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All things

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.

( Jeremiah 31)

Almost a year

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”

Dreaming God’s way..

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.

2021.. so far

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.

The Lord knows our pain.

“Jesus wept”

Almost 11 years !

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.

Beginning

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.

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)

Grief during the 2020 Pandemic

 

 

Loss and grief are everywhere. We are all living in a state of grief right now. Our world turned  upside down when the news of the pandemic took over our world. We have been living in very scary times with no end in sight. As I write this people are losing homes and lives to wildfires that are appearing all over the West Coast. I began to think about all the losses that are happening to everyone..  Many have lost their lives.. others suffer because of a loss of freedom, loss of choices, loss of relationships, loss of jobs, homes,.. I am sure you can name other losses .. it is unbelievable.

We lost the ability to connect with strangers.. to smile at children.. to visit loved ones that are sick and dying. .. to celebrate life changing events.. to gather together to comfort one another when there is a death in a family. So much is lost and in the middle of all this.. there are those of us who are losing family members to diseases other than Covid.. People are dying alone in skilled nursing.. what a tragedy.. there is no way to process that type of loss.. no second chances

I am grateful I was allowed in to see Steve in his last months.. other people are not so fortunate.. So here we are in the middle of a grief filled world trying to process our own losses.. it is a very complicated grief. A layered grief where you walk all alone wondering how you can survive when everyone is sheltering inside afraid.. to breathe the smoky air or afraid of getting sick. A fear based world that has us hiding out… waiting for the day when we can hug each other and rejoice that it is finally over.

Meanwhile we meet on Zoom or some other video format.. we talk on the phone.. trying to support one another without touching.. it really isn’t the same. We are made for relationship with living breathing human beings. Church on TV is not church to me.. it is superficial and lacking the things I would look forward to on Sunday..the human contact.. the hugs and the smiles..So everyday I wonder.. why did I lose my husband now? What possible good can come from this? How do I cope with the isolation and loneliness when everyone is struggling with their own sorrows and losses.

Does the Lord answer these questions for me? Not really. He does say :

TRUST ME

in the darkness

in the uncertainty

SEEK ME

with your whole heart

TRUST IN MY FAITHFULNESS

REMEMBER MY GOODNESS

So daily I return to him from the prison of isolation and grief and tell him I TRUST YOU.. in this pain. You are my Father.. My Redeemer.. My Rescuer.

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.