Here’s To The Moments

Goodness, I love the beach! I saw this photo of Kim Lance’s and it took me right back to my childhood.

My family used to go to the beach once a year, and for me, it was almost better than Christmas. We had all these traditions that went along with our beach trip: same general area of the beach, same types of beach towels and sand buckets/shovels.

We took the same kind of food, and went to the same ice cream place. We had the same routine each day: up early, ate breakfast, played on the beach, ate lunch, took a nap, played on the beach, ate dinner, and collapsed. It was so great!

The best part of the whole thing was seeing my dad relax. When I was young, my dad was a high-powered, driven, chemical engineer. He worked a lot. He had to take several business trips over the years. But when he was at the beach, he was a different person.

Dad played with us. He didn’t work on anything. He laughed more, and it was wonderful to see him smile so much.

When I grew up, I often wondered why life couldn’t have been more like that all the time. Not that it was bad. It was just not that relaxed. Sometimes I long for those days. There have been many times when I’ve said, “I want to go to the beach, but I want to go when I was a kid.”

I know we usually remember the good when looking back, but honestly, it really was that good. Sure, I want to go to the beach when I was a kid because I didn’t have to pack anything, cook anything, or be responsible for anything! All I had to do was play.

But that’s not really why I would love to go back there. It was the joy of being all together with nothing pulling us away from each other. It was some concentrated, lovely family time.

Even now, the memory of my dad’s carefree laugh makes me cry grateful tears. To have heard it once would have been enough, and I heard it many times.

I know last week, I wrote about not living in the past or the future, but in the now. And here I am writing about the past. The past is not bad; it’s just not now and we can’t try to live in it. But the past does help make us who we are. And if we think about it, those memories can help turn “now” into a lovely moment.

I miss my dad, and I miss my daughter. But they will never be farther away than a moment when I remember them and the time we had together.

Here’s to the sweet moments of the past that give light and color to today and keep our hearts full of gratitude for every kindness from the Lord.

Phyllis Keels

The Workshop

pen

Recently I attended a writer’s workshop designed for mothers who have lost children. I knew it would be difficult. Honestly, I was dreading it a little bit. I am so glad I went.

It was great to hear how “veteran” mothers and writers process their grief through writing. Some of these women have been dealing with loss for thirty years. The pain really doesn’t ever go away.

Even though I knew this, that day I saw it. But for me, I also saw what I’ve been seeing my whole life: my Heavenly Father will never let me go.

Through the writing exercises, we were able to see what is in our hearts. That can be a pretty scary thing when you’re dealing with grief, but I knew I was in a safe environment. I knew these women were all “sisters” with me in grief.

So, I didn’t worry about what to write, or how it would sound. I just let come up what came up.

I am so grateful for the hope the Lord gave me – what He showed me, what was already inside me. I want to share some of my responses to the exercises. My prayer is that they bless you right where you are.

We were asked to write about a safe place (mine is of a real memory from my childhood)

The cool, wet sand shifted beneath my tiny feet as I prepared to take the leap. My daddy’s huge footprint lay what seemed yards away in front of me, even though he was walking at his normal pace.

I could make it. I knew it. I jumped with all my might, and landed just inside his heel print. As I looked up, I saw my daddy, his head turned toward me, with a smile on his face. I knew by his expression that he appreciated what I had done.

It was my first leap to walk in the way of my beloved father, who was and will always be to me a loving picture of my Heavenly Father – the Heavenly Father who is always watching over me.

We were asked to write what is inside us:

A waterfall. Sometimes it flows in an even, unbroken curtain. Sometimes it swells with the sudden rains of a storm and it crashes over the rocks underneath.

Always I hear the sounds of peace and turmoil, each battling for prominence. Ever it comforts and challenges me – dwell in peace, be content, but never complacent.

We were asked to write what we heard during the reading of a poem. It was this line in the poem that struck me, “Blessed are those who stitch up the hurts of this world…until it is springtime.”

I heard you, Lord. I heard you bless my desire to help anyone else who has this pain. For you know there is life for me in that desire – real life, real joy, real fulfillment.

I heard you whisper that you love me, and that not alone will I go ahead. You’ll bring those into my path for me to stitch back together using the threads of your lovingkindness.

In that way you will stitch me back together – one piece at a time, until I am whole, and one day I too will rest in your eternal spring.

We were asked to make an acrostic of our child’s name:

Joyful

Unrelenting and stubborn

Living each day to the full

Innocent, and purely Julie

Even in death

Phyllis Keels