Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Keep Putting My Feet on the Floor

The best advice I have received so far for what lies in my future is to remember to keep putting my feet on the floor.  I’ve been told this will be the hardest.  To wake up each morning with the fresh realization that half of my heart is missing and still CHOOSE to place my feet on the ground.

Without that choice, I will wallow in my sorrow all day long, just lying in my bed missing him.  And that simply won’t do.  We have children that need to be tended to.  We have chores that must be done.  I have a paycheck to earn so I can put food on the table and clothes on our backs.  I think I will prepare myself a list.  Like the list that used to hang on our young children’s closet doors.  A list of things to do each morning; like brush my teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, make my bed, spend time with Jesus.  They say that staying busy and keeping moving will help the pain to not be so overwhelming.  The preoccupation of my mind with menial tasks is supposed to stop the constant grieving.  I doubt that is true.  I can’t imagine the constant grieving ever coming to an end.  But others who have walked this path before me say it will lessen.  The stifling, suffocating, strangling of it all will somehow slowly dissipate.  I hope they are right. 

My goodness, I am not even on the other side of this life shattering situation and I already often feel like I have to remind my brain to tell my lungs to suck in sweet, crisp air.  And it hurts.  Breathing hurts.  It expands my ribcage and I feel physical pain in my chest; as though my heart already knows half of itself is about to rip away.  My lungs sting with the entry of air.  My head throbs with each blink of the eyelid.  When the grief hits (as at this point it comes in waves, unexpected and harsh) I find myself choking back sobs, and staring numbly into space.  How much worse will it be when his death occurs?  If it hurts to breathe now, how much harder will it be to then?  I cannot imagine.  Don’t want to really.  I am not interested in wrapping my brain around the horrible loneliness that will be. 
Oh, I “know” in my head that eventually I will smile again and laugh again.  My Tim would want that for me (and for our kids).  He would want it sooner than I will probably imagine feeling it.  I think laughter will be healing to us, since it is such an enormous part of who we are as a family.  Maybe I’ll add “smile” to my list of morning tasks.  Even if it begins as a fake smile to my own reflection in the mirror, eventually that smile will reach into my eyes again and one day a giggle will escape my lungs and travel through my lips.  This transformation will be a gift; a special gift to me from my Tim. 
The Day We Shaved His Head Because of Chemo
A gift from me back to him, also; as I know he wants the kids and me to carry on in this life the best we can and in as close to the same way we would if he were still here with us.  I do not want to disappoint him.  I want to honor his life and his memory.  I long to raise our children in the same manner we have dreamed of together.  This won’t be possible without putting my feet on the ground each morning.  It will be the most difficult of choices.  It would be the choice Tim would want me to make.  It is the example he has displayed for us during this twenty month battle for his life.  He has said repeatedly, “We just keep putting one foot in front of the other” and “It is what it is.”  We will honor his courageous battle by continuing to do the next right thing.
It will take unimaginable bravery.  Strength we cannot fathom.  Deeply-seeded heart discipline.  I am so thankful to have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me and the lives of our children.  His bravery, His strength, His discipline is what will carry us through.  One step at a time….but first, we have to be willing to place our feet on the ground.  Thankfully, God’s mercies are promised to be new every morning.  We will cling to His mercy.  It will steady us as we prepare to have those feet we have planted on the ground begin to absorb our weight as we shuffle through those first tiny steps. 

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
"This is the way; walk in it."
Isaiah 30:21


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marriage Lessons

It is tempting to look back with only fond memories….blocking out the true struggles and emotional hurts, painful stretching of personalities, and improvement of attitudes. 
But this wouldn’t be fair….to ourselves or to others watching.

The truth is marriage is HARD.
It takes commitment. 

It takes dedication. 
It takes compromise and selflessness. 

It takes a tremendous amount of forgiveness (more on Mr. Tim’s part than on mine, for sure).

               In the center

               In each heart
               In the good
                          and in the bad.

Mr. Tim and I are not perfect (shocking, I know).  We have made mistakes; we have hurt each other with words and choices.  We have been selfish and we have been full of pride.  I don’t want to forget the struggles.  Because the truth is…..the good times are sometimes only possible because of the growth done in the bad moments.   

We have had a beautiful marriage full of many more positives than negatives, lots of laughter, genuine respect and admiration for each other, and a deep love centered on Jesus.  We are the best of friends.  We’d rather be together than with anyone else.  It’s comforting to be so loved by someone.  Especially when they are the ONE person on this earth that knows your ugliest of ugly

thoughts, selfishness, and fears….

and they don’t walk away….ever. 

They love you through the “yuck” of yourself and help you grow into who God desires for you to be.  That’s my Tim.  That’s who he has been for me.  That’s who we have been for each other.  When centered on Jesus, it makes for a strong unity that
                                                                  just    feels     wonderful!

And it works.  And it’s beautiful.  And my heart is filled to the brim with happiness.

But we didn’t get here without conflict.  We didn’t walk down that aisle and instantly “know” how to resolve our differences.  We didn’t magically burn our individual selfish pride away when we lit the wedding unity candle. 

My Tim and I aren’t big fighters.  I know every relationship is different, but we can count our major arguments on one hand and we are over 18 years into this marriage.  (Mr. Tim gets all the credit for this, believe you me, I would have fought more if he would have engaged in a battle!  Bless him and his wisdom.  Bless his dependence on our Heavenly Father to guide him in leading our family!)   

We have spent the past 20 months together virtually 24/7, side by side.  Serving and caring for each other; communicating on the deepest of levels.  And we have enjoyed it!  We have grown even closer.  Our hearts are knit together even more intricately.  God has used this time to teach me something about conflict.  In this somewhat slower pace of our lives, I’ve been able to really pause when my feelings begin screaming that they are hurting.  I have been able to evaluate my hurt or our disagreement in the light of my Tim’s character.  I trust his character.  He has proven himself as trustworthy.  When I align my hurt feelings from something done/not done or said/not said with the character of the man I love most on this earth…..I am able to trust and validate his intentions.  Verbalizing my faith in his character helps to dissolve the conflict and opens my eyes to see that most of the time the issue has more to do with my selfish pride than my husband’s intentions.  OUCH.  Growth often requires hurt , humility, and repentance. 

So, has this marriage been perfect?  Absolutely not!  It has been good (great, really) and it has been fun; but I pray I never forget the struggles intermingled with the joy.  Because it’s important for me to remember and for our children to know…

                              that good things take hard work. 
                              that a strong marriage doesn’t just happen.

                              that being intentional and choosing to love when you don’t
                                                  feel like it are necessary character traits.

to treasure the importance of trusting and validating the character of your spouse especially when in an argument or dealing with hurt feelings. 

Thank You Lord Jesus, for the gift of marriage and the intense personal growth it brings about as we lean ever harder into You.  Amen.   


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Impenetrable Grief

It’s coming.  Grief so heavy we can hardly breathe.  It is right around the corner for the kids and me.  We have been grieving for the past 20 months in little ways, but the grief we have yet to experience will be all-consuming and suffocating.  On one of my runs a week or so ago, I was listening to my praise music and praying over my precious family and I was overcome with grief.  It washes over me at the oddest of times, really. 

The only way to describe it is impenetrable…..and the worst hasn’t even hit me yet.

Please understand that I am well aware our little unit of three will not be the only ones grieving for my husband.  He has parents and brothers and nieces and nephews who will mourn him.  He has in-laws who love him as their very own son and sibling.  He has work colleagues and great friendships.  And to each of you I say, " I acknowledge your grief will be real.  I know that you will be hurting and you will miss him too."  I will not pretend to know the ins and outs of your grief. 

I cannot even begin to understand what this grief will be like for our children.  I have never lost a parent, and when I do it certainly will not be at such a young and tender age, with so many life experiences ahead of me.  Likewise, they cannot begin to comprehend my grief.  We will be walking this road side by side…..but in our individual ways.

I will be the one who pulls into the garage at least twice a day to see the empty parking space where his truck belongs.

I will be the one to tuck our children in at night and pray with them, knowing this was their special “talk-time” ritual with their daddy.
I will be the one who crawls into bed alone (sometimes frightened) each night with no hand to hold or partner to pray with.  And I will wake up alone each morning.

It will be the three of us who set the table and try to make conversation at dinner while we are acutely aware of who is missing from their chair.

I will view his clothes in our closet multiple times each day.

I will be the one who won’t hear “I love you” daily again from the lips of the one I love.

It will be me who cleans out his bathroom drawers.

We will check the mail and find his name for months and maybe even years to come.

I will be the sole driver on vacations.  (This has primarily been his pleasure for the past nearly 19 years.)
We will change every light bulb and air filter, roll the trash to the curb each Sunday evening, and make general home improvements; all while using his tools from his tool box.

It will be me who never gets a sick day because work must be done and kids must be chauffeured.

I will sit at school plays and sporting events alone, cheering on our children.  They will perform and see only me acknowledging their accomplishments.  Their dad is one of their biggest fans.  I hope (but have not found  Scriptural assurance) that he will be given windows from heaven to peer down from time to time and observe us glorifying God through good sportsmanship and hard work.  Those moments would make him so proud.

I will attend couples Sunday school classes and sit through marriage bible studies alone…as a widow.

Tim will be missing from every moment of our day and we will KNOW it because the reminders will be oppressive, not that our hearts would let us forget anyway.

I will be the one who attends movies alone with no one to rest their hand on my knee.

There will be no one to tell me I look pretty when I get ready to go somewhere.  No dad to hug each child as they walk out the door.

There will be no more sweet surprise cards or notes to encourage me from my “boyfriend”.

No one will wash the dishes after I am exhausted from cooking. 

No one will help cycle laundry late at night or tug on the fitted sheet corners opposite me to get them snug.

And this list is just what comes to mind when I contemplate trying to go through a day without my Tim to share life with.  I truly have no idea how horrific it will actually be. 

Our daily life will be interrupted

moment by moment,

everywhere we turn

and with everything we see.
Unless you have experienced the death of your best friend and lover, you won’t know my specific pain.  And unless you have lost a parent while in junior high, you can’t truly comprehend the journey our children's hearts and minds will be on (and even then the individuality of the situations will be different).  So please…..

PLEASE, I am begging you….

…when the time comes, give the kids and me time to grieve. 

Don’t place us in a box and limit our grief process to what you think a proper time frame should be.  Don’t expect us to heal as quickly as you do or to return to “life as normal” soon, because we will need time to process our new “normal”, and it will take a while to sort through the gut-punches of everyday life without the man we each love most on this earth.

The grief will be impenetrable.  The good news about impenetrable grief is that God is with us in our grief.  He doesn’t need to penetrate the barrier.  His Holy Spirit lives within each one of us (praise God) and He will guide us and bring healing to us……in His time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


We are a quilt-loving family.  My Granny loved to sew and we have an abundance of them. 
No really…

 This is my formal dining room armoire where normal people would store fine china…
I keep a stash of a dozen or so quilts here for easy access on family television night. 
(There are only four of us, mind you.) 
But seriously…upstairs, downstairs, in practically every room and on every bed, you will find quilts.  We are a “comfy-casual” family and it is common to see a child walking around the house with a quilt slung over their shoulders, wrapping themselves in softness. 

Actually, now that I think about it, we may have a slight obsession with quilts.

Don’t tell me your bookshelves aren't crammed with another 10 quilts.  It’s normal, right?  What is better than grabbing a book and a quilt (or three) and snuggling down somewhere cozy for a nice long read?
I love the texture and patterns of quilts.  Some in my collection have scraps of material that I recognize from outfits my granny sewed for us grandkids (all four of us girls until a decade after my birth brought about her first and only grandson).  Holding a quilt is like looking back in time and remembering my childhood.  I like to rub my fingers across the seams.  Some were hand quilted by my beloved Granny and many were machine sewn (or the quilting was hired out as she became too old to see well and arthritis began to cripple her hands).  Each quilt holds special memories for me.  My Granny was one of my confidants in life.  She knew more truths about my life than most.  We shared long talks and several secrets.  She loved me unconditionally and I loved her deeply.  She was ornery and she had a wonderful sense of humor.  I miss her and think of her often.  She passed away last year while I was with Tim in Houston preparing for radiation treatments.  I wasn’t able to be with her when she left this earth, but I know she knew the depths of my love and respect for her.  And now, as I curl up in one of the quilts, knowing that her hands have touched and created each seam…I feel comfort.   
This is me with Granny.

Last Christmas, there was a very real possibility that my husband would not be celebrating with us.  I desperately wanted our children to have gifts from their father under the tree.  Not just a gift “tagged” from him, but something more personal.  Something they could physically cling to in the years to come.  And so, typical to my nature, I began planning ahead, sorting through Tim’s closet last summer and pulling shirts that had special memories or meanings to us.  I delivered these shirts to my mom and asked her to make them into a quilt for each of the kids.

And on Christmas morning, I was blessed beyond measure to witness these exchanges between our precious children and my amazing husband.

A quilt is not unlike an overview of a time period in our lives.  As we look back over the years past we can see God’s faithful hand meticulously sewing each piece of cloth together.  Some pieces are scraps from someone else’s discarded pile and some are beautiful and vibrant selections of cloth, but all of the pieces are necessary and come together to make an amazing story that, when we allow it, will provide peace and comfort. 

God is always at work in our lives. 

He uses our past and our present to prepare us for our future.  He places special people in our lives to help us navigate the difficult times and celebrate the good seasons with.  In this analogy, I view God as the sewer, carefully selecting each cloth to bind together.  I view Jesus as the threads that hold each cloth tightly to one another.  And I view the individual strips of cloth as friends, family and experiences that have shaped us into who we each are today. 

What a beautiful quilted story my life has been because God chose to join me together with my parents and siblings and eventually my husband and own children.  And what a blessing each and every friend (new and old) has been as they have surrounded and supported us during these past 20 months.  God promises to make beauty from ashes, and I dare say that He already has begun the process.  He is good and I am blessed. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Home Responsibilities Don't Take Breaks....

Today it hit me that I used to keep a big home and the 1.3 acres with 7 large flower beds and pool area immaculate (as in show room ready all day everyday) while cooking no less than two meals a day for my family and volunteering at the kids school, teaching Bible studies (on keeping the home no less), working part time, training for half marathons and attending BSF.
I didn't do these things for the purpose of "show", I did them to honor my God's commands in Titus and to exemplify the Proverbs 31 woman described in Scripture. I did it with joy. It was my "job" and a small way I could support and respect my husband, his amazing work ethic and the comforts his hard work had provided through God's blessings.
And today.......
I barely got 2 loads of laundry done, the downstairs vacuumed and the stairway woodwork dusted. Only one meal was "homemade" for my children (because cereal doesn't count as homemade even though they poured it themselves ) and that meal was 30 minutes late! I did get a few miles of running in with the oldest (and by "with", clearly I mean way, far behind him....way far) after we helped with a service project at the school. 
But I am whooped! Totally whooped
Lately, if you show up unannounced at my door, there is a greater chance that there will be a pile of laundry on the couch or on the folding station in the laundry room (unfolded, mind you) than not. I would bet that at least 2 of the 3 beds will not be made and at least one glass will be left out on the kitchen island from breakfast (at LEAST). And let's just all pretend that my measly four itty bitty flower beds don't have weeds growing in them and instead are full of beautiful fall pansies. Haha I miss the old me! Which made me think that my family probably does too.

And while I am pretty sure God understands my current stress level and emotional instability (be afraid, be very afraid), it doesn't change His Scriptures, nor does it change how they apply to my life. 
So it seems I've got a little work to do. Time to step up my game again. Just as soon as I finish perusing facebook. LOL


We hear often, “God is still a God of miracles, don’t give up hope.”  And the sweet people who share these words with us mean well and are speaking truth. 

God IS still in the miracle-making business. 

He delights over His children and their genuine prayers. {2 Samuel 22:20 NLT, Proverbs 15:8 MSG}

Can God heal Tim?  YES!  Will God heal Tim?  YES!  Will that healing come on this earth?  IT STILL COULD…

…and it is okay if it doesn’t. 

This is our family’s testimony. 

That we are accepting of God’s perfect will in our lives, regardless of whether or not things work out the way we desperately long for them to.  We have prayed fervently for healing and we have believed it will come.  It has not yet, and barring a super natural, God-sized, miracle, it most likely will not occur until Tim leaves this earthly body.  Hear me now; I still believe with every fiber of my being that God can heal Tim on this earth.    

But, may I be so bold as to share something a little deeper?

Friends, as much as I want a miracle healing for my Tim here on this earth, I do not want to be blind to the miracles God IS performing in our lives while we wait for the healing to come; whether the healing is earthly or heavenly.

Do you hear me?

God has miraculously kept Tim free from the horrendous and vile pain that should be accompanying this cancer battle. 

God has miraculously kept me from having a complete nervous and mental breakdown (for reals, people…this is ONLY by the grace of God).

God has miraculously comforted our children and given them the strength and stamina to participate in life, maintain their school studies and compete in cross country.

God has miraculously limited me to a single illness over the past 20 months as I have cared for Tim!

God has miraculously given Tim and us the mental fortitude to keep doing the next right thing.

God has miraculously enabled Tim’s body to stay with us longer than the medical world anticipated.

God has sweetly and miraculously blessed us with the ability to maintain our sense of humor through this journey.  (Oh how we have so desperately needed the daily laughter to fill our home!)

God is in the miracle-making business all right, even when it isn’t THE miracle on the to-do list that we have meticulously made for Him!  Just because we don’t get what we ask for, doesn’t mean God isn’t working miracles.

Please don’t mistake our preparations for what is expected to come next as lack of faith, or us giving up hope.  Quite the opposite is true.  Our HOPE lies in Jesus Christ {Romans 8:24-30}.  He is the anchor to our souls {Hebrews 6:19}.  His promise is that He will never leave us in this journey {Deuteronomy 31:8}.        

So will you join our family in keeping our eyes open and focused on our Savior as we rejoice in the miracles He has chosen to bless us with?  We accept His perfect wisdom and discretion in His miracle making.  We are trying our hardest to not question the “Why” of it all and to REST in His peace.  We are grateful.  We are eager to see more blessings of modern day miracles as He continues to work in and through our lives.  We don’t want to miss giving thanks for a single blessing that is poured out from heaven onto us.  We like to call it having our “Blessing Goggles” on. 

Lord, our hearts desire that we may stay focused on You and Your amazing blessings and miracles regardless of what our future holds!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Baldness Reality {a hospital journal entry from the wee hours of March 19, 2013}

Last night I was scrolling through my hospital journal and I found this entry.  Fresh tears fell once more.   


How can lack of hair make such a difference?  I kiss his bald head goodnight, crawl onto my cot and lay still, listening until I know he is asleep.  Then the tears slide down my cheeks and drip onto my pillowcase. 

There is something about the baldness that rips at my heart when he is in his hospital bed. 

He looks smaller.

He looks older.

He looks more frail.

He looks scared.

His bright blue eyes seem to pierce my soul as if to say, "capture this memory, for the end is near".  I lie awake in the wee hours of the morning after a mere nap during the long night.  Listening to the whimpering in his sleep and his uneven breathing.  Wanting to be here to reassure him when he briefly wakes up confused and restless. 

Reality is a cold slap across my face.  The past 13 days have been our closest to normal we have had in a long time....and I almost forgot.

Forgot that he has only been given months to live. 

Forgot that this chemo is not a cure but a prolonging of life.

Forgot that he will not grow old beside me.

Forgot that I will be responsible to lead our children into adulthood without him.

My heart aches so deeply that I literally feel physical pain and struggle to catch my breath through the silent sobs.

I read that journal entry and a flood of memories burst forth.  So many sleepless  days and nights I have spent watching him sleep in a hospital bed.  Oh so very many.  This journal entry was from March of 2013.  It is October now, and my man is still here beside me.  With the chemotherapy treatments stopped, he is ever so slowly growing back in the hair on his head and face.  We celebrate the baby eyelashes and new peach fuzz atop his head.  But more than anything, we celebrate the gift of time. 

I wouldn't trade the past 7 months of "extra time" with my Tim for all the sleep in the world.  What a blessing it has been to be by his side during the treacherous journey through chemotherapy, living my wedding vows out loud to the love of my life. 

It hurts. 

It is the hardest of hards. 

But I am grateful to my God for it......this gift of time.  Even as it slips away.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." ~Psalm 90:12     


The Reason Behind the Blog Name

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Where's the "Easy Button"????

Receiving the doctor’s call saying “it’s cancer” in February 2012 was hard.  Having to share the news with Tim was even harder.  Juggling the scheduling of local specialists versus MD Anderson while trying to “act normal” on our family ski vacation was difficult.  Trying to keep the stress from affecting our children was impossible.  The constant travel back and forth to Houston and eventual relocation for radiation therapy was beyond mind-boggling.  The sleepless nights, the multiple spreadsheets of medications, the exercises and the therapies were tough to manage.  Hearing the radiation did not kill the cancer was devastating.  Walking the dark months of massive surgery with multiple major complications was excruciating.  Learning the cancer had returned (and so quickly) knocked the breath out of us.  Navigating 10 rounds of intensive chemotherapy and the 13 weeks in the hospital that resulted from it were exhausting.  Watching our emergency savings dwindle away due to the mountain of medical bills has been terrifying.  Deciding enough is enough and choosing to live the final time treatment-free was brave, but still emotionally draining.  Putting the final preparations together for Tim’s Celebration of Life service is surreal.   

And now…….

We are left to experience the process of dying.  And it stinks.  And it doesn’t seem fair.  And there is no “easy” button.  When the time comes, we want an easy button for Tim to press and immediately be in the presence of God, whole again and without disease or worry.  We think he has earned this and deserves it.  It doesn’t matter what we think, the easy button does not exist and the process must be endured.  And so we walk this path with broken hearts, weary minds and crushed dreams. 

We lay it all…..

all the “hardness” of it,

at the feet of Jesus along with our crumpled, exhausted, earthly bodies. 

And He says……


He knows what it is like to face hard things {Luke 4:1-13; Matthew 27:26-31}.  He knows what it is like to suffer a death that feels unfair and undeserved (for His truly was {2 Corinthians 5:21}).  He knows what it is like to mourn for a lost loved one (He wept for his dear friend, Lazarus {John 11:35}).  He knows what it is like to wish for the “EASY” button (for He Himself asked of God for the cup to pass from Him if it was at all possible {Matthew 26:39}).

He also knows what it is like to be victorious over death {1 Corinthians 15:55}.  He knows what it is like to walk the streets of gold in heaven and to be in the presence of the Most High God {Luke 22:69; Hebrews 8:1; Psalm 110:1}.  He knows what it is like to be free from suffering {John 19:30}.  He knows and He is preparing a place for those who love and trust Him that we may also know these things for ourselves {John 14:1-3}.

Thank You, Lord, for KNOWING and for LOVING us in our difficulties.  You never fail to meet us right where we are.  You are God, YOU ARE GOOD, forever Faithful One.  Even if the healing doesn’t come on this earth, it WILL come in Your holy presence.  We are grateful that You are real and You are relatable and You are sovereign.  Although You don’t provide an “easy button”, You are true to Your promises of Scripture that You will conform us more into Your likeness when we face tribulations and remain focused on You.  Lord, our eyes are on You and when we look away, please remind us of Your presence so that we may correct our focus.  This season is HARD.  Thank You, that You know the depths of our pain, sorrow and frustration.  Thank you for Your perfect love.  Thank You, Father, for your offer of salvation through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You that we don’t have to do anything or strive to be perfect enough to earn this gift, but that it is offered to us freely through Your amazing grace.  Amen.