Make it your story, not your excuse.

It’s been quite a week at our house.  Oh yes, we are experiencing the typical May, end of the school year mayhem just like every other household.  We rush from games, to practices, to bridal showers, to neighborhood gatherings, create last minute school projects and…..  You get the picture. But this week.  Thank God for being our strength.

Last week Wednesday it was our oldest son’s 16th birthday.  What a joy! It’s such a momentous occasion full of anticipation. However, we received a phone call that evening that we lost a mom at our school.  You know her. We all do.  She’s the mom that is everywhere, doing everything…with a smile on her face.  She’s the mom that has touched around her.  She’s the mamma to four beautiful kids.  The youngest is a good friend of our youngest daughter.  Her death was unexpected. Untimely. Unfair.  It felt as our community stopped breathing for a day.  Tears.  Heart agonizing tears.  How can this be, God?

Watching the family go through the process of their public good byes was eerily familiar to my childhood experience of losing my mom.  As the youngest of eight children, I remember vividly our community stop breathing, then rushing to our sides and walking along with us through our grief. Now it’s my turn to help fill that void. Now it’s time to use my story to help someone else.

We said goodbye to a sweet uncle the same day of the young mothers funeral. He lived until he was 92. I couldn’t help but for a fleeting second feel cheated as my mother was taken from me at age 47.  Why couldn’t she have been given a life as long as her brothers?  But that is not the path I am choosing. I will not go down that road. Amazingly, the pastor shared a story that just a few months prior to his death, my uncle requested a meeting with him.  My uncle was struggling with a question and needed to discuss it with a pastor.  His question? “Am I doing everything I can with my life?”…….at age 92.  I was inspired.

Within 14 hours of leaving this funeral, my mother in law joined her beloved husband in heaven. We felt knocked down to our knees.  God, you’re giving us more than we can handle here! But, we also realized it was her time. She had run the race, she had fought the good fight.  Saying good bye to your mom, at any age, is tough.  Really, incredibly tough.  My mother in law was love… everyone she met.

In the midst of all this grief and sadness, we celebrated 2 sport banquets, a graduation, enjoyed a class trip and honored our oldest’s completion of her vocational training program and applied for SSI for her, hoping that someday we are not here, she will have some financial aid.  We were on both ends of the emotional spectrum at one time…all within 7 days.  How do we make it through? How God?

“Make it your story, not your excuse” is a  phrase I heard while listening to Sports Center with my oldest son.  It was advice a mother gave a basketball loving son who had a disability to overcome and he did. He now plays for the NBA, despite his disability.  Looking back at this week, realizing that we made it through, though emotionally drained and carrying an empty void for many while preparing several of our kids for their “next step”, we need to heed this advice.

The three individuals we said goodbye to this week offer many life lessons for our kids…..and for us adults. The young mother who was involved and freely giving of her time to her kids and her community (give of yourself where it counts), my uncle who was a gentle spirit and wanting to use his life for more (seek where God wants you to shine), and my mother in law, Mary, who’s sweet demeanor and quick wit will always stay with me (love all of those around you and never, ever forget to laugh).

What will your story be?  When life hands you a water hose gushing with a force of a fire hydrant of experiences and demands that seem unbearable and overwhelming…..will you make an excuse, or make it your story?


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