An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Riding the Waves

March 30, 2010

After two great weeks of turning a corner and really enjoying my new life, I began to feel the waves of grief pick up as the weekend approached. A few little thing happened that surfaced tears and I let them roll …..I don’t care where I am, I know the quickest way to healing is to embrace the pain when it comes. I also had a great weekend as I got to spend some time with a woman who is passionate about God and His plan for her life and was single for 7 years before meeting and marrying a wonderful man. What a gift to me and confirming that I am on the right path in my grief and singleness!
Back in December I journal what I felt God speak which was, “I am going to fast track your grief.” I had three different people this past weekend say the same thing to me in three different locations and conversations……I love when God confirms what He speaks and such a blessing to me to comfort me as Monday and Tuesday were another story for me. Several months ago, I cleaned out most of Joe’s clothes from his side of the closet. I had a friend organize things for me and she put my jackets on Joe’s side in the vacant rack. Every morning I open the closet, get a jacket and see some of Joe’s clothes that are still left. It has never bothered me until Monday when I opened the closet and it was as if a wave of grief slapped me in the face. I sobbed, The rest of the day was tearful as was Tuesday. I let them roll as I know the quickest way to progress thru the grief is to face the pain even though it is difficult. I can’t say I like crying but I am discovering that weakness is holy place. I think our perception of weakness is different from God’s…….of course he says that in Isaiah 55….my ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts……when will we get that? When I reflect on painful times in my life, those are the places that I have been strengthened by God and have grown into who I am today.. Physically I have been exhausted and not felt great as grief is draining. I have had to rest more and am thankful that God has provided phone calls that have made me smile…..for every problem we have, God has a provision. It sometimes takes me some time to discover that and I know there are times I miss it.
Although physically tired, I have enjoyed my single life today and new friends I am making. Life is different but it is good again.
I heard a song today by Meredith Andrews called What It Means to Love…the words are: "How could I go back to life as usual? How could I return to who I once was? I just want to take your story to the world because you have shown me what it means to love." Life will never be the same and I will never return to being Joe’s wife. I do want to take the story of His goodness and love to me during this time to the world. God has shown me incredible love and I want others to discover what I’ve found.

Riding the waves,

Kathleen

Friday, March 26, 2010

Coming out of the cocoon

March 25, 2010

I am amazed at God again. When I did the ½ marathon February 14th in Austin, I stayed in a hotel. Printed on the key were the words, “You never know what you will discover around the corner.” I knew it was God speaking to me so I hung on to the hotel key and have it sitting above my sink. My revelation of God is that he loves to surprise His kids just like I love to surprise mine…..and if you go to CWJC, or know me, I love to give presents and surprises. Walking with God is fun….circumstances in life are not always fun but walking with Him is fun. I have had a great two weeks…..something changed when I went to Houston and faced the pain of driving down I 10 by myself, MDA and my tremendous loss at such a deep level…….all I can say is letting go makes one vulnerable to the goodness of God. I have been in such a place of contending for my peace and joy, but now it as if a new wave of healing has come and it comes so easily. I don’t know what you are facing in your life, but peace and joy are worth contending for. I love it. I have felt God’s presence in such a strong way hovering over me. Others have noticed the change in my heart and have commented.
As I drove to MDA two weeks ago a song came on called “We Will Dance” by Stephen Curtis Chapman. As I listened and tears streamed down my face as I thought of how Joe and I danced through our life and I asked God, “Will my heart dance again? Will you send me someone to dance with?” I felt I heard God reply, “Your heart will dance again and you will dance again but I get the first dance.” His love is so intense for us and He must be first. I do feel I am dancing with Him step by step as I journey into my new life. I was given a big balloon of a butterfly for my birthday over 3 months ago. I tied it to a chair in my dining room and somehow it is still floating……a constant reminder of the new life that is here and coming. In a couple of days, it is as if I feel I have come alive again…….so excited about my life. I cannot explain it but I am truly enjoying the different ness of single life finally. Someone told me at the beginning of the year to enjoy the different ness of my life now and I’ve tried………but now I can say I am enjoying it now. I am loving all the new friends I am making…..yes some of them men……..no I have not been on a date yet but I am finally feeling like I could handle that. I am enjoying not having to plan my life around kids and a husband…..I loved doing that in that season but I am loving the freedom I have now and driving around in my convertible is such life to me!

Coming out of the cocoon,

Kathleen

Monday, March 22, 2010

Smiling, Singing and Thankful

March 21, 2010

I have enjoyed my time off during spring break. I went into the office each day but for the most part got to rest. Thursday I went to San Antonio to do some shopping and to meet Mallory. Someone had given me two nights at the Westin to get some rest and I decided to use it Thursday and Friday so wedding dress shopping would be a little less stressful. What a precious gift! We had fun shopping and it was a special time……yes we tried on over 50 dresses before we found the right one. And the neatest thing is that she got it at the shop I bought my wedding dress at 30 years ago! It was the icing on the cake! There was a time when tears streamed down my cheeks as I hated that Joe was missing all these special moments. That is not the way it was supposal be – but it is. What it is. I am so thankful for my relationship with my daughter and the fun we have as girls. She is gorgeous but she will look stunning on July 10th 2010!

I bought a new bible while in San Antonio. The one I study from is the King James Version and it is the one I have had since I first got married. It was time for a new one. : Language has changed, life has changed and I decided it was time although I hate to let go of my old one because I know where everything is from my markings. Change doesn’t bother me like it use to. Everything has changed, even the things that were so dear to me but it is ok……I took the plunge and love my new bible. As I was reading a familiar passage, Isaiah 61:3 something jumped out at me. “To comfort all who mourn and PROVIDE for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” I can honestly say that each time I have turned to Jesus in my pain; I have felt the presence of God comfort me. I look back at other times in my life when my heart was in pain and I didn’t turn to God for comfort and sat there is self pity and despair. And I know too many people that camp at that place now. Personally I don’t like being around them. Some people love self pity like a good friend. But Jesus came so we could have abundant life. Anyway, I have seen God’s provision in so many ways. Someone offered to come take care of my yard a few weeks ago and then a family came and took care of my flower beds. What a huge blessing for me as ¾ of an acre is too much for me to take care of.. As I have turned to God and poured out my grief to him, he has provided in amazing ways. There always seems to be a little surprise around the corner that makes me smile and thank Him for taking care of me as a good husband should take care of his wife. I will keep looking for my crown of beauty as I sift through the remaining ashes of my life. My challange to you is the next time your heart hurts for whatever reason, simply turn to God and acknowledge your pain and ask Him for healing. He will do it....too many people don't turn to Him or are impatient in the process.

I woke up with a song on my mind that I felt Joe and God were singing over me. The words are, “Be strong in the Lord, never give up hope, you’re going to do great things, I already know. God has his hand on you, don’t live life in fear.”

Smiling, singing and thankful-

Kathleen

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Settling In

March 18th, 2010

I truly feel like I turned a corner in the grief process by going to Houston. In some ways as I drove to Houston by myself I felt like David with 5 stones going to face a giant that had inflicted much pain on my family and those I love. But there was a determination and courage that came over me as I remembered that I am an overcomer……it is my God given right. As I drove, many memories flooded my mind…..”that is where we stopped for gas,” “that is where I had to take over driving,” “there is where he kissed me.” We would frequently hold hands as he drove and as I rested my hand on the arm rest, it was almost as if I could still feel him holding my hand. As I pulled into Houston, the song that we played at his memorial service, “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin came on…….I shook my head and said, “Joe, that is what you did.” I had to smile because he was not in pain anymore. It was heart wrenching for me to watch such a strong man endure so much pain……but he did, for me, for him and our kids. Then he knew it was time to go………

When I got to Houston there was a chemical spill and traffic was backed up and rerouted. I got lost and drove around for an hour and half trying to find my way. I had to simply laugh because my plans for my life once again hadn’t worked but I was having fun driving in circles in my convertible…..lost, trying to find my way, but having fun….a lot like my life right now…..I could see that I had grown in letting go of my plans for my life…..and it was ok….

I had dinner with a friend from MD Anderson and it was good to see her. She was precious and it was healing to talk to her. Saturday I went to MDA to walk around and process. Tears flooded my eyes as I walked in the doors I had walked through many times with a determination to conquer cancer……I went and stood on the floor where our chemo doctor had his office and looked around in silence…….”Had this really been my life last year?” I asked myself. I went to the hospital and walked around the floor and stood by the room he was in the last time he was hospitalized…..two nurses recognized me and came up to ask about Joe. We talked, we cried together as both of them had had recent losses in their lives. As I drove out of the parking lot of MDA, I felt like Joe was talking to me, “Baby, we did it! “Did what”? I replied. I felt him say, “I am here in heaven and you are overcoming.” I could see him smiling at me as he so often did. As I left the Houston city limits, a song God frequently encouraged me with came on,……”You Make Everything Glorious.” I had to smile at God because I could see him doing that in my life.

Since then, I haven’t cried. A new peace has rested over me. I am beginning to discover my new life and like it although I do feel lost. I am encountering many new situations……today I am off to wedding dress shop. July 10th is the big day……..and life goes on.

Settling in-

Kathlen

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Celebrating and Conquering



Celebrating and Conquering

I got a call Wednesday from Rob Williams saying that he planned to ask Mallory to marry him on Friday evening and wanted me at his house by 8:00 in Houston. Rob had asked to marry Mallory several weeks ago and is wonderful…..he will be a great addition to the family and everything we had wanted for our daughter. Joe told Mallory this summer that he thought Rob was the right guy for her but to take her time. He also said that if she chose to marry him, she had her daddy’s blessing…..a bitter sweet time for all of us. Anyway, as I realized I had to go back to Houston for the first time since Joe had died and I would be going alone, all I could think was “Focus and breathe Kathleen.” By Friday I had caught my breathe and realized that God must have thought it was time for me to go back and it was ok……As I pulled on to I10 things were different than before. I was alone, driving my convertible with the top down and my blond curls blowing in the wind….I knew I had to go face the place that had been so painful and where both of us had suffered so much pain. As I drove many memories flooded my mind but I also felt God speaking all along the trip. It was like I was getting a heavenly download. At one point I put the top up on my car and made note that my back window as smaller on this car and I couldn’t see as much when I looked back. I felt the Lord say, “That is not a mistake Kathleen…..in this season; I don’t want you looking back too much. I want you looking at what is ahead.” God had already been speaking earlier in the week about “forgetting those things which are behind and pressing forward.” (Philippians 3:17) I also felt like he spoke three words to me. Cancer, contend and conquer……Last year we faced cancer. I have been in an intense season of contending for my peace and joy and now I was going back to conquer by facing something that had caused so much pain. There is so much I could share and perhaps I will later but the short version is it was a good trip. I sang songs Joe and I sang together, I sang new songs and there were times I just listed and felt God singing over me.
I was to be at Rob’s house by 8:00 and was running late due to the chemical spill in Houston……but I made it a little late. I was walking down his dark street trying to find the right house number (my contacts were foggy from crying) and saw headlights…….I knew it could be the two of them and didn’t want to blow the surprise so I quickly pulled my scarf over my head to cover my curls looking like someone from the far East…..Rob commented to Mal….”there are some shady people walking around here.” Mallory thought I was a homeless woman! Minutes later, Rob popped the question and his parents and I walked in to celebrate with them. It was a fun weekend of celebration with his sister and family and God’s grace covered us in many ways. Her ring is beautiful and as Rob said when I asked him to describe it, “it is beautiful and simple, just like Mallory.”
I went by MD Anderson before I left and will write more about that in the next few days. As I headed home there was an incredible peace and I felt God’s presence in a powerful way as the cool breeze blew through my hair and on my face. It was well with my soul……and I sang much of the way home.

Still singing, celebrating and conquering,

Kathleen

Monday, March 8, 2010

Waiting for Spring

March 8, 2010

I am not sure where the time goes. I thought it was only a few days ago that I wrote but now see it has been a week. It has been 5 months today since Joe left. I still stand amazed at God’s goodness to me in such a hard season. I can’t believe it has been five months and yet at times it feels like five years. Life seems to go on. Right now my job consumes a good bit of my time and since I am not quite up to speed yet, it takes most of my energy. I stepped back out this week by speaking about my book, “Wake Up to Who You Are”. I hadn’t spoken since Joe was diagnosed with cancer as he was my focus. It was good to do something I feel passionate about….helping people discover their God given value. I have hopes and dreams of doing more of that in the future.

I have had a couple of rough days in the last several weeks but over all feel I am progressing in letting go and processing the grief…..I just get weary of dealing with it and get tired of the rollercoaster. But I know embracing the pain is the only healthy way to progress…..I just wish there was another way…….

I have encountered several things in my single life that have left me without words and without really knowing how to respond. It is a strange feeling as I am pretty much an on my toes girl that thinks quick but seem to have lost that part of me somewhere. Often times I feel like I am in a foreign country and don’t know the language, cultural rules, or where I am and how to navigate…….I keep telling myself to enjoy the adventures. Sometimes I do.

God’s love for me and His faithfulness are the thing that give me hope as I wait for my new life. I went on a walk Saturday and as I looked at all the bare trees, dead grass, brown everywhere it reminded me of how I feel at times. Then I saw a tree full of white blooms. I had to walk closer to make sure I was seeing correctly (I didn’t have my contacts in). Sure enough, in the middle of all the winter, there was a sign that spring was coming. It was the first sign I have seen…….in more ways than one. Austin sent me a song, Spring is Coming by Stephen Curtis Chapman and I know it was God gently encouraging me to keep hanging on. One of my favorite phrases that I frequently say is, “I just show up and hang on.” That what I do each day. That is all I feel God asks of me…just say yes to Him each day and let Him fill me with His love and strength. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercy never comes to an end, it is new every morning.” Yea God!

Waiting for Spring-

Kathleen

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vulnerable to His goodness

* (Austin Marathon)
Tuesday I woke up feeling like it was a new day. I have felt like there is a small ray of sun peeping through the dark clouds that I have felt like I have lived under. I have always had hope for my future but have felt like I have had to contend for every ounce of it. I am grateful for the ray of sunshine I feel beginning to crack the clouds.
It has been an amazing week, interesting week, busy week and exciting week. Amazing in that two ladies got saved at CWJC this week. Yea God! Interesting in that I spent the night in the emergency room with my father one night. He is alright but his back pain has been pretty bad. I have never asked God why he took Joe or why he had cancer………..but I did ask God why on earth I have had to spend so much of my time in the last 7 years in emergency rooms, hospitals and in doctor’s offices…..I just don’t get it …..yet. One day I will. It was busy in that I did several th(ings with friends.....I am so thankful for all the people that are loving me through this difficult season. Anyway, it was an exciting week in that I bought my first car all by myself! A total gift from God and the story is too long to tell but I was able to trade in my 2008 Buick for a 2008 convertible Toyota! I love how God works in ways we cannot see! It is a dream and a gift......

Today I was walking and felt like the Lord spoke something to me. I felt like he said, “When you let go Kathleen you make yourself vulnerable to my goodness.” I have really had to ponder that today. Letting go takes courage, trust and faith. Although there is a lot I don’t know in my life, I do know that God has been faithful to me and I have seen His undeserved goodness poured out to me. But that is just the way God is. He is always good. That perspective of letting go/trusting God looks totally different now. I remember a time in my life when I had been hurt really bad. I was mad and didn’t feel like forgiving. But when I finally did, the freedom I felt was wonderful.
There are lots of things we have the opportunity to let go of in our lives……letting go of our right to be right, letting go of hurt, letting go of unforgiveness, letting of our kids ( not trying to control them or their lives), letting go of our money or like me…..letting go of the life I knew…..it all makes us vulnerable to the goodness of God…… even though letting go takes a lot of courage and strength, I think I will try to let go a little more.

Living vulnerable to His goodness