Sunday, October 7, 2012
Honduras was amazing. I feel in love with our small town Jesus de Otero. God met us in so many many ways. Our pastor of our church that we worked along side was very mission oriented and he blessed us with his wisdom, his passion, and his church. He encouraged us to be more bold in sharing our faith and our small team of 2 adults and 8 teens saw 160 people come to Christ that week. I even had the incredible experience of watching an 8th grade boy be in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit and just boldly preach the truth to students who were mocking him. It will be something I always remember. Always.
We finished out the school year and God had big plans for us this summer and both Elizabeth and I felt like we have started a new chapter in our life book. Elizabeth went to a few camps over the summer and continues to blossom in her maturity, education, and new adventures. She started High School Band and that has consumed our free time. But she loves it, so that is ok.
For me, I felt like I needed to push myself in the grief process and finally broke down and tapped into TAPS (Tradegy Assistance Program for Survivors). It is a non profit that helps those who have lost a military member. It encompasses widows, parents, siblings, and fiancés. I signed up to go to workshop down in Killeen, Texas at Fort Hood. I was VERY nervous but decided I needed to be brave and just show up and hope for the best. Through these short few days I was able to work through some anger issues, some hurts, find kindred spirits in the others that are walking this journey, and not feel like such a "freak" in my skin. I was also able to find about some additional benefits that I had no idea my family was entitled too. Probably the biggest thing that I gained was empowerment. Sounds weird right? Because Mike did not die on active duty, I have felt that we were kind of not worthy of the same honor as those that were KIA. Just how everything happened, I have always felt like we were swept out to pasture as soon as the words "terminal" were written in his record. But, in talking with others, I realized that isn't the case. I was also empowered because I shared Mike's life over and over again. It is sad, but there were 200 people that had lost someone in the prime of their life. Everybody wanted to know your story, know about your husband, etc. I said his name more times in that weekend than I had in 6 months. It was awesome!
So then, when I got back something just changed. I put in a job application and I signed up for a Widow's retreat with TAPS in California. This was a retreat of about 40 Widows. Again, I spent 5 days with amazing women who lost the love of their lives. These men are heroes. They all have different stories. These ladies were age 20 - 50's. Some with kids, some without. I was so blessed. It is sad, really, but I just pulled so much strength from them. All are at different stages of grief, but all are still moving. That is a BIG deal. No one really understands how your world completely stops when you lose someone like your spouse. Your future is completely wiped cleaned and you are looking at this road wondering, "what do I do now?" or more like, "how do I do anything now?" So again, to spend a weekend sharing Mike, listening to stories, laughing at Widow Jokes, crying in groups, being inspired by widows standing up for wrongs, it was empowering.
So, during all this, I was interviewing for this job and guess what? They hired ME! This whole summer God was in the driver's seat. Truly. He really placed things in my life in the best timing possible. He spent the summer preparing me for this next chapter. My job is amazing and a perfect place for me to be right now. I laugh. A lot. I love getting up and going to work. I drop Elizabeth off at school and then go to work. I get off from work and pick her up from school. My job is flexible in that I get to be there for her at school for events. A bonus is that I pray at work, listen to praise music, and go to a brown bag bible study once a week. My job is creative and yet task oriented. I remember filling out this survey at the grief workshop in one of the seminar's I took. It asked you to think of what you were like before everything happened and answer these questions. Then think of your work environment now and how does it measure up. The point was that if that your job was asking you to be more than you were or creating stress in areas that were not your strong suits, you needed to find another job. Well, this job matches perfectly. I pray that it continues the strengthen me and molds me for the next chapter, whenever that may come.
So now I am learning how to find balance. It is hard not having Mike's help sometimes. Laundry is never done. The house is never fully clean. Things are on the back burner. I don't have enough time in the day to do everything that I want. Sometimes, I am just tired. Sometimes, I say no. Sometimes it can't be done because I have to work. This is all a big change for me personally. Things now have a priority and that is what gets my attention first.
Elizabeth continues to do well and continues to be her Dad in so many ways. She walks like him, especially when she is in a hurry. She thinks like him. She is as smart as he is. She is amazing and I love and hate that she is in high school now. Time is going by too fast with her.
I need to end this by saying Christ is my stronghold, my tower, my protector, my all in all. I can't imagine this without Him. I can't. He has absolutely carrying me. I love you all so much and thank you for your prayers, your emails, your encouragement, your shoulders, and your love.
In HIS hand and holding on tightly.... STILL!
Thursday, May 3, 2012
It's Elizabeth. I have decided to start posting again after goodness-knows-how-many months of not writing.
So in order to kick off the start of my posting, I'm going to do one of those Facebook "25 Things" lists. Just for future reference, I promise my future posts will not be similar to Facebook posts in any way and I will maintain proper grammar and vocabulary throughout. Anyway I'll start with 25 thing that I love:
1. God (no explanation necessary)
2. My parents (again, no explanation necessary)
3. Belle the Beagle (sure, she can irritate me, but she is entertaining)
4. Playing the oboe (stressful, but very rewarding)
5. Rick Riordan and the books he writes (The Kane Chronicles, Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus)
6. Harry Potter (Oh yes)
7. James Patterson's Maximum Ride Novels (The Flock is awesome!)
8. The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins (Team Finnick. Period.)
9. Softball (Champions for at least three seasons!)
10. Science/Engineering (I'm sorry, but rockets are the coolest thing man has ever invented)
11. Movies (Especially in 3-D)
12. Cereal (It's not just for breakfast guys)
13. Books in general (Twilight excluded)
14. My phone (if for nothing else, the apps are cool)
15. Mythbusters (Best. Show. Ever.)
16. My bed (Paradise...)
17. The beach (Paradise 2...)
18. Saltwater fishing (It's how I learned patience)
19. Ancient history (Unfortunately not taught in my school)
20. Europe (I've been blessed with the ability to travel)
21. Airplanes (Second coolest thing man has ever created)
22. Writing (occasionally I'll throw something nice onto a page)
23. Storytelling (More than just fiction :))
24. Peanut butter (a dish that can complement just about anything)
25. Doing absolutely nothing (Again, no explanation necessary)
Now we will move on to 25 Things that Irritate Me
1. Loud Noises (More specifically, ones that come from people)
2. Losing Things (It happens at least once every other day)
3. Know-it-all's (The only person who is a qualified know-it-all is God, thanks very much)
4. Overgrown plants (Shrubbery should be well kept and aesthetically pleasing)
5. Powerlessness (When you can't control something)
6. Self-Righteous people (takes one to know one)
7. Middle School Relationships (pointless...)
8. Formal Wear (Takes too much time to maintain)
9. Reality TV (pointless...)
10. Politics (You know it's bad when 8th graders are die-heart Republicans)
11. Oboe (Yes, oboe is on both lists because it is fun, but it is one of the top contributors of my stress level)
12. School (Needs to be engaging)
13. That period of time after you finish a book ("I don't know what to do with my life!")
14. My phone charger (Just keep shoving the cord into the phone, it'll work eventually)
15. One Uppers (Me: Our team won the game last night :D
One Upper:I won MY game with one hand tied behind my back, holding a violin, while jumping off a cliff onto a trampoline
16. Thorny plants (I don't see a purpose in creating them, God)
17. Complainers (Me: Cool we get to go camping!! Complainer: Eww. Bugs and mud and no wifi)
18. Pop Music ("Baby, Baby, Baby. OOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!!" And repeat 10 times= Instant Rock Star)
19. Hot weather (It's just not my style)
20. Broken reeds (If you've ever played a woodwind instrument, you feel my pain)
21. Confusing directions/instructions ("Could you repeat that please?")
22. Neon colored clothes (The 80's called...)
23. Fashion in general (Confuses me...)
24. Gossipers (Gossipers: Did you here what so-and-so did in history class... Me: Ok, I'm just going to go read now...)
25. Commercials ("What was I watching again??")
Alright, well I've gotta split. Number 16 (on the first list) awaits and number 2 (also on the good list) wants me to get into number 16 A.S.A.P.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Then Cancer came and took away almost everything I had. It was so hard! But through it all God was there. Mike was so sick, but I had to praise God for the great family moments we shared. Mike lost his job, but I had to praise God for the people that He had called to help us. We lost all our money, but I praised God for the money that people sent to help pay bills and even get school clothes for my daughter.
Life can be very hard, but when you believe in Jesus and remember to look for His gifts even when things seem really bad, He will help you.
If you want a friend who will always be there, who will never leave you, who will be your greatest help in the hardest of times… Jesus is it! If you want to meet Him, I will be glad to introduce you!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
First of all, Merry Christmas! This Christmas season has been surprising in so many ways. It has been a roller coaster for sure. Last year seemed so much easier than this year. As I continue to walk and grieve over missing Mike so much, I realize that I have really changed as a person both inside and out. The outward appearance is easy to talk about. I put on extra weight that I didn't need in the few months leading to Mike's heavenly homecoming and also in the year after. But I have managed to make a change and lose some of that weight over the past 4 months or so. I see that as a positive change. The inside is a little harder to explain - moments and things are just more treasured and sweeter.