Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Joy is possible wherever thanks is possible-Ann Voskamp
Sometimes it is good to recognize that others say it so much better, but no matter who scrawls it, you must live it.
Every moment Joy must be taken
 Every moment Joy must be chosen
Every moment Joy must be rechosen
Because His Joy is your oxygen
Let nothing steal your joy today

Ann Voskamp

Photo credit-Robin Moore

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I shouldn't have to put scissors to cotton...
Themed XL's should fill a duffle bag, ready for 
 camp adventure, not pieced together like my broken heart.

Parents shouldn't have to release balloons to the heavens along with their broken dreams. Baby flesh should fill their empty arms.

Salt of the earth shouldn't have to sift through the rubble after the storm.  Memories should hide in leather clad books and curio cabinets.

dreams to despair...hope to heartache

Oh where do we run when should turns to should not?

There is one King who weeps when we weep.
There is one Throne where we find rest.
There is one Voice that calls us home.

to whom we can raise our fist...spill our tears...ask our why's...
who promises to turn our 
despair to dreams...heartache to hope
who supplies courage to make that first cut, let go of heartstrings, and retrieve treasures for our hearts
who creates new and whole out of shards
and leads the broken to praise Him in the storm


Sunday, April 27, 2014

I wonder if I'll ever be able to watch Jeopardy again?  
Sunday night tradition at our house for decades... rapid, friendly fire of trivial knowledge..."You failed to put that in the form of a question, Robin." "Please let there be science, medical or literature categories so I can stay up with Rob?"
It's the same with Scrabble; Internet versions are just not the same as our Starbucks & Scrabble dates.  I long for those long pauses as he ponders all of his lexical options and my unsuccessful challenges. Of course, he was always on the money!
The collateral loss just mounts. Will I ever find happiness in any of these ordinary things again?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Prior to beginning my random discourse, I fully anticipate you will probably think, She has way too much time on her hands. Actually not! But, since writing is my livelihood on several levels, I carve out a few minutes each day to try and make sense of this upset apple cart called Life.
The "W" word...Widow. I hate that word and the circumstances that lead me to even ponder it! The very sound of it conjures up negative images of dark clad dowagers, embittered Naomi's, and the worst image of all, me, past my prime, used up, pitiful.
I search for a better name to coin myself, but Webster and Oxford fail me. The Old English root, widewe, means be emptied; Yes, that's me, along with shattered and lost. I realize the legal eagles need a word to conduct the business of the lost. True, I'm neither single nor married, though I still feel very married. My inclination... strike the widow status and rename it parted!  Oh how I wish we weren't parted. 
Mrs. Rob Moore...Thank you, Emily Post, for not robbing me of that title, one that informs my world that our love never ends.
Like every other pain in this difficult journey, I must address this one as well before it consumes me. I suppose I will always bristle a bit when faced with this uncomfortable moniker, but the discovery of an obscure definition gives me great pause and forces me to reconsider my hatred.  According to the Collins English Dictionary, the last definition for widow is "to deprive of something valuable or desirable." 
Rob Moore...valuable beyond words!  
I must reshape my image of this word, embracing it as a tribute to a wonderful man with whom I had the privilege of sharing many years of happiness. I need to give this common pejorative a makeover, in word and example. 

Widow declares we were madly in love...he's gone...I'm deprived of someone so desirable and treasured that I live with great pain and emptiness, but...before the world stands a woman who saw love to the end, who devoted her life to her man in sickness and health and who now chooses to seek and share joy until they reunite.  Widowhood: the courageous battle of taking up where two were planted, keeping her beloved alive in the hearts of others, and entrusting her legacy, their legacy, to her great God. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's time to slow down again. The emotional pain of my first Easter without Rob has left me completely drained. I can't fulfill promises I've pledged; I can hardly pay a bill today. My heart breaks when a friend approaches me with "Are you mad at me? I feel like you have been avoiding me." Oh, please be patient with me.  Words might flow here on the safe pages, but stringing words to fill the awkward airtime sucks life from me. "Fun" isn't part of my vocabulary this week; tears are!  First anniversaries of the good, bad and the ugly loom: our last vacation together, our last camp, and the diagnosis. Will they snowball and bury me?
I don't expect anyone to truly understand this roller coaster ride. I had no clue until cancer and death plopped me in the rear car. Hold on with me; I'm still just hanging on so I don't fly out of my seat.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Monday

The day after the biggest event in Christianity...How are you spending it?  There's always the annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn and this year, the Boston Marathon and Aggie Muster, and Dyngus Day celebrations filled with water soakings and polkas.
My Easter Monday begins quietly, packing up Easter bunnies and plastic eggs, but I pause to ask myself if I'm still unpacking the Good News? Am I living like an Easter person who has been saved by a radical life, a radical death, a radical resurrection or am I packing up Grace as well?
Even the disciples returned to their status quo: Peter went fishing, two of them walked home toward Emmaus.  But not for long! Their lives were about to be forever changed. The two would return to Jerusalem and wage a communication campaign about the Risen Lord, Peter and the other ten would pack their bags and preach, teach and feed the nations, and countless others would lose their lives in exchange for abundant Life. 
Radical living... the early days after and even today.
I've been studying the work of Little Changes International, a local ministry that feeds and disciples some the poorest children on our planet, and I'm moved by the example of seven young people, the Little Changes International's Board of Directors.  They are busy people, holding down full time jobs, caring for their babies, completing advanced degrees, but they still find time to live in a radical way for Jesus. They devote hours to this ministry and receive no pay, no perks. In fact, many months they plunge into their personal savings to ensure the safety of six young girls, protecting them from being  re-trafficked onto the streets of Cambodia.
 Why? Because they take Jesus' charge to Peter,  feed my sheep, as their own. David Platt writes in his book, Radical, "The mark of Christ followers is that their hearts are in heaven and their treasures are spent there." These seven live out this powerful quote!  
So on this Easter Monday, I ask myself once again: Am I closing the pages of the Resurrection Story until this time next year or am I living like one changed by it? Will I feed his sheep, will I spread His Story beyond my borders?  Jim Elliot, the beloved martyr who served in Ecuador in the fifties, once said " He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." and 
 " Wherever you are, be all there."
Some radical advice for some radical living!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thirty four years ago...We had the whole world ahead of us!
Today, this Easter Sunday, I prayed hard to just make it out of bed and press one step into my small, overturn world.   No "up from the grave" resounding from the keys of our living room Kimball like Easters past, no picking out the perfect spring tie for my sweet man, no one to tell me that I look okay for The Big Event.
 Sweet Jesus, this is not about me this shaky morning; it's all about You, the Risen One. Turn my grave story into one of hope.
Lean in strong...Don the purple dress I wore to celebrate Rob's welcome into his Savior's arms. Yes, wear the regal one for the King who gives you courage.
Oldest son graciously fills the empty seat next to me...My pew family bolsters me with love and encouragement.
I make it through strains of alleluia.
Silence swallows the late afternoon.  Like Mary, I run to the tomb, bringing stuff as women folk often do. I already know Rob's not really there, but... I take snippets of the church hydrangeas and a band I've sported all week to help me remember nails and crossbeams and redemption. 

I read the Resurrection Story;  Rob lives the Resurrection Story! 
 God, turn this grave into one of hope. 
Gathering my chair and Bible to leave, a Persian family gathers around a freshly dug grave. We nod and smile with understanding glances, then, the matriarch approaches me.  'My husband was buried here last week...stage IV pancreatic cancer...he lived three months after they told us.'  I whisper, "I know, mine too." Two wives, different accents, different worlds, immediately bond over the toll of this devastating cancer. She's still numb, feels nothing...I've traveled far enough to feel everything. But today holds Hope... I share with Spirit-infused boldness; a stricken family hears about Grace, the very reason I'm still standing. I drive away one friend richer.  
A quick stop for refreshment finds me sharing Jesus to another griever.  Milagra, her name, and I remind her that she is a miracle created by God. This newly divorced woman spews tear- stained disdain and despair and all I can do is hold her hand, shake my head, tell her I don't have answers for our present pain...but I have Hope to offer and today is the reason. 
Thirty-four Easters ago, baby in arms, husband by my side, never would I have believed today would take this precarious path. 
But this I know; He's using these ashes every shaky step along the way.

He is risen
He is risen indeed
Death defeated, sins forgiven
Debt paid, hope restored
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Waiting for Sunday

Last nail thrust, final breath drawn.
Women waiting with spices,
Waiting for the Sabbath to end, to anoint his body.
Disciples waited behind locked doors, afraid of Jewish leaders.
Did any of them wait with hope? 
Were there any Simeons or Annas?

Were there any waiting for something greater than death?

For what are we waiting this 
Holy Saturday?

A restored relationship, healing, answers to long-standing prayers
Or simply for the return of 
the One and Only?

Are we a people who wait with hope?

Surely, a people who know the end of the Jesus Story...

May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust [wait] in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Friday, April 18, 2014

“Your only hope for joy, your only hope for peace, your only hope for comfort, your only hope for strength and your only hope for love in this life … is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. Your only hope in this life is found in the brutal, bloody, humiliation of a naked man on a wooden post." David Platt

Crossbeam tearing wounded flesh...hammer striking iron...
shrieks of unfathomable pain...drops of redemption blood...
grimace with each agonizing breath...
trembling limbs stretched...
startled eyes searching the heavens...
haunting thoughts of abandonment and betrayal...
uncontrollable sobs from a grieving mother...
jeers from a lost crowd...repentant cries from a thief...
merciful eyes forgiving humanity...

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed. I Peter 2:24

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it...
Take, eat; this is My body.  Matt. 26:26
I am the Bread of Life John 6:48
Jesus, let me feed on nothing but You.

You shall set the shewbread on the table
before Me always.  Exodus 25:30
Your invitation to fellowship with You is always open.

Taste and see for the LORD is good...Psalm 34:8.
If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. John 6:51
The more I seek you,
The more I find you.
The more I find you, the more I love you.
I want to sit at your feet,
Drink from the cup in your hand,
Lay back against you and breath, feel your heart beat.
This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace; it's overwhelming   Zach Neese

Pause and drink from His cup...

He poured out his life unto death...Isaiah 53:12
a drink offering for our sins...

This is my blood of the covenant
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.   Matthew 26:28

Remember Me...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bluebonnets, babies, and brothels

Healing happens when I least expect it. During my two weeks in beautiful California, I couldn't get the bluebonnets out of my mind. Rob and I always took a day each spring to explore the back roads of our Texas Hill Country. Our siblings, Brad and Nancy, joined us for our last trip together last April and I shall ever be grateful for wonderful memories. 

Part of leaning into grief is traveling familiar roads alone; I knew I must make this annual pilgrimage once again.
Little did I know that the dam would break with the first explosion of color, Rob's favorite, bluebonnets mixed with Indian paintbrush. Grief spilled in violent sobs, my pain sounded more like the braying of nearby donkeys.  I could hear his urging, "Don't miss those over there...Are you looking?" He knew me well as I was probably fiddling with my camera settings. "Where we gonna eat today? BBQ? A piece of pie?" Each sweet memory pressed a little harder, tears flooded the trip to Austin, but once there I knew I was one step closer to whole. Exhausted...yes, but stronger, the burden lighter...
I enjoyed the babies like I had not been able for months. Pure joy cuddling with Mattie and playing with Stephen. I felt like a grandmother again!

The weekend with the kids ended in the most surprising way. With boys down for a nap after all of our outings, Stephany and Alex began to share their hearts over recent needs in their ministry, Little Changes International. I had just informed God that I had no idea when or where my next ministry step would lie and He would have to drop it in my lap. I hoped with all my heart that God would use my passion for ending human trafficking. 
They began to share about a Home of Hope, a transition home for 6 young girls rescued from the same Cambodian brothels that startled me into action several years ago.  They needed my help with this new project, 6 girls needed my help, God had dropped the need into my lap! Another step in healing...investing in the healing of the least of these.
The wildflowers were even brighter on the way home. So was my heart and the future of six beautiful girls...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Four months have passed and not only am I still standing, but I'm learning to fly!  Two cars have found new homes, numerous accounts transferred into my name, emotional treks to the courthouse, two trips under my belt....But never flying solo, not once!
Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley penned it well: You are the wind beneath my wings!
Isaiah composed it even better:
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31NLT
Jeff, Larry, Isaiah, did you have any idea how scary, how difficult stepping off the ledge would be? Did you realize my heart would break over and over with each new flap of a wing?
God, you stir my nest, you nudge me to soar, you raise me up! 
Higher calling still on the horizon...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It should have been me

I already hear the thoughtful comments in response to this very honest post. I know that my musing will seem irrational, but I know there is another soul out there who has felt the same way during their loss.
It should have been me...Guilt!
My children shared much more with Rob: music, sports, business world.
He was easy...they just liked him...he had more resources to help them with life. 
Friends miss their lunch partner, their team mate on the court, their "go-to" when they need advice.
Siblings lost their big brother; I'm a sad substitute for a man everyone loved to like.
I try to keep Rob present so they don't miss him so much. Do they miss me? I'm still present and miss them. 
I can't be their Rob. I'm not as likable, but I pray I'm still lovable...Scared! 
They might be wishing it would have been me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage...Romans 12:6-8 NIV 
I fight the urge to lash out at insensitive and shallow comments about grief. A lot of people just don't know what to say and instead of remaining silent, they fill the awkwardness with trite advice and platitudes.  Sadly, three camps are at fault: the friends on the sideline who have never experienced great loss, but assume they have the best answer, the fixers who serve up unfiltered, unsolicited advice, and surprisingly, the wounded warriors who have camped in the trenches all too often, who mildly chastise those seeking comfort. Instead of using their past sorrows to minister to the newly afflicted, the most wounded often lecture about remaining strong and brave, "because it eventually happens to all of us!  "Now, honey, would you have wanted him to suffer? Life goes on and you need to make the most of it."  Statements like these produce more guilt than healing; I run for cover! 
Paul teaches me that not everyone has been entrusted with the spiritual gift of encouragement and even those who have don't always exercise it. That softens the blow a lot. I realize that for many, saying the right words just doesn't come easily and I need to be more understanding.   Conversely, I am so grateful for those graced with such a wonderful gift, who exhort me and others in this difficult journey. 
Words are powerful; they can build or destroy.  Grieving hearts don't need more wounds.
I want to learn to be a great encourager. God doesn't let any of us off the hook just because He might have assigned us a different set of spiritual gifts. Many scriptures spur each one of us to encourage others in good and bad times. 
 Please, God, deliver me out of this trial with a zeal to uplift the next wounded soul. Teach me silence and sensitivity when needed and never let me forget this pain so I can be present in another's grief.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

God put the sunshine back in Southern 
California today.
I wish my heart felt as sunny.
I am surrounded by love here: a lively four year old full of hugs, an infectious ten month old who gives "drooly" kisses and their parents who are kind and patient and understanding.
But the elephant remains in the room. We all know it's not the same without Rob. There's no March Madness on the T.V., no Baba sitting on the floor playing among the Disney Princesses, and no field trips to the Valley Kitchen or Coronado Beach with the grandgirls.  I suppose it takes too much energy to raise the obvious. 
I find his voice in a Hallmark recordable book...ambushed, delighted all at once.
I listen over and over to every mid west inflection; for a moment, Rob fills the room. But as with all good stories, we must close the page until we revisit once again. 
A lot like grief...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Joy Counting


Getting up at 5:30 a.m. to give this cutie her bottle.

Singing Skidamarink
along with the hand movements over and over and over.

Both of us lighting up when we see each other.