August 9, 2015: Reflections and Next Steps After Letting God Comfort You

I am coming up really close to the one year mark of Ben being dead for a year. I wish I could have journaled more because I feel I have learned and grieved so much. Also, a lot has happened since my last entry in July. So, I thought I would just type bullet point paragraphs of what I have learned and experienced this first year:

  1.  I am not sure what the second year of grieving will hold but I do know that this first year of grieving has included many raw emotions. There have been many weddings, bridal showers, and parties I have wanted to go to, and I was able to go to some,  but most the time my emotional grief has been too much at times. Not, that I am trying to ignore or run from seeing people but my heart can only handle so much at times. Going back into social circles is very painful. It is painful to see all my friends with their healthy husbands, or friends that I had planned to have my second kid around the same time with, or seeing my friends being loved on by their husbands or significant others. I am happy for them but my heart grieves and misses being loved and being with my best friend.
  2. One of the first parts of my grieving was to just let whatever I was feeling OUT! Whether that was sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, ect. But the most important part to that process was letting God be WITH me (Emmanuel) in that process. Like I mentioned in my previous post, it doesn’t exactly “fix” the hurt or replace the person we are grieving, it is letting our needs be met and cared for. The reason I needed to let God into my grief is because number one, my emotions matter and being cared for and comforted is something God wants and longs to do. Number two, when I grieve with Jesus I give him an open door to speaking to me and to see the situation more clearly. He is able to see the whole picture, I can only see part of it.
  3. The second big half of my healing is learning how to praise him after I have worked through my emotions.  I think so many times I have read and seen first hand that when people’s loved ones die they try to bypass all the pain or sadness and go straight to praising God or seeing the positive. While it is good to praise God or see the positive it is ESSENTIAL to give ourselves the freedom to feel the negative FIRST. I think David, from the Bible, was a man after God’s own heart not because he had everything together or was happy all the time, he was a man after God’s own heart because he was not afraid to be HONEST and REAL with God with how he was feeling. In Psalms 13, 22, 35, 42 and many other Psalms, David is BRUTALLY  honest with God. He does not try to hide his anger, depression, or mixed emotions instead he pours EVERYTHING out to Him and works it out with God. David’s outcome of working through his emotions is PRAISE. We cannot go and should not go straight to praise and bypass our negative emotions or stuff them because if we do that our praise is not sincere and seems forced. Why would God give us “negative” emotions if we cannot express them? I think God wants us to be thankful people but as I Peter 5:7 says he ALSO wants us to “Cast our burdens” onto Him “because he CARES for you.”
  4. Once we begin to praise God we can then see where he working. A beautiful thing about death is what can come out of it if we let God into our healing. God can take the ugly and broken and mourning, and turn it into something beautiful and whole and joyful. I feel like God has taken so much away. He has taken away my husband, the father to my child, my best friend, and all my hopes and dreams I had with him. But very slowly I have bravely asked, “Ok, Lord I have grieved and I have poured my heart out to you and I have let you comfort and speak to me in my sorrow. Now, where are you? Where are you working? What are you speaking to me now?”He has responded. He has given me new dreams.

When my husband was alive I enjoyed doing art projects and anything artsy with him for the church and for people around us. We dreamed of one day doing it as a couple for a job and a ministry. Once he died I was sad I didn’t have anyone to dream or share that with anymore. But this year God has, in a way, taken me back to before I was even married and I had dreams of using drama for a ministry. Long story short I went to an Urbana missions conference when I was a high school senior back in 2003 where I was inspired to use drama for a ministry and to one day even be on the Urbana drama team as well. I started off as a Theatre ministry major at Hope International University but ended up graduating with a bachelors in Liberal Arts and concentration in Children’s Ministry instead. From there took online classes at community colleges to become a preschool teacher and have enjoyed teaching but my first love was always drama. Once Ben died I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Urbana 2015 performing arts team. It has been like going back in time to where I was about 10 years ago and faced with the same choice of either going after finding a career/ job in drama or choosing something that is more stable. This season, because I have the freedom to do either I am wanting to go after drama this time. It’s like getting a second chance and I feel I don’t want to let that chance pass me up again. Not that I regret teaching because I think God can use everything we experience to build on the future or the different seasons in our lives, but  I am sure of the tugging in my heart to pursue my first love again. I don’t know what God will do with my drama passion being re-ignited but I have already talked and gotten counsel from many people and have gotten many ideas that I believe are directing me to something. And I also hope to one day find someone ( a husband) to share in my dream of arts ministry too. But that is another dream that will have to wait for now I guess. Right now, I am so excited for this new chapter of my life of God exchanging “beauty for ashes.”

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.