Monday, May 23, 2016

This~








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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Enjoy, Baby! Enjoy!

I sit on the porch, a light rain serenading me in the background.  As the cool breeze caresses my face, I can't help but think of you.  I don't know who loved rainy weather more - you or me.  The fact that we loved it together, one of God's sweetest blessings.

It rained yesterday afternoon, too.  I can't remember a Spring quite like this one ever before - cool, comfortable days, followed by even cooler nights. And, this rain.  Here, in the desert. Here in May. Definitely, not the norm.
But, then again - since you've been gone, nothing seems to be normal.  Most of the "no longer normals" have been hard to welcome into my life, but not this rain.  I sit here on the patio and breathe it in deep. Then, I breathe it in deep again.  It it precious refreshment to my parched heart. And yes, if I think about you not here enjoying it with me, it can bring tears.  But, for some reason, these rain-induced tears seem to have a cleansing touch to them.
I think back to so many other rainy nights of the past.  Me, here on the patio.  You, just on the other side of our sliding glass door, seated in your favorite chair, watching a good game of hoops or enjoying a show all about elk. As the rain would pitter-patter, and my body would start to unwind, I couldn't help but call out to you.
"It's SOOOOOOO beautiful, Handsome.  SO very beautiful out here.  Love the rain!"
And your reply, (each and every single time)
"Enjoy, Baby! Enjoy!"
And, it hits me - for the first time in 104 days - that in your absence, enjoy has not been what I have been doing.  In fact, I have been doing everything but enjoying.
I've been crying, trying, struggling and wallowing.
I've been hating, debating, flip-flopping and questioning.
I've been wondering, replaying, avoiding, and wrestling.
I've been remembering, forgetting, reliving, and rearranging.
But, enjoying.
Nope, it didn't even come close to making the list.
And, it hits me - for the first time in 104 days - that me not enjoying, would break your heart. Because, most of your enjoyment was a direct result of my enjoyment.  It delighted your heart to know I was enjoying something. Big enjoyment. Little enjoyment.  Mediocre enjoyment.  It didn't matter.  If I enjoyed it, you enjoyed the fact that I did.
"104 days, Beautiful?  You've let 104 precious days, filled to overflowing with opportunities for enjoyment, slip right by?"  As this thought - words I can almost hear you saying - penetrates my heart, I can see the look on your face, and yes, who could help but see, the shake of your head.
"I know, Handsome. I know. But, . . ."
"Uh huh. Nope. You've got nothing to say, Beautiful. No reason to justify your total lack of enjoyment. Maybe you need to get up from your seat on the patio and head inside the house and over to the door leading out to the garage."
I know exactly where you would be going with this line of thought, if indeed you were here with me.  I know all too well what is waiting for me to re-discover on our garage door.
IMG_7229
That yellow sticky note has been there greeting me each and every time I go out into our garage for as long as I can remember.  And, you're right.  (I know me admitting that would spark that cute look you always seemed to get when you were right, and I knew it.)
Joy.  It is a choice.  And, it is one of the precious fruit of the Spirit.  Tucked in with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is joy. Second in line, matter of fact.  And yet, with each  precious fruit given by the Holy Spirit, it is up to me to yield, to surrender, to choose to allow this fruit to grow and rule in my heart and life.  It is a choice - my choice.
Joy -  like all the other fruit - is an all-season fruit. It is capable of being present in my life no matter the season I may find myself in.  Spring - joy.  Summer - joy.  Fall - joy.  Winter - joy.  It is there to be discovered in the all of my life.
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. ~James 1:2-4
And, I remember the words written in red, penned by you, my love. "Your choices determine your destiny and happiness.  Choose to be thankful. Choose to be joyful."
It is this choosing joy - no matter the season, no matter the circumstance, no matter the situation - that eventually, as God works out His perfect will in my life, leads me to be complete, lacking nothing.  It is this choosing joy - no matter how I feel, no matter how I don't feel - that eventually will lead me to my God-given destiny and true happiness found in and through Christ Jesus, my Lord.
As the rain quiets and the hush of the night closes in, I want so much to call out to you from here on the patio to where I wish you were sitting on the other side of our sliding glass door, "It's SOOOOOOO beautiful, Handsome.  SO very beautiful out here!"
And, I realize the choice I have to make now is this:  Will I choose to go 105 days without enjoying?
"Enjoy, Baby!  Enjoy!"
And, with tears streaming down my face, my only appropriate response is this: "I will, Handsome. I will."
If only I could tell you.  If only I could.
(Sharing the latest post from my new blog, If Only I Could.)







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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Text Between Sisters~

How you doing sweetie?

Eh - ok.  Just been bluer than blue, sadder than sad.


I'm so sorry.
Was work ok today?
Anything particular happen or just another sad day?

No - work has been fine. It's Steve not being around that's the problem.

Ya. That's a big problem. 

I'm tired of him being gone All. The. Time.

Ya.

I'm tired of being me without him.

You want the team back.

Yes!!! Tired of being alone.

I wish you weren't alone,
all the time.
I'm sure you wish it even more.

I want to hug him, and talk with him, and laugh with him, and cook with him, and call him, and sleep with him, and pray with him, and look at the moon with him, and on and on and on ................

Can't even imagine your life right now.
Just wish I could help take the loneliness away.

There is no life in my life now - that's the problem.

Yes indeed.  That is the problem.

And, I can't do one thing about it.

Nope. That's true.

It's so hard.

So very hard.
But, I'm so very proud of you.
I really like reading your blog.
It's some of your best writing.
It's raw.
It's honest.
It's emotional.
And, it's a blessing.
Every time.

It's just where I'm at.
But, thank you.

But, you don't have to share where you are at,
but you do.
It's a choice to let others read about your pain.
You do it beautifully while helping others deal with their pain.
It's a blessing.
And, I hope someday you will get to see the ripple effect.
The help you give others through your raw words.
So proud of you and your strength.

I always think "who would want to read this? Read about someone else's loss?"
I write because I have to
or I would either curl up and die
or explode.
Honestly.

Well keep writing!!!
Cause I don't want you to explode!


Me, neither.

I think your writing will be your survival tool through this journey.
And, a big blessing.
Maybe not now, but years to come.

Amazingly, I do get quite a bit of feedback from people going through their own heartache.
They thank me for - like you said - being honest
and giving a voice to feelings they can't explain.
Only God.

Yes!!!!!!!!!
You are a gifted writer.

I am trying my best to make it all count.
It has to count.
And, to do what Ruthie always told me to do -
"Use your gift, Stacy. Keep writing. I guarantee you people will keep reading."

She's right. Totally!

I love you, Laura.

I love you, too.  With my whole heart.

Thank you for always being there, for listening, understanding, being honest, cheering me on.
I'm SO thankful I still have you.

You always got me girl!!!!!
Just wish you had me closer!

Me, too.

We got to change that.

Yeah, maybe so.
I hate being here alone, but I'm afraid if I leave here the memories will fade,
or they might not be as many and as vivid as here.

No hurry. 
The answers will come at the right time.

I'm just praying for God to take care of it all.

Sounds like a good prayer.

And, He's a good God so down deep somewhere in my heart I know it's all going to be ok -
that I'm going to be ok.
Just don't always feel it.

Yes. He's going to take care of you.
He's got a plan.
He loves you more than me!
That's a lot!

Yep! Blessed me.

Love you.

Love you, too. SO MUCH.

I hope you get some good rest tonight.
I hope I get good sleep, too.
Up  with the baby from 10 - 1 last night.

He takes after his momma.
Night owl.
Hope you sleep well, too.
Here's to major zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs tonight!

Yes! Let's do that!

I feel more settled in my heart now after talking (and crying) with you.
Thank you.

I love you.
Want to be there for you.
Anytime.

I know you are there.

Anywhere.

You are.  Always have been.
Nite nite.

Nite nite.
Talk with you tomorrow.

You betcha.













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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

When We Choose To Walk Into It~

Without even thinking about it,
without even deciding upon it,
without any anything at all,
it happens.

A word is spoken,
a memory is replayed,
a scent is experienced,
a song is heard -
and before you can stop it,
before you can derail it,
before you can do anything at all about it,
a flood of emotion billows up from the deepest place within
and spills out.

And sometimes,
sometimes, no one around you even notices.

But,
there have been those times,
when tears I have tried to keep hidden, buried, tucked neatly inside,
have been the very instrument through which I have felt the touch of God.

But only,
only when someone chooses to walk into my sorrow.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.

I was standing in the church foyer visiting with a group of elderly ladies.
Good mornings were shared,
hugs were given,
and laughter was heard.

The service began and not wanting to miss what was happening inside, the ladies - all but one and myself, headed into the sanctuary.

Left alone, the other woman looked at me and said,
"Stacy, do you realize all of us women who were just visiting here together are widows?"

And,
without even thinking about it,
without even deciding upon it,
without any anything at all,
it happened.

Before I could stop it,
before I could derail it,
before I could do anything at all about it,
a flood of emotion billowed up from the deepest place within
and spilled out. . .
just as a family was walking in.

I had had the honor of spending much of my early days as Director of Children's Ministries growing closer to Jesus with the children of this family.
Only now,
these children are well on their way to adulthood.

The first to see me
(who more than obviously was right in the middle of a conversation
and was busy walking and texting),
was the teenage daughter.
She gave me a super quick glance, a super quick smile, a super quick wave of her hand,
and then without missing a tap of her finger went right on back to her walking and texting.

But, then -
then there was her brother.

He, too, gave me a quick glance out of the corner of his eyes,
but the glance he gave was enough to see.

And,
without even thinking about it,
without even deciding upon it,
without any anything at all,
he headed straight to where I was standing,
and without saying a word,
not one word at all,
he gave me a hug.

Then, as quick as he had come, he headed into the sanctuary, and was gone.

And yet,
what he probably didn't realize,
what he probably doesn't know,
what he probably never even thought another thought about is this:

He purposely chose to walk into my sorrow,
and God used him to bring immeasurable comfort to my heart.

He could of looked the other way.
He could of pretended he didn't notice.
He could of walked on by.
But, he didn't.

And instead of me teaching him that day,
he taught me.

God can only work through us 
if we are willing to walk into the need he places before us.

Casually glancing at it isn't enough.
Nonchalantly acknowledging it isn't enough.
Quickly gesturing at it isn't enough.

To make a difference,
to truly be His hands and His feet,
we have to be willing to purposefully and intentionally walk into the need.

And when we do,
when we choose to head straight into it instead of speedily away from it,
God can use us to do what only He can do.

I know this to be true.

For that morning,
I felt the very arms of God wrapped around me.
All and only because,
this precious heart chose to walk into my sorrow.










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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Just Being Honest~

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
~ Romans 12:15

This verse has always been a tough one for me. Just being honest.

I have no problem with the latter part of the verse.
When sorrow comes into the lives of those around me,
tears flow naturally,
and the pain of others instantly becomes my pain.
Their heartache breaks my heart.

But, (and I am ashamed to admit this) the rejoicing does not come as easy.

Mother's Day is a tough day for me.
Just being honest.

Thankfully, my mother is still alive, so it is not her loss that I grieve.
Sadly, it is the loss of three unborn little ones that brings tears to my eyes and tears to my heart.
It is also the death of a lifetime dream to be a "mommy" that makes this day of celebrating other Mommies so very hard.

Mother Kissing New baby Daughter
{Photo Credit}

And yet,
God has commanded me to rejoice with those who rejoice....
and today.... there were mothers rejoicing!



Rejoicing in the blessed gift of their children.
And, I rejoiced with them.


How precious to be a mother.


How miraculous to be used by God to create another life.


How motherhood naturally calls for celebration and rejoicing.


I, too, rejoiced! 
From the very depths of my heart!


But, only after I  had shed my own tears and once again placed my broken dream and my broken heart in the hands of my precious Jesus. After all, He is the creator of my heart, and little by little, He is re-creating my heart.

As he molds me and makes me more and more like Him, the rejoicing for others, even in the midst of my own pain, comes easier and easier.

And you know what?

As I rejoiced with those blessed to be called "mom", my heart started to smile, too.
And, I felt God's healing touch.

No wonder we are instructed to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep. In doing so, we are not only given the amazing privilege of sharing the joy and shouldering the burden, but we also find our own healing. What a wonderful God we serve!

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful, precious mothers.
I hope you had a joy-filled day,
sweetened with heavenly blessings,
from start to finish.

Just being honest.~

Heavenly Father,
At a time when my heart searches for answers to "how come?" and "why me", thank you that I can find healing and joy in celebrating your goodness with others who have received from your hand. Your ways are not our ways, and for this I am truly grateful. You are my Abba Daddy who loves me and knows what is best for me. May I rest in your unselfish love for me and continue to find joy by focusing on others, happy or sad, and being there for them. In Jesus' name, Amen~








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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Love in a Parking Lot~

Have you ever happened upon something,
something so precious,
something so indescribably beautiful,
something so breathtakingly,
awe-inspiring that you felt as though you shouldn't be seeing it?

That this moment was something so unique and so exquisite your presence there didn't belong?
That you were intruding?

I happened upon such a moment while waiting in a drive thru.

I was in a hurry. Isn't that most usually the case whenever one finds his or her self in a drive thru line? Tapping my fingers on the steering wheel in an effort to "move things along", I happened to glance to my right. That's when I saw it.

Love in the parking lot.

No, my eyes didn't catch a teenage couple getting a little too friendly. And no, I didn't gaze upon an elderly couple holding hands, still showing the sparks of romance after all these years. My eyes happened upon an elderly lady and who I assumed to be her daughter, dancing their way across the expanse of the parking lot.

Like poetry in motion, their feet slowly shuffled to the beat of the love between their hearts.
Step by step, motion by motion, move by move, these two were in sync.
If was obvious they had danced before.
In fact, dance was most likely their main mode of transportation.

The elderly lady, who no doubt had walked many a mile over her lifetime, could no longer walk on her own.  The passing of time had stolen her independence, her strength, her balance, her dignity. Now, arms that once carried children and hands that gently wiped away tears were wound tightly around another. The one who had been carried now carried them both.

The mother rested the weight of her body on the daughter, heart to heart; their bodies pressed together in a oneness that proved they had been waltzing for many years. Like two lovers gliding across a ballroom floor, this mother and daughter elegantly and oh so, slowly, made their way to across the asphalt.

As I watched, time stood still.
I was mesmerized by their movement.
I was captured by their grace.
I was challenged by their synchronized sway and two feet,
purposefully and yet, naturally moving as one.


As I watched, my heart was drawn to the Lover of my Soul, Jesus.


I could hear His invitation to dance.
I could see His outstretched, nail-scarred hand.
I could feel the strength of His heart as I began to lay the weight of my life,
the weight of me, the weight of my own heart on his.
I could taste the freedom of release as I let go and surrendered to His leading.
I could smell the fragrance of grace as we became one,
heart to heart,
dancing in unison across the span of life and on into eternity....


A honk from the car behind me jolted me back to reality,
back to the errands at hand,
back to life.


The younger lady turned her head in my direction and quickly I turned away,
hoping she hadn't seen me seeing the two of them, staring, with tears in my eyes.

As I paid for my order and waited for change, I stole one more glance over my shoulder.

As I drove away, I knew I would never be the same.










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Monday, May 2, 2016

On Cherries and Death~

I've never thought about cherries and death in the same thought before. Really, do you suppose anyone has? And yet, yesterday, as I was picking cherries from our cherry tree, these two things - cherries and death - were tumbling over and over in my mind and blending together.
Trying to intermingle them both in the same thought might seem like quite a stretch.  But honestly, here in this new place of trying to make sense in my mind of what often times seems senseless to my heart, is truly the greatest stretch of all.
I hadn't planned to pick the cherries. What started out as me simply grabbing the hose so I could give the turtles some water, led me to the side of the house and the cherry tree.  Reaching down to grab the nozzle of the hose, I found myself looking up from under a canopy of green leaves, dotted with cherries.
IMG_7044
Not ripe cherries.  Not quite ready to pick cherries. But, cherries red enough to be attracting birds who were willing to take a test bite to see if these cherries were "done".
"Crazy birds. Only a peck on this one and a little bite on that one.  Just enough to ruin the entire cherry! These aren't ready to be picked yet.  They could stay on the tree a little bit longer, but in order to save them from the birds, I think we should go ahead and pick them now."
You had spoken these words to me last year.  And, the year before that.  And the year before that.  And, as I stood there, I could hear you speaking them again as plain as yesterday.
So, I pulled the hose around to the back of the house, filled up the water dish for the turtles, and then headed back to the tree.
And, that's when it hit me:  This out of the blue notion of cherries and death somehow fitting together, somehow helping me take the broken pieces of my heart and fit them back together in a way that made sense.
As I stood on tiptoes, grabbing hold of one the highest branches and pulling it down to me, I felt my spirit reaching up as far as it could stretch to grasp a spiritual truth. As I  began to pluck each untouched, unmarred cherry still clinging to the branch, my memory was pricked by a scripture I had pondered over twenty-two years ago when your sister, Mary, passed away of cancer at the young age of 43.
Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. ~Isaiah 57:1
As this long-forgotten scripture resurfaced in my heart, I heard the words you had spoken year after year.
"Crazy birds. Only a peck on this one and a little bite on that one.  Just enough to ruin the entire cherry! These aren't ready to be picked yet.  They could stay on the tree a little bit longer,but in order to save them from the birds, I think we should go ahead and pick them now."
And, I thought about you.  61. Not young, but certainly not old.  In my humble human opinion, you were one not quite ready to be picked yet.  And we both know, if it had been up to me, I would have loved for you to stay on this earth quite a bit longer.
But, could it be -
the words of Isaiah are words that not only apply to your sister, but to you, as well?
Could it be, God, in His mercy and tender kindness was protecting you from the evil to come?
As I bent branches low, and plucked one unripe cherry after another, I couldn't stop wiping one tear after another.  And, I tried to understand the timing of harvest; taking now to prevent what might happen then.  Taking too soon before it becomes too late.
And, while it might be a stretch - a huge stretch indeed, to mingle cherries and death in a spiritual way, this new revelation brought peace to my heart.  It eased the heartache of missing you just a bit.  It opened the eyes of my heart to see a sliver of blessing peeking out between the dark clouds of sorrow and grief.  It caused me to look deeper, to understand greater, to appreciate stronger the heart of our God.
"He died way too soon."
"His life ended way before it should have."
"He was taken too early."
Written in cards of sympathy, spoken to me at your service, shared with me even still, these words always accompany news of your passing.  And until yesterday, until I stood beneath our cherry tree, plucking cherries that weren't quite ripe, these words hurt.
But now, I see them from a different angle.
I see them as a reminder of the goodness of our Heavenly Father.  I see them as proof of His tender love for His children.  I see them as a most precious gesture of protection and watchcare. I see them as words that bring healing and comfort.
And maybe, just maybe, this connection between cherries and death is the first step in me beginning to find peace in the pain.
And, I can't help but wonder what you would say about this "revelation".
If only I could tell you.  If only I could . . .

-----------------------------------------------

As I sort my way through this season of grief, I am coming to realize all the more, the precious gift the Lord gave me when words and His precious Holy Spirit mingle together. Wishing a million and one times a day I could tell my handsome honey something that happened, something I'm thinking, something God is doing, etc., I have started a new blog entitled, "If Only I Could . . .". I will still write here, but when I feel the need to write a post from a grieving place, I will post at my new writing place.
If you would like to follow me on this new journey, a journey of loving, missing, and living beyond, you can find my new blog, "If Only I Could", here.  You can also follow this new blog on Facebook  HERE.

Thank you so much for all the prayers, you, my faithful reader, have spoken on my behalf.  God is hearing and God is answering,  And me, I am so very grateful.




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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If Only I Could . . . (Saying Hello to a New Blog)

As soon as I step out the front door, I see it.
Big, bold, beautiful.
The first bloom on our hibiscus.
As soon as I see it, I whirl around and head straight for the front door, straight back inside to tell you. Only, as soon as my hand grasps the cold metal  of the doorknob, my heart grasps the cold, hard reality of your absence once more.
Tears spill down my cheeks and drop onto the welcome mat.
And, the longing of my heart spills out into words that aren't merely running through my mind, but are tumbling out my mouth. Out loud. For anyone and everyone to hear.
"If only I could tell you!  If only I could run inside, grab your hand, and lead you outside to see this beautiful bloom! If only I could . . ."
Tears take over and all I can do, despite all I wish I could do, is cry.
Looking down at the welcome mat, this new place I find myself, here without you, feels anything but welcome.
And, if truth be told, without you sharing our address, sharing our kitchen, sharing our conversation, sharing our prayers, sharing our bed, and sharing "us", I no longer feel welcome here either.
It's as all that once was, no longer is.
Everything is new. Only none of the new I am experiencing is welcome here either. None of it.
IMG_7009
Except, maybe, the beautiful bloom on our hibiscus.
I  still remember the day you bought it for me.  That day, knowing how much I love these big, bold, beautiful blooms, you were the one heading straight for the front door, straight inside to grab my hand and lead me out to see the new "beautiful" you had bought for me.
"Look, Beautiful!  Just for you! And, look how beautiful!  Just like you!"
I loved it. And, I loved you all the more because of it.
As I stand in the doorway, half way in and half way out, I realize I have a choice to make.
I can let this moment steal the beauty of what now is by longing for what used to be, or I can let this moment stir up thanksgiving for the beauty you have left behind.
As new tears slowly make their way down my cheek, landing once again on the welcome mat, I choose to welcome this new bloom, this new beginning, this new moment into my life.
"Thank you, Handsome. Thank you, that even now, you are still making my heart smile, still starting my day in a beautiful way, still reminding me of your love, still leading me out to see the beautiful new thing God is doing here in this new place."
If only I could tell you.  If only I could . . .

----------

As I sort my way through this season of grief, I am coming to realize all the more, the precious gift the Lord gave me when words and His precious Holy Spirit mingle together. Wishing a million and one times a day I could tell my handsome honey something that happened, something I'm thinking, something God is doing, etc., I have started a new blog entitled, "If Only I Could . . .". I will still write here, but when I feel the need to write a post from a grieving place, I will post at my new writing place.
If you would like to follow me on this new journey, a journey of loving, missing, and living beyond, you can find my new blog, "If Only I Could", here.  You can also follow this new blog on Facebook  HERE.

Thank you so much for all the prayers, you, my faithful reader, have spoken on my behalf.  God is hearing and God is answering,  And me, I am so very grateful.






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