Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 469

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
Sept. 15, 2014

Day 469

A little more awake tonight than when I was when I wrote my last post, so, hopefully I'll sound a little more connected!

I had a delightful 3+ hour lunch today with two of my favorite ladies, Carol and Jeanne.  Carol is my mom's age and goes to my church. I adore her - she's so "un-old," Jeanne is 81 and a good friend of Carol's.  I met her last Jan. when her second husband was in hospice care.  Actually, her first husband was one of my professors at Faith 25 yrs ago.  Small world.  Jeanne is going to be a guest speaker on widow issues for a class at Faith next month and it sounds like I may get to tag along for that.  I'm excited!

We ended up talking about  remarriage, though.  Even though I am determined to not date until the three year mark has occurred, the subject keeps coming up with people!  I don't know if it's because I think about it or if it's because I'm past the one year mark and people are just wondering what I'm planning to do with my  life.  But anyway, I was pretty touched when Carol and Jeanne informed me that they are not going to let me make a mistake when it comes to this all-important decision - that they intend to be right there vetting any potential second husbands and making sure I'm not about to mess up my life.  Sweet friends...I appreciate their wisdom and concern for me.

Tonight the boys had their first flag football game of the season.  I had to miss my mom's group to attend which I didn't want to do at all.  I felt so torn.  Will drove down to help coach but ended up playing because they were short a player.  He was pretty tickled about that, even though he's got a bad cold right now that is working its way into his chest.  He was even more tickled when he found his good football in the tub of equipment.  That thing disappeared a year ago but he was positive he had not left it on the field and ultimately ended up replacing it.

Really, though, I'm just thankful I got to go anywhere after the day I had yesterday.  Oh, man...So, Iowa is kind of a big deal when it comes to politics.  Every year Sen. Harkin has this steak fry in Indianola, which is where I go to church.  It's held right off Hwy 92 which where my church is located and the highway I take to go home.  It's kind of a big deal for Democrats.  Actually, it's a huge deal.  This is the last one because after 40 years (! Term limits, anyone?) Harkin is finally hanging up his liberal hat and retiring.  Everyone who is anyone in the fairy tale world of Democrats was to be at this thing.  The Clintons were there, the national media was there, and all kinds of Democratic senators and representatives and people who like to hob nob with the elites paid big money to attend, too. 

I didn't really think anything about it as I pulled out of the church parking lot and onto the highway.  I'm toodling along and soon I realized I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic as vehicle after vehicle got in line to attend the steak fry.  I just wanted to go home and eat my chicken in the crockpot.  It was kind of interesting, a little bit.  We did see a group of protesters holding up signs asking questions about Benghazi and suggesting that Obama should be impeached.  But mostly, it was all leftist propaganda.  Huge posters staked into the ground encouraged people to vote democrat if they want to solve global warming (eyeball rolling here).  Others exclaimed, "Run, Hillary, Run!" (more eyeball rolling on my part).  There wasn't a thing I could do except sit tight and enjoy the show.  I should have gone up Hwy 69, construction and all and circled back through Carlisle.  Even with the construction delays and backtracking it would have been faster than this circus.

And then, my van died - right in the middle of traffic.  Having a non-functioning vehicle in traffic is right at the top of my THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT list.  In fact, last month when I took my van in for alignment I asked them to check things out to make sure I wasn't in any immediate risk for this very type of event.  They missed something, but we'll get to that later.  Holy cow - what to do now?  There's a car in front of me and another on my bumper.  I put the van in park and restarted it, which it did,  But then it died.  Each time my battery light would come on and the engine would shoot to "hot."  I thought - alternator?  But those usually give you some type of warning they're on the fritz.  I did this twice more before I pulled over to the shoulder.  By this point I wanted to hyperventilate.  Just in front of us on the same stretch of shoulder were protesters.  These ones held up pictures of dead Palestinians and called for the destruction of Israel - or something like that.  The world is truly coming to an end.  Biblical prophecy is unfolding right before my eyes, just up the road from my own church and I have a dead van.  It would have been an excellent time for the rapture!

I called my pastor, who ultimately ended up coming with his son.  I felt so bad later when it dawned on me that it was his birthday and I had just interrupted his birthday lunch!  He assured me all was well, but I still feel bad about that.  I then called AAA but I didn't get very far with them because I couldn't tell the guy where exactly I was.  There were too many people and too many protesters for me to read the street sign up ahead.  In the meantime, David had called Will and described what was happening.  It didn't take long for Will to call back and tell us he was pretty sure my serpentine belt had slipped off.  David jumped out, popped the hood, and sure enough, the belt was not on the track where it should be.  But I couldn't fix that. 

We were waiting for Pastor to show up and pretty soon this long black car with very dark tinted widows pulled up behind us.  My first thought was, "Secret Service - I am in SO much trouble!"  But the guy that got out looked like media, so maybe he just snagged a ride with an SS guy - if that's what it was in the first place.

Eventually, Pastor made it and we pushed my van further over on the shoulder.  We got pretty close to the anti-Israel protestors and I thought it might be a shame if my van tire "accidentally" rolled over someone's foot.  They were fortunate, is all I can say.  Pastor brought me the church van, handed me the keys, helped load the kids up in it, and told me to keep it as long as I needed it.  What a blessing!  Then, he stood out in traffic, held up his hand to stop the onslaught of traffic and I was able to pull out and drive home.  That was my first time ever driving a full-size van, too.

Later in the afternoon, Will came down.  He got some tools, a remnant piece of carpet from our remodeling,  and the hydraulic jack out of the garage.  We drove over there and Will commented that last summer, while working at camp, he ended up working on two vans just like mine, so he had a good idea of what to do (God at work again!).  He took off the tire, removed the cover, and discovered that the tensioner, a piece of equipment that holds the belt had gone out.  He's guessing that when the new belt was put on last month it "snapped" enough for the mechanics to assume it was still working so they didn't know it needed to be replaced.  The past few weeks that belt has slowly been working its way off.

I shudder because I drove to Iowa City last Wed and I'm doing it again next Wed.  Yes, it was rather embarrassing and inconvenient to get caught up in the Democrat traffic jam, but better there than on the highway two hours from home.  Better to do it in Indianola where I have friends that can help.  And how fortunate am I to have a son who knew what to do and who wasn't hours and hours away at college?  All it took was about an hour of time on Will's part and a $43 replacement part.  But, thankfulness and all, I am very happy that yesterday is OVER!

Actually, yesterday's event has caused me to realize that there would probably be some wisdom in beginning to search for a second vehicle now.  I don't have anything else to drive if something happens to my van.  I want to replace our truck, anyway, with a dual cab one that would fit most of us.  David will be driving next summer and I'll need a second vehicle then.  I don't really want him driving a truck for his first vehicle but Will and I have discussed the possibility of having David start out in his car and Will take the new truck.  So, we're going to start nosing around on Craig's List and see what we can find.  As much as I intend to keep my van upkept and road worthy it's just the nature of the beast for things to wear out more and more as they get older.  I need to have a back-up in place for when those times happen.

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I am getting another debit card again.  I have been going through those things like candy this last year.  It's really annoying because I have a number of payments that are tied to that card and every time I have to replace the card, I have to notify all those creditors.  I got caught up in the Target breach last winter and was issued a new card.  And then I went and lost that card a few months later and had to get a new one (grrr).  David found it in the van about an hour after I got home from the bank :( And then this summer I bought my lawn mower at Home Depot.  I never shop at that place but they were the only ones who carried the mower I wanted.  And of course the news broke a week or so ago about a credit card breach at Home Depot.  I wasn't surprised when my bank called me late last week and said, "Uh, we're sending you a new card."  Argh!  Seriously?!  This almost makes me see the value of being a cash-only customer.  I mean, I am cash only in that I don't use credit, but maybe carrying around bills with me is the way to go instead.  This is getting old.

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I'm going to a concert next month with Will.  He invited me to go as his (paying) date.  He's taking a music appreciation class this semester and has to attend 3 classical concerts.  The Piano Guys are doing one night in Des Moines so he thought that would be a good way to fulfill one of the concert requirements.  I don't really know anything about them so I youtubed one of their performances and enjoyed it.  They have a unique twist on the classics.  Will said a lot of his classmates are going to this particular concert.  And apparently, he's still willing to take his mother, even though he is risking being seen with me by his peers!  I am rather flattered.  I think he's going to surprise Lizzie and take her to one of the other concerts that he has to attend later.  It was my idea and Will was agreeable.  She is going to be thrilled down to the tips of  her toes to do something alone with her big brother!

That concert, though, is the same week as the NBA pre-season game that we have tickets for - being held in the same place, too!  That will be a busy week, that's for sure.

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Sara and the girls came down Friday afternoon/evening.  She brought cupcakes and party plates and treats for the Littles to celebrate the girls' one year adoption anniversary (this Friday).  How many people would think to do that for someone else's kids?  She's something else.  We went to the mall, as usual, and  ended up spending quite a bit of time at Barnes and Noble.  I found myself in the magazine section, perusing the selections.  Nothing appealed to me.  And then I realized what I was subconsciously looking for:

A magazine on widowhood

Pretty sure that doesn't exist.  They have magazines about motorcycles, weddings, Hollywood, cooking, travel,  sports, home remodeling, and electronics, but I am fairly certain there are no magazines out there devoted to the subject of death and dying.

Maybe there should be.

When I realized what I was looking for, though, I kind of laughed at myself in a rather sardonic manner.  And then I joined my kids over in the children's section and watched them play with the train set and forced myself to sit down, relax, and enjoy their moments.

They don't need to read a magazine on coping with life after death.  They're living it.  I could take a few lessons from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 467

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
Sept. 13, 2014

Day 467

Dear Paul,

Fifteen months...and I'm still hurting.  Some nights, like tonight, it feels like you just left instead of it being more than a year ago.  Of course, it doesn't help when I crawl on YouTube looking for songs about death and loss.  Music has been huge for me since you've died, but sometimes it stirs up sadness that quickly becomes overwhelming.  You know what songs I like best, though?  The ones about Heaven and the ones that give reminders that of how happy you are and how much the kids and I are being held - still.

I have a new picture on my desk right here by the computer.  Actually, it's an old picture.  It's the one I should have used for the funeral brochure but I was in such a daze I didn't even think of it at the time.  It doesn't matter.  It's the picture taken of us at that Murder Mystery theater we visited in Denver three months before you died.  Remember that night?  It was so much fun.  We both laughed a lot that night.  Before the evening was over you asked the neighbors to our left to snap our picture and she caught our happiness on the camera.  That's the picture that's on our gravestone now.  I've had it in a little 4X6 sitting on one of the shelves you made above the sink for the past year.  I've probably looked at it a thousand times.  I was given a beautiful 5X7 frame by some on-line friends after your death and I finally had that same picture enlarged and now it's right here.  Every time I look at it, I'm startled to see your smiling face looking at me. I suppose in time I'll get used to it being here on my desk and not think anything of it so much. We both look so relaxed in the picture.  What a special trip that was...

Life is moving along.  You know how busy it was before you died - it seems even busier now.  Today was one of those perfect fall Saturdays.  The Hawkeyes were playing (they lost - you probably already know that, but if you didn't, I know you're not surprised by the news), the air was crisp and cool, and Will came home.  He stayed here all day.  I told him I loved having "all my chicks under one roof" but then I immediately felt sad because I was reminded that, for the rest of my life, there will always be someone missing.

I'm moving along, too.  I'm giving a lot of thought to my future these days, trying to figure out if I should go back to college or not and thinking about  when the right time to pursue gaining some employment would be.  Sometimes I'm resentful that I have to consider these things.  I wasn't supposed to have to worry about supporting our kids.  That was your job.  Mine was just to manage the money and take care of the house and kids.  Now I have to do it all.  Sometimes I almost feel mad about that, but mostly, I'm just sad.  I know you would have never wanted this for me - back when your perspective was purely human.  Now, I have a feeling that you have the ability to see the good things that this type of hardship is creating in me, even if I only see the difficulty of it.

I'm changing, though - mostly in good ways, I think.  Yesterday Marcia was here and she commented that she has seen growth in me since your death.  I know that's a good thing, and it's nice to hear,  but I would have preferred growth to come in a different way.  I'm pretty sure we don't get to choose what grows us, though!  I know we don't.

I find myself thinking sometimes more frequently now about marrying again someday.  A long, long time from now...I know you'd be the first to tell me to go for it.  And I probably will if I can find anyone that will want me...someone who measures up to what you were to me.  All that will come in good time and in God's timing so I'm honestly not in any hurry.  I have a feeling I've got some growing to do first as I learn to be more independent. But I know that even if the day does come that I'm able to love again, you will always lay claim to a chunk of my heart.

I didn't hop on my computer tonight to tell you all this, anyway.  I just wanted to tell you that I still miss you.  Some days it's more of a familiar, far-away ache and then there are times, like tonight, when it's sharper.  I miss hearing you clear your throat, I miss the low, tenor drumbeat sound of hearing you talk on your phone in the back room (which, by the way, doesn't exist anymore - it's all one big open space, just the way you'd planned it).  I miss seeing the relief in your eyes when you'd step into the house, dirty and dog-tired, but your eyes would light up as if to say, "Finally - I'm home!"  I miss the sound of your shaver in the morning and the sight of your workboots on the kitchen floor.  I miss the warmth of your body in our bed.  I still sleep with your pillow, every single night.  I wrap my arms around it and sometimes I can almost pretend it's you I'm holding.

I also miss being able to threaten the kids during the day, "Do you want me to have to call your dad?"  But that's a complaint for another time!  On that, all I can say is that God, apparently, has more confidence in me than I do.  Parenting alone is, by far, the hardest task I've ever taken on.  We thought things were tough when we were given a special needs baby - piece of cake.  And when the girls came we exclaimed to eachother, "This is SO hard!"  It was, but there are even more difficult tasks, I've found.  I can hear you whispering, "Philippians 4:13" in my ear right now...

I miss you - so much.  I'm healing, though.  I really am.  A year ago, I was a shattered mess.  I still feel pretty broken, but there's a strength behind that brokenness that is growing a little bit every day.  I have a feeling you're probably proud of me, but more than that, I think you're mostly filled with awe and love toward our God Who is enabling me to do what I never imagined I could.  Because I couldn't  - not without His strength flowing through his scarred, loving hands.

I know there's probably some moments you are face-palming yourself, too as you watch some of my more dumb moments as I blunder along this journey.  Hopefully, God is reserving your glimpses of earth for more of my stellar moments and keeping those times of my idiocy to Himself!

Oh, Paul...we never imagined this, did we?  But here we are separated by this temporary veil.  One day, soon, I hope this will all be over and we'll be reunited on Heaven's shores.  Until then,

I'm missing you, loving you, and appreciating you far more than I did when you were alive.

Always,

Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 464

DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
September 10, 2014

Day 464

What a day.  I did not get a single thing accomplished except making some pumpkin bars.  Of course, when you spend 4 hours driving and a couple of hours in Iowa City, it kind of shoots the entire day.

That wouldn't be so bad except that two weeks from today I'll be doing it all over again.  And then I have to go back again.  And when Ben has surgery (!) it will be yet another IA City trip.  Ugh.

I honestly thought this was a one-time deal.  I couldn't get anyone to do Ben's fillings here, was sent to IA City and I thought they were going to take care of them and send us home!  But no, as it turned out this visit was merely a consultation in which I had to detail Ben's entire dental history along with his behaviors from infancy onward regarding dental treatment.

Bottom line: he now has 4 cavities, two on each side.  Since he tolerated having his teeth counted well today they want to try to fill them normally, with a Novocain and a drill.  Ben hasn't had that since we used to papoose him at Creighton school of dentistry when he was between ages 3 - 8.  Our last dentist in Clive did only laser work which Ben tolerated wonderfully.  IA City wants to do this in two separate visits.  But, if he panics and it doesn't work out then we'll probably just do it surgically because...

Ben's wisdom teeth have to come out.  I hadn't even thought about that.  Will still has his and hasn't been bothered by them so I didn't stop to think that Ben is probably at an age where his are maturing.  The dentist said with the shape of Ben's mouth there is "no way" the teeth are going to come in on their own.  I'm thinking that maybe we should do everything surgically then, anyway, since the teeth are going to have to come out.  But they're telling me that they'd like to see if Ben can handle dental work while awake because if he can then maybe they can do the wisdom teeth in a chair with an IV rather than having to do it at the hospital.  Ok...but that means I'm going to be spending a lot of gas money and time running to Iowa City for all this...sigh...

Actually, if it works out, I'd like to postpone the wisdom teeth removal until next summer so he doesn't have to miss any school.  If I could get it scheduled after he goes to camp and before David starts Driver's Ed (I'll have to load all 5 kids up twice a day to take and retrieve him for about 2 weeks of classes) that would work best I think.

I may have to contact Transportation Reimbursement (Medicaid service) in regards to paying for these trips.  These people are a nightmare to work with, which is why I gave up a few years ago trying to get them to pay for Ben's medical trips.  The stress wasn't worth it.  But with a minimum of 3 more IA City trips in my near future, I'm going to need some help.

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So that is that for now, anyway.  What else?

Oh, I have a leak.  All that rain yesterday.  I'm not sure exactly what we got.  I guess I should go look in the wheelbarrow that's been sitting in my front yard for the last week - I'd probably have a good idea then.  But most surrounding cities are reporting totals of 4-6".  My basement stayed perfectly dry, praise the Lord.  But we discovered a wet ceiling panel in the kitchen today.  It came through that old bathroom window upstairs.  That window is actually scheduled to be replaced, along with Will's bedroom window when I have the siding done next month.  I think that window is so ancient the rain went right through it.  I am fearful that there may be an awful lot of wood rot that will be discovered when they go to replace it (which is going to translate into a more expensive job).  I know when Paul replaced the windows on the opposite side of the upstairs in the girls' bedroom he ended up rebuilding the entire wall!  I am also praying the rain did not get into the new drywall there in the kitchen that's right beside where the leak has shown up.  Sometimes I hate being a homeowner.  Correction: I hate being a SINGLE homeowner.  It wasn't too bad when Paul was alive.

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I'm really missing him today - and not just because of my leaky ceiling.  I think a trigger for me is long trips when the kids are either being exceptionally quiet or I'm alone.  Ben had his headphones on the entire time so it was just the radio and me for 4 hours.  It's not the depression or feelings of hopelessness, though.  It's just grief.  By now, I recognize its sharp edges and am even comfortable with its presence.  It is no longer paralyzing.  I feel it coming on, kind like a black cloak is descending over me.  Its pointy edges burrow into my stomach and chest and it just sits there for a time and then it quietly leaves - sometimes after a few hours, sometimes a few days.

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Lizzie lost another tooth this week, this time a canine tooth on the bottom.  She's getting a decided jack-o-lantern look to her smile!  She showed me her remaining top tooth and that's sitting cockeyed now, too.  She told me she's been wiggling it really hard because she heard me say I hoped she'd have both teeth out before she gets her birthday pictures done next month.  Oh, Lizzie...I told her to stop it.  I didn't mean she needed to pull out her teeth just to please me!

One night this week I found her curled up on the floor with her blanket and pillow.  I managed to rouse her enough to get her to climb back into her bed.  The next morning I asked her why she had been on the floor and she said simply, "Oh, there was a spider in my bed."  Well, that might make me sleep on the floor, too...

I was at Goodwill with her last Friday and while I was standing in line she was browsing through all the stuff on display near the check-out aisle.  There was a rack of granny panties that I presume some store couldn't sell and donated.  I wonder why they always feature a youngish woman on those panty packages?  I don't think anyone under 60 wears those kind of underwear!  But Lizzie, who is not a quiet child, had to pipe up, "Oh, look, Mom!  This is the kind of underwear YOU wear!"  And of course, the checkout lane at Goodwill was exceptionally long when she made her erroneous observation!

Yesterday, I took the Littles to a kid consignment store while David was at Learning RX.  While there, Sam and Lizzie asked to get their Halloween costumes.  It was as good as time as any, so I was agreeable.  Sam chose a camo hunting costume.  I made Lizzie narrow her choices down to three to try on.  One was a bear with a furry brown head.  Lizzie looked at herself in the mirror and seriously commented, "Well, it's a good thing I'm already brown because I match!"  I couldn't help it - I laughed!  She ended up going with a white Cleopatra costume, though.  It looked just stunning against her previously mentioned brown skin.  Unfortunately for her, she lives in Iowa and there's no way I'm going to let her traipse all over town bare-armed the last night of October - not unless I want a sick kid for the next week!  So we're going to have to find a white turtleneck to put under that, along with some long underwear and sweatpants!

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There is a great deal of satisfaction I am finding in knowing that you raised a child and you raised him well.  I had one of those moments yesterday when Will texted me a picture of one of the pages in a book he's reading for a class.  He wrote, "should be 'accepted,'right?"  He had found an error - "excepted" instead of "accepted."  He makes me proud.  I suspect that what he was reading was probably old English and they did some funky stuff with the language back then.  But I'm just pleased as all get out that he knows the difference between the two words and can recognize misusage!

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I had a brainstorm this week about the basement desks.  Paul had his desk and I had mine, which is actually a painted metal, drop-leaf antique table from the 50s.  After he died I did re-do the files in his desk drawers to make them easier for me to access and rearranged some of the other drawers.  But I haven't actually used his desk for much, other than storing some scrapbooking supplies on top of it.  Last week I found myself frustrated as I attempted to pay bills amidst all the clutter of crafty things on my table.  But I've always paid bills there - that's MY space and Paul's desk was his.  A couple of days later it suddenly occurred to me that there is no reason I can't use Paul's desk for my own now.  Why not use my table only for scrapbooking and other crafty endeavors and use Paul's desk for bill paying and organization?  It's an obvious solution but it took me this long to come up with it!  I got that all switched around and oh, it's  nice now!

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I'm nearly done with my "Widows Wear Stilettos" book.  I really have appreciated this book.  It's a practical widows manual covering all kinds of topics regarding this new station in life.  One thing the author covers is eventual dating and remarriage.  She even tells you what to say and what not to say on a first date about your deceased mate.  That's good to know.  Knowing myself, I'd probably lay out the whole sorry story of Paul's death on my first date and scare off the poor guy.  One thing she brought up that I thought was interesting was that a lot of men don't want to date widows.  That surprised me because I would think that a man would appreciate a widow (obviously faithful - stood by her man until the end) over a divorcee.  But the author said that men, by and large, prefer the divorced because they don't feel then like they have to compete with a dead man.  Plus, a divorced woman probably has some animosity toward her former husband, so he's definitely going to look good in comparison.  But a widow - too much "baggage" was the word the author used.

Well, that's depressing to those of us hoping to find love again someday!  But, I have to remind myself that all this is said leaving God out of the equation.  The right man won't be scared off.

Someday - not now.  I'm just thinking ahead.

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That's all I've got.  I want to take a bath and crawl into bed.  I've got my electric blanket back on my bed and I think I will appreciate that tonight.  Fall arrived quickly this year.  I'm not complaining! I love the cooler temps and putting away of summer.  Fall is comforting.

I hope my section of Heaven is in an eternal autumn state - leaves crunching on the ground, pumpkins decorating the front porch of my mansion, a fire crackling inside the front door...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sunshine


Sept. 9, 2014

Sunshine

 

And just like that...the sun came out.  Not outside.  It's actually been pouring torrentially off and on for the past 6 hours.  I helped serve the students tonight at Simpson College's "Food for the Soul" (area churches take two nights a school year feeding the students at the religious center) which meant going in and out of our church and then in and out over there and then in and out back again at church- in a downpour.  I made my way home in rain so heavy I could barely see, praying that I wouldn't drive into a flooded area on the road.  I came home absolutely drenched and chilled.  Even though it was only 7 pm I announced to the kids that I was going to take a shower so I could, "dry off," (thinking ahead to after my shower when I would be warm and dry again).  David looked at me and said, "Uh, I don't think taking a shower is going to get you dry!" 

 

But inside my soul, the sun is shining.  I know others have been praying for me.  I have no doubt.  As far as depressions go, mine really didn't last all that long.  I know people who live their entire lives in depressed states.  Personality-wise, I actually fall into the "Melancholy" category which doesn't mean I'm depressed, but it means I have a creative, deep-thinking type of personality and those types of personalities do tend to lend themselves to depression more than the other three types.  I do not live my life on a "high" either - I'm not a people person, although I like most people.  I'm not sanguine, I'm don't bounce in excitement, and jump from one high spot to another.  I'm really pretty steady and usually rather content, neither happy nor unhappy.

 

Until the last few weeks.  Looking back, I think I've been in a steady decline since the anniversary of Paul's death.  It's just been in the past few weeks that I became acutely aware of my unhappiness and frustrated as I sought to escape its burden.

 

Sunday changed things for me.  I don't mind going to church.  I have continued to go faithfully for the kids' sake, if not my own.  A great deal of my social life and emotional support is found in my church.  But it's been more of a struggle this summer to actually listen.  When you are grieving it is so easy to dismiss a lot of what you hear  especially if the speaker has not walked a similar path of travail.  The kids were not the only reason I've continued to be faithful to be church, of course.  I know it's the right thing to do.  I also instinctually recognized that if I was ever to recover from this malaise, it wasn't going to happen of my own doing.  God was the only one who could recognize me and who's to say He might not do it in church?  Seems like a good place to start to me, anyway.

 

The first thing that caught my attention Sunday was the little Horizons insert in the bulletin.  This week they had an article written about trusting God's sovereignty in both the little frustrations of life, along with, of course, the great trials.  What caught my attention the most was a series of points the author drew out of Psalm 139.  That particular psalm is the one most commonly used to point to God's view on the value of life in the womb.  That's what I've pretty much associated it with.  But here are the points that so captivated me:

 

V.1 God has searched us and known us

(My thoughts) He KNOWS me.  He knows me right now, while I'm hurting and depressed and unable to think like I normally do

 

v.2 He knows when we sit and when we stand

If he knows even these minute details about my life, then how much more does He know about my pain and troubling thoughts?

 

v. 2,3 He discerns our thoughts, and He is acqainted with all our ways

He knows what's typical for me and He knows that I've been struggling with isn't normal

 

v. 4 He knows our every thought, even before we do

Not even Paul could claim that, and he knew me better than anybody

 

v.5 He has put a hedge or protection around us and laid His protecting hand on us

Widowed, I feel so vulnerable without the protection of my husband.  But I have a Protector even greater than Paul ever was

 

v. 7-12 We can never slip out of His sight

No matter what and no matter where my frail mind may take me

 

v. 10-12 He leads us and holds us

Oh, yes, he does.

 

v. 13-16 We learn that He had laid out His plans for us before our bodies were even formed

Billions of people throughout history, but yet He has a plan for ME!

 

v. 16 We learn that He thinks of us constantly. In fact, He wrote our very "members," or parts, in His book

Paul used to sometimes list off  to me all of his favorite body parts of mine, from the obvious to silly ones, like the back of my knees.  I am so precious to God that He has written down everything there is to know about me!

 

v. 19 He will slay the wicked

Those that have wronged me during this time of grief, and other times, too, will be held accountable.  Maybe it shouldn't, but that fact does give me a certain amount of satisfaction!

 

v. 23, 24 He will search us and try us, and know our hearts, leading us in His everlasting way

Because I am so loved, testing will happen in an attempt to refine me and make me more like Him.  I am THAT important to Him!

 

* Credit to Trisha Johnson who came up with these points in her article

 

During the Sunday School hour I read these truths, repeatedly. I just couldn't get enough of them.  I suddenly felt hope. I also pulled out the 3X5 card I had written the passage I'm memorizing on and worked on that.  I'm sure Pastor did a good job with Sunday School, but I didn't hear a lot of it!

 

Then, church started.  Pastor always begins with reading a passage of Scripture.  This time he read two chapters of Psalms, 42, and 43.  Now, I know I have read these chapters before but suddenly, I was hearing them with different ears.  It was like this shell that formed around my emotions and soul this summer began to crack.

 

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.[c]

O my God,[d] my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Prayer to God in Time of Trouble


43 Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

 

I found my eyes welling up and as soon as we were praying, I was whipping out a tissue to wipe them as fast as I could.  You know me - can't let anyone know I'm actually human and shed real tears sometimes.

I didn't put two and two together right away, so I was delighted when I realized that Psalm 42 was the text of the morning.  For the first time in forever, I took out the note sheet that was also in the bulletin and managed to secure a working pen out of my purse.  I couldn't jot things down fast enough. 

I wasn't alone.  A long time ago, King David also dealt with depression and felt far from God.  He was a mighty warrior, chosen by God to lead His people and yet, He was reduced to running for His life and hiding in caves.  He knew what it was to walk closely and intimately with the Lord.  But he felt abandoned.

 I know he felt.

King David felt overwhelmed by life's trials.  In verse 7 he says, "deep calls to deep" which sounds terribly poetic.  What it means - and I didn't know this - was wave after wave was crashing in on him.  How often have I felt that since Paul's death?  How often this summer alone, have I had that very thought of feeling like the hits keep coming. that I am drowning in despair?

But in this chapter, we see three things David chose to do.  He did these things even though he was discouraged and depressed.  He didn't wait until he felt better.  He talked to himself of God's truth, rather than talking about his circumstances to himself, as my pastor put it.  He forced himself to remember the good things God had already done in His life, the ways He had shown Himself to David over and over.  David challenged himself to do what he was supposed to do.  He vowed to put his hope in God.  My pastor said that word, "hope" actually translates in Hebrew to a word meaning to "wait on God's timing."  That one hit me.  In the last few weeks I've just had myself tied up in knots, trying to figure out my future.  Suppose God might just show me His plan for my life if I wait?

And then lastly, David chose to praise God.  You know, in the months since Paul's death I have pondered the phrase taken from  Psalm 50 - offering a "sacrifice of praise."  Just what is a sacrifice of praise?  The words don't seem to go together.  Could it be - and I am conjecturing here because I honestly have no idea - that a sacrifice of praise is one we make and is especially honored when it's one we make when we least feel like praising God?  It's praise that comes from a heart riven in two by our circumstances?  I don't know - just a thought I've been pondering for awhile. 

Well, this sermon about did me in.  I know it wasn't written specifically for me, but sitting in that pew Sunday, it felt like it was.  I felt the hardened, weary edges of my heart crack and fall away.  I can't even write about it without getting weepy all over again.

So am I "cured" after one really amazing Sunday morning?  Uh, no...I'm not so sure it really works that way.  But God moved and He answered my prayers for deliverance.  It's not that I'm not going to continue to struggle with depression and sadness and weariness.  I'm only 15 months into this journey. My entire life has been turned upside down and I am bearing overwhelming burdens. I don't say that dramatically or to engender sympathy from others.  It's simply the way things are right now.   I'm pretty sure that these things, the depression and so forth,  are  going to be nipping at my heels for a very long time.  If nothing else, I have gained a new understanding and compassion for those that struggle in the grips of depression on a regular basis.

But depression is not going to have the victory.  I'm not going to let it.

I've been reading a book by Beth Moore lately, without knowing much about her life or ministry.  The book is really opening my eyes to the insidious way that Satan works in the life of the Believer and his intense hatred for those of us who claim Christ.  I think I've been pretty naive and insulated for most of my Christian life.  But now, looking back on the past weeks, I can see that Satan was at work.  No, he didn't tempt me to fall into any great sin and I haven't shamed my name or that of Christ.  But He was whispering lies to me and allowing me to focus on how I felt instead of what I knew to be true.

So that's where I am right now.  The sun has come out.  Tomorrow I might be sad again and feel sucked down into the mire once again.  But I don't have to stay there.

I feel free.

**************************************

I have a whole list of other things to write about, but they're going to have to wait.  My melatonin are kicking in and I still have to do my nails and eat something before collapsing.  Tomorrow I take Ben to Iowa City for his teeth.  I don't know how long that will take but I'd like to hit a couple of children's consignment stores out there and still get home in time to drop Ben off at the farmer's market to work, go home, whip up some supper, and go retrieve Ben again,  and get to church on time.  I promised to help with the Patch Club kids tomorrow night (since two of them are mine, I'm kind of obligated, I think!) if Ben feels up to going at all with his mouth.  It will be a busy, busy day.