“God Please Give Me Something…”

Early on in our relationship, Bill would present me with fancy jewelry for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary.  Usually his taste was a tad “blingy” and I would either return it for something less flashy, or it would make its way to a nice drawer for storage after an acceptable time of wear.

Over time he caught on and figured out my style, or lack thereof.

I prayed this morning a plea from my aching heart:

“God give me something from him…a word…something…please.”

This day has been unexpectedly difficult. I guess I thought since it wasn’t his birthday, I was going to be just fine, and have been emotionally unprepared for the sadness that has risen to the surface to destroy any celebration.

How naive I am.

I know the upcoming anniversary in December is already met with sadness even though it is month’s off on the calendar.  In prep I have a plan in place to battle the anticipated sadness.

But today, God, knowing I was going to struggle when I was clueless, met me on my path.

 

I spot the gold object near my feet as I jogged along the shoulder of the road, trying to keep clear of oncoming morning traffic. At first glance I think it is a gold ribbon.

But taking a play from Moses and the burning bush, I turn and walk back for a closer look.

It was a gold chain.

I pick it up and investigate it for damage, wondering if someone accidentally lost this prized possession.  It is bent up in multiple places.

I unzip my handheld storage/water bottle to place it in there…

When I notice an inscription circling the entire necklace:

I LOVE YOU    I LOVE YOU    I LOVE YOU   I LOVE YOU   I LOVE YOU

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I look at the gaudy, gold object and smile. This would be something Bill would have eyed at a jewelry store, I am sure of it.

The message was exactly what I needed, convinced it was from Bill himself.

Thank you Lord.

 

 

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Dreaming to Stay Alive

(Day Four) Entry: May 13, 2017

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Oscar, AKA Bubba

“Bubba, we are going to dream today.” He looks aimlessly around, searching for the man who would sit in the kitchen chair every morning and give him a “love down”, that special rub-down from daddy to doggie.

Now he looks at me and sighs.

He will guide my dreams, and me. This morning while still in bed, I pondered the bigger decisions in life, like where to live and what to do with the rest of my life.

The first message arrives in my inbox–about how I am exactly where God wants me to be.

Yes, I am.

The second one is a post on grief, and dreaming–to continue to dream today.

Grief tries to kill my dream (writing a book) by saying it’s too soon to dream.

If I don’t dream, I’LL JUST DIE.

My passage today is the first couple chapters in Matthew.  It is all on dreams.

Multiple times, through dreams, both Joseph and Magi were directed and guided…

One step at a time
One day at a time

Moment by moment their dreams kept them alive, for if not for the dream, they would have died.

Literally.

A Tangible Kiss from God

(Day Three) Entry: May 12, 2017

He is finally home. Yes, he is on the other side of eternity, but he is also here. Next to us. Actually, his remains will reside most often on his side of the bed. Since we’ve been together, he has wanted that side no matter the bedroom layout. So I give him his way. It is oddly comforting and slightly uncomfortable all the same.

I love you. I so love you.

I’ve accomplished more toady than I thought possible only days ago. Filing insurance claims for a vehicle and a person, phone calls, details. So overwhelmed at the onset of this week shifts slightly into a sense of accomplishment today.

Even the septic

The aerobic septic has caused me fear and worry before his death. Its alarms that have gone off in the dark of night when Bill would fix it. He’s not here to fix it anymore. Who will take care of me? Who will protect me?

I see in today’s passage the cause of the widow was not being addressed as people tended to their own concerns and left them helpless:

They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.

God, You will defend my cause, You come near to the broken and weak.  This I know.

The other day I had to call many places to change the accounts from Bill, to me. Each were offered with condolences.

But one was like a tangible kiss from God.

I call the septic company (Lonestar Aerobic Services) and the lady on the other line walked me through the contract, which arrived in the mail days earlier. She tells me she will have an employee come out and walk me through each step so I am acquainted with the filthy contraption. Then, she does the unimaginable. She tells me to send the signed contract back to her and throw away the invoice.

What??? She says they will take care of me for the next year. It is their call to take care of the widows!

This little sentence accompanies the invoice:

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I worry about the lack of communication from insurance companies, the lack of health insurance, the lack of understanding on issues foreign to me.

My lack.

You are my husband, my father. You know my lack and fear and are taking care of me. Always. Even though Bill is with you and not here, You are here.

You are near.

Here I am Lord. Help me. Let me be a help to my girls. I love you. When my chest heaves in grief, hold me close. Wipe away my snot. Let me collapse in your loving arms.

God, You are good all the time!

 

Spectacle of Glory

 

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(Day 104)
Entry: August 21, 2017

Today your majesty will be displayed in a rare solar eclipse for many to witness and marvel at its wonder. For me, only a partial glimpse, and since I don’t have the necessary opticals to see such display without sorting my vision, I guess a quick glance will do.

Why do I need the miraculous to marvel? What I want even more than billboards of glory in the sky is Your intimacy by my side, and for my girls to witness and look upon You with desire and delight, in a personal way.

Last night I crumbled, really had no filter to manage the pouring of tears, they just came, choking, breaking through barriers like a ravaging tsunami hitting a serine shoreline. I couldn’t stop them even when I heard the key enter the opening of the front door. I turned out the light quickly so her eyes wouldn’t witness the devastation of my despair.

I try to block them from my pain as often as possible. They too are struggling. I quickly lay down and act as if I am actually watching the episode of light coming from the wall-mounted display of HGTV wonder.

She recognizes something off, even though the TV is on nightly at this time to lull me to sleep. She stands at the door and asks of my welfare. I assure her I am ok.

Moments later, when I feel I’m safe, the pent-up remaining tears make their way past my temporary ban. When she stealthily enters, and places her hand on my back. And gently rubs in a circular motion of comfort. She asks if she can do something for me. I say, “no.” Her concern was enough.

Her brief touch causes my restless heart some needed rest. Soon, I fall asleep from emotional exhaustion.

Her hand on my back was like the tangible comfort of God in that moment. Not a wondrous display of old, like when the magicians said to Pharaoh after a particular plague of gnats: “This is the finger of God.” Or like the brushstrokes of beauty displayed across the horizon this very day.

Her touch. So small. So miraculous in my brokenness.

The display of love.

Her love for me.
HIS love for me.

I read this from a Sarah Bessey post (from her August field notes), “I want to sanitize my own story here, jolly it up, make it more amusing and less sad, to reduce the complexity of it so it’s palatable and actionable for everyone else.”

Maybe that is the underlying reason why I left this blog site, out of an odd fear to display all the bruises and brokenness rising up from the depths of darkness. Fear if you really saw the struggle, you would try to filter it with kind gestures to woo me back to acceptable behavior. I don’t know.

Today is Day 104 of meeting with God at the kitchen table, just the two of us. It has been quite a journey. I read some of the early writings and wince at the pain of my aching heart.

But love is painful sometimes, isn’t it?

And when love is removed without permission, the gaping absence feels unbearable.

Love never ends, even at one’s ending here on Earth.

Yet, if I look closely, I see His glory on display, if I look through the eyes of my heart. Sometimes God’s intimacy is displayed in small snapshots in the day by day and not always in a spectacular backdrop.

A year ago He displayed His Wonder in such a spectacular way, I wrote about it, ‘May I never Lose my Wonder’, I was awestruck. Yet soon after, the cancer escalated, and there wasn’t anything wonderful. Only darkness.

But, in the midst of this writing journey I’ve noticed His love, comfort, guidance, on spectacular display in this dark backdrop.

And again, I am awestruck.

On my run this morning, I notice something sparkle from below my feet. Upon closer look, I recognize it is a broken lens from a pair of glasses. I smile as I take a pic. This visual is His Glory on display—seeing God through this lens of brokenness.

He’s there, if only I look close enough.

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The Live Dare: A Cry for Help

I had a thought this morning as I deliberated this post from May 10th:

My highest place of exaltation is often at my lowest point in life.

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Entry from May 10th, 2017:

I made a promise to you in the bathroom last night, “I’ll give you a year, Lord.”

The desire to die to be with Bill is so overwhelming, I don’t desire to fight it’s pull. But these words in his final letter to me cause me to stay the course,

“I want you to be strong and live a beautiful, fulfilling life…”

“Lord, I am giving you one year to rekindle the desire to live again.”

I promised I wouldn’t kill myself even though I tried to propel my feet to sprint until my lungs collapsed and my heart stopped beating.

“Help me, God.”

Help. How do I do this, how do I go on when reminders of his fingerprint cause an ache so deep, it penetrates beyond the marrow, into my invisible soul.

I turned on Fox News this morning. I guess missing the routine of you. Yet, without your endless commentary at the screen, this made me sadder still.

I am scared. I stood in the bathroom last night, it was after I picked up your death certificates earlier in the day. They said you were there, somewhere beyond my sight, but your box wasn’t in yet. I guess some misunderstanding in shipping or something. So I left you there, and went to the bank.

I attempted to change the accounts with the simplicity you put on paper, but it was not that simple. They are requiring me to create a new account for just me. You made special passwords, like loved ones carve into wood of initials only significant to them. I had to change them.

I was in the bathroom last night, standing there. Feeling lost. I’m not sure who I was talking to, you or God, but I told one or the other this simple statement, “I will give it one year.” I don’t feel desperate to kill myself to be by your side, but I am not sure how to navigate in this sorrow. But not to be too impulsive, I will give it one year.

Later, Ky cries herself into my bed, and I comfort her. Her pain was delayed compared to the others. I knew this would come and find comfort in the fact she is opening up.

In the midst of her tears, she looks at me and asks me not to leave them. They need me. I don’t understand. How did she know I thought of leaving?  She was not home when I was in the bathroom.

She says she’s worried I am going to kill myself. “How do you know?” She’s says she is not sure, intuition, or something like that.

Oh.

Okay, God. We have a year. Beginning today. I promise I will not take my own life.

A couple days later, Ky comes with tear-stained-eyeliner-smudged eyes, and shares the truth of how she knew I was contemplating hurting myself:

She was standing in her bedroom and heard a voice say, “Go in there with her.” She wasn’t sure, but the voice sounded like her dad.

“Mom, I think I heard Dad.”

He declared in a loud voice, “Go in there with her”.  In with me.

When she said through snot, “Don’t leave, we need you.”

How did she know? You God.

I held her close and told her that was her Heavenly Daddy. Isn’t it like HIM to use a voice she ached to hear to deliver a message of help to me?

God knew I needed someone to come in, not only comfort and encourage me, but to make me know HE is near to my brokenness ,and is with me through this, carrying me, comforting me.

He also knew Ky needed to hear her daddy’s voice, and hear her Daddy’s Voice.

I cling to this verse today in my reading:

Blessed are those who take refuge in him.  Psalm 2:12

Uprooted in Grief and Fear

I feel the vice grip of fear entangle me this morning as I contemplate writing a blog post, talking myself out of such an endeavor, that God really didn’t nudge me at all.  Justifying my disobedience with the fact I am still horribly grieving most days, and He wouldn’t ask such a thing of me while I am still entirely too down and out.

I am writing after all, so what is the difference whether I keep it private, or post it anyway?  Just a matter of logistics, and maybe a few dedicated followers who actually read my ramblings. Not a big deal.  Or is it?

That, and was I perhaps playing the “victim” card I verbally speak against on almost a daily basis?

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

The exhilaration of His guidance at the possibility of blogging again had me leaping at His quick response to an inward request for clarity on the inaudible whisper I was certain was from Him in the first place.

I guess I am afraid.

I see a sign post today, laying flat on its back from the storm.  I ponder its uprooting.

I mean really, Harvey has hardly made an impact here, so the fact that it is a casualty, hasn’t weathered the storm at all and is down for the count, has me feeling like if it were a person, she would be playing the victim card herself.

She is too tired to hold up any longer. Too emotional to weather the pain.

“Let someone else alert others of the approaching curve ahead,” she would say if she weren’t an it.

Instead she lay there broken.

It is time to write publicly again. I say this with a bit of trepidation in my fingers as I type the commitment.

Yesterday, as I read a book’s introduction, the author quotes C.S. Lewis on fear and grief:

“No one told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

Yes, I’ve stayed away from this outlet more out of fear than anything else.  Fear of what?  Fear of a subtle shift of writing “to” instead of writing “from”.

It is a slight deviation that keeps me on the shallow end instead of the depths. Wondering if people will read what I write and feel compelled to rescue me from myself.  I get it.  As I read through the first entries of this writing journey post Bill, I see me too near the ledge, feet teetering too close to the edge, close to jumping out of this life, into the after life.

But, I am still standing here today.

Actually I have made it 111 consecutive days of writing, meeting God at the kitchen table with Bible in hand each morning.

Yet I know my writing is beyond my own healing. It is meant for God to be known, especially so in the midst of this inescapable darkness.

I have many moments that blow my mind away of how God is moving in the midst on my behalf.

But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

So, to keep me from compromising, I’ve decided to continue on today privately, but begin to post from former days and move forward from there.

They are choppy at first. Raw.  Difficult. Unedited.

My hope is you glean a glimpse of His Glory in the midst of such darkness.

 

Today I leave you with the initial entry from May 8th:

Sitting outside staring at the last of the blooms from the tree that was planted in honor of the man who died of cancer. No, not my husband, but the former occupant of this residence.

We just made it back today after a whirlwind of memorials in two states, and in exhaustion hit the bed as I stared at a pic of the two of us, and cried myself to a deep sleep.

I feel this thought creep up–would this not have happened had we not moved into this home? I mean, really, the eeriness of the similarities has me wonder. They moved here. He got sick. Died. We moved here. He got sick. Died. What if when it happened, we just moved? Would chemo have worked at that point?

I know.  Josie don’t go there. You are not superstitious. I know.

I’m just heartbroken.

 

A Blank Page

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. 

-Chuck Palahniuk

Yesterday, a variation of a similar phrase hit me like a one-two punch:

“She’ll be okay.”

“You’ll be okay.”

After returning home from the memorials of my dad and Bill, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, let alone feel okay.  But, day by day, the suffocation subsided some, and a normal breathing pattern emerged, similar to being hooked to a ventilator.

In. Out. In. Out.

Just make it through this moment.  Make it through this moment. Make it through this moment.

The slow intake from The Breath of Life pushed enough oxygen into my being until I could handle breathing again on my own.

And, slowly, a new rhythm has emerged.

For the last 37 days, I sit at my kitchen table, with warm coffee in hand, ready for God to breathe new life into this stagnant air.

And, ever-so-slowly, the overwhelming desire to die, the feeling I’m suffocating, the heaviness, has dissipated like the morning dew.

I started to write freehand, just a pencil and a blank page, whatever was on my heart and mind in the moment.  Truth by told, I’m not entirely sure of the content of the filled pages.  But that’s not important.

The writing seems to help heal the deep hurt within, and I am grateful.

Actually, I feel a newfound sense of freedom rise up.

A blank page awaits.

A new page.

A new chapter.

A new book.

But, sometimes new requires leaving some things behind–like this blog site.

He is penning a story on this blank page.

Please know, I will be okay.

Love you,

Josie

(Oh, if you’ve tried to contact me, or would like to contact me via email, I have a new address:  josettelbarone@gmail.com.  I’d love to keep in touch :))