Saturday, December 22, 2012


With every "first", there is some degree of pushing.  And after the push, comes the crash...  Today was one of those days.  I have a beautiful post written about the gift of faith, but I feel compelled to share the lower parts of this journey as well as the high... I want to be an expression of love, life, and faith, but in the context of real human weakness and sorrowful loss.

Since I awakened this morning to the sound of Alea's footprints coming toward me, every moment, every movement, ever breath, has been lived with great difficulty, as though heavy bags of concrete were strapped to my shoulders... my insides weighted down with raw, cold despair.

It is in this context that I become aware of the anger, roaring steadily beneath my surface.  I have read of anger, even rage, as a necessary part of grief, but often wonder about it. I don't often acknowledge my anger and when I do, I do not understand where it comes from or what I am feeling?  It isn't blame or anger towards God, or anything rational... just rage.

My friend Jody gave me a book called Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff.  In it he writes, It's the neverness that is so painful.  Never again to be here with us..."  He says, he might have been able to live with a month, a year, five years... But not this forever.

I think it is this neverness that ignites my anger.  When the girls are fussy, tantrums are rampant, no one is listening or cooperating... When my days are long and lonely, less people around to keep me busy...  When people say things and mean well, but it still hurts...

It's the neverness, the finality of sudden death, the total inability to have any say or control in the matter.  There was no opportunity to pray, no chance for bargaining with God, no goodbyes or farewells... Just over.  Forever.  A forever as big as eternity...

I will never again see Lynn's face as he comes around the corner, home from work, with the girls running to greet him.  Never again will I feel his arms come around from behind me when I'm doing dishes at the sink.  Never again will I answer the phone and hear his voice, Hi Babe! Never again will I feel his presence, exuding passion, energy, and life, or his tenderness as he reaches over and touches my face in the car.  It's the way he leaned back just so when satisfied after a good meal.  The way he oddly hiked up his pant legs in the summer when he was hot instead of changing into shorts.  The way he played music at our piano with two eager daughters climbing all over him.  The way he sparkled when he talked about his favorite composers or what concert he was doing next...

Neverness.  It's cold, and yet it burns... cold burning* Nicholas wrote.  Only in grief, in neverness, does that make any sense.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Open hands, the gift of generosity.

Where's your gift, Mama? Alea asked, after looking through the gifts under the Christmas tree.
Well, I responded (at the time), I may not get a gift this year because Daddy's not here to buy me one... 

Later I thought, Perhaps it is time to write about the gifts Daddy has given me.  Maybe there could be no better time than the Christmas season...

Lynn, being Lynn, sang back-up once with Steve Green at the church where he did his internship, Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan.  We were dating at the time, but very quickly falling in love.  During that concert, Steve Green called his wife on her cell phone through the sound system for the whole auditorium to hear and sang to her "their" song - Holding Hands, by Steve Green.  Later, back stage, Lynn asked him, Hey Steve? (Okay, he likely didn't say it like that...) What was that song you sang to your wife?  Steve replied with a twinkle in his eye, When are you getting engaged? Lynn sort of flushed and stammered, Well I'm not, really, yet...  Still, it became our song :)  And lo and behold, (I should have seen it coming), he tried to sing it to me as part of his vows on our wedding day. (I say tried because he wept like a baby and barely got a single word out!!)

This became a song that we listened to throughout our marriage on very special occasions... We danced to it in the night, in a dark and quiet house after the girls had gone to bed... Holding hands always meant something special, a belonging, a loyalty, a commitment...

I remember a few particular instances since Lynn's death when I watched another husband tenderly take his wife's hand in his, holding it as if it was life's most precious gift... It was beautiful, but bittersweet, like tears of joy streaming down your cheeks, while a knife is stabbing at your heart...

On our anniversary, after going through our wedding pictures, I picked up some more of our old cards.  The first one I opened said, My hand misses yours.  And I thought, Yes, Babe!! My hand misses yours!

But as I felt the emptiness of my hands, that still small voice whispered inside my heart... Open hands.

Lynn led our family in radical generosity.  Selfishness was not permitted and would not be tolerated.  I began to say to our children (at least 100 times a day...), We expect you to have a generous heart, and a generous heart means open hands, open hands for sharing... We are blessed to be a blessing to others.

My hand is empty of its companion.  How my hand misses his!!  But Lynn left me with a gift to steward... the gift of generosity.  My hands may be empty, but they are open.  Before, one hand was open while the other one filled... Now they are both open, turned outward, We are blessed to be a blessing...

Lynn's example of generosity impacts me.  I feel a responsibility to steward this gift, though I will never be Lynn and cannot carry forward who he was and is...  Still, with my will, and in humility because it is not something I could ever accomplish in my own strength, I choose a generous heart, with open hands, knowing full well that God will continue to fill them with Himself and all the riches of His glory... But God help me if, like my toddlers-turned-preschoolers-turned-kindergardeners, I struggle to share!  We are blessed to be a blessing!  We are filled to be poured out!

Make me a river in which your living waters flow freely and generously to those around me.  With open hands, I surrender myself as a vessel of your love.  Nothing I am or have is my own.  It all belongs to You.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How the soul grows.

My 9th anniversary has come and gone, except Lynn was not here to share it with me.  Instead, it was a day of memories, reflection, and quiet celebration...

It would be easy to romanticize my love with Lynn, to look at beautiful pictures taken by Daniel St. Louis (whose career makes ordinary people look more beautiful than they are...!), and to think that we are somehow special...  It would also be easy to say Why me!?  Why Lynn!? and dwell on the injustice of his life ending so suddenly.

After death, it is easy to change a person or marriage into something ethereal, otherworldly, almost creating a new persona... But grief must be done in honesty, just as worship must be done in truth.

I think sudden loss (brace yourself...) is like someone violently gouging out your eyes, the world as you knew it has gone black.  Some people continue in this state of blackness for a long time, maybe forever.  They never learn to see again.  But I think others learn a whole new way of seeing.  God gives us new eyes where we can see and appreciate the sorrows of this world, identify more closely with the whole of humanity, stare boldly into the face of evil and wickedness and pain... And in that place we see the value of life, the treasure of each moment, the meaning in every breath.  The soul grows in grief so that we can see the world with a whole new perspective, with new eyes, and be held captive by the grace so evident in our lives*.

Yesterday was filled with both grace and sorrow.  I went to lunch by myself and it was mysteriously paid for by a friend who was leaving as I arrived.  It snowed :).  I napped.  My supper came from food prepared and dropped off by others. Two friends came over in the evening and we watched one of my favourite movies, a Christmas tradition, Little Women.  My Mom is a never ending blessing and took on the work load of the day... But I also felt weakened physically, to the point of collapsing, by the intense emotions of the day.  I napped fitfully, with haunting thoughts and images swirling around in my mind, I sat with no energy or motivation or strength to engage with my daughters and love on them throughout the day...

Yesterday was the first day I experienced the tangible pains of sorrowful loss with an unspeakable sensation of joy and thanksgiving at the same time.  And I thought... this is how the soul grows...

It reminds me of something God continues to resonate in my spirit from Isaiah 54:2, Enlarge your tents... (I blogged about it Aug 16th, ~2 weeks before Lynn's death - Enlarge your tents.)

God wants to fill our tents with blessings because we are blessed to be a blessing... The world is suffering and in need of God's grace, but North Americans can trick ourselves into a sense of control...  We want to control our losses and keep out the pain of suffering, seeing with old eyes that miss the glittering grace of God in every situation... Enlarge your tents!!  Grow your soul by embracing the pain, sorrow, and losses of this world! So that we see with new eyes and have room for a greater light that reaches further into the darkness than we would otherwise never dare to go...

Can I survive the sharp pains of loss and allow my soul to stretch to the point of embracing both the sufferings of this world as well as the richness of God's grace???

*Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss  (Again!!!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A calling.

Oh, how I'd love to be sleeping... But it's the eve of my anniversary and my mind is exploding with memories!  My mom's here, the girls are asleep, the lights are out, the house is quiet...  I MUST write!

I remember the eve of my wedding day, 9 years ago today, maybe close to this very moment...  I was laying in bed, wrestling with the doubts and fears I carried in my heart...  My wedding dress hung in the closet, my vows were written and memorized, and I had written a letter to Lynn in my journal to give to him the next day.  Soon, I would be speaking my vows, binding myself to a man I was powerfully in love with, and entering into a "lifelong" covenant of mutual love and respect.  That special night, I remember closing my eyes, peace reigning in my heart, with the hint of a smile on my face. This was it!

I was honored to be Lynn's wife, because he was so great and loving and kind... but also because I knew God had called me to it.  Being Lynn's wife was a calling to me.  It was not easy, as some might think.  It was a high calling with great expectations.

In recent years, I remember falling back onto my bed in exasperation, begging God for a break from the intensity of my struggle... (Something I will likely share more about as time goes on...)  I remember God speaking to me again and again.. He is a great man, my Daughter.  I have called you to be the great woman behind a great man. 

It may sound terribly prideful, but my role as Lynn's wife played an important part in his life and ministry.  He relied on me for strength, courage, constant encouragement, unconditional love, grace and integrity at all times... He held me to the standard of the Word and did not ever believe in just this once. He was driven by self discipline, passion, and idealism mixed with radical faith and enthusiasm.  He expected sacrifice, humility, and meekness, reigned in strength and a guarded tongue...  How we grew and what we "accomplished" in such a short time is really quite remarkable and exhausts me just thinking about it :)

Lynn loved me with an incredibly powerful love, but he also expected everything.  With his words, he said, I support you.  If you want to do something than do it.  We fought often about this.  His words were true and genuine according to what he believed in his head, but his eyes always told me the tale of his heart... Please don't go.  I need you here.  I need you to stay so I can go...  My decisions to be less involved in church, less persuant of a musical/ministry "career", and more involved behind the scenes was largely due to this great inner struggle, this calling I could not escape from that kept me bound to one purpose.. Be a great woman behind this great man... 

Was it Lynn or was it God? ...asking me to sacrifice my own passions and ambitions in life to love Lynn into his...?  I failed so miserably at this so much of the time.  I was so desperate to escape the confines of wife-hood and motherhood... My bones burned within me, on fire with another calling somehow separate from my calling as Lynn's wife.  In my head, I could never understand it... Why God?  Why do you continue to give me this burning in my bones, a calling and passion to speak your word, to write, to sing... then ask me to sacrifice it in honor of my husband???  How does any of this make sense?  

Now I know a small truth that makes a big difference to my interpretation of these two separate callings.  God knew it was seasonal.

God gave me a great gift in my marriage to Lynn (I look forward to expounding on this in future posts...).  He taught me and is teaching me so much about love, life, faith... But he has also been preparing me for the life ahead.  Though it is foggy and scary and unbelievable on so many levels, there is a calling that remains on my life that has been there since I was a child... a calling that is not seasonal, but rooted and grounded in the depths of my being...  As a child of God and daughter of the King, as a worshipper and an artist, as a believer and lover of God... a calling remains for me to lay down my life and open my heart as a vessel for His Spirit, for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven...

Monday, December 17, 2012

The darkness of December.

Christmas lights everywhere.  Shimmering.  Glittering.  Sparkling with glee.

I cannot help but enjoy this season, to laugh with my children, to be blessed by the festivities, to get caught up in the contagious excitement of the season... And yet, behind my smile lies a deep heaviness. I am aware of the two worlds I am trying to juggle... The world of my broken, traumatized heart and the world of engaging with the present.

How are you? people ask.  Are you spending Christmas in Moncton? they ask.  How are the girls doing? and When can you come for dinner?

I answer these questions with limited cognitive awareness of what I am actually saying.  Sometimes, I stare straight ahead dumbfounded, completely unable to put my heart and life into words that touch my lips...

Sometimes, in conversation, when people are free to say whatever's on their mind... I find myself wavering...  My mind gets taken up into a world of trauma and brokenness.  I see the person in front of me talking, but cannot take in what they are saying.  All I hear is the echo of emptiness in the big dark cloud that follows me wherever I go, where my husband used to take up residence... The part of me that was him, one with him... just empty.  In that hollow space, my singular thoughts echo loudly... repeating over and over, My husband died.  He died.  Sometimes it says, Lynn would be doing this.  Lynn would be saying that.  Where is Lynn's contribution in this conversation?

How can the world just go on?  How can people ask me how I am doing or what my plans are?  How can I sit and discuss trivial things that have no bearing on my life?  How is any of this real?  I do not want to be self-absorbed, and yet I want to scream... Lynn is gone!  I find myself feeling isolated in a terrible grief while I watch the rest of the world move forward...  I've been there, people say.  Sometimes it's death, sometimes divorce... But you haven't.  You haven't been here.  My loss is unique, as is yours.

There are so many others grieving.  I have friends and loved ones. We are all grieving with Newtown, Conn.  Yet, my heart is so heavy-laden, pierced with the realities of my own grief, that I can barely manage to go there, emotionally, to grieve with others, to mourn the loss and the wickedness of our humanity...

My mind and heart are swallowed up in the simple fact that I am alone.  My husband is no more.  It's Christmas time.  And in two days, it is our 9th anniversary.  My husband died, and the world moves on...

I have suppressed my world of personal brokenness and trauma for many days now... I have engaged as best as I can in the present with the people around me... But now the menacing black cloud of grief is rearing its ugly head, rising again to the surface, expanding and taking over, laying me flat on my back and sapping me of my strength...  

It is the darkness of December, this wretched month, in which the light of the world descends, resides, and impacts... Be born in me, my Jesus.  Fill me anew.  Take up residence in the humble scene of my sorrowful heart...

Friday, December 14, 2012

A barbed wire fence?

Where's my Dad? Alea asks, speaking as the pink pony with the purple hair.
He's right over there! replies Roya as the littlest pet shop deer character.
No, that's not my Dad!  Where's my Dad!? yells the pink pony...

I listen to these play conversations constantly throughout the day while I make lunch, clean the kitchen, turn over the laundry, go through the mail, try to tidy the living room, listen to the phone messages, input receipts into the "budget", run around constantly responding to sibling fights, cheering when they show me a craft or something they've accomplished, trying to write down a grocery list and think ahead for meals (even when they've already been prepared for me), trying to get everyone out the door on time, remembering to start the car early and brush off the snow, and oops! I forgot to water the tree again! and dropping everything when Alea needs to go to the bathroom, even though she is perfectly capable of going on her own...

No matter how much I am or do, it is not enough.  Alea still craves her Daddy's love and attention, the kind of arms that throw her up in the air, chase her through the halls, and tickle her all over... She wants me to play ball and take her outside to run around.  Roya needs more one on one time with me.  She craves Mommy-daughter dates and drawing times together.  She needs a safe intimate environment where she can feel encouraged and share the deep feelings of her heart.  She stays up late into the night, waiting until Alea is asleep and everything else is quiet, so she can get me to herself... But then, I have nothing left to give and want desperately to lay my head down and go to sleep, or sit for a few minutes of quiet by myself.

Virginia Watts wrote, Becoming a single parent is like giving birth to a barbed wire fence - extremely painful.* 

Yikes!!  I am experiencing the labor pains, the crude and awful birth of the multi-faceted challenges involved in single parenting.  My parental influence has drastically diminished.  I didn't just lose Lynn or lose a father, I lost the "more" that was the sum of our parts.  I went from half the pie to an 1/8 of the pie with Lynn's portion empty and terrifyingly void. Some days I think, I can do this.  We're doing fine.  Other days, I fall to my knees and weep, I can't do this, Lord!  It is impossible to do everything by myself!

What is impossible with man/woman is possible with God (Luke 18:27).

Months ago, I wrestled with my standards of parenting... How can I uphold mine and Lynn's parental standards by myself.  It can't be done.  Then, I began to let go (a little) and trust God to fill the void that was left in my daughters' lives.  Now I realize the standard is not lower, but much higher...

You and the Holy Spirit are always a majority, says my American friend, Carla. :)

Roya, 4 years old, told me at the dinner table, If Alea and I are in trouble, God will help us. He will reach down with His big hand and hold us, and we will reach back, like this (with demonstration) and hold on to Him. (Just like Beth Moore in believing God!)

I am incapable of accomplishing my to do list each day, touching my daughters' lives the way I want to, meeting the demands of school, schedules, errands...  But I think God is taking care of us!  My girls know they are loved and see God's hand tangibly at work in our lives!

And I think... What if all parents worried less about needs and roles and all the numerous good Christian things we're supposed to do to raise our children, and more on loving God, and trusting Him to be our God, teach us, and train us by His Spirit.... Maybe we would all be better off in the end, and have a Spirit-filled generation that walks the earth as children of the light...?

Maybe my children will be okay with God as their Father and me on my knees, desperately clinging to God's goodness and grace??? 

*The Single Parent, by Virginia Watts

Thursday, December 13, 2012


...quiet.  There's nothing like it.

After travels, and visits, and concerts, and dentist appointments, and regular life chaos... the quiet feels warm and inviting like a hot mug of tea and a warm glowing fireplace.  People and activities tend to draw me into the present, keep me moving forward, hold me captive in the real world.  But here, in these quiet moments, I can retreat into the other part of my being that just needs to feel the absence of my husband and go over and over it in my mind... He died.  He really died.  Did he really die?  Yes, I remember it.  My husband died.  I have to remind myself, not in an obsessive way, or an inability to move on.  But because the mind plays tricks and denial is still my friend :).  How quickly I can move into that place where I am secretly telling myself he's just away on a trip and this has all been a terrible dream.

Jerry Sittser* uses another metaphor in his grappling with grief.  He describes the relationships we have with others as dynamic, living, and always moving forward.  Like a motion picture, it smoothly transitions from one scene to the next, always an awareness of more to come.  Then suddenly, the screen freezes and the motion picture has turned into a snapshot suspended in time, incomplete.  With a DVD, a person might take it out and clean it, or skip ahead to the next scene.  In death, the relationship that was alive, moving forward, full-dimensional, is left incomplete, a snapshot, with no conclusion or resolve.

In the first couple of months after Lynn's death, I wrestled with all kinds of emotions inside.  What was I supposed to do with a full heart of everything from anger and disappointment to total love and commitment towards a man that was no longer?  How do I adjust from a dynamic motion picture, always an awareness of movement, the assumption that we would have the 75 year marriage that we signed up for...( Lynn always said our contract was for 75 years and after that we'd re-evaluate!)

Now, our marriage relationship is a snapshot, like a masterpiece that will never be finished, frozen in a frame of questions, doubts, memories, and regrets.  I will never see the reward after marital struggle, the elastic nature of marriage, ebbing and flowing, pushing and pulling, but always bound together... resulting in a beautiful oneness that takes a lifetime to accomplish.

Now I am forced into a different life, a new motion picture, with a moving plot and riveting climax...?

But the snapshot will always remain, framed with gratitude and longing for what might have been.

*A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Silhouette, by LRE

by Lynn Robert Erskine

(written maybe 2003?)

My heart-
A window.
So I stare.

A movement.
An unmistakable
Stands in front of
The window.

The hair.
The curves.
The moves.
All too familiar.
No doubt about it - it’s

But you’re looking at
Something in
Your hands.

Even a silhouette can’t hide
Your smile.

I can feel
Your eyes, and
I realize.

I think I’m watching
You, but 
You’re beholding
My heart.

And I love it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Plunging East.

Jerry Sittser recounts a dream he had after his traumatic loss:

I dreamed of a setting sun.  I was frantically running west, trying desperately to catch it and remain in its fiery light and warmth.  But I was losing the race. The sun was beating me to the horizon and was soon gone.  I suddenly found myself in the twilight. (p. 41)*  In the twilight he turns to see the suffocating darkness approaching from the east.  He is exhausted, but terrified.  Everything in him wants to continue west, chasing that last bit of warmth and light from the sun.  

A few days after his dream, Jerry (we're on a first name basis at this point) learned of a poem that says though East and West seem farthest removed on a map, they eventually meet on a globe (p. 41)*.  Later someone else said to him, the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. (p. 42)* 

Every day I am conflicted by this longing to chase after my past, run after that last bit of warmth found in the memories of my past life and marriage.  But the sun is setting and darkness looms.  It reminds me of another widow who wrote, I knew that I could not allow my past to overwhelm the present if I was going to move forward. (I am not home, but will come back to credit this source later.)  The future seems so barren and lonely.  Living a life that few around me understand and can relate to.  Raising my children alone.  Facing everything alone...  (The community of friends and family makes such a difference!!  But it does not fill the empty side of the bed or the silence of my house when everyone else goes home...)

I have no desire to plunge east.  I have no anticipation for the coming sunrise.  I scarcely believe it to be real.  But, I must plunge east!  I will plunge east because my daughters deserve a full and happy life.  I will plunge east because it honors my husband and all that he stood for...

But mostly, I will plunge east because God's Word is alive and active in me (Heb 4:12).  Because he has given me every spiritual blessing under heaven (Eph :13).  Because he has given me His grace that is sufficient, and power to be perfected in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  Because His love never fails (1 Cor 13:8).  I plunge east because I cannot deny my God.  To sit in hopelessness would be just that, denying Him, who He is, and all that He's done for me.

I miss my husband.  I want to chase the setting sun.  Father, carry me eastward...

*A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittser.  (I'm not finished it yet, but, so far, I HIGHLY recommend this book!!!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Through the veil.

In the moment I looked upon my husband's body and saw death with my own eyes, eternity exploded in my mind, expanding to become the vast majority of my "reality".  Lynn's shell was empty, evacuated, left, forsaken, back to the dust.  But he was so alive!  He lives, I have no doubt, but I can only catch glimpses of his life looking through the veil that lies between life and death, his world and mine.

He is worlds away.  And yet, there are days when he seems so close...  My thoughts about this have been "conservative" (hopefully meaning, "not crazy"), but I do have my moments...

In the first week after Lynn died, when a dark calamity overtook my home and the thick cloud dripped with the wretchedness of death... I  escaped up to my bedroom for a moment of quiet despair.  I remember looking up and asking, Lynn, do you see any of this?  Do you see what is happening to us?  Then, the image of Lynn falling down on his face before the Lord over and over again came to the forefront of my mind.  Was I happy? No.  Was I blessed?  No.  Was I even thankful?  Only a little.  I thought, Of course.  You're up there weeping and basking in the presence of our living saviour while I deal with all this!  Then I sat up and said, (out loud, I think),  Lynn! Get off your face and pay attention down here!  :)

Other times, when I was desperate for the peace and comfort only Christ can bring, I entered into wordless prayer, trying to draw near to the Lord...  Then, the image of Lynn standing there at the throne of grace would come to the forefront of my mind.  It would overtake my thoughts and ability to concentrate, blocking my view of Christ...  With eyes closed and waving my hand, almost like swatting at a buzzing fly, I'd say,  Lynn!  Get out of the way, will ya!? I'm trying to see Jesus!!

It is surreally odd feeling connected to a man who has died and risen again.  I do not know how long it will last.  But it has been a journey.  Seeing him through the veil evokes a myriad of different emotions - anger, sadness, confusion, jealousy, loss, sorrow, depression, etc.

And also joy.  I have closed my eyes and travelled there, imagining that day when I'll meet him there... Emotional and experiencing the many wonders of glorification, I see him... walking toward me.  He is beautiful.  I see the radiance in his smile and the sparkle in his eyes.  His driven energy perfected into profound strength and depth of knowledge.  Not a quiet strength.  But calm.  His fears and insecurities I once felt lingering under the surface of his life, a calm and brilliant sea of hope, beauty, and perfected life.  The image reminds me of a choral composition he wrote not too long ago called, All will be well.  

I had to let the past go before I could dare to see Lynn through the veil.  When I see him, I still say, How?  How do I live life without you?  How do I move forward?  I am partially paralyzed by the beauty of him and the awesomeness of our God, and the scary unknown that still lies ahead of me...  How is any of this real? What has happened to my life? How is it that you are there and not here?

My life has always been lived with some awareness of what lies on the other side of this life.  But now I've had glimpses that excite me even more about God's Kingdom and glory and perfect love.  I only wish we could all take a short cut and get there now instead of moving along in this brilliant yet painful journey of redemption, bringing His kingdom come, His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven...

Monday, December 3, 2012


December looms over me like a dark heavy cloud.  I know it's so early in the process of grieving a loved one, but I find myself wondering, Does this ever end?  But I don't think it does.  It changes, ebbs and flows, life grows and continues, but grief and sorrow remain.  Like Jerry Sittser said, the death of a spouse (or other loved one), catastrophic loss as he calls it, is by definition without hope of recovery.  It is not a broken limb that can be fixed.  It is an amputation, a limb cut off, never to grow back again.

Today, I also find myself wondering, Can I allow my soul to grow through this month of December?  Can I embrace and endure this pain in a healthy way, so my soul is bigger, stronger, and healthier on the other side?  I suppose all things are possible.  But I cannot do it alone.

I am in a new season.  December 2nd marked the close of a sacred season of grief that I will never forget and will never have again.  The lingering presence of my beloved husband, his scent, his things, his love... sacredly tended to by a bereaved wife and grieving children.  I needed to withdraw, to grieve my husband privately as only a wife could. Though the world around me grieved and lived and carried on, time for me stood still.  I sat in the sacredness of my husbands death.  I love him so much.

Today, though, I am aware of a shift.  I've started longing for my church family and community, anxious to return (however hard it may be)...  The numbness and barrenness of shock and trauma have given way to a muddy puddle of wretched tears.  My strength, motivated by my love for my children, has diminished into a quivering weakness.  I am hurting, wounded, bereaved, and needing to grieve in the presence of others.

And now, here you are :).  My church family has waited three months... They patiently and graciously honored my need for space and quiet and reflection... for sacred grief.  But now I need you, and you are still here :)  Thank you.

There is only one problem with this... I am not easy to help.  Oooh my, it was hard to let friends come into my chaotic house today and clean!!  I'm embarrassed by my weakness, a total people pleaser, don't enjoy crying and breaking down in front of others, and still very introverted... all of these "qualities" make me a source of trouble for my family and friends :)  I am going to struggle in this season.  I am going to struggle in my grief (it was way harder than I anticipated decorating our Christmas tree, pulling out nostalgic ornaments, seeing the four Christmas stockings strewn about the floor...), but I am also going to struggle grieving with friends and family... being open and emotionally vulnerable.  (Funny that I'd struggle with that after putting some of my most intimate thoughts on the internet...?)

I hear my friend Liz's words to me, Allow the flow, Natasha.  Allow the flow. :)  And so that is my prayer, that I'll allow the flow, and that God will bring healing in this heavy season of grieving with and leaning on others.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three months.

It's December 1st.  Tomorrow marks 3 months since my husband died.

In the last several months, after staying with, seeing, touching my husband's dead body, I experienced a catastrophic explosion that left every corner of my world a dry and barren wasteland.  I was somehow held together and completely shattered at the same time.  I've been broken apart and sent lower than I ever knew possible. I've felt heart-wrenching pain strong enough to shred my insides and threaten my physical being, and I've felt a terrifying numbness, a still emptiness of the soul.  I've planned a funeral, picked a coffin, intentionally choosing the tux with a plain, "organic" wooden box... I've met with bankers and lawyers and financial advisors, and plodded through mountains and mountains of paperwork... (with much needed help from close friends and family).  I've watched my children scream and kick, question and doubt, grieving the loss of a loving father.  I've mourned my best friend, husband, lover, encouraging companion, fellow-challenger in the race toward Christ... (and so much more).

This month especially, I am inundated with sacred memories.  In the coming weeks, I will face my 29th birthday, our 9th anniversary, and of course, Christmas.

Today, we accompanied our precious neighbours, trekking through the tree acreage, bundled up in our winter snow gear, and sawed down a Christmas tree.  This evening, it stands tall and beautiful in my dining room.  Lynn, I think we finally found the right place for a Christmas tree in our home.  I know you would love it.  The fire is going, the girls are drifting off to orchestral Christmas melodies... I can close my eyes and see Lynn lighting the tree, jumping up for his IPad with 3 new Christmas recipes on the go, our vegan holiday fudge melting on the stove...

There were days in the last week when I had lost all desire to live.  I had no sense of life or joy in me at all, and for the first time, didn't know how to bring myself out of it.  (I couldn't even write, which tends to be my life line.)  A friend in Alberta sent me a package and in it a book called A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittser.  Wondering if anything could possibly speak to me in a moment of such void and emptiness, I nonchalantly picked it up and started reading.  I am deeply moved by the raw and profound words written by a meek man with great depth and genuine struggle.  He writes about the soul's somewhat elastic ability to grow in grief.  Grief is not something you "get over", catastrophic loss is never fixed this side of heaven.  But, your soul can grow to embrace the pain and suffering enabling a new kind of living that reaches deeper beneath the surface, as well as higher into the clouds...  (I could write a lot more on this... So far, I highly recommend this book.  Thank you, Donna!)

What is God doing in me?  I don't really know, but I am scared by it.  I somehow know I am not who I was and will never be the same again.  I feel old, like the last three months have aged me in years.  I do not know the young, naive, innocent girl I once was, but still, God has preserved my faith and somehow, a child-like joy and ability to love.

I haven't written in days.  And these days, a day is as a thousand years!!!  I have so much more to say.  But blog posts can only be so long...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Throw out the Bandaids.

The last 48 hours or so, I have been swept away in a wave of grief I'm still not sure I'll recover from...  Coming off the adrenaline rush of taking care of the girls and finding the right activities, mingled with a dark foreboding that clouds the lights and bells of the holiday season...

My mom took the girls for a couple of days so I could rest.  As soon as they were out the door I was on the floor, huddled in a fetal-like position, holding myself together so the inner pain wouldn't rip me apart, then I would surely die.  I knew I needed to be alone, but also feared being alone, so I contacted a few good friends to check in on me every now and then. (Thank you, friends.)

Never have I felt so ugly, so full of despair, so far from hope.  Who is this person?  Who will I become, particularly throughout this month of December with smiles and joyful singing and families gathering together?  I felt no joy in my heart (a first) and no desire to celebrate anything.  I would be happy to lay in my bed, bury my head in my covers, never eat another meal, and fade away to nothing.

Sunday morning, it snowed.  I picked myself up, got "decked out" in black apparel :), and adorned my neck with pearls (one of my favorite gifts from Lynn), and went to church.

I parked across the street so I could easily sneak in and out, and sauntered in fashionably late, slipping into the back row of the overflow.  Every breath felt intentional, so heavy was the weight pressing on my chest. Breathe, just breathe. I thought to myself over and over again.  (Thank you to Lois and Carla who quietly came and sat beside me, offering quiet but loving support.)

I was like Amanda (Part A: Metaphor) mind swirling with thoughts, smells, memories.  During the worship, I mouthed the words but nothing much came out.  I closed my eyes and watched Lynn at the piano, bouncing on the piano bench, hands flying over the keys, moving to the rhythm...  Then I opened my eyes and watched my church family... How precious and wonderful you are!!!!

When Cory got up to speak, I realized for the first time it was Christ the King Sunday.  I was so thankful I had come.  I needed church today.  I needed to be edified in the Word and built up in fellowship with the body... And I needed to tell the Lord, or hear from Him, that He is still King.  He is my King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yet again, God led me and provided what I needed to get through another day.

Later that evening I had a beautiful conversation with a loving friend who does not profess to be a Christian.  She was sharing some of her own journey and things she's learned along the way.  I thought O, Lord, help me to protect her heart!  How precious she is for opening up to me! What a journey she's walked!!  She is an amazing woman, and I realized my temptation was great to "stick a bandaid" on her story (and mine) with Christian words of truth and faith.  To throw out words about God's faithfulness and sovereignty, etc.  But it's that very approach that turned her away form God and the church...  

Help me in my brokenness not to stick a bandaid over a gaping wound.  The world sees Christians as broken bleeding people walking around claiming healing, all the while bleeding through the fabric of our faulty bandaids.  Help me to show real brokenness to these loved ones.  Help me to have the courage to say, yes, I have questions.  Teach me to lament in a society that longs to grieve but doesn't know how.

Lead me in the Way everlasting for Your name's sake...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Part A: Metaphor.

Amanda sits in her armchair, feeling the weight of her arms at rest on the coarse fabric.  In her mind, she recalls the familiarity of this chair, the greenish hue of its faded corduroy, the arc of the wooden frame, and the sun light coming in from the window across the room, caressing its visitor with glittering warmth...

Only days ago, Amanda was in a devastating accident that took away her sight.  Having been knocked unconscious during the crash, she awoke to an unfamiliar world of darkness.  She experienced the frightening sensation of all that she had known laying behind a sheet of blackness, beyond a vast expanse of mystery and uncertain emptiness.

Weeks ago, she would have run through this house at lightening speed, maneuvering every corner, leaping up and down the stairs, so familiar with this place she calls home.  But now... without sight, it is a foreign land.  Familiarity lies distant, almost unreachable, behind the thick veil of darkness.  So she sits...

Slowly but surely, the familiarity begins to return.  She learns to feel, hear, touch, and experience the armchair.  She shifts her weight in the seat and traces her fingers along the armrests.  She feels her long legs, comfortable with the height of the chair and the grounding of her feet planted firmly on the floor, offering a sense of balance and security.

So far, living within her new world is comfortable, doable.. as long as she remains here, on the chair...  But soon, she will stand up, and face again the trembling fear and draining challenge of maneuvering the room, this room.  She will stand up, feel with her hands, listen with her ears, will herself to remember the frame of her surroundings.  She will go around and around and around again, until this room becomes newly familiar, seen again through the eyes of the blind.  

Amanda will conquer the unusual familiarity of every room in her house.  She will build a new normal... a new way of seeing and feeling and moving throughout her world.  But the outside world... what about that?  With the outside world comes unexpected noises, busy streets, the hustle and bustle of daily lives.  How does she learn to maneuver blindly in a world of sight?  How does she exist socially in a world of body language, sudden movements, too many people talking at once?

One day at a time, Amanda climbs her mountain.  She learns new ways of coping as a blind person in a seeing world.  She finds new ways to congregate and fellowship with others.  But it is painstakingly slow.

Imagine if Amanda went from the armchair to the center of a busy mall?  Imagine if she was suddenly thrown into a crowd and expected to find her way?  Imagine the bombardments of smells, sounds, bumps and movements from busy passersby?

Amanda's journey from terrifying darkness to a new way of seeing takes years of hard work, patience, and loving support.

I did not lose my sight.  I lost my husband.  I do not wish to minimize the incredible trauma of blindness!  But wonder if the dark void that was once sight can be used metaphorically (however inadequate it may be) to express the ongoing trauma after the loss of a spouse, learning to live under the shadow of a painful and overwhelming void...  It seems so incomprehensible to a world of social culture and couple oriented activities...  (I am planning to write a Part B, but we shall see...)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Moving mountains.

Today, my Roya girl started school. :)  I had been wanting her in the K4 program at the Christian school, two days a week, and in the last couple of weeks, it all came together!  I am so proud of her!  She received a beautiful welcome from her teacher and classmates and it was everything I could do not to ball my eyes out!  She sat at her new desk with her name on it with nervous excitement.  I waited outside the classroom window, hoping she'd glance my way one last time for a little smile of reassurance... Sure enough she did and her eyes lit up as we exchanged glances.  Oh, my girl... you're all gown up!!!! :)

Alea's been settled in her preschool class for a while now, two mornings a week, but continues to ask for dance lessons.  She was enamored with Roya's new school this morning, and with every building we passed she seemed to ask, Is that my new dance school???

The last month or two (however long...) I have made it my mission to "build a new ground beneath my family".  My daughters needed to feel loved, cared for, and secure even in the midst of our traumatic loss.  I feel like it has taken all of my strength, every last drop of it, and feel exhausted beyond anything I have ever known... but I think we're doing it.  The girls are sleeping better at night, have a pretty consistent routine, and seem comfortable and confident in their activities... I've been so encouraged by the comments from outsiders looking in (my friend Liz being one of them) who see the change in our grief and family environment.

Paperwork and to do's will always take up a lot of my life, but I am so thankful the bulk of "transition" paperwork is mostly done.  I don't feel like I need to carry a folder of death certificates around in my purse anymore. :)  (Seriously.)

I finally made it back to our house church and hope to build this important fellowship back into our routine.  This was a hard step for me, as it was one of the most precious areas of mine and Lynn's ministry together.  It was one of the only times we were together as a family, ministering in our gifts as one (though not perfectly...).  I miss that.  But it was so good to be back, and the new location is lovely :)

I feel like we have moved mountains in our family in just a few short months... but I know there are more mountains ahead.  December will be hard.  I don't want to do a lot.  I just want to continue providing a loving home for my girls, get through all the firsts December brings, and then breathe again when it's over...

Then, maybe I'll be able to face the largest mountain of all that seems to loom high and large and wide on the path ahead... Sunday morning church.  For a number of complicated reasons, this mountain seems the most treacherous.  It is inevitable.  I will face it.  But I cannot seem to face it at the same time as so many other smaller ones.  It's just too big, too much at once... I hope to write more on that in the future, though I have already tried unsuccessfully in the past.  I will get there.  Just not today.

Today, is American Thanksgiving!  Roya's first day of school, Thanksgiving at the Schrock's house, and then another visit from my Mom and two beautiful nieces, Destiny and Jewel (who I think are anxious to meet our kitty!).

I am so blessed by my friends and family!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICAN LOVED ONES!!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I went to a movie with my movie-friend, Nicole...  Yes, I saw the new Twilight movie.  Why?  I'm not sure.  But it was good.  (Though I closed my eyes a little... I still do that even though I'm old and supposedly desensitized.)

The theatre was packed when we arrived so that we couldn't sit together.  I ended up beside two lovely mothers, discussing the trauma of leaving their babies at home for the first time.  (Nicole ended up beside people who balled through the whole movie... Apparently, hard core fans.)

In the middle of an innocent chit chat about motherhood with two strangers before the movie, I end up in the inevitable situation, though this time it took me more off guard.  So, do people ask you all the time when you're going to have your third??  (meaning third child, of course)  Momentarily at a loss for words, I wondered if I should answer... Well, no.  My husband died, so no one is really asking me that anymore... Than I remembered that Roya is still asking for a baby brother, quite regularly, and in front of innocent stand-byers, inevitably leading to awkward situations... A little.  I responded.

It didn't seem appropriate in that instance to drop the bomb of, Oh, I'm not just an innocent young wife and mother complaining about her lack of sleep anymore... My husband died.  I've tasted death.  My children lost their father...

Later in the movie (without giving anything away), a young girl asked a question about death.  The whole room seemed to erupt in Ahhhh... like Isn't that so sad, a young girl asking about death.  What a shame!!   I thought to myself.  I have two young girls who ask about death all the time... It's common casual conversation in our home...  Both of them used to ask me regularly if they could die.  They wanted to die so they could go be with Daddy.

The cannon ball I have grown quite accustomed to rested again in the pit of my stomach, releasing heavy pressure in my gut and a tightening of the chest...

At the end of the movie, there was that word again... forever.  Yesterday, I read the card Lynn gave me on our wedding day.... To my bride, it said... Forever he said.

Forever feels very different as a widow.  But I also feel blessed... Blessed to have known a love that is forever, and not one made up in a movie of vampires.  :)

Monday, November 19, 2012


This weekend...

There was lots of excitement in our home over our new little fur ball, Thumbelina, and our precious visitors, Liz and little (not-so-little) Emily.  The girls played, chased the kitty, carried her around, and fought over her all day long (not Emily, just my two!).  Thankfully, Thumbelina takes it with grace and dignity, making her a naturally assimilated Erskine female. :)

During one of the kitten's run-for-your-life escapades earlier this weekend, Roya chased her behind the washer and dryer in the laundry room.  I was saying, No Roya, you may not go back there!  Leave her be!  Let her have her space!  Yes, Mama!?!?!  She eventually backed up and crawled out from behind the laundry equipment and all was well.  Until... this morning, while I was running some errands, Liz was helping with the laundry...  Both of us had failed to realize that, during Roya's escapade behind the washer, she managed to unhook one of the pipes particularly relevant to the washers rinse cycle... Thus leading to a major flood on my basement carpets... :)

We soaked up what we could of the water, had to say goodbye to our friends, ate lunch, Alea napped, and we spent the rest of the day dancing over wet towels and soggy blankets, soaking up the sea of swampy carpets.  Even Thumbelina (or Phumbelina, as Alea says) seemed to enjoy running along the flooded path, puddles squirting up around her as she scurried by...

For supper, I made a meal Lynn would have been proud of, sprouted rice with quinoa blend, peas (because Roya eats them), raw carrots (because Roya eats them), and whole almonds I toasted on the stove with a little oil, salt, and chilli powder.  

I called the girls to come to the table and low and behold, they came down for dinner dressed in their Indian outfits Daddy had brought back form his trip to India in February 2011.   Our meal wasn't necessarily Indian, but it seemed fitting nonetheless and brought back many memories with our global-justice minded and culturally savvy husband/Daddy.

We are finishing off the day with jammies, story-time, and feeding Thumbelina her pill... Because yes, not only did I pay money to buy a cat, along with the necessary "stuff"... I bought a sick kitten who needs 3 more days of medication...  Oh how Lynn would cringe. :)

Every day is a day of grace.  Some days the grace of God allows us to enjoy what is happening.  Some days the grace of God allows us to endure what is happening.  But every day, is a day of grace.                -Graham Cook

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Song of Solomon 2:3-6

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love.
Sustain me with raisin cakes,
Refresh me with apples,
Because I am lovesick.
Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.

When I read this poetic passage of Scripture, I can close my eyes, go back in time (only a few months!), and remember my beloved husband, and rejoice in the love we shared...

Still, I hear His voice beckoning... I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.  (Song of Solomon 6:3)

Realizing that God is my Beloved Husband brings mixed emotions.  What a comfort to know that God is more than enough for me.  What a blessing to trust in a faithful God for provision and perfect love.

But what about my other beloved?  What about my heart as a wife, still ready and positioned to love?  What about the tangible strength of my husband's embrace and the presence of his warmth at night in bed?

Pressing into the Lord right now is... interesting.  Can I rejoice that I have a loving God when a deep sadness pools at the base of my heart like a heavy sea of loss?  Can I be wooed into the fullness of Him who fills all in all? (Eph 1:23)

It is strange to realize that even God can't replace Lynn.  That's not His design.  And though I ache and long for the day when I will see his face again with new eyes in a new place... He will not be my husband then.  In that day, we will glory together as one, the Bride of Christ, and eat at the Lord's table, our Beloved Bridegroom...

The truth is, as I am coming to accept it, slowly but surely... I am alone. single. not married. My husband is gone. Yes, Lynn is alive.  But, I will never live another day in what was.

I am not happy about this.  This wasn't my plan.  I'm sad, deeply saddened, and sorrowful.

Father, can you woo me to a place where I rejoice in my Beloved Bridegroom, and revel in His Presence when I am longing for the other...?  Does your love permeate the secret places of my heart, all that I am as woman... wife?

Can you make me whole and complete in the fullness of Him who fills all in all? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Okay, here it is.  The post we have all been waiting for...  Meet Thumbelina!

We got a kitten!!!  Hahahahahaha!!!

Lynn and I were not pet people.  Let me emphasize... NOT pet people.  Lynn, in fact, would actually consider considering divorce if I ever mentioned the idea of bringing home a pet.  He was firmly opposed to any and all kinds of pet ownership and no amount of blue eyed eyelid batting was going to change it...

Days after he died, after having to tell my daughters that their Daddy was gone, I looked at Roya and broke over the deep sadness she was feeling.  She has always had a special love and connection with animals, and I felt a desperate need to provide a pet for her to snuggle and talk to throughout her grieving process.  I remember looking upwards and saying under my breath, I'm getting her a dog and there's nothing you can say about it!

After some consideration, (and probably some intervention), I decided we were not ready for a puppy :)  Slowly but surely, I came around to the idea of introducing a snuggly kitten to our new little family.  As month 3 began and progressed, I became increasingly confident that this would add some much needed love, joy, fun, and distraction to our mundane, grief-laden existence (without the demands and commitments required when adopting a puppy). So, we went to the SPCA, chose our kitten, bought the necessary "stuff", and here we are :)

So far, it is everything I had hoped for with the girls.  But I feel... sad.  I am confident it was a good decision and committed to the task, but still feel sad.  It is just one more step toward a new life...  And one more step away from Lynn.

When we purchased her, I felt shame, like a child, knowing she was doing something wrong, and knowing she'd be in trouble when she got home.  But I'm home and I'm not in trouble.  Because Lynn's not here.  

We are smiling and happy and my girls are rejoicing!!  But I am sad that this is one more way I have lost him.  One more part of him that is no longer here, influencing our family...

I miss him.  So, I suppose a soft little snuggle from a kitten every now and then won't be so bad...  And she is kinda cute :)

But NO, I will not be turning into a crazy cat lady, for those of you who have already asked or thought about it. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Daddy's arms.

Last week, we were visiting friends.  I have not asked permission to write this, so I will ask forgiveness instead.  This is what happened...

My girls kicked off their boots and ran, comfortable in their familiar surroundings.  One went up, the other down, kids playing in different places all over the house.  The atmosphere was fun and inviting.

The Mom was upstairs in the kitchen (naturally...) and the Dad hadn't arrived home from work yet.  I sat in the family room, watching some of the kids play, while Alea climbed all over me, as usual.

Soon, we hear the door.  Dad's home! someone says.  Dad comes in ready and engaged.  He goes throughout the house, seeking out his children, just to give a touch and say hello.  Alea makes eyes at him... He smiles back, saying I'm gonna get you in just a minute... Alea continues to tease and he laughs, while trying to finish his conversation with someone else.  Soon, they are tickling and giggling, chasing and hiding, laughing and playing... The giggles erupted out of Alea with such joy and enthusiasm.  She was in her glory, being loved on and played with by a Daddy.

I watched this with laughter of my own, and with unbearable pain.  I had to turn my face away before he saw my sobs (though they weren't hidden very well).  He was so much like Lynn, just how Lynn would have come home.  He exposed our loss, the void that was Lynn, Daddy, and I missed him so.  
STILL, it was the most beautiful gift... Daddy.  

I am blessed to know real community.  I am blessed to have beautiful friendships.  I am blessed to have this one among many men in my life who did not shy away from us because we were awkward or emotional, and have no male counter-part... But he approached us in love, acceptance, and respect.  A Daddy who offered his arms to my daughters telling them by his actions, You are still worthy to be loved! You are still worthy of a father's attention!  I will be the arms to remind you of this love, even if only for a moment.

What does it mean to care for widows and orphans? Do we ostracize them?  Do we avoid them because it's uncomfortable?  Or do we love them?  And what does this love look like?  I am convinced that what Heidi Baker says is true... What is love if it doesn't look like something?  In this case, it looked like arms, laughing, playing.

My friend, those arms around my daughters wiggly body... Thank you for giving them each a Daddy's love and opening up your heart to them, even if it was for a moment.

(This is one story among many.  I am so blessed in my community of friends and family.  We are not meant to journey this alone and could not make it if we tried.  Thank you.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My friend.

The rain is pouring down on my rooftop.  The sound is beautiful. rhythmic. mesmerizing.  Lynn loved the rain.  It soothed him.  He was still, tranquil, and romantic when listening to the rain.

It's about that time... This is the time I would be up in bed, waiting for Lynn to get home, knowing that if I wanted to sleep it had to be before he arrived, because otherwise he'd keep me up talking, but also knowing I was too anxious to see him and would undoubtedly stay awake until I heard those sounds...  First the car, then the gravel, the car door, then the front steps, the front door... And soon enough he'd be bounding up the steps to our bedroom to see me.  Sometimes, I'd pretend to be asleep thinking.. Oh no.  He's full of energy tonight.  I soooo want sleep!!  But he knew :)  And I couldn't keep away from him.  Soon we'd start talking.  His day would start flowing.  He'd carry on until I kicked him out.  Then, he'd go downstairs to our living room rocking chair and read running articles or food blogs online on his IPad...  After an hour or so, if he still couldn't calm his brain down, he'd be back for more.  He'd bound into bed, still full of energy, trying to let me sleep but unable to reign in his loving heart.  I was after all, his best friend.  So he'd share some more, then roll over and snore.  Yet, again, I would sigh into his back, roll over to my own sleeping position, and stay up half the night pondering the things he'd shared...  Unable to sleep by both the burdens Lynn had shared, the noise of his snoring (sometimes), and... sheer frustration that he'd done it to me again :).

Being married to my best friend was wonderful.  We shared everything.  We enjoyed every moment of each others company.  The adjustment to parenthood and active ministry was hard, but we were determined to raise the standard and make it work.  We loved each other.

This is the card I read from him tonight, written November 5, 2001, when we had known each other only two months and were not even dating yet :)

Thanks again for the walk and talk last evening.  I appreciated your openness and welcome you to continue that.  Thanks also for really relaxing me and calming me down.  It's a treasure to have such a close friend with whom I can be completely myself.  Thanks for listening to me ramble non-stop.  It's nice that you pay attention even when I get boring.  You really encouraged me last night, and I hope I can be just as kind to you sometime.  God bless you for your Christ-like heart and uncanny sensitivity.

I miss my best friend.  I miss hearing about his day and knowing his heart and loving him there.  I miss being that listening ear that he relied on so much, even though at times I resented such a responsibility :)

The rain falls.  It pounds to the beat of my heart, longing to hear those familiar but distant sounds, even just one more time, and know that he is coming home to me...


I've been away for a lovely weekend with the family.  I am blessed beyond measure, but glad to be home.  And anxious to write!!

What can I say about the spattering of thoughts and emotions that have crowded my mind and heart in these last several days.  I think in particular, I have meditated on Romans 12:15, Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Being a widow is unique.  I am not divorced, or separated, or single... I am widowed.  Re-entering society as a widow is not easy.

In all of my relationships, all of my comings and goings, there is a disconcerting awkwardness.  No one knows what to say or how to be.  I don't know what to say or how to be.  I am committed to honesty, but find myself in all kinds of situations when I think, How can I be honest without making this person feel uncomfortable?  How can I be real without breaking out into sobs that make me feel embarrassed and everyone around me awkward?  How can I tell this person how I really feel when they have no way to relate to me and don't understand what I'm going through?  How can I show people that I'm still here, but cannot hide or avoid the fact that the man I love is dead and I miss him more than I could ever say?

Sometimes, no one talks about it, and I want to scream.  Don't you know my heart?  Don't you know that my husband died?  Not talking about it makes me feel like its taboo, inappropriate, too awkward for others.  It makes me feel like people want to gloss over it as though he never existed.  This causes me tremendous pain.

Other times, all people want to do is talk about my grief.  I get tired of talking about it.  Exhausted by it, and sometimes long for something light and unrelated!

Still others might approach me with pity.  All they see is this poor broken widow.  Oh dear, isn't that awful?  You poor precious thing.  Well, we just can't believe it.  Etc.  This makes me stand up a little straighter and want to hold my head up high.  We're fine.  We do not need to be defined by our grief.  We do not need your pity.

Inevitably, I find myself in the presence of many happy families, loving relationships, smiling children, and solid marriages.  This is a joyful experience that cuts deep with a bitter sword.  There is no way around it.  It hurts.  Yet, I would want nothing less for these people, these families.  Be blessed!  Cherish your loved ones more deeply than you've ever done before!! and despite each others imperfections!!

As a society, culture, or community... How do we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?  How do we get beyond the awkwardness, the elephant in the room sensation, or the inability to relate to someone else's struggle?  I have concluded that it is not easily done and trying often wears me out.

This is messy.  Grief is messy.  I am messy.  The grief and apathy and depression would keep me locked away in my bedroom, content to grieve alone... But you've all been there.  You're all trying to be there for me.  I am needy of your graciousness and have been so blessed by your generosity.

I am working hard to do this in a healthy way, as awkward and messy as it may be.  Someday, my grief will be turned to joy (Jn 16:20) and smiling will come a little more easily...

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I have had the most fascinating morning.  There is no way to capture it all in this blog post, but I needed to get some of it down :)

I was meditating on Isaiah 41:10, an old favourite Bible verse God brought to my remembrance: You are my witnesses, says the Lord.  And my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know me and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me.

One of my favorite things about the Lord is how He reveals Himself, despite the churches poor efforts to bear witness to His name :).

Many years ago, God began revealing Himself to me, opening up my mind and heart to learn of Him, to know Him, beyond any particular denomination or theological context.  Dare to trust me and seek me in the Word and by the Holy Spirit, no boxes, and no limits...  Lynn was so good at this.  He encouraged me in it.  He had no fear when it came to branching out, exploration the true nature of God.  He always said, God is big enough to handle it if I make a mistake.  When we stay grounded in the Word and keep our eyes fixed on Christ, we can dare to trust Him to keep us and perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus...

Through this verse as well as others, God began in me a passion to know Him as He really is and not as we, the church, would make him.  It stirred in me a passion to see God glorified in and through His church, that we would be true witnesses to the world of a living God, who breathes life and speaks perfect love, in pure blamelessness and holy otherness while being intimately close and making us His very dwelling place...  This is the God I love and this is the God I serve!!  He is the God of paradoxes,  who cannot be contained within my historical context, my personal context of Biblical interpretation, or the extent of my own personal experiences of Him... He is always bigger and better than we think and He is who He is whether we get it or not! :)  (I Am that I Am. Exodus 3:14)

This morning, as I was meditating on this verse, God brought me up into the rafters as I often call it, to remind me of the bigger picture at work in my life.  He filled me with His Spirit, a renewed hope, and a glimpse... I caught just a glimpse of the woman He is making me to be.  She looks vastly different from the girl I am most familiar with, that scared little girl, shy and afraid, hiding in her bedroom, praying for light and love. :) But I saw her, a woman strong and secure, grounded in love and powerful in the Spirit.  God began this good work in me so long ago, but I didn't know if He could really do it!!!  Surely it's not possible!!!  With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

His faithfulness to complete His word is astonishing!!

As I was praying this morning, without warning, God stirred up in my heart the words I had written to Lynn:  I see you.  The real you.  I know you.  And I will always love you.  I'm here.  I'm yours.  You'll always be my king.

In this song I wrote for Lynn, You are My King, God was teaching me about loving and honoring my husband.  This time, though, He carried those words forth as a new expression of love directly from my heart to my King of Kings.  I see you.  The real you.  I know you.  And I will always love you.  I'm here.  I'm yours.  You'll always be my King.

Lynn was my Beloved king, but God has always been King over my heart.  His word to me is clear: You are My witness, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you might know me, and believe me, and understand that I am He.  Before me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me. I even I am the Lord and besides me there is no saviour. (Is 43:10, 11)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


February 14th, 2008
Wife, you are a daily answer to many prayers!  I cherish you, protect our relationship, and anticipate so many great things ahead.  You've captured my lifelong love and respect.  You are my inspiration.  I love you!  
(I counted the XO's to be sure it was accurate!)

What is the meaning of forever?  I am tired of reading it!  Is forever over?  Was lifelong really supposed to be so short?

I have been angry with Lynn.  It's quite humorous actually.  I was often angry with Lynn :)  We loved to bicker and challenge each other, to see who could be more stubborn.  (He always won.  Just in case you were wondering.)

At times, I have been accused of being sweet and gentle.  But no.  Lynn knew the truth.  Truly, I am a fierce lioness (one who is beautifully elegant... a lioness of royalty... naturally).

When Lynn and I were really angry at each other, we'd say, We're fighting.  But then, Lynn, in his obsessively stubborn nature, had to change the We're fighting to I'm fighting, because I can't make him feel anything, just like he can't make me feel anything.

Lynn had this brilliant way of winning arguments and making his statements heard one way or another.  I could holler, beg, or cry all I wanted, but he could think circles around me!!  and knew it!!  In that particular instance, he was making it very clear that whether or not I would accept it, he had no intention of taking responsibility for my feelings.  He would, however, take his own feelings to the Lord with prayerful consideration.  Grrr... that made me angry :).  (Did you follow my emphases?)

So maybe I win the stubborn battle after all.  I read Lynn's cards and he says, forever.  Then I think of him in glory and he says, Let me go.

Let you go??  Let you go??  And just how am I supposed to do that, Husband???  HOW?

I am angry.  We're fighting.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Grief is like a storm.

I feel like I am huddled quietly in a life raft, calm and carried, my eyes are closed and fixed on Christ, while the storm rages around me.

The waves of grief and depression, anger and sadness, sweep over me at their own will.  I want stand up as Jesus did and command the wind and the waves to stop!  But I hear the Lord's gentle whisper... Just ride.  And trust Me.

As I rest, I picture large beautiful hands reaching down into the waters and sweeping through the rocks and sand at the base of my ocean.  Every pebble, every grain of sand, once touched by the love and oneness I shared with Lynn, now being turned over by the healing touch of Jesus.  Not one stone can be left unturned for my healing to be complete.  And so I ride.  And I wait.  I brace myself against the waves.

Slowly but surely God is healing my heart.  God will heal my heart.

And He will heal yours.

I look down at my hand and finger my wedding rings... My two worlds colliding.  The pain and brokenness of losing my husband and aching for him with every fibre of my being and the awareness of a new me being put together, crafted, moulded, assembled...  Now, I am just riding.  I don't belong in the past, but I am not ready for the future.  And so I wait.  And the waves come.  And the Hands of God minister to my weary soul.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Deep depression.

Heavy fog.

Crushing fatigue.

It's like every space in my life that had been filled by my husband is now a massive dark cloud, thick and heavy, sapping me of strength and the optimism I once had.

Depression is real and scary!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

(Isaiah 41:10)

There's a lot I'd like to say to the Christian community about this...  I've not fallen or backslidden or lost faith.  Logically, I can ascent to the fact that I'm pretty much on track according to other widows and what my resources tell me.  Should I assume that because of my faith I get to skip the grief stage of depression?  I don't think so.

I think because of my faith, I can choose life in the through.  And therefore know that mercy is coming in the morning, that His grace is sufficient, that in my weakness He is strong.

Lamentations, a book of the Bible, seems almost discarded by the Christian community.  And yet, it depicts depression with depth and accuracy.  Why do Christians frown upon and have to hide some of the most basic of our human emotions?  Can't we let God meet us there?  Can't we realize that God is big enough to handle our raw emotions?

In grief, I can attest that I have little control over my emotions!!  I am deeply wounded and discouraged.  But rather than avoid or ignore these real emotions, I think the key is, and we often need others' help, to choose life in the through.  Every day is a step.  I will not stay here, I am moving forward, one day at a time, knowing beauty will rise out of these ashes (Steven Curtis Chapman, Beauty Will Rise).

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,    and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind   and therefore I have hope:
 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:19-23)

Friday, November 2, 2012

2 months. (Another PG warning...)

2 months ago today, as of this minute, Lynn was enjoying a Daddy-daughter date with Roya.  She loved going on special dates with Dad to Tim Hortons for a donut.  Later, early evening, we all snuggled up on the couch downstairs, the four of us, watching Lynn's favorite... the Muppet Show.  I can picture him... what he was wearing, his laughter, and how he mimicked the characters...

Several times throughout that afternoon, Lynn had shivered unusually, like a chill, saying, Ugh...  I have this nervous energy about my run tonight.

He had originally planned his run for the afternoon after church.  He had his route all mapped out and recorded into his online running apps... (He mapped out his runs well in advance, enjoying the challenge of planning a route according to whatever mileage was suggested on his training app.)  Later, though, he changed his route to accommodate Andrew's schedule, so they could enjoy their first run together since we'd returned after vacation.  He left the house around 7:00pm that evening (I think), waving goodbye in his running gear, running belt in place, some tracker in his shoe, and his IPod strapped to his arm, counting his milage.

Later that evening, I was reading a book in bed.  I thought to myself.  Oh Lynn.  He's late as usual.  Probably hanging out with the Boone's and chatting up a storm. *endearing sigh

The phone rang.  I missed it.  I saw it was the Boones and assumed it was Lynn telling me he's on his way home (10-10:30pm?).  I called right back and heard Sara's voice.  O, I thought, it's not usually Sara...

Then she's asking me questions.  Lynn's not doing well. The paramedics are pounding on his chest.  I am to meet them at the hospital.  Sara is coming to stay with the kids so I can leave...

I walk around in a daze.  I think, O, Lynn only has his sweaty running clothes on.  I'll pack him a change of clothes for after this fiasco when we're ready to come home.  Sara arrives.  I take my purse and my bag of Lynn's clothes, socks, shoes, and all, and head off to the hospital.

The road is empty and the urgency is building inside.  I run red lights.  I pass a car on a main road across the yellow line.  Like a robot, I get out of the car and walk towards Pastor Cory who's waiting for me at the door.  He doesn't know what happened, either, but was told to come.

Soon I am ushered around the corner.  People are watching me.  Then I am intercepted and led in the other direction to the family waiting room.  The sights, the smells... Inside I know.  I talk to Andrew and ask what happened.  The Doctor comes in.  Three sentences: His heart stopped.  He stopped breathing.  He's dead.  

Andrew cries.  Cory sucks in his breath.  The air is thick and heavy.  The lights dim and hazy.  I stand up and ask (demand actually) to see my husband and they lead me back down the hall.  I walk in and gaze upon the impossible.  My husband... an empty shell.  Bruised and lifeless.  Completely gone.  Empty.

The presence of God was with me, filling me.  I looked at the most traumatic scene, I never could have imagined it, contrasted with visions of glory dancing around the room.  I said, God, I have the faith that you could raise this body from the dead if it is your will.  But this is Your time?  Somehow, I knew it was.

I sat.  I answered questions.  I called my Mom, who screamed and said they're on their way.  I held his hand.  I felt the last bit of warmth leave his body.

Then I went home (Shannon drove me and others followed), with my bag of Lynn's change of clothes, walking into a heavy darkness I had no idea possible, with the comfort of God's presence aglow within my heart...  Only vaguely aware of everything I would have to do and face in the coming days, weeks, months... years?