Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Jesus is the Same

We've reached 10 weeks since my Mama went to be with Jesus.  I've been wondering all morning how long will I count the weeks and then begin to only count the months.  I don't even want to think about years.  Just adding up the weeks and beginning to count the months along with them is more than I can process.  It seems like forever since I've talked to her, seen her, hugged her.  Sometimes I think I would do anything to have the chance to do all of those things once again, but once I remember that would require her to leave heaven, I quickly realize I actually wouldn't do anything.  As much as I love her, and I love her more than my heart could ever fully express, Jesus loves her infinitely more.

Hearing her say, "I'll talk to you tomorrow" still replays over and over in my head.  I still pick up the phone to call her without even realizing what I'm doing.  I cry every day.  When I see my dad's name pop up on the caller ID my first thought is it's her.  The hours between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm continue to be hard.  Wednesdays I dread still.  I wonder how long will those things continue to happen frequently?

It still hurts so much at times I don't know how I'm going to take my next breath.  The void ... the black hole ... continues to get bigger.  After buying flowers to put together for her grave once they finally get the stone laid, I went home and sobbed.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion through the aisles.  I don't know how I would have ever done it without Mary's help.

Going to the cemetery every day has just become a normal part of life.

So has living with a broken heart.

Yet in the midst of all of the pain and sorrow, there is one thing that is even more constant than all of that.

My Jesus is still the same as He was 10 weeks and one day ago as He is today.  He is still faithful.  He continues to carry me and hold me.  He comforts me in a way no one else has or ever will.  He is my hope ... my only hope.  Somehow, even in the middle of all of the chaos going on in my heart, He gives me the peace that passes all understanding.  He is my rock.

I was sharing with my bible study group yesterday how one of the first things I thought about after my Mama died was ...

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8

As I sat on the carport as they were preparing to bring my mom out of her house, this verse kept replaying over and over in my mind.  I kept saying over and over, "My Jesus is the same, my Jesus is the same."  I've held tightly to this truth every moment since then.

I'm currently attending a bible study over the 23 Psalm.  I've always just thought of this Psalm as the one that is almost always read at a funeral.  My uncle referenced it at the graveside the day we buried her.  However, I will never think of it the same way again.  It has so much more meaning to me.  It's such a vivid picture of how the Lord truly is our Shepherd.  An illustration of how He constantly watches over us, protects us and leads us exactly to where we need to be.

I am His sheep, and He is my Shepherd.  A protective Shepherd who not only constantly watches over me, but a Shepherd that is constantly pouring His grace and mercy upon me.  He's always done this in the past.  His doing it this very moment.  And He will be doing it when the weeks and months turn into years.


I couldn't survive this pain otherwise.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Relationships 101"

This past Sunday our pastor's sermon was on relationships.  I can't seem to locate my bulletin and notes at the moment, but if I remember correctly his title was, "Relationships 101".  He based it on I Thessalonians 3:17-18 ... at least those are the two verses that stick out in my mind but there may have been a few more.

Anyhoo, it has had me thinking and praying all week about relationships I have within my family and friends.  Verse 17 has been replaying over and over in my mind ...

"But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while— in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face." ~ I Thessalonians 3:17

Who do I most want to spend my time with?  Who am I most eager to see?

Those were questions Caleb asked us during his sermon, and immediately several names came to my mind.  As looked around the room my heart would smile just at the thought of spending time with the friends I had around me.  I then thought about others ... family members and friends who don't go to my church.  I thought of my Mama and my Nannie and how I can't wait to see them again some day.  And I thought of Jesus and how I can't wait to spend eternity crawled up in His lap sharing my heart.

But almost as quick as my heart was smiling thinking of those I long to spend time with, I became sad and angry at the thought of having to spend time with others.

I know that sounds awful, but you must admit you have those thoughts too.  We all do.

I have more than my fair share of those people in my life, but I'm also very blessed to be surrounded with people who I love to just be with.  I love just being with people.  I love and I need it.  Especially lately.  Spending very much time alone at all since my Mama died has not been a good thing.  I don't do well at all.

As I've been thinking about relationships this past week, I've thought a lot about those who have rallied around me the past couple of months.  Actually since I became sick four and half years ago.  Mostly the past two months have stuck out in my mind, and the Lord has reminded of how blessed I am.

And Satan has reminded me of those who have failed me.

As of late, one person keeps coming to my mind more than others.  It's painful, and it makes me angry at the same time to even think about her.  This is someone I was close to when we were kids, and we spent a lot of time together.  She has yet to mention my mom's passing to me.  She didn't come to the funeral home, nor did she come to the funeral.  She hasn't called or texted.  She hasn't even said anything to me on Facebook.  I knew I would be seeing her recently, and I dreaded it to the point it made me sick.  I really didn't know how I would handle it.  I am not good at pretending everything is okay.  Frankly, I've spent so much energy trying to pretend lately I'm exhausted.  I was fearful my anger would get the best of me, and I would say something I would regret.  I almost didn't go to this event because of it.

Even when I saw her face to face, she still didn't mention it.  I wanted to scream at her and ask her, "You do remember my Mama died, right?  Do you even care?".

The Lord was gracious and held my tongue.

And He was also quick to remind me of how I have failed others also.  Family and friends that I haven't been there for like I should have been.  He showed me just how self-righteous I was being.

Ouch.

I can't control how others treat me, but I can control how I respond.  I allowed Satan to squeeze his way into a time the Lord was showing me how blessed I am.  Just as Caleb reminded us on Sunday, he comes to rob, steal and kill our joy.  And I let him.

As I've been so vividly been shown my own sin, I've thought about how I've also neglected my relationship with the Lord so many times.  I don't spend nearly enough time with Him.  I don't pray as often as I should, and I'm certainly not spending enough time in His word.

I need to be more focused on nurturing my relationship with Jesus, and less time focused on how someone has hurt me.

My relationship with the Lord should be the most important relationship I have in my life.  He is the One I should long to see more than any other.  That's the first and most important thing I should learn in "Relationships 101".

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nine Wednesdays

Monday marked two months since my Mama was called home, and just two days later marks nine weeks.  Nine Wednesdays ago today.  Two months seemed like a long time, but nine weeks seems so much longer to me.  It's amazing how only two days can make such a difference in my heart.

Monday I got the phone call from my dad that my mom's headstone is finally here.  Two months to the day after she went to be with Jesus it finally arrived.  I have been anxiously awaiting it to get here.  It's hard looking at the plastic grave marker and not being able to put a big beautiful bouquet of flowers there for her.  She loved flowers.  She loved getting them, and she loved when the grandchildren would pick them for her from the ones my dad had grown.  So I want her to always have a big bouquet of beautiful flowers.

As much as I have awaited the headstone to arrive, hearing it was here felt like a stab in the stomach.  Just another reminder this is real and it's forever.  I didn't expect it to be so hard.

Monday night I was given the gift of having a precious conversation with a beloved friend.  She lost her husband just a few short years ago.  As I was telling her the headstone had finally arrived, she shared with me how long it had taken her to order one for her husband.  Her exact words to me were, "It's awful it took so long ..."

I immediately told her it wasn't awful.  People grieve differently and not everyone goes through certain parts of the process at the same rate.  I explained to her I don't know if I could have ordered it so quickly.  Just sitting in the room flipping through books made the room spin around me.  But my dad was insistent on getting it ordered as quickly as possible.  I am so grateful he did, but I'm not sure I could have done it so soon.

What struck me during our conversation were the tears that began to stream down her face during our conversation.  It hit me that although it had become a little easier for her to get through the day to day activities of life, the wound in her heart was just as fresh as the day it happened.

Lord, thank you for showing me it not just  me.

My friend has a deep relationship with the Lord.  He is her everything.  She doesn't have to say it with her mouth, her actions scream it.  I've had the privilege of being in Grace group with her and her children.  The evidence of her children's hearts shows the teaching and the example she has been to them.  I know that I know she has sought and trusted the Lord in her grief.  So seeing her tears was encouraging to my heart that's it's okay to cry ... it's okay that it still hurts so much.  It's okay as long as I seek and trust the Lord in my grief.  I've been told just the opposite so many times over the past two months.

I was so tired and in so much pain that night, I almost sent my family to the graduation without me.  I didn't make the final decision to go until moments before leaving.  I am grateful the Lord gave me the willingness and the strength to go.  I wanted to go badly, but I was torn because of the way I was feeling.  Not only did I get to witness two young men who are very dear to my heart walk across the stage, I was also given the gift of having one of the comforting conversations I've had since my Mom's passing.

It's still going to be a few days before the headstone is set.  The people who are responsible for setting it told my dad yesterday they hope to have it done by the weekend, but they couldn't guarantee it.  It's going to be hard to see her name and date of death permanently marked.

But how joyous it is her name is marked permanently in the Lamb's book of Life!

Lord, help me to focus on the surety I have she isn't in that ground.  She's with you.

After leaving the cemetery last night I saw this in the sky.

Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful reminder of Your promises.
  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Months With Jesus

It's so hard for my head to comprehend today marks 2 months my Mama has been with Jesus.  My heart feels every minute of it though.  I still can't look at a picture of her without bursting into tears.  There is a part of me that is still in shock.  I picked up the phone this week twice to call her.  There are times I turn around and I see her standing there.  It seems so real it's almost like I can reach out and touch her.

We've now lived through the first Easter and the first Mother's Day without her.  It wasn't easy.  Both days my nephew said the prayer over lunch, and both times he ended it by saying, "And Jesus, please let Nana have a good time with you today."  I'm crying just typing that.

I keep asking how this could have happened.  I still wake up and wonder if it was all a nightmare.  I have yet to finish "thank you" notes.  If you are due one, it's coming.  I just can't tell you when.  I can only seem to write a couple of them at a time without crying.  I'm not sure why it's so hard.

I miss her more and more every day.  There are moments the pain is all encompassing.  It's paralyzing and takes my breath away.  I know people say it will get easier, but I don't believe it will happen until Jesus comes back.

Maybe that will be today.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly.

I have prayed this at least a dozen times already today.  My longing for Heaven grows moment to moment.

The day my Mama died I kept reminding myself my Jesus is the same today as He was moments before that heart-wrenching phone call from my dad.  He's the same Jesus today that He was during my last conversation with my mom when she said to me, "I'll talk to you tomorrow."  He knew it would be the last conversation I would ever have with her.  It was part of His perfect plan to call her home less than 24 hours later.  His perfect plan for her and for me.

I know His way is perfect, and I know He will give me the grace to get through moment to moment.  I wish I felt though.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

She Was A Gift

I spent a lot of time last week perfecting a post about my mom for Mother's day, but I never completed it.  A family emergency has consumed not only my time, but even more so my emotions and energy.  I am completely wiped out.  Mother's Day ended up being a horrible day.  It being the first of many Mother's Days without my mom was difficult enough, but adding in the stress of a couple other events that happened over the weekend only made things worse ... much worse.

Our lives are forever changed.  Nothing stays the same.  Nothing is constant.  In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told that to everything there is a season.  Some seasons last longer than others.  Some seem to be never-ending, but eventually they do change.  Everything changes.  Everything.

But God.

"I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. " ~ Ecclesiastes 3:14

 I can rest in that.  I can rest in that because God is sovereign over all things.  He's in complete control when things change.  When chaos arises and we are so overwhelmed we don't know which way to go, He will lead us.  He's got it all under control.  He's already got it all figured out for us.  Romans 8:28 tells us that everything that happens to those that love Him is for their good.  It doesn't always feel good though.  Sometimes it seems as if your world is crumbling around you.  But no matter what happens in your life, even if you end up like Job and loose everything you have, it's for your good if you love Jesus.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." ~ Romans 8:28

And it's all for His glory.

I've lost sight of that this week, but just like His word tells us ...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
 
When I think about my mom and all of the struggles she endured, I realize she knew this.  She knew it and she believed it with are her heart, mind and soul.  So many times I heard her say, "I could have never have done it without the Lord."

My mom left my abusive biological father when he was at work one night with 36 cents in her pocket and didn't know where we were going to go.   She managed to raise three kids while working two and three jobs at a time, and eventually graduated at the top of her class when she received her nursing degree.  She always made sure we never went hungry, had a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs.  When she didn't have the money to go to the laundry mat, she would wash our clothes by hand in the bathtub, and she always ironed them so they would look brand new.

After graduating nursing school and marrying my Dad (who by the way is a precious gift from the Lord Jesus to us), life got easier, but she didn't slow down working.  She taught us what it means to have a strong work ethic.  She would make us take turns cleaning the kitchen, and I would trade out cooking dinner with her.  At 13 we had to start doing our own laundry.  We had to help clean the entire house.  Once we got jobs we had to pay a household bill.  It was only $20-25.  At the time we bellyached.  We fussed and whined how unfair she was being, but when I married I knew how to cook and take care of a household.  I knew how to pay bills, and working hard was in my blood.

Anytime anyone would commend her on all she had accomplished, she would respond by saying, "I could have never done it without the Lord."  He always got the credit.

There is so much I could write about my mom, but the most important thing anyone needs to know is how much she loved Jesus.  She always knew that regardless of the circumstances, He would get her through.

"We're just going to have to trust the Lord, Robin."  She said this to me two days before she died.

She loved the Lord and she wanted everyone else to also.  So many people have told us what a witness she was to them.

A friend of mine wrote this on my Facebook wall on Mother's Day ...

"I am thinking of you today, Robin. I cannot know the pain you suffer over the loss of your mother, but I do know how very, very lucky you were to have such a wonderful mother who has left such an empty spot. To be given the gift of a loving, caring, supporting mother, even if for less time than you would like, is a blessing. You are loved by many, Robin."

What a gift my Mama was to me!!

I miss her more with each passing day.  I still visit her grave every day.  I think I've missed four days since she passed.  We often run into someone who is there visiting her grave also.  That speaks volumes to me.  People love her so much, she was so special to them, that they make it a point to visit her grave.

I love you, Mama.  You will always be special to me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jumbled Thoughts

I've tried to write so many times, but I'm not sure how to put the jumbled up thoughts in my head into words.  I've written so many post that I've later thought didn't make any sense, so I deleted them.

The one thing that is on my mind the most is this coming Sunday.  I dread Mother's day with every fiber of my being.  I would prefer to just skip over the day and pretend it didn't exist.  But I can't do that to my mother-in-law.  She deserves to be celebrated.

She should be celebrated.  I am grateful for her.  She's been such a great mother-in-law to me, and she's an amazing Grammy to my girls ... and my nephew.  I love her.  We've butted heads over the years.  Both of us are strong-willed and have our own opinions we don't mind sharing.  But we speak our minds and move own.  She's always been there when I've needed her.  I'm blessed to have her.

It's just hard knowing I won't see my Mama.  I wish I was racking my brain trying to figure out what gift to buy her.  Instead I'm wondering if I'll be able to put flowers in the vase on her headstone or need to buy flowers just to lay on her grave.  It's looking like her headstone won't be set before Sunday.  We were hoping it would be.

I'm tired of crying.  I'm tired of pretending I'm okay.  I'm tired of having to choke out the words, "I'm okay" when people ask how I am.

I am tired.  I'm physically exhausted and mentally drained.

I long for Heaven.  I pray every day the Lord would return, but He keeps saying to me, "just a little longer".  His a "little longer" and mine don't match up.

No, I don't audibly hear Him.

I do, however, turn around and see my mom standing in front of me often.  It's so real to me I think I can touch her.  So maybe I am loosing my mind.

Maybe I will soon be able to put my jumbled thoughts into sentences that make sense.  Right now it's just chaos in my head.

I'm grateful God is in control and not me.  It's times like this I would surely make a mess out of everything.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

7 Weeks

Really missing my Mama today ...

It's been 7 weeks today.



 I love you, Mama.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Paranoia Is Getting The Best Of Me

This past week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life.  My entire life.  I've been a basketcase.  Most of the week I've spent alone, other than bible study on Tuesday and a meeting on Thursday night.  I have purposefully spent it alone because I just don't have the energy to pretend I'm okay.  I canceled most of what I had planned.  I went to bible study thinking it might help, and I had to go to my Titus 2 meeting Thursday night.  I was the one in charge of the meeting, and I had already had to cancel it twice.  Oh, and I had my MRI on Monday.  That was lovely.

I am weary.  I dread sleep because I keep having the exact same nightmare about my mom.  She's screaming for help, and I can't get to her.  I try to scream for someone to help her, but I can't get the words out.  So when I do sleep, it's an exhausting sleep.

I still can't even get over the shock of my mom's death.  It wears off little by little each day, but I still just can't wrap my head around how she can be here one minute and then gone with no warning.  I don't know how I'm supposed to live the rest of my life without her.  I've picked up the phone several times this week to call her.  I don't even know how to explain the feeling that comes over me when I realize I can't call her.

I'm paranoid.  I had someone tell me I thought everyone was out to get me.  That's not true.  Yes, I've had people say dumb, hurtful things to me.  Things that have hurt me deeply.  That's not paranoia.  That's just fact.  However, I do feel like everyone is pulling away from me.  Some people actually are because they just don't know what to do.  They don't know how to help or what to say.  It's just easier for them to back away.  So that causes me to feel like everyone around me is.

Everyone.

I have this delusion I'm not a part of my mom's family anymore.  She was the link to them, and now she's gone.  Deep down I know it's not true, but on the surface it feels that way.  I don't know how to explain it.  I know it sounds foolish, but it's how I feel.  I have a couple of aunts who call a couple of times a week to check on me.  One of my uncles will text me a few times a week wanting to know how I'm doing.  Another one has called a couple of times to check on me.  A few of my cousins will email me occasionally to see how I'm doing.  One aunt took me to lunch one day, and we spent a couple of hours having a heart to heart conversation.

But I'm still terrified I don't belong anymore.  I've thought a lot about it this week trying to figure out why.  Maybe it's because I don't feel like I can be completely honest with them about how I'm really doing.  I feel like I have to hold back some because they are dealing with their own grief.  My mom's death has been devastating to all of us.

I've even felt the same way about Mary and Darryl; two of my best, most cherished friends.  Mary has held her phone for hours and listened to me poor my heart out and cry ... and cry some more.  There have been several days she's just picked me up and taken me to her house because she knows being alone isn't good for me.  She's taken me to the cemetery.  She's even taken me to Sonic ... that is a big deal for Mary because she's not fond of all the sugar in those large drinks I get.  But she did it because she loves me.  Darryl has spent hours sitting on my couch listening to me spill my guts and trying to encourage me.  Hours.  He's spent quite a bit of time holding his phone too.  They always answer.  They always come when I need them.  Yet in my paranoia I even feel like they are pulling away, when it's simply not true.

I've even felt that way about Nathan.  The one who sits by me every night listening to me.  The one who takes me to the cemetery every day.  He would do anything for me.  He's not going anywhere.  He's proven that time and time again.

I feel like I have to pretend I'm okay around most everyone.  Pretending is exhausting, and I'm really not that good at it.  When people ask me how I'm doing it's all I can do to choke out the words, I'm okay.  I'm really not okay.  Far from it.  I just don't want to make people uncomfortable.

I talk to one of my brothers almost every day.  I think there have only been two days since my mom died that we haven't talked, but we have texted every single day.  He understands more than anyone how I feel.  We've spent so many hours talking.  We've cried and we've laughed.  But even with him I feel like I can't let him know how I'm really doing.  He's a basketcase too.  I don't want to add to his grief.  And I know he's holding back from me also ... for the exact same reasons.

I just feel so alone.  There's this black hole the grows bigger everyday.

I just want my Mama back.

I just realized how many times I've said, "I feel".  Darryl's words that he has said to me for years, "Your feelings will betray you, Robin", are ringing in my ears.

I know I'm not alone.  I know my fear of everyone who I love backing away from me is paranoia.  But even if they were turning and running for the hills to get away from me, I'm still not alone.

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~ Psalm 34:18
" ... for He Himself has said, “ I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” ~ Hebrews 13:5
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8
Those just happen to be the verses the Lord has laid on my heart to cling to through all of this.