November 17, 2016

I Don't Want To....But I Have To

Tonight I realized just what I am struggling with through the early stages of my grief. I am struggling with my stubborn, strong-willed personality that God blessed me with. I am struggling because my personality can get me into trouble some times.....okay 98% of the time my persoanlity has been my downfall. Lately though, it has put me into a mood that can cause me to act like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum saying "I don't wanna" (in a whiny voice) over everything that I am going through. But then I hear another voice say "But I have to" & I try to get out of my mood.

Here is some of the back & forth that has been going on in my head lately:

  1. I don't want to grief over the death of my husband.....but I have to because God was merciful & gracious enough to end Daron's suffering at the perfect time.
  2. I don't want to cry my eyes out at the drop of a hat......but I have to because God created crying for a reason & crying is healing to the soul.
  3. I don't want to read a Scripture verse & sob over my Bible......but I have to because God speaks to me through His Word & it's ok to have tear stained pages. It reminds me of the passages God pointed out to me that He wanted me to read.
  4. I don't want to have my first thought be "Can I handle it?" when someone invites me over for dinner......but I have to check in with myself in order to take care of myself. 
  5. I don't want to think about "using the widow card" if I want to get out of something or say something rude to someone......but I have to think that way so I don't offend anyone with my words or actions.
  6. I don't want to feel left out or out of place when I am in a group of people - especially when it is a group of couples......but I have to in order to spend time with other people & it's ok to be the odd man out sometimes......but I have to because those are precious days to me now & I don't want to miss them.
  7. I don't want to fall to pieces whenever I see a picture of him, a family picture, a picture of us as a couple, our wedding pictures......but I have to because I am remembering those moments frozen in time & they are now precious memories.
  8. I don't want to be a widow......but I have to be because God called me to widowhood. He knows that I am capable of handling this new calling. 
  9. I don't want to have to visit his grave......but I have to in order to respect his memory.
  10. I don't want to dread the sound of Taps, Amazing Grace (on the bagpipes, sung, or played on any instrument)......but I have to because those songs are special to me & to so many others. They are precious songs to me that I hold very close & have new meaning. 
  11. I don't want to look at the American Flag in a display case with his dog tags, medals, picture......but I have to because he served his country & I am very proud of him.
  12. I don't want to cry every time a lyric from our song pops into my head......but I have to because that is the song he chose to share with me as a way to express his feelings for me. 
  13. I don't want to be looked at diffrently......but I have to be because I am a different person now. I am being formed by God into a new person throught this.
  14. I don't want to see people look at me with a loof of pity or sympathy......but I have to because they need to see how I am handling my grief so they can grieve as well.
  15. I don't want to be a single mom of a teeanger......but I have to be because my son needs a mother more then ever right now. God has called me to be his mother & I will continue to be there for him as much as humanly possible right now.
  16. I don't want to raise my son without a father......but I have to & I will be pointing him to his Heavenly Father - one who will never leave him. 
  17. I don't want to have to figure out what part I have in my husbands family now that he's gone......but I have to since this is new territory for all of us. I trust that we will figure this out together with God's help, grace, peace & strength.
God created me with a stubborn & strong-willed personality for a reason & I am thankful that he did. My personality can be a hassle at times, but I think it is one of my better qualities. I am completely living up to my personality through all of this. If I wasn't stubborn & strong-willed I would have caved a long time ago I'm sure. Being a widow has made me a stronger Christian & I believe it is slowly making me a stronger mother & woman.  
What type of personality did God give you? 
Do you consider one of your better qualites? 
Are you living up to the personality He blessed you with?


Next time you want to throw an "I don't want to" tantrum, try to listen to the "But I have to" voice to hear what God is telling you.

May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy

November 13, 2016

Emotions

Let's face it.....women are the more emotional ones of the human race. Some women are more emotional then others. Some women can cry at the drop of a hat. Others keep their emotions tucked deep down inside & won't let anyone see how they feel. They will hold things in & then let them out in the privacy of their own home.

I think I would say that I am in the middle of the emotional scale....or I used to be. Before, if someone confronted me on something I had done wrong, I would go with the flow. I'd explain my side as calmly as possible & move on. Now, I can barely hold myself together. I cry at the oddest things & at the oddest times. I can't control it no matter how hard I try. Sometimes just sitting in a quiet room causes me to burst into tears. It drives me crazy!

People I have talked to tell me it's completely normal & OK to cry. When the tears come I need to let them out & not try to hold them in. I can't do that though. I have a son to think about. He doesn't like seeing me in tears over something small (something stupid he'd say). If he doesn't like when I do that just imagine how he feels when I am uncontrollably sobbing my guts out when my grief catches me off guard. While Daron was still in the home he would tease me about how easily I would start crying. He would never watch a "chick flick" with me because he knew I would start crying. So, since I was teased for so many years about it, it's no wonder I want to hold my emotions in check as best as I can.

Over the past few months since Daron's death I have found it harder to stop the tears. I go to sleep crying. I wake up crying. I cry over dropping something. I cry over a silly commercial. I cry over nothing for no reason other then the tears won't stop. I can't stand it some times. I know that I need to have a real, hard, cleansing cry......but it won't come. Right now I am OK with that. Honestly, I don't want that cry to happen at all if I can help it. I know that doesn't sound right, but that is how I am feeling right now. I don't want to cry! I want the out of control emotions to get back under control so I can function like a normal person again (whatever normal is of course).

I don't like feeling like I have to stay home away from the world because someone might say something that will cause me to cry. Because if I start crying in public I will have to give some sort of explanation. I don't want to tell people that I am widow. I don't want that to be what defines me right now. I don't want to use being a widow as an excuse for anything that I am dealing with right now. Even now my emotions are going crazy. I can't decide if I am frustrated over crying so easily, if I want to cry about it, if I want to scream at myself in anger over it, or if I just want to get a big container of ice cream & feed the crazy emotions.

I know that someday this will get better.......someday my emotions will be mine to control again......someday I will feel like a normal person......someday can't come soon enough.


May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy

November 6, 2016

Hard To Look Back

I have the memories on Facebook set to pop up on a daily basis. Most of the time it is fun to see what I shared on Facebook a year ago, two years ago, etc. Today's memory was not fun to see & I know that the memories to come over the next few months won't be fun either.

One year ago today I posted this....


Prayers needed for wisdom, guidance, emotional/mental/physical strength! Daron is currently undergoing MS testing at a VA clinic near Chicago, IL. He has been there since Tuesday & I just found out yesterday (long story short - privacy laws didn't allow the staff to tell me or his parents after Daron told them not to). I spoke with the social worker there this afternoon & she wasn't sure how long he would be there - normally people are there for this testing for 3-5 days. Part of me wants to drop everything & drive to this clinic so I can know what's going on. The other part of me doesn't want to go so the doctors there can get a full picture of Daron's current state without my added input. Been praying all day for direction & still am not sure what I should do. Please pray that I will see God's will & do what is needed during this time. Thanks!

(You can get more information on what decisions were made by clicking here & reading a post I made.)

That was the beginning of the biggest change in our lives. A month after all of that took place I was told that Daron had about 6 months left on this earth - give or take. Daron made it to 7 months & 27 days after we were given that information. It is hard to think back to a year ago, knowing that we were spending our last holidays & special days with him. Granted, at the time, I didn't want to fully think that way. I knew deep down that God was preparing us to say goodbye, but I wasn't ready & I wanted to be stubborn. I honestly was praying for more time with Daron. Plus, I was realizing just how little time I actually spent with him over the years that he was in the nursing home.

Now, seeing in black & white what I wrote a year ago.....I am thankful for the time that we had with Daron. I may not have gotten out there every weekend like I wanted to, but every minute I did spend with him was precious & priceless. God gave us time to prepare to say goodbye & I am thankful. God gave us time to spend with him & I am thankful. God gave me the strength I needed to get through those times & I am thankful. I pray that I can say the same when I am looking back at this time a year from now. I know that God will remain faithful & keep His promises to me. For that I am thankful!

May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy

October 30, 2016

Precious Memories

Lately I have been thinking about a lot of different things. It seems my head can't stop spinning & remembering different things. I will wake up in the middle of the night with thoughts I can't control. Some times those thoughts are happy memories of Daron. Some times they are odd thoughts about work. Some times they are thoughts that bring tears to my eyes. All of the time they are thoughts that bring me to prayer. They bring me to the feet of my Father who loves me unconditionally & I am thankful for that.

When I can't sleep because Daron is on my mind, I try to tell myself that it is because he is trying to talk to me. I try to focus on what memories my mind is playing through & figure out what Daron is trying to say. I know that sounds crazy, but it brings me comfort. It lets me know that life will get easier. It lets me know that my love for Daron hasn't faded in the three months since he left earth. There are days when I wonder if that's the case. I wonder if I will start to forget him & the love will fade. I wonder if I will stop missing him. I wonder if I will stop being able to picture his face. I wonder if I will stop having the memories pop up out of nowhere.

I have talked to other widows who tell me that those memories & feelings will always be there....the intensity will fade with time, but won't completely disappear. I am scared of that time coming. I don't want those memories or emotions to fade at all. I want to hold onto them for as long as I possibly can with all of the strength I can muster. I want to keep them locked away where they will be safe from fading. I want to protect them because they are sacred to me. But, I know that isn't the right thing to do. I know that by doing that I am putting Daron on a pedastal & turning him into an idol. I don't want to cross that fine line between honoring him (God-centered remembering) & idolizing him (self-centered remembering).

I thought it was a blessing that I couldn't remember a single bad memory during the first month or two after Daron entered Heaven. Looking back, it wasn't because God had taken them from me, it was because I was trying to idolize his memory. I was trying to remove the bad & only remember the good in our marriage. Daron wasn't a saint at all. I have to remind myself of that when all I want to remember is the good. It's ok that I want to remember the good, but I have to even it out. I have to remind myself that our marriage was not full of rainbows, roses, sunshine, blue skies & unicorns. It was also full of storm clouds, rain, gray skies & tornadoes. You can't have just good in life without the bad - not on this side of Heaven anyway. When I get rememberances of the good times, I am grateful. When I get rememberances of the bad times, I am grateful as well. I can't help but be grateful. It just means that I am still grieving - which is healthy - & I am able to spend a few precious moments with my husband - in a different way.

Yes, it has been three months since Daron met Jesus face to face. Yes, it has been three months since I got to touch my husband, hug him, kiss him, listen to his heartbeat. But, it has been three months of getting closer to my Savior, deeper into my faith. Three months of being carried by the One who loves me beyond what my heart can handle. Three months of precious memories. For that, I am grateful!

May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy

Another First

On Saturday, October 29, I made a decision that was many, many years in the making - my first tattoo. When Daron & I got married he started talking to me about getting a tattoo. He had five of them himself & he thought I should have one as well. I kept putting it off because I couldn't decide on what I wanted. I knew that if I got one it had to mean something. I didn't want to just get a random something on my body & regret it. So, I kept saying no everytime he asked me. 

When Daron passed, the thought of a tattoo kept creeping back in every day. Although I still wasn't completely sure what I wanted, I knew that I wanted a tattoo that had something to do with Daron. I started looking back at pictures that showed his tattoos & was thinking of getting a piece of one of his. But, I don't have the same interests that he had.....three of his five tattoos had to do with skydiving. So I sat down & really thought about what my tattoo show look like. That's also when I found an old anniversary card from Daron & my tattoo came into view.


This tattoo incorporates my faith, my love of music, Taylor & Daron. The word "Strength" was written by Taylor. The "I Love You" is in Daron's handwriting directly from the anniversary card I found. The music clef heart has a cross at the top to combine my faith & music. When it is all put together it is very meaningful. I get my strength from my faith in God, the music that I listen to, the love I have for my friends & family, as well as the love they give me. I am in love with my tattoo & thnkful it has meaning to me. I love that I have Daron's & Taylor's handwriting on me. It is on my left arm so that it is close to my heart always.




May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy

October 26, 2016

Anniversary

October 26, 2002.......14 years ago.......Our wedding day....

I have fond memories from our wedding day. Many interesting things happened to make the day unforgettable. One was the fact that U of M was playing against Iowa (and lost). Daron was bummed that he would have to miss the game....he spent time in front of the TV until he absolutely had to get ready for pictures. That still makes me giggle.

Another thing that happened was that I forgot all of the programs. I had spent hours getting the programs just perfect & printed them off myself......only to leave them on the computer desk 2.5 hours away from where we got married. Oh well.....things like that happen to everyone.

We had our pictures taken before the wedding. I am still grateful to Daron's Uncle Jon for being willing to take all the pictures. He captured a lot of candid moments & some funny ones. Just look at this picture....


My family is completely crazy fun & loving, that's for sure. I asked for this picture. My Dad had been playing around & "threatening" Daron about marrying me. So I wanted a photo that showed that &this is what I got. Truly a keepsake!

I have a few other keepsake photos. These photos have become more precious to me throughout the years. The photos with Daron's Grandmothers became more precious when each entered Heaven. Now that Daron has been reunited with them.....words can't describe how precious they are.


 The photo above is precious as well. My Grandpa Orr had a stroke a few days before my wedding. I didn't know this until the night before. I was worried that he wouldn't be able to make it, but I left it all in God's hands. I just wanted my Grandpa to be ok. Turns out he wasn't going to miss my wedding for anything (I am the oldest granddaughter after all). This picture became more precious when my Grandpa passed away in 2007. When Daron passed, half of this picture was gone & I love this photo more then before.

Of course you can't have a wedding album without lots of photos of the bridge & groom. Here are a few of my favorites.....







Many things changed over the course of the last 14 years of our marriage. We bought a home shortly after we got married & moved into it 3 months later. I had major surgery 3 months after we got married - 2 weeks before we moved. We had a child 14 months after we got married. We had our ups & downs like normal. We dealt with the yearly springtime flares of his MS. We dealt with the change in medications that lead to travelling to Ann Arbor every 6 weeks. We dealt with the large flare that took away a lot of things from him. We dealt with him leaving his job & going on full disability. We dealt with the struggles that came from being in a full time caregiving environment at home. We dealt with the increased mental changes, physical changes, emotional changes, spiritual changes that came from the progression of the MS. We dealt with him going into the VA nursing home in Battle Creek. We dealt with his move to a nursing home in Lowell a year later & spending our 10 wedding anniversary there. We dealt with the move back to the VA nursing home in Battle Creek a year later. We dealt with the trips to & from Battle Creek for Taylor & I. We dealt with the continued progression of his MS & everything that went with it. We dealt with everything that came along with having a chronic disease over the years of our marriage.

Then, I had to say goodbye to my husband 3 months before our 14th wedding anniversary. This will be the first anniversary where I won't get a phone call from him.....I won't get a card from him.....I won't get flowers from him.....I won't hear him tell me he loves me & that he is thankful for one more year together. These are the new things that I have to get used to. These are the small things that I will miss every year without him. These are the things that I will treasure as our anniversary comes around each year. These are the things that I am beggin my married family members & friends to treasure within their own marriages. These are the things that get looked over, forgotten, taken for granted as the marriage continues. Please treasure these things & hold tight to them!!

Happy 14th Wedding Anniversary Daron. Enjoy our day in Heaven, surrounded by God, Jesus, the angels, & family. I love you beyond what words can express & I always will!

May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy

October 23, 2016

Late Night Thoughts & Ponderings

I spent the weekend at a widows retreat & walked away blessed. I was unable to sleep last night, so I grabbed my journal & wrote the following:

Thoughts from 11:20pm on October 22, 2016

Here I am at Gull Lake for a widows retreat. Our cottage looks out at the lake - its beautiful here! The fall colors show just how creative God is & I am truly in awe of his handiwork. The speakers - Susan VandePol, Miriam Neff & Jolene DeHeer - have all been wonderful & they have blessed me with their words & hugs. I have had wonderful fellowship with the ladies here. I'm grateful to have gotten to spend time with Marlene, Bonnie & Mary. We have each been called to this new calling by God in different ways, but we truly know what each other is going through.

I am truly glad to be here.....but what am I so drained? Why do I feel like I should be seeing everything in a gray haze? Why am I even on this new journey?

God, I know You know how all of this will turn out. I know You have a plan for my life. I know that all things work together for good for those you love You & are called according to Your purpose (Rom 8:28). I know that You know the plans You have for me & they are plans to prosper me & not to harm me, plans to give me a hope & a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

I know all of these things & yet I am still struggling with my faith. I am still wanting to hold onto my life with Daron. I want him back - like he was when we got married. I don't want him to suffer & pass away though. I want him to stay how he was so we can continue our life together. I want him with my when Taylor graduates High School. I want him with me when Taylor goes to college & the house is empty. I want him with me when Taylor gets married & has kids. I want him with me to help spoil the grand kids. I want him with me when we are 90 & 80 years old & we can pass away in each others arms.

I want all of that, but You decided I'm not worthy of that life. Why? What could You possibly have planned for me that is better then a long life with Daron? Better then a long marriage with Daron?Why was that taken from me at 35 years old? Why am I now being forced to raise my son alone? Why would You take my sons father away from him? Why did You call me to be a widow at such a young age? Why???

I know Daron wasn't perfect & neither am I. I won't deny that to fact at all! But he was my husband....He was Taylor's father. Why couldn't You let him stay here with us? Why did his health have to get worse? Why did he have to die? Was it something he did? Was it something I did? Was it something we did together? Is this my punishment for something I didn't repent of?

I don't understand any of what has taken place of the past 5 years - especially the past (almost) 3 months. Maybe I'm not meant to understand any of it at all. Maybe I am supposed to take a larger leap of faith & trust that God will catch me before I hit rock bottom. Maybe I am supposed to hit rock bottom & trust that God will lift me up & restore me. Maybe I am already at rock bottom & God is trying to teach me something before He will lift me up & restore me. Maybe I need to deepen my faith & loosen my grip on what I want. Maybe I need to truly let go of what was & trust God for what will be.

God, please be Taylor's Father. Please guide him, teach him, train him. Taylor is You son & You have seen fit to allow me to raise him here on earth. Please forgive me for my parenting shortfalls. Please strengthen me as his mother. Please give me the grace I need as I raise him for You. Please draw him closer to You through this time.

God, please be my husband. Forgive me for my doubt, lack of faith, lack of trust, my pride, my stubbornness & my fear. Please remind me daily that You love me with an unconditional & unfailing love.....a love that will never be matched on this earth. Please speak Your love to my heart & soul daily - many times a day. Please help me to remember that Your thoughts are not my thoughts & Your ways are not my ways (Isa 55:8). Please guide me in paths of righteousness daily. Please help me to see that I am worthy of You plan, love, grace, mercy, salvation & this calling. Please remind me that I am Your daughter - royalty in Your eyes. Please remind me that I was bought with a precious price. Please break my pride, break my strong-will, break my stubbornness. Please mold me into the beautiful vessel that You want me to be.

Thank you, God, for speaking this precious passages into my heart now.....

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV)
Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Deuteronomy 33:25 (NIV)
The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.

Job 14:5 (NIV)
A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Isaiah 54:5 (NIV)
For you maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

Psalm 13 (NIV)
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long with my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, :I have overcome him, " and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

Thank You, God for all that You have done for me. Thank You for being my God. Thank You for listening to me. Thank You for holding me close & loving me beyond what I deserve. Thank You for the wonderful women surrounding me this weekend. Please be with each of them in a wonderful & loving way. You know their hearts & I ask that You meet them where they are. Please continue to grant strength, grace, peace, love and mercy to Susan, Jolene & Miriam. I am blessed to have them in my widow sisterhood.

Amen
(12:02am on October 23, 2016)

We sang this song today before our final session. I am thankful for God's steady heart!



May God bless you as you have blessed us! Cathy