Category Archives: honoring God

What does love look like? 

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It’s February, and sometime right after Christmas little hearts and red heart shaped boxes full of chocolates and goodies started popping up everywhere. It’s close to Valentine’s Day and restaurants everywhere will be chock full of lovers set out to celebrate their love soon.

I suppose that’s what made me start thinking about it.

What is love really? Is it demonstrated by cards and letters and gifts proudly passed through the hands of those who declare their love? Or is it something more?

I think we’d all agree it’s definitely more.

When my husband lay on his death bed weakened and unable to communicate with me, I sat by his bedside and prayed…  I wiped the sweat from his brow and read him scriptures that I knew brought him comfort.

His body, once strong and healthy, was left weakened and frail. He was never a small man by any means of the word, but he had lost so much weight that he didn’t resemble the strong muscular army private I had married.

I was losing him. Each day, I lost a little more and my heart broke just a little more with each passing moment…

In those private moments that no one else saw, I discovered after almost 16 years of marriage what love was.

I was washing his body in the bathtub as he sat on a shower chair when he could no longer stand, him apologizing to me, and me telling him I’d punch him in the face if he apologized again. Because, “This is what we do hon, we take care of each other. You’d do it for me. Now stop apologizing.”

You see, he felt bad that I had to help him. He was a proud man. He didn’t like asking for help. The thing is, I wanted to be the one who was there for him.

I loved him, and while he was no longer healthy and had little to offer me (his words not mine) and things were really really hard; I promised him when we were married that I would be there for him always. I was going to keep my word to my beloved.

In the weeks to follow Robert lost the ability to talk. I didn’t think I could mourn losing him before he died, but there it was. My heart was slowly crumbling and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the heartache of losing my very best friend in the whole world.

One day in particular when he was bedridden, there was a mix up with the  nurse who was supposed to come and bathe him. I was aggravated at the nurse, and I was worn out from little to no sleep. I had taken to sleeping on an air mattress at the end of his hospital bed so that I could be close to him if he needed me.

I asked him if it was okay if I bathed him, knowing how he must feel at not being able to do anything for himself. He nodded with what little strength he had.  I gathered my supplies, a bowl of warm water, soap, a wash cloth and towel, and I began to gently wipe his broken body.

In that moment, as tears streamed down my face, I felt the Lord very clearly say to my heart, “This Gretchen. This is what love is. You have loved him well.” I don’t know why God chose that moment to explain to me what love was, but I’ve never forgotten it.

Love is not always something that is shiny or glittery or easy. Sometimes it’s hard and ugly…. I could have walked away from my husband. People do it all the time when there are situations that are too hard to face. I chose to walk closer to him.

Watching my husband die was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do… (And I’ve experienced some hard things in my life) However, I know that despite the difficulty of seeing my husband in immense pain, he knew that I loved him. He knew that I was hurting as well, but I never allowed that to interefere with my care for him.

I’ll be honest. There were times when I wanted to run away, hide from cancer and the world and everything. But the thing is, I wanted to take him with me.  Leaving without him was never an option.

Love is ultimately a choice.

We choose who we love, how we love and if we love each other well. Selfishness is the opposite of love. Loving a person means that you put them before yourself or your own feelings and hopefully they do the same for you.

In my marriage that was the case. We were never this perfect couple who did everything right, but we worked through our issues and chose to allow our difficulties to strengthen our marriage.

It’s been almost three years since my husband passed away. There’s not a day that I don’t think about him… The blessing of that is that I’m not filled with regret.

I served him well, we loved each other well, and I am honored to have cared for him until he took his last breath. While it was difficult, I chose to focus on him and not myself. My needs could wait, because he needed me. I have no regrets aside from wanting more time with him.

Because we chose to love to God first, we were able to love each other.  I am thankful and honored that God allowed me to love him and be loved by him. Choosing to love my husband was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Love is a choice.  Choose well.

Messages from God

It’s 11 pm…

I’ve had a great day for the most part. A few bumps in the road in terms of my temper tantrum boy.  My perpetual frowner of the family keeps me on my toes and on my knees in prayer most days. I taught some writing classes to some amazing kids, (kids that are not mine, but I’m blessed to be able to teach) got to see a friend that I haven’t had spent much time with lately, took my littles out to ride their scooters, cooked a pretty good dinner that four out of five kids actually ate, permed, straightened and styled my daughter’s hair, and had a tantalizing conversation with my five-year old wherein she expressed her concerns that I was, “Just too busy and she wants to spend more time with me.”

Big sigh…

It’s so hard to get it all done.

It took a little five-year old to remind me that maybe my priorities are out of whack; that maybe I should concentrate less on my clean house and list of things to do and just get on the floor with her and color and play.  Maybe I should skip that night out with friends here and there and build a tent in her room and eat pizza by the light of a thousand glow sticks.

She was speaking from her heart.

She wants more time with me.

And I’m a stay at home mom…

It made my heart ache.

And then I thought about God.

What about him?  How much time am I really giving him?  Is he feeling neglected?

Does he think I’m too busy?

I think I know the answer to that question.

I know that all we have is right now. 

Right here. 

This moment. 

I realized that when my husband was diagnosed with cancer and our lives were forever changed.

Right now, I’m going to take the time to slow down and enjoy the craziness that is my life.

I’m going to jump on beds, and camp in the backyard and spray my kids with silly string until they laugh so hard they’re in tears.

I’m going to make every moment count. 

Because what I’ve discovered is that in the end,

it’s the memories that you’re left with;

and I would like to leave my children with really good ones.

I’m going to give the first fruit of my time to the Lord and ask him to order my steps.  I’m going to not worry about getting it all done and instead enjoy whatever the Lord happens to bring my way.

I’m going to trust that God knows what he’s doing, and honestly, I don’t think he really cares if my house is spotless or if the laundry is done…

But I know that he cares about the heart of my baby girl

and that he used her to send me a message tonight. 

It’s late…

My kids are literally still awake and chatting away with each other in bed.  If I were a good mom I might reprimand them…

But I think I’d rather just go make a memory…

Excuse me while I go grab my silly string…

Tomorrow’s list of things to do: Make doc appointments, Pick up packages, Type syllabus for class, Call and get quotes on remodel, Finish lesson plans  Go buy glow sticks and order pizza…  (Because that little girl is so much more important than any other thing on my “list” of things to do.)

Message received God…

Message received.

Be blessed y’all. 🙂

My little messenger...

My little messenger…

Traumatized, and disappointed… What happens when married men flirt with me…

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Okay, let’s just face the facts….

I’m single.

There. I said it.

I am a single woman.

I am a single mom.

I am a widow.

Single…

Such a strange concept.  (Well, at least for someone who was in a great marriage for 16 years…)

To be honest, I don’t always like this newfound singleness.  I don’t like not being part of a couple, a twosome, the her of him….  The Gretchen in, “Robert and Gretchen…”

It’s just weird.

What is even weirder is being hit on by men.  (And by hit on, I mean flirted with, innuendos abounding…)  It makes me feel uncomfortable.  It makes me feel like I’m cheating on my husband.

Which of course is silly, because I am, as I mentioned, a widow, after all.  And What is even more weird than being hit on by men; is being hit on by married men.  Wanna get weirder?  How about a married man who espouses to be a preacher?

Whaaaaaat?!?!

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Seriously.  I don’t get it.  It makes my heart hurt.  It makes me angry.  It makes me sad.

Sad that I’m in this position of being a single person.  Mad that any man would disrespect his wife by trying to flirt with another woman, and angry that a man would think because I’m a widow that I would somehow be desperate enough to fall for his despicable flirtatiousness. And then there’s the whole, “Hey, ummm, isn’t it in the Bible that if you’re married you should, umm, act married and if you’re a preacher, you should, umm, act like a true man of God?” (Insert iPhone pic here of the smiley face with wide eyes and open mouth) Smh… (That’s text speak for shake my head… In case you’re wondering…)

I’m single.

I’m a widow.

I’m a single mom.

I get it…

But, those phrases don’t define who I am, because:

I’m a woman of God.

I’m an overcomer (thank you Miss Mandisa)

I’m a lover of God.

I am a new creation in Christ.

I’m not desperate to be loved, because I was loved by my husband;and more importantly, I’m loved by Christ now.  While I will admit, I miss those male infused conversations, I’m not dying to experience romance and love at the moment.  I’m still very much in love with my husband.  The fact that he’s not here has little bearing on my feelings. Don’t get me wrong; I love men.  Men are awesome.  

BUT… 

I don’t need a man so much that I’m willing to compromise who I am in Christ.

So, no, I won’t send you body shots of myself, or engage in highly inappropriate conversations with anyone that dishonors God… Nor will I hesitate to unfriend you on fb if you disrespect me by sending me messages that you wouldn’t want your wife to discover and read.  As a matter of fact, if you’re married, how bout you just don’t send me a friend request; so I won’t have to ignore it.  (Lesson learned the hard way)

What’s the moral of this blog?

Don’t compromise who you are for anyone.

Don’t compromise who you are in Christ for anyone.

Don’t compromise.

So lets review.

I am a single mom (devoted to raising my children unto the Lord….)

I am single, (who will not compromise my beliefs as a Christian for a man…)

I am a widow, (who is an overcomer, dedicated to make God proud of the life that I lead without my husband.)

Those are the phrases that I choose to allow to define who I am.

This is who I am.

This is who I will be; despite what is happening around me.

I am, because He Is….

And that’s enough for me.

P. S.

Dear Mr. Married Pastor  Ex-Fb  friend,

I’m sorry that I had to unfriend you, well; actually I’m not…  But I will pray for you, because pastors, much like Walmarts are not all created equally.  If I were you, I’d reevaluate how you’re choosing to conduct yourself.  I’m pretty sure flirting with people on Facebook is not pleasing to the Lord or your spouse.

And folks, I’m not being ugly here.  This has truly saddened me.  I will be praying for him.  You can too.  God knows his name.

Be blessed friends…

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