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!