So I want people who stop by the blog to be encouraged and inspired and to share a laugh and a smile.
And I want to be real and forthright.
And sometimes, encouraged and inspired and smiling get blasted by real and forthright.
It's been a season, I tell ya.
My precious father-in-law was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer just at the end of February.
And by April 4th, he was gone.
His passing comes in the midst of several other heartbreaking situations within the scope of my ministry world in our church family and non-profit work. It's been a crazy teeter-totter of tending our own broken hearts while caring for the broken hearts of others.
And smack in the middle of all this, there has been all kinds of amazing progress and joy. The final production and marketing decisions for the book have been an exciting distraction for me with the Harper Collins/Zondervan team. An exceptional experience producing the Good Friday Service in Austin with Michael W. Smith. My husband's development of some exciting content coming together on personal productivity. Our oldest daughter Madison accepting a fantastic promotion within her company and moving to Chicago. The 2dance2dream program celebrating its inclusion at a national dance competition, in which the team brought home a major award. An adored friend with a featured role on Nashville, for whom I couldn't be more thrilled and proud.
Joy and heartache.
(Good Friday at the Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. Photo credit Shannon Lafayette.)
Accomplishment and loss.
Gratitude and unsettling questions.
Birthday parties and funerals.
Happy reunions but at the occasion of memorial services.
My pastor, Randy Phillips, was recently talking about an interview he had seen with Rick and Kay Warren about the two tracks in life that seem to run concurrently, a track of triumph and heights and a track of challenge and disappointment. These words were penned in Kay's devotional, Choose Joy, Because Happiness Isn't Enough:
We tend to think that life comes in hills and valleys. In reality, it’s much more like train tracks. Every day of your life, wonderful, good things happen that bring pleasure and contentment and beauty to you. At the exact same time, painful things happen to you or those you love that disappoint you, hurt you, and fill you with sorrow. These two tracks — both joy and sorrow — run parallel to each other every single moment of your life.Right now, it's enough to give me whiplash, cutting my head from side to side, trying to figure out where my heart is being broken and mended, numbed and expanded, as I hurtle down the tracks of life at what seems like breakneck speed.
That’s why, when you’re in the midst of an amazing experience, you have a nagging realization that it’s not perfect. And while you’re experiencing something painful, there’s the glorious realization that there is still beauty and loveliness to be found. They’re inseparable.
And that's real. And forthright.
And I'm not sure all that encouraging.
We're still on track. Even when it feels like the wrong side of the tracks. Even when we only want to travel the track upon which the sunshine seems to beam. It's life. It's what it encompasses, the beautiful and the brutal, the merry and the melancholic, the content and the confusing.
If you're there too, living in a dual track of sunshine and rain, it's okay. Sometimes it just runs like that. It's not all good and it's not all bad. Perhaps that's exactly the point.
So for now, in this season, I'm embracing both. We're going to mourn hard. We're going to celebrate hard. We're going to cry often. We're going to laugh with abandon.
We're not going to live on one side of the tracks or the other, with either of their perceived reputation.
We're just going to take it right down the middle. And pay attention to what we learn.