Sunday, December 4, 2016

...with the CRUD?

It’s back. 
The CRUD is back.
I hate it.
At least I dislike it very, very much.
By CRUD, I do not mean the head-stuffy, chest-congested, fever-raging flu bug.
I mean the Contrary Relentless Underlying Disturbance of stress-paralyzing grief junk.
(And I don't mean the sweet, romanticized, misty-eyed longing type. I mean the ugly, painful, piercing, hard type.)

It’s Contrary - it will NOT go away no matter what I try to do.
It’s Relentless - it lasts far too long and controls way too much.
It’s Underlying - it lurks just below the surface…even when I ignore or stuff it.
It’s Disturbing - it pushes peace and joy and calm right out the door when it attacks.

It lowers my stress tolerance, raises my irritability level, and steals my emotional control.
It leaves me wimpy, weak, and wobbly.

I wish it didn't have to try to ruin this wonderful, cheerful, Jesus-focused time of year that Michael loved so very much.

My to-do list terrifies me because I have lost all confidence in my ability to manage those tasks successfully. My failures would be okay if they just affected me. But this stuff matters to other people in my world. So, I suppose it’s time to pull out the trusty guns of self-discipline and will-power and push over and past and through…the CRUD.

But. I. Don’t. Want. To.
I WANT to sit in a comfy chair in my brightly decorated living room, poring over memories, drinking Michael’s favorite drink, wrapped in a blanket that sports my three favorite pics of the two of us…
writing if I want, coloring if I want, painting if I want, reading if I want…crying if I want.

I WANT to feel it all and stay right here in the middle of the pain.
Because if I feel the pain, I know I’ve not forgotten.
I don’t want to forget.
I want to be okay, I really do - in a way. But I also don’t want to forget the pain.
Because I don’t want to forget him.

It’s an odd balance to try and find.
I can’t just quit life and sit this month out.
I can’t stop trying to provide Christmas memories for my kids.
I can’t stop working on the church Christmas program.
I can’t stop trying to manage the household while tracking down all the right gifts.

I really don’t want to do this without Michael.
I don’t want to be alone – but I want my husband back…not just anyone.
Having other people around isn’t always helpful. I’m an introvert through and through.
So trying to do crowd events while dealing with the CRUD exhausts me and makes me feel vulnerable and weak…AGAIN.

And the brain fog is back...the CRUD’s partner in crime.
It’s eerily reminiscent of those first few torturous months.
I’ve had so many good days this year that I’ve been able to pretend the CRUD doesn’t affect me anymore.


And most likely it is here to stay until mid-January.

So. What to do…what to do…

I HAVE to be here for my kids. They still need me to be fully engaged as mom.
I HAVE to continue reaching out. 
                   There are others who need prayer and encouragement even more than I do!
I HAVE to help with school work and projects. Who else is going to pick that up?
I HAVE to deal with the finances, vehicles, and yard work. It sure isn't my neighbor’s job.

Deep down I WANT to.

But those things may be ALL I can do for now.
I may never ever write a book or compose a hit song or speak anywhere or have
         anything much of value to offer society…
I may never paint anything worthwhile or have a social media post go viral…
I may never be a great cook and hostess or have a Pinterest-worthy home…
I may never be sought after for advice or consulted by others as an expert on any subject…
I may never be famous or sport a killer wardrobe…

But if I can manage to come out of this still loving Jesus,
still feeling His presence and smile in my heart, 
            and still enjoying a good relationship with my kids, 
                                               I will deem it a success.

They say Jesus uses cracked pots…broken vessels.
They say Jesus can take tragedy and turn it into triumph.
They say Jesus can coax beauty from ashes.
They say Jesus turns sorrow into joy.

They say it’s about WHO GOD IS – not what I’m not.

That thought, my friends, brings true comfort!

So, what will I do?
I’ll try to get adequate rest.
I’ll tackle those lists one tiny bite at a time.
I’ll turn on my favorite Christmas music and the lights on the tree.
I’ll bring school work upstairs so we can sit by the big windows and soak up the day’s light.
I’ll walk over and check on my elderly, widowed neighbor and text my hurting friend.
I’ll rejoice in small victories along the way!
I’ll revel in the blessings our Heavenly Father has dumped all over my family!
I’ll bask in God’s promises of provision, protection, and grace.
I’ll praise Him for the day’s renewed mercies and my treasure box of memories.
I’ll remember that this, too, shall pass

And…I’ll survive! In Jesus’s embrace.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.              2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Crawling up 
into Jesus's lap,

P.S. In Michael's memory as well as because many people miss it, I'd absolutely LOVE to get his internet radio station up and running again. So I would totally appreciate prayers that I can find the right people to help me with this project. Thanks...

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Today is Thanksgiving Day.

And I am thankful.

I am thankful that I am alive, that I am in good health, that I am in my right mind.
I am thankful that my four children are all serving Jesus...and still love me.
I am thankful that we have been blessed with a beautiful home and reliable vehicles.
I am thankful that we never go hungry or without adequate clothing.
I am thankful that so many have been willing to help us these past few years.
I am thankful that some very loyal, patient, kind, dear, and understanding friends still love me.
I am thankful that supportive and loving family members live close by.

I am blessed.

I am thankful that three years ago today I was able to spend a few precious hours with my suffering husband as a sort of last date, even though we didn’t quite know it at the time.

I am thankful he felt well enough that we could get out of the house for a time even though that time was short.

I am thankful for the memories of the talks we had in those last months…deep…rich…focused…intense… sometimes painful…often precious…

I am thankful for the love we shared those last few months…deep…rich…focused…all things unimportant had been stripped away…hearts were laid bare…the two hearts beat almost as one in a way we’d never yet experienced with the stuff of life in control.

I am thankful for the lessons he taught me – preparing me for the day I’d need to handle things alone…yet, not alone. For he taught me about recognizing God’s presence in the everyday…

I am thankful my children have memories of him.
I am thankful for the investment he made in those precious souls.
I am thankful he earned their respect and kept it.
I am thankful I can see aspects of his character and personality in each of them…he lives on in them.

I am blessed.

I am also thankful for the challenges for they have enabled me to learn more about myself.

I am thankful for difficult decisions for they have forced me to trust even more in my capable and all-wise God.

I am thankful for pain-filled nights for they have allowed me to reach in with true empathy and speak comfort to other precious hearts who are facing that same pain.

I am thankful for loneliness for it has opened my eyes to see others in need of a friend; those who sit alone at the side of a crowded room…

I am thankful that the intensity of my pain has lessened somewhat allowing me to turn more energy toward my children and ministry once again…and that the good days outnumber the bad 6:1.

I am thankful for the many opportunities God brings my way to share what I’ve learned on my journey…and that there are those who actually want to listen.

I am thankful for those who believe in me and who help me continue growing in Christ…for that is my deepest desire.

I am deeply grateful for a patient, trustworthy, loving, faithful Heavenly Father for He, beyond all others, is responsible for my well-being.

I would be nothing without Him.

I am
of all people
most incredibly

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 107:1

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

Finding blessings from God literally everywhere,

Sunday, September 4, 2016

One last task...

Well, it's done.
It has finally been completed. 
Well...almost, anyway.

It was much harder than I ever dreamed it would be. 
It should not have been on my to-do list - not yet!!
It took more out of me than it should have. But I'm wired oddly, so that's no surprise, I suppose.

But, once again, with God's help and strength, I've jumped the hurdle. 
I've completed my last task for Michael.

It feels so...well, final. 

After being dug from a granite quarry in China this past spring, 
after taking the proverbial "slow boat" from said country,
after finally arriving in the U.S.,
after being engraved in Chillicothe, and 
after being delivered a little over a week ago to Gardner, KS,
Michael's gravestone has been set. It was placed on September 1.

This has been one hugemongous (yes, I know that's not a real word) task. One that daunted me, haunted me for a long while. I wanted so badly to get this right. After all, it felt like the last chance I had to serve him, to care for him in some way. Crazy, I know. But just let me have this one. Don't try to talk me out of my idiosyncrasies. At least not unless you've also traveled this same pathway. If you have, then you're probably just about as crazy as I am! *wry grin*

My desire has been to honor Michael's life in the design of the stone. 
His life was one of for God was first and foremost, but love for people wasn't far behind. 
He adored his children.
He loved me. 

He loved everyone he knew. He was always giving of his time and energy to help, encourage, bless, lift, and otherwise touch lives for Jesus. He was patient and forgiving, He was gentle and optimistic. He was cheerful and generous. He didn't have to be in the limelight but loved cheering for those who were there. He was "Jesus with skin on" to so many people. 

Michael's only request for his stone was that these words be included: 
"He loved God and others." 

So I've honored that wish. The rest, he left up to me. 
So how does one honor a person who seemed to live a "bigger than life" life? 
How do you capture all that he was and...carve it on a stone?

I love the black granite. To me, it is dignified, classy, and unique. Just like Michael.
I love that it is tall. Just like Michael. He stood tall both physically and spiritually.
I love the heart. He oozed love wherever he went. 

I love the design on the back. He adored sunsets. He watched them as often as he was able...
And Isaiah 40:31 was his life verse. 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; 
they shall run, and not be weary; 
and they shall walk, and not faint.

He may not have been able to run his last few years here with us, but I'm sure he's running now just because he can! And his spirit? Well, it's got to be soaring higher than those eagles since he has finally met his Jesus! 

You'll notice the vase displays the date of our wedding. Soon, there will be another piece that is about 6" tall and about 2.5' long that will sit just below that vase. The front will say "Parents of: Luanna, Esther, Julianna, and Karson." The back will say "WRIGHT." (This piece will be added sometime in the next couple of weeks or so. There was an engraving mistake that is being corrected.)

Then, at some future date, the plan is that my stone, matching yet flipped, will be set on the north side (the left in this picture) forming a matching pair, hearts leaning in toward each other, honoring the love we have shared.

Yes, I know this is different. It's okay. Our family has lived a different life than many. We've made many choices that were different than expected. But I wanted Michael to have his own stone honoring his life while acknowledging the great impact he had on the world that knew him. 

So...there it is. You all have been a part of this journey since its beginning. I figured you might find a sense of closure in being part of the ending as well. 

Maybe no one cares...but I'm pretty sure there are many who do. 
Thank you for carrying us in prayer. 
Thank you for caring enough to check on us all along the way. 
Thank you for being there when we needed to download stressful things - even if you understood not one word of what we shared! 
Thank you for bringing meals, sending so many wonderful cards and notes, writing texts and emails, mowing the lawn, requesting prayer in your churches, cleaning our house or paying for it to be cleaned, caring for the kids, sending sunshine boxes, and otherwise loving our family. 

God used each of you to be His hands and feet to us...He blessed us with knowing you. 
We were and are so grateful. 

I understand that it is a Jewish custom to leave a small pebble or stone on a grave to indicate respect for the deceased and to indicate someone has visited. I think that is neat. So...for those of you that take the time or have interest in stopping by to see the newly placed gravestone, we now have a spot where you could place that stone of remembrance if you wish! 

For the many of you who live too far away to make that quick stop by, I've included the pictures. And I'll be sure to update them when the piece with the names of the children gets put into place. 

Finding Jesus faithful every step of the way,
Grateful beyond words for my family and friends,

Friday, August 5, 2016

...who just...can't?

Here I am.
It's again one of *THOSE DAYS...*

I'm breathing.
I'm up and dressed.
I even went to lunch with a friend.
But...that's about it.

The entries on my "before school starts again to-do list" are all screaming at me.
So loudly that I can't pick out just one voice.
When this happens, I find I begin shutting down and I can'

The reasons for this *DAY* are probably layered, multiple, and varied.

• I worked late last night on an answer to a heavy question asked me by a friend. I want to give a solid and correct answer because she needs that. She doesn't deserve a brush-off, a pat answer. She's seeking truth. So, with prayer, I worked toward that end.
Yesterday, I ate lunch with a friend going through some intensely discouraging life events.
Last week, I did all I could to encourage and lift the spirits of some dear friends who are also facing the fires of trial and tribulation.
Often, after times such as these, times of pouring out for the help (hopefully!) of another, I get smacked upside the head by the devil with a day of depression. I can almost depend on it. I'm not complaining about this aspect for sure! One thing that keeps me somewhat sane is reaching out to others! I can deal with a bit of depression now and again IF I can sense there is a use for me and some good being done along the way.

• I got a call from the man who is helping me with the stone for Michael's grave. He said the cement slab had been poured yesterday.
I. Don't. Want. To. Do. This.
As much as I want to see Michael's grave marked with this beautiful stone, it's way more difficult to face the finality of this that I had ever before imagined.
I AM probably the only one who feels this sentiment. I'm pretty sure my delay on this has overtaxed the patience of some.
But once this is completed, then what? I want to honor his life in tangible ways. But I'm no "start an awareness charity" or "launch a foundation" kind of gal. The music station was all I had left. Then, that got abruptly shut down. I've not yet gotten the details figured out as to how to restart it. Again, it overehelms me.

• I feel like a completely inadequate and incompetent mother.
My lunch companion today was a wonderfully kind and sweet gal but she's done way more for and with her kids and her life than I have. And well, that just calls attention to my lack of energy at times, my difficulty finding strength to push hard enough, and the feeling of "lost-ness" that is currently my struggle. Who AM I? No career, no particularly outstanding passion or talent, no dreams I'm working to fulfill. I don't even know what my next steps should be some days. Let alone where my life goals should be taking me.

• I've recently learned of a situation in which someone is believing ill intent about me and spreading that, coloring people's minds with falsehood. As always, it hurts.

• I'm pretty solidly in the introvert camp. So there are times when, well, I just shut down until I can re-boot - alone.

Maybe that's where I am today. Needing a re-boot.

Maybe I'm just not capable of doing this thing God has called me to.
My kids need wisdom. I feel fresh out.
My kids need direction. I am searching for it myself.
My kids need my energy. I haven't got any today.

I'm just empty.
I want to help others. But the well is kinda feeling dry today.
I find it challenging to figure out the difference between renewing myself and being, well, lazy.
How hard should I push? When is it okay to stop?

I. Just. Want. To. Run.

Then hide.

It's more than I can do.

Jesus, help me. 
Have mercy on me!
Be my Guide. 
If You are asking me to do something in this moment, please please make it clear to me. 
James says you promise wisdom to those who ask in faith. You know I ask for that pretty much every day, sometimes many times a day!  Please don't give up on me! Don't lose patience with this super slow learner! I'm floundering. I'm lost! I'm still finding some days so dark and lonely and on those days I become so afraid! I'm sorry! It's my weakness taking over, I know. You have been so. Incredibly. Faithful. To provide for us financially. To keep us healthy. To surround us with different ones who care and help. But there are some areas where no one can help except You. I'm in one of those places today, Jesus. I really am. It seems that passages of scripture jump to mind when I'm trying to help others, but on these days? Well, I can't seem to find my way out of the cliched wet paper bag. 

I feel I've exhausted my close friends with my grief and anxiety. 
They have their own loads to carry. I don't want to ask them to carry mine, too, especially when it is honestly pretty petty. 
I SHOULD be able to do this. As blessed and cared for as we have been, I should be in need of little. But my kids need me to step up and be a leader. In a way I've never been before. They need me to continue to push with all my might to keep the family rolling as it should. 
But I CAN'T do this alone.
I HAVE to know You are with me! 
I NEED Your grace each moment of each day! 
Thank You for every single time You've rescued me in the past. I know You have no plans to abandon me now. Please help me know what my part is in all of me discover my new role and learn my new responsibilities. I still kinda wish You would have chosen someone else for this task. But since You called me, please please help me find my way...

I am not sure why I am posting all of this here.
But here it is.
I'm not strong.
I'm not heroic.
I'm just me.

And yet still, Jesus loves me.
And that, my friends, continually amazes me!

Monday, June 20, 2016

...who struggled with Father's Day?

Okay. I need to write.
I don't know if anyone will ever read this or not but I don't really care.
My. Heart. Hurts.

It's Father’s Day 2016.
I'm SUPPOSED to be posting about the amazing Dad my kids have.
I'm SUPPOSED to have some creative gift to present him that he wouldn't really need but that he would ooh and ahh over just because it features his kids’ pictures.
I'm SUPPOSED to be fixing him his favorite after church snack and spending time with him watching the sun set from our patio.
I'm SUPPOSED to be celebrating my husband’s superb fathering today.

I'm NOT supposed to be here. In the cemetery. By my husband’s grave. Not yet. Not now.
It's just isn't SUPPOSED to look this way.

A little plane is buzzing the cemetery.
It's a gorgeous evening for flying.
Who knows? Maybe that pilot is one we know.
On this most gorgeous of evenings, we should be walking together...watching the hobby pilots out for their weekend joy rides.

Instead, I sit here alone. Crying. Wondering just how I can POSSIBLY come close to making up for the hole he left behind. The cataclysmic void looms before me until I can see nothing else.

My kids need him.
Luanna needs him to guide her through this pitfall-laden dating game she's in.
Esther needs him to nurture her interest in the geeky side of the world.
Julianna needs him to build her confidence in her reading skills and find her place in the family.
Karson needs him to show what the life of a true and Godly gentleman looks like.

Let's face it. I need him.
I need him.

I hate parenting solo.
And before you go all “you're not alone! God is a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow” on me, please remember that I believe that with all my heart.
But emotions don't always follow. (Please – NO disrespect is meant by this. At ALL. God has taken very VERY good care of us. I am blessed.)

But God doesn't fix my stubbornly cranky computers or put the Holiness Music station back online. God doesn't mow my yard or order rock for my newest landscape project. God has yet to go grocery shopping for me or call the plumber when that plugged toilet is beyond my handy-man skills.

Which plumber do I call? What should the weekly grocery budget be?

I feel alone...
...Guilty for detracting from everyone else's Father's Day happiness, and so alone.

God isn't here mediating squabbles between littles nor telling the teens how much money they can spend when they hit the mall. God isn't here to back me up when I lay down rules that kiddos don't really like.

So I feel alone.

When my oldest does what is super normal for college aged girls and gets a guy friend, God isn't here to remind her how to behave and dress and respect herself and teach her how guys see gals...

It's just me.

And moms aren't nearly as scary as dads.

So I feel alone.

I don't know how to plan a vacation very well! I'm not good at those sorts of things!
I have no idea how to go about choosing plants and designs and rocks for the landscaping.
I am not bold enough to help Luanna find one more part time job for the summer…

I feel so alone.

Then my daughter gets super stressed because her guy will be basically out of touch for a few days because of a friend’s wedding. Oh dear. Oh my. The tragedy.

I want to cry.
I feel so alone.

I Have. No. Best. Friend. Anymore.
No one checking  in with me to see how I’m really  doing.
No one to say I looked really nice today.
No one to comment on my favorite perfume.
No one to help me iron out the quirks in my stab at a new blogger template.
No one to hold me close when I'm hurting so deeply words can't express it.
No one to rub the spasm out of my shoulder.
No one to text that their favorite coffee is on sale this week.
No one to tell when I discover something has changed in our community.
No one to make sure I get home safely from my evening’s two mile walk home from the cemetery…. one except my kids.

Karson volunteered to rub my shoulders and put lotion on my feet tonight.
Luanna waited around upstairs until I made it home from the walk.
Julie filled out her Sunday School Father’s Day card project with a sweet message for me.
Esther made me laugh again with her amazingly clever and spontaneous sense of humor.
And they saved me some pizza.

Tonight my kids unknowingly reminded me that they care about me.
They have no idea what it means to me.
Their love might not look like Michael’s love for me, but it's real all the same.

And as they grow and change and meet new challenges, they will miss their father in various ways. Today might have been a molehill and there may still be grief mountains ahead for them. Maybe when those moments come, I'll be ready to show them how much I care for them.

I'll never ever be their dad or even anything like him.

But I can be a loving mom.
And I don't have to feel quite so lonely any more.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

...celebrating love in a different way this year?

Valentine’s Day.

A “Hallmark holiday” centered around kisses, hugs, adorable stuffed animals, roses, and sappy cards.
A day full of expectations for that perfect and ideally romantic gift.
A day for which reservations have been made, proposals have been planned, and poetry has been written.
A day created to celebrate that most cherished emotion…LOVE.

It’s a time when young loves express their fervent passion for each other and make rash promises about unknown futures.

It’s a time when married couples refocus on what is precious and special in their relationship…and remember why they fell in love in the first place.

It’s a time to cherish another and to be cherished.

I celebrate this.
I can’t say the day has been without painful twinges.
It would be easy for me to expend energy on that line of thought,
but I am choosing to celebrate.  

I choose to celebrate that I have cherished and have been cherished.
I choose to celebrate that I have had many Valentine’s Day celebrations with one amazing man…one who treated me with respect and honor, one whom I shall always remember as my true love.

Today I celebrate that love!

He loved me enough to provide for me – financially, emotionally, spiritually.
He loved me enough to manage our family affairs wisely.
He loved me enough to spend carefully and save consistently.
He loved me enough to buy that life insurance and prepare that will.
He loved me enough to document all account information in one protected location.
He loved me enough to patiently teach me much about running a household.

He loved me enough to plan for a future that did not include himself.

He also loved others.
He loved others enough to invest in their hearts and lives.
He loved others enough to spend time showing he cared.
He loved others enough to express specific appreciation.
He loved others enough to bless them with financial gifts.
He loved others enough to say so…and brighten their days.

Today I celebrate his love for his children!

He loved his children enough to make church, revivals, and camp meetings a priority.
He loved his children enough to work hard to provide for all their needs.
He loved his children enough to focus on building good relationships with each of them.
He loved his children enough to compliment them regularly.
He loved his children enough to say so…often, and with much conviction.

He loved his children enough to fight with all his might against the invasion of cancer.

He loved his children enough to leave them with a legacy of patience, trust, and faithful submission to God through times of trial.

He loved his children enough to point them Heavenward with every fiber of his being.

He left us all a wonderful example of being God's feet and hands with love...

So, on this Valentine’s Day, 2016, as the glories of a week focused on God comes to a close,
I rest contentedly in God's perfect love for me in this moment.
I treasure the memories of my earthly true love.
And I treasure the love of my children.

And I resolve to show more Christ-like love to those same children.

Because if I speak eloquently to large crowds or testify boldly in church
but do not show I care about my children’s scraped knees or broken hearts,
I am as useless to them as a cell phone with no service...

If I claim to be an expert in parenting and all things spiritual training,
and if I put myself forward as some sort of super-Christian
but yet do not take time to push my child’s swing or make her birthday special,
I’ve completely failed Parenting 101.

And if I give generously to missions and tithe regularly
but my children hear me griping or complaining about doing so,
and if I volunteer my time just so I can brag about it on Facebook
but my children can’t get my attention for homework help,
my words about loving God will fall on hardened heart-soil.

Love is patiently explaining that math concept for the thousandth time.
Love is gently carrying a sixty pound sleeping child to bed after having soothed away a nightmare.
Love is watching my child outshine me…and being totally okay with that.
Love is NOT trying to be someone I’m not to someone who doesn’t really need me,
            nor is it parading my story of widowhood in order to gain attention.
Love speaks kindly to that frustrated teenager,
            doesn’t complain if “me” time gets interrupted
            doesn’t keep track of how many times MY favorite pen gets used up, MY candy 
            gets eaten, or MY feelings get hurt…
Love finds absolutely NO satisfaction in the disappointing behavior or ill-advised decisions of my children, but instead rejoices greatly in seeing those children learn to walk in God’s truth!!

Love endures puke-clean up and toilet duty, becomes the children’s biggest fan, intercedes diligently with hope for their future, waits with patience for them to find their way.

Love…a father's love...a mother’s love…Christ’s love…never ends…

Daily learning more about love in action,