Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My First Easter Without Him

As I vividly remember from my first widow journey, those immediate twelve months following the passing of a loved one is full of “firsts”. The first Christmas without him, the first Valentine’s Day, anniversary, Thanksgiving, etc. Sunday was my first Easter without my beloved Joel. It was, let’s just say…an interesting day. I’ll try to put it into words, but honestly…I’m not sure I totally can.

It started out a little rough on Saturday night with me setting out the Easter baskets for the kids. I was so upset, as they were the puniest Easter baskets I’d ever put together. Had it not been for a friend who sent the kids some little gifts in the mail, specifically for their baskets, they would have been even punier. It was virtually impossible for me to get out and shop while trying to recover from three foot surgeries. I went out Friday to one store for less than 30 minutes after getting my stitches out and grabbed what I could. The pain was horrendous in that short amount of time.

Then the Easter clothes. What Easter clothes? I would have loved to doll them up for the “official” first outfit of spring that typically coincides with Easter. They would have loved their new clothes. Instead, I dug in their closet to try to find something that would work and shoes that would still fit (that was the bigger dilemma).

I also planned to do an Easter egg hunt for the kids on Saturday before my adult daughter had to leave to go back to school, but I had her busy doing so many other things while she was home, and I never got around to asking her to fill the eggs with some sort of goody, let alone hide them in preparation for the hunt. I’m simply not ambulatory enough to do that right now.

A friend picked up the egg coloring kits for me, because I was determined to at least do that with the children. Guest what? That didn’t happen either, because I forgot to get the eggs to boil, and by the time I remembered…it was too late.

So, Easter hadn’t even arrived yet, and I was already feeling quite down over the fact I felt like a holiday mom “failure” – puny baskets, no new Easter outfits, no egg coloring, and no egg hunt.

Then comes Sunday…

Much like THE Resurrection Day over 2000 years ago, God’s grace rained down on me!

The kids woke up and found the baskets and were elated with what the “Easter bunny” brought them. They acted like every little thing they pulled out of their baskets was the best thing ever. Thank you God for your amazing grace!

We went to High Point (about an hour and a half away) to spend the holiday with my in-laws. We had a wonderful church service, followed by a delicious lunch, and then…my mother-in-law planned an Easter egg hunt for the kids!!! Another act of God’s grace. They still got to hunt eggs and had a blast!

Now…for the interesting part…I struggled emotionally all day. I didn’t want to have a meltdown and ruin everybody’s holiday. So, I worked really hard at controlling my emotions. In doing so, I essentially felt numb virtually all day. No tears. For that, I was thankful, but it was simply odd. I felt like I simply “floated” through the day. I went through the motions of the day, but that was just it. I couldn’t “feel”. It was a very hard day, and yet…my emotions were in “lockdown” in a way.

My mother-in-law gave me a HUGE gift by offering to keep the children for three days of their spring break (they’ll be home later today). So, when it was time for me to leave for the day to head home, I left alone. And when straight to the cemetery. My MIL told me the marker arrived the week before, and I wanted to see it, and I hadn’t been to the cemetery since the day we buried Joel’s earthly body. It was long-overdue for me, especially considering I was there every single day after my last husband died (but, Joel isn’t buried in the same town in which I live now).

I drove towards the cemetery, expecting to have a meltdown when I got there and saw his beautiful marker. I was so pleased to see it, however. It looked just as beautiful as I had hoped. I took lots of pictures…of his marker (our marker)…the raised area where his casket was buried but the ground is still settling, and the area beside him where mine will one day go.

His daddy is buried right above him, and his mother has a plot there too. It’s a beautiful cemetery with a precious pond just below Joel’s spot. Before going any further…I know Joel’s spirit is already with the Lord…it happened the moment he took his final breath in this life and entered the next. The cemetery is mostly for those of us left behind, but I also want to have a place set aside for him that brings me comfort, and this place does.

Surprisingly…the “numbness” continued. No tears. I talked a little, but no tears! I felt there was a load of them ready to unleash, but I didn’t know when. For whatever reason, it wasn’t then. I stayed for a little while, and then got back in my car and headed back home.

After I finally settled in for the night…ready to read, listen to worship and praise music, elevate my leg all over again…I felt only one thing “nothingness”. I hated that feeling. I was in a perfect place to grave, and I felt an unleashing of grief tears was just upon me. And…I felt they would come soon, especially since I was along. But they didn’t. I simply went to bed. And a new day began, but it was MUCH, MUCH different. Stay tuned…

 

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear Me in Ten Years…

I “met” Kara through a co-worker that used to attend the same church where Kara and her family were at during that season of their life. I’ve followed her amazing cancer journey and can tell you her writing is some of the most refreshing I’ve read in a long time. Kara has started a new series, entitled Tuesday Grace Letters. She’s invited other bloggers to participate, and I was excited to join in this journey. Grace letters…what a beautiful gift! If you click the Tuesday Grace Letters button at the bottom of this post, it will take you to Kara’s blog where you can see her grace letter in addition to links to other participating bloggers’ letters. I trust this series blesses you to read as much as it’s blessed me to participate in as well.

This first week’s assignment…write a letter to myself in 10 years and include as many pictures of my today as possible. Without further ado…

Dear 52-year-old me,

Wow! Fifty-two-years-old…that seems SO far away and yet 32 seemed like it was just yesterday.

Before I can think ahead, I need to take a very quick glance back. Remember your thirties Leah. Don’t dwell there. Those were the years of HARD…actually the years of IMPOSSIBLE. Those were the days when you couldn’t believe that life had dealt you that particular hand of cards.

You were divorced AND widowed within that decade. Neither of those life events did you ever see coming. And yet…when they did…you thought you would never survive that kind of pain. But, you did TWICE! Each event brought its own version of pain, but you not only survived…you thrived dear one! But…never forget how!

It was Him…your first Love! He is the only reason you survived. He was the One that made you and hand-crafted you into the woman that you’re becoming. It was Abba who carried you…your loving Daddy who has been with you through each step of life’s “impossibilities”. It was Jehovah Jireh who has met and continues to meet all your needs. It was El Roi, the God who saw you then and caught every tear…who sees you now (in 2024) and is guiding your daily steps…and sees you even a decade from now in 2034 and is preparing you for His incredible plans!

You know first-hand how God took a lonely widow, single parent of an equally lonely young girl and grew your family into what it is now.

Joel_Leah

Amy is now 34 – a beautiful wife to Wes and incredible mother to her babies! Remember her in 2014 as she prepared for Micah’s arrival? We couldn’t wait to see grandbaby number two that year!

Amy

 

Justin is 32 – an incredible man after your own heart. Ten years ago, he was faithfully serving our country in the Air Force and trying to figure out his “next steps”. You’ve enjoyed watching that process but know God has even more incredible things prepared in the days ahead for him.

Justin

Caleb is 28.  It seems so hard to believe that you met him when he was 16 years old. Remember when he got his driver’s license for the first time? Wow…those days flew by so quickly. Caleb’s work ethic hasn’t changed, however. He’s just as motivated now as he was playing basketball in 2014 and working those long hours at Brahms!

Caleb

Anna, my dear, you are now 27. You are the one that traveled the years the most with me. I stand amazed at how God has used your own life’s tragedies and turned them into beautiful nuggets of gold for His glory! Your compassion for the least of these has only grown further through the years.

Anna

Aaron – I can’t believe you are already 23. You were such a young innocent “young man in the making” when I first laid eyes on you. You were always so loving towards me when I entered your family, and I’ll never forget that. Even now, you are still very “others focused” and tenderhearted to those that God puts in your path.

Aaron

My other children…I know there are more…writing this in 2014, I don’t know the specifics, but I know God has already planted you in my heart. Maybe you’ll be the ones we’ve fostered or adopted. Perhaps you’ll be children we’ve simply had the pleasure of sharing life in some other capacity, but God knows you by name, and by 2024 I will too.

My precious prince Joel! We’ve traveled these years together well. We’ve picked each other up when we’ve fallen…we’ve wiped each other’s tears…we’ve laughed at our goofiness…and smiled when the kids have filled our hearts with joy. We’ve watched God do things that seemed impossible, and we are more in love today than the day we first said those three words to each other. If the Lord should allow…I look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries together. You will always be…my prince! I love you sweetheart!

Joel

Leah, take in every single breath that God gives you and exhale love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness to those He places in your circle of influence. May you exhibit gratitude for these 52 years that He’s blessed you with. May you anticipate even greater blessings in the remaining years of your earthly life. And…may you continue to look forward to, with hope-filled anticipation and excitement, to the day He calls you home!

Mundane Faithfulness