Tuesday, August 2, 2011


For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

I followed my dogs one day as they bustled down the street, their noses as busy as their legs. A gentleman passes me most mornings and smiles each time. “I get such a kick out of your little dog,” he’ll say. Or, “That little one’s legs sure go fast to keep up with the big one.”

It makes me smile. See, Beamer is our labradoodle. We expected 60 pounds, but our Clifford dog grew to almost 100 pounds of pure love and sensitivity. If anyone sheds a tear, Beamer’s head will soon be in their lap. His big brown eyes fill with tenderness as he tries to comfort. But being so big made it challenging for Peter with his disease-induced unsteadiness. So we soon added our shih tzu Herbie. Rescued from the shelter, this 13 pound ball of fluff oozes energy, fun, and laughter as he chases his tail, bounds after toys he throws for himself, and scampers after squirrels. Herbie loves to snuggle, but is known for his love of licking and playfulness. Peter often described his dogs: Beamer is the one who helps me when I’m sick. Herbie is the one who plays with me and makes me laugh every day.

But that day, as we continued down the street after our encounter with the man, the contrast between the dogs triggered comments made at my conference the weekend before. My speaker evaluator counseled repeatedly to balance my message. She affirmed the great need for sharing my story, but cautioned to sprinkle it with lighter moments. The audience needed a chance to breathe and process the severe tragedy of our lives.

As I watched my two dogs, that’s what I saw – the balance: Beamer, my strong tender love and Herbie, my little burst of laughter and joy.

We found that with Peter as well. The disease often dominated our days. Yet God faithfully provided moments of fun, spontaneity and adventure to counter the hard, the sad, the serious.

As I reflected on the challenge to provide balance in the message I spoke or wrote, I felt God’s tug to a deeper challenge, a life challenge. Right now I often swing on a pendulum. I fly high with God’s presence, new adventures, or rich relationships. But then I spiral low with grief, the missing, the emptiness. God’s calling me to balance.

Two weeks ago I wrote about grief and how friends can offer support. Today I go back to that same passage in Ecclesiastes. Yes, it declares a time to mourn and a time to dance. But in every activity it lists in chapter 3, what it presents is balance. Every activity is balanced with its opposite. The very first verse states the bottom line. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Life must be balanced.

I challenge you, if you are like me, to not get stuck on one side of the pendulum. Both sides are needed, together.

If you are swinging high right now, intentionally pursue some serious moments. Don’t get so immersed in fun that your life becomes shallow. Pause to reflect, pray, or study. Connect with a hurting someone to help carry their pain. The contrast is necessary to keep your gratitude strong.

If you are swinging low right now, purpose to find some fun. Don’t get so overwhelmed that you can’t escape your grief. Retreat to a favorite place. Allow yourself to a little pampering. Immerse yourself in something beautiful – nature, a song, art. Watch a funny movie. Find something or someone to make you laugh, or at least smile. Let God breathe refreshment into your soul.

Let’s purpose to fully embrace every aspect that life presents. But ensure your pendulum grants you a full experience of life, not a one sided imbalance.


  1. Hi Juli -

    This is beautifully written and so true. I tend to swing back and forth also - as I suppose all grieving parents must.

    Thanks for writing, I always look forward to see what you have to say, and you always touch my heart!


  2. Beautiful!!! I saw this balance on Saturday night of She Speaks in your walk. Although you may not feel it is always there it does shine out, maybe without you knowing it, to encourage others like myself. Keep swinging, pumping those legs high to the sky and giggle with the One and Only!