It was hard finding a title for this post. Dreaming is very important in the kingdom of God. He gives us the capacity to dream and imagine. But dreaming our own dreams and letting God give us dreams.. these are two different things. The reason I am writing about this today is because the Lord is dealing with some big issues in me that have to do with dreaming. For most of my life, I have let dreams be a way of escaping pain and suffering. It started in childhood. I was very unhappy with my family and there were many reasons why. I am not going to go into it here, but I needed a way out.. so I dreamed of this perfect life.. a perfect family. One very different from my own.
Unfortunately the path I took to get that perfect life failed. I had relationships with men that were unhealthy and eventually ended up marrying an abusive addict.. but when he passed away.. the dream of a better life was still alive and I married Steve. He was a wonderful man and I had many of the things in my life that I thought were lost forever. If you have been following my blog, then you know that Steve also passed away.. last summer. I lost everything when he got sick and I no longer had that wonderful life that I cherished. It was not a perfect life and for most of our marriage we had financial problems .. there was no real stability.. so I filled my head with dreams of the day when I would get that last piece and live happily every after. Instead Steve became ill with dementia and things became more and more difficult.
Now that he is gone, I am alone and sure enough.. the old dreams came back.. dreaming of another chance to have that life that would be close to perfect.. funny how that could sneak in even at my age! This time, the Lord has stopped me from dreaming.. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t get another chance.. it just means that He is teaching me to be in the pain and suffering without trying to escape through dreaming. He is helping me to live in the present and be content with not knowing what the future holds. I believe that this is how He is teaching me to rely more deeply on Him. My old dreams are gone but He can give me new ones when it is time and more importantly He is enabling me to believe that everything He has prepared for me is going to be better than my dreams.. It is actually very freeing not to be dreaming and to realize that this season is teaching me so much about our Great God.
I have always loved this scripture.. but finally I feel as though I truly understand it
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
As my husband and I talked over dinner this evening I began to get a picture from a recent walk that we took in our neighborhood. We were walking along a trail near a stream and at one point the stream disappeared..it was underground …we walked along wondering if we would see it again. It suddenly reappeared as though nothing had happened..as beautiful and perfect as it was before it became invisible.
As the picture of this stream appeared in my imagination I realized that God has a stream just like the one we saw that day. His stream runs along the path of our lives..it is a flowing stream made up of people, places, and dreams that we encounter as we travel the road of life with Him. We may have a relationship with a person or a vision we believe God has given us..when (for reasons we don’t understand) we no longer see them…
Yes, it is. While we are waiting, God is working deeply in us and preparing us for the next season. If we forget that, we may end up wasting the time wanting the season to be over.
When we wait..we pray and ask God for things that we desire and that is as it should be. We can’t be sure that everything we ask for will happen.. but we can be sure that He has heard. Knowing that this is true brings peace in the waiting if we trust Him to only bring those things that are good for us.
All of the above implies a deep faith and trust in the character of God and His goodness. It requires us to remember that we are not forgotten, that we are not being punished and that His love for us is underlying evrything.
Remembering the important things…I consider it an essential part of the life of a Believer. It is related to reflecting but more intentional.. When I am feeling insecure and fearful there is nothing that helps me more than remembering the goodness of God. We all have history with Him. If we sit down and allow ourselves to look back on all the times He has rescued us.. all the ways He has surprised us.. all the important moments in life when suddenly God was present with us.. in trials and in joyful times. Lately I have been taking the time to remember.. probably because yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the day I met my husband. I often tell the story of how it happened.. people enjoy hearing it and I love telling it. It is a reminder of how God orchestrates things perfectly and how He has a plan…
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I often write about grief and loss. And you probably know that my husband passed last August. He had early onset dementia. My season is tough right now. Steve is gone and I miss him every single day. He was the love of my life and my soul mate. No one can take his place in my heart.
At the end of March it will be 7 months since he went to be with the Lord.. March 30th would have been our 19th anniversary and April 14th would be 20 years since we met.. He will not be here to celebrate those dates with me.. that is incredibly hard.. I wanted to grow old with him.. I am definitely growing old but without him.
The grief is still very fresh but it is different than it was 3 months ago.. I think I have grown used to it. It is less intense but still knocks me to the ground regularly.. I get up a little more easily.. I’ve had a lot of practice now. This blog post was inspired by some reading I have been doing on grief and how best to help grievers. I feel as though most people have no idea what grieving people need and that is not really their fault. We live in a culture that denies loss and death and worships youth. In the midst of that culture people are facing loss and death every day.
What do you think when you hear about the mass murders that just happened in our country? I know.. it is scary and sad and awful. What about the families that lost loved ones? Once the headlines go away.. they are supposed to go back to their ” normal” lives. They will never do that. Life does not go back to normal when there is that type of loss. My life is never going to be normal again.. and neither will yours when you experience the loss of loved ones.
My passion is to educate people on this topic because grief and loss are real. Denial does not wipe them out. What do grievers need? Not advice .. not scripture band aids.. not platitudes.. They need compassion and understanding. They need someone to be with them in their grief.. to listen.. to cry with them.. to talk about the loved one who is missing. They need to know that those around them remember that person and are not afraid to bring up their names or to ask questions. They need others to realize that their reality is totally different now.. When you are grieving you are not the same as you were before the loss and you will continue to change as you grieve.
People do not get over grief.. they learn to live with it. They join a club they never knew existed.. the club is filled with those who have loved and lost. It is real and everyone eventually joins. As for me, my life has been filled with loss. I have been widowed twice and lost many friends and relatives. I have learned to grieve fully so I don’t end up self- medicating because I am stuffing my feelings. As a friend of someone who is grieving.. you can help them heal by being present with them in this process. I want to encourage you to do that. Don’t be afraid of it.. it is not contagious and you are not going to make a mistake. The biggest mistake you can make is to shy away from someone who is hurting.
I am fortunate to have friends and family who are not afraid of my pain. People who understand and listen. God has blessed me in this season. My hope is that I will continue to be there for those people who will face the impossible. I don’t have answers for them.. I can only reach out to say that God is with them and that He loves them and will take care of them.. because He is doing that for me.. each and every day.
It was 11 years ago that I started this blog. In the beginning I really didn’t know what a blog was and I had no idea how to start one or how to keep it going. I was on Facebook and felt frustrated because I wanted to express more of myself than I could there. So.. I started this blog. Throughout the years I often wondered if I should quit.. just leave it up but never add to it. I decided to keep going and to write one more post.. and then another one and then another one.. and here we are today.
Maintaining this blog is like living life.. we take one step and then another and another and here we are. I write because I hope that what I share helps others and that my vulnerability helps people open up to their true feelings and struggles. I don’t get much feedback but that’s OK.. it is something that the Lord has called me to do and I really enjoy the process and the comments:)
My last post was a few weeks ago and I feel like I have been moving forward quite a bit since I posted on February 1st. I am still grieving , of course. It has been almost 6 months since Steve went to be with the Lord.. sometimes it seems like years and sometimes it seems like minutes. The grief comes and it goes. I know it will always be like that but I am learning to live in this season with hope. So many things happened at once for me that I was literally reeling for months.. trying to understand what happened and hoping to get insights into why. Well.. I know what happened.. I lost everything almost at once but I don’t know why. What I do know is that I can survive without any explanations. God is not going to reveal to me the reasons for taking Steve and that makes sense to me now. He is the Lord and He gives and takes away..
My challenge is to keep living and believing that there are purposes for me without him.. not easy. As I spend time alone these days.. the fear is less.. the loneliness is less.. that is a huge gift. I miss sharing my life with Steve.. I won’t get over that.. but I am learning to live with it.. believing that God is the redeemer. So each day I take steps like I did when I started this blog.. one blog post at a time and one step at a time. One day I will look back and realize I made it to 1 year.. then to 5 years and maybe 10 if I am still here. God will carry me into the future even though it looks like a blank slate. He wrote the story of my life and He will unfold it page by page as He has always done. My job is to trust Him and to know that He is good.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
That is the life I am living these days. I live in a room.. like a semi studio attached to a house filled with a family that rents to me. It is my own private space and I am thankful that the Lord brought me here. I was living here 5 months ago when my husband passed on. I have no idea how long I will be here or where I could ever go since I have a very limited income.
So the challenge is to accept what is and to learn how to spend time alone with God on a totally new level. There are very few distractions or responsibilities in this season. It is a huge adjustment. My nature is to want to take care of people and now I just have my cat and myself. Some days we do well.. other days are so hard that all I do is think about everything I lost. My husband, my home, my things, my job .. the beautiful valley I walked in almost every single day.. all gone.
Days that I struggle to not be angry at God and probably almost everyone else.. anger is a part of grieving. Other days I am so sad I have to drag myself out of bed and force myself to eat and exercise. My life feels empty and no place feels like home. I am writing this because I want you to know the context of this post. So I spend lots of time alone. I know God is with me but I am lonely for human contact… missing the hugs and kisses that Steve gave so generously. Does it help when people say but you are not alone.. God is always with you.. No it does not help. Why? Because I am grieving and it is painful and it is a solitary road that no one truly understands. There are moments when I know God is close.. but they are surrounded by many more moments when I think to myself.. what happened to my life? Where am I?
Covid life has not made this any easier. People and places are off limits and here in California many churches are closed, so that dimension of life is also gone. I don’t enjoy watching church.. on Zoom or Facebook live.. it reminds me of a bad TV show. So now I am struggling with my relationship with the church.. feeling disconnected and discouraged.. wondering what it all means. I struggled with church all my life as a Believer and got disillusioned over and over but kept returning. This time is different. As I have prayed about it and wondered what to do.. I get the impression God is saying don’t be afraid to be alone with me and to let that be enough. This doesn’t mean total isolation but it does mean not looking to church for support or meaning in my life.. It means not clinging to something that is gone.. maybe not forever, but at least for now.
I often think about those people who spent time in prison or heroes like Corrie Ten Boom who was in a concentration camp. There are many examples of people who are models of what it is to be a person of great faith. They suffered alone with God and He was enough. Let that be my story Lord in these dark times.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
The title of this post is drawn from a picture that I saw in my head about grief. Of course it is related to Alice In Wonderland. After googling rabbit hole and grief I came across a movie made in 2010 called “Rabbit Hole”. I never saw the movie but I know it is about a couple who lose a child and the grief they experienced after the loss.. it sounds almost too sad for me right now.
The reason for rabbit hole is that after Alice fell down the hole, she was in a different world and that is the experience of grief. When you lose someone close to you, your world totally changes and it is surreal. People you know go about their business as though nothing has happened. I almost want to stop them and say ” don’t you realize everything is different now?”. Then I remember it is not for them.. only for me. I am in a world that I don’t recognize because my husband is with the Lord now. At the same time, the world itself turned upside down several times.. last March and actually yesterday was a day like none other.
Back to the world of grief.. I often wake up and wonder where I am.. I moved 3 times in just a little over a year and most of the things I looked at and used for 18 years are gone.. I have days when I wonder if I could find them all.. a strange thought since many of them are in Idaho and lots of things are here in different homes of friends and family and some went to strangers through the Goodwill store.. My world turned upside down three times and then Steve passed 4 months ago and my life disappeared.. the life where I spent every day for years looking out for him and taking care of him .
So I have fallen into the rabbit hole and I continually find myself wondering where I am.. It is easy during a grieving season like this to feel lost or crazy .. or just totally different from other people. All of these things are true.. except that I am not crazy.. I am grieving deeply and fully.. Trying to make sense of a world that makes no sense.. trying to feel at home.. when home to me was my husband.. anywhere he was.. that felt like home.
Covid could be making your feel like you fell down that same hole. Maybe you are grieving things that are no longer possible.. For some of us, yesterday was a trigger too.. what happened to the country we grew up in? Is everything out of control? A very challenging time to be alive.. in so many ways. So.. you are not crazy if you feel scared or depressed or disoriented right now.. You are just a human trying to cope with a very broken world where loss is a big part of life.. You will land on your feel and so will I. Our God will come for us in the middle of the mess and rescue us from the heartbreak we may be feeling now. He is for us and with us.
He has prepared a place for us… better than our wildest dreams.
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The very beginning of 2021 is finally here. We are still in the first week.. before you know it we will be well into 2021 and it will no longer be a new year.. it doesn’t take long to get used to things. New things become old in a very short amount of time. I started out this year with a bang..literally. I was out walking with a friend and ended up tripping on an uneven sidewalk and before I knew it my forehead was bleeding everywhere and my friend and landlords were all trying to help me .. I was surrounded by very caring people. Late into the afternoon I went to the ER.. got stitches, x-rays and a tetanus shot. I am currently struggling with bruising, scrapes and muscle pain.
The good news is I did not break anything ..no bones.. teeth or glasses. I am so grateful it was not worse. So here I am wondering how to look at this fall. Will 2021 be a terrible year? I hope not.. I’ve decided to look for the deeper reason for this fall. I always look for meaning and for God’s purposes.. I don’t always find them but I always search. It is easy to see that He is slowing me down.. giving me a reason to stay home and rest and reflect. In the last few days I realized the need for that rest.. not just because I hurt everywhere but because I have been running non stop since my husband started showing signs of dementia. In the skilled nursing the people always say that it is a marathon not a sprint. Dementia can last many years and unfold day after day.. at whatever pace it chooses.
I recently realized that Steve showed some major signs early one that I did not recognize. The earliest sign was probably 7 years ago.. the more obvious changes began 4 to 5 years ago. So I ran the race with him all that time until 4 months ago and in reality I have not been eager to slow down and remember all that has happened. One thing I do know is that I need to do that.. to grieve fully.. I need to remember and reflect.. to really look at my story and to realize how much I have been through. So I am doing that.. writing this is part of my therapy. I will also be working with a Hospice Grief Counselor to get the support I need. This will enable the past to go into the past and bring me to a greater level of acceptance.
God..the healer wants my attention and He has it. I am learning to receive help.. I am allowing myself time to be here now and break the habit of always trying to move ahead ..My future is a blank slate and I know from the other time I was widowed that the Lord has brought me to that place so He can lead me at His pace and I can rest in His sovereignty.
As for you.. my hope is that you did not start 2021 in such a dramatic way but that you too will take the time to reflect on all the losses and disappointments we all faced in 2020. There may be more in 2021, but we will handle those better if we take the time to realize what has happened and let the Lord comfort us and heal us.
Our God is faithful in all things.. at all times.. He never changes and we can trust Him in all circumstances.
Every year around this time the Lord gives me a word to focus on. A word to take into the New Year. This year it was very obvious that the word is HOPE. I know you need this word too. 2020 has been a year of great losses We have been surrounded by a deep sorrow that surrounds us as we get up, during our days and at night. The world turned upside down in March, and shows no sign of returning to what it was before the pandemic.
What is going to happen next year in 2021? No one knows. One thing we do know is that our hope cannot be in the new year. At the end of December, even before Christmas we start focusing on next year and of course that temptation is even greater when everyone wants this year to end. It will. The day that it ends is December 31st.. that also happens to be my birthday. Every year as the year ends.. my personal year ends. How much do I want to believe things will be better next year? How much do I wish this new year would be easier than 2020 when we had a worldwide pandemic, and I lost my sweet husband to dementia?
That’s right I want to dream of better days.. that somehow the pain will lessen and I will find a new purpose in life. Nothing wrong with that, except it is not the answer. The answer is to be found in this season we are celebrating right now. God came into the world when it needed Him the most and brought us hope. It is a hope that we have right now . Jesus is our hope and He is with us in this mess and in whatever new challenges we will face next year. As we approach Christmas it is an opportunity to remember what He has done for us, and to be thankful that we are not alone in a broken world. We have His promises that lift us above our circumstances and we have the hope of eternity with Him.. where there will be no more tears or sorrow.
We have so much to celebrate as we think about Him and how He has saved us and will always take care of us and provide everything we need as we trust Him. So.. in the sorrow, I am going to rejoice in His goodness. i am going to look ahead.. not with faith in 2021, but with faith in our GREAT GOD.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”