Chaotic Musings

As I pen this post, chaos is all around me – literally. Movers are delivering furniture. Tile workers are destroying the kitchen backsplash. A painter is ripping sheets of old wallpaper from the hallway. A woodworker is staining the stairs. The dogs are barking. The noise-cancelling headphones only block out so much.

In the midst of this chaos, it occurs to me – I can handle it. This is no big deal. I’m not even rattled. Why? Because I know the plan. I can envision how the mess will come together in the end. I know that the upheaval is both temporary and necessary. I can buy into the vision because it’s my vision. I created it (with help of course).

Life’s chaos shouldn’t be any different. But it is. Why? Simple answer – it’s not our plan. Granted, we are too frequently participants of our own pandemonium, but so often our lives are thrown into disarray by outside forces. The boss is breathing down our necks and our inboxes are piling up. The teacher schedules yet another conference to discuss Little Johnnie (or Jeannie’s) “leadership skills” in the classroom. The dogs chew your new sofa. Phone calls come in rapid succession sharing unbearable news.

In the throes of turmoil, we lose sight of the game plan. We forget that the mess is going to come together in the end. The final outcome is so simple and so satisfying –  no more tears. That’s great and it’s easy to get on board with that plan. I love that plan, but what about today?

Even though God has shared his vision with us, I still struggle in these in-between days. God has shared the beginning, and He’s laid out the end. God even warns that the in-between days will be frenzied and disordered, but I still want more. I want to know. On my worse days, I want to fix it.  I desire to impose my vision when I’ve only been invited to partake of God’s vision. God has not appointed me to a heavenly Board of Directors for purposes of devising a strategy for moving forward.

God’s smart like that. I may (with the right help) be capable of choosing some fresh paint colors and a new countertop, but God knows that running the universe is outside my skill set.

God is the master Artist. In the beginning, He created the universe in the way a painter looks at a blank canvas and begins to apply color. God created out of nothing. The first strokes on canvas can appear haphazard to the bystander. Yet as layer after layer of paint is added, a scene comes into focus.

These middle days are the days of haphazard color and missing layers. God sees the finished work that is still outside our realm of comprehension. The day is coming. The final stroke will be applied to the canvas. We will see the final masterpiece in all of its Glory. We’ll be able to see how the brushstrokes of our own lives fit into the whole and how the finished piece wouldn’t be whole otherwise.Warhol Quote

So, as I soak in the frenzied creativity taking place all around me – I am reminded to step back. I’m reminded that when life feels out of control, He is always in control. I’m reminded to trust God’s ultimate vision. I’m reminded that when our tears our wiped away, we’ll see clearly.

SDG

A Cell with No Lock

A lot of people have great conversion stories. I’m not one of those people. I wish that I were, but my “conversion” story is pretty mundane. Church is woven through every memory I have. Church for me was just a part of growing up like going to school and family dinners on Sunday afternoon. In some ways, I’m jealous of those who can pinpoint the exact moment or time period when they first believed. My nephew, Chase Chism, is one of those people. This week, my sister-in-law, Shala Rudd, shared a video on social media of his testimony. The Power that overtook him when he first believed jumps out and grabs you! My “run-of-the-mill-grew-up-in-the-church” story doesn’t have that same zing to it. Read more

“No Outlet – Dead End”

These days, everyone seems to rely on some form of electronic map to get from Point A to Point B. Not only do these systems direct you “left” and “right,” they chirp cheerfully when traffic builds up or a cop is ahead. No matter how sophisticated the chirp or the English accent of the system – at some point, each one will send you in the wrong direction. Sometimes they may be off by a street or two. Sometimes, more. Once, I ended up at a similar address that was forty-five minutes from where I was supposed to be. Sometimes, you are led the wrong-way up a one-way street or land at a dead end.

You’ve been there. What’d you do? If like most people, you just pull to the side of the road and set up camp. That’s right. Pull a tent out of the back of the car. Lay down roots Make a new home. Yep -right there in front of the sign reading “No Outlet – Dead End.” Read more

Summer “Daze”

In the world of family law, summer is a battleground. Parents jockey for position in an attempt to manipulate visitation schedules so that they’d get more time than the other parent. Usually, they just wanted that unfettered time of lazy days devoid of the school calendar. School’s out. No homework. No responsibility. Just fun as far as the eye can see.

Sometimes, parents would be more particular about crafting a schedule, homing in on the “forgotten” holidays – Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day. And, in South Louisiana where summer typically stretches deep into October, parents often went to war over “Parish Fair” Day – that extra Friday in October when the world of Washington Parish revolves around the fair. (Other parts might recognize this as the “county fair.”)

For those dealing with the loss of a loved one, summer can be a battleground. Even when the sky is cloudless and blue in the shade of a memory, shadows loom with the intensity of storm clouds. Read more

Does the “Beginning” Ever End?

One of the things “they” say after losing a child is that the second year is worse. No way. I had endured “second years” after my brother, my dad, and others passed away. The first year is by far the worse. That settles it.

Fast forward 355 days or so and I can begin to see what “they” might be talking about.

I barely know what the next step is. I’ve spent nearly a year dutifully marking off each morbid milestone – One month – check; Two months – check; Brooke’s birthday – check; Start of a Fall semester with no Brooke – check; Halloween Horse Show – check; Thanksgiving – check; More birthdays – check; Christmas and New Year’s – check; Megan’s birthday – check; Mardi Gras – check; Gulfport horse show – check; and so much more. Yet, here I sit with the realization that – it doesn’t end. This is just the beginning.

The reality that Brooke is gone – it must seem fairly obvious, but the mind is a tricky thing. The mind gauges just how much reality the heart and body can endure at once. Even when we are sure of “reality,” the mind is there acting as a gatekeeper. Filtering out the bits that are too much for the moment. Saving them for a sunny day. Doling out reality in measured doses.

As the heart and body begin to bear the weight of reality, the mind piles on a little more until eventually the full load comes to bear.

If someone handed you and load and told you that you’d have to carry a 500-pound weight every day for the rest of your life, you’d protest that it is impossible. But if someone handed you just a few pounds here and a few there until 500 pounds was sitting square on your shoulders, it would be different. That’s what losing a child is like. That’s the nature of tragedy. Read more

The Path of Hope is Muddy

Who hasn’t had to memorize “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening?” What 7th or 8th grader hasn’t had to study “The Road Not Taken?” Robert Frost is one of the great American poets studied by school children across the nation.

What does “The Road Not Taken” have to do with grief or loss?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

What if your “yellow wood” is your home office in the wee, dark hours after a horrible accident has taken your youngest daughter’s life? A “yellow wood” could just as easily be the backseat of the car as your mother takes you home after seeing the team doctor. Homes are awfully lonely in the wake of divorce – even when bathed in yellow sunshine. Read more

Who wants to be the “King of Pain”?

There’s a little black spot on the sun today, that’s my soul up there
It’s the same old thing as yesterday, that’s my soul up there
There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top, that’s my soul up there
There’s a flag pole rag and the wind won’t stop, that’s my soul up there
I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running ’round my brain
I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign
But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain – 
The Police

“I’ll see your despair and raise you two gloom.” Doesn’t it always seem in this game of life that we are constantly “sweetening” the pot of suffering. A never-ending round of one upping our fellow players. Who wants to be the big “winner” anyway? Who wants to walk away from the table with a wad of woe – peeling each one back like a crisp hundred-dollar bill to spend on future rounds of “Who Has it Worse”? Read more