This song makes me come undone. The grief of losing my mom has lessened for the most part, but there are moments when it still takes my breath away. Mom died April 22, 2014, two years ago today. I never know what might set me off, but I still have bouts of grief sometimes. Not wallowing hours or days– usually just a few minutes, like a summer thunderstorm that comes on quickly, lets loose a torrential rain, and moves away just as fast, leaving behind a dankness in the air that you can’t escape for just a little while. Sometimes it’s a song, sometimes a memory. I like to talk about her, though, even though the tears come when I do. It doesn’t mean it causes me pain to speak of her– it just lets a little of the pain out that is always lurking underneath.

I have had to wrestle with a great deal of guilt since she died, but I am mostly at peace now. I felt guilty about every cross word we had while she lived with me, until I realized that we would have had cross words even if she had been healthy. I was selfish and lazy and mean sometimes, but I know she forgave me. She always did. I wish I had washed her hair more often. It was difficult but not impossible, and she hated when it was dirty. She gave me the greatest gift a few years before she got sick– one day we were talking about if something happened to her, and I mentioned that I would be left with guilt. She said, “You have nothing to feel guilty about!” Many things happened after that that I could feel guilty about, but honestly, the forty years before that contained plenty for me to feel guilty about. So the fact that she had absolved me of those forty years of guilt made it easy for me to let go of the guilt that came after her death.

Should I have given her more chocolate cake? I don’t know. I never knew if I was trying to get her better or taking care of her while she died. And so I pushed her, trying to make her healthier. But I bought her treats that would fit her diet, and she was always grateful for even the little things. Cottage cheese could light up her day.

God has given me little graces that help me. The day she died, Jason woke me up around 6 to let me know something was wrong– maybe a stroke. I got up and she was unable to talk clearly. She looked afraid, but maybe that is me reading into things. I don’t know what I said. I am sure I was soothing and loving, but I don’t remember what I said. The mercy is that I had woke up around 5 that morning to use the bathroom. I heard her call out “You ok?” That means that she wasn’t lying there all night scared and unable to rouse us. It means that at most she was alone for an hour with her fear. Maybe we heard her immediately when it happened. I don’t know if she was in pain, what does an aneurysm feel like? I imagine a terrible headache, but I don’t know. It also means that the last words I heard from her were words of love. “You ok?”

They took her to the hospital in an ambulance, and it was some time before they let me go back. Reed was in touch with my brother, and he asked if he should come. I told her I didn’t know yet. I wish so much that I had said yes.

They would not let Jason go back. The kids were still at home. We all thought she he had had a stroke, and we thought it would be bad. We had no idea. They finally called me back, and the doctor (who was the 2nd most awkward man alive) had to tell me that my mother was going to die. She had had an aneurysm, and she was not going to make it through the day. He told me this in a halting way, not because he was grief-stricken. He was just a goober. He showed me a computer image of her brain and told me that the giant green part was blood. He told me that they would keep her comfortable and that she would not last through the day. At this point I texted Jason. He called the kids. Reed texted my brother, and he headed to Columbus. The kids came to the hospital. I was in the room with mom and there was a nurse trying to give her an IV. She was having trouble– mom always had trouble with her veins. I asked her if she could just let her be since she was dying anyway. (I didn’t say it rudely, but I am surprised at my forthrightness. She said it was to give her pain meds in case she was able to feel anything. She doubted that she could. I agreed that she should have them.)

The rest is fuzzy. People came to the hospital: my cousin Ramona, Ruth and Lori, Cheryl maybe? I think I remember Joyce and Sharon and someone, maybe Kathy, but in the parking deck? Were there muffins? I don’t know.

They moved mom to a room next to a waiting room and let us stay all day. We stayed with her and literally watched her life ebb away, courtesy of the machines that monitored her vitals. Blessing or curse? I don’t know. We talked to her. We cried. I begged her to hang on until my brother got there. That was probably traumatic for my children, and I wish I hadn’t done it. She died two minutes before he arrived.  Not that it would have been much different– she was essentially in a coma. She wouldn’t have known he was there. But he would have.

We actually watched her heart beat and respiration stop on the machine. It was surreal. The nurse came in, and it was like a slow motion movie. She took her pulse, shook her head slowly, took off her gloves, and turned off the monitor. I can see it in my mind like it was yesterday.

Shortly thereafter, someone called to ask for her eyes. Isn’t that bizarre? (I mean a foundation, not an individual– “hey can I have her corneas?”) WE agreed– apparently they needed to be harvested (what an icky word) quickly.

Eventually, they nudged us to leave so they could do whatever it is you do with the empty shell that was once my mom. I guess we went home. I know at some point, my friend Patty came and got my lesson plans so she could teach my class. I remember Denise coming by with gobs and gobs of paper products. Bless her! Billy brought chicken and ??? Jessica brought M&M’s and probably something else, but honestly the M&M’s helped us through. Reed and I remember me lying on the floor, singing “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and eating peanut butter M&M’s. As grim as that sounds, there was laughter. Moments of levity that week kept us sane. Some might find it disrespectful, but Mom would have been laughing with us.


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I haven’t blogged in two years, for many reasons. My mom died. and I couldn’t find words to write about that. I have many words now, so I will plan to write about that soon.

My family has gone through major trauma that is unspeakable. I can’t write about it because of the lives that are involved that are not my own. God has carried me through some of the darkest times I could ever imagine, and I don’t think I will ever be the same. My view of God has shifted and shifted some more. The more I try to make Him in my image, the more He has to show me He is not. He’s a good, good Father, but I don’t know how to be a daughter. Growing up without a dad and around broken and feckless men, I grew up with this great void in my ability to relate.

I have had to face some rather daunting truths about myself, and it has not been pretty. And always there is the urge to write, to let it out, but it is smothered by the voice of shame saying keep it to yourself, no one cares anyway. But words are my coping mechanism, and there is so much brewing inside me. While much of what I am experiencing not does belong to me and cannot be expressed, I need an outlet for my thoughts.

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Is this a mid-life crisis?

2013 was such a strange year, such a hard year. Now it is 2014, and I don’t know how I feel about it. Hopeful? frightened? apathetic? Will anything be different? Could it be any worse? I don’t know. Right now it is a blank slate.

I turned 44, which seems… older. 40 wasn’t bad. 41, 42, still close to 40. 43 was just a yucky number that I tried to ignore. But 44 is awfully close to 45, which is… well, you know.

But 44 is just a number. The strange part has been the shift in my perspective. Something changed this year. I realized that I am not a mother of small children. Belatedly I admit, but it was such a dash of cold water in my face. Macy turned 10; Sydney 12; Reed, 15, and Spenser, 18. Lots of milestones in those years. I have a kid in college. I am the sandwich generation. I am smack in the middle of driving the mom van to all the activities and taking care of my aging mother. What a cliche. And a difficult one at that.

The gifts this year: a reading lamp and a foot bath/massager. Why not just give me Ben Gay and denture cream. What happened to panty-of-the-month club? Sigh.

Most of my friends are dealing with sick/aging parents. Some of my friends are sick themselves, in an older generation kind of way.

The girls I work with– I could have given birth to them. Granted, it would have been Teen Moms: the Prequel, but still. Eww. I think of them as peers; they think of me as their mom away from home. I’m Monique’s mother. (First Wive’s Club reference.)

I cry alot. I cry easily And I have many things to cry about. I didn’t used to cry so easily, although I have in my 40s. Many buckets o’ tears.

My friends are getting divorced. I mean there were those in my 20’s who didn’t last a couple of years. But these are 20+ years of marriage– dissolving. He sits up in bed and says “I never loved you.” How is that possible? Every wife I have talked to was absolutely blind-sided. Never saw it coming. Utterly destroyed.

I understand Ecclesiastes in a way I never did before. When I was 20, I thought it was depressing and wrong. Now, I see the truth in it. And that is doubly depressing. There really is nothing new under the sun.

And yet…

I have a 10 year old and a 12 year old who have never seen/heard/experienced whatever it is that I’ve been there/done that/who cares.  I make myself see the joy in it that they see. Bird watching. Ice skating. Decorating for holidays. I could easily dismiss those things. But I don’t want to. I want to savor the moments, for they are quickly (oh my word, so quickly) passing. I have a 15 year old who has so much yet to see/do/learn. I have an 18 year old who delights in the funniest things. Things I wouldn’t delight in except through his eyes.

Some days, I want to crawl in bed and never get out. I want the world to stop, for the love of Pete, just stop for a minute and let me get my bearings. I want to run away and pull African babies out of the dump and pretend like those are the only problems that matter. I want Jesus to take me to heaven and make the pain go away. Some days… I can barely breathe. I weep over my children; I weep over my mom; I was weep over what was and is no more;  I weep over what I thought was going to be and never will.


This is not what I had planned to do with this year, with these years, with this season of my life. But I cannot change it. And I don’t want to just wallow in it. And so I must savor it. Suck the marrow from it. For God’s sake, don’t waste it. In college I read “I will drink life to the lees” and I thought it meant I will have every moment of fun and joy and laughter and good times that I can. But life isn’t always fun and joy and laughter. What are you going to do with that? Wait for it to change Or allow it to change you? John Piper says Don’t waste your cancer. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to enjoy this life that has been thrust upon me. I have felt like I was waiting for my life to restart, like I was just on hold. But I don’t want to waste these years. And so my prayer is God show me how. Show me how to do this.  How do I live in 2014? How do I bring glory to you in my confinement, in my brokenness, in my mid-life mess?

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The Perfection of God

My life is so different right now from what I ever thought it would be like. Not that I ever stopped and contemplated what life would be like at 43. But if I had, it would probably nt have been this. Women learn to dread the milestones, for whatever reason. The world seems to indicate that a number ending in zero is a fearful thing and can only make life worse. But when I turned 40, one of those milestones purported to be especially awful,  I was as happy as I have ever been. Everything was going well, and I was experiencing God’s peace and joy in ways I had never experienced before. My marriage had been tested and fortified; my children were wonderful and healthy and stable; our church was growing and ministering and serving. If you had told me then what my life would be like in 3 years, I would not have believed you, and/or I would have run away. I don’t mean that my life is so horrible now. It is very different, and I have experienced some great losses, but there are people way worse off than me. I do have enough perspective to know that however much I have lost, I have so much to be thankful for. So I don’t mean this to be a pity party, just a description of the changes that have occurred.

Two years ago, I lost my ministry and that doesn’t even begin to describe what I really mean. It sounds cold and professional and detached, like a file folder full of ideas and programs that somehow got misplaced. What I mean is I lost my purpose and I lost people that I cared deeply about. I lost the respect of people I cared about, and I lost respect for people I cared deeply about. Children that I thought were mine forever were suddenly gone from my life.

I lost friends along the way, friends that I thought were forever friends. Realtionships strained, shifted or ended completely. We lost our income, at least 75% of it.

This year, I lost my mom, not completely, but she is not who she was then. The person I always knew loved me no matter what is gone, and I am having to learn to relate to this new person.

Things have happened in my family that  I can’t even talk about, but they are so painful and my sorrow is so great.

I am no longer a stay at home mom, although I am here most of the day. I took a job, which I love, but there is a cost with everything, and this is no exception.

I have grieved. I have cried. I have whined. I have pouted. I have screamed. I shook my fists at heaven and asked how dare you? Not literally. I wouldn’t dare speak the words, but that is what was deep in my heart. I have repented, and I am so sorry for the length of time it took me to shake it off. I knew I was wrong, but there was still this unspoken feeling deep within me that I had been wronged.

And this past Sunday, my husband, my pastor, was preaching about the glory of God. And I can’t remember the words he said, but I know what I felt in my heart. He was talking about God’s justice and holiness, and deep in my spirit what I heard was this: There has never been a single moment in time when God was unholy or unjust or wrong.  I have always known this to be true, but I haven’t always felt it to be true. I have felt like there must have been some mistake, that this is not how my life is supposed to be. And now there’s a recognition that whatever sin I have committed or whatever wrongs have been perpetrated against me, God is innocent. There has never been a moment in time where He has been unjust or unloving or unkind. And I praise Him for it, and I repent of every bitter thought, though unspoken. I don’t know how to make sense of what has changed in my life, and I guess I don’t have to. It is difficult for me not to know they why’s, but I can rest in the knowledge that He is good and He is faithful and He is loving.

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Reflections on my first year at Drama Kids


A little over a year ago, Anne and I met with Valeria about having a joint venture between Family Theatre and Drama Kids. She wanted a place for middle schoolers to meet, and Anne and I both loved the idea. Anne begged her to hire me for it LOL. I wasn’t sure that was what Valeria intended but Anne has a way of getting her way. I agreed, but I wasn’t sure it would ever come to fruition.

Personally, I was in a pretty low place. I was very unsure what was going on with our church; we were struggling financially; and I was still struggling internally with the end of the children’s ministry the year before and what was my purpose in life. My heart was broken. I had been a volunteer children’s minister for 17 years and now suddenly I wasn’t anymore. I had been so excited to see God at work in the lives of 60+ kids from our neighborhood—kids who were from broken homes, poverty-stricken communities and Christ-less families. And it had vanished and I had grieved for a year.

In all honesty, I waited all summer to be rescued from that job. I didn’t want to work; I wanted to be a homeschool mom. I waited for God to come through for us financially so I didn’t have to take the job.

He didn’t.

By this time, Valeria had asked me to teach 3 classes at the theatre and I had agreed.  Then she told me about a grant to take Drama Kids into 5 schools in South Columbus for at risk children. Would I be interested in teaching one of them? Yes yes yes, these are my kind of kids.  These are the ones I want. Some of the Family Theatre classes didn’t make, and I ended up with 3 grant schools.

Two weeks ago, on a Saturday, I watched one of those classes (my favorite one!) perform on one of the most amazing stages in Columbus. They never convinced me in rehearsal that they were going to make it through the whole play. I thought it might fall apart. They performed it with more confidence and stage presence than I could have ever dreamed. They were amazing– – and they knew it! They knew they did well. And I finally got it. I finally understood Drama Kids. I don’t know why it took me all year. I didn’t even realize I didn’t get it until I did get it. I was so proud and so happy and so fulfilled.

I don’t know why I am teaching Drama Kids instead of leading a children’s ministry. I don’t know how much I am able to give them Jesus. I do know that one Tuesday in December we were on Code Red and we thought there was a shooter in the school and I crouched behind a piano with 20 8 to 10 year olds and prayed with them while they cried. I know that Nathaniel, the boy who cried in class a few months ago and for whom I have prayed and asked others to pray, did not stutter onstage that Saturday.  And I know that I have almost 100 students that have stolen pieces of my heart. Also, last Sunday when another of my grant schools was about to perform, they were so nervous. And one of the girls asked me to pray for them. Totally made my day!

I haven’t had a (paying) job in 18 years. I didn’t know what it would be like to have a boss. I was worried. But Valeria has been the most wonderful boss to me. She holds up such a high standard, and yet I have not  been afraid of failure. I know I have failed, but  she never makes  me feel bad about it. I feel her support and encouragement and her willingness to jump in and help with anything! I absolutely love working for a spirit-filled Christian. I don’t think I could do it any other way! Or at least, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. She inspires me in so many ways.  I see her absolute compassion and heart for all these kids, no matter what school they go to. I see the sacrifices she makes – she never thinks about her bottom line above the needs of the kids. I see her very professional marketing skills—I am blown away by her ability to push when she needs to, to organize like a whiz and to lead—whether in the classroom or in the staff meeting or wherever.  Most of all, I see her passion for Jesus and her desire to serve and please Him. I love her spirit. I wish we had prayed more—I wish we could have a weekly staff prayer meeting! I love the times we have prayed together, and I look forward to many more.

So after the first year, I can honestly say… The money has been a blessing. My boss has been a blessing. And those kids… oh those kids have been such a blessing to my broken heart.



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Feeling so blue tonight

I am having a really hard time tonight. The reality of my mom’s condition is slowly sinking in, and tonight it hit me full force. She is confused alot of the time. She remembers alot, but she has a hard time initiating conversations. She starts a sentence or a question but then can’t finish it. But there is something else that I can’t quite put my finger on that is incredibly sad. She doesn’t think about other people. It’s not selfishness or anything malicious; it’s more like an inability to think of others. She snapped at Sydney yesterday and made her cry. I explained to Sydney that she didn’t understand, and then Sydney and I cried together for the Gram that used to be here but isn’t anymore. She doesn’t respond to texts or calls. She doesn’t remember how to text. But instead of asking for help, she just doesn’t. Without thinking about the people on the other end of the texts. And I am crying for all of us who have lost someone so special. Sure she is still here in many ways, and I am incredibly grateful to have this time with her, but I miss the way things were.

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I don’t know another word for it. In the past couple of months, as I have been caring for my mother, I have felt sustained. I can’t attribute it to anything in particular that I have done. It is grace. I believe it is the prayers of my friends that have carried me.


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