Friday, February 25, 2011

My thorn...

I am a perfectionist.  There, I said it.  I'm coming clean.  I try so hard to live life as "Little Miss Perfect."

Sure, it's come in handy over the years.  My straight A's landed me a full college scholarship.  I've won my fair share of honors and awards over the years.  I've held previous jobs and responsibilities that are hard to obtain by someone at my age.  It is in my DNA to attempt to do everything with excellence, and I do believe that can be a trait that brings glory to the Lord.

But it has also come with its fair share of issues and set-backs, mainly in the physical realm.  I've brought onto myself several random and annoying illnesses over the years (thankfully nothing life threatening)...I can hear the chuckle of my best friend Casey as she has witnessed most of these first hand in the 23+ years of our friendship.

I stress myself out.  I do.  But at least I can be honest and own up to it, right?

And so, it seems, that even in this darkest season, when I could really get away with slacking off, with letting things slide, with shrinking from responsibilies under the guise of a grieving widow, "Little Miss Perfect" just ramps up even more.  I am attempting to become cape, yellow boots, and all.  I even have a t-shirt saved from a Halloween costume a few years back.

But Superwoman meets grief, and exhaustion, and a constant emotional roller-coaster, also know as my life, and I am slapped in the face with reality.  I have come to realize I can't be who I was before Tony's accident, when I tried my best to balance every arena of life as a perfectly spinning plate on the tiniest point.  I can't always bring my "A-game" to my family, to work, to my friends, though I desperately want to.  There are times I can't even remember what I had for dinner, if or when I paid my bills; I've learned I must write everything down or it is as good as gone from my brain.

It seems I've got my very own thorn in my side.

Paul writes of his thorn in 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10:
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I am so grateful Paul gave us these verses.  They give me great relief; they inspire me to embrace my thorn, to embrace my weaknesses.  Lately, I've found myself exclaiming boldly in my most Southern grammer, "God, I've got nothin'...You've got to show up, cause I've got nothin'...nothin' to give, nothin' to say, nothin' to inspire, nothin' to even make it through the day."

And the miracle is...He shows up every time.  He shows up in my nothin'.  He trumps my thorn; He trumps my weaknesses.

And "Little Miss Perfect" can boast about it.  And she can rest in the knowledge that God is strong, she is not.

Dearly loved, not Superwoman,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On the heels of dawn...

Well, I did it.  I did.  I put on my "big girl pants" and I moved out of my parents home and into my own place.

As always with me, the anticipation of the event was way more traumatic than the actual day.  I must say, I held up quite well, thanks to my rock-star "mover" mom and lots of family and friends praying and cheering me on.

Quite honestly, the most dreaded step was spending that first night surrounded once again with things that belonged to both Tony and me.  I fell down on my knees by our bed, which I had not even slept in since Tony died.  I cried out to God to give me the strength to even crawl in.  Tears began to flow as I realized that there was just one pillow instead of two.  How would this bed ever feel anything but empty from now on?  Still, I pressed on and into the Lord; I laid my Bible down in place of Tony's pillow. 

Finally, I fell asleep.

I awoke way too early the next morning.  All was dark and quiet in my new place, except for the faint chirping of birds outside my window.  It was the first sign of dawn.

Laying there and attempting to go back to sleep, I had a flashback to March 25 of last year, the morning after the day I learned of Tony's death.  I didn't sleep much that night either; I was awakened by that same chirping before the first rays of daylight.  That day I never thought the sun would rise again; it seemed so unfair for birds to be singing when the love of my life was not there to hear them. That was the first day of my journey into the sunset, my journey into months of darkness and sorrow, my journey into the battle of my life.

And now, almost 11 months later, I'm finding my way to the other side; my time in the darkest of night is giving way to faint rays of light.  Those sounds of birds in the darkness are my reminder that though I'm still grieving, I'm gettting closer to the sunrise.

I'm on the heels of dawn. 

These verses  from Psalm 57: 7-11 express the desire of my heart for this season...
"My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies."

Dearly loved, awakening dawn,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The unseen...

The words in my favorite worship song "Tear Down the Walls" by Hillsong United cut me right to the core..."I don't need to see it to believe it."

They inspire me.  They remind me that I don't need to see Christ to believe in Christ.  I don't need to see God to know that He's at work in and around me.  I don't need to see Tony in heaven to know that he is in whole, unbroken, and complete in heaven.  I don't need to see my what is in my future to believe that the One who holds my future has it all in His capable hands.

I just don't need to see it to believe it.

I live that out by clinging to verses of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

I just want to live for the unseen.

Dearly loved,

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's just part of my story...

I hate to admit it, but I've grown quite tired of hearing "I'm sorry."  I'm just all maxed out on sympathy.  I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the support I've received over and above anything I could ever imagine.

It's just that I'm beginning to grow accustomed to having this tragedy as part of my life.  I've found myself responding to "I'm sorry" these last few months with, "thank you, but it's all just part of my story."

I mean, what else do I say?  Sure, I could be all dramatic and burst into tears...or better yet, start into an endless monologue about how hard my life is.  But, crying and making people feel sorry for me are just two things I prefer not to do on a regular basis.

My last blog was almost one I didn't post because I didn't want folks to start getting all worried about me.  I posted it anyway because I also don't want folks to think that my journey is all rose-colored either.  I'm still in the throws of the battle of my life; sympathy is just not what fuels me.  Jesus, His Word, and encouragement from friends and family rank top on my list for spurring me on.

And my story, with all its joy, sorrow, and one day, triumph, is scripted perfectly, Divinely, all for God's glory.  It's main character is Jesus; He is IT for me.

I leave you with a few verses from a favorite hymn, "Blessed Assurance"...

"Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

"This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long."

Dearly loved,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Left behind...

Some days I feel so left behind.

I feel left behind on this earth, while the one I loved most has reached that ultimate destination, heaven.

I know Tony did not intentionally leave me; he would have never chosen to have me endure such pain and hardship.  Still, there are times I am jealous of where he is, jealous that he no longer has to deal with earthly troubles.

Today was one of those days.  I realized it as I was sitting in a sea of red brake lights on my 1 hour plus drive home.  There's certain things I know for sure I won't miss in heaven, and traffic is one of them.  While I'm at it, I'll add rainy, gloomy days too.  And today, I'll add the old house we own in Atlanta.

I had to put on that dreaded "landlord" hat and deal with yet another plumbing issue.  I tell God regularly that I never asked to be a landlord.

I never asked to be a widow either.

I'm grateful to have so much great support to help me navigate this world without Tony, yet I still find myself getting stressed and fatigued by all that must be done.  It's that "business" side of death that tends to upset me the most.  It is that side that no one ever talks about, the side that is never taught in school, the side you hope you never have to deal with until you'd refer to yourself as elderly.

I must brag on my husband and say that he was very much a man of order.  He took care of everything he could "just in case" so that I would not have to worry.  I never wanted to talk about final wishes or wills or life insurance, but he prepared it all anyway when we were first married.  I didn't know it at the time but it would be one of his most significant acts of love to me.  It has certainly eased my burden from near impossible to at least bearable.

I never asked to be the executor of my husband's estate at 30 years old.  Still, I take this responsiblity very seriously because my Tony entrusted me to take care of it.  I'd do anything for this man, anything.

And so, I carry on, asking God for the strength to not be bitter toward the government, the countless customer service reps, the random strangers that I must deal with to settle Tony's affairs.  Some days I am better at this than others; some days I just have to ask the good Lord for forgiveness.

And on "left behind" days like today, I put on repeat on my ipod the song "Come for Me" by Charlie Hall.  And I press into the Lord, boldly asking him to fulfull my heart's desire...

That on the greatest, happiest days I could ever experience on earth, I would still long to be with Him even more.  And that on the absolute worst days where I just long for heaven, I would wait patiently for Him, holding out hope for those who have yet to know Jesus.

Dearly loved, on this earth,