My daughter punked me today. Robin Williams would be proud.

sillyada

My daughter punked me today, and I believe the comedian that the world just lost would be proud.

But before we get to her stunt, I would like to say:

Depression

Health failings

Addiction

Loneliness

Fear

Despair

Suicide

They don’t have one face.  They don’t have the face of only the homeless man or woman living under the bridge.

They don’t have the face of only the man or woman living in an institution of white walls.

They don’t have the face of only the misfit teenager that everyone belittles.

Darkness has no barriers.  It has no popularity barriers.  It has no economic barriers.  It has no gender barriers.  It has no age barriers.

Darkness resides in this world in utterly devastating ways.

I remember clearly our church in all of its surprise and devastation when an utterly beautiful mom of a devoted husband and gorgeous children took her own life in her garage one day.

It will forever haunt me seeing my classmate walk after school to wrestling, only to wake up the following day to reports that he took his own life that very night of the last day that I watched him walk away, locking eyes and sharing a smile.

And I will, until the day I die, never forget the beautiful friend of my precious brother that ended his battle too young-watching someone grow before your eyes from kid to teenager to adult attending friends weddings.  And then death.  Too tragic.  Too young.

Yes, darkness.  Darkness my friends takes over.  It takes over minds, hearts, thoughts.  It takes over lives, marriages, jobs.

Darkness is very real in this world and you can’t buy your way into happiness.

How is it then that it can be battled because Christians and those that don’t believe in God both lose to this evil thing?

For that, I have no answer.  Families that have lost their loved ones to such evil often cry out with the same questions.  How is it that someone that is loved so much cannot think that they can pull themselves up and out of this battle and survive?

They can.  And yet it must seem at the time when they lose the battle that they don’t see any light.  Any tunnel.  Any hope.

They are probably more tired than words.

And their mind battles demons that no one knows.

Often we are so envious of the beautiful lady—yet we don’t know why she tries so hard.

We are so envious of the perfect body—yet we don’t know why she works so hard.

We are so envious of the bank account of our neighbor’s—but we don’t know at what cost to his own family.

We are so envious of the funniest—but we don’t know why they laugh so much.

We are so envious of the smartest—but we don’t know why they know so much.

The majority of the times, it is a natural drive and self confidence that keeps people going and doing and being the way that they are.

But there are those times when those that we envy are who they are to hide what they are battling…

Darkness invades.

I often wonder if my son died if I would be overcome with darkness.  A darkness too deep that I would not be able to recover.  And I think that I wouldn’t.  But I don’t know.

What do I know then?  I do know that in all of the despair and the darkness that is battled, there is a light, Jesus Christ.

Will everyone that believes overcome darkness?  Perhaps on this side of life, the answer is no.  But there is an eternal light through Jesus that means on the other side of life, the answer is yes.

The thing is—Jesus does not want anyone before his or her time.  And that, unfortunately, is what suicide is.  It is leaving this darkness before your time.  Leaving your family before your time.  And leaving your work before your time.  It is a finality to life that wasn’t yet meant to end.

It’s a silent subject and oh so sad.

It’s not discussed much in church.  Suicide.  It’s only delicately reported in the news.  Suicide.  And movies often make only the most extreme outcast the one most likely to commit it.  Suicide.

But this darkness does not only attack those on the outskirts of what we label society (and, truly, who are we to label society’s outskirts)…It resides in the biggest of mansions or the smallest of homes.

And it must be discussed.  Because it is a battle.  A dark and dangerous and lonely battle that needs to be fought.  For the person fighting it.  For the family living it.  And for the rest of the world that may enter into it.

But in any and all cases, those that lose their battle to this darkness need to also be remembered in their light.

For they, too, lived a life.  And, Robin Williams, he lived a life that brought a lot of joy to millions around the world.

How we all wish we could have brought him the same joy.

But, alas, as still as time may seem for those closest to him mourning this devastating loss, the world turns.  And now it’s the world’s turn to speak out and battle and fight for those like Robin Williams.  Those that put on a happy face.  A face that is the facade to the darkness that clouds the hidden mind.

I pray for you if you are in this battle.  Find help.  And realize that you can overcome.  Bring your battle to light and allow God to be your northern star and those around you to be your mates.  Your life is not done.  Your time has not come.  Your finality of death is not meant for now.  God is not done with you yet!

Phillipians 1:6 (NLT) reads,

“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus”.

And, now, today, as Robin Williams brought laughter to the world, my daughter, very unaware of the death of Genie, brought great laughter to me as she punked my very being.

“Hey, Mom!  I got your toothbrush ready for you!”

Now, normally, I would be a great skeptic.  But my daughter has displayed tremendous amounts of great help in the past few weeks.  Perhaps she has known that Mommy needed it in this foreign land of Poland as we have lived without Daddy nearby or running water every evening for over a month.  Perhaps she knew I have needed her extra grace, as moving to a foreign country with 3 children and 2 of them 2 and under requires much more coffee and much more sunshine than a usual day.

Perhaps she did it this morning, got my toothbrush ready, because she knew I was up at the crack of dawn doing the MOST DISGUSTING THING EVER…giving 3 dogs flea baths.

Yes, I said and admitted it.  Giving our dogs flea baths.  Disgusting fleas.  Disgusting dogs.  Disgusting job.

And here I was, you will have to picture it because I will not offer cyberspace a photo of it…in my bathing suit (remember I only had a baby 7 months earlier ;)), and a shower cap, latex gloves, and my husband’s flip flops—because I was not about to go out in my cute shoes and ruin them…

Perhaps, yes, today of all days, as we prepared the kids to go to Polish and French lessons, perhaps today my daughter was just being kind.

And there in the bathroom were our toothbrushes.  Her dad’s and mine.  Laid out.  On the counter.  With toothpaste on them and even the tube of toothpaste lying haphazardly on the sink next to them.

Nothing, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  Except the fact that she did prepare our toothbrushes.

But I trusted my daughter and said in my mind, “I shall appreciate this kind gesture…”

And I began to brush my teeth.

Bubbles upon bubbles upon bubbles sudsed out of my mouth as the taste of toothpaste was overtaken by the underlying taste of liquid white soap.

Yes…My daughter is so proud.  She punked me.  And it did make me laugh.

For in this world, in this short, short world in this speck of existence that we call life, we need all the laughter we can get…

Even if it comes with the taste of toothpaste.

RIP, Robin Williams.  You will be missed.

News articles related to his death:

CNN

NY Times

Fox News

BBC

Huff Post

The Day that Santa Died…

This is going to go in a completely different direction than you may imagine…You see, Santa was not really Santa but a homeless man that we served for years at our soup kitchen, Holy Start, in the city of Poznan, Poland.  We all called him Santa.  He loved it.

And this is what he looked like:

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His name was Wojtek.

And I loved him.

Not because he was perfect.  In fact, there were times he was outright obnoxious.  And there were a couple times where we packed his food for him and told him he had to leave.  Not hungry.  But leave the same.  Because when you are trying to serve many and there are some that make commotions, this is just the way it works.

And he would leave…But the next week he would always be back.  Sober.  In time for breakfast.  And happy to be back amongst us.

You see, Wojtek was like many, many, many that we serve in Poland.

Homeless.  Alcoholics.  Lost.  And alone.

And as difficult as they may sometimes be—they could also be beautiful.

Yes.  Wojtek made a choice.  And that choice was alcohol.  And then alcohol made a mark.  And Wojtek had a hard time overcoming.

And no matter what offers of help we made.  No matter how much prayer.  No matter how much was shared about how much God loves and believes in him.  Wojtek let alcohol do the talking…do the thinking…do the walking in his life.

And one day—one day far too soon—we lost him.

He went to sleep near the lake in the summer, when the weather was fine, and never woke up.

And from the moment I heard that at the soup kitchen, my heart broke.

It broke because I knew that Wojtek was so special.

I knew that Wojtek had so much he could offer.

I knew that God made Wojtek unlike any other out there…And, yet, Wojtek never beat the beast.

He never kicked the habit.

He was never victorious.  He was the constant slave.  And his owner, Alcohol, beat him down and won.  He took his life.

Wojtek died without giving God the chance to help him change his life.

And it broke my heart.

I still think of Wojtek and I love looking at his picture-doesn’t his face tell a million tales?  Don’t his eyes hide beauty?  Don’t you love the man you see?

And yet I still look with sadness.

Because Wojtek is no more.

Wojtek is not the first person we’ve lost to the harsh realities of addiction or homelessness.  And he won’t be last.

But he will always remain a sad reminder to me that deep in the inner man of who he, Wojtek, is-God had created someone for so much more.

I am not sure if you have a family member or perhaps a friend that battles with addictions.  If so, I know with all that you are you love them.  And you care.

God does too.

I pray for yours.  May they not die like Santa.  May they come to see the demon that wants to enslave, get the help they need, and beat that sucker down.

May victory come in morning.

God bless you, friends!

***

Update:  I know that it is not only the homeless that have problems with addictions.  But what I do know about addictions is that IF the person fighting this demon does not want to get help, there is little anyone can do but hold onto hope and PRAY!

We all saw this past summer as someone rich and famous passed away because he could not overcome his own demons.  Cory Monteith…So, friends, let us never say, “Oh, that will never happen to me!”  Because addiction has no socioeconomic barrier.  An addiction is an addiction.  And all need to be addressed, receive help, and by the grace of God conquered.

In Poland we offer help to all that come to us through two different outside programs that we partner with:  Monar, Teen Challenge.  There is also Alcoholics Anonymous and our very own New Life Center.  All centers and programs are there for the benefit of the individuals—to help them receive hope and freedom.  And in Kalisz, Poland, there is also counseling through our foundation for the entire family.  Addiction does not just impact the addict—it impacts the entire family, too.

So, if you have a loved one—or if you are that person—fight hard, hold onto hope, offer help (or receive it if you are the one in need of help), and continue to pray hard.  May your belief, although very difficult at times, be unwavering.

Again…God bless, friends!  I know addiction is the battle for someone’s life…And that person is greatly loved by God and by you.

My Nose Ring was NOT a Good Idea…And we got a puppy.

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(c. photo Hel Ka Photography)

Have you ever tried to compensate for something missing in your life?  For example, when Richard and I were struggling through infertility, I got a rabbit. This rabbit ruled the roost.  Literally.  I let this rabbit, named Sylvester, run wild.  It had free reign of our home…Of our balcony…Of our couch cushions—which it gnawed to smithereens…Of our electrical cords—which in turn had their revenge on Sylvester-shocking him 4 feet off the ground (Don’t worry—no bunny was hurt in that revenge.  Well, maybe temporarily).  This rabbit was my compensation for no children. When Adelyne arrived in our lives, rainbows abounded, the sun sang to us with its rays, birds chirped melodious tunes.  Life was so complete.  Life was so beautiful.  Life was richer than we had ever imagined. And Richard and I were completely content.  For nearly 5 glorious years of Adelyne’s life, we had more joy in our souls and family than imaginable. We had no idea, however, that life could get grander than Adelyne…That is, until we experienced Sam. When I first thought I was pregnant, neither my husband nor I believed it.  But after I saw two little pink stripes—I knew!  My husband took the rest of the day to let it sink in.  But, by the end of the day, I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers and our daughter dancing around the room at the news of her impending sibling. Let me say, the entire reason we were given our second baby is because I had a daughter that for two entire years of her life PRAYED faithfully for this sibling. Notice I said my daughter prayed.  I did not.  You see, Adelyne was miraculous enough.  I never thought God would grant us a second.  So I became content with my family and did not ask God for more.  And, despite my lack of faith, my daughter said, “I want to pray for a brother!”  And so, from the age of 3, she prayed.  Nightly.  Faithfully.  Beautifully.  Truly, I admired her great faith-even though I had none of my own. And, sure enough, 2 years after she started faithfully praying, God gave us our 2nd most amazing miracle.  Our Baby Sam. When I was pregnant with Adelyne I was in great shape.  I had no pain.  I had no complications.  The girl hung out in my belly for 42 weeks.  I went bike riding pregnant, rode alligator boats, swam with Manta Rays, was stung by a jelly fish, jumped off a mountain in Austria (jumped off a mountain before I knew I was 6 weeks pregnant) and off a 30-foot platform too (again-before I knew I was 6 weeks pregnant).  And through all of Adelyne’s belly adventures, I had the most gloriously easy pregnancy known to man. When my pain began with Sam, I was astonished.  But the pain was unmistakable.  And then the contractions began.  The bleeding was daily.  Through it all, the baby kept growing.  The doctors became confident that we were making it—although painfully—through the first trimester and would make it to the finish line. So when I woke up that morning—full of energy, without the need to run to the bathroom, and not starving my guts out—I knew.  I knew my baby that my daughter had prayed for years—My baby that I had fought so painfully hard for—My baby was gone. I went to the doctor the next day and received the beautiful picture—and the tragic news.  My baby was curled up with beautiful toes and a hand reaching to the sky.  But there was no heartbeat. I had never before in my life experienced such heart wrenching and hollow pain.  I curled up inside of myself.  I would lie in a dark room for hours at a time.  And I wondered if the pain would ever go away. And I told my husband to let me be.  I needed to grieve.  And he did.  He allowed me my grief. And my daughter—what could I do for her?  Her very being was crushed.  She cried for months after.  We lost our baby in the summer.  But one wintery and snowy day when I was picking her up from school, she started crying as I was putting her in the car. “Why, Momma?  Why doesn’t God give me a brother?” And she cried.  And she cried.  And she cried. I couldn’t even start the car.  The two of us sat in the car, and, despite the snow outside, we sat there and cried.  And we allowed our pain to reveal itself deeply in the car, in the parking lot, of her school. And that’s okay.  Because pain needs to be felt.  Pain needs to be shared.  Pain needs to be relieved. But what could I do? I couldn’t give Adelyne what she wanted most—and so I did something for her. I got her a puppy. You know, to replace her sibling.

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Does it really? No.  But that is what many of us do in life. We try to replace our pain with something else. For some, it’s alcohol.  For others, it’s eating.  For many men, it’s pornography.  For too many, it’s seeking love from the wrong places.  Others it’s shopping.  The list goes on. Compensation for pain is very real.  And it’s what I did.  With a puppy. As we headed into our second year of our loss, and our pain lessened, and our lives went on…I did two things to compensate for what my heart truly desired: First, I went car shopping—looking at a sporty little convertible (no—not a good idea for a freezing country like Poland).  We even took it on test drives.  At least I had fun, eh?! And secondly…I got a nose ring. Yep, an honest to goodness nose ring. Now, let me tell you…I am a HUGE fan of nose rings.  They.Are.Awesome…in my opinion.  And, I finally felt like—Hey!  This is something I can do.  This is a way that I can have a bit of control over my life—I can pierce my nose. I know.  I know.  But, again, like I said—we all try to compensate somehow…in some way…for something we have no control over.  And a nose ring was my way. Let me also share—getting your nose pierced in Poland is the MOST EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE! The lady, in the little city next to our little village, said, “Lie back!”  And then she started the SLOW process of the Stone Age’s way of inserting a nose ring—she started screwing it through my nose. My sister-in-law, here in the States, has a nose ring.  I just found out that there is a FAR faster way to get said ring—and it’s called a nose ring gun.  Yep.  Didn’t have that.  Had the hammer and chisel way to go about getting what I could control. Talk about PAINFUL control, eh?!  Yep.  But, in the end, I had what I had control over—a nose ring!  And I loved it.  Or at least I thought I loved it. How, then?  How was your nose ring “snot” a good idea? Well—life is great at throwing us the unexpected. Just as my husband and I were preparing to fly a social worker out from Germany to Poland for a home visit so that we could start the process of adoption, we saw the most glorious two lines!  A positive pregnancy test…It is now eleven years into our marriage. This time, however, my heart smiled—but in smaller measure.  This time, however, we kept it a secret.  This time, however, we approached with great fear.  Not great rejoicing. And…all of our worst nightmares began to reveal themselves.  Pain.  Bleeding.  Cramping. And, so we did what many of us also do in life—we threw the “Hail Mary” pass.  We called up our families and said, “Please!  We’re pregnant and it’s not going well. PLEASE pray for us!” Friends, let me share now…Yes, sometimes touchdowns are scored on the Hail Mary pass—but God would ALWAYS prefer us to come immediately before his throne.  Don’t wait to seek His face.  Come first—and bring along your prayer warriors. Our families…they immediately responded to our pleas.  Prayer became intercessory around the clock for us, around the world, on behalf of our baby. But, despite the prayers—despite the support—despite it all…Fear became present in my very being.  In my core.  In my soul. The pain did not subside.  The cramping did not subside.  The bleeding did not subside. I did what any normal human would do—I cried.  A lot. And that’s when I realized that my nose ring was definitely “snot” a good idea. Here I was fighting for the life of my baby…crying…and snotting.  And so something had to go. I had to let go of the ONE thing that I had control over—my nose ring. I had no control over my body. I had no control over my baby. But I had control over the 1 thing that I got to exercise control—my nose ring. Isn’t it funny how in life we sometimes have to relinquish the one thing we have control over? And that’s how I went from awesomely cool momma with a nose ring (okay, that’s my opinion of myself) to fighting momma with a hole in my nose. I’ve learned a lot in my 37, going on 38, years of my life, and I’d like to share them with you. We have many desires in life.  Sometimes, we are freely granted the desires of our hearts.  Other times, we lose the desires of our hearts.  And, on occasion, we go through hell to get the desires of our hearts. But compensation for desires never fulfills your very heart.  Your very soul.  Your very being.  And, so, Friends, I leave you with this… When you are in pain—cry. When you are afraid—seek help. When you need to be alone—be. When you need a friend—tell them. When you need a hug—receive. But always, always, always go about your life with God. Compensation will never fill the void.  But God will always be there.

***

I have found an article that I think beautifully states how we need to be very aware of how we speak to someone that has lost a child.  Please take the time to read “Why Miscarriage Matters When You are Pro-Life”.  It compares how Pro-Lifers react to abortion and how some of the very same people react to miscarriage.  It gently shares that many have the mentality, “one is a tragedy the other is a blessing”.

Both are losses.  Enjoy the read:

http://thelewisnote.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-miscarriage-matters-if-youre-pro.html?m=1