Living in the broken 

“Help me to trust You, Father. I do believe you think thoughts of compassion for me and You also know what is best.

The uncertainty is real, and necessary. Here I am in it. Help me to turn to You in trust instead of giving in to fear and anxiety. My history of avoiding pain and discomfort has been and is being rewritten, redeemed. I am now someone who leans in, does hard things, doesn’t shy away.”

And this is a miracle. A long standing pattern of avoiding the lament is being broken, maybe even has been broken. I have witnessed a miracle.

In the death of my precious ones I no longer even have the option of avoiding the pain and uncomfortable. I suppose I could still hide and anesthetize, but the options hold no appeal. The only thing that used to appeal was the escape, the getaway, the break, the rescue, the diversion, the opt out. In this place I have been given the ability to see God’s faithfulness in the pain, not just when I get out the other side. I see there is change, and I am in awe.

And I hate the cost. This loss to realize that my poor choices, the soul “junk food” I would settle for will not sustain me here. I need bread and meat from heaven to survive in this wilderness.
More grace. My loving Heavenly Father once again not only knows what I need but provides it generously, lavishly even. The muscles He’s been working on for years, the discipline of “flabby” results when I chose the fluff the world has to offer instead of the life giving sustenance that is available.

“Maybe I had finally come to the place where I could see myself, my brokenness, my fear of brokenness, with the same tender compassion with which Jesus sees all of me.” Broken Way pg 204

I see fruit. I see change. What a gift.

Out from behind the camera

I am so very thankful for all the everyday moments I have captured over the years. It is good to have snapshots of life in different stages and places. My journals are kind of like that too, snapshots of my heart in different stages and places. I value both. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in capturing the moments, recording them so I can remember or retell, that I forget to live them. To look up and just be in them. 

The last few weeks I left my journal unopened, sometimes I didn’t even know where it was. I was getting so wrapped up in a desire not to miss anything that I was missing just being. Every emotion and experience was put through a grid of how I could communicate it and what I was learning. And it was too much. I was falling under a cloak of performance and expectation put on me by no one but myself. 

So I paused. And I was. And I thought a little less and just did. I’m glad. As I find myself back to writing on the lined pages of that spiral bound journal it is again refreshing or at least familiar and not forced. I’m thankful for the break and also thankful for the option to express myself there too. 


Those first few weeks I had an almost tangible sense of being covered and sheltered. I was so thankful since I didn’t have the energy or the words to figure out what I needed. The measure of God’s grace was palpable. 

Since those days I’ve been aware that I have more “normal”, every day sorts of struggles- pride, getting out of bed, making a meal, cleaning up a mess, taking my thoughts captive. I have moments of thinking that it doesn’t seem fair that I have to struggle with sin or the wiles of the enemy while I’m bearing the weight of grief. Really?! 

So I went down that road with the Lord. And here’s where I ended up. 

I am only as unprotected as I choose to be. My refuge and strength are always available. I only need to ask. To notice. To choose. 

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” -Psalm 59:16-17

And if my heart’s best place is depending on God, and I believe it is, then needing to ask is just what my heart requires to keep me in my right place and God in His. 

And I see that it is His grace to me in this as well. The asking. The seeing the answers. The sensing His presence. 

Those first days and weeks were unique. I am glad to not be there. But I do cherish the sweetness of being held so close. No words. Just presence. Breathing. Being. 

I choose to go there now. My heart needs it and it is ever waiting for me because my Heavenly Father not only knows what I need, but has all the power to provide it. 

Real food

 I remember in the first days when my body seemed to hate me and my heart raced incessantly and my stomach hated food even though I needed it. And then, the dinner where the food tasted divine and my stomach received it. I felt so revived. Caribou steak and sauteed green beans. I can almost taste them now.
Then for the first time in 2 1/2 months I dig into God’s Word, really dig. It’s been flowing over me and it’s felt like Scripture has been administered by feeding tube or IV when I was too weak to feed myself. But today I have had my first solid meal. And oh, it tastes so good.

So I share my first “real meal” in months. The grace of it showed up when I was so very tired. It’s sweetness lingers.

But it starts with weakness and hunger.

I just don’t know. Breathe. It’s okay not to know. One thing at a time.

Breathe. Rest. Wait. Walk. Listen. Wait. Cry. Laugh. Be here. Wait. Play games. Make food. Ask for help. Offer help. Give. Receive. Watch tv. Sit by the fire. Be.

Mary, not Martha. At the feet of Jesus. Hanging on His words and His thoughts toward me. Those thoughts are good and I am thankful.

Luke 10:38-42.
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

sat at the Lord’s feet and listened.

But Martha…

was distracted.
Mary’s choice…
active- sat, listened.
But Martha
passive, was distracted. (Nerd alert: perispao from “to draw” and “through/all over”.) It’s happening to her.

It takes no effort to be dragged around and distracted, but it takes active choice to sit and listen. Mary “has chosen”. I think that’s where the difference lies. Actively choosing Jesus. Otherwise the distractions will draw me away, drag me through it.

Then Martha was anxious and Mary had chosen.

Mary chose the good portion. It was available. All it took was a choice. All of Jesus is is available to me, always, freely. All I have to do is choose.


I am weary. And I am weary of being weary. I’m tired from missing them. I’m tired for trying to figure out how to be a mom in this new reality. I’m tired of having no one to take care of me. I’m tired of being the boss of me. I’m tired of only having memories. I’m tired of having the FAFSA and taxes hanging over my head. I’m tired of wondering if I can handle my finances well. I’m tired of wondering how my story will play out. I’m tired of being tired.

I feel overwhelmed by being identified by grief. I don’t like being so unpredictable. I don’t like that I can’t commit to things and know for sure I’ll be able to carry them out. I feel tired of my own thoughts looping and wonder how they sound when I try to share them with others. 

But I seem to recall that Jesus said something about being tired, weary, worn thin. 

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But when I looked up the word “weary” it turns out it’s more than just this time that weariness is addressed. Here it is even connected to grieving. 

“For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”  Jeremiah‬ ‭31:25‬ ‭NLT‬

Another translation says “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” (ESV)

Weary, langushing. I resonate with those words. What I see with those words is the beautiful words rest, and satisfy, and replenish, and joy. 

How kind and compassionate is God to know those are the very things I need and cannot provide for myself. I am reminded again that His ways are so much higher than mine. He is so other than I am in all the best sorts of ways. 

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”  Isaiah‬ ‭40:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Never?! Never weary. The God who loves me is not constrained by a limited capacity or a finite amount of energy. What a glorious gift!

Just one more…

“The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to His will.”‭‭ Isaiah‬ ‭50:4‬ NLT

Letting that just sink in. Knowing how to comfort the weary. This is my desire even as I desire to be comforted and once again I see that God has provided His words of wisdom to do just that. I can trust His wisdom to be just what I need to give and to receive.  But it doesn’t stop there! Morning by morning my understanding being open to His will. I find that I know I don’t have it within me to enter in to either of these things. I’m too weary. He then amazes me by offering me all His never-weary resources. 

Newhalen meatballs

Today I found myself wrestling with the conflicting ideas of resting and letting things go and sometimes needing to push through and do hard things. Granted, most everything feels hard some days so there are plenty of opportunities. 

Last night we honestly admitted not wanting to do things that are on the schedule for this weekend. After a less that stellar night of sleep, the portion on my plate looked too big. My eyes last week planning the day were bigger than my Thursday morning “stomach”.  

But as I watch my boys get up and out the door to work and school day after day I realized that if they can do that…I can make meatballs. So, I made them. And I was glad I did. 

The reality is, the Lord has developed in the cadence of my life an ongoing conversation with Him about what He has for me to do each day. It gets pretty specific some times and general others. Today when I admitted to Him freely that I didn’t know what to do or how to decide, He gave me the insight I needed at just the right time. 

He’s always providing for my needs. He always has and always will. What changes is my heart in seeing and choosing what those things are instead of fussing about what I think is best. 

By now you’re wondering what Newhalen has to do with meatballs. Today, I made meatballs and Sam got on a plane and went to Newhalen to play basketball and Josh went to work and did math. In it all God met us. 

Seventh No. 2

Here I am on February 7th. Month 2. I don’t know how many days, I haven’t ever been able to keep track of that. There are some similiar feelings to the first 7th. I’m glad the calendar is recording that time has passed because it certainly feels like a very long time. The journey my heart has taken can’t be measured in days or months, I don’t think.

There are heart twinges. It’s the best way I can think to describe the twinges that come so many times a day. There are not always tears, but just the awareness. 

*When someone mentions that their husband hasn’t read a new book and I nearly chime in that Scott hasn’t either. (Duh.)

*When “I love us” framed picture dominate my newsfeed on Facebook. 

*When the word fatherless is used (that one gets tears more often)

*When someone sits at Scott’s seat at the dining room table. 

*When I go on a snow machine trip he would have loved. 

*When I learn to use a chainsaw and I can’t share with them. 

Where are we? What’s going on on this seventh. Well, an attorney has been hired and court documents have been filed requesting a trial date to present evidence so death certificates can be issued. Witnesses will be notified by the court and then a date will be set. It’s a full-on jury trial, but the venue we’ve chosen allows witnesses to appear by phone. I’m so grateful for that.

Josh and Sam are chipping away at schoolwork as they are able. I will say that mental stamina is not something any of us possess right now. I keep praying for them as they tackle each assignment. Josh is working 30-35 hours a week for Lake Clark Air in their hangar doing maintence and on the ground crew as needs arise.

The weather has been perfect. We finally have a real winter. The lake is frozen and I ski multiple times a week. The sun reflecting off the snow is enough to brighten my spirits. I am beyond grateful for the grace of this provision.

Tasks on my plate are sorting papers, getting my head wrapped around the finances, taxes and financial documents for college for the boys. One more of God’s provisions is a financial planner being in Port Alsworth for a few days so we can gain much needed counsel on next steps, questions to ask and how to make decisions.

This post sounds like a news report, but here it is. I am grateful for the work God is doing. He is good and faithful and sovereign and I need Him to be all those things. I always have, I just realized it more now.

From the top of the wave

As I’ve walked this road so far and pictured it more in water than solid ground, the image of the waves and the shores keep playing and  I get a glimpse in my mind’s eye of where I am. The shore of what our life used to look like, the 6 of us as a family, is still behind me and out of reach. It is a beautiful shore full of memories of life well lived, love experienced in all its messiness. Ahead, in the distance, is another shore to be journeyed in, but yet to be reached. The shore of what was is much closer than the shore of what will be.

And then there’s now. Bobbing up and down in the waves. I have gotten out past the breakers of the first few weeks. I feel in no danger of drowning, but have no control over where I end up. Up and down.

“Ride the waves” has come out of my mouth more than you can imagine. Part of it is my effort to remind myself I don’t need to control or manage this process. Oh how I long to do it well, but that can quickly translate to placing value on my responses and evaluating my performance. Such a slippery slope.

It’s an odd sort of thing that it somehow feels more “right” to be at the bottom of the wave, in the midst of the intensity of emotions, crying the ugly cry. And yet the past few days I have found myself at the top of a wave with a hopeful view of the future shore and it is unsettling. I find myself looking around as it were to see if I’m in the right place. Is it ok to say that I’m ok?

Any state I’m in is temporary. It’s always been like that. This life and my emotional state are not static. In marriage. In relationships. In the weather. There are seasons. So I know that wherever I am is not where I’ll always be. But can I really just be in an ok place? This is a new kind of resting for me. A new kind of trusting my heart and my journey to the One who sees and knows.

It has been a struggle to feel ok having ok moments, hours, even days. I remember back to the day of waiting. We were at the state volleyball tournament cheering on the amazingly brave Tanalian Lynx team wearing the number 5 on one cheek and the number 11 on the other in solidarity. Kaitlyn and Zach’s numbers. Caleb would hold is hand with 5 fingers spread wide, arm fully extended over his head each time he took the ball to serve. There was plenty of awareness of the gravity of the situation.

But there was also joy even in that moment. There were good plays and a baby to snuggle and dumb jokes being made and community to enjoy.

There was also the cameras of the media recording the events of the day and possibly my response. And I found myself wondering if it was ok that they might capture a face alight with joy. A grin or a head thrown back in laughter. But there it was. As the hours went on and the hope for a rescue faded there were waves of nausea and tears that flowed, but there were also moments of joy.

The struggle came as I looked around at people responding to me, and I found myself wondering if it looked like I didn’t care, if it seemed like I wasn’t aware of the tragedy. It felt more acceptable to be doing the sad emotions than the happy ones.

So I’ve had to let it go. The thoughts and perceptions of other people. A new way to trust. To be. While it may be hard for some to see me with a face-splitting smile, sometimes that is where I am. And the reality I’ve seen is that there is uncertainty in being with someone in deep pain whether they are weeping or laughing.

So I’ll laugh. And I’ll cry. And I’ll make jokes and share memories and probably say shocking things. The whole range of human emotions have just been put on steroids.

And I’m still me, just drastically altered.

What if I forget?

I sit with memories of Scott, Kaitlyn and Zach flooding through my mind. Some are so vivid I feel like I’m right there. Others seem fuzzy or faded or far away.

And I’m not sure I can remember their voices. And I fight to remember what it felt like to hug them or how they walked. Panic wants to well up inside me; grasping at the memories. Moments of panic at the threat of forgetting.

Then peace that passes understanding offers me a place to be. I find that even here there is peace that I can trust my Heavenly Father to hold the memories I need, to bring them to mind at the best times. One more thing I can’t control, but it provides the chance for one more place to offer it to Jesus.

I keep learning new ways to trust. New muscles that I didn’t know existed. Have you ever worked out so hard and the next day you “find” those muscles? This has been so strenuous, such a new kind of exertion and there is pain in places I didn’t know existed. There are also places God is showing Himself to be trustworthy that I didn’t know were even an options.

Today it is memories. I can trust God with my memories. When I panic and grasp and feel the experience of them being here slipping away, I can bring it to my gracious, kind, tender Heavenly Father to hold me, and my memories.

Missing us

Mourning 3 is a tricky business. They are all so different. Sometimes I feel the loss of the quantity, like when we have 7 around the table, but it’s the “wrong 7” (note: Katie has been living with us for over a year and a half. Didn’t want the number 7 to be confusing). Or when I sit between Josh and Sam and feel the smallness of my whole family being one on either side of me. Some days I spend more time thinking about Kaitlyn or Zach.

But tonight as I stretch and get ready to crawl into bed I miss Scott as my champion and encourager. I miss having him near knowing he always wanted what was best for me. It helped me choose well knowing he was there, caring that I was thriving. I miss seeing in his eyes that he was proud of me and so very for me. 

His presence. I suppose what I miss is his presence. The whole thing. The physical touch. The emotions. The twinkle in his eyes. The mischief. The serious. Hearing him pray. The sound of coffee grinding in the morning and trying not to be irritated that I could hear it. The way he took such good care of the physical things he’d been entrusted with. How hard he worked. His commitment to finishing things. His laugh, do we have to that recorded somewhere? His love for me. Being us. We were at good us.