Every once in a while, a book comes my way that impacts my entire family—you know the kind of book I mean. Books like The Jesus Storybook Bible or for us, Madeline and Corduroy. This summer, we’ve found a new one: The Biggest Story ABC by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark.
from an article originally posted July 31, 2014...
I wrote a review after seeing A Fault In Our Stars with friends. When I left that movie I simply didn’t feel my biggest was ready for the movie. Then one evening we had a dinner party and a friend changed my mind. Chris Hooper gently spoke to me about my decision to keep Ella from this book and this movie. He was so kind to listen to me and my fears.
He then turned to me and gently told me something I had not considered. Chris has unique entrance into my heart and my story because he lost his mama at a young age to cancer. He simply said, Kara, Ella is the only person among her peers that understands the pain of cancer. Letting her read this book and see this movie will help her not feel alone. In that tender comment I knew he was right.
I told Ella she could read the book, and she absolutely consumed it. She has been asking for a movie night for the two of us. The movie came to the dollar movie theatre in town, and last night we ran away together to see this heartbreaking story. On the way, we talked about the sex scene in the movie. I told her how Jason and I deal with scenes we don’t feel comfortable watching. She heard my heart in it, and was careful when the scene approached to protect her heart.
There was a point in the movie where Hazel Grace bowed her head and said, This is not the life I want. That moment cracked the brave veneer of my daughter. Ella was undone.
Together we left the movie arm in arm and sat quietly in the car and shared our hearts, our hurts, and the pain of our present. I was able to tell Ella what a cherished child she is. I was able to articulate through the tears my hopes for her story. I shared that I long for her to remain a young lady, and if I do fly away, I asked her to let my girlfriends step in and bring big mama love to our family. But we were honest about the high calling of being oldest in a family like ours. I honored her heart, her protection of her siblings, her big sister love.
I went on to ask her to enjoy life, even if my life is fading. I asked her to embrace joy, to live each moment bravely. Then we wept, wept for the story we have been asked to receive, but struggle to understand. Then we spoke of the hope of heaven—our future together. A hope lacking in the movie.
I came home and shared with Jason the gift of the painful evening with Ella. Then he went on to share his burdens. We laughed, we wept, we tried to articulate our hearts in a new way. I will say, I woke this morning with painfully swollen eyes from so many tears. I looked at Ella, and she too was sporting swollen eyes.
I always say tears are the best evidence of love. They must be braved. The movie has a quote that is fitting, Pain demands to be felt. Goodness, I believe it’s true. Chris Hooper was right, this was good for our hearts. All of us try and live braving our pain. We need these moments to release the pressure cooker of pain that builds up over time.
How do you brave your pain? How do you struggle to live near to your pain honestly? Does living well mean faking at happiness when you are inwardly breaking? What would sharing your pain look like? Do you feel the pressure of hiding how you are feeling? How can you live honestly today? How can you let the tears fall in your popcorn?
I will forever cherish this painful night with my first born. I will forever love the tears she braved with me. I love that we had this time where we could speak honestly about my flying away, her pain in the separation, and the struggle for joy in the midst of pain.
I ended by asking her what Ella wants from me while I’m still here. She simply said, You, Mommy. I don’t need to jump through any exciting hoops to love her well. I simply need to live beside her with all the love I’m granted to pour out onto her tender heart.
from an article originally posted July 30, 2014...
Two years ago, Jason and I were sitting quietly on the back porch of our new home. The house was scented with smoke and new paint. We had just moved into our new home, then the fire came screaming down the mountain, and we were turned away from our new neighborhood and sent running for shelter.
Can I tell you a story about some favorite friends that turned into a favorite season of my life? I’m sure I’ve shared the story of meeting Kara; we were invited out to dinner by mutual friends when Jason and Kara had just moved to town. My baby boy was brand new; in fact, if I remember correctly, I think this was his first outing. Aaron and I arrived at the restaurant last, and the way everyone had sat down, I ended up next to Jason, which was perfect—Kara was such an extrovert, the life of her end of the table! She totally overwhelmed me even though I was so far down I couldn’t even participate in her conversation. I was content to be next to introverted Jason, who intuitively knew that I was fine not talking much. And as a father of four, he was also super helpful with Von. But then midway through the meal, Kara announced she wanted us all to switch seats—mainly, I had to go sit next to her. She immediately took Von out of my arms and started asking me awkward questions. Sleep deprived and still recovering from NICU isolation, I shrank back in response to Kara’s loud, social, laughy ways of relating.
in which we share impactful links we pray will encourage our friends...
For all of my 20s and into my 30s, I put myself under the authority of a person who was studying to become (and eventually became) a biblical counselor and who told me that the root of my depression was my sin. The eventual collapse of our relationship was ugly and awful and terribly painful, but now I see that I was actually freed from an emotional abuse that caused scars that I will likely carry all of my days. And one of those scars is fighting the lie that my sin causes depression. I’m not saying that sin can’t cause depression, but this person counseled me to believe that being depressed is a sin, period. And any time I find myself in my lion’s den, I fight those old lies that God broke me free from years ago. Which is why, whenever I come across an article like this, I want to scream and shout and share it with the world, especially people who believe it is wrong to be depressed or people who don’t know how to engage their depressed loved ones. This article was a balm to my heart; I will revisit this again and again, and I pray that each person who reads it will be blessed and redeemed in some way.
As fall quickly approaches, I have found myself in a strange new place—a place of rest! I sat down with my family’s August/September calendar the other day, and for the first time in so many years I don’t know how many, I’m not teaching or leading any kind of formal Bible study! My season of pursuing rest is ongoing, and with some changes at our sweet little church, I find myself not preparing any kind of study at all. And it. is. weird. But wonderful, too, because I know this is right where Jesus wants me—he has gifted me with a beautiful time of metaphorical deep breathing and stretching and slow walking. I can hardly wait! But for those of you who are getting ready to lead your women’s groups, you might find this article encouraging! I love how Jen Wilkin breaks down the necessities of women’s Bible studies into 3 simple thoughts. Read and be blessed! (There is also a video if you prefer to watch instead of read!)