What a difference a week makes. Last Thursday, I was on the 35th floor of One World Trade in New York City, feeling on top of the world.

Thanks to my 12 year old daughter’s fundraising efforts, Jordan and I were invited to speak at the Susan G. Komen Partner Summit. She got a standing ovation before she even opened her mouth– and then another one after her 10 minute speech. That night, one of the corporate sponsors treated us to a mouthwatering steak at The Palm.

The next morning, I went on the shopping spree of a lifetime at Carlisle Etcetera. One of the executives showered me with kindness and a $1000 allowance to spend on a new outfit. Nearly the entire store was 75% off, so I ended up with a whole wardrobe. And let me tell you, this is nice stuff.

Jordan and I saw Wicked, Les Mis, Matilda and the Rockettes. We giggled throughout the week with our beloved friends from Fargo who crashed in our hotel room.

It was the best.

Then, in a taxi on the way back to the airport, I got a phone call.

My dad, who had a stroke a few weeks ago, has taken a turn for the worse. You should come soon, my Aunt Mary counseled.

So now, with the applause and laughter still faintly echoing in the back of my memory, I will get back on an airplane, this time bound for Wisconsin.

I have a one-way ticket. I’ll be back, but I don’t want to be rushed in this visit.

On my left hand is joy. Gratitude. Delight in all the ways God spoils me. On my right hand is grief. Sadness. A questioning of God’s plan.

But when I pray, my hands clasp together, the fingers intertwine. Pain and joy exist simultaneously. They are like cords that weave together to make us stronger, taller, more able.

We will never have pure happiness this side of Heaven, but we will also never have pure misery. The next time you are faced with a trial, faced with being on the low end of life, allow yourself to break open, crack just a little and feel that sadness. Then look around carefully, because you will be standing next to joy.