Facing Trigger Days

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I don't like to dwell or to allow myself to get lost in thoughts about "how life should be."
I find it to be a dangerous path, a slippery slope per say. 
One that quickly becomes consuming and wreaks havoc on my emotional state. 
For me, it can conjure bitterness, lead to self doubt, and allow anger to resonate.

Fond reflection and remembering the good are quite different but dwelling in a world that is not reality is yet another. But, it is human nature. And in the week leading to what should have been my sixth wedding anniversary I felt the emotions seeping into every aspect of life like a weight thrust upon my shoulders. It would be an outright lie to say that I didn't think a time or two about how 7.26 should look or think about how the vows promised were deeply broken. It wouldn't be true if I said that it didn't hurt or sting to face a day that had long represented one of my most highly regarded and happiest moments. And it certainly would be a lie if I attempted to claim that I never wondered if he remembered or perhaps more so, if he even cared. 

How quickly those reflections can damage the spirit. How quickly they can strip away the truth and replace it with inadequacy, anger, or sorrow. How quickly that little voice can lose sight of the hope and redemption that has been refueling the soul. 

So, I rose with the sun and set out for a run. To clear my mind and my spirit in preparation of a day that for the first time in six years was without significance.  A 'trigger day' as my counselor so endearing calls them. As I ran along an open field, a big yellow butterfly crossed my path and fluttered along with me. I couldn't help but grim as tears of joy welled up. 

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past year is that when I surrender and allow God to work, He meets me in my moments of greatest need. A yellow butterfly, as I was attempting to still my spirit to face a day that came with such weight, provided a serene peace.

There is hope, there is joy, and there is the promise of a future. 
There is life, there is peace, and there is good to come. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I have the privilege of something most don't and it is not something I take lightly.
I know it is rare but I am blessed to say that all four of my grandparents are still living. 

They have been a large part of my life and the older I get, the more I value the gift of time with them. I get sentimental thinking about their farms, the stories of days gone by, and of material things they value. 

So, I make it a point when I go to visit to bring along my camera.
Because I know that someday these times will be memories.

Someday, I want to be able to share with my grandchild like they have shared with me. 
To tell about how much life has changed or about secret family recipes or about the lessons taught to me. I want to share about my times with them and how much they (and grandma's cooking) meant to me. 

And my siblings, they have come to really love that I bring my camera along.
And since they love it so, I am nice enough to allow them pose for photos too!

I am not really sorry for making them join in my picture taking fun...someday they will thank me.

Concluding Year 28

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It is my birthday and perhaps my most favorite birthday of all.
Sure my 16th and 21st felt huge at the time because they brought new found freedom 
(although for the record I was the dd on my 21st...safety first friends!) but this is perhaps my most favorite for no other reason than because it came.

I can easily remember this time last year feeling like life would never go on.

I was empty and broken and yet hadn't even learned that there was more to endure. I was struggling to figure out how to feel 'normal' or 'whole' in the face of death and grief. No matter what I did, nothing ever seemed to feel right. I suppressed my pain to avoid saddening others and because openly talking about death was taboo. And dealing with the reality of  life was unbearable.  I cried every morning as I got out of bed, each time I was alone in my car, in the shower, behind my sunglasses as I walked the neighborhood, and each night as I tossed and turned in bed.

I could not foresee ever feeling anything but broken again.
I was in a deep, dark place with an expressionless face and void of emotion.
In my brothers words, "I had become a shell."

I can remember looking at myself in the mirror one day and not recognizing the reflection.  All I could see was emptiness in my eyes.
It was in that moment that I told myself that it was time to start fighting.
To dive in head first, face the pain, and deal with each and every emotion as they came.
I had no idea what that meant but I knew if I didn't fight, 29 may never come.

And so evolved my 'Year 28 bucket list'...a list of things to strive for in my year of grief. It was filled with dreams I thought might help to rebuild my spirit and to honor my Addy. And it came with a promise to give myself grace even if all boxes remain unchecked at the end of the year.

In total, 9 boxes made it onto my bucket list. 
And today, as I turn 29, every last one has been checked.

This isn't a moment where I am looking for kudos or praise. 
I share because I want you all to know there is hope. 

In the same year that every box got checked...after having just spent the preceding year preparing for death while pregnant, giving birth and helplessly watching her pink skin fade as she slipped from this life to the next, sitting in the front of a church to celebrate one whom I will forever mourn, and healing a body that naturally went into momma mood post delivery...after having just endured that year, year 28 also brought a painful day of sitting on the stair of my home and watching as he carried his belongings to his car and then standing in the garage as he drove off to another life. In year 28, a series of lies that tainted everything I believed to be true unraveled and I found myself sitting in a court room, raising my right hand ending what I wholeheartedly believed was my forever. And year 28 brought the painful task of separating all that we had worked so hard to build while hitting every milestone and holiday absent of my intended role as a wife and mother.

 Year 28 brought very dark days. Days where I sat in my car, pounding the steering wheel while screaming about how unfair life can be.  Or days where with all my might I would wail on a punching bag leaving my hand blistered or bleeding. There were days when I literally collapsed on the floor unable to catch my breath through the sobbing of brokenness. And even days when I found myself asking for forgiveness after projecting all the hurt within me upon someone else. Those days were real and they still are. But, today as I turn 29, I can attest that through it all, hope is alive.

So let me take a moment to say, if you find yourself hurting from whatever life has lavished on you...death, an unfulfilled dream, unimaginable pain, a new diagnosis or ongoing fight, betrayal, destruction, or devastation...whatever it is, no matter how big or small, know this...there is a plan and that plan promises hope {Jeremiah 29:11}. It is what I have clung to over and over and over this year. 

And that hope is why I celebrate today. 
It has sustained, encouraged, and motivated me through my fight.
And it exist for you too.
Because we are worthy.
Know that.


 Year 28 was a lion and a lamb.
 Through the devastation, good came too.

This 'Year 28 Bucket List' made me feel alive and accomplished even when all was collapsing around me. But I could not have done it alone so before I share the list, I want to say thank you to my family, friends, co-workers, fellow mommas at Alexandra's House, and my very dear counselor. This inner core prayed for me, encouraged and supported me, grieved and healed with me, and loved me through the darkest. So, know that as I share my checked boxes that it was not accomplished alone.

Year 28 Bucket List:

1. Visit one of my very best friend and her husband (whom I adore) in Portland.

Since they moved three years ago, I have been planning to visit but never actually booked. Though planned several weeks in advance, I landed on the doorstep of my dear friend just a week after learning of the affair. It was a much needed escape and I could never tell them how appreciative I was for their support at such a broken time.

2. Take a photography class.

I have always been interested in photography but never actually pursued it as a hobby until this year. So I didn't just take one class, I actually took two! One was an online class and the other was a one-on-two session with my friend Michelle (at the camera shop owned by her family).

3. Get a tattoo.

You read that right, I got inked. I am just as surprised as you.
I actually went in alone for what I thought was a consultation...you know to discuss the design, ensure every thing is sterile, and talk myself out of actually going through with it...and left an hour later with a permanent reminder of my beloved. It makes me smile each time I see it. 

4. Drop the baby weight.

I am and have always been a comfort eater but I knew even the best mashed potatoes and chocolate cake were not going to heal my heart. So instead, I committed myself to what I termed "mind, body, and spiritual healing" and began by cutting out processed foods and refueling my weary self with fresh veggies, fruit, and protein. A paleo-ish approach, lots of boxing (which doubled as my anger therapy), and eventually running and I can say the baby weight plus some is gone. To me though it is not about the numbers, I feel healthier than ever.

5. Paint my room.

It started out simply to paint but ended up being a complete redo. The bedroom was a series of hand-me-down furniture and builders beige walls (I will spare you the before pictures but it was bad). I had a small budget so I had to get creative but I wanted everything to be replaced so that what was once ours would just be mine...down to the blinds! Thanks to the help of my sisters, I love my new room. 

6. Hold a party on Addy's first birthday.

Addy had a really special 'You Are My Sunshine' themed birthday party. 
She is so deeply loved.

7. Complete a 5K (which required me to start running).

With the help of my running buddy, we did it!

8. Literally climb a mountain.

I figured since I felt like I was climbing one, I might as well actually climb a mountain. 
The Girl's Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park allowed me to check that box off! 

9. Commit to an Operation Smile Mission. 

Afraid to fail, I added 'commit' instead of 'complete' a mission to the list but much to my surprise, I was given the most amazing opportunity to journey with Operation Smile to the Philippines. Typically it takes over a year to be assigned a first mission so when they called and told me about the trip to the Philippines in June...less than one month before my birthday...the tears began. I think I asked the lady several times if she meant "this June" and if that would mean "I would be 28." Never would I have believed how it all played out but I am so amazed that it did. My time in the Philippines will be with me forever. 

What a year. What a year indeed.
Through the good and the less than, hope was alive and well.
Praise Jesus that He can make all things new. 

Here is to turning 29...


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