Best laid plans ..

Its the end of March already. What a start to the year it’s been.I had such hopes for 2019, such excitement. But then that gut feeling hit, knocking the wind from my lungs. A call from my father confirmed it – Leukemia. Acute Myeloid Leukemia to be exact. These words burn my ears and stick in my throat. My knees give way and a silent scream lifts from somewhere deep straight to heaven.

This is not the plan. It’s not supposed to be this way! God, where are you??

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I was a summer girl at heart, a beach bum. Happiest with sand between my toes and sporting my pink cheeks, and freckles like a badge of honor…. but then life happened. Our second sun-kissed golden girl became sick. It took a whole long year, an entire 12 months, for the experts to work it out. In that time she got sicker still. Another word to choke on- Dermatomyositis. Who knew you could be allergic to sunlight? Or that those blissful golden rays could trigger an avalanche of inflammation that threatened her very life. Certainly not me. Years followed filled with hospital stays testing monitoring and more horrid words like a side-effect, complex medical, high dose steroid, chemotherapy, biologics. Now we live in the shadows waiting for the sunset to come alive.

This wasn’t supposed to be part of our story, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. God, where are you?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

She was the third little bundle to bless our tribe. I loved her from the very moment the test showed two deep pink lines. We rejoiced in the promise of her presence. We dreamed who she might be. We spent hours musing over names …..until that morning 21 weeks along when pain replaced my daydreams with fear and a deep sinking feeling ran through my innermost self. A scan revealed our little one had flown from us. Heaven would get her smiles first. Morphine and surgery followed by complications – the slip of a surgeons knife punctured through the soft buttery cocoon that had held her leaving scars in my womb that mirrored the tear in my heart. Broken.

I didn’t plan for this. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. God, where are you ??

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

He’s nearly done. Its been a long haul getting here but just one more year of training and he’s qualified. Its a career with a promise of a secure future, family friendly hours and he loves his work. He is crazy good at it too. If only the gloves were sufficient, the tools more insulated. If only the voltage wasn’t so high, or the acid so corrosive. If only the consequences were less disastrous. How can a split-second reshape a mans life, a families existence, our whole world so finally? It was an accident.

This wasn’t the plan! It wasn’t supposed to be like this. God, where are you ??

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

She is a storyteller, a poet, an author at heart this firstborn of mine. A gypsy spirited wild child. A girl with the depths of the oceans inside her. So why is language so difficult? Why can’t she just learn the way others do? All that whimsy and adventure untapped, locked up. The world is missing out on the gift she brings with her. She is missing out and there’s no time and I’m so overdone and I don’t clearly see the need that is right in front of me as I’m so consumed by the needs all around. So she’s in it alone to fend for herself. School says they are helping but they don’t see what’s broken. She’s stuck, left slowly sinking. I’m failing her. I don’t know what to do, I’m so unqualified for this.

It’s not supposed to be this hard. It’s not part of the plan. How can this be our story? God, where are you ??

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But through it all that still small voice whispered long, unrelenting as the years pass and the storms rage.

“This weights not yours to carry…I have you still.”

I lean in deep, breath in the life over and over….I discover a brave I wasn’t aware of, a strength that isn’t my own.

Then despite the prognosis, regardless of damage, two more blessings are added to our home and grief gives way to joy again.

A touch of crazy brave later and we take the reigns with our children’s education. Pulling our Wild one and Shade seeker from their classrooms to embark on a learning adventure together. A journey to health and wholeness follows.

So it seems the crazy brave pays off. Her medication is weaned away and her body recovers its strength and vibrancy. Her smiles return, her life restored.

Language is understood, reading is mastered and the secrets of this Wild child unlocked … Childhoods now drastically changed for the good, freedom to be, to create, to learn and explore. Life slows down and I wonder at the fear of failure that stopped me from embracing this unexpected path sooner.

The voice never leaves ….

“Jump and I’ll catch you “

More crazy brave and we take the leap. With not a cent to our name and a tribe to keep fed. We pack up our life onto the back of a trailer and move to where the trees cast long shadows late into the day. We are trading suburbia and the city for a country life…with no guarantees of an income or roof. Then it seems right away a job is presented and soon after a home that’s quite exceptionally more than ever hoped for is ours.

Far from perfection, our miracles are still being walked out. This is not the end of our story. Each crazy step shattering the best-laid plans that we had built for ourselves and the lesson learned is to hold it all loosely and embrace the adventure. Always seek out the gold from the dross.

That still small voice remains to this day whispering promises grand. While the hope for this year was dashed at its dawning, as long as that voice holds my heart in its hands, I’ll walk forward expectantly into the rest of our story. For even though nothing has gone according to plan, we are who we are because of the broken best-laid plans.

Green thumb

First days of spring were finally here after a long winter both literally and metaphorically speaking…and this particular morning was brutal.

Depression can trigger unbeckoned. Like a tsunami, it rips through the sunlight without warning turning the tide on the hope that the day had started with.

Sometimes amidst the onslaught, I fall. I forget who I am. Daughter of so many I often confuse the facts with the truth.

Adoption, divorce, remarriage. The facts are a glorious mess that I lose myself in.

The truth – I’ve got to look higher.

Its a bad habit of mine to people please and find my worth in the opinion of those I share my life with. It’s never consistent.

I took my angst out on the springtime garden. First carefully and hesitantly, I am not a green thumb. Then once I got going it was all in. No kidding, the chainsaw even made an appearance!

As I trimmed, lopped back, weeded and shaped, a whisper spoke softly …

This is where you are …this is a season of pruning back the overgrowth, the excess, the unnecessary, all that doesn’t fit with the plan. It looks and feels brutal but it is necessary for the light to reach the secret places. It’s hard now but springs here and summers coming.Seasons always change.

And just like that, I realized, if I want the bounty of a productive garden I need to do the work and cut back hard. As I pruned and trimmed, the light got in revealing weeds that had been hidden away strangling the potential growth out of this space. I realized that it needed dealing with if I wanted this garden bed to breathe life again.

I have found that it’s almost always in the season of hard work that I find my fit, my strength. It’s in the clearing out of the old that what’s of value becomes known. That I remember my worth. Fresh light shines on new possibilities and new dreams are conceived. This is the reward for braving the overgrowth and doing the work.

I am slowly getting better at this. Practise makes perfect or so they say. My thumbs are a little greener these days too and seasons change, thank God they do.

An educated life .

The disagreeable familiarity of ‘deja vu’ is thick here lately.

A difficult diagnosis sees me revisiting the past.

When my love was hurt I spent countless hours searching, reading, learning all the ins and outs of the giant before us.

When it was my little girl on the receiving end of bad news again I found the need to learn and know more.To educate myself so I could better walk that path beside her.

This time around a much-loved father is in the firing line and here I am once more. Searching, reading, asking questions. All the while again wishing this next mountain away.

No life, however, is without hardship, heartache does not discriminate. The difficult calls me deep, redefining what’s important. Stretching me, increasing my capacity.

I crave an easier path. This weight is uncomfortable, to say the least. Yet I am learning to train my eyes to look for silver linings. The blessings while not always obvious are I find abundant when hunted down, and the lessons learned are priceless.

It’s in the darkness that I have been taught to see the true value of things.

Perspective was learned through the doors of a burns unit. Some things never leave you.

The power of hope was understood during a season of children’s oncology – chronic illness is an accomplished teacher.

I learned to trust as we walked to the edge of poverty and the bills kept rolling in.

Endurance was taught as I walked alongside severe depression.

When we fought giants in the highest courts I learned the importance of truth and perseverance.

Truest joy was that much brighter after understanding heartbreak.

I am learning what it is to have faith, ….the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things unseen…

To see the gifts born out of the darkness …to truly understand the value of life, love, health and time …knowing none are promised.

I live differently now. Love differently. Ever thankful for the understanding that light outshines dark, love conquers fear and I am never in it solo.

God is always good.

Our track record is good, his and mine. I can trust this next hurdle into his hands… all the while seeking out silver linings, and stretching myself to learn the lessons this season has to offer.

Just a girl…

Blonde locks give way to wiry greys. Shadows under my eyes. My face creased with memories of having lived. My necklines are higher these days and my hems lower. I can’t remember the last time I braved anything shorter than Knee length. Stretch marks score the places that strained and gave way to hold and nourish life – evidence of the belonging of these 4 babes that sleep under my roof. Every curve giving way to gravity, my confidence droops along with it. I frown at my reflection. Check the scales more than I should and vow to apply more eye cream then I did last year in vain attempt to stop time.

Continue reading “Just a girl…”