Just Me

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

179 Days Later...GOOD BYE 2013!!!

Today we turn a page in our lives, we are ringing in the New Year, 2014! I usually embrace the coming year. I like a clean slate. A fresh start. A few new goals or areas to focus on in my life. Yes, I do resolutions...I am a goal oriented person and love to check them off as I accomplish them. 

I remember Dec 31, 2012...I was not embracing what the year would hold. I had a gut feeling that I would lose my husband in the coming year...and I was right. I did not embrace it and what it had to offer. 

2013 has been the hardest year of my 41 years on this planet. I am ready to put it in the past and press on in the year ahead. Sunday, January 5th, makes 6 months since Dave passed away. I have made it half of a year as a widow. I have faced several of those "Grief Milestones" in a short time...the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, His birthday, the New Year, and the 6 month point...all within a little over a month. It has had it's HARD days, but thankfully most of them were good days. 

This is my 4th year that I have prayed about a word and a verse for my year. I have had some come to me late in January, some early in January, but this one hit in December. The Lord made it clear to me and I embrace it with enthusiasm and joy! 

My word for 2014 is "NEW" and my verse is Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

I see things that the Lord is doing already that are "NEW" for me. I am sure many I will share in the year ahead. I am excited about them, fearful about some of them, but embracing what NEW thing He is going to do in the year ahead. 

God made my way through the wilderness of cancer...it was hard, the hardest thing I have been through. But all along the way, He provided. He gave strength. He gave me joy that can not be explained. He flooded me with peace. He saw every tear and held me through them all. He has given some redemption, and I know He will continue to redeem. And He welcomed Dave home on July 5th this year. 

As I sit today and reflect as well as look ahead, I am thankful. I am thankful that I have not walked one day alone. I am thankful for the support my family has had and will continue to have through the body of Christ. I am thankful that God has a plan, a future, a hope for me. It didn't end because my husband died, but He will use that in my life to encourage others. I am thankful that I know Him and He knows me. I am thankful for the fresh start of 2014...that He makes all things NEW! 

BRING ON 2014!!! I am ready for a JESUS ADVENTURE!!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

177 Days Later...Happy Birthday Dave!

Today is Dave's 46th Birthday. 

I have spent the day thinking, reflecting, remembering. 

A year ago, Dave's health was really declining. We didn't know for sure if it was the cancer spreading or the affects of the experimental drugs he was taking. But he had changed. I saw it by November. My gut said that would be his last birthday. My heart hoped otherwise. 

I had decided to throw Dave a surprise birthday party. I invited several of our friends and their families. Dave had to work that day, so I had all day to prepare for the surprise. I was so excited about this chance to celebrate him and make sure he knew he was loved! Our house was packed...friends and family filled it...and we waited on him to get home. 

When he walked through the door, he was truly surprised! I had pulled it off. But what he didn't know was that some friends of ours had given us 2 nights at a hotel by the Polaris Mall for a get away! My gift was a piece of paper stating that our bags were packed and when church let out the next morning, we were headed to Columbus for 2 nights away. His health had declined and I knew there was a chance that we would sit around the hotel and not be able to get out and do much...but I didn't care. I wanted some quality time, some hopefully, good memories, with my husband. I asked people to pray that Dave would have good days while we were gone. 

Dave and I had 2 "favorite" restaurants...The Japanese Steakhouse and The Cheesecake Factory. Both of those were in that area and we had hoped to have some good meals out. We also hoped to do a little shopping, something Dave and I enjoyed doing together. And hoped to catch a couple of movies. It was a BIG agenda with the way he had been feeling and the affects cancer was taking on his body. 

We left after church and checked into our hotel...we were upgraded to a suite! It was a spacious room, very nice! We got settled in and then decided to venture out for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory! Dave felt ok and was able to eat his meal! 

The next day, we got up and ventured out for the day. We ate lunch at the Japanese Steakhouse and went to 2 movies! We walked around the mall a little and ended the day at Texas Roadhouse. I took a picture of Dave that evening with his steak. (I LOVE that picture of him!)  We had a great time of what almost felt like a "normal" time away. It was a miracle and a gift from God for us. Dave had a good appetite and felt well enough to enjoy our time together. 

We got up and got ready to head home the next day. Dave went down to breakfast while I got our stuff packed up. He came back and I had everything ready to go. He sat down on the couch in our room and looked so sad...I asked him what was wrong. His response, "I just don't want this to end..." Such a bittersweet moment for me. God had granted some fun time away as a couple. Our last time out and having fun together. But we still faced cancer. We still faced a year of unknowns. In my heart, I knew. I believe in his heart, he knew. 

One year ago. 

177 days ago, his life here ended.

177 days ago, his suffering ended.

177 days ago, he saw the face of his Savior.

This year, he is gone. Life is a vapor...

We went to church this morning and the Lord knew what I needed to hear. Songs of hope. As I worshiped, I imagined worshiping with Dave today...

You made a way when there was no way
You covered heaviness with garments of praise
You wrote a song and You're singing it over me
I feel a dead heart beating now
This revelation makes me wanna shout (HEY!)
that Jesus has been sent
and everything is different.

You turn ashes into beauty
You are for me, not against me now
You found me somehow
You turn mourning into dancing
You turn weeping into a joyful noise
Oh rejoice!

I was dead in my sin
You came in

You made a way when there was no way
You covered heaviness with garments of praise
You wrote a song and You're singing it over me
I feel a dead heart beating now
This revelation makes me wanna shout (HEY!)
that Jesus has been sent
and everything is different.

What manner of love that You would call us sons and daughters?
We cry "Abba! Father!"
Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia
I will never be the same.

You made a way when there was no way
You covered heaviness with garments of praise
You wrote a song and You're singing it over me
I feel a dead heart beating now
This revelation makes me wanna shout (HEY!)
that Jesus has been sent
and everything is different.

But then we sang a song that reaches my heart deeply...we sang it at Dave's funeral and I felt like it was a little gift from God, maybe even from Dave, for me today:

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, will be forever mine
You are forever mine

Dave's running free today, on his birthday. All of the chains of this life have been broken for him! He has received the greatest gift of all! I wouldn't ask him to come back to this life for even 5 minutes...even to serve him a piece of birthday cake! 

Today, I celebrate the life he now has...one with his Savior! One of worship at the feet of Jesus...Happy 46th birthday Dave...Happy 1st Birthday in heaven! Enjoy your time with Jesus! And someday, I will join the party!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas from Jesus (and his servant Amy) to me...

I am writing this on December 5th and I will not post it until after Christmas gifts are opened...mainly because what I am writing about happens to be about a gift for some of my family...and in case they read it before Christmas, the surprise could be ruined!

I first heard about a wonderful, Godly woman, named Amy from a friend. My friend shared with me that Amy has an incredible talent that she uses to minister to people. Amy is an artist. When she creates these incredible pictures, all she knows about the person is their name and maybe their age. She then goes before the Lord and LISTENS to what He gives her for that person in particular. She makes a picture for them and the Lord also gives her some scripture for that person. 

I LOVED the idea...and I ordered 4 pictures from her. One for each of my kids and one for my mom.

I picked my kids up in October and just picked my mom's up this past week. Each one speaks of that person in "only God" ways! Completely amazing! When I read the verses that the Lord gave her for each of them, it brought tears to my eyes. God was speaking to each person through her! 

I am going to back track a little at this point...I have gone through a couple of VERY hard months. I have shared that I have been under the attack of the enemy for a while and he has REALLY tried to get me to quit! And at times, I have wanted to. Blow after blow came...I am thankful though, that God graciously reached in and touched my heart. He began breathing HOPE into my life again. I placed my feet back on the rock-the Word and all of it's promises-and let the enemy have it! It is amazing how quickly our focus can go from Jesus to our problems...thankful God is loving and never quits on me!

Back to the artwork...I picked up my mom's and she had 2 in her hands. At first I was concerned that she misunderstood and made another by accident. I looked at mom's and "yup...it was for my mom!" Very appropriate in what she put on it. Then she said...

"And this one is for you. The Lord told me to give it to you."

I looked at it...the tears flowed...here is my picture...

First of all, the verse "I am doing a new thing" was one the Lord gave me over a year ago for my life. It has multiple meanings in my life. The Lord gave it to me when I knew He was calling me into women's ministry. He was opening some doors for me in that area and it was an exciting time. He was DOING a new thing in my life. 
But here I am now...a widow...through the entire journey of terminal cancer with Dave, I planted my feet on Jeremiah 29:11...I claimed that God had plans for me and they were good and full of hope! My circumstances said anything but...but when God is involved, everything changes! God is opening doors for me with more in the area of women's ministry! New things. I am embracing (some of the time) my singleness...there are some positives with that! I am beginning the next chapter of my life...a new thing.

But then it goes on to say..."I am making a way in the wilderness"...again speaking in many ways to where I am, to where I have been for the past 2 months, to where I was in the year of Dave's terminal illness...a wilderness. And God has made a way...is making a way...and WILL CONTINUE to make a way for me in the wilderness of life...no matter what life brings me!

She then went on to say she made this one in March (ironically my birthday is in March) and had tried to sell it, but no one ever bought it. She decided to keep it and give it to the person God told her to give it to. 

As I studied the picture, there is SO much in it that says me. 

See the crown?? My name means "Crowned One!"

See the word "Happy"?? I see that as a promise from Jesus...I am not just a happy person! I have a joy filled life...because of my Jesus!

The dark and light lines on the bottom reminded me of a piano...I play the piano!

And even though it is hard to see in this picture...right after the word "Happy" is what looks like part of a card...and it says "birthday"...remember she made this one in March!

My cousin looked at it and reminded me of the verse "faithful over little, made ruler over much". I don't plan on becoming governor of Ohio...but I do know God has called me to women's ministry and he is opening the doors. I often feel so inadequate...but it is not up to me to bring the harvest...I just need to listen, follow, and obey what He asks me to do. Where this is headed is beyond me at this point. All I can do is say, "Yes Jesus!"

So there you have it...Merry Christmas to me from Jesus and Amy! Amy, I am so thankful that you say, "Yes Jesus" and you LISTEN to Him and hear Him and obey Him! He has blessed you with an amazing talent and you use it for His glory! You have blessed my life and I know there are MANY others as well! 

He IS doing a new thing...He IS making a way in my wilderness! And I am a thankful, blessed child of the king! (maybe I should go grab my tiara!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

172 Days Later...


It is hard to believe that it is Christmas Eve. This year has been one of the most tumultuous years of my life. And yet, I still have a few more tough days to face before I say good-bye to 2013. 

This year I did it all by myself. I usually did most of the shopping and wrapping. But I always saved the "BEST" presents back to put out on Christmas Eve once the kids were in bed. Dave would help me get them all out and place them around the tree. The house was always so quiet (like tonight), the lights were glowing (like tonight), then we would sit and enjoy the stillness together...very much unlike tonight. Dave LOVED Christmas morning and I treasure the memories I share with him in my life. 

But this year is much different. I have reflected on the years we had when he was in better health. And I have reflected on the thoughts I was having last year at this time. I knew. I knew it would be our last. And I wondered what this year would be like. Now, I know. The void he left screams at me. I can't ignore it and I don't think I should. 

Tomorrow, I won't get to open a gift from my husband. I think back over some of the great gifts he gave me. It brings a smile to my face. I look around my house and I still see some of them. I get frustrated with myself that what I do have, what God has done for me this year, is not enough for me. At least for today. The void is too great.

I have 3 great kids that I love! 
But I don't have my husband. 
The kids bought gifts for me to open in the morning.
But there is none from my husband. 
I will gather with family and exchange laughs, gifts, make memories, eat some delicious food. 
But I won't have my husband there.
There are people who were not able to give to their family like I was able to.
But I don't have my husband.
I bought gifts for my kids, my brother and his family, my parents.
But I didn't get to buy anything for my husband. 
I cooked LOTS of yummy treats!
But I didn't get to watch my husband enjoy them like he used to.

He is gone.

And Christmas has taken on a different feel this year than any other year in my life. This is the first time, part of me dreaded the day. It is my favorite holiday. It always has been! I like to do it up...but this year is different. 

It is different because I loved. It is different because life has changed in a way I never thought it would. 

I have learned with grief that it hits when I don't expect it, in ways I don't expect, and is triggered by things I never would have thought would trigger it. I hope and pray tomorrow is FULL of smiles, love, and sweet memories. But it may be full of tears. And I have to be ok with that. 

Because this Christmas, Dave is not here. 

My prayer has been that God fill those empty places. Dave will not be sitting in my living room tomorrow morning. But I can have the peace that Jesus offers and I pray I allow that to fill my hurting heart. 

Dave is with the one we are truly celebrating. He has the Prince of Peace. He is with Emmanuel. He is with the babe who's birth we honor tomorrow. And that hope is a gift no man can offer! It is a gift from Jesus to his children. And for that I am thankful!

He is missed.

He is loved.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

169 Days Later...

This has been a LONG, draining week for me. My oldest has not made much progress in recovery since her surgery Tuesday. I was hoping by now she would feel better. Which adds a stress to the holidays that I didn't expect! I am somewhat frustrated with myself, for doing this before what will be a difficult holiday as it is. I am just praying by Christmas morning, she has improved some so we can enjoy it as much as we can.

Today, I wanted to share a word the Lord gave me in my devotions this morning. It really encouraged my heart which is feeling heavy after another week of nursing someone this year. And I am feeling rather lonely. Again. 

My passage was Luke 2:1-20, which is fitting for the season we are in...(no this is not a dated devotional, just happened to be today's page).

The writer begins talking about God being the author of time. That the Bible begins with "In the beginning" and in this passage "While they were there the TIME came"...God is the one who started the clock on earth. Since He has always been and always will be, someone had to wind the clock for his creation. She mentions that when time began...the clock was ticking, anticipating that moment. The moment when our Savior took his first fleshly breath and cried. Thoughts flooded my mind in those words. This was THE pivotal moment for us. The moment that GRACE flooded this planet and prophecy was fulfilled. Everything changed...HOPE flooded this planet. And I am thankful.

But what the writer goes on to share really stirred my heart. She focuses on Luke 2:19 "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Ponder (Sumballo) in this verse describes taking many things, casting them together, and considering them as one. She paints a beautiful, brief story of Mary and what she had been through in the previous 9 months to this historical moment. Then she shares, that what has held them all together is the faithfulness of God. 

The past year began to flood my mind. I have many pieces that have come together. I have seen ways that God has brought about a bigger picture and given redemption for some of the pain. There are pieces of my puzzle that are complete. 

But there are many that are not. They are laying scattered out on the table, separated. Some of them are really ugly. It doesn't seem like they will ever fit into a beautiful picture. It seems like there is no hope of a Redemption for the pain or heartache. At least not from my viewpoint. 

But, when the Great Redeemer, the Faithful One, is the one who sits at the table and picks those pieces up and starts placing them at the right moment, in the right place, with the other pieces that "fit" together, the picture is slowly revealed. And it is beautiful! 

I have been in a place of sitting back and looking at the scattered pieces lately. I feel restless. I am waiting for some of pieces to come together revealing the next part of my story. And in God's time, it will.

Back to my devotional...she wraps it up by letting us know that God does not view our life by the pieces, but by the wholeness of our life. The completeness of it. He sees all those pieces put in place in the puzzle of our lives, as if it were already done. And he is saying, "My daughter, My bride...you just wait! Wait until you see what I see! It is more beautiful than anything you could imagine!"

Lord Jesus, 
Give me the perspective of Sumballo...because my hope in you says it is already put together. 
You have the end result of my pain, my dreams, my good and my bad, already planned as though it is done. 
You have been a faithful, loving Father and I am grateful! You are my Redeemer and you will use each and every circumstance in my life for my good. 
You have HOPE laid out in front of me. 
Your plans for me are GOOD. 
My time is in your hands. And you are trust worthy and you are good. 
Thank you Jesus for the truths of your word that I can plant my feet on and rest assured that you WILL REDEEM my ashes for something beautiful! 
I am counting on it. 
Thank you JESUS for your hope!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

166 Days Later...and lots of flashbacks...

It has now been 166 days since I lost my husband. 

We had been through 3 1/2 years of battling the awful disease called cancer. During his battle with cancer, he had numerous procedures, 2 major operations, 3 smaller operations, not to mention the MANY doctor's appointments. I could be your tour guide at OSU Medical Center after all the visits we made over there. I have knowledge about many things I had no clue about before. And I learned it all through the journey through the disease. 

This week has been a challenging week for me personally. I have had lots of "right back in the heart of cancer" moments that I did not anticipate. One of my dear friends had open heart surgery Monday at the Ross Heart Hospital at OSU. As the day went by, I pictured where she was, what was probably occurring and when. I pictured that moment when her husband kissed her good-bye and walked away from her while pleading with the Father to bring her through the ordeal. I pictured the hours of waiting for the family in the waiting room. I pictured when the doctor came out and delivered the news...and it was good! I could picture it because I have walked it. And I re-walked it from my home on Monday. 

Yesterday, my oldest daughter had her tonsils removed. I got up EARLY to prepare for the drive to the hospital. I woke her up knowing what was ahead for her that day and dreading it with her. I parked in the hospital parking garage and got out, knowing all I was doing was bringing us to the point of surgery for her. We walked into the hospital...familiar sounds, smells, sights...we checked in...flashbacks of the cancer journey...they called us back and the prep began. All the questions. I remember when Dave's list was so short and I remember when it was LONG. I remember walking through every process that lengthened his health history with thoughts like...it just keeps growing...when will it end? I had to walk away when they came to get her...flashbacks...I sat and waited by myself thinking about all the hours I sat in that same chair waiting on my husband...wondering how things were going and praying for him. Thankfully her surgery was fast and I didn't sit long. The doctor came out and spoke with me...just like with Dave...and then after a while I was able to go back and see her. The moment of relief...again. Once she was able to leave, I went back to the garage to pick her up. SO MANY MEMORIES flooded back that I did not anticipate. The walking in the house and settling the patient. Then the running to the store to pick up the painkillers and whatever else was needed for the recoup process...coming home and starting the meds. Making lists of when each med needs taken...setting timers so I don't forget. And today my youngest daughter had her wisdom teeth out....some of those things stirred again.

It ALL flooded back...

And it really surprised me...

I was not prepared.

All the feelings have come back. The feelings of the stress of hoping there are no complications. The times when something seems not quite right and not really knowing if it is something to be concerned about or not. 

It has all flooded back. And I have tried to diminish what it has stirred. "The girls procedures were simple, not complicated surgeries. This is NOT the same. But that doesn't matter. So many things that I walked through with Dave came flooding back through the events of this week. 

Grief is a weird thing. You never know when it will hit or how. I am not caring for my husband this time, but my children. I carry the some of the same concerns and worries. I am handing out meds. I got really tired of handing out meds and constantly having to remember when the next dose was due. It is all very real again. And it has been over 5 months since he was here. 

Maybe this process with the girls will do some cleansing of my heart and mind. I have said many times I miss serving my husband, today I am serving my girls. My heart is not hurting for my husband and his pain, but the pain of my daughters. 

Flashbacks...they will happen...thankful I have a Savior that didn't just walk with me through the journey with Dave, but He is walking with me through my journey with my girls. Thankful that Dave's pain is over forever and that my girls' pain from this experience, will come to an end in a matter of days. I am thankful that yesterday is behind us and healing is ahead...and I believe it is ahead for us in more than just a physical sense. 

God is good. He is the healer. He is getting us through. He has not failed. He sustains. He holds me in the moment and in the flashbacks. And for ALL He is, I am thankful!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

163 Days Later...

Grief is a strange, strange journey. Lately it has been the little things that hit. And they hit in weird ways. 

Tonight I was making one of my seasonal favorites with my son. A yummy recipe "Harvest Spiced Nuts"...candied pecans. My house smelled DE-LISH!!! As I am mixing them up and spreading them on the parchment paper to throw into the oven, I remembered making these each year with my Dave in mind. He LOVED them! There was a void though when I pulled them out of the over...he wouldn't be here to enjoy them. Sadness. An empty place. Absence. Loneliness. 

We had our annual "COOKIE FIASCO DAY" yesterday. My sister-in-law, cousins, and all the kiddos gather and the kids go crazy with the frosting and sprinkles! The adults roll buckeyes and oreo balls! This is my favorite tradition that we have during the holidays. This year, I didn't have to worry about being done before Dave got home...Again...a reminder. 

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend a Christmas meal for widows. I RSVP'd without knowing what it would stir in my heart. There is something about being able to attend a dinner for widows that really wakes you up. I fit that invite this year...reality hit. I hoped that I would maybe meet one other widow my age, but I was quite a bit younger than all of the attendees. I had the privilege of attending with my co-director for our Friday morning Bible study. It was a time of sweet fellowship chatting more about life than we normally get to! The food was great! The gifts were in abundance! The show choir from Troy Christian High School did a great job! The joy of Jesus was apparent on the face of the director of the event! And Jesus' love was poured over each of us widows. (and I ended the night with a new friend!) 

I was chatting with a friend today and she shared that she and her husband were going away for a much deserved couple of days! I was so happy for her...and yet so envious! One emotion as strong as the other. I see friends on facebook that are getting a date night with their husband...happy for them and rooting them on in their relationship...yet, oh so envious that I am missing that in my life. 

I have honestly done well with my journey until the holidays came around. I love the excitement of Christmas with my kids...the lights, the yummy goodies, all the baking, family, friends, parties, gifts, decorations...all of it. I miss being married. I miss doing all of this with my husband. It was so strange to shop this year, and not shop for him. I gave the kids some money to shop for me...it is not about the getting...but I don't think I could have sat through Christmas morning with nothing to open-just too much of a reminder that he is not here to celebrate with this year. 

So, in honor of my husband...

ENJOY your spouse this year! 

ENJOY your kids this year! 


I am doing all I can do to make this year special for our family. I splurged a little on the gifts which adds some fun. I have some fun planned for us over the Christmas break. But I anticipate some tears mixed in. And that is ok. And really, that is good. We loved him. We miss him. I wouldn't ask him to come back for a minute, and yet there are times that I would give about anything to feel him curled up behind me in bed, or have him walk in the door after work and hug me and say, "Hi Babe!" My mistletoe is hung, but I won't get my Christmas kiss. My first Christmas without my husband...my first Christmas as a widow. 

I am thankful I am not truly alone. My Jesus is with me every step of the way. He has been breathing HOPE into my heart lately. He has been filling my heart with HOPE lately. This year has been a HARD one...probably the hardest I have ever endured. But God is good and He is holding me when I don't have a husband to hold me. He is walking with me each and every moment. He is giving me the strength I need each and every day. He is HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE! He carries me when I can not take another step. He shields me from the blows of the enemy. He lights the path before me. And He chose to be born as a baby so He could die for me...so I can live with Him! 

Even though I am missing Dave tonight...I am so thankful that I know where he is...He is with that babe who's birth we celebrate in a week...he is with the one who bled and died so we can live...He is with the Messiah! He is with JESUS! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

144 Days Later...

At some point in our lives, more than once I am sure, we have braced ourselves for a storm. Whether it was when the tornado sirens were sounding and you ran to the basement and took cover. Or maybe the snow storm was coming and so you ran to Wal-mart with the rest of your hometown to buy bread and milk before we were snowed in for a month...(at least that seems to be the case here in my hometown!). Or maybe you live by the ocean and the hurricane was approaching. So you boarded up windows and did whatever else is necessary to prepare for the storm ahead.

Some storms in life we have warning for, others we do not. 

I had the warning for the storm of being a widow. I had time to prepare. Dave even helped me prepare for the legal/financial side of this journey. SO thankful for that! 

But for the past 10 days, and what seems much longer than that, I have been hit with storms...plural...big ones...ones that I didn't prepare for. Ones that have made me sit back and say, "Are you kidding me Jesus?? Why more?? Why these?? Why NOW?? Have I not been through ENOUGH??"

Ever been there??

There...when you seriously just want to quit.
There...when you start to doubt all you have said that you believe.
There...when you crumble emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually.


There...is where I have been. And it has stretched me and tested me. I have been heart broken, angry (well, more like enraged!), hurt, alone, discouraged, doubting, devastated. 

One thing that I have learned through grief is GRACE. Not just the grace that Jesus has lavished me with and poured over me this year, but the grace that I need to extend to myself. Lets face it, when it gets right down to it, I am human. My first reaction is to FEEL. (guess you could also add "I am a woman" to that list!) I was designed and created by God to feel emotionally. But, a key to overcoming life's battles is to not be ruled by my feelings, but to be ruled by what I know is truth.

God kept speaking to my heart Phil 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." I had to stop and ask myself what I knew...what is the TRUTH about each every battle that I am facing?? 

Truth...God is good.
Truth...God is in control.
Truth...God LOVES, adores, seeks after, wants to be close to me.
Truth...God is faithful.
Truth...God fights for me.
Truth...God holds me.
Truth...I am never alone.

So, with the help of my Jesus. And with much meditating on the TRUTH of His word, and pouring music that spoke "Restoration" to my spirit. After asking my sisters and brothers in Christ to do battle for me and PRAY BIG BOLD prayers, I was able to refocus and walk in joy. A year ago, I would have beat myself up and threw a pity party that might have lasted a month of longer...but grief has taught me a lot. It has taught me that I CAN feel and that I SHOULD feel...but that my feelings are not what I can stand on. Our feelings get us into a lot of trouble! Our feelings should NEVER be the compass in our life. God's word, God's truth should be our one and only compass! 

As the tidal waves crashed over me, one right after another...in various forms, my anchor was secure and strong! I was beaten up, I was tossed about, a few times, I thought I was going under...but Jesus pulled me through. 

My battles are still raging...I am asking for my friends to pray and do battle on my behalf. Some involve decisions that I will need to make and I need God's direction to make the right ones. Some are completely out of my hands and I can ONLY trust that God will fight on my behalf. 

One of my battles is the holidays. I was honestly not expecting it to be so hard. I am not only carrying my load of emotion, but also trying to help my kids with theirs. This is our first Thanksgiving without Dave. I will miss sitting by my husband for dinner on Thursday. I will miss watching him enjoy my macaroni and cheese and the cheesecake I will make. I will miss his presence. BUT, I can give thanks because he is FREE from the pain in this life! He is giving thanks TO God himself, face to face! There is much to rejoice over. Perspective...truth...Phil 4:8

I choose to stand on truth. The truth of His word. I choose to give thanks in everything...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

135 Days Later...

It's been a while...a LONG while, since I last blogged. I have been doing "life". 

I started babysitting again. Sometimes I think it was too soon. I tried to have all the "business" side of his passing done, but it seems to be lingering-although not my fault. And I am growing very weary with all of it! I have kids at my house, most days, for 10 hours. I am not a young'un any more and it has really taken a lot of adjustment physically and mentally. I have gone through some tough days of feeling "stuck" in my house again, which takes me back to the days that I was caring for Dave. I've had to do a lot of processing. 

I started leading our Friday morning Bible study again at church. It has been a blessing to me and it is an honor to be able to serve in this way. God is knitting hearts and I am thankful for the old friends I see each week and the new ones God has blessed my life with. 

I am slowly pursuing my passion with women's ministry. I am praying about what the next step is in this area of my life. I have really battled with self-confidence, not feeling like I am capable, but I know God has called me to this and it is time to move...which is probably why I am battling!

Overall, I have been doing well with grieving. I am attending a Grief Share group locally and it has shown me that I am in a healthy place with my grief...and that I am not CRAZY, but normal (this is probably shocking to some!). I know I began my grief process in December last year, if not sooner. I miss Dave, but I am also moving forward in life-I am not stuck in grief. I am so thankful for friends and hospice during his illness. They gave such great advice and prepared me well for this journey. Both were such a HUGE blessing from God!

My kids are struggling in different ways and different areas. I think being a single mom has been one of my greatest challenges. My kids still have pain from their relationship with their dad and now they have pain in the loss of Dave. I have had some very hard days in regards to them and where they are in life. My heart has been heavy for them.

I have been struggling with being lonely. I get pretty discouraged on Friday and Saturday night if I am at home not out enjoying myself. (hint hint to my local friends who want a girls night out!) I miss male companionship. Sometimes I just wish I could sit down and chat and share a cup of coffee with a man. That, for now, would be enough! I do miss being a wife. I didn't think I would want to re-marry, but I really hope I get that privilege at some point in my life. At times, it has been a very difficult thing for me to deal with. My prayer is that God keeps the wrong ones away, and just brings the right one, at the right time. (feel free to join me in that prayer!)

As I said, I have been doing well with the grief process...until yesterday. I prayed about it. I asked for prayer from several friends about it. I sat and talked to my kids about it...

But nothing can truly prepare you for the holidays. We put our tree up yesterday and today, I wish we had just skipped it this year. I sat the kids down before we started and talked to them about it. I cried when I said his name. There are 4 of us in this house and so there are 4 different ways we are all processing our grief. What one wants might really bother another. It is so difficult for a mom to find that balance. So we started our day with me asking them, "What do you want to do?? What don't you want to do?? Anything you want to add??" My son spoke up with tears in his eyes and said "I don't want a topper on the tree this year. Dave always did that." I told him I thought that was a great way to remember Dave this year. Very fitting with his absence...but every time I look at the tree, I see the empty place and it reminds me of the empty place in our hearts. I bought an ornament for Dave's memory for us...it says "The ones we love never truly leave us". So, the kids put it on the tree first. Then we started digging into our ornaments. There were a couple that were very tough for me...the one we bought for our first Christmas in our house. Some that were given to us with our names on them. But the hardest one was the "Our First Christmas Together 2005" ornament. It was a slap in my face remembering our last Christmas together 2012...I knew it would be and I think he did too. 

I knew with each of us in our own grief, we could be edgy and irritable and the day went horribly. Our normal tradition is put the tree up then sit and enjoy the lights while relaxing and watching a Christmas movie as a family. None of them wanted to stay home. They all wanted to leave for various reasons. We fought about it, we cried. It was not pretty. As mom, I am trying so hard to make things fun and positive. But that is not what happened. I ended up spending most of the evening home alone and crying. I felt the void of Dave like I haven't felt it in a while. I had a big ol' grief pity party. I started comparing what other people's lives are like to mine. (bad, BAD thing to do!) I cried and I cried a LOT! To the point my eyes felt dry this morning...it was hard for me to get up and go to church. I still feel very weepy today and did some crying at church. And I would be lying if I said I was feeling better now. Church helped, but I am not where I want to be. If it were not so much work to put the tree up, I would take it down and maybe try again in a couple of weeks or maybe skip it altogether. It was anything BUT how I hoped this season would start. 

I am asking for prayer for my family during the weeks ahead. Not only is this our first year without Dave, I have a senior this year, so it is also our last Christmas as I have known it for the past 18 years. Life changes when your kid graduates...UGH! 

For those that are close to me, I could really use time away from home. A chance to laugh, cry if needed, talk, and pray. Some days this burden is just so overwhelming. It amazes me how quickly discouragement sets in. At times I feel very isolated. I know several single moms, but they are single due to divorce. I know of none who are single mom widows. I know women who are older that are widows but are well beyond raising kids. So I feel very "alone" in where I am in life. That is hard. 

I always look forward to the holidays...but this year I am also dreading it. I don't know what to expect at this point...and after yesterday I am almost wishing I could skip it. Someone had suggested that we go away for Christmas, now I wish we were. 

I don't like to leave my blog with a negative feel...because the truth is no matter what we face, GOD IS GOOD! And nothing changes that. 

So, a positive story (and I am not looking for the pat on the back here, but hoping to challenge your hearts in this way)...I took my kids to Chipotle for lunch today. We got ours to go. I paid for our food and asked for a cup for some water to drink on the way home. The kids were at the counter waiting for them to finish their order and I looked up from the drink area and noticed a soldier in line beside Sarah. We were the only customers in the restaurant and I knew God told me to buy his lunch. So, I nervously went back up the counter and told the cashier I wanted to buy his lunch. She asked if he wanted a drink and he said no...I told him to go for it that it was on me. He still said no. She offered him chips and he declined...again, "come on, let me treat you today! Get some chips and guac!!" He once again said no and told me I didn't have to do this. I told him I appreciated his service and it was my honor. He thanked me and I paid for his meal. The workers commented on how that must have felt good to have that happen...After feeling so down and discouraged and just heavy hearted, I walked out feeling a little more positive. Our lives do NOT have to be perfect and in order to bless someone else. Sometimes, doing something FOR someone blesses us even more in return. It did for me today...and I think it impacted not only that really tall, REALLY good looking soldier in uniform ;) but also my kids and the people that were working today. I am thankful that even when we are not on top of the world, God can use us! All we have to do is listen and obey! 

And lastly...so many times I have given testimony to the fact that God pours his grace out in the measure that we need...and today we sang a song at church that says, "Your grace finds me"...I was really needing his grace to pour over me today! I need his grace to find me! I know, even when I don't FEEL like it is, that God is ever present pouring his love, his beautiful grace, over me...enjoy this song!

Friday, September 20, 2013

77 Days Later...

This is my second blog attempt today. I started the other one and realized that no one wants to hear of my everyday happenings. Which was pretty much all it was about! So, I stopped and decided to wait till later when it popped into my mind what I want to write about...

It has been 77 days since I said my earthly good-bye to Dave...my life feels completely different now.

I am settling into single life. I have days when I really, REALLY miss being married. I like serving the man I love. I miss making him a cup of coffee and cooking him a meal after he worked hard all day. But I am adjusting. 

I am getting to focus on my kids. I have been able to be more deliberate in time with them. We are scheduling a family night at least every 2 weeks. Sarah is a senior, so I know time is winding down before we have more changes in our family! 

I am also getting ready for my second year leading Friday morning women's Bible study at my church. I am excited (and nervous) about this adventure! My heart is for women's ministry and so I embrace this opportunity from my Jesus! I am thankful he has entrusted me with this endeavor!

That's a short version of life...but what I want to share is that God has just been pouring himself out on me. I am blown away at all He has done in the 77 days since Dave's passing.

I believe that since the Garden of Eden, God has been all about REDEMPTION! What our enemy means for evil, God will turn into something good! Because of our sin, Jesus shed his blood to redeem us! There are so many verses on God pouring his goodness out and HE LOVES to bless his kids! And he has blown me away!!!

I spent hours feeling trapped in my home while taking care of Dave. It was a grueling, HARD process...I have now had 3...yes THREE vacations!!! ONLY Jesus!!!

We had a $6,000 deductible every year. Then we owed 80/20 of the balances. We did get some financial assistance from OSU which was a huge help. BUT, for some "unexplainable" reason, I owe right around $6,000 TOTAL on all medical bills!!! ONLY JESUS!!!

I was told I was only eligible for the one time $255 spousal benefit from Social Security. I went this week for my appointment to take care of everything. I had previously spoken with someone on the phone who told me that I could not get benefits for my kids and I had also looked it up on line and it looked like I was ineligible...but we did qualify! THANKFUL!!! (and shocked!)

I was able to purchase a 2011 Honda Odyssey for our family! It is BEAUTIFUL! (if I could have picked any color, this would have been it...BONUS!!!) I am so thankful for such a great vehicle that should last us for a LONG time! And the kids are thrilled with the DVD player in it! 

I have been able to spend time with friends, MANY friends! After so many long days of feeling isolated and trapped, I am free and I have been able to really enjoy my time with them! This morning, I met up with the fourth friend this week! I am SO thankful and blessed!!!

My latest road trip was to St Louis with my cousin for the Love Life Women's Conference! It was A-MA-ZING!!!! Joyce Meyer, Priscilla Shirer, and Andy Stanley all spoke. Matt Redman and Kristy Nockels led worship. And Natalie Grant sang at each session and Jesus Culture put on an incredible concert on Friday evening! God poured himself out and spoke to our hearts. I shed many tears as we sang of our wonderful Jesus! My thoughts would drift to my husband and the hope I have KNOWING where he is right now! 

I am amazed that most of my tears are in my worship. I hear songs of Calvary-my thoughts become, "Lord, because YOU DIED, Dave lives!" Death has been defeated..."YES JESUS! The last breath was really his first breath of REALLY living!!!" When we sing "Holy, Holy, Holy" I have to wonder if I am joining in with Dave at the throne right then...Music brings on sweet, joy filled tears!

I have wondered if I am processing things well. I have been happy. Truly happy! (as in Joy filled) I have peace. Even when there is an issue at hand, God's peace is over whelming. God has poured financially on my family. So thankful that for now, I am ok. As I look back over the past year, I realize that I began grieving in December last year. Things changed for us then. My roles in his life changed from wife to more of a care giver. I went through a time of depression and just thought it was because of self-pity...but I know now it was grief. I also went through a valley in the grieving process in March. Deep sadness. I was dealing with a lot of tough stuff! I could list other times during those months that I could pinpoint as a grieving...but looking back now, I realize, I have been grieving for about 9 months. 

I am thankful for the goals that God laid on my heart early on in this process with Dave. 1) Be real...and I did a lot of that through this blog. 2) Learn all that God had for me to learn. I believe that was accomplished! He taught me so much and I am still learning...as time goes by, I see more unfolding in it. God is good! 3) Not just survive the journey, but thrive in it! (there's a sermon in that one!) The journey was HARD, but I am so thankful that God sustained in incredible ways. He truly met every need!

So, as I sit here today, I sit in amazement at all he has done. He is bringing healing to my heart. I walk in joy and peace. I rejoice knowing where Dave is right now! I have a deeper, more intimate relationship with my loving Jesus than ever! I can't wait to see what he has next for me. I am LIVING! And I am not just living, I am living abundantly! ONLY JESUS can do that after the loss of a spouse! 

I am thankful!
I am blessed!
I am loved!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

51 Days Later...

I had no intention of blogging today, but I feel like I need to. I was in bed last night settling in for the night and I started messing around on twitter. I came across Dave's account...I saw his picture...it is so strange how those moments hit you. I read his tweets...his words. That's what I have left! Memories, the things he left his mark on in this life. I have pictures of him all through the house, but something about that picture stirred my heart and mind. 

I woke up this morning and started getting ready for church. I was killing a little time and messing around on facebook when I decided it was time. I have mentioned that I miss being married. Along with that, is the fact that I do not feel married and haven't for some time. I think it was probably in December when my role switched from wife to more care-giver. It has been a long time since I felt like I was a married woman. I miss it...a LOT! But the picture I had as my profile picture was a picture of Dave and I. Today, I changed it to a picture of me and my kids. This is life now. I am moving forward in this process. They are who I put my efforts, energy, and emotions into. Another small step forward...

I went to church, as always, expecting the Lord to move. And He did. Our worship lately has been so powerful, Holy Spirit filled, moving! And today something happened to me during worship. The worship leader introduced a new song to us as a church, but it was not new to me! I have sang it many times in my van while driving, but today it REALLY hit me differently. It might be because it was the first time I have heard it since Dave died. And it might be because of where I am right now. Whatever reason, it was profound to me. The song is "Here's My Heart" by David Crowder. But I think you could sub-title it "The Widow's Song"! Here are the lyrics and what went on in my mind and heart as we were singing:

Here's my heart, Lord
Here's my heart, Lord
Here's my heart, Lord
Speak what is true!

I am found!
(As a 41 yr old widow, I could feel very lost! Where do I fit in? Most widows are much older than I am. I am a single mom too. I have a pretty unique position in this life and could easily feel so lost in this world...BUT I don't! Thank you Jesus!)

I am Yours!
(I may not belong to a man on this earth, but I do belong to my Savior! I am his daughter, his bride!)

I am loved!
(I don't have a husband here to hold me, to tell me he loves me. But I AM perfectly loved by the one with unconditional love!)

I'm made pure!
(Through the blood of my Jesus, I am made pure. He sees me covered in the blood of his son and I have the promise of heaven. I am pure in his eyes! Just like Dave!)

I have life!
(I have known people who when they have lost a loved one, life seems to stop. Life stopped for a time for me through his illness. Caregiving became my life...but life is continuing for me. I feel it. I see it. I am doing it! I have life!)

I can breathe!
(There have been moments when the pain was so heavy that I felt like I couldn't breathe! But that is being transformed into thanksgiving for what God has done for Dave and for me. I would NEVER ask him to come back to this life! He has eternal life with Jesus! Praise God! And because of that hope, I can breathe deep, the beauty of those promises! Thank you Jesus for giving Dave an eternal home! And thank you for your word that makes my life so much easier to process and be filled with the hope you offer!)

I am healed!
(I can not say, I have been healed in this grief process yet. I have a long way to go before I can say I am healed in it. BUT, I am better than I was 50 days ago. God has done amazing things in me! My view of my life is much different today than it was 50 days ago. I am learning and growing! In the eyes of Jesus the healing is done...I just have to walk through this normal, weird process called grief!)

I am free!
(This encompasses a lot! Too much to write about. But I already feel the chains of this process falling off of me. I am lighter in heart, mind, and spirit! I walk in the hope that God's word promises...FREEDOM!)

You are strong!
(In those moments when I have felt so over-whelmed and weak...days when it hurt too much to go on, He has carried me! So thankful for the strong arms of the Savior!)

You are sure!
(There is so much uncertainty in the life of a widow/single mom. So many questions and not always enough answers! BUT, God and his word ARE SURE! I can count on Him and what His word promises to me! So thankful!)

You are life!
(Life continues...because of the hope in him! Dave didn't stop living, He just started his eternity of life! He would want me to continue with my life too! And the best way to do that is with my Jesus! Life does go on...because of Him!)

You endure!
(Life with Dave came to a close. But life with Jesus goes on forever! No matter what I have to endure, God will give me the strength to endure! 
-did you get that??-

You are good!
(My motto early in this cancer process became 
"God is good! All the time! No matter what!"
Sticking with it! It's true! He has been SO good to me!

Always true!
(I can count on Him! He keeps his word!)

You are light breaking through!
(I have had MANY dark days, nights, and in betweens! BUT God's goodness always shines through those moments!)

You are more than enough!
(I know I am not enough to walk the path in front of me. It is daunting and hard. BUT God is MORE than enough for me to not just survive, but THRIVE in it! He will get me through...and He has!)

You are here!
(When I don't like where I am, whether it is a decision that I have to make that I don't want to make, or if it is those moments when I REALLY miss having my husband, He is here with me NOW, in that moment! Thank you Jesus for being here! For never leaving me!)

You are love!
(I miss getting a text that says, "I love you babe!" But I have a whole book that shows me the perfect, unconditional love of my Jesus! I have a lifetime of stories that SHOW me He loves me! He is perfect love...if I never marry again, I am loved!)

You are hope!
(A while back, I stated that my future in the eyes of earthly standard seemed hopeless...BUT I serve a God that LOVES to work in hopeless situations and pour himself out so people can see him and say, "ONLY JESUS"! Jer 29:11! I have a future FULL of hope!!)

You are grace!
(I am so thankful for his grace! I have had moments of walking in the emotions of the day...He is FULL of grace for this weary, sinful woman!)

You're all I have!
(And He is truly all I need!)

You're everything!
(He has become my everything...the one I desire and love! And when we have him, we have everything we will ever need!)

Here's my heart, Lord!
Here's my heart, Lord!
Here's my heart, Lord!
(What better hands could I put my heart into? I have a heart that needs his loving touch of healing and wholeness. I have a heart that at times aches with missing my husband. I have a heart that has wounded places that only Jesus can heal! And I know in time, He will complete the work that needs done!)

Speak what is true!
Here's my life, Lord!
Here's my life, Lord!
Here's my life, Lord!
(He has my life. I know I have a ministry ahead of me, serving women. I am waiting on him to open the doors and lead me in whatever direction that will be. My life is his! So thankful that he can use me to do his work! A life submitted to the Lord is never going to be dull!)

Speak what is true!

I think this song was my sermon before the sermon today! I am so thankful that the few words in this song, spoke so many words to my widow's heart! God is working and moving in my life. I am moving forward...and I have hope!