Thursday, August 29, 2013

My redemptive epic

"The package you’re called to unpack everyday is who you really are —
your real calling.
So unwrap your real story — because if you deny your story, you deny not only yourself…  but you deny the very Author Who is writing your redemptive epic."  Ann Voskamp

I stayed angry at God for a day and then my heart began to soften. I studied more scripture, thought about people in worse conditions than myself. It wasn't like the Dr. told me I'd never walk or what if I was going blind? I think there are a lot worse things than just succumbing to the fact that my body is wearing out. It is what happens to everyone when they age.  I started therapy this week and they feel with strengthening my muscles that I should be able to do the things I would like to do in life. They also feel that if I am having a lot of knee pain, then a knee replacement would be recommended, even if the Dr.s say I'm too young. Doctors are to care about our quality of life. Right? Or is it that the insurance doesn't cover it on a younger person? I don't know, but I don't really care right now. I'm working on healing and getting my life back as much as I can without Amy. 

My husband and I are now downstairs sleeping in Amy's room and I am enjoying it. I like to redecorate and figure out how I can use old things to look good in a different setting. Since we put our bed in a different place than Amy's was we decided to mount her tv on the wall. My husband and son worked for a few hours until they got the right mount and to get the tv up. Then we couldn't remember where any of the wires went since we didn't take notice of where they were when we unplugged them!  After getting out the manuals and trying for an hour or so, we gave up and called the tv man to come out the next time he was in our area. He came a few days later and had to push two buttons. We had it all hooked up right, just didn't know what we were doing!

I had painted Amy's two dressers before my surgery, but was waiting to get matching drawer pulls. Since I was really unable to shop I got them online at Lowes. The one dresser needed 5 inch and the other 3 3/4 inch handles. The 5 in. was great! Screwed them right in, but the other came with some screws I'd never seen before. You actually cut them to fit. So after searching in his "stash" for screws that might work, my poor husband had to take them out to his "shop" and cut the 8 screws so they would work. I think he will be so happy when I am done with this room project!

I was humbled by the comments people made to my last blog. A friend from the next state over posted this on facebook:
"It’s a hard world. Even the best of Christians are feeling the weight of weariness. Little wonder we are to “Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13)."
I see courage and grace in you (3 names), (and then my name) and many of my other friends battling the hardness of life today - You inspire me and I love you dearly for being part of my life!!!
And then she posted this link:
I was humbled even more. 

My sister said:
"My precious sister, how my heart aches for you and wants to make everything the way it was before. Even in the midst of anger you still cling to Him. I applaud your honesty and am once again humbled by your bravery and your never wavering faith."
And if she was humbled I'm even more humbled yet. 

I guess it was o.k. to be "real" and let you all know that I was angry. My sister said that even in the midst of anger I cling to Him. What else can I do? He is my life. He is in the place in my heart now where He should have been before Amy was taken from me.  

Today in my Bible reading in Luke 23, verses 33-37 jumped out at me.
" When they came to the place called The Scull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."  They cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”  The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,  and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

I have grown up in the church and I know the stories, I know Jesus said this, but it was different now.  I was thinking, as they were driving nails into His hands and feet He thought this. Not only thought this, but as they were mocking and sneering at Him, gambling over his clothes He actually voiced it! Said it out loud! Why? And then He told me, not in a voice, but in my heart, I knew. Because He loved them. Even as they were killing Him, He loved them. 

So how could I possibly ever be angry at Someone Who loves so deeply. Who loves ME so much?

As Ann says: He is writing my story. My redemptive epic. How can I tell the Author I don't like the way the story is going when I don't even know the end? 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Angry at God

I'm angry.

I'm beginning to feel like Job. 

God didn't allow all my family to die, but He allowed the most precious member of our family. Amy was the glue that held us together. 

He hasn't taken all of our animals, but He allowed Amy's dear pony and our sweet little dog to die.

Now it seems He wants my health. 

Today I went to have my stitches removed and the follow-up after surgery. The Dr. showed us pictures of the inside of my knee. The meniscus was pretty torn up but I'm healing well and need some physical therapy, which I knew I would need and welcome it. I like the people who work there and after the exercises I enjoy the 20 minutes of elec stim where I just get to lay there and read for awhile. I'm sure the meniscus was pretty bad because I just ignored the pain when Amy was in the hospital and after and during my therapy for 2 months. But the other pictures and news were not so good.

What I found out today is that my arthritis is pretty bad in that knee. The Dr. doesn't want me to kneel, squat down, or bend my leg more than 60 degrees. Ever, even with therapy. I don't have any cartilage between the knee cap and the bone. No running, no jumping, no climbing.
This more than anything hit me like a brick. I have been more mad at God today than any time over Amy's death. I feel like He is trying to take everything that is important to me and my life means nothing anymore.

No kneeling in prayer, no kneeing at Amy's grave, or lying prostrate--how would I ever get back up! No running with future grandchildren in play. I asked the Dr. if I would ever be able to go hiking again and he said with time, but laughingly said I couldn't climb over rocks and boulders. That should have been ok, but my desire is to hike the mountains with my husband again, not a smooth path around a lake. Now that we have the freedom to do that with Amy not being here to worry about and arrange care for, He has taken the reality of that dream away also. 

My husband says to not be so depressed; my daughter says to defy the doctors and prove them wrong. I can't stop crying in fatigue, depression, and anger. 

I know some of it is the narcotics I have been on to help with the pain. But I'm not going to take them any more. I started to feel dizzy the last couple of days and I kept taking them anyway to help me sleep. I know now I need to stop.  I know they are affecting my attitude, so I need to just control the pain and sleeping with the over the counter stuff.

This isn't the usual type of blog I write. I thought about waiting until my mood improved, but this is who I am, right now. our house next?

If you know the story of Job, you know what I mean. If not read the first couple of chapters and then the last couple of chapters.  Better yet, read the whole book.  

I'll tell you what I have written on the last page of Job. This was a foot note in one of the Bibles we had once. A Scofield I think.I copied it down because it answered any questions I had about Amy.
Maybe I should apply it to more than just questions about Amy.

"Beyond the revealed purposes of God, there still remains much mystery. And for this there is no answer, except the attitude of worship in which we humbly acknowledge that a Sovereign God cannot be required by men to give all the reasons for what He chooses to do." 

And then I have written Romans 11:33-36  

" Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory  forever. Amen."

I still don't understand, but I do know my anger will pass. I know God still loves me at this moment in my anger and despair, and is holding me even closer. I just can't feel it right now....
That is why I live by faith and not by feelings.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

He doesn't give us second best.

I read a blog yesterday that really touched my heart.  Angie Smith has a story of her own, full of grief and moving on with life.  This is something she said, "Don’t assume He has withheld the best from you because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. He knows what we need and how we should receive it." and "He doesn’t give us second-best, but He sure might teach us to second-guess what we’re given, daily learning to accept and rejoice that which comes from His hand."  I needed to hear that. I haven't been thanking God as much I should be and actively seeking for the blessings that He puts in my life everyday. 

This past weekend, my husband, youngest daughter and I drove to Kansas City to attend the wedding of a dear friend of ours. It was a 15  hour drive one way, but well worth the trip. It was the first voyage of our new little car which we named Hidey Ho. She did well! Good gas mileage and handled all the road construction and thunder storms we managed to drive through. We had two days in Kansas City and seeing old friends that knew Amy and loved her as we did was a comfort. But of course there were times of tears. When the beautiful harp music was playing, I was so overcome, as I knew Amy would have loved being there. In all reality though, we would have never gone if Amy was still with us. She could never have made the trip in the short time we did and we probably would have just had our daughter fly out, as she has been best friends with the brides sister since they were 5 years old. So it was a blessing that we were even able to be at the wedding and visit with them. After the early afternoon wedding we were invited to their family reunion at a nearby park and met more of the extended family.  What a special time that was and what good food! Most of the family grew up in Brazil so we had a mixture of American and Brazilian food. Also the wedding cake and some of the extra sides were Brazilian.  

The next morning we attended church with the family. We sat beside the son and daughter-in-law with a baby. (They are on the left, in the picture below, with the baby in a green shirt.) During the sermon she nursed him and he put his feet right on my tummy and kept pushing against it while he was eating. I cradled his feet in my hand and realized that here was another blessing as my heart overflowed with the joy that only a baby can bring. We were able to visit two of their homes and so now I have an image in my head of what their houses look like when I think of them.

The evening before we left we were invited to a new friend's home. We weren't going to go at first because we were so tired, but then decided to. I am so glad we did! What a special family. Their three daughters played the harps at the wedding. One of the daughters has a sewing business and another one has a soap business using their goat's milk to make soap. Here is a website to their business:  Mamba Bars
They also have pictures of their family. We had a time of singing before we left and again the tears came. Amy would have loved meeting this family. She would have enjoyed seeing their goats, chickens and dogs. And she especially would have loved watching all the little kids play together and hear the singing. But Amy isn't here, she is in a much better place and I am so glad that God gave us this special weekend. 

The bride and groom with the brides  family.
In two days I will have my knee surgery. We were able to get Amy's room painted last week and  tonight we are moving our bed down here to the first floor. For 36 years we have slept in the same room. Over the course of those years the cradle was moved in and out four times and we went from a double to a king. It is another chapter in our lives that is closing, but just a chapter. Not the end. Another chapter is starting and I thank God for the new things that He will be showing us. 

I will be off my feet for awhile so I plan on getting a scrapbook started of Amy. I'm sure there will be more tears, but tears are healing and I know God is still keeping them and crying with me.
David says in Psalm 57:8
You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.Are they not in Your book?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Four Months

Four months ago I was visiting with a dear friend for a few minutes after she had come to say "Goodbye" to my sweet Amy. I didn't realize that Amy would only live for a few more hours. This friend and I have a bond now, whether she knows it or not, because she was the last of my friends to see Amy alive on this earth. 
She was the first of my friends that I met for breakfast out and a visit. Four months! It has taken me that long to want to be with a friend again. I missed knowing what was going on with her family and being able to tell her about mine. It was a good visit, we lingered over our breakfast for two hours. It was just like old times but yet it wasn't.  I don't know if I will ever feel like I used to as there is always a sadness lurking in the back of my heart. 
Tuesday evening my daughter-in-law had us up for a meal. Our whole family has eaten together in our house, but I have made our kitchen table smaller, so we all crowd around it to eat. My dining room table is still filled with Amy's stuff and I'm not sure when we will use the dining room again. My hubby and I drove the 1/4 mile to our son's house because of my knee, but my girls decided to walk up. They started up ahead of us and that is when the tears started. They are beautiful young women. So slender and pretty. The oldest with long straight hair and the youngest with long very curly hair.  The two of them walking up the path with the mountain behind them is an image in my mind I will never forget. Why do children grow up so fast? The oldest used to carry the youngest around on her hip like a little mama and the youngest was such a little pill! 
They are beautiful on the inside, too. I'm so proud that they are both trusting their future to the Lord and His desires for them.
As we gathered around the table holding hands for prayer, it seemed so empty, with only the six of us. It has always been six, but then my son added his bride and we were seven. But know we are only six again. The intense longing for Amy would not stop and I had to release my tears. My family is just not complete anymore. 
Through tears I told my son and d.i.l. that they better hurry up and have some babies. But my oldest wisely said that wouldn't make our family complete. It will never be complete here on this earth again. 
But.   For.   God.
Our family will be complete some day. 

Revelation 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Pictures of my girls from a few years ago.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Closer to You

Some old songs were going through my head tonight and I remembered this one and started humming it. I first heard of Mark Schultz when we were coming home from a vacation in the Smoky Mountains in 1999 and I heard "He's My Son."  I cried so much I almost got sick. Little did I know that I would be facing the same thing just a decade and a half later.  

This one above, "Closer to You,"  brought the tears again tonight. I know it is to be about Jesus, but right now it is about Amy. I can't wait to see her again.

Jesus is giving me the strength to smile and to laugh (no dancing with my bum knee), but He is giving me the power to continue without my precious little Amy. Yet every breath within me is longing to see her again and I know if I continue to follow the Lord it won't be long until she is running down the path to see me with Jesus right beside her.

Closer to me I'm tired and I'm weak
And every breath within me is longing just to be
Closer to You
So I face the road ahead
Cause I know there's no comparing
To what's waiting at the end

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm smiling
After all I've been through
It's cause I'm just a day closer to You

Closer to me I hear You whisper on the wind
You say although my life is ending
A new one will begin
Closer to You
And I know I'm not alone
Cause I can hear You in the distance
Saying, you are nearly home

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm dancing
Though my days may be few
It's cause I'm just a day closer to You

Closer to me You're in the laughter and the tears
Of the ones I leave behind me
Who have prayed me through the years
Closer to You
And I know it won't be long
Till You're running down the pathway
Just to take me in Your arms

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm singing
Though my life's almost through
It's cause I'm just a day closer
I'm just a day closer
I'm just a day closer to You

This is the first song of his I heard all those years ago. 

Friday, August 2, 2013


Emotional pain and physical pain.  Physical pain was the only pain I knew for most of my young life. Then Amy was born and I grieved for the child that wasn't "normal." Emotional pain hurts. But it is easy to hide from others with the pasted on smiles and off-hand comments. As time passed we grew to love our Amy just the way God had made her and the pain subsided. 

Then with the passing of many birthdays, physical pain attacks the body. Mine started around age 45 with sciatica nerve pain and for the last 10 years has been one thing or another. I began to think that physical pain was so much worse than emotional. I have peripheral neuropathy and there isn't a "pill" or a treatment that helps, although I have tried a large amount of herbs, drugs, topical lotions, and whatever the next new "thing" was. I also have arthritis in my knees and spine. Before Amy went to the hospital I was in a great deal of pain with my right knee and was taking some physical therapy for it. The therapy was interupted for about 2 months when Amy was sick and after she left us here on this earth. Then I started again in ernest and was hoping to avoid surgery and really worked at getting my strength up. But God has other plans for me. I will be having surgery two weeks from today. The pain has increased and I'm hoping these two weeks will pass quickly as I look forward to the pain being gone. I'm back to using a cane to help me get up and down and steady myself when I am walking. But through this all I have realized that physical pain is so much easier to bear than emothional pain. 

I have had a few dreams about Amy in the last week, and dreams are strange things. In one dream Amy was still alive and I was so upset because we had given all her diapers away and I didn't know what I was going to do. (We ordered special diapers because Amy was so small.)   We had moved Amy's bed a few weeks ago and there was a unused diaper that had gotten caught in the drawers underneath it. I just put it on the dresser and there it sat not knowing what I was going to do with it. Well a few days after the dream  I saw the diaper and remembered my dream and just broke into sobs. It was silly but it hurt so much! If only I had her back, I would willlingly take all the constant care and devotion she needed from us over the emotional pain of not having her with us. In another dream it was life as normal with Amy and then I woke up and realized it was JUST a dream. She wasn't with us anymore.

My kids have been great through all this. My daughter-in -law has been my chauffer for two doctor visits and today my youngest daughter is taking off work to take me to the surgical center for pre-surgical testing. I was disapointed that I couldn't get the surgery sooner, but then I realized that this will give us time to get Amy's room painted and to move our bed downstairs. Everything happens in God's perfect timing. I need to trust Him more.

When we took our van back we signed an agreement that they would keep it for six months and try to sell it for us. We agreed upon a price, but the salesman was not too pleased with it. He wanted us to ask a few thousand less for it. We used Amy's life insurance money to buy our car and we were hoping to replace it with the sale of the van. Many years ago when we got life insurance for Amy, I only wanted to get a small amount. Just enough to cover funeral expenses. But the premiums were the same for a larger amount and so the agent talked us into getting the larger amount. This was helpful in purchasing a vehicle, but we don't want to use Amy's money for ourselves, so that is why we asked a good bit for our van. On Wednesday it sold! Only six days after taking it back to the dealer! We now have the wonderful task of deciding who we want to give Amy's money to! I have contacted a few charities and we have a few of our missionaries in mind also. We are praying that God will direct us to the right ones who need it at this time. 
We left our email and Amy's Story with the van salesman in case the new owners want to get in touch with us. I hope they do. I want to be able to share Amy's life with them and let them know what a blessing the van was to us. The emotional pain of letting go of the van will turn into blessings for others.

God works even through pain. Especially through pain. I need to remember this in the next few weeks as I go through more physical pain and I'm sure emotional too as I continue to experience the roller coaster of grief.

Here is a picture from happier times.
My three youngest at their cousin's wedding.
Oh, how Amy loved parties!