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  • Writer's pictureDeena

Swing and a miss

After this week, I think I can easily state that I need to relinquish my title as "The Fun Planner" of our family.

I'm back at Panera friends before masks sneak up and catch my corner of the world once again.

Coming in I overheard two adorable blondes outside on the patio state how, "Some things just happen for a reason," and it made me smile.

Whispers of the Lord's purposes can be heard on every corner.

I enjoy what most likely will be the last of my free coffees from Panera and wonder why on earth I hadn't figured out to add caramel for 50 odd cents to my free decaf until today.

All around me is a buzz of words, and I am wondering what people across the room think of me.

Am I covering some breaking news story?

Or writing a novel?

Do I work in a stuffy office and come here for lunch or am I waiting to meet a client of some sort?

Whatever it is I am sure it's much more interesting than what I am really doing when I come to this little spot to type out all the feels.

Yesterday I planned a day to celebrate our oldest girl who is just about one of my favorite people on this whole planet.

She came off of a huge year and injury to a Summer with no staff at work that has just about done her in, only to make some big life decisions and head back to school.

It's been a lot for her, and a lot for this Momma to watch happen.

So a day of celebration was in order.

I saw a friend tackle this treetop obstacle course on instagram and knew our girl would love it.

Abi is crazy stubborn and brave and loves being tested physically.

She may be the only one of our tribe that likes to work out.

Yeah, she's strange like that.

So I decided to indulge her and get us all into the trees.

I breathed a few puffs of the inhaler and then headed to get us all harnessed up.

I have been on three zip line/obstacle courses and this one was the toughest by far.

Climbing the rope ladder to every series of obstacles was wearing on this 44 year old though I was pleased to see that I still wasn't afraid of heights.

As I walked through one obstacle to another I tried my best to ignore the fact that this course had a THREE HOUR time frame.


I can't think of ONE single solitary thing I would like to do for three straight hours except possibly napping.

This may explain the rest of this story.

Along the course you had the option to choose an "extreme" path or just the regular, "SO DIFFICULT YOU MAY NEVER DO THIS AGAIN" path.

I chose the latter while watching this daughter, months from full-fledged adulthood, get her feet into rings, her hands through ropes and almost make sweating look lovely while doing so.

I was making it, but it was H A R D.

It was hot and sweaty and it didn't help that each zip line led us landing backwards leaving mulch skid marks that said, "Royaltys were here" with our derrieres.

I WILL say that landing so many miles per hour backwards in mulch will make you laugh like you haven't laughed in a long time.

We had one series of torture- ah, I mean, um, obstacles left and I decided to go for the "Extreme" choice.

Note to self: You can really be dumb sometimes.

It's called the Tarzan swing, and you DO sound something like Tarzan when you realize how far you are falling and that is about all of Tarzan you can relate to in that moment.

I wish I could say that I jumped off the platform and sailed into the ginormous net wall with cat-like reflexes, but I did not.

I more or less, FELL off the platform and bounced off the net until I could finally grab it properly. If there IS a proper way to grab a huge scratchy, thick rope wall.

I may have seen the whole of my life flash before my eyes, but that could have just been fear causing me to hallucinate.

The world may never know.

What I did know was that though I was feet away from my courageous more Tarzan-like daughter my body had decided to strike.

I would climb a wee bit only to fall to the side or miss a foot hold and with each mistake my body fought with me harder.

The worst possible moment to do so, a wave of exhaustion mixed with nausea washed over me.

The hours climbing and scaling had ticked by and my strength was completely gone.

To my left there was my encouraging daughter JUST out of reach, behind me my husband waaaaaay in the distance waiting to take his turn on the swing of death, and underneath me my, " too young to coach a 44 year old woman off of a rope wall disaster" guide named Cameron.

Sorry Cameron.

Nausea and exhaustion are a bad mix way up in the air in the most uncomfortable harness known to mankind.

This one was calling and that one was telling me something else and then in a wonderful turn of events the situation got even worser.

(I love that this site doesn't even correct my grammar anymore. They're like, "We give up. Use "worser." You do you..)

There I was out of any possible physical strength and my emotions were upset that they hadn't been invited to the party.

The whole mess of me that I was saving to deal with in a lovely Chicago hotel when we dropped this daughter off at school in two weeks,

The good that the Lord is doing and has done, the stress, the feels of a Summer of Camps and crazy busy, the stress, the new and school and the like,


The whole of what I was saving to sort out over cake and coffee from the last few months with the sweetest man on earth got the memo that THIS was the appointed time to show up.

And I sobbed.

I ugly cried right there before God and mosquitos and Cameron and everyone.

I wept for exhaustion in that moment, for exhaustion from the last few months and for exhaustion to come.

I remember looking way off and in a whisper of a cry asking my dear husband to come to me.

You know, up there in a terrible harness and clinging to a scratchy rope wall.

But he couldn't help me.

Even Cameron couldn't get me down.

The saying, "The only way is through," I am sure came from this silly Tree adventure.

There was NO way to get me down.

I thought for suresies I would leave more than tears and sweat on that rope by the time we figured out how to get me up to the platform.

I had to attach some carabiner to some rope and my arms and hands just shook doing so.

It's a blur how they hoisted me up the the platform that my daughter was on, but miracles do still happen.

Once I sat free from the strain of the harness ropes and from the pressure of holding on with what might I had left, my daughter came beside and I wept in her shoulder even harder to be out of the scare than to be in the middle of it.

This girl, always too grown for her years, wiped my face, held my hair to blow on my neck, puffed my shirt to get me a breeze and just kept telling me that I was alright.

I don't recall ever being in a situation where I wept this hard into the shoulder of one of my kids.

The comforted had become my dearest comforter.

This one who's name we chose before the wedding ever took place, was holding me when I couldn't hold it together.

Because I was such a sight, a medic had to come assess me.

Now another guide had joined Cameron below us, and all eyes were on this woman in hysterics.

This medic must have been Tarzan himself for how quickly he got to me.

He was quiet and kind and began to ask me all the questions.

Embarrassment had finally sunk in and I wanted to ask him if I could just go ahead and die right there on that platform.

I began to profusely apologize.

For not being strong enough for the ropes,

For not saving more strength earlier,

For making him come, and probably for not paying my Kohl's card on time last year around Christmas time.

And THIS is burned in my mind.

Hanging my head, I could only clearly see one person. This guide on the ground.

She sat on a rock, looked up to me and said only one thing.

With a gentle sweet smile she shook her head side to side and said, "You don't need to explain anything."

The grace that flooded my heart cannot be typed right now.

She was right.

I didn't need to explain.

I was me, a tired Mom.

A good Mom, albeit out of shape.

I was tired, and that was okay.

This medic then told me that he was so glad to be there to help me, and in a rare twist of honesty told me that he had studied to become an EMT but anxiety kept him from finishing, so the medical training he learned he still uses to be a help when he can.

A piece of this fella's heart that I cannot believe he shared with a perfect stranger.

A stranger who was anxious herself about not being able to finish the course.

I zip lined down to watch my daughter and my husband finish the last few obstacles strong.

While I cooled off and drank some water I had time alone (well minus the ten mosquitos who love O+ blood) to just let all that had taken place sink in.

Still scaling the trees was my oldest daughter.

I used to tease her about her bed side manner. This one who loves all things medical.

She is hard working and smart, the one to call when you need to, but I never saw her as a kind encourager until I needed her on that platform.

She knew what to do, how to lovingly do it, and how to let someone lean on her, in that moment when it felt like the weight of the world was on these shoulders.

Her kind touch, her encouraging soft words were a balm to this overheated Mom in the middle of the woods.

They took their last zip line down while I thanked God for these older kids of mine.

For the way they reached back to help Mom and Dad for a Summer.

In ministry, at home, they showed themselves to be our greatest encouragers.

Just before meeting the sweaty twosome again I saw the medic who brought me water. I thanked him again and told him I was sorry not to get his name.

He told me again he was glad to help and then said, "My name is Isaac."

I smiled.

Of course it is, I thought.

Momma, listen to this weepy woman sitting in Panera with cold coffee today.

You are doing a wonderful job.

Cry over stress, cry over feelings of inadequacy. Cry over kids leaving for another round of school or because ministry is plum hard. Cry over schooling, over new houses and even over dinner gone awry.

Cry over "what if my kids don't," and cry over "what if my kids do."

Cry until you can't even cry anymore because you are exhausted and know that it's okay.

You don't have to explain a thing.

The Lord will himself let you just cry until you have the strength to finish.

He will send you the encouragement to get through.

It may be a different course than you had planned.

But that's okay because that's YOUR course.

And know in the piles of mess that the lovely that comes out days, months and years from now is worth the exhaustion of wanting to do the right thing today.

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