Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Death - Oh Your Sting

Today marks two. Two. Whole. Years. Two years since the air hasn’t smelled the same. Two years since the leaves started crunching a little different. Two years since my heart was broken -- shattered, into tiny little pieces.  I’ll never forget that morning, or all the things I did that week leading up to that day-when all things came to a screeching halt.

Death.  It doesn’t just sting. It downright hurts. It comes and it takes and gives nothing in return. It robs us not just of what we had, but of what we thought we had.  All the future memories. Gone.  The birthdays we were going to celebrate, all the Halloweens we had left to dress up. Death takes it all, and replaces it with tears. Buckets and buckets of salty tears.  And two years ago today marks two years since death came and it stung hard.  It tore away the baby in my arms and it left me gasping for air. It burned. It gouged. It was more than a sting.

So today we just sat and reminisced. We reminisced the burn, because today, today it’s just a sting. We reminisced the memories, and we reminisced the memories that came instead. The ones I never planned--not the birthdays that didn’t happen--but the relationships that DID. The tears that have been spilt, and the conversations that have come. The friends that have stood --stood tall like oaks, and the family that has been faithful. The love that has been poured, poured all over us, because of the sting.  

And just like that we celebrate being closer, TWO YEARS CLOSER to eternity. Two years closer to having every tear wiped away. Every. Salty. Tear.  There’s a song I can’t sing without crying and it goes, “When we arrive at eternity’s shore, where death is just a memory and TEARS ARE NO LONGER. We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring. You’re bride will come together and we’ll sing YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL.” And like clockwork the tears pour, because my tiny little soul can hardly imagine a day where death will be just a memory. It can hardly believe a day when the tears will never come. It can hardly believe a day when the STING will be GONE!

"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" 
Revelation 21:4-5

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Today, I'm having my very first "guest blogger", and he doesn't even know it! :)

My dad sent this to me first thing this morning. It is beautiful and captures so much, so perfectly. I don't know how to encapsulate this day, besides to say I'm happy to see it come and go. Although there's a part of me that feels a twinge of jealousy and guilt to see my little Asher soar past this milestone, it is exactly what I want, all at the same time. Thank you, Jesus for 141 days...again. We love you and miss you, oh so much, Ezekiel James. We love you and celebrate you, oh so much, Asher David.

From my dad...

Asher at 141

Woke-up sometime after 5:00 AM as I did for so many months.
Asher is clueless today, to what this means, to what he reminds us of.
A celebration that this day has come, and that it is going.
Like the Angels in Heaven celebrating for the one lost soul that is redeemed but doesn’t know that a joyous party is going on. A day with a huge hole in our lives, now still a wound, but getting smaller.
Emmitt’s words when learning of a new baby brother: “This Baby is NOT going to die!”
The events of the day we lost Zekey are simply dreadful to recount. The 2:00 AM call. The anguished cries in that hospital room of our beautiful daughter and wonderful son-in-law. “He’s perfect!” She cried as the waves of grief crashed over them and into us.
And so he was, and is still, ever perfect in the arms of a Loving God. The same one who entrusted him to them and to all of us from the start.
But fear and grief want to say, to whisper, “It could happen again."
But it didn’t. Not this time. Not today. It could have. Yes, there is a risk in living that leaves us vulnerable to devastating injuries. The God-created antidote, the medicine, is turning to, not away from, the great healer, Jesus. He was for a time in Palestine a health-care machine, and is so today.
Thankfulness to our God, gratefulness is the Rx with love and time for this wound. Reach too far, stretch in the wrong way, and the wound re-opens. Grief is always waiting in ambush when least expected and least wanted. Sometimes we know it is coming, waiting for us and we are in anguish in anticipation of another smaller Tsunami of feelings. Christ is our Breakwater. Thankfulness is our response, because it turns us to Him and puts our loss, my loss, in His perspective, where it is appropriate.
This is it. Today is it. Gratefully we live through it. Saying again to the High King of Heaven, "Thank you for Ezekiel James Olson, and thank you for Asher David Olson.”
Thank you Emmitt, because you are right. This baby is not going to die. He’s not going to Heaven too. Not yet.
Asher will never know what he, and this day mean to all of us. He is at once a reminder of the sting and the ointment. 
So… smile today. Laugh for us to hear. Cry for your needs as you do so well. Remind us. Help us to say again, aloud, "Thank you Lord for 141 days! Twice."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Christmas Letter From The Olsons

Dear Friends & Family,

            We hope you had a merry Christmas, friends! By the time you’re reading this letter, you’ve probably already started tucking the tinsel away for next year.  I usually have an epiphany moment every December when my thoughts finally feel clear enough to sit down and write. This year that day felt like it was never going to come, but alas the Christmas letter lives on…
            Matt’s still enjoying his job at Stayton Middle school where he does his best to keep kids outta trouble…or get kids in trouble, I suppose it depends on whose perspective we’re talking about. A few weeks ago Emmitt and Madi started to get into a fight and I overheard Emmitt tell his sister, “It’s okay. I’ll just tell dad when he gets home cause he’s REALLY good at getting kids in trouble. That’s his JOB!” I figure it might be time for me to go back to work, because prior to that comment I was pretty sure that was my job too and that I was pretty good at it, but alas Dad pulls the trump card.
            Madi’s had a super busy year losing teeth, and attempting to regrow them. We’ve had every situation imaginable from, mom, mom, Emmitt just kicked out my tooth! To a half-asleep child stumbling into our room and saying, Dad my tooth fell out and I can’t find it! The tally is up to NINE and our dentist has assured us that there’s nothing abnormal about our lifestyle, teeth just don’t last very long around here.  Cue the look of an orthodontist rubbing hands together with excitement…
Our sweet girl continues to be the BEST big sister. She’s usually found playing school at home and kindly but firmly giving orders to her brother. She still loves to dance and performed in her third Nutcracker this month. Her latest accomplishment of a straight-leg-and-pointy-toed-cartwheel can be seen just about anywhere, including the grocery store if you’re there on a good day.  Please don’t do a cartwheel in the middle of the store. Is just another one of those statements I can add to the list of things I never thought I’d hear myself saying. We’re so thankful for our big six-year-old and all the JOY that she brings to our lives.
Emmitt has grown so much in the last year! He still loves all things sports and since he is still too young to play any organized sports he’s chosen to use his knowledge by telling his sister EXACTLY how she’s supposed to do things. (She takes it like most first-borns do – she already knew that!) We spent lots of time in the water this summer and our four year old has added swimming to his list of accomplishments. However, he still likes to argue with me about how deep a body of water needs to be before he could drowned in it, to which I ALWAYS reply, ANYbody can drowned in ANY water. So please feel free to reiterate my statement whenever you see my son.
When this boy is not burning calories, or saying, mom, I’m hungry (which has been calculated at an average of 15x/day), he absolutely loves to talk about heaven. Last week he came running into the living room at my parents’ house with anger all over his face, Mom, Jude is LYING! He thinks we’re gonna live in heaven forever and that’s NOT true! We’re gonna live on the new earth again AFTER we go to heaven!  We assured the boys that in theory they were both right, heaven will just move TO the restored earth. They both seemed satisfied and went right back to playing. We’re trying to encourage more grace in his conversations, but obviously we have a ways to go…
Our latest addition to the family, Asher David, arrived on September 19th and has brought lots of screaming (mostly on his part), but even more JOY to the family. He’s extra spicey and seems to like things to be done in a timely fashion. He’s also equally sweet and always needs to be right in the middle of whatever is happening. We love everything about him.  We chose his name because it means “happy” and “blessed” and the smiles he has brought have been irreplaceable.
I struggled with writing the Christmas letter this year because I hated the idea of not painting reality in the midst of highlighting our highpoints this year. The Christmas season came upon us in a hurry and my initial thought was to curl up in a ball and hide until it was all over.  For some reason it feels like pain is magnified when happy is all around me, no matter how hard I try to fight it.
Thankfully, the anticipation our children had for Christmas was Off. The. Charts. And as I stood back and watched their excitement unfold, my heart began to mirror their anticipation, not just for Christmas, but for the reality of what the first Christmas really brought…Christ coming again, not as a baby, but to take us home forever.
We sat around the breakfast table the day after Christmas and Emmitt said, Mom, Dad, is Christmas over? All those days leading up to the 25th, the days where he asked seven or eight times how many days it was until Christmas. The days that he begged with all that was in him to open just one present. The days he could hardly fall asleep at night because he wanted it to be Christmas so bad. They were over and it was obvious he found himself somewhat dissatisfied.  We took that moment to explain to him how much our hearts long for the day of seeing Jesus face to face and how we will have absolutely NO disappointment on that day. None. I love these children, and I love how the Lord uses them to mirror our relationship with our Jesus.
We hope you found yourselves just a little bit restless at the end of this Christmas season. Not because your day wasn’t wonderful and filled with the love of family and friends celebrating Jesus’ birth, but because we really do have something even bigger to anticipate.  Merry (late) Christmas, Friends!

With Love,

The Olsons