Thursday, May 28, 2015

Permission to Live

It isn't uncommon for me to wonder several times each day what Tim would think of something.

What would he think about a situation with one of the kids at school? How would he advise I handle it? 
What would he think about the threat of terrorism on American soil?  
What would he think about my outfit?   
How hard would he laugh over a witty comment? 
How would he plan for our future financially?  Would he approve of my decisions?

And on and on my mind goes.

Next month will mark my seventeenth month without having his opinion to help guide me, to carry on important conversations with, to share humor with and to validate my feelings.  

I am confident in what I know he would want from me.  He was very clear before his passing.  He wanted me to LIVE.  He wanted the kids and me to LAUGH and to continue to LOVE deeply.  He didn't want us holding back from participating fully in this life.  He, of all people knew what precious gifts life and fully living it are.  

He would say that we honor his memory best when we choose to keep loving and keep living.  He would want whatever remains of our lives to be full and rich with joy.

That has been easier said than done for the better bulk of this past year.  Grief takes a lot of personal work and is exhausting.  It is necessary for proper healing to occur, but the process is excruciating and tiring.  We still have work to do.   Grief continues to sneak attack us, and that might never change.  We will continue to work our way through it.  Each of us individually and the three of us as a family.

But I am seeing huge progress.  This house is filling with spontaneous laughter again.  Family games at the kitchen table.  Goofing off as we prepare dinner and clean the kitchen.  Improper but secretly hilarious table manners (Don't tell them I said that! I PROMISE they've been taught better).  Humorous interactions and sarcasm at a level that would make Tim incredibly proud.  Just tonight, the two of them ganged up and held me down while tickling my feet until I couldn't breathe from the laughing. (Something their father taught them years ago.)

I dare say, we are finally making it.  We have practiced the "Fake it 'til you make it" mentality and are beginning to see real progress.  Extended periods of happiness and genuinely positive attitudes.  It is beautiful.  The three of us are building fun memories together.  

And I think Tim would be smiling; he would think, "Well done, guys."

That thought, knowing we have his blessing in moving forward through life without guilt. It is yet another gift he has left us.  I am grateful.

Friday, May 22, 2015

My Mission Field

We hit a rough patch of heavy grief this past month in our home. 

These things happen.

They take time to work through but the hard work is necessary for proper healing to occur.

Watching my children struggle through grief management wipes this Momma’s heart out.

When one of us goes down, the others can’t help but to follow a little bit.  It is a natural part in the process of sharing different versions of the same loss under one roof.

Honestly, we were beginning to have better days more often than horrible ones. Then one of us suffered a tremendous break through and breakdown.  With my ministry sabbatical nearing its end in a few weeks, I thought I should gather my pieces for the next quarter while I was in touch with the deep and ugly bits of grief.

It’s been a very emotional 48 hours for me.  Selecting and polishing the entries from my personal journal that God would have me share with other widows.  Creating the artwork pieces for each post, and reliving the pain associated with each story has also oddly been positive. 


Without our tragic story, we couldn't proclaim the depth of our Saviors comfort to a hurting world.  It is really that simple. 

God has been faithful to comfort me.  To whom much is given, much is expected.

"When someone has been given much, much will be required in return;
and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required."
Luke 12:48

While God has shown great love and compassion for me, He also expects me to proclaim all glory to His name.  I am not walking this path of widowhood victoriously because of my own strength.  It is His power that propels me forward and it is His comfort that gives me a safe spot to land when grief knocks me off my feet.

One way I reflect God's glory is through my writing and conference speaking for aNew Season/A Widow's Might Ministries.  It isn't easy.  Each of our team members have to repeatedly open ourselves up to "go there"; back to the raw pain and the brokenness time and time again as we encounter new widows who need to hear about how Christ longs to make their heart sing for joy again. 

As I place the finishing touches on my upcoming four posts for the next quarter, I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:4.

"God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others."

There will undoubtedly come a day when I will not be able to continually dip down into this deep well of pain and suffering.  In order to continue my personal path of healing, I will have to move forward without re-accessing the immense sorrow.  But right now?  God has called me to minister in this way for this season.  

I cherish your prayers as I prepare to re-enter this portion of my ministry journey.   

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Solo Parenting

Solo parenting is probably the toughest part of this new life for me.
I feel the weight of the responsibility every single day.
In how I manage our home.
In how I parent the kids.
In the decision making and the grief management.
In the school overseeing and the chauffeuring.
There are no breaks, no "every other weekends". Solo parenting means just that. Solo. I'm it. I'm all they've got. It's heavy stuff.
And I don't always do it right. I mess up. I lose my temper. I forget to look to God for guidance and try to "wing it" on my own.
Sometimes even when I don't forget to go to God first, I still blow it as soon as I open my mouth.
This stretching them into adulthood while balancing the protection of their innocence, it is daunting.
Today, I am feeling ill.  Groceries still had to be purchased, homework projects still had to be overseen, meals needed preparing and chores required completing.  Add to all this the bills that had to be paid, children that had places to be, and my utter exhaustion (along with a nasty cough).  I am tired.  
Parenting was hard when there were two of us doing this job. Now there is no one to counter-balance me. Failure is not an option. I will launch these children successfully into adulthood. 
God holds a special place in his heart for orphans and widows. He will see us through.
He will triumph over my failures and frustrations.
He will comfort me in my fears and loneliness.
He will fill the gaps of my mistakes.
I am trusting Him.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Year Two

It’s Mother’s Day and I am filled with thoughts of the one who fulfilled my lifelong dream of becoming a Mom.  (Well, God fulfilled the dream, but this guy had a huge role in it too.)
I remember with a smile on my face.  At least for now, because let’s face it, year two of loss throws some serious curve balls in our emotions.  But, for now, there is laughter on my breath as my mind flashes to the excitement of decorating the dining room with streamers, balloons and a “Congratulations Daddy” sign to greet my husband home from work.  16+ years ago.  Wow.

Our journey to parenthood included dozens of failed fertility procedures, multiple disastrous adoption stories, loads of tears, endless prayers and years off the calendar of our lives.

But I had received “the” call from our infertility surgeon on this particular afternoon and a joy like no other was radiating from me.  All of the drugs and procedures, the heartbreaks of adoptions that never came to fruition, the months of negative pregnancy tests (we should have bought stock in one of those companies!) were just a memory eclipsed by my happiness.  I could finally open the closed nursery door that mocked me as I exited our bedroom each morning.  We were pregnant with our son!

He walked in the door and stood stunned.  I can still see his face and hear his “Really?  No, really?” and feel his arms lift me off the ground in a swooping hug. Our laughter rings out in my head.

Knowing how long and difficult our road to conception had been, we began the infertility shots and processes again with a six-week old baby in tow to each appointment.  We were so crazy in love with our son and wanted him to have siblings.  The very next February, I was able to surprise Tim with two homemade Valentine’s Day Cards.  One from our boy and one from “Baby #2”.  We welcomed our precious daughter in September and Tim continued in his hands on role of being the best Daddy I have ever witnessed; lovingly caring for me and our children.

Future attempts to conceive children were never successful, but I was blessed to share foster parent responsibilities with this wonderful man as we ministered to four different children before he was diagnosed with leukemia.  

Today, as my children celebrate me and I celebrate my own amazing mom…my mind replays the love story of the man who made me a better mother each day I was by his side.

He encouraged and praised me in my parenting.  He laughed with me behind closed doors over the frustrations of my day.  He honored my role as a stay-at-home mom.  He worked extremely hard to provide for us.  He prayed for me and with me.  He guided our family well and brought joy to my responsibility of motherhood.  We made a great (and goofy) team.

I am honored to be Mom to our children.  I am thankful to Tim for being instrumental in making my dreams of motherhood come true.  We miss him terribly.  He has left a mighty legacy in our children.  I trust God to complete our story. 

Jeremiah 49:11b “and let thy widows trust in me.”