If you were three today. . .

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If you were three today. . .

I would have plotted and planned and bought and baked. . .

If you were three today. . .

I would have woke you up with singing and kisses and tickles. . .

If you were three today. . .

Your brothers would have filled your room with pink balloons while you slept and your biggest brother would have walked you through the wonder of that. . .

If you were three today. . .

We would have picked out your birthday outfit with shoes that sparkles like your eyes and warm leggings and mixed prints. I’m thinking we would have a hard time choosing your Valentines outfit and then realize you could wear both- – one on your birthday. . .

If you were three today. . .

I can’t say I’d know what you want , as you were never meant to want for anything. But whatever you’d want, you’d have. In Spades.

If you were three today. . .

Your cake would be a multi- step project. Nana and I would be architects of the sweetest sort. . .

If you were three today. . .

I’d wink at you in worship and maybe bring you up for closing song. . .

If you were three today. . .

I’d take pictures of you with all of your boys and they’d each have a flower for you, my dear

If you were three today. . .

Your daddy would be soft today with a little extra twinkle in his eye just like he was on the day you were born. . .

If you were three today. . .

And at night time – I’d tuck you in and run my fingers through your hair and read you the Ellis Grace book . I’d tell you the story of when you were born. . . The day of Gods Greatest Kindness and I’d tell you what wonderful things three would bring you. . . We’d talk about miss Kay and backpacks and summer splashes . . .

If you were three today. . .

And I would go to bed thanking God for you, my most delightful gift, as I did every night I held you close. . .

If you were three today. . .

Come to think of it, I’m sure I would have made you your very own pink sparkly drumsticks

If you were three today. . .

But today you are timeless, living in a kingdom far away. . .

And so I’ll wait and keep the secret. . .

“Here is the secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the secret that is keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart ( I carry it in my heart)”

(e.e. Cummings)

Happy Birthday Princess Grace ,

I’m right behind you. Still running my race.

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How a Failed Intervention Worked for Us

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A year ago we staged an intervention in one last attempt to pluck my dad from the evil grips of Addiction. We hired a professional interventionist to help guide our loving efforts- -someone who understood the mind of an addict in ways we don’t. We made a plan, secured childcare, enlisted prayer warriors, bought brand new clothes to go in a duffel bag that would hopefully go to a treatment facility. We spent a lot of money on medication he already had so that there would be no reason to delay in getting help. We wrestled over what our personal boundaries would be. And committed to following through with them- hoping we would never have to.

I knew that God was releasing me from any entanglement in the darkness of the multiple addictions. My boundaries reflected that call on my life. No physical or emotional relationship beyond letters or texts. No more visits with papa. No more awkward dinners wondering what’s going on. No more going to Sheriffs department to try to facilitate treatment or assist with safety measures. No more earthly Father to speak of.

We did the intervention because God whispered in my ear this was the most loving way out of the nightmare I found myself in. We did the intervention because when you realize someone you love is in grave danger- – you risk it all. We did it because we believe in the holy power of hard conversations. We did it because my mother will never leave my father behind without trying to help him find his way. We did it because we believed that deep down – – that sweet daddy that picked me up, taught me to drive, gave me away, and advised me faithfully was STILL IN THERE.

And I did it because I needed to be free through LOVE and not out of fear. It was the one stone unturned and we’re not the kind of family that misses one.

I want to tell you that after we poured out our hearts to my Dad that LOVE and a desire to get clean flooded over him- – that we all held hands and gritted our teeth as we walked into a treatment facility United. That this facility was the healing place with the family therapy that repaired gaping wounds. But that’s not what happened.

No, not at all.

The intervention was short and sweet . My dad didn’t wrestle at all with the choice between his family and his addictions. I’d like to tell you that the thought of not seeing me or my children tore him up and that he held me and said, ” I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you in my life.”

But I wasn’t chosen on that day. . . I wasn’t too great a loss to bear. My unborn child and I left on that cold Friday afternoon to a sacred weekend of mourning. I had to be willing to endure a great loss for my Dad to experience the depth of loss needed to hear God more clearly. That failed intervention hadn’t failed nearly as dreadfully as it seemed. But victory was delivered in the holding of each loving boundary that seemed to harsh to bear. Victory was delivered ,not when I had enough,

But when my loved one decided that He Had Enough. . . And He and God were the only ones who could really fix it, heal it, clean it out, and carry on. . .

I learned:

That loving people is good but sometimes loving yourself is the best way to love others well

That the people who are continuously inflicting pain are in continuous pain themselves. I don’t have to understand it but I do have to acknowledge it and have compassion in my heart for that fact.

That the prodigal son in the Bible is more about the prodigals brother than the son himself. I am Both.

That healing is possible but God uses a different formula to deliver it often times ( my dad started recovery in an intensive outpatient program in Colorado with continued work remotely – – NOT the in-patient treatment facility I was convinced was the ONLY answer)

That God works faster than you can imagine. He heals much faster than we destroy when we LET HIM WORK

That when God makes someone NEW,

He takes the old away. They deserve the same courtesy from us.

One month after I mourned the loss of my father, He came walking down the road – – ready to take his place at the feasting table. . .

He was there at the birth of my son and I believe he will continue to be victorious in Christ and a blessing to his family for the entirety of His life. . .

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17

The Pain in the Parking Lot

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Yesterday I sat in my car in a pre-school parking lot and I watched people walk their daughters in to school.  One little girl was a tiny bit chilly and she shivered and rubbed her arms up and down.

Would I have thought to bring a sweater for Ellis Grace?  Or would I have given her the tough line I often give her brothers. . . it’ll warm up later and she’ll be glad to not have a jacket. . .

Where is my daughter?  This simply shouldn’t be.  I should be adjusting a backpack, tying girlie laces, and giving one more set of hugs and kisses. . .                                                                                                                                                               Would we hold hands until she got to her classroom? Or would she want to be independent and walk alongside me?

In truth, she would be 2 ½.   She would not be in preschool yet.  She would not go to this particular preschool. And it would not be possible most days for me to walk her there if she did go.

But as I watch these other mothers.  The ones who get to keep their girls.  The ones who surround me on this cool morning.  I don’t understand why I don’t get to do any of it.

Their joy shines a big ol’ magnifying glass on my longing.

I feel forsaken and left behind.

I feel punished.

Where is my daughter?  Why do they get to share these moments with theirs?

That’s simply not true, I tell myself.  You are loved and chosen and perfectly planned for.  You’re not missing out on anything. . .

But it’s hard to believe that as I sit where I sit and see what I see.

And it’s so very clear that I am.

I’m angry at you God, I tell Him sharply.   I’m hurting every single day and you know it. . . as the tears roll down my face.

I’m not telling Him anything that He does not know.  He knows every hurt. He’s as much a part of my heart as the hurt that lives there.

All parents would do just about anything to keep their children out of harm’s way. . . to rescue them. . . .to save them. Look at the lengths He went to just to save me.

That’s true and I know it’s true. And if it’s true.

And It is.

And if I know it. . .

And I do.

Then this  is very, very necessary.  Can’t be avoided. Not in my best interests.  As sure as every earthly Father I know would throw himself in front of a car to protect their daughter, my God is more protective of me.

So I do not understand.  Like a baby screaming from the pain of a shot designed to keep them healthy,  I writhe, and cry, and ache.   I am a child of God. It’s true.  But I am not God.  There are certain vaults that won’t be open to me.  Certain types of prescribed pain that I am to endure. . . for my strength, good, endurance, and purpose.

Can’t see it this morning through my blurred vision.  Can’t feel it because the pain dominates all the strength, endurance, and purpose I’ve been given.

Everything has changed. And nothing has changed at all. He must have His reasons for doing, causing, and allowing all that He does.

And I certainly have my reasons for trusting Him.  . .

I turn back slow and place my head on His chest in the secret place that exists between He and I when there is no space between us at all.  The roaring lion is only breathing softly as his mane catches my tears and they roll down His beautiful golden hair.  As my tears hit the ground, they turn into feathers that look like crystals.  And He blows them away as kisses that will return to me later. Soon they’ll grace my path as a knowing remembrance of our love.  And I’ll need to be sure and keep looking for each one. . . For ever feeling of forsakenness, a feather of some sort is promised to me.

The pain is real but so are the promises.  I release my desire to understand for now. I release my bitterness toward the moms who have no way of understanding their privilege.   And I embrace what I know. What will always save me. Find me. Right me. Anchor me. Hold me. And then I lace ‘em up and keep running.   We’re gonna be doing this for a long time, I fear.

But I don’t need to think about that right now. I just need to run until I need the next break or see the next feather. . .

He is faithful. And I. . .

I am reconciled again.

A Letter to My Son on Victory Day

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Dear Samuel,

I pray that this is the first of many letters that I get to write to you. I hope there are Birthday letters, a baptism letter, college letters, and special letters on special days that I don’t even know about yet.

The truth is I have been writing letters to another baby these past two years. . . A baby named Ellis Grace who you will join one day in heaven. She is your sister and will always be regarded as Gods Greatest Kindness to our family. You will grow to love her memory and her place in our family as much as your brothers who got to hold her here on earth.

My letters to her I liken to sending a message in a bottle – – the exercise is full of love and mystery but the delivery is unknown and possibly never happens. It is a heart exercise to an unknown address with no guaranteed delivery.

And that , my boy, is where a significant difference lies. For you are all about deliverance. Ellis was my promise but you are the deliverance of those promises we continue to stand on today. And you will always be regarded as Gods Greatest Remembrance of Our Family. He remembered our hurt. He kept holding our hearts. He never forgot we were in the palm of His Hand. . . And it is with that Kindness, Faithfulness, and Assurance that He will now place you in the palm of our hands.

Your name, Samuel , means God has heard. God has heard our cries, has seen our need, and has gone before us in His perfect ways carrying out a His perfect plans. . . It is a perfect plan from a perfect Father that has brought you to our family.

And your middle name, Ransom, means rescue or deliverance. . . A price paid for freedom. . . God has heard our cry for deliverance and He has answered with your name.

Samuel Ransom Holliday, you make us sure of what we cannot see,

Grateful for what we did not ask for . . .

And blessed beyond our hearts deepest dreams. God started sending me feathers as soon as your ordained days began. The feathers are love notes indicating you are covered by His mighty wings- that we are all cradled by His mighty hands. . . Both here on earth and the parts of us that live forever in heaven. You are a new Mercy and new beginning that I am very grateful for. You will not have the youngest mom but rather, the most grateful.

We cannot wait to let the Great Author God start our new chapter with you, little one. For you we have prayed, and God has granted us the desires of our heart.

Come and take your place among the royal princes disguised as Dirty Farmers. Among the great man disguised as a fun daddy who will hold his breath until you have taken your very first one. . .

And when you hear me singing you can know that not only are you home where you belong. . . But so are we.

We Love You,

Mommy, Daddy, Jackson, Gage, Grayson

And from her heavenly perch- – Ellis Grace

Victory in Motion: the strength of submission in the eyes of our men

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Last year I posted before and after pictures of myself. I even made them into a collage to highlight the greatness of God’s power in my life. Now these weren’t those full-body-practically-in-my-underwear-beach body-style pictures inviting you to scrutinize a body that God made perfectly. But you can still see in the first picture I am 40 pounds heavier with the weight of the world on my shoulders , my eyes are swollen from releasing love that ran down my face continually. I’m not just heavy but heavy burdened. I’m weak and disoriented and foggy. I’m everything a woman doesn’t want to see and likely everything a man doesn’t want to see in a woman.

The second picture is so much kinder. I’m back at the size I was when he met and married me. Just enough make up on to look naturally beautiful and glowing. And an inviting smile on my face and that same hot pink workout tank top just looks more attractive minus the 40 pounds.

So I asked him later in the day “hey honey what did you think of my before and after pictures ? how did I look ?” Now even though we live in a feminist world, it remains a world that objectifies women. I get sucked into this culture like everybody else. So I guess I expected my husband to use a word like “hot ” or “skinny” or maybe even a “smoking”. Which I might add would be fine by me. I want him to want me. I strongly desired to be the object of his desire. But if I was expecting that, I was about to be disappointed.

Because He said I think you look victorious. That’s what my hubby sees when he looks at me: strength, perseverance, endurance, discipline, bold beauty characterized by victory in Christ. He sees me as a conqueror.

Big deal. So what? Why do you think this is blog worthy? Well the reason is is a big deal to me is because we live in a traditional Christian covenant marriage. I consistently respect him even when I disagree with him. And it doesn’t happen very often, but if we find ourselves at odds – – he has the final say. And when that happens , I continue to respect him. I yield to him. I lift him up. I intentionally keep him in a position of power and leadership in my life. I submit to his authority in all things. So from a worldly perspective, it strikes me kind of funny that when he looks at me he only sees strength and power, Victor and conquer. I’m not a doormat that he doesn’t take time to notice. And I’m not just a beautiful thing that is constantly bowing down to him either. He has seen me not get my way and still lovingly go along with his way. He knows it isn’t easy to trust so deeply in someone else. So He has a deep respect for the fact that I do this and that I do it on a daily basis.

We are one team, he and I. When I stand victorious, he shares in the bounty of a real victory. My successes they bless him, my victories they proclaim his greatness.

This wouldn’t of been the case a few years ago. It was more important for me to be right and victorious. It was more important for me to knock him down a few pegs then to stand on the mountaintop right beside him.

I wonder what His answer would have been if He looked at the same picture during that season. I fear he might have said, “You look really good” or “you look great.” He may have even paused a long time wondering what he should say. What the ” right” answer was. . . He would have tried to answer my way and it would have greatly lessened my value in the process.

Because who He uniquely is adds value to me. It Makes my reflection shine brighter. And it deepens his view of me which deepens my view of myself. I would totally missed that if I stayed in the land of standing on my own. I would make myself an object of defiance. Suck myself into a movement of madness. Moving in the exact opposite direction of where my real security lies. I love it that I serve a God who makes sure that I stand up for myself when I bow down to him. That’s a victorious motion.

My Promise

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Promises to My Daughter on Her Second Birthday in Heaven

I promise to walk in the joy you brought me and the promises your life taught me.

I promise to remember and love you in a way that will make your 41 days last forever.

I promise to make your brothers days my priority knowing I’ll have all of eternity with you.

I promise to live my life in such a way that I’ll arrive where you are soon and very soon.

I promise to love and respect Daddy in a way that He’ll be able to Lead in the light of such great loss. . . For their is no darkness in your perfect purity.

I promise to worship the Giver even more than I delighted in the gift of you.

I promise to anchor my heart in truth with every Rose and glorious hair bow.

I promise to accept your invitation to heaven. . . It’s closeness, it’s realness. . . It’s place in our hearts here on earth.

I promise to accept the ordination of your days. . . In correspondence with The perfection of His ways. . .

I promise my Royal princess to keep you holy in my heart and never allow you to become an idol of twisted worship.

I promise to be as honest about how losing you wrecked me as I am about the One who Saves me.

I promise Ill always miss you, long for you, weep for you, delight in you. . . Knowing that My Father in Heaven will always remain even more invested in me. . . Than I am in you.

Like Him , my love has no end and will never quit.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Ellis Grace Holliday, my promise from God,My beloved daughter, sweetest gift, and God’s Greatest Kindness to our Family.

To the Ones Who Stand Beside Me

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There’s no handbook for this. No right or perfect way to navigate it. We are all around people who are grieving and affected by trauma every day. Since I have become one of those people, I am more aware than EVER of their presence and challenges.

We can be really annoying sometimes.  Often we are that distracted friend who doesn’t seem to be listening to you. . .

The one Who never texts you back.

The one who doesn’t make you feel as cared for as we used to.

We are in the car ahead of you. That car that hasn’t moved. . .

even though the turn signal changed FIVE seconds ago.

Sometimes we just can’t connect with you . . . sometimes those times come when you are the most excited to see us.

We can’t commit to that event you’re hosting and hoping we’ll attend. You don’t realize it but there will be ghosts there. . . triggers and danger packed unexpected spots . . .

and we’re not sure if we’re ready to navigate all of them.

Sometimes you try to “cheer” us up and we clearly resent you for it.

Often times we are distant.  A million miles away yet sitting right beside you.

We are happy you are happy – – that your world remains untouched by the deep gashes that have hit ours.  We don’t want to burst all your beautiful bubbles by taking you on a million mile journey that we ourselves wish we hadn’t been forced to travel.

So thank you.  Thank you for loving us right where We are. Just as we are.

For accepting that so often I find myself in a place I’ve never wanted to be.

For noticing That sometimes we aren’t attending the same event.

For realizing that my table is often set with sorrow and longing in the presence of your feast of great joy.  Thank you for understanding some of the most joyful things are also the most painful.  These are tight, tight spaces.  Thank you for loving me in each of them.

On the days that my body gives way to grief – – thank you for coming into agreement with it.  Thank you for understanding that this – – the weeping, longing, pain filled days are actually. . .

Necessary.

Holy.

Healthy.

Beautiful.

Good.

Thanks for telling others that I’m strong and brave and amazing on these days . . .

Because so many label these days as bad and decide that I’m “not doing too good” because of them.

Thank you for listening lunches. Thank you for purposeful prayers.

Thank you for wine filled glasses and being patient enough to wait however long it takes for tears to turn to laughter.

Thank you for all that it takes to remind yourself that this will not expire. . .

That my beautiful roads will always have some permanent pot holes.

Thank you for saying her name – – for letting me know when circumstances and surroundings remind you of her.

Thank you for accepting that while grief is a permanent part of my life – – it doesn’t define me.

Thanks for seeing me whole when I’m broken. For believing I’ll rise when I’ve fallen. For knowing that my restoration is a masterpiece over time that stands still – – not an instant.

Thank you for letting me roast in savoring juices according to Gods holy recipe.  Thanks for not trying to put my grief in a microwave.  For my heart would be so very tough and unevenly tempered in a “nuked ” state.  Thanks for doing all you can to make sure I come out with a tender, juicy, evenly healed heart.

It’s a heart that will love you forever. A heart of flesh being filled with a new spirit. A grateful heart that loves you and thanks God for the flexible yet unwavering way that you love me.

Love,

The One Who Grieves Beside You

And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Rejoice with those who Rejoice; Mourn with those who Mourn. Romans 12:15