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

Friday, August 11, 2017

I Guess the Cat’s Out of the Bag

nursing schoolI guess the cat’s out of the bag, so I might as well make it public…or at least the parts I choose to at this point. It’s kind of late in the week for blog posting (and late in the day for that matter), but who’s looking at stats anyway when you’re ready to share something (I find) pretty exciting!

I’m going back to school! Here’s the back story (in as few words as possible). When I graduated from high school (in 1990 – yikes!), I received a full, four-year scholarship to attend the University of North at Chapel Hill as long as I maintained good grades and my chosen course of study…Nursing. The first year I was there, I made some immature decisions that led me away from UNC, which ultimately let me away from a nursing degree. After attending several other two and four other colleges over many decades, I finally ended up with a degree that I did nothing with. I was a single mom at the time, and I simply wanted the piece of paper. Got it. Now what?

I resolved myself to be content with where I was, and I truly was content. I don’t think I ever felt “settled” in a career, but I felt content in my calling. God had given me various callings through the years, and my desire was to obey Him and Him alone, no matter how crazy the calling might first appear.

In the past few years, I’ve been rather restless, feeling like God had something else on the horizon. I’ve been praying for years that God would reveal His plan for me. Joel and I prayed together, and we both felt He was leading me (over time) to be home with my children. That would be my number one responsibility. I might possibly do to some work on the side or have a personal business that gave me the flexibility to set my own hours, but regardless, we both sensed God was calling me out of the workforce I was in, but we just weren’t yet convinced of the timing.

A few months after our last conversation about the direction God was calling me, I mentioned the nursing thing again to Joel. He was in full support of it, but he only asked that I get my foot fixed first, which, of course, made total sense. He knew I would need to be as close to 100% working in the health care field, and he wanted nothing less than that for me. Having been in the health care industry for over a decade, he brought much wisdom to our conversations and prayers, and I valued and respected his opinions immensely. Ultimately knowing I had his blessing was the very thing that fueled my heart and kept me moving in that direction.

Fast forward to February 12, 2017…the day my heart shattered when my husband left my side (in what I deemed as) prematurely and completely unexpected. Initially, I had no idea what we were going to do. Joel was the bread-winner in our home, my job was over 75 miles away. Thankfully, his life insurance was just enough to allow us to stay where we are for right now, which was very important to me, as I couldn’t fathom putting the children through another change. However, it wasn’t enough for me to sit back in a recliner and have pedicures everyday. (Not that I would personally do that anyway, but you get my point.) Thankfully, between the plethora of tangible support we’ve received from friends, family, and complete strangers, God has made it clear He’s our provider now, and He’s choosing many different platforms in which to provide. And yet…one of those platforms will eventually be through me.

He’s made it clear the time has come for me to go back to school and finally get that Nursing Degree I never got the first time around. I’ve begged Him to open wide the doors I’m to walk through that would indicate this is of no doubt from Him and to slam shut any door that leads to something He’s clearly asking me not to do or something that would impede His calling. So far, there have been many open doors. It’s still taking a lot of work to make it all come together, but that’s the key…it’s ALL coming together.

Today, my littlest wee one went me to my school. He felt like such a “big man on campus.” We had to go pick up my books as well as drop by the financial aid office. Everywhere we go, we sensed Joel’s presence with us. The financial aid officer shared her story of almost losing her 33-year-old to sepsis this past February (same time Joel was sick with). For whatever reason, God spared Benjamin (the name of her son) and called Joel on home to Heaven. Even so, meeting her was such a blessing, and Austyn was amazed as well.

Speaking of financial aid, I was approved for the maximum amount, so I have no expenses this academic year. At. All! Praise God!!! Apart from school, I know the next few years will be very lean and tight, but I cling to God for our provision.

I’ll keep you posted as time goes on, but the biggest (nursing-related) prayer now is that I’m actually selected to be in the Fall of 2018 Nursing class. I’m in the pre-nursing classification for now and am taking classes that will lighten my load. If the timing goes as planned, I’ll graduate as an RN – May, 2020. And, I’ll have a much better way to support my family for the long-term. To God be the Glory!

#HeIsStillGood

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mystery Solved

mystery solved

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

I think I finally solved the mystery of my recent emotional swings. I’ve been exceedingly emotional for several weeks. Crying bucketfuls of tears daily. The loss of my precious Joel seems to have slammed me really hard all of a sudden. Why now? It’s been nearly 6 months, and I thought my emotions would be a little more under control by now. After all, I’ve been through this widow journey before. And yet…I feel his loss deeper and deeper each day. Even typing this is causing my throat to tighten, knowing the tears are soon to follow. I know to expect the waves to overtake me some days, but this has been unending for weeks! However, I think I jut solved the mystery.

The shock of Joel’s death is finally over.

In a nutshell, I’ve been living in a state of disbelief since February 12, 2017. While I know my husband is gone, the shock of this agonizing tragedy has shielded my body from feeling the full effects of it. It’s a natural physiological mechanism God gave us to literally protect us from events that could potentially do severe damage to our bodies (even to the extreme of causing death, itself). In my case, shock has been a “friend” for quite awhile. I had a short stint with it following Chris’ death but got through it relatively quickly. This time, not so much. Believe it or not, I want my “friend” back (sort of).

I don’t want to feel all that I’m now feeling. Being on this side of it, I prefer “living in the dark”, so to speak. All the gut-wrenching, heart-tearing, “stuff” I’m now feeling is WORSE than living those first few days all over again. I had a shell of protection around me then. Now. It’s. Gone.

Then, there’s the realist in me. I really don’t want to live like this forever. I really don’t. I want God to heal my heart to the point I’m able to remember my love in such a way it brings more smiles than tears. I don’t want to cry in front of perfect strangers each time they say something (no matter how small) that might bring up a memory of Joel. I want to be able to drive by Exit 105 on Interstate 40 going East through Morganton, NC without feeling nauseous each time that tall white building looms into view where my husband took his last breath on this earth. I really DO want to be well. I’m just having quite a bit of difficulty getting to that point. Time is my friend, but it feels like it’s moving at a snail’s pace right now.

#HeIsStillGood