Category Archives: Hope

When remembering kicks you in the gut and makes you want to scream… But that sounds negative, so how about this; Remembering; even when it’s difficult there is good to be found…

This came up in my time hop today…  

Soooo..IMG_1169

Looks like my hubby’s cancer has returned.         We don’t know the details. We have an appointment Thursday with his doctor.                                        (She has his results from his pet scan)

I’m not sure how I feel.

I’m trusting God.
He’s trusting God.
Because he’s trustworthy….
He’s faithful, he’s good; He is our Father.

No.  Matter.  What.

We need lots of prayers.
Our kids need them…
This is when it gets real y’all.
That whole walking with Christ thing.

Put up or shut up faith.
He’s my Father. I trust him.
Trusting him with my beloved’s life.

Praying for 40 more years with my best friend;  but I’ll take whatever he gives me…Thanks for praying…

He was gone three months later…    

Fast forward almost four years later…

I remember this….
I remember feeling just heartbroken over it…
IMG_0475I remember asking Robert how I would survive without him…
I remember him looking at me and telling me that I would be okay…
I remember not believing him…

I remember telling him that I was angry with him because he had promised me that he would never leave me and yet he was…

He smiled at me and said, “You know I can’t help leaving woman; it’s not my decision.”  I remember him gently wiping the tears from my eyes, even as he lay in his hospital bed that now resided in our bedroom, as the quiet hum of his oxygen tank silently mocked me…

This just couldn’t be happening to him; to me; to us…                                                                                 But sadly, it was… 

It will be four years in August since he died.

Four years of living each day without him…
Four years without the love of my life and best friend.
The person who believed in me when no one else did.

The person who God used to pick up the broken pieces of my life and turn it into something more amazingly beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

If I’d had it my way, I would have remained single and childless.
My life would not resemble anything near what it does today.
Because even in the pain and loss,
there is immense joy and happiness.

God did that.
I didn’t know.
I had no plans to love him.
To be a mom.
To be a wife.
But God knew.

So though my heart still aches for him;
I’m thankful to God for the opportunity that he gave me to love him.

To be loved by him.
To grow through him.
To understand and experience what love really is and means…

I remember how I felt on our wedding day…
How nervous I was.
My shaking hands and his sweaty palms…

I remember how he accepted this single mom and her 8 month old son with no reservations at all…20140215-163211.jpg  I remember how happy he was when he found out a year later that we were pregnant with our first child together; little Robert…  How thrilled he was with each addition to our family…

I remember being embarrassed when he would introduce me to others as his “Beautiful wife Gretchen,” because though I didn’t feel beautiful, he seemed to think I was….

I remember so many things…

But perhaps the thing I remember most is how much he loved Jesus.  And because of that,  he knew how to love me.

I remember…

I’ll always remember…  

How will people remember you?  

I pray that you’re living a life that is full of amazing memories.

In the end, that’s really all you leave behind for those that love you…
Leave some good ones friend…
Some really, really, good ones…

Be blessed.

P.S. If this has spoken to your heart, please share with those that you know and love.

Advertisements

Thinking out loud aka Random thoughts from a widow…

I share alot.
Rob always thought I shared a bit too much.
He may have been right in his assumption, I process things by discussing them. img_1789
Since I no longer have my husband to talk to and hash things out, I have a few close friends who have the honor of hearing all of my “stuff…”
Like all the time.
Lol. (Thanks friends)

None the less, I still share here because, well, I’m me…
It’s kind of what I do.

So here are a few things on my mind…
While I am still grieving, I am not drowning or wallowing in my grief.

I have a wonderful life.
I’m extremely blessed.
But the fact of the matter is, I will likely never stop missing my husband.
He was my best friend and the love of my life.
I’m sure this will cause problems in future relationships, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I will probably always talk about him or post about him on significant days, but I’m not pining for him.
I know where he is.
He was a strong believer who loved God immensely.

But lest you feel sorry for me, know that I’m ok.
I just still miss him and love him.
I don’t know what the Lord is going to do with me, but I trust him.
I don’t know if I’ll remain single or end up married again and honestly, I’m not worried about it.  I’ve always been okay being on my own.
I was before Robert and though I miss him, I’m not going to die being single.

I’ve been single for three years.
I’m waiting on the right man if there is such a thing; and no not a perfect man or a replicated Robert, but someone who loves Jesus and likes Star Wars and the Avengers and hopefully likes to read.

(I know, I’m deep like that)

Life is short.
I plan on living whatever time the Lord allows in the best way possible.
So my plan is to be thankful.
Thankful for my family.
My children.
My mother who is still alive and sows into me still.
My friends who love me and support me.
My Dad Jimmy who blesses the socks off of me.
My oldest sons who drive me crazy and make me laugh so hard until I cry.
My littles, who still enjoy the little things and make me smile daily.
My ten year old who challenges me daily and warms my heart in the very next moment.
The sweet and tender memories I have of my husband.
Our fights, our laughter, our tears and our joys.

All of it.
Everything.

Folks, my life changed in a most horrible way so many years ago. It started with a mysterious stomach ache and led us to live in hospitals and deal with teaching our children an ugly lesson about the word cancer.

Things change so quickly and often without warning.

Because of it, today, I am a different person.
I’m just not the same and that’s okay as well.

The difference in the old me and the me of today, is that I truly realize that it’s not each day that is a gift; it’s each moment.

Seize each moment.
Each boring, mundane, exciting, tumultuous and crazy moment this life offers up to you. Take a picture of it in your mind.
Breathe it in and breathe it out.
Thank God for it, because the moments don’t last forever.

Even the hard stuff. That passes as well, thankfully.

Above all, Remember that He’s always there with you.
Through everything. Every. Thing. Always.
He said he would never leave us nor forsake us, and God is the only one who has never lied to me as far as I know.

Ok.
I’m done now.
You read a lot.
You deserve a treat.
Go grab some coffee or chocolate and then throw some glitter in the air.
It makes everything better!

I don’t want to get over him…

imageI’ve come to realize over the past few weeks, that I don’t want to get over my husband.

While I realize that my statement may alarm my family and friends, stick with me for a minute.

You see, I was of the mind that the only way I would ever get over my husband was by meeting someone new. A new relationship would allow me to get over him, and enable me to move on with my life.

Recently, I’ve come to a new understanding.

I loved my husband. We were best friends. He was everything to me. I still love my husband despite the fact that he’s been gone for three years. I never entered into our marriage with the idea that I wouldn’t love him for the rest of my life.

I understand that he’s gone, I know that he died and that he’s not coming back, but does that magically mean that I’m supposed to tell my heart to stop feeling?

His absence from my life has no bearing on the way that I feel about him.

I don’t want to get over my husband because what we had was real.

We were friends. We respected each other. We loved each other. We genuinely cared for one another. He protected my very fragile heart and provided a safe place for me to rest in his arms.

We were passionate and silly…                    We laughed until we cried. We argued and fussed and made up and cuddled and talked about a future that involved our grandchildren… We dreamed together, and in the end, we mourned that we would not be allowed to finish this life together.

I’m not holding onto the past; I’m simply saying that it’s ok for me to still love my husband and not be interested in dating or starting a new relationship. Yes I’m human, and I get lonely from time to time.

However, to be honest, I’m lonely for Robert.  I’m lonely for my husband.

I miss his deep voice, and the way he called me “girl,” as if he failed to see the gray wisps of hair that had begun to pop up in my head… I miss the way he would complain about giving me foot rubs, but would massage my feet anyway.

I miss a thousand things about my husband.

The way he would get up in the middle of the night and say, “You need to come to be woman, you know I can’t sleep without you.” (I’ve always been a night owl.)  I miss his laughter that always made me smile and laugh and his amazingly beautiful smile that lit up his entire face and reminded me of how much I loved him. We truly enjoyed each other.

I miss my man. He was such a good guy. So yeah, I don’t want to get over him.  I just want to live my life in a way that would make him proud.

I hear him telling me I can do this, as he so often told me when I doubted myself. I imagine his smile when our children say or do something funny…  I hear him telling me to stay close to God and to continue seeking Him.  Until his death, I hadn’t realized how much I learned from my husband. How much my broken heart healed in loving him.

Lest you be dismayed, if God brought someone in my life, I would listen to Him and give someone a chance. But to be real with you, my priority is and will always be raising my children. They come first and I would be okay in choosing to live a life alone.

I have had the kind of love that people write about. The kind of love that movies depict and people dream of…. It was ordained by God and blessed by Him.

Why would I want to ever get over a love like that?  I don’t. And you know what? That’s ok.

Be blessed friends…  IMG_0296

 

I hate my life, which is a weird title, and hate is a strong word, so how about “I’m generally unsatisfied with my current life status…” (Is that better?) 


This looks weird. I know… 

But it’s how I’ve been feeling lately. As if I’m walking through life with my eyes closed… Afraid to look at what’s happening around me, paralyzed and unable to really participate in my own life. 

The truth is, I know I’m very blessed. Like really really blessed. But there are moments when it all just seems like too much. Its not just being a single mom, it’s all of it. All of life.  More succinctly, all of life without Robert. 

It’s been almost three years since my husband died and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. I feel like I’m walking in the dark without him. I’m playing at life without really being a part of my own life. 

I feel like I’m almost sleepwalking through life. 

I’ll be honest with you… I don’t like my life…  I realize that sounds bad.  Let me clarify… I don’t like my life without Robert. It just doesn’t seem right with him not here. 

He was my best friend. He was my person.  He was the person that I shared everything with. Every thought, every emotion, every pain and every joy. 

I miss that. A lot. 

I envy people who are married… I envy those whose husbands come home at the end of the day… 

I miss my five o’clock kisses in the kitchen. His deep voice asking me about my day. His texts to say that he loved me just because. I miss us laughing together and our long deep conversations.  I miss our long talks after church discussing the sermon of the day. 

I miss him. 

My best friend, my husband, my heart, my boy, my man…

My everything rolled up into one person. 

I don’t like my life without him at all. I’m just being transparent here.  I wish I could magically change the past and make the last five years disappear. However, I know I can’t do that. 

So here’s what I’ve decided to do… 

While I don’t like my life without Robert, I’m going to trust that God knows what He’s doing despite my feelings.  

I’m going to create a life that I love.  

I’m going to raise my kids and enjoy them. I’m going to dance in my kitchen and laugh at myself…  

I’m going to go on long walks and stay up late on the weekends and camp out in my backyard with my kids…  I’m going to have the life with my children that Robert and I talked about for so many years. 

I don’t like my life… But I’m going to learn how to love it anyway. 

I know that’s what my husband would want me to do.  I know that’s what God wants me to do. 

I know that’s what I need to do. 

So excuse my weird picture…  And my ramblings. Here’s to walking through life with opened eyes… Here’s to creating a life that you love even if you don’t like your circumstances… We can do this… God says we can, and he like; knows stuff.   

I double dog dare you to love your life.  😘😉

Be blessed… 

Dance with me…

IMG_4447

We used to dance in the kitchen.

Me and the kids…

Me and Rob…

I’d always try to get him to slow dance and he would; for about a minute; and then break out in his Kappa Kappa Psi (his college fraternity) moves, circling around me as I glared at him and laughed.

That’s back when we used to laugh a lot. 

We still laughed after cancer; but it wasn’t as free or pure.                                                                 It was laughter with the reality that maybe we didn’t have as much time to laugh together as we’d once hoped.

Fast forward four years…

The dancing had stopped.

The laughter was stilted.

And then something just seemed to happen and the golden joy of laughter returned.                             The dancing began again.                                                                                                             Hope came home and unpacked it’s bags;                                                                                 laughter soon followed, apologizing for being gone for so long.

We didn’t realize how much we’d missed them until they’d returned.

The smiles became genuine again…

The laughter returned, deep and loud….

Music began to play and the insatiable desire to move to the melodies overcame us.

Joy overtook us…

Like a faint memory of a life long gone, we began to remember…

To remember the good things…                                                                                                     The pure things…                                                                                                                         The things that used to make us happy.

We’d always love him.                                                                                                                       We’d always miss him.                                                                                                                     We’d never get over him…                                                                                                               He was too good to ever forget.

But we could breathe again.                                                                                                             And smile.                                                                                                                                       And laugh.                                                                                                                                     And yes, dance...

Be blessed friends… 🙂

Surviving when Life kicks you in the buttocks…

IMG_0296

I know that my title is strange, but my husband always used the term buttocks, so it seemed fitting.  And really, that’s what it has felt like for the past four years.  Like life kicked us in the buttocks.

Like really hard… 

You’ve heard of sucker punches?

Well if there’s a sucker punch for the behind, that’s what it has felt like for quite some time.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I have to tell you a little more about my husband first.  Then maybe the title will make just a little more sense to you and you won’t think that I’m weird or inappropriate.  Or maybe you will; it could go either way.

 He was my best friend.

Someone I could talk to and share my heart with.

He was literally my only guy friend at the time

that didn’t try to push for something more than friendship.

I felt safe with him.

He knew my heart and he got me.

I never imagined that one day that he would become my husband.

But he did. 

It was like a fairy tale.

We never dated.

We never kissed.

                              He was my very best friend and one day he asked me to become his wife.

And I did.

One practice kiss before the ceremony, and a few hours later he was mine.

I was his.

And it was beautiful.

We shared our life and the children came and glued us together. Jobs came and went and a few gray hairs popped up here and there but his beautiful smile still melted my heart, and I seemed to melt his…

He encouraged me, he pointed me to Christ, he loved me, he believed in me; and we were happy.

Happier than I’d ever been before….

Life was good.

We were good.

The kids were getting older, and we grew even closer…

We dreamed together of our future…

A house in the country…

A huge front porch where we would watch our future grandchildren play

as we sipped sweet tea in our matching rocking chairs…

And then he got sick…

A stomach ache…

Which turned out to be colon cancer…

And I got scared.

And he told me to trust God.

So we prayed.

And we believed.

And he died.

For fifteen years, eight months, twenty-nine days,

two hours and fifty-two minutes I was his wife and he was my beloved.

I thought that in the end, our story would be our testimony of God’s goodness.

Instead; it is my testimony of his goodness and faithfulness.

It’s been almost two years since my husband passed away.

Two years.

Two years without hearing his voice, or feeling his arms around me.

Two years without his advice or encouragement.

Two years of being alone without my best friend.

If you’re married; close your eyes right now and imagine that for a few minutes…

Really think of how that would feel.

It’s not a good feeling, I can assure you…

I’m not sure how I’ve survived aside from the grace of God.

You see, He (God) was front and center in our relationship. He was the entire basis of what we were as a couple. He sustained us through a two year battle with cancer that ultimately took my husband home to be with the Lord.

Our five children were part of the equation that got me out of bed each day…

The other part of equation was that still quiet voice that spoke to my heart in the depths of my grief.

People kept telling me that I was strong…

That I was “amazing…”

I felt anything but those things.

I wasn’t strong at all.

I wanted to scream and cry and just disappear from my life.

I wanted to hide from the pain of living without my husband.

How was I supposed to live without the love of my life and my best friend in the whole world?

I’ll be honest… I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to live without him.

It just hurt too much.

The pain was unlike any pain I’d felt in my entire life and I was no stranger to pain.

It was hard.

There were lots of tears during that first year…

And I’ll be honest when I say that I wasn’t always up to wiping their tears when I felt empty and broken inside, myself. But I pushed myself, encouraged their hearts and often cried along with them.

I remember one day while I was cooking, I just broke down in the kitchen… The pain was just too great to bear… This was not supposed to be how things turned out. He should have been walking through the door soon and greeting me in the kitchen with a kiss hello as he did every day since we’d been married. I broke down into tears and slid to the floor… I was no longer the person watching an emotional scene on television; somehow I had become that person…

Because surely this was a movie and not my life…

It couldn’t be…

This couldn’t be real.

And yet there I was, in a crumpled mess on the floor in my kitchen living out every melodramatic crying scene I’d ever watched on tv. Except this was real. There were no commercial breaks or actors involved.

This was my life.

And I was falling apart.

I couldn’t hide my tears anymore and

I couldn’t pretend to be brave any longer…

It wasn’t very long when I felt several sets of arms encircling me… “It’s ok Mommy…. We’re going to see him again.” “Don’t be sad Mamma,” another voice said. “We love you Mom,” yet another much deeper voice urged. “We can get through this together Mamma,” my little one added. I opened my eyes and saw that my children had encircled me… They were repeating all of the things that I’d been telling them. They had listened and they were now encouraging me. They all sat around me on the kitchen floor and we all began to weep. It had been about six months since we’d lost him and the pain was still very fresh.

It was then that I made my decision to live.

I was still here and God obviously had something for me to do.

I had to make that decision to live. I had to decide what kind of life I wanted to live. Was I going to be bitter and angry or live in a constant state of depression? I didn’t want to do either. My children had already lost their father, I didn’t want them to lose me as well.

It hasn’t been easy, but God has been faithful. He has surrounded me with friends who have supported me and my parents who have been there for us as well. He has provided for us financially and emotionally. He is the reason that I get out of bed each day.

I have to be honest.

I wouldn’t have chosen this life.

I still miss my husband. He was and is still the love of my life. But I know that I can survive without him because I know who God is. He has given me the strength to go back to school and work on attaining my Master’s Degree in Counseling. He has given me the wisdom to love these five kiddo’s through their own grief while working my way through mine.

I’m a widow.

It’s still an ugly word to me.

I don’t like it at all.

But I’m also an overcomer. (Thank you Ms. Mandisa) I’m a child of God. I’m a mother. A student. I’m a teacher. I’m a friend. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I am so much more than the word widow allows for… I was his wife and now I’m not.  But I’m also so much more now.  I am a person who knows that people die and bad things happen.  I am a person who knows that life isn’t always fair and that you don’t always get that happy ending that you see in the movies.  But I’m also the person that knows that even though all of that is true that it does not take away from who God is, or what he is capable of…  He is still good, and true and real and merciful.  Because of what I have experienced in losing my husband I am a person who loves harder, feels more, believes more and trusts in God more.

I have survived because I refuse to let my husband’s death be in vain.

God had a purpose in it.

He has a purpose in all that he does.

He has a purpose for me and my children

and his death has birthed some things in us that we didn’t realize existed prior to his death.

How do you survive tragedy?

One day at a time.

Moment by moment…

Each moment; hanging onto God for dear life.

Because no matter what it looks like, he’s always in control. As my husband told me when he was diagnosed with cancer, “Baby, this didn’t catch God by surprise.” “It’s not like he was up in Heaven saying, ‘Oops! Robert has cancer! What am I gonna do?’” “The bottom line babe; is that He knows everything and he doesn’t make mistakes. I trust him. You have to trust him too.”

I don’t think he could have imagined how much I would think back on that conversation.  It has sustained me through some very difficult times.

Whatever it is that you’re dealing with;

good, bad, or ugly;

it hasn’t caught God by surprise.

The reality is that we put God in a box and look at him through our own failings and shortcomings.

Today, almost two years later, I can smile without crying…

Look at his pictures without crying….

And almost begin to dream again.

It’s still not the life I wanted or planned for, but I’m trusting that God knows what he’s doing… Life may have taken me by surprise, but I’m happy to know that God isn’t IMG_6357surprised by any of it.  So while Life may have kicked us both in the buttocks, I’d like to think I’m kicking back now, and that God is here with me, guiding my foot. 🙂

Be blessed friends…

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…

A Life of Simple Joys

Living forward into who we will be.

Living Life Upside Down...

Kids, Life after Cancer, and other general craziness...

JLV College Counseling

Free college admissions and financial aid information and advice

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

Sandy Fecci

finding beauty in the simple things

The Neighborhood

society online's social conscious

Delightfully Directed

Homeschooling Mom!

The Matt Walsh Blog

Absolute Truths (and alpaca grooming tips)

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Fetching the Wagon

and hitching it up for another big trip!

%d bloggers like this: