Monday, December 5, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I am cleaning house—literally and figuratively. Literally, because I am going through and trying to de-clutter yet again. Figuratively because the ugliness inside me is threatening to take over and this mess has got to be cleaned up. It is necessary, and there is absolutely no way of avoiding it if I want to remain sane.
Back in September I was asked if I would tell my story of healing in the aftermath of tragedy. I needed to hear stories of survival when my life was freshly shattered, so I decided to speak in hopes that it would encourage others. Well, isn't that just the way things work…you spout off about how far you've come only to land flat on your bottom immediately following such a confession. I prayed about it beforehand, and I still believe it was the right thing to do, but I have been challenged in many ways since releasing "my story of healing" for public consumption. Mainly because this story isn't finished, but once part of your story is out there, you can't take it back. You can't invite people in and then change your mind and say "this is off limits." But that is exactly what I find myself wanting to do. It has been an adjustment, particularly when my students have come up to me after reading the article. The reality is that some days I really feel up to sharing my journey, and other days I just want to be separate from the entire world.
More recently, I gave a deposition regarding the events surrounding my husband's murder. I really thought I was fine in the first hours after I gave the deposition, but I have become increasingly angry and sad. I have been brought to my knees (again, both literally and figuratively speaking) many times during the two weeks since my deposition. There are times I seriously consider is any of this worth the fight? But I find myself getting back up on my feet each time—not really knowing how I got there or how long I will remain solidly upright. It can be days, and then, again, it can only be hours. I have no fuse left, so the time between internal explosions is very unpredictable.
Such silly stuff sets me off. Today I got a pretty big splinter in my finger while I was dusting an old frame on a work award I received many years ago. Coming across the award had already made me focus on Todd for a variety of reasons. I went from okay to pissed off and crying in the span of about 10 minutes. Todd could always get a splinter out, and I have never been able to. I threw the award in the trash. My daughter asked if I was okay (knowing I wasn't, of course). I banged a closet door with my fists and yelled 'NO! I miss your daddy!" Maybe I can get" Drama Queen of the Year" since I know "Mother of the Year" is officially out (and was WAAAAY before this incident).
So my house needs serious cleaning. It is definitely a job that requires outside Help. I waffle back and forth between wanting the job done and slamming the door on anything that smacks of goodness and light--behaving like a person who believes she must clean before the "house cleaner" comes. Thankfully, it doesn't work like that with God. He's knocking, but He's a gentleman. He's not expecting me to clean myself up before He gets to work…but I do have to choose to open the door.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
I spent the afternoon with a dear, old (yes, as in friends for 30 years, old) who came for a visit and to help with a few things around the house…like getting the cobwebs down from the vaulted ceiling and changing burned out security lights. We don't see each other too often these days, but we always have good conversation and laughter when we do. He misses Todd too, and he is still very angry. We are like family, so we can pretty much tell each other anything. He listens to me and I listen to him—whether we agree or not is a different story, but we always listen.
I started thinking about how I have been blessed with many enduring friendships--some of which span several decades. These friends move in and out of my life at different times, but it really does seem that although we change during our time apart, these friendships are very easy to drop back into. I can't pretend I am something I'm not with these people—because they know better. They have seen me at my worst and at my best…and they know that both of these contribute to the person I have grown to be. They know I am capable of very bad judgment and spreading ugliness, and they also know I am capable of sharing goodness and Light. They may not know my beginning and end, but they have experienced quite a lot of the in-between. No masks necessary. Whew. That is a relief (and refuge) in a culture that seems hell-bent on molding us into cookie cutter images of one another…with cookie-cutter definitions of beauty, success and happiness and the recommendation to use frosting (liberally) to cover over all those pesky imperfections.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Todd was always a very good baker. He made mouth-watering carrot cakes and apple pies, but he was probably most famous among family and friends for his biscuits. When someone would ask how he came to be such a biscuit pro, he would always tell the story of his grandmother and how she would make biscuits every morning. She had a "biscuit bowl" she always used….if I recall correctly, it always had flour in it, and she just added more flour as needed, and Crisco and buttermilk each morning.
He lived with "Bubba" and Grandpa while finishing high school. (He adored her. Everyone did. Her spirit was one of gentleness, love and generosity. ) After he was on his own (we might have even already been married at the time), he asked her about making biscuits and made his first batch. He would tell you they came out like hockey pucks, but he laughed that I ate them anyway (because I was in love ;-) . Well the other night, with my mom and sister visiting, I decided to try making biscuits . Guess what? Those biscuits came out just like hockey pucks, and they ate them anyway because they love me. I guess I need more practice. Luke tells me I will never make them as good as Daddy—"No offense, Momma, but you know Daddy made the best biscuits." That makes my heart smile because both my kids have such fond memories of making biscuits with their dad, and I want them to hold tight to those memories. So I will make them from time to time in salute to Todd, but I will always know who is Biscuit King in our kitchen. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
My discount card for the local grocery store is one Todd set up using his work phone number. I can never find my card so when I want to use it, I just rattle off that phone number and the cashier punches it in and wha-la, instant discount. The other day I had the strangest thing happen. I had been in the store not a week earlier and spouted off the phone number as usual, but this day I could not remember it. I tried several numbers but they were all wrong. I finally told the cashier to forget it, I couldn't remember it. I left the store befuddled. I have probably repeated this number to a cashier once a week or so for 6 or 7 years, and within the span of a few days I had totally forgotten it. I never could remember it. I finally realized that it was probably still stored in my phone, and it was. As I read the number, it didn't have the quick feel of remembrance I expected. I had to say the number over several times to myself before it seemed to stick. It didn't particularly bother me, it was just very weird. I decided it must be my psyche's way of saying it is time to release that from my memory.
Monday, October 17, 2011
(This is a long and rambling post. )
It has been over two years since Todd died, and I am starting to feel life flow through my veins again. My circumstances are really not much different than they were the day after he died, but I have been given the gift of peaceful living in the present. The last few weeks, I have really been able to receive this gift for the most part. The days or moments when I refuse it, I feel so ugly inside. And the worst thing about feeling ugly inside is that this ugliness has a way of spewing onto others, especially those whom you love most dearly and know you best. I guess precisely because they do love you.
What I had begun to learn before Todd died, and I continue to learn, and will probably always have to study on, is that no other person can satisfy you the way God can. No other person is always going to deliver whatever it is you need (or think you need). No other person can make you "happy," nor can any set of perfect circumstances. In my experience, the circumstances of life never align perfectly like the stars. We fool ourselves a lot of times, though, thinking "what if?"
When Todd was alive, I would pray that Todd, Luke, Caley and I would draw closer to God, because in doing so, we would draw closer to one another. I would actually picture it in my mind…this drawing closer to God pulling us closer to one another as well. Now I believe Todd is actually united with Christ in a particular way that is too much for my brain to wrap around, but I have faith that it is beyond thoughts and words in surprising and marvelous ways. So, I continue to pray that Luke, Caley and I will draw closer to God, and in so doing, we continue to draw closer to Todd.
I don't want to spend my time thinking about the "what if's" –I want to focus on the "what is." The reality is that Todd's physical presence will never be with us again in this lifetime. The reality is that we will love and miss him forever. The reality is that we are strong and want to spend the days we have left on this earth living and singing praises to the One in whom we will all be reunited one day. I know where my strength comes from, and I am sharing that knowledge with my children. Caley, Luke and I are all strong (even when we are weak) because our faith is not in ourselves alone.
This afternoon, we were listening to the soundtrack to the musical "Annie" and Caley stopped the song "It's a Hard-Knock Life" and said "this song is really a sad one, isn't it?" I told her that, yes, it was. That there was truth in those lyrics and that some children do live in circumstances beyond cruel. I don't want to deny the reality of human suffering, and it can't be explained away, but I also don't want to leave them with the misunderstanding that the story ends there. I went on to tell her that although we couldn't know exactly how, that I believe that God's redeeming love was at work in the midst of all that, just like it is with us; and that there are many instances of people who have suffered horrible injustices as children, who grow up to tell their stories of God's redemption of their pain.
Tonight we were watching Eragon, and we had to pause the movie several times to talk about things. Like when Brom dies, and we knew Brom is Eragon's dad, Luke wanted to talk about how that reminded him about Daddy dying. There were tears and some laughter (Luke still thinks he wants to marry me or Caley ;-) , but it was okay, because we are not denying our grief nor letting it control us—when the grief monster shows up, we let him out and then ask him to move on. (We certainly don't try to convince him he doesn't exist!) During the big battle scene at the end of the movie, we were talking about fighting evil and not being afraid. And I was able to tell my children, truthfully, that I am not afraid to fight anything because I know I will either whip the foe or die trying and then I would go home to be with God…so to me it is a win-win situation. I want my kids to know their momma is not afraid of anything that lies ahead of us. I want them to know that I am confident, not in myself, but in the One who loves me enough to never leave me…the same One who will never leave them…the same One who has gathered Todd to Himself.
I am so thankful my kids ask questions and are willing to talk about what's going on inside them. (Even if sometimes all I can do is hug them and answer "I don't know.") I don't want them to be manipulated by unhealthy fear of any kind because I tried to sweep things under the rug or I didn't take the time to recognize their fears…their fears that I may die too, their fears about feeling safe, and so on. The reality is that I will die some day. I don't think it will be any time soon, but I am well aware that anything can happen…and they are too.
We had some family worship time today. Luke wanted to begin our time with the song "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," and Caley wanted to end our time with "Joyful, Joyful" which concludes its first verse (and the only one we know by heart) with the expectant words "Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day." These songs seemed to be perfect bookends for this time together. We held hands in a circle while we sang "Joyful, Joyful," and their sweet voices were singing loudly and my heart was full--bursting with joy.
Two years ago, I could not begin to imagine that I would "burst with joy" ever again.
Friday, October 7, 2011
I actually wrote this post back in September. I occasionally scroll through my "recent documents" list for just such things. I have no idea sometimes why I didn't post. Was I in a hurry? Did I think it wasn't finished? No clue on this one. So here it is.
I am really in a pretty good place right now, but this evening I just feel icky. A little like a worried hypocrite…just a bad combination all the way around. I don't like worrying…so I hate it when I succumb to its pull. It is absolutely, positively, hands-down the worst waste of time…but I do it occasionally any way...just for kicks. Today is one of those days I would have looked at Todd and just said "I need a hug." He would have delivered. Caley said earlier this evening (as she has been doing more lately) "I wish Daddy was here." I usually just say, "I do too."
My daughter confessed to feeling angry inside, and since I was feeling ugly inside too, we (Luke too) threw ourselves on her bed and kicked and screamed (into the mattress) and flailed our arms until we had spent a lot of the pent up energy. We all felt a little better…until Luke wanted to kiss her (he is a huggy/kissy kind of guy, but basically he does this to push her buttons because he knows that SENDS her over the EDGE).
When I feel overwhelmed I notice that I seem to get dissatisfied with everything. I also subconsciously begin trying to figure out the future. Oh, my prayer is for contentment. Not running ahead or lollygagging behind…just alternating between a nice stroll and a brisk walk.
I am feeling overwhelmed because it seems the statue of limitations on my mourning has expired and I am now expected (by whom, I'm not sure) to reenter the rat race where everyone is so busy they are exhausted and unable to enjoy the simple pleasure of being still…of enjoying family and friends. In fact, many feel GUILTY for wanting to enjoy these pleasures….because it seems so, so…unproductive! It actually sickens me how insidious this soul stealing activity/busyness has become…and I am starting to dip my toe back in and make agreements without thinking.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I was laying on a chair, staring up at the ceiling, lost in thought. Luke appeared at my side.
"Whatcha thinking about?"
"Why would you think about work when you don't have to work? There's all kinds of things you could think about. God, Daddy, us. Those are just a few examples. You could think about anything."
And he walked off to finish getting ready for bed.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
(Jesus) told this parable: "…Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."
"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. …the seed on the good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."
Luke 8: 8, 11, 15
Here is what I have been really struggling with for the last month: anger. It builds up like an electrostatic charge that must be discharged. The discharge is never pretty.
This morning during my quiet time, I had an image of Jesus operating a large tiller which was breaking up and turning over the hard ground (of my heart)—making it soft and fertile as He goes over the same patch several times. He has ear buds in his ears (maybe listening to music, but certainly muffling the sound of the tiller and my hollering and complaining) and a relaxed smile on his face as if there are no surprises.
Each time I felt a burst of anger today, I would picture Jesus and that tiller turning over the soil of my hardened heart. I could feel it in my chest, and it brought relief each time. There is still so much work to be done, but I want to be the good soil.
Friday, September 23, 2011
If Today Was Your Last Day (Nickelback)
Lyrics by Chad Robert Kroeger
My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day's a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride
If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?
Against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts 'cause there's no second try
So live like you're never living twice
Don't take the free ride in your own life
If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had?
And would you call those friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories?
Would you forgive your enemies?
And would you find that one you're dreaming of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?
If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life
Let nothing stand in your way
'Cause the hands of time are never on your side
Saturday, September 17, 2011
The wind is not blowing in this picture...that is what his hair always did. People would recognize me in the grocery store as the mom with the baby boy who's hair stuck straight up. Honestly, his hair is probably responsible for more smiles and happy faces than most comedians get in a lifetime. I couldn't count how many times some one ran after me to tell me "I love his hair" with a big smile on their face.
Friday, September 16, 2011
There is a scene in the children's movie, Tangled, where a group of ruffians in a pub sing about their dreams (for the future). These thugs sing about dreams of falling in love, becoming a concert pianist, being a mime, "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera" (to quote Yul Brynner in The King and I).
Luke was singing a line from the song--repeatedly-- one morning this week. When I realized what he was singing, I asked him, "so, what's your dream?"
He immediately answered matter-of-factly, "to see Daddy again." I guess I should have seen that one coming.
I usually write a post and decide on a title after I've written most of it. As I typed the words "sweet baby" in the title of this post, I suddenly remembered how I so often called Todd "sweet baby." It is funny how those kinds of things catch you by surprise…like you've forgotten them for a time. Today it all feels like a life time ago.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Sometimes at the end of the day (or even afternoon), my brain is so exhausted I really have difficulty holding onto any train of thought…it is like there are explosions of chaos I keep thinking I should be able to reign in, but then I sort of forget why...it can actually be pretty unsettling. I know that sleep will help, so when this total brain fatigue sets in I try to hold it together as best I can until I can get to bed or at least close my eyes (and shut out all the sensory stimulation) for a few minutes.
Some days it seems like I am moving through a dream about my life. I am talking and doing and smiling, but at the same time I feel this quality of "otherness" about everything (maybe "separateness" is a better word, I'm not really sure) …just like in a dream. On these days I feel like a shadow of myself.
I think often these kinds of days occur hand in hand. I'm not really sure which one is the catalyst and which is the result…sort of chicken and eggish. ..you know, do the shadow days cause the brain fatigue or the brain fatigue cause the shadow days? As I just wrote that I had the thought "the shadows definitely cause the brain fatigue." So maybe that is it.
I am not complaining…just telling. I wonder if some of you have days like this?
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Well, I continue to amaze even myself…not in good ways. I have been a pill all week. To those of you unfamiliar with the terminology of "being a pill" it means being unpleasant and contrary…both of which I have been in large doses this week.
I have been hostile and angry, and loudly so. My anger was covering my self-pity. Self-pity is such an ugly quality that I would rather be angry and self-righteous than admit the truth.
Here is the picture I got during my quiet time this morning. I am standing in the open door of an apartment (mine). Self-Pity is waiting just outside the door (for it is this knock that I have answered). Instead of slamming the door in Self-Pity's face, I invite it in. As I am entertaining Self-Pity inside my apartment, I hear another knock at the door. It is a friend checking on me. I do not want to let her in because she will quickly see I am entertaining Self-Pity. Instead I stand in the doorway and begin angrily talking about my neighbors and how inconsiderate they are…trying to distract my friend from the real issue. My friend is not fooled. There are several more knocks on the door by friends and several more angry rants by me. Each time the friend sincerely tells me she is so sorry I am feeling this way but also refuses to join me in my ranting. I return to the room where Self-Pity is eating my chips and dip. God has sent these friends to me because He knows what I am (unsuccessfully) hiding…and that as long as I try to hide it, I will not turn to Him for help.
Last night, at some point, I began to face the truth..and what a relief it is to finally face the truth. Facing the truth is always the beginning of peace returning. I am thankful that God never leaves me even when I act like a pill…when I turn away. I should know better….I do know better… I have my very own Exodus story that verifies (to me) God is always near and bigger than what I can see before me…WAY bigger…but I choose to regularly turn away anyway. It is so beyond my comprehension that He joyfully welcomes me back even knowing I will do it again in the not so distant future…but I KNOW (deep inside) He is joyful every time. It is also beyond my comprehension that He is so gentle with me when I know I am deserving of a good throttle! I am so thankful that God is God, and I am not.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This morning the kids and I had a rough start…lots of lollygagging and passive disobedience by the kids and lots of nagging by me. I know when this is happening I need to stop and focus on the problem instead of continuing my own distracted list of duties...but instead I make several semi-intentional attempts at redirecting and continue on my merry way…that is until I blow. Well, it wasn't pretty. I was very angry by the time we left for school. I didn't want to pray about it, but I knew I needed to so I made a half-hearted attempt. I finally pulled into a parking lot and said something like, "Somebody better start praying out loud for us because I am not taking you to school until we have some kind of peace." (nothing like passing the buck, huh?) Of course, Caley piped up, and she prayed for help for all of us (specifically hitting each area of need—which made me wince a bit since she was humble about Luke and her needs as well as forthright about mine). We drove on to school having at least made a foray into peace.
I had not had my quiet time this morning, so I headed straight to my chair when I got back home. Guess what the reading for this morning was? The story of the merciless servant…you know the one who was forgiven his million dollar debt by the king but who refused to pardon his fellow servant's debt of just a few dollars. (Matthew 18:21-35). The residual anger I was holding onto seemed to evaporate as I saw myself so clearly as the merciless servant. I felt convicted, and the appraisal was honest…but I did not feel condemned, only grateful. It is so ironic to me that when I see myself honestly in God's light, I do not feel worse about myself…my burden (of anger and judgment in this case) is actually lifted. I never cease to be amazed.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
We can work to make this world a better place but not enjoying our own life will not make that happen.
Seeking our own pleasure is not the goal, but to not enjoy and share the gifts we do have is to live among the walking dead.
Love well until you die...or what is the point?
When I keep my eyes on God, I can get out of the boat...I can live the life I have, not the life I wish I had...I can work to make a positive difference in my sphere of influence, not remain paralyzed by the pain I see around me...I can let God change me into the person He created me to be. I have a choice about all this, and I choose life.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I think I must have written this post around mid-July.. I don't know why I didn't post it then. I actually have a good many posts I've written and never shared. I decided I did want to share this one.
I have not been consciously dwelling on the dates. But for the last week or so, I have been eating any unhealthy food I can get my hands on…almost like I am stuffing my emotions. July 18 is our wedding anniversary…and August 2 is the anniversary of the worst day of my life. I didn't expect to skate through these reminders totally unscathed, but I guess I am a little surprised at this passive-aggressive response of stuffing things in my mouth instead of dealing with my emotions head on.
Twice this month I have looked at the list of wedding anniversaries in the church bulletin and wished that Todd and Susan Randolphwas written next to July 18. There is just something about everyone forgetting that saddens me. Not that I want people to acknowledge this date to me (so please don't), but I don't want people to forget…forget about him, forget about us. I laugh more easily now, and I have moments when I feel "normal," but I still miss him more than words can say. I still have moments when I feel so lost. I still have many moments when I indulge myself in a good cry…then it's time to pick myself up, dust myself off (helping to pick me up and dust me off were things Todd did so well), and prepare to make the best of tomorrow.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I spent last weekend with old, dear friends from college. All of these women knew Todd and me as a couple…at least one of them knew Todd before we were a couple. They have known us through the ups and downs of first jobs, marriage and parenthood. They have seen me at my best and at my worst…and, thankfully, they love me in spite of all that. I have no doubt they are in for more of the same during the next 30 years.
We met at a lake house in Alabama. The friend who had arranged for the lake house brought her boat and parked it at the dock. We packed our coolers with food and drink and headed out onto the lake both Friday and Saturday. Friday was relatively calm…no need to use the anchor. She just parked the boat and some of us swam and some of us read…and we all ate, of course. The next day the water was a bit rough, so we anchored the boat before we got off to swim…again some of us in the water and some napping or reading on the boat…but all eating ;-) When it came time to leave, the water was more choppy and a storm was brewing. She went to retrieve the anchor…and it was stuck on the bottom. We (really there were only 2 who had a clue about boats…the other 3 just tried to stay out of the way and not cause trouble ;-) tried several tactics, but the storm was pushing closer and the anchor wasn't budging. We were getting a little anxious as we watched the dark clouds roll in. We also knew that people sometimes lose their boat (and even their lives) trying to retrieve an anchor that's gotten stuck. The decision was made to cut the rope…oops, no knife…untie the rope from the boat and leave the anchor behind. By the time we got back to the dock at our lake house the water had white caps and the driver had to really maneuver to get the boat docked…but she did an awesome job.
I share this because I got the coolest email from my friend, the boat owner/driver, to all of us other (non-boating) gals when we got home. Here is a quote that I really thought was awesome.
"What I learned is never try to save the anchor and lose the boat in the process. We need to apply that to life. We have to let go of the things that are holding us back and especially when a storm is approaching. "
Maybe it was because I was there that this rings so true and the picture it paints for me is so vibrant. We shared some important stories about our lives this weekend…things that really matter to us… and this quote was so fitting in response to all that.
My friend went out on the lake Sunday afternoon with her family (after we had all headed back to our homes). Her family teased her about the missing anchor. I just thought this was funny so I am quoting her email again as I close.
"I did have to endure all of them saying 'Let's anchor here - oh wait we can't do that. We don't have one.' "
But we didn't lose the boat!
Monday, August 1, 2011
These last two days have had their share of deep sadness, but the grief is not void of hope.
Beth Moore—Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit
"…peace means the absence of fear and turmoil, not the absence of pain and grief…
We can be filled with sadness and still possess a wonderful sense of God's peace. Perhaps it is at that moment beyond all others when the peace of God transcends all understanding…
Our goal is not the absence of sorrow in our grieving, but rather that we refuse to grieve 'as those who have no hope'(1 Thess. 4:13). "
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Here is one of Caley and Luke's favorite hymns.
Hymn to Joy (Beethoven)
Words: Henry Van Dyke
Joyful, joyful we adore thee
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
praising thee, their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I feel something like this sine wave as July 18 and August 2 approach. Mostly the tears feel necessary but full of sadness and pain I confess…some unresolved issues and some just plain old sadness about all that has happened and all that will never be. I will be okay, but I cannot guarantee what state you will find me in at any particular hour of any particular day.
There is some good news. Although the gut punching seems to come more frequently (and a little more violently than the last few months), I do not stay down for the entire count…and I seem to be able to scramble up pretty quickly instead of just laying there and listening to the count. This is absolutely part of it (this journey) and can't be avoided if I am going to continue to move toward healing the really deep down broken parts. I will continue to scramble and wriggle until I can tear myself away from the lie of this darkness when it is trying to overtake me. Darkness will not win. It may temporarily blind/bind me, but it cannot keep me pinned down.
I know you all know that nothing anyone else can do can fix it or make it go away...so please don't waste a minute of your time in worry. I know many of you continue to pray for us, and that is exactly what we continue to need. Pray that I will be attentive to my children's needs and that I will not be too self-absorbed to enjoy the many gifts that do come my way or to notice the needs of others around me.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I have been struggling with some things down deep this past week or so…often manifested on the surface in things like stuffing my face with every unhealthy food I can get my hands on. I have not really known "what" I was struggling with…only known that there was a battle of sorts being fought in my subconscious somewhere. These battles are always accompanied by restlessness and dissatisfaction…and vagueness.
This morning I read this paragraph during my quiet time.
"The Greek word philautos is a compound word made from philos, which by now you know means 'friend of, or lover of' and autos which means 'himself.' This term in no way suggests a healthy appreciation of who you are in Christ. The term means 'self-centered or selfish, an undue sparing of self with the primary concern that things be easy and pleasant for oneself.'"
Something inside my spirit jumped when I read this. This is what I have been struggling with…this notion that things should be easy and pleasant for me…this desire to unduly spare myself.
It has been almost two years since Todd died, and it is like I am saying subconsciously to myself…"I've done my time. My kids and I have suffered enough. I've done a lot of hard work… it is time for this part to be over…I deserve for things to be easy and pleasant for me now."
I think some of it comes from the fact that as I am beginning to rebuild and heal more thoroughly, I am scared because I know how much I have to lose if things aren't easy and pleasant from here on out. There are just no such guarantees. Fear does such funny things to our psyche. I do not want to acknowledge this fear…maybe if it goes unacknowledged it doesn't really exist. Intellectually, I know this is not the case…but fear has little to do with intellect.
This morning (and right now) I felt liberated by this epiphany. It is interesting to me how just identifying the lie you are buying into can free you from the hold the lie has on you. My goal in this life should not be to make things easy and pleasant for myself…for in the pursuit of those things I lose any chance at real, lasting joy and peace.
My goal is to know God better this day, so that I may be His hands and feet in this broken world—showing love in the face of hatred, offering comfort to those who are hurting, extending mercy as I have been shown mercy, and meeting the practical needs of others as I am given the opportunity. I know this is a spiritual battle I want to win--that, in fact, has already been won for me…I just have to walk in that victory…claiming what is offered so freely—God's all-consuming love for me. This doesn't guarantee a free and easy life by worldly standards, but if I will let it settle into my very being, my joy and peace will be complete. This will require moving the fear from my subconscious to my conscious…and every day choosing to side against this fear. I will fail at times (and of course have failed many times before) because I am, after all, human. But, thankfully, that doesn't have to be the last word in my story. I am always given the opportunity to get back up and try again.
I wish that I could articulate this more clearly. I have this feeling my words may only make sense to me. But, I guess that is okay too…because you guys probably have the important stuff figured out already…patiently waiting for me to catch up.
While I was typing the last part of this post, the lyrics to tobymac's song Get Back Up were playing in my head:
We lose our way,
We get back up again
It's never too late to get back up again, …
You may be knocked down, but not out forever
Toby Mac (Get Back Up)
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I did it all by myself. Today I managed to install a wireless keypad opener for my garage door. I programmed it (easy!), and mounted it (also easy, but required me to use a drill which I have never done by myself before). You would have thought I had won the lottery the way I was jumping around after I finished. I ran inside to tell my kids, saying "Aren't you proud of Mommy?!!" Their enthusiasm left a little to be desired….Luke replied, "Can we make Kool-Aid now?" (I am choosing to take this response to mean he never doubted that I could do it. ;-)
The entire project, from start to finish, would have taken Todd about 5 minutes. Of course, it probably took me at least an hour...by the time I read the instructions, climbed up to find the "learn" button on the motor unit, determined it would require more than just a screwdriver to mount the keypad, googled and found out I needed to use a drill and a 1/16" drill bit (because the instructions that came with the keypad just said "Mount the keypad on a verticle, flat surface."), found the drill, selected the correct drill bit, and finished the job. I can hear Todd saying, "Yay, Susie!"
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
This post is going to be about friends and grief, and grief and God's presence in the midst of pain---I think they will tie together…at least they seemed to germinate from the same thread of thought inside me.
Friendship is hard…very rewarding, but hard. Married people know this. Marriage is supposed to be the ultimate friendship, I think—but few are. Todd and I were, in addition to many other things, very good friends. I am thankful for that, but I also know that you have to be one in order to receive one. I am blessed with more good friends than a girl deserves, but I will also say, that I think that I am a good friend to them as well…although, lately some of them may be feeling they are getting the short end of the stick. That is sort of what real friendship is about…you both give and receive all you are able. To be a good friend you must determine what is for the good of the other, not necessarily what makes you feel good. You must determine what boundaries will best help a healthy friendship grow. You must speak the truth in love. You must forgive the unavoidable hurt. When you care deeply for someone and live closely in community with that person, you WILL hurt one another…it is our human condition. I don't believe many "real" friendships exist without being tested and proved worthy of the effort of tending the wounds.
It is hard to witness a dear friend grieve. I don't mean a porch waving friend. I mean one of those "real" friends. It is probably up there with some of the hardest things. It is scary to be confronted with the raging anger and the all-consuming pain that seeps from every pore of that person. It is just plain difficult not to want to rush in with platitudes and fixes…because you care and, of course, you want to fix it…but some things just can't be fixed. I can remember several angry outbursts in the first month of my loss. What I remember most was the gift these friends and family gave me by allowing me a safe place/relationship to have these outbursts. I couldn't have pretended, but if I had feared they couldn't handle it, I would have cut myself off completely…and that wouldn't have helped me heal one iota. The first outburst I can remember occurred with two friends who received the angry, screaming barrage of "How can I ever be okay again? I will NEVER BE OKAY. I SAW MY HUSBAND GET SHOT IN FRONT OF ME—HOW CAN YOU EVER BE OKAY AFTER THAT?" I could tell by my friends faces they were totally at a loss, but it never occurred to me that they couldn't handle it…because I needed them to be able to handle it. Thank God, they did handle it. I have no idea what we said or talked about after this. I just have the memory of relief of not having to hold those thoughts in any longer. I did temporarily cut myself off from friends who lived in Dyersburg…I just couldn't deal with anything to do with my home (that wasn't recognizable as my home any more). These friends were grieving too…they all knew and loved Todd, and I had shut down in so many ways. But, by God's grace, they did not abandon me. Unbeknownst to me, they continued to regularly check on me through other friends and my family. They knew I couldn't talk on the phone, so they would text me daily…never expecting anything in return…they just waited…patiently…for the day I would return to them. I guess deep down, they probably knew I would return to life….they just had no idea how long it would take. I will say it again. It is hard to be the friend of a person suffering tremendous loss—to be able to stand in the face of their anger…to have the strength to listen to their pain without trying to fix. I am thankful that I have been blessed by a network of such friends and family.
This leads me to the second part of this post. I don't have answers to so many things, but I do know this. I could not "not believe" in my loving God (who loves Todd every bit as much as He loves me) any more than I could stop breathing. How else could I ever explain that I watched my husband, whom (with my children) I love more than any other on this earth, get shot just feet away from me, get shot myself, and hear the gunman shoot his own teenage daughter and not remain bitter, and angry and stuck? How else can I ever explain that I have been able to forgive? It is only His grace that allows this in my heart…there is NOTHING natural about being able to emerge from this tragedy with anything remotely resembling contentment. Now it has been very difficult and painful to get here, but I have no doubt Who has done this work in me…and it is NOT me. (My only part has been not to refuse to let Him do this work...which I certainly could have because He always gives that choice to us.) And it is not just me…there are countless adults and children who face the aftermath of loss and tragedy with grace and peace—crediting a loving and tender God as the reason…it totally defies logic.
The only guarantees that I can see in this life are that we will have trouble, that anyone who dares to love deeply will suffer hurt because of that love, and God promises He will not leave us nor forsake us. I believe He has honored that promise in my life and in Todd's life. Thank you for letting me share my heart with you through this blog. Thank you for your help in my healing. I will close with the blessing I pray over my beautiful children most nights. The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make his face to shine upon you…and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The sound and smell of cutting a fresh watermelon, freshly cut grass, kids' screaming laughter as they chase or are chased, locusts and mosquito trucks …all sounds and smells of summer from my youth. I can still remember playing outside in the warm Mississippi evenings as a young girl—spitting watermelon seeds and playing swinging statues and freeze tag with cousins and catching fire flies.
My children and I just got back from a visit with their cousins. We played at the beach during the day , played flashlight freeze tag after dark (okay, so Uncle Hal played while Aunt Christine and I watched ;-), and ate ice cream and pancakes more than once (but not at the same time;-). We climbed a 100 foot sand dune (that rises at what looks and feels like about a 45 degree angle), and purposefully watched a beautiful sun set.
I know my children are storing up their own "cousin memories," and it makes me happy. Because these are the kind of memories that help you grow up knowing you are loved, and you are stronger for knowing this. Just as my children have so many wonderful memories of summer evenings playing with Todd (whether they actually recall every particular moment is not an issue—these memories are indelibly written into their make-up, stored forever in them as part of who they are), they are building new memories that will help them continue the legacy of love their daddy began. And this can only make them stronger.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I have been following another blog for a few months…it is called Team Emmett:-Courage to Conquer, and follows the story of Emmett Stallings from his initial cancer diagnosis to his death last week. Here is an excerpt from his wife's last entry. I just wanted to share her beautiful words. The post was titled "It is Finished."
"In my grief, I am indeed tossed like a raft on open waters, but I am held by the mercy of the Lord who will keep his promise to redeem all things. And there is peace in greater abundance than grief. Even though the peace is often more quiet than the grief, it is far more patient and tender, so there is great hope that peace will win in the end.
I will need so many of you in the days and months to come. Thank you so much for your presence and faithful, quiet service when I could do nothing. Thank you for your love when I could not reach out. If you know me well, then you know that I need you to pursue me, to remind me of the promises of the gospel, and to help me heal even when it hurts. If you do not know me well, then I pray that you would pour the same energy into the lives of people you know that are hurting. People who grieve do not know how to ask for help, so do not wait for them to ask.
My prayer for all of us is that we will learn to meet suffering with mercy, despair with hope, and fear with truth. I pray that we would dwell in the mysteries and paradoxes of suffering with a realness that despises trite answers, embraces sorrow, and plants hope. In other words, may we be people who trust and love, even when it is difficult."
Wendy Stallings ("It is Finished," Team Emmett--Courage to Conquer)
Monday, June 13, 2011
The kids and I just got back from a really nice visit with my mom, sister and brother-in-law. I was able to visit with several old friends—two of whom I hadn't seen since before Todd died. I was able to talk and not lose it and to almost feel "normal."
The day before we left, I signed the papers to close the sale on our old home. The day I got back Todd's (last project) motorcycle sold. These book end events are so very bittersweet. On the one hand, it is time to pass these things to someone who can enjoy them in a way that we cannot any longer…but on the other hand it is so hard to lose these connections to our "old" life. It is very tempting today to just want to stand still…but if I stand still too long, I may find it difficult to get started forward again. The kids feel it too…I don't know if they could put it into words, but I can tell they feel it. Oh, we miss that man.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
This is one of my favorite pictures. Todd did all the fun daddy things…here he is sliding down the rails backward with the kids piled on top.
The kids and I went to a pool party at the local water park the other night. I sat on the side, just watching, for a long time. The kids were content playing with friends, but the thought came over me that they would love it if their momma would actually get in the pool. Their daddy certainly would have been in there with them. Well, I took the plunge and swam over to the waterslide where I waited for them to reach the bottom. I expected them to get all excited that momma was in the pool and ready to play…ha ha on me…they barely acknowledged me as they hurried to go back up the many stairs to the top of the slide to await another turn. After watching them a couple of times, I decided I would go with them the next time. THAT is when they got excited! I was rewarded with big smiles, hugs, and lots of "I love you, momma"s and comments to friends "My mom is going to go down the slide with me!" May not seem like much to anyone else, but it was bliss to me.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
June 4, 2011
Today is the first day I have thought "I like my life"…I have experienced contentment, some joy and many triumphs during the past year, but I have never had a day since Todd died that I actually thought I "like" my life. Major, major…
The ironic part to me is that this thought occurred to me in such an ordinary moment. I walked out into the sunshiny morning (very warm already) to feed the cat (for which I am not particularly fond) as my son skipped down the steps toward the pool. My daughter (whose job it is to feed said cat) was still sleeping peacefully.
Do I wish Todd were here with me to enjoy this life? Absolutely. Are my circumstances any different than they were a week, a month or even a year ago? No. Can't explain it, but I am so glad something has shifted inside of me to bring about this change of outlook. Don't really want to talk about it directly, but I definitely wanted to share…because I know you all have been cheering me on toward this day.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
This post has some unattractive language…so don't read it if that offends you. It also rambles quite a bit….so don't read it if that irritates you ;-)
Well, tonight I'm pissed…but not too much anymore. I have been bitchy today, and I am thankful that God can handle it…particularly when it is directed at Him like it has been today. If I had had a chocolate bunny rabbit, I would have probably bitten its head off and spit it in the garbage. Try as I might to get worked up as I write this, I can't do anything but laugh about it although all afternoon I've been whining and mad about life in general…how I didn't ask to be born, and I don't really want to "do" this life a lot of days….I am not grateful, I am just plain pissed off to be here. So there…the cat is out of the bag. At one point today, I was so upset I thought I would vomit. I try to put a pretty smile on it, but it is just plain ugly some days. And in case you think I am having a pity party for only myself, you are wrong…I am having a pity party for this entire messed up and hurting world…for all the people who have recently lost everything, including loved ones, in these recent storms…for all those who live in extreme poverty…for all the children who are abused by adults who are supposed to love and care for them…for my friends in unhappy and/or abusive marriages…I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I scream in my car (by myself) as I drive down the road…loud and long, guttural screams. I yell "why is everything so hard!" Why didn't what's-his-name cuckoo head have the calculations right, and the world as we know it could have ended last week…I'm ready and fine with that (although I didn't think for one minute it was going to happen on May 24th… no one knows when, but I am just telling you I am ready).
I am better. I still don't have answers…didn't expect any cause I don't think there are any that would make sense to me…seeing as I am not the creator of the universe or the one who has gifted all of herself over to said creation. But I do trust Him…even when I am pissed…precisely because He has (created and gifted all of himself). I trust that he is in the midst of all this chaos and pain that we humans delve out to one another…this complainer included. I have to remind myself that I have hurt and mistreated those I profess to love most...not just one or two times in my life, but many times over. Ugh…what hope is there? I do know the answer, even though sometimes (like today) I want to pretend I don't. I know He is there in the beauty of His creation and the ugliness we humans have created. I know He is faithful and wants to draw everyone to Him, but He waits for each of us to decide that we want that too. I know that sometimes He does alter circumstances, but I also know sometimes He just keeps you company in awful circumstances. I believe whether He alters circumstances or keeps us company in them, He is always working toward reconciliation between Creator and creation…working out His plan of redemption for all mankind. I know Him, and He loves me. I am thankful for that even when I'm pissed.
The thing is, I'm upset because I'm ready for Parousia—that time when God will be "all in all." And I am thinking He is longing for that as well…so if it hasn't happened yet, there must be a very good reason. So I will have to wait…not idly…but trying to do my part to make this world better as He has instructed me (us) to do. Since I must have His help to do this to the best of my abilities, staying pissed off is like biting off my nose to spite my face.
Thank you, God, that You never leave me to my own devices. Thank You, that You never leave me, period.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I am trying to get comfortable in my own skin…and honestly, I thought I was…but I am finding I am not. You see my skin has always been my own, but it shared a something -– elasticity, or some other not-so-easily named quality—with Todd. I know that 26 years may not seem like long to some, but since that represents my entire adult life (and I do use "adult" lightly when referring to our early dating years --maturity was not my strong suit back then) there is a HUGE part of me that is now missing…because no matter how I look at it, HE IS NOT HERE BESIDE ME sharing in this adventure/mess we call life. I am altered… ME--down deep, as well as on the surface. And now I don't know exactly what's missing (besides the obvious), just that this skin that fit so well when I was Susan who was part of Susan and Todd, is sagging in some places. It seems so glaringly obvious to me today… I think I may be the last to know.
I WILL get comfortable. I know I will. I just have no idea how long it will take...I really want to complain right now, about "no ****! maps, and no time tables"…but it doesn't do a bit of good, so I might as well just suck it up. That last statement may have sounded light-hearted, but I assure you it was not intended that way. I am, however, (still) resolved to moving forward. It is what it is.
The quest begins.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Ditch 1: On one side you can let your skin get so thick, your walls so tall and to live so independently that you create nothing but a lonely, self-imposed exile.
Ditch 2: The other side involves becoming so needy and thin-skinned that almost every action by another hurts you in some way.
Conclusion: Although I haven't pitched my tent in either of these ditches, I do think I have eyeballed the terrain pretty closely. Thankfully, I tend to be drawn to the middle ground.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I am feeling a bit sorrowful this morning. Realizing that there is no way I can put God in a box…no way I can demand to have my own way…no way I can be assured that the way I would like to imagine our life going from here on out is the way that it will go. Part of this sadness is the book I started the other day…it is about one person's dark night of the soul…and I have just begun the really dark part—the earlier part of the book has just been the build-up.
I still get sad when I catch a picture of Todd laughing/playing with the kids…I seem to be able to handle the pictures of us just fine, but not him and the kids.
I was talking with an old friend last night about wanting to learn from the past, live in the present, and hope for the future. Sounds really good, and most of the time I totally buy into that philosophy…wanting to live fully in the present...intentionally living in the moment I have, not lamenting over moments lost or what may or may not happen in the future. I know there will be a lot of days when this is easier said than done...today might be one of those.
Today I am just sad for the whole world and all those hurting. A part of me wants to demand answers, but an even bigger part knows that there are absolutely no answers that would satisfy. The old me would have been in a funk for days…I am stronger now, though, and I know Peace is mine if I will just choose to receive it. I so choose, and I am now going to follow the Rx of Philippians 4:6 and spend some time receiving. God' Peace to you all .
Monday, May 9, 2011
My response to certain comments or questions is not necessarily rational—as emotional responses rarely are. It is funny that the things others think will be upsetting often don't affect me one little bit, and I end up trying to assure them that I was not in the least upset by what *they* thought was a thoughtless comment. It is hard to navigate these waters, and none of us has a map. I know that trust is a major issue…and when I do open up, I want to know that the person I am speaking with will hold close what I am saying...and value the piece of me (and Todd) that I am choosing to share with them. No matter my demeanor at the time, I do not offer (these pieces) lightly.
As friends, I think all we can do is offer our gifts and hope they are received in the loving spirit in which they are offered…of course if we don't offer our gifts in (unselfish) love then that is a whole-other-issue. (And I have certainly done my share of offering "gifts" that were not really gifts at all…but as I said, that is a whole-other-issue.)
I am grateful my friends and family do not give up on me but continue to reach out and offer love and care in the ways they know best and without strings…whether I receive it or not is my problem, not theirs!
Thanks for traveling this road with me. Those of you still here must enjoy taking the scenic routes (Dad-speak for the longest route to your destination ;-) and following paths that are not on any map. And actually, in accepting there are no maps available, I find life to be much more enjoyable…and hopefully, my hands are free to help some of you carry your burdens along the way.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I received 3 bullet wounds that night…my upper arm, my left breast and my neck…with one of the bullets grazing my chin. The doctors did sew up my chin, but all the other wounds had to be cleaned and left to heal from the inside out.
I have been thinking about how deep emotional wounds also have to heal from the inside out. It's not that some dressing and caring on the top layer isn't absolutely necessary, but how often we try to sew over the outside in a quick fix kind of way.
The cure for what ails us is often VERY painful. But there will be pain whether we choose to stand still or move forward…so I think I'll opt for the pain with a purpose (moving forward), and let God minister to those deep wounds in anticipation of complete healing from the inside out.
It's funny (strange not "ha ha") that reading the first paragraph makes me uncomfortable. I don't really know why, as everyone who reads this blog probably already knows that about me. I have also noticed that I still only want to talk about it when I want to and not be asked questions—about anything that has to do with this. I can often feel a flash of anger when someone innocently asks a question to clarify something I've said or extract more information. I can feel myself shut down and disengage. It's like discussing it is so personal—too personal to have anyone make comments or assumptions. It is something I should be talking about with Todd and no one else. I hope one day *it* (the awful memories of that weekend) will have no power over me what-so-ever.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Today I washed the car in a self-service car wash bay. My son has been begging me to use one because he thinks it's cool…I have been putting him off because I didn't know how to do it…I always sat inside the car. I tried it today by myself…too much pressure to have a 7 year old – bursting-with-excitement-cause-he-wants-to-help-and-you-don't –have-a-clue-as-to-what-you-are-doing. I managed to put my money in and follow the directions. I don't think I took off too much paint with the power rinse. It is so funny the things that make you feel accomplished.
Monday, April 25, 2011
By the way, if you ever witness a grieving person having a really ugly cry, don't be too unnerved. I think it is one of the most healing mechanisms we have for dealing with grief...it releases all that stored up tension. There is really no predicting what situations or events will be catalysts for the surge of release. Some pretty big situations or events, I seem to be able to emotionally handle pretty easily, and some seemingly insignificant events trigger a major flood of emotion. It is okay though, because after the chaos of the release, my body is able to organize itself and move forward...I think it is probably similar to a baby's developmental progress being marked by meltdowns and disorganization just before a major developmental milestone is reached. We really are "marvelously made." (Psalm 139:14)
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Some pretty strong storms passed through last night, and I am so glad that the damage around us was minimal. I am sad too, though. The trampoline that Todd bought and put together for Caley is destroyed. I am not sad for the "thing" that the trampoline is, but for what it represents to me/us. It was Todd's idea to get it for her when she had to have an out-patient procedure done when she was almost 3 years old. He bought it and put it together in the back yard the evening before we went to Memphis to have the procedure done. He wanted to be able to tell her there was a big surprise waiting for her when she got home…he wanted it ready to go so she could start jumping right away. The safety net was a BEAR to get on…but he did it…and it was the best net in the neighborhood ;-)
My children have enjoyed that trampoline more than I could have imagined. It could share many stories if it could talk…like when Gran got on the trampoline for the first time (at 75 years old), and jumping with the aunts and uncles and cousins or when a few too many children were jumping and playing a game and laughing…until someone got hurt…or the time one little girl came flying out of the net entrance as I was talking to her mom on the phone and asking "are you okay with your children jumping on the trampoline with all the neighborhood children?" But the favorite stories would be how Todd would almost always jump with them when they asked him to…even after a long day at work. They would say "please daddy, please come jump with us." They had such fun, and it was my joy to watch them (although I confess to being a bit nervous from time to time seeing him bounce them to the top of the net). They would jump and play games…he would bounce them like a piece of popcorn…and they would take turns doing tricks. So you see…it is not the trampoline, but the memories that I am mourning right now. This is also his birthday week, and my son's too. So emotions are high, and tears have seemed to flow very easily this month. I pretty much had a complete meltdown this evening…seeing the trampoline in a crumpled heap (the wind had wrapped it around a telephone pole in a neighbor's yard) and remembering all those special times that will never be again…I just felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.
I am better than I was a few hours ago, but the ache inside is still very real. A friend came by who knew both Todd and I well, and we cried together, and she is the one who reminded me, "it was the best net in the neighborhood"-- and we both laughed a little. I know that the only important memory Todd would care about would be that his children remember how much he loved them…but I think *I* need him to be remembered…I don't want people to forget what an awesome husband and father and friend he was—not perfect (for that thought would make him gag) but damn awesome. I want to yell at the people around me "don't let petty crap and BUSYness get in the way of your relationships with your spouse and your children!" WAKE-UP NOW! Don't wake up one day in the future to see that you valued all the wrong things…evident by how you lived your life and how you treated those who are supposed to be most special/precious to you. My heart aches for Todd, but it also aches for this world in which marriages are disposable and children are lost in the shuffle of so many activities. It is my prayer that everyone reading this would let those most precious to them *know* they are precious through their actions...by slowing down enough to enjoy their company. Please go jump on your trampoline…and don't hesitate to remind me to do the same.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I thought this fit perfectly with Nikki's comment on April Showers
"And in the presence of these reminders, I have two alternatives. I can dwell on the fact that she has been taken away, and dissolve in remorse that all of this is gone forever. Or, focusing on the wonder that she was ever given at all, I can resolve to be grateful that we shared life, even for an all-too-short ten years. There are only two choices here, but believe me, the best way out for me is the way of gratitude. The way of remorse does not alter the stark reality one whit and only makes matters worse. The way of gratitude does not alleviate the pain, but it somehow puts some light around the darkness and creates strength to begin to move on."
John Claypool (on the loss of his ten year old daughter)
Tracks of a Fellow Struggler
Monday, April 4, 2011
I think I read somewhere (or maybe I just made it up because it sounds beautiful to me) that when the wind bends a tree and its limbs, the wind is actually helping to make the tree stronger. This morning, I was watching heavy rain and storm winds buffet my blooming trees, and the furious beauty of it struck me. Almost at once, I thought about how we are all buffeted by life's strong winds…and that God's presence in these very strong winds allow us to bend in ways that make us stronger. I know the truth in it at this moment…but I suspect I will have to be reminded again before too long.
Earlier this morning during my quiet time, God managed to do it YET again. He was able to comfort me and set me straight about a few things—He never forces me to walk away from the edge of that pit of despair, but He makes the Light so beautiful that I cannot help myself but to join Him in It. I usually have quiet time and reading/reflecting in the mornings, but yesterday I woke up too late. Hearing the scripture read in church is wonderful, but it does not replace my one-on-one time with God...it only supplements it. As those yuk feelings continued to build, I should have run straight to my room and made time for that. I know that for me, reading scripture soothes the savage beast inside, but I repeatedly refuse to read it when I need it most. What is up with that? Can you say rebellious? And what does it get me? Oh, yeah, hopelessness, self-pity, anger and bitterness…those are real helpful qualities, aren't they? Now, some of you may be thinking "That is so crazy—her missing that one-on-one time couldn't make that much difference." Well, all I can say is I was hopeless, pitiful, angry and bitter before…and I was changed after.
Writing this post reminded me of something else I had read (but of course couldn't remember where), so I went digging around to see if I could find it. Here is the fruit of my labor.
"But the painting selected by the judges for the first prize was very different from all the others. It depicted the height of a raging storm. Trees bent low under lashing wind and driving rain. Lightning zigzagged across a lowering, threatening sky. In the center of the fury the artist had painted a bird's nest in the crotch of a gigantic tree. There a mother bird spread her wings over her little brood, waiting and serene and unruffled until the storm would pass. The painting was entitled very simply, Peace.
"'That,' Peter [Marshall] would point out, ' is a perfect picture of the peace God has promised us.'"
The Helper -- Catherine Marshall
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
My kids and I are trying to intentionally practice asking these 3 questions (which we borrowed from the Atrium) before we say something:
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
The other day I heard Luke in the back seat sort of muttering to himself "Well, It *is* true,…and…wait, I better think about that one..." He ended up correcting his sister about whatever it was…he struggled with the "is it necessary" part ;-) But he didn't say it unkindly, and it was true ;-)
I often realize too late that I have failed to go through the checklist before I have made a hasty comment. Oh, the trouble I could save myself if I could learn to do this automatically. What can I say? In this house, we are all a work in progress.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Listed in no particular order.
- I have found it helpful to remind myself I do not have to think every thought that falls into my head. I have found that even though I am tempted (to follow thoughts that will only lead to depression, anger, dissatisfaction), God is faithful when I ask for help…sometimes I still refuse to ask for help—always to my detriment. I find that it is much easier to ask and receive His help when I feel the first nudge of a thought track I don't need to follow…once I have begun the track I become a bit rebellious and/or angry which makes it harder for me to even want help.
- Now juxtaposed to #1 is the need to go through the pain, to face the grief head-on. I do not believe there is any shortcut, and trying to take the long way around in avoidance will not help either…we must go through. When grief overwhelms and overtakes me (and it still does at times), I don't try to fight it. For the most part, I let it wash over me without guilt…I don't really try to hide it from my children (except when I need to scream loudly—I do wait for them to be out of the house before I do that…too scary to hear mommy wailing and screaming in anguish)
- Time and work do help.
- I don't believe there is an answer to "why" that would ever satisfy me.
- Our choices are to play the hand that has been dealt or to fold…I have felt like folding on many occasions. To just lie down and not even try to get back up has had a LOT of appeal during the past 20 months—particularly the first 12. I have finally reached the point where most days I am content to be alive--and I feel very privileged to care for my children. I am determined to learn to live life fully, but there will be absolutely no regrets when it is my turn to go…I am ready whenever that day/moment comes.
- Before all this happened I had already worked out that God is good--the world we live in isn't always. He created it to be good, but we seem to have other ideas. I am glad I had already questioned, struggled and resolved this beforehand.
- I admit to still questioning God's goodness from time to time (but only in a very shallow sort of way…not way down deep like before). I don't have answers to why human beings treat each other so horribly, but the fact is we do. I also don't have answers for why some people who by all "rights" should be bitter and angry choose to love…but the fact is many do.
- I am not fearful, nor am I reckless.
- It is impossible to please everyone.
- I cannot control how others behave.
- I am surrounded by a community of family and friends who continue to pray for my kids and me, and this brings me such comfort—particularly when I am feeling weak and overwhelmed.
- I am cared for by a God who loves me beyond measure. My children are cared for by this same loving God.
- If I continue to love, I will continue to have times of sorrow.
- It is not all about me…and I don't want it to be.
- I am strong (inner strength).
- I am smarter than the average bear. (at least *I* think I am)
- Laughter really is good medicine.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I am making the choice to move forward…and make no mistake, I have a choice. It has been almost 20 months since Todd was ripped from us. I still have days when, if I didn't have children to care for, I would just lay on the floor and weep. The other night I did shut myself in the bathroom and do just that--but I eventually DID get off the floor even though I cried off and on the rest of the evening.
…but back to the moving forward part. I *am* living my life, not just existing in it. I do many things for myself that I NEVER thought I would, and in doing these things I know that I am stronger than I ever thought possible...but I have also pretty much learned to accept and ask for help when I need it. I do not have my husband (who was the BEST dad) to help me with my children; I do not have my lover and dearest friend of over 25 years to encourage me and make me laugh…and for lack of those things I am very discouraged at times.
…but back to the moving forward part. The apple trees are beginning to bud! The weather has been beautiful the last few days. The benches and ashes have made a space where I can go and talk to Todd and feel connected to him in a healthy way…at least I think it is healthy. I know that Todd is at peace. My beautiful children are healthy, and they are continuous reminders of the beauty of their dad. I have a loving, supportive network of family and friends. I have a job that I really enjoy and colleagues who are wonderful to work with…and I have my Tom Petty station on Pandora Internet Music. Of course, I wish Todd were here to enjoy all this too, but he's not, and he won't ever be again…so I am going to enjoy it for the both of us because I know that is what he would want. So you see, I am moving forward…and I can even hear music over the next hill. Todd would want me to dance, so I am going to try.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
A friend who is having a baby came by to tell me that she and her husband had decided to name him after Todd...it will be his middle name.
I read some of the old news articles written about that horrible night.
Not too bright, am I?
Only cried a few times today, but I fell apart this evening. I am tired, and everything is worse when I am tired.
It hurts so very badly, I feel like I will crack.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Warning: This post contains bathroom humor (although "humor" may not be the word I am looking for)…and there will be moments when you are sure there is animal cruelty on the horizon, but I assure you that I did restrain myself.
This morning we discovered the cat spent the night inside the car. I knew it would be bad…this is the same cat that cannot spend the night inside the house without peeing and pooping as soon as you let your guard down…that is why, when it is necessary for him to stay inside the house for the night, he is banished to the bathroom or laundry room --with the door firmly closed! I am done with litter boxes, so this is our compromise. But I digress… My daughter said "It doesn't smell, so I guess he didn't pee." I thought to myself "I just don't believe it." This is one time I wish I had been wrong.
We didn't have time to deal with it at that moment because we were getting ready for school. Of course, we were scrambling to get out of the house on time, and when my daughter jumped in the car she said, matter-of-factly, "I found where he went." (of course) It was right where she needed to sit, and there was no time to clean it up. Those of you who know me, know my car is rarely free of clutter –from kids toys, books and candy wrappers to junk mail and school papers that somehow find their way out of the backpack and onto the seat. The cat had managed to plant it on a "magazine" (according to Caley). Somewhat relieved and filled with hope that it wouldn't be too big a mess, we took off for school. (Caley now buckled in to the small middle seat after this entire conversation took place in the rearview mirror as I was backing out of the driveway.) When I returned home I found a much bigger mess than I had been led to believe…the "magazine" turned out to be a pamphlet, and I immediately realized this would be an involved clean-up. I had some cleaning supplies I had purchased earlier in the week still sitting in the trunk of the car, so I popped it to unload them. It took two trips to get it all, and I slammed the trunk closed after the second trip. When I went out to begin the first stage of clean-up —the soak-up—I decided to put (throw??) the cat out back and shut the garage while doing this. Did I mention it was freezing outside…but I guess when you are dealing with cat pee it is better cold than hot, huh?
Well, I call the cat and he doesn't come, so I decide he must have already gone out. I begin blotting up the mess and I think I hear something as I am doing it so I call to the cat, but no kitty comes. I decide it was the wind. I go back to the job…trying to use my weight to press the paper towels into the seat and soak up as much as I can before I spray it down with cleaner. I hear another small noise, and I call the cat again…no cat. From somewhere in the back of my mind I have the thought "the trunk! I am going to kill that cat if it is in the trunk!" I pop the trunk and IMMEDIATELY my nostrils are greeted with that HORRIBLE smell associated with….well, I will just tell you, IT WASN'T pee this time. That %%$$#@@*(!!**cat had been in the trunk for all of 2 minutes! As far as junk goes, my trunk is even worse than the inside of my car. I grab (yes, grab!) and toss him out, while I am muttering obscenities and trying to locate the source of this awful smell. I begin to take things out, and finally see the mess…neatly on a cardboard box top containing a toy that has been riding around in my trunk since I moved a year ago. I finished my clean-up both inside the car and the trunk…actually thankful that the cat had gone "neatly" on the top of the box. I did put (throw??) the cat out the back door, but I was amazed that I was able to laugh and be grateful for several things: 1 I didn't have to be at work this morning so I was able to come straight home and clean up the mess 2 The incident in the trunk was not worse than it was 3 I may have a "clean" car when this is all over 4 I was able to laugh about it to myself. Oh, and one more thing I was grateful for…the almost full ice cream drink my son spilled all over (and down inside) the other back seat was no longer smelling so strongly of spoiled milk!
Monday, March 7, 2011
Lent has come around again. The predictable rhythm of the church year is a comforting accompaniment to life's unpredictable circumstances. In the Episcopal Church we consider Lent a time of preparation and waiting…a time of slowing down and drawing particularly close to God. During this time, we are preparing our hearts and minds to receive the joy of Easter…and acknowledging that Good Friday is the only way to get to Easter.
I have considered what I will do to mark this season of Lent… I wasn't even sure I wanted to mark it in any special way this year. I have the germ of an idea that I am trying to hash out…I want to be transformed in one area in particular involving my thought life…and consequently how it plays out in my behavior and actions. I am asking God to first, give me the desire to change in this area, and second, for Him to do the work in me. I am unable to do it on my own…and as I noted, I don't necessarily even have the desire to change even though I know this change would bring a lot of healing. I am not a passive observer/participant in this—my part is to lay this issue at His feet, "suit up and show up" and let His Holy Spirit move in and through me—redirecting my thoughts and attitudes as He does. It is not an issue of having enough will-power--it is an issue of trusting in His grace and mercy and great love for me and knowing His desire is to bring spiritual healing to every part of me. I sometimes feel so alone, but that is a lie. I am never alone.
And I can hear Your voice reciting
"I'm here. I'm closer than your breath
I've conquered even death
I am still here
And just like I was then
You can't remember when I was not here."
And I can hear Your voice inviting
"I'm here. I'll never leave your side
My stubborn weary child
I am still here
Please let Me lead you on
Your race is already won
I am Your God"
You're Here (words and music by Leigh Nash)