Friday, December 19, 2014

One Year Ago . . .

I am lying here awake again in the early hours of the morning (or the very late hours of the night, if you prefer) and thinking about one year ago.

Thinking about the steps I had to take . . . the conversations I had to have . . . the new path we were beginning.

In some ways, it seems so very long ago, and life feels worlds removed from that.  Yet I remember details very vividly - at least some of them, anyway.

As strange as it may seem, there are aspects where life doesn't feel so dramatically different.  There have been many adjustments, but we have faced them one day at a time - one step at a time.

I realized recently that I've been a single mom for a whole year now.  (Light bulb moment, I know.)  I don't know if I'll ever get used to that designation.  I fall short regularly. I feel that there's never enough of me for all that needs to be done.  I've caught myself thinking, "I'm not cut out for single parenthood."  The reality is, though, that God has put me in this place, and I choose to believe He has a purpose.

I had someone remark again recently that they think I am such a strong person.  I'll share a little something here -- I've never felt weaker than I have the past year and a half.  I am NOT strong.  God is strong . . . and in His grace and mercy, He has strengthened me.

So, I continue in this path, looking to Him and asking Him to make Himself seen through my circumstances.

We have made it to Christmas break and can put away the responsibilities of school for a little bit.  I'm needing this break as much as the kids are, I think.

We will be busy at least for a few days yet -- it suddenly occurred to me that Christmas is actually in just a few days, and I have yet to have a menu planned or groceries purchased.  I'm thinking I should get working on that . . . and other details, too.  :-)

That being said, I might need to consider some sleep, too.

Good night.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tis the Season

This time of year signals so many things . . .

We have just come from the Thanksgiving season, abreviated though it seems in our culture.  I try to keep a mindset of thanksgiving.  Through all of the changes over the past two years, I still believe with all my heart that there is so very much for which to be thankful.  God is good, and He has blessed us in so many ways, and He never changes -- He has always been and will always be good!

These days are flying by and filled with Christmas shopping, baking, school activities, recitals, basketball games, and programs (to name a few).

I don't know whether it is the mental references from last year or the increased level of activities, but life has taken on a feeling again that the rest of the world is moving at a different pace, and I find it a bit overwhelming trying to keep up with the busy-ness of it all. 

I see struggles in the kids, too.  It started the week before Thanksgiving.  I started hearing references to last year and how different - abnormal - it was.  One of the kids told me that they can't stop their thoughts from playing over and over.  One of them told me that they can't remember what Dad sounded like.  Sometimes, it is the things the kids don't say more than what they do say.   Even all of the 'fun' Christmas events at school are reminders of last year.  So . . .  This year is a little bit weighty.  Next year will be easier.

The most important focus, though, is Christmas -- the true meaning for all of the celebrations.  God became flesh and dwelt among us and gave His life to redeem us.  He is the reason we can have the hope of Heaven.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Congruent Paths

There are events in life we expect to experience - things such as graduations, marriage, and parenthood.  There are other events in life we never plan to experience, but they happen anyway.  I certainly never planned to become a widow.

Earlier this week, I wrote two letters -- one to a new widow, and one to a wife whose husband recently transitioned to hospice care.  I never thought I'd be looking at these scenarios with a perspective of experience.

I've long held the belief that we are responsible for what we've been given -- not just material items, but knowledge and experience, too.

Those days last year aren't hard to remember.  As tough as those days were, in retrospect, they were much easier than they could have been.  God gave us a wonderful team with the doctors and nurses and social workers from Methodist.  I had to make some hard decisions, but they helped to keep the process simple.

If our experiences can help to make just one person's journey even a little easier, then that is what I want to do.

I attended a funeral service at my church last week.  The last funeral at my church was my husband's.  This funeral was for the former pastor of the church, affectionately referred to simply as, "Preacher" -- he had been my husband's pastor for most of his life.  I found a picture of my husband and Preacher from our wedding.   It seemed a very apropos tribute.  They are both now free from the sufferings of this life on Earth.  They are experiencing the promise of Heaven. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Routines Again

I thought life would slow down at least a little bit with the kids back in school, but not so. 

We are definitely back in the routine of school -- uniforms, lunches, homework, etc.  I thought I'd have a bit more 'free time' when the kids went back to school, but my days are typically filled.  I'm doing projects around the house and working on keeping things 'on track'.    After the kids are in bed, my mind is too tired to focus much on writing.

I've referenced before that I have to take things at a different pace than I used to -- I have to be careful to not use all my energy while the kids are at school, because there has to be enough of me left to finish out the day with them.  Sometimes, that frustrates me -- I want to accomplish more at each setting, but I have to accept that this is my life circumstance, and I need to make the best of it.

Since my last post, my youngest turned 8 (and his arm has healed nicely).  Last year, his birthday was surrounded by all of our transfer-to-hospice events; and those were the things he thought about when he thought about his birthday.  I wanted to change that.  It wasn't anything major, but I did do a little more than I normally do -- we needed to create new birthday memories.  At the end of the day, he said to me, "This was the most special birthday - ever!"  I am thankful for new memories.

The kids and I were also able to take a two-day trip to Duluth.  None of us had ever been there, and the weather was perfect for our excursion.  We were able to visit Spyglass Point, Palisade Head, and Gooseberry Falls.  The second day, we were able to see the lift bridge, train museum, and visit some unique shops.  It was a good trip.

I know I haven't written much specifically about grieving.  Maybe I need to say something about that.  I am not denying my grief, nor am I trying to come across as being unaffected by it - as 'having it all together'.   The 'experts' will often say, grief is a very personal experience -- no two people experience it quite the same.  I would add that each experience for the same person differs from another. Though losing my husband and being thrust into the category of single-parenthood are certainly 'firsts' for me, this is not my first experience with grief.  I have lost others who were very dear to me, and I have grieved deeply.  Through those other experiences, I learned lessons.  Those realities affect how I am grieving this loss.  I do grieve.  I may just do it a little (or a lot) differently than the next person.

I mentioned previously (Marking Days) that I don't like remembering dates associated with difficult events, but it is a reality - and very much so lately.  One year ago, we were experiencing difficult days.  We were already under hospice care.  Trent had worked his final days at his job.  I knew when people called and asked to come visit that they were aware it may be the last time they would see him here on Earth.  We were in our final days at home.  Some days, I had to remind myself to breathe. 

It's hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since the day that I was told we might have only hours left together. . . .

While I cannot prevent those memories from coming to mind, I have a choice regarding what I do with those memories.  I could allow my mind to 'park' there; however, I don't believe that would be a beneficial choice.  When those memories come, I accept that reality as part of my life story, and I direct my mind to focus on how we got through those days -- through acknowledging God's control over all those circumstances we couldn't control, and thanking Him for who He is and the fact that He never changes.  He loves us, cares for us, and will never leave us -- and He has a plan for our lives.  That discipline has been key to this journey.  The tears come, but they don't stay.  Psalm 30:5 -- ". . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

I know of several people now facing difficult days -- some of them, it seems likely may end up losing their spouse.  It is hard to see that.  It's one thing for me to go through that -- it is another thing all together to watch someone else go through it.  Just as for myself, sometimes I can't find words to put to my prayers for them.  I am thankful our God knows our hearts, and He doesn't need our words in order to hear our prayers.  I know this -- the same God who has walked with me in this journey will walk with them, too.  The same peace and comfort and grace and presence that He has given me is available to them, as well.  He is ". . . the God of all comfort;  Who comforteth us . . ., that we may be able to comfort them . . . by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted. . . ."  (II Corinthians 1:3 - 4)  God is faithful, and that will never change. 

I am thankful God IS who He IS!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pause . . . and Back in Step

I've been absent from my blog for a while.  We have had a very, very busy summer here -- so much so that I hardly have time to stop and collect my thoughts.

The summer started with a three-day basketball program that my kids have done now for several years.  They look forward to it and always have a great time -- this year was no exception.

That week was also busy with vacation preparations, and the (early) morning after b-ball ended, we left for a much-needed vacation.  

Our first day of driving was quite a long one.  We had been on the road a couple of hours when my daughter commented to me that this was the first vacation that we were taking with just the four of us being our whole family.  (Sometimes she is a 'master of the obvious'.)  It was just a simple statement of fact, but that phrase, 'family of four' - has been hard to get used to.  I had to take a deep breath before replying to that one. . . .    The kids did great on the drive, and we arrived safe and sound.  We started out by visiting the Creation Museum.  We had heard about it, and the kids were really wanting to go.  They enjoyed it greatly.  Now, they talk about going back in a couple of years when the 'Ark Encounter' opens.  If you have the opportunity to go, you should.

From there, we continued on to Pensacola.  I hadn't been back there in 8 years, but having lived there for nearly 7 years, it always feels like 'going home' when I return.  We stayed with friends, and had a good visit.  I wanted to keep things simple, so I only made 2 promises to the kids for our time there -- the beach and the Naval Aviation Museum.  Both were a hit with the kids, and we even made a quick trip to Fort Pickens and they were able to see several osprey on the way.  My friend Amy did me worlds of good those days -- she had the meals planned for the week, and she decided our schedule, too.  That was such a blessing to not have to be in charge of every minute detail.  It was a wonderful reprieve!

After our all-too-short stay in Pensacola, we started the trek home.  My kids have heard me talk about Lambert's CafĂ© as a great memory from my college days, and I wanted them to have the experience, too.  We stopped there for dinner, and then I decided to drive 2 more hours before stopping for the night -- I wanted to make that last day of driving just a little bit shorter.

My oldest got the idea in his head that he would really like to see the Gateway Arch .  We were so close that I couldn't really turn him down, so that was our stop before we started the drive for the day.  The kids really liked getting to go to the top of the arch.  It was a good start to the day.

We arrived home late that evening, and we hit the ground running.  We have had one thing after another since we got back home. 

We have also had two birthdays this summer.  It started with my oldest turning 13!  The following month, my daughter hit double digits.

This week was our first week of the summer that nothing was on the schedule, and so we were finally able to make plans to meet up with some friends that we haven't seen in a long time.  We walked to the park near their home, and we had not been there even 2 minutes when my youngest fell and broke his wrist.  Now, we have several other things to add to our schedule and plans.  (Yes, he will be fine.  He's currently splinted well, and we should be getting a cast this coming week.)

The facility where I took him is the same place I took Trent initially last year.  I hesitated just a moment, knowing that sometimes memories can come on strong and kind of knock the wind out of a person.  I couldn't be a puddle of tears when I needed to focus on J's needs.  I prayed for God to rule my emotions.  I didn't have a problem going in there, but I had forgotten about the family medical history form and the fact that I would have to list his dad as 'deceased' -- that caught me off guard momentarily.  I breathed a quick prayer, and the 'moment' passed quickly as I felt God's strength and peace wash over me.  What a wonderful God we serve!

We are in full swing here preparing for camp.  Since my kids have food allergies, camp means that this mama has a great deal of work preparing their meals for the week.  I have two of my three that are old enough for camp this year.  I like to go along as kitchen help, and that is the plan again this year.  My youngest will get to spend the week with an aunt and uncle and cousins (though he's not sure about being away from me for those days), and it sounds like the schedule for follow-up appointments for his wrist should work out with that being a week we do not have to go in for a check. 

As soon as we return from camp, it will be time to get ready for the new school year.

It is rarely a dull moment around here.  There is always something needing to be done.  Just when I think there's a lull, things - like a broken wrist - pop up. 

Through all of our daily happenings, I see God's continual faithfulness and His wonderful blessings and care for us -- even in the circumstances surrounding J's broken wrist.  Since we had been planning to be out for the day, we had lunch packed.  That meant that the older two did not have to wait until 4 p.m. to have lunch.  It also was perfect in the setting.  Since there weren't others in the waiting room, the staff let my kids choose the channel on the TV ( and . . . since we don't really watch network TV, they chose PBS).  I didn't have to be concerned about what inappropriate content might be on the afternoon talk shows.  It is easy to second guess myself these days; and after I found out that the orthopedic clinic has a walk-in urgent care, I wondered if maybe I hadn't made the right choice about where to bring him initially.  God gave me reassurance today when I found out that the orthopedic clinic is not set up to do conscious sedation; so if we had gone there, J would have had to be awake when they set his arm (and it did not set easily).  I'm thankful God led me to the Urgency Room instead of the clinic.

So, that is a snapshot view of what our summer has been thus far.  We are keeping busy, for sure; and continuing to move forward, asking the LORD to show us the steps He would have us to take along this path He has put us on in life.  I am thankful for all the things that God has done for us in this journey and for who He is, and I look forward to what God has for us in His perfect plan.  God is good!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Marking Days

As much as I don't like to mark dates for when difficult things happen, I think it is just the way our human minds work.

It was one year ago today that we were told my husband had 'a mass'.  Not one of his doctors thought it was cancer.  They believed it was an inflamatory-type mass.  The worst they thought was that it could possibly be a Crohn's-related mass with damage to the intestine from the disease.  That day, we thought we were facing some kind of 'incident' in life -- something we would deal with and move on.  We had no idea that we were starting a journey which would change life forever.  I'm thankful that God knows the timelines of our lives from beginning to end and that He walks with us every step of the way.  This was unexpected by us, but - somehow - it fits into God's plan for our lives.

Looking back on the past year is interesting.  I think there are positive and negative aspects of looking back.  Sometimes, it is overwhelming to consider how much has happened since just one year ago.  In remembering, I have to be careful.  There are times when I feel drawn into those events and all the emotions that went along with them.  I think it would be easy to put myself in a downward spiral if I allowed my mind to dwell on the past for too long.

The positive aspect of looking back, I think, is in reflecting -- calling to mind the ways that God blessed and provided and comforted -- purposing to see His goodness through all those events -- asking Him to help me learn the lessons intended for me.

This past year was one that required me to actively live out what I believe.  I think, often, we live through the daily routines without giving much thought to our beliefs.  Those beliefs don't feel as though they are being tested every day of our lives.  I say I trust God, that I've surrendered all areas of my life to Him -- This past year I had to actively live that out.  I had to purposely acknowledge that God was in control of my life and had to consciously decide to submit to His plan for my life.  I also say that I want to be obedient to God.  God says in His Word, "In everything give thanks."  Purposing to be thankful, I believe, was key to having God's peace and comfort through it all.  (Psalm 28:13  "I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.")

As much as this one-year mark causes me to look back, it also causes me to look forward.  One year ago today, I had no idea what the days ahead of me would hold.  Even so, today, I have no idea what the days yet to come will hold.  I believe with all my heart that God has a plan.  I'm glad life isn't a matter of happenstance.  I am thankful that God is all powerful and all knowing, full of love and mercy, and never changing.   I look forward to the future because I believe that if I am obedient to His leading, He will be my constant companion in the days to come.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


There is an emotional place in grief where time loses its normal sense of being - a time warp, if you will.  It is the meeting place of "I can't believe it has been 'x' amount of time already" and "It feels like forever ago."  It is easy to feel a little lost in that place.  I believe it is part of the process.

I realized this week that it feels like I've been starting to move beyond that place.  All of the events of this past year, all of the things we went through that concluded with Trent's death have a consistent sense of moving further into the past as we encounter each new day.

The days are passing more quickly, and there is a definite pattern to our days.  We are getting a new 'rhythm' -- that pace and flow of daily life.  I have had to make many adjustments to my old rhythm.  I have to pace myself differently than before.  Some of those adjustments are temporary, and  some are more permanent.  The kids are learning this new 1-parent household has to have some different rhythms from the simple fact that mom is only one person, and she has her limitations.

Most of the things that have needed relatively-immediate attention have been taken care of, and the remaining layers of details have a less pressing nature about them.  It is a good thing.

I am trying to plan something of a vacation this summer.  I'm not very good at making plans; and I really don't have a lot of energy to 'go and do' a bunch of things.  I have a few ideas for trying to balance my kids' desires to be actively 'doing' things and my own desire for calm and rest.  I'm working on that - even if it is slowly.

The past few weeks, I am hearing the kids talk about their dad more.  It is all part of the cycles of grief.  My youngest wanted to take something very special to school for Show and Tell.  Trent and I had picked out custom music boxes for the kids as a gift from him to keep forever, and Jonathan wanted to show his class.   I was hesitant to let it go to school because I know it would be terrible heartbreak if something happened to it, but I heard it once - and then twice - and then a third time.  When I said he could show his class, but that I would bring it and give it to his teacher, he talked about it every day until the appointed day arrived.  This was a big thing to him.  I'm glad we were able to work it out.  He had a great sense of satisfaction afterward.  Somehow, that fit into his grieving process, and it was a good thing for him.

There have been several necessary discussions with the kids lately about focusing on the good things in life.  I shared with them how God had impressed on my heart last year when this all began that I needed to look for the blessings.  I believe heeding that prompting made all the difference in this last year.  I don't want it to seem that I am denying that things were tough -- they were, indeed; but I don't want to dwell on the difficulties.  I want my children to learn to focus on the good.  We, of course, have talked about the things that people have done for us and the ways that God provided for us.  It was needed to talk about those things again, and so we did.  We are making it a regular practice now to purposely discuss the blessings of the day.

I am thankful for God's consistent presence and comfort.  I am thankful for the new rhythms in life.  Each new day is an opportunity to acknowledge God in our lives - and opportunity to seek His direction, to obey His leading, to honor Him with our lives, and to see His faithfulness and goodness.  I want to be purposeful in doing those things.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


One step at a time, one day at a time, we are moving forward.

These days are characterized by routines.  It's a good thing.  The routines that have been in place have helped life to feel stable for the kids.  They are doing well.  My youngest still struggles a bit more than the other two.  He is the one who wrestles with insecurity.  It will take a while to rebuild a sense of security with him, but we will get there in time.

I am doing OK, too.  Some days are more difficult than others, but God sustains.  There are days when my mind tries to re-live moments from the past year.  There is a fine line between remembering and re-living.  The latter is not a healthy way to try to live.  God gave me grace to go through those moments.  That grace was for each day as I faced it.  Just as I did then, I need to live each day now with the grace that God gives me specifically crafted for today.  I cannot borrow from the past.

I still feel somewhat unsettled when it comes to finding a new 'fit' in life.  Several of the old 'places' I held are now gone.  I know it will come with time, but it is not easy to feel out of place so often.  I frequently must remind myself that who I am is not defined by what I do or what title I have.  My sense of who I am and where I am in life must be founded in Christ.

This month has gone by quickly.  I've been able, though, to get many details taken care of.  There are more details to which I still need to attend.  There are also decisions I need to make.  There is a part of me that wants to rush forward and just get it all done, but I need to be sure that I'm making the right decisions and taking the right steps.  It is a very different position to be solely responsible for every decision that must be made and every action that is taken.  I am thankful for good counsel.

Through everything that this past year held, and through everything we face now or will face in the future, I have absolute confidence that God has been, is, and will be with us.  To be candid, yes, I do wonder sometimes what God's purpose and plan are for some of the things we have experienced; but that is where faith fits in this scheme of life.  I would love to have all the answers, but that is God's place to choose to reveal them to me - or not.  I don't need to have the answers in order to be able to trust.  Even without knowing His purpose, I can still trust that He has one.

I am looking forward to what God has for us ( and I am trying to be patient ).  God is good, and He works the details of our lives for our good and for His Glory.  My prayer is that I will be submissive to His will, and that His working will be evident in our lives.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A New Year

The year of 2013 has come to an end.  At its beginning, we never could have envisioned the things we would encounter throughout its course.  It was quite a year.

I know God was with us each step of the way.

The past couple of weeks have been busy.  Trent's memorial service was on Dec. 20th.  So many people, both near and far away, showed great love and support. 

Immediately following, we were busy with preparations for Christmas.  I kept things as simple as possible.  Christmas Eve, we attended church together; and Christmas Day, the four of us had a nice, quiet day at home.  It has been good to be back together.

Today, I returned to the 2-year-old Children's Church class.  I've missed 'my kids'.  I have worked in this class for almost 16 years.  Trent and I used to work it together.  I wasn't sure how it would feel going back in there, but it felt good -- good to be back in a place of ministry.

I have been asked a couple of times how life feels now.  I don't have an answer for that question.  There is no doubt that life is different now; but the fact is that our lives have been so far removed from 'normal' for so long that there just isn't a comparison.  Life is just life - one day at a time.  There have been several adjustments -- and there will be many more.  We will face each one as it comes.

We are still working on establishing that 'new normal'.  This week, school will resume, and I think it will be good for the kids to get back in that routine.

Through everything that 2013 was, I am thankful for the ways that God revealed Himself to us.  He worked in our lives in a big way.  I hope that we learned the lessons He had for us.  I hope I will always remember His Presence and Grace and Peace that He afforded us.

I don't know what 2014 holds for us, but I don't worry about it.  I know that God has a plan for us for this coming year.  I pray we will be open to His leading in our lives.  I pray God allows us to be a blessing to others this coming year as so many have been to us.