Tag Archive | strength

New Season..

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.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
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.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
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.

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.

Shelter in Place

 

 

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.

 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God..

(from Psalm 46)
   

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Surprises in the dark

This is us in Maui 7 years ago.. a wonderful memory!

 

Dear Readers,

If you have been following my blog you know that I write about the struggles of this life.. disappointment.. grief and loss.. disillusionment etc. I feel like there is a need for that type of transparency and sharing. However.. there is more than just acknowledging the trials and the pain we face. In the midst of these trials, God promises to show up.. to reveal Himself to rescue us and to renew us.  This was a week when God showed up in my life in a very surprising way.

As you know, my husband is suffering from a type of dementia and we have been grappling with what that means for the last year.. since he was diagnosed. A couple of months ago I decided to take our wedding movie to Costco to have it put on a DVD. We have never seen this movie since it was shot with a super 8 camera with no way to view it.. time to do something about this. I wanted to make sure that we watched it together now..in case Steve is unable to take it in later.. but at the same time I felt like I was going to lose it when I saw how things used to be. We have been married for 17 years and both of us are very different from the way we were on that day.

It seemed as though the Lord and Steve wanted to see it.. so I just hoped that I could recover after it was over. God surprised me.. not only did I recover, but I was totally encouraged as I watched and also amazed. The important moments were all there.. views of the guests.. many of them are with the Lord now.. including my Dad and Steve’s sister. It was wonderful to see them again and to remember them.. Then there were the vows.. showing the close up of my face and I saw the joy that God gave me as I married this wonderful man and promised to be faithful to him no matter what happened.. in sickness and in health. Wow.. so thankful that I made those vows and that God is giving me the strength to keep them. The pastor gave a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13.. the love chapter. It was a prophetic word for us.. emphasizing that love was to be at the center of our relationship.. It was as though the Lord knew we needed to file that away and keep it for this season. So awesome to realize that He knew what we would face and that we would walk it out together. I was strengthened by the words of the pastor as he told us that he could see God’s handiwork in our relationship.. it was confirmation to me that nothing that is happening is a surprise to God.. He knew what we would walk through and that we would cling to Him and each other.

Yes! It was a surprise in a dark time and it came in a surprising way.. I cried and longed to relive those early years of our marriage.. but these years matter too and I want to live fully as they unfold.

I just had to share this with you.. I hope it brings life and hope to your heart!

Love,

Alicia

The Lord is in the whisper

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. “

So this scripture was going through my mind today.. I truly cannot tell you the last time I was reading 1 Kings.. but it was not at all recently.. I heard the words and then had to look up the passage because I did not even know where it was in the Bible.. The reason I was hearing these words is because I finally understand, at least a little bit, about what it means that God is in the gentle whisper. For me it was the revelation that the big things that we hope will reveal His presence often do not happen.. we want the big miracle or sign that He is with us.. that proves to us  He is present in our circumstances so we do not fear or falter. If we read about the life of Jesus in the NT we find that all those signs and miracles still left the disciples and others wondering. Who is this man? So obviously they don’t always have the desired effect.

God has been revealing His presence through small things that are big to me.. I see Him at work in my circumstances through the way people are stepping up to help me over and over again. I see Him at work when He brings me back to scriptures that speak to my heart over and over again.. when He answers prayers that I barely remember praying.. when He shows me that He is at work behind the scenes and all He is asking is for me to trust Him with everything!!.. He is constantly whispering ” I am with you and I have your back.. I will deliver you and fight the enemy for you.. come to me with everything and trust that these whispers are saying … I love you with an everlasting love”   ( Jeremiah 31)

In John 4 Jesus said this to the Samaritan woman at the well.. and it is for us as well.

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 

Lord.. give me ears to hear those whispers.. to recognize your voice and to drink the living water that you are offering me.

Here comes July …

 

 

 

I actually have a very difficult time as July begins every year. Undoubtedly because this time of year is associated with two big losses in my life. My deceased husband died on July 6th and my beloved sister-in -law died on July 12th. The deaths were nine years apart, but the memories are always fresh. This year as I grapple with the disease that is affecting my husband.. the grief was triggered again.. So.. there is no way around it all. Life is about loss in many ways and the years that pass take the edge off but the losses are never gone..we learn to live with them. That is the nature of grief.

Maybe you are wondering why I write about grief so often.. the answer is because it has changed me to understand and accept grief as part of our life in this world.  God made us the way we are.. He allows us to feel sad and lonely and forgotten. He allows life to be more challenging than we ever imagined. He knows we are going to suffer and that we will cry out to Him in our pain. We live in a fallen world and all these things are reminders to us that there is more. ” All the sad things will become untrue.” I am totally counting on it..especially now.. more than any other time in my life I am longing for that heavenly mansion and the place where there are ” no more tears.”

One thing suffering does is produce a hunger in us for the Lord.. we can either pull away in bitterness or cling tightly to Him.. sometimes we end up doing both as we wrestle with challenging circumstances. We may lash out in anger and tell Him He is unfair while at the same time crying out for relief.. at least that is what I do. Today while I was sitting with my cat and reading my BIble I thought of this song from an old CD and as I played it I realized that it was describing me.. just as I am, not as I want to be.. but as I truly am today.

 

Revisiting Romans 8:28

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been thinking about this verse lately and feeling like I need to write about it. You know the one I mean ” God works all things to the good of those who love Him” or as the Message says:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

I need to believe that right now.. usually I keep the details of my life fairly private. I don’t think it is a great idea to pour out your heart on a blog..I use my journal for that purpose. However today I feel the need to share a bit of my story. Over the last 5 years we have been going through the fire.. my husband lost his job, then could not find another one for 31/2 years and after that we took a cleaning job for the church that was pretty much unbearable for all of last year. It was clear during that time that my husband was not doing well and something was wrong.. but not clear what it was. I was afraid to find out his diagnosis so we delayed going to the neurologist until last month.. unfortunately the news is not good, he has a rare form of aphasia that is progressive and there is no cure.. you can look it up if you like. What has this meant for us? Everything in our lives has completely changed and we are facing a very unknown future ..It feels like life as we once knew it is gone. All our hopes and dreams are gone.. even many of the activities we once did are out of reach these days.

Fear and grief are my constant companions..especially in the middle of the night. Loneliness and isolation are close by as well.. sadness and loss seem to be the new reality. So this brings me back to Romans 8:28.. I see no way that God is going to work this into something good.. but because He never lies, He will. Is that comforting.. not really.. I just want everything back the way it used to be before this disease entered our lives.. I know that the Lord is teaching me things right now, but honestly I don’t want to learn them.. enough is enough. So I continue to trust that He is involved in our lives and we are not forsaken.. I hope to write more on this blog and to work on my book that I want to finish during this season. I am praying for God to provide since we have no resources..we are in His hands totally.. Some days I feel like the disciples in the boat with Jesus.. filled with fear and anxiety while He is sleeping.. wondering when I am going to drown in this sea of sorrow..

So pray for us please.. and if you get a word of encouragement.. please post it here and we will be grateful…..More words of wisdom from Eugene Peterson’s the Message….

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Cor 1:3-5)

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