Friday, August 11, 2017

One Month In

I wrote this over a week ago, but decided to put it aside until I got back from a much needed detour to Chicago with my son. So it’s a little late in being posted…

It’s August 5th, 2017.

One month in and I have to say that I might be a bit envious of the Jewish custom of mourning...

or at least the idea of it. 

If I am understanding things correctly and did my research on a legitimate website, it is the Jewish custom to have a dedicated period of time, occurring in five stages, in which they mourn the death of a loved one. 

The first stage is called Aninut, which is an intense period of mourning between death and burial.

The second and third stage is called Shivah, which is a 7-day period following burial, with the first 3 of those days being characterized as a more intense degree of mourning.

The fourth stage is called Shloshim, which is a 30-day period of mourning.

And finally, the fifth stage is called The First Year, which is observed by the children of the deceased. 

Granted, there is much more to this custom than I am writing but you get the idea, right?  

There is an ACTUAL PERIOD OF TIME SCHEDULED in one's life in which they FOCUS on GRIEVING the LOSS of a loved one. 

My days of mourning have been all over the place…definitely not scheduled…or very focused.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I sometimes just want to 
sit 
in 
my 
sadness.  

Can anyone relate to what I’m saying?

I don’t want to sit in it forever…

Just for awhile.

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There have been days that I wake up crying…unexpectedly.

Literal tears flowing out onto my pillow as I.am.waking.up. 

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Days where I am neck deep in 

kids.

county fairs.

sports.

laundry. 

cooking.

The list goes on…

and just don't have time to think about the deep loss that occurred just 
32. days.ago.  
(Wow. 32 days. Can it be? It seems like yesterday, but I remember every.single.detail.about.that.day.)

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Then there are moments that I am simply numb.  

I find it difficult to return phone calls to those who knew my mom over her lifetime, and who want to take me back in time as they tell story after story of their lives together. 

But I ALWAYS love hearing their stories.  

Always.

It’s just mentally exhausting sometimes to pick up the phone and go to that place.

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There are moments that I suddenly tear up because of something the kids did that my mom would have loved to have heard or seen…

but she's not here. 

A few years ago, Mom gave the kids one of those books where you can record your voice as you read the story.
The one she gave them was The Night Before Christmas

This was at a point that she and I were not on the best of terms, and quite honestly, I had a hard time hearing her voice

over

and over

and over again,

as the kids listened to the recording of her reading the story to them and telling them how much Grammie loved them.

I truly had no idea what a BEAUTIFUL and PRECIOUS gift that was is to them... 
what a BEAUTIFUL and PRECIOUS gift it was is to ME.

I am so glad that we still have that book and that I didn’t "accidentally" put it in the give-away pile or hit the delete/re-record button. 

Believe me, I wasn’t beyond doing something like that…unfortunately.

I’m not quite ready to listen to her voice on that recording yet, but I can still hear her voice in my head. 

There will be a day that I will be ready and will want to hear her audibly, and when that day comes, I know just where to find it. 

Side note…I’ve been told by many people that I sound just like her.  
In fact, a couple of her childhood friends to whom I recently spoke with over the phone, were actually taken aback when they heard me speak and laugh.  They said that if they didn't know better, they would have thought they were talking to mom.  

What a BEAUTIFUL and PRECIOUS GIFT to THEM.

If they saw me, they’d have thought they were seeing her also.  
I am glad that I can finally embrace the fact that I do look like her. 

—————————————————————————————

This past Wednesday (8/2) marked the 5th Wednesday since she went Home.  

It was the 1st Wednesday that I didn't consciously mark that day in my mind.

Until….

I talked to my dad.  
Actually, I didn’t even realize what day it was until after I had gotten off the phone with him.

I had only spoken with him once since my mom died. 

All was fine until the tail end of our conversation when I began to listen intently to his voice. 

My Pop’s voice. 

The voice that I’ve known since I can first remember. 

The voice that has always been 

strong.

positive.

courageous.

reasonable.

wise.

safe.

loving.

reliable.

unconditional…


And I was hearing it LĪVE.

Not Memorex.

(ha! A little nostalgia for those of you who know what I’m talking about. “Is it live or is it Memorex?”)

I was missing my mom and while we’re at it…missing my dad, who I had not seen in a couple of years, and was grieving the thought of him not being here one day.  Yes, I went down that path in my mind. 

Right then and there.

So much emotion was triggered (out of nowhere) at just the sound of his voice.  

FYI…This was definitely not a scheduled grief session. 


Perspective really changes when you lose someone from this life.

I was hanging onto 

every 

single

word 

he 

said 

to 

me 

and had a difficult time responding because the GIGANTIC tears 
began 

to 

drop

out 

of my eyes,

and it felt like I had a large, painful bolder lodged in my throat, 
and if I tried to dislodge it, it would cause a 

torrential

river 

of 

tears

to come pouring out and would never let up.

However, I kept it together…mostly, until after we hung up, and then I jumped into that river and was carried down stream 

for     

awhile.       

I didn't stay there for long, but just long enough to allow myself to go to that place.

I allowed myself to miss my mom and feel that deep loss.

Definitely not scheduled…but focused grief.

—————————————————————————————

This may all sound quite melodramatic to you, but I’ve always been a bit melodramatic…

so it's fitting. 


And please don’t get me wrong…

I KNOW I will see my mom again…in heaven.  
By the sweet grace of God, I will.

Joy!

A BEAUTIFUL reunion that has been

scheduled by God 

and 

will be

focused on 

Him.



http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/282506/jewish/Soul-Talk.htm

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Grace Upon Grace...The Restoration of a Blog, a Relationship...and a Dip into the Jello Bowl of Grief

Then let God use you to minister grace to your brother in need...


This was one of the last lines in my very last blog post dated.........August 30,2013. 

How appropriate that I would jump back into my blog now....after 4 years...

...and see this.  

(btw...I did not remember what I had last written about., so it took a bit of my breath away. Go back to read it if you get a chance.)

4 years. 

Much has happened in 4 years. 


I'll pick up where I left off...

When I wrote my last post, God had been doing a lot of "cleaning house" [in my life].

My mom had been having health issues, was in and out of the hospital, and then going to transitional care to help get strength back so she could return to her home.  

I should mention that we lived 10 minutes from each other after having moved from Chicago to Western Wisconsin 20 years ago.  She moved in 1997 and I followed in 1998.  
So I was the only family she had nearby. 

To add to this fun journey, mom and I had not been in the best place in our relationship. We had had some very rocky years prior to this and had quite a falling out.  

HEARTACHE...for both of us. 

but even MORE HEARTACHE....for the ONE who made us and fashioned us.







There was no place for

...bitterness

...anger

...pride.


But this was difficult.  painful.  

how could I change the way I feel? 

how could I walk along side of my mom when she was in need if we had this conflict between us?

So many years of baggage.  

apparently, I held onto some of it, even after Jesus had called me to Himself, releasing me of the chains that weighed me down, keeping me from joy.

huh. 

interesting. 

typical.

It's interesting that even in the believing that Jesus died for my sins, I still fought to take them back off the cross. 
fought to keep them...
...my bitterness
...my anger 
...my pride

...

I.just.can't.do.this....(on my own)

I can't change. 

I won't change.  

I had good reason to FEEL the way I did.

I am justified in my feelings....right?



Jeremiah 17:9

A wise friend once (many times) reminded me that you can't trust feelings; can't trust your heart. 

The heart is deceitful.

Only trust Truth.  God's Truth.  

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God had really been working on me...on my heart.

While I was wrestling with all of this, He chiseled away at me.

...shaping

...molding

...all the while, gently whispering His grace into my very being. 

He constantly reminded me that His grace was sufficient. I did not need anything else. 

I did not need to do this on my own...in my own power.  

He was with me.  He will do the work in me.



2 Corinthians 12:9





Isaiah 41:10




Grace upon Grace was given 

...to me

...to my mom

...to our relationship.


"God, help me to love mom the way YOU love her."


This was my simple prayer that I so often asked friends to pray along WITH me and FOR me. 

He heard and He answered...so faithfully.

This was His will. 

He made us and fashioned us.



Matthew 5:9


RESTORATION.

Thankful.

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For the next 21 months or so after the August, 2013 post, mom went back and forth from hospital to home, and each time I knew it was becoming less and less safe for her to be on her own, even with home health care coming in. 

To make this long story short(er), I fast forward to May, 2015. 

It was recommended that mom move to a nursing home...permanently.  I was in agreement  and was grateful for the place that she called home for the last 2 years of her life. 

As her health steadily declined, she steadily became more content with where she was.  

She was so well cared for.  

God never left her.  

Grace.

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The day she took her last breath was July 5, 2017 and I was blessed to be by her side.  

I wrote quite a bit on Facebook about the last week of her journey on this earth, and this next series of blog posts to come is really a continuation of the journey that I am on. 
(I'll repost those writings here sometime.)

I continue to dwell, in part, in a side dish that I like to call "the jello bowl of grief".   It is unpredictable, but I am learning to ride the wave and go with the flow.

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Today was the day that I had to pick up her ashes at the funeral home. I was supposed to get them last week, but because of a miscommunication, I had to reschedule the "pick-up" for today.  
It was the only day I could go because I would soon have to jump into a side dish of gravy that is called...the St. Croix County Fair.  My daughter is showing her pig and we will be busy, busy, busy for the rest of the week. 

I walked into the funeral home where there were 2 people standing inside the door to greet me and 2 behind a counter. I asked which person I should talk to about picking up my mom's ashes. 

Pause.

here is that phrase that I have said a couple of other times...

picking.up.her.ashes.

Breathe.

One of the women behind the counter heard me and immediately disappeared for 5 seconds, then came back with what looked like a simple, medium-sized, white gift bag containing a plain white box, with the funeral home's name printed on the front of the bag. 

My heart started to beat faster and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. 

The other woman placed a form in front of me that I was to sign so I could take her ashes home.  After I printed and signed my name...

...I stared for a few seconds at the blank space where the date was to be printed. 

The woman said, matter of factly, "It's July 18th."


I whispered with tears flowing freely...

"I know. It's my mom's birthday today."

Breathe, Wendi. 

Just breathe.



How's THAT for a dramatic ending?


So, this was part my reality today...






The grieving process continues, yet I look forward to the county fair this week, pigs, kids, cheese curds, baseball, fun, more tears, and just riding the wave as it moves.

Grateful to feel deeply.

Grateful that God gives me words to express.


One of my prayers through blogging my thoughts is that not only will it help me process, but it might help others who may not have the words... to feel encouraged, comforted, understood, not alone.

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Side note: The images you see above were taken from my mom's bible, which I decided to open the other day.

I find it so comforting to see her pen marks throughout.  

More of her legacy left behind.

The notes she's written, both on it's pages and on pieces of paper tucked in various spots throughout, in her beautiful, curvy penmanship, will be cherished.  

I think I see another blog post coming...in time. 



Blessings to you all, and be encouraged to...

Love one another...even when it's difficult.

Be kind...always.

Serve your neighbor...at every opportunity.

Be selfless...even when nobody else is.

Cherish time with others.

Give grace to someone in need.

BTW..we are ALL in need of Grace. 

And may you find joy through the tears.



















Friday, August 30, 2013

"What's that in your eye?"--For those who have FRACTURED RELATIONSHIPS... Please Read On

This morning I read my devotion for the day and I have to say it really hit home. I have experienced a fractured relationship and God has really shown me over the last few years, the condition of my own heart. It wasn't very pretty. I felt that because I had been hurt by someone repeatedly over the course of my life, I had the right to be bitter, resentful, and even tell others about how I had been wronged and had had enough.  
Well, God has shown me that I needed to take responsiblilty for the way I respond to the offense. "What's that in your eye?"  I also needed to love this person the way He loves this person. I have prayed for that for for years, that I would love this child of God the way that He loves His child....flaws and all. After all, if I look at my own heart, I will find some not so pretty stuff in there too. And guess what?  God loves me despite it all!  That's AMAZING grace, right there.  What if we loved others like that?  Lord, change the attitude of my heart.
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. ALL, not some. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.  So, with all of that said, I am sharing the devotion I read this morning...


Speck Work (Taken from The Quiet Place-Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is a big log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your own brother's eye." ~Matthew 7:4-5

OFTEN, AFTER ENDURING THE UNDESERVED PAIN OF another's sin against us, we (the offended) become theoffender in the way we respond to the original or ongoing injustice.  So even though we may have done little or nothing to provoke what first happened, we have now added our own sin into the mix.  And it is our own sin that we must deal with first.
In this familiar passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasized the importance of dealing with our own sin before trying to deal with others' failures.  This isn't to minimize what our "brother" may have done but rather to affirm that it's hard to be objective about his sin when we've got a beam in our own eye.  It's hard to help him deal with his own issue--not to mention hypocritical on our part--if we haven't confessed our own sin, even if it was a reaction to his sin in the first place.
So, be honest: Has someone else's sin begotten sin in your own life?  Then confess it--to them, if possible and appropriate.  Not in a way that excuses you, not in a way that blames them for pushing you to it, not in a way that leads you into even more sin by stirring up your anger against them,  Take full responsibility for your own sin.
"But I'm only 5 percent responsible for this whole thing!"  Then assume 100 percent responsibility for your 5 percent.  Humble yourself.  Clear your conscience.  Seek forgiveness.  Then let God use you to minister grace to your brother in need.


Do you have a fractured relationship with another person?  Is it possible that you have been overlooking your share of the blame--just as you feel the other person has done?  What might an honest evaluation expose in your own heart?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's HERE!!! It's finally HERE!!!!

So, many of you know that for the last month I have been reading the pre-release copy of Jill Savage's book, No More Perfect Moms. Well the time has finally come!!  It is available now and I can not recommend this book enough for all the mamas out there! Truly! The following is a review I wrote for it....



"Are you tired of yelling at your kids to "Stop yelling at your sister (or brother)!!"??  Why do I expect perfection from my kids, my husband, my friends, etc. when I am far from perfect? Unrealistic expectations can deflate someone very fast, including myself! No More Perfect Moms is not your typical parenting book. Jill is the real deal and she lays it out "perfectly" for us. We need God's grace each and every day, sometimes moment by moment. When we truly live IN His grace, we are able to pour that same grace out onto others in our lives. You will not be disappointed in this book. It's great to read in a group and/or on your own. You will be amazed, relieved, and even cry as you discover that you are not the only one out there who has what Jill calls the "perfection infection".  Learn that it is okay NOT to be perfect, to have the perfect body, perfect kids, perfect marriage, perfect home, perfect friends, etc. No More Perfect Moms is a MUST read and a MUST share!"


There is even a free video curriculum that goes along with the book. 
Video clips and discussion questions. Just click on the tab for the week you are on and view the video clip. If you scroll below the video clip you will find a link to discussion questions as well as links to other great resources.  

Real people, living real lives, with real "stuff" and there is real encouragement along the way. 


Where can you purchase a copy or 5 or 10????? ;)
Amazon paperback
Amazon Kindle version
Barnes and Noble paperback
Barnes and Noble Nook version
Christianbook.com paperback
Christianbook.com eBook version

But Wait!! Or actually, Don't Wait!! See below for information on bonus resources you will receive if you purchase this week!!

_________________________________________________________________________________


Everyone loves a good investment…especially one that comes with a big bonus!  This is one of those investments that you don’t want to miss!

Purchase Jill Savage’s new book No More Perfect Moms anytime between February 3-9 (online or at a store…and yes, electronic versions such as Kindle and Nook count too!) Send a copy of your receipt to NoMorePerfectMoms@moody.edu.  Scan it, take a picture of it - just be sure to send it to the email! You'll be given access to well over $100 worth of resources that will help you on your mothering journey - absolutely free! 

(Note: If you purchase multiple copies for a group, you will be able to email each person the link for all that is listed below.)

What will you receive?

6 Sixty Minute Audio Workshops (MP3 format) from Hearts at Home

·       Desperate for Wisdom - Dr. Juli Slattery 
·       How to Fight for Your Marriage - Dr. Juli Slattery
·       It is Well with Your Soul - Jennifer Rothschild
·       Multiple Intelligences - Dr. Kathy Koch
·       Ten Stress Strategies Every Mom Needs - Jill Savage
·       The God Who Sees You - Tammy Maltby

4 Printables from Hearts at Home

·       10 Stress Strategies Every Mom Needs
·       “Love Is”—I Corinthians 13 for Parents
·       Mom Rules
·       How to Fight Fair In Marriage

3 Free E-book’s (including PDF, Kindle, iPad, and Nook editions!) from Moody Publishers

·       Live Free by Kendra Smiley
·       Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larsen
·       Real Moms Real Jesus by Jill Savage

1 Contest Entry

You will be entered in a drawing to win hotel accommodations and two Hearts at Home Mom Conference registrations for you and a friend at a conference of your choice! (If unable to attend a conference, a Hearts at Home Conference To-Go will be substituted for the winner and a friend.)

This offer is available for this week only (Feb 3-9)! Grab a copy of No More Perfect Moms, scan your receipt, email it, and start enjoying your new book PLUS all of the extra bonuses you’ll receive!  It’s “mom university” delivered right to your computer!