December 12, 2017

Christmas Letter

Where to begin? 2017 has been a year full of growth & change in our home. It has been full of good times and rough times. The year started out full of emotions after the holidays of 2016. The start of the year was a time of adjustment and emotions as we continued the journey into our new normal without Daron on this earth.

I'll be honest, the first part of the year is a total blur for me. We ended 2016 with the majority of the firsts coming one right after the other (my birthday, our wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Taylors birthday, Christmas, New Year). With all of those firsts so close together, my brain and my heart went into autopilot mode as a way to protect me I'm sure. So the start of 2017 is very blurry for me. There were other firsts that we had to face in 2017 as well. Daron's birthday is in April and that was an emotional day for sure. July ended the first year since Daron's passing and started the second year. We went to the cemetery with his parents and nephew. That was harder than I thought it was going to be, but I'm glad we went.

Taylor started 8th grade - his final year of middle school. It's crazy how fast he has grown up. Here's a photo to show how fast he has grown physically...

October 2014  (5th grade)            December 2017 (8th grade)
My son is as tall as I am now! How did that happen?!?
Like I said, this photo shows the physical changes in my son. He will be 14 in a few days and he is already counting the days until he turns 18. I think he does it just to make me feel old. 😊  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. He is thoughtful, caring, funny. He likes to make me laugh. He loves to hang out with his cousins and make them laugh. I can't wait to see what God has in store for his life! He did attend a grief camp over the summer, Camp Anew, and I know that helped him to become more sensitive to my emotions. I also truly believe it helped him to understand what he is going through since Daron passed and come to terms with it. He left the camp a changed young man and I am so grateful for that!

In October, I attended the Widows Retreat through Starlight Ministries. I attended last year shortly after Daron's death, but this year changed my life! I went last year as a way to fill part of something. This year, honestly, I went as a way to get away from everything. I just wanted a weekend to myself. I loved hearing Susan VandePolJolene DeHeer and Miriam Neff speak last year, I wanted to hear them again. I had no clue how much God was going to use this retreat to bring me closer to Him like never before. I can't even truly put into words how much my life changed from the retreat this year. I can say this, I have never had such a craving for the Word of God and for the relationship with Him that I walked away from. I am so thankful for this retreat! It is a huge blessing to be in a room with so many other women who truly understand the journey of widowhood. There is an unspoken bond between all of us and I felt like I was in a room with friends - even if I didn't know every single woman's name. Such a wonderful blessing!

2017 also brought along a milestone that Daron and I were looking forward to - our 15th wedding anniversary. I am thankful that I took the day off because it was so full of emotions. I wanted to have time to just feel the emotions, remember the memories, and just be in the moment of the day. This was a day that Daron and I talked about. We never made plans or anything, we just looked forward to this milestone anniversary. I am thankful for the 13 years and 9 months that I was married to Daron before God called him home. I will never regret the years we had together. But, there was a selfish part of me that just wanted to be with him for this milestone anniversary. I am sure that this feeling will come with every anniversary as the years go by. But, I look at our anniversary with love now and I remember the wonderful years we had together. This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding 15 years ago...

This year also brought a new job for me! I have enjoyed the past 5 years as a lunch lady, but God called me to a new job as a custodian. It is a different atmosphere and I'm sure it will be tough at times, but so far, I am enjoying this new job. I have learned that change can be good and when God calls me to it, I have to follow. Of course, this change doesn't just affect me, so I am praying that Taylor will learn to embrace this change as well. We'll see as I get further in since I only started this new job last night. 😊

As 2017 comes to an end and we look toward 2018, I can look back and see how much God has worked in my life and in Taylor's life. We have both grown in different ways, but we have grown and that is important. I have learned that you can't just stay grounded where you are. You have to keep moving forward. There are still times of deep grief and full of emotion over Daron's passing. I have learned that it is okay for me to sit and feel those emotions, but I have to remember to get up and keep moving forward when those emotions pass. If I stay in the middle of a pity party I won't learn anything and I won't keep growing. God has taught me so many things throughout 2017 and I am thankful for that. God has also brought new friends into my life and we are able to walk the widow journey together. I cannot express how thankful I am to have each of these amazing women in my life. 

May God bless each of you through this Christmas season. I hope you will be surrounded by those you love. Remember to be in the moment and truly enjoy being with friends and family. As you enter 2018, remember to cherish the memories of years gone by and look forward to the new memories you will make in the New Year. Keep yourself open to what God has in store for you throughout 2018. I know that I can't wait to see what will happen in my life in the year ahead!

Here are some photos from our recent photoshoot. Enjoy!

December 5, 2017

Making Changes

Following God's leading can be a tough thing sometimes. It can lead to a lot of heartache on this earth. It can lead to changes that you don't see coming. If you've been following my blog for any period of time, you know that my life has been full of a lot of changes over the years. Some of them I saw coming, others caught me completely by surprise.

When Daron died, I begged God to let me have some time without changes taking place. Well, we all know what Proverbs 16:9 says "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." This verse has shown itself true in my life lately. I tried to make certain plans for my life - what job I would have, what church I would attend, what ministries I would be involved in, etc. Recently all of those plans proved to be my plans & not God's plans. He has truly directed my steps as of late & led me down a path I wasn't prepared for.

Let me fill you in a little bit:

My Job -- I have been working at the lunch lady at a local elementary for the past 4.5 years. Three weeks ago, I applied for a different job within the same district. I applied for a night custodian job that would allow me to get some extra hours during school breaks & over the summer. Last week, I was offered the job & will be changing jobs next week. This change will be an interesting one & I am looking forward to this change in my life.

Church/Ministry -- I mentioned before that I was stepping down from the ministries I was involved in at my local church. Following God's leading has taken me down a path that I was not expecting at all....a change in what church Taylor & I attend. This one had me questioning God's leading. It also had me nervous since we have been at this church since Daron & I got married in 2002. But, God has never led me astray before & I know that He has my life in His hands. For now, Taylor & I will just attend a church so we can get back into our Christian walks. When God leads to joining a ministry within the church, I will be ready to follow.

I did not go seeking these changes on my own. These changes are truly from God & I must follow His leading. Since getting myself back into the Bible & asking God to once again be the King of my life, I am finding that following Him is easier than before. I can truly follow Him without digging my feet in & being dragged along. When I gave my life back to God & asked Him to take complete control, my life changed for the better. These changes are showing this to be fact & I am thankful for that. 

November 5, 2017

Finding Time in the Word.....Struggling

In all honesty, I am still struggling with getting into my Bible every day. Without thinking I go straight to Facebook, my email or something else on my phone instead of my Bible. This has been frustrating to me. I have found myself slipping back into habits I am asking the Lord to take away from me. I know this is because I am not in the Word on a daily basis.

Why can't I make the Word of God a priority in my life?
Why is it so easy for me to put nonsense things in front of time with God?

I pray myself to sleep every night. I listen to Christian music in my car & at work. I recall Scripture passages or praise songs throughout the day. But I can't make time to open my Bible & read what God has to say to me first thing in the morning? That doesn't make any sense. I can't figure out why I am struggling so much with this. 

On another note, I have made two of the tough decisions that I needed to make. Since I have spoken with the people I needed to, I can let you know what they are. I have decided to step down from the VBS & AWANA ministries in my local church. I have felt God leading me to this for the past few months & I fought Him. I have been apart of these ministries for at least 14 years now. I have enjoyed every moment & I have loved working with so many different children over the years. These decisions were tough on so many levels, but I can't fight God when He is so strongly leading me. I have mixed emotions & I know without a doubt that I will miss these ministries. But, God has a plan for my life & I will follow His leading in this. 

There is another tough decision that I am struggling with. I cannot go into detail about this one yet, but I covet your prayers regarding it. God knows what the decision is & what the outcome will be. I trust His leading & I know that with His guidance the best decision will be made. God will not lead me from something without leading me to something. His ways are perfect!

October 24, 2017

Being Honest With Myself

This past weekend (October 20-22) I went to a widows retreat. It was a blessed weekend & I came home refreshed in my soul. While there, I got a chance to talk to a counselor & to the speakers - all who are widows themselves. I was blessed by talking with them & challenged at the same time. So, I want to open myself up to you, the reader, in a way that I never have before. I want you to understand more about me so you can better pray for me. I also want this to be a way that I hold myself accountable in the future.

How I see myself on the inside
I have been struggling a lot lately with my self-worth & my worth to God. I have been told that I am royalty to God as a widow & that I am a princess in the house of the King of Heaven. But, that is not how I have seen myself over the last 14 months or so. Instead of thinking that I am God's princess, I have seen myself has God's plumber. I see myself as the person responsible for all of the waste removal in the Kingdom of God. I mean, how much lower can one person get?

I have also been told that God sees me as beautiful. That is totally not how I see myself. I see myself as an ugly troll who doesn't even deserve to have God look at me. I see myself as someone who people avoid at all costs. I see myself as a leper at the gate of the city begging for mercy. I see myself as wretched & beyond help. I see myself as lower than dirt. I see myself as a fungus to society. I see myself as not worthy of God's grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, compassion. I see myself as the person who wasted Christs time when he came to die in my place. I see myself as the person who nailed Christ to the cross & didn't even think twice about it later. I see myself as the person who spits at the base of the cross & laughed at him while he died. I see myself as disgusting, defiled, worthless, forsaken, neglected, hopeless, unloveable. I see myself as the person who God cannot handle looking at no matter what. I see myself as a mistake.

The counselor that I spoke with encouraged me to write these down as a way to track my spiritual growth over the next month. This will give me a way to look back & see how far I have come & how I see myself in one month. As I write them down, I am saddened by how I see myself & how I look down on myself. You see, I haven't always looked at myself this way. This really has been since Daron died & I lost my way. My faith took a backseat & I truly blamed God for Daron's death. I questioned Him constantly about Daron's death. I couldn't see past my grief & see that God was trying to bless me. I still don't see my grief as a gift, but I am working on it. I still don't see how God can use my pain for His glory, but I am working on trusting that He will. I am working on seeing myself as God's princess again.

Back to My First Love
I have walked away from my first love. Actually, I ran away from Him. I have been so busy trying to hold onto what my life was prior to Daron's death, that I stopped moving forward & started looking back all the time. That led to my departure from my first love. That led to taking anger to bed with me instead of my Bible. That led to running away from God & then blaming Him for leaving me. He never left - I did. He has always been beside me, but I felt like He has been forsaking me. I have felt like He abandoned me in my grief. I have been blaming Him for something that I did.

I haven't been reading my Bible. I only "pray" when I want to blame God or ask Him for something. I listen to Christian music as something to have on in the background, not as something to feed my soul. Yes, I have scripture verses pop into my head throughout the day, but I try to push them away. I don't realize that the Holy Spirit is giving them to me for a reason. I gossip. I complain. I'm bitter. I'm rude. I'm angry. I'm hostile toward my son. I blame others before I take a hard look at my own involvement in the issue.

Now is the time for me to get back into the Bible. To get back into digging deep & trying to get as much information about God as I possibly can. Now is the time that I want to fall back in love with Him & truly change how I see myself to how He sees me. I want to learn about how I am not forsaken & I never was. I want to learn more about how God values me as a widow. I want to learn more about how God created me because He loves the thought of me. I want to learn more about how God uses widows for His glory. I want to learn more about how I can be a better mom to Taylor because of how God calls me to that. I want to learn more about how I can truly hand over my heavy burden & He will take it from me. I want to learn more about my calling on this earth.

Tough Decisions Ahead
This weekend has opened my eyes to a few tough decisions that I will need to make in the near future. This is the one part that I cannot be completely honest with you. I have written these decisions down so I can keep myself accountable in that way. I am asking that you pray for me as I make these decisions. God knows what they are. He will lead me to the correct choices. I want to follow His path for my life & these decisions have to be made in order to do that. I trust that God will not lead me to something outside of His plan for my life. I also know that I have never had to make such tough choices before. I need you to lift me up in prayer & trust that God will carry out His amazing plan in my life.

I know that this path won't be easy & the devil will be right there trying to pull me off track. I need to keep my eyes completely fixed on Jesus Christ & hold onto Him every step of the way. I need to go back to being a new Christian. I need to go back to the beginning of my faith & my relationship with God. I need to get my passion for God back & fall deeply in love with Him once again. God never promised that this life would be easy. He only promised that He would be with me every step of the way. I forgot that promise for awhile & I need to hold onto it once again.

October 15, 2017


I have been struggling to....
....get out of bed in the morning. a good mom.
....take care of my house.
....take care of myself.
....have a smile on my face when I leave the house.
....make others think I'm doing okay. my Bible every day.
....pray every day.
....continue to trust in God's plan for my life.
....believe that God has a purpose for me.
....go to church on a regular basis. up to trusted friends & family.
....not stay in bed & cry all day.
....remember & trust that Daron is in a better place, out of pain & happy with the Lord.

I have been struggling with all of these things & so much more. The past 14.5 months have changed me in ways I never thought possible. I honestly thought that my faith was deep enough to keep my head above water when Daron passed away. I thought that I was clinging to the cross hard enough. I thought that I would be able to truly rest in God's embrace through the past 14 months. I thought I had faith that would move mountains & I would be able to continue to put one foot in front of the other every day. I thought that I would be able to see God change my life & draw me closer to Him. I thought all of these things but I was wrong.

I am struggling to remind myself daily that God didn't do this to me. God will never harm me. God will never leave me or forsake me. I know all of these things to be true, but I am struggling to remember them. There are days when I feel like God doesn't hear the cries of my heart. There are days when I think that I am being punished for something I did. There are days when I feel like my Bible will burst into flames if I try to read it. There are days when I feel like I am being shunned. There are days when I feel like my life is going to crumble around me & I will fall into a bottomless pit. There are days when I am yelling at God instead of crying out to Him. There are days when I am blaming God for everything that I am going through. There are days when I want nothing to do with Him & I turn my back. There are days when I just can't walk the Christian walk anymore because I can't see outside of my grief bubble.

Then there are days when I can see God's hand at work in my life. Days when I can see a glint of light coming through reminding that life does get better after a loss. Days when I find myself talking to God all days long while I'm at work or doing things around the house. There are days when Scripture comes to my mind without having to search for it. Days when the same praise song is on my mind & in my heart for the entire day. These days are there, but they are few & far between it feels like.

When Daron died, my brain emotions life changed. I don't feel like I am in a fog anymore, but I don't feel like I am completely out of that fog either. These past 2 months I have had more emotional breakdowns then I did during the first 12 months. I am truly starting to feel my emotions now & that is where all of the struggles come from. I don't have control over my emotions & I don't know how to get that control back.

That is my biggest struggle......not having control over myself. I know that Daron's death has changed me & I feel like a completely different person these days. I thought I had gained control over my temper, only to lose all control since Daron's death. I am quickly annoyed by specific people, so I tend to avoid them at all cost. I am quick to snap at Taylor & then feel horrible about it soon after. I am quick to jump to over thinking a situation that doesn't turn out the way I think it should. I am quick to blame God rather than blame myself for something not turning out the way I want it to. This list can go on & on & on.

To be 100% honest, my biggest struggle, the one that I can't seem to shake or handle right now, is my faith. That one weighs the heaviest on me. I don't see my need to attend church on a regular basis. I don't see my need to reach out to others & ask them to pray for me. I don't see my need to worship in a corporate setting each week. I don't know exactly why I am struggling so much with this right now. I don't know why I don't feel the driving need to be in church every week & worship in a corporate setting with other believers. I know those needs are there! I know that God has called me to these things! Trust me, I fight with myself every day about it. I know that I'll be called a hypocrite or something along those lines. I can't control what others think about me. I can't control what I think about myself right now! I think I'm a giant failure when it comes to my walk with the Lord, my faith, my time in God's Word & my church attendance.

So there you have it. Those are my struggles. I don't know how else to explain them. I don't know what else to say about them. The struggles are real & I am fighting them the best way that I can these days.

August 9, 2017

Ramblings of an Introverted Extrovert

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am a people person. I thrive in situations where I am surrounded by people & I enjoy being a large crowd. I have worked in jobs where I get to meet people on a personal level & really get to know them (hence being an elementary school lunch lady). Well, all that was true until a year ago. The past year has changed me in ways I never expected. Now, I am a lot more comfortable staying at home in my comfy clothes working on a crochet project or building my jewelry business. I feel safe at home in my regular surroundings.

Let me take a moment to explain a few things. I hope this will help those around me understand a little better when I don't accept their invitation to an event, a get together, a family outing, etc. So, let me introduce you to a new Cathy.....

I don't like to be in large crowds of people. In fact, they scare the daylights out of me & send me into a panic attack. I would rather work alone then with a large amount of people. I still like to get to know other people, but I'd rather get to know my close friends & family better then meet new people.

I plan all of my outings around the busy times of the day. I know when a good time is to go to the grocery store so I am not in a crowd of people in the checkout line. I know when a good time is to go to the mall -- I will never step foot in a mall between October 31 & January 30th. I have learned that sometimes it is better to order things online so that I have the least amount of contact with strangers.

Taylor & I used to go on mother/son dates to the movies once a month or every few months. Now, I have to plan those around busy times & pray that someone doesn't sit next to me. I can't sit in the middle of a row of chairs or a church pew because I need to know there is a way out if needed. When I enter a building - especially one I haven't been in before - I need to know where the exits are first so I know I have a way out. If I'm at a restaurant, I need to sit in a way where I can see either the main exit or the emergency exit.

Church has also become a place that can lead to a panic attack. Holidays in church, when it is super thank you. Being surrounded by my church family used to make me feel safe & at home. Now I feel closed in & out of place. Please know that I have nothing against anyone in my church family or against my church itself. I can't go to extended family outings or get together events for the same reason & I have nothing against any of them either. I trust the people who are there, but right now, large crowds of people are not my cup of tea. Honestly, I get small panic attacks just thinking about it sometimes & I have to talk myself off the ledge so to speak.

I know it sounds completely odd, especially to those who have known me for years. I do still go out to the stores, go on outings & go to restaurants. I just only go when the stores won't be as crowded or when I am with a trusted friend or family members. I also only go to family outings or events when it is a small group of family members. Now, I do make myself leave the house at least a few times each week so that I am not a complete hermit. It is intimidating to say the least, but I make myself do it. I may only go to one store or visit with a friend, but I still make sure I leave the house. I go to work & I go to meetings that I have scheduled. I am also still apart of children's ministry at my church. Those are things that I can control, so to speak. They are also commitments that I have made & I have been challenged to keep every commitment. That is my way of making sure that I step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.

There was a time, a few months after Daron died, when I refused to leave the house at all. I would order my groceries online & pick them up rather then go grocery shopping. I used to love spending time in the grocery store. That was my alone time & I would savor every minute of it. Now, I can't wait to get out of the store. I map out my shopping so that I am in & out as quickly as possible. I used to make small talk with the store employees. Now I try not to even make eye contact. I have gotten better then & I am proud of myself for the small steps.

To say that life was simpler when Daron was alive is an understatement. I look back over the past year & I can see just how much his death has truly affected me - inside & out. I never realized just how much I relied on him being around. Even when he wasn't at home for those last 5 years, I knew that I could call him to help calm me down. I knew that he was only a phone call, or an hour drive, away & that kept my mind at ease. He was my rock, my safe harbor, my calm in the storm. Now that he's gone I am finding it hard to calm myself down.

Before you say it, I know that God is my Rock, my Safe Harbor & my calm in the storm. I know that He is only a prayer away & the He will calm my heart. I know these things, but remembering them is a completely different story. I mentally kick myself when I remember a verse after I needed it to help calm my heart. I am getting better, with God's help, & I am thankful for that. But, I still prefer my home to the crazy world. I still prefer to stay in my fortress then step out into the chaos outside my front door.

Please try to keep in mind that I am still healing from a huge loss. My heart & mind are still very fragile. I am only doing what I feel is best to let them heal. I will get back to myself, or at least a different version of myself, one day. I can only heal one moment at a time & only with God's help. I have learned that grief truly is a marathon & not a sprint. I have to take it easy with my heart or I can risk damaging myself even more. Trust me, I don't like being an introverted extrovert. I miss my outgoing personality at times. But for now, I am happy, safe & secure resting in God's loving arms & letting Him heal my heart. God is helping me to heal as He sees & I know that He is doing what is best for me. He did create me after all & He is the Great Physician.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my journey with you. I wanted to be able to let you see another glimpse into who I am a year later. I am changing every day & I pray that my change will be for God's glory alone.

July 27, 2017

I Grieve With Hope

I sat down to write a post that I thought I had fully figured out, prayed over & was ready to type out. Now that I am actually in front of my computer, the words won't come out. I don't know why. I know that I want to say something deeply personal & spiritual about coming up on the first year anniversary in a few days.......but nothing wants to come out. So, please bear with me as I just ramble on & type the thoughts as they pop into my head. 😌

This past year has been a whirlwind of emotions for me. I really don't know if I have actually processed any or all of them at all. Over the past few days I have felt myself start to shutdown emotionally & mentally. I really don't want to think about what July 30th means to me this year. I don't want to feel what I know I have to feel. I don't want to think about the fact that Daron has been gone from this earth for 365 days already.

Memories from this time last year have been flooding my dreams & thoughts. They are almost driving me insane. I can't sleep, eat, drink, feel, think, speak, cry, laugh, talk without some memory popping into my head & completely throwing me for a loop. Night time is still the hardest time of the day for me. I lay in bed & start to pray, that's when the tears start to fall & I end up crying myself to sleep. Then my dreams are full of all the what ifs that could have taken place leading up to Daron's passing. I wake up worried, pray & ask God to take that away from me. Go back to sleep & do it all over again. No wonder I drag through every morning.

I don't want the memories to stop. I love thinking about & talking about Daron. I love to think about our life together. I love to think about what he would say to me about whatever I am dealing with. I love knowing that I have these memories to think back on. But, I don't like that I feel like I can't control when they pop into my head. That's the frustrating part. I love having them pop into my head, but I wish I could control them more.

Everyone says that once you get past the first year mark it will get better. I really hope so. I'm ready to get back to feeling "normal" again. I know that I am in this new normal & I get that. But I don't like feeling like I am disconnected with myself, my emotions, my mental health, my spiritual health. I like to feel like I am in control of what I am doing/feeling/saying/thinking. The last year has not felt that way for me. I have felt like I am just floating through life & watching everything go on around me. I feel like I am stuck in slow motion at times & the world is speeding by at full speed & I can't keep up anymore. I am praying that changes after the one year mark.....but I won't hold my breath.

I do know one thing for sure.....God has been carrying me this entire past year. If He wasn't I don't even want to think about where I would be spiritually/emotionally/mentally. Truth is, this past year has shaken my faith. I won't lie about that. But I want to say that it was shaken in a good way (if that makes any sense). My faith was shaken in a way that has made me lean more on God then I have in the past. Before, I would walk ahead of God & hit every landmine the devil had set for me. Then I would look back & ask God why He didn't warn me about them.....only to see that He had & I just didn't pay attention. Now, since I am asking God to carry me through, I am learning what true faith is all about. Granted, there have been times when I have jumped out of His arms & ran ahead.....only to sit down & wait to be carried again because I hit another landmine.

I am finding joy, comfort and strength in reading my Bible again. I am finding peace and strength in praying again. It's like I am seeing the Bible passages & praying for the first time. There are days when I don't want to open my Bible or I don't want to pray because I have so much I need to get done in that day. But, I feel even more worn down, drained, tired when I don't open my Bible or pray. I am feeling refreshed when I read that God cares for me as a widow so much that He won't avoid me. He wants to offer me comfort, hope and healing as I face the future as a widow.

These verses from Psalms have spoken to me a lot lately. I rest in the knowledge that God is close to me while my heart is broken. I rest in the knowledge that He will bind my wounds & breath life back into my heart.

                           Psalm 34:18                                  Psalm 147:3

I know that my posts can ramble on & come across differently to each person who reads them. But, I hope that each person who reads my blog learns a little more about my Heavenly Father. I have to share the rough patches in my life so that people can see how God has brought me through them. Life isn't pretty, that's for sure. Life is hard, but God is good!! God is my refuge & strength during this time in my life. I can't always say that when I look back over the years. But I am resting in His arms as He continues to carry me through this rough patch. When I am ready to walk beside Him, I know that he will be there & that He will never leave me. Again, that is not something I would have been able to say a decade ago - it wasn't something that I trusted. This is still something that I am learning each day. 

God has shown Himself to be my protector, my strength, my guide, my friend, my Savior, my healer. My prayer is that I will come through this first year since Daron's passing a little stronger then I was before....a little wiser then I was before....a lot more humble then I was before. Above all of that, my prayer is that I come though this with my faith deeper, stronger & rooted more deeply in the Word. I want this to change me for the better, not for the bitter or for the worse. I want to grow from this, not stay the way I was a year ago -- or even a month ago. 

I grieve with the hope of what is to come. I grieve with the hope that God will continue to carry me. I grieve with the hope of knowing that even death has parted Daron & I, it is not a final parting. I grieve with hope because Jesus conquered the sting of death. I grieve with hope because Daron is in the presence of God & is not in anymore pain. I grieve with hope because I will see Daron again. 

                       Hebrews 11:1                                 1 Thessalonians 4:13

July 13, 2017

Approaching 1 Year

One can that be possible?

One year......where did the time go?

One year ago I was making almost daily visits to spend time with Daron after he was put into hospice care. I was going with Taylor or with my in-laws to see him. I was talking with his doctor as much as possible to stay updated on how he was doing. I was trying to make every moment with him matter.

One year ago I was writing out the obituary I never thought I would have to write. I was planning out a funeral service I didn't want to think about. I was trying to get the "small" things out of the way so I could focus on my beloved husband.

One year ago I was crying out to God from the depths of my soul. I was asking God to let Daron stay with me one moment & then asking God to be merciful to him the next. I was handing my husband back to God & thanking my Heavenly Father for the years I was given with Daron. I was trying to be strong for those around me during the day & then crying myself to sleep at night.

One year ago I was telling my husband that it was okay to not keep the promise he made to me after we got married. I was telling my husband that it was okay for him to let go of this earth & go Home. I was giving my beloved husband permission to enter Heaven's Glory.

One can this even be possible? It still feels like yesterday....

July 1, 2017

To Daron....


Why did July have to come back around?
Why did we have to make another trip around the sun already?
How can it have been 1 year so quickly?
Am I ready for the start of another year without you?

July has so many bad memories attached to it. It makes me wish that this entire month would just disappear off the calendar. July 5, 2011 started July off badly. I still can’t believe that I had to have you put into a facility. I honestly thought that we could have handled everything at home. I thought that you would just snap out of whatever it was you were going through & we’d be fine. But God had different plans for our lives. Leaving you in Battle Creek that evening was the hardest thing I ever had to do at that point. I cried all the way home. I cried myself to sleep for days, weeks, on end. I prayed & begged God to heal you so you could come home. I never told you any of this because I had to be strong for you. I had to let you know that I could handle everything at home alone. But I couldn’t. Life fell apart that day & I still can’t put it back together.

As July 5 rolled back around every year, I still begged God to perform a miracle. I argued with God on a daily basis. I told Him that it wasn’t fair to put us on this path. I told Him that we couldn’t handle this & He needed to change His plans. I’m sure I gave God something to laugh about. I mean, how can I truly expect the One who created the entire universe to change His plans. How can I expect Him to change the plans He laid in place before the foundation of the world? But I begged Him to nonetheless. I came to despise July 5 & I still do. There are times when I pray before bed on July 4 that I can just wake up on July 6…..but that hasn’t happened. July 5 still rolls around & brings all of the memories with it.

Now there are more dates in July to add to the bad parts of the month. More dates that make me wish July would disappear off the calendar. More dates that will bring tears, heartache, memories, pain, regret, remorse, dread. More dates to make me miss you with everything that I have in me.

July 8, 2016 
I found out that you were not eating. To be honest, I wasn’t really worried at that point. I didn’t think anything of it. You were a little heavy & you hadn’t really lost a lot of weight from not eating. I knew that you were on a liquid diet due to swallowing issues, but I still wasn’t concerned. The doctor & I came up with a plan for the weekend & I thought by Monday you would be okay.

July 11, 2016
I got the phone call about having to put you into hospice. VBS started that day & you know that’s always been a crazy week for me anyway. I was excited to see the kids who would return from the year before & excited to meet the kids who would come for the first time. I was excited about our theme. I was just excited for another fun week of VBS. When I got home that afternoon, I was looking forward to a nap. Instead, the phone rang & it was the VA calling. My heart sank to my toes. My gut told me something wasn’t right. Maybe the plan for the weekend didn’t pan out & we needed to make changes.

I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t anything drastic or horrible. I tried to tell myself that you were okay. My brain & my heart were not on the same page. I answered the phone & heard the doctors voice on the other end. I listened the best that I could. I remember hearing the word “hospice” come through the phone & I almost dropped it. I had to force myself to engage in the conversation & help make the best decision possible for you. I agreed with her decision & hospice was put in place. I hung up the phone & tried to compose myself for the task ahead – calling your family, our pastor, my family, friends.

I remember staying locked in the bathroom while I made those calls – it was the only quiet place. I remember tears & shock. I don’t remember what was said to who or exactly how many phone calls I made. I remember making the conscious decision to not tell any of the VBS staff until the end of the week. I remember putting the news on Facebook so people could be praying, but then hoping that no one from VBS would bring it up. I spent the rest of the week going to VBS during the day & then to visit you with your parents in the afternoons. Yes, it made for long days, but it was worth it. I remember bringing Taylor to see you during that week & having Jon come along. I needed the extra support. Taylor needed the extra support.

I remember telling you that it was okay for you to break your promise of growing old with me. I remember giving you to God & asking Him to work His perfect plan in your life. I remember the tears I shed every night. It was a good week at VBS…...but it was a rough week at home.
Between July 11 & July 27 I heard your voice for the last time on this earth. Your brother Mark was the last person you talked to over the phone. It was a tough phone call on both sides of the phone, but it was needed. After that, to keep you comfortable, I asked the doctor to medically sedate you. I knew that was the best thing to do, but I missed hearing your voice from that point on.

July 27, 2016
Life as I knew it was going to come to an end. There was a care team meeting that day & your mom went with me. I remember the mood in the room when we arrived. Everyone was there & the looks on their faces said it all. I didn’t want to believe it though & chose to ignore the pit forming in my stomach. I sat through the doctor telling me that your skin color was still good, you weren’t running a fever, you had a rapid heartbeat… was all normal care meeting items. The only difference was the mood in the room. I took the time to thank each person there for all the time they had spent taking care of you over the years that you were there. Your mom & I left that meeting & went to see you for a little bit. It was the first time I started to cry in front of you. I forced the tears to stop. Even though you were sedated, I didn’t want you to see me being weak. I still needed to be strong for everyone around me.

We went home & went to Wendy’s for lunch with your Dad, Taylor & Chase. We laughed, we talked, we made a few more plans to go visit you the next day. Little did we know all those plans would drastically change over the next few hours.

When Taylor & I got home, I called the doctor to ask her a question. I had to leave a message & wait for her to call me back. My gut was trying to tell me something again & this time I had to listen to it. My head & my heart wouldn’t let me ignore it. When the doctor called me back, I asked her if your time on earth was nearing an end. She said she believed so & I told her I would be there as soon as possible. I asked for a bed & a comfy chair to be brought into the room. We ended our phone conversation & I immediately started packing a few things for myself. I also started packing a bag for Taylor. I called my brother & asked if Taylor could stay with them. Of course, they said yes. I called your parents & let them know. A little bit later, your mom asked if she could come with me & I agreed. I dropped Taylor off & then picked up your mom. We headed back to Battle Creek. That night our Pastor came & so did your dad. We weren’t expecting either of them, but were glad they were there.
The next few days were spent at your bedside. The staff came in to say their goodbyes & to share stories with us from your time there. We laughed with them & thanked them for their care. Your older boys came on Thursday to say their final goodbyes. Your brother & his wife came on Friday evening. We laughed together while sharing stories.

Did you know that we were there for those last few days?
Did you hear us talking, laughing, crying?

Each evening the doctor said she wasn’t expecting to see us the next morning, but you held on. On Friday, she said she would be surprised if she saw us on Monday. We thanked her for all her time & care before she left for the weekend. You dad had been driving back & forth each day, but decided to stay on Friday night. We could all sense something was changing.

Saturday July 30 rolled in with rain. Was God crying with us? The rain cleared up & the sun came out. It really is odd what you remember that you kind of forgot. Your mom was on the phone with your brother when your breathing started to change. I dropped my book & was immediately at your side. She went to meet your dad at the door & I got to say my personal goodbyes to you.

Did you hear the cry of my heart in that moment?
Did you feel the love I had for you as we parted on this earth?

When you parents came back into the room, I was listening to your chest. I didn’t want to miss the final heartbeat. When I couldn’t hear it anymore, I was frantic & prayed that it would beat again. But, it didn’t. You were gone. My heart shattered into a million pieces in that instant & I cried out to God. I kept my tears at bay the best that I could. I didn’t want you to try & come back for me.

Phone calls were made, the staff was called to the room, chaos seemed to ensue. I didn’t want to leave your side for anything. When the staff came in to say their final goodbyes, I thanked them again for their care. Then they played Taps & I couldn’t hold the flood of tears in anymore. I sobbed from the depths of myself for you. I prayed that you couldn’t hear them.

My world ended at 2:27pm on July 30, 2016 – the moment God called you Home. My dreams disappeared. My heart tore in half. My brain went into auto at that moment. My body went numb.
When you parents & I left, I truly felt I was walking away from you & our life together. I wanted to run back to you so much, but my brain wouldn’t let me turn around. My legs kept walking me towards the door & further away from you. I vaguely remember getting in the car. I don’t even know how I made it home without an accident. I think that Jesus was truly driving my car.

July can just disappear off the calendar & I wouldn’t miss it. Maybe I should call the calendar people & ask them to name it something different. July starts & ends with memories of you. I wish they were better memories though. I miss you so much, my love. There isn’t a day that goes by when you aren’t in my thoughts. You will always be a part of me & I am thankful for that. Every time I look at Taylor, I see you. He is looking more like you each day, but in his own way. You would be so proud of the young man that he is becoming. I wish you were here with us, but I know that you are whole in Heaven & that is what matters most. I’m thankful you aren’t suffering anymore. I am thankful that you are whole & well as you walk the streets of gold.

Daron, you are the best gift that God gave me. From the moment we met, I knew that my life would never be the same. I knew that we were going to have an amazing journey through this life together. I just wish it wasn’t so short. I am so incredibly thankful for the years that we were given together. I am thankful that you were my best friend, my husband, father of my son. I will never stop loving you…. ever! You will forever be a part of me & I will carry you with me always. Even on days when I want to stay in bed & cry, I know that you wouldn’t want me to do that. I know that God will continue to give me the strength that I need to get through each day. I wasn’t planning on walking the rest of my life without you, but I will never stop loving you. I love you more than words will ever be able to express.

Until I see you Heaven……

June 26, 2017

New Venture! Exciting and Scary!

About a month ago, I decided to jump back into the world of direct sales. I say that I jumped back into because I have for two different direct sales companies in the past that will not be named. I was hesitant about jumping back into that world because my first two attempts didn't go very well for varying reasons.

But, I am happy that I made this decision & I have found a company that makes it easy for me to succeed. Before I had to meet almost impossible goals that were set by the company every month or I was "fired" from that company. It was very disheartening to say the least. Now, I have an achievable goal from the company that I have been able to surpass every month due to goals I have set for myself.

I made this leap of faith because I need to be able to take care of my son as we continue down this new journey that we are on. I need to make sure that bills are paid, food & necessities are provided. As a widowed-parent who only works 9 months out of the year, I have to do what I feel is necessary to make those things happen. Yes, we are receiving benefits from my husband that were already in place. But it doesn't hurt to make sure things are taken care of.

Also, the company that I am joined is all about helping women feel beautiful. That has come to mean so much to me over the past few years. It really is amazing what a little bit of lipstick and some jewelry can do to helping me feel beautiful! are probably wondering what I am selling. I am an Independent Consultant with Paparazzi Accessories!! I sell amazing pieces of Jewelry and Accessories that only cost $5 a piece. That is incredible! You don't have to break the bank to look or feel beautiful! Every piece is also Lead and Nickel Free which helps those with metal allergies be able to wear beautiful pieces of jewelry! I do not have catalogs to hand out because our inventory changes.

If you are interested in learning more about this new venture, please feel free to visit my website any time of the day or night! If you would like to get exclusive pieces & deals that I have, please consider joining my Facebook VIP Group.

I truly believe that every woman deserves to feel Glamorous, but not feel guilty about their jewelry. That is where Paparazzi comes in & I am happy to help you find amazing pieces for an amazingly low price!!

June 17, 2017

It Has Been.....

It has been.....
.....15 years & 8 months since my first date with Daron (Oct. 2001)
.....14 years & 8 months since I married Daron (Oct. 2002)
.....13 years & 6 months since Taylor birth (Oct. 2003)
.....5 years & 11 months since Daron entered the VAMC (July 2011)
.....4 years & 3 months since Daron stopped his MS medication (Mar. 2013)
.....1 year & 6 months since Daron entered palliative care (Dec. 2015)
.....11 months & 6 days since Daron entered hospice care (July 11, 2016)
.....10 months, 2 weeks & 4 days since Daron entered Heavens Glory (July 30, 2016)

I still cannot wrap my mind around how much time has passed since Daron & I first met. I cannot believe that almost 16 years have passed since that first date. There are so many memories that were created in that time frame. 

At the same time, I cannot believe that it has been almost an entire year since Daron passed away. I still don't like saying "Last year" when I talk about the final months, weeks, days with Daron. My heart still prays that new memories with Daron can be made.....even though my brain knows it's not possible. 

There are days when it is a struggle to get out of bed & do life without Daron. There are days when I pray that the past 10 months, 2 weeks & 4 days were just a nightmare & I'll wake up from it soon. There are days when I pray that I could see Daron one last time.....hug him again, hold him again, kiss him again, talk to him again, hear his voice again. I still reach out for him in my sleep & when I wake up. I still talk to him. I still what his advice on tough decisions. 

I'm not ready for July 20, 2017 to come. If there were a way to take that day off the calendar, I'd be all for it. I know that day has to come & I know I have to face it. I have to face the turn of the calendar. I have to face the end of the first year without my husband. I have to face the start of another year without him by my side. I have to do all of this.....even when I don't think I have the strength to. 

I trust that God will continue to get me through the next few weeks. I trust that God will give me the strength I need to face July 30th. I trust that God will continue to carry me through this. I trust God to continue to walk beside me & never leave me.  

May 22, 2017

Time To Stop Blogging???

So it's been almost a month since my last post. There are few reasons for that.....some I can explain & some that I can't for various reasons. Life has been crazy in our household. With school/work getting ready to end for the school year (WooHoo) we are just go, go, go around here. With school getting ready to end that means VBS prep is in full swing. That also means that life is just crazy. So I have been away from the blog just trying to stay afloat. 

I have also been away from the blog because I'm not sure how I should continue the blog - or if I should continue to blog at all. I have always said that my blog is where I can be open & honest with myself & with the readers. I have also said that you, the reader, have the choice of reading my posts or not. This is an outlet for me to get my thoughts & feelings out into the open.  

I understand that it is hard to figure out the emotions that I am feeling while reading words on a screen. I understand that can cause you, the reader, to interpret what I am writing differently. I understand that there are people in the world who don't want such openness & honesty. I understand that my openness & honesty can offend, upset, bother, & push people away sometimes. That is not my intent at all with this personal blog.

Please know & understand that I am not trying to call anyone out, push anyone away, make anyone feel like I am picking on them, etc. I am just working through my thought pattern right now. I am trying to make sure that I am doing what I feel is best for myself during this time of my life. 

I am trying to let others into my life, to get a glimpse of my life, so they can better pray for Taylor & I. I am trying to let God use my struggles, pain, journey, grief as a way to bring others to Him. I know that my blog doesn't always show that.....that is real life for me right now. I want this blog to bring glory to God, not to me. I am trying to help another young widow as she faces life without her husband. I am trying to let her know that it is okay to feel the way she is feeling towards everything in life. I am trying to show others that it is only by God's help, strength, grace, mercy & peace that I am even able to get up in the morning. I want this blog to be a way to help others who are struggling with their faith, journey, life to know that God will always be there right beside them. I'm not perfect & I never claim to be. 

Truthfully, this blog started out as a way to keep our extended family members updated on Daron's health. Many of them are not on Facebook & I don't have their email addresses. But I could easily share a link with my family & my in-laws that they could pass on to others in the family. It really did help & make life easier at the time to just type everything into one place. Now, it has become my solace & my therapy in a way. It allows me to open up & share what I am dealing with & how I am asking God to help me grow through this journey.

I pray over every post before I publish it. I pray before I even start typing the post. I ask God to use this for His glory. I ask God to write into my posts what He wants me to share. There are times when I write a post & then delete it because it is a true stumbling block. Granted, I know there are posts that some would say should never have been posted.....but there are true to life & sometimes life is ugly, gritty, tough to handle. Those posts are ones that I felt someone needed to read to know that it is okay to be angry with God, angry with the journey you are on, angry with the struggles you are facing.  It is okay & God wants us to be open with Him, even though He knows what we are thinking 24/7. He wants to hear us call out to Him & complain, yell, cry, scream, blame, beg, everything that comes with this life. He can handle it! He wants to handle it for us!

But again, for this world, for this life, for those around me.....If my blog has become a stumbling point or has pushed you out of my life for what ever reason, is it worth keeping my blog active? I will continue praying about this, but I didn't want you to think that I was neglecting my blog or neglecting you.

So, with that said.....I may be closing down my blog in the very near future. I haven't decided yet & I am still praying about it. I have always said that I don't want my blog to be a stumbling point for those who read it. But, if I am pushing people away, offending people, upsetting people, bothering people & being a stumbling block in their lives, their faith & their walk with it even worth it anymore?

Please pray with me that I follow God's plan for my life. Please pray that I will continue to grow in Him & follow Him daily. Please pray that I will let the Spirit move in my life & accept that moving. 

April 23, 2017

Music is Healing

I have always been a strong believer that music is incredibly healing. It always speaks to my heart & can express what I can't. For as long as I can remember there as always been the perfect song on the radio when I need to hear it. There are songs that I always go to when I need to smile, sing through the frustrations I'm facing, when I need to cry, when I need to be uplifted, etc. I would like to share some of the songs that have really spoken to me over the years. God has been bringing a lot of them to me as I need them & I am grateful for that. Some of these songs bring back memories of loved ones who have gone to Heaven.....some remind me of God's faithfulness, grace, mercy, strength, love, compassion & will for my life.

Lately, there are quite a few songs that I turn to for reminders of God's grace & strength. They are ones that I love to sing out in the car when I'm by myself. I cry through them as the tears come or I just sing them from the depths of my soul. Depending on what I am trying to convey or remind myself of, I choose any of the following songs to listen to & sing to. A lot of these songs have been on the radio exactly when I need to hear them & I will never stop being amazed by that.

My prayer is that some of these songs will speak to you as well in whatever you are going through in your life.

Disclaimer: I am using all these songs off of YouTube. They are all official videos from the artist/band themselves. I do not own the rights to any of them. 

Even If by MercyMe

I Will by Citizen Way

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey

Thy Will by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

I Have This Hope by Tenth Avenue North

Still by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

Tears by Matt Hammitt

The Hurt and The Healer by MercyMe

Dear Younger Me by MercyMe

Oh My Soul by Casting Crowns

Just Be Held by Casting Crowns

Daron's Birthday Video

I forgot to share this video with all of you. I shared it on my Facebook page, but not here. So I thought I would. It isn't anything fancy, but it was made with love for the love of my life. I made it to celebrate Daron's 45th Birthday (click the link to watch).

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter/Resurrection Sunday. Thank you again for praying for us as we continue on our journey.

April 16, 2017


The daily struggle of life is getting more & more real with each day that passes. I am constantly worn down, tired, weary, exhausted, lonely, easily agitated, strained, pulled in a million different directions, drained, frustrated.....I could go on & on. Being a single parent isn't for the weak & being a newly widowed single parent isn't even for the strong some days. As a widowed single parent I have to try to deal with my own grief & trying to move on as well as help Taylor deal with his. That leads to a huge emotional & mental drain on a daily basis. I try to hold in my emotions & my grief until after Taylor is in bed, but that makes things worse. It leads to me being more agitated & more easily frustrated.

I feel a kind of lonely that I never thought I would ever feel. It is a loneliness that I can't even really explain. I mean, I was lonely when Daron was in the nursing home, but this is a different kind of lonely. This is a loneliness that reaches to the depths of my core. I can be surrounded by family & friends & I can still feel alone. I feel alone because I have lost the love of my life, people who called themselves my friends for years, people who have called themselves my family. I feel like I have lost myself as well through this.

Yesterday was Daron's 45th birthday & today is Easter - Resurrection Day. While I am thankful for the hope that the Resurrection brings.....I am in the midst of such chaos that I can't even focus on the meaning of today. Having Daron's birthday take place with Easter makes it so much harder to get focus on. Yesterday I spent time at the graveside talking to Daron. Yesterday I missed him & today is another day where I miss my husband, my marriage, my friends, my family, everything that I lost the day that Daron died.

There are so many struggles in my life that I can't even name them all. The largest struggle that I am dealing with is who I can count on & who I can't. Who I can call my friend & who I can't. I know that there are people other then me who are grieving Daron's loss. I know that & I wish I could be there for them, but I can't. I can't focus on the grieve of others when I can barely deal with my own & Taylor's. I can't & won't apologize for not reaching out to everyone who has ever been called my friend. I can't & won't because I need to focus on myself & my son before I can even think of focusing on others. If I could say something to all of those people it's this......I am here if you want to & need to talk. I am here, I need for you to contact me first. I will gladly talk to you about the memories you have of Daron & the memories that we share. I will gladly listen. Please understand that there will be times when I can't though. Please understand that I am grieving just like you are - if not more. Please understand that myself & my son have to come first.

So, through all of the struggles that I am dealing with, I am thankful for the sacrifice Christ made for me on the cross. I cling to the blessed hope of Heaven. I cling to the blessed promise of the resurrection & eternal life with Christ. I cling to it with every fiber of my being. I cling to it because that is the only way that I can get out of bed each day.

Grief Journal -- God's Comfort & Love

Looking at what the Bible says about God's comfort & His love.....

2 Corinthians 1:3-7New King James Version (NKJV)

Comfort in Suffering

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
How does Paul describe God?
The Father of mercies, God of all comfort

What does this passage say about God's comfort?
He comforts us in all our tribulations
He wants us to partake in consolation & salvation - whether by sufferings or by being comforted

What is God's hope for you? What does He want you to share?
His hope is for me to be steadfast. He wants me to share in the consolation.

Psalm 34:17-19New King James Version (NKJV)

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Notice that this passage says even the righteous have afflictions. What does it say about God?
It says that God doesn't treat people differently based on how "religious" they are. He delivers everyone from their afflictions if they cry out to Him.

What do the following verses teach about God's comfort and love?

Psalm 56:8You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?

Psalm 147:3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Lamentations 3:22-24

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

Matthew 5:4Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

All of the above verses show that God truly cares for each of us. He keeps our tears in a bottle. He heals our broken hearts & binds up our wounds. He is steadfast. His mercies never end. He is faithful. He will comfort those who mourn. He gives rest to the weary. He cares for us.

Christmas Letter

Where to begin? 2017 has been a year full of growth & change in our home. It has been full of good times and rough times. The year start...