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!

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.

October 26, 2016


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!

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.

(12:02am on October 23, 2016)

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

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