Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I started this blog several days ago and then threw it away. I never realized that just a few days later I would be writing it again. The last several weeks my life has been spent on perception. I will listen to friends as we share old memories and it is so funny to hear how they remember and what you remember. I realized that through different times in our lives, our lack of wisdom and insecurities really play a part on our memories. We see our life through our own eyes and not the eyes of those around us. So perception plays a lot into how we live our lives, how we interact with others and remarkably how we interact with God.

Today, I am sitting at my desk watching a video of a young lady that I have only met a few times. But, through mutual friends and Caringbridge I have walked on a journey with them that I will never forget. Actually, there have been two young ladies now. One in Louisiana and now one here close to me. They both were amazing to me, not because they were ill, not because they had cancer and CF, but because they lived an abandoned life of today. This day was the one that mattered. The people they would meet, the way they talked, the way they loved was with everything they had. Total freedom and total love poured out of them. They did not have time to worry about their insecurities. Their perception of life was very much about today. Taking in all the things around us that sometimes in a hurry we miss.

It can be a small thing like remembering to smile at someone, the scent of flowers, the noise of the traffic, the cry of a newborn, the smell of rain. These are the things that are in the background and get missed. Why is this important, because it plays into the perception of that moment. If the only thing we remember is the guy yelling at the cabbie…we missed the smell of the rain to tell us we need an umbrella, the little baby crying that sweet little cry that reminds us that we are needed. It is not our little boy but we remember our baby and when they needed us. The eyes of our perception can be such a huge blessing to us if we use them.

I was watching "Love Happens" on Sunday and it reminded me of this. The movie is about a psychologist that gets a top selling book writing about how he survived after his wife died. He has some incredibly wise things to say but one that really stood out to me is when he took his class on a "field trip". He stopped traffic and took his class out to the middle of the street in front of the hotel. A very busy street. He tells them to say what you hear, see or smell. Then he takes them to the roof of the hotel and has them look out. His comment " It's still the same place but the view has changed." Yes, he is right. The view makes a lot of difference of how we perceive life.

Sometimes the days are not good. In my house, your perception may be that when we are home everything is fine. The truth is, everyday is a struggle. Everyday we start the day wondering what is in store. I hate talking about all the treatments, fears, struggles, complications and just the hardship of living life with a child that is so sick. When you look at life through those glasses, the perception could be very self involved. But we choose to look at higher things. Like our relationships, the people we love, what are they going through? But, as I watched the video today it hit me so hard. I saw the moments in her life that she felt were important and thought about my own. How many things I miss throughout the day. How many things I miss with Liv because…because I am tired, because I need a break, because ..because..because….then I remember how much time I miss with the Father….I just had this incredible picture of Kathy, in heaven today…hanging out with God and catching up on life. No questions…because she sees all the answers…just chatting back and forth. And I realized that our perceptions here are so limited and so self consumed. Today, I had a few calls that surprised me. But the things they were saying seemed so distant as I considered what Terri was going through losing her only daughter. What her Dad and brother were feeling. Though I know they were prepared, I know they will always feel the loss. And anything in my life seemed so insignificant and pale compared to the strength and love this family felt for each other.

So today I am making a shift in my perception. Today I want to live on a higher place where God truly is the center of my life, more than I have ever experienced. That the small things will not matter as much and my love abounds in my family and in my life without the insecurities, worries and frustrations that at the end of the day…really…do they matter?

In His grip


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Father's Day

Sunday, June 20, 2010

9:28 AM

It is early morning and we would be heading off to church but Olivia has had a rough night.  I took the early am shift and Dean took the (up until 4 am) shift.  Then I start at 7:00 am with her.  It was a long night and as I started my day. in the early morning I thought about what a blessing for him to take that hard late/early morning shift. I can get up in the early morning, but to sleep five hours is such a blessing to me.  So,Today I am going to honor him by letting you see him through my eyes.

You hear me mention him here and there in the day to day situations that arise but I never really talk about him. Dean has travelled down some hard roads himself and took on some tough challenges that have made him who he is today. An honorable, strong, compassionate, tender, stubborn , amazing Dad and husband.

When we first started out on this journey together, almost 18 years ago, we had no idea the path of life we would live. Dean had a nice comfortable job as an Associate Pastor and I worked at Benson. We played, we spent money like there was no tomorrow and enjoyed life as a Newlywed couple. Then life settled in, that first blush of glow wore off and things started getting interesting.

To say that Dean has weathered storms that would be an understatement. I think he has weathered tsunami's. He stepped down from the job that he loved the most and was the passion of his heart, ministering. The church was going through a split and he just could not go through all that again. He had been a pastor for almost 20 years when that happened. Burn out comes to mind. So, he started his own business but really, was trying to overcome the hurt and pain of a church split. You have no idea what an emotional and spiritual struggle that can be.

Then we tried to get pregnant and couldn't. That took quite a toll. We finally heard the happy news and the man was completely lost. Shell shocked I believe. He had no idea the changes that would occur when we brought that baby girl home.

After the transplant , we moved to Atlanta. The job market was the highest unemployment in the country. Wow, it was something like 6.8%...who knew. He took whatever job he could get and started all over, at the bottom. Not an easy task for a man but he was more than willing to do it. He was doing what he thought was best for his family. All these changes, all these situations that could not be helped, all of our dreams falling by the wayside. But God had new dreams, new life, new hope for us that we had no idea existed.

Dean always says that God brings situations in your life so that you can see your heart. The heat gets turned up on that crucible so that all the dross comes to the top. That dross allows you to see where you have "come short of the glory" so to speak. I guess he would be the expert because over the eighteen years of marriage I have seen him choose to look at so much in his life and work so hard to get through it. The most critical part of why I love Dean so much is that he is willing to go through that process and grow from it. He willingly lays down his life so that he can see himself and change, grow and learn. He is willing to listen to me, to God, to those he holds himself accountable and grow. And when he grows, he never goes back. That is a promise I can count on. The last ten years have been so much stress. So much frustration, so many struggles in so many area's. It would seem that the heat of that crucible could be turned down. We both walk through it everyday. But through it all, instead of getting mad, angry, bitter,(not that those moments have not occurred), he has walked through all of it seeking God, turning his eyes on his own heart to make sure he is listening to God, and working it through all the way to the end. Never giving up, never giving in, never losing hope and if he does fall…well…he gets right back up and keeps walking.

Over the last ten years of struggle and almost 14 years of Olivia's life she has wrapped him around her finger. He loves her so much and so many times there is nothing we can do to help her. As a Dad you feel helpless and hopeless but he has learned to trust God, have hope in Him to overcome those natural instincts of frustration. Now he watches over her constantly, learning more and more of who she is and who she is becoming is amazing to him. Each and everyday, he grows to love her even more. When we are in the hospital Olivia doesn't want her Dad to do every little thing for her (like she does me, LOL) but she will not allow them to do any procedure on her or anything that she perceives is more than she can handle without her Dad there. He is her rock. He is her hero. He is her protector. What an amazing picture she is getting of God the Father. What an amazing Dad he is because he allowed himself those hard moments to listen and to hear.

Dean today I just want to thank you for being the Spiritual Head of our household and being an awesome Dad to Olivia. She truly got the Dad she needs to help her be the woman God that He is creating in her to be because you are in her life.

Love always,

In His Grip eternally


Monday, June 14, 2010

As I walk the Halls what do I see

Monday, June 14, 2010

I have been really praying, reading and trying to listen to God lately. Well, I try to do that all the time but sometimes doesn't God give you that nudge to go a little deeper? Just a little quieter so you can listen a little better. Pressing in. sitting on his lap, talking and sharing. I am not sure if it is the recent circumstances and us drawing nearer to Olivia's transplant or the long ten years it has taken to get her. I just know that He has been whispering in my ear to stop and listen. But also to seek Him out and find His voice in the midst of the whirlwind called my life.

What did it take to get my attention? I am not sure if you have heard but Thursday evening they had a liver for Olivia. WOW. That tidbit of information stopped me in my tracks. For years I have been begging, pleading, seeking, battling to get here. But, even though we were finally listed I don't think it has really sunk in that the time is now. Unfortunately the size of the liver was too large for Olivia. But, what a wake up call. I realized we were now at the top of the list for her blood type. Again, WOW. At that moment my mind went into overdrive. It was a moment later that it started sinking in and in that still moment of my quiet time I started reflecting on life. I came to realize that in a short period of time my life will again be changed forever. I started feeling the pressure of all that needed to be done and assessing every part of m y life to make sure it is ready to be put on hold.

So, like every Mom in the world that runs a household I started my list. I started thinking through all the parts of life that needed to be tied up to get through this whole process. Even assessing families situations to make sure they are in line so we can make sure life is as de-stressed as possible. I am going through the checklist. Dean and I okay, check. Olivia experiencing anything she can and wants to, check(I don't want to miss a thing), Dog and House will be taken care of, check. Is the house clean enough to survive people staying there , check. You get the idea. There are forty other things on that list but I am sure you do not want to go through the whole list. I just want to make sure that physically, mentally, emotionally and most of all spiritually we are ready. Because this will be the hardest thing I will ever do in my life. The hardest thing Dean and I will walk through and I can't even imagine what it will be like for Olivia.

Part of that process is of course facing some realities of what that all means to Olivia and to us. Looking at all those scenario's. The good, we have a liver, it works wonderfully and life moves on or God deciding to heal Olivia by bringing her home. So, at the top of my list is assessing my relationship with God . I have to know where God and I stand. Can I really handle the strain our relationship could go through if Olivia were not here anymore. Not because I am begging him for a miracle, not because I expect things to go perfect, not because I know that the probability percentages are 30/70, all those things roll around in your head. But, because I want to know that no matter what, no matter if He decides to heal her by taking her home to be with Him…that I will still call Him Father. I will still call Him Friend. I will still call on Him period .But, as I have walked through these halls, I have seen something I did not expect to see.

Love. Love abounds. I found it in the place that I did not expect it. In me. For years, for whatever reason I always gave someone the benefit of the doubt. I always wanted to go the extra mile. I took seriously the personal responsibility of being Jesus' hands and feet. But, I never connected the significance of that until I walked these halls of the hospital these last few weeks. Seeing their pain, their hurt, their need makes me realize it is not my duty, my "calling", or my responsibility. Because God never did anything because it was His responsibility. He does all things as a loving Father.

As I was going down the hall I thought about what it would be like to be no longer a part of this place. That we have lived here for ten years is amazing. Olivia said the other day that it is sad when you call room service and they not only know your order but they know your name before you tell them. We have made friends, we have been a part of their lives, we have loved, laughed and hurt with them. I have seen the years on my face. I have seen the stress walk over me and some days I want to run from this place and never return. But I realized I was a little sad. Because soon, no matter the circumstances, I feel that this season in our life is coming to a close. The part where we live here all the time. And I cried. Not because I did not want to move on in life, I do. But because I realize that the one thing that God may have gotten close to perfecting in me through this fire is the ability to love. Love those that are unlovable. Care, for those that do not always have the best attitudes and give beyond what I have because there is always a need. My heart has been expanded ten fold to those around me. Not just here at the hospital but this place has been a tool that God has used in my life to make me stronger but also to make me softer, compassionate and to learn to love at greater depths.

Please, I know I have not been perfected in these area's, just ask Dean. But, I am so much farther down the road than I could have ever imagined and if God has allowed me to feel that much compassion for people, that much love for them…then the answer to my question was there all along, wasn't it. Because if I can feel that for those I don't know, how much more can I feel that for a Father that has done more for me than I could ever have known. So, today. I realize that love is beyond us. It is outpouring out of us if we know Him who has always wanted to be our Father, our Dad, our Daddy, our friend. He created us to love, outside of ourselves, beyond our boundaries, beyond our walls. And if He loves me enough to change my heart then no matter what happens I will always call Him "Dad".

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Life…is the glass half full or half empty

Once again we are sitting in this hospital room just waiting and waiting. We wait for Olivia to get sicker or get better but something so we can move to the next step. The next day sometimes. When I am in the hospital I feel so trapped sometimes. Not by Olivia or her illness but unavailable to do anything. It drives me crazy. Just in one week I had a good friend that she got the call that they thought her baby boy had leukemia, a friend's Dad is very ill and fell and broke his hip, another dear friend's daughter is graduating and I am missing it, VBS is this week and it is the first one we have missed in six years. I have missed so many things over the year. Our life seems to always be on hold. I know it doesn't mean as much to my friends as it does to me but so far I have had to miss so many things because of this liver that is so sick. Being there for other people and being able to be a shoulder to lean on, to give hope when needed, share in their lives, share in their kids accomplishements, hold a hand or just "rush over to be there" is what means more to me than anyone will ever know. I may be an introvert but I love caring about others. Especially those that have walked into my life for a reason or season. So let's call this my half empty day.

But, as I walk the halls of this place I see so many with so little. I took the little we had the other day to buy this one little boy a pair of pajama's. He is three and has no family that I can see and there is an "alert" on his door which means DHS is somehow involved. He has been here this whole time with no Mom, No Dad, just nurses to love on him, read to him, sooth him and play with him. Then I met this girl.

The girl is a teenager with a very hard edge. The first time she saw me and I said hello she despised me. How do I know. She told me. It stopped me in my tracks. But I just gently moved on as if she said nothing. Then the next day, we were in the kitchen together. She wanted Ranch Dressing, demanding that a Nurse find it for her, and did not want to leave to find it because of her food being in the area. She did not want anyone to touch it or take it. This was the hospital tray that even if that did happen she could get another. So I offered to watch over it while she searched the floor for dressing. She huffed, but she walked out with the nurse. So I stayed. When she came back, she completely ignored me. You could almost see the disgust from her. Later in the afternoon I was on the elevator with her. She said nothing to me. I just nodded and said Hi to recognize her. Then out of no where she snapped "You don't know what I am going through!!!" Just as gently as she was loud I responded "You don't know what I am going through, we are here, we are all going through something" She just glared at me. Through all of this I could not figure out why she detested the sight of me. There were lots of Moms on this floor. Was I the only one? Usually kids like me and seek me out, I was completely perplexed.

So. Today, once again as I am in the kitchen, she walks in. When she sees me she explains to me that I do not know what she is going through. Like this is some mantra she has going on in her head just waiting on me to tell it to! I stand there and listen for a moment, then I ask her." Honey, what are you going through?" then she just unloads. She tells me about her diabetes, taking 8 shots a day and she has seizures with them. Then out of the blue she says "I know your daughter does not have to deal with all that!' She almost spews it at me. Dumbfounded, I thought "God please give me the right words, only you could have continued to bring this girl to my side"…and then I explained to her that Olivia does take 8 shots a day, she has had a liver transplant and is waiting on another one and she has CF. As I start talking I realize how sick Olivia really is but then I see in this girls eyes that she is overwhelmed. So I just end with telling her that both of them are really brave girls. They both have a lot going on. But, then she says "But she has her Mommy here and I don't! I don't have a Mommy" Oh my goodness. The weight of the world just fell on my shoulders. In one second I realized that this girl was not angry at me for no reason I just represented to her all that she did not have. My heart broke and tears were trying hard not to flow. All I could say was that she was right. But both girls had struggles and though Olivia had a Mom she had to face the reality that she could die, all the time. Then the girl started talking. Not shouting, not demanding attention, not trying to make sure I understood anything, she just wanted to know how she could be better. How could her life get better in such a horrible neglected situation.

What an opening. I talked to her about the fact that she did have choices in her life. That she could do so much more by seeing the good in things around her instead of the hard things. That she could change her life. She needed to see her glass half full not half empty. Then little tears were forming and she wanted to know how to do that….I told I would be glad to talk with her anytime because the nurse had come in to take her back. But I know God is opening the door because that little girl needs Jesus.

So, though at times I feel sorry for the things I miss, God gives me timely appointments. He must have needed me here more than there. Because all my friends have mostly great kids, good lives (not saying we don't have problems just in the scheme of life) and people that care about us. They will rush to our side when we really need it. But these little ones not only do not have that but, they have no where to turn to get it. They really need Jesus with arms to hug them, soft, gentle voices to sooth them and wisdom to help them go above their circumstances. They need Him more than I will ever know.

So this week, when life is getting you down. You are having a half empty glass day…well, take another look at that glass because God will show you how to fill it up :)

In His Grip,