Saturday, October 24, 2015

Moving Forward - Almost 9 months

In a few days, I will have been a widow for 9 months.  I don't know where the time has gone or how I have gone on without Dennis​.  I miss him every day. 

I have learned some things during this time:

1. With God, I can keep on living and live abundantly.
2. Friends are some of the greatest gifts God gives us and I have some of the best friends in the world.  They help me through the tough, lonely days, assist with the physical labor I can't do alone and are there for me a lot. 
3. I can't do it all.  That one took me awhile to admit.  My house and yard won't be perfect.  I need to make choices.
4. I can't be dad and mom to Brooklyn.  I can be her Mom and endeavor to fill some of the voids left by losing Dennis but I'll never fill that hole in her heart.
5. Life does go on.  There was a point where I did not see how that was possible, but it does. It is different but it is starting to feel familiar - not normal - but new and different.
6. We have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, forever family day... and we got through them and in fact, enjoyed them.  I will admit that the approaching holidays are a total blank slate.  How do we go about celebrating them when both my husband and mother are not there this year?  Dennis LOVED Christmas and Mom always went out of her way to make it special.  I know we will need to figure these things out in the days ahead.  First on that list, what do we do for Thanksgiving?  Anyone have room at your table for a few extras this year?  (I'm sure all of us know someone who needs a place to spend the day.)
7. Solo parents need a break even when they love their kids dearly.  I'm just now learning this and still finding it hard to take time away for me.  I know how much Brooklyn needs me around but I'm a better parent when I get some time away especially when it is with other adults.
8. If I don't do it, it won't get done.  (See #3)  Ignoring the need to pick something up, do the laundry, clean something...only means it will still be there later.  (Where is a fairy god-mother when you need one.)
9. I am exhausted a lot.  These has been a lingering problem since Dennis passed.  I'm sure some of it is due to all the responsibilities I carry now and the schedule I kept for the years of Dennis' illness.  (I refuse to admit it is due to aging.)
10.  Following God's call to adoption was the absolute best thing we ever could have done.  Brooklyn is a delight and keeps me focused on the future and all God has in store for us.
11.. It is OK to make changes.  I've changed jobs, bought a car, done some repairs around the house and it is OK.  I have not done these without advice from people who know me well and whom I trust.  I often wish Dennis was here to tell about my new job - which I love - or to enjoy the updates/repairs I've done to the house but it is OK to move on and to enjoy life.
12. Mostly, I am learning to depend more on God and His sufficiency.  He promised to be with us always and He is true to his promises. 

Today we stopped and Dennis and my parent's graves.  We left a fall wreath to honor their memories.  We miss them all but I am so thankful that I know they are not there.  They are well and in the presence of their Savior.  We will join them there someday but for now, I know God has a plan and a purpose for my life and Brooklyn's life as we continue our earthly journey.   

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Six Months

August 2nd marked six months since Dennis entered heaven.  I'm not sure how it has been that long. "Life goes on," they say but it is a very different life than it was before.  I miss him every day.  I miss the small things like a clean windshield on the car.  Dennis always cleaned it for me when we got gas and I actually fill up the car and forget to wash it until I have driven away and am annoyed at all the bugs on the windows.  I miss the big things, like having someone to talk over the day-to-day things of life.  Brooklyn and I miss him.  There is no getting past that.

We have had a good summer.  I've not had a summer off since I was 16 and took my first part-time job.  I've loved having the time to spend with Brooklyn.  We spent a week in northern Wisconsin with my sister and her husband.  Brooklyn had her first chance to do some target shooting while we were there.  My cousin, Roger, took us to the rifle range and helped her learn how to shoot.  She did very well.  We fished and just relaxed.  I've done some work around the house but not nearly as much as I had hoped to do.  In between, we spent time with friends and did the typical summer things.

I'm taking a grief class.  Seriously not something I ever thought I'd be doing at this point in life. I'm doing OK overall but a number of friends have told me how beneficial Grief Share is so I started it last week. I'm sure it will help me walk through the many layers of grief. Losing a spouse changes so much in your life. Nothing is the same. I'm not sure any other loss, except maybe that of a child, impacts so much of your life.  I'm learning to live in this "new normal".  I miss the old normal but I'm trusting God as he writes this chapter of my life as well.

I'll be starting a new job soon.  Shortly after I left my job of 25 years, God opened the door for me to work part-time at Brooklyn's school.  It will be very different from what I have done for bulk of my career but it allows me to have off when she has off.  This is a real benefit for both of us to have the time together to heal and work through our "new normal".

God continues to provide for us and teach us about trusting him.  We are blessed by our friends who continue to support us in a variety of ways.  We have seen how God is using them in our lives.  We trust we are able to help others as we have been helped.

Please continue to pray for us.  There are days that are so hard.  We are learning to trust God deeper every day.

Dennis' Headstone

Monday, May 11, 2015

Puzzle Pieces

The image of a puzzle piece has come up often in the last few years.  In fact, I blogged about it awhile ago.  Each piece of a puzzle is unique.  No two are the same.  The edges are cut differently and the part of the big picture on each piece is unique.

As children of God, we don't see the entire picture of our lives.  We only see one piece at a time and it does not give us a good look at the whole image of the puzzle our lives are forming.  It takes a lot of faith sometimes to trust that those dark pieces are part of a much bigger plan.  I've lived through a dark corner of the puzzle of my life recently.  Yes, there have been some brilliant glimpses of light along the way to keep me going but it has been hard too. At times God has graciously given me glimpses of what this puzzle He is putting together with my life looks like.  These glimpses certainly give me hope and increase my trust that He is indeed working it all together for my good and His glory.

Let me share one of those glimpses that time and distance have revealed to me recently.  Each one of these puzzle pieces at the time seemed like such random events.

  • Last spring we visited Abundant Life Christian School to consider it as an option for Brooklyn but decided not to change her schools as she had so much change in her life already.
  • July 2014, Dennis was having difficulty getting around and fell while I was at work and was unable to get up or get help for close to 4 hours.  I started working from home at that point.
  • Later the same month I seriously injured my shoulder and was unable to work.
  • In light of these last two facts, we decided to enroll Brooklyn in Abundant Life Christian School rather than the school she had been attending as her former school was near where I worked but 40 minutes from home.  
  • I remained on leave from work until after Dennis had died.
  • I returned to work in March but my job now required traveling.  At times that travel was planned in advance but other times it could be very short notice.  I realized very quickly that as a single parent with a child who had been through the recent death of her parent, this just would not work.
  • I prayed, sought advice and eventually left my job of 25 year at the end of April.  I did not have another job but just knew this was the right thing to do.  I had complete peace about this decision.  I knew the budget would be tight but I had seen God provide in so many times and ways that I knew I did not have to worry in this regard.
  • At about the same time as I gave notice at my old job, I noticed a part-time position open at Brooklyn's school.  It looked like a great fit in regards to the skill set needed as well as the schedule.  (It is a school year job so if school is not in session, I would be off from work.)  It would also be a nice supplement to my income.
  • I applied, interviewed and today was offered the job!  
Do you so how all of these pieces fit together?  From visiting a school closer to home, to having me at home to help Dennis so that making the move to this new school made sense, to the timing of an opening for a job that would meet my schedule and financial needs, God was putting together this part of the puzzle of my life.  I am amazed at the way God was putting this all together.  I am blessed by the glimpses He gives me of His hand at work in my life.  Isn't God amazing!

Other Updates

It has been a little over three months since Dennis stepped out of his cancer ridden body and into the presence of His Lord and Savior.  I often think about all he must be experiencing and know that my imagination cannot even begin to picture it.  I miss him so much and can't wait for the day we will be together again.

Recently when God provided for a financial need I had in a totally unexpected way, one of my friends said, "I can just picture Dennis and Jesus watching this unfold.  Dennis would have that smirk on his face."  I added, "And Jesus would be assuring Dennis that he was still watching out for his family."  

The day-to-day living without Dennis is lonely and hard at times. I miss him in practical ways, like cutting the grass, and in companionship.  I can't even begin to count the times I have thought, "I can't wait to tell Dennis about..." only to abruptly remember he is not there to talk with.  His presence is missed.

But we are moving forward.  God has a plan and purpose for the rest of my life and Brooklyn's life.  I choose joy and hope.  When I am overwhelmed I often sing this old hymn:

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God has done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  3. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The blessings along the way are many.  I choose to count them and marvel in the amazing puzzle God is putting together in my life.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reality is Hard-But God is Faithful

Day-to-day life rolls on in a very day-to-day way.  Meals need to be made, homework needs to be done, the house needs to be cleaned, the winter fades into spring--life goes on.

At the same time, the emptiness creeps in. In the last week I have felt a loneliness and longing for my soul-mate that is a very day-to-day emptiness. I can't even begin to count the number of times I catch myself thinking about something I want to tell him or ask him about.  And then I remember he is not here to share these very day-to-day parts of my life.

I miss him so much and in so many ways.  I'm often over-whelmed by all there is to do and to carry alone as I walk through these days of adjusting to life without Dennis by my side.


I'm learning to lean hard on God.  His Word has reminded me over and over again that He is faithful. He is there to comfort and provide the wisdom and guidance my heart longs for.

As much as I miss Dennis, I know God has a purpose for the days ahead.  The Psalmist says:

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 13:16

Dennis' death was not a surprise to God. Before he was ever born his days were planned.  Not only is this true for Dennis, it is true for me as well.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your love, O Lord, endures forever--
Psalm 138:6

God has a plan for this season of my life. For the grief and loneliness--there is a purpose.  I trust Him today and tomorrow--although this season is hard, God has promised He is with me and He is faithful and fully trustworthy.

The statutes you have laid down are righteous,
they are fully trustworthy.
Psalm 119:138

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Month

How are You?

It is hard to believe that Dennis has been gone for a month already.  At times it seems like yesterday and at others it seems like forever.  We both miss him so much.

I am asked often, “How are you doing?”  My most frequent response is, “It varies from day-to-day.”  I find myself going about life and then it will hit me and it is all so fresh and painful again.  I recently went back to work and I find myself thinking often about talking something over with Dennis when I get home only to remember he won’t be there.  I miss that day-to-day interaction the most.  As time has passed, I find myself more and more lonely while at the same time having to pick-up and go on.  It is a strange place to be in life.

Brooklyn is doing well but misses her daddy a lot too.  We talk about him and at times that is easy and at other times it is difficult.  Both of us journal and that is helping us too.  I think Brooklyn describes it well when she says, “I just don’t feel right.” It will take time to adjust and there will always be a huge hole in our hearts.

Am I Enough?

I have been pondering the question, “Am I enough?”  In other words, is God alone enough in my life or is a complete life dependent on having the right circumstances, people or things to be fulfilled and content?  To be honest, I struggled with this, especially early in Dennis’ illness.  I could not imagine moving forward with any sense of completeness without him.  It was a real battle in my soul.  I remember distinctly a point at which I looked to God and prayed that He would do with Dennis as he chose and that I would trust Him to care for me regardless of the outcome.  It was a turning point for me in knowing God was indeed enough to make my life complete and to bring Him honor and glory.
This, by no means, means  I don’t miss Dennis or wish we could have grown old together.  I will miss him every day until we are once again reunited in eternity.  It is helping me to live expectantly for what is ahead.  I do not want to live like the best part of my life is over and only look backward.  I will always cherish the years we had together but I am also choosing to look ahead with faith that God has much in store for me in the years ahead.  I have seen Him work in miraculous ways during Dennis’ illness and I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for the future.

Is God enough?  Yes, a thousand times yes!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Two Weeks Home

Dennis has been home for two weeks - healed, whole and in the presence of his Savior.  Can I admit I am jealous of him?  After 32 months of battling this cancer, he no longer has to face chemo, trial drugs, MRIs, radiation, fatigue...He is alive and well in a way that we can only imagine.  For him, it is only complete joy.

For us, there is deep grief, tempered only by the sure hope that Dennis is indeed fully healed. Brooklyn and I miss him every single day.  Some days we do fairly well and others are so hard. Yesterday I missed him so much it physically hurt.  

Two weeks ago as we left the hospice following Dennis' death, Brooklyn wrote "Dad" on the back of the car.  She has continued to refresh this anytime it starts to get covered in salt and dirt.  

She misses Dennis also.  Like me, she also struggles with sleeping at night. We know in time we will settle into a new normal and feel better overall but right now it is difficult.  She went back to school today and I think the routine will be good for her.  I'll return to work in March.  

Brooklyn is also expressing herself in her art.  She told me when she drew this that she didn't know if Daddy could see us but that maybe he could.  

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Dennis' Service

If you want to see the service and the slide show, you can go here:  If you want to just see the service it is here also:  

I'm so grateful for the people who have supported us along this journey and in the last several weeks. We are sustained by your love and prayers.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Saw Jesus In You

Usually when I write, I have been mulling around a thought or idea for awhile and by the time I sit down to actually write it, it has already been written and all I have to do is put it in print.  That is not the case today so if I am rambling, that may be the reason.

I really don't know where to begin.  Dennis was an exceptional man.  He loved the Lord passionately and it was at the heart of how he lived.  He was a man of integrity but his motivation was not to be a "good guy" but rather to let others see Christ through him.  I think this song is so true of his life.

I shared on Facebook a conversation I had with Dennis after he had been to a brain tumor support group.  The discussion that day had been about "bucket lists."  Dennis looked at me and said, "I really don't think I will get to heaven and say, Man, I wish I would have..."  Heaven was his "bucket list" and he finished it on Monday.  In the 32 months that Dennis battled this cancer he looked forward to heaven.  I never once heard him complain about having cancer or all that he went through.  At one point when he was doing really well he said, "Don't get me wrong, I think I am going to beat this cancer and part of me is really bummed by that."  He truly was looking forward to heaven.

The only thing he ever was concerned about was that Brooklyn and I would be OK.  He told many of our friends this as they drove him back and forth to his appointments.  The day before he died I asked him if he was concerned about us and he shook his head yes.  I reassured him we would miss him but we be OK.

Shortly after he had left for heaven, I looked at him and said, "I so wish I could see what you are seeing right now."  As I work through the loss of his presence, that is what I am trying to focus on. He is where he longed to be and in the presence of his Savior.  Our loss hurts deeply but a reunion awaits for those who love the Lord and I can't wait for that day.

Brooklyn and I have been doing OK.  We have been busy these last couple of days.  Each night I sleep a little better than I did the night before.  I'm sure Friday and Saturday will be both exhausting and encouraging as we celebrate Dennis' life.

I am very unsure about the new normal that will follow but God will be there to lead us into it.  He has a plan for what is ahead of us and I know we can trust Him.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Dennis.  We were at the top of Trail Ridge Road in Colorado and he was throwing a snowball at me.

Thank you all for your love and prayers for us.  We sense the strength they are providing to us each day.