everyday inspiration

Faith

3 years later

Three years ago on December 30, my dad passed away.

It was completely unexpected and by far the hardest day of my life. I will never forget the phone call in the stairwell at work, the torturous flight to Ohio and the surreal days following. I can remember everything so clearly, yet it’s also so hazy at the same time.

I’ve written before about the all-consuming nature of grief and the only constant being change. I write today to offer the hope that things get better. That time really does heal wounds.

I know that sounds so cheesy, and you might not believe me. Here’s the thing – it’s true, but it is also still so hard. Three years later and it is still.so.hard.

There are still days where all I can think about is him, and I just want to lay in bed and cry. There are times when I want to call him so badly to tell him about something at work because I know how proud he would be. Or at weddings when I just wish he was there one more time dragging me on to the dance floor.

The memories are everywhere and there was a time when they would only make me sad. I would immediately push back tears and turn my attention to something else.

But something different has been happening lately – I’m learning to smile and rejoice in the memories instead. A month ago, I found this picture of us from New Year’s Eve 2008. I moved it in to our living room and now see it every day. The last two Christmases I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It would have made me too sad or upset every day, but this year it just makes me happy.

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Time does heal, but it never happens in your time. It was three years before I could do a tiny thing like moving a picture. I still struggle, especially through the holidays, but it gets better every day. I don’t think it will ever get “easy” per se, but I think over time there will be less tears and more smiles.

And more pictures.

xo xo


You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

My dear friend Erica Keller passed away this morning.

And it’s hard. It’s so hard. Death will always be hard.

But I am rejoicing and celebrating in the life she had because it was truly incredible. Erica was dealt a difficult hand early on, diagnosed with cancer at 14 months. Her parents were told she probably wouldn’t make it to age 2. Today, she passed away at 34 years old.

IMG_1217[Me + E at the Memphis Zoo]

She lived 30+ years longer than the doctors thought possible. But here’s the thing, she didn’t just live. She LIVED. Whether you knew her for a minute, a day or a year – she could put a smile on your face, and she had the most infectious laugh. I’m seriously laughing now just thinking about it, and about how many times we got into giggle fits because of it.

IMG_1218[Me + E during one of her annual summer visits]

She taught everyone around her not to take life for granted and to live life to its fullest. What’s there to be sad about? What’s there to complain about? To her, there wasn’t anything. She was a beaming ray of sunshine on even the cloudiest of days.

I’ve always known E was a special person, but looking back on it now, I truly think she was an angel on earth. Every single person who knew her is better because of it, and they would tell you that. She taught me so much and brought so much joy to my life throughout the years – with our summer sleepovers, endless dance parties and days wasted at Locomotion with Pops.

IMG_9960[Me, E + Husband during an annual summer visit]

We will all miss her so very much, and it still doesn’t make this easy, but it is so amazing to know she is in a better place. She has no more pain. She’s laughing. She’s running. She’s talking my dad’s ear off.

She’s our angel, looking down on us all.

xo xo

 

 


“Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn”

I’ve previously written about grief, and I’ve previously written about my newfound love of NPR. Here, the two collide.

It’s been about 8 months since my dad has passed away. This week there was something in the air. I was overly emotional about everything. I thought I might explode with tears and emotion at any second. My grief came barreling back in to my life, shocking me so much it nearly knocked me off my feet.

But then Friday, a few things happened. Sometimes you hear or see or read things that just grab you, speak to your soul – one of which lately has been Carry On, Warrior that I’ve blogged about multiple times, but Friday it was a segment on NPR.

The segment was called, “A Poet on Losing His Son: ‘Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn.'” You can listen to the full 7-minute segment here (or read the transcript). Below I share some of my favorite parts of the interview, words I can relate to so well.

I don’t like the whole language of healing, which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America, everyone begins talking about healing. But before you heal, you have to mourn. And I found that poetry doesn’t shield you from grief, but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it, seemed like something I could do. And it gave me something to do with my grief.

There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.

Excerpt from Gabriel – Edward Hirsch’s book

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief

I did not know I would struggle
Through a ragged underbrush
Without an upward path

Because there is no path
There is only a blunt rock
With a river to fall into

And Time with its medieval chambers
Time with its jagged edges
And blunt instruments

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

I’ve never been big into poetry, but I thought this was so beautiful and raw and emotional. You might think this would make me feel more grief-stricken, but it’s more so comforting. It’s always encouraging to hear others who seem to understand exactly what you’re feeling and can put it into words better than you can. I’m not alone in my emotion.

Friday continued with a few other encouraging things – a perfectly-timed devotional, an eye-opening talk with a friend and some absolutely wonderful news at the end of the day that made me cry tears of joy. After a painful week, God knew exactly what I needed to continue the healing process. He is so good and so faithful and so loving.

So, happy weekend friends. I still feel very reflective this rainy, Saturday morning, but I also feel just a little stronger.

Carry on, warrior
xo xo


Seven {detestable} Things

Our church is starting a new series called Seven Things. When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be about the seven deadly sins, something we’re all pretty much familiar with. However, I was incorrect. It’s about a passage in Proverbs that I’ve never read before or at least never paid much attention to –

        There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
        haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
  hands that shed innocent blood,
     a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
      a false witness who pours out lies and
a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

– Proverbs 6:16-19

From the start I was very intrigued by this series and now after week 1, even more so. Husband and I left the service talking about how great the message was and how convicted we were.

Week 1/Detestable Thing 1: Haughty Eyes – looking at people in need and judging them.

I will be the first to raise my hand and say I do this way too often. I really felt like this sermon was being preached to me. I judge people’s outfits or their hairstyle, I judge what someone says or what they do. I judge homeless people and people I work with. I know I shouldn’t, but it has become so commonplace and normal in society that it’s hardly even frowned upon.

But guess what – God doesn’t judge. He has seen me at my very worst and didn’t look at me with haughty eyes, but instead with compassion. This is what I like about this series, not only are we studying the behaviors we shouldn’t do, but we’re pairing them with the fruits of the spirit to show what we should do.

Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness – looking at people in need and helping meet the need.

God knows what he’s doing. He has placed all of us exactly where we need to be at every single moment in our life. He has not placed us where we are so that we can look at someone, judge them and think how much better we are than them. He has placed us there so we can take action and do something kind.

Here’s the thing. We often see people and think, what can I do? I don’t have the time or the money or know what to do so I just won’t do anything. BUT if we have the time to judge someone, we at least have the time to say a prayer. Say a prayer for God to bring someone into that person’s life who does have the resources to help, or say a prayer asking how you can help. There are people all around us who just need a little kindness and a little love instead of being looked down upon.

My prayer is that this week when we see someone and start to judge, instead we say a little prayer and see how we can meet a need.

* * *

I plan to share each week of this series on my blog. However, if you’re interested in attending the service with us to hear the message firsthand, please let me know. We would love for you to join us. You can learn more about The Grove Church here.

xo xo


Lent Update: Thankful + My Sweet Tooth

Lent is a little more than halfway over so I thought it was about time to give an update on my challenges. I’ve done poorly in one and very well in another … can you guess which is which??

Surprisingly, I’ve done poorly in something I thought would be so easy, too easy – taking a photo every day of something I’m thankful for. At first, it was a fun challenge, but now it’s gotten harder and I’m getting lazier. It’s not that I’m not thankful for so many things, but it’s often hard to capture that in a photo in the moment. I have my good days and my bad days of remembering. But overall it’s definitely served it’s purpose – reminding me to recognize the small things in my everyday life that I have to be thankful for. My last post showed days 5-13, below are days 14-24.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.24.11 PM
{Day 14: I’m thankful for Spring so I can wear peep-toe wedges and bright polish! #lent #40daychallenge#springishere #shoelove}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.24.48 PM{Day 15: I’m thankful for large Diet Coke Fridays – something I’m allowing myself only once a week these days! #lent #40daychallenge #dietcokeobsession #tgif}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.25.09 PM{Day 17: I’m so thankful for this gorgeous guy I get to call my husband {all day and every day, but specifically thinking about him today} ❤️ #lent #40daychallenge#mcm #aruba #honeymoon #throwback}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.25.26 PM{Day 19: I’m thankful for amazing opportunities to experience art at a world class museum in my little hometown. #lent #40daychallenge #modernism#crystalbridges #picasso #matisse}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.26.02 PM
{Day 22: I’m thankful for this beauty on our mini spring break getaway. #lent #40daychallenge #hotsprings#sunset #lakehamilton}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.26.17 PM{Day 23: I’m thankful for the little moments that make me happy. #lent #40daychallenge}

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.26.36 PM{Day 24: I’m thankful for a new month and a fresh beginning. #lent #40daychallenge}

As for this infamous sweet tooth – it’s killing me! So, when I first started this no desserts for Lent journey it was very hard. I was going through withdrawal symptoms daily. Then after about a week or so, they went away. I’d practically forgotten about desserts and how amazing they taste. I sighed with relief at how easy the rest of Lent was going to be. Then there’s been the last week or so and it.has.been.torture! The purpose of fasting for Lent is to rely on God instead of these other things. Well, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve prayed to God to take away my craving and focused on Him instead. I’ve definitely lived out the purpose, maybe more so than other years, but even so I’m here to tell ya – nothing is going to stop me on Easter morning from eating ice cream for breakfast.

xo xo 


I’m doing okay.

Remember that post I wrote about two months ago? Where I led with, “You want real, here’s real: I’m not okay.” Well, it’s two months later and I’m doing okay.

Guess what, friends, time works. Time heals. Not all, but it heals. It’s a Friday night. I’m laying in bed writing this after a great evening at home – taking Olli on a walk, cooking dinner barefoot in the kitchen (which Mom thinks means I’m pregnant … but I’m not) and relaxing with some favorite shows.

I’m trying so hard to be thankful every day for things in my life. I’m trying so hard to work through my grief. I’m trying so hard to praise God in all circumstances. It’s still hard, but I’ve definitely made progress.

I’m not here to sugar coat it and tell you it’s not all gone. Lord knows it’s not. I still feel a little hollow inside. I still feel sadder than I use to, lonelier than I use to, more reflective than I use to.

There’s still bad days. Days when all I want to do is cry. But those days are getting fewer and farther between. The perplexing part though is, I’m not sure if that’s what I want. I’m not sure if I want to be okay. It makes it feel more real and it makes it feel like I’m forgetting him. So some days I hold tight to my grief, letting it bury me because I don’t want it to go away.

I need to learn how to hold on to it and let it go at the same time. That’s where I am. Caught in the divide. I can see the light though. I can see the Lord pulling me in the right direction. He’s been so evident lately, putting specific people in my life at certain times to talk about certain things. I just love that. Love that I have someone looking out for me like that.

It’s getting better, friends, and I have all of you to thank as well for your continual love.

As Henry David Thoreau says, “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

xo xo


My Lenten #40DayChallenge

This year for Lent I’m doing things a little different. Well, I’m still doing some familiar things, like fasting from all sweets. (But this time I’m not going to let Sunday be a cheat day. So straight 45 days without sweets. Eek!)

But I’m also doing something different. I’m taking the time to be intentional about things I’m thankful for. I will share a photo every day on my instagram account @milledavis of my #40daychallenge. You can follow along there or on my blog. I won’t update on my blog every day, but will share in batches several days worth of photos.

This is a great exercise for anyone, to be conscious every day of the many things you have to be thankful for, but for me specifically in this time of grief. I pray that through this season God will open my eyes and remind me of all of his wonderful blessings. I pray I will reflect during this time on what’s truly important. I pray I will be reinvigorated with His truth and the passion to share the Gospel.

I hope you’ll follow me in this journey and share things you’re thankful for too!
xoxo

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{Day 1: I’m thankful for the freedom to practice my religion during this sacred season.}

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 6.40.05 PM{Day 2: I’m thankful for fun coworkers and belated mardi gras celebrations.}