He watches over each of His sparrows. And He watches over me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Now What

     When I awoke this morning the sun was shining, birds were singing in the tree outside my window, there was a gentle breeze from the west moving the curtains ever so slightly and I had been a widow officially for one year. 365 days; 8,760 hours; 525,948 minutes; 31,556,926 seconds. It only took two of those seconds for the nurse to say the words "he's passed" - two words, two seconds and the landscape of my life was instantly and forever changed.  The man whose life had been intricately and lovingly intertwined with mine for the past 25 years had moved on to heaven and I was left alone. I lost half of myself in those two seconds - not really lost - more like torn away. Finding words to explain the experience to those who have not lost a spouse is difficult to understand.  I offer this example in the hope that you will come to an understanding of what it is like. Picture if you will a container holding two bonsai trees growing as one. Initially you think this is one tree but on careful examination you can see that there are separate root systems and separate trunks yet the trees have grown together so completely that each branch is intertwined upon another one and each supports the other completely. It's a beautiful picture isn't it? Now can you picture what would happen if one of those trees were simply removed? The tree left behind no longer has it's support system - it is left alone in that container to figure out how to manage on it's own, and left saying Now What?- crying in pain, suffering long days and nights of loneliness and isolation and no idea of how to be a single tree. I have heard some bonsai growers say that they are reluctant to grow two trees together like this for fear that if one dies the other will perish as well because of the dependency on each other.
     After that phone call at 3:36 am on Sunday, May 22, 2011 and that two second pronouncement I found myself like that bonsai tree - left alone to figure out Now What? I had had some months to prepare for his passing - it did not some suddenly, however, there was no way to prepare for the life alone that was facing me. I simply did what I had to do, one day at a time for an approximate total of 31,556,926 seconds - and some days all I could do was live one second at a time. I have heard many terms this last year such as "new normal", "grief journey", "new reality", "grief process" and I have experienced "the fog", "the disbelief", "the betrayal", "the anger", "the frustration", "the lethargy", "the loneliness" and so many, many more.
     Now, one year later I am beginning to have a bit of a new experience "hope". For you see on this day as I have remembered the past year I have seen that I have survived the worst year of my life. God came alongside and nursed me and held me and is beginning to revive me. He has shown me love through a special neighbor family up the street, through the kindness of strangers and through the love and support of some very special widows on Facebook. Yes Facebook - God is there too!
     I know that it will get better and I also know that I will still have times of mourning and tears - but I also know from looking back at what God has done for me this past year that He will continue on to complete what He started. He will heal me and revive me and bring me into the plan and purpose He has for my life.
     So, in answer to the question Now What? I say this: I will continue to choose life, the life God has planned for me. I will set my face like flint and I will turn into the storm and move through it not trying to avoid it or bypass it and God Himself will get me through it because He has done so for the last year and will continue to do so.
     And so I ask you "Now What?" Will you choose life, will you determine to press in and trust Him. Please do. The road is a long one when we do it alone but He is there collecting our tears, holding us close and loving us all the while.  Dear ones be at peace and know He loves you so.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly

     Peanut butter is one of my favorite things - a true comfort food for me. I put it on crackers and have it with milk, love to have it with apples as well as celery and, yes, a secret I will share now - I have been known to occasionally eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. I also love jelly and yes there is great joy in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which I consider a real treat. Now, of course, the third ingredient of this discussion is bread - very necessary for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Good white bread - soft and fresh - yum!
     So, why on earth am I telling you all of this? - so I could tell you this, of course! Each of these ingredients are wonderful by themselves and stand alone quite nicely -just as each verse in God's word stands alone quite nicely and gives joy and comfort to our spirits. But what happened when I suddenly found myself combining three of them this week really had an impact on me. Let me explain.
     Jeremiah 29:11 says God knows the plans He has for me - plans for a future - for good. This has been a verse I have clung to over the last 11 months. It has been a true "comfort food" for me. Recently I remembered Psalm 139 that tells me the Father Himself knit me together in my mother's womb and knew me before anyone else in the world did. Then there is Ecclesiastes 3 which speaks of a time for everything under the heavens.
     So how does this "recipe" come together in this "time" for me - When a knitter selects a project it has been in her "mind" before it actually started. She thinks carefully about what it will be used for - how strong it must be and then she goes about selecting just the right material to use for the project. Much care and thought is given to this selection and once the project begins care is necessary for all the stitches to be correct and precise. She has a "plan" for her project. She takes the time required for the project to be complete and well-made.
     My Father knit me carefully full well knowing that He had a plan for my life and that my life would include all those seasons mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3 - especially now - the "time" to weep and the "time" to mourn. But wait it doesn't end there - it  also says that there is a "time" to laugh and a "time" to dance - all in God's plan for my life - plans for a future and a hope- plans for good. God knew I would enter into this present season. He also knows that in due time I will enter into the next season - because He has it all planned.  I need not fret that I will be unable to withstand the sorrow or that grief will win. I need not fret that loneliness will overtake me. I need not fret that there is nothing in my future now that I am alone.
     I am fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together by the Father's own hand, designed with a specific plan and purpose to go through all the seasons of my life.
     As are each of you dear readers - know this - be at peace for He loves you so.