I remember when I was a kid time seemed to stand still and my Dad once told me, "Oh just wait until you get older it will fly by!" Boy was he right! As I have gotten older time seems to fly by although I will say that the first days and months after Todd's passing TIME seemed to STAND STILL!! I was frozen with pain and grief and I wasn't sure a time would ever come when I wouldn't be so sad and feeling such deep heartache and pain. Would TIME really HEAL?? Although, my heart is not completely healed I can say that after 15 months God has done an incredible work on healing my heart. Now I am not super human nor do I posses anything in and of myself that makes me stronger than the average woman and the reality of my new normal still hurts and there are days the loneliness seems to crowd around me and I want to close my eyes and wake up someone else!! However, I am experiencing more days with hope and a new found LOVE and JOY that I know can only come with a deep dependence on Gods sovereign plan , HIS incredible strength through the power Holy Spirit and that He still has a great purpose for my life and YES the passing of TIME!! I still miss Todd like crazy and miss so much about my old life I had a day several weeks ago at the park with Bethany, it was just Moms and kids because it was a work day but then I saw one family, a Mom and a Dad with their kids and I had a flashback to the days when Todd would call and check in and ask what we were doing and I would say oh we are playing at the park or maybe we'd be swimming at the pool and then he'd tell me about his busy day BUT then minutes later he would show up just to be with us for a few minutes and love on me and the kids. He dropped everything on many occasions to be with us and it may have only been for a few minutes but it brighten all our days and confirmed just what a priority we all were! Oh how I miss those spontaneous visits!!! As I watched this Dad interacting with his children I cried sitting on the park bench. Bethany and all the other people at the park oblivious to my pain, my loss! I had a good cry and then I chose as I do most days to say, "thank you God for all those park visits and so many other incredible memories I was able to share with my amazing Todd! Help me to continue to find Joy even when it hurts BAD!!!"
Then I had another experience just yesterday where I was out with lots of families and married couples and I felt strangely comfortable and even though there were not many single Moms or Dads I still enjoyed the time. So that makes me know that my heart is beginning to accept Todd is not coming back and I must CHOOSE daily to move on and forward with my life. So as I continue to pray and ask God what my purpose is and what He would like for me to do as I look to the future I feel like there are several things he has and is continuing to direct me toward.
As I have shared before my children continue to be a priority and because of Gods provision and Todd's planning I have been able to stay home with my kids and be here for them as we have walked through the past 15 months without Todd. I have realized that single parenting is NOT for wimps and is the hardest job on the planet!! My hat has always gone off to you single Moms and Dad and now I am living it first hand! Thank you to those who continue to pray for me as I train and discipline Jackson and Bethany. It is a job I know I cannot do in my own strength and I am extremely blessed by the support of my family and friends in helping with my kids. God has a really cool way of filling in the gaps when it comes to taking care of my kids and orchestrates neat opportunities. I love the way he places people in their lives who encourage and teach them too. This has really been GOD AWESOME to watch!
I am also very humbled by the way God is using this blog. Immediately after Todd's service I had people saying I needed to speak and share our story. I was so overwhelmed with my loss that I thought if that is something God wants me to do he would have to equip me and get me through the intense grief and to a place where I could say anything without being a sobbing mess!! I decided with the encouragement of many close to me to begin writing my heart and my grief journey which I began in December. SO I sit here 11 months later farther down the road of grief. I have written many, many posts and have heard from so many who have shared your own struggles and loss and how you have been encouraged and received hope. Hearing from you and knowing that what I share encourages you has helped me heal and eases the pain, so thank you for sharing!! I have also had the privilege to share my story a handful of times live since June and will be speaking again in December and then speaking for a Women's Retreat in April. My heart is overwhelmed with the way God has turned my pain into passion and purpose! I am able to encourage and show others how with Gods help you can walk through loss and difficulty and still have JOY and find HOPE!
One of the hardest decisions I had to make recently was to leave Wells Branch Community Church, the church that Todd and I planted in September 2009. I was able to attend for almost a year after Todd passed but it became harder and harder to be there and my heart grew more and more heavy. As I prayed and asked God to show me whether I needed to stay or not I feel like he gave me the following analogy. Todd and I started planning to have a baby which was the "church plant" for about 18 months prior, we prayed for it, feed it, named it, dreamed about all we would do with it and how it would grow! On September 13, 2009 we welcomed WBCC, it was a glorious day one of the best of my life. All the love, time, prayers and preparation finally became a reality and Todd and I along with 30 on our core team and many, many family and friends welcomed our beautiful child. For the next two years we loved, cared, spent time, sacrificed and watched our child grow and THEN without warning on August 13, 2011 God took my husband of 18 years and the daddy to our children to Heaven. SO as I processed my new normal and continued to attend WBCC without my pastor husband along with the rest of the church I grieved and church was forever different. Not bad just not the same. THEN as I was praying about whether I should stay it was as if God asked me to place my baby for adoption. I knew it was what what best for my baby, "the church" and I know that the couple that came in to pastor the church were hand picked by God to continue to love and raise my child. Here is where it became difficult for me though. What was my place? Where did I fit in? I really didn't think this would happen and it surprised me a little. I was no longer the pastor's wife, this was no longer my baby. SO at that point, around August after much, much prayer I decided I needed to look at other churches. It was then I understood what a birth mother must feel when she places her baby in the arms of the adoptive family. She knows full well that the family is very capable and will love and care for her child, they even have her blessing YET it is a painful choice she must make. Some birth mothers can have open adoption with the adoptive families and some cannot. I realized I could not. This may all seem strange to you but my hope is that it sheds some light on to my decision and reasoning. This does not mean that I have cut all ties with the church, it simply means I will not be calling WBCC my church home. Just like a part of my heart will always belong to Todd, part of my heart will always be with my church family WBCC. God has blessed me with so many incredible relationships and lasting friendships at WBCC and ones that will always be family.
So as my mind and heart continues to pray and seek Gods purpose and next steps for my life I will hold on to the past and my incredible life with Todd in my heart always along with all the things God has allowed me to experience good and bad. I know that He has all my days planned out. As I continue to walk with Him daily I am VERY aware that I have MUCH to be thankful for and I am hopeful for what lies ahead! Thank you for your continued love, prayers and for allowing me to share my heart! I consider it a privilege to pray for you, so please get in contact with me and let me know how I can pray for you as well!
Choosing to Live For More!!