It’s (Almost) Christmas Time In The City

Or town as the case may be. That is our case since we live in a small city or town.  It does look like Christmas and is that time of year.  It is amazing that Christmas is one week from today.  Are you ready?  I am not but almost.

Yesterday, I bought a few more gifts and took care of a few errands.  Tomorrow, I will mail our cards and a package or two. They are late but at least they are almost finished.  Tonight, we have an Advent supper and service at church. Those are always nice and a great way to prepare for the big day next week and to remember what it is all about.

I still need to wrap everything, get our stuff ready, and buy a few more gifts. And we are waiting for a few items to be mailed that we ordered for special gifts. Just hope they arrive in time.  We are getting close.  And, there is still a small amount of homework and a few items of work and projects that I am trying to finish.

But along with all of the activity and commitments, we are having down time.  We need time to rest so that has to be a part of it.  At times this makes me feel lazy and feel that I am not doing enough.  I am trying to give myself permission to take it easy when I need to.  And at other times, be quite busy.  That balancing act can be a real challenge.

I continue to be a work in progress.  I feel I am failing at some things that haven’t gone as I had planned over the last year.  In other areas, I feel that we are on track.  My priority has been the two of us and our sanity and trying to stay on track with school and work.  Beyond that, I try to my best but often fall short.

This is our second Christmas without Kirk.  Part of me feels festive but part of me is lost and sad that he again isn’t here to celebrate with us.  Last year, I was still very numb and in disbelief of his loss.  This year, I more clearly feel the loss and will miss him and all of the fun that we had over our 20 years together.  I will miss our traditions that he always made a lot of fun.

I am looking forward to having time with our loved ones, to seeing Ian’s excitement over the gifts, the food, and time to relax and not have our busy routine for a few weeks.  I am taking several days off to be with him.  I am so looking forward to that.  We plan to see the new Star Wars movie, have time with friends and family, and maybe play a game or two.  We will spend days in our pajamas and laugh about something funny that we have heard about or watched on a show.

And, we will take pictures — that is if I remember to this time.  We also will continue to talk about his dad, laugh about jokes that he liked to tell, look at pictures of the three of us and him with other family and friends, and remember how blessed we were to have him in our lives.  Kirk loved being a dad and was very proud of his son.  And, I know that he loved me and that means the world.

Some of the seasonal things we are already enjoying are:

  • Special Christmas music by our choir – we did 5 songs this past Sunday — my family came to sing with us and that was an amazing blessing.
  • Advent calendars that are opened each day – one from church with scriptures and candy and the other a Lego Harry Potter set — this has been fun each day for Ian and for me.
  • Christmas movies and shows – we have seen a few of these on the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Network — but want something other than just a love story.
  • Our city’s Christmas parade – we watched that with our neighbors and received a lot of candy from those in the parade.
  • Hot chocolate and candy canes — two of my favorites chocolate and mint; also hot chocolate is great to enjoy with popcorn.
  • “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” by Andy Williams — this is my favorite holiday song performed by one of my all-time favorite singers.
  • Silent Night, Holy Night – a favorite hymn that I enjoy singing.  I have a pin that states, “All Is Calm, All is Bright” that I like to wear this time of year.
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band-Aid — a song released in 1984 to raise money for several causes.  It is a bit sad but lovely.  And, it touches on the suffering and pain that people are dealing with, regardless of the time of year.
  • “Mary, Did You Know?” – a very moving song that our choir sings on occasion.
  • The “White Christmas” movie — my favorite movie for Christmas with great songs, a fun story and a lot of funny moments.  I usually sing along with every song.
  • “Elf” the movie — one of the funniest Christmas movies.
  • Rudolph and Frosty — two childhood favorites that I still enjoy watching each year.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas — I just love the Peanuts gang and all of their quirks. and unique personalities.  And you just have to love that little old tree and the real meaning of Christmas.

We hope that you have a great Christmas, have time with your loved ones, and can truly enjoy the meaning of the season.

May you have love, peace, kindness, and respect in your life and may you be blessed.

Jesus is the Reason For The Season.  Merry almost Christmas!!!!

On Prayers and Grief

On this first Wednesday of September, I have a lot on my mind. I have many prayer requests and there are many people in need of healing, comfort, and so much more.  I have seen on the news that lives have been forever changed by Hurricane Dorian.

I cannot even imagine how the residents of the Bahamas are feeling today.  I would imagine devastated, shocked, gutted, and perhaps angered. They have to rebuild everything and make sure their loved ones are still alive.  My heart goes out to them and breaks for them.

In times of tragedy like this, I turn to prayer. Also in times of loss, need, and praise, I turn to prayer. I talk to my Savior about things on my mind and ask for healing, comfort, answers and things to happen. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.  And other times, there is waiting that must be done.

Two nights ago, I was mulling over this blog on answers to our prayers and how to write on this subject. I realized that some people may not like or agree with what I write.  I also realized that there are several answers that the Lord gives to our prayers — yes, no, wait a while.  I don’t know about you but some of those answers are hard to deal with.

Prior to Malachi’s death in 2016, we were praying for his healing. We prayed for him to be fine and for him to grow to be a fine young man. I dreamed about Ian and Malachi going to college together.  Sadly, that was not to be.  Seems the Lord had other things in mind.

Then, when Kirk was whisked off to the hospital on his last day, I prayed and prayed for him to wake up and be okay. That too, for reasons I still don’t understand, was not to be. It was merciful he was taken so quickly and painlessly without suffering (at least that I could tell). On the other hand, we didn’t have time to say goodbye.  And, that hurts.

Now, they are both in Heaven and part of the saints who have gone before us.  There is comfort in that.  There is comfort also in knowing that I will see them both again.  Still, I wish I could see them again here and give them both a hug.

Scripture states that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord who are called according to His purpose.  But, regarding Kirk’s sudden death, I have to say that I am not there yet.  I still have too many questions, too many doubts, and a lot of pain.  I can’t yet see that things will be good without him, just very different.

Because of my faith, I know the Lord is always faithful and is with me no matter what.  But at times, I want to scream at Him that I don’t want to feel what I am feeling, I don’t want this pain, and I don’t want the suffering that goes along with a loss. 

I then ask “why me?” when I should be asking “Why not me?”  After all, death is a part of life and the circle of life.  Birth, living, and dying are what everyone will go through.  We will all have to deal with loss, grief, pain, and many changes.

I was told once that we shouldn’t question God.  I do not agree with that.  I think He can handle my questions.  And, I am sure that He expects doubts and people having trouble with terrible things in their life.

I know that some pastors preach that everything is good and you will have abundant blessings when you are in God’s will.  Perhaps, but not always, so I have to disagree.  Terrible things can and do happen to everyone.  Pain that seems unbearable at times is part of life. And grief and any kind of loss or scare can take its toll and lead to doubts.  Despite all of that, the Lord is there.

The promise I grew up learning is that no matter what we are dealing with, the Lord is  there with us.  And we are taught in church to pray without ceasing.  I have tried to do more than I used to and am seeing what that power of prayer can be.  Still, I don’t always understand the answer.

For the past year, I have been helping to lead a prayer group of parents from our church.  We meet monthly to discuss things, share prayer requests, and pray together.  My praying out loud has improved and was something that used to really scare me.

For me, more than anything, this is a support group and a group to learn from.  All of us are on a journey with our children, just in different phases of it.  We can help each other, we can support each other, and we can lift each other up. This group and their children mean a lot to me.  Their concerns and struggles also mean a lot.  What we share remains among us.

I may sound like I’m rambling or doubting my faith. I don’t mean to.  Instead, I have been trying to make sense of the most pain and loss I have ever dealt with.  I have many comforts, those who are supportive and helpful, and that is great.  And yet, I know this won’t be the last time I deal with a painful loss.

I hope that just as my friends, family, and prayer group are helping me, I hope I can help someone else.  It would be nice if we could talk more about our losses and our grief.  It is a hard thing to do, but is important.

I will continue to pray.  I will also continue to try to accept the answers, even when they are those that I don’t want to hear.  I will try to be there to listen to others and share what I need as well.  And I will always love.

I hope that if you are grieving, you have someone to share with, a faith to rely on, and prayers.

Monday The 26th…

Monday is the 26th of August.  It is a day that I think is going to be tough for me.  You see, it is the first 26th of a month on a Monday since the month that my husband passed away.  I looked it up in the calendar and have to say, it is an odd thing to discover.  Then again, these days, there is a lot of that.

The day he passed away is one that I will never forget but is a bit fuzzy in a few places. I was in such shock that a lot didn’t register.  But that date and day of the week will continue to stick with me, as I am sure it does for everyone who loses a loved one.

For most of the week, I am pretty good and can concentrate on the positives that I still have in my life.  But, Mondays are always the hardest since that was the day that he died.  I often think over the events of that terrible morning and am saddened.

This Monday, I had lunch out with some of Kirk’s family.  It was wonderful to visit and catch up and talk about him for a little while.  His loss has been hard on all of us.  We all have funny stories about him and enjoy sharing them.   And we also share the tears. They will always be family for myself and for Ian.

This coming Monday, I will need to find some things to keep my mind busy and occupied.  I don’t want to over think it or think too much about it, and yet, I just might.  And, today, in anticipation of it, I am feeling like I just want to sit and be sad, watch a movie, and think about Kirk.

However, I cannot spend all day doing that.  I need to work, have a few commitments, and Ian will be home this afternoon for the weekend with homework to focus on.  Also, we have books to return to the library and a video as well, and we may eat out at a favorite restaurant.

I will have some down time though since that is important.  Some days I feel like I am not doing enough.  I am still working out things from his loss, still have things that I fail at, still have a house that isn’t quite up to Kirk’s standards, and some days am quite distracted from the responsibilities.

Overall though, I feel good about what I have been doing and how things are progressing.  I am not perfect and am only one person.  I am not nearly as driven as he was but am trying to stay motivated.  And, I also know that I need time for myself and time to rest.  I just have to remind myself that is okay.

This week, I watched an interview of Stephen Colbert by Anderson Cooper.  They talked about both having lost their fathers when they were boys.  It was interesting that both of them were about Ian’s age.  It was touching to hear both men talk about how this event shaped their lives. They also said how important it is to hear from others who are also grieving and share that experience.  They added that we all will grieve at some point in our lives.

I know a lot of people don’t like either of them, but I was touched to hear this conversation.  They didn’t have to discuss it, yet, it was on both of their minds.  Cooper said that many people don’t discuss grief and don’t often know how to approach it with those who have known loss.  His mother recently passed away so it is fresh to him.

He said it has helped hearing from others who have also suffered loss.  I agree and very much appreciate all of the friends and family who have shared their losses with me.  Many of us are on this journey of rebuilding our lives after a loss.

Despite all of the pain and loss that we have, we also have many blessings.  It is a blessing to be able to work at home and be here when Ian gets home from school.  I like being able to help him with his homework.

Our family and friends are also blessings.  We enjoy spending time with them, but still need time to ourselves.  I appreciate the loved ones who have reached out to us and continue to support us.  If I haven’t been the best friend or relative, I apologize.  Some days, it is all I can do to get dressed and take Ian to school.

Today I am thankful for:

  • Ian taking the last dose of his antibiotic this evening.  He has had an ear infection and will be able to eat more normally tomorrow.  We are happy and he knows exactly what he wants.
  • Times with my family laughing, talking, sharing a meal, and a prayer circle.
  • Dining out and long conversations with friends.
  • Buying a Monopoly game about my hometown this morning.  I look forward to playing this with family and may give it as a gift to a few loved ones.
  • Our routine that we are slowly getting back into.
  • Books and our local library.  I enjoy the adventures of someone else’s life and the distraction from my own thoughts.
  • Pictures of me with my two best guys that we have around the house.
  • Ian and I laughing over a funny expression, a funny face, being tickled, or a favorite joke.
  • Having had 20 amazing years with a man who loved me unconditionally and who I loved the same way.  He was and continues to be such a blessing.

For those of you grieving, I hope you have people to support you through the tough times and to share the happy ones.  I also hope that you have a faith to help you through it all.

Blessings to you and yours for a great weekend!  May you have time to be refreshed if that is what you need.  May you enjoy the company of others if that is what you need.  May you wallow for a while if that is what is needed.  And may you always, always love!

Joy and Sadness

This morning I read a quote to choose joy.  The quote added that life isn’t always great but that we can decide to be joyful and have things be okay.  While I like this idea very much, I find that lately I have joy and sadness together.  That is the norm after grieving the loss of a loved one, at least it is for me.

Being both happy and sad at the same time is confusing, odd, painful, but only too real at this point in my life.  I continue to be sad at our loss but also am happy that I have our son to share the journey with.  He continues to impress me, motivate me, and makes me laugh. So, he helps to make me joyful.

Some things that make me joyful are a lovely sunrise or sunset, or a laugh with a friend, or a delicious meal, or a chat with my family, or a favorite song, or a great book that I can be lost in.  There is a lot of good still in life along with the loss, the pain, and the sorrow.  For that I am thankful.

This summer was all about trying to find some joy and I think we succeeded.  We had interesting adventures with clients and their children, had some time to play, had time to relax, had time to have fun, and had time to mourn.

As the Bible states, there is a time to every purpose under Heaven.  Each thing both good and bad, happy and sad has its place.  Just trying to navigate that sometimes is tough and can hurt so very much.  Other times, we laugh over favorite memories, a funny story, or a cherished photo.

We continue to have mixed emotions as I am sure everyone does 8 months after the sudden loss of someone who meant so very much.  Even it if isn’t sudden, the absence takes a long, long time to accept and get used to.  And frankly, I am not there yet.

Instead, we try to have the absence be a part of our life.  We talk about Kirk, we laugh about Kirk and his jokes, we celebrate Kirk’s birthday at a restaurant that he would have liked, we look at pictures, and talk about what we think he is doing in Heaven.

We cry, we scream, we grieve, we miss him, and we are thankful for the times that we did have.  We are blessed to have known him, blessed to have loved him.  I feel so blessed to have been his wife and Ian is blessed to have had him as his father.  He was an amazing man, with flaws and so much love.

We also know that he would want us to carry on and continue to live a good life.  I do believe that he is with us and watching over us and that is a comfort.  Still, I do want to talk with him one last time.  I want to tell him I love him and give him a hug.

I took this photo this morning during a walk. It made me joyful. It looked to me like a window into Heaven through the clouds. I looked up and said hi to Kirk.  Maybe odd, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. So, again some joy through my tears.

I read a headline of an article that states that it is helpful for those grieving to talk to the one they lost.  I don’t know about anyone else but I do that regularly.  I talk with Kirk about something that Ian did, I ask him to forgive me, I tell him I love him, I tell him how missed he is and how loved he still is.  I just wish there was an answer back.

For those of us grieving, may we be comforted by our memories, may we know how much love there was between us and the one(s) we lost, and may we know that happiness with sadness is okay and to be expected.

I did want to share that scripture that came to mind.  The time for every purpose under Heaven is in Ecclesiates 3: 1-8, which states:

  • “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  • ” A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  • ” A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  • “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  •  “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  • “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  • “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  •  “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

May we find our purpose, may we be kind to one another, and may we always, always love.