Thursday, August 12, 2021

Feeling Like a Fish Out of Water

It just comes with life-changing events that, well, life changes. Duh. When one did not see the change coming, personal equilibrium gets tossed around like the frozen banana chunks in my morning smoothie. It's dizzying. In an earlier post a few months ago I questioned who I am supposed to be now that the primary person is gone who played the major role defining my station in life.

I'm no longer a wife although (thank God!) I am still a mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, aunt, niece, sister-in-law, cousin-by-marriage, and friend. Hmm. That's a lot of titles. But the wife thing-- that's the one that occupied the majority of my time, energy, and interest.

So like the occasional Rainbow Trout that Beloved would pull out of the cold Colorado mountain streams and then flop around while he got the hook out of its mouth, I'm kinda floppin' around in my thoughts. 

I'd love to be tossed back into the stream and have things just as they were before, but that's not gonna happen. There's no debate there. I'm getting thrown back into the stream, but my mouth has been bloodied and I'm afraid to grab onto much.

Setting those thoughts aside for a bit, I'll share some comings and goings since my last post. 

The approach to my front door has seen some changes, except for that bush that looks dead. I'm hoping life is going on in the roots and the manifestation of that will start popping out fresh new leaves.

Next to the bush is my guard dog found at Lowe's. His price was right ($26) and he is solid concrete. I was glad to get him home without dropping him on my foot and/or breaking one of his ears. His name is "Bruiser" and although he looks like a pup, he's a tongue-in-cheek symbol of protection. I maintain my stance on not acquiring a real pet because I like my freedom to come and go with no kennel costs, vet bills, or trips outside to do you-know-what. Besides I have three granddogs, two grandcats and neighborhood animals to dote on.

Now we're opening the front screen door to the porch to see the latest arrangement in the pot beside the front door. I'm liking the sophistication of the white blooms this year even though I have wildly colored options in a storage box upstairs. During this first year without Beloved, I can't bring myself to be bold and bright. It just doesn't express me or where I am right now. (It's interesting to see how far-reaching and in what areas grief affects a person.)

Sue will remember this little ceramic plaque because she has one just like it from a florist shop we visited in Denver years ago. It helps inform those who come to my front door who they are dealing with.

In the first photo you may have noticed the unsightly black stuff on my sidewalk. It actually looked worse in person than what you can see here. More of it had accumulated in wet spots on my driveway, too. Being from a very dry, high altitude climate, it took me some time to figure out what that black stuff was. I lost sleep one night worrying about it. I've got an HOA to satisfy and didn't want them to get onto me about it.

Mold and dirt. We're in the rainy season here and the stuff just gathers like that and is ugly. Beloved used a power washer to clean it but I never paid attention. That was his bailiwick. He's been gone long enough now that this deficit in home upkeep has shown up. 

Back in the early days of grief-stricken brain fog, I told the kids to take the power washer. I assumed I would be moving and I didn't want to be in charge of outdoor maintenance. (still don't) 

No, I don't want the power washer back. Beloved had problems with it and took it in for repair a couple of times, so I don't need THAT!

Anyway, I came home from Book Club the other day to see that one of my neighbors was power washing the scummy stuff for me. What a delightful surprise and a huge blessing to me! He did an excellent job. I am pleased and thankful. The Lord met me at the point of my need.

As a "thank you," I baked these "Sausage Stars" for the neighbor and his wife. This is a versatile recipe I love. Put 2 wonton wrappers in each of the lightly-greased cups of a muffin pan. Bake for 3 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven. In a separate bowl combine your filling, which can be anything you want. Mine was browned bulk pork sausage, canned (and drained) sliced olives, grated cheese, a cup of prepared Ranch dressing, and a tsp of ground red pepper. Spoon the mixture into the wonton cups and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.

I mentioned Book Club. Three of us found shirts at a local department store that coordinate nicely with our study topic, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Woglemuth's book, Choosing Gratitude, Your Journey to Joy

The marathon morning begins as we car pool to a coffee shop to get caught up on our lives, then to the home of one of our members for the discussion, and then we move on to a different restaurant every week for lunch. The group grows in number with each location on those busy mornings. It's fun and encouraging.

My last photo share is the back porch. In addition to the beige indoor/outdoor rug beneath the table and chairs and the Baker's Rack on the far wall, Beloved's black wood bench has been placed such that my herbs and assorted other plants can get some afternoon sunshine and even rain when the wind blows it in. 

I have lost count how many benches Beloved built for me with a basic pattern, adapting it for whatever my need was at the time. He made this one for our back porch in Jacksonville, spray painting it in the back yard. He was so handy to have around!

But back to the topic of that fish out of water .... not long after we moved to this +55 community we realized we were kind of oddballs because we don't play golf and we don't play cards -- two mainstays of this environment. Beloved had back problems that prohibited his golf score from improving, and I get a little bored with mini-golf, let alone 18 holes on a daylong trek on the greens. 

Raised as a good lil' Southern Baptist girl, my exposure to cards has been pretty much limited to Old Maid, Go Fish, and hearts. We don't drink, and we didn't dance publicly with people other than each other. 

That's all pretty limiting. Now that my primary partner is gone, here I sit, wondering what to make of it all. 

But I am encouraged by Romans 8:28, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." The Lord has things for me to learn, and as Dr. David Jeremiah is saying, "God has not forgotten you [me]." He is most likely leading me to some new adventures and it will be all good. 

It's a little scary but as Joyce Meyers has titled one of her books, Do It Afraid, Embracing Courage in the Face of Fear. I hear you, Joyce, and am progressing through the chapters.

These days I'm kinda straddling the fence with churches. I attend a non-denominational mega church, but my membership is at a Southern Baptist church, and in one of my visits to see Gray Beard and Blondie, the Sunday School class handed me this study on Job and Ecclesiastes. 

I don't drink, dance publicly, play cards, or attend questionable entertainment, but I do enjoy private Bible study. Engrossing myself in studies like this have helped me so much to get more of a grip on what has happened to me and how to move forward. 

Right now I'm getting real with the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, grappling with 'there's a time for this and a time for that' (my paraphrase). It's time to release loosen my grip on what was and move forward. The daily email devotions I get from GriefShare are saying similar things.

I'll just be honest. This is hard. Some days I cry my way through one of his cotton handkerchiefs (flimsy tissues are not enough), and then other days I stand up, walk out the door and feel like I can do this. Any time I think I've had my last really hard cry I later realize I'm fooling myself. 

But even that is not as frequent as it was, and I believe Beloved would be okay with that. I've got to get on with my life, embrace joy once again, and try to be a pleasant companion to those who bless me with their presence. 

Until next time, grace and peace to you.


  1. It is so good to hear from you. You are doing the right things. I love my own personal Bible study and I enjoy a church with a good message. I come from a long line of mother's family was Methodist. My daddy's family was dad and his bothers did not follow in that family tradition:) When we moved to "town" aka Brewton after my mother remarried my mother and I continued our Methodist tradition. Her new husband was Southern Baptist. When I was in high school I started going to the youth group and became one myself. When I went to Auburn I visited many and ended up at another SB. My husband was born and bred in SB, but oh he was a rebel:) All that to say, I have come to believe we make such a mess of things with all our denominations. I find I don't get too hung up on the little things that divide us and make sure I am serving and studying and in fellowship. I know you will find your "just right" spot.
    We bought a small electric pressure washer at Home Depot. It is so much easier to use than a gasoline powered, but that is something you might can hire out. Mold and mildew will not be disappearing anytime too soon in Florida!!!
    James T Farmer says green and white are always right in the SUMMER garden because they make you feel cooler. So even though you aren't feeling it you are still with it in the garden.
    You know I love Bruiser. You have truly become a Floridian with your concrete yard art! I am so proud of you.
    I will stop now, but you gave me lots to comment on.
    Love and hugs and continued prayers.

  2. I so understand where you are and how you feel. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my husband passing. It was sudden and I was so not ready or prepared. I too feel like a fish out of water. I miss him and love him more than anything. You sound like you are trying your best to make the most of each day like I am. God Bless, my prayers and thoughts are with you. Marty

  3. My husband and I started a Southern Baptist Church in Ohio in the 1970’s...I love visiting it. I have been about every denomination...I do not get hung up on little things that people say don’t do...the precepts of the cross, baptism, and Lord’s Supper are important. As for the other things, I can remember growing up and no makeup, no short hair on women...and so on and so on...I prefer to believe it is what we do that counts...prayers to you. As I have said before I am close to my two best friends who are new widows. They are amazing women.

  4. It certainly has been a difficult time for you these past months, but yet I've watched as God has carried you through the darkest days and He is now helping you embrace the light. "Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning..." (Psalm 30:5) I believe you will always have some days of "weeping", but as they become lesser and lesser you will begin to truly enjoy the light of God's SONshine in your life. I am certain your Beloved wants that for you. God will help you find your place again, one day at a time. It's not going to happen over night, but gradually you will find a sweet peace that you never dreamed possible. I love the things you've done..."Bruiser" is a cutie pie. I know I would want to pet him on the head if I saw him. You are blessed with good people around you. God is definitely watching over you. This was a very hopeful and beautiful post.

  5. Your journey is one none of us wants to be on ... and yet even this journey with our Lord is one we can find joy in! He is so faithful! and your heart of seeking him first and trusting him encourages all who face tremendous challenges. T would be so proud to see you find joy in spite of your sadness, and I'm sure your kids & grands are standing right there with you (even when miles apart). Thanks for sharing HOPE with us all! Love you!!

  6. Oh Barbara, my Baptist mother would not even allow us to play old maid. You know any cards can lead to gambling.:) So I am not much of a card player either. I do enjoy Junes Journey on my is a cute game that keeps my mind sharp. I admire you for putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. God Bless You my sweet blog friend.

  7. Dear Barb!! I think you are doing so well on this new journey!! You articulate your feelings so well when you share with us (much better than I have been able to do). I love your watch dog and am glad you found the perfect guardian!! The won-ton recipe looks and sounds good and very easy! I will have to give it a try. God is our strength and in Him we can rest. You remain in my prayers. Love & hugs!

  8. I'm so impressed with the progress you are making along this grief journey, Barbara, and that you are getting out and about with women who are becoming friends. Thanks for sharing where you are right now, and all the lovely photos of your home. Know I'm keeping you in my prayers.

  9. What a thoughtful neighbor to take care of your sidewalk and driveway for you and what a yummy looking treat you gave to them! Thank you for sharing the verses, the Bible study/resources and I love the picture of you and your friends in the grateful tees. Thinking of you.

  10. Love Bruiser, those little things truly minister to our hearts, I have a light-up Bruiser, he's white with a soft glow inside. I turn him on when I wake up early in the dark. I understand the need to decorate for our feelings at the time...I so get that.

    Love your hair the way you are wearing it, pulled back, it's extremely youthful.

    You're doing good to recognize one day at a time, we can't drink the ocean right? (loving hug)

    That's wonderful that you have a reading group like that. Perfect.

    Oh the church thing...It's hard now-a-days. My son in love just became pastor of a baptist church in a wonderful farming community, I look forward to see his wisdom and love at work. I'll be praying for you concerning a church, we are having a hard time in this area as well.

    Praying for you and thinking of you. love, Amelia

  11. Bruiser is so handsome! That was so nice of your neighbor to do your power washing. It's good that you get out with your friends. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

  12. How very thoughtful of the neighbor to pressure wash your driveway. That meal you shared with them sounds delicious. Love the t-shirts you three are sporting. Joy and sorrow intermingle so much. A good Bible teaching/preaching church is such a gift. Hope you find that if the mega one is not the right spot for you. We are studying Job in Sunday school at church right now. Continued prayers for your tough journey.

  13. What a kind and thoughtful neighbor. I sort of love using a power washer, but it is a big job and it takes me a bit to get motivated to start. Mine (and yes, it is mine - hubs got it for one of my birthdays ;^) went in for repairs this spring and I haven't even tried it out after getting it back. Before autumn, I must though. Your progressive book club meeting sounds like an event! :) I appreciate reading about your journey through grief, Barbara. You are eloquent and so real. Hugs to you.

  14. Your thoughts are so honest and raw, Barbara, but I still see signs of healing in your post. You are blessed with a deep faith, like-minded friends, and a wonderful family. And it sounds like you have caring and generous neighbors, too... This is not the chapter you would have chosen for this stage in your life, but I have faith that you will carry on and learn to love your new life--just in a bit different manner than you expected. Sending you big hugs ♥

  15. Oh dear Lady, how I love your heart! You speak truth. I am thrilled that you have family that love you so very much and friends that can totally relate to you. I love y'all's shirts! Book club sounds interesting. I have always thought about doing that but most of my friends are like me, either work full time or part time and those that don't, help to care for grands. So nice of your neighbor to be a helping hand. Lord knows we all need encouragement don't we? I pray that your week will be sweet to you. You are a strong woman of faith there is no doubt. But Barbara, even us strong women have our weak moments. I am just glad that you would be willing to share those moments with us. Hugs and blessings, Cindy