Author Archives: J

Ebb and Flow

When a cool tear rolls down my cheek it takes some pain with it. It is like a release valve that lets built up sorrow, stress or anxiety escape from my heart. It’s a vulnerable, bearing-your-soul-kind-of-thing. I have to trust those around me. Lots of people cry in private, hiding their hearts, not trusting people, not trusting places or maybe not trusting God.

I have found a great comfort in my faith for many years. It’s solid, I can count on it. But it is also ever changing, like a river, and you never know what’s around the bend. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m drowning with pressures and misunderstandings dragging me beneath the surface. Whilst other times are full of utter refreshment and cool relief.

Ebb and flow. I trust in decreasing and increasing increments, usually dependant upon what has gone on around me. Someone dies and I don’t understand why; decrease, something amazing happens beyond understanding; increase. I don’t want to lose trust , I don’t want to “appear” unfaithful, I want to stay in a good place, but sometimes I don’t. That’s the truth.

Pain can sting twice.The original wound, and then it can also lead my heart away from vulnerable, keeping freedom at bay. Faith offers my heart relief, but when I don’t understand what’s happening around me I may resist the very thing I need the most. Humans – our own worst saboteurs!

We want to know how, why and cry “It’s not fair!” But that’s the pressure that drowns. Freedom of heart, I believe, comes only when we know that we just don’t know! That we know we don’t have complete control and trust that God alone does. When I believe that He has my hand in His no matter how furious the current may become and when I’ve just had enough and can’t do it anymore, there is a lifeboat, even if I doubted, even when I don’t trust.

The offer of relief, of freedom, is not dependant on me, it’s always there. A lifeboat always alongside. Trusting is not about understanding it’s about being vulnerable. It’s about letting your heart be in another’s charge. It’s not weakness or frailty, it’s trust in something beyond what you can see. It’s faith.

It’s why I can still breathe.

 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…”


Sorrow

I saw another sorrow this week. I saw it in my husbands eyes, heard it in his words and felt it as he hugged me tighter. We think no one deserves that kind of pain, but that isn’t the truth. The truth is hard, it’s real life and that means if you love someone deeply, you miss them deeply.

The preacher said “It’s because you loved him, it hurts to lose him.” It’s true. Does it make it easier, I guess it doesn’t but it does mean he knew love and that is a comfort.

Does that mean if we know love we will certainly know sorrow? I think it does. I think we try to avoid sorrow, I do get it, I know it doesn’t feel nice. Lots of things do not feel nice but we have to do them anyway. If we avoid cleaning things we can get sick, but no one likes cleaning, well not the normal among us. We might like the outcome but the process is not enjoyable. This is sorrow.

The process of sorrow sucks! It rips at your stomach, pulls at your heart and causes a lump in the back of your throat that cannot be swallowed. It lets us know that we have lost something that makes us feel like our soul has been torn. The puzzle is no longer complete, the game unwinnable and left completely undone.

But as time goes by this pain assimilates into who we are, the puzzle doesn’t  look like the picture we had on the box, and there will always be a piece missing. Yet, it’s our puzzle and we think it’s beautiful. We remember all the times together, good and bad that are threaded into our fabric, woven so tightly that they cannot be separated. When we feel a tug it helps us to remember who they were and who they will always be in out hearts.

I think we need to get past worrying about who sees us cry or if they are uncomfortable with our pain. It’s in everyone’s life, why do we hide it? “I’m good thanks” we say what if we could say, “He was a bloody good man, I will miss with with every fibre within me. I might cry, but it’s OK, I will be OK, but today I am just sad”. I don’t hear that kind of thing much I wish I did though. It’s the truth. When we speak truth it helps release the pain trapped inside. It escapes anyway, the pain, it will burst through, and often in hurtful and regretful ways.

Can we try this? Can we try to listen to sorrow without fixing it? Can we listen without thinking about our uncomfortableness? Can we let our own eyes well up and let the tear slide down our cheek and not care if it’s seen? Can we really care but not care about appearances? It’s a big ask, lets see how we go.

So here’s to Vik, my hubbies Dad and my new families Gramps. He really was a good man, he was his own man and in this house he will be forever missed, loved and remembered.

Vik, mēs mīlam tevi un mūsu sirdis, lai gan dziļi nobijies, atcerēsies tevi smaidošu.

Paul and Vik


Everybody dies …

wall photoes b and w

No one likes the thought of dying, but it’s the only event we all experience . Is it that we are really bad at talking about it or can’t we face it? I guess that’s the same thing.

“Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) Maybe he meant that loneliness is like death, or maybe it means that the silence around death leads to loneliness? Either way it certainly is sad and it’s our own fault.

Have you ever overheard two people having a conversation about you? I have,  I’ll chew on that for hours, days even. They don’t understand me! How dare they! What would they know! And they’re the G rated responses!! As time slips by the outrage grows and grows until the ugly monster within has festered into something I no longer recognize. The story has exaggerated, just a little, and has turned into a Days of Our Lives script worthy of an Oscar or two. The mountain of emotion inside is ready to erupt on whomever is game enough to cross my path. God have pity on that poor soul.

But what if it that wasn’t the whole story? What if there was more to it, or it was spoken in concern not accusation?? That would change things, but I only know that if I will talk about it and look for the truth. If I choose to be honest with my emotions and air them in front of a third party. Me, my emotions and someone sane. If I choose the vulnerable path of letting someone in on the pain I feel so they can help me see what is real as opposed to how I perceive it. It’s like cleaning out an abscess, all the goo just has to come out, and it is not pretty.  Once clean though, healing begins.

I think it’s like that with death. We don’t talk about it, or about the one who has died and all manner of emotions fester inside. We think it might upset someone, it might make them cry. I say, that’s OK, let me cry, my tears honor my loved one. With my tears I say “I loved you and love you still”. With my tears I let the world know that their life really meant something, you’ll know that if you see me cry about him. You will know it touches my heart, it has pulled something out of me that’s personal and completely overwhelming. I don’t want to be scared of that. But as a people I think we are. Crying, or at least showing some true emotion, helps heal the wound, it goes part of the way to stopping it fester. Unattended that wound can be fatal. It is absolute sadness and keeps you looking at the death. Forgetting the life, the infection gets worse until complete shut down.

Everyone who dies has lived. That life has still been lived if they die, still happened, still part of you. Although they are no longer here with you, beside you as you would prefer, all that meaningful life still and forever has a purpose. My late husband loved me and is forever a part of me, of who I am today. My husband’s late wife loved him, and the life they lived together makes up so many years of who he is, of course I want to know about them, about her. She is the mother of children I now think of as my family. She is utterly integral, both our late partners are.

Sometimes I feel a lump in my throat when I speak his name, sometimes a smile. Either way, I believe it’s better said than locked away. Memories shared help them stay alive, helps them feel closer. We will all face death, but will we all remember the life?

Please do, even if you cry.

 


No last words

We didn’t hear any last words. No words of wisdom. No declarations of everlasting love. None.

Cancer robbed us of those moments, there should have been more. There should have been time, but God had decided his time was done, he should go Home.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I’ll never know. I had imagined it would have made it better but looking back through reason I don’t see how. How any words, no matter how heroic, loving or true could have made the moments after any more enduring. Not many I can think of.

I’ve written of this before, one entry about your hardest moment however, is not enough. No matter the amount of words, it would never be enough. Is there a word for “don’t worry, you won’t die from grief although it seems you might” or are there words when said together form some kind of magic as to take away the pain? From what I know, no there is not. Nor will there ever ever be.

I know from words spoken in life that he loved us, that he cared and didn’t want us to hurt. But when he was gone I wanted to hear them again. I have letters, I have cards and they have many loving words on them. So much so that reading them can bring tears as they help me remember their meaning. But words on a page, on this page, don’t bring anyone back to life.

Grief; a great sorrow caused by a loss. It’s not grief if there was nothing to lose. It only hurts because I loved and lost. Finding love again is wonderful, and truly a gift I never expected. But receiving a new gift, a new love, does not take all the pain of losing the other. It comes some of the way but the echoes from the crevasse can still haunt at times. Images of his pain, of my pain, of my kids’ can still sound out from the deepest places.

I think I’m one of the lucky ones. I know I can still love him, and at the same time love again. I do find comfort from other words, often those from my faith. Words that seep love, comfort and wisdom I could never dream up. Words beyond who I am, and beyond who my husband was. They help me. Within them I find an understanding, not of what I have lost, but for the pain and sadness. I find comfort in that. Loss is loss though and sometimes it just bites.

Today I was bitten when reminded. But these words help, it’s my therapy. I cried so many tears that seemed empty, but somehow this here on this page does not seem quite so empty. Nothing fills the whole gap, I am wounded. But it helps.

“For I am persuaded beyond doubt that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭AMPC‬‬


Still Believing

I am speaking to my own heart today, I am telling it to listen carefully, don’t shut down heart, don’t tune out this time. I’m yet not sure it’s listening, but I’m giving it a go. It wants to shy away, to sit in the back, to not be noticed as it wonders why. Why?

Why?

A long time after grief began, I found a smile on my face and I felt a sigh. It was a deep, relief filled sigh that I had indeed found hope again. Stress and anxiety lifted slowly, gratefulness for this hope grew and a respect for life heightened.

But I forgot a very important fact… Life still goes on and it’s not all happy. It’s not always as it should be, grief returns, people get sick, and hard, hard days are still part of life. It’s as if there’s some arthritis from the wound, it’s healed, I can walk, but it left some decay behind. So when conditions aren’t right, I feel it again. Agony. Cancer shouldn’t be able to touch my loved ones again, but it does. The agony of losing should be a thing of the past, but it’s not. My heart should not have to feel this again, but that’s just not realistic. Life, the good and the bad still march on whether I am prepared for it or not.

But why? 

Is God still good?

Is He a carer of my soul?

Is He really all powerful?

Can I trust Him?

Does He really want the best for me?

Is He even listening?  

I’ve learnt to answer “Yes” and yes there is sickness and death and horrid things that should never happen. Yes it doesn’t seem fair (don’t even get me started on that one!). But I still believe it through pain and when it’s hard. Why?

Why?

It’s nothing to do with a survey, it’s not a feeling, but a discipline of belief I can be sure of. Doubt surfaces for sure, and many questions race around my brain but at the end of the day I know there’s a whisper inside that knows hope will still come around the corner. There is a “however” on the end of the sentence that invites my heart to know there is something more.

There is more to death than grief, there is an eternity spent pain free in a better place. There is another side to hard times as we pull together and unite around common concern. There is another side to loss if I choose it. I can choose to add new people, new family, new love…if I choose. It’s not what I imagined in the beginning but it’s still good if I choose it.

I know by now that there are many, many questions in life that cannot be answered, won’t be answered, I don’t like that. That those “why’s” are not answered how I would like them to be and some days are just plain hard. If I make my heart listen it might bleed. If I summon it out of the fog it will need to go through reality before it can see hope. I cannot hear the whisper if I ignore the reason for hearing it. I cannot feel the relief until I know the pain.

When I walk with a limp I protect my wound, my broken limb, my pain from the blows of the world. When my heart hurts I protect it too. I put on my brave face, I distract conversation away from the pain and I keep in the shallows away from the deep stirrings that probe too much. I still don’t like the pain. I’m still a person. So I’m trying “however” on the end of lifes’ sentences. However, the treatment might be good. However, we are loved. However, there is yet hope. I’m hoping God is there in the however, planted firmly in between the pain and the hope that lies beyond. I’m not looking for new answers to all the hard questions, I’m choosing to keep believing what I began believing before grief began.

I’m praying my and my loved ones hearts understand. Understand we are loved, understand we know it hurts and understand we are all in this together. I’m praying we hear the whispers of hope over the noise of the why’s.

I’m praying. 

Hope.

MI Rainbow blessings getty


Blended Life

Complications. Family. Same thing.

Blending 2 families. I shouldn’t have romanticized it. But I did.

I quickly went from dreams of happy family dinners to lying awake praying I, the wicked stepmother, would not be murdered in my sleep! The kids are good, really, we just had to get used to each other. That implies a lot of change, and kids don’t like change.

My second husband and I have 3 kids each. Yes many, many Brady Bunch jokes are made at our expense. Ha ha, fake laughter ensues…it is not like a fictional half hour sitcom, and no live in maid to clean up all our mess. Wouldn’t that be nice?

At times there have been silent meals at the dinner table, countless complaints about outings together, and endless moaning about the extra chores that come with a large household. Tensions high and relaxing became a thing of the past. A perfect recipe for stress and strain. It didn’t mean we had made a mistake, it just meant we needed more patience, more time and more unconditional love…a tonne more unconditional love.

We are not perfect, not in the past, not now, but we can get along now. We do talk at dinner and we can go away together with only the normal amounts of stress and organisation. There are no perfect steps to take to get to normal. Each family is different, heck each child is different. All I can offer is this – learn to respect, trust and love unconditionally .

Respect the relationships that exist, in fact, encourage them. Time between biological parent and child is important. They have lost part of their family so don’t add to the loss by insisting on everything changing. Respect their personal space, no matter how messy it gets! I’m not good at mess, it stresses me, so I just try not to look. Their room is their room. Basics for regular cleaning are asked for, but beyond that, if they can live in it, to quote a teenager “Whatever!”.

Our kids all had a parent die, a mum and a dad that cannot be replaced. EVER. We know that, we respect that and encourage talking about them. They are gone, but always and forever a very integral part of who we are. Best advice I can offer, don’t try and change that, be a big enough person to understand there are now 4 parents in the family.

Trust, this one took me awhile to figure out. When you birth babies you get to know each other from the ground up, the good, the bad and the ugly. Your kids know what to do, what not to do, and you teach them your values. The new kids do things how they have been trained, problem is it’s different, not wrong, just different. Motives shouldn’t be questioned, not washing a dish does not mean they hate you! It means they are a kid! I had to learn not to judge their attitudes. We all have them, those thoughts of “why should I” or “it’s not fair”. Not everything they do is a reaction to me, it may be, or it may be because they hate their new normal that they didn’t choose. Fair enough, they love their mum, and I’m new, I get it. I know my biological kids would never do anything wrong…cough, cough…of course they do. Each day offers me an education, learning to trust and hopefully one day be trusted back. 

Unconditional love loves flows out of decisions. I can’t wait to feel it. It flows out of respect and trust. It grows from the little things. Looking for moments is helpful, listen if they will tell you about their day, give help if it’s asked for, remember their traditions, find ways to laugh together etc. Then before you know it, you have a little bit of history together, then you have memories, then you have a medium to grow in. It takes a lot of praying that it will be OK, and then a lot of trusting God that He listened and it really will be OK. But the results are worth it. 

We still have a way to go, but we are OK and learning to love each other.

Respect. Trust. Love. We can’t go wrong.

SassyLanePhotography-542


HOPE

Words have power. God’s words have power. They offer hope when before there was none. They help you walk around a corner to your “suddenly” from whence you see hope. HOPE. I love that word. Not always seen, heard or felt, but it lingers in the background offering a sense that it can be OK again. It will be OK again.

Getting to suddenly isn’t as sudden as we would like. Losing hope causes your world to bottom out and it’s a steady climb up through the elements.

At first you can’t see why the grief, the betrayal, the tragedy that stole your hope, didn’t kill you. Or you wished it did because somehow that seems easier than what you are forced to bear in its wake. Darkness shrouds the hope that once was and leaves you alone, scared, and stuck under the covers.

Hopeless.

But as sure as night follows day, dark clouds do lift and seasons change. I know the winter can feel cold and unsure with hope frozen beneath the surface. Please remember this, ice melts, clouds move on and you can feel warm in the sunshine again.

Changing seasons is natural, but we don’t always like it. We see birth and death and we  navigate the life in-between. Sometimes we even hang onto winter because of the questions screaming in our heart.

How can I move on without my love?

What if I am hurt again?

What if my feelings don’t change?

Can it ever be the same again?

What will everyone think if I dare to be happy again?

We think if we let go and trust the sunshine to warm us, and it doesn’t, we have lost. Then it truly is over. Better not to try. Just leave me alone! Here’s where words come in handy. Right in the middle of the indecisionh is where a little injection of something from outside of ourselves helps. If we choose to believe them it’s like a leap from the highest cliff with no view of what’s in front of us. It’s faith and trust that believing words from an ancient book still have power to change.

Little-by-little. Minute-by-minute. Day-by-day.

Truthfully, at first I couldn’t make that leap. I had nothing left, no excess oomph … I hid in bed. But eventually what  helped was a knowing, sometimes a very faint knowing, that God did love me, He did somehow have my best in mind. The mystery will always remain as to “Why?”, but if you stay paralyzed there, you can’t leap.

My hope for you is that you can leap one day. Over and over until you see Hope like a beautiful summer rain welcoming you in to dance. It can be OK again. You can see hope again.

Believe. Trust. Hope.

John 14 image


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