adam and I to even speak her name to each other much. Other people still seem to be shy about speaking her name aloud. I assume because they are afraid of how we will respond, but when the few who are courageous enough to bring her up, speak her name aloud – it means the world to me. We used to see her name on congratulatory cards and encouraging notes, but now we mostly just see it on the slow trickle of medical bills. Lately, I’ve found myself doodling her name on scraps of paper just to get the chance to write it and to see it written. I feel very connected, very attached to her name. 
 
But, how are we supposed to know little sister’s name? It didn’t feel right to just pick a name from a list this time. From the very beginning of this pregnancy I felt sure in my Spirit that this baby had a name. We didn’t know what it was yet, but He knew. I started to pray for Him to show us and for patience to follow Him on this treasure hunt He would have us go on. I was content with the nickname, Squirmy, for awhile but as you become more visibly pregnant, and you know the gender, the next question is usually always, “Do you have a name picked out yet?”. The more I got that question, the more the discontentment seeped in in not having one and the more I questioned whether He really was going to give us a name?
 
A couple of weeks ago, I was catching up on some emails and I felt a nudge to look into the name Lydia a bit. I had looked up the meaning of this name before, but mostly every time it said, “noble”, which didn’t really land with me at all. But, this time I came across a website that had a couple of different meanings listed. The first meaning was “travail”. Yes, awful, I know. Why would you want to name your baby a name that meant such a horrible thing? Well, I thought I was pretty sure I knew what the correct meaning of that word was, but I decided to look it up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and see what they had to say. It certainly does mean “strife, labor, agony, heartache, hardship” etc., but when I glanced down at the examples of how to use the word in a sentence, this is what I read…
 
“No greater travail than that of parents who have suffered the death of a child.” 
Of all the examples they could have used…
 
So I decided to go back to the website and read through some of the other meanings. The second meaning listed was “beauty or light”. I thought it strange to have two meanings that were so polar opposite of one another. One descriptive of  life’s deepest pains and the other of life’s greatest joys. And I thought, this name…is our story. This name, and its’ disparate meanings, tell of the new language of my heart. One in which my joys and pains are distinguishable, yet always intertwined; one always affecting and impacting the other. And the more I step back, the more beautiful the collision of the these colors become.
 
Lydia: A hardship that has brought forth great beauty and light. 
 
And of course, He didn’t stop there. He gave me a few other things to really let my heart embrace this name. 
 
The name originated from the Lydian people who lived on the western coast of Asia Minor. They were known for being a successful people who first made use of the coin and for their outstanding musical talent. For those of you who don’t know, Adam works for a small wealth management firm. He works with successful people every day and has committed his career to helping others manage their wealth so they can live out of their passions. He is especially passionate about helping people get creative with the gifts the Lord has given them so they can give back in ways they never would have thought possible – even long after they’re gone. I can’t say the motives of the Lydian people were the same…but nevertheless….”coin” is a way we see God work within our hearts and the hearts of others on a daily basis. As for the music part, this has always been a connecting point for Adam and I. When others are watching movies or TV shows, you can find us live-streaming a concert or perusing youtube clips of new bands we like. More little treasures. 
 
Lydia was also a pretty cool chick in the Bible. She was actually a descendant of these Lydian yahoos and was known for being a successful businesswoman in her time from selling purple dyes (I’m guessing this might be where the noble meaning comes from since purple has historically been associated with nobility). But for me, purple is the color that most reminds me of Brooklyn and just seemed like another way He was whispering, ” I know you, I love you…” 
In addition to all of this, Lydia became a Christian through Paul and was known for starting one of the first house churches in Philippi. She used what she had and gave back to the Lord. I love that. As a household we are continually training our eyes to see ways to do this and asking for our hearts to be changed in the process. It’s just important to us, even though we know there’s a lot of shaping left to be done.
 
And the cherry on top….is that the Biblical meaning of the name Lydia is: a standing pool of water. Which I had to chuckle at since I have taken so many baths with Lydie this pregnancy. I feel connected to her in some strange way soaking in the warm, sudsy water. 
 
I am thankful that trusting Him never puts us to shame. I’m thankful He has given us a name that our hearts really feel connected to. It feels so good to call her by name. It feels like I know her more, and I didn’t want to wait until she was “here” to share her with you, because she’s here now – just tucked away inside me. We are less than 2 months away from our due date and I feel a mixture of sadness for this special pregnancy and bonding time are coming to a close, and readiness for her to be in my arms! When little Lydie moves around inside of me and pokes me with her little precious parts, I wish I could just reach inside my tummy and scoop her up. But for now I’ll keep looking for the treasure to be found in the waiting. 
 

Whispers Of Joy

A friend of mine asked me a question recently. She said, “In this season that you are in right now, what does ‘the joy of The Lord is my strength’ mean to you?” I have been thinking about it for the past couple of days now, but mostly just thinking about thinking about it. And as a result have had one of those 90’s Passion worship songs running through my head non stop. It made me wonder why I never stopped to ask the Lord what that really meant back then? I just put it on like a coat, hoping it would actually become a part of me. 
 
This morning I actually sat down and let my mind wander through the words. I certainly don’t think I had any grandiose revelation from the Lord about it, but I do feel like it has been a timely thing to think through considering a new type of peace, and connectedness I’ve felt to the Lord over the past month and a half, which has resulted in a lot of….joy. Whispers of a new kind of joy I haven’t really known before. 
 
He’s recently been showing me how much I get in the way of my “oneness” with Him. Things like when I feel guilty about eating something, watching something, reading something, avoiding something – I shut him out of it. I don’t let Him into it with me. Until I do something I feel rather Ok with, or even proud of. Then I let him back in, but it doesn’t feel the same. Because I just slammed a door in His face and acted like we could just pick up right where we left off without addressing why I slammed the door in His face. 
 
I’ve started to experience this “oneness” with Him, even bringing Him into my sin – especially into my sin. Sometimes I end up choosing Him, and a lot of times I choose me still, but at least the conversation is open. Practicing this has brought me a lot of…peace. No running, no hiding, no striving. 
 
But I started to realize that it wasn’t just me and my choices that could get in the way of my peace. My responses to circumstances and people would take away my peace too. Adam and I were at the airport last Wednesday. We were waiting in the security line and one of the TSA employees pulled me aside and asked me whether or not I would like to “opt out” of going through the new sci fi x-ray machine they have you stand in like a criminal. She notified me that it is safe for the baby, but some Moms choose to get a voluntary pat down instead. “No, that’s cool I’m fine with risking the health and wellness of my baby…..Of course I’m going to choose the voluntary pat down!” So they pulled me and another pregnant women aside and radioed for a female, certified, frisker to cone make sure we weren’t hiding any bombs in our baby bumps. About 5 minutes went by, another TSA employee showed me a sign stating the safety of their devices. 10 minutes went by, 15 minutes, 17 minutes and I ended up having to threaten a fainting spell (which did indeed happen the very last time I was at the airport) for them to finally call me over. It was obnoxious. It was unnecessary. Some might say it was manipulative. And, of course we huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow any of the circumstances away.
 
When we reached our seats on the airplane, I felt unsettled. I felt tense. I felt bothered. A stark contrast to what I had been experiencing in my recent days in Hermitville. I didn’t like it. I thought through the events of the past 25 minutes or so, and the ways any of it could have played out differently. Ultimately, the only thing I could control was my response – how I let this circumstance affect me. Up until this point I probably would have scolded myself inside and thought, “If only you were more self-controlled…That’s totally not what Jesus would have done….You call yourself a christian?….You’re never really going to change….” Instead of all of that non-sense I heard something different, “Don’t let anything steal your peace.” You mean this doesn’t have to be about me measuring up to a certain standard? You mean this can actually be a matter of just choosing what I want to experience?
 
No matter how justified I may have been in getting worked up, was it worth relinquishing the peace Christ paid for me to have?
 
I began to see how I have control over that peace, the peace that brings me joy throughout my day. That peace and joy is always there. It’s always available to me in plenty, but so often I give it away. I give it away in my impatience at the old man arguing over 30 cents in the grocery store check out line. I give it away when that car cuts me off on the highway. I give it away when that friend says that hurtful thing. The lie is that I have to give up the peace, the joy, because of the injustice done. It’s the belief that justice will not be upheld without my reaction, my petition – whether experienced inwardly or outwardly. And in all of this He says, “Get out of my chair!” (Thanks Tim Keller – life changing sentence for me, really!)
 
In this story, joy becomes the victor. How can I respond, choose, react so that joy and peace win out over this circumstance, this comment, this trial? When we’ve tasted, seen, experienced His goodness, is there anything stronger to help us defeat sin and discouragement than the seeking and maintaining of the joy through oneness with Him? It has power to shatter any means of measuring up. It snaps the measuring stick in half and drops it in the dumpster when we’ve learned to commune with Him in a way that has nothing to do with a standard or a time slot, but in a way that we feel the very fibers of the rug that Mary sat upon at Jesus’ feet. 
 
The joy of the Lord most certainly is my strength.
 

Stitches

A few days ago I was feeling a little anxious. I hadn’t felt little sister move much that day. And, logically, I know that some days babies are just more sleepy than others. They have lazy days just like we have lazy days, too. But it still sends me into a bit of a panic. Most times when this happens, I’m in the middle of my day and something distracts my attention until sure enough I feel that sweet little punch and I whisper, “Merci” – deep breath, or “Gracias”- deep breath, or “Danke” – deep breath. I get bored saying the words, “thank you”, like a knee jerk responding to a doctors’ plessor so many times a day….maybe it’s fun for Him that I change it up every now and again? Or, maybe it’s stupid? Whatever, that’s not the point. I was wanting some reassurance the other day, and I wasn’t getting it in the way I wanted. I decided to take a shower, because that’s what I do when I don’t know what else to do. 

And I heard, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.”

And, I responded with blubbering and whimpering like a babe who had just surrendered the fight of an all out tantrum. 

“Trust You!?!”, I said. “How does trusting You really make anything better for me here?” 

I trusted Him with Brooklyn. We all know that didn’t protect me from heartache or hurt. Everything did not turn out alright. 

How do I trust Him, with her? I mean, I know how to trust Him with my wreck of a life as a whole, big picture, story beginning to end kind of trust, but what about right now – in this moment? This is when I remembered that trusting Him looks a lot different than being granted a feeling that everything is going to be OK. 

The story of Cain and Abel kept popping into my head. I had just recently listened to a sermon on worship and the offerings of Cain and Abel were discussed. I said, “Not applicable right now, Lord. I need something on trust. Whatya got on that for me, right now? I’m pretty desperate. I’m about to use up all the hot water, and it’s much less messy to cry in the shower – sooner rather than later would be great.” 

Nothing. So, I just wore myself out and went to bed. 

The next morning, guess what kept popping into my head again? Cain and Abel. What in the world? So, I decided to read through the story again and somehow I saw something new this time. If you’re not familiar with the story, basically Cain brings the Lord a bunch of fruits and vegetables and Abel brings the Lord a lamb. God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. 

Bottom line, Cain worked for his offering. He gave out of the curse. Abel, on the other hand, just received. He didn’t have to do much for that offering – just got the sheep together and let ’em do their thing. Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve. The Earth is still pretty new at this point. This could have been the first time these sheep had procreated? Maybe Abel didn’t know if it could happen again? But, he gave anyway.

How’s she gonna land this one….?” You hear in your head, in the Jim Gaffigan hot pocket voice. 

Look at how much Abel had to trust to offer what He did? Cain had prepped the land, he’d tended it, he’d harvested it. They may have been the best of the crop, but He probably knew He could do it again. 

Their offerings came from two different places of the heart. 

When the Lord gave me Brooklyn I may have said she was His. But, my heart was holding on so tight still. I would have fought tooth and nail to get to keep her, as I’m sure any Mama would. But, ultimately I had to give her up. I was forced to give her up. Even though it was my reality, I still had to learn how to give her up day after day after day.

That was one type of offering. 

But, this new baby. This is a new type of offering. A new type of trust He’s stitching into my heart. He’s asking me to give out of my uncertainty. To offer my heart regardless of the outcome. Which is cool and all, but it can be hard as a human being, whose nature wants to protect itself, to connect and bond with something you’re holding “loosely”. And I want to feel every bit of joy and connection I can with this babe! At times it can feel like cupping my open hand to get a drink of water but my fingers are spread apart. The water runs right through. I want to feel the weight of the water in my hand – the weight of the gift that it is today, and tomorrow and each day I have her. 

Just a gushy Mommy side note: I’ve been so very aware lately that this is the only time she will never be far from me. Yes, she will be in my arms eventually, but at some point the nurses will take her away to get all their data down, I will share her with Adam 🙂 and family, and friends. She will nap next to me, and with some time in another room. She will eventually go on play dates, and go to school and move out and get married. But for right now, she can’t go anywhere. She’s all mine and I’m all hers in a physical, spacial sort of way.  

Anyway, He showed me that I am trusting Him when I give her up to Him and receive the gift of her all at the same time. 

And this, in essence, is worship. Giving back to Him what He first gave to us. So, for now He’s given me a new way to deal with the fear. A new place to cast my eyes. And very literally, new songs to sing. 

 

This morning I asked Him what He wanted me to do with my time with Him. I was open to ditching the devotionals if there was something my heart needed more. And He told me to write Him a Psalm. So, I did the dishes.

Then I decided to be obedient and sat down to write Him something. And, I didn’t focus on the “art” of it all, as I may have in the past. I just told Him what my heart felt. And then I read it to Him, aloud. Twice, actually. 

 

You are more real than I know

More real than I can see

More real than I can feel

 

You have re-programmed me

You have broken my bones

And reset me, stronger than before.

You have pressed the reset button on my heart

and put a new song in it

 

My eyes are new 

You have painted my world with fresh colors and meaning

You have shown to me – myself

And rescued me from its destructive patterns

 

You are not far off 

You have been nearer than the next breath I breathe. 

 

You haven’t let me down in my greatest disappointment. 

You haven’t left me in my bed, or a pile of tissues on the floor.  

You have become my only hope, my only salvation. 

 

You have put me under the heavy, rushing waters

And with Your strong and loving arms 

You have held me there….

 

But not a moment too late, 

You have raised my body – in Yours. 

You let me breathe Your first resurrections breath, with you!

 

It’s been hard

Many days and nights have been terrible

I never thought I could be at such a low place

But You were on the bathroom floor with me 

 

I certainly have wanted to die

For it to all be over with

To be in Heaven with You, and her

Sounded exponentially better than to be here – 

Separated, without, corrupted, cast off. 

 

But You have shown me that there is much I can give You here. 

Much I can give you here that I cannot give to You there. 

Things the angels long to give You. 

Things they wish they could give You. 

They watch in amazement and wonder. 

 

You have turned my days from a waiting room

From a count-down of breaths 

To notes in a song book

I want to waste them giving back to You what You first gave to me

 

You have given me a reason to keep breathing 

My forever has already begun

My worship, Your praise will follow me 

And echo its’ way into eternity

 

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

                     

 

A Different Side of Pain

All I wanted was to find where my other darn ear plug went before I was settling in for bed last night. I dug through the drawer in my nightstand and found that little purple zip-up hoodie vest I loved to dress Brooklyn up in the most. I knew it was there. I had put it there just a year ago when it still smelled like her. I didn’t pull it out often, but sometimes when I just needed a little bit of her I would hold it close to my chest, and lay in bed and cry. I haven’t done that in a while. I was just looking for my ear plug.

This week, has been good. Really, really good. Surprisingly, I’m not measuring that by the amount of times that I have been sad or not sad but by the amount of times I have cooked dinner. Making dinner has been a challenge for me for over a year now. The idea of even deciding what to make was overwhelming, regardless of its’ ease. Going to the grocery store has also been a challenge at times, but the idea of pulling out the pots and pans, following a recipe, eating, cleaning up after – just felt like too much. When I look back on the past few months especially, I’m wondering what did we eat? But, this week I cooked 4 out of 4 nights. And, the strange thing about it all was I actually enjoyed it! I mean, don’t go sending me your weekly gourmet menus or anything, I am no Julia Child, nor do I ever aspire to be. Things like salad with some sort of grilled meat, an easy chicken chow mien, lettuce wrapped cheeseburgers, spaghetti bake….these are the sort of dinners that I call success. But, nevertheless, Adam and I sat down at the dining room table together, the last 4 nights, and talked about our day and shared a meal like normal, regular, ever day, stable, people. We have been beaming. We haven’t even sat down to watch a TV show together, all week long! We’ve been in the front yard with Maggie, reading books, chatting with the neighbors, attempting small tasks around the house. Pure wedded bliss. No, really. This is my version of happily Ever After – without Drew Barrymore and her fame based on the fact that she probably should have seen a speech therapist as a child on the reg.

So, on my ear plug hunt I was not exactly feeling a mini-melt down coming on. I finally resorted to grabbing a brand new pair from the bathroom and settled in to listen to music in bed before I fell asleep. That’s when I was hit with the memory and all the pain that came along. When the memories come, they’re so real. It’s like I’ve been put in a time machine, reliving it all over again. This started happening on a fairly consistent basis last week as it was leading up to the anniversary marking a year without her. I’d wake up and feel assaulted by the memories. I couldn’t ignore them. It felt like I was treading water in a choppy ocean, where every direction I turned resulted in a mouth of salty water from a wave lapping up in my face. I couldn’t ignore the pain. I told the Lord how I just can’t handle these memories. I told him I didn’t know what do with them? I told him I needed rest, I needed peace – now! And there on the bathroom floor littered with tissues, in my mind, I saw a pair of hands, and arms, and shoulders. I remember the shoulders the most clearly because they were sort of rounded, curved in towards me like they were bracing themselves for the weight. He told me that He can take them for me. That it’s Ok, he can handle it. It doesn’t make them disappear, it doesn’t make Brooklyn disappear, they’re still my memories but He can take them and I can have rest instead. Almost like a flip being switched on, I said Ok and I trusted Him with them and I laid down in my bed and I rested. Later that night I woke up and I was back in one of the memories I had given to Him just a couple of hours ago. But, this time was different. This time I didn’t feel the pain the way I had always felt it. This time, He was there. There wasn’t a moment, or an inch of the room we were in that He did not touch. He was holding it all in His hands – even then. He was giving me that memory back, but He was showing me a different side of the pain. He was showing me where He was in it.

When I curled into bed last night and thought about clutching the tiny polka-dotted purple vest to my chest – the way I did so many nights – desperate for her, I asked Him to show me where He was on those painful, despairing nights. He didn’t take the pain away, but He showed me that the pain I felt was evidence of a deep love that I was so incredibly blessed to have. Again, He showed me another face of the pain. But, He didn’t stop there. He showed me how this depth of love that Brooklyn has bored into my heart, is a new way, another way that I know Him. I think about that annoying song that us church kids, and adults, sang way too many times in the 90’s…I want to know you, I want to see Your face….blah, blah, yadda, yadda. I had absolutely no idea what that meant. But, it didn’t matter right? Because in a sense that was what we were all singing. We wanted to know Him, but we obviously had no idea what that meant. Because, we’re singing a freaking song about it. Seems strange to me now. If I knew what it really meant to know Him in those youth group days, I’d probably have dropped my guitar and run out the door.  But for the present me, the present pain, the present longing there is nothing more satisfying, nothing that brings me more peace, than knowing Him – the love, the suffering and everything in between.

In the beginning

You were singing

In the end You’ll still be

Singing over me

In this moment

Your right beside me

You’re everywhere

You’re in the air that I breathe

You are an endless ocean,

A bottomless sea

All those angels 

They are swimming 

In this ocean and they still 

Can find no shore 

Day and night

Night and day

They keep seeing new sides 

Of your face

You are an endless ocean,

A bottomless sea

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa0snMpipjg

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

The Calendar

If you’ve spent much time with me in the past couple of weeks (which I realize includes as many people as I can count on one, and maybe a half, of a hand) you’ve probably heard me utter something like,

“I can’t wait to trade in my calendar, one day.”

I think I may have alluded to this in one of my recent posts. I’ve been mad at the calendar lately. It acts like a rude finger pointing out the longing, not letting me forget, or ignore it.

The year anniversary of Brooklyn’s death is coming up on me at what seems like hurtling speeds. Each day the calendar brings me closer to the truth that a year, an entire year, will have past since I held her in my arms; since I kissed her chubby cheek. She has been gone 3 times as long as the time she spent here on this earth. But, I think that is to be continued in a different post.

This irritation with the calendar has made me stop and think, will the calendar really be something I get to give up one day?

Even though that thought has presented itself in a question immediately following my angst-y statement expressing my irritation of the calendar’s weighty-ness in our lives, my heart wasn’t really asking that question. It was one of my “thought interruptions”, as I like to call them. Sometimes they come as fastballs or screwballs, but it’s usually the curveballs that make me stop and listen a little closer.

If something brings me pain here on earth, certainly it won’t be in heaven, right?

And then, I looked at the calendar again and realized tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

Drat.

It felt like somebody just told me my arch enemy has actually just made me dinner, cleaned my house, and brought me lots of presents.

Growing up in a more conservative Baptist church in NY we didn’t really observe the church calendar very closely. At least not in the way those – what I viewed at the time – legalistic Catholics, or those other mumbly liturgy observing churches did. Fast forward 15ish years and I found myself working at a theologically Presbyterian-influenced private school. In the early days, I just tolerated chapel and all of its non kid-friendly music and liturgical readings. Chapel seemed to bring out the worst in my kids, and in me, for that matter.

Five or six months into that first year at City School, one of the school buildings flooded and we were sent over to the Methodist church down the street to set up camp for the next few weeks until our rooms were repaired. Towards the close of our stay at the ever-so-kind and gracious Parker Lane United Methodist church our school participated in their Ash Wednesday Service. I had been to an Ash Wednesday service maybe once or twice before, but there was something about watching my kids engage this service that made me see the hymns, and the readings with different eyes. I felt this strong connection between the many Ash Wednesday Services held in the past, and the one I was participating in at that very moment in time. Many of the same things being said, prayed, sang, practiced that were observed hundreds of years ago. I remember looking over my shoulder to see an elderly couple singing and reciting the same words my 7 year olds were singing and reciting. I had never seen liturgy as the bridge that it can be more than in that moment. As my time continued at City School I began to love teaching my kids about chapel, what it has come to mean to me, and why we do things the way we do them. I cherished the chance to get to worship with my 7 year olds, both of us under the very same authority.

I still attend (and I use that word loosely) a church that would not describe itself as “liturgical” and they follow the church calendar in a more modern sense of interpretation, but ever since that Ash Wednesday service I’ve been making more room in my heart for the observance of these age-old traditions that the church has practiced centuries before us.

So here I am in this love-hate relationship.  Yet another great duality to hold in this one heart I’ve been given.

Can it really be the calendar itself – that points out my pain AND the chance to engage an intimate time of reflection and communion with my King – that is my enemy?

Deep down I know it’s not really about the calendar itself. It’s time. More specifically, the passing of time. But reality is, time – whether passing quickly or dragging on – is not the enemy either. It is merely the thing in which I experience my greatest threat and anguish; death. The passing of time can hurt because of an existing separation, the impending inevitability of it, or even the death of moments that we just aren’t able to access in our finite bodies.

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:26

One day, time will no longer bring me loss, whether it be remembering what I have already lost or anticipating what I will inevitably lose in the future, time will bring me gain. The passing of time will lose any – and all – threat it has held for me here. Talk about a pillow to rest a weary head on.

For Brooklyn’s Memorial service we asked friends and family to record what they experienced or learned through Brooklyn’s life. In one of our college friends’ video she referenced Brooklyn being in Heaven where she didn’t have to count days anymore. I think about that often as we were so diligent to count her days here on earth. It felt like the only important thing we could do. We wanted to cherish and number our days with her, each of them carrying weight and significance. But, she no longer has to count days and neither will we (Psalm 9-0:12). We will experience the fullness of the Eucharist – deep communion – forever without the sting of separation and death ever again.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,

Than when we first begun

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

P.S. I realize this post made it sound like I have it “all together”, and that logic and a little bit of theology fixes it all. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But in between the deep pangs, sometimes, it feels good to step back and look at the big picture.

P.P.S. And for your Lenten listening ears try this on for size.

 https://soundcloud.com/pagecxvi/sets/lent-to-maundy-thursday

The lead singer of this band pulled off a Trains, Planes, and Automobiles-esque sort of journey just to sing at Brooklyn’s service for us. She is awesome. You can purchase her band’s stuff here http://www.pagecxvi.com./ and other places like itunes and such too…

Broken Hearted

Those dreadful boxes. The ones with the little numbers glaring at you. How I will be so happy to trade in my calendar one glorious day.

The memories of celebrating her 3 month birthday, which was also Valentine’s Day, has been nagging at me all week. I don’t know if it’s because my body was finally getting used to the newborn thing, or the shock had worn off, or I had learned how to live with the anxiety, or that I had stopped pumping and was sleeping more but I remember her 3 month birthday very well. 

I have certain memories throughout her life that are just the, “oh yeah, I remember we did this on that day and the weather was like this…she was wearing that…” kind of memories. And there are many other memories that I remember exactly how my heart felt in those moments. Like when Adam came in as I was waking up from the surgery and told me that it was a baby girl. Or, a few days later when he told me they thought it might be Trisomy 18. Or, when I finally got to hold her on her 5th day of life. My heart was so full and so, so heavy. And, I remember how it felt to dress my little miracle up in the 3 different Valentine’s Day outfits she had. l felt so thankful that I was getting to do this. It was another holiday I didn’t think I would have with her.

I think Adam had gone to work that day, so it was just me and her….and the camera. I took WAY too many pictures. She was starting to put on some weight and I couldn’t get enough of her little chunk in the pink frills. And in between the photo shoots we did lots of snuggling. I felt really connected to her that day. My heart was getting better at allowing itself to feel the depth of the love. 

I know this isn’t the most eloquently written post, and there’s not really a point to it at all. I just miss her so much this week. My heart just feels broken, and it’s hard to want to acknowledge this holiday without her. And, today marking 11 months since I held her in my arms just feels impossible. The year marker is less than 30 days away. I wish that I could press pause so it won’t come and hit the fast forward button all at the same time. 

Here are some of my favorites from that day. 

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I love and miss my little Valentine.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy