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.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015


At 10:45 today Dennis left his cancer stricken body and was fully healed and in the presence of his Savior.   As he left his body, the hymn "It is Well with My Soul" was playing.  It is indeed well with all of our souls.  Dennis' soul is in the presence of his Savior whom he has longed to see.  I said to him moments after he had left, "I so wish I could see what your eyes are seeing."  Amazing.  He can walk, run, jump and speak.

It is also well with my soul.  I have a wonderful peace.  Yes, there is a deep sorrow too but a peace because of the assurance that I will see Dennis again.  I miss him already.  Heaven is that much sweeter because he is waiting for me there.

Details of the arrangements to honor Dennis' life and memory will be finalized tomorrow.  For now, the visitation will be at High Point Church in Madison on Friday and the service will be there as well on Saturday.

Please keep us in your prayers as we learn to live our new normal without Dennis.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Just Another Day...But So Different

In some ways today feels like just another day.  In the last 32 months we have spent time in the hospital three times and in a rehab center once so in some ways today feels like just another day.  Sitting by Dennis' side and being his advocate for whatever he needs seems like the ones that have gone before it but this one is not like the others.

This time I will not leave pushing a wheelchair, helping Dennis into the car and getting him settled in at home. Instead, I will walk out the door no longer a wife but a widow.  There will no longer be that companionship of a shared life and heart that has been our very blessed normal since God brought us together.  I will leave behind a large piece of my heart as I leave here.  That parting is drawing near.

The inside of Dennis' wedding ring and the edge of my diamond is engraved with the words, "God joined us."  He joined our hearts and our lives and that bond will remain.  I will carry Dennis forever in my heart.

Tonight I spend some of our final hours together.  A last kiss, a last whispered "I love you!", a last hand hold...BUT...a great reunion awaits. We know the parting we will soon make is temporary as eternity awaits where there will be no more death or tears.  Only this hope has kept us going in the last months and will keep Brooklyn and me focused on the rich blessings in our lives moving forward. Don't get me wrong, my heart breaks. I will always miss Dennis.  I wish we could have grown old together, watched Brooklyn grow up and hold our grandchildren but I trust and believe God when he says He works all things in our lives for good.  We don't see or understand all that He is doing in our lives or in the lives of people around us but He is at work and I trust Him.

The hours and days ahead will not be easy but God is faithful and will be there then as he has faithfully been in the past. Please keep us in your prayers as we spend whatever time we have left together and for the days ahead as Brooklyn and I move forward into whatever God has for us.

Breathing is Hard

This morning Dennis starting having problems with secretions impacting his breathing.  He is still very aware and able to understand and make his wishes known.  We have upped his Morphine dose, given a med for secretions, having him sitting upright and are waiting on an anti-anxiety med.  (We are in the midst of a big snow storm so pharmacy deliveries to the hospice are slow.)

These verses sum up Dennis so well.

2 Timothy 4:6-8.  For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Pray for comfort and peace as we walk through these final hours together.

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning - Good morning.  Dennis had a pretty good night.  His breathing was not as slow as last night.  This morning he is having some secretions in throat that are hard to swallow but is doing better since I sat him up.  Please pray that these subside.  

Brooklyn spent the night here and Dennis Steward sat up with Dennis.  I slept quite well last night.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Morning

Dennis was alert this morning but largely due to pain.  In order to give him his seizure medication,  they need to stop the morphine as the two cannot run together.  Usually the give him extra morphine just prior and the run the seizure med.  It takes about 1/2 and hour but for some reason today I ran very slow and his pain kept going up.  They finally stopped it, gave him some morphine, and restarted the seizure med.  This worked well and he is resting again.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Morning Update

Dennis rested well last night.  He woke up this morning and had a few spoonfuls of orange juice.  He has had very little eat or drink for the last day and for a few days prior to that he drank and ate only small amounts.  Yesterday his only interest in food was a few bites of breakfast.  When he is awake he is very aware of what we are saying and responds yes or no to what we ask him.

Whenever Dennis would express concerns about not beating this cancer it was always about Brooklyn and me being OK and that our friends would look after us.  Yesterday our pastor stopped and without knowing this has been his one concern he said to Dennis, "Our church family will be watching out for your wife and daughter."  Our friends who were here yesterday assured him of the same thing.  I've been reminding him that we will be OK.  God has so clearly provided for us over this time that I have complete peace moving forward.  My heart aches knowing he will be gone soon but I know our separation is temporary and we will see each other soon.

Brooklyn is doing OK as well.  She spent some time here last night and a friend stayed with her last night.  She wants to know when Daddy will go to heaven.  She is keeping up her normal schedule and will be at school today.

Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Homeward Bound

Dennis is on the home stretch of the journey.  His final home is almost in sight.  As much as we grieve the coming separation, we grieve with peace knowing a well body awaits.  Most importantly, he will be face-to-face with his Savior.

Awhile ago when Dennis was doing really well he siad to me, "Don't take this wrong but I think I am going to beat this and part of me is really bummed by that."  He went on to tell me that he was so looking forward to all that heaven had to offer.

The doctor has told us that moving him home at this point would be too traumatic.   She expects Dennis to be with us a few days to a few weeks.  We had discussed where it would be best for his final days to happen and how location might impact Brooklyn and there was no clear right or wrong in those choices but we are trusting that God orchestrated where he is now and we are at peace in that.  Dennis is at Agrace Hospice in Fitchburg.

We know are parting is temporary.  Someday, for those that know Christ, we will all be forever together.

I will try to keep you up-to-date with posts here and on Facebook.

Dennis is not doing well

Yesterday I called our hospice staff because Dennis was having pain when we moved him and we were not beating it with the medications he was taking.  They came out to the house and decided to admit him to the in patient unit to address the pain.

They started some pain medications and during the night he became unresponsive. The doctor withdrew the medications but his condition has not changed.  This could be medication or it could also be decline.  I suspect it is decline as we have been seeing decline in the last week .

It looks like Dennis will soon be well again as he leaves this earthly body and enters heaven.  My heart is breaking for our lose but rejoicing that when he
leaves this body he will be face to face with his Savior and totally healed.  Our parting will be for a season but a reunion awaits.

Please keep us in your prayers.  Brooklyn is at school and I'm going to see how things go today and let her finish out the day unless we see other changes.  Dennis did briefly open his eyes when he heard my voice.

Monday, January 26, 2015


An online friend of mine who recently lost her husband to this same cancer told me awhile ago that whenever our husband's conditions change we go through the reality check and grieving associated with gradually losing our husbands.  It appears we are there again.

Over the last week I have noticed some subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes with Dennis.  We have from the beginning of this journey been open with what is going on and we plan to continue to do so.  We believe it helps you to pray more specifically for us and also maybe helps someone else along the way.

Dennis has had more pain lately.  When Dennis changes position this is most evident.  For awhile we used Tylenol before his aides came but that does not seem to be adequate anymore.  We will be using a medication that comes in a patch format so he has continual delivery of the pain medication.  Please pray that this provides the relief he needs from pain.  Dennis is unable to identify where exactly the pain is coming from so that makes it more difficult to help him.  A massage therapist has volunteered to come and and work with Dennis so we are hoping that will help as well.

I have also been observing some decline in Dennis' abilities.  He can only use his left hand but has done well feeding himself with that hand.  In the last few days he has been having trouble even doing that.  I want to keep him as independent as possible but balance that with the frustration of not being able to accomplish the task.  Please pray for me to balance his need for help and the amount of assistance I give him.  He is not eating well the last few days and I'm not sure if it is frustration or that he is not hungry.

He also seems to be having trouble understanding me sometimes.  I usually can tell by the look on his face if he understands or not.  Yesterday I asked him if he was having trouble understanding something I had just said and he nodded yes.  I asked him if this was new and again he nodded yes.  I can only imagine how scary this must be for him.  Please pray for us as we learn to communicate and meet his needs with this new deficit.

Please also remember to pray for Brooklyn as she endeavors to understand what is happening and how it impacts her.  We don't hide things from her and I'll be talking to her in the days ahead about what to expect.  There is a good possibility that Dennis will not know her or anyone at some point.  I want her to be ready for this and not be taken by surprise.  Please pray for her as she navigates the changes happening in her life.

We know God is walking this road with us and will continue to do so in the days of head.  No part of this has taken Him by surprise and he is faithful.  Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  God is ordering Dennis' life now as He has all of his life.  We place our hope and trust in a faithful and loving heavenly Father.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Planning and Living


Recently I have found myself in a planning phase.  If you know me well, you know I am a planner.  It has served me well professionally and personally.  Planning helps me get through things.  If I know what is going to happen and the details are covered, I can relax and cope with what is ahead.  So I have been planning.

On the mundane side of planning, I am planning to get our kitchen painted.  I was given some money from my Mom at Christmas and decided the best use of it was to update the kitchen with a fresh coat of paint.  Here is a look at the before - stay tuned for the after.  (Counter tops are on my wish list for the update but those will have to wait for awhile.)

I'm also planning an organized, functional office.  Dennis' "man cave" has been his office.  As such, I did not maintain that room.  It was his area.  Now however it is my job to go through it and make it functional for the future.  Dennis was fine with me doing this but it is turning into a major project.  At this point I have decided to sort so I can determine what we will need in the future and then get a friend to help me decide what to do with the remaining items.  There are electronics that I have no idea if they are something that is current and should be sold or out of date and should be trashed. Let's just say there is a lot more stuff in the room than is needed.

On a much deeper level, I have done some pre-planning with our church staff for the celebration of Dennis' life after he has been fully healed and enjoying the splendors of heaven.  I'm not done with this planning and it is not easy to do.  It will be the last thing I can do for Dennis and I want it to glorify God first and honor the man of God he has always been.  Please remember to pray for this aspect of our journey.

Some planning is just thinking through the days ahead.  I am a firm believer that we need to live in light of Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.-ESV  Last night I found myself planning too far down the road as to what is ahead for us and it overwhelmed me.  I know from experience that God's grace is there whenever I need it.  It is never early but it is also never late.  In the days ahead, this will be true as well.


Our day-to-day lives are complicated at this point.  Dennis' care is intense.  I am so grateful for the aides who come twice a day to help with his morning and evening care.  It gives me a chance to get a shower in the morning and relax.  I also enjoy their company in the morning and in the evening it gives me some good, quality time with Brooklyn.  

Each day involves medication preparations and administration, repositioning Dennis as he can't turn himself, changing and cleaning him, answering when he calls, endeavoring to figure out what he may want or need, finding something to keep him entertained, laundry - lots of laundry, finding coverage if I need to get away, making food he likes and can eat with as little assistance as possible ... you get the idea.  And this is just the things I do for Dennis.  It does not include the normal things of life that we all do for our families.  Yes, I am tired.  Yes, I am sometimes not as patient as I wish I was.  Yes, I get tired of it all.  Yes I feel like this most of the time.  

But, this season of life also has its blessings.  I am learning to slow down.  I'm learning to not sweat the small stuff.  I'm learning there are more important things than a perfectly clean house.  I'm learning that God is the great provider and meets each one of our needs on time and in ways that amaze me.  I'm learning the value of friends.  (Seriously, without them I'm not sure how I would survive.)  And most importantly, I'm learning to trust God in new and wonderful ways.  

How is Dennis?

Dennis is mostly stable but recently has been having some pain with movement.  When we set him up in bed or lay him down it is painful.  The hospice staff believe this is from his joints not being moved so we have added some range of motion to his daily care.  This is painful when it is first started but it is not long before Dennis sighs with how good it feels.  Please pray for his pain in movement.  He does not like to take any heavy duty pain medications as they leave him more tired than he already is so we are using Tylenol at this point.

Dennis still enjoys having visitors.  As you can imagine, his days can be long and mundane.  If you live in the area, he would love a visit.  He sleeps a lot in the morning but afternoons and early evenings are often a good time to stop in and see him.  

Prayer Requests:

  • Pain management.  Dennis does not have much pain but when he is moved it is very uncomfortable.
  • Communication.  At times it is frustrating for everyone when Dennis wants to convey something to us and we can't figure it out.
  • Brooklyn.  Please continue to pray for her as she processes all that is happening.  
  • Ellen.  Please pray for good rest and wisdom as I balance my various roles of wife, mom, care provider, advocate...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Rest of the Furnace Story and a Little More

It has been an interesting week or so at the Hierl home.  In my last post I told how God had provided the money for a new furnace.  It was scheduled to go in the Tuesday after Christmas but on New Years day it was sounding very strange.  It was so loud you had to raise your voice to talk over it when you were near it.  When I went downstairs to investigate the noise, I also discovered our water heater was leaking.  It was a little over two years old so I did not expect it to be leaking.  I called a friend and several friends came to check out the problem.  The consensus was that I needed to call the company about the furnace and that the water heater needed to be replaced but since it was a small leak, I should keep using it. 

I called the furnace guys and they were at the house in about 1/2 an hour and after hearing the furnace decided it could not wait until Tuesday.  They came and put it in the next morning.  It is working great and is so much quieter than the old one. 

The water heater was still on warranty so after a call to the manufacturer and a trip into Home Depot, a Friday install of a new one was in place.  After the installation was done I ran a load of wash and took a shower.  I decided I wanted the temperature a little higher so I went to adjust it.  I was greeted by a pipe connected to the water heater spraying water out all over.  Thankfully it was not a huge hole.  I got the neighbor to help me turn off the water.  I called the company and Home Depot but the plumbing company was not answering phones or returning messages.  Because the leak was at the shut-off valve to the water heater we had to turn off the water further up the water line. At this point we did not have water in the house except for the cold water in the kitchen.  I heated water on the stove for Dennis' aides that night and the next morning when they came to take care of him.  Finally on Saturday morning the plumbing company called and came out to fix the leak.  I still am amazed that a plumbing company does not have an after hours emergency number.

I am so thankful for our friends and neighbors who have helped out in these unexpected situations.  I miss having Dennis able to deal with these type of situations. 

Dennis is doing about the same.  In the last several days he has been waking up early in the morning and calling for me.  It is tiring but has also been a blessing as he has been able to say a few sentences to me each day.  He has told me each morning that he loves me.  It has been awhile since he was able to say that so this was very precious.  On the other side of the coin, these interruptions to my sleep are leaving me very tired. 

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.