Friday, February 1, 2013

Monthly check-up

4:32 p.m. Today's project was to reflect and assess my progress on the journey of widowhood. Since so many loving and caring friends ask me, after I inquire about their well-being, "How are YOU?" I thought I'd ask myself the same thing. How is my obedience to God in this new phase of life? Am I as on fire for God despite the sadness I feel? I don't want to be like the man who merely hears the Word but does nothing about it in James 1:23-24. This is the way he looks at himself in a mirror (NLT):

You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

One aspect of new widowhood is all of the organizing that has to be done, and even if one has adult children to assist, the surviving spouse is the only person legally charged with carrying out her husband's wishes. In our case, Steve's wishes were written and signed before witnesses.  The mortuary had to be selected, and then the next choice was cremation or burial. Widows then spend time handling many legal and financial details, such as acquiring the official death certificates for life insurance, mortgage companies and banks. Filing for life insurance proceeds and Social Security death benefits have been the most time consuming tasks, still unresolved, but the ball is in their court, at least!

I've been reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young each morning, with its continual emphasis on giving every aspect of your life over to Jesus to handle perfectly, absolutely trusting Him. I still plan and structure the aspects of my day, striving to put all of my activities in an "ideal" order. But I know full well, that He will very often, almost always, change things around, because He knows what will happen tomorrow. For instance, I was torn between visiting my dad on Thursday before my Mary Kay meeting in his home also located in  Redlands; or waiting until this afternoon to visit him before tutoring a student in nearby Loma Linda. I did have time to spare before my meeting, and the Lord impressed upon my heart to see Daddy yesterday. Sure enough, he had been waiting for me to get his shopping done!  Wait, here's the real "twist:" earlier this afternoon, I checked in with my student's mom to confirm our 4:30 appointment, and guess what? My student is sick, so no tutoring session today. Jesus knew I wouldn't be in Loma Linda today! (And He was looking out to save me time and gas money)...

My heart needs to trust, simply trust and rest, and my mind need not fidget, even with matters whose outcomes are so much bigger than an extra 40-mile round trip. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) admonishes,

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 

What about those matters of the heart? The kids and I have all been mourning differently, some with a pervasive depression, others with random crying jags (that's like me). A couple of them haven't described much reaction other than sadness over the way their dad died, and the agony Steve went through, knowing he was losing his mind, but ultimately, being too far gone to struggle against his dementia as he had before the last 6 months. I've kept open communication available with the kids, so they know that any and all of their reactions are normal, expected, and not likely to go away soon, as the grieving process unfolds.

Add to that the possibility of inheriting the cruel, life-shortening familial dementia that lurks in half of their genes, and I have much to pray about for my kids, above and beyond concerns of marriage, parenting, jobs, ministry and education that are typical young adult fare. Praise God that they were raised in the Lord, and can say with the writer of Psalm 121:1-2:

I will lift my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Maker of heaven and earth.

On a mental note, I find that I'm a little vague and inattentive when it comes to my business, although I am back to booking appointments and attending events, and my former excitement is building back up again after a month off, as I draw on God for energy. I still have moments of disbelief that I'm now a widow, because Steve was already gone from our home for four months before he passed. (And of course my identity has been that of a married woman for so long). A daily look on the surface doesn't show much change in my routine, and our house looks the same, all of the same pictures of our family and plenty of just the two of us are displayed. Do those pictures ever come down? I don't know, will have to ask some of my longer-widowed friends. Or does it matter because we're all individuals? I got a minor speeding ticket--the first in a decade-- at the bottom of a steep hill near our house Tuesday night due to inattention, or more likely, oblivious familiarity. I felt guilty and sad, but after the writeup was over, continued on to church for a fun night with my crafty Piecemaker girlfriends, barely arriving late. Looks like we'll have a new instructor for our Spring Heart to Home class series, too!

Despite some vagueness and occasional loss of focus, when I look in the mirror, I see a woman whom God is moving forward. Home Fellowship gives me the exciting and challenging opportunity to participate in free and open discussion of God's word; Bible study offers fellowship and personal insights as I finish the weeks' lessons. And my daughter, son-in-law and their developing baby have finally moved into the house, providing companionship and help while they have much more space they have renovated and decorated as their own. Psalm 121, verses 3,7-8 fittingly close my day and first complete month as a widow:

He will not allow your foot to be
He who keeps you will not slumber.

The LORD shall preserve you
  from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your
  going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even



  1. Such a good reflection. Love how the LORD is by your side.

    Hugs and prayers,

  2. Dana, I found you through Carol. It's a joy to find such a kindred spirit. My husband has been sick with Early Onset Alz. as well. I love the opportunities this trial has brought to both of us, mingled in with the sadness, and my heart truly resonates with your sweet posts. I write a blog too, with the same intentions. I shall add you to my prayers...