Monday, October 15, 2012

God's Goodness

I lost my two and half year old daughter to a failed adoption.  I am still recovering.  The pain of that was unlike anything I can describe.  Fourteen months later, my husband died.  My best friend.  The father of my children.  The only one who shared the exact pain from losing our girl.  My faithful companion of twelve years. A decade of marriage.  I knew in those awful days it took him to die that I would probably make it, but I would have given anything to have died right next to him.

You can't know what it's like.  You can't.  You can't.

For four years I have been living in crisis.  We were in over two years of legal and emotional hell as we faced losing our daughter.  We listened to a stranger tell us we had less than 28 days left with our daughter.  We sat down at a table as a family and explained to our children that one of them was leaving.  Matt and I grieved heavily for a year.  We fought a collective depression and despair.  Then two months later he left home for a run and did not come home.  Harper was fatherless.  I was a widow.  People try to imagine what that's like. You can't though. You can't know how badly your teeth chatter when you ache so deeply.  You really can't.  To live in it every second.  For there to be no escape from that agony.  To watch your child feel it.  You can't know.

I am not trying to commend myself here -- I am just communicating a truth: during that time I said to God every day, "Lord, you are good."  I told Harper.  I would tell you if you wanted to know how I felt about it.  I believe that God is unchanging.  He is not the god of my personal good fortune.  He is the one true God.  And He is GOOD.

During the last few months a friend has walked beside me.  He became a better friend, then a really good good friend, then the friend that meant the most to me.  It was a time in my life where every food tasted wrong and stale.  Life was flat and small or daunting and looming.  Everyone seemed two dimensional -- like they were made out of paper.  This man, Jake, felt like he was warm and whole and had a beating heart.  I didn't mean to.  I started to love him.  He didn't mean to.  He started to love me.  Then we realized separately that the thought of not having each other was very scary.  I don't want to think about life without him.  He won't think about life without me.  When I am with this man I feel joy pouring out of me.  Not the joy you can feel where you are sad but know hope and faith.  The joy you feel when you feel God's smile upon you and a fresh hope and a deeper faith.  And I tell God, "Lord, you are good."

I praise an almighty God who created redemption and who created restoration.  I am trembling with confidence and thankfulness.  I praise Him for redeeming my life and my story and restoring my future.   He is giving me comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  He is creating beauty out of ashes.

I am not done grieving.  I won't ever be.  This new thing isn't instead of the old.  It's along side of.  I'm taking it with me.  Our life with Matt is a treasure to me and to Harper.  It's part of us and it goes where we go.  Matt loved us most.  And we him.  If the tables were turned, and it was me who died and not Matt, and I got to come visit him right now, I would hug him and kiss his face; I would put my hands on his shoulders and look him in the eye and say with urgency, "run -- do not walk into this goodness that is in store for you."  So that's what Harper and I are doing.  God is good.  And Jake is the goodness He is giving us.  I am running hard to it.  We are getting married this fall.  I am weeping with gratitude.  I have learned that when you know joy this deeply your teeth chatter too.  And that is something I hope you do know and can know.

Once again, I will say, "LORD, YOU ARE GOOD."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Diary of a Quitter, Part II

I had two sweet dogs. It came to be that I was not in a position to have them anymore. It is really broke my heart for a minute. I felt terrible that I committed to these animals and now I gave them away. However, since Matt died, I feel like it is one more thing that I am incapable of handling at this time. So I quit my pups and with a lot of help, I found homes for these good dogs.


For the past few weeks I have been trying to put aside my guilt over eliminating the things in my life that are good things but are adding stress that I don't need. I am trying to realize my limitations. Without Matt and with my current life circumstances some things just have to change. Unfortunately, the dogs were such a thing. Other things I love that are going by the wayside are a book club I enjoyed, a wedding I really wanted to go to, a discussion group and about a simpler way of life I wanted to attend weekly, and other really pleasant things.

I am really attempting to free my life from the things that are weighing me down so that I can do right by Harper, and take care of myself. I'm making an effort to ask guilt and self criticism to take a few big steps back from me so I can rest easy in my choices. There is lots of talk in counseling of being kind to yourself. Of being gentle with yourself. It seems to me that it is pretty cyclical. The nicer I am to myself, the nicer I am to myself. Like sleep begetting sleep for babies.

So that's it. I'm quitting guilt and self inflicted pressure. I'm letting it go. And as of about five minutes ago, I just quit the last of the dogs. One thing though -- Harper thinks the dogs are spending a few days with friends. That's what I'm telling her when she gets around to noticing they are gone. So don't rat me out by asking her if she misses her dogs. Lying to your kid -- that's something I'm not quitting yet. That'll keep for another day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Diary of a Quitter. Part I

Today is a DAY.  Do you know what I mean?  I woke up and was crying before I'd even gotten out of bed.  I had a hard night last night and have been struggling through the morning.  I feel the pain of loss with such freshness today.  Yesterday I read some things Matt had journaled about in the last year and a half.  The constant theme was Waverley.  He loved her so.  He missed her like I miss her.  He cried out over her and ached for her.  Now that Matt is gone I feel further from my girl.  There's no one left that raised her for those few, too-short years besides me.  No one that delighted in her like me left either.  We would always think of ourselves as her parents no matter what.  We would always love her with all of our hearts.  It felt better when it was a collective heart -- his and mine.  Now it's just mine.  Which seems insufficient.  And small.  And so very, very wrong.

When Matt was here I could still feel the four-ness of our family.  Even if we were three, that spot was there for Waverley.  Now that we are two I feel totally unraveled.  Just clinging to Harper.  We seem insufficient.  And small.  And so very, very wrong.

The other day Harper said from the backseat, "There's just two of us now. What will we do for Halloween? Who will take me trick or treating?"
"I will," I assured her.
"You can't.  Kids need you to be home to hand out candy when they ring our doorbell."
"Oh it's okay, we'll just leave a basket of candy out," I reasoned.
"I don't know if that will work, Mom.  We'll have to ask someone for help.  Maybe I can go with a friend..."

This reminded me of a few weeks ago during counseling when she said a girl in a picture looked worried.  The counselor asked Harper what the girl was worried about.  "Everything," Harper answered quickly.  The counselor then asked what Harper worried over.  "There is so much to be worried about," Harper answered quietly with sad conviction.  It's true for her.  There is so much to be worried about.  Her sister is gone.  Her daddy is gone.  I can't do all of the mommy jobs and all of the daddy jobs.  Our world has become chaotic for her.

So I have quit my part time job in order to just be home with her and try to ease Harper's sweet mind and help unburden her tender heart as much as I can.  To be more available to her.  I want to help her and provide stability in her life.  I want to help her overcome her fears and resolve her concerns.  I can't do it all.  She needs the peace of God, healing that will hopefully come with time, and comfort that comes just from her mom.  I am working on cutting out whatever I can to work towards that end.  For now that means work.  I need to take care of myself during the day so I can better care for her in the afternoon and evenings.  

This is my first week off so I'm not quite sure what it will look like.  Reading and being quiet and still for sure.  Maybe some extra sleep.  Taking walks with my neighbor-friend and having coffee with my mother in law.  Lighting candles.  Breathing.  I don't know.  I think it will be a good thing.  

I am trying to move more fully into this new normal.  I am trying to get through these DAYS.  I am trying to reconcile all that is so wrong into feeling okay.  I am busting into the emergency cookies I keep in the glove compartment in the car.  Today I had them out before I left Harper's school parking lot.  Because I'm sad, but I'm smart.  And smart girls like me know that there will be days where you need to eat a cookie right away.  That's how you know I'm going to make it.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What's In a Name?

Having grown up with the maiden name Heintzelman I was excited to take on my married name  thinking it would be an easier one, and I was excited to share a name with the man I loved.

I loved the notion of being half of a whole and of being united with Matt.

What I didn't understand at 21 when we became engaged and planned our future, was that by attaching myself to that name I had the prize waiting for me of becoming a part of an entire family.

Matt's parents Brian and Vicki took me on like I was truly theirs.  They loved me and poured into me verbally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Early on in our marriage I spent significant time with Matt's parents both with him and even on my own.  We laughed at how funny it was when I would go out to dinner with them by myself if Matt was working or had something else going.  Vicki and I spent weekends together when Brian and Matt would go on biking trips.  Over the last 12 years we have really grown to love each other deeply, Matt's family and I.

Matt has a brother.  His brother Mark is one of the very best men I know.  He is different from Matt in most every way.  Matt loved Mark so wholly and completely.  Though Mark and his amazing wife have lived in California for the last decade we became closer than I would have guessed we ever could at that distance.  Mark and Kath visited regularly and made great effort to establish a strong relationship with Harper.  As a result, I am pretty sure if Harper understood the concept of being stranded on a deserted island and could only pick one person to go with her, she would pick Mark in a heartbeat.  She only has eyes for him.  She adores this aunt and uncle and the cousins they have given her with every part of her being.

When Matt died in April his family rallied around me in a way that only family can.  There was not a distinction made that I was the daughter they were slated through marriage.  They treat me like I am their own.  On that final day at the hospital when it was time for me to go, my dear friends picked me up at the door and took me straight to Brian and Vicki's house.  I don't remember working it out.  It was just a given.  When all was done I would go home to them.

As a haven and retreat, a couple of weeks after Matt's death I went to be with Mark and Kath.  Harper and I were heartsick and being with them was the only logical first step to the remedy.  There is hope and life and healing in that relationship.  When they decided to move home to Kansas City to support us, I was completely overcome.  They uprooted their very lives to be more fully a part of ours.

Since Mark and Kath and the kids have gotten here I have been overwhelmed with gratitude.  I thought of them as being here for Brian and Vicki and for Harper.  I didn't expect that their being here would make me feel such comfort.  I didn't anticipate the dose of peace it gives me that they are just 20 minutes down the road.

Brian and Mark have worked with Harper this summer to show her how to ride a bike.  Mark came with his daughter and took Harper to school yesterday.  You would have guessed Harper had won the lottery.  A few days back I woke up and got dressed.  I walked out to the kitchen.  The dogs were barking, and I looked out the kitchen window.  Brian and Mark were hopping over my fence and coming into my backyard.  Brian was beaming and had his hand over his heart in relief.  They thought my dogs had been exposed to some mouse poison in the basement where they usually sleep at night.  We had all forgotten it was down there.  Brian had woken up in a panic thinking my dogs might have died in the night.  He was coming to check and do what needed to be done.  He was coming to rescue me.  Although right now I am wondering why they didn't just ring the doorbell.

At church a couple of weeks ago Brian and Vicki and I were sitting in one pew.  Mark and Kath and Harper and her cousins were sitting in the pew in front of us.  If you didn't know us you wouldn't have been able to figure out exactly who went with who and how we all fit together.  But you would know it was true -- that we were all there together.  We were smiling at each other over the girls' heads and patting one another occasionally.  At the end of the service they sing a closing prayer.  Everyone holds hands and moves in closer together.  We were lined up -- all close and touching.  The girls danced between us with happy hearts and glad faces.

What's in a name?  As it turns out, pretty much everything.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

one thing remains

I chose to have a song called "One Thing Remains" played at Matt's memorial service.  There is so much hope in this song that it brings me to my knees.

I was reading yesterday and was struck by these words, "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He promised." It's Romans 4:20-21talking about a man with some crazy good faith.

I am praying for that kind of faith today.  God's promise is good: His love remains.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Even though I know it is normal, I continue to be surprised at the lack of rhythm to my grief.  Some days I feel alright.  Distracted always by it, but able to compartmentalize it and keep moving.  Some days I feel numb.  Some days I feel really angry.  Days like today I feel like I just had the wind knocked out of me.  I wake up to a physical ache of missing Matt and it keeps a grip on me all day.  It feels like less of something inside of me and more of it's own separate entity -- where I don't have any say in what it is going to be like; I just have to wait and see what it's going to do to me.

On days like this my heart feels like it's seizing up.  My body feels brittle.  My hair hurts, and my frown is deep.  My eyes don't want to open all of the way.  I feel 100 pounds heavier.  A sense of anxiety completely overwhelms me.  The question, "what am I going to do?" hounds me and the thought "please don't be true" knocks around inside of me.

When this is the case I try to live in it for awhile and then try to distract myself from it because I really can't go on this way.  I won't make it if I do.  So I think about things that make me happy.  Which basically means I think about my girl.  Yesterday Harper tried to teach her 3 year old cousin how to hula hoop.  Harper kept instructing with passion and enthusiasm, "Move those hips! Move those hips!" It was awesome.  Then I try to take a sip of a great drink and move my feet in a forward direction.

This is how it goes.  This is how I feel.  No point to this whatsoever.  I'm just sayin.

Friday, July 27, 2012

a proud moment

Today Harper was playing with one of our favorite of her friends.  They were playing Barbies and her friend suggested pretending that one of them had a dad that had died.  This was to solve the problem of a large number of female Barbies and a shortage of Kens.  It was said innocently.  Harper said, "I don't want to play that way because it makes me sad because my daddy did die."  This sweet friend then felt bad, and cried, and the girls worked it out and moved on.  I was so so proud of Harper in this moment.  She is five years old.  She was able to handle a tough moment where someone forgot her situation, and say something about it to resolve it.  She was able to experience a true friend responding with remorse and love.  They got to sort it out and keep going.  I want my relationships to be that way.  I am so thankful for a daughter like this sweet girl.  She is modeling such healthy friendships.

I started seeing a new counselor last week.  She had me describe Harper.  I was telling her a few things that I think define my girl.  Then this counselor said, "She sounds like a total bad ass."  I can't tell you how I ate those words up.  She is right.  My five year old is a total bad ass.  

There is this quote on Pinterest I see a lot.  It says "and though she be but little, she is fierce."  It's attributed to Shakespeare, but it's the internet - so who knows.  I think it is the perfect summation of my daughter.  It makes me smile, and it makes me proud.  I want to be just like her.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

words about (not) sleeping

Well.  In what felt like a knock out punch at the time, I stopped taking Ambien.  Harper has restless arm and leg syndrome.  She can't sleep.  She can't fall asleep because she worries about not being able to sleep.  Can anyone relate to that? I know I can.  Then she wakes up for hours at a time during the night.  She is exhausted.  I felt like I was sleeping too deeply to attend to her needs in the night so I decided to cut the Ambien.  I eased off for a couple of days then called it quits.  I am sleeping about four hours a night.  Maybe five.  Sometimes these hours are broken up by being up with The Girl.  I am exhausted.

Here is the thing about Harper and I both being tired: we're a disaster.  We're individually a mess and collectively a stack of chaos.  We're both irritable, over-sensitive, more emotional, closer to the edge, and look like zombies most of the time.  

If Harper doesn't respond well to the increased iron dose that she is taking this month as a trial run, we will have to start her on receiving iron intravenously.  This is my worst nightmare at this point.  Trips to Children's Mercy for blood work up to now have resulted in both of us in tears in the waiting room and lab, and her laying on the floor in the hall screaming bloody murder.  The thought of signing up for more needles and more blood work makes me feel like my brain is a chalkboard with nails being run over it.

I am trying to be a person who doesn't complain.  Apparently though, I feel the need to complain about this topic.  So this is it.  A whole post about not sleeping.  No resolution or happy points to be made.  Just complaining.  When I am up in the night with her I am mad and lonely.  Mad at Matt for making me do this all by myself.  Lonely that there is no one who cares about my daughter in the exact same way I do.  Lonely that I don't have someone to kiss me goodnight and tell me they'll take care of getting Harper to bed; that I should go ahead and go to sleep -- everything will be fine.  Because doesn't that sound like about the best thing ever?  I just miss that man so much.  I could really use a hug from him.  Or to hold his hand and cry in frustration.  Tired, pitiful sigh.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

say for me love

I have a strong affinity for the Avett Brothers.  I have been listening to the song "Living of Love" over and over again.

(If you want to hear it)

Lyrics to Living Of Love :

For just one chance to find

Love was someone that you loved to find
For just the sense to try
To walk ahead and leave the pain behind
If the days aren't easy and the nights are rough
When they ask you what you're thinking of
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love

Your heart says not again
What kind of mess have you got me in
But when the feelings there
It can lift you up and take you anywhere
But the gravel beneath you and the limbs above
If anybody asks you where your coming from
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love

Say yes we live uncertainty
And disappointments have to be
And everyday we might be facing more
And yes we live in desperate times
But fading words and shaking rhymes
There's only one thing here worth hoping for
With Lucifer beneath you and God above
If either one of them asks you what your living of

Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love

I think of Harper.  I think of keeping my heart soft for her and not hard or coated in bitterness.  I think of the loveliness of the lines in this song and want to stay open to her.  I want to be engaged and not sitting on the couch, dazed.  

I think of this girl that just IS love.  I think of her funny lines, her renditions of Adele songs, her pretending.  I think of her manners, how fast she runs, her long arms wrapped around my neck as she tries to sleep.  She is tender, kind, compassionate, strong.  

I pray for both of us to stay vulnerable and pliable towards each other in our hearts.  That we would choose joy.  That we would choose love.  That we would say it to each other.  I pray our hearts would be full of God's love and caringness towards us.  If you ask me what we're living of, I say love.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

pep rally

In twenty four hours I am closing the books and locking up shop with this month this year.  A few days ago I mentioned how hard June has been.  I wish you all could experience first hand what I did after I put up those words.  People supported me like no other.  I felt like I was the recipient of the best pep rally I have ever been to.  It was crazy.  I know that has been happening.  It's been happening since the phone rang April 1st and I went to the hospital.  But I felt like I had the wherewithal to see it happen these last few days.

I have felt people praying for me.  I have been in such a better way.  I have sang happier songs, looked people more in the eye, and felt fresh hope brewing up in me.  I have been feeling those prayers.  I have gotten notes, texts, emails, and letters (I love when people encourage me).  People have left funny and empowering comments that I have read over and over.  Dear friends fed me, sent me presents, brought me groceries, delivered red velvet ice cream (did you know that existed?  I had no idea.  I'm a changed woman).  People I don't know said that I matter; they care about me, and they are praying for Harps and I.

A while ago I was talking to a lady I admire like crazy.  She wrote me the nicest thing and I wrote it down.  She said, "you're out in the middle of the river, holding onto a log.  All of us out on the riverbanks are cheering you on.  We can't get into the water to try to grab you; you have to fight to stay afloat yourself.  It must be a lonely fight.  Just don't forget the ringing of our cheers in your ears."  June felt like a lonely fight.  I had hard days to get through that I needed Matt for.  But then I heard those good cheers ringing in my ears.  And things felt much, much better.  Thank you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


June is kicking my ever loving ass.

I have been dreading June since last June.  Dates are hard for me and I knew I would have a hard time making it through this month.  When I lost Matt two other dates got added to the June calendar that I had to get through.  So I knew it was coming.  And I was right.  It is a beat down of the worst kind.  I am using every last bit of energy just to get through each day.

People say kindly to me, "do whatever you need to do; be however you need to do."  I say, "thank you." 

This breaks down somewhere though.  Good sentiment, but what if what I really want to do is hide under the covers and cry and watch tv and drink bloody marys?  That is not really a possibility.  I have a daughter.  I have to work sometimes.  I have laundry that I don't actually do but I spend a lot of time thinking about.  It doesn't really seem like a viable option to do whatever feels best.  So I am just plodding and stumbling through.

So here is my plan for the next seven days.  I'll use a boxing analogy because the best analogies are the ones where you have no idea what you are actually talking about.  I've been fighting this match for a little while now.  I'm really tired and I've been getting pretty banged up.  And these last few punches have got me down on the ground.  It doesn't look great for me.  It's not good at all.  I'm just laying here dazed and blinking and still.  But before it's too late I'm going to get up.  I'm going to stand up, look June dead in the eyes, and throw a knock out punch.  And it'll be great.  Just wait and see.  

My knock out punch will probably look like making a real trip to the grocery store, or folding the basket of laundry that has been sitting in the living room for two weeks.  I am going stand up and get things done, even though it just means washing my hair two days in a row, playing Barbies, finishing something I start without wandering away, or not losing important things I need for a meeting.  I might be too worn out to put my hands up in the air.  I'll just close my eyes and smile.  But it's coming.  I'm going to do it.  I'm getting back up.  

First I just need to lay here a little bit longer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

that sweet man

I was outside for a few hours this evening.  I got home and put the girl into bed.  It was late and quiet in my house.  I started thinking about going to bed.  I put my head down to do something and my hair fell forward.  It smelled like sunshine.  Which is exactly what Matt smelled like most of the time.  I wish he was in bed falling asleep beside me so much.  I would try to talk and tell him things -- often affirming things about him.  He usually wanted none of it -- when he was tired he was tired.  I would say something, and he would reply firmly, "goodNIGHT, Mol." Then I would roll my eyes in the dark and kiss him goodnight.  Oh I miss him.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

a thankful note

I am thankful that people subscribe to these long and rambling and usually sad posts.  Thank you.  I am thankful for the kind comments people leave.  I am thankful for the sweet cards I get in the mail.  I am thankful that people remember me and remember my girl.  Thank you.  It is the best encouragement.  I am thankful for the generous and thoughtful things that people have given me.  People are wonderful to us.  I don't deserve it.  But I love it and am grateful.  Thank you.

I am thankful for my daughter.  I am thankful that she is full of light and grace and tenderness and hilarious comments. I am thankful that she loves swimming and thinks she owns it with a kick board.  I am thankful that she still thinks I'm cool sometimes.  I am thankful she has more people that love her than almost anyone.  I am thankful for her friends.  Last week we stayed with our besties for a few days.  Harper and her friend have been missing each other this weekend.  Her girlfriend gave her mom this message for me to relay to Harps "I want Harper to always be here.  I know we'd argue but that's okay.  And I know what it'd be about.  Sometimes my little brother hurts me and Harper says, 'it's okay Benny; you're just so cute.' And I'm like, 'unbelievable, I thought I was your best friend.'" Come on - that is awesome.  I'm thankful for the minds of five year olds and summer vacation.

I am thankful for the good people that are taking care of me.  I could just list a bazillion names here.  I am so fortunate to have people that love me and want good things for me.  I hope that I have the chance to love other like they are loving me these days.  I feel selfish and humbled and needy.  But I wouldn't be making it without them.  So I'm deeply thankful.

I am thankful for simple pleasures.  A few quiet minutes by myself.  Dr. Pepper (always, right?).  A great book I read (Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.  If you like beautiful things you will read this.).  Good music with perfect lyrics.  A great laugh.  A funny pin on Pinterest.  I can't tell you why those "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling pictures make me laugh like they do.  An episode of Modern Family while I eat a cupcake in bed.  What? Texts from people that check on me.

I had a day that was pretty hard to get through this past week.  A significant date for Matt and I.  I let myself be as sad as I wanted to.  I listened to sad songs and looked at things from our life.  It was pretty crushing.  I'll keep the details of it for myself.  However, in the midst of that I felt God's joy.  And for that I was the most thankful.  This life is hard.  It's bitter and ugly and feels like a beat down.  It is also filled with the sweetest joys and some happinesses that you couldn't make up if you tried to.  I'm crabby today.  Like you would NOT believe.  But I'm trying to choose joy.  I'm remembering that there is so much good.  There is much to be thankful for.  I'm going to go squeeze my girl.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

a public pep talk

this is what I am saying to myself today

Hey Girl,

You have been gaging your level of okay-ness by public misdeeds.  You figured you would know when you lost your mind by all of the obvious signs: running down the street naked, spending every penny you have on Easter candy and mystery books, punching a person in line at Target, shaving your head for sport, etc.  You figured since you are clothed, paying the bills, keeping your hands to yourself, and putting your dirty hair in a ponytail you must be making it.  And that's all true, Lady.  You are making it.

Sometimes it doesn't feel so obvious.  That's okay too.  A couple of days the dogs came in the house with a dead animal.  Legs were hanging out of one dog's mouth.  Legs.  Then that dog came into your house.  Mind.  Lost. But you made it.  You so made it.  

Yes you screamed a lot of bad words, put your head against the back door and cried, closed your eyes, and whispered, "I can't do this I can't do this I can't do this I can't do this." And then you looked at those dogs with all of the hate in your heart, locked the door (instead of putting them in the house as intended), got Harper in the car and left.  You helped your sister with something and acted like a mostly functioning person.

You went to Wal-Mart.  Shudder.

And that's what making it looked like that day.  You nailed it.  

So you couldn't fix that thing you thought you could and sat on the floor and cried instead.  Then you got Harper a drink of water and ate some chips.  Your daughter usually brushes her teeth.  One day won't leave permanent damage.  Most days you feed her fruits and vegetables. Here is the bottom line: you are making it even when you feel like you're not. Eat your chips. 

You are leaning on a lot of people.  They are good, good people and they will keep letting you.  It isn't pretty.  There is a lot of swearing.  You're making it.


Monday, May 28, 2012

and we're back

Harper and I just got back from California. Visiting Matt's family was a really sweet thing. It was also a time where his absence was most striking. Harper loves the beach and the ocean. For some reason her go-to activity this visit was some dancing and cheering at the water's edge. I missed her dad for her. I missed my husband for myself. 

 The whole time we were there I had the 23rd Psalm running through my mind. Harper has it memorized, and I'd ask her to say it to me as she went to bed each night. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. It felt true. It felt like a promise. So I can be bitterly sad. I am. I'll be that way for a long time. I can also recognize that even in those moments, especially in those moments, God is up to something good. He's got things in mind for me. He's leading me. He is restoring me. I'm so thankful for His unchanging love. It is the one thing that always remains.

Still here,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Long Post Where I'm Pretty Sad and Talk A Lot About My Mail

**One word of caution -- there are some pictures at the end that about did me in but that I really wanted to look at.  If they will upset you, there is no need to read any of this.  I don't like to be caught unaware by that stuff and thought you might not either.**

Today I got some really really bad mail.  I had known it would come, but I had kind of forgotten -- mostly on purpose.  I didn't get the mail yesterday and so I opened it today (Sunday {mother's day}).  It was one of those unexpected things that just sank me.  

One time recently I saw a counselor who was encouraging me to be kind to myself.  She asked me what I WANTED to do/what would feel best.  I quickly and firmly answered, "just sit."  So today after The Bad Mail I just sat.  Harper was playing in her room and whispering.  She always whispers to herself while she plays and I L-O-V-E it.  So I sat.  Quietly.  At the kitchen table.  And great things started to happen.  I had received some amazing texts and phone messages today wishing me a happy mother's day.  I re-read the texts.  Then I opened the good mail that I had saved up that came today too.  They were great cards.  And mother's day notes.  And some things said (basically -- and they felt like the sweetest words I'd ever heard), "I remember that you are Waverley's mom.  I realize today that while you miss Matt you are mostly missing your daughter.  I remember that one of the biggest holes that Matt left is that he was Waverley's dad and he is the only one who gets how this is besides you and he isn't here any more.  I remember that you have two girls not one.  I remember that you are so lonely today. " And one friend that I've talked about before, one of my total heroes, Danielle, sent me such a note and a book with some reminders.

Today at church a pastor talked about the word for strength.  In Hebrew it doesn't just mean your actual, physical strength.  It means your everything -- your attitude, your money, everything you have to offer.  She called it your very-ness.  Your very self.  I am thinking of it as your every-good-thing-that-I have-ness.  I'm sure anyone reading this totally followed that.  No.  (And also, hey mom - what's up?) But anyway. Then I was reading these verses in the book from Danielle.  The verses talked so much about strength, and I was so glad that I had just learned that this morning.  I'm confessing that I am a total verse skimmer when I read things people write.  Maybe you are a skimmer too.  But you should just read this one thing.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
Psalm 73:26 (NAS)

okay two things

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31 (also NAS)

When I read that I felt a huge dose of peace and thankfulness.  I had become worried because I feel like the only things I really have strength for are getting myself and Harper from morning to bedtime and feeling sad.  Today I felt utter misery missing my daughter and my husband.  I was just done.  Out of strength.  Good thing I don't have to worry about it.  God offers up His strength.  His very-ness. He is giving me His every-good-thing-that-I-have-ness.  And His strength is so good and so perfect and so complete and so safe.  I'll take it.

Harper and Waverley's Mom (always in my mind and heart if not in my life)

Friday, May 11, 2012

because I don't know. why not?

As per usual I am writing to use the internet as my therapy.  Like most people with a lot of common sense do.  I just put my girl to bed.  Since it is "Mother's Day" (never argue this no matter if it is true or not) her present to me was getting ready for bed without me asking her to do the same things over and over again.  It was actually a pretty amazing gift idea.  I will be asking for this for all future gift giving holidays.

Today only included a couple of hard tasks.  I am getting pretty good at taking care of doing hard things.  By "I" I mean a small team of people.  By "doing hard things" I mean arranging my disgusting new life and telling people that my husband has died and then hating them for making me say it.  Harps only had one serious melt down and a handful of tiny ones.  I got some good mail (I love getting good mail so much) and a present (I love getting presents more than anything).  I had one bad conversation and three good ones.  Tonight some of my favorites are coming for a couple of cocktails and to babysit me while I sleep.  This is a really good day on the spectrum of my days.

I have amazing people taking amazing care of me.  I have funny friends.  I have a home warranty.  I have lots of green tea lattes.  I have a daughter so amazing that she trumps all kids everywhere (sorry -- for saying it and for meaning it). I have some things I am looking forward to. I have hope.  I have a God who is good.  For these reasons I am still standing.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ways to Help

TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2012 8:35 PM, CDT
meals, thanks, etc.
Thank you for your continued inquiries about helping out...
We wanted to let you know that there are several things you can do if you find yourself with the urge to do so.

memories and encouragements - 
The family has cherished your comments on the guestbook here and been encouraged by your prayers.  Please continue to pray for whatever comes to mind as you think of them in the grieving process...  Also, if you have a special memory or picture of Matt that you would like Harper to read/see someday - send that to  They will be compiled as a gift to her.

volunteering, donations, etc - 
The Hope Center would love some time and attention in this time of transition, and you can find out how to volunteer at
You can also still contribute to the memorial fund - scroll down to previous entries to see the information and address to send it to.

meals for the families - 
for information on providing meals please email  There has been a ton of response on this, so consider a meal for extended family/friends if you know them...

not sure how to help?
In times like these, we often don't know what to do or how to act.  Just remember to keep the individual's needs at the forefront (needs for rest, alone or family time).  Grieving is necessary, hard,  and at times incredibly private... talking can be draining, even with a close friend.  Use your gifts to thoughtfully care for those in need - not just the Nagel family, but those in need around YOU, as well. If you don't personally know the family, consider those in YOUR family or neighborhood that need a blessing from you this week! 

grace and peace to you this evening, friends...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Memorial Donations

FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 2012 7:54 AM, CDT
helping out...
Heartfelt thanks to all who came to the memorial yesterday and to those who were there in spirit.  For those who asked,  
donations in Honor of Matt Nagel can be made to:

The Hope Center
2800 East Linwood Blvd
Kansas City, Mo. 64128


Matthew R. Nagel Memorial Fund
Checks payable to Molly Nagel
Send to:
Heartland Community Church
12175 South Strang Line Road
Olathe, KS 66062

A link to provide meals or other needs for the families will be posted Monday morning.  Thank you for all your inquiries.

Pray for the family today as they lay Matt to rest.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Matt Nagel Obituary

HURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012 7:14 AM, CDT

Matthew Robert Nagel, age 35, beloved son, husband and father, went home to the Lord April 4, 2012 at KU Medical Center after suffering a stroke.   He passed peacefully from the arms of his love to the arms of his Savior.

Matt was born January 12, 1977 in Kansas City, MO to Brian and Vicki Nagel of Spring Hill, KS. He graduated from Kansas City Christian High School and later from Kansas State University.  He worked in church ministry, construction management and most recently in non-profit community development at The Hope Center, as Director of Operations.   In addition to cheering on the Wildcats, he enjoyed spending time outdoors in Colorado, and taking care of his precious girls. 

He is survived by his bride of nearly 10 years, Molly Heintzelman Nagel, their daughter Harper, his parents, his brother Mark and family, and his treasured extended family and countless devoted friends.  They will miss his tender heart, fierce devotion, buoyant smile and contagious, steady faith. 

A memorial service to celebrate Matt’s life will be held April 5, 2012 at 4pm at Heartland Community Church,12175 S. Strangline Rd, Olathe, KS  66062.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his honor to The Hope Center –  - (816) 931-6290.   

Information on how to contribute to a memorial fund will be available at the service and subsequently on CaringBridge and on this blog.

Arr.: Signature Funerals; honoring life; honoring death. (816) 214-5174