Category Archives: Personal

Buzz Bissinger, upping the ante, and the God of redemption

In a miraculous twist of fate yesterday, my children were napping during NPR’s program Fresh Air. I was in the kitchen making a meal for a friend who has a new baby, but when I heard the show’s guest, I was immediately disappointed: it was Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize winning author, writer of the Vanity Fair cover article on Caitlyn Jenner, and author of many books, including Friday Night Lights, which has a 25th anniversary edition coming out. I thought to myself, What do I have in common with this man? I haven’t read his books, I am not interested in sports, ugh. But out of a sense of obligation to the fates that allowed me this precious time cooking early enough in the day to have an hour to LISTEN TO NPR WHILE MY BABIES SLEPT, I kept it on. And I was glad I did.

Mr. Bissinger is a fascinating, intelligent, incredibly articulate gentleman. He answered the interview questions about his experience researching Friday Night Lights and the response over the last 25 years with conviction, passion, and integrity. It only took me about 5 minutes to warm up to him and start thinking, I need to read this book!friday night lights

He is a compelling figure. Who has surely written compelling pieces, even though I haven’t read them. Yet.

The second part of the interview moved into his personal life; he has recently been treated as an inpatient at a rehab facility for a shopping addiction. But as he talked, it became clear that the shopping addiction, which primarily involved leather clothing, was a symptom of something even deeper. He says, “…the admission of the shopping addiction was just a, you know, a cover in a sense for some deep, deep-seated, you know, sexual habits.” His official diagnosis was “complicated sexual addiction.” After a childhood with a difficult mother (who always wore leather gloves), he grew into a man with some gender confusion, who enjoys cross dressing, has had all of his body hair removed, and has indulged in dangerous S&M activities.buzz bussinger

At this point in the interview, my heart was heavy. Bissinger is very open with his story and speaks very highly of his supportive children and wife, who decided to stay with him throughout the addiction and recovery. But I couldn’t help but think, This is just one more story of brokenness. The sadness is not worth it to me.

And then Bissinger said something so profound: “My life was guided by shame. And that’s what I learned most of all in rehab. I was ashamed of myself, so you find an addiction, but it’s not enough, so you up the ante, you up the ante and you up the ante.”

Wow.

YES!

There it is—the human condition. An articulation of my own heart—he could have been speaking for me. Bissinger explains that the road to rehab was full of dangerous behavior, “the search for an identity that will probably never quite come.”

In my head, I know that my identity has indeed come, although this side of Heaven I won’t experience its fullness. I also know that my identity has nothing to do with my sexuality, my past, my successes or failures, my race, etc. My identity is that which God has named me. And yet, do I live out of that identity? Do I walk around in joyful confidence of God’s love for me? Or do I look for ways to cover up my shame and numb the lies that threaten to swallow me up? Do I find my own way of upping the ante, my own form of a shopping addiction? Bissinger is articulating my functional theology.

At the end of the day, Bissinger is describing you and me. All of mankind. Granted, our search for identity may not lead us to rehab or gender confusion, anonymous sex, or infidelity. Etcetera. Yet we all struggle against the shame, against the voices that tell us we aren’t good enough; in fact, forget good enough—how about the voices that tell us we aren’t enough, period?!

Bissinger says he has made peace with his search for identity. He says he is happier. I think that’s where the disconnect is for me—I don’t want to be happier; I want to be hopeful. I don’t want to accept that my search for identity will never be conclusive; I want to relish in the confidence of who I am because of my relationship to The Great I Am. Bissinger says, “You have to strip yourself bare, and once you strip yourself bare, you build yourself up.” But my experience tells me something different—shame strips me bare and only Jesus can build me up; only the unconditional, sacrificial love of Christ can change me, convince me, coax me into believing the truth of who I am and experiencing the peace that comes with that.

I can assert with all confidence that Mr. Bissinger will wake up tomorrow and struggle. As will I. What will I do in the midst of that struggle? Will I trust the God who promises redemption or fall back into my shame, looking for ways to up the ante? Will I believe that vicious, manipulative voice in my head or the kind, gentle voice of God who only asks for my trust?

Ten texts I recently would have otherwise sent to Kara…

i_miss_you_by_arhcamtilnaad

  1. Guess what I got for Mother’s Day?! A PINK dining room! Come see it!
  2. Lyle Lovett is coming to town! Are you going?!
  3. Am I really writing a book on community? Will you just write it for me?
  4. Tequila is my boyfriend…but you knew that…
  5. Von and I miss you; when can we bring you Dutch Bros. and cuddle and chat?
  6. Ella was brilliant in her school play; she stole the show! So proud!!
  7. My pantyliner somehow came unattached from my underwear and is now stuck on my cheek and I’m too lazy to go to the bathroom and fix it.
  8. I can’t believe Jason bought an RV—what about his dream of a VW bus?! Where are you adventuring?!
  9. My heart hurts and I could use some Kara prayer.
  10. Am at Barnes and Noble and see your book on the shelf!! AAAACH!!

My Caroline

I went to Mardels today. I’ve been there exactly twice. The first time was last fall when Kara’s book came out; I had bulk ordered and found my way to Mardels to pick up my copies. The lady asked me if I knew Kara. “She’s my best friend,” I replied.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. Normally a strange thing to say, but I knew what she meant.

“Don’t be—she’s headed Home!” But as I said it, the tears came.

The well meaning lady gave me an apologetic look before I hurriedly left.

Today I approached the same desk for a hold. I don’t know if it was the same lady (I’m terrible with names and faces), but she handed me the book I had called about and put on hold. “It’s for my best friend,” I explained. She thought that was nice, and I turned quickly away before she could see my tears falling.

My mamma always said you could only have one best friend—that’s what BEST meant. The best. It is a superlative. But she wouldn’t tell me that now if she knew how God has blessed me in the friend department.

Actually, Mamma knew this best friend—the one for whom I bought the book. Caroline and I go back 22 years. old caroline and meI think. I’ve lost track. We met at church as kids and then we went to college together. We were RAs together. We have soooooo many fun and hard memories together. She was there when Mamma and Daddy died. She walked me to class so I wouldn’t be alone, always by my side as I struggled to navigate social situations. She got up with me in the middle of the night to play a prank on a friend, posting flyers all over campus that we had made advertising his singleness in a most unflattering manner (sorry, Kyle…). And when she got busted, she took the blame (to this day, I don’t know that anyone knew I was the mastermind/jerk behind that). We went on retreats together, drank our first margaritas together, had silly crushes on boys together. I mourned the death of her beloved brother five years ago with her. And then she moved back into town just as I was pregnant with my first baby.

Can a simple blog post explain how much a person means to another? No way. I can’t tell you what it means that Caroline is the most faithful friend. That she is always ready to drop everything to help someone she loves. That she painstakingly created a whole baby shower Blythe 076around Golden Books down to the smallest detail just because she knew I would love it. That when Baby #2 was coming quicker than we anticipated, she was ready to stay with our son overnight. That she is the friend I trusted to do that. And when Kara died, I opened my door one night to Caroline holding bags of groceries and snacks for the children.

Thoughtful. Loyal. Fun. Don’t even get me started on how generous she is and all that she’s given us over the years. She is a talented writer and historian. We can read literature together and discuss it on deep levels. We watch tear-jerkers and cry together; we watched our favorite the other night for about the 100th time.

Caroline is a social introvert. She is the best Dutch Bingo player I’ve ever met. She is meek and gentle when engaging others; however, she can be loud and irreverent and clever and hilarious. She is my funny friend, and whenever I need a laugh, she will deliver. She texts me one-liners from “The Office” and hilariously avoids using the word “moist.” We reference Seinfeld as though it were still on the air. If I say, “She smells like soup,” she’ll laugh with me. When she gets in a mood, she is cynical, but the best kind of cynical—snarky and sarcastic. She is delightfully snarky. But also encouraging.

I can’t tell you the amount of letters she has written over the years to love and support me. She has a gift for expression and edification, and she freely uses it to bless others. I tried to do the same for her, writing a sweet note to stick in the book I got her, but it wasn’t like hers. It fell so short, just like this post.

She is kind. Humble. Loving. Gentle. Funny.

This goodbye is hard. We’ve known for a year that it might be coming—that Caroline’s husband might be getting a job out of state. And now we’ve known for a couple of months that they are indeed moving. And then this morning Caroline and I set our goodbye date for this weekend. And I haven’t stopped crying.

God gifted me with this beautiful person, and now she is leaving. This is a lot of loss for my heart to handle. Thank God Caroline is not dying, but saying goodbye to a friend of 22 years feels unbearable. I texted my other oldest BFF because I knew she would understand. And she does.

How do I end this tribute to my dear Caroline? The same way I will say goodbye—trusting that Grace will meet us, Grace upon Grace.caroline and me

Remembering broken hearts on Mother’s Day

I have a mama in my life who is beautifully vulnerable. Who loves her children passionately and pursues them well. Who sends me texts about her fears and failures, who trusts me with her tears when she is sobbing after a rough mama day. I am honored to be trusted by her and to be a safe place for her. I love speaking truth into her life about her worth in Jesus, how well she is raising her children, and how hard we have to fight for grace and kindness in those dark moments.

She is my safe place, too. She understands the heart battles I face every day, and she is always available to remind me of God’s furious love for me. I love the mama-to-mama aspect of our relationship. I am praying that she will be well celebrated this weekend. And I am so grateful she has a family that appreciates and loves her and will shower her with adoration on Mother’s Day.

md4I just read the story of my friend’s friend’s baby who died in her arms after a short illness. I studied pictures of the beautiful child, clearly adored and desperately missed. Her mother’s heart poured out on her blog, wanting the whole world to know about this baby whom so few got to meet.

I have a friend who gave birth to stillborn twins last summer. Whose identity changed to Mother as soon as those girls were conceived, but whose loss is silent. No one on the street knows that she is a mother to those sweet girls who are waiting for her in Heaven. New friends have no idea that she aches with a mama’s heart to hold her children this Mother’s Day.

My sister-in-law has a silent loss, too. Seeing her adorable daughters in their coordinated outfits, no one would know that she is mother to a boy, too. Because Timothy is with Jesus.

And mamas who have suffered stillborns. The tragedy of never having seen their baby, much less held it. And yet they have an undying love for that child, and their perspective is forever changed because of that love and that child. md3Since my own mother died, I have been extra sensitive to people who don’t have mothers or who have mothers who have been hurtful and abusive. I think about what it is like for children to sit in school, their classmates working on macaroni picture frames and coupon books for free hugs, while they fight back tears and mentally prepare to just make it through the painful day. I once unkindly snapped at a saleswoman who suggested I buy a certain trinket for my mother for Mother’s Day; didn’t she realize not everyone has a mother?

md1I think about Kara’s sweet children and Jason, who has celebrated almost 14 years of Kara’s motherhood, and what Sunday will be like for them.

I pray for my friend whose family will gather at the cemetery, gracing their mother’s grave with flowers as they do every year.

So much brokenness. What do we do with it?

I actually don’t know. I don’t know how to love hurting people well. I try to show up—to be available, safe, kind, gentle. To listen to hearts and be a shoulder to cry on. I ask for stories about mothers who have gone to Jesus and babies whose cries and laughs can only be heard in their mothers’ hearts. I try to be present. But I fumble. I know that my efforts at comfort are clumsy.

It’s hard to trust hurting people to Jesus, to believe that He is Good and has Good intended for His children even in the midst of terrible loss. It’s hard to believe sometimes that God is near to the brokenhearted. It’s hard to trust instead of question God’s intentions and Sovereignty. And yet that is what we are asked to do. When I drop flowers off on Sunday for a friend—a mama—whose little one is in Heaven, I realize that the bigger act of love is trusting God with my friend’s broken heart and praying for His comfort. md2Let’s not overlook the hurting this Mother’s Day. Let’s remember sons and daughters who don’t have a mama, and let’s remember mamas whose sons and daughters are no longer here. Let’s pursue the hurting in love and grace, even when we’re clumsy and awkward. Let’s pray for the brokenhearted and ask God to help us trust his furious love. Let’s grieve together but choose hope over despair.

Tears and lovey blankets

It’s been a long time since I’ve written; writing so much for Mundane Faithfulness, I actually thought that I would use my personal blog to process my grief over Kara’s Homecoming. But the truth is that it’s just been too hard to write. I told some friends this morning that I feel like I’m on the remedial grief track; I feel behind and like I can’t find my new normal and like the whole world is figuring out how to move forward, one foot in front of the other, while I trip and fall down.5

The babies and I spent the morning at the Tippetts’. Mickey was in town this weekend, and the gals joined her for coffee. It was glorious to gather in Kara’s home and drink coffee and laugh and cry together. But then Jason tearfully asked us to undertake the task we knew was at hand: to go through Kara’s closet.

I was one of the last to climb the stairs. As I carried my daughter, I remembered helping Kara up those very stairs, even offering to carry her in her weakness. I stood in the doorway of her room. I looked at my friends crying and laughing and fingering mundane items that are now treasures.4

Several times in the last month I have come close to texting Jason: Can I come over and just peek in your bedroom? I need to be sure Kara isn’t there. But I don’t do it. It’s Jason’s private space and I know Kara isn’t there. But my heart still whispers that maybe this was all a dream. Maybe I’ll walk into the bedroom and she’ll be there, waiting for me, reaching out for Von.1

So I stood there today, and I couldn’t go in. This was my chance to tell my heart once and for all that Kara is Home, healed, redeemed. Instead, I made my way back downstairs. I entered the living room just in time to see some of the big kids send Von away—he was interfering in their play. Normally this wouldn’t bother him, but he melted into a puddle of tears. It was all too much for him. He had had the courage to go into that bedroom, and looking toward the bed, his eyes also missed what mine were afraid of missing. We sat and cried together.

After the shedding of many tears, we found Ella and Jason. Ella had something very special for Von—his favorite lovey blanket. When Kara was in the hospital the first time, Von asked to bring her a blanket. He had the idea that it would help her feel better. So he picked out his very favorite blankie, the first one he ever had as a baby, the one I’ve repaired over and over again. He proudly gifted Kara with it, and they snuggled together in the contentment of Von’s hope.2

He remembered as soon as he saw it, and he took it carefully. I reminded him that Kara couldn’t take it with her to Jesus’ house and she wanted him to have it back. He brought it close to his face, just like Kara did the first time she held it. And he didn’t let go all morning.3

These are not easy days. This is not an easy road.

While I was downstairs, my friends were selecting some things for me and put them in a fantastic bag of Kara’s. I love it. I love my friends’ thoughtfulness and compassion. I love that they gave me the freedom to have a meltdown while they did the hard work.

I keep pulling the items out of my bag and inhaling Kara’s scent. I don’t have the energy or heart for much more than that. But Grace is meeting me here. In my tears and heartbreak, God meets me. And he loves me just where I am in this brokenness.

The presence of Grace…

It’s four o’clock and I’m just sitting down. I’m group texting my girls. The ones I only know because of Kara and who have become the keepers of my heart through Kara’s illness and death. They are laughing with me, crying with me, and praying for me. My heart doesn’t understand their capacity to love me so big in the midst of their own grief. And when I think about their grief and the goodbye they each had to say, I am almost overcome.

Jason called yesterday shortly after Kara died. His voice was full of emotion and I knew he was fighting to just get the words out. After a short time, our phones went crazy. We spent the evening with our small group, beginning the process of grief together, and then we came home to full inboxes, textboxes, and voicemails. I was up late trying to get organized. Kara and I planned her service and the days following her Homecoming months ago; the moment I dreaded had arrived.

When I woke up this morning, my eyes were wet and my lids stuck together with gunky tears. I knew I had cried in my sleep, mourned in my sleep. I feel Kara’s absence in my bones. I think my DNA has changed and I’m a different person. My bones shout angry complaints of pain; they try to explain that they don’t have hearts and shouldn’t be asked to carry this burden. But my grief dwells deep. It has seeped into every part of me, and it aches.

I went to the Tippetts’ this morning. I took toilet paper and paper napkins and tissue and grieved as I handed it over that I knew to bring those things. I hugged Mickey and watched tears crawl down her soft cheeks. She has beautiful skin that I always want to touch to see if it’s as soft as I anticipate. I had never seen it wet with tears. Story Jane was playing in the kitchen. We raced Barbie cars together. And she told me that half of her was sad and half of her was happy. She dabbed at her nose a lot with a tissue through her sweet giggles, but I couldn’t tell if she had tears or a runny nose.

When Jason walked in, I hugged him big. He has this profound gift of being able to talk through tears, and as we talked, he wiped many away. Ruth played football with Lake outside. He proudly showed off his Peyton Manning jersey. Harper cuddled and giggled in a chair with Jason.

I had feared what being in a Karaless house would feel like. It was difficult. But though Kara is gone, Hope isn’t, Joy isn’t, Grace isn’t. Love still reigns in the Tippetts’ home, and I was comforted sitting where Kara sat the last time I was in that room with her.

My sisters text regularly to check in, to see how my heart is doing. I tell them I’m okay, that I’m trying to lean into Jesus. I am surprised that my heart seems to actually believe that Grace will show up, that Jesus is beside me. I picture Kara seeing His face for the first time—the delight she would have encountered. And I imagine that delight next to me, caring for me, holding me up.

kara and me

A home of grief and grace

I haven’t written in a long time, and several people have asked me about that. I guess on the practical side of life, I am busy. We’ve had colds, one baby has had pneumonia, and life is just full right now. But there is also a heaviness that weighs on us constantly, the heaviness of grief dancing like an elephant, clumsy yet powerful, above our heads as we straddle life and death with Kara.

It’s a strange position to be in; I don’t feel that it’s appropriate to inform everyone what lives in my heart now. When my hairdresser recently—and kindly—asked how I was doing, I fought the urge to burst into tears and tell him that one of my closest friends is dying. Instead I smiled and we chatted about other things.

Maybe it would have been okay to tell him—or others—about my sadness, but I’m not all that comfortable putting people in the position to have to respond. We spend our lives trying to pretend that friends don’t die, marriages don’t end, predators don’t prey. We like living in ignorance. Or at least, I do. It’s a fairyland of fake happiness rooted in the delusion that my sweet little life will always be sweet. Having been through my own tragedies, I am still caught off guard when others share theirs with me. I am jarred back into the reality that we are always straddling life and death. That one foot is on this earth dealing with pain and loss, and the other foot is inching toward eternity.

Jason recently wrote about the difficulty of dealing with the mundane in the midst of sorrow. It reminded me of when my parents died. My sister had called me at college, and I was driving home but needed to get gas. I am sure my face was swollen and red as I approached the attendant, who ignorantly gave me change and wished me a good night. I stood there staring at him. What a strange thing getting gas seemed to be all of a sudden. How petty and unimportant. I remember thinking, How can you just stand there like all is right in this world? Don’t you know my parents just died? How is the earth still turning?

I skimmed through the comments on Jason’s post. I was struck by how many people shared their stories of loss—spouses, parents, siblings, friends, children. Sad, horrible, gut-wrenching stories. Everybody eventually experiences loss. We all will inevitably know the pain of which Jason writes in some fashion.

So do I remain in my happy fairyland? That is my question every day. Shall I go through the motions and pretend, wish, that everything is okay? Or do I develop some kind of coping mechanism so that I can not only get through my days, but avoid as much pain as possible?

The other night I was talking to Aaron about the woman I hope to become. We all know women who seem disconnected from intimacy and community, unwilling to move toward people who are messy and ugly, women who are afraid of pain. I get that. I totally get that. But I don’t want to be that. I want to move toward the pain because that is moving toward Jesus. I want to engage grief, because that is engaging Christ. I want to accept the reality of a broken heart because that is accepting the reality of a God who loves me and who will ultimately wipe my tears forever.

One of the commenters said that her house is filled with “grief and grace”. I love that. There is a certain tender, deep, intimate grace from Jesus that meets us in the brokenness of grief. I want that grace. I want it to wash over my messy heart, to seep into the scabs of this new pain, to give me a glimpse of the grace that is to come.

I am sorry if this post is disjointed and if my thoughts are scattered. I want to honor those of you who have pursued me and asked me to write and who have asked me how I’m doing. Thank you for caring.

Grieving in community

Last night some Westside women joined me in my living room for a sweet hour of prayer. We prayed for Kara, Jason, their babies, their parents and family, friends, and everyone who is touched by Kara’s life. And then one of the ladies prayed for my baby boy, who is particularly attached to Kara. And I lost it; I cried the ugly cry, snot and tears mingling as they inevitably traveled to the corners of my mouth, the saltiness reminding me of bitter tears of grief shed in years past.   VonAndKara

I would say I’ve had my fair share of grief, which has taught me many life lessons, one being that there are few safe people in this world and just as few people who are willing to travel the long road of mourning with you instead of expecting you to get over it and move on with your life.

That is why what happened last night was impactful—never have I experienced grief in community, in unity with so many people.

Isn’t that why funerals, memorial services, receptions are important? They provide a place for all the mourners to be together to cry and laugh and process grief together. But then you all go home, you all have to figure out your new normal, and that unity tapers off as the texts and phone calls get fewer and farther between.

Yet as one of my closest, favorite friends moves closer and closer to her Homecoming, I find myself surrounded by people who are experiencing a grief just like mine. In fact, I can’t think of a single person in my immediate circle who doesn’t at least know of Kara and her story, who isn’t praying for her and praying for me.IMG_0945

Every day I get two kinds of emails or texts regarding Kara. One is people who don’t know her personally but want to know how she is doing and the other is people who want to know how they can love me in the midst of this awful goodbye.

What? This is new to me.

Texting with friends and my sisters, we talked about our tendency to withdraw when faced with such deep pain. When asked if I felt numb, I said, “I think there is an element of grief that numbs us out of necessity—there are so many practical things to do, and if I indulge my sadness, those things won’t get done. My tendency is to withdraw and bury my feelings just to survive.”IMG_0138

And while I pray against that—pray that I will move toward Jesus and Aaron, in particular—I am reminded that I can’t withdraw. I am not allowed. Too many people are reaching out to me every single day to love and encourage and care for me and my family. There is no way I can stuff my feelings away. My community won’t stand for that; they are instead standing by with open arms and generosity of heart.

So this is the Body of Christ. For years I’ve wondered what it would be like to experience such intimacy with my church. I would rather Kara stay with us than find out how wonderful it is to be loved so well by community. But this is our story, this is God’s story. Our communal grief is beautiful, awful, powerful, a game changer. Not only am I not the same person for knowing Kara, I will not be the same person for losing her (temporarily until I am reunited with her), and I will not be the same person for walking this road with our church family.IMG_1166

And so we clumsily, unitedly move toward each other in this suffering. We will cling to each other for breath when Kara has said goodbye, and we will numbly discover our new normal afterward as we continue to be faithful in the mundane, fighting for Grace in our grief.

Day-after reflections…

This post is dedicated to my brother, Benjamin, who graciously engages my clumsy attempts at pursuit, and who is always willing to talk about the deep stuff.

Would you laugh at me if I told you I cried reading an autoreply email today? I had signed a petition supporting Just Mayo (I’ll spare you the exciting details), and I got a confirmation email from the petition platform’s founder, Ben Rattray. He told me that by signing the petition, I had joined a community of 75 million people who have also used this social change platform. And then he said he couldn’t wait to see the change I create. And I choked back the tears; the email sounded so sincere that for a split second, I believed that Mr. Rattray was speaking just to me and that I had something important—something life-changing—to do, and he believed in me! Just for a split second.

But that revealed my heart: I need people to know me and love me and cheer me on.

And so do you.IMG_0862I am noticing the holidays so far this year are more exciting than I’ve ever experienced. My son is 2 now, and he is understanding just enough to make the excitement level in our house so contagious and infectious that I can’t remember how I ever celebrated with less joy. IMG_0865Thanksgiving was so fun that I left the spoils until this morning just so I could see them first thing and smile at the evidence of our night to remember. IMG_0879We shared Thanksgiving Day with three families we love dearly. Our relationship with each family is totally different, but it didn’t matter—we were all there because we love each other and wanted to share a special day with people who know us and love us and cheer us on. And in opening our home to them, we hoped to communicate that we want to know them and love them and cheer them on, too.

Picking the turkey late that night took me back to picking the turkey last year. I think I picked three turkeys, which provided a lot of thinking, praying, talk time. We had spent the day with Kara and her family and friends, and Kara was upstairs resting with my baby boy. VonAndKaraPeople were scattered, talking and laughing quietly while the kids played happily in the basement. I tried to shoo Kara’s mom out of the kitchen so she could get a break. And I rolled up my sleeves and started picking, picking, picking.

Jason wandered in, eager to help clean up after the massive feast. We chatted. I can’t tell you much about our conversation, but I can tell you he asked me what it was like for me to navigate grief through the holidays—how did I handle my parents’ absence?IMG_0877My back was to him, so he couldn’t see the tears swell up and spill onto the carcasses in front of me.

I didn’t cry because I missed my parents. I cried because my friend was reaching out to me in the midst of his own grief over the shattering news of his wife’s cancer. He was offering to know and safeguard a piece of my heart. And we both knew that at some point, though hopefully not for a very long time, he will be wondering how he himself will navigate grief through the holidays.IMG_0856That is a Thanksgiving memory I will always treasure, a moment in time where I felt known and loved and supported and safe. And that is the kind of intentionality that I want to have with the people in my life. Especially over the holiday season when so many emotions arise and when so many of us are extra fragile.IMG_0873How can I pursue, engage, protect, and delight others? How can I love well? How can I know, love, and cheer?IMG_0870