21) THE START OF SOMETHING NEW
Today is my first day with students.... I think back to when I was a little girl and all I wanted to be was a teacher.
Day 237 - July 26th at 8:03pm
Some days you just have to buy your own flowers..... and that's ok. ❤️
Day 239 - July 28th at 7:37am
Death brings so much unfairness with it. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "This is so unfair!" over the last 7 months and 22 days. My former world was filled with much fairness and much justice. My current world isn't. When I see men wearing a wedding band, when I see daddy's having fun with their children, when I have to do a "man's job" around the house, when I have to do things that Mike should be here doing, I can't help but say to myself, "This is so unfair!" Along with the despair of unfairness comes with it the agony of disappointment because my life, as I knew it, was taken from me because of a drunk driver. Fairness would say, "The drunk driver should have died..... not Mike." But fairness isn't fair. Life isn't fair. It's not fair when parents leave their children, whether they walk out intentionally or unintentionally. It's not fair when husbands leave their wives, whether intentionally or unintentionally. So what do we do when we experience the injustices of life? How do we cope with the unfairness of it all? Jesus' life on earth was filled with much unfairness. He never even sinned, yet he died on a cross to pay for my sins, and yours. He was wrongly accused. He was despised and rejected by men. He never did anything wrong in his whole entire life. Yes, his death was unfair. I have to remind myself that the disappointment and heartache that I go through is nothing He hasn't experienced before me. He felt the unfairness of life, but He loved me enough to choose "unfair." He loves me even though I disappoint us both and He loves me when I question Him and think He's got it all wrong and I've got it all right. My prayer today is that the Lord would help me to embrace the unfairness of the cross and apply it to the injustices in my own life. I pray that He would teach me through the unfairness of life to be more like Him. That I would love Him, as He loved me. I'm thankful that through the unfairness and injustice of the cross, I don't have to pay the price of my sin. So, maybe it's ok that life isn't fair. I couldn't have eternal life if it was.
Day 241 - July 30th at 8:06am
I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw was a picture that is sitting on my dresser. A friend sent it to me in the mail when I was early into my grief journey and on the picture is the quote, "Just enough grace for today." When I look through my home, I see various treasures that friends, preschool families and pastor's wives have blessed me with over the last (almost) 8 months and they make me smile! ❤️ Every time I look at the love my friends have shown me, it makes me feel loved all over again!
Day 247 - Aug 5th at 7:22am
This was my Grief Share Devotional for today. It ministered to me so I wanted to share it with you.... Growing Through Loneliness Day 94 Loneliness is never comfortable, but if you ask Him, the Lord can bring something good out of it. “The Lords sees to it that you find yourself in a lonely position sometimes,” says Elisabeth Elliot, “not necessarily geographically. You can be in a crowded room and still be lonely. "You need to recognize God’s discipline of loneliness when it is assigned to you and receive it with both hands saying, ‘Lord, I would not have chosen this, but I will receive it. Now teach me what I can only learn in loneliness.’” It is not God’s plan to give you everything you want for your life or to ensure that you are always comfortable and problem-free. God has made life so that it is filled with times of receiving and times of letting go. And He wants you to learn to be content where you are now, because He is with you. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). Lord God, teach me what I can learn in loneliness. Amen.
Day 255 - Aug 13th at 11:23pm
As you can tell, my grief posts have slowed down a lot since the move into our new house. I find that it's easier to distance myself from the pain and grief associated with Mike's death now that we are in a new home. It doesn't mean that I don't cry anymore. It doesn't mean that I don't think about him and remember... but it does allow us the freedom to remember what we want to, when we want to, within our new environment. Tonight I began pulling off the photos and videos from Mikes phone so we could save them forever. It was so painful to see unread messages where people texted Mikes phone on the night of the accident asking, "Hey, are you ok?" And to see the pictures he took in the hour before his death of Eli's game schedule for the season.... and the videos of Eli playing basketball that night, so he could send them to me since I was at school. It feels so weird to be able to look at those things and think, "If only we had known he was about to die....." Last night I got to see some of my grandma's sisters and being around them made me feel like I was seeing my grandma again, even though she's been gone almost 9 years. It made me feel happy on the inside to be with them. I wonder how long it will take until I feel that way about seeing videos of Mike, or pictures? I still cannot bear to see them.... especially videos. To hear his voice just stirs up a pain that I just don't want to feel. The last time we were with Mike's parents, the kids said "Pawpy reminds us of Daddy so much! Even just the way he acts." I said "How does that make you feel?" And they all responded, "Good!" Sometimes I wonder if it's painful for other people to see our family.... painful in the sense of us being a reminder of tragedy and how quickly life can be taken. Painful as in "I feel so sad for their family and there's nothing I can do." Over the last week, there were a few times when we were around people, in large group settings, that we hadn't seen since the accident and there's almost an "elephant in the room" where people aren't sure how to engage with us. I understand it because I would have been the same way.... before. I find that most people follow my lead. A lot of people will tell me, "You look so good!" That's always a nice compliment, but you know it comes from a place of being surveyed because people are unsure of how we are really doing, so they watch us to interpret. (Note: This isn't a complaint, just an observation. You're always welcome to compliment me and the kids haha) I do find that the intense day to day grief has become much, much better, but if I allow myself to dwell on it, I could very easily go right back to the place I was in months ago. My productivity has grown tremendously since the move. I'm motivated to walk each day, do laundry and cook..... things I struggled with doing in the old house. It makes me feel good to actually accomplish things. School is about to begin and I'm excited about teaching and getting my room ready..... it's great to actually be excited about something! I spoke at a church Friday night and because I hadn't really had to deal with the difficult, intense grief as much in the last few weeks, I kinda dreaded having to bring it back up to talk about it. But the Lord helped me... I lead worship today at church and did the "back to school" devotional tonight so in some ways, the baby steps do help me feel like I'm doing some of the old activities I would have done before. It's actually a blessing to even be able to do them. I wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I don't. Who knows if I ever will. But the days are becoming easier and with the Lord's help, I know brighter days are ahead. Goodnight friends. Thank you for loving us! ❤️
Day 258 - Aug 16th at 2:41pm
I was trucking right along, enjoying my day when I decided I wanted a burger for lunch. I pulled into Carolina Burger and as soon as I walked inside, it hit me that this is where I treated Mike to lunch last September on his birthday. I wanted to take him to a place he had never been before and I had heard they had wonderful burgers, so he came to Lenoir to meet me after work and I brought him here for lunch. I walked inside the door, looked to the left and saw the booth we sat in and remembered what a happy day that was. I think about Mom face timing us to tell Mike, "Happy Birthday." His birthday is coming up soon, on September 7th, and it was even hard for me to write it on the calendar. I can't seem to quit crying now. I hate it when stuff like this happens that you can't prepare for. I went to the preschool today to help the new director for a few hours and the realization of life going on beautifully without me makes me happy and sad at the same time. I want people to succeed and do well.... I really do. But when it happens, you realize how indispensable we all are. It has been hard to think about Mike since we moved.... like I didn't want his memory to impede on the peace I found in our new home. And then today his memory washes over me like a flood and I just want him back. I don't want to be a widow. I don't want to be alone. We should be planning Eli's party for Saturday and I should be selling stuff on One Mans Junk to have the money to buy Mike an awesome present for his 44th birthday. It's just so unfair. This grief thing is no joke. I had to choke back the tears just to order a burger and fries. It's so relentless. I just want my old life back. And it'll never happen. It's hard for me to even imagine that I'll ever feel whole again..... that I could ever genuinely be happy again. I've never had to deal with such intense fear.... fear of making mistakes. Fear of failing. Fear that I genuinely cannot do what it takes to be successful. Fear that in my desire to move past the terrible pain of grief I will move outside of God's perfect will for me and my family. Some days I can get the duct tape out and attach it to the shards of my broken heart and then something happens, a memory bursts forth, and breaks it all over again. It's been 8 1/2 months. The absolute worst 8 1/2 months of my life. I'm so thankful that days like today are fewer and further between, but I look forward to the day when his memory brings me happiness and not pain. But that day is not today.....
Day 261 - Aug 19th at 10:17am
Today is Eli's 12th birthday. It's been a tough, emotional morning already for me. I'm trying to pull it together so I can give him a wonderful day. Here's some insight into what my brain is doing today.... or not doing, I should say. We had dinner with Mike's family last night and about half way through dinner, Abi asks me, "So what kind of cake did you get Eli for his party tomorrow?" 😳 my response was "Uhhhhhh.... I forgot about a cake!" (Mom of the year here.... 🏆) Wish me luck as I frantically search grocery stores today for ready-made cakes. So then after dinner, we go to Walmart. Eli says that he wants me to cook him a birthday breakfast. We get home around 10pm, only to realize that we never bought the breakfast stuff. No worries --- I'll just get up early this morning and run to Bi-lo. I'm sitting in the parking lot crying at 7:30am and suddenly I remember a time 9 years ago when I went to this same Bi-lo to buy a pregnancy test. I felt like I might be pregnant and I was so eager to see if I was, so I went into the bathroom at Bi-lo to pee on the pregnancy stick. Sure enough, it was positive and I was so happy. I couldn't wait to tell Mike. It's a shame that I was pregnant 5 different times during our married life but I never told him in a fun, surprising way. I've never been good at keeping secrets when I am excited to share them. I then put the memories back in the vault and I pull it together and go inside. I buy the needed breakfast items. I get home and burn the bacon to a crisp. (Abi was happy - she loves burned bacon). The country ham was nasty because I somehow scorched it too. My mind is flooded with disappointments and things that shouldn't even be happening right now. I question how in the world am I going to be able to go back to work next week and be successful when it was all I could do to manage 3 half days a week at the preschool? I haven't worked full time since I was pregnant with Abi. I've always felt l could do anything I put my mind to because pretty much, I always could. But my mind deceives me these days.... much like my stomach. I can't control either one of them. But today, I will put my big girl pants on and I will pretend like my heart isn't broken. I will laugh and smile and I will be thankful for a son who looks just like his daddy. I will be grateful for the blessing that he is to me. I will go upstairs and play his new game with him just because he wants me to. I will search for (and find) the perfect cake and I will act like everything is fine, even though it's really not. On these days I have to look a little harder to find the goodness of God..... I know He's still good and I know He's still God, but it's easier to find on some days than others. 💔
Day 264 - Aug 22nd at 12:30am
Every year, Mike and I always went to the Christmas show together.... just the 2 of us. He would let me look at everything I wanted to without a moment's complaint. We held hands... wore our Christmas shirts. We always left the kids at home or school, pending on when we went, and enjoyed our day together which usually began with blueberry pancakes from Cracker Barrel. He would carry all of my purchases and often had some cash squirreled away ready to hand over when I ran out of my budgeted allowance. If something cost more than I was willing to pay, he would say, "Oh honey! You can make that!" And then I would go home and make something just like the thing I wanted so badly from the show. We had our favorite foods that we ate.... cherry streusel and those meat/cheese bags, where I always ate the summer sausage and Mike always ate the cheese. One year, he got a belt that had scripture embossed on it and he called it his "Bible belt" and he wore it daily until it finally broke. Every year, he would say, "I wish those people with those belts would be back again." He also loved his "Big Skinny" wallet, that was in his pocket on Dec 6th. Some days it still doesn't feel real.... that he's gone until the Lord returns or I die. I wonder what I will do this year? Maybe I'll take Abi. She has always begged to go so maybe her going will be enough of a new tradition that I can still enjoy the old tradition. It's tricky... but it almost feels sacred and going with someone who doesn't feel the sanctity of such an important tradition we both loved so much wouldn't be right. It's funny isn't it? The things that we remember when memories are all we have left? The smells? The feelings? I'm glad I didn't know that I would have to get a new partner for this year when we went last year. I'm glad it was a normal day. I'm glad we spent it together. I bought a shirt at the show last year that I was wearing on the night of the accident. I gave it to my sister to give away to someone who I would never see again because I hated it after that night. This past week has been very challenging for me. Sometimes I have felt like I didn't even know which end is up. I find the grief current has changed its waves on me.... just when I was getting the hang of surfing. I was crazy to think I was making headway. It's like a cruel joke where grief jumps out and yells, "Just kidding!!!!! Remember me?!?!?" So I work through the next wave... and the next one... and the next one - hoping I can tread water for a few minutes and catch my breath. ❤️
Day 271 - Aug 29th at 6:41am
Today is my first day with students.... I think back to when I was a little girl and all I wanted to be was a teacher. When my sister and I would play in the back room of my Mawmaw's house, I was always the teacher and she was always my student. I would make up work for her to do, I would correct her when she was in "trouble" and as of today, I have 16 students in whom I will teach. Change has not been my friend here lately.... I sat in the tub yesterday and cried as my preschool teachers texted me and wished me a great school year. I cried when the lady at the bank asked me if my "husband was a pastor" and was so sorry for my loss. I cried again at school orientation when I realized no parent would be going to my 2 big kids' classes, as I was tied up meeting my new students/parents. And again when we joined hands and prayed for our new school year as memories flooded of Mike praying over our children in years past during this same exercise. Change is inevitable. It's the only constant, so I guess I had better begin to like her.... or at least tolerate her. I know this move is the right one..... the Lord has given me a gift to teach. I am excited to walk in a new gift and to make a difference to these new families/students. Preparing for my new class has been a piece of cake compared to the stuff I've been doing to get ready over the last 7 years so I could greatly appreciate the work that goes into orientation from an administrative point of view. So say an extra prayer for me today. Here goes nothing.... ❤️
August 29th - 13 years ago on this day was our first Sunday as senior pastor/wife at the Granite Falls Church of God. I didn't realize it would be the toughest job I would ever love... Although I miss the relationships formed and the many successes within our church and ministry, there are some things about pastoring that I don't miss that much. Being in ministry is hard. Really hard. If I were completely honest, I'll admit that sometimes I got a little jealous..... jealous of times that Mike got all of the credit for work I did. (It sounds terrible when I think about it, but it's true.... I always felt guilty for feeling jealous, but now everyone in Facebook land knows I like to get credit for my work haha). I also got jealous when I felt like he spent more time with church people than me and the kids. If we were somewhere together, his phone would ring and he would always take the call, because that's just who he was. It's what made him a good pastor. Sometimes I would say, "Don't answer that!" Haha. His one true calling in life was to be a pastor. That's not to say he wasn't an amazing father and husband, because he was, but there were days that I wished he would have just taken a regular job so we could lead a regular life, but he couldn't do that.... even if he wanted to. When I think back, remembering our pastoral life feels like reading a book..... it's like it was from a different life, as if I read it in a book. I never even knew it was possible to live two different lives within the same lifetime. I miss my old life... but I'm trying to embrace the new one. In many ways its easier now... and in so many ways it's harder. I guess it just depends on which ones I focus on. I stayed up late getting ready for my first day of class today and I crawled up in the bed, wondering what it would be like to have a husband there to share all of my fears and excitement with. I thought about how the duties of household management would be shared, but also how hard it will be to adjust to that again, if the Lord blesses me with a husband. I looked around the classroom today knowing that God has given me a new mission..... or a new mission field I should say. There are 16 beautiful children whom I can impact daily. I remember all of my teachers from my elementary years and I even remember some of the moral lessons they taught me. Teachers are important. I honestly feel like Christian education formed and fashioned me into who I became as an adult. Our principal has encouraged us this year to look beyond what we see in front of us, to the potential that each student possesses.... and I plan to do just that. I'm thankful for my teachers who did the same. ❤️