Monday, August 27, 2018

Give Me Strength

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I am an over thinker.  Like, on the level of needing an Over-thinker’s Anonymous Group. 

It is how God designed me, and when used properly, I can solve intricate problems with organized thoughts and structured processes.  But when left unchecked….I can create drama in my mind that doesn’t even exist!  Isn’t that the truth with many of our personalities?  What may be one of our greatest strengths can also double as one of our greatest weaknesses.

By nature, I am a planner.  The old Lori was planning-obsessed to the point that I sinned in it.  I used my over thinking and planning as a source of feeling I could control things around me.  Tim’s cancer and eventual death revealed that false security of “control” in me and ripped it away permanently. 

Now I am intimately aware of both what I don’t have control of and what I am responsible for controlling.

I am solely responsible to keep my eyes on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords as He guides me to lead this family.  It is not the role I desired.  Oh how I cherished and thrived being under the leadership of my husband; how Tim honored me by placing me in charge of things like our budget, the children’s schedules, and our homes.  I was confident.  I miss being trusted to handle these things responsibly.  I still have to handle them, but now it isn’t out of a position of trust from anyone but out of necessity.  And it feels less like a privilege and more like just another thing I “have” to do alone.  Bitterness will creep in if I am not careful.  Exhaustion often overtakes me. 

I cannot control much of anything except where I place my eyes and how I respond to what I encounter in this life.

I’ve learned in the over four and a half years since his passing, that my attitude determines how this family moves forward.  Unfortunately, I’ve allowed the negativity of grief to rule my heart far too often.  When I allow the promises in God’s Word to be stolen from me by the enemy, we all suffer.  The enemy loves to distract me from Truth by placing negative thoughts (about others, about myself, about everything basically) on auto-repeat in my brain.  My efforts to keep all the balls in the air, to maintain structure for the kids, to keep their lives progressing with forward momentum and try to compensate for his loss by helping other areas of their life remain stable…it has drained me of myself.  And without realizing it, I let my depletion distract me from guarding my heart and mind from the negative thoughts and judgements that are untruths.

God is so patient with me!  I owe our precious children an apology for my failures.  They have lost so much in their young lives already.  I hate that I allowed a positive and cheerfully energetic mother to sometimes be stolen from them over the past few years as well.

I do have control of taking captive my thoughts. 

I do have control of how I respond to the crisis we have survived.

I do have control of keeping my eyes on the One who has never left our side; the risen One who extends His strength in my weakness.

I do have control over surrendering my emotions at the foot of the cross.

I have control over not sinning in my anger and disappointment.

With hands uplifted, I declare it is well with my soul. 

Oh Lord, give me strength to say and mean it is well with my soul!   

Thank You for Your redemptive love and careful correction in my life.
Your grace, oh Lord, washes over me again and again.  Your endless love pours down on our little family of three and I turn to You in praise and worship.  With a grateful heart for the privilege of being Mom to these two, I surrender my thoughts before Your throne and claim Philippians 4:8 over my mind.  Amen  

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


I don’t know what to do with this day…your “would-be-fiftieth-birthday”.

I haven’t found anything in the Bible about birthdays and heaven.  I don’t know if you age there or not.  I can’t imagine there is any significance to your earthly birthday anymore once there…but it is still an emotional day for us here.

Gone at forty-five.

When I turned 45, I spent the year keenly aware that it was the age you were when you left us.  Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling.  Too young.  You were far too young to leave us.  Then, I turned 46 and in this year, I have felt an urgency to LIVE.  I have emotions of guilt that I have now outlived your age here…I feel heavy responsibility to live for the both of us…I have utter exhaustion in doing this life without you.  Forty-six has been tough and beautiful, deep and healing, difficult and reflective for me.

But today, today you would be 50.  And I cry at the thought.  I found myself mentally, emotionally, and physically weakened with the knowledge of this date’s approach.  Five years from our planned retirement.  This time with the kids as they battle their own grief monsters, complete high school, and launch into college is precious to me; and it comes with such a deep heaviness in my soul.  As I told you in your final weeks, 
“I know with God I CAN do this; I just don’t WANT to do this life without you.” 
It isn’t fair.  It stinks.  It is lonely and more difficult than I ever could have fathomed.  Not that there aren’t wonderful times and beauty and laughter and joy…but this is HARD.  Our constant awareness of you missing from every milestone cuts from every angle.      

We would be on a family trip somewhere exotic this week.  Celebrating YOU.  Zip lining, parasailing, sun soaking, beach volleyball-ing, carrot cake eating celebrations.  Today just leaves me physically ill without you here.

Instead, we flip through photographs, get lost in memories, and smile at the sky hoping He gives you a glance at us as God catches our every tear.

You are loved. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas 2017 Emotions

I awoke this morning; conflicted emotions twirling about within my soul.

I am happy. I am blessed with these precious humans God has briefly given me charge over.

I am weeping.  I miss their daddy so very much. I mourn for all he has missed these past four years.

I am joy filled at who our children have grown to become; their sincerity, their humor {often inappropriate}, their perseverance. The process of growth always requires stretching and discomfort. It hasn’t been easy shepherding them to this point, and we will face difficulties in the path ahead as well; but when the dust settles on each day and I pause to observe, my heart finds answered prayers sprinkled throughout and deep gratitude.

I am specifically sentimental over the Christmas season this year.

My word for 2017 has been “open”.  I have prayed daily for God to prepare and open my heart for my future. (Think empty nest on the horizon here.) I have tried my hardest to remain grace filled and open minded in my parenting decisions. I have allowed myself to be open to the floodgate of griefs’ emotions as they have washed over me (so much hardness in this process).

And here we are, the three of us, entering the final days of 2017 together.  My heart is thankful. 

These people are such a glorious reflection of their father and my love affair. My three greatest gifts in this life are my personal salvation through Christ Jesus, the honor of being the wife of Tim Streller, and the privilege of being mom to these incredible humans.

Merry Christmas from the Streller Family

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Every Little Thing

Yesterday, I cried for at least a solid one third of my day.

{I think that’s the real reason I don’t cry very often…I’ll leak a tear here or there, I’ll choke up and have to take a moment to regain my composure, but rarely do I ever just allow myself to bawl it out; because once I allow the floodgates to open…I can’t rein it back in.  There is definitely a point of no return.  And yesterday morning, I hit that point.}

Our kids are growing up.  I think that is what triggered this cry-fest.  All the years of us praying for the blessing of parenthood, followed by the years of praying daily over their lives and who they will become, praying fervently for God to mold them into independent, kind, leaders with a closeness to Him and good friendships…only to see it come to fruition. 

And now, we are embarking on an adventure that Tim and I dreamed together, yet I am left here alone to oversee; this launching of them into adulthood.  Their senior years of high school, the college visits and decisions, the family vacations, the navigation of first relationships; it’s a lot for a two parent home to guide.  And here I am.  Solo.  Quite frankly, I’m just winging it most days, trusting God to fill in the gaps of my parenting failures, and begging Him to help me pause to enjoy the blessing that these two are in each moment. 

Answered prayer is what they are.  My hearts cry was for the gift of motherhood.  God heard the petitions of my heart and granted me this blessing.  And with the blessing of being their mother, comes the experiencing of all their milestone life events.  Each one marvelously beautiful and joy filled!  Nothing can take away from that truth.  But likewise, each now has a tinge of sorrow and missing.  I refuse to give it permission to overpower the moments of happiness, but that heart-sting is still there.  

You see, once your spouse (or parent if you are a child) is gone, nothing is ever the same.  No joy experienced is without the shadow of missing.  There is always a longing for the lost one to be experiencing it beside you.  It never really goes away; this yearning for their presence. 

This is the place where joy and sorrow co-mingle.   

WE are the place where happiness and grief collide.

And it is okay.

The tears are okay.  The joy and laughter are okay.  It is ALL a swirl of our reality. 

Every little thing…he is missing from.  It simply is what it is.

So if you see me gazing off into the distance, eyes brimming with tears, breath ragged; know that I am just fine.  I am grateful for the blessings in my life.  I am trying my best to navigate witnessing the fulfillment of so very many shared dreams alone, and trying to soak it all in for the both of us.  Sometimes I get a little lost in the moment, but love always wins and gratitude is always present.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Surprised Missing Role

She had surgery today. 

Our girl. 

It wasn’t massive, only an hour or so under anesthesia, but my heart still felt anxiety.

Tears stung my eyes as I prayed over her last night and this morning.

Will medical events; however minor, ever feel normal again? 

I sat in the waiting room with her boyfriend and my mom, journaled a prayer into the prayer book I keep for her, and thought a lot of you. 

I’ve spent far too many hours in waiting rooms petitioning our God for safety and healing.

Today brings back the flood of memories from being your caregiver for our 19 years of marriage.   

Never a year passed where we weren’t at one specialist or another concerning your health; countless surgeries, dozens and dozens of them. 

We are home now.  She is resting as comfortably as possible.  I am caring for her, changing ice packs, explaining where she is to her as the anesthesia continues to cause confusion.  And a lump forms in my throat. 

I miss being your caregiver.  I didn’t realize until now how much I miss that role.  I miss YOU the most, obviously, but I miss expressing my love to you through tenderly caring for you all those years. 

As I read through all of the pre- and post- surgical instructions last night and organized all of her medications on the bathroom counter, I had so many memories of doing the same for you.  It had become a part of who I am.  Another consequential loss compounded by your departure to heaven.

I am tired.  So very weary lately.  No particular reason.  Life is good.  We continue to engage as a family and laugh daily.  But I would love a week to not get out of bed.  Although I fear if I ever take such luxury, I may never return to living.  So, we press on.  We put our feet on the ground each morning and we do our work, love each other, look for ways to serve others, and keep making the next right choice.

And we try to enjoy the process of figuring out who we are now, without you by our side.  Three and a half years into this “newness” and I’m not sure any of us have fully found ourselves yet.  And that’s okay.  We will get there eventually. 

Our one constant, the solitary that has remained unchanged in your absence is the presence of God.
He is enough.  I trust Him to redefine each of our roles in this life in His perfect timing.

For today, I’m allowing the missing and the sorrow to wrap itself around me for a bit.  Then, tonight, I will fold it up and tuck it away until the next time.  It’s how I do this life now.  And that’s okay too.