Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Weather Outside...

Is frightful. We don't have a fire inside, though... so that song doesn't apply here.


If I had to choose one way to describe myself, today, it would be resting. I am resting in the assurance that my salvation is a sure thing. Not by might or works or anything else I could do. But because of what He did for me. I am resting in the truth that I am loved. I am valued. I am protected.

Today, I am taking a step back. I still have a battle to wage. And I will keep fighting. But just for now, I'm declaring a cease-fire. I'm stepping into my fortress. I know I'll have to come back out and fight some more if I want to keep moving forward, but just for today... I am resting.

It's a lot like hiding inside our construction zone house watching ice fall from the sky. Outisde, it's not too cold, but it's nippy. It's windy. It's wet. It's slippery. A generally hostile environment. But not in here. In here, it's messy comfortably "lived in," warm, dry, and we can't even hear the sound of the wind. We've actually got the heat cranked about 10 degrees higher than normal, in case we lose power. The world outside, on this day anyway, can't get in. Just like me. I'm tucked away safely inside, and the world out there can't get in. Not today.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

God Making His Presence Known.

Today, I'm waging war. Not the kind with guns or spears and armor or shields. The kind inside, where one part of me is screaming "don't DO that" and another is screaming just as loudly "but I WANT to do that." Do you ever do that? "Get out of bed, it's morning and things need to happen." "But I don't WANT to get out of bed. I'm warm and comfy." "Smile at that girl, she looks really down." "But I don't have time to deal with her." "Don't snap at him - it's not his fault." "But I need to blame this on somebody." You know... things like that?

I'm having one of those kinds of wars. I little more intense, with a bit more... consequence... than the ones above. Also a very private one.

You might wonder, if it's private, why do I mention it at all? Well... I'd like to ask you to pray for me. Pray for peace. For strength. For clarity of mind. That I'd remember what God has told me in His Word. Because those are the things I need to win this.

And while you're at it... if there's something that I can pray for you about, please leave a comment. If you don't want the comment out there for my very very few many readers to see, you can put "private" at the top of your message and I won't publish it.

Meanwhile... have you ever had one of those moments where God just makes Himself known to you? Where His presence is undeniable and unshakable? I had one of those today... I wish all of you could know those moments. I'm not saying I'm better than anyone out there, saved or unsaved. Because the truth is, I'm as bad as most and worse than many. But honestly, there is nothing I desire for anybody more than that they come to a saving knowledge of my Savior. That they would choose to walk with Him, to know Him. To love Him. And to allow God to make His presence known.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not Me Monday. Finally.

So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.
Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did *NOT* do this past week.

So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.
  1. I did not, in one night, dream about becoming a parent. Three times. By three different means. Not me. Because the fact that we're not trying is obviously proof that I no longer want it. Right? And if I did have the forementioned dreams, it wouldn't have gotten me curious enough to, ahem, deposite a sample in a cup and dip a stick. But if all that were true, the stick would have had one lonely pink line. Which means no baby.
  2. I did not get hired by a particular cellular service company. Neither did my husband. I am not seriously planning to spend nearly every waking moment in the presence of said husband. And I am not excited. Nope. Not I.
  3. I am not starting this post very early and scheduling it to automatically post. Because I did not actually forget that it was Monday. Two weeks in a row. Nuh uh. I never forget things.
  4. I didn't lose the charger for my camera battery. Nope. We just ordered a new charger for fun. Because we like to spend money on things we don't need or even particularly want. And if I did lose the charger, I wouldn't have pouted and beat myself up over it for hours. Until my husband basically said "knock it off and order a new one already." No. Not me.
  5. I did not have to turn off my headset while doing camera at church. Because the department coordinator didn't say something in a completely serious tone of voice, in order to help one of the other camera operators. And that something did not strike me as hilarious. Nuh uh. I never laugh at inappropriate times.
  6. I did not thoroughly enjoy my ride to church tonight. With an amazing, sweet woman named Mary. Mary and her husband Harlyn, and their daughters Amanda and Abi, were hugely instrumental in seeing me come to a true walk with God. They brought me into their family. To their church. And then to the church that I call home today. They stood with me as God did a miraculous, marvelous thing in me. You might have "heard" something about them here before.

    I also did not spill a little something to her that I've been wanting someone to know. Because I just got tired of bottling it up.
  7. It is not entirely possible that I will once again forget that Monday, is Monday. I am not hoping that this auto-post will jar my memory. Because I have not been even a little scatter brained lately.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Moments of Peace.

I'm sitting here on a couch cushion on the floor (so I can reach the computer more easily as it's on a wire milk crate), wrapped in a blanket along with the space heater. I'm warm. I'm happy. I'm safe. Outside, the dark green of our pine trees stands out in the falling snow. There are perfect little "microdrifts" on each branch, and large fluffly flakes slowly dropping between the branches and my window.

I'm taking a break right now from writing out some more "In Him" verses (more on that some other time). Why? Because I just wanted to share this tiny moment of peace with you.

Sometimes, the world can be a tough place to live in. Sometimes, pain can feel like it's closing in like a curtain. Sometimes, it's hard to see what will be in two hours, never mind tomorrow or next week. But in the middle of that, if we'll just let Him, God will speak peace. He'll still our hearts. Quiet our minds. And gently remind us that He is here. He is holy. And He loves us.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Furbis. The Epitome.

Do you have pets? Cats? Dogs? Hamsters? Fuzzy things in the back of your fridge that used to be food? Okay. Maybe not so much on the last one. But seriously.

I have a pet. Several, actually. But tonight, I'm just referring to one.

This one pet is, concisely summed up, "the epitome of catness." And oh, how I love my cat. He's my boy cat. My only boy cat. All of our other cats are girls. And they're all smaller. Furbis is somewhere between 15 and 17 pounds. He's as long as my body. He's a solid mass of muscle covered with long fur. He never gets hairballs.

He cuddles. Amazing, sweet, intense cuddles. Arms around my neck, face pressed against mine, vibrating so hard I can almost feel it in my feet. He talks, too. So very many sounds. I never knew a cat could make so many sounds.

He also comes when he's called. Runs to the door when it opens. Chews on things. When he relaxes, he does so by finding a big open space and sprawling out. Upside down. In those ways, he's very... dog like.

Here's some pictures of my epitome. And by the way... my beloved husband is the one who told me to write about him. Since I am distinctly lacking inspiration lately.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Best of 2008.

I sometimes visit a particular photography forum. I don't really contribute a whole lot, to be honest. I use it more for self-centered purposes. It helps me get out of ruts, and is where I've been able to get honest feedback. One of the things recently done there was to have each person choose their favorite shot taken in 2008. I had a lot of pictures I thought were cool. But this is the one I chose.

Why? Well... for one, lightning is impossible very difficult to photograph. You can't just wait until you see a flash and then push the shutter. If you do it that way, you get a whole bunch of black rectangles to stare at. You have to set the camera up, on a fairly slow shutter speed. And you have to just click. Click. Click. And hope that you've got the focus right. And the ISO. And the aperture. And the shutter speed. And hope you've got the camera pointing in the right direction. And you have to somehow prevent rain from getting all over it. Or you. And you should really try to avoid electrocution.

Personally, I find storms exhilirating. The night this shot was taken, I drug my husband out in the worst electrical storm we had all summer. We drove up to the top of a ridge and we set up the camera and huddled in the back of our Jimmy. The wind was howling, the rain hadn't hit yet, and the thunder was almost constant. There were bolts that streaked from horizon to horizon - seriously. Knowing that, this shot seems a little lame. But even so...

Every once in a while, you get lucky. And so, without futher ado, I bring my my best shot of 2008. Why don't you share yours?? I'd love to see them... leave me a comment and I'll check it out. If you want, I'll even link to it from here...

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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Do you remember who your first Valentine was? Mine was my Grampa, and I was so young I don't even remember it. You see, my Grampa has always loved me fiercly, sweetly, and consistently. He is a good man. Since my second Valentine's day (the first one I was only about 7 weeks old), he hasn't missed a single one. 14 days after he and Gramma were in the accident, and Gramma died, he STILL remembered. This year was no exception.

And I was sitting here just a moment ago, thinking about that. And I realized something... there will come a day when he's not here. It's not very likely that I'll step into eternity before he does. And chances are good I'll have a lot of Valentine's days to celebrate without him. That thought got to me a bit. Made me sad. And then I realized something... tonight, he's in his house alone. His Valentine is in heaven. And my heart aches for him.
If I look up right now, I can see my Valentine. My beloved. My husband. Watching my Grampa over the last two years has been hard, but God has used it to help me. To get me to look at this man I love, this man I married, and appreciate him more. Cherish him more. Worry less about "getting things done" and take a few extra minutes to just enjoy him. Sometimes, I watch him from across the room and my heart feels almost like it's breaking. Not because I'm sad or hurt, but because I'm so full of love. And appreciation. I know he's not perfect. I know there are things about him that could and even should change. But the gift of having him, of knowing him, is just that - a gift. A beautiful gift for which I am so very thankful.

I love you baby.

By the way, in honor of my beloved, I have changed the first song that plays. It's called "Book of Love." And we affectionately call it "our dumb song." I'll leave it up for the next week or so.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No Words.

Today, I don't have any words. Well... let me rephrase that. I have a LOT of words. But I'm not sure which ones, if any of them, belong here on this blog. So instead of saying anything, I'll just share these pictures I took this afternoon. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Easy Day.

I'm here, sitting in our "living room." It's such a... blessing? Relief? Something like that. Karen and Mike are here. Mike and Derek brought in two couches, which are now deposited in the space that will be our office. And for the first time since October 31, I am sitting in my own home on a couch. Seriously. Since we moved in here on November 1st, at about 4:00 AM, we have had three places to sit - the toilette, the bed, and the floor. Well, I guess four, if you count the folding camp chairs we occasionally use.

But no longer. Even though the room is not remotely finished - it has no drywall, never mind paint or carpet or any other such luxuries, it is now cozy. And comfy. And I'm thankful. Very thankful.

We're all sitting here in comfortable silence. Two reading. One making cookies (my hubby, of course), and one writing a random blog entry about couches. And it's easy. And good.

That's all for now.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

As Much As 72 Hours...

So. I may be silent (in the blogging way) for up to 72 hours, starting tonight. You see, I have family from out of town coming to visit.

It's not that they wouldn't allow me to come in my bedroom and spend time writing to my three many readers, it's just that I rarely see them. And to be honest, right now, it will be sort of a breath of fresh air. I'm looking forward to it, and so is Derek.

So, until Tuesday... or maybe tomorrow or Monday... stay warm. Stay safe. Most importantly, walk closely with God.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Like A Sack of Bricks.

Is there anything in your life that ever hits you like a sack of bricks? Something that has the ability to make it hard to think, hard to see, hard to breathe? There's something like that in my life.

When my husband looks at me, with tears in his eyes, and says "I miss her. I miss Anna. I come home, and there should be a two year old little girl running to the door to greet me."

That is my sack of bricks.

I would do almost anything to do that for him. For him to have a little girl here on earth to hold and to love.

When he tells me how much he misses her, and how he feels like he "shouldn't" because he never got to meet her or hold her or know her, it takes everything I have just to keep breathing. And I am so thankful. I know women who have lost babies, whose husbands weren't really impacted. I am thankful this grief isn't mine alone. Thankful that we share it, and are drawn close in the midst.

But how I wish I could take this pain from him. Ease the ache that brings the tears.

It doesn't happen every day. Not even every week. But every once in a while, it hits him. And it hits me. Like a sack of bricks.

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I've Been Tagged

'Manda (from Growing Fruit) has tagged me. I've never been tagged before - or if I have, I didn't know it. :) So here you go.

So, here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open to page 56.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 2 to 5 sentences, along with these rules.

5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual book. Pick the CLOSEST!

6. Tag five (or more) other people to do the same!

Without further ado, the book I have closest to me is called "Powers That Be." It is science fiction.

"You got time to eat?"
"Nah, I got to get back and help Im scrape that moose hide. I'll bring you some - "
"Well, say, if you're that busy, why don't you take some of this moose spaghetti home for supper? That way you won't have to fuss."

I'm tagging:

And that's it cuz I don't know who reads my blog. :)

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Keep On Keeping On.

Lately, it seems that everywhere I look, there are people who are hurting. Crying. Desperate for a touch, a "word," for anything that will give them a glimmer of hope. I see people who are on their knees not out of reverance or adoration, but in order to cry out for help. And my heart hurts for them. But the ones that really, truly "get to me" are the ones who feel so alone.

Because I can relate to that. This battle my husband and I are fighting right now, is one that tends to isolate. It's one that seems so... unique. We don't actually know of anybody else who is fighting this same battle right now. And there are emotions that come up that reinforce our choice to keep it "under wraps" from the general public. That's a dangerous line to walk - the line that stands somewhere between isolation and secrecy, and being a "blabber mouth" or constantly complaining.

I'm going to talk about what we learned in church last night (but I do promise to tie it all back together at the end of this post).

We'll start by reading from 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, verses 24-26

Do you not know that those running in a stadium indeed all run, but one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain. But everyone striving controls himself in all things. Then those truly that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. So I run accordingly, as not uncertainly; so I fight, as not beating air; but I buffet my body and lead it captive, lest proclaiming to others I myself might be disapproved.

Okay. Some background here. When this was written, they didn't run races the same way we do now. The people who ran in these races would start preparing as tiny children, three years old or so. They trained their entire life for the chance to qualify. If they did indeed qualify for a chance to run, they spent an entire year doing nothing but training for this race. Everything they ate was chosen for its ability to help them win. They carefully monitored how much they slept. They pushed their bodies daily.

One of the things they did to train for this, was to run with weights on their arms and legs. They'd start by running their absolute best, and make note of how long it took. Then they'd add weights - maybe just a few pounds at first. They'd train and push until they could run, with the weights, as fast as they could before. Then they'd add more. Some of these people would run with thirty pounds strapped to each ankle. And they'd train and push until they could run their race at the same speed as before, even with all the extra weight. And then, on race day, they'd take off their weights. They'd be free. They'd run with everything in them.

This relates to us today. As our Pastor was teaching us, I was thinking, "What does this mean for me?" Here's my thoughts. I'm not a teacher. Most certainly not a Pastor. And I have absolutely no authority in your life. I'm just sharing what I've learned, in the hopes that maybe it will help you. And trusting God to stop me if I'm wrong.

Weights. Weights can so easily drag us down. What kind of things are weights? We talked a little about those - had people call out the things that weighed them down. The ones I heard the most were as follows: Financial Pressure. Death. Tragedy. Physical Affliction. Relationships. Worry. Fear. This list is pathetically incomplete, I know. The point I'm making has very little to do with what the weights are, though. It's got to do with what you do with them.

Right now, do you have things weighing you down? Making it hard to breathe, never mind keep running? I know I do. But here's the thing... I am going to keep on keeping on. My forward progress right now feels so very slow. But I am moving forward. I'm not giving up. These weights are on me. They make everything so much harder to do. But here's the thing: these weights, are temporary. God did not put them on me. But He's helping me to keep going. And when I am able to cast them down, I will be able to run. Oh, how I'll run. I will be stronger than I ever could have been without them. I will be faster. I will be able to revel in the wonder of weightlessness.

And so, for now, I will keep on keeping on. I will put one foot in front of the other. Even though the weight makes it hard to even move, I know I can do it. I'll keep pushing toward that finish line.

Now... what about the loneliness I mentioned earlier?

Hebrews 12:1

Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.

We are not alone. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. People who are cheering for us. Wanting us to "make it." People who have understand the weights. God will help us get rid of the weights. The witnesses keep us from being alone.

And somehow, I don't think I've made myself clear. I'll come back later and re-visit this.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taking Care of Business.

To help this page load better and faster, I've removed my slideshow from the top. You can still watch it, though. If you want. It's about my Gramma, for those who don't remember or didn't see. Actually, more of a tribute. She was killed on January 31st of 2007. So two years ago this past Saturday. I haven't forgotten.

Click here to watch it.

I have changed up the background. I don't really like the new layout or background, either. But at least it's not depressing and "blah."

I'm seriously considering going to a VERY simple design, but just can't seem to make myself do it.

Lots to write about in the next few days. Stay tuned for a whole bunch of random ramblings.

I have a medical mystery to solve. Well, I'm not fully responsible. But it's a friend of mine who is the mystery. She's got the hematologist totally stumped. If there are any medical geeks reading this, please leave me a comment with any ideas.

Her bloodwork came back very, very strangely. Her Ferritin levels came back over a year ago at 10 (normal for our lab is between 29-32). After nearly a year of iron supplementation, it was up to just 12. After a month of intense iron supplement, it came up to 16. All of this points to significant iron deficiency.


They decided to check her Serum Iron. It came back at 184. Normal is between 35 and 140. They did an iron absorption study, and her serum iron came all the way up to 334. Which is almost dangerously high. She's got markers that say she's not getting nearly enough iron - a borderline high binding capacity.

So what could cause these two issues to happen at the same time?

The doctor had two ideas. And wants some help with coming up with ideas - he's out of his league. It seems it could be either something called Hypotransferrinemia (atransferrinemia). OR it could possibly be hematomachrosis combined with a recent iron deficiency. Which would be just bizzarre.


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Monday, February 2, 2009

I Can't Like That.

There is a very, very special little boy I know. He goes to our church, which is where I ordinarily see him. This little boy was an astonishingly cute toddler, who rapidly gained the use of his words. One thing he got just a little off, though, was when he didn't like something.

He'd look up at you, with a face similar to what's here (and yes, this is that little boy), and he'd say in a somewhat plaintive, or sometimes some what sassy tone, "I can't like that."

And we were supposed to tell him no? Yeah. Right. Talk about having to pull from deep inner resources!

Anyway, I set before you today a thought from me:

I can't like that. My blog's new look, that is. It's not that it's bad, it's just that... well... I can't like that. Look for another new look a bit later today.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.
Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did *NOT* do this past week.
So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.

  1. This week, I did not have a job interview. And I did not find it to be very awkward and strange, because the two interviewers didn't have any questions or anything. It was sort of... sit in a room and stare at each other. Take a tour. See what I'd do if they hire me. Bye. I was not very disappointed in myself.
  2. My husband has not been making suggestions for "Not Me Monday." No, not him. He also has not been walking around saying, "I would never do... No, not me." Because he is not vicariously living the MckMama addiction through me.
  3. I am not displeased with the new look of my blog. It doesn't bother me. And I am not too lazy to fix it just now.
  4. I did not have a physical this last week, after I realized it had been *gulp* over 18 months since the last one. But if I did have a physical, I would have been pleasantly surprised by the "bedside manner" of our temporary doctor.
  5. I did not score chocolate in a location that will remain undisclosed. This chocolate scoring was not the result of joking around with a receptionist somewhere. It also wasn't the source of amusement for several others. And I most definitely did not use my temporary stash to supply several others with their own "chocolate fix." I did not then ask if it was okay, after doing it. No. Not me.
  6. I have not been spending a lot of time being thankful for our friends Karl and Iris. Well, okay, this one is definitely true. I have been being thankful. You know that verse in Proverbs (18:24, actually) that talks about a friend who is closer than a brother? These are that. I've got a few others. Precious few. I won't name them, because I'm not willing to risk hurting any feelings. But having precious few, makes those few seem so much more precious.
  7. I did not download E-Sword. I do not love it. I am not shamelessly telling ALL of you to download it. It is not my new favorite program. I am not finding it immensely helpful and extremely user-friendly.
  8. My husband and I have not both spent several months now assuming that the other really liked Di*Giorno stuffed crust pizza. While secretly not really liking it our self. We have not purchased, baked, and eaten many of these pizzas. We do not both like the cheaper, bigger, better Tomb*stone pizzas better.
  9. We did not spend yesterday working on our house. In the course of doing so, I did not fall in a hole in our floor. Well, just my leg. Didn't. No. Because I've pointed out that everyone should watch out for it, and not fall in it. Because it would hurt. Their leg. You know, like what didn't happen to me. I do not have bruises up and down my shin and knee. No. And I did not have to resort to wrapping it tightly to squeeze out swelling. Not I.
  10. I did not have a whole bunch of great "not me" ideas for this week. And I have not forgotten all of them. Because I usually start this post way ahead of time. And I definitely am not grabbing at ideas here just to fill up space. I'm not that superficial or trivial. No, not me.
  11. I am not so tired it's hard to think, never mind type. Because I am not disappointingly not effected by the melatonin supplement I've used the last three nights. No, not me.

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In Memorium

Yesterday was January 31st, 2009. 2009... it seems so impossible that it's been two years. Two years since 2007.

I almost can't believe that it's been that long already. It seems like just yesterday that I spent three hours talking on the phone about babies with her. About wanting them. Loving them. And not having them. It seems like it was no more than a couple weeks ago that I brought home my new friend Derek for her to meet. Maybe a month since I told her, with some fear and trembling, that I was not going to go to medical school. That I was sure God had a different plan for my life.

It feels like it was just last night that my dad came to church to tell us. It seems like I haven't caught my breath yet, like the grief is still new and suffocating. Like my knees, if I stand, won't hold me. I almost expect someone to call and find out how we are. Find out how Grampa is. To ask about funeral arrangements.


It seems like so much longer than two years. I don't remember the sound of her laugh. Her voice comes and goes in my head. Her face is blurred with the effects that time has on memories. Life seems so... normal... without her. And that couldn't happen in just two years, could it?

There is so much I want to say about her. To shout, to whisper, to find a way to share with the world. But I don't even know where to start. There are some things I'd like to say to her. I had thought about making this just part of my personal journal. However, I want to be someone that lets others see her. I want the pain I feel to be visible, so the world will see God as He comforts me. So I will share this with you.


Yesterday, I woke up and forgot what day it was. I remembered a week ago. I knew three days ago. I knew it was your day. Your Heaven Day. And I expected it to be like last year. Bitter. Raw. Sad. With just a hint of joy on your behalf, a hint of envy on mine, and a flood of comfort from the Holy Spirit. But I forgot. I woke up. Our friend Karl came over to help us work on the house. You remember him, right? You always said he was "a very nice young man." He and his wife called you Gramma. They still call Grampa, Grampa. And they've stood by him. I'm getting off track. We worked until about 3:30. That's when I remembered. I don't know how I forgot that long. And then, I got distracted again. Working with Derek and Jim. I feel guilty for not having spent the day remembering. For not seeing Grampa. And for being relieved that it was, on the whole, so... easy.

Today, as I start my third year without you, there's so much I wish I could share with you. And oh, how I wish you were here. There are things inside of me right now that I know you would understand. I wouldn't need to find words to say them - I could just look at you, and you'd know. I miss that - feeling like there was someone here who really, truly, got it. I wish I could ask you how to help my husband through this difficult time. I want someone who can tell me that they've "been there" and it will get better. If you were here, I'd share with you this battle I'm waging. This internal war that is taking most of my strength.

There is so much beauty I've seen in the last two years, Gramma. Amazing sunsets. Being so close to eagles that I can see the cracks in the skin on their feet. Holding a living, breathing answer to years of prayer. Frost that coats each individual needle on the pine trees outside. There are three moments that stand out, though. Moments when I felt almost as if you were there with me. Moments that happened because of you.

One was about a month after you died. I was walking on a trail. It was cold, windy. Snowing just a little. I was praying. I didn't have the strength inside to cry out to God. It was more of a desperate whisper. Please, God. Show me that you're here. That you care. I know you are, but today, just now, I need to be reminded. I heard the sound of a twig snapping. I looked around, and saw a flash of red in the bushes. As the cardinal found his way to the highest branch, I was transported to that winter morning on the way to church. The one you used to talk about all the time. When he (the cardinal) started to sing, peace flooded my soul. A still, quiet voice whispered to my heart. "I am with you. Always."

The second moment was a few months later. It was May, and I was running on empty. Empty heart, empty mind, empty emotions. I had been planning to take you to see the whooping cranes where they stop for several weeks each spring. I went without you. I stood on top of an observation tower, straining to hear just a hint of that wild sound. I was nearly in tears when I realized I wasn't going to see them.

I was getting ready to leave, still empty, when I noticed a strange feeling in the air. I stayed to watch a spectacular early-spring storm roll in across miles and miles of marsh. Wind shook the tower. Thunder rattled the ground. I spread my arms and looked to the heavens. And that still, small voice spoke. "I am here, too. I am with you. Always. I love you. I am bigger than this storm." I drove home full that day. Full, not of happiness or excitement, and not full of the thrill of seeing those wild creatures. But full of peace. Full of love. Full, knowing I was not alone.

The final moment? I'd spent weeks wishing I could just do something to feel close to you. Something that we could have shared, that would remind me. We were in church, and we were singing a new song. As we sang through the chorus a second time, I stopped. I listened. And in my heart, in my mind, I could see you. I could see you standing there, arms open wide, worshipping our God. Our God. I could see you doing what that song said - living to love Him, to bring Him praise. That is the one thing I can do, today, right now, with you. I can worship my God. I can love Him. I can bring Him praise. And I can live.

You see, in so many ways, you are "dead." Your body was put in a casket, covered with earth. Grampa had a beautiful stone put in place to mark the spot. None of us can touch you, see you, or hear you. Your feet are no longer pacing the floors while prayer streams from your mouth. Nobody is sitting on the heat register talking on the phone. I'd give almost anything for a "Gramma hug." But really, you are not dead.

You are alive. You are so very, completely alive. You are more alive now than you ever were here. You have a perfect body. You know Him as you are known. You can dance. Run. Sing. You have no pain. You have seen Him face to face. You know my daughter. My other children. You know my sister. I don't. I can't, not here. Not yet. But you, oh how blessed you truely are. To be so alive.

And so, that is something else I can do with you. I can live. I have so may choices left to make in this life. But the biggest, most important, I have already made. I choose life. I choose to live for my King. I choose to worship Him, praise Him, glorify Him. I choose to serve Him. To give Him all of me for as long as I have left on this earth, and for eternity after that.

And so, knowing that you have made the same choice, and knowing that you are doing it even now, this very instant, I will live.

I love you, Gramma.


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