About Me

Monday, February 5, 2018


It was another hard week, but it was sprinkled with sparkles of light. Friends who reached out to me. Time spent with people who love me. The sunlight coming in my windows. A few hours spent painting. 

Yesterday I went to church for the first time in about a month. It is so hard to be there, and I can't quite understand why. But I went anyway - snuck in 5 minutes late and left the instant the benediction was spoken so I didn't have to talk to anyone, answer a million questions, bear the sympathetic looks even though they also comfort me. 

Yesterday I was once again challenged by the idea of being Christ's light, of sharing His Good News, of living the joyous life while my heart is totally broken. What does that even mean? And how are we supposed to accomplish that? While sitting in my chair, tears welling in my eyes at the impossibility of what it feels is being asked of me, of the balance between wanting to shine Christ's love and joy and peace, but also wanting to live an authentic, truthful life, I was so clearly reminded of the verses that say:

There's a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens:

a time for giving birth and a time for dying, 
a time for killing and a time for healing, 
a time for crying and a time for laughing, 
a time for mourning and a time for dancing, 
a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces, 
a time for searching and a time for losing, 
a time for tearing and a time for repairing, 
a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking...

A sense of relief and peace filled me. Now is my time to mourn, to cry, to be sad, to keep silent when I have no words. Now is my time to speak that truth, to be honest when I'm having bad days, to allow others to know I'm hurting. 

And within that will come times of peace and hope, times when I feel God my Father holding me and comforting me. And as I heal I can tell that story, too. 

This morning, sunlight poured into my windows, steam rose from my coffee, and a quote from a favorite movie came to my mind. I'll paraphrase it here:

And this morning I think he might be able to use that aching arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give me one more day of hope.

My Jesus, with his aching arms stretched out on that cross - those arms that were embracing all my sorrows and all my pain, all my losses and those I have lost, those arms that hold me tightly even when I am writhing in pain - those arms push the sun into the sky and allow my eyes to see the sun as it fills my house and my heart. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Hard work

I catered a wedding this weekend. It is such hard work! 4 days pretty much non-stop - 3 of those 12 hour days on my feet. But the result is amazing, joyous...and delicious! And for a bonus? While cooking, I was fully distracted and immersed in the experience and (mostly) filled with joy. 

The colors astounded me, as if it was the first time I'd really seen the colors of food. I marveled at the beautiful green of celery and onion as it softened in olive oil. The orange and creams of the butternut squash and apple stew. The pure creaminess of mayonnaise and sour cream as I whisked it together made me smile. A cutting board filled with perfect rounds of sliced carrots.

And serving the guests at the wedding? Seeing the happy faces of the bride and groom? Hearing the nice things people were saying? Joy, satisfaction, and such a blessing to me to be able to bless others. 

The days pass, one by one, and some are like that - filled with good things. Other days are filled with tears, thoughts of "what if....." and stabs of pain that come and go. I remain unmotivated, incredibly low on energy, with a distinct lack of concentration.They call it "complicated grief". Yuck.

The past 3 months have been some of the hardest of my life, and a tremendous amount of that pain has been not just the loss of Matt, but the trauma that surrounds his death. It jarred my nerves, my brain, my physical body. But as hard as the past 3 months have been, I actually have mostly been distracting my mind with television, books, sleep. My counselor says I've been giving my subconscious mind time to work through the trauma of it all. 

Now it's time to get on with the equally hard task of grieving and healing.

Here's my plan: I mean to start purposefully journaling to allow myself to feel - a little at a time - so I can process those feelings and not keep dampening them with tv and books and sleep. 

I plan to spend more time with God praying, reading the Bible - so that my mind and soul will be filled with truth and not lies, lies like, "If you had spent more time with Matt..." or "You didn't push him hard enough to seek help..."  

I hope to start reading through a book on grief - so that I don't fall back on what I have learned in the past, but keep learning how to work through this loss in a healthy way. 

To be honest, I don't want to do any of this. I want to keep watching Call the Midwife on a loop and napping through the afternoon and only crying when it bursts through the little bubble I've put around myself. But I know what old grief looks like - grief that has never healed and has turned sour inside, grief that hardens the heart. And that's not where I want to live. 

So here I go...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


What a difference a day makes. 

The roller coaster ride of grief is ridiculous. I cried all day Sunday and half of Monday. Today I feel like I’m back on my feet. I know this is how it is. I’ve walked this road before. And yet, it drives me crazy. 

And so, in the midst of all this, I am very thankful for the constants. 

My fat cat who loves to sit on my lap and get snuggles. 
My husband who is kind and loving. 
My family and friends who walk alongside me. 
The sunshine that bathes my house in the mornings. 
Favorite tv shows that still make me laugh. 
Hot, sweet tea. 

Even a roller coaster slows down at the top of the climb, and if you are paying attention, you might get a beautiful view. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

The new year

I struggle to say, “Happy New Year” or to look forward to what the new year will bring as the last several years have each held huge and difficult challenges. As I look back and can see the resolution of each of those challenges, they seem manageable. But from this vantage point, with the loss of Matt still so new and painful, I feel like I’m waiting to get knocked off the precarious edge on which I stand. It feels like it wouldn’t take much. 

I feel our loss like lead in my pockets, like an onerous task looming on the horizon. It lies behind me like the memory of a devastating storm, and before me like a mountain that must be climbed. Nine weeks isn’t enough time to do much healing, especially in the midst of the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas felt like obligations to grit my teeth and survive. I struggled to keep my eyes on Jesus during Advent, but took good steps to focus on Him. 

And now the holiday season is over. On to whatever “normal” life is going to look like. I began this morning by listening to songs that had encouraged and helped carry me through the early days, and their words encouraged me still. 

I tried to choose to keep my eyes on Jesus during Advent. And keeping my eyes on Jesus will get me through the coming days, as well. 

Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at Your feet...
When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, 
When You don’t part the water I wish I could walk through, 
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust in You. 

I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand, 
But even if You don’t my hope is You alone. 

I’m tired, I’m worn. My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing. 
My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world. 
And I know that you can give me rest, so I cry out with all that I have left,
“Let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends, that you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn.” 
I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life, 
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn - cause I’m worn. 
I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I’m too weak. 
Life just won’t let up. 
But I know that you can give me rest, so I cry out with all that I have left,
“Let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends, that you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. 
I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life,
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn - cause I’m worn.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


I miss his hands and the way they gripped a pencil. I miss the awkward hugs he insisted on giving. I miss his scratchy voice and how every phone conversation started with, “Hi, Cindy, it’s Matt,” as if caller id didn’t exist. I miss his car pulling up to park in the back of my house. I miss his crazy questions, his insightful questions, his tough questions. I miss his presence in my house. I miss his patchy beard and mustache. I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss......

These are the hard days, when we return to life’s routines, but a huge part of that routine is gone. These are the hard days when Christmas lights twinkle and shine and they bring a mix of joy and sadness. These are the hard days when we keep thinking he’s just around the corner or a phone call away.

These are the hard days...

Monday, December 11, 2017

I made a decision. 

Since the middle of November I’ve been trying to think through how to handle Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have an amazing counselor who has affirmed my gut instinct to choose what activities I want to join in, what decorating I want to do (or not do), whether or not to go Christmas shopping or choose to just give cards this year. It has been a real struggle and until this evening I hadn’t made any progress in knowing how Christmas-y I wanted my house to be. 

After a very strange day - a morning filled with quiet and peace; an extraordinarily difficult afternoon filled with tension and sorrow - I blessedly spent the evening with my best friend. As I drove through my neighborhood, I was struck by the beautiful Christmas lights, and for the first time this year, the twinkling, the colors, the beauty brought me peace and not sadness. 

What I know and believe suddenly bubbled up to the surface of my mind and I remembered: For me, every light, every twinkle, every shining globe is there because Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus came to save us. Jesus came to shine down his love and bring us back to our Father who never forgot about his children. 

Every light. 

And I want those lights. 

I want that reminder in my house, to fill my eyes, and be the last thing I see each night as I fall asleep. 

For me, Christmas is not just a celebration of the birth of Jesus, of the little babe in the manger, of the angels and shepherds, of Mary and Joseph and the adoration of the Magi. Christmas isn’t even the beginning of the story. Christmas is the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy, is the opening of a door that had been closed, is the sigh of relief at the arrival of the Messiah. Christmas is the fulfillment of Emmanuel - God with Us. 

And this is the space in which I live my life. I believe it with all my being. Rain or shine, heart breaking sorrow or bubbling joy, with broken dreams or in bliss - it is the Truth, the bedrock of my life.
So I’ll decorate for Christmas - with the sadness of missing my brother, with the roller coaster of emotions I’m still riding, but with the joy of the shepherds and angels who saw before them their Messiah, the Light of the World, the God who saves. 

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying, 

Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.

Luke 2:13-14

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Seasons change

Seasons of life come and go, holidays roll around the calendar, and we search for meaning in it all. 

I started out my marriage with what seemed an obvious purpose - to do all I could to help my husband who was working on first his Master's, then his Doctorate in Engineering. I worked full time while learning to run a household - grocery shop, keep up with laundry, manage our money. 

But my "purpose" has shifted and changed over the years, and at times it has been with great struggle and sadness - moving several times, losing my mother and father, struggling through infertility and coming to the full knowledge that I would not be a mother. 

Last year, as we saw my brother's health declining, I wondered if my purpose, if God's design in not allowing Tim and I to have children, was so that we could care for Matt, bring him into our home, and make him a full time part of our family. 

But now he's gone, too, and so that purpose has fallen away. 

So what is my purpose? As I wrestle through this once again, I come to the same conclusion I did several years ago. My purpose is to love God with all my heart, mind and spirit, and to go where that leads. I don't need children to pour my life into others. I don't need to care for my declining brother to have a focus for my energy and love. 

Hanging in my bedroom for many years was a picture that said, "Heart's desire". I thought my deepest desire was to have children, but in truth, there is an even deeper desire that carries me through all this loss: My deepest heart's desire is to love God. 

So Matt is gone, and I must wade through the mud of that sadness and loss, but my bedrock remains - God's purpose for my life. To love people. To be involved in lives. To give what I can to those around me. 

It won't be Matt I pour my life into. But God is faithful. He has always given me people to love. I know he will do so once again.