Ten years ago today, Keith journeyed on ahead of me to our Heavenly Home.

A millennia and a moment–all at the same time.

I don’t expect most of you to understand it all – I am THANKFUL you do not.  I would not wish this journey on my worst enemy…

…Yet I would not trade it for all the world.

In the beginning, especially because my guys were so little, I had LOTS of needs.  Running a household by yourself is hard – especially as a homeschooling momma.

Today, as I remember, I still have a list of needs…but maybe not what you would think:

  • I need you to remember Keith for the awesome man of God that he was…loving husband, devoted father, caring friend, hard worker…I would call him a man after God’s own heart, but he would be highly embarrassed at that.
  • I need you to look at my kids and smile when you see something of their dad…I see so much of him in them!
  • I need you to hold tightly to your loved ones, appreciating every single moment with them as the gift from God that it is.
  • I need you to not take your marriage for granted…not ever…since you don’t know when you might be walking this world alone.
  • And…I need you to praise God with me for where I am now, who I am now.  By God’s great grace and perfect plan, our family is here in this place, in this time and space…and I am thankful!

I am better for having loved Keith–and better for having lost him.  How that happened is a mystery, even to me.

But it is truth…take-it-to-the-bank truth!

And in that, my sweet friends, I can rest…a decade later.  Glory!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB

 

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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

Showing It

This week, one of our teen bands led worship.  In that band is my 14-year old son.

We have a lot of musical talent for a fairly small church, especially in our youth.  They always do a phenomenal job, and it gladdens my heart to see them unreservedly serving their Lord in this way.

But the thing that touched me the most this morning was watching my son’s face as he worshiped his Lord even as he played to lead us in worship.

He was singing to his King.  I was crying in the seats.

His face shone with joy as a child of the King.  Beyond his musical talent (which still floors me), his worship was an expression of how much he has learned and is learning to trust the Lord.

For this momma, that is the best thing I can ever see.

I gotta be honest…I have wondered how this widow-walk would affect my boys.  Would they see Him as the Giver of Life or as The One Who Took Daddy?  Would they get that there are plans we can know nothing of here, may never know anything of, even in Heaven?  Or would they turn their backs on the Lord?

They were so young when Keith died!  My oldest, the one acting as one of the lead worshipers today, was not quite 9!

But God, in His infinite mercy, great wisdom, and unlimited caring for us as a family, has shown Himself to be worthy of our praise.  So many prayers answers even as they were barely words on our lips!  So many men ready to jump in and help teach them to be the men of God that Keith and I always dreamed they would be!

As I watched my son through the tears, I was again reminded that God’s got it.  My boys are all learning to love the Lord, and they want to serve Him.  They are all growing in Him each and every day.

They get it that God is God, even on the hard days, the sad days, the bad days.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

And that allows me to raise my arms and my heart in praise as well, worshiping right there with my son.

Amen and amen.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
   come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
   It is He who made us, and we are His;
 
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
– Psalm 100:1-3

Of MRIs and Blessings

Yesterday I had the opportunity–and blessing–to help a fellow widow.  I sat with her pretty little daughter while she had an MRI on her knee (poor thing).

When the nurse brought her back out, she asked my dear friend Friday if she needed help getting back out to the car.

Friday said, “No, my friend is here with my daughter.”

It warmed my heart.

First of all, I was that widow with young ones who needed this sort of help not that long ago.  I needed people to stay with the boys for the doctors’ appointments, the social events, and the Christmas shopping.  I had so many people bless me, and it was a privilege to serve another as I had been served.

I also couldn’t help but be blessed that we are friends in the first place.

We probably would not have met this side of Heaven, had we not both been on this journey in life.

We call our widows/widowers ministry Travelers on a Different Journey.  It is not a journey we would have volunteered for, by any means.

But God, in His infinite wisdom and supreme grace, has allowed us to journey this path together.

It means more than I can tell you to have so many friends who “get it.”

Don’t get me wrong…all of my friends have been wonderfully supportive over the past nearly-five years.  And they have walked this strange, long, twisting journey with me, involving themselves in my pain.

But I am not always sure they get my joy.

Sometimes I see in their eyes an accounting of the cost of my new joys…things that would not have happened but for the loss of Keith…and they don’t really see how that adds up to joy.

But my Travelers friends do.  Life takes on a new intensity after tragedy, and maybe especially after this tragedy.  Half of me has been ripped away, but yet I continue…not just to survive, but to…thrive.

When I watched Oscar Pistorius run in the Olympics a few weeks ago, I saw joy.  I saw a man taking what life had given him and using that very thing to catapult him forward…quite literally.

I cried, not only because he did well, and that was amazing, but also because of the look on his face.  I could identify with the intensity I saw there…intensity for his running, not as a man with no legs…but as a man with a dream.  He found joy in his journey.

And in this life, I am finding mine.  Moment by moment.  Through trials.  Because of trials.

Praise God!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

I am a Four-Eyed Freak

Now I don’t just have two eyes, Mom…I have FOUR!  I can see even better!

Ah, the perspective of a child!

Matthew had just gotten his first pair of glasses and this momma was worried.  How would he adjust to them?  Would he feel…different?

I needn’t have worried.  He did feel different…and he was…glad.

When I found out we had lost Keith, the first words out of my mouth were, quite literally, “I’m a widow.”

The reality of that did not hit me at that moment.  Well, maybe on some levels.  But not as fully as it later did.

Now, nearly five years later, I can truly tell you that I am…glad.

I know that sounds odd.  How can having your heart ripped out, your life ripped apart, be something that makes you glad?

Ah, my friends, therein lies the mystery of God.

Today a dear friend of mine prayed for me as we were ending a play date…”Lord, help her to feel You as her Husband, first and foremost, above all others, all she needs.”

Mostly I feel that–feel God as my Husband.  Mostly I count my blessings more than my stresses, my joys more than my sorrows.

If you know me, you know me to be a glass-is-half-full kinda gal.

Thank God I am!

But it is a choice, one I have to make on a daily basis, sometimes a minute-by-minute basis.

Like my sweet Matthew, I choose to look at my lot in life as a gift and not a stress, a way to help me see better…

To see my Lord!

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 2:17-18

Smack Between the Eyes

Not everyone is going to do a job the same as everyone else.  I got that reminder big-time this past week.

I was watching someone work.  She does things much differently than I do.  Not incorrectly, but certainly differently.

As I was watching, another friend came up and commented on how he appreciated what she does.

I gotta say it.  Inwardly, I snorted.  Self-righteous little piglet that I am.

Then I got to thinking.

How often on this journey of grief have people snorted at me!

Stop homeschooling – you need more time to yourself!

Not dating yet?

You gotta take care of that right away!

You should…_________!  (fill in the blank)

With prayerful consideration, I am doing things the way I feel I should be.  Well-meaning though others may be, sometimes they cross the line, in my opinion.

I don’t think they mean to hurt me or doubt my abilities…but sometimes that is just how it comes across.

Here comes the 2×4…I have done the same thing.

Shame on me!

Forgive me, Lord, for not trusting that You have given people certain jobs and certain circumstances to have their unique flair put into the work.  Forgive me, Lord, for looking down my nose at them.  Help me extend to them the grace that I expect to be extended to me.

And…forgive me, friend, for doubting you and not accepting your way of doing things.

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-5

Manna to this Momma

God’s got it.  I know that.  He has shown in so many ways, and in so many instances!  I have faith in Him.

But sometimes in my heart of hearts, I wonder how He will work it out.

Today, I got a bit of an answer.

My dear friend Lorie had my little two over to play at her house with her youngest.  They were playing Playmobil and had invented a game with families.  Jackson was the dad, and Lorie started listening.  Did he get it?  Did he understand the dad role?

Praise God, he did!  She said he was the proper mix of kind and strong and firm and loving.  He gets being a dad, even though he was 2 1/2 when his dad died.

Now, I will take very little credit for how he learned the dad role.  I certainly don’t act the part “dad” but stick to “mom.”  It would not be a real representation of dads anyway, nor of moms.

My oldest steps up and acts the dad a bit, being a very loving big brother, especially with the little two.

I think, though, mostly Jackson has seen it modeled around him, and for that I am so grateful.  Men at church have taken all the boys under their wing and modeled Biblical manhood for them.  Neighbors and friends have allowed them to help them build things, fix things, take care of the house.  They have talked endlessly about sports and guns and “guy stuff.”  They are crucial to me surviving as a single mom.

Even in a world where dads are often ridiculed as dumb, unnecessary, or irrelevant (look at most TV dads), the men around us are coming out of their comfort zones and away from their own busy home life to work with my boys.  My guys are getting what they need to be dads themselves some day.  The gap is being filled.

God’s got it, and I don’t have to worry.

And that is certainly manna to this momma’s heart.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.– Ephesians 3:20-21