Saturday, July 31, 2010

Busy Busy

The past couple of weeks have been very busy. Last weekend, I went to New Jersey with my friend Carissa to spend time with some of our other college friends Megan, Sarah and Shelly. I've been debating putting up pictures here, as this was always a place for pictures of Lydia or having to do with Lydia. But I love taking pictures and I love sharing my pictures. My friend Olivia told me that I should most definitely put them up here because having fun with people you love is part of healing. you go. A little bit of healing for me.

Waiting for Shelly and baby Addyson to arrive on the ferry,
the girls took a picture with a...pirate?

We went to a tea house and Sarah and Shelly were feeling
photogenic with their teapots.

Sweet baby Addyson was very well behaved during tea.

After tea, we took a stroll through Cape May.

Carissa playing with Josiah.

Molly Molly Molly.

This woman is one awesome mama.

We went down the street to Megan's parent's house, which is also the most wonderful and amazing Swan Bay Folk Art Center. If you're ever in
South Jersey, you should check it out!

There are so many wonderful things to see. There are sheep, colonial art lessons of various kinds (including felting with wool from the sheep!), basket making and more. Megan's dad also has an old time garage and gas station, complete with old cars whose awesomeness I cannot begin to explain, and hats to dress up with so you fit in with the cars.

The weekend was lovely. It was hard at times and I won't say I didn't cry, but it was moving forward. I know I can't hide forever, and I'm so thankful for such sweet friends who are so careful with me.

This weekend, my sister Allison and her husband Josiah moved into a new house in Philly. We spent the past couple days helping them move, unpack, assemble, and make their house into a home. I didn't take any pictures because I was too exhausted at the end of each day, but it is a beautiful house.

All that said, two packed weekends in a row, I'm ready to not leave my house for the next several days. Or weeks. Possibly months.

I hope you'll all keep my sister-in-law Liz in your prayers tomorrow. Her triathlon is tomorrow. Good luck, Liz! I know you'll do wonderfully and I can't wait to hear how it all goes!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I remember my affliction
and my wandering, the
wormwood and
Surely my soul
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The LORD's
indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every
Great is Your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion,"
says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in

I won't lie. I've been choking out the last half of those verses these days. I say choking because this past month, I've felt more in the grip of my afflictions than I have yet. It's like hands around my throat, all the time, strangling me into submission...into letting the grief swallow me up. It would be so easy to just let it. To stop fighting. To stop getting up every morning. To stop going out. To stop loving people. To stop caring what happens to anyone but myself. To shut the world that moves on without my girl and to live alone here in my house where I can make time stand still. It would be so much easier.

But just as I feel myself ready to give up the struggle and let the hands of grief stop my breath, something in me starts to scream and I'm able to choke out the words,

His lovingkindnesses never cease.
Therefore I have hope in Him.

Every time I say it, I weep. I gasp and cry and the hands back away from my throat. I sob as the truth sets in. It doesn't make it better now. But it keeps me going.

So, I keep going. I will keep going.

For the LORD will not
reject forever,
For if He causes grief,
Then he will have compassion
According to His abundant

Monday, July 19, 2010


Last week, we were asked to stop over at CHS by a some students who said they had something they wanted to show us. When we arrived, they walked us down to what was previously my classroom. A small group of students were gathered outside the door. They told us that they wanted to have something in the school that was a memory of Lydia.

This is what they made.

The kids at this school are the reason I loved to teach. They are the reason I would ever want to teach again. And they're the reason we decided to have a fund in Lydia's name at the school, so that there can be more opportunity for more wonderful people to be a part of such a wonderful community. If you haven't already, I hope you'll consider buying a Lydia Pin and donate to the fund at CHS.

All of you beautiful, wonderful people who helped make this incredible gift - thank you. Thank you for loving our girl and wanting her to be remembered in the school. Thank you for loving us and reminding us that she's in her true home now. We love and are so thankful for you all.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ezra 3:11-13

Several weeks ago, I was having a series of dark days in a row. In a desperate moment, as I was sitting talking with my friend Lisa, I uttered the words, "I wonder if I'll ever be happy again." It was an honest enough thing to say to define how I was feeling. I continued to muse out loud that I supposed whether or not I would be happy had everything to do with how I went about defining happiness.

Wise woman/Bible scholar that she is, Lisa recommended that I attempt doing a word study. I scoffed at her idea. Yes, let me do a word study, I though. I can already tell you what I'll find out. I'm supposed to look for my joy and contentment in Christ. If I try to find it in anything else I will be disappointed. There. I'm a good Christian girl and I already know what's there to be found.

She smiled and said that it's not always about what you find. It's about what you learn in the process.

The next day, I picked up my Bible, sat down at my computer with at the ready. I thought for a second about what word to start with. Now, I don't actually know how to do an official word study, so I was just making things up as I went along. Since my initial question was regarding happiness, I started there. As I suspected, there wasn't much that was helpful to me there. I tried joy/rejoicing next. I found several interesting things. The one that most caught me was Ezra 3:11-13.

Now, other than a little here and there during high school and college, I haven't really had any interaction with Ezra. Even if I had, I probably wouldn't have responded to these verses in the same way then as I did when I read them a couple weeks ago.

To give a little context (and again, I'm no Bible scholar so forgive me if any of this is woefully inaccurate), the Israelites had been slaves in a foreign land for many years. Finally, as some of the Israelites had gotten into the good graces of the king, he allowed them to return to Israel after many years of captivity to begin to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple, both of which had been destroyed.

In these verses, the people had just laid the first stones for the new temple.

Ezra 3:11-13

They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD saying, “For He is good, for HIs lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they raised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Now, this didn't particularly have anything to do with the joy I am attempting to find in life right now, but it offered a different perspective. This thought has rolled around in my head but it is so succinctly put here that I haven't been able to keep this verse out of my head since I read it.

Grief and joy. They go together.

It is right and good that there should have been shouts of rejoicing from the people as the new foundation was built for the temple. Part of you would think that there should only be shouts of joy and that there is really no cause for the cries of sorrow that accompany it. But these men who were weeping at the former glory of the temple were the ones that saw it destroyed. They were lead away from a broken city, a ruined house of God into slavery not knowing when or if they would ever return. They remembered how things had been, and were grieved that they were not that way still.

In the midst of their weeping, shouts of joy were being raised at the same time, albeit by different voices. These were the shouts of men who knew that there would be glory again in Jerusalem - that God would live in the temple again. They were the shouts of possibility and praise for a new beginning.

The cries of sorrow for what has been lost and the shouts of joy for the new work being done were indistinguishable. The one is irrevocably linked to the other.

In every new thing that happens without Lydia here, there is potential for sorrow. It's a sorrow so deep that some days, it stops me in my tracks, wishing the earth would open up and swallow me whole. It's a sorrow that remembers the hope of what was, the joy of what has been taken away, and forces out of me a wild cry of pain for what has been lost.

But, there is in every new thing the potential for joy as well. In every new opportunity, in every new day, in every new life there is an opportunity to allow a shout of joy to rise up in me.

There isn't one without the other anymore, and that's a wonderful and terrible thing. With great sorrow comes the possibility for abounding joy. The deep, expansive places that sorrow has left empty, joy would fill and flood over and over again.

But that's a choice I have to make. I didn't ask for this pain, but I have a choice of what to do with it now that it is part of me.

I have to be the man who covered his face and wept for the temple he remembered from his youth and I have to be the man dancing in the street, proclaiming God's lovingkindness for me. Granted, it makes for one emotionally unstable looking person, but I think it's right. There is no deep sorrow unless there has been a loss of great joy. There is no great joy unless you have known deep sorrow. Angie Smith calls it, "The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy."

It doesn't entirely answer my initial question, but as always, it gives perspective. I will be happy again, but it won't be the kind of happy that I've known before. It won't be the easy, carefree, happy-go-lucky type of happiness. It's something deeper that comes from knowing how quickly we can lose the things we love the most. It isn't the kind of knowledge I'd have wished for, but I have it now and I can't give it back.

Instead, I want to learn to live my life in remembrance of these things. I know that because I have suffered, I have now an even greater capacity to be joyful and to love and to celebrate. Always, I will wish that my sweet girl was here to share these things with me and always I will be thankful that her life taught me these things. Though there is the possibility for endless emptiness in a life without her here, there is also the possibility for a life of endless fullness because she was here at all.

For my part, I would rather honor the life that God gave her by living a life of joy. I don't know exactly what that means or how I'm going to do it, but I want to try.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Lydia Pin

Speaking of awesome people doing awesome things...

My dear friend Megan, when she heard about Liz doing the triathlon, decided she wanted to use her talents to do something to help raise money for Lydia's fund at CHS too. Link over to her blog and read about her new project - The Lydia Pin.

Thanks, Megan. Love you, friend.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Running the Race

This is my sister-in-law, Liz. To say that she is awesome would be an understatement. Shortly after Lydia's death, Liz decided that she wanted to do something that would honor the life of our girl and bring glory to God. This week, she started a blog to chronicle that journey and to ask for support in whatever way you choose to give it. The beginning of her story can be found here at her new blog.

I hope that you'll check it out.

I love you, Liz.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Lydia's headstone was placed at the cemetery today. I've been anticipating this, expecting to feel a sense of relief at the stone's arrival - relief that the last piece was in place, that everything was complete.

I don't feel relieved. I feel wretched.

It's permanent now. She won't come back to me. I know that it was permanent before, but there's something now that marks the permanence.

My fingers traced the letters of her name, her birth and death days. Finally they traced the words we had engraved there - Safe in His arms.

Now, as I sit quietly attempting to cope again with the ache that has taken up permanent residence in me, the same words echo softly but steadily in my heart, as they did on the day we buried her.

Death is swallowed up in victory.