February 14, 2017

Of Days of Love, Days of Hard, Days of New, and Life That Never Seems to Stop

I am tired. Like, almost fell asleep reading a book to the kids tonight tired. Like, it was a long, hard, beautiful, emotion-filled, "You make me brave" kind of day that leads to exhaustion. It feels like all of the big moments and big anniversaries; this past Friday was 11 months since Kevin passed away, today was Valentine's day (the 16th anniversary of our first date), Saturday I'll be doing my first interview sharing about life with an addict and what that really means, and next Monday I'll be doing an interview for a church talking about addiction and the church and just being real with the pain and the grace. Then just about two weeks after that we'll be celebrating the one year anniversary of Kevin's Perfect Healing Day. I am tired and emotional just thinking about it!

But, I am also grateful. Grateful to be seeing redemption from Kevin's pain and our hard story. Grateful to see God's hand leading and guiding in ways I never would have imagined. Grateful that the Lord showed me Kevin's own words to describe what life is like when you're the one trapped in addiction to share with the rest of us who just don't get it. Grateful to watch my kids step up and be comforters to those they see around them in pain or sadness. Grateful for the eyes to see the many ways the Lord was preparing me and the kids for this hard life long before we ever knew this hard path would come our way and become our life. Grateful for a heart that is more compassionate, more concerned, and more focused. Grateful for a prayer life that has been deepened and how much more alive His word is to me. Grateful for the ways I've seen He's made me more dependent on Him while at the same time making me more brave and strong through Him than I ever thought possible.

I am thankful for these two doors the Lord has opened and is allowing me to walk through, yet nervous at the same time. I don't know that I have the words to say when they actually have to come out of my mouth instead of just words on the page. I have so few answers for anything or anyone. Addiction sucks and makes no sense. Those dealing with it need Jesus and help for the rest of their lives. I have no answers for how my husband, so rooted in the Word and loving and trusting God, could end up an addict. I've questioned it many times. The only answer I have is that we have an enemy out to steal, kill, and destroy all that belongs to God and he's very good at what he does. Christians are not immune to satan's attacks, which is why we must always be in our armor and on our guard. That's all I really have. It still doesn't make sense. But the struggle I saw and heard and read from my husband of trusting God while his brain was still craving that drug was the hardest thing to watch. He was in the word every day the last year of his life. We prayed together every day, pouring out our hearts in tears and desperate cries, begging the Lord to take away this horrible disease. He admitted his wrong choices and begged the Lord's forgiveness for choosing so poorly. Once the Lord removed the scales of addiction from his eyes, he had no desire to continue living in that horrible state, but felt so little control to stop the cravings. It was so hard for him to imagine life without that drug that he was scared to enter rehab. Once he did, and got the medical help he needed, he was petrified the moment they told him they were taking that help away. And he allowed fear to talk him into one more poor choice. I miss him so terribly, but I am so thankful he is no longer struggling like this. Watching that spiritual battle was harder than watching him go through withdrawal. I am so thankful for his salvation and that it's God who upholds His covenant with us and it's not reliant on us and being perfect. I am so thankful that as Kevin took his last breath here he looked into the eyes of His Savior welcoming him home, regardless of the way he died and the poor choices he made. And God answered our prayers, our desperate cries for healing, that day.

Father, fill my mouth with your words over these next few days and in these two interviews. Give me a clear mind as I speak. Give me your Truth and help me to share it clearly. Lord, speak. Lord, move. Lord, begin even now to soften the hearts of those who will see and hear these interviews. Use them to draw many to You and to encourage those who need to seek help to do so. Father, make me brave through Your Spirit and in Your name. Protect my children in this so they can continue to process things in their time.

February 12, 2017

Where are the Words?

We just passed a big milestone: eleven months since Kevin's healing and leaving this earth. We've been here for eleven months without our husband, father, brother, son, and friend. The moment I said goodbye to him in that hospital room I had no idea how in the world we would make it even one day, and here we are, 339 days later, still making it one day at a time.

GOD IS GOOD. I don't think I can say that enough. He is the only reason we are still here. Still moving. Still laughing. Still loving. And yes, even still crying.

I've had a real lack of words lately, for pretty much everything in my life. The last 2 months or so have had a lot of highs and lows and lots of emotions. Doubt about my ability as a mom and teacher have been running rampant. Fears about all kinds of things are threatening to take over my mind. Getting out of bed seems to be getting harder instead of easier. Pretty much every day I lay in bed for a minimum of 30 minutes praying, begging God to give me the motivation to get moving. To get some exercise. To do school well. To love my children as He loves them. And every day, He gets me out of bed. I haven't exercised like I should, but He gives me that motivation on the days I need it most. Honestly, school hasn't been stellar. I am not rocking the homeschool mom thing. I have spent much time questioning the wisdom of continuing, but fearing that even if the Lord told me to send them to school, they'd be so far behind because I've totally sucked it up this year that they'd both have to go back a year. But, each day He gives me just enough energy to get through that day's work. He's been so gracious to show me the days when we all just need to push school aside, sit together and read books, and laugh and cry as we share memories of this man all three of us loved so much. I've lost my temper more times than I should with my kids. They have watched TV/Netflix/Amazon more in the last 11 months than they have in their entire lives before this. I know I have had more failures than successes in the area of loving my children well, but God has even given grace for that, as they continue to lavish their love on me and come running to me in their pain and sadness and joy and laughter.

I have found it hard to express this stage of grief. I know I've said before how uncomfortable I make others. They feel as though they can't share their hurts and pains and worries and hard times because they seem small in comparison to mine. I sort of have the opposite feeling. I see the daily hard and hurt and stress and life that others are living and this pain in our lives seems so small in comparison. Kevin is gone and the memories are fresh and the tears fall, but the hope that we have because we know that, regardless of the poor choices he made at the end of his life, he was a child of God and was welcomed home by his Savior. This is grace. And joy. And hope. And peace. There is pain, but we do not grieve without hope. So many around us do. We've sacrificed nothing to love Christ or make our new life without Kevin. So many around me have sold all of their belongings, left family behind, all to share Christ with those around them. I feel silly in comparison, grieving over a loss that really wasn't a loss, at least to Kevin. My kids are such encouragement to me. They remember Kevin with such fondness. They love to share the funny, silly stories of Daddy. They shed tears, to be sure, but more often than not it's laughter they are bringing to his memories. When I am sad, they rush right in with a hug and a laugh. This pain has truly increased their compassion toward others.

And it's just like God, in the midst of a time when words seem so hard to come by, that the Lord sends two opportunities my way to do just that: share words. My words. Kevin's words. God's words. For the first time I've been asked to share Kevin's story to speak the truth about addiction and the pain that it brings, to the addicted one and to their families, but not from the lens of how God moves anyway. Not from the point of view of searching out the grace and declaring that above all else. It feels weird. It feels hard. I don't even know if the words for sharing the story this way are in me. Except that I know God opened this door and I am supposed to walk through it, so I have to trust that He'll also give me the words.

God also opened the door for me to share with another church the journey we lived so that we can have an open, honest, gut-wrenching talk about addiction within the walls of the church. Again, I am not sure that I have the words. I don't have a bunch of theology to go with it. Is it sin or is it falling for the enemy's lies or some odd, overwhelming mixture of the two? I really don't know. There is definitely sin in parts of the story, but there's definitely an uncontrolled change, lies that convince the addict they must have the drug to live, and a true disease that needs help in order to overcome it. Where does that conversation leave the church and addicts? I have no idea, but I know the Lord opened this door and I know the gentleman that will be doing the interview genuinely and lovingly desires help and healing for addicts, desires for those in the church suffering from addiction to feel the freedom to overcome the shame associated with it in order to step up and get the help they need, and to see many come to Christ, regardless of their past. The Lord opened the door and asked me to walk through it, so I must trust that He'll give me the words.

Lord, I need You. Oh, Father, how I need You! Every day. Every hour. Give me energy. Give me creativity. Give all three of us a love for Your Word. Give us a love for learning. Give us eyes to see how each lesson we do in school points us to You and equips us to better share You with those around us. Lord, bless each of these opportunities You've given me to share this story You've given us. Fill my mouth with Your words and draw many to You through this hard journey we've been on the last year. Redeem our tears. Redeem the pain. Bring glory to Yourself in each interview, each re-telling of this pain, each memory of our beloved daddy and husband.