Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Christmas Eve morning 1978 found Mac and I sitting in a little church listening to a message about Christmas from the book of Romans. For over 6 months I had been discouraged and unhappy and was searching for the answer to one question: How to fix my relationship with God. This was our third visit to this church, and I was afraid I’d never find the answer I so wanted.

Then the preacher read Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”, and I knew he was speaking about me. Then he shared Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Suddenly I realized that I had found my answer and I wanted that gift more than anything.

The preacher went on to share that, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Christ died for ME! I was stunned at the notion that God loved me that much. Suddenly the preacher asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. He quoted Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” He told us that was all it took: confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. Silently I cried out to God, “I believe!” As soon as the service closed, I grabbed Mac’s hand and told him I’d accepted Christ as my Savior; and with tears rolling down his face he told me he’d been praying for me. My husband had been praying for me! From that moment on, we began anew. Our marriage was richer, our love for each other was deeper, our lives were set on a fresh path.

We traveled that path together for almost 36 years. Then God in His great wisdom took Mac home to heaven, and so I now travel this path alone. Yet, I’m never alone. God is always with me, and He has promised to always be there: “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Today I celebrate my 37th birthday—my “born again” birthday. It’s the best day of my life. The one that assures me that I’ll see Mac again someday; and best of all—I’ll see my Savior. Because of this day, I have peace to face each day, and find strength and comfort as I travel this new path as a widow. I rest in the promise found in Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”



Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Empty and cold


Recently I noticed that my heart was very empty and cold. I realized that I didn’t care one fig about anything. Not Christmas, not cleaning house, not sorting through things, not changing the sheets on the bed, nor even whether I had clean clothes to wear or not. I noticed that days would go by and I wouldn’t even think of Mac, and when I did I’d shrug and my thoughts would go elsewhere. I haven’t “talked” to him for a couple of weeks now. I also was becoming whiny—something I truly dislike in myself. I was afraid I was heading for another meltdown, and so I reached out to my pastor for help. He came over and we talked. Mostly he just let me talk, and then he’d share his thoughts and as he did he guided me so that I came to realize this emptiness is totally normal, and it’s okay not to clean, or decorate, or sort through things. He had lots more to say, and I listened (!) and for several days I have mulled all this over, and I have prayed. God answered and something happened: I changed.

Last night I realized my heart was easier and lighter, and I also discovered that for the first time in over a year I was happy. I mean genuinely happy. Happy like I used to be when I was part of “US”. It was a strange discovery, and happened in a funny way (pun totally intended).

I decided I was ready for a Christmas movie, and I selected HOME ALONE. Suddenly I laughed. I mean I *really* laughed. Not a chuckle, or a “yeah that was funny when I saw it with Mac so I should laugh at it now” type laugh—I mean I actually found the humor FUNNY and I laughed out loud in total enjoyment! About the 3rd time it happened, I stopped the dvd and sat there talking to myself, “Kimberly, you’re … laughing. You’re actually finding this funny. This is a big step, woman.” Then I realized that talking to myself might not be such a good step, and I laughed out loud at myself. ;)  I went to sleep last night with a truly peaceful heart. No teeth grinding. No weird dreams. No waking up in a fright. Just eight hours of blissful sleep.

Today I was ready—totally ready—to dig in the tub of decorations and I took out all the things you see in the picture in this post, and I set them in a totally new place. The mug was a gift from Mac for our first Christmas together, the big snowman was his as a kid, and the others are gifts that folks gave me over the years. I’ve also put out my new little ceramic tree and my creche. There was no heaviness in my heart, in fact, I found joy in digging through things. Oh, there are items in that tub that may never see the light of day again as they carry a great deal of emotional attachments, but that’s okay. Just as it’s okay for me to make new traditions, it’s also okay for me to not do things. 

I’m amazed at this transformation. I really am. I never expected that God would so totally heal my heart so quickly. I’m sure I’ll have times when I miss Mac horribly. I’m sure I’ll have times when I’m discouraged and lonely. I may even have times when I once again don’t really care about anything; but I know that these things are normal, and that God will hear me as I cry out to Him. 


“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your [MY] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (KJV)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

In every thing give thanks

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
concerning you.”—1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

When I awoke this morning, I looked around my home and was really struck by how much I have to be thankful for in my life.

  • The crocheted afghan that Mac’s Aunt Bessie made when she was in her 90’s. It keeps me warm at night.
  • The picture that my dad colored when he was 9 years old: crayons on fabric, then ironed. His mom had it hanging in her home, and then dad had it hanging in his office, and Mac and I brought it home after my parents were both gone. We replaced the aging frame and now it hangs in my entryway over the dry sink that belonged to my mom’s mother. 
  • The “Balloon Seller” figurine that my mom so loved.
  • A punch bowl set for dolls that Mac’s mom cherished.
  • The photo of the pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay that we took on our honeymoon.
  • The watercolor of a ship done by a dear friend.
  • The cross-stitch sampler that I did many years ago, with John 14:2-3 as it’s centerpiece. Mac had it framed and it has always had a prominent place in our home. 
  • Next to the sampler is a cross. This hung in my parents home, and we brought it home and placed it in our home. At the time we put it up, we prayed as a couple and gave our home to the Lord. We did the same when we moved here.
  • Hanging next to to the cross is our wedding invitation that a dear aunt had painted and framed. 
  • There is the painting that I purchased as a 21 year old. My friend, who was an artist, took me to a gallery and began teaching me about art for my home and I came home with this small painting. In another room I have a watercolor that my friend did for me.
  • The garden stone from my oldest son and his wife that reminds me daily to find strength and courage in the Lord (Psalm 31:24).
  • I’m drinking from a mug that was a present from my youngest son and his wife, that encourages me to rejoice and be glad in the Lord (Psalms 118:23-25).
  • The wood carvings that Mac did: the bearded man and the mushrooms. I marvel at how he could see art in hunks of branches on the ground.

All of this reminded me that while I may be “alone”, I am never alone. There are my loving parents who guided me, and put up with me, all those years; grandparents that were all a major part of my life and provided a safe haven for me; friends that have filled my life with joy and laughter; in-laws that raised a little boy to become a wonderful man and loving husband; “kids” who have brought laughter, love and joy into my life for many years; a husband who loved me unconditionally for 40 years and filled my life with so very much; and a Savior who loved me before I was created, and loves me still, and always will—even when I fail Him and pull away. 

Truly my life is rich. It’s been filled with love and joy, and I have hope for my eternal future. I am content and so very thankful.

Monday, November 16, 2015

“Precious in the sight of the Lord...”



“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
—Psalm 116:15 (KJV)

One year ago today, at 8:30am, my beloved husband passed away. He had reminded me many times, and especially during his final days, that he would be “absent from the body, and ... present with the Lord”. He was at peace with God’s plan for him. At the moment of Mac’s home going, I was reading the following verse in my Bible:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
—Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

Truly God has been a very real presence in my life this past year. He has comforted me, encouraged me, scolded me, uplifted me, taught me, and He has been with me through everything. Today I have a choice: I can spend the day in deep sadness arguing with God that He didn’t do as I wanted; or I can be thankful that God actually did answer Mac’s and my prayers—for our prayer was always for God’s perfect will in our lives. Today Mac is no longer in pain and he no longer suffers, instead he is enjoying eternity with his (and my) Savior—and I know that I will see him again some day; and so, today I am truly thankful.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Crash and Burn

After being able to surrender so much to the Lord for the past 11 months, I recently took it all back and totally crashed and burned. It began when, based on the well meaning advice of some who have traveled this road, I began looking back at this time last year.

I had made notes last year during those final dark days last year, and so I opened up those notes and read and re-read them, and began writing. As I did, I began picking scabs off of almost healed wounds, and I found myself plunging—not sliding—plunging into the deep, dark depths of despair and sorrow; deeper and darker than right after Mac’s death. I wound up having horrible nightmares where I chased Mac but never caught up with him, I fought battles in those nightmares where I became wounded, and I woke up with my heart pounding, and my jaw sore from grinding my teeth. Worse, my spirit was raw and aching and I was lost in a sea of misery. By Saturday night I was filled with such anxiety and fear that I was unable to sleep at all. 

I’m aware that grief is different for everyone, and how you approach your grief is different. I’ve had well meaning people tell me that they wonder if I really loved Mac, and they wonder if I really miss him—simply because I’ve been able to turn all of this over to the Lord and rely on Him for my strength, comfort and joy. Yes, joy. I’m not joyous that Mac is no longer here, after all, he was a huge part of my life and I miss him terribly; but I can rejoice that Mac is healed, happy and in heaven. I can rejoice that I belong to a Savior who loves me so much He died for me (and Mac – and YOU!) so that I might have forgiveness of my sins and spend eternity in glory. 

Yet with all that God has done for me, I took my eyes from Him, failed to really pray about this step of examining the past, and failed to counsel with my pastor and tell him how desperately I was struggling with this anniversary. I know that my pastor is a godly man who would have guided me, but I told myself that he had enough burdens without my adding to his schedule. When he finds this out, he is likely going to be upset with me for thinking this way; and he would be right in being upset. After all, God placed me in this particular church, under Pastor Mike’s leadership and guidance for a reason, and I failed to follow God’s leading in this whole situation. I’ll share something else: if Mac were able to, he would tell me my actions were wrong. For several years Mac told me FBC was a good church, with good people, a godly pastor and we should go: but I refused. So all those years, Mac knew and I rejected; and now, once again, I have rejected the strength and help that God has provided for me.

Sunday I was totally exhausted physically and spiritually, but the Holy Spirit nudged me and I knew it would be good for me to go to church and sit under the preaching of God’s Word. So off I went. As I pulled into the parking lot the Holy Spirit once again nudged me and some great verses in Philippians came to mind, and I realized what I needed to do: stop looking back, and once again look forward. 

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 3:13,14 (KJV)

So I paused in the parking lot, asked God to help me look ahead, and stepped out of the car. Oh, I wasn’t instantly “okay”; but I could see a better day ahead. The music spoke to my heart, and the message was just what I needed to hear, although I’m sure as pastor studied, he didn’t know how it would apply to me. In fact, I challenge you to read Romans 9:10-13 and see if you find an application there for a grieving widow. ;)  Trust me, God’s Word never returns void, and the help I needed was there.

I spent Sunday and Monday catching up on my lost sleep. I also spent a great deal of time reading my Bible and praying. I have also learned that my struggle was shared with my church family and they were all praying for me. What a blessing!

Today I am better emotionally, and much better spiritually. I am once again sleeping well, resting on the promise of God:

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.”—Psalm 4:8 (NASB)

There may be difficult days ahead, but I am determined to look forward not backwards, to hold tighter to God, to seek godly counsel when needed, and to rejoice in whatever God has in store me. I covet your prayers for me as I go through this time.

Friday, November 6, 2015

My first Thanksgiving

I don’t remember when the invitation was extended, I only remember thinking, “Oh good, I won’t be alone”; and so I agreed to spend Thanksgiving the same way Mac and I had always spent Thanksgiving: at a certain friends house with the same gathering of friends. I even found the strength to fix a dish and take it along. That could only have come from the Lord, as I had no strength of my own. 

I can’t tell you that I had peace about my decision, and I can’t tell you that I didn’t either. I was numb. Totally numb. After all, Thanksgiving was 11 days after M’s death and life was a daily struggle at this point. Still, being alone on a holiday can be difficult and I wasn’t ready to stay home and mourn, but I wasn’t ready to be happy and celebrate either. Actually, I didn’t know what I wanted or how I *should* react. I was facing each day only through God’s strength and guidance.

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.
He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
—Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB)

Thanksgiving came, my friends picked me up and off we went. Every step up to the door was heart pounding emotional pain, but I asked God to give me grace and strength and with each step He comforted me.

Everyone was gracious and welcoming, although there was something difficult in every greeting. I realize now that they were also mourning and hurting, and so seeing me was both comforting, as well as a painful reminder of the friend they had lost. Conversation was our normal conversation, and I found comfort in that, although I really didn’t care about the subject. I had no interest in anything other than getting through another day. Then came mealtime, and suddenly the conversation turned to the loss of M.

They shared their heartbreak, they shared their anger, some of them even said things that were horribly painful to my heart. I wanted to scream at them to STOP!—but I didn’t. I really didn’t have the emotional strength to speak up and tell them to stop saying these things. I reminded myself that none of them knew the Lord and so they had no comfort of any kind. In the back of my mind I knew that they weren’t aware of how painful their comments were to me. So I listened and quietly prayed—and all the while my broken heart was breaking into more pieces.

I was so glad when it was time to head for home. I needed to be alone with the Lord so that I could cry, mourn, pray, tell God how angry I was, and let Him wrap me in His arms and hold me and keep me through the rest of the night. 

Last year I had no idea “how” to be a widow; I hadn't yet learned that there is no right way to be a widow. I had no clue how to face the holidays. I’d never read an article on surviving the holidays. In some ways I wish I had stumbled across “Survival Tips for Handling the Holidays” as it might have spared me a great deal of emotional pain. Yet by God’s grace I managed my first Thanksgiving as a widow. What will this year bring? I have no idea what plans the Lord has for me, but I know that He will open just the right doors, He will keep me, and He will comfort me. And for that, I am eternally thankful.

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Failure?

In today’s mail was an envelope hand addressed to my late husband. I knew what it was without even opening it: his 2015 dues card for an organization in which he had a life-membership. Mac was active in this organization even before I met him, and it was fairly important to him; but after we moved away he never kept in touch with anyone from this group. I’ll admit to being a bit stunned when I saw the envelope and I wondered why they were sending this to him.

Don’t they know he’s dead?

Then I realized that I never notified them personally, because a friend (who also belonged to this organization and had—strangely enough—also moved here) had promised to take care of that for me. Obviously he didn’t follow through on his promise. So now it falls to me.

I sat down to write them a letter and began:
Dear Robert,
It is with the deepest sorrow that I must inform you that Mac passed away on 11/16/14. I apologize for taking so long to contact you, but I  …
WAIT! Why am I apologizing for taking my time notifying a club? Mac never felt the need to keep in touch, and obviously none of them ever emailed him or wrote or called … so why am I feeling so apologetic for my failure? No wait! I didn’t fail. I just relied on someone else to keep their promise and never gave this another thought. I sat at the table stunned at the thoughts running through my head. Why did this friend not follow through with his promise? Didn’t he care? Didn’t he realize this would eventually become my problem? Didn’t he realize how painful it would be for me to deal with this after all this time? I remember him saying that I would have enough to deal with, and he'd like to take this burden from my, so why didn't he? Then I realized that the last time I spoke to he and his wife, her farewell was, “Well, maybe we’ll see you sometime in the future.” Click. 

Perhaps I should have figured out that without Mac, I’m not important to this couple. I’m aware that many people have a hard time dealing with a widow (or widower), as we represent a visual reminder of their own mortality and it’s not always easy to face that part of your future. I’m also aware that some couples are uncomfortable around me simply because I’m not a couple. I see this with friends who get divorced as well.

Still I’m frustrated at this mans casual way of not following through with a promise, and now I’m left trying to figure out how to explain that my husband has been dead for almost a year and I’m just getting around to telling this group about his death.

I want to find a way to be gentle with my news, but also be a witness. I want this group of people to know that Mac is in heaven, and that they can see him again some day if they know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Would the secretary read that kind of a letter at a club meeting? Maybe not, but still the news needs to be told. Mac would want it, and God requires it of me.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”—Mark 16:15 (NASB)

So now I’m praying and asking God to guide me as I write, and that the hearts of those who read and hear the news will be open to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 26, 2015

For my good

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.“—Romans 8:28
As pastor read the scripture to open his sermon, I furiously wrote on the side of my handout:

Q: How was it for my good that Mac died?

After all, I prayed, and prayed, and prayed that God would heal Mac. So how was it for my good that Mac died?

I was angry in my heart. Angrier then I have been in many, many months. I didn’t want to sit there and listen to this message. My brain and heart cried out to God … What good did Mac’s death do???!!!??? I could easily have sat there in the pew with my arms folded over my chest, and a scowl on my face. I stopped actively listening to the sermon. I vaguely heard phrases like, “God doesn’t always do what WE want Him to do”, and I thought, “No kidding!” Pastor said that God doesn’t always answer our prayers as we ask either—well, tell me something new. As this battle furiously raged inside of me, pastor continued to preach. I wondered how he could so calmly continue preaching while I was fighting such a battle. Doesn’t anyone else care?!?

“ …and we have His promise that in all things He is actively working for our good.” BAH! 

“God, again I ask you … how was it for my good that Mac died? TELL ME!”

“Whatever situation we are in, and this includes our sufferings, as mentioned in verse 17, and even our groaning (v. 23). Suffering is part of the package.”

I heard pastor say something about a desert, and cactus, and suddenly in my heart I knew the answer. It was as though God spoke to me, and with that understanding a sense of total peace and calm came over me. I wrote on my handout:

A: Because you, Kimberly, used to rely on Mac for everything, and now you rely on ME!

Where did that answer come from? I cried out to God and He answered me. I may not have been conscientiously listening to the sermon, but in the quiet of my heart I was, and the Holy Spirit was able to teach me. I realized that God took me to that desert pastor mentioned. A desert where there wasn’t any water, and there wasn’t any day – only night without stars or the moon, and all I found was stones to stumble on, and cactus burrs that scratched and hurt. There wasn’t anyone to physically lift me up and guide me—but once I put my eyes on God, He brought me through it and now my sovereign assurance is in GOD

I realized that I now rely on God in a way I never would have while Mac was alive. I now turn to God first for help and guidance. For the first time since Mac passed away, I have a joy unspeakable, unmeasurable, and unfailing. A deeper joy then I have known in many months. Recently I had wondered if I’d ever be happy—really happy—again, and yet there I sat: filled with complete and total joy and peace, knowing that in Mac’s death God brought good into my life.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.“—Romans 8:28

Thursday, October 22, 2015

No particular order at 11 months

I’m now at 11 months, 6 days, 10 1/2 hours, plus a few minutes into widowhood—but who’s counting? HA! I’ve noticed several things lately, and here they are in no particular order.

The emotional highs and lows are different: the lows are not as deep and the highs don’t climb as high, so I’m not experiencing the crazy crashes back down to reality.

I’m frowning more, but I don’t know why.

My dreams are not as upsetting (I don’t search for Mac every night), but Mac is no longer so prominent in them.

I’m having trouble hearing Mac's voice in my head these days. I know the words, but I don’t actually hear him speaking. I almost wish I had a recording on the phone to listen to, but maybe it’s better I don’t.

I’m actually ready to not be a grieving widow, and not be “needy”, and not be able to handle things because I fall apart emotionally; but, I’m not ready to NOT be a grieving widow either.

I enjoy the tenderness of friendship more than ever: a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a call or email just to check on me.

My wedding ring hurts. It hurt me emotionally to see it on my left hand, so I moved it to my right hand thinking that might help. The emotional pain isn’t as deep, but it doesn’t fit the ring finger on my right hand and so it’s actually physically painful. Today I removed it and placed it in a memory box. I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do either, as now I can’t quit crying.

I feel incapable of dealing with things that were Mac’s responsibilities. The broken fireplace and the propane tank, the garage door opener and remote, which eye insurance option to choose. Oh wait, time took that decision out of my hands. I dithered over this decision so long, the deadline to change came and went, and for the next year my eye insurance remains as it has always been.

On the other hand, I actually made a decision about replacing the blinds in my great room area. At first, I looked at colors and style and said to myself, “Mac wouldn’t like that”, “Oh, Mac would like this”,  and then I realized how ridiculous it was to worry over what Mac might or might not like. After all, Mac isn’t here and he really doesn’t care what I put on the windows. (Just image the breathtaking views he has in heaven!) I finally found the courage inside of me to chose what pleased me—and that seemed strange.

I’m more comfortable being alone, and I’m thankful I’m no longer having to explain why Mac isn’t with me when I bump into someone.

I feel guilty that I’m not mourning so deeply—and that’s the most ridiculous emotional roller-coaster ride I’ve ever ridden.

The best thing in all of this is that I every morning I wake up knowing:
"The joy of the Lord is your strength."—Nehemiah 8:10
... and for that, I’m extremely thankful and grateful.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Reaching forward

There is something very special about the prayers of God’s people—they work! I had been dreading today, but when I got up this morning I could tell that God’s people were praying for me, because instead of feeling discouraged and empty, I felt happy and content. 

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”Philippians 3:13 (KJV)

During my morning devotions, I told the Lord this day was His, that I would trust Him to order my steps as they should go, and that I would rejoice in all that He had for me—whatever it was. I had some ideas in mind, but God had a different and masterful plan for me. He brought unexpected company to my door, and that gave me an opportunity to be a witness. 

Then I took a drive up the road and did some grocery shopping. While in the grocery store I kept bumping into this one lady, and soon she struck up a conversation. Another chance to be a witness.

Dinner was a bit of a challenge as I didn’t want anything that had been “special to us”, so I ventured to google and found a tuna casserole recipe to try. This is a dish I’d not fixed in all the years my husband was alive because he hated tuna and peas and refused to eat this casserole. It wasn’t the best casserole I’ve ever eaten, but it satisfied my need for nourishment and had no attached memories. Again, I was content.

There were only a couple of times today when I actually thought about how how this day was no longer my anniversary, but simply another day on the calendar. There was a moment when I felt guilty that I wasn’t mourning, and then I realized that it was okay to be content, happy, and living per Philippians 3:13 (slightly paraphrased) “putting away those things that are past, and reaching forth to what’s ahead.” 


After all, Mac isn’t looking back at our life; instead he’s in Glory having a grand time—and he’s healthy, happy and more content than any of us can imagine. I can’t wait to see him again and spend all eternity being happy and content together, while we praise our Savior!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Healing in my grief

Friday I shared how I am grieving for a friend; but within my grief there has been healing for myself. 

My dear friend’s loss happens as I’m quickly reaching my first wedding anniversary without my beloved husband, and a few days after that “non-versary” will be the 11th month mark of his passing. I have been struggling with these approaching dates for a few weeks now. Last Wednesday I finally realized that I was, once again, neglecting a precious gift from God: prayer partners; so I asked my church to pray with me during this time.

I immediately felt stronger emotionally and spiritually. I felt surrounded by God’s love and comfort. Funny how that works? Nah, it’s Biblical:

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”—Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

Then as I read the news about the death of my friend’s husband, I fell apart—again. I found myself sobbing out loud, my body convulsing with the tears that came from my torn heart as I read the words “most difficult message”, for I knew what words were coming next: “He died this afternoon.”

As I shed tears, I cried out to God, “WHY!? OH WHY!?” “Why did you not heal his body!? Why did you do this to my dear friend!? Why must she walk this path!?” I had prayed for several months that God would spare my dear friend this pain. Yet God chose not to heal her husband’s body, and so I was angry with God. It seemed so unfair. All of this sorrow and loss. 

I had eleven months to prepare in a small way for my own husband’s death. After all, we were told to expect maybe six months, and God gave us eleven; but it was still devastating when it all happened. I could only imagine what my dear friend must be dealing with, as it seemed that her husband was healing and going to make a recovery. I cried and prayed, and when I was calm enough I called on my prayer partners at church to pray with me. All Thursday evening I prayed and cried out to God and spent time in His word. Still I went to bed unsettled and had a restless night.

I awoke Friday morning still hurting spiritually and emotionally. Part of my morning devotions include Our Daily Bread, and it seemed that Friday’s was written for me. It ended with these words:

God’s masterpiece of redemption is the symphony we are playing, and ultimately everything will work together for His good purposes. God is the composer of our lives. His song is perfect, and we can trust Him.

I found myself rejoicing in my Savior’s love in new ways. I was reminded anew that God alone would sustain me, that He would comfort me, that He would give me peace, and that He would put joy in my heart. 

As I went about the day on Friday, I found myself praying for my friend as I drove, and the Holy Spirit reminded me:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

Struck anew that God was in control, even as I grieved for my friend and for myself, I was able to smile. I enjoyed the drive. I enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation. I was able to smile at strangers and say “hello”. I stopped for a meal, and even though I was alone, I was content, for I could truly say …

“The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
—Psalm 118:14 (NASB)

I slept in His comfort last night, trusting that He would give to my friend the same comfort and love that He’s shed upon me; and trusting that eventually she would find the joy that only Christ can give. 

I realize the days ahead may be a bit difficult, but I know the Savior who loves me so much that He died on a cross, that I might have forgiveness of my sins. I also can rejoice knowing that one day I will join my dear husband in glory, and we will spend eternity together praising our Savior, for …

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”—Revelation 5:12

Friday, October 9, 2015

Grieving For A Friend

Yesterday I received the heart breaking news that the husband of a very dear friend has passed away. She and I have known each other for 63 years, and I'm totally heartbroken for her. I can't quit crying I hurt so badly for her. 

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”—Psalm 119:28 (NIV)

I want to reach out to my dear friend and hold her in my arms, but an entire country separates us. I want to make it “all right”; but I know deep inside that it will never again be “all right”—not the same way it was. Life will never be the same, BUT I know that life can be filled with joy again. Life can have a new meaning. Life can once again be fulfilling. I want to tell her that time won’t heal this wound, but faith in Jesus is the way to find healing. 

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”—Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)

Right now, all I can do for my dear friend is “PRAY without ceasing”—1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV), for I know that prayer changes things, prayer is where we find comfort, grace and strength to face trials and tribulations.


Please join me in praying for Kathy as she faces this difficult time. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Being a wife and caregiver



On October 1, 2014 I posted this to friends and family:
“… God has blessed me with the bigger challenge of being a caretaker to my beloved.”

Reading this again brought back such a flood of memories. It also had me laughing as I realized I’d turned my late husband into property by saying “caretaker to my beloved”, instead of careGIVER to my beloved. Fortunately for me, my beloved had a wonderful sense of humor and would have laughed over my mistype. In fact, he likely would have made a joke about it and teased me for weeks.

Still, this also had me wondering if maybe I’d been wrong in becoming my husbands caregiver as well as wife, rather than just his wife. Did I short change him emotionally? Did he need better physical care than I was able to give him? I seem to worry over these things lately, and I’m not sure exactly why. I just know I do. To help me work through this, I started retracing what took place.

In the summer of 2013, my late-husband began having some health issues, but we shrugged them off as they seemed minor and didn’t really impact his daily living. There were many days where he simply felt tired and so I did the shopping by myself while Mac waited in the car. Still, he was doing all the driving and enjoying all his normal activities. The holidays of 2013 were odd as Mac just wasn’t himself and didn’t seem to enjoy our normal activities and visits with friends. By the end of 2013, we were “just us” more and more often. I suggested he see our doctor, but he said he felt okay and it was just a bit of getting older. 

Then in January 2014 the unthinkable happened—Mac woke up one day and made an appointment to see our doctor. Never in the 40 years that I had known Mac had he willingly made an appointment with a doctor—not even when he had his hernia and was in horrid pain. So off to the doctor we went. We stopped for lunch on the way home and by the time we walked in the door the phone was ringing with the news: Mac was seriously ill and we needed to get to the big hospital in the valley ASAP. We packed our bags and went—with Mac driving because he insisted he wasn’t that sick.

It was after 8pm before they got Mac checked into his room—in the ICU wing. The news wasn’t good and I wanted to stay, but Mac insisted it was late and I should go have dinner and get checked into my motel room, and then call him so that he would know I was okay. He told me that he would sleep better knowing I was safely tucked in for the night and that he would see me the next day. I left with a heavy heart wondering if my husband would live to see the next day. Well, he did; but that began an adventure the likes of which neither of us ever expected in our lives.

Once home, our health plan sent a home nurse, and she would have come daily, but Mac didn’t want a stranger taking care of him. Out of necessity, I set my own life aside and became the chauffeur, shopper, cook, laundry lady, garbage-taker-outer, fixer of simple things (Mac gave me lessons!), nurse, caregiver, pill dispenser, appointment juggler, encourager, and more, but first and foremost I was always Mac’s WIFE. Always. Being a WIFE isn’t always glamorous, or romantic, or pleasant—sometimes it’s just plain work, hard work. 

It wasn’t easy to help Mac shower, help him handle daily personal hygiene, help him put on his clothes, trim his toe nails, help him stand and sit and walk, help him cut his food and, sometimes even help him get the food to his mouth. It wasn’t easy to watch my beloved slowly slide downhill as he rapidly lost weight, muscle tone, and the desire to live. The whole process of being a caregiver took its toll on me emotionally and physically. So why did I do this? Why didn’t I insist that we get someone in to help?

Our wedding vows on October 12, 1974: “ … to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”

When Mac and I got married, we both repeated those vows and we meant every one of those words, including the “in sickness and in health”. Mac and I were always a team. We supported each other, encouraged each other, defended each other before other people (even when privately we didn’t agree), we loved each other, and took care of each other. It was always a joke between us that Mac would fall to pieces when I was sick. He never made me chicken soup, he made me fried chicken (“You need solid food in your stomach”). He didn’t fix me a cup of tea because he didn’t know how strong to make it and didn’t want to disappoint me, so instead he hid in the other room until I fell asleep. BUT, when I needed medications, ice packs, back rubs, lotion slathered all over to stop the itching, support while walking, rides to the doctor, visits while in the hospital, etc, Mac was there—and I always knew that Mac would be there to take care of me. So how could I do any less? I couldn’t. That’s part of what being a wife is all about: taking care of your beloved husband.

Thus I became my husband’s caregiver as well as his WIFE. Neither diminished me in Mac’s eyes, instead he told me daily how very much he loved me, how much he appreciated all that I was doing for him, how he cherished me as his WIFE, and how thankful he was that I was willing to also be his caregiver.

Through all of this God blessed us. In 1978 Mac and I both came to know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, and from that point on God was always the Leader to our team. Mac always called us the ‘team kiMac’. Together we placed our lives in God’s hands and faced this adventure. I also firmly believe that God allowed all of this so that I would be better prepared to face life as a widow. 

God gave me the strength I needed to keep going, the ability to smile when I was hurting, kept me alert as I drove, and God filled my heart with a peace that can only come from knowing that Mac’s life and mine were in His hands. God blessed Mac with 11 months when the doctor said probably only six months.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”—Genesis 2:18


Is this path for everyone? No. Each team has to search their own hearts. I only know that while ‘team kiMac’ is no more (except in my heart) I’m now at peace knowing that I gave comfort, strength and encouragement to my beloved husband during his last adventure. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Struggles

There are times I really struggle with how to deal with people. For many years I was hesitant to do anything that might make someone dislike me. Then I became a born-again Christian and the Lord began to work on this area of my life. I always thought that this was one of the reasons why God brought Mac and I together—for Mac was always secure in his dealings with other people. He was confident in doing what was right, and he never worried if others approved of him or not. Mac was a tremendous example to me. When he was alive, I could always count on him to give me good advice; but now I feel like I’m floundering when faced with these situations.

After 40 years with Mac, and almost 10 months without Mac, I truly miss his instant help. I miss his hug. I miss his gentle guidance, and his encouragement. Now I wind up twisting in the wind alone. I feel as though I’ve stepped backwards many years to the old Kim. I find myself afraid to step out and say to someone that their words and/or actions are wrong, for fear of destroying a friendship. Friendships seem so fragile to me. Or maybe I’m so fragile. Perhaps both? I sometimes find myself joining in and saying and/or doing things I know are wrong. Joining in makes me part of something; but is it something good? No, it’s not honoring to God in any way, and so I wind up disliking myself as well.

The result is that I feel this desire to withdraw from life, and activities, and people—at least that way I won’t be hurt, and I won’t dishonor God with my words, thoughts and deeds. 

Is this the way God wants me to live? Like a lonely hermit? No, I don’t believe it is. Yet, He left me alone to deal with the parts of life that have always been a struggle for me. I sometimes shout out WHY?!? I tell God how unfair it all is. I tell Him I’m angry and hurt and struggling. I ask why He couldn’t have healed Mac, so that we could have enjoyed many more years together here on earth. His answer is always the same …

“And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”—2 Corinthians 12:9 

I’m grateful for the way God has shown me how to face issues, and I know I can turn to the Lord for help (and I do), but I still struggle. Alone. Yet, the truth is that God is always there, always has a reason, always has a hug, always has encouragement … I just need to reach out to Him.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Why I can rejoice!

As I awoke this morning, my heart turned back to 9/11/01, and the fear, terror, and heartbreak of that day. I remembered how afraid I was. Mac was getting ready for work, and I was waiting for the coffeepot to finish brewing. I turned the radio on just in time to hear that there was breaking news from NY, and a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I went and flipped the TV on and was stunned at what I saw. I walked to the back of the house and told my husband what had happened.

I was watching the live footage when the second plane hit. I screamed, and my poor husband flew to the living room. We stood there in silence, knowing in our hearts that this country was under attack and wondered what was next, and were we in danger. We held each other and cried. We prayed for our country, and for those families who had just lost loved ones. As hubby went to finish dressing, I went to the closet, got our US flag out and put it up. I cried as I did it, and I was afraid.

When the Pentagon was hit, I couldn't stand up any longer. My knees were rubber and I was shaking. By the time the plane went down in Pennsylvania, I was almost frantic. I shook all day.

Early in the day I noticed that even though the freeway was just a few minutes from us, there was no sound of cars. It was like someone had closed it. At that time, we lived just 10 miles from Travis AFB, and suddenly some of their planes took a flight path over our house and the windows rattled and the floor shook. Then it was dead silent. Nothing was flying out of our local airport either (and that was before the government shut down all planes), and so it was just eerily silent all around me that day.

I called my husband at work twice that day. I needed to hear his voice. I was very glad when he arrived home. I needed to see him alive and hold him.

I remember President Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis speech and watching my mother cry. I didn't understand what was going on, but I knew it was bad. I do remember vividly where I was when President Kennedy was shot, and I can still see the images of his shooting, the funeral, etc in my mind. I remember so many other tragedies this country has faced, but nothing has struck me like this did. I knew that this country—and the world—would never again be as safe as I thought it was, nor would it ever be the same again.

So this morning as I reflected back, I wondered how I would face this type of day without Mac to hold me and support me, and tell me it would be okay. I began to cry and feel afraid. I grabbed a cup of coffee, some tissues and sat down for my morning devotions. That’s when I read:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Suddenly my heart felt light again. I was reminded that God would always be there to hold me, to support me, and to tell me it would be okay; for He is in control, my future is in His hands, and while I will suffer (and may even be afraid) while here on earth, eternity awaits. Eternity with Mac, and even better—eternity with my Lord and Savior.

I’m so thankful I belong to the God of peace who will always be with me!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”—Philippians 4:4-9

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My confidence

August 27th was another milestone in my journey: celebrating my first birthday alone. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had struggled so at the 9 month anniversary of Mac’s home going, and I wondered if I’d struggle with this next “first” in my life as a widow. I had moments where I wondered how I would feel, what should I do, how would I respond to any well wishes from friends and family—but mostly I just moved forward with my life.

Then the night before my birthday I sat at home and pondered, struggled and worried. I grabbed my Bible and began reading in 1 John. When I came to 1 John 5:14, I was reminded of two things: 1) this struggle was futile and ridiculous; and 2) all I needed to do was reach out to the Lord.

Okay, sounds simple, right? Twenty years ago, or ten or five years ago, or even one year ago, I would have scoffed at myself and probably muttered something along the lines of ‘yeah, right’—and then kept on struggling and worrying. Oh, I would have prayed, but I would have kept hold of a small bit of my worry and fear. After all, that’s what Mrs. Mac has always done. Always. Both before becoming a Christian, and in the 37 since I accepted Christ as my Savior. After all, I am a good worrier. Actually, I’m an excellent worrier. Top notch. First rate. My late husband used to remind me over and over to trust the Lord, let go of things—even during his last few days on this earth, he reminded me of this. Mac knew me well.

So there I was, about to hit another milestone, 66 years on earth and the first all alone, and I was fretting and worrying. I’ll tell you a secret … God knows me even better than Mac ever did; and through this past year of taking care of Mac, and in the months since Mac died, God has been teaching me. He’s shown me how much I can let go and trust HIM. I’ve learned how He has already prepared my path, and He’s ready to carry me through. So as I sat there reading those words of scripture, I bowed my head and turned it all over to the Lord. I poured my heart out to God and thanked Him for whatever He had already planned for me on my birthday, and if that was to spend time with Him all by myself, that was okay. An amazing sense of peace filled my heart. I went to bed totally at ease, slept well, awoke with a great joy in my heart, and stepped out to celebrate being another year older.

God did bless, and I was able to spend precious time with friends at breakfast and was surprised at the ladies that came to visit and eat–and visit. I took a drive, handled some financial issues, and then fixed a nice dinner and watched a movie. I was happy, content, and relaxed.

Does this mean I’ll never worry again? HA! Look back a few paragraphs, I’m the Queen of Worry. However, my prayer is that as I travel on this journey and grow in my faith, I’ll learn to trust more and worry less. After all, if God can take me through all that’s happened in the past 18 months, He can see me through whatever is ahead.


So Happy Birthday to me, and here’s to whatever God has in store for me!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Doing a good job-the GUILT box

Mac always told me, “God brought us together so that I could drive you crazy.” Then he’d look at me over the top of his glasses, with a little smile on his face and he’d chuckle as he said, “Apparently, I’m doing a good job.”

It seems he’s still doing a good job of it. Ha!

Today I was in the garage looking at the clean up project that I’m facing and grinding my teeth. There are over two dozen boxes that landed in the garage in May 2005, and have never been opened; in fact, some of them are starting to fall apart from the weather. They all contain ‘Mac Stuff’, but Mac never kept a detailed list of what is in each box, so they are all mystery boxes. Mysteries left for me as Mac never was interested in digging through them, and always said, “Some day when I’ve nothing better to do”. Today as I shuffled them around, I came across a box on which I’d written ‘MAC’ in several places, and on one side the word GUILT was written in large red letters with a marker. I vaguely remember marking the box, but I sure didn’t remember what was in it. I also remember that at one time it sat in a rather prominent place in the garage, where we saw it every time we walked into the garage. I thought Mac had emptied it since it had disappeared, but I should have known better. haha He simply tucked it away out of sight.

I had a good laugh as I dug into the box. Mostly computer books, a VHS tape for an old NES game, plus some drawing pencils and a mug, and a bucket load of dead bugs. However, the best item was a hardcover copy of The Code Breakers by David Kahn. Mac had read this book back in 1980 or so and found it quite interesting. A few years ago he wanted to read it again and he had me buy him another copy because he couldn’t find his copy. HAHAHA

“Hey, Mac, I found your book!” 



Because computers are marvels at letting you search for words within documents, I just searched on my iMac for GUILT. Sure enough I found this journal entry from October 2006:

I got out of the car, looked around at the mess in the garage, came in the house, changed my clothes and went out to work. I sorted through or emptied 16 boxes. Some of the boxes were consolidated and marked for our upper storage area. One box was a delight to open, especially since Mac had come out to the garage to check on me—everything in it was his! LOL! Yup, he must have asked me to pack it, and so it wound up on my list for the move. I took out 2 things: a cookbook and a music box and then I remarked the box. It now says “MAC” in several places and … GUILT on one side. hehehe

So here I am 8 years and 10 months later sorting through the GUILT box and laughing—laughing out loud by myself in the garage. Here I thought the word GUILT would encourage Mac to clean out his boxes. Nope, he just continued to joyfully ignore all those boxes—and he especially ignored the guilt box. 

Thanks, Mac, for all the years of joy and laughter, and for continuing to drive me crazy and make me laugh.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Heart stopping

There is something heart-stopping about arriving home and seeing an ambulance up the street at the home of your dear friends. My stomach lurched as I pulled up to my house last night and I cried out, “Oh no, Lord, please let them be okay.”

As I drove the car into the garage I prayed. I prayed as I walked into the house. I was still praying as I reached for the phone and called their house. My heart was pounding, and it was hard to catch my breath as I waited. Suddenly he answered the phone and said, “I knew you’d call. You’re praying for us, aren’t you?”

With tears rolling down my face, I said, “Yes, I’m praying.” He then told me what was wrong and that his wife was on the way to the ER. I told him I’d be praying throughout the night, and if he needed me to call and I’d head to the hospital. His voice broke as he said, “We knew you’d say that, and we won’t hesitate to call you.”

These two fine people are the first friends my late husband and I made when we moved here. Over the past 10 years we’ve celebrated anniversaries together, we’ve laughed, joked, cried, had serious discussions and then had silly ones as well. We’ve shared concerns for family and friends, and we’ve prayed together for those same dear ones. They stood by us through Mac’s heart valve replacement, sitting with me for hours in the waiting room, and holding my hand until the doctor finally arrived to say, “Oops, forgot to page you. Your husband did fine and is in recovery.” They stood by us as Mac fought his health battle last year and they stood by me when I returned home—alone.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble... “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”—Psalm 46English Standard Version (ESV)

Now we are down to three, and the bond between us remains as strong as ever. Yet our strongest bond is not of this earth, but found in the love of God, for all of us know Christ as our Savior. We have often talked about how in heaven none of us will have pain, or sorrow—and now we talk about how we’ll all see my beloved husband again.

I’ve learned so much in these last 10 months, with so much still to learn; and I know that God has brought me here for a reason and a purpose. Yet my fervent prayers last night were not just for my friend and her physical needs, but also for her husband—that he would not have to walk the path I’m on. Today we all rejoiced as she was able to return home, and is now on the mend. How thankful we all are for answered prayer. I am grateful to know the God of all comfort and be able to face the future resting in His love.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”—2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Nine months and Rejoicing

Often nine months is a time of celebration when a tiny new life enters the world; but it is also 273.9 days, or 39.1 weeks, or perhaps a lifetime of emptiness as well as joy. 

Today is the 9 month anniversary of Mac’s homegoing. This past week I’ve found myself myself reliving certain moments from that last week of his life, and wishing my mind would relive the happier days we had together. I feel emptier than normal, and more lost than I have been the last several months. It’s as though I’ve stepped backward to those first days when I was totally numb with grief and pain—and yet, this grief and pain is very different. I know what I had and lost, and I awake each day knowing in my heart that my life is different and will never be the same again; but I also know what I now have, and I step into each day knowing in my heart that my life is in the Lord’s hands and with His help and guidance I will face whatever is ahead.

Am I sad? Of course I am, but I am also happy. Am I lonely? Yes, I have moments when I am very, very lonely; but I am also very, very content. While I long to have my dearest husband back at my side, I also know that I *DO* have a perfect husband at my side:

“For your Maker is your husband”—Isaiah 54:5 (ESV)

With God as my husband, I want for nothing. He comforts, guides, directs, loves unconditionally yet chastises when necessary. He is always there, He never fails me, and He will be with me to the very end. So while I wish I’d never walked this path, I rejoice knowing it is God’s perfect plan for me (and was for Mac as well).

I can truly say with David: