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?
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"

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Almost every summer since I can remember, we have taken a vacation. Daddy was a hard working farmer, but he loved to travel and spend time with his family so we would try to go somewhere each summer. Sometimes it was to visit family in other states or travel to interesting sights within our own state.  The first vacation I can remember was to the Black Hills in South Dakota when I was 4. We stayed in a little camper and I loved it. The summer I turned 18 I was working in the concessions at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. I had just graduated from high school and was living in a dorm with other girls working there and that was the summer I met my future husband, Bill.
 When Bill and I got married we were too poor to travel much. Our first family vacation was when Amy was about 3 and we took a long weekend and went to Niagara Falls. I'll never forget the raincoats that Tessa and Amy had to wear to go 'under' the waterfalls. Amy's almost touched the ground and the sleeves were rolled up so many times her arms stuck out!  Then when Emily was 2 we went to Chincoteague Island in Virginia and we started taking vacations every year after that. Even though we had to save those dollars and sometimes do without the rest of the year we always 'got away' for awhile and Amy was always included. She was very small and easy to carry and we were young and full of energy ourselves. As the years passed it got harder. We took most of our vacations in September as we homeschooled and the crowds weren't as heavy then. Too soon Tessa went to college and we had one less on our family vacations. Then Emily left and then James. Our last 'vacation' as a complete family was to James' wedding in Montana. Although we all made our way there separately we stayed in a rental house for a few days together. 
On that trip Bill, Amy, and I started a new chapter in our lives as we journeyed out there together.  We took a few more vacations together, just the three of us. We visited Emily in South Carolina when she was in college, a wedding in South Dakota, my sister and her family in Maine, and then Amy died........
Last week Bill and I rented a yurt at a local state park for 3 nights. Bill, Emily and I stayed overnight and the rest of the family joined as much as work allowed them to. We were close enough for them to go home to sleep, making it easier for the little ones. We had extended family come one day and  dear "like family" friends visit two other days. Our last night there it was just us, Bill and I and our children and their children. But I felt like something was missing. Someone. We were a complete family, but one of my children was not there. It just didn't feel right. James brought his guitar and we sat around the campfire and sang. The little ones started bouncing and dancing to the music and my heart broke......
I was overcome with grief of missing my dear sweet precious Amy. She would have loved to be there with us. My oldest tried to comfort me and tell me she was there. But I couldn't see her or hold her. I miss her so much.....
Whether James planned to sing the song, "I am Free" or if it was just the next one in his book, I don't know. But I do know that God had it planned. This was one of the songs that was sung at Amy's funeral. The Associate Pastor, Laura and I sang it.

"I Am Free"
Through You the blind will see
Through You the mute will sing
Through You the dead will rise
Through You all hearts will praise
Through You the darkness flees
Through You my heart screams
I am free
Yes, I am free


Through You the kingdom comes
Through You the battle's won
Through You I'm not afraid
Through You the price is paid
Through You there's victory
Because of You my heart sings
I am free
Yes, I am free


Amy is free because of the You in this song, she can run and dance and sing. The You is Jesus. He has taken away her limitations of this earth and has truly set her free. I looked around at my husband, my three children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and my three sweet grandchildren. How could I not feel blessed? And because of Jesus, our family will be complete again.
Beautiful views of the lake and mountains.

Looking up through the ceiling in the yurt.

No running water, but microwave, stove top, and full size fridge.
Room enough for six at the table, but we always ate outside.

A double bunk on the bottom and single on the top
Single bunk beds

We had a huge area for the kids to play.

Our Yurt.
In a little over a week, Bill and I will be taking our own vacation. To the first place I can remember that was 'vacation' to me, where 40 years ago this summer Bill and I met and fell in love. The Black Hills of South Dakota.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

God's Whispers

"When He Who was, Who is, and Who is to come sees each one of us, He sees who we were, who we are, and who we will become."  from Mercy Triumphs, a study of James by Beth Moore

Today is my 58th birthday.
I have been thinking a lot the past weeks on being a parent and losing a child and being a child and losing a parent and just parenting in general.

I have heard it said that when you lose a child you lose your future and when you lose a parent you lose your past. There have been many times I have wanted to ask Daddy something about his past and then I realize that the opportunity to learn anything else about his life is gone. I have my memories but I have no way to access his anymore. He didn't write much down once he married and started a family. That is why I treasure my copy of his journal from his time in Poland when he was 16 and my copies of the letters that he wrote home to his parents from the war in Korea when he was in his early 20's.  I have very few letters I kept from him over the years, because I'm not a keeper of "things".  I guess I never thought I would miss his words because I thought I would always have him.
When I "lost" Amy I didn't feel like I lost my future. Amy would never have gone to college, left home, married, or given me grandchildren. Amy was my present. I lost my present way of life when I lost Amy. And for quite a long time after she died I was lost also.

C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pain." If it wasn't for God shouting at me, I think I would have stayed lost. Recently I have felt His whispers.

We were given Amy's burial plot by Bill's cousins when she died. We were so thankful for it as it is right beside Bill's parent's grave. Daddy had all his funeral and burial plans done ahead of time. He even had the tombstone in the ground. Ever since Daddy died I have wanted to make sure we can get plots in the same cemetery and if possible the empty spot beside Amy. I know it doesn't matter where ones body is put in the ground. But, oh, how it seems important to me to rest beside my daughter until we are raised for all eternity!  A few weeks ago we got a letter in the mail from Bill's cousin telling us that the lot that was given to us to bury Amy contained 4 burial plots! I felt God's whisper, "I care about the little things that are important to you."

I have been watching Marissa Amy for a year now. Anywhere from 2 to 4 days a week (about 8 hours a day) depending on her Mommy's busy schedule. She has grown from a smiley 3 month old to a very energetic, babbling, laughing 15 month old! Around the first of the year I was determined to get Mari to sleep on her own in the crib. I was rocking her to sleep and then holding her while she slept as she would always wake up when I put her down. After a week of failed attempts and many tears (mine and hers), I heard God whisper, "Just hold her, lay down with her, take a nap yourself." So I did and have continued to do so. Just the last few weeks, I have started to lay her on the bed beside me instead of holding her. The first time I did this I couldn't keep the tears in as I realized this is what I would do with Amy and in the very same room that Daddy had built for her 15 years ago. (It is now our bedroom.) I would cuddle up beside Amy in her bed and talk to her, read, just watch her sleep and  sometimes fall asleep myself. Another of God's whispers, "I'm restoring some of what you miss most."

I always rock Mari to sleep and sing to her. We start off with "Jesus Loves Me" but I change the words to "Jesus loves Mari for the Bible tells Grandma so". Then I usually sing "Trust and Obey" always a good song for little ones to learn. If she's not asleep yet I move on to other old hymns. I grew up singing hymns and the church we have attended since we have been married didn't start singing worship songs until abou  t 12-15 years ago. So my mind turns to hymns as I rock her because that is what I sang my babies to sleep with. Lately I have been singing  "In The Garden." Last Sunday Tessa played it for offertory, not even knowing that I have been singing it to her daughter almost every day! Another whisper from God, "There are no coincidences. You are my own child."

That same Sunday, Mari wore a dress I made for Amy.

I made this for Amy when she was three on her first day of preschool.
Tessa likes to wear Mari's dresses longer than I did for Amy.

God has given me such a gift in caring for Mari. Even though I get tired at times, He gives me strength and He knew I would need this little one to take care of.

Being a grandma is so much different than being a mom.
My youngest, James, gave me my first grandchild almost 2 years ago. He and his wife are still in their 20's.
My oldest daughter, Tessa, had Mari when she was 35 years old. 
I had all my babies in the 1980's so when I was 35 years old Contessa was 13, Amy was 11, Emily was 7 and James was 4.
There are many different ways to parent and raise a child and I have been realizing that my ways might have been right for me at that time but they are not the only way!

Again God whispers, "Enjoy this time, love on those sweet babies, they will not be babies forever!"

Here are the words to "In the Garden." As I reflect on them it has a new meaning for me more than it did in the past. My 'garden' is the time I spend in studying God's Word. I am presently in the middle of a study on the book of James. God is whispering new things to me each passing day.

In The Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Verse 2
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me,

Within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

Verse 3
I'd stay in the garden with Him,
Tho' the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go, thro' the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

Here are some recent pictures of my family.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

More Goodbyes-for a little while

On the third anniversary of Amy's death, April 8, we again released balloons at the cemetery. It was a cold day and so the new little one was left in the warm car. The ten balloons sailed high into the air and as I watched them go I couldn't help but feel blessed.  Marissa Amy was represented with a balloon last year, but she hadn't made her appearance yet into this world and we didn't know that she was to be named after her Aunt Amy. How special that is. Now we have another new one, Micah James. Three grandbabies in the three years since Amy has been gone. They keep me busy and fill my days with joy and memories and sometimes tears.

We celebrated Marissa's first birthday the next day. She is such a little princess, but yet loves to get dirty by helping me in the garden, taking handfuls of dirt from one bucket to another, and loves to stand under the spray of the hose when I water the plants.

In early May I was able to fly to Maine and visit my Mama for 6 days over Mothers Day. It was so good to see her and to see how she has settled into her new home with my sister. It was odd to see the furniture that has forever been in my mind on the farm in Iowa in a new home. I was able to help her sort through her clothes, unpack some boxes, hang up curtains in her bedroom and plant some flowers outside. I planted some pansies in a pot and a lilac bush under her window to remind her of the lilac bushes we had on the farm. I wish I could have done more, but time didn't allow it. We took a drive on Saturday and Sunday and saw some of the beautiful Maine landscape. Mama told me a few times, "I don't think I will ever see you again." I tried to encourage her and tell her I would visit again in the fall. Saying goodbye was very, very hard.
Deer Isle (I think)

Taking a picture of Mama, taking a picture of a seagull

Mama and me, the morning I left

Our pastor and his wife retired the end of May.  Pastor Floyd baptized James when he was 6 years old. He baptized Amy just a few months before she passed away. He had been her Sunday School teacher at one time and he told me that was one of his dearest memories. It was difficult to say goodbye to someone who has been a spiritual leader to me for so many years. We have a new pastor now. He and his wife are very sweet. But they didn't know Amy. How can I ever tell them how much she was and still is a part of my life?

Last week I was in WalMart and I saw a little boy in a shopping cart with his mom. He was sitting in the front seat but looked to be about 6 or 7 with such long legs  that I didn't know how the Mom was able to get him in the cart. He was playing with two plastic animals and he clearly had special needs. I stood for a few seconds, just looking at him and then quickly went around the corner before his mom saw that I was staring. I stood in the next aisle wondering if I should go back and talk to her. I just wanted to give him a hug. That's all. I just wanted to hug him. But I didn't. I didn't know them. The tears were already starting to fall.

Today in church we sat behind a young man with Down Syndrome. I have known him since birth. I had a hard time keeping the tears in and then our assistant pastor shared that he had lost a member of the first youth group he pastored. He was a young man in his twenties with special needs. He told how he would sing for the Lord with his whole heart. He talked about heaven and how he was singing up there. The tears fell again.
I'm not sure everyone can understand my grief. Last week we attended a party of a young man graduating from high school. His father was telling us of his adoption story. How they searched and searched for a "perfect" baby. I wish I had the courage to tell him what a blessing they missed by not adopting a special needs child! Yes, Amy was a lifetime commitment, and a lot of physical work, but she was a piece of heaven living with us. I miss the pure innocence and joy that she showed me every day of her life. I miss how she showed Jesus to me. I miss her so much.

Missing Amy also brings me to missing my Daddy.
So many times these past few months he has come to my mind and I want to talk to him. I see farmers here out in the fields and I want to call Daddy and ask him if the planting has started, if the corn is coming up, how tall is it now, do you have enough rain, too much? The list goes on and on in my mind. Every time I called I would ask about the crops. Once a farmer, always a farmer, even retired. But there is no one left in Iowa to call anymore. Soon the farm will be sold. Only a memory will be left to me.

Last year at this time I was with my parents. Emily and I had the privilege of celebrating Daddy's 85th birthday on the 18th of June.
We were able to surprise him with a cake and candles.

On his birthday, 39 years ago this Saturday, Bill and I were married. Daddy and I have shared a special day together for all those years. Sometimes I would remember to call first and wish him happy birthday or sometimes he would call first and wish me a happy anniversary. 

I am so very thankful that I had this special time to spend with Daddy last year.  I didn't know it would be the last time I would be able to see him without the effects of drugs and pain. I didn't know it would be the last birthday. The last special day we would share together.

Heaven is so much more real to me now. I do not fear death. I look forward to it.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says,
 "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Micah James

Micah James Greenawalt was born two weeks ago today on March 23 at 9:58 a.m. He was a big boy. He weighed 9 pounds and 7 ounces and he was19 1/2 inches long.

Micah with Grandma

Will loves his little brother.
First time to hold his brother.

My baby boy now has two boys of his own.  Laura had a quick and uncomplicated labor and delivery. She is a good mama and little Micah is doing well.

First family photo just a few hours after birth.

God has blessed us so very much by giving us three little ones who fill our days with joy.

All three ready for bed after a busy Easter Sunday.
Amy would have loved to hold her new nephew but she is in heaven with my Daddy and sister and the Lord. How do we know but that she didn't hold him and see him before he made his appearance here on earth? Some things we won't know until we join her in heaven also.  When I have times of grief, I have to remember that God has a plan for my life, as He had for Amy's life. My life is still continuing on this earth. He has a purpose for me and work for me to do yet. I pray that I will be faithful to do what He wants me to do.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Oh, to not even smell like smoke!

It's been awhile since I have shared my heart with whomever happens to read this blog. 

Not much has happened since I last wrote, but God has been teaching me so much.  

My husband and I spent a few days in Iowa over Christmas saying goodbye to my childhood home and memories. We packed up Daddy's office books, papers, memorabilia and pictures from the walls and then I folded all his clothes and put them in boxes, too. We also helped pack some of the household stuff for Mama. A week after we left the movers came, packed up the rest of the house and she moved 1700 miles away to live with my sister. It was a difficult Christmas but I have never felt the love of God and the prayers of others like I did that week. Even though my heart was breaking, I knew God was holding me in His arms. He taught me that things are not important. Just as I have Daddy's memories and love in my heart I also have God's love and nothing of material value on this earth can ever replace that. As I was going through his books, I found a Bible study book he had done. The last few pages he was to write down his servant profile. Under passion he had written "handicapped." I was confused as to what he meant and thankfully in parenthesis it said to refer to an earlier page. On that page he had written, "I have a passion for the handicapped. My granddaughter, a neighbor, and those in the hospital." I burst into tears. Daddy and Amy always had a special bond, but to see that in his own handwriting was so precious to me. 

The end of January I started a weekly women's Bible study here at my house. We are studying the life of Daniel with videos from Beth Moore.  It is good to get together with other ladies and know we are all studying God's Word together. She has taught us that our present day is much like the Babylonian world that Daniel lived in. She challenges us to stand up for God's truth like Daniel and his friends did. Although we are only half way through the study, the most important lesson to me so far was the one of the fiery furnace. Daniel's three friends always had Daniel as their rock. When the time came for the three to bow down and worship an idol, Daniel wasn't with them. They chose on their own to disobey the kings command, to honor God, and not bow down. They were then thrown into a furnace. You can read it from the Bible HERE.
I realized that Amy was my Daniel. She kept me pointed toward God. She radiated God's love just by being alive and after she died I was a little lost without her. I didn't have my daily visual aid of God's love.  God also taught me through this study that every time I go through a trial there is always another one in the fire with me. Jesus is with me no matter what trial He leads me to and through.

Amy's 34th birthday was last week. Bill and I went away for four days over her birthday. We enjoyed some beautiful spring weather, visited with Bill's sister and her son, wife, and four darling children. We were able to see the Brethren Service Center where Daddy stayed when he was 16 before he shipped out to Poland with relief horses after WW2. We saw some Civil War battlefields and hiked to the top of a small mountain. A butterfly fluttered ahead of us as we hiked. We talked. We remembered Amy. 
Bill with his sister, nephew and niece
The building Daddy would have stayed in before he left for Poland.

View from Sugarloaf

Now we are waiting for the birth of our third grandchild. He is to come any day. My next post will have his picture and his name!

I'll end with these verses from Daniel 3.
Verses 17 & 18, "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” and I really like verse 27," And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them."
They had walked around inside a burning furnace, their bonds had been burned off from them but they themselves or even their clothes had not been burned! They didn't even smell like fire! 
That is my desire. That even though I go through fiery trials, I don't even want to smell of smoke. Only of Jesus~ only Jesus!