Good Grief

Good Grief

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Through my growth as a Chriatian I've often asked why I just never had the gift of dicernment. I would often feel frustrated when I would hear someone say the Lord will tell you what to do, or when I would hear someone say I waited for the Lord to guide me. I've often said I wished that I had lived in Old Testament times so that God would appear to me or I could hear His audible voice, give me burning bushes, clouds, etc. so that I would know, without a doubt, what He was leading me to do. Unfortunately, when seeking guidance from Him-I'm left wondering if He is guiding me or is it me. I'm left wondering if that 'still small voice' is really Him or is it what I think I want to hear. I've always been a little, what some would call-"wishy washy" in my decision making. One minute I've made a decision and the next I change my mind. I've realized that when seeking God I tend to be the same way. One moment I feel very sure what He is guiding me to do and then the  enemy makes me question if it's right. In my growth I am learning to wait---wait on the Lord. I've learned to stand still, and wait on the Lord (Ps37:7). It's not easy, never easy being still or waiting. Patience isn't my strong suit. I'm also learning that He supplies peace during the waiting Isaiah 26:3. When I want to hurry up and act I've learned to feel His strong hand on my shoulder, holding me back. And when I grow tired of waiting on Him and a direction or an answer He gives me strength to continue to wait on Him Isaiah 40:28-31. Through this same journey I am currently learning to listen. I was explaining to a friend how I knew a certain situation just wasn't right, that something was telling me to watch out. I was telling her this and she started laughing and said, "Girl, you know what that something is." she went on to tell me about a guest her church had hosted. A "comedian" that was talking about the names of God. How he said there was another name for God---SOMETHING. He explained how people will say-something was telling me not to do that. Well, that SOMETHING is God. I've come  to realize and be thankful for SOMETHiNG. Call it gut instinct, intuition, SOMEThiNG, whatever--but I will call it answers from my Father. I'm thankful that I'm growing enough in my Christian walk to recognize the something's, for what they really are. He may not be audible or burning bushes for me-but He is guiding my ways, protecting me, giving me dicerement, those same gifts that use to frustrate me when I would hear others speak of them. It wasn't that He wasn't giving me discernment-it was that I was choosing not to be still and know Him and listen.  I was acting and relying on me-now I've learned to wait on Him. Yes  there will still be times that i rely on me more than Him, that i wont be still and wont listen-but there will always be that SOMETHING, my sweet Holy Spirit, that reminds me, teaches me to wait, listen & seek. Again, and again He makes things crystal clear. I'm thankful that this time it seems He wrote things out on the wall that decisions I've made are the right ones.  His promptings, guidance and answers may not be easy or what i want but He knows whats best-so i will just trust and abide in His love for me. Now ain't that SOmETHinG?!?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Piece by piece

Can't believe it's Thanksgiving already. Definitely one of my most favorite holidays. Minus the stress of Christmas, I get lots of no rushed time with family, good food and money doesn't have to leave my pocket. This year is no different----except the flu has hit our family. My dad was diagnosed yesterday, Miss M started running a temp today-so all the festivities are iffy. Not the first time Thanksgiving has been questionable---remembering 3 years ago. Shane & I were spending the night in the hospital after a lung biopsy, chest tube removal and a very heavy diagnosis. Things were bleak. I remember praying that we could just be home for Thanksgiving-we came home the day before. Shane's last Thanksgiving was spent at home in pain, in question, he did have his sweet bro-in-laws passing the time with him and we had Thanksgiving dinner delivered to us. Not the best, but we were together,& kids were happy with Mimi, Poppee, aunts & cousins. I remember wishing the day away, wishing many days away. Why is it that when we are in the middle of something we are constantly seeking a way out?  Why is it we fail to relish  where we are when we are in it? Why didn't I soak up everything about that Thanksgiving day 3 years ago? No, had no idea it would be our last together, as a family, but why didn't I appreciate every second? I can't remember our conversations, the weather, what I was thankful for at the time. Makes me want to start absorbing every second of every day-good or bad. Whether I am home with sick kids, or if I'm sick, on this Thanksgiving day I want to soak it all in and every day after. I want to make sure I write down and store away in my heart all the simple things, the big things, the smells, the weather. I want to remember years from now that me and my 3 watched the sweetest movie *tonight. One about faith, Gods plan for our lives even when our lives are not perfect. I want to remember the tears I cried at some of the most touching words that were said. How we laughed together watching. I want to remember how the kids have continually brought up the fact that their daddy's birthday is tomorrow, how they remember how old he would be, how we did and would celebrate. I want to relish the fact that one of the gifts Shane gave my 3 was the fact that while most kids their age are really afraid to talk about end times and their potential deaths-that mine look forward to it in a non-creepy kind of way, but a sweet faithful way. J and I were talking about the happenings in Israel and he grinned and said,"good, means I get to meet Jesus sooner than I thought and I get to see daddy again." During the same conversation Sam said,"I'm a little afraid to die but I'm excited to meet God and see daddy." These are the conversations I want to absorb, store away for later times. I want to absorb their laughter, their smiles, their smells. I wish I had known then what I know now before Shane passed-I would have paid more attention, soaked more in. Lesson learned---don't take one second for granted. While watching the movie tonight the narrator said  something so poignant that I had to rewind and listen again...

"when someone you love dies, you don't lose them all at once, you lose them in pieces..."  Joe from Simon Birch.

 It's true. Slowly, over time, their smell disappears, the smells that you once took for granted, their habits, their coughs, sneezes--little things. You have to  really think about their laugh, their smile. Slowly, piece by piece, you lose them with each day that passes. Normal process, hurtful, but not as painful as losing them all at once. I've recognized, however, that piece by piece becomes a little bit easier with time as well along with pain. Thankful that God gave me pieces to hang on to and the strength to deal with the ones that slowly disappear. I really have to recollect the pain of that Thanksgiving day 3 years ago. The pain may never cease but the pain becomes less.

Tomorrow-Shane's 41st earthly birthday will be spent remembering him and all the pieces that we haven't lost yet. This Thanksgiving, flu, no flu, with or without turkey & dressing, I plan on relishing every second with the ones I love, being thankful for all the good and bad in life-knowing that, like Simon Birch said in the movie tonight and how Gods word promises-its all in His plan, even in November-3 years later.

Happiest of Birthdays Shaner-still miss you- 3 years later.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to all-soak it all in- piece by piece- and I'm not talking about your meal!

*Simon Birch

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I had the sweet pleasure to meet Karen Rainwater of Captured Phoography this past Sunday. It was way past time to have some family photos made of just the 4 of us and I loved some of her work she had photographed of several friends so gave her a call. She's from out of town but familiar with Rome we met downtown to take the photos. When I got out of the car I started explaining that if she saw tears it was because this was our first photos of just the 4 of us---she started shaking her head in agreement and said, "Shane...I prayed for him." Stopped me cold for a second and she proceeded to tell me that her cousin Christa, shared our story . Also, some of our good friends had their family photos made around the time Shane became ill or right after and they shared our story with her as well.

I couldn't have hand picked a better photographer for this "first." The kids had an instant connection with her, her oldest daughter was with her and she was precious, (Karen)she was so fun and she, like her company name states, CAPTURED my 3's personalities, and some awfully sweet moments. At one time we were sitting on the steps of Molly's pre-school/my workplace, she closed her eyes and said, " I'm picturing something." She asked us to look off in the distance and not smile. I knew exactly what she was doing-she was capturing us thinking about the one that was missing from our family. If I hadn't known I would have quickly gotten a clue-because she teared up. She was amazing-in just a short 45min to an hour-she knew us, she knew our hurts and our triumphs. So glad I chose her for this first. Then later that night I received this message from her....(hope you don't mind me sharing publicly)....

There are no words for what took place short time with you and your wonderful children has forever left a mark on my life.  I don't know if you realize the peace, joy and life that radiates from each individual person and as a family unit...but it is CONTAGIOUS AND LIFE ALTERING!  When Halle and I returned to our car we just looked at each other and wept.  It was the perfect way to wrap up our conversation on the way over.  It was obvious that happiness does not lie in the circumstances of this earth, Lord knows you were dealt some difficulty, but in the Person and Presence of Jesus Christ.  I am forever thankful for having the opportunity to make your first photograph of a new season of hope and healing.  You are a part of our life now as we will pray for you as you lead your family.  LOVE THE PIX!! 

Still makes me smile when I read this. I messaged her back telling her where that joy comes from...Jesus. I also shared with her that during one of the shots where I was loving my children I had a thought that I should be forever thankful for my "here & now," whatever that looks like, whether its a season of joy, or a season of wilderness. Little did Karen know I had just made a hard decision a week before that ended a very special relationship, for me and my children, but she was still able to see joy. My only explanation is Gods sweet sweet love. I'm extremely thankful that His love is apparent in me but I'm over-the-top thankful that it is revealed through my children's spirits as well. A sweet friend told me that she really didn't know Jake, but recently after a ball game she witnessed Jake, high fiving, chest pumping her teenage son and how she saw joy in him that night and how after all he's been through seeing it shine. After Karen posted the photos, I too, witnessed that joy in my babies not only in their sweet smiles but in their eyes as well. I'm with them all the time so i sometimes miss that. seeing this in them  makes this momma really really happy and overwhelmingly  proud of my 3. They have endured so much, so much that I wish I could take away from them. On the other hand, I'm so thankful that my 3 have experienced God the way that some adults never experience Him, and some never have the desire to. My 3 and myself get to experience His love everyday, He's guided us through one wilderness and looks as if He is holding out His hand to us once again to guide us again. Thankful that my 3 are walking it with me, experiencing His grace and seeing their mom depend on Him. They just Can't learn any of this in school, church, or by listening to others-instead they are learning it firsthand from the One that writes their story. I will continue to pray that Jake, Sam and Molly will always realize that their strength comes from God's joy and their joy from His strength.

Thank you Karen, for a sweet time, some awesome photos, for capturing special moments and helping me to realize to be happy in my here & now, to not get caught up in my circumstances but to stay caught up in HIM. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Learning to Listen While Sitting on the Fence (and not the voices in my head) ;)

Listening is so not my thing-I admit I had a little trouble with listening in school, seems I was talking when I should have been listening. I also have to admit that I'm not a very good listener when it comes to listening to my kiddos.  I can't tell you the times I hear them saying, "mom, are you listening, did you hear me?" I hear that after I have finally noticed them either saying mom repeatedly or poking me in the arm. Then I may or may not wholeheartedly listen. Know that's awful to admit, I've often self-diagnosed myself with ADD. It's either that or I have an extreme ability to "tune" things out.

Side-note---saw an E-card that said---I know the voices aren't real, but sometimes what they say are very interesting. Love it!!

This blog is not really about my ability or inability to listen to things physically but more listening spiritually. I am currently in the midst of an awesome bible study with my Wednesday morning women. This is an awesome study and just love diving into it. Don't get me wrong ladies-I love my fellowship with you all, but I love jumping into Gods word so much more. I'm one of those that can and will pick up the bible and read it, chew on it, and can draw some wisdom and parallel to my life. However, there is nothing more I like better than being asked to read, dig, answer questions, and truly experience His word the way I do during a bible study. This one, One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer, is challenging me and making me think about so many things. The gist if this study is traveling with the Hebrew people out of Egypt to the promise land,  how God chose to lead them through the wilderness, their experiences in the wilderness, their experience at Sinai and how they heard from God. Can't wait to keep traveling along until they reach Canaan but for now-boy am I learning. Love studying the Old Testament and love knowing that I am guided, just like they were, through seasons of wilderness.  Yep, they experienced God during their days in the wilderness, they questioned Him on almost everything they experienced, but they were experiencing Him. When we first started this study I caught myself saying, " I am in a season of wilderness, thankful for being able to experience Him like never before, but please Lord don't let mine last for 40 years." Then my ADD kicked in and i started thinking oh no if it does last 40 years I'll be 80ish and  life will be over for me, Lord please have mercy on me. Then my attention quickly switches to trying to get out all I can during this season. I'm just going to be real honest and say I continually ask God why am I still in this? There's some things that continue to linger on as a result of Shane's passing that are yet to be resolved, nothing major, but would be so nice to have some closure. Then there is the ever present grief. I still deal with waves of grief and emotion that i thought would be better by now. Add in the grief and emotion and sadness my kids experience that I cant do anything about.  I continually ask what is God wanting me to learn-please spell it out so that I can start learning. Then I find myself in, yet, another situation of waiting and seeing, which way and where is life heading now. I sent an email to a sweet friend explaining  some things going on in my life and told her I was pretty much 'sitting on the fence' right now. There are decisions to be made with several aspects of life and in my wiseness that I've obtained over the past 20 something years I've learned that sitting on the fence is sometimes a very good thing.  Problem is while sitting on the fence I should be listening for guidance from the One who is the author of my life. Instead I listen to those voices in my head(couldn't resist), the noise of those around me, the what-ifs start happening and I find myself not listening and everything just get garbled up and confused. Oh how I wish I could have a visible fire and a cloud leading me in the way I should go.  In this weeks homework for bible study, we have been studying when/how the Hebrew people experienced God at Sinai. While reading and studying I was wishing that I could hear God as clear as they had. I thought about how it must have made them feel to be so in His presence, to realize at that given moment how they must have recounted all that He had done for them-Red Sea, bitter water at Marah to sweet water, no food to plenty- how everything that they had grumbled and complained about seemed so insignificant as they "heard Him." Thinking that not any amount of ADD or tuning out would have been happening at that moment. Then, as I have done throughout the study, realized that I am the people of Israel, I have experienced, still experiencing my own wilderness, and yes, I've done my fair share of complaining and yes if I will just listen I too can have a Sinai moment.

I will admit that I'm not a "sit on the fence" kind of person. I want to know what's in store, I don't like surprises, nor do I like to be still and listen. I want to move hastily forward, sometimes against His will. One of the best chapters of this study reminded me that these times of sitting on the fence are as important as the deep valley-oh heck experiences, to the mountaintop-God is great experiences. I just have to learn to accept the times of sitting, waiting, wondering on what He is doing, what He will have me to learn and remind myself that He has this-He is leading me to my Promise Land. It may not be the way I would have chose, the route that's easiest, prettiest-but it's His journey-I'm just traveling it to get to Him. In the meantime, I'm learning to listen and always expectant of my Sinai experience.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1 Corinthians 2:9

Lately, I have to admit, I've been grumbling complaining about life. Sick of school, homework, baseball, dance, cooking supper, laundry, this season in my life-the list is endless. I have to share how God gets and keeps my attention. Yesterday, I was complaining about an afternoon that contained, yet, another ball game, more homework. I was at the game, with my mind everywhere else when my dad said,"DeAnn, look at that little guy that's batting name." I pulled myself away from my conversation to look up and see his sweet little name on the back of his Model Blue Devils jersey. The reason my dad noticed it was because its not your ordinary last name-its mostly associated with eating fish;) Little did my dad know when pointing him out that this name means something to me, you see-I know this child's mom. I started scanning our opponents stands to see if I could see her, disappointed I didn't see her. I went on to finish my conversation-probably complaint, looked up again, and there she was. She was recognizable sitting on the bottom bleacher, cane in hand, dark glasses on. I explained to my mom that I HAD to speak to her. Molly insisted on being stuck to my hip and wanting to go, but I insisted she stay behind, I needed no distractions. I was hesitant about going over at first, wasn't sure how I was going to communicate with her--understand that my friend is both deaf AND blind now.

 When I first met her, at my first speaking engagement the August after Shane's passing, I was surprised to find out that she was deaf. She never signed while speaking to me, I would have never known it until she shared that she was a non-hearing woman. When I met her, I couldn't explain the instant bond I had with her. She was so comfortable with herself, she exudes her love of Christ and she's not afraid to show it. This woman is the epitome of letting your "light shine!" The next day I finally saw her sign one of my favorite songs as part of the program-touched beyond words. The woman can not hear but she keeps up with the music by "feeling" the beat. I remember vividly, being extremely nervous and anxious about sharing my story for the first time and how this woman I had never met before prayed with me, for me and after our first meeting she didn't stop praying for me and my 3. After that weekend, we communicated through text. Out of the blue I'd receive a text from her telling me that  GOd had placed me and my 3 heavy on her heart and that she was praying for me. The thing she wasn't aware of is that EVERY time I relieved one of her text telling me I was heavy on her heart was the very moment I was struggling, hurting, some of my darkest times. I often I wondered how in the world she would know-was it coincidence? I've said before, when it comes to all things to do with God, there's no coincidences. She was able to meet my children at the Toby Mac concert. She had her sweet daughter there as well. JSM were all surprised after she walked off and I told them she could not hear. Questions started about how can she talk to us-I explained that she could hear up until she was about 18 or 19 and she lost her hearing then. She was able to read lips and articulate her words because of the many years of hearing. They were amazed as much as me. We continued to text until I received the unbelievable news that she was in the beginning stages of losing her eyesight. What?????? Seriously? The one way she communicates with her children, others, her students, me? And she's losing that sense too?? God, really? Selfishly, I was thinking how am I suppose to communicate with her if she is no longer able to read my text messages, how is going to send me her sweet reminders of her prayers and of Gods love for me if she can't see to text? My questions for God were endless? I was angry knowing that she was a faithful servant for Him, that she loved Him, was constantly speaking of His goodness even while she had been robbed of her sense to hear her children speak to her, to hear wonderful praise music, to hear the birds I. The morning-and now to be robbed of seeing all of Gods creation? Prayers went up, but communication stopped. Luckily, a few ladies min my bible study group know her so I've been able to keep up with her. Ironically, as soon has she lost her sight she was speaking at a local church, yet again, telling her amazing story and that story being filled with Gods grace, goodness and love for her-even still. 

Fast forward to yesterday. I got over myself land made my way over to her. Her sweet friend/interpreter was sitting behind her and I softly said her name. Her friend touched her back and she jumped up and we embraced. That embraced covered many days of not being able to communicate, many days of prayers, and kindred spirits. You see, different kinds of losses but 2 women that can see Gods goodness in it all. Also, very different spirits-mine of complaining and whining of singlemomness, too much too do, why me's. Her? She could have complained of what she misses instead she was telling me of the good. With the help of her interpreter signing in her hand so she can "feel" what's being signed or by me writing words in her hand we were able to catch up.  She said, "DeAnn, I may not see or hear but I can feel, I feel others and I feel things that others can't. God has given me that ability." She went on to say that Jeremiah 49:11 is her verse-He has plans for her, she doesn't know what they are , but they are his plans. Of course, in her selfless manner, she asked how I was, about my children. I told her all was well and told her that my new life verse is found in Isaiah 43-(a whole different blog subject) and how the MEssage translation says that He loves me so much that He would sell His creation for me and that He would trade
the world for me. I told her he felt the same about her as well. she replied with a wow! I'm not telling her anything she doesn't already know way down deep. She did say she would choose to be able to see her son play ball but that wasn't in Gods plan right now. I tried to comfort her by saying at least she was there cheering him on, all the while thinking of my complaints of having to be there. We had so much to say but I felt bad for the interpreter, we both were talking 90 to nothing. She told me not to rush off that she wanted to see-meaning she wanted to touch my kiddos. We saw her afterwards and she touched all 3 of their heads and arms to feel their hair, how tall they were, their skin. While she is touching them, the whole time I'm thinking that my children have no idea who is touching them, literally the hand of God. I know in my spirit that God is touching so many lives though this brave woman that continues to be a mother, wife, teacher. Yes, she continues to work with self-contained children and she said she was simply amazed at how they respond to her. I seem to think that these kids she works with every day, are simply amazed by her-I know I am. 

So amidst all the grumbling and complaining of everyday life that I find myself doing more often than not-God sends me a sweet reminder-a rainbow of sorts-only this time the rainbow is a sweet deaf and blind friend. She told me she missed reading my blog that she wanted to find a way to get back to it, I hope this one is the first one she gets to. I know she probably has her complaining days, however, I truly believe she has more praising days than complaining. She chooses to see, hear, feel how deep the Fathers love is for her. I want to be just like her. Love you and continue to pray for you and your sweet family DT!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What were they thinking???

I've noticed myself, as well as countless others, asking, "what was he/she thinking?" I've asked it about politicians, famous people, my own children, and some that are very close to me and some not so close to me. Seems in conversation the person I'm speaking with will sometimes beat me to it---"what was he/she thinking?" While we are all curious creatures, me included, choices belong to individuals. We can ask "what were they thinking" all day long and in to the night,  but we may never know why people make the choices they do. in saying this I know people in my life have questioned some of my choices. Thinking my 3 ask themselves that everyday when they think I am being overly motherly. I've recently had to explain to them, that as their mom I will always try and make the best choices for me that involve them. They may not see it at the time but hopefully, always in the long-run, they will look back and know I always had them at the forefront of my mind when making choices about mine  or their lives. Either way, I own those choices and decisions-good or bad. I also know that truly the only One I have to answer to for any of my choices is my Father. He's the only One that counts, the only one that truly knows why I choose the things I choose,  good or bad. While I will always care what others think of me-others will not be standing with me when I am waiting-for my King to judge me.
I think about some circumstances that are currently happening around me and I have to point out that we all fall short. Last I checked, we are all still sinners-big ones, small ones-sins-that is. Pretty sure that not telling the truth, disobeying parents, adultery, saying "God" in vain, and all other sins are still sins. Guess I'm saying that maybe we all should not be throwing the first stone. A wise, bald-headed accountant use to tell me-"DeeDeeBo-we all are just a choice away from messing up." unfortunately, some peoples choices or mistakes are in wide-open spaces for everyone to see. Oh how quick we are to throw stones i.e-pass judgment, gossip, turn our backs. When instead, we should follow the One that the Pharisees would question by saying-how could He keep company with that dreadful woman who is an adulteress, or the woman that has bled for 12 years, how could He could drink water from the well that "that" woman drinks out of? How could He let that tax collector sit with Him for dinner, or let him follow him? I could hear them now in their most righteous tone..."What was/is He thinking?" Maybe, just maybe, we should be more like Him and reach out to those that haven't made the best choices, maybe we should accept that with a blink of an eye, in a moments time-we could be in  that persons shoes we are questioning or judging. Guess I'm trying to figure out why their "sin" is so much worse than mine. I'm fairly sure that God keeps it all real and keeps it all on a pretty even playing field---sin is sin-big or little. This blog is a reminder to me,as much as anyone, to not be so quick to judge-instead-i need to pray for that person instead of asking-"what was he/she thinking." I need to check myself-before throwing that stone. In doing so-I will realize (I pray) that I'm just as sinful as the murderer, the adulterer, bank robber-I'm as lousy as the next guy-even if I carelessly spout out in my most 'righteous' -"what was he/she thinking,"with the "oh I'd never do that" undertones. We ALL are sinners and we all are just one choice away from messing up. I believe, actually, I know-that my God believes in do-overs. Let's let Him be the One to ask, when the time is right-"Precious one, what were you thinking? You, know righteous child of mine-you don't have to answer that-because I already know-I also know that as soon as you knew you had made a bad choice you turned to Me and asked for forgiveness, and while others didn't or couldn't forgive you-I did. I forgave you when I let them nail My Son to the cross-I knew the choice you would make and I thought of it and you when they placed that first nail in His hand. I also know those that questioned you, and my dear one-I know all of their bad choices as well. Let's put it all behind us-and let Me tell you 'what I AM thinking....GRACE." Can't you just hear Him saying those sweet words. So the next time we ask "what were they thinking?" or before we cast that first stone think instead of what HE was thinking and what He cast upon us...pure and simple GRACE. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

School, Bora Bora and Prayers

Hope everyone is settling in to school routine well. Me? Not so much. I've never liked school starting back when I was a kid and especially when my kids go back. I like having my kids around. Even more so now-since doing the single-mom thing. It's left to me to push them into bed, pray with/for them, wake them up, remind them to brush teeth, deodorant, fix lunches, push them out the door, pick them up, drive to practice, games, homework(worst of all), cook supper, clean up plus all the other mom/dad duties. Hats off to all single mom/dads raising kids. More power to ya!!! Summer still calls for mom/dad duties minus homework (worst of all), practices, plus we get to add in pool time, so fixing lunches for that is not a chore. I get depressed this time of year, I like having my chick-a-dees in my nest. When school starts every year its sort of like empty nest prematurely. Will be really bad when they really leave. I find comfort in having them around me, even when they are on my last nerve. Ive often thought about packing us 4 up and moving to Bora Bora, Costa Rica or somewhere and make our nest one of those sweet little bungalows right on the water. I could so see us sleeping in till noon, doing a little school work, learning lots of marine biology...oops sorry, started daydreaming just like i use to in school. Adult ADD I guess-where's my to-do list?

Since experiencing such loss we are closer now. Our family unit went from being the norm to the not so normal, yes 5 down to 4, but even more than just 1less person. I've read somewhere when a family experiences loss they then form a different unit, one for survival. That's where we are, me and my 3. Surviving. I told someone the other day that I promised myself to try and protect JSM from experiencing pain again like they've already experienced. I so wished that I could have protected myself and them of the pain we've endured. I also wished I could say that they are like anyone else their age. But they are not. They've lived through so much more than others their age have had to, even more than what I experienced as a child. So while they are not normal they are extremely special. They were put in this place not by choice but by circumstance. So instead I'm thankful-thankful that they are not normal, but special. Thankful that they have experienced seeing their mom beyond broken, but seeking Jesus. Thankful that they know how to comfort me, even today,when things are not going as planned. How they know just what to say and do to get through bad times. Thankful that this mom can seek comfort from a 12, 9 and 5 year old and thankful they see me seeking comfort from my Heavenly Father. I pray that when (and if) they finally leave the nest that they remember how we found comfort from each other in some of our darkest times. I pray that they will remember me being loving but firm, serious but fun, laughing through tears. I pray they remember their mom retreating to bed with her bible in hand ready to dig deep on days she needed her Savior more than ever. I pray the boys will know that I tried to teach them how to love and honor the woman they love even though they will not remember their dad treating their mom that way. That they remember decisions i made was not just about me but about them as well. That i always wanted what was best for the 3 of them before what was best for me. I pray my girl will know how my heart hurt so that her daddy would never see her dance on stage or be able to walk her down the isle and look in her sweet eyes and tell her how much he loves her. I pray J&S will remember how mom celebrated arm pit hair, feet bigger than hers and all things puberty, even when I want to cry cause my boys are growing up. I pray Miss M will remember how she said many times, as recent as 2 days ago, "mama, I will always take care of you even when you are old" while wiping my tears away. I pray they remember how this year I started holding their sweet head in my hands and prayed for them,each, individually before walking out to go to school. I pray they remember me praying. I pray that they will be thankful for the brutal pain they have endured and they will use it when they are older. I pray they will remember how short life can be, they live it to the fullest. I pray they learn to love others as Christ loves us. Praying they remember how so many prayed for us and they were sustained by those prayers even 2+ years later. Praying they saw mom draw her strength from Jesus,how i found comfort in the three of them but mostly in God's word and presence. Finally,  I pray that once they leave the nest that they will bless me with sweet grand kids and bring them to my nest in Bora Bora, and not forget to take those sweet grand kids home when it's time to leave.;). Is it any wonder that I still can not read Are You My Mother without crying?? Can't even talk about the Kissing Hand without becoming a total mess. School stinks!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Learning from Nehemiah!

I just celebrated my 43rd birthday, I was blessed to be with family and friends, and am thankful for another year(I think.) As I get older I continue to see so many blessings of everyday life and realize that those blessings make me the person I am today. I also realize that the things I go through that don't look like blessings at all are what make me who I am today. I received sweet messages in 2 birthday cards (1 from my mom & dad and 1 from Shane's mom & dad) that basically said the same thing. How they have watched me grow in the past 2 years and how proud they are of me. My sweet 15 year old niece even said On FB that I was one of the strongest people she knew. Shane's mom wrote that Shane saw the inner strength in me and that is why he knew it was ok for him to leave that I would be able to carry on. Wow, glad he saw it cause I never did. But I do now. However, that inner strength is not my own. That strength comes from the One who knows me. It comes from knowing He's got everything under control. I've mentioned before that my sweet friend LG gave me a trinket box with Nehemiah 8:10 "The joy of the Lord is my strength" on top of it when Shane first got sick. She told me that that was going to be my verse and ironically there was a song that played over and over on the radio with that verse in it. Then, this past year my ladies bible study studied who??? One of my favorite books in the bible now...Nehemiah. If you haven't studied that little book in the old testament I strongly suggest it. I learned so much from this great man of the bible. He grieved for his people, went to God in prayer obediently and then did what he could to use what God had given him to help rebuild the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. This short book is packed packed full of instruction on the right way to pray. He started out by worshipping God then partitioned his request. He also shows us how to live confidently/boldly when knowing we are doing God's will. If you read further you see how Nehemiah wants to do God's work, and do it well. The verses go on to tell us how the Jewish people had let their own "walls" be torn down by letting their children marry others from other nations, those that worshipped other gods. It goes on to tell of how Nehemiah trusted that God would help him to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, to protect His chosen people. It tells the story of how God used unskilled men with no experience to rebuild the wall. Much like He will use the most ordinary of us today to do his work when we feel we are not equipped.It tells how there were many enemies that did not want the wall to be rebuilt, but instead of Nehemiah fighting them himself how he trusted God.It tells of how the Jews worked together to build while others protected. Of course they complained and were tired but Nehemiah encouraged them that they were doing Gods work. Long story short-they successfully rebuilt the wall with Nehemiah's trust in God, his instruction, his humbleness, his prayers. >Not only did he take on the rebuilding of the wall, he also restored order in the city depending on God for His help. I share all this with you for the reason that, I too, am rebuilding walls, even while the world around and the enemy will always try to tear it down, I'm continuing to seek God's will, and continuing to learn how to completely trust my Father just as Nehemiah did. I'm continuing to draw strength from God's joy. Hence, the change in the title of my blog. Not saying the grieving period is yet over. But I am saying that it's time for changes, time for me to proclaim where my strength comes from, and continue to give Him the glory and honor He so deserves. So please tune in to my new blog---The Joy of the Lord is my strength. Hope to see you soon!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Details Details Details

de·tail  (d-tl, dtl)
1. An individual part or item; a particular. See Synonyms at item.
2. Particulars considered individually and in relation to a whole: careful attention to detail.
3. A minor or an inconsequential item or aspect; a minutia: skipped the details to get to the main point.
4. A minute or thorough treatment or account: went into detail about his travels.
a. A discrete part or portion of a work, such as a painting, building, or decorative object, especially when considered in isolation.
b. A representation of such a part or portion: a detail of a Rembrandt portrait illustrating the technique of chiaroscuro.
a. A small elaborated element of a work of art, craft, or design.
b. Such elements considered together: the intricate detail of a rococo altarpiece.
c. The rendering of artistic detail: the fine detail of the painter's brushwork.
a. The selection of one or more troops for a particular duty, usually a fatigue duty.
b. The personnel so selected.
c. The duty assigned: garbage detail.
tr.v. (d-tl) de·tailed, de·tail·ing, de·tails
1. To report or relate minutely or in particulars.
2. To name or state explicitly: detailed the charges against the defendant.
3. To provide with artistic or decorative detail: detailed the quilt with colorful appliqué.
4. To select and dispatch for a particular duty.
5. To clean (a car interior, for example) meticulously.
in detail
With attention to particulars; thoroughly or meticulously: explained her proposal in detail.

It has been brought to my attention, by no one other than myself, that I love details.  No, I'm not the detail oriented OCD type that has all of my life organized down to every detail.  Couldn't be farther from the truth. I do however, find myself needing details of peoples lives, especially those closest to me.  At 4 am this morning when I woke up with this on my mind I thought about how different men and women/ boys & girls are so different when it comes to details.  When I think about daily conversations with the kids I can so see the difference.  Here is a small example of my afternoon conversations with my 3:

Me:  Hey Jake, how was your day?
J: good.
Me: anything good or exciting happen?
J: no. (answers while reaching over to drown me out with the volume button on the radio)

Me: Sam, what about you, was your day good?
Sam: Yep.
Me: how did you do on your test?
Sam: Good.

Me: Molly how was your day?
M: Oh, mom, it was so good, we got to play outside a long time, we finger painted today, we read a Fancy Nancy book, Ava had her leopard skin flip flops on like mine, Mary Burke was out sick today. I didn't eat all my spaghetti-o's today, so when I get home I need a snack.

AHHH, someone that will give me a few details.  M completely understands how  details make me feel connected to her and her day, and the boys, well they are like their DD (deceased dad), they leave out the details that leaves me wanting, needing more.  I don't know anymore than I did before they got in my car.  Which leads me to wonder what happened, was it something bad that they don't want me to know or just don't want to talk about it. Or is it the fact that they don't see the big deal with details.  So I will stubbornly keep asking questions, trying to be as open ended as I possibly can, in order to feel like I'm a part of their lives.  Luckily, my girlfriends, are more of the same as me.  They never leave out the minor details.  While I've been able to enjoy some much needed "girl" time at the pool it never ceases to amaze me at how "detailed" our conversations can get.  We are so detailed sometimes its downright scary.  I feel like sometimes I give so many "details" I'm a little transparent.  I hope that my friends appreciate that I trust them in this way and they see that my "detail" sharing is based on trust, love and frankly, I want them to feel as if they can be as "detailed" with me as I am them.

Another example of men, women and "details" being on opposite ends of the spectrum--Flyboy is now a pilot with a commercial airline.  He is flying from west to east coast and everywhere in between.While he is very open and "detailed" about his schedules, etc., he does, however, fail to give me the minor "details" that I know he thinks nothing about.  I know he would tell me if he thought it was pertinent, but he fails to see my desire to know every. little. detail. of his flights, his layovers, his meals.  He's a man, and I'm a woman with a crazy desire for "details." Is this his fault?  No. Mine? no.  But I have to wonder-if it were me flying here, there and yonder, would he have the desire for "details."  I have to think the answer would be a resounding "no."  Which in turn, would make me wonder if he just didn't care.  Same with the boys, it makes me wonder often if they even care what kind of day I've had, for they never ask about the "details" of my day.

All this "details" about "details" has led me to think about how God cares about the "details" of our lives.  While we can't audibly hear Him ask about the details of our days, I know He wants to know.  I, like the above mentioned males, only seem to scrape the surface of my life when it comes to telling God about my days and life.  Yes, I know that my Father already knows every single detail about my life, I know that He would certainly enjoy and desires me taking the opportunity to thank Him, and ask Him for guidance in ALL the "details" of my life,  not just the ones I think He wants to hear about-but the good, the bad and the ugly. He cares so much that He wants me to be as detailed with him as I am at the pool with my girlfriends. My prayer is that I may be as candid with my Father that knows my innermost being, as I want my own children to be as candid with me.  I know He will never judge me as I hope that I never would my 3 when they decide to share the "details" of their lives with me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We made it through yet another April 3rd, and yet another Maudy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  For the past 2 years Holy Week and the anniversary of Shane's passing has been all wrapped up into 1 week.  Frankly, I'm thankful for that.  I find much comfort in knowing that Jesus took His place on the cross to overcome death.  Which gives me great comfort in knowing that the sting of death is gone.  This year, however, there has been a new twist added.  I am having the unfortunate experience of watching, yet, another dear friend, succumbing to this horrible disease.
  She was close to Shane, conducted business with him and while doing so, formed a friendship outside of just knowing him through me.  She and I had danced together in elementary school and were friends through school and kept in contact through the years.  She was always one of the ones I couldn't wait to see at our annual "girls" Christmas get-together, to see what great purse she was carrying and what exciting things were happening in her crazy life.  Then, we started having babies about the same time and I had the great fortune of her sweet little girl being born 1 year before Miss M, so I was on the receiving end of private shopping for second hand clothes.  She's one of those friends that you may not talk to for awhile but then when you do see/talk to each other, you pick up right where you left off, always refreshing to be with her. Fortunately or unfortunately, when she was told of her recurrence I had a bit of experience this go around.  She is the one that introduced me to the chemo room 5 years ago during her first diagnosis, I remember being intimidated when I first walked in and saw her with her infusions going.  Then I remember feeling a little more comfortable when I walked in with Shane for the first time cause I had been there before with her. With this go around, I went to her first treatment with her.  Knowing it was going to bring back so many memories but also knowing that God had allowed me to experience cancer in order to do just what I was doing that day with her.  I remember us chatting it up because we were both a bit nervous.  She mentioned that her and Shane couldn't do anything normal and she mentioned jokingly that their birthdays were exactly 1 day apart.  Same year, just 1 day apart.  She said, "great---just my luck, hope this doesn't mean I am destined for the same as he."  I reassured her that she was fine.  I also remember that she was receiving one of the exact drugs that Shane had taken.  One with the possibility of severe side effects.  Again, we were chatting it up and after the infusion started she mentioned that her throat was warm.  I knew that was a reaction and immediately called for the nurse.  Sure enough, allergic reaction.  She was happy I was there to recognize it before it got really ugly, and I think also, she was a little perturbed at me because of the same thing, she wanted this drug to get rid of this cancer.  Again, I was thanking God for letting me have knowledge from my past experience.  

Now to present day, I am now wondering if I am thankful for this experience because I know whats next.  Different cancer, different circumstances, different struggles, different ways of dealing with it all but looks like the same outcome.  All during the same time of year as Shane succumbed to this disease.  My experience has allowed me to know what she is feeling, her fears, her thoughts, has also allowed me to know just what to pray with her. We have shared some sweet times that I will forever be thankful for that.  I have struggled with me possibly being a reminder of what the outcome may be, but she found comfort, I think in, in knowing I had been through it all.  A few weeks ago, she asked me when it was that he passed-I told her and it was just a week before the anniversary-she shook her head in disbelief and the irony of it all.  All I could do was reassure her.  As I visited with her the past few times, its been harder, much harder, it all brings back so many emotions.  Today, however, I knew it was time to pray a prayer similar to the one I prayed with Shane.  Asking God for his will to be done.  Asking him to give her peace, asking Him for mercy.  As I sat with her I caught myself humming one of the songs that was sung at Shane's service...
As sad as I am to watch her leave this world, I want her to run to her Savior, I want her to defeat this disease, I want her to defeat death. She has fought the good fight, she has fought long and hard. She has taught many of us how to fight a battle with dignity, grace and perseverance. Her strength is indescribable.   She continues to fight.  My prayer tonight is that she won't succumb to this disease, but that she will hear God's beckoning call to run to Him, in turn, leaving all of this behind.  I so wish that time allowed me to read to her these verses..."Don't let this throw you.  You trust God, don't you?  Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home.  If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you?  And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I'm taking." (MSG John 14:1-4
Some of the same words that ushered Shane into his Saviors arms.  As I have so often wanted to say to her, but the time was never right, I wanted to tell her that Jesus is waiting and I know that Shane will be right there with open arms asking what took her so long or jokingly telling her she is late again for an appointment.

Again, surrounded with questions of why her, why now, why this.  But trusting my all knowing, all loving, perfect plans of my Father.  My heart is heavy for what is to come, but also celebrating what is in store for her. 

B----Run to Jesus and Live!!!!
I love you and I'm so thankful that you let me travel this journey with you, you have taught me so much. I'll see you in paradise!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Very Thin Line Between Pain and Happiness

Been a while since blogging-been a little busy-no rest for the weary. Seems this single mom of 3 has a bit of a problem with time management. Between science fair projects, baseball, a very demanding 5 year old daughter and go ahead and laugh---an 8 hour a week job-this mom struggles.
Fortunately, there is someone else that occupies my mind & heart. I find myself using the quiet moments to think about him-those who know me best and love to give me a hard time call it "la-la" land. I have to admit "la-la" land is a wonderful place to be. Sometimes it's nice to forget all the things that need to be done, meals to be fixed, clothes to be washed. However, even in "la-la" land these things do not go away. And as happy as I am with the place God has me, and the next phase in life that is upon me, the pain of the occurrences that happened this time 2 years ago doesn't go away in "la-la" land. See what I mean with the title of this blog? How can I be so stinking happy and the pain be so real all at the same time? To make matters worse we just dealt with "Donuts with Dad" at M's school. Her sweet teachers were very sensitive to M and to me, asking me what was ok to include her in. She answered the questions concerning her daddy in present tense with such sweet right on target answers. We decided to forego the actual donuts with dad. Molly did great, me, however, did not. It wasn't about anything in particular just more about the sadness that that something so simple even had to be considered.It also made me extremely proud of M, and how she handled it all.

Crossing back over the line to happiness, the subject of my la-la state of mind lives out of town for now, had been here for a weekend and had headed home. On the way home from school recently J said, "I miss ___. But I feel funny saying that I miss another man besides dad." loved hearing him say he missed ___. Sounded good coming from the one that was against me ever finding happiness. He also shared that he had not felt secure for 2 years since his dad had been gone but felt secure when ___was around. See? That fine line again. So happy to see my kids feelings for this man aligning with mine. Seeing the wonderful things in him that i do, but also still painful to realize their dad is not here.

There are some really wonderful things happening for me and my 3, ironically, we are extremely happy during the time of year that last year found me wanting to sleep through. That fine line of being so happy that I can't even stand it to the memories of 2 years ago keeps popping up. For those of you that have dealt with a death of a loved one-does the stigma of the time of their passing ever go away? Does the rawness get better with time?

There may be a fine line between happiness and pain but I can't help but think that with God and a man that is so extremely patient, respectful, & understanding, that only time will be able to slowly erase that fine line. God totally knows me, knows my heart, knows my needs-He knows my children better than me, knows what they need. Even though there is pain associated with the next few months I feel sure that He will fill us up with the courage, peace and comfort that He filled us up with 2 years ago. He will continue to do this each year until the fine line is not as noticable, to where pain is not as raw. He will continue to be the salve for our wound. There will be a scar left behind but with that scar comes a story we can share of His goodness, His grace, His peace. For now, I will continue to be happy, ecstatic, overjoyed for God allowing me the opportunity to love again, I will be forever thankful that He chose ___for me and my children and chose me for him and his. I will allow the pain because I know He allowed this pain to bring glory to Him. This pain that is past and present is what makes me, J,S,M who we are today. So for now, I will be the talented tightrope performer, balancing ever so carefully on the line between happiness and pain.

Before I end-I'd like to wish my oldest the Happiest of Birthdays on March 2nd. Speaking of the fine line between happiness and pain...J you bring so much happiness and so much pain watching you grow into the young man that you are I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.

And in honor of one of my favorites that shares his birthday with J and fitting for this post --
"Don't cry because it's over.
Smile because it happened."
Dr. Seuss