When you go through trauma, you are never the same. Nor should you be.

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We remember many days and events of history and our own lives each and every year.  Many are celebrations of excitement.  Like birthdays, anniversaries, announcements of babies, and so forth.

But we, collectively as the world, also remember the other days around the world.  The ones where great sadness took place.  And they are remembered for the ages in different ways.

While the first celebrations usually include cake and balloons and banners and shouting and laughing and running and clapping, the second are usually remembered with flags, marches, speeches, wreaths, memories.

My family has lived trauma—where everyone has miraculously emerged on the other side of it.

But to say that we made it through okay would not be accurate.

We made it through.  Our son is alive.  And we get to watch him grow.

But this trauma has changed me in a million and one ways.

The first being gratefulness.  I look at my living, breathing, running, crazy happy boy and rejoice that I get to walk life with him.  And every moment he is alive, I hold him tight.  I don’t ever want to let go.

But that brings me to my second feeling.  The one that makes me cry.  Sadness.  Sorrow.  Heartbreak.

I received my baby back into my arms to live another day.  And I know that this is a gift.  A gift beyond.  Not every mother nor father gets to receive their child back into their arms.  Alive.

Sometimes those arms get to only hold their baby one last time.

And, as tightly as they hold their baby, they have to let go.

I know, one day, I will have to let go of Maxwell, but it is not the same.

At all.

Which brings me to now.  My last feeling is “It’s okay“.

That’s what I hope the mommies and daddies are telling me.  The ones that did not get their babies back.  The ones that had to let go.

That’s it’s okay to celebrate my son.  And his life.

That’s it’s okay to be happy.

That’s it’s okay to hold him tight.

And it’s okay to not want to let go.

That’s it’s okay.  Because that is what they would do had life been different for them.

I can’t even write this without sobbing.  My three year is sitting next to me constantly touching my “creers” as they are running down my cheeks, touching them lightly, somehow sensing these tears carry a heavy weight:  Sorrow and guilt entwined with personal gratefulness.

Yet, I still hope in my ears I hear the words, “It’s okay.”  Because I know for their own lives it is not okay.  And never should have been.  Yet it is for them that way just like for me it is a different way.

A way I will never understand…

The other day, my husband and I were discussing “This time of year”, and that’s when my son, Maxwell, heard us praying, “Thank you, Lord, for giving us back Maxwell.”

After we were done praying, Maxwell looked at us with wide eyes and a goofy grin, saying, “Mommy, you’re silly.”

Because, to him, he is fine.

He doesn’t know the great battle that was fought for his life.

He just knows he lives.

And I just held him.

Trauma has changed our family.

Trauma nearly broke our family.  Not just my son’s life nearly being ripped from our lives but our marriage, too.

Trauma has made us work a lot harder.  Trauma has made us think a lot more.  Trauma has opened up our hearts to a bigger world—a world of immense suffering.  Yet overcoming.

Trauma has made us more empathetic and understanding.

Trauma has taught us how to cry freely.

Trauma has caused us to put on glasses of reality.  That life will not always deal you rainbows sprinkled with sugar.

And it has made every day of our living, breathing, walking, talking lives more important.  More beautiful. More fragile.  More.

Trauma has taken judgement out of me and made me crumble.

Trauma has made me a mess and yet picked me up.

Trauma has torn a huge hole in my soul and then healed it up.

Trauma has shown me the harshness of the world and then the compassion that surrounds the world.

And trauma has taught me that I am not alone.

Trauma has changed my very core.

Maybe, just maybe, one day I will say thank you to God above for this trauma.

Until then, I’ll simply say “Thank you” to God for bringing me through it.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23. 

Here are some sites you can click on to help you understand your trauma:

1.  Healing from Trauma

2.  When Trauma Strikes

3.  Understand Trauma and PTSD:  A Christian Counselor’s Perspective

 

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The Day that Santa Died…

This is going to go in a completely different direction than you may imagine…You see, Santa was not really Santa but a homeless man that we served for years at our soup kitchen, Holy Start, in the city of Poznan, Poland.  We all called him Santa.  He loved it.

And this is what he looked like:

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His name was Wojtek.

And I loved him.

Not because he was perfect.  In fact, there were times he was outright obnoxious.  And there were a couple times where we packed his food for him and told him he had to leave.  Not hungry.  But leave the same.  Because when you are trying to serve many and there are some that make commotions, this is just the way it works.

And he would leave…But the next week he would always be back.  Sober.  In time for breakfast.  And happy to be back amongst us.

You see, Wojtek was like many, many, many that we serve in Poland.

Homeless.  Alcoholics.  Lost.  And alone.

And as difficult as they may sometimes be—they could also be beautiful.

Yes.  Wojtek made a choice.  And that choice was alcohol.  And then alcohol made a mark.  And Wojtek had a hard time overcoming.

And no matter what offers of help we made.  No matter how much prayer.  No matter how much was shared about how much God loves and believes in him.  Wojtek let alcohol do the talking…do the thinking…do the walking in his life.

And one day—one day far too soon—we lost him.

He went to sleep near the lake in the summer, when the weather was fine, and never woke up.

And from the moment I heard that at the soup kitchen, my heart broke.

It broke because I knew that Wojtek was so special.

I knew that Wojtek had so much he could offer.

I knew that God made Wojtek unlike any other out there…And, yet, Wojtek never beat the beast.

He never kicked the habit.

He was never victorious.  He was the constant slave.  And his owner, Alcohol, beat him down and won.  He took his life.

Wojtek died without giving God the chance to help him change his life.

And it broke my heart.

I still think of Wojtek and I love looking at his picture-doesn’t his face tell a million tales?  Don’t his eyes hide beauty?  Don’t you love the man you see?

And yet I still look with sadness.

Because Wojtek is no more.

Wojtek is not the first person we’ve lost to the harsh realities of addiction or homelessness.  And he won’t be last.

But he will always remain a sad reminder to me that deep in the inner man of who he, Wojtek, is-God had created someone for so much more.

I am not sure if you have a family member or perhaps a friend that battles with addictions.  If so, I know with all that you are you love them.  And you care.

God does too.

I pray for yours.  May they not die like Santa.  May they come to see the demon that wants to enslave, get the help they need, and beat that sucker down.

May victory come in morning.

God bless you, friends!

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Update:  I know that it is not only the homeless that have problems with addictions.  But what I do know about addictions is that IF the person fighting this demon does not want to get help, there is little anyone can do but hold onto hope and PRAY!

We all saw this past summer as someone rich and famous passed away because he could not overcome his own demons.  Cory Monteith…So, friends, let us never say, “Oh, that will never happen to me!”  Because addiction has no socioeconomic barrier.  An addiction is an addiction.  And all need to be addressed, receive help, and by the grace of God conquered.

In Poland we offer help to all that come to us through two different outside programs that we partner with:  Monar, Teen Challenge.  There is also Alcoholics Anonymous and our very own New Life Center.  All centers and programs are there for the benefit of the individuals—to help them receive hope and freedom.  And in Kalisz, Poland, there is also counseling through our foundation for the entire family.  Addiction does not just impact the addict—it impacts the entire family, too.

So, if you have a loved one—or if you are that person—fight hard, hold onto hope, offer help (or receive it if you are the one in need of help), and continue to pray hard.  May your belief, although very difficult at times, be unwavering.

Again…God bless, friends!  I know addiction is the battle for someone’s life…And that person is greatly loved by God and by you.