Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I've only got moments to write.  Only moments left of 2013, the year which will, from here and now until forever, be remembered as the year without my son.

Except tonight, the last day of this full and busy and peaceful and crazy and heart wrenching year without my son, I'm actually not without him at all.

He's in the adjoining hotel room playing UNO.

Nap time, right now, these few stolen moments in which I can write.  Playing chaperone to those little people that desperately need sleep, especially after the craziness of yesterday, when we picked their big brother up from his school and drove up and down through winding roads, cows on each side. There was a long hike deep into a mountain cave, and then shows and rides and magical train rides in a make-believe night of shining lights.  Yes, nap time was needed.

And here I lie on the first queen bed, hearing the deep, even breathing of two, and futilely hoping the toddler will join them.  Last night, I remember, I was lying in this same bed.  Lying here, listening.

Last night, I could hear my oldest son's even breathing, too.  A new, almost man-like breathe of sound sleep, intermingled with the sleep-sounds of all the people I love the most strewn about the beds and floor of a single hotel room.

It was heavenly.

2013, you've come full circle.  You, the year without my son, will tonight give birth to the year that will (hopefully) bring my son home.  I'm ready for you, 2014.  For whatever it is you hold.  God lead the way.

Monday, December 16, 2013


There is beauty in having a big family.

Beauty that I never knew was possible before, when I was caught up in how many children I thought I wanted, or how much money I thought I needed, or how many fashionable clothes hung on hangers in my closet, each outfit with a pair of shoes to match.

Yes, there is beauty.  Unimaginable beauty in having no spare time to do what I want to do, no spare money to buy what I want to buy, and almost no idea of what I even would buy if I was given the chance because I'm so totally wrapped up in living for other people instead of myself.

I have always been a selfish person.

I've done what I wanted to do.
I haven't done what I haven't felt like doing.
I've said what I wanted to say.
I've gone where I wanted to go, and bought what I wanted to buy.

I've lived my life how I felt like living it, and not for other people.

Yes, I've been selfish.  It's easy when you have no children, or only a few children, or when your children aren't with you for much of the time.  When there's time to think about the things you want, which are so often the things that you really don't need; when there are hours and hours of your day that are not devoted to meeting the needs and desires of precious little people that are with you constantly and always seem to want your attention.

I am rarely given the chance to be selfish anymore.

And this is beautiful.

Don't look down on me because I have a big family.

I am blessed more abundantly than anyone I know.

Don't pity me because I'm overrun night and day by people who need me, or because I rarely have a few moments off.

I have grown more from serving my children than I ever could have grown from "me-time".

Don't judge me poorly because I've chosen to give up my freedom for these children, some broken, some healing, and some totally na├»ve about the pains of the world.

There is beauty in giving up your dreams, your desires, your freedom, your fancy vacations, your extra spending money, whatever it may be, and in living your life daily for others who depend on you.

There is beauty in waking up one day and realizing that their dreams and desires have become your dreams and desires, too.

And then it hits you. 
You're not nearly as selfish as you used to be.


I have a beautiful life.


photography by Andrew Bowser