Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tears Like Rain

It’s raining.

I love the sound of rain.  I enjoy the coolness of the drops as I choose to stand under them (odd, I know, but enjoyable to me).

A light rain reminds me of teardrops.  It’s like God is washing things.
Rinsing them from me.  Cleansing me from the inside out.  I like it.

Rain brings about change.  The pansies perk up to receive its nourishment; brightly contrasting the dormancy around them.

Tears bring about change too.  They can highlight the reality of grief, but they can also cleanse us from the hardship of grief’s burden and highlight the beauty still lying within.  I have mentioned before that I am not much of a crier, or at least I wasn't up until the past few years. 

The tears flow a bit more freely now (still not as often as I would have expected).  Sometimes triggered by a sweet memory, sometimes triggered by fear and frustration; they are not limited by boundaries of appropriateness.  I have surprised myself with a cry in the middle of laughter. 

It is important that the kids and I give ourselves permission to cry.  

As Tim would say, “it is what it is”. 

It is just as equally important for us to remember that it isn't necessary to stay stuck in any phase of grief.  Psalm 30:5 [MSG] “The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.”  There is, of course a promise of our eternity in heaven when there will be no more tears; but how do we make this applicable to our earthly lives as well?

I say, we let the tears flow freely when they come.  We embrace them and experience them fully; allowing them to wash away hurts, pains and phases of grief; enabling them to bring nourishment to our heavy souls. 

This is David singing out praises to God for transforming his mourning.  I love what he says in verses 11-12. 

“You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.”

Friends, we are going to be okay.  The kids and I; we are putting one foot in front of the other, and leaning hard into God as He directs our steps.  We aren't all decked out in our wildflowers just yet, but we are growing and evolving.  We are learning to have fresh excitement about our futures.  

We are allowing the tears, when they come, to highlight the beautiful, vibrant memories.  We can’t thank God enough for the work He is doing in our transformations.

Next week would have been Tim’s 46th birthday.  Another “first” milestone to cross that will undoubtedly bring fresh tears.  God is already transitioning my heart into one full of joyful memories of birthdays past.  The nights of crying my eyes out are giving way to days of laughter.  It is such sweetness to me.
Tim's 35th Birthday

Tim's 40th at Great Wolf Lodge

(Please be in prayer with us for Tim’s parents next week.  I know my grief as a widow, but I will not even begin to pretend to understand a parent’s grief when their lost child’s birthday rolls around.)

Tim's 44th Surprise "Make-Up" Birthday

Tim's 45th Birthday
Until our turn comes to be in the presence of our Lord where He will wipe away every tear and demolish death once and for all, I pray He uses our tears for healing and nourishment like a soft spring rain.  May He continue creating new growth within us.  To God be the glory! 

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 [ESV]

Monday, March 17, 2014

God Gives Power (Isaiah 40:29)

When one of these anniversaries of Tim’s passing rolls around, I want to be in the state of mind that I am celebrating the number of months he has been with Jesus more than I am grieving the number of months I've been without him.

Honestly, I'm not there yet, but I am asking God to bring me to that place; I long to be obedient to His command to be joyful.  He can and will get me there. I am looking forward to it.

My responsibility is to surrender my weaknesses to God.  I am to bring Him my brokenness.  The difficulties of continuing my life without the one I made a marriage covenant with before God are too numerous to count.  God gets that.

Thankfully, I am not living this life by my own might or power.  I am living it by the Spirit of God; and in Him, there is strength!

"'Til death do us part" really happened.  The 19 years went by too quickly; we weren't finished loving each other.  We hadn't seen our children into high school, or through first loves; we don't get to be side-by-side as they select their career choices, or marry their mates; we won't hold hands while we attend those adorable grandchildren's births.  (And trust me, they will be adorable!)

My heartache is being a widow.  Your grief might also be from the loss of a spouse, or it might be from the loss of a parent, a sibling, a close friend, or a precious child.  Broken dreams hurt.  God heals.  He loves.  Our God loves us enough to catch every tear.  He loves us enough to give us the ability to move forward.

He loves us enough to increase our strength.

Sometimes it's tempting to want to stay stuck in one phase of grief or another.  We long to wrap ourselves up warmly in the embrace of denial or depression.  Another anniversary rolls around and we don't have the strength or desire to get out of bed or to make one more decision by ourselves.  Friends, God promises to increase our strength!

If that doesn't put a smile on our faces, what will?  We have a God who cares about us and each stage of grief we endure.  He doesn't tell us to "Suck it up, Buttercup".  He doesn't expect us to find our own way to "get over it".  He understands.

He gives power!

God provides us with the power to process our grief.  His healing comes to each of us in His timing and within His individual will for each one of His children.  He is a personal God!

Whether we like it or not, in God's Word, He repeatedly commands us to be thankful and joyful.  Those commands are not circumstantial.  There are no exceptions listed.

I don't read in 1 Thessalonians
5:16 and 18 to "Be joyful always (unless you've lost someone) and to "give thanks in everything (except grief)".  In the trenches of freshly broken hearts, we are incapable of joy and thanksgiving on our own. (And I use "freshly" as a relative, non-time-sensitive term, as each journey is so unique.)

Herein lays the beauty of our marvelous God.  Let's crawl to God daily until He fills us with the strength and power to stand again.

, "You will fill me with joy in your presence".  He fills us with joy.  Praise God, He fills the emptiness with beauty when we bring it to Him.

Want to know what else we find in the presence of our Savior?  Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us we receive sympathy with our weakness, along with mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

Thank You Lord, for not leaving us to do this alone.  Thank You that You increase our strength with Your mighty power.  We may not like our circumstances, but we love You.  Your provisions are perfect and You are always good.  Take the ragged edges of our ripped apart hearts and bind them with Your loving kindness.  Fill us with more of You.  May the joy of our Savior penetrate the darkest places and radiate from within us.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Keeping Jesus FIRST!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:17b-19

(Disclaimer:  This is going to sound so strange that I am almost afraid to even post it, but I figure that if I am feeling it and aware of the need for caution in this area....I have to assume that others are too and nobody is willing to talk about it.)

So here goes my confession...

I am finding that I have to be careful to not be more excited about one day being with Tim in heaven than I am about being there with Jesus.

That is the real, 
and it is embarrassing to admit.

At times, I catch myself talking to Tim in my mind more than I am praying to Jesus.

I have a deep longing to be reunited with Tim in heaven.  I am anxious to see him again, to hold his hand and touch his face.  I am excited to have him show me around.  I should be most excited about Jesus.  

I am not saying that there is anything wrong in longing for our loved ones who have gone before us; however the Bible is clear about Who our first love should be.  The Holy Spirit has made me acutely aware of my sin in placing my longing for Tim in front of my longing for more of Jesus.  

When Tim was here, we made a conscious effort to keep Christ as the head of our marriage.  It was our individual relationships with Jesus that came first, then our relationship with one another, then our relationships with the children.  We knew our priorities and checked often to make sure we were living them.

Now, it's just me.  I have my relationship with Christ, which is to be my top priority, then my children.  In the newness of this widow gig, I am unsure where to place Tim in the lineup.  He still has one of the largest portions of my heart.  The physical loss of him doesn't change that fact.

And so, I find myself constantly thinking of heaven, and of Tim, and his experiences there.  

Truthfully, sometimes I do that more than I think about heaven being where my Savior lives and has gone to prepare a place for me.  

I know this sounds horrible for a Christian to admit.  But guess what?  I've never been one to "only share the pretty".  It is what it is.  Just maybe, someone else walking this road is catching themselves in the same thought process and also needs to be reminded...

*That our love for God should come first.  (Matthew 22:37-39) 
     Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

*That our thoughts should be fixed on Jesus.  (Hebrews 3:1)
     Therefore holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

*That Jesus is fully God and commands our worship.  (Hebrews 12:28-29
     Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."

Possibly, like me, someone also needs to remember...

*How we can't see the whole picture now, but we one day will! 
(1 Corinthians 13:12)
     For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

*How beautiful His sacrifice on the cross was and what it bought for us.
(Psalm 13:5)
     But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

The love we have with our spouses is beautiful.  The love we have with our Savior is incomparable.  It’s important that we keep Jesus FIRST.  His love for us is higher and deeper than our comprehension.

Thank You God, for Your amazing grace and unending love.  Forgive us when we place other people, or possessions in front of our awe and worship of You.  Continue to use Your Holy Spirit to convict us and direct our paths towards righteousness.  As, Your Word says in Isaiah 26:3, give us a steadfast mind so that we may walk in perfect peace as we trust in you.  We trust in Your unfailing love, our hearts rejoice in your salvation! Amen.     



Monday, March 10, 2014

Anniversaries and Such

I made my morning coffee in my "Goofy" mug today.

The mug we brought home from our honeymoon as my souvenir all those years ago.  I used the single serve coffee pot Tim bought me.  He didn't drink coffee (he was a diet coke man), so when I asked for a Keurig for Christmas one year, all he heard was "single cup of coffee" and he somehow convinced our favorite little romantic getaway place in Texas to sell him one like was in our hotel room.  I love my Westin Wake Cup, it makes me smile every morning remembering his thoughtfulness and the effort he put into giving me a gift that was so foreign to him.  It also reminds me of our little escapes down to the warm Texas sun, a cozy hotel where we ordered chips and salsa poolside, the delicious steak house we frequented and the love we shared.  Beautiful memories.

I am grateful for our marriage and the years we spent growing and maturing both in our individual walks with Christ and in our love together.  We had a good life. Our marriage was not perfect.  We were not perfect.  We struggled through heart-wrenching difficulties over the years and we had our issues.  All marriages do.  I don't want to paint a false picture of perfection here.  I don't want to make our history something it wasn't by over-emphasizing the good times and ignoring the struggles.  We didn't always extend grace to one another.  Truthfully, we weren't always necessarily that great at loving the other in their love language.  Looking back, I see how petty our issues really were.  Oh how I would cherish the chance to properly show love to my man in his love language one more time.  May I challenge you?  If your spouse is still on this earth, don't miss your chance to show him or her the love they deserve in a way they can hear it the loudest.  Find their love language and minister to them through it, today.  It took extreme and intentional effort for Tim and I to stay connected on the deeper levels and to maintain a relationship that was more than just "surface".  We longed to have a marriage that would still be fun once the kids were grown and gone.  We tried to stay plugged into each other beyond the day to day routines. We didn't always succeed, but we were trying and
we were happy.

I miss him terribly.  He was my confidante.  He was my sounding board.  He was absolutely my closest friend.  I trusted him more than I trust any other human being on this earth.  I laughed with him more than I laugh with any other person.  I loved the sound of his laughter.  I miss the sarcastic tone of his voice and the deadpan way he could deliver a line that left the listener guessing if he was serious or joking.  Anytime I made a new friend and they met him, they would pull me aside and say "I can't tell if he is kidding."  He was almost always joking!  Such a witty man.

Tomorrow is March 11th.  This date marks 2 months since Tim passed


it is our 19th anniversary.

(Just typing that makes my heart physically ache and floods my eyes with tears.)

I am going to have to pray myself through this week


I know that God is faithful to be my Comfort and to heal my broken heart.

I am asking Him to be my EVERYTHING.

Lots of hot, fresh tears are just under the surface of my emotions and leaking out at any given moment without forewarning.  I find myself wondering, "What now, Lord?"  I knew the plans we had made for our future; but now it's just me. "How am I supposed to live out the rest of my life?  What are You wanting from me, Lord?  What does my future look like from Your perspective?"

As is His custom, God perfectly timed yesterday's sermon for me.
(I sometimes wonder if Pastor Justin ever tires of having to prepare Sunday sermons just for me. Tim and I used to tease him about that.  Hahaha  God is so good at speaking to us through our friend and pastor each week.  Such relevant topics and deep Biblical truths are shared.)

Justin taught from Colossians on knowing and doing the will of God.  He challenged us to spend the next six days asking this question: God , what should I do with YOUR life that is within ME?

So as I try to navigate this week of anniversaries, I will keep my heart and mind focused on things above and will remember that my focus should be on an authentic, growing relationship with Jesus.

When I want to curl up in a ball and cry until the tears simply stop flowing, I will; but I will do it knowing that I am curled up in the palm of my Heavenly Father's hand.  He loves me.  He has a purpose for my life; He has a purpose for His life that lives within me.     


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sometimes the Littlest Things are the Hardest

We knew death was coming.  Barring a miracle from our great big God, it was inevitably occurring soon.  The anticipation of it was oddly in many ways worse than the experience itself.  The kids and I have been in one state of grief or another for over two years now; and yet, he has only been gone from this life for 50 days. 

We are adapting.  We still speak of him constantly as if he is just in the other room instead of in heaven.  He is so intertwined into who each of us are…and we like it that way.  We have hit the really/reality phase. 

He “really” isn’t going to walk back through the door. 

He “really” isn’t going to be there when I roll over in bed. 

He “really” isn’t here to help our son prepare his golf clubs and bag for the season. 

I “really” didn’t have his input as I sold vehicles and purchased their replacement. 

So our reality is now that he really isn’t just in the other room; but we still feel as if he is near. 

It is a weird balancing act.  I feel as though we are tight-roping high above our life and teetering between the realms of reality and dreams.  I’m sure it sounds peculiar to you if you haven’t experienced it, and I don’t have the words to correctly describe it.  But I am tip-toeing along, trying to stay balanced and to top it off, I find myself a juggler too!  Trying desperately to keep all the balls in the air (and truth be told, slowly choosing which ones I need to allow myself to drop!).  When suddenly, I get the air knocked out of me and I find myself grasping at every ounce of resolve I have to not collapse into a puddle of tears and plummet to the darkness below. 

It is the little things now. 

The huge crisis is over. 

Death came. 

It stinks. 

Life continues.  This truthfully also, at times stinks (the fact that it goes on without a main character seems so wrong).  We are living, and functioning, and continuing, and doing our best to somehow exist with this gaping hole but not allow it to swallow us up.  It’s not that we desire to forget Tim (NEVER gonna happen), we just don’t want to be paralyzed by our grief and sorrow; so we forge ahead.  We press forward knowing he is missing from every step we take, but somehow not making that the focus of our direction…and then WHAM! reality slaps a cold, hard, palm across our cheeks.

Last Thursday evening our daughter had basketball league evaluations.  I stood with other parents filling out the registration forms.  No big deal, right?  Filled out “student athlete” portion, the “home” portion, the “mom” portion, and then uh oh… guessed it, the “dad” portion was staring me in the face and my eyes suddenly began swimming with tears, my breathing temporarily stopped and my heart ached with each labored beat. 

I was there to register my child; my thoughts were consumed with the task at hand.  I was not in “grieving widow” mode.  And yet, I am learning that I am never really out of “grieving widow” mode.  I can still see the form clearly in my mind, along with my scrawled answer. 


OUCH!  That hurt far more than I could have ever imagined or prepared myself for. 

Maybe that’s the problem though, now that I think about it.  I can’t prepare myself for every little thing that will trigger the intensive paralyzing grief that the kids and I will experience.  I am finding that sometimes the littlest things are the hardest.  I like to be prepared.  I crave organization and precision.  It is who God created me to be.  Sometimes it is what leads me to my biggest sins, too.  Sadly, relinquishing control is not a skill I gracefully possess.  The times that I am obedient in this area don’t always look so much like a sweet, respectful child; but more closely resemble stubborn temper tantrum surrender…not one of my finer qualities!  God is so very patient with me as He takes me back through the remedial classes on this topic time and time again.  To be fair to myself, I have grown in this area over the past 5 years.  (That doesn’t mean I am anywhere near where I need to be, it just reveals how much more horrible I was before.  [haha]  I am so grateful for His loving kindness!)

So, if you are one of the people who interact with the three of us daily, please be patient with us when we freak out over seemingly minor things.  Our emotions are still a bit wonky as we walk this tightrope between full-blown, paralytic, grief and the life we are expected (and called) to live with thankfulness and joy. 

And let’s be real here, thank goodness the gentleman who was my third call in a row this past Friday asking for Tim was the last call like that of the day.  I’m not sure I could have extended grace

It’s the little things.  Praise God, for He cares about the big things AND the little things!  He cares and He knows…and He never leaves us alone on the tightrope! 

After all, HE IS IN CONTROL.  Amen.