Saturday, December 31, 2011

Remembering

It is the last day of 2011, and lately I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on this year. It's really been a heavy year, so I have a lot of rambling thoughts to share. I have experienced some very high highs and the most extreme lows of my life in 2011. I am going to try to capture it into words as best as possible.
 I had the conversation with just about every one of my co workers this week as to what the best moment of their life and the worst moment of their life and the most memorable moment of their life was in this year. IN asking that, I of course thought about the same for myself. I will share those and then I will go into much more depth.
 The worst moment is probably obvious to anyone and that was losing my mom.
 The best moment of 2011 would be getting my new job with Guckenheimer. I absolutely love it there and I am so happy that I have that job. Getting a house is also one of the best things.
 The most memorable moment is hard to say....but one that sticks out very strongly is the last time my mom told me she loved me. I can see where we were sitting and even what she was wearing. I remember it specifically because we never knew if we'd hear her talk again. So to hear her tell me again that she loved me ...that was a moment I marked in time. Knowing that there would be a chance I'd never hear it again.
 Those are a few of the "big" things to share. 2011 is a year that will never be forgotten, for so many reasons. I made some new friends, who've become some of the closest to me. I discovered through thousands of changes this year who my true friends are. I've learned new things about me and what priorities are. I have discovered newfound passions and abilities. I have cried more than any year ever, and I have experienced awful anxiety attacks. I have hit rock bottom emotionally and been lifted up by my Savior-the only One who could truly carry me through such hard times. I have learned to laugh at myself and the silly things I do. I have bonded in new ways with my family. I have experienced God's love and patience in all new ways. I have a new longing for heaven. I had to say goodbye to my best friend-my mom.
  In saying goodbye to my mom, I learned depths of pain I'd never experienced. Watching mom die was the hardest experience I've ever had to face. I will continue blogging through this process, as we still haven't reached a year mark yet. But grief has been a crazy experience. It is quite private, really, most of the time. I choose to share pieces of it here, but most of my tears and sadness are experienced alone. As painful as it has been, I have learned to cling to God in new ways. I can't say I totally understand why He took mom, but it's not my place to understand it. I have learned to lean on Him through it. I have learned to become vulnerable. I have learned that there are others I can help because of going through this myself. He uses the bad for the good, if I choose to let Him. Losing mom has pushed my passion harder to fight cancer. We started a 5K in mom's memory to raise funds for a scholarship in her name, and that was a way to carry mom out still, and also a great experience in 2011. Being the worst experience saying goodbye to mom, she will forever be in my heart and I hope will live out through my life in little ways. My mom was amazing-I can only hope to be half the mom she was. I cry still. Mom was my biggest encourager in life, so it is so hard not having her here , especially when I need that support. But...God is faithful and teaching me to lean harder on Him when I need that encouragement.
 The best thing being getting a job at Guckenheimer has been the best thing for a thousand reasons. I love my job. It is not stressful at all (usually.only on a few occasions has it been.) I  have loved meeting all my new customers. Some of them have even become good friends and supporters in my life. I love my co workers so much. There is really no drama among us, which is a really nice change from my previous job. I have connected with the girls at work in great ways. Nellie  is the "mother" of the group with all her life experience and I always enjoy her hugs and laughter. They used to call me Nellie Jr., as we have a lot of the same expressions and actions and similar build. Nellie has endured many of my stories...and always listens. Tiffany is a girl I laugh with harder than most people. She is one of the few who can make me laugh at myself. I remember the first time I really laughed hard after mom died-it was with Tiffany. It was a moment that I'll remember b/c I hadn't laughed like that in months. We make up silly games to have even more fun. We also run together(during fall and spring anyway). Kim and I have gotten really close. We hang out on weekends sometimes and we have shared a lot of good moments. Kim has been kind enough to endure a lot of my tears as much as my silly stories. She has been a huge support in so many aspects of life. Kim is a big blessing in my 2011. My customers who are my good friends now-you guys know who you are. I know you read this. So please know I am so thankful for you. My boss is a friend, too. He is one of a kind. An Australian...and confident in his beliefs and opinions. He is a great chef and I really enjoy working for him. There are others I work with who I also love , just don't get as much interaction with. We girls go out sometimes, and that has become a big blessing of 2011. I love those girl nights:)
 I think I may have to continue this blog, as my thoughts are overflowing....I am ready to say goodbye to 2011. It has been really hard. I am excited to see what 2012 will bring.I am not ready to post my goals yet....but maybe soon. I can't say that I wish 2011 never happened. Yes, it has been the most painful year of my life. But it is a part of my life. Part of me. And so I do not wish it away. But I am ready to move forward . One day at a time. Soon there will be more words on this.....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas...

Today is Christmas. What a difference one year makes. It has been a strange day in some aspects, not even feeling like Christmas at times. There is no snow and it is in the high 40s/50s (which I am not complaining about because I really do not like the cold, but it is strange for December); we just moved into a house, so there are no decorations up and we only did stockings, we did not do any presents; and the biggest standout strange part is of course not having mom this year.  So it has been a very different Christmas.
 Christmas is not my favorite holiday, though it is one I have always enjoyed and have some of the most fond memories of. Allow me to reminisce a little and tell you a few of my favorite Christmas memories.
 One year my little brother and I both really wanted a game. I wanted hungry hippos; he wanted trouble. We were not typically "peekers" when it came to gifts around the house, but for some reason , this one year, we chose to peek in mom's closet and we saw what we were getting. Mom being mom, she somehow knew we'd done that. So on Christmas Eve when we were opening gifts, we were so excited to get our games . Imagine our surprise (and mom's cleverness) when we opened our gifts only to find mom had switched them. OUr mouths both dropped and we yelled "I'll trade you!" We must've been only like 7/9 or something there a bouts. But it is a Christmas memory that still makes me laugh.
 My most favorite Christmas memory though is one year when our heat went out. Our furnace broke probably just a day or 2 before Christmas and no one could come out to repair it right away. It was a really cold Decemeber, too. So, we crashed out our best friends/neighbors home. However, we decided to go back to our home to open gifts Christmas eve. Mom put a blanket over our kitchen doorway, we turned on the oven and opened it for heat and we also had a small space heater. We all wore our coats and ate around a card table and opened gifts. I cannot tell you a thing that I got that year, and I really don't care-that is one of my favorite Christmas memories by far. My mom (and dad) always made things positive, no matter how crazy the situation was.
 I had some really precious Christmas' growing up. Now that I am an adult, new traditions begin taking place. But this year everything about it was different. It has been exhausting both emotionally, missing mom and getting through this first one without her, as well as physically, working full time and moving without taking any time off. The kids have been amazing, though. They haven't cared about opening gifts. The deal is this year we are going to all go out and just choose one thing, with very little limitations. I will be getting a new pair of running shoes. It's all just different.....
 I held up pretty well, though, all things considered, but of course I had my moments of crying, too. But there were plenty of moments to laugh as well. And enjoy waking up in a house. :) Goodbye apartment life...I will not miss you :)
 Last year at this time, we knew it was going to be our last Christmas with mom. She was fighting hard, but cancer was beginning to take its toll. Mom came home from the hospital on Christmas eve and we celebrated as a family the day after Christmas. Some very dear friends came in and made the entire dinner for us so we could just enjoy the evening together. They made all our favorites and they really lavished their love on us. Mom was wore out, but we saw her smile too. We were blessed to have friends take care of us-they even made all of mom's special recipe cookies and did an amazing job. It was a day I held tightly to and will have good memories of forever.. I will end this blog with some pictures from last year. I did not take any this year, as I said...it was just different. But some new traditions were started, too. So we keep moving forward, all the while still remembering.
 So, Merry Christmas, friends. I am thankful to each of you who read this...and know that your support means so much to me. There will still be monumental days to make it through, but God is good and continuing to prove faithful as He promised. One day at a time, we keep moving forward....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Relaying...in memory of mom.

Well, most of you know I am very involved with Relay for Life, the event put on nationwide by the American cancer society. I have had a lot on my mind in recent days, a lot of it being that I miss mom terribly bad right now. But instead of writing about my grief experience, what I am feeling, what was going on last year at this time, I want to write this blog about why I relay. It's still related to mom and my experience with cancer, of course. But it's a redirected post for today anyhow.
 I first did a Relay for Life in 2010. I heard about it from a friend and decided I wanted to do something to make a difference in fighting cancer. At that time, my mom had gone through a partial lung removal, rounds of radiation and chemo. I started a team called Java Joggers, based off my love for coffee and running put together. Being that it was my first year, I learned a lot and was not really sure what to expect. I fell in love with the event from the start. I was able to form a pretty good team, and we raised somewhere around 1,000$ that first year. Every year, the event starts off with a survivor lap...people line the track and clap for the survivors as they go around. We are celebrating their lives! The caregivers go with the patients. Mom couldn't walk it-she didn't have the lung capacity. So she rode a golf cart, and I went with her, as her caregiver. It was an incredible and emotional experience.Mom said to the golf cart driver, "Thank you. Next year I will be walking it." I could go on and on, but I'll just say it was a great experience.
 As 2010 turned to 2011, I wanted to be involved again. Mom was dying. I felt desperate to do something in some way...and Relay had given me that way to give back to cancer patients and their families. So I signed my team up again, knowing that likely mom wouldn't be there for the 2011 Relay. I told mom everything, all the time. I would tell her about signing up and the progress I was making in raising money. She was always one of the few in my life who always wanted to know everything i was doing-she would patiently listen to every ridiculous story I had, whether they were silly, stupid, frustrating, exciting, or completely irrelevant to anything. Of course, my team name was the same "Java Joggers". As days plugged along, what I was raising kept coming in. It was really exciting on some levels....I'd tell mom by her bedside or as we sat quietly on the couch "Mom, another 100$ came in today!" She would always smile in such encouragement. Most of the time through the process of watching mom get worse, I felt pretty helpless. I could do nothing to stop her disease. It was growing. But maybe I could raise some money to help someone else....in honor of my mom.I would tell her this every time-"Mom, I do this for you. I love you. You inspire me."  Mom inspired me-to help others, to pick a cause, to use the bad experience for a good thing. Mom kept a journal through some of her process, and sometime I will share an excerpt or 2. She was amazing. Sometimes people would tell me what I was doing was commendable. I really don't see it that way. It's just something small I can do to fight this disease which is growing so prevalently.
 I love Relay for Life. One thing I love about it is that it covers all cancers-it's not related to one specific. As the 2012 year for Relay for Life approaches, somehow I agreed to be the chair person for Greene County Relay for Life. It is a huge position, and at times I feel so inadequate to be doing it.Sometimes  I wonder what I got myself into. But other times I am so glad to be serving in that-it's kind of my new mission field in life right now. I get to meet so many people. And by God's strength alone, I get to talk about my experience and hopefully help someone else through theirs. There are times that is so hard. But God promised to use all things to work together for His good for those that love Him (Rom. 8:28) and He promised that He'd give me the strength (Phil. 4:13), so by Him I Relay. For Mom. For my mother in law, who is a cancer survivor-I don't mention her as often. I love her very much-it's a different cancer experience and so I leave her to tell what she may or may not want to share. I relay for those fighting currently who I know-Tara, being one of many names I'd like to mention. I relay in celebration of survivors I know-that list could go on forever, but to name a few, Bobbie, Jim, Paula,Chase, Travis,Aunt Pam, Uncle Larry, Uncle Jerry.........
 I attended a conference last weekend about Relay for Life, which prompted the need to write this today. It's just in my heart. I love to do it. I do it for Mom primarily. But I do it for all those facing cancer now, and to help those who may have to hear that news in the future. This blog is not an advertisement (though if you do want to know more about it, just comment or email me or Facebook me; or if you want to donate to my cause, just let me know). And it's certainly not about making myself look good-because it is only a God thing I am able to do it. It's more just what's on my heart today. Especially as the holiday season is here, and I am missing mom with a heartache.
 So, I Relay. In Memory of mom. I'm including some pictures from 2011 event. I miss you, mom ! But I will Relay forever in memory of you and to carry out a piece of you a little at a time. One day at a time.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankful, part 2.

The first snowfall of the season is occurring outside as I sit and write this blog. I know I was supposed to write this almost a week ago, but between family gathering, packing, enjoying some reading and some good down time, well, I am just now sitting down to write this. On the night of the first snowfall. Just 5 days ago I actually was able to wear shorts for an afternoon run (extremely rare in Ohio at this time of year.) Now , tomorrow, as I get up at 4 to go for a run, I will be breaking out the under armour clothing and gloves. Evidence of life going on....seasons changing yet again. Such a parallel to life and to my grief process.
 I wanted to say in my last blog what I spent last Thanksgiving doing, though now that that has passed, it seems irrelevant. It was a tradition to watch the Macy's day parade growing up. No matter how much food was in the oven, mom always sat down to watch the parade. We loved it. And those are moments I will remember forever. Upon starting my own family, it became a tradition that stayed with me and my kids. We all look forward to the parade. Last year, knowing it was quite likely the last Thanksgiving with mom, I picked up coffee for me and her (we enjoyed having a cup together quite often) and went to the hospital, where she was on that day, and spent the morning sitting with her watching the parade until she was too tired. It's a Thanksgiving memory that was hard, yes, but is one I will keep with me forever. Even in her last months, she was still such a fighter, living life to the most normal as possible. We sat down and watched the parade this year, as we always do. Of course, mom was in my mind the whole time. Bittersweet. I made it through the day, as God has helped me get through each one since she passed. I had my private moments of tears and remembering, but we also shared a lot of laughs, which is how mom would've wanted it. My brother cooked the turkey (and did an amazing job on it, along with the stuffing and a delicious salad), my sister and mother in law cooked pies, I made mom's sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and corn pudding, and Dad made the mashed potatoes from scratch! Oh, if mom could've seen him, she would've been so proud. He did a great job on them! The day was nice over all. I sure missed having Michael there, though, as he had to work. It was just a very different day.
 My siblings and I played games in the evening. Games have always been a tradition in our home-be it a holiday or a Friday or just any day of the week. We never needed an excuse. We love games. One of our favorites (I should say the girls' favorite-mom, Becky, and I) is Dutch Blitz. We hadn't played this since mom passed, and on Thanksgiving we played. And boy, did we laugh. My brother, who really doesn't like the game all that much, joined my sister and I, and we laughed so hard. It was bittersweet. I can't speak for them, but again, mom was in the back of my mind the whole time. She would've been laughing harder than any of us at the site of the 3 of us playing.
 And so the day was different , as we all knew it would be, but again God proved faithful and got me through. Moving through grief is not easy. The holidays are hard. There is a lot of fun remembering. There is also a lot of recognizing mom not being here. I am so thankful for the many years of memories stored up.
 Tonight, as the first snow falls, I finally decided to put on some Christmas music. As I have listened to it, it has made me think of mom a lot. Being in the process of moving, we are not putting up decorations, which is really ok with me this year. In so doing, it feels a little less like the season. Tonight, however, with the snow falling and the music on, I am very aware of the time of  year, and the ache for mom is strong tonight. Hearing her favorite Christmas songs, thinking now about last year's, and all the previous years, and what this year's means, it's a wave of emotions. I imagine the season will hold a lot of that. But God is faithful. And one day at a time, He continues to carry me through the process, teaching me new ways to laugh, new traditions to start with my family, ways to remember mom, restoration of my heart and soul, and little moments to grab onto through this bittersweet season.
 Psalm 23:1-3 "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful, part 1.

Everyone right now is blogging about Thanksgiving. So I must include myself into that lump of people. Actually, it's a great thing to talk about year round, but of course, this is a typical time for it to shine through.
 Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. I love the colors and the smells. I love that everyone truly seems to have grateful hearts. I love that busyness doesn't consume this day. I love the football and the harvest season and the aspect of why we celebrate this day and what comes with it. It is the holiday that is so often overlooked, as many people are already into the Christmas mode. I will not put on the music or decorate until after Thanksgiving has been noted. We try to keep lists of what we are thankful for year round, but especially at this time of year, we are noting things in our household. The kids love this day, too.
 This Thanksgiving is really different. Amonth ago, I was saying how much I just wish we could skip over it. NOt having my mom this first time is like the elephant in the room. Everyone will know it and feel it but....who knows how this will really go. My grief has moved along a lot in a months time. I can't say I'm loving this holiday as much as I usually do, but I am not dreading it. It is painful . And there will be some tears, I am sure. But all I can do is keep moving through it all. It's going to happen, whether I want it to or not. And so I will try to make the best of it. Thanksgving will be at Dad's. Being there is a place of real peace for me, so I think that it will be good to have it there. I think it will be hard, too. It's just going to be different. LIfe is different, and there's no denying there. There is a void there that remains with mom gone.  But don't worry, I am getting to some of the things for which I am thankful...I just have to get through the grief parts of this holiday too.
 It's funny, as much as grief can be consuming at times, life keeps moving, and I have to use the experience to grow me as God has intended. I'd like to deny that at times, but lately evidence of how life keeps going has been screaming in bold letters at me. You see, my entire family is going through some enormous changes, but most of them are all exciting and good. Evidence of life going on.... we are buying a house! My sister and her husband have accepted a job as head pastor 2 hours south of here, so they are working on moving by the end of December; my older brother is home again, which is a huge blessing!; and my younger brother is getting married and he is also going to be deploying to Afghanistan in January. Life keeps going... Good changes. But a lot of changes to be happening at one time. I have thought of mom so much through all these things transpiring. How she'd quietly be at the center of most of it....supporting Tim and praying for him; helping Becky and me both pack our houses and help with the kids in the midst of the chaos; how she'd likely be playing games with Steve. It's bittersweet, experiencing these good times without her. But it is also a beautiful picture of how God moves. A year ago, I wanted nothing to do with buying a house. Now I am excited! I miss mom. This time of year is going to be full of memories and it will be hard to walk through them at times. But on this time of Thanksgiving, I want to say how grateful I am for all that mom taught me. All the laughs we shared. All the many memories I have with her. As I bake her sweet potato casserole for tomorrow, I can see her standing in the kitchen, cooking for hours for Thanksgving meals. I am so thankful that I have those to hold onto.
 2011 has been one of the most difficult years I have ever had to walk through....but God is faithful and I am so very grateful for that. Words cannot even put into an appropriate picture all that He has loved me through. I am so thankful to have Him. I am thankful that true healing is unfolding.
 I am thankful for my family. my husband my kids. my dad. my brother. my sister. my brother. We have sometimes a funny family dynamic, but we have a strong one. One I am grateful for.
 I am thankful for my church. What a blessing they are all to me. Such a support system and a true second family.
 I am thankful for my job. I could dedicate an entire blog to my job . I am so happy in it. I love my customers, who are quickly becoming some really good friends. I am really thankful for my co workers-a group of people I have bonded with in a neat way. I am thankful for a non stressful environment. I am thankful for my boss and his silly songs and crazy ways that make work a good environment. I am thankful for a consistent schedule.
 I can go on and on, which is why this blog is part 1. Tomorrow I will blog again. I've had many of these things in mind lately, just making the time lately has been difficult. (Remember, we are buying a house, so working full time, packing, prepping, and all the crazy other things take time...) Until then, I will move through tomorrow not only one day at a time, but one hour at a time, because it will be a very bittersweet day. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5-6,2010

On this day a year ago, it was my second day off in a row. I was out running routine errands. My mom had  an appointment scheduled with her oncologist that day. Sort of a routine checkup after radiation, and sort of to talk about some concerns. I was waiting for a call from mom, as I usually did after one of her dr. appointments. I was in line at WalMart and my phone rang....dad's cell phone. Immediately I picked up, anxiously awaiting mom's voice of what her doctor had said.  Only it was my dad on the phone, and it was so hard to understand him through all the emotion.
 "Rachael, we have a real problem. Mom can't speak or write. ".....silence.... "ok, dad, I'll be right there." and that was about the extent of the conversation. Between phone calls to my sister-piecing together what she knew and what I knew-and call to Michael that I was headed straight to the hospital-I drove over the speed limit to get to my mom and dad's side as fast as possible. I was very confused and scared as to what was happening. All I knew was that morning, Novemeber 5, mom woke up and couldn't talk at all. And at the dr. office as they discovered this more, she couldn't write either.
 As Becky and I both arrived at Good Samaritan North, where mom was being treated, we sat by mom's side and got the story from dad. Really, we weren't all supposed to be there, but the nurses were quite kind. All we knew was that something was happening and it hadn't been a stroke. We were waiting as mom was going in for an MRI immediately. Meanwhile, we played phone tag with Tim and STeve to get them the story of what was happening. Soon Michael arrived. We could do nothing but wait, so we went to Steak N Shake for lunch. Seems a strange thing to do, but we did. After mom's MRI, I can't remember if we saw her oncologist or not. But I do remember going down to the radiologist's office. We all squeezed in there. There were 7 of us, including the radiologist. But we were supporting one another. Here we found out mom had 3 new tumors-2 on the brain, 1 on the skull. That is what caused mom to not be able to speak or write. They gave mom a radiation treatment then and would proceed to give several more and then determine from there. But the radiation should shrink the tumor so she should regain some of the speech and writing skill. We asked a lot of questions and took in all the information. We were all exhausted from tears, fears, praying, learning, and being in a hospital environment all day. Finally, the radiologist said there wasn't much more we could do that day....just to proceed as we were and just get her to the hospital if there were more dramatic changes. Meanswhile, Steve was on his way home.
 Together, Michael and I decided I'd stay the night out at the farm. It had been a very long day ....I drove home and grabbed some clothes and ordered pizza to pick up for dinner on the way to mom and dad's. Mom was a very loved woman and news traveled fast....when I arrived at the farm, a good friend of mom's, who had just had her own mom's funeral that day, was at the farm bringing food! Now that is the love of Christ shining through. Anyhow, all food was brought in and after talking a few minutes and praying together, they left and dad and I (and Elizabeth, as she was staying the night with me) sat down to eat, weary after a very long, emotional day. We had no idea what to expect. It was very scary. And so hard to understand ....we'd never been a position of mom not being able to communicate her needs. I cannot remember at what point Steve showed up in the night...but he arrived and it was so good to have my big brother home. I slept fitfully that night-partially due to not my own bed, but more so due to worry . The next morning, Saturday, November 6, Michael came out to the farm early to make breakfast for everyone. As he cooked and Becky and all her family arrived, I helped mom get up. It was hard not knowing totally what she needed. We had to figure out ways to communicate like we never had before. She was unsteady, but she got out to the breakfast table ok. As we sat down to eat, it was noticeable that her functions were slightly worse that morning. Fast forward about 30 minutes....dad and me and ....I can't remember who else was with us...were in the back talking. We were called out in an emergency fashion. Mom was having a seizure.
 Part of me hates reliving this. And sharing it here is a hesitation I have. But it's part of the process....walking through the events kind of again. It's sort of natural. I heard a quote today....it was "LIfe is a journey-not so much the destination, but the transformation..." And i realized how true that rang for me,e ven on this specific day. To see what God is doing in me through this journey of grief. He is transforming me...I see things in such a different light. But as I do that, I still have to get through these yearly milestones.
 But back to a year ago. The ambulance was called, paramedics came, mom had come back to a non seizure form . Michael got the kids off to our best friends' house, BEcky, Steve, and I all piled into Steves car and we sped off to the hospital. None of us knew what to expect or what was happening or what would be to come in the next days, let alone months. Friends piled into the hospital little by little. The love of Christ was surrounding us. It was only by that and by Him that we got through that day..and the days ahead. Mom was admitted, and they kept her there for a few days. TEsts were run, meds were given, explanations were spoken and countless hours were spent beginning a new understanding of what was happening. Cancer was spreading. But mom was amazing through all this....determination shone through. Faith was evident. The months to come would be difficult, but we'd take them one day at a time. It was this time last y ear that I really began to understand and embrace one day at a time.....
 Mom taught me that.
  I don't want to end this post on a sober note. Yes, a year ago this day was very very hard for me. And today I remember it quite vividly. But I also mean this when I say it....I rejoice that my mom now has no pain. Shoot, I envy that she gets to be in heaven. But I will see her healthy again one day, and that is just one reason to keep smiling through the tears. And keep plugging through this first unknown  year of a new normal. Some days that is hard to embrace....but I'm learning to. Because, as I said, it's not the destination, it's the transformation. And somehow, losing mom is a new transforming experience, albeit painful at times. But one day at a time, I begin to see Him in new ways.
"The Biblical view is that waiting is not so much about when I will get what I'm waiting for, but WHAT I WILL BECOME as I wait." Dr. Paul David Tripp

Friday, November 4, 2011

November 4,2010

Do you know what you were doing on this exact day one year ago? Probably not. Because really, Nov. 4 is not a significant day to many people. But this day, in 2010 will forever be something  I will hold onto.

 It was Thursday, Novemeber 4,2010. I had the rare joy of 2 days off in a row-Thurs and Fri. After the kids got off to school, the weather was beautiful, so I decided I'd head out for a 6 mile run. Only I wanted a bit of different scenery, so I chose to run the Yellow Springs Bike Path. This time of year, it is beautiful. Since I was going to be just down the road from the farm, I called mom. At this point in time, one year ago, she was going through things like chemo and had just finished some radiation. She had a tumor on the back of the neck that had just finished being treated. Her attitude, as always, was one of beating the disease.  I was spending a lot of time with her. I called her, being it my day off and being that I was going to be close, and told her when I finished my run, I'd come out for lunch.
 I set out on the path that beautiful day and really just enjoyed my run. I wasn't out for a time or speed, I was out to run. And pray. And think. Though mom's battle hadn't turned fierce yet, it was still an exhausting road and a hard journey to be walking. I loved my runs. (I still do). Anyway, the leaves were falling, and the colors were brilliant yellows. The fields on either side of the path were either  freshly harvested or waiting to be harvested. The path was quiet that day. I remember my headphones and specific songs from that run. It was an enjoyable run.
 When my run finished, I headed out to the farm. I have no idea what we ate for lunch. I just know we enjoyed it. It was just mom and I-dad was busy out doing work since it was nice weather. Mom and I talked about all the things. Then we played Dutch Blitz-our favorite card game. And we enjoyed a cup of coffee. Soon, I had to be going, as I had to get the kids from school. I cannot tell you exactly what we ate that day, or exactly what we talked about. But I remember our coffee and I remember playing the game and I remember laughing so hard, like I often did with my mom. We hugged tightly, as had become the normal, and I walked out the door, exchanging "I love you"s and off I went to get my kids.
 To you all, this may seems like just another memory I am recalling. However, it is so precious to me, because the next day, Novemeber 5, would change our lives forever. Tomorrow I will blog more about that. So I guess I'll say "to be continued...."
 I will be recalling a lot of details int he next few months-I think it's normal and it's ok. Don't think I'm stuck just because I'm recalling these things. It's just part of my process. To get through this yucky first year without mom, this is part of what I have to do for me.  Really, I've made some great strides in my grief process...though many of you may not see it. God gets the glory for that. Because it is certainly not by my strength.
 I am so thankful that I took the time that day to just ignore house duties and such (as I would typically give some time to those on days off) and go be with mom. It was our last really normal conversation. And it's one I'll never forget, even if I cannot remember every word. You see, those are the moments that count. Not a clean house. I'd never take back that day with my mom.....it's one I'll never have again. God knew that that day, I'm sure. We even talked that night on the phone, as we usually did. The next day would be a different story. I'll tell you more tomorrow...

Friday, October 21, 2011

faithful friends

I decided to take a break from all my grief blogging. Well, a small break anyway. I've had a lot on my mind lately and I have been processing some pretty intense emotions as I continue to  walk through this journey. But as I do this, I am really very thankful for some very faithful friends in my life. And I wanted to take time here to mention them. Without these friends, I don't think I could get through this totally. Also without these friends, I wouldn't be entirely who  I am. They encourage me and help me and just make me a better person a lot of times. So I want to just share a few names and say just how much gratitude is in my heart for these people.

-My husband, Michael. I could simply not make it through this period of grief and change without him. It has certainly been no piece of cake or predictable journey for him, either. As my moods change day to day, he has been faithful in loving me through them. He has endured an unpredictable roller coaster-the ups and downs are unseen until i am on them. And he has been riding by my side the whole way. It doesn't mean it's been easy by any means, but it is making us stronger. I love him dearly. And I am so thankful to have him. Without him, this time would be even more dark. He has displayed Love is patient....

-My dad. I love him. I admire him. He is stronger than I am much of the time. His faith is enormous. Our friendship has grown through this. I couldn't make it through missing mom without dad. Many times, he is the only one who truly understands, because I know his pain must reach more deep than mine does. And yet is like a rock through all this. Being out at the farm with him is really one of my most favorite places to be. We support each other. I see mom's love being lived out through him still. I am thankful for my dad.

-Janet. What a friend. There are not even words to say how grateful I am for her support and love each and every step of the way. I am so thankful that God brought us together as friends. She has been the most faithful friend through all this-always asking almost every day how I am doing. Praying for me, with me. Sending a note my way. Being there during the time of the funeral. Loving on my kids in superior ways. Helping them through this time as much as she is helping me. She has encouraged me daily. And supported me with scripture and prayer and hugs and kind words. Or sometimes just by saying nothing at all.She has also shared loving words to make me ponder if my actions are justified. But she's never made me feel judged for any of  the emotions. She's a living example of Christ. She has endured listening to my every tear and every frustration and every fear. She is a blessing.

-Brandon and Saralee. also quite faithful friends in different ways .  Quiet supporters, always there for me any time I've needed to call or cry or just be me. Loving words, also correcting words. A Hug. prayerful for me and my family. An incredible support through time of need. Precious friends.

-Doug and Ten-2 friends we have had for our whole married life. They have been there for eery single things we have gone through-from our wedding, to birth of children, to all of our moves, to mom's sickness and death, to the marathons and the 5K. They are a picture of true friendship. They come  at the drop of a hat. I can always count on them. We always laugh together. Sometimes I cry. But they always listen. And sometimes they help take mind off things and help me to remember how to have fun. Words can't even say how much their friendship means.

-Netta. She has been with me every step of the way as well. We grew up together. She is like a sister to me. She lived next door to me my whole life. Her mom was my aunt as well as my mom her aunt, just because our families are so close. She has been a tremendous support to me and probably the one who has understood the best. She not only has spent time praying, she has cooked meals and gone out of her way to help in so many different areas. She has called me and talked with me and asked questions and listened like only Netta can do. She has walked this loss with me. She was even there the very moment mom died-that's how much she is family. I could not get through this time without her.

-Kitty. Kitty has spent countless hours listening to me. And she has always given sound advice. She prays. And she follows up all the time. She has been one I have felt comfortable calling in the darkest of my moments. Kitty is a blessing from God. She is one to whom I will forever be grateful

-Julie. Also a long time faithful friend of mine. Once a mentor. Probalby could really still be called that! She is a precious friend. She has spoken truths to me at times when no one else knew what to say. She has listened to all my hurts and sorrows and she has loved me and prayed for me. She has helped me push through one perspective to see another view. She is a treasure.

-Jenny. Jenny has walked the path of grief and depression and has understood my issues as if she were speaking them herself. She has been a constant encouragement and a faithful prayer friend. She also has been one faithful to respond to my questions and my fears. God is using her in my life because of the difficult path of grief she already walked. I hope one day I can be used as she is ....

-Mindy. I've known Mindy for years. Mindy knew my mom. In fact, we had a lot of laughing times as kids growing up with my mom. Recently Mindy moved back and we've reconnected, and it's been a God moment to do so. We've leaned hard on each other through some pretty rough days, and it usually happens when she is having a good day, I am not and vice versa. She is a treasure in my life, and I am so glad to have reconnected. We laugh together a lot. And we cry, too. Mindy is a gift to me.

I've also made some new friends along the way:
 -Annette. She understands loss . And she has helped me better understand mine. And since she is on the other side of hers now, I can see that there will be healing. God is using her.

-My work crew-especially Kim,Tiffany and Nellie. I laugh so very hard with these 3. We have a great time together. And since we work together daily, we can certainly understand a lot about each other. Tiffany has become my morning running partner, and that has been fun, too. Each of them is a blessing in a unique way.  David, my boss, also fits into this category. He's fun to work with and I am thankful for the opportunity. He brings a creative flare to every day and that's always fun and interesting. being at this new job has been huge blessing and has helped me through my grief, even if that is one place where I really don't talk about it.

I know that I could keep mentioning people. A handful of my very best friends live in FL and LA and so it's harder to share the grief, but they still have been faithful friends. Some people have touched my life in just a one time interaction. Others continue to do so. I realize in writing this, that I am so blessed. I really do have a great support system. In the months to come, I will likely begin recalling details of what was happening at this time last year. We are about to hit some pivotal dates i will never forget. But for today, I just wanted to be thankful. And take that into tomorrow and continue to do so one day at a time. Because even though grief sucks, there are still rainbows through the rainstorms. These people are just a few of those...
 Until next time, the journey of getting through all this continues and one day a time, healing continues to come.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

to honor mom....to honor God

well, i just tucked two very tired kids into bed. i also am not far behind them. but if i don't sit down and blog tonight i probably will not rest well because my mind is so full.
  so, i'm going to detail out the day and the emotions for you. this 5k was set up to honor mom...to be done in her memory...but ultimately to honor God. that's what mom did with her whole life. she really honored God. today...today was a tribute to her and a testimony and tribute to God, too.
  the alarm went off at 5 and i sleepily hit it, but knew i needed to get up and get moving. today was a big day! i got up and worked on last minute details and packed up the truck. my cousin, ezra, was staying with us, so he helped too. we walked out the door at 6 am and went a picked up a cambro of coffee (thank goodness...i was in need!). then we went and picked up some delicious donuts for all the volunteers and family and whoever else,really. we drove out to cedarville to begin set up. soon the CU cross country team showed up to help. They were a huge blessing to us! They were a huge part of the success, as they provided our time clocks and helped with set up and did all kinds of little things. it was a bit chilly before the sun came up, but we all warmed up as the day went a long.
  around 8 or so people started trickling in, little by little. it was fun to know most of the people who came out to do the event today. lots of hugs were given (which i really enjoyed! i am a hugger...and today was all the more reason for them) there were a few times i began to feel the tears come on. Once it was just a matter of set up being done and me just kind of standing there taking in what was really happening. Once it was one of mom's good friends showing up to give a donation. Once it was when the prayer was happening before the event...so little moments i held it together, but barely.
 mom would've loved today. the weather was her favorite and it was beautiful! i could not have asked for a better day. it kind of had mom written all over it. i am so thankful.  at 9, we started the lineup and our pastor did the opening prayer. he did a great job...it was really honoring to God...and a really special prayer. i could barely NOT cry through it, but i managed to be ok, which s good , because as soon as the prayer was done, it was time for me to sound the air horn.
 i really cannot believe that i was the "director" of the event, and ihad the privilege of starting it off. Alittle unreal....
  There were about 50 runners there today. I feel really good about that. I wish I could sit and name each one here....because each person means something to me in some way. But i'd leave someone out or something, so I will say this: i had people come from all areas of my life...friends from growing up who helped raise me through church and sunday school and who knew mom very closely; people who were runner friends; people i work with; customers at my current job/ and one customer from my previous job; friends from relay for life.... people who loved mom. it was amazing. I loved watching them take off, and I loved being there to cheer them on as they crossed. it was very different from running a race....being on the other side of it was really neat today. I LOVED it! i loved watching it all unfold. I loved how it all came together. I loved learning through this process. I loved the day. scary to say... i may have found a new passion.
  it was awesome cheering them across the finish line. as the event began to wrap up, it was fun mingling a little bit more with each person. and it was fun giving out door prizes. and it was fun taking all kinds of pictures.
 as people began leaving and we cleaned up, we all headed back to the farm. as i counted all that we'd collected, i learned something that blew me away...are you ready for this?? this is ONLY by the grace of God that this happened...
 we raised 3,000$!!!!!
 what a neat tribute. to God. to mom. I cannot wait to see the student who will be the recipient.
Then as the day kept on, we enjoyed some family time. we spent the afternoon talking and catching up with family from out of town. I spent some time thanking the businesses in town and also catching up with our best friends (who are really family) who came in for the event. a bit later we all went out to young's and celebrated with food and fun. as a family, we ate, we laughed, we fed goats, and we hit balls in the batting cages.( oh, and i forgot to say, that along the way the kids did take a short nap in the car. )
 for the first time in a very long time i felt like...i'm going to be ok. oh, i will still have my bad days. my grief is far from over. but today i felt like- it's going to be ok. i can do this. life is so different. but there are many ways to remember mom that are positive. oh, i have to cry still. i have to grieve. and i'm sure i will have really bad days still. but....this was a really good start to healing yet even more. healing is coming along...little by little.
 i know it would probably seem crazy to say this....but i am going to anyway. i really felt mom around me all day today .  i felt God's presence all around me today. and both were things i needed. mom will always be with me. and maybe, just maybe, i can help carry out her legacy a little more.
 so ...there will be another 5k next year and i already have ideas rolling with it to improve it.
   i don't know what tomorrow will bring. or other days this week. but today was a good one and i will give God all the glory for that!  one day at a time....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A cluttered house...cluttered mind.

In 2 days, my family will host a 5k in my mom's memory.
 My house is cluttered. So is my mind. I'm hoping this will help clear my mind at least...since nothing can help the clutter in my home until the event passes. All along my apartment living room and dining room are boxes of tshirts, bananas, water, signs, and door prizes.  It's really exciting, actually. And a little unreal. Also a little bit nervewracking. And running through my mind are many different thoughts and emotions.
  This is my first time to host an event. I have run many races. Obviously, it's quite a passion of mine. When mom passed away, one of her friends started a scholarship fund in her name designated to go to a nursing student studying to be an oncology nurse. When we learned of this, I got this crazy idea to host a 5k to raise more funds for the scholarship. Why not combine my passions of running and fighting cancer and helping others?? And so one of my crazy, exhausting ideas began to unfold. This event is in no way about me. It is about my mom in some aspects. But it's more about actually doing something positive out of a really crappy situation of death and cancer.
 It's also appropriate it go to a student studying to be an oncology nurse. When mom was first diagnosed in late 2006 and underwent her first surgery in 2007, nursing students (along with this friend of mom's who has started the scholarship, and was a nurse) came into mom's home and helped do a lot for her-dress her healing wounds, check her vitals, help administer things she needed. They provided a lot of medical supplies for her too. They helped her. And now, it's time (we) help give back.
  Cancer is ugly. I watched it unfold in mom's life and take her away. I saw the devastating effects it has. I saw the pain it caused, the exhausting process of it all. I saw a true warrior have to give in to the sickness eventually because it had taken its toll. Working with cancer is not an easy occupation. I don't know this because it's my occupation. But I do know this from helping to take care of mom. I helped to feed her and dress her and be by her side through chemo treatments when cancer had taken its toll on her to hinder her abilities. I am happy to see the money we are raising go to someone who will be making that their life occupation.
 There are times when I have been crippled by my grief. There have been times...and still are...when I am just an emotional basket case because of the ache it has left as a hole in my life not having my mom any more. But I am choosing to make this a positive aspect of grief. That's by no means a pat on the back for me. It's only by God that this event is unfolding as it is. He is really blessing it. I cn't wait to blog about it after the fact and share all that God did through it. It has been neat for me to see who has jumped on board to do this-some because they love running; some because they loved mom; some because they want to see money go to a good cause; and some because they love me. That has touched me deeply, as I have seen the different sides of this event. I have learned a lot about my relationships with others through it. I have also learned new things about myself yet again.
 Sometimes I'm on auto pilot. Races are kind of second nature in some ways to me...I love doing them. So i guess I just kind of knew what needed to happen here. So sometimes this event has come together just because I've participated in so many that I didn't have to think deeply about it all.
 There are some moments when I have had complete meltdowns and learned that only by His strength can I go on. It has dawned on me deeply that this event is in memory of mom. Not with mom there; not with mom cheering from the sidelines. But it's because mom is gone. I never would've started this before. I never even thought I was capable of doing such things. Like I said, I'm learning about myself through this. One big thing I am learning is that I can go on. I can be ok. I don't always feel that. But I suppose this event is helping me see that. I can still do things. Things I never would've done before. God promises in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who love Him. I've questioned my love for him at times because losing mom has been an awful experience. BUT in the process of questioning, I have actually learned to cry out stronger to Him and to lean on Him in new ways and just how much I do love Him. No one completely understands me....but He does.  and so as I said, he promises that all things work together for good for those who love Him . I believe this event to be evidence of that.  ALL things-even the pain of grief.
 Some days I don't entirely believe that, because some days the grief hurts so badly that I can't even see through the tears. but then I see a rainbow in the sky. Or hear some ridiculous song sung. Or go for a refreshing run as the sun is rising among the fall leaves.  I have decided not to suppress my grief. But to walk through it. It's a messy decision at times. But I hold onto that it'll work out for the good...eventually...and in some way. Because He promised me that. And like I said...I'm seeing that unfold through this event.
 It's been one crazy week with all the details. But volunteers are lined up, we've raised over 2,000$ with money still coming in (surpassed my goal for doing this this first time), my older brother is back home for good now (so excited about that!), tshirts are ready, registrations have come in like I wouldn't have expected, and it's scheduled to be beautiful weather!
 I sure do miss my mom. That's an understatement. But I think...though I won't know til Saturday....that this event won't be one of sadness while we remember her...but it'll be one of joy. Because mom was always giving back to others. always. She was so very humble. Part of me sees her rolling her eyes over an event taking place in her name...with her name all over tshirts and signs. But the other part of me knows that she would be pleased that there will be a lot of good to come out of this.
 So...the house will be cluttered until the event is over....and my mind probably won't shut off until then, either. But...one day at a time...I keep plugging through the grief, the exhaustion, the good and the bad.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Running with a passion

Last Saturday I finished the half marathon that I've blogged about in recent months. It was an amazing time for so many reasons. The last 6 months have been quite a journey, and even my running journey took a new turn in it. Each race I've ever run is a bit different in one way or another, with a different story to go with it for me. This time, this race meant so much to me.
  First off, it was so wonderful to have 2 full days with my husband. Dad was gracious enough to keep the kids, and Michael and I really had a nice time. Seriously, I was like a kid in a candy store, and so many things made me giddy. It felt good to laugh. I mean, I really do laugh a lot at my job and have a good time there, but I don't laugh a lot outside of there. And it was so nice to have that feeling again. Race expos always bring that out in me.... I love watching all the different runners pass through. I love all the fun race gear you can buy. I love the goodies you get for free. I love the atmosphere. It was fun. It was also really nice to be away. Just in a different environment. That helps a lot, without even realizing it. Michael and I got to actually enjoy some quality time together, which was really precious.
  Secondly, I love races. Period. I just love the excitement that comes with it. I love getting up early and being out first thing in the morning with 15,000 other people, all there doing the same thing. I love the weather. I love the music. I love talking with all the different people. If you don't know, runners are a breed of their own in some ways. When you are a runner, when you are out on the course, you can pick up a conversation with any given other runner and talk about anything. Literally. And if you were to meet that same person in a restaurant or in the elevator, a conversation would likely not happen. If you have ever experienced a race, you know what I am talking about. I mean, the die hard runners, they probably don't talk so much. They are focused. But those of us out there just to run, just for ourselves, It's an open book out on the course.
 During the last 6 months, I kind of lost a bit of the passion in running. It became a way for me to try to bury myself away from grief instead of letting the running help me through my grief. Once I decided to let go of that and let it renew me when I was out on my runs, i really rediscovered my passion for it.I could talk about it forever. (clearly, if you are reading this blog, you can see that.) I am beginning to connive my coworkers into it now. I LOVE talking about running. I am by no means the best runner. But I am passionate about it, and I love it. And to me, that's all that matters.
 I did not do the full marathon this time around. But I am ok with that. And I feel like my time this half marathon (2:44) was good, considering all that had gone on in life in the last 6 months. I have set some new goals for my running , but I'm not ready to post those just yet.  I met a friend at the start line, and we ran the entire race together. I have never had that in all 3 years of running. It was really neat. And now we are great friends. It's rather fun what running has done for me.
 The finish line was in a stadium. That was really motivating and really neat. As I ran that last quarter mile, I gave the race all I had. The guy I passed through the tunnel must've thought I was crazy as I sprinted by him, tears on my face, trying to breathe right while crying. It was an emotional finish for me. Because it was my first finish without my mom. Because it was a big step for me in continuing to move on in life. Because the last 6 months have not been easy, and this was another way to prove to myself that I will be ok. It was another step forward. I finished that race well, I feel.
 It made me think about mom, of course. Mom finished her race well, too, here on earth. She gave it everything she had for as long as she could. She fought the good fight. She helped motivate me through this race,even though she wasn't here. Because if she could go through all she did with a positive attitude, so could I finish this race and feel good about it. I missed her with every step I took. But every step I took was another step forward.
 In grief, it's funny, because sometimes I take 30 steps forward and before I know it, I'm going 40 backwards. But then I go 50 forwards....it's a messy journey. One I've never been on before. I'm learning as I go that no 2 people experience grief the same way. No 2 people have the same emotions. Not even 2 people grieving the same loss. I am an extremely emotional person anyway. This grief journey has catapulted it even more so. But you know what? Janet Paschal said "If you hang on with whatever it is you know in your heart to be true about Him, then He will come through. That's a promise."  And I see that so often. Sometimes it's harder for me to recognize, other times it stands out. But He said, in Isaiah 41:10 "Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength, I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."
 Some days, even when I don't feel it through the clouds of grief, I hold onto those words....and He always comes through.
 Today was a good day for me. Tomorrow...who knows? Like I said...it's a messy journey sometimes. But God will hold me steady, one way or another. One day at a time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reflecting...

6 months ago today my life changed drastically when my mom passed away. It has changed my life in so many ways. I've been reflecting on that a lot lately. How it's changed me...how it is continuing to change me....what all I have learned in that time.
 I've learned so much about life and death through the experience of losing mom. I know that a 6 month mark probably isn't as significant as what a year marker will be, but 6 months without my mom has been so hard. Experts say that the first year is the hardest....ask me in 5 years and I'll tell you if I agree or not. Because since i'm still in the first year, I can only say it is really awful. There are events or thoughts or places or things or sounds that remind me of mom every day.Sometimes those memories make me laugh. Sometimes they make me cry.  In 6 months time, I've experienced my first mothers day without mom, my first birthday, and their anniversary....we haven't even hit the more common family holidays yet that I know will be tough. I've not had a day yet where I haven't wanted to share something with mom. 6 months without my mom has felt like a lifetime in some aspects. A lot of life has gone on...I've changed jobs, Elizabeth changed schools, Joseph lost his first tooth, I'm organizing a 5K....and yet I think sometimes of all the life that's yet to be lived. I have a lot of memories with mom-that's really an understatement. It's strange making new ones without her. It's unreal to be organizing an event in her memory.I miss her with every heartbeat. I'm not sure when that ache will go away. I try to explain it to others...I'm not sad for my mom. Her last weeks were really horrible. In fact, I was thinking about it today. The last 24 hours of mom's life were awful. I am so thankful that I got to be there with her. But I am thankful that I know that she rests in a better place. She was in no condition any more to be here. The sadness comes with figuring out a new normal. Figuring out who I call when I am sad or ecstatic or just need a friend. Figuring out child care. Figuring out how to be more of an adult, I guess. That sounds silly....i"ve been a mom myself for 9 years. But there's something about a mom that one can always possess that childlikeness.  Now i'm the adult in new ways.  I've had to grow up in new ways.  It's not always so easy. 
 I've learned a lot about myself and about who I am through this. Mom was always really good about encouraging me and about telling me good things about myself and telling me  to stop being so hard on me. She never told me fluff that wasn't true (like.."oh, you're the smartest one in the class"...or things that were overkill nice statements) she would tell me things like achieving my dreams were possible. And that I was a good mom . And that I was beautiful. Things I tend to be hard on myself with. Not having mom there to whisper those things when I need/want to hear them has been a new journey for me. And it's a journey that will continue. But I have full confidence that as I walk through each step of this process, I will continue to grow and to learn. And it's strange how even through her death, her life still speaks volumes to me. 
 Saturday I will run a half marathon. That has been a journey this time around, too. I won't PR at this race, and that's ok. I will finish it, though. And I will finish it well. that journey has been challenging, as I had set out to do a full this time around. As I came to a conclusion of not being ready, I learned new things about myself yet again. These 6 months of training....and grieving...have been exhausting. But I am ready to run with a new excitement on Saturday. I cannot wait!! Not having mom will be hard. In fact, dad is watching the kids so Michael and I can go to this alone. And I am sure there will be emotions that come along with this finish. But  I am ready. And I cannot wait to cross that start line early Saturday morning. I have a renewed passion for it that comes with this particular race. And the full will come eventually. 
 In the last 6 months, I've changed jobs, and that has been a really positive thing for me. I have made new friends, and really, I laugh a lot at my job, which is fun. Changing jobs was also a growth process for me. Not because what I am doing is so different from what I did before, but more so because I left a comfort zone of where I'd been for so long. And that has brought me to new realizations of myself as well. Some of which I continue to be processing. I am thankful for the change. 
  So...6 months ago my life took a drastic change. I miss my mom as if it happened yesterday. And I know I still have a ways to go through the grief process.... but I'm learning....and that's part of what life is about.
 I close with this verse that has been strong on my mind and heart this week. Whether it's because of my race or because I needed the boost of encouragement in this time of missing mom, it has been a good reminder for me.
 Isaiah 40:31
 "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." 

so, tomorrow, and onto my race on Saturday, and each day that I will have to face a new first without mom, I will keep taking it one day at a time. 










Sunday, September 11, 2011

Journeying

Life is such a journey. Grief is no different. It, in and of itself, is a journey. But it's a part of life's journey and growth. A lot of people today have been reflecting on the journey of the last 10 years since 9/11 happened. Yes, I remember where I was. I was at my job, childcare at First Baptist Church of West hollywood. I was planning my wedding. In fact, my mom had just flown home the day before(9/10), as she had been in to help buy my dress and be there for a wedding shower. How thankful I am that she wasn't on a plane that day on 9/11. i remember having that thought quite vividly when those planes were crashing.  I recalled that  thought today, as I also reflected on life over the last 10 years. 
 It has been quite a journey, to say the least. I would have a very hard time putting even a scratch on the surface of events that I've had the privilege and sorrow to experience. I also thought something to myself today, as a word repeated over and over was "grief". 
 Back then, I had absolutely no idea what grief was. Sure, I felt saddened and so many other things. But Now, I can relate to that in such a new way. I also understand that each person's grief journey is a different experience. Their loved one was taken away in an instant. Some didn't even get the chance to bury theirs. My mom died over time. I watched it happen. I was there the moment she died, even. I had time to say goodbye and other things I wanted to say. I'm really not sure that there is a "better" experience in a loved one dying-fast and instantaneous opposed to slow and time to say things. Neither is a good one. In the time that mom was dying, I really learned the value of taking it one day at a time, hence the name in my blog. Some days I wondered, "will it be today?" and then I'd waste time worrying if that was the last time I'd be with mom. Eventually I learned there was absolutely no value in that. It wasted time, really. And I began to take it one day at a time and did my best to enjoy that time, painful as it was to watch mom deteriorate. Today the phrase "one day at a time" hit me in a new way. Because now I am learning one day at a time to let go a little more. And that is part of a very painful process. For a person who hasn't walked through grief,  it really doesn't make much sense. Some tell me I should be over it. Some don't understand why I am still sad, knowing my mom is really in a better place. Some think I'm crazy for the ups an downs I have. And some still have absolutely no idea what it is like to love someone so deeply that life is dramatically changed once they are gone. I'm 29. Life as I have always know it is different now without my mom. 
 Yes, I was married 10 years ago, and left home. But mom was still mom and she was there for me for everything. It is so strange to not have her now. It's been nearly 6 months. It is still unreal some days. And then other days, it is so painfully obvious that I can do nothing but cry. The process of letting go does not happen overnight. It doesn't happen in 6 months, either.  
 Zig Ziglar said "If there were no love, there'd be no grief." 
 Mom loved me unlike any other person really can-a mother's love is different. And I know that for many reasons, but that quote stuck out to me. The deeper you love the person, the harder the grief is, I believe. My grief is really pretty private, as far as my tears and emotions go. But that is a funny statement, seeing as how I put it here for anyone to read. 
 My mom was so sick in the end. She wasn't able to eat or sit up or move on her own. I think I'm beginning to reach a point where i can recount some of those details more here in my blog. So you may catch some glimpses of what I actually experienced if you stay tuned into future posts. 
 I am not sad because I fear an unknown hope of where mom is. I have every confidence that mom rests in heaven, and is no longer sick and is laughing again, as she always did. She wouldn't want to come back here, and I wouldn't wish her back. My sadness is because I now have to find a new normal. I have to figure out life without mom around. I had her for 29 years as my support system. There is a lot of life ahead still. So that is a process I have to take one day at a time. 
 Another quote that's been given to me recently says..."Even though your heart is breaking and tears are clouding your eyes and staining your cheeks, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that's Him. and Him alone." -Dr. Joseph Stowell. 
  and that is an aspect of life I also am embracing in a new way.
A year ago this weekend, I got my first tattoo. Mom was fighting hard, but hadn't yet taken a terrible turn. I got a tattoo of a running shoe with wings with the cancer ribbon in the center of it. The running symbolizes so much for me. The ribbon was for my mom. And the wings symbolized many things, one of which being God carrying me through difficult times. Today it's no different. It's just I'm learning to do it better one day at a time.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Think.Feel.Be.... and patience in the process

I was told the other day, when asked a question, that I think too much. My instant response was "I know." In that instance, I didn't have to think too much because I knew the statement was true. I then spent time thinking about him saying that to me....which is sort of prompting this blog.  I think way too hard on things-whether it's a circumstance, or a person, or an event, or a problem or a response. I just sometimes over think about it. Thinking isn't bad, per say. I believe I'd rather think about my answer and give it accurately than to always say something and then later want to change my answer. I also think (ha-no pun intended on that statement) that I'd rather ponder my words than say everything that comes to my mind immediately. Honesty is good, but sometimes it is good for me not to say everything I am thinking. Sometimes, though, thinking can not always be good for me. Thinking can be exhausting and sometimes even keep me awake.
 In the same way I think a lot, I also feel a lot. Feeling deeply is just who I am. sometimes this can be a bad quality. Sometimes it is a good one. I believe that feeling so deeply is what part of what makes my grief process so agonizing at times. I also believe that feeling so deeply is what makes me able to connect with people pretty well. I have always put all of myself into whatever I am doing-partly because of my over thinking and feeling so deeply. When I work, I put all of my efforts into my job. I don't do it half way. When I love, I love deeply-myabe not always in the best of ways, but I love with all of my being. When I mother, I do it full heartedly. When I run, I am passionate and put my all into each step I take. It's just who I am. It's why I had to decide not to do the full marathon this time around-because I don't want to do it half way. Feeling deeply is also what made it such a tough decision.  It's one reason I love my job. I put my all into it and I see the rewards. Because I feel so deeply and think through things, it's why grief is exhausting for me. Each day and each step I take to move through the grief process in order to be healthier, it does move me through a lot of memories and emotions, which is exhausting. But it's also why I believe the 5K will be successful (as it is really shaping up)-because I put my all into it.
 I realize this blog is a bit disjointed. I'm just saying this: I do think pretty hard. I also feel pretty deep. It's also who I am. I'm not philosophical really-just pensive. I'm not crazy-just emotional. It's who I am. And that's ok. I think. I feel. I am.... but  I also have to have patient in the process.
 sometimes the deeper I feel, the more I want it to be over-like grief. Walking through this first year of not having mom is pretty awful. Learning to live life without my mom around is a really hard adjustment. She was my best friend, as much as my mom. But I cannot force the process to be over. I just have to walk through it. It's not going to happen in my time-if that were the case, it'd be over. I have to be patience-it's not always on my time frame. Mom's death wasn't in my time frame-it wouldn't even be reality if I had my choice. But it's not always in my time frame that things happen. But as thing happen, it shapes me into me more and more. Moving to Ohio wouldn't have ever happened  if I'd had my choice. But then if I'd never moved to Ohio, I wouldn't have been here for mom in the last years...and that's something I never want to change. Patience is a virtue is a quote that is often repeated by people . I used to think I was a patient person. I'd like to say I still am. But I think it's something that I have a lot of room to grow. Being patient is hard. I often want things done now. Like...not being sad anymore over mom's death; like owning a home and not being in an apartment; like losing weight that's been put back on; like being able to run a full marathon. But I have to have patience in the  process of these things coming into reality. It takes time. Grief takes time; finding a home takes time; losing weight takes time; running a full marathon takes time. Nothing (well, mostly nothing) takes place overnight. And in the process, I grow.
 So....I must continue being patient and taking life as it comes one day at a time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The one i've been putting off...

I have had this blog in my mind for days. But I've really been procrastinating posting it. It's somewhat of a raw one, with raw emotions. And sometimes it's hard for me to write these things because, well, sharing to the depths of the heart is revealing and can be scary. But why stop now? So, let me tell you what I've been putting off.
 I have decided not to run the full marathon in September. I have decided to knock down to the half. It has been an agonizing decision for me. I wanted the full so badly. For so many reasons. It was to prove things to myself. To prove things to others. It was like carrying out a conversation with my mom still, since it originated with her. So, the decision has not been an easy one for me. It's made me feel quite humbled for saying to everyone....don't tell me I can't....and statements of the such. The entire process has been one of growth and learning.
 Last Saturday I went out and "ran" 15 miles. I'd been having some nagging doubts about it, but I set out pretty determined. By mile 12 I was in tears. Not because of pain...to be quite honest my muscles were really not bad. But it was because I knew what my decision needed to be. I'd never make the 6 hour cutoff time that this marathon has. Based on my times that day, I knew it. So i cried. Really I wept. Seems silly probably to you. But it is hard to give up a goal, even if the decision is made in wisdom. I shouldn't say "give up" the goal. To be honest, I was mad. I didn't want to quit on this goal. But I was reminded that I"m not quitting it...I'm postponing it. I'll set out to do one in the spring. I still want to do one. I just really wanted this one because it's what mom and I talked about together in her last months. But I've been humbled and have to admit that it's just not going to happen. I"m tired. My body is tired. I've faced a lot of exhausting events in 6 months time. So, my body is telling me to wait. And slowly, I'm beginning to accept that. I will still do the half. And I am hoping by that time, I will be in full acceptance of this, and really enjoy the race. Enjoy the moments I have with Michael in those couple days. I'll keep telling you about it. It's hard to admit this. I think there will be some who say "I told you so." Or some who make comments such as..."well, you could still...why are you giving up?" And I'll just have to take the comments with humility. (Easier said than done.) I want to finish well. Not just finish. Sometimes the goal is just to finish. But in this case, I want to do it well. So I'll keep training. I was also reminded through this last week and this decision, that maybe I lost sight of the real prize...and what i'm really trying to attain...which is in my heavenly destination as Paul talks of in several different passages of scripture. Goal are fine and good even, but when they becoming consuming, well, it's not a God-driven goal. So one step at a time, I accept this. I am humbled. And so in a sense, starting over in some ways. Remembering what my goal is and working towards that...both heavenly and here on earth. And that my goal is not just to finish in this life , but to finish well. I want to hear Him say to me one day, "well done." Right now, I'm not there. And that's raw honesty.
 LIfe is like that...the process of working through grief is like that. It's a cycle . Reminders. Training. Learning. Growing. Feeling pain. Feeling humbled. My running journey often parallels my life journey. At the same time I learn a new aspect of training in distance, I'm usually learning spiritually. And when I am knocked down physically and taken down a notch in my marathon journey, typically God is teaching me something spiritually. it's crazy how they really go hand in hand for me. I wanted to quit for a little while-I won't lie. But i know what running does for me, and that would be crazy. It was the discouragement speaking. Happens that way for me in other ways. They just kind of parallel each other. And I'm sure that God didn't do that by mistake.
  Grief hits at strange times and in strange ways. In some ways , for me, letting go of this particular marathon, is letting go of my mom a little more. I don't think that anyone really understands that, but it's how it is for me. I'm still accepting that. Oh, I know mom is better off. And I know that I wouldn't wish her back here because she is perfect and not sick in heaven. And I was ready to say goodbye as much as I possibly could. But when I say letting go, I mean learning to live without her. She is always a part of me. But well, just letting go of this race at that distance is letting go a little more. And accepting a little more. Please don't tell me to move on. Or let go. Or be done with my grief. It takes time. And this is another step for me. I've shared that I have been diagnosed with depression. Well, people with depression often feel to deeper level  and take more time to process through things like grief. I just thought I'd share that with those who don't know that. For those who think I cry too much or feel too much. It just is who I am. And I am ok with that. Oh, I hate it sometimes. It's my "thorn" . But one day, I think somehow it will be used. And someday maybe I won't have to take medication for depression. And if not, I'll just have to keep accepting my "thorn".
  I often work through things through music as much as through my running. I love music. Steven Curtis Chapman has some really amazing songs that have touched me deeply through this whole process. I read a book by his wife while my mom was in her last months. It was called Choosing to SEE . Anyway, they lost a daughter suddenly when she was run over by a car. This book touched me, as I could really relate to some of the things she shared. And Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a CD from this time in their life, titled Beauty Will Rise. I am closing this blog by sharing one of the many songs on that CD that I have played over and over and over. I hope the words strike you, too. I am continuing on, even in my running, one day at a time.....
   FAITHFUL

I am broken, I am bleeding, I am scared and I'm confused,
 but You are faithful. Yes, YOu are faithful
I am weary , unbelieving,
God help my unbelief.
 You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world, I will declare it to my heart
I"ll sing it when the sun is shining
I'll scream it in the dark.

YOu are faithful. You are faithful.
When you give and when you take away
Even then still your name is faithful.
You are faithful
 And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe You are faithful.

I am waiting for the rescue I know is sure to come
 cuz You are faithful.
I've dropped anchor in your promises and I am holding on,
cuz You are faithful.

Though I cannot have the answer I am wanting to demand,
I'll remember you are God and everything is in your hand.
In your hands You hold the sun and moon, the stars up in the sky
For the sake of love, You hung your own son on the cross...to die.

YOu are faithful, yes, You are faithful
When you give and when you take away,
Even then, great is your faithfulness! Great is your faithfulness!

And with everything inside of me...I am choosing to believe...You are faithful.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

40 years

Today would be mom and dad's 40 year anniversary. Cancer took that from them. But I'm still celebrating 40 years. Today is not a day that I feel the sadness so much (like my birthday or specific holidays), but I feel the sadness for my dad, because even if he doesn't say it, I'm sure this day is a hard one for him to get through.
 40 years!! Wow! what an accomplishment! And my mom loved dad, and dad loved mom unendlessly. They set a beautiful example for me. Mom's parents were married 72 years before my grandpa passed away. I can't remember how many dad's parents were married, but I know it was at least 60 before his dad passed away. I saw a lot of good marriages. And now that I'm married, I realize just how good those marriages were because of all the hard times they made it through. I think growing up, I had a beautiful example of marriage ,that I really had no idea how much work and how hard it would be as I entered into it at the age of 19. But I'll come back to that.
  Mom taught me how to love. Literally. She taught me what it meant to love someone when you don't want to. She taught me to love the unlovable. i watched her love my dad every day. sometimes in the simple ways. Sometimes in larger ways. I watched her also love people who no one else would spend time with. She was amazing in that way. Growing up of course, mom never really talked about problems her and dad were having, which is the way it should be, me being her child. As I got older, and I'd sometimes share a frustratation,   then she would tell me about how to get through it.  I never saw her and dad really fight. They had their frustrations, but they also had great communication and work through things together. This was evident-their working as a team. Dad provided in amazing ways, allowing mom to fulfill her dream of being a stay at home mom her whole life. In mom's later days, I watched dad take care of her in new ways. Mom had always been the caretaker. It was her "job", even when she was sick, to take care of everyone else. She always did, too, no matter what. But when mom took a bad turn, I watched dad in new ways love mom. He would lift her, shift her, feed her, walk behind her, give her her meds, make decisions with the doctors and nurses-it was a new role for him, but he did it well.  When mom died, dad was the one at her side. (We were in the kitchen-it was dad's turn in the room with her.)That was appropriate. At mom's funeral, the pastor said that Roger and Linda were like one word. You always said it together..."where's roger and linda?" or statements of the such. yes, they had their separate interests, but they were one as a couple should be. It was a beautiful picture of marriage.
 I realize that times have changed a lot since 40 years ago when mom and dad were married. Today the economy is really tough so that many couples are "forced" to be both working. That would describe us. Also, marriage statistics are crazy these days and very few people last 40 years like mom and dad did. And thus, we have to work even harder at our relationship. I do not blog about my marriage much. But when mom died, I thought so much about my marriage, and what would be said of me as a wife if I passed away today or thoughts like that. Mom set such an example of how to love, of how to laugh, and really how to live....even how to die, as a wife and a mom and the lady of the house. I pondered that and thought on what i wanted to change. MIchael and I are going to celebrate 10 years in December. And as mom passed away, and as today it would be 40 years, I have thought a lot about our marriage. I miss having mom to talk to about things. But I remember her example. The times are different, as I said, so responses are different and well...our marriage is different than theirs. But mom could always laugh at dad's silly statements ...I don't always do this too well; I often take things way too seriously. There is a balance, but laughing is definitely something I want to do more. Mom and dad made it through some very tough times together. Michael and I have faced some pretty enormous difficult circumstance in  4 years-it's different for every marriage, but we've made it though some tough moments and we are stronger for it today. He is my best friend, my support. But it takes work for that to be the case sometimes. Mom showed me how worth it sticking out the hard times were. And now I see it myself.  I have God ultimately to thank-He gets all the credit for getting us through things like a move, several job changes, financial crisis, emotional crisis, changes all over the place.... But I'd be remiss to not mention mom. Not only did mom set the example for me, she also was there for me to encourage me through those difficult times.
 Anyway, today is 40 years for mom and dad. I am so thankful for the beautiful years they had together. I am thankful for the example they set. I am thankful for mom teaching me to love like she loved. She loved with all she had...literally one of the reasons I believe she held on for so long was because she worried about dad after her being gone. She did all the cooking and shopping and cleaning...and she didn't want to leave dad. But we know one day they will be reunited. She was a definition of love in so many ways.So-

 HAPPY 40 YEARS, MOM AND DAD!!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pressing On

Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14 "Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;but one thing i do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call o fGod in Christ Jesus."

On an earthly level, I will tell you that pressing on was very hard for me today. I hit the alarm at 5:30 on a Saturday morning so I could go out and train on a long run. I sighed, but knew I would be glad at the end of the day (which I very much am, but I'll come back to that.) today I'd scheduled myself for a 14 mile run. My race is in about 6 weeks. LIke I've said in the past, I do not follow typical training methods. My life just doesn't totally allow for it. But I'm doing my best to make it work, determined to keep pressing on and finishing a full marathon-for me, for my mom, and for many other reasons. Anyhow, back to my run. I was  very energized the first 7 miles. In fact, I felt great. I kept my normal pace, and was feeling like I could totally do this! I did a small walking stint at 10 miles. At about 12 I hit a terrible wall. I wanted to quit. I was doubting myself with every step of not only finishing today's run out, but a full marathon! I kept asking myself "what was I thinking??" I was never so glad to see my car at the end of the bike path. I felt tired and I felt queasy. I'd hydrated the entire run, so I really didn't think that was my issue. I took some sips of gatorade, stretched out well and went home. Not long after I got home, that gatorade didn't stay down. I wasn't going to sit and admit this, but I decideed to. My brother tells me it's just a matter of me pushing my body to new limits and I will feel much better next time. We'll see. I wanted so badly to quit. I wanted so badly to say I'll never be able to finish a full. But then my determination kicked in. I reminded myself why I'm doing this full marathon. And if I've come through all the yuckiness that I have in the last year, then I most certainly can finish. And guess what....it's 10:15 pm, I haven't crashed back asleep yet, and I feel fine. I feel ready to go out for my next long run (in a week of course!) But I will not be giving up. Press on is a phrase that sticks in my mind.  It is so very hard to press on some moments.
 On a different level of things, pressing on for me toward my ultimate goal has gotten lost some days. I've been reminded why pressing on is such a neat thing. and such an important thing. I have been reflecting on the last year a lot lately. Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call......what is my upward call? sometimes you have to distance yourself from something in order to see it clearly. I mean you have to step back and try to look through a different lens. Back in October I'd actually been trying to find a new job. I actually went through interviewing process at one particular place. I was bummed when it didn't work out. But you know what? i am so glad now that it didn't. That next month mom got really bad and I would not have been able to really be with her as I was able to if I'd been at a new job. Plus, I kept pressing on through some hard times at the job I had and God has rewarded that by giving me such an amazing job at this point! It's making such a huge difference in my life. Mom pressed on til her very last day. And I have no doubt that she is seeing her rewards now. Paul also said forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. that is also sometimes hard to do. We are human. We don't ever really forget. But sometimes those things hinder us. And even if we can never actually forget, we are supposed to move on. Press On. Move forward. I'm trying. And God is doing it slowly in me, one day at a time. And on those days that I want to give up the towel and just go back to bed, I remember those days that are actually behind me, and I remember all He's brought me through and it helps me to press on. He's carried me a long way. He'll continue to.

 Pressing on....
 I am organizing a 5k in mom's name. Cedarville University had a small scholarship started in mom's name, designated to go to a student studying to be a nurse in oncology. On October 8th, I will be hosting a 5K in her name to raise more funds for that scholarship. I am excited about this. It helps me through my grief process, helps me move on a little bit, while still keeping mom's memory very much alive. It's a large endeavor, but I am very excited about it.

We'll be approaching some more "firsts" this month. Tomorrow will be my daughter's 9th birthday. Mom will be missed. Then there will be mom and dad's anniversary coming up. There is always a first to walk through in this first year. And while it is so hard to figure out things and get through each of those moments, God is my strength, and He is helping me to press on.

I believe that at my marathon, I will have a phrase written on my arm or somewhere that says press on. So when i hit these walls, I'll remember all I've come through and so I can keep going.
So I'm not giving up on my training. Quite contrary-I'll be training just as hard!

In the meantime, when it comes to training, working through life without mom, marriage, being a mom , and the many other things, I will keep taking it all one day at a time.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Take time to make time

Go, go, go, go, go....that is so often what defines a day, isn't it? A day in my life, or a week in my life might be the better way of writing this, is so full, i can hardly breathe. In fact, the only time I really do that is either when I am up first thing in the morning, taking a few minutes to myself with  my coffee and my journal and my Bible, or when I crash in the bed at night. Or when I am out for a run. Otherwise, there are demands of life.....there's the necessities (but things I wouldn't change ever) like being a mom of 2 active kids; and the ever demanding cleaning aspects around the house, like dishes and laundry. There is also that thing we all must do-like work a full time job. I add running into it and that takes more time. Sure, I love that and also wouldn't give that up, but it is a bit time consuming sometimes. I also am very involved with Relay for Life as well as planning a 5K in my mom's name to take place in October. Whew, I get tired just writing it all down. I also do a lot with my dad and am trying to take care of my own grief and make my way through that. I am always on the go. A couple weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment. I need to take time to make time...in other words, I need to take time "off". A week with no meetings, no evening plans, no computer distractions, no extras. Time for me to just focus on the home. Yes, I should be doing this every day, in a sense. And I do my best to balance. I'm doing my best to also make time for me. Last Friday I went out with some girls from work and we laughed and had a great time! It was good to be me for an evening, no worries. Anyway, back to my point. This week, I'm making it be my week of no distractions. And I am looking forward to what I know can take place-time with my kids, time to be as a family, time to accomplish some little things....it is going to be a good week with no plans any evening.
 Some of those activities I put into my life can be distractions, albeit good ones. So I have to be careful that those things don't take the number one place. They are great things to be doing, things I don't want to give up. But I also don't want them to be more important to me than the things that matter most-my husband, my kids, my quiet time. I do Relay because I am passionate about fighting cancer. I do Relay for my mom. I do Relay because I know what it's like to watch a loved one dying of cancer and I not only want to help fight this awful disease, but I want to be there for those giong through it and those who have to watch their loved one go through it. It's painful. And it's a journey that one who's seen it first hand can really understand like no one else . I do Relay because I want to and because it helps me process my grief, too.
 I am planning a 5K for many reasons. Partly, it is also part of my grief process. I am planning a 5K in my mom's name for October. The University has a scholarship started in mom's name. Dad and I have the plan of growing it to be an annual gift and a good one for the recipient. The recipient will be a student studying to be a nurse in oncology. This will bless another student, who will bless cancer patients, and mom blessed so many people, it's going to be a neat process to watch unfold. It's going to be a lot of work, but also a good activity. I"m combining my passions of fighting cancer and running and putting them in my mom's name-what better activity to do? Mom would likely be embarrassed by it all, but it keeps mom alive in some neat ways.
 I think a lot about my mom through songs. I've said how much mom loved to sing-she had a song for literally everything. Growing up, we learned a lot of Bible verses through song; we learned a lot of silly songs to keep us entertained;we learned a lot of hymns and truths about God through the songs mom would sing. Songs mean a lot to me, and they did to mom as well. We had a record player growing up. We spent hours around the record player-it sat in our dining room and you could hear it playing through the whole house. Sometimes we listened to story records. Sometimes Sesame Street song records. Sometimes Tennessee Ernie Ford or the Gaither Brothers. Sunday afternoons we'd come home from church and put on the records while mom got the roast and the gravy and all teh fixings put onto the fine china and on the table. Today we sang a song  called It is Well With My Soul. Mom loved that song. It was on one of the records and I remember that one vividly. She didn't want it at her funeral because it is such a common funeral song, but she sure did love that one. It's hard to hear or sing and not get teary. Here is an excerpt from the song mom did choose for her funeral. yes, she chose it herself.
 "I know not what of good or ill May be reserved for me, of weary ways or golden days, Before His face I see....I know not when my Lord my come, at night or noonday fair, Nor if I walk the vale with Him, or meet Him in the air.... But I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able To keep that which I've committed Unto Him against that day."
 I look forward to singing this with mom again one day. Alot of people say they hope to see their loved one again some day. Or they believe that their loved one is in a better place. But i KNOW where my mom is. and I KNOW i'll see her again....because I also know in Whom I have believed, and mom is singing in Heaven to and with Him. What an awesome thought that is. So sometimes singing is emotional for me, but there's alot behind each tear that is there-yes, sadness. but also joy. Joy that I know mom is singing that song at His feet now-not in the dining room. And how much more amazing is that? Joy that I will sing it with mom again someday. When I sing or when I hear these songs, I think each and every time of mom being in Heaven and finally seeing what she has been singing about all these years.
 This week as I take time to make time, I'll keep taking it one day at a time. But it'll be a week or so before I post here again.