Come Home

Do you see the same stars and sky tonight?
Are you warm and dry with a friend to make you laugh?
Do you hear melodies that calm your soul?
Are you held tight by one who knows your heart?
Do you long to come home?

Or

Maybe the stars are watched with their maker.
Maybe the joy never ends.
Maybe the songs are true and sweet and full of praise.
Maybe the very one who made your heart holds you tonight.

Maybe you are home.

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These were the words of my heart a few days ago as I was reminded that despite us missing Austin, God knows where he is, and some days that has to be enough.

It’s the very reason that I can be hopeful.

The hope doesn’t come in believing we’ll find him alive, but in believing that God has this. God has him.

Are you in a place today where you wonder if God is there, if he sees you or hears you? I’m there sometimes, wondering if despite His love for me, my hopes and dreams don’t matter as much as others.

But he says this-

Come Home. Rest in me.

No matter where we are, Home is waiting.

 

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Looking skyward from our Home

Circles

Longing, missing, yearning
Laughing, living, enjoying

 
Piece lost
Pieces found

 
Regretting, questioning, seeking
Smiling, hugging, playing

 
World stopping
World giving

 

Changing

Growing

Focusing

 

Conflicted, divided, confused
Awakened, whole, complete

Complicated but beautiful
Life

 beach

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation is an art, a long-standing practice that originated with someone very wise I’m sure. The ability to center one’s self, to breathe deeply and live fully in the moment is a skill that takes practice. I have visions of mastering this art, and being able to simply be still. Not just my body, but also my mind. To pray fully focused on my intent, to write fully focused on what I’m trying to convey, or to even play with my boys without wondering how quickly I can jump to the next thing.

If you arrived here hoping to find an expert, you’re so out of luck. I was tortured this morning with about 20 minutes of time in a dark room, in a fairly comfortable position, with therapy treatments happening on my back. 20 minutes with no phone, no books, no voices, no distractions. Just me and God time. Or it could have been me and me time. But instead it was me and God time for about 30 seconds at a time, broken up by moments of lost train of thoughts, knees begging to be cracked, a phone buzzing to be checked, before I’d come back to my prayer. I should be enjoying these moments of quiet, with nothing to do but heal and be still.

Instead, I’m searching for a book that must exist, Meditation for Beginners (or Dummies).

In the meantime, here are some things I’m trying, to help me find if there’s a hope for me in this mess of a mind.

– Accepting that for 20 minutes, three times a week, my only activity is being still.
– Putting the phone down more. I won’t likely ever be the person that forgets where their phone is for a day. It’s too much a part of my job and my goals with writing. But I can give my kids my full attention for more than 30 seconds at a time and just be there. (I wish this one wasn’t so hard)
– Just write. Many times I have too many thoughts and ideas flying around and can’t seem to get organized and settled enough to share them. I’m pushing myself to just start writing, and worry about editing later. It’s okay if it’s a mess.

 meditation

The biggest challenge of being still is the thoughts that come that you’d rather not face. Just a week or so away from the 6th anniversary of the last day we saw Austin, thoughts of him come often. Which lead to thoughts of our search and the lack of progress, which lead to thoughts of hopelessness. I wish that thoughts of Austin could ever just be the good memories, but I’m not sure that’s possible. So I don’t welcome the good memories as much either, because they turn into painful ones.

Thankfully, the painful thoughts usually turn to thoughts of hope and images of what the day will look like when we finally know. I still believe that it will be another painful time, one of grieving or more questions, because no matter the result there will be that. But I know who will be standing by our side, who will help shine Hope into the darkness, and know that God will use people like us to keep shining it for others.

But my best chance of shining that light is if I can be present and put all my energy into one thing for those moments I have. So, if you know of a book like Meditation for Beginners, or Meditation for Dummies, let me know!

Welcome: A New Day

You found me!  Thanks for wandering over one way or another- I’d love you to stay and chat a while.  Pull up a chair, get comfy.  Have some coffee, or some wine and I’ll join you.

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I spent just over two years writing and sharing on a blog site that will always hold my heart.  But sometimes you outgrow your first love, and realize that you’ll always look back with fond memories, but know it’s time to move on.  That site wasn’t just a place I stopped now and then.  It was a place where I began to share my thoughts and feelings, as a real form of therapy.  Up until I began sharing there, I found it much easier to ignore the hurt and loss, and keep plugging ahead.  It was easier.  This sharing stuff is not easy.  There are days I question myself, and days I want to stay silent.  And sometimes I do.

But the reason I keep writing is no longer just to help me.  Now I write in the hope that someone else who’s in a dark place can see that glimmer of hope.

Moving here was another step in my growth- setting up the right tools to be able to share more.  Just a few months ago I realized I was writing but not reaching out to find those who could most use the words.  Once I began reaching out, so many more of you came.  As many in four months as had come in two years.  If you’ve been with me from day 1 or just finding me today- thanks for joining me, and I truly hope you’ll be back.  Let’s go through this together.  Me and you.

Austin, We Will Always Remember

As the five year mark of Austin being missing approaches, so did time for me to write another guest post on Time’s Up.  I shared some thoughts and hope you’ll visit there and read them.

Then, check out ‘About Austin’ and help us remember him over the next few weeks especially.  Milestones are difficult, but also give us the chance to remember and share more about him.

Thanks for letting me share my journey. 

Austin, we will always remember.

It’s No Marathon

I. am. tired. It’s been a long few days. But I’m boarding a plane, that will take me to another plane, that will take me to another plane, that will take me home. And then I’ll rest. So I can get through the next 11 hours, thinking about that.

I wish I could see the place and time of rest ahead in other aspects of my life. I see no end to Michael’s battle with CVS, though there is hope of a breakthrough one day or a medication that helps. I see no end to our search for Austin, though there is hope of a search with results or maybe even a call with his voice one day.

I sometimes wish Michael had an illness with more risk but more possibility of cure. I sometimes wish we could have a funeral for Austin, with not the answers we wanted but answers regardless.

I think it’s one of the hardest parts of having a missing loved one, that there’s no rest in sight. This isn’t a sprint, isn’t even a marathon- you know how long a marathon is- it’s long, but it does end. For some of us, our search will never end and we’ll never find that time of rest here on earth.

But there’s always hope. It may not be forever, it may end tomorrow. Or we may be on the first leg of a long trip, one that takes us to another point, that gets us closer to yet another point, that eventually gets us there.

But you can’t get there unless you start moving…. time to move.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

4 Years of Missing Austin

A new home, a new baby, a child growing up, ten tball seasons, Michael finding his funny stage voice, so many holidays, a new president, a much loved uncle dying, family get-togethers, the iPad….

Austin has been gone for four years today. Exactly four hears ago this morning, he made choices that would impact us all forever. He took a cab to a pawn shop and bought a shotgun. He went to Walmart and bought ammo and a duffel bag, then back to get the gun. He walked off, never to be seen or heard from again.

Those things listed above? Just a few of the many things he’s missed that our family or our world has had happen. What have we missed? Just him. Having him be a part of it all. We miss the son, brother, uncle. We miss what was and what might have been.

Today it seems we’re no closer to finding him, but we still will keep hope. We will remember him today, sad for all he’s missed but happy and grateful for all we did share.

Birthdays, holidays, his laugh, smiles full of dimples, help with our tech needs, days fishing with family, running through the woods, his easygoing nature, food cooked with love, laughing together at things we couldn’t change, watching him with my son, love for our family….

Those are the things we’ll focus on today. Not what is missed, but what wasn’t.

Love you Austin.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Letter to Myself

A few days ago I saw an old photo of a group of my friends from high school. We were young and more beautiful than we knew, so full of potential and ready to take on the world. I commented that we were really something, and was reminded that we’re really something now too. Years later, these are now women that I respect and admire. Both for things they’ve accomplished and the way they live their lives.

I looked at myself and wondered what I’d have said if I knew what the next 15 years or so would hold. I probably would have been scared and excited all at once, and in some disbelief of it all. But here are some things I would say to that girl.

Be courageous, you have nothing to fear.

College will teach you so much more than you’ll learn in class. Get out there and experience it. A little more studying wouldn’t hurt you either.

You’re not fat.

You’ll meet many guys, and you’ll learn from them what you want and don’t want in a spouse. Heartbreak will help you find the right one.

Fight for what’s right as soon as you know its right. But don’t worry, you’ll soon get pushed into it and you’ll be fine.

Enjoy that time before kids a bit more, quiet doesn’t come again for many years.

You’ll learn a lot about medicine and advocating for good care by being thrown into the fire. Toughen up- it’s hard but worth it.

Ask more questions, invade personal space a bit more, and open up yourself. Fear of rejection is no way to live. The phone won’t kill you.

Stop. Breathe. Enjoy.

Go home at 5 sometimes.

Hug your Dad more. You don’t have to agree on anything but loving each other. That’s enough.

Push Austin. It might not have helped, but don’t give up. You’ll have less regret and guilt, and you already have enough.

Enjoy that last movie with Austin, and don’t drive straight home. Find a way to spend a few more minutes.

Just keep trusting God, He won’t let you fall.

Look around at your friends. Some will be gone, some will become close again one day, some will come later and become family, while some will seemingly disappear once Austin does. You’ll learn from them all.

You’re stronger than you think. You’ll survive more than you think you can handle, and you’ll do more than just survive.

….. Now that I think about it, I should probably remind grown me of these same things…..funny how our younger self and our older self are so much the same, maybe just a stronger version. At least I hope so.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Duplicity

We all do it to some extent…. shield portions of our lives from people, hide our feelings so we can continue on without dealing with them, compartmentalizing portions of ourselves.  It makes you wonder, if you look closely, if anyone truly knows all of who we are.  I do it a lot.  This blog is making that collapse to some extent, and though it was a conscious decision, it’s still tough to become so open and honest. 

In the days after Austin was first gone, though the world felt off balance, I still had a job to go to, a child to take care of, roles at church to fill, and a home to maintain.  I shared what was going on with those closest, but really believed we’d find him soon and didn’t want to embarrass him, or concern people more than ‘necessary’ if possible.  So I told those I had to tell, and kept most of it inside.  We started catching some media breaks and soon word was out, once our faces and his face was on the news asking for help.  But yet I downplayed it, and tried not to ask friends for help, though many stepped forward regardless.  But yet I continued to say “I’m fine” and go on about my days.  I never even took a day off from work.  My mom was also trying to work remotely, displaced from her home to be near where Austin last was.  I would come home in the evenings and she would finish whatever project she was on (often work, often search related things) and we’d start putting out fliers, drive through areas Austin frequented, or even drive to nearby towns of possible sightings.  The whole time, my husband was also working and picking up the slack with our son and home. 

As there have been less and less things we could do on a daily basis to search for Austin, my mention of him has been less and less.  What do I say?  I don’t exactly feel like I should tell random people I meet, or even people who become friends about this part of our life.  I don’t want to be pitied, I don’t want to have to share my feelings, and I most certainly would never risk someone seeing me cry. 

But wait…. isn’t that what I wish Austin would have done?  I wish he had told us, been willing to open himself up to sharing what was going on in his life.  His fears, his pains, his whole life, not just the portions that sounded nice and he thought we wanted to hear. 

I’ll probably never be the person who cries in public, or gets past the habit of answering “great” to the polite questions always asked about how we’re doing.  But I do want to be the person who can open up and share her thoughts and feelings here, getting one step closer to being real.  That’s what God challenges us, to live life together in community, to be real with each other.  I’m thankful for a relatively small group of people that I have been real with, people who sometimes push me there even when I don’t want to. 

I wish Austin had felt like he had that.

The Bad One

We had a conversation recently at our house that Austin would have argued with me on.  I guess I just found the one perk of your brother being missing… he can’t win the argument he isn’t there for!  It was one of those silly conversations that we would have laughed about.

Ben is a handful- a handsome, sweet, independent, smart, huggable, handful.  He walked early, and has been in fast forward motion ever since.  He wants to do everything himself, and when he doesn’t get his way, he makes it very clear that he’s not happy.  And then he hugs you.  And you forget what a terror he just was.  Almost.

I made the comment that Austin would really enjoy Ben, and would laugh at me trying to successfully parent this crazy little one.  Drew asked me why, and I told him that his Uncle Austin was just like Ben, and would really appreciate seeing me tortured so!  I jokingly told Drew that “Uncle Austin was the bad one and I was the good one.”  Drew immediately wanted to know which one he was, and I quickly answered “the good one.”

The truth is, I followed the less rocky path, the clearer path, the one that most would choose for their child.  (Note- trust me when I say that I am NOT claiming to have been or be an angel!)  Drew chooses those same paths.  He is more cautious, slower to act and quicker to think.  (Note- he is also no angel!) Drew and I play it safe.

Austin chose to do what was fun and was quicker to decide what that was.  He was sweet and never mean that I can honestly remember.  His path was different than mine, more rocky and curvy, and all his own.  I think it may have been harder, but it was his.  Decisions weren’t based on fear but on pursuing what he wanted.  What he wanted wasn’t always what we wanted for him, but it was never bad, never hurtful to others.  It was the right path for him.

Ben’s path is still so unclear…. but it’s already pretty clear that it’s not a safe and easy one, but one we’ll try his whole life to protect him on, and one I believe he’ll enjoy and be a joy to others on.  Just like his Uncle Austin.