The Hope Amid the Darkness

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.                 Corrie Ten Boom

Holy Saturday.

Jesus has been crucified and buried.

His followers are bewildered and afraid.

Darkness prevailed.

Looking back over the past month I have struggled with my own bewilderment and darkness as I’ve attempted to come to grips with the death of the 16-year-old soccer teammate of my son, Ben.

It began on March 8th.

That morning I received a text from my other son, Patrick, “something’s happened at Jesuit”

Me, “what do you mean?  is the school on lockdown? Are there alarms going off? Are there emergency vehicles? Why do you think something has happened?” (It had only been three weeks since the school shootings had happened in Florida – I was feeling a little nervous.)

Son, “I’m not sure but they announced a freshman and sophomore meeting and changed the class schedule for the day.”

A moment later, “a sophomore died.  It was a car crash.  Guy Delaney, he played JV soccer.  Ben probably knows him.”

And, with that news, the day and the ones that followed went dark.

My heart was shattered for Guy, his family, his teammates, friends and, the staff at Jesuit who now had to help the students and each other navigate a second student death this school year.

My heart was also broken for Ben who was devastated and confused and had no idea how to handle the amount of grief he felt. I was overwhelmed, and surprised, by my own sorrow and the anguish I felt for Guy’s family.

Darkness settled in and I struggled through the ensuing days. I tried to choose joy when I woke in the morning and I tried to be thankful for the many blessings each day brings.  I tried.

But the darkness and grief were powerful.

I didn’t question God or why it happened.  I know free will dictated the choice made by the driver who caused the crash.  And, I believe strongly that, even as Jesus welcomed Guy into His kingdom, he also cried for the loss felt so strongly by so many.

My head knew these things but I couldn’t seem to convince my heart that everything was going to be okay.

As funerals often do, it began the process of closure for those outside his immediate family.  Guy’s parents invited the soccer players to honor him by wearing their jerseys, processing in and placing a white rose on his casket.  The service was filled to capacity and the tributes remembering Guy helped everyone laugh through the tears.

And, a sliver of light broke through.

Two weeks after his passing, and playing their first soccer game since the funeral, the JV soccer team was praying before things got underway.  It was a cloudy sky but as the team huddled together a ray of sunshine broke through and shone on the players.  It was an incredibly powerful moment.

(photo cred to Rob Kelton)

The grace of God and our faith tells us this was Guy.

The sliver of light became a bright sunbeam.

The hope amid the darkness.

As Ben and I continued to talk about Guy, and the hardness of losing someone, the days slowly became brighter.  One morning, Ben shared with me that Guy had come to him in a dream during the night.  In the dream, Guy told him he was okay, Ben was able to tell him goodbye and they hugged. Ben felt the hug and he felt the love.  “It was so real”, he said.

Guy is in the arms of Jesus.  And, in a few hours, we will commemorate Jesus’ victory over death.

Bad things happen but, God is good.  Today, he has wrapped his loving arms around Guy’s family and all those who love him and continue to struggle with their grief.

And, long ago, on that Holy Saturday when his followers were baffled and afraid God knew the bigger plan would triumph.

The light is coming.  Hope is on the horizon.  Jesus will rise.  His followers and those of us who believe understand that even amidst all the confusion, grief, and darkness God’s love will prevail.

Thanks be to God.

Guy’s own profound words, written in a memory book and shared by his father, Neil, at the funeral:

“Work hard, be patient, say your prayers and the rest will follow.”

warning:  Love wins.

I did another post right after Guy died when the team played their first game without him.  If you are interested you can read that blog here.

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Small Business Saturday – Don’t Forget the Little Guy

If you go out and shop this weekend remember to visit the smaller, family-owned businesses, too.  Whether it’s a restaurant, retail or service, as the underdogs in this big business universe we certainly aren’t conglomerates, we are just trying to support our families and make a difference in our little corner of the world.

Come see us – you will get a higher level of customer service from knowledgeable staff, along with competitive pricing and financing options. Okay, maybe you won’t get financing options if you’re visiting a mom and pop restaurant but, if there is a problem, the owners will help resolve issues.  After all, we want to ensure you are satisfied so you’ll come back again and again.

This weekend, wherever you live, please look for and shop at the small companies that make up the fabric of your community. Give us a chance to help you and give you a better experience then you’ll get with a large company. Seriously, it doesn’t cost anything to check us out and see what you’ve been missing. And, if we can’t find what you need or get what you want than those big chain stores are just down the road.

Come see us. We need YOUR business to stay in business.

Oh – and tell your friends too.

Simba the Cat Oozing Energy

With the hot and humid dog cat days of summer upon us Simba is hard pressed to do much of anything. He’s not exactly oozing energy.

Until, of course, I either 1) get my laptop out or 2) we put an open empty box on the floor AND the dog walks by.

Energy….FOUND!

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”
― James Herriot, James Herriot’s Cat Stories

The Daily Post – Trance at the Museum

 

A trip to the Perot Museum in downtown Dallas took us to the Gems and Minerals Hall.  An exhibit which filled me with awe as I wandered around and looked at an amazing array of treasures from this wondrous earth.

In particular, the large, and very pretty, amethyst geode was remarkable to look at.  So gorgeous with all the shiny and sparkly purple gems glistening under the bright lights -it was enough bling to send a girl into a trance!

My granddaughter, Thérèse, loved it, too!

Spending time inside an air-conditioned museum on a hot Texas day was fun.

Spending it with family was even better.

Welcomed Home

Six years ago my dad completed his journey here on earth.

In the early hours of that morning my mom sat with him when he breathed his last.  It was a peaceful – and blessed – death which seems strange to write but, really isn’t. He was at home, in no pain and had the opportunity to say goodbye to his family.

Later, waiting for the funeral home to arrive, I sat on my back patio.  Facing east, and the house my parents lived in, the sun began to rise and a soft breeze wafted across the yard.  I watched, and listened,  as the leaves gently swayed in the big pine tree and, I knew angels were moving through as they escorted my dad to Heaven.

It was a beautiful moment in the midst of a loss.

It was a quiet moment – before the glaring busyness of phone calls, texts and visitors began –  to reflect on all that was and all that could have been.

Just a couple of hours later a song about grief and death –  Welcome Home – by Michael W. Smith began playing….

What a lovely sound
Angels all around
Saying this is where you belong
Welcome home
Welcome home
Welcome home

Coincidence?  Not in my world.

It has been six years since the angels welcomed my dad and, still, when the breeze moves the tree ever so softly I think of the angels escorting him and I know that he is home and….

It is well with his soul.

 

 

Urban Amble

An urban amble on the Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas was an outing I immensely enjoyed.  A 3.5 mile trek stretching from SMU at the north end to the American Airlines Center on the south end the trail offered an abundance of opportunities to enjoy nature and city at the same time.

We saw planes, trains and automobiles amidst very tall skyscrapers and yet, plenty of trees offered lots of shade.  Several private apartment/townhome patios – that backed up to the trail -had water features or fountains and the gentle sound of trickling water helped us forget we were in the middle of Big D.  Runners, rollerbladers, dogs, birds, squirrels and (bike)riders were too numerous to count.  A patio restaurant known as the Katy Trail Ice House offered a scenic caboose and a refreshing variety of 50+ beers on tap.

It made for a good day.

 

 

Daily Prompt – Shallow

The grief I have felt over losing our dog, Ricki, has taken me by surprise and, taken me longer than I expected to get over.

It took me about 6 weeks but I finally washed her bedding, folded up her crate and put it away.

When memories pop-up on Facebook or Timehop the ache re-surfaces and I miss her all over again.

One particularly poignant moment occurred when all three of my men – meaning my husband and teenagers – went out of town at the same time.  I was getting into bed that first night and realized that Ricki wasn’t there to warn me if someone broke in during the night.  And, since her sidekick, Lucy, is deaf I knew she would sleep through any potential trouble.

Little things and moments still occur to remind me of the loss and, at those times, it surprises me how much I miss her sweet face.

When I saw today’s daily prompt – shallow – the first thing I thought of was Ricki playing in the water.  She loved to run straight into lakes or creeks, swim out a little then come back and play in the shallow water.

But, I can’t really discount the joy of running in shallow snow, either. Nothing like a little wintry weather in Texas to get us excited and hyped up.

Finally, just because this picture makes me laugh I’m including it.  In what turned out to be her last ‘photo shoot’ I got an image of what looks like Ricki smiling but, the grandkids looking a little picture-weary.

Tea in Jiading, China

A repost from July 2016:

Last year we spent two weeks in and around Jiading, China – a ‘suburb’ of Shanghai.  Our oldest son, Joshua, was living there with his wife, Emma, and we were fortunate enough to visit.  A rainy day had given us a break from sightseeing and when it stopped we ventured out.  What we stumbled onto ended up being one of my most satisfying and favorite memories.

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When the rain tapered off we ventured out for lunch and ended up exploring the streets and shops in the surrounding area.  Our group split up which left my son, Patrick, and I hanging out together.  JIading shoppingWe were wandering around, ambling in and out of the little shops when I spied a sign with a teapot.  Loving all things tea, and especially drinking tea in Asia, we went into the shop to see what was what. The shopkeeper seemed excited to see us and began talking.  Unfortunately, we had no idea what he was saying.  We wanted to ask him questions but were not able to communicate effectively with him.

Between using hand gestures – and speaking super slow (as if that would help) – we found no success asking if his teapots were for sale or just display.  We left the shop to find Joshua – who speaks fluent Mandarin-and, upon our return, discovered this gentleman was completely delightful and wanted nothing more than to share his tea while working on his painting and flute-playing.

One of the things I love about staying in less touristy areas is stumbling upon these amazing experiences that you can’t buy with money.  It had been a lazy, rainy day calling for a ponytail and no make-up.  No matter that I was ultra-casual, our host could have cared less.  Discovering this hidden gem and being treated to an absolutely wonderful encounter completely made my day and ended up being a highlight of the trip.

Jiading Tea

If you would like to see other posts from our China adventures check out these pieces:

Eyes of Asia

What’s In A Shanghai Name

Mass in Mandarin

Confucius Temple and Huilongtan Park

Looking Up

Life Around Jiading

 

 

 

 

 

Painted Churches of the Texas: The Tiny One

Leaving the central Texas area around Schulenburg – and not feeling tethered to a strict timeline – we were making our way toward Huntsville and enjoying the scenery.  We had visited all the churches on our list plus one more and were satisfied with our exploration of this small section of the Lone Star State.

All of a sudden we saw a teeny tiny building in the distance that looked like a small church.  As we flew by at 65 mph we saw the sign and, indeed, it was a church!

Hitting the brakes and making a U-turn we quickly made our way back to see what was what.  As the sign states, visitors were welcome to tour the grounds and the building.

 

On the altar was a notebook for prayer intentions along with a note which stated that Mass is held once a month.

St. Martins – It was the most charming stumbled-on find of the weekend.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to visit The Painted Churches of Texas- I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.

If you would like to see the other churches we visited that weekend I’ve included the links below:

St. John the Baptist in Ammansville and Queen of the Holy Rosary in Hostyn

St. Mary’s in Praha and Ascension of Our Lord in Moravia

St. Mary’s at High Hill

St. Cyril and Methodius in Dubina