how to overcome challenges

Defeat in the garden

Kneeling next to my onion patch, overwhelmed, fighting back tears, struggling to pull vineweed without pulling out the tender onions that are being strangled. Every morning I’m out here trying to rescue my onions and every morning the weeds have grown back thicker.


I want to give up.

But something deep inside me says this isn’t about onions or weeds. And that walking away will mean more than losing my onions. So I kneel at the edge of the patch between my onions and my potatoes and cry.

I don’t know how to do this.”

“Why is this so hard?”

I know where these thoughts are leading me, and I try to keep my head down. Try to focus on what I’m doing right now. It’s only onions. It’s only weeds.

But I do look up. I look up to the corn that has been overwhelmed by grass. I had read something about tilling well, planting thick and not worrying too much about the weeds because the corn will shade them out soon enough. It wasn’t working. The clover had grown in so thick it was shading out the little stalks and they were so thin and weak from lack of sun, I was having difficulty telling them apart from the grass.

They were planted too thick to weed with a hoe. I had a vague notion that if I could pull the weeds back a little, the corn would take off and all the work we had put in to planting it would not have been for nothing.

I crawl forward, leaving my onions for the corn. I look for the first corn plant so I can find the row and begin pulling the weeds back. Only I can’t find it. From one morning to the next, the weeds have grown in so thick I can’t tell where I worked only yesterday.

I collapse there between my onions and my corn, screaming at the weeds. Screaming at life. And then I give up.

“I’m done,”

I say to my garden as I walk straight through the corn. Straight through the beans. Straight to the gate with no care for what I trample.

I walk in the garage to get the mower. The keets and chicks scatter in their brooder as I fling open the door. I look at them and try to remember how it was when they were but a plan on paper, a part of my Master Plan. But I can’t. All I see is their little bodies scattered about the property. Like the geese. The ducks. The chickens. The ducklings.

I feel my jaw set, my heart harden as I prepare the mower for what I’m about to do.

I think about my Master Plan and wonder why I ever thought I could do this. Of all the things I’ve lost since Mattias’ death, the hardest has been the future. I used to look forward to life. To the adventure of the everyday. I wasn’t just the-glass-is-half-full type. You could give me an empty glass and I would look forward to all the things I could someday fill it with.

But now it doesn’t matter what’s in the glass nor how full it is. If I think about it too much, it all tastes bitter.

To be continued . . . and I promise this has a happy ending . . .


And for more gardening posts, visit Smockity’s linky!

how to overcome challenges

A little dose of more than I can bear

Fighting, crying and me stepping away from it all for just a moment marks a difficult end to a difficult week. Or is it two? It is hard to keep track when everything seems to be falling apart and even garden weeds bring me to tears.

Everything seems to be falling apart and I need to pick up the pieces. But I don’t want to pick up the pieces. I’m exhausted. I want to retreat. I want to give up.

I. Am. Done.

Everything seems to be falling apart and I don’t even know how to pick up the pieces.

“You guys, why don’t you pick a book. We can go downstairs and I’ll read to you.”

I choose to escape. To put the whirlwind behind us and just cuddle and read until smiles replace the tears and sleep replaces the hurt.

But my eldest hands me Tear Soup and my heart catches in my throat. She doesn’t talk much about what happened. It took a month before she even said his name.

[“He would have liked this.”]


[“You know . . . the one who died.”]

Almost five months later and those words still haunt my thoughts. Handing me that book was about as close as she has ever come to saying, “Mom, we need to talk.”

But I want to retreat.

“Why don’t you guys go get your pajamas on.”

And for the next few minutes, I just try to breathe. Then I open the book.

“There once was an old and somewhat wise woman whom everyone called Grandy. She just suffered a big loss in her life . . .”

And so begins a conversation on loss and suffering, anger and sorrow, tears and grace. We talk about all the horrible feelings we have and remember for a moment that all of us are struggling with strong feelings and deep hurts and we don’t always know how to deal with them.

Tear Soup

And I tell them that sometimes when Daddy yells at little girls for accidentally breaking the screen on the brand new storm door and throws their picnic on the porch away, he isn’t really mad at them or about the door.

I tell them that whenever they hear Daddy yell, “Nothing in this house ever goes right . . .” he is really saying, “Losing Tiggy is more than I can bear.”

Then they pray for Daddy’s heart. And I retreat to my room where I scoop up my puppy, bury my head in his fur and cry out all the tears I have to give.


Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link from which I could potentially earn money from should anyone actually purchase anything through it. All proceeds from such sales are donated to Tiggy’s House.

how to overcome challenges

How am I?

We’re coming up on six months, and time passes strangely. I no longer feel quite so strongly like I am being dragged involuntarily through time, away from the last time I held my little boy. But the days are still slow and the nights long. Except that the weeks fly by and I cannot believe we are closing in on half a year without Tiggy.

The days are not as dark.

There is more laughter. More real laughter, that you feel deeper than just in your vocal chords.

But my eyes still feel this sort of tiredness and my chest this sort of tightness, like after you’ve cried all the tears you have to give, even when I haven’t been crying. And I’m tired. So tired. Days go by when my biggest goals are getting out of bed and making it through to bedtime. I no longer have trouble sleeping. Instead, it seems it takes all I have to do anything else.

There is more conversation. More memories of Tiggy and not just the accident. Bear still won’t sleep in his room, and he still wants someone to go with him to go into the basement. He still needs noise to go to sleep. But he doesn’t wake up screaming and it has been a long time since he rocked himself in the corner, pleading with me to take the bad thoughts away.

I have learned to manage the grief a little better. It doesn’t take over like it once did. At least not often. When I’m expecting it, when I know something is coming that could be difficult, it generally goes OK and is rarely as hard as I fear. But I get blindsided by the unexpected.

Like at the breathy excitement my baby had over his first carrots. I never had the chance to prepare myself for how much he sounded like his brother. Never would have known how strongly I would remember when he took his first taste. And I still worry about how my grief will affect my children. With the older children, I fight irritability. With little Micah, I fight back tears.

He looks so much like Mattias. And it is hard to watch him sleep. When I went in to that room after Mattias died, I expected to find him looking like he was asleep. But I didn’t recognize the little boy on that table. It could have been someone else’s child. It didn’t look like him, and I remember the anguish deepening at the realization that I would never see him again, even there holding him, he didn’t look like him.

But when Micah is asleep, he looks like that boy I held in the hospital that was my son, but didn’t look like him.

And sometimes, it is so hard. My garden is almost planted. We started our orchard. My ducklings arrived. We are moving forward with our plans for the property, and sometimes I am able to look beyond today to the future without that shudder of who isn’t there. But when there is a bump in the road, my will and my drive collapse and nothing seems to matter. The world can fall apart on a thoughtless comment, a missing chicken, a squabbling child.

And I know there is a word for what I’m fighting. For this grayness that is settling over my soul. Depression. Even the word makes me want to crawl back into bed and give up the fight for the day that has barely begun. And knowing that it is normal is of such precious little help.

But there is much light in the fog, as well. Times when my heart swells with gratitude for the love that has been shown our family. Times when my children make me laugh. And the laughter itself for it is more real every day.

And when little LE pauses at the entrance to our garden to dust off the footprint that now sits at the gate, I still don’t feel like we’re OK, but increasingly I feel like we’re going to be OK. Like our family will get through this.

Like we are rejoicing in hope. (Romans 12:12) And that that hope will not fail us.

how to overcome challenges

The words that were left behind ~ Words Matter

words matterBug sits on the porch, head in her hands, staring at the ground.

“‘Unter . . .’Opper . . .”

I hear her say quietly with the same sing songy lilt I used to call the dogs when we first moved out here.

“‘Unter . . .’Opper . . .”

The words used to fill this house.

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper . . .”

They were some of Mattias’ first words. Before baba, before nani, before puppy and chickie chickie.

Because day after day he sat on my hip as I stepped out on that porch and called, with a sing songy lilt to my voice,

“Hunter . . . Copper . . .”

And the dogs would come running.

It was the lilt I recognized when he first tried to call the dogs and gradually his speech became clear enough to understand their names.

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper.”

But now Copper is buried at the end of the lilac hedge and Mattias is buried on the opposite corner of this square mile plot in the gridwork of country roads. They, too, have been called home.

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper . . .”

There is so much in those little words. So full of what life was back then, and so full of the promise of what we thought life would be. The house, the land, the animals and a baby on my hip learning by seeing.

But now Bug sits on the porch, head in her hands, staring at the ground and calling out softly, to no one in particular,

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper . . .”

And I sit down with a baby in my lap to join her.

how to overcome challenges

Our memory quilt

Sometimes words completely fail me. Words themselves seem so inadequate to express my gratitude. To a stranger who called in the midst of the deepest of my sorrow. Who asked if she could make this for our family.

memory quilt

I remember thinking at the time, “How did you get my number again?” And being lost in the turmoil of my emotions, trying to remember how to think, how to process this like I would have a few days before when a toddler in my lap would have been my key distraction.

But this was something I couldn’t do myself. And I knew it was something our family would treasure. So I said yes to a stranger and over the coming months as I struggled to go through the pictures and chatted with her about the relationship between Tiggy and each of his siblings, she became a friend.

I never knew how hard that would be, to just go through pictures. I had looked at them over and over, but to make a decision, to choose this photo and not that one, proved almost impossible. Because I love them all.

blurry picture

That left her scrambling until the last minute. Because you see, they were planning a big homeschool field trip and wanted to drop it off in person.

And as I touch the fabric that was his clothes, watch my little LE count the pictures of Tiggy, listen to the children recount their memories, I am overcome with gratitude and there are no words that can match the depth of my thankfulness.