Sunday, December 13, 2015

Selfless Love

Have you been loved selflessly? Have you experienced a deep love that you know you are safe in? That kind of love that is fierce and yet tender; possessive and yet not overbearing; thorough and all-consuming, yet leaves you wanting them even more?
As humans, we were created to love and to be loved. God created us for an intimate relationship with Himself; but He also created us for fellowship and closeness with others.
I was loved well by my Tim. I knew I was cherished and he knew he was adored. We had deep respect and admiration for each other.
When love is real, it builds the other up instead of taking cheap shots to knock them down. It supports emotionally, encourages physically, and leads spiritually. It protects and nurtures.
A true love affair will not omit respect; it won't degrade dignity; it doesn't lack praise.
Have you known this kind of love?
Sadly, many have not. Far too many have experienced a twisted version of love's purity; yet they know no different and still call it love. Oh how marvelous the touch of love without selfish motives can be. The "cheerleader" kind of love that longs for the others success and motivates them for greatness behind the scenes.
At this time of year, my mind tends to reflect on memories more often, I am grateful to have experienced real love. Obviously, the perfect love of my Heavenly Father; but also the imperfect love of a man who knew what it meant to be selfless. A man whose love left me feeling safe and protected. While we didn't always do everything the right way, I've no doubt he loved me and I loved him.
I may never know human love on this relationship level again in my lifetime. And that is okay. I was loved well. Not perfectly, but strongly, and selflessly. I challenge those of you with loved ones by your sides to love in this way. Don't waste time not being fully invested in your own love affair. Love deeply. Love purely. Love sacrificially. Love with a grateful heart. Do it now. I assure you, you will miss it when the opportunity is gone.
For almost four years I have lived in crisis mode or grief mode. It ages the soul. My eyes have witnessed medical horrors I can never mentally erase. My heart has walked beside the hearts of our children in the shattering of their innocence and the dark valley of death. It has been a constant battle to overcome the mental flashes of difficult memories. God has tenderly reminded me of the continuing thread of the love between Tim and myself intertwined throughout each memory.
Two things have carried me through. The love and strength of my God as He shelters me under His protective wings, and the knowledge that I was loved deeply by Tim.
Love intentionally, friends, and love well. I get that life is busy, but we all have a choice to make. I hope you choose to love well in the midst of the busy.

Whispers of Fresh Dreams

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

I sit in my office with the door open and a clear view through my interior window of our staff manning the back desk.  A doctor escorts a couple to check-out and I can’t help but overhear their banter.  They are sweetly ribbing each other.  He has suffered a heat stroke; she is reminding him of how she warned against being out in the heat.  He slyly states to her that they have been married for 64 years and he is accustomed to not taking direction from her by now.  She smiles and mentions next week will mark their 65th wedding anniversary.
At first, my laughter mingles with the staff as we all witness the beautiful exchanges made in humor.  Then a tear threatens to break the rim of my eyelid.  They are an adorable, elderly, sassy couple.

It is sweet,

and humorous,

full of love and tenderness.

It both melts and breaks my heart simultaneously; but mostly, it makes me smile.  I whisper a prayer for many blessings in their marriage, and my mind drifts.  Ahhh, I want this for my children.  I want them to have long, healthy, happy marriages; a dream that went unfulfilled in my own life.  I wish they could have seen their daddy and me grow old together.  I long for them to have experienced the security of witnessing our incredible love affair continue to deepen as the years added wrinkles to our hands and faces.  I am forty-four.  I am not dating.  I do not plan to remarry.  The likelihood of me ever having a 65th wedding anniversary is completely non-existent.
If I allow myself to camp out here, in the “all I’ve lost” mindset full of unfulfilled dreams, I become a victim of my own making.  I’ve had to let that sink in a bit.  I can build a cage of pity-me-crushed-dreams and lock it up with poor-futureless-Lori deadbolts.  I can sit within the bars of my misery, huddled in the corner, whining and complaining for all to hear until eventually those around me tire of hearing about it and leave.  
This is a real option.


I can acknowledge the sorrowful thought and walk through it with fresh expectations of what my God will do in my future.  Scripture tells us

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord endures forever.”

God is ever so gently teaching me through my grief about His love and His plans.  His love endures forever.  He will not allow His purpose for me to go unfulfilled.  Can His purpose for me be maximized if I am wallowing in what “should have been but never will be”?
Friends, we will not ever “get over” the loss of our husbands.  It’s not something to “put behind us” or to “move on” from as some on the outside of our journey like to think.  But, and this is a big BUT, at some point we have to stand tall, pull up our big girl britches, shake the dust off, and boldly move forward towards a new kind of beautiful.  Our dreams have to change.  That hurts; we feel cheated and rightfully so; however, God still has a purpose to fulfill in our lives.
He wants to blow the whispers of fresh dreams across our souls.  He wants to light the tinder of new ideas in our hearts and fan those flames. He wants to show us how to move forward without leaving behind the love of our spouses.  He longs for us to live victoriously and thrive again. 
Will it be new?  Yes.

Is “new” sometimes scary?  Yes.

Will it be worth it?  YES!

Father God, restore our passion for living.  Help us to take ownership of our choices to move forward.  Rain your fresh grace and love heavily upon us.  Give us new dreams.  Amen.

{This article was featured on A Widow's Might}

Friday, November 27, 2015

More Than My Scars

"to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, 
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness, 
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." 
~Isaiah 61:3 ESV

I stand in this woman’s kitchen answering basic questions that shouldn’t make me bristle.  My friend and I are visiting a church small group that meets in her home.  It is our first time; the hostess is gracious and kind, simply making small talk.

“Do you have children?"
“Do you work outside of your home?”

I try my best to politely answer and escape the questioning before she touches on the subject of my husband.  It’s more than my not wanting to experience the awkward shock that comes when people meet a young(ish) widow.  It’s even more than not wanting to look back into yet another sympathetic face made when others learn of my situation.  It is simply that:

I don’t want to be identified by my scars.

I am a forty-four year old mother of two teenagers.  I am more than a widow.  I am an employee at a wonderful medical practice.  I am more than a widow.  I am a writer and a speaker.  I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece and a friend.  I am so much more than a widow!

My children are more than the loss of their father.  “Half-orphans”, yes…but they are so much more!  They are academic competitors.  They are athletes.  They are my son and my daughter with friendships of their own.  They are more than children who have lost their dad!

I am almost two years into widowhood and while I will always be Tim’s widow, I don’t want to use it as a crutch or an excuse to not be all that God has called me to be.  I want to be known as Lori.

Lori the encourager.

Lori the God-chaser.

Lori the involved mother.

Lori the genuine friend.

Lori the hard-worker.

Lori the team player.

"Widow" is only one of my labels.  I am so much more.  As my healing journey progresses, I find myself desiring to let my other truths move to the forefront and show themselves as more dominant than my scars of widowhood.

Am I torn and damaged?  Yes, I am.
Am I covered in jagged scars on the inside?  Most definitely, yes.

Just like scarring is a natural part of the healing process after an injury on the outside of our bodies,

God is fortifying the gashes of our hearts and souls with healing tissue; ever so gently binding up the raw ends.  He is injecting them with His love, operating on them with His peace, and smoothing their surface with His assurance that we are MORE.

We are more than our circumstances, ladies.  Hear me sisters, we ARE more than our past.  We are more than our pain.  We are survivors!  We are children of the Most High God.

I want to be living life so fully and beautifully that people I meet in the future are shocked to learn I am a widow.  I want my kids to be so outrageously successful throughout high school, in college, and their adult lives that new friends are stunned to hear they lost their dad while still in junior high.

For these wishes to come true, the three of us have to start making choices nowchoices to not lead with our pain; choices to show the world that we are so much more than our scars.

Lord, thank you for reminding us that in You, we are more.  You created us for so much more than one label, help us to shine for You.  May we wear our scars with pride because of the healing power You have infused in them. Enable us to lead with Your healing presence in us instead of the pain.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Choice of Leaning In

My husband said it often, especially in his final months. 

“Lean hard into Jesus.”

I watched him live this out right before my very eyes, the choosing where to lean hard.

He was physically miserable.  The cancerous tumor had literally eaten through his face, pain was a constant, and he hadn’t possessed the ability to swallow even his own saliva for well over an entire year. 

He could have been bitter. 
He could have been hateful to me as his primary caregiver.
He could have lost his sense of humor.

I’m pretty sure if our roles had been reversed, I would have done all of the above plus more!

He did not. 

He would have so easily been excused by this world if he had chosen to lean as far away from God during his unfair and ugly cancer battle.  So very easily excused;
“Justified”, some might say.
“Expected”, others might offer. 

But he did not lean into sin. 
He did not lean into self-pity.
He did not lean into the lies of this world or the one who spreads them.  


And in doing so, his legacy was magnified into an incredible story of dependence on Christ. 

He chose to live for Jesus instead of living for himself.

He led our family by example.  During the most difficult journey imaginable for him, he led with dignity and wisdom and he LEANED INTO JESUS.

This Thanksgiving holiday, I am beyond grateful for a husband who showed me not only how to lean in, but WHOM to lean into.

2 Corinthians 5:15 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Loneliness (as featured on A Widow's Might)

Widows experience a loneliness indescribable to those living outside of our bubble.

It’s a simple reality of being the one left to continue living when the other half of us has gone.

The knowing of someone else so deeply and the being known; ahhhh, I miss it so.

Whether we are standing in a crowd or sitting in the privacy of our bedroom; the attacks of loneliness feel just the same.  We didn’t just lose our spouses.  We lost dreams of our future and the comradery of joint memories from our past.  It is such a unique aloneness to experience.

What I find as the days progress is that the loneliness doesn’t seem to care about the boundaries I’ve tried to place on it.  It creeps around barriers and seeps its way into all the crevices of my shattered heart.

As the months continue, the loneliness morphs; sometimes it is still acute and breath-stealing, others it is a dull ache pulsing behind the backdrop of my life, and there are now, finally, moments I am completely free from its powerful grip.

So how do we cope with this pain?  How do we choose to live victoriously amidst the ruins of a lonely life?  Because ladies, I believe whole heartedly that God intends for us to live fulfilling lives.  He desires for us to serve Him with gladness and live well this life we have been gifted with.

Once I truly identified loneliness for what it is, embraced the difficulty of the emotions and allowed the salty tears to roll unashamedly down my cheeks; that is when my healing began.  I cried out to God and He answered me with the truths found in His Scriptures.
Psalm 147:3  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Matthew 28:20  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
And here is where I’ve landed, soaking in His grace and love for me.
Romans 8:35, 39  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Sisters, while it is true that we have lost the physical presence of our earthly love, we can never lose the affection of our Father God.  Do you hear that?  We can NEVER lose the love of God.  Nor can we shake His presence.  {Deep sigh of relief.}  Our feelings of loneliness are very real, but they cannot always be trusted.  God’s holy Word is where we must place our trust. 

We are never alone in our loneliness.

Will you open yourself up for Him to minister to your heart today?  He is a God of limitless creativity.  He loves you extravagantly and individually.  Commit your mind to Him this morning.  Hand Him the depths of your heart for safe keeping.

Give Him your all and watch Him transform the overbearing loneliness into something to be used for His glory. 

Friends, we are here for a season and for a reason.  Let's dig deep into His Word and find comfort right where we are.

Oh, how He loves you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Birthday Reflections October 3, 2015

Forty-four years ago today I was born.
Twenty-two years ago today I celebrated this day with a new boyfriend who would turn out to be my husband.
Fifteen years ago today I was freshly home from the hospital and now a mother of two.  One 16-month old toddler and one 6-day old preemie.
Four years ago today was my last passionate kiss with my husband, as his sore throat continued to worsen and the cancer ran rampant.
Three years ago today I sat surrounded by friends and family as Tim underwent a gruesome 23 hour surgery as our last tiny chance at chasing the healing that would not be ours.
One year ago today I celebrated my first birthday in over two decades without him by my side.
Today, the kids and I went to our new home and wrote Scripture on the foundation and framing. We prayed over it and dedicated it to the Lord with extremely grateful hearts for the ability to have a safe place to lay our heads at night and make new family memories.
Today has been bittersweet for me. Lots of joyful memories, fun new laughter, and lots of tears. Lots and lots of tears. I didn't expect this intense grief wave today, but as Tim would say, "It is what it is."
Thank you for the birthday wishes. I am blessed by a God who loves me deeply, provides friends to walk alongside of me in this life, and carries me on the rough days. I am covered by His feathers; tucked safely under the refuge of His wings.
Love is a gift that transcends time and location. I know to the marrow of my bones that I am loved by Tim Streller. Today, I just found myself wishing I could experience that love in the flesh again for a long hug.
Tonight, I rest my head on my pillow and have happy thoughts. I am excited for the future of our family. I am grateful. Tears will leak and grief will overtake me at times, but the laughter always returns and joy fills me up again.
God is good. Here is to whatever God has in store for me in this next year of life. May I live it well and glorify Him!

I used Tim's Bible to copy Scripture onto the foundation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Like I'm Gonna Lose You"

We are driving down the road with the radio blaring.  It's what we do.  Loud music makes me happy. It always has.  "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor and John Legend comes on and my girl cranks it up even louder.  We smile and sing along at the top of our lungs.  The words begin to sink into the broken places of my heart.  Each little crevice is filled with a beautiful memory of the love affair her Daddy and I had for two decades.    

[Meghan Trainor]
I found myself dreaming in silver and goldLike a scene from a movie that every broken heart knowsWe were walking on moonlight, you pulled me closeSplit second and you disappeared and then I was all aloneWoke up in tears with you by my sideBreath of a leave and I realized,No one will promise tomorrow
So, I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you,I'm gonna hold you like I'm saying goodbyeForever will stay in, I won't take you for granted'Cause we'll never know it when we'll run out of timeSo, I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you,I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you
[John Legend]
In a blink of an eye,Just a whisper of smokeYou could lose everythingThe truth is you're never aloneSo, I'll kiss you longer babyAny chance that I getI'll make the most of the minutesSo long with no regretLet's take our time to say what we wantHere's what we've gotBefore it's all gone'Cause no one will promise tomorrow
So, I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you,I'm gonna hold you like I'm saying goodbyeForever will stay in, I won't take you for granted'Cause we'll never know it when we'll run out of timeSo, I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you,I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

Tears begin to form and a large lump resides in my throat.  The song ends.  I turn down the volume and it takes me several seconds to compose myself before I can remotely trust my voice will even work.  I turn to our gorgeous, nearly 15 year old daughter with tears slipping down my cheeks I tell her, "This is the type of love I want for you and your brother to one day find.  THIS is the kind of love your Daddy and I had.  It's an all-out, self-sacrificial, best-friendship with a deep, honest, living-large kind of total and complete love.  And it makes for a beautiful life."

Loving fully.  Not holding back.  Living in each moment and cherishing each other.  These are things you will never regret.  DO THEM.  

So friends, if you are blessed enough to have someone special by your side in this life...LOVE THEM LIKE YOU'RE GONNA LOSE THEM.  Don't miss an opportunity to show them you value and respect them.  Don't waste time focusing on the petty, let those things fall aside and JUST LOVE THEM.  Enjoy them.  Encourage them.  Be their biggest cheerleader and their best secret keeper.  Be their safe place to land in a world of chaos, stress, and pressure.  Be their 'home".   

I assure you, you won't regret choosing to love deeply.  I know I don't.  

What a pure honor it was to be married to my best-friend.  We loved deeply.  We didn't always get it right.  Who does?  But, it was good.  It was better than good.  It was a breath-taking whirlwind romance and it was worth it!         

Monday, September 21, 2015

Grief is a Messy Casserole (As Seen on A Widow's Might)

"I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy." Job 29:13 {ESV}
Grief doesn’t follow an outline or a formula. Sure, there are stages to experience, but I have found that even those are more of a jumbled mess than a straight line to follow or a checklist to complete.

Grief is as unique and complex as the individual experiencing it.
I thought I knew how this grief game was going to play out. After all, there are plenty of books and published steps or stages for us to refer to. We had a few years notice that death was coming.
Let’s be clear, I don’t believe we will ever be fully healed from our grief in this life until Jesus returns.  None of us. I do believe we will learn to live beside and around it, that somehow it is possible to not be consumed by it.  This is what I am referring to when I reference “healing."
As “prepared” as I was for my husband’s passing, I could never have imagined how jumbled and chaotic the grief process would be. I knew grief would be a heavy blanket in our home. I knew that we would alternate kicking off those covers with snuggling under the heaviness of them.

What I did NOT mentally process until we were in the middle of the mess was the individual journeys progressing at their own pace yet existing all under the same roof.  Nor the very real fact that we weren’t each experiencing grief stages individually or collectively.  It was a mish-mash of emotions in three individual lives interacting with each other.  And most days it was suffocating for me.

Instead of making our way through the stages at our own pace, it felt much more like we were being force fed a nasty, casserole-mix of all the emotional grief stages--huge, overloaded spoonfuls of the grossest hodge-podge of cupboard ingredients tossed together and set in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for an hour then served tongue-scorching hot.  I kept thinking in my head, "Where is my checklist of stages? How can I possibly minister to my children in their grief when I can’t even sort out my own emotions?"

I guess I share this with you ladies because just maybe, a few of you have found grief to be less textbook and more messy casserole. I want to encourage you that it does get better.  The grief does become something that we can live with.

It takes determination and bravery to step out from under the heaviness of grief's weight, to get rid of the nasty aftertaste that lingers.  We are approaching the two year mark and the kids and I are living proof that through God’s mercy and strength, it can be done.

We are not “cured."

We are not “healed” in the traditional sense of the word.

But we are on the journey to healing in the ways that matter.

We are striving to live beautiful and full lives in spite of our grief.

Do the work, sisters.  Whether your grief is neat and orderly, following the stages outlined or is a nasty clump of yucky casserole you are choking on.  Keep leaning on Jesus.  Keep processing the emotions as they come.  Keep moving forward.

Healing is possible.

Lord God, thank You that You long to make the widows heart sing for joy.  Oh what a marvelously tender and loving God You are to us.  Your love and grace are the sweetest tastes we could ever experience.  Thank You for removing the bitter aftertaste of grief's casserole from our tongues and freeing us to worship You for the healing found in Your presence.  Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Missing (As featured on A Widow's Might)

While smiling and nodding, they ask me how I am doing.  It is as if they are willing my response to be something along the lines of, “I am doing well.  The kids and I are moving forward and healing.  Life is back to normal.” 

Sometimes it feels like people “need” me to be doing better than I really am.  After all, we’ve passed the One Year mark and their lives have moved past our pain and loss.

The missing of him in year two is a strange beast.

We teeter between loving memories and an acute knowledge of his absence.
This painful missing in our lives can at times be so real, so overwhelming, so heart shattering that it feels as if the MISSING itself has become the fourth member of our family unit.  Don’t even get me started on the managing of three distinct grief journeys all under the same roof.  It’s flat out exhausting, and not just for this Momma; it is tiring for all of us. 

This emptiness of space our loved one filled is a unique pain, isn’t it?  Its severity will waiver; it lessens at times and intensifies at others, but it never fully goes away.  Ordinary life events trigger significant pain.  A pain that is physical.  A breath shortening, heart racing, tears brimming, all-
consuming ache.

I answer this question of “How are you?” with some version of the truth I am feeling at that very moment.  I’ve put my brave face on with a “We are holding on” or “hanging in there”.  I’ve bitten my lip to hide the quiver with an “It really stinks, but God is still good.”  I’ve even wordlessly collapsed into a few strong hugs with tears spilling at the simple gesture of kindness. 

More often than not, I soften my answer in an effort to not burden the one asking.  Probably though, I do it to maintain my composure without falling off the cliff upon which I find myself precariously perched.  Because you see, I don’t get to dictate when the missing of him will overwhelm me.  My children don’t get to dictate when the missing of him will slam them into a wall of grief.    

The asking, while I assume it is hard for the asker, and I assure you it is hard for the answerer…is in itself is a beautiful gift.        

I hear widows complain that people “don’t really mean it” when they ask how we are, that they “don’t really care or want to hear the truth.”  Hey listen, I wouldn’t want to be the one tip toeing around the land mine that is me in these early months or years either.  Let’s cut them some slack. 

I tend to think their desperation is more than just a need for me to be doing well so they aren’t made to feel uncomfortable in my mess.

These are people who have been prayer warriors for me and my family. 

They have shed tears over our loss. 

Many have had to navigate their own grief in losing him from their lives too. 

Some encounter my children on a daily basis and see the odd mixture of healing and fresh pain in real time.

I truly am grateful for their considerate questions.  Even when it is unfortunate for them that they caught me in a not so wonderful moment, my heart swells with gratitude.  Their simple gesture of asking, even when awkward for us both, is a precious gift.  It means they are acknowledging our pain and willing to share our burden of “the missing”, if only for  a few brief moments.

Lord, instead of me bristling at the brevity of the encounter, help me choose to praise You for bumping me into people who care enough to ask the question.  Keep moving me forward in my healing.  There is no cure for this missing, but I trust that You can make something beautiful of the pain.  Amen.   

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nineteen Months: A Mental In-Between

It all feels recent and yet distant.

Painful memories are less prominent (unless it is late at night).

Sleep has returned to a normal cycle.

Beautiful memories, ones from before illness finally fill my mind.

The missing remains, but it is blanketed at times with new coping skills.

Here is where my current mental battle remains...irrational fears are still very present, usually surfacing at bedtime. 

At nineteen months out from experiencing one of my biggest fears become my reality...I am existing somewhere between wanting to dream of my future again and knowing dreams don't always come true.

It's a strange place to be; this in-between.  
The place where tragedy has touched and changed me deeply, yet hopes linger.

When I am exhausted, strange thoughts and feelings can enter my mind.  It isn't fully explainable, it is as though I am on the verge of dreaming of a new future, yet I am sabotaging it with crazy "worst fear" scenarios at the same time. My mind races off on a tangent.  "What if?"  How would I respond if my worst fears about the future came true (again)?  Why would I respond that way? Over and over, the scenarios play out in my mind.  I find myself frustrated over something that hasn't even happened.  Irrational fears are a little discussed part of the grief process.

Any new happiness will always be tinged with my reality that loss occurs in this life.  It is a mental battle to just experience the joy when it comes and not play out all the possible negative scenarios that could ruin it.  The thought process is unwelcome yet unavoidable.

So I turn to Scripture.  I read in my Bible and claim God's Word.  Taking thoughts captive.  Being reminded that He makes beauty from ashes.  Resting under the safety of His wings and taking shelter there from the vicious cycle of thoughts and fears that want to grip my mind and steal my future happiness.  Remembering that fear is not from God but is a weapon of the enemy, I lay my fears...rational and irrational the foot of the cross.

The peace He gives cleanses my mind and heart.

I am currently residing in the in-between.  Behind me lay ruins.  A greatest fear realized through profound loss. Before me exists an immediate future I can neither predict nor control.  Beyond that lies eternity, which is secured in Christ.

My responsibility is to be obedient to Christ, keep my mind steadfast on Him, and to trust Him for the details.  I pray he enlarges my ability to fully experience hopes and dreams again and diminishes my "devil's advocate" mentality that constantly wants to remind me things in life are hard and won't go as planned.  I depend on Him alone to balance knowledge of reality and the ability to dream of beauty again.  In the meantime, I am fighting hard to live in the moment and enjoy the now.  

I want renewal.  

I want to dream without constant filter of fear and loss touching it.  

For this in-between is where newness will sprout, if I allow it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Unplanned

I've come back to "our mountains".  

The beautiful landscape of Utah.  

This time, our daughter accompanies me for her first experience of the state her daddy and I so deeply love.  She has heard our stories, seen our photographs, and witnessed our huge smiles as we have spoken of our few short years spent here.  

This trip almost didn't happen.  We were supposed to be somewhere else.  Those plans fell through last minute after our bags were already packed.  In a split second, I decided we would leave the next morning for Park City, Utah.

I am NOT a spontaneous person.  Tim was!  I like order and planning and "knowing" what to expect.  Losing Tim taught me many things.  Some lessons I never wanted to learn and some that have been delightfully enlightening.  Spontaneity is one of the latter.  

I was NOT the road trip driver in our family.  Riding in vehicles makes me sleepy.  I am severely directionally challenged.  Yet, I drove the 18 hours here without getting lost. And with only one speeding ticket.  (Sometimes I enjoy the loud music a bit too much and my lead foot takes over.  😳)

We have hiked Olympic Park and The Canyons over the past two days.  We did the most incredible zip line over a gorgeous mountain valley yesterday.  We have appointments at the Spa and plans to lounge poolside today.  

This morning, I find myself waking up for some time with God on our private veranda while our girl stays snuggled in bed. 

I am reflecting on the memories from our early years of marriage spent here in these mountains.

I am smiling.

Genuinely smiling.

Losing the love of my life has shown me that I never had control of anything to begin with.  It has reminded me to LIVE fully in each moment.  To stop worrying about every detail of the future and to ENJOY the now within the shelter and confines of God's guard rails.

What a blessing it is to be here with our daughter.

I see so much of Tim's vibrant personality in our girl.  She has his free spirit.  She loves to explore nature.  She laughs easily and loves deeply.  She is an amazing mixture of tough and soft, just like her Daddy was.  I am grateful to have this time with her as she prepares to begin her high school years.  It is an unplanned blessing.  

I'm learning that sometimes the unplanned becomes the loveliest part of life.  

Lord, open my heart to the "unplanned".  I don't want to miss a blessing from You because I am too busy planning my life. Guide me with your wisdom and place balance within me.  A balance of both proper preparation and a love for spontaneous adventure.  I welcome what You have for our future and I trust You to work in us to bring glory to yourself. Thank You, Father for this time to return to "our mountains".  It is healing to my soul.  Amen

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Place Where Joy and Sorrow Co-Mingle

I sit in a lawn chair staring at the sky. 

Fireworks burst before my eyes, but my mind is flashing even brighter with memories of years gone by.

Our first 4th of July, he propped the ladder against the side of his rent house and hopped up on the roof reaching down for my hand.  We lay there watching the sky explode in patriotic colors.

Fast forward five years to him holding our seven week old son while sitting on the rear compartment of our minivan in Plano, Texas to watch the fireworks.  I can see his ball cap on his head and Kolby with pacifier in mouth.  I remember what they wore.

Pops of color bring another flash of memory to us in lawn chairs in the bed of his truck lined with quilts as our one and two year old children stare in awe at the UCO spectacular show.

A splash of light floods the sky as years come tumbling through my mind.  Festivities with friends in our neighborhood, fun with new friends as time progresses, time with his oldest friend as both men have landed in Edmond.

The sound of a boom and tears slide down my cheeks as memories of the final 4th of July crash into my mind.  I am rearranging hospital furniture to get his bed closer to a window so he can see the beauty of America’s celebration.  We had planned to sneak up on the hospital roof, but he was too weak so we improvised.  He is so grateful for my efforts to help him experience some portion of normalcy in this slow march toward death's door.

I find myself happy and yet sad.  Tears of gratitude flow unashamedly beside tears of sadness. 

And I realize that one week out from 18 months into this journey;

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

Here, in my memories. 

It is both beautiful and hard. 

It is all together lovely and crushing; uplifting and devastating.

To have known a love so fierce,

To have been cherished so completely,

To have experienced in our twenty years what friends say many don’t know in a lifetime;

It is a privilege and it is heartbreaking at the same time.

Tim~ Loving you forever, missing you always….Lori


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Living Life as a Party of One

I've had a lovely mini-escape over the past several days.  It wasn't my first time to travel alone since Tim's passing, but I have yet to be alone at my destination until now.  Does that make sense?  This was a first for me.  Ever, actually.

I toured a Native American Cultural center.

Walked a trail looking for bison (saw one in the distance but no photo).

Enjoyed a delicious meal at a nice restaurant.

Spent an entire day being pampered at a spa.

Shopped at some cute little boutiques.

Lounged around, watched the rain, read a book, played in the casino some, and rested in a steam sauna.

Walked through an art gallery.

Visited a winery and toured a chocolate factory.

It was wonderful.

It was peaceful.

It was what I needed.  Time for self-evaluation and reflection.  Time to look at my future with eyes wide open and a heart willing to go where God leads.

I needed to just be Lori again.  The Lori that Tim loved.  The Lori without the weight of the world on her shoulders.

I drove home with the radio blaring, singing at the top of my lungs and with a smile on my face. 

I am refreshed.  I can do this.  

{And as soon as I waver and begin to think I can't, I will take myself on another escape, soak up more of God's creation and let Him whisper to my soul in the quiet of my singleness that He is with me and in Him I can do all things.}

I intend to live a beautiful life.  A life that glorifies God and honors my husbands memory.  

I don't have a clue what God has in store for my future.  I feel Him working on my heart.  I see Him shaping my thoughts.  Yet I don't know which types of beauty my life will include.  What I do know, what He has already proven, is that He is faithful. And because of His faithfulness, I can trust Him. 

And trusting Him, my friends, it is enough!