Saturday, April 23, 2011

Brick Wall

“But mostly, I cried because my life had been going full speed for so long and now it had just stopped, like running right into a big brick wall, knocking the wind and the fight right out of me. And I didn’t know if I’d ever even wanted to get up and start breathing again.”
- Sarah Dessen

I saw this quote on another widow's blog.  She said that this quote embodied her feelings on the day her husband died and the months and years that followed.

Like this widow, I never thought I’d be here.
Steve gone.  Me alone.

I loved that man with all my heart.  We had a good life...with hills and valleys, as any other marriage.  But it was the life I wanted...he wanted.  I couldn't wait to grow old with this generous, wonderful, wise, goofy man.

I'll grow old without him.  But I will have to live.
LIVE...not exist. 

Steve would be so disappointed if I curled up in my room and refused to face the world.  He would want me to set new goals, go on adventures, find new joys... He taught me HOW to really live a life with no boundaries.  I would dishonor him to live in a box.

Like my fellow widow who said the winds of time and her husband's love helped her to come to the realization that she would have to get up....and start breathing once again.
There is so much truth in her words, and I will hold her wisdom close to my heart...

I hit the wall…
But I stood up.
I’m standing.
Now I need to live.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

It’s Good Friday.  This special day takes on new meaning for me this year.  I wonder…how do they celebrate Good Friday in Heaven?  Is it a time of joy or is this day a bittersweet mixture of awe and angst? 

My sweet Steve is celebrating Good Friday with Jesus.  I’m pretty sure he sees the significance of this day from a much different perspective than I do here on earth.  I take this High Holy Day far too much for granted.  I am sometimes ambivalent about its import.  When you receive your eternal reward, I believe that then you truly understand and appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made for us on Calvary. 

So, Steve, enjoy this Holy Day.  I can only imagine the glory you are a part of right now.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Turn the Page

"One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us."  
~Michael Cibenko

How do I move forward when I am so rooted in the past?  Every memory, every event, every milestone, every special date, every life changing moment has my husband in it. How do I embrace my memories without allowing them to be a cage that traps me in the past and robs me of a future? I cannot erase 34 years of my life…those years have molded me and made me into the person I am today. 

It is hard to envision a future without Steve in it.  Our life together wasn’t perfect, but it was good.  I knew at the end of the day that I was loved, protected, and trusted by him.  Now I face the long stretch of life without him.  It is daunting…frightening…seemingly impossible.  And yet, I press on.

Friends advise me that I will find a new normal.  I’m not there yet.  Nothing is normal.  The grief is too fresh…the wounds are too deep…and there are estate and legal affairs not in order.  I keep telling myself…when this happens…then I’ll begin to live again.  When this happens, I can get on with my life.  When this happens, I’ll make some major but necessary decisions regarding finances and property.  There are too many “whens”…   I’m waiting for Paul Harvey to say, “And now…for the rest of the story…”

I have chosen to live, but I’m not really living….yet.  I know that God has the rest of my story already written.  I need to get the courage to turn the page and start reading.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Receive Comfort – Give Comfort

 In the weeks leading up to Easter, my Sunday School lessons have been on grief.  My pastor did a sermon series on marriage.  Needless to say, I wanted to skip church all together until both of these topics had been exhausted.  However, I am very active in my church, as it brings me so much joy to be in the house of the Lord, to sing in the choir, and to worship collectively with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  So deliberately missing church is a foreign concept for me.  My pastor completely understood my need to miss the marriage sermons.  I did try…attending a few…but it was too much.  However, the Sunday School lessons on grief were actually a great comfort.  I got to share with my class my insights and struggles.  I also learned a lot from them.  Below are some gems of wisdom I gathered from the lessons.

  • No matter what the circumstances, God will provide the resources I need.
  • God’s power means no circumstance can steal the joy and peace I have in Christ.
  • Because HOPE is focused on the living Christ, I have confidence.  I also have the opportunity to show hope to others.
  • Rather than majoring on my pain and frustrations, I need to manage things with God’s approaches. (Phil 4:8, 1 Peter 2:1)
  • I need to turn my worry into concrete actions.  When I need help, I need to ask for it.  I must seek God’s direction and follow each turn. (1 John 3:18)
  • Investing in other people will help me take my eyes off my own pain.  Encouraging others in their needs will help me deal with my own needs. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Troubles, difficulties, and even suffering cannot stop goodness.  I can choose to be good, to do good, and to find good.
  • I can grieve with hope.  Jesus grieved (John 11:35-36), so I know grief is good when done well.  Jesus’s tears demonstrated that my grieving is okay…and that it is unhealthy to bury my grief.  There are seasons for grieving…and this is my season.
  • God is the source of all my comfort. God gives His own presence.  Sometimes He also offers a person or a memory to comfort me.  Sometimes His comfort is strength to move on, a strategy for managing, or a motivation to doggedly put one foot in front of the other and persevere (Isaiah, 40:31).
  • God does not comfort me just to make me feel more comfortable.  God expects me to pass along to others the comfort I receive from Him.
  •  Satan is the father of lies.  Confusingly, Satan sometimes masquerades as offering comfort.  However the “comfort” that Satan offers will leave me feeling empty and needing even more comfort.
  • Prayer is a powerful resource, not only during my time of grief, but also in my reaching out to be a comfort to others.  When I am talking to God, I am more open to hearing God’s ways to help others or myself.

So…take comfort when you need it.  Give comfort to others always.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Change of Scenery

There is something healing about a change of scenery.  I have chosen the surf, sun, and sand for this week.  I am here with good friends, most of whom have been through a trial in the near past.  We're calling this the Wounded Warriors Tour II.  (We went on a different trip in January.)  Last night was particularly cathartic.  Yes, there were tears, but we were able to cry and support and talk about our wounds and worries.  Bottling up emotions is always, in the end, damaging.  There is something liberating about taking off your mask and revealing all your scars. I awoke this morning refreshed and revitalized.

I am learning (slowly) how important it is to take care of take time away from all the chaos of my life and retreat to a place to recharge my batteries.  Getting away from my "nest" with a gaggle of gal pals has brought a glow back to my life.  For this I am so thankful.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sad Sad Birthday Without You

Happy Birthday to me.  It's my first without Steve.  He always made a big deal out of my birthday and I will miss whatever surprise he had in store for me.  My sweet, sweet sons gave me a new set of dishes...something I have wanted for a while.  I didn't even have to remind them it was my birthday, which makes me smile and cry at the same time.  While I am blessed to have friends and family to love me through this first birthday without my husband, I am still missing him.  I don't think this feeling ever goes away.  
The poem below is by Holly Nicole Williams and it appropriately mirrors my mixed emotions today. 
Blow out the candles
Make a wish
Blow up some balloons
Fix my favorite dish
Laugh with friends
Open some gifts
Hugs and kisses from family
Nothing left to miss
All except for you...
All my birthday wishes mean nothing
If I don't have you.

It's gonna be a sad sad birthday without you
There will be no hug
There will be no kiss
No card to me from you
Your very presence I'll miss
No wishes to come true
It's gonna be a sad sad birthday without you.

I'll laugh out loud
I'll chit chat with friends
But you'll be in my thoughts
Time and time again
I'll see everyone's smiling faces
All except for one
Everything in it's place
All except for one.

No card to me from you
No wishes to come true
It's gonna be a sad sad birthday without you. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

I'll Always Be With You

"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  But the most important thing is, even if we're apart...I'll always be with you."  Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

A sweet, sweet friend sent this clip to me today and said, "When I think about you, I always think about this." It's been years since I read Winnie the Pooh and I don't think I've ever seen the movie.  But that line....that line moved me.  It moved me in ways I can't explain.  It was almost as if Steve were speaking directly to me. 

Steve always told me that I was my worst critic and that I was consistently too hard on myself.  He was a brillant man, so I never felt I measured up to him.  However, he told me many times that I was so much smarter than he was.  Recently, one of Steve's dearest friends sent me a Facebook message and shared something remarkable with me.  Steve told him some time ago that I was "the rock of the family...we pull our strength from her. She gets this from her mother, but she is much stronger than her mother."  I have never felt strong...but I was bolstered by those words.  Maybe I am stronger than I think or seem.

I do believe I have courage...but it’s definitely borrowed.  Any courage I have comes from God Himself.  Jesus said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."  If Jesus can overcome the world....He certainly can handle all I am going through and help ME overcome my tribulation.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heaven is for Real

I have been reading a book entitled Heaven is for Real. It's about a 3 year old who went through a medical trauma and experienced time in Heaven. The details of his "time" in Heaven were remarkable. I enjoyed reading the book, but the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking....why do I need a three year old to tell me Heaven is real. I KNOW Heaven is real.

God's Word does not lie and it reveals to us the truth about Heaven. Philippians 3:30-21 tells us, "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." Jesus said in John 14:1-3, , "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

There is a lot I don't know about Heaven. I don't know what we'll look like....or what age we'll be.....or if we have the same personalities. I'm not really sure I care. However, these things I know with certainty: Heaven is real. God lives in Heaven and waits for my arrival. My husband is in Heaven. I will be reunited with him one day. That's enough for me.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I am a talker. During my school years I spent quite a bit of time in the naughty corner for my incessant talking.  My third grade teacher accused me of having "diarrhea of the mouth." But my youthful indiscretions as a chatterbox were something I turned into a profession.  As a teacher, I essentially talk for a living.  Communication is as natural for me as breathing.  I can pretty much talk my way into or out of just about anything.  I love a good conversation. Weirdly, I even like talking to strangers.

But lately, I don't want to talk.  I have nothing to say.  It is almost painful to communicate. I spend all day aching to get home to the quiet of my bedroom where I don't have to talk to anyone. I can tell this need for silence troubles my closest friends, but I honestly believe it is a normal stage of my grief.  It is comforting and it feels right.  Scripture tells me in Romans 10:17 that " comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." I can't hear God when I am talking.  I need to hear God's voice right now.  I ache to hear His voice, and I can only do that when I am silent.

Spring break is only four days away and it can't come too soon.  It is my hope that removing myself from “real” life for a week of rest and relaxation at the coast will revitalize me and get me back on track. There is something healing about sand, surf, and sun.  I'm looking forward to taking my "prescription."


Monday, April 4, 2011


"But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more." Psalm 71:14

Hope.  Such a little word....only four syllable.  Oh, but the great power of hope can not be measured.  George Iles said,“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.”  I've had my hand out in the dark for many long months.  Today, I see a ray of light on one of the dark paths I am traveling.

Because everything has come crashing down on me the last few weeks, I have let dispair creep into my heart and mind.  However, I never completely let go of hope. And today, something remarkable happened.  Out of this chaos, little pieces are beginning to fall into place. Granted, it's only a small corner of the puzzle, but it's a start....and positive one. 

One day I hope to see it ALL come together...that what I have prayed fervently for has finally come to be.  But right now, I'm just thanking God for this small vision of what could be. Won't it be grand to look back and see what has passed and know that the fingerprints of God were all over it?  Oscar Wilde said, "What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise."  I think, in this circumstance, Mr. Wilde was dead on.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

There is a Time....

Adversity and change in our lives certainly develops our character or reveals our lack of it.  I've discovered that I'm stronger than I ever thought possible....I can tackle difficult tasks with fewer and fewer tears....I'm trusing myself when I make decisions rather than giving in to paralyzing second guessing....and I'm developing a sense of empowerment when I manage to clear hurtles that once seems impossibly high. While I am enjoying this new found growth, I have mentioned to God on more than one occasion that I've had enough character development to last a lifetime.   

Eccleastes 3:6 says there is, "...a time to gain, and a time to lose." I am very familiar with the loss part.  What my life was, is no more.  I'm floundering in limbo....lost between the past I knew and the future I don't.  There is no road map for this landmarks I recognize.....even the language and people are different.  I know that God can transform every ending into a new beginning, but what I am supposed to do between the old ending and the new beginning?

Again, Eccleastes 3:4-6 provides an answer.  Right I process my old ending....I am to weep, mourn, throw away stones, refrain from embracing, keep things, and open my eyes and heart wide for something new.....a new beginning.  In this new beginning I will laugh, dance, gather stones, embrace, throw the old away, and stop looking....for what I'm not sure.  But I think I'll stop looking because God has sent what I need.


Saturday, April 2, 2011


"Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time—just like it does for you and me." --Sara Paddison

Death brings out the best and worst in people.  I have been amazed at the outpouring of love showered on me and my family, some by people I barely know.  I have received expressions of sympathy and support from friends lost by distance and time....calls and visits by acquaintances who felt the need to reach out and to tell me how much my husband meant to them or kindnesses he extended to them.  I've had students at my school that I don't teach write sweet "cards" on folded notebook paper.  For these things I am truly blessed.

Conversely, I have been disturbed, dismayed, and destraught over the inattention of those who should be loving me through this horrible time.  I understand that we all process the death of a loved one differently, but that can not be an excuse to avoid a grieving widow and her children.  At first I was shocked by this situation....then wounded.....and now, I am becoming bitter.  I do not want to be bitter...bitterness is a poison pill that will eat me up from the inside out. I know I can not change these people nor can I ever expect them to understand why I am so hurt.  So, I have to release them AND my need for their attention and help.  I have to forgive them and move on.