Friday, March 5, 2021

A Time For This But Not For That

card from blog reader, Robin

The adjustments to life here by myself have felt more heavy this past week. Everything has gone well but shouldering responsibilities  without Beloved's leadership is a big change. 

I could not do this without the Lord's help. I cry out to Him often, and as I've said in previous posts, sometimes LOUDLY with an arm outstretched to heaven, much like a little kid trying to get teacher's attention.

Before Beloved was ushered through Heaven's gate neither one of us was very outwardly demonstrative in church worship but my life has undergone a huge change. The blessings the Lord showers onto me are numerous and I want Him to know I am GRATEFUL. In addition to in-person worship at my church, I raise my hand to the Lord here at home while singing to Him from a hymnal, and my praying involves greater detail.

"widows" highlighted with blue pencil

One of my GriefShare facilitators recently pointed out to us that God has a special heart for widows. Whenever I see that word in my Bible, I highlight it with a blue pencil. The frequency on some pages is nothing short of amazing to me. It's an affirmation gals like me need in these beginning months of the new designation. (this surely must apply to widowers, too)

I'm learning there are boundaries I need to set up for myself which at the outset were not obvious to me. Grief is a deep sorrow that scrambles and fogs the brain so our thoughts are sometimes skewed. While one would wish others could read the mind of the grief-stricken, that is seldom the case. We are urged to stick up for ourselves and when we do, others tend to appreciate it because otherwise they may be clueless what defines as comforting and what does not. 

Randy Alcorn put it this way in one of his recent blog posts: "Some days no one but God has the right words."

In a Bible study I was attending, the chapter was focused on the crucifixion. I was doing my homework and handling it well enough. But then the discussion questions talked about some details of ancient embalming methods, and asked if we had ever been in the presence of one who died, things like that.

With my current circumstances, I could not handle it. And thankfully I realized I did not have to. I closed the book and sent an email to the study leader saying I would be absent from that session. She understood and we left it at that. That was a boundary I put up for myself that may not be necessary in the future, but for now, it is. 

Another boundary I've had to put in place is with flashbacks of Beloved's last three weeks, and his final 24 hours in particular. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he..." (Proverbs 23:7) In the context of grief, too much dwelling on the hard parts does not lead to peace. Yet sometimes reverting to memories of the happiest of times is short-lived when realization hits once again as to what has been lost. 

That happened to me this week. It was like I was stuck and couldn't get free, not seeing any hope for a happier state of mind. I finally decided I needed help and placed a call to my grief counselor, the primary facilitator of my GriefShare group. 

She understood and advised me to get busy doing something that required my mental attention, something to preoccupy my mind. Read a book, watch a movie, bake something -- an activity for my brain so I couldn't think about the sad stuff. She said taking a walk would not be the answer in this case because the mind would still be free to ruminate over what I am trying to forget. 

Late last week I was feeling drained from the tears, tight shoulder muscles, and loneliness. I decided to take a "personal Sabbath," as I called it, where I slept in as late as I could and wore my jammies long into the day. The food I ate was already prepared, just needing to be heated. Household tasks were put on the back burner for another day. I did some yoga-type stretches and drank a lot of water. Crying dehydrates!

photo from my walk

Fresh air and sunshine were in abundance that day, so I eventually got dressed and walked nearly 2 1/2 miles at a leisurely pace. I tried to focus more on deep breathing and enjoying nature than the myriad of memories that were trying to take over.

statue of fly fisherman--
entrance to my community

My grief counselor was right. A walk does not occupy the mind enough to keep the memories at bay very well. On my way back to the car, I stopped to snap pictures of this fly fisherman statue. Beloved's favorite hobby was fly fishing in the streams of the Colorado Rockies, so as I drive by this place every time I enter and leave my home, there's a memory. I'm just going to have to frame this with sweetness and trust the tears won't last forever. 

placed a call to get a tree trimmed

With all this said, I am seeing some improvements. The tears are slowing down and I'm more readily recognizing the Lord's mercies when I have to do things I don't like.

visiting with Surfer Girl
over coffee in my new library
My kids have continued to carve time out of their busy lives to visit with me in person, via emails and FaceTime conversations. It really helps to converse with them about their progress through this, as well as my own. Since none of them live here in my town, their efforts to stay in touch with me are not always easy but they are very good about it.

a beef stew from the instant pot

Cooking for one has dramatically changed my time spent in the kitchen. However, when the kids come, I do reunite with my cooking skills. I also save leftovers to freeze in individual serving containers. 

Florida wildflowers near my home

The pink wild flowers that pop up alongside Central Florida's roadsides are out in all their glory right now, signaling to me the passage of time since the dark days of my winter. Life goes on, even if I'm at the back of the line this year.

I play a little game with myself. If memory serves me correct, there were about four times in Beloved's corporate career when his job required him to move on to the next assignment during the school year. With three children in school, we decided I would stay behind to finish out the school year with them, and to keep the house in order for realtor showings. Then in June we would  join up with Beloved at the new assignment. 

What we're going through now has similarities. Jesus has said to His followers that He's gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us so that where He is, we may be also. (smile) Well, I don't know that Beloved is swinging a hammer in heaven right now, but he has been called to go ahead of me. He is still very much alive and our family will see him again. 

screenshot from a recent sermon
that ministered to me

Until next time, continue to pray for one another. We all have needs for the Lord's comfort.


  1. Sweet Barbara, I am learning so much from you. You are wise beyond your knowledge.
    Now, I love that table next to Surfer Girl in that cozy library and the wildflowers in Florida are some of the prettiest anywhere in the spring. Backroads are so worth the trip to see them. Sweet thoughts are my prayer for you.

  2. Yes. Life has become very different. xo

  3. Dear Barbara, I think about our Matthew in heaven busily helping with building projects...mansions or "cabins"...whatever they may be. He had always promised his Nanny that he would build her a log cabin some day. He had four years to get it ready for her in heaven before she arrived, so I hope he got it ready in time. I don't think people are sitting around playing harps in heaven. God has work for them to do...heavenly work, as well as the visiting and greeting one another and welcoming newcomers. I like to think happy thoughts like that when I get blue about Matthew, and when I picture him healthy and strong and happy in heaven, it helps me to not feel so sad. It won't be long before we join our loved may feel like a long time to us, but in reality it goes very quickly, and then we have ALL of ETERNITY to enjoy together. It may not be exactly they way it was here on earth, but God has promised it will be so much I comfort myself with those thoughts. I am so glad your kids are so attentive. What a blessing. And how wonderful you have a good support team near you. God is certainly with you, and He knows exactly what you need and when. Yes, be kind to yourself. Take some time to "smell the roses", or the wildflowers, and let God wash away your tears with His soothing balm of love. God bless you dear friend.

  4. Thank you for sharing about what to do when "sad thoughts" overwhelm you. I do not know what it is but I have had some flashbacks to when I was a young mom and some things I did that bother me now. It often happens when I lay down to go to sleep. I have told myself, You are not going to think about that right now!! Our minds are a magnificent creation for sure. Praying for you Barbara as you navigate the deep waters.

  5. Yes, your Beloved is more alive than ever before. Still, his circumstances are much better than yours and much different. I am very glad that The Lord has a tender heart for widows. I appreciated reading the practical advice you enclosed. I never would have thought about the benefits of baking over walking for example. 🙂

  6. Keeping you in my prayers. I appreciate you sharing this time of your life with us.

  7. The Lord really does care about widows - it's mentioned so often and there are so many instructions about caring for widows.
    I also love your thoughts about him going ahead of you. That's exactly right!

  8. Thank you, Barbara, for candidly sharing your grief journey with us here once again. It can feel at times that you are taking one step forward only to find out it's more like two steps back. That's okay. God will meet you where you are and gently guide and comfort you. Know I'm praying for you each and every day.

  9. I appreciate your thoughts, advice, and verses you share each time you post, Barb. Your beef stew looks delicious and the wildflowers are beautiful. Thinking of you.

  10. There is a lot of wisdom here, Barbara. Much of it is applicable across the grief spectrum. I have been experiencing some rough days recently in regards to the loss of my brother. You have given me some tools to apply. Thank you, friend.

  11. I can't even imagine the journey you are on Barbara but I so enjoy you sharing it with all of us. There's so much to learn and perhaps you will be instrumental in helping other women who loose their spouse. I love that you have the support of your Grief Share Counselor and your precious children. May each new day bring you renewed strength. Love and hugs!

  12. Hugs and prayers and lots of love sent your way in Florida. I'm glad you are not in a hard winter environment right now. God knows all these things. Thank you for being real...

  13. Yes, God assures us in his living word that he is close to those crushed in spirit. I know he is with you and promises to remain close during this time and build up your heart again. Psalm 34:18

  14. The Christian does not look back...we look forward with hope...