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The Veil

I woke up thinking about this journey and how hard it is.. my usual morning thoughts. I knew Steve was going to die and I tried to prepare myself for the day when I would lose him. Of course that is impossible. We cannot be prepared for the death of someone we love no matter how hard we may try.. once they are gone the waves of grief sweep over us and we can only hang on and wait for the next one.

He is gone..yes I know where he is.. but that does not always help. I thought of the wall that divides us from our loved ones once they move out of this world. It is so hard.. we know they are there, but we cannot see over that wall or climb over it or see through it.. It feels like they are within our reach but that wall stands in the way..

I try to talk with him and tell him things.. wondering if he can hear me .. trying desperately to imagine that he is able to know what is happening to me. My heart aches to hear his voice and at times I hear it in my head.. telling me not to worry or be fearful.. reminding me that I can continue without him.. it helps and it doesn’t. I want to tear down that veil and run into his arms.. to tell him that I love him and that I miss him.. my heart breaks into a million pieces.. I gather them up and keep going.

This is grief my friends.. it is real and it is hard and we were never created to be able to endure it alone. I am so thankful for my friends and family .. for those who support me and help me keep his memory alive. I am most thankful for the Lord.. the God who carries me through each day.. even the days when I tell Him I hate Him and all He does is wait patiently so He can love me again.. He picks me up off the floor and tells me to rest.. to let him restore me.. to let Him bring healing to me in the midst of the darkness.. He is with me and for me and I know this.. I can run from Him but there is no where to go.. I try to blame Him but I know that this death is a result of our broken world and not punishment from Him.. He is good.

He has Steve now ..He loved him so much that He rescued him .. he is reunited with those who went before him.. released from the suffering and the pain.. safely home.

“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.”

Grieving and living

It has been five weeks since Steve went to be with the Lord and I miss him every single day. Part of me wants him back but another part knows that he is better off where he is and I need to try to begin again. It is very difficult. there are constant reminders of our life together and the continuing empty places I stumble across that can only be filled with his presence.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.. I have so much time alone that I can’t run from my thoughts and feelings.. a mixed blessing.. How do I grieve and still live? A big question when you lose your spouse, best friend and your biggest fan. I don’t know the answer since I am learning how to do this every single day.

There are very sad moments and lonely days. There are difficult nights and early mornings that seem endless. My mind entertains way too many thoughts about the future.. everyone tells me to stay in the present.. that is very hard when the present is so far from what I wish it was.. yet I see the wisdom in that advice.. I also know I need to believe that the future is going to be better than the present..

I had a conversation with someone who seemed to want to convince me that a better future might never come.. that some things never change.. that we need to be prepared to accept the present even if we are unhappy and longing for something more. That conversation was very hard.. it seemed to undermine everything I believe about God.

The God I know is always doing a new thing. He is a God filled with love for His children. He puts desires in our hearts because He wants us to ask for things and then believe that He will come through and answer us. He is the redeemer. He takes what is meant for evil and turns it into something good. His ways are not our ways. He is always for us.. ahead of us, preparing the way for us. This is the God of Romans 8:28.. He takes all things and uses them for good in our lives.. ALL THINGs.. He will do much more than we could ever ask or imagine and we will see His goodness in the land of the living.

He rescues us.. searches for us.. pursues us. His heart is for us and His plans for us are for our good and He will never harm us. My life is proof of this. God is not in a box that we create.. He has more for us than living in our own small sad stories.. There is a larger story and He is the hero of that story.. coming to save and restore us over and over again.

So.. yes I am grieving and sad and lonely.. but God is with me and for me and will surprise me with things that I can’t even dream about right now. He has collected all my tears and He weeps with me.. I trust Him fully and will continue to believe that He is in this season with me and that He will deliver me when it is time.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

( Ephesians 3: 16-20)

Sweet Sorrow

 

It has been a week since my wonderful husband fell into the arms of Jesus. I miss him every minute of every day but I am so thankful the struggle and suffering are over. This grief that surrounds me now is a sweet sorrow. We had a very good marriage and I never doubted for a minute that the Lord put us together. He was the first person to show me the unconditional love that I needed to experience to truly understand the Father’s love and be able to receive it. What a gift. I always think of him as the balm of Gilead on all the wounds I received before I met him.

Steve was a man of few words, but when he spoke.. he said something worth saying. I learned what the phrase ” action speaks louder than words” really means from this man. He loved me deeply and showered me with that love even when I knew I did not deserve it. I adored him and thankfully because I was widowed 21 years ago, I never let him forget that I loved him and checked in regularly to make sure he knew it. It is too late once someone is gone ..

When Steve began to get sick the first thing to go was language.. the one thing that he struggled with all his life. As time went on the dementia slowly progressed and robbed him of everything until at the end he was bedridden and unable to do anything for himself. It is a ruthless disease. He went into the hospital in early Sept of 2019 and then a month later was admitted to skilled nursing.

This last year was  so challenging for both of us , but in the midst of it I saw God move over and over on our behalf. He was placed in the best skilled nursing in the county.. close to where I lived with the most caring people you could ever hope to meet. I went to see him every day for months until Covid struck our country. I  continually prayed that he would know me .. many people don’t remember their loved ones. As long as he was able to communicate at all. I would tell him I loved him and he would tell me he loved me. He never forgot me and was always glad to see me even when he became very disabled. Many believers came through this life as his journey progressed. I was locked out of the facility for 2 months and suddenly with no real explanation they let me back in.. I was the only person I knew in Marin who was able to visit someone in skilled nursing.

I spent as much time as I could over the last 4 months just being with him.. playing music.. praying and reading to him. It was a privilege to be in there and to walk with him to the end. I had Hospice support for 6 months,, but because of Covid they were locked out.. three wonderful workers talked with me each week on the phone and helped me survive.. it was a lonely road.. The grief of the last year was complicated.. I wanted it to end so he would not suffer… but wanted him to live as long as possible.. the only thing I could do was pray and tell the Lord that it was up to Him and not me.. and that I would give to Steve until he was released from this world and went to be with the Lord. He died peacefully and I had a vision of the angels coming for him  the morning he passed on.. God has provided for me in every way during this trial and continues to provide each and every day as I lean on Him for strength and courage to continue.

Thank you for reading my story and I pray that the Lord uses this to build your faith and helps you as your trust Him.

Life on the other side of the wall

 

 

I know.. that title is a bit strange. It is a description of my life for the last 8 months. When I moved out of my condo last September and moved in with my daughter’s family there was a lot of life in that home.. on the other side of my wall. In my room there wasn’t much. Then I moved again 3 months later and there was a lot of life in my friends’ home and once again there wasn’t much life in my room. I had to move again. Here I am living on the other side of the wall and there is a wonderful family that rents this in law unit .. living fully each day. In every situation I have experienced being on the outside of life. The life I once knew is gone.. Steve is living in a facility and will never come out. As for me.. only the Lord knows if I will ever really feel like I am living again.

Before this last move I was sure I would not have to live in a situation where I could hear a family but not really be a part of it. Apparently that was my desire but not what God had in mind. He brought me here ..where once again.. I am an outsider.. living alone in my own room.

What is this all about? I am not totally sure .. I do have memories of my childhood that may be connected. My parents were very close and growing up I often felt like an outsider in my own family. My sister wormed her way into their united front by becoming the child with all the problems.. I continued to be on the outside as life unfolded on the other side of the wall.. Could the Lord be doing some healing in me? I hope so. I am tired of feeling that I am an outsider.. someone who doesn’t fit in.. who is not included. Now.. I am wondering.. is there a root issue that needs to be dealt with in my life?

One thing that I do know about God is that He often puts us in the very circumstances that will cause our old stuff to rise to the surface. Why? To torture us? No .. to show us that we need to let go of the old stuff to give it to HIm and ask Him to heal us in the broken places. To tell you the truth I just realized that I had this issue as I started writing this post. I want the healing but it is not easy.. the old feelings are working their way to the surface.. When we bury old feelings they don’t die, they are buried alive and they will be triggered by our current circumstances… it is a tool that God uses to bring freedom. He wants to pull off the band aids and heal the wounds. He wants to pull out the arrows in our heart that have been there all our lives.

I love being part of that process in other people’s lives.. probably why I became a counselor.. Right now I am in need of healing and He is at work in these very circumstances.. getting my attention.. revealing the old hurts and pain that I have kept hidden from myself all these years.. So here I am in my room..just like I was as a teenager.. hearing the life.. on the other side of the wall.. only this time when I come out of my room I won’t be an outsider I will know that I am complete in Him. He is the healer and His purposes will be fulfilled in my life and in yours. Are you in your room right now? After all we are being told to stay inside in our rooms.. an interesting time to check in with the Lord and ask Him what wounds He may want to heal that you have carried inside your heart all these years.

Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.. Psalm 30:2

 

Isolation

Yes..that word is powerful..the things that happen in that space are deep and profound. For the last several years the Lord has been working through a lot of isolation..at first when I began to experience it..I was frustrated and bored..wanting more contact with people..more activities..more life..

Strangely it seemed impossible to have a “real” life if I felt alone and isolated..As things have unfolded the isolation has become much more normal..but incredibly difficult. The last 6 months have been a major challenge..my life with Steve is gone and I am in my 3rd living situation where there is a family on the other side of the walls..Does that make the isolation worse? Of course..and now I can’t go see people at all..unless we talk from a distance and we are supposed to restrict our driving to essential things..my emotional health is not great..I am grieving the loss of my husband (he is still alive but in skilled nursing) the loss of our life together..our home..all the things we collected over the years..my work..the death of so many dreams.

Things are hard..but I still have my health and I still have hope..Hope in the Lord and His goodness. The time alone is hard but needed..grieving takes time..it requires all of our strength and energy..it refuses to wait..demanding our attention..it has no timeline..no deadline. Grieving is hard work..if we ignore our grief it will not go away..it just hides inside of us and one day it will emerge and try to destroy us.

Yet grief is not our enemy..if is ordained by God to bring healing and restoration..He works in these seasons of loss and grief..unearthing old grief that we forgot we had. He takes our hand and walks us through the pain so we can begin to heal..He reveals His love to us in our helplessness..we turn to Him because there is no place else to go.

Right now the entire world is grieving ..many of us are grieving on all kinds of levels..people are losing loved ones..jobs..friends..money..we have lost our freedom to go places and do things. Make time to sit with your grief to feel all your feelings..even the ones you wish were gone..be real with yourself and others.

Lord we trust you in the middle of all this ..we believe you are at work and that you are good.

 

Almost 18 Years

Next Monday is March 30th.. it is our 18th anniversary. I probably will not get in to the skilled nursing facility because of the ” shelter in place” rule.  It is sad but when I finally get to see Steve again I just know it will be a celebration. Since hospice became  involved in our lives.. things are better than they were. Steve is holding his own and in some ways improved because of the extra layer of help. I am doing better because I have other people who are monitoring his situation and will step in if he needs it. I actually did not realize that hospice can extend the life of people because they provide comfort care and extra attention which enables the patient to feel more love and less stress.

As I have been sheltering.. I feel like I am seeing new things in our situation. God’s timing has been miraculous. 7 months ago there was a big change that forced me into the situation where I had to put Steve in the hospital and then the skilled nursing. Just last month hospice became a part of our journey. The Lord knew what we would need at this stage. He knew this pandemic was coming and exactly when and where it would hit. He know that Steve was vulnerable and that I would not be able to visit him every day .. so last month he enabled hospice to come in and do the things I was doing.. He also knew that I would eventually need to find a place by myself.

I stayed with my daughter and family for 3 months and with old friends for 3 months..the second place is only 5 minutes from Steve’s . Now that he is being watched and cared for by hospice.. the Lord has provided a new place.. my own small place back in my hometown.. close to my daughter and only a few freeway exits away from Steve.. it seems to be just what I need.. and want. So here I am having plenty of time to sort through things and prepare for this move since I can’t really go anywhere.. sounds like God’s plan for sure.

So on our 18th anniversary I will be moving into my new place and hopefully, God willing, it will not be too long before I can visit my husband again.. God is directing our steps and taking care of both of us separately just as He did when we were together.. I am so very grateful.

I hope you are surviving this season without feeling too isolated or lonely and that you are having the time to see God at work in your circumstances.. God is still God.. He is still in control and you can still trust Him. He is Good .. so very Good!

I am reminded of this story in Matthew.. this is from the Message:

The Wind Ran Out of Breath

 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Let’s decide to be in absolute awe of Him as we sail through the storm that is upon us..Our great God!

Update on my life

Steve’s last trip to the beach .. last July.. the love of my life…

It  has been quite a while since I posted here.. I had some internet challenges and had to move for the second time in five months.. life is very hard for me and all I can do is try to live fully while the storm rages.. I feel like one of the disciples when they were in the boat with Jesus.. ” are you going to sleep and let me drown Lord?”.. at the same time I trust that He is at work and will continue to give me reasons to be here. My husband’s dementia is progressing and he is declining.. I see him every day and eat lunch with him .. feeding him yogurt and ice cream.. he loves both. Today I played music for him.. worship and a couple old hymns..he perked up and I know he remembered them.. we or rather I talked about Jesus reminding him and me that He is with us.

I was going through my old emails and I found one he wrote three and a half years ago.. it may have been the last one.. He was reminding me that the Lord was with us and He would take us all the way together.. exactly what is happening. Almost like he knew I would need that right now. God is in this and God has us and He is with us.. the pain is unbearable but we still have the love that the Lord has given us. This disease cannot separate us and eventually when He goes to be with the Lord.. I know that our love will survive into eternity.

For anyone who is suffering and in great pain .. I understand your journey and I only wish I could pray over you in person…

Lord, we are in a broken world and there is devastation everywhere. You are our sanctuary and our refuge in this dark place. We put our hope in you and trust you even as we struggle to believe.. strengthen us and encourage us and give us signs of your presence.. You will never fail us and we love you and will follow you as you lead us..Amen

 

 

 

 

 

Two suicides.. one week

 

What happened this week? Two celebrities that many people admired and believed in are gone. Both of them took their own lives and left behind young daughters. It is profoundly sad and tragic. As I think through this horrible loss, I realize once again how little we know about people and the pain they carry inside. These people did not just decide in one day to take their own lives.. there is history here. More than likely they were struggling with depression and despair for years before this happened. Anxiety and depression are at epidemic proportions in our country and possibly around the world. We live in a broken world and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and under water emotionally. When someone in the public eye decides to take their own life.. it causes widespread grief to spread throughout the culture and the world. Why? We never saw it coming.. they seemed to be doing so well. Yet we are faced with a different reality.. obviously they were not doing well at all and maybe someone should have seen it coming.

So we have to process this loss and hopefully we will take it seriously by realizing that many people are struggling with the desire to end their own lives. The suicide rate has risen 25% in the US since 1999. That statistic tells us that something is terribly wrong. For many of us.. life is nothing like we hoped it would be.. either our dreams are not coming true or they have come true and we still feel empty. Either way this world does not seem to have much to offer us. We need more than the fulfillment of our desires to hang on to..we need someone to turn to when it gets so bad we cannot see a way out.  Without faith.. we are totally lost. We were never meant to do all this alone. I remember knowing this when I was a child growing up in an atheist home with unbelieving parents. Somehow I realized that I could not do life alone like they were.. my heart longed for the Living God. Eventually I found out that He longed for me too and that was 40 years ago.

So today.. so many years later I still know that I cannot do it alone.. especially in the middle of the night when the tears are flowing and the hopeless tries to take over. He is my refuge and my sanctuary and He will rescue me as I call out to Him. I truly hope you are in relationship with this amazing God who gave everything so you could come to Him, rest in Him and trust Him.

Don’t entertain any self-destructive thoughts.. find someone to talk with and never make a rash decision that you have nothing to live for.. You are the beloved child of the Lord and He knows you and accepts you and will never leave you.

 

Rough Waters..

 

This has been a very difficult year so far and it does not show signs of letting up..trials continue and seem overwhelming at times.  In the beginning of every year I hope for an easier time in the next year and for a long time that has not been the case.. in fact it seems like the opposite has happened. Each new trial is more challenging than the last.. time to take a look at that. What is God up to? He could intervene and remove the challenges..He is able to smooth things out so they are not so rough. He allows these tests to come into my life and He brings the storms.

Do I have answers for you? No.. I don’t. All I know is that He is at work and He is in control. His plan is unfolding daily for my life and for yours. He is doing things in us through the suffering. Unfortunately that is the way it seems to work.. we are being drawn closer to Him because we feel like the next wave of disappointment or grief will drown us. For me.. as I am aging and facing things I never expected.. I find that nothing matters as much as I thought when it comes to this life.. It all seems so important doesn’t it? We long for things and dream dreams about our future.. yet it is clear we were not made for this world. So much heartbreak and sadness in our lives and the lives of those around us.

As a counselor, I may be more aware of this than most people. I hear the stories.. I see the sadness in their faces.. women of all ages. Their lives are very difficult and their past is far from perfect. I have no illusions about the condition of the world or the condition of people’s hearts.  As I work with others.. the Lord works on me.. going deeper and drawing me into a greater dependence on Him and His spirit.. I suffer with them and cry with them.

Why? Because He is the comforter.. not me.. He is their savior, not me.. He is the one who will bring healing.. not me. We need to know our own limitations if we are going to walk this walk. We cannot fix or change anyone. God is the one who will save them..rescue and restore them. He is also the one who will do that for me..we are all in the same boat. That makes me think about the disciples when they were in the boat at sea and a great storm came upon them. They were frightened and thought they would die.. but their Lord was with them and He calmed the sea. He appeared to be sleeping and unaware of their dilemma..but He knew and He rescued them and saved their lives..despite their fears and unbelief. He does the same for us.. we are like those disciples.. forgetting who was in that boat with them and imagining the worst.

If you are in a storm right now.. remember that you are not alone. If you think you are drowning in a sea of depression and despair.. stay close to Jesus.. rely on Him.. trust Him to come to for you.. He always does.

We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.

” He is in the delays”…

I posted this two years ago.. on this date.. I hope it brings you peace as we leave 2017 and enter a new year. I am also leaving behind a decade of my life and entering the 7th decade.. may the Lord keep us and protect us as we trust HIm!

Here we are again.. can you believe it? Just two more days before 2015 is over. This is a time for looking back and for looking ahead. God gives us this window of time to reflect after the busyness of Christmas and before the beginning of 2016.. For me it is a little more intense than I would like since my birthday is New Years Eve. I literally start a new year of my life when January 1st rolls around. I am reminded of how fast time passes and how long I have lived. When you are young it is easy to look ahead with some excitement.. as you age it is a little scary. My body is wearing out and I am fighting to stay healthy and strong. My grandchildren are growing up and I want to be here as long as I can to see them as adults and hopefully to see their children.

As I look back on 2015 I see moments of great faith and moments of failure. I remember the days when I felt like He was so close I could touch him and I remember the days when I wondered if He even knew I existed. Yet I know that God made me the way I am.. He knows my pain and He appears in the middle of my brokenness to remind me of His sovereignty over my life. I imagine that you can relate to my struggles and I want to encourage you..to remind you that God knows our hearts.. He knows what makes us dance for joy and what breaks our hearts into a million pieces.

Looking back I see things that I am grateful for.. ways that God has moved to change me  and to guide me into a deeper place with Him. I see healing in my life and in the lives of those around me. Some of us received gifts that we were waiting for and some of us are still waiting. This morning as I visited with a friend and saw how God was giving her a wonderful blessing that she had been longing for I was struck with a thought that I knew was from Him. He said ” I am in the delays”.. when we wait and pray and hope.. He is in that season with us. We are not forgotten or set aside. He keeps our desires close to His heart and at the right time He delights in surprising us with the very thing we hoped for.

So.. let us enter this new year with confidence in the Living God…our Creator and our Provider. Our hearts can rest in His presence trusting that He will come for us.. He will rescue us.. He will heal us and He will shower us with blessings in 2016.

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