Welcome to Christian Widow's Walk

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for visiting. If you care to follow my story from the beginning, I encourage you to click on the oldest post first and make your way to newer entries. In so doing, hopefully, you will see the hand of God in my healing journey that started in April, 2009.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If I Could Send A Love Letter

Posted May 23, 2010  (One year into widowhood)

It’s hard to comprehend that it has been thirteen months since you changed your address, Bofren. I have gone through a years’ worth of seasons and now experiencing my second spring without you. I know that you would be glad to know that I am doing so much better now, since the first year is behind me. I wonder what your first year has been like, but then you probably don’t have an awareness of time or anything that goes on, this side of heaven. I think that’s a blessing, because it would be painful for you to witness the transitioning all your loved ones and friends have experienced without your presence. I think you would be surprised if you knew the impact you had when you were here and how very much you are missed now that you are enjoying being a heavenly resident! It comforts me to know you are with our Lord and experiencing indescribable joy. Some day, you can show me all your favorite WOWS!

There is only one family that I can think of, who don’t miss you at all! They would be the rodents of unusual size, or the critters (as you would have called them) in the back yard that would have been dead meat a long time ago, if you were still here. I mowed down all the tall vegetation around their front and back doors so they would have no hiding places. Much to my dismay, they come out to sun themselves, since their personal groundskeeper was so kind to give them a better view of the garden. It’s like I put out a sign reading: Groundhog Heaven; Free Food, Coming Soon!

Although my life is very busy, I think about you many times throughout the day. Sometimes those thoughts bring tears, sometimes smiles and sometimes both at the same time. I think about all the wonderfulness of you that I miss so much. One day last week, one of your co-workers came to help me with some vehicle stuff. Of course, we talked about you the whole time he was here. I told him you were “the best thing that ever happened to me” and he agreed with me, that you left a giant hole in our lives. I was able to keep it together pretty well emotionally, until, as he was leaving, he said, “if it will make you feel any better; Buck really loved you!” Through my tears I told him, “yes, everybody knew that!” Your love was obvious to many! I was so blessed by the love you invested! Thank you for loving me so well and so deeply. To have you to love and be loved in return was two of the most precious gifts God gave to me!

If I could talk to you face to face, there are so many things that I would want to share with you right now. I would want to tell you how Faithful God has been to me and about all the love poured out on me by our loved ones and friends and neighbors. Now, more than ever before, I realize how important you were to me and how much I miss the person you were. I miss your friendship and the way you loved and took such good care of me. I also miss worshiping with you and how you were so committed to carving out time for us to have fun together. But, what I miss the very most are your hugs, Bofren! All was right in my world, when your warm embraces consumed me! I’m sorry, but it makes me weep now, as I think about it.

I know someday, I will be greeted once again by your smiling face, twinkling eyes, mischievous grin and the bear hugs I long for! Until that day, I promise that I will go on finding joy and making the most of each day that God blesses me with; living my life to the fullest, as I know you would! I miss you more than I can say, but my life is good, as I look forward to seeing what God has planned for my future. I will always love you and you will live in my heart forever!
Moving forward until that day!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Life Is Difficult (Sometimes) But Good

Posted May 19, 2010 (One year into widowhood)

Many years ago, I read a book titled: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck M.D. His first and memorable sentence reads: Life is difficult. How many times have you and I found that statement to be more than true? It seems that few things in life are ever easy. No big surprise if you have been around more than a handful of years. I don’t think that is necessarily a negative attitude, just a realistic one perhaps.

My Bofren was a very handy person and was always willing to tackle almost any project around the house. He was skilled in many areas of homeownership and had an array of power tools, hand tools and a varied selection of all kinds of hardware. After we moved into our new home in the end of September 2008, aside from planting a lawn and some basic necessities such as installing blinds and curtain rods, Buck was itchy to get started with building his dream garage. He had just gotten it under roof and shingled before his heart attack struck him on New Year’s Day, 2009. Obviously, he had been too busy to get any of his tools and hardware organized in that three-month span, so, his inventory is still scattered amongst the garage, shed and basement.

I have few regrets about my relationship with my soul mate, but now looking back, I really wish I would have spent more time just hanging out with him, when he was busy playing his "Handy Andy" role. I could have learned so much from him, if only I had taken the time and I know he would have thoroughly enjoyed being my teacher. My heart hurts right now as I reflect on all he accomplished for us and for so many others when there was a need. He always enjoyed doing projects for other people, more than he liked doing them for us, as he saw the homestead jobs as self-serving and not as important. He only made them a priority because they were important to me and he liked to keep the little woman happy!

Over the past several months, I have been trying to make our new house more organized and homey. A few days ago, I hung some pictures in my living room and of course made more holes than necessary, because I miscalculated. Then my frustration grew when I hung my ironing board holder in my walk-in closet. I’m thinking it must be part of Murphy’s law, that you are guaranteed to run into a wall stud when you don’t want to and they are never where you hope they will be.
I have recently shared that since Easter, I have not been able to have an “ugly cry”. That was before my Powder Room project.

I consider myself to be of average intelligence and trusted that I could install a toilet paper holder. How hard could it be? I’m sorry to say, I handled it poorly! Just finding everything I needed was trying and time consuming. The instructions called for a quarter inch drill bit and yes some of us read the directions. I’m thankful that I realized they were lying when they said it would take 15 minutes to complete the project; the audacity! The drill bit looked bigger than a quarter inch to me, but I trusted what it read, or at least what I thought it read(with my glasses on).

The short version of my story: drill bit made holes too big, only after the drill died and I had to recharge the battery. Had to FIND larger wall anchors and screws to match, that would work with the new bath hardware. I boogered up the set screw so that now it won’t turn either way. The toilet paper holder is on the wall, but one side jiggles. I had the “ugly cry” and a tantrum to boot, and threw the tape measure out of the powder room in frustration! The 15 MINUTE JOB only took most of the afternoon and so it goes with the inexperienced homeowner.

God wasn’t listening to my prayers that day. I was humbled and embarrassed at my behavior. One of these days, I will learn the lesson He has been trying to teach me for years: perfection is not to be experienced this side of heaven. And that day's lesson: it's okay if the holder jiggles.

So, if you come to visit, and need to powder your nose, be very careful if you examine my work(wo)manship, especially any in my circle, who take blood thinners! The set screw is razor sharp and could prove to be a threat to your life. You’ve been warned! Examine at your own risk! I think I will ask for help the next time or at least have someone teach me to identify the right drill bit. It's not fun to learn these things the hard way, but I am learning and life is good. I am thankful!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Healing Heart

Posted May 2, 2010  (One year into widowhood)

Another “first” is behind me. April 21st: the anniversary of my sweetheart’s passing from this life to his eternal home, came and went without the emotional response I anticipated might occur, as has been my experience for other such days on the calendar. The sadness is no longer overwhelming and although the memories are frequent and many, I no longer feel the intensity, or pay the painful price of having loved so deeply, as I did before Easter. The restoration that the Lord provided early Easter morning (described in my last entry) is still helping me to move forward in my journey of widowhood. I believe my darkest days are behind me now, as I continue to look to the “Son~shine” of each new day.

There have been days when the natural flow of tears showed up again, because of some recollection of my Bofren, such as finding a forgotten photograph or opening his aftershave just to feel connected again. On occasion, I have wished that I could just have a good, healthy, ugly cry like I had grown accustomed to, but it wouldn’t come forth. It’s a strange feeling. My eyes fill up, my stomach tightens and sometimes my body will shake, but the grief won’t come out. I sense the Lord is saying, “No my daughter, I healed your emotions. Your heart is stronger now. You no longer need to grieve so painfully. It interferes with the JOY I have for you”.
After spending the morning and afternoon with Sarah and some of my grandchildren, I headed home and stopped in to see Jessi to deliver a hug on the way. My plan for April 21st evening hours was to attend the Studio meeting, a monthly gathering of artists at a local church. However, God had another plan. The meeting had been cancelled because the art director decided to give birth to her baby instead. Now that’s a legitimate reason for cancellation!

So, I decided to go to the York Hospital to visit my friends in the Open Heart ICU. This visit was very different from my April 1st trip to the unit, (That occasion was pre-Easter). There was a marked contrast this time: no pounding heart or tears to rinse away my blush, as before. One of the nurses asked if my ears were burning earlier in the day, because Buck’s caretakers remembered and were talking about us. Thankfully, more of my favorite nurses were on duty this time and I had a pleasant, emotionally pain free reunion and another divine appointment to encourage one of the staff members. I love when that happens! Few things make me happier than having the privilege of pointing people to the Lord, for whatever their present need might be!

That day ended with a new homeowner skill of changing the battery in my smoke alarm, CO2 detector. I was shaky on this little assignment, because it involved a stepladder, (I have balance issues) and more importantly, because it was hard-wired and the electric wires had a tab over the battery chamber that read: power connected. It made me nervous! Even when I turned off any circuit breakers that might be supplying the electric, the chirping and computerized voice, (informing me of the low battery), went on and on until I figured it out. The annoying, incessant noise was great motivation to push through the fear of getting shocked and restoring the peace and quiet again! I prayed my way through. I think my Bofren would have given me a high five and a “what a woman”, (with that precious sparkle in his eye, that I miss so much), when I was truly feeling like such a girl! These things don’t come naturally. I’ll know better next time! It’s all good and kind of funny to me now!

My first year of widowhood is behind me and looking back I have learned many things. Namely, my God loves me and has gone before me each step of my journey, holding my hand and often carrying me. I also learned how important true love and friendship is! My loved ones and friends have loved me through the hardest days of my life. You know who you are. I pray you all know how important you are to me! My future is bright and I look forward to seeing what God has planned for me. Thank you so much for continuing to care about my journey. God bless all of you!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Personal Resurrection

Posted Apr 20, 2010  (One year into widowhood)

Several weeks ago, I shared that I had discontinued the use of my anti-depressant medication, in order to find out how well I would be able to manage emotionally, without the aid of the prescribed drug. I needed to know how I would do on my own. I really wasn’t feeling depressed while using it. I very quickly realized that the drug had a very powerful effect on my emotions and was doing a great job of keeping me on an even keel. I am very thankful that I was able to enjoy the benefit of using it for nearly a year, for it made a huge difference. Without it, I was pretty much a soggy, tear stained, emotional mess, once the drug was completely out of my system. I was uncertain whether I should start taking it again, now fully understanding that it was indeed making a huge difference in the way I was functioning on a daily basis. I decided to wait, as I didn’t experience any clear direction while I prayed about what to do.

I share all of this, because God did something so wonderful for me, but the before and after contrast is what makes the sudden healing of my emotional state of mind, all the more impressive and I consider what happened to me to be another miracle in my life. God showed up in a very powerful way on Easter morning!

If you have followed my journal very long, you know that I struggle with waking early. Easter morning was an exception! I woke before the sun came up and as I peaked out of my bedroom window, the horizon was just starting to glow with the golden hues of the approaching dawn. I grabbed my camera and took pictures of the sunrise from my front porch. Then, still in my pajamas and bare feet, I ventured onto the icy cold dew on my front lawn to take several pictures of my new home. From the moment I opened my eyes, early Easter morning, I felt good, and just knew the day was going to be wonderful; and it truly was! I knew something had changed; I felt wonderfully alive and had an excited expectancy for what the day might bring. I felt quite sure it was not going to be anything similar to the emotionally painful weeks prior to this exilerating day that was awaiting.

During the holidays, I didn’t go to church on Christmas Eve. I decided that going to my dearly beloved home church on Easter morning would also be too painful without my Bofren at my side, but the desire to be in God’s house was very strong. So, I decided to visit a local church that had recently peaked my curiosity. My friends Judy, Pat and I had visited last month, to hear a guest speaker, who was an artist and writer, discuss his recently published book titled: Finding Divine Inspiration. I was very impressed with the church's focus on the arts, including: the visual arts, writing and photography. Each individual group meets monthly. They even have a gallery where artists are invited to show their work based on a central theme. Four times during the year, they also publish selected work submitted by writers in their artist community, both via their email newsletter and hard copy distributed through the church.

As I traveled to church on Easter morning, I prayed that the Lord would help me to connect with someone and perhaps make a new friend. That didn’t happen during the service, but as I looked around after the service, I saw a gentleman, who looked familiar and soon remembered how I knew him. He had prepared our tax return two years ago. I couldn’t remember his name, but I asked and he remembered working with Buck and I. He introduced me to his family and the Senior Pastor.
I was so pleased that God had answered my prayer in arranging that connection. I left the building, but decided to return to visit the ladies room. While there, I found another familiar face. DeAnne was the Arts Director, who had organized and advertised the program, which my friends and I had attended a few weeks ago. We chatted in the narthex for twenty minutes and she encouraged me to join them for their next Studio meeting. I considered meeting up with deAnne to be a divine appointment and felt that God was clearly leading me to become part of this church.

Although I am very saddened to be leaving my Mt. Zion church family, I'm excited about the inspiration that these groups may inspire in my future. The visual arts group will be meeting on Wed. night this week (April 21st). I hope to be able to attend the meeting. I thought this might be a good distraction for me, considering it is the anniversary of Buck's going home.

I spent the remainder of Easter Day with friends and family. It was a wonderful day from beginning to the end! I continue to be so thankful for what the Lord is doing in my life. I am amazed at the contrast of my emotional state before and after Easter and want to praise God publicly for the precious gift He gave me! Aside from some teary moments now and then, and occasional sadness, when memories surface, I feel like a different person. I feel as though the Lord resurrected me on Easter, restoring me to new life! How wonderfully symbolic for Him to bring so much healing on the most significant day of the Christian calendar! Thank You Lord for Your incredible gift! I pray that all who hear about what You have done for me, will know that Your power and love are responsible for the restoration that is taking place. Thank You for providing all I need to fulfill Your plan for my future. I'm sure Buck would also be pleased, knowing that his Girfren is doing so much better now!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Glimpse Of God's Network

Posted Apr 7, 2010 (A year into widowhood)
I was feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t get to connect with many of Buck’s caretakers last week, when I visited the hospital for the first time since my Bofren went “Home”, (almost a year ago). As I walked the corridors, I pondered my feelings, and then I soon learned why I was there that day. As I entered the atrium area in the lobby, on my way out of the hospital, I heard the piano playing. Sure enough, it was Sydney, the woman I met at the piano last year. She remembered me and hugged me and started to cry when I asked how she was. I feel very strongly that God sent me to encourage her, as she is going through a very hard time right now. She told me she normally volunteered to play the piano on Wednesdays, but last week had switched her day. The Lord has quite a network; I felt especially privileged to be a component that day! I have been a recipient of many of those divine appointments.

Sydney delivered God’s voice of encouragement to me the day I met her last year. As I donned my coat and winter garb to face the cruel weather last January, I lingered in the lobby, as Sydney used her wonderful gift and the beautiful strains of music echoed throughout the atrium. I made eye contact with her as she played and she smiled. As I approached to thank her, she asked if I knew the song she had just played. I told her it sounded familiar; maybe a song I had heard at church. She asked if I worked at the hospital and I told her our story. She lit up and asked if my husband was getting a heart transplant and asked his name. You can imagine my surprise when she said, “My small group prayed for Buck last night”!

While she was at her weekly Bible study, I had called Dave Rahn (heart transplant recipient), whom I had never spoken with before. I was calling to ask if he would consider visiting Buck to encourage him. He had excused himself from his meeting, when I called his cell phone and requested prayer for Buck as soon as we finished our wonderful, uplifting conversation. I was not surprised that strangers were praying for us, but I was blown away by the fact that the Lord wanted me to know it and orchestrated the circumstances to show me His network. He is so good and loves us so much; AMAZING!

As I made my way to the parking lot, I felt lighter and blessed that the Lord would use me as His vessel to bring words of encouragement to one of His own. Sydney just needed a little reminder that her Lord had not forsaken her, although she wasn’t seeing any answers to her prayers. I believe it was a faith building divine appointment for both of us, as it was obvious to us that God had orchestrated our connection once again! That special encounter gave my visit to the hospital great purpose! Thank You Lord, for answering my prayer that morning in such a unique way!
During my time with Sydney, she mentioned that Dave Rahn was not doing well, as it was necessary for him to have another transplant recently and the complications have been many. Please keep him and Sydney in your prayers as the Lord brings them to mind. Many thanks to all my prayer warrior friends!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

More Closure On An April Anniversary

Posted Apr 2, 2010 (11 months into widowhood)

Yesterday had a very emotional start that began with remembering that it was an anniversary of the day that Buck and I returned to York Hospital, after his grueling five week stay at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I decided that this would be the day to go back to visit. I thought the anniversary would make a fitting date to go back; my first time since my sweetheart went ‘Home’.

I was feeling exhausted, but was inspired to bake an Angel Food cake: Buck’s favorite dessert, to bless my friends in the OHICU. My first prayer yesterday was for the Lord to provide the energy to get this cake together and get me out the door and on my way to the hospital, or is wasn’t going to happen. I also prayed that I could bless and encourage someone today. Together, we got it done. Interesting, that Buck’s beloved treat was a heart healthy food, unlike other choices he made in my absence. But I won’t go there now; we all have weaknesses. I just wonder if there is Angel Food cake in heaven? I’m sure anything he is enjoying now, pales in comparison to anything I ever prepared for him!

Just making the trip to the hospital again was difficult, but the Lord reminded me to focus on all the beauty around me. So I enjoyed all the splashes of yellow, as the daffodils and forsythia were plentiful, not to mention the pleasure from the exquisite spring weather!

As I entered the hospital doors, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and sweet treats from the Atruim Café greeted me and I tried hard to swallow the emotion that came flooding in. I was able to maintain until I walked through the Open Heart unit doors. It was then that I could feel my heart pounding as I was greeted with a warm hug from Reanne, the secretary,

Unfortunately, none of my friends were there except Nurse Dwayne, RaeAnn, and Evie, one of the ladies who attends the waiting room. They all made me feel welcome and comforted me with their compassion and tenderness. Hopefully, some of my friends from night shift and today’s beloved staff enjoyed the cake I prepared for them.  Going back was very difficult, as I knew it would be! As I entered the unit I saw a patient in his bed. From a distance he looked a lot like Buck, but my heart prompted me to look away. I knew I would not be able to stay composed, if I allowed that thought any entrance. No one was in Room 10, so with permission, I visited Buck's empty room to deal with my grief: the same room where Buck left us behind to make his grand entrance into Heaven. Even though the room was void of anything that kept my sweetheart attached to this life, it still felt very much like sacred ground! I like to think more closure took place during those moments.

As I was leaving the hospital, I called nurse Dustin, but he didn't answer his cell phone. He told me to make sure I called whenever I visited, because he lives close to the hospital and would come to see me, even if he wasn’t working that day. So the day I semi-dreaded, didn’t turn out as I had hoped, but it seemed God had another plan in mind. In fact, He answered the prayer I prayed early in the day. I’ll share that story another day.

In the mean time, I continue to be so blessed by your interest in my life as I go on without my beloved Bofren, and I appreciate all your wonderful messages and feedback as I journey and journal on. God is teaching me so much as I move forward through this painful valley and I am excited to share those lessons with anyone willing to listen. Most importantly that He is with me (and you) and He is Faithful. This experience has been the hardest situation I’ve ever had to face: life changing, but in some ways, the best part of my life so far! I don’t understand how that can be; I only know it is true. The intimacy I now enjoy with the Lord is undeniable!

I am so thankful that I don’t have to make this journey alone. The Lord provides so much comfort through His presence and your love, concern and prayers. Thank you for your part and Happy Resurrection Day to all of you! He is alive and we are forgiven... if we really understand what Jesus did for us on Good Friday and comprehend what Easter is really all about. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, please ask me. God has offered abundant life to all of us, even in the darkest valleys of life. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    John 10: 10 reads: …I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it ABUNDANTLY.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wake Up Calls

Posted Mar 30, 2010  (11 months into widowhood)

Fatigue has been an uninvited guest throughout this journey and it has been a hindrance to me, making a challenging situation even more difficult. It is hard to recall what an energetic day feels like. There is so much that needs to be done, in addition to all the many projects I want to do, but everyday the energy and motivation elude me.

Until recent months, my daily routine was that of a night shifter… going to bed at 3 AM, but unlike most people, sleeping until 1 PM and often even later. I still began my day with my devotional time and reading the Carepage for that day, which meant that many days I didn’t get out of bed until 3 or 4 PM. The pattern I was developing was ridiculous and I knew I wasn’t helping matters with my night owl tendencies. When my feet finally hit the floor, I started my day feeling discouraged because it seemed my day was already shot. I was also feeling convicted of wasting the precious, God-given gift of time. I sensed that the Lord wanted me to make some changes and He brought this to my attention in a very unique way.

Over the months since my Bofren went home, I have often sensed the Lord’s presence… usually feeling comforted after a good cry, and even more powerfully, through the way His messages speak to me personally during my daily devotional time. This has been a new experience for me and makes me feel all the more certain that the Lord is very aware of our personal struggles and circumstances. It still blows me away, to think that the God who created all things would be so aware of, and care enough to speak to my heart, just what I needed to hear. In doing so, He has not only encouraged me and strengthened my faith, but He is so very real to me, now more than ever before!

In mid-November, something happened that I couldn’t explain. I was sleeping very soundly and was gently awakened by a touch on my shoulder. I’m a side sleeper and felt the soft contact on the shoulder I was resting on. I was not startled by this unexpected experience. I opened my eyes to my empty bedroom. My bedside clock informed me that it was 11 AM. This was not a one-time occurrence. I keep a daily handwritten journal and recorded similar experiences on six different occasions over a three-month span between November and early February. On two occasions, I was awakened at 11AM and the remainder took place at 9 AM. Sometimes, I was alerted by a touch on my hand and once, I was sleeping on my back with my hands tucked under my comforter and folded across my chest. On that morning, I felt the weight of the comforting touch on top of the blanket above my hands. It was a morning that I was feeling somewhat anxious because of an appointment I was anticipating. The message I received on that occasion was: Fear not; I am with you!

I often spend several days with my daughter, Sarah, and her family. Sometimes, I ask Sarah to be my alarm clock and she will wake me in her gentle way by stroking my arm until I waken. While staying in their home, I have stirred in response to Sarah’s touch, as well as being awakened by my four-year-old grandson, Colin. On one occasion, I was touched awake and found myself alone, when I opened my eyes in Colin’s bedroom.

I can picture many raised eyebrows of skepticism in response to my experiences, which I have lovingly referred to as ‘Wake Up Calls’. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if I would share what happened to me over those months. I still can’t explain it. All I know is, these unique incidents have also served to make God more real to me and have deepened my faith in a profound way. I don’t pretend to understand if the touches came from angels, or the Lord Himself! I have received all of this as a special gift from God! I don’t have to understand it; I just know I was greatly comforted by these very personal touches on God’s part, however they were delivered!

I have decided that the Lord wants me to change my ways, so I now set my alarm for 8 or 9AM. This change in lifestyle is a challenge for me, as I still struggle with my night owl ways, rarely falling asleep before 2 AM. I know the Lord will help me make the adjustment in time. I praise and thank Him for getting my attention and helping me through the transition. I know He has plans for me, which I will not accomplish if I choose to sleep my life away. I want to be like Buck and live my life to the fullest!
I would be curious to know if anyone has had a similar experience. Our God is wonderful and good and knows exactly what we need! Thank You Lord, for all You are to me!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

No More Numbness ~ Part 2

Posted Mar 19, 2010 (11 months into widowhood)

In spite of all I shared in my last post, I have continued to feel the Lord’s presence, especially during my devotional time. The Lord’s faithfulness has not lessened in any way. God’s Word never promised happiness or pain-free days. His promise is always to walk with us in each and every circumstance...and He does, as we look to Him for comfort. The grief overflows each morning as I read the Carepage entry and relive those painful days from last year, one by one. The pain is intense, but I’m one day closer to being well again.

If I am ever in your presence and you notice glassy or tear filled eyes, please never feel uncomfortable or at a loss as to what you should say. Words are rarely necessary or even helpful sometimes, but a caring touch, or an invitation into the open arms of a friend is more powerful and healing than you can comprehend.

I am seeking the Lord for wisdom, to know if I should just let the mourning process take its natural course; which is my inclination, with the thought that starting the medication again might only serve to prolong the process. It is my heart’s desire to be whole, healthy and healing emotionally. It is my turn to take “baby steps” pushing me in the direction of wellness, day by day. I know my heart will not always be broken. I can continue to make the choice to choose whatever JOY the Lord has for me today. In the meantime, I feel it is healthy to let the pain out; a necessary part of the healing process. The Lord knows about and records each tear. Tears are a gift!

I have heard a saying lately: “Pain is inevitable, however, misery is optional”. Many of us have our own variety of brokenness. It comes in many shapes and forms. My prayer for you is that you will let the Lord help you also, to rise above your brokenness with His strength and His ever-present, never-ending, unchangeable love for you!

It is amazing to me, how therapeutic and helpful it is to write this journal. I started out feeling shaky and broken, but as I went on, I felt stronger and encouraged. Our God is so good! Thanking God for the gorgeous, sunshiny days lately. Just choosing to enjoy them in my pajamas and holey socks (see my last entry ~ Hairbrushes And Holey Socks)! My love to all of you!
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in Your record? Psalm56: 8
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27: 13-14

Saturday, May 4, 2013

No More Numbness ~Part 1

Posted Mar 19, 2010 (11 months into widowhood)

During Buck’s illness, I called my family doctor to request several medications for myself: one to help me sleep and one for depression, so I could be my best in order to be able to encourage my sweetheart. God provided amazing emotional strength during our journey, but I was weary and not holding up like I needed; desiring to be my Bofren’s cheerleading captain. I continued to use both of these medications until recently. After my weekend stay in the hospital in early December, (due to my strange visual disturbance), I was required to make a follow-up visit to my family doctor. I asked if perhaps we could change my depression medicine, because it didn’t seem to be working as well as it did at first. He thought that Seasonal Affective Disorder might also be playing a part in my condition. He recommended that I double the dosage instead. That made me so jittery, I couldn’t stand it, so I tried one and a half as an alternative. I gave the increased dosage a couple months to do its job, but never experienced any improvement.

I don’t know if it was my own thinking or inspiration from the Lord, but I made a decision to stop taking the depression medicine. I needed to know how I would function med- free and I wanted to know if some of my symptoms, such as fatigue and lack of motivation, were side effects from the drug. About six weeks ago, I called my family doctor for instructions on how to wean myself from the medication. It has been about ten days since I finished the weaning process…and I am an emotional mess, (in my opinion anyway)! I spoke to a counselor friend a few weeks ago, about my decision and she said the depression medications often numb the emotions. I realize now, that I just thought I was dealing with my grief, when in reality, I wasn’t feeling a great portion of it. I had frequent periods of sadness of course, but they were almost always attached to a trigger of some kind; sometimes tangible things and personal belongings… sometimes memories. Photos and music always had the most powerful effect and even more so now after eleven months of Buck’s absence. With no numbness or buffer to shield my heart, the full impact has finally hit home and I feel very sensitive emotionally.

I feel as though I have taken a giant step backwards, because I am finding myself in “pajama days” mode once again, and now my morning devotional time is the most painful, tear-filled part of the day, with daily “ugly cries” and noon finds me drained and emotionally exhausted. My stuffed bear: “Critter”,  gets plenty of use on a daily basis as my tear sponge and today I started wearing my towel around my neck again. In my Griefshare support group, we discussed the fact that it often takes six months to a year for our hearts to catch up to our minds, to adjust to the true reality of the loss of a loved one. Intellectually, we know immediately; emotionally, grace cushions our hearts until we can fully take it all in! We also talked about the fact that the second year is often more painful than the first. I was hopeful that I might escape that phenomenon, but it appears I will be no different.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hair Brushes And Holey Socks

Posted March 10, 2010 (11 months into widowhood)

Many years ago, while in my mother’s basement, I noticed a piece of very deteriorated lace. It was a remnant of what was once a beautiful Victorian wedding dress. It looked more like a shredded, discolored rag than a representation of a special, memorable day. The wedding dress had belonged to my grandmother. The ragged piece of lace was one of the very few things, which my mom had to remember her mother by, because my grandmother passed away when my mom was only five years old. When I made this discovery, I couldn’t understand why anyone would hold onto something that was in such poor, irrepairable condition. Now, I have more compassion for my precious mother’s inability to let go of this sad relic.

When I first brought Buck’s belongings home from York Hospital, I could not bring myself to clean his hairbrush or discard his toothbrush that had stood like a lonely soldier in the stand on his vanity. After a few months, I put his toothbrush out of sight and even now his hairbrush is tucked away, still holding the strands of his hair that I can’t part with. I don’t understand it, but to do so, feels like I’m throwing away a part of him. In my mind, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but my heart won’t permit it! I feel sad every time I have to open a drawer that holds something that belonged to Buck. I know the time will come, when my heart will be healed enough to let go. I never anticipated that something so small would be so difficult.

If you have been following my journal very long, you already know that Buck and I were hikers; even on our first date, when we explored the trails at Skyline Drive. Hiking was our favorite form of recreation, both locally and whenever we went on vacations. Our vacations most often revolved around our hiking adventures in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. I shared that Buck hiked nearly all of Vermont’s Appalachian Trail (AT) miles and it was his dream to hike the entire trail, after he was fully retired.

One summer, we visited Maine to check out the Katahdin end of the AT: the southbound starting point or the northbound through hikers final destination and lofty goal. My Bofren loved to share the memory about the year he neglected to remember my birthday and made me climb Mt. Katahdin on that scorching August day. It was a grueling hike and I confess, my feelings were hurt; but I never let on and did my best to maintain a pleasant attitude in spite of his oversight. He was so excited to be there! I think I did a pretty good job of covering over my disappointment, although I really wasn’t sharing his enthusiasm! 

Several days later, Buck drove to the nearest phone booth (pre-cell phone days) to call his daughter. As they were ending their conversation, Jessi told her dad to wish me a happy birthday for her. As he approached the screen room that protected our picnic table area from the local insects, he stood on the outside and hung his head. With his sheepish grin, he asked: “So, am I in the doghouse?”  I laughed at him and told him I was wondering how long it might take him to remember! He promised to make it up to me and he did. He also made a vow to never again plan a vacation that would include my birthday. I didn’t hold him to that one.

During a shopping trip to a recreational outfitters store, Buck decided to buy two pairs of outrageously expensive hiking socks. My thought was: at that price they better last forever; surely there were pure threads of gold woven throughout! I understood the necessity of having them for the purpose of making his hiking or hunting adventures more comfortable, but I didn’t understand when he would wear them to work and for everyday use. Just like any other socks, these too wore out. I found his holey socks in the beginning of winter and as you may have already guessed; I couldn’t part with them either. Even though they are too big for me, they have become my favorite slippers…I’m wearing them right now. They look ridiculous and I don’t care! They are another unexpected source of comfort to me.

I know these attachments won’t last forever, but for now I am enjoying the memories that they hold and the comfort they provide. It’s okay if some don’t understand. There was a time when I wasn’t able to comprehend such a silly notion. It’s hard to predict how things might affect a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Sometimes lessons in compassion are learned the hard way. Nevertheless, my heart and my cold feet appreciate my Bofren’s holey socks.

There is no timeline or urgency in dealing with all of his belongings. For now, I choose not to deal with it. There are too many other more important issues to consider. I know God will help me when the time is right.

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, …a time to keep and a time to throw away. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4, 6

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Humor Is Healing

In looking back over the months since I have been a widow, I have thought about the things that have brought healing to my broken heart. In addition to the important role my family and friends have played; humor quickly comes to mind. Most often it is delivered through my grandchildren, namely through my five year old grandson, Colin.
After returning from Buck's funeral in West Virginia, I stayed with my daughter, Sarah, and her family for two and a half weeks. Just being surrounded by all that love and the distractions provided by my family and grandchildren were very helpful. My then, 13 year old grandson, Justin, had given up his bedroom for my use during my stay there. Upon waking one morning, I made my way to the bedroom door, just as Sarah was also coming out of her bedroom with five month old Kyrstin in her arms. As our eyes met, my knees buckled and Sarah raced to support me, and guided me back to Justin's bed. I was weeping, in the throes of deep grief, and Sarah and my grandchildren all climbed in bed with me to comfort me. Colin, who was three years old then, studied my display of emotion and didn't understand why Nana was crying. In his little mind, he assumed I must not be feeling well and urgently recommended: " NANA, IF YOU HAVE TO THROW UP, RUN TO THE BATHROOM!"

Colin had his face painted at the circus and was being his silly, animated self for the camera!

Needless to say, the tears of grief immediately turned to tears of laughter and we all laughed till our stomachs hurt. Even now, if I'm struggling emotionally, Sarah, Bob, (my son-in-law), or Justin might get the laughter ball rolling again by simply saying: NANA! in that same urgent tone and the abundant laughter and smiles return.
Colin is often our comic relief, even without trying. He is just a funny character, whose personality is just what I need at that moment. He loves to dress up in costumes and often makes up his own, showing up in ridiculous combinations of everyday clothes . I am inspired to giggle just by his addition of a pair of yellow rubber gloves that I gave him during one of my visits. He wore them to bed one night recently. Watching him, decked out in his jammies and my gloves as we read a bedtime story, attacks my funny bone every time! Justin is also an expert at making Nana laugh. Sometimes, he has no mercy, but I love every minute!
Two versions of one of my favorite verses from the Bible states: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (NIV). The Message, a paraphrased translation of the Bible says: A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone tired. (Proverbs 17:22) Although I have experienced much sadness since my sweetheart was called home, I am so very thankful for the accumulative gift of laughter and the many, abundant sources of joy that God has placed in my life!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


A  painting I did of a favorite camping spot in Vermont helps set a tranquil mood in my sanctuary . 

Posted Mar 4, 2010 (Ten months into widowhood)
Since Buck’s home going, I have been using his favorite Bible. It's a New International Version of The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, which was my gift to him on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. He chose it himself and I had the burgundy leather cover inscribed with his name. He cherished this gift from his Girfren and referred to it (and any Bible he has owned), as his map. I use it each day during my devotional time. Reading the Bible that my sweetheart had used almost exclusively for the past ten years has brought me comfort, because using it makes me feel like my Bofren is still with me, teaching me what was important to him. Like myself, Buck liked to underline and highlight passages that were meaningful to him. Leaving his marks on it as he did created a precious memento and tangible symbol to commemorate his love for his Lord and was indicative of the personal relationship he had with him. Buck left behind one of his most prized possessions and now I benefit from the time he spent within its’ pages! So, needless to say, it is a personal treasure to me, especially when I come across a note in his handwriting!

The void and brokenness that Buck’s absence has created is bigger than any family member or friend can fix, although they do a great job of comforting me whenever I am with them. However, the Lord is filling the gigantic hole in my heart with Himself. He accomplishes this most often, by a sensing of His Presence during my devotional time each morning. So frequently, I feel as though the subject I am reading about, was tailored just for me, so much so that it makes me weep, as the realization strikes me that the God who created the universe knows what I’m feeling and provides just the words of encouragement I need to hear. This has become my favorite part of the day!

Very rarely does a day go by that I don’t sense the Lord speaking directly to me through His Word or through one of the devotionals I’m reading. Never before have I experienced His love and grace like now; but then again, never have I dedicated and set aside this special time to give Him or myself the opportunity to communicate so intimately. I have been greatly blessed by this new discipline and the harvest of spiritual growth that this special time together has yielded. I think this is a season of special grace that the Lord is showering upon me right now as I walk closely with Him as a widow.
I have chosen my bedroom as my place to meet with the Lord each morning, and before I go to sleep at the end of my day. I think of it as my own personal sanctuary. The dictionary defines sanctuary as a sacred place or holy place of refuge. Some synonyms would include comforting words such as: protection, haven, retreat, and a shelter from danger or hardship. Buck’s side of the bed now houses his Bible, my collection of devotionals and my daily journal. The atmosphere is very calming and soothing as my room still has white primed walls and my bedspread and curtains are my favorite shade of blue. My newly named stuffed bear, Critter, lives at the center of the head of my bed, within reach to comfort me whenever the tears come.
At the head of my bed hangs a painting I did about five years ago of a special spot in our favorite campgrounds in Vermont. When I’m sitting in my bed, I face a much-loved wedding gift. It is a piece of artwork, a print of a drawing of Jesus holding a lamb, snuggling contentedly on His shoulder. Whenever I’m struggling emotionally, I like to think of myself as the lamb in the Lord’s arms and my Peace is restored once again. I am so thankful for the peaceful setting the Lord and my Bofren provided for me. It is truly a haven of rest!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A World Of White Winter Waves

I was saving this reposting for a snowy, wintery day, but it never happened. I was very thankful that the "blizzard  conditions" that were predicted last week never materialized. Since spring is just around the corner, I decided to send this out, before the first day of spring arrives next week. This was my most challenging winter weather event since Buck's home-going. It took place the first winter after his passing. It is another story of God's faithfulness.

Wintery view from the back of my home

Posted Feb 8, 2010 (Ten months into widowhood)

As I sip from my hummingbird mug full of hot coffee, milk and a generous sprinkling of Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix (who needs Starbucks?), I enjoy my homemade gourmet beverage and contemplate the beauty of the season. As an adult, I find encounters of a snowy kind to be a challenging love-hate relationship. Buck had no problem dealing with the elements, being the rugged outdoorsman that he was. In fact, I think he enjoyed the challenge and adventure of it all. It also gave him the opportunity to help other people who couldn’t or shouldn’t be moving snow around. He had a huge servant’s heart and few things made him happier!
But now, snow removal is my responsibility and thankfully, God had mercy on me and gave me wonderful neighbors to help me when the storms come. On Saturday afternoon, my neighbor, Mark, plowed my driveway with his Bobcat, and taught me how to use my snow blower. Mark was very patient with me and stayed until I had the hang of how to operate it. Maybe I’ll be a little more self-sufficient, when the next snow arrives. I thought it was kind of fun, aside from getting a frozen face and hands. I finished up just as the sun was setting and stopped long enough to take some pictures of the awesome, unique snowdrifts in my yard.        
You might remember that my Bofren described me as “being like a cat…loves staying close to home”. Yes, that would be me. Cold winter weather makes me want to stay inside and hug the stove (figuratively), and drink lots of hot liquids. On one hand, I hate being cold and I’m not fond of all the extra work a snowstorm generates. Nevertheless, I can't overlook the amazing beauty that a significant snowfall produces!
As I reflect upon the ocean of white that surrounds me, I ponder the sheer raw beauty and aesthetic value. This kind of setting grabbed my attention, long before I understood what the word aesthetics meant. I recall how, even as a little girl, a fresh covering of snow would fascinate me. Just like other children, I looked forward to all the fun we would have sledding, creating snowmen and building snow forts and igloos, but even then, there was a part of me that didn’t want to break the new layer of snow. That part of me has never grown up, as I will still go out of my way to keep my environment as intact and unbroken as possible.
I never realized just how important this is to me until just before the pending storm was due to arrive. As the dark clouds gathered, I noticed a task I had ignored for a couple weeks. While being away from home, we must have had a very windy day, which yielded lots of branches on my lawn and in my driveway. As it started to snow, I decided I needed to pick them up or my view would be spoiled, if there were branches sticking up out of the snow everywhere. Of course, I’m feeling pretty silly now, as obviously no limbs would have shown through, but I wasn’t willing to take that chance. Funny, the things that motivate me!
As I observe this winter wonderland, I question what is it that is so appealing about an undisturbed blanket of snow? Many descriptive words come to mind: lovely, pure, pristine, perfect, peaceful, unspoiled, fresh, tranquil, newness, seamless; covering over everything undesirable and ugly. It occurred to me that this is also a beautiful word picture for how our Heavenly Father sees us, when we make the decision to accept His precious Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior. In so doing, we acknowledge that we know we all have a history of wrong doing, short coming and sin.

I once heard sin defined as missing the mark, such as the bull’s eye on a target. The target that all of us miss is our Heavenly Father’s standard of perfection. His holiness cannot tolerate sin. That’s why His amazing love for us cost Him the life of His Son, who was the only sinless person who could pay the price for our sin and was willing to sacrifice His life to do so. That’s what salvation is: a gift from God that we can accept or reject; a concept simple enough for a child to understand. We need only accept His gift, agree that we are all sinners, and believe that Jesus died for us, was buried and that God raised Him from the dead. This is very different from thinking we can earn our way into heaven, or believe that surely our good deeds outweigh the wrong we have done. The truth is we can never be good enough. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23-24
As I walk this journey of grief, since my sweetheart was welcomed into his eternal home, the Lord has given me a new passion to share my faith and also the desire to share all that He is teaching me during this difficult season of my life. I have believed since January last year that many more people would be in heaven because of my Bofren’s journey. I still believe that with all my heart. I pray that you will also see the beauty of this word picture as an inspiration from Him for all of us. The desire of my heart is to have painted a beautiful picture of God’s amazing love and grace. I leave you with His words to ponder: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” Isaiah 1: 18

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bear Hugs

Critter Stands Ready

Posted Feb 23, 2010 (Ten months into widowhood)

When Buck was in York Hospital, he and all the Open Heart ICU patients were given Heart Bears. They were specially designed bears called Cough Buddies, to hold against their chests or abdomens after a heart or abdominal surgery. Holding pressure against their incisions would help alleviate pain whenever they coughed. To my knowledge, my Bofren never used his, maybe because of all his monitors and life support machines attached to him.

This odd shaped bear came home with the rest of Buck’s belongings after my sweetheart was called to his eternal home. For many months, the bear decorated a chair in my bedroom. In January, I was having a really hard day and spotted the bear from across the room. I don’t know why I did it, but I picked up the bear and held it tightly against me. I was surprised by how firm and lifelike it felt and was strangely comforted by holding the bear in my arms. As I closed my eyes, it felt as though I was hugging a person; which was just what I needed at that moment. The bear now stands ready on my bed and has become a sponge for my teary moments at home. I never would have thought that an inanimate object would be of any benefit to me. I was very wrong, but so pleasantly surprised by learning from my own experience. I’m so glad I listened to that small voice in my heart. I truly never anticipated such a satisfying feeling and I’m not ashamed to admit how comforting it is to hold onto that silly stuffed animal.

Sometimes, when I stay overnight at my daughter and son-in-law’s home, I share a bedroom with Colin, my four-year-old grandson. During a recent stay, I noticed a baby doll on the floor and asked Colin if his dolly ever slept with him. He said, “Not too much, but Toby  (his small stuffed bear) sleeps with me a lot”! I told Colin that I had a bear too! Colin’s response was, “What you’s bear’s name, Nana”? I replied,” You know Colin, my bear doesn’t have a name. I’m going to have to think about that”. So, I have tried on many a name for my bear. The name I settled on was "Critter", in honor of my Bofren’s reference to most animals as critters. Notice the small red heart on his paw. That just triggered another memory.  Buck often said: “I need to wash my paws”.

I don't want to suggest that hugging my bear can compare to hugging a person; but I can’t deny that it makes me feel better to hold it against my heart! I have no memories of a childhood attachment to any stuffed animals, but now I am inclined to think that little children have the right idea and are smarter than us grown-ups sometimes.
God knew my need before I did and this Heart Bear was ultimately intended for my use to help alleviate some of the pain from my broken, but healing heart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day Blessing

Posted February 14, 2010 (Ten months into widowhood)

In a recent post, I shared that much to my surprise, my thirty-five year old Christmas Cactus bloomed for the first time this holiday season. What I neglected to point out was that I also have a second-generation cactus that I propagated about four or five years ago.  I had accidentally broke a lot of pieces off the “old timer” while transporting it in my car. After posting about God’s Christmas gift titled, “A Christmas Miracle”, I noticed that the “old timer’s kids” were just starting to show signs of new growth. I thought the timing was somewhat unusual. It is a Christmas Cactus after all.

I have watched with excited anticipation as the buds developed. This time there were only three blossoms, which I sensed might be symbolic; perhaps to represent the Trinity. When I woke this morning, I was delighted to see that the first of the three blossoms had opened to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day! Again, I have decided that this is no insignificant coincidence, but rather another precious gift from God to help make it crystal clear that He knows all about me, hasn’t forgotten me, and He and my Bofren wanted to bless me on this day God knew would be difficult for me! I think the Lord and I will have another candlelight dinner to remember my sweetheart tonight!

This flower from heaven made me feel very much loved, as does your continued support and concern in following my journey! Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blessed By Griefshare

Posted Feb 2, 2010  (Ten months into widowhood)

In September, I started attending a support group called Griefshare. It was a 13 weeks program facilitated by two precious ladies from Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, Md.: my home church. At first, I thought that our support group was unique to my church only, but I learned that Griefshare is a program available in many locations nationwide as well as internationally.

The group’s program consisted of a weekly video seminar featuring personal stories of people who were grieving the death of a loved one and expert insights on topics important to grief recovery. The video was followed by a discussion time, to talk about what we had just seen, about our discussion questions, and whatever was on our minds and hearts; while all the while being pampered and showered with Lorraine and Jamee’s wonderful hospitality. I looked forward to and enjoyed my Monday meetings and learned so much about the grieving process. For example: what was or wasn’t normal and that I could expect my emotions to be unpredictable and sometimes surprising in their level of intensity. It also validated everything I was experiencing and I found that to be very comforting and helpful. In addition, I enjoying the new friendships of people who were also learning to cope with their losses.

One of the most beneficial things I came to understand was that there was no getting around the process. Going through the grief was the only healthy way to face my loss. Any attempt to not deal with the painful emotions as they surfaced would only delay the healing that needed to take place. This was one time that procrastination was not an option, if I wanted to get better and fully participate in my life again. Sooner or later, the emotions would come out. I decided that sooner sounded more favorable.

We talked about how to cope with the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other significant days. I realized that I would need to create a new normal, but observe that although there were many painful moments, my life was still so good! My reality was forever changed, but I had to make the decision to recognize all the blessings that surrounded me. Otherwise, it would be very easy to get stuck in grief and just survive, instead of appreciating all my numerous blessings and living the full and precious life that God has planned for me. I realize that this process is normal and necessary and may take a long time, but I definitely don’t want to stay where I am emotionally and I’ve decided that facing my grief head on would be the best way for me to work through my feelings.

I know I can not accomplish this in my own strength. Never have I been more dependent on my relationship with my Lord than I have been since New Year’s Day last year. Nor have I ever enjoyed such a sweet, authentic time of closeness and sensing His presence. In my heart dwells the understanding that time does not heal all wounds; Jesus does. Lorraine (our facilitator) made it very clear early on, that without the Lord, she and the Griefshare experience had nothing to offer us. My participation in Griefshare had a significant impact on helping me to cope with my grief and I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is dealing with the loss of anyone important in their lives, be it a spouse, parent, child, sibling, relative, or friend. Attending Griefshare is one of the most important things I have done for myself to keep me moving forward and I am so thankful for the time that Lorraine and Jamee invested on my group’s behalf.

I know I will not be traveling this road alone. The Lord has been so faithful to strengthen me each day, providing the grace to get through TODAY, just as He has promised He would. I am still so blessed to be surrounded by so much love from all of you. Thank you for your caring support as I travel on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Christmas Miracle

Posted Jan 29, 2010 (My first Christmas season as a widow)

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore, my family never had any gardens or houseplants, so, I had zero experience with raising anything green. When I was twenty, I moved to Whiteford, Md; and pretty quickly took on the identity of a country girl. I planted a huge vegetable garden and learned to can green beans, tomatoes and peaches and also educated myself in the domestic art of jelly and jam-making from the wild berries I picked along the roadside.

Slowly, I accumulated a variety of houseplants, usually propagated from cuttings from my friends. Among those plants was a Christmas Cactus that I have nurtured for over thirty-five years now. I learned by trial and error and murdered many a perfectly good plant!

I lived in a wooded area, so the light availability was not desirable for sun loving plants. If you mix in my lack of experience and knowledge, complicated by not having the best of growing conditions, you get spindly, struggling plants. It was survival of the fittest and that’s what my Christmas Cactus proved itself to be. It adapted to its’ low light environment and never really grew very much; it just survived… for twenty-five years.

When Buck and I married, I became a Pennsylvanian, moving to the A-Frame house that he built not far from the Md.- Pa. state line. This environment was better, but still not ideal. While visiting a friend of Buck’s, I noticed that they had their Christmas Cactus outside where it could get rained on. That got my attention. Then, Buck’s Mom gave me a book on houseplants and I was shocked by what I learned! All those years, I was under the false impression that my cactus required very little water. I didn’t realize that it was a succulent and not a true cactus, and needed so much more water than I had provided. I had been unknowingly guilty of cactus cruelty. Not only had it been light deprived, but the poor plant had been thirsty for over TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! When I started watering it properly and moved it outside onto our porch in the summer, it started to grow again. I was thrilled!

After we married, we acquired what I thought were two more Christmas Cacti, but they bloomed faithfully every year at Thanksgiving. Although the original cactus thrived, it never did bloom in the ten plus years that it lived in our home in Airville. While we lived in our camper for eight months, building our home, all our house plants and furniture lived in our neighbor’s basement, and it was fun to witness the transformation that took place introducing our plants to much better living conditions, when we moved into the new house. Our first autumn season in our new home brought numerous blossoms on the two Thanksgiving plants, while Buck was in West Virginia for his annual three week hunting get away. All three plants had been subjected to the same conditions and level of attention but still no blossoms on ‘the old-timer’. This has always been a disappointment to me.

When I had my candlelight dinner with the Lord on Thanksgiving evening this year, the twin cacti were radiant with pink blooms and added lots of color to my dining room. Now, imagine my surprise, when I noticed that the ‘old-timer’ also had signs of new life on the tips of some of the leaf ends, as the twins were finishing their showy display! At first, I wasn’t sure if it was just new growth, or if indeed, this living object I had nurtured for so long, was going to come to life with a flashy demonstration of colorful flowers, just in time for Christmas!!!


       A Christmas Miracle: The 'old-timer' blooms for the first time in over 35 years!!!

The "old timer" started blooming around December 20th, so I was concerned that I would miss the long awaited treat, while I was away from home spending the holidays with my family. After returning from my twelve-day stay at Sarah and Bob’s home on January 5th, I thought it was likely that I had missed the show. Much to my delight, only three blossoms were spent! Not only did I not miss the show, I am very excited that the blossoms are still coming, with six flowers still remaining! I LOVE IT!!!

I don’t believe that our loved ones can look down on us, once they have left the reality they knew here on earth, but I do trust that my sweetheart has face-to-face contact with the Lord. Consequently, I wonder if perhaps Buck made the request to bless his Girfren in such a unique way! I have received this wondrous, timely gift, as a Christmas surprise from my Bofren, or maybe a precious present from the Lord, just for me! Either way, it is a Christmas miracle I will never forget!!! The Lord and my Bofren both knew what JOY this would bring to my heart!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First Christmas Without The Papa Bear

 Posted Jan 21, 2010  (First Christmas season without my sweetheart)

Sarah told me she was glad I was not with her family, the day they went searching for their Christmas tree. They always go to a nearby tree farm to find the perfect live tree. Sarah said she was taken aback when she noticed the driver of the tractor that was following behind their hay wagon. The driver was a husky, broad shouldered man wearing a Carhart jacket, baseball cap and sporting a full, light gray moustache and beard. From a distance, this gentleman could have been my Bofren’s twin! Seeing him had a powerful effect on my 13-year-old grandson, Justin. Sarah said Justin’s eyes were tear filled and she, herself, had to look away, so she wouldn’t be overcome with emotion, because of this man's striking likeness to her beloved Papa Bear. I’m thankful that I wasn’t part of that family outing. Seeing a Buck look alike might be more than my heart could handle right now.

We all knew that this Christmas season would be very different and difficult and really didn’t know what to expect, so we decided that I would stay with Sarah’s family starting on Christmas Eve. Sarah and I had discussed the possibility of going to a church nearby for a candlelight service, but I knew I wasn’t up to it and there was still much to do to help prepare for Christmas Day.

My plan had been to spend five days with my family and head home after a doctor’s appointment on Monday. After three very full days of visiting with my family and extended family, I had nothing left in my energy bank and had to cancel my doctor’s visit and ended up staying another week in Sarah and Bob’s home. It hadn’t dawned on me how much I would need their love and support as the New Year rolled in, marking the first anniversary of the beginning of our new challenging journey. Just like all year long last year, they were there for me again when I needed them the most.

Spending nearly two weeks with Sarah and family was just what I needed. It was very painful at times and the absence of Buck's presence was felt very strongly by all of us, but in some ways it was one of the nicest Christmases I've ever had. In keeping everything so simple, though I often felt sad, it was the least stressful Christmas season I can remember. For the first time in my life, I was able to spend time focusing on the true reason for the season, and I think my Bofren would really like that!


 Breakfast Crepes With The Fam Christmas Morning: Kyrie, Sarah, Justin, Colin and Bob