Taking Stock

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I have been unable to write, largely due to being so incredibly busy and no longer having long stretches of time and solitude in which to plumb the depths and try to put words to the blur.  And the other truth is that I no longer have the freedom to be as exposed.  The ravages of my heart are not only those of innocence, of losing a child.  And in pursuit of my profession as a clinical social worker, for now it is not to the benefit of those I seek to serve to be so transparent.

It is a loss and I honestly don’t know what to do about it and so, really, I have done nothing. I have remained quiet.  But words have come in fits and spurts along the way and I thought perhaps I’ll throw them out here and there as I can.  They’ll come in no particular order, without editing except the occasional necessary deletion.

The list below came over the course of a few years, spanning from Washington to Montana, prompted by Ann Voskamp’s Book, “One Thousand Gifts.”  I have heard quite a few say they tried reading this book but about a third of the way through, put it down.  I won’t lie, when I first began reading it, much sounded obvious, even trite, like any wisdom the world might have to offer.  If I recall, it wasn’t until the last third that the richness and worth came shining through.  So perhaps try it again or for the first time.  Persevere.  It is easy to take stock of the good and so I have done here.

Harder still is it to give thanks when all is wasting away.  You will not see here an overt thanking God for rot and loss, for cancer and separation and loss of love.  But these thanks sat amongst blood and decay and brutal violence against body and heart.  They were a grasping, a fight to not give way to the blackness that threatened to swallow, to suffocate and blind.  To give thanks in all things is an act of obedience enabled by the Spirit; a declaration that there is a good and sovereign God though all may look to the contrary.  It is bellowing in the rib cage that there is more than can be seen and that this is not the end.  I believed it then and I believe it now.

And when the hot tears come and the question hangs heavy yet again, “Why Lord?  Why?” am I not obligated to also ask after the “why” of so much good, of so much bounty?  If I am to question, let me question it all, let me take stock of every grain, bitter and sweat.  I do not suppose I will come to an answer that satisfies, but I believe my rage will quiet and I will bow in awe once again before a Holy God.

Thanks be to God:
1.  For the crystal nature of sugar
2. For tart fuchsia raspberries
3. For God’s conviction of my selfishness when on the phone w/ JN
4. For alone time at a coffee shop
5. For hard books to read
6. For time during Allistaire’s nap
7. For the first heard call of the robin – knowing winter is coming to a close
8. For the way a baby can entice anyone in their path – just be their little adorable existence
9. For my own bed at home
10. For a 60 degree day the first week of February
11. For warmth from the sun and simultaneous refreshing cool air
12. For Allistaire cocking her head to the side and running her hands over my hair
13. For Sten making it to mile marker 40 in Montana
14. For Solveig’s gentle love for Allistaire – stroking her cheek and head, asking her if she knows she loves her
15. For Solveig’s big beautiful eyes
16. For my 10 1/2 year old mattress that is still incredibly comfortable
17. For the hope that I can change because God says I can because He will do it
18. For sunny mornings at home with all three of us girls still in our jammies with unbrushed hair
19. For the elegant slender green trunk and branches of the Japanese maple with branches outstretched and upturned at the ends; tips turning to reddish orange and enladen with rain drops like heavy jewels on the hands of a thousand old ladies
20. For the sound of rain on the roof and pounding the metal chimney
21. For the electric purple of the azalea blooms defying the drear of the incessant rain
21. For the bright pinky white of the weeping pussy willow standing out against the dark rainy afternoon
22. For Solveig’s wide eyes as she explains that she is down stairs because she is taking a break from her Legos
23. Creation, not curse, now defines us as His image bearers
24. For the delight of making coffee with my lovely little French press that reminds me of a beaker in a laboratory
25. For the unexpected gift of a friend and ally and sister in Lysen
26. For the sweet fresh smell of newly cut grass
27. For the sound of a chain saw, reminding me of summer days growing up
28. For the satiated feeling that follows exertion
29. For the delicious feeling of warmth on my back from the late afternoon sun
30. For bright fresh newly unfurling leaves
31.  For tiny barely visible first snow flakes
32. For the cramping sense of hunger
33. For silhouetted trees blowing fiercely in the wind, the round aspen leaves shuddering
34.  For the taunting expectation of  hot tasty cheesy pizza
35.  For the crackling sensation of the first sip of cold Coke that makes your eyes water
36.  For Solveig’s joy for the first coke fizz
37.  For the transition from hunger to satiation
38.  For a warm brightly lit room when you’ve come in from the dark cold evening
39.  For a laptop that allows me to do so many things unhindered by place
40.  For the way music can slow down time and situation and swell the heart and lift the eyes
41.  For a handrail and a million individual blades of grass on land near and hills far coated in sparkling frost brilliance – coruscating in the sunlight
42.  For a breakfast where I am only responsible for myself
43.  For getting to drink hot coffee out of my beautiful blue mug – holding its warmth by the smooth rounded handle
44.  For the warm sun on my face and the front of my legs on a freezing bright morning
45.  For the pleasure of going to bed with clean smooth skin
46.  For windows that allow me to stay in the warmth protection but see out into the cold wild beauty
47.  For the way Solveig holds her hand over her mouth and squinches up her shoulders, her eyes all alight when she thinks she’s said something so funny
48. For a good nights sleep with many dreams
49.  For a day without the binding pain of a headache
50.  For a hot shower and the chance to start the day afresh
51.  For my husbands bright green eyes with the brighter still flecks of brown
52.  For the peace inducing sensation of filling your lungs full with air
53.  For glazed blueberry doughnuts from Town & Country
54.  For discovering something that will bring someone you love delight
55.  For the wavering shadows of trees on walls and furniture and legs
56.  For the warmth of sitting in the sun streaming in through the window
57.  For John who so carefully cut my hair into a lovely 80’s style today
58.  For the never-ceasing enjoyment of blue and green sitting side by side
59. For a long autumn weekend full of sun and cold
60.  For clouds heavy laden with gray-blue bellies of rain
61.  For sun laying across hills casting shadows wide
62.  For email that allows me to communicate quickly and directly
63.  The craziness of the immensity of clouds
64.  For brothers and sisters in Christ who you become bound to through pain and loss
65.  For wind that shakes and creaks this old building – that wind can do that
66.  For tangerine fire swirled by the sunset on cloud bellies
67. For being forced out into the cold night where there is fire smoke in the air and the first stars radiate white pure light
68.  For the first time seeing the good, the blessing in being between the already and the not yet – that I have so much blessing and joy right here in the middle – in this inbetween place. It is not only angst for the limbo that it is, but there is space here between what has happened and the days ahead. I will take my rest in this place
69.  For white of the half moon in the morning sky
70.  For a weekend well spent seeking The Lord and coming to see Him more
71.  For lilting southern accents
72.  For the pairing of the sadness of remembering and missing my grandma and the promise that I will see her again
73.  For phone conversations spoken in a foreign language that I don’t understand but someone else really does
74.  For newness of life, for transfiguration, for the hope that my life, my very heart can be the ugly-beautiful – a place where God is seen
75.  For stands of aspens
76.  For old neon signs
77.  For blinding light off the Gallatin river
78.  For the grace not to swear every other word
79.  For cameras that can capture beauty
80.  For barn wood
82.  For three silos in a row
83.  For first snow on the Bridgers and Spanish Peaks
84.  That so many glorious books are written in my native language. So much is thus accessible to me
85.  For hot soup
86.  For Allistaire learning to go potty
87. For dipping toast into soup
88. For honey on the finger and Allistaire’s declaration that that’s silly with the words of the song, “Oh how He loves us,” in the background – the utter truth of it – overwhelming!
89.  For Allistaire turning her head singing the song with the music
90.  For misty cloud descending on dark evergreened hill, fading yellow aspens in the foreground
91. For a few more minutes of quiet on a cloudy October morning
92.  For the quiet hum of the heaters warming the house
93.  For that sweet little insistent voice downstairs -alive. Alive!  Calling mommy 🙂
94.  For morning light slipping down between the hills illuminating the last yellows of fall
95.  For a couch in disarray from reading to Solveig before school
96.  For a grandma close who can take Solveig to school and Allistaire can sleep
97.  The sound of wind buffeting the car door and trees
98.  For the thinnest line of snow on the very top ridge of Sacajawea Peak
99.  For iPhones that allow instant love to be communicated
100.  For Sten’s giddiness in teaching me about credits and debits
101.  For somehow bring good out of all these flies in our house all the time
102.  For ice crystals on the window pane
103.  For plumes of wood smoke from chimneys
104.  For the muddled blues, grays and whites of a winter afternoon sky
105.  For a magpie sitting on the wheat colored horse in the snowy field
106.  For bird nests revealed in leafless trees
107.  For old fence rails
108.  For heated seats in my car
109.  For yarn and crochet hooks
110.  For Gregg and Anya – that God gave them to one another and two children as well
111.  For wood gathered in the valley all cozied up to the foothills of the snowy blue mountains
112.  For Iran-Contra Affair vans
113: For pink cheeks and nose on a cold 18 degree night out as a family watching ice climbing
114: For snow blown into the bottom curves of the little square window panes on the front door just like in a painting
115: For the unique, strange, painful bond of our cancer community
116: For the joy of making fresh tracks through snow and hearing the squeak underfoot
117: For bowels and intestines working properly
118: For the yellow stubble of grass sticking up from the field of white snow, echoed in the yellow center line of the road
119: For Sigor Ros music that stretches out space and time and thought and vision and smoothed the brow with it’s elongated tones, stretching out out to the horizons
120. For tall, lanky, naked trees moving in the wind, their slender upper branches swaying and twisting and yearning
121. For kind doctors who take the time to listen and explain
122. For cameras that can look down the esophagus and stomach etc
123. For 14 months of life since I last sat in this waiting area for Allistaire to get her Hickman out
124. For a transplant that is pure gift
125. For clinical trials at Fred Hutch
126. For knowing my husband will soon be by my side as we wait bone marrow results
127. For Seattle Children’s Hospital
128.  For “Seeing Through To God Places”

6 responses »

  1. Thank you so much for your sharing over these years… When our daughter was very ill, a friend told me the same as you wrote, “giving thanks is an act of obedience, enabled by the Spirit.” When it is so hard, it is just out of obedience that we trust Him! I just listened to a great song by Mercy Me, “Even If”. Perhaps it will encourage. Continuing to pray.

  2. I think of you often, Jai, and pray. A bright and cheerful color that Allistaire may have enjoyed brings your family to my thoughts, and I pray for all of you that she left behind. Thank you for sharing again.

  3. It is good to hear your voice. Even though we have never met, I worry about you and yours. I hold you in my heart and hope each day brings a moment of peace.

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