Friday, April 29, 2016

I Am an Overcomer

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

As many of you know, my Grandma passed away a few months ago.  She was ready to leave this earth after almost 86 years here, living the good Christian life that she had.  I miss her each and every day.  I miss the quick daily phone calls, just to check up on one another as much as I miss the long, deep conversations we still would often have.  She was my "go to" person in my times of need.  Yes, I was married to Mike and now Kevin, but Grandma "knew" me from birth... all the joys and all the hurt in my entire life.  Because I was raised by my grandparents, I had a deeper relationship with her than most people would with their grandmother.  I could talk with her about anything and she would not necessarily need to give me advice.   Her listening ear was always enough.   She could just listen and say, "oh, honey... oh, honey..."  Just hearing her voice and knowing she loved me like she did was enough. She had a sense of calming to her.  I knew she loved me with all of her heart and could comfort me in my time of need. 

Saying all of that, she is the one who introduced me to Jesus when I was a child.  I have needed Jesus from day one.  I found out just how much I needed Jesus six years ago today when Mike died.  Grandma was the person to call me on that day to tell me the news.  As I traveled down the interstate with excitement to be going on my daughter's fourth grade field trip, I got the call.  I will never forget her words to me.  I thought that day, as I stood along the road, "How am I going to survive?"  I have.  I am a survivor, I am an overcomer.  I have made it to the sixth anniversary of my husband's death, an anniversary I thought was not possible standing there that day.  I couldn't bear the thought of driving home and not seeing my husband again.  How was this possible?  My good life, a great husband with three daughters, living the American dream... boom... gone? 

Grandma became my rock after Mike died, or at least I thought she would, however instead she pointed me closer to Christ.  In my previous blog posts I have mentioned how I seemed to put Mike above the Lord as my rock, until he died.  Grandma knew me, remember, my ENTIRE life... she knew my fears and she knew my needs.  She came in alongside me and helped me, but led me closer to the One who could take my fears away and heal my broken heart.  She didn't try to do it herself.  Being a mom, I know we want to take the pain from our kids, but we can't sometimes.  It's through our relationship with Christ that we can guide the hurt to the Healer.  And, for me, that is what she did.  We would sit up for hours on end sometimes at night (she stayed overnight with the girls and me often) and talk and cry.  There were so many days that I would think, "How could I live without this woman?"  There were times when I never would have wanted to live without her here with me, but I am.  And, I am okay. 

As I go through my day, thinking back on "the day Mike died", I will find a glimpse of sadness in my heart, I know.  However, it's not where sadness stays and resides.  We had a wonderful life together.  I still get to look at our daughters each and every day and see him in them.  I will be praising the Lord today for Mike, my Grandma, and the healing that has happened in my spirit, soul, and body since that day six years ago.  I serve a God that loves me so much and only wants the best for me.  Today, the best for me is being with family and friends that love me and our girls.  A few weeks after Grandma died, my oldest daughter said to me, "Mommy, you are okay.  This isn't like when Daddy died."  It sure isn't, not at all.  Grandma was ready to go to eternal rest; Daddy was raising a family and loving life here. 

Her words made me think about grief, though.  What is "normal" grief?  Everyone grieves differently.  We need to respect that we are all different and that is okay, as long as it is a healthy grief, not staying in the sadness every moment.  I am blessed to have the gift of a second husband, one that comes alongside me during days such as this.  He is not jealous of Mike in any way and is always there with a shoulder to cry on or anything else I need.  With Grandma not being here now, I can walk in faith knowing that I have "grieved well".  Without Mike, and without Grandma, I am a survivor, I am an overcomer. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Twentieth Wedding Anniversary

"A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."
Eph 5:31

Twenty years ago today was a day filled with butterflies in my stomach, hopes, and dreams of being married for the rest of my life to the one I would be saying "I do" to later that day. There was about a foot of snow on the ground and the temperatures were below zero!  But, the day was perfect in every way.

Twenty years of marriage never happened for us.  We were married over fourteen when our wedding vow, "until death do us part" became reality.

Today I will be celebrating the years we had together...alone, without Mike.  Yes, I am remarried and have Kevin here by my side. However, please hear and understand anniversary is between a husband and a wife.  No one else cares about this special day like the two of you.  An anniversary is not like a birthday, not everyone in your family or your circle of friends is as excited about this special day as you and your spouse.  For this very reason, such a big and special day as today is even harder.  I am thinking about the memories of our wedding day and the fourteen years of marriage we had, while no one else on this earth has any idea about it. 

My sweet husband has been so very supportive this past week.  He knew this day was coming and it may be a hard one for me.  He has sent me the kindest text messages and we have had many talks about the marriage that ended too soon.  This morning before Kevin left for work, he told me that he wished that it was him and I celebrating our twentieth  wedding anniversary today, but then he ended with, "we will have many more anniversaries than twenty." 

It's almost unbelievable for me to think about my life the past twenty years.  I feel like I have lived two lives.  Honestly, I do.  Mike and I grew up together, meeting at the age of 19, marrying, and having three daughters together.  Kevin and I are raising those daughters and are growing old together.  All in different towns with different family and friends surrounding us.

I miss Mike and on our anniversary I think about him, our marriage, and the dreams that ended too soon more than any other day of the year.   I will continue to "live his legacy" for years to come with our daughters.  God was so good to us.  I am blessed to have had Mike as my husband.  Today I will reflect on all of the good times and memories we shared. I have confidence we will spend eternal life together with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"The Answer To All My Prayers"

"The Answer Is You"

"As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."  Eph 5:31

Three years ago today, I became a wife again.  My girls and I had been praying for this day to come.  As Kevin put it this morning, it's been the best three years of his life.  Which I couldn't agree more.  You may be thinking, really?  How could she say that and compare the past three years of marriage to her first marriage of fourteen years?  Well, I was just asked this same question at my bible study a few weeks ago.  Kevin and I attended a study by Emerson Eggerichs, "Love and Respect".  The leader asked me if I ever compare Kevin to Mike.  I do, sometimes.  It's all in the difference of how we may solve conflict or raise children.  Neither good or bad either way.  Just different.  I see myself as much more mature in life.  More seasoned.  Not taking life for granted.  Enjoying the small things. It's a different life than I thought I would have, but it's a great life.   It bothers me to talk about our life together to other widows, I have such empathy for the journey they are on.  Such a lonely, hard journey.  However, I remember finding great hope from other widows who had remarried.  So, today...I pray for our story to touch those who need hope like I did and to take the next step.

A few weeks ago, I read a story about a widow remarrying and it really hit home with me.  "I may be remarried, but I'm still a widow. One [marriage] does not cancel out the other. I can be both a wife to a man on this earth whom I love and the widow to a man I fulfilled my vows to - a man I will always love. I [have] loved and lost, grieved and grown, survived and thrived."  To read the rest of the article, you can find it in the Huffington Post by Michelle Steinke.

Kevin and I decided that our wedding would be very small and intimate.  We only had our immediate family with a few close friends there.  Halfway through the ceremony, he surprised me with a song.  A song that he had been preparing for me for our wedding.  He wrote it while he had breaks at work and would jot down lyrics, practicing at night while playing his guitar.  I have the torn up, chicken-scratch paper framed in our bedroom.  He thought it was trash, I thought it was a treasure!  He is very talented and what an amazing shock it was to me that he had written a song for our wedding.  As he started to sing, I was thrilled.  As the song continued, it was such a reflection of our short, yet wonderful life together.  I share this song on my blog today, as many have asked to hear it through the past three years.  It is a treasure to me...and so is he!