The Upside of Down

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12

This verse seemed appropriate for today as I struggled between my self-imposed pressure of producing a typical blog post and being present – here – in the real world. This week – the real world wins out. I don’t have full-length blog post today.

But – I promised to share this journey with you. I’ve worked at being transparent on down days. It wouldn’t be fair to keep the “good” days from you. Today is one of those. In fact, the last few days have been sprinkled with a light-heartedness that has been elusive for quite some time.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time with various family members. We’ve spent time creating new memories. We’ve laughed. We’ve remembered. A few tears may have bubbled to the surface. Then, we laughed some more.

The downside of up is that tears are forever bound with our joy.

For only a few days this week – I am blessed to spend time with my daughter, Megan. These days are precious. These days are short. These days are hers. These are the days that I get to be face to face with her and make our joy complete.

These  upside of down is that our joy is forever bound with our tears.

A couple of things before I sign off. First, an update on Tahlequah and the rest of the J-Pod. They went MIA for a few days but were again spotted earlier today. She is still holding onto her lost calf. (If, like Megan, you have no idea what I’m talking about, click the link for last week’s blog.)

Second, thank you! At some point after last week’s blog, the mysterious thing that measures the inner workings of blog sites reports that “Dances with a Limp” has reached a pretty significant (at least to me) milestone. Over 5,000 of you have taken a step with me along this journey. THANK YOU

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

You humble me. You honor my baby girl. You give me hope!

 

SDG

Lost in Lament: A Whale of a Tale

On July 24, 2018, Tahlequah (aka J35) gave birth to a beautiful baby calf, sending waves of joy throughout the Pacific Northwest. Tahlequah is one of only about seventy-five remaining members of a species of endangered whales. The region’s (and now an international following’s) joy was soon doused in a tsunami of grief with the untimely death of the calf barely thirty minutes after birth. Tahlequah went into full-on-momma-whale mode. For over a week now, the endangered killer whale has been “tending” to her dead calf – meaning she refuses to let go, literally.

For days, she has pushed the deceased calf through the water with her forehead. Tahlequah has carried the calf by its fin. When tides and currents pull the calf’s body under the surface, Tahlequah musters the kind of strength only a parent can and dives deep into the belly of the sea to retrieve her lost baby. Read more

Prickly Prayers

Have you ever been faced with a scary or confusing situation and didn’t have the words to deal with it? There was one evening when the girls were very young that their Mimi babysat. When I picked them up to go home, I noticed that the television was set to The Exorcist. Shame on me for not asking the girls how they felt about what they might have seen, but kudos to Megan who at the wise-old age of four had the courage to open up the conversation. Her simple question exposed her confusion and fright, “Mommy, do devils eat little girls?” My response came too quickly to have been my own, as I blurted, “Not if you have Jesus in your heart.” That evening, we modified the words of our bedtime prayer from “deliver us from evil” to “deliver us from the devil.” Read more

In Too Deep – Part 2

Last week, the Awesome rescue of a Thai youth soccer team captivated our hearts as the feel-good-story of the decade.  Yesterday, the boys and their coach were released from the hospital and are headed home a day earlier than expected. “Awesome” is capitalized purposefully in describing the events, as I can’t help but to see God’s fingerprints all over that rescue.

If you believe like I do that God intervened to make the rescue of the Wild Boars possible, then there is a corollary that we must also acknowledge: Read more

Oh, the Tales We Tell . . .

Who doesn’t love a good story? Some of my earliest memories are of listening to stories being read at bedtime. And, when I had children of my own, I started reading books to them when they were infants – long before they could even comprehend a story.  Even now, I love to curl up with a good book. Stories, whether spoken, written, or filmed, not only captivate us but also connect us to one another.

We especially love stories of triumph and redemption. We root for the underdog. We want the guy to get the girl. We crave happily ever after. Read more

The Struggle is Real . . .

Writing this blog has become an outlet for me as I process the loss of my daughter. It carries the hope of not only transforming me but others as well. I enjoy the process of producing the blog. I find comfort here. So, I was surprised this week with how much I’ve struggled to write the blog.

In fact, I’ve spent countless hours searching for the “perfect” topic. I’ve scrapped drafts of two different blog posts. And, I’ve struggled.

Then it dawned on me. Sometimes, the struggle is real. Sometimes, we just have to give ourselves a little grace. Sometimes, we need to refocus. Sometimes, we need to re-center.

I’m really good at doling out advice. But, this week, all of that advice applies to me.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activities celebrating Brooke’s memory. Her birthday was June 12th. On the same day, Professional Women of St. Tammany awarded two scholarships in her memory. A few days later, the Southern Yacht Club held the second annual swim-a-thon in Brooke’s name.

I’m tired. Not the kind of tired that can be wiped away with a nap. Rather, the kind of tired that settles in your bones. Can you relate?

This time last year, I was reading A Case for Hope by Lee Strobel and journaling about the scriptures that he highlighted in the book. What follows is an excerpt from my journal in June of 2017 – just a couple of months after the accident:

A Case for Hope – Day 10:

“For I know well the plans that I have in mind for you – oracle of the Lord – plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The “letter” (scroll) containing this verse was written by the prophet Jeremiah. The scroll was addressed to the elders of the people exiled in Babylon. The essence of the message is “don’t waste your time in exile.” Even while in exile, God continues to lay a foundation for prosperity, hope, and a future. These are His plans for us.

This chapter of Isaiah seems to confirm my belief that my focus must remain on hope. The trickier part is to move from trying to focus one’s mind on hope/ a future – to living with hope. Truly living.

When does the day come when it no longer feels like living in a shell? When will the shadow be cast out? As I write that question it dawns on me that shadows are only seen in the light. On cloudy days, the shadow can’t be seen.

On the harder – cloudy days – the pain settles in a like a misty fog. On “sunny” days when the sun peeks out from the clouds, the shadow is still there. When I catch a glimpse of it, the shadow overtakes everything.”

Fast forward back to the future, what have I learned in the past year?

  • God’s plan for us is one of hope.
  • When the plan results in loss, hurt, or despair, it’s not God’s plan.
  • Hope doesn’t mean that all will be made (my version of) right on my timeline.
  • Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Hope is the firm foundation that paves the road between this life and eternity.
  • Hope is what assures me that not all of our days will be misty and blue.
  • Hope is the thing that destroys death’s power.
  • Hope is the guarantee that one day He will wipe away every tear.
  • Hope is the promise that eternity will overshadow every hurt of this world.
  • Hope doesn’t disappear on cloudy days.
  • Hope is the motivation to pick up the pieces and to try again.
  • Hope is the place where we can seek solace when the struggle is real.

SDG

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