Monday, July 16, 2018

I've really missed Rob lately. I'm not sure if it is the anticipation of moving back into the house alone, the recent loss of friends, the fifth anniversary of our cancer journey, or just a big jumble of all of the above. Again, I find myself anxious about life without him.
Author Lori Reynolds Streller jolted my inbox this morning with this one statement:
We've lost enough. Let's not choose to give more to death than it has already taken.
Anticipating the pain of the missing. It can be downright crippling...if we allow it.  
I'm sure I've written about my encounter with a seasoned widow minutes before we left MD Anderson for the last time. She was a soft spoken artist. She asked to draw Rob. In a rush to get him home again, I declined the kind offer, a decision I shall always regret. But as the nurse prepared Rob for his ambulance ride, this wise sojourner drew a picture on my heart. She assured me that I would never lose Rob. I would take him everywhere I went, not hand in hand anymore, but perched upon my heart.
She was right...and in a few days, I'll carry him along with the last boxes into a new chapter, a reset, an opportunity. Our memories will quietly grace the walls while new memories are made. May our home  be filled with joy and laughter, family and friends.
Death, I won't let you steal one more piece of my heart.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

My dear friend, Becky, has collected for me the Houston Chronicle series about Hurricane Harvey heroes over the past weeks. Ironically, I'd not read many of the personal stories from those tragic hours of rising waters and dramatic rescues; I was living my own story, too overwhelmed and busy to open a newspaper or watch nightly news. 
The articles have deeply moved me, reminding me how important it is to tell our stories of pain, courage and joy.
The anniversary of Harvey collides with the fifth anniversary of Rob's cancer journey; it surprises me how this timing effects me. I'm slowly moving back home and as I unpack Rob's stuff, I grieve even more. I've been forced to clean out his upstairs closet of ignored belongings. You know, it's often easier to just shut the door, but eventually we must sort and let go.
One newspaper article details the rushing, chest-high water the night of many rescues. I must admit, I was a bit traumatized reading it, as I remembered my own encounter with the escaping reservoir.  However, nothing compares with the pain of living through this without my Rob and children. Like so many treasures lost in the flood, I can't retrieve precious moments or holidays forever lost with my grandchildren.  I've felt powerless, not being able to support my loved ones in their own personal hardships as well as achievements.  And the hardest hurdle remains: crossing, for the final time, the threshold of my finished home without the man who helped make it a home. 
As I share my personal thoughts, I'm reminded there are so many neighbors still waiting to even begin the process of rebuilding their homes and lives. Their personal storm stories continue and they need heroes who will continue to rescue them from the aftermath of Harvey. They will not have a hurricane-free day until the last box is unpacked. Consider unpacking some encouragement, delivering cookies, offering to carry off the empty boxes. My biggest cheerleader, Laura, handed me a Starbucks card during our VBS. Between house details and dozens of kids, I had no time to take care of myself. Her kind gesture fueled my frantic mornings. Dozens of tasks remain or have been ignored... energy sappers! A boat might not be needed now, but trucks, muscles and anything that beats this brutal heat are lifesavers. Most of us will not ask; you'll need to just show up!
Until the last home is finished...

Friday, June 29, 2018

Chloe Elizabeth
June 28, 2018
7:57 am
7 lbs. 9 oz.   20.5 inches
You will bring great joy to our lives!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A dear friend reminded me why I continue to share my five year journey of grief. 
“Thank you for the grace-filled loving "permission" that you give to grieve... it is truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever received “
Grief does not end at the one year anniversary; it ebbs and flows. There are weeks when one believes they have triumphed and then a tsunami knocks them off their feet again.
The good news: we can always begin again.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Pastor Duane has been encouraging us to enter Sabbath rest, a time to tune out all the noise and focus on the LORD.  He reminds us that it looks different for each one of us, but it needs to be intentional.
Saturdays seem to work best for me and I'm trying to make Wednesday mornings a midweek break from the chaos as well. All said, it's a lot easier for someone who has raised her kids and retired from the workforce. Even so, I have to make it happen.
I have a beautiful handmade prayer journal, a gift from my dear sister-in-law; it's filled with prayer prompts: quotes from pastors and writers, prayers I've copied, some I've scratched myself.  The pockets are filled with Bible verses I'm memorizing and a running log of prayer requests.
It's such a treasure that helps me focus.
John Piper's thoughts direct my Sabbath rest. 

Consider Jesus. Know Jesus.
Learn what kind of Person it is that you say you trust and love and worship.
Soak in the shadow of Jesus.
Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus.
Watch Him.  Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him.
Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.
                                                                              John Piper

What does your intentional time with God look like?
Let's encourage one another.

Friday, May 18, 2018

This photo at our favorite beach popped up on my feed the other day. It was jolting. It marks the last normal month before beginning goodbyes and finding my way without Rob.
What makes the five-year mark so unsettling? Perhaps, because we often count life in intervals of five...and milestones.
Are there milestones in grief?
Yesterday, I had to figure out my home energy plan. I struggled and desperately wanted to defer to Rob.  I'm not sure I made the best financial decision, but I decided to go with a 3-year fixed plan. 
Where will I be in three years? 
Eight years of singular stinks of permanence. Fixed...alone?
I attended my first gala post Rob last night. I entered alone, sat among strangers; it was really hard. I don't feel any stronger for doing so. 
Are there some things better put to rest?
Could I possibly be ready for some real change?

Monday, May 14, 2018

I'm a reluctant risk-taker and so when strong comments left a wound, I just wanted to crawl back into my worn journal...a safe place. But, my friend, Debbie, asked me to continue to share thoughts in this blog. I really do believe this wise woman has a direct line to God, so I'm trying to remount the saddle and give the soul bullies a run for their money.
I can't think of a better day than the Monday after Mother's Day to post this letter about my second mother.

Dear Joyce, 
You walked into my life when I was seventeen. It was not long before I felt adopted by you.
My other mother and dear friend!
You gave me your blessing when you casually mentioned that Robbie's last girlfriend was not so high-type like me.  I so wanted to fulfill your expectations; I'm still trying.
It must have been hard for you to see your first born spend so much time away from your family as our teenage relationship grew, but you were gracious to share your child with me. 
You walked by my side, supporting me when life at home was not always the best and you taught me so much about trusting Jesus with my life. 
You raised a beautiful son with great love and sacrifice; you gifted me with the best husband ever. 
You adored your grandchildren and they, too, adored you, their g-mom.
You taught me about courage as you battled your last earthly fight.
I miss you today, my precious mother-in-love. 
I'm not clear how all this heavenly stuff works, but I smile at the thought of your first born greeting you each day. 
I officially proclaim the day after, Mother-in-Love Day! You mothers entrusted us with your grown babies, thus blessing our lives beyond measure. You deserve much acclaim.
Mother Joyce, I celebrate you on your special day with much love and gratitude.
See you later...Robin