Five Years

Five years ago today, my world turned upside down. I was in shock that something like that could happen to me. Surely, it COULDN’T be happening to me just ten weeks after I’d FINALLY got married. But it did. Those things don’t just happen to “other people”.

I thought my life was over. After waiting so long to get married, what hope did I have when less than three months later that long-awaited husband was gone? Who would want me now? What point was there in going on? How bleak the rest of my life looked! All I saw was a seemingly endless existence as a widow starting far too early and the dream of children shattered before it started.

I’ll never forget that day…those memories…those feelings…the horror. It all changed my life forever. I’ll never be the same person.

But I’ll also never forget the amazing friends and family that rallied around and carried me for far more than the next few weeks or months. Or the overwhelming global support of prayer, blog comments and e-mails that helped to keep me breathing in the first few weeks. Or the way that people rejoiced when God actually sent me another husband–far quicker than the first one had arrived!

I’m so grateful. I’m so blessed. I would never want to go through it again but I’m so overwhelmed as I think back.

I do miss Steve–but not in the same way anymore. I’ll forever be grateful that he was in my life. I’ll forever be grateful for the way he changed my life and for the people he introduced me to that impacted my life–and still do to this day.

I really struggle to comprehend the difference from then to now in what my life looks like. I have (another) amazing husband. I have been blessed with not one but two amazing, Godly men who have chosen to love me. That is more than some people get and yet I also have been blessed with beautiful children.

I survived and I’m far stronger for it. I hated God and yet I’m still here following Him.

Thank you, God.

A Closed Book

Nearly four years ago, on the way to the river the day Steve was killed, I was reading a book: Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd. After that day, I just couldn’t bring myself to open it or finish it. I’d been enjoying it but I just couldn’t go back there. Matter of fact, I didn’t read hardly at all for ages, especially not fiction–quite a phenomenon for someone like me who needs to read!

As the years went on, I started to think about picking up the book again and also reading the following two in the trilogy. I wasn’t sure how I’d go and I also wanted to read all three back-to-back. All this time, my bookmark (a flier from the CWCI convention I went to just before the accident) had started in that book holding my exact page. Right up until about two months ago when someone borrowed it and I never mentioned to them any significance behind the books.

Being on a roll in reading recently and having being told by the borrower she’d really enjoyed them and I should actually read them, I decided to take the plunge. I went back to the start and began again.

Obviously, the timing was right because I finished it easily. I couldn’t remember my previous stopping point and so there was no “sense of doom” in any way as I read. It was a good, fun read. And so were the other two!

So after all these years, after all this time, I have finally read that book and “closed that chapter”. I’ll never forget the significance of that book but they will no longer jump out at me from my shelf as something I could never go back to.

Three Years, Emotional Triggers & Firsts

I never wrote a three year blog post. I obviously didn’t forget the day but, as Facebook followers would know, I was involved in a two-day trial that spanned the ‘sad-iversary’ dates.Β  That took every speck of energy we had available (and more). I remembered but was forced to focus elsewhere.

After three years, you think you’d be done with all the firsts, wouldn’t you? I certainly didn’t think I had any left! However, I was wrong…

My family came to stay with us over Easter. This is the first time they’ve been able to visit us in our home since my new husband and I got married last June. It was only in the week or so before they came that it dawned on me that the last time my family visited me for the first time in my new home as a newlywed over Easter, my husband died. I knew that was totally irrational and irrelevant but it didn’t stop fear knocking at the door!

I told my husband and he understood and prayed with me about it. He was also sensitive to what was going on over the weekend when Easter did come around. Usually, Easter doesn’t really bother me. The date of Steve’s death and Easter never match up and the actual date always comes first and is passed by the time Easter comes around. This year, I really struggled with fear over something bad happening…particularly that history might repeat, but I was geared up for anything bad. My yet-unborn-baby picked Good Friday to have a very quiet day (naturally) so I was freaking out over that inside too!!

I didn’t let this battle with fear rule me or stop me and we did enjoy having my family stay! There is no doubt, though, that I–and my family–were all relieved when the weekend passed without incident. Another first down, another fear beaten, another victory won…

Two Years

(I'm sorry it's long but can you please read it all? :D)

I can't believe that I'm here. Two years ago, I thought I was going to die from the pain–and that would have been fine with me. Today, I've got the self-preservation instinct back and, each day, life looks increasingly brighter.

Walking the journey, each day was an excruciatingly painful, slow process. Looking back, I can't believe so much time has passed…but I never want to experience that level of pain again!

I really think that the timing of my move is specific and intentional and part of a Master plan. I feel that it's the end of one season and the beginning of another. I'm convinced that I needed to be here for these two years and I'm not sorry for a minute that I stayed or that I bought my house here.

At the same time, I think that there's far more than "coincidence" in the timing of my move coinciding with this anniversary and all the changes of the last few months. I believe that it's the beginning of a new chapter and I'm actually kind of excited to see what it holds!

This town will always have a part of my heart–my husband was buried here–and there are awesome, awesome people here who I love dearly and have supported me phenomenally. It won't be easy to leave but nor would it be easy to stay.

More

Big Moves – Part Two

One thing that's really stood out to me this year is PEACE.

When I said that moving to A-town started to "feel" right, I didn't mention this part. At the time, I was asking myself why that seemed to be such a good thing to act on. I was very aware of the fact that feelings can be deceiving and are not the best basis for decision-making.

On one trip to visit my family, I went a different way and entered the city at a very busy point. Not only was it a busy area but it was a busy time of day and I was not looking forward to the next 30 minutes of driving. Mentally, I was groaning and thinking, "Great, here comes the traffic…" What I FELT at that same minute was, "Ahhh, I'm home." It was the weirdest thing and definitely NOT what I've ever felt arriving in the city over the last 2 years! That has been what I've had when I get within half an hour of my current home. πŸ™‚

I was telling somebody that and their response was, "Sounds like you're at peace about the move." It was like the penny dropped for me. Peace–that was it! My life had been so characterised by anxiety and insecurity that I'd ceased to recognise peace for what it was. Trust me, peace has been a wonderful acquisition. πŸ™‚

One of the books I was reading on hearing God's voice (around a similar time) also mentioned peace as being our confirmation and so that tied in well too. I think what makes it clear to me that it's peace from God, and not me just feeling good, is the type of situations it's applied to. The decision to move wasn't just about everything that I wanted–it also required me to make sacrifices of things I like and places I'd previously felt led to be.

Rather than all the boxes being ticked and feeling happy about that, peace has been like a sense that something is good in spite of having all the answers. I'm seeing this happen in other areas as well. I'm not talking about going against common sense or making foolish decisions haphazardly. However, there are some things I attempted last year that I probably wouldn't have stuck at for so long if I had been looking for peace–because it was missing. However, hindsight is always 20/20 and I guess that's how we learn! πŸ™‚

Anyway, I've had peace about this move, as well as a lot of confirmation–um, does this mean I'm really going to need it later?! πŸ˜‰

He’s Up to Something – Part Two

(Read Part One here)

And the farther on I go / I’ve seen enough to know / That I’m, not here for nothing

Things like this post and all the e-mails that I have gotten (and still continue to get) through my blog from people who I’ve helped by my writing encourage me that I’m not here for nothing. In the middle of excruciating pain, that’s actually not really much encouragement–you know, I just wanted my husband back. When you get to the other side of that agony and life starts to take on a new rhythm, though, it brings some meaning to the loss to know that what you’ve been through can help somebody else.

He’s up to something

Now this…this is the hardest part to start putting into words…

When I was in America, I was trying to use the weeks away to get some dig-in-deep reading done and so I’d really been making an effort to get back to my journey of wrestling with God in a more dedicated way. There was one afternoon where I was laying on my bed, reading or thinking or both, and just started crying and praying. At the time, I couldn’t really have even told you why I was crying. Now, I can’t really even tell you what I was praying. For some strange reason, I never wrote anything in my journal. I wish I had. All I really know is that there was some sense of surrender in it.

For the next month or so, there was way too much going on for me to give much thought to anything else. Early in January, I was facing a crossroad of choice and started praying for wisdom. I knew that I really needed to be picking up my Bible and be reading if I wanted to be able to hear anything, but I hadn’t been very successful in my attempts at reinstating that discipline. I did start to feel some sense of direction and peace in the decision.

Toward the end of January, God used a friend (who didn’t even realise) to spark something in me as far as my relationship with God. I jumped into my Bible reading with a hugely renewed interest and haven’t looked back. The spark was a reason and a purpose–I had something I wanted to look into and learn about. It also sparked heaps of great discussion with my house-mate who “just happened” to be living with me at the right time (it’s a temporary arrangement).

Really, I think it’s a bit of the old snowball effect. Once the ball starts rolling, it collects more and picks up speed. I feel so different. I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of putting it into words still, though. I attempted to share with one of my good friends yesterday in an online conversation and ended up keeping it because I thought it might help me out here. πŸ™‚ I’ve edited out their part of the conversation.

i totally, totally understand. it’s exactly where i was particularly at the beginning of january. and why i started praying about what to do. i was pretty low. well, seeing as i’m actually starting to pray again these days, i’ll be praying for you too. and it is what i’m talking about with startling results. i never in a million years expected things to snowball the way they have [story coming]. i’m shaking my head in disbelief. i didn’t have anywhere i particularly wanted to be and multiple places i could be along with different options and commitments and risks. and contrary to what i’ve been like for the past two years, i have been amazingly at peace in the middle of all this open-ended business which is all currently converging in a hurry. peace is something i haven’t seen for a long time. anxiety characterises my life when it’s in upheaval...

something phenomenal’s been happening in me too. πŸ˜› but that’s a lot harder to put into words. …i’ve been working on it in my blog. it’s hard.Β it’s something that was sparked and has just taken off. i guess it’s timing…all the past two years of searching have been so very necessary…and all of a sudden, something’s been triggered. God really has used [another friend] in part of that–apart from anything they’ve tried to do–but it’s by no means just that…there’s all these threads. threads that i never could have coordinated myself. it’s having a lot of ripple-on effects.

He’s Up to Something – Part One

Still wondering why I’m here / Still wrestling with my fear / But oh, He’s up to something / And the farther on I go / I’ve seen enough to know / That I’m, not here for nothing / He’s up to something

Those are the words in the section of the song I posted which sum up a lot for me lately. They have been going around and around in my head over the last few days. It probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve listened to the song dozens of times (lol) but also a lot to do with how much they resonate with me. God has really been doing something in me and it’s really hard to put into words.

Still wondering why I’m here

So true. I know since I’m the one that’s still here, there’s a reason for that–I just have no idea what it is. Trust me, a lot of thought and journalling has gone into that. For now, I’m just “doing the next thing” and hoping/trusting that He’ll give me a passion for something…put a dream in my heart…help me catch a vision to run with. I’ve always had a passion and dream for home and family. That has never changed but it’s one of the few things that you just can’t knuckle down and do. Only God knows if that will ever happen. All I can do is pick up the pieces and try to see something else in them.

Speaking of pieces…for my birthday, a friend gave me this vase/dish. What it looks like is that somebody threw it on the floor, picked up the kazillion pieces, then stuck them all back together again. When I opened it–in front of quite a few people–I said, “Wow, this looks like my life: smashed and stuck back together.” πŸ™‚ The words just slipped out and I was hoping she didn’t take it the wrong way because I love it. It’s beautiful. It’s full of hope and promise and redemption. I don’t think I’ve ever had a birthday present speak to me the way this one did and still does. From what I gather, she was only thinking that it looked like something I’d like…but God knew.

Still wrestling with my fear

I am. But I have come such a long way. Lately, on a couple of firsts or big steps, I’ve “taken God with me” instead of somebody else or instead of as an extra person. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking people or utilising support and I think God gives us others for that very reason many times. He doesn’t expect us to be super-heroes in the middle of excruciating pain. Now, though, I am so much more stable and stronger. I operate within my everyday life quite ok but outside of those parameters can still be a challenge.

I wanted to start fighting some of these fears head-on. Realistically, I know there is nothing to be afraid of in the situation–it is merely that my mind/body have been conditioned to view them as risk. I’m not afraid of what might happen in the situation, but rather afraid of what will happen if I can’t COPE in the situation. Long-time readers know that is a very valid fear. It’s an old fear but a big monster and a harsh task-master and I’m tired of being ruled by it.

So lately, I’ve done some new things that were huge for me and I did them without another person and/or any backup nearby. And I survived. πŸ™‚ Actually, not only did I survive, I did them well in the moment. That is some kind of elation, I tell you!! One the way to one thing, I was like, “Now, God, you know I’m trusting you solely to come through for me on this. If you let me down, it’s going to be so hard for me to ever contemplate doing it again…” That was the biggest one and I so nearly pulled out, deciding that I couldn’t do it, but He came through for me. The thing with that is it’s broken down a massive barrier now and my success in that one has paved the road for a lot of other firsts, rather than it being a stand-alone victory. There is freedom that comes with that…and the taste is sweet.

[To be continued…]

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