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 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 be done in her memory...but ultimately to honor God. that's what mom did with her whole life. she really honored God. 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 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 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. 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'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's a messy journey sometimes. But God will hold me steady, one way or another. One day at a time.