It has been a rough last few weeks. Truth be told it’s been a rough past few months and even the whole year of 2020. I am not even talking about COVID-19, stay at home orders, social distancing, fears of infection from the virus, racial and civil unrest or even the current chaos of our political system.
Simply said my family has watched a beloved member’s health slowly decline. So much so that in the end it is hard to see who they once were. Illness and disease can do that to you.
Yet we can still hold hope, for ourselves and others, of better days ahead. As Job’s faith stayed fast even during his trials, I pray that we can all do the same.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6
I have lost my faith,
not my belief
I have misplaced it,
and it cannot
I will still search,
I will hold my faith,
I still will believe,
I still will trust,
your truth in
This past week we lost our beloved dog, Sadee Jayne ❤ (See this week’s Wordless Wednesday photo of her.) She was the fourth member or our pack and we had twelve wonderful years together. Her death has rekindled many memories of grief for me. Thus leading me to lots of questions, similar questions to those I have written about in my upcoming memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed To Cry.’
I know I struggle not in losing my faith but in misplacing it if you will. It tends to ebb and flow when I allow my belief to be based on my emotions and what is happening to me and around me. Often building my faith on a precarious stack of rocks instead of on the rock. I believe we need to focus more on the truth that does not change.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” ~Hebrews 13:8
You will take me down Into the depths feeling I might drown For you know it is there can I truly see The glorious beauty of your majesty
Into the mystic all around My pounding heartbeat the only sound Fly away to where we were meant to be Revealing to us your holy mysteries
You will take me down Break these chains that keep me bound I want to live in shameless freedom From now until your coming kingdom
Life and glory can be found Let the false intimacy come unwound Renouncing the enemy’s bastard accusations Evil fears its pronounced damnation
You will take me down Exchanging my ashes for a beautiful crown For love and mercy linger in a secret place Freely given is your unveiled grace
Spending lots of time lately thinking about ‘holy mysteries’, life and death. Our purpose, destiny and futures if we fully devote yourselves to God’s call on our lives. Yes, it will be scary and overwhelming at time and we might even feel like we are drowning and that is when we might fully come alive and live the life we were created to live chasing the dreams God has given us.
The blue sky is beginning to darken as night approaches and I watch you lying there. Your head on its side resting on the ground. You stare straight ahead past your nose, eyes wide open.
We both stay in the silence of the moment, only a faint rustle of leaves in the trees. Slowly I watch you lift your head and look around before you stop and stare off into the distance. Your dark nose crinkles as you sniff the evening air.
“What do you see?” I want to ask, I open my mouth to speak and the words catch in my throat. I swallow hard, my heart beating loudly within my chest.
I close my mouth and sit silently conjuring images of the unknown that may be floating through your mind. I sit helpless to ease your pain, wanting to comfort you as each second ticks by.
If you could only speak. To tell me what you see, what you are thinking of. For I would do whatever it is you ask or need. The world around me swirls, a strong breeze rustles the leaves, and a voice in my head from long ago breaks my reverie transporting me back.
“Please shove the pillow down lower, closer to my hip here…”
Your shrill voice rings loud in the silence of the late evening. I quickly jerk my hands away coming off the pillow as I back pedal a few steps watching your pained expression.
“I am sorry.” I speak slowly in a trembling voice as I slowly move back closer to the chair. Your head is tilted back resting hard against the back of the chair, your breath deep and labored.
“I know, … it’s okay. It just hurts so bad, ya know. I just can’t ever seem to get comfortable where it doesn’t hurt.”
My mind whirls as I stand swaying on unsteady legs unsure what to do next, not wanting to cause you more pain. I stand staring not knowing what to say waiting until you speak.
“Okay, let’s try this. Put that little pillow down behind my lower back. I will hold this one here at my side and we’ll see if that works.”
Okay I say, tentatively moving forward treating you as a fragile porcelain doll instead of the courageous strong woman that you are despite the circumstances. Inside my helplessness screams at the absurdity of it all.
Several minutes later after many machinations and adjustments you are finally somewhat comfortable for now. Breathing a heavy sigh you sink deeper into the chair closing your eyes.
“Okay that will work, thank you love.”
I fall onto the couch next to your chair my own exhaustion overtaking me. Our eyes meet for a brief second as you open your eyes and you faintly smile. Then you turn away from my gaze to look out the window at the darkening sky. I watch as you sit motionless, your pale arms resting on the arms of the recliner.
Your short dark brown hair barely touches your shoulders now as it hangs framing your face. I can still picture your long locks that used to cascade down your back and over your shoulders. I see your eyes gloss over, focused on something that only you can see. I wonder are you seeing beyond the veil that separates the worlds.
“What do you see my love?” my mind asks as I swallow my words.
My head clears, I come back to the present. You are now on your side, head once again laying on the grass, eyes open staring. The dark brown fur of your coat in sharp contrast to the green grass of late summertime.
You seem at peace with whatever may come and I envy you. My mind again asks “What do you see girl? Do you see the end?” I wonder.
A chorus of memories run through my mind of the years together. The joy, the laughter, the adventures we all shared. You completed our family and made it whole. We watched you and her grow alongside one another becoming best friends. You have always been a loyal companion that shepherded her well into her teenage years.
I know your body is now weak and frail. Age or disease catches up with us all and I hope you know I will continue to try whatever that may mean. I truly will, my mind screams into the silence of the ever darkening sky overhead. To spare you and others from what inevitability will come. My helplessness looms large, again a mountain in front of me that I am once again forced to climb.
Your eyes now closed, I watch you breathing slowly, your chest rising and falling as you sleep. There is life left and I will do whatever I can to ease your days. Although I know that option is sometimes not offered. And so we live with the unanswered question of ‘What do you see?’
Sharing a little free write essay that compares the feelings I have watching our older dog as she battles lymphoma and the triggers of memories it evokes from long ago. You will be able to read more about those memories in my upcoming memoir to be published in early 2021. You can read about it here and be sure to sign up for email notifications to get the latest updates.
As I look back over my life, the questions haunt me, ‘have I succeeded?’ and ‘how do you define a successful life?’
Success by the worlds standards might include the following:
He who has the most toys wins!
Building wealth and showing it off!
Amassing a large social media following!
Having a perfect relationship and a trophy companion!
Launching a billion-dollar business that changes the world!
I am sure you can think of many others things that might apply as well.
If you don’t define success for your life, someone else will define it for you.
What mountain are you climbing?
How do you know if it is the right one at the right time?
When you reach the summit will you see your mountain off in the distance?
For me the idea of a successful life has shrunk over the years. Not in terms of impact but in terms of grandiosity and self-serving vanity. The Emerson quote has been a favorite of mine since the first time I read it.
To laugh often and much to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others to leave the world a little better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.
I have stood at the bedside as a last breath was taken and I have no doubt my presence made that breath a little easier. You can read about this in my memoir to be published in 2021 and an update in a previous post here. I pray that I have also helped others breathe a little easier in times of trouble, strife and pain. For what good is a life that offers nothing of value to other human beings, living things and the world around us?
It’s probably not surprising to paraphrase Emerson this is my definition of success >
Yes! 😉 Today is my birthday! 🎂 Oh’ happy day right? 😃
Sometimes I am not so sure. What I mean is I have less years in front of me than I do behind me so another birthday is a reminder that time here on earth is finite. Time to get moving, live your dreams, seek your purpose, leave the world and others a little bit better.
AND WHAT GOOD IS A LIFE, THAT LEAVES NOTHING BEHIND, NOT A THOUGHT OR A DREAM, THAT MIGHT ECHO IN TIME ~Trans Siberian Orchestra “What is Eternal” from Beethoven’s Last Night #SongLyrics #Poetry #Music #Questions @trans_siberian
So with that happy thought ringing in your head, a question for you. Do you find a motivating quote, scripture, picture or something else to guide you? As I traverse this life between the eternities I often look to scripture for guidance, inspiration and solace. The following verse gives me strength, hope and comfort when the world seems out of control.
There are many others including quotes and even just photos that often have the same effect in calming my soul. Check out my Wordless Wednesday posts!
What about you? I would love to hear what gives you moments of respite during these chaotic and often confusing times.
A little different post for Motivation Monday this week. I want to encourage parents, both fathers and mothers. This post is written from my perspective as a father, but it can apply to those moms who are parenting alone and filling both roles.
I hope every father had a great Fathers day. Now that the day set aside to be all about you is over, it’s time to get back to being the father your children need. Your influence and impact will either set them up for success or failure in life. You are their protector, comfort, soft place to land, compass, rock and shelter from the storm.
For fathers of daughters, as I am, who you are as a man will influence how they view other men. How you love and treat them, how you love and treat their mother will impact their belief and trust in other men.
Fathers, show your daughters what a real man is, and how a real man treats a lady. #MotivationMonday #FathersDay #EverydayYouAreADad #HappyDayAfterFathersDay
“Think of the impact we would have if came alive as fathers. Your children will grow up and affect the lives of countless others and their children will go on and do the same. This ripple effect – this opportunity of compounding influence – has got to overwhelmingly dwarf whatever the majority of us may hope to accomplish at our jobs. Love your kids, men. Teach them to be strong, dedicated, focused, gentle, fierce, loyal.” - John Lovell, Warrior Poet Society
Love your kids, men. Teach them to be strong, dedicated, focused, gentle, fierce, loyal.” - John Lovell, Warrior Poet Society @johnlovell275