September 28, 2016

Of Colds, Grief, Being a Baby, and Finding the JOY in the Hard

Are you all tired of my late-night, grief-filled ramblings, yet? If so, sorry. You may have to find a different blog to follow. If you aren't, good, because I have no idea when these kinds of ramblings will stop. Mainly because I feel like the grief won't stop. Change, yes. Stop, I am not so sure. Some days I want it gone completely, some days I know I need the reminder it brings that life is short and eternity matters.

I have not been feeling well today. Just the early signs of a light cold, but annoying nonetheless. Sore throat. Sneezing. Stuffy nose. Nothing major, but I am a huge baby when I don't feel well. Even when I just barely don't feel well. That's where Kevin always balanced me out. When I didn't feel well he jumped right in and got everything done so I could be a baby and have the day off. Even when he wasn't feeling well. Even on days when he struggled to function. If I wasn't at 100% he sucked it up and filled in for me. I missed that today. I missed his helping hands. I missed his sweet, tender voice. I missed him making me lunch. I missed him getting the kids started on school so I could sleep a little longer. I just missed him.

I lost it this morning while trying to straighten my hair (in an attempt to make myself look better than I felt and trick my mind into thinking I felt better than I really did). Randomly I started thinking about one of the improv games we played at this year's Valentine's Banquet. Then it dawned on me that our last Valentine's Day we celebrated 15 years together. 15. And that's it. There won't be another one. We started dating on Valentine's Day 2001. He was a freshman and I was a senior. I knew from that day forward only death would separate us. I just thought it would take longer. That we'd have more time. That we would grow old together. That he'd be here to help me celebrate turning 40. That I'd get to see him turn 50. I never dreamed 15 Valentine's Days would be all we would get.

I almost lost it again on the way home from getting my car looked at this morning. I passed some random street sign (I can't even remember what it was) and was just hit with the thought, "He's gone. He's really gone. We won't be seeing him again here." It's not like that was new information, but sometimes it still just seems like he's off on business or will be back later in the day. Every now and then that thought hits and brings me to my knees almost every time. Will that ever stop?

So many times I want to wallow. I want to whine and complain about how hard life has become. I have to take out my own trash. I have to get things fixed. I have to check things and install things. I can't just go do what I want because there's no one here to watch the kids. And then I remember how completely stupid that whining and complaining is. There are so many awesome single parents out there who have to do all those same things. Who have to miss so many things for the same reason. There are a lot of married moms and dads out there that have to do these things on their own because their spouse works odd hours, just isn't present, or has health issues that keep them from helping. Many loving, wise people have reminded me to give myself grace. I know they are right, but I just don't want to need grace. I want to be that super mom that I think everyone else is all the time. I want to be fine. I want to be adjusted and amazing and full-force all the time. I don't want to be tired and weepy and whiny. I don't want to burst into tears at weird times for no reason. I don't want to be THAT girl.

Thanks to awesome friends who speak truth in love and pour tons of grace on me, I am slowly learning to breathe and look for the JOY in the hard. The grace in the grey. The inch of daylight underneath the door. I came home tonight from a beautiful night of serving precious children, doing a service project with my kids, fun with our church drama team, and beautiful worship with our praise team, yet all I wanted to do was sit and cry because I am tired, don't feel well, and life just isn't fair. I immediately heard precious Megan's* voice telling me to look for the JOY. So here it is, the JOY that I am finding in the midst of this hard night:

*I love acting and get to do it each week with some wonderful, fun people who love Jesus.
*My little boy still loves to have me curl up beside him and watch a movie or pray at bedtime.
*My little girl is always there to share a funny story or give me a hug when she sees I am upset.
*My church family is awesome and is loving me by taking turns taking my kiddos once a week. If having time alone is a love language, it ranks right at the top for me.
*Homeschooling allows us so much flexibility in our days. We got a ton done today, yet we were still able to take it easy, get the car in for an estimate, and grab Chinese food after studying China in history. (I think fried rice and egg drop soup are also two of my top love languages.)
*I get to worship with some of the most talented instrumentalists and singers every week. I am by far the weakest link and they let me come back each Wednesday. Can you say blessed?
*I ran four miles this week. All on my own.
*I have some of the best examples of prayer warriors, servants, wise counselors, and parents surrounding me, both here in town and around the world.
*I have an amazing family. They love my quirks. They are patient with my crazy. They are here at the drop of a hat.
*God has provided a job, even if it's temporary, that is perfect for me in every way for this season of life.
*God has graciously allowed me to begin thinking of empty nest life with some excitement and fun as I think of all the things I'll be able to do once the kids are out of the house. Tiny house on wheels, anyone? (Is it bad that I am praying the Lord brings be a full-time job I can do from anywhere so I can spend my time traveling to all my missionary friends and serving them for weeks or months at a time?)
*The Lord has given me beautiful examples of those who are in deep grief, yet continue to trust in and serve God despite their circumstance. Their lives are beautiful examples of what I want my life to look like, sooner rather than later.
*God keeps giving Ethan one more day to accept His free gift of salvation.
*I have friends who love me like family and let me vent and scream and cry and never make me think twice before I say anything to them. Everyone needs friends like them. One day I might be willing to share.
*God's beautiful gift of music.

Father, keep opening my eyes to see the light. Keep opening my eyes to see the JOY in even the hard days. Lord, remind me that You alone are my strength. When I think I can't go on, grab my face and turn my eyes toward You.

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