Tag Archives: memories

An overflowing cup . . . a full heart.

Jason

Four years ago today, we were planning a celebration.  It was a home going celebration, a celebration of a life well lived. Four days earlier we were planning a different kind of party, a birthday party. A celebration of 30 years on this earth.

What a difference one moment in time can make. In the blink of an eye, in one breath not taken, the world as we know it shifts.

These last four years have been indescribably difficult yet they have been filled with such and out pouring of love from family and friends. I have heard people say over and over that just a few months after a death people disappear and grow weary of the grief. That they are told to buck up and get over it. (As if there is a chance of “getting over it”)

Today on Jason’s birthday I want to thank my family and friends for not being the norm. Not one time have I felt like you just wanted me to get back to “normal”, “to get over it”, to “move on”. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

I love that you have let me experience my grief how I needed to experience it. I love that you have never left my side. How you have accepted this new me, because the old me will never be again.

Thank you for speaking of Jason, for reminding me of fun times you had with him. Thank you for telling me how much he meant to you, for telling me stories about him that I had never heard. Thank you for telling me you miss him too. This means more to me than you will ever know.

Thank you for being Jesus’s arms that have hugged me, his shoulder to lean on. Thank you for showering God’s love on me.

There are so many I could name here, but I won’t try and name names, there are too many. Two exceptions my daughter, Chelsey, and husband., Tim They have been my rocks, my heart.

My heart is full, my cup is overflowing.

heat in glass

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thess 4

Time. Grief. God’s Goodness.

tears

Today I am sitting in Jason’s garden.  I have not done that much this year, it has made me too sad. This has been a difficult season for me, I am still trying to put my finger on why. Maybe I need to stop trying to figure out why and just let it be. The sadness is deeper this year, harder to shake off. Maybe there is no why maybe it just is.

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Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

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Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Tomorrow is the 4 year anniversary of the day my world changed forever.

Time is a funny thing, it can seem like forever while feeling like it just happened yesterday.

Grief is a strange companion, mostly polite and staying in a distance so as not to bother life’s everyday. But some days it is demanding and will not be pushed away. (Read more about my thoughts on grief here)

But this truth I hang on to, God is good all the time.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.   Psa 27:11

Jason

 

I remain grateful and feeling blessed for the privilege of mothering this boy turned man. I thank God for the time we were given the last month of his life.  I praise God knowing I will see him again.

And then I smile at the mental picture of Jason, praising God for eternity.

What I have learned about grief

flowerGrief is sneaky. Out of the blue grief sneaks up on me. I do my best to prepare for the anniversaries, the times I know it will be hard. But it pops up, unwanted and unexpected.

Grief is strong. When grief hits it can take me down to the ground. Swiftly, I am out of breath and drowning.

Grief does not play fair. I make deals with grief, it can come when I am prepared, when I am ready to take it on, we have an agreement. Grief does not always abide by that agreement.

Grief is a thief. It sneaks in, uninvited, like a bull in a china shop, breaking our agreement and tries to steal my joy.

This is what I have learned about my grief. I say “my grief”, because everyone has a different grief visiting them, not all griefs are the same.

I have learned to give grief a time limit, especially when it shows up unannounced and bullies me into a puddle of tears. I give my grief  time and attention but with limits. I give myself permission to cry, a lot if I need to. I give myself permission to be sad, very, very sad, if I need to.

And then I invite grief to leave.

These are some ways I encourage my grief to leave; I go outside and soak up some nature. I listen to praise music, I read the psalms. I take a walk/run to get some good brain chemicals active. I count my blessings. I do something creative. I feed my soul. I pray.

I don’t always feel like I want to do these things, but I do them. I am persistent, I keep at it until grief finally gives in. Until it packs up it’s baggage and leaves.

So today, I am being persistent, grief swooped in yesterday and knocked me to my knees, but today I am standing. I am inviting grief to leave without taking my joy with it. Having cried myself to sleep last night in the wonderful arms of my understanding husband, I am sitting in my garden this morning. Worship is music playing, I watch the birds drink from the sprinkler, and the momma and poppa swallows try to keep up with the feeding of the littles. I am preparing for a prayerful walk/run with psalms of praise running through my mind.

I will not let grief overtake me. I have so much to be grateful for, I love my life, I will not let grief rob me of my joy.

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ps 23

Calling all men . . .

I Promise . . . . . .

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog, I want to thank the men who recognized the need in my children for a male presence. There were many, my dad, my brothers, and wonderful men from my church family. Youth pastors played huge roles in my children’s lives.

To the men who complimented my daughter, who gently teased her, who showed her how a man should treat a woman, how a dad should love his children and how a husband cared for his family, I am eternally grateful to you.

To the men who took my son on father/son fishing trips, to the men who mentored my son, who pointed him to Jesus, who showed him how to be a man, how to shave, how to treat a lady, who showed him how to protect and care for the women in his life, I can not express my gratitude.

Men, I want to challenge you to look for the fatherless around you, take a few minutes to think about how you can fill the gap, how you can serve that single mom that has no idea how to teach her young son how to grow up to be a man. She probably won’t ask, a single mom is used to doing it on her own, she may not know how to ask or where to look for help. If she is like me she won’t even know, when asked, how to articulate what she needs.

This is what she needs: she needs whole families to take her children on outings, she needs for her children to see how whole families interact with each other. She needs her children to see you treat your wife with respect, she needs her children to see you hold your wife’s hand, and hug your children. She needs you to show her son how to shave, how to change the oil on the car, how to set up a tent, how to fish, and how to play ball. She needs you to take her daughter with your daughters on an ice cream date, she needs you to show her daughter how a man should treat a woman, how a daddy treats his daughters.

God blessed me with amazing friends and family that recognized what I could not express, my children would not have grown into amazing adults with out my God, friends and family. Thank-you is too small a word to express my gratitude, but it is the only word I have.

Thank-you.

 

Calling all fathers . . . .

Story time

Are you a father or a dad? There is a difference, I read once that just about any man can father, but not all fathers are dads.

Below is a paper written by my son, Jason. I found it when going through his notebooks after he passed. (You can read that story here). I ran across it again this week and I have to tell you my heart hurt and still hurts for this boy turned man who came to realizations that no child should have to. Before I give too much away, here are Jason’s words:

Why did I come? The first woman he made those vows to was my mother. This was where I finally realized that I didn’t want to be like my dad, the man I used to idolize.

Growing up there were rare occasions when I got to spend time with my dad. I knew all those times, he was an important person. My dad would get us into video game arcades where the machines were rigged to let us play for free. He knew the owner of the slot-car track in South Salem, so we wouldn’t have to pay to race. We could go to stores after hours so we were the only ones shopping. My mom would tell me, “your dad knows a lot of people,” and I’ve come to realize that was all there was to it, but it seemed like more when I was younger.

The wedding was in my father’s back yard. It was western themed. My dad along with the groomsmen all wore suits and cowboy hats. There were barrels laying around. Torches illuminated the yard. As impressive as the wedding was, the only thing I could think about was the fact that my dad had gone through this same ceremony with my mom over 20 years ago.

The first thing I remember is going to the park with my dad. He was pushing me on the swing and I, being the AD/HD 3 year old I was, started wondering what it would feel like to let go. It hurt, a lot. The whole way home I was crying and my dad kept saying, “if you don’t shut up I’m never taking you anywhere again.” It turned out that my collarbone was broken. He’s told me since that he feels bad about yelling.

As my dad stood at the altar, he was slightly taller than an average man and slightly more muscular than the average gorilla. His suit and cowboy hat in stark contrast to his normal gym shorts and t-shirt with missing sleeves. The sleeves were ripped off out of necessity rather than any sense of style. Nicely polished cowboy boots replaced his normal sandals. His straight brown hair stuck out just under his hat, and his beard and mustache were shaved off.

Several years back, just after he divorced his fourth wife, my dad called me. He asked me if I thought he could make money as a computer technician. Three months later he was a licensed computer tech. In another month he know more about computers that anyone I’d met. He’s always been like this. Whenever he gets tired of what he is doing he moves on to something else. About a year after the computer job he took a job repossessing cars. About six months later he called me and asked if I wanted to help him fight forest fires on a helicopter for the summer. He didn’t end up fighting. He tore his Achilles tendon while leg pressing something over 1800 lbs.

The minister performed a traditional wedding ceremony. So, despite being outside, in cowboy hats, the normal vows were read, “Through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, till death do us part.”

My parents got divorced when I was 4. I vaguely remember my dad driving away. I didn’t see him or hear from him much after that. After he married his third wife and moved to California, I only saw him two weeks out of the year. He always seemed to work nights, no matter what his job was. When I did visit I’d play Nintendo and wait for my dad to wake up. He would always have something to do before work, so I’d only get to see him for a few minutes. When he’d get home from work early in the morning, I’d always be awake to greet him. All he’d say was, “I’m beat son, I’ll see you when I wake up.”

His bride’s family owned a catering company. There was rice pilaf, chicken, turkey, spaghetti, punch, soda, wine, beer. The food was as aesthetically pleasing as it was plentiful. In the middle of the cake there were three covered wagons with a working waterfall.

He would miss birthdays. He wouldn’t call for months. He would seem to completely forget about me. But when he did call he somehow made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him and I sincerely believe, even now, that at that moment I was. We’d talk about my grades, what I was reading, the latest video games or the computer I was working on building. Whenever we would talk about computers the conversation would end with my dad saying, “well s*** son, I’m impressed.”

The reception, still in the backyard, included dancing. The D.J. played mostly country music. I was expected to dance with my grandmother, the brides mother, the bride. “I’m so happy to be married to your dad.” So was my mom. “He is such a great man.” I used to think so too. “He’s so good with my son.”
(Written by Jason Taylor, September 2009)

I ask again, are you a dad to your kids? Married or single, are you a daddy? I get it, being a single non-custodial parent is hard, it is really hard. Just being a parent is hard, but, they are worth the effort. Our kids deserve the effort no matter how hard it is.

I can’t say that often enough or loud enough, your kids deserve the effort, no matter what the effort is. Don’t let it be too late. Start over, do better, don’t say you’ll do better, do it. You can do it, it will be hard, there will be hard stuff, your kids may act as if they don’t want you. Keep at it, keep trying, your kids are worth your effort. They are worth your best efforts, over and over again. Never give up. Love them with actions not words, not stuff.

In these days before Fathers Day, I am pleading with you, from this momma’s heart, be the daddy your kids deserve.

 

Overflowing

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There are some days that I just wake up grateful, so grateful. Not that I am not always grateful, but some days it just feels like it will just completely overflow my heart.

Today is one of those days, I am so in love with my husband that I can hardly contain it. We are coming up on 7 years since our first date. Seven years, so hard to imagine that is was that long ago but it also feels like a life time, in a good way.

I love where I live, I love where I work, I love my family – my heart is full to overflowing.

Your Family in Pictures a review

9780823086207  Your Family in Pictures

This book is much like a recipe book but for photographs. Me Ra Koh’s step by step advice for getting your family in the mood, or setting the stage for fun and unusual family photographs is easy to follow. Prompting the reader to not just capture the formal family portrait but to also remember to capture cherished every day, such as naps, cuddles, homework time and many other rarely though about photographic moments.

The icing on the cake is right under every photo in the book, the settings she used to get the photograph. While these settings are not going to be exact for everyone who tries them, they give a starting point. I could have used these tips when learning to use my DSLR.

Even though I consider myself fairly accomplished with my camera, I am sure I will refer to this book often for inspiration and tips.

I would recommend this book to every couple as they begin their journey together. I would make a great wedding or baby shower gift.

Click here for more information

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

My Word

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About this time last year I began searching for “my word” for the next year. After praying and thinking the word grateful chose me. It has been an amazing journey this year with this word in the forefront of my mind.

At work I put a very large paper on the door to my office, I placed sharpies next to the door. At the top of the page it said “Today I am thankful for . . . .” Every day I have written something, the surprising and wonderful thing that happened next was; others joined in. The pages filled up with not just my gratefulness, but the thankfulness of others. I can hardly express how this blessed my heart, the way it adjusted my day before it even started. I now have 7 or 8 of these 2×3 foot sheets of paper of gratitude. I am indeed blessed.

I have so much to be thankful for, a loving husband that cares for me, a marriage that is a joy and blessing, an amazing family who is serving God each in their own ways. Amazing beautiful children both natural and step, the knowledge that one day I will feel the huge bear hug that I miss so much.

As I begin this month I am beginning to search for next year’s word. A word for me that also has the ability to impact others around me. Have you tried this? Choosing a word to focus on for the year? This will be my third year, check out this site http://oneword365.com/, there are many ideas here, and the story behind it. One word instead of resolutions.

I am most grateful for the love of my Jesus, who allows all these amazing gifts in my life.

Skippidy doo da

wedding day 1

My birthday month has come to a close I have been thinking about the amazing gifts my husband has given to me, not just this last month but from the beginning of us.

I am loved with no expectations, and I have been from the very beginning. When we started dating I really did love my single life, I told him so. I told him that I did not want a serious relationship, I did not ever plan to marry again. He loved me anyway, gently and consistently. No pushing, no expectations, just there accepting me.

Freedom to be exactly me, my husband has loved me for who I am and has never tried to change me. That is such a gift. The next two gifts come in the same wrapping. Knowledge that I am enough. Finally coming to myself. I am 56 years old, I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and I have finally realized that I am who God created me to be. This man has shown me more about how God loves me that any other.

Because of the three gifts above I feel safe. Safe to try new things, to be exactly me, to feel what I feel, to say what I need to say. This is an incredible gift, I have rarely felt this in my life. I have always felt I needed to measure myself, whether real or imagined I did not feel safe enough to really be me.

I can totally invest myself (and $) into a thing that I want to try. Over these last 5 years I have tried so many new things, knitting, soap making, building with pallets, photography and running just to name a few. I have not heard once that I am investing too much. That I am spending too much time or money, nor have I heard one word when I have decided that this particular thing is not for me. He is my cheerleader through all of it.

I have learned to truly relax and to let things go, I don’t have to always be in motion. I don’t have to complete a project the same day I start it. I have learned patience and to pace myself. Gently he taught me these things. It is amazingly freeing and calming. He has taught me the value of total quiet, the peace and comfort of being able to sit next to a person in total silence in peace and not feel like the quiet needs to be filled.

Waking to snuggles every morning and falling to sleep with snuggles every night. This everyday occurrence helps me to let go of the day and readies me to start a new one. I cannot even begin to tell you what a wonderful gift this is.

Really the point of this post is to publicly thank my husband for being the amazing man he is. To thank him for all the amazing gifts he gives me not just for my birthday, but each and every day. They are far more valuable than any material thing.

Skippidy doo da thank you
Lord for makin’ him for me
And thank you for letting life turn out the way
That I always thought it could be

There once was a time, that I could not imagine
How it would feel to say I’m the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A.

Tim, I never thought it possible to grow more in love with time, I did not know that this existed, when you said five years ago that we would be amazing I had no idea. Life with you is amazing. Thank you for all you do for me, especially this time of year. Thank you for loving me as I am. Just when I think I could not possibly love you more, a new day dawns. I love you more than I can say.

Lessons learned

Creativity Boot Camp Day Seven - Ornament

This week I have been searching books, the internet, for anything written about the loss of a child. There is tons out there for grieving parents of infants, not too much for grieving parents of adult children.  It is almost like the loss of an adult child is not as tragic. I did find one site that had some insight about the loss of an adult child that really rang true, they stated that often when you lose an adult child you also lose a friend, because the relationship has morphed into something different than just parent/child. I think this might be even more true with single parents. I know in my case, Jason and Chelsey were/are my friends as well as my children. We have always been close, but as they grew into their teens and then adulthood, our relationships changed. We became friends also, I watched Jason and Chelsey’s relationship change from sibling to  friendship. Chelsey and I not only lost a child/sibling, but a friend too. There is not much out there on this and I wonder why? Even so, this past week I have found many articles and have had conversations that are helping me sort out these new feelings/symptoms.

I think this may be a bit of a disjointed post hopefully you will bear with me, I would like to put all of this down in one spot,  sort it out and look at it. Help me make sense of these new waves of grief. I came across an online magazine called Still Standing, I was interested just because of the title. It is kinda my motto right now, I am still standing. I might get knocked down from time to time but in the end, I am still standing. There was an article I read this morning called Learning to Grieve, it really confirmed somethings that I learned or rediscovered this week. Grieving is not something we really know how to do, it is something we have to learn. It is  different for everyone and every situation. It talks about the waves of grief that hit us. A quote from that article hit home:
I feel gratitude to my own little girls who taught me to fly as I learned how to grieve them. It is a skill that makes me a better person and hopefully a better friend. It my greatest joy to share my girls with others who are in pain so the lessons they taught me can help me to help others. Our losses are our most painful gift. They are our most bittersweet blessing and I believe that when they are done burning through our very souls, they leave among the ashes little flames inside us. Flames that can ignite into fires that have the power to truly change the world. – Standing Still, Learning to Grieve by Tova

So, I wonder if the grief ever really goes away or if it just takes different forms and it becomes part of who we are.  I wonder if I will ever be able to count it as a blessing.

My sister-in-law, Mendi, and I were “talking” this week by email and messaging. She likened the physical symptoms I seem to be having now to tsunamis. I really grabbed on to that, that is what felt like this week, that I had been hit by a tsunami and I was barely keeping my head about the surface of the water. If I am honest I was completely underwater. This is what I came away with after processing that word picture and after reading many articles on grief.  Jason’s death was an earthquake, an off the Richter scale earthquake, and the waves that are hitting me now, the tsunami and aftershocks, should be expected. They are natural consequences of the disaster that occurred  These waves will continue to come, and I will be knocked down, but I know that if I ask for help, and I turn to my heavenly father, I will get up and stand again. And as with all aftershocks, they will eventually get smaller, and easier to withstand. They will become normal tides where I can wade with out fear of being overcome.

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I also realized this week that I was letting my mind fill with lies, lies that I should be stronger than this, I should be further along than this, I must not have enough faith, belief, etc. . . . . Thursday I went back to work, I turned the pages on my Dayspring devotional calendar, this is what was on Thursday’s date:

The lies pile up until I stop believing and finally knock them over. The tower of deceit crashed down. Not with my faith or my hope or with anything but with my blessing. Saying the name of the Lord over and over:

Jehovah Jireh – God our Provider

Jehovah Shalom – God of Peace

Jehovah Rapha – God who heals

Elohim – God Almighty

Emmanuel – God with us

Ancient of Days.

Messiah

Jesus

What power in just a name!

Arianne Segerman – To Think is to Create

So, I say these names, Jehovah Shalom – God of Peace, I need that, peace of mind, Jehovah Rapha – God who heals, I need this too, healing.

At the end of this last week and the beginning of the new, I am thankful for all of the grace shown to me this week, for the lifelines thrown out to me. I am grateful for all the others who have shared their experiences so that while I travel this road I have a map of sorts to help me keep my bearings. I am thankful for my husband who holds me and just lets me be and do what I need. I am grateful for a daughter who just comes to spend time with me, for my sister-in-law who helped me sort out my “crazy” feelings. I am eternally thankful for a heavenly father, who asked only that I stand, and carries me like a lamb through the dark places. (Isaiah 40:11)

At the end of this week and the beginning of a new – I am not quite flying or soaring yet but – I stand.

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