Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 22

Same old blog - just a new look.  I had not intended to update anything, but then my blog started putting these annoying lines between paragraphs.  It bothered me so much that  I ended up just switching a bunch of stuff until I got rid of the lines.  I ended up with a whole new look as a result.  I've always liked the classiness of black and besides,  right now that color really suits my mood.  I'll save the pink swirls for a day when my heart is lighter.


June 28, 2013


Day 22


I am finding it interesting how a person (namely me) can go through their entire lives assuming they know God to the fullest capacity possible.  I was content with my spiritual life.  I knew there were areas that could be improved, but hey – there was room for improvement in ALL areas of my life.  My motto throughout life has pretty much been, “close enough is good enough” (this drove Paul (Mr. Perfection) nuts, by the way) and, sadly, this was evident in my Christian walk, as well.  What is interesting is that now I am knowing God and I am astounded at all I missed before.  There are times now that I am hearing God speak.  No, it’s not a literal voice, but He is speaking so clearly into my heart that there is no room for doubt Who it is I am hearing from.  Some might argue that I am simply “hearing” my own thoughts, but I know that’s not the case.  The words God is using are not even ones in which I would typically think.  For example…


Earlier this week I was once again feeling regret over things I had done/not done in my marriage, unrealistic expectations I had had of Paul, times I withheld forgiveness, etc. I know I’m forgiven, but I found myself just crying to the Lord, expressing regret for not always cherishing my husband like I should have.  Immediately, I heard these words,


“Daughter…you are loved.”


Goosebumps arose.  And then I wept as I was once again reminded of just how much God, indeed, loves me - even when I am at most unlovable.


Fear is a pretty constant companion these days.  I fight against it, try to remind myself of God’s promises, but it seems like fear never quite leaves the room.  There’s a lot that concerns me – money, the kids’ emotional states, re-emerging difficulties with Ben now, Will’s future, my physical safety…just to name a few.  The other night I was expressing my concern to the Lord over my perceived inability to raise these children I have been left with.  On a good day, I am somewhat confident in my abilities.  But on a bad day – and they’re all bad days right now – I tremble with the knowledge of what I must do.  One child has reached adulthood, but yet he still needs guidance as he spans the bridge from childhood to complete adulthood independence.  Ben will need assistance his entire life.  Right now he is not dealing with his dad’s death very well and I am finding it extraordinarily difficult to parent him.  And the others all need guidance in varying forms.  Three are still so little, not even in school yet.  There is so much they need to learn and Lizzie, of course, still bears wounds from her early, chaotic years of neglect.  I don’t know if all the love in the world will ever be enough to grant her complete healing.   And then I homeschool on top of everything else.  And I want to homeschool.  I believe it is something God has called me to do.   But it is another load to carry.  To think that I am solely responsible now for every aspect of children’s upbringing – spiritual, behavioral, educational – is really heavy.  So I was reminding God of all this one night recently.  He spoke to my heart again.  He said simply,


“I will strengthen you.”


That was it  But it was enough so that I was able to metaphorically quit cowering in the corner, straighten my shoulders, and once again, pick up and don the mantel of parental responsibility.


Other things…


Yesterday, we went to Family Camp for the day.  It was our first experience at any Family camp, ever.  For the first few years we were out here, money and Paul’s available vacation days made it pretty difficult to even consider going.  In the last few years, Paul had begun to talk about it more, even going so far as to bring home brochures on the camps.  He would say, “We really should…” and that’s as far as it ever went.  But Sunday my friend Debbie invited us to go as their guests and I found myself agreeing.  The kids were pretty excited by the prospect of a day up there.  I really didn’t know what to expect, but knew it would be different from our normal Thursdays anyway (although we don’t really have “normal” Thursdays anymore, or any other days of the week).


I got fewer than 4 hours of sleep the night before, but didn’t have any trouble with the 2 hour drive up to Clear Lake.  I am so glad we went.  Maybe I should just re-post today’s Facebook status here.  It kind of sums up our day:


Sunburnt, stiff, and sore, I am rejoicing today in God's tender care. Invited by friends, we spent yesterday up at Family Camp. For the first time in 3 weeks, my kids were able to have fun and engage in normal, pre-June 6th activities. I reconnected with old friends and made a new one - a woman who has walked an eerily similar path of early, unexpected widowhood (and she lives in my metro area!). I heard a message on suffering that I am pretty sure was written just for me. Ps. 23-2-3 talks about God's care for wounded hearts. Ours continue to be bound up by our loving Shepard and others who are loving Him by loving us. Very thankful...


Pretty wonderful day.  But there were moments of pain, even in the fun.  I found myself feeling guilty that the kids and I were enjoying ourselves.  Aren’t we supposed to be grieving?  Well, we still are, but I quickly decided that fun and grief are not necessarily exclusive.  It is possible to have enjoyment in the midst of pain – odd as that sounds.

I felt bad that Paul wasn’t there with us, because he would have loved that time up there so much.  Then, it occurred to me that, well, Paul probably was having a very wonderful day, too.  And then I felt  bad that our good days weren’t being spent together.  Sometimes grief isn’t very logical.


 When we arrived, Debbie and Keith checked both our families in.  They had already told me they intended to pay for our day up there.  But after they finished registering Debbie told me, “They wouldn’t let us pay for you!”  Later, the  camp director pulled me aside during the day and told me that they would like us to come up in August for an entire week of Family Camp.  It took me a moment to realize what it was he was offering us.  He explained that another family had anonymously donated weeks of family camp for the use of two different families that the camp thought could benefit.  They wanted us to be one of the families.  It’s an enormous gift (I figured up it would cost us $755 if we had to pay) and am so incredibly grateful.  I’m a little nervous about the details – doing a vacation without Paul’s help, with all the additional assistance that Ben and Littles require.  But I’m going to assume that God will work out the details and indeed, be my strength.  The kids are over the moon with excitement and I find that I am anticipating August as well.  I am hopeful that our hearts will heal even more that week as we’re surrounded by God’s Word and God’s people.


The very first thing we did at camp after registering was to attend the morning worship session.  The had us sing “It is Well with my Soul.”  I couldn’t do it.  This is my most favorite hymn in the history of hymnology and I had it sung at Paul’s funeral as a way to honor him but to minister to myself.  I didn’t have any problem singing it at the funeral.  But I could not do it yesterday.  Instead, I cried as others sang.  Then, the guest pastor began to speak.  His message was on suffering.  Did God have him choose this message knowing that I would be attending only that session on that day?  I don’t know, but I was ministered to.  As he closed up, the speaker gave us the following statements.  They’re penned by Dr. Paul Tripp, who I am very familiar with from video sessions we have done in our church on parenting and most recently, marriage.  I found the statements particularly challenging.  I wasn’t able to jot them down, but a friend spoke to pastor’s wife when she heard that I wanted to hear them and today, she facebooked the statements to me.  I was so touched!


So the war rages.


Will I rest or complain?


Will I believe or doubt?


Will He be my greatest joy, or will my heart be ruled by the joys the earth offers?


Will I let pain and disappointment put a wedge between me and my Lord?


Will I continue to hold onto my dreams with clinched fists long after they have slipped through my fingers?


Will I enviously compare my life to those around me?


Will I allow myself to rehearse to myself again and again how my life could have been different?


Will I try to drug my disappointed heart with the temporary joys of the surrounding world?


Will I let devotion to God give way to questions that can never be answered?


Will I begin to walk away from the one place of hope to which I once constantly ran?


Will I let my joy ebb away, or will I, in the middle of my disappointment, battle for my heart with all the fight that I can muster?


Will I worship a God whom I cannot fully understand?


Will I find joy in Him and His love, even though I struggle with the difficulty He has brought my way?"


I’m going to print these out and hang them somewhere I can read them every day – seriously! 


I ran into a friend camping with her family yesterday.  She, in turn, introduced me to her friend – who was widowed suddenly 11 years ago at the age of 41, leaving her to raise 3 children alone.  We talked and talked.  She even took Ellie for me all afternoon so that I could spend time doing whatever I wanted.  What a blessing!  After the evening session, before I left, she hugged me and told me, “You are the reason I came to camp this year!”  I tear up again just thinking about it.  God is so, so good to me!


I’ve been able to write about a lot of really good things in this entry.  But of course, it’s not all good.  On the way home last night Ben had a major melt-down.  It was very reminiscent of his puberty years.  Will pointed out to me that Ben was extremely tired which probably contributed to the tantrum.  But I cannot always ensure that he will get enough sleep.  I am hopeful that this will pass as his heart heals, but it’s a huge burden on me right now.  I am actually minimizing this right now in my writing because I don't want to alarm my readers.  But I need prayer for wisdom in this area, specifically.


Paul would have been on-call, starting today.  It occurred to me just today that our lives and income are no longer going to be dependent on the weather.  I’ve just gotten so used to thinking that way – hoping for extreme weather conditions during his on-call weeks and even his normal weeks just for some regular hours and decent paychecks.  Now I can actually be a “normal” Iowan and hope for cool summers and warm winters!  But anyway, I had his on-call schedule on my calendar.  I remember when I wrote it down being concerned that he would be on-call on Ellie’s birthday, which is this coming Monday.  It’s always been really important to me that we celebrate birthdays ON the actual birthday and I was a bit worried that Paul might be too busy with work to do that.  It never once dawned on me that he might be dead by her birthday and not be here at all.  Paul never once missed a child’s birthday celebration.  It’s going to be a different day on Monday - and for many birthdays to come.


Sunday Will and I visited US Cellular.  It took a long time but we got Paul’s phone number disconnected.  I took over his phone, which was purchased this spring and thus newer and nicer than my ancient flip phone.  Our service was in his name so I had to switch that to my name.  I bought a plan that includes texting.  I always swore I’d never give in to the texting craze, but it dawned on me sometime this last year that my resistance to learning something new was leaving me a bit behind most people.  I reasoned that with all the extra help I am now needing, texting might be a more convenient way for me to be available to others.  And of course, Will was egging me on, with visions of unlimited texting dancing in his teenaged head (he’s bought his own texting plan for a couple of  years now, but was limited to how many he could send a month). One nice thing US Cellular does is to download deceased customers’ voice mails to files for their loved ones.  I got that email this week.  I’m not quite sure how to get it transferred to my mp3 player, but I’ll figure it out. 


  They ended up merging Paul’s contacts and mine together.  I spent some of my time last night while driving home (riding, not driving – Will drove) deleting Paul’s contacts and updating my own.  But then I got to the Ps.  “Paul” from my contacts was right above “Princess” from his.  I couldn’t do it.  I don’t need those numbers anymore, but I could not physically bring myself to delete them from my phone.


  So I didn’t.  And then I cried.




















  1. Thank you for sharing! Now you know why Isaiah 41:13 means so much to me because widowhood is a battle against fear. Picturing the LORD holding my hand as He promised is so needful.

    Oh, I see God's fingerprints all over your life right now, even in the Princess and Paul on the cellphone. The camp week in August is wonderful! Give you all something to look forward to which is great! Your fellow widow camper again was just God at work. He hasn't left you alone, He is working to reveal more and more of Himself to you. I know your pain is great, it's deep and makes you stagger. But.....on the days you feel forsaken, go back and read your post for today. It will encourage your heart how personal and tender the LORD is. This is just as much as the walk of widowhood as the tears and fears.

  2. Oh my goodness, Sarah. I'm too full of emotion to form thoughts into words. Some of the questions you have we who have not lost a husband also have--but I can't imagine answering them without Sam by my side. I wouldn't have been able to delete those numbers, either, btw. Praying for you and the children. I can't tell you how sorry I am that Paul is not there with you--though I trust in God's plans perfectly. I do.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. My heart aches with yours, and I prayed as I read this.
    Susan Smith