The Dance


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Oct 6, 1996. Twenty one years. It seems like a lifetime ago but also just like yesterday. Twenty one years ago I said “I do” and married my best friend and the love of my life. Greg and I got 16 wonderful years together, full of love, laughter, kids, a few fights, and did I mention lots and lots of love?

Wedding anniversaries are times of reflection and memories. So today, even though I’m doing this anniversary alone, just like I have for the past 5 years, I’m remembering. It brings me happiness to remember the love and life we shared, but it also brings me tears because it’s over.

Many years ago a song became popular, sung by Garth Brooks, called “The Dance”. It’s a beautiful, sad song about love that’s been lost.

Looking back on the memory of

The dance we shared beneath the stars above

For a moment all the world was right

How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know

The way it all would end the way it all would go

Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain

But I’d have to miss the dance

It’s a song that can be very hard to listen to, a trigger. But I’ve learned from a fellow widowed friend, Matthew, that sometimes it’s ok to lean into that grief, to listen to those trigger songs, even if it makes you cry. It makes you stronger each time you manage to get through it. So I listen, I cry, and my heart swells with agreement, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have to miss the dance.” And the dance was SO WORTH IT! Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart.


Birthdays Don’t Always Go As Planned


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happy-birthday & miss you

This week was Greg's birthday. To say it isn't as planned now is an understatement. It's hard to have a truly happy celebration of someone who you miss so dearly. He should be here! I should have woken him up with kisses, the kids and I should have "surprised" him with cake and presents, there should have been some birthday romance. But none of that is possible now.

How do you celebrate when the one you are celebrating is gone? Some people send balloons with messages into the sky. Some people do acts of kindness or give to charity on their loved ones birthday. Great ideas!

This is the 5th birthday we've celebrated without Greg. Each year we go out to eat, because that was always something we did with him. I try to keep it low key & just see how the evening flows. I don't force conversation about their Dad, but memories usually come up.

One memory we seem to always land on is the Taco Bell Birthday. Now, understand that as much as we love Taco Bell this was not our restaurant of choice for celebratory meals! We didn't really go for expensive, because with 3 kids that can be overwhelming, but we didn't chose fast food either!

This particular birthday, though, was different. It started out like any other day, until one of us turned on the water faucet and nothing happened. I mean nothing, not a trickle, not a drip. And we have a well so it's not like we could just call the city to come fix the problem.

Greg worked all day trying to figure out the issue. He went to Home Depot 2 or 3 times trying to get a replacement breaker in case that was the issue. Our house was so old, though that he had a hard time finding something that worked.

The time for supper came and went, with Greg still trying to resolve the issue. He never did get the water back on that day. I forget what he ended up having to order or what exactly he did, but it was a couple days later before we could shower and wash dishes again. Fun times!

What I do remember though is that we were all hungry when Greg gave up on his work that evening. We were hungry and frustrated that our evening out had been interrupted. But we had to eat, and it's really hard to cook with no running water, so we ran to the Taco Bell down the road.

Imagine the discouragement…to spend all day (your birthday no less) working on a project that you couldn't finish. So Greg was a little grumpy. I probably was too, honestly! But we ordered, sat down, and started eating. Greg got a text from his cousin that was born 2 days after him – they always kept up with each other, especially on birthdays and that brought him a big smile!

And then we started talking and laughing about the ridiculousness of having a birthday celebration at Taco Bell. This was our "big night out". lol The mood lightened and we ended up having a great time! We decided that it really didn't matter where we celebrated. It mattered that we were together.

I think that's why this memory always comes up. It stands out in our minds as one of the best birthdays because we realized that as long as we are together, we are good! Greg can no longer be with us right now, so it's even more reason for us to stick together. It doesn't matter where we are, we will celebrate together and hold each other up!

Happy Birthday, Greg. Thanks for the memories and for the lessons learned with you. You are forever in our hearts!

The Sun shines, even in the valleys,


I’d Do It All Again


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When you lose a spouse you tend to replay so many things in your mind.  Could I have done anything differently?  Should I have made a different choice?  There are so many “what ifs” that float through your mind.

There is one choice that I’m absolutely positive about though.  And that is my choice to marry Greg!  We met in ’95 when I moved to a new city for a job straight out of college.  I wasn’t looking for a man, in fact I was trying to avoid men as I had just come out of a bad relationship.  Greg told me later that several years previously he had prayed & told God he was lonely & would like someone in his life, but was leaving it in God’s hands.  He said the moment he saw me he knew that I was the answer to that prayer.  He always said it couldn’t have been clearer if there had been a neon sign over my head.

I had no such neon sign, so I was blissfully unaware, for awhile anyway.  Then I started getting the idea that Greg liked me.  Little things like him trying to get my attention by shooting rubber bands over the cubicle at me, or teasing me that he was going to “poke me with a fork” to get me to talk to him.  I was terribly shy & still trying to avoid men in general so I playfully rolled my eyes & kept on with my day.

Then one day we were working together, unpacking boxes of books & putting them on shelves.  I guess I let my guard down a little since we were working together and because he was joking around & teasing me.  I remember lots of laughter between the two of us & before I knew what I was doing I had smacked him on the leg with the back of my hand for some little joke he had made.  I was surprised with the sparks that flew between us, the chemistry that was suddenly in the air.  Where had that come from?!  It was right then that I quit running away from him.

He waited until his temporary job with my company ended and then he asked me out on a date.  We had Chinese food & his fortune cookie said something about his love life was about to improve or something like that (we kept it for years & I’m hoping to find it someday so I can remember the exact wording).  He looked very pleased with himself & I blushed all different shades of red when he shared it with me.

Our relationship took off, but it wasn’t without trials or questions.  Greg was 10 1/2 years my senior.  Was that ok?  He also had diabetes and his blood sugar was prone to many highs & lows.  If you’ve ever lived with or been close to a diabetic you know that this can not only be stressful, but also life-threatening at times.  Is this something that I could live with long-term?  Was I willing to accept the risk that his life might be shorter than mine?

As I prayed about our relationship and fell in love with Greg I knew that the age difference wasn’t an issue.  We might like different music, but other than that I didn’t usually think about our ages.  As for the diabetes, I decided that it was something I could handle.  Something I could help him with.  And any risk involved, I was willing to take.  Really, we all take on risk when we love someone, we just don’t usually stop to think about it.

Six months after we started to date, on my birthday, Greg proposed to me.  He had wanted to take me to the mountains & give me a romantic view for the occasion, but for some reason I was feeling like a home-body & didn’t want to go.  (Of course I had no idea why he wanted to go at the time!  Talk about kicking myself later!)  He couldn’t stand to wait for me to get in the mood for a ride to the mountains, so he popped the question in my apartment.  No matter the view, it was a wonderful moment & I happily said yes.  I remember that day like it was yesterday, even though it was 20 years ago, today.

I made a choice that day, although really the choice was made months earlier as I dated & fell in love with Greg.  Was it the right choice?  No doubt in my mind!!

We got married 6 months after he proposed to me.  We married on the anniversary of our first date, which was just the start of 16 years of a wonderful marriage.  Like all couples we had our ups & downs, but we had our roots in Christ, and there was never any doubt in my mind that Greg loved me.  In fact, he adored me!  I hope that there was never any doubt in his mind that I felt the same way about him.  He was my heart & I miss him every single day!

When Greg’s health was bad he would sometimes tell me he was sorry I had to put up with his disease.  When he was in the hospital the last time, dealing with kidney failure & heart problems, I remember him telling me he was sorry again.  I told him it was ok, but he was feeling so guilty that he told me he should have never brought me into a marriage with all his health issues.  Just the idea of never having him in my life hurt me.  I wanted him to hear not only my words, but also my heart, so I took him by the hands, looked him in the eyes & told him I’d do it all again in a heart-beat.  I meant it then, and I mean it now.  Even knowing the pain of losing him I would do it all again!  Because the love he gave me was worth the risk, worth the pain.  I thank God all the time for the chance I had to experience that love & to love him back!

The Son shines even in our valleys,


Support for Children’s Grief


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Thursday was Children’s Grief Awareness Day. I wore blue in support of my children & all the other kids that have deep sadness in their hearts.

Children can grieve for many reasons. Their grief can be caused by death of a loved one, as in our case, but there is also divorce & abuse.  As I’ve pointed out before, sometimes theirs is an invisible grief.

Because we don’t always see that children are grieving it can be easy to overlook their need for help. But they should be given help whenever possible.

I’m so glad that shortly after my husband’s death someone pointed me in the direction of KinderMourn, an organization that was founded to help parents who have lost a child & also to help children who have lost someone special in their lives. KinderMourn has been such a help & a blessing to my children & that blesses me.

My kids have gone through both the one-on-one counseling & also support groups. The groups are divided by age where they talk about what they are experiencing and do fun activities that solidify what they have talked about that week. The activities might include painting, playing games, puppets, drawing, etc. My daughter came home one evening with a drawing of her feelings that blew me away!

Thursday they had an event at KinderMourn in honor of Children’s Grief Awarness Day. We got to meet with other families who had experienced loss like ours. KinderMourn provided beautiful plastic butterfly pins that we could all choose from. They were lovely to wear & will be our constant reminder of the event. Then we all went outside where a poem was read & we released blue balloons into the night sky. They were beautiful rising against the backdrop of the moon. The evening  was ended with snacks which are a hit with most every kid!

Raising children that have experienced a deep sadness is hard. We need all the support & help we can get. I am thankful every day for the loving comfort of our Heavenly Father who promises never to leave us or forsake us. I’m also very thankful for the people & organizations He uses to be His hands & feet, providing comfort & support where needed. I pray that if you have a grieving child you will be able to find support for them as well.

Below are some pictures that I took around the KinderMourn house as well as pictures of us. My oldest son was away so couldn’t be with us that night. The last picture is of a building lit up for our kids. Sweet!


The Son shines even in our valleys,


Crying is OK


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I’ve noticed that in general people don’t like tears.  Being around someone who is crying makes them uncomfortable.  In a way I get it.  We want to help, we want to fix it.  It also reminds us of grief we’ve experienced or sheds some light on grief we will someday have to endure.  None of that is pretty.

But it’s important to get over your discomfort.  To realize that you don’t have to fix things (you can’t).  To acknowledge that it’s not about you right at this moment.

If someone happens to mention my husband (this is rare & the subject of a future post) I will more than likely tear up.  I can’t help it.  I’ve always been an emotional person, but grief has amplified this BIG time!  But almost every time this happens the person talking with me apologizes & immediately changes the subject.  So I try to pull it together & stop the tears.

But here is the reality…I do almost all my crying alone.  If Greg were here he would be the one I would turn to for comfort.  Without him, I don’t have that outlet.  My kids see me cry some, but I can’t really let them see all my grief.  That would be overwhelming to them.  So I grieve alone.  Which sucks!

So the next time you say something to me & the tears start to fall, instead of apologizing, just give me a hug.  Or tell me you’re sorry for the pain in my heart.  Or cry with me.  Because honestly any of those will help me more than changing the subject & brushing aside my pain.

The Son shines even in our valleys,


Invisible Grief


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Watching my children grieve is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I would do anything to take the pain away from them, to shield them from the knowledge of grief until they are older.  But of course there is not anything I can do to take it away.

After Greg died I was surprised how resilient my kids were.  Oh, they were sad.  Unbelievably so.  Their grief in the moment I told them their Dad was gone is seared into my memory forever.  But they didn’t stop living life.  They didn’t stop smiling & laughing.  I admired that in them!

Grief hits them at times & I’ll hold them while they cry or listen to their sadness when they can’t share something important with Dad.  But then there are the times I can’t see their grief.  Times when others can’t see their grief.  This is what I call invisible grief.

My daughter shared her invisible grief with me last night.  She’s 6 & I try not to share too much with her.  I don’t want to overburden her.  But she knew that yesterday was a sad day for me & she guessed it had something to do with her Dad.  On the way to school she started guessing, “Is it Dad’s birthday?” “No” “Your anniversary?” “No” “Is this the day we lost Daddy?” “Yes, baby, that’s it”.  This was the end of our conversation, as we arrived at school.  But it wasn’t out of her mind.

Last night as I’m tucking her into bed she tells me that she threw up at school that day.  What?!  Nobody called & told me this!  Sometimes she doesn’t want to go to school so she’ll say she’s sick.  So I questioned her to make sure it really happened.  Yep, it did.  Finally the whole story comes out…As luck would have it, this was the day several of her little school friends started sharing stories about losing their grandparents.  I’m sure this reminded her that today was the day of her loss.  Later on her way to the bathroom she said she passed someone who looked like her Dad.  And then she was throwing up in the bathroom.

Adults have a hard time expressing their grief, how much harder it must be for little ones!  My sweetie never mentioned it to anyone until I put her to bed.  I’m glad she mentioned it to me, or I never would have known just how much the day had bothered her.

Besides my daughter I have two older boys.  Sometimes they talk, sometimes they don’t.  I’m sure I don’t know all the grief that they are experiencing.  I wish I did, so I could try to help, but what I can do is lift them up to their heavenly Father who does know exactly what they are experiencing.  Their grief is not invisible to Him & He has promised to be with them through it all.  I thank Him from the bottom of my heart for that!

The Son shines even in our valleys,


Still and Quiet My Soul, Lord


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Last weekend I attended church with a friend & the pastor preached about several different Psalms, particularly several of the songs of ascents which can be found from Psalms 120 – 133. It was all very interesting as he gave the background about when & where these songs would be sung & I enjoyed the sermon very much.

He really caught my attention with chapter 131 & an illustration from his life and I immediately knew it was something I wanted to share with you, my blog readers.

Psalms 131 is not a long chapter – only 3 verses long. However it packs a powerful message for those looking for peace and hope.

My heart is not proud, O Lord,

my eyes are not haughty,

I do not concern myself with great matters

or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord

both now and forevermore.


Have you ever looked at a child who has been stilled & quieted? You see this mostly when a child has fallen asleep. You’ll hear people say things like “they’re precious when they are asleep” or “they look just like little angels”. There’s really not anything more peaceful than a sleeping child!

After reading this scripture the pastor shared that when his daughter was young he was working long hours. She went to sleep early in the evening & many times he missed seeing her before she went to bed. Every night though, he went into her room & looked at her sleeping. He marveled at the peace on her face while she slept & every single night he bent down & kissed her in her sleep. The thing is, she didn’t know he was doing this. She wasn’t aware of his kisses or his smoothing back her hair. She wasn’t aware of the love he was showing her every night after she went to sleep. She would never know this unless he told her.

This story hit me so hard that I couldn’t keep my tears completely in check as I thought about how my Heavenly Father has treated me in similar ways. How many times has he gazed at me when I was unaware? How many times has He “kissed my face” or “smoothed my hair”. In other words, what gentle, loving things was my Father doing for me on a consistent basis that I was completely unaware of? Probably only in Heaven will I be made aware of all the ways that my Father has loved on me.

Realizing that this is surely happening has made me love Him even more and given me that peaceful, quiet feeling like a child settling down for sweet sleep. Hopefully you can feel it too & with our souls stilled & quieted we can rest with our hope in the Lord.

The Son shines even in our valleys,


Walking Down Memory Lane


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Memories – they are such sweet things, but can be oh so painful too.  Memories help us reconnect with the past, with people who aren’t around anymore.  Good memories are something to be greatly treasured!

So what do I do for my Baby Girl who doesn’t have many memories of her Dad?  She was only 3 1/2 when we lost him.  She likes to hear us talk about him, but sometimes it makes her sad that she didn’t get to know him as long as the rest of us, that she doesn’t have as many memories.

I try to tell her things that I remember about her relationship with her Father.  And when she does remember something that she & her Dad did together we celebrate it.  I’ll tell her “You had a Daddy Memory!”

This morning we hit upon one of those moments.  We were up late the night before, overslept this morning & running late to child care & work, so we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast.  This is an occasional treat & she always gets an egg & cheese biscuit.  This morning though she wanted to know if she could get a plain biscuit with grape jelly, & my heart instantly knew she was going down memory lane.

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She said “Daddy would always get me a biscuit with grape jelly when we went here & we would eat it together.  It would make me happy to eat it today, like my Daddy didn’t die.”  Yes, Baby Girl, yes.  You can eat this simple biscuit with the prepackaged grape jelly & think about your Daddy.  Soak up those feelings of love that he gave you then, because if he were here he’d still be loving on you today!

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Whatever your memories, whatever you are longing to relive just a little bit, I encourage you to take a few moments just to relish those good memories when they come.  It’s ok if there are a few (or many) tears because you’re missing someone or something, but take a moment to celebrate that you have that memory – and then maybe do your equivalent of sitting down & eating a biscuit (and don’t forget the grape jelly).

The Son shines even in our valleys,


Loss and New Happiness are Not Mutually Exclusive


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Loss and new happiness are not mutually exclusive

In any hard journey that you travel it is good to find someone who is ahead of you to follow, someone who has been there & made it through.  One of those people in my widow walk is Michelle Steinke, otherwise known as One Fit Widow.  Her message is twofold, helping those in emotional pain find some relief through exercise & also showing that even through grief we can live our best life.

I have learned so much from Michelle & appreciate her sharing herself online.  I am starting to believe that I can both grieve my husband & also find happiness.  Happiness through my children (they were the ONLY ones who could get me to smile in the early days!), happiness with my life, and maybe someday happiness with someone else.

How exactly will that happiness manifest itself in my life?  I’m not sure at this point.  All I know is that I AM still alive, even though there was a time I didn’t want to be.  So I’m going to look for all those pieces of happiness I can find, grab them & enjoy them!  All the while I will thank God for new happy moments, even while grieving the end of the happy moments I shared with my husband.

The Son shines even in our valleys,


I Don’t Have to See to Believe


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I woke up this morning with a song in my mind & pulling at my heart.  It’s a song my 11 year old, Levi, shared with me recently.  I’ve probably listened to this song 10 times today .

But let’s back up a little bit.  You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything recently.  Its so hard to know how to share this.  I promise you this isn’t something I want to share.  I want to have it all together, to know all the answers, to show unwavering faith in this time of trial.  But the truth is it’s been dark.  Very dark.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt distant from God.  As a Christian who loves God it is a very scary, hurtful thing to feel.  I wonder if I’ve done something wrong to push Him away.  Or am I not strong enough in my faith to feel His presence?  Maybe this is a test.  If it is a test it feels like I’m failing miserably.

That being said, I have not walked away from God.  I still want our relationship to work.   I have found that the best way for me to worship right now is through music.  I find songs that move me, that remind me that God is with me.  Songs that proclaim the truth that God is with me always, whether I see (or feel) it or not.  My head knows the truth, but my heart doesn’t.  So I will keep listening to this song & others like it, drilling this truth into my head until my heart finally feels His presence once again.

The Son shines even in our valleys,