Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Letting Go of the Me I Used to Be

I find myself longing to do more than just “exist”.  I desire to break through the fog of this phase and have a purpose for my life.  The problem is…I still want my old life back.  Not that I would want Tim to leave the heaven he is in and re-enter this sin-filled world and all of its pain; but I miss the Lori that was me years ago. 

The Lori that could facilitate a “Keepers of the Home” Bible Study and truly be living the principles in her life, I miss her.

The Lori that easily kept our lives organized and tidy, I miss her.

The Lori that was madly in love and felt cherished and appreciated by her man, I miss her and her feelings of security in her marriage.  (To be clear:  I don't miss marriage, I miss being married to my Tim!)

The Lori that was capable of not wearing hurt feelings on her sleeve or of not yelling “idiot” to other driver’s when they don’t perform to her standards, I (and I’m sure my kids also) miss her.

If I am 100% honest, that Lori who was able to lounge by her pool while completing her quiet time, I really miss her and her cushy lifestyle.

And while we are being real, the Lori who never had to balance her checkbook because there was always enough money (but did it anyway, because she was OCD), I miss her.  I miss both her OCD qualities and her ability to give generously to others without calculating every penny. 

This new Lori is blessed with a full time job that pays the bills and still allows flexibility in her schedule to be mom in the way her children are accustomed.  She lives in a comfortable home that she can afford.  She is a bit of a scatter-brain still, but I am seeing baby steps towards improvement.  (I actually noticed this morning that we are almost out of milk before we officially ran out.  Now if I can only remember to buy some today, all will be good.)

Yesterday, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the new Lori is short on temper and long on justifications and excuses.  Not a pretty combination.  I was convicted of my selfishness and my self-righteousness.  While I have never been good at holding my opinions to myself, I really let my tongue do some wagging yesterday.  Nightfall found me lying in bed angry at multiple people.  Some whom I am very close to and some who are mere acquaintances, but ALL whom I felt had wronged me in one way or another. 

Hot tears burned my eyes as I justified my thoughts, my reactions and my haughty words.  The more I tumbled the thoughts and actions of the day around in my head the angrier I became.  My thoughts went something like this…

“How dare he/she exclude/speak to/act that way towards me.  If Tim were here, I would have someone to bounce these feelings off of.  {insert pity party here} Someone who would ‘side with me’ over the way people have wronged me.  Someone who would stand up for me and make it stop.” 

Then ever so slowly, those thoughts turned into this…

“Tim would listen and would tell me…‘Lori, that wasn't a kind response.’  He would help guide me in the right direction.” 


With the shifting of my thoughts, the Holy Spirit began showing me the common denominator in all of my ugly encounters from the day.  Well yuck!  That common denominator was ME.  It was a humbling truth that did not make for a pleasant dose of reality.   

As I confessed and asked for forgiveness and our God washed the sins from my heart, I was reminded that in order to move forward, I can’t keep looking back with longing for all that I have lost.  The old Lori isn't coming back.  The current Lori is transforming into something new.  God can make her beautiful, but He isn't interested in making her back into her old self.  He has bigger and better plans.  He will dissipate the fog of this season and transform me into a life that honors Him with my choices, actions and words.  I have to be willing to let Him.  This requires my eyes be set on Him and on His eternal perspective.  


Some days I have my act together, and some days I don't.  It's a two steps forward, one step back kind of dance.  Truthfully, right now, many times it is all I can do to “exist” in each new day; but I am trusting that He will transform me beyond just existing and into who He desires for me to be.  He has proven Himself as faithful.  Time and time again.  I am ever so grateful that His mercies are new every single morning.  Every.  Single.  One.

Oh how I need a clean slate of new mercies with the dawn of each new day.

Today began better.  I was able to be thankful for the good of yesterday (dinner with a friend and our girls, lots of work accomplished/organized, the Holy Spirit's active involvement in my life), and I have wonderful plans this evening for a family date night.

New day.  New mercies.  New transformations.  I am looking with hope for my future and I am thankful for God's redeeming love!        

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Art of Contentment

(photo from

As my friend left my home and I closed the door behind her, tears flooded my eyes.  She had shared a precious story with me.  It was lovely for each of us to be able to bond over a lesson learned from our loved ones who have gone on to heaven before us.
Her mother-in-law was much like my Tim in many ways.  Though both suffered terribly through drastic physical changes, neither were complainers.  In fact, both walked their painful journeys with dignity and in a way that inspired others.
My Tim died from head and neck cancer.  Her mother-in-law passed away from ALS.  Neither of these were easy or comfortable ways to leave this world.  The legacies left behind by both remarkable individuals are too numerous to count, but a common thread in their lives was the 
art of contentment.

After my friend’s mother-in-law passed away, a spiral notebook was found.  This woman, who was an artist and had once used beautiful calligraphy penmanship, had jotted down notes to herself in a slightly shaky scribe.  Here is one that is now framed in her daughter-in-laws kitchen.

“I am learning the art of being quite content with doing very little slowly.”

Bitterness could have flooded the hearts of these two brave souls.  It could have robbed them of any satisfaction or happiness in the last few years of their lives.  The world might very well have said they were justified if this had been their response to their personal battles. 

But it wasn't how they chose to respond.  These godly individuals left us a legacy of understanding the art of contentment.  What tremendous testimonies and examples!

A peaceful mind gives life to the body, but jealousy rots the bones.  Proverbs 14:30 [CEB]

It makes me wonder….
Am I content?  
I don’t mean content financially or materialistically (although the Bible also has plenty to say about this type of contentment), but am I emotionally and spiritually content with where God has placed me? 
Right now, 
Right here, 
In this very spot of grief and the mess of learning how to continue in this life without my Tim. 
Am I practicing the art of contentment that was modeled for me by Paul in the Bible?
“Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11-12 [NAS]
As a widow, I have many choices.  One of these important decisions involves how I will walk from this point forward.  Will I cling to my God?  Bask in His peace?  Absorb His rest deep within my soul?  Will I walk with dignity? 
That’s exactly what I want my children to be able to say of their mother.  That I discovered the art of contentment, and walked this road bathed in God’s grace. 
I want to continue the legacy my husband began; a legacy of practicing the art of contentment; even when life is hard.  
Maybe, especially when life is hard.  
Regardless of what stage of grief we are each in, God has allowed us to be right where we are, right in this moment.

God, thank You for the years You provided us with our loved ones.  Thank You for their examples of true contentment.  A level of contentment that can only be found through a constant seeking of You.  Saturate every corner of my life with the art of contentment.  Teach me how to leave a legacy that will bring You glory.  Amen.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Crazy Tulips & Transforming Growth

My friend Diane has a batch of flowers she calls her "crazy tulips".  She posted on social media, "They start out yellow and each day they bloom, they become peach, coral and finally a beautiful orange”.  As I looked at the photo, I thought.....

I AM those crazy tulips!

I have been buried under the widows’ heaviness of a bitter cold, dry, and dusty covering.

God has continued to nourish my deepest layers through the toughest of droughts.

His power has enabled me to slowly push my way through the darkness, until I peeked up into the warmth of light again.

The strength of His Spirit has caused me to burst forth; to grow and to flourish, even while the ground around me still shows signs of seasons past.

I am being transformed daily from a soft (fragile) yellow to a pale (delicate) peach.  How exciting for me to see that a lovely (strong) coral will emerge and to know I will eventually be a vibrant (flourishing) orange.  Ever so slowly, God is changing me from the inside out. He is walking with me through my stages of grief and mourning.

My Savior is renewing my mind each day.  I am shedding the anger.  I am learning to deny the feelings of frustration.  I am moving past the pity part(ies).  I am pushing through the sorrow.  He is softening the edges of my petals once more and bathing me in His light. 

The God of the universe began a work in me 28 years ago on the night I surrendered myself to Him.  He promises to see it through to completion.  

He is at work.  

He has a purpose.

He is not a quitter (possibly what I love most!).

Our God brings forth fresh growth.  He makes things new.  He creates beauty from the dust of the past.  Regardless of what our past holds…the sorrows, the mistakes, the sin…He will rescue us and create something beautiful.   He will complete His work in each of His children when we surrender ourselves to His will.   

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”
~Philippians 1:6

Oh what a glorious blessing it is to have His Spirit at work inside of us, challenging us to grow in new ways, through difficult seasons; and causing us to burst forth in brilliant colors.

He is committed to seeing His good work through to its beautiful, vibrant completion.

Lord God, thank you that you never give up on us.  You never leave us to do this life alone.  You are our strength and our beauty.  I love how you provide both detailed complexity and artistic creativity all around us.  Thank you that you are constantly at work within us and that you have a plan.  Help me to rest in that knowledge as I navigate this grief.  I don’t want to become hardened and useless for your kingdom, Lord.  Complete your work within me.  Amen