Monday, February 22, 2016

On Tears and Grief

“For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.” C.S. Lewis
I have found in the last four-and-a-half months since my father passed away that more often than not, I'm really doing okay. I can make it through 95% of my days without crying, and I can go days without a thought about my dad. Honestly, I hadn't seen him for a year-and-a-half before he passed away, and I wasn't ever very close to him. Our relationship was very strained for much of my life. 
I thought, as I was on my way to Florida to say my goodbyes to my dad, about how my life wouldn't look much different after he passed away because I'd hardly had a decent conversation with him or seen him for over a year. I come back to that thought constantly. Most of the time I think I was trying to rationalize what I was going through at that time, but sometimes that thought comes back to me and it doesn't seem very far off. 
Then there are those moments when I realize that my dad should have been there for Christmas, or I remember that my dads birthday is coming on March 3rd, and I become completely undone at the thought of him not turning a year older. When it comes to milestones in my life, holidays, and birthdays...those times are the hardest.
Death is so final. The difference between having a dad that became increasingly more distant, and losing him all together, is that there's never a possibility of him coming back around. When those holidays and milestones come, it's like ripping the band-aid off again, and I'm caught off guard by my tears. 
It happened today. My dad has been on my mind quite a bit the last few days -- probably the most since a few weeks after he passed away. Yesterday, while I was cleaning a drawer out in my nightstand, I found an envelope with my dads handwriting from when he mailed me the title for my old car. I sat there and stared at it for a little while, studying the familiar scribbly handwriting. I didn't cry, but I knew that I was affected by it. Last night, after a physically draining day of cleaning and house projects, I could barely keep my eyes opened at 7:30 pm. I went to bed super early, and woke up this morning feeling like I was completely in a funk. I couldn't get my dad out of my thoughts all day long. It wasn't until I got home from work and was talking to my roommate that the floodgates opened. I was surprised by my tears. 
“You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. A pair of somebody’s old shoes can do it…. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.” Frederick Buechner
Even though this season of grieving my father is painful, I am grateful for the tears. They help me understand where I am in the process of grief, but more importantly, they help me understand my need for my savior.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Letters to my Dad pt. 2


Today marks four weeks since my Dad took his last breath. Many days it still doesn't seem real, and I think I'm just walking through a bad dream that I'll hopefully wake up from soon. But then I start each day needing to remind myself that my dad is gone. The magnitude of that is so huge and unreal. Most days I feel like I'm doing okay, but weird things trigger my tears. It can just be a small comment that wouldn't have an effect on anyone who isn't going through this, but some words just stick to me and cause my heart to break. It's not anyone's fault, it's just grief. I can't walk into a church service of any kind without turning into a blubbering mess. This is the single hardest thing I've ever had to walk through in my life. The pain of the loss will never go away, but I know it will subside as time goes on. I will always miss my fathers presence in my life, and the hopes that I had for my life as his daughter that will never come to fruition. These days are hard, but I'm making my way through them. Sometimes just minute-by-minute. I miss those kind eyes.

(Originally posted on October 8, 2015, the day my Dad took his last breath)

Dear dad, this is how I want to remember you. I love you and miss you already. 

March 3, 1952 - October 8, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A return to blogging + Letters to my Dad pt. 1

Well, hey there! It's been entirely too long since I sat down to write for myself, and I'm ashamed to look at my last post on here and see that it was LAST January when I updated my little blog. Can I blame it on life being extremely weird and busy? I'll dive into that sometime (hopefully) soon, but not right now.

I'm really here to share some posts from my Instagram page from the last month. If you're reading this, then you likely already know that my Dad passed away a month ago on October 8th. I've shared thoughts here and there on Instagram, but I've been feeling like I might want to share in a more permanent place like my blog, where it might be possible for others to find if they are going through the same thing. Grief and loss are all encompassing and weird. There's no formula to how you're supposed to feel at any specific moment or day, and it can often times feel very lonely. So, if something that I write resonates with someone some day in the future, then I believe that would be the Lord's own hand in my tiny place here on earth. My prayer is always that God would use some part of my story to encourage or help someone in the future. 

Easing my way back in slowly...

(Originally posted October 7, 2015, while my Dad was still in the hospital)

"Dear Dad, 
If I could talk to you, this is what I would say. I wish that I had been able to experience who you really were without mental illness and alcoholism robbing you of the joy that life can truly offer. I know at your deepest core you were a good man. I caught glimpses of your love for me, Kenneth, and Clayton, and know you were truly happiest when you were surrounded by your family. I know you tried to love us as well as you could with the tools you had. 

I am deeply saddened by the fact that you are leaving too soon, and that I didn't get the chance to tell you these things. I hope you know that beyond the bitterness and anger I have felt that you were truly loved and are forgiven. Your earthly body is still here with us, but I pray beyond all measure that I will see you again on the other side.

Love always and forever, 
Your 'punkin'"

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Write stuff down...I mean it.

Happy New Year! Can I still say that?

Life over the last month has been crazy. Christmas! New Years! Moving back to school! New semester! My Mom's birthday! Planning a concert!


Like I said, life has been crazy. Not overwhelming crazy, thank goodness. It's just been...busy.

The rest of Christmas break was spent with work, family, friends, Settlers of Catan, and books. It was nice to be home, and hard to come back to school. It's always hard to leave my family and friends, but once I get back on campus I remember why I like being here. I'm following my dreams! And a lot of really neat opportunities come out of following your dreams.

I'm a college senior now! I'll get to walk across a stage to get a diploma for the first time in my entire life in December. So ready to cross the finish line! Graduation this year means harder classes, thinking about the future more, wondering where the heck I'll be after all of this is said and done. It's a little bit scary, but more exciting than it is scary. I'm ready!

I made a trip home last weekend for my Momma's birthday. It was a good weekend. I got to spend a lot of time with my family, snuggle my big, furry, wintry puppy, see friends, and celebrate my Mom! It was good to be home, but it was also good to get back to school and establish a good routine here for the semester.

While I was home, I suddenly landed smack in the middle of planning a concert. It's something that I enjoy doing, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.

Which brings me to the above photo.

Everyone has their own way of getting organized and prioritizing things in their life. The above is how I organized my brain this morning. I was walking around my quiet dorm room, messy hair, pajamas, and slippers still on, wondering what the heck I was going to do with my day. All of these things I wanted to get done, but I just no idea how to execute it in my brain. It was almost to the point where I'd become overwhelmed, but the day was saved after I wrote things down. I immediately felt 10x's better after I finished getting organized and was ready to face, not just the day, but the weekend, too.

Now, it's Saturday night, I have all of my homework done, my grocery shopping completed, and I'm already semi-organized for next week. Now, I can spend a Sunday relaxing and hanging out with friends, which will allow me to go into next week feeling refreshed.

If you're feeling like you don't know where to go next, write things down. Get it out of your brain, and just start moving.

Have a happy Sunday, friends!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas listening

**I've been dying to get this post up all week long, but dang! This time of the year is busy. I know I keep saying that, but for real. It's kicking my butt.

Christmas is four days away! Four! That's crazy, and exciting, and maybe a little hectic. I've been to the mall four times in less than two weeks, and today while I was there, it seriously took me 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot.

I love Christmas music. Absolutely adore it. I'm one of those people who can listen to it all year long, but people look at me funny. So, I take full advantage of this one month out of the year where it is socially acceptable to listen to the sleigh bells, and sing about non-existent snow (Hello! Florida!). So, if you have some last minute Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, or cookie baking, turn up the tunes and get in the spirit!

Here are some of my favorites:

Kaitlyn's Christmas Playlist
Christmas Is Coming-Jason Gray
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen-Downhere
Labor of Love-Andrew Peterson (ft. Jill Phillips)
Forgiveness Is A Miracle-Jason Gray
Baby Boy-For King and Country
I Will Find A Way-Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips
Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella-Downhere
Christmas For Jesus-Jason Gray (ft. Gus Gray)
Starving Artist Christmas-Lanae Hale
We Wish You A Merry Christmas-Downhere
Joy To The World-Jason Gray

I'll be cranking the music up as I'm in the car this afternoon headed to spend the rest of the weekend with dear friends. I'm not even packed yet! Whoops! Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Over the weekend...


First of all, let me just say that my time since I've been home has been the least bit restful. I've been going and going since the moment I pulled my car in the driveway last Tuesday afternoon. This time of the year can be so crazy, which can be super overwhelming. I feel like this year is even more overwhelming for me since I spend most of my time away from home these days, and everyone wants to get together...but I'm an introvert and sometimes that means I just want to read a book all day, but I can't because the time just isn't there. Wah wah wah. Just keeping it real...

With all of out of the way, let's get onto the weekend!

This weekend was spent doing lots of Christmassy things, which were kicked off by receiving a package in the mail holding the various contents of the first picture in this post. It was so great to walk in the door after my first day back at work, only to find a carefully put together package by a new friend from the Rabbit Room. All of my favorite things...books, tea, and chocolate! Side note: If you enjoy music, movies, and books that surround the topics of faith and art and how you can intertwine the two, please check out that link. It's one of my favorite places, and the people that make up the community are so filled with grace. It's just beautiful, and the perfect picture of what the Kingdom is really like.

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon I got to be with a bunch of ladies from my church, and had the wonderful opportunity to sit at a beautifully dressed table, drink tea, and eat tons of delicious food. It was so good to be back in that place and be surrounded by all of the ladies from my church.

Sunday morning was spent with my Dad getting some Christmas shopping in. We have a tradition where he takes my brothers and I to the mall before Christmas, we pick out some of our Christmas gifts, and then he takes them back to his house, wraps them, and puts them under the tree. Neither of my brothers could go with us yesterday, but it's one of the few traditions that we've held onto in my family. I'm a sucker for tradition, and I'm glad that we still hold onto that one.

Sunday evening, my young adult bible study had their Christmas party. An ugly sweater Christmas party! I had to bring dessert, and had the opportunity to make my first ever pumpkin pie! I was feeling a bit intimidated by the idea of it, but it turned out to be super easy. I got the recipe off of the can of pumpkin, but just in case you're looking for a quick and easy recipe for one of those many Christmas parties you have to go to, maybe this is the one.

Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
2 large eggs 
1 can (15 oz.) Libby's Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Nestle Carnation evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell 
Whipped cream (optional)

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.
There you have it! Not original by any means, but certainly quick and easy, and sometimes that's just what you need during this time of the year. 

And now, here we are onto another week. I'm hoping to find time to slow down and enjoy the wonder of this season. Unfortunately, it doesn't look that that's going to be the case. I think I need to get a planner to write down all of my social engagements for the time that I'm at home so I don't lose track of the plans that I keep making. I hope you are able to slow down, take a deep breath, look around you, and find rest in the beauty of this time of the year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Getting Christmassy...

...finally! After a whirlwind eight days back at school spent finishing up the semester with last papers and finals, and packing up my dorm room, I've made it back home for the holidays. I couldn't be happier.

When I walked in the door on Tuesday afternoon, I threw my arms up in the air in happiness when I walked by our delightful smelling undecorated Frasier Fur. I was dreaming of getting my hands on the tree, stringing lights, and hanging ornaments all around it. And tinsel! I love I the only one?! Please tell me I'm not the only one. 

Over the last couple of years, my mom has gotten into buying vintage ornaments for our tree, and half of our tree is filled with these beautiful, hand-blown, hand-painted ornaments. It looks so classy. I love it! 

Really, I feel like I could just say "I love it!" over and over again. Because I'm just so happy to be home, and the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. ...aaaaaand I can finally listen to Christmas music without people judging me (I'm one of those year round listeners). 

I'm wanting to try making up one of those homemade potpourri things that simmers on the stove all day. I just want to soak up all of this time and make everything festive and fun. 

Yay Christmas!