Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Grief

It's Wednesday.  I'm in a terrible mood.  Sad, frustrated and even a little angry.  My mama went home to be with Jesus 23 weeks ago today.  Or as my friend Barbara would phrase it, it's been 23 weeks since her "homegoing".  As much as my heart is still shattered, something about her phrasing it as her "homegoing" always makes me smile.

I miss her.  More today than yesterday.  I miss talking to her everyday.  I picked up the phone and dialed her number Monday afternoon.  I called to give her the details of my appointment with Dr. Gaw.  It didn't even hit me what I had done until the answering machine picked up.

My level of frustration is at an all time high.  If one more person tells me how I am supposed to be grieving I'm going to scream.  It makes me so angry that some people can't understand everyone grieves differently.  It's not the same for any two people.  There isn't a right or wrong way.  Sure there are unhealthy ways of grieving.  But I'm not trying to cover up my pain with drugs and alcohol.  I'm not self mutilating.  As much as I'd like to be some days, I'm not staying in bed crawled up into a ball.

Yes, I cry a lot; some days to the point of wailing.  Tears fall easily and without warning.  I talk about her a lot.  I talk about the day she died and the days that followed a lot.  I talk about how much my heart hurts.  I go to the cemetery 5-7 times a week.  Some days I don't know how I can possibly get through the next moment.

But by the grace of God, I'm functioning.  I'm breathing.  I'm getting through the next moment.  I'm being productive.  Some days are better than others, and although I sometimes doubt I can put one foot in front of the other, I know the Lord is going to give me the grace and the ability to do it.  He has so far, and He's not going to leave me now.

I spend a lot of time just sitting at the foot of the cross.  I don't even know how to pray at times.  I don't even know what I need most days.  Mostly I pray for grace and strength.

I've even prayed, "Lord, would You just send someone by to drop off a Sonic coke?"

I kid you not.  And you know what, He's done it.  More than once.

I just don't understand what's so wrong with how I'm grieving.  I don't understand the judgement.  My brother finds it hard to go to the cemetery, so he doesn't go very often.  And that's perfectly okay.  The only way I know how to explain my need to go so often is I just want to make sure things are okay.  I want to make sure the mowers haven't knock the flowers out of her vase, or someone hasn't done something horrible to her headstone.  I know she's not there.  I know that beneath the ground buried in the casket is only the shell of her earthly body.  So why is it so wrong for me to go so often?

Grief is a process.  A process that doesn't look the same for everyone.  Sometimes it's brief, sometimes it's last for years.  I don't know how long I will grieve my mama's death.  Maybe for the rest of my life.  If so, that's okay ... as long as I cling to Jesus as I go through the process.

The Lord sent this to my email this morning.

Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
August 29, 2012

Dear Robin,

He Carried Our Sorrows

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows...

Isaiah 53:4

Nobody likes to be sad. No Christian welcomes grief. So aren't you glad that Jesus carried our sorrows when he went to the cross?! But sorrow did not cease with the death and resurrection of Christ. Think of the apostle Paul who confessed to "great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart" over the spiritual lostness of his race. He also described Christ's apostles as "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Jesus' death did not hinder him from saying, "Blessed are you who weep now." It did not hinder James from advising us to "grieve, mourn and wail" when we sin. Sorrow and tears, disappointment and grief are written into God's plan for you and me. To be sure, he lightens and brightens our days with glimpses of Paradise; he ladles out foretastes of bliss through a thousand blessings large and small. But they are all just that - glimpses and foretastes. We are not in heaven yet. We are destined to experience earth's sorrow.

But when tears and sorrow come, we look to Jesus - He bore to the cross the very tears you cry. He blamed no one when He felt the weight of grief and disappointment. He did not shrink from sorrow, nor sink under the burden of sadness. The load was heavy and the way was long, but He persevered. And He gives you power to do the same.

When we grieve and feel deep sorrow, we must look to Jesus who endured a greater grief and sorrow. There's a reason Jesus says "Blessed are those who mourn" - sorrow forces you and I to identify more deeply with the Savior when He carried His cross. If you are experiencing sorrow, if your tears seem to flow endlessly over a deep disappointment, remember the Savior. He persevered. That means you can, too.

When I grieve, thank you, Lord God, for supporting me with your presence and consolation. My tears help me to know you better. They drive me into your comforting arms. Thank you for that.


Joni and Friends
Taken from Pearls of Great Price.)

My grief has caused me to cling to Jesus more than I ever have in my life.  How can my process of grieving that causes me to run to the Throne of Grace be wrong?

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Saviour, My Healer, My Redeemer Is Never Late

I am not a patient person.  Never have been.  Not even close.  Just ask Nathan.  I'll ask him to do something, and if he hasn't done it in, oh say within 2 minutes, I huff and get up and try to do it myself.  I hate having to sit in a waiting room at a doctor's office, or having to sit in an exam room waiting for the doctor.  If I order something and I'm told it will be here in 5-7 days, I expect it to be here on day 5.

Waiting frustrates me, and it often makes me anxious.  My mind always goes to the worst case scenario.  If Nathan is late getting home, I begin to think he's been in a terrible accident.  If the doctor is late coming into the exam room, he's trying to figure out the best way to give me horrible news.  If my order didn't arrive on day 5, then the purse I just had to have is sold out.

To say I'm not a fan of waiting is an understatement.  Patience isn't something I have a vast supply of.

Waiting is just a gift of time in disguise — a time to pray wrapped up in a ribbon of patience — because is the Lord ever late? ~ Ann Voskamp

I read this quote one day last week, and I've been mulling it over in my heart all weekend.

I admit, waiting on the Lord can be the most frustrating wait of all.  He has the power to do anything in an instant, and I don't always understand why He chooses not to.  I've been waiting for 4 1/2 years for Him to heal me of CIDP.  I know He can do it.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  I know He will do it, but He sure is taking His time in doing so.  In the meantime, I suffer with pain.  I tire easily, and I'm weak.  I live with the uncertainty of not knowing if I'll be able to walk tomorrow.  I know He will heal me, but I don't know if it will be this side of Heaven.  I want it to be now, at this very moment, but it may not happen until He calls me home.

I've never looked at waiting as a gift, but after chewing on this quote the past few days I can see it.

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

A time to pray.  Praying is exactly what we should be doing while we wait.  Regardless of what we are waiting for.  Although I'm suffering while I wait, some days more than others, I have a relationship with the Lord I never would have otherwise.  I rely more and more on Him.  I'm suffering, but He gives me the exact amount of grace I need to get through each and every moment.  He gives me the grace to do the next thing.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. ~ Psalm 62:5
wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. ~ Psalm 130:5

Yes, waiting is a gift in disguise.  The longer I wait, the longer I sit at the foot of the cross.  The longer I wait, I realize more and more my only hope is in Jesus.  The more I see He is my Saviour, my Healer, my Redeemer.

Just a couple of hours before reading this quote, I had prayed ...

Lord, where are You?  Every day I pray for You to come get us and take us home.  Why are You so late coming?

He's never late.  Although His timing isn't my preference in timing, He always shows up right on time.

As I try to patiently wait upon the Lord to return, I pray I see my waiting as the gift it truly is.  The gift of time to learn to love Him more.  The greater my love is for Him, the greater I will worship Him.

My Saviour, my Healer, my Redeemer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's Really Not So Final After All

After my mom graduated from nursing school and was able to get a job making descent money, we got into the routine of going every Saturday morning to buy groceries and to Wal-mart to buy laundry detergent, etc.  She would treat us to something extra each week.  Something we wanted within a certain price range.  One week she had promised to buy me a particular pair of shoes I wanted.  All of my friends were wearing Eastland shoes, and I just had to have a pair.  But I purposely didn't tell her how much they cost.  I knew spending that much money on a pair of shoes was not something she would do.  Having to do without for so long taught my mom to be frugal, and there was always the fear of not having enough money for necessities that stayed with her until the day she died.  I knew once she realized the shoes I wanted were $55 she would tell me no, but I thought I would be able to play the "you promised me" card.

I was so wrong.  She insisted I get a knock-off brand that were navy blue.  Everyone knows Eastland shoes are brown, and I was going to be made fun of.  Sort of like the time I heard a bunch of girls standing around the lockers one day making a big deal out of white Keds.  You couldn't be their friend unless your shoes had the blue tag on the heel.  Mine didn't.  My shoes didn't come from the mall or some fancy shoe store.  Mine came from Wal-mart.

My mom and I got into a huge argument.  Raised voices and all.  It was pouring heavy rain, and my mom was already getting sick.  She had a cough, and I could tell she felt horrible.  But my selfishness outweighed any concern for her.  I wanted those shoes.  I told her she didn't care I was going to be made fun of.  Bottom line, I was being a huge 14 year old brat.

I wish I could take that day back.  I wish I had just said okay when she told me she needed to get home.  I wish I hadn't accused her of not caring and not understanding what it was like to feel embarrassed that I didn't have the things my friends had.  The truth is, she understood it better than I did.  When she was a kid, she had cardboard in the bottom of her shoes to cover the hole in the sole.  I always had nice shoes.  They might not have always been brand-name shoes, but I never had to wear shoes with holes in them.  In fact, after my mom was able to build up some savings, she did end up buying me name-brand clothes and shoes.  By that time Eastland shoes weren't so popular, but I did finally get those white shoes with the blue tag.

I think back to that day and wish I had acted differently.  I have a lot of those days.  I've heard people say they have no regrets in life.  I can't say that.  I have hundreds of them, and some mighty huge ones, I might add.  One regret that haunts me to this day is not telling my mom I love her before hanging up the phone for the last time.

Yesterday was 5 months and today is 22 weeks.  Every day I ask the Lord, "Does she know how much I truly love her?'"

I should have told her.  I should have told her despite all the senseless arguments and grudges I held against her at times, I've always loved her.  I should have told her how proud I was of her.  I should have told her I was grateful she was my mom.  I should have told her how much it meant to my heart the day she told me I was her best friend.  What a gift it was to hear those words come out of her mouth!

It's been 5 months ... 22 weeks ... since my last conversation with her, and I failed to tell her I love her.

I miss her so much.  I miss talking to her every day.

I was telling Mary yesterday that the grass on her grave has now almost completely covered it.  There are just a few bare spots.  It's hard to see.  It's makes her death seem final.  As long as it was just dirt, I felt like there was a chance this could all be a bad dream.

Mary reminded me it's not final.  Makes me long for Heaven all the more.

As I was strolling through Facebook early this morning, I discovered this video on my aunt Brenda's page.  It's simply beautiful.

There actually will come a day when I stop counting the weeks and months.  I pray Jesus comes back to take us home before I start counting the years.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's Finally Here

Friday my bi-pap machine was finally delivered.

I've had several people ask me how it's going.

Well, it's going.

It's going to take a lot of getting used to.  I've asked others who also have a machine how long it took them to get used to it.  I've been told anywhere from a couple of nights to about forty-five days.

The head gear is hard to adjust.  Just when I think I've got it adjusted correctly, my head hits the pillow and everything slides out of place.  It's so frustrating.  It's hard trying to find the balance between not having it too tight and not having it too loose.

Once it's on, there's no chatting with Nathan.  I can't open my mouth after the machine is turned on.  It's like holding your head outside the car window traveling 80 mph.

I asked Nathan if the noise bothers him.  Typically he can sleep through anything.  He laughed and said the noise didn't bother him, but he felt like a fan was blowing on him.  I require so much pressure the air coming out of the vents feels like a window fan set on high.  So when I lay on my side facing him I have to put a pillow on it's side to create a barrier.

My CIDP causes me to be in constant pain, and if I stay in one position too long the pain significantly increases.  I do a lot of shifting from one side to the other.  The machine allows me to go into such a deep sleep that I don't move at all.  So far I haven't been able to sleep more than two hours at any given time.  After a couple of hours I wake up out of a deep sleep crying I'm in so much pain.  An obstacle I didn't anticipate.  I am certain that if weren't waking up in pain, I'd sleep much longer.

I may only be sleeping for two hours at a time, but I can definitely tell I've slept well.  I am convinced I would sleep much longer if it weren't for the pain being so bad, but for now I sleep a couple of hours at a time.  I'll sit up for awhile and try to calm my pain down, and then go back to bed for a couple of more hours ... or until the alarm goes off.

So right now I'm in the adjustment phase.  I am still committed to be compliant with this.  Being told I stopped breathing 153 times in an hour, and my O2 sats dropped to 60 will compels me to be compliant.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Where Has The Time Gone?

As I sat at the table flipping through the folder I had been handed, my mind began to wander back in time.  Thirteen years ago Nathan and I were sitting at table flipping through a packet of papers handed to us.  However, that table was two foot off the ground and sitting in those chairs put your knees in your chest.  The table I was currently sitting at was adult sized, and there weren't divided containers sitting in the middle of the table holding crayons, scissors and glue sticks.  Her name wasn't written on a cute card taped across the top the table in front of the chair she sat in each day.  Instead of being given a sample of sight words they would need to learn during the year, we were given a list of websites to register our children for scholarships and told to have our children begin filling out college applications.

That year was her first year, this year is her last year.

Lord, how did we get here so quickly?  Where has the time gone?

Kindergarten was an emotional year for me.  She was so little, and the school seemed so big for her.  As I walked her to class on the first day of school, she looked at me and said, "You're not going to cry and embarrass me are you?"  I tried to hold back the tears, but after she walked into her classroom, hung up her backpack and sat down at her seat, I stood in the hallway beside the door and cried ... along with ten other moms.  In fact, I cried all the way to work.  She was full of excitement and confidence.  I was full of anxiety and fear.

(These were taken two weeks after she began kindergarten.)

The first day of her senior year was just as emotional for me.  Probably more so actually.  She looked at me and said with a giggle, "Are you going to cry all day?".  I did cry.  Not all day; just all morning.  Instead of walking her to class, she drove herself to school.  She bounced out of the house with more excitement and even more confidence than she had as a tiny four-year-old.  I wasn't full of anxiety and fear though.  I was excited for her.  I was full of gratitude.  The Lord had held her tightly the past thirteen years, and I was confident He wasn't going to loosen His grip now.

(These pictures were taken two weeks before her senior year began.)

Sara's plans have changed over the years.  In kindergarten when you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would say she wanted to be a teacher like her daddy.  Today her goal is to become a physical therapist.  There is always the possibility she will change her mind, although she seems set in her plans.  I am so grateful the plan the Lord has for her life will never change.  And His plan is the perfect plan for her.

Thank you, Lord, for always holding her tightly in the palm of Your hand.  Thank you for promising to never let her go.  Thank you for redeeming every mistake I have made as a parent.  Thank you for loving her, and for molding her heart into a heart like Yours.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


At what point will I only count the months, and stop counting the weeks?  I haven't even really stopped counting the days yet.  One hundred forty seven days to be exact.  Twenty-one weeks.  Tuesday will mark five months.  Five painfully, dark months.

Every day I miss my Mama more and more.  So often throughout the day something reminds me of her.  Sometimes I laugh, but even in the laughter often the tears easily flow.  The past several days have been super hard.  Every day is hard, but some days are seemingly unbearable.  The past several have been just that.

This past Friday afternoon we went to buy Hannah's Homecoming dress.  A dress my Mama wanted to buy this year.  We still tried to make it extra special for her.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-laws went with us.  But there was still a huge whole.  As Hannah tried on dresses, I kept thinking this should be happening with my Mama.  She should be here.  Instead of saying, "Hannah you look beautiful in that dress", she would say, "Hannah you make that dress look beautiful".  And then Hannah would giggle and say, "Mama Gaile, you're embarrassing me."

But she wasn't there.  She will never be here again.  It makes me want to crawl in the bed and not get up.

Our routine trip by the cemetery after church on Sunday was more than I could handle.  As we drove up I immediately spotted to men.  They had a vault loaded on a lift ready to set it over a freshly dug hole in the ground.  As I walked past it, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.  Once I got to my Mama's grave and read her name on the headstone, I broke out in a cold sweat and started hyperventilating.  I couldn't get gone fast enough.

Selfishly I want her here.  Six hours from now I want my phone to ring for my daily phone call.  I have so much I want to tell her.  I feel like there was so much left unsaid.

Twenty-one weeks feels like forever when your heart is bleeding.  By the grace of God I'm still breathing.  I haven't crawled in the bed to never get up again.  I'm still putting one foot in front of the other.

Only by the grace of God is it possible.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, August 9, 2012


It's been a hard week.  A week I can't wait to get through.  As much as we need the rain, and I am so grateful to have it, it's making it worse.  Rain makes me hurt ... a lot.  My peripheral nerves feel as if they are on fire and being shocked with electricity.  Not mention how the dreariness doesn't help a hurting heart.

Twenty weeks.  Twenty weeks is the halfway point of a pregnancy ... a new life is twenty weeks away from making it's appearance to the world.  I remember the excitement I felt when I reached the twenty week mark when I was pregnant with each of my girls.  Twenty weeks doesn't have any excitement attached to it today.  It's now been twenty weeks (and one day) since my Mama died.

I don't know why, but twenty weeks seems to have a huge significance to it.  I said this to Connie and her response was, "It is all significant precious friend.  To Jesus and to us who love you so much."  No doubt that text will be locked into my phone.  I'll need to read it over and over again.  

I have a friend who every Wednesday tells me she's praying for me.  Sometimes her words come in an email, and sometimes I get a sweet handwritten card in the mail.  Not only does she recognize how hard Wednesdays are for me, she also remembers how many weeks it's been.  Her kindness and love brings tears to my eyes.  In her email yesterday she referred to my Mama's death as her "homegoing".  She has always referred to it this way, but yesterday it stood out to me like she had written it in pink neon lights.  "This is a Wednesday (20 weeks ago today your Mother's homegoing) so it no doubt is another sad day.  Praying for you on Wednesdays."   Such simple words, but comforting words for my heart nonetheless.  She is such a precious friend.  One I will forever treasure.

"Homegoing."  Mama has gone home to be with Jesus.  She has gone home to worship our Saviour.  There is no doubt in my mind she's singing.  She's not hurting.  She's not wringing her hands in worry.  She's not crying from a broken heart.  Thinking of it as her "homegoing" doesn't have any sadness attached to it.  It signifies she not dead.  Her earthly body is, but she is with our Heavenly Father.  The One who loves her more than anyone else even has the capacity to love her.

So, then why, Lord, I am still so sad?  How come my heart is still bleeding, and the tears still cling to the edge of my eyes ready to fall at any given moment?  Why does it still hurt so much it's hard to breathe?  Why, Lord?  Why won't you heal my broken heart?  Why can I not rejoice in the surety I have in knowing she is with You, instead of grieving her not being with me?  Why can I not see it as her "Homegoing", instead of seeing it as her death?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Make Sure You Brush Your Teeth

For the past several days the song "Thy Mercy, My God" has been playing in my head on repeat.  I can hear my friend Connie singing and humming this song as she moves about her day, and between the words of the song and her beautiful voice, it brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

Mercy, unmerited grace.

As I've read hundreds of Facebook post, blogs, and seen what the media has to say over the past few days, I've noticed there's not been a lot of mercy being given.

I told a friend a blog post has been brewing in my head the past couple of days over the Chick-fil-A hoopla.  Yesterday afternoon I wrote it.  I was taking some time to pray about it and go back and read it again before hitting "publish".  During that time I read blog post my friend Allison had posted a link to on Facebook.  I almost didn't read it.  I'm just so tired of hearing the bashing and hatred, but I know Allison's heart isn't to bash or hate.  I'm so glad I clicked the link and took the time to read this post.  He says it better than I ever could have.

"The Morning After Chick-fil-A" by Michael Patz.

I pray the obsession I have with brushing my teeth so much and so hard it has caused me to have a gum graft not only cleans the germs off of my teeth, but also cleans the germs out of my words.

Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song, The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue ...