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Hoping in the Shadows CV Lay-off Week 8

Hoping in the Shadows CV Lay-off Week 8

The first year after we lost Justin, we walked through a series of trials that left my head spinning. The air conditioner stopped working mid-summer; our car broke down, the garage door malfunctioned, and the fridge was leaking. My final tipping point was when I walked into the garage and found a pool of water coming from our water heater. I walked right back into the house, locked myself in the bathroom, and cried, “How long, O’ Lord, will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1a)

Earlier today, as I was shampooing the carpet, I remembered how, in my early days of grief, my mind played in a continuous loop. Oh, how I wished. I wished I would have stopped Justin from going to the lake. I wished I could have somehow known it was my last good-bye, and I love you. I wished I could take away my children’s pain. I wished with all of my heart that I could change our reality. 

Lately, a similar train of thought has been running through my mind. Tim’s was furlough began almost eight weeks ago. Today, the travel industry is down by 96% from this time last year. The possibility of him returning to work at the end of June seems very unlikely. I long for normalcy, for Tim to be back in his home office on a call helping a client. I wish for a different reality.

Pilgrimage of Trust

Pilgrimage of Trust

A few nights ago, I found an old journal from the year 1991. My first entry included the details of a God orchestrated event that still leaves me in awe today. I, at eighteen years old, was a young Believer; and unlike the majority of my peers, I had no plans for the future. For months, I sought the Lord each night, asking Him to show me my next steps. His answer would come the day after I graduated from high school.

Early that morning, I received a phone call from my pastor, asking me if I would like to be a summer intern with a ministry based in Mexico. My job, he said, would be to help church groups coming from the states build houses for families in need in the heart of Mexico. If I were to agree to go, I would need to be ready to leave in three days. When I inquired about the financial aspect of the summer, I was dumbfounded when my pastor told me that our church was paying for everything. 

Without a doubt, I knew this opportunity was my long-awaited answer. Three days later, I was on my first plane ride donned in my blue jean overalls and a straw hat with a big floral bow attached to the side. And that right there was where the cuteness ended because the rest of the summer was one of the most exacting experiences I have ever faced.

Walking Forward in Grief CV Lay-Off Day:45

Walking Forward in Grief CV Lay-Off Day:45

We celebrated Luke’s ninth birthday last week; his big birthday wish was to go camping. Tim and I have camped in the past, long before we met each other. But we’ve never gone camping together as a family. When we moved back to Arizona four years ago, learning how to camp was on our bucket list. But, after losing Justin, our family went into survival mode, and that bucket list went on the backburner. However, the more we thought about Luke’s request, the better his idea seemed to us. We needed a change a scenery.

After much preparation, we headed out on the open road, late Friday morning. Our destination was a State Park on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. Google said it would take 3.5 hours to get there; it took us much longer. It was a long, slow ride through mountain roads with hairpin turns of which I am not a fan. And then, as we were entering another canyon out in the middle of nowhere, our check engine light came on. After finding a safe place to pull over, Tim got out, popped the hood, and couldn’t find any glaring issues. Once back on the road, we eased down the mountain terrain until we reached the next city, which was about 60 miles away. In the meantime, we prayed for safety, and I tried in vain to get a signal on my cellphone just in case we needed to find alternative lodging.

View From My Window CV Lay-off Day: 39

View From My Window CV Lay-off Day: 39

When I was a young girl, I often sat in the backseat of our car and gazed out the window. I wondered about other people’s lives in the car traveling down the road next to me. In 15 seconds, imagined what their homes might be like, how many kids they had, and contemplated what problems they might from day-to-day. 

Last week, a friend invited me to a new Facebook group called “View From My Window.” The group compiles more than two million people from all over the world. The idea behind the group is to help people know that they are not alone. The members share a picture with a view from their window; they include the country they’re in and the date the photo was taken. Often, an individual will share a little of their story with their picture-these are my favorite posts to read. 

It’s been quite a journey looking through another’s lens, and getting a glimpse of what life is like in diverse places that I will likely never visit. I am gobstruck by the fact that the entire world is on hold, sheltering in place; it’s unprecedented for our time. 

Seeing God’s Faithfulness in my Journey to Wellness

Seeing God’s Faithfulness in my Journey to Wellness

One Sunday evening, thirty-three months ago, I made my promise to my son Justin to get healthy. Six days later, we lost him in a car accident.

Around our first Christmas without him, I started to feel sorry for myself. My friends were posting pictures of delicious holiday foods, and I longed for that familiar comfort. But, after years and years of going through various diet cycles, I knew those specific edibles were off-limits to me. Because when it comes to sugar, my self-control vanishes.

So, I got the idea to start an Instagram account to keep myself accountable to my promise. Do you know what I never expected? Freedom. Although I prayed to be free from my enslavement to food, I’m not sure that I thought freedom was possible. Food and I go way back; I remember finding creative ways to sneak and consume sugary treats as early as four and five years old. As a parent, I see that some of that is typical behavior. However, over the years, sugar became all that I wanted; it was my comfort.

Since I eliminated sugar before we lost Justin, it wasn’t an option for comfort after we lost him. I see it as one of God’s kindest gifts to me; because it forced me to turn to Him in my most profound anguish. Initially, It was scary, kind of like how you feel when the GPS suddenly disconnects when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Well, in the same way, this was a road I’d never traveled. Would God meet in my pain? And, how could I possibly feel the enormity of such loss without reverting to my former ways of coping?

Forget Not, Even When It Hurts CV Lay-Off Day:35

Forget Not, Even When It Hurts CV Lay-Off Day:35

y heart has been in my throat most of the day, and it took me until dinner to pinpoint my angst. I miss Justin. I still find it nearly impossible to understand that he is gone fully. This morning as I walked, I was grateful for the empty sidewalks that gave me the freedom to allow fresh tears to drop without inhibition.

I guess in hindsight, that should have clewed me that this might be a tough day. But, the thing about grief is that, sometimes, it’s sneaky. It clouds your mind with countless unintelligible thoughts while stealthy depleting your energy reserve. And, grief, coupled with the added stress of Tim’s now extended lay-off, has me feeling a smidge undone. 

One of the most impactful lessons I am learning since losing Justin is how to lament and simultaneously remember God’s character. In my “before,” I did not want to sit in my heavy emotions and wait for God to comfort me. Instead, I skipped the lament and eased my ache on my own terms. But, after losing my boy, the previous coping practices that I honed so well were inadequate in the face of such anguish. 

An Update CV Lay-Off Day: 33

An Update CV Lay-Off Day: 33

Today, we got word that Tim’s company extended his furlough. Initially, their goal was to bring everyone back on May 14th; now, they are hoping for June 30th. The travel industry has taken a hard hit, so this turn of events is not shocking. Even still, it is not the news we were hoping to receive.

For the last few days, I have been camping out in Ephesians 6:10-20. Today, verse 10 especially caught my attention.

When Mama Loses It CV Lay-Off Day:32

When Mama Loses It CV Lay-Off Day:32

When I was a new mom, I promised myself that I would not use the term, “shut-up” when disciplining my children. And then, one day, I took Justin and Sarah to ROSS; they were probably around six and four years old at the time. As I turned for a quick second, Justin and Sarah decided that it would be fun to hide in the middle of the racks of clothing. When I turned back around, they were gone. My heart dropped as I called their names until I heard a familiar giggle. In the blink of an eye, my fear turned to anger. I grabbed my purse, took their little hands, and marched them directly out of the store and to the car. As I worked to buckle them in their seats, they began to protest and whine. I slammed their door, got in the driver’s seat, and shocked all of us when I yelled, “SHUT-UP!”

I was devastated. I did exactly what I didn’t want to do;

When We Don’t Understand CV Lay-Off Day:30

When We Don’t Understand CV Lay-Off Day:30

About a year ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I read a headline from a social news site about someone’s child dying. I made the mistake of reading through the comments, and I’ll never forget the woman who wrote, “Well, I pray for God’s protection over my children every day.” I thought about writing back, “Well, so do I, but sometimes God has a different plan.”

The day we lost Justin, I prayed for him and his safety. I asked the Lord to protect him. When the sheriff’s deputies arrived at our door early Sunday morning, I was dumbfounded. When the shock wore off, I was hurt and confused. 

Hope that Surpasses Fear CV Lay-0ff Day:28

Hope that Surpasses Fear CV Lay-0ff Day:28

Christmas was in the rearview mirror, and the new year was only a few days away. My social media newsfeed contained post after post laced with excitement for 2020. I, on the other hand, felt complete dread. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get excited about a fresh new year. 

Things came to a fever-pitch one evening as I was preparing dinner for my family. As I stood with my back to my boys grating cheese at my kitchen counter, tears ran down my cheeks. I felt so anxious, I could hardly speak. No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake the feeling that another tragedy was imminent.