Pebbles or Jewels?

This is a story I wrote in college, I was 21 years old. Back then I wrote it as my process of dealing with being single. I never dated all through high school or college and I was feeling pretty down on myself. Flash forward about 8 years and I was astonished at how this story helped encourage me in my grieving process of losing my husband. I won’t say too much. But I will say that I love how the Father (God) is never in a rush or hurries us. He is so gentle and patient with us. That is what is captured in this story I wrote:

Which Will You Choose: Pebbles or Jewels?

The little girl clenches tightly to the ordinary grey pebbles in her hand. Her father puts his tender, loving hands on her tiny shoulder. He holds out a handful of sparkling, glittering, rainbow-like jewels. Each jewel is glowing so brightly the little girl must use both hands to shield her eyes.
“Let it go,” her father tells her.
“I can’t.”
“I want to give you something better.”
Hurt and wounded tears well up in the girl’s eyes. With her fist still clenching her ordinary grey pebbles, she melts to the ground. “Daddy, I want to trust you. But how can I be sure what you have to offer will last or satisfy? I thought the pebbles I found for myself were jewels but it turned out they weren’t. The more I looked at them the less beautiful they became.” Soft, tender tears begin to fall from her father’s eyes. Ever so gently does he kneel down and lift her head up to his tearful face. As her head is lifted up she begins to weep, uncontrollably.

He quickly embraces his vulnerable precious girl. Both father and daughter weep together as he carefully and slowly rocks her back and forth in his arms. Not long after he begins to quiet her with his love and sing adoringly over her and her broken heart. “Hush, my little one,” her father says as he kisses her tiny little head. “I know and feel your pain more than you know. I am here. Hush. Shh. Trust me. Let me help you heal from your pain,” he whispers in her ear.

The little girl’s crumpled hand slowly unfolds as one small pebble falls from her hand. Her father lifts her to her feet and they begin to walk. And as they walk hand in hand she soon notices in her other hand a bright, glowing jewel in the middle of her ordinary pebbles. How it outshines anything she’s ever beheld! “Don’t worry about the other pebbles,” whispers her father, “they will be replaced later. For now, trust and walk with me.”
-Aimee Gonzaga (Price)

Ben’s First Birthday In Heaven

This is from my journal entry I posted on Facebook from awhile ago. I thought I would share it here as well:

I have loved reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and have started journaling and writing like that in my Grief Journal. This is my Grief Journal at 2am on March 14, 2015. I learned that sometimes my best ideas or thoughts come after 2am (Nicole Sanchez, Shannon Hardy, Miki Gao). This is what God spoke to me:

Today just be still and rest in the fact that I am with you as you continue to grieve. My arms are wrapped tightly around you. When you are sad, angry, confused, or upset, let me be with you in that moment. Of course my ultimate goal is to bring you out of it but most importantly, I want to help you through and be right in the middle of all that you feel so that we can share the load together. Many people have this picture of when trouble hits that is when they call on me to “rescue them out” or to come and get them. What they don’t usually see is that I am always right there in the sticky mire or deep pit with them. So, let that sink into your whole being and into your spirit. When trouble hits instead ask where I am and how I am already working on your behalf. This journey you and I are on is a partnership. When you fall I am there, when you tired I want to give you rest, when you feel lonely I am right there, ect. Just because I am right there every step of the way does not shield you from all the pain, hurt, sadness you will feel. In fact, you need to feel those things in order to truly find healing. But remember that we can do it together if you let me.

Verses that God gave me:
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God..”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Everyone Deserves A Pom Pom

I wrote this from Zeke’s future 5-year-old perspective. I gleaned off of what my dad already does with Zeke. I hope to publish this one day. I want to write books like this for kids and their families. It’s not on it’s final final draft but thought I would share what I have so far. Also, take note of how the grandpa loves his grandson. I also wrote this to demonstrate how God loves us. The Father I learned about growing up is so different from the one I’m learning about during this cancer journey. God the Father loves us like Pom Pom does and so much more. Enjoy!
I love my grandpa! I call him Pom Pom for short. When I was really really little, a long time ago, like 2 years old, I called him that because I didn’t know how to say Grandpa.
My grandpa and I do all sorts of things together. He likes to put me on his shoulders and make me as tall as the sky. He reads funny books to me and he is so silly when he reads.
You know how most grandmas like to garden? Well my Pom Pom likes to garden. He lets me pick the ripe tomatoes off the tree. Ripe means it’s ready to come off. Pom Pom taught me that.
Pom Pom also let’s me follow him with my own lawn mower as he cuts the grass. I want to be just like him when I grow up.

My dad mowing the lawn and my son wanting to copy him.
My dad mowing the lawn and my son wanting to copy him.

This week in class we are learning about families. My teacher asked the whole class to bring in pictures of their families to put on the bulletin board. I noticed I was the only kid who didn’t have a dad. My mommy told me that my dad got really sick when I was only one years old. He had cancer, the really bad kind that no one can fix. Mommy said he wanted to be with us but he was too sick to come back. Mommy says he lives in the sky with Jesus. She also says Jesus takes good care of dad and that Jesus loves us too.
I don’t remember my dad very much because he went to be with Jesus when I was 2. That was a long long long time ago. I’m five years old now.
My mommy shows me pictures of him and I can tell he loved me. He always had a big smile on his face when he held me when I was little. I can tell my mommy and daddy really loved each other too. Sometimes my mom reads cards that him and my mom wrote to each other. They always say nice things like, “I love you” or my dad would say my mom was beautiful.
I wish I could have known my daddy more. Everyone tells me how funny he was, or how kind he was, or how much he loved me. It makes mommy sad to talk about about him sometimes. If you get up really close you can see tears inside her eyes but they don’t come out. She is happy to tell me about him. She says I may not have a dad but I have Pom Pom who does stuff with me like my dad would have done if he were alive. My mom says my dad wanted to teach me how to play baseball.
Pom Pom takes me to the park and teaches me how to play baseball. He doesn’t mind that I can’t catch the ball or throw it very far. He says he is just happy to be with me and gives big hugs if I mess up.
I told my friend Jason about all the fun things my Pom Pom and I do together and my friend Jason said he wished he had a dad or a grandpa that did those kinds of things with him. Jason says his dad is always gone on business trips far away. And when he is home he talks on the phone and tells Jason not to bother him because he’s busy. I think that would make me sad to have a dad that doesn’t pay attention to me.
I told him maybe Pom Pom could take us both to the park to play baseball or do something fun. Jason was really excited when I said that and wants to ask his mom if that’s ok.

Some day I want to be a dad and I want to teach my son what a ripe tomato is, or how to mow the lawn, or how it’s ok to mess up when you play baseball. And I want to tell him what my Pom Pom always tells me. He tells me that, I don’t have to do anything to make him love me. Even if I disobey him or do something really really bad like tell a lie, he might be sad, but that won’t make him love me any less.

It makes me sad to think of kids like Jason who don’t have dad’s or grandpa’s who love them like Pom Pom loves me. I just hope they have someone who loves them no matter what, because everyone deserves to be loved like that.

Reflections On What Would Have Been Our 4th Anniversary

The night before what would have been our 4th anniversary, May 12, 2015, I couldn’t sleep very well. I feel like I was a little anxious with how I would handle what would have been our 4th anniversary the next day. My late husbands birthday, March 13, I felt fine the day before but cried almost the whole morning. But that is a different blog entry altogether.

This was such a happy moment at our wedding: May 13, 2011
This was such a happy moment at our wedding: May 13, 2011
I woke up May 13, to my surprise, actually at peace. Not that I wasn’t sad, because I was, but I think I was actually relieved. It is hard to explain. When my late husband was alive with cancer he was in so much pain. He put on a good face when we were out in public, or at church, or with his family. At home I saw the true Ben. I saw him toss and turn and not sleep a wink at night and then leave by 6:30am to go to work. I cleaned up his throw up when chemo made him sick. I saw the the pain in his eyes when he would pry himself out of bed. He would tell me he felt like a useless husband because he couldn’t hold or pick up our son out of his crib in the middle of the night. My whole life revolved around keeping him alive. He would try to to juice every other day with the Green Star elite but the last leg of his cancer he couldn’t do it because he didn’t have the strength. I did it. I also made smoothies and had to start grinding up his pills into the smoothies when he kept forgetting to to take his pills from the alternative medicine doctor. That is just a nutshell of all the stress and all the work it took to keep him alive.

What many people do not realize is that yes his death was too soon and was heart wrenching but the whole entire cancer journey I was preparing for the worst and processing it with a counselor/ mentor. She helped me process all the unfairness I felt, all the anger, all the “why am I going through this at such a young age?” questions I had. We even discussed what would happen if Ben did die. We had to discuss that because the doctors didn’t think he would live long.

The morning of what would have been our 4th anniversary, like I said before, I felt relieved for so many reasons. I felt relieved I didn’t have to see him in so much pain. I felt relieved I didn’t have so much stress and so much work on my shoulders. I felt relieved he is in heaven cancer free. I felt relieved I could start anew and decide what would be life giving to me this year with my son.

Isaiah 61:3 “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

The ashes of my life I had with my late husband are a painful thing to grieve and lament. I do not like the saying that “everything happens for a reason” because I don’t think things always have to have a reason. God never said that, people say that, people made that saying up. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God is working to make things “work together for the good.” It doesn’t say “God makes things happen for a reason and works it out for the good.” We don’t understand everything and somehow it can be redeemed and worked out for good. We may never understand why things happen but we can be sure God can give us beauty for our ashes and that he is in the business of working things out for the good in our lives.

Reflections On My First Mother’s Day Without My Husband

I don’t know if it’s just this year that seems to have a lot of tension about Mother’s Day or maybe there always has been I just didn’t notice it until this year. I am feeling very uncomfortable with the extremes of hating Mother’s Day and the people who love it.

This year I definitely feel a twinge of pain as I watch all my friends husbands doing sweet things like: family portraits, giving their wives a chance to go out and get their hair or nails done while they watch the kids, and the list goes on. As sick as my husband was, with his chemo brain and all, last year he still managed to cook breakfast with our son for me on Mother’s Day.

Something I have been learning with my counselor/mentor is instead of solving problems with how I think God would respond to go straight to the source and just ask. I asked him what He thought of Mother’s Day. This is what I heard the Lord was speaking to me to write:

While society does focus on actual “mothers” on Mother’s Day there are many people who mother and nurture others around them that are not actual mother’s or who are mother’s but mother children who are not their own. There is that saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” without all the support of others around a mother, whether that is a husband, doctor, sister, aunt, friends, family, ect, all these people shape and nurture our children.

God also spoke to my heart about how He is a like a MOTHER. Matthew 23:37 says, “…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” I hope that wherever people are at whether it be that  they themselves are mothers, if they are not able to be a mother, if they lost a mother, if they lost a child and were going to be a mother, if they are grieving being a mother but a widow like me. Remember how much the God of the Universe longs to be a mother to them. Mothers are known to be sacrificial, to die defending or protecting their children to death like Harry Potter’s mother. And how did Jesus decide to show His love for us? By doing just that. Not by raising a strong army and rising up against the government with full swords and trumpets blazing which we would expect the Savior would do. He chose to lay his life down for us like a mother (or father) would. He chose to give his life so that we may have life.

God is standing with you wherever you are and however you are feeling this Mother’s Day. God wants to join you in that, and most of all, He longs to hold and to love on you today and be a like a mother to you.

Another closing verse that I feel is like God being like a mother and father  is Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

My Journal from April 30, 2015

Recently I feel I have been running into intense feelings I haven’t felt earlier. I have been feeling really angry and really sad and can’t stop crying at times. As I’ve been learning with my counselor/mentor to allow myself to feel those things. The only way to get through this is letting myself feel all I need to feel and to allow God to be “Emmanuel” to me. I have felt so much freedom to pour everything out and invite God to speak and to comfort me at the same time. God cares about helping us heal but he also cares about being with us in the midst of everything. Healing doesn’t always come from taking away something but sometimes it is found in just letting God comfort you in your pain.

Hello world!

I recently lost my husband to stage 4 colon cancer on August 13, 2014 at 29 years old. I wanted to start this blog to encourage and to share with others a little bit of our story and what I have learned and continue to learn. Being a widow and caring for my almost 3 year old son is quite a challenge at times. I am blessed to have a great community, church, counselor/mentor,  and freedom to be brutally honest with all my ups and downs with all that I feel with Jesus. Walking this with Jesus has become less of a chore or duty but more of a relationship and walking this together.

This picture was taken a few weeks before my husband died: August 2014
This picture was taken a few weeks before my husband died: August 2014