You Steady My Heart

I heard a wonderful song for the first time this morning. It so speaks to where I am right now in my life and is so encouraging. The song is called “Steady My Heart” and it is by Kari Jobe. I am not naive enough to think that I am the only one in the world going through hard and painful times, I know that many of you are as well. I hope this brings hope and encouragement to your day, like it has mine!

This first link is just a short word from Kari about how the song came about. The second link is the actual song with lyrics.

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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To Grievers And Friends of Grievers

Here is another great blog post from my daughter, Katie. My heart breaks that my children have to endure this kind of pain. Please continue to keep Katie, Emilie and Jacob in your prayers. The Lord has a purpose for all that we are going through and we will continue to struggle through each day asking Him to fulfill that purpose in each of us. To God be the glory!
Sandra

To Grievers and Friends of Grievers

Some days, life just comes at me hard. Ugliness is shoved in my face and my head is pressed hard into it. I am smothered by the pain, so thick I cannot breathe. I dream dreams of happiness. We are all together again. A family, complete. Smiles part lips and laughter bursts forth. Hugs are exchanged and I linger in that moment, all of me enveloped in loving warmth. And then, I wake. I slam into the brick wall of reality and all goes cold. The chill of deep loss courses through my veins. The burning ember of grief catches in my throat, threatening to gag me. Threatening to rip the life and breath right out of me. I ask myself, “is it really worth fighting? I feel halfway gone already.” I’m tired of longing for what I can never have back. At times, the hole inside me seems to empty itself even more, to the point where it almost consumes me from the inside out.

But I’m good at hiding it, maybe a little too good. Someone told me the other day that if they had never heard that my dad died, they would have no idea from being around me that anything was wrong. Their statement was quite unsettling. Do I really live in such a way that everyone thinks I’m perfectly fine? Because I’m not. I’m not fine at all. Sure, I can go to class and work, hang out with friends, run errands, even laugh and have fun, but that doesn’t mean I’m fine. Just because I’m not super moody and I don’t sit around crying all the time, it doesn’t mean that my heart hurts any less. I still need people just as much as now as I did then, probably even more so.
Tragedy is a strange thing, really. Death strikes and everyone from everywhere, people that never even talked to me before, all rushed to my aid, sending sympathy messages and offering any sort of help. But just wait. Give it two or three months, and you find that not many of those people have stuck around. They’ve moved on in their lives, which is perfectly normal and acceptable. But for me, the one grieving, I don’t get to go back to normal life after the dust clears. Instead, I’m forced to face the reality of being fatherless. To spend holidays without him there. To spend my birthday thinking of the trip he had promised that we never got to take together. To learn how to live again, albeit with an aching emptiness inside of me. Shock has finally begun to wear off and now the grief is more intense than ever. Now is when I need people. In the rubble of the aftermath is when grieving people need someone to love on them, to listen to them. To let them talk, relive memories, to give them a shoulder to cry on, to just be there. And us grieving people, we get that it’s awkward. You don’t know what to say or do, you don’t want to bring it up if it’s not on our mind already, you don’t know how to handle the tears, you’re afraid of hurting us more. Listen. There are no perfect words, so don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. We’re not expecting you to fix things or offer a solution, so you’re off the hook. There is never a time when it’s not on our mind, we just don’t always voice it. The way to handle tears is to simply be there. Let us cry and don’t feel like you have to try and make us feel better. What we need are not any special specific words, but your presence, time, and love. We’re not fragile and breakable, just sad and hurting. Love on your grieving friends. Trust me, they need it.

And for us grievers, we have some work to do as well. It’s hard for us to ask for help or to let you know when we really need someone. We don’t want to inconvenience people or make them feel like they have to drop everything for us. We don’t want to be perceived as the downer, the one who never has fun and is always sad, the one who is overly clingy and needy. We need to learn how to trust those we love enough to believe that they won’t view us that way. We need to be authentic and not pretend like everything is okay when it’s not. We need to learn balance between seeking help and dealing with some things on our own.
My life is completely different than it was four months ago. I’m a different person and not only do I have to adjust to that, so do the people around me. So grievers and friends of grievers, let’s be patient. We need each other immensely, and friends, you have absolutely no idea the impact you can make in a grieving person’s life if you are intentionally present with them. Don’t worry about getting it all right, simply be there. They need you, I need you, more than they might let on. Let’s work together to love one another well, reflecting Jesus in our relationships.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Waiting Is Hard, Pain Is Real, But….Dawn Always Comes!

Just wanted to share a devotion that spoke to my heart this morning. I hope it encourages you as well!

Waiting is an inescapable part of life in this world. One of the hardest times to wait is during the night, if you’re having trouble sleeping. As the darkness drags on while you’re watching for the first rays of sunlight, you can identify with ‘watchmen waiting for the morning.’ However, no matter how long the night may feel, dawn eventually comes. Since I created an orderly world, you can count on the rising of the sun. There is much to learn from this pattern of expectant waiting followed by the dawning of a new day. People who are struggling with long-term problems may feel as if their suffering will go on interminably. But for My children there is every reason to be hopeful, even while circumstances remain dark. Relief WILL come! I can change situations and relieve suffering in an instant. Moreover, each of My followers is on a pathway leading to heaven. Just as the night sometimes seems terribly long, yet always ends in dawn, so your journey through this world – no matter how long and hard it seems – will definitely end in Glory!

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Ephesians 3:20-21

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Happy?????? New Year

We made it through our first Christmas without Greg. As you can imagine it was very difficult, but the Lord continues to show His goodness and faithfulness to us despite the sadness. We decided it would be best to continue with our usual Christmas traditions, and I think that was the best decision. Even though I didn’t feel very festive, I went ahead with getting a Christmas tree and doing a little decorating around the house. I’m glad I did…it would have been much more “dreary” without the tree, lights and decorations. Plus, the Christmas tree proved to be a source of humor for us! Of course, I have never dealt with getting the tree in the stand, getting it in the house, keeping it watered or putting the lights on. Needless to say, getting the lights on the tree was challenging for me….I ended up having a half a strand of lights that wouldn’t light tied up and shoved into the center of the tree! I wasn’t about to take them off once I had gotten them on the tree….even if they weren’t working!! And then we had the “fun” of the tree crashing to the floor after it had been up for about a week. (I knew that tree looked like it was leaning!!) So, with help from our neighbors at 10pm, we got the tree back up and I got to re-decorate it! Most of the lights were now mainly at the bottom of the tree…but that’s where they stayed. I wasn’t about to tackle the lights again!

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Christmas Eve was spent with all of my family at my parent’s house. We enjoyed our time of food, fellowship and present-opening! I struggled with keeping my emotions in check and had to take one short “time-out”, but other than that I did fine.

The kids and I enjoyed a nice morning at home on Christmas day. It was an emotional time for all of us as we shared sweet times of remembering Greg. We enjoyed several special gifts; although they were bittersweet. I gave each of the kids a large collage photo frame. Each of the frames contained one or two pictures of Greg and the rest were pictures of them with their Dad. Then they surprised me with a large framed family photo. It was the last photo that was taking of all of us together…it was taken at the Circle of Prayer that was held at our home in August. I was so surprised and I just love it! I was so touched by their thoughtfulness. The picture is now hanging over our sofa! Greg has always bought Jacob’s Christmas and birthday gifts. Although, we had not really talked specifically about gifts for this year, I knew that Greg wanted to give Jake a Playstation 3 so that’s what I wanted to get him. There is a HUGE God-story behind how it happened, but Jake ended up with that Playstation along with many games and controllers to go with it!! Again…..God reminds us that He cares about all things in our lives….even the small things like Playstations!! Jake also received another very special gift. The gift was very small in size, and would be meaningless to most, but to Jake, it meant the world! Although, I am not at liberty to elaborate..I just want to say a BIG thank you to those of you that made that gift happen for Jake. You know who you are!! I appreciate you going the extra mile to make a 14 year old boy so happy on Christmas morning!

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After the kids and I had our time together, my parents came over for our traditional Christmas breakfast! Later that evening, we celebrated Christmas with Greg’s family at his parent’s home. The evening was filled with more food, more presents and lots of laughter!

Now Christmas is behind us and we have said goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. I can easily say that 2013 has been the worst year of my life. I have never experienced sadness, grief, despair, and loneliness such as what I have felt this past year. And as much as you would think I would be more than happy to say goodbye to 2013, I am kind of sad to say hello to 2014. At least most of my days in 2013 were spent with Greg. None of the days in 2014 will be with him. As I look back over the past several years in my life, they have all been hard and I found myself eager to say goodbye to them. 2010 was filled with lots of spiritual warfare for our family. So to 2010, I said “Goodbye and good riddance! Bring on 2011!” 2011 was filled with physical issues…headaches for Jake, kidney stones for me, and Greg’s diagnosis of metastatic melanoma. So to 2011 I said, “Goodbye and good riddance! Bring on 2012!” 2012 brought the heartbreaking news that the melanoma had progressed in Greg’s body. So to 2012 I said, “Goodbye and good riddance! Bring on 2013!” I had no possible way of knowing that 2013 would be the year that I would say “Goodbye” to my best friend, my other half, my husband of 27 years. I had no way of knowing that 2013 would be the year that my children would have to say “Goodbye” to their Daddy.

As I’ve pondered all of this, the Lord just continues to remind me that we never know what the coming year is going to bring us. We don’t even know what the coming month, day or hour is going to bring. So, we should live each day to the fullest….enjoying the gifts, the relationships, the health, the freedoms that He has blessed us with. Instead of “resolutions” this year, I have decided to focus on these things. I am praying that He will remind me to focus on these things every day. I am praying that my children and I will be more intentional than ever about walking in God’s Presence so that we are equipped to face whatever comes our way in 2014. I am praying that as we continue to choose joy during this difficult season, that we will begin to experience more and more times where joy chooses us. That we will not have to be so deliberate about “choosing” joy, but that we will begin to once again be “surprised” by joy. And I pray that our family will indeed have a “Happy” New year!

I pray that each of you will experience God’s Presence in a real and new way this year. That you will live and love with eternity in mind. That if you don’t already know Him, that you would seek to know the God that loves you so much that He sent his only Son to die for you. And lastly, that you will truly have a Happy New Year!!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

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