Year of Milestone Dates

 

Milestone dates on the calendar mark our lives. We celebrate the big birthdays, the special anniversaries, and more. We’ve all been to parties to celebrate milestones with those we love and care about. May, June, and July are the hardest months of the year for me. There are several birthdays, anniversaries, and angelversaries in these 3 months. On May 17th, Kirk would have celebrated his 50th birthday. On June 12th, we would have celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, June 25th will mark the 7th year that Kirk went Home suddenly. These days are hard to face alone.

Kirk was a great father, husband, son, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, son-in-law, nephew, grandson, friend, and most of all my best friend. He worked so hard to provide for the three of us and always made sure everyone had what they needed, and sometimes what we wanted. He wasn’t too sure about having children but once Emily was born, she had him wrapped around her finger. He loved her with all his heart and always called her his baby girl. He loved being a mechanic and was one of the best in Indianapolis. His other love was drag racing. He helped his uncle build a dragster and got to work on a top alcohol funny car at The US Nationals here in Indy. He was like a kid on Christmas morning when he got the opportunity. I was so happy for him and it was so much fun to watch him. I treasure those memories.

It’s hard to fathom that 25 years ago I was planning our wedding. It seems like a lifetime ago some days, and other days it seems like it was yesterday. Looking at our pictures now we look like babies. So young, so full of hope for a lifetime ahead of us. We were so happy and ready to take on whatever life threw at us. Little did we know we would never make it to our 25th. We had just celebrated our 18th two weeks before Kirk died suddenly. I do feel blessed that we had 18 years of married life together, but feel cheated out of a future we had talked about and planned to have. But as we find out, we are not in control of our lives. Our lives can take sharp turns that we were not ready to navigate. The whiplash fall out is devastating and hard to comprehend.

Because of that, we start to ask why…why us? Why him? Why now?

But the hard truth is, we may never know or understand the reason that Kirk left us too soon. In Proverbs 20:24 we read, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way.” We will never understand why our loved ones are taken from us so soon or suddenly, but God wasn’t surprised. He knows what will happen, He is already there before we are. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” The Lord is already there and with us in our pain; in our grief. He wasn’t caught off guard on June 25th, 2011 when Kirk died in an accident. He was already there, making a way for us to heal and to comfort us.

It’s been a long journey that has tested patience, faith, and trust. Finding strength to get through some days is exhausting. As time goes on, those days get farther apart. You have to give yourself grace and just breathe. Always remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

One thing I want to leave you with is something I had heard on a national news channel one Sunday as Emily and I were headed to a soccer game. I will never get into politics on this blog, but a reporter was talking about Barbara Bush and reporting on her health the day before Mrs. Bush passed away. She said, “George and Barbara have been married for 73 years. I know that 73 years is a long time to be married. But it’s never long enough.” I sat there and I have to admit I had tears in my eyes. I thought about how true that statement was. Even though they had 73 wonderful years of marriage, had the highest of highs in life, and had lowest of lows; 73 years was still not enough.

I sure do know our 18 years wasn’t enough. But I was so blessed to have dated him for five years and then be his bride for 18 years. I know God truly blessed me on January 23, 1988 when we went out on our first date, and then on our wedding day June 12, 1993, and then the birth of our beautiful daughter Emily in July of 2001.

Time is fleeting and it’s a precious commodity that we can never get back. Love while you can, be kind to each other, leave every person you meet better for having spent time with you. Always remember that today is not enough time and tomorrow is never promised. And most important, God loves you and He is for you. He is there in our grief, and He is there in our joy.

A Prayer
Lord, thank you for blessing us with the gift of Kirk.
He touched so many and left holes in our hearts.
Lord I know you are with each of us and you are with us every single minute.
I pray that You comfort each of us in our losses and that we find strength, healing, and peace through You.
It’s in Your Precious Name we pray,
Amen.

“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” Proverbs 20:24″

 

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My Rock

 

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; for He is my mighty rock, my refuge.”
Psalm 62:7

I spend much of my time within my new work area at a big hospital in Indianapolis. I call my new work area, my “penthouse suite.” Four big windows overlook the parking lot and cancer center. In front of the cancer center is a pond with a fountain in the middle. From three floors up, I watch the geese and ducks enjoy their water oasis. I watch them swim. Most days, when it’s beautiful and sunny, I envy them. Today, I envisioned their little webbed feet working hard to keep their bodies afloat. On the surface they look calm, peaceful gliding through the shimmering ripples, but under the surface, we do not see the struggle of their legs and feet working to keep them floating.

Are you like the ducks?

On the surface, you put on a face of being calm, peaceful, and joyful; but below the water line you are struggling and giving life all you have. Are you hoping that one day your legs will catch up with your head?

After your husband died did you have the sensation of drowning in life? Physically? Emotionally? And spiritually? Yeah me too!!!

After Kirk died, I felt the pounding of the grief waves, the hurricane force winds, and the water rising over my head. I had to find solid footing before the ocean of grief covered me and dragged me out to the vast nothingness of despair and anxiety. I had so many family and friends that were throwing me life jackets and trying to direct me back. I reached for them and they were able to help me maintain a float. But I knew there is only one Savior, one person that could sit me on that rock. His name is Jesus and He not only stood me on that rock…He is the Rock.

Psalm 71:3 “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.”

In Matthew 7:25-27 it says, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words and do not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Jesus gave us this parable to show how when you put your faith and trust in Him and trouble enters your life, you are already set on a firm foundation. Now your house will rock, it will creak, and it will sway, but it will not crash; it will still be standing on that Rock, on Him.

Is your foundation on that glorious Rock? That Rock does not move and it WON’T be moved. It’s up to us to stand on that Rock. Will you stand on The Rock?

A Prayer for You
Lord, I pray that every single one of us stand on that Rock, the One that You provided for us.
I pray that we are able to withstand the gusts of this life because You are our Foundation.
Thank you Lord for Your sacrifice so that we have that foundation to stand upon.
That Rock will never move or be shaken!
In Your Precious name I pray
Amen.

Comfort from the Psalms
“He will call out to me,
You are my Father, my God,
the Rock
my Savior.”
Psalm 89:26

 

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Can You Imagine

Preserve (verb) – to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

We tend to admire others who display perseverance in their lives.

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie, “I Can Only Imagine.” I Can Only Imagine is the story of Bart from the band, Mercy Me. It’s an incredible story that resulted in a beautiful song (I Can Only Imagine) that makes me cry every time I hear it. His story is one of perseverance and resilience in facing his childhood riddled with physical and mental abuse at the hands of his dad. His mom left him at a young age. This meant Bart was alone with his abusive father. He had to deal with feelings of guilt and abandonment as a result. Not very many people could have bounced back from that type of childhood and become part of a record breaking Christian band. Long story short, go see the movie or read his story, he forgives his dad and is able to write this incredible song out of his pain, anger, and grief.
His story prompted a friend and I to consider something,

But if Bart did not live his life of abuse and pain; do you think he would have written a beautiful song that has reached so many people? Do you think Bart would have escaped his childhood and drowned out his life with music?

We will never know the answer to that question. What we do know is that God used Bart and his life lessons to reach millions of people through music. Bart’s life story has touched millions of others and has opened their eyes and minds to God because of his perseverance.

God takes our pain, fault, sin, anger, and brokenness and turns it into a blessing for others. In Romans 8:28, it says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

My loss of Kirk, my husband has been able to spring board me into a position that is a blessing to other widows and their families. My loss has enabled me to reach back and help others that have begun their journey of widowhood.

Would I rather have Kirk here at home with me tonight? You bet I would!! But God has a purpose and plan for me that I am not going to try to understand or know the reason for. I know that when God lays something on my heart to do, I obey and follow His lead. I use my grief and story to try to help others that are struggling and needing a compassionate ear and heart. If I can help just one person see the love God has for them and help ease their pain of their loss; I feel Kirk’s death has meaning and a purpose. If I lead one person to be saved by our story, then Kirk did not die in vain. This gives his death a purpose, a beautiful purpose of leading a soul to enter the kingdom of God for eternity.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,”

God knows the why’s and the reasons, we don’t. One thing I do know is that His way and path for me is so much better than the one I try to carve out for myself. I don’t understand why Kirk was taken from us so soon. I don’t know why his life was cut so short and my daughter has grown up without her father. But what I do know is that God has a plan for all of us and that I need to trust Him with my whole life, with my whole story. I know His plans for me are much more beautiful than anything I could do myself or dream of. I say this to myself several times a day: His way, not mine; His will, not mine.

I encourage you to use your story to help others in your life. Do you know how much you will bless someone to just give them a few words of encouragement? To let them know they are not alone. You will actually feel more blessed by doing this. It’s an incredible feeling that is a beautiful balm to the soul.

As a closing thought, here are a few of the lyrics and a link to the song, I Can Only Imagine.

“I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes would see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine”

Let the words soak into your heart and mind. I cry every time because I can only imagine what I’ll see and what my loved ones that have gone before me have already seen.

 

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The Mirror

 

Unrecognizable.

That’s how I felt when I looked in the mirror after I lost Kirk; I didn’t recognize the woman looking back. I looked pale and lifeless. My eyes that were always full of life looked sunken in and sad, no sparkle to be found. To be honest, I couldn’t stand to look at myself because the reality of what life had just thrown at me was written all over my face. Women that were complete strangers would come up to me in public, pat my hand, and give me a look of first-hand knowledge and understanding.
​Our faces and eyes cannot hide grieving. It’s been said that our eyes are the windows to our souls, and if that be the case then my eyes after losing Kirk were deep, hollow, and dark.

For a couple years after Kirk passed, I felt like a stranger within myself. I kept trying to find footing that felt familiar. I was a wife and a mom. Suddenly, I was a widow with a child that lost her father. I had to remind myself daily that this journey was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. I prayed for direction and asked God to show me the path back to myself. I cried out to Him to help me stay on the path that was anointed for me and to keep focused.

Proverbs 3:6, says, “In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” I ask every day for the wisdom to hear His voice and follow the path He has laid before me.

Since I have been a widow for almost 7 years, one thing that is constant is that life is ever-changing. Life comes at you fast and there are stretches of time that seem relentless. But something to remember and carry with you is that God never changes. He is the only one that is constant and never moves off course, never gets distracted, nothing surprises Him. God never moves from us, He never changes.

When your life is shaken, when you lose your footing; look to God for your foundation. We read in Matthew 7:26, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had it’s foundation on the rock.” Storms will come when we least expect them. Some storms will tear through and try to destroy you. If you build on the Rock, and trust and have faith that this foundation will not be shaken, you can weather any storm.

It takes time to get through these storms of life. It will take time to recognize yourself in the mirror. But I promise that you will get through the storms and the mirror will be welcoming again. God is with you and loves you. He will help you and never leave you. Have faith and trust in God and leave the heavy burdens to Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

A prayer for your unrecognizable self:

Lord, I pray for everyone that is heavy in heart.
I pray for everyone that do not recognize the person they are right now.
I pray that You will refresh their souls and give them rest.
Being a widow is such a heavy burden Lord, but we are shown in scriptures that You are for us and love us.
Lord, I pray that we all feel your presence.
You never move or leave us, but we do move and disconnect and I pray that we stay connected to You Lord because You alone fill our souls and give us rest.
Thank you Lord. It’s in Your Precious Name I pray.
Amen.

Comfort from the Psalms:

“He refreshes my soul, He guides me along the right paths for His names sake.” Psalm 23:3
“Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6

 

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The “W” Word

As I have met widows and talked with them, the one theme that comes up in conversations is how much the word “widow” is despised. I always agree with them; the word is awful. The word to me sounds so lonely and cold. As a child, I had two great grandmothers that were widows. In my mind, they were the poster women for that word. But they fit the word widow to me, they were older and lived alone since their children were grown and had families of their own.

So how did that “W” word become a word associated with me?

I am neither as old as they were or alone in my household. I have a child living at home with me. I am not a “poster woman” for this word. I hate filling out forms that ask your marital status. Checking the widow box on forms hurts my heart. In my mind I am too young to check that box. That “W” word brings up emotions of disgust and sadness. Some might think it’s silly for that to happen, but I say to them you must not be a widow. Only a widow(er) would understand that knife stuck in the heart. It’s neither silly or ridiculous. It can be painful and bring up feelings of sadness.

As I think about that word and how it is attached to me, it doesn’t define me, but it is associated with me. I have sat and thought about the women through history that have been widows and they didn’t let that word keep them in the shadows. One such widow was Alexander Hamilton’s widow Eliza Hamilton. My daughter Emily is a huge history lover and she loves Hamilton, The Musical. I learned that Eliza went on to do several extraordinary things in her life after the untimely death of Alexander. She helped found the Orphan Asylum Society which still exists today and is known as Graham Windham. She also helped raise money for the construction of the Washington Monument that stands proudly in Washington D.C. She lived 50 more years and never remarried. In an article on smithsonianmag.com it says that Eliza and Alexander’s son James once complimented his mother’s heroic work for poor orphans, and she replied pragmatically, “My Maker has pointed out this duty to me, and has given me the skill and inclination to perform it.” Wow!!! What a widow warrior she was!!

I think about the poor widows that endured so much in the past. History is full of stories of widows and how they went on to do so much good for others. A lot of them talk about their faith in Christ and how He brought them through their darkest times.

Do you trust God in your darkest times?

I know the word widow is not fun to think about. I know none of us want that word attached to us. But God loves us and we are special to Him. God loves and cares for our children. Psalm 146:9 NIV says to us, “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” He sees us and knows our hearts. Psalm 68:4-5 NIV states, “Sing to the God, sing in praise of His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before Him-His name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” We are special to Him, please never forget that.

God sees us for so much more than that word, widow. We are His children and He loves us beyond measure. Psalm 34:18 NIV reminds us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Just know and trust that He sees us, knows our pain, and lifts us up where we are. Not only is God for you and fighting for you, but there are so many of us widow warriors that are fighting right beside you also; you are NEVER alone!!

A Prayer for The Night:

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