When It Is Well with Your Soul, But Not with the Rest of You

When It Is well with your soul, but not the rest of you

I remember the somber voices singing at my mother’s funeral. I sat beside my dad, near the front of the church, as the crowd behind us led and echoed the chorus of the hymn “It Is Well.”

It Is Well

             It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

And though I was a child, a fifth grade girl sitting in shock and grief near her mother’s casket, I understood. Deep down, I knew it was true. The pain was almost unbearable, the confusion made it difficult to breath, and the sadness felt like it would overtake me, but yet I could not deny those words were truth.

It was well with my soul.

I knew God, and I trusted Him. I didn’t have a clue why He’d allow such a tragedy in my life, but in my very core, when I looked past the tears and the heartbreak, I knew I didn’t have to understand my circumstances for God to still be good, and for it to be well.

But the understanding that it was well was so far buried in my soul, that the rest of me struggled to bring it to light.  

My mind, emotions, and actions strained to see it.

My soul knew it was well, but the peace, trust, and hope that wellness could potentially produce were being held hostage in my soul’s white-knuckled grip. My mind, emotions, and actions could not wrestle it away for more than a few brief moments. It wasn’t greed that caused my soul to hold wellness at bay, but instead a desperate need to possess the truth at all.

My mind, emotions, and actions fought to grasp it.

My mind raced with fear and worry. My brain showed me horror films of more traumas I feared were to come. Would my dad die young too? Would my brother and I be left alone? Would I know how to grow into a woman without a mom to show me the way?

My emotions were in shambles. Sometimes I cried at the drop of a hat, and other times I laughed without understanding what was funny. I couldn’t rein in my emotions. Instead, many days they ruled me.

My actions simply followed the suit of my mind and emotions. Some days I’d find myself calmly executing normal mundane tasks; like homework. It felt the same as before the tragedy. Other days, nothing felt the same. I found myself in the hallway at school confiding in my teacher about my fears and concerns before even realizing I’d made the choice to talk to her.

My soul knew it was well, but my mind, emotions, and actions continued the daily struggle to concur.

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic I find myself in a similar state of internal grappling. No longer a little girl sitting in a pew, but a grown woman sitting at home with my own family, the statement and subsequent echo still ring true.

It Is Well

            It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

My soul once again can confidently proclaim that I know, deep down, everything is going to be okay. No matter what happens, no matter how long we are sheltered in place, no matter what losses are suffered, no matter if, or when, vaccines become available. It is well.

But once again, my mind, emotions, and actions are limping along behind, social distancing from my soul.

My mind races. It’s well trained for such events, where worry and anxiety thrive. What if a loved one is exposed to the virus? What if we have to cancel things we’ve been looking forward to for months? What if our economy cannot recover?

My emotions are all over the map, though I’ve hardly left my house. I’ve acted so silly and laughed until my stomach hurt over a card game, and then choked back tears while watching my child mourn the loss of her fifth grade musical performance.

My actions are sporadic too. One day I feel the need to clean and organize our home, to take advantage of this time. As I’m doing these mundane tasks, things feel much like they did before COVID-19 dictated our lives. Another day, everything feels heavy and new. I decide I’ll eat ice cream and sit and stare at nothing.

When my soul knows it is well, but the rest of me lags behind, I have to remind myself of this:

My soul knows it is well.

Though sluggish and tattered, the rest of me will follow what my soul knows. It may take time, and perhaps some forgiveness and grace, but one day, the rest of me will catch up with soul. It will be a happy reunion, where hugs are not only allowed, but encouraged.

As a teenager, it happened for me. I can’t name a date, time, or a specific reason, but I eventually found my mother’s death was well with my soul… and with the rest of me. The pain and grief didn’t come to an end, but my mind stopped racing, my emotions were more stable, and my actions jumped on the bandwagon too. Time and grace were big contributors to the wholeness.

And I know it will happen again. I don’t know when or what will cause it, but eventually, I will find this pandemic, and all of its subsequent effects, are well with my soul… and the rest of me too.

Until then, I’m going to leave plenty of space for time and grace. And, I’ll keep encouraging my soul to sing.

It Is Well

            It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

And I’ll wait for the rest of me to join the chorus.

Just visiting.

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The pictures in my iPhoto library scrolled in front of my eyes like credits rolling on a screen at the end of a movie. Only faster.

I was feeling a little uneasy in my stomach. Granted, I could have been getting motion sick from the quick movement (No, really. I’m serious. This happened to me once at the library in the 1990’s while looking at microfiche), but the real fact of the matter was that I was nauseous from nostalgia. Sick from sentimentality. Pained from pondering.

You get the idea.

I had to sort through the memories for a reason. All three of my children have had the same woman as their kindergarten teacher. My youngest is now “graduating” from kindergarten, and our tenure in her class is over. Just like that.

This teacher is amazing, and in an effort to make her a gift containing a photo of her with each of my kids when they were in her class, I had to search through approximately 12 billion photos in hopes to find three. Eventually, I did find them, but in the searching, I found many more that pulled on my heart strings.

My now twelve-year-old’s third birthday party with the Thomas the Tank Engine cake that I spent HOURS making.

My now eight-year-old’s first pigtails.

My soon-to-be first grader’s birth. The first time her siblings held her in their arms.

Chubby cheeks.

Little toes.

Birthday parties. First days of schools.

My seven-year-old’s store-bought birthday cake.

The time my girls got their pigtails cut off to donate to children in need of wigs.

The three of them arm in arm at a baseball game.

I found myself lost in a world of memories, yet feeling like these events had happened in my life almost as quickly as the photos on the screen were whizzing past me.

And in a few more minutes, it seems they’ll be more photos in the camera roll.

Graduations.

Weddings.

Grandkids.

Another generation of chubby cheeks and little toes.

More firsts. More lasts.

The knot in my stomach was now fully tied.

The moments of this life are so fleeting. I try to hold on to them. To keep them. To at least make them slow their pace.

I mentally place the events in my bucket as I cross the firsts and lasts off my list. But I must have a hole in my bucket because as fast as they pile higher, they’re gone.

Each moment is only here for a visit. No, they can’t linger for long. The are just passing through.

But regardless, I’m going to keep inviting the moments of life in. I’ll keep putting them in my bucket, my iPhoto library, and my heart.

And I’ll enjoy each visit, for as long as it lasts.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: VISIT

 

All the feels.

There’s this phrase that young and cool people say now-a-days.

When someone is feeling really emotional, good or bad, they say they have “all the feels.”

Because I am not a cool person (and my young-ness is debatable, at a week shy of 39), I don’t often (ever) use this phrase. I tend to be pretty traditional. So if something is giving me really strong feelings, I will most likely say, “Wow. I am feeling emotional today.”

But today…

I HAVE ALL THE FEELS!

Deep breath. 

Here’s why.

First off, today is the anniversary of my mom’s death. She passed away 28 years ago when I was a week shy of eleven. Her death was sudden and shocking and has obviously impacted my life.

Feels.

Secondly, after three years of working on writing a book (and doing all that the process of having it ready for release entails- which is A LOT) I sent the Advanced Reader Copies of my book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels, to my book launch team this morning (digitally). That means that my launch team, which is comprised of friends and family, is potentially reading my book now. It’s out there! It is a vulnerable and honest telling of my story and it encourages the reader to savor life through heartache, joy, and the moments in between. And, I was able to time its early release with the anniversary of my mom’s death- which is such a special way to honor her life and memory.

Feels. 

Third, I unveiled my book cover and the release date to the general public on Wednesday of this week. I posted the details on social media and asked my launch team to help me share it before the book releases (which they have already started to do!). The book releases in just over a month, on April 25th, and will be available on Amazon, both in paperback and for the Kindle. In the weeks to come, more will be shared on this website and on social media, including a book trailer (a short video teaser about the book) and endorsements.

Feels.

Fourth, our family has been asked to share our son, Karson’s, cancer journey at two fundraising events for the children’s hospital which diagnosed and treated him, Riley Hospital for Children. We share Friday evening at a university, and Saturday evening at a high school. My husband, Kraig, Karson, and I will all speak together and our girls will be with us.

Feels.

So, you can hopefully see why I have given my uncool self permission to use this young and cool phrase. All the feels, man. I think it is merited in this situation. I will try to limit my use of it to this weekend, and then go back to my “I am feeling very emotional” verbiage. Thanks for understanding.

Here’s a glimpse at the book cover. More to come!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Cover Reveal!-2

Welcome, Joy.

She unfolded the little slip of white paper and read the question aloud. The scribbled letters, written in marker, were legible to her little Kindergarten mind, though not always decipherable to the rest of us. Karly had filled a jar with these little scraps, each containing a question that she’d composed, and to which she wanted an answer. It was her way of continuing a tradition we’d started in our family of asking everyone a “conversation starter” question at dinner. The activity was a family favorite, and now Karly wanted to be the master of ceremonies.

“What is your favorite feeling?” our miniature emcee asked. She was thinking outside the box and wanted to know what emotion we all liked the best.

We all took a moment to think and then all five of us agreed. The answer was unanimous.

Joy.

We all like joy.

Who doesn’t?

Joy is great. Right?

So if I like joy so much, why do I sometimes find myself feeling joyless?

I’ve often heard the expression that so-and-so or such-and-such “stole my joy,” but as I think about it, is that really possible?

Can someone else take my joy? Or did I allow my joy to leave?

Perhaps it’s a crowding problem. I have so many other emotions, some that I don’t care for nearly as much as joy, that can take up a lot of space.

Fear.

Doubt.

Uncertainty.

Lies.

Worry.

There’s not much room for joy.

Sometime joy gets pushed out the front door of my heart.

I know that as a Christian I am to “be joyful always” like Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians, but apparently joy is not a constant or automatic guest in the human heart.

Joy waits for an invitation. And like any act of hospitality, to host joy takes effort and sacrifice.

But I wish for joy to take off its coat and stay awhile.

So today I’ll open the door and ask the fears and lies and doubts to hit the road.

I’m going to make room for a favorite.

I’m going to throw down the welcome mat, open the door of my heart wide,

…and welcome joy.167324_128373713898631_4310663_n

 

This post is part of Five Minute Friday where a group of bloggers link up here and write about a given topic (for approximately 5 minutes.) The topic is based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word was: WELCOME