Monday, March 6, 2017

You Not Die Mommy?

Those words from my little three-year-old blonde bundle pierced my heart this morning, “You not die Mommy?”

I carried him into preschool as those very words came from his lips. I stopped in my tracks.

I’ve had some very difficult drop-offs with Austyn lately at school. He loves going there, and this didn’t happen until after Joel went to Heaven. I’ve left that place many a time with tears streaming down my face, begging God to let me just take him back home. But, God hasn’t revealed a way for that to happen yet. In the meantime, we trudged through the difficult drop off mornings.

This morning…those words illuminated my little man’s fear and pain. He might only be three-years-old, but he gets it. Loss, that is. He may not remember his birth parents, since we’ve been part of his life since he was six months old, but he remembers his adoptive daddy…the one who sang him to sleep most nights, who changed his diapers, who taught him to build things with Play-Doh, and who wrestled with him on the floor most evenings. He also remembers Daddy went to Heaven to live with Jesus 22 days ago.

And now…he wants to know if Mommy is leaving him too. It took everything in me to hold my composure when he asked me that question this morning. But, the tears are pouring now as I type these words.

The truth…I didn’t know how to answer him. If I told him the truth in that moment, would I increase his fear of losing his mommy? If I lied to him, will he one day not trust the promises I make him?

Holy Spirit…please give me the words to speak in this situation…now!

Austyn…mommy plans to be here to pick you up this afternoon. Mommy will not die until God says it’s time for me to go to Heaven, but I believe He wants me to be your Mommy for quite awhile. So, put a smile on that face, have a great day, and look forward to mommy coming to get you this afternoon!

That’s it friends…I had nothing else to offer in that moment. But, he seemed content with that response, and it was the best drop off we’ve had in the last 22 days.

Abba – please let my children know you intimately as Daddy right now, as I am simply not enough.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Last Words We Shared

I’ll never forget the last conversation I had with my precious Joel. Those words will both forever bless me and haunt me.

The conversation was beside his bed in the ICU. He drew me in close. We both knew the ventilator would be inserted soon, and we didn’t know how long it would be before we’d be able to exchange precious words again (little did I know then…those would be the last words we’d ever share this side of eternity).

He told me a few housekeeping type things that would be helpful in case he were in the hospital for a few days…little did we know. Then, he started to pray…with tears streaming down his face. I won’t go into the details of his prayer, because that will remain forever between the two of us. However…some of the things he included…(1) asking God to spare his life to be available to me to help parent our newest adopted children, (2) asking for forgiveness of all his sins, and (3) asking God to be ever by my side.

Soon after he prayed with me, one of the surgeons walked into the room – a man he knew from working with him in the same hospital system. I’ll never forget the words spoken between the two of them:

Joel: “Doctor…please do all that you can to save my life. We have four little children back home, in addition to our older children. I need to be here for them and for Leah.”

The doctor: “Hey buddy…keep your chin up. It’ll be okay.”

Very few words were spoken between us after that. The ventilator was inserted. Tubes were run all over his body. Medications were administered as often as they could.

And…a little over twelve hours later…my beloved was gone.

This picture was taken looking into the very room where my husband and I last prayed together and where his spirit departed for his Heavenly home. The exact time of this photo was shortly before the failed attempt was made to move him to a larger hospital facility. They were getting him ready, but he coded and was no longer a candidate for transport.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Never Thanked You Enough

Joel – you were one of the hardest working men I knew. Not just for our family but in each area of our lives. You took care of virtually everything, especially after I started making the commute to/from Asheville for work in these most recent of months. While I might have made the meal plans and went to the grocery store…you did it all…laundry – starting supper – cleaning up dishes – helping with baths – bedtime routines – paying the bills – handling the outdoor yard work – taking out the trash – dealing with sibling fights – helping with homework (okay…maybe I still did that too) – picking up meds at the pharmacy for the kids – taking the children to their doctor appointments – negotiating car insurance rates whenever it was time to renew…the list goes on. It makes it kind of look like I never did anything anything doesn’t it? But, we just switched roles, in many of these areas. You once handled the 75-mile one-way commute, and I did the majority of the other chores.

Even so…I never thank you enough.

When you carried little Austyn up the stairs to bed at night after he had fallen asleep in my arms, because you wanted to protect my knee…I never thanked you enough.

When you daily went to the grocery store and started a relationship with the butcher so that you could be “in the know” with the timing of meat markdowns in an effort to keep our large family fed well…I never thanked you enough.

When you taught the children to make their beds and enforced it each morning (even on the crazy mornings) to show them good habits, discipline, and consistency…I never thanked you enough.

When you took time to write long messages in cards you gave me (or our children)…messages that were very thought through and from the heart…I never thanked you enough.

When you accepted my own biological daughter as your own when we married…never thinking for one second that she didn’t come from you too…I never thanked you enough.

When we agreed to foster 3-8 year-olds, primarily, and I begged you to take on a little 6-month-old desperate for a placement, and he’s now our 3-year-old SON…I never thanked you enough.

When I asked if you were up for the challenge of biking the Virginia Creeper Trail, zip-lining, and horseback riding ALL in the SAME DAY – you didn’t bat an eye, and….I never thanked you enough.

For what it’s worth now…thank you for EVERYTHING my sweet love! We lived so much life together in our few short years as husband and wife. But that short time has given me a lifetime of beautiful memories and an expanded beautiful family…yours, mine, and ours. THANK YOU! I’ll never stop loving you. Until we meet again…

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rescued and Restored – GIVEAWAY TIME!

BookCoverImage_ThumbThanks so all who have shown such amazing support for my first book, Rescued and Restored, through your precious comments, purchases of the Kindle and/or paperback formats and, of course, by reading it! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My deepest prayer throughout this entire project has been – even through my publishing and writing mistakes, through my marketing fiascos, through my simple-minded efforts – may God be glorified! It’s only through Him I even have a story to share in the first place!

As a thank you for sharing in this journey with me, I have three signed copies of Rescued and Restored to give away! If you’ve already purchased a copy for yourself, perhaps you’ll consider entering the giveaway for a friend or to keep on your bookshelf until God leads you to the person He plans for you to share it with. He’s good like that, ya know!

To enter, simple fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The first entry category is mandatory, all others are optional but give you greater chances of winning. The mandatory entry simply asks you to leave a comment right here on this post, answering the following question: How long have you known about Leah’s unexpected journey through widowhood? That’s it! Just click on the “Leave a Comment” button in blue at the bottom of this post to leave your response. Then proceed to enter the remaining giveaway categories should you choose to do so. This is a 48-hour only giveaway! It starts at 10 pm ET on Wednesday, July 6 and ends at 10 pm ET on Friday, July 8. I’ll randomly select the winner this weekend and announce on Monday, July 11!

I can’t wait to see who ends up with these three giveaway copies! Many blessings to each of you!

Just an FYI…if you are ever interested in having me speak at an event you’re hosting, please contact me! For more information on the topics I most commonly speak on, click HERE. To inquire about booking me for an event, fill out this form HERE.

Thanks friends and readers!

Update: The giveaway has ended, and all three winners have been notified. Thank you for your support of Rescued and Restored!

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Answer…a Repost!

In anticipation of the 5-year anniversary of my late husband’s death just around the corner, I continue to reflect on that journey of widowhood. Here’s another repost from that season of my life. I stand in awe at how far God has restored my life from those dark days. 

The Answer

One thing I’ve strived to do throughout this process is be as transparent as I feel safe in doing, because I want people to know what this feels like for three main reasons:

(1) I want other women who have found themselves walking Grief Road as a widow to know they’re not alone…that God allows us to comfort each other with the comfort He also has given us. We are at varying phases of the journey, and our journeys are certainly not the same. Each Grief Road is like a snowflake, in my opinion. No two are the same, yet there are enough similarities that they are relatable.

(2) In the case someone reading this might have ever contemplated suicide, I pray the pain and the “after effects” of making such a final decision stay clearly in the front of their mind, causing that to never take place. I want hurting people to read my words and see the pain it causes those left behind and maybe…just maybe…it will be enough to say “it’s not worth it”.

(3) I pray those in the body of Christ who haven’t ever been affected by death first-hand, or in a long time, learns how badly the population of widows needs you. The Lord, in His Word, is very clear about how much He cares for orphans and widows and the mandate He gives in caring for them. I am the first to admit, I was much happier to jump on the orphan advocacy “train” before colliding with the widow train head on. But, God never differentiated between the two by saying one was more important to care for than the other. We’ve made that differentiation on our own. I hate to admit…I was in that group. So, I pray my posts help to awaken a need…a deep need in the church. I have been blessed to be cared for by several in my church body quite well, but I know how easy it is to dismiss widows, in general.

Even saying all of that, there is still much I don’t share. It’s too personal. It’s too painful. I don’t believe it will edify anybody if I write it on this format. And…so, I don’t. The snippets of this journey I share on this platform are just that…snippets. Oh, friends, there is so much more. So, very much more. In time, maybe God will allow me to share more.

So, where am I now? Tomorrow marks eight months since my husband was first discovered missing. Eight months since my living nightmare began. And, in eight months, I’m still deeply hurting, questioning, and aching. But, I’ve also seen Christ reach down and meet me where I’m at, pull me out of the mire, refresh my weary soul, and begin a process of restoration. A slow beginning, but a beginning nonetheless. And…so I let Him. I have been quieter than normal, because I’m listening a lot more.

There are still many firsts ahead to embrace…my first birthday without him later this month (turning 40, on top of that), Valentine’s Day, Easter, the first anniversary of his death, and those are just the major ones. But, I’m still trusting in God’s greater plan through all of this.

Just last weekend, I challenged Him with a question…one I hadn’t asked of the Lord before, but I finally did…

Lord, why didn’t You stop him? You could have. I know You could have. Why did You let him take his own life? I know we have free will and all, but he loved You. You would have only had to whisper a word, and he would still be in my arms today. So, what is it Lord that kept that from happening? Why is he with You now instead of with me?

The answer came…immediately…

It was one of those moments I wish I could have back, because I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been there. I was sitting in my recliner in the bedroom…SOBBING…crying out to the Lord…begging for answers. Right after asking the questions…a calming peace swept over me like I’ve never experienced. In. My. Life. Seriously! And then came the inaudible answer…

Because, I will be more glorified in his death than in his life. 

The sobbing stopped. Immediately. I was simply stunned, as I sat there. And, then I knew. He was right! He’s always right! He’s God! I pondered back to many other people who predeceased Chris. Others who died too young or in ways that seemed unfair. And, each time God appears to have been way more glorified in their deaths.

May it be so, Lord! May it please be so!