Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I Was Bowled Over with Freaking Emotion, People.

Several people already know what I am about to type out, but it's just so fantastic that I feel like it needs its very own post.

Two weeks ago I woke up with a calm and quiet heart.  I drove up to Monte Sano State Park and sat at the scenic overlook.  I prayed and reflected and praised God for all he'd chosen to show me in the last year.  I did these things because it was the six month mark of my boyfriend's passing.

Before I left my house that morning I decided to grab the handful of letters I have from Richard.  I rifled through the box I keep them in, grabbed them and left.  After my quiet time at the overlook, I came home and began my day.  I was packing to go to Tuscaloosa for an entire week, leaving later that day.  So I would pack some, fold laundry some, work some, clean some etc.  At some point I decided to put my box of keepsakes back on the shelf.  In the midst of trying to find Richard's letters earlier that morning, I had pulled out several pictures, one of which was a photo booth strip that we had gotten back in November.  As I was putting everything back in the box something on the photo booth strip caught my eye.  In red print, at the bottom of the strip, read the words "Use the below code to log in to see your pictures and video."



I started mumbling to myself and scrounging for my computer to type in the website that was listed.  The wheels in my mind were turning as I thought that I was going to be PO'd if it was just like a slide show of the pictures.  And then I finally log in and OF COURSE I HAVE TO PAY FOR THE VIDEO.  Best $2.49 I've ever spent.

And then I got to watch the video I was hoping for.  A video of us in the booth, interacting with each other, figuring out our poses for each picture, not saying a whole lot but laughing together.  It was perfect.  It immediately sent me into a frenzy of emotions.  I literally laid on my unmade bed and laughed.  Then cried.  Then laughed.  Then sobbed.  Of course after I pulled myself together I posted that sucker on facebook so others could share in my joy.

I was so in awe that God allowed me to notice this particular message on the 6 month mark of Richard's passing.  I know some of you may not agree that this was the Lord's doing.  But it was.  It so was!  I don't believe a lick in coincidences because coincidences are just not fun.  Where is the romance, the hope, the intrigue in just a coincidence?  But to think that the Lord decided to give me a nudge of encouragement and the special gift of seeing Richard alive and well on that specific day.  I was bowled over with freaking emotion, people.  That photo booth strip had been on my fridge for MONTHS up until recently.  I looked at it all the time and never once noticed that print.  Sure, I'm unobservant, but I believe it goes much deeper than that.  I was blind to it until God was ready to reveal it.

Friends - I urge you to take a look at the "coincidences" in your life.  Take a step back and spend some time seeing how your life has unfolded.  I hope you know, or will someday come to know if you're not quite there yet, that there is a divine intervention happening in each of your lives.  Of course half the time it doesn't make sense as it is happening...but it will.  A loving God is fighting for your heart and your soul and your attention and he is going to great lengths to make you see him.  Even people that have the deepest of faiths are human and get distracted and put God on the back burner.  So he uses something as simple as red text on a photo booth strip to bring us back to Him.

Open your eyes and hearts and minds.  Don't be afraid to believe in something that you can't always see.  That's what faith is all about. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Will Rejoice Because He is in His Eternal Home.

This morning I woke up, peaceful and calm, with a quiet heart.  I got up early and drove up to Monte Sano Mountain to sit at the scenic overlook.  I wanted some sincere quiet time to pray and reflect; and this is a spot Richard and I had come a few times.  I took his letters with me, read and soaked up his written words.  I was gratefully reminded of what a stellar soul that kid had.  It filled my heart with joy.

I thanked the Lord for all of his mercies and blessings.  I prayed for calm and quiet hearts for all of Richard's friends and family today.  I sat in awe of his creation and in awe of how only God could take a tragic situation, such as Richard's death, and bring absolute beauty from it.  I am reminded every day of this as I witness tragedy after tragedy - death, sickness, natural disasters - and one thing is always a common factor: people band together in times of trouble.  They help one another, they encourage one another, they pray for one another, they do all they can to try to get things back to a state of normal.  What a gorgeous display of community; I have no doubt that this is how God intended to live our lives every single day.

Only by the power of the Lord did I wake up this morning calm and grateful.  So glad I had the opportunity to love and be loved by such a sweet soul of a man; so thankful for all of you that have encouraged, prayed and reached out to me.  What a glimpse of heaven.

Then I came home and read a few sermons on death and felt even more grateful as the ones I "just happened" to read were exactly the ones I needed to see. (Funny, funny God).  "Our sickness and death are sent by the same love that sent us a Savior, and sent us the powerful preachers of his Word, and sent us his Spirit, and secretly and sweetly changed our hearts, and knit them to himself in love; which gave us a life of precious mercies for our soul and bodies, and has promised to give us life eternal; and shall we think that he now intends us any harm?  Cannot he turn this also to our good, as he has done many an affliction which we have complained about?" 

Today I vow to my God to rejoice in Richard's death for I know he has made (and can continue to make) a beautiful situation out of it.  I will rejoice for Richard because he is at peace and in his eternal home.  I will rejoice because I hope to be there with him some day.  I will never stop missing him; but I will continue to rejoice!

Love to you all on this day and every day.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

6 Things I've Learned Since the Death of My Boyfriend - A Themed Post.

It's extremely hard to believe that we will be embarking on the six month mark of Richard's death this coming Thursday.  I've said it before regarding other time marks, and I will say it again regarding this one: it feels like so much longer, and just like yesterday all at once.  The journey to get here has been long and sorrowful, yet healing and hopeful; however, I can still recall every single detail of the days leading up to his death just as if it were yesterday.

So now what do we do? 

Six months is generally a milestone, right?  We often celebrate when babies turn six months old, when we've been married for six months, etc.  But it is certainly hard to picture celebrating the six month death of someone, isn't it?  It doesn't quite seem natural but it is something I will attempt to do.  A celebration of Richard going to his eternal home and no longer having to deal with the horrific things of this world.  It will not be an outward celebration filled with cake, balloons and noise makers, but a different celebration altogether.  A reflective, sorrowful {yet joyful} inspection of Richard's life and how he and his death have affected myself and others around me.  Even through tears or sadness I will rejoice that the Lord brought him into my life and allowed me the opportunity to know him.

So, in honor of our six month mark...a themed post.

6 Things I've Learned Since the Death of My Boyfriend:

1.) If you feel compelled to express words/thoughts of sympathy, whether you know the person or not...whether you know what to say or it.  We do not always know what to say or how to say it, but I assure you, saying something as simple as, "I am so sorry to hear what has happened.  I am praying for you," goes so far.  I've had friends and strangers alike say this to me and each and every comment has been received and appreciated and it has changed the way I have and will approach tragedy.

2.) Being vulnerable is not always a bad thing.  We are often told that being vulnerable is never a good state to be in.  When we are vulnerable we are easily influenced and easily taken advantage of; but it is also a time when we are easily moldable and willing to surrender.  If we are being vulnerable with the Lord and his will for our lives, it is not a bad state to be in.

3.) We should do a better job of attempting to be kind everywhere in our lives, including on social media.  When a mother has just found out that her son has been diagnosed with cancer or when a wife has just lost her husband, the last thing they want to do is hop on social media, possibly in an attempt to distract themselves for a bit, and see hatred, dissatisfaction with worldly things and frivolous complaints.  Of course it is impossible to know what every single person on your newsfeed may be going through at the time we post something, but I do believe we should try to be more cognizant.  Spread as much public love as possible and save frivolous complaints for friends.

4.) If you surrender your plans and ideas to the Lord, he will bless you tremendously.  It is much safer to pray for things acknowledging to the Lord that we wish them only to be granted if it is His will.  When we surrender our control, the pressure is off of us.  God takes that pressure from us and lets His will be done.  It feels like magic as things fall into place and we see that God is working in our lives.  Often times understanding his ways or reasoning is difficult, but when we let go and realize the Lord is in control and he will take care of us, things become clearer.

5.) Keep your eyes and your heart open for things that are unexpected.  I never imagined I would have a boyfriend that unexpectedly passed away.  That, of course, was never in my plan for my life; but the things that I have learned and received throughout this journey have been indescribable (althooough attempting to describe them has been the whole point of this blog...).  This situation has been completely unexpected, yet it has taught me to keep my eyes and heart open for I understand that God isn't quite done with me yet.

6.) Life is too short to hold grudges, bruises and scars forever.  Give those over to the Lord and let them be healed.  Forgive.  Stay cautious, but attempt to forgive.  Life will be gone in the blink of an eye and we may be left behind with barrels of regret.  We cannot control how another person will act, but we can certainly control our own actions.  Do your best to forgive and continue to live.

If you don't mind - please say extra prayers for friends and family of Richard this week.  Love to all.  You are more appreciated than you'll ever know.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"...It was my boyfriend's. He died in January."

My sweet and fantastic friend, Heather (hey friend!), encouraged me today to write a blog post.  "Girl, tell us how you're healing," she said. 

I realize I've been pretty MIA in the last few months.  Relay for Life came and went and I kind of fell off the face of the blogosphere (is that even a word?).  But it's mainly because I've been really focusing on healing.  Processing and rolling through life one miracle at a time.

It has been very rewarding to see how God continues to grow me and my faith during this time.  He's changed me, and certainly continues to change me, continually.  The main thing I've noticed is that my perspective has changed.  Overall perspective.  Things are not so black and white anymore.  I attempt (attempt) to not be so quick to judge these days, and instead try to assess a person or situation for what might really be going on.  Maybe there is something deeper there that cannot be seen at first sight.

I find myself sitting back and observing a lot more than I once did.  I have never, ever been a quiet person.  My grandmother nicknamed me "motor mouth" when I was a child for crying out loud.  I've always enjoyed attention and making people laugh and just being around others in general.  I still enjoy these things, but I am much more content to sit back and listen and take things in.  It's a nice feeling, really - not feeling the need to be in the middle of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

I no longer feel the need to blurt out to every stranger that my boyfriend died at the beginning of this year.  This I am probably happiest about.  I used to find any and every excuse to talk about it.  To tell someone, "Oh, you like the shirt I am wearing?  It was my boyfriend's.  He died in January."  You can imagine how shocking this is for people to hear.  For a STRANGER to hear.  Sometimes I am so awkward.

I am finding myself ready to be pursued again.  Ready for another shot at the sincere and genuine love that I was shown by Richard.  Ready for another man to think I'm the bees' knees.  I think some people wonder if it's too soon for me to jump back out there again.  And I tell them that I don't think it is.  Richard showed me a glimpse of what sweet love can look like and I just want more of it.  I think it's completely normal.

But most importantly - my faith continues to grow.  Please don't hear me say that I have been a perfect servant of the Lord and have loved every plan he's made clear to me.  I've gotten upset a few times at him.  Not understanding what he was doing with friends, living situations, possible opportunities, etc.  WHY NOT GOD?  SEEMS PERFECT TO ME.  I've thought that a lot.  But even throughout these thoughts of anger and sadness, I know in the back of my mind and deep down in my heart that the Lord is protecting me from something that I cannot see. 

I've recently started an online book study with a few friends.  We are reading the book Anything, by Jennie Allen.  A beautiful and accurate quote from it, that completely enraptures me: No matter the suffering she would have in this life, she was praising God for a chance to participate in eternity.


Grieving, healing and growing daily in my God.  Love to you all.