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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Learning to Live in Extremes



June 30, 2010

Learning to live in Extremes

The beach was wonderful. There is nothing that restores like being alone with the Lord. I loved simply sitting in silence looking at the water and thinking about life. I loved resting and doing mindless things like looking at magazines.

I felt like God spoke several important things to me that have helped me. The first was to live like I am loved and live with an awareness that I am His bride. Mallory is so confidant in Rob’s love for her. She knows she has his heart. I felt like God challenged me to live a life confidant that I am adored by Him. I know God loves me but I cannot say I always live like I am dearly loved. I also felt Him say to look at what I am gaining in this grief season vs. what I have lost. Some of the things I’ve gained in this season are:
1. confidence in God’s ability in my weakest state
2. experience in trusting God in one of life’s greatest trials
3. Grown in knowing Him
4. My identity firmly rooted in Him
5. New friends
6. Learning He is really all I need
7. Being an overcomer is part of my identity
There are more things but I’ve gained but I will stop here.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the 10 hour surgery Joe had to remove the 19x12x2 centimeter tumor from his shoulder. Although he came through the surgery and things looked good, it was really the beginning of the end. He never really recuperated. Today has been bitter sweet. I see the goodness of God and how he has carried me with his love through the valley but there have been tears too. I’ve also been angry that the surgery did not work and the cancer came during the month he had to wait for another round of chemo. I was mad that he won’t be at the wedding. I am thankful to not be living in a hospital this year like I was last year and for how far I have come in a year.

Ten days until the wedding so we are on the count down side. Sooooo much to do to get ready for this big celebration and Mallory and I have had fun. We have had a couple of tense moments in the 4 months we have watched God put this together but only a couple. I am grateful we have always had a great relationship and are close. What a blessing!

I am thankful for the opportunity to learn to walk with God in the extremes of life…extreme joy and extreme sorrow…what a comfort to know He is Lord of them all.

Still singing as I learn to walk with God in the extremes of life-

Kathleen

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wedding Central and Letting Go is Easier


Wedding Central and More Letting Go

As I have pondered my last few weeks and days they have been filled with new experiences, lots of people and family and not much time to process the grief. Grief takes time. Process takes time. After a week in Dallas for CWJC and having a room mate, all my kids being home, parties, work and last minute details of the wedding, there has not been much time alone. I seem to need that to process and have now taken a few days to be alone with God.

It has been challenging and wonderful all at once to have a major life event so soon after loosing Joe. It has been good to have something exciting to dwell on and yet it is bitter sweet, especially for Mallory and me. It is difficult for her as she wrestles with her dad not being here for her and having to let go of the dream of him walking her down the aisle. It has been hard for me as I have had to wrestle with feelings of not having a date to all the wedding functions and having to handle all the details of a major life event without my mate. I miss his support and simply being able to say, “I need you to handle this for me.” I also miss his hugs and kisses and him simply taking care of me in a hard season.

On the wedding note it has been hard as many of you have wanted to share this event with us and we simply cannot have all the people we might want. When you have a limit because of space and money, have two families inviting their families, Rob and Mallory who have been in 12 weddings between the two of them and have many friends, it doesn’t take long to get to your limit. Know that we love all our friends and really appreciate all you have given our family during the time of Joe’s illness and death but I have had to limit the number as I am a single mom with one income and a child still in college. Please don’t be offended if you didn’t get invited or get your feelings hurt.

Letting go has gotten easier. I gave Joe’s wedding band to Mallory to have melted down so she could have one made for Rob. At first I wasn’t sure if I could part with it but after much thought decided it was a symbol of our covenant and that covenant has ended. Life goes on and this is a way to pass the blessing of our marriage on to our daughter.

I am learning to hang on to things and people loosely. Anything I have or anybody that is in my life is a gift but not mine to hang on to. I see too many people idolize things or even people or families. When that happens often times it leads to people controlling others or getting their identity in the wrong thing. As Job in the bible let go of the things he held dear (n possession and family) and made himself vulnerable to the goodness of God, he ended up with so much more. So cheers to letting go! Stuff is just stuff. People are gifts for seasons and seasons change.

Jeremiah 31:3-4 is a favorite verse of mine and a promise I hang on to. “I have loved you with an everlasting love and with loving-kindness I have drawn you. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt again you will take up your tambourine and go out to dance with the joyful.” God has promised me that. Yea God!

Kathleen

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Power of Overcoming





I was recently faced with a challenge and at first I thought, “I cannot do this.” Then I began to preach to myself……. “Kathleen, seriously you can do this, you were watching tumors grow last year, ” Suddenly a new courage rose up in me as I remembered what I had endured and the problem suddenly seemed small compared to what I had been through last year. I realize that there is power in overcoming things in our lives. I have discovered that overcoming brings a new authority and confidence in the power of God to bring us through situations. Because I have had the privilege of walking with God through the valley of the shadow of death and other situations holding His hand there is a trust in Him that is unshakable and fresh. There is power in overcoming. Each of us as believers has the opportunity to grow in crisis. And when you overcome in a situation, then you get the honor of helping others overcome too. Personally, when faced with a difficulty, I want to talk to someone that has experience in overcoming that situation verses someone who simply has book knowledge. I want to talk to someone who has lived to tell about it and prospered in the process.

I have had a great week with my kids. Austin, Laura and Mallory and I went to Con Can to float the river for a few days. It was good to be with my kids and enjoy them. I love my adult kids and have fun with them. Austin and Laura left today for Florida for 8 weeks of training before they head to Maryland.
Today was also a shower for Mallory and Rob in Boerne. It is a fun time as we celebrate their approaching marriage……..three weeks from today!

I continue to press on in my new life. I am smiling and laughing more these days and know my heart is healing. I know I have a God given right to be healed, not hurt. I will look to Him until my heart is healed.

Overcoming and Enjoying Him,

Kathleen

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wedding Parties and New Experiences





June 13, 2010

I had a busy week in Dallas at a national training for CWJC. I really enjoyed my time helping other people learn how to start a CWJC. The days were long but rewarding and I am passionate about what I do. I have had several emails from the people I taught expressing their gratitude. I also enjoyed making new friends. But I was exhausted from the long week….not much time to process.

I returned on Friday and Saturday evening there was a party for Mallory and Rob. It is fun to celebrate their up coming marriage. It was wonderful to visit with friends and family and it was a great party. We are on the count down with the wedding only 4 weeks away! Today was a little difficult as Mallory and I were looking thru photo albums for a DVD presentation to play at the rehearsal dinner. Looking thru the years of our lives was hard as I realize that life is over and I miss Joe not sharing the fun with me. I feel like I am processing many different emotions but the good news is I am moving forward.

Did I mention that I went on a date a few weeks ago? It was a wonderful experience and I had fun. I have been talking to my new friend for almost six months and he has been a great friend and a wonderful first date after 33 years with Joe. It takes a lot of courage to start over but I know I must go on. The truth is I have been grieving and letting go for over a year and a half now and I am ready to move on. Like it says in the bible, “forgetting the things that are behind, I press on”. It isn’t easy to move on but Joe is not coming back. I continue to ask God to heal my heart and keep the kids and me moving in the grief process. God is faithful and I have confidence in His ability to heal the broken hearted.

Enjoying His love and moving forward,

Kathleen

Monday, June 7, 2010

Celebration, Closure and Releasing the Pause Button

We are now 5 weeks away from Mallory’s wedding and the fun and excitement is beginning. It is a wonderful feeling to see your kids grow up, excel in their God given talents and love God with all their hearts. Did I tell you all of Mallory’s kids in her class passed the TAKS test? She is wonderful with kids! Austin and Laura came in Saturday afternoon. They are on their way to the next tour of duty he will have going from California to Maryland. All of a sudden my quite house had 5 extra people and two extra dogs! What fun! Saturday evening we were all able to attend a party given in Mallory and Rob’s honor and that was a lot of fun.

Sunday morning was a beautiful morning and was the first opportunity we had had as a family to have some closure with Joe’s ashes. It was Joe’s request that we go to the Guadalupe River and sprinkle his ashes in the river. I remember him saying, “I am a Hill Country man and I love the Guadalupe. The river represents life so sprinkle my ashes there because I will still be living.” That is what we did. It was a sweet time as we all waded into the water, listened to “You Are Faithful” and several other songs that were meaningful. Then Austin and I said a few words. Tears flowed as each of us took turns sprinkling his remains into the crystal clear water. God’s peace covered all of us like a warm blanket and it was a good time of closure. The remainder of the day we spent having fun as a family as we knew Joe would have wanted that.
This morning I got a text message from a friend that said, “enjoy this new day and have a safe trip.” It is a new day in many ways. I boarded a plane to Dallas Texas where I will be a trainer for Christian Women’s Job Corps. A year and a half ago I got my certification as a national trainer but have been unable to teach others because of Joe’s illness. I felt like the pause button has been released from my life. As painful as the last week was for me grief wise, I feel like I have had a break thru. I am healing, pressing on and feel God putting more pieces of the puzzle of my life together. I am pursuing something I am passionate about and am excited to train others to do what I do at CWJC.

It is a new season and I am confident in Him and know He loves me dearly. He is a defender of the widows. Did I tell you that our entire neighborhood lost electricity last week but mine did not go out? He is a great husband and cares for me well. Yea God!

Walking in Peace,

Kathleen

Celebration, Closure and Releasing the Pause Button

We are now 5 weeks away from Mallory’s wedding and the fun and excitement is beginning. It is a wonderful feeling to see your kids grow up, excel in their God given talents and love God with all their hearts. Did I tell you all of Mallory’s kids in her class passed the TAKS test? She is wonderful with kids! Austin and Laura came in Saturday afternoon. They are on their way to the next tour of duty he will have going from California to Maryland. All of a sudden my quite house had 5 extra people and two extra dogs! What fun! Saturday evening we were all able to attend a party given in Mallory and Rob’s honor and that was a lot of fun.

Sunday morning was a beautiful morning and was the first opportunity we had had as a family to have some closure with Joe’s ashes. It was Joe’s request that we go to the Guadalupe River and sprinkle his ashes in the river. I remember him saying, “I am a Hill Country man and I love the Guadalupe. The river represents life so sprinkle my ashes there because I will still be living.” That is what we did. It was a sweet time as we all waded into the water, listened to “You Are Faithful” and several other songs that were meaningful. Then Austin and I said a few words. Tears flowed as each of us took turns sprinkling his remains into the crystal clear water. God’s peace covered all of us like a warm blanket and it was a good time of closure. The remainder of the day we spent having fun as a family as we knew Joe would have wanted that.
This morning I got a text message from a friend that said, “enjoy this new day and have a safe trip.” It is a new day in many ways. I boarded a plane to Dallas Texas where I will be a trainer for Christian Women’s Job Corps. A year and a half ago I got my certification as a national trainer but have been unable to teach others because of Joe’s illness. I felt like the pause button has been released from my life. As painful as the last week was for me grief wise, I feel like I have had a break thru. I am healing, pressing on and feel God putting more pieces of the puzzle of my life together. I am pursuing something I am passionate about and am excited to train others to do what I do at CWJC.

It is a new season and I am confident in Him and know He loves me dearly. He is a defender of the widows. Did I tell you that our entire neighborhood lost electricity last week but mine did not go out? He is a great husband and cares for me well. Yea God!

Walking in Peace,

Kathleen

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gaining in Grief

This past week I have felt like I am pressing against a 1,000,000 ton boulder for my new life. Embracing the reality that Joe will not be at my side and my date in all the celebrations for Mallory's wedding and parties has been challanging. Another letting go and loss....but I am going to try to refocus and look for all I have gained from grief and loss.....

Loosing my mother and my husband and walking through the years of letting go of both of them has been the most difficult things I have endured in my life. Watching two people I love dearly slowly leave this world has been incredibly painful but the best teacher I have ever had. In 2003 my vibrant outgoing mother was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Overseeing her care for six years and watching the disease that was in her brain change her prepared me for the news in 2009 that my husband of 30 years had Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Nine months to the day after diagnoses, he died. Dealing with both of these losses has taught me so much and I am forever grateful. It has taught me how to lay down my life for another, much about medicine, and about who God is in the midst of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. It has also taught me about God’s goodness to me. God has poured out His love and blessings in so many ways. It has also taught me how to love unconditionally and to love for better or for worse when nothing is returned. It has shown me a strength inside of me that I didn’t know was there. I have learned to live from the inside out. I use to live by circumstances but now I live by my values and circumstances do not determine if I have a good day or not. It has also shown me my own short comings that I need to work on It is easy to become self centered when life falls apart and I have seen that in myself and tried to change my self centeredness. Care giving for seven years has shown me how to set boundaries to protect myself. It has taught me to overcome and how to live life abundantly instead of being overcome by circumstances. Too many people let life’s hardships stop them and they live in yesterday. But I have been in an intense training of pressing on and learning to live present future. Yesterday is gone and I cannot change it. I must press on for the destiny God has for me even though I have had to pack my dreams away. I have also expanded my sphere of influence. I know so many more people because of these hardships and the difficulties and overcoming in them has given me a new authority in life. Fear does not intimidate me anymore. After watching tumors grow on the man I loved, nothing scares me. God has seen me through the darkest hour and I have learned to trust God more. A new confidence defines me now and I hold things loosely knowing anything I think I have is only a temporary gift from Him. Grief can be a great teacher when we embrace it and determine to not waste and welcome the uninvited guest that knocks on our door.