Saturday, May 31, 2014

The One and the One.

On Lynn's birthday, I indulged myself in the past. I leaned back and sank deep beneath the waves of sorrow and loss, allowing memory after memory to wash over me...

In that place, I wrote these words... I still feel like your [Lynn's] wife.

It is important to me that I provide more context to the struggle that gave expression to those words... It is a simple struggle. One between past and present... A struggle of letting go, and living in "TODAY" (a prophetic proclamation, Heb 4:7).

"TODAY" is where I am fully present in the Presence of the Most High God, living and breathing in His rest, His perfect peace... "TODAY" is where I am alive to Him, keeping in step with His Spirit, steady and faithful, in tune and aware of His voice of guidance, wisdom, and truth... "TODAY" is where my girls are living and breathing, feeling and thinking. They are not living in the past. They alive to the present... Our breath is in "TODAY". And "TODAY", is where I am not Lynn's wife, but I am, in time, preparing to be someone else's.

There are so many people who knew Lynn and I together. Who recognize Lynn as such a huge part of my past... So many people honour him and honour me by keeping his memory alive...

I am torn right now. Remembering the "deceased" is so crucial and important to the bereaved. But still, it is not supposed to bind a living person to the past, a hindrance or bondage that keeps them from stepping fully into "TODAY"...

This has been my wrestle. "TODAY" I am dating towards marriage with Oliver Brent Dongell. I am absolutely falling in love with him and see God's hand all over our relationship. It is complicated. I am still grieving. In some ways, it is very "soon", though there is no acceptable or "normal" timeline. 

When I married Lynn, he was "the One". I always said it was like two puzzle pieces fitting perfectly together; we were so "meant for each other". We were bound in the oneness of marriage and call. This is an intensely deep union, for anyone who knows it. Oneness in marriage and oneness in call...

If (when) I marry Brent, he is "the One". We will be bound together in the oneness of marriage and call. An intensely deep union that echoes the many harmonies of God's redemptive plan, the fullness of our salvation in Him, His perfect love and never-ending grace...

I am in transition. I was with "the One" and now I am preparing to be with "the One". Two completely different men. Two completely different unions.

Some days, it just leaves my heart and mind a dizzy mess.

I am learning how to be at peace with a life that I cannot understand. There is nothing I can do about it. I didn't mean to be in this predicament. I didn't ever imagine that Lynn would die, so stubborn he was about our 75 year marriage contract... But here I am, being called into "TODAY", down a new path, into a new union, with a same/old and new call... but with a different man. My future "the One".

Lynn was the One, and Brent will be the One. And right now, I love them both.

I am somewhere in the middle.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Someone tell me how to feel...

Good morning, Lynn.

Happy birthday… This is the second time since your death that the world has turned, the days and months have passed, and lo and behold, another year gone by. It is May 26th again… Your birthday seems to bring out in me a very deep, bitter grief. It seems so unfair that time keeps moving forward after you've died. It seems so incredible bitter to face a day when we should be celebrating your life, but you're dead. Birthdays seem to bring out in me the bitter anger that death wasn't supposed to happen, especially not so soon.

I wish I could talk to you face-to-face today. I wish you could tell me how I'm supposed to feel… Do you want me to celebrate you today? Can I celebrate that you lived, that we loved, and that you died? Am I happy that you're happy in glory? and that I'm here trying to move forward without you?

I have a mixture of odd and happy memories of when we used to celebrate your birthday together. Even then, we didn't know how to feel! You wanted to be celebrated, to be loved and valued, but you were very sensitive about your birthday... We would invite friends over, who all knew they were there to celebrate you on your birthday, but because they loved you, tried to pretend it wasn't :). You didn't want anyone to draw attention it. You didn't want people acknowledging it. This had nothing to do with aging, or a ridiculous sense of pride/insecurity that couldn't handle the attention. Your birthday was the day you grieved. You grieved for your family. You grieved for your childhood. You grieved for the happy memories, the way things were, when your birthday was privately cherished in your own American home, sitting around the kitchen table with loving parents, happy siblings, a mom who would make you a chilled lemon dessert instead of a birthday cake, because you hated cake…

Your last birthday with us was definitely our favourite. The girls were so excited to crown you as their king with the homemade, construction paper crowns they had made. We were so happy to give you your runners belt, which was something you had really wanted/needed for your runs. And it was a special treat, a blast from the past, to give you the first season of the Muppets. Did I make you an Indian meal that day?? Yes, I think I remember it took me hours to prepare!! We were very happy May 26, 2012.

I seemed to go through my many emotions of grief throughout the day yesterday. I was so blessed at church, but really struggled in worship. When they started singing "Blessed Be Your Name" I wanted to scream. I felt like I was spitting some of those words out of my mouth, not singing them, so bitter they tasted to me. I did not feel like rejoicing in my trials, or celebrating God's goodness. I felt instead like, Naomi, "Please call me Mara, for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me." (Ruth 1:20)

Everyone keeps on congratulating me on meeting and dating someone new. They want it to mean that there is no more pain. They want it to mean that we can wipe away the pain of grief and celebrate something new and good. But to wipe away the pain is like taking your memory away with it. Meeting someone new doesn't erase the 11 years I spent with you, loving you. Doesn't make your death make sense. Doesn't lessen the grief of losing you in any way. It is a blessing to begin something new, to plant a new tree in my garden*, but the stump is still there, and always will be… I don't like being congratulated because I feel like its supposed to mean that I don't remember you anymore.

So true to tradition, this birthday holds again a mixture of emotions… How do I honour you today? How do I celebrate you when you're gone, when others expect me to be "moving on" out of grief and into something new and good? They seem to forget that in this world there will be trouble. That in this world we have both, simultaneously, grief and sorrow and loss, and blessing and goodness and joy.

I want to celebrate the blessings, but not when it seems to encourage others to forget about you…

I still feel like your wife. I don't really know how to do this. I wish you were here to talk to me, to tell me what to do or how to feel…

Happy birthday, my beloved.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

My heroic day of lawn mowing...

Ahhh… Spring. The snow has melted away and behold… Grass!

Grass…? Oh dear. Time to face that mower...

Last year, upon moving to PEI, there was quite a bit of drama around cutting my grass. It seemed to be of utmost priority to my fellow Islanders, but was WAY down the list for me. That was Lynn's job. I was moving into a new house, being a single mom to two traumatized daughters (and 5 baby kittens…), lost at sea in the foreign waters of finances and real estate… and had just left the home and church family where Lynn and I had shared our lives together. REALLY?? Is the length of my grass really that important?? I just didn't get it.

Fortunately, I had kind family members, sometimes neighbours, who would mow my lawn for me when they could. But by the end of the summer, I was feeling a little defensive. Well, certainly I CAN mow my own lawn. Naturally… I just have too much else on my plate right now. And who would watch the kids? And when would I make the time between all the other errands and to dos??? But, I couldn't escape the fact that, "normal people" seem to mow their own lawns.

So the snow melted and spring arrived and with it, a new/old challenge. I'm not going to lie... My pride was at stake! There is no excuse this year. I am now "supposed" to be a normal functioning single mom… I cannot accept the embarrassing defeat of not mowing my lawn!! I pulled out Lynn's old push mower... I do something with the choke…? Push this handle down…? Now pull to start the engine… Pull once. Pull twice. A half-hearted third… There's no way I can start this old clunker! I don't know if I'm doing it right and I'm probably just not strong enough!!!

I left the mower where it was, walked inside, and sat down in pathetic defeat.

Mom?! What are you doing? Alea asked.
Well, I was going to mow the lawn, Hun, but I can't get it started. 
Of course, you can! she chimed.
Honey, I'm not strong enough. I need a man. 
Well, we don't have a man. 
Yes, honey, I know. 
Then, I'll do it. 

Alea, a bundle of confidence and tenderness towards her mother, waltzes out to that mower without a single doubt in her mind that we'd get it going. She started to pull on the handle. Here, honey, I'll show you how. I think you do this, and then this, and then you have to pull this really hard and fast… See…

To my very own amazement, I started the lawn mower with ease :) I had genuine glee and delight! But the best part, was the awe and amazement in my daughter's big (humongous actually), blue eyes. Mom!! You did it!!! You're so strong!!! You're my hero!!!!

Of course, I knew that it was perfectly normal for a human being, male or female, to mow their own lawn. There was no great achievement here… But still, I revelled in Alea's pride. :) I drank in her encouragement.

I mowed the front lawn, all the while remembering Lynn, thinking how appalled he'd be at the job I was doing. :) He was quite meticulous with his lawn mowing… But how proud he would be all the same. A couple walked by and I both cringed and laughed inside. I smiled and waved, looking as natural as possible, thinking, Please don't notice that this is my very first time ever mowing my lawn!!!

As in most things, there is a mingling of joy and sorrow. I was happy to be where I was, out in the sunshine, finally, after a long winter, overlooking the sparkling blue ocean, with my 4 yr old as my biggest fan :). But, still carrying the deep sadness that comes with every change, every new day, every first, second, third… Lynn died. And that will never make sense.

But at least I can mow my own lawn. And my 4 year old thinks I'm her hero. :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Be still and know… Know that I am God. 

Alea and I spent some time out in the early morning sunshine (while my Roya girl was sleeping in…) And I found myself arrested by these words...

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
These words resonate with each and every sand stone at the base of my being that shakes and trembles at the sound of His Voice. These words call me to align myself, my life, my thoughts, my words, my beliefs… and order themselves accordingly.

No one is God, but He alone.

Both before and after Lynn's death, I have wrestled with life and ministry and faith. I have wanted to fit in, to be "normal", to succeed according to normal social standards of success. And God would close every door in my face and say, No, my daughter. Not this path. Typically, I would respond, Okay, than which one? Show me the way to go. Then He would say, Wait. Be in My Presence. Breathe in My living Word. Put your whole being at rest in the palm of my hand. Be still and know that I am God. Typically, I would then respond, Well that sounds all well and good, almost romantic even, wistfully spiritual... But how exactly does that pay the bills??? Others would say, You are wasting your gifts. What are you waiting for? Why are you hesitating?? Are you so spiritually minded that you are no earthly good??

No matter what else I might like to call it, the wrestle is this: How can I "succeed" in the Spirit, according to God's kingdom and plan, and still "succeed" with man here on earth.

Ahhh. Therein lies my downfall. Wanting both. Godly success and success in the eyes of man.

Seek first His kingdom, and whatever follows, follows!!

I acknowledge today that I have been called to walk an "abnormal" path. Life doesn't happen normally for me. It is just not God's plan. Instead, he chose me as His least likely representative. Like Gideon, I am the least of the least of the least… Humble, little, lowly me is anointed to live an abnormal life that exists fully and completely for the purpose of releasing His heavenly Kingdom, His truth, the power and healing of His word. Humble, little, broken, little me is called to walk in the supernatural, which does not lend itself to a "natural" kind of life…

Goodbye normal life. I don't think I ever really wanted you anyway… (except secretly I do.. :)) It's just not as good as life in God.

I may never have "success" in the eyes of man. I may never have the ministry credentials I've always wanted. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. But first things first… An UNDIVIDED HEART. This is my measure for success. Will it pay my bills? I'm not quite sure. But, alas, my God is the Sovereign King who reigns over the whole universe, the heavens, and the earth, and all that is under the earth. At His Name, every knee must bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Today, I rejoice, for I am immeasurably successful. I trust God to show me the path of life, to fill me with joy in His Presence, and with eternal pleasures at His right hand. (Ps 16:11)

I choose His Kingdom first. Above all else. NO matter the cost. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

The prayer of my heart for today.

Dear Jesus,

This morning, today, I turn my eyes toward You. I turn my heart toward You, with all of its ugliness and beauty, all of its fullness, and its depravity. Shine Your face upon me, Oh God. Let Your light reach the deepest, untouchable crevices of my soul with Your perfect love and healing grace… My whole being belongs to You.

This morning, today, I offer myself to You, as a living sacrifice. I lay down my life for You  and You alone. You are my God. There is none beside You. I will not chase after other "gods" in my life today. I will not give my heart over to them, as though they could fill me, or satisfy. You alone are my God. You alone satisfy. In You I put my trust.

Search me and know me, today. Be my closest Friend, my most intimate companion. Walk with me through today and into the night. Let each moment be filled with grace. A grace that acts as an open door to your kingdom storehouses… Remind me of all you have available to me "today".

I forsake the lie that You are not present with me in my day, today. There is not a single breath that I can breathe in my own strength. Every breath is enabled by Your life flowing through me. You are my strength, my sustaining power. You never leave me or forsake me. Teach me to rest in Your presence, no matter what comes my way. You are an ever present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1)! Teach me to rely on You, to depend on You to the uttermost. Teach me to let go of control, to lay down my pride, and to test my fears before the Sovereign strength of Your eternal Word.

Teach me to enjoy the blessings of this world, without letting them rule over me. Teach me to rest in You as my All-Sufficient One. Teach me to see the troubles of this world through your eyes, and to accept them as stepping stones, that lead me further into Your grace and a to a greater awareness of Your Presence with me.

I am Your child, a daughter of the Most High. I walk in grace and favor, as one who has been washed in the blood of Jesus. I walk in communion with the King of Kings who reigns from everlasting to everlasting, in whom lies the authority over heaven and earth, and under the earth.

Today, You will make known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Heb 4:6-7
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So... “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Here are some thoughts as I wrestle, grieve, and celebrate through the transition of being in relationship with another man…

Lynn is still here. I love him just as much as I always have. How is it possible to love and honor two men?? To keep the memory of the one and embrace a new and different life with the other? One being in heaven and one here on earth, but both men of God in the Spirit?

I feel no shame or hindrance in moving forward, in regards to Lynn being displeased or something like that… I feel like he is complete. He rejoices in what we shared. But most of all, he rejoices with a pure and complete heart, fully satisfied and glorified in the Lord. He perfectly desires God's perfect will.

My brother Robbie felt that Lynn would be honoured, not displeased, to have someone come alongside and take care of his family… Brent does this very well. Intentionally seeking ways to honor Lynn and come alongside in caring support and with godly wisdom.

In the last few weeks, I have been greatly humbled, my heart just now adjusting to caring for another man, my mind just now adjusting to the idea of possibly stepping into a new and different life with a new and different man. A man also called of God. A man also of integrity and wisdom. A man also full of mission and passion for God's kingdom... God's hand was so providential in bringing us together, that it was impossible to ignore. I want to trust God's timing, but admit that I've definitely been in over my head. It definitely felt like too much, too soon, while at the same, it was like a gift that was saving my life. Looking back, (only a few months!!!), my emotions were so all over the place… I wish I had been in a better place to have better awareness and control over my emotions.  But, quite honestly, without Brent's support in the last few months, I don't see how I would have been capable of climbing the mountains I have in my own strength. I was growing weak, needing a push to keep me going, to get me up in the morning, some direction from God that was more than an elusive vision about the future… Something tangible to take my hand and pull me up and on in life… I needed help. Brent is a "catalyst" that tends to thrust people forward towards God and into their calling and fullest potential in Christ. Perhaps that is exactly the sort of man I need… :)

There are a lot of things about this relationship that I can't wrap my head around... For one, if this is God's plan and He continues to lead this relationship forward, than the very vision that brought Lynn and I together, about being up on a platform teaching and serving as one ministry team under heavy anointing (is that okay to share??), could actually be realized with Brent. What is that about?!?!?!? How does a woman's heart grapple with God's providential plan in such a circumstance?? Another, is the dual anointing I used to struggle with, for both teaching and music ministry. I felt like almost two completely different people, but equally called and passionate about both ministry expressions… Now, I look back and see the beautiful oneness Lynn and I shared musically and how that was our primary shared passion in ministry together. And now with Brent, it would be my heart and passion for teaching  the Word and writing, that would be our shared heart and passion in ministry together. Both have always been a part of me…

Do you know the movie, The Inn-Laws, with Michael Douglas and Ryan Reynolds?? Well, near the end, after the wedding day has been ruined, the reception tent flooded by a massive, post-explosion ocean wave, the groom (Ryan Reynolds) looks to the bride (Lindsay Sloane) and nervously asks, How ya doing? Are you ok?? Being the kind, gentle type who typically buries her emotions, she replies sweetly, Well, I have a few questions… Like, WHAT THE HE** IS HAPPENING?!?!?!?!?!?!

I realize I sort of just swore… But sometimes, that just IS how I feel!! There is mixed sense of being responsible for the decisions and steps I take, moment by moment, that will decide my path in life, while also recognizing this totally out of my hands providential God-story that my life is being woven up into...

Around our table, there used to be 4 chairs. The one empty chair always reminding us of the husband and father that once sat with us as a family of 4… But in life's happenings and the shifting around of chairs, we ended up with 5 chairs at the table one day. I thought nothing of it, but nothing gets past those girls…! Their dinner conversation (a condensed version) went like this:

Alea, That chair is Daddy's chair. If Daddy was here, that's where he would sit. But there's another empty chair? Who is that one for?
Roya, This other chair I think could be for someone else… Like a visitor or something.
Alea, Yeah! Like Addison, or Jewel… (referring to cousins)
Roya, Or MAYBE… Mr. Brent!!
Alea, *heavy sigh, I really hope he becomes my new Daddy… 

Adding another makes us 5. Sort of mind-boggling.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Part 2: A Hinge.

A hinge, or turning point...

There are many who live with this awkward humanness of the heart. Do you agree? It leaves us floundering in our faith, questioning, doubting, fearing… Unsure of what we need, or what we want? Who we are or who we want to be? It leaves us, as Paul attested to, doing what we do not want to do, and not doing what we do want to do. (Rom 7:15)

Consequently, living with tragedy and loss or a broken heart, or various other forms of suffering, seems to result ultimately in two life options… 1. A confused life, orchestrated around our human ability to cope. 2. Or a life that embraces poverty of spirit, which is the pathway to eternal life, that ushers in the kingdom of heaven.

God is teaching me about the hinge upon which swings the door of eternal life, spiritual transcendence, life in the Spirit, the whole kingdom of heaven being ushered in. 

The hinge is this: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Could anything be more plain and simple?? It is the most plain and basic truth of the gospel story. How can it elude so many of us who suffer through various trials and testings?? How can we profess a faith in Christ, but miss the hinge upon which swings the door into the fullness of our salvation and freedom in Christ?? 

I do not believe in a prosperity gospel. I am much more partial to a Jesus who was called the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Is 53:3). But I do long for the fullness of joy and salvation in Christ Jesus my Lord. I do long for life, joy, abundance, happiness, blessing… I long for:
  • The comfort in my time of mourning (v.4)?? 
  • The favour and inheritance I desire on the earth (v.5)?? 
  • The fullness and satisfaction of my soul's hunger and thirst (v.6)?? 
  • The mercy I long to receive from others (v.7)?? 
  • The ability to see God through the sinful pollution of this world, to know and understand that He is, and rewards those who diligently seek Him (v.8, Heb 11:6)?? 
  • The honour of a life lived as a son or daughter of the most high God, the most intimate fellowship with the Father, and the authority due His name (v.9)??
  • To receive the most precious treasure of all of eternity, the rich and abundant kingdom of heaven, that reigns from everlasting to everlasting… (v.10)??
I used to think that God was calling me to embrace pain and suffering, that this would grow my soul. I believe this to be a part of the process, to join in the fellowship of His sufferings, but is a partial truth. God is teaching me rather to embrace the spiritual posture of the poor in spirit, whether in good times or in bad. For this posture is like a hinge that turns from our own strength and life of earthly limitations, and opens the door into a pathway of life… and life everlasting. 

…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)

Thank you, Father, for your faithfulness in teaching me and leading in the Way everlasting!!!

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Psalm 16:11)

For me, this is part of learning what it means to transcend suffering and loss, to find redemption in suffering To discover how God can and will continue to lead me in healing and wholeness when my heart seems to declare that it cannot be so, that it will never be so?? 

So lead me, Father, as You have and will continue to do… Lead me in the Way everlasting. (Ps 139:24)