Friday, January 19, 2018

The Difficult Firsts

difficult firsts

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Since the time of my last blogging season, I’ve “survived” many of the difficult firsts of widowhood…Joel’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. And…one more to go this weekend with my birthday on Sunday.

Undoubtedly, Christmas was THE most difficult of all the firsts. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions of celebrating the Lord’s birth without my husband by my side. Since we just moved to our new town a little over a year ago, we only had one Christmas together in this house. We had dreams of what we would do differently this year that our move last year prevented…hanging lights outside, Joel building me a tiered stand to hold my Christmas village (he already had the design concept planned out), sending out Christmas cards again (my favorite thing to do), etc. Those things didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, I didn’t display my village at all. That seems minor in the grand scheme of things, but it was just another painful reminder of our loss.

I spent Christmas morning at home with my children and then traveled to my mother-in-law’s house for Christmas dinner and an afternoon of gift exchanging and fun. Joel’s siblings and their families were also present along with his son, Justin, and his sweet wife, Virginia. We celebrated the engagement of Joel’s niece as well! I choked back the emotion of spending such a precious day with people I love without my man with us. Regardless, the tears came, as we all knew the day wasn’t the same without him.

My upcoming birthday is the last of the “firsts” until the anniversary of Joel’s death arrives in a few weeks. Birthdays were always so difficult for me as a child. Because mine came so soon after Christmas, it was often overlooked by my parents. It wasn’t intentional…it just was what it was. Interestingly enough, my own daughter was born two days after my birthday, and one of my adopted sons has the same birthday as my daughter. Needless to say, I’ve tried to be very intentional since my daughter’s birth, nearly 21 years ago, to not make her birthday feel like a challenge to celebrate just following Christmas. I’ve wanted it to feel special, because it was something I missed out on for so long.

That’s where Joel came in. He wanted to make up for years I lost, so to speak. He wanted my January birthday to feel as if it came in the middle of July, rather than in the hustle and bustle of the “post-Christmas blues”. He went out of his way to make me feel special. My previous late husband, Chris, did the same thing. Obviously, the loss of both men in my life will be very apparent this weekend. Now, don’t get me wrong…birthdays tend to lose their “flare” the older I get, and it sounds so selfish to even point out the obvious loss this will bring. Just keeping it real.

But God…

In His goodness, God knew my heart would be hurting, and He had a plan drawn up long before Joel ever joined his heavenly home. I’ll be spending time on Monday morning with a few precious women I’ve met since Joel’s death. These ladies have ignited the fire in my soul again more times than I can count. They are the fibers holding me together, through prayer – worship – a kind word – a special note, on my darkest days. And, I can’t imagine a more fitting way to give God praise for blessing me with another year of life, especially when it seemed this past year did everything it could to try to “take me out”. He hasn’t forgotten me. I praise Him for His continued faithfulness!

#HeIsStillGood

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I Lost My Voice for Nearly Five Months

I lost my voice

Photo by Josh Adamski on Unsplash

I lost my voice for nearly five months. No…not my physical voice. My writing “voice”. In my ten years of blogging, I’ve never taken an intentional or unintentional blogging break that lasted this long. Whatever the reason, the break was needed.

Even so, I’ve missed being here. I’ve missed communicating with you all. I’ve missed sharing the ups and downs of this precious life I’ve been given. Last year was nothing short of tragic…from nearly the beginning to the very end. I lost my husband in February…my dad in December. I had five surgeries (only one was planned). I totaled a car. I banged up another one. I contracted pneumonia…twice. My air conditioner went out, my basement wiring is messed up, and several other minor things. My nephew was diagnosed with an aggressive, rare terminal illness. I’m still in shock over that one. And yet…

God is still so very good.

Through Joel’s death, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know an entirely new community of people. I’ve made some very dear friends I probably never would have otherwise. I’ve seen the love of Christ poured out on my children and me in quantities which can’t be measured. Friends of old and some I’ve just met have cared for us deeply, when we’ve needed it most. People have given me the opportunity to “step away” from my solo parenting duties several times so I could be refreshed and restored. My gratitude for all we’ve been given cannot be expressed in words. We can never repay all that has been done for us over the last (nearly) twelve months.

God is still so very good.

So, why the silence? Why haven’t I been able to share on this platform in nearly five months? Truthfully…I don’t know. Nothing significant silenced me. I have so much in my heart I’ve wanted to share, but the words just wouldn’t come in a way that would make sense in a blog post. I know the Holy Spirit has been doing a new work in me, and I feel certain He silenced me while He’s worked. But why? That I don’t know. But this I do know…

God is sill so very good.

I feel my voice is returning. I feel my heart is ready to release some of those “messages” that have been tucked away for safekeeping. I feel I’m ready to return to this community. Will you join me again? Thank you for your patience during my silence.

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

200 Days

200 DaysMy love has been with Jesus for 200 days. 200 very long days for me. A blink of an eye for Joel. Some may feel I’m crazy for counting the days. I just can’t help it. For me, it keeps it in perspective. It also reminds me how far I’ve come on this grief journey (or in some cases how far short I’ve fallen).

I’m reminded quite often of something I learned the first time around. Grief isn’t linear. The Type A, check-the-box-and-call-it-done person that I am always had a hard time with that. I wanted to go through the steps of grief and call them done. However, they sometimes found their way back to me, and I couldn’t seem to grasp why when I had already finished the “anger” phase or the “denial” phase. And then I learned…

GRIEF IS NOT LINEAR!

It’s actually quite messy. It’s not circular, it’s not triangular, it’s not any type of recognizable shape or pattern. It’s just a messy blob!

Right now, I’m in the thick of the “messy blob”. I’ve had several very dark weeks. It didn’t help that my anniversary fell in that time period and that Joel’s birthday is coming up as well. Lots of firsts right here in this season of the year. But, being completely transparent, I’ve been depressed.

Compared to what much of the world lives daily, I have so much to be thankful for.

Compared to what my friends over in Houston are living in right now, I have so much to be thankful for.

Compared to the fact I had the privilege of being loved so deeply by two men now with Jesus, when other women are still waiting for their Prince Charming, I have so much to be thankful for.

But…yes…here comes the but…

I’m still hurting daily for what I have lost, regardless of what I still have.

I’m still aching for the man that loved me with all that he had.

I’m still yearning to have that “picture perfect” two-parent family life that doesn’t exist for me anymore.

I’m still frequently exhausted due to my solo parenting duties.

I’m still overwhelmed by the various things that need to be taken care of in and out of the house that Joel would have been on top of, but I can’t do it by myself along with everything else.

I still long for Christ to return and soon!!!

I just had the privilege today of sitting down with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen since then. She drove a little over an hour to bring us dinner tonight…just because she could, and she knew it would be a blessing. And. It. Is. I am so thankful for all that God has been doing to protect us and provide for us, and this is just the tip of the iceberg for what we’ve experienced lately. I truly am most grateful. I’ve seen God with fresh eyes over these 200 days, and I know I would have missed out on seeing His glory in the ways I have had Joel still been with me. But, God also knows, I wish I had both. Thankfully, for eternity…I will!

#HeIsStillGood

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This is not how it was supposed to be!!!

Happy Anniversary in Heaven!

I’ve been a bit silent on here lately. Other than beginning my new class schedule (which is a bit rigorous), I have no really good reason. I’ve just been in a funk. Mainly because…I know it’s coming. Another monumental FIRST! Friday (tomorrow) would have been our fifth wedding anniversary. I knew it was coming, but the knowledge of it collided with me head-on today.

THIS IS NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!!!! THIS IS JUST NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!

I’m simply struggling with words today. I don’t want tomorrow to come. I just want to skip right over it. And yet…I still plan to “visit” him at the cemetery and probably shed a bucketful of tears while there.

If I can be perfectly transparent (what’s stopping me now, right?)…I feel short-changed. I know I am blessed to have been loved as deeply as Joel loved me. I know some men and women never have that opportunity even once in a lifetime, so I should be thankful that I had that opportunity in my marriage to Joel and in my marriage to Chris. In both scenarios, however, I feel I’ve been so rigidly short-changed.

I just keep saying THIS IS NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE!!! I ache for you Joel. I miss you terribly. I can’t believe we’re not celebrating this day together like we planned. As you walk with Jesus today, please ask Him to be ever near (not that He needs that reminder). It just makes me feel good knowing that you’re walking with Our Savior on a daily basis. Oh how I long for that day! It’s coming soon…I know!

“God I give You all I can today
These scattered ashes that I hid away
I lay them all at Your feet
From the corners of my deepest shame
The empty places where I’ve worn Your name
Show me the love I say I believe
Oh Help me to lay it down
Oh Lord I lay it down”

#HeIsStillGood

Monday, August 14, 2017

The 6th Anniversary of His Death has Come and Gone

6 monthsNobody probably realized it but me, but Joel has now been in Heaven 6 months and 3 days. I deliberately haven’t always blogged on the “monthly annivesary” like I did when Chris died. They were different men. We had a different marriage. Their deaths were different. And…I’m in a different place with four LITTLE responsiblities other than one adolescent daughter to care for. The day never passes without my knowing it, but sometimes I just have no words to share. It still hurts too terribly bad.

In less than a couple hours, I’ll head to the school for my first pre-nursing class – Anatomy and Physiology. I can hear the groans already. But, believe it or not, I’m excited about it! I love that kind of stuff. However, I’m emotionally very fragile, and I’m praying that turns around quickly. I’m excited about this day, and yet, I’m leaving about four loads of laundry to do, bills to pay, a house to clean, and a million other even more important things than that. I’m praying God settles my nerves and plants me in the exact class I’m supposed to be in (especially since I had to have some strings pulled to get me into this class since it filled on the first day registration opened for students, and I wasn’t able to register until day two). God has provided so much already. I see His hand in this in ways I can’t even come up with words to convey. But, I’m excited…just nervous.

On top of that, Benjamin and Josiah start recreational soccer tonight. I feel like everything has been on hold since February. Josiah missed all of spring soccer, and he played last year, and loved it! Daddy wasn’t his official coach, but coached him continuously anyway. He loved that time with Joel. I told Benjamin he could start this year, and Austyn will probably start next year. We’re working on getting Katerina into a therapeutic horse program. Life…doesn’t stop!

I’m trying to move forward and let life feel as normal as possible, but that doesn’t mean I’m not simply stuck sometimes. I personally feel stuck right now. I’m trying to find a GriefShare class to attend, but nothing has lined up with location or schedule yet, but I feel I need it desperately. It truly was the impetus to complete healing during my previous grief journey.

I need to go for now, but I just wanted to remind you of a couple things;

  1. My book, Rescued and Restored is still available on Amazon! If you or anyone you know could benefit from reading it, I would be so grateful!
  2. I love the ornaments that have been arriving for Joel’s tree! What a blessing! For more information, click HERE!

#HeIsStillGood