Sunday, August 24, 2014

Building a Cathedral

Tomorrow is my amazing sister's birthday. I’ve been wanting to write about her for a while - and this week seemed like a fitting time.

Last August I had just started painting (or, more accurately, started daring to tell people that I was holed up in my basement playing with paint.) I told her that I was going to paint her something for her birthday -but she would get it late.  I wanted her opinion about what quote to add to it. I wanted it to be something that would make her happy every time she saw it. - So she figured out a great quote and I got to work.  But, I already knew what I wanted to put on it.... It wouldn’t really make sense for it to be front and center on the painting, I didn’t want her to have to explain it to everyone,  but I KNEW it needed to be in there somewhere. Maybe even hidden, so you had to look to find it... Maybe she would be the only one who knew it was there... but I wanted her to read it everyday....

So fast forward to November, my birthday. My birthday is on Veterans day, so it’s kindof a doozy each year. She knows it’s always very bittersweet so that morning my sweet sister brought over a beautiful necklace with a bird on it wrapped up with a copy of this story.....

"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie t his? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England .. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .
I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make everyday, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far a s to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my child to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women."

And at the bottom of the story she had written 

“God sees. and Brad sees.

And it was the most perfect gift.

I don't identify with every single line of the story, and Kalani and I probably have differences in exactly what we relate to about it. But I always love the reminder that "God sees" 
Every trial we have. Every tear we have cried. Every worry. Every fear.  Every single thing we have felt. I know my Savior sees this. And not only does He see, but He has the power to lift me up and carry me and heal the broken parts of me - and of all of us.  
When I began to read the story she had given me I started to cry - because THAT was the story that I had been thinking of when I started Kalani’s painting. And that phrase - 
with admiration for the greatness 
of what you are building when no one sees.
had always reminded me of my sweet, supermom, super everything sister.
It was the phrase that I had already started to sneak into her painting. 

See, this sweet sister of mine is an unusually amazing mother. She is actually an unusually amazing everything. She somehow manages to do everything and to do it well. I know that she works so hard at all she does, but  when someone notices something amazing she did she just shrugs it off and acts like everyone does that. 
She is wise beyond her years and I am so lucky I get her as a sister and  friend.  

I dropped this off to her on Mother's Day this year. 
(yes, it took me nine months...I'm not the fastest painter;)
Happy Birthday Kalani
(does it mean I’m a really bad sister if I don’t know how old you are??  - I would just go with 29...)
I love you. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 1st - A new day

May 1st is my least favorite day. This year I wanted to be a little more prepared.  I can always feel it coming and I struggle  for weeks before.

This year was a little different. Tyler had been out on her mission about 6 weeks. We were all still adjusting to her being gone and missing her. I knew that this year would be hard, partly because of that.

We have little rituals that help on that day. I always go to the temple. This helps me the most. We go as a family to the cemetery and do a balloon release. This has also been a good thing. The girls love sending letters up to daddy.

This year I wanted to add a little something different. I have some amazing widow friends who I get great ideas from all the time. I had seen online that some of them had gone around and done good deeds on anniversaries of difficult days. I LOVED that idea.  So, I started working on a plan for our upcoming horrible day.

We talked as a family {Sophie and Addie and I - our little family seems so small now... - side note - the other day while setting the table Addie said, "I wish there was still five of us." It broke my heart. But, I love that she knows that there really are five of us. That it seems like something is off because she's setting a place for only three.  I pray that each of my girls know that there are always five of us…but that we just don't all need a plate}

We talked about what we could do that would be special and meaningful on May 1st. We talked about how their amazing daddy went around doing good. I have saved countless emails and letters that people have sent telling stories about Brad. The common theme is that he served. He helped. He didn't wait to be asked, he just looked around and saw what needed to be done and got to work. And he was happy doing it. I feel so blessed to have been the recipient of so much of his goodness. He taught me more than I can put in words.  I am so grateful that the girls will get to read those stories and know this about their daddy.

I pitched them my idea about doing some good deeds. They were both excited. {although Sophie did express some concerns that I was going to "give away all our money" haha} They were excited about doing it for people they didn't know and having it be a surprise.

So we got to work. We printed up some cards that we could hand out with gift cards. For family night the girls wrote notes on the backs of those little cards.

After school on May 1st we got busy with our 
"Do a Good Deed Day" 
We went around buying food for people at the drive through and giving out gift cards… We talked about how doing something nice for someone else might help us not be so sad today. 

And I have to say 

It really was so fun.
 {& just so you know, fun and May 1st are words I never thought could ever belong in the same sentence.}   

The girls were so excited, watching the different cars behind us, knowing that they were going to get a  little surprise. They were giddy when we were driving away. Sophie loves to "spy" She's created her own spy club and loves being sneaky. She said this was like a "nice spy day" and she loved it. 

It sounds cliche, but choosing to do something besides think about our pain helped so much.
Other May 1st's I've just let myself be swallowed up in the pain of everything that I lost on this day.
Other May 1st's I have barely been able to function.

After reading about my widow friends doing this I knew it was something that could change this day for us.  I needed it to not be about me. It needed to be about something bigger.

Making it a day that we do good things in honor of Brad completely changed everything.

I was hesitant to post about what we did because - I don't know- It seemed strange to write about doing something for someone else. But, If my friends who did this wouldn't have posted about it, I probably would not have thought to do it on my own… so I decided to share.

This year our May 1st was completely different. 
There were still lots of tears shed. 
But some of those this year were happy…

Happy tears watching my girls be SO excited about giving gifts.
Happy tears knowing that Brad would be happy with what we did with this day.
Happy tears for all the family and friends who reach out and help. Our day was filled surprise treats dropped by the house, gifts on the porch and encouraging notes, texts and messages. Every note and like on facebook was noticed and appreciated. I am so grateful for people who let us know that they remember. It's funny the way it works out. We always seem to get so much more than we give.

This year our May 1st was transformed. 

I think we have a new tradition.

In honor of Major Brad Funk

{looks like the guest of honor showed up as well}

six years closer to you my boy
We Love You

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tyler's Song…6 years

Six years.

Instead of focusing on the sad…. or the loss.

Focus on the LOVE. 

Because no time, no distance, nothing exhists in the world that can change OUR love.
It's mine and Brad's. And it's still growing and we are both actively still giving and receiving that love.
It is part of my physical makeup now.
And the real interesting part of our story….. is not the loss too soon, or the hard parts.
The real story in my life that is worth sharing is the LOVE STORY.

And that is still being written.

Everything I do now, Brad is a part of. I can feel him cheering me on and whispering that he's close. and that he loves me and that he's proud. I can feel his influence in our home and with our girls. I can feel him tell me he loves me…. 

And today - that love makes me feel exactly the same as it did before Brad's death. 
It makes me feel like I can do anything with him by my side. And my sweet husband is good at reminding me that he is still by my side. 

Tyler is a little musician. She wrote a song a few months ago that I thought would be fitting to share today. 

{and I get to brag for a minute…. because she is not here to get mad at me for doing it…}

Ty took some words that I wrote and stuck on my bathroom wall to help me remember some important things. {I shared them in this post}  She took those words. That were not a song - or poetry, or even close to it...and turned them into a beautiful song. {I still told her I get a song writing credit though :) } 

She wrote the music - for guitar and piano, and all the harmonies and arranged them all… basically, she is brilliant and amazing.  I will never forgot when I got a little video text she sent from school of her playing this song for the first time… I was in awe of her and cried lots of happy tears.   One of my favorite memories of this year was going with her and getting to listen while she recorded some of her music. (this is the 2nd song she has ever written by the way…)

{I made a video so I could upload it to youtube…basically, because I didn't know how to get just the song on here. - so enjoy some cute pics of my extra sexy husband while you listen.}

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


New Year.

I've been looking back over 2013 and realizing a few things. 2013 was a big year for our little family. We had lots of changes. {most of which I was dreading}

I remember at this time last year being overwhelmed even thinking about everything that would happen this year. Ty would graduate and go away to college. She would probably have a mission call. We were going on a trip of a lifetime to Europe. My baby would start Kindergarten. Sophie would turn 8 and get baptized. All the changes that I could think of that would happen in our family seemed even larger because of the fact that Brad would not be there for them. And every one of them brought me to tears when I thought about it. They were all good, exciting things. But the thought of doing them without Brad seemed a bit - well, unbearable.

So here is the interesting thing.  Each big huge thing came. {and I remember feeling overwhelmed a bit at the time} but each thing was a good happy thing for our little family. They weren't horrible and they weren't sad.

And Brad was able to let me know with each big overwhelming change,
that he was right there with me.

That he was not missing it.

and that I was not alone.

And THAT changed each big thing into a new little miracle. And a new way for me to SEE the Lords hand in my life... and to see that we were not alone, but being LED along...

So I guess the main thing that I learned this year was that no matter what seemingly overwhelming thing is going on in our life…

instead of dreading it,

I will be on the lookout for those tender mercies that show me that my sweet husband is right here with us every step of the way.

Pretty Amazing Year.