Monday, December 14, 2015

Rob's Tree

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Enter his gates with praise and thanksgiving and cell phone...  
I attended a beautiful Christmas concert last night. I'm sure months of preparation were put into it with the sole purpose of offering a night of worship to our great God. We have an amazingly gifted technical staff and I'm still marveling at the special effects: lighting, snow and was that evergreen fragrance I smelled at the end of the night? 
Sadly though, we had a lot of adults who offered their own effects, cell phone lighting.
 A group of us moved early in the service because of the distraction, but I finally threw in the towel and used my program as a blinder.  The man next to me texted nonstop, the people in front of me edited photos throughout the entire night. 
Okay, you get my rant. It just made me wonder why they bothered to come. Why not wait for Vimeo?
Oh, I know it happens all the time (Sundays in the balcony,) but the dark sanctuary just brought it to light.
Yes, our phones are smart, but are we? Are we wise enough to turn them off and tune into God? Oh, I'm all for using technology. Nothing makes my heart happier than to see a student following along on their phone during the sermon or Scripture reading; I've even seen a few take notes on their tablets. Yes, I even love the occasional photo or video on social media. Who can resist capturing beauty? I'm talking about the continuous distraction. 
Last night the light from cell phones kept me from worshiping with full attention.  I missed out, but sadly, so did the users.  I don't want to miss God; I want to enter his gates to worship.
Smart phone or smart heart?  

Friday, December 11, 2015

We gathered to say our goodbyes to Rob two years ago today.  Our dear friend graciously offered the most beautiful music, balm for our bleeding hearts.
Lindsay asked her to play her favorite Christmas carol: 
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming,
an ancient German hymn.
I remember it as if it was yesterday.
I love the lyrics, especially two of the unfamiliar verses:
This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;

True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,

And lightens every load.
O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Rob and I loved this performance from the Christmas at Baylor DVD.
Pause for a few moments and enjoy this beautiful 16th century treasure.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Keeping it simple
It's all about the Babe

Infant holy, infant lowly, For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the child is Lord of all.
Swiftly winging, angels singing, Bells are ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the child is Lord of all! Christ the child is Lord of all!

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping Vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story, Tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, Praised voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the child was born for you! Christ the child was born for you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Oh, I miss my Mattie boy on his second birthday. We celebrated a bit early this weekend with cake and cookies. He couldn't have been more delighted with his Cars cake.

Mattie holds a very special place in my heart. He is the reason Rob held on so long.  He wanted to see this little guy's entrance into the world two years ago. Rob was too sick to travel to Austin, but he met him through the wonders of technology. Matthew gave all of us a few more weeks with our sweet Rob.
He may have not held him in his arms, but he left this earth holding his second grandson deep in his heart.
So each time he settles in my lap, I discover a little more about hope.  In the midst of the chaos of Sunday's party, Mattie grabbed my hand and said, "Gigi...Go."  And we escaped to a quiet place to play cars, the memory I will hold until we play again.
Happy 2nd Birthday, Mattie Boy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's here!!!
We can start advent now!
Dave and Jess are two of the most wonderful people in the world. 
They have ministered to me through their friendship and gifted music in some of my darkest times. Their music always makes me look a great and marvelous God.

Unto Us (Isaiah 9)
Dave and Jess Ray

Let the celebration begin!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I can't sleep; hope's been on my mind. We had a beautiful night of worship at my church tonight: Joel and a choir of women, a young mother still in the throes of grief and one of our home-grown favorites sharing the real reason for hope in a crazy, mixed-up, broken world.
I saw it on the faces of women, young and old looking for some hope to keep them afloat.  
Pancreatic cancer has been on my mind as well; our 5k/walk to fund research is this Saturday, the 21st. I looked back at my journal to see the details of that date 2 years ago. Seldom do I do that; maybe I needed to revisit to remind me why I continue this fight for a cure. Funny how memories can point us forward. 
We were in the palliative care unit at MD Anderson, Rob's last in-patient stay there.  It was a difficult two weeks of both emotional and physical pain.  Rob's body was shutting down, we were not going to be present at Matthew's birth, our Galveston visit was but one more unmet wish.  We were grieving hard and staring at despair. I began listing one gratitude after another. 
One of the entries read: Sounds of Dave Ray singing Hope in the middle of the night. Hope, Jesus, a flicker of light in our nightmare.  I remember it well, a song written in honor of a beautiful newborn girl. Raw, honest music carried me through the dark that night and many more to follow.
So hold me through the hurting, Jesus
Walk me through the fire, Savior
When everything is lost and broken
I'll be holding on to hope.

Hope revisited. Hope found. Hope still holding on to me.

To hear Dave and Jess Ray's music, go to youtube or facebook

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Funny how plans change. I'd planned a daily post to promote PurpleStride Houston 2015. I will still add a few until the run/walk, but my heart just isn't into the creative push right now. 
Yesterday, I lost another friend to pancreatic cancer. Vickie went to my church. Three years ago, we were briefly introduced and a year later, I discovered she was praying for my Rob as he fought his cancer battle. It wasn't until she called to tell me that she, too, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreas cancer that I really came to know her.  A beautiful, brave, talented, compassionate woman in her prime. We talked about symptoms and treatments as well as living while dying. But mostly, we talked about family, especially her new grand child. I truly fell in love with Vickie's beautiful soul.
This evening, I once again realize the profound loss caused by this dreadful disease. Pancreatic cancer robs families of so much! I've lost too many friends, including the love of my life. 
It's a solemn battle to wage hope, to find an early screening tool, to eventually find a cure, but we must address the need for research and funding.  
Will you wage hope with Team Rob & Friends  by simply wearing purple this Friday on World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day?  Post a photo on social media, honoring a survivor or one who fiercely fought this disease. Purchase a specially marked purple Pentel pen in November to help raise funds for research. 
And, most importantly, may I ask you to pray this month for courageous patients, their families and their amazing doctors?  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when your out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.”  Rick Warren
I'm in the final countdown until I lose my precious family, a place I hoped I'd never visit again. I'm learning firsthand worship under trial all over again.   My heart hurts something fierce, I feel abandoned, and I don't desire to worship in the least little bit. But I choose to...
Oh, it's not pretty. It looks more like closing my eyes and reciting: You are good, You will never leave me, You are faithful (mixed with a few desperate why's.) I search for even a few things to offer weak gratitude.  There are no polished hymns or beautiful acts of service, but, instead, an out-stretched hand, reaching for His tight-fisted grip.
Profound...intimate? Can one describe complete, fetal-position dependency in such terms? 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

I sit in the balcony most Sundays. This vantage point affords me a wonderful picture of our diverse congregation worshipping together. Today was no different, however, this morning I received a double portion of blessing. There it was, Rob's ski jacket, draped over the shoulders of a beautiful woman.  Can you imagine my surprise when I saw it?  In the midst of my grief, I forgot I had donated several of his winter coats to our church. Yes, my eyes filled with bittersweet tears, but I wish I could put into words how right it felt to see her wearing something of his.
There we were, all gathered to study from Romans 12, yet, God added his own private lesson, just for me, from the fourth chapter of Acts. 

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32 NIV

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A photo of Rob and his good friend, David, finds its way onto my newsfeed. He shares it and several friends comment; I smile through the sadness.  My fear that Rob will be forgotten is staved for a little longer.
I, too, fear I'll begin to forget bit by bit. 
I need my I move on, please remain near for I need somewhere to hang all this love.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

 Beth Moore writes some of the most encouraging  commentary in Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent.

Christ is both Alpha and Omega.
When our lives are immersed in Him, every ending, everything we believe to the death of us is instead
a hand-engraved invitation to a new beginning.
God is so much better than He has to be.
The kinds of things God chooses to do in our lives that are "immeasurably more than we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20, NIV) are not out of obligation.
 They gush from unbridled affection.

As I continue to struggle with loss and loneliness, I will trust Him with both beginning and end...

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's October! Can you believe it? Fall has always been my favorite season; it's now bittersweet. This was the season of watching the leaves fall from our big oak while we counted days until our final goodbye. What kept our joy? Gratitude! Counting the gifts God had given us. We recorded them on scrapbook paper and hung them on the walls to keep us focused on God's goodness, even in suffering. For years, I've kept a gratitude journal, but this year I decided to get a little more creative with my thanksgiving. 
My Gratitude Tree

I bought this metal tree several years ago at Tuesday Morning.  I cut and distressed paper leaves from inexpensive manilla paper. I know I have a lot more free time than most of you; thankfully most teacher supply stores sell die cut leaves that save time! A simple branch in a mason jar works great as well. I can't think of a better way to teach children to count their blessings. How do you record your gratitude—journal, phone app, photos?
Gratitude tree on the palliative care floor at MD Anderson photo credit: Lindsay Webdell

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quick update on my new favorite read:  If:Trading Your If Only Regrets for God's What If Possibilities

One of the other team members asked if  IF was wrecking anyone else in the best way?  Yes, yes, yes...every chapter!
IF reminds me of the Book of Proverbs: succinct, rapid fire bullets of wisdom that are transforming my daily walk with Christ.  I tried to do a quick read from cover to cover to get an overall picture of the contents, but that just wasn't going to happen.  When a word artist paints such a rich picture of Romans 8, the reader has to stop and soak it all in. IF is not a theology lesson; it's a beautifully detailed illustration.  And for me, it's been a life changer, one powerful chapter at a time. I'm walking away with new enthusiasm for solid spiritual discipline and a deeper faith. 
I'm hoping some of us will want to do an online discussion group (closed fb group) or a community group so we can share face to face and drink lots of coffee! I've already seen some pretty cool dialogue among the launch group. 

What if you started treating your friends and family as they should be and as they could be? Mark Batterson

Friday, September 25, 2015

If: Trading Your If Only Regrets For God's What If Possibilities
by Mark Batterson
I've never been asked to be a part of a launch team for a new book.  I don't know the rules; I just know that God has used Mark's prior books to mature me.
My copy of IF came later than anticipated so it's crunch time to read and promote before its October release.  Disclosure: I won't have time for thorough proofing, so I hope you can look past any grammatical errors as I race to scrawl my thoughts as I read.
I think God planned my late entrance into the launch.  I finished a short devotional on hope for a women's event the night before Mark's new book arrived. The mental and spiritual preparation involved in writing it led me to a place of discovery: I've been living out a lot of if only as I grieve my husband's death and absence.  Only now am I at a place where I can even entertain what if possibilities.  
 So I welcome what God has in store for me as I bury myself in If: Trading Your If Only Regrets For God's What If Possibilities.  
I receive no financial compensation for my participation in promoting this book, but I'm expecting a huge spiritual windfall as I grow through thirty chapters devoted to the eighth chapter of Romans.  Having devoured the first two rich chapters, I already know I could clog social media with what I have gleaned, so I invite you here to discover why I'm so excited about IF

One little if can change everything.
One little if can change anything.
Mark Batterson

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We lost our parents in a relatively short span of time and there was little time to recover from one death before we were faced with the next. I was very close to Rob's parents.  Because they were extremely loving people who treated me like a daughter from the time I was a teen, I grieved terribly my second set of parents. The loss was huge, but Rob and I turned to each other in our pain, drawing us even closer together.
That's what makes the loss of a spouse so different from any other loss.  The person with whom we share the deepest pain, grief, hardships is absent; we no longer have a partner to help shoulder the unthinkable questions, the intimate details of life. Rob and I faced tragic things together, but the blows seemed softer as we leaned on each other for support. Spouses bury brokenness in each other. 
Sometimes, I catch myself having a lonely, running (audible) dialogue with the furniture, the walls, or anything that doesn't talk back! It's a habit from 37 years of marriage, wanting his opinion on even the little things. I never realized how many decisions couples make together.  Rob just always knew what to do, no complicated weighing of options.  I, on the other hand, mull over every house repair, every purchase, every little detail. To whom do I turn?  I can't call up the kids and ponder! No, no, only a patient spouse lets us get away with that.
I find myself asking, God, how long must I do this? Of course, I know God never leaves my side and that He is growing me through this. Yes, I'm learning to trust Him and even, myself, but it's still hard not to hear an audible voice reassure my fears, to feel real arms hold me up, to turn to a man who has always been here.  
Tonight I confide in God,

I am sad and [so,so] tired.
    Make me strong again as you have promised.
Psalm 119:28 NCV

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Jury duty...downtown...Rob's world.
It throws me every time—Rob is supposed to be there. With each pair of Johnston and Murphy's pounding the pavement, I expect to look up and see his smiling face. Why is he nowhere to be found among the pinstripes? 
Instead, I visit with a young woman also summoned yesterday. We freely talk as women do and before I know it she is pouring out the loss of her young husband, a fresh loss of only a year. I want to gently wipe away the stream of tears from her face and heart, but I know there are many more to fall in order to heal. We share our stories and our Hope and I have a quick chance to slip her my email and number before she is called to another room. Will I hear from her? Who knows? Only grief knows what steps it will take.
But what is the chance that two believers who have recently lost their husbands in traumatic, untimely fashion would sit next to each other in a crowded assembly room?  In fact, out of three rooms filled with potential jurors!  May I call that a God chance?  A chance for God to work out his plan to watch over us again and again...
So what am I learning from yesterday's encounter?
Show up; be present.
Be sensitive to the needs of those around me.  
Be willing to share my story no matter how painful.
Be grateful for all circumstances.
The day after jury duty, I feel richer for meeting this brave, young woman who is hurting in the worst way. I hope she accepts my desire to walk alongside her.
I invite even the painful moments, the downtown moments, because God shows up big! 
I'm forever thankful for the way He wrote my last chapter with Rob...time to hold hands and say all that needed to be said, the chance to care for his every need, the opportunity to see him today in his beautiful children. Not everyone gets that chance.
From the beginning, I've wanted to cling selfishly to our love story, protecting it from the world's scrutiny, but it was clear that this was God's love story to share.
The more it's told, the more He writes.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Funny how a melody sounds like a memory." Eric Church

I was driving down I10 this evening, wipers making their own music to the sound of rainfall while I listened to Neon Steeple for the first time.
Now, those who know me well are probably scratching your head, wondering... Crowder's new cd has been out for over a year and this huge fan is just listening to it?  Well, not exactly; I'm familiar with a few tracks that have captured a lot of air time, but I've avoided listening to the entire set. When your husband plays Come and Listen at his daughter's wedding, when your man holds your hand and your broken heart in a crowded Waco church wrapped in this man's music...well, the emotional attachment is profound and quite possibly, dangerous.  No, I have not been ready to merge David Crowder's new chapter with mine—until this rainy night.  
It was worth the wait, though; Neon Steeple is a refreshing departure from standard conference-style Praise and Worship. I like that it's sometimes raw, unpretentious, and personal. 
So back to the ride home...I'm humming, even tapping (maybe, a little stomping) along with the songs, when my soul is hijacked by these lyrics.
  My sweet Lord, desperately
                          I am alone, and afraid to be                      
    My love is gone, so far away

        I need my sweet Lord's help today
Can you imagine?  That's my story!  Again and again, spiritually and presently, on a human level... 
And then, the sweet voice of Emmylou Harris enters. I didn't need to read credits to know who offered such angelic harmony as I'd listened to her sing many times throughout our marriage.  Oh Emmylou, my Rob held you high along with your equals, Linda Ronstadt and Karla Bonoff.  Do you know how many nights we spent with you and your posse of artists, watching you perform on Austin City Limits?  If I close my eyes, I might just hear Rob singing harmony in his funny falsetto. You beautiful ladies made our story richer and our records worn.
Someone once said, 'It takes just one good song to stir up a thousand memories.'  David and Emmylou, you did just that, maybe too well. Author Joan Didion is right, "Marriage is memory, Marriage is time."  I must add, Grief finds me in this constant tug-of-war— unpacking memories, repacking a marriage.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

I'm getting pretty good at this solo-eating gig! Well, until today...
My favorite restaurant was half empty, perhaps because of the holiday. I had the pick of the restaurant, but I was led back to a little booth tucked away in the bar.  Uncomfortable...especially since I don't drink! Oh, the sweet girl tried to make me one, even insisting that I enjoy a sample watermelon margarita. It did make for a colorful, untouched centerpiece, perfectly proportioned to my teeny, tiny table. People, I need room for chips and salsa and enchiladas ...and texas-size iced tea!
All was going well until two young guys sat down a few inches away from me at the bar.  Not knowing how to behave myself in such establishments, I sheepishly waved at them and immediately went back to staring at chips and a shot of watermelon slush.  Awkward! [giggling at myself as I type away] Who waves in a restaurant?
Next time...yes, there will be a next time...I'll fight for my right to sit with the rest of the world, even if I do take up more real estate. But for now, I'll just laugh it off and learn one more thing about living solo.

Friday, September 4, 2015

She leaned in and reassured, "The lesions have not grown...everything looks good...I'll see you in six months." After I had held my breath through what seemed the longest ultrasound in history, I exhaled deep relief in response to my young, beautiful radiologist's good news. 
Then, I went to text Rob...and then, I cried.  Another never again moment!
There have been several of these lately. Wouldn't one think by now these knee-jerk responses would be a thing of the past?  
It got me thinking; would I want to lose that connection with Rob? 
Peter Flamming asks similar questions.
    Would you really like to live
    as if that person's place in
 your life really didn't matter?
 Don't you see that part of the
intense pain of your grief is
your tribute to the one you
have loved and lost?
I suppose Rob will continue to be part of my habits and perhaps, it is healthy ...if anything, it is my present reality!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tonight, I run across a corporate Christmas card that Rob saved for me a few years back. He always knew which ones I would appreciate for their creativity. 
Grief sweeps over me once again.
I miss the corporate side of our relationship: the ball games with clients, stimulating conversation over business dinners, and yes, even the annual stuffy holiday party.  I miss discourse with attorneys and executives; I long to once again peer over Rob's articles, gleaning new knowledge from each one of them.  As silly as it might sound, I peek in my closet, filled with business and cocktail attire, and wonder if I'll ever wear any of it again.
Because this part of our life suddenly died the day Rob was diagnosed, I mourn another facet of my lost identity ripped from me with no time to prepare. 
Oh, this is a complicated road to travel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's 2 a.m. I'm home and exhausted. It hits me that I'll awaken later this morning to an empty house once again. I already miss the chaos and race to get three littles ready for the day. No more soft touch of red toddler curls and sweet smelling baby cheeks...My arms scream empty; I long to cuddle all twenty plus pounds of pure joy. I didn't store up enough kisses before I raced for the plane. I'm left with a single disk filled with photos of infectious smiles and child play. I want more than memories.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

My dearest Rob...
Yellow roses wrapped in teal ribbon.
Remember? 39 years ago... they filled the sanctuary.
At the time, we didn't know they represented contentment, everlasting joy and warm friendship...
pretty fitting for what would bloom over our years together.

A hot August day in Kansas and I chose long-sleeved dresses for the bridesmaids! The year of white tuxes for grooms and puffy sleeves for brides...I chuckle now, but in 1976, we thought we were quite in fashion.

Remember our surprise when we learned the Republican Convention had scheduled their little event in our hometown on OUR WEEKEND? How dare they book every Kansas City hotel room and restaurant!
We might have been two poor college grads on a very slim wedding budget, but we were rich in love and dreams for the future.

Today, I remember our special day while I love on three of our beautiful grandchildren; you are right in the midst of the chaos, tucked snugly in my heart! Not a minute do you ever leave me, my beloved. I smile a lot these days as our sweet memories carry me to pleasant places.


The farther back you  can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.   

                                        Winston Churchill 

                  You might want to read   last year's post.                        

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"It's so hot here in Texas that the chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs!"
Just ask my trees...boy, are they stressed.  My tree man once told me I could care for thirsty trees by drilling a few tiny holes in the bottom of five-gallon buckets, then setting them around the root line.
I've been filling those babies up with gallons of water almost every day and I notice the trees aren't dropping as many leaves. 
Now, I've also heard that storms make trees take deeper roots.  Hmm...maybe the rainfall from a series of storms?
All I know is I want to prepare my giants for a Texas-size hurricane that might uproot them, causing a lot of collateral damage.
How do we protect ourselves from being uprooted by the emotional tsunamis life throws at us?  Same thing...we need deep roots.
I've had my share of ravaging ones in the past decade and find myself facing the newest one, perhaps one of the hardest so far.  
I'm learning to soak my roots long and well before the pain and loss hits.
Jeremiah said it well:
"But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT
It's not wise to wait for the crisis! I need to drench my soul in the eternal truths of my Creator, my Protector, my Redeemer, soaking in the Scriptures long before the squalls are on the horizon.  I have to believe that He is enough, nothing else satisfies!
My bucket-laden yard isn't the prettiest these dog days of summer and often, neither is my life, but what lies below is hardy and ready for the blows. 

Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. Jesus
                                                                                                    John 4:14

Monday, August 3, 2015

Press On
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14

Enchanted Rock

Monday, July 20, 2015

I feel invisible.
I make myself invisible.
What a quandary!
Who am I, this woman missing a chunk of her heart?
I search the Faithful One who sees the overwhelmed...the overlooked.  
Lady in waiting... 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Baby steps...
I have been wading in murky waters these past few weeks; seems like I make some healthy progress and then I take a tailspin.  
My precious friend, Marie, prays big prayers for me every Thursday. Today's prayers, focused on timidity and fear, got me thinking about facing some of those things I've been avoiding. 
There's a list; believe me! 
I've been driving by Los Tios, a local hangout of ours, nearly every day this summer. I've avoided eating there ever since Rob became sick. How can I ever enjoy fish tacos and pralines without Rob sitting across the table? How do I hold myself together when I see friends who also frequent our neighborhood restaurant?  
Well, tonight I decided to slay this first giant on my current list of "I'm never going back there again."  I made it half way through the meal; "Please, sir, may I have a carryout box to hold my heartache?" 
Baby steps...
Too many couples our tears, just deep sadness.
Fear #2...our community pool.   
Our family spent many summer evenings at our neighborhood pool while the kids were growing up and then, Rob and I kept up our routine as empty nesters.
Rob would jog up to the pool while I drove. In recent years, I worried when it took him longer than usual. Funny how I always feared a heart attack, never cancer. We would swim our laps, then sink neck deep into the tepid waters, shoulders always touching, and mull over our day as the sun slipped away.
I had not been up there either since Rob's diagnosis. Again, what if it is just too much; what could this place of only sweet memories hold for me now?
Well, I did it! I held back tears while watching a young man swim the laps I wished my own husband was completing and God, my rescuer, provided the perfect distraction: a darling four year old named Andrew. He stuck like glue to me, telling me all about his super heroes and swimming skills. Little did he know he was my super hero this tough evening. 
More baby steps...
I am learning that I don't need to hold on to all the things Rob and I enjoyed as a couple. Some need to be shelved with the memories, but I won't know what to keep and what to replace unless I trust God and face these fears. 
Keep stepping...keep trusting...

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7.  NLT

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Think me crazy, think me stuck, think whatever you want, but I can't take the Rob out of "Rob and Robin."  Several months ago I caved to guilt and removed a picture of the two of us from my social media and every time I look at my wall, I just feel empty. There's been a lot of talk about marriage lately; it's caused me to take a deep look at my own. Rob and I were the lucky ones.  It's a mystery how two imperfect, very flawed people could not only survive 37 years together, but enjoy a marriage as complete and deep as ours. Pure grace which I continue to celebrate, even after death's divide.   
Experts tell me I should be shaping a new identity, one with new goals and purpose. Pardon my chuckle, but it's hard to teach this old dog new tricks. Oh sure, I'm writing some new, shaky chapters, but I'm afraid Rob is permanently etched on my heart and planted deep in my soul.  
This weekend, two teens reminded me that "R-Squared" is kind of a legacy not easily forgotten.  So for now, I'm just placing any guilt and pressure back on a dusty ol' shelf and smiling each time I look at my photo of one happy, married couple. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Grandma's peanut butter cookies, wrapped in gold foil packaging...Funny how images like that pop into my mind two years later. I could always count on finding MD Anderson's comfort food in the little wicker baskets next to the coffee stirrers.  Either Ryan or Bobby would sit by Rob while the toxins dripped, allowing me a quick escape for what was often my lunch and dinner rolled into one.  I can still feel the lump of sweet dough catching in my throat as I remember desperately fighting back tears of reality. Seeking comfort in the silliest of things when hope quickly sinks, when your love is the sickest man on the floor, when cancer eats at your soul... 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day 2015
I had dreaded it.  I planned to spend a quiet morning at Rob's grave site, avoiding the faces of all the fathers I esteem and the greetings of a Hallmark holiday, but my plans and my heart began to melt with the news my boys were coming home! 
I couldn't avoid church; this was Alex's day and I found myself wanting to make him the focus of Father's Day, not the sadness of a missing husband. We really enjoyed the opening day at Bayou City Fellowship's new campus, enveloped in excitement and a healthy dose of friendliness. We caught up with old friends, Starbucks in hand, of course.  I felt myself smiling throughout the sermon as I sat with my son, the spitting image of his father, and I traveled back to memories of sitting on an aisle as a family of five on Father's Day...sweet, healing thoughts.
Then, boom! God makes his stunning appearance!
At the end of the service, Curtis had all of the men rise for a "commission" of sorts. Each woman placed a hand on their man and we prayed for their influence in our needy world. Words can't describe how powerful it is to watch your son, an excellent father and follower of Christ, stand as a man!
God spoke very clearly to me as we asked Him to send these men out to live as relentless examples of Jesus, to not falter, but to finish strong. He reminded me in those extraordinary moments that I had watched a man for over four decades live that very prayer and now he gets to rest in his Father's arms. We inscribed on Rob's headstone with confidence 2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith! Now God inscribes it on his heart and tells him face to face, the desire of every child of God.
And Rob's legacy continues...
In the lives of his children

his grandchildren

and countless young men and women.
Friday, I received the most beautiful card ever, a Father's Day card, acknowledging the love of a daddy and reminding me that I am now mom/dad, grandmother/granddaddy all rolled into one! 
A defining moment for me, I felt a powerful understanding of my own commission and a renewed zeal to keep this cherished life fresh in the hearts of our family.
Rob, you are alive in our hearts; your life is forever seared on ours. We will never forget you and promise to carry on the love and wisdom you poured into others. We thank our God for the lessons He has taught us through you. You finished well as a husband, father, granddaddy and friend. We love you dearly!

Friday, June 19, 2015

On any given rush hour,  this little roadster could be seen maneuvering its way through the Katy Freeway evening traffic. The suit-clad driver was intent on getting to a dugout, soccer field or basketball court. He usually made it with only seconds to spare; on nights he was coaching one of his kids, he'd make a complete wardrobe change inside this tiny car and would emerge ready to  give his all after a loaded day of intense meetings.
There were very few nights Rob came home and slipped into his easy chair to enjoy an evening of television. If his child was playing sports, which was most of the time, he was present...never overbearing, always encouraging.  

Rob, you truly were one of the best "hands on" dads.
Thanks for sacrificing your own time to invest in the lives of our children.
This weekend we pause to celebrate you.
You will be greatly missed this Father's Day, but
we will lovingly remember you with all of our hearts.