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It’s Thanksgiving... my first one without Mike. I’m wrapping up all the “firsts” within the next few days, but I woke up this morning feeling thankful.

Day 335 - Nov 2nd at 8:21am

"...and yet, after all that life brings me, I know of only one thing that is for certain and it is that God is still faithful."

Yes He is! ❤️

Day 339 - Nov 6th at 8:57am

The injustice hit me yesterday that I haven’t felt for my wedding band in weeks. I had this habit of rubbing my wedding band with my thumb, but the habit is almost gone. The finger indention made from 15 years of wear is almost gone too. Today marks 11 months. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Mike and wish that things were different. I guess it’ll always be that way. Anna gets her cast off and pin out today. I hate having to do it without his calm reassurance that it would all be ok. He was always the more tender hearted one but it’s like he passed it on to me when he died. I see the world so differently now. I cry at the oddest things.... like seeing a picture of the backside of Mike with his hands raised, or watching Eli mix his food up just like his daddy did. Sure, there are things that he did that drove me insane, but the good far outweighed the bad. Only a month to go and the firsts will be done.... then what? I’m honestly not sure. There seems to be this customary waiting period of a year before you see what’s next. I’m so thankful the Lord hasn’t given up on me. There are days that I question and ask for answers that I honestly have no right to ask but I am thankful that He loves me in spite of myself. I am thankful that I have my kids and my home and my family. I’m thankful for the people who are in my life now that weren’t before Mike died. I’m thankful for my church and the spark of joy that I feel in getting to worship with my family. Being thankful in the midst of grief is necessary for our healing.... so today I choose to be thankful, grateful and blessed. ❤️

Day 343 - Nov 10th at 11:35pm

I had one of THE absolute most wonderful days today..... I am thankful for old traditions that can become new, Godly friends who are along for the journey and most of all I am thankful for the joy of listening to Christmas music. I have been so afraid that the Christmas season would return the terrible grief I experienced last Christmas. I would feel a tinge of excitement when I saw Christmas things in the store, but then I would be afraid to be excited because I know in 3 1/2 weeks I will be at the one year mark and I find myself being afraid that the pain will return.... and it may. But for today, I wore my Christmas shirt, I listened to Christmas music and I experienced the joy of true friends. And for that I am thankful. ❤️

Day 345 - Nov 12th at 5:28pm

I spoke at a church this morning on the subject, "Beauty in Brokenness." Brokenness is something that we all have to deal with at various points in our lives, but the one line that ministered to me most was that our scars were never intended to be invisible. I wish my scars were invisible. I wish nobody knew that I struggle with grief and unfairness and the insecurities that came from Mike's death, but the truth is that those scars are proof of God's healing and how far He has brought me over the last year. I’ve been far from perfect on this journey but I have learned so much.... about myself. About God. There has been an intimacy with God that I’ve never experienced before. Each step of the way He has guided, comforted, provided and protected me and my children. There have been days that I’ve had to swim in grace, but other days there has been a closeness where I could literally feel the breath of God on my face. It was at my lowest points that I realized He was there too. I really didn’t even know God until I was at my most desperate place in life. He has not forgotten me. He has not forgotten you. There is beauty in our brokenness. ❤️

Day 347 - Nov 14th at 7:18am

My girls weren’t feeling well yesterday so I took the day off to get them to the doctor. When we got home, the mood hit me to put up my Christmas decor. I would typically do it next week and the finishing touch would be chopping down our tree next Friday, but I know the next few weeks will be challenging for us as a family and I wondered if it was the Lord nudging me to get it finished while I was actually excited about doing it. I felt mainly excited about seeing how things were coming together, but there were a few moments of tears. Each year, we have a series of family pictures made: one with Santa at the Christmas village in Pigeon Forge, one when we chop down our tree, and another during our annual Gatlinburg Christmas trip. Each year, I pick out a new frame (or my sister in law buys me one) and I choose one of the Christmas photos to set out each Christmas, along with all the others from years passed. As I opened the tote of frames, I found the picture Mike and I had made on our very first trip to Gatlinburg, sitting in a sleigh in the Village off Main Street. I found the picture from Abi's second Christmas where we went and cut down our own tree. I found the picture from Anna's and Eli's first Christmas with the Santa at the Christmas village in Pigeon Forge. I also found the sled that Mike refurbished for me, all because I wanted one. And I remembered each piece from Christmas shows passed where I would always pick one new Christmas piece out to use in decorating the house. A few nights ago, we were bathing the dog, so I was bent over the tub and Eli walked in behind me and I immediately thought it was Mike. It’s been almost a year so I’m not sure what made me think that... but I did. Memories can be the greatest blessing or the greatest curse. I’m ready to be at the place where they are all sweet again, but unfortunately I’m not. I know the day will come, but they haven’t just yet. I have a big, canvas 11 x 14 print of a family Christmas photo from about 4 years ago and I pulled it out and asked Abi if she thought displaying it out would make us happy or sad. She felt like it would make us sad. Times like that, it just makes me mad that my 14 year old has to help her mom figure out if it’s ok to display a picture or not. Each day there are 100 things to wade through. 100 memories to process. 100 opportunities to be sad. 100 opportunities to be thankful. It’s honestly an emotional roller coaster, that thankfully has leveled out some, but the ride continues. As I went through Lowe’s the other day, I saw the Christmas decorations on display and I got a little excited but then I think, “Will I ever really enjoy Christmas again?” And “Am I even allowed to enjoy Christmas?” Or “If I get excited about Christmas will people think I don’t miss Mike or that I don’t still suffer the pain his absence brings?” It’s quite frustrating how the mind works. We have 3 weeks until we hit the one year mark. This has been the most difficult year of my life by a landslide. It’s hard to fathom that God could possibly take the broken pieces of our lives and make something even better. If I were honest, I would say that it seems a little impossible, even for Him. So I choose to repeat Isaiah 61:3, where the Bible says he will give me a “crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Christmas here I come. 🎄

Day 348 - Nov 15th at 9:28am

Of all the things that make me feel the most stressed these days, it isn’t necessarily the loneliness that gets me, or the changes we’ve experienced (new house, new car, new church, new life etc) but it’s more of the frustration of adjusting to life as the only adult in our household, who is also attempting to work full time. For the last 7 years I only worked part time and Mike could be available if one of the kids were sick, if they had a dental appointment, or if we needed a repair at the house. Now all of those things fall on me. For example, my gas logs won’t light. When I moved in, they worked great! All I had to do was flip the switch. Somehow the pilot light went out and now we can’t get them to light. I’ve had my dad and my uncle both look at it. I’ve also did much google research and watched YouTube videos, but the issue requires a service technician. I place the call and the guy says “I can come around noon on Wednesday.” Well I can’t be there then! I’m working! So I have to call my brother to say, “Can you meet this guy at the house?” The girls were sick on Monday and last night Anna was complaining of an ear ache. After missing a day of work already this week, I knew that if Anna needed a dr appt today I was going to need to line someone else up to care for her and that’s not what I want! I want to take care of her. She’s MY child. Simple fixes, like changing light bulbs in my 8 foot ceilings mean lugging the ladder up the stairs or waiting until you have tall friends over who don’t mind helping. It’s so frustrating. My van is 1000 miles over on its oil and this flashing light reminds me every time I crank it up, but how does one fit that into the schedule when there are groceries to buy, dinner to fix, homework to do, laundry to fold, showers to take and prayers to say? Throw in a broken pinky, a surgery, orthopedic visits and a mom who has been having some trouble sleeping and you’ve got a disaster in the making. Eli can’t find this book he is reading at school and when his teacher asked him if he had mentioned it to his mom, he said he didn’t want to add any stress to me. It breaks my heart. Don’t get me wrong... I know I have a small army ready to jump whenever I say the word, but most of these things only I can do. I think of it like this —- imagine what it would be like for you if your work load was doubled on your job and you had to complete it in half the time. It would feel frustrating and overwhelming. That’s where I am this morning. I can’t get it together. And I can’t seem to quit crying. Haven’t had a morning like this in a long time. Please pray for me. ❤️

Day 351 - Nov 18th at 12:08pm

I remember being 8 years old and pretend playing the piano to songs on the radio while riding in the backseat of a minivan before they thought to add the second sliding door. Lol. I remember hoping that one day I could play like the pianist at church. When I turned 8, Mom and Dad let me begin taking lessons and here I am 30 years later, playing for the Thanksgiving outreach at my home church this morning. My parents have always joked about how much money, time and long-suffering they endured over the years and then they didn’t even get to reap the benefits because I have been in ministry elsewhere for the last 15 years or so. But to be here today, in my home church, playing and ministering in song, has brought back such memories of my childhood. There is something so sweet about being with family.... being in the only church I ever knew until I married Mike. It’s so twisted, wrong and yet somehow precious that I’m sitting on this bench today with my fingers on these white keys. It’s hard to take it for granted when it’s such an honor. 💕

Day 352 - Nov 19th at 10:19am

We were eating out at a restaurant a few weeks ago and a little girl ran up to me and gave me a hug. It took me a minute to recognize who she was when there was no doubt that she knew me. And then it registered who she was and I realized that her mom died suddenly about 2 years ago when she was around 7 years old. My heart broke for her and I had this overwhelming sadness for the life she doesn’t even realize she will miss. Then I wondered, “Is that how people feel about my kids?” When people see us out and about do they feel that same sense of heartbreak that I felt for this beautiful little girl? My whole life is still divided into two parts.... before Mike died and after. We ate at Carabbas last night and I thought, “Hmmm. I haven’t eaten here since Mike died.” I never realized how bad it would hurt when Eli says, “One thing I miss about dad is how he would bounce us on his legs from side to side. I did it to Pressley and she liked it too.” Or when I saw the excitement on Anna's face because she noticed a new ornament that someone made us that has a picture of Mike from the little bulletin of his funeral encased inside it. And as I placed the ornaments on the memory tree, I couldn’t help but think about our place in life when we got that particular ornament. Life is truly just a vapor. Here one minute and gone the next. Make your minutes count. Be ready to meet the Lord because we don’t know when our time will expire. ⏳

Day 356 - Nov 23rd at 8:43am

It’s Thanksgiving... my first one without Mike. I’m wrapping up all the “firsts” within the next few days, but I woke up this morning feeling thankful. I read recently that thankfulness opens the door to faith and I have to agree with that statement. At a time when it would be easy to be bitter and sad, I find myself being thankful... and for things that I wouldn’t have known to be thankful for a year ago. 1) I’m thankful for the ability to love. Yes, love doesn’t always end up the way we want it, but I agree that it is better to love and lose than to never love at all. 2) I’m thankful for Divine provision. The Lord has granted me provision in more ways than I can even recall. I’ve not missed paying a single bill. He has counted me higher than the sparrow and met every need. 3) I am thankful for grace. In my whole life I’ve never been so low that I just had to trust that God loved me even in spite of myself. He gives me just enough grace for each day and every morning I wake up realizing how thankful I am for it. 4) I am thankful for hope. I have a hope this morning.... hope for brighter days ahead. Hope for a future that’s full of God’s best. Hope for accomplishment and achievements for me and my children. I have a hope of His soon return. And 5) I’m thankful for the many relationships I’ve built over this last year. Not just acquaintances, but “love you to the end of time” relationships.... throw in 3 awesome kids, an amazing family, a beautiful home, a rewarding job and how can I not be thankful? So I pray that this Thanksgiving you will find something new to be thankful for. Soak up the time you have with your family and breathe in the specialness of today. Happy Thanksgiving!

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thes 5:18 🦃


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