Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 9: Holy piles of stuff, Batman!

One of the many beautiful roses at Ali's daycare...


Well, we picked up the 20 boxes we shipped home from MN at grandma's last night. Combined with the two giant boxes of books I recently ordered that also arrived today, we had a house FULL of cardboard today! Kudos to Ang's best friend Jen for coming over today to help make that pile disappear! Now we just have piles of stuff instead of piles of boxes, and it's definitely going to take a few days to sort out!

The weather has been beautiful here upon our return (it was 100 degrees here the week we were in TX... was that only last week? sheesh!). Ali is back at the in-home daycare she and Bella used to go to, and that has been a wonderful reunion for her. Yeah, she could go on to a preschool, but there is an academic curriculum taught by "Joanie," the wonderful grandma that runs the daycare. The most important piece though is that she is back in a routine she knows and loves, and for that we are most grateful. Her best boyfriend Conner is still at daycare, and the two of them are the only two over two years old right now, so it is good they have each other to play with.

More from daycare...

It is really interesting watching Ali rediscover so many of her giant toys that didn't make the MN journey (AKA Barbie cruise ship). Her style of play has evolved somewhat; she still can destroy a room in 10 seconds flat - don't get me wrong - but in a couple of brief moments, I have watched this 'little woman' just doing her thing, and there is a sophistication in her being that is present and distinct from last time I watched her play in this space. I'm noticing it because of the juxtaposition of this new Ali on this same old place. Kind of cool to watch.

I traveled to Encinitas today to work with a client of mine who is also one of my mentors, Christine Stevens. She moved while I was in MN and is renting the most conscious dwelling I have ever walked into. I won't get it right trying to describe the lineage of the owner, but suffice to say that a very holy man lives there and is spending 2 years in India right now. In the back yard, he has built a temple that is open to the public 24/7, and my client rents his small home on the grounds. It was like an Indian version of Mr. Miaggi's home in the original 'Karate Kid.' When I walked in her living room, she showed me a small alter, which had a picture of Bella on it, a candle, some fresh sage, and the butterfly card I sent her from MN just days before Bella died. Christine told me that she made that little shrine to honor Bella, and that this spot is where she prays for her.

Folks, you can make any place holy when you bring the deepest attitude of love, respect, and reverence to that place.

You can make any conversation holy when you bring the deepest attitude of love, respect, and reverence to that conversation.

You can make any relationship holy when you bring the deepest attitude of love, respect, and reverence to that relationship.

I believe we have divinity within us, and that when we bring these traits into any space of thought, action, or physicality, it lights the flame - ignites the spark - that allows divinity to not only flow out through us, but down upon us. To me, this is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I had the honor of playing guitar for one of our church members as he was taken off life support a few years ago. Weeks later, when I saw his wife, we hugged and cried, and I thanked her for allowing me to be in such a sacred space with her family.

She replied, "Tim, it was YOU who made it sacred."

Folks, we have the opportunity to bless ourselves and those we come in contact with EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY. That is not meant as a daunting obligation, that is meant as the most extraordinary and generous opportunity God could ever give us! We have that holy seed inside each one of us, and when we grow it and nurture it and allow it to blossom, we give those around us permission to do the same. We live in world where people wear emotional masks and armor to protect themselves from others. When we live this holy opportunity OUT LOUD and IN PUBLIC, we give people a chance to see life without masks, life without armor.

I tell you this, the most cynical and resigned and sour person you know once ran and played on a playground with no armor, and no masks. Show them what it's like - don't tell them - to walk free from your armor and masks, and give them a glimpse of that pure light they once let shine.

This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shine

What does it take to drop that armor, to drop those masks? Well it takes a couple of things for me, I'll tell ya. For one, it takes courage for me to be vulnerable. I say courage because sometimes I fear being vulnerable - it's not safe, I might screw up or get hurt - but to me courage is best defined as taking action in the face of fear. When I take off my armor, I am vulnerable to someone else's attack. What I find though is that if I am being authentically vulnerable, there is an inherent humility that comes with it, and for the most part, people don't choose to attack another humble and vulnerable person. For example, I let it all hang out on this blog with regard to my deepest personal beliefs on every subject important to me... vulnerable! I am stripping off the armor and saying to the world what is in my heart, and for all of those thousands of comments that have been left here, I can count on one hand the ones that were hurtful or written with anger and vitriol. Now, I have to be honest and point out that I know that they can be counted on one hand because unfortunately I remember every one of them. I could have stayed within the walls of safety and not chosen to open myself and my family to the perils of the internet, and for sure I would have no bitter letters written to me then, but to what would that safety avail me? Congratulations, Tim, you played it safe, and missed the opportunity of letting the world fall in love with your daughter and find constant inspiration in her and her daddy's words. Thank you for playing small.

No thanks, I'll take my occasional lumps in return for hopefully making a small difference with my little blog.

How bout you?

How heavy is your armor?

How burdensome are your masks?


I'm working on a new vision, like the one we declared for Bella. It might get refined still a little, but here goes:

"On October 11, 2010, Anabella Ringgold died from complications while seeking a cure for EB. On that same day ten years later, there are multiple treatment options available for every child born with that same disease. No one has to die from EB ever again."

If you are inspired by this vision like I am and you haven't yet made a donation of any amount, please click on the button up top and make a small or large donation to PUCK to help us transform this vision into reality.

God night.

Our friend Grant and his and his wife Lacy's beauty Everlee Hope rocking my cap and one of Bella's coolest shirts!

And back by popular demand, I give you, "How to cook macs and cheese in the box with the Bella Mind Melt technique!


  1. Love Bella with the Mac & Cheese, but then again I love seeing pictures of Bella doing just about anything! I am happy Ali is back to her routine. Unpacking is no fun even in the best situations - I am glad you have such a wonderful support network!

    "How heavy is your armor? How burdensome are your masks?" WOW that stopped me in my tracks and made me think! Really tink! Thanks Tim for opening yourself and for helping me examine myself!

    Tina in NJ

  2. "On October 11, 2010, Anabella Ringgold died from complications while seeking a cure for EB. On that same day ten years later, there are multiple treatment options available for every child born with that same disease. No one has to die from EB ever again."

    Now THAT gave me goosebumps! Very cool!

    Glad Ali is back at daycare with her friends. A very fun and healing place for her to be.

    God Bless!

    St. Peter, MN

  3. Hi Tim: I love love love your new vision. What a wonderful world it will be when EB children will have multiple treatment options. No more EB children being wrapped up, being in pain every single day, and parents being able to hold their child without worrying about hurting them. What a vision. I am praying for this day!!!
    God Bless You Tim. Thanks for everything!
    Love and Peace Leah's Nana

  4. Happy Anniversary a little late! This morning I was going through a toy catalog that came in the mail and saw this. The Bella Butterfly Hopscotch Game. Of course I thought of you!

  5. Now that is a FABULOUS vision. I hate to hurry up time (I am old enough already) but dangit, I can't wait to see that vision come true!!!

    I know I meant to say Happy Anniversary, but just in case I didn't: Happy Anniversary. And many more.


  6. I love it, the mind melt- exactly how you described!
    Amanda Schauer

  7. beautiful vision! hopefully the only thing wrong with it is the timeline! happy that your home and ali is back with some of her old friends. praying for you!
    amber, ia

  8. What an awesome vision! I too don't want to hurry up time..but I can't wait for this to be so! Love the Bella mind melt montage! I really feel like I am watching her "cook" the mac and cheese! The mind melt always makes me laugh...then and now.
    It felt so wonderful seeing you guys last night. As always we leave feeling blessed to have such amazing friends. We listened to the cd you gave us the whole way home.. thank you, it was beautiful! Last night when we got home, I was holding Everlee and rocking her saying our prayer and we started "talking" to Bella. Mid convo I opened my eyes and the butterflies above her crib were moving/fluttering in a circle...and not just slightly, but pretty good. Now, I am a huge wuss and get scared from watching shows like Criminal Minds, and normally this would have kinda freaked me out, but it didn't. I felt amazingly un-scared and very calm. I felt like Bella was there saying hi. It was so awesome! Love you all.
    The Vanderbooms

  9. Laughter the best medicine, which comes from the mini photo essay on Bella's mind melt technique haha, is great after tearing off some of my mask here last night and letting the tears flow as I shared. I LOVE love, even though it really hurts sometimes.

    Nice shots of those beautiful, peaceful, colorful, and happy. Keep taking those photos because you are, and you will keep getting better and better. Your physical sight will become more keen too, and that's the fun part. Your camera will become a part of your body then..haha Photography is such a great tool for expression, and I like to see things I've never seen before.


  10. Glad you guys are hanging in there.
    I just have a quick question which in no way at all is meant to be offensive.
    You mentioned in your post that one of your mentors had a shrine in memory of Bella and that she prays for Bella there. I am taking that to mean she prays in the present tense. My question is, if Bella is in heaven, why is there a need to pray for her? She can't be any better off than she is right now, can she?
    I know there are religions that believe you can "pray" people in to heaven, so to speak, but if she is already there, why is it necessary to pray for her?
    I prayed for Bella many, many times while she was so sick, but now that she is perfect in every way in heaven, I don't pray for her. In fact, I think it would be nice if she could pray for me! :)
    I'm curious to hear your thoughts. I don't mean to come across as tactless or mean. I really do want to understand the reasoning behind it.

  11. I felt the same about Ali when I looked at all your flikr. Photos for Bella's albums. She truly has grown....its awesome! Wish she could be in my kindergarten class next year!
    Those Mac and cheese pictures were on My mind, too....thus the box for Ali on your doorstep....they also made debut in her guest books.

  12. Anonymous,
    If you believe that Bella is still alive and her spirit exists and she is a part of heaven then she is just as real as when you could see her or hear her or touch her, only now you just can't do any of those earthly things. You can still open your heart to her to tell her that you love her and you can ask God to protect her just like you did when she was here on earth. She is neither any farther nor any closer to God than she was before (because she is a part of God as we all are, we just don't always realize it or allow ourselves to be "close" to God)and it is only our perception of her that has changed and with our perception how we relate to her. We can no longer care for the earthly being that made Bella so "real" to us but we can still care for the true Bella, the soul being, that is still with us if only we had the eyes to see.

  13. Conner sure missed Ali too!

  14. Glad to hear that Ali is getting back in her routine, I'm sure that helps her a lot.

    Love the mind melt pics - definitely gave me a good smile / laugh when I came home from work this morning. Tough night in the NICU last night. Thinking about Bella's "mind melt" will definitely help me get through another tough night tonight!

    Chicago, IL

  15. I love those pics of Bella and the mac and cheese. Priceless. She sure was concentrating hard huh? LOL

    I'm glad Ali got to see all her old friends today. I bet that was fun for her.

    Once again you you made my day with your words of inspiration! Thank you.

    Lots of Love,
    Amber, Craig, Malorie(2 1/2), and Liam(10 mos.)
    The McLaughlin Family
    Moreno Valley, CA

  16. Heaveno! I imagine you'll be posting a new entry not long after I post this comment - the day has been wild and crazy (with an airplane ride I won't soon forget!)

    Anyway, I'm all about that vision - I pray that it won't take 10 years, but God's timing is perfect, right?! Praying with you for this to happen.

    Bella's eyes are so intent in all her pictures - they are truly beautiful (you chose her name well!) How long did it take her to melt that mac and cheese?! :)

    Love to all of you from TX!
    Laura (for Team A)

  17. Tim! You seem to hit the spot every time! (In a good way)
    My therapist told me today that there is at least two people on my church that I have to tell certain things about me... Which for me means dropping my armour and making myself vulnerable. And just hours after that I read this! What an incredible encouragement! Thank you!

    Praying for you!

    Jennifer, Sweden

  18. I love what you said artfulgardener..the relationship never stops! So beautiful and comforting!