Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Love Has Found Me

The other half of my forever. 

It has come quickly and fiercely, yet looking back, I see God’s gentle prodding and preparing of my heart for this timing.

Five months ago I sat across from a widower in a local restaurant on our first face-to-face meeting. We instantly connected on several levels. When he spoke of his late wife, his eyes and voice changed ever so slightly. Maybe it wouldn’t have been noticeable to many; but to someone who also had a beautiful marriage...it was obvious...this was a man who loved well and was loved well.

What a gift!

If I could visit the afterlife and have a few minutes with his late wife, I would hug her tightly and say...
Thank you, Julie.
Thank you for loving him well. 
Thank you for raising such sweet and respectful children with him.  Thank you for the beautiful relationship you had with both extended families.

Words actually fail me when I try to describe the gift he is to me, and I fully acknowledge that YOU were instrumental in molding him into the man who stands before me. I appreciate your love affair and your forever place in his heart. I am humbled to be stepping into the lives of your children and family. You will always be honored by me. Your family will always be respected by me.

Mark and I never could have imagined that you and my late husband would only be half of our forever's; but here we are.

We know we are fortunate to have found each other; to be experiencing two "love of our life's" in a single lifetime.  I am head over heels in love with him.

I promise to love him completely. I vow to love and treat your children as though they are my own.

I prayed, oh friends how I prayed!

I was content to remain single. We were a happy family of three. I had no desire to ever date again.

I prayed daily for an entire year that if God had someone special for me in my future, he would change the desire of my heart.

He did.

It scared me.

So I prayed.

I prayed daily for an entire year for God to prepare me for my future mate and to prepare him for me.

It was another year and a half before I met him.

A man who was loved well and loves me well. A man who knows the plight of solo parenting through grief and has excelled at it.  A man who is respected in his profession and adored by his family and friends.

I admire him. I cherish him. I enjoy being his. He is the answer to three and a half years of constant prayer.

So now, I pray.

I pray God blesses and protects our relationship.

I pray God continues to mold me into the woman this man needs as his encourager and partner.

I pray I can be a safe haven for him and his children in the years to come and that he can be a positive, loving mentor in the lives of my children.

This life is full of twists and turns; crushing turmoil and unexpected blessings. We cannot escape pain and loss; but we can embrace love. God is so faithful to expand our hearts to include new love without it standing in competition or comparison with the past. I marvel at how the great loves of my life can so peacefully co-exist independently within me.

Beauty from ashes...God is good.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Podcast Interview: Memories and Missing

Yesterday morning, I sat with a friend and visited about widowhood.

She asked real questions and I gave raw answers.  We barely even noticed the microphone in front of us.

Today, her podcast interview was released.

My first thought while listening is, "Goodness gracious, I do laugh a lot in this life!" and I am not one bit sad about that fact!

Tim would be tickled that I am still laughing my way through this messy life.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Work in Progress - Uncovering Deeper Grief

It’s been quite the week here.

After a long hiatus from time in my kitchen (and complaints from the kids over my lack of cooking)…I returned to a place in my home that has always been about Tim.
He made one comment early in our marriage that stuck with me for the nearly two decades we had together. 

“I travel so much for work and eat out every meal, it would be nice when I’m in town to come home from work to a home cooked meal.”

That was all it took. One simple comment and I began spending hours in the kitchen to make sure he had a fulfilling and delicious meal at the end of his long workdays. He ALWAYS thanked me, and there were only a handful of times in the following 19 years that he didn’t wash the dishes and clean the kitchen afterwards for me.

Cooking was a way I showed appreciation and love to the man that gave his all in providing for us. It was an act of respect and obedience to his request as the head of our household. One simple comment from him and I willingly shifted my desire to be taken out to eat when he was in town. 

Within a year of that comment, we packed up and moved to Salt Lake City and I was able to prepare meals for him daily, as travel was no longer a part of his work.  It brought me joy to serve him in this simple way.

When he lost his ability to swallow during the cancer battle, I ceased cooking. I thought it too cruel to have food aroma wafting through our home for hours each day to torment him.  I was feeding him formula through his feeding tube every few hours and people were preparing meals for the kids and me several times a week for me to easily serve each evening.  This went on for over a year.

He died.

I returned to my beloved kitchen and began making meals from scratch again for the kids and myself. It wasn’t the same. Grief had somehow invaded this part of my life and besides, the kids’ schedules were so hectic that often, I wouldn’t get home to begin preparing food until close to 9:00 pm.   So I tapered off from cooking until finally in the past few years I pretty much have been non-existent in the kitchen.

Over the past few months, I have been open to the idea of dating.  Recently I decided I would just say, “I don’t cook” to would-be suitors so that I could avoid the pain of ever having to return to a chore that I no longer enjoy.  Saying it out loud, coupled with the recent teasing from our kids made me realize the reason behind my dislike of cooking.

It isn’t fun doing something that was so intricately tied to my marriage without Tim being here. That’s just my reality.  Now that I’ve been able to identify the root of my problem, I am able to properly address it and heal from it.

Communication is critical in every relationship. Unmet expectations can destroy happiness if we are unable to communicate our needs to one another.  Sometimes, self-communication is equally as important for self expectations to be met.

I’m still a work in progress…every single blasted day of this journey!  Last week, I completed three homemade meals for our family (and by Wednesday to boot...I was kind of a big deal over here).  Baby steps...but I'm learning more about myself and moving forward in new areas again.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Word of the Year

My word for 2013 was “Joy” as I desired to be joy filled in all circumstances.  It was a difficult final year with my Tim battling for each and every day of life, but we succeeded in finding the blessings and experiencing true joy through Christ Jesus.

My word for 2014 was “Rest”.  The loss of my husband and solo parenting our children through grief brought exhaustion on indescribable levels.  I most likely failed at 2014’s Word of the Year; just keeping it real, friends.

My word for 2015 was “Steadfast”.  God had proven Himself as steadfast to me and I wanted to exemplify that steadfast dependability to my children and others who needed stability from me for their own journeys.  This was the year we buried Tim’s ashes in the snow on the mountaintop of his favorite place.  God’s strength carried me through.

My word for 2016 was “Focus” as I craved remaining centered on Christ and His goodness to us.  I eliminated distractions in this year, simplified our lives with a move into our new home, and honed in on my top priority of raising our children to reach their highest potential.

My word for 2017 was “Open” as I longed to be open to whatever God brought for my future and committed to pray daily over myself that God would prepare me and my heart for His will.

My word for 2018 was “Semi-Colon”.  Continuing on with my life when I could let circumstances of my past dictate an end to joy, love, and full-on living was a CHOICE.  This vulnerability has brought some pain and heartache, along with some personal growth and boldness.  I am learning what I want for myself.  It is an ever-evolving work in progress. 

Five years post loss, empty nest, and best-friend moving across the country…so many changes are coming in the months ahead.  Before 2019 ends, I will truly be sitting here in this Edmond home alone.  My word for 2019 is COURAGE.  May I lean into the One who strengthens me for each day and builds within me for my future that only He knows.  2019 will require bravery, boldness, deep reflection, and discipline; it will demand COURAGE.

True to my Word of the Year, we will be beginning 2019 by trekking back to the burial site of our beloved Tim’s ashes.  I will, for the first time ever, be driving the mountain pass (which terrifies me).  I cannot think of a better way to kick off this new year with “courage”.  

Monday, October 29, 2018


Widowed at 42.

At that time, every future goal, dream, and plan included him.

Nearly five years out from the loss now, I am dreaming on my own; finding who I enjoy being as a solo; settling into my new normal.

My new normal doesn’t mean “less than” or “more than” what we had together.  It just means different.  Different isn’t always negative.  Sometimes it is just....well....different.

I experience joy.  I experience laughter, lots and lots of laughter.  Laughing is still my favorite thing.

One of the many precious things he did for me before he passed was to give me permission to LIVE in his earthly absence.  Really live.  He told me to love again.  [I know that sounds strange, believe me—it sounded unfathomable to me at the time! But if it ever happens in my future, I know I have his blessing.]  He told me to have fun. 

Last month I got to go on a little fishing excursion with a friend.  I had an absolute blast!  The peacefulness of being on the water brought back lots of fun memories and even though the fish weren’t biting, my soul enjoyed the change of scenery and the simple comfort of just hanging out.

My life today does not stand in competition against my previous years with him.  Both seasons have beauty; both seasons have had hard things and hurts.  Each are uniquely their own.

I had a wonderful early October birthday when we were treated with a super fun family night out to a Thunder game. 

I have had a busy four days, actively living...spending time with several different friends.  Art show, OSU walk around, OSU HOCO game, another Thunder game...it’s been so much fun for me!  Even got to have brunch with Tim’s favorite surgeon yesterday.  Such a blessing to spend time together laughing and bonding over our simultaneous singleness.  I should have snapped a photo with her gorgeous self.  Oh how he loved her!

Being with new friends and old friends over the past four days has filled me back up. Spending time just soaking up new experiences has revived my thirst for living; and ignited my desire for experiencing and treasuring the moments. 

We get this one life.  I want to live it well.  I want to be surrounded by a tribe of wonderful and kind people. 

I feel like I am succeeding in that goal.  Which I know would make him proud, but more importantly...it makes me proud of myself.  Stepping outside of my comfort zone and being vulnerable to include new people in my tribe is scary, but I think it will be worth it as I begin to dream new dreams for myself.  I am grateful for my friends who walk alongside me and my God who faithfully strengthens me.

God is good....Even If. ❤️
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Back to Back Seniors

It’s Senior Recognition Night for my girl and “her” football team. 

Today, I will slip my wedding ring back on as a symbol of his presence with us.

This girl of ours…she amazes me with her resilient spirit, her deep well of love for others, the wise use of her intelligence, her servant heart, and her strong work ethic.  So very many character qualities of her Daddy that I see in her make me smile.  She is witty and charming; strong beyond her years and she is one of the most giving souls I have ever known.

Watching her sacrificial serving of this team she loves over the past four years has been such an honor.  The fact that she has done it all with Tim as her audience from heaven above shatters parts of me I didn’t even know were still intact.  Senior years aren’t for weak mommas!  And doing “this” two years back to back without him by my side has been a roller coaster of epic emotions.

Tonight, Macie has asked my dad to walk with us.  We will be three generations of Reynolds strength and pride as we escort her to the 50 yard line.     

Make no mistake; her Daddy is beaming down from glory exclaiming, “That’s my girl!”  Macie, we are both so proud of the young woman you have grown into.  You serve others with a selfless grace.  You represent the Streller name and the name of our Savior with a fierce dignity.

I adore you and am honored to be your Mom.