✅ Christmas 2016

“…Christmas may have seemed impossible to get through, and yet, here you are.”

A dear friend of mine used to encourage me as I guided my heart to do things that; A) I didn’t want to do, B) things I didn’t think I was capable of doing after we lost David, or C) taking actions that would challenge me to be strong, whether in public or private.

My first trip to the grocery store, “Checkmark.” Attempting to focus on reading a book, “Checkmark.” Going in to get my hair cut and colored, “Checkmark.” That first Christmas, “Checkmark.” The first birthday, death anniversary, the list is long.

That was always her response. She didn’t say much else. She didn’t have to. She knew with each new thing I did, or with each old thing I struggled with but muddled through, was an accomplishment for my hurting heart. She knew it was a big deal for me.

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s incredibly difficult and no matter how recent your loss, getting through this Christmas may have seemed impossible to get through, and yet, here you are.

Maybe it went better than you thought it would. Maybe it was harder than you thought it would be. I know it looks different for each of you, but may I just tell you this, “Checkmark.” You got through it! I know it was a huge challenge for you. I know it was hard.

The dinner dishes are done. The presents have been opened. The house is quiet. So now what?

For me I will thank God for getting me through another day, another Christmas. Our seventh without David. This is a checkmark day for me too.

Dear friend,

Christmas 2016, ✅  This is just one of many checkmarks for you as you strive to live out your new normal. I would say that they are absolutely necessary for our healing and moving forward.

I know you can do it! I want to cheer you on, just like my friend Dawn did for me, and still does. Don’t stop laughing. Don’t stop loving. Don’t stop crying out to God.  Continue to guide your heart through your loss. Until next time.

Promises

Psalm 71:20-23         1 Peter 5:6-7, 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Thankful. Reclaim lost joy. Repeat.

Intentionally giving thanks guides our hurting hearts forward.

The holiday season trifecta kicks off today with Thanksgiving. It’s a happy time filled with family, food and being thankful, right?  Let’s be honest, this may not be true for you. In fact, if you’ve lost someone you love, no matter how recent, the holidays can be hard.

You may not feel like socializing because someone is missing and it’s hard to pretend otherwise. The elephant in the room tip toes around this fact, but elephants don’t tip toe. Just sayin. It’s hard on us and everyone else around us. They’re hurting too.

They know you’re in pain as you pass the potatoes, try to engage in conversations you’ve zoned out of, or as you grab another adult beverage. There’s nowhere to hide. You just want the day to be done, and as you drive back home, the smile you managed for the duration of the gathering slowly fades away.

Do the words “thankfulness” and “grieving” even go together? I’d say they’re opposites, but I believe these two emotions can be weaved together in a way that can help us in our suffering.

Intentionally giving thanks guides our hurting hearts forward. I know if I avoid this for long periods of time, my heart will become stagnant, preventing me from moving forward while also prolonging my healing.

I knew there were things to be thankful for after we lost David, I just didn’t want to think about them. The weight of the scale didn’t tip toward thankfulness. It tipped toward loss. How could I muster up a spirit of thankfulness, not just on this day but the remaining 364?

As I was preparing this post, something struck me. I think it’s incredible really. The first time my husband Mike and I acknowledged thankfulness after losing David was the day we lost David. Mike held me tight that night and thanked God for “getting us through the day.” Consequent prayers were the same, “God, Thank-you for getting us through another day.”

I was amazed Mike was even able to do this!  Wow! We were pleading for God to help us through this nightmare while at the same time thanking Him for sustaining us while we were smack dab in the middle of it all. Weird huh?… Could God have been hearing us and answering our prayers simultaneously? It would certainly seem so. To this day, Mike still prays these words each night.

The list of things I’m thankful for has slowly grown, but instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I discovered I could be thankful for what I’ve been given, what I currently have to be thankful for.

I have family and friends who love me and depend on me. I smile more now. I laugh more. There was a time when I couldn’t even tap my foot to music. I can do that now. I can get lost in beautiful sunsets. I can smile and laugh when I see cows cooling themselves in farm ponds. Yeah, that’s really a thing. More importantly, I can also thank God for the 18 years we had with David, 18 precious years I will always treasure. I can also thank God for getting me through each day without him.

Look, I know this doesn’t bring our loved ones back, but little by little it does bring much-needed relief to our souls. I’ll be praying for you. Let’s do this together; Be Thankful, Reclaim lost joy. Repeat.

Check out the GriefShare website for helpful ways to cope during the holidays. https://www.griefshare.org/

 

Dear friend,

I pray you will search for things to be thankful for today and every day, even if it’s a short list. No matter. It’s a start. Thankfulness turns our pain into hope for our future. It takes our focus off what we don’t have and replaces it with what we do. It brings back the joy we thought we’d lost the day our loved one died.

Though our lives have been devastated by our loss, we can know that we know that with each day that passes we are reminded that it’s one more day God has gotten us through. Hey, this could go at the top of your list. Grab a pen. Let’s get started…

Promises

Psalm 118:24     Psalm 118:28-29

Another Missed Birthday

“..the tears of anguish I shed today ultimately feed my soul because I know that Jesus holds each precious tear in His hand.”

(revised from a 2013 entry on October 4)

Rain washes over the trees and flowers giving them strength and nourishment to thrive in between each necessary rainfall. I believe the same is true when we allow ourselves to grieve the loss of those we love and miss. It needs to happen.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel the pain in our loss, mourn what will never be and allow the emotional floodgates to open up to express all that is bottled up inside us. It will come out one way or another. Maybe tears are replaced by anger, bitterness or wavering faith. Whatever this looks like for you, don’t ignore what your feeling.

When the gale force winds have pounded my heart, trampled my spirit and made me questions God’s goodness, I have also, simultaneously felt the gentle rains of God’s grace and overwhelming mercy as He lovingly guides me through the storm…It’s an odd duo isn’t it? We often think that God isn’t with us during those difficult times, when in fact, He is.

As odd as it may seem, the tears of anguish I shed today ultimately feed my soul because I know that Jesus holds each precious tear in His hand. So once again I cry out to God in prayer. I’m thankful for the sustaining strength and nourishment God has given to me in the past. Surely He will help me on this day too.

This is a sad day. I miss David so much. In my daily brokenness I still have to cultivate my faith. I can’t phone it in. It takes effort. What will that look like today? I will spend uninterrupted time allowing the tears to flow and will spend time in prayer, pouring out my heart to God. He’s heard it before but that’s okay. He wants me to go to Him.

If I’m smart I’ll go to God’s Word and re-visit the promises I’ve learned since losing David and claim them all over again. I may even re-read earlier journal entries to see how God has continued to sustain me since that dreadful day in June of 2010. God is still here with me. He hasn’t gone anywhere. He is with me today as I fall apart and He is with me always.

Dear friend,

I don’t know what you’re struggling with today, but I pray as you walk through it you will cling to God, knowing that this sort of cleansing must happen. Draw near to God.  Let His grace wash over you just like the rain nourishes the trees. Soak it in dear friends. Soak it in.

PROMISES: James 4:8