An overflowing cup . . . a full heart.


Four years ago today, we were planning a celebration.  It was a home going celebration, a celebration of a life well lived. Four days earlier we were planning a different kind of party, a birthday party. A celebration of 30 years on this earth.

What a difference one moment in time can make. In the blink of an eye, in one breath not taken, the world as we know it shifts.

These last four years have been indescribably difficult yet they have been filled with such and out pouring of love from family and friends. I have heard people say over and over that just a few months after a death people disappear and grow weary of the grief. That they are told to buck up and get over it. (As if there is a chance of “getting over it”)

Today on Jason’s birthday I want to thank my family and friends for not being the norm. Not one time have I felt like you just wanted me to get back to “normal”, “to get over it”, to “move on”. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

I love that you have let me experience my grief how I needed to experience it. I love that you have never left my side. How you have accepted this new me, because the old me will never be again.

Thank you for speaking of Jason, for reminding me of fun times you had with him. Thank you for telling me how much he meant to you, for telling me stories about him that I had never heard. Thank you for telling me you miss him too. This means more to me than you will ever know.

Thank you for being Jesus’s arms that have hugged me, his shoulder to lean on. Thank you for showering God’s love on me.

There are so many I could name here, but I won’t try and name names, there are too many. Two exceptions my daughter, Chelsey, and husband., Tim They have been my rocks, my heart.

My heart is full, my cup is overflowing.

heat in glass

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thess 4

Time. Grief. God’s Goodness.


Today I am sitting in Jason’s garden.  I have not done that much this year, it has made me too sad. This has been a difficult season for me, I am still trying to put my finger on why. Maybe I need to stop trying to figure out why and just let it be. The sadness is deeper this year, harder to shake off. Maybe there is no why maybe it just is.


Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds


Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Tomorrow is the 4 year anniversary of the day my world changed forever.

Time is a funny thing, it can seem like forever while feeling like it just happened yesterday.

Grief is a strange companion, mostly polite and staying in a distance so as not to bother life’s everyday. But some days it is demanding and will not be pushed away. (Read more about my thoughts on grief here)

But this truth I hang on to, God is good all the time.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.   Psa 27:11



I remain grateful and feeling blessed for the privilege of mothering this boy turned man. I thank God for the time we were given the last month of his life.  I praise God knowing I will see him again.

And then I smile at the mental picture of Jason, praising God for eternity.

What I have learned about grief

flowerGrief is sneaky. Out of the blue grief sneaks up on me. I do my best to prepare for the anniversaries, the times I know it will be hard. But it pops up, unwanted and unexpected.

Grief is strong. When grief hits it can take me down to the ground. Swiftly, I am out of breath and drowning.

Grief does not play fair. I make deals with grief, it can come when I am prepared, when I am ready to take it on, we have an agreement. Grief does not always abide by that agreement.

Grief is a thief. It sneaks in, uninvited, like a bull in a china shop, breaking our agreement and tries to steal my joy.

This is what I have learned about my grief. I say “my grief”, because everyone has a different grief visiting them, not all griefs are the same.

I have learned to give grief a time limit, especially when it shows up unannounced and bullies me into a puddle of tears. I give my grief  time and attention but with limits. I give myself permission to cry, a lot if I need to. I give myself permission to be sad, very, very sad, if I need to.

And then I invite grief to leave.

These are some ways I encourage my grief to leave; I go outside and soak up some nature. I listen to praise music, I read the psalms. I take a walk/run to get some good brain chemicals active. I count my blessings. I do something creative. I feed my soul. I pray.

I don’t always feel like I want to do these things, but I do them. I am persistent, I keep at it until grief finally gives in. Until it packs up it’s baggage and leaves.

So today, I am being persistent, grief swooped in yesterday and knocked me to my knees, but today I am standing. I am inviting grief to leave without taking my joy with it. Having cried myself to sleep last night in the wonderful arms of my understanding husband, I am sitting in my garden this morning. Worship is music playing, I watch the birds drink from the sprinkler, and the momma and poppa swallows try to keep up with the feeding of the littles. I am preparing for a prayerful walk/run with psalms of praise running through my mind.

I will not let grief overtake me. I have so much to be grateful for, I love my life, I will not let grief rob me of my joy.


The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ps 23

And so it begins . . .

. . . the season of Jason. That is what I call this part of summer. From now until the end of August is a tough time for me. Four years later I have moved beyond the paralyzing grief to a quiet sadness that comes and goes during these days. I miss him, I think of him everyday. But I smile more at the memory of him. I am thankful for the man he grew to be. I am grateful for every day I had the pleasure of being his mom.

This summer I feel ready to let go a little more, we will be spreading Jason’s ashes on August 21st at Canyonville Camp.

This I still hold true, God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

Here is a post I wrote about a month after Jason went home:

My journey this summer begins July 9th.

My son, Jason, called me, he had been struggling with “asthma” for a few weeks. He was struggling to breathe, could hardly walk across the room. A trip to the emergency room was needed, but he had been laid off a couple months previous. No insurance kept coming up, but finally he went. Little did we know at the time what would come of this.

A few hours later he was intubated and in an induced coma. I found myself sitting in a consultation room in ICU, trying understand the doctors words. He kept saying fragile. The doctor talked about a long recovery. It took days for me to understand that my son, was on the brink of death that day. Twice that night they brought him back.

For the next 17 days, we hovered, spoke softly to Jason. Spoke our love to him. He could not respond, but we wanted him to know. We sat vigil by his bedside. On the 18th day he regained consciousness, he was able to “thumbs up”. He often used the sign language sign for I love you. We communicated in a way, as he still had the tube down his throat, keeping him alive. But it was so good to communicate. The tube came out a few days later, he talked and talked. Of plans for his future, how he longed to serve God. how he wanted out of the hospital to begin his new life that was given back to him.

Quickly he got better, faster than anyone anticipated. But there continued to be that word – fragile. If you knew my Jason, fragile would not have ever been a word to describe him. Nine strapping pounds at birth, and every football coach that ever laid eyes on him, wanted him. Fragile was not what I would have ever used. but there it was, time and time again. Jason was far from out of the woods. He had a heart problem that caused his lungs to fill with liquid. It was treatable, but it would be a long haul.

His lungs recovered enough that finally on July 29th he got to go home. He was learning to live with this new discovery about his health. He researched it, he was going to beat it.

Then, suddenly, on August 3rd, 2011 – he went home. His real, permanent home. He was found like he just went to sleep and woke up in heaven.

So my son, with a heart so big with love, died of heart failure.

I miss him. I will see him again.

Jesus and Picket Signs


This morning I am sitting in my garden wondering about the righteous indignation I have been seeing. The picket signs, the yelling, the hate and judgment spilling from the mouths of “the righteous”.

I don’t recall Jesus ever carrying a picket sign. I began to think about the only times that I see Jesus outraged and angry was with hypocrites.

I see Jesus sitting with and loving people, I see him telling stories and inviting them to him. I see him moving through the masses with kindness while speaking truth with love. I see him feeding the hungry, healing the sick, I see him loving the sinner, which by the way is all of us. He calls us to himself gently and with unending love.

The picketing, the condemning to hell, not only turns my stomach it makes me extremity sad. It also makes me wonder, how pompous it must seem to Jesus. No one here on earth has the power to grant access to heaven or condemn to hell. How presumptuous to stand before another of God’s creations and pass such a judgment. Who do we think we are?

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but
fail to notice the beam in your own eye? Matt 7:3 (Luke 6:42)

I for one have much in my own life that needs attention before I begin to judge another.

On the other side, while I may or may not support certain things I reserve the right to do so with out being called out. Religious freedom, civil freedom, like or not gives us all the right to have an opinion with out being labeled. We seem to forget that freedom of speech and thought applies to all, not to just who we agree with. To threaten to take away another’s right to live out their convictions is wrong and hypocritical no matter which side of the line you stand on.

This is a very rough collection of thoughts and I want to end here with this:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have
loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
 1 Cor 13:13

Calling all men . . .

I Promise . . . . . .

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog, I want to thank the men who recognized the need in my children for a male presence. There were many, my dad, my brothers, and wonderful men from my church family. Youth pastors played huge roles in my children’s lives.

To the men who complimented my daughter, who gently teased her, who showed her how a man should treat a woman, how a dad should love his children and how a husband cared for his family, I am eternally grateful to you.

To the men who took my son on father/son fishing trips, to the men who mentored my son, who pointed him to Jesus, who showed him how to be a man, how to shave, how to treat a lady, who showed him how to protect and care for the women in his life, I can not express my gratitude.

Men, I want to challenge you to look for the fatherless around you, take a few minutes to think about how you can fill the gap, how you can serve that single mom that has no idea how to teach her young son how to grow up to be a man. She probably won’t ask, a single mom is used to doing it on her own, she may not know how to ask or where to look for help. If she is like me she won’t even know, when asked, how to articulate what she needs.

This is what she needs: she needs whole families to take her children on outings, she needs for her children to see how whole families interact with each other. She needs her children to see you treat your wife with respect, she needs her children to see you hold your wife’s hand, and hug your children. She needs you to show her son how to shave, how to change the oil on the car, how to set up a tent, how to fish, and how to play ball. She needs you to take her daughter with your daughters on an ice cream date, she needs you to show her daughter how a man should treat a woman, how a daddy treats his daughters.

God blessed me with amazing friends and family that recognized what I could not express, my children would not have grown into amazing adults with out my God, friends and family. Thank-you is too small a word to express my gratitude, but it is the only word I have.



Calling all fathers . . . .

Story time

Are you a father or a dad? There is a difference, I read once that just about any man can father, but not all fathers are dads.

Below is a paper written by my son, Jason. I found it when going through his notebooks after he passed. (You can read that story here). I ran across it again this week and I have to tell you my heart hurt and still hurts for this boy turned man who came to realizations that no child should have to. Before I give too much away, here are Jason’s words:

Why did I come? The first woman he made those vows to was my mother. This was where I finally realized that I didn’t want to be like my dad, the man I used to idolize.

Growing up there were rare occasions when I got to spend time with my dad. I knew all those times, he was an important person. My dad would get us into video game arcades where the machines were rigged to let us play for free. He knew the owner of the slot-car track in South Salem, so we wouldn’t have to pay to race. We could go to stores after hours so we were the only ones shopping. My mom would tell me, “your dad knows a lot of people,” and I’ve come to realize that was all there was to it, but it seemed like more when I was younger.

The wedding was in my father’s back yard. It was western themed. My dad along with the groomsmen all wore suits and cowboy hats. There were barrels laying around. Torches illuminated the yard. As impressive as the wedding was, the only thing I could think about was the fact that my dad had gone through this same ceremony with my mom over 20 years ago.

The first thing I remember is going to the park with my dad. He was pushing me on the swing and I, being the AD/HD 3 year old I was, started wondering what it would feel like to let go. It hurt, a lot. The whole way home I was crying and my dad kept saying, “if you don’t shut up I’m never taking you anywhere again.” It turned out that my collarbone was broken. He’s told me since that he feels bad about yelling.

As my dad stood at the altar, he was slightly taller than an average man and slightly more muscular than the average gorilla. His suit and cowboy hat in stark contrast to his normal gym shorts and t-shirt with missing sleeves. The sleeves were ripped off out of necessity rather than any sense of style. Nicely polished cowboy boots replaced his normal sandals. His straight brown hair stuck out just under his hat, and his beard and mustache were shaved off.

Several years back, just after he divorced his fourth wife, my dad called me. He asked me if I thought he could make money as a computer technician. Three months later he was a licensed computer tech. In another month he know more about computers that anyone I’d met. He’s always been like this. Whenever he gets tired of what he is doing he moves on to something else. About a year after the computer job he took a job repossessing cars. About six months later he called me and asked if I wanted to help him fight forest fires on a helicopter for the summer. He didn’t end up fighting. He tore his Achilles tendon while leg pressing something over 1800 lbs.

The minister performed a traditional wedding ceremony. So, despite being outside, in cowboy hats, the normal vows were read, “Through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, till death do us part.”

My parents got divorced when I was 4. I vaguely remember my dad driving away. I didn’t see him or hear from him much after that. After he married his third wife and moved to California, I only saw him two weeks out of the year. He always seemed to work nights, no matter what his job was. When I did visit I’d play Nintendo and wait for my dad to wake up. He would always have something to do before work, so I’d only get to see him for a few minutes. When he’d get home from work early in the morning, I’d always be awake to greet him. All he’d say was, “I’m beat son, I’ll see you when I wake up.”

His bride’s family owned a catering company. There was rice pilaf, chicken, turkey, spaghetti, punch, soda, wine, beer. The food was as aesthetically pleasing as it was plentiful. In the middle of the cake there were three covered wagons with a working waterfall.

He would miss birthdays. He wouldn’t call for months. He would seem to completely forget about me. But when he did call he somehow made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him and I sincerely believe, even now, that at that moment I was. We’d talk about my grades, what I was reading, the latest video games or the computer I was working on building. Whenever we would talk about computers the conversation would end with my dad saying, “well s*** son, I’m impressed.”

The reception, still in the backyard, included dancing. The D.J. played mostly country music. I was expected to dance with my grandmother, the brides mother, the bride. “I’m so happy to be married to your dad.” So was my mom. “He is such a great man.” I used to think so too. “He’s so good with my son.”
(Written by Jason Taylor, September 2009)

I ask again, are you a dad to your kids? Married or single, are you a daddy? I get it, being a single non-custodial parent is hard, it is really hard. Just being a parent is hard, but, they are worth the effort. Our kids deserve the effort no matter how hard it is.

I can’t say that often enough or loud enough, your kids deserve the effort, no matter what the effort is. Don’t let it be too late. Start over, do better, don’t say you’ll do better, do it. You can do it, it will be hard, there will be hard stuff, your kids may act as if they don’t want you. Keep at it, keep trying, your kids are worth your effort. They are worth your best efforts, over and over again. Never give up. Love them with actions not words, not stuff.

In these days before Fathers Day, I am pleading with you, from this momma’s heart, be the daddy your kids deserve.


Traci Castañeda

wife, mom, coach, & business woman

Relentless Growth

It's a process. My life as a disciple. Learning. Growing. Sharing.

Danny Ray

Magic, Laughter and Inspiration

The Real Life

Encouragement for Life Growth


Pull Up A Chair

Be Extraordinary!

BE inspired. BE challenged. BExtraordinary!

Indiana Jones and the Sea of Infinity

Photo-blog for a Jack-of-All-Trades

From Knowing to No-ing

My journey of putting knowledge to work.

The Overboard life

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Shannan...With An A

My Favorite Things

The 4 A.M. Writer

Writing about writing, life, and other musings

Janathan Grace Reflections

This is my journey of self discovery shared with you




A great site

%d bloggers like this: