The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
Friday, June 28, 2013
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.
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
June 28, 2013
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…
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.”
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.”
itBut 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.
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 ClearLake.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 feltbad 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
Will I rest or
Will I believe
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
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
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
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.