Friday, December 31, 2010


The kids and I had a lovely Christmas with lots of family. I knew by Tuesday afternoon, however, that a sad and angry cry of grief and loss was brewing inside. My first opportunity to let it out privately was last night…and out it came…I went to bed hoping things would seem better in the morning, but they didn't. I sat down for my quiet time of prayer and study with a very heavy heart. Although it didn't happen immediately, there was a moment when I realized God had worked a 180⁰ turn in my heart. I continue to be amazed when this occurs--this amazing change of heart/attitude...even though it actually happens quite frequently. Often I don't even want to be pulled from my pity party…but He is faithful when I still myself and receive the love He offers. I started my quiet time ranting to Him about why He seems to make everything so hard, and I ended it knowing in my heart that He is trustworthy and faithful, and that with His help, I am able to be content in my spirit and do whatever needs to be done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today was a good day. My children only have one more (half) day of school, and they are soooo excited about the break! We have lots of family coming for Christmas, and I am looking forward to it. We have not really decorated...but our tree is up and our city of Bethlehem out. The new dog has chewed up (I mean like a termite!) my rocking chairs on the front porch, so I decided lights on the house might not be a good idea since you have to plug them into the outlet that is right in the midst of their dog playground.

Hope your Advent is a peaceful one...full of joy as you prepare and wait to celebrate the coming of our Saviour.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

True Gifts

My daughter and I had a great day today. A family friend joyfully and patiently instructed my daughter and two of her friends (and two moms ;-) in the art of making Baklava. The entire process took about 6.5 hours, and we also made Stromboli for lunch and cookies in between...actually the girls helped her with the Stromboli and the other mom helped with the cookies and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a beautiful view and washed a few dishes. I even got to do trig problems as a bonus (My friend's daughter has a test Monday ;-) fellow math teachers will understand when I say that there is nothing better than working a few trig problems on a cold, rainy day!
My friend has a busy household with 4 children (her oldest is a freshman in College and her youngest is in 8th grade) and a full-time, very consuming job...but she made time for us today because my daughter asked her too. It never dawned on my daughter that this friend would not share her secrets of Baklava making or would pass it off with "I'll be glad to get you the recipe." We had a wonderful afternoon of laughter, story telling, you-tube viewing,...and, oh yeah, baking. These are the true gifts of the Christmas season, I think.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Good To Know

Last night, all by myself, I picked out, unloaded and carried in my Christmas tree --I also put it up in the stand. That is a major accomplishment for me, and I quite surprised myself. One more thing on my list of stuff I've never done before. I was proud but sad also...thinking about years past. I am just one of the many single mommas out there learning to do things for myself. I am starting to know that I can do this...only because I have to. I don't want to, but it is good to know that I can.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Joyful Song

I sense God has put a new song inside me. This song is full of love and laughter and suffering and sadness...but it is woven into a joyful song, nonetheless. I can't explain it--it just is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Beginnings

I have had a few days of feeling really alive for the first time in a year and some months. I don't think I can really explain it since it's not happening on an intellectual level. I just realized that I have been fully present with my children in the morning and evenings. I don't think I knew that I hadn't been (fully present with them) before--almost like emerging from a fog...but that's not quite right. I like it. I don't mean everything is peachy--it just seems real and true. Thank you, God.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Walking With

My friend's husband died Thursday evening. He was able to be at home with hospice care (wonderful people)...but that last day and a half was extremely difficult from what I understand. You would think that I would be prepared to "minister" to my sweet friend because of my experiences...and yes, I think probably seeing that the kids and I are doing well is some hope and encouragement to her and her children, but I still don't have any magic words or actions to make the nightmare go away or to speed up the journey through these darkest of nights. Everyone is different in how they deal with their grief...what I learned in my journey does have some universal properties, but I have also witnessed how each of us has our own way of handling things.

As she and I sat there in her kitchen later that Thursday night, I still talked too much and listened too little--even though I know better--the desire to help the nightmare end seems to force unnecessary words to flow forth--but the bottom line is I can't do a thing really except sit in the ditch with her--letting her know that, as she is ready, I am here to be an ear...not a mouth full of advice, but an ear to listen.

I know I cannot walk through the dark night for anyone...or hurry them through to the other side--but I can walk (quietly) with--using my God-given gifts and abilities to care (as my family and friends continue to do for me) as I accompany them on *their* journey...trying not to confuse their journey with my own.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I wish for everyone cousins to grow up with. Todd and I both had very fond memories of long summer days spent with cousins. My cousins and I always joked that we wanted to all end up at the same "old folks home" together...then we decided we had better own it or we would surely get kicked out. Their rich, deep laughter and beautiful smiles come to mind whenever I think of mine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Flying Time

I cannot believe it is November 1st already. It really seems like somehow it should still be September. I don't want to turn back the clock because I don't want to lose any of the ground I have gained in the past few months--but I do wonder how the time marched on the calendar without me really noticing.

I just deleted a long paragraph about Thanksgiving and Christmas because the words seemed so sad and defeated...I am going to try very hard during late November and December not to wallow in the loss...but to celebrate life. I just haven't quite figured out how I'll do that. Have to get back to you.

On an up note. I heard from two of my cousins whom I haven't talked with in quite some time. They can always make me smile when I think about them. We had such fun growing up together. I can remember thinking as we drove away from their home one Thanksgiving when I was in high school or college "God, no matter what happens in my life, don't let me forget what a great family I have and how content I feel right now. Thank You." I guess I need to spend some time appreciating the many moments that spawned that long ago prayer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another’s Story

Here is part of an email a friend sent me last week. She is one who recently got more bad news in the form of test results…her husband was given 6 months to live 6 years ago, and these years have been a roller coaster ride from hell. I asked her permission to share this email because… well, I am just so amazed how she shows up for life everyday in the midst of all this when I know there are many days she would just like to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over her head. My friend is in a very dark time. She longs to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, but she doesn't—she hasn't given up hope that she will, and some part of her knows that it is there whether she sees it or not.



Hang onto the promise of joy coming in the morning...sorrow only lasts for a night. However in the midst of it, it seems the sun will never rise again. That is where I am sitting now and I hate it. ... Our choice is in how we respond which leads to that internal war between world and God. Nothing with Christian beliefs fits our world. Have you noticed that? Looking at the fall colors...beautiful, yet they are dying. I don't understand too much right now.

We found out last week ( husband's) cancer is in his bones. Did a radiation treatment to try to alleviate pain. Made him sick. Walking with him through this has been the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. I don't have the answers, but I am finding grace. Learning the meaning of dying to self and giving myself to another...hating every minute of it for the most part of it, yet I would have it no other way. Already lost so much, yet so much more to go.


We enter this sacred ground with God...we learn to just love one accept the yuck and share our hope. I love the story of the velveteen bunny. He sacrificed everything just for the chance to be be real. There he found his joy. How I long to be real with others but find it so difficult.

I feel so alone most of the time in dealing with his illness and probable death, perhaps as you have faced. Our situations are not the same, but they are similar. I relate to the feelings of knowing you have to go on living when inside you feel dead quite often. Questioning God's promises for a hope and a future, if He really is strong enough to handle all my junk, and then being awed at His grace and mercy. I am in a time of searching, drawing near to God and trying to do so with a few friends.


To all my friends who feel they are sitting alone in the dark…I love you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Overall I am doing very well. However, I have noticed lately that Sundays have become more difficult to get through. I think maybe it is just one more part of moving on and into life. In the past, Sundays have not been any more difficult than any other day. I think they are beginning to stand out because I am moving out of numbness into life. I generally wake up okay, but it seems as the day progresses a heaviness envelops me, and I begin to think about that Sunday when the world turned upside down. I really do think this is just another step toward healing and wholeness, but I sure wish there could be another way to climb out of the pit...but for me, I don't think there is. So I am trying to say, that ultimately, this should be a good thing if I deal with it...then I guess I'll be ready for the next challenge--whatever it may be.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

(Not So Nice) Surprise

It always surprises me how I can be moving forward fairly consistently and then from out of nowhere, it seems, I get knocked on my backside.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leaning, Trusting, Calling

You said to lean on Your arm,
And I am leaning.
You said to trust in Your love,
And I am trusting.
You said to call on Your name,
And I am calling.
I am stepping out on Your word.

Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grieving with Others

Tonight I am mourning with and for several dear friends who are having their own experience with the "valley of the shadow of death." Today I learned that three different families I adore are dealing with test results that indicate serious conditions for children or spouse…and another family in my community is going through the agony of losing a child under extremely tragic circumstances. I do not have any answers, but I grieve alongside them--all the mommas of these families are precious to me. I wish that I could ease their pain in some way, but all I can do is sit with them in this nightmare and help with logistics of caring for them and their families.

Be merciful to me O LORD, for I am in distress;

my eyes grow weak with sorrow,

my soul and body with grief.

Psalm 31:9

I can remember wanting to shut out the pain…except the emotional and physical pain in your chest (your entire body) is so great that you can't even begin to shut it felt like I was being gutted with a sharp knife or set adrift in a very dark sea. I know that at least one (if not all) of these families is probably feeling that way tonight. I pray all these mommas/families will hold on as best they can and allow others to hold and care for them while they are unable (and perhaps have no desire) to care for themselves.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sweet Dreams

The last two weeks I have slept well at least 3 or 4 nights out of the week. I have crazy dreams when I sleep that long, and often I feel more tired after a "good" nights sleep (what's up with that?), but I think this must mean good things over all. Last night I even had a dream where I ate a chocolate covered cherry and could actually taste it in my dream. Yes, in the dream I was on one of the annual girlfriend trips...we eat a lot of junk on those trips...

Anyway, I think these changes must signal a new healing phase for me. I am grateful.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Good Laugh

Need a good laugh? I got another good one at my own expense just a little while ago...and I will even share this one. Currently it is 3:30 a.m., but it all started about an hour ago...

It was very quiet in the house (it is the middle of the night after all), and I was reading in the living room. I heard a beeping/chirping, and I thought to myself "of course the battery on the smoke detector ALWAYS needs replacing at 3 a.m. I got my replacement 9V, and studied the situation...because OF COURSE the chirping was in the living room...and that smoke detector is at the tippy top of the vaulted ceiling. I went out to the garage and got my 8-ft ladder (which I was very thankful I had), dust busted off all the spider webs, and set it up as close as I could get to the smoke detector (did I mention that this detector is mounted over a fireplace that is not yet installed...and that said fireplace wobbles a bit because it is not attached to anything??) I was not sure I would even be able to reach it, and I was a (wee) bit concerned that I would topple off the ladder if I had to stand on my tip toes. In preparation for my adventure, I removed all the Willow Tree figurines and pictures displayed on the (somewhat wobbly) fireplace and moved the (glass topped) coffee table. I did decide to study the smoke detector in the hallway before climbing up on the ladder, and the battery replacement looked pretty easy to manage. I was able to reach the detector and replace the battery (by my fingertips). As I was crawling back down the ladder, congratulating myself on this accomplishment, I heard the chirp again. I looked up at the detector very confused. Did I need to reset it or something? So I went to study the hallway detector again...all the while the beeping/chirping continues. I tested the hallway detector by pressing where it said "push and hold to test, push to hush" It went off when I pressed and held it, wouldn't "hush" when I pushed it again. This probably lasted less than 30 seconds, but when you are right next to an alarm going off (throughout the entire house) and trying to figure out WHY it won't stop when you are following the directions...well, I am sure you understand if I let several expletives fly. I honestly don't remember how I got it to stop, but I don't think it had anything to do with the directions. I was beginning to feel a little like (no, A LOT) like Phoebe in that "Friends" episode where she can't get her smoke detector to stop chirping and finally rips it off the wall and sends it down the garbage shoot (still beeping, I think). The chirping in the living room continues...and my children have slept through the "whole house alarm" during the testing phase of this experiment. (Those you-tube videos were telling the truth about kids sleeping through these...not comforting at all.)
I cannot find the manuals nor can I identify the manufacturer of these detectors (even upon close inspection...I will look again when I am not so rattled.) so I am unsure how helpful an Internet search will be, but I decide to try it (after I have already texted to see if anyone who might be able to advise me is awake...they weren't and I in retrospect I am sooooo thankful for that...I was grasping at straws, hoping that others were knowledgeable about some commonly known "trick" to try ;-). Well my generic search for "beeping smoke detector" yields some possibilities. I go out to the circuit box and turn off the breaker for the living room (why didn't I think of that? rhetorical question only--there is absolutely NO reason for anyone to answer that) I come back in, and it still beeping...I turn off the breaker to the attic (thinking maybe its wired through there)...come back in--still beeping. I have absolutely NO clue what else to try at this point, when a little light bulb dings in my head, and I think...could the beeping be coming from the carbon monoxide detector? (which I just remember we even have but all of a sudden seem to vaguely recall seeing on top of the fireplace as I moved the figurines and pictures earlier) I went cautiously toward the fireplace, and there laying flat on top of the fireplace (and VERY easy to reach) was the true source of the beeping/chirping noise which had cost me my sanity for the last 45 minutes. I am so glad God has gifted me with a sense of humor. I am still laughing, and I will almost bet you are too. Now I just have to get the 8 ft ladder out of my living room before my little boy gets up and wants to play on it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thankful and Not

Things I am thankful for:

  • my awesome kids
  • my awesome job (I love it!)
  • my awesome family
  • many dear friends
  • my comfortable home
  • ability to provide for my children (emotionally and monetarily)
  • my children's friends
  • my children's school
  • the beautiful weather we're having
  • my Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Georgia…and I was there to see it ;-)
  • I have hope

Things I am not thankful for but I am trying to accept:

  • I won't grow old with Todd (and all that goes along with that)
  • My children will not grow up with their daddy (and all that goes along with that)

I know lamenting these things is not productive...but still I acknowledge that I absolutely HATE it that he's not here to share life with us. We will survive this—are surviving this—the kids know it, and I know it…and for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

I had a pretty rough night last night, and this morning was a little shaky--but the day finished out pretty well. I had something happen this afternoon that made me laugh myself silly AT myself. I am not going to share it, but suffice it to say that I am sure even God was laughing (although I am sure it was "with" me and not "at" me..okay, maybe not ;-) Let me tell case you don't already know...I am one goofy chick. And guess what? I have goofy friends too ;-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This week I seem to be dealing with disbelief that he is gone. I really keep thinking/imagining that surely he will walk through the door, walk up behind me, and give me a big hug any minute now. Tonight I asked Caley if she ever imagines Daddy walking through the door...and she said matter-of-factly "you asked me that last night momma." :-( I didn't remember doing that. Then she came over and gave me a hug...really too much to ask from my sweet baby girl...she is old and wise for her years. She has always been this way (although she also has a silly streak a mile long.) I love her beyond words.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Can't Pay My Tab

I started this post on February 18 (which is when I last went went to see my counselor) but didn't come back to finish it until March 2---for some reason I never posted it...maybe the last part was too revealing for me at the time. I think I have blogged about this issue since then, but I decided to go ahead and post this one too. I have come a long way in this area since February. In fact, I can pretty easily ask for help these friends in town will tell you I don't seem to have any difficulty asking ;-) Just yesterday, a girlfriend and her husband took my two children (along with their 4!) to the fair because the kids had a half-day of school, but I needed to work. I know that I can never pay my tab, but that doesn't worry me so much anymore. I want continue to grow strong so that I can care for those people God places in my path...because there is always someone, somewhere close by, who can use the gifts (our time, skills, or money) we have to offer.

February 18
Well I went to visit my grief (trauma) counselor today. I hadn't been since late September or early October. I really thought when I went in that I wouldn't be there long--that I would just update her and we would chat and that would be that. Ha Ha on me. It is amazing to me how she can zone in on just what the real issues are. She is so helpful in helping me understand things for what they really are instead of the veneer I would like to paint them with. She immediately picks up on every nuance. She is goooooood.

I cried a lot, but I think overall that's a necessary part of this healing process...and anything that works toward healing is really a good thing. I can't stand a wimpy cry...if I'm gonna cry, I want it to be worth the effort. I have had several of those (good crys) this week. I am thankful that even though most of these occurred when I was by myself, that I also know my friends don't scare that easily. I still have issues about being hugged when I am upset, but hopefully that will get better with time. My sweet momma--who, of course, wants to hug me when I am upset--just lets me cry and scream and stomp around (if I happen to be doing it around her) and waits patiently for me to get it all out. Some of you may not know that my mom stayed with me for almost 3 months without once going home...and my sister was also with us for a good bit of that time. I honestly don't know how they did it. I can only imagine it is HARD to be around someone you love who is grieving so deeply and doesn't know how to begin to function like a "normal" person. They were always there, waiting patiently--ready to do whatever needed to be done for me or the kids.

In addition to those above I have already mentioned, there are so many people who have helped me carry this fact, if you are reading this you are probably one of them. God used so many people to minister to the kids and I during those initial months...and although the intense and immediate needs have subsided a bit, most of you continue to help care for my kids and me even after all these months have passed. I almost hate to start a list because sooooo many people helped us and I am afraid I will leave some out, but here goes...

My brother and his wife and children also came and stayed that first week and a half. I don't know what I would have done without them. It was such a comfort to me to know my children were playing with cousins and enjoying themselves as much as they could under the circumstances. They put together a photo album full of pictures of our visits to them in Chicago and Michigan...that was such a gift to me...and they also were just so willing to pitch in and do whatever needed to be done.

My brother-in-law (sister's husband) made several week-long trips to help at Todd's work and around the house. Once again, patiently waiting to do whatever needed to be done.

My in-laws were also awesome. The kids and I lived with them for the first month when I didn't have a clue to which way was up. They took me and the kids in and gave us the best of everything they had to offer...the best bed, the best bedroom, the midst of their overwhelming grief they still found a way to give and nurture and care. Todd's mom helped me with the kids, and his sisters took off the first two weeks from their own work to help their dad close down Todd's business, and that was a job. If it had been up to me, I am pretty certain I would have locked the doors and never gone back. Once Todd's sisters returned to their own jobs, every evening when they got home from work, we would all sit around and talk and there was an understanding of grief that didn't come from words but shared experience.

Our friends, John and Shelia, housed my mom, sister and other family for almost two months so they could be close to the kids and me. They have definitely been given the gift of hospitality. People were always coming and going, and John was cooking great meals every night and often had no idea who would (or would not) be there for supper...sometimes the entire gang, including the kids and me, and sometimes their would be things that kept everyone late and so no one showed up...we always felt they were so happy to see us when we were there and never upset when we didn't make it back at supper time. Shelia keeps a tidy house, but with all the extra guests not once did she ever make us feel we were putting her out in any way.

My doctor (aka my gynecologist ;-) and friend came daily to clean and doctor my wounds so that they would heal properly. Many, many days she made the hour-long drive (each way AND after putting in a full day at work) to tend and care for me. She always tried to make me feel like I was doing her a favor by letting her help.

Thanks to all the friends who just kept texting to let me know they were still thinking about you expected nothing in return for your vigil...just patiently waiting until I could reach out and receive help. There were friends who let me yell and scream and rage in those early days...they knew it wasn't directed at them, but I still think it must have been unsettling.

Thanks for all the cards and letters and thoughtful gifts I received in those first weeks...I have saved every one of those notes.

Thanks to those people--many of whom I will never meet--who prayed for us...many who still continue to pray for awesome you are. on to the ugly underside of my must be acknowledged.

Although I still recognize my need for help in some areas, in lots of others my pride keeps me from receiving the help that would make things go more smoothly--especially areas that have emotional pieces. I say "pride" because I have a stubbornness in me that I don't necessarily acknowledge with words (because I still make sure to say "thank you so much for all your help, friends and family" ) but my actions sure acknowledge it (like I have my hand stuck out in front of me as if to say "don't come any closer--you can help with 'that' but definitely not with 'this' ").

I don't want help in certain areas because

a) I want to prove I can do this (implying "I can do this by myself") which is ludicrous because I CAN'T --it is simply not how we are created, and

b) I want Todd here to help me, and if I can't have him I just don't want anyone--also ludicrous, because I am biting off my nose to spite my face when I won't receive help from those who desire to care for me and are equipped to do so. (What do you bet that Todd wouldn't use the word "ludicrous" -- he would tell me straight up that it was plain stupid. )

It almost seems to me like I act as though there is a time warranty on receiving help, and my warranty has expired...or I know that I can't begin to repay what I have already been given, so I am trying to keep the tab as low as possible. Do any of you ever feel this way?

Most mornings I do start out with a thankful and grateful heart, and it is easy for me to feel hopeful about the day. Now that I have acknowledged this oxymoron status that is at work in me perhaps I will be better at not playing that game. It is a slippery slope in that I do need to do my part so that I don't play the role of the life-long victim, but I also shouldn't stubbornly leave unopened the many gifts that have been bestowed and will continue to come my way.

love you guys,


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


(Before I begin the main part of this post, I want to emphasize that I see righteous anger as a perfectly appropriate response to people and things that have caused much pain. Righteous anger can lead to change...but change that comes about from right actions and not from those of the "two wrongs make a right" variety. )

Life is full of difficult choices. Some decisions are easily reversed, but many are not. We can never take back hurtful words and actions. We can forgive those who hurt us, but we may not so easily forget...and to be clear, I don't believe that "forgiveness" means saying "that's okay" or in anyway releasing someone from the responsibility of their actions...I think it means letting go of my desire to make that person hurt like I hurt.

There is that saying "Once a fool, shame on you. Twice a fool, shame on me." I think that "not forgetting" helps us avoid repeatedly being the fool. When I am the one who needs to be forgiven, I must remember that "not forgetting" is not the same as living under condemnation. If I have sincerely and humbly apologized--and done what I can to right the situation--I must let that emotional baggage go. I don't however have to forget, because that may just be the road map that saves me from repeating that mistake...or at least catching myself before I drive off the road completely. I am so thankful that God forgives me so lovingly, and it is only from His great love that I am able to forgive those who have hurt me, and to forgive myself when I have hurt others. Some hurts obviously take longer to forgive, but I am sure that God understands that. I heard or read that when we don't even have the desire to forgive, we can start by asking God to give us that desire. If we allow Him to work in our hearts, He can help us move from where we are to the peace that forgiveness brings. There is just no peace in holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness.

I don't write these things flippantly or casually. I am trying desperately to live them, but I fail quite miserably at times. I am, however, getting quite good at letting God pick me up, dust me off and put me back on the horse again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

God's Peace

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

I heard Joyce Meyer speak this morning on being thankful. I know that often I make my situation worse because I only want to acknowledge the loss and that which I don't have. I know that on my own that is all I will ever do…I may have moments when I am able to "pull myself up by my bootstraps" or brief periods when I am thankful (mostly because things seem to be going my way at the time), but without allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work in me, I will not have any kind of real and lasting peace or a truly thankful heart that continues to love others the way I am called to love them. Without this deep work of the Spirit, my pain and I (me, me, me ) will remain the center of a very sad and lonely life. I don't want to be someone who grumbles and complains (even under my breath or in my secret places behind a fake smile). I want that peace which passes all understanding and does not depend on outward circumstances. I have experienced it in spurts, and I can truly say that it is beyond my understanding. I want to abide in this Peace instead of just visiting from time to time.

Philippians 4:6-7 is actually the very first scripture verse I ever memorized as an adult. I have followed its prescription and claimed and received its promise many, many times throughout the years. Unfortunately, it is usually not the first thing I think of when my thoughts or circumstances begin to spiral downward…so many times it is only after I have exhausted my own list of failing solutions that I get quiet and still enough to hear it being whispered in my heart. I also have to remind myself that this verse does not promise a change in circumstances or the answer that I am looking for—it only promises the peace of God will be at work in me. But in my experience this Peace, this manna in the wilderness, sustains me even in the darkest of times. Thank You, God.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Role Models

We are doing well. Next week promises to be busy, but I am ready. C has soccer game this morning. I am a cheerer (is that even a word?)--yelling so much that I am almost hoarse. It really has been fun watching her team out on the field. As the coaches provide instruction, they are always encouraging those girls -- what great role models these adults are for all of us.
Gotta go cheer!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I found another of my favorite books the other day while unpacking more boxes. I still have many boxes that need to be unpacked scattered throughout the house...I wonder what treasures they hold?

Earthly Good: Seeing Heaven on Earth by Martha Sterne is a collection of short chapters which I guess could be called devotionals. One of my favorite chapters is Alligators. In this particular chapter, she starts out describing her parents' 50th anniversary bash.


"All of our relatives and some of their oldest friends gathered out in the country outside of Natchez, Mississippi at an old place where Mother's family has been living and re-unioning for almost two hundred years now... It's really a peaceful sort of place, a kind of dark and green paradise.

...And mostly that house party was safe harbor time. Except for one thing. This alligator showed up...

Of course, immediately, the alligator experts among us emerged."

That line about the "alligator experts" emerging makes me laugh every time I read it. (and the advice/"facts" these experts share would make Cliff from Cheers very proud ;-)

She goes onto say,


"All in all he kind of added to the party. The Game and Fish warden said he'd come out in a couple of days to trap him and take him to a new home, but then one afternoon, the alligator just disappeared-just vanished. We looked all around...He was just not anywhere to be seen. And here's something strange: if you think seeing an eight-foot-long alligator is kind of scary, try not seeing one. Terrifying.


We said he was our first alligator but he wasn't, really. I believe that most of our deepest fears are sort of alligator fears. The alligators we see--with terrifying clarity--gliding fast and hungry towards us or towards someone we love. And the alligators we don't see--the ones holding their breath, biding their time, just under the surface, waiting in the dark and the muddy places. Some of us spend our whole lives worrying about the alligators that we don't see. And then there are those of us who just jump right into alligator-infested waters, maybe because we are careless or foolish or proud or greedy or even maybe just innocent.

The alligator--the chaos, the storm, the danger, the divorce, the illness, the crisis--and the human response--what you and I do in the midst of chaos--and the presence of God in the chaos--these are profound issues of faith...God's presence even at the worst of times--that's the heart of the matter. And our trust--not in ourselves but in God--is what we work out or work to avoid working out all of our lives.


The hard news is that the Creator does not place us and our pain in the center of the universe. And we are never, ever going to control the chaos and we're never, ever going to control God, not even by doing it all right, not even by our morality, not even by our faithfulness. Job, for instance, stayed faithful through the worst that can happen...And he hurt bad and the chaos swirled anyway. And that seems like bad news to me.

But listen. Somewhere in the mystery of God--we don't know how, we don't know why--that hard word, that bad news, touches good news, touches gospel, touches grace. And the hard words of suffering and chaos and the gentle words of grace and deliverance are both true in a cross-shaped way that we cannot understand, but only experience. The mystery of God is that the Word of God speaks not only out of the storm but into the storm. The mystery of God is that the Word of God--hard and graceful--became flesh and dwelt among us, because God is Emmanuel. God is with us. And sooner or later the wind will cease. And there will be great calm."

I just love that.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


A few days ago during my quiet time, I found myself thinking about my daddy. Many of you know that he died a little over 7 years ago on Fathers' Day. I still miss him very much. I was reading something from Martha Sterne's Earthly Good: Seeing Heaven on Earth, and I was reminded of him--I could hear his voice in my head saying "coulda, shoulda, woulda" which, of course, was his way of reminding me not to look back and wonder about things in the past…they are in the past and can't be changed. He would want me to learn from these events and decisions but not to dwell on them in a negative manner.


I started remembering…his laugh, his smile, his wisdom, his encouragement. I can remember him telling me on more than one occasion "Don't let this be your problem," when I was upset because I was trying to "own" someone else's problem. I knew my daddy loved me very much. I knew I could count on him to encourage me and let me flex my wings. He was a product of his generation in that he worked long hours and left almost all the daily care of the house and family to my mom--which I am sure, was stressful and draining on her--especially when we kids were arguing and fussing and not helping too much. (That is the thing that stresses me the most as a mom!) My mom attended everything we ever did at school or after school, and my dad attended most of the important events and many of the not-so-important ones too. (I suspect my mom had a lot to do with this ;-)


He often called me "sister," and I can still hear him call me that in my mind. I can still picture him in the stands at a high school football game waving his arms and calling "Hey Sister!" while I was out on the field with my fellow Murrah Misses. Yes, I was embarrassed (and he enjoyed reminding me of that over the years ;-), but mostly I was glad my daddy was there to watch me…and that he was proud of me.


This week my daughter played in her first soccer scrimmage. Neither one of us really wanted to go--she didn't think she'd get to play (since she is junior varsity) and it was sooooo stinkin' hot (even after 6p.m.) So we went mostly to support her team. We were both awed by what happened. My precious girl got out there and rocked!!! She got in there (among girls much older than her) and kicked that ball and stayed with it…trying not to let it get away from her. I could feel Todd there in the midst of it, cheering her on, encouraging her to "stay with the ball…don't just kick it once and leave it for someone else, kick it again…don't take your eyes off the ball" just like he would when he practiced with her in the yard at our house. Our team got whooped, but that did not matter one bit to me because what I witnessed was beautiful and special. All the girls played hard…they have a great coach who encourages the right attitude of giving your best and having fun. My sweet baby girl was beaming and lighthearted when it was over, and I had such a thankful heart as we left the field. She knew her daddy was proud of her too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Something hard and cold inside me has cracked…and that is a good thing. It makes me think of the winter in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It had been a very cold and bleak winter in Narnia (and never Christmas) for as long as most anyone could remember, but then signs of the thaw began appearing. I think my thaw may be beginning…I think it is real, but I am almost afraid to believe it. If you see me in person, please don't ask me about it--just watch and see. Last night as I laid on the hot concrete with my legs in the warm pool, watching the sunset turn the sky all orangey-pink, I recognized I was content. The circumstances still suck, but I was content in my spirit. Thank You, God.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Grief Room

The latest mailing from Bereavement Services was about Grief continuing to visit and how we all have our "grief room" we escape to when it shows up. The handout talked about how each individual's "grief room" differs from others in how it is "furnished" and who is allowed in with us. I think my "grief room" is very restrictive—I don't particularly want anyone to visit me there (as most of you who are close to me already know), but I don't mind posting notes on the door (my blog or texts). There is something impersonal (yet very personal) about sharing through this blog. I generally don't know who reads it, and I can plan exactly what I want to say. When I retire to my "grief room" I want to be alone….most of the time…every now and then I can let someone visit me there. I wonder, does this make sense to anyone but me?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


God made us all so delightfully different, and yet most of the time our response to this (difference) is to be surprised and angry because we really want others to be cookie cutter images of us (both inside and out). I just finished a book that made me laugh, cry, and get angry, but it kept my attention until the very last word on the very last page. It also made me very sad...sad about how we can cruelly mistreat those who are different from us, and we often don't think a thing about it.

Some people are just plain mean, and some people are just thoughtless..and lots in between. I hurt a friend recently. I am not quite sure what I did, and this person has not elaborated, but I know the hurt is real and for that I am sad. I am also not sure which is worse: intentionally hurting someone or being so unaware of another person's feelings or needs that you unintentionally hurt them.

I am reminded of how my children cry out "but I didn't mean to!" when they've done something hurtful. Like that makes it all okay and should cancel any consequences for what they have done. How often, do we as adults, cry our own version of "I didn't mean to!" in hopes that we can avoid responsibility for our hurtful words and actions?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ready, Set, Go

This week has been rocky. I have felt pretty bad through most of it, but this afternoon for some reason, I began to be filled with hope. Hope for a good future. Hope that my children will be okay—better than okay—for they carry their daddy's love in them. Todd will always be a part of me—we traveled too long together for it to be any other way. But I also know that he would want me to keep on living…and not to act like I have died too. He was too full of life himself. I am sure there are many more rough days ahead, but I am thankful for this surge of hope.

I wrote the above comments yesterday. Today has been major ups or downs. I like my new job very much, and I am thankful that I had it to go to everyday this week. The woman that I have assisted this week is wonderful, wise and understanding. We had a lot of paperwork to do--many tasks that were tedious and required time but not too much brain power--which was just what I needed this week. The kids did well their first week back at school...but it has been a draining week for them as well. Mom and Katie have been here helping us all get back into a routine. We would never have made it to school and work on time without them. Next week I will have to get lunches and clothes ready the night before so we can all get where we need to go...I know I can do it. I am ready for this.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thank You

Just a quick update. We survived yesterday. I know this is another milestone we must go through...there is no skipping or going around. Thanks for all the texts, emails and cards you sent to encourage us and let us know you were holding us close in prayer. Yesterday evening was particularly difficult for me, but I am holding onto the promise that "joy cometh." I felt your love and prayers even through my tears.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sooo Funny (to me ;-)

I don't think I have used my turntable in over a year. I was enjoying one of my crackly Dan Folgelberg albums (the first album I played after Ron connected the turntable and speakers for me) -- I had played it twice and realized I had not heard several of the songs I remembered were on this album. It wasn't until I picked up the jacket and looked at it that I remembered you have to turn an album OVER to hear all the songs ;-) I laughed and laughed at myself! I needed a good giggle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Helping Hands

An old college friend of Todd's and mine came into town yesterday to help me with some things around the house. I now have my electronics working! I can listen to my albums (Murrah Singers, here I come! ;-) and watch Netflix on my tv! He also ran some cable wire for me and helped me change the oil in my lawnmower. Yea!! All this only required one fruitless trip to RadioShack, and two trips each to WalMart and Lowe's. The second trip to WalMart would have been laughable, but it occurred around 8:30/9 p.m. so it wasn't so funny by that time in the day. My friend was tired because he had been up in the attic and outside working during the heat of the day, and I was tired because supervising in the heat is very hard work...okay, okay, I provided the comic relief--and everyone who "does" comedy, knows how draining that can be.

I have had so many helping hands these last few months. My relatives, girlfriends and their husbands have done everything from helping me with the kids and cleaning my new house to organizing the garage and flooring the attic...and many more things in between (we can't forget moving the apple trees ;-) One friend continues to cut the grass at the old house every week even though he is married with 3 young children, and he and his wife both have very demanding jobs...he called one time to ask if *I* could do him a favor--he wanted to do some special yard work at my new house--that was *his* favor-- me letting him do this work. What a gem he is, along with the rest of you. All this is in addition to all the helping hands we had during the first few months of August, September and October of last year. Thank you, thank you. There is no way we could have made it through this year without you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ugly Season

I am just emerging from what Beth Moore calls an "ugly season." Most of you would never know (or at least I don't think you would ;-) except that I am confessing it to you right now. I am glad it was relatively short-lived. Although I have acted badly, mostly I have allowed my thoughts free reign…and as Joyce Meyer says "Where the mind goes, the man will follow. " Joyce talks a lot about how we don't have to entertain every thought that "falls into our head." I won't be providing details, but I believe many of you can relate to this struggle too. I am a thinker…I am fairly logical and try to approach problems from many different angles in order to understand…this can be used for good--or not. (Todd used to say, "Your mind scares me." J . He also used to tell me he appreciated how I could offer solutions he had not considered.) I think it really depends on my motives. Do I honestly want to find the best solution to the problem, or am I looking for the solution that most benefits me? Of course the real truth is that the best solution will benefit me as well, although it might not be the one that brings me immediate gratification. It is difficult in these ugly seasons to remember that it is a very good thing that this life is not "all about me."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marriage Vows

My emotions seem to turn on a dime these days. I am thankful that they can switch from bad to good as quickly as good to bad…at least it is not a one way street. I wish so badly that I could emerge from this to a relatively level path, but I don't think it is in the cards for now anyway. I do keep telling myself that this is the storm, and it will pass—it cannot go on forever no matter what it feels like.

Most days I feel pretty strong, and even when I am overwhelmed with grief, there is something inside me that tells me I can do this. I often cry/shriek out loud that "I don't want to do this!" but deep down I know that I can even though I don't want to. It is amazing to me the things we can do when we know we must.

My kids are beautiful (inside and out). I am so often overwhelmed by my love for them and how beautiful their sweet spirits are. They are strong also—they are fighters—and they know how much their daddy loved us. If you had asked him what he wanted to be remembered for, he would have said "for being the best dad and husband—for letting my family know how much I loved them—not saying it but DOING it." We often talked about these things—and how wonderful our little slice of life was…how although things weren't perfect that there wasn't really anything we would change because all these things together had made us who we were as individuals and as a family…and we felt very blessed. We knew that when one was down, the other would share their strength—we often laughed (and lamented) that we were never both down at the same time. Now pretty much anyone who has kids and has been married for more than 24 hours knows that there is no such thing as a "perfect" family. I don't mean to convey that we were perfect in any way, but I do want to say that when we stood on the edge and took in the panoramic view, it was very satisfying!

The thing that would make me so very happy would be that every married person reading this would love their spouse to the best of their abilities at this moment…to really show that person (the way they like to be shown, not the way you like to be shown) how important and valuable they are to you. Although I know that some of you are in extremely difficult marriages, most of us just let busyness get in the way of our priorities. Don't do that. Make the time so your family knows how much you love and value them—and this needs to happen daily, not just every now and then. If you would do this, that would make me very happy. You don't have to leave a comment, but you could email me and let me know! ;-) (My email is on my profile page if you don't have it already.) If you don't make time for a weekly "date night" then you should start. It doesn't have to be going out—Todd and I usually stayed in. We put the kids to bed, and made each other the focus of the evening. Make the time for your marriage! If your marriage is strong, your kids are going to be happy too. Don't argue with me--just do it. J I know this was preachy, but please humor me in this request. I will just go on and thank you in advance.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Learning To Let Go

I receive mail outs every month or so from the Bereavement Services arm of Hospice of West Tennessee. The latest one was titled: Getting Through The Annual Reminders of Your Loss (by Carol Luebereing), and it contained a prayer at the end. I would like to share this part as I just read it yesterday, and it seemed to resonate with the dilemma I face—learning to let go. Some of you may have read the "Holes" blog which I wrote one day (this week) and deleted the next because it was just too depressing for me. I found the prayer fascinating because it reveals just how similar the grief process must be for many of us – obviously, everyone experiences grief in their own way…but clearly there are commonalities and these must often unfold along the same basic time-line. What follows is an excerpt from this handout that is scheduled to be delivered as the first anniversary of the death approaches. Although not all of it accurately reflects my journey or my feelings, much of it seems to hit the nail squarely on the head for me.


One of the most frightening things for a bereaved person is to conceive of "letting go" of the deceased. To many, this equates with "forgetting" the person who has died. A better way to understand is to shift the focus. Whereas the life and death of a loved one has been the primary and frontal image in the life of the bereaved, the deceased begins to move slowly to the side, to accompany the bereaved on the continuing journey of life instead of being the ultimate goal. The memory remains as long as there is life, but it is no longer the reason for that life. One learns to move forward, taking memories along as companions.

This prayer is not designed to be said once and then put aside, for letting go, does not happen in a single instant. Like grief, it is a process. The prayer is meant to assist in the changing of the focus.

To: ___________________________________

Your death has left a gaping hole in my life and heart, producing an emptiness I know will never be filled. I miss your voice, the sound of your laughter, those funny endearing things you did, those moments when I was infuriated at you. I miss the dreams I had for and with you. I miss the future we will never have and the past, which, no matter how long it may have been, will never be long enough.

I have wept for you as well as for myself. I have raged in anger at you, at God, at fate, at the world, at anyone and anything, which seemed to be an appropriate target. I have tried to understand why you are no longer with me, why I have to struggle through this world without you. Some people have reached out to help me, others have turned away, unable to bear the pain I carry. I do not ask them to share it with me only to listen as I talk and cry. I have waited in the darkness for some sign that you are in a better, safer place, and even when I may have received it, I could not help but question how it could be better if I am not there with you. And I have wanted to join you so often when the aloneness threatened to overwhelm me.

Through all of this turmoil and doubt, I have managed to come this far. I have not yet achieved my goal, but at least I can now recognize that I am on the road to recovery. I am not sure how I will go on without you; no matter how many other important people may be in my life, you have always held a special place, and it is hard to imagine you not with me.

Will you walk beside me now as friend, comrade, and loving companion? I cannot come to you at this time; I can only trust that we will be reunited in God's love and compassion. But my life must go on; it is time for me to begin to live my life for others and myself. Let us then agree to explore these new existences, these spheres of reality, knowing that we carry the other with us, not with chains, but with loving, open hands.

I know you will never leave my side, as I will never leave yours. Thank you for the wonderful, unique relationship we shared. When we meet again, I look forward to sharing these new experiences with you. I love you. I miss you. I will never forget you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I am better today. I am beginning to allow God to speak comfort to me again. …I had pretty much turned my back for the last few weeks…refusing to receive because…well, because I just didn't want to. Once again, the toddler in me rages for control.

I know the next month will continue with its difficulties since anniversaries abound. July 18 we would have been married for 23 years. August 2 will be one year since this nightmare became our reality. It is also the day I start a new job--one that I believe will be very good for me. A large part of my difficulty is not wanting to let go of so many things--wanting to straddle that fence of yesterday and tomorrow. I picture myself sitting with one leg on each side of a wooden privacy fence--holding on so tightly that I am hugging the fence…and it is very uncomfortable to sit there for long. I need a new picture. I am going to try to see myself walking through a beautiful field of wild flowers…with many flowers behind me and many in front.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hell Week

This has been a hellish week emotionally. It sounds like a contradiction to say you feel "dead inside" but at the same time you experience emotional pain...but let me tell you that these states can coexist inside one person. The pain seems to have a different quality now than it did in the beginning...with a "dead" or numb quality to it (not like when it felt as if someone was gutting me like a fish)...but it is still there. It feels almost like I'm trying to move through wet sand (up to my armpits) to reach a destination, but the destination keeps changing, and it doesn't really matter because I'm not really getting anywhere anyway. I'm just so tired of fighting for every step out of this hell-hole.

As I read back over this, it sounds soooo whiny, but you know what? I don't care. It's my blog and I can whine if I want to. I know many of you have more to whine about than me, but you will just have to start your own blog. I have actually had some really good things happen this past week as well, but I don't feel like talking about them right now...I am just tired of looking at silver linings at the moment. I know it will get better--it always does.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I knew this weekend would be difficult with the fourth of July and all that goes with that highlighting Todd's absence. I started out yesterday thinking "I just don't think I can make it through this day without a breakdown"--and almost as if to ensure that would happen, I began listening to Sarah McLachlan whose haunting melodies easily drag me into melancholy...which is why I generally DON'T listen to certain kinds of music. However, as I've already mentioned, I was feeling rebellious yesterday and listened anyway. I did finally turn it off and get with the program, but I kept thinking I wasn't going to avoid a meltdown completely...I had just bought myself some time. All I wanted to do was make it through the day so that when evening came I could withdraw into myself. When you want to shut down and you can't, the frustration you feel is immense, and an emotional outburst is very likely to be the outcome.

But then something awesome happened. Friends came over to swim after lunch. I had a beer and just watched this other momma swim with the kids, and I was able to be thankful for the blessing of her presence to do what I could not--interact with anyone--at that moment. Then we decided to take the kids for an early supper (and I am still thinking I just have to make it to bedtime and I can fall apart). Then my friend suggested that she and her husband come back later in the evening and shoot fireworks with the kids. I knew that my kids would not get another opportunity for this, so I decided to go for it. We ended up with another family (close friends also) joining us--a spontaneous party of sorts. We had a ball--night swim and fireworks. The kids enjoyed it so much, and so did I. So guess what? I didn't even want to have a come apart by the time I crawled into bed around midnight. Isn't that awesome?!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I feel the seeds of rebellion growing within me...and I have to say it scares me a little. I sense an almost "I don't care" attitude trying to take hold--and that would be sooooo self-destructive since, of course, I do care. I can't decide how much rope to give this little rebellious know, I certainly don't want to hang myself when everything is said and done, but at the same time a little rebellion can be good for you. I actually believe that last statement to be a lie in this case--but I am really wanting to flirt with it...i want to use it as an excuse to act badly. I am so very tired of this roller coaster I find myself on with no way of getting off. I have never liked roller coasters...ever...but Todd loved them...he would probably just tell me to relax, enjoy the butterflies,...oh, and to make sure I had a barf bag for those really steep twists and turns.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Comfort Food

I rarely reread fiction stories I have enjoyed--I just don't seem to enjoy them so much the second time around. I do however have many non-fiction books that I return to over and over again that are like comfort food for my soul. There are a few exceptions to the fiction book category, and those include The Chronicles of Narnia books that I first enjoyed as a very young person. I can remember when I was working full-time (and getting paid ;-) and would have a hard day, I would come home, fix a drink, take a bath or just soak my feet in hottest water I could stand, and pull out one of these books. A few chapters could often soothe even the yuckiest of days.

Two books I am currently revisiting (and their dog-eared covers and pages show I have done this many times) are Blue Like Jazz and The Stars Shone in My Hands. It is like spending time with an old friend who "gets me" but still stretches me to grow--giving me food for thought.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Talking (or Not)

I got together with friends several weeks ago. There were two friends at this gathering who had lost a parent at a very young age...a woman who lost her mother at 9 years old and a man who lost his father at 5 years old. In case you don't know, those were almost the exact ages of my children when Todd died last year.

As we talked about how the kids were doing, the woman said something very comforting. She said that she thought that God blesses children with a degree of healthy shock throughout their childhood...that this had protected her from having to face the full assault of her grief as a child. She also said she carried her mother's love inside her and that got her through many trials that resulted from the shift in family dynamics. The man is one of strong character, who reminds me a lot of Todd in his easy manner, quiet ways, and perfect contentment to just hang out and not be the center of attention. Over the years, his wife and I have often compared the two (he and Todd) and given thanks that our respective mates balanced us for the good. These two beautiful and strong people are living testimonies to me that although my children will certainly bear some scars, they can still move beyond this tragedy to a happy and healthy future.

Much later that night, there were just 3 of us left. We talked in more detail than I have in quite some time about all that happened. It is very difficult for me to talk about it (meaning the events of that weekend, the events in the aftermath or how I have handled emotional things up until now) as a continuous stream of events, but I was more able that night. I usually experience my grief on a cellular level when I do talk about it...I can't really explain it other than that--my entire body experiences a shut-down of sorts when I begin to share the story. I was okay that night while we were talking, but the next morning when I woke up, I had that same feeling of grief and sadness touching every cell in my body. I thought about why I had this delayed reaction to it after a few hours sleep. I recently read that you should "talk, talk, talk" about it as much as possible to help you move through your grief, but I was unconvinced that I needed to "talk, talk, talk" and threw the paper in the trash in aggravation that I had been sent yet another "5 easy steps to overcoming this great loss in your life." (That's not what these mail outs really say, but that is what I choose to "read" between-the-lines.) Maybe the talking is more necessary than I think (although I am still not ready to do it on any kind of regular basis), and maybe it peels away a little more of the onion each time I do. I spent some quiet time that morning thinking about two things in particular that I guess I needed to process, and I felt a surge of (good) adrenalin as I picked these things apart and considered them. Maybe if I will open myself up to talking about things a little bit more, some of this grief will release its hold. I will just have to get back to you on that because at this moment the thought of talking about any of it sickens me, but this idea makes perfect sense along the lines of "facing things head on" being healthy for you in the long run. At any rate, I keep plugging along.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer and Beyond

The kids and I took a week-long vacation to DC with the Randolphs. We had a great time, and the kids enjoyed their first flight--turbulence and all.

Back at home, I am trying to tie up loose ends at the old house. The pool is still lacking cement around it although the kids can swim in it. It will be nice to have that all finished up. Kids will be out of school in another week. My part-time job has temporarily ended. I enjoyed it very much, but I know I will enjoy the summer with my kids too. I am waiting and watching (and getting my resume together to distribute) to see what doors will open next as far as employment this fall. Emotionally and physically I am feeling stronger. Still have good days and not so good but overall just feeling healthier in general...not so tired all the time.

Hope all is well with you guys. Gotta go cut some grass.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Strength for the Journey

I won't back down,
No, I won't back down.
You can stand me up at the gates of hell,
but I won't back down.

...gonna stand my ground,
...gonna keep this world from draggin' me down,

no, I won't back down.

Words from
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty

I really like just about anything Tom Petty, but I have always loved this song. There are many hurting people out there--and some of these people do their best to whip you down to numb their own pain. Because Christ lives in me, I am stronger than I ever thought possible because He is able when I am not.

"Gonna keep this world from draggin' me down,
no, I won't back down."

Saturday, May 1, 2010


It has been raining hard in West TN since last night...and no let-up in sight until tomorrow afternoon. There is already much flooding with this very slow moving storm...and it looks to get worse before it all ends. For those of you who grew up with me in Jackson, MS, you will remember the terrible flooding from the Easter Flood of 1979. This reminds me of that, but I hope I am wrong. I can still remember the devastation all around north Jackson-- people returned to their homes to find almost everything ruined and destroyed from the flood waters that had come so high into their homes. I almost think if I concentrate hard enough, I could remember the horrible smell that accompanied the receding waters.

The weather report just stated that some places have received over 6 inches of rain in the last 6 hours. It is bad.

My city has actually avoided the worst so far, but almost every other area is being hammered. Please keep the people in these communities in your prayers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Follow-Up to Birthdays and Stuff

With Nikki's suggestion (see comments on Birthdays and Stuff), I was able to make Todd's birthday a celebration of his life in a way I did not anticipate. It seems so obvious now what a perfect idea that was. I usually celebrate birthdays with cake and presents and getting together with family and friends because that day is "about me," but I think from now on I will celebrate my birthday (and Todd's) by doing something special for others so that it is not "about me" (or my grief over the loss of Todd), but about giving thanks for the gift of life (and the gift of Todd's life). I didn't include my children in this year's surprise activities, but next year we will do this together and begin a tradition that will honor their daddy's birthday in a healing way.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

Psalm 126: 5 - 6

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Birthdays and Stuff

Friday is Todd's birthday. Luke's is Sunday. We thought Luke would be a birthday gift the year he was born, and he was, kind of--but I guess he decided he wanted his own day to celebrate, so he just sort of hung out for a couple of extra days. Todd never forgot my birthday (or our anniversary, or the kids' birthdays, or his family's birthdays, etc.), but I did forget his one year...I can still remember grading exams when I got a call from a dear friend wanting to wish Todd a "happy birthday." I panicked--my mind raced as I tried to grasp exactly what he was saying on the other end of the phone and I tried to remember what the day's date was. I had prepared NOTHING! Our friend helped me pull together dinner by providing potatoes and some kind of meat he had grilled or smoked that day, and I quickly made a cake so that when Todd arrived home from work he was unaware I had totally forgotten...until I narked on myself...I've never been one to be able to hide stuff like that--I always feel a need to confess. We laughed about it, and I never forgot again...although last year I did accidentally schedule a girl's trip at the same time as his and Luke's birthdays...I was mortified when I realized what I had done, but Todd just laughed about it and told me to ahead and go on the trip as scheduled. I went on the trip, but I met up with the family in Bowling Green (Corvette Museum) on Luke's actual birthday. Todd was so good natured about things like that...he rarely cared if he was "neglected." He taught me a lot about not taking things personally and rolling with the flow of things (although I have not achieved his level of success in this area).

I have begun to recall even more good things. I finally remember the affectionate names he called me. I remember the smell and feel of his neck when I would bury my face in it , and I remember the softness of his cheek right after he shaved. I remember the look on his face and expression in his eyes when he shared something he was excited about. I also remember how I could shut him down with a word or two that expressed my lack of enthusiasm...that memory I could do without. I guess it's a packaged deal, though, huh?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good Day

I had a good day today and yesterday...and even the day before that. That's pretty darn great--three days in a row! I know there will be more difficult days ahead, but I am going to enjoy the reprieve for however long it lasts. More good news: I slept 9 1/2 hours last night...I cannot remember the last time I slept that long. Hallelujah!!

I have a thankful heart today. That, in itself, is amazing since I have been angry and ungrateful (to varying degrees) for quite some time now. My poor family and friends who see me on a regular basis are probably going to get t-shirts that say "I survived the wrath of Susan" by the end of this first year...but thankfully (for real) they never let on that they are frustrated with me. Thank you all, who continue to stand by me in the face of my neglect and my ugliness. May God bless you as you have blessed me with your servant's hearts.

One thing that has made these last few days particularly nice is that I have had a new wave of memories of Todd. Sweet memories that are filled with good emotion...not like the photo snap-shot memories I have been having. I hated that I couldn't really hear, in my mind, the sound of his voice or laugh...and now I can. The psychologist told me I would recall these things over time, but it is difficult to explain how awful it feels to have spent the last 26 + years of your life with someone and have very 2-D memories instead of the rich 3-D one's you long for. I can't really explain it, so this may not make sense to anyone but me...but that's okay because it is a very good and satisfying thing. At least twice I have even had the whisper of the thought that I needed to check in with Todd. Once, when I was leaving the park after a walk, in the back of my mind swirled the thought that I should go by and see if he needed me to do anything for him, like make the daily deposit or something. I know it was because the park is near his work, and whenever the kids and I left the park we always went by his office and said "hi" and checked to see if he needed anything. And today, I went shopping in a neighboring town...I was gone longer than I expected to be, and when I got in my car to head home I again had a moment where I thought I should call him to let him know I was running late. These things might sound like they should make me sad, but they don't --they are comforting for some reason. Like a veil has been lifted between me and my memories. I would say months 7 and 8 have been pretty hellish, but I have survived. I have lots of hope that the worst part of winter is nearing its end and "spring is coming."
Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pressing On

This was a difficult weekend. Actually it's been a extraordinarily difficult few weeks. It feels a little like my heart is being ripped up and trampled on all over again. I love my new home, but I still miss the old one (where we lived very happily as a family of four) and all its good memories. I haven't really wanted to do anything much, but there is much to be done. Some days it has been very easy to slip into a pity party, but for the most part I'm just sad. I know a lot of it is being hammered with the many decisions that must be made...decisions that Todd and I have always made together. I have had a lot of help, and for that I am sooooooooooo thankful.

I am still not totally moved out. Each time I go back to the house, I am assaulted by emotions as I look around at a home that is clearly not lived in any more, but is not yet empty of the things that once resided in a cheerful household--and I know that no matter what I do I can't reconstruct it in another location...and to try, of course, would be unhealthy. Making healthy emotional choices is sometimes a real struggle and sometimes not so much, but that was pretty much true for me even before August 2. Overall, though, I think I am headed in the right direction, and everything I see in my children tells me they are too.

Hang tough.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Deep Roots

No one really believes my apple trees will survive. Yesterday I had to remove all the flowering buds from them in an effort to save them. I have been told that is the only hope there is. By removing these buds I am allowing the trees' resources/energy to be redirected to the roots. I have been told I have transplanted them at the absolutely worst time possible as they were just beginning to bud. In the week since they were transplanted these buds have flowered which gave me false hope (that they were thriving in spite of all the shock) but apparently this activity was sapping necessary resources away from the roots...and I know that without well-established roots a plant can't survive for the long haul.

I cried as I began to clip the flowering buds. It just seemed like more loss on top of so much loss already, and I was just emotionally pissed that I was having to do it...but I didn't want any one else to do it. If it had to be done, I wanted it to be me. Now all this may seem silly over a couple of trees, but it wasn't silly to me at that moment. As I continued to clip and cry, I felt a sense that God understood exactly how I felt, but that this pruning was necessary for the greater good of the trees so it had to be done. It strengthened me somehow, and I was able to continue with new resolve. I had gone in to get my mp3 player so I could listen to music as I worked, and a few minutes after my new resolve kicked in there was a conversation (of course, when you want music on the radio it is nowhere to be found) going on about how even when we are acutely aware of the great suffering in the world, it is still so easy for us to slip into ungratefulness for what we have. That was not exactly how the radio personalities said it, but that was how I understood it. How quickly I choose to focus on what's missing at the expense of appreciating all that is there.

How many of us as parents have actually encouraged this attitude in our children by failing to prune the flowers because we think it will be too painful for us? We have allowed the buds to flower at the expense of deep roots...and we all know they will desperately need those deep roots as they grow into adulthood. Deep roots are essential in order to thrive (not just survive) spiritually, physically and emotionally. As Scott Peck says in the first line of his book, The Road Less Traveled, "Life is difficult." God has gifted us with the privilege (yet serious responsibility) of helping to grow these deep roots in our children, and it has been my experience that apart from Him this is not possible.

I don't feel I have quite fleshed this out like I would like too, but it is time to post it and get going. I am sure I will continue to think about this in the days to come. I said at the beginning that "no one really believes my apple trees will survive." That is not completely true. I do--or at least some part of me does. Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Peaceful Evening

I am sitting on my back porch enjoying a glass of red wine. The weather is perfect...warm and breezy. My kids have gone to visit Todd's parents and sisters as they do most weekends...I miss them, but I am so happy that Todd's family is close. I know it will keep them connected to their dad in a special way. The insects are buzzing...I just had to put Race (the dog) in his kennel because he was playing a bit rough with the cat...but he will be back out here in a bit to sit beside me. May you have a peaceful evening where ever you find yourself...enjoy it to the fullest.

Deer Sighting

I saw the four deer again this morning...Caley and Luke got to join me this time! Luke sat out on the couch and watched them for about 30 minutes, and Caley said "thank you for showing us that, momma!" They are so beautiful and awesome to watch.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I wrote that nice little blog this morning, and if you could have been a fly on the wall at my house tonight you would see why I should not be a role model for anyone. I wanted to throw down and have a temper tantrum to show my children how bad they were behaving. ( there is a winning solution for you) In fact, I did have a bit of one...Luke's eyes got really would have been funny, if I hadn't felt so scary inside. Why does it take so much energy to hold onto your maturity once it starts slipping away? I am confident that after a good night's rest all will seem better. (Boys and girls, this temper tantrum was performed by an expert. You should not try this at home.)

Even though I am joking about this, I would appreciate your prayers in this area. It was not at all funny when I wanted to explode all over the place. One important aspect of parenting for me has been being intentional about what I expect from my children. When I am intentional and focused (and NOT easily distracted which is my nature), my household is fairly peaceful...well I guess I have to get up, dust myself off, and get back in the saddle in the morning.

Beautiful Paradoxes

I haven't seen any deer the last few mornings, but I did get to see a beautiful moon a bit ago. It was so full and bright when I first looked out, and a little later, when it was lower on the horizon and the sun was about to come up, it was a beautiful shade of orange-yellow. Breathtaking.

This is Holy Week for those of us who celebrate the Resurrection and Good Friday is always followed by Easter. This time of deep reflection on our personal relationship with Christ spotlights the fact that He gave all of himself to us and willingly suffered the consequences of that loving act. Holy Week is the last week of Lent and specially focuses on the last week of our LORD's life and the events leading up to his death and resurrection. I am not sure why, but this has always been my favorite week of the church year. The somberness of Maundy Thursday's stripping of the altar for Good Friday, and Good Friday's grief, followed by the joyous celebration on Sunday morning creates a beautiful contrast. In all the Episcopal churches I have attended, the congregation participates in the gospel reading of the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday (which is the Sunday before Easter). There are individuals who read the parts for Jesus, Pilate, and others, but the congregation as a whole participates as the crowd who demands "crucify him, crucify him." When I read my part of the Passion narrative each year --"Crucify him, Crucify him!" --I am reminded that often my thoughts and actions reflect a heart that is indeed crying "crucify him!" Paradoxically, I do not feel condemned by this fact, but instead I am strangely encouraged that even though God knew that I would fail regularly, He created me anyway, and He loves me more than I can imagine...and His love for me is not dependent on my response to him. He loves me enough to give me the gift of free will/choice--a very dangerous gift to give someone you love--and still call to me of His great love for me in the moments of my worst choices. He has given us eyes to SEE and ears to HEAR. I want to use mine to draw closer to Him in good times and in bad. I have had some practice with the bad times these past months, and I have noticed that when I put my hands over my eyes and ears to shut Him out, I am even more miserable. He is Light, and the Light is real and shines even in my deepest darkness.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Todd could pretty much fix anything. That was one of the many things I loved about him. I always felt so secure when things went wrong. My first thought was usually "thank goodness Todd will know what to do." All I had to do was call him at work with the predicament, and he would usually have a plan to fix it by the time he got home. He was always so good about explaining things to the kids too...he would let them help with almost any project--whether it was working on motorcycles or making biscuits.

This move has been made difficult not necessarily by what I've had to do, but rather by how it has highlighted his absence. I had many friends offer to help with this or that, but other than a few odd jobs, I was unable to accept their kindness because their presence would have just highlighted his absence...which has been so painful these last 7 1/2 months. I basically just wanted Todd or no one. I am bad about biting off my nose to spite my face, but honestly I just didn't have the "umpf" to communicate the directions that would need to be given...Todd would have been in charge of giving the directions if he were here, and I did not want his job. My mom, sister (they have sort of developed an understanding of my grunts and angry outbursts and do a pretty good job of interpreting the overall meaning of what I want done...they are also very good about asking if I want to do certain things or if it is okay for them taking down Todd's pictures...and they never dreamt of going into our closet to pack up his stuff...they are very respectful of sacred ground and I love them for it) and I have packed up the small boxes of this and that, and I hired movers to get the big stuff. My brother-in-law came up for most of the week and tackled all the odd jobs that Todd would have done, like moving the computers, putting up curtain rods, and installing the garbage disposal. I think Todd would like it that Joe did these things. He always liked Joe very much for his quiet ways and sense of humor. On moving day a friend brought us breakfast at our old house and then she and another friend provided supper at our new house...very much appreciated. Moving day was difficult...I felt, as the movers moved the large pieces of furniture out of our house, that I was watching my life being dismantled before me...if my kids hadn't been nearby I think I would have laid down on the concrete and never wanted to move again...but instead, I put on my smiley face and faked it as best I could...

Two college friends came and helped move the apple trees Todd planted several years ago. I am so grateful, because as we all talked about, I could have hired someone to do it but it wouldn't have been the same. One of them joked "if somebody's gonna kill these trees, it's gonna be us." That made me laugh...and I really did feel like Todd would have said, "Susie, was this really necessary? Couldn't you just plant new trees?" But it was necessary to me, and perhaps the very fact that he wouldn't have moved the trees but planted new ones made it okay for them to move them for me. All the same, I was a little off all afternoon, not really knowing what to do with myself.

One of our strengths as a couple was that we worked through a lot of things together as a team...we thought so differently that we were each able to point out solutions the other would never have thought of. I miss that. (Of course, anyone who has been married for any time at all also knows the potential this "thinking differently" has to aggravate--but really if we could truly appreciate one another for our differences I think we would be blessed more than not.) I miss so much about him, but I am having to learn to function without him because that is just how it is. Overall I think I am doing very well (although some of you may beg to differ, but please don't) for the circumstances, but the problem is that the circumstances just suck.

Well, I have rambled a lot today, but those are the threads that have been floating around in my head so that is what you get ;-) I thank all of you who have helped, offered to help, and/ or continue to hold us in your prayers. I love you all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Filled With Hope

I am listening (again) to the music from Steven Curtis Chapman's latest CD, beautywillrise, as I write this. I cannot adequately convey what these songs mean to me...listening to my own thoughts and hopes and questions mirrored in such a beautiful way.

This morning during my quiet time, I was directed by my Bible study to read Romans 15:13.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. " (NIV)

When I turned to it and read it, my heart actually leaped inside my chest, and I felt as if I might burst I was so encouraged and filled with hope. I realize now that as I signed off of yesterday's post, I had the seed of this verse growing inside me--and then to see it actually written on the page this morning was overwhelming (in the best sort of way) indeed.

May your day be filled with hope.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

He's Not Finished With Me Yet

Well, it's been over a week since I last checked in...things are moving fast. We hope to be in the new house by middle of next week.

I was thinking this morning about how I wake up almost every morning with a sense of excitement and anticipation about the day...even if it is 2:30 in the morning when I wake up for the day. What a gift that has been. I can't say that it always lasts (in fact it often doesn't) through the entire day, but to be able to start each day like that is truly wonderful. I love the quiet time early in the morning before the day "gets messy"... this time of solitude, study, reflection and prayer is extremely life-giving for me. There is so much I don't understand about life, and I have many unanswered questions. However, I do know that the changes inside my once-stone heart are for real...and I know Who is responsible for those changes. I may have asked for them, but those changes were way beyond my ability to achieve. Of course, there is a lot more work to be done...but as Brandon Heath's song plays in my head, "He's not finished with me yet."

I wish you all joy and peace this day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Road Ahead

I closed on the house as planned. Now come the real decisions. Everyone is asking when I plan to move--the problem with this is that I do not know the answer. I originally thought I would not move until I had a few things done at the new house, but it is looking more and more like I will just wake up one day soon and say "today is the day." The kids said they were ready, and so am I. It will probably still be the middle of April before we really get settled, but I think I will go ahead and start moving some things this weekend.

Many of you don't know that I have started a part-time job at the local community college. It is perfect for me. I get to choose my working hours, and the job comes with very little responsibility...other than showing up and working when I say I will. I am helping students in the computerized math lab. I get to help, and the students are happy to have my help (after all, I have nothing to do with their grade ;-)...I am actually getting to do my favorite part of teaching...and that is teaching (go figure). The people I work with are wonderful...helpful, kind, considerate, and don't take themselves too seriously...and everyone genuinely smiles and laughs...just the right mix for a work environment. If I had run an add for the personalities I'd like to work with, I couldn't have done better. Every math department I have been associated with has been this awesome to be able to say that.

Things are rolling along, and we are trying to roll with them. There are many things about this house and neighborhood that we will miss, but there is much that we won't. I know it is time for a fresh start no matter how difficult that road looks right now. Honestly, how can it can be any more difficult than the one we have already traveled? My Kids and I are ready, willing and able--so here we go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Covered Wagon Girl

I have a friend who used to tease me a lot that she wouldn't be surprised at all to drive by our house and see a covered wagon in the driveway. I think she decided this primarily based on our decisions to home school our children and go without cable tv for a while. (I think it was the cable tv decision that really pushed her over the edge...we live so far from a large city that if you don't get cable--or satellite--you pretty much don't get nothin' ! ;-)

Somehow this came up again the other day. I was saying that when Todd was alive there really was some part of me that romanticized that way of life and kind of wanted us to pack up and "go out west" away from all the busyness of life and keep things simple. However, I knew the realities of having to stuff my own mattress or wring the chicken's neck were not really what I craved...or part of my "go west" fantasy. (One of my friends said it so well, "I want to be out in the fresh air and large spaces during the day, but I want to go to McDonald's when it's time to eat." ;-)

So I started thinking about what exactly attracted me to that picture of life. I stumbled upon something that really resonated inside of me...Ma's china least I think it was a shepherdess ;-) She had one cherished knickknack that she carefully packed and unpacked (only after Pa had put up a special shelf for it) each time the family moved. One...can you imagine having only one cherished knickknack instead of the the hundreds (if not thousands) of "un"cherished knickknacks we collect and move around with us? I think maybe that this romanticized/sanitized version of Little House I crave has to do with the uncluttered lifestyle they chose to live. They often left many of their possessions behind as they loaded up the wagon to move out--all of them things they had built or prepared with their own hands, putting in much care, time and energy. Each time the Ingall's arrived at a new homestead, the entire family had to help prepare it because they had walked away (or driven--in their covered wagon, of course) from almost everything I would consider necessities and would never leave behind. What would it mean to not be so attached to so many "things"--even the things in which we have invested much of our care, time and energy?

I would appreciate your prayers regarding this for I know that on my own I will be deceived and potentially end up bringing all my "stuff" with me (and I think you probably understand I mean this on more than one level). I am hoping that with this new move, I will choose wisely. Choose what special treasures to take with me and what to leave behind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Limbo (or wanting to)

I find myself in a strange place--in between a strong desire to hang on to what was and a strong desire to move forward. It is agony between raging at God about what has happened and being thankful to Him for His tender care in the between wanting to just check out emotionally and (thankfully) a stronger desire to push through the pain. I just threw my shoes across the house and threw myself on the bed and screamed and cried and kicked because I feel like I am the rope in an awful game of tug-of-war.

I am supposed to close on a house this Friday. I am caught in between an intense desire to run away from everything (including the new house) and the desire for a fresh start. I am caught between knowing it is time to move forward (not forget, but to truly recognize I cannot get back to the way things were) and feeling so sad about doing this...there is an element of guilt in that sadness also.

I know that spring is coming, but winter does not want to give up its hold...the groundhog says so...and so do my emotions. But emotions aren't truth, they are just a reflection of our perception of the truth. I know that God has planted a strong desire for healing and health inside me...and when I think I can't walk anymore, He reminds me of my children and His strength to keep me from fainting, and I find I can keep walking. My children do not need a momma who is checked out and not available to them, and His strength enables me to be the momma they do need. That is truth.

Even though I find myself overwhelmed with grief this week, I will not lose my hope that, with Help, I can push my way through this frozen, hard earth to the fresh air and sunshine. Winter will give up its hold, and spring will come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Missing Todd

Things I miss about Todd:

I miss him walking through the door in the late afternoon. I would ask how his day went and as he hugged me or the kids, he would smile and reply "It's much better now."

I miss his laughter. When he found something really funny, his whole body was involved in the laugh. He would bend over at the waist and put his hands on his knees or sometimes one hand on the counter and the other fist in front of his mouth and just let loose...tears running down his face. He had a great laugh.

I miss watching him teach the kids about how to work on cars and motorcycles and all manner of other things...asking them to get tools and showing them how to use them.

I miss watching him make biscuits with the kids.

I miss watching him read to the kids.

I miss watching him play with the kids.

I miss sitting on his lap, putting my head against his shoulder and him wrapping his arms around me.

I miss watching the kids fly to him as soon as they realized he was home from work.

I miss seeing his face light up when we came to visit him at work.

I miss him telling me "You're my rock."

I miss him telling me how much he loved me.

I miss him telling me I was beautiful.

I miss holding his hand.

I miss his kiss.

I miss his balance to me and my personality. He always said we made a good team, and I always agreed.

I miss how the kids would holler "It's Daddy!" and run down the stairs when they would hear the garage door open. (One of their friends who witnessed this on many occassions told her mother that she bet Caley and Luke missed hearing the garage door when Mr. Todd got home and that she guessed it was hard for them (C and L) to hear that sound now.)

I miss his encouragement, and his belief in me.

I miss him telling me "feed them fish heads" which was his way of telling me not to worry what anyone else thought.

I miss him telling me that I was a great mom and wife.

I just miss...him.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rough Places Smooth

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

I almost named this blog "Rough Places Smooth" in reference to this verse from Isaiah, which has been one of my anchors for the last few years--and particularly these past months. I love the imagery. I turn to it at least once a week, if not more. I love reading the words on the page, but I am also thankful that it is written on my heart so that it can be whispered back to me when I am in need--which is often. After it comes to mind, I usually find myself speaking it out loud. There is something about hearing the words with my ears and not just reciting them in my mind that brings me comfort, strength and encouragement. I am reminded that even though the path looks unfamiliar to me, I have a trusted Guide that knows the way and He is able to "turn the darkness into light...and make the rough places smooth."