The news had filtered quickly throughout the small town of Mobile, AL. Hap Myers’ cancer was back with a vengeance and was terminal. A highly respected pillar of the community, Hap was a long-serving state senator known for his ethics and integrity, a brilliant engineer, and most of all, a deeply loved husband, father and grandfather.
Two years ago, I was joyfully writing blog posts telling Nicholas Sparks to move over; confidently proclaiming that my real-life love story trumped anything Sparks had ever penned.
I planned a wedding fit for a fairytale. Friends traveled hundreds of miles to be there in support. They had walked with me through the challenges of widowhood, prayed with me as I pursued my dreams and launched Leave Nothing Unsaid, and then rejoiced with me as I experienced what I thought was God’s abundant blessing as I met and married “Prince Charming.”
Imagine this. Your cellphone rings. It’s the President of your alma mater. She doesn’t waste any time with small talk. She clears her throat and tells you the reason for her call: Will you come to the aid of your University and be this year’s Graduation speaker? The originally scheduled big-name alum had to cancel at the last minute due to a family emergency. And she’s asking you to step in. Minor detail: Graduation is this coming weekend!
When I was handed a beautiful 5 pound, 13 ounce baby back in 1992, I took a very big gulp. The first thought that ran through my head was: “My life has changed forever.” The enormity of the responsibility hit me full force. Yes, I was thrilled. But I was also completely terrified.
Someone you love is knee-deep in the struggles and troubles of life. They might be wondering how they got into their current mess and if they'll ever get out. If God has forgotten them. And you are constantly wondering what you can say and do to help.
Certainly, you want to be a compassionate, trustworthy and loving listener. But don't forget about the gifts of humor and reframing to improve someone's perspective.
Consider sharing one of Ronald Reagan's favorite jokes:
Ask any mom. They’ll tell you that it’s absolutely WONDERFUL to feel appreciated, especially on Mother’s Day. Knowing that our children (and husband) are grateful for all that we do and sacrifice to enhance their lives is as satisfying as that first wonderful sip of hot coffee or tea in the morning. Aaaahhh!
If you’ve ever been to a Leave Nothing Unsaid workshop, heard me speak or used my workbook, you’ve heard me say that a letter of affirmation is not the place to ask for or extend forgiveness to the letter recipient.
How’s your life? Are you on the mountaintop right now? Everything going your way? Experiencing blessing upon blessing; enjoying great success and contentment? Have your prayers been answered more beautifully than you ever hoped or imagined? Or are you struggling? Feeling as though you are stuck in the valley, living with failures, shattered dreams and unanswered prayers?
Another Leave Nothing Unsaid Workshop was drawing to a close. And, once again, my heart was overflowing with joy. The evening’s event had been hosted by a leading Atlanta financial advisor. The guests had enjoyed a lovely dinner and were now putting the finishing touches on affirming letters to loved ones. Through the Leave Nothing Unsaid process, they’d learned an easy-to-repeat approach to writing words that would matter forever.
The positive energy in the room was palpable.
In the middle of a rainy night in Georgia, the horrible sound of cracking, splintering wood jolted me out of a deep sleep. Reflexively, I sat straight up in bed, screamed and then braced myself for the crushing impact of the falling tree that seemed to be headed straight toward our roof.
Thankfully, that impact never came.