Saturday, February 13, 2016

Toss and Give

One of the things I’ve had trouble facing for the past 15 months is cleaning out my late husbands room and his things. At first it was the emotional heart tug that got to me, now it’s mainly because I find it totally overwhelming. I’ve been praying about this, and praying and praying. I know I need to face this project, and I truly would like to be able to use that room. I can envision a lovely craft room in there. It already has a work table and a desk. Yet, I never seem to find the energy to get in there and get the cleaning done.

Recently this idea popped into my head: toss something away every day. Just one thing, or one small stack of things. I began today, and I started with something in my closet. Yeah, I know that’s not “his” room, but he would approve. Trust me on this. 

See (well, actually you can see because I took photos – har har) this ripped package has been living in the closet for almost 10 years now (and it was totally covered in dust when I touched it today. Achoo!). The paper became ripped as we removed it from the moving box in May 2006, and since it’s not obvious what is in that dusty paper: it’s Santa in his glittered covered sleigh with reindeer and the sleigh is filled with packages and a small tree—it really was pretty. I had visions of hanging this up every Christmas, but M absolutely refused to hang it up until I cleaned it up.

“But … but … my mom made this when I was only 8 years old (translation: it’s now 58 years old) and I can’t change it!” 

M was unwavering in his stand: it wouldn’t hang in our nice new, clean home until it was also clean, so it stayed in the paper. I simply couldn’t bring myself to fix it up. 

Do you notice a pattern here? I have always had issues with hanging onto “things” because someone I loved made it, read it, enjoyed it, or maybe even hated it but couldn’t get rid of it either. Yeah, I come from a long line of collectors of stuff. I’m aware that hanging on to all of these “things” carries an emotional, spiritual and perhaps even physical price. They tug at my heart and it’s not always a good tug as it can plunge me into sadness. At times they cause me to turn my eyes on the things of this world, instead of on my Savior. Plus they are a hazard, as I can barely move in M’s room without tripping on something. I don’t need to find myself on the floor with a busted bone! Anyhow, back to my project.

If you look at the close up of “Santa”, you’ll notice his disgustingly brown beard, and his suit appears orange-brown instead of red. You can also see what looks like dirt on the reindeer. Folks, while there is dirt there, what you are looking at is nicotine! (My mom was heavy smoker). Disgusting, isn’t it? Worse, after 16 years away from cigarettes, this whole collection of sleigh, packages, “Santa” and reindeers STINK! Yes, they still stink of nicotine. Just think: I’ve been letting this stuff slowly ooze into the clean air in my home. Stupid. It’s also obvious to me that no amount of cleaning up and fixing is going to make this truly useable.

So today the toss and give project begins. One item in the trash each day, and one item in the give away bag each day as well. My first give away is a set of sheets that I can’t stand looking at because they were a favorite of M’s and the last sheets he slept on; and Santa is now in the trash bag. 

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”—Colossians 3:2

Strangely, as I placed these two items in their appropriate bags I heard this applause from somewhere. I’m sure it was M.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Perfect Valentine

At “A Widows Christian Place”, a recent discussion was on how to deal with Valentine’s Day as a widow. It’s a question I’d been asking myself for several weeks—in fact since this year began. 

This is my second Valentine’s Day as a widow—only it’s not just Valentine’s Day, it was my late husbands birthday. In our home, it was always his birthday. It wasn’t until he retired, that he actually gave me a Valentine’s Day card. I never felt bad, after all he treated me like his Valentine every day, and I felt that he should be allowed to enjoy his birthday. So every year he picked the meals, the activities, and almost always asked to end the day with pineapple upside down cake and ice cream. This cake was a challenge for me, as my mom never baked this dessert and I went through several “from scratch” recipes before I found one that Mac really liked. I have wonderful memories of messes in the kitchen (especially the year I burned the cake - brown sugar, butter and pineapple don’t wash out of a pan very easily!), and holding my breath as he took that first bite. Would it earn me a “GREAT!”, or a “That’s good” – which meant keep trying. I was thrilled when I finally earned a “FANTASTIC cake, Kimberly!” A keeper recipe for a keeper husband.

Last year I was a widow of 3 months and floundering and hurting deeply. I simply wanted the calendar to go from February 13 to February 15. However, God had other plans for me. A friend invited me to a tea party for several gals in church, another friend picked me up and off we went. We laughed, read scriptures, and enjoyed delicious food and company. Yet, while I loved the company, I struggled through the entire event. You can ask the gals—I burst into tears at one point. I seem to be good at that. ha ha Looking back, I can see where the whole day was a time of strengthening for me, spiritually and emotionally, but it sure was a tough lesson. So how will I deal with Valentine’s Day this year?

Over the past 15 months I’ve grown into a widow—no I’m a woman of God—who is learning to let the past go and move forward. I have found this to be the healthiest way for me to live. My spiritual health, as well as my emotional and physical health, are the better for it. I’m happier, more active, calmer, content, and able to help others. After all, when I’m not focusing inward, but upward, God is able to use me to minister to others. Maybe it’s just a smile. Or praying. Or a greeting hello. Or a hug. Or laughing with friends. Or even just listening. I ask Him each day to use me, to guide my steps, to make my spirit sweet. 

As I said, I’ve been praying about this day since the beginning of 2016. This year Valentine’s Day is a SUNDAY, so I'll be in church worshipping the SON. I sing with the music team and I’m ready for the songs about loving the Lord. The ladies on the team will be singing special music, and I’m spiritually and emotionally ready for that as well. I’ve learned (shock!) a good lesson, and several weeks ago I asked the music team to pray with me as I face this day, so that I’m able to face it with a smile on my face that reflects the joy in my heart.

After church, I’ll enjoy lunch with friends, just as I always do on Sunday, then home to rest and read and back to church in the evening. So this will simply be a normal Sunday: one spent in God’s house, with God’s people, praising our Savior—the perfect Valentine!

“We love, because He first loved us.”—1 John 4:19 (NASB)