We were standing in the center of the canoe/kayak office. A crowd of laughing, chatting people moved around us, heading through the open garage doors to the big, yellow bus waiting to take us to our drop off point.
It was the 4th of July and we had decided to get outdoors and try our family hand at canoeing. It was another first for us, several of the kids had already mentioned the "what if" thought that always run through our minds when we gear up for what should be a fun activity -- but for us brings back memories of packing up for another fun summer day.
As we packed the car that morning, drove into the beat up parking lot, lush greenery waving around us in the sunshine and warm breeze, I could hear the echoes of the day we did all of the same... and left hours later in dazed disbelief, our lives shattered and forever changed by the loss of our daddy/husband.
We had already prayed, covering our fears in truth, but, knowing we had done this back then too, and yet... This experience is something I think most people who have gone through a trauma have to handle and walk through on varying levels.
In our family, we don't let it stop us from living our lives and trying new things, we just know it is the "elephant in the room". We have lots of discussion about choosing to thrive, not letting fear control us, and who we are created to be in Christ.
So this day, we were all doing ok, until we watched the "obligatory safety video" where they show you extreme situations, talk about the worst happenings, tell you about the courses and trainings you should have under your belt, and generally scare the crap out of you before saying "go have fun"!
Being an adult, I was able to recognize the difference, but, my 9yr old was reliving a terrifying moment in her young lifetime. When her dad saved her at the cost of his life. She never really speaks about what those moments were like for her, but, we have dealt with nightmares, emotional outbursts, and unexplainable physical ailments in the years after he died.
My focus has always been on affirming her and the fact that it wasn't her fault.
I felt helpless standing there, rubbing her arm and fighting my own tears, but, inside I felt like stamping my foot and shouting, "This isn't fair! She shouldn't have to go through this!"
We loaded onto the bus, I was able to get my emotions under control, and as we bumped down the road, wind blowing through the windows, we talked - reminding her of who she is, how she is created and equipped for this moment, how she can walk in power through Christ. He wants her to live her life abundantly and with power - not controlled by fear. My sister assured her that if she tried and just couldn't handle it we could pull out and walk back to the bus.
After praying together for peace, safety, and confidence, my girl wiped her face and went forth in a grace that amazed me!
I was so impressed by her strength. She chose to walk in this path and never looked back. She confidently got into the boat with her uncle and cousin and waved at me with a somewhat hesitant smile as we pushed off from shore.
But, that wasn't all she did. She didn't just sit quietly and enjoy the ride. She jumped into the experience - laughing and playing with her crazy uncle and cousin rocking the boat to the point of MY breath leaving, singing along to the music cranking from their portable speaker, swimming during our lunch break, generally being a water baby as she swam along side the canoe later on, enjoyed riding on the front of the canoe, tried her hand at paddling, switched boats enroute, played with her cousins and just had a BLAST facing this fear and forgetting about it!! #nolongerslaves