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The Great American Portrait Project: Laura's Story
The Great American Portrait Project: Laura's Story

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a new project I hope to begin, called The Great American Portrait Project.  Still on the early road to discovery, I envisioned a tapestry of beautiful lives, tied together through portraits and stories.  You can read a little about that here. After sharing that blog post, I received an email from a friend who asked if I would consider sharing her story.  She was not sure it was part of my vision, but thought it an important one to share.  I could not agree more. Laura's story is one of grief.  It is not an easy story to read, as I'm sure it was not an easy one to write- or an easy one to live for that matter.  But Laura's story is beautiful. Here it is, in her own words.   Thank you for sharing this with us, Laura. I am a member of the club nobody wants to join. It’s a club of unimaginable pain, of sleepless nights, of staggering guilt and despair. It is a club in which you question the very nature of life and existence. It is the club of widowhood. I am alone now, but not single like I was before I met Adam nearly 18 years ago. I will never be single again. I will always be widowed. I will always feel an emptiness in my heart, and I will always carry the burden of grief on my shoulders. I have realized that no matter how long you have your ...

Stop Fighting Already!
The Great American Portrait Project: Laura's Story

 "She started it!" "Get out of my room!" "You're such a jerk!" "It's not my fault!  He always does this!  It's NOT FAIR!" How many times a day, does it seem, that I look over at my husband and wonder, "How in the world did all three of these kids come from the two of us?  They are so completely different from each other!"  On most days, it seems that they could be three kids we picked out of three different kid patches, completely foreign to each other, with no plans on ever "making friends".  It's all I can do to keep from ripping my hair out! I hear the words of my own father playing in my mind.  "You only have each other.  You are all you have in this world."  These are the words my brother and I would hear every time we argued, yelled, fought.  This is how my father would reprimand us.  With the truth that Billy and I were each other's only siblings.  That we only had each other.  I could be wrong- perhaps Billy felt differently- but that never seemed to make anything better.  It never seemed to make me like him more.  He was still that bossy older brother.  It was still not at all my fault.  It was still completely unfair. How did I get on this end of the situation?  How am I the one now trying to clarify to my own children that they are each ...

A Lesson For My Beauty
The Great American Portrait Project: Laura's Story

 My daughter does not love reading.  And that's putting it mildly.  Getting Brady to read has been a delicate balance of encouragement and enforcement since the first grade.  We believe part of that might have to do with a developmental or neurological issue, and we are working with her teachers to learn more.  But we also know that it does not help for Brady to be the sister between two brothers who happen to be voracious readers.  I can see any self-confidence  fade away whenever she hears her older brother going on about the latest novel he devoured, or when she watches her younger brother flip pages faster than a speeding bullet.  Scott and I have tried all sorts of things to encourage her to read.  Brady and I have had "snuggle up and read" sessions (which her younger brother always crashes!), and we've tried reading charts and rewards.  I've even tried reminding her that if she doesn't work on her reading, she'll never be able to read the love notes that her future boyfriends send her. (or are they text messages these days?  Goodness, I am not ready for that) We know that reading will be crucial to Brady's success in life- to all three of our kids' success- but it is a constant battle with Brady, not just to get her to read, but to build up her confidence when it comes to reading.  She's kind of a ...

Cancer Is A Four Letter Word
The Great American Portrait Project: Laura's Story

 "Can a person beat cancer four times?"This was the question I googled immediately after hanging up with my mom last Tuesday afternoon.  She had called with the results of Dad's regular MRI test.  The cancer had come back.We all knew this would happen.  Seven years ago when my father was first diagnosed with lymphoma in his prostate, we were devastated and scared.  After he beat that, he was diagnosed a few years later with the same cancer, but in his brain.  Fear was replaced this time with anger and resolve.  And he beat cancer again.  And then it came back. Lymphoma in the brain, again.  About two years ago.  This time there was fatigue, mixed in with that resolve.  And now here we are again.  Round four of cancer.  Round three of lymphoma in the brain. I'm not sure what emotion will resurface for each of us this time, or what new emotion will make its entrance, but I do know this.  The one emotion that remains constant, the one sentiment that is never lost is hope.  And this is simply because of the fact that my mother will not allow any of us to lose hope.In some ways, actually in most ways, my mom has definitely walked the toughest road through all of this.  As my father has gotten weaker, she has had to get stronger.  As he's become incapable of working, she's taken on two and ...

What's Your Story?
The Great American Portrait Project: Laura's Story

 It hit me like a two by four over the head this morning.  I was enjoying my quiet time with God, coffee in one hand, pen in the other, Bible laid out before me.  I’d been reading through the gospels, searching for truth in the actual words of Jesus, rather than in the words of those around me.  Over the past few months, and even years, way too many questions had been surfacing in my heart concerning my faith, my life, my work, my purpose.  So I’d been searching in the one place I’d always found trustworthy.And there it was.  In Luke chapter 3, John the Baptist is asked, “What should we do then [to produce good fruit, to be good children of God]?”  In verse 11, he answers, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”  If we want to produce good fruit, to live a life for God, then we should be giving what we have to those who don’t have.  As a Christian, this should be of utmost importance to me. Now, of course, this is not the first time I’ve been hit with this two by four.  The Bible, particularly the gospels, overflow with this truth.  Jesus tells us to give, and He shows us how.  He feeds the poor.  He hangs out with the very people He is expected to shun.  He lives it.  And ...