|Breakfast on the back porch|
The Denver radio station I listen to via Internet said it was 58 degrees this morning. While the weather has not turned THAT cool here in North Central Florida, I was thrilled to discover it was more tolerable one morning this past week. My breakfast smoothie and a good book accompanied me to the back porch.
Since some of you are abound to ask, that morning my breakfast smoothie was made up of the following: (don't get your hopes up. It's pumpkin-colored but that was not an ingredient)
1 cup Trop 50 Orange juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen berry mix
1 Tablespoon green powder mix
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder
1 Tablespoon pea protein powder
Combine all in a blender and process till smooth. Does it taste good? Not usually but it's healthy. I change up the powders daily and rotate my protein from peas to flax, to hemp seeds, and chia seeds. Been doing this nearly every single morning since 2013 and by the grace of the Lord, I tend to be a pretty healthy gal (with one notable exception: a mild case of COVID in late October 2020).
|The LORD is My Shepherd|
The book I was reading was perfect for me on that morning. Sister D sent it to me either while Beloved was in the hospital or shortly after he passed. I don't remember when it was for sure. I began reading it then and was so blessed, but then that "brain fog" that comes with deep grief slipped into my head and the book got put aside. I tend to read several books at one time, absorbing whatever tome is closest to the chair where I happen to land.
But that's okay. The Lord is leading me to read what I need when I need it and that includes pages of one book here and pages of another book in another room.
This morning (Sunday) I woke with the usual dread most grieving people have to face -- the realization of yet another day learning to live without the one they have lost. It's like the School of Hard Knocks on steroids.
This time, however, THIS TIME, before even throwing back the blanket, I buried my head into my pillow and cried, telling the Lord that I am tired of sadness. I am tired of depression. I am tired of the feelings of loss, loneliness and being in charge of so much. I will miss Beloved for the rest of my earthly life, but I don't want to be mired in this sadness. Please help me. Please!
Thoughts and concepts from this book came to mind. There was no rush to get out of bed, so I lay there meditating on what those pages said. I'm walking through that "valley of the shadow of death." But it's not a dead end. It's a valley. Valleys are open on both ends. When you enter the valley on one end, if you keep going, you eventually end up at the opposite end, and leave the valley behind.
After some time had passed, I realized the Lord was responding to my heart's cry, that prayer for help. He was telling me there's an end to this time in the dark valley. I must keep moving forward. The first step would require me to toss back the blanket and get out of bed. I did just that.
As the morning progressed, I saw one good thing after another expressing the Lord's response to my prayer. Before the worship service began at church, I got to meet my pastor in person for the very first time (keeping in mind that I am a member of a large mega-church).
We had a very good conversation. We spoke of his plan to focus his next sermon series (later in October) on grief and similar disturbing circumstances. He shared that he is currently doing his research on the topic and this week will be meeting with experts who deal with this all the time.
I shared with him that although my husband was a strong Christian, a Sunday School teacher, and that together we raised our children in a Christian home, my greatest obstacle has been dealing with his physical absence in my life. My pastor agreed that he has heard many people say similar things. I am hopeful he will include this aspect of mourning in his sermon series.
So that was a blessing from the Lord from my early morning prayer. I felt I had been heard by someone who was willing to listen.
Today's sermon was good as he continued his current series on the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6). Today's focus was the helmet of salvation and dealing with all the demonic thoughts that bombard all of us all the time, tempting us to give up on God.
Grief is full of that. Full. Fighting back with the truth of God's promises to His people is the answer. Here are some affirmations from last week's sermon on the Shield of Faith that I (and all of us who belong to Christ) need to be making with every fiery dart that tries to penetrate our thoughts:
~ I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength
~ I am cared for
~ I am chosen
~ I am adopted
~ I am accepted
~ I am loved
~ There is nothing above, below, angelic, demonic -- nothing yet to come nor in my past that can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus
~ I have favor that surrounds me like a shield
~ The Lord my God will cause even my enemies to be at peace with me
~ It's His promises, the reality of Who He is that soaks up the flaming arrows from the enemy
(just to name a few)
After the church service, Mary and I had lunch at the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet here in my +55 community, followed by a trip over to the World Equestrian Center for Oktoberfest.
Before I get to the 'fest, let me just say that these past ten months have brought me into new friendships with women who are suffering much as I am. While I tend to make friends easily anyway, this new dimension of my life has strengthened my ability to connect with those who have been hit with sudden widowhood. With every one of them, it's like we look into each other's eyes to see if there is the understanding and compassion unique to losing a mate, and there is.
The hurt and the hunger for understanding is so great and the Lord meets us at that very point of need.
|Mary capturing the German band|
When I suggested to Mary that we could visit Oktoberfest, she was "all in" immediately. Weekends are the hardest for many widows, therefore inexpensive, cheerful methods to pass the time are most welcome. I think the reason weekends are so hard is that the daily routines we devise to get ourselves through the weekdays are scrambled on Saturdays and Sundays with different needs to be met, different TV programming, even church attendance and all that involves, and so forth.
|a better look at the polka band|
photo from Mary's camera
At Oktoberfest it would have been fun to launch out into a polka with that cheery pulsating music, but we didn't see anybody else doing that, so we walked about the area with a little lighter feel and maybe a bit of a skip in our steps.
|NFL football on the jumbotron|
Interestingly enough, we did not see a single horse at the World Equestrian Center on this day. We were among many who chose to sit in the stands of the outdoor arena (on the shady side) to rest, listen to the band music, watch football on the jumbotron, and some guzzled down their beer. (We saved ourselves for something else)
I've lost count now how many times I've taken friends to the WEC, but I've got a pattern outlined that includes a stroll through the 5-star hotel. Very fancy-schmancy with a LOT of white (everywhere).
|We saved ourselves for ice cream!|
Grief has given me a sustained 20-pound weight loss
so I eat ice cream without guilt!
Back out in the vicinity of the polka music, we found the ice cream shop and got in line. But that brought on some unplanned adventure. From several people ahead of us in line, at the check-out register, arose some very loud raised voices. At first we thought it was just boisterous laughter but it quickly became apparent it was an extremely heated argument between a man and a woman.
Accusations of "not being respectful" were shouted, and then the woman marched outside only to quickly return with her husband, who joined in the shouting match. I heard a slap or a snap of some kind, perhaps someone was slapping the marble countertop, I don't know. But I quickly decided our immediate exit would be good and pushed Mary and myself out the door. We stood outside where some joined us while others remained indoors. I confess I would not have been surprised if a weapon would suddenly appear. This is the kind of times in which we live.
Well, the shouting stopped and it looked like some security-type personnel were entering by another door, so we eventually returned to our place in line and got our ice cream.
|one of several block games|
for anyone to play with
This experience demonstrated to me that you just never know what is going on in a person's life, in their mind, and how they will deal with what they have been given. In this case, I suspect one person had too much of the German beer, contributing to the altercation we witnessed.
I was reminded of my pillow-talk prayer time this morning when I pled for God's help with my problems. He showed Himself faithful to me all through this day, and has done so all through these months of adjusting to the single life without my Beloved.
|the pool in my +55 community|
He has even led me "beside still waters," as promised in Psalm 23:2. I thank Him for His goodness to me, His mercies that are, truly, new every morning! (Lamentations 3:23)
Until next time, "The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."