Filtered Sunshine

One of the things that has been on my mind lately is how blessed our family is in our relationships. Our extended families, our friends, our church, our community, our colleagues ... everyone that has given us food, time, cards, money, love ... we are so humbled. And so grateful.

I turned 38 years old today. Thanks to the advent of Facebook, I usually feel more "popular" on my birthday than on any other day of the year. This year, as with every other, my inbox was filled up with birthday notifications before I even woke up. In fact, it was the pings of Facebook Messenger that woke me up from my sleep-in. (I'm not complaining!)

But the difference this year--rather than wondering if those people thought of me even once since Facebook reminded them of last year's birthday, most of those messages of love were from people who have contacted me recently and frequently. I know how sincere they are, that you really have been thinking of me, praying for me, and sending positive thoughts my way.

Knowing that is amazing.

No storm lasts forever.

I was at my 20-year high school reunion this past weekend. It was a casual event, but really perfect because it meant that those that could come, did. More wanted to come than could. But for those that came, we had a great time catching up on where we are now. I really enjoyed meeting spouses and babies, seeing people who influenced my teen years, and being amazed by the way each of us is living our lives--making careers, and raising families, and making the world a kinder, better place. My classmates? They're awesome.

And, thanks to all that modern social media technology, I think most everyone knew about Levi. A few mentioned him, and I am so grateful. Because there were definitely tough moments watching little guys run around and wishing my own little guy was among them. But it was also great getting to play with them--especially Boyd, the least shy 16-month-old I have ever met. He and I were buds pretty quick, and I hope I gave his pregnant mama a little break.

Love from old friends, whether in person or online, has been more encouraging than I can say.

Delightful--having tea with a lifetime BFF I haven't seen in years. (Hi, Tegan!) How comforting that it was at her parents, a home I knew well while growing up.

Delightful--having tea with a lifetime BFF I haven't seen in years. (Hi, Tegan!) How comforting that it was at her parents, a home I knew well while growing up.

The day Levi left us, dark clouds covered the sun. They have been there ever since, but some days, they seem to thin out a little. The love of friends is like sunshine trying to break through those clouds, and sometimes, the sheer intensity of sunshine wins, filters through and warms me up a little.

I loved all the wishes for a happy birthday. The clouds seemed a little thinner today. My heart was still heavy, and the clouds still covered the sun, but I knew it was up there.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I can't enjoy what is happening around me more. Sometimes I feel guilty when I do enjoy it enough that I actually don't think of Levi for a few minutes. I think this is all normal.

In the first case, I tell myself that this will pass in time. No storm lasts forever.

In the second case, I tell myself that it's okay to live. Moving forward is what we are designed to do. I will never forget him, but it's okay to find pleasure and joy in other things in this life. In this life, there is a great deal of joy to find.

And so your love and your messages are sunshine to me. It's still filtered through sadness, but I am so glad you give it.  With enough sunshine, these clouds will dissipate eventually.

Beauty Will Rise

Words and music by Steven Curtis Chapman (album: Beauty Will Rise)

It was the day the world went wrong
I screamed til my voice was gone
And watched through the tears as everything
Came crashing down

Slowly panic turns to pain
As we awake to what remains
And sift through the ashes
That are left behind

But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams
We have this hope

Out of these ashes beauty will rise
And we will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
Out of these ashes beauty will rise
For we know joy is coming in the morning
In the morning, beauty will rise

So take another breath for now
And let the tears come washing down
And if you can't believe, I will believe for you

Cause I have seen the signs of spring
Just watch and see

Out of these ashes beauty will rise
And we will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
Out of these ashes beauty will rise
For we know joy is coming in the morning
In the morning

I can hear it in the distance
And it's not too far away
It's the music and the laughter
Of a wedding and a feast
I can almost feel the hand of God
Reaching for my face to wipe the tears away
You say it's time to make everything new
Make it all new

This is our hope
This is a promise
This is our hope
This is a promise

It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that's been made
Out of the ashes, out of the ashes

It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that He's made
Out of the ashes, out of the ashes

Out of these ashes
Beauty will rise
And we will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
Out of this darkness
New light will shine
And we'll know the joy that's coming in the morning
In the morning
Beauty will rise

Oh, beauty will rise
Oh, oh, oh, beauty will rise
Oh, oh, oh, beauty will rise
Oh, oh, oh, beauty will rise