Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Nine years ago today, I sat in a hospital room hooked up to monitors, with the crushing knowledge that my sweet fourth son's life was near it's end.  I was taken for a midnight ultrasound to take a look at the umbilical cord as it was suspected that the blood flow was beginning to slow to his body.  My greatest wish was to meet him alive.  I was told it was a long shot, but the doctors promised they'd try.

The ultrasound confirmed that our time was running out and I was bombarded with decisions.  Big decisions.  I am not by nature a decisive person, anyone who knows me knows that any decision causes me pretty great anxiety...ok, maybe not any decisions, there have been some decisions in life I have unequivocally known the way to go...marrying Howard, adopting my kids, those were no brainers.  What kind of mattress to buy...nope.  Hours and hours of research, to be sure I don't make the wrong decision and have to sleep on a lumpy mattress for the rest of my days precede a decision like that.  I am not being dramatic, it really causes me great anxiety, some days I just need someone else to make all of the decisions that I KNOW aren't a big deal but somehow make a big deal.

This day, there was no such person.  Howard and I were faced with what to do next.  We could have a c-section immediately and hopefully meet our boy before he died or we could wait it out and let his lungs mature more giving him a greater chance of longer survival.  Then, once he was born, what measures would be taken, who would be in the room, what would happen next?

We took a breath and decided we wanted to meet our boy, his heart was slowing, and it wasn't looking good.  We made phone calls to our friends and family and let them know they were welcome to come and meet him, we called our favorite NICU nurse, a photographer and our pastor.  We made a plan.  I would deliver the baby and they would close me up ASAP and I would be taken to recovery where his siblings would come in and meet him, followed by grandparents, aunts, and friends.  The photographer would be there all the while capturing every precious moment.

The decisions came easy, we just knew what to do, we have NO regrets about our time with Asher and we somehow got a tiny lifetime out of the thirty minutes he lived.  He met many people and he knew only love.  He died peacefully in our arms and it was a day of tangible love, grace and hope.

Fast forward nine years, tonight I stood in Target and cried a river because for the life of me I could not choose a toothpaste.  Why on earth are there so many choices?  They all do the same job, but what if there is a better one, which one gives me the most for my money?  It is maddening.  I stood there and cried and cried. I finally threw one into the cart and moseyed back to electronics to find Luke.  He could see I'd been crying and he asked what was wrong.  I told him I was overwhelmed picking a toothpaste.  He looked at me and said, "Mom, I doubt it is about the toothpaste. It maybe is because tomorrow is your dead son's birthday."  Maybe.

On the ride home he spoke with wisdom and kindness that made my heart overflow.  We stopped at a drive thru for ice cream and fries.  As we pulled away, I looked at him and said, tomorrow is your brother's birthday.  He handed me a fry and said, "Let's have a fry and cry".  We did.  I sometimes worry about secondary trauma inflicted on our kids because of the things they've lived and continue to live and then my thirteen year old shows me he gets it.  He didn't try to offer meaningless words, he didn't try to fix it.  He handed me a french fry and cried with me as we talked about what a nine year old Asher might be like.

We got home and he helped me carry our bags in and he went to get a shower.  As I was putting things away I heard him soothe the baby back to sleep when she began to fuss and I thought about how lucky I am to have that kid.  He then came out of my bedroom and said, "Mom, I found this kitchen knife lying around in your room, I figured it ought not be there, so maybe just put knives away when you are done using them in your bedroom."  We both laughed, and he hugged me and thanked me for spending the evening with him and as he went to bed he said, "You're a good mom, Asher was really lucky to have you for his whole life."

His whole life.  Asher had his mom and his dad for his whole life, not many of us do.  While I'd do anything to have had him here with me today, and I sure wished he were following me around Target tonight picking out birthday goodies, I had him for 31 weeks, 4 days within my womb and 30 amazing minutes outside.  He had his mom for his whole life and she could not have loved him more.  I'll probably always wish for more, but I know he now wishes for nothing.  He is perfect and whole and with his Heavenly father, and while my body physically aches for him every day, he lives on in us, we are different because he lived.  We know a compassion and a depth of soul that we never would have known without his brief life and while my heart aches, it also bursts with joy and pride that he was mine.  I had him for 30 minutes, he had me forever.  It is well, it is well with my soul.

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

Asher "Happy" Joseph Bolte 2/22/2008

Monday, February 13, 2017

Let Light Shine Out of Darkness

2 Cor 4:2,6 (NIV) We have renounced secret and shameful ways... For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

I don't know about you but these days I look around and I feel overwhelmed.  I see stories of addiction, sexual abuse, mental illness, violence, etc and I wonder what in the world is happening.  I had a conversation with my grandmother about some of these things that were weighing me down and she said that these things were not so rampant in "her day".  I got to thinking.  Is that true?  Are these issues new?

I would argue that they aren't new at all.  Those issues have been around for as long as people have been around I'd guess.  I don't think they are more common today, I think people are getting BRAVE and talking about them.  History tells us that many atrocities happened long ago, I think the difference is that for many years people were silenced.  These were things no one was expected to talk openly about.  When we keep secrets, eventually they will have to come to light...eventually whether they are spoken about or acted out, they come out.

For decades, maybe centuries, people have dealt with all of these issues in silence.  They were inappropriate things to speak of and so they got shoved away, deeper and darker, and in that darkness they fester, they begin to cause rot and decay, the decay spreads and spreads until eventually something comes to light or the rot takes over.  I think this silence and suppression of these issues has caused the infection to grow, it becomes a cycle and the only way to break that cycle is to get honest, open up and address the issues.

An abuse victim shoves their fears and feelings down until they grow and the abusee becomes the abuser, a person struggling with mental illness shoves the shame away until the illness takes over.  A person struggling with addiction continues to feed the addiction until that addiction brings death and destruction.  We can't keep on keeping' on this way...we need to be brave, we need to bring it all to light.  We live in a broken world where terrible things happen and we need to talk about them.  It is time to break the stigma.

I think there are far too many of us carrying around hurts and traumas that we are not meant to carry alone.  I don't know why these things happen to so many, but I know we were never meant to try to handle them alone.  I've been criticized for being so open about my mom's suicide and my own struggle with depression and anxiety.  More than the criticism though I've had people share stories with me that they had previously been unable to share, people who've contemplated their own suicide but found hope in knowing they aren't alone.  My mom's birthday was yesterday and I can't help but think that if she had felt she could share, if she could be honest and bring that darkness to light she might still be here today.

Friends, you aren't alone.  Whatever your struggle, you are never alone.  When we get brave and we share our souls and the deepest darkest parts of them, we allow light to shine into the darkness and the light will cause growth, the rot and decay will stop and true growth and healing can take place.  I think for many generations stigma and taboo won, that must end here.  No more shame, no more stigma, no more taboo, you are loved and you are not alone.  I urge you, whatever your struggle, whether addiction, mental illness, sexual abuse, abuse, anything, reach out to someone who loves you well, bring the darkness to light, take back your power, God can bring beauty from the ashes of any circumstance, but as long as it remains in the dark it will fester and the infection will spread, so bring it to light, let the light shine out of the darkness, I am here, I am with you and I am always honored when you share your stories with me so feel free to email me if you aren't sure who else to share with.

Let's leave a better world for our kids and bring it all to light!

Mat 5:14-15 (Phi) "You are the world's light; it is impossible to hide a town built on top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lampstand, and it gives light for everybody in the house."