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: