Tuesday, November 14, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 9

I am a step-mom.
Times three.
Bonus children are different than children.
Don't get me wrong,
I adore my bonus children!
Love them passionately and deeply and wholly!
No matter what!
But it wasn't always that way.

If you read my day four post,
you know that I loved my children instantly!
I grew to like them,
but I loved them instantly.
That is not the case with bonus children.
With bonus children,
you like them immediately -
or maybe you don't -
but you grow to love them.

When I met the first one,
my Lanny Love and I
had only been dating a little while.
I thought I was falling in love with him
and he with me.
But we had not said those three little words yet.
I was sure they were coming soon,
(Five days later, as it turned out)
but there was still no commitment
or likelihood of one.

It so happened that
Aleisha and her boyfriend, Blu,
went to the same performance of a play
that we did one evening.
And so, we met.
We sized one another up -
as women do -
and I liked her and her Blu,
immediately.
But I did not love her.

As my Lanny Love and I grew in our love,
I began to love his children because he loved them.
By the time I met Zach,
I loved Aleisha because I loved her.
We had developed a friendship,
had enjoyed lunch together a few times.
She had become my cherished new friend and
I had begun to look at her as a daughter.

It took longer with Zach.
While I liked him
and his sweet wife, Jamie,
immediately,
and I loved him as my Lanny Love's
and knew that it was likely
he would become my bonus child,
He did not live here
and he was a boy!
We didn't lunch, or text.
But the more I knew him through his dad,
and the more often he came to visit in the ensuing months,
the more I loved him.
And, can I be honest here?
He was extra special to me because he was a boy.
The son I craved!

My third bonus child,
my sweet Tiffany,
I did not meet until the night of our wedding.
I liked her immediately
and she very quickly became my friend.
But can I tell you that
I also loved her immediately?
Like my children,
she was mine the moment I laid eyes on her!

You see, the night Lanny and I married,
we became one in the eyes of God.
My children and grandchildren had just become his.
His children and grandchild had just become mine.
And something magic happened.
I loved them as mine!
No matter what.
No matter what they might have done,
or said,
or how they might have acted,
just as with the flesh of my flesh,
blood of my blood children,
none of it would have mattered!
They were mine!
Just like my own are mine,
that night, they became mine as well!
And I loved them all!!!
The Bible says little about stepchildren. Most of what it says is about half siblings, brothers or sisters that share one parent. The only thing that it specifically says about stepchildren is that a man may not have sex with a stepdaughter for that would be incest, even though she is not of his own blood. The passages are Leviticus 18:17, Leviticus 20:17, and Ezekiel 22:11. 

Beyond that, it seems to be understood that a parent's responsibilities are the same whether a natural parent, adoptive parent, or stepparent. No distinction is made, anyway, between the three. When you consider what God has done for us, saving us from our sins, and that the scriptures say those who are saved are adopted by God (Romans 8; Galatians 4; Ephesians 1:5), then it is clear that God treats the adopted children (and one would presume stepchildren if it were possible) the same as the natural son. If God treats us that way, then we ought to treat children who are not our birth-children the same as if they were.
How amazing that God granted me
that love for my bonus children
the moment He joined me to their daddy!

Bonus families are not always easy.
Especially with adults.
Blending children who are grieving loss,
who were raised in different households,
with different styles,
adult children with differing personalities
and lifestyles,
is challenging.
Sometimes I laugh -  a lot.
Sometimes I cry - a lot.

But it and they are always worth the time and effort!
It has recently occurred to me
that Jesus was a step-child
and Joseph a step-parent.
We are in good company!

In my list of people for whom I am grateful,
my bonus children are a great blessing!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for
my Tiffany,


 
my Aleisha and Blu,



my Zach and Jamie!


You are a good, good, God!



30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 7

I am playing catch up.
With one exception,
I have posted on the "special days"
but our schedule has kept me from my computer
the other days.
So, catch up.

As I said in my first day post,
I am doing these in the order they came to mind
with the exception of the special days.
Today is day seven.

I am grateful for my widow's group.
Let me tell you about them.

We are a group of christian women whose husbands have died.
We "meet" on Facebook in a private group
through a wonderful website,
run by author,
Ferree Hardy.

There are three levels of groups.
  1. Lifeboat - Stage one grief. Drowning in grief! New anguish. Confusion. How do I live? WHY should I live? How do I change the oil? Who do I call for repairs? Where are my friends? Are your kids....? Am I going crazy? It's the place where we empathize with one another in the new, never-wanted-this, normal. You can stay in this boat for as long as you like. Some have been widowed just a few days, some many years. Everyone grieves at a different rate, but all grief has some commonality and all grievers need to feel they are not alone!
  2. Going Ashore - Stage two grief. Reality has set in. We have begun to move forward. We have relearned how to breath automatically rather than having to remind ourselves to do so. We have begun to comb our hair. We have begun to want to heal. The new "normal" has become more familiar. The fog has begun to lift. We are no longer drowning, we see the shore, some have touched it, some are walking on it. Again, we are at different time periods and all can stay as long as they want.
  3. Love Boat - Stage three grief. We are thinking about dating, have begun trying to date, are dating, are engaged, or have remarried. This is the group of which I am currently a member. 
Within these groups,
we bare our souls.
We share things,
say things,
that we do not share or say anywhere else.
Because unless you've been there,
you don't understand.
And, in the case of those further along,
even fellow widows who have not yet
reached your stage,
may not understand.
In fact, unless you've been there,
it is very likely you would misunderstand
were we to say some of the things we say.
My widow's groups have been,
and are,
very important to me.
I love my widows!

Most of us have never met.
But we are close friends!
Some of us have been privileged to meet.
I have been very blessed to meet four of my friends!

Today, I am grateful to God
for my "boats" and the ladies in them
and to Ferree Hardy for her obedience to God
in launching a "lifeboat"!

And so encourage one another and help one another, 
just as you are now doing.
                                     ~~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~~

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 14

November is a difficult month in our little love nest.
Judy's birthday,
the day Al was released to hospice care,
Al's birthday,
my mom's birthday,
and now, this year,
we have added the the homegoing
of my Lanny Love's dear mother-in-love.
All within the first two weeks of November.
While we rejoice in the reward 
these precious ones now experience,
we cannot help but feel their loss
in our hearts and lives
especially on special dates.

Today is one of those special days.
My precious mommy would have been 81 today.
She only celebrated 44birthdays
before her homegoing nearly 37 years ago.
I no longer actively miss her every single day.
But there are moments,
periods of time when I do.
Still.
Today, and for the last several days,
I have actively missed her.

Today, on her birthday,
I want to give thanks to God for my precious mother!

My mom's life was not easy.
She was a child of divorce
in an era where that was a shameful thing.
She was a child of the depression and all the ramifications that held.
She was extremely shy and insecure.
Her marriage was difficult.
She had cancer.
Her life was not easy.

But she never quit!
She was a woman of great strength and determination!
She taught me about perseverance -
even in impossible circumstances!
She went to school with four children
while working a full-time job
and became a nurse -
and taught me that determination can take you really far!
She taught me that God loves us deeply -
because she showed us his transforming love in her own life!
She taught me that sometimes we are unloveable -
and God loves us anyway,
and she demonstrated that in her love for a sassy teenager!
She taught me that God carries us through those hard times -
because she let us see Him carry her!
She taught me that God loves us as we are,
not as we should be -
because we watched as God transformed her
into an increasingly godly woman over the years!
She taught me about forgiveness -
because she came to forgive,
deeply love,
and fervently pray for,
people who had deeply wounded her.
And my mama taught me that
death does not stop love -
because nearly 37 years after her death,
I still love her deeply!

My beautiful mama was smart and funny and loving!
She had a temper and a mouth
(The mouth! How I understand her struggle -
and she understood mine
and helped me learn,
is still helping me learn,
to bite my tongue,
to think about my words before using them!)
My mama had a wicked sense of humor
and delighted in pulling off practical jokes -
and she did it often and well!
She had great strength of character!
She was a wonderful mother,
and my best friend!

I miss my mommy today.
I am thinking of her hugs,
her love of her children,
her delight in her grandchild,
her excitement at knowing that her second was expected.
I am thinking of her sorrow at knowing
she would not get to finish raising her youngest child.
Her care for us in planning her own funeral.
So I am wearing White Shoulders,
her perfume,
and her pearls given to her by Karen,
and remembering my mama,
and thanking my God
for the great gift He gave me in her!

Happy birthday, Mama!
I love you!

Her children rise up and call her blessed...
~~  Proverbs 21:28 ~~ 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 8

Today....
November 8...
A day of joy and celebration once.
A day of memories now.

Today, is my Al's earthly birthday.
Today my heart squeezes in pain
At the loss of him
And in joy at the life of him!

Today, I remember.
I remember the sweet young boy
With whom I fell in love.
I remember his 16th birthday,
The first of our courtship.
I remember his 21st,
The first of our marriage.
I remember his 23rd,
The first of our parenthood.
I remember his 57th,
The last on this earth.

I remember our first kiss,
First I love you -
I remember our last.
So many memories in between.

His godliness.
His brilliance.
His gentleness.
His kindness.
His compassion.
His protectiveness.
His sense of humor.

I remember.
And I am grateful to God
That He gave me such a man!

Happy birthday, Alfie!


Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy[a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.[b]

Many waters cannot quench love;

    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
    all the wealth of one’s house for love,
    it[c] would be utterly scorned.

                               ~~Song of Songs 8:6-7~~

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 6

I purely love being a grandmother!
Wholly and completely!
As the saying goes,
"If I'd know how great they were,
I'd have had grandchildren first!"

If you read my day 3 post,
My feelings for my grandchildren
Grew just as suddenly
As my love for my children.
The moment I laid eyes on them,
They were mine and I adored them!

I have often said that
Grandchildren are all the fun
And none of the responsibility
Of children.
I don't have to feed them -
Except candy and ice cream and pizza.
I don't have to clothe them -
Except princess dresses, cowboy hats, and fun t-shirts.
When they are ill,
I only cluck sympathetically.
I don't have to take them to the doctor for a shot.
I don't have to discipline,
Insist that homework comes before play,
Or that a clean room is a necessity.
Unlike a mom,
A grammie gets to be purely fun!

I am blessed with four grandchildren.

My sweet Hayden,
Nearly 19, an adult now,
My first.
How I adored that wee one!
Soccer, band concerts, football games.
Hundreds of spent nights,
Games, bedtime prayers.
Now an adult,
College, responsibilities.
We talk to one another -
Sometimes frankly.
We respect each other.
We like each other.
We have fun together.

My sweet Ashton,
18 next week, also an adult.
A surprise,
He came into the world with challenges,
Spending several weeks in NICU.
How I adored that tiny little baby
With all his tubes.
How I prayed for him!
Track, more football,
Hundreds of spent nights, stories, "Sorry" and "Jenga".
Early graduation, college.
My compassionate protector when Papa no longer could.
We talk.
Pray together.
Repect each other.
Like each other.
Have fun together.

My sweet Kylie.
Another surprise.
The only girl.
Eight years old and full of
Life, curiosity, energy, love for Grammie.
Tea parties, horses, Disney princesses,
"Take my picture" and "make a movie"
By the dozens.
Spent nights, stories, prayers.
Grammie's little princess!
We like each other.

My sweet Xander.
Also a surprise.
Not the youngest at 10,
But the newest,
He grew differently in my heart,
But into my heart he did grow!
He was seven when first we met.
I was his dad's fiancee's dad's friend.
He was the first.
The first to want me to be family,
Asking even before Lanny and I were officially engaged,
If he could call me grandma.
Now, I am Geema.
He is full of energy, curiosity, leadership,
More football.
More spent nights and games and bedtime prayers.
We like each other!

And we all love each other deeply, completely, without reservation!

Yes, I purely love being a grandmother!
On the sixth day of thanks,
I am exceedingly grateful to God
For the great gift of my grandchildren!

Grandchildren 
are the crowning glory of the aged.
                                 ~~Proverbs 17:6~~

Sunday, November 5, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 5

I am a mother-in-law.
I don't think I am traditional.
Or maybe my sons-in-love are not traditional.

I love them,
And they love me!
But much more out of the ordinary,
I like them,
And they like me!
Sometimes we disagree,
Debate,
Argue.
Sometimes we agree,
Take up for each other.
Sometimes we make each other angry.
But we get over it!

They stop by.
They call occasionally.
They are protective of me.
They would, and have,
Bent over backwards,
Inconvenienced themselves,
To assist me.
They are supportive.
They treat me more like a mom
Than a mother-in-law.
And they are,
After all is said and done,
My sons.

Tonight I am thankful for these fine men
Who love my daughters,
Care for them, support them, protect them,
Spoil them, play with them, romance them,
Work hard for them, sacrifice for them,
Respect them, honor them.
I am thankful for these wonderful daddies
Who have moved heaven and earth to ensure
That my grandchildren have a good life.
They love and play and discipline.
They like their children!

God has, once again,
Blessed me richly with children, sons!
My heart is full!
Thank You, Lord!


"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~


Saturday, November 4, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 4

Have you ever fallen
instantly
madly
passionately
in love?
A love that almost crushes you in its intensity
and sudden onset?
An all consuming,
anything for you,
world rocking,
life changing,
pure love?

I have!
Twice!

I had known love before,
I have known it since.
But never with the suddenness of those two times.
The very first time I held these two in my arms,
I knew.
Nothing would ever be the same!

My little girls have grown up now.
Sometimes they have made me cry in joy -
and anger and frustration.
Sometimes they have made me laugh -
and scowl.
Sometimes they have made me so proud I could burst -
and so disappointed I wanted to shrivel up and die.
But one thing never changed.
In every moment 
of every minute 
of every hour 
of every day 
of every week 
of every month 
of every year 
of their lives
I have loved them with a passion unique to them. 

For a short period of time recently,
they became the parents.
Carrying me when I could not walk.
Feeding me when I could not eat.
Asking me if I was dressed.
Who my friends were.
Where I was going.
What I was doing.
If I had enough money.

And I needed them.
Just like a baby.

But the joy of being their mom,
and in adulthood,
their friend,
soon overtook the need to be their child.

When God gave me these two miracles,
He granted my fondest wish -
motherhood.
And how good it is to be their mom! 

Playing during my "being their child" days.


Friday, November 3, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 3

The first couple of weeks of November
have a lot of hard days in our home.
Today is one of those days.

Not all of our people
are people we know personally.
One of those people for me
is my Lanny Love's Judy.
Today is her birthday.

I have come to know Judy
through the memories and stories
of those who knew her well.
And she has profoundly affected me!

You see,
who my Lanny Love is,
who my bonus children are,
who our now shared bonus child is,
how I am viewed by our now shared in-laws,
our now shared friends,
our now shared family,
all of that is profoundly affected by who she is.
No, I did not know her,
but I know her now.
And she is a vitally important person in my life.
One to whom God introduced me
long before we ever shared anything but one friend
who asked me to pray for her
and her family when she first became ill.

In some ways,
who I am is because of Judy.
I learned some things about praying from her.
I learned some things about being my Lanny Love's wife from her.
I learned some things about being a bonus-mom from her.
I learned some things about being a daughter and sister-in-law from her.
I learned some things about being a friend from her.
In ways many and varied, she has helped to form the woman I am now.

Not a day goes by that I do not think of her.
In our combined household,
I sit on some of her furniture,
eat and cook with some of her dishes,
see her pictures.
Days like today,
I am deeply touched by the grief and loss
that some of my other people experience.

I have been profoundly blessed by Judy's people!
I have been profoundly blessed by Judy!

On this day that celebrates earthly life,
I grieve for the loss that is evident all around me,
I grieve that I did not know this woman personally,
and I rejoice that she has received her reward ~
the reward she lived her life achieving!

Today, I am grateful to God
for giving my Lanny Love
"...a woman worth more than rubies..."
and my Bonus Children
a good and loving mother.
And I am grateful that Judy crossed my path!

"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~

Thursday, November 2, 2017

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 2

Today, I want to thank my God
for my Lanny Love.
It is not surprising that he appeared
first on my list.
He is not simply a part of my life,
he is my life!

Three years ago,
I was completing my second year of widowhood.
I was heartbroken.
Grieving.
Lonely beyond belief.
Three months later,
God spoke.
Twice.
Once to me.
Once to my Lanny Love.
And our lives changed!

Our courtship began slowly,
in writing and pictures.
And research...
Then a first meeting,
texts and phone calls,
a second meeting.

He was godly.
Smart.
Kind.
Compassionate.
Gentlemanly.
Warm.
Patient.
A good man.
And more than a bit handsome.

Time went on.
The loneliness began to dissipate.
My heart began to heal.
Love began to grow.

I did not think it could happen to me!
I thought for a time I could be satisfied
with simple companionship.
But learned I could not.
Then friendship.
Love.
Need.
For both of us.

He rescued me!
And I rescued him!
God rescued us both!
With one another!
And our love has grown and bloomed 
into a thing of great beauty and strength!

My Lanny Love is my blessing from God!
My dearest companion!
My best friend!
My true love!
My life!

There will never be enough words
to express my gratitude
to the Great Redeemer
for the restoration He has brought
to this broken woman
through my Lanny Love!


"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~

30 Days of Thanks: My People, Day 1

I posted this yesterday on my FB page and repost here as "explanation" for the blogs over the next 29 days.

Today begins my annual "30 days of thanks". While I am thankful for so much all the time, I enjoy this focused time of praising God for the many ways He has so richly blessed me! But this year, I am going to do something different.

This year, I am going to focus on the people in my life. We take our precious folks for granted so often and think they know how we love and appreciate them so we don't often say it, but words are important and everyone likes to hear that they are loved and cherished. So, today, I am just going to say how very much I appreciate and love all the many friends and family I have! My life is very full and satisfying - and the people in it are why! You laugh with me, cry with me, make me smile when I am down - or just because, and allow me into your lives to do the same for you! Thank you all for being in my tribe! I love you each and every one!

There are, of course, those folks who are extra special. Starting tomorrow, I will share the wonder of some of my extra special people!

Thanks to all of you as well, my readers, for being part of my "tribe"! You are important to me - even if we've never met!

I have debated how to go about expressing my gratitude for my extra special people. Do I do them in order of importance? I'd have to list them all at once for they are all important! I thought about listing them in order of their longevity in my life. Or how often they are part of my life: daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Or are they presently part of my life or an important figure from the past? Living or dead? Perhaps the "why" of their significance? I finally decided to simply make a list, and with only three exceptions, which will make sense as time goes on, I will simply be talking about them as they appeared on my list.

Come on along as I tell you about my extra special people - and maybe think about the precious people in your lives, even the prickly ones!

"[I] give thanks to God always for you all, 
making mention of you in [my] prayers" 
                                                            ~~I Thessalonians 1:2 ~~

Thursday, October 5, 2017

My name is Gina, and I am a perfectionist......

Yes.
It is true.
I am a perfectionist.

There are a lot of misconceptions
about perfectionists
the main one being
that they do everything well.
That is not true.
In fact,
most perfectionists spend so much time
on minute details
that they don't complete tasks
or if they do,
they complete late,
exhausted,
and feeling as if they've failed miserably.

You see,
a perfectionist is not perfect!
No, they simply expect perfection of themselves -
and, unfortunately, sometimes others.
When they do not achieve perfection -
which, of course, they cannot -
they cannot let it go,
berate themselves,
and are very likely not to attempt again
the failed project.

It has taken me a lot of years,
a great deal of effort,
and no small amount of prayer
to begin to give myself a break.
But now and again......

About a year ago,
I undertook a project.
Something I expected I would love!
But I can't seem to get it right!
For nearly a year,
I have tried and failed.
Over
and over
and over again.
It leaves me feeling incompetent.
Stupid.
Frustrated.
But I am determined not to quit
out of fear of not ever getting it right!!!
It -
and I -
have potential!!!
And I'm getting closer to getting it right
with every single attempt!
I'm learning much about the project,
my mentor in the project,
and myself! 
Quitting is not an option!!!

I have realized that following Christ
is very similar!
We want to do it right.
Perfectly.
And when we fail -
and we will fail -
we are tempted to give up,
quit.
But God is an infinitely patient and gentle mentor!
And as we struggle to get it right,
we learn more about being a believer, a follower,
more about our Father, Saviour, and Comforter,
and more about ourselves.

My project will never be perfect.
But it will get better and better each time.
And we will never reach Christian perfection
this side of Heaven.
But we will grow and thrive,
and become closer and closer to our Creator, Saviour, Friend. 

I read something recently.

Tonight, I am resting from my project.
And when my soul becomes weary of 
the struggle for Christian perfection,
I rest in my Comforter.
I do not quit!

Are you weary of the struggle to get it right?
Rest.
Don't quit!
 


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Beauty from ashes

I have a situation.
It is an ongoing relational issue
with an individual about whom I care deeply.
One I cannot fix or change.
Believe me, I have tried!

I recently thought that progress had been made.
Apparently not.
I have been so hopeful and clinging to
the tiniest indication of improved relationship.
And I have found myself
incredibly sad today.

Then the Lord,
my faithful Comforter,
reminded me of a number of things.

I have a grandchild
who was conceived outside of marriage.
Those of you who read me regularly can guess that,
even if our daughter had not been just 17,
this was not news we would have relished.
We were heartbroken.
And excited.

A few years ago,
I had become restless at a job.
I liked the people I worked with,
there were no real issues,
I simply was restless.
Along came an unsolicited invitation
to apply for a newly created position with another company
at a significant increase in pay
and with a title I had longed for
and worked toward for several years.
I interviewed, was offered and accepted said job.
I hated it!
And, just six months later,
the position was eliminated and I was unemployed.
I was devastated.
And overjoyed.

Nearly six years ago,
I learned that I would soon be widowed.
Eight months and three days later,
I was.
"Heartbroken"
and
"Devastated"
don't even begin to touch where I was.
For many, many months,
I was not sure I would recover.
Or that I wanted to.
But I did survive.
And eventually thrived.
God carried me through
to acceptance, hope, healing,
and new life. 

There have been many, many other
disappointments and hurts in my life.
And in all of them,
He has carried me through,
brought beauty from ashes.

Because of the heartache of teenage pregnancy,
I have a marvelous grandson who has brought
immeasurable joy to our lives!

Because I lost my job,
I went to work for a place doing a job I loved,
but I would never, ever, ever
have considered applying for the position
I so cherished from any other job I ever held!

God's infinite mercy and grace
brought my sweet Lanny Love and I
out of agonizing grief
and into a delightful, joyous, loving marriage.

Why do bad things happen?
I don't really understand why.
But this I do understand!
Nothing,
absolutely nothing,
happens in our lives
that has not passed by Him first.

I don't understand this current relationship heartache.
But I understand this.
God knows all about it.
And there will be beauty from these ashes!

He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
                                                          ~~ Isaiah 61:3 NLT 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Judy

Today, I honor a woman I never met
but whose life and death
have greatly impacted my life.

Interestingly,
through a mutual friend,
I prayed for her,
her husband,
and her children
before I ever thought it possible that
I would one day become a part
of that same family.

For many reasons,
I wish I had known her personally.
But I have learned about her
through her husband and children;
her mother, sister, and nieces and nephews;
her step-daughter and parents-in-law;
and through some of the many friends she had.
All people that we now share.

I have learned of a godly woman
who sought to serve her God and Saviour
above all.
I have learned of a loving wife.
I have learned of a devoted, excellent mother.
I have learned of a sister who was a dear, close friend.
I have learned of a caring daughter.
I have learned of a brilliant, dedicated, kind teacher,
an award winning educator.
I have learned of a compassionate friend.

In the beginning,
I was intimidated by this virtuous, nearly perfect woman.
But over time,
the stories have changed,
become more intimate,
and I learned of another woman.

I learned that she was sassy, and funny, and opinionated.
I learned that she could be stubborn.
I learned that she liked to shop -
especially for antiques, Christmas decor, and future gifts.
I learned that she was sometimes insecure.
I learned that she was thoroughly modern in her lifestyle -
and old-fashioned.
I learned that she liked to do things a certain way -
and that's the way they were done.
I learned that she was very private.
I learned that she was protective of her own people
and let others into the inner circle carefully.
I learned that she was extra-ordinary -
and extremely ordinary.
Not so different from me.

But what I learned most thoroughly
was that she deeply loved some of the people
I most deeply love,
and that she was and is deeply loved by them.

On this day that marks her loss
and the passing of time,
I am grateful for this fine woman,
this virtuous follower of God,
this loving wife,
this devoted mother
who has left a legacy that has changed my life.
The woman she was,
made them the people they are.
I am profoundly grateful!

I never met Judy Newton.
But the pebble she cast in the lake of her life
has rippled out
and touched me deeply.

As I pray my Lanny Love
and bonus children through this day,
I am filled with awe
that our loving God so richly blessed
them with life with Judy;
that He so richly blessed her with life with them;
and that the loss they feel so keenly today
is only temporary
for they will meet again one day in Heaven!

I am filled with awe
that God has so richly blessed me
with these people she so cherished,
and I pledge that I will
always love them,
always cherish them,
always treat them in a way that would please her.

No, I did not know Judy.
But today,
I honor the woman who,
through her ripples,
changed lives.
Including mine.

Until we meet in Heaven......

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, 
because all the old ways are gone.
                                                                      ~~ Revelation 21:4

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The new rule

I have always considered myself to be an impulsive person.
And in some respects I am.
I tend to make decisions very quickly and emotionally.
For example,
I have been known to travel at the drop of a hat.
Or when we purchased our home,
I knew immediately it was the one.
Or when I fell in love with my Lanny Love,
there was no pondering and thinking about it,
I knew I wanted to marry him.
And I am always up for an adventure
of most any kind!

However,
despite the fact that I tend to make major decisions impulsively,
once the decision is made,
an act of Congress can't change my mind.
I am realizing that I am anything but impulsive
in my daily life,
rather, I am extremely routine oriented and...
RIGID.

For example,
we have had a house guest this week.
Normally, I rise,
have my coffee and read my Bible -
from my rocking chair in the front window -
take my shower,
dress,
put my moisturizer on my face,
make the bed while the moisturizer absorbs,
put on my make-up,
do my hair.

This morning,
it was necessary to wait for my shower a bit
so I made the bed while I waited.
When I applied my moisturizer,
I didn't know what to do!
Literally!
So while I waited,
I thought about other ways in which
I am routine oriented.

1. Lanny and I sit in our chairs in the front window
to have our coffee and read our Bibles in the morning.
Sometimes the sun makes it uncomfortably warm
so we move to the den.
It bothers me.

2. Lanny sits at the head of the table,
I sit to his left.
Always.
A while back,
our grandson wanted to seat everyone
at a family dinner
and when he came to me,
I said, "Here"
indicating my chair.
He sat me there.
(It was this incident that spurred this line of thinking)

3. Every day, 
I read five Psalms 
(that gets me through the book once each month)
and one Proverb 
(same thing)
in addition to what I am reading in my 
"through the Bible in a year" plan
(I spend much more time than a year doing this,
but it gives me a "plan")
and whatever devotional I am using at the time.

4. Coffee and Smart Mix as soon as I get up,
breakfast at 10:00,
lunch at 1:00,
Dinner at 6:00.
(In my defense, 
scheduled eating is important for a diabetic, 
particularly one who is diet controlled.)

5. I count things.........

There's more,
but you get the idea.

I have found myself wondering recently
if I have always been this rigid,
or if it is one of the personality changes
that came with widowhood.
I think it is a combination -
I have always been more routine and detail oriented -
it's what made me an excellent secretary/paralegal -
and I have always mostly been a rule follower.
But I have not always been so rigid.
There is a difference!
Being routine and detail oriented is fine.
Even impulsiveness is okay in some things.
Being rigid is not okay or fine!

Webster sees the difference as follows:

Definition of routine

  1. 1a :  a regular course of procedure if resort to legal action becomes a campus routine — J. A. Perkinsb :  habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure the routine of factory work

     
    In other words,
    a usual way of doing things.



Definition of impulsive

  1. having the power of or actually driving or impelling
  2. a :  arising from an impulse an impulsive decisionb :  b: prone to act on impulse an impulsive young man
 

In other words, 
not really thinking things through, 
making a thoroughly informed decision.

Definition of rigid

  1. a :  deficient in or devoid of flexibility rigid price controls a rigid bar of metalb :  b: appearing stiff and unyielding his face rigid with pain
  2. a :  inflexibly set in opinionb :  b: strictly observed adheres to a rigid schedule
  3. firmly inflexible rather than lax or indulgent a rigid disciplinarian
  4. precise and accurate in procedure rigid control of the manufacturing process 


 In other words,
hard-nosed,
controlling,
setting up and following rules all the time,
sticking to the plan - no matter what.



I think it is just as bad as it sounds.

I am not unpleasant in my rigidity.
I don't pitch a fit
or criticize,
but it eats at me.
And it's a joy/fun thief -
theft not only of myself,
but others.
(Thinking of that grandson incident...)

I can be flexible.
With proper notice.
Time to wrap my head around the change.
But that's not being flexible after all.
It is still wielding control.

When we travel,
I know things won't always go as planned.
And I often say with enthusiasm,
"It's part of the adventure!" -
and I mean it! -
and just go with the flow.
I think that I am able to do that then
because I am outside of "normal" anyway.

I had a boss and dear friend
whose daughter had problems with change.
She began telling her toddler,
"It's not bad, it's just different and different is okay." 
I'm not sure,
but I think it likely that
that now middle-age adult
still tells herself that.

So, from here on out,
my new mantra for everyday life will be
"It's part of the adventure!"
and
"It's not bad, it's just different and different is okay."

It's my new rule.

I know...............

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Silver linings

I live in Texas.
Harvey......

I have a friend who left Galveston on a cruise
just before Harvey.
She is now "a red and white bobber on the ocean".
Her five day cruise is nearing the end of the second week.
Think Gilligan's Island.

She is safe and sound,
warm and dry,
and enjoying an extended vacation.
Silver lining.

Don't get mad.
I am in no way suggesting that Harvey was a blessing
because my friend is getting a longer cruise than she paid for.
In no way!
The devastation is horrendous!
The loss of life,
the injuries,
the property damage and destruction,
all horrendous!

BUT.....

In every horrendous situation
there are silver linings.
I was visiting with one of my bonus daughters the other day.
We were talking about traveling at the drop of a hat.
I mentioned that in the early days of my widowhood
I did that quite a lot.
And I chose to look at it as a silver lining.
I didn't have to consider anyone else in my decision to travel.
So I often went from no plans
to in the car and on the road
in under an hour.

Was I glad my Al was gone so I could do that?
Absolutely not!
But, he was, in fact, gone.
And as I began to try to continue living without him,
I began to look for the silver linings.
That was one.

You know,
nothing happens in our lives,
or in our world,
that has not first passed by the Father!
I don't believe He is happy about all that passes by Him.
But for reasons we will only know in Heaven,
He allows even those things that we -
and He -
would rather have another way.

Why the devastation of Harvey?
I don't know.
Only He knows why He allowed it.
But I do know this.
He controls the wind and the waves.
He calmed the sea when it was for His glory
and the disciples' benefit.
And He allowed devastation
when it was for His glory
and mankind's benefit.
Think the cross....

His glory,
our benefit.
Silver linings.

Look for them.

Jesus got into a boat, and his followers went with him. 
A great storm arose on the lake so that waves covered the boat, but Jesus was sleeping.
 His followers went to him and woke him, saying, 
“Lord, save us! We will drown!”

Jesus answered, “Why are you afraid? You don’t have enough faith.” 
Then Jesus got up and gave a command to the wind and the waves, 
and it became completely calm.

The men were amazed and said, 
“What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

                                                                                               ~~ Matthew 8:23-27 NCV

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Preambles and caveats

I've been thinking about this for a while.
About two years.
I think I'm ready.

A while back,
someone commented to me that,
while they were glad I am happy,
glad that the anguish of active grief had abated, 
it bothered them a little bit that I appear happier now
than I was with Al.
To be honest, it was not a new concept.
It bothered me too.

I remember the first time I thought that.
I was shocked!
How could I possibly even be happy,
nevermind happier!!!
My husband was dead!
I should never be happy again!

The passing of constant active grief
is a confusing time.
I will tell you that,
even while choosing joy,
as happiness began to appear,
I hid much of it.
It felt like letting him go a bit more if I was happy.
Active grief kept him near.

It's funny.
In the beginning,
after the numbness,
came the anguish
and I frantically searched for anything to make it stop!
It was too much!
More than I could bear!
There were times I literally thought I was dying.
The pain was physical!
It was emotional!
It was mental!
It was all-encompassing!

But all my frantic searching,
all my running away from home,
all my attempts to fill the empty spot,
none of it helped.
The hole could not -
and cannot -
be filled.

And so I stopped.
I became still.
I listened for that still small voice.
I waited on God.
And slowly, slowly,
joy returned.
I began to know peace.
Began to accept.
This was my life.
This was the new me.
And I could live with that.

Then it happened.
Laughter.
Genuine, belly hurting, tears flowing, laughter.
New Year's Eve 2014.
And it felt so good!!!
It wasn't just joy,
it was happy.
And fun.
And I enjoyed it immensely.
For a couple days.
Then the guilt set in.
And the renewed sense of loss.
And God spoke!

"It's okay to be happy again!
I want that for you!
I have a plan to make it happen!"

You see, our joy comes from God.
But happiness, that's different.
That has to do with our circumstances.
And my circumstances hadn't changed,
my Al was still dead.
But I had changed.
Healing had begun to take place.
The scab that had formed had begun to fall off,
leaving an ugly scar,
still tender to touch,
but no longer excrutiatingly painful.
No longer bleeding with every bump.
And I felt guilty for being happy,
even for that moment in time.

But it happened again,
laughter.
Happiness in the moment.
It began to happen regularly.
And I began to welcome it.
Internally.
And carefully display it externally.
Because it somehow felt disrespectful.

I often still find myself in that spot,
particularly in my new marriage.
If I am thrilled with my Lanny Love -
which I am always -
and publicly post my delight in this gift of God,
I somehow feel obligated to also mention Al,
even if in a round-about way.
You know,

"I am so blessed to have this wonderful second opportunity!"
"I love the chapter 2 God has given me!"
"I have been blessed to have twice what many never have once!" 

These are true statements!
And sometimes they need to be said!
But sometimes I just want to brag on my Lanny Love
and on my God for giving him to me!
But I feel disloyal if I do.
I worry that people will misunderstand,
think I'm "over" Al,
think I don't miss him.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I worry that my children or grandchildren or sisters-in-love
might come to resent my Lanny Love
if I don't provide the caveat.

The flip side of that is that
I worry that if I say that I love and miss my Al
without saying how much I love my Lanny Love
and how grateful I am to be married to him,
he will be hurt, 
or my bonus children will think I look at him as less than Al,
or that our friends will wonder if there are problems in our marriage
or if, in fact, we were ready to get married at all.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, here I am,
caught between two lives,
between the "before" and the "after".
Because everything is one of the two. 
What's a girl to do?

Well, a scripture came to my mind the other day.

But most of all, my brothers and sisters, 
never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. 
Just say a simple yes or no, 
so that you will not sin and be condemned.
~~ James 5:12 NCV 

Please don't misunderstand!
Most assuredly,
I am taking this out of context!
Neither this Scripture,
nor the similar one found in Matthew 5:37
have a single, solitary thing to do with the subject at hand.
But, as so often it does,
God's Word made me think about this struggle of mine -
for it is a struggle to feel obligated to balance myself
and to protect everyone! -
and made me realize that this feeling of obligation to...
protect...
dishonors God who gave me both of my wonderful husbands,
each for the season He determined,
and who expects that I should honor Him with truthfulness at all times
and in all things
and let Him protect the hearts of others!
I should say what I mean!
Without preamble.
Without caveat.
Exactly what I mean.

I am not lying when I add statements.
But I am in an attitude of deceptiveness.
Because when I am feeling love for and missing my Al,
I am loving and missing my Al.
When I am grateful for and expressing my love for my Lanny Love,
I am loving on him!
And while they co-exist,
and always will,
to add the other to my feelings of love, loss, and/or gratitude
that I feel led to share
is actually dishonoring to the one I'm really talking about. 

God has been so good to me!
And it's quite okay for me to brag on just how good!

I can say that I loved being married to Al -
because I did!
And I can say that I love being married to my Lanny Love -
because I do!
And, as was observed,
I am happier now than I was.
But that is not because Al is less than,
that is because God lovingly brought me through very, very dark waters,
and He taught me many things during that near-drowning experience.
I am different now!
I am happier because I have changed!
I recognize the folly of many things that I made important back then.
I recognize the great blessing of a wonderful, godly husband.
I recognize the gifts God has given me!
I have repented and, 
with God's help,
I am a better wife!
I am happier,
because God has refined me!
So no more caveats, 
no more preambles
from me!
I will brag on God
and whichever of my blessings
I am feeling particularly grateful for -
or the loss I am feeling more keenly -
on any given day!
Without guilt!
From this day forward!

For God is good!
He has richly blessed me! 





Monday, June 12, 2017

Crazy trust

It drives me crazy,
the wondering.
An event in my life.
One where I know how it turned out,
but not why.
And not if I was right.
I go 
back 
and forth,
back 
and forth,
back 
and forth.

It drives me crazy!

It doesn't really matter.
I tell myself that.
And I'm right.
It doesn't.
But still I wonder.

You see, one way, I was simply a foolish woman.
The other way, I was foolish and wrong.
And there is no way to really know which it is.
It bothers me.
A lot.
And satan just loves that!

He is the author of confusion,
self-doubt,
crazy.
When this issue comes to mind,
it gives him great pleasure.
And for a long time,
I have been unable to figure out how to stop it.
Yesterday it came to me.
I can't!
Only God can!
But . . . 
Here's the thing . . . 
I have to let Him!

You see,
unlike satan,
God is a gentleman!
I have asked for clarity.
He said "No".
He said I don't need to know.
He said I can't be in control of everything.
Or anything.
He said I have to trust Him.
Or satan.
The choice is mine. 
He won't force me to have peace in this!

I can trust Him and trust that He alone knows the 
"why" and "what if" and "rightness" 
of the situation.
Even when it's crazy!

Or I can fall prey to satan's taunts
and waste precious time and energy wondering.

It's up to me.


You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, 
because he trusts in You. 
~~ Isaiah 26:3