Love, Grow, & Overflow

My cup overflows. My laundry does too.

Tag: Samantha

Dandelions

The Mighty Dandelion

 

 

 

 

 

 

For S and T

When I was growing up, I loved dandelions.  My parents didn’t use chemicals on our yard, so as soon as the ground thawed and a couple spring rains came, dandelion weeds would pop up everywhere.  I loved their sunny faces, their tiny lush petals, and the wispy puffs at the end of their life that would carry wishes off on the breeze.

(Once I picked a bunch and tried to sell them like a lemonade business.  My mom bought them all up, either as a nod to my entrepreneurial spirit or a desire not to be known around the neighborhood as the weed sellers who lived on the corner.  Now the local CSA has dandelion greens as a product, which proves I was just before my time.)

Usually, I’d pluck a bunch and make chains. I’d dig my thumb nails in to split the hollow stems in two, then tie the halves around the bloom of another flower, over and over.  It was messy work, dandelion juice seeping out of the fibers. Sometimes I’d accidentally brush my hands to my lips and taste the bitterness.  But at the end, I’d have a garland, a necklace, a crown.

I have a friend who blog is Blooming Joy.  The subtitle reads “Finding the joy springing up out of the dirt.”  In my head, I’ve always envisioned tiny seedlings in carefully edged gardens, rising up from tilled soil to burst into bloom.  Today I’m thinking of those dandelions, leaves jagged like the jaws of their predator namesakes, pushing up and out in unexpected places.

My friend’s had her share of weeds.  Stephanie and her husband Travis have dealt with some excruciatingly painful events invading like dandelions, unwanted and unexpected.   They parented their infant daughter through health, illness, terminal diagnosis, and death.  They carry wounds that are healing but not yet scars, that maybe never will be completely.  They have experienced deep grief and sadness, but they’ve handled it all with such strength and love and honesty.  They are not sad people; they are people of joy.

I appreciate their joy.  It’s not greeting-card joy, born out of tidy platitudes that reduce life to simple sentiments.  It’s faith-joy, joy that can stand even against the unanswered questions.  It’s faith that God is not dead, that Christ’s absence from the tomb means God’s presence with us always, even in the shadow of the valley of death, even beyond.  It’s faith in a Christ who, in the midst of his own suffering, knew there was still joy set before him.

They know, too – there’s joy still coming.

Joy rooted in faith doesn’t stop when we’re split open and hollow, when the bitterness is strong enough to taste, when our breaths exhale wispy prayers that fade into the sky. Faith-joy holds it all up to God, the bitterness and the blooms together, trusting that he will weave them into crowns of life.

One Foot in Front of the Other

My 5K was a week and a half ago.

I was not ready.  I went anyway.

Originally, I enlisted a running buddy and we developed a pretty straightforward plan: do an eight week training program, run the race at the end of it.  Unfortunately, due to several different factors including crutches, crises and unexpected out-of-town trips, neither of us was prepared to run.  It was important to us to still complete the 5K, since we were participating long-distance in a tribute 5K in memory of our friends’ daughter, so my running buddy became my walking buddy.

Other than the Komen Race for the Cure several years ago, in which I bobbed down city streets in a river of thousands of pink-clad casual walkers, I’ve never participated in a 5K before.  There were a few hundred participants in this one, and most of them were runners showing off lots of thigh muscle in die-hard runner clothing, fancy smartphone armbands around their biceps.  And then there was me, wearing my race shirt (apparently most people don’t wear their race shirts to the race – who knew?) and baggy shorts.  However, I’m pretty sure that once I pinned my race number onto the front, no one could tell the difference.

In addition to the awesomeness of an official bib number, the race started with a pistol shot in the air.  (At least it sounded like a pistol.  I was pretty far back in the crowd because I didn’t want to get trampled by the real runners, so I didn’t actually see it.  But it’s nice to hear a gunshot in an urban area without feeling the need to duck and cover.)  And there were real tables of people handing out water along the way, with empty cups scattered across the grass by the runners who were so dedicated that they did not have time to use the trash can.  Hard core.  And there was a nice person clocking us at the end of the first mile, which was amusing – nothing like official proof that you are not very fast.

We weren’t running, but we clipped along at a pretty good walking speed for most of the race, close to the front of the non-runner crowd.  The race was two big loops around an urban park, which meant that halfway through, we got to watch people who were twice as fast as us cross the finish line.  A few hundred feet into the second loop, we noticed that one of the police cars on race patrol was coasting at our heels.  Apparently, most of the walkers had stopped after the first loop instead of doing the full 5K, and we were the last people in the race.  The very…. last…. people.

Well… we may be newbies to this 5K thing, but we were certainly not about to be last-place newbies.  So we started running.  We ran past several people.  We speed-walked past several more.  And then we saw the orange cones marking the finish lines, and we ran the rest of the way.  I’m sure it was humorous to the people at the line to see us almost-last-place folk carrying on like champions, cheering as we ran across, grasping each others’ hand victoriously in the air.

We felt honored to complete the race in celebration of the life of Samantha, and in support of our friends who will race this coming weekend.  Still, I expected the 5K to feel a little disappointing and anti-climactic.  After all, we’d failed to reach our goals.  Instead, I found it inspiring and fun.  I still don’t understand how people can get addicted to running, but I can see myself doing more 5Ks – and running all the way.

For Samantha

I’d like to tell you a little about this sweet baby and her parents.

Samantha was born beautiful and healthy on March 10, 2011.  At six weeks old, she was diagnosed with Group B strep.  She passed away at four months old.  There is so much more to say about Samantha, but no one could say it better than her family.  Samantha’s mom, Stephanie, has chronicled their story with honesty and poignancy on her personal blog, Blooming Joy, and Samantha’s CaringBridge page (along with some entries from Samantha’s dad Travis and her Aunt Allison).

Travis and Stephanie will tell you that they are not brave and strong, and that they have gotten through this only by the grace of a faithful God.  I believe that.  From my perspective, our faithful God equipped them to be extremely brave and even heroic – during Samantha’s illness, death, and after.  They parented her well when she was healthy.  They parented her well when she was dying.   And now, when Samantha’s free of pain, they continue to be amazing parents.  They treasure the time they had with her.  They’ve gone back to bring donations to the places that helped them so much during Samantha’s illness.  They honor her life.  They look forward to a reunion someday.

They are organizing a 5K to celebrate the life of Samantha.  This is a spiritual journey as well as a physical one.  They’re using the program Run for God, which is a Christian running program designed to strengthen people’s faiths as well as their bodies.  Money raised from the 5K will go to a sponsorship in Samantha’s name at Faith Lutheran School.

While I’m nowhere near Texas, my running buddy and I are running in support of Travis and Stephanie and in honor of Samantha.

Want to run too?

Stephanie’s 5K blog post

Run for God – a Legacy (post at Caringbridge.org)