Just don’t Die: An Update, A Theme Song and a Shout Out to Survival Mode

photo copy

This is a scene from our Sunday morning breakfast counter. In case you need me to break it down for you: That’s french toast, next to a bottle of wallpaper remover and a hand held paint cup we use for cutting in.

Shall we go over a list of things that were driving me nuts at the moment I snapped this picture?

1) Those chemicals are far too close to our food, we’re all going to get cancer from this breakfast. Why ARE THEY SHARING THE SAME SPACE?
2) We try to eat grain free, in theory, lately with all the stress we just eat all the grainy gluten we can get our hands on…. topped with sugar, because I’m pregnant and the rest of my family has a child’s palate.
3) That french toast and the time to I took to take this picture made us horribly late for church, not even our church, but a church visit in which Kel was speaking.

This is life right now, it’s just normal next to chaos, both fighting to share the spotlight.

Moving has been extra hard on me, I’m very sensitive to lack of routine and chaos. When you pair this with the end of the preschool school year it means that all my organization is in a box somewhere and all of my “me time” to catch up on writing time is gone.

For years I’ve beaten myself up and told myself to go with the flow a bit more, always wondering why I couldn’t be one of those laid back people who could roll with whatever and be really and truly cool with it.

I give up, I am not one of those laid back people who can thrive in chaos, so I may as well work with what I have, with who I am.

There is no use in trying to live your own life wishing you had someone else’s skill set. It’s far more helpful to navigate your life in light of who you actually are.

And right now I am a Highly Sensitive, ENFJ in survival mode: pregnant, in the midst moving into a new house that we’re tweaking, helping plant a church in the midst of summer (meaning the kids and I are spending most every day together, leaving me precious little time and energy to tackle projects.)

This is not my optimal setup, this is not my wheelhouse. And that’s okay.

Survival Mode, I make peace with you, this is not life forever but it is life for now, things are going to be mixed up and chaotic.

I have adopted this new theme song, that has always made me smile in the midst of chaos and survival living.

Watch this video, because Seinfeld always says it better

“Just don’t die, don’t die, don’t die, don’t die
There’s a fish, there’s a rock, who cares, don’t die. 
I don’t wanna die, don’t let me die
Let’s swim and breathe and live,
cause living is good and dying, not as good.”

It’s sort of the grown up version of Finding Nemo’s “Just keep swimming.”

Things are crazy right now.
Yes I am blessed, but these circumstances are overwhelming.
And that’s okay, I am who God created me to be, navigating it as best I can.

And right now my best life looks like this:

1) We have everything we need to function, No, the house doesn’t look like I’d love it to, but freaking out will only make us all miserable so I’m going to try to avoid that.
2) Kel is already overloaded at work and overloading him at home will also only make him… and then all of us… miserable. So we go at a pace that includes rest and breaks, even though this takes longer we all come out feeling alive and far less burned out on it all. None of us are machines.
3) I prayed for this house, these children and the ability to be home with them, yes it’s hard, but these answered prayers oughtn’t be thrown away.
4) I’m pregnant and even though I am in my second trimester, my energy level isn’t where it usually would be, a perfect playroom and living room isn’t worth an unhealthy pregnancy. ‘Nuff said.

There’s more, I’m sure, but this is the gist of it.

And if all this fails (and sometimes it does) I think of my dear friend’s new daughter, a beautiful little five year in Ethiopia, who they are in the process of adopting.

She is in an orphanage with developmental delays, most of which are a result of an rough childhood.

These is truly hard, truly tough, truly overwhelming circumstances and her story never fails to bring tears to my eyes and to remind me that the color of my cabinets is meaningless in the light of what is truly important to the human heart.

Unconditional Love, acceptance and safety.

Selah and Amen.

Oh and if you would like to donate anything at all to help the O’Neal family bring their daughter home, please click here to donate.

You will likely be hearing more about this little girl in the weeks to come, please continue to pray for her and this sweet family as they prepare to welcome her home. 

Does transition overwhelm you? What have you learned about yourself in seasons such as these? 

Don’t miss a post, use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

Why I Believe

A few month’s back I was asked by Believe.com if I would be willing to do a phone call with them about their new “I’m a believer” campaign. I looked into their site a little bit, spoke with the lovely Andrea on the phone and decided to go for it, even though it would involve me making my video-blog debut (yikes!) 

The question I had to answer in my video and in the corresponding text was this: Why do I believe in God.

I found this a hard question to answer because no matter what answer I came up with, they were all so self-centered.

I believe in God because he sustains my life in every season, no matter what… he’s the one who got me through with gentle love and endless grace.

This answer is true, but so much more about me than about God, more about my needs being met than a reflection of his infinite goodness, holiness and love.

The more I thought about my answer, the more I realized that it is and must continue to grow into a deep need and appreciation for his pools, his oceans of love and all the ways this is evident in creation, in my life, in his Word.

Is my answer the most mature answer? No, I am quite convinced that it’s fraught with human-failing and that there are others out there with meatier responses.

But we start where we are, yes?

I’d love to share the believe.com piece with you today, and the corresponding video. Bear with me, it was a raw and difficult story to tell in under two minutes… with one take.

And here is the piece at Believe.com, I encourage you to click around and check out the others who are being featured in the “I’m a believer” series.

And honestly, I encourage you to reflect on this question for yourself:

Do you believe in God? If so, why?
If you had to write about it, talk about it in less than two minutes, what would you say? Do you like your answer? 

Don’t miss a post, use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

And when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

Love Showed Up: Be The Miracle

Today’s post rings true and beautiful and comes to us from the Lovely Bethany Suckrow. Enjoy!6787489939_7ed586fe31_b

I have a hard time believing in miracles. It’s not that I don’t believe in God. It’s not that I don’t believe that Jesus really performed the miracles recorded in the Gospels. It’s just that my own story is marked by the miracle that never came: my mother’s healing.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 10 years old. My memories of that time in our lives are still vivid nearly two decades later. I remember seeing her bandaged chest after her mastectomy. I remember her waist-length curtain of dark brown hair falling out in handfuls, and the way she looked the morning after she made dad shave her head. I remember walking into their bedroom to see her laying in the darkness, spent with sickness after another chemo treatment. I remember the prayers I prayed – God, please help mom feel better. God, please make her hair grow back. God, please don’t take her away. God, please. Please. 

I remember other things too, memories that I look back on with deep gratitude and love. I remember the stack of cards that came in the mail, from everyone we knew, it seemed. So many times mom would open them and a slip of paper would fall out onto the kitchen counter – a check to help us make ends’ meet. I remember the people that showed up on our doorstep, arms full of food. Some of these people were flesh-and-blood family, but most of them were our church family. We attended the same small Baptist church in my rural hometown in Michigan for my whole life, and my mother’s whole life. They are a congregation of real salt-of-the-earth people, mostly farmers and their families that have lived in the area for several generations. With the same steadfastness (some might say stubbornness) that survives Michigan winters and plows the hard ground year after year, the parishioners attend that same First Baptist Church on Cochran Road. And with that same steadfastness, they rally around one another in seasons of hardship. At the time of mom’s first diagnosis, and again five years later when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, they were ever-present with prayer and encouragement and meals and cards and childcare.

Mom lived with metastatic breast cancer for nearly 10 years after she received the second diagnosis in 2002. Considering that her doctors gave her three years maximum prognosis, this was miraculous. Most of that time, she didn’t even look sick. It wasn’t until it spread to her soft tissue in those last three years that things started to change. As her conditioned worsened, mine did too; my faith felt toxic.  I felt like what hope I had left was dying inside of me. The community and meals and financial support were great and all, but God, wouldn’t it just be better if you healed her so that we wouldn’t need it anymore? 

I wanted total healing for my mother, but God refused to give it. I prayed for the miracle, longed for the miracle, tried to will myself into believing hard enough that if I knocked, the door would be opened. It didn’t. In the final year of mom’s life, everything felt desperate and desolate. Mom was in and out of the hospital every other week and every part of her body seemed to be failing her. At home, things were just as dire; my parents were swamped with medical debt and no one had the time or mental where-with-all to keep track of anything.

And that’s when Love showed up in a big way for us. A few friends from church and some members of our family decided to plan a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to help raise funds for my parents. Hundreds of helping hands joined the effort with donations for the meal and the auction, and on the night of the event, hundreds more showed up. Despite how physically weak she was after another stint in the hospital, Mom was able to attend. They sat her in a chair by the door to the auditorium where the dinner was being held and friend after friend came to her with hugs and words of encouragement. All in all, more than 800 people came and raised more than $14,000.

Some days, I still have a hard time believing in miracles. I can’t sugar-coat the reality that the one I spent a lifetime praying for never came. My mom died when I was 24, and every day I miss her. Every day I battle my bitterness and anger. Every day I ask God why. Every day I ask God to prove to me that Love is real. And every day, the memories fall like manna – I remember the friends that showed up with arms full of food, the cards that came in the mail, the funds tucked inside them that helped our family make ends’ meet. And I remember the night of the spaghetti dinner and silent auction as its own miracle – all those people showing up for us, all of them sharing their resources and moving one another toward compassion and generosity – it was the feeding of five thousand, it was water turned to wine, it was Love made flesh and dwelling among us.

Screen shot 2014-06-01 at 2.34.02 PM Bethany Suckrow is a writer and blogger at at www.bethanysuckrow.com, where she shares both prose and poetry on faith, grace, grief and hope. She is currently working on her first book, a memoir about losing her mother to cancer. She and her musician-husband, Matt, live in the Chicago suburbs.

Don’t miss a post, use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…