Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In the Garden...

I had laid there, unable to respond to anything around me. My family was there. I fought to breathe, but found I was unable to do it.

I gasped for air. It seemed to be the signal they all needed to know my time was here.

One daughter called for another, and she called for another.

They were scared.

I wasn't.

I could see what was beyond anything they could ever imagine.

My breathing became very labored. I fought for each breath with all my might, although I couldn't understand why.

Beauty like none could imagine laid before me.

Maybe I breathed for them - those that surrounded me. I just don't know.

One daughter grabbed my hand, but I couldn't help her hold it. Her hand slid down my wrist, resting at my pulse point. She seemed happy enough with that, and honestly, I was, too.

I gasped for a breath, and they began to sing...

"I come to the garden alone;"

(The song that had somehow kept me going since I had gotten so sick.)

"While the dew is still on the roses;"

(I see tears of understanding. I'm leaving. I hope they won't hurt too much.)

"And the voice I hear, falling on my ear;"

(That voice says, "Joe. Well done. Come home."

"The Son of God discloses;"

(He was calling for me. I hope they understood that.)

"And, He walks with me, and He talks with me;"

(I cannot wait to walk and talk with Him)

"And, He tells me I am His own."

(I know now, if I ever had doubt, I am, indeed, His own. The angels are singing. I am going home.)

"And, the joy we share as we tarry there;"

(My mother! I see my mother! She's calling to me! Oh, Mama, you are so beautiful! I love you!)

"None other has ever known."

(I fly away from the room, all the while, watching them. I wave to my great grandbaby, Tyler, on my way. He sees me. He smiles. I hurt for them, but not enough that I will stay. My God has called me. I am ready to go Home.)

And, just like before I had found them all those years ago, there was my family. Alone but together, trying to live life without me.

I don't know about those days, but I do remember about the day I arrived.

If you have a minute, sit right down. I want to tell you a story...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lift Me Up...

This year, of all years, Mothers Day has a completely different meaning in my life. In September, my child's blood put life into a tiny, little being in this world.

I'd like to tell you that on the day my grandchild was born the earth moved, the sun came out and everything was suddenly perfect.

Ashamed, I tell you it didn't happen like that. As a matter of a fact, it couldn't have been farther from that.

I spent most of the year 2010 coming up with every reason in the world that my child was NOT going to be a father: could NOT be a father...

And, God forgive me, blaming the one who carried that beautiful little creature in her womb.

I didn't want any part of it, and I made every effort to let her know just that.

My friends, I shed tears as I admit that.

There are no words or anything I can ever do to change that. I can never undo it. I can never take it back. I missed the first six months of that completely innocent baby's life because of foolish pride and fear.

It will forever haunt me that I spent nine months purposefully making a scared, pregnant teenage girl miserable.

And, then, as God usually does, a miracle happened...

In April, a path opened up, and on an incredibly hot Louisiana spring afternoon, I waited on a bench at the zoo to meet my granddaughter for the first time.

It was to also be the first time I had seen her mother since before the signs of her pregnancy even began to show on her tiny frame.

Scared, pensive and hopeful, I turned to see them waiting at the entrance, and I began to move as quickly as I could toward them.

And, there, in the middle of the Alexandria Zoo, people, I learned about grace...

And being gracious...

And about forgiveness.

I didn't see the girl my son once dated...

The girl I blamed for each of his shortcomings since the day he met her...

I saw a terrified, overly-exhausted, but ready to start over fresh little girl who was now a mother.

And, I might add, doing a great job at it.

Oh, my friends, I cannot even express to you how proud I am of her, how unbelievable grateful I am to her, how amazed I am by her!

Without even a question, she forgave me...

For everything I had put her through.

I truly do not believe I have ever experienced human forgiveness on that level.

I don't believe I can even articulate how she has moved me.

I think of her being alone, knowing I was not championing her, and I am so ashamed. I cannot imagine how that made her feel. I can never make up for it.

I did that. Me. The one who demands all human beings be treated with dignity and respect refused that right to a young girl who had to feel as though it was she versus the world. The one person I probably owed it to most. And I made the choice to refuse her.

She deserves far better than I have ever given her, and yet, she's taught me about forgiveness without stipulations.

She and I are working toward building a solid foundation that will last a lifetime.

And, this time, I will get it right.

I will be her cheering squad.

I will respect her.

I will be on her side.

I will protect her.

I will encourage her.

I will tell her she's doing right.

Because she deserves that...

And so much more.

Great Mothers are those who work tirelessly to make a better way for their children. She is one of those mothers. It is truly my honor to share this journey with her.

So, sweet girl, Happy First Mothers Day. I am so very proud of you. Thank you for teaching me about life. Thank you for extending your hand in friendship to me.

Chances are we will probably disagree again, but just know I will always respect your right to be the mother of your child and I will always respect your choices. This time, if we disagree, we will do it in love, never to repeat our past. I look forward to our future.

I hope you know I am here for you and will always lift you up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

True Colors...

I can still smell the summer air and feel the sun on my shoulders as we all enjoyed being young, trying hard to impress one another with our cartwheels, back walk-overs and how well we could get our legs down into the grass into a perfect split.

I wasn't as good as the rest of them.

People, I was not blessed with athleticism...

I could do it...

I just didn't look good doing it.

And, then there was Melissa.

She was about as big as a minute and could leap through the air with the most amazing grace that any of us had ever seen. Even at our tender ages, we all knew Melissa had something special.

She could start a sprint at one side of the yard and never stop flipping until she reached the other side, and she executed it perfectly.

Being competitive as we all were and as talented as she was, you'd think she'd have bragged on how much better she was than we, but not Melissa...

That tiny bit of a girl would get in that yard and lift us and instruct us, telling us exactly what to do next so that we could be as graceful as she.

But, you see, those were her true colors...




As we grew into teenagers, we did what most of us all do and after high school, we really lost track of one another.

Naturally, I'd hear a bit here and a bit there about her, her life and her children, but I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I saw her.

Although I don't know her story, I know her life held some challenges for her, and as Melissa always seemed to do, she overcame...

And, she didn't do it the normal way...

She did it her way...

Over the top...

Bigger and better...

Encouraging everyone she met, lifting them and instructing them, telling them exactly what to do next so that they could be as graceful as she.

She made peace with her God and it was obvious in everything she did and every person she touched.

Melissa knew God, and she knew God in a mighty way.

This world lost Melissa on Sunday.

Since then, I've thought and thought and thought of her and one word alone resonates with me...


I remember her, tiny as she was, lifting my legs into the air (and struggling to get her arms high enough to get to my feet) and saying, "Now, point your toes, bend your legs just a little and go on over."

I think of her, and the vision of her so effortlessly flipping herself into the air is what I see.




She didn't want to keep what she had just for herself. She wanted to share it.

I know that today she sits in the lap of God.

I know that, in spite of everything, my friend has heard the words, "Well done."

And, it was well done, Melissa.

It was done Melissa-style...




Over the top.

Bigger and better.

And, with absolute humility.

Because those were your true colors.

They are beautiful.

Like the rainbow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And I Won't Let Go...

I held my breath and dialed the number, counting the rings...


I dreaded this call.


I hated what I was about to be forced to say.


I hated to be the messenger that morning.

The raspy "hello" coming through the receiver told me that my beloved childhood friend already knew what I was calling to say.

He and I sat there talking, processing what he was feeling, grieving the loss of his dad.

Familial relationships are, quite honestly, the most cruel and complex relationships we will ever have. The people who are supposed to never turn their back on us sometimes do, and the realization that this time the clock can't be turned back is absolute torture, even if you are blameless, and it is cruel.

If I could carry him in my pocket where the world couldn't touch him, I promise you, I'd do it.

But I can't do that.

So, instead, I just listened to him and let him feel what he was feeling.

I will stand in the gap for him. He would do it for me.


"It's just stuff, honey. It's going to be alright," I whispered in his ear as I hugged him.

"It's just stuff," he repeated back, as he stared at nothing in particular somewhere in the distance. He didn't believe me, but somehow, I think he thought if he said it, it would make him believe.

His eyes were as tired as I had ever seen them, and they held a secret pain that I hadn't seen there in quite a long time.

I understood that look.

I understand that feeling.

I've been there, standing in what was once my home that somehow, in a matter of just a few hours, suddenly feels oddly foreign. It's still your house, but you realize the dynamic of how home is now defined has changed, and as much as we believe we're ready for it, we are not.

God didn't ordain marriage that way, and you are never more accutely aware of that fact than you are in that particular second.

If I could carry him in my pocket where the world couldn't touch him, I promise you, I'd do it.

But I can't do that.

So, instead, I just held him and let him feel what he was feeling.

I will stand in the gap for him. He would do it for me.


I walked in the house and went to look for her. I found her in the living room, working diligently.

"It's really not that bad," I said to her.

She looked up at me, "No, it's not, but it's got Dad in knots, and I've got to fix it. I can't let my dad feel this way."

As we went about the business of organizing what needed to be done, I looked at her...

Such a beautiful young woman, who for that instant, wasn't worried about anything except her dad and righting his world.

At that second, a respect for her grew within me that I don't think could ever be challenged. She has character. And it runs deep. And it's very rare to find in one so young.

I was honored. It was as if I was granted priviledge to witness her grow right before my eyes.

I knew what she was feeling. I, too, would move heaven and earth to protect my dad.

If she could carry him in her pocket where the world couldn't touch him, I promise you, she'd do it.

But she can't do that.

So, instead, she just did what she could do and let him feel what he was feeling.

She will stand in the gap for him. He has done it for her.


Painfully aware of the human condition this week and how fragile we truly are, I saw love in action, and even though the pain was as real as anything could possibly be, love was even moreso.

We all need to know someone is on our side...

That someone cares...

That we are not alone.

That someone stands by us...

And they won't let go.

My hope for us all, my friends, is that none of us are ever alone, and that as long as we live, someone is there to stand in the gap for us.

Hold the ones you love tightly.

And, don't let go.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hello World...

Ah! Blessed, beautiful springtime is in the air and teasing me with those tiny glimpses into what it's going to be like after winter finally admits defeat and succumbs to spring's promise of something new to come, traveling back to its cave, falling in to a deep slumber until December.

I love spring.

I love the smell of fresh air and flowers and freshly mowed grass.

God Himself wraps his arms around me through the warm sunshine on my body and whispers, "Everything is going to be alright, kid. Just sit back and trust Me. Watch what I'm about to do. You'll see. Something good is coming and it is just for you."

The world is new again...

Inviting us all, if only for a bit, to just relish in the glory of living...

And to understand what an honor it is to be here...

To be given another chance...

Another tomorrow...

Another promise.

When you least expect it.

In the least likely of places.

In the least likely way.

Through a most unexpected source.

Hello world.

How ya' been?

Good to see you, my old friend.

Realizing that every zig and zag and fork in life's road; every tear, every tragedy, every triumph...

Brought me here.

And, here is a very, very good place to be.

On the surface, "here" should be in shambles...

But inside, "here" is about as close to perfect as I have ever known.

Sunday afternoon I was thinking these exact thoughts when he said, "I like this song," and reached out to turn the radio up a little bit.

No words were spoken between us as we both listened...

Hello world.

How ya' been.

Good to see you, my old friend.

A tear formed in my eye, as I realized I was experiencing my very own moment expressed in the song, as I took in the lyrics.

When it finished, I looked over and told him, "I like it, too," hoping he wouldn't see the shimmer of the tear in my eye.

He smiled at me.

I smiled back.

Hello world.

How ya been?

Good to see you, my old friend.

Sometimes, maybe spring's a time to erase past hurts and forgive.

Just maybe some are worth a second chance.

And, maybe - just maybe - this time when we forgive, we have to remember to forget...

Because others' slates deserve to be wiped as clean as ours.

And, as you're drinking in that moment, thinking that God is a Masterful and Wondrous Creator, orchestrating everything to show you what He's been saying all along...

You'll get to giggle a little along the way as the person with whom you are sharing this incredible moment that you know, without doubt, you are going to wrap up and place in your heart from this day forward and cherish it forever...

This moment...

This day...

This look between you...

When you think life just couldn't get any better than it is right now.

He'll look over at you and ask you this question - the one you never expected him to ask:

"What's this song about, anyway?"

Hello world.

How ya' been?

Good to see you, my old friend.

Sometimes I feel, cold as steel.

And broken like I'm never gonna heal.

I see a light.

A little grace.

And a little faith unfurl.

Hello world.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Forgot...

We stood there in my mother's driveway for what seemed forever. I hadn't seen him in weeks, and honestly, the days between our separation seemed to be just what I needed to remind me that I wasn't built for this...

That I didn't care...

That nothing could touch me.

In a moment of non-thinking, I told him, "You smell so good," as my face cradled into his neck and I breathed his very essence.

"I've been at work all day," he mumbled into my ear.

Without thinking, I spoke aloud my thought, "I know. It smells like you, and I love that."


I had revealed my cards before I even realized it.

He had me, and he knew it. From there, I'd just have to trust him with my emotions.

I hated that part. I always have. I have never wanted anyone to know they had any emotional power over me whatsoever, and there I was, as if wrapping it in pretty paper and putting a ginormous ribbon around it.

What he would do from it from there was up to him, and I was forced to just stand there, my face buried in his chest until he spoke...

Because as we all know, the first to speak is the first loser.

And, he said...


For minutes, he said nothing.

Unable to take it any longer, I spoke up, "So, do you want to stand here forever like this, or are you going to let me go?"

I heard the words, "I don't know, but for right now, this is perfect."

I said nothing, but only stood there in his arms until his grip loosened.

I had been here before...

The absolute reality of life's reality hitting me slam in the face to the point that I was speechless.

I was so very aware...

I had given my power away...

And, I was his.

He could do with me what he wanted, and I would stand there and take it.

He had me.

He knew it, and I knew it.

I am so very, very grateful he treated my words with the respect they deserved.

It was him...

Nothing else. Just...him...

That had me wrangling for words.

For all words that were spoken, so many more had been unspoken, and the heaviness of the air admitted that truth.

So, where from here?

I don't know...

No clue.

But, I'll ride, because he drives...

And, at long last, I trust him.

And for as much as I've worked to prove him not worth my trust, he has proved that he actually is.

So, for now until forever, no matter what, I'll remember the exact moment that, for the third time in my lifetime, I realized I was in love...

And, I will hold it close to my heart, and even though it may fall apart tomorrow, I will hold that moment close, and I will never, ever forget...

That I forgot to tell you I loved you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Need to Be...

Oh, the words have been within me, begging to get out, but I've had to hush them. So garbled and beyond recognition to even me, to spill them out would have been foreign...

No one would have understood. Least of all, me.

So, as I sit here, I realize our lives are no more than chapters...

Composing one big book at the end.

I've been with those as their books came to completion...

Sometimes, even, in the middle of the story...

Leaving us begging for more.

My story, as of today, is yet unfinished.

I await the ending of this chapter so that I can move on to the good part of the book, but like a dutiful reader...

I will read this part, as difficult and laborious as it is, knowing that when it's over, I'll have forgotten most of it, so that I can get to the part where the story starts to turn.

All the while knowing that the parts that irritate me today are the parts that I will miss tomorrow.

I am still working at making my life to be an old friend I find in a book...

That I could sit on the back porch swing and read over and over and over again.

It still hasn't happened, but I know that one day it will.

My chapters unfold...

I find myself looking back to those chapters when my children were young and I chased them and bathed them and laughed with them and loved them and their chubby little faces, dirty from whatever adventure had captivated them on that day...

And, I'm longing to get to the part in the story where I find resolution and my children are grown and happy and settled and their lives are nothing short of greatness and happiness.

My mother knows how I feel.

She's still reading that same part of her life's book.

I await the part of my story where I have it all resolved.

That I am settled.

And, at long last...


In every sense of the word.


Nothing in the world can touch me.

It hasn't happened yet.

And, people, I'm not ready to stop reading.

I'll continue this story on and on and on.

Because, as sure as there will be a tomorrow...

There is an ending.

It was written for me before I was even born upon this earth.

And, honestly, knowing that Someone...

The One who created me...

Knows how this story ends...

Is enough for me.

For right now, I am all that I need to be.