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 knowledge!
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!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Are you hurting?

Today I watched a heartbroken father
honor his 19 year old son
at his memorial service.

His precious son committed suicide on Thursday
during the commission of a crime.

I wept as I saw this fine man
and his precious, grieving wife,
pay homage to their youngest child.

And I wept as I heard of this
unique young man's struggle with
bullying and the resulting depression.

I wept as I heard his father talk of
the things they learned about their boy
while searching his room
these last few days.

I wept as I felt the pain and suffering
this fine young man felt throughout his youth.

I wept as I heard how the bullying apparently did not end
with high school graduation
but continued on into his adulthood.
No end in sight.
And so, on Thursday night, in an out of character move,
their son got drunk
and returned to the middle school where the bullying began.
He broke in,
trashed a room,
and when the police arrived,
he ran.
Suddenly, with police in pursuit,
he stopped,
fired one shot into the ground,
then turned the gun on himself,
and fired.

And the world changed.
A family is forever altered.
No longer innocent,
they have experienced the worst,
the death of a child,
magnified because of the circumstances.

But let me tell you about my friends.
As I watched his parents honor their son,
I saw grief written all over them.
They had aged years in a few short days.
Swollen eyes marked the father's face.
Pale skin marked the mother's.
A catch in the voice,
trembling hands.
But about them was something else.
There was a glow about them.
Even in this storm,
this tsunami of grief,
God was evident!
His Spirit surrounded them,
held them up!

As I listened to them talk,
I heard no condemnation.
Not toward their child.
Not toward themselves.
And not toward God.

They talked of their son's struggles to learn.
They talked of his speech difficulties.
They talked of his small stature.
They talked of the things that made him a bully's target.

And they talked of his big heart.
They talked of his service as a volunteer fire fighter.
They talked of his salvation and baptism.
They talked of his love for God.

They begged those listening to express their hurts
rather than suppressing them.
They told of how crushed their family was
and begged that no one else ever crush their family in such a way.
They begged that if anyone listening was contemplating suicide,
that they


Your family and friends cannot read minds!
They do not know the depth of your pain!
Tell them!!!
Call someone, anyone!
Cry out!
But get help!

I am echoing that plea today!
I have been depressed!
I have contemplated ending my life!
How glad I am that I sought help instead!
If things seem hopeless to you,
if you cannot see any way to get past ---
--- IT ---
whatever "it" may be,
KNOW this one thing!
"It" is not permanent!!!
No one is so broken,
nothing is so bad,
that it cannot be mended!
Seek help!
It is out there!
Ask a friend!
Ask a clergyman!
Ask a stranger!
Ask a professional!
If you know me, ask me!
But ASK!
And ask God!
The solution is not instant!
It will likely take hard work and commitment.
But there IS a solution!

You are precious!
A child of God!
Dearly loved by Him
and by more people than you realize!
Do not end it!
Do not take a permanent action
on a temporary situation!


I look up to the hills,
but where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let you be defeated.
He who guards you never sleeps.
~~ Psalm 121:1-3 NCV ~~

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The house I grew up in

Today I ended a chapter in my life.
I entered into a contract
to sell the house I grew up in.
I am not speaking of my childhood home.
I am speaking of the house I moved into
four years ago.
Let me tell you about it.

On May 25, 2012,
my Al was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
I had just celebrated my 55th birthday.
We had a lot of decisions to make
very quickly.
His time was short.
One of the decisions we made
was to sell our home of 19 years
and move to a smaller house
nearer our children.
The purchase and sale of both houses
happened very quickly and very smoothly.
It truly was a miracle from God!

Because of the circumstances of the purchase,
we made the very difficult decision to put the new house
in my name only.
And so, on July 6,
I took my Al to Short Oaks to die.
And I began my journey.

You see, I had never lived alone.
I was 18 when Al and I married.
I moved from my parents' home
to my husband's.
I never had to budget just my income.
I never had to be the only one responsible for upkeep.
I never had to be the only one to lay down under a roof to sleep.
I never had to be the only one -

Now, I'll tell you a little secret.
I always regretted that I'd not allowed myself that experience.
Don't get me wrong!
I loved my Al!
I am glad I married him!
But I always felt I'd somehow not really been an adult
when I married.
Because I wasn't.
I was 18.
A baby.

And so, as I searched for silver linings
in those dark, dark days
following his death,
I thought that perhaps having the experience of living alone
was a silver lining.
Or maybe more silver plated.

And so, I began growing up.
I paid my bills,
only once facing a disconnect very early on
while "widows fog" was in its full-blown state.
I painted asking only myself what color I wanted.
I purchased light fixtures and flooring without input.
I selected new furnishings.
I bought a car.
And I'll tell you something.
It's not all it's cracked up to be!
But I grew up during those three years.
And now, the house I couldn't wait to get rid of
because it was where I took my Al to die,
is going to belong to someone else.
And it makes me surprisingly melancholy.

I am discovering that that little house
has become more a home than I thought.
It does not have years of wonderful memories
with my beloved.
I still sometimes see his hospital bed in the dining room
where it was placed so he could be a part of the daily activities
when he was awake.
I still remember the many nights I came home from work
after his death
and sat for many minutes in my car
because I couldn't bear the thought of going into a dark, silent, lonely house.
I still remember the days of anguished tears,
the long, sleepless nights.

But I also remember the satisfaction I felt
in the colorful, warm rooms,
the cozy furniture,
the office that made me feel accomplished,
the kitchen where I sat at the island
having my time with the Lord
and looking out at the beauty of His creation.
I remember that I grew more in my relationship with God
while I lived in that house
than at any other time in my life.
It was in that house
that I made the decision,
the conscious choice,
to live not simply exist.
It was there that I did the work.

I had my third date ever with a man other than my Al
while I lived in that house.
I experienced my very first goodnight kiss from a man other than my Al.
I experienced my very first romantic heartbreak.
And I learned to move on.
I romantically broke my very first heart.
And I learned that companionship was not enough,
I needed to love again.
And in that house,
I fell in love with my Lanny Love.

I grew up in that house.
And selling it now makes me a little sad.

Turns out the lining was silver after all
and I am grateful to God for showing me.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mother's Day

I know.
Mother's Day is several weeks past!
But this has been brewing for a while.
It's finally come together
so it's time to post.

This Mother's Day was unique.
It was another first.
I've had a number of firsts where Mother's Day is concerned.

The first Mother's Day after losing a child
The first Mother's Day I had a mother-in-law
The first Mother's Day I knew I was pregnant
The first Mother's Day after my oldest daughter was born
Several first Mother's Days after miscarriages
The first Mother's Day after my mom died
The first Mother's Day after my youngest daughter was born
The first Mother's Days after I knew there would be no more babies
The first Mother's Day after I had a son-in-law
The first Mother's Day after my Al and my mother-in-law died
The first Mother's Day after I had no more grandmothers

And now this year.
More firsts.

Once again, I have a precious husband who,
though we do not share biological children,
celebrated my motherhood with me.
Once again, I have a wonderful mother-in-law to celebrate.
But the big first,
one I never expected to experience,
is that this year,
I am a step-mother.
And that's what this blog is about.

As is the case in any blended family,
there have been some growing pains.
And, just as my children will likely especially miss their daddy this week-end
as Father's Day is celebrated,
I am certain that my step-children especially missed their precious mama
on Mother's Day.
And, honestly, I wasn't sure just how to act on this first for them -
another wife in their daddy's life on Mother's Day.
Because while they know he still misses their mama,
it very likely felt different to them this year,
as if, somehow, he didn't really miss her as much.
In reality,
my presence probably made him miss her more.
And it probably had the same affect on them.

But I would never have known it!
All three of my Lanny Love's children remembered me on Mother's Day!
In some respects, the enemy.
And in the midst of their sorrow and longing for their own mother,
they took the time and effort to make me feel special!
How it pleasured me!
This gift, their love and acceptance,
is the most precious Mother's Day gift I have ever received!
How I love them for their efforts!

And that's what I want to focus on now that you have the back ground story.
Three things:


According to whatever entity it is that names relationships,
I am a step-mother,
the wife of a man who has children with another woman.
They are my step-children,
the children of my husband with another woman.
Except they aren't.
In my heart, they aren't.
And it surprised me as Mother's Day approached
and I began to realize the truth of that statement!
I love Tiffany and Aleisha and Zach -
and their spouses, Blu and Jamie!
And while I do not think of myself as their mother,
I do think of them as my children.
Not my step-children,
my children.
It's confusing.
How can I not be their mother,
but they are my children?
Here's what I've come up with.

A long time ago,
I babysat a little boy.
He came to me at about four weeks old.
And I fell in love with him!
When I went shopping and bought something for my girls,
I bought something for Steven.
I was not his mom.
But I loved him like a son!
When we moved away and his mama wouldn't let me take him with me,
(unreasonable woman!)
I grieved as if I had lost another child.

Several years later,
my brother and sister-in-law and baby nephew
moved in with us for a while.
Same thing happened!
Eric became mine in my heart!
And, again, when they moved away,
I grieved as if I had lost another child.

That is how I feel about my love-children!
They are mine!
I did not birth them.
I do not share
their DNA.
They don't look like me
in any way.
They don't sound
like me.
They don't have any of 
my habits.
They don't have any of
my mannerisms.
But they are mine.
I love them deeply!
As my children!

I don't know why since the same thing happened with my sons-in-love,
but I did not expect this!
They are adults,
not sweet, tiny babies.
I expected to love them because I love my Lanny Love.
I expected to love them as friends.
I did not expect to love them as children.
My children!
But I do!
And it amazes me!
And brings me great joy!
And it makes me realize anew how great is the love of God!

I was an adult watching my Al be a daddy to our girls,
and experiencing the absolute, complete adoration I felt for them,
before I really understood the concept of
God loving us like a Father.
But those were littles.
They grew in our hearts as they grew in my belly.
By the time they were born,
they were our precious children,
forever bonded to us in love!
During the teen years,
it sometimes felt like only the shared DNA -
and remembering my own obnoxious teen years -
kept me from killing them.
But I did not and do not love them
for what they did or didn't do,
I love them for whose they are - MINE!
And I found myself wondering,
as I did in my youth,
if a perfect God would tolerate and love me in my imperfection.

While my head knew the answer to that,
today, my love-children have reminded my heart that 
God's love is
protecting - 

I am God's Child!
No matter what!
No matter how many growing pains I experience in our relationship.
He does not love me for what I do,
He loves me for whose I am - HIS!

Isn't that a thing of great wonder!

The Lord your God is with you;
the mighty One will save you.
He will rejoice over you.
You will rest in his love;
He will sing and be joyful about you.
                                                                     ~~ Zephaniah 3:17 NCV 

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Cue the deer!"

My Lanny Love and I
recently signed paperwork
making an official offer on
"our" house.
The offer has been accepted
And, rather than "he" and "me",
"we" will soon be home owners.
We are so excited!

The house is perfect,
exactly what we were both looking for!
I had a feeling it was "the day"
when we started on our list of showings
that Saturday afternoon
and my heart began racing
when we pulled into the drive.
When we walked in the door,
I knew I was home!
My Lanny Love felt the same way.
It's "the one" for us
just as surely as we are for each other!

It is located outside of town
on a bit of acreage
in a canyon area.
Our back yard is a "mountain"
and our front yard looks out over
a lovely canyon.
There is wildlife all around.

As we were leaving,
eight deer wandered into our yard
as we sat in the car watching.
I was enthralled!
The realtor said,
"Aaaaand cue the deer!"
It was the frosting on the cake!
And it made me think.

How often God gives us frosting!
It was enough!
He gave up His throne!
He squeezed through a tiny birth canal
into cold, dark, prickly-bedded surroundings.
He endured name-calling
from the beginning of His life
until the very end:

"Mama's boy!"
"Goody two-shoes!"
"Teacher's pet!"


"Rebel rouser!"

And finally,

Unimaginable physical abuse

And His followers felt 
just like we do
when our world comes crashing down!
It was over!
They were lost!
Didn't know what to do,
how to live!
Nothing would ever be the same!

And they were right!
It would never be the same!
For after the devastation
came restoration!
They had to wait for it!
But it came!
And it was more than they could have
hoped, dreamed, or imagined!
It was not the same!
It was very different!

Eternal Life!
The memory of the pain
changed them too.
It gave them strength!
It energized them to the task at hand!
The pain made them appreciate the restoration
all the more!
And that was enough!

But God didn't - doesn't -
stop there!
When devastation hits -
and it will for it is the result of satan in our world -
God restores!
He has given us salvation,
and that should be enough,
but He gives us more!

We are surrounded by the beauty of His creation!
We are surrounded by those who love us!
We are surrounded by His presence in the Holy Spirit!

For me, and for my Lanny Love,
He has given a second chance at love!
But even if He had chosen us to be only widowed
and not remarried,
He had restored us,
given us a will to go on,
people to serve,
jobs to do,
children to love,
grandchildren to cherish!

A second chapter after devestation
may not look like we expected,
but it looks exactly like what God intends!

Then I will make up to you for the years 
That the swarming locust has eaten,
                             ~~  Joel 2:25 NASB ~~

'For I know what I have planned for you,' says the LORD. 
'I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. 
I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.'
                                          ~~ Jeremial 29:11 NET Bible ~~ 

Sunday, March 20, 2016


March 20, 1976
Happy Anniversary, Alfie!
It is very early on the morning of
what should have been
my 40th wedding anniversary
with my precious Al.

Just as on that long ago night,
I slept very little last night.
But last night's restlessness was different.

Then, it was anticipation,
Last night, it was reflection,
And yet, it the quiet darkness of this early morning,
I am not despondent.
You see, it is another precious anniversary too.
One year ago tonight,
my Lanny Love told me he loved me for the first time.
I find that ironic.
And a wonderful example
of God's power of restoration!
Since my precious Al's death,
God has performed one miracle after another
in my life!
I don't use the term miracle lightly!
In my book,
grief-healing is more miraculous than
giving site to the blind,
clear skin to the leper,
health to the dying!
Emotions do not knit back together as easily as bones!
Having had both broken bones and a broken heart,
I feel qualified to say that!
God's Word is full of miracles!
It is one example after another of
God's love of restoration for man, His creation!
From feeding the 5,000
(Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6)
to causing the lame to walk
(Matthew 9, Mark 2 & 5, Acts 3)
to calming the storm
(Matthew 8, Mark 4, Luke 8)
Jesus brought restoration and order out of lives thrown into chaos.
And from Jairus' daughter
(Mark 5, Luke 8)
to the widow's son
(Luke 7)
to Lazarus
(John 11)
He brought life to the dead.
When my precious Al was diagnosed with terminal cancer,
my life,
my heart,
was thrown into chaos!!!
When he died,
so did I!!!
Mine was not a physical death, to be sure,
though I would have preferred that in those early days.
No, it was worse.
It was a death of heart and spirit and mind.
My healing,
my restoration,
did not come easily for anyone!
In the beginning,
I was like the lame man whose friends carried him to Jesus,
climbed a house,
dug a hole in the roof,
and lowered him into the healer's presence!
My children,
my dear friends,
my family,
carried me on a mat to Jesus
when I could not walk to Him myself.
In time, I was able to go on my own.
I became the woman with the issue of blood,
just reaching out for the hem of His garment.
And just as He healed in those days,
He heals in these!
And so, today,
as I remember my precious Al,
as I think of the nearly 37 years we spent as man and wife,
as I go through this special day without him,
I do so with rejoicing!
I am able to embrace the memories of the past with a smile,
and embrace the hope of the future with joy,
because that which satan meant for harm,
God has used for good! (Genesis 50:20)
He has restored what the locusts have destroyed! (Joel 2:25)
My broken heart has been knit back together,
and I live again!
So on this dual special day,
I thank God for restoration!
I thank Him for the wonderful years of the past
with my precious Al!
And I thank Him for the wonderful years of the future
with my Lanny Love!
God is good!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lanny & Gina: A Love Story, Part 5

On a beautiful early December evening,
she became Mrs. Lanny Love
and he became Mr. Gina Girl...

...and they are living happily ever after!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lanny & Gina: A Love Story, Part 4

Can I just say it?
Loving my Lanny Love is fun!

We fit one another
like a worn pair of favorite jeans
that ride at just the right place on your waist,
hug your hips just right
without squeezing the breath out of you,
meeting your shoe at just the right length.
They are not perfect jeans, no.

They are worn.
They've been through the washer several times.
They are a bit frayed.

And they are the best pair of jeans you've ever owned!
My Lanny Love and I fit each other in absolute comfort!

Before the choice,
we had talked about the phenomenon of our relationship.
Very early in our relationship,
we noticed the deep connection,
the commonality that went far beyond
two lonely, widowed individuals.
Almost from our first meeting
we would both begin a statement at the same moment
saying the exact same words.
We found we had far more similarities 
than differences
in our core beliefs,
our tastes,
our hopes and desires,
our ideas of fun,
our emotional needs.
We are as suited to each other as any man and woman can be.

It's almost as if God had said, 
during His building of us,
"These two will need relief!
They will need comfort!
They will need to deeply love again!
They will need to be deeply loved again!
I will create them for one another!"

There was Adam and Eve.
There was Boaz and Ruth.
And now,
Lanny and Gina.

Once he returned from the wilderness,
our relationship kicked into high gear.
We began attending church together.
I met his parents. 
I met his son.
We became an "item".
And most everyone recognized and understood that
neither of us were individuals interested in casual dating
which meant this was serious business.

We shared even more deeply with one another.
We played together.
We prayed together.
We began talking less about "if"
and more about "when".
And one August afternoon,
we talked about time table,
a couple things we wanted behind us before making it official,
and "if" disappeared all together.
Finally, on Sunday evening, October 26th, we set the date.
December 4.
Just under six short weeks away.
They took forever!!!!

Watch for wedding details in a few days!
Part 5 is on the way!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Lanny & Gina: A Love Story, Part 3

I am just over seven months ahead of my Lanny Love
on the widow hood grief journey.
It is a journey that cannot be rushed
and one that will not come to an end.
We will always be Al's and Judy's widowed spouses.
We will always cherish our memories of them.
We will always love them.
We will always miss them.
I have said it before,
but it bears repeating -

Our love for one another 
is not instead of our love for them, 
it is in addition to it.

I mention this
because Al and Judy are part of our love story -
especially this part.

When I first realized that my Al had been right,
I needed to love and be loved,
wanted to remarry,
I felt very disloyal.
After all, I had been his wife for nearly 37 years,
his girl for five before that.
I had had only three other dates in my life outside of him.
So taking the plunge, 
making the decision to move forward without him,
was not done easily or lightly,
but I did it.
And, I met someone,
fell in love,
and got my heart broken.
Then I broke a heart.
So, I will tell you,

My Lanny Love understood.
He had honored my need for safety.
Had not wanted to scare me off.
Had proceeded carefully,
as a gentleman.

We took our time,
Wrote long emails filled with
life details,
We talked about everything
from favorite colors
to moral values
to childhoods and families
to our late spouses
to our hopes and dreams for -
and our fears of -
the future.
Finally, we decided to meet.

First date.
Second date a week later.
Third date a few days later.
Fourth date, a couple days later.
First kiss.
Seeing one another daily.
"I think I'm falling in love with you!"
"I love you!"
We had begun talking about "what if".
Then he said to me one evening,
"You have to marry me!"
It wasn't a proposal,
and I knew it wasn't -
we were not there yet -
but I relaxed,
began to trust not only my heart,
but his.

Then suddenly,
shortly after his "marry me" comment,
things changed.
He became more distant.
More reserved.
Our relationship became awkward
where it had always been easy.
I felt hesitation in him when there had previously been none.

And so, over dinner one night,
we talked.
I told him I needed to know where I stood.
And he needed to know if he was ready to be in love again,
or if he was not.
He agreed.
And so, that night, he decided to take some "wilderness" time,
just him and nature and God.
That was on a Saturday,
he planned to leave on Monday.
I told him I thought we should step back,
not see each other or talk again until he returned.
He planned to be gone five days.

I asked him not to call me or text me with his answer.
I wanted to talk face-to-face.
Either way.
We held each other.
He told me he loved me.
I cried.
And we parted ways.

I had been where he was.
Had broken a heart as a result.
I knew it was very possible,
despite his feelings for me -
for he did love me and I him and we both knew that -
despite that love,
I knew it was possible
that he would discover he was not ready,
that he would decide to stop seeing me.

I spent the week in prayer along with him.
And God gave me calmness,
assurance that His plan was unfolding as He intended.
Experience had taught me
that didn't necessarily mean I would get what I wanted.
But I sure hoped it meant that!

He texted me on Monday to let me know he had arrived safely.
I heard from him the following day letting me know
he had moved to another campsite.
A picture text of his campsite on Wednesday.
Then on Thursday, he said he was coming home.
A day early.

He arrived home late Thursday evening.
We spoke on the phone
and arranged to meet for dinner the following evening after work.
His words and tone filled me with hope.
Still, that night and the following work day were

I had never been nervous with him.
Not even on our first date.
But I was nervous that night.
I dressed carefully.
Spent extra time on my hair and makeup.
I was ready when he arrived at 7:30.
I opened the door
and he took my breath away.
He put his arms around me,
kissed me soundly,
and I began to relax.

Dinner was lovely.
He  talked about the sights he had seen,
told me about a singing gentleman he had met,
about an old acquaintance he had run into.
Then he began to talk to me about
his time with the Lord.
I could see the peace on his face,
in his eyes.

I won't go into the details of our conversation that night,
the words are precious,
He'd had his version of my San Antonio miracle.
He was ready to move forward -
forward with our relationship -
forward with life not simply existence.

I admit it.
I have had a hard time writing this chapter of our love story.
You see, it was a scary chapter.
A chapter that gave both my Lanny Love and me pause.
I have written and rewritten this post numerous times.
I seriously considered skipping it all together.
But it's part of the story.
An important part!
The part where the choice was made.
Yes, he chose me.
But my Lanny Love chose far more than that!
And I know, because I had to make the same choice several months earlier.
My Lanny Love chose to live.

And I wanted you to know.
Not for my sake,
for I would prefer you not know that my Lanny Love
considered not choosing me.
It's painful,
a bit embarrassing.

No, I want you to know for you.
For those of you struggling,
wondering if it's worth it,
wondering if the pain ever eases,
wondering if healing really, truly happens,
wondering if you can ever be happy again.
I tell this chapter for you!

I want you to know that life is full of changes!
I want you to know change is never easy!
Not even when it is wonderful!
I want you to know that relationships have struggles,
growing pains,
even those we want and embrace.
I want you to know that
true love is forever.
You will never forget!
You will always miss them.
But I want you to know that in the midst of loss and grief,
love can come gently in,
catching you by surprise.
I want you to know that it's okay to step back,
examine your heart,
remember the past while dancing into the future.
I want you to know that God has purpose, a plan.
I want you to know that plan has both joy and sorrow.
I want you to know fighting through the emotions,
                     the grief,
                                                         the loss
is worth it!
I want you to know!
It's okay to remember!
To weep over the loss!
To cherish the memories!
Glances back are normal,
even healthy!

But we've learned not to live there,
not to let it wreck the here and now
where God has placed us,
the future he has planned for us.
My prayer for all of us is that we do this well!

I learned to trust that,
through God's grace,
something beautiful and new would emerge
even in the face of my 
and hopelessness.
I too would live again.

                                        ~~ Bethel Crockett ~~

And now on to part 4!