Kara and I met years ago in a bible study. Honestly the first time I met her I didn’t quite get her. Over time I understood the way her mind worked… always deep, amazingly insightful and super encouraging. Our friendship has grown over the years as we talk about life and non-profit leadership.
There honestly no way explain all the ways God has used Kara in my life, but here are a few that stand out.
Years ago Kara would encourage me, in all situations, to have “palms up”. That God was in control and to not hold onto anything too tightly. She would text it to me regularly, sometimes reminding me of this truth, other times reminding herself. I soon adopted this as my own (I talk about it here Palms Up, and even got a tattoo on because of it A permanent reminder).
I have quoted Kara more times than I can count, “if you really love someone you will always want what is best for them.” I bring it up it when talking about leadership, marriage, friendship and any relationship really.
Kara also is the friend I was with who inspired me to move forward with Akron Women on Purpose. I wrote about it in this post Be obedient to the next step.
I’ve had the privilege to hear her insights over the years and wanted to share some of her with all of you. I’ve posted two videos, the first one is her story that she shared at Akron Women on Purpose and the second is when she spoke at TEDxAkron. Both are amazing, honest, and powerful! I truly am so proud to call her my friend.
This little person, my son, has had such a huge impact on my life and has a hold of my heart. Every month I take time to remember him and grieve him. This past 8th was no different. It was odd to me how in many ways this month felt really surreal, like my brain couldn’t comprehend all that had happened. That I really did have a son. He really did die. I found myself sleeping with and holding his hat for several days leading up to the 8th. I wanted his hat in particular because it had blood on it. It made it all real, it allowed me to feel like I was closer to HIM. I needed something real. I needed something tangible.
The 8th always is tricky as it feels so obvious to me that he is missing and yet the rest of the world goes on. I don’t mind that they do, I’m not hurt by it. Although there’s always that twinge of wondering if one day he will be forgotten. And then there’s my sweet friend Julie. Every single month on the 8th she goes to his grave, takes a picture and sends it to me and tells me she loves me. She hasn’t forgotten. He has not been forgotten. And it makes my heart full every. single. time.
Grief is an interesting world. While in this world I find myself constantly in this state of joy and sorrow, continuing over and over again. Last weekend was no different.
On Saturday I hosted a birthday party for a sweet six year old who has asked for a bonfire party at my house for the last four years. I love it. I love him. I love that this year I bought him a bike, since his mom is my bike partner I felt like he should learn to love it as much as us. I know there will be a day he doesn’t want a bonfire at my house, but I will keep holding onto them for as long as he allows me. At the same time as I watched all my friends and all their kids pile around this bonfire, the thought is not lost on me that it isn’t my son. I will never buy Enoch a bike, teach him to love the sport, host a party for him, etc. It is the joy and the sorrow. I love every minute I get with Xavier. I am thrilled he still wants a party at my house, but I equally am sad that I will not be doing the same for my son.
The next day I helped Brea host a funeral. Brea has functioned as our daughter for 9 years. I’ve talked about her several times. I have talked about the joy of being able to parent her. With that joy comes the sorrow that her mom did not have custody of her. And all of it came crashing to a head when her mom died quickly and unexpectedly the Thursday before Mother’s Day. It is tricky, for Brea and her sisters. It is tricky for someone like me who has had the opportunity to love and care for Brea because her mom was unable to. So I continued my mom role in helping host many parts of the funeral. Again I’m so grateful for the opportunity to love and care for Brea but never wanting to like this.
And so the weekend was a repeat cycle of joy and sorrow as I hosted a birthday party and a funeral all in less than 24 hours.