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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So, I made it through year one. It was almost a relief once I got to Sunday.  The anticipation was a kicker. In some ways I do feel like, "okay, moving on now" Like I have permission to keep going like that first year is some magic number and I made it through. So, now what? I guess we'll see. I did one thing that is a baby step - I put away my wedding ring and I'm wearing the claddagh ring Andy used to propose. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I took my ring out of the cleaner last night before I put it away with Andy's ring and I did feel sad. This chapter of my life. I can't believe it's over. My ring looked so shiny, like it did when we got married. So very, very sad. You know, it feels like the bottom drops out of my insides and I take a deep breath and I don't fill up. That's what it will be. This sadness, and I still keep moving. One year ago Monday was the most surreal day of my life (Andy died late the night before) and to think of all that has happened this year. Crazy. I am grateful for all the love and support we have gotten. I have certainly realized how important it is to let people know I am thinking of them, praying for them.  The cards and notes I got helped me immeasurably.  This is one lesson I learned and I am grateful for it how important it is to let people know you are thinking of them.  To reach out an encourage others.  To try to give people a little hope when perhaps they are struggling with despair.  I read a quote today that said, "if hope and despair were two paths to the same destination, which would you rather travel?"  I choose hope. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

What is Strength?

What exactly constitutes strength?
 Is it being able to lift large shrubbery? 
Withstand intense pain? 
Hold fast to one's principles?

www.dictionary.com defines strength as:
1. the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
2. mental power, force, or vigor.
3. moral power, firmness, or courage
I've actually always prided myself on being physically strong.  I'm the youngest and the only girl in my family so maybe I felt I had to prove myself.  Growing up I was very insecure so maybe I protected myself by never needing anyone's help.  I will say now that's a lonely, fearful way to live.

I will say that I still love the way my body feels when it is strong.  It's one of the reasons I exercise, I like pushing my limits, seeing how far I can go and going farther than I thought I could. 

But being able to beat my 15 yr old and his friends arm wrestling isn't really what I believe defines true strength.  It is fun though:) 

I have learned much of spiritual strength these past years.  I would say the past year specifically.  When Andy, my husband of over 17 years fell over the edge of reason and took his life, I went into hyper-drive.  In a zombie like state I told my four children their father was dead and by his own hand.  I made funeral arrangements, planned the service, greeted countless people at his memorial service (yet only a handful of the 600 who attended), took over the financial mess that is left when a spouse dies, took my children to swim lessons, went on three family vacations, cleaned out the house and garage, sold all that stuff and...generally "handled it".

I was not alone.

I had help with every single one of those things that "I" did.  I was, in fact, not "strong", I was a mess.  If I had a dime for I was told how "strong" I was/am, I'd have a good start to a college fund:) 

No, what I learned about strength is that it is not a solitary thing.  I am not strong by myself.  I had and still have the invaluable support and help of family, friends, counselors, and the prayers that are heard by God who loves me.  In fact, I firmly believe that the prayers of these faithful ones have held me up and sustained me. The very reason my children and I are able to go on with our lives is because people pray for us.  We are not alone.

I still like showing off how strong I am.  I am prideful and stubborn.  I know this about myself.  I very rarely ask for help and when I do its usually "tell me  how so I can go fix it myself".  But God didn't make us to be solitary beings.  He created us to live together, supporting each other, encouraging each other, loving each other.  But my pride and stubborness can't bring my husband back to us.  No matter how many push-ups I do, I can't change the past. 

Strength, as I have come to know it, is crying as I write this.  Real strength is only putting one foot in front of the other, resting when needed, and getting back up again to continue on. 

So I continue on.  I exercise, I cry, I pray.  I even laugh with my children and friends.   I am grateful for God's true strength in my weakness.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

lives shared

"Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above. "

This song came to my mind today.  It is from the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder.  I was in this play in high school and it is a beautiful song.  The reason I thought of it was that the lyrics seemed so appropriate for what I was experiencing.

Today was the last day of the women's Bible study and therefore, a brunch.  A time of eating, visiting and reflecting on the past year's lessons and prayers.   They even have a little drawing with prizes to make it fun.  It suddenly dawned on me, as I sat there looking around, surrounded by all these women sharing, laughing, loving each other.  It struck me how very many lives were represented in that room.  Not just the women themselves, but their families; their children, parents, all those who came before them and all those who would come after. 
This was a room filled with the pain of tragedies suffered, victories enjoyed, blessings bestowed.  These women of faith have endured and will endure even while glorifying the one true God whose love binds us all together. 

A celebration of Life. 

"I will give you all my worship,
I will give you all my praise."

It almost ovewhelmed me to feel how truly grateful and priviledged I am to be a part of such a community.  The common bond that women share of lives, loves and loss.  How vital these bonds and friendships are to our sanity.
The next time you are in a room of people, be it at church, the store, school, any event, look around and remember that God loves every single one of them.  Know that within them all lies strength and endurance.  No matter who they are, God's love and hope resides in each of them.  Our lives are bound to each other in this life experience.  We need never feel alone.  We have each other.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New beginnings

Every day is a new beginning.  Lord knows I have had enough of them!  I've thought long and hard about keeping a blog, and finally, as I'm near to bursting with all I experience, feel and believe, the choice has practically been taken from my hands.  My prayer is I will find renewed hope as I share those things that make me crazy as well as those things that keep me sane.  May God who loves me beyond my wildest imagination, bless me and all you who join me on this journey. 

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
   my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
   and with my song I praise him.
                                 Psalm 28:7