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Tag Archives: surviving

Prison

I am being dangerous and typing outside by the salt air. Most likely damaging my laptop.. sometimes you have to sacrifice precious things to get more. I like the sound of the waves anyways and inside its muffled.

So I’m laying outside trying to get over my night of nightmares and lost memories of Andy. I tossed and turned last night between my reality of an island to the memories of Andy. Sometimes I confuse the two and feel my dreams are my reality.. or perhaps its wishful thinking.

I woke suddenly from a voice in my head that said, “Shmookie Poo I love you”. Over and over it was said in my head and I couldn’t shake it. Andy used to call me that in his high pitch cute voice. He used to be such a goofball before cancer robbed him of his very personality. Sometimes in the midst of pain you can’t see what is being taken away from you.. instead you slowly ache and feel an emptiness taking over. Looking back I know that Andy was dying mentally and I couldn’t stop it. The pain of that was far worse than any physical pain I saw. The physical pain was easy enough, you go to the hospital and the nurses pump him with drugs. Then you get released and you keep pumping him with drugs. The effects of the drugs and physical pain will then take away the very personality you fell in love with. I missed my Andy and I couldn’t do anything to pull him back. As a last result I pulled myself back in order to break from the pain and breathe. I pulled my heart back in order to save it from the pain. Foolish me since I still am in pain and it didn’t save me from anything. I could look ahead and I knew he wasn’t going to make it long, I knew I was to become a widow. How was I going to survive if he took me down while his ‘body’ was still alive. His body alive, ha, that’s so hard to even type because how can you call a skeleton with skin a live body. He was robbed day by day of his ability to live, oh the misery he must have endured inside. Stuck in his jail of a body, screaming to get out.

Yesterday I was able to walk around an old penitentiary on the island, it was long over grown with trees and grass. The walls were falling apart and the ground was rubble. If I think about it, that place was full of ghosts long gone. Andy was trapped in his body as if a prisoner in a earthly body. So much suffering.

 

I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’s book “A grief observed”. I read it once before Andy died and it affected me but reading now after his death it feels more real. The words in it speak stronger to me.

Maybe Andy and I had become all that we could be and God chose to end it so that a new lesson could be taught. We had reached our high and it was time to break us. “His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down”.

My heart is ash – my bones are broken – Grief consumes me and I can not breathe. I trust no one and I let no one in again. I did that once and that trust shook my walls and broke my love. My love once lost is lost forever.

Bit bitter? Perhaps, but what are words if not to be spoken and felt. Maybe honesty about how we feel is important.

Am I holding so tight to Andy’s memory to prove some loyalty? To raise our love onto a pedestal too high to be true? There is no perfect love! Only perfect dreams of that love. It doesn’t exist like we imagine, just as the American dream is a fantasy. No one is truly happy or content because we are all sinners and broken. We lie about our feelings, we put fake faces on to hide the reality of our heart. There is no security  in this life..It can all be break and fall in an instant. Why put our faith in a world that is broken…

Repeatedly I wish for the grief to end..the tight hold grief has on my heart is unending. Time stands still as if I am waiting for something to change. When in all likelihood I am stuck. Perhaps I am in the prison cell curled up in the corner with no hope, or maybe I am knocking the steel door begging to be released. I’m innocent! Whatever did I do to deserve this pain? The prison guard silently walks past to hear another say the same story of woe. When will we ever learn, our peace and happiness is not to come..wait and breathe for another crack in the chains.

Amazing Grace…Chains

Healing Eyes

Walking with Andy

Today I walked with Andy reliving our moments of love and pain together. It was and is our 14th Wedding Anniversary today. We got married at 20 years old and never looked back.

Coming back ‘home’ to michigan to take care of Andy’s ashes and also the symbolism of it being our wedding anniversary has weighed heavy on me for days now. Finally the day of our wedding vows arrived but the ashes need to wait until this weekend when his best friend can drive me the 8 hours to where Andy and I fell in love.

It’s hard to know where to begin with my day but I know that today was planned out for me and I didn’t even realize it. I had 4 things that were predetermined today. Everything else that happened was unimaginable when I first started off on my journey today

1. Doctor Appointment
2. Hair appointment
3. Lunch appointment
4. Meeting with Andy’s past doctor and close friend

After I finished by doctor’s appointment I made my way to Starbucks to get some tea for a friend back on the island. Little did I know that when I walked in this coffee shop the first words I would hear were ‘Cancer’. Ok a bunch of woman were sitting by the door discussing something cancer related. I decided to just walk by and get my tea and go. But there was this little voice in my head that said, “Pay Attention Sarah, I have a blessing lined up for you”. So what should I do? Well I walked right back out of the coffee shop with my tea and stopped at my truck, paused, struggled, and then turned right around and swallowed my fear of people and said hello to this group of ladies. “Hi, I may sound crazy but I heard you mention cancer”. I found out they were brainstorming ways to improve the cancer center that Andy and I went to…they all worked there. LOL! So I then told them a very brief version of my life and Andy’s death and just soaked in the blessing of connecting with people who UNDERSTOOD cancer.

Then I walked out feeling choked up and also a bit glad I took the courage to speak out to a bunch of stranger.

Now I looked over and there was the hospital Andy died in almost 6 months ago. Alright…the little voice started again and this time took control of my steering wheel. Minutes later I was standing in the ICU on the 4th floor just outside the room Andy died in. What was I doing here????!!! What crazy widow revisits the place where their husband dies on there 14th wedding anniversary?! I stared blankly at the door and the glass window which months ago held the image of Andy connected to wires and tubes. Room 403. I asked the nurse if I could sit in the room. Seriously! Yes, I broke down and cried and just soaked in the memories of that fateful night.

Andy had led me to this room.

Andy’s body was gone but my mind wouldn’t let go.

Now what? Well, guess what?! I kept on walking the path laid out before me….

Walking

The cancer center is just next door, sooo what did I do? Yup, I went there next. I followed the bread crumbs to the place of diagnosis and treatments. Once inside the doors I stared at the receptionist and said, “this is going to sound crazy…but…. can I speak to Katie, my deceased husband’s nurse”?  Short answer I was allowed back but not after a few back and forths and crying and then a stranger holding me and yea…I kinda broke down.

Nurse Katie…She was there when Andy first got dosed with chemo. She was there to watch me and Andy sit for hours and hours in those chemo chairs. She saw the dramatic change in Andy after the surgery. She saw our pain and she was helpless to fix it. The nurses at the cancer center see so much pain come thru there doors. I told her she meant a lot to Andy and I and that we appreciated her kindness. In return she told me that me and Andy were undeniably soulmates. That when she saw us together those long chemo days that she was amazed at how much love we had for each other and how we tried to find any kind of joy in the situation. We even tried to get her to say funny words like, poop in the pool. She remembered our dogs too. The one things she told me that I needed to hear on this day was that she saw our love for each other and she saw the change in Andy’s health. He died months before he died! She saw it too! I am not alone in that memory! It’s not my fault! Let go of the guilt!

My morning didn’t end here. After my hair appointment (where my favorite stylist ever did an amazing job, as always, to my hair) and therapy session with my hair stylist:). I have to say Amanda is great at cutting hair but even better at listening to a crazy lady ramble on and on about God this and God that. LOL. Who am I these days? You would think God has taken over my body and really has complete control over everything now.

Then I drove past my old house…I then turned back around and marched up the stairs and rang the door bell. Seriously, I did! Well I was led to do it. The guy that opened the door was a blessing. He let me in my old house and showed me how much they loved this house. How much joy and laughter was in this house now. There are 5 kids living in this house! Amazing! A lot of it looked the same and yet different. They kept some of the paintings up and the kitchen was still gorgeous. The old computer room was now a kids room for 3 (pink walls). And Andy you were wrong! There was hardwood floors under that carpet in Perfect condition! I told you so:). The mother in law also lived there and she spoke Spanish. He translated to her who I was and why I was crying in there living room. Oh my word…how did I get the courage to do that? Well this closure was just what I needed. He talked to me about his experiences with people in hospitals he has helped and told me how much they loved the house. He even said the one neighbors mentioned I was a nice lady and that my husband had passed away. Upstairs he had taken some shelves andy made and was using them…I burst into tears of joy. Andy lives on!!!!

Then after that…

I went to lunch with Andy’s old classmate from high school. She shared stories of how Andy was in Chemistry class. I guess he was super smart even though he looked like a punk. Oh Andy.

Free Cookies

Free Cookies

Then after that…

I went to the other cancer center downtown and saw Dr. Abby my friend. I hate to cut short on this part but I do detest long blogs:). She as always had some great therapy for me in our talk. The sarcasm and joking about some new business ideas was very enlightening. When you go thru cancer and see so much pain you can’t seem to avoid hospitals. The nurses and doctors can become family to you and a level of support no other family member can give you. They are with you from the start and you may get frustrated at each other but it still is a journey thru hell together.

Finally I went to Hope lodge. A place where during Andy’s surgery I was given a bed and comfort. There was a journal that I needed to find on one of the 3 floors. The guy at the front desk was very nice and we went to each floor looking for this public journal where visitors can tell there story. When I had stayed there I wrote an entry in it and I wanted to re-read it. Then I wrote another entry for today in memory of Andy. By this point I actually didn’t cry that much. The guy that helped me did the one thing that not many people think to do…. he asked me what my husbands name was and in that moment made Andy real again. All a grieving person wants to do is bring that person back to life in some way, even if for just a moment. Having someone ask his name is the most precious gift you can give.

 

I faced each terror at each building I was led back to and finally gained some peace.
God or Andy or both wanted to give me an anniversary gift today…a gift of peace and love.

I LOVE YOU ANDREW STACILAUSKAS… Andy’s song for me today.. Click Here

Healing Eyes

Faith Walk

This morning I woke up from a bad night of druggy sleepiness and a heart grieving my Andy. It was early morning and I was just in time for my first sunrise. I finally saw the sunrise over the ocean!

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I splurged and made scrambled eggs with tortilla shell for a wrapper. I flipped open my bible and followed a few verses around that talked about bringing the good news to others and coming down from the mountain with beautiful feet to share God with others. Eventually it led me to the book of Nahum, which I never knew existed. So I figured why not read it, it was a short chapter so pretty easy. It turns out it is a story about a little prophet named Nahum who went to Ninevah. Hmmm Ninevah? Ok that is a theme I keep hearing lately with Jonah and how he didn’t listen to God and ended up in a fish. For example, I was having the feeling of me not listening entirely to what God was saying and feared I would end up in a fish myself. I asked God this morning to let me in on the secret a bit more on if I am to leave my job and if so maybe a date would be nice. Instead he talks to me about mountains and pretty feet and then Nahum. Ok, well Nahum did what he was told to do and wrote about the destruction of Ninevah. I don’t know what happened to Nahum but he did do what he was told to do and didn’t end up in a fish like Jonah.

We will leave the story there for now… and get to my morning activities.

I volunteer on Thursdays at the Catholic church since my other place doesn’t serve breakfast on Thursdays. On the way over I asked God to please let me get a hold one particular girl’s mother and also help me with my Jeep.

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So this morning I got the courage up to talk to a man that has been trying to get my attention. Previously he said he knew a mechanic and that he also wanted to show me more of the ‘real’ islanders. I was dragging my feet on that since I was scared and worried about going out of my comfort zone. This morning though since one of the versus I read said, “Don’t be afraid”, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked about the mechanic. So after breakfast I walked with him to my Jeep and we drove off to the mechanic on some side street in a ‘shady’ side of town…and it was across from his house with his four dogs.

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Now this is where the day goes to two words, ‘Holy S**t’. Seriously those are the only words I can use to express how unpredictable and unplanned the day unfolded before my eyes because I said, “Alright God, lead me”. God really does plan out his plan in the details. I can’t even begin to put in words how everything is making more sense to me now. But I have photos of some of it:)

Now yesterday I was really angry at my Jeep and not having Andy around anymore to play cars with. I told this to Rodney the mechanic and we had a great conversation. Just imagine standing in the hot sun in a little street by a garage and he is telling me about how I can’t let my grief control me and that if I do it will destroy me. He found it cool when I said I played on cars and enjoyed it, not many females work on cars on the island I guess. So this might be a door that just opened to still work on cars and make an island friend. He offered to teach me to work on cars again. God is soooo crazy!

So I might just have a mechanic now:)

Moving on…I then went downtown with a friend and he took me to the projects (low income housing). The goal here was to let others know that they shouldn’t mess with the White Girl because I know the ‘Major’ (that was my friend’s street name). So I don’t know all the history behind this but I do know that you don’t mess with the Major. Anyways, he introduced me to this wonderful old lady that sells these ice pop drinks for .25. She had the cutest dog! I also got to use her bathroom. So not only did i get a safe introduction to the projects but I also got an amazing cold drink for free. She didn’t charge me since I am a new customer. I could go on and on how this new connection will benefit my time here but you’ll have to keep reading my journey to see how that unfolds. I just know that now, some of them know who I am, and WHO I know, that way when I work with the kids there that might just work into God’s plan (yea God knew that was coming).

To finish off the story he then takes me for ‘lunch’. Little do I know its at this other soup kitchen the locals go to for lunch time. The food was ok, not anything to write about. The people that visit this establishment are, well, interesting because some of them are the same ones that go to the Lighthouse but HOLY COW are they different. I am sooo glad I had a body guard with me. Imagine reality tv shows where everyone is screaming and cussing at eachother for no reason. Well that was my lunch environment. God wanted me to be out of my comfort zone and so he definitely succeeded! However, after you get used to the strange behavior of the slightly intoxicated and drugged up guys it wasn’t that bad. They are actually pretty nice guys and have some core values. RESPECT is huge in this group. If you don’t have respect than you are considered dirt. There is a high respect for treating a white girl there too.. first of all you don’t touch the white girl! That’s forbidden fruit! I guess I am known as the ‘New Whitey’…so that’s an interesting fact I learned after eating lunch and then ‘liming’ on the street corner. ‘Liming’ i slang for hanging out and doing nothing.

If you decide to follow God and he has a plan for you…and this plan is something that will open your eyes and heart to people you never ever ever imagined to be in contact with…then by the end of your day you will be exhausted. Between the heat, adrenaline, and fear my body is wasted. I know that God wants me to see every aspect of this island and when I agreed to coming here I never imagined what that might mean. I am sitting in my little apartment by the ocean and feeling very safe and secure but I can’t help but feel a heartache for the people I saw today, broken and real people that are sharing the same island with me. The ‘down islanders’ like the mechanic Rondey are amazing people…yea I just met him but what a great spirit he has and what a contrast between him and street guys that are strung out on crack and filled with such pain.

I can’t promise my blog posts will be all happy times by being on an island.. I can promise they will be honest and I hope as the days go by start to unravel with God’s plan.

I forgot one thing! I found that special girls’ mother!!!!! She was at the bar/restaurant working and a friend translated for me how I loved her daughter and wanted to help. She was shocked that a white girl would come all the way down looking for her daughter, I guess that’s not normal for people to CARE. She has my phone number and here’s hoping she calls me.

I also learned the fist slam handshake..you bump knuckles and then hit your chest. Yea, this will be an interesting ride!

Healing Eyes

Moments caught

Moments from the Lighthouse Ministry on St Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands…my new home.

How do you rebuild a life after death? Get up each morning and breathe…then a whole lot of faith since most likely your strength will end the minute you step outside into the light of day. I wouldn’t be living where I was right now and making the choices I am making if I didn’t give up my needs first. Each day I wake up and decide again to not do what I want but what I should do. If God wants to still use this broken heart for others than I’ll follow. It’s not all smiles and it sure isn’t easy. Almost a year ago I was on a plane with my husband to enjoy a week in Jamaica for our 13th wedding anniversary… 6 months before he was to die. And next week it will be 6 months since he died on December 15, 2013.

Healing Eyes

All is well

Do we all seek a new start to life? Just as the day rises each day to bring a new day, we must also think of it as a chance for a new life. Each new day is a chance to try again, to fight again, to endure, and to make a difference. From the smalls to the bigs…size doesn’t matter as long as you are seeking. With Andy dying I have been looking at it all wrong. I am consumed by grief and sadness and reliving of each moment before and as he died. Revisiting that hospital in my mind and going thru the corridors of pain and regret. This cycle is slowly killing my heart and bringing me down.

This morning I flipped open my bible to Philippians 3:12 and it said:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take HOLD of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

My goal is set and I can’t let anything take my eyes off that. I have to strive on even if it seems IMPOSSIBLE. Just like cancer can seem to be impossible sometimes during all those endless chemo treatments. Endless days and nights watching your loved one wither before you. The person you once knew disappears and is replaced by a person in pain. A person fighting for life with each breath and step throughout the day. Never give up hope.

1 Corinthians 13:10-12

“but when completeness comes, what is in the past disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.”

1 Timothy 6:12

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses”


 

I made the choice when I sold my stuff and let my dogs go to another family. I made the decision when I told my bosses I had to go and I didn’t know what the reason was other than a voice said “Go”. Being passive is not in my blood, I don’t want to just sit back while others do things for a bigger purpose. I want to actively participate and make clarity out of all that pain and grief. I will tell my heart to beat again, I will not sit back and let life pass me by. Just as I am competitive and biking and kayaking, I push my body to the limits to bike faster and run raster…so shall I push my heart to feel more, to hurt more, and to endure more trials. This is the beginning of a new day. This is a beginning of a new chapter. This is my New Start to a new life just as Paul referred to Saul starting his new journey once his eyes were opened and the scales fell from his eyes.

I was blind but now I see!

I was in a pit of grief but now I see a light!

I saw death, I held death, I had great loss but now it’s time to step out and continue what I started.

Listen to me for a I tell you the truth. Even in your pain I am with you and will never leave you.
Enjoy this day for tomorrow your job starts.

Can you trust me?

“death has died and All is Well”

Healing Eyes

Old Lighthouse Hike

I write to speak for the broken hearted.

I write to share the pain of those who lose heart.

I write to soothe my soul.

This morning started early with a hike up to the old lighthouse on the other side of my island. It took forever to get there. One thing to learn is that things seem to take longer than you think on this island of only 27 miles in length. If you live in the states and enjoy all of those straight roads and endless smooth concrete than you can’t understand how it can take an hour to get to the other side of a small island in the ocean. It was early and we had already missed our chance to see the sunrise over the ocean but we still journeyed on. For some strange reason we ran into a traffic jam in the rainforest. I have only experienced one other traffic jam on this island and it was where you would expect it, by buildings and street lights. It was very odd that at 6am we ran into several sloooow moving vehicles in the rainforest.  For some reason they didn’t like the potholes and slowed and swerved for each one. Now my friend who was driving usually doesn’t bother with the formality of slowing for a huge crater in the road, why bother when the roads are essentially made up of a series of holes that once was a concrete path.

The hike up to the lighthouse was steep and picturesque, complete with spider webs and hermit crabs. Oh and some really gross looking slug creatures. Once we arrived the sun was up already and hiding behind a cloud. A very ominous cloud floating above the ocean. The sun was stubborn though and reflected on the waves below the cloud and it was a sight to see! We climbed the tall tower and sat on top of the world watching the splendor before us. It only seemed fitting to play the song I had played at Andy’s funeral, Amazing Grace ‘My chains are gone’.

Andy’s chains are gone! His body is free and his pain is gone. God took it away in the end when he finally believed. In his last hour of life he believed and his chains were gone, he was set free, his God and Savior rescued him. His mercy overwhelmed Andy and he took his final breaths of peace…

This earth is temporary. The sun is fleeting and the clouds are many. But God is calling to end the pain of this earth. Last night I fell asleep, alone, listening to Amazing Grace, a song I have avoided for some time because it makes me cry. I walked behind his coffin with a flower in my hand and Amazing Grace played. I took one final look at Andy and slipped the tiny purple iris into his coffin and said Goodbye.  Last night I faced that song head on and cried out to the lyrics while listening to the wave crash outside…I must have eventually fallen asleep. A night with no scarey nightmares of Andy suffering over and over in my head, a night with no dreams in fact.

 

 

Healing Eyes

Why do I have a guitar?

The day started without one and now I appear to have one in my possession.

I have learned about 3 cords that I think I still remember and my fingers are a bit numb and red from pressing on the wires. 

Guitar

It all began because this morning I was filled with grief. Sometimes the grief comes in waves and drowns me. I am learning to admit to my weakness of grief and seeking help from God to navigate thru it. It seems today the answer was ‘Guitar’. So sure why not I’ll try it…if all else fails at least I can say I know 3 chords.

You know how sometimes you know you need to share your feelings but you don’t want to. Most of the time you just shove them back inside and suffer thru your day? Well this morning I decided not to do that. Instead I unloaded on a friend about the stabbing pain in my heart that comes with losing a partner. I lost my partner, my life line, my strength for all of my adult life.

Yesterday I found out the manager of the condo house sits until November. That was a bit saddening to hear because now I am alone in this little building by the Sea. Yes, the other building is just a few feet away and my other friend lives there but one thing you come to realize on the island is that things seem farther way than they appear. Something about the heat that slows you down and makes things seem faaaaar away. Anyways, I was sad and again felt like God wants me to be alone in order to to teach me to lean on him. Why does God have to be so greedy? What makes me so special that he wants me all to himself? Grrr I scream because I really am lonely at night. The waves crashing on the surf is quite nice but it doesn’t hold me at night. I suppose I will have to start to learn to accept my solitude and enjoy the ride.

Today was a long day and filled with so many unexpected blessings. I decided to take a mini half day vacation and went to the beach. Yes yes a beach! How Cliché! But this one is the far end of the island and is very secluded. Don’t fear I did not go alone because that would be slightly dangerous. I tried snorkeling again, I am not a huge fan of it but I am on an island so I should give it a shot. A sting ray decided to visit me and that freaked me out a bit but I survived.

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After my beach/hike escape I found out that it was the last night for the kids club at the church. This meant I could find Gracie one more time. I went expecting to just be happy finding Gracie and instead God put another lady into my life again. She was a nice lady I met when I first came to the island, we shared some tears the last time. I was sitting in the white plastic chairs and she walked in, at first she didn’t recognize me but then a flash of recognition lit up her eyes. ‘Miss Sarah!’

We sat down and caught up a bit and she confessed something to me that made me laugh right out loud. ‘Sarah, I have to confess, and it might sound bad but I prayed for a white friend.’ That just made me laugh and smile so loudly. I said right back to her, ‘You know I also have always wanted a black friend’. So funny even now thinking back to that conversation on how straightforward that was.  She also happens to be my neighbor, it seems she has a house very close to my new place. So odd how when you least expect it you get a little blessing you never expected or asked for. So perhaps I won’t be so lonely.

At the end of the kids club the little girls hugged me and swarmed around me on the way to the church van. One girl asked if I lived here and I said that I moved to the island. She seemed happy about that. Another girl said she wanted to stay with me and they all walked close to me to the church van. When we got to the van a girl said she didn’t want to go home but I said come to church on Sunday and i’ll see you again. God knows why these kids want to see me again…they must be really craving love to need me. If I can make a bit of difference in there lives by just showing up then that’s enough reason to stay here on the island. I don’t know how but if God wants me to learn something and sacrifice my comfort for others than why not.

Tomorrow I am going to get up super early to see the sunset from the West end of the island. Should be amazing!  I don’t know what my future is but right now I am exhausted and feeling ‘ok’. This faith walk is exhausting, if you ever get bored in your lives and want to step out than be ready for a lot of ups and downs because God likes to be unpredictable and sometimes illogical.


 

Prayer request: I really need to get some wifi at my place and stop using my phone as a hotspot. It’s convenient but really limiting to my blogging.

bible lesson ball

 

Healing Eyes

Hop Hop

If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31.

If God gave up his son for us.. gave it all up.. how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

If God could give it all up for us (me) than why is it so ludicrous to think it’s not ok for me to give it all up in return? Why is it so hard to fathom that he wouldn’t take care of me if I gave it all up? If he is telling me to do one thing and that one thing is very clear in my head than why wouldn’t I say yes without any fear of the consequences. Shouldn’t we all support that kind of radical thinking and radical change if it brings about an abundant life?

I am laying in my bed right now in physical pain but the guilt of having such a nice place right on the Sea is weighing heavier than my body not feeling well. That’s kinda crazy? I can’t accept this abundant gift from God because I don’t think I deserve it, I’m just not religious enough for this journey. However, God has me right where he wants me, on an island dependent on him. Maybe since I am listening and following him then that’s why he gave me such a great place to rest and listen. Yes when I first got on island I was not living by the Sea but in a room provided by a very gracious and loving host. She gave me a launch pad from the airport to where God has now placed me. He has placed me in a very nice, clean, and safe residence. My condo is right next to a very friendly couple who manage the property and are a hoot to hang out with. They have made me feel at home and safe here in this oasis by the sea.

Now for anyone that knows me they would know I am not a bible verse person or a church goer. I can’t quote them off the top of my head and I doubt I ever will be able to. So I rely on others to inspire me and I’ll follow the bunny trail put in front of me with my handy study bible.

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2 Corinthians 6:10 – Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich, having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

The bunny trail then led me to..

2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

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What if God wants me to live abundantly.. and what if I just have to live with that and appreciate it..

What if me taking the step forward in this ‘faith walk’ just means I have to take the blessings that inevitably comes with it? Ok, this doesn’t mean its always going to be peachy keen.  Those darn crazy ants are everywhere, I’m too cheap to buy food, and my jeep makes some interesting sounds. All of this is quite a step down from my Mini Cooper S, Mr2 classic car, and bug free 2 story house complete with AC. I lost a lot in coming here, I gave up a lot of my stuff, my Andy is gone, my dogs are gone, my cat is gone. The list could go on and on. But one thing I am realizing is a theme that if I give up things dear to me I may just get something to replace it and I might just appreciate it a whole lot more since I have a greater appreciation when reduced to lower expectations.  I shouldn’t limit what God can do because of my brainwashing to think if you follow something invisible than it most likely means it won’t be very good since I can’t really SEE it before I BUY it.

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Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

I don’t want to just wake up and have one devotional for the day. I want that one devotion to lead me on a bunny trail to hop around and see other hidden gems in my day. I want my eyes to always be open and searching for more. Isn’t life about wanting more and more? Than why not more of the invisible?

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Romans 16:25-26 – Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the MYSTERY HIDDEN for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith!

Makes you think .. well makes me think? I love puzzles and connecting pieces. I think God knows that and he knew it all along and that’s why he is so vague sometimes with me. He likes it when I follow the breadcrumbs and get something personal out of the words in front of me. Words there all along but I couldn’t see because I didn’t want to. Maybe this all davinci code and conspiracy thinking but I sure think God is real and enjoys watching each of us figuring things out with a bit of prodding.

 

Healing Eyes

Working with kids can help mend old wounds.

Andy and I struggled to have kids of our own for several years… dare I say our entire marriage was shadowed by never being able to. I think looking back it might have slowly eroded that child like self in each of us. We had lots of fun together but we desperately wanted to share our love with another mini version of us. When that couldn’t happen we thought treatments could solve the problem. When that didn’t work we turned to adoption. But as our story unfolded that wasn’t to be either. The main thing I am starting to realize is that over the many years I hardened my heart to being around kids…it was such a huge part of Andy’s and mine dream that never came true that we buried the pain over the years. Better to avoid the pain and find other fun things to do or buy. It worked for us…we made it work.

So now what?

Andy is gone and I am alone to pick up the pieces. All that brokenness can be put to work it seems. God has found a way to weasel his way in and light a match inside my heart. It’s a very slow burn but it takes time to change…to change a way of thinking and living..to change perspective on life…

I am starting to look past my own pain and misery by helping others. I don’t know how much of a difference it is but maybe it’s the small stuff that works. We are used to always thinking we have to ‘do’ something and it has to be noticeable to mean it’s working, that we are impacting the world. What if it’s the tiny moments that over time snow ball into something more?

My afternoon was a happy one. Yes, I said it, I was happy. I started by making some mother’s day cards for the kids to color for their moms. Looking past my own heart ache of Mother’s day I succumbed to printing and unjamming a printer over and over to make 10 cards. Later I realized there was a copy machine that made it way easier to duplicate the cards. This coming Mother’s day would have been 4 years since our baby Hope miscarried. She had a wee little heart beat that just gave out unexpectedly in a very painful day before Mother’s day. Sadly Andy never got to hear the heart beat since he missed the doctor’s appointment but he was so happy to hear me share the experience. That day she died Andy and I grieved together.. I’ll never forget the look on Andy’s face when it happened. He tried to go into work that day while I was passed out on the couch but he turned right back around to be with me. That day killed a piece of our hearts…a piece that Andy never really got over until he died, his final words were he would take care of Hope in heaven.

I think it’s a small thing to hang out with the girls while they color and do there homework. I told one of the girl’s I would be up in a minute after I hung out with the 2 older girls. When I got upstairs she had been waiting to pick her colors for her card until I arrived. I was a bit surprised she was waiting for me and very glad I followed thru on my promise. So odd that a kid would want to hang out with me! When we finished coloring we took photos together and the two girls giggled and fought over who was in the picture. Adorable really.

One of the girl’s back downstairs was finishing up her card and when I saw the colors she picked I smiled. She colored just like I would have by alternating colors and outlining the teddy bear…very artistic. But she was shy and thought it was ugly but I assured her it was Amazing.

Gracia coloring her butterfly

Gracia and Perla

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but today was enough to know that coming back to the island was a good idea. If I were to die tomorrow I would feel good about listening to the voice in my head that said “Go”.

Helping with Homework

Helping with Homework

Healing Eyes

Heat stroke

It appears I might have been affected by the heat today which is odd since I wasn’t hanging out in the sun today. I think it’s a mixture of humidity and staring at a computer all morning.

My day today went better than expected. I got some work done for my Michigan job and then let the day unfold as God wanted it to. I ended up getting a ride from a new friend to the insurance agency to check out prices for my Jeep to come. Had some tacos for the first time since coming to the island and bought another crucian bracelet. This bracelet simplifies ‘Gratitude’…which is fitting since I need more of that lately. I have been moaning a lot and complaining soooo it’s time to try harder on that one. So the bracelet will remind me to stop it!

Gratitude: Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude means thankfulness, count your blessings, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. I just means we are aware of our blessings.

The other bracelet in the photo means ‘infinity’. I got that on my first trip to St. Croix in memory of Andy.

Infinity: Reflects the endlessly great feelings invoked by the Caribbean blue sea and the local color of its people. Wear as a symbol of everlasting friendship, love or memories.

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In the afternoon I went to the Good News Bible Club for kids down in one of the projects. It was an interesting experience. We sat on sheets out on the grass under some shade. The kids came and went and were a bit hyper. There was one little girl in particular that wouldn’t sit still so eventually I ended up with her on my lap and trying to calm her and stopping her from hitting other kids. It went ‘okish’. Perhaps I am better than I give myself credit but I still am extremely awkward around kids. I even joined in some of the kids songs which was very very out of my comfort zone. I can’t lie though it did feel kinda nice to act like a kid again, even if I was awkward.

There was another older girl there that was asking some serious questions. She asked what if someone was very sick and in the hospital and they had to bring a preacher in to try and save that person before they died. If that was something people did and if there was enough time to do that. I wanted to scream out, ‘Yes, Yes that really does happen! Andy and I did that very thing…but I held my tongue, it didn’t seem appropriate to butt in’. It’s interesting to see how some kids can be quite serious and others very hyper in the same group. Just an observation from a motherless 30 something widow..but kids are interesting to watch. Maybe some day God will succeed and I’ll be singing and teaching bible studies without feeling awkward..hmm let’s not hold our breaths on that. God only knows!

Healing Eyes