Wednesday, December 18, 2013

dear tommy...Santa is real...

and so today i had the "talk" i've been dreading for years. my 9 year old asked me if Santa was real.

my heart sunk. just like when he asked me last year about the tooth fairy. and the Easter bunny before that.

we tell our kids to tell the truth and then we lie to them.

we are not good parents.

but the truth is, we tell these stories because we are good parents. at least we're trying to be. and we want our kids to grow up with a sense of wonder and surprise and joy.

because, let's face it, this world can be cruel. so if we can portray that the world is good through a man in a red suit than so be it. and let's so be it as long as we can.

but as of this morning, i am probably the worst mom in the world. at least it felt that way when i saw his face.

because tommy did not take the news well. and for the next hour he didn't want to talk about it.

but then we read the letter i wrote to him again. this time together. i cried. he cried. and then we hugged.

i'm sad that he has to grow up.

he's sad that he has to grow up.

but we both know that he has to grow up.

and today he did just that.

here's the letter i wrote him right before i broke his heart to answer his question.

i hope Santa doesn't put me on the Naughty List.

Dear Tommy,

I know you want an answer to your question about Santa. You want to know if he is real. If it's really me and Dad who put the presents under the tree. If it was me who wrote Santa's answers last year to the questions you asked in the letter you left for him in the kitchen. You said his writing looked like mine.

And you want to know if we've been lying to you. Because people at school are talking. And some believe in him and some don't and you just want the truth.

Well, the truth is Tommy, is that Santa is real.

But he's not just one person like they portray in all the movies and books about him. Santa is me. And Dad. And the moms and dads of your friends. Santa is in the heart of every boy and girl who ever believed in him and then grew up to become parents of their own.

Sure we say he lives at the North Pole and he has reindeer and he flies all over the world to deliver presents to all the good little boys and girls but that's not the truth. Because the truth is Santa lives in North Carolina. And Nebraska. And Cleveland.

And a thousand other places around the world.

And Santa isn't just one person. He's a hundred people. He's a thousand people. He's a million people.

Because Santa isn't a person...he's a feeling.

He's the hope that you feel when you know Christmas is coming and you keep your fingers crossed that he'll stop at our house. It's the generosity you feel when you leave cookies out for him and food for his reindeer ”because they'll get hungry too.” It's the magic of a story that makes you feel that being good should be rewarded and being bad should not.

And though we tell you that you need to be asleep or Santa won't come, the truth is he can be seen everywhere if you look hard enough.

Santa lives in our neighbors who put up their tree in the window and their stockings on the shelf.

Santa lives in your teachers who make ornaments with you and sing Christmas songs.

Santa lives in good deeds and making sure that what we have is shared.

Believing in Santa makes us all, even for a little while, become better people.

And so Dad and I keep the spirit of Santa alive.

Oh Tommy, I have never looked forward to having this conversation with you. Because part of me doesn't want you to grow up. And believing in Santa, the REAL Santa Claus, is one of the last links you have to being little.

But you're not little anymore. You'll always be my baby, but you're growing up. And so I give you the truth about Santa today with a sad but hopeful heart. Because I hope that knowing the truth won't be disappointing but will open a world of wonder that you have never known.

Because today, you become Santa too.

And it's your job to keep the spirit of Santa alive in those who haven't heard the whole story yet.

So when you see a little boy looking in awe at Santa in the store be sure to smile. When you see a little girl waving at Santa in the parade be sure to wave too. And when you grow up and have children of your own, pass on the tradition. Pass on the magic. Pass on the hope.

And believe in miracles. And believe in the magic.

And never let anyone tell you that Santa isn't real.

Because the spirit of Santa IS real.

It lives in me.

It lives in Dad.

And I hope it will always live in you.

I love you forever Tommy.

And that's the truth.



P.S. Sometimes I still look up at the sky on Christmas Eve to see if I can see Santa. And sometimes, yes sometimes Tommy, I think I really do.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

written down in stone

i was looking through the paper last week and i came across an obituary of a woman the same age as me. i don't read obituaries all the time, especially if i don't know the person, but for some reason i was drawn to this one. and as i read through the words they had written about her, it made me think about my own life and what it would have said if that obituary had been mine. 

maybe it's the fact that i'm getting older. maybe it's seeing yet another tragedy play out with the tornado in Oklahoma. maybe it's just that i have so many things i want to do in my life that i seem to keep putting off. but whatever the reason, the thought of our lives eventually being written down in stone stayed in my head.

written down in stone

i saw it written in the paper,
i saw her face before her name,
and when i read her age it stopped me,
and prayed my life won't be the same.

it said she lived for 44 years,
and she died suddenly at home,
and it went on to tell her lifetime,
now it was written down in stone.

it seemed we both were born the same year,
but her life ended way too soon,
“and who's to know”, I thought to myself,
how much she still had planned to do.

she left behind a loving husband,
family, friends and a small son,
and her lifetime came right down to,
two paragraphs of what she'd done.

as i looked out the kitchen window,
suddenly it seemed so clear,
we don't get to choose our ending,
but get to live while we're still here.

and everyone will have a story,
that will be told when it's the end,
we fill in pages as we're living,
with time we borrow and we spend.

the moments that are set before us,
are only given as a loan,
and so we better get to living...
before they're written down in stone.

crazy how death always makes us think about life isn't it? but it's a good thing. 

because thinking about life usually leads us to living. 

not just existing. not just breathing.

we only get one chance to write our story and though we don't get to choose the ending we do get to decide the chapters. we do get to decide where we're headed.

so let's decide to live. REALLY live. and love. REALLY love.

today. right now. this moment. 

while it's still here.

and while the book of our life is still open.

Monday, March 11, 2013

struggling with food: bad habits are hard to break

last year i revealed my struggle with food in this post " i used to have an eating disorder " and it's like it opened up something that i thought i dealt with long ago.

apparently i was wrong.

the post made me retreat inside myself. worried that i had shared too much. worried that i had labeled myself. worried that maybe i missed those days of wanting to be skinny.


desperately wanting.

crazy, self obsessed wanting.

it's like satan was knocking at my door again, saying "hey, remember me?" "remember how good it felt?" remember how great it was?"

and the realistic me knows it wasn't great. but the past me knows there were glimpses of joy.

they were tiny, never lasting, self defeating glimpses. but glimpses none the less.

crazy isn't it? to find joy in the middle of our pain.

it's a constant battle. every bite. every decision. every time i weigh myself.

i'm battling against who i was. i'm battling for who i need to be.

i'm battling not to let this world define who i am.

but i think the important part is i realize it. that i'm aware of my struggle. that i go into the battle knowing full well the danger that an eating disorder can do.

my friend died from it. not officially of course. officially she died because her body couldn't fight an infection she got. but her body couldn't fight it because of all the years of abuse. and those of us in the circle knew that. those of us who had struggled beside her knew.

and though we were all years past our own issues with food, i come to realize now that we may move on but it's always a part of us.

it's always a voice.

it's always a temptation.

and sometimes it's a desire.

sometimes it's a feeling that we want to feel again.

just for a moment.

a tiny moment.

a tiny self defeating moment.

because that's the disease. that's the disorder.  

but i don't want to be the person i was.

i don't want to be who i used to be.

i don't want to die because i can't let go.

so i let go of the past everyday.

and i move forward towards a healthier life.

and i pray to God it will never be me again. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

five minute fridays...home

Five Minute Friday
i love five minute fridays. i love them but i don't do them nearly as much as i should.

but today i'm following lisa-jo's lead and i'm taking 5 minutes to do what i love to do...write. so here goes...5 minutes, no editing, no over-thinking, no plan...



as i grow older home doesn't mean the same thing to me anymore. sure it means family, and memories and being able to be yourself in a world that constantly tries to change you, but home means more to me now.

with each growing year my heart longs for something more. it longs for my final home. it longs to be with my Lord and Savior.

my heart sees home as Heaven now. i see home as Jesus.

there are days that i wish Heaven would hurry. i wish to leave the craziness of this world behind.

but something always stops me. something always tells me there's more work to be done.

there's a world of hurting people that need help. there's a world of hurting people who haven't met Jesus. there's a world of hurting people that need to know...they need to know that they don't have to walk around hurting. that they can have peace. that they can be ok.

so even while my hearts longs for my eternal home, i understand that there's still work to be done.

there are still porches of people's souls that need to be swept. still dirty laundry that needs to be cleaned out of lives. and still weeds that need to be pulled out of people's hearts.

yeah there's a lot of work to be done first before i go home. so much work to be done.

but i'm ready. as much as i'm ready to be home, i'm ready to make sure everyone else is coming home with me too.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

my dad's jacket

sometimes i wear my dad's old jacket. the one he used to wear all the time.

like ALMOST EVERYDAY all the time.

it's one of those jackets that long ago went out of style but seems to make a little comeback every now and then. but despite it being old-fashioned and slightly out of date, i still wear it. i admit it's  mostly just around the house, but i wear it.

because it reminds me of him.

 it was one of the only pieces of clothing i kept when he died.

that and an old pair of his socks.

everything else went to the nursing home. my dad would have wanted it that way. somehow the most giving man i ever knew was able to continue giving even after he died. 

but i had to keep something. i don't know why.

i guess i thought if i didn't give everything away that i'd still have a piece of him. i guess i thought if i kept his favorite jacket then he wouldn't really be gone.

crazy, i know. but somehow it's true.

on days when i feel alone, or tired, or overwhelmed...i put on his jacket.

on days when i miss him, or i need his advice, or i can't believe he's gone...i put it on and wrap it even tighter.

somehow this jacket puts my dad in the room. somehow this jacket puts my dad in the world.

same with the socks. they're threadbare now but it doesn't matter. just the sight of them brings back a million memories.

and just wearing them brings peace.

and that's what my dad meant to me in this world.


and love.

and peace.

it may be old. it may be out of date. it may even be out of style. but it was my dad's jacket.

so if you see me wearing it, tread softly.

because i'm not ready to let go of either of them just yet.

and i'm not sure that i ever will be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

smiling past the sadness

as most of you know from my last post, my life has been turned upside down lately. last week one of our guests committed suicide and when we found her, it brought back painful memories that i've struggled for years to overcome.  today's post is an update on how satan tried his best to destroy me....but his best wasn't better than God. the first part is from last night, the last part is from the miracle of today.

yesterday -  smiling past the sadness

it's not easy to smile when i'm sad but i do it anyway. it's not easy to say i'm ok when i'm not but i do it anyway. and it's not easy to pretend everything is fine...when it's not...

but i do it anyway.

because people need me. people need me to be happy. people need me to be strong. people need me to encourage and lift up and offer hope.

people need me to make decisions, and give advice, and meet deadlines.

people need me to do what i've always done and i know that.

they tell me that.

they want that. they expect it. and truth be known, i expect it too.

i expect to just wake up in a good mood and thank God for the day.

i expect to smile, and sing and be full of joy.

i expect to want to take a shower. to want to change my clothes. to want to do SOMETHING.

but really all i want to do is be in a dark room by myself.

all i want to do is hide.

i don't want to answer questions. i don't want to talk. i don't want to think about what i saw.

i just want to rest. i just want to close my eyes and pretend it didn't happen. i just want to close my eyes and not be afraid to dream.

i just want to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with my life.

i know there's some kind of time frame to grieve. some kind of politically correct amount of time that says it's ok to cry and be shocked after a traumatic event. and at barely a week out i think i'm still in it.

at least i hope i'm still in it. i hope what i'm going through is normal.

but i'm tired of being in it. i'm just so very tired of being sad.

and i pray to God...oh God i pray that i'm not in it forever.


and that's exactly how i felt when i woke up again today. sad. overwhelmed. unbelievably tired. and with a darkness hanging over me again.  i went through the motions but that was it. i saw no light and i definitely couldn't see my way out. but i kept praying. and i kept asking God to show me how He could use this. how He could use me. and if He even thought my life was worth being used for Him at all.

today - when God finds you in the darkness

i've been in a pit lately. i'm not really sure how i got there. i just know that one thing led into something else and there i was, standing on the edge of it, hoping not to fall in. when i wrote that post last week about suicide i was already struggling and it was just enough to push me head first down into darkness. and no matter how hard i tried, i couldn't find the light to get back out. 

i've seen darkness before but i've never seen it that dark. i've never seen it that lonely. and it scared me.

because i saw a glimpse of what some people never overcome.

i didn't want to go to sleep at night because i was afraid to dream. i didn't want to get up in the morning because i didn't want to face the day. i didn't want to shower because i just didn't care. and to be honest, it required much more energy than i had to do it all anyway.

but i did get up everyday. i did go through the motions. but i wasn't myself. i wasn't even close to being myself.

because it's hard to be yourself when you're lost. it's hard to even remember who you are when you're broken.

but then it happened. God sent someone to remind me. God sent someone to pull me out of the pit. 

someone who had read my post about the suicide contacted me. out of the blue. unexpected.

they told me how that post had saved them. i didn't really understand it at first but then they went on to explain. they had been broken recently too. and torn down. and they had decided to end it all. they had the pills. they were ready to take them. but first, they got on the computer to say goodbye to their friends.

and that's when God pulled them out of their pit. they saw my post. they felt it took courage.

and that courage they said...made them change their mind.

they decided not to commit suicide.

the very pain that i wondered how it could be used for anything...was used to save a life.

and suddenly, in the middle of my darkest day, i saw the sun again.

dear God, i am humbled and amazed that you decided to use this broken girl. i am completely in awe that you took such terrible memories and brought about something good. thank you Lord for finding me, for loving me, for showing me that even on the darkest days, you are still a bright and shining light. and thank you, thank you, thank you Lord,  for saving that person who was ready to end it all. thank you for showing them your love. thank you for reminding them that they have worth, and value, and a wonderful purpose.  i pray Lord that you turn their pain around. i pray that the plans of those who are trying to bring them down are destroyed. i pray that you give them a boldness to show the world how you can take a broken life and use it to bring you glory. i love you Lord. and i thank you for saving my life too. in Jesus' Name i pray.