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Showing posts from 2014

Photobombing = Tears of Joy

I’m not sure how to put into words the thankfulness that I feel this Christmas.  I know, it is Christmas, not Thanksgiving, but I have many things to be thankful for, especially this year.  There were many moments this Christmas that I just wanted to sit down and cry.  The difference this year is that those moments were not primarily brought on by missing Scott.  No, this year those tearful moments were brought on by witnessing the immense healing that Jaelyn has gone through. 
Jaelyn was extremely excited for Christmas this year – playing Christmas music constantly – her ipod was never far from her.  It would have driven Scott crazy.  He was never a big fan of Christmas music, but tolerated it when I played it.  I love Christmas music, but tried to respect his feelings by not playing it constantly.  Jaelyn played it so constantly that I was actually getting a little bit tired of it.  I was amazed that one of her favorite Christmas songs this year is “Christmas in Heaven” by Sarah S…

Someone is Missing at Christmas

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So, this is our third Christmas since Scott’s death.  I thought that each year would get easier.  In so many ways it is the opposite.  I didn’t expect it to be harder.  I still see things and think, “oh, Scott would like that” or “oh, that would be a good gift idea for Scott.”  I still avoid the men’s departments in stores as I cannot walk through or past them without thinking about clothing he would like or would have needed.  Scott rarely felt the need to buy clothing for himself.  I bought most of his clothing just so I wasn’t embarrassed by the condition of his clothing.  (He lived in t-shirts and shorts anywhere he could get away with it, and even some places that it wasn’t quite socially appropriate.) The holidays bring a heightened sense of loss as everything is about family and thinking of or doing things with your loved ones.


I think of my aunt, who is facing her first Christmas since my uncle’s death right after Christmas last year.   Christmas for her will look and feel so…

A Matter of Perspective

I belong to a private Facebook group for widows/widowers with young (pre-teen) children.  There are men and women who are only a few days into their journey to those who are ten + years into their journey.  There are times when things are shared that stop me in my tracks and make me assess my own journey and perspective on things.  There were some things shared this week (I cannot share details due to the confidentiality of the group) that caused me to think about my perspective on Jaelyn and the effect of her daddy's death on her life.

 I don't want her to grow up seeing herself as different and somehow damaged due to losing her dad.  I want her to see the strength and faith that she has gained due to working through and understanding her grief.  I don't want her to go through life with a "pity me" attitude because her daddy died.  I want her to focus on who/what she still has -- mom, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who all love her very much -…

Trajectories of Tried Faith

I recently picked up a devotional book that I hadn’t looked at for about six months while I was using other devotionals.  Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for jumping back and forth between devotions without finishing a book.  However, I am coming to realize that God uses those changes to speak to me.  I began reading one of the devotions and it really struck me, then glanced at the next one and realized that it was an almost seamless continuation of the first one I read.
These devotions were written by Kathy Ferguson Litton who became a widow at the age of 45.  A friend told her “that because of my husband’s death my life would take an entirely new trajectory.  She said I would ‘begin to go places I would have never gone before, meet people I would have never known before, and understand things I would have never known before.’”   WOW – that has certainly been true for me.  When I think of all the new and precious friendships that God has brought into my life since and because…

The Storm

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Prayer.  So often it is easy to say to someone, “I am praying for you” -- Yet later forget to pray or even dismiss it as not helpful.  I can certainly attest to the strength of prayers.  I know that there are many times over the last two years that I cannot explain where the strength came from to get up and keep moving forward -- those times when it felt as if quicksand was pulling me down.  Inexplicably there would be strength to take the first step, and then the next.  The only explanation comes a day or two later when someone would share with me that they had been praying for us. 
Since hearing about little Sarah’s battle with cancer my heart has been crying for her, her parents, and her family.  I doubt if an hour goes by each day in the last couple of weeks that my thoughts don’t turn to her – and then prayers for her and her family.  It is so easy to be discouraged by medical reports and feel hopeless – forgetting that the God of the universe is in control.  It is so easy in o…

Unexpected Treasures

Two years ago after Scott’s death I went through all the photos and video clips that I had on our computer.  After talking with family, there was one video in particular that I was trying to find.  When I couldn’t find it on any of the computers and old photo discs I assumed that it had been deleted at some point.  I was so disappointed as it was a very funny video in which Scott is the operator of the video camera.  He isn’t pictured in the video but rather is narrating while he was videoing. 
A few months ago I gave my dad our little digital video camera to use for hunting and trapping since we hadn’t used it in years.  Just this week they looked at the videos they had taken and noticed that there were many more videos on it than they had done.   Today I finally had a chance to download those videos and see what was on the camera.  Like a treasure, hidden for years, the video clip that I had been craving for the past two years was on the camera.  It was so neat to hear Scott’s voi…

A Look Back

I really hate when it is time to sleep and that is when my thoughts turn to Scott.  Sometimes the only way to get the thoughts to stop is to get up and write them out – so that is what I am doing now.
I have been thinking a lot lately of when I had to tell Jaelyn that her daddy had died.  That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  Those few words just tore apart life as she had known it.  I remember the inadequacy of words and not really knowing now to say it.  The difficulty of pushing those words through my lips is something I will never forget.  I still cry when I think of that moment.
When I think back to the hours after Scott’s death, I’m amazed at how together I was, getting through and doing what needed done.  Calling friends to break the news and hearing the disbelief and shock on the other end of the phone and I struggled to keep myself together.  Talking with the funeral home was concrete and something that I actually knew what to expect because of participati…

Healing - A Photo Journey

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Today was one of those good days, despite having to push myself through a few times.  Healing is happening, although when you are in the thick of it, it is hard to see.  I can see my healing in my writing.  I can see Jaelyn's healing in pictures.  I am most grateful for Jaelyn's healing and treasure the visual journey.  Pictures say a thousand words. 
Two months after Scott's death - refusing to have picture taken 
 Four months after Scott's death -- Only in picture out of threat of consequences if she didn't get a picture taken with her cousins.
 Nine months after Scott's death -- In the picture, but not really smiling
 One year after Scott's death, posing for picture willingly, still no smile.
1 year 2 months after Scott's death -- now the smiles-- although forced -- start
 1 year 4 months - still forced smile 
1 year 8 months after Scott's death - genuine smile 
1 year 10 months after Scott's death - genuine smile and actually requested to h…

Remembering Scott -- The Heart Walk

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The Heart Walk is coming up -- just six weeks away.  If you have lost someone to a heart condition or stroke, or know someone who has been affected by a heart condition, heart attack, or stroke, you have a personal reason to walk or to donate.  Last year was the first year that I chose to walk in Scott's memory.  Quite frankly I imagined that I would only do it one year.  I don't particularly enjoy being in large groups of people and after seeing the numbers for how many people show up for the Heart Walk each year I certainly didn't think that I would  be interested in doing it again.  To my utter surprise I thoroughly enjoyed the Heart Walk.  It is an extremely well organized event and it certainly didn't feel like there were as many people there as the numbers showed.  BUT, the main reason that I thoroughly enjoyed the Heart Walk was due to this group of people:
This is the majority of the team that showed up to walk in Scott's memory.  When we came together as …

Seconds

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It is almost two years since Scott’s death.  When I stop moving and am still, those raw emotions, feelings, and physical reactions surrounding Scott’s death come flooding back in.  How do those without a hope and strength in Jesus Christ survive and “get through” a loss like this?  Some days, even two years later, it is only by God’s strength that I can function and move forward.
 There are still many more moments when this all feels surreal rather than real.  Is there a moment in time when it will move toward feeling real?  It is no longer my first thought – “Oh, I need to tell Scott about this.”  Now it is, “Oh, I wish I could tell Scott about this.” Or, “I wish I knew what Scott would think about this.”  It all feels so unfair.
 In two weeks it will be the second anniversary of Scott’s death.  In facing that, I am coming to realize that the dreaded “firsts” are not necessarily the hardest.  The “seconds” reinforce that this is reality and not just a horrible dream.
 Just a few w…

Worry and Anxiety

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Although I believe in God and have faith in His Word, one of the things I have struggled with spiritually since Scott’s death is worry and anxiety.  In talking with others who have experienced tragedy in their lives, I have come to realize that this is a common problem.  Because I have experience unexpected tragedy in my brother Jason’s accident and then death 12 years later, as well as Scott’s unexpected death, my mind is hyper-aware of the fact that life is not in my control and something can happen at any moment to tear away someone that I love dearly.  Sometimes the anxiety and worry hit for no apparent reason and my imagination can run rampant.  Other times I find myself worrying about the future.  Sometimes it takes a long time for me to hear God reminding me to trust Him, that He is in control.
In recent days, God has brought it to my attention that this is an ongoing issue for me.  I have spent much time thinking and praying about it.  So often a simplistic answer is offered …

Not Once

This morning I was reading in Romans.  Two words caught my attention – faith and believe.  I was caught by the fact that the words appeared to be used interchangeably in talking about coming to righteousness in Christ, yet I didn’t think that they meant the same thing.  After pulling out my dictionary to look both words up, I realized that their meaning is very similar.  Faith is the structure, believing is the action.  Faith is the physical bridge to God, believing is stepping out on that bridge and moving toward God, trusting the bridge (faith) to be true and solid. 
God’s faithfulness is beyond human comprehension.  We are incapable of faithfulness in every word, deed, and thought.  We do not deserve His faithfulness, yet in His mercy and grace He freely gives us what we do not deserve.
In thinking about our grief journey since Scott’s death, almost two years ago, I realized that I have had faith that God is true and would provide for us.  Only in moving forward am I demonstratin…

Down Days

Today is one of those down days.  It is beautiful outside, yet I lack the energy or the motivation to do something outside, much less inside.  I suppose that waking up with a severe headache certainly contributed to feeling down today.  Thankfully it has mostly subsided.  I find myself taking the time to think back over our vacation – this was the first one (other than trips to the cabin) since Scott’s death. 
We were so busy going and doing that I didn’t have much time to think about the moments that I marked in my memory, moments when Scott’s absence was so obvious and painful.  A majority of those moments were times of missing Scott for Jaelyn.  Playing tennis and pool with her -- both games that Scott was good at and I only know the basics -- and missing Scott’s patience in teaching her how to hold and improve her swing with a tennis racket or how to hold a pool cue and line up the ball to the pockets brought sadness to my heart.  I think the fact that our vacation was at Massan…

Father to the Fatherless

So, yesterday was Father’s Day.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this day brings such mixed emotions for Jaelyn and I.  I am beyond grateful for the wonderful father that I have.  He has been there for me whenever I have needed him.  He has never hesitated, even now, to let me know if he thought I needed correction or redirection.    Anytime I need or want help with a project, help with getting something repaired, need advice, or just need a hug, I know that he is there and will help or support me in any way that he can.
Yet, as you can imagine, I grieve for Jaelyn that her father is no longer here to fill that role for her.  Scott was a wonderful father to Jaelyn.  He loved to spend time with her, share his love of the outdoors and sports with her, and play with her.  This loss has been a huge loss for Jaelyn.  I see so clearly how she craves that father figure.   She may not consciously realize how much she craves it, but it is so obvious when you see her with the special men in her l…

Salsa

There are a lot of thought floating in my head this weekend, calling out to put on paper.  So, this is my second post today – rather than combine my convoluted thoughts into one post.
This weekend I had a picnic with friends at my house.  One of our friends asked me to make my salsa for the picnic.  There was such a mixture of feelings when I got his email with the request.   Scott asked me to make my salsa more than any other recipe or food item I have ever made for him.  I had not made it since before his death, until this weekend.  I wasn’t sure I would ever make it again – it is so connected with Scott in my mind.  Scott would always help me make it – chopping the onions for me since I can’t chop onions without crying my eyes out—and was always my taste tester. 
I took a short-cut when I made it this weekend and bought pre-cut onions and peppers at the store.  I truly thought that I would cry my way through making it.  I didn’t cry, but Scott was very present in my thoughts the …

Strength

“Grief walked into your heart and created room for your soul to grow.  In that space, your soul has been, and is being, strengthened.”  -- “Second Firsts” by Christina Rasmussen
This quote is from a book on surviving and thriving after life-changing grief.  While this book is written from a psychological and scientific point of view, rather than a Biblical point of view, there are many points that are very much in line with the Biblical point of view.
 In the last six to eight weeks I have been thinking back over the past twenty two months since Scott’s death and the recent death of my grandma.  This quote is certainly true, although I have to admit that it jarred me a bit when I first read it.  I still struggle with the thought of good coming from a death, although the other side of that is we want something good to come out of a death as if to make the life worthwhile.  I think it is much easier for me to accept the thought of good coming out of Scott’s death for other people.  Whe…

And the winner is . . . .

And the winner is. . . .  Emily Long. 
Emily Long is the very first recipient of the Scott Bradley “Life is an Adventure” scholarship.    It was such an honor and a blessing to present the scholarship this morning to Emily. After Pastor Marc shared a little bit about Emily, her character, and her faith with me this past week, it felt very fitting that she be the first recipient.  Emily volunteered her time to provide childcare at Scott’s funeral for family and friends traveling from out of the area.  She is set to attend Lancaster Bible College in the fall – my alma mater.
 In the four or five weeks since I agreed to be a part of the scholarship I have been agonizing over what to share this morning.   After many scribbling and crossing out of words and sentences, I finally had something in writing by Wednesday night this past week.  I put it aside and didn’t think about it again until last night.  After re-reading what I wrote, it left me with an unsettled feeling that it didn’t qui…

Celebrating Eleven Years of Healing

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Yesterday was eleven years since my brother, Jason, died.  Eleven years since he traded a painful, broken and limited human body for the healthy, painless and whole heavenly body.  Twelve years he persevered, kept the faith, and touched lives in that painful and broken human body.  Our family has grieved his accident, his death, and the 12 years of changed life in between.  Jason’s determination, faith, and outreach to shut-ins has touched so many lives, despite his inability to talk verbally for those 12 years.  Jason always had a tender heart, but this was much more evident when his heart was the only completely whole and correctly functioning part of his body. 
From time to time I think about what life might have been like if the accident had not occurred.  Would Jaelyn have other cousins running around?  How large would our family get-togethers be?  I often think about how much Jason would have enjoyed Jaelyn, yet he never got to meet her this side of heaven.  I have to believe …

Grandma's Legacy

For the past ten weeks, I have been part of a women’s Bible study focused on learning the Biblical and God designed role for women.  The ultimate God designed role of women is to bring glory to God.  I can truly say that I cannot think about my Grandma without also thinking about God. 
Now I know that my Grandma was not perfect, but in my eyes growing up and still to this day, she was and is the “perfect” representation of a Christian woman.  She was a gentle and caring woman who lived simply and was content with what God provided.  She did not complain and I don't remember ever hearing her raise her voice.  You could not know my Grandma without seeing the evidence of her close walk with her Lord.  I have never doubted or questioned her daily prayers for me, her family, her friends, her church, and the world.  She was mission-minded.  She lived on little and gave much. 
My Grandma did not have an easy life – losing her mother and three young brothers at a very young age, among …

Great News!!!!

For the last couple of weeks I have been so excited to share some amazing news with everyone.   About two weeks ago I received a phone message from the youth pastor at our church.  They are establishing a scholarship for a graduating senior and were asking permission to name it after Scott. When I heard the phone message I sat and cried for a moment and it was such an amazing feeling -- I'm not sure I can describe it adequately.  This is such an amazing legacy for Scott and such an honor.  It still brings me to tears when I think about it.  The first annual Scott Bradley Adventurous Life Scholarship will be presented on June 1, 2014 during the 10:45 a.m. service.  It is meant to recognize a graduating senior with an adventurous spirit who takes many steps of faith throughout their youth career, including steps of faith in living out their walk with God, steps of faith in stepping up in leadership, and steps of faith in trying new things. 
As I think back to the days just after S…

Tennis Lessons

Tonight as we were sitting on the steps to our deck, enjoying the beautiful weather, Jaelyn asked if we could go play tennis.  I have to admit, it took a few moments of wrestling mentally with myself.  This would be the first time on the tennis courts since Scott’s death.  We used to go to the tennis courts as a family.  Scott would take time teaching Jaelyn how to hold the racket, do the forehand and backhand, and spend infinite amounts of time patiently hitting balls for her to practice.  When she would get tired, then Scott and I would hit the ball back and forth until I would get tired.  Then Scott would practice his serves until Jaelyn and I were bored and ready to go.   I’m sure we were always ready to go long before Scott.
Tonight in my mental arguments with myself, I finally reminded myself that if Jaelyn wanted to do something that she enjoyed with Scott, it would be very selfish on my part to say no, just because it would be painful for me.  Tennis is always something that…

Shaken World and Shattered Expectations

I have had such a myriad of thoughts and emotions this weekend.  Yesterday I had the privilege of taking a close friend to Scott’s grave for the first time.  As I sit here thinking back over the time at the cemetery yesterday, I am struck with a few things.
Being at the cemetery on Good Friday and talking about Scott’s death has really made me think about the emotions on the very first Good Friday.  I can imagine the grief and despair flooding Jesus’s friends, disciples, and family.  I don’t believe at that moment that any of them had any faith in Jesus returning from the dead.  After all, other than a few people they had not seen anyone come back from the dead – and those people were raised from the dead by Jesus’s hand.
I can picture Mary and Mary Magdalene approaching the tomb after the Sabbath.  I can imagine the grief overwhelming them as they were facing the reality of Jesus’s death.  Then seeing the Angel of the Lord roll away the stone and receiving the message of Jesus’s res…

Shadows and Light

Bad news or tragedy brings the question to mind, is God really good?  That question has been raised by me and many people over the months since Scott’s death.  How could God do this?  Why take Scott and leave my grandmothers who are both in their 90’s and have lived full lives?  This is a conversation that my mom and I have had a few times in the last couple of days –in talking about recent health crisis for friends and family.  About a month ago I began reading a book entitled, “You’ll Get Through This”  by Max Lucado.  I read a few chapters and then put it down for a couple of weeks until tonight.  It really spoke to my heart and I want to share a short excerpt from the book.
“Our choice comes down to this:  trust God or turn away.  He will cross the line.  He will shatter our expectations.  And we will be left to make a decision.  . . .Is God good when the outcome is not? . . . God owes us no more explanation than this.  Besides, if he gave one, what makes us think we would underst…

Fifteen

Fifteen.  Fifteen years.  Thursday would have been our fifteenth wedding anniversary.  Last year’s wedding anniversary was probably the hardest “first” that I faced and probably the only “first” that was even harder than I had anticipated.  I treasure all of the memories that we have had, but each wedding anniversary is a reminder of the future memories and special moments lost.  They are a reminder of joys and regrets.  It is amazing how much insight and wisdom we have in looking back.  I always thought that we had time to “get it right.”  But without warning or preparation, that time to “get it right” was gone.   We definitely did not have a perfect marriage – there were areas that were great and areas that needed improvement, as I’m sure any married couple could say.  Yet, we were working on those things that needed improvement.  When I look back I see my stubbornness.  Too often our areas that needed improvement, in my mind, became a battle to be won rather than a team effort to …

Adjusting Focus

In the last couple of weeks I have been seeing a true shift in my purpose and direction.  The past year and a half have been focused primarily on grieving our loss of Scott and finding a way to move forward.  Part of my focus during that time was on helping Jaelyn grieve.  In the past few weeks I have really felt God pulling me toward a different focus in my devotional time and in my thought processes.  For anyone following my Facebook posts recently, you have already had a pretty big glimpse into how God is speaking to me.
Sometime before Christmas I was looking for new devotional books for my quiet times.  At that time I picked up two devotional books and another book.  The book I felt the most led to pick up was a woman’s devotional.  It really met me where I was at that moment in some of the grief steps I was facing.  Yet after about a month to six weeks, I began struggling to find a personal connection in the daily readings.  It took me a few weeks of this struggle before I gav…

Seeing His Footsteps In The Sand

Saturday, as I was thinking about Valentine’s Day, I was trying to remember if I wrote a post last year for Valentine’s Day – my first since Scott’s death.  I began looking back and re-reading posts that I wrote in the first six months after his death.  Wow – as emotional as it was to look back, it was so encouraging.  To see how far I have come in this seemingly never ending journey was so encouraging.  I remember how dark and deep the hole of grief seemed in those first days and months.  This journey is so slow that it is difficult to see the progress as you go.  I would strongly encourage anyone in this journey to find some way of documenting it, whether it is writing, photos, drawing, or simply phrases noted on a calendar.  

It was such a blessing to see the lessons God has taught me, the ways He has blessed me, and His perfect timing in words of encouragement and grace from friends, family, and sometimes strangers.  It is such a clear documentation of His footsteps in the sand …

Daddy's Veins

Sometimes I wish I thought like a nine year old.  It would certainly help me understand Jaelyn much better and avoid saying things that are interpreted differently in a nine year old’s mind than in an adult’s mind.
Last week we began the first of many trips to a cardiologist’s office.  Because of Scott’s death, unexpectedly, at such a young age due to undiagnosed heart issues, her pediatrician wanted her to be screened before her 10th birthday.  The pediatrician and I wanted to be at least a year and a half to two years out from Scott’s death for Jaelyn’s sake emotionally.   Recently there were some tests in the family that caused us to decide to do it now rather than later, just for peace of mind. 
Once the referral was made to a cardiologist, things began happening so quickly that my head was spinning.   I began having little conversations with Jaelyn, explaining what was going to be happening and trying to explain, simply, what had caused her daddy’s death.  Her greatest anxiety…

Big and Bold with Childlike Faith

Over the last week, God has brought prayer to my mind again and again.  Last week I was praying for a specific health situation with a family member.  All my prayers were that the health issue would be identified and would be treatable.  Yet when the answers came from those health tests, God chose to answer in a way I didn’t think was possible – all the tests were normal and there was nothing to be concerned about. 
Then, sitting in church on Sunday, absorbing Pastor Daryl’s message about prayer, it was hard to contain myself.  The thoughts bursting through my head in response to Pastor Daryl’s message and illustrations were hard to keep up with, specifically the encouragement to pray big and bold prayers.  What we think of as big and bold, God can and will outdo.  Yet we are always surprised when He does do it.  It is too easy to put God in a box, forgetting that He is the God of the universe and He CAN AND WILL DO even the impossible. 
Just last week, during family devotions, Jae…

"But what I did know put all that I didn't know into its place"

When I began reading my devotional tonight, it struck me right away.The title was “The Powerful Hope In Peace”.The author began sharing the story of the day she received her cancer diagnosis.After leaving the doctor’s office with her husband, with many unknowns and uncertainties ahead of her, she broke down and cried.After about fifteen minutes, as she began pulling herself together for the drive home, she describes the peace that settled over her:
“But what I did know put all that I didn’t know into its place.I knew that God was on His throne.I knew that He was still good and I was still loved.I knew that Jesus took care of death for me a long time ago on an old rugged cross.And I knew that He was with me every step of the way.”-- Leighann McCoy

I cannot tell you how many times I have re-read the line, “But what I did know put all that I didn’t know into its place.”What a powerful and simple thought!While I had my moments of despair (and still do) after Scott’s death, I don’t think I e…

Faith of a Child

One of my informal New Year’s resolutions that I made about a month ago was to make sharing my relationship with God with Jaelyn.  When she was little, we did devotions with her every night at bedtime.  Life has a way of getting in the way and before I knew it, it had been a few years since we had done devotions together.  I have been thinking, praying, and looking for a family devotional to use for Jaelyn and me.  I purchased one a few weeks ago, but with the holidays hadn’t had a chance to begin using it – actually, truth is, I didn’t make it a priority. 
At Christmas time I talked with Jaelyn about starting family devotions together and wanted to start after the New Year when we were back in normal routines.  I am ashamed to say that Jaelyn had to ask me what devotions were.  Making daily time to spend with God has been a priority over the past sixteen months, especially since Scott’s death.  I haven’t always been consistent with it, but have really prioritized that over the last…