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...'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 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. 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

So tomorrow, I must leave this safe place, this retreat, and head back home to my responsibilities,
my memories, my struggles, my ministries... blessings! my beautiful home! my loving family members! my support group! 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,