To the One Beside the Hospital Bed

097I see you.

Holding your hurt so close to your heart it stays unspoken. Hoping that your tired eyes don’t show beneath the coffee and the makeup. Hiding the burden you carry because you are the smile, the steady hand and the bringer of flowers and fuzzy socks and all the things big and little.

I know you.

You are brother and sister. You are mother and father. You are nana and papa. You are husband and wife. You are son and daughter. You are friend and neighbor. You are grace and laughter. You are love and tears. You are the reason to wake up, to push through, to hold on and to fight.

I hear you.

When you fill the silence with words because the what-if’s are too hard to carry. When you whisper things into the darkness of a hospital room that you hope are already known. When you say yes to everything offered because there is no price tag too high for the chance to have another day with me in it.

I get you.

Doing all the things that must be done even though your whole world has fallen down. Forcing yourself to put one foot in front of the other just to find tomorrow. Leaving the hospital to find yourself sobbing in the car only to realize you are home again and have to pull it all together.

Because life must go on to the humdrum beat of the mundane.

Bills paid and lunches packed and papers signed and groceries bought and plumbing fixed and oil changed in such a steady, familiar pound that no one seems to recognize its bravery.

And yet it is.

So even when you feel like a hero unsung, know that you are always noticed.

For you are the light in my smile, in my strength, in my very breath. You are the way He holds my hand in places where no one else will tread.  You are the one who carries the chance of a hard goodbye in every sweet hello.

You are so much more than mundane or humdrum or familiar.

You are an everyday warrior of love.


An Unexpected Love Story

handIt is a love story, interrupted.

Born out of an unexpected beginning. Found in a young mama’s tears. Laced gently in a baby’s cry.

All on a Christmas day, many years ago.

The day when her high school love would go hunting and never return. Leaving her alone with her infant daughter and the unfinished hope of a lifetime together.

The local newspapers would call the accident tragic, speaking of the young bride and the baby he left behind. It was this that caught the eye of a young Army captain, sitting at the kitchen table with his mama. Broken over their pain, he and his mama began to pray.

Pray for the young widow. Pray for the little girl. Pray for a light to enter their darkness.

Little did he know just how that light would come.

Because some time later, this shy young captain would introduce himself to the very same widow at church. Even now, she will admit with a bit of a twinkle in her eye that she was rather unimpressed. But as days went by, she learned that he was more than just another chance at love.


This man would also be used to heal the heart of her little girl.

So much so that when the young captain and his sweet bride married, the little girl was certain she would be going along on their honeymoon because her Daddy loved her best of all.

It was the first and only time in her life that he disappointed her.

As the years went by, the love between the captain and his bride grew into something quite remarkable. It became the love story that a cynical world might claim impossible.

Love notes every day. Hands always held. Care always given. And prayers always offered together.

They were the best of friends, best of sweethearts and best of partners in every way. They had babies and grandbabies and great grands. And they revelled in it.

Basketball games and concerts and birthday parties and weddings and all the things a love story gives. But as life does in the span of eighty five years, their bodies began to fail.

First, her stroke and seven precious months of him waiting for his bride to come home. Home from the hospital. Home from in-patient recovery. Home from assisted living.


Back and forth, they would go.

But each time a discharge was near, he would make sure that everything was just so to welcome her home. Working so hard that his body began to buckle itself.

A surgery. A complication. An unexpected death.

His love, a widow once again.

But as she went to hold his hand for the last time, her girl’s girl bent down closely and whispered, “He spent all year preparing for you to come home and so maybe, just maybe, his heart knew you would need him to welcome you Home one last time.”

Her eyes brimmed with tears and her head nodded gently, as if holding onto the promise fulfilled in their own little love story: That the deepest, darkest pain can give way to the love of a lifetime. And whose start was, without coincidence, on Christmas Day.

A day born out of an unexpected beginning. A day found in a young mama’s tears. A day laced in a baby’s cry.

All giving way to the greatest love story the world would ever know.






All photographs courtesy of Maria Morris and Design Blossoms.

It was a Sunday.

A beautiful, brunch-with-my-Papa kind of Sunday.

I had just helped my baby climb into her chair when I noticed someone wheeling towards me.

Her eyes sparkled. Her silver hair was neatly tucked into a bun. And her bright, flowered dress stood out amongst the equally silver-haired crowd.

I had barely pushed my chair from the table to get myself something to eat when she arrived. But soon, we were chatting and laughing and swapping teacher stories. It wasn’t until my empty stomach reminded me I still hadn’t eaten that I began to stand once again…

And then she saw it.

My ever so lovely assistive device. A sight not altogether foreign in this place but unusual, just the same. It was only as we were making our way to the food line, my new friend asked the question I could tell she had been holding in, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but why do you walk with a cane?”

So with a shrug and half-smile, I gave her the quick answer, “A stroke.”

But she pressed for more and more and more and by the end, I had told her everything.

About the auto immune disease. The stroke. The miscarriage. The septic shock. The rainbow baby. The blood clot. The lung issues. The heart complications. The surgeries. The whole big mess and a half.

I watched as her eyes widened with each new thing but as I drew to a close, she said something I will never forget, “What incredible healing you’ve had!!!!!”

No “I’m sorries.” No “Whoa, that’s a lot.” No “I can’t believe you have been through so much!” Instead, all she offered was a baffled look and a “What incredible healing you’ve had!!!”

It wasn’t until I rode home with my loves that I sat under the full grace of her words.

Little did I know that two weeks later I would be in the hospital with severe sepsis and pneumonia in both lungs. Little did I know that I would my recovery would last weeks and weeks. Little did I know that I would be back in a place that I have been so many times before.

A place where my heart would need to meet my Jehovah Rapha, my Healer. Just so that I could look beyond what the world sees as healed and accept the grace of what He has done over and over and over again…

In bringing me home to my loves.

To see their faces. To know their touch. To hear their voices.

To be present. To count each heartbeat. To hold every hand.

To be loved. To be humbled. To be handed a life worth living.

And to be grateful to a God who loves me so much that He would fight for me, that He would know my heart, that He would bring healing and stall this disease once again so that I could be here today to say with all I have…

Thank you for one more day to love them all over again.

Remembering Mercy




I remember feeling breathless.

Breathless as I held onto your daddy’s arm. Breathless as my body fought to hold onto you. Breathless as the doctor begged for me to stay awake.

I remember feeling empty.

Empty because I knew you were Home. Empty because no one else knew. Empty because our story was not supposed to end this way.

With me in an ER fighting for breath six years ago today.

I remember feeling like I shouldn’t remember.

The pain. The hard. The trauma.

Of going to bed one night, grieving a baby I would never meet only to wake up in a world of breathing tubes and central lines and whispers of “It doesn’t look good.”

But beyond breathless, beyond infection spilling into every corner of my body, beyond the reality that six years ago today, I was dying comes a mercy like none other.


Because in every twist and every turn and every place I have gone since that day, you have been teaching me to trust the Father I only thought I knew…

The One who catches my tears and holds my heart and gives me breath when I can’t breathe. The One who shows up when the world fades away and my soul is weary and my mind, overwhelmed. The One who bears my doubt, my anger, my darkest places with a grace and love unimaginable.


This is why you came and lived within me, if only for just a little while.

To teach me that when it all falls down and my heart can’t reconcile the pain of this world, my God will be all who He says He is and more.

Every minute. Every hour. Every year.

Bringing me closer and closer to the day I can finally say to you,

“I’m Home, my love. I’m Home.”


To the Man in the Parking Lot

disabled-parkingIt is strange the things we remember in places we never meant to be.

I remember how my hands shook on the wheel. I remember the voice of my little girl asking if you were okay. I remember the sting of angry tears in my eyes.

But I cannot remember your face.

I can only see deep red as you pointed to the handicapped sign in front of my car and yelled, “You are an F$*&$#% moron!!!!”


It only took seconds for you to take your fist to my car and determine that I must be a moron because I had a placard in my rearview mirror.

It may have been my fault.

Despite my checking my rearview mirror cam and side mirror three times. Despite my natural tendency to move with extreme caution in parking lots. Despite my inching out at turtle slow speed.

I may have missed you just as you walked behind my van.

It is why my heart still fell even when I knew you were unharmed. It is why I scrambled to roll down my window to apologize. It is why I couldn’t even breathe anything back at your angry words.

But. Then.

Then the weight of what had been said began to bubble up into anger. The kind that rages at injustice and wants to post and blog and do all the things. So all the way home, I worked through all the things I should have said to you.

About kindness. About having a disability. About restraint—especially in front of a three-year-old little girl. But then the rest of the day came and all the things had to wait.

Wait until my seven-year-old climbed into the car and began to tell me about her day.

A day that marked the first time she wore her new glasses to school. A day that had been bathed in worry over what people might say. A day when I held my breath until she said, “Mom, someone said I was goofy-looking.”

My heart fell. My eyes misted. My hand grabbed hers. And I whispered an “I’m sorry” before I asked my normally outspoken girl, “What did you say back?”



“Yup. I mean, I was really mad. Like crazy mad, Mom. So I knew if I said anything it might be something that would make his heart hurt. And I didn’t want his heart to feel as badly as mine did.”

It was there, sitting in the echo of her words, I remembered you.

Remembered how I’d lectured. Remembered how I’d railed. Remembered how I’d lashed out.

Even though it was in the safety of my mini-van.

But. This.

This love through the eyes of my girl, the kind that cares more about the person in front of her than the need to be right, gave me the grace to let tears fall.

And fall, they did.

At my own need to be heard. At my own need to be right. At my own need to save my pride.

And as they fell, my heart began to count all the ways that real love responds.

That it will slip into another’s skin and walk around awhile before words are spoken. That it will show up bigger and stronger than the ugliness around it. That it will care more about the brokenness of a person’s heart than all that is hurled in red-faced anger and harsh words.

Because this kind of love isn’t about you or I.

It’s about the One who has asked us all to love like a little girl who saw what it meant to love someone as herself.

A love that is so revolutionary, it can stand up to the greatest hurt that this world has to offer and hurl. A love that heals and binds and brings peace. A love that changes everything because it changes me.

So even though the memories of you are faded and worn, in this moment I need to say thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that as long as I have breath, I can choose His love. I can choose it no matter the anger, no matter the injustice, no matter the insult, no matter the frustration. Be it in a parking lot or a classroom or in the broken places of my own heart, I can choose to find my way back to love.

And today, that choice begins with you.

Some Days You Just End Up With Pee On The Floor


When my children speak of their childhood, this is the story they will tell.

Call this my penance, call this my confession, call this my what-in-the-hoot-was-I-thinking or call it what it is, an absolutely ridiculous story.

No doubt written because yours truly decided after 7 days in bed, post-op and upstairs that I was nigh unto delusion and needed sweet, sweet air coupled with the joy of wearing real pants.

The hubs even started with an, “Are you sure……..”

To which I probably gave the crazy-eyed look of a woman who was not to be questioned, especially one who had yet to take the pain medication that would make the aforementioned adventure possible.

Should you wonder as to how much or what kind, I give you Steve Martin and Vatsnik.


You’re welcome.

Now as for our task? Completely. Simple.

Buy the boy a backpack courtesy of grandma and grandpa at the ever so dude-worthy store, Runder Rarmour at an outdoor mall of massive scale.

(And should any of you be questioning the need for protecting the store’s true identity, I give you the rest of this story.)

When life was good for about two minutes until I heard a very familiar voice coming from Dressing Room #1, “Mooooommmmeee?”

Something in me said this was not a question you responded to until you were safely contained in said room.

So I hobbled forth and the moment I opened the door, I saw it.

A puddle of pee.

Oh. My. Vatsnik.

Words cannot even describe the shade of white the teenage employee turned when Nathan quietly whispered, “Our kid just peed in your dressing room.”

Thoughts of regret were certainly going through his mind, like “Why didn’t I take that internship Uncle Bill offered me at his law firm this summer?” Until Nathan rescued him with a quick, “Dude, we’ll clean it up. We just need some supplies.”


I highly doubt your employee that heard pee and floor in the same sentence would agree that extraordinary and detailed is always better. But whatevs, y’all.

Now if you have met our kids, you know they are not quiet.

We are loud and louder.

So imagine the darling comments that came from Dressing Room #1 during clean-up…




Dear. Jesus. Help.

Still drugged and somewhat frayed, my eyes widened when I opened the door to this declaration from my son, “Um, I think I want to go look and see what else this place has for backpacks.”

But boom, my man.

Always ahead of the game, he answered with a quick, “I’m going to get a wheelchair!”

Never has my guy looked so divine as when he came around the corner pushing that chair. Our madness was over. Even as I settled down into the seat, I felt a burden lifted until…

Two rolls into being home free, one wheel locked and I nearly launched onto the pavement.

Not being quitters, we thought we could Jedi-mind trick this thing into submission. But after about ten roll-roll-launches and me laughing so hard that we were worried about another peeing incident, we relented. The hubs went back to get another chair, leaving me in charge of the 3 by a fountain.

Now let me just say that again.

Me. Three Kids. A fountain. Vatsnik.


Cue the same wide-eyed Runder Rarmour look now on my hubs face when he rounded the corner with the new wheels and found all three kids soaked from head to toe and yours truly laughing so hard that wet pants didn’t even matter.

Because. Really.

When 4 out of the 5 people you brought with you have wet pants, it’s time to embrace that some things simply cannot be redeemed.

So we left.


For some utterly insane reason known only in eternity, we kept going. And to top it all off, my darling 6-year-old was now my chaffeur.

What you must understand is this girl has gumption. Full-on “I will survive at all cost” gumption.

We ran into people. We ran into doors. We ran into bushes of several varieties. We ran into displays. We ran into check out counters. We ran into someone else IN A WHEELCHAIR.

All at full steam ahead and delightfully narrated by the same said 6-year-old.


This could go on and on.

But in the interest of time and sanity, we will stop there and end with a butt.

It was only after we determined that the backpack we had found in the first 2 minutes at Runder Rarmour was THE ONE and we had to re-enter a place where one of our people had peed on the floor only 45 minutes earlier, that I gave in.

Vatsnik or no, it was time for this story to end.

As we rolled onward, I began to feel that we might be home free. So much so, I decided to nearly love the deliciousness of it all. Love it until only 10 feet from the car, my driver slammed me into the curb.

Leaving her to say what deserves to be printed on a pillow and sold in Targets everywhere…

“Mom, let’s face it. Some days, you just end up with pee on the floor.”


Meet Dr. Snuggles

20170710_123805Six weeks ago, it began.

A slight obsession on the part of my boy to take me to Build-A-Bear for my 40th birthday.

There were reminder notes and caveats to bedtime prayers and even a scribbled add-on to our Summer Bucket list.

Now I would like to say I paid attention. Or that I asked him why. Or that I had mama intuition out the yin-yang.

But that would a big fat lie.

Instead, I discounted and pushed off and set aside and ignored. I was busy. I was tired. I was whatever I was at the moment.

And life just seemed bigger than my boy’s slight obsession.

Until one night when my eldest girl came into my bedroom, snuggled up to me and said, “Mom, do you know why he wants you to go to Build-A-Bear? He knows another surgery is coming up and he doesn’t want you to be alone at the hospital. He thought a bear with our kisses inside it would help you to be brave.”

My heart fell and my eyes filled with tears as I half-whispered, “Really???”

She nodded back and said, “I just thought you should know.”

So I brushed my tears away to resolution, one that was determined to find the greatest of bears so my boy knew I was cared for and loved while out of his reach.

The next day, he held my hand tightly as we entered the store, letting go only to grab the perfect bear and carry it around from station to station with his sisters in tow.

From kissing hearts to settling on an outfit to choosing a name, they went. All leading up to the moment he would say, “Meet Dr. Snuggles.”

It was not long after this introduction and our walk back to the car, I realized I was braver somehow.

Braver because a little boy had seen my hard and had determined to walk me through it. Braver even though I had discounted and pushed off and set aside and ignored. Braver because his love broke through the noise of a busy life—leaving me to remember that bravery is not a thing that comes from your own strength.

Bravery instead comes from the love that walks with you.

Be it from a Father who will carry you on the days you cannot carry yourself. Or a friend who shows up ready to join you in the messiest messes. Or a little boy whose heart only knows that a bear had once made him feel brave.

Love will shout and scribble and show up. If only to walk us all the way to the hard places we must go. Knowing that in the end, we will all be a little bit braver somehow.