A Makenzie Restoration

61767397100The dreams about her have subsided. I don’t think about her everyday as I have in years past and I’m needing to play old audio to remember her voice. Six years ago today, my oldest daughter, Makenzie — who is now my youngest — was invited into heaven.  “Six years” is a long time as I think about all that has happened since.  Great things.  Hard things.  Things to celebrate and things to mourn.  

As I spend today in the back corner of a small-town coffee shop, I think about the word “restoration.”  More-so, I think about what it takes to be restored.  Brokenness first.  Surrender second.  Expertise third.  Time last.  Then, restoration births new life.  That’s God’s way.  He takes my broken and hurting heart for the loss of my child and calls it to surrender.  He reaches out and holds my surrendered hands first to comfort, then to lead.  With expertise, he chisels his way through the rocky attitudes and sorrows that surround death and over time, calls me to something greater.  Pain is necessary for growth.  Demolition is necessary for restoration. 

So many emotions today.  I’m expecting them.  So many thoughts and mental wanderings will flood the hours. I’ll entertain them.  It’s part of God’s restoration for me, and it is good.  

Peace!

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Makenzie’s College Visit: Revelation University

Makenzie collegeWe’ve begun a search.

Our youngest is a senior in High School and is in the process of college-shopping.  For those of you who’ve walked this path, you know that it means college-visits and you understand the drill:  setting up appointments with the various departments, looking at their academics, talking with coaches and those who fan the flame of the arts – it’s all part of the gig.  But the most telling and the most exciting part of this journey is the time you actually step on campus to take a look and the environment and feel the ‘vibe’ of the school.

Why do we parents want to do this cross-country trekking?  Simply because we want to know where our kids are going to be.  We want to know what it looks like.  We want to know it’s safe.  We want a visual to hold when they leave our proverbial nest and venture to ‘that distant land.’

This morning, I did a college visit.  (Stay with me as I make a connection).  My SOAP Devotion was on Revelation 21+22 which describes the ‘college’ at which my oldest daughter, Makenzie, now attends.  I walked the halls of the campus that holds an estimated 195 Quadrillion people.  I strolled through its center cut in half by the flowing Alma Mater River of Life.  I inquired about the after dark curfew for the dorms and found out there was none since night didn’t exist there.  (Whew!)

At the end, I came off the visit satisfied that my Makenzie is in the perfect setting.  She is in the Heaven that someday I’ll attend.  She is meeting tons (literally) of new people.  She is learning more and more about the President and Leadership of Heaven and she is completely happy – no sorry, worry or tears.  My daddy-heart is joyful because I know where she is and what it looks like.

And the beauty is, it’s all free!

Peace!

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LIFE IMPACT: MAKENZIE AND QUINN

Makenzie_hatThey didn’t know each other and we didn’t know her.  Yet last Friday, we all connected.

I opened up my email and saw one sent from, “Quinn.”  I don’t know any one bearing that name.  Spam had spammed me I thought.  As is my habit on these junky occasions, I hovered my cursor and right clicked – ready to send it to that folder for the abyss.  Yet, in my spirit, I was prompted not to hit ‘delete’ but ‘open’.

These were the words staring back from the screen:

“We have never met before or spoken, but I just thought I would let you know how your blog, or I guess how Makenzie changed my life. You see, this weekend I am getting baptized and the reason is because of your daughter. I came across your blog and found myself very intrigued by your family’s story. After reading about Makenzie and her love for Jesus, I found myself wanting to give my life to Jesus. I just want to thank you for putting her story out there. I know it changed my life for the better and I am sure it has done that for many others.”

Once again, God used my daughter’s short-well-lived life to change someone else’s for eternity.  Once again, I as the dictator of the story feel immensely humbled by it all.  Once again, I thank my Lord for Hope-lived-out and His eternity breaking into Quinn’s history.

Thank you, Quinn, for letting me use your email and for following the calling of Jesus!

(Update:  Quinn was baptized this past Saturday!)

Peace!

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Makenzie: Five Times Now, Today.

32638547100I’m up earlier than normal again.  The last few weeks have stolen hours of sleep from me, most likely because of today.

Five times now, I’ve endured the turning of this calendar page without my oldest daughter Makenzie.  Five times now, this day has kept me from work, from happiness and from others.  Five times is five times too many.

39437192100I spend this day, like the four before, pondering.  Like Mary in the Bible, like many others of whom I now know, I think deeply on the meaning of tragedy that befalls us.  Like my fraternity of other parents who’ve lost their children, I pace through the same pictures and videos that fib and tell me she’s still here.  I want more.  I wonder what life would be like if Makenzie had not died in the car accident.  Would it be a good life with her?  Would she be safe?  What would she be doing?  How many lives would she touch?  Would she be in love, married? Would I be called “Pops” by her beautiful child?  I wander the halls of these questions today and I miss her.  Random pecks on my cheek.  Goofiness. Snorty laugh.  Graceful dance.  I miss all of it.

Five times now.  And I have to.

Yet even in the cloudiness of this day, God meets me.  He flips through the pictures with me.  He laughs when a shot reveals Makenzie’s goofiness and He tears when He feels the hurt I feel.  Even five times now, He does the same.  And my sorrow is His sorrow.  My hurt is His hurt.  He endures with me and promises good from bad.  Five times now, He has been faithful.

Makenzie on Easter Day!

Makenzie on Easter Day!

So today, I will spend most of it simply with God, talking about my ballerina and foolishly asking Him what she’s doing in heaven.  I will find a corner in a coffee shop nestled in an old river town and buy Makenzie an iced Frappuccino – she loved those.  It will be the 5th one I’ll end up throwing away, un-drunk.  And in my ache, God will meet me as the clock digits 8:08 tonight, the time of the accident.  And I will be grateful that Makenzie is alive and safe, waiting with God who loves her more than I possibly could.

Peace!

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A Thank You to Facebook

100_0574_0200_200Facebook.  Good-to-do’s call it a time sucker and tramp.  Others call it a stalker’s paradise and a bullies playground.

Today, I take another tack.  Today, I am thankful for the online service of Facebook because Mark Z. has done something for our family that no other venue has done.  They recorded a piece of my daughters life that is now archived for simple access during our Makenzie Moments.  

Photos, news feeds, pokes, pictures and videos, all wrapped together in a package of digital memories of her short but well-lived life.   The access provides remembrances.  The files give laughter.  The data brings her back to life, if only for a short, emotional while.

facebook-logoSo to Facebook.  Today I salute you.  For holding the past and delivering it to our present.  And now, five years since Makenzie’s home going, we close down her Facebook account which, I guess, is another sign of our journey of grief and healing.

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Makenzie – Forever 18

makenzie nose

Birthday Cake Nose

I don’t remember where I read it and I don’t remember why.  But somewhere in my scanning of some random article, a mom was talking about her children – of which she bore three.  What caught my attention was how she listed the names and ages of her kids.  “Alex – 22, Molly – 24, Andrew – forever 18.”

Reading Andrew’s listing stirred up in me a Makenzie moment.  I paused.  Knowing what she meant and wondering the details of the back-story.  I wondered how he died and if he led a full life.

Today, ‘forever 18’ strikes me especially hard.  My Makenzie’s birthday.  She would have been 22 but is ‘forever 18’.  She would have been in college, maybe had a boyfriend and maybe would have come home to celebrate with us.  Lot’s of maybe’s, silenced by reality.  She doesn’t have any more birthday’s.  She is ‘forever 18.’

What I wouldn’t give to bake her a cake today.  What I wouldn’t do to see her play along with my old joke of putting re-lighting candles on it.  (She would always pretend to be surprised that the candles wouldn’t blow out – but she knew).  What I wouldn’t give to hug her bear-like, kiss her forehead and whisper “Happy Birthday, Kenz”  only to hear back “Thanks daddy.  I love you.”

Today as I sit in the quiet of my writing room, look up to see her pictured face and finger a bobby-pin found underneath my coffee mug, I am simply grateful that the “forever” in her “forever 18” is spent at the side of God.  He knows what He’s doing.  He has granted her a “forever” that is filled with joy. He has given her a life that is above any she experienced while with me.  He has graced her with a fullness that I too will know.  My Makenzie’s “forever” is with her Savior Jesus and I cannot be more grateful.

Happy Birthday, button-nose.  Forever-18.

Peace!

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LOSING A CHILD REWIRES MY BRAIN

I’m sitting at Starbucks on a drizzly early morning.  Normally, I’m at Caribou Coffee but nothing seems normal this morning.  Why?  Because my mind is connecting in strange ways today.  You see, when my oldest daughter was killed a few years back she was 18 years and 1 month old.  Too young to die.  Too energetic to have life cut short.

But back to my madness.  Today, my son is … you guessed it … 18 years and 1 month old.  I know.  You may think it’s a strange weaving – her timeline with his.  But that is how a person’s mind works when you lose a child.

In all of this, it reminds me again that our days are numbered, that our time is short, no matter if it’s 18 or 88 years.  And that the measuring of our prosperity is in our connection with God and the positive impact we have on others.

So today, as the clouds roll in and out, as the drizzle collects on the lawn and the world slows down, I will lean into the Lord and thank Him for the short years that He gives us all.

(Psalm 39)

Peace,