June 09, 2016

Three Months

June 10, 2016 marks three months since my precious Kevin took his last breath here on earth. (Though I'll be honest, it's possible it was sooner. I found him about 4:30 a.m. and I am confident he was already gone when I found him.) Three months.

It seems so long ago and and yet just like yesterday at the same time. I honestly didn't think I would last a day without him as I stood by his side in that hospital room and held his hand for the last time. It felt like I'd never be able to take another breath, let alone another step. There are still times I just sit in bed and cry. Cry because I miss him. Cry because life seems somehow less without him. Cry because life is harder without him. Cry because of the loss my children have suffered. Cry because of all my children will have to do without a daddy. Cry because I am angry. Cry because I am sad. Cry because I don't know what else to do. Cry because other people get to grow old with the love of their lives and it's just not fair that I don't. Cry because I feel awkward around other couples because I have no other half. Cry because there will be no daddy there to give my little girl away on her wedding day. Cry because there's no one here to daily teach Ethan how to be a man and father who loves and honors God. Cry because I want to dig deeply into the Word and I just can't focus long enough to do that. Cry because I miss the deep prayer life I had before he passed away. Cry because I fear my kids will never be saved. Cry because figuring out this single parent thing is just hard. Cry because I don't feel well but he's not here to comfort me or take care of the kids. Cry because the kids have had more screen time in the last three months than in the entire last year. Cry because I feel like I am so desperately failing my kids. Cry because the closet is empty. Cry because we don't need an office anymore. Cry because there are too many cables and cords in this house. Cry because I am still afraid of Heaven. Cry because my marriage to Kevin is over. Cry because, sometimes, crying just feels good.

When I look at pictures of Kevin, especially before addiction grabbed hold of him, everything feels so surreal. It feels like he's just gone on a business trip and he'll be back in a day or two. I miss the smile he had in those pictures. The JOY in his eyes in those pictures. It's been so long since I've seen that smile or that JOY in him. Addiction stole all of that. And that makes me so angry.

BUT GOD has promised that He will never leave or forsake me. BUT GOD has promised that He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who sees and provides. BUT GOD has promised that in Him, I can do all things. BUT GOD has promised that He loves my children more than my mind can fathom. He desires relationship with them even more than I desire that for them. BUT GOD promises that He is always faithful and true. I can trust Him in all things. BUT GOD has promised that no grave can hold what His grace has justified (lyrics from Lauren Daigle's The Power to Redeem.) This means that Kevin is healed, whole, JOYful, and sitting at the feet of His Savior offering the sweetest worship he's ever offered. No pain, No sadness. No fear. No guilt. No addiction. It means that Kevin's life didn't really start until he took his last breath here and opened his eyes in Heaven. BUT GOD will carry us through every hard day, every hard moment, and will catch every tear. He sees each hurt, angry moment, lonely moment, sad moment, and meets me where I am. Testimonies take time. Prayer works. God saves with His mighty right hand. He is hosanna. There is always a reason for eucharisteo.

Father, draw me to You every time I feel overwhelmed with fear, sadness, or doubt. Draw me to Your word every time I fear for the salvation of my children. Lord, fill me mind with the scriptures I've committed to memory just when I need them. Adopt my children. Give them a new heart and make them new creations. Fill them with Your Holy Spirit and enable them to pour their lives out loving You and loving others.

June 07, 2016

A Gift of Grace in the Form of a Late Night Revelation

I should be going to sleep right now. I don't feel well and I don't have time to be sick. But God just hit me with such a much needed revelation that I had to share.

Last night my son was not feeling well. He spent the entire time at VBS laying on the couch in the coffee house. When we got home he didn't even change clothes, he just laid down, wanting to sleep. This is extremely rare for Ethan so I knew he wasn't faking it. So, I wrapped him up in my arms (after a dose of children's Tylenol for the slight fever) and began to pray for him. I started to pray that God would heal him. Then I just stopped. Can I be honest here? Like ugly, mom fail, Christian fail honest here? I couldn't do it. I could not pray and ask God to heal Ethan because I asked God to heal Kevin and that healing took him from this earth. Ethan isn't ready to leave this earth. I couldn't speak the words. I couldn't think of anything to pray so I just sat there a moment. I don't even know how I finished the prayer, but I rushed from the room as fast as I could so I could sit in my room and cry in shame. Here I am, trying to teach my kids that God is faithful, trustworthy, our healer, protector, and provider; that He is sovereign and His plans are always good, but I couldn't trust him with this request. I couldn't ask for healing because I know, firsthand, that sometimes that healing comes in ways that leave others in pain and grief.

I almost admitted this to some sweet ladies at lunch today, but pride and shame kept me from saying anything. I didn't want them to know about my lack of faith and trust in God's plan, whatever it may be. I didn't want them to know I had a weak moment and was still shaken by it and unable to ask for healing.

Then I came home from church feeling like crap. There's really no other word to use. Achy, sore, headache, and a sore throat. Again, I just couldn't ask for healing. I know that I am ready to face Christ, but I'm not ready to leave my children (I also need to work on training myself to think with an eternal perspective, not an earthly one. So much work to do!) I was replaying last night in my mind when the thought came to me, just as the tears were pouring down, "You do know that, because Ethan isn't saved and if he died he would be in hell, that death for him isn't healing, right? Because of his spiritual state God would not be granting healing if He took Ethan from this earth right now. So pray for healing. Trust Him. He loves Ethan. He desires salvation for Ethan. He desires healing for Ethan. Hell is never healing." I cannot tell you the peace that flooded me when that thought came. I can pray for healing for my kids. I can trust that, even if God takes me from this earth while my children are young, He still loves them, still desires salvation for them, and will still pursue them fiercely. (Though I am still terrified at the thought of my kids spending eternity in hell and I pray fervently every day for their salvation.)

Father, teach me to trust my children to You. Teach me to trust every aspect of their lives to You. Teach me to trust their salvation to You. Teach me to trust their healing to You. Teach me to trust their eternity to You. Teach me to live faith and trust and hope and grace and mercy and love in front of them every day so they see You in all I do.

A Hard Week and Hard Milestones

This last week has been hard, to say the least and put it mildly. BUT GOD has been working at all times. My brain is still a bit like mush (a combination of grief and VBS!) Here are a few things that have happened, been going on, and/or God has been up to in my crazy life since last I wrote:

A dear friend lost her sister. This was rough. It's the first loss I've been close to since Kevin passed away. A million familiar feelings and thoughts whizzed through my mind. Some moments it was hard to keep my tears for my own situation at bay. BUT GOD truly blessed me with the opportunity to be a #tablesitter for a woman who was a #tablesitter for me at the most inconvenient time for her and her family. For at least four days she sat at my table and comforted me, made me laugh, let me cry, let me stare into space, and wrote thank you cards for me. She even let us hold and love on her beautiful infant daughter, which brought much joy and healing. She did all this, leaving us only to go home to sleep before coming back again the next day, when she really needed to be packing to move her family to a new continent to begin their work as missionaries. There were hard moments around her table, BUT GOD made those healing moments as He allowed me to stop thinking of and doing things only for myself, but allowed me to stand in the gap for and with others. I didn't really have any words and just sat there most of the time without saying anything, but it was a JOY and healing to write thank you notes, just as she did for me. Don't get me wrong, I am praying for #nomoretables, but it was peace and JOY and love and healing sitting there. I even met some new people who have been just where I've been and could give me some wise words in my healing process because they have walked this road before me.

We pulled our first tooth without Kevin. This seems like a silly milestone to write about. It feels a little silly to write it. But this was a big deal, for both me and Ethan. I am so proud of the way he just marched right into the bathroom, grabbed the dental floss, and worked at that tooth just like Kevin would have. He was so brave. And I know that was really painful. Mainly because the tooth didn't come out until two days later! The big smile on his face when that tooth came out was priceless. And God used that tiny, silly little moment to show me that we can do this. We can do this because God is with us and for us, in the big and little.  

We made our first trip to the city pool without the possibility of Kevin showing up to surprise us. We've spent A LOT of time at the city pool the last 7 summers. Kevin didn't always get to go with us, but he sure loved to surprise us every now and then by just taking the afternoon off and just showing up to play. The kids loved it when he did that! It would make their day every time. I loved watching their faces light up and how hard they had to work not to run right out of the fence to hug him as soon as they saw him. I will miss that. It was always one of the best parts of the summer. BUT GOD will give us fun, new moments each time we visit. Of this I am sure. It will be hard, at times, to press on to make those new memories, but I will lean on Christ and we will forge ahead and make new memories every day.  

Sophie invited a stranger to VBS for the first time ever. Sophie spent some time playing with a little girl we didn't know at the pool today and she invited her to VBS at our church. I am so proud of her! She is a lot like her mother and this sort of thing is WAAAAAAY beyond her comfort zone. She's never done anything like this before, which made me even more proud of her. She was a little bummed that she felt the girl was a little annoyed that she asked her to go, BUT GOD let that be a teaching moment for her. I was able to tell her that all she could do was be obedient to tell her about VBS, but it was up to the girl what she did with that. It's just like saying yes to accepting God's free gift of salvation; I have to be obedient to teach my two precious kiddos all I can about God and His word, but it's up to them to decide whether or not they will submit to God and be saved. It was a lesson we both needed.

I am planning and packing for our first family vacation as a family of three. I was not prepared for the emotions that would accompany this. I cannot even wrap my brain around it. Kevin always booked hotels and got us amazing deals on various things. Even thinking about doing that gives me a headache. I do not have the patience it takes to sit and look through listings and call and talk to people, etc. I am praying God will lead and guide as I look and that He will remove the stress so we can all just enjoy the time away, visiting a new place, and just being together in a different environment.

I got a tattoo. Kevin and I had been talking about getting tattoos. As soon as he decided what he wanted, we were going to go together to get them. So, I went with some friends and got what I had decided almost a year ago I wanted. Two little words on my right wrist. "Hosanna" because it used to be a desperate plea for God to send salvation (like you would cry in hopes that the lifeguard would come if you were drowning), but has come to be a a victorious shout because salvation has come (like you would shout as you see and know the lifeguard is on the way). I often need the reminder that salvation has come. He is here. He is with us. I don't have to wait or beg or hope He'll show up. He.is.here. It's on my right wrist because many times in the Bible God talks about saving with His mighty right arm. The other word is "eucharisteo". This word is used in scripture in the account of the Last Supper. As Jesus takes the bread and the cup he gives thanks. Eucharisteo. Thanks. In the midst of the hard. One of the hardest moments of His life. He was breaking bread as a symbol of His body being broken for our salvation, yet He still gave thanks. I often need the reminder to give thanks, regardless of the situation or circumstance. I need the reminder that there's always, always, always a reason to be thankful. That's also why it's written on my wall.  

Father, there are a lot more firsts coming up in the next year. Some will be harder than others. Some will carry happier memories than others. We need You to help us through each one of them. Show us the grace in each moment. Show us Your hand in every hurt and hard circumstance. Lord, use each one of these firsts to reveal more of Yourself to my children, drawing them to salvation. Take this hurt, this hard, this grief and use every moment of it for Your glory. In my life. In Sophie's life. In Ethan's life. Teach us to trust You. To rest in You. Make each of us more like You everyday.