I just got hit in the face with a dragonfly. Or was it by a dragonfly? Not sure.

It was a normal morning bike ride, freewheeling myself down my favorite slope, wind whirling around me in a happy, happy, happy moment.

When – BAM! – I get hit in the face. Splat between helmet and cheek, on the right side just above where the chinstrap buckles in place. A blur of iridescent purpley blue and then a crinkly, snapping sound like a plastic baseball against a plastic bat.

The thing didn’t knock me off my bike, though it was the size of a dinner plate. But it surprised me for sure.

Funny, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected in most spots in life. The late night call when someone is in a pickle. The delayed flight. The dog throw-up in the same spot on the new rug when I’d just replaced the old rug.

After MUCH practice with the messier side of life, I’ve learned to purse my lips and clamp my tongue in place when such stuff happens. It does little good to wail on and on about the inevitable ugh-y-ness of such moments.


To be honest, I’m now somewhat of an expert in the unexpected:

Pregnancy: my daughter, as a teen.

Addiction: my son, for nearly a decade of his life.

Loss: my parents (somewhat expected) and then my third grandchild (a complete shock).

Illness: my dearest friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a treasured soul was diagnosed with HIV-AIDS (really?), and my husband needed for four surgeries in five months for a stubborn infection in his leg.

Choices: the garden of vines and flowers galloping up my daughter’s leg. Who said she could get a tattoo?

There have been good surprises, too (lest I be all Natalie Negative here).

• My daughter – and son – as state-ranked swimmers and the chance to WOOT till my lungs burst.
• My husband, reading and re-reading my latest book and telling me he loved it – he loves me – with tears in his eyes. Precious.
• My grandson’s arrival into our lives, and the resulting reshaping of how I define joy.

The random, the variant, the not-planned – yep, I’ve become uber-accustomed to its arrival in my days and nights. I stand prepared in most moments to identify, accept, and eventually embrace what it brings. All of it. Because all of it shapes all of me and who I am.

I get the beauty of broken, and in fact, that some parts of life are only beautiful when they have been broken.

Oh, the utter freedom and joy that erupts when I admit that I come from a broken family (my original family split apart by divorce and alcohol).

And then to go further: to admit that despite my best “give it all to Jesus” efforts, and really working hard at mothering, I still come from a broken family. There’s no such thing as a perfect family. And this realization frees me to embrace the beauty of mine, just as it is – with the unexpected and all.

Today, my family is gooey-in-the-middle. I put the toothpick in and it comes out wet. Admittedly, at first, I was disappointed to discover this reality. I wanted my family – and me – done. For the timer to go off and bing! – all to be well.

I’m coming to see things differently, and I lift my nose to the delightful aroma of souls in the making! Of people in various stages of life who are becoming who they were always intended to be! And me – bent into humility enough to see the beauty in their rising.

Then comes the moment where I get hit in the face with a dragonfly. And I’m surprised. On my supposed-to-be-free moment of pedaling downhill, I am surprised by such an interruption. Still.

Guess I’m not done learning. If I were done – bing! – I’d be dead.