Thursday, September 29, 2011

40-Day Journey to Begin!

If you’ve been following my blog since prior to my husband’s death in May, then you might recall that I embarked on a 40-day blog writing journey a few times in the past. As difficult as writing 40 consecutive days was at times, it was always a highlight of my days. And each time I took on this challenge, it never failed to prove transformational in my life (just like any instance of 40 in the Bible – always transformational).

I say all that to say…I’m ready to launch another 40-day blogging journey! After enduring those first days following the tragedy of my husband’s suicide in early May, I never thought I’d be at this place again, but I’m ready, and I’d love to have you join me on this journey.

This time around might be a little different, in some respects, because I’m hoping that I can introduce a weekly video blog (or vlog, as it is more commonly known). I still plan to write – as that is my true passion, but I also want you to be able hear my heart as spoken from my voice, at times too – rather than always having to decipher it through my written words. So, bear with me on that one. It might take me a few days to get going on it, but I do hope to make it a weekly addition during this 40-day journey.

I have some other little surprises in store, so I pray that you'll join me on this journey. Blog friends (new and old), you bless me more than you realize. I only pray that I can return the blessing through some of my posts.

So, when am I going to begin this journey? THIS coming Saturday, October 1! I know blog readership is typically low on weekends, but I encourage you to stop by on Saturday when you have a free moment, because I'm beginning this journey with a giveaway! You have blessed me so much in the last 5 months, that I want to return the blessing.

Can't wait to take this journey with you! See you Saturday!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lost Christians

I've been a little "blog quiet" for about a week. Sometimes, when God is working on me most...I have the least to offer. I tend to recede into those spirit-filled oases of His love only to come out hungering and thirsting for more of Him. That's a glimpse of what's been taking place this week.

I found myself, first, in a desert. A very dry desert. Actually, it felt more like quicksand. I could feel I was slipping again...into a "grief abyss". What's toughest about these moments is that I can't come home and share with my best friend, since he's the source of my grief. I know I can always talk to God, and I do. But, sometimes...I need the tangible love of God's children, and I need their prayers immensely. So, I resort to the only thing I know in my darkest hours of Yes. Technology's shout-outs for help. Simply...I sent an email last week to some some special prayer warriors simply saying, "I'm sinking. I need prayers. Thank you." And they prayed. And, I began another ascent out of the pit.

I spent much of the weekend with friends. Sharing. Lots of sharing. And...I ascended more out of the pit.

I spent the last part of the weekend really asking the question of God...what's next? Specifically, what's next in ministry? I've got to know that He has a plan for me to glorify Him through this tragedy. I've got to know that Chris' suicide was not in vain. I've got to know that God still entrusts me to speak...a call I received years ago but only acted upon in recent years. I've just got to know...

I've been praying for ministry opportunities but in God's timing. I'm willing to do whatever He asks me to do whenever He asks me to do it, but I've got to know it's of Him. And so...the question I felt He spoke back to my heart in response to my "what's next?" question of Him...

What are you passionate about?

This one puzzled me. Well, you Lord, of course.

That's not what I'm asking. What drives you to serve Me on earth?

Ahhh. Ok. Now, I'm starting to see. In short, Your sacrificial love for me.

Who else needs to hear this message?

Lost people.

Yes, my daughter, you are correct. Who else needs to hear this message?

Lost Christians.

(I could almost hear Him chuckle at my oxymoron expression.) Tell me more.

Lord, I'm passionate to serve Christians that feel inadequate to serve you and feel ineffective in life, in general, because of their dysfunctional pasts. I'm passionate to show "Lost Christians" - Christians lost in a sea of regret - how you can use them most, because they have the ability to know you best if they would just open up and allow themselves to be delivered of their brokenness and to be healed from past hurts and shattered hearts. I'm passionate to serve these people, because I've been there. And...I know the type of deliverance You bring. And...I'm especially passionate about serving Lost Christians, because as they are reengaged in life...there are more of us equipped to serve in the "harvest field" to seek the lost people that you so long to have in your eternal family. Hurting people hurt people. Delivered people lead people to the Great Deliverer.

Yes, my daughter. I think you know your passion. So, I ask you again...what drives you to serve me on this earth?

Lost people and hurting, broken, "lost" Christians.

You are ready again. Go, and serve. I will open the doors you are to walk through.

And, out of the pit I climb. Dusted off and ready for action.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Like Saying "See Ya Later"

"I'm praying for you."

"We're keeping you in our prayers."

"I said a little prayer for you today."


These are all statements that make me smile...and cringe...all at the same time. Yes. I just said it. Sometimes, having someone say, "I'm praying for you" makes me cringe, because it often means nothing more than a greeting. Like "see ya later" or "catch up with ya soon".

Now, before I go any further, please note...I know that there are some serious prayer warriors out there, and I am personally indebted to each of you that has lifted my name to the throne of God on countless occasions. You have no idea what your prayer love does for my grieving spirit.

But...I am also not that naive to think that everybody that tells me they're praying for me is actually doing it. You know why? Because I used to be that person. How 'bout that for a little guilt-laced transparency?

"Back in the day", it was a simple Christian-ese expression of mine to offer to pray for someone, or to say that I was when someone offered up their heartfelt needs for prayer. It's not that I didn't care. I truly did. intentions to pray were always there. But, I would far too often (not always) forget to follow through on my intentions as I fell back in line with my own selfish desires. That's painful to admit, but true.

However, that was over 8 years ago. And, since that can bet your last dollar that if I tell you I'm praying for you...I'm doing it. Often - I do it right after I'm asked (if I can). It's that important to me. I know how desperately I need the prayers of faithful people carrying me through, so I sure as well intend to be just as faithful when I pray.

People are not only counting on us to do what we say we're doing, often they are begging us too. What if you were the one that had...

a child dying of cancer...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

a spouse that just left you...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

no job and no immediate prospects...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

a family member claiming atheism...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

a marriage on the brink of disaster...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

a home that just burned down with all of your earthly possessions...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

a spouse that just committed suicide...wouldn't you be begging for prayer?

I shudder to think that it takes these kinds of disasters to wake us up out of the complacent places of prayer that so many of us currently live. So, today, I beg you...

Don't tell someone you're praying for them unless you really mean it. Your prayer just might be the only one offered up on their behalf that day, and it might be just the thing that makes their heart sing.

And, please...please...please if this is an area of struggle for you, ask God to show you a glimpse of His hurting children through His eyes. Just a glimpse. I'll fall to your knees. I pray you don't have to experience the same type of suffering to truly understand the desperate cries for prayer and the expectation that people are taking seriously your offer of prayer on their behalf.

It's not just a salutation or a "see ya later" many, it's their last hope. Think about that...your prayer...might be their last hope. You never know the power in that simple act of obedience.

I love you, and I DO pray for my blog friends! :-) Be blessed!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Today...I Am Joyful!

Today…I am joyful. Each day I try to choose joy, but even in the choosing…I don’t often “feel it”. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, nestled into the very cells of my being, but lately I’ve been unable to reach into the depths of me to find it.

Today is different. Today…I am joyful. Today…I am joy-filled. Why? Simply, because…

1. I KNOW I have a Father in Heaven that is closer to me than the air I breathe.

2. I KNOW I am loved by my Abba Father unconditionally.

3. I KNOW God’s plans for me are perfect.

4. I KNOW this world is not my home.

5. I KNOW, beyond all doubt, I will be spending eternity with the God I love and many other loved ones that have preceded me into glory, especially my sweet Chris.

6. I KNOW regardless of the trials and persecutions I’m asked to endure on this earth, it represents only a smidgen of time in the grand design of all eternity.

7. I KNOW God has a purpose for me…it’s why I’m still here.

8. I KNOW there are so many more people on this earth that have yet to really know, and I mean REALLY KNOW, the Good News of God’s grace, and He’s asked me to tell them.

9. I KNOW the news needs to be continually spread about God’s command (not suggestion) to care for the orphan and widow, and as a new widow and one compassionate about orphans…who better to share that news?

10. I KNOW God has me in the palm of His hand.

11. I KNOW God catches every tear I cry.

12. I KNOW God is good…all the time!

My heart is not only broken….it’s completely shattered…but, I cling to what I KNOW about my sweet Savior, as He continues to heal me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dear Chris...

Dear Chris,

As I reflect back on the last 19 weeks without you, I sigh. Deep sighs. And...the tears. Oh...I'm finding that on days like today, they don't cease.

I miss you so much. Those five words can't even convey the depth of how much I miss you. They seem like such trivial words. It's like when you talk with a friend you haven't seen in awhile or when you call a family member that lives across the country. Or...even with you, babe. I've said those words whenever we've been apart for short lengths of time. I recall missing you terribly when I was in Africa last summer. But now...those five words carry such meaning. Too much meaning for even me to grasp. I long to be with you again. And, I know we will be one day. I can't wait for that day. Until then...I continue missing you and journeying life a bit lost.

I have so much to share with you. God has been doing some amazing things for Anna and me since you left. I know He has us in the palm of His hand. I often wonder if He allows you to glimpse from heaven little tidbits of the work He's doing. Oh...I pray so. I pray that you can see that I'm really, really trying to be strong without you. I know you'd want me to live life to the fullest, because that's what we always did together. I have a deeper passion for that now.

As a matter of fact, Anna and I took our Disney know...the one the three of us were planning for 2012? We had a blast but sure missed you there! Everytime I saw Goofy, I thought of you and how you loved that crazy character.

This Sunday is the Panthers/Packers game that we were planning to go to together. I loved how you catered to the fact that I'm an NFL maniac and even helped me to create my first Carolina Panthers Christmas tree two years ago...even though the Packers are your team. You put me first in everything...even football! Well, I'm still going to the game Sunday. Without you. Your Packers loving friend from church will be going along with me instead. I know that has to make you smile. And...I'll tell you a little secret. This is the ONLY team that I won't be sad to lose to this season...only because of you. (I still hope the Panthers win, though.)

And...speaking of special Christmas trees...we're doing one for you this year. It's a tree in memory of you.'ll be a REAL one! I know you well - no artificial trees! But, when I say WE...I mean WE. Babe, you have no idea how many people are helping me put this thing together. I couldn't do it on my own, but I want to honor you in this way, because I know how much Christmas meant to you. And to get to be at Jesus' birthday party in heaven this year on that day! What a party that must be! But, I pray God lets you peek at the "Chris Tree" when it's all finished. As ornaments are starting to excitement is building. You would be so pleased!

I know how much you loved me. One of your last emails to me stressed that fact and reminded me to never doubt your love. Oh...if I only knew then what you were planning. If it had been possible, I would have moved heaven and earth to keep you by my side.

The loneliness is unbearable sometimes. I have a great support system and wonderful friends and a loving Father in heaven that wants to carry all of this for me. But, I don't have you. If you only knew how much I hurt.

Sometimes I feel like people get tired of reading my depressing posts and comments. they just stop. I try not to be depressing. I just want to be real. I think too often in life we try to live up to other people's expectations (me included). But, this is real. This is who I am - at least for now. I'm not a pretty picture, but I'm real. I pray that my pain, my grief, this journey is not in vain and that somehow, someway it helps somebody else.

I just needed to share from the innermost places of my heart with you tonight sweetheart. offers a smidgen of healing.

I will never forget you. I will never forget the glorious, wonderful, exciting years we shared together. I will never forget the love you poured into me. I have never, ever been loved that deeply before. I didn't deserve that kind of love, but God blessed me with it anyway. He blessed me with you!

I love you!


Monday, September 12, 2011

He's Enough

I’ve been thinking about this really hard for the last 19 weeks. I’ve chewed on it until the flavor seems to be all gone. I’ve spoken it out loud, written about it, but yet…I continue to ask myself…do I really mean it?

The question…

If God takes everything and everyone away from me, is He still enough?

Now, before I can give a direct answer to that question, I need to be real about the questions I’ve had to ask myself that have brought me to my answer. God has allowed my precious husband to be taken from me, and He’s giving me the grace to survive this horrific tragedy, but…

1) What if He took away my health? Would He still be enough?

2) What if He took away my beloved job…the place I look forward to serving in each day…would He still be enough?

3) What if He took away all of my friends and left me feeling isolated and lonely? Would He still be enough?

4) What if He took away the one person that has never left my side for the last 14 years, 7 months, and 20 days…my beloved daughter? What if He called her Home before me? Would He still be enough?

5) What if He took away all of my material possessions…what if I ended up homeless? Would He still be enough?

6) What if He took away the speaking ministry He’s given me? What if he closed my lips and allowed me to speak no further? Would He still be enough?

7) What if I lost it all…everything…people, things, security…would He still be enough?

My answer…

YES!!!!! I can answer with a resounding YES!!!!!!

Does this mean that I would not suffer if any of the above losses took place? Absolutely NOT! On the contrary, my suffering would be quite large. I would continue to rise and fall with the waves of grief, as I do now in learning to live without my Chris. (Just typing his name brings tears to my eyes.)

Does this mean that I welcome additional loss? Not in the least. I pray that He spares me further pain that comes close to the pain that I’ve experienced with the loss of my husband. It’s the worse pain I’ve ever endured and to think I might be asked to endure that type of pain again makes me sick to my stomach.

Does this mean that my response to additional loss would be “saintly” and full of wisdom? Nope. I know me too well to know that. I struggle now with walking my current journey of loss in a way that pleases God. I try…but, I know I fail quite often.

So, how can I answer with a resounding YES?

Because…He’s God….He’s always Good…He always keeps His promises…AND, this life that we have to live on earth is so small, covering such a minuscule period of time, and so brief compared to ALL of eternity!

So, YES…He’s enough. I’ll do whatever He asks me to do during this brief season of earthly life to experience the never-ending, glorious season of eternal life. And…if He asks me to experience this journey with nothing but Him…I’ll do that too. Tears and all. Because, He’s enough!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Warring Acrostics

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~Ephesians 6:12

Yes. It. Is.

At probably no greater time in my life have I felt the spiritual battle going on around me. While I might not be in battle against flesh and blood, my very own flesh gets caught up in the battle at times - until I drag it back out and remind it where it takes its orders from...the very Word of God!

I battle, in my flesh, the same things people do that don't know Christ. But...the difference? I've already received the Victory, through Christ's death on the cross...FOR ME! I'm not bound by those fleshly battles. They do not determine my eternal home. But, they sure put a damper on this earthly life that I'm still called to live.

So, why do I allow this warring battle of emotions to even take place? Why do I not simply rest in what God's Truth speaks? Because, I'm grieving. Because, I'm not Home yet. Because, I'm imperfect...continually striving for holiness but will never be fully sanctified until I'm standing as a bride before my Holy Groom. the battle wages on.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. This doesn't give me the right to simply give up and cave into my emotions. NEVER! This doesn't give me a right to continue sinning, knowing God is willing to forgive. Absolutely not! But, this does give me liberty in knowing that I have a Perfect Father that adores His imperfect daughter and will continue to help me work out my sweet assurance of salvation until my warring acrostics (using the letters in my husbands first name) look more like the one on the very bottom (see below). I am a work in progress. But, at least I'm in progress. The enemy has no power over me. He will not win!

In my flesh...I feel...
C - confused
H - heart-broken
R - restless
I - invisible
S - sad
T - tainted
O - overwhelmed
P - pained
H - heavy-hearted
E - empty
R - rocky

In Christ...I am working to feel but know that I am...
C - courageous
H - happy
R - restored
I - inspired
S - safe
T - triumphant
O - overjoyed
P - peaceful
H - hopeful
E - encouraged
R - redeemed

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tidal Waves at Disney

If you were able to read yesterday's post about our recent trip to Disney over Labor Day Weekend, then you know that we had a blast. The time I was able to spend with my daughter was nothing short of treasure-filled. We needed that FUN time together...away from the heartache and stress-filled days of the last 18 weeks. And...we were blessed.

But, even within that blessing, a few tidal waves of grief still appeared. Two of them, I handled slightly better than the other. Regardless...the waves threatened to suffocate me.

While sitting in the airport waiting to board our flight to Orlando, I was suddenly - and, I mean suddenly - overcome with emotion over missing Chris. All I could think at the time...

He should be on this trip with us.

Why are we going on a mini "family" vacation when we're missing a key member of our family?

What was I thinking in trying to do this so soon after Chris' death?

So...I did what I always do in these little panic moments. First, I prayed..."God help me!" Then...I texted, Tweeted, Facebooked, and/or emailed a need for others to pray for me. I know, beyond all doubt, that the reason I've made it this far in the grieving process is because of all the prayers lifted up on my behalf! For that, I am so very thankful! God carried me quickly through that mini "panic attack" and re-directed my mind back to Him and to my time with Anna!

Tidal wave number 2 arrived on Sunday - the 4 month anniversary of the day Chris' body was found. I never really spoke of it on that day to Anna. I really tried hard to go on "business as usual" throughout the day. However, I found myself unusually cranky at times. I blamed it on the heat. I blamed it on the crowds. Finally, I had to face the fact that it was all me. I felt guilty for having fun at Disneyworld when only 4 short months before, I was being delivered the news of my husband's suicide. Guilt - as I have learned - is a byproduct of grief, a natural emotional response. Even so, it's not healthy to remain there. So, I had to emotionally move forward...Chris would want us doing exactly what we were doing. We were actually planning a family vacation to Disney in 2012, and he was so excited about it. It was just happening a little earlier and with one less of us.

The third tidal wave...I didn't handle so well. It was actually so minor in the grand scheme of things, but so HUGE to me at the time. Right after Chris' death in early May, I started wearing his sunglasses. It was such a trivial little thing, but for me, it brought a sense of closeness to him. Silly as it sounds, those cheap Walmart sunglasses brought me comfort. Of course, they went to Disney with me, as well! Our last day at the parks was spent at Hollywood Studios. On one of the 4-D movie rides, I realized I should have probably taken off my sunglasses for fear of them bouncing off my head. So, I gave them to Anna and asked her to put them in the netting under her seat made to hold belongings (since mine was already full with my camera bag).

After the ride was over, we went to gather our belongings, but Anna couldn't find the sunglasses. Then, I crawled under and started to look for them. I looked as long as I could, but they were loading up another group of riders, so I had to vacate the ride. The sunglasses. Were. Gone. And just like that...I felt another dagger pierce my heart. I even took my frustration out on Anna a little. I didn't blame her, but my response and body language said otherwise. It was truly my fault. I should have been more responsible with them, so in all honesty, I was very upset and angry at myself. All this emotion over a little pair of cheap sunglasses.

But...that's just it. It's those secondary losses...the other parts of the greater loss (of my husband) that continue to show up in the tidal waves of grief. Yes, it was just sunglasses. They could easily be replaced. But, they were the same sunglasses that had rested on husband's head, that had protected my husband's eyes, that been held by my husband's large hands. Those could never be replaced. Then again...neither can he.

I apologized to my sweet girl for my abrupt reaction. I replaced the sunglasses. And...I moved on. I continue "surfing the waves"...until the next one sweeps over me. But...even so...I will NOT drown!

Isaiah 43:2

When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We're Back!

We're back from our weekend getaway to Disneyworld in Orlando, FL! My daughter and I had a blast and crammed a whole bunch of fun into 3 days and 3 nights! This trip was a much needed break amidst a summer of heartache and chaos. We both worked really hard to make this trip happen by selling lots of "stuff" that we simply didn't need anymore. We've decided we'd rather spend our time and effort making memories together than collecting "stuff". So, between Craigslist sales, a trip to the flea market, and two we went to the most "magical place on earth".

So much happened while we were away that it's simply hard to condense into one blog post, but I'll just highlight a few of those lighter moments today...

**Our trip began with a flight from Charlotte to Orlando. As we were just about to land, the gentleman sitting beside me struck up a conversation with me that went like this:

Man: "What was that?"

Me: Thinking he was referring to the pilot letting down the wheels, said, "The wheels of the plane."

Man: "No. I KNOW that. What was that wet, smelly stuff that just flew all over me?"

Me: "Oh...that? The lady in front of you just misted herself."

Man: "Great. How am I gonna explain smelling like a woman to my WIFE sitting a few rows ahead of me. Will you be my alibi?" (with all seriousness in his question)

Me: "Uh...sure."

Later, after landing and exiting the plane. The man pulled me aside to have me "meet" his wife and proceeded to say, "If I smell like a woman...this lady here can vouch for me."

**One evening, while having dinner at the resort food court, Anna suddenly announced, "I'm stuck!" Perplexed, I asked her what she meant by that. Apparently, she sat in a seat that hadn't been wiped off too well from the previous patrons, and her pants were stuck in something sticky sweet. It wasn't super glue, so she was able to get up. But, at this point...I was laughing so hysterically that I could hardly catch my breath.

**That laugh would later come back to haunt me. On our flight home, the kiddos in the seat behind me apparently spilled their soda. At some point during the flight home, my shoes didn't want to come up off the floor. Now...I was the "stuck" one! (What goes around comes around.)

**You know how when standing in line for a ride, someone will usually come up and ask you how many are in your party? In other words, they need to place you in the correct line based on the number of people you're riding with. Well, when this particular ride worker asked this question of Anna once during the weekend...she confidently announced "FIVE". The worker walked away to find 5 spots and then came back to get all "five of us" only to discover only 2 of us standing there. Again, she said, "How many did you tell me?" Anna then realized her mistake and said, "Oh...I mean two. Just two." While on the ride, I asked Anna, "Where did you come up with 5? Are we riding with some of your imaginary friends? Or - were you saving spaces for some newfound folks you met?" Giggles ensued...and so did the ride.

**One of the highlights of the many shuttles that we took to get around Disney was the bus driver that led our caravan of riders into singing the famous children's tune, "The Wheels on the Bus (Go Round and Round)". As I looked around, the faces on the bus represented Indians, Muslims, Caucasians, African-Americans, and Latinos. But, everybody on the vehicle knew that song! (Now if it could just be that way with "Jesus Loves Me"!)

All kidding aside, we had a great trip. There were a couple more serious moments that I'll blog about (maybe tomorrow), but this time together was nothing less than an expressions of God's abundant mercy and grace showered down upon us! To Him be ALL the glory!