An Abyss of Grief: Tragedy in Connecticut and Mourning Together

Our hearts, as a nation in mourning, sank to new depths today. When innocent children and adults are sacrificed to the ills of our world, I’m sickened and saddened to an unfathomable degree.

Even in an idylic place, as Newton has been described, even in this haven, a town is plunged into mourning… and we grieve with them.

I can’t help but pause.

Pause and ask questions. Why did this happen? Who would do this? How did people miss how dangerous this person was? Is it possible to prevent a disturbed person from doing this again? How? Where is it safe?…

Pause and agree with texts and posts about hugging our kids a little more often, a little longer. Saying “I love you” often.

Pause and appreciate what (and who) we have in our lives, instead of complaining about what (and who) we don’t have.

Pause and prioritize. What really matters here? Did I have to get that upset over the bakery items I bought, left, and can’t go back for?

Pause and grieve with families like our own, who were going about their usual day when for them, the unimaginable happened. We grieve because we connect with humanity, knowing it can happen to any of us and sorry it had to happen to anyone at all.

Pause and pray. This is not a ritual. It’s recognizing that we are small and God is big enough to care for our pains. And God is great enough to bring light into a horrid mess, that is us.

In the weeks to come, many will pause to find answers and a truer picture of the details will emerge. To pause for personal reflection could also be a benefit.

Wise gun control laws are surely one part of the solution. But there’s another part, perhaps an even bigger part… our personal responsibility, not just on how guns are handled but how our relationships are handled.

Are we loving those who are close to us, knowing they are with us for a time and in our care, on loan from God? Are we loving the community around us — the people who happen into our lives, near and far — who because of our kindness can change the trajectory of their lives for the better.

Because grieving comes in waves, may we take the crests of our sadness and mold them into good.

And may the good people in and around Sandy Hook, and those however connected to them, know God’s peace in a time that is humanly impossible to bear.

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12 Days of Christmas Ornaments: A Tradition of Memories – Day 2

kid-made ornament
kid-made ornament

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me —

2 handmade bells

and a portrait to put on the tree.

So I must have looked at the mystery object so many years ago and wondered, “What in the world could that be?”

Son: “It’s a bell, mommy!”

Mom: “Well, of course it is!”

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if it was made years ago by the now 10-year-old or the 5-year-old? But I do remember thinking early on, “Maybe I should throw this one away?” As parents, we have to pick and choose, of course, lest we lose our families in a sea of creativity.

I’m so glad I didn’t throw the bell ornament away. This year it was hung low near my 10-year-old’s Converse and I couldn’t help but think, “The boy who now wears size 4.5 shoes, made this?”

I love these personal ornaments. And when my boys start wearing men’s size 9 shoes, I’ll love it even more.

Even ornaments from my own childhood make the cut for our tree. (Thank you for saving them, mom!)

One is an angel I made in my sewing class in 8th grade. I still sew today, so to see stitching from one of my first projects helps me be thankful for the teachers who shared their wisdom with me so I can pass on the blessings.

So on this second day of Christmas, remember to include handmade ornaments from you, your kids and your own childhood. Don’t throw them all out! Each creative masterpiece can take on new meaning through the years.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me – visit here tomorrow to see.

Ann's 8th-grade angel
Ann’s 8th-grade angel
make me a blessing
make me a blessing
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12 Days of Christmas Ornaments: A Tradition of Memories

Our 1st Christmas
Our 1st Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a portrait to put on the tree… actually, my true earthly love (aka: husband Mike) did not give it to me, but I gave it to us 14 years ago.

It was a Pooh and Piglet frame ornament with our newly married faces peeking out and glowing with joy. I love pigs, especially Piglet, and Mike is as faithful a friend as Pooh, and together we find Milne’s stories endearing, so it fit.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was creating a tradition of buying, making, or receiving ornaments that would commemorate special moments from the past year.

As my family and I were decking the tree this year, I found myself saying multiple times, “Ohhh, remember this…” And it became a fun time of telling stories, even if they did ignore me half the time, leaving me to reminisce and laugh alone.

The point is, almost every ornament had a piece of our past etched into it, triggering a small celebration of our lives.

So in the next 12 days, the 12 days leading up to Christmas, I hope to share with you, 12 types of ornaments you may want to include on your tree. And on this special 12/12/12 double-digit date that will not occur for another century, maybe a special tradition of memories will emerge, one that highlights the valuable things in life.

The faces of loved ones doing unique or funny things or simply smiling can trigger all kinds of joy.

The memory of how my kids used to look, reminds me how quickly they are growing. Sigh. And one distant day later, when the boys are no longer living under our roof, I will look back on pictures of today and envy our times together. Longer sigh. But at least the memory will be there and I can be thankful for every bit of it.

Whether it’s a child, a family member, a friend, or a loved one who has passed, placing their image on the tree each year is a way to keep them in our hearts and their stories alive.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me — visit here tomorrow to see.

1st Draft Done!

On November 30, 2012, I birthed a bouncing baby novel (50,221 word, 186 pages, middle grade/YA, thank you nanowrimo!) Though a joyous moment, I was tempted to tell the doctor to tie my tubes — I am not doing this 30-day thing again, (but then again, that’s how I felt last November 30. No really, 2.5 kids and a dog is enough.)

After writing for hours a day, all I wanted to do was read. So upon penning the proverbial “The End” I did not want to write another word, which is why I haven’t blogged since, and am simply enjoying a good old fashion library book (yes, they still exist and yes, I still borrow them). I haven’t even written our family’s Christmas update, yet!

I also keep getting story ideas; so I’m tempted to jump to the next project without polishing the last. Any seasoned writers out there who can help with my pseudo-schizophrenic writing problem? (Seriously, I can use tips here.) Until there’s a solution, I shall engage in both simultaneously.

I am super excited to have pushed this baby out, I believe it has great potential! But I’ll leave it be for a few weeks, the distance is good and I can bask in the sunlight of being “done” just a little longer. But then comes the growing pains, the hard work of editing and making each sentence “sing.” Maybe one day it will grow up to be a mature young book, by God’s grace, one that will make people laugh and bless them, too.