Finding the New Normal


It has been almost 3 months since you made your journey, Pa. Some days it seems impossible to think you are not still in Burnwell, Ky tending your garden and going about your daily tasks. I’m sure Heaven’s surroundings are still new and adventurous since time is irrelevant there, but our days seem to trudge on without you. Everyone misses you terribly and are still trying to find a new sense of “normal.” Honestly, we know that there is no such thing, but we still try to count our days and move forward. Time is fleeting and we know we will see you again soon, but the huge hole in our hearts is still all too new.

There are days that are easier than others as I have come to realize in losing my own parents. Then, there are the days that seem unbearable and you just go through the motions of everyday living. We all miss you. Each one of us grieve in our own way, and the length of it will be different for each of the family left here without you. Our pain is real and fresh, but the comfort in knowing that your pain is over helps us in our process of grief.

I think the hardest in my household have become the daily phone calls. Our phone still audibly says “call from James Earl” I just haven’t been able to change it yet. The fact that you always tried to prank Hannah on the phone by saying “who is this? Hannah who?” still makes me smile. She misses you just as much as I had always dreaded. She still considers you her best friend that always understood her. We have our moments, not all sad. We sometimes find ourselves giggling over what a great time you are having in Heaven, imagining the yelping you did passing through those pearly gates, finishing your race with courage.

We will continue to miss everything about you. You were always good to me, personally. I will miss helping you with jobs down here, mainly because you never fussed at me. You laughed and said, “we make a pretty good team, Dee” it always made me laugh too. You were the only one that gave me the nickname “Dee” I miss that too. To say that any one of your children, grandchildren or daughter in-laws miss you more than the other would be unjustified. We all miss you and grieve for you in our own way. I will say of all the memories that I have? A simple phone call on a day that I needed it most, came from you.

I had gotten up that morning with a broken spirit that I couldn’t shake. It was one of those days that I missed my parents. I totally felt like an orphan that day. Lost. I felt like someone drifting with no anchor. Out of the blue, you called. I thought you had called to chat with Hannah, but you said you actually called to talk to me. You said that you had the overwhelming unction to call me because I had been on your mind all morning. You asked me if I was okay. Of course I lied and said I was fine. I would later call you and confess that only God knew how much I needed the encouragement. Thank you for being obedient in that. It will always be my most heartfelt memory.

We are all trying to find the “New Normal” some days it goes better than others, but we will continue to try. Our lives will never be the same. We will always feel the void. More often than not, we will continue to mourn our loss, but eventually our good memories will override the sadness. Until then, we will do the best we can, hold on to the good stuff and try to figure it out. Mainly, I hope we learn. Learn how to encourage one another, show compassion when possible, and overlook the things that are not so important. While our hearts remain broken, we also know that one day the pieces will be put back together. We are looking forward to that day that only Heaven can provide.

We are off to riding lessons, Hannah says that riding is different now because  she has no doubt that you are able to see her ride. She finds joy in that thought. Although I have no idea if you can? It’s the little things in our “New Normal” that offers a little glimpse of comfort.

Philippians 4:7   And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Silence Under the Big Top



My brother and I make the joke about the “Clowns” in our heads…or, our never-ending thought processing. I never realized how much we had this in common until the last couple of years. Genetics. No, I am not obsessed with clowns, and I am definitely not afraid of them, sometimes they just work overtime. For the last seven days, I did the unthinkable – I set out to have “silence” under the big top. The clowns were told to take some time off….no bearded ladies, elephants or men in tights on the flying trapeze. Silence Under the Big Top.  This ringmaster would be on vacation for an entire seven days.  As soon as we leave the driveway, I sense that the clowns have the painted frowns. I am not sad, but excited to leave them behind to fend for themselves.

Eventually the noises and busy hustling of the clowns fade into the background. I am sure they are not going anywhere. They will be here when I return. It is only a two-hour ride. I have always adored the North Carolina tourism slogan – NC, where a million miles away, is just down the road. I’m on my way…a million miles away. Okay it is only about 100 but it will still be paradise.  I tweet and post a few times on the way. Excitement is an understatement. I have always loved going to the ocean… always.

This year has been a little rough in our little corner of the world. Life changing, heart breaking and forever altering circumstances. Life happens, you can’t stop it. It would be our first real vacation in more than a few years. So, yeah, it was sort of important to us as a family. This was also kinda the scary part, I was so depending on this respite? I was afraid it would never come to pass. I am thankful that our plans went forward.


I think when we crossed over onto Topsail Island, I became small. I became insignificant. My worries and frustrations did the same. I was beginning to feel more free than I had in several months. The clowns were silent. Sssssh……..


My view for the next six days…..I would continue to feel small standing in the presence of God’s vast creation. I am insignificant, yet I feel a part of everything about it. I don’t just breathe the salt air, I inhale it with my eyes closed. I have a lot of silencing to do in the next several days. I am reassured that I was right….the sea will always soothe the soul.

I know that I drove my social media friends crazy, I posted pictures frequently. You would have thought I was a child seeing the ocean for the first time. I’m sure most of them understood how needed this vacation was for me. If not, I’m sure you were rolling your eyes at my posts. LOL – and that’s okay too.


Every morning I had my coffee on the balcony. I had some great reflection time and much-needed conversations with God. How could you not talk to the creator in front of His awesome masterpiece.  Little by little, every morning I found new wind in my sails, grace renewed for another day. The clowns know very little about this part of my being. Sound like I was on the verge of losing my sanity? I wasn’t, I was just worn, weary and needing to have a few things restored. He was faithful in all I asked.

I never felt loneliness here, although I had a few moments alone. Every day I found something to smile about. I was intentional in my thoughts. I focused on the good things I have in my life, from past to present and hopeful for more great things on the horizon (great views of that too) I often asked God to restore my wings, enable me to soar in the next chapters of my life, whatever that is going to include. Insignificant I remain, incapable of doing anything totally on my own. I like to think I am a strong person, but I am more often not. Maybe that’s where the clowns come in.. they paint on their smiles and distract.

I think one of the moments that will always be in the forefront is the morning I was determined to watch the sunrise. It would require me leaving early by myself without waking everyone up. I realized the view would be hidden by the other buildings, so I would have to walk down the strand of beach to witness it. I will never regret that walk. Ever.


As a lover of the sky? This was the ultimate photo for me. I was overwhelmed. Through tear filled eyes I had to regroup. So many emotions overtook my thoughts. Many of them only significant to me. Restoration that I would not leave without. It was here that I embraced the silence. No clowns intruding my thoughts, trying to un-weave the webs of the world. I was mostly thankful for seeing another day, making another memorable day with my loved ones. I felt the wind blowing against my sails, gaining my second wind. It was just what I needed. I am thankful that He is faithful in all things. Always.