It feels like a lot has been going on in our lives lately.  Disappointment and grief over losing the future we had envisioned has cut us open.  Ryan says, “If we don’t have optimism what do we have?” And so we press forth with optimism.  Praying to God for it and choosing to believe that good things lie ahead in the scary uncertainties of tomorrows.  We face the “what ifs” and “hows” head on.  What if I have to father these 3 young kids myself? What if the next scan shows cancer coming back?  How do we press ahead when in 3 months (the interval of my MRI scans) life could be upheaved?  How do we even live engaged in optimism and life when this very life is exhausting at best?  What is “new normal”? 

It’s been a hot mess weeping over the nearly certain loss of my job.  Its been days of “How do we live through this?”.  Its been trying to keep crap contained (literally!!! Potty training 2- 2.5 year olds is not for the faint of heart.)

And then Ryan comes broken to me after watching the news (see here) and shares the heartache of the refugees in the States being separated from their children.  And the video of kids wailing in separation for their parents.  I am struck by the callousness of it all.  I am struck by my husband’s tender brokenness over it all. So I read more and find out Iraqi’s risk deportation from the States to almost certain death, too!  And I can’t ignore what I am learning.  And as I’ve been in a process of becoming more human, I cannot shut it out.  I can not just say that’s awful and keep traipsing through my life. I am compelled to ask: “what can I do!?” Practically, I do not know what I can do. So I pray.  I pray for these families, for wisdom to prevail in the crisis of refugees trying to enter the States and the American policies that seem heartless.  And I wonder again, “what can I do?”. 

I survey my abilities, my scope of influence and I decide, well at the very least I have a voice.  I can speak!  So here I speak thanks for my blessed country.  I speak awareness to a situation I really know little about, but that will not let me ignore it.

The other thing I can do is teach.  I have 3 little world changers in my home, I can teach my children.  I can teach them to always remember that people are people not statistics, not policy, not just numbers.  People are people!  I can teach my children to love others, especially the down-cast, the broken, the under-priveledged.  I can teach my children to love with their God-given love, remembering how very much God has shown His love to them.  I can teach my children that they have a voice, that they need to stand up for others especially when others cannot stand up for themselves.  I can teach my children that they CAN make a difference!  Oh yes, a small difference IS a difference.  I can teach my children that big changes are the culmination of many small changes.  I can teach my children that they can change their world and so can I!!!

As my career is stripped from me this is my new full time job: to teach my children! 

Oh my children, I can’t just sit back and let my world sweep over me.  I need to engage my world!  Where I intersect with my world I need to love boldly, I need to see people as beautiful, I need to speak up for Life and Love and Hope and Light! This is my job!  I am to be the voice and hands and feet of Jesus!  Oh kids, this is what I desire to teach you as your mom.  If I teach you this, God has fulfilled his purpose for me as a mom.  As I lose my career I still have the most awesome, demanding, and fulfilling job.  I have a purpose unparalleled.*  Oh thank God for making me the mother of 3 beautiful, precious, world changing children!  

To close I will share something I wrote after stepping into the controversy over MAiD being implemented in palliative facilities and the (expected but still difficult and biting) backlash that ensued.  I poured my heart into speaking out for something I hold dear and valuable: upholding the beauty and preciousness of end of life.  I spoke out only because I couldn’t stay quiet.  This issue matters deeply to me.  I was discouraged by the negative responses I received and the lack of any positive impact my efforts appeared to make. I truly felt foolish for even trying to make a difference; but in the end I learned valuable lessons and hope my steps are an example for my children. This is what I wrote:

April 14, 2018

I feel myself a fool for having stepped out into a conversation where I was inadequately versed in ALL the facets of this issue.  I am a person who strives to be fully equipped before stepping into any controversy, or for that matter any issue at all where I am seeking to be viewed respectfully (and don’t I always desire to be viewed respectfully?). I readily admit that my family is my first priority and given my challenged energy, I did not gather as extensive and diverse amounts of information about the issue as I would have liked to.  I like to be well read and try my best to fully see issues from all sides. And beyond this i do not think we’ll on my feet. I am a contemplative soul who takes her time to develop opinion and insight in a coherent manner.
But in the end I have to tell my perfectionists self— would I ever have felt I had adequate practice, skill or knowledge to back my opinions which are deeply seated in my heart and speak publicly about them?  Would I ever be prepared enough so as to not feel foolish after a radio interview, foolish for not being able to clearly and concisely share my views as well as I would have liked to have been able to?
In the end I figure Better to be a fool and try my best with what I have been given to add my voice to the conversation than to not try to be heard at all.  
To my children, even if I failed to make a difference in public policy, even if I failed to have been clearly understood.  Even if: at least I tried and that is all I ask of you. Try.  Try to understand your heart so you can share it with others and make their life experiences richer.  Try to make a positive impact on your community, city and world. Try. And even if you fail, be proud because you have tried.  Be emboldened to love others deeply so you can see the aches of our world which need a voice and most of all which need our love.  And in the end, I am grateful that in failure and foolishness we have a God who chooses not to see me as failure or fool. He chooses to see me as precious daughter.
So children, live boldly. And writing this I am encouraged, despite my discouragement, to continue living boldly.  Oh how grateful I am to call myself your mother.  Though I am the one charged with raising you well, indeed you all shape me dramatically for the better.

I speak to myself as I write: we need to be people who are MOVED!  Moved with compassion, love, hope, and (thank my husband for always reminding me of this one) optimism.  May my family be a family that is moved; may we keep leaning in to humanity, letting her teach us and shape us!  My Jesus loves people, oh that I may grow to love people like my Jesus does!     

*In grieving the loss of my career (see upcoming post on grief) I was crying with Ryan and I asked, “what is my purpose?”.  Life felt so upheaved and in the uncertainties of my diagnosis I was floundering, trying to grasp onto some sort of purpose in the mess.  “Your purpose is to love your kids.” He replied.  So simple, so profound.  In my grief and faults I was blind to it.  What a wonderful purpose.