Chase Fireflies


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Community

The following is an article I submitted for consideration in a MOPS International Writing Contest. The topic was community. Since there is little to zero chance that the ditty will find its way to print, I’ve decided to post it here. At least this way, my MOPS peeps will see the huge significance of the little things they did for us when I was down for the count.

So once again, girls, thank you. You mean the world to me.

Much Love,
Kristin

As with any tragic event, you remember it like it was yesterday. Where you were, what you were doing, who you were with. For me, I had just crawled under my comforter. It had been a busy day chasing kids, training for a 5K, and organizing the basement. My husband and I had stayed up late to watch the Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team compete. And I was beat. I think it was 1:10 in the morning.

As my head rested against the pillow, waves of pain engulfed me. Something was wrong, very wrong. I sat up and laid back down, groaning and writhing in horror. My head started spinning, my vision blurred, and my feet crumbled under me. The pain was paralyzing. “I think it’s the baby, “I cried. “I need to get the hospital.”

Hours later, following IV’s, blood tests, and ultrasounds, our worst fears were confirmed. We had lost our baby. By medical definition, it was an ectopic pregnancy rupture: excessive blood loss, major surgery, and extensive recovery. My surgeon told me it would take a year to feel normal again, but I should be thankful to be alive.

To add to the physical challenges, the heartbreak of losing a child loomed over me. Sure, we had two healthy children already. Sure, the baby was just 7 weeks old. Sure, the pregnancy was unexpected. But it was still our child, my child. On one hand I grieved the loss of a life. On the other hand, I felt shame for all those tears shed when others have had it so much worse.

The story of this loss would have ended there, had it not been for a community who rallied around us. Our families supported us, our church encouraged us, and our friends loved on us to the umpteenth degree. One such group of friends was my MOPS group at the North Way Christian Community.

Hours after the emergency surgery, emails flooded my inbox, prayers supported us, and blog comments encouraged me. A team of moms pitched in to supply meals. Not for one week, not for two, but for weeks on end, until I was able to cook for my family again.

Not only that, but they went grocery shopping for us, they cleaned our home, they stuffed our mailbox with cards of encouragement, and they watched my kids so that I could nap. DVD’s were purchased to relieve the boredom of bed rest, as were bouquets of balloons, flowers, books, magazines, and coffee to make me feel normal again.

But the practical needs were not the only needs addressed. These women allowed me grieving room; time to talk and process the whirlwind of emotions. They didn’t criticize my tears or tell me to just get over it. I have never been more vulnerable. But in this low place, I found strength that I didn’t know I had, because I wasn’t alone.

Many of the women shared their own stories with me: stories of life and loss, despair and hope, and a God who never left them all the while. It was almost as if my vulnerability ushered in theirs. And the end result? Well, that’s still in the works.

When I walked into my MOPS meeting this past Wednesday morning, I greeted friends. There was Kathleen and Kristin and Nancy and Michelle. There were layers of conversations overlapping each other. About marathon training and how cute that scarf looks on you and the next step of the adoption process.

We spoke about food additives and separation anxiety and the dinner that completely bombed. We laughed about our appearance when we leave the house most days – Cheerios glued to our shoulders, wiped noses on our jeans, and stickers affixed to our rears. We also got choked up when we heard the news that caused another mom’s tears. Cause what’s important to her is important to us.

I’ve heard it said that a community is a group of people who often share an environment, as well as common interests, goals, and needs. As moms, our goals range from potty training to healthy (and edible) meal preparation to raising responsible children. We understand sleep deprivation and the need for time alone with our spouse. We desire to fulfill our own purpose in this life, as we support our children to find theirs.

But a healthy community is more than just sharing commonalities. It’s knowing and being known. It’s finding practical ways to meet needs, whether those needs are verbalized or not. It’s becoming vulnerable and risking the loss of a perfect illusion. It’s telling our stories and hearing the stories of others. It’s finding strength in weakness and hope in despair. It’s championing those around you and celebrating what makes them smile.

I am honored to be a part of the MOPS organization, particularly the community at North Way. The story of our loss is one we’ll continue to tell. Not because of the loss in particular, but because of the gain. We gained community. It’s a story that hasn’t been completed yet. Because moms gave of themselves, we will give of ourselves. We will love because we have been loved. And then there will be another story told. And another and another.


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Only 8

My friend Leah at leahhogsed.blogspot.com tagged me to complete these lists of “Only 8.” So here goes:

8 Things I am Looking Forward to:

1. Running in a 5 K
2. Seeing my family for my brother’s graduation
3. Playing outside this spring/summer with the kids
4. My next date with Paul
5. Arrival of babies in our family
6. Painting our main floor
7. Living on less
8. Seeing God work in the lives of our students

8 Things I Did Yesterday:

1. Taught for Children’s Church
2. Made coffee
3. Took my weekly nap
4. Had a night out with Paul
5. Went to youth group
6. Talked, listened
7. Kissed our kids
8. Ate a yummy lunch with family (Angie, you’re one of us)

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:

1. Adopt
2. Visit my brother in France next year
3. Go white water rafting this summer in Ohiopyle (anyone?)
4. Get published
5. Work on my masters
6. Be more organized
7. Be more present
8. Get out of debt

8 Shows I Enjoy:

1. Lost
2. Red Sox Baseball
3. College Basketball
4. The Today Show
5. Mr. Rogers
6. The Office
7. Jeopardy
8. How to Boil Water

8 People I Tag:

1. Ashley at jonashleyandkayden.blogspot.com
2. Brandy at chosenandadoptedchildofaking.blogspot.com
3. Abby at abby-peffer.blogspot.com
4. Emily at strobelshappenings.blogspot.com
5. Emily at flattspace.blogspot.com
6. Ashley at alwaysrememberthemoments.blogspot.com
7. Angie at livelaughlovelots.blogspot.com
8. Kim at insidemyhead-kimosabescraps.blogspot.com

Thanks, Leah. And let me know if any of you guys complete this! Love ya’ll!


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Rock Climbing Woman (Little Monkey)

I am not a fan of heights. Or falling. And I have toothpicks for arms.
Which means that I am the perfect candidate for rock climbing.
But I figured I’d give climbing a second chance on Friday night at Climb North. Laurie and Chris were great teachers and never even laughed at me, though they really should have. Laurie is mega-pro Climbing Woman, who gets there and nonchalantly starts sprinting up the wall. And Chris is Spiderman, with some kinda insane wing-span. We kept finding him on the ceiling or in some random crevice hanging upside down.
And then there’s me, who started freaking a foot off the ground. But Laurie told me that I didn’t even have to climb high, I could just climb across, which was fabulous news. So I gingerly inched sideways the whole night, finding my confidence on tiny footholds and trying to make my toothpicks work for me.
By the end, I was bouldering across corners and attempting to hang upside down. The picture at the top of the post is pure illusion though. Don’t be fooled. To my credit, Laurie did give me the greatest compliment of the night, calling me “a little monkey,” to my beaming delight. To receive such accolades from Climbing Woman was worth every little armpit strain. (Are there muscles in your armpits anyway?)
So I’ll definitely go back and maybe even belay next time. We’re hoping to get a group together on occasional Friday nights (only $10 for a few hrs) and I’m hoping to get Paul to come. Paul wasn’t about to leave the Pens game for climbing, but he did graciously volunteer to watch the kiddos so that I could be there. Now that was sacrifice. What a sweetheart. It’s a good thing Pens won.
This is Climbing Woman.
This is Spidey.


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What I Learned From 40 Days

So my coffee (and drink) fast has ended. Whoohooooooooo! And I’m still tickin’ to boot! I truly envisioned this being the end of me. Coffee is like my deal, my total deal. But I did it and here is what I learned:

1. Coffee is my evil little crutch. I drink coffee when I’m tired, stressed, unnerved, excited, you name it. I can find any and all excuses to have a cup. It makes me deliriously happy. I used to think that I NEEDED it. Now, it is no longer my necessity. It is my luxury. Without the caffeine fix, I was forced to rely on God. I ended up praying like crazy. I praised more. I got frustrated less. God trumps a cup of joe any day.

2. The value of a dollar. Since I value coffee and how it gives me insane amounts of energy, I justify its cost all over the place. Just a $1.64 here. Just $6.73/lb there. I estimated that I saved $61.20 in 40 days from the fast altogether (including teas, milk, juice.) That’s a lot of money chuggin’ down my tubes. Now that’s $61.20 to provide clean water around the world.

3. Fasting is not to be a public thing (Matthew 6:16-18). I hope you know that I wouldn’t have gone public with this had I not been spotlighting the cause of Blood Water Mission. It is a private thing between God and an individual for the purpose of growing closer to Jesus. Any attention drawn to myself makes the fast for naught. The point is to take our eyes off of ourselves (our comforts, our world, etc.) and look straight into the eyes of Christ.

4. God came near. Gosh, did He love on me. His Word kept leaping off the page like it never had before. In quietness and submission, He spoke. I heard his voice in my heart, telling me to do all sorts of strange things. Write this person. Go pick up that elderly man on the side of the road. Read what I have to say about Justice Praise. Pursue this dream. Bury this sin.

5. The 40 days never ends. Fasting is not just a one time deal. It’s living out humility, denial, and sacrifice to serve others. Isaiah 58 says that fasting loosens chains of injustice, sets the oppressed free, breaks yokes of slavery, provides for the poor, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked. Fasting is not turning your back on your own flesh and blood. There is power in a fast that I can’t even begin to understand.

6. God cracks me up. A day after committing to the fast, Einstein Brothers’ Bagels sent out a coupon for free coffees every Friday. Two days after, I received a belated birthday card from a dear friend in Korea. In it? A Starbucks card. Three days after, my sister in law told me she had also gotten me a coffee related gift for my birthday. Come on now, really? I was like bombarded with free coffees left and right. Not to mention our son kept chanting, “Sah buck Sah buck” every time we drove on by.

So, the 40 days ended with a bang on Easter morning. And I savored every bit of my tall Starbucks regula with extra cream and extra sugar (to the applause of our kids in the backseat.) The fast wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. It was worth it to know that Jesus really can come near, to even me, without a coffee cup in my hand.