Ellie and the Bride

The day had finally come
The day two people would become one
It would be a traditional wedding, down to a T
Well, all but one thing
The arches reaching the highest levels
The edge of the aisles coated in petals
The bridesmaids dressed in hues of blue
The church full of people, exactly 102
The soft smell of gardenia floating around the room
And waiting at the altar was the handsome groom
It was just about time for the ceremony to begin
And that’s when sadness finally sank in

She slowly opened the door
Only to find the bride curled up on the floor
“Elsie, are you okay?”
“It’s not fair! He should be here today!”
Ellie held back her tears as she tried to find the words to say
But she understood, no father should miss their daughter’s wedding day
She wrapped her arms around her tight
She expected a breakdown at some point that night
Ellie knelt down and pulled Elise near
Then softly whispered, “He is, he is here…
…he may not be here to walk you down the aisle but heaven has the perfect view, the perfect view for Daddy to see you say ‘I do’”

The wedding started off with a bit of a delay
But the rest was perfect, in almost every way

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“Today was beautiful, I’m certain you would’ve cried
Can’t believe our baby girl got married tonight
She was the last one, they’re all officially on their own
Now I have to go back to an empty home
How do I go back there? What am I supposed to do?
It’s not fair Emmett, I should be sharing this time with you”

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Say No

I have a very vivid memory of sitting on a rug surrounded by classmates as my first grade teacher read this book about a man with countless caps on his head and I remember thinking, “Why is he wearing so many hats?” I was almost seven then. Fast forward eighteen years and I found myself asking that same question. Why am I wearing so many hats?

My life has become a balancing act, balancing all these different hats; the hat of wife, the hat of mother, the hat of writer, the hat of employee, the hat of ministry leader, the hat of sister, the hat of friend. I have become the character in that book. We all have. We all wear hats of different sizes, different shapes, different colors and as we walk through life we take on new hats, more hats.

Can I share a real, raw moment with you? Earlier this year all my hats fell. They seemed to all slip off of my head simultaneously. Every. Single. One. It was then that I asked myself, Why am I wearing so many hats?

Each title we take on comes with their own set of tasks. Every set of tasks contributes to a long list. A long list of things we need to do. Need. The word need by its very definition means something that is essential. But are all the hats we wear truly necessary? Are we wearing too many hats? I can’t answer that question for you but I can answer for myself and the answer is yes. Yes, I was wearing way too many hats. Yes, I took on too many titles. Yes, I was overwhelmed with all the tasks. And so they fell.

Can I share another real, raw moment with you? I’m happy that they fell. It wasn’t until I saw my hats scattered all around that I was able to see just which ones were truly essential. It wasn’t until I started picking them up that I was able to discern which ones I should say no to.

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs

So say no. Not to everything. But to the things that you know aren’t necessary. This part is critical, don’t feel bad about it. You’re not being selfish or rude by saying no. That’s a misconception. Saying no means that you’re acknowledging that you can’t do everything. Saying no means that you’re prioritizing. Taking on too much causes us to stagger. Like the man with all the caps on his head, they will all eventually fall. But taking on less allows us to glide and as we move, we can truly enjoy the things that are important. 

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Ellie’s Disaster

Emmett was a great man with a troubled past
“You’re just going to end up just like your dad”
Those words he would never allow to come to pass
His father was a great guy, truly loving and kind
But when he got to drinking, he’d really lose his mind
Fist fighting with his wife, cursing at the children
It was hard to remember that the alcohol was the reason
He remembers very vividly prying them apart
Seeing his mother all bruised up really broke his heart
His father left that day, never to be seen again
He thought it marked a new start
But it was really the beginning of the end
Later that year his sister took her own life
Two months later alcohol became his mother’s vice
Ironic, isn’t it?
Actually, it’s full circle
Began with a glass of vodka, ended with one too
To stop this cycle, he knew what he had to do
Lakewood was the town
A place light would surely abound
A place the darkness would cease to exist
A place he could truly persist
A place where he would finally be free
At least initially, that’s how it seemed
He saw her coming, the car going faster and faster
Before he knew it, he was witnessing Ellie’s disaster
Over the cliff her car dove and with it all the wounds of his past exposed

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the Storm

Storms are defined as a violent disturbance of the atmosphere. That’s how these past few months have felt. Strong winds. Heavy rain. Thunder. Lightning. It felt as if I was lost at sea. Stranded. Alone. Drowning. Every time I finally found my footing another wave would send me under again. I found myself panicking, gasping for air, trying to keep my head above the water. All I wanted was to just reach the shore. But with every step closer to land, the water would just push me back again. Countless times I cried out, begging God to still the sea. But it seemed like He had forgotten about me.

A loud voice began to echo, “Surrender to the storm.” I continued to cry out but still no answer. I felt defeated. I felt forgotten. I stopped trying. I stopped fighting. I just stopped. When I stopped the echo grew louder. “You’re never going to survive this. Why are you still fighting? Just give up! Surrender to the storm!” I screamed as the current dragged me deeper. I started to sink.

Then a still, small voice whispered, “You’re almost there.” This voice wasn’t the same. This voice was different. Quieter yet louder. Softer but stronger. Overpowering the voice I heard before. “You’re almost there.”

Just as hope started to arise, doubt rushed in to keep me down.

“Surrender!”
“You’re almost there.”
“Surrender!”
“You’re almost there.”
“SURRENDER!!”

The storm calmed to a whisper. The waves stilled. The voices stopped. A surge of strength overcame me. I stood to my feet. I took a deep breath. I started to walk.

Finally, I could see the shore.

What seemed like forever was merely a moment. I spent so much time and energy trying to save myself when all I needed to do was be still. Instead of focusing on the storm, I should’ve focused on the One who created the seas. I couldn’t hear the sound of His still, small voice in the midst of my screams. I couldn’t remember His truth because I was being filled with lies. Isn’t it just like the devil to throw darts at our minds when we’re too distracted to dodge them?

This storm has taught me that God doesn’t come exactly when we call and He doesn’t stop every rainfall (or in my case, down pour). When we feel like we’re drowning in our difficulties, we pray for a way out rather than a way through, but even in the midst of our worst storm, He has already made a way. He has already parted the seas. You see, storms don’t come to break us. They come to stretch us. The wind and the rain, the thunder and the lightning, that’s how our faith grows.

I have yet to reach the shore, but God’s shown it to me, I know it’s there. For now, the sea is still and I’m pushing forward. Along the way I’m arming myself for when the storm comes again because it will come again but as Pastor Steven Furtick once said, “God speaks in past tense about the battles you’re currently fighting.”

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” – Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

So let the storm come, the victory is already mine.
And it’s already yours.

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While Ellie Sleeps

Day One
Her body full of bruises
Her spirit surely shattered
But she was still here, that is what matters
Drifting in and out of sleep
The only clear sound is when the heart monitor beeps
A sudden chill down her spine when she realizes, “That pulse…it’s mine!”
Instantly her tears start to stream
I shouldn’t be here! I did it! I was free! I shouldn’t be here! Why didn’t You take me?”

Day Three
Coma, that’s what the doctors call it
An extended unconscious state
No way of truly knowing her fate

Day Twelve
He holds her hand and silently prays
Asking God why He allowed their paths to cross that day
The image permanently sketched in his mind
Like a movie he’s watched a million times
He saw her in the distance, speeding down the street
When her car went over, he followed the streams
It lead him to a beach and there her body laid
To think he almost didn’t take his usual walk that day
Another man spotted her body and called 911
He sighed in relief unaware that their journey together had only just begun
Compelled by his need to know why
He told the medics he was a friend
But Ellie had never met this guy

Day Twenty-Five
He’s still by her side

Day Thirty 
The doctors strongly advise against keeping his hopes high
But something in him knew God didn’t want her to die
Suddenly her finger wiggled
His eyes opened wide, he let out a small giggle
She could feel the warmth of his hand on hers
But she cannot see, her vision is blurred
“Please wake up” she hears him say
Who is this man?
The answer to that is for another day

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Ellie’s Goodbye

She presses on the peddle ever so lightly
It picks up speed ever so slightly
She smiles as a breeze caresses her skin
She can see the sunshine start to dim
She presses down a little harder
Just a little farther
The dial passes 90
I’m in the clear, no one’s behind me
Faster, faster
Easily over 110
She was going so fast, she didn’t see the man up ahead
She clutches the wheel and takes a deep breath
An image that he will never forget
Over the cliff, she falls to her demise
Soon they will ask, “Why Ellie? Why?”

Eighteen hours later they break down her door
Searching for answers
But not prepared for what’s in store
“Look a letter!” one of them yelled
As she began to read to her knees she fell
If you’re reading this then I’m already gone
But the truth is I’ve already been dead for so very long
That night he took everything away
But now that never-ending nightmare can no longer replay
It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to cry
I wish I could’ve held you as I said goodbye
Know that I’ll love you until my very last breath
I’ll still love you even in death

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“911, what’s your emergency?”
“A body! A body just washed ashore”
“Sir, what is your location?”
“Camp Nathan”
“Sir, could you….
“Oh my god!”
“Sir?”
“Oh my God!!”
“Sir, are you alright?”
She’s still alive!”

I Will Still Be There

Yesterday was the first day of March which means we’re days away from celebrating Elijah’s 5th birthday. Sometimes it seems more like he’s four going on fifteen, especially lately. Lately he’s really been testing my patience. But in the process, he’s also been teaching me.

Some days are perfect and some days I lose count of the times I have to say, “Stop! Don’t do that. You know better!” Just this week we were playing in the yard. There’s this particular part where he loves to go exploring, it’s not a bad place to play but the ground is just extremely uneven and the inconsistencies usually cause him to trip and fall.

While we were playing, he wanted to go exploring and even though I told him not to go there, off he went and bam, he trips. “Elijah if you would’ve just listened to Mommy then that wouldn’t have happened! Come here, let me check your legs.” As I rubbed his knees I felt this still, small voice say, “Exactly.”

How many times has God told us, “No, don’t go there…No, don’t do that…No, don’t say that…No…No…No…Believe me, I only want what’s best for you…Trust me, I don’t want you to get hurt” and yet we still do it?

I’m sure God has lost count of the times he has had to tell me, “Stop! Don’t do that. You know better!” There are places and people and situations He has instructed me to avoid. If I’m honest, I haven’t always listened and more often than not my disobedience lead to distress. But just as I comforted my son, God comforted me. Even after I explicitly said not to go, I was still there. Even after God commanded me not to do something, He was still there. Just as I hugged Elijah and kissed his boo boo, God embraced me and healed me from my brokenness.

I would prefer that Elijah not play in that particular part of the yard but when he does and when he falls, I will be there.
And when I fall, as I surely will, God will be there.

And He will be there for you too!