Flowers and Candy

For those of you who saw my last post, I had been more distant from the Lover of my soul than I had wanted.

I had the opportunity on Sunday to tell some people how much they have meant to me and my family, something as a people I don’t think we do enough of.  I shared how they had blessed us and I think that blessed them as well.

Then my Lover sent flowers and candy to my soul.  My connection with Him deepened in just that moment.  I felt His presence to the point of tears.

Funny how often the fix for me is to look outside myself and do something for someone else!

Here is the prayer that winged its way from my heart onto the page at that moment:

Gracious and awesome Lord – I am humbled by Your love and care for me and my byos.  It brings me to my knees emotionally to think of what good care You take of us.  Even though today, especially, I miss Keith more than ever, I wouldn’t change my life, where we have gone, where we are going, for amything because You are there, there, there!  I can’t imgine my life not being as it is now.  I glory in serving You, in being Your instrument to allow others to step up and help us and therefore bless us and further Your kingdom.  Help me to never, never forget that — or my boys to forget that.  I love You!  Help me to live for You always, always, always! 

The Fleece I Didn’t Know I Needed

Sometimes I have put down fleeces.  I think God honors my efforts in the fleece if I put them down with a sincere heart, desiring to be in His will.

Sometimes He gives me the fleece I did not know I needed.

We have had a couple hard weeks here.  Raising a teenage boy is a daunting practice at best.  My oldest and I have been squabbling more lately as he tests his wings and boundaries, trying to negotiate this journey to manhood without the benefit of his dad’s direction.  I was a bit discouraged when I arrived at church.  I sought the counsel of a couple male friends, but God was already working.

We have had a group of men visiting our church who have been in town for a few weeks for a training course.  Being the perpetual greeter-of-all-who-enter at church, I met them the first week they arrived and struck up a conversation.  Their first Sunday was the day the Giants played the Packers in the playoffs.  I remember specifically because Alex was “representing” (huge Giants fan) and the guys had already scoped him out for ribbing (one of them was a huge Packers fan and wanted to”belt” him–victory dance thing–guys will get it).  When they found out he was my son, they asked if they could tease him, and like any good mom I said, “Go right ahead!”

This began a relationship between my son and these men.  Being the kid he is, he has gone over every week to talk to them, tease with them, gloat over the Giants victories (good year for that), and just check in.

On Sunday, not long after I had been commiserating about the hard week, the guys came in and told me they had brought new guys with them.  I did not meet them then, but I did a few minutes later in the service.  I was introduced to “B.”  I shook hands with him and worked my way down the line of guys.  When I got to the end of the line, one of the guys, Dan, asked me if I had met “B.”  I told him I had.  He asked me if I knew who he was.  I said I did not.  Much to my surprise, Dan said he was a former NFL center!  Then Dan told me that they had made sure to get Alex over to meet “B.”  Later I found out that “B” did not want his identity known, but did want to make sure that he met my son, and so these guys made sure that it happened.  Without my involvement or prompting, they acted.

Cool story in that Alex got to shake the hand of a former NFL player!  Even cooler that God has used these men, just here for a few weeks, to speak into my son’s life, to give him man stuff that I could not give him.

The fleece I did not ask for, but desperately needed!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 
— Luke 12:6-7

I Muffed It

I muffed it.  Please don’t tell me I didn’t because I did.  And now I have to deal with that.

I was singing for dear friends as they renewed their vows.  And I forgot the words.  Not emotion, not nervousness.  I muffed it.

Then I came off the stage and my teenager decided that was the time for some “constructive” criticism.

My first thought was, “I miss Keith.”  Weddings are hard enough, but without my biggest fan there when I sing, it almost seems more trouble than it’s worth.

Perhaps if Keith was here, it would not have happened the way it did.  If he was still here, I would not be in this over-committed position.  He was so good at knowing my limits, and he was good at telling me, in a loving way, when I had reached them.  He caught me most of the time before I was over-committed and stressed and muffed things.  That is one of the things I miss most.

It is harder to hear from God.  It is harder to have my ears attuned to the Heavenly voice of my Father and the Lover of my soul.  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  I take back my life, feeling like I am in control and in charge and can handle adding one more thing.  I feel like Super-Woman!

Then I fail.  I feel like dirt on the back of a flea.  I don’t forgive myself easily.

Why is it that forgiving yourself is so hard?  Why do I hold myself to standards that even the Lord does not hold me to?  He knows I am not perfect.  He knows that I will continue to sin, continue to be human.  He made me that way.

Why?  Why did He make me so frail, so prone to fail?  So prone to overstep, over-commit?

One of my favorite lines in the movie “Facing the Giants” (http://www.facingthegiants.com/home) comes from the young kicker, David, who asks why God made him so small and weak.  His father answers that then He can show how mighty He is.  Maybe that is why.

Maybe it is to keep me humble and close to Him.

Maybe it is to give me a gentle nudge, since Keith is not here, that it is time to slow down, that I have taken on too much.

Maybe it is to show me just how much He loves me.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.  Again I will build you so that you will be rebuilt, Virgin Israel. You will take up your tambourines again and go out in joyful dancing.-Jeremiah 31:3b-4

I am not Amazing

It’s funny.  Since Keith died, I get the comments, “you’re amazing” and “you are so strong” a lot.  It is very sweet of people to say, but inwardly I cannot help but snort.  I am far from amazing, and, some days, I am the antithesis of strong.

Some days, more than I would like to count, my life, my attitude, is much less than amazing.  Some days I scream in frustration at the mess in the house, and the children in my house who made it.  Some days I cry angry tears of over spilled milk and broken light fixtures.  Some days school contains more words spoken in an angry tone than in an uplifting one.  Some days I want to just retreat, curl up in a ball and wait for the day to be over.  That’s reality.

I am not amazing.  I am human.  Sometimes much too much so!  If I have done anything right in this whole journey of grief, if I have any advice to give, it is this:  let God be God.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) may seem trite to some…until you try living that way.

  • Dressing your four young sons for their daddy’s funeral…I can do all things…
  • Continuing to homeschool with no break and no “principal”…I can do all things…
  • Celebrating birthdays and holidays and milestones…I can do all things…
  • Teaching young men to be men of God in the image of their dad and their Father...I can do all things…
I could go on, but the point is this:  I do nothing here, nothing, but surrender.  God has a plan and a purpose and, really, I am along for the ride.  And it will be a wonderful and beautiful and joyous ride as long as I don’t try to take over the driving on my own.  Instead, I wait for directions.  I pray and I pray, and I often fail and make a total mess of things, taking them back from God and trying to do them on my own.  But, I keep trying, and God keeps being gracious.  Praise Him for that.  Hallelujah!
So, my standard answer when someone says I am strong or amazing:  “No, I’m not, but God is!

Going on a Joy Hunt

Some days are hard.  Yesterday, I missed the feel of Keith’s arms around me.  Maybe it was because I have had a lingering cold that has sapped some of my energy and some of my emotional buoyancy.  Maybe it was because his name came up several times in conversation this week as I shared part of our story with new friends.  Maybe it was because it was another Friday night–alone.

I went to bed early, choosing my mini pity-party over anything productive.

I awoke this morning feeling a bit better after a longer night’s sleep, but not back to normal.

Time for a joy hunt!

A devotion I am doing (www.walkingwithgod.com) has me writing down scripture and analyzing it–and asks me to name a blessing from the day before.  No room for requests; just a blessing.

Expanding this concept, I decided to go on a joy hunt.  In less than a minute, here are the things I found to be joyful about:  my kids; my warm, comfortable home; my bank account having a positive balance; my boatload of friends all over the country; my loving family; my country; my church; my dogs; my health.  (free association here, not listed in order of importance)

When I was in college, we had a prayer circle going, thanking God for things in our lives.  A young man I did not know well stated each time he spoke the same words:  “thank God for milk.”  Now, I don’t know if he was a huge milk fan or if there was some deeper significance behind his praise of milk, but it made an impact on me.  Though this happened 20 years ago, I still remember it.  Seemingly simple things, but worthy of thanks to Him who created them.  The essence of a child-like faith expressed!

I could continue my joy hunt to that level of detail and probably fill pages and pages in my journal, but I think I will stop here.  I am feeling better–realizing I am blessed beyond measure.  Pity party over.

Feeling low?  Go on your own joy hunt!

Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. 
Psalm 30:5B, New American Standard Bible