Monthly Archives: November 2009

It May Be ‘Well With My Soul,’ But I Am Not Okay

It was a beautiful service. More than one person has sheepishly admitted to feeling guilty for saying they “enjoyed” my dad’s funeral, but I know what they meant. We “had church” that day. The choir loft was full, family and friends held us close, we sang together, and I could truly feel God’s presence with me through the visitation and the funeral service. I visited with friends and family I haven’t seen in awhile. We hugged and cried and even laughed. I heard stories about my dad that are almost like family traditions they are told so often. I heard stories about my dad I’d never heard before.

And then everyone went home.

And life never even missed a day.

And I am not okay.

I am tired. At first I thought I just needed to catch up on the rest I’d missed the last few nights my dad was alive. We stayed by my dad’s bed around the clock and didn’t get much sleep. But even though I’m sleeping more regular hours and in my own bed, I’m more exhausted than ever. I think just living through each day takes more energy than I’m used to expending.

I am sad. I cry a lot.  I haven’t had any prolonged sessions of weeping, moaning, or wailing, but the tears come often, usually  in short little spurts of sadness. Like when I was in Books-A-Million and I found myself looking for a good book to give my dad for his birthday or Christmas (I almost always bought him cologne and a book around his birthday and/or Christmas). The  realization I would never get to buy my dad a book ever again felt like a kick to my stomach.

I have discovered sad tears are not the same as mad tears. (I cry when I’m very mad, which makes me even angrier.) Mad tears are hotter and they burn my nose a little. I’ve cried lots of mad tears lately because…

Mostly I am mad.

I am upset Thanksgiving happened anyway. It should have been cancelled. As should the whole month of December. I don’t want to do my birthday or my dad’s birthday or Christmas this year. I realize besides my birthday, the other two dates are not even really about me, but I just don’t know I can stomach the season this year. But I will, because my children need me to. My mom and brother and husband need me to. I need to. My dad would want me to.

Several times in different places on Thanksgiving day I read that gratitude is a choice, not an emotion and I truly am thankful for the blessings I’ve received. But being thankful is usually more of an instant response for me. This year it has felt a little forced.

And since I’ve been honest with you about this whole journey, I’m going to tell you I am mad my dad didn’t get the miracle I asked God to give him. The one my sweet babies prayed for every single night and every day at school. The one I begged for more often and with more energy than I’ve ever asked for anything in my entire life. I asked with all my heart and God said no, not on this earth. He did not do what I wanted Him to do and I am mad.

I know God’s plan is always the best plan. I know He is purposeful in everything He does. I know His ways are higher than my ways. I know one day I’ll understand. I believe He can even get more glory from my dad’s death than He would have received if my dad had lived.

But I am an imperfect, sinful, selfish little girl who misses her daddy and nothing in the paragraph above this one makes me less angry or makes me miss my daddy any less. I can’t see what is around the next corner. I just see my life without my dad in it and I don’t like it and I am mad.

Please don’t tell me my dad’s in a better place. I know he is. I’m not sad for him. I’m sad for me. I miss the way my world was when my dad was in it.

Lately I don’t answer many of my texts, emails, or phone calls. I haven’t felt like talking lately. I’m also tired of opening my mouth to say a sentence only to melt into a puddle of tears. I have a hard time praying right now. For almost a year I’ve been praying for my dad. I now have a big gaping hole where that prayer used to be. I could pretend I’m a bigger person and I’m a more mature believer, but I’ve always told the truth here, so I’m just going to tell it like it is and say I know that part of the reason I’m having a hard time talking to God is He really hurt my feelings. I am pouting and I am holding a grudge.

I am so hesitant to publish this post. I realize how ridiculous it is that the creation is giving the Creator the silent treatment. How dare I pout at the Lord Most High? Just who do I think I am?  I think maybe I’m related to David. Have you read any of his songs in the book of Psalms lately? He asked the same questions I’ve been asking. And just like me, he wondered where in the world God was one minute and then held on for dear life to the hope of God the next.

I am not okay.

But every day I wake up, get dressed and ready for the day, and I “do the next thing.” And I am going to publish this post because, I am going to make a bold declaration, like one of my favorite bloggers Annie did some time ago.  She told us, her readers, to just watch and see how God was going to provide for her. I want you to watch and see how God will get the glory as He carries me through this dark time. I don’t think He’s going to answer all of my questions. I don’t expect to wake up one day and be okay with the fact my dad’s with Him and not here with me. But I know my God and I know if I let Him, He wants to use me to further His kingdom through this journey. He’ll get the glory whether I give it to Him or not. He’s God and the glory belongs to Him. But I think He wants to let me in on His story and let me be part of the process.  I think this will continue to be, as my people like to say, “a tough road to hoe,” but I believe great will be the harvest.

You want to know one little reason why I know I’m right to tell you to watch and see what the Lord’s going to do? Because I had completely forgotten until I looked for the post to link to it here that in Annie’s “Story of Trust” she quoted Lamentations 3:22-26.  Why is that a big deal? Well, those were my daddy’s verses. His favorite hymn was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” We had those verses printed on the bracelets we had made to remind people to pray for my dad.

Whenever God does something big or small that lets me know He cares about what matters to me, I call it a “God hug.” I’ve really missed my earthly daddy’s hugs. He gave big, warm, strong, all-enveloping hugs. His first brain tumor and consequent surgery caused him to have weakness on his left side.  It has been a very long time since I’ve truly had one of my daddy’s best hugs. Finding those verses on a post I happened to link to tonight was like a hug from my heavenly father. I can’t even explain it to you, but I know He gets me.

I know this post has been lengthy and I know many of you look for blogs to read that are bright and shiny and happy. Well, I write to process my thoughts. I am mourning the loss of my sweet daddy and am grieving the loss of my life as I knew it. This blog will probably look a lot like my life does these days. Some times it will be light and fluffy with laughter and lollipops and rainbows (well, probably not the lollipops and rainbows). Sometimes it will be dark and messy and broody. But I will write what I know and what I’m living and if I am able, I will chronicle my walk through the valley of the shadow of death and back. I’ll try to warn you if a post is going to be about how I’m dealing with my grief by prefacing the title with the letters “MGO” (MY Grief Observed) in homage to one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, who wrote the classic A Grief Observed. Trust me, I don’t fancy myself to be in the same league as Mr. Lewis, but I don’t think he would mind.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you all for your sweet comments, texts, Tweets, emails, and especially your prayers…….I may not have acknowledged them all but I didn’t take one single word for granted. I love words way too much to ever take them for granted, you know. I appreciate your support and encouragement through this journey and will continue to depend on them in the days to come.

This post first appeared on Snoodlings on November 2



Filed under My Grief Observed

Weep with those who weep

Dear Snoodlings Family,

This is Carpool Queen writing to let you know that yesterday morning Amy’s beloved father finished his battle with cancer and went to be with his Savior in heaven.

I have re-written the above sentence fifteen times and no matter which way I write it, there’s no way around the grief that it encompasses.

This is her blog, and I will not put her emotions into words, but I will leave some of my own. I have had the great privilege of living in close community with her family for many years. I have sat at the breakfast table and watched her daddy read the sports page.  I’ve seen his eyes light up at the sight of a fried peach pie.  I have smelled his cologne as I’ve been enveloped in a welcoming hug.  I’ve heard his unique soft chuckle and have memorized his smile.  To say he was a very special man seems inadequate.

At his funeral, many will speak of how he was instrumental in mentoring them or how they were inspired by the spirit of worship he created in the sanctuary.  I will remember a man who welcomed into the life of his family a young woman who needed a soft place to land and who needed support and understanding at a time when her own family was finding that difficult to give.  Her dad was that man, and I am forever grateful for the place of peace that I found in that home.

Please pray for peace for his family as they navigate the details and emotions of the weeks and months ahead and pray for Amy as she walks the broken road.  Those prayers will not be wasted.



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Words and Music

I’m not sure how long it has been since I blogged. My email inbox is overflowing. My Google Reader is full of blogs I haven’t read. I haven’t been regularly keeping up with most of my Tweeps’ conversations on Twitter. I don’t return all of my friends’ phone calls or texts. I really need and want to respond to many of your words, but I just can’t right now.

Honestly, it’s all I can do to do what I have to do every day. I’m trying to be the mom, wife, daughter, and sister I need to be and I feel like at the end of the day, I have nothing left to be the friend I want to be. I’m also wary of saying too much at times and coming across as ungrateful when I really know how very blessed I am. By the time I’ve weighed all the words I need to use to write the minimum amount for my dad’s CaringBridge updates, I don’t have many words or minutes left to write anywhere else.

My dad isn’t doing very well. Either this is like the story in the Old Testament where Elijah poured buckets and buckets of water on the altar so that when God called down fire no one would doubt that it was anything other than a miracle from His hands or my earthly daddy is going to be with my heavenly One.

So this is what it’s like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I’ve been on the edges of the valley before with friends and family members but I’ve never walked through this particular part. It’s a dark and ugly place. Although I can hear and sometimes even feel friends encouraging me from just outside the valley, this is a road everyone ends up walking alone.

Well, that’s not right. I’m not alone. Even in the darkest, ugliest parts, I know that God is with me. If I didn’t, I couldn’t do this.

Before he resigned as the minister of music to take over our church’s pastoral care ministry, my dad led our church in worship every week. He was a worship leader before “praise and worship” was cool. Although, unlike many erroneously have believed, my family didn’t sit around the table singing hymns before dinner or practice four-part harmonies like the Von Trapp Family, music is a big part of each of our lives.

Along with my love of music, I’m a “word girl.” I love a well-constructed phrase or a sentence that speaks paragraphs. I like to say words, read words, think them…

So when beautiful music marries the right words, I always want to be invited to the reception. I could type word after word after word today but I’m not sure I’d say a whole lot worth reading. Instead I’m going to post a video of a song that makes my heart say “Amen” right now.

I’m not sure there’s anyone left who even bothers to check if I’ve posted anymore. That’s okay. I started this blog almost exactly one year ago (November 13th, in fact) because Sus had decided to blog and I thought it sounded like fun. I had no idea what I was doing and I still don’t. I certainly didn’t expect to make friends who have turned into sisters. I don’t think it would be overly dramatic to say that this little blog has changed my life, because you, my friends, have changed my life. I am better because I know you. But my focus for the blog has changed, I think. I used to obsessively check my stat counters to see how many people were reading and get excited about how many comments I received, but that just doesn’t seem very important anymore. My reality can be boiled down to one simple fact: All that really matters in life is faith, family, and friends. I’m overabundantly blessed with all three.

So if you’re here and you need to be encouraged with me today, I hope that this song speaks comfort to you, too. Please don’t feel like you have to leave a comment or struggle with what to say to me. It’s okay. I know what you mean and appreciate it greatly.


Filed under Uncategorized