Thursday, March 23, 2017

Growth Spurt

Do you remember them?
When you were a kid 
and you had a growth spurt?
Your legs ached.
Your arms hurt.
And neither one cooperated with you!
That "gangly" stage...

do you remember 
when you began to "develop"?
How your chest hurt!
How "in the way" it was!

It seemed those growth spurts lasted forever!
But they didn't!

things slowed down for a bit,
your body rested 
from all the sudden changes,
you began to become accustomed 
to the new sizes,
and things began to work 
as they should.

Well, I am in a growth spurt.
A spiritual growth spurt.
And spiritual growth
feels very similar
to physical growth.
It's uncomfortable.
Sometimes downright painful.

The larger understanding
gets in the way!
And it feels never-ending!
But it's not!

And just as 
when it was all said and done,
your physical growth spurts
resulted in a grown-up you,
spiritual growth spurts
result in maturity
in Christ!
unlike physical growth,
spiritual growth 
does not come to an end 
with a finished product that,
just when it is completed,
begins to decay.
spiritual growth
continues for a lifetime
with respites 
in between spurts
and completion in Eternity!

So here I go again.
Come on along for the ride!

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20

Today is March 20.
The first day of spring.
The season of new beginnings.
The trees are budding.
The flowers are blooming.
The temperatures are warming.
The sun is shining.
Everything is growing and changing.
It is a soft, happy time of year.

It is also my wedding anniversary with Al.
Today would have been 41 years.
We were married for just six weeks shy of 37.
We always celebrated our anniversary.
I am a romantic and Al was careful to feed that part of me well.
So we celebrated.
It was spring,
celebrating new beginnings and love.
It was a happy day.

Then Al died.
And March 20 was no longer happy.

The first year after his death,
I was still in shock.
March 20 didn't hurt any more than any other day -
they were all excruciating.
The second year,
the shock had worn off,
and it was an exceptionally painful day.
But the third year was different.
My Lanny Love and I had been seeing each other for a few weeks.
That night, we had a dinner date.
I recall that I was a little more quiet than normal.
After dinner, he took me home.
We sat on the sofa in my living room chatting.
Then, several seconds of quiet.
Then, he slipped to the floor in front of me,
took my face in his hands,
and kissed me softly.
He pulled away and, looking me in the eyes, said,
"I told myself I wasn't going to say this yet but I love you!"
I replied,
"I love you, too!"
And just like that spring came!

Oh, I knew he was falling in love with me.
He had said a few days earlier that he thought he was.
And I certainly knew I was falling in love with him!
So I wasn't surprised by the declaration or my response.
But I was surprised by the restoration.

New beginnings,
good beginnings,
don't always start out that way!
Sometimes they come from great loss and grief!
But God!
He brings beauty from ashes!
Riches from rags!
Love from loss!
Only God could have restored a day destroyed by death
to one filled with hope.

I don't know why I was surprised.
He had done it before.
That Sunday morning,
you know the one,
following that terrible Friday.
Following the loss.
Following death.

So, today is March 20.
And I think of Al and miss him!
And I think of my Lanny Love and celebrate!
And I think of that Sunday and rejoice!

But God!
Welcome spring!

Sunday, March 5, 2017


It is unfortunate.
There is a lot of similarity
In the names
And it is unfortunate.

I'll be honest with you.
There are advantages to seconds.
The first child is born.
We learn to parent.
The second child is born.
We are still learning,
but we start off a better parent
than we started with the first.
It's the nature of things.
We learn as we go.

It's the same with marriages.
We learn in that first love.
And in grief, we learn some more.
And if God so blesses us with a
Chapter Two
as He has blessed my Lanny Love and me,
we are better spouses
because of the lessons learned before.
But one of the disadvantages
of having more than one child
is name confusion.
You know,
And it's the same with marriages.
It's bound to happen.
It is not one of the advantages of being second in marriage.

The first time it happened between my Lanny Love and I
was at dinner at my place one night
a few months after we started dating.
He called me Judy.
He blushed!
Stammered an apology.
I said,
"It's okay. It was bound to happen."
Then I laughed and said,
"I'm just glad you did it first!"
A short time later,
I called him Al.
I have done it twice more
that I am aware of.
After our marriage,
I sometimes used my former last name.
It has been quite some time
since either of those things has happened.
As far as I know,
none of my friends have ever
mixed my husbands' names.

But the similarities between my name and Judy's,
makes it happen relatively often with me.
And not just with my Lanny Love.
Other people who knew Judy
frequently get the name wrong,
usually together with my Lanny Love.
You know,
"Lanny and Judy are here.
Lanny and Gina are here!"

Recently a friend commented to my Lanny Love
how gracious I am when that happens.
But can I tell you something?
Sometimes, I may be gracious
but I don't feel gracious.
I feel like saying,
My name is Gina!
G. I. N. A.
Today was such a day.

Perhaps because this incident was a written faux pas.
Perhaps because we've been a couple for more than two years now.
Perhaps because we've been married for 15 months.
Perhaps because it has happened several times recently.
Perhaps because I'm just coming out of my winter depression.
Perhaps because this has been a week of spiritual revelation and growth
and satan always attacks at such times.
Perhaps all of the above.
Perhaps none of the above.
I don't know.
I just know that today,
it was not an eye-roller.
it was more than irritation.
it was more than a sting.
it really hurt my feelings.
And it made me feel not just second,
but second best.
And that is something within myself
that I am working with the Lord
to correct,
feeling second best.
Or third.
Or last.
If you read my last post,
you know what I am talking about.

And so, today,
I am being put to the test.
I am learning again that I am a gift.
I am not second best.
In this case, I am second to be sure.
I am different, most certainly.
But I am not second best,
less than.

Do you ever want to just say,
"I'm tired of growing!
I'm tired of learning!
Can I just have a break and be for a minute?"

I'd just like to be for a minute.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Middle Age

I am a middle aged woman.
So I claim.
You may have seen my formula
justifying my claim
in an earlier post.
Some businesses disagree with my formula
and offer me a senior discount.
I accept the discount
and discount the senior status.
My next birthday
is a "significant" one.
More businesses will offer me a discount.
I will still accept it.
And I will still discount my status as a "senior adult".

That said, I have lived a number of years.
I have lots of, ahem, experience.
But sometimes,
I find that I am still an infant,
still learning the ins and outs of life and living in this fallen world.
As a grown woman,
I still sometimes touch base with my inner two year old,
I stamp my feet and shout
"NO FAIR!!!"
or the myriad of other emotions my two year old self wants to express.

One of the things that my two year old is consistent with
is the past.
She often confuses the past with the present.
She often thinks that because that was the response then,
that will be the response now;
that because that was how she/he behaved,
that is how another she/he will behave.
Now, my two year old experienced a lot of hurt in her young life.
So did my adolescent self.
So did my teen self.
So did my young adult.
And so now,
my middle age self has trouble hearing
over the chatter of all those other selves.
Sometimes my middle aged self
hears what is said
rather than what is meant.
And it can be a problem.

You see,
sometimes my past expectations
confer attributes onto my present circumstances.
And I have to remind myself that my present
and my past
are different.
I have to remind myself that
the people are not the same.
I have to remind myself that
I am not the same!
I'm still learning the new me to some degree.
And this past Sunday,
in the wee hours of the morning,
as I was up reading my Word and praying,
I had an epiphany.
A revelation.
I am important.
And more,
I am a gift to my Lanny Love.
He is not merely a gift to me,
I am a gift to him.
In all my quirkiness.
In all my neediness.
In all my brokenness.
in all my talents and gifts -
for I have talents and gifts -
In all my failures.
In all my successes.
In all of who and what I am,
I am God's gift to him.
This is something he has said often
but which I have failed to internalize.
And which I am still struggling to internalize.

Not only to my Lanny Love,
but to my children.
And grandchildren.
And church.
And friends.
And even to some of you who read and relate to this blog.
I am a gift.

And here's the other part of that epiphany.
It's sinful for me not to recognize that,
not to accept that,
not to internalize it!
It diminishes intimacy with my friends and family.
It confers the past onto them if I fail to recognize my worth
because of the words and actions of "then"
and that is grossly unfair!
And most importantly,
it diminishes my God!
For God created me!
Just as I am.
Just as He intended.
And He gave me to these people of my life.
And when I take the gift He has given them
and bang it on the ground,
scratching and denting the surface,
cracking and crumbling the internal workings,
I am saying that He did it wrong!

So, as we all do,
I continue to learn.
I continue to grow as a person
and as a Christian.
I won't always do "it" right.
And neither will "they".
Because, though God created us in perfection,
mankind chose his own way
and imperfection invaded us.
But God works within the bounds we have given ourselves.
And He is working within me.
And I am grateful!
May I never squander the gifts He has given me -
nor the gifts He has given others in me.
May you see your own importance
as a gift of God to your people,
and may you never squander or diminish
His placement of you in their lives.
May we all learn to enjoy the person He created in us!

So go eat your food and enjoy it;
drink your wine and be happy,
because that is what God wants you to do.
Put on nice clothes
and make yourself look good.
Enjoy life with the wife [husband] you love...
...enjoy the work you do here on earth.
Whatever work you do,
[wherever God places you],
do your best...

                                                                 ~~ Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 NCV ~~

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fearful Procrastination

Do you ever procrastinate?
I do!
Oh, I don't just watch T.V.
Or read a book.
Or daydream.
I do other useful things.
Like clean.
Like cook.
Like blog.
But often,
like today,
those other things are simply distractions
allowing me to put off doing something else.
Now, eventually,
those something else's have to be accomplished.
Putting them off,
distracting myself with other things,
doesn't change that.
Most of the time,
the procrastinated task is something unpleasant
and so,
off it is put for as long as possible.
While that is really rather foolish
since it just keeps the dread alive,
it really doesn't hurt anything and
it does get other needed tasks finished as well.
But sometimes,
like today,
it is fearful procrastination.
And that's a problem.

I have, for several months,
been trying to be accepted into a program.
Finally this week,
I received the anticipated email.
All I have to do to get started
is successfully complete a test.
And I'm scared.
What if I fail?
What if I'm not as smart as I think I am?
What if I'm not as detail oriented as I assume?
What if my perfectionist tendencies aren't enough?
What if I don't measure up?
What if -
dare I say it? -
What if I'm not good enough?

Now, each moment that I put this test off
eats into needed time to finish it.
Each moment means less time
to get it right.
Each moment means more overlooked details are likely.
Each moment....
increases my chance of failure.

Fear is the enemy!!!
It is an emotion of satan,
not of God!
And it occurs to me that
even if this test doesn't turn out the way I hope,
the real test is in my ability to overcome the fear.
To trust in my God to know what is best for me!

So, off I go,
to take the test over the remaining
three days I have to get it
completed and submitted.
I care if I pass or not,
but this test is not the important one!
It is vital that I honor my God
and pass this little trust test!
May He find me at the top of my class!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lost Diamonds

Shortly after my Al was diagnosed with terminal cancer,
the diamond in my engagement ring fell out.
We looked everywhere and couldn't find it.
I was heartbroken.
Not only was the symbol of our love gone,
it felt like an omen.

And then a miracle happened!
My best girl friend dropped by
and on her way out the door,
she spotted my diamond,
glittering in the welcome mat at the front door.
I was thrilled!
But, to be honest, it didn't feel like an omen.
And it wasn't.

We had the diamond remounted,
we were assured it was secure.
Just six months after his death,
it fell out again
and was permanently lost.
I cried buckets!
And I just didn't understand!
I have to admit,
I yelled at God in bitter disappointment
and anger
and heartache. 
He had taken my Al, I said,
and now He had taken my diamond
that had set on my finger for nearly 40 years.
I'd have been upset if Al had been alive and well.
But he was dead and I was devastated!

Habakkuk felt the way I felt that day.
He cried out to the Lord.
Asked how long
God was going to allow suffering
and do nothing about it!
He was bitterly disappointed in the state of things.
And he said so.
And then God answered!
"Watch and be utterly amazed
for I am going to do something
in your day
that you would not believe
if you were told!"

                                        ~~ Habakkuk 1:5

"Utterly amazed"
Isn't that just the most awesome thing!
God is in the business of utter amazement!
In the devastation that is sometimes part of life -
thanks to satan -
God has a plan!
And it IS an amazing plan!
While we may never understand the devastation -
I will never understand why my diamond is gone,
or why people get sick,
or why they die -
God is in the midst of it!
And He is doing something
you wouldn't believe even if you were told!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

January is past

Let me start this blog by saying
how wonderfully happy I am
in my marriage to my Lanny Love!
What a great blessing
our God has given us
in one another!
A repeated theme in the Bible
is one of restoration
and how amazingly He has restored us!

But while restoration
soothes the past,
it does not erase it.
My sweet Lanny Love
commented recently
how happy he was that God
brought us together,
that He knew we needed one another,
that we understood one another's
joy in the midst of sorrow.
That is such a truth!
Only someone who has experienced
this confusing dichotomy
of joy and grief at the same time
can fully appreciate
the confusion
that sometimes comes with
remarriage in widowhood.

My Lanny Love
is joyfully and happily
married to me.
He loves me!
And he always will!
And, he was joyfully and happily
married to his Judy.
He loved her!
And he still does and always will!
And before me,
he really missed her!
And he still does and always will!

I am
joyfully and happily
married to my Lanny Love.
I love him!
And I always will!
And, I was joyfully and happily
married to my Al.
I loved him!
And I still do and always will!
And before my Lanny Love,
I really missed him!
And I still do and always will!

I have grieved heavily the last couple of weeks
as the fourth anniversary
of my Al's death and burial
has approached and,
at last,
It has been that
can't sleep -
can't concentrate -
can't remember -
can't eat/want to eat everything in sight -
on the verge of tears all the time -
missing so much that it physically hurts -
kind of grief.
The kind of grief
that came in the early days.
All consuming awareness of absence
of the one I loved.
I watched in late August
and early September
as my Lanny Love went through the same thing.

One would think
that being so happily remarried
would make it better,
Some of my fellow widows
who have not remarried
certainly think so
as indicated by comments like
"Well, it's not as bad for you!
You have Lanny!"
And before I had my Lanny Love,
I thought that too.
Remarriage would make it better.
And it does.
Most of the time.
But in some ways,
it makes it worse.

There is that piece of my heart
that is Al's alone.
I cannot give it to my Lanny Love.
There is that piece of his heart
that belongs only to Judy.
He cannot give it to me!
There, in the midst of our love,
is that longing for another person.
The wanting to share something special
with them.
The wanting their comfort
in our feelings of loss and grief
over them.

The flip side of that longing
is guilt.
We have each fallen in love with,
and wholly given ourselves to,
another person.
like in the midst of an intense grief wave,
it feels a bit like cheating.
"How could I do that?!?!?!"
I love both my Al
and my Lanny Love
with all my heart!
And I have felt
very disloyal
to both of them the last few weeks.
I know that this makes no sense.
I know it is emotions
not reality.
I know that at 4:59pm
on January 28, 2013,
I ceased to be a married woman.
I am not cheating,
am not being disloyal to my husband.
I know that when I get to Heaven,
I won't have two husbands,
I will have Jesus,
be the Bride of Christ!
But there they are.
Feelings of disloyalty and guilt.
Times two.
And so,
I have felt myself withdrawing.
And becoming clingy.
It's an odd thing.
Confusing to both of us.
Regardless of which side of the experience we are on.

Widowhood brings mourning.
But God brings morning!
And what a beautiful day has awakened!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Sisters AND brothers,
I can't improve on this!

Thank You, Lord,
for the many gifts,
marvelous gifts,
You have given me!

"You Promised Me"

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trust - Part 3

I forget sometimes
how satan loves a challenge.
When we seek to serve God more fully,
satan's response is always the same:
"Challenge accepted!"
My and God's trust challenge
is no different!

As I begin this post,
it is not quite noon.
I have been up since just before 7am.
It has been an eventful morning.

I forgot to turn off the alarm 
before opening the back door to let the dog out.
The alarm pad is by the side door.
I was settling onto the sofa to await Mitzi's
"I'm finished and it's cold out here! Let me in!"
when the beeping broke through the fog 
that surrounds my brain in the mornings
and I realized what I had done.
I took off at a run for the other side of the dark house
and ran my shoulder smack into the door frame.
I reached the pad just in the nick of time and entered the code 
to stop it from shrieking to all my neighbors, 
the alarm company, 
and my Lanny Love in Colorado
that I had forgotten to turn it off before opening a door.
Shoulder hurting, 
but embarrassment avoided.
Well, until now....

A few minutes later,
I punched the wrong button for my size cup on my coffee maker
and coffee overflowed onto the countertop.

I let Mitzi in
and returned to my perch on the chair by the fire
for my morning time with the Lord.
Chilly, even with the fire,
I headed upstairs to get my Lanny Love's robe
to warm me up and bring him closer.
I tripped going up the stairs.

I talked to the Lord a bit about my morning thus far.
Talked to Him about my Lanny Love and Zach.
Talked to Him about trust.
Talked to Him about my daughter.
Talked to Him about my friend.
Talked to Him about a lot of stuff.
Read His Word.
Sat still and quiet for a bit and listened to Him.
And headed to Facebook to waste some time
where I saw this picture and made it my cover photo:

Two more cups of coffee,
a "good morning, have fun" conversation with my Lanny Love, 
and I head to the pantry for breakfast
where I promptly slam my finger in the door.

I decide it's time to hit the shower and get busy.
As usual, I choose the downstairs shower.
Very briefly, I think about showering upstairs.
But I don't.
I enjoy a long, leisurely shower
and turn the faucet off.
Hot water continues to poor down my body.
I twist the hot knob and it's off.
I think, "Maybe I turned it the wrong way."
That results in more scalding water.
I step out of the shower and reach in to try to turn it off.
Water continues to fall from the shower head.

At that moment,
I remember satan's love of a challenge!
And into my head pops the thought.

"And your Lanny Love is probably
at this very moment,
laying broken and bruised
under a ton of avalanche snow,
slowly suffocating!"

(I have a very healthy imagination
and I could almost see him struggling!)

"STOP IT!!!"
I say firmly!
"I trust my God with my Lanny Love!"

"And how has that worked out for you in the past,

I could practically hear the sneer. 

Now, I know in my head.
I know the ski resorts are very conscientious about avalanche control.
And I know that my Lanny Love is careful.
And I know that I have hot water spewing from my shower head 
that needs to be stopped.
But my heart begins to panic.
My chest constricts. 

Then I think of my cover picture.
 And I breathe a prayer.
"My Lanny Love is Yours!
I ask for his protection!
But he is Yours!"
 And my chest relaxes. 

Now, I cannot find a shut off valve for the shower.
I have no idea where the main shut off is in this new home.
I cannot call my Lanny Love,
who, as I type, knows none of this,
for he is on a ski slope enjoying the snowy mountains
and fellowship with his son! 
And I can't remember what plumber he uses.
So I call the one I used while I was single.
They can't make it out until the end of the week.
Not an option at this point.

Back to Facebook and a plea for recommendations.
A number of suggestions for how to stop the shower
and names of plumbers.
Then, a man from my church walks me through 
turning off the line to the water heater.
The shower stops!
I have no hot water,
but I have plenty of cold and,
most importantly,
Disaster averted.

I finish dressing and decide to run a couple errands
before heading to a meeting.
Flat tire.

And he's back.
 "See what happens when you trust God?
All alone again and problems at every turn." 

Sometimes disaster happens.
That is part of life in this fallen world!
satan himself ushered problems big and small into our lives.
And he taunts us with them!

But this morning,
God met my need!
He was faithful,
As He always is!

Not today, satan!
Not today!

"But the people who trust the Lord
will become strong again.
They will rise up as an eagle in the sky;
they will run and not need rest;
they will walk and not become tired."

                                                   ~~ Isaiah 40:31 NCV

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trust - Part 2

I have never been a worrier.
I used to tell
my late husband, Al
that I didn't need to
that he worried enough for both of us.
But after his diagnosis
and death
I became a worrier.
Fearful for the safety and health of my loved ones.

January has always been hard for me.
Even before Al's January death,
the bleakness,
the after-Christmas let down
caused me to struggle with depression.
But since...
Oy Vey!!!
And so the timing of this trip was not good.
Or maybe it was!
It has forced me to face the hard truth!

Over the last couple of weeks
I have realized that I don't trust my God.
An unpleasant dawning
since I thought I had resolved that!
But my fear for my Lanny Love
has shown me otherwise.

Saturday night,
I wept in his arms
as my Lanny Love
whispered quiet assurance
and encouragement to me.
All through the night
I tossed and turned and prayed.
I battled with my lack of trust,
my fear.

I thought about those Januarys.
Those two.
The loss ones where the pain was unending.
And then I remembered another January.
The one in 2015.
Two years ago.

You see,
on Christmas Eve 2014,
I had a meltdown.
At work.
It was all just suddenly too much.
Too much loss.
Too much grief.
Too much pain.
Too much.
I fell apart.
And I knew.
Something had to be done.
I could not go on as I had been.

And so,
that January,
I began disciplining myself to
choose joy
even if my circumstances
dictated differently.

Many of you were there in those days.
You read as I learned to choose joy.
Many times a day I had to choose it
before it became natural.

Trusting God is the same thing!
I have to choose to do so!
Through the day
yesterday and today,
I have continually prayed
and released my Lanny Love,
and the rest of those people
who are precious to me,
back to Him.

And just as I discovered
in that other January
that choosing joy
led to happiness,
I have discovered today
that choosing trust
leads to peace.

It is not easy to choose!
It takes practice,
Just as it did the January of choosing Joy.
It is an act of the will,
choosing to trust!

I so choose!

"The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe."
                                  ~~ Proverbs 29:25 ESV

Sunday, January 15, 2017


I am sitting alone
at our dining room table
eating lunch
and praying for safety
and health
for my Lanny Love
and bonus son, Zach
as they take a father/son
ski trip.
And in this month of
remembered loss
I am struggling
to trust God
with these two men
so precious to me.

It has been a busy time
since my last post.
We have finally purchased
and moved into
"our" house.
Not his.
Not mine.
And for the first time since
July of 2012 when
my Al and I left
the home we had shared
for more than 20 years,
I feel like I am home.
Not in the house where
I took my Al to die.
Not an intruder
in the house 
made into a home
by another woman.
I finally feel at home.
Until today.

A bit more than an hour ago,
my Lanny Love and I
stood outside our home
in each others' arms,
praying for travel and ski safety and health
for them,
and peace and trust in God
for me 
as I spend the next few days alone.
We kissed one another,
Zach and I hugged,
they climbed in the car,
and backed out of the driveway.

I admit it.
I had to restrain myself
from chasing after them,
from running down the side of the house
to the front of the house
where I could watch the car
for as long as possible.
But instead,
I turned and went in the house.
And it no longer felt like home.
It's just a lovely house
without my Lanny Love
to make it a home.

Today is not the first time
I have been alone in this house.
my Lanny Love spends several hours
at his office at the church.
he will run an errand
while I stay home.
But this is the first time
since our marriage
13 1/2 months ago
that we will go to bed tonight
without kissing one another good night,
saying "sleep well".
It is the first time
we will arise in the morning
and not smile to see one another,
not kiss good morning,
not share a cup of coffee.
It feels different.

As I think back on those other Januarys,
those impassioned prayers,
the begging,
for healing,
as I remember the
"No, My child, not this time"
no, panic -
overtakes me.
And I struggle to trust
that he will come home.
And that if my impassioned pleas
for that are denied,
I will be okay
because God is in control.

It's interesting
that just this past Monday,
at our monthly gathering 
of members of our ministry group,
our speaker spoke on trust.
Loosely translated,
we trust our phones.
We trust our deodorant.
We trust our bank.
We trust our electric company.
But we often fail to trust our God.
Especially with our families.
(From Lisa Blake, Executive Director, Leadership Canyon; City Council Member)

So, we are settled in at last,
and I am back to blogging.
And for the next four days,
my Lanny Love and Zach
are on a ski adventure.
And just a little over an hour ago,
I began again
a trust adventure
with God.

May I prove worthy of Him!

 When I am afraid,
I will trust You.
I praise God for His Word.
I trust God, so I am not afraid.
                                            ~~ Psalm 56:3,4 NCV

But the person who trusts in the Lord will be blessed.
The Lord will show [her] that He can be trusted.
                                      ~~ Jeremiah 17:7 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Season of Thankfulness - Day 8, Memories

It is interesting that
is today's thankfulness word.
As it happens,
today would have been
Al's 61st birthday
and my mind and heart
are full of memories today.
So, while I have many precious memories,
today, I will focus on those of Al
with tremendous gratitude!

Al and I dated for 5 years.
We met at church.
Church is a very, very good place to meet!
I was barely 13.
He was not quite 15.
He thought I had good legs.
I thought he was huge!

We  didn't connect for about a year.
I was a mere 8th grader,
he was in high school.
And never, never, never
would a high school boy
be the boyfriend to a junior high girl!
It just wasn't done!

But a year later,
I was going into 9th grade.
High school.
And I still had good legs.
And he had gotten even more muscular.
And so, we became a couple.

We were babies!
But babies in love.
And as we grew,
so did our love.

And finally,
on March 20, 1976,
we became Mr. & Mrs.
For six weeks shy of
37 years,
we were Mr. & Mrs.
Then, it was just Mrs.

Book ends.
Extreme joy.
Extreme sorrow.
And so much of each in between!

I remember the first birthday
we celebrated as a couple,
Al's 16th.
He could drive!!!
I'm not sure why that was so exciting to me.
I was still 14
and not allowed to car date
until I was 16.
But I was still excited for him!

I remember his 18th birthday.
He played football
and his team had just beaten
the unbeatable!
"The night they drove old Dixie down...."
What a celebration that was!

I remember his 22nd birthday.
We were expecting our precious baby girl soon.
He was so excited.
And nervous.
Would he be a good father?
He was!
Would he be a good daddy (because they are different!)?
He was!
How would he know what to do when.....
He did!
Would he love her enough?
Oh my, how he loved that little girl -
both of them!!! 
Would his child love and respect him?
Indeed they did and do!

I remember his first birthday
of the empty nest years.
How he missed having his girls
living there!
How he reveled in the 
second honeymoon period
of that empty nest!

I remember his first birthday as
"Big Papa".
How he loved his grandchildren!
And his birthday the year
he had the privilege of 
dedicating his last grandchild to the Lord.

I remember his 55th birthday.
The big one.
The double nickle!
He thought he was old!
For some reason,
he never thought he would live that long.
He was a very diverse man.
Tough and gentle!
His cake reflected that!

I remember his 56th birthday.
A trip to Washington, D.C.,
a lifelong dream for him.
It was before we knew.
What a time we had! 

I remember his 57th.
The great outpouring of love
and affection from his many friends!
The knowing that it would be
the last such celebration.
The mix of joy and sorrow.

I have said this before.
One never stops loving and missing.
I don't love him any less today
than I did on all those birthdays!
I don't understand why God chose
to take him home at only 57.
We are supposed to get
"three score and ten"
(that's 70).
I reminded God of that
a number of times.
But God is sovereign!
He knows what I do not!
What I do know is this:
I have precious memories
of a wonderful man!
I had the privilege of 
living and loving together
and raising children and having grandchildren
with him.
And I remember. 
Yes, I remember.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 2, Home

I've thought about home a lot
over the last several years.
Just after Al's cancer diagnosis
4 1/2 years ago,
we moved out of the house we had shared
for nearly 20 years
into a lovely house in the country where,
six months later,
Al went to our true home in heaven.

It was my house.
I chose the flooring.
I chose the paint.
I furnished it.
I decorated it.
But it was not home.
It was the house I lived in.

Almost 11 months ago,
I moved into another house.
A beautiful house,
lovingly furnished and decorated
by the lady of the house
who made a warm, safe haven
for her family
before she went to our eternal home.
But it is not my home.
It is the house in which I live.

I have looked forward
to finding and moving into "our" house,
Lanny's and mine.
But that place will be
only bricks and mortar
just like the other houses.

So where is home on this earth?
Well, I'll tell you what I have discovered.
Home is not the place you live!

First and foremost,
"home" is in the arms
Of my Savior, Jesus Christ!
In all my life,
every moment,
good or bad,
He has loved and cradled me!

Then, for 37 years,
I was "home" with Al.
No matter what house,
or city,
or state 
in which we lived,
where he was,
was home.
When he wasn't there,
it was only a house.
We loved,
we LIVED together.
Al was home!
When he died,
I became very homesick,

incredibly, completely lost.
I no longer fit.

Then God moved
in a way I could never have imagined!

A year and a half ago,
I received an email,
then another,
then another,
and soon an invitation to meet,
then dinner,
miracle of miracles,
I fell in love.
The icy loneliness began to thaw.
And my Lanny Love
took me into his heart,
I took him into mine,
and our awesome God
brought us both
to the comfort of "home"
once again.

I was talking with a fellow widow
also remarried to a widower this evening.
They were each happily and joyfully married
for many years.
Then the unthinkable.
The grief.
The loneliness.
The longing.
And finally,
the loving again.
And her comment to me
is the first of its kind that I have heard.
And it echoes my own experience.
I thought I was alone in this phenomenon.
I am not!

There is something different,
something special,
something that was not part 
of our first marriages.
It is not deeper love.
We love our first spouses deeply!
It is, 
I think, 
a deeper appreciation of love.
A deeper understanding of what is -
and what isn't -
It is a recognition of a great gift,
this love from sorrow,
this beauty from ashes.
And more than I knew when he was alive,
that thing I have come to fully recognize in his death,
that Al was my "home",
is now common knowledg!
I know now,
not when it is too late,
I know now,
that my Lanny Love
is "home"!

So home is not the place we live.
As long as we are alive on this earth,
home is the people we love
and who love us!
I have been so blessed in my life!
God did not ask me to be homesick
for the remainder my earthly life!
During the darkness,
He provided me with shelter.

I was home in the love and care
of my precious daughters and sons-in-love!
I was home in the protection
my grandson displayed
each Sunday morning in church.

I was home in the teasing
of my other grandson as he gave me
smelly, sweaty hugs after football games.

I was home in the shouts of
by my little granddaughter.

I was home in the calls
and visits
and texts
from my siblings, cousins, uncle, and friends.

It was a different kind of home
than I was accustomed to,
but it was home nonetheless.

God has twice gifted me with "home"
in the arms of a good, loving husband!
And I am more fully aware now
of the precious gift of marriage,
the gift of "home".
I pray daily that
I will never again take it for granted!

So today,
as I prepare to move into "our" house
with my Lanny Love,
I am grateful that
I am only changing living quarters.
I am already "home"!

A wonderful word!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Letters to Al

I journal.
A lot.
I have several journals.
This forum is a journal of sorts.
I get a lot of my posts
from my hand written journals.
They are modified,
prayed over to see what
God wants "out there",
and finally posted.
One of my handwritten journals is for prayer.
I bring my praises,
and a myriad of other things
to Almighty God.
One is a general journal
where I process my life,
record memories.
In one, I write poetry.
The fourth is my most personal.
It is letters to Al.

I began the practice of writing to him
shortly after his death.
It was a tangible thing,
a way to "touch" him.
Nearly four years later,
I still write to him occasionally.
These are highly personal letters.
I share them with no one.

Until now.

I have to tell you
that I balked a bit about this.
But I feel strongly led
to share my last two letters,
written recently,
with you, my readers,
word-for-word as they are written.
May God use this post for His glory!

As I left his gravesite that day,
I was a little nervous.
You see,
I have recently been in a season
of spiritual conviction
and heavy grief at the loss of my husband,
my childhood sweetheart,
the father of my children.
I have been missing him deeply.
Missing the familiarity.
Missing someone who experienced
my history with me.
Missing not having to blend two families.
Missing knowing my place,
my position,
in the family.
Missing not having to decide what to keep
and what to sell or give away.
Missing having my home,
my things.
My experience has been
that when these periods of grief ease,
there is a period of increased peace
that is often followed quickly by a big
And with the added spiritual struggles,
I was a little nervous.

Letter two.

I guess I share this to say
to those of you in the midst of grief,
and to those of you
for whom grief is coming,
there is life after the death of a loved one!
It is different!
You are different!
It will never be the same as it was!
You will never be the same as you were!
And that's okay!

May God bring you healing!
May your broken heart
give way to soft memories
and appreciation for the past,
and may He grant you peace
and joy in the here and now!
May you find hope for a future!
Grant it, Lord! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Loving and missing and memories

Today is the anniversary
of my Lanny Love's greatest loss.
Three years ago today
his precious Judy
"...beheld the face of the One
for whom she lived."
Reading his loving Facebook post
and that of his daughter's
made me very sad.
But not for the reason you might think.

You see,
as I read through the comments,
looked at the "likes"
I couldn't help but notice something.
As of this writing,
there are 69 likes
and 13 comments to my Lanny Love's post.
In comparison,
there are 220 likes
and 33 comments on his daughter's.
The difference has little to do
with the number of friends they each have
for many of the comments and likes
on his daughter's post
are mutual friends.
It has more to do with Lanny's
and his daughter's relationship
to Judy,
and now to me.
And that makes me incredibly sad.

I have grieved with and for
my Lanny Love today -
as he did me in January.
I have grieved for Judy's children,
her mother,
her sister,
and her host of friends who miss her,
many of whom are now also my friends.
I have read with joy the loving comments
that tell me so much about this woman I never met.
I want to know her!
For as much as -
no, more than -
his parents influenced who my Lanny Love became
in the 18 years he lived with them,
Judy influenced the man he became
in the 32 years they lived together as man and wife
and the five years they dated before marriage.
Knowing her helps me to know him.

But more than that!
More than my selfish desire to know this woman
he so loves,
more than that
is the fact that he needs to know,
needs to read,
that others remember her still.
As he does.
That others were influenced by her.
As he was.
That others love her still.
As he does.

One of the strange misconceptions
people consistently have about widowhood
is that when a person falls in love,
begins anew with another,
he or she is "over" the death
of his or her spouse,
that the grieving is done,
that the person they "once loved"
has been relegated to the past,
that the widow(er) doesn't want to remember anymore,
and that bringing them up
is inconsiderate of the new spouse.

Nothing is further from the truth!

In widowhood,
you do not stop loving.
The marriage did not end out of choice.
You do not stop missing someone
to whom you committed your love,
your life.
You do not stop!
Any more than you stop loving and missing
a deceased parent.
Or a deceased child,
even if you have another child after their death.
Or a deceased friend,
even when you make new friends.
You do not stop!

In the early days of grief,
people ask "how are you?"
But they want to know only about your daily life.
They are uncomfortable talking about "it".
They are uncomfortable talking about the deceased person.
They are afraid of bringing up memories.
They are afraid of making you sad.
But in those early days,
you crave talking about them!
It is the only way of keeping them with you!
Sharing memories means others remember
and love them,
that they were not a figment of your imagination,
they were real,
your life with them was real.
In many ways,
that craving increases with time.
As distance makes water color
of the memories,
having someone who also remembers
is supremely important!

So, while I grieve with my Lanny Love today,
while I grieve for him,
while I talk with him about Judy,
I did not know her.
I do not remember.
I do not help confirm she was real,
that their life together was real.
Oh, I can ask leading questions
to spur memories,
I can encourage him to tell me about her,
but I cannot share her with him.

So, please,
when someone you love dies,
do not bury them over and over
to their spouse!
Forever, talk about them!
You are not reminding them
of anything they aren't already
thinking about!
Confirm to them that
their beloved was valued!
Confirm to them that his/her life
made a difference!
Love them now,
just as you did then.
Believe me,
even if they have remarried,
that person's widow(er)
them terribly!

And the new spouse?
Well he or she understands.
They know the person they so love
is hurting
and needs to talk about "it"
and "them".
They know that memories are important.
They know that hearing others remember too
brings comfort.

And if you happen to be a new spouse
who doesn't understand,
please know,
please believe -
for this is the truth -
loving their first husband or wife
is not in competition with their love for you!
Rather, it is in addition to it!
And the fact that they cannot stop loving
should give you great security
for it means they cannot stop loving you either!

I have said it before,
I will say it again.
Do! Not! Waste!
Do not waste your emotions on anger!
Do not waste your time with separation!
Cleave to those you love!
Hold them close!
Cherish them every single moment!
Embrace their imperfections!
Love them with your whole being!
You are not guaranteed tomorrow!