Friday, October 20, 2017

A Year Of Firsts - October 22, 2016 -October 22, 2017


In sickness and health til death do us part..........He's with you now Lord. How do I go on? That was my question the first few days after my Joe died. This blog will give you some insight how I got through the first year. I had to get use to the word widow. I told someone one day When I fill out a form I can check all the boxes..... after 76 years. Single, check, Married, check, Divorce, check, and Widow, check. I had been blogging for 12 1/2 years when Joe died. It was a way to journal our travels. I figured now that my travel days were over there was no reason to continue blogging. But that wasn't in the Lord's plans. The desire to write continued on. But the reason for blogging changed . It was now a way to document the many firsts that happens when the love of your life dies and you journey on as a widow. I changed the name of my blog to The Journey Continues and my prayer was that my sharing would help someone on this journey. 
Before Joe died we had long talks about things I would need to do, and things to remember. Working with a wonderful realtor I put the house up for sale in November and it sold before it ever went on the Market. My sister came from Washington to help me pack and Joe's son and daughter and their spouses and my son, came Thanksgiving weekend and finished up empty the shed's and helping me get ready for the move. On moving day, 13 members of my church loaded the Uhaul and moved me to my new apt. in Damascus. A beautiful and safe hideaway where I could heal. The pictures are the fall colors here where I live.

One of the firsts, was going to church by myself for the first time. After seriously praying about where I would make my church home I chose Happy Valley Evangelical Church. Joe and I had visited there before and Joe had "cousin" connections there. Pastor Steele had visited our home before Joe's mom died. We had her celebration of life there. So it wasn't like I was going somewhere where I didn't know anyone. Pastor also played the piano for Joe's Celebration of Life service. This church family has totally enveloped me with their love and care.
I spent the Christmas/New Year holidays with my sister in Washington State. I love the train so when I go to see her I go by train.Valentine's Day was difficult but I turned "lemons into lemonade" 
Joe knew I loved Pearls, but I always told him no I didn't need them... So on Valentines day I went to the Jewelry Store Joe has used for years and bought a beautiful but small pair of real pearl earrings and wear them most every day.

For years I have made it a practice when I read something that is meaningful to me, that will help me to grow in my Christian walk I write it in my bible. So today I have decided to use some of these to help explain how I endured the year of firsts without Joe. If I knew who wrote the quote, I wrote down their name. If there is no name it is because it's a quote I heard from a sermon or on the radio or TV etc. I'm getting better to remember to when I do this to get the name first before I write the quote.

1.I am here to be a servant, not to be served.

Over the years I have learned when I'm sad or feeling down, look for someone who needs help or just needs someone to listen . It gets my mind off my hurts.

2.Don't measure the size of the mountain, Talk to the one who can move it – Max Lucado
I Thank Him that he can take care of that “mountain” He doesn't need my help.

3.Don't doubt in the darkness what you've learned time and time again in the light. “ John 10:4 is still in the Bible. Trust and lean on the Lord. His track record is so good. - Jim Velez

I've had some tough situations in my life. God has brought me safely through every one of those tough times. That has helped me learn to trust Him in all things. 

4. Have an attitude of gratitude – M.J. Ryan
I learned something (yes, I'm still learning....) at camp meeting this summer. In the past when I prayed it was sort of a Lord, gimme, gimme, gimme. Now I begin my prayers thanking  Him for all He has done for me in the past, and how He is going to take care of my concerns according to His will in the future. It may not be the way I would have done it....but then I'm not God am I.  Yes, it's been a year of heart break, tears and sorrow but He is the healer of broken hearts, He is my comforter. I now have more days of smiles and less tears. 

These are some questions I ask myself routinely, 

Am I focusing on my losses or my gains?

Am I staring at a closed door behind me, or getting ready to walk through a new door in front of me doing what ever it is the Lord has for me to do?

Am I clinging to an ending or preparing for a new beginning doing what God wants me to do?

Am I complaining about things I can't change or am I changing the things I can?

Rest comes as I live in the moment...not in the past or the future. With an awareness that God loves me and wants to heal my anguish. As I let go and simply trust Him the empty spaces in my soul becomes the place God fills with the healing power of His presence.

It is through our suffering, our trials and our wounds that God's Glory is often revealed.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”-― Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Our former home was a two bedroom, two bath large double wide mobile home. And the furniture there was fine for it. When I moved, it was to a studio apt. I kept what I could fit in the apt. Our bed was a Queen size and it took up quite a bit of room here. So last week I down sized and now I am enjoying a very comfortable twin, electric bed. 
I also had a very nice glider and stool that was not comfortable for me . Now I am so comfortable in my small Lazy Boy rocker recliner.

I have two pregnant granddaughters at the moment. I will be great grandma next month and again in December. That will make 11  great grandchildren. So the one granddaughter and her husband are enjoying the queen size bed and the other granddaughter and her husband will be rocking my great grand baby in their new to them glider.

Now I begin another year. What are my plans you may ask. I'll do the same thing I do everyday. Wake up thanking the Lord for a new day, I will keep my eyes and ears open for what ever He has in mind for me for that day. There are some potential volunteer opportunities. If and when they become a reality at that time I will blog about them.  I do have one goal so far.

Joe bought me a Ukulele a couple years ago and shortly after that he was diagnosed with cancer. With his surgery and chemo, the Ukulele stayed in it's case. I read music and with all kinds of You Tube Tutorials I plan on teaching myself how to play. Other than that I plan on driving to Lynden, Washington next Spring or Summer to visit my sister in law. (Don't give up Blanche, I'll get there eventually)
When I said I have less tears and more smiles, that doesn't mean I don't miss my Joe.  I don't even know how to tell how much I miss him. I'm not lonely but the feeling of alone is unspeakable. I come home after being gone for a few hours, close the door and it is so quiet my ears ring. Sometimes the tears come.... I hear certain songs that were special to him, then the tears come,..but the good part of that is I don't stay stuck there. 
All three of my kids and Joe's son and daughter have walked right with me. They each have their "specialty" in helping mom when needed. I have the best friends ever. Widowed friends, friends with families, Pastor friends. No one ever tries to "fix" me. They all understand the tears. Most of them understand (or are learning or tolerating) my goofy sense of humor. I love them all. Best of all, I have a hope, I have a wonderful future in the fact I know I will see Joe and all my loved ones that have gone on before. I smile when I think about the fact that he has seen and is living where we will spend eternity. And that is a comfort in itself.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD"   Psalm 27:13-14

He truly is Faithful
I'll love you for ever and for always
Your Betty Girl