Dancing

My sweet husband was good at many things…but dancing was not one of them.

Even at his funeral, our dear sweet friend, the preacher who married us, talked about Keith’s inability to dance.

I always wished we could take a dancing class, but, alas, he wasn’t having any of it.  He did not care that he could not dance.

As we watched his muscle strength leave over the last couple months of his illness, the boys and I saw that he could barely stand and walk around, much less dance.  It was painful…for us and for him.

A day or two after Keith died, I remember Matthew, not quite six, saying, “Now, in Heaven, Daddy can dance!”

Ah, the simple words of a child!

Since Keith’s passing, I have done my own share of dancing.

Learning how to be a single mom and juggle all that I must juggle is tiring work at times.  I always had respect for single moms, and prayed for them, but now that I have become one, I realize that I had no idea what their lives were like.

Now, I run from schooling four boys, to laundry, to writing, to guitar lessons, to soccer, to church activities, to errands…on and on.

The dancing comes in when I can do these with grace and the love of Jesus in my every action.  Some days, I achieve my activities and dance; some days I do not.

Overall, though, it is about my attitude.  I may not have taken a dancing class with Keith, but I take a daily dancing class with my Bridegroom, learning to follow His lead…and to not step on His toes in how I go through this life.  Fortunately, He is a patient Partner and a consummate Teacher.

And my life is still a dance, not a drudge–even without Keith, even as hard as it is sometimes.

Praise God!

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

– Psalm 30:11-12

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Who Do You Love?

In one of my favorite movies, Facing the Giants (http://www.facingthegiants.com/), the main female character, Brooke Taylor, after realizing that she is not going to be able to have kids, promises the Lord to always love Him in spite of this.  It is a moving and wonderful scene…and right after that in the movie, big things start to happen, so I won’t spoil it if you have not seen it.

When I was single the first time, I longed for two things…for a husband here on earth…and for the ability to say the same thing…that God was fully enough for me as a Husband.

It was an odd place of dichotomy, but I think fairly typical to many deep places in the Christian life.

It finally happened one year at Valentine’s Day.  After praying and studying hard on the subject…real work involved here…I was finally able to say that God was completely and fully enough for me, even if no earthly husband ever came into my life.  What a freeing moment that was!  Praise Him for leading me faithfully to that point.

This begs the question…where am I in my second singleness?  Have I achieved this same peace and joy with God alone as my Husband and the Love of My Life.

Uh…no…wish I could say it was so…but…no…not fully.

I loved being married to Keith and we had a good marriage.  There’s a lot about it that I miss.  Having a flesh-and-blood husband is very comforting and strengthening on many levels:  someone to hold me, someone to help me, someone to share with me.

God is there always…I know that as clearly as I know there is air all around me.  But, He cannot take someone to guitar for me, or wash dishes for me, or physically hold me when I cry.

On the other hand…

  •  I have the unique opportunity to be able to pick up and go any time, anywhere, without regard for vacation schedules or days off.
  • I can manage on the fly a bit better, changing the plans to fit our needs and things that pop up better.  That certainly did not happen married to my sweet-but-structured husband.
  • I can stay up with a girlfriend, listening to her problems and concerns and not take time from a hubby.
  • I can serve cookies for dinner (yep, I have) and leave the folded clothes on the other side of the bed until morning.

So…I will wait on Him…wait for that feeling that He is enough…wait in this limbo that singleness necessarily creates…wait for Him to fill me as no other.

John Waller has a wonderful song that was in the movie Fireproof (http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/) called While I’m Waiting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6X71sXagUY).  Here are the lyrics:

I‘m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I’ll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You Lord

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting

Amen and amen!  God’s got it.  I don’t need to worry about it.  He will tell me when the waiting is over…whatever form that may take.  And it will be glorious!

Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lordwill renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:30-31

Treasuring in My Heart, Part 3

Today was baptism day for my sweet Jackson!  It was glorious!  These are the moments that make this mom proud…bring tears to my eyes…provide me with great joy…and make me miss Keith.  Joy and pain…happiness and sorrow.  That is the stuff life is made of.  Praise God that we have ridden the roller coaster of this world with our hands up and our hearts open!

Jackson boldly stepped forward for Christ, and was baptized into Him by our sweet minister, Mike.

And therein lies my last segment of this story.

In our church, it is typical for the dads to baptize their children.  It is a wonderful tradition, the passing of the baton of life with Christ in a blood family, and is very moving.  For us, it presents a quandary.

But, like all quandaries, the solution can be a joyous opportunity.

My boys have the opportunity to choose who baptizes them.  They do not take this lightly, but instead pray over whom they want to immerse them.  And both Matthew and Jackson have chosen well.

Matthew chose my self-proclaimed “little brother” in the church, Dave.  He is the uncle who wrestles with them, is ready to kick their behinds or have a talk with them if I need it done.  This bond was already there with my boys, but has only grown stronger since baptizing Matthew.  I guess the best thing I can liken it to what the godfather is intended to be in the life a child…Dave has invested himself in Matthew spiritually, and the dividends to both of them have been beautiful to see.  Praise God for His provision!

Jackson knew he would have the same choice, and had been thinking and praying about it almost as long as he had been pondering the question of baptism in his heart.  After careful consideration, he decided he wanted our minister, Mike, to baptize him.  All my boys have been blessed to spend a lot of time with Mike and his wife Linda.  Mike was present for the births of all but Alex, supporting us and reporting the joyous news to the congregation.  Mike sat with me at the hospital when Keith had his heart catheterization eight months before he passed away.  Ironically, that day we talked about baptism.

Since Keith’s death, Mike has often watched the boys for me so that I could attend ladies’ functions at church.  He gamely played paper airplanes, Legos, Wii, and anything else the boys wanted.  He has come to soccer and baseball games each season, often accompanied by Linda.  Together, they love and support my boys, getting nearly as teary as I do as we watch them grow into men.  And I know that the relationship will be there always.  Provision again!

I am blessed beyond measure to have so many fine Christian men speaking into the lives of my boys.  These men have taken on the task with the same gusto that they have used with their own children.  I have no worries about my boys learning to be the men God intends them to be.  They have many wonderful examples…the list is too long to mention.

Today, I was overcome by the beauty of the day, the beauty of friends who have constantly loved and supported us over the past five years.  God’s church as it is supposed to be!  I cried, but not an inordinate amount.  The boys were pretty proud of me for that.

In a few years, Tanner will face the same decisions…for Christ and for whom shall immerse him.  That will be just as glorious a day as this.  He might even choose his brother Alex.  Just the thought of that makes me smile. 

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:5b-7

Treasuring in My Heart – Part 1

Well, he’s done it!  This is a good “it!”

My seven year old has studied.  He has pondered and asked questions.  And now he’s ready…to commit his life to Christ through baptism.

Praise God and hallelujah!

Now, in this mom brain, that has brought about a series of emotions and feelings, all in short order.

My first thought when he told me was a very human response, I think.

Well, I guess I’m doing OK raising these kids without Keith.

Again, praise God and hallelujah!

Not that I think I am going to mess them up; and not that I think it’s really all up to me.  I just water those seeds in that sweet little soul and pray…and pray…and pray for God to bring the increase.  And He does.

And then my thoughts turn to Keith.  I want to tell him…that I’m carrying on…that we are progressing as a family…that we are moving forward with our lives here on earth.

I want him to be proud of me and the job I’m doing.  I would give anything to see that smile and the love in his eyes.

These are his kids, too.  I want to raise them to be the men of God we dreamed they would be.  That desire has only increased since Keith’s death.  I want my sons to be in the image of their earthly father, who had his eyes always on his Heavenly Father.  That is the best legacy that I can give them.

I have a quote that hangs on my wall that says the following (I’m afraid I cannot find the source):

Motherhood
It will be overwhelming.
It will be difficult.
 It will bring you to the end of yourself.
And at the end, you will find Him.
Mothering kids is hard…very hard.  Single mothering can be an extreme challenge, one that I often feel absolutely unable to complete.
But the good news is that I do not do this alone, even with Keith on the other side of the divider between here and Heaven.
And God’s grace is sufficient to cover me at my weakest, my most ineffective, my most sinful, my most foolish, my most selfish.
Praise God for His provision! But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

In the Pink

This morning I got up extra early to work on getting our day together.  I knew we had a lot on our plate:

  • hair cuts
  • Christmas crafts for relatives
  • Christmas cards
  • Christmas baking
  • youth band practice

Not to mention:

  • house cleaning for our weekend company
  • homeschooling
  • the 5-6 loads of laundry (I have lost count) that are on my bed to fold

Too much for one day!  I hurriedly complete my Bible study (sorry, Beth) and start on the planning of this hairy day.  The Amy Grant song I Need A Silent Night ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRSSsNbF29I) is running through my mind.

I endeavor to persevere.  I plan the day down to the moments and get ready for the boys to get up so we can hit the ground running.

Then…

Jackson gets up and comes down…he’s got pink eye.

Ugh.

Now, this was not entirely unexpected.  I had started my day Tuesday with a run to the doc-in-the-box around the corner from the house with Tanner..  Since then, we have been washing hands furiously and peeking at everyone’s eyelids.

I thought we had dodged the bullet this time, and that Tanner was going to be the only one down with it.  Nope.

Next, checked Alex’s eyelids…pink eye starting there, too.  Matthew…same scenario.

Obviously my carefully planned schedule is out the window.  Regroup, regroup…

And someone (Someone?) has just turned up the volume of Amy Grant in my ear…

I’ve done it again, haven’t I, Lord?

Single parenthood is never easy, but especially not if you try to be Supermom, creating the best. Christmas. ever.

I know better than this!  Really, I do!

Yet it happens again and again that I get myself too deeply planned, too tightly stretched…

Not good for anyone.

And that is when God steps in…and gives me a time out…this time in the form of pink eye.

Instead of the crazy rushing around, my day now involves movies and jammies and an afternoon nap…and maybe some of those Christmas crafts and that laundry to fold.

Sorry, Lord, for doing it again…and again…and again.

Thanks, Lord, for loving me enough to get me out of my stress-mess via a time out.

Now I have to check my own eyelids…praying that other shoe does not fall.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your waysand My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Up In Flames

Last week, while visiting my folks, my dad and I took a ride in the golf cart.

First, we smelled a funny, plastic-y kind of smell.  “What’s that smell, Dad?”

“Not sure.”  He keeps driving the golf cart, telling me about the houses we are passing.

“The smell is not going away, Dad…”

He keeps driving.

“Daddy, there’s smoke!”

Now he stops the golf cart and we get out.

Dad pulls up the seat…and flames come out!

We send a passer-by to the gate house a few hundred feet away for the fire extinguisher.

By the time this gentleman returns, the cart is fully engulfed in flames, and we run to the gatehouse to have them call the fire department.

The fire department comes to put out the blaze, leaving only a charred pile of plastic and a bit of metal that has to be scraped from the road.

Five minutes…just five minutes…and the golf cart lay in ruins.

How equally quickly my attitude can go up in flames!

I can be sailing along, leaving the future to God, not feeling pressure and stress, holding firmly to God’s hand…when out of the blue…

Flames!  Smoke!  Meltdown!

I have to ask myself…why?

My dad’s fire was caused by a battery issue.  Could the cause of mine be the same?

Did I recharge with my daily dose of Godly encouragement through Bible reading and study?  Have I spent enough time on maintenance, seeking from the Lord what about me needs to change?

In those instances of “fire,” the answer is…probably not.

While I am not sure whether my dad’s golf cart fire could be prevented, I am pretty sure my “fire” could have been.

I resolve to work harder at the PM (preventative maintenance) to avoid the fires…and their consequences of burning me and others.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

Thanks for the Memories

We sold our first house to friends.  It is in the neighborhood over from us.

Today I dropped Matthew off there for a birthday party.

Even after 6 1/2 years, it is still a tiny bit odd to be in the house.

It is not that it is still home — it truly isn’t.  It’s just that it was home.

We brought 2 babies home from the hospital to there.  Three learned to walk there.  We celebrated our 10-year anniversary there.  It is flooded with memories, even though the colors are not the same and the furniture is in different places (just as it should be).

And somehow that makes me…just a little sad.

I drove away and off to run errands…missing Keith.

My memories of there are ALL with him.  We bought the house together and worked on it together.  It was the first either of us owned.

I am a creature of habit, I know I am.  I would make a good blind person, as I never move my furniture.  When I think of repainting, it is not to change the color but to touch up what was already there.

I think that makes my grief just a little harder at times.  I want to fall back and cling to the past.  I fight the rut.

But God loves me enough to kick me in my complacency on a regular basis.  He is there to pick me up after He does, but He does not let me wallow, He does not let me dwell.

My dear friend and fellow widow Theresa puts it in terms of the rear view mirror.  We all have one in our cars because it is important to know what is going on behind you.  We have to be able to move from in front of the fire engine or know when to stop for the police car.  But we cannot spend too much time looking behind.  If we do, we will inevitably get in an accident.  The focus of our lives has to be in front — where we are going, not where we have been.

I finished my errands and headed back home — the dream house we built a year and a half before Keith died.  More good memories.  But not all these memories involve Keith.  I have lived twice as long in this house without him as I lived with him.

Oh, the evidence of him is still all around.  The man painted 17 — yes, 17 — colors of paint here for me.  We still refer to “Daddy’s closet” and “Dad’s dresser.”  But there are things here he never did see — including one currently-barking dog, and another currently-whining dog.

But somehow, after all the living here, the memories with and without Keith all have a place and are…just right.  We miss him here, but feel close to him here as well.

I’ll tell you a secret.  The day we closed on this house, my big, strong, Marine husband cried.  He felt so blessed by God to have this home, and so thankful to my mom for providing for us even after her death so that we could.

I am still blessed – to live here, to have been provided for equally well in death by Keith, to be able to continue to homeschool my boys…to live among the memories, and to have the freedom to create new ones.

I guess the suddenness of the onslaught of memories got me at the old house, and I started looking a little too much into my rear view mirror.  Now, I am back on track, glancing in it periodically, but firmly looking forward as I travel forward in my life…blessed…so, so blessed.

You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.Psalm 139:5-6