Healing Version 1 (The Great Snailpocalypse of 2015)

My son and his pet snail ”Turbo”.

This past Sunday at our home church a gentleman began praying for a woman to be healed of cancer. He told her that although he’s never seen anyone healed, he completely believes in healing. I wanted to interrupt and scream about all of the healings I’ve seen! But where would I begin? I giggled under my breath as I remembered the first time I saw someone healed. That someone I saw healed wasn’t a someone at all…he was our pet…snail.

Hey, everyone has a version 1. Version 1 is the prototype that inevitably is improved upon before version 2 is ready for market. Think of this story as a very true “rough draft” on my road to learning to pray for others to be healed.

Why did God heal our snail? It wasn’t my faith. I didn’t believe He actually would. It also wasn’t my super-holy-magic prayer. It definitely wasn’t my boldness or courage. In fact, our story begins with me hiding from my kids. My guess? God healed our snail because: why NOT heal a snail? He sits in heaven and does what he pleases (Psalm 115:3). It must have pleased Him to heal Turbo, because He did…3 times!

An Epic Beginning

Our story begins with me crouching down in the kitchen hiding from my 3 and 4 year old children. I’m not proud. I was holding something tiny, gold, and very dead in my hand. His name was Turbo. Turbo was our “pet” snail, and he had apparently drowned in his water dish.

I was hiding with the stupid dead snail because I needed to buy some time to think about how I was going to tell the kids that their treasured snail was dead. He was very dead. No question about it. His shiny gold shell was see-through. We often marveled at how cool it was to watch his heart beat through the shell. This time his heart wasn’t beating. At all. He was oh-so-very dead. Poor fella. Who knows how long he had been dead in his water dish? But he was definitely very dead. He wasn’t even mostly dead. It is very important for you to know how very very dead Turbo was. The snail was definitely a goner.

It was a shame that Turbo had most definitely died this time. I say “this time” because the last time Turbo was at deaths door God healed him. Oh yes my friend. You heard me. God.healed.a.snail. Oh I know how crazy I sound. Imagine how crazy I felt trying to explain it to my kids.

You see, My 4 year old son first found Turbo crawling on our pool early in the summer. None of us had ever seen a bright gold metallic snail before. He was magnificent! He almost glowed! Of course we had to keep him. We jumped on the internet and began learning all about snails. We made a habitat for him. We stopped swimming in the pool so it would produce algae for him to eat. We gave him tons of rotten fruit. He was a happy little snail…until one fateful day when my son accidently launched him off of the pool and on to the hard cement below.

My son was choking back tears when he brought Turbo inside. “I didn’t mean to hurt him! I was just taking him for a walk. I thought he might want to get out of his home and go on a field trip with me to the back deck!”, he sobbed. I took a close look at Turbo. His beautiful gold shell was cracked worse than an egg. I didn’t know what to say or what to do, so naturally I hopped back on the internet. Sadly, the only information I could find clearly stated that a cracked shell is most definitely always fatal for a snail.

As I was debating whether I should attempt to put nail polish on the crack or duct tape (you know, so at least I could console the kids by telling them that at least I tried SOMETHING) , a thought came into my head. What if we laid hands on the shattered invertebrate and prayed for him? It was a hail mary attempt at best, but at least I wouldn’t have to cut microscopic strips of duct tape. So I did what any reasonable snail mother would do and grabbed the anointing oil, Ahem, I mean olive oil out of the cabinet. Turbo wasn’t going down on my watch!

I held Turbo in my hand and called the kids in. We each touched him with one finger. I muddled some sort of super religious prayer with big fancy words. I assumed that the holier the prayer sounded to my kids the more they would believe that I had done literally everything possible to save our precious “pet”. At least we would know that my lack of fancy praying skills wouldn’t be the reason that he croaked. I nailed it!

We put turbo back in his home and brought him some fresh algae. I tried to reassure the kids that Turbo would be “good as new” in the morning. I kissed their sad faces, tucked them in bed, and said “God’s got Turbo”. Then I went downstairs to rehearse which reason I would give them as to why they woke up and found Turbo dead. I was debating between “It wasn’t God’s will”, “God needed another angel”, and “He didn’t get his healing on earth but he’s healed now in heaven”. I decided to go to bed myself and just wing it with the excuse when I woke up. “After all”, I told myself, “kids are resilient.”

Early the next morning I sensed a presence in my room. As I clawed my way out of a deep sleep and in to reality, I saw the shape of my son. As my eyes began to focus I realized that he wasn’t alone. He held Turbo in his hand as he climbed in bed with me. “Mom! Turbo has a new shell! God healed him”. I shot straight up, partially out of confusion and partially because there was now a snail in my bed. I cleared the sleep from my eyes, put my glasses on, and reached for the snail. I thought I was being pranked.

I couldn’t believe what I saw! Every place on Turbos shell that had been cracked the day before had a sealed ridge on it. It literally looked like the stupid snail had been to an auto body shop overnight and had been welded back together. You know, welded with shiny gold shell welding material or something. Or maybe God used caulking. Who knew? Not me! So I left my son jumping on the bed and hopped on the internet again. Nope. Snail shells don’t regenerate on their own. I was at a total loss.

Then another idea crept in. What if God had ACTUALLY healed the snail? Could He? Would He? Was my prayer just so good that God couldn’t ignore it? Was the olive oil magic? WHAT JUST HAPPENED? One thing I knew for sure…that snail was special! Or maybe God was just weird. Regardless, it was now settled in my heart that Turbo was most definitely “our pet”.

So back to me hiding in the kitchen. In light of the previous snail welding, I have to confess that I was disappointed to be holding a dead body. The little guy had grown on me. As I crouched down next to the dishwasher I had a conversation with God. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of disrespectful. “Um, God? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????!!!!! I literally just explained to my kids how you healed their pet. We all experienced you reaching down from heaven to touch our snail and our hearts. Turbo taught us that you care about your creation. Turbo showed us that you do creative miracles. Turbo taught us that you care about even the silly things that vex us. We experienced YOU because of this silly snail. Now all we have is a shiny gold welded shell as a shallow reminder. Do you care, or don’t you? I’m confused.” That was all I could manage to get out before I heard the pitter patter of my kids running in to the kitchen.

“Hi mom”, my son said. “Whatcha got there?” Busted. I had no time to think so I just said the first thing that came to my mind. “I was just getting ready to call you and your sister in to help me pray for Turbo. It seems he is not feeling well. I think he might have had too much water last night.” I know, I know. As the words came out of my mouth I felt like a complete idiot. It was the best I could do considering that I had just been caught hiding in the kitchen with a dead body.

So my son grabbed my daughter and I grabbed the olive oil. Again we each placed a finger on the tiny gold shell. It was unclear to me whether the kids actually knew that Turbo was gone, so I prayed a very vague prayer. I didn’t want them to know that this was a “raise the dead” situation, so I said a simple “heal the sick” prayer so as not to point out the obvious. We all said “amen”, then I slipped Turbos tiny lifeless body back in his home. I swallowed hard, and then whispered “Please God, don’t smite me for lying!” under my breath.

Later that afternoon I saw my son and daughter outside harvesting algae off of the pool. Turbos home was outside with them. I braced myself for the worst. I was now certain that they had discovered that Turbo was dead, although I wasn’t sure why they were still harvesting algae for him. I went to our treat basket and grabbed some candy to take to the kids. I was hoping that candy would help to “soften the blow” of learning of Turbo’s tragic demise and Gods sudden disinterest in our pet. I mentally rehearsed my “he got his healing in heaven” speech, took a deep breath, and slowly stepped outside.

When I got close to the kids I suddenly realized that they weren’t alone. You could not have convinced me in that moment that ghosts don’t exist. I had to blink a few times because I wasn’t sure I was seeing correctly. Yup. It was definitely there. Turbo was adhered to the pool and taking an afternoon stroll. Behind him was a fresh “snail trail” of slime. I got closer just to verify that the snail in question was definitely Turbo and definitely not a ghost. Gold shell, Check! Gold ridge over the formerly broken gold shell, Check. Beating heart observed through formerly broken but now welded gold shell, check. Definitely Turbo and definitely alive. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think it was a “hallelujah” that came out of my mouth.

“Whatcha guys doing”, was all I could manage to say to my kids after I had gained my composure. “Hi mom! Turbo is feeling better so we decided to take him out for another field trip. Oh, and he needs fresh water and algae.” “I’m so glad he is feeling better”, I said still in disbelief. “What do you guys think happened? Why is he suddenly alive, -I mean- well?” “God healed him again”, they both said matter-of-factly. They didn’t even look up when they said it. They just kept gathering algae like it was a perfectly normal day. I retreated slowly back in to the house like a complete coward.

I had either just witnessed my second creative miracle, or I was certifiable. I wasn’t sure which one. As I watched my kids play on the back deck I started talking to God. Again, I was a bit disrespectful. “Um, God? WHAT WAS THAT? I can’t even explain what happened to myself, let alone my kids! What is with you and this snail? Did you really just heal a SNAIL twice? My best friend just died of metastatic breast cancer. Did you give her miracle to the stupid snail?” It was just too risky for my heart to believe. There was too much at stake. I ended my prayer with “God you are just so weird”. It was the only “respectful” insult I could think of to hurl at God.

But God wasn’t through with me yet, and he certainly wasn’t through with Turbo. Turbo enjoyed a lovely summer with the kids. He slept upside down in his home at night, and ate fresh algae and rotten fruit in between field trips to the back deck each day. His weld ridge filled gold shell shone brilliantly imperfect in the summer sun. As the kids began to lose interest in their pet, I slowly took over caring for him. I’m really more of a dog person, but that silly snail had really grown on me. I even caught myself affectionately calling him “Lazarus” from time to time.

In late summer the unthinkable happened. I woke up one morning and realized that I had forgotten about our tiny pet. The kids hadn’t mentioned him and I had otherwise occupied myself with the business of “momming”. As I walked downstairs I tried to remember the last time I had fed Turbo or even checked on him. I got close to his home and stopped dead in my tracks. Evidently it had been quite a while. The smell was awful! I no longer held on to the hope that Turbo had managed to survive my negligence. The scene was horrific. There was rotten fruit and rotten snail all tangled together in a putrid web. I could barely tell where one stopped and the other started. Both the fruit and the snail were growing hair, I mean mold. He was no doubt, unmistakably, deader that dead this time. He was barely recognizable. Alas, such a tragic end to such a cool pet!

It WOULD be tragic if that was ACTUALLY the end. But our story doesn’t end here. You see, I had learned some things along the way. I had learned that I can’t kill that which God has ordained to live (with my apologies to all of the dead succulents in my house). I had also learned that clearly what I say in a prayer doesn’t matter. I had prayed a fancy prayer the first time, and I had straight lied to my kids in prayer the second time. The snail didn’t live BECAUSE OF my prayer, it lived IN SPITE of my prayer. I also learned that my kids clearly had more belief than I did. It wasn’t a stretch for them to believe that God would heal their snail. They inspired me to let go and start believing like a child again. Lastly, I had always been told that a person was healed (or not) solely based on their level faith. Those with faith were healed. Those without faith were not. Yet, the weirdness of the great snail healings had now caused me to reexamine this belief. How could the snail have faith? He was dead. Ah, and he was a SNAIL. Snails cant have faith, can they?

You know who else couldn’t have had faith for healing because he was also dead? Lazarus. And I bet he was just as stinky as Turbo. With the story of Lazarus fresh in my head, I put on gloves and a mask and removed the gold ridged shell from his hairy home. I held him in my gloved hand for a minute, then checked for a heartbeat. I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. Not only was there no heartbeat, but there was no discernable body. Only the shell (and the smell) remained. Yet, I couldn’t seem to put him down. “Why not go for it”, I dared myself.

I didn’t bother with the oil this time. I simply thanked God for all that He had taught me throughout our journey with Turbo. I read the story of Lazarus out loud over Turbos shell. Like Jesus, I thanked God that He heard me. Then I mustered up as much childlike belief as I could and commanded Turbo to “Come Out!” I opened my eyes and waited. Drumroll please…

Nothing. No triumphant resurrection. No sudden manifestation of a new body. No heartbeat. Just a gold ridged shell with mold. “Oh well”, I said as I put the shell in a cup. It wasn’t a total loss. At least we had a cool shell to keep. It would forever remind us of the summer that God used a tiny snail to teach us about His weirdness, I mean His greatness.

I have taught my kids since infancy that there are no sad endings in life thanks to Jesus. Jesus redeems EVERYTHING. If the bad guys look like they are winning, it just means the story isn’t done yet. Hang on for the end and see how Jesus redeems the good guys! If the good guys are experiencing tragedy that just means the story isn’t done yet! Hang on for the happy ending! There may be bad guys in their lives. There may be tragedy in their lives. There may be sadness in their lives. But, that isn’t where their story ends. It just means God isn’t done writing the end yet. Hang on for the happy ending.

Guess what? Not only did Turbos story NOT end in death, but it had the happiest of endings possible! I think Turbo would agree that he had a happy ending. Up until that summer I would have never imagined that a snail could feel happy. But then again, I would have never imagined that a snail could be welded or raised from the dead twice either. You heard me right. TWICE. Yet there I was, scooping up a very much ALIVE snail from the cup I had placed him in earlier that day. I put his bodiless shell in the cup by the sink, and discovered him walking around the rim of the cup later that day when I went to wash dishes. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. I assure you that this is all gospel truth.

Turbos story ends with him being surrounded by his whole family. We decided that it was time to let our miracle snail go. Together we released him in to my garden on the back deck. He could eat all the rotten fruit he wanted to there, and it was right next to the algae tub…I mean pool. He would always be our first pet. He would always be our weirdest pet. He would forever be the reason that I got to know “Weird God”.

Weird (Adjective) Connected with fate or destiny; able to influence fate.

What to Say (When You Don’t Know What to Say)

We are “that” family. Chances are good that you either know us, or you know a family like us. We are the family that has had a series of unfortunate events. It’s been a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-year, Alexander.

It is awkward all around. Our family desires to walk the fine line of both courageous transparency in the pit and bold broadcasting of triumph in the victory. In seasons of extended destruction, I find that I don’t walk that line very well. I want to say something inspiring or encouraging in the midst of our struggle, but I don’t know what to say. I’m self-conscious. Even in difficult seasons I like to be a life-giver, not a life-drainer.

I know how awkward it can be for you too. I have been you. You see a family struggling and you want to say something helpful, but you can’t find the words. You want to find that magic phrase that will take away all of the pain. But what if you say the wrong thing or it is taken the wrong way? What if your words just make it worse for a family who is already going through something terrible? Paralysis of analysis sets in, and you decided that it is better to say nothing at all than to risk using careless words.

I have been on both sides of this awkwardness so many times. I have put my foot in my mouth so many times. And mostly, I have found myself wishing that someone had just written a manual for the rest of us. You know, a “What to say when you don’t know what to say” for dummies.

I’m no expert, but I do want to at least approach this topic and take a stab at it. Below is a collection of things that people have said to me (or done for me) that have actually impacted my heart and lifted my load a bit while walking through fire.

  1. Sometimes all I need is to feel heard. I need to externally process with a safe person who’s only job is to listen and validate that my voice has been heard. My brother has been amazing at this. Sometimes he calls just to validate that I am not shouting into a soundless abyss.
  2. This is controversial for some who strictly adhere to conservative religious doctrine. I’m not here to debate that, just share how powerful it was when a Christian friend of mine saw the look on my face after an ultrasound and simply shouted “FFFFFUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!”. She knew that I had just learned that my baby was dead. My dead baby was an injustice of universal proportions. My friend heard my heart crying out with the pain of injustice, and she cursed the universe on my behalf. I needed that.
  3. One time I was on a Zoom meeting with a mentor of mine who lives in Idaho. I had just shared with him about battling for one of my children who was dealing with crippling anxiety and suicide. I told my mentor that between my medically fragile child and this child, I haven’t slept in close to a decade. My mentor began crying and said the most healing phrase to me: “Just because you have an enormous capacity doesn’t mean that it’s okay that you have had to operate within it for so long.” Validation.
  4. I have found that it is particularly difficult to be transparent with the depths of our struggle. I often default to phrases like “I’m doing fine”, “God has a plan”, and “I don’t need anything right now”. That isn’t accurate. What I really mean is “I’m afraid”. I’m afraid of judgement. I’m afraid of losing you if I am a Debbie Downer. And I’m afraid that I will discourage you when all I want to do is fill YOUR bucket. Many friends have circumnavigated this fear by using the following phrases:
    1. “Thank you for being transparent with me. Transparency takes courage, and you are so brave.”
    2. “I know you. I see WHO YOU ARE, not what you are going through. There is a difference, and I see it.”
    3. “I respect you. There is no pity in my heart, and you are not my sympathy project.”
  5. I often get tunnel vision when I am in survival mode. I don’t know how to tell you what I need. All I know to do is keep doing what I have always done. When I have to stop and delegate a task to a helper it is just one extra thing I have to do. I am not Neurotypical to start with, and certainly not in a crisis. Don’t wait for me to respond. just show up. Show up, load the car seats in your car, and take my kids somewhere super fun. Show up with groceries. Walk our property and pray for us. Send my kids a gift. Kick me out and clean my house. Show up to watch my kids and insist that I go take a nap. Just please don’t make delegate to you or respond to you. I can’t.
  6. I have 3 friends (one of whom I’ve never met) who text me several times a week just to check in. They remind me that I am on their radar and that I don’t owe them anything. Our relationship is solid whether I give them a life update or not. And they persist. I can’t always reciprocate, and they don’t need me to. They are just there.
  7. Lastly, a friend recently adapted the phrase “I understand what you are going through” to make it less superficial. He simply said, “I understand that what you are carrying is enormous”. That phrase resonated so deeply because it was validating.

A big THANK YOU to each of my friends who had the discernment to say or do something worthy of making this list. Everyone is different. My hope is that this list can serve as a starting place for others who find themselves confused about how to help “that family”.

Redemption Eve (part 2)

Santa visited Clara in the hospital on Christmasd Eve

Our story of Clara’s first Christmas Eve left off with Clara wrapped up and swaddled in hospital blankets. She was lying in a red wagon. Oddly, she was somehow reminiscent of baby Jesus…wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. I pondered these things in my heart as I pulled the little red wagon back up to the KISU.

I held Clara as she started to drift off to sleep. I turned the TV on to watch ”Mystery Diagnosis”. I like that show because in one short hour the medical team solves the problem and saves the patient. Our medical team had been at it for 6 months and had still not diagnosed or saved my daughter. Plus, the tv drowned out the sounds of the monitors and alarms. Alarms went off all the time, each with a different panic inducing tone.

My Christmas Eve was most certainly not a silent night. Nothing was calm or bright. Clearly the writer of that song had never spent Christmas Eve in a hospital…or a stable for that matter. Had he ever heard a woman giving birth? Mary did not have a silent, calm, or bright night either.

Around the time Mystery Diagnosis revealed that the patient was sick because he had swallowed a battery, I noticed that Clara was asleep. I put her in her crib and I laid on the floor below her. Oddly, it had become my favorite place to rest. It was cold and hard. It reminded me of the season I was in. Cold. Hard. Isolated. The floor was the lowest point in the room. I was at my lowest point metaphorically. I thought it would be fitting to be on the lowest point. The floor wouldn’t judge me. It was used to being low. I was just keeping it company.

But more than that, the floor represented something solid. It didn’t give. There was so much uncertainty that Christmas Eve that I think I needed something certain. I was certain that the solid floor would hold me up and it would not give way. So I clung to the one thing that was still holding me up when my world was crumbling in uncertainty around me.

From the floor I called out from the deepening caverns of my soul… “God! Where are you? I thought you made beauty from ashes! No parent should have to kiss their children goodbye on Christmas! Being apart from my other children tonight is just too much. And you wouldn’t let Clara die tonight, would you? That is cruel! If you must abandon me to the hospital floor, just heal my daughter first. I will take the ashes if I must, but don’t make Clara suffer. I’m so scared for her. She has so many tubes and leads and lines hanging off of her tiny body. Don’t you care? IT’S CHRISTMAS, for Christ’s sake! Of all the days!”

And from the space next to me on the cold, hard floor He answered me. It’s as if He had been sitting there listening all along and had just suddenly decided to speak up. His words were simple and His tone compassionate. He dropped a reminder in to my heart and just sat there with me until it registered.

“I know what it’s like to worry about your child on Christmas Eve. I know the pain of separation from your children and the fear that they will suffer.”

And just like that He was silent. Is it just me or does God seem to have a flair for the dramatic? Normally I would like a good dramatic effect, but not on a floor-dwelling-seperate-from-your-family-on-Christmas-and-worried-about-your-baby kind of night. I wish He would have just told me that everything was going to be okay.

And then it sank in…

God spent the first Christmas Eve without His son. That is why Christmas exists in the first place. Jesus was in a foreign place and away from His Fathers care. God entrusted Jesus to Mary and Joseph (and a few shephards and sheep) just as I have entrusted Clara to her doctors. The hospital is most certainly a foreign land. It was profound. He really did actually understand. Woah.

I sat on the hospital floor and let it all sink in. I closed my eyes and pictured God and Jesus separated for the first time. I believe God was laying on the floor like me that first Christmas Eve. The lowest point in heaven would have been the closest point to earth, the foreign land that was now trusted to care for His absent son.

Not silent. Not calm. Not bright. But perhaps holy.

Redemption Eve (part 1)

 

December 22, 2015. I arrived at the Emergency Department with my 6-month-old baby. She was turning blue, so I loaded her in the car and took off for the ED. Once there, the receptionist (who was a nurse) peeked at baby Clara and then jumped up to grab a doctor. It all happened so fast after that. The memory of that night still swirls through my mind in a million tiny broken photographs. The jagged edges of the photos still stab my heart as they blow.

It turns out that Clara’s heart had stopped. A code was called, and my baby was snatched from me. I followed the crash cart into a tiny room. I stood and watched with my back against the wall. But soon the wall was not strong enough to hold me up. My legs buckled. As I slid to the floor I watched as Clara regained consciousness.

From the floor I cried out to all in the room “You saw that, right”. It was more a desperate fishing attempt than an actual question. I was fishing for affirmation. You see, I had taken Clara to the ED 3 times
before that night. I knew something wasn’t right. She was often blue. Like a chameleon, she often changed colors in the magic ED parking lot. Because no one ever saw her cyanosis but me, the doctors at the ED just sent us home.

In fact, I had been to the ED just 2 nights prior to Clara’s code. The Attending met me at the door and refused to triage Clara. He accused me of having Munchhausen Syndrome. Then he told me that he would call for a psych eval for me if I ever showed up with an asymptomatic child again. Showing up at the hospital on Dec 22 was my hail-mary attempt to determine once and for all if there was something physically wrong with Clara, or mentally wrong with me. I got my answer.

And I got many more answers than my heart was prepared to hear. Clara’s O2 was in the 70s and dropping. She was getting admitted…3 days before Christmas. The answer to Clara’s blue color was that she had a hole in her heart. She might need heart surgery. Clara’s O2 was so low because she had pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia to be exact. My milk was not being swallowed; it was going in Clara’s lungs. The answer to the aspiration was to stop nursing her. My heart broke.

Christmas Eve 2015. The kind nurses helped me put baby Clara in a little red wagon. They wrapped her in blankets and let me take her to see her siblings in the cafeteria. I pushed Clara’s IV pole as I pulled her wagon. Riley (4) and Bella (3) were so excited to see us! We decided not to tell them that it was Christmas. We would just celebrate if Clara got home.

IF. “If” became my reality that day. As I sat in the hospital cafeteria eating Christmas Eve dinner with my family, my mind fixated on
Clara’s stocking. It was hung on the fireplace with the others. However, I hadn’t taken the time to monogram it yet. I began tearing up. I was glad I hadn’t spent the money to monogram a stocking that might never be used. It was like a scene from The Christmas Carol was playing out in front of me.

“Spirit,” said Scrooge with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“I see a vacant
seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a stocking
(crutch) without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain
unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

After dinner I put my Tiny Tim back in her red wagon and kissed Riley and Bella goodbye. I waved as they walked out of the hospital. I turned to walk away, but Bella came running back in for one last hug. I held my healthy daughter tightly as I looked at my sick daughter. It was Christmas Eve. Clara
was wrapped up and swaddled in hospital blankets. She was laying in a red wagon. Oddly, she was somehow reminiscent of baby Jesus…wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.

To be continued…

 

An Unconventional Christmas Card

Happy Holidays to my readers! Thank you for following me through the ups and downs of 2021.

Each year we send our friends a “Leap Second” instead of a traditional Christmas card. I find that our family packs way too much living into our lives for just one family picture to capture. So, we have taken a 1 second video of ourselves each day over the last year. Together these videos capture Team Thompson doing what we do best… instigating happy chaos.

I picked a song that I feel best represents our year. It should be noted that not all of Team Thompson is in agreement about my song choice. “One of the family members” thinks we should have chosen “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. Of course Clara wanted “Happy Dance” by Mercy Me. I decided on “Its Okay” by Nightbirde after realizing that although fitting, “Mad World” by Tears for Fears is a bit off-color for a Christmas card. I think I am supposed to say that I do not own the rights to any of these songs.

Anyway…

Whether a happy song or a dark song represents your 2021, please know that you are seen, appreciated, valuable, and worthy of love. May we all have a 2022 that embodies OneRepublics’s song ”I Lived”.

The View From Under The Table

My counselor recently taught me that we all receive a childhood message. This message can come from the words and actions of the people around us, or simply something we embrace due to circumstances that happen to us. Whatever the message, it feels so true to us as children that it shapes the way we view the world as we grow up.

Growing up with trauma shaped the way I saw the world. More specifically, it shaped the way I believed the world saw me. The message I received as a child is that I am invisible. The world didn’t see me because I didn’t matter. I wasn’t worth seeing. So, I broke alone and unseen.

I remember exactly one time in my childhood that an adult reached into my pain and validated my existence. I was a very driven athlete. I knew that if I continued to excel as a runner, my dad would initiate relationship with me. He was proud of me when I was winning, so I won. I ran through the pain of shin splints and stress fractures. But one fateful day I tore my quad. My running season was over.

I couldn’t go home to cry, so I went to a friend’s house. I was too embarrassed to cry in front of her, so I crawled under her dining room table and sobbed alone. After a few minutes my friend’s mom joined me under the table. We didn’t talk. “Mama Rhoads” just sat there with me so I would know I was seen and so I wouldn’t have to be alone in my sorrow. She didn’t leave me until I had cried all my tears. Then, together we emerged from under the table. It was the first real act of love I had seen.

I carried my childhood message of meaninglessness and invisibility until I met Jesus. He lovingly replaced my childhood message with a new one. My childhood message wasn’t replaced instantaneously, but more incrementally as I learned to trust Him and walk with Him. Over time I began to hear and embrace this new message of identity and value.

This new message started with a lesson in cost and value. I learned that something is only as valuable as what somebody is willing to pay for it. GOD BANKRUPT HEAVEN TO PAY FOR ME. He traded heavens most valuable asset for me. Therefore, I am INVALUABLE! That message penetrated my soul and transformed my identity. But the lessons didn’t end there! God continued to replace my childhood message through a lesson from John the Baptist.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

‘Have you read that verse so much that you missed its significance? Did you know that Jesus did not start His ministry until AFTER He was baptized? God identified Jesus as a son that He was pleased with BEFORE Jesus did anything that could have earned His father’s love, acceptance, or approval. Jesus is God’s son. It was Jesus’s existence that made Him valuable to His Father, not His actions. He was a son, so He was worthy of His Father’s love. If Jesus was seen by God before He ever contributed anything significant to the world, than God must love His children regardless of their contributions.

My childhood message of meaninglessness and invisibility eventually got replaced with the message of the gospel. I was seen, understood, worthy of love, and valuable…based solely on my existence and not my actions. I was transformed by love! I was actually a new creation with a new identity. My childhood message had no power over me. Once the revelation of this new message hit me, I didn’t have to fight to remember it. My childhood message had been erased and replaced. Or so I thought…

But life got hard 6 years ago. My life now included a very sick child. Suddenly my reality included the looming threat of loss. Eventually grief, sorrow, despair, disappointment, differed hope, and sheer exhaustion made me unable to remember anything but my childhood message. I had to fight to be seen and heard by the doctors. My actions affected whether my daughter lived or died.

My friends had no scope for what I was going through, so one by one I lost them all. I lost my friends, my security, and my hope. I was broken again. I didn’t want the world to see me cry, so I once again withdrew to under the metaphorical dining room table. My grief blocked out everything but my childhood message. Again, I found myself alone in my pain, feeling invisible to everyone…especially God.

Last March my despair hit an all-time high. But just as my grief began to overcome me, something extraordinary happened. You happened. You brought us dinner. You sent us a card. You sent us food and gifts. You came to the hospital and brought me coffee. You held a prayer meeting for us. You sent us a donation. You had your kids color us a picture. You called a doctor for us. You knew I was under the table, and you crawled under there with me.

At first, I was confused by your love. I wanted to believe that I was valuable, but I was skeptical. Your actions were filtered by my childhood message. I was certain that the love would stop once you realized that I couldn’t reciprocate. My capacity was so consumed with keeping my daughter alive that I literally didn’t have it in me to write you a thank-you note. My childhood message had taught me that my value was based on what I could offer to you. I had nothing to offer you but the view from underneath the table. The floor there was cold and hard, so I assumed that you would leave. But you didn’t.

You kept sending gifts and donations. You kept sending cards. You kept calling. You kept bringing me coffee. And then you offered to babysit my kids. You took them bowling because they don’t get to do a lot of fun things. You showed up with my favorite flowers. You reached out to others for donations for us. And then you had fundraisers for us. You donated your items for our yard sale. You donated your time for our yard sale. You promoted our yard sale. You helped clean up our yard sale. And then you shopped our Scentsy fundraiser. You just kept coming and you didn’t leave.

Eventually I will emerge from under the table. There is no more room! I am surrounded by a massive group of stubborn friends who refuse to let me feel invisible. You saw me under the table. You refused to let me cry alone. You expected nothing of me. You refused to leave when I couldn’t offer you as much as a thank you note in return. You made my view from under the table your view too. You have invested in me…not because you have anything to gain, but because you deemed me worthy of love.

That is the message of the gospel. Jesus had nothing to gain by dying. We had nothing to offer Him in return. Yet He deemed us worthy of His love anyway. You have been Jesus to me. Your relentless pursuit of me while hiding under the table has done more than just provide for my physical needs. You have fought off my childhood message of worthlessness for me at a time when I have been too battle-weary to do it for myself. You reminded me of my worth. You showed me that I am visible and loved. And you didn’t give up on me. I have felt the presence of Jesus and the tangible love of the Father because of you. You made difference. Thank you.

This is me around age 4.

I started running track in middle school, and ran until my Freshman year of college.

I Should Have Died In 2000

December 15 2000.

Around the time of my “wreckaversary” each year I write about my car accident. I usually write about how the news called me the “Christmas Miracle” or about how the fire from the accident burned so hot that it caused $250K in damage to I95.

On past wreckaversarys I have also written about how I was in the car when it hit the semi-truck, and eyewitnesses testify that I wasn’t thrown from the vehicle. Yet, I mysteriously ended up in the median with no burns but the ones from my airbag.

Lastly, I have shared in past wreckaversary posts about how the Honda Corp did an in-depth investigation of my wreck to try to figure out the mystery of my survival. They concluded that if I had hit the truck even a centimeter off from where I did that I would have been crushed.

But I have never shared this part before. I thought it was just too special to share. Or maybe deep down I believed it was just too weird to share. If you know me well than you know my obsession with Weird God. I’m out of the closet with Weird God so I might as well share the rest of my story…

The last thing I remember as I went airborne toward the truck was thinking “I’m about to meet God”. I was right. The impact of the accident caused a massive explosion. All around me fire was raging, yet I never felt its heat or saw its blaze. I wasn’t there. I was walking on the ocean with God.

No really….I was a little girl again, maybe around 2 years old. I was wearing a red jumper with a white blouse. I had 2 pigtails with red ribbons tied sloppily in bows. I was in Gods arms and we were walking on top of the ocean. We walked in silence, for we just understood each other. I rested my little blond head on His chest. My red ribbons flapped in the ocean breeze. It was a typical beautiful sunny day out in the middle of the ocean.

Eventually God stopped. He communicated to my heart somehow without using words. He shared with me that the whole world was His and that He could show me anything I wanted to see. I giggled and communicated to Him that I wanted to see fish. God smiled at me, then touched the water with His hand. When He touched the water 3 fish came out. They were swimming in mid air in front of my face. One of them tickled my nose. I laughed.

Suddenly I sensed joy in My Fathers heart. I looked up at His face. It was the first time I looked at Him. We locked eyes. He has gentle eyes. He was crying. He smiled as He cried, then He held me even closer to His heart. Gods heart spoke to my heart that He was delighting in me. My request to see fish delighted Him. My giggle delighted Him. My little crooked pigtails with red ribbons delighted Him. I was His treasure and I delighted Him.

My visit with God on the ocean came to an abrupt end. I was in the median coughing up blood. My head was pounding. I remember a man holding me up and asking me for my moms phone number. I remember the helicopter ride to the hospital. I remember the nurse with the green eyes. I remember my mom flying me home to Ohio to recover. But I don’t remember the flames from the fire…because I wasn’t there. I was walking on the ocean with Weird God.

Built and Rebuilt

A Story of Redemption After Miscarriage.

This is a picture that I drew of Gabriel. It is how I have always pictured him in my mind.

This is a long post. It won’t be relevant to all of my readers. But there are many who are walking through the tragedy of miscarriage and need to know that they are not alone. For some reason, miscarriage isn’t talked about. Perhaps we feel shame. Maybe we feel our sadness may burden others. So we just don’t talk about it. This can leave us feeling ashamed, sad, and alone…very alone. I know I felt that way.

So here is my story of Gabriel. His life was’t his to live, but his story is mine to steward.

This is an interesting week for Team Thompson. October 6th was the due date given to the baby that we lost in February 2018. We had named the baby Gabriel.

3 years ago this week God gave me a very vivid dream. I had it 3 times in a row that night. Each time God woke me up and declared with urgency “I am protecting Gabriel!” I didn’t know what God meant. But, if He woke me up with the same message 3 times in 1 night, it was important enough for me to write down and remember.

February 2018 was rough. I have a daughter who is medically fragile, and she was in the hospital for almost a week. I never left her side, in spite of having discomfort with my pregnancy. My daughter needed me, so I would have to get help for myself later.

“Later” was a terrible day. I loved ultrasound day when I was pregnant with my other 3 children! There had never been a complication detected on an ultrasound, so I felt comfortable going to see my little peanut alone. In hindsight, I wish my husband had been there to deflect some of the daggers that went straight for my heart.

The ultrasound technician told me that she didn’t know what she was looking at. The one thing she knew for sure is that Gabriel didn’t have a heartbeat. The doctor offered to send me home with some medication to “take care of it” (trigger my body to miscarry). It? It! His name is Gabriel and there was a promise on His life! God spoke it before he was conceived! Offended, I politely declined the invitation to miscarry my son because I wanted to seek God and stand on the word He gave me.

“Protecting Gabriel”. I knew He would. I’ve seen miracles. I know my God. I’ve judged Him faithful. My faith is unmovable and steadfast. But could it withstand the onslaught of the 2 weeks of fire that followed?

I sat alone in the car after that ultrasound and cried. “You are the God of the impossible”, I prayed. “What do you want me to do? I will fight. I will pray. I will rebuke. I will declare. I will contend. I will surrender. Just tell me what to do! I can’t do this without you!”

His answer surprised me. “Stand. Stand your ground. Don’t fight. The battle is mine. Just stand.”

But what does “standing” look like? I didn’t know. For the next 11 days I went on an emotional rollercoaster as I struggled to comprehending “standing” when my body and mind just wanted to “sit down” for a second.

Standing looked like refusing to doubt Gods sovereignty. Standing looked like calling friends to help me pray through the intense battle in my mind. Standing sometimes looked like crying out to God for mercy during sleepless nights. It looked like refusing to let my circumstance dictate my expectations. It also looked like making a conscious effort to keep myself aligned with Gods truth and not my symptoms. It looked like praise. God calls praise “a sacrifice” because it is a choice to praise Him when we are in the valley.

As the date of my follow up ultrasound approached I found myself exhausted. I didn’t know how I would manage to find the courage to look at the monitor. I cried out to God for mercy. Yet, I never doubted God’s goodness or his ability to perform a miracle in my body.

On the way to my appointment God reminded me of a favorite verse in Jeremiah. It was a strange “pep talk” from the Lord. I wouldn’t know why He chose that verse until later.

Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.

I focused on His words to me as Travis and I walked hand-in-hand to the ultrasound room. I prayed once again for God to give me the courage to look at the screen. I was expecting to miraculously see a beating heart. I held my breath and turned to look.

Nothing. No change. No heartbeat. Just a hollow sack containing cells that should have been Gabriel.

“Death, loss, and destruction” became more than just a plan of the enemy. They became a tangible feeling. After my D/E, “empty” also became a tangible feeling. I didn’t know that having my uterus vacuumed would result in my body feeling just so empty. If I was a doctor I would have named a syndrome after that feeling. “Sudden Tragic Empty Womb Syndrome”. I wasn’t sure that this self-diagnosed syndrome had a cure. It felt fatal. My baby was dead, and I now felt dead inside.

That night in the shower I shared my grief with God. I felt injustice. Of all of the things, what topped my list of injustice was that it was my sons 7th birthday. I had to tell him that he lost his brother in his birthday. The next day was his birthday party. What was I going to wear? If I didn’t wear maternity clothes then I would have to explain to everybody what had happened. Not at a party. It was too much. Was there no mercy for the broken-hearted?

Yet in my grief God spoke. He often speaks in the shower. God gave me a simple invitation. He said that He is the God of “today”. When I had my D/E, my pregnancy was now officially “yesterday”. God invited me to partner with Him in the new things that He was doing because it was a new day. He invited me to follow Him FORWARD.

His invitation didn’t feel anecdotal. It didn’t feel like he was trying to put a Band-Aid on an arterial bleed. He wasn’t testing my faith. He wasn’t promising me that suddenly I wouldn’t feel sad anymore. He wasn’t asking me not to grieve my loss. He was simply speaking life-giving perspective at my point of tragedy.

In His mercy He offered to lead me out of my fatal syndrome, if I would allow Him. Getting stuck here was a choice. I could get stuck in “yesterday” where there was death, loss, destruction, and emptiness, or I could simply take His hand and let Him lead me forward out of it.

But how could I trust the God that had allowed my baby to die? How could I take His hand? He spoke over my son that he would be protected, then my son died. Did God change His mind? Had I done something wrong? Trusting God suddenly seemed risky. Where was my unshakable faith?

Yet hope was calling out to me from tomorrow. I had to try to trust, even if it was risky.

I knelt in the shower with my hands in the air as a sign of surrender. I chose to let my God lead me out. I asked for courage and strength. I declared that yesterday was gone and that I would willingly align with Gods new plan for me for today. I cried and cried and cried.

Surrender didn’t cancel out the pounding of on my heart of my unanswered questions. Like a robber beats down a door to steal valuables, the questions beat on my heart. They threatened to steal what was valuable to me…hope. Why did God speak to me in a dream and tell me that He was protecting Gabriel? Why did He give me such a bizarre verse in Jeremiah that morning? Mostly, I needed my Father to answer my hearts biggest question: “was I faithful”.

Four years have passed and I still don’t know why I had the dream. I may never know. I continue to ask God to show me what I might have missed. However, God did address my other 2 questions. As always, His answers came in surprising ways. God knows just how to communicate to me in a way that I will understand. He “gets” me.

I got out of the shower and picked up my bible. I looked up Jeremiah 31:3. It seemed weird that God gave me that verse. There must have been SOME reason He had given me that verse for that baby on that day. Jeremiah 31:3 reminds me that I have always been loved and that God is kind. I needed that reminder going in to my appointment. However, after my appointment I needed to know that I would be ok, and that I would know joy again.

That’s when I saw it. The very next verse says: “I will build you up and you will be rebuilt. And again you will dance among the joyful.”

Built up and rebuilt. Joyful. There it was. My weird God knew that I needed to know that I wasn’t stuck here. Grief wouldn’t leave a permanent mark on me. God was rebuilding me! There was a promise of joy! Not just joy, but dancing with joy! I visualized myself dancing among the ashes as God made beauty out of them. Wow. How amazing to walk out of a tragedy dancing!

A few things were settled. I wasn’t stuck. He was leading me forward out of yesterday and into today. Today was a new day. Today I was rebuilt and dancing. Today there was JOY for me! But, I still needed to hear from God whether I was faithful in the trial. I wanted so desperately to be found faithful.

Have you ever heard of a “push present”? I hadn’t. I’m pretty sure that if I had known what it was then my husband would have been in a load of trouble! I pushed out 3 babies and evidently he was supposed to give me something for it. My kiddos are such little treasures themselves that I always felt that they were my present. Now I come to find out I could get a baby AND a present? Hmmmmm.

I may be the only person who was new to the concept of a push present. I had to look it up. Evidently, a push present is a gift given to a mom to reward her for a job well done pushing out a baby. The thought is that a mom goes through a lot carrying and birthing a baby. There is pain. There is risk. Our bodies get wrecked. It is exhausting. The theory is that we are deserving of a little something extra for being willing to endure this.

I had taken the risk. I had carried a baby. I had gained the weight. I had 6 weeks of morning sickness. My boobs hurt. I endured the embarrassment of having to do a “no baby” announcement only 2 weeks after doing our “baby announcement”. We had medical bills for the pregnancy. A vacuum had sucked out my baby, but I still gave birth. It felt like injustice. If I didn’t have a baby in my arms then how would I gauge what “a job well done” looked like?

The night Of my D/E I laid in bed exhausted. I didn’t think there were any tears left in my body yet I couldn’t stop crying. Again and again I wondered if God would answer me and how he would tell me If I had been faithful in this trial.

That’s when Weird God did something else weird. I closed my eyes for just a minute. When I did, I saw the beautifully wrapped present. It was pink and gold with a white bow. I can still see it now. There was a tag with writing on it. I pictured myself reading the tag. It simply said “push present”. I definitely got the impression that it was tuning from God. Curious, I grabbed my phone so I could see if a push present was a real thing.

As I read the definition I was wrecked. Wrecked with the love of a Father who would stop at nothing to love me in my grief. It was like he knew exactly how to communicate to me that he found me faithful. He reached down from heaven and touched me on earth. I had been faithful. God himself found me deserving of a push present. Weird God used a concept I had never heard of before to communicate an answer to my deepest question during my darkest hour.

In the days that followed many beautiful people reached out to me. I was so touched by the outpouring of love. I think many friends were surprised that I was moving forward and not stuck. Many said “how are you really doing”. I didn’t know how to help them understand that I really really really really was full of hope. Sadness was there, but hope had become bigger than sadness. God allowed me to bypass a traditional long grief cycle by inviting me to let Him lead me through it. I wasn’t stuck in the sadness. Sadness was there. I courageously addressed the sadness and didn’t turn a blind eye to it. But the sadness had lost it’s sting. I was above the sadness addressing it, not in it.

The best part of the story? That beautifully wrapped pink and gold push present is now tangible. Her name is Gabrielle Joy. She is named after her big brother, and after the joy that came from being rebuilt. As I held her in my arms for the first time 2 years ago I became aware of a new syndrome. “Sudden Tangible Redemption Syndrome”. Gabby was born the same week that we lost Gabriel the year before. I am certain that God knew that February was a month that needed to be redeemed for us.

In closing, I didn’t get stuck. I moved on to joy without looking back. I chose to not ignore the sadness of loss, but to allow God to change my perspective on the sadness. I took a risk and trusted the God that seemingly had allowed my unborn baby to die. God is still rebuilding me. But I have learned the art of dancing among the joyful.

If you have experienced the pain of miscarriage, you are not alone. Im so deeply sorry. I see you. I understand the shame, fear, and sadness. I know why Mothers Day is hard for you. Whether you had to push your baby out or had it suctioned out, you are deserving of a push present. You are not flawed. You are valuable and worthy of love. It takes courage to let others in to our struggles. Vulnerability is risky. What if we are judged? But if you cant see Gods hand leading you out of your sadness, please allow others to be His hand for you. If you need to talk, please reach out to me.

The Question Behind the Question

“Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him”

Elie Wiesel, Night

I have had quite a bit of sales training in my life. Once I even attended a seminar entitled “How to Handle Objections”. In all honesty, I thought the seminar would teach me how to talk anybody and everybody in to buying anything and everything. I found that concept to be quite fascinating! But instead of learning “manipulation 101” at the seminar, I was actually taught a concept that changed how I respond to seasons of adversity in my own life.

The question behind the question (QBQ).

The concept of QBQ suggests that our first reaction to adverse situations is typically outward-focused. Therefore, the questions we ask while in adverse situations are often incorrect and unproductive. These questions come from a place of victimization and defeat. For example: ”Why is this happening to me?” “When will it be my turn?” ”Who dropped the ball?” However, we can actually position ourselves for positive and empowered forward-motion in our situations by asking different questions. These are the QBQs. They look like: ”What can I do to help?” ”How can I make a difference?” “What does it look like to be my best self right now?”

Asking myself QBQs has helped me keep moving forward. More specifically, I have had profound moments of healing when I ask God my QBQs…

“Hank, what can I do to help my situation right now?” “Hank, what can I do to make a difference?” “Hank, what does it look like to be my best self right now?” “Hank, who do you want to be for me right now?”

These specific QBQs have propelled me forward sometimes in seasons of paralyzing fear. This has been my rhythm for several years now.

But what happens in a season when the questions look different? What if the adverse situation is more of a life-and-death situation? What if it’s about more than being uncomfortable, its about saving the life if your child?

“Why can’t the doctors find what is causing my child to be so sick?”

“What do I do when there are no answers?”

“Will my child suffer her whole life and then just die an early death?”

“What am I missing?”

“What if I have to move forward without her?”

But the most sobering question of all is the heavy one that is actually driving all of the other questions. It takes all of the courage in my being to approach this question. It isn’t empowering. It doesn’t move me forward past adversity. It seems more heretical than helpful. But it is so freeing to ask God the question behind all of my other questions…

“Hank, why haven’t you healed my daughter?”

There it is, heavy like a bowling ball dropping on a wooden floor. But more than asking “why”, my heart cries out from the weight of the millions of bowling balls that have been slamming against it as I wrestle this one…

“Hank, are you powerful or are you good? A powerful God would’t ignore a problem He could easily fix. A good God would not allow my child to suffer. Either you can heal my daughter but you wont, Or you can’t heal my daughter, but you want to.”

And like a wrecking ball comes the heart of it all…

“If you are neither powerful nor good, why are you worthy of my praise?”

My QBQs are not structured in a way that beckons me forward. Yet, I desperately feel as though they must be asked and God must address them if I am to move forward. What do we do when our questions keep us stuck? I don’t know. But Im finding the courage to ask them anyway.

“I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions”

Elie Weisel, Night


“I was very, very religious. And of course I wrote about it in ‘Night.’ I questioned God’s silence. So I questioned. I don’t have an answer for that. Does it mean that I stopped having faith? No. I have faith, but I question it.”

Elie Weisel

Because I Matter Too

I believe so much in the power of courageous transparency. I just didn’t realize that I often lack the courage to be transparent. I never considered that I might be hiding behind my smile. I love smiling! My smile is real! But so is the anxiety. So is the struggle. So are the questions. So is the grief.

A few months ago a man with whom I respect greatly asked me how I was partnering with rest in that season. I had no idea what he meant. I sleep sometimes, therefore I rest. He knew I didn’t understand. He didn’t correct me or try to explain himself. He just simply said “You are more than just a machine spitting out miracles. You are a daughter.” But I was too busy healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the leaper, and casting out demons to consider why I was actually doing all of it.

The dangerous thing about signs, wonders, and miracles is that we can fall for the trap of believing that they are required for God’s acceptance. If our understanding of our authority in Christ is greater than than our understanding of our identity in Christ, we can begin believing lies. We can begin believing the lie that our ability to perform miracles is somehow a sign that we are approved by God. We can think we are more special to Him than others who haven’t facilitated miracles. Or, we may believe the lie that signs, wonders, and miracles are a sign that we “have arrived”. Arrived where? Relationship isn’t a destination. Lastly, we can believe the lie that they are are requirement on the road to earning Gods acceptance. I know this because I have believed all of these lies.

My very wise friend checked in with me again recently. He wanted to know how I am partnering with rest in THIS season. Because I now understood his question, I actually had an answer. I am partnering with rest by learning to be kind to myself. I’ve been through a lot. I’m just now realizing the extent to which trauma has robbed me. I am partnering with rest by reminding myself that I matter too.

“I am going to remember to eat today, because I matter too.”

“I am not going to hold my breath when I feel triggered. Breathing is essential, and I matter too.”

“I am not going to do all the things for all the kids. I am going outside to pick flowers, because I matter too.”

“Today I will drink more than coffee. Hydration is essential, and I matter too.”

“Instead of writing thank you notes, I’m going to sleep. I need a nap, and I matter too.”

Learning to be kind to myself IS rest. Working to earn acceptance and approval robs me of my capacity. My capacity is already low because the trauma browser is always open in my head, draining my power. But now I am learning to rest. I rest because for the first time ever I see that I matter too.

How are you with self care? How about rest? Have you realized yet that you are valuable and worthy if love, completely separate from any contribution you may make to this world? So you know that you matter too? You do.