Mad Hatter: “In the gardens of memory, in the palace of dreams, that is where you and I will meet.”
Alice: “But a dream isn’t reality.”
Mad Hatter: “Who’s to say which is which?”
Alice Through the Looking Glass
“We meet everyday in the gardens of my memories.”
“I enjoy our time together among the sunflowers.”
“I watched a documentary the other night. I felt as if I was watching our, your, story.”
“Will you share?”
“Of course, but first remember your words, ‘It’s like everyone is seeing how I’ve been feeling this entire time on the inside of my body cause now its affecting the outside of my body. I’ve been falling to pieces for years inside and now everyone can see what I’ve always been feeling. It sucks.’ Remember?”
“In this documentary, a man was describing his story of childhood trauma and finally getting the help he needed. He finally found a doctor who stopped labeling him. The doctor told him, “You are this way because of something that happened to you. You have a story that’s not been diagnosed.” He was told the labels didn’t make sense, trauma victims blame themselves, and the arch enemy, the fiend is the truth, but your reality is not allowed to be seen and to be known, and that is the true trauma. I cried because he was describing you. So many memories flooded back. Memories of desperately searching for someone, anyone, who would stop labeling you, who would see you, listen to you, help you heal. Then the words that it’s not mental illness but mental injury…”
“No, not really. I thought there was time, I thought we’d have time…”
“It’s okay now, momma.”
“Yes and no. A friend said to me, “God answered your prayer to heal her, just not in the way you wanted.” A hug, your hug… just one hug… you always said I gave the best hugs, but really it was you who gave the best hugs. I miss your hugs most of all because they were so complete, so full of unconditional love.”
“We shall hug again…”
“I know, my precious daughter. You weren’t mentally ill, your were mentally injured. Doctors who prescribed drugs only hurt you more because those drugs didn’t help you, they hurt you more by altering your mind. I wish I could go back… I would tell that first doctor to go to hell. I’m sorry I trusted him, a doctor who didn’t care about you in a system that cared even less. I’m so sorry.”
“I know, how could I know? It doesn’t really help though when I’m trapped in the garden of memories.”
“I sent you a picture with the words, “God is restoring everything the enemy has stolen!” I wrote, “You know those days where you think God forgot you and you can feel the pain crushing you and then something catches your eye cause it’s not in the ordinary of your things? I read this the other day during one of those moments and I think it’s great. 🙂 I hope it helps you too.” God has restored to me everything the enemy stole because I’m whole now. It’s His promise to you as well. I love you momma.”
“I love you to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond.”
“I love you more.”
“I love you the most.”
“I loved you first.”
“You are missed, my darling. You were never a burden, by the way. A thousand bad days with you are better than a perfect day without you.”
Each will be like a refuge from the wind And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land. Isaiah 32:3
“Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own scheme, Everybody needs someone beside ’em. Shinin’ like a lighthouse from the sea.” Song: “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATH (Link below)
Coming out of the store a few days ago, I ran into a man I know. He asked me how I am. I made the mistake of actually telling him how I am.
“Where’s the Yvonne I know?”
“She was buried with her daughter. You asked me how I am. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.”
It’s common – or used to be standard fare – for me to answer the “How are you” question with “I’m okay.” But you want to know the raw truth? I’m not okay. I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay. Normal was obliterated on December 24, 2019 at approximately 2p.m. when I discovered my daughter. What I remember is kneeling beside her, praying to hear her heartbeat, holding her hand, kissing her cheek. I didn’t want to leave her. I was there in the beginning, and I didn’t want to leave her at the end. Everything ceased at that moment. I couldn’t tell you how many people came in the shed; I couldn’t tell you what was said. No birds chirping, no wind through the trees, not a sound pierced the tunnel I was in; I don’t know how much time ticked by as I knelt beside her. At that moment, it was just her and me.
Since then many thoughts have barreled through my mind… questions… Did I do enough; did I love enough; did I search enough; did she know how loved she is; did I give enough… so many questions with no answers. For those who know me, my most oft questions begin with “Why.” If I’m told something can’t be done, I respond, “Why?” If someone is angry, “Why?” stumbles out. Why has that been my go to? For me, I always believed if I knew the why, I would know the root cause and therefore, could find a solution, an answer. I ask “why” no more.
Then there came reflection… each person, no matter who they are, wants to feel love, be loved. When we fail to understand that, we lose ourselves to a world filled with ugliness and evil. We find ourselves struggling with life’s storm, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis… We search for a shelter, a lighthouse to guide us back to safety. We search for someone… anyone who knows… yet we so often fail to reach out because we feel no one knows, no one cares, everyone is too busy… Are you that person? Know someone like that? Do you assume that friend, that son or daughter or spouse, that coworker is strong enough because you’ve always seen them as such? That cashier, that person who cut you off while driving; that rival; that person who let their dog poop in your yard; that person sitting in church five rows from you; that person sitting in the theater three seats from you munching loudly on popcorn: that teenager clothed all in black: do you assume they’re not worthy because of the outward actions or appearances? Could they just be jerks and self-absorbed? Absolutely, but that probability doesn’t negate the deeper question: do you ever dive under the surface to learn more? Do you ever consider coming along beside the person to walk the journey of life?
My favorite scene from a movie – my absolute favorite – comes from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” The scene finds Sam crawling to his friend Frodo. The pair had been through fire, battles, floods, near-death experiences; the friends were hungry, bone-weary tired. They were so close to where they needed to be, yet it seemed farther away than it ever had. In this scene, after Sam crawls to his friend, Frodo; he takes him in his arms. He begins speaking to him, “Do you remember the shire Mr. Frodo?” Sam then describes how it will be spring soon; he reminds his friend of all the beauty spring produces in the shire. “Do you remember the taste of strawberries,” he asks. “Yes, Sam.” He continues and tells Sam that there is no veil between him and the ring of fire. Frodo is exhausted to the point where he doesn’t think he can make it, or that he can accomplish the task thrust upon him. Frodo is terrified. “Then let us be rid of it, once and for all,” begins Sam with firm resolve. And there it is, the best line ever to be written or spoken: “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you! Come on!” Sam then picks up Frodo, puts him over his shoulder and carries his friend, Frodo, the rest of the way up that desolate mountain to accomplish the task at hand. One step at a time, he carries his friend.
That scene is my favorite because it is so raw and filled with love… Sam knew he couldn’t do what had been assigned to Frodo, but he knew he could be his shelter at that moment and carry him.
We all need a shelter, a friend, a light to shine so we can find our way in the darkness. First and foremost, that always includes Christ, but in Him we are given a task to help each other, to love each other, to come along beside each other and say, “I can’t carry this for you, but I can carry you.”
The most treasured words my Shelby ever said to me were, “Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for always loving me.” I knew I couldn’t carry her pain, her suffering, but I could come along beside her, take her hand, and when necessary, carry her. Now she is held by the only one who loves her more: her Savior, Christ Jesus.
But have I done the same for others? Have I rejected a person before diving deeper; have I dismissed someone God put in my path; have I done enough to be a shelter for someone else? Please don’t comment on the questions I’ve asked myself, because the questions are for me to answer. Instead, ask yourself the questions.
One of the many thoughts that have blown through my mind as a hurricane wind blowing through an old oak is what now do I do? My precious Shelby always felt so alone, so isolated, as if no one understood, no one knew. Maybe if I had been more open during our journey to family, friends, anyone, she might not have felt this way. I don’t know, because as much as I want to, I can’t go back. I can’t change what was; I can only move forward and pray that I have the strength to be a shelter to all who God puts in my path, and when the opportunity arises, I pray I have the strength to say, “I can’t carry your burden, but I can carry you.”
Who has God put in your path? Who do you know who needs shelter? Who do you know who needs to be carried?
All of us need shelter from time to time. If you can’t find that shelter, message me, I will be that shelter with God’s strength.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14.
Twenty years ago… on this day 20 years ago, I was introduced to the most amazing human being. When you meet a person for the first time, you may not like the person and you can choose to walk away from the person. However, when God declares, “This is your child,” the choice is far different. Let’s be honest, sometimes you don’t like your children. You may love them, but you don’t like them. Or maybe, they aren’t the child you wished for but there they are nonetheless. On March 9, 2000, God introduced me to my second child.
Thursday afternoon, after a hard labor, I met my son: 11 pounds, 4 ounces. Being from a family of all girls – five sisters, two nieces and my own girl, this boy was a first. His sister, Shelby, emphatically told me nine months earlier upon learning she would have a sibling, “God is going to give me a brother.” This sweet daughter of mine believed God would give her a brother. I told her the baby would be a girl because well, that’s just the way it was in our family. “No, God is going to give me a brother.” Such faith… so I bet her a dollar the baby would be a girl. When I called her from the hospital, my first words to her were, “I owe you a dollar.” Immediately she knew what that meant and squealed with the delight of having known all along. Such faith…
From that moment, my life was immeasurably blessed with this incredible human being. Moments of sheer joy he would bring me; the way he would make me wonder in amazement; the way he would light up my face with a laugh; the way he would make me wonder at his imagination that was always on full display; the way he would try me sometimes with his stubbornness… he was and continues to be a source of joy and pride. But most of all, I am amazed at the purity that is his heart.
The love he has for his Shelby, never saying a bad word against her, always loving her unconditionally.
The way his incredibly awesome dyslexic mind works… one day driving to an appointment – one of many – when he was a teenager, after the Parkland shooting, he said to me in the car, “This story came across my newsfeed.” First, I was just totally impressed with the fact he had a news feed, and then actually read the article. He told me the story of teenagers who were protesting guns, describing a poster one girl held that read, “Kids shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.” With a tinge of sadness in his voice, he said, “They shouldn’t be afraid to go to school but they are and not because of guns, but because of bullies.” I was blown away. “This kid gets it,” I thought.
Sitting in his car seat in the back seat, saying, “Play country.” The cue to put on some George Strait. Watching him move his head and hands to the beat to “Blue Clear Sky” always brought me a smile.
When he stood up in the restaurant and started dancing when “Jump” by Van Halen came over the speaker… not caring who saw him, he just had to dance.
The way he would get back up whenever he fell, finding a way to get to where he wanted to be.
The way he took my hand to walk down the aisle with him to accept Christ as his Savior.
The way he would pray for Shelby and peace.
The way he would let me hold his hand, even now, he doesn’t pull his hand away.
The way he can remember stats while I’m still trying to learn positions.
The way he looks up at the night sky with wonder and amazement, even now.
The way he sends me photos of a North Carolina sunset, reminding me of God’s beauty.
The way he honors his future wife by desiring to wait for her while the world tells him differently.
The way he and Shelby would play, talk, watch movies together, creating a bond stronger than steel.
The way he seeks to do the right thing, and when he blows it, tries to make amends.
That smile that graces his face… that smile that brings such happiness in seeing it.
While life downright sucks sometimes, this human being who God blessed to give to me as my son, has brought more joy, more laughter, more silly moments, more pride than I deserve. So on this day, I am forever grateful for Shelby’s faith, for God’s goodness, and for the son he gave to me. His name is Garren Daniel Harper. Garren for his Papa who had only girls; Daniel to stand before the fire; Harper for his Dad. This young man is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, and such a blessing as declared in God’s word.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3
Happy Birthday, my son. I love you bigger than the sky.