Hello There….

My last post here was on the 9th year mark of Austin missing. We’ve now passed 10 years. 10 years. It’s unimaginable, yet here we are.

And here I haven’t been. Haven’t been writing, haven’t been doing much it seems besides surviving day to day.

But I’ve updated all the fun technical website type things I had to, I’ve renewed my domain, and I’m writing again. No promises on how often or how insightful, or how long the next break will be. I realize that making grandiose plans often don’t work. So for today, I’m saying hello and I’ve taken the needed steps to have this space back.

Hello.

And I’ve done a little bit more, with some plans very fresh and wobbly and very uncertain, about how to make this more effective. Someone I know who first walked me through setting up this space has some big things going on herself, and I loved these words she shared today. Here’s a snippet from Julie:

“I can sit here and worry about so many things and they all just don’t matter when I line up my mission and vision with what the world needs. When I stop the bustle and just focus on the one thing that I am called to do. Because if I don’t, my life may be over in a blink and I will have missed my chance.”

I’d already planned to hand over my credit card to her once again to learn some things, but that made me get moving even quicker. More to come. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited again about the possibilities. And for today, that’s good enough.

xo

 

Long Lost Me (Updates, Announcements & Ponderings)

It’s been 11 months since I’ve shared here. No one but my encouraging/pushing/believing mom has asked me about it, and I almost didn’t renew my site when the emails came recently about the automatic renewal that would happen soon if I didn’t cancel. I decided to do the same thing I’ve done with the blog for the last year- nothing.

But I have been writing. Not as often as I’d like to say, or as much as I’d like to claim, but I have been slowly and steadily writing. For years I’ve wanted to put my perspective on our story into a book. I’ve pondered the format and style and how much to share and how to share it…. I’ve pondered if it matters. I’ve pondered the why. But I’ve settled on most of that, and look forward to finally publishing it. I’ll share more as it gets closer, but one thing I know I’ll need is your help. All the “cool” people writing books now are forming launch teams, and I should probably do the same. When it gets close I’ll ask any of you who are interested to join a Facebook group so you can give me some feedback, keep posted on launch dates, and help spread the word. In the end, it may just be my pushy 🙂 mom and I reading it, but on the other hand, maybe God can use this bravery.

So, that’s the big announcement!

The rest of our story continues on much like it did 11 months ago. No updates in the search for Austin, the continued ups and downs of battling Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, still being the main caretakers of a now 17 month old who stole our hearts, and living life the best we can through it all. God may choose to wrap up some of these loose ends, but I’m not counting on it, just still counting on Him to be with us through it all.

This morning, I read a verse that I wanted to share because of how profound an impact it had on me. I constantly question what I’m supposed to be doing, how I should handle situations, and if I’m on my own path or one God has laid out. When I don’t know those answers, I can turn back to this directive every time. It simplifies it. And when I’m doing this, it sets me on the right path.

Philippians 4:8   Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Phil 48.jpg

Glitter & Good News

It’s the second most magical time of the year! You know, the time when we all have a fresh start. We have clean homes, new calendars, goals and themes for the New Year. We’re getting healthy, keeping our closets organized, and planning our meals.

Except . . . I’m sitting here at the end of the first full week of the year, and there’s glitter on my cheek. Why? Because last night I finally started putting up the Christmas decor, and still today have piles of lights and ornaments and pine needles in my living room floor. And I overslept and skipped the shower, so I keep finding specks of glitter in random places.

Read the rest of this post over at the Orange Leaders Blog!……

I’m SO honored to be guest posting over at Orange, and passionate about what they do. If you’re visiting me for the first time from there, Welcome! Check out some posts and learn some about my wild life, and I’d love to meet you too.

Baseball, Pumpkins & Not So Perfect Moments

Our weekend was made up of these perfect moments that take your breath away and make you wonder how God could trust you with these precious lives he made. That included Ben sipping on his hot chocolate, and then sweetly smiling and telling me how much he loves everyone around him. It included Michael arriving at dewy baseball fields two hours ahead of most anyone else, to quietly and without thanks, prepare for kids to play. And Ben laughing so loud it makes your heart hurt. That included Drew coming in as the pitcher when there were already bases loaded, and working his team out of that jam, cool as a cucumber. And Drew running while pulling his brother in a wagon that also held their prized pumpkins, both laughing heartily. It included Drew happily making a sandwich for Ben. It included both boys cuddled up with me at the end of a night, eventually drifting off together.

These are the moments we love to remember, to take photos of and store away in our hearts and heads forever.

And I could end the post here, with a few photos of these beautiful moments. But I won’t.

Because our weekend was also made up of these ugly moments. Ben telling me that I’m making him crazy, in a very serious tone, and me not responding in love. Ben swinging on a kitchen drawer, sending silverware crashing as the drawer broke. Drew  procrastinating on homework and ending up much too late finishing it. Michael and I not communicating about something simple that led to ugly words. Me losing my cool way too often.

That’s reality. We have this amazingly beautiful life that is full of the sweetest moments, but is also real and full of ugly. And heck, that’s on the good days.

I’ve been praying for a good friend of a friend and their family, as they are just praying for any moments with their son after a horrific accident this weekend. We shouldn’t need tragedies to remind us to just be grateful for whatever moments we have, but as is so often true, in those moments I just forget. I should have taken photos of some of those moments we’d rather forget, because they’re part of this life and part of who we are.

So, here are a few photos from the weekend, but with some honest captions to go with them.

Ben_cheeringat2nd_10-15-14

Excited to play 2nd! Cries when he has to play somewhere else, and sat down in the grass at one point. (though in reality, one ball hit the grass all game, so I kinda got his point!)

Drew_atbat_10-17-14

so mad about the umps erratic strike zone that he threw his helmet

 

B&D_WagonRunning 2014

me too busy trying to capture the moment to really enjoy the moment

Brothers_wagon 2014

I take back anything bad I said- they’re perfect! 🙂

Jumping Off

I almost always feel like I’m on a spinning carousel, that’s going too fast and making me a bit ill, with it’s fancy horses, bright lights, and tinny music. Every now and then I jump off, but it’s such a short time of being off, that the spinning never feels like it stopped. You know what it’s like, when you were a kid and would roller skate around a rink for hours and afterwards you still felt like walking was foreign, or when you step off a boat and still feel the waves. So I step off and before the spinning feeling stops, it’s time to get back on.

And here’s the thing, I want back on. Those lights! That music! It’s so much fun! Before it makes me dizzy and sick again.

A few weeks ago the spinning was too much, and I decided to make one small change for a week. I was going to stay off Facebook.

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been on Facebook.

The spinning from my interactions on Facebook had been too much and I’d gotten lost in waves of dizziness. Caring too much about what others thought, about what they said and how they hurt me, about if I was liked enough or good enough or whatever enough.  And I jumped off. But mostly I was hiding out, catching my breath and praying that when I got back on I’d be able to keep out of the fray. I decided it was easier, less messy and maybe necessary that I just stay away for good.

But I had these few hours just last night that reminded me of some things…. what it feels like to laugh hysterically, what it feels like to truly listen when someone is pouring out their heart, but mostly the need to create these spaces to do that. So no, Facebook isn’t perfect, but it’s a tool to connect when used right. Not a place to get likes on your photos, or find funny videos, or get your news (I mean seriously, who thinks that’s a reliable source?). It can be so much more when we use it right.

So I’m jumping back on Facebook… as soon as I post this. And I’m trying to do it differently. Spend less time on it, not let it replace true interaction, and make my own music. And I emphasize trying because I know I’ll get dizzy again and struggle with all that again…. because that’s what I do.

See you there.

3 Years & 167 Posts

I just realized that I recently passed the 3 year mark of writing and sharing here.

It was a crazy idea at first, one I toyed with for some time. Who would care to read what I said? Did I have enough to say to bother? Was I brave enough to share?

It turns out that some of you do read and care, I have a lot to say, and no- I’m not that brave and have to push through a lot of fears as I write. But it’s been good. Really good.

I think about shutting it down a lot, or letting it fade into oblivion. But tonight, there’s this kid, sitting beside me working on a speech that he’s to give to his class tomorrow. And he’s sharing about his Uncle. He didn’t have to choose that, and he’s fought through some emotions as he dug into the details and thought through what he wanted to say.

But he wants to tell about Austin, and said it’s okay that it’s hard.

It’s okay for things to be hard.

It’s okay to slow down and take breaks, but eventually I come back. Because it’s hard, but because it’s good. Good to be here, good to share here, good to be with you.

Over time, this has become more about our family, and as Michael’s health has worsened, it’s had a lot more focus there than I thought it would. But the intent is still the same- to share our world and our challenges, to show you where we find Hope, so that no matter what darkness you go through, you can find it too.

Not much has changed, yet quite a lot has in 3 years and 167 posts.

 

3 years & 167 posts

 

From the Heart of a 10 year old as we Search for His Missing Uncle

I don’t know what to add to that.

Except to please pray for him too.

Crazy Good

The bad news? I’ve been neglectful of my blog.

The good news? Life is pretty good right now in a lot of ways, and I’m truly enjoying some time away.

Life is crazy. But life is good.

I wanted to share a few things with you though.

1. This. Are you in the business of loving people? Especially if you’re a Christian, you should read this. And share this.

2. This. Are you ever in the business of being hurt? Of course you are. So read this. And share this.

3. This. This is my heart. Despite the little one demanding that we let him move to Tallahassee.

boys

Though I’m more quiet here for right now, I’d love to keep connecting with you on a daily basis. If you’re not already, come find me on Twitter. Don’t get Twitter? That’s okay, you’ll figure it out quickly. You can also connect with me daily on Facebook here. I share my craziness wit daily.

How’s life for you?

Christmas Gifts

The stockings are hung, the presents are wrapped, the goodies are baked.  We’ve rehearsed our Christmas Eve KidStuf show, decorated for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, watched the favorite Christmas classics, and even cleaned the house.  We’ve bought the last minute presents and should be sitting back relaxing and enjoying it.

But I’m on day two of migraines and getting enough relief to barely function but nothing more.  And Michael is on week three of an episode that hasn’t landed him in the hospital but has made me contemplate the need for it many times.  So just like usual, I’m feeling a bit sorry for us, and mostly for him.  He should be able to enjoy this season, but we’re here once again and he’s struggling with the emotional battlefield that creates.

But God keeps sending us these small surprises that help keep us going, and remind me that we’re not forgotten.

First, there was this gift.

As I dug through my wrapping paper supplies, which includes old Christmas cards that I use as tags, I saw handwriting that I hadn’t seen in years.  6 1/2 years actually.

Austin’s last Christmas with us we made quite a few sweet memories.  One of them was him helping me with Michael’s Christmas gift.  Austin was a computer whiz, and I asked him to set up and configure the new laptop that he’d helped me find.  He met me at Panera and we drank coffee while he worked on it, to make sure Michael didn’t see.  He then bought a warranty to go with it as Michael’s gift, and what I found was his handwritten note saying that he’d bought him a warranty.

It’s the kind of thing I’d normally throw away, and I’m not sure why I kept it.  I’m not sure how it sat in that box of supplies for so long without me seeing it either.  But as I sat wrapping presents this year, with Michael asleep near me, and me hoping for a miracle for him this year, I got a small one of my own.  A reminder of my brother and of the love he had for us.

Later that night, last night, another completely unexpected gift was given.

A small company, UnMarketing, who says to ‘Stop Marketing, Start Engaging’ did just that through granting items from wish lists for a fairly large group of people.  They asked you to send them Amazon wish lists, and they’d be selecting some people to pick an item off the list and send it.  No questions, no fuss, no contest.  They didn’t make you share it to win it, or like them on Facebook, or fill out an application.

Within 10 minutes, two items off of Michael’s Christmas list were ordered and a personal note sent about why the man behind this chose those- he didn’t just throw money (which was cool enough on it’s own) but he took time to connect.  They weren’t high ticket items, but they’re items that he’ll love.

And with those two gifts, I’m reminded….

We’re loved, we’re taken care of, we’re not forgotten.

I wish I didn’t have to write a post like this every year- that I didn’t struggle with balancing the great and true Joy of the God we’re celebrating and the kids who have my heart with the heartache of this illness and my brother being missing.  I often feel like I’ve said as much as I can say on these topics, and have nothing more to give.

But maybe, you’re like me and facing the same things year after year and needing the reminder that just because you are doesn’t mean you’re forgotten, or unloved.

He loves us more than we can know, which is after all why we have Christmas to celebrate.

Merry Christmas my friends.

 

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009

 

Traditions

I’ve been gone.  I know you missed me. {despite your silence that would say otherwise.  no hard feelings.}

Every now and then I disappear because I can’t figure out how to write about what’s going on, but every now and then I just give myself permission to take care of what’s going on around me without worrying about sharing it, or enjoy some time without then writing.  That’s what this was- and I find that after I take a short break, I’m grateful to get back and have the chance to share.  Sometimes I write because I’m ‘supposed’ to, much like I do many things in life because I’m ‘supposed’ to.

Especially at Christmastime, when traditions are everything.

We have to decorate and shop and sing and watch movies and make cocoa and visit Santa and make lists and look at lights and make cookies and visit friends and send cards and host parties and volunteer and take photos and and and and…. Oh, and then there’s Ben’s birthday right in the middle and there’s a whole list of must do’s there too, to make sure his birthday isn’t overshadowed.

I LOVE all those things.  But when they become more about checking off a list and making sure we do all the things than about enjoying the things we do, we’ve put tradition over what we’re really meant to get from it.

And this year, once again, I started stressing about what I hadn’t yet checked off that list and when I would.  But then, one of my best friend’s brother died very unexpectedly and I only cared that week about what she was feeling.  And then I got knocked on my butt by a bad cold and days of migraine.  And then I realized that my husband was slowing down and that we were probably entering the pre-phase of a an episode of his chronic illness.  And when I asked friends about what they consider must do’s so I could alter my list, a good friend called bullsh!t and said that nothing was a must do.  She’s a genius.

So, I switched gears and am really trying to focus on simply enjoying what we are able to do.

It’s not as much as I’d like.  I’d always like to do more.

But yesterday, on my youngest son’s birthday as I worried that it hadn’t been magical enough a day, he reminded me again.

Me:  Ben, what do you want to do tonight for the last part of your birthday celebration?

Ben:  Watch Diego and play with my new toys. 

Me:  But I thought we’d go look at lights and get hot chocolate, or …. You really just want to stay home and play?

Ben:  Yep.

Me:  But did you have a happy birthday?

Ben:  Yes!

So we stayed home, ate ice cream and played.

Yes, in my ideal world my husband would be full of energy and able to fully participate, and every day would be full of lifetime worthy memories.

But maybe just enjoying what we do, whatever that is, and being together makes the best tradition.

Do you have a checklist and must do’s, or do you just enjoy what comes?  I’m not sure I’ll ever drop the list without being reminded, it’s my nature.  But I’m trying to learn.

 

minnie

one of the memories we did make- Ben kissing Minnie!