Still Standing Magazine: 10 Bible Quotes to Provide Hope and Strength After Loss

My most recent article for Still Standing Magazine is up. I was really hesitant to write this one because I’m not one to discuss my faith or God much. I didn’t really have much a relationship with God until the loss and it’s something I’ve struggled with. But, I’ve been trying to get into the habit of reading the Bible daily since so many questions can’t ever be answered in life. Having faith, in a way, provides those answers to some of the questions or at least offers some comfort and solace to those who are grieving.

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A Grandmother’s Story: Dear Chrissie

I’ve been struggling to write this holiday season. I have a bunch of posts that are half-written random streams of consciousness. Hopefully, I’ll have something to post before year-end. I’ve also been taking a reprieve from social media the past few weeks to reset my brain and help with saying goodbye to 2016. In the meantime, Mom is here today with a new post to take us into Christmas this weekend.  -Christina

Christmas is a few days away. Many families are hurrying to finish their last-minute decorating, shopping and baking. Some kids are mailing their “Dear Santa” letters in hopes that their special toy will be under the Christmas tree. In many homes, families are watching traditional television classics such as “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “Scrooge”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “The Christmas Story”. (The latter is one of my favorite movies).

Another yearly tradition that you begin to see on television are our military personnel in surprising reunions with their families. Whether these reunions are depicted in a commercial or shared during a newscast, they are heart-warming and make you realize how precious family are. These are the times when I think most of you, Christina, and a grandson, taken so early. This is why it would be apropos to write this blog to my daughter because there’s nothing more important to me right now but my Chrissie!

During my pregnancy with Christina, my OB-GYN thought I was going to have a boy. When she arrived, it was a different story. Originally, I had thought of the name “Christopher” because of Warren Christopher, the former U.S. Secretary of State. He was instrumental in securing the freedom of 52 Americans hostages in Iran in the 1980s. At the time, I lived in Milwaukee and one of those hostages was a Wisconsinite. I recall several people tied yellow ribbons around trees to signify support of their release. I drove my parents nuts when I decided to tie a yellow ribbon around a newly planted birch tree in our front lawn.

Early on during the pregnancy, I had told my adopted mother that I was going to name my baby after Warren Christopher. Of course, it truly was a different outcome when you arrived and they handed you to me. So, when the doctor asked what name to give you, “Christopher” became “Christina”. I was still very adamant that I was keeping the name “Chris”, but I simply called you, “Chrissie”.

Me and my Mom, I think around 1983. This photo was taken at my “happy place”, Walt Disney World, as we were waiting for a parade.

To my precious Chrissie,

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We survived! Life goes on. I was relieved to see the wonderful turkey and all the fixins’ you and Brett made. You have been making strides during these couple of months.

Now, it’s Christmas.

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A Grandmother’s Story: My Journey in the Wilderness

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. It’s been more than 2 weeks since the last post. Been struggling with a few things so haven’t felt up to writing either physically or emotionally. Hopefully, I can catch up this weekend to get some thoughts down. In the meantime, my Mom has patiently waited for me to post her most recent piece. Thanks Mom! ~Christina

“Wilderness,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is defined as a wild, uncultivated, uninhabited area, undisturbed by human activity. Oxford English Dictionary describes it as “an inhospitable region.”

Years ago, when I first came to America, I experienced this type of “wilderness,” when I lived in Alaska for several years with my biological father and his family. I was around 9 years old. Even though we lived inside a military base, the areas surrounding us, were uncultivated and uninhabited. We were surrounded by wilderness with acres after acres of evergreen trees, which during wintertime, especially after a snowfall, looked like lovely white Christmas trees. The homes and buildings looked magical with frozen water freezing mid-stream, forming icicles around the edges and from the rooftops. It was beautiful.

During the weekends, my father would take me to the wilderness, probably for two reasons. One to enjoy nature and also to teach me several lessons, such as fishing, dangers with wildlife and active listening. We would get into his two-door VW bug. As he drove, he would tell me to stay near him and he would say, “It’s beautiful here but it’s dangerous to be out by yourself, so stay close, listen to me, or you will become an appetizer for a bear!”

Papa McKing out fishing in the Alaskan wilderness

When we got to our destination, he would strap on his holster, a gun on each side of his hips, fishing poles in one hand and a bucket in the other. Sometimes, I wondered if he was even familiar with some of the places he took me. But, he just seemed to know what to do. On one trip, he taught me how to shoot his pistol and shotgun. He said, “You’ve got to be prepared, just in case you need to help keep our family safe.” (I was the eldest of his three children).

A serene stream was a few yards away from our car. He would teach me to fish for trout or salmon. Sometimes we would go by the rocky beachside to catch clams, crabs or other shellfish. We would clean whatever we caught during the trip right where we were, if the weather permitted. We would cook our catch over boiling seawater and open flames. No need to get a permit from the KOA. Nope. It was as open as it could be. I loved it! I have never tasted fish and seafood like that since leaving Alaska. You’ve heard of the famous Alaskan King Crabs? They are large and delicious. It’s become a family favorite. Some crabs are larger than myself. (Another story). It was peaceful and quiet, the sound of your breath would often be deafening. Sometimes, I would think to myself that I would scare off the fish. I was just so young and naive. What did I know? My dad taught me which berries were edible. My young siblings and I loved to pick them off the tiny shrubs. No need to wash them, my father said. It’s all natural. To this day, I remember how delicious those wild salmonberries, red currants, cranberries and wild blackberries tasted. However, my father was always nearby, carefully fishing or cooking our catch, and keeping a keen eye on us, reminding my siblings and I, not to go too far. “Remember the bears,” he would say. Especially when we were picking the berries. Fresh berries and fresh fish always seem to attract wild animals.

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