Friday, December 3, 2010


My dad's birthday is on Christmas day.

Yep. It's true.
See the birthday balloons in the background?
That means however awful the holidays were going to be, multiply that by an impossible number and you'll get the what's-left-for-us-to-celebrate-anymore heartache that I am overwhelmed by often.

Perhaps it sounds insensitive, but I never thought I would be one of them: the ones who just can't do Christmas like everyone else because it hurts too much.

But now I am one of them. I miss my dad more than I even knew I could ever miss someone. I often find myself desperately looking for him, seeing a truck from a distance that looks like his (and sometimes with a driver who resembles him closely), going places I once went with him, wishing that just one more time, he could be there.

And Christmas is never going to be the same. I want to say that it won't ever be good again, but I am hoping.

I'm hoping that though the pain is so real, this will be redeemed.

The void left in my family. The destruction left in the wake of destruction. The hurtful words that have been spoken to us by those who should have spoken love & grace. The what's-left-for-us-to-celebrate-anymore heartache that hopefully, won't always overwhelm. The incredible abyss of loneliness, and the fear of community that keeps me from reaching out.

I'm holding on to my precious, valiant Jesus, hoping.

I am struggling, this is true. But I'm holding on, for dear life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I was at my church several weeks after that day for a fundraiser and my pastor made eye contact with me for a short moment. I was trying to mill about and keep busy, while pleading silently for someone - anyone - to ask me how I was.

You might know how that goes - wanting to be alone and to be noticed & cared for all at once.

He walked over and answered my silent pleading. "How are you doing?" he asked. I was standing with my sister, and so I looked at her, wondering if she would answer first so I could dig for words. My heart was so raw, but looking ahead somehow, hopeful. I think I answered something akin to "so-so".

Then he asked us what he could pray for, for us.

"Peace," I answered.

It has been such a fleeting thing over the last eight months.

But I think I have just realized it.

I have been so awful to be around. I'm convinced I inheirited my dad's restless nature, and that thing - whatever it was - that made him on edge all the time, and hard on people. I get nasty if I am under stress, I get resentful if I feel under-appreciated. And wow, I blame other people for everything that goes wrong. It has been the root of dishonour and disunity in our home, in my relationship with my husband and our housemate. I have allowed things to get ugly.

One morning a few days ago, I read this:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:27

My heart softened as I was reading His words, His promise to me.

My peace I give to you.

I've allowed my heart to become troubled. But really, to be able to extend grace to those around me (which perhaps is a part of the issue here, I have forgotten how to give grace), I don't need anything more than what He has already promised and given. His peace.

His peace in the midst of chaos... dirty dishes, dirty floor, dirty bathroom, dirty laundry.

His peace despite the profound pain of never knowing why my dad did what he did.

His peace as a balm for my very broken heart.

And so, I ask for it again & again & again.

Will you join me?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


After a conversation with a friend on frustration and alone-ness in this season, she passed on to me a post from To Write Love on Her Arms from November 20.

November 20 was National Survivors of Suicide Day.

Along with the post, she had found a list of resources on suicide, way more than I have ever been able to find. And at the top of the list were several online support groups for survivors.

Sometimes I feel like hiding what has happened - talking about it is just too huge and painful and awful. Perhaps that is because almost anyone I can potentially talk to has never lived it.

But somehow, the thought of opening up to others who know this grief, it came as a relief.

To know I am not alone, that my family is not alone, that our grief is different and that's okay... it helps.

And what Reese Butler says in that post..."The greatest honor and tribute I could give [her] was to become as healthy and productive as possible and use the power of that loss to help others not suffer the same fate. Loss can trigger in those left behind powerful emotions that if channeled can move mountains."

When I read that, something clicked.

I don't have to keep dwelling on the pain, although that is legitimate and good for a time. I want my emotions and my grief to be used for something. I want to be healthy and productive and - as trite as it may sound - happy again.

So I guess that starts with the opening, the honesty, the community.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

why i write

I don't know if the title of my blog is curious to you.

But I want to speak to it, my writing of words and how this is a healthy new season for me. Or at least the first steps toward it.

I have always loved writing.

But I am also a perfectionist, and want what I create to be good. The best. I love being the very best.

I set myself up for failure because I can't always be that. And my words run dry because I can't write up to my own expectations. Or perhaps I can, and do, but in the process I lose the gift that expressing myself in the written word truly is, to me. I get so distracted by impressing others that I completely forget the necessary: making myself small and seeking to meet God in the gifts he has given me. Instead I tend to make myself big and seek a name, a reputation, an applause.

So, and unintentionally I think, about a year and a half ago I took a break. I lost my words for a season, or at least the motivation to put them on paper.

And in the midst of that season, I lost my dad.

I was the strong one in my family, for the first few months at least. I was the strong one, for everyone else, and then when taken away from people, the sadness would overwhelm me completely. I pretended to be okay, thought I was grieving in a healthy way, but I. Was. Not. It took a couple of visits to a counsellor to really get this through my thick skull.

My confession is this: I don't think I started this blog with the best intentions. I really don't. I wanted to use it to commend myself, to build myself up. And I don't think I am ever really that great at being honest with others about what I'm feeling and instead try to put a pretty face on it in an effort to convince them that this life with Jesus, it is what they need -- and even more so, that I am great, worthy, talented, the best. I am tired of trying so hard!

So I have begun giving those efforts up. Letting go.

And I want this place to be one where I am free to put my thoughts, sorrows, and joys into words without fear of what others may judge about me. I want this to be a freeing place. I can't think of a time when my expression and creativity has actually been freeing. But I know that it is possible.

And that is why I have subtitled this blog "learning to live, love, walk & WRITE on the other side of tragedy"... I want to learn to write, again, and in some ways, for the very first time.

May Jesus use this to restore & heal & give freedom.


Friday, October 29, 2010

these days

It was my birthday yesterday, my 21st. My husband schemed secret plans with friends I didn't even know were in town and got me out of the house long enough to move in a brand new sofa! 'Twas very exciting, and just such a good day.

It was hard to watch it end, though.

I find myself really clinging to these good days, because the bad ones just seem much more common, and magnified.

I know that God has made each one of my days before they come to be. I know... and remembering this, finding and listing blessings each day, it helps me.

But the bad days can just seem so bad.

And even in the midst of a good day, there is still a nagging sorrow that hangs over my heart.

I can't escape the fact that my dad is gone, and he chose to go.

I listened to the audio recording of the funeral the other day. I was alone in the house, and just sat with my journal and listed things I was thankful for in the midst of all of this... otherwise I may have lost it. Gratitude...

One of the things God brought to mind, was something I think He began bringing to mind shortly after the initial trauma wore off - and it was just a deep hope that Jesus knew him, He really knew him. I honestly don't know how all of this works, if dad is with Jesus right now, and I don't know what you believe about that so I hope no one takes offence when I talk about this.

(Please stay with me as I try to stammer this out.)

I think my dad knew Jesus, but I don't think you could say he walked with Him. I've thought a lot about this, and I will be frank in saying that I don't know what that will mean for eternity for him.

But I do, I do, trust the character of my Jesus. I trust that He is just, and I trust that He is mercy. And as much as it hurts, I trust Him to decide what He needs to decide about my dad's life.

What I am trying to say, though, is how thankful I am for the way God unfolded the seasons of my dad's life on earth, and how He drew him to Himself. I am so thankful for his childhood in the church, and even though he spoke to me about how he grew up experiencing confusion about salvation, I have a deep hope He placed his faith in Christ during that time.

And I am so thankful for the season we spent attending church as a family, and how his faith was solidified and nurtured during our time there.

His doubts, struggles, and confusions notwithstanding, Jesus knew him. He really knew him. And that comforts me, deepens my hope.

This post didn't really turn out the way I thought it would, but there it is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

there is goodness

There is goodness in this
life, pain, suffering,
having to walk through a thicket of grief,
grieving my father, my daddy, and the hope I had for his life,
gone, gone, gone

and there is good here?!

there is,
that's the promise

oh Your promises, Jesus
to restore, to heal, to perfect

that is the goodness in this
life, pain, suffering

because You are here, here, here

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the first post

so, i am not new to blogging

but i have been waiting to begin this, waiting, waiting
because I don't want to exploit my story,

and perhaps i will share it soon

but until then, this is a space where I can
because i'm told
that writing
is good for the soul