A Day of Remembering & A Shot of Anxiety


I slept well last night. Maybe to prepare me for today. I don’t know but I liked it.

My anxiety is heightened.  I noticed it pretty quickly this morning.

The dog barking only once. Shrill ran up my neck.

The sudden awareness that my husband & child had left and I was alone in the house.

On the drive to work my struggle was real to contain my perspective.  Switching the songs more times than  needed on the radio.

Continuing to use my peripheral vision on the guy & his dog at the park.

Anxiety and depression are partners. They walk hand in hand.  When one stops the other can easily pickup where his pal left off.

That’s how it is for me at least.

Let’s go back to the car ride to work.

Country music reminds me of my Dad. It was on the radio.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of his death. Blocking the emotions from that day, 3 years ago is normally pretty simple for me.

But not today.

It’s not like I’m not functional. I am. I got out of bed, walked, went to work, and so forth.

There’s just this blah existence in me today.

It really hit me in the car. The point where tears were coming but I said NO! Not today, at least not right now.

It’s the recollection of my feelings from that evening that creates this emotional upheaval within me. Not necessarily that he is gone.  It’s the way it all went down. I really thought I had come to terms with this.

I came home to find flowers from my husband and youngest daughter and a piece of snail mail from a friend.  Life is sometimes really hard and filled with sadness and anxiety.  But the glimmer of hope is still there, it lies within the area around us.  It may not be in our view at the moment but it is  there.

It’s coming back into my view.  Tiny bit by tiny bit.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Yes, probably tomorrow.

Dad & I

Until then,

Julie

Words At A Halt, So I’ll Just Hug


In my life I have one particular small group of girlfriends that I like to think of as my “prayer-go-to-gals.”  They are the first ones I think of when I am in need of a prayer, which by the the way is often.  Whether it’s a joy to celebrate or a struggle of uncertainty, they have my back.  I know without a doubt they will pray.  Whether they do it during their daily devotions or at that very moment real quick-like, I can count on them.  As I hope they know they can with me.

http://www.chaosandlove.com

In this group, I was the first to lose both my parents, not exactly something I wanted to be first place in but hey, someone has to be first!  These ladies rallied behind me, allowed me to write long posts and fervently prayed.  Now as one of the other ladies is in the midst of going through the first days of losing her mother I find myself empathizing.

The thing is although I’ve walked through familiar territory I can’t find the words.  The words that let her know I understand.  The feelings inside me aren’t of me missing my parents necessarily it’s more of wanting to “care for” and almost protect my friend.  No two people are alike and her situation is different but there are similarities.  Mostly just the act of having a parent die.  I’ve seen a glimpse of the road that lies ahead.

I want my friend to know that even though I may not say many words I am praying.  I also have ears open to listen or eyes to read texts and my mouth will be shut.  And if she needs a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, a pepsi, and/or a snickers bar I’m her gal!  I’m only a text away and I deliver!

If you find yourself in the midst of not knowing what to say to someone, just hug.  As you hug, say a quick prayer.  That’s what I did last night.  God bless you my friend.

Julie

The 26th – And how it came and went.


Today marks one year since my mother passed away.  I had a restless night of sleep, by morning my anxiety level was pretty high.  I don’t know if it was due to the anniversary of something so hard or the depression or the fact that I’m traveling this weekend.

I’m heading out to  spend the weekend away from home with some girlfriends.  At the time of scheduling the trip I thought it would be a good idea for me to be away from home.  I still feel that way – mostly.  Honestly I always get anxious about traveling due to a medical issue I have.  I know being away from home won’t make me forget but perhaps a nice distraction and opportunity to relax.

After taking my daughter to school I spent the morning in my kitchen.  As I have stated before, cooking seems to be my therapy.  Maybe it calms me because I can control what goes in when and it can be done in a certain order. All the while anticipating something good coming out of my actions.  I don’t have to talk or feel or think of anything else while pouring the ingredients into the metal bowl.  I even thought of my mom while baking the cake.  It wasn’t sad but glad she was such a good cook and baker.  A gift she shared with me.

The weekend away is needed for more than one reason and I know I will enjoy the laughter, comradity, and memories made with my friends.  Although I won’t be able to control the ingredients that will make up this wonderful time, I can participate with as much as I can muster.

church doors

Written later……

The weekend away was enjoyable and good for me.  I felt up and down throughout the weekend.  I haven’t laughed that much for so long.  And I needed that.  The laughter with girlfriends is so very awesome! Thank you to my friends that spent time with me and also listened when I did share my feelings.

I’m actually publishing this on September 3rd, what would have been my mother’s birthday.  But no more birthdays exist for her.  No more angel food cakes or family gathering to celebrate her life.  I did get to spend the morning with my two sisters and visit with my brother on the phone.  That was a good way to spend my day.  A really good way.

Tomorrow is another day.  Another step forward.  Another opportunity to reach for something better, smile more, laugh alot, and hug those around me.  I’m grateful.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Gathering Afterwards


No one tells you how different it will be.  And if they do, you probably won’t be able to wrap your head around it or believe them. I really didn’t realize the connection that my mother made for me and the rest of my extended family.  A connection that wasn’t so obvious to me at the time but is now upon our gathering together in her absence.

It was the way you didn’t want to leave when we had family gatherings.  Where sitting around her large oval dinner table with lots of food, laughing, and enjoying the antics of a cousin, niece, or nephew.  Or more than likely Mom saying something outlandish, flirting with an in-law, or encouraging a little one to crawl up in her lap.

I can’t really describe it to you.

We’ve had a couple of gatherings since her passing one year ago and it’s not the same.

Even though she may not have been the instigator of the memory made or the antic occurring it was still relevant to the connection of her.  We still laugh together, eat together, and celebrate family moments but it’s not the same.

To be honest, my biggest fear is losing connection with my siblings.  Not the love for one another but the gift that was given to us through being raised together.

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I once had a friend that knew us while growing up and then I didn’t see him for many years.  In conversation all those years later, he admitted that he was always impressed with the closeness/bond that our family had.  Primarily talking about my siblings, my mom, and myself.  I remember stating and thinking that I never felt we had that much of a closeness.  At least not any more than any other family I knew.  That observation from the outside made me feel lucky though. And with the death of both our parents it’s made me realize how true it is.

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Today as I remember that memory I celebrate the extended family that was given to me. The bond created in family isn’t always from joyous moments, dinners around the table, or cheering at ballgames together.  Sometimes it’s created by too much yelling and witnessing bad things or sleeping in a car periodically.  Sometimes it’s from just living in the house together with those that know what no one else knows.

Whatever creates the bond, it’s important to hold on to it.  There’s no bringing our mother back, but I have three people in my life that can remember her with me and who know what I’m talking about when I say I miss her.

Mother and I 2014

It will take all four of us to continue to nourish the bond/relationships and to be an example to our own children.  I pray daily for them and I look forward to the future of our family.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

When You Know What’s Coming – August


It’s here.  Year 2.  The anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I wouldn’t say it’s easier this year but it’s different.  I think part of it is that I know what is around the corner.  Last year I had no clue that my pain in the area of death and parents would become so tremendous. I didn’t know that it would bring me to a place where the darkness could almost win out.

Dad & I
He beat cancer. He was being treated for it in this photo.

This year around the corner is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  One year and nine days after the death of my Dad my mother passed away.  So the days between August 17th and the 26th are ones I am just keeping my head above water so to speak. Oh let me just be honest, the entire month so far hasn’t been easy for me.

I didn’t know that the death of my parents would affect me so much.  I’ve had issues with depression but only once in my life had it ever been at this degree.  At the moment, today it’s been a good day.  I got some very joyous news on the 17th which has kept the darkness at bay. It’s still there underlying but I can function without feeling overwhelmed.  The joyous news doesn’t take away the truth, the hurt, the grief, the depression 100%, but it has brought me to look at things a little differently.  To smile and focus on something spectacular.

Today my dad would have been 77 years old. He died two days before his 75th birthday.  The birthdays have stopped.  The tremendous hugs are gone.  The hearing him tell me I’m “lookin’ good” is only a flicker of memory now.  I have photographs, memories, and time. I’m grateful for the memories and the photographs.

Tomorrow will be spent with extended family.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people that loved both my parents as much as me.  I hope we can remember old times and make new memories they’d be proud of.

Today I celebrate the gifts that my Dad gave me.  Rest in peace.

Grace is a gift,

JulieDad Memorial

 

The Ugly Parts


You know that thing going around Facebook, the Love Your Spouse Challenge?  Well I was cringing every time I got onto Facebook because I figured one of my friends would nominate me eventually.  It happened.  I’m on day 3 by the way.  Until today I didn’t post anything gushy with the picture, just the facts of when it was taken.  In fact, I didn’t get real gushy today but it was more wordy and the truth.  It’s a start, right?

Anniversary Trip ARKANSAS
See a happy time.  I wanna go back. I loved that trip!

Oh sure.  I could have just not did it but then the facade of our marriage might be in jeopardy! The view of my life from the outlet of social media in danger!  Don’t act like you don’t think this way (on occasion).  We want others to think and believe that our lives are beautiful and picture worthy and that the ugly never enters.  It does.  The ugly makes it appearance and it brings you to your knees.  To the point of “get me outta here!”   Which in reality means get in my car, go for a long drive, and turn up some Aerosmith or Zac Brown Band or something of that nature.

Disclaimer here – I love my husband but it takes more than love to make a marriage work.  Divorce isn’t in our language so don’t go telling others our marriage is over please.   Just wanted that documented.

Struggling times, problem times, hiccup in the road times. Whatever you want to call them  – happen in marriage.  It’s the ugly truth and hiding it I suppose is the “norm”, sometimes I just wanna buck the norm!  Sometimes I don’t want to feel alone in this struggle after 13 years of marriage. The frustration.  The loneliness.  The anger.  The sadness.

I’m an expressive person where my husband is not. I don’t necessarily need to share my dirty laundry with the world. Or perhaps I do since I’m blogging here today.  Maybe I’m angry at the world because sharing your dirty laundry is frowned upon.  Then again that would make me a hypocrite cause when I see some of the things posted on Facebook I want to reach through the computer screen and smack the person that posted it!

Do I seem a little feisty today?  Yes I am but it’s milder than it was two days ago I promise. Perhaps snarky is a more accurate word.  I don’t want depression, marriage issues, struggles, and grief to be something that people shy away from when seeing it in others.  I don’t want to feel uncomfortable or have them uncomfortable.  But I am.

When a couple of friends have reached out, I now feel embarrassed and ashamed.  I feel like by now I should have it back together.  That I should be happy with the newer house, the healthy kids, the hard-working husband, the easy job I have, and so much more.

They’re right. I should.  This darkness won’t go away though.   The heaviness that I feel is not dissipating.  Although hearing God’s word yesterday did help.  Then again this morning reading and writing in my prayer journal.  It’s a start right?

Whether it’s depression or marriage issues or work issues or family issues hang on.  If you are struggling out there know you are not alone.  Others in this world are in the midst of something not so sweet and beautiful.  The point is to move forward.  Right now I feel like I’m stuck in a spot of mud but I know in the back of my mind I will get out.  I will move forward to a better day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in an hour.  I don’t know when but it’s coming.

I’m pushing to the light of grace.

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See the light in the corner?  It’s there and I’m heading for it. 

Julie

Only One Post


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Well folks it’s been fun in 2015 hasn’t it?  I mean we have laughed and shook heads in agreement with Honesty Days, touched base with God in the God’s Grace posts, and walked through grieving another death.

I hope that in my Music to my Ears posts you found yourself dancing while reading, enjoyed some awesome stories about adoption, but most of all I hope my writing inspired you.  Inspired you to do whatever God was leading you to do.  Whether it be through an act of kindness, pray with another, speak of His truth to others, or start a new adventure!  I’m so very glad you have joined me in every aspect of the journey.

I’ve written many times about connecting with others.  I know that between us is some sort of device, but I hope that my words have touched you in a way that has brought you joy.  Writing about my life experiences is a way for me to grow, help others, and deal with whatever is at hand.  I feel fortunate to be able to write in a blog setting.

Does this sound like a good bye?  Well,  don’t worry, I’m not. I’m just taking an extended vacation to focus on family, the holidays, and create a new space for us to meet.  I do have an upcoming very special post in December, just one.  Of course it has to do with #pfwg44thbirthday and you will see if I made my goals!

I pray that your Christmas season is a joyous one and that it holds the true meaning of it all.  Jesus Christ.  May you take time to watch the little ones play, sing, and be silly.  May you see the glimmer in your spouse’s/significant other’s eyes once again, and watch the adult children’s life unfold before you.  Hug and kiss the family too much and eat the good food that has been provided for you, and TAKE PICTURES!  Take moments to be generally kind to the clerk at the store, the elderly one, the ones less fortunate, and the ones alone this holiday season.

May we all encompass Christ’s love and share it too much!  God bless you and I will see you in a few weeks!

Grace is a gift,

Juli

Treasures can be Hidden by Despair


I will never taste the Spice Peaches or Macaroni salad again that her hands made.  These are two of my favorite recipes that my Mom made as I grew up.  I remember requesting her to make the peaches for Christmas often.

She loved peaches.  She would eat them fresh with cream on them or in a peach pie.  I love peaches too.  That’s something nice to have in common with her.

When it struck me one afternoon that I would not be eating the food she made anymore tears began to fall.  I clutched the book that held the recipe to my chest and just let the tears fall for a bit.

I can still smell the aroma of spiced peaches and the taste of the macaroni salad with cucumbers.  (Another thing we both loved)  Connection to our past can come in different forms.  Whether it be with food, photographs, a song, poem, or holiday.

 

Craft Projects

Although I wouldn’t want those connections to be gone, sometimes they are hard to handle.  One must not stay in the mode of connection that brings them despair.  If I stay in my grief, the treasure of the past will be eventually be forgotten.  All there will be is sadness, despair, what if’s, or I should haves.

So, when those moments of connection occur, I will allow myself to wallow in them but eventually I will make my way out.  For instance, on the afternoon those tears fell I found my way down a country road.  To walk among the fall foliage and beautiful milo field.  This gave me distance from the sadness, opportunity to clear my mind, and see that the treasure was just that.  A treasure.

I’m not over my mother’s death or my father’s for that matter.  I am just making my way through this journey called grief.  I am managing my life the best I can with the tools provided to me.  I’m not ignoring the past, the grief, or how much it hurts.  I just will not allow it to rob my present life of the treasures that have been given to me.  Having the joys God gave me is not something to throw away by living in the past.

Mother and I 2014

Grace is a gift,

Julie

If I Could Write Your Story


Although I’ve had my share of death in the past couple years of those significant in my life, this post wasn’t inspired by my own experience.  I recently had a friend that lost their best friend.  I was familiar with the friend that passed away and my heart aches for her family and friends.  But in seeing our mutual friends posts on social media my heart has significantly ached for her specifically.  The best friend that now has a large hole in her life.  The one, that had seen daily, texted, worked beside, shared life,  only has an absence in it now.  I pray that she (and the family) can make their way through this journey and look to the day when the resurrection will occur and they can bask in not only their loved ones presence once again, but God’s.

Sunset Kansas 2015 July

If I could write your story, I would.   If I could take all your thoughts, your feelings, your ideas, your journey and place them in something written I’d be honored to do so.  Your story matters.

If I could bask in your presence for just one more day, I’d enjoy it.  I’d take you to the places we loved, enjoy the fresh air, and eat your favorite foods.

If I could bring you joy one more time, I’d do it.  If I could hear your laugh, wipe a tear, hold your hand, sit in silence most definitely I would.

But these things are not possible any longer. The truth is……

Only you could truly write your own story.  The one with the authentic feelings, the honesty and depth.  One that encompasses all that you possessed within yourself. My joy would come from the fact that I would be part of the story.

The presence is no more for us.  Only dim reminders of when you were here, and the memories that are now bittersweet glimpses in my days.  But I will take those memories and cherish forever.

The joy we shared was only a speckle of what is given when we are gone.  When we take that final breath and know that truly God exists.  Where we are surrounded by the best story, the best taste ever, and the best part of our life story.

The days of us being together are over for now.  The days ahead will seem difficult for me, the one left behind.  But I will survive in those bittersweet memories, the delicious food we shared, and  I will continue to write my story.  The one that I know the best.  I’m fortunate too, for you are part of that story.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Honesty Days


Honesty Days

1. When the granddaughter makes a special phone call to me to request your strawberry jam it makes totally made my day!  She’s so sweet on the voicemail!  I love to hear Grandma Julie! 🙂

2.  I was quite surprised at the lack of anxiousness and/or excitement on my first day of a new job.  Almost not feeling much at all.  Interesting. #newthings #makingthemostofit

3. I delivered some flowers to my mom and step-dad’s grave this week that our youngest daughter had picked out.  When I visited, the image of the leaves on the dirt caught my attention.  Fall has arrived and no grass as of yet. It just seemed like a small moment in this journey that deserved mentioning.  I also noticed her headstone has nothing to signify she was a mother.  I never noticed that before this day.

Fall at the grave

4. The absence of my spouse is here for awhile.  Wheat sowing and soybean harvest means that I take meals to the field and that it’s mostly me and the little one hanging out.  #farmwifeblues #farmlife

5. Does anyone else dislike it alot when you go to a seminar come back all excited and then you feel like you stumbled over words to explain it to others?  Ya, me too!

6.  18% of people in the USA feel its important to attend church regularly.  That’s so sad.  Only 18%.  Boy, they do not know what they are missing! Seriously love my Sunday mornings!

7. The question presented to us at the above said seminar  “Would your community notice if your church no longer existed?”  That is one to ponder or instead let’s get off our duffs and make sure our community would miss the church/congregation!  Who is with me??? #missionwork #outreach

Grace is is a gift,

Julie