Kadey’s birthday week…

It’s Kade’s birthday week this week. It started yesterday, which was Easter Sunday, but I didn’t let myself dwell on that too much. We had eggs to fill and hide and anxious grandbabies coming to hunt them.

My youngest daughter, Belle, and I got up early yesterday morning and cleaned and cooked and cut flowers and picked out something pretty to wear. My husband mowed the yard and Belle’s boyfriend Ethan was on dog and trash patrol. We had a good morning.

Then company came, and we ate too much. Kyler declared the carrot cake I made from scratch to be the best one he ever ate. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and I tweaked it just a bit, it was pretty awesome.

We had put the dogs in our fenced in back yard and allowed them to access the screened-in backporch. At one point I looked over and four of them were on the couch I have out there, every nose pressed up against the wall sized window. They were sad and pitiful and I let them in.

So, four dogs and a two 1/2 year old and a five year old. Kids hopped up on chocolates and the dogs hopped up on kids. Picture taking and loud conversations over the racket in the house. I was loving it.

Then my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter proclaimed quite loudly, “Dere’s Tade!” I immediately looked at the door, still laughing at Belle and Karter, expecting him to walk through the door.

The struggle began.

Some of you might be thinking I misunderstood her. Or some of you might be wondering if Kade’s ghost is walking around in the house. (I’m sure of it some days 🙄😂)

Neither is the case, however.

I have an almost life-size black and white framed canvas of Kade and his bloodhound, Barlow, hanging on the wall in our living room. I ordered it the day after his services. My daughter in law, Kate, has used this small company in Texas to purchase a couple of canvases for her living room and they were so beautiful. So naturally, I decided to use this company. I ordered the largest size and when I mounted it to the wall, I noticed he was nearly life size and I had attached him to the wall where we were eye level. If I ever have something to say to Kade, I go to this picture and we talk it out. He was mostly silent during most of my rants in his lifetime so I just pretend we are still on that same wave length.

I was sinking fast. I was worn completely out and in a bit of pain and tired enough to sleep outside in the patch of rocks and mulch we have around the porch. So it didn’t take much to knock me over. Just a feather.

Kensley looked up and noticed this picture, not for the first time, and pointed him out. Naturally She loves her Unlcle Tade.

Continue reading “Kadey’s birthday week…”

My Savage Mind

I have been reluctant to post lately. I write about what I think about and right now I just think about Kade.

The reluctance is from worrying I might upset or offend someone. Or because I think people will just simply get tired of listening to my voice mourn. Tragedy scares people. Especially if it’s too close to home. We think, “What if we are next?” Or “If it happened to them, it could happen to me.” That causes people to shut you down or out. So I’ve just been quiet.

Today is a really bad day. The kind where I want to take a pill and go to bed. Asleep is safe and quiet.

You know when you go to the dentist and they numb your mouth and it feels like your lip is as big as that kid’s on Fat Albert? It’s really NOT big, it just FEELS huge. Sensation issues.

Today I’m having a sensation issue. I’m sad. Down. Beaten.

And I can feel it in my face. It feels like I slathered something all over my face and it’s made it swell and pull down. Picture gnomes with strings giving my skin the ol’ heave-ho. I can feel the corners of my eyes and lips turning down. (I’m not being dramatic this time, I promise)

That’s how wretched this is. Your face rebels against you. I can’t take too deep a breath, I’ll cry. I have no energy. It’s an effort to make the trip to the bed to go to sleep. And that’s what I want to do, sleep.

I had to fill out a questionnaire for a new counseling service and the questions were difficult.
-has my energy level changed
– has this affected my work or school situation
– do I feel shock
– do I feel guilt
– am I angry
– what’s my support system like
– am I angry
– am I confused
– am I numb
– am I hopeless
– am I sleeping too much/not enough
– has my eating changed

I began answering these and I stopped a minute. I had all of this before Kadey, it’s just much worse now. So, how do I answer this? It provided a scale from 0-4. Mine were mostly 4’s, which I am comfortable with right now. I could go higher up the scale had there been bigger numbers. I feel like I’m ‘supposed’ to feel this way right now, although I do know not everyone handles grief even remotely the same. But in my head, I feel how I’m supposed to feel. For this.

But what about before?

What about 6 months ago, before this hell?

Why was I on this scale at two’s and three’s before my heart was so broken.

After I filled that out and emailed it back to my new counselor, I started cleaning our bedrooms. Stripping beds, sweeping, dusting, lighting candles, feeding Jud and cleaning out his cage. I got incredibly busy pretty quickly. Then I wondered about that.

After a lot of soul searching….that’s a lie.

I turned my mind toward a couple of issues and God put it on my heart right now.

Why am I all of a sudden so busy? Where did this energy come from? This motivation?

I did all of the things above in about forty minutes and I didn’t think about anything but my next step and wallpaper and craisins. I had turned my mind off. I didn’t want to wonder why I felt like maybe I was a mess before Kade. I was no longer dwelling on Kade at all for a bit. It was all about me. So I got busy. Tasking. That fills your mind up.

My lack of energy and motivation and sadness are all linked to Kade right now. If I fill my mind with something else, my flaws, my ‘depression’ I quit thinking about Kade. I’m knee deep in my own self-perceived failures. That takes up SO MUCH room in my head when I camp there, that it blows my son right out of my mind. This was all subconsciously working, but the Holy Spirit had gotten hold of something and he wouldn’t let go. So I had to start thinking instead of pushing it away.

So why am I, a basically happy person, answering such high scores on a depression scale and thinking to myself, “I was like this before, just not so bad”?

It took about three minutes to come up with an answer, and two of those were shushing the dogs up so I could think.

Multiple Sclerosis. This insane disease that has ravaged my mind and body. Over the last six years, I have sunk deeper and deeper into depression and didn’t even realize it until I had to put it down on paper.

On one hand, it’s crazy what your mind will protect you from. In the other, it’s crazy how deep your mind will let you be in denial.

It’s also amazing how when faced with another tragic circumstance, you can immediately shut down all thinking and have no idea you’re doing it. That is, until the Holy Spirit’s biff thunks you a couple of times. Once He has hold of you, He won’t let go of your mind and emotions, your soul, until you give in or deny Him entry all together. I don’t deny anymore. I did for years and years. Then I figured out the funniest thing. It’s easier to give in! Who’d have thought? You think that closing your mind off to hurtful things, things that require steadfastness and growth, will protect you. Obviously it won’t. (You can use me in your example of foolishness in your paper or sermon) I learned a few years ago, it’s so much easier to accept than dismiss. He’s the only one that knows what’s happened, happening or will happen. So you have to just listen.

I had clamped down on the way the MS was truly affecting me. I had (partially) been successful in hiding that from myself. I’m sure everyone around me knew, idk, I haven’t asked them yet.

I’m going to have to dig all of this up. Which would be overwhelming to me even without Kade. So I’m kind of scared. I don’t really want to do anymore soul-searching right now. But apparently I HAVE TO. Because once God has his hand on my heart about something, I have learned I have to face it.

That kind of makes me mad, it’s like, ‘Hey God, NOW? REALLY? Haven’t you been paying attention to the horrible shame my mind is in right now?! Then you threw this on the pile?! Really?!”

Yes. He does. That’s my flesh talking and sometimes you want to smack your flesh around a little. Or many times, I guess. The point is, He does know. He knows it must be the exact right time for it or He wouldn’t have biffed me.

My face is still sagging sensationally. (Oh brother) I’m still sad, so so sad. But my bedrooms are clean. Always look for the silver lining.

I start counseling tomorrow at the Center For Good Grief at NEA Baptist. We have supported them monetarily since they started the center. I am always humbled by things like that. Thanking God I don’t need their services, I’ll help those who do. Now I’m in the latter category and I’m even more humbled and thankful.

Keep praying for our family. Keep praying for Elizabeth. We are all struggling right now. His date is right around the corner, then his birthday on the heels of that. It’s like a weighted blanket, so heavy there is no throwing it back. You’re just stuck under it, hot outside, cold inside and nauseous all the time. We need your intercession. Thank you for reading this and taking note of us.

Oh, and I’ve decided not to be quiet anymore. About my Heath issues or Kadey. It’s my voice and I should be able to use it. No, no one has ever said anything or eluded to their distaste. This is all something I’ve worked up in my own mind. That’s something else your flesh wants to do, listen to the enemy. I find great comfort in writing, so the devil wants to kick that idea right out of my head. What better way than a big dose of self doubt with a sprinkle of ignorance.

Thank you for being my perpetual reader. 💙 Stay with me as I walk through this valley.

Kadey

My children went to a private Christian School for a large part of their lives. Belle didn’t get to experience that and Kyler got just a few years. Kendall and Kade got the most.

Kendall was in the fifth grade when Kade started preschool. The school was in the same building as our church, which we had all spent our entire lives in. It was a large congregation and we were friends with most, familiar with the rest. This was a home for us. My parents and grandparents attended church there, as well as most of Bill’s family. My point is, this wasn’t a strange place or a ‘new’ place.

Kade was petrified. I would drag him to his classroom, screaming the whole way. Him, not me. (yet) Kennedy would be skipping along, happy as a lark and I had Kyler on one hip. We would be at the door to the classroom and I’d be juggling Kyler while trying to pry Kade’s fingers off of the door jam. He had a death grip on it and he’d be wailing like I was leaving him forever. The teacher would finally be free to help me and we would finally loosen Kade’s grip enough to yank him free and drag-walk him to his chair. Meanwhile, Kennedy would have taken his place at the U-shaped table and would be happily waiting on the morning snack to be handed out. We’d get Kade to his desk and then I’d then I’d have to drag Kennedy out of the room, screaming and crying to stay. This went on every day for two years of pre-school and kindergarten year. I cried a lot.

This mortified Kendall. He was quiet, reserved, disciplined and respectful. Kendall was a good student and very social. His screaming little brother was something that made him cringe.

When they were in first and seventh grade, they took their lunch every day. I packed awesome lunches 😂 One day Kade went to ‘check on his lunch’ , something he did a lot, and his lunch box was empty. Omg the hysteria that followed. 🙄🙄

Kade didn’t report this to his teacher. Oh, no. He snuck out of his classroom and went looking for Kendall. Kendall’s class was on the opposite end of the building and upstairs. Kade couldn’t find Kendall’s classroom so he just started screaming Kendall’s name. The teacher came out to see what all the commotion was about and Kade was in full-blown panic mode. He refused to go back to class and just clung on to Kendall. They escorted Kendall and squalling Kade to the office to call me. I went and picked the little one up, the big one wanted to go back to class. He was red-faced in anger and embarrassment. I was trying to comfort them both and sort of trying not to sit down and cry.

I went to church camp at Camp Indogan in Angola, Indiana. I went every year from about third grade to my sophomore year. Most years I went twice. I loved this.

When it came time for my kids to go, I was so excited. Kendall went first, then when the younger kids were going, he was in an older group. But the three middle kids all went together. Their friends were there. My cousin, Tana, who we have always been extremely close to, was one of the counselors. Kade lost his mind. The first year he went, he got the ‘Where’s my brother’ award. Kennedy and I have talked about this recently. She said she was embarrassed by him making such a fuss. He cried all the time and clung to both her and Kyler. They wanted to have fun, Kade was miserable the whole time.

And we made him go. I thought it would be good for him. I had no idea what was going on in his mind.

Kade struggled in school. He learned differently and none of us knew it. He was treated by his teachers in Indiana and by Bill and I like a little trouble maker. He stayed in trouble at school. We eventually placed the kids in public school. It declined rapidly for Kade. He started fighting. He was so angry. He was expelled his seventh grade year.

We made the decision to move to Arkansas. Academically, this was the best decision we made for Kade. He went to school in Tuckerman. Many of the teachers there had been Bill’s teachers when he was young. Kade was a SODEN. And that meant something in our community. He was suddenly proud. He still got into trouble for fighting, so we got him involved in MMA. He could punch anyone he wanted, as long as they agreed.

When Kade was grown, we talked about his issues from his childhood. His explanation for his actions, his reasons, took all the breath from me. We had no idea the damage we were causing.

His whole life was fear led. If he wasn’t with me by a certain time each night, he knew I’d die. If he didn’t turn the light on and off a certain number of times or touch the doorknob or wash his hands, or tap his head or close a door, all seven times, I might die. His fear was attached to me. And we were pushing him into the nightmare.

He explained that when I left him at school, he would think about me being in a car crash on the way home. When he went to church camp, it was a terrifying week of waiting on someone coming to him to tell him I was dead. That’s why he always wanted to be with Kyler or Kennedy, so he wouldn’t be alone when he found out his mom was dead. He hated staying at my Mother’s house, wouldn’t stay with friends. Even as a teen, eighth and ninth grade, he would start off staying the night with someone, but 90% of the time, he would call me and have me come and get him.

Of course we had no idea. He had great teachers who had no idea. We didn’t talk about mental illness in children. There was no Facebook or Instagram or any other kind of social media. The internet was expensive dial up and I certainly wouldn’t have known what to search for on the World Wide Web.

We just told him to straighten up, man up, shut up, do it, do it, do it. And when he failed, in his eyes at nearly everything, we asked him over and over again, “What is WRONG with you?!?!” I couldn’t understand why he could just get his shit together. Neither could he. And all he heard was “You’re failing”

By the time I understood, it appears it was too late. All roads point to my failure of Kade.

And I tried so hard to be a good mom. Kade thought I was the best mom. He told me all the time. Because what he remembered was the mom who played games and introduced old movies and made iced sugar cookies and bought him all the art supplies he wanted and sung him sweet songs real low, where he had to be so quiet and still to hear me.

I was a good mom. But it didn’t matter. Because I didn’t have the right information, the right tools, the right things to say. Until he was twenty. Then I never shut up. And we worked so hard and I prayed so hard.

I think when your mind tells you ugly things all the time, it’s too hard to decipher it all. Kade saw nothing good about himself and he couldn’t imagine how you could either. He was so full of shame, regret, remorse. He couldn’t function. He couldn’t catch up and grab on. He couldn’t figure life out because all his ears heard were lies in which he was a failure.

I have regrets. That’s normal when a family goes through this. But I know a purpose can rise from this. It would make Kade feel proud that his story might help someone. That’s what spurs me on. Good from bad. God help me.

Teach your children about the Holy Spirit, our helper. You won’t always be with your child, the Helper will. Teach them what an intimate relationship with God looks like. And if you don’t understand your child’s behavior, dollars to donuts, your child doesn’t either. That’s a red flag. Go get some help. If the first place you land on doesn’t work out, don’t quit. Dig.

I wish I would have.

Please continue to pray for our family. The loss keeps getting heavier for some of us. The weight is suffocating. We need your intercession.

#kadesmom

Kadey

Kade had colic beginning at about six weeks old until he was nearly four months old. You could set your watch by it. He started screaming at 6:00 pm and stopped at 9:00 pm. Every night. It scared Billy Don and I so badly when it started, we thought something must be terribly wrong with him. Bill would take our older son, Kendall to Dairy Queen each evening and they would eat inside then go to the park or on long rides, maybe go visit the Grandparents. It was summer and we lived in an old farm house from the 1800’s that the farmer Bill worked for furnished as part of his pay. It was a neat old house with lots of floor to ceiling windows in every room. It had tall ceilings and real hardwood floors. And no air conditioning. I lost every bit of my pregnancy weight in two months. Sweating and walking. Sometimes I cried too. It was exhausting.

Kade was a trying child. He was curious as a cat and was forever getting into something or creating messes or scaring us to death.

He emptied an entire can of comet all over the bathroom one day while I was changing my sheets. It took me more than an hour to clean it all up. When I finished, I took all of the towels, washcloths and rugs and shook them out outside the back door then put them in the wash. When I got back in the bathroom, he had done the exact same thing with a whole container of Johnson and Johnson’s powder. I sat down in the middle of a fog of talcum and cried. Then got up and cleaned it again.

He drove Nana’s car into the side of her house when he was three. It pushed the wall of her bedroom in several feet. Kendall was in the backseat and never even looked up from his book. I cried hysterically at the thought of what might have happened and didn’t.

He hid in the dog house when he was about four and when I went running to the phone to call the police after several minutes of panicked searching, he came out and said, “Here I am Momma!” I paddled his butt and bawled the whole time I did it.

He got stuck in the clothes dryer because he thought it would be funny to hide from me and shut the door behind him. I found him by following his hysterical cries that time. This time I laughed instead of cried.

He started talking about ‘bad guys’ when he was three. He was afraid to go anywhere. We were cautious about what the kids watched and listened to. We still have no idea why Kade was always scared.

Kade had a terrible temper. He got mad at Kendall when they were four and ten. Kade chucked a rock at Kendall because he was provoked in some way and Kendall fell off his bike and broke his arm.

He took a stick and ran it down both sides of both of our neighbor’s cars and left nice, deep scars the length of the cars.

The strange thing was, he was always startled he was in trouble. Most of the time he couldn’t figure out why anyone was mad at him. He wasn’t malicious or pernicious. He was curious and inquisitive. He just wanted to ‘see what would happen’ in almost every scenario I’ve described.

He was also the sweetest baby you’d ever have the privilege of holding. He hugged on everyone he met. He said, “I love you Momma” or Sis, or Kendall or Daddy or Kyler. He wanted to nuzzle in beside you and just be held.

And he wanted to please. That lasted his lifetime.

It wasn’t until Kade was eight that I really noticed the different way he handled things, felt things, thought about things. That’s when the fear he never escaped escalated into something that was a hindrance to him. That’s when the OCD really started. I don’t know if it started before then, that’s just when I remember noticing small things that, at the time, I didn’t understand at all. I had no idea what was happening.

That’s when the anger began to rear its head.

That’s when I realized that Kade wasn’t just ‘ornery’, something else was going on.

Unfortunately, these things weren’t even on most people’s radar at that time. No one spoke about this stuff. I don’t know if others talked about childhood depression, OCD, anger issues. At school he just got into trouble and at home he got more of the same.

I had four children, a bad marriage, a business to help run. I had no idea what I was doing. And I was doing my best. I know that in every fiber of my soul. I tried so hard at everything. But I was lost and floundering. The chaos between my husband and I created a space that left my children feeling so insecure. I just couldn’t see the forest. I certainly couldn’t see Kade. Not the way I wish I would have.

Kade always just had a hard time.

The one thing I think made Kade’s life nearly impossible was that he couldn’t feel love. He always felt unworthy and left out and unloved. If you know our family, if you know me and what kind of mother I tried to be, you’d think I was just pulling that out of my behind. The thing is, what I know now, it wasn’t my parenting, it was Kade’s brokenness. I didn’t know he was broken and it wasn’t addressed at all. Not for years.

We created the perfect storm for Kade’s ending. He was reeling and we had no idea.

When I finally figured out something was seriously wrong, he was a teen and it was like trying to shut the door on the barn after the horse was out.

Next week I’m going to talk about what school was like for Kade. He struggled so much.

I’m hoping that these steps I’m writing about will help me understand and come to terms about Kade’s death. I’m praying it will help me put the puzzle pieces together just a little bit. Or God willing, a lot.

Kade had mental health issues from a very early age and I had no idea. Hindsight is 20/20. That’s the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever had to dwell on. What I didn’t know then that I know now. It leaves me wretched and fractured. Please pray for me.

I’m also praying these will help someone else. Trigger something about someone you love because you recognize them in what I write about my sweet son.

He was, just my sweet son. Being here without him is an anguish that’s unexplainable.

Thank you for sharing in this with me. I hope you continue to walk through Kade’s story with me. Please share these. This is part of the good from the bad for me. Trying to help someone else.

kadesmom #mentalhealthawareness

#kadesstory

I’m going to be writing a series about Kade. About his life. About all of the signs I missed that his brain was wired wrong. About all toxic things he had to go through. This will most likely be uncomfortable to read at times. But his story deserves to be told and I deserve the chance to tell it.

Kade ended his life. He had something wrong with him way before that. He was broken, in a sense. And I didn’t know it. We just all thought he should get his s**t together. At every stage in his life. And that’s what we told him.

And now here I sit. Without my son. Some of you will recognize yourself in these musings. And that’s all they are, a grieving mother trying to make his death count for something. Because maybe you have a Kade. And maybe this will help you.

I’m going to try to post every Friday, if I’m late it’s because I’m a little insane that day. But if you are my friend on here, on either my page or my Inkwell Swimmer page, please share this. His story deserves to be heard. All of it.

I’m doing this for Kade but I’m also doing for anyone who loves someone who took their own life. I think there is help out there but out mental health system is so broken. Also, people discount people with mental issues. We did.

I hope you’ll be here for Kade as we begin the narrative of my sweet, sweet boys life.

In honor of those who lost the fight, or maybe they won it. We will see.

Doubt

I have written a few times about what I’m going through in my life right now. Dealing with my son’s shocking death is overwhelming, at best.

I’m desperately hanging on to the corner of Jesus’s robe, just begging for relief.

I speak of my faith. But something else keeps belly crawling in.

I was going to get ready for bed just now and the devil started in on me. I know it was that liar’s pants that were on fire because I started to doubt.

Not God….. Me. I’m doubting me.

There is something at work in me. God is stirring something up. I don’t know what it is. I haven’t figured it out or He hasn’t told me or I’m not listening or I’m not ready. I don’t KNOW. But I doubt it. Already.

I was in the hospital last week for five days. Things started going hysterically wrong with my body. For those of you that don’t know, I have Multiple Sclerosis. I had a FaceTime appointment with my doctor and I listed the approximately thirty-two ridiculously painful and unnerving symptoms I was having. I cried most of the time. I’ve had this doctor for six years, all through the MS diagnosis and all that followed. He works at the hospital with my husband, so we have a very familiar relationship. As he sat waiting patiently for me to gain some control, I fought for the words to tell him about Kade. He knows Kade, just a nodding acquaintance. Kade has gone with me to so many appointments and stayed at the hospital with me so many times. I find this the hardest thing right now. Telling people. I told him for two reasons, really. He cares and I know that the emotional stress and pain I’ve been in for three months, has most likely contributed, if not caused, this flair I knew I was in.

He reeled back when I told him. Actually leaned back in his chair and put his hand on his chest. He gasped my name and then put his head in his hands. Wheh he recovered, he told me we were doing a direct admit, high dose steroids and an MRI. He asked me if there was anything he could do. Everyone is so kind to ask that and I almost feel guilty when I tell them there’s nothing anyone can do. Except God .

So I’m back home now. And worn out. Being in the hospital will wear you out. I do, indeed, have a new lesion. It’s actively eating the covering on the nerves in my brain. It’s very small, which is good. However, it has caused a lot of trouble. It’s in the right frontal lobe. I named it Kade.

Mourning and being sick has brought me way down. Right now I am not able to do much else but survive. I desperately pray all the time. My mind is just a constant thread of emotional pleading with God. Help me, please. I know the Holy Spirit will intercede and I know God knows my heart. I write prayers down in my journal, mainly because my mind is such a dervish that if I’m just thinking or talking, I get so lost. Even these scribblings are a jumbled mess, but I’m trying.

I know God is working in my life, my family’s lives. I believe that with my soul. It’s what I’m hanging on to. I can’t imagine not believing God in a time like this. It’s the only thing that helps. It’s something I trust. The only thing I trust, my faith.

But a seed of doubt has been planted. I’m trying to root it out. I KNOW better. But I’m vulnerable right now. My heart is weary. I’m so tired. I miss my son so much I can’t see much else. I catch myself just throat deep in ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t evers’. I feel like I’m supposed to start on a road, a venture. When I let myself relax and think about it, my head and heart are so filled with apprehension and uncertainty. It’s another layer of heaviness added to the pall I’m already under.

See, the enemy has watched me. Studied me. Listened to the careless words I’ve spoken. He’s invested in tripping me up. So when I’m tired and so sad it’s like a bitter pill, when I’m homesick for my sweet son…..he starts leaking in a stream of hesitation. The crazy thing is, I KNOW THIS!!! If someone else were to tell me this was happening to them, I would KNOW what to SAY!! I could counsel them about what to do and how to do it. But when it’s you, when you are the vulnerable one, you can sink before you remember you know how to swim.

I’m fighting right now. So many things. I’m more depressed than I’ve ever been. I’m mad, sad, tired. It’s a physical difficulty not to just sit and scream some moments. Or hours. Or days.

I’m also fighting to be better. I’m fighting to see clearly. I’m fighting doubt.

I know that’s what I have to do. And I’m tellin ya, trying to fight for anything right now sometimes leaves me in a ball of tears on the couch. Sometimes I can’t get up. Sometimes I just want to sleep. I was doubting the choice to give in to such horrible sorrow. I found the grace to be able to accept that sometimes I just need to grieve. HOWEVER I need to grieve.

Now I have to find the grace to believe in me. Just writing that down made me cringe. It’s sounds so hokey. So Oprah or Dr Phil. But you see, that’s another lie. That’s what the walking dude wants me to think this is. A bad cliche.

It’s not. It’s a calling to believe what God says about me. It’s funny how the bad things are easier to believe. But I’m going to fight for this. Even when I want to throw a lamp at the wall. Even when I want to pull all my hair out of my head. Even when I think I can’t go on one minute longer. I can, you see. I can because God has firmly planted himself and I am seated next to Him. I am still most likely going to have these doubts, but I have enough faith in my Father, and myself, to erase the doubt and replace it with grace.

Grace: Unmerited favor. Thank God for grace.

Keep us in your prayers. I’m going to finish my coffee and go to bed.


Geography

2020 was a booger.

I said booger instead of a string of curse words because I’ve been asking God to help me tame my tongue. There are days when I think the only way that will be accomplished is if He pulls it out. I have a flair for dirty words and I like to say them. So I’m working on that diligently.

So I chose the word booger, you can interject your word in if you think it’s more appropriate.

It was a booger way before October 17th, that date just put things in complete perspective. I wish now my biggest problem in life was wearing a mask and/or staying home. Perspective.

I keep saying, “I’ll be so glad when this year is over.” I’ll be glad when this year is a memory, an afterthought, dust.

This morning, as I was listening to a lesson on God’s word, the Holy Spirit smacked me around a little. He does that, you know. I liken it to that biff on the back of the head you got from an upper classman on the school bus. The unexpected flick that causes you to duck your head and brings tears to your eyes. Sometimes tears of pain, sometimes of humility.

When my kids were young, I would tell them to pick up their things. Socks, dishes, toys…whatever. And they would quickly pick it up, but instead of putting it where it went, they would just move it to another spot. I’d tell them, “That’s just geography.” All they did was make it travel from one location to the next but the mess was still there. Geography.

And then they had to do it right. Usually with an eye roll or a foot stomp, sometimes with mouthy words that brought out a Tracey Soden episode. But they still had to do it again, and sometimes again after that. Until it was right.

2020 has been a booger. And 2021 is so close now we can see the ball being raised.

But the challenges and the heartbreak will still be there on January 2. All the ‘fresh start’ I beg for is still going to be marred by the absence of my son.

So what do I do with that. That’s what woke me up this morning at 4:00. That’s what I’ve been chewing on. What now? Where from here?

I’ve picked up my sadness and depression and I just keep setting it down in different places. Moving it from obstacle to obstacle with no end in sight. It’s just geography.

God’s plan for me isn’t despair. I have suffered the greatest loss you can experience. I am not going to wonder around for 40 years looking for an answer. I have to pick my cross up and figure out what to do with it. Not because it’s a New Year. But because that’s what God expects me to do.

I know he will make a way for me. I know part of that is going to SUCK. It’s sucks right now. There are so many days I wake up and wish I hadn’t. Meals I cook that remind me of Kade, favorite foods that he would have asked for Ken to drop by on his way to work. Movies and tv series that I can’t bare to watch. The Stand series just dropped and I was so excited to talk to him and Kendall about it. He was in the middle of reading The Hobbit and I’ll never get to talk to him about it. I have an emptiness and I have all of this pain.

Like it or not, I’m going to drag that into this new year. The country is still in turmoil. Covid. Job loss and financial hardships. Fear and uncertainty. All of that is going to trudge right along behind us as 2020 becomes 2021.

But what are you going to do with it?

I know what I WANT to do with it. I have a plan. I have things I’ve resolved to do or not do. I do every year. I make a list…

Then tear it up about January 15th in defeat.

So this year my plans are to pray and listen. That’s it. Just those two things.

Then follow through with the help of the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to just keep picking all of this up and putting it down in a different spot. That’s just geography.

I don’t know if 2021 will be better in any of the areas we are struggling in. In fact, maybe it will get worse.

But in this chaos, there is opportunity. You can keep picking up the negative and laying them down where you must pick them up again.

Or

You can pick them up and listen to what God wants for you to do with them.

The hardship will still be there, but I have faith that peace will surround it. Hope will follow.

I have peace about Kade . I know where he is and that he is whole. My hope is that in my grief, something good comes of it.

And even though 2020 was full of so much heartbreak for so many, there was also incredible blessing.

May your 2021 be full of blessings. May your heartache turn to healing. May your peace and joy outshine your sadness. May your prayers be full of Thanksgiving.

But may your life be full of the Father and His Son and your companion, the Holy Spirit. No matter what year it is. Pick it up and put it where God directs you, then you won’t have to pick it up again.

That’s what new really is.

Christmas

We made the decision early on that Christmas would be super different this year because of the COVID situation. We decided to forgo the big, traditional gatherings we usually have.

We have several ‘Christmas’ days to accommodate everyone’s schedules. We chose a long time ago to be the ‘easy’ house when it came to when you could come and see us.

I had no idea how different this year would be. How difficult this year would be.

Even though we decided to keep our distance this year, we decided to go ahead and have our annual Pancakes and Pajamas party at Kyler’s house. This was the only time in the last few years that we were all able to be together at the same time. It was the last Christmas-time function that all except Kendall were there for.

I’ve been dreading this day. Just such a heaviness about us all being there without Kade. I woke up and there has just been a wet blanket on my whole morning.

Then someone said, “Things will just never be the same, this has broken your family”

And I got defensive.

It’s true. Things will never be the same. A hole has been torn in the fabric of our family. This has broken our family.

But we won’t stay broken. God promised me in His word. He has assured me that anything I’ve lost, anything that’s been taken, anything that has been unfair

He’s going to put that all back.

And maybe not here, but absolutely there.

I know he will give me things daily to be thankful about and joyful over.

But I have to expect them, then watch for them. Expectation is faith. I have the expectation of God’s work in my life, which shows Him I have faith in Him.

I’ve been working really hard on what I allow my mind to dwell on. I pray about that more than anything right now. What sets up a tent in my brain. Thoughts lead to emotion. There has to be a thought before there is an emotion. So I’m constantly careful about what’s happening up there.

So I’ve let dread take hold for a few days. Because of all the ‘hole’. And this morning was pretty rough.

Then I was doing my hair and God started talking to me. Or rather, I began listening. I got 28 Christmases with my son. They were filled with fun and joy and love and stress and orneriness and yelling and laughing and so much wonderful. We are all so close and we all have such a good time together.

I want that to all continue for the rest of us.

And I know I’ll not have my son back here, but I also know God will bless me so abundantly and He will send things to me to lessen this blow. He will treat me with gentleness and soothe my heart and soul.

So I’m changing the way I’m looking at today. We will all still get to spend the day together, and we have added touches to ensure Kade is with us in spirit. I thank God on my knees every day that I still have so much. Many don’t.

I will be looking for blessings today. Things that I know were sent to me to make me smile and have a moment of just pure joy.

Continue praying for all of us. Your intercession is something we simply must have.

Merry Christmas from the Soden Family. Thank you for all so many of you have done these last two months. It speaks so highly of everyone’s feelings about our sweet Nathan Kade Soden.

Repeat the sounding joy 🌲

and it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all…..

Today has been a bad day. I have bad days a lot, but today has been a doozy. 😳

Yesterday I finally started Christmas shopping. I can’t buy for Kade this year, so we need to camp out there a minute.

I was sending out a group text and because I have so many kids and almost kids, I always do it by age. Kendall, Kade, Kennedy, Kyler, Belle. Then I add on Katelyn and Whitney and Ethan. I’ve just always done it like this.

I was making Christmas lists, because that’s what I do. Again, by age and with significant others and children.

I’m trying to make menus for our parties and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I list everyone’s favorites, they each have an “I want…..!!!” And they all get it.

This year, each step, each list, each present

There’s this HOLE

I can’t fill it in, it’s not finished being dug up yet, I don’t think

I don’t want to do it differently so it’ll be easier. It won’t be easier just because we scrambled things up differently this year.

I’m super angry today. I’ve been reading a lot and talking to a few close friends who have had to go through this hell and I know now that I’m allowed to be mad. Thank God, cos I am.

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to not have him here. It makes me almost insane some times. I don’t know what to do with all of the emotions.

I started a new thing yesterday, journaling in an app about my “pain number” several times a day. It’s too soon for that I think, because I just want to throw my phone. Seems like a good indication I’m not there yet.

What I’m slowly feeling today, is that my focus is on the secular part of Christmas. I have felt a not-so-gentle nudge all afternoon to turn my focus to Jesus and what his birth meant for me.

So I’m taking a hot bath and I’m going to scramble some eggs and I’m going to settle back into reading the gospels. Kennedy, Belle and I had a plan to read Luke this month and I’ve been letting myself get so overwhelmed that we haven’t even started. I’m going to tonight.

Focus on what counts, the rest is just a distraction from your loved ones and the One who loves you.

I’m sure this is why I’ve lost my footing, I’m not seated next to “the reason for the season” (I absolutely hate when people say that 🙄😉)

Writing this has calmed me down and sometimes just saying the things you know, but have forgotten or ignored, will change what your heart can stand.

I have found out a heart can be so broken you don’t think you’ll survive it. I thought I knew heartache, I didn’t.

But.

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth again you will bring me up” Psalms 71:20

Pray for me. Pray for my other children. Pray for their father and step-father.

Reflect on your children. I wish my biggest problem was what I couldn’t get Kade for Christmas.

Search for what matters ❤️

Hope In Incredible Loss

When I found out about Kade, when they said the words, “This is not survivable”, I passed out. I don’t remember anything between those anguishing words and being on the hospital floor, a nurse putting a pillow under my head and someone, seemingly far off, asking me if I knew my name. I remember saying, “Well yes, it’s Tracey” then the anguish flooded back in and I remember wishing for unconsciousness again.

Then I started praying and touching my boy. I ran my hands all over him. I uncovered his feet so I could rub them. I finally, at my husband’s insistence, sat in a chair that had been pulled up next to his bed and I laid across his shoulder and stroked the part of his hair that had escaped the bandage engulfing his head.

At this point, I’m sure you’re imagining some sort of hysteria happening. There was none. I talked to God. I silently begged and bargained with God. However, I felt the presence of God so heavy on my heart and I knew in all certainty that Kade was going to leave us. I heard no thunderous voice from Heaven, but the Holy Spirit communicated very clearly with me on this matter. Once God told me that he was taking Kade, I had this supernatural peace that I cannot even hope to explain.

I kept that incredible sense of peace for about two weeks. I kept saying, “This is the craziest thing! I know where Kade is, I know he’s not hurting anymore. He’s whole and perfect.” And I was HAPPY for Kade. He was a tormented person, he had been his whole life. That was over for Kade. He wouldn’t ever suffer again. The peace from that was overwhelming. Kade was peaceful for the first time, probably ever. I have often said, that Kade came out scared and mad and stayed that way. I even said it facetiously at times. To HIM! 🙄😂 But it was a hard truth that we all had to deal with. Kade was always unsettled and he was now settled. And I had this warm blanket of well-being surrounding my heart and soul and I was good.

And then….. the enemy went to work.

It started Halloween night. We were taking the grandchildren around to the trunk-or-treats in town and we passed the graveyard.

Bill had bought a beautiful bench for us to sit on when we visited Kade. We took all of the flowers from the graveyard except those sent by his graduating class. They were school colors, red and white, and the bouquet was huge. It was standing where his headstone would eventually be.

And I looked over, and for the first time, I thought, “My son is dead and that’s where he is buried” 

It knocked the wind out of me. I was sitting in the car with the kids and I didn’t want to spoil the fun the littles were having so I just kept swallowing and breathing.

The following two weeks have been a living hell. The devil went to work in overdrive. I have been in a constant stream of prayer day and night.

I began to cry. I had cried at the beginning, of course. But not like most would imagine. The girls would say to me, “You’re being so calm, it’s scaring us.” I would talk to them about this peace I had and I was so amazed and thankful and quiet in my soul. That seemed to be gone. It left as quickly as it came. At least, that’s what I thought.

I began to have awful thoughts. I began to question if Kade indeed, went to Heaven. I was concentrating wholly on his absence. How horrible the ache of missing him was. Kade and I were very close, as I am with all of my children. But of the three boys, Kade was the one who I talked to every day, several times a day. We talked each morning while he was getting his workday started. We talked about what he was cooking and we FaceTimed in the grocery store so he could plan meals and ask advice on what to get. We FaceTimed when he was cooking, or when his dog, Barlow was being cute. He called me to tell me what he and Elizabeth were planning for the weekend. We talked when he was sick, or happy, or mad, or sad. Our days were intertwined. It has always been like that with us. And what a blessing for me to have now. Except I couldn’t see the blessing, just the inconceivable void that was there now. A black hole of despair had taken over and I was drowning it.

Then guilt set in. I felt guilty that I was having such a horrible time. My peace was gone. The enemy told me if I had more faith, I wouldn’t be this inconsolable. I felt my peace was gone because I didn’t believe enough. I was ashamed of myself for crying all the time, for not wanting to do anything but sleep. Shame or no shame, that’s what I started doing. Napping became an escape from the horrors that faced me when I was awake.

I couldn’t watch tv, or listen to music, or read. I didn’t want to cook or clean. And all of this sounds normal, considering the circumstances and the depression surrounding the loss of a loved one. But I couldn’t see that. I saw failure. My faith had left me, that’s where my hangnail was. I was doing something wrong or I’d still feel that peace-honey that I’d been bathing in.

I finally broke down a few nights ago and trusted Ken with my secrets. The guilty thoughts I’d been shamefully hiding. I sobbed and broke all apart inside. I cried for my horrid thoughts and for the absence of a human whom God had formed inside of me.

Ken lovingly scolded me. He talked to me for probably an hour and I set quietly, except for tearful hiccups that snuck out, and listened.

You see, Ken is in a grossly unique position that, he’s been here before. His brother’s son died in much the same way as Kade, then five months later his other son was taken too. Both of their children, in five months. And Ken spent years putting their pieces back together. It’s this strange mixture of blessing and breaking. Good from bad. He knew what to say and how to say it because he’d been through this horror show before. I have this weird mixture of hating so much that these people I love so much had to endure this kind of agony and a thankfulness that Ken knew how to handle it because he’d had to endure it. I mean, how can you be thankful for something so awful, and maybe that’s not even the word I mean to use. But God knew. It’s just another orchestrated move in the life of Ken and Tracey. The masterful way our Savior works to save us is inconceivable, at best.

It took a few days, but I started questioning the feelings I had been having. I asked myself over and over, does this align with what God says, or is this a lie from the enemy.

I’ve pushed myself to do things I do not want to do. I have watched lessons, daily, from one of several spiritual teachers that I follow. I read their books and worked in their study materials. I had stopped all of that. So I got on my phone yesterday and searched for something to watch. More often than not, God drops something in my lap. If I’m watching it, no matter how recent or not it is, it’s something I need. So, of course, yesterday, God lovingly chose something just for me. It was about grieving and loneliness.

It was such a spiritual eye-opening on grief. The crust on the biscuit is, I’m going to grieve, I am going to feel bone crushing loss and that’s so okay. God designed us to love, and losing love is sad. “Jesus wept”, the shortest verse in the Bible. I’ve heard that my whole life, we learned that as kids in Bible class. Imagine that, though. Fully God. Fully human. He felt the sadness of losing Lazarus all while assuredly knowing He was getting ready to raise Lazarus from the dead. He wept. The key in this story is, He had hope.

That’s what I lost. I didn’t lose my peace, or my faith or the knowing. I lost hope. I stopped focusing on God and started believing Satan’s lies and got swallowed up in doubt and hopelessness.

My grief isn’t lack of faith, it’s loss. My doubts are lies from an enemy who wants to steal my joy. My loss was lost in hopelessness.

Yesterday I took my hope back. Now look, I still cried a lot yesterday. A lot. But it was grief of Kade being gone. Then I started purposefully thinking about what it will be like when I see him again. I started purposefully thinking about who he is with. I started purposefully focusing on the truth of his healed spirit. Of his whole soul. I am trying to change my focus to one of hope rather than hopelessness.

I feel better. I’m still so sad, unless you’ve gone through something like this, you won’t understand the depths of my sadness. But I’m praying constantly that my sadness doesn’t get rooted in despair. That’s where we get stuck.

I’ve said before, God was preparing me for this. He anointed my soul with the peace that passes all understanding for a while, and I didn’t have to do anything but receive it.

Now it’s time for me to pick up my end again. To build my strength with Him. It’s time to work at it again. It just took a bit of time to get my focus back and get rid of my shame. Thank God, I mean, Thank God, He has prepared me for hearing Him. I’m thankful for all the lessons I’ve had to learn to be able to go through something like this and not want to die too. Because I think all parents have that fleeting thought, some camp there. I’m not going to. I’m going to work as hard on that as I have anything in my life.

God has a purpose for me. He chose to allow this, He chose to take Kade instead of leaving Him. He is a sovereign God, so my faith tells me, He knows what He’s doing. And if I’m faithful, good will come from this. That won’t take away all of my pain, but it will dull it. Amen.