[From my weekly newsletter, April 1, 2016.]
I’ve started this email in my head a few dozen times. Each time I try, I get stuck and I’m unable to find the words to say or even know what I need to say.
I wanted to send this email to you yesterday morning at 6AM, like I have for the past year and a half, but I couldn’t. It has been an inexplicably tough few weeks.
As you may have seen on my Facebook business page on Wednesday, it has been a sad few weeks. 2016 has proven to be heavy emotionally and hard for so many people I know – people who’ve been in my life since childhood, new friends I’ve only known a short time, and people I’ve only met a few times. Family members have passed on, tragic events have happened, children and adults battling cancer have lost the fight, and illnesses progress or have struck new people.
It may be reality – a part of the cycle of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier and some of these tragedies are beyond words or belief. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel okay.
While there is part of me that knows that this is part of getting older – being in my 40s means that I will know more people who may have health issues, aging parents, families who have had inexplicable loss, and more – this year goes down in the books. It has been a minimum of one significant event in someone’s life that I know every week since the year began.
Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions, and there are years that answer.” I have had this quote held close to my heart as a true favorite, as it is truth.
I thought for sure that this year – 2016 – would be the year that answered so many questions.
Now, I’m finding that with all of these finite answers and sad events, there are more questions. Maybe this year is a mix. Answers that ask more questions or questions that got answered in inexplicable ways.
I am in a place of deep sadness and wonder as I see so much sorrow in the eyes and hearts of people I deeply care about – from my closest friends to one-time acquaintances. My heart is so heavy.
Since the beginning of the year, nearly twenty people have left this life, expectedly or unexpectedly, to join God and his army of angels in heaven. While I haven’t known everyone who has passed on to the life of true peace, my heart has been breaking over and over as I witness so many people being sad and missing people who were so dear to them. Someone has moved on to the peace of eternal life each week or there has been a tragic event.
It is a reminder that we don’t know how much time we have in this life and it’s all too numbing to be faced with that reminder on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis.
Each time I try to explain how I’m feeling or express empathy, the words don’t come naturally now. There is no lexicon that is adequate.
Even as I get to this paragraph, I want to stop typing, but my heart and fingers keep saying GO. I have to be honest with myself though. As someone who has always written and kept a journal, there is healing in this process, so thank you for holding this space with me for a few minutes.
I hope you’ll read on. It’s not easy to write this.
Two weeks ago, my lifelong friends Lindsay McKinnon, and her husband Tom, lost everything in a house fire, including her two precious boys Patrick and Logan. I remember we tried to give birth to our sons (her son Logan, and my son Atlee) on the same day, but my induced delivery didn’t have that in mind. These boys were belly buddies. And while they only met a couple of times, there was something so special about having our children together, even if only for a few days.
I have been so filled with sorrow that I can’t put it here with any words that will bring the proper honor and beauty that these two sweet angels deserve. Yet, these boys were such a light and beautiful extension of their amazing parents, that I do find myself smiling when I picture their beautiful blue eyes, giggles, smart and creative conversations and energy. These two were sparkling. They were fun, joyful, and all boy. Loves.
During the fire, their dear friends the Montoyas were visiting with their two little girls. Lindsay was able to pull the Montoya’s girls out of the house, but after multiple attempts by the adults to reach the boys, the fire took the house and their mother Christy was burned trying to save Patrick and Logan. She is one strong lady and I would be honored to meet her some day. She has already fought through surgeries to help with her burns on her hands, arms, and back and has a long road ahead of her. She is a hair stylist and depends on her hands.
I have wrestled with whether I should give the details here today. I’ve hit delete a few times. There was a feeling that I needed to keep it quiet for their privacy. Yet, this story has been shared nationwide and the outpouring of love and support is a constant reminder that the core of the human condition is still LOVE. I really believe that the more we encircle around people who need us, whether it’s these two families or others, we can bring light and love in the darkest of times.
When we all rise to the occasion to put ourselves into loving and meaningful service to others, I believe the vibration of this world and the way the Holy Spirit works within us can change us and the lives of those we are connecting with to bring healing and hope.
I want to ask you to consider something that may make you uncomfortable.
For some of you, this may be a no-brainer, but for many, I find that this concept can be mysterious, unclear, and awkward.
Today, I’m not going to be “light” on my faith-based focus. I am vigilantly asking for your prayers for my friends, Lindsay and Tom McKinnon and the Montoya family, as these families grieve, heal, and reach for new hope. I’m also asking you to lift up your own prayer intentions.
Most of you know that I’m a follower of Christ, but I am asking all of you, no matter your faith practice, to please pause and lift up these beautiful souls, their healing, their hearts – whatever comes to you.
My friends will need our prayers, love and support for years to come, so please consider keeping them close to your heart forever.
I’m also asking you to consider becoming prayer warriors for the needs of your own communities: your family, your friends, your neighbors, your faith communities, those in need you don’t know, and the needs of the world. Remember yourself too.
Imagine if the world took time to be present in the healing process of others. I mean, really present. The world would be a different and more loving place of compassion and care.
We need more prayer warriors. The world needs more prayer warriors.
The word prayer has sadly been given a taboo feeling by many, but it really is personal. It’s what you make it. It can be meditation, living, being present and asking and lifting up what you need and the needs of others.
Prayers don’t have to be thee, thy, thou formal. The way you live and behave, those are prayers. How you think and pause to reflect on someone or something, those are prayers. How you journal, those are prayers. How you share yourself with the world and take action, that is a prayer. Attending your place of worship is a form of communal prayer. Meditation is prayer. Singing is prayer. Dancing is prayer. Exercising is prayer.
With God at the center of our hearts and our intentions placed before Him, everything can become a form of prayer.
There is no right or wrong way to pray.
Right now is not the time for me to be with my friends in person. While it is hard to be away when I just want to sit with them, hug them, and be present, I know that my call will come some time when they are ready for me to come, and I will be there for them.
Until then, I know that my best way to serve them is by meeting them in prayer.
It is easier to know that our prayers have a force behind them, and I often find that force is in the collective group of people praying the same intention. Prayer warriors asking God for the same thing. There is deep power in it. There is deep love in it.
I realize that what I’m asking some of you to do is not easy. I just thank you for reading this far if you have.
I hope that you will consider joining me as a prayer warrior, not just for my friends, but for so many who need us.
I’m not sure when I’ll be back with the follow-up round from our 5-Week Personal Branding Challenge. I’m so sorry for those of you who have been following me diligently and counting on it. My hope is that if the momentum is important to you, that previous videos and blogs will help you for the time being.
Right now, my own YES feels like being in a zone of going with the flow with my family, being in a supportive role with friends, and loving from afar. It’s about doing what’s coming to me at the moment rather than following a rigorous plan or schedule. Some days I want to pray for a few hours and skip writing. Other days I cry and just feel. Then there are days like today when I’m trying to pull up my big girl boot straps even with the tears streaming down my face as I write this.
Part of our personal branding is being honest about our feelings and not boxing them up.
Part of what makes us connected is the truth about our humanity.
In a world that wants us to “fake it ‘til we become it” I’m calling B.S. on that sentiment today. That wouldn’t work, because it would be asking you and I to avoid being present with our feelings. To avoid grief. To not feel. To ditch who we are.
I stand in my truth when I share with you that I believe that part of our personal branding is to be real and honest with who we are in each moment and be present, and stop putting up airs or behavior that meets others’ expectations.
As my friend Sarah says, “We have an audience of ONE.” God.
While I wish I could hit a reset or rewind button and change things for all of these people I care about, I know that’s never going to be possible.
Imagine if we could hit stop, rewind, and redo. Unfortunately, life isn’t a CD player. It’s more like a record.
Life keeps going. New circles are made. In this case, even when we want it to stop, life keeps spinning. Sometimes we get closer to the center – the core of heartbreaking news, experience or loss of a person or persons we love. Getting closer to that truth – to the center of all of the spinning – doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it’s sometimes that much more raw and uncomfortably real. Often unbearable.
Sometimes life skips and repeats, repeats, repeats emotions and questions – like a broken record – that are hard to process and answer. Isn’t it true that sometimes we just want (and need) the needle to be lifted so that we don’t have to feel or keep going in circles around these heartbreaking situations or get closer to the truth? I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that I wish that I could hit that rewind button and do it differently for my friends and so many people, not just in the rush of sorrow during this first part of 2016, but for years past as well.
Yet our lives keep turning.
New circles form.
Hope will come from the scratches, the skips and the turns that come closer to the center of this record of our lives and loved ones. While suffering and all of these scratches and skips in our lives are so hard to understand and experience on earth, I know there is light and hope on the other side of these dark moments. Out of darkness, there will be a bright, bright light of hope and wonder.
I hope that you will make extra time to hug your loved ones, call those who matter to you (don’t text, call). Make time to intentionally think about and pray for others. Ask for what you need.
The list is never too long and the request never too big.
Praying you’ll be a prayer warrior for the McKinnons and Montoyas, so many others who need us, and for your own needs and those of the world as well.
Sending light, love and peace to each of you this week. Thank you.