Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of the First's?

New Year’s Eve of 2015... 

How is this even possible?  It is our final “first” holiday without Tim by our side. 

In many ways I just want the clock to strike 12:01 so I can declare we “survived” the first year of firsts.  But then I realize, in several days we will have to cross that one year anniversary of his passing.  And then in a few weeks, we still have to return to our favorite family vacation spot and hit the slopes for the first time without him.  I think maybe that will be the official threshold of our survival of the “firsts”. 

Our family of three has so many things to be thankful for from 2014.  We have so much gratitude in our hearts for the men and women who have stepped into our lives and stood in the gap for us.  It is completely humbling and overwhelming to sit and recall this past year.  I cannot even list all the ways we have been blessed by friends and family; I know I would inadvertently miss someone or something.  What a great problem to have, huh?

From the two men who came and oversaw the removing of Tim’s body from our home because I was too fearful to have that vision permanently ingrained in my or the kid’s minds; to the help around our home with lawn care or projector light bulb changing; youth who showed up for furniture moving during floor repairs and anonymous gift cards arriving in the mailbox...we have been cared for.  The precious friend whose final text to Tim was that she would keep me supplied with Dr. Pepper (a text he never was able to read) who has faithfully showed up randomly throughout the year with my sweet addiction treat.  I mean, it is insane how the body of Christ has intimately and intentionally loved on us. 

I really am not going to continue listing, but this tiny glimpse into a few of our blessings gives you the picture of what an amazing group of family and friends we have. 

These are the things that flood my mind as I remember 2014, the blessings.  My heart is filled with gratitude to our amazing God for His great love.  He is where our strength lies. 

Was this year hard?  It has been absolutely gut-wrenching.  I would never want to paint a false picture of the depths of grief and the horror of the deepest sorrows.  Everywhere we turn; it is obvious who is missing from our daily life.  But please hear me, WITH CHRIST, joy and sorrow can co-mingle.  In His great love, we find peace and we find comfort.  Even in the saddest times. 

We are grateful and we are thankful.  Tim is exactly where he is supposed to be.  In God’s great sovereignty that I cannot always understand, He is orchestrating beauty in our lives.  Tim is already experiencing the unfiltered beauty of his Savior.  We will one day join him for eternity.

Until then, we choose joy. 

We choose gratitude. 

And we choose to live lives that honor God and honor our husband/daddy’s memory.

          


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Transforming Power (as seen on A Widow's Might)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
~Galatians 5:22-23 {NIV}

Being a widow is not exactly what we had planned for our lives, is it?  Being dealt the “BIG W” card has really shaken things up.  So many things are vastly different in our lives without our husbands.  Practically every aspect of our world has been altered.
Oddly, as I am learning to accept this new title, I realize it isn’t just that my life has drastically changed; it is that the innermost part of me is shifting as well.
Listen, I’ve had a love affair with our God since the age of 14.  He has been constant and patient towards me.  My devotion has ebbed and flowed throughout the decades.  Regretfully, I have spent some seasons distancing myself from His righteousness, and thankfully, I have spent many seasons running full speed into His open arms.
The past several years have been spent clinging desperately to His promises as He has stretched me into someone I hardly recognize.  He is faithfully nurturing this widow and transforming me on the inside just as drastically as my life has changed on the outside.
Truthfully, I mess up often and sometimes in big ways; but I am learning to live life by the Spirit one tiny, baby step at a time.  By continually tapping into the power of the Holy One dwelling inside of me, I find access to the fruit of His Spirit.  I have a long way to go in my transformation, but the glimpses of where His power is slowly taking me; well they look something like this:
*More loving and empathetic towards others. 
*Joyful, even in my deepest of sorrow. 
*Peaceful inside in the midst of a life that looks to be in chaotic change from the outside. 
*A tiny bit more patient (personally not my strongest attribute).
*Softer and kinder, both to others and to myself (which is huge for this rehabilitating perfectionist).
*Choosing good things…good attitudes, good words, good facial expressions, and good actions.
*Faithfully believing He has control of my life and the lives of my loved ones.
*A gentleness that doesn’t distract from strength but instead enhances it.
*Calm self-control, focused more on obedience to my Savior and less on me controlling anything.
This transforming of every part of me, it hurts sometimes.  I think of it as earning my “Spiritual stretch marks”.  The stretching is not pleasant, but the reward is phenomenal!  Spiritual stretch marks reflect the growth God is creating in my heart and I am grateful that He redeems my pain to use for His glory.
Can you relate?  Have you noticed a softening of your spirit as you nestle deeper into the arms of our Father during this all-changing whirlwind of widowhood?  Sisters, as one who is walking this road too, I gently urge you to tap into the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.  Tap in and then watch how God stretches you while growing His fruits within you.
Father God, You are faithful to produce spiritual fruit in our lives when we hand over control to You.  Thank You for the work You are doing in each widow’s heart, as You transform us more into Your likeness.  There is such beauty in the women You desire for us to be.  You are patient as You mold us and stretch us, You are forgiving when we forget to surrender, and You are gracious and kind.  Lord, help us to keep in step with Your Spirit within us.  Amen.  
This article was featured on A Widow's Might

Friday, December 12, 2014

Eleven Months

Today is the 11th. 

It's been eleven months since Tim went to heaven. 

In many ways, today was just another day in our new normal. I had the oldest home from school sick today for the third day this week. As he started feeling better this afternoon, we took an hour for him to practice his driving. He is doing great, but he doesn't enjoy it. I had the youngest at early basketball practice at school and then late riding lessons at the barn. And as usual, I squeezed in my work hours around the kids schedules.

While life continues moving forward, the 11th always hits me in a tender way. Tim is still constantly on our minds and daily in our conversations.

The holidays make the missing of him harder than I ever could have imagined. Memories flood my mind with every fire in the fireplace, every morning Bible Study, every walk into our home. We are leaning hard into Jesus right now. Loving each other. Extending grace. There is sadness.

But there is also laughter. There is ornery sarcasm and joking. There are references to old family jokes and new "sayings" that the kids recite and crack up over. Honestly, I don't always get their humor, but I love the laughter! It reminds me of their Daddy, his quick wit and contagious laugh.

I wonder often what he is doing, who he is visiting with, I envision him in a country setting with sun-kissed skin, an easy smile and a sparkle in those beautiful blue eyes of his. I imagine him enjoying time with the children from our family who had gone to heaven before him. I know he would enjoy long walks exploring nature and visiting with his Savior.

It's weird to be separated from the one person on earth you have loved most. The one person who knew all your secrets, and cherished you anyway. The one person who chose to stand by you, who stayed when times were difficult, who celebrated when times were magical. The person that could make you laugh the deepest belly laughs and could also hold you through the gut-wrenching tears. To not have the one you've experienced the most memories with; or the one who has seen you at your absolute ugliest and still claimed you were gorgeous...it's a bit much to process. The "missing" of such intimacy can be all-consuming and terrifying.

I am grateful for a God who promises to never leave or forsake me. I am reminded that there is One who knows me even better than Tim did and loves me even deeper. So tonight, as I lay my weary head on the pillow, I am focused on the One who loves with a perfect love, the One who chooses to stay with me in difficulty and triumph. The One who has seen my sin and forgiven it.

"The Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace." -Psalm 29:11

What If We Have It All Wrong?

I stand in my kitchen, unloading and re-loading the dishwasher.  My heart is heavy.  I am distracted from my task with a million different thoughts intermingled with prayers for loved ones that are facing yuck in this life.  I mean Y-U-C-K.  Memories of a conversation between Tim and me in his final weeks dance in and out of my consciousness.  I can’t quite grasp hold of the exact wording and I want so much to chase it down and share it with you.  Instead, I will write out the ramblings that keep bubbling to the surface. 

What if we have it all wrong?

This life that we cherish and hold sacred, what if we are clinging onto the wrong thing?  With every ounce of our strength, we beg for more time HERE, in THIS life, on this EARTH.  What if we are wrong? 

What IF we have our thinking backwards?

While this life is important and sacred, what if it isn’t what we are all about?  Or at least isn’t supposed to be what we are all about?  Where does eternity play into our desire to “never leave” here or our fear of death?

One of Tim’s closest friends is a wise pastor.  He would say to Tim with each horrendous cancer surgery or life threatening treatment…

“Well, it’s either gonna get better or it’s gonna get a whole lot better.” 

Let that sink in a bit. 

God was either going to make Tim better on this earth, or He was going to heal him completely in heaven for eternity.  Which one of those is really what Tim needed?  Which healing mattered the most?

Our selfish human side wants death to never occur.  No suffering, no separation from our loved ones.  I get that.  I have experienced those exact same emotions.  But just go here with me for a moment…

What if we could see earthly death of a believer as God sees it? 

Do you think when Tim crossed over the threshold into heaven the other saints and angels were consoling him?  Was Jesus apologizing that He didn’t give Tim more time in this sin-filled, illness-infected, cruel and evil world?

Or were they all celebrating and praising God together?  Were they ecstatic that Tim’s eternity could now begin?  His healing had finally come to fruition, a healing that would never be erased or marred by death again. 

I can’t answer the “why’s”.  Why we stubbornly grasp tightly to this life that is but a vapor in the time table of eternity? [James 4:14]  Why we see death as the “worst possible scenario” when we are praying for healing?  Why we treasure this life in a way that ignores the picture of eternity?  I can’t answer them, but I do think it is possible that we
Have
It
All
Wrong.

I’m NOT saying this life is worthless or not worthy of us giving our best to the Lord.  I am NOT saying that anyone fighting to stay alive should just roll over and give up.  I am NOT saying any of those things, and hopefully those of you reading this have followed our family’s journey long enough to not take this post out of the context of who we are in Christ or our testimony of His faithfulness.

I am merely sharing the thoughts that swirled in our heads and captured our hearts as Tim lay in his hospice bed.  And I am thinking that just maybe, if God is swirling them back into my consciousness right now…He has a reason and someone needs to hear this.  I trust Him to make sense of it for you.


What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear your perspective and what God stirs up in your heart over this.       

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Planner in Me Meets Full Surrender

I am a planner. 

I like lists and processes and am very keen on organization.

I think through things from many different angles, playing devil’s advocate with my own thoughts to determine their solidity.

Some view this as a weakness in me.  Some view it as strength.  I can drive people crazy with my lack of care-free-ness while at the same time comforting others with my preparedness.  It just depends on who I am dealing with at the time.  

My craving for a controlled environment can be my largest attribute and my biggest stumbling block.  It depends how I use it.

God is a planner.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has planted eternity in the human heart” {NLT}

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” {ESV}

Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands.” {ESV}

Ephesians 1:11-12 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” {ESV}

It warms this planner girl’s heart to know that her Creator is the greatest Planner of all! 

But if I am completely honest, the reality is that it also frustrates this planner girl’s heart when my plans and His plans don’t line up together.

And that, my friends, is where my mind has settled this morning.

I think the holidays have brought these thoughts to the forefront of my mind.  Tim and I had many plans for our lives; many plans.  One of our biggest dreams for our family was BIG holiday celebrations with our kids, their spouses and their children.  We knew how we wanted holidays to be.

My Thanksgiving tree as our dinner centerpiece, with blessing tags for each family member to fill out and then us reading those blessings off one by one after our feast.  Then Christmas Eve candlelight church service as we filled an entire row with just our loved ones.  Back home in our pajamas, Tim reading the Christmas story from the Bible as we gathered by the fire.  It would be our turn, as the jovial grandparents, to spoil each family member rotten with the Reynolds’ family tradition of Christmas Bingo.  The games, the gingerbread house decorating contests, the music and the gifts; joy would radiate from every corner of our home.

When Tim died this past January, he was only 45 years young.  He left me with a 13 year old daughter and a 14 year old son.  I was 42.  I have cried out many times over these past ten months“but what about OUR plans???”

With tear stained cheeks and body-shuddering sobs I have told God that I don’t understand.

I have expressed my discontent with where life has come and frustration with how I can’t see where it is going.

I have wrestled with the reality that life isn't fair.

And I have slowly surrendered my plans.

It hasn't been easy.  In fact, this surrender has been one of the most painful processes of my life.  It snuggles up in line behind the loss of Tim and the loss of our baby through miscarriage years ago.  Painful isn't even a strong enough word to describe it.  Remember, I like order and I like plans.  

When Tim died, I felt stripped bare, as though he took all of our plans with him.

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” {NIV}  

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” {ESV}

I have truly found contentment in where God has me.  

This contentment doesn't eliminate my selfish wish for Tim to still be by my side, living out our plans and dreams together.  What I have found though, is that if given the power to bring Tim back…I surprisingly wouldn't.  My love for him is too great to desire ripping him away from the perfection of love and true life he is experiencing with our Savior.  My heart soars with happiness for Tim.  His total healing brings me peace.

I just miss him.

I miss our dreams and plan-making.

I feel a bit lost trying to sort out “our” dreams for the future of our family.  In the process, I find that while things will be altered from our original plans, as long as I remain focused on God as the head of this family, we can find joy in our present and in our future.

We can still have a beautiful life.

God willing, we can still have an altered version of the BIG holidays in our future.

We will be acutely aware of who is missing, but we will also be acutely aware of Who is present.

God has a plan.  His ways are better. 

Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." {NIV}

Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {NIV}

I trust Him.  

He is the Great Plan Maker and (shockingly) He doesn't need my help.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Choosing to Remain Single (as seen on A Widow's Might)




“You are young, you will remarry.”
“You still have a lot of life left ahead of you, you will remarry.”
“You and the kids are awesome, you will remarry.”  

Honestly, hearing these comments makes me cringe.
I was married for 19 years; I know firsthand that marriage is a wonderful thing.
I was loved well.  We made a great team.
At 43, I am (God willing) merely half way through my life expectancy.  And yes, we have a pretty awesome family; we love to laugh and we have fun.
Guess what?
I am content.
I am not interested in marrying again. 
Each time I say this, I get the {smile and nod} and a comment similar to “Well, it’s early; you are still heavy in grief.”
I am going to make a bold statement here so listen carefully.
There is a difference in being content with where God has you and just getting stuck here; settling into a “victim mode” of “nothing will ever be as good as it was”. 
I am not clinging to a false remembrance of marital perfection.  Marriage is hard work.  It is a daily sacrifice of choosing to place the marital relationship as the most important earthly bond.  Life wants to get in the way and we have to be intentional in our loving of each other to build a strong, godly marriage.  I am not choosing to remain single because I am “glamorizing” my marriage into something it wasn't. 
I am contentedly living the life my Savior has allowed me to live.
I am accepting the “right here” and the “right now” and living fully in it.
Here’s the deal, ladies.  The Bible is clear on this topic.  Our marriage covenant ends upon the death of our spouse.  Widows can remarry.  It’s just that I don’t personally have any desire to share this life with a man other than my late husband.  None.  And whether friends and acquaintances are okay with this decision or not, doesn't really concern me.
What I WANT…is to be so aligned with God’s will for my life that I am able to accept His plans for my future, whether they are what I currently desire or not.
Maybe friends are correct and God will have another beautiful marriage relationship in my future.  Maybe He won’t.  I am truly okay either way, but honestly, in this moment, it is not my heart’s desire. 
So here is what I am feeling led to pray:
Lord, you know my heart.  You placed in it a deep love for my husband and you blessed us with a beautiful marriage.  To be loved by Tim for our 19 years was enough for me.  Thank you for surrounding me with friends in my life who have good intentions and are concerned for my future.  I am trusting that if You have plans for another marriage covenant in my life, You will change my heart, until then, I am content with where You have me.
If I've learned nothing else on this journey, I've learned these two things:
Life doesn't always go as planned, and God is faithful. 
He is faithful and I trust him to take me where I need to go, when I need to be there.
So when others feel the need to “encourage me” with the statement that I will marry again, I have a choice.  I can dig my heels in and argue, or I can let their words softly open a new place within me.
My initial response of defensive thoughts are slowly transforming into a perspective that has much less to do with remarrying and much more to do with the condition of my heart.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”  ~Psalm 32:8

Are you a widow or do you know of one?  Encouragement can be found from our team of 17 writers and speakers over on the A Widow's Might website.  You can search the site by author or topic.  

My First Widow's Conference




Let’s start this story where it really began…

I had the opportunity (if that’s what we want to call it) of knowing that widowhood was approaching.

It was during my journey into widowhood that I found the ministry A Widow’s Might.

Their writing team was speaking to my aching heart before I even crossed the threshold into this sorority that none of us willingly pledged.  Their devotionals encouraged my soul and continually pointed me to Jesus.  They were a balm to my open-wounded emotions.

Here, were a team of writers and speakers that have walked the walk and know…to the depths of their beings...the pain associated with losing their husbands.  It was like a magnet pulling me towards them, I eagerly awaited each new post.

I first read about A Widow’s Might November Conference back in the spring.  A conference for widow’s?  WOW!  What would that be like?

They had invited me to submit a guest blog.  I had spent hours visiting with the leader of the ministry on the phone, discussing my writing, our faith, her vision of where God was taking them.  I started the registration process to attend the conference but in the end decided I couldn't afford it.  Travel to Myrtle Beach is expensive.  I've always been one to stick to a strict budget and I simply couldn't justify taking funds from the family vacation account to use on me individually.
 
Time continued to pass, I continued to journal.  Kit and I visited more.  Slowly, we both felt God’s calling for me to become a full time team member.  That in and of itself blows my mind, THIS ministry that had held my hand as I traveled the treacherous path to becoming a widow now wanted little ole me to join them.  All glory to God alone!  [You can order our newest daily devotional For the Love of Her Life Winter Edition here.]
 
The kids and I discussed my desire to attend the conference and we watched God remove the financial obstacles one by one.  Even to the point that a medical provider donated his services to our family which freed up funds I had saved to use for those procedures.  Funds that could now be used for an airline ticket instead.  My sister even took off work and came to stay in our home to parent the kids in my absence.  God is a God of details!

Thankfully, God has blessed me with a local ministry team member (the 17 of us are scattered all over the US and I have one 20 minutes from me!).  We flew out together.  It was comforting for me to have a friend to travel with.  I arrived in Charlotte (another one of God’s financial provisions) and met two other team members face-to-face for the first time.  Together we drove down (or over, or up, my directional challenged brain doesn't even know!)

The team was amazing.

As a "late comer" to the team, I had "behind the scenes" responsibilities for this conference.  Also, as a new team member, I needed to video my ministry testimony to be used on our website.

Never mind that the ocean was too noisy and the hotel curtains ended up being my backdrop. (But really, you that know me well know how much this bothers me…haha-I love decorating and all of those little details.  I’m quite certain my outfit clashed with those hideous curtains!  I even wore orange in honor of Tim’s OSU Cowboys and the OKC Thunder.)  Another sweet reminder from our heavenly Father that this isn't about me!

The videographer was so extremely kind and patient with me as I cried...and cried...and cried.  No seriously, I finally cut out half of my planned speech because it was just too painful.  I can’t wait to see what Carmen makes of it!  I trust her.  Believe me, when it is available and I post it, remember that if it is even half way decent, it is all because of her mad editing skills and compassion.  She even leaked a few tears (but maybe that was because she was happy to be done with me…haha).
       
It was a full week of hard work, little sleep, deep praise and wonderful healing for me.  I watched God move in mighty ways.  Women entered the registration area timid and with hesitation.  Those same women walked out of our final session with smiles, laughter, friends and the love of Christ resting softly upon them.

  
It. 

Was. 

Beautiful.  

It was a time of healing and encouragement; tears and joy; frustrations and forgiveness.



Personally, I felt God tug on a few more of the straggly threads along the edges of my tattered heart and gently bind up their ends.  This was my first "alone" time to grieve and heal without the audience of my children.  It was a necessary step in my healing. Grief is a long and arduous process.


Nothing is beyond God’s time table or skill level.  
He is faithful.



As a ministry, we are now deep in the throes of planning the upcoming Dallas conference in February.  I am excited to watch God show off again!  Will you commit to join me in prayer over each woman He wants to draw to attend this conference?  I assure you, our team is diligently preparing for God to be glorified.



 

    

    

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who He Says I Am (from A Widow's Might)




My eyes flutter open.  It is a rare day when no alarm clock is needed and the morning calendar is void of events.  A few months into the newness of widowhood, I lie in bed realizing that I am different. 

I ask myself, “Who am I now?”

I’m one of those old-fashioned girls who always wanted to be a wife and mother.  There is no shame in that.  I enjoyed my career too, but role of wife and mother was my dream “job”.  I thrived being under the loving leadership of my husband. 

He is gone now.   

It is clear who I am not.  I was my husband’s primary caregiver during his cancer battle.  Suddenly, I am no longer the charter and giver of all medications, the guider of his walker as he navigates his way out of his home hospital bed, no longer the overseer of changing his clothing, the administer of nourishment through his feeding tube, no longer the helper for his personal care, nor the one reading to him as his eyes fail.

As I stretch my memory past the illness, to the beautiful years of our marriage, I find that I have lost many other pieces of myself as well.  I am without my best-friend, the Spiritual leader of our home, my parenting partner, my lover, and my biggest fan.  (Wow.  That’s a huge loss in one single blink of an eye.)

Thankfully, I am still Mom to our two children.  But even that role has changed.  I have new responsibilities as the only parent in this home.  I am the sole overseer of homework, sports schedules, chores, and nutrition.  I am the lone chauffeur for all road trips, long or short.  I am the one to guide our children, emotionally and physically as they navigate grief and the early teen years. 

It’s a lot, to be honest; but you already know this, because you too are walking this lonely road of the widow.  Some of you are also raising children during this transition.  Some aren't, but whether we have that common thread or not, I am guessing you feel like you've lost a chunk of who you are also. 

So much has changed. 

WHO are we now? 

I have a rule that I have implemented in my life to keep my train of thought positive when life is topsy-turvy. 

When you are unsure of something, go back to what you know is true.

So, what is true about who we are?

We are children of the most high God {Acts 17:28}. 
We are forever His treasured possession {Deuteronomy 7:6}. 
We are guided by Truth {John 16:13}
We are forgiven {Ephesians 1:7}.
We are fully complete, strengthened in His might, lacking nothing {Colossians 1:11 & 2:10}.
We are holy and dearly loved {Colossians 3:12}.

Losing the role of wife has shaken me to my core.  It has left me feeling lonely, awkward and lost.  Can you relate?  I am so thankful that God reminds us of our worth, regardless of what our earthly “titles” are.  We are still precious and beautiful in His sight; He wants us to see the beauty that remains within us.  Let’s rest in the knowledge of who He says we are

Lord, thank you for staying with us right in the messy middle of our lives {Hebrews 13:5b}.  This life gets ugly and it is so easy to lose sight of our true identity.  You call us “loved”, “accepted”, and “friend”.  Wow.  Remind us when we forget, Lord.  Let us feel the saturation of who You say we are from the inside out.  Amen.  

There is no escaping the reality of being a widow; but I refuse to simply accept “widow” as my sole title.  Ladies, whether we view the title of widow as an honor or as a curse, it is not the sum total of who we are!   
Yesterday I shared with you who God says we are.  I am a lover of music, so today I want to share a few more titles He has given us from the song “I Am New” by Jason Gray.  I hope these truths encourage your heart.  ~Lori

You can visit aNewseason Ministries or A Widow's Might for more articles by Christian women who are navigating the rough spots of life by clicking here.



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Birthday Joy?

Yesterday I turned 43.  

I was semi-dreading the day.  It was my first birthday without the love of my life by my side in over two decades.  

Firsts are hard stuff.  

I have days where I feel the brokenness inside of me healing; I can look with hope towards our future.  

Other days, it takes all of my energy and strength to keep my head faced forward.  

The missing of what we had, maybe that’s what hurts the most.  Life really was truly such a wonderful thing.  Tim made tough times bearable and good times amazing.  My man was hilarious in a dry, sarcastic sort of way.  We were quite the pair and this home was filled to the rafters with laughter every day.  We laughed through our tears and clung to our God and each other in the difficulties of life.  

So, you can imagine my trepidation of facing yesterday without my best friend.





I woke up yesterday filled with…peace and joy;

the kind of deep down in my soul joy that bubbles up from within.  

Peace that I knew we were going to make it.  The kids and I are building a new kind of fabulous life together.  I had a happiness that is indescribable.  

I didn't expect it.  

All day, I had this “keep looking forward” attitude that I woke up with.  

I can’t explain it with any other word than JESUS.  I could literally feel Tim’s prayers over me.  Did my joy get intermingled easily with tears?  Absolutely, but they were the sweet tears.  As memories of both good and bad times fluttered through my mind, my heart remained happy. 

I smiled at my “happy” in the simplicity and "normalness" of a day. 

Then it hit me…we have found our new normal. 

I make mistakes daily in this single parenting gig, but I am trying hard; constantly evaluating my attitude and trying to connect with our children in a way that nurtures both the “mothering” and the “fathering” that they need and deserve.  And I am leaning hard into God for guidance.  

I think Tim would be proud…and that makes my heart soar.  

I want to honor God and I want to honor this man who walked beside me in this life as my biggest fan, best supporter, lover, and friend.  The longer I walk, with each minute of every day without him, the more incredible I realize he was.  Don’t get me wrong, I KNEW I had a keeper!  It’s just that hindsight can show me even more things to appreciate about his character and his love.

So at 43, I don’t find myself without my husband as much as I find myself with

the love he left behind,

the wisdom he guided this family in,

the optimism that permeated his life,

and the laughter he echoed in our home, our hearts and our souls.

I am grateful.  I rejoice in God's love.

Don’t you worry, Tim…I've got this!  I've got it with a confidence because it isn't me at the helm, it is God and He never disappoints.  

Just like you proclaimed until your final breath, God is God, God is good, forever Faithful One.

Even If…

    

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Her Daddy is in Heaven and Her God is Still Sovereign

Thirty one months ago, I penned these words in my personal journal.

They are words that poured out directly from my heart and emerged straight from the deepest portion of my soul.

They are words reflecting real and raw emotions that were swirling within our family.

We could have never imagined the full length of the road we were just beginning to travel.  The sharp curves we would skid through tilted on two wheels and the steep cliffs we would plummet from.  If I could turn back in time and have this conversation over again with our daughter, I wouldn't change a word.  God used His Holy Spirit to speak through me.  These were His words, not my own.

Even in the pain, God is Sovereign.  When we choose to focus on the “Why’s” of this life’s unfairness, we are missing the big picture.

Thirty one months later.  Her eyes have witnessed medical horrors that no child should have to see.  Her heart has been shattered by a loss that no child should ever have to experience.

Her Daddy is with Jesus…and her God is still sovereign!


{an entry from Lori’s journal dated February 28, 2012}

“I have looked into the tear-filled, greenish/brown eyes of a little girl as she asks me “WHY?”. 

Why does her Daddy have to have cancer? 


Why does God allow horrible diseases to attack good people, people like her Daddy who loves the Lord?

I felt inadequate to answer all the questions, but muttering a quick “Lord, give me wisdom”, I took her hand and began to share with this little girl I love so much...

“God is a big God and He can handle our questions and frustrations.  Maybe we should reconsider the question of “why”; after all, why not us and why not daddy?  What makes us so wonderful and entitled to be exempt from illness or struggles on this earth?  Remember, this earth is not our permanent home!  
(2 Corinthians 5:1; Hebrews 13:14; John 18:36) 

So if we have to ask “why?”, maybe it should be in relation to 
“WHY US, LORD?”...
Why would You choose us to love so extravagantly that You would send Your only Son as atonement for our sins? 

“WHY US, LORD?”...
Why would You choose to lavish upon us Your mercies anew with each morning?

“WHY US, LORD?”...
Why would You choose us to pour out Your many blessings on, blessing too numerous to count? 

We are not worthy; plain and simple.  Yet through His grace, He gives the free gift of salvation by faith.  His blood has covered our sin and all we have to do is repent and accept.

Accept His salvation.
Accept His love.
Accept His grace.
Accept His mercy.
Accept that He is in control in ways our minds cannot fathom.
Accept that He loves Daddy more than we are capable of.
Accept that we serve a perfect God while we live in an imperfect world.

These were tough words of truth and I pray they penetrate her little 11 year old heart.

Thank You Father God, for giving me words when I cannot formulate them on my own, and for teaching me through the very words You give me to use as I teach my children.  You are so good to us.  Amen.”

People have asked how we have remained faithful to God throughout such tragedy.  The struggles we have faced in this life and the heartache we continue to experience in the aftermath of losing my husband; they are very real.  We continue moving forward with our eyes focused on God.  Our faith is not shaken.  (You can read more about our faith here.)  

Our God is Sovereign and His ways are true.  (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30; Psalm 145:17)

We trust Him!