Nature

Nature

Saturday, December 27, 2014

...who has felt the stone?

We've finally reached the other side of Christmas. It's the 27th, and even though there are still some extended family celebrations planned, the main events are now part of our family's history.

I took few pictures. (I even forgot the video camera for the church Christmas program.) I'm usually quite the shutterbug, so this was unusual for me. I'm not sure what was wrong. It's as though I felt recording the events would in some way be recording the pain as well. Strange, I know. But it's what was.

I felt disconnected from much of what was going on. Survival seemed to be the ultimate goal rather than enjoyment. Christmas Day felt no different from December 29th. It was another day to get up, perform my duties as mother, to survive... Strange, maybe, but it's what was.

I dreaded the special holiday because of the emotion it normally evokes. I dreaded the memories of last year's Christmas which seem to be trumping all other memories. I knew it would all be different, feel differently, affect me differently...I was expecting that. What I guess I didn't expect is the horrible loneliness, the ache, the deep gnawing sense of grief that came back for so much of the month of December. For quite some time, I had been able to say I had more good days than bad. Not in December. It has been dreadful. I suppose more of this is due to the approaching one year anniversary of Michael's death rather than Christmas itself. There have been many moments in which I've honestly thought a mental breakdown will be arriving before January 17th does. Strange? Probably, but it's what was.

I listened to Christmas music, yes.  But not "our" songs. I couldn't bring myself to do so. It was too tender a place in which to venture. Sometimes grief processing requires me to surround myself with all things Michael...other times the pain is so deep that I am completely unable to "touch" them. Strange? Most likely. But it's what was. 

I pray my children survive without any lasting damage...I've done my best to separate my pain from their performance or behavior and continue to let them know how much I adore them. And I worked my hardest to make sure Christmas could be as special as it's ever been for them. But I've checked out more this month as a parent than in a long while. There has definitely been overspending in the "dining out" portion of the budget. That does not make me proud. Michael wouldn't have wanted to eat out that much. So it bothers me. But I've had to do it some days just to survive with our family relationships all still intact. Strange? I don't think so, but for sure, it's what was.

There have been some extremely precious moments this Christmas. And I do my best to not lose sight of them. They are special, sweet reminders that God is still loving on us. He has not forgotten us in the pain. 
I have felt deep connections with my children as tears have coursed down our cheeks. 
I have sensed the Lord's help and sweet presence in the writing and recording of a special song. 
We have been wrapped in love by the generosity of a youth group and the wonderful gifts they carefully chose, packaged, and sent to us; generous gifts from family; and some delightful packages from one of Michael's former bosses. 
We were carried through the busyness of the church Christmas program with strength and health and (somewhat) clear minds. 
We were encouraged by conversations and sweet notes from family and friends who let us know they were carrying us in prayer faithfully. 
We were blessed with quick recovery from the illness that finally caught up with us this week.

Yesterday, I was stunned to receive a cashier's check for a very generous amount...from my "Guardian Angel!" It humbled me. It shook me to my core. No, I've not worried, per se, but I've felt a few fleeting moments of panic at how quickly the money was flying out of our account here at the end of the year.  

But receiving this today revealed to my bruised reed of a heart that my God was not just answering prayers for Michael - He is also answering prayers for me! I am loved! Truly loved and cared for by an amazing and all-sufficient Savior! In fact, I would have to say I'm truly spoiled! He has supplied every need!!! And so many of our desires as well!! Praise be to the One true God Who fulfills as His promises! 

I cling to those promises. I depend on those promises! I live and breathe those promises for provision, care, strength, and grace!

Why?

Because I'm experiencing this new level of grief...it's not the same outburst of strong emotion, pound the pillow, scream till my throat is raw kind of grief. That kind comes, flows over me, then passes leaving me exhausted, but able to face the next day with some measure of sanity. 

This is different. 

It has crept in and around me, swallowing me whole. It is a deep down, soul bruising, bruised reed trampling, dark tunnel, bone-ache, physical weight kind of grief. That's the best I can do at describing it. It has commandeered my life for days now. And it's only grown worse. 

"Grief, according to him, was like a large stone tied to your heart. 
Grief is a feeling you carry inside, a heaviness of spirit. 

Mourning, on the other hand, is best described as putting the grief on the outside. 
Mourning is the public expression of grief."
~ from Life after the Death of My Son, Dennis Apple

That's it. It's a stone...a boulder, if you will, tied tightly around my heart. And it goes with me everywhere...even into my dreams. Mourning - that outward sign of the grief - comes and goes. 

As I heard another, "sometimes you just have to keep living until you can feel alive again."

So, this post wasn't terribly profound, nor was it exquisitely written, but at this point I'm beyond endeavoring to impress. It just is what it is...



In celebration of Michael's love of God's creative design in sunsets as well as his solid and visible testimony to the faithfulness of that same God, I created a calendar for the new year to give as gifts. I wanted to share the photos with you all.

Each month's photo was taken in that same month in 2013; and each Scripture was one Michael highlighted or marked in his favorite Bible. 

Best wishes for blessings on your new year!
I pray you are encouraged as you enjoy these photos
and read the Scriptures...

























P. S. I'm not a watermark fan from the standpoint that I'm not trying to promote any business nor draw unnecessary attention to my very amateurish photography, but it has been pointed out that it would be prudent to protect the photos in some manner. Thus, the addition of the watermarks. Thank you for your understanding.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

...remembering??

It's late again. It seems that's when I usually get around to writing these things.

This time, I'm in the living room by the lit Christmas tree. I've overridden the timer so it will stay on tonight. I can't stand complete darkness right now.

Christmas music is playing very softly from www.HolinessMusic.com...Michael's favorite music (Christmas) using his favorite technology (internet) through the avenue of his own creation (the internet music station).

I've succeeded in keeping myself distracted most of the day. But now those distractions must cease...I must try to sleep. But in the void of this quiet night, the memories rush in to take control of my emotions and sleep becomes unattainable.

I sit in the location of the hospital bed procured one year ago today -
Monday, December 9, 2013.

It was one of the most dreadful days of this ordeal.

I resisted the invasion of hospice into the sanctuary of my home.
I resisted the admission that Michael had reached the point where hospice was necessary.
I resisted the acknowledgement that he would never sleep in his own bed again.
I resisted the commanding presence of the clinical hospital bed in my living room.

I knew it had to be. Yet with everything in me, I pushed it away.

Family members came to see us. They interacted with the children and we all tried to grapple with the new development.

Friends stopped by. They brought with them a generous offering that had been taken for our family just the night before. By the time they arrived, I was about as close to "basket-case" status as I could be and still be in "public." Instead of condemning, they quietly checked on me, too, giving a hug, sharing tears, understanding my fears...

It felt we were now a spectacle in some ways. I know that wasn't anyone's intent, but in my state of emotional panic, I didn't want our living room, my peaceful sanctuary, to become a display case or a commons where any and all could come and go at will. Maybe those thoughts were due to my introverted nature, maybe not. Maybe it was that I felt our "safe place" was being ripped away from us. I felt desperate to claim something as my own personal space where no one could intrude.

I distinctly remember the panic I felt...the deep-seated fear that gripped my heart.
It was NOT time to give up!!! I couldn't lose him so soon!!!  We had just gotten this whole true love in marriage thing really and truly figured out!! All we thought we knew the day we joined hearts and hands in marriage became tested and tried, purified and real and we finally had a grasp of what true unity of heart means. We had been through so much together...and I didn't want to face the next steps in this journey without my companion.

I'm not sure at what point I finally calmed down.

To make that day a bit easier for the children, we gave them an early Christmas present - their "Daddy" blankets. They immediately fell in love with them, and have used them almost every day since.




So here I am. It's been a year since that day.
I've scurried around Christmas shopping, ornament decorating, gift creating, list making, program preparing, cleaning, schooling, remembering...stressing...remembering more.

I'm no busier than any other mom this season. I am just finding my tolerance for stress greatly decreased. It breaks me much more quickly than before. So as the memories rush all around me every day as I do my best to continue fulfilling my duties, my heart feels battered and bruised. My "nerves" are edgy and strung tightly.

And I just want to hide in a hole. I feel like hibernating until spring. I don't want to face all that the days ahead flaunt in my face. January 16 is looming in the distance, too. I don't WANT to have made it a year without Michael.  In some ways, I don't WANT to be okay.  I need him!!!

But my God is still here - beckoning me to keep trying to "live until I can feel alive again."
He keeps whispering in my heart that these precious children need me to be what Michael can no longer be for them - an active parent, stability, and support.
And the coolest part? He keeps giving me what I need to fulfill that role!!!  I worry at times that I ask too often and beg too much of my dear heavenly Father...but I also know that there is really no way that I can accomplish one task without Him!

The devil wants me to get so focused on my own emotional journey and grief that I cannot accomplish any Kingdom good. And sometimes he comes extremely close to succeeding. Then Jesus reminds me of others who are carrying heavy loads, grieving lost loved ones, finding the world cruel, and needing a word of encouragement, a prayer for peace and strength...and the way becomes clear before me again.

Nothing is accomplished through self-pity.

So once again, I will feel these emotions thoroughly.
I will journal and blog.
I will process them, then lay them down and move on - because God asks it of me, and my children need this of me.
But it won't be in my own strength. God alone gives me breath and life. He alone can help me find the other side of this tunnel. He has been so preciously patient and near to me. I can never adequately express my love for Him...

But He said to me, 
"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." 
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may reside in me. 
~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9


Many times I'm tried and tested 
As I travel day by day 
Oft I meet with pain and sorrow 
And there's trouble in the way. 
But I have a sweet assurance 
That my soul the Lord will lead 
And in Him there is strength for every need. 

O, His grace is sufficient for me. 
And His love is abundant and free. 
And what joy fills my soul, 
Just to know, just to know 
That His grace is sufficient for me. 
-Mosie Lister (christiansongoftheday.blogspot.com)

I know it will be there when I need it...that grace is boundless. So I'll rest now with the promise of Jesus's tender care forefront in my heart and mind. 

And I'll attend the brass concert Tuesday evening (December 9, 2014) expecting to shed a few tears, yes, but also fully intending to enjoy it as thoroughly as I always did with Michael by my side!!

After all, isn't HE hearing the most amazing music of all???

Remembering, yet resting in the promises,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

...who is still awake?

It's the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house,
    (it's late...more like the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day...)
Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
    (I'm up. Shouldn't be, but I am.)
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 
   (well, actually, the Christmas trees are up, and a few other things are out, but no stocking as of yet...we got back from a week away last night, worked on decorating today, and it ain't done yet. I HOPE I'll have time to finish it up somewhere along the way...)
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; 
    (Oops...not that either. Some in this house are anxious for Christmas to arrive, though.)
The children were nestled all snug in their beds; 
     (FINALLY!  One I can actually work with here...)
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
     (??? I don't think so, but poor little Karson may be dreaming about his daddy....)

*My apologies to Clement Clark Moore - I won't trespass on any more of your wonderful poem!

I found this tonight underneath Karson's very own little Christmas tree...

Yup...it's a brown box "wrapped" with torn bits of white printer paper and labeled
 "from Kars to Daddy."

My heart broke when I saw it. And I haven't had the courage to ask what might be inside.
Is it wrong to ask God to grant me a wish? 
This would be my wish for this night...
That the dear little boy sleeping peacefully under his Mater and Finn McMissile comforter would be blessed with a very special and clear dream about his daddy.
A dream that comforts his precious heart with the certain knowledge that his daddy is okay and truly in that wonderful place we call Heaven.

I've worked hard today - catching up on household tasks since we were away for a week, putting out as many Christmas things as I had reasonable time and energy to manage. Underlying it all has been a fearful dread of tomorrow. 
The lights on the nine foot tree in my living room have gone out for now. It seems symbolic in a way. Once I got the tree up last year, Michael never ever wanted the lights turned off. He almost seemed to associate the light with hanging on to life...as though letting it go out might bring an end to his time here with us. For that very reason, I have kept white lights lit on our silk fycus tree in the corner since about January 11. I can no longer stand a completely darkened house.
 
Back to tomorrow...or today, in all reality. 

Why do I dread it so much? Well, that question requires a complicated answer, but a couple of quick reasons are these: 
Thanksgiving Day of 2013 was the last time Michael and I really did anything that even came close to resembling a date. And it was pretty unexciting as dates go. The kids were off to a family event. We had planned to get some dinner at Cracker Barrel, but the wait was over two hours, so we ordered take-out and got it in twenty minutes. We brought it back to the house where he sat in his hospital bed, and we ate together and shared a few moments of precious time together before he began to feel a need for rest. 
The second reason I've dreaded this day is that from this point on in 2013, Michael's health dramatically plummeted. He only left the house three times after that day...the last being to head to the hospice house where he then left not just the house, but this world! Memories are now flying thicker and faster than before...and it's not going to change until sometime after January 16...

So I'm endeavoring to do my best to do Thanksgiving and Christmas as I'm supposed to. But I just may have to give myself permission tomorrow to skip part of the day's activities and spend some time alone. It may be what I have to do. I've pushed myself so hard at different times this past year to do what duty demands of me, do pull myself together for my children, and to be the kind of daughter/in-law/church member/friend I should be...

I have no idea when it's okay to say NO because of my own personal feelings
because it feels like I'm doing it all wrong - 
basing a decision on my own emotional desires seems so selfish. 

How do I know when it's okay to grant myself permission to hide away?

I know I have an amazing support group. I know how abundantly blessed I am. I am extremely grateful to my sweet Heavenly Father for caring for me so thoroughly and completely. He has led me to the right people, He has stepped in to help me with decisions, He has lifted my spirits time and time again. He has carried me and granted me strength. He has kept us safe and worked out details out of my control. 

He gave His life so that Michael could have eternal life in Heaven.
He gave His life so that we could follow Michael there some glorious day.

I am truly, truly blessed beyond measure.

But this day still hurts.
And there will be more that will hurt. 
I know that.
I also know that somehow, some way it will all work out okay. 
Because God said He would care for me.

And there's no doubt He will...

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB)

"Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous?
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God 
is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

God said it. And I'm believin' it the best I can. Now I'm going to do my best to get some sleep...





Sunday, November 23, 2014

...who loves a safe place?

Safe places...

All of us search for them.
Sometimes we find them.

And we want to stay.
But ofttimes we can't.

Safe places may include people.
They may not.

They may be close by.
They may be far away.

Safe places may be literal places or emotional ones.
Safe places may be easy to run to or difficult to access.

We can be refreshed in our safe places.
We can be strengthened after a visit to our safe places.
We can be real in our safe places.
We can find God in our safe places.

My safe places vary but one of mine is my walk-in closet.
Strange, I know. But it's my "at-home" safe place.
There I can hide away...away from the outside world...
          and I can surround myself with things of comfort without fear of judgment.
There I can cry, pound Michael's clothes in frustration, or pray with my face to the floor...
And no one can hear me.

Another safe place for me is where I am now.
I brought my children with me and we are staying with family who have become best friends.
We have been here for a little over a week, the goal being refreshment, relaxation, and rejuvenation before we head into the memory-fraught holidays which will be closely followed by the one-year anniversary of Michael's homegoing.

These friends have known all the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past four years and I've never once felt an ounce of critical judgment from them.
Instead, they have made million-mile trips to be with us in time of crisis, they have carried us in prayer and listened to me sobbing over the phone.  They have opened their home to us many times and begged us to come here so they can take care of us for a little while.
This family is one of my safe places...

These coming weeks terrify me. The memories of Michael's rapidly failing health have already been haunting me.

So the idea of some time in my safe place seemed logical...appealing...and, well, safe.
So...here I am. This week has been wonderful!
But as with all good things, this, too, must come to an end.

Why can't we sequester ourselves eternally in our safe places?
Why doesn't God let us?

Maybe it's because if we did, we would remain focused on ourselves...
...our own needs and desires...

We would never be urged to reach outside ourselves.
We would never be able to touch the lives of those around us.
We would also never be blessed by the lives of those around us.


We must become vulnerable in order to give and receive
what each of us desires most...love.

So tomorrow, I must leave this safe place, this retreat, and head back home to my responsibilities,
my memories, my struggles, my ministries...
...my blessings! my beautiful home! my loving family members! my support group!
...my memories...of the good times...of the ways in which God has shown His care and mercy...of the love and laughs shared!

I will cry as I leave, but as much as I want to stay, I know I can't.
Because if I did, I'd never witness just how dependable my God is.
If I did, I'd never know just what I'm capable of through God's grace and strength.
If I did, I'd never experience the helpfulness of the support group God has provided for us.
If I did, I'd never be able to testify to the faithfulness of God to keep and protect, to be a Father to the fatherless and a Husband to the widow.

So I'll go. And I'll know that another time, when I need it, this safe place will be available to me again...but for a short time only.

Because that's the way it has to be until I reach that ultimate Safe Haven where Jesus Himself is the Light....where there is no pain...where there are no tears...where there is no darkness...

...and I'll NEVER EVER EVER have to leave...


Longing for that day with every fiber of my being,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

...wondering just who I am?

It's happened to me again.
I was thinking I had a unique idea to explore on this blog and another blog I'm following covers that very topic the day I plan to write my post.

So here I am. Wondering again what I was thinking when I started this blog.

I have nothing new to contribute, no unique insights to share.
Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun.

So. Who am I and why am I here?


It's an age-old question.

And it's been squirming, shoving, poking...making its way, unwanted, to the forefront of my mind.
We all grapple with the intricacies of this ponderous question as teens, seeking to "find ourselves" and locate the appropriate niche into which we fit.

Then there is the legendary "mid-life" crisis - when new risks are taken, new hobbies are acquired, new cars are purchased, and new careers explored.


But I believe my reasons for skirting the edges of this issue fall a bit more along these lines...


I am no longer the same person.

For 20 years, my entire being-my existence-revolved around the man I adored and wanted to please.

Now, he is experiencing his well-deserved reward, bestowed him by his beloved Jesus.

He is no longer in a position to express approval or disapproval of any action I take.
I no longer need to make my decisions based on his schedule or preferences.

In one sense, it's freeing.

In another, it's terrifying.

It's freeing because I'm learning more about my own personal preferences as they are no longer colored by his. I no longer shy away from something because he might think it immature or unnecessary. I no longer force myself to eat certain things he liked but were only tolerable to me. I am finding it's okay to now do some things he didn't find as enjoyable as I always have. I have found myself more capable than I previously thought because I have to deal with all those responsibilities he had always fulfilled. In short, for half of my life, I have run everything through the filter of pleasing Michael J. Wright...which is as it should be for a marriage to succeed.


But this is all deeply terrifying because he is no longer here to share responsibility for the outcome of decisions made. He is no longer here to offer input and wisdom and perspective to help in the making of those decisions. He is no longer here to pray with me and for me. He is no longer here to comfort me when life hits us hard. He no longer serves as the family's rudder, keeping our focus toward heaven.


And he is no longer here to speak truth to me.


He was always the one that kept me balanced. He helped me say "no" when I really needed to do so, and he helped encourage me when I thought I just couldn't get that project or task completed. He remained objective in the face of my female emotionalism...he inspired me, he challenged me...


...he pulled me with him to higher heights and believed in me.

He played a vital role in me being...me. 

So...who am I now?


Wife? No, that job was removed from my life plan on January 16, 2014.

Musician? No, I'm just your average church pianist with a voice better for blending than solos.
Artist? No, my art is truly amateurish and just dabblings from my "art therapy" sessions.
Friend? My closest friend is gone; sadly, the remaining close friends haven't gotten fair treatment.
Hostess? No, the finer points of that role escape me! Michael was always the one to suggest the parties, invite people, and carry the conversation. Plus, inviting has become challenging now that there is no "man of the house" with whom Mr. So-and-So can interact.
Chef? No, I cook for survival only - the same six & seven over and over, nothing imaginative.
Scrapbooker? (Is that a word???) No, time is now at a premium; creativity often plays "hard to get."
Children's worker? No, that role has had to be temporarily set aside for the past several years so I could focus on the needs of my family.

Mother? Yes, of four...but I'm light years away from a perfect one.  These kids know it well!

They are resilient and patient souls, though, and I love them oodles and bunches. 
Teacher? Yes, I do try. We get the core work covered, but these days extras come in rare spurts.
Writer? Yes, somewhat, but mostly for purposes of therapy. I'm definitely no Ann Voskamp!!
(Plus, many wonderful blogs are being written and thousands upon thousands of books published that far exceed anything I might concoct.)

Laundress, chauffeur, grocery shopper, manager of wardrobes and cluttered bedrooms, chauffeur, lawn maintenance crew, overseer of vehicle maintenance, chauffeur, family accountant, maid, driver's ed instructor...chauffeur, and entertainment supervisor??  Yep!!  THAT'S me.....


But is that all?

Do I do anything else of importance to the Kingdom?
Am I changing anything in this world for good?
What is my value to society?
Why am I here when my husband is in Heaven? He was making a difference daily...at work, through his email updates, at church...he touched lives everywhere he went...even the library!
What is MY purpose? Am I fulfilling it or missing it completely?

Somehow I feel there is a calling for me here...within these four walls...to my children. I seem to know that from the core of my being. It is a knowledge that has developed over time...a slow, percolating realization of the importance of the role of mother in my children's lives; and the vital way my attitude, advice, and ambition plays into the development of theirs. So, I take this job very seriously. And on some days, it demands all I have to give.


But is that enough?

Is this to be my only identity? Do I have any value, mission, or calling beyond motherhood?
Maybe not now...but maybe in the future God will lead me to some new adventure.

Maybe for now, this IS enough.


Beyond the reaches of this discussion, I possess a soul-deep assurance that

I am a Child of the King...a recipient of His amazing and unending grace!

And because of that assurance, I can trust Him.

Because of His love for me, I can trust His guidance.
Because of His love for my children, I can trust His timing.
Because of His promises, I can trust His provision.

So whether God chooses to use me today, tomorrow, or far in the future,

I must choose to rest in the knowledge that His plan is best.



Oh, the thought that Jesus loves me,
Oh that I can understand
Fills my heart with calm assurance;
I am safe inside His plan.


So I will let it change and heal me,
Let it ease my troubled mind;
Oh, the thought that Jesus loves me,
That He loves me for all time.


Oh, the thought that Jesus loves me,
And He loves what I will be
Some sweet day when He has finished
His creative work in me.

~ Wayne Haun, Lyn Rowell




Praying that God makes His will crystal clear, 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

...who has felt that this life is not quite real?

It’s after 1 A.M., Tuesday, September 16, 2014. It’s been exactly eight months since I stood for an entire night beside the raised bed of my heroic husband as he struggled for each and every breath.  I never once left him for those hours but held his hand, stroked his brow, and did anything else that it seemed might bring him comfort or relief. 

It was excruciating…watching him thrash from side to side, wild-eyed and panicked because his lungs were incapable of expanding enough to take in the air he needed. One lung was completely full of tumors, the other affected by both tumors and fluid that had built up quickly over the previous days and hours. The hospice nurse assigned to us had only one patient at that point, so she too stood with us. She tried everything. Literally, everything she knew to do, she did.  She repositioned him, she cranked the oxygen as high as it would go, she tried different medication options, and she remained just as puzzled about the change in Michael as I felt. 

Earlier in the evening, I had expressed to my parents that I knew there was absolutely NO WAY I could handle what by then I understood I was facing. They held me and prayed with me before they left to try to get some sleep. 

It was then that I felt the supernatural calm that the peace of Jesus brings in time of trial. It was then that I felt the strong arms of Jesus under my own…enabling me to literally stand the rest of the night saying goodbye to my true love, holding him, comforting him the best I knew how…playing the music he loved softly in his ear…reading him notes others had sent to encourage him or honor his life in some way….Jesus kept me from shattering into tiny little pieces in those moments. He was right there with me in every moment, in every breath I took. He held me close as He carried Michael…

Michael was irrational for those darkest of hours…his words making little sense…his thoughts disjointed and jumbled…his panic real and tangible…his answers to our questions often leaving us with the distinct awareness that something was very different. He had changed over the later hours of that Wednesday…slowly losing the ability to connect with the reality of his surroundings with the sharpness that had characterized his mind just that afternoon. 

It was difficult…because I have no story of him being aware of a Presence in the room as he died, nor can I speak of last words that indicate he saw a glimpse of Heaven in those moments. But he did get a chance to formulate some “I love you’s” to his children just before dropping off into the slumber from which he would never wake, and for that I am extremely grateful. 

Why these thoughts, you ask? Why bring it all back up? No, I don’t live here in this place…this portion of my memory bank. But it’s haunting me tonight.

Maybe because it’s another monthly anniversary of those events. 
Maybe because another soul slipped into eternity a few hours ago…a friend.

Her death was a complete shock. A head-on collision on her way to work. She wasn’t even very far from home. Her husband was as work, her daughter at school, her son in a far away state going about his daily routine. Then in one instant their lives completely changed. 

It’s funny, but grief doesn’t seem to be able to be compartmentalized. It’s actually a tangled mess. And when you touch one loss and its associated grief, it’s very likely that in working through it, you will also face aspects of other losses faced.  There are no pretty little boxes for grief…loss of pet here, loss of job and identity there; loss of uncle or grandparent here, loss of spouse over there; loss of best friend here, loss of child there…no, I’ve heard grief described as a ball of tangled yarn. And when one string is pulled, the whole mess is affected. 

So, yes, today I lost a friend, and my heart aches with the pain I am sure her husband feels at this moment. And yes, I’ve agonized over how one would manage explaining such a dark tragedy to her eleven year old daughter. But I’ve also had to deal with fresh nuances of my story…my loss, and my own pain. It all feels so tangled up and confused…as though I can’t find where one ends and another begins. 

How can we go on being “normal” after experiencing such events? How can laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, celebrating holidays, and going to church ever be the same? 

I don’t think they should. 

I know I see things differently. This that is around me, the floor, the furniture, the plants, the noise feels so…so unreal, so temporary…like a waiting room for the real thing. Like a game I’m playing while waiting for LIFE to begin! I feel I’m in a holding pattern…just biding my time, trying to make do here until it’s my turn to join the ranks of the heavenly choir that surrounds the Throne of God, praising Him and worshipping Him for all eternity!

But why am I still here? 

I’d rather not be. This world is becoming uglier by the day. I pray often the Lord will return quickly so my children will not have to face what seems to lie ahead for them. It is so easy to fear the future…there seems to be much to fear. 

So where does that leave me? Here. With a reason. God has a plan - and He alone knows what He still needs me to do. I won’t be going home until He says it is time. So, what is my mission? I guess I’m still working on that, trying to keep my heart and mind open to His will for my every day existence on this planet. I know my first responsibility is my children. Beyond that, I’ve yet to discover why God has chosen to keep me here. 

Days and nights like these keep me reminded that whatever that purpose may be, it is of ultimate importance.



I feel that maybe this post would be a good one in which to share something I’ve written bit by bit as a result of this entire ordeal. I’m not sure exactly what it is, as it’s not particularly poetry, yet neither is it technically prose. I feel it embodies much of what was experienced other dark nights...maybe someone else has been there, too. 




One night...

...in a hospital room - 

An IV pump hums, then groans rhythmically…
Nurses whisper into the room then back out again…
Fever rises, then breaks…
The Bed is wet with sweat…
A Loved one rubs the patient's hand with gentle caresses and anxiously watches over the  patient's restless slumber while fighting off the demons of fear and worry…
The night seems to hold each in a fierce grip of loneliness… 
Peace and healing seem so far away...
Then...someone prays...someone sends a text...
Someone enters the room with a reassuring comfort that He has all under control...that He knows the situation and understands the loneliness and fear...that His resources have not run dry, that His grace is still sufficient...
That He is there...
In that hospital room...
That night. 

One night…

...at home -

An oxygen machine hums and pumps its life-giving output into a worn-out body that is struggling for every breath…
A family member drops by to check on the situation and endeavors to bring some cheer then makes their way back home…
A child timidly hugs her parent good night all the while fearing she might cause more pain...and wishing life were normal again…
Darkness surrounds, but the sights and sounds of home bring at least some measure of comfort…
Medications line the bedside table…
Pillows are fluffed to provide a bit of comfort…
A groggy spouse rubs an aching arm or back...serving the one they love the best they know how…
Sleep is pursued and sometimes not found…
The night again seems so lonely...have they been forgotten? Is anyone else awake and praying?
Once again The Lord proves faithful! 
He ministers to the weary hearts through the words of a song in the night! 
The music winds its way through the darkness to lighten loads borne and to encourage aching hearts…
He is there...
Quietly renewing strength...
In that room…
That night. 

One night…

...after the funeral. 

It's quiet now...except for the painful sobs of the one left behind…
The overpowering scent of peace lilies and carnations lingers…
All is dark except for the single strand of white lights on the ficus tree in the corner…
Every object that sits on silent watch around the room holds a story...a memory of a moment that can never be repeated…
Grief is almost palpable, flowing in torrential waves over and around its victim…
Time passes, yet still groans and sobs occasionally break forth from the exhausted soul curled up pitifully in the corner of the sofa…
Then a quiet whisper is heard..."Jesus? Have mercy...have mercy on me, Jesus...please, Jesus, hold me!"
More tears, just as intense as before...just as heart-rending…
Then a quiet calm slips into the spirit of the tortured one, and slowly...slowly the flow of liquid grief eases and breathing returns to normal… 
A sweet and precious Presence in the room seems to speak peace to an exhausted heart and mind…
A favorite Bible, peppered with highlights and handwritten notes is cradled close to the heart…
A special blanket cocoon provides warmth and comfort as eyelids grow droopy…
Finally, sleep claims the weary one...
But He stays near… 
In that room…
That night.



Then, after those darkest of moments just before dawn, morning finally comes.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

...who is grateful for brighter days?

Yes. Nights can be dark. Very, very dark.

But there is another side...

After the darkest of nights the sun ALWAYS shines again. 
The light always breaks through the stormiest of clouds.
Breathing becomes easier, living becomes possible, peace becomes real, and joy attainable.
Grace is offered, strength is granted, and patience is renewed.

And this is where I live much of the time. On this other side.

Our days are filled with the silliness that exists in a household of five where four are minors...
We work together, feeling the satisfaction of performing normal duties and creating a peaceful haven of safety in our home.
We support each other through our most difficult tasks, helping where we can.
We shop together, often finding things Daddy would have liked. 
We eat out together, sometimes talking about what Daddy would have ordered.
We go places together, often remembering the last time we were there with Daddy.
We learn together, wishing Daddy were here to help us with new challenges.
We pray together, remembering Daddy's faithfulness to pray for our family and others.
We play together, enjoying some of the same activities Daddy did.
We attend church together, missing hearing Daddy sing the hymns beside us. 

We never forget. But we do not dwell on the sad moments. We cannot.
We live because Michael wanted us to. 
We live because we must. 
We live because we want to.
We remember the best of times and keep them close to our hearts.
We cherish Michael and all he was to us. 
We will never forget. 

Michael would be amazed at the strength his children have shown.
He would be proud of the maturity they have exhibited.
He would be impressed by the things we have learned, the new experiences we have enjoyed.
He would be awed by what we have accomplished individually and as a family.

And he would be aware, as we are, that all of this has come about because of the 
    wonderful, 
         amazing, 
             faithful, 
                        and 
                    unending 
                                      grace of our Father!  

I know I continue to come back to that truth, but once again, I sincerely state that it's true
Jesus is the reason we are who we are and where we are in this journey. I'll repeat it with conviction until the day I, too, exchange this world for the eternal one. 
And it will work for you, too! 

That same grace will be there for you when God calls you to face a difficult task!
That same strength will enable you to accomplish much more than you ever dreamed possible! 
That same faithfulness will uphold you when you face your darkest nights!
That same love will surround you when your heart is shattered and crushed!

Stay grounded in God's Word, stand firm on those promises, pray about everything, and rest....
God IS and that's all we need to know.

Reveling in the brightness of God's mercy,


P.S. Those dark nights? Well, they come around kind of often. But this song also comes to mind often and I hold on tightly to the thought that someone out there is praying me through (click link to hear song).  I know there have been many who have carried our family in prayer, and some that have even been awakened from sleep with us on their minds for prayer. If you have been a part of that team, I thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you! The above post couldn't have been written without your faithfulness to follow those Spirit promptings...the brighter days would be few and far between without that support. May God bless you richly for your care and kindness!