Monday, June 29, 2009


I haven't blogged in a while. I've been struggling with something. So, rather than continue to sulk in my own depression, I thought I'd share it with everyone. My hope is that it will help me and perhaps reach someone else who may be going through a similar struggle. Here goes ...
This past Friday, we celebrated the life of my husband's niece, Jorden Aryne Sopher. She went missing three years ago. In May of this year, her body was found in a wooded area, overgrown with vegetation. Jorden was a beautiful young woman. I had the honor of being her Aunt Aine for sixteen of her eighteen years. This honor was given to me on the day I met her and her siblings. I was a young sixteen at the time. I remember that each of my husband's nieces and nephews welcomed me with an immediate "Aunt Aine." At the time, Jerry and I were dating and nowhere near the age of being married. But, those children seemed to sense that I would someday be a part of their family.
Since that day, I think I've taken for granted that the children in my life accept me so openly. Over the years, there have been new faces added to the family. Each one of them following suit of the children before them. They love me unconditionally and without any expectations. I can walk into a family gathering and, even if I don't receive affection from the adults, I receive it from the children. There are always hugs and "love you's" from beautiful red head girls, sweet brown haired young ladies ...
Here is where my struggle begins. Have I returned that unconditional love? Have I accepted each child just as they are without any reservations?
I can answer that with a simple .... no.
And this is where my depression takes root.
There is no way to go back and give extra hugs to Jorden. The last one I gave her was a quick hello and goodbye in front of the local video store. My husband and I ran into her while we finished renting our movies and she was headed inside with a crew of children in tow. We asked the usual questions ... "you ok?" and "you'll call if you need anything?" ... a quick hug and goodbye. Her sweet smile.
What would I do if another child in my life was taken? Jorden's disappearance and death have made me stop and think. Think about my nieces and nephews. Think about my boys. Think about regrets, could haves and should haves. I regret that I didn't tell Jorden more often that I loved her. I could have called her, asked her to go out for lunch or to a movie. I should've sent her birthday cards, Christmas cards and told her she was extremely special ... just like her sisters and brother. Just like my other nieces and nephews. Just like my three sons.
On Friday, we attended a memorial service for Jorden. There was no casket, no ashes ... her body is still being tested to determine a cause of death. Her adoptive family created a beautiful memory disc. I watched as Jorden grew up in pictures. There was one particular picture that stood out to me ... Jorden at about 3 years old, wearing a little dress and stockings that were way too long for her short legs. She was holding a Barbie doll with unruly hair. Jorden's hair was a bit disheveled itself. Plastered across her small face was the sweetest smile. They played a song ... one that I love, "When God Ran." It tells the story of the prodigal son. And, how God loves us unconditionally. When I hear that song, I can almost see our heavenly Father standing at the end of a long road that is overgrown with dense trees, a fog hanging just over the treetops ... and the moment He sees one of His children at the other end of that road ... He runs to meet them.
I know that my faith will see me through this time of sadness. I know that God takes home those that have accomplished their purpose through Him.
Another thing that I know without a doubt. I will soak up every smile, laugh and "love you" that the children in my life give me. Only God knows the time that each of us will be called home. No sadness, depression or anxiety can add one day to our lives.
If there is a heavy burden weighing on your heart, if an incredible sadness seems to be hanging over you ... meet God at the end of the road. He's there waiting for you. Just as He waits for all His children. That's where I am tonight. At the end of that road and God is running to meet me and wash my sadness.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Have you had those days where it doesn't matter how hard you try, what you say or do ... it's just not your day? Maybe you feel like it's always someone else's day, a good game for the other guy and not you, somebody else always gets the promotion at work. You know that feeling I'm talking about. The deep down, nothing's gonna help it feel better kind of day.

One of my boys could tell you how that kind of day feels. Sure, he's just a little squirt and his troubles don't match our "grown up" rotten days. But, in his life, it doesn't get much worse than being the only kid on a baseball team that couldn't get a hit in the game.

His inability to hit the ball isn't from the lack of trying, practicing or giving it his all. The little guy has spent hours outside playing catch with his Dad and brothers. My husband and I have thrown countless pitches and given him pointers that he always takes to heart. For some reason, the bat just doesn't get there at the right second. He can hit the ball any number of times in our backyard but when it comes game time, no hit.

Generally, he gets one shot at bat each game. His coach gives him pointers, lets him know he can hit it and my boy squares up to the plate just like he's practiced ... no hit. He walks away from home plate with his shoulders slumped, his face a mirror of discouragement. All the while, my heart sinks with each step. In my mind, he should be getting a homerun. He's worked hard enough and practiced long enough, he deserves a homerun hit.

Last week, I was determined that he would have a hit at the next game. My husband and I worked with him each day. We even mowed a ball diamond in our backyard. (Yes, we are that crazy. Call me a redneck.) On Saturday morning, my son was up and ready to practice at 7:00 a.m. He blew through my bedroom door and yelled "It's morning, I'm ready to practice hittin' just like you said!" He practiced his heart out that morning and was all set for his game that afternoon.

At the game, my little guy walked up to the plate for his first pitch and swung as hard as he could. Slam!! I think I was the loudest parent on the bleachers. My son had his first good hit of the season. No, it wasn't out of the park but he got to first base. Then, his team batted him in for a point! I went wild. Our friends sitting near us gave me looks of bewilderment and other spectators looked at me as though I were crazy.

Guess what, I didn't care. All I could see was my little boy's face as he crossed home plate. His hands were raised in victory fists and he looked right at me and his Dad. His smile would've lit up a Christmas tree! I will admit there were some tears behind my sunglasses.

I realized something as I stood there cheering for my boy. God is alot like that, isn't He? God is like that parent in the bleachers. The parent that doesn't care what anyone else thinks. All He cares about is loving us and cheering us on. He helps us practice, encourages us to keep on going and yells the loudest when we cross home plate.

Maybe it's because He knows just how hard we work to get our first good hit. He's right there when it seems like everyone else has a good game but not us. Today, if you're discouraged and you feel like no one cares, look up in the bleachers. God's right there cheering you on.

Phillippians 3:14 "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Finding Jorden

There are moments in time marked by special memories, lifetime achievements, the miracle of birth, love .... and death. In those moments, we are found in a heightened state of awareness. It's as if every inch of our being is in a state of feeling. I can remember the first time I saw my husband. I remember the dress I was wearing that day and the look in his eyes. The moment each of my boys took their first breath and I heard their first cry. I will always know the way my heart felt in those moments.

Today will mark one such memory. However, this memory is laced with pain rather than happiness. My heart is not fluttering with joy, it is burdened with sadness.
May 23, 2006, Jorden Sopher walked out of our lives and today we grieve the reason she never returned. For three years, we have hoped for her safe return. Each of our family have looked for her, asked questions about her and tried to find her. It was our hope, our prayer, that she simply chose to leave on her own. That she wanted a life of her own design and making.

Jorden was 18 on the day she disappeared. She left her adoptive father's garage, walked down an alley and was gone. Her purse, cell phone and savings account were left untouched. These facts lead us to believe what we longed to deny. Something wasn't right. I know exactly where I was when my husband and I received the call that Jorden could not be found. I remembering feeling that things were all wrong. Somewhere, somehow she was safe and the missing days could easily be explained away. Those days turned to months and then years. There have been days when I see a young woman resembling Jorden. My husband and I have stopped and watched to see if it's her. We won't do that anymore. In some ways, this day brings closure and peace. In other ways, we are left with more questions than answers. Today, we still do not know how she passed away, who was with her when it happened or why they would hide her body.

For those living near our area, you have most likely heard of her disappearance and of the remains found between Wabash and Miami county. The day we heard of the discovery, we felt in our hearts that it was Jorden. How is it that your heart knows these things?

Our hearts are broken and we ache for the life she could have, should have lived. The news and media are covering her disappearance and the discovery of her body. They claim the body to be "what remains of Jorden Sopher." For me, Jorden Aryne Sopher remains.
Jorden's love remains. Her spunk, zest for life ... her beauty remains. These are the things my heart longs to remain. Jorden loved children and children loved her. She had a perpetual smile on her face and sparkle in her eyes. These things remain in our hearts.

If I have learned something from this experience, it is to love with all your being. If a thought crosses your mind ... like sending someone a card just to say "I love you", stopping by to say they crossed your mind, calling to hear their voice or so they can hear the love in your voice ... Do it. Call them, write that card, stop by and say "I love you." These are things I thought to do but never did. Today, I wish I could go back and tell Jorden that she was special and loved.

We have had three years to prepare for this day. I've thought many times how I would feel if the unthinkable became reality. Today, reality came and we were all unprepared. To those that took her from us, put her body in a hidden place ... no anger, bitterness or hatred could bring her back. There is only forgiveness. Because I fully believe that is what Jorden would want.

I pray that in some moment, those responsible for her death and for the way her body was placed, will feel a burden to come forward. That they will long for the release of admission and forgiveness.

For me, I look on each situation through the faith that has grounded me since my youth. In Ecclesiastes, we are told that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance.

On the day my husband and I were married, Jorden wore a sweet white dress all covered in silk and lace. Her hair was sprinkled with baby's breath and she wore a smile that would've melted a heart of stone.

Jorden, I hope that in some far away place ... a place more beautiful and splendid than anything you witnessed on earth ... you are dancing.