a series of unfortunate events.

i was trying to think of a really simple way to catch all of you up on what’s happened in our lives over the past few years. my running title for this blog post was “a murder, a baby, and the church that broke my heart.” but it was just a little too on the nose. Those aren’t characters in some off-color dad joke, they are things that happened to or around me and shook my family to our core.

And the thing about being shook to your core is that you find out really quickly what your core is made of.

So let me catch you up for a second.

spring 2017 - the church that Zach grew up in and that we had been working at for two years completely broke our hearts. We chose to leave, but the circumstances were stressful, painful, and confusing. Because we resigned, we also had to leave our home - a brand new house that had been built for us. We had no job lined up and no where to go, so we wandered for four months. For three of those months, we lived in New York City and I started and built a business that sustains us to this day.

spring 2018 - a gang related murder happened outside of our house while i was home alone with the kids. I saw it. the kids didn’t. we were told by the police department that we needed to move because our home wasn’t safe anymore. the night before we moved out, our car was totaled by a drunk driver while we were sleeping in our beds. the next night (after we had moved out) another shooting happened at that same house, but this time on our front steps. We were safe in our new home, in a safer part of town.

spring 2019 - we were so happy to find out we were expecting our fourth baby, only to lose him a few weeks later.

It’s weird to see those events laid out so simply. So casually. So few words to describe the intense trauma, heartbreak, and loss. With barely enough time to recover from one event, another one slammed us in the face and knocked us off our already wobbly knees. It’s felt so unfair. So undeserved. So … much.

It’s often felt like our time in New England has meant nothing but death. We have lost so much. And it would be so easy to focus on the trials and the suffering. But when we moved back to New England after four months of wandering, we had such a different, softer perspective. God had been so faithful to us and that’s all I wanted to talk about. Remember how I said you see what’s a your core when you are shook? Our cores were heartbroken and sad, but they were also full of gratitude and joy.

That’s the shift. It’s not about faking it or pretending life is better than it really is. It’s acknowledging that is isn’t only bad. It isn’t only suffering. You can still enjoy your life even when it’s hard. You can still find things to be thankful for. When you only focus on the things that are going wrong, you victimize yourself over and over again. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a victim, nor do I want my children to grow up believing that their circumstances have control over them.

Joy in suffering and hope in heartbreak aren’t just ideals, they are attainable. The first step is to decide that you’d rather be joyful.

Kristen LaValley6 Comments