Tuesday, April 02, 2019

When the Sacred Touches the Ordinary

it's been four months, eleven days and about ten hours since i spoke to my daddy.
it's been four months, twelve days and 6 hours since we had an actual conversation.

it has been almost a year since my daddy hugged me
living far from family has its hardships. this is one i don't think i'll ever be okay about- even as i am thankful for a job

 i wish i had known it was the last time my daddy would hold me in his arms, 
the last time he shook my husband's hand and pulled him in for a hug, 
the last time he held his granddaughters and grandson. 

as a mama, i'm usually behind the camera. therefore, i don't have as many pictures of daddy and myself. i thankfully do have pictures of him with my children. 
pictures are not enough, but pictures and memories are all i have. 


i just wish i had known the sacred was touching the ordinary in that moment. 
it was the last physical contact we would have
on this side of the veil. 

i wish i had known so i could have changed.... everything. 
doesn't everyone wish that? 

but what would have changed?
i know that kind of power is something i have zero control over 

it's been four months too long. next month will be five months too long. and on and on.

even with all the beauty of this world, why is it so dark on this side of Glory's veil?






i went to the spot that i feel closest to you- where the river meets the bay. i wrote you a letter, folded it into a tiny paper boat and attempted to float it away. four pages front and back of raw words and questions. i stared at it floating and then it sunk a bit- the destination of the paper boat really was inconsequential- i watched until i could not see it anymore. i can't visit your grave ten hours away, but this little spot has become a safe place for me to just remember you because i miss you like crazy.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

driving

last month our car insurance doubled when my oldest became a licensed driver. anxiety gripped tightly as i backed out of the driveway to accompany Beth to her test. I think my hands were shaking more than hers yet the calm instructor helped me feel somewhat safer. I was told to stay inside and wait-  beth waved to me as she walked out with my keys.  i stayed in the tiny DMV building with a noisy group of disgruntled employees and people waiting in line.

perched on a chair in the waiting area, i refreshed my phone to track my daughter every three minutes or less. thank goodness for modern technology. Beth was supposed to get her license in November, but this growing up milestone was delayed due to my daddy's death. as i tried to quiet my thoughts and just remember that the God who gave that precious child to me would continue to protect her. in the middle of the deep breathing exercises in a vain attempt to calm my panic, memories caught my breath.

grief is a bit like loosing your mind. fast and swift as the Mississippi in the beginning and then slowing to droplet memories glistening on long forgotten cobwebs of my memory. 

It was December- unseasonably warm for the border of southwest Tennessee and northwest Mississippi. Daddy drove. my heart pounded with excitement- my first taste of freedom was just within reach.  i was nervous- my palms sweating and pulse racing.  i heard daddy's voice echoing,-  reminding me that t i had been well taught and he had no doubt that i would pass the test. it was not so much the words that he said, but the kind brown eyes looking at his baby girl, now 15, and smiled. i don't know if he got worried during the "drive around the block" test. he had ultimate faith in my ability. and he was right- i did pass. his eyes told me he was proud when i showed him my score.  we had spent MANY hours with me at the wheel of his old blue truck with the fancy "fake wood" sticker. i just remember his voice and how tickled he would get when i would get flustered.  he taught me how to keep the car lined up- centered in my lane. he taught me much more than just how to drive- he taught me the value of time spent with ones' children is worth more than anything.

I would give almost anything to have been able to call him to celebrate Beth moving into a new season of life. so i called my brother instead (the next best person to call in a crisis)- and he reassured me that beth would pass, and i had to let go of all the worry i had. He was right. and for clarity's sake- i never helped with Beth’s driving lessons. it was beyond my scope of reality.   Russ took the wheel literally and taught her himself. i am thankful for that. and i know both her daddy and her grandaddy paul are proud of her.


 and hopefully Beth won't come home one day with my (our) minivan painted like my Grandaddy Ralph van before i was born. 



how did i get my driver's license at fifteen? growing up on the border of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, our family owned a little lake house. Snow Lake, a five fingered quiet lake located in the tiny town of Ashland, MS was home to most of daddy's family. Many cousins, aunts and uncles still live close to Big Mama's home. Because of this connection to this area, I received my driver's license a year earlier due to my parents divorce, by claiming residence in Mississippi because it was easier than a hardship license.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

hope, joy and grief

the calendar screams the end of january. resolutions escape me this year. grief and survival replace the idealistic notions of how my life might change in 2019, first new year that my father will never see.



that thought grips me and crouches in the back of my mind.

a thought that constantly nags.



instead of resolutions, i usually adopt a word. i have been practicing this ritual for years before it was actually a "thing" to select a word to focus on throughout the year. i clung to one word for 2016-2018... joy



joy...



evasive since 2016. it glimmers like a mirage in the distance, taunting me to seek it out. many scriptures point to joy- hebrews encourages me to run the race for the joy set before me (Hebrews 12:1-3), james speaks of considering it pure joy when faced with trials (James 1:2-3),  the instruction from a prophet- do not grieve because the joy of the LORD is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10), even the Psalmist tells me joy comes in the morning (psalm 30:5).



i understand the need for perseverance in my quest for joy.

i'm still waiting for morning.



i confess, i am not a patient person. and joy is more elusive these days. i know the words of God never change- yet my life has changed drastically in three months. deep down, i believe joy will come. maybe not soon, but one day.



i was reading this week and a word came to mind, a word i never thought might be the mantra of the year, perhaps a mantra for a few years... hope.



Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines hope---


A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety


that word joy caught in the crosshairs of hope's definition taunts me.  expectation of good. belief that the desire of good is possibly obtainable. i still shake my head in disbelief. grief and hope don't seem to go together, yet perhaps they should?


turning to the Source of Truth i find a Hope that is an anchor for the soul.

Biblical hope not only desires good for the future — it is a hope with expectation of things yet to come.


Emily Dickinson writes,



hope is a thing with feathers-

that perches in the soul-

and sings the tune without the words-

and never stops-at all-



and sweetest- in the Gale- is heard-

and sore must be the storm-

that could abash the little Bird-

that kept so many warm-



i've heard it on the chillest land-

and on the strangest sea-

yet-never-in Extremity-

it asked no crumb-of me.



a thousand times, yes.

hope itself expects nothing- yet expects everything- eventually.

hope cannot be rushed, it creeps in slowly and settles in for the long winter.

hope allows room for a glance around the room of grief and still believes in joy

that will come in the future

hope never fails.


thankful for a God who never fails and a Hope that is an anchor for the soul-

sure and steadfast.



"we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. we have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf."

hebrews 6:18-20





Wednesday, January 16, 2019

siblings

there was purpose in leaving my siblings out of the last post. they each deserve their own post. they deserve books written about the way they ALL have carried me these last months.


i start with the one i know best, the one that shares the same DNA and the one who i can get so angry with and still love so fiercely that it shocks me at times. the piece of my heart that can never be dislodged.

phillips.

he carries the weight of my words, he carries the weight of the world, he carries the weight of our dreams and memories growing older together, he carries the weight of a business he did not plan on running alone anytime soon, he carried our father. 
in so many ways he is me yet he is himself as well. 

who else understands me like he does?  i am so grateful for the gift of a brother. 
younger by four years, this boy became a man who stands taller than myself- both literally and figuratively. 

as i stood in the hospital on the ninth floor, now used for storage, thanksgiving evening of this year, memories flooded. 

daddy had already left his earthly body behind, but i was not there when he left. i needed to see for myself that he was gone before we released him to the funeral home. the icu staff was so gracious to allow me a moment to come to terms with the incomprehensibly hard truth. my husband and my mother stood with me. in that moment i could only see my daddy's worn out and tired body. he was still so handsome to me. a daughter's first love is her father and i loved that man with all of my soul. i still do. 

the color of the walls, the smells of hospital hit me all at once, standing there beside my father. this was a hospital i had walked through more than once. i was born on that very same ninth floor thirty nine years prior. my first memory of childhood- attending the "older sibling class" in preparation for phil's arrival into the world. i met my little brother for the first time on the same hospital floor in october of 1983. Thrilled to be a big sister, i pretended he was mine. 

the irony of standing in the same place that once had the purpose of celebrating new life, now filled with empty beds and hospital supplies, and coming to terms with the mortality of my own daddy did not escape my mind. 

my life changed on october 6, 1983 when i was allowed to hold and love a tiny baby boy who became a man.

you took dad to almost every doctor appointment in the last ten years. you worked with dad to turn around his business and make it successful. you spent so much time with dad. i lived ten hours away and to be honest, there is an insane amount of guilt i have about that. 

you were there for every hospital admit, you were there to call the ambulance for daddy when his health took a drastic turn for the worst. you had to call me and tell me how bad it really was. you were the one that spent almost three days in the icu next to dad. you held the phone to dad's ear, and were there for the hardest portions of the journey. i heard your gut wrenching cry across the states and it was the same cry of my own heart. i felt pain in own my knees when yours hit the hard hospital floor.

i was on the phone. i helped the best way i could, but it feels like it was never enough. 

there is no way to repay you, no way to say thank you. but you understand my heart better than most.

dad was, dad is so proud of you. past tense seems wrong, present tense does not fit quite right. 

phil, you are an amazing man, husband, father, friend, and uncle. i've told you before you were the greatest gift i ever received from our parents. i'll keep telling you because my life changed on october 6, 1983 because i was allowed to hold and love a tiny baby boy who has become a man.

and his bride. mother of my cherished baby nephew. my youngest sister. your name? i hear it and i smile. parents are all imperfect, but i know they picked the perfect name for you. 


Jewel.
the definition of your name fortells what we already know to be true.  



a precious stone, sometimes is used as a bearing in a 
watch or compass, a valued person. you have been the compass in so many ways. you kept the business running, kept me in the loop about daddy, and kept my precious nephew safe. you have been our direction when we seem to have lost our way. our relationship is authentic, sometimes messy but you are my sister, you always will be. i know thank you is trite, it's not enough to describe the gratitude i feel when i think of you. you love my brother well. as russ says, you deserve the wonder woman award of the year. i love you so much. you, behind the scenes juggling life, work, motherhood, grief, marriage. i am in awe of the strength and maturity you have at age 22. i look forward to a lifetime of growing old together. you are a treasure. just like your name.


i close with advice from one of our shared favorite characters...
    
"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you." — Winnie the Pooh

i love you both, -lou

Thursday, January 10, 2019

searching and what i have found.


this needs a disclaimer.

my choice to give voice to grief in a more public forum means a small window cracked into my life- not a open door to witness all the amazing mess of my life. i do not claim to know the answers. i do not claim perfection. i'm just one beggar trying to find the purpose in this world of grief. this discovery both of myself and of others is not the beginning or the end, just the messy middle of life after loss.

no names needed, but perhaps my 3 readers might see themselves here.
so many people to thank for gifts given.
gifts
  of time
    of silence
      of wisdom
        of experience.

i have tried to wrap my mind around the people that have met me here in this muddy grief. each is a gift of grace wrapped up from God Himself.

When Daddy became sick, it was a fast decline. he did not have long to prepare to go Home. yet our friends and families pulled together to support my brother and i- we did not have to ask, everyone just did what needed to be done. so this is a thank you blog of sorts...

to the cousins... it feels like the beginning of a bad joke when i think about the doctor, the businessmen, and the chef. you see, i am the only girl in a world of boy cousins on my father's side.
the emotional girl in a world of dirty little boys. men now.

the doctor called and talked to my father's nurses and doctors on his breaks between surgeries during the three days daddy was in the ICU, would call me with the cliff-note version to explain. you are younger than me by 4 years, but your wisdom precedes your age. you stepped out of your life, your state, your world to step into mine and explain what i could not comprehend. you give and give. but do you ever receive the gratitude that you so deserve? from advice and long emotional talks to rearranging your surgery schedule to be with us at our lowest, cousin, there are just not enough words.

the businessman, brother of the doctor, you did not have to make the drive. i bossed you around like a mother hen at reunions since before you could walk. you have grown into a man i am so very proud of. your presence and quiet words brought unspeakable strength to my weary soul.

the chef and i are likely the closest. he is the eldest of the walker cousins. while distance and the ten year age gap could have separated us, you met me via text and phone, day or night. you knew and know me best. you and your businessman brother both have walked this grief road. you got in your car and drove about 24 hours to meet my brother and i, simply to be with us. your tenderheartedness blows my mind. your words, 'Peace to you" and simply sharing a seat on our grandmother's couch- i can never ever thank you enough.

the other quiet gentle businessman- your girls are blessed to have such a remarkable man. you, who drove the same long drive with your brother, because you just wanted to sit with us? the gift of quiet presence will always be remembered.  i see you, glasses and wisdom painted across your face. you too, have walked where i stand and do not want to move forward. "it gets better. not easier. the pain is too much right now, but you will remember the good forever" oh, life giving words! the words you whispered catch my breath and will echo forever in my mind and soul.

i am richly blessed by these men.

and even cousins from my mother's side, you knew my daddy. you each showed up in exactly the perfect way. whether you could be by my side or not- know the way you showed me grace was exactly what i needed.

cousin/brother all the way across the states. it was you i called first after daddy died early in the morning of November 21. as i sat in the dark bawling my eyes out in shock, i thought about what an inconvenience it must be to be on the receiving end of my raw emotion. if you could have, i know you would have crawled through the phone and sat all night if i needed. it was not even the same day due to time zones and you helped me laugh a bit through my tears.

i am richly blessed and can never repay my family and friends.

i have two uncles.

one, the brother of my father. i can hardly look you in the eyes because i see my father there. i know i was the daughter you never had, as you were gifted with two amazing sons. thirty nine years prior to the week of your brother's death, you purchased tiny diamond earrings. for me. likely was a big stretch in your 1979 budget. i never wore them, as they were safely tucked away. i did not know they were safe, thinking they were lost or stolen. God allowed Daddy to hide them long ago for safekeeping, so he could give them back to me after his death, on my birthday this year. november 24th, three days after his death, they were found on my birthday as my mother and i cleaned daddy's office for a final time. they rarely leave my ears now. a treasure from you and daddy that i cannot even comprehend. if i close my eyes, your laughter is his laughter. i can only imagine daddy laughing at the unintentional but very much harmless prank he pulled on us both this year.

uncle of my heart, you drove. not once but twice. you buried my aunt, your bride, only a few years ago. sending her first so she could greet her youngest brother when he safely arrived Home in heaven. you are not only my uncle but also my wisdom giver. i can hear my beautiful aunt's voice still telling me if i did not know what to do, to ask you. she would whisper of the unconditional love i could find in your engineer mind. you meet me with words far more precious than any earthly treasure because you know real treasure is found in thin pages of an Ancient Book- filled with all the wisdom we ever need. you too have walked the hard road more than once. words fall short and likely you are glad, a man of few words yourself. the gift of presence. you taught your sons by example how to sit with someone in their brokenness and i thank you for always meeting me where i am with no agenda. i am thankful for you and your beautiful souled wife, my newest prayer warrior and fellow lover of books. i am grateful she shares you well with an extra set of in-laws.

aunt.
second mother.
advice giver.
dearest friend.
YFA and so much more.
i love you.
saying goodbye to your brother. i cannot even imagine. but you stepped in and held us up when your world was crumbling like ours. i could not have closed the casket of my father without you there and i will carry the memory of your words and face all of my days. you vocalized what i could not, standing in front of the hushed room of people as we together said the hard goodbye and said, "i don't think i can" but together we did. all of us crazy Walkers. we made it through. your grief is my grief. your pain, my own. with all the men that surround us, we girls must stick together and fix mashed potatoes even when we want to curl up and cry for days.
no one thanks you enough.
i see you. 
caring for your mother, holding down a job, and becoming the matriarch of our family.
we all see you. 
know the place in my heart reserved for you is as big as the one you have for me- perhaps bigger. 

my mama. sorry everyone who knows me knows you for you cannot remain nameless. you did not have to walk your children through planning a funeral for your first husband. but you did. you drove. (a pattern here i am seeing) you cleaned the messiest bathroom on earth on your hands and knees, helping me straighten daddy's desk and leave him one final note. mamas know what to do. mamas love fiercely. mamas do the hard things. i pray i never have to do what you have done for your own children. i know. i would move mountains, climb walls, and scale buildings to reach my own children as well. thank you for loving us.

writer's block happens to every writer. when it happened on a silly past tense verb "was", my stepfather (minus the step because i know you love me more than step) answered the phone quickly and helped me get past the block writing the obituary. you have helped me find the words. i'd still be stuck on the old rocking chair in my grandmother's room crying if you had not given me words to explain the depth of my biological father. you knew him longer than i did. i love you more than words and i am so grateful for you. you understood my pain because we had to say goodbye to your own daddy not so long ago. he was amazing and looking into his eyes, i saw you in the future. though not of my blood, you are of my soul.

best friend from far back with your grown-up home only a few minutes drive from our own childhood homes. you knew daddy the best of all my friends. you, who stood strong at the visitation and showed me how to greet and thank the people who came to honor my daddy. thank you for teaching me what i never wanted to learn. your strength showed up again and met me as we placed daddy's shell, his earthly tent into cold ground. thank you for standing with me and loving me well for the last thirty years. your advice and your calm- i can never repay.

best friend of my brother. i think of you and i freeze. you grew into a man. once the boy that annoyed and tormented, then the little kid i babysat each saturday night, always an adopted brother, now a friend and "uncle" to my own three. you pulled me back from the cliff many times. your number forever in my phone and one of few i allow to interrupt anything. we needed you and you showed up. i can't speak for my brother, but i know i needed you. and your mama.

friend that is my kindred spirit, you helped me figure out what to pack, reminded me of Truth, and wept with me. you knew what i was facing. we are not strangers to grief. your texts were always on time. i know your heart was with mine even if Texas is far from Tennessee.

my friend that loves the written word as much as i do- i could not have done what you have done. you were not given an option, but yes, i told daddy the words you needed me speak before he left. now only two months later, you tried to protect me from your own hard and longer goodbye. maybe our daddies have met by now? i loved and love your daddy so very much. he mattered to so many- including me. i hate that physical pain kept me from standing with you as you grieved for your daddy last week.

there are too many to thank personally, but i have two more. 

newest friend of mine. you have ministered to my soul since august. quietly singing over me, as you try your best to relieve my physical pain, make me smile, and brighten up the darkest rooms. how do i explain this gift i did not seek out but found me? friendship is so rare. soul friendship even rarer. you set up your place in my thoughts, moved in and made my thinking crowded. you are my mystery unfolding. a bright star in my life. thank you for showing up a thousand times. each text the week daddy died was perfectly timed, ordained by God. He sees you. I see a miracle.

Russell. you cannot remain nameless. my soul is completely yours and anyone who sees me, knows you. quiet engineer, father of my children, leader of our family, strength when i break, thank you for loving me with a love that is Christ-like. you die to your selfishness every moment of every day when i feel i merely exist. you drug phil and i around memphis like two wounded children and you did the hard things. you are still dragging me, yet you act like the weight of my heart is never too much. you are my safety, my love, and the biggest piece of my heart. we've been through a roller coaster of seventeen years. i wouldn't change a moment. daddy gave me to you. when i break you quietly piece me together. to say thank you seems trite. not enough. we cannot complete each other, only Jesus can do that, but in an earthly sense- you are literally the best half of me.

so many more i would love to thank- extended family, friends, prayer warriors, parrotheads, texans, tennesseans, and a host of family from all over the country. you have reached out, or remained silent in fear of saying the wrong thing...neither was the wrong response- each was what was needed.

those who attended the funeral-thank you for showing up. looking out into a room full of people, all there to honor my dad almost took my breath away. thank goodness for modern technology so i could pull up a piece i wrote five years ago so i did not ramble and weep. to steal the words from a gifted speaker, my brother, "dad would be amazed. he had all his 'boxes' checked" and i will add, he might not have known it was his time to go, but i trust the One that numbers all our days- and He knew.

The blessings in this life are many. The hours on this earth are short. My heart cannot help but stand in awe of the people He has gifted me with.

gifts 
  of time
    of silence
      of wisdom
        of experience



may the road rise to meet you, 
may the wind be at your back, 
and may God alone hold each of you 
in the palm of His nail scared hands 
until we meet again.




Sunday, January 06, 2019

part 1 of grief

I last hit publish in 2016. So, resurrecting a long lost cheap therapy for me.

Cane pole fishing rods. Real silver quarters. Picking corn at Uncle Elmo's farm in the blazing July heat. Push brooms. Clothes torn and dirty from a long day of work. Oil stains. Grease stains. Corn Huskers Soap. Rough work-worn hands that held my hand under the table at his mama's house at Christmas last year and every previous year since i graduated from the kid's table. A tender heart. Kind brown eyes that twinkled. Practical jokes. Krispie Cream Donuts.

so many things i associate with my daddy...

     I search like a small child lost in the store for a parent that will never return.  
           He's not supposed to return.  
                  why would anyone want to return to this dusty sin-worn place? 

During the season of divorce life, Daddy would come and go- at times unpredictably. it was not his finest moment for sure, but the demons my daddy wrestled with maybe go back generations. and i will never know. likely best that way.

             yet I never doubted his love. never that for a second. 

so many memories echo in my mind, each story jumping in line to get out.

                i must not forget. 
                  i must not be untruthful. 
                   i must paint with the medium i know best

Tangible written words for a sorting of my memories.

they may be memories of a little girl or grown woman depending on the moment. no particular order, likely disjointed.  i must process my grief and speak it loudly to my soul without apology. if family sees this and is offended, do not comment. this is my truth, and these are my sacred memories.

The life of Paul Walker is valuable to more than just a few people, but most valuable to his children, family, and oldest friends.  funerals-they not for the deceased but for those who must utter the hardest of words.

    goodbye. 
except there is nothing good about goodbye on this side of Glory

even this temporary goodbye crushes a soul in a way i still wrestle to comprehend.  I have lost friends. I have lost three children. But they are not lost, just not here in what C.S. Lewis refers to as  the Shadowlands. It sure feels like shadows to me.

some goodbyes are naturally more difficult. two of my father figures no longer walk the earth- my beloved Grandaddy escaped a mind ravaged by dementia a few years ago at age 91 and now my own Daddy, has left the Shadowlands as well.  November 21, 2018- far too young at 64 years old.

view from where i shot the snake looking back at the cabin (photo credit my brother)
a thousand words i would tell my daddy now that i held back. those regrets do not leave my mind many seconds of my day, grief and guilt consume and ravage a soul for years. maybe the sting of death already conquered on the cross will ease the gut wrenching pain that is my right now.

5am- Summer 1992
(an ungodly hour for this night owl, even at the wise age of 13)

smelling faintly of Marlboro Lights, early mornings, and safety, Daddy roused me from slumber. another weekend at our Snow Lake cabin in Mississippi. i open my eyes to see Daddy- it is not yet light outside, I can close my eyes and still see his grin.  diet Pepsi in one hand, cane pole in his other- he quietly taps it on the floor in my bedroom awakening me gently and waves the special wave reserved just for us.


                                            He was always so tender with his baby girl. 

I throw on grubby clothes from the day before (just going to get fish guts on it my thirteen year old self rationalizes)- i shove feet into shoes and pull back my dirty strawberry blond lake water hair and jog quietly down the seventeen steps to the lake to plop my bottom down on the left side of the bank. the old rusty john boat sits about 10 feet under the surface of the water and bass enjoy the irony of life on a boat. i am ready to bait a hook, swing my line out just so, and plop the hook into the water to wait.

I drop yet another cricket meant for baiting my hook. daddy gently showed me again how to snag the insect and prevent yet another from crawling up my hook and fishing line into the safety of the grass  before my hook dropped into the lake.

Early morning fog on the water dances quietly. my eyes are more focused on my imaginary world of fog people. Stories flooding my mind of who they really are, and why the early morning water is a glimpse into another world of my making. As I am lost in quiet morning thoughts, the bobber at the end of my fishing line tugs gently. as the line straightens and pulls, daddy redirects my attention to the small mouth bass waiting on the end of my hook that did not look so small to me. rules were "you bait it, you take it off" so i knew the next step. Thrusting a thirteen year old thumb into the lip of the rather uncomfortable fish just like i was taught. Swallowed. not ideal. But i reach for the tackle box and shove a pair of pliers into the fish. (ironic that now the tables have turned and i don't kill they fish but they have the potential to kill me)

my fog people world dance away as the sun rises. i try my hardest to dislodge the swallowed hook without success.

while i wrestle with the fish, daddy stands quickly on the bank next to me. looking up, i spot the water moccasin swimming close to shore. i know what daddy wants- the rifle nicknamed "The Snake Gun".  

Daddy did not teach us a lot about guns, but we knew how to safely handle, load, and hit a coke can. I walk back quickly to grab the gun dad needs. except for this time, he hands the gun back to me. I'm a terrible shot, but his confidence in me bolstered my own shaky hands. that ugly snake did not stand a chance against a little girl with her daddy behind her guiding in his soft voice. Daddy never liked snakes or spiders. snakes coming near his baby girl or my little brother? their lives were drastically shortened.  

While I'm not using a gun nowadays, until Daddy left us- i still took pictures of the snakes i killed in the backyard that were threatening my own family living on the bayou. i still texted the pictures to him to show him i still knew what he taught me.

isn't that what most little girls (or 39 year olds) want? just for their Daddy to be proud of them? maybe not, but for me, the most magical and life-giving words my father could speak over me child is how proud he is of the woman i have become. I hope he is proud. i pray that i make him proud.

even more, i pray i make my heavenly Father proud. "well done" are the words my Jesus will hopefully speak to me one day before I join the big celebration in Heaven.

today is the sixth day of the first year in which my daddy will not ever be *just* a phone call away. i took it for granted. i remember our last conversation- he was confused and overwhelmed as the doctors were intubating him to help him breathe in order to facilitate healing. did he know it was the last time i would hear his voice? did i tell him everything i wanted to say? did he hear me November 20 around 10pm when my amazing brother graciously held the phone to his ear? he left us so many questions and i may never know the answers. perhaps i don't need to know, i just need to trust in the One that has all the answers.




Monday, August 22, 2016

Wrestling to Rejoice


Today, facebook was a lit up with sweetly smiling new beginnings. And really, who does not like new beginnings? Personally, I like new beginnings in comfortable, safe, old places where I am loved. 

That was not the new beginning of our school year, even if we enjoyed (most) of the day- but in the back of my mind- I wondered. What are my kids missing out on? What am I missing?

  

God knew I needed a shove out of my safe spot- but it hurt. The reason? Food allergies and intolerant people. Sinners just like me, to be perfectly honest.  Friends who just happened to hurt my family.

But that does not mean the shove was not for my good- even if it takes a long time to heal from the hurt.  I wonder what kind of person attracts such drama. (More drama than my entire lifetime!) Those who know me well know I am not into drama.

       Can I just have normal?!? (My husband says normal is over-rated, but I'm okay with a bit of normal)

To be perfectly honest, I am not qualified to teach my children.  Any homeschooling mama worth the weight of her curriculum would tell you the same. 

Because if I were qualified- where would Jesus fit?  My whole purpose of homeschooling is not to prove I am something amazing, but to show my children who Jesus is and how amazing Jesus loves- 
          even before coffee-
                even when the toilet overflows-
even when I loose my cool and must return to the sheep I have been called to teach in humility and ask their forgiveness. 

                           Especially then. 

But today, facebook betrayed me and revealed to my tiny bit of self confidence that I might not be enough. I saw the fun being had at our old place- a Star Wars theme song with my children's old classmates finding the tempo of the music by having a (controlled) foam sword duel.  

That and a million other activities my kids missed today in their (outgrown) expensive uniforms. (And to those of you that attend our old place of learning- please know I hold nothing against you, I just grieve the missed opportunities for our own family to spend time with yours.)
 

So we took our own pictures (mascot included) and dug into the day that the Lord had made for us here- and I wrestled with the command to rejoice in it. 

 

Trying to find a different Monday routine-one that does not require an hour and a half drive each way in the minivan or being forced to eat outside with my middle girl.  Her main socializing time had to be spent away from her friends-due to a ruling minority who refused to help us create an "allergy free-ish" environment for one meal per week. 

I missed my friends, and their friends- but not the fear of driving home after taking 6 Benadryl and wondering if I should have used the Epi Pen instead.  Or constantly checking my daughter to make sure her reaction was not getting worse. (The benefit and danger of a shared allergy)

We want to keep the treasured friends but let go of the hurtful parts. Satan knows my weakest link is self doubt- and it breaks my heart not being at peace with some of those I dearly love.

Yet, if I take about 15 steps back, I see that God is working- I'm just too close to see what's happening, Like an piece of impressionist artwork  (only more paint by number than masterpiece) yes, I know God is working somehow.  The Master's piece seems more like globs of drying paint than art, but I know who hold's the brush and paints my life- and He makes everything beautiful in its time.  

            So, here's to a new day tomorrow 
                    and a bit more rejoicing. 

 Maybe my youngest will relearn to divide his words into chunks correctly when sounding things out.      Maybe he'll remember not to capitalize ranDom letters in words. 
Maybe my oldest will remember school is work? e
Maybe my middle child will be a bit less frustrated with having to wait for me sometimes.  
Maybe I'll try to get laundry going before school. And turn on the crockpot.  Who knows?
Maybe I'll throw iPads over the balcony and cry. 

 But this I know- as sure as I know the sun will rise,
                His mercies are new every single morning.

And every single morning?
          I need those mercies anew.
                       Great is His faithfulness.