Almost two years ago I started writing this blog, quite unsure of where it might go, if I’d keep it up and how much I’d really be able to share.  I had no real goals for it, besides being an outlet to share my story of losing Austin and our search for him, but also of my ongoing healing process.

Two days ago my blog hit a pretty big milestone, of having 10,000 page views (not counting my own, thank you).  For any noteworthy blogs, that’s a number they hit each day, so I realize it’s a very small number really.  But for me it’s big- it’s taken a lot of courage for me to write, and to ask others to read.  Each time I write I begin to question if what I said has any value in being put out there, if I’ve revealed too much, if I’ve painted to rosy a picture, if I’ve said anything that might help anyone.  So for someone have taken time to look at something I wrote, 10,000 times, means to me that this is worthwhile and may help someone as much as it helps me.

Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, and thank you for encouraging me along the way.  Thank you.

I’m starting to set some goals, and starting to look into promoting this little project.  The views per post continue to grow, but if I’m to reach my real goal of sharing our story and our message of hope with a wider audience, I realize it takes more than just posting it.  But without your support, I never would have the courage to start trying to promote it, so again- thank you.

I care much less about the 10,000 than I do about the 1- the 1 who may read something they needed to read that day.  The 1 will always be my focus.

and p.s.  for my friends who long surpassed my little milestone, tips are welcome! 

What’s In a Name

A handful of people have asked about the title of my blog.  Most likely haven’t given it any thought, but for some people who spend their lives searching for missing, they wonder why it isn’t titled ‘Finding Austin’ and I had trouble articulating my reasons.  But here goes.  
I say ‘Losing Austin’ because it was a process that started much earlier than June of 2007.  I think it started quite a few years before, as he faced some things that kids shouldn’t have to, but many do, including unexplained physical pain, and family issues that caused emotional pain.  I’ve hesitated to ever put that thought into writing, but it’s not to point blame.  It’s my view of when we started losing him.  We lost him a little more years later when injury and heartache compounded, and from that point never seemed to really find him again.  He was standing in front of us, but we didn’t see all that was really there.  
I say ‘Losing Austin’ because I feel some of the blame of not catching him before he was gone.  
I say ‘Losing Austin’ because that’s the starting point of this journey.  
‘Finding Austin’ sounds to me that all our hope and faith resides around that event.  We pray for it, hope for it, believe on it, but our real hope is in God’s faithfulness regardless. 
‘Finding Austin’ would say, to me anyway, that our focus is on finding him and our story stops there.  I pray that I one day write about this crazy significant point.  But our story doesn’t and can’t end there.  Our story is about our response to losing him, and being called to work through it.
‘Finding Austin’ would seem to say that I really contribute to efforts to find him.  I don’t even know how at this point.  
‘Finding Austin’ would seem to signify that once we find him, all is well.  But all will not be well, it won’t bring that magical mythical “closure” that many goodheartedly say we need.  When we no longer have a missing loved one, new challenges begin, and new healing can begin.  Begin is the key word. 
‘Finding Austin’ might keep me mentally and emotionally focused on that goal, almost stuck until we reached it.  I didn’t need a reminder of our goal; it’s never far from mind.  What I needed was an honest look at where I’ve been, to help direct where I’m going.  
I believe and hope that there will be a post titled ‘Finding Austin’ one day soon.  What I do know, is that he was never lost to God, has been in his hands always.  We just get to keep working on filling in the details.

Isaiah 41:10  fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Missing his Uncle

Drew was just two days past his fourth birthday when we lost Austin. I didn’t know what to say to him, didn’t even know what to say to myself at that point. Drew loved his uncle, and with Austin living with us, he was used to seeing him daily. He was expecting a fishing trip soon and wondered when they could go.

Early on we decided to be honest with him but on a level he could hopefully understand. It all seemed fun to him in some ways, as family was in town much more than normal and we started spending time in new towns looking. But he knew we were looking for Austin, that he was lost and needed to be found. He would ask people he didn’t know to look for “Uncle Austin” and they gladly told him they would.

We tried to keep things somewhat normal. I have a happy memory of the morning we signed Drew up for tball, so looking forward to what was ahead. Drew was so little and so cute and was ready to play. But that same morning we were having a prayer rally across the street from the field at our church for Austin.
So like many days of this journey, we left a sad event for something joyous and back again.

I think through it all, that’s how we’ve helped Drew. We’ve let him know that we’re sad and miss Austin, but also let him know he was safe and loved and had good things ahead. He has asked many times about him, and always said he misses him.

It’s now been four years, and our explanations have changes yet remained truthful. Drew now knows that we truly don’t know where he is and truly don’t know if we’ll ever find him. At 8, Drew has now lived longer without Austin than with him. But he remembers him, even tonight saw something that reminded him of Austin and he said he missed him. What sweet joy to be reminded that Austin was loved and is missed, even by someone that I’m not sure truly remembers him.

I don’t yet know exactly what we’ll tell Ben about the uncle he never knew. But I know we’ll make sure he knows the level of truth he can understand, and that he’s loved and safe too. And we won’t pretend we’re not missing part of our family, won’t pretend there isn’t grief.

And I pray that as they grow, they’ll never pretend things are okay when they aren’t, but will be able to also find the joy in the midst of any circumstance they face. And if they remember Austin, that would make me smile too.

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