It has been awhile I know. So much has happen since I last posted in March. So I will try to catch everyone up...if anyone is still there!
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!