On Coming Alive

Monday, March 7, 2016

The On Coming Alive Project:
Stories of rising from the ashes and coming alive.

It is a beautiful place. Full of authenticity, vulnerability, and so much hope.

You can read my story and the stories of others who have endured heartache and are rising up to come alive. I hope you'll go and be encouraged. 

Word of the Year {2016}

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I don't new years resolutions per say. Every year on my birthday (which is in July), I make a bucket list. I guess it is sorta like resolutions but a bucket list sounds more appealing. And, it is more of a list of things I dream of being able to do over the coming year versus something that I 'must' do. There is no way to fail with the bucket list but I'm certain I would somehow MacGyver my way out of resolutions if push came to shove.
I still feel it is important for me to start the new year off with a focus. It's like a fresh start or a jump start for the coming months. So, I pick one word each January to help guide the coming 12 months. In 2014, it was hope. Lord did I ever need hope after how 2013 unfolded. Can I get an amen?  I literally wrote 'hope' on chalkboards and sticky notes around my house and committed scripture to memory that mentioned hope. 

In 2015, my word was intentional. After spending the preceding year trying to get my bearings in my new world, I challenged myself in 2015 to take a good hard look at my time, my resources, and my relationships and to be intentional with them. Whoa. 

Being intentional lead to a job change to align my career (and subsequently the bulk of my time) with a deep passion of mine. My spare time was also reallocated to include spending time with high school kiddos through a new endeavor at volunteer Young Life leader. 

Being intentional with my resourced forced me to take a big hard look at continuing to live in my home.  It was a security blanket for me but it was more than I needed both in terms of space, emotional ties, and finances. So 2015 brought about selling and moving into a rental for this season. The move allowed financial peace that I've never known, talk about being more intentional with resources.

I'd say I put intentional to the test and came out in a better place as I head into 2016. And so, the word of the year for 2016 is 'bold.' What a terrible word to pick. I don't know what it means really or how it will even play out but I'm challenging myself to it over the next 12 months. I won't lie, it sounds a bit terrifying. But friends, if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. And I'm all about discovering the richness that can come.

Here is to 2016.

Seeing Santa {Year 3}

Monday, December 21, 2015
The first Christmas without my Addy happened to be the first in 13 years without the one who I thought would be my other half forever. It was bitter. Very, very bitter.  

Absent of joy or any desire to celebrate. Empty of any energy to even pretend. 
I so clearly remember just feeling lost. Surrounded by people, I felt invisible. Deeply alone.

I vividly remember praying for January. I needed the season to pass, the jolly carols to cease, the flickering lights to dim, and the feeling of guilt for not having a care in the world for the holiday season to be gone. If I could have hidden and avoided it all, there is no doubt that I would have.

I remember waking up one morning and realizing that my Addy would never know Christmas. I had palpitations as I once again I found myself face to face with yet another reality of death. Robbed of what should be.

On a mission, I gathered her picture and went to see Santa. I have tears in my eyes as I think of the so freshly broken momma determined to create a memory for her child who she longed so deeply for. That Santa, he was simply beautiful and after he didn't skip a beat at my request to take a picture with the only proof I have of my daughter, he asked if I would join in. I didn't want to. I didn't have a desire to sit on his lap but he insisted so I obliged. 

As the picture surfaced when unpacking my Christmas decor this year, I couldn't stop looking at it. A picture I never wanted had me mesmerized. If I could, I would tell that deeply wounded girl, who was so lost and broken and empty to even feel that she truly will be okay. Not then, not any time soon, but eventually she will come to understand a new normal. And ever so slowly, she would surface.

 I would tell her that even three years later, it still hurts and that it will still leave her breathless at times when she remembers back. And yes, still three years later she will feel tears rolling down her cheeks as she yet again waits for a picture with Santa but despite despising when others said it, with time, indeed with time she would know moments of peace. She would come to understand what it means to find purpose and meaning and yes, even hope in the journey. 

She couldn't have understood it then, but I wish she could have known that her beloved Addy wouldn't be forgotten. She feared she would. Terrified that her memory would fade as her marriage did. She worried that she would have to carry her daughter's memory alone but she didn't. Her Addy was, she is, and will forever be so deeply cherished by more than her momma could have ever fathomed.

That picture, circa Christmas 2013, is time capsule reminder of how far I have come.
Aly of three years ago needed to know that though she felt invisible, He was there. 
He was indeed and He still is, delicately mending the broken within. 

The Ranch

Friday, December 4, 2015
Anticipatory Grieving: grief reaction that occurs before an impending loss. 

Nailed it. 
Queen of it.
Feeling, pondering, worrying, mourning. All before the loss even occurs.
Yep, that is me. 


I picked September arbitrarily. Circled it on my calendar months in advance and said that it was the month that my house was going on the market. I knew that I would eventually need to move. For financial reasons, for a fresh start, for the future. Since the finalizing of my divorce (2.2014), it was always in the back of my head as “someday.” So September it was. For no other reason than I needed to give myself a date,  give myself time to come to terms with the date, and then not allow myself to weasel out of it.

I called a realtor in early June to began the much dreaded process. He was so kind but questioned why I wanted to list in September, after all school is already back in session and most looking for a home in the area of my home would want to be settled before the start of the school year. There was no negotiating, September was September was September. I was set.

And then began the actual process. I painstaking sorted, purged, and prepared every inch of my home. It wasn't pretty. Not pretty at all. Anger, grief, sadness, brokenness, and hurt surfaced. I didn't stop. Plowing through so as to know that all things making the move with me would be those that exuded joy and happiness and comfort.

Mid-August hit like a crashing wave. I phoned a financial minded friend and listened as she spoke confirmation that moving was best. Best emotionally, mentally, and even financially. I trusted her. There was no question in her mind leaving me to feel as though I wasn't alone in making such a weighty decision. I'm grateful for her.

When all had all been sorted, touched up, cleaned up, scrubbed, and decluttered, I made a call to the realtor and he returned to do yet another walk through. I assumed it would take a week or so to get things set into motion putting me right on track for a September listing. But, he grabbed his camera, snapped a few pics, and stuck a sign in the front yard. 
Mid August, ready or not.

Two days passed and the listing went active. That very day, there were two showings and within two days of being on the market, it was sold. Two blessed days.

It felt surreal and instantly panic set in as I realized I had no where to go. Where was home? Where was I headed? Would I feel safe, comfortable, at peace? What had I just done? Had I just made the biggest mistake? Could I embrace even more change? Death, divorce, a job change, and now leaving behind the safe haven that was my refuge through it all. 

Friends, what unfolded over the next month is awing to reflect upon.

It was as if it was meant to be. 

I reached out to friends whom I had meant through a Bible study and it just so happened that one of their rental properties was going to be available starting September 1st. Abby and I toured it and felt unsure. It was certainly different than my house...from a 15 year old build to a 1960's home. We affectionately named it 'The Ranch.' One for the obvious reason that it is a ranch style home and the second that it reminded us of the place the Golden Girls lived in. They assured me that I could paint to help make The Ranch feel more like me.

Oddly enough, what bothered me the most about the house were the mix matched appliances. I don't know why they caught my eye when we first toured but they did. It's a rental and certainly not going to have top of the line appliances, I knew that. 

Again, lets just pause before I tell you how the appliances situ unfolded. 

At the advice of my realtor, I maintained the fridge from my home. I was guided that most rentals don't come with fridges so the white one stayed with me. After learning the rental came with a fridge, I assumed I would sell mine. And then, as I was chatting with a dear friend, she casually mentioned that their fridge had died so the decided to upgrade all their appliances and thus they were attempting sell their gently used white ones. As in a white microwave, stove, and dishwasher. You can see where this went. It was as if the stars aligned. My fridge, their other appliances, and a green light from the landlords and suddenly the little kitchen in the rental got an appliance facelift. 

Abby and I painted all the things in the rental white. White, white, and more white and suddenly the little ranch started to look at whole lot more airy. 

And Abby gloriously found the perfect couch on Craigslist. That's right, after selling the couches out of my house, we began the search for our a replacement. I was thinking new, Craigslist never crossed my mind.  I was skeptical and pondered the bugs that could come with a Craigslist find but we went to check it out armed with a signal that if one of us gave, we would quickly bail. Indeed, it was perfect. Almost new and hardly used! Our style, our color, perfect for the new space, and a third of the price of something brand new. Score. 

And, the story of how we manage to get the Craigslist couch from a downtown loft to our little ranch...just the two of us...that is an epic story for another day!  Let's just say we felt like rockstars in the process with her jeep, a borrowed trailed, and hammock ties.

And true to form, the weekend before we were set to move in, I was scheduled to be out of town at The Influence Conference. I pondered not going but knew my spirited needed the refueling. So my family manned a garage sale to finish selling what wasn't making the move and I spent time away, resting and rejuvenating. 

And as I was away, I got a text with a picture of the front of the ranch. Blooming right beside the mailbox were two little yellow flowers. It was like the icing on the cake. We were going to be just fine in the little ranch, we had our sign.

Wouldn't you know, the move went smooth. Praise goodness for friends and family who helped...and the 3890345890843 trips that we took between places so that I could go all Type A on coordinating the move. Perhaps there was a calendar. And perhaps that calendar outlined what would get packed and moved when. One room at a time. Box it, pack it, move it, unpack it, and instantly one room was done. And then repeat, room by room. 

We are settled into the ranch and I haven't looked back. Sure there are things that I miss about my home...like the jetted tub, we were one...but there are things that I have instantly come to appreciate about the ranch. It's little, and cozy, and making us feel welcomed. It feels more manageable and more financially freeing. It's a new start, a clean slate. 

The move that I long feared is behind me and our little 1960's ranch is filling the void. 
And, wouldn't you know, I'm a-o-k. 

All before September even drew to an end.  Listed, sold, moved, and settled.
As my realtor expressed, "Because God is good and when you trust him, He provides."

September, it indeed was. 

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