Just Me

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!