Friday, November 7, 2014

And HITS me!!!

Since my Daddy passed away, I have had this overwhelming longing to return to the places of my childhood - to see the people that knew him either personally or through me. A desire to touch again those moments and those people who loved me and knew me "when"...

I keep trying to figure out why...why do I feel like I not only want to but NEED to go and sit in those places and at the feet of those wonderful people who knew me when I was young and my Ross family still intact...and then, IT HIT ME!!!  I am an only child and these people from my childhood/youth are like siblings or extended family members to me. They can talk about my Dad and not just in an ethereal way...they knew him and knew me and now, that is all the more precious to me.

I think, if you come from a large nuclear family (nuclear as in your immediate family...NOT the glowing in the dark kind) and you lose a parent, you have those siblings with whom to commiserate. Siblings to remind you of how it was "back in the day" and they, too have memories and stories that others won't and they can and should share them...often!

Monday, October 6, 2014

It feels like yesterday and forever

Fall is in the air...the mornings are a little crisper and the evenings a little cooler. The air isn't quite so heavy and the good hair days start to outweigh the bad hair days. This has always been one of my favorite recent years it's a bittersweet season for me as I find my way back to complete faith and total trust in God.  It's a more difficult journey than I could have ever anticipated. Being raised in a household of faith, I didn't see this season coming. This season of uncertainty and doubt...never thought I'd be here or at least not this long. It scares me!

I want to go back to being ok...I want to go back to being the person I was before losing someone I loved changed me...and not just has changed me FOREVER! I will never again be the same person I was before Dad died. "Dad died" still sounds so unreal - I still find myself finding it difficult to believe...but it IS real! Very painfully REAL!

I miss my daddy everyday but some days are harder than others...some moments are more difficult than others. There are moments on a cool fall evening when I'm riding in my van with windows down and I hear the song of the cicada and remember the many nights riding with my Dad up the valley when we lived in LaFollette or home from a ballgame when we lived out on Bates Pike in Cleveland. I can't describe how heavy my heart becomes when I think about the fact that I'll never ride with my Dad again in this life. I'll never get to talk about the resurgence of UT football with him, sit and listen to his hilarious high school stories (I wish I had written them all down somewhere) or sit under his teaching of the Word. I miss everything about him every single day!

Death changes everything! It changes the way you look at and see every situation! Every aspect of your life is eternally altered. I find myself many many times thinking and saying "IT'S NOT FAIR!" And in the flesh, it's not fair but for's all good. My hope through this journey is that when I push through the pain and sadness, that on the other side I'll find the strong faith that my father had bubbling up inside of me. That I'll have the unwavering trust that He does have a plan to prosper me and not to harm me. The evidence that all things have worked together for good because I do love Him and want to love Him more. When I find myself on the other side of this season, my prayer is that the person I become is the person that God intends me to be.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness...

Pressing on...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Life Lessons

As I reflect onthe last year and eight months, I have come to the realization that we (my family) have learned a lot - things we wanted to learn and others that we didn't want to learn but needed to learn so that we could grow as a family and as individuals.

Things I learned:
*I can survive a broken heart
*My children are braver and stronger than I ever realized
*Bad things happen but they don't have to define us - the way we respond does
*Letting go is difficult but necessary
*People, even the ones you love and who love you, aren't perfect and will let you down
*I can't control the actions of others - only my actions and reactions are within my control
*If someone wants to be mad at me, they're gonna be mad no matter how hard I try to please them
*I can't live my life trying to please people
*It's ok that everyone doesn't like me (I hate it but it's ok...or it will be ok)
*We are a flawed people in a broken world and WE ALL NEED JESUS
*Even when you try your very best you may fail but failure isn't defeat unless you allow to make you stop trying
*There are some things in life that can't be fixed - you just have to allow them to run their course and trust that the Lord has your back
*I have to allow my children to experience failure and make mistakes - it's part of living and I have to give them the opportunity to grow
*I have to allow my children to enjoy their successes and teach them to enjoy and applaud the successes of those they care about
*I have to forgive folks even when they don't ask for it
*It's important to try and make time to see (in person) the people who mean the most to you - even if it's inconvenient - try your best
*I have to take a hard look at myself and allow Christ to heal those things in me that are broken, hurt, angry, faithless, full of doubt, regret

Things I believe my children have learned:
*They can/will survive a broken heart
*They are braver and stronger and smarter than they ever thought
*Grown ups aren't always the good guys (which is unfortunate)
*Life isn't fair but we try to find the good/positive things in every situation (it's hard sometimes)
*Life is hard sometimes but it's worth the fight
*It's ok to ask for help - especially when the road is hard
*They don't have to be perfect and shouldn't try to be
*Sometimes the good things come to those who do the right thing -sometimes the good things happen to the ones who cheat and manipulate - it stinks but it's life in this broken world
*Mom and Dad love them...a lot - NO MATTER WHAT

In the last year and eight months, we have learned several life lessons. Let me tell you, life lessons aren't always fun; Sometimes, they REALLY stink! My kids have had to learn some life lessons that I wish they hadn't learned so soon in their lives. I've had my stomach in knots for months worrying about things that, when I stop and rationalize, are really completely out of my control...yet I worry!

I guess saying that I've "learned" a lot through this journey is an overstatement. I've experienced a great deal and I hope that I have/will learned/learn from the things I've seen/experienced but I'm not sure that I've made the transfer of those lessons to practical application. I've experienced the deep dark valleys and the flat places...the mountain tops have been scarce of late but I still believe that there are some waiting for our family and for each of us as individuals.

I have struggled and I continue to struggle...but these things I know, God is for me/us and He has a plan. I have NO CLUE what the plan is and I struggle every single day to trust that He knows best. Every day, I have to turn my doubt, worries and anxiety over to Him about 1,000 times. I'm not always successful and some days I feel defeated and forsaken but I'm learning again to pray believing that He will answer. I'm learning to trust and have faith that He hears my prayers and answers them in His time an in His sovereign ways. I will never understand why some of the things that have happened over the last year and eight months have happened to us. I have made the choice to believe that He knows best and has allowed all these things to refine each of us; preparing us for the path He has for us.

There is a lyric from one of my all time favorite songs that says,
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His Heart

Help me, Heavenly Father, to trust Your heart!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Got Trust?

Phew! Father's Day came and went and it was just as emotional for me this year as last. I think my sadness was compounded by the fact that I had been sorting and filing old pictures....many of them of Dad. Me and Dad - Dad and each of my children as newborns - Dad and Mom - All 3 of us....the list goes on. It was a double-edged sword...the memories were so sweet and seeing him - his face, his smile - was so wonderful but on the other was painful and brought sorrow and sadness and worst of all longing.

Longing is the worst. I long for my Dad's presence - I long to catch the hint of his smell (Old Spice deodorant - he never wore cologne) - I long to feel his embrace, hear his laughter, his voice...there's so much about him that I long for...and it causes the tears to well up in my eyes and spill over before I even realize that they're there. Longing is a terrible feeling and what makes it worse is there will be no end to that longing in this first world. I think that I will always long for my Dad - it seems that the further away I get from November 21, 2012 the deeper the longing and the more overwhelming the missing of him becomes. There are STILL days when the tears come for no real reason...a song, a smell, a familiar moment and sometimes it's as dadgum commercial on TV!  When I feel that longing it makes my brain feel foggy and scrambled...I feel unsettled and in disarray. In those moments, the doubts and questions return. "Why, Lord? Why now? Why at this time? What is Your plan? What were/are  you thinking? How can good come from this? What am I supposed to do?"  Yeah, the question and doubt are pretty endless in those moments and unfortunately, I have lots of those moments.

It seems as though when one area of you life feels disheveled, other areas seem to feel that same way. I find myself feeling like things are falling apart or, as my 9 year old would say, it feels like everything is "jacked up"!  I hate that feeling...the feeling that whatever can go wrong most definitely will.  The feeling that everything you say and do is said and done the wrong way or taken the wrong way or in the wrong context. I then start to feel frantic...the frantic need to fix it all!  I'm learning, however, that some things can't be fixed with a kind word or an "I'm sorry" - death can't be "fixed"...grief can't be "fixed". As a child, I can remember distinctly, moments of fearful tears worrying about my parents dying someday. I remember them finding me in a puddle on more than one occasion and asking me why I was crying. Upon telling them of my fear, they'd assure me that I didn't need to worry that that wasn't going to happen for a very long time.  Guess what, it's been "a very long time".

I continue to struggle with my Dad's death. I wonder what could have been done differently. I wonder why God has healed so many in the months since Dad's death but chose not to heal my Dad in this life. I continue to wonder why...I try not to but I do. I continue to struggle with my prayer life...I wish it weren't so but it is. My biggest struggle right now is trusting God. Trusting that He really does have a plan and that somehow, my Dad's death was part of that plan. I've been taught and reminded many times that God is NEVER caught off guard...that nothing is ever a surprise and of course I believe that's true.  I trusted Him with something immensely precious to earthly father's life and a year and a half later I find myself still struggling - not just with Dad's absence but with the reason for his absence. And so, the question remains...can I trust that this horrible part of my life is working for good? Do I believe that all this grief and longing, not just in my heart and life but in the hearts and lives of my children, will somehow bring God's plan for our lives to fruition; that He'll use this incredibly horrible loss (and all the other struggles that have seemed to follow) to work for our good? Got trust?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When you're afraid to pray..

It has been a while since I've blogged. Lots of being the biggest of reasons. I have found myself feeling emotional and overwhelmed...much like the first few months after Dad's death. I have also found it increasingly more difficult to pray...not because I don't know how to pray necessarily but because I'm afraid to pray. Now, I know what you're thinking (all 2 of you =0) "Afraid to pray?! What is wrong with her?! Is she crazy or something?!!"  Well, while there are those who would argue that point, don't give up on me quite yet...

In the months since Dad's death, I've noticed something...whatever I pray the opposite seems to happen. I prayed for Dad to be healed and to proclaim the glory of the Lord in the land of the living. I prayed this prayer vehemently...fervently! While healing did come, it was not the healing for which I prayed. In the last year and a half, I have prayed for my children...for their hearts to healed, for them to have some degree of success in whatever they endeavor to do - to feel a small sense of accomplishment to build a wee bit of confidence. Again, fervently I prayed...almost begging God for a glimmer of hope and healing for them and again, the opposite happened. It seems as though at every turn there has been something or someone to knock them down, degrade their confidence or further illuminate their pain and grief. So, I gave up...I quit praying and guess what...things improved for my children. So now perhaps you understand why I'm afraid to pray.

I want to pray. I want to know that when I pray, Christ hears my petition and answers my prayer but I don't feel that way. I want to...but I don't. It makes me feel so inadequate as a parent, wife, friend and Christian to have the inability to pray with confidence. I feel like a failure...a disappointment...not just to my children but to my faith, to my Dad who always prayed, to my mom who continues to pray, to my friends who pray, to strangers who pray...I'm a failure!!! Prayer is the language of faith and I'm a MUTE!!!

I am a believer! I want an intimate relationship with the one my earthly father had with Him. I know that intimacy with Christ comes through prayer and studying the word but the bulk of the relationship is built through communication with Christ. Regular, heartfelt, honest communication...something that I'm lacking at the moment.

When friends ask for prayer, I want to pray but I fear that my prayers will only hinder the work God wants to do. It's my concern that in my attempt to help through the venue of prayer I will somehow postpone the blessing, the healing, the positive outcome. Of course, I'm that person who feels that if you want a team to lose...just ask me to root for them!  Their loss will be imminent - of that I am certain! 

I can't adequately express how horrible it makes me feel to think I am incapable of praying for those I love. I'm reluctant to say to folks, "yes, I'll pray for you" because I have no faith or confidence in the power of my prayer. Therefore, I don't...I just tell them that I'm thinking of them. 

One thing I do know, that even in the midst of my struggle, God sees and knows my heart. He understands my heartache, my grief and even my silence. This journey continues to be and downs...twists and turns but through all of that I do know that I know that my Heavenly Father loves me in spite of me...and for that I am so much more that grateful.