Spring is really here. It is a beautiful spring day where I live. The sun is shining and the flowers are blooming. I am grateful for the beauty of this season. It is so comforting to realize that Spring will come every year even if we still feel like we are in a winter season.. that would be me. The grieving season does not end when Spring starts.. but the colors of the flowers and the bright blue sky give me hope. I am thankful I can begin to enjoy things.. little by little.
There are many dark days and nights for me.. I miss my husband every single day but there are also glimmers of hope. Days when I feel like maybe I really do have a future.. when I may actually have a new life that brings me joy and happiness. God has given us His creation and seasons that enable us to feel a certain security in these insecure times.. The beauty of the earth is timeless.. the seasons are never late. He is still on His throne even in the chaos of this broken world and in the sadness of our lives.
This season of my life has been very difficult and I am learning more and more on the everlasting arms. He is my rock and my security. Standing on His promises is the only safe place right now. My hope is in Him.. He is the same .. yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is our protector and our provider. His ways are not ours.. We are His people.. the sheep of His pasture.. He is our Shepherd we have all that we need.
I pray that the Lord is revealing His love for you daily.. that you are resting in Him and that you find the green pastures and quiet streams .. the places where He can minister to you and restore you.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Welcome to my blog.. actually it is not a new blog at all.. I have been writing on this blog for 12 years..but this is the first post of 2022. I never imagined that I would continue to write on it when I started.. in fact I did not know the first thing about blogging. There have been so many times when I felt like giving it up and then suddenly I see that people are still reading it and I remember a promise I made to the Lord. If I am doing something that He has given me to do and it helps even one person.. I will continue to do it.
The title of this post comes from 2 different scriptures that continue to go through my mind. They are connected, but I never saw that until today. The first is Romans 8:28.. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I learned to lean on this passage over 40 years ago as a new Believer.. reminding myself of His goodness . The second passage is from Isaiah 43.. “Remember not the former things ,nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Do you see the connection? He has promised to work all things together for our good.. that means everything all the time. And He is doing a new thing.. which is exactly what happens. When we walk through trials we are being shaped and refined by the suffering. We can cling to his promise to bring good out of it.. even when it looks hopeless.. and all we do is hurt and question, because He will do something new in us and through us as He has promised.
I am writing this after one of the most difficult years of my life. My husband died in 2020 and I was in deep grief when 2021 started.. I fell on New Years day and that began a year of physical pain that was worse than anything I had ever experienced.. I am much better, but still recovering. The grief is no longer fresh but there are many days when I wish Steve was here and I feel very lonely and sad. God is beginning to renew my hope and helping me to trust that He will bring good out of all of this and I can sense Him doing new things in my life as I rest and recover. These promises are coming to life right in front of me. If anyone had told me that He was going to use this for His glory a year ago I doubt I could have heard that. If anyone had told me that He was going to use my 5 year journey, with Steve suffering from early onset dementia and eventually dying at 65..during Covid,.. for good, I would not have heard it.
Today I am able to see it and believe it and know it. Because of His grace I never walked away or gave up and because of His grace I see a glimpse of the good He is doing in the midst of this.. I share this in the hope that you too will hang on to our anchor.. to Jesus our rescuer and the lover of our souls. He will come for you.. I can promise you that.
I have missed writing to you.. I truly pray this year is unfolding in a promising way for you.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.“
Monday will be the 1st anniversary of my husband’s passing into eternity. In some ways it seems like it happened yesterday and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. The Lord has me set aside by a back injury.. I spend almost all my time alone. I would never have signed up for this season.. I loved my life with Steve before he got sick. We enjoyed each other’s company and I felt loved every single day.. I know he did too.
Without him, I feel homeless.. he was “home” to me. I lost the place we were living in and the things we both enjoyed.. that was hard, but it was stuff.. and none of that matters anymore…without him. I am learning to live on my own for the first time.. realizing the presence of God more and more. He has me set aside and He is healing some deep wounds that needed attention. He is teaching me to turn to him since there is no one I can lean on.. I have wonderful friends and family, but no one is able to truly understand my feelings and sorrows. That is truly how it is for most of us, but we find ways to fill up our time so the grief we and wounds we have inside never come to the surface..
It takes time away from other people and activities to truly get in touch with ourselves.. lots of time. This time for me is a time of reflection and growth. A time to look at my relationships with others and with myself.. I see that I needed that time and the Lord has given it to me… He is doing a deep work and it is often painful.. No one wants to suffer, but I am more and more convinced that it is in the suffering that we see His face and He is able to heal us. He loves us so much that He will allow these hard seasons to show us just how real He is and how much we need Him.. We can claim to need Him and love Him but it is only in the ” valley” that we experience that love coming from Him and find that He is there for us in impossible situations.. I am so thankful for that reality.
“For He wounds, but He also binds up, He injures, but His hands also heal”
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.
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.’”
I actually cannot remember using that phrase before about 4 months ago. There was never a time when I thought for even one minute we would be using it every day and doing it for months. So here we are and we have been sheltering for 4 months.. limiting our contact with other people by staying home and when we go out we wear masks and stay 6 feet apart as much as possible.
The world has turned upside down and may stay that way for a long time.. no one can say that we will ever return to what we called normal. It is going to take time to see what this virus does next and what the reaction to this virus has done to us. I don’t know about you but what I miss the most is hugs and smiles.. Two very important ways we connect with one another have been taken away.. it is a huge loss for me. Thankfully I have a few people in my family I can hug and we can be around one another without masks and smile at each other.. but I miss smiling at strangers and hugging people that I don’t see very often.. expressing the joy that the Lord gives us for one another .
So I long for the good old days when we were not afraid of each other.. when we did not see continual bad news about this virus every single day for months.. I continue to hope for a time when we can relax more and enjoy life in a way that is not possible now.
I wonder how God is at work in this mess. Did He create this virus? I don’t believe He did because it is evil and He is not the creator of evil.. but yes, He has allowed it to exist and chosen not to stop it from spreading.. something that happens in this fallen world on a regular basis.. One thing I know is that He will bring good out of this because His word promises this. Sometimes I get glimpses of good things that are happening right now.. families are spending more time together.. people seem to be more polite and aware of each other out in public.. parents are getting to know their children in deeper ways. We are all learning to entertain ourselves in new ways because things we used to do are gone. Many people are exercising and cooking more.. focusing on being healthy in new ways. Some people are able to work from home and will never have to commute again.. taking stress out of their lives and we end up with cleaner air. Some parents will continue to home school their children because they find that everyone benefits from being together instead of spending long hours in the classroom.
Probably the biggest gain I see is that we are all less busy. We have more time to be alone and more time to connect with the Lord.. I realize that not everyone is taking advantage of this .. they may decide to continue to have busy lives by being on Zoom and the phone as much as possible..That is too bad.. because my deepest feeling is that the Lord wants time with each one of us.. it may be even more important than going to church or spending time with friends. He longs for us to come to Him with all our broken dreams.. disappointments.. losses and sadness so He can apply the balm of Gilead on these wounds. It is our choice .. He will never force us to seek Him out.. As for me, I can only continue to live by letting him carry me as I stumble and fall under the weight of my situation. He is my everything.. my sorrow and grief are too heavy to bear by myself and you are probably experiencing some of that yourself. He is with us and for us and wants us to come as His weary and broken people so He can shelter us from this storm.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
“Joy is an act of resistance against despair and its forces”
The first two weeks of advent .. Hope and Peace lead us to the present week Joy.. we are no longer hoping and seeking peace instead we are ready to embrace joy.. to celebrate the joy of the Lord. Jesus was born into a dark and lonely world .. a world that needed Him more than it realized. The little baby born in the manager brought something amazing to us.. The joy of the Lord.. This joy is our stronghold in times of trouble .. it is our refuge when we are drowning in a sea of sorrow.. it is our hiding place and our sanctuary. Joy is available to us because of His unending love and His generous heart..We are His and because of that we can rejoice in our trials and suffering.. knowing that He is for us and with us.
We are in a season of anticipation.. of waiting.. as we draw near to that day when we celebrate the birth of Christ. He came into the world as a tiny helpless baby and yet He was God. He came to set the captives free.. to release the world from the bondage of sin and death. As He was born, the air was full of Joy.. the world began to breathe again.. Finally!
We can rest.. it is finished. The joy that flooded the world on that day is remembered every year at Christmas time. We hear the songs on the radio and in stores.. “Joy to the World” Even those who do not understand the depth of these words.. feel the joy and celebrate His birth. His spirit remains here with us.. to guide us and direct our steps. He fills us and walks with us as we trust Him. Christmas is an opportunity to remember this.. to be reminded of His faithfulness and His presence in our lives. He is our hope, our peace and our Joy..
” I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” ( John 15:11)
Today we were making our way through Exodus at church.. a very interesting book that is often overlooked. The Israelites’ relationship with God is similar to the way we often relate to Him. He rescues them and then provides for them and yet they long to go back to Egypt.. Somehow they are unable to truly grasp His love for them and accept His plan for their lives.. Sound familiar? Why is that we get amnesia when it comes to remembering His goodness? We all have a story and in that story God has come for us over and over again.. yet we doubt and wonder and worry.. I am absolutely guilty of this. Where are you God? Why would you..? How could you??
So as I listened to the teaching today I heard something that I needed to hear.. it was a new way of stating an old idea that I have heard over the years.. but somehow today it was much more clear than it has been.. Maybe I am just more ready to hear it now than I was when I was younger.. Our walk with God is often clouded by our own desires..we want what we want.. guilty as charged. The Lord uses all of this desire for things that are not Him to draw us towards Him.. sounds strange doesn’t it? What I mean is that we long for the things for this world.. homes, jobs, money, etc.. and every time we get any of these things, they fall short and another desire has to spring up… It is an endless cycle until we realize that these things are never going to fill the emptiness or take away the loneliness.. We are in a broken world and we are not here to have this perfect life.. so why are we here? The message today was that we are here to make it safely home .. back to the God who created us.. That’s right to walk with Him all the way to the end..staying close to Him, following Him, and keeping our faith alive.. until that day!
It was so freeing to hear that today.. Many of my old dreams have died and many of my longings will never be fulfilled in this life.. but I can do this thing.. I can walk with Him every day until the end is here.. I can long for that day to come and still live fully now.. trusting Him and knowing that He is with me.. You can do that too.. you can look back and see how He has been there over and over and remember how you have seen Him at work in your life and in the lives of those around you. You can decide to stay on the path until He takes you safely home!