Monday, October 15, 2012

All that glitters~

You can be sure that with more than a three week abscence in blogposts that much has happened in my heart and life. And yet nothing has happened. Which is proving to be the biggest challenge I have had to endure the past month. I am learning lots of lessons. I am seeing more clearly what kind of person I truly am. Honestly, it's been ugly to see the real me in many regards- deep down (or maybe not even all that deep down!) I am a control-freak with a few dashes of immaturity and a dose of doubt thrown in for not-so-good measure too. I don't really like the me that has surfaced while going through this process of having a house sold out from under us with virtually no options opening up for us as to where our family is supposed to go next.
I have had to flex the faith muscle that I have been growing and exercising since I was a very young girl. I have said it in posts here since my earliest online writings- I have a strong faith and believe fully in God who is more than able to provide for my deepest needs. It doesn't matter if those needs are physical, emotional, spiritual; I have put my trust in Him and have been blessed by His faithfulness to more than provide for me over and over and over again. To the point where it seems like there is no way I could begin to doubt who He is and how He is able to meet those needs.
But guess what?
My faith isn't nearly as big or as strong or as steadfast as I might have like to think it was. In the past few weeks as Chip and I have poured ourselves and every free minute {besides the ones where I have been scrapping for my stress relief!} into trying to find a place for our family of 8 to live, I have waivered, cried, wept, prayed, vowed never to pray again, cared so much, not cared at all, surrendered, taken it all back, reminded myself of all God has done, put Him to the test again, opened my heart, closed my eyes, yelled more than I would ever like to have to admit, whispered pleadings so strong that no Father, it seems, could sit back in silence. And yet that is where I find myself sitting today.
It has been an emotional rollercoaster for me.
I have thrown out questions and begged for wisdom and direction. I have asked for doors to swing open. And more recently, have been given some wisdom and now am at the point of asking for every single door to swing shut except for the one that God would want us to walk through.
What do you want from me, God?
How are we to know that we are making the right choice?
We only want to be where you want us to be and can use us the most?
Why does something as 'easy' as finding a house to live in have to be this hard??
When is it someone else's turn to have to live through a life challenge like this one- because we have already lived through and learned some of life's toughest lessons of all! Right?
Right, God?
Apparently not.
Because in the moments of my tears flowing and my anger rising and my heart breaking, I have been gifted a calm spirit and I have been reminded of verses and songs that clearly remind me that He is beyond understanding and yet He wants to be fully known. As I said, I have had to wonder and sit confused and turn open my Bible and my daily devotionals for words and truths that point right back to what I knew and yet have to "relearn" over and over again. And that is this:
God is always in control.
God wants to me look to Him for every provision in life.
He doesn't want me to have long stretches in life where I sit back and simply coast along, because I would become lazy or self-sufficient or even prideful of the ease I would have. Instead, being in a place where I can do absloutely nothing about what is happening around me except trust in Him for what is coming next- that is where God shows Himself to be powerful, faithful, kind and true.
Even in human terms, if a father were to give their kids everything they wanted whenever they wanted it, those kids would never learn to appreciate; they would come to expect and be demanding and self-serving, inconsiderate and without compassion for giving in return. To expect that our God wants to just give us whatever we want whenever we want it and never have to be patient or dependent upon Him would be for us to miss out on His amazing love. He loves so much He is even willing to let us hurt at times. He is willing to let us stew and be angry or confused or impatient and immature. His love for us is so deep that He is willing to make us walk step by excruciating step UP a rough mountainside and keep moving us in that direction without even hinting as to how far and tall or big the mountain really is. And once we have gotten part way and we are sure we have walked far enough and we are tired and weary and worn and want to be done climbing, His love is greater and far reaching than that.He nudges us on another step higher. And further up the mountainside. Until at times we can hardly gasp for air and we think our insides will break because we simply cannot go on- and truth be told, we have walked to long and far and high we have frankly forgotten why we are even on this mountainside at all.
It cannot be for the fun of it. There is no thrill in climbing when you cannot see beyond the next step in front of you, nor can you find any rest of comfort or ease along the way. It becomes such a burden and the idea of going higher only makes you want to turn back around and start using the tiny bit of energy that you have left in you for the journey back down instead. You cannot muster the strength to move forward, so you pause and think about turning back. And about that time, your feet begin to slip. Your pack of supplies is heavy and weighing you down and your body is spent so you stumble a step or two. As you begin to question how you even got "talked into" starting this climb at all, you turn back to peer up the mountain to see if you can catch any glimpse of the mountaintop and in so doing possibly find a tiny bit of renewed strength or hope to continue the climb.
You can't. So you cling to the rock on which you stand for another moment or two. In that space of not knowing how or why or where, you take a deep breath and find rather than pain, you feel a peace. You sense that there is no way you would have ever, EVER gotten this far if you have not believed there was something glorious and worthwhile at the top. You close your eyes and say, God, I do not know how I am going to make it. I have no clue how far I have yet to climb. But I vow once again to simply do my best and trust you to give me the strength and energy and will to get there.
Because of His great love for us, God not only doesn't leave us sitting alone, weary and worn, on the side of the mountain. He comes alongside us {through words to songs or in the form of a warm, fresh-baked apple pie and visit from friends, or through a well-timed scripture verse that affirms who He is and always has been to this point}; He sometimes even picks us up and carries us. His love for us is so high, so deep, so wide and so strong, that He allows us to ache step-by-step along the path to which He has called and guided our steps because He knows that when we come to the place- the mountaintop place to which He promises to bring us, the view will be so magnificent and overwhelming and stunning that it will stop us in our tracks at the very instant all our pain that has consumed us in our journey washes away. He created the mountain. He created the view from the top. He knows just how rugged and tiresome and tasking it is to get there.
But He has promised to be our Guide, our comfort, our Strength and our Supply. His love for us is so deep that He must know that to give us a glimpse of the view along the way would threaten to take away from the mountaintop experience. Much like kids who discover what their gifts are through shaking their Christmas presents under the tree before it is actually time to open and receive them. It's not half as fun to open that present when you know what's in it compared to the total joy and delight and ripping that gift open and being completely and utterly surprised.
All this to say, I know that my God is so big, so strong, so mighty, so loving, so good, so enduring, so utterly faithful that I do not have to even have a glimpse of His plan to keep trusting in it. I trust Him fully. Even though I have had to get to that place by walking some very rough terrain.
Yesterday I sat at our back entry space and looked at some piled up boxes that have been lining the room just inside the garage door for 10 months now. There were a couple of boxes that I had never even looked at because I knew when we moved into this house it was just a temporary rental place until our house sold and we found some place new. We never moved in here and made it our home. We never dreamed it would be almost a year that we would be here and so that also played into my wanting to just keep things boxed up and ready to go for the next move. So the piles have been piled and taking up space all this time. I opened up and started reorganzing a couple of them. Then I came to a box marked, "Garage sale items- girls clothes". I knew I hadn't boxed it up when we moved here so I realized it must be from our last move. That was many years ago. I opened it up thinking I would find clothes I could give to my friends who have little girls of their own right now and I wanted to check the sizes and see who I might be able to pass these items to. When I opened it I recognized the clothes immediately. Most of the things in that box were clothes that Teagan had worn and I know I hadn't seen them for a very long time. My sisters boxed up a lot of her clothing soon after she died and while I was still at Hurley Hospital waiting for Chip and Wyndham to get well enough to come back home. So it is likely I hadn't seen these things since before Teagan died. I know I get chided for talking and writing about Teagan's death and how I am still so often reminded of her life even in my day-to-day activities more than a decade later. I know there are some who will never understand why I write as much as I do about my grief journey and how my little girl's death still impacts my life. I know there are people who believe that "life moves on and you must get over it for your own health". But here's the thing.
I don't go looking for ways to be reminded of Teagan- except for on the days I choose to do so. Like on her birthday. And when we celebrate Coke Float Day. Or when the leaves change color because she loved the new shades of red and yellow and orange of the leaves so much. I don't sit by a CD and play her favorite tunes or stare at pictures wishing her back. That is all a part of the process of letting go. But there are moments or events or reminders of my Teagan that sometimes present themselves in ways I cannot create on my own. And I have learned that those moments must be lived and processed just the same. So I lifted a few of the items out of that box yesterday. And my throat got tight and my eyes started to burn and the tears bulged over my lower lids and started to flow down. I reached into the box and pulled out a pair of Teagan's pink glitter shoes. She had worn them as part of a Halloween costume...but worn them as often as she could. To places like Glen's Market while we grocery shopped. To church. To Daddy's golf club. To 7-11 with Lizzy as she and Brock rode in the double stroller to go get slurpees.
Suddenly this box and all its contents overwhelmed me and I wondered how it had gotten lost or mixed in with other storage items all this time and I had never even missed it. I wondered how it was that even after not seeing these items for more than 10 years the memories came flooding back as though I had watched Teagan dance and jump in her shoes just yesterday. I wept. I ached. I got angry for a moment all over again. I missed her so much. I recalled her joy and smiles and sheer happiness that filled her up when she put these little pink glitter shoes on. I ached that my other girls are now too big to fit in these shoes and have their chance to dance in them too.
I realized that all of life is a part of who we are and that our stories take such twists and turns and go from lows to highs to more highs and lows that surely there must be One who loves us and can make the 'storyline' an incredible read when it's all said and done.
I sit in a place where I feel I have done more than my share of climbing this rough mountainside. I have seen some amazing views along the way. But honestly I am tired and don't even know why I keep climbing at times. This is that time. It seems like there is no ryhme or reason as to why the journey has brought us here. The timing couldn't be worse. We are ready for a view "from the top". But even as I sit here and wonder, I am reminded that being still is never a crime. Looking back to see how far we've come doesn't make us weak- but instead can give us renewed strength and new resolve to move forward and get one step closer to the top. Knowing that God is with us each step of the way whether we like this part of the climb or not is an act of mercy He pours out on us. I know He loves us and won't let us fall. Even though the journey is steep at this point. In the next couple of weeks something has to happen. One of the options at this point is for me to go back to our home in Michigan with the kids while Chip stays here in MN to work and hopefully our home will sell. It seems like a wild, ridiculous option. But I am putting all my trust and gratitude in the One who knows and even created the view from which I will see this story played out. It might not be rosy and fun or even reasonable for us to have to take this next step. But I know that He keeps us close and can be trusted every single step of the way.


Elizabeth said...

Thinking of you, Jody. There is so much stress with anything even remotely related to moving—that I can attest to. It will work out somehow, even if it isn't how you thought it would, though it isn't easy to let that feel comforting (believe me). Your writing about Teagan always, always resets me.

Keep at it!

Anonymous said...

You should never ever EVER apologize for blogging about Teagan. It is not self pity or not "moving on" - it is remembering and reminding. Especially people like me who need reminding to be grateful every single day for what we have. I wish you could move here to Texas; I would give you my house! Blessings upon you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Keep remembering Teagan. Yes, we haven't seen the sun much in Michigan, but you could come back for a little while at least...No Caribou, but we have Biggby's....Lake Michigan, you just missed Art Prize, but I'm sure there would be fun. I get that it's hard taking the kids out of school though. I'll pray for you!

jenny said...

I can't imagine who would chide you for writing about Teagan, but my thoughts are that it's YOUR blog, she's YOUR daughter, and you have every right to share as much as you wish about her precious life and your grief at losing her! Thanks for sharing your faith journey once again - and for keeping it real. Can't wait to see what God is going to do next. God bless.

Andrea said...

I can't imagine why anyone would chide you for remembering, writing, blogging or grieving about Teagan. You are her mama and she is your daughter. She was, is and always will be! Thinking of you in this time of transition.

Kim H. said...

I just lost my mom a few weeks back and I am in the middle of the grieving process for her. I have so many good solid memories of her and she lived a full life. Every day something comes up to remind me of her. Every.Single.Day! I have no scope of how losing my precious child would feel, but I think you are an awesome mama to Teagan and all of your children by honoring and remembering her. I pray this next part of your journey will become effortless and come to fruition soon.
Blessings! :)

Leah said...

Praying for you and your family. you have a beautiful mama's heart.

Denise said...

praying for that miracle you need.
your writing is so raw and heart centered, I really love it. thank you for sharing your stories, they are so precious and you should never hold back writing about your daughter.

kim said...

thinking of you and your beautiful teagan. I saw you on the Oprah show years ago and have never forgotten you and your strength. I know how their little clothes can bring tears to your eyes. I have saved most of both of my childrens clothing because I couldn't bear to part with it and have finally decided what to do with it all ...from their tiniest onesies to their current tshirts. I am going to make a keepsake quilt from it all, specifically a rag quilt that I saw on pinterest. Years ago (also on the Oprah show, btw, not sure if it was the same show you were on) I saw a show about women who lost their children in violent ways. In particular, one women lost both of her sons to violence by her ex husband. Her friends took everything from onesies to socks to cub scout uniforms to the outfits they wore when they came home from the hospital in and made her a quilt. It was the most touching and beautiful thing I've ever seen. Maybe you could do something similar with Teagan's things. it might be a beautiful way to keep her things close to your heart.

Sorry if this is rambling but I immediately thought of this when you spoke of her clothes...and you are so creative and crafty:) There are alos many people you ccan hire to do the quilt for you as well. Just a thought...

Sending many positive thoughts and well wishes to you and your family, Jodi!!


Anonymous said...

I have read your blog for years now. You don't know me, but I feel like I know you. And only because of your raw honesty. I am a 57 yr. old mother of 4 and I find myself identifying with much of what you write about. I have not lost a child to death, but I have lost a child to the evil in this world. I hurt for you and I know that your honesty helps many people including me to understand and process trauma and the resulting sorrow. Please allow yourself to blog whatever is on your heart. With each and every word you speak about your precious Teagan, you give yourself a gift....She is never to be forgotten and you must know that it is all ok. She was yours and will forever be yours. I wish I could see your smile and her smile that beautiful day when you are reunited...
God bless you

gayle said...

You will never forget your beautiful daughter, nor should you, Teagen is as much a part of your life as your other children. We can't close a door on memories. You have constant reminders of her and the accident that took her. I pray for you and your family in this difficult time. You and Chip need each other and the children need both of you. I know what it is like to question God's choosing, but I can not write or talk as eloquently as you articulate your thoughts so beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has ever lost a child definitely will understand that the loss changes, comes back at times, and that you will always, always have a part of them in your heart. Blog away to your heart's content or whenever you feel the need.
I have said before that through this process, and it has been 20 yrs for me with Paul, that you have to give people the grace to be ignorant. Love this post, as I am going through a moving process myself right now and feel many of the same things. Jan Kline

Anonymous said...

In the earliest days of grieving for my daughter you taught me that I would have joy again and that it is ok to talk about my girl always- even if it made people uncomfortable. Although I wish with all my heart I couldn't relate to your posts I'm so thankful that there are others who "know" and share about life and loss. What you are doing is comforting and strengthening others. Really I see it as a lack of courage in the people who can't deal with what you share- their problem, not yours. Keep furthering God's Kingdom! -Trinity