Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As 2014 Ends

As the end of 2014 comes to a close, I'm amazed at how time passes. I can say the year was one of growth for me. I've become more independent, as I grow further from Steve. We are separated  by heaven and earth and although I still hear him respond in my head, it is becoming less and less.

Can we be too reliant on our spouse? I think I was. I expected him to rescue me as he always had. But that time is over and I want now to grow closer to The One who can truly rescue me in more ways than I can even imagine.

I look forward to the new year of 2015 with the anticipation of emerging more from my grief cocoon. Moth, or butterfly, it matters not...I am in God's hands.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014


 I had a wonderful Christmas spent with family and friends. There was laughter, tears, delicious food and thoughtful gifts. It amazes me how something small and homemade can make someone feel special. The gifts I made this year were my usual vintage look. I took old handkerchiefs and made lavender sachets. Also, made 'Make a brownie in a coffee cup' mugs, lacy bags with lavender filling, and tree decorations.






I enjoyed watching the kids get excited and was reminded how Steve loved Christmas. He would have taken such delight in the little ones. Maybe he was watching over us on what was his favorite holiday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No Winter Blues Here

It's hard for me to put all my craft stuff away so I can entertain at Christmas. On the other hand, I get done and can see the floor and counter tops and kind of like the sparseness.

When I sit down in the evening, I have to ask myself, what did I used to do before making all those gifts? Maybe I read or did my nails, or I know...I'll bet I posted on my blog!

Maybe everyone else hates winter, but speaking from someone who does all the chores now, there is a lot less work in the winter. Especially after Christmas. Everything slows down. I'm ready for darkness  when I get off work, no yard work. And cold, windy evenings, so no errands. The prediction of a foot of snow could mean no work the next day. I think everyone should have to think of three good things to say about winter.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stop Looking Back

When I look back at various times I've been hurt by others, I think if I could do it over again I would have responded differently.

To the father who could cut me to the quick with words, I could feign indifference. Imagine the lack of effectiveness if I could show I didn't care.

To the step-grandmother who claimed she was not a great-grandmother, as she held my newborn son, I could have taken him back and said he had another great-grandmother who did claim him.

Why in hind-site, after we have time to grow, mature and think, do we have the perfect comeback. And a better question is why do I let these things haunt me?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Time To Mourn

I was given the name of a friend of a friend to call. She too had lost her husband a year after Steven. So for her it had been almost 5 months. She had been having a hard time and I thought it might do us both good to share.

I put off calling because I know what my schedule is like right now. I figured I would call after Christmas and suggest coffee.

I found out yesterday she committed suicide. While I don't know I could have saved her life, I might have been some help. I shouldn't have waited. I pray for this woman's family, that this Christmas  season still holds peace and joy.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Good Morning God

As I enter the chaos of the Christmas season, I oftentimes diminish the worship of the new born king to getting traditions and checklists marked off. I am a prime example of a person who likes a list just to cross out a line as accomplished.

I sit each morning and open a devotional that reminds me who Jesus is and who I am in him. Yet, I close the book and my mind frame of worship is sometimes left between the pages. I prove this each time I allow myself to feel overwhelmed.

How good it is to know I'm not venturing out into my day without the way being paved by God. He announces His presence with a beautiful sunrise. Nothing will take Him by surprise. Nor will He allow anything to overwhelm me as long as I lean on him. My joy this day comes as soon as I say, "Good morning God!" Now I just have to hold on to that the other 23 hours.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Please Don't Fade Away

He is fading from me. Steven is becoming a shadow and I know this is what time does, but it feels...betraying.

It used to be when I had a thought, I would hear his voice in my head with his response. I don't have that as much anymore. I go longer periods without crying but then hear a song or someones 'cancer story' and for the rest of the day can't stop crying.

Last year, when he had been gone 5 months, I decorated my tree with copies of notes he left me. Each one precious with it's own memory. This year he has been gone 1 year and 5 months and somehow decorating the tree with these same notes doesn't seem right.

I would apologise to him but I'm sure I'm not on his mind anymore, so why the guilt that he is not always on mine?

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Not Funny

I think all my reading glasses are in cahoots. I place one pair in each room, yet when I want a pair they are not to be found. It's as if they are all in one place laughing as I get more frustrated with each room I look in.

I think the time has come. I'm buying a chain.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just Organized

Today I sat down and started my list of gifts I need to have. The number I came up with was 40. That seems like a lot of gifts to me. I've been making little things to give, but they seem so small and insignificant. I know this is untrue because personally I would love to keep what I'm making.

Although the list is long, I feel more organized just having it all wrote down so I can cross off each name as I have a gift. So I continued in my notebook bought just for this occasion, the other lists needed. The menu for Thanksgiving and what others are bringing, my next shopping list for groceries, things to order online,  my checklist of holiday duties, like decorate and get Christmas cards addressed, a calendar with plans noted and on and on. Then to complete the organized list making, I put little tabs on the edges and labeled them.  Ahh..life is good.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Our First Snow

Last night I decided to take my son dinner and some coffee while he was at work. I put together this wonderful salad, grabbed a package he got in the mail and headed to Starbucks. The roads were not too bad, but when I left there and started toward Rock Island, it seemed there was more ice on the road than ever. I saw cars sliding and an accident where there were four police cars.

I finally gave up and headed home. I reminded myself to breathe and stop my death grip on the steering wheel. I felt bad telling my son I wouldn't make it. The salad was really good though.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Present Your Requests With Thanksgiving

I made a change to the way I pray. Instead of asking God to bless my children with this or that, I thank Him for what he is doing in their lives for His glory. Instead of asking God to help Parker with his speech problem, I thank Him for what He is doing in Parker's life as this child is being raised.

I saw the benefits of this at work last week. I've been working on balancing this account and because of a bank error it became confusing and multi-layered over a few months. Instead of praying to solve this thing once and for all, I started the morning with a prayer of thanks for how God was going to resolve this and how nice it would be to be done with the issue. Over and over I thanked Him until finally I'm at my desk in front of a stack of reports with all that went in and out of this account. It is the point I'm usually overwhelmed and would pray to be smarter, but I told Him how relived I was that it would be over (before I had begun), and I could go on to easier tasks.

I added the numbers I had added so many times before trying to come up with a total that made sense so I could back out the supposed error. But this time the answer came the first time. I had a total and as I  looked down at my reports there it was. It all made sense. You may say it was fate and it would have happened regardless of prayer. It only matters what I think in this precious walk I'm on, and I will continue in the step of gratitude.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Enjoy The Good Life

I'm overwhelmed and tired. I probably have brought this on myself, but I'm just prioritising and proceeding. Last week I had a couple days in a row of coming home from work, having a quick easy dinner and then a couple hours to do whatever.  I felt guilty, but I won't make that mistake again. I need to take the slow days and enjoy because right around the corner are busy ones with no break and a list as long as my arm, which has hurt ever since I used my kick-butt gas leaf blower.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Basement Success

What a relief the basement is waterproofed and the I-beams are in place. The walls have a nice white clean look as part of the waterproofing. I can now get back to the original plan of making it a better looking basement, even if only for storage. But, now I'm seeing possibilities of maybe an actual room too hang out in, rather than storage. I'm not sure where to put all the stuff that used to be stored there.

I'm not a hoarder, but I do hold onto things. I have toys from every stage of a child's life, boxes of Steve's things not to be parted with yet. There are several years worth of the body shop paperwork, books, crafts, vases, flower pots. Well, maybe I'm on the edge of hoarding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Levels of Commitment

I have to admire the nuns who live in a convent and give their all to God. By removing themselves from society, they eliminate many of the world's temptations.

They devote themselves to a life of prayer, chastity and holiness. They surround themselves with others willing to do the same. Cloistered without outside influences their mind can stay focused.  I'm impressed by this dedication, but for myself, there are too many things I would miss, proving to me there are different levels of commitment.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Blessing Of Friends

I'm so blessed to have people who care about me. They see a need and come to my rescue. I had 5 people come Saturday to help me rake, mow and bag. We did my whole yard in 1 1/2 hours. It would have taken me many hours to do this on my own.

When you work all day it's hard (and now dark) to do this after you get off. Then the weekends you have to rely on the weather, having no other commitments and feeling well to accomplish the outside stuff. But, per the calendar, time is running out for outside stuff.  Soon it will be cold and snowy. I'll be stuck inside with only inside things. And that sounds really good right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thoughts To Comtemplate

I say I trust Jesus, but my worry and anxiety indicate otherwise. Worry is the thought of our circumstance 'without' Jesus. If I truly want to rest in Jesus, I'll realise it has nothing to do with my circumstances and everything to do with my relationship with God.

A baby Christian says, "I forgive." A mature Christian does not even complain about the injustice.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day One Basement Fix

The basement waterproofing/fixing bowing wall began with a phone call that they needed to finish a job from Friday but would send two guys with jackhammers to begin breaking up the concrete.

What should have been done in 2 hours took 5 because my cement was 6-8 inches thick in places. A lot of good all the extra cement did, the walls still bowed. What a noise and a mess that all was. It was so loud that later I tried to watch TV and had to turn it off and have it silent.

Tuesday began with a full crew. Doors propped open, they carried up the big chunks of cement, and then began to haul gravel in 5 gallon buckets down and cement pieces up. Dust is everywhere and I'm freezing, but happy to be moving along.

I had the realization that guys are all the same. It was like having my two sons in the house, as I listened to the bantering, complaining and story telling. I'm not sure where they are using a restroom, no one has asked me to use mine and the one downstairs is now in an open space. .I was so exhausted from watching I had to take a whirlpool bath when they left.

Day Three Basement Fix

The third day was even more crew and carrying in a different array of things from posts to plastex sheets.

My kitchen is totally blocked off with plastic over the cupboards, floor and doorways,. So I moved some things in the dining room like my microwave, coffee pot and some dishes.

In the front room I have a card table and my stove. I'm holding off using the bathroom because there are 6 guys in my basement and I don't want them to hear me. How crazy is that?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Forcing A Smile

Another day starting bad. How appropriate my devotion was though. It talked about my inheritance of problem free living in eternity. And how I should not be looking for heaven on earth.

So, I'll take a lighthearted view of my....whatever funk this is and remember The One who is on my side has overcome the world.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I Hate

I hate depression. I hate anxiety. Sometimes when they hit me I could double over from nausea.

You would think there would be a reason. I can think of a few triggers the past few days but I can usually shake it off. I'm having trouble doing that. It's physical too. I don't feel good. Maybe I'm depressed because I don't feel good. Or maybe I don't feel good because I'm depressed. Maybe I'll just go to bed.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Trust In The Blindspot

Faith is kind of like backing out of a parking spot. There is this blind area as you slowly back up. You can't see right or left until a certain point so you have to trust any oncoming vehicles to notice and stop.

Often, our faith walk is prompted by God. We are convicted to step out blindly. It takes a trusting love of God to do this, but the reward in it's obedience is so worth it.
 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Travel Panic

I went to visit my brother in Indiana. That sentence doesn't sound significant unless you are afraid of traveling by yourself. That I did this & made it there and back is big to me. It was not without turmoil.

I had too many directions. Mike, my brother, gave me directions, my GPS had it own idea and could not be changed to his route, and Map Quest had another way. I needed to pick one and stick with it. At one point, I was convinced I was on the wrong highway because it went further than MapQuest said it should. I turned around and went back to the interstate I had exited from only to realize I was on the right highway, I just was looking at the minimized steps and not the maximized in-between steps. But then I was stuck for miles behind a semi and couldn't pass. I think even the semi driver felt sorry for me.

Switching to the GPS instructions as I entered his town, it took me to a T in the road and then would not instruct me which way to turn. Does it not realize my life is dependent on it's continued instructions. I called my brother and he had no idea how I had gotten to that point.

On the way home, I decided to go interstate. I made the mistake of putting in that I wanted to avoid tolls and ended up in Chicago. You learn. I learned. I'll choose a different route next time. IF there is a next time. Other than that, the visit was wonderful.

The Big Leap

I had not seen my brother since Steven's funeral over a year ago. The time before that was a year prior when his wife Robin passed away. That we are widow and widower at our age seems unusual, but it is a basis for who we have become.

Both of us were care givers to our spouses. There is a degree of recovery required before life can become a new normal. To go from being totally depended on to being totally alone is a big leap. We are healing and are different people now. I'm not Steve & Denice or the bosses wife or a wife at all. Neither of us want even a goldfish to be responsible for. Not that we think it will die, but to distance ourselves an obligation.

It is only to another who has walked in our shoes that we can say, "That was really hard."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not Always Easy Street

Care giving for Steven was so hard at times. I wish I could say he was a good, patient patient. I wish I could say my love trumped all negativity as I ministered to him.

For those whose life seems easy, it takes little effort to have faith. But, how we act when insulted, ignored or in turmoil is when we show God we want him for more than just the good times.

Telling God everything, right down to the injustice dealt us, doesn't seem like enough sometimes. We need that one true friend we can spew our selfish thoughts to. We know they will listen with the thought that, this is life for them at this moment and I'm going to love them through it.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Awake To A New Beginning

Each day is an opportunity for a new beginning. Why not choose to start with a good attitude and resolve to stay that way no matter what the circumstance?

I'm so thankful I don't have to carry the weight of yesterday's failures and mistakes. I have made some huge wrong choices. God's mercies are new each day, so I can embrace the dawn of today. If He has put those 'wrong turns' behind Him, I can too.

Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Rules For a Disciplined Life

I take self discipline seriously. I make rules for myself and don't follow them 100% of the time, but when I do, I'm much more content.

Don't read a book until you've read your Bible

Work a little, play a little. In that order

No sitting at the end of the day, until all the rooms are picked up

Stretch before getting out of bed

If you eat healthy for your 3 meals a day, eat anything else you want, just in the appropriate quantity

Do not go over a certain weight

Call your parents, then your friends

Make a list, then use your brain for other things

Listen to your instincts, if something seems weird, extract yourself.

Take note of what you listen to, watch, read and talk about. These things say a lot about you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Wonderful Weekend

What a wonderful weekend. After being sick a few days last week, I appreciate feeling healthy. In my good health, my father-in-law and I cut up and loaded the back end of my CRV with wood from the basement walls and took the load out to his house where my mother-in-law and I will burn it.

I ran errands with Joshua, my son, and got stuck in traffic FOREVER on Friday afternoon in Davenport. Frankly, I loved it. What better than being stuck in a car with a son you love visiting with?

I managed to fit in some new artwork using alcohol inks and metal. I can tell this is going to be fun.

At my in-laws I sanded and stained/sealed a picnic table and enjoyed having friends visit while I camped. I ended the weekend taking my grandson to church and then hauling out drywall with my son Brandon. My basement is emptying as I ready for the big basement fix on the 20th. I can't wait.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Chosen To Be The Bad Guy

Like most people I'm all for the underdog. But, I wonder how many others feel sorry for Judas? He is the one who betrayed Jesus which started the whole crucifixion. Now, I know this had to happen, but did Judas have a choice or was he chosen by a long ago prophecy to be the bad guy.

Were Cain and Abel born with the same mindset and Cain just turned bad? I know Noah was good and obedient, but were all the other people bad? Did they have a choice, a chance? What happened to them after they died?

Maybe I'll ask.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Having Sons

Having sons is a blessing. When they were small it was a struggle to keep up with them. Then, when they were teenagers, I wanted a place to drop them off and pick them up when they were in their 20's.

But now, they are grown up and are men taller than I am. They have lives separate from mine and experience things I'll never know about. I did my best to teach them about the important things in life, and came down hard on the lines I wouldn't let them cross. They hated that I had to know the parents of their friends. They hated the curfews, and groundings, and thank you letters, and apologies, and time outs that sometimes lasted a long time. They resented my monitoring what they watched on TV and the games they played on the  computer.

I made a lot of mistakes but I was determined about a lot of good things. And,  they love me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Growing Our Faith

As we grow in our faith, we stop questioning why God does or doesn't do something. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our failures and downfalls are growing us to His image.

The happenings around us are not fate or circumstance but the hand of He made the sun and instructed it to shine. The day we stop trying to figure God out is the first day in which life becomes simple to live.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This Old House

I knew I wouldn't die in my grief when Steven passed away, but, I never thought I could be truly happy either. I'm enjoying a life I didn't think was possible. Most widows I know would rather be busy and not home alone. I look forward to coming here. Maybe because I work all day and this is where I relax.

Despite the upkeep and expense of this house, it is mine. It holds my blood, sweat and many tears. But it also echos of the laughter of many happy memories.  I love my home. I find comfort in every room. I look out at oak trees and a beautiful yard and realize I have lived here longer than any other home.

And I realize surprisingly, that I am happy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Who Do You Love?

If we love people, but not God, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment after bitter disappointment. Our natural instinct is to think of ones self first. It takes effort to put someone needs ahead of your own, especially, if the gesture is not noticed and appreciated.

We will demand what cannot be given. Cry for a whole pizza when there is only half left. We will think we are good and deserving and wonder why others don't reciprocate. Our inclination is to base our opinion of others on ideas we've formed and not facts.

There is only one true love. Only one saving grace and grand mercy. And, it will not be from the person sitting next to you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What Is Left

It's so sad to me that a person as vibrantly alive as Steven was diminished to a folder in a drawer or an oil painting on a wall. I searched the old anniversary cards for more than just a signature, and go back to old emails I sent to see if I missed an answer, but no miracle there.

I remember reading a book, PS, I Love You, about a husband who knew he was dying an left a letter each month for a year to his wife. I'm disappointed Steven didn't think ahead at the emptiness of my life and leave something tucked away. Maybe someday I'll come across something.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Beyond Myself

Grief seems all- consuming. But, eventually, you become far enough removed from your crisis that you are able to hear the people around you and that life is happening to them too.  Now, when I ask someone how they are, I really want to know.  And when they answer I'm able to hear and not compare to my own pain. My response is sympathy and not my story. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Anniversary

As I came upon my 21st wedding anniversary, I asked my sister Becky to spend it with me because she makes me happy. We spent it at the campsite, and despite 52 bug bites, I did laugh and have fun.
We were joined by my sons, some neighbors and of course my mother-in-law who is kind enough to let us put our camper in her backyard bordering the Rock River.
Brandon caught his biggest fish ever, my chilidogs were a hit and I came home with plenty of time to work around home and relax on my Labor Day off.

Don't Journey Alone

If I'm lead up a cliff, I will be equipped for the strenuous climb. I know that cliff, and I live to tell the story. This blog is my story of not only survival, but the possibility of a peace and joy at the top of the mountain.
You can make it through your dilemma too. You might have to learn to ask for help as I have, and to practice living in the moment, but He who is in you is stronger that he who is in the world.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Missing Him

I 'liked' a Facebook group called Widows United. One of the questions readers responded to was, what do you miss the most about your husband?

For me, it would be the laughter. We teased a lot. Then, there are the great meals he made. And how no one can make certain meals just like he did.

But, perhaps the hardest for me is our bed. He would hold me until I fell asleep for naps. Then, if he couldn't go out, he would get up and make breakfast. I'd wake up to great smells.

I think it's odd no one responded to the question by saying, "I miss the making love"...so I won't either.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What We Think About

Why do I struggle with self-esteem issues? Yes, I've had criticism over my lifetime as everyone has. But, it's amazing, I can remember so clearly the place, time, person and words that were spoke negatively about me. I find myself replaying the scenario in my mind.

Now I've also had some definite build-up moments but I don't always remember those. Why is that, when it could be so beneficial?

It's very appealing to be around someone who is confident and not always belittling themselves about their weight, or lack of skills.

I actually think I'm okay. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. Too bad my beholder is not here anymore. I'll have to be my own beholder.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Control Of What?

Sometimes I spend too much time trying to control things and then being disappointed when they don't end up the way I want them to. I wonder if everyone spends as much time second guessing themselves as I do.

Maybe I'll just let life happen.  It's going to happen anyway, I might as well relax. I'll do some stretches and deep breathing and be on my way. Oh, and I'll smile.

One of my favorite posts on this blog was one where I needed to trust God in Steven's terminal illness. Here is an excerpt;

There are times we all find ourselves in deep water. Maybe you were having a Titanic moment goofing around with your arms out straight feeling the wind. Or maybe you stood on the edge of the ship and foolishly jumped at your own choosing. In my case I was blindsided and pushed. One minute I was smelling the sea air thinking how good life was and the next I'm sinking. In my head I'm thinking bodies rise and float right? But maybe that's when they're dead. I struggle to the top and burst free taking a giant gulp of air. There is drift wood and I grab onto it for support.

So here are my choices. I can flounder around kicking and splashing and perhaps attract the attention of a shark. I can cry and scream out, "Why? Why?" to the empty darkness. Or I can float.

I don't know where this ride is going and that is scary if I think too hard, so I don't. But I know I have something to hold onto and I'm not letting that go because it's my saving grace.

 Oh Lord, can I truly just lay my head on my arm, close my eyes and You will take me on this journey? Can I trust You to never leave me and make sure I have what I need to survive until my feet touch land? Your promise has to be different than Steve's though because he promised he would never leave me, and I think he's going to.





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Being Grateful

When Steven died, I wanted to die too. I was exhausted in every way possible and will remain thankful to everyone who was there for me. So I lived, but in a state of numbness. Now I am grateful for life. Grateful to have survived and most of all grateful to have loved like I did.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Secret

I was watching this documentary called The Secret. It basically says you call into action what you think. It shows a guy going to the mailbox and thinking how there will be a bill inside and sure enough there is. But, if he had approached the mailbox with the vision and feeling that there would be a check in the mailbox, that would be more likely to happen.

It said we order what the universe gives. If you think you will have bad luck all the time, you will. I know someone like that. If something bad can happen, it will happen to him. He'll be the first one to start at the beginning of time and tell you each and every bad thing. But, that is what he looks for and shares about and according to the documentary, that is what he gets.

It said our minds are the power behind our consequences and if we think in error, we just  rethink and life will correct itself. This was where I realized how very good it feels to know I'm NOT in control and can admit I DON'T know what is best for me. But my Jesus does know. He knows the story of my life and what happens 16 chapters from now.

I don't know the middle part of my life, only that I'll be given all I need to endure what happens. What I do know, is how the story ends.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Healing Kind Of Faith

Without faith, there is no confidence in a life beyond this one. Our living is useless, powerless and impotent. I want the kind of faith that allows for meaning and purpose in my life now. And even more than that, I want the assurance of peace that comes from confidence in a life eternal.

Even in my sadness, I can say, "This is temporary, I will heal." And I am. The loss of Steven does not seem all consuming as it once did. It doesn't take the whole day to recover from a time of tears. I can laugh and think more positive about tomorrow and the day after that. And I can feel peace knowing my real home is waiting in Heaven.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm Different

I am a different person than a year ago when my husband died. I'm different than 2 years ago when he was diagnosed. I didn't know how God was going to be seen in all this, but He always manages when His pupils are willing.

I'm...waking up. I don't know how else to say it. My senses are heightened. I smell the fall season.  Does anyone else? I listen to the outside noises like trains and night bugs and know soon I won't hear them. Colors I notice, food tastes good. It is always a good thing when foods taste good.

Really, we are all different than we were a year ago. In what good way are you changed? Can you see God in it?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Listening To One's Self

Today I will listen to no self defeating thoughts I come up with. I'll be the confident woman I was created to be.

I hadn't realized the extent I relied on Steven to talk me back up when I had self doubts. Having to do this on my own makes me feel like I'm having a conversation...with myself.

"Should I have said that differently?" , "Duh"
"I hope my face didn't show what I really thought" , "Gee, maybe she wasn't looking at you just then."
"Why the heck did I wear this?" "Because once again you didn't think!"

I don't really lack confidence, unless I listen to myself.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What Comes After?

When you are going through something hard, you say, "It will be over soon." But when Steven was dying of terminal cancer I couldn't look with any peace at my future because it meant he would be gone and I would be left alone.

I finally took a notebook and started writing a list of things I would do 'later'. that would make me happy. Oh the guilt associated with this was unbelievable. But self preservation is automatic. We must have hope. Some of the things I wrote were;

Take a road trip

Buy a new pair of shoes

Go to a fancy restaurant  to eat

Go away for the weekend

Now I am here, left alone and he is gone. And do you think I can find that notebook?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thinking It Through

I'm sad Steve is gone, but I'm working at being able to say I'm happy I'm alive. If I say I'm good, it goes on in my head that Steven's dead, I'm good therefore I must be happy he's dead. I need to take it one fact at a time.

I  did the best I could to make life as comfortable as possible for Steven.
Steven's life was taken from him and I.
I go on everyday.
To curl up and be sad for too long will not bring him back or make me feel better.
So the alternative is to live. Might as well live to the fullest right?

Or, I hear Steven saying I think too much, and can quit tearing it apart.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Trying For Joy

Today, I will make an effort to be joyful. Not that I have to try hard to obtain joy, but to keep it despite the spirals.

These spirals called memories of another time. Maybe the cliff can appear more as a step in depth. It would be peaceful to be reminded of my time with Steve and smile. I know as day after day of a new me emerges, I get closer to this.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How I Am

I am still pretty up and down throughout each day. There is always a trigger that makes me think of Steve. Monday, I listened to the voice mail I have saved at my work phone. Skipping it would have been an option but I didn't know how and at the risk of deleting it, I listened. He's checking in with me, as he would do if his day started off bad when I was leaving for work. His voice is weak and sick, but he says my name, or his version of it, Neece. 

This is the point someone slugs me in the stomach and I bend over in a pain that is bittersweet. Oh, how I've missed that voice, that name, that man.

Maybe it wouldn't hurt so bad if I listened to it with someone. Stop by my office, I'd love to play it for you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Question For Today

I have downfalls and make mistakes. I don't think God is trying to teach me something in these as much as He wants me to unlearn something. Maybe my instinct to fix things myself instead of making my relationship with Him be my top priority.

And in my sorrow,  do the things I find comfort and solace in bring me closer or pull me away from God? That is the question for today.




Saturday, July 26, 2014

What Channel Are You On?

Today, I'm going to smile inside and out and be happy to be alive. I'm going to take time to look for beauty around me, and be thankful. If a negative or sad thought invade, I'll switch the channel back to 'Grateful and Breathing'. The channel is there, I remember it well. I just need to tune in alone now. I can do this, today.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The One Year Mark

Surrounded by family and friends, the one year anniversary of Steven's passing away went well. The plan was for his mom and I to not spend the time alone and reflective and we definitely did not. The stories shared were precious and appreciated. It was evident he was very loved by many.

I'm thankful to those who have tried to make this easier for us this past year. And now, don't stop remembering and talking about him.  Even if we shed tears we still like talking about Steve. And even though it has been a year, we still ache for what we had and now live without.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Don't Use Pillows If You Have The Real Thing

When I think back to a year ago as Steve lay dying, I am swept up with emotion. I wanted him to pass on and be out of pain but at the same time I wanted to beg him to stay and not leave me.  The sensible me verses the emotional me.

I met a woman last week whose husband went into surgery and then passed away. No warning, just a kiss goodbye not knowing it was the last kiss. Who knows which way is easier or has less regrets, but The One who decides our beginning and our end.

Oh, that he could hold me again. Did you know if you put pillows here and there you can pretend they are arms and fall asleep? Please, go hug the one you love. Say the words. Treasure the time.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am Where I Am

I am where I am. This path of mourning has me moving forward one day and then on my knees the next. But, how good to know I'm where I'm supposed to be.
Two friends in the same position as I are dating and engaged. I am still crying all the time. I had someone tell me they have seen so much growth in me, but it's all based on what I tell them.
I ask myself questions to make sure I'm on the right track. Am I leaning on God for my strength and not something else? Am I in The Word? Because that's one way He speaks to me. Am I seeking wisdom, and not just wishing I had it? If so, I'm on the right path. I am where I am.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Questions About Life

What if I didn't believe in God? Where would I think Steven was? What would I do without the hope that I will see him again?

What if words like luck and fate were all I had? As my circumstances of misfortune built stone upon stone around me and I made one bad decision after another, how would I cope? Would I be angry and depressed?

Now add God and the assurance that even those circumstances that pull the rug from under my feet were orchestrated by someone bigger who loves me like no other.  And the stone built around me were living stones being used for a purpose. And there on this sure foundation is a cornerstone named Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Easing the Guilt

I feel guilty for not calling people. I've never been good at picking up the phone and dialing. I guess you can't really dial anymore anyway.

I think of friends and family I haven't talked to for a while and then I think, "For crying out loud, you lost your husband, you are living alone for the first time in forever, why are they not checking on you?" And then I feel released from the guilt.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Taking Off With Nothing

I love stories about people who give away everything and take off relying on the kindness of strangers to survive.

It is the true story of the disciples. And there is a book written about it. The difference is, the disciples had a message and risked persecution and death to tell it. There was much suffering for this Good News, and I'm just one that it has reached thousands of years later.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Year

One year of caring for my dying husband.  One year of healing and living without him. How am I different from June 6th 2012? I'm not sure I even remember.

I am...a different person, but isn't everyone? I'm stronger I know, yet often feel weaker on my strength alone.

What happens now? Do I stop crying and talking about it? Does that year just fade into the sunset?
Do I blog about what it was really like? The parts that don't shed such a good light on Steven, or me for that matter? Was it normal to love like I did and hurt like I do? Maybe the next year will be the year of questions and answers.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Knowledge To Be Thankful For

July 15th, 2013, I wrote a post that once again asked God to change His mind about Steven's impeding death. I knew He held his life in His hands. I also trusted His judgment. Steve died 5 days later.

That day, it was as if the fog of cancer and pain lifted long enough for him to tell me things I needed to know about finances. That he waited until he was on his death bed to do this I'll never understand. But, the fact that he wasn't taken quickly leaving me in the dark about these things, I'll remain thankful for.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just What I Need

It is when my situation seems hopeless that I read how God said to Gideon, "Go with the strength you have. I will be with you."

The peace He offers is not a feeling or a possession but a person. I will move forward with my small amount of personal and spiritual strength and see Jesus revealed as Peace. Just what I need.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Could We Start Again Please

Most of all I miss your smile, no your touch, no your words, no...you.

My world seems to be tilting and I'm afraid of falling, or worse, not falling.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Maybe It's Me, But....

You are everywhere. You are in the sudden downpour and in the beating down of the sun. The water laps at the river's edge and it should be bringing your boat. I hear the sound of the races on Sunday night and think of you and cold beer. You are the car outside my office when I hear a door slam. It is you coming to see me at work. The smell of grilled food, the sound of a top being popped. A cigarette smell, the sound of a train, your car, your robe, your soap, you.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Now I Know

Now I know you can't get everything done you want.

Now I know cleaning up when you're done isn't always in the cards.

Now I know people say they will do something and after a while you just have to ask someone else.

Now I know how one simple job can end up much bigger.

Now I know, riding a mower around the yard is NOT all that hard.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dad

Dad,
I wish you were here and I could call you and tell you about life. I would have called much sooner, like when Steve got sick and then when things got really hard for us. And I'd love to tell you about the boys and what great kids they are. You would love Parker, the first great grandchild. He is great!
There are all the Father's Days and birthdays I think of you. Or when I hear mention of your favorites. There is your favorite author, song, cake, candy bar and many more.

But all that ended one Thursday as we waited at the hospital for you to make it out of surgery, but you didn't. Now,  years later, I wanted you to know you are thought of, often and with much love.

Denice

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Come"

There is only one thing we can give God that we have any ownership to is your right to yourself. In doing this He will make a holy experience out of you and God's experiments always succeed.

If we come when He says "Come," He will continue to say "Come" and it will become an echo through us which can be heard by every soul needing a Savior.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Didn't We Almost Have It All

The boys rarely saw us shouting in anger at each other. We didn't have too many fights. Really, you couldn't win with Steve anyway. What they did see was us talking and laughing.

We sat side by side on the couch. We chased each other around until one of us would end up locked outside. We played lots of music and sang along with a mic before there was karaoke. We made bets for exorbitant amounts and kept track of who owed what from 10 1/2 years ago. Good thing there wasn't Google then or we may have known who won. Steve made good homemade meals every night.  And I ate good homemade meals every night.

We...had it all.

We...are no more.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dear Steven

Dear Steven,

 Yesterday was 11 months since you went away. I wait for you to visit me in my dreams but we must have bad reception.

The thing is, you are probably having a good time and I'm the furthest thing from your mind. And that bothers me. It also bothers me that you are enjoying something I really want.  You might say I'm a bit jealous.

How can I miss you and be mad at you at the same time. And it's no fun being mad if I can't complain about it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Latest Artwork

My latest piece of artwork for a friend. Took a while but I really enjoyed it. The picture is his backyard view.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just a Short Chat

Yesterday I watched a coworker laughing on their cell phone outside. I imagine they were talking to their wife. It made me long for that laughter. To pick up the phone and call him. Oh my heart aches. We'd have so much to catch up on. As usual I would go on and on, as usual he would listen...and laugh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sorry For Throwing The Coffee Cup

Steve saved all our emails he received while at work. Every once in a while he would send me one that would have us rolling with laughter. One said, 'I'm sorry I threw my coffee cup in anger." We found it easier to apologize by email. Not that I recall him ever apologizing. I think it was mostly my job. Sure wish I had those emails to check.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Old Camera

I found an old camera in a drawer and became emotional at the thought there could be pictures of Steve I haven't saw. Seeing an expression on his face... It would be like having him back for a minute.

I still haven looked yet at the pictures. Maybe there are none and then the hope is gone.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Child

I wonder if other people note milestones that 'would have been' had they not miscarried.
Each graduation announcement I receive reminds me that this would have been the year our child would have graduated high school. I wonder how different the last 18 years would have been had our child lived. One less grieving heart or one more child to help me heal.

Monday, June 9, 2014

For The Love Of Reading

At the campfire, my son read a favorite Thoreau passage on his iPad. I was impressed with his reading aloud skills and told him so. He said, "Well, what did you expect with all the reading aloud you did, and had us do when we were young?"

I loved reading books to them. We would come home with a dozen or more library books where they were put on a bookshelf just for them. We would leave the TV off and they would snuggle into their beanbag chairs with their stack of books.

I acquired my love of books from my dad who had a library several shelves full. And I'm glad the boys still enjoy a good book. You can go anywhere without leaving the comfort of your beanbag.

Friday, June 6, 2014

One Dilemma Down

I ordered a remote off eBay for my ceiling fan. I knew I was going to have to guess a four digit code on the remote to match what Steve programmed into the fan unit.

As I lay there guessing, all four notches up, all four notches down, I prayed, "Lord, this could take a while. I may not even have the right remote. Can you help me out?" And the next guess what the correct one.

I'm so happy to have a working ceiling fan in the bedroom. And glad to have a God that narrowed my search from 10,000 combinations to 3.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Visiting Steven

Sometimes I have to go back and visit the last few months before Steven died. To not do this feels like I'll lose him.

Over time we switched roles. I became stronger as he became weaker with the cancer. Instead of him holding me with strong arms, I held him. I did his chores around the house and asked for advice when stumped. I worried about life then and in the future. I planned a funeral behind his back, behind everyone's back.

I remember the sounds from that time with Steven. The loud beep of the oxygen machine when we turned it off, the ring tone on my phone when he would call for help and later the bell he'd ring when the phone became too hard. The sound of the motorized chair as it moved him thru the house. And the cough. I hear that cough now and I know that person is sick with lung cancer.

I try to hear his voice, raspy from the bronchoscopy, and that is when the tears begin. Just the voice before I even get to the words he may have said. Everyone has limits.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Have What I Need

Today, because of God, I have what I need. It may not seem like it at the time, but things could always be worse. And when I reflect on the past, it never seems as bad as it did at the time. Kind of like childbirth. A miracle.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Deja Vu

Once upon a time there was a beautiful...okay...decent looking divorcee, who was going through a bad spell in life. She was raising two boys on very little income. Abondoned by the husband she thought would never leave her, she felt confused and lost.


And now another bad spell.  Beauty is behind her, as is short shorts and long hair. It is widowhood this time and the boys are raised, but none less worried about. Feeling abandoned by the husband she thought would never leave her. She felt confused and lost.

Deja Vu.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

If You're Happy And You Know It

I ran into an old friend from another job I had and she said the sweetest thing. She said, "You guys were always happy. You both teased and joked."

I remember how when we were on vacation, someone asked how long we had been dating? We said we had been married blah blah years.

Steve are you happy somewhere else without me? Are you laughing it up? I'm really trying.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Love Means Saying You're Sorry

It's very hard when  I think back to things I said that hurt Steve. It wasn't often but those memories haunt me now. Did I apologize?  Did he die thinking I still felt that way? Oh how I wish I could go back in time.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sometimes I See You

I think sometimes I see you. Your car in the distance, your profile in a crowd or your laugh in a different isle of the grocery store. Even though you never laughed in grocery stores.

I can  be okay, then see someone holding hands and remember how our hands met perfectly to hold as we walked. Its so easy to think that no one else could have loved the way we did.

I'm not the same person I was when you were here. I'm both weaker and stronger. I wonder if I will always be weepy. But what does it mean when I wake one morning and am not sad at your absence? That in itself will be a sad day

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Two Sides To Every Story

I watched at home group how one couple told the story of their house being built. The memory went back and forth between them. The story would not have been complete without both telling it.

There is so much I don't remember, that Steve did. My story will be incomplete, there is no one to refresh my memory. They are cut short...as if they never happened.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Heartache

We have all had heartache. It started with a sibling being mean and continued to the boy you like, who ignored you. Then, it was your parents, a spouse and then children. Life has moments you'd like to forget, but the fact is...life is hard.

I thought when I lost my dad, nothing could be worse. I cried for hours. I remembember on my way back from Delta, we stopped for somthing to eat. I cried through the whole meal in the restaurant.

But this...it's not just a heartache. My heart has been in a vice grip so tight I haven't taken a deep breath in 301 days, or 7242 hours, or 4345636 minutes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dear Steven, I Miss Your Funny

Tonight, I was watching a movie, Hope Springs, and I remembered you and I watching it together. There was a funny part of the movie and I recall your exact words. You were so funny. I miss your funny.


Friday, May 16, 2014

What Is Good?

I look at my life and my lists of thing that I need to do and it is overwhelming. Life is not good for me right now. I don't want to be me.

But, in my devotion today, God reminded me I'm not to measure 'goodness' by my surroundings, but by Him. And how can we think God is anything less than good?

Of course that still doesn't get things crossed off my list, but God is good, God is good, God is good. Maybe I'm making too much out of the things not getting done. But I need to face it, if I don't get to this list, no one else is going to. I'm it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dear Steven

Dear Steven,

I'm riding the mower around the yard and it just looks terrible. Bare spots I'm trying to reseed, (does it hurt to mow over those?) that make it hard to know where you have mowed and where you haven't. So I just kept making circles. Do other people who mow feel like the neighbors are watching, saying, "Hasn't she mowed that section 20 times?".

Your bushes out front turned yellow. I asked your dad for a chain saw to trim them and really meant a hedge trimmer. Dad was so relieved. By the time the trimming was done, the bush is quite small and ugly.

I know your tradition was to take your Mom mushroom hunting on Mother's Day. Not to worry, Michael and Willis took her and she really had fun. You know how she is when she has her boys around. But we all miss you so much. Absolutely nothing is the same.

I know you must be having trouble communicating with me because you haven't even come in a dream. But, I was wondering...what did you do with the remote for the ceiling fan? I really need it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

So Much To Learn

There is so much to learn. I have now mastered the riding mower, but not the big hill that is most of the back yard. 

I've power washed and sanded a porch swing and am now ready to stain. 

I've bought plastic edging for around the sidewalk but still haven't figured out how to use it.

I've bought and planted my flowers in pots and put down mulch.

I keep getting estimates on the bowing basement wall, but still haven't landed on a company to hire. 

I was given a push mower but it is too hard to start, so what to do but 'call Fred'. I'm not sure what I would do without my father-in-law. He is also going to teach me how to use the weed whip. Good thing he is so patient.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dear Steven,

You know how sometimes I'm irrational and talk about stupid stuff that doesn't make sense to anyone, but me? And you would listen and tell me I was crazy. We would laugh and it would always make me feel better.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Some Decisions Are Too Hard

I have this basement that needs addressing. I need to make decisions about bowing and cracking walls and the best way to fix it. I've gotten a couple estimates but I'm overwhelmed with the amount of money it will take.

There are different ways to fix it from anchors to braces, and the waterproofing is another dilemma with it's own fixes.

I need Steven.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Steven, Remember how...

Remember how when we would go out we would make up stories about the people sitting around us? Really, we just felt sorry for them because they weren't talking. They weren't even looking at each other.





Friday, April 25, 2014

Dear Steven,


Ya know that feeling you get when you think of something really funny that happened to just us? We'd try to explain it and it never sounded  as funny as it really was. Well, except for the many, many times things really were funny. Either way, we  loved rehashing.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Steven,

There is no one to tell me I have too much stuff out for a craft. I never throw grocery bags over my head anymore when I unpack groceries, I'm pretty sure I don't snore anymore. I must have only been doing that to irritate you. I loved the way you imitated my snore. And your imitation of me getting a mosquito bite. I never acted like that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Smell Of Your Good Cooking

Dear Steven,

Food doesn't smell as good now. Could be because I burn it. You loved surprising me with a good dinner. I'd try to guess it by the smell when I came home. The only smell now is those scented candles you hated. Hey, were did you hide all my candles? I never have found them.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Was Not The Same

Dear Steven,

Easter was not the same without you. I sat on the deck and listened to neighbors on both sides with family and friends over. I saw them hide eggs and the smell of their food drifted over.  The weather was perfect. But I'm feeling blue. It does help to write you. Maybe I'll do this more.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Who Said Splitting Hostas Was Easy?

It would be so cool if the weather stayed this way. Having the temp be 60 or above makes me happy.

Working outside is so enjoyable. Today was a bit challenging as I split up some hostas. Last year they overtook my sidewalk rather than just fringing it.  My brother-in-law said it was not hard to do, just stick the shovel down the center and split them apart. But that is not how it worked. I was jumping up and down on the shovel like it was a pogo-stick and the shovel did not penetrate the hosta at all. So I became determined. I got a hammer and a large knife thing and starting in the middle  I hammered the knife thing in and wedged it back and forth all the way around the section I wanted. Next, I got to dig a hole. Back to the shovel. I had no idea there were so many rocks to dig through to make 5 holes but I needed a whirlpool bath at the end of it all. I do not like my shovel and my shovel does not like me.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The Missing Journal

I started a new devotional and journal days after Steve passed away. I poured my heart out in mourning and sorrow. I read what I was studying called, The One Year Book Of Hope, which is what I needed. I needed hope for my future by myself.

I took this journal with me when I went to Phoenix. Since I returned home I haven't been able to find it. So, I started a new journal and thought it would show up. It hasn't. I was sharing this with a friend who said that maybe someone found it that needs it more than I do. As embarrasing as that is, it may  be. I don't hold much back in my journals. It's my way of getting out anger, disappointment and frustration. Then the blog is a toned down version where I sound mostly sane.

What would some man or woman, young, old, married or single, think of the rantings of a crazy woman? Maybe it would make them more grateful for life, or for their loved ones, or God? Or maybe the darn journal is under my couch, waiting to be found.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pain And Heartache

I used to think the only way to help other people was to be emotionally healthy. Now I see, in my brokenness, it can give others opportunity to share their heartache. It allows us to be comrades in the pain and the path to healing.

I see mourning as a chest that holds all the aches and tears, the painful memories and flashbacks. Each time the lid is cracked a bit, I am shrouded in grief over missing my husband. The words I said or didn't say that hurt him, the things he held so closely and couldn't share, the laughing and crying. But, as the chest empties, my hope is that the pain will lessen. Either that, or I'll get used to it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Let The Creativity Flow

I love making things with a vintage-shabby look of lace and muslin. I also love giving things away to people. Several say what I make is appealing and I could sell them individually or in a craft booth.

I may someday, but right now, I have a deal with God to provide me the time and resources to create and I will give away these gifts. God is so good.

 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fishing With Steven

I told my mother-in-law it would be so sad to not go out on the boat with Steven. She reminded me that the boys would probably take me if I wanted to go.

But, it's not the boat, or the peaceful sound of nothing but birds that I miss. It's Steven and his excitement when he's readying to go. It's taking breakfast, lunch and snacks because you just know it's going to be an all-dayer. It's watching him in his element from the first cast to the last. How I would tease him when it got away, and was silent when he snagged a tree. How I put his sun screen on him because he couldn't possibly stop fishing long enough to do it himself. It was talking, or not talking and the silence was okay because the sound of him casting his line said it all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

If I Disappeared

I left for church on Saturday in a rush and forgot my phone. No big deal. I don't have to have it strapped to me like when I worried about Steven needing me. But, after church I went to get groceries and then to Menard's. I kept thinking of my phone hoping no one was trying to reach me.

I unload all my purchases and by the time I found my phone to check for calls, it had been over 4 hours. Nothing. No texts or calls. I was relieved and then immediately disappointed. I wondered, if I never came home...how long would it be before someone started worrying.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

21 Day Fast

I don't remember trying to fast for a three week period in the past, so this time is different. I've chosen to fast from sweets. This is big. Really big for me. I love sweets. I would start naming my favorites from number one on down but that would only make me want them more. So I try not to think about them but they call to me when I open the freezer and the cupboard. I think I may have to toss out some really good stuff. And there is no more throwing good stuff out in the yard for the birds since I keep seeing racoons out there.

What I noticed this fast, was my boldness in coming to God. Inside my head I'm thinking how I'm really depriving myself for the sake of obedience and by golly, I should probably get what I want. Now, what is ironic about this is that I'm to come boldly to God in just this way anytime, not just during a fast. If I'm in line with what He wants the 'by golly' should be there in any bold request.

And since God didn't answer my prayer repeated several times to cure Steven, I should have a warehouse of favors just waiting to be asked for. I know it doesn't work this way, but I'm only human and forget God doesn't play by the same rules.

So the fasting seems to be for me too. It makes my thoughts process thru a filter of wants but can't haves. And to think, I'm only through day one.

What Happened To Just Cleaning The House?

I love having this home. But, I liked it more when I just had to keep it clean and well stocked. Literally, that was all I had to do. But now, there are decisions about everything and I have to weigh out cost vs need. Do I trust the source, or should I get another opinion? Is this something that needs attention in the next couple months or it can wait?

From basement walls that have cracks to gutters that spill over, from an attic that needs more insulation to a furnace that needs cleaned. Then there are the vehicles, tractors, and the yard itself which has a steep ravine in back. There is a drip under the sink and some insulation around the sliding glass door to replace. I know the wiring is old and there is an additional water shut off that is almost impossible to budge open or closed. There are receding sidewalks and the deck is moving away from the house. The garage needs organizing but I'm not sure what anything is. I bought a stud finder to hang some things on the walls of the garage but I'm not sure where to put things. There are a couple oak trees that need to go but I can wait on those, unless a strong wind blew one down and it crashes into the house that I've taken all this time to keep up on. Maybe I should tackle the trees first. A couple bushes and vines are dead, and there is a rhododendron that is almost as tall as the house that needs pruning. Steve will have a cow in heaven if I touch it but it's an eye sore 50 weeks out of the year when not in bloom. Maybe God can have him at harp practice that day. Oh gosh, that tickled me. Steven playing the harp!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Times Are A-Changing

I have good days and bad days, like everyone I guess. But, inside is an empty spot that sometimes seems bigger than I am. I'm hit with the absence of Steven at odd times. This house holds over 20 years of laughter, arguing, making love, being sick and being healthy. There were times we had money and did things, and times we didn't and had fun at home.

This reminds me of wedding vows, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to have and to hold, from this day forward until death do we part. Well, we certainly did that.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Or Less

Our kids mean everything to us. This doesn't get any easier as they grow into adulthood. We as parents just have less influence. In fact, I think there is more to be concerned about. There are the people they share their lives with and the next generation of children they have to add to our list of concerns.

While I'm glad I can 'give' all this concern to God and know that whatever happens is being orcherstrated, I wish I knew that they were praying too. This is where I stand in the gap for them. We can only do so much. I'm thankful I raised two wonderful sons and gave them good roots that are always there to draw from.

 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Time To What?

I had a friend who also lost his spouse after an a long period of care-giving. He said that it is now time to think about himself and what can make him happy.

I'm in this position too, and as liberating as it feels, it sounds...selfish. I have not been in this 'only me' state since forever. I went from home to husband to children and now, they have all gone on to live under their own umbrella.

So what if I turned the 'time to make ME happy' into 'what would make God happy?' I have so much time to talk to God now. There are some would say that I'm going back to holding an umbrella over someone's head, but it doesn't work that way with God. I know that if I make Him happy, I'm going to be filled with a joy that is unobtainable from any other source.

Step one today, find out what makes God happy. Journal about it, pray about it, and of course blog about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

To Have And To Hold

I went back in my saved messages on my phone to May of last year, and found another voice mail from Steven. He is angry and yelling at me. He is so irate I can't understand what he is saying. It reminded me of dark times during his illness and I ended up in an emotional slump.

I want to delete it, but I can't. When all you have are small, little snippets, you keep every one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

No Comparison

When I start feeling sorry for myself, I need to remember that this life is but a vapor that is here for a small amount of time and then vanishes away. Surly, I can endure this or the next temporarily challenge.

But what really helps is knowing what IS after this life is over. I am heir to the kingdom. I am a daughter to the King. So I endure, because eternity in a kingdom is worth my momentary trials.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Only Perfect Thing Within Me

The only perfect thing within me is God's love. And, fortunately, it is the most important thing.

I love visualizing Jesus standing at the door to our heart knocking. To open the door is step one. To invite Him in will be the best decision of you life. How good it is to not fear death, knowing that at that moment 'real' life begins.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sanity is Overrated

I may be losing the war on sanity. But, as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, it'll be okay. I think I'm reverting back in mourning and it's more clear, my loss...my need for Steve. But, again, even if I'm being fed lies by Satan, I just have to keep my eyes on the face of Jesus and I'll be okay. Maybe not sane, but okay.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Theory To Prove

How can a person have so many wonderful, caring friends and family members and still feel so alone? I want Steven. That's all there is. I can't seem to get a grip. What day did I write about that? The tears, they seem to come and I can't shake it. There is always the theory to prove. Can a person become dehydrated from crying too much. I'll let you know.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Reprieve

We always have questions for God. But, it's during our times of struggling His answers mean the most. And it's then, that we see Him most clearly. It may be in a friend's arms around you, a child's laughter or just a good night's sleep, we are given reprieve from life's dealings.

Psalm 91:1 The Lord says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes

I love knowing the difference the Holy Spirit within me makes. He rids me of anxieties and fears, my resentments and hostilities, my guilt and regrets. He keeps me filled with Himself and floods my heart with God's love. I am then able to give thanks for all things, every hour of every day.

This reminds me of a time I was holding Steven as his meds kicked in. God told me to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. My husband was dying in my arms, how could I thank Him? He then said to be thankful for the days I had with Steve, which I did, easily. Calculating those days now, I come up with 8,340 days, or 22 years, 10 months and 1 day. That is a lot to be thankful for.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Raccoon

Finding out I had a raccoon in my garage and trapping it was one thing. But putting the poor thing down in my back yard was another. Apparently it had gotten into fertilizer or insecticide because it was paralyzed.

After I cleaned up the destruction in my garage, chipped at the ice in the driveway, and dug out gutters from heaps of snow, I was exhausted. So I did what I do when I've pushed myself. I cried. None of this is my job. I'm not angry at Steve for dying, or God, just frustrated at the situation. I know I can ask for help, but didn't.

What happened to just being a girl?

 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Body & Soul

What is more important, our bodies or our souls? What has the longest longevity? Our bodies will give out little by little as a natural progression, but our souls live forever.

God cares more about our spiritual health than our physical health and so should we. To God, protecting out soul from eternal judgment and death is more significant than protecting our bodies from disease or death.

Too often, we become disappointed in lack of healing when we pray. I know I did. But, my trust in God must remain strong as I learn His value system and line mine up accordingly.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Striking My Foot On A Stone

God has promised to protect me, but sometimes it feels like this didn't happen. When I doubt this promise, I tell myself I am human with limitations on my grasp of life. But my protector has no limits. Just because I don't see the Red Sea part, doesn't mean there are not miracles happening all around me. Just because Steven died, does not mean something big did not happen in all of it.

As I watched Steven lose strength physically, I witnessed his spiritual strength grow stronger. I listened to him pray, and ask me to pray. I saw him want to go to church. I read his note that told me what he talked to God about daily. And I felt God in it all. It's the lens of spiritual wisdom I must choose to look through.

Monday, February 17, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

As I sit here watching the snow storm out my window, I know I should be missing the warmth of my vacation to Phoenix last week. But the sound of the wind as it whips the snow past, and the contrast of the cardinal I see in the snowy bush and the warm, safe feeling I have sitting here help me realize...this is home. The impending ice and snow excite me since I don't have to go anywhere. I'm in my element as the hours of this day off work stretch before me. I'll read my Bible, paint some frames, eat some chocolate pie I made, watch the Olympics, touch base with some friends, hit the treadmill and maybe even take a nap. It's good to be home.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Trip To Phoenix

I traveled. That's big for me. I went to Arizona and visited 3 couples I've known for a long time. The trip was disconcerning because I seem less brave then during my 'Steve and Denice' days. I was sure I would get stuck in Denver airport with a flight being cancelled. When I shared this with my son, he voiced how he would love to be stranded in Denver. Silly me. I never thought it could be a cool thing.

It's good to see old friends. I especially enjoyed being made to feel a part of their family as they each opened their home to me. To see the bonds of strong marriages and faith walks. It was also good to talk about Steven and share the ups and downs of widowhood. I shopped and ate, and ate and then shopped. Nothing was rushed or planned.

As perfect as the visit was, I cannot emphasize the shock 100 degrees can make to one's system. It was -20 when I left and it hit 80 the first day. I grinned ear to ear every time I went outside. The sun was warm and bright, people drove with windows down, and I couldn't understand why I was the only one in stunned amazement.

 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Drawer Of Toys At Gram's House

When I would go to my Grandmother's, we had a drawer in a cabinet that had a couple toys in it. Nothing extravagant, a small car or two and a plastic rattle with liquid and colorful balls that floated down. Doesn't seem like much of a toy but we could spend hours turning it upside down and guessing which would be the last color to go down. There was a book of children's poems and one of prayers with beautiful angels in it and a deck of cards.

But the few things would keep me busy for days. Why is it the less we have, the more time we spend on something. Kid's have so much now and it all gets torn out for 1 minute and it's on to the next thing.

I remember grandma telling me they would get an apple or sweets for Christmas. What was up with that? But if that was what you got each year, you didn't expect much more. Seems things were simpler then.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Stand Without Words

I had so much trouble singing the hymn It Is Well With My Soul, when Steven was dying. I was so righteous about it, when it came to that part in the song I would refuse to sing. I'm sure God was getting the message. It reminded me of when I went to St. Mary's Catholic Church with my grandmother. When we would read the Nicene Creed in the beginning of the hymnbook, I refused to read the part about believing in the one Catholic Church. At the time I went to a different church and couldn't say the words if I didn't know for sure I believed them.

But today, although life is hard, I can sing. Even the part, It Is Well With My Soul.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Too Many Choices

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this, but there are too many choices when shopping. I get overwhelmed. I'm trying to make a decision on price, but even that is hard to figure when faced with so many. From vitamins, to sanitary products, from cereal to laundry detergent, it's all too much. That might explain why I'm exhausted when done shopping.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gram's Trunk

I have a trunk of my grandmothers that means the world to me. I used to see it in her attic when I was visiting as a child. Being in the attic was not a fun thing. I went in for Gram to check the mouse traps. After years of doing this I'm glad I have the trunk. It is full of things of mine, my grandmothers and her mothers. There are pictures of people I don't know. Obituaries, leather work of my dads, broaches, lace handkerchiefs, newspaper clippings, a hairnet or two, and some papers.

I'm not sure why it is that I remember everything in Gram's house but not much from the house I grew up in. Maybe because nothing changed in Gram's house. She sat in the same straight back chair when she talked on the phone. The same items sat on the top of her dresser for years. I remember this picture tree with little circles dangling off the branches that held photos. I dusted the same knick knacks that sat on the same shelf, and used the same pair of Gram's underwear to wash windows with vinegar and water. I will never make my grandchildren wash my windows with my underwear. Now-a-days underwear isn't big enough to do anything with. Even to wear as underwear.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Meeting Nancy

 

I think I've posted before about a new friend I made through my blog, Her name is Nancy and God brought us together about a year ago, first through her sister sharing a prayer request through the church, then through this blog and then we started emailing. Her husband was very ill too and we had the unfortunate bond of pain. The pain involved with watching your husband's health diminish day by day.


We also shared having son's, faith in God, and the gift of encouragement. It was the encouragement that bonded us. One of us would feel like they were hanging on by a thread, and who better to tell it to than another who is experiencing it?


Finally, last fall we decided we needed to meet. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska and I in Illinois so the midpoint was Des Moines. We found a nice place to stay and made a weekend of it. Shopping, eating out, and telling our stories. It was wonderful.

 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Was God Joking?

I hear people remark that God sure does have a sense of humor. I understand this perspective when I think of some of the animals He created. But in my Bible reading, I don't think God/Jesus had a real funny side. I hear a lot of other necessary emotions but no laughing or teasing.

Well, there are the parts in the old testament where God asks questions He already knows the answers to. Like when Adam and Eve are naked and hide behind some trees, God calls out, "Where are you?" and "Who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?"

Of course he knew all the answers. And then when he questions Cain after Cain has killed his brother Abel. "Where is your brother Abel?" I'm pretty sure he knew.

But, I have to admit, I did the same thing as a mom to young boys. "Did you make this mess? What were you thinking? What did you do to your brother?" Luckily, by the grace of God, neither one has done in his brother yet.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Funeral

I went to a funeral over the weekend. My first since Steven died. Millie was someone I really admired. She was a gentle woman that was soft spoken and never seemed in a hurry. Attributes I seem to be lacking. I wonder sometimes if God makes some people clumsy and outspoken. Anyway, Millie lived a wonderful 89 years and is now with her husband.

I became upset moments after entering the funeral home. Not so much for Millie, but the grieving I felt, rather than saw. And it all came back to me. The family eating between visits, the picture board and reminiscing, the flowers and the groups of people speaking softly. I needed to get a grip, so turned to look at a painting on the wall. I reminded myself to think of this as a celebration of a life well spent.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Day We Got Steven Warm

I remember when Steve was sick he would get cold so easy. Winter was very hard for him to warm up at all. One day he told me he felt bulky with all the layers he had to wear. He said he wanted to get down to a tee shirt and jeans. So, we turned the heat up to 78 and it got very toasty in our home. I was wearing a tank top and shorts, he was down to this tee shirt and jeans and there was a 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Voicemail From Steven

I have a voicemail from Steven on my phone at work. Listening to it yesterday, I realized it was 1 year ago that he left it.

When I left for work that morning he was doing so poorly. The headaches he was having were from brain swelling caused by the radiation. I told him to please, please call me later and let me know he was okay. Now I look back and wonder why the heck I didn't stay home with him.

So his voicemail says, "Hi Neece. Just calling to let you know I'm feeling a little bit better. I'll see you later. Bye bye." When I listen now I could very well think he left it today. Except his voice would sound stronger. He is better now, and I will see him later.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oh To Be Free

One of the best sermons I have heard at Heritage talked about the viscous circle we go around when we try on our own to free ourselves from an addiction. Pastor Shawn said we are slaves to what we obey, and too often we are unsuccessful when we try on our own which leads to discouragement. The solution is to let Jesus change us from the inside. Sounds big and it really is. But what if you could close your eyes, quit being afraid of letting go and let God lead. We chose the rest of the story.


Check out “The Story - Freedom” by Heritage Church on Vimeo.

The video is available for your viewing pleasure at http://vimeo.com/83049216

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Today is God's Plan A

Today is God's Plan A. Nothing can stop His Plan A from happening. Not Satan, or sickness or a spouse can stop this sovereign plan. God carries out his purpose without any regrets or mistakes. His plans are never thwarted.

This makes me ask myself why I pray, if it's all decided anyway and nothing can change. I pray because I'm told to. And I know for me, I relate on a more personal level if I'm talking to God. Perhaps the praying is more for me than for him.

Sometimes things don't go the way I'd like them to. My husband wasn't miraculously healed from cancer. His death was slow and painful. And for those of us who were here and witnessed it, our lives were changed. But in my surrender from long ago, I realized that there is nothing I have that is not from God. Today is God's divine Plan A. Not Plan B. I don't have to see it to believe it.

The LORD Almighty has sworn this oath: "It will all happen as I have planned. It will come about according to my purposes. I have a plan for the whole earth, for my mighty power reaches throughout the world. The Lord Almighty has spoken - who can change his plans? When his hand moves, who can stop him?" Isaiah 14:24, 26-27