Wednesday, January 11, 2017

JOY

I only took one picture at Christmas. ONE. I don't have a smart phone and just an old fashioned camera so as the years go by I take less photos. (Except of course if it's on vacation and if I see buffalo!) I rely on my kids to give me pictures of the grands and then I usually complain if I'm in them! But this Christmas as Bill was reading the Bible of the birth of Jesus I had to snap a photo. Ever since I can remember, my Daddy always read the Christmas story before we opened presents. We have carried on this tradition in our own family. As he was reading I was wondering how many times I heard Daddy read the story and how many times I have heard Bill read it. Last year Mama read it, even though it was hard for her to see the words. That was a special moment for me.

























This picture says more than just Bill reading the Christmas story. It shows how our lives have changed in the last two and a half years. There are Duplo Legos on the floor under his chair and an open Easter egg at his feet. ( I have no idea why!) Beside him on the table is a pacifier. It is pink so that means it goes to Marissa's baby doll.  Beside him is Tim, Will's stuffed penguin, reading the Christmas story along with him!
After a rough month of wondering if anyone remembered Amy, each of my children gave me a memory of her. Emily gave me butterfly earrings, Tessa gave me a bracelet that says Amy on it, and Laura gave me a kitchen towel set with butterflies and a calendar with a different butterfly on each month. A dear friend at church the week before had also shared a memory she had of Amy and how her family remembers her each Christmas because of it. Thank you for speaking her name, even though it brought tears. Thank you for remembering her.
I have a favorite photo of Amy's last Christmas with us. It was taken in the light of our advent candles. We would try to burn a candle every night up till Christmas Eve when all of them were lit.




Emily wanted me to put up the candles this year and I just looked at her and said, "What for? I haven't put them up for the last three years." It was a few days before Christmas and I had finally gotten the dining room table cleaned off from craft making and Christmas wrappings. I could tell she was a little upset (a mother can always tell) and so the next day when she was at work I put the table cloth on and set up the advent wreath of candles. I cried many tears with each candle I put in, knowing that the last time I did this Amy was still here. We lit them before the Christmas meal and sometime during  dinner I glanced up and this was the view I saw. Marissa Amy and little Micah  in the light of the candles. I used Tessa's camera to get the picture so I wasn't focusing right, but it is still dear to my heart. God knew I needed to see it this way. He knew. He was telling me, "Look at the blessings you have! Think on the future, not the past."




I received a few presents, too, in  memory of Daddy. Emily made me a cutting board that says "We thank Thee, Lord, for the necessities of life...." When I was little Daddy would always say the same sentence in his prayers and it was about partaking of the necessities of life.  I really didn't understand until I was older that he was thankful for the daily necessities that most of us take for granted. It is now a constant reminder in my kitchen to be thankful.

James and Laura commissioned a painting to be done with the artist who painted Amy's closet door with a scene of butterflies, an arbor, flowers and a fairy in her bedroom (our bedroom now). This was what they commissioned. This was what I unwrapped. I thought my heart was breaking once again.





That's my Daddy walking through his beloved fields of corn. Walking into the rays of the sun. Going Home.
O how I miss that mighty man of God. He stood for everything that is true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely in this world.   

I started this blog after Amy died as a way to share her life and my process of going through grief. I didn't care who read it as it was a way for me to grieve and almost all of the posts were written with tears streaming down my face. I could be real on here so I could 'pretend' out in public that everything was ok.
I struggle with words. I am not a natural born writer and many of these blogs have taken hours to write as I try to make sure my grammar, spelling and sentence structure are correct. I knew there would be others reading this although I never dreamed  I would touch people in foreign countries.  Even though I haven't written a post since Oct. in the last 30 days there have been over 100 views from Asia, Europe and South America. I don't say that to brag. I say that to state that what I am writing now is mostly for those out there who don't know me very well and if you are friends or my family, I hope you can see my heart in this and not take offense.

The last few months have been really hard. After my visit to my Mama in Oct. I seemed to struggle more with grief. Then the first anniversary of my Daddy's death came and I remembered all the details of the last two weeks of his life that I was able to spend with him and the following week of the funeral. There were so many heartaches that week and in the weeks to come with my family that I have tried to forget. But it has put a distance between my sisters and myself.  As time has passed and the political climate has changed I decided to remain silent, especially when I read this verse from Amos 5:13, "Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time."  Even though we don't agree, I love them and do not hate them or their families. Disagreement is not the same thing as hate.

This past November, in my own immediate family a horrible misunderstanding occurred. Angry words were spoken, tears were shed, I asked for an apology and it was given but with more hurtful words said, and distance came between us. I was willing to talk- to hash things out- but they chose to not talk about the situation and just move on.  
And so we have. 
At that same time I fractured a rib and was in a lot of physical pain for a few weeks and the emotional pain just added to it.

During the last year and especially these last few months God has taught me much. I always thought my family would be there for me. He has taken me through the loss of a sister, mother and father-in-law, a precious daughter and then my sweet Daddy. Someday I may lose others before He decides to take me home to Him. But I have learned that I only need Him. He and He alone is what I need to be complete and whole. My family adds to my joy (and sometimes sorrow) but I cannot live my life for them. I can only live it for Jesus and do what He tells me is best for me, not what others think is best for me. God is writing my story and He isn't revealing that story to others, whether it be my children, sisters, or friends.
So to all of you out there, I don't know your stories.  What I am trying to convey to you is that even if you have no family or don't have a relationship with your family, you can still have joy and be content if you have Jesus. He is all you need.


"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;    I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me."

Micah 7:7-8
My word for the year is JOY.
Thank you for reading my blog. Being able to share God's Word is one way I have joy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Does Time Heal Grief?

Does time heal all wounds?
Does time heal grief?

The first year I started this blog in 2013 after Amy died I wrote 55 posts. In 2014 I wrote 29 posts. Last year 14 and this year so far only 5.
Does that mean I'm healing, that as time passes my grief isn't as great? Or do I just not feel the need to share details of my life with whoever happens to read this? Does that mean I'm healing if I don't feel like sharing my soul anymore? Or have I just become better in my day to day life with others of concealing my pain? 

Amy died on the 8th. For months and months that day was so hard for me. Then we had new days to remember. A birth on the 10th, a wedding on the 15th, births on the 21st, and 23rd. Too many days to keep track of and somehow the eighth of each month passed and I would realize it didn't hurt as much anymore.  This last month on the 8th, I was walking for a cure for Crohn's and Colitis. This was the third year I walked for my little friend, Chloe.


Emily walked with me this year and it was so good to see all the people involved and to hear Chloe's speech as she was the honored hero!  Emily and I enjoyed a nice lunch out and shopping afterwards. When I got home I checked Facebook and my memories showed me that I had shared three blogs that day. When Amy had been gone 6 months, 18 months, and 2 and 1/2 years. I realized that this was the 3 1/2 year anniversary of her death and I didn't remember. I didn't remember! I immediately started crying and felt so guilty. But I realized that this meant I was healing and that was a good thing.

Last month Bill and I spent two weeks vacationing in the Black Hills. We had a great time, had fun with friends we met there forty years ago, saw a lot of the things we remembered and were amazed at some of the changes, and many, many times I thought of Amy. So many little things bring reminders of her. Although we made plans with our friends to meet there every 5 years, I have a feeling I will never go back.  
My friend and I met 40 years ago when we were roommates
working at Mount Rushmore for the summer.

Two weeks ago, Emily and I flew to Maine to visit my Mama. She lives with my sister, and my niece and her family live nearby. It was so good to see her and the family, but very hard, too. It will soon be the  first anniversary of my Daddy's death and to not see him when I visit Mama is really difficult. To see all her 'stuff' that has always been on the farm and now in her new home is comforting but just really hard. Our goodbye was difficult.  I don't know when the Lord will call her home. This life on earth has no promises. Only God has the promise of eternal life in heaven.

Isn't it so strange how one can smile for a camera but feel like they are crying on the inside? Before the tears could start falling, I said my goodbye quickly.  Once we were finally in the privacy of our car, after 4 hours of airport waiting,  our flight, and finding our car, I wept, wishing I would have hugged Mama one more time.
One More Time. Oh to have Amy back for one more hug. Or to have Daddy's arms around me one more time.

While Bill and I were in the Black Hills, Emily, Laura and a friend went to a Beth Moore simulcast.  
Emily shared with me some of the message and I decided to purchase a pass so I could watch it online. I was able to watch it before we went to Maine and I learned so much. The theme was that we each have a seat in the divine symphony and scripture is our visible concert master. At some point during the day "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" was sung. This was one of Amy's favorite songs and of course it brought tears to my eyes. To close the simulcast, Psalm 16:11 was shared.
"You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Then the worship team sang a medley of songs.  I was so touched with the choice of songs, I knew I had to share these with Mama when we visited. Emily and I were able to sing them with her and she asked us to type up the lyrics for her. Here is a brief account of the songs.
Soon and Very Soon
Soon and very soon we are going to see the King
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, were going to see the King
No more crying there, No more dying there,.......
I'll Fly Away
Some glad morning when this life is over, I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away,........
Unclouded Day
Oh they tell me of a home far beyond the skies
Oh they tell me of a home far away
Oh they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
Oh they tell me of an unclouded day,........
Will the Circle be Unbroken
By and by Lord by and by
There's a better home a waiting
In the sky Lord in the sky...........
Do Lord
I've got a home in glory land that outshines the sun,
way beyond the blue............
Then they ended with Victory in Jesus
Another of Amy's favorites that we sang at her funeral.
The promises from the Word of God, shared in these songs sustained me while I was there, as did prayers from others.

We've been home a week now and I have experienced grief like I haven't for a very long time. I'm not sure what triggers it, so many things will remind me of Amy and Daddy. Yesterday I planted a few flower bulbs on her grave and cried and cried. I miss her so much. I just want this life to be over. The cares of this world seem to weigh me down. I'm so sick of politics and how it has stirred up division between my family. I get so sad that so many Christians can't see the needs in the rest of the world, but only care about America and their own little life. We had a family get together last evening to celebrate Bill's and Brad's birthdays and I had no desire to go. It was difficult, even the little ones didn't seem to lift my despair. But today I have felt better. Working through my feelings of the last months, writing this blog seems to help. And remembering....
Remembering the promises of God. Knowing that I am here for a reason. That God has a plan for my life, for a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

So will time heal all my wounds, will time heal my grief?
Yes!
But not in this life. Only in the life to come.
I'll end with one of my favorite authors.
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." C.S. Lewis "The Last Battle"