Thursday, May 4, 2017

Time to Catch Up

Thank you for all the love and prayers yesterday, as I remembered the 6th anniversary of Chris going to Heaven. It was a bittersweet day. I had an impromptu gathering with some dear friends (following a doctor’s appointment) who are mighty prayer intercessors, among many other gifts, and they blessed me deeply with much prayer. I cried many tears, but I truly believe they were tears of healing, and I know God collected each one (Psalm 56:8).

I’m sorry I’ve been quieter than I would I have liked here lately. There’s just been a lot going on…not all bad…just a lot. Let me quickly catch you up:

  • You may or may not know we still had our house on the market in Asheville when Joel went Home to Heaven. Paying two mortgages is tough enough, but losing the primary income in our family and having to deal with that is almost more than my feeble mind can take. Prior to Joel entering the hospital, we had a few showings but nothing seriously promising and definitely no offers. Less than two weeks after Joel died, I received an offer! And…the house closed last week! I am finally down to just one house again. Praise God!
  • My foot saga has NOT ended, but it’s looking much more promising. Just to recap, I was scheduled for a minor foot surgery revision (of a surgery from seven years ago). It went fine…or so we thought. A week later, I had an emergency second surgery to try to stop the source of the bleeding, and a baseball sized blood clot was removed. Two more weeks passed, with very little healing taking place, and the wound splits wide open! Back in for surgery just over a day later. At that time (on March 31), a wound vac was installed. It was AMAZING! If you’re not familiar with wound vac therapy, look it up…it really is astounding. I say all that to say…it did it’s job and was removed last Thursday. Now, we’re waiting for the rest of the wound to close…hopefully not too much longer. Needless to say, three foot surgeries during the month of March while heavily grieving the loss of my precious Joel just a few weeks prior…too much…just too much!
  • Joel’s oldest two kiddos – Amy and Justin – and their spouses, Wes and Virginia, came down last weekend to spend days simply doing project after project in this house. I was beyond elated and overwhelmed with all they did to serve me, the kids, and their dad’s memory. I can’t tell you how proud Joel would have been to see those precious bonus children of mine work their tails off with a complete heart of service! What a joy to witness!
  • Oh…and probably one of the most gut-wrenching pieces…I had a wreck a few weeks ago. Totaled the car Joel drove most often. It was my fault. It could have been very, very ugly, but God’s protection was over both cars in a mighty way, and we all walked away with nothing more than a few aches and pains from the angled, head-on collision. Praise God for His mercy and grace! I’ve had to wrap up the details of that with the insurance company – fun (not!). Now, I have to face the ticket, and I’m praying it will be erased completely with no implication on my driving points or insurance rates. I’ve been told that’s very possible considering my squeaky clean driving record. Would you join me in praying for His mercy to abound in that very specific way please?
  • I start counseling today. Long overdue, I’m sure, but I’ve felt very “trapped” in my home due to my foot issue. I’m able to start doing a little bit more, but very small steps. This was at the top of the list. I need this, and I need this for one of our kiddos specifically. I’m praying this gal is a good match for one or both of us.

I’m sure there is much more I can share, but honestly…my widow brain is a bit foggy at the moment. It seems it doesn’t stop…the “stuff” to do, that is. That’s just life, in general, but it feels very revved up for me right now. I continue to ask God for a dose of His strength, as I feel extremely weak right now. He promises to be strong in my weakness. I’m counting on it!

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Six Years

This is a very difficult post for me to write. So difficult, in fact, I haven’t been able to write for an entire week, because I knew this one was coming up. Please pardon my blog absence.

How do you continue to grieve so deeply the one husband who just recently went Home to Heaven while remembering the events of six years ago today that led to the Homegoing of my other late husband? I. Honestly. Don’t. Know. Somehow…I’m doing it.

Before going any further, I need to offer a little disclaimer. Chris’ official date of death is May 4, because that’s when his body was recovered. However, due to the sequence of events, I know he took his last breath on this side of Heaven the evening of May 3. Therefore, in my heart…the anniversary of his Homegoing will always be May 3. 

The first year after losing Chris was very difficult. His death, by suicide, brought with it many multi-faceted emotions. I think I experienced the grief phase of anger for quite awhile, but God allowed me to move on and see Chris again through His eyes, and it simply allowed my love for him to grow that much stronger. Only by the grace and mercy of God and those He chose to walk alongside me, did I even survive that first year. As I reflect back…my faith was THE reason I was able to heal so completely and so quickly from Chris’ death.

Year two after losing Chris…something completely unexpected (and unwanted at first) caught me by surprise. I fell in love with another man, and Joel ended up asking me to marry him, and we did on August 25, 2012. I struggled with how to tell Chris’ family about Joel, but I’ll never forget how precious they were to me and to Joel. They said they prayed I would marry again, and they counted Joel as their son and brother. (I can hardly type through the tears at this point.) Joel had the privilege of “meeting Chris” through my stories about him, and I’ll forever cherish the day he took me up to the cemetery, and he prayed over our new relationship right beside Chris’ grave. Almost like bringing “closure” (of sorts) to one part of my life in the most direct way possible. Joel made that one of the most beautiful days of my life. Sounds crazy, but you would have to have been there to understand.

The third anniversary of Chris’ death brought back a lot of guilt for me. I was a newlywed (again) and very happy in my marriage to Joel. And yet…that first April and May that rolled around after my remarriage brought with it feelings like I should grieve Chris’ more deeply than I felt like grieving that year. Almost as if I didn’t, something must be wrong with me. I quickly learned that was nothing more than a lie from the enemy. Married again or not…many widows experience grief on the anniversary of their husbands’ deaths at various levels (and some non-existent). The next year could be an entirely different situation. That’s how grief works…

And…sure enough the fourth anniversary of Chris’ death was the hardest one since the first one. It was 2015, and we were in the thick of our adoption journey. Something Chris and I had discussed pursuing but never got to the point of actually beginning that journey. Joel and I had just gotten our “unofficial” referral for our children, and we knew our family would be growing again soon. It just made me very emotional, mainly from the standpoint of seeing how mightily God had saved me from the deep waters (of grief) that tried to once consume me and was in the process of restoring my life in a beautiful way through the lives of orphaned children.

The fifth anniversary…I feel it affected me the least up to that point. I was a new mom to three little feisty (yet adorable) Bulgarians plus still foster parenting a very active two-year-old little boy (we would adopt just a few short months later). My life was a crazy zoo! Therefore, while I’ll never forget Chris, especially on this anniversary of his death, 2016 allowed me to be not quite as consumed in the grief part of it, due to all the family changes we were experiencing.

That brings me to today…six years from the time Chris breathed his last on this earth. And…honestly…I’m in shock once again. Not the same type of shock as when I first learned he was gone. Just the shock of knowing I’ve been twice widowed in less than six years, by the age of forty-five, and I’m still here to tell about it.

My heart has been shattered too many times to count, but the two shatterings that did the most lifelong damage were the two that caused me to have to bury two husbands (prematurely in my selfish eyes). I will never be the same again. In some ways, I’m better. In other ways, I feel forever broken. Regardless…I still trust in the God who gave us all life and will be right there with those of us who call Him Savior when we take our last breath on earth and our first in Heaven. What a day that will be!

I deeply long to be reunited with so many people, but at the top of the list are Chris and Joel!

It is well with my soul! #HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A New Baby is Coming

SILLet me make this clear right from the start…NO, I’m not pregnant! What an announcement that would be though eh? Hee hee!

Actually, I wanted to bring you up to speed on the “goings-on” in my blog world (or lack thereof) it seems as of late. There’s a reason for that though…stick with me…

I’ve been praying and dreaming and talking to God for awhile about this Out of Deep Waters oasis. You see…it was a gift to me during my first year of widowhood, and it became quite a sanctuary, of sorts. I was able to share my innermost feelings as I journeyed openly and transparently along Grief Road.

It then became the place I shared the joy of God’s redemption and restoration in my life, as He united my path with Joel through marriage in 2012.

It’s also become a place where I share about those other things near and dear to my heart…orphans, missions, single moms, adoption, suicide, devotionals (in general). Occasionally, I’d throw in a DIY project or two and a giveaway and a 40-day consecutive blog journey. Over the years…it’s developed into…well, an inconsistent place of chaos, and that was NEVER my intent, and so it’s time to draw a line in the sand.

In my time with God and in talking with my husband and blogging friends, a new plan is evolving, and I want to go ahead and share it with you and give you a sneak peak.

There are three, distinct writing/blogging areas of my life:

Out of Deep Waters – Yep. This place. NO…it’s not going away. Not even close. I’m actually going to tighten things up here a bit. This will continue to be a place of devotion, ministry, life’s hard, life’s easy…but all through the lens of my walk with Christ. You’ll continue to see me write about grief, single parenting, adoption, suicide, orphans, devotionals, and anything else the Lord places upon my heart to write about.

I’m also working on compiling my writings from my Grief Journey (that definitive 12 months where I wrote very focused on widowhood…as I lived it) into a book format (and e-book format), as I continue to get more requests for that than anything else. It seems to me that maybe it’s a tool that could be helpful to other ladies walking a similar path. That’s still in the planning stages, but my initial goal is to have something more firm by late fall.

You can continue to book me for speaking engagements through this website, and I’m still open to customizing retreats and seminars for your group. See more HERE.

aNew Season Ministries – I’m also privileged to be one of the regular contributors for this fantastic ministry. It’s the umbrella ministry for A Widow’s Might (which I began writing for in November 2011). The ministry is growing by leaps and bounds, and God has placed such an anointing on what’s taking place over there. I’ll continue to be a small part of that ministry – through writing, participating in our upcoming conference, etc. Please continue to look for me there and send those special widow friends and your other girlfriends walking through a new season (post-addiction, post-divorce, remarriage following widowhood, etc.) over to aNew Season. They will be so blessed by this amazing group of women I am so thankful to minister alongside!

Lastly – for my new baby! Soaking in Life has been born! But we’re still in the “clean-the-baby-up” phase. It’s up and running, and there are a few posts there, but there is still SO much more to come in the next couple of weeks, as I flush out the details. Basically, this will be a different blogging platform for me. It’s because of the work that God has done in my life by rescuing me from those “deep waters” of pain, grief, abandonment, rejection, etc. that now allows me to live life fully, yet simply. That’s what Soaking in Life is all about. It’ll be the place I share those things in life I’ve discovered that really “crank my tractor” that I want to share with you…easy DIY projects, recipes, holiday decorating ideas, parenting tips, organization ideas, travel ideas, money-saving ideas and much more! Feel free to take a quick peek HERE to see what’s evolving but just know there’s so much more to come!

My prayer is that by firming up this plan of ministry (it’s ALL ministry)…it will create more organization in what God has called me to in the blogging world. Each piece of my life flows together, but different people connect at different points. And…some connect at zero points.  That’s all okay! It’s all for His Glory anyway!

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ~Colossians 3:23 (NLT)