Posted in Battles, Death, Experiences, Grace, Healing, Hope, life happens..., Loss, love, My Journey, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

The Battle Belongs to Him…

Life feels hard right now. Nationwide, people are angry. People are afraid. People are confused. The next four years feel very unsettled. Social media has exploded with all of these feelings and emotions pouring out everyday. I’ve tried hard not to let myself get too caught up in emotion.

Then there is the next layer of heartache.

For some life is hard right now because of very personal battles they are fighting. Their own battles or battles of loved ones. Some are being fought and some battles have been lost. Some are in limbo… waiting. Illness, relationships, death.

These past few weeks I’ve found myself standing in the gap on behalf of many… most I know and a handful I don’t know but have committed to pray for them. I asked God to break my heart for the things that break His. He came through. Daily I’m on my knees interceding for friends and loved ones and strangers… calling on Jesus to bring each one of these precious people just what they need at just the right moment. Peace. Comfort. Healing. Strength. Closure. Grace. Hope. Tears. Laughter. Memories.

At times I’ve felt so helpless, wishing I could do more. Wishing I could be there to give them a hug or sit and listen. I’ve prayed for them to be able to praise the heavens amidst the storm. I’ve prayed for their memories of their loved one to be sweet and comforting. I’ve prayed for healing. I’ve prayed for the stakeholders in the lives of the suffering, for those people also feel the affects of the heartache. Many times all I can do is pray for God’s will in the situation.

As I’ve been interceding on behalf of others, I’ve been reminded of the battles I’ve fought over the years. Difficult battles. Life-changing battles. Lost battles. Battles of loss.

A few of those battles felt as if I’d never recover. Life would never be the same. I would never have joy again. For when I am in the middle of a battle it is easy to lose sight of the other side. I forget that it is being fought by the greatest Warrior of all.

The battle is already won. Is it the outcome I want? Perhaps not. But the God of Hope will be our warrior and bring us the peace and comfort needed to sustain us as we venture on this earthly journey. The older I get and the more battles I see, the more excited I get for eternity. For this life is temporary and heaven is eternal. One day none of this will matter.

But in the meantime… we need to hold on to the hope of Christ.  No matter if our struggles and fears are for the state of our nation or closer to home… there is hope and the battle belongs to the Lord.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

Posted in Cats, Circle of Life, Death, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Pets, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized, Vacation/Questions to Ponder

Grief Revisited…

It takes only a song, a smell, a memory shared on FB, a sound, a picture, a date on the calendar… and the grief comes flooding back. Fresh as the day it began.

Today was just that… a date on the calendar. Four months to the day. A time on the clock.  It happened right now. The emotions and sadness and heaviness surfaced back up to the top of the heap.  I’ve worked so hard to let them go… to quell the sadness… to replace the sorrow with sweet memories that make me smile instead of cry. Her reminders around the house have brought me peace and comfort… until today.

Grief doesn’t happen in a straight line.

Those were the best words ever shared with me by a counselor I sat with for a year after my divorce. And how true they were. I’ve shared them with many friends over the past ten years as they’ve walked through the various stages of grief.

Today I was caught off guard and had to practice what I’ve been preaching!

Four months ago the tears were daily… many times a day.  That tapered down to once a day and then several times a week.  Eventually the tears have subsided; replaced by a smile and a little whisper that I miss her.

This afternoon felt raw and fresh.  Tears. That lost feeling deep in my soul. How has it been four months?  It feels like it just happened.

Tonight I’m upstairs preparing a space for a new little kitten (or two!) to join our household. It scares me to turn them loose in our huge old house so I’m creating a space that is smaller and more contained.  Eventually they can graduate to the big house!

As I’m sitting here in my rocking chair that Abigail and I spent many hours sharing, I’m having a moment.  I feel like the widow that visits her late husbands grave asking him to release her to move on and love again. It sounds crazy, but it’s real.  I am, in a sense, asking Abigail to release me to love another kitten or two. Up until now it’s felt like betrayal.  How can I love another cat like I’ve loved Abigail for 16 years?

Tonight’s grief revisited has been a blessing.  It purged another layer of grief and nudged me to begin to prepare for new life in our home.  Once I have the space prepared and the essentials purchased and staged, I will begin the search.  I know God will put the right little eyes and ears in my path at just the right moment.  Our hearts will connect and a new story will begin.

Abigail’s story will not be forgotten.  There will never be another Bubba Girl, but there will be new memories to make and a new one to love and grow with. It’s time. This grief revisited has opened a new door of possibilities and adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cats, Circle of Life, Death, Grace, Healing, Loss, My Journey, Pets, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Our Sweet Girl…

It was a warm Thursday evening in July of 2000. As I strolled past the large box in the garage our eyes met. I stopped in my tracks and said, “You shall be mine and I shall call you Abigail.”

That was our beginning. She sat quietly amidst the rest of the litter as they romped and squirmed. Our love story began in that moment.

The month long wait to bring her home was grueling. After all, our hearts bonded in that quick moment the first time we locked eyes. Anticipation filled my days.

kitten

September 1 finally arrived. I picked her up and brought her home filled with nerves and excitement!  I’d had kittens before, but something about this one seemed different.  Something deep in my soul knew that she would be different.

Abigail Grace…

last day

In her first 5 years she was Abigail (Grace) Adams.  When you teach 5th grade and US History there is some fun to be had!  She was famous!  Oh I love the innocent gullibility of kids! FYI… she is not related to John Quincy Adams… nor was I for that matter! In those five years many “Abigial” stories were told and she became part of my teaching. The students loved her without ever meeting her in person.

How can a four-legged creature become such an important part of ones life?

Nearly 16 years later this little girl has impacted my life more than I can even put into words.  People talk about the loyalty of dogs.  Don’t ever underestimate a cat… especially this one!

My sweet girl was by my side through a horrific accident of my step daughter, a divorce, a thousand mile move back home, several moves once here and three deaths in my family, not to mention all of the little hurdles life put in my path.  Many tears fell on her sweet little head as I cried and held her… or she held me.

Many say that cats are selfish and only think of themselves. Not my girl. Abigail was very intuitive and knew just the right moment to snuggle in and show her support and affection. IMG_0382

In her first 5 years she was not a lap cat.  She might have jumped up for a minute, but quickly got down.  She only needed to be near us, but not sit with us.

The day back in 2005 that my ex husband moved out I came home to find her in a corner where a piece of furniture had been. Her beautiful green eyes looked up at me with a very sad and confused look. That was the straw that broke for me.  I burst into tears and sat down in the rocker.  Moments later she was sitting in my lap, consoling and comforting.  From that moment on when I sat down she was in my lap or sitting next to me. That continued for the rest of her life.  Intuitive and compassionate she was.

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In 2006 I moved back home.  I reconnected with my first love and we began a relationship. I told him about my cat and he quickly shared that he was not fond of cats. I assured him that Abigail would steal his heart and they would be fine. When I told his young son (age 5 at the time) that I had a cat, he too quickly told me that his daddy didn’t like cats. I assured him that all was well. He then told me that no his daddy  really really didn’t like cats and that he would shoot her in the ass! I guess they had many strays that would hang out in their yard and leave their treasures in the gardens!  We still laugh about that today!

Well, Daddy grew to love Abigail and at times their relationship rivaled mine with the both of them! They had daily moments and routines shared only between the two of them. She did steal his heart! No shooting necessary!

daddy

Today it is very quiet around our house.  We both find ourselves looking  and listening for our sweet girl. I have always said that if you audio taped our home you would think we had a daughter named Abigail! She was an integral part of our days… this little four-legged gift.  She loved unconditionally and with a flare that was all her own!  There will never be another Abigail Grace… Gooty Girl… Bubba Girl… Goots… Pretty Girl…Abergooty…Most Photographed Cat on the Planet!  hands

Rest in Peace Sweet Abigail Grace…IMG_9877

Posted in Circle of Life, Death, Grace, Hope

A Legacy Left Behind…

It’s been a whirlwind since getting the text that dad was back in the hospital… probably pneumonia.  I made a visit that evening to visit him with my brother.  This felt familiar.  At this point in his 90 year old life Dad had made many of these visits.  He was in good spirits for the most part and talked of getting out of there the next day.

The following night I went back to see Dad and we were told that he was more or less given the directive to go home and call hospice.  He would continue to get aspiration pneumonia and there was nothing they could do.  Wow…

Dad was angry.  He hadn’t really given the end of his life much thought, after all the Zags were gearing up to begin a new season.  He told us it was overwhelming news.  Of course…

Three days later they moved him to a care center to rehab and regain strength to be able to go home.  After a visit with four of my siblings a few days later, I knew deep in my heart that he was not going home.

Five days later my dad made a difficult and final decision.  He chose to begin End of Life Care… to begin dying.  He would no longer eat or take his medications.  Any form of swallowing was more and more difficult and he was choking to death.  That was Monday.

I spent the afternoon with him on Tuesday.  He was alert and in fairly good spirits.  He struggled to talk so conversation was minimal.  We held hands and I spent a great deal of time looking at his blue eyes.  His blue eyes that were beginning to lose their life.  His blue eyes that he passed on to me.  His hands were soft and his skin transparent.

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Thursday I went to spend the afternoon with him.  One of my sisters had come from Seattle to say goodbye.  They had some sweet words and I love you’s.  I was also able to look Dad in his blue eyes, holding his hand and tell him that I loved him… very much.  He looked back at me and told me he loved me deeply… deeply.  Those were are last words spoken to each other directly.

An hour and a half after arriving he took out his iPhone and played Mahjong one last time.  Shortly after that he began to slip away. Trying to make him as comfortable as possible we put him in his favorite Zag sweatshirt.  We left the room for a time and when we came back everything had changed.  No more alertness or ability to have conversations.  He was now actively dying.  His breathing changed.  It was just a matter of making him comfortable and waiting… waiting.  Deep in his soul he was probably relieved.  Several days before he told my sister it was taking a long time.  He passed peacefully 14 hours or so later holding the hand of his wife.

What must go through your mind as you lay dying… knowing you are dying.  I learned that once they begin this process, it is more of a spiritual battle than physical.  His body no longer needed anything, but his soul had to make the transition.  We all prayed that he had made his peace with Jesus.  He as expressed earlier in this journey that he had made a great many mistakes in his life and was not sure what was next for him.  My dear brother shared with him from the gospel of John.

“To all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he has given them the right to be called children of God.”  John 1:12

It is that simple.  We’ve all made mistakes… he was not alone.  For my dad it came down to one truth… and only God knows what happened in his heart.

I believe God gave my dad a gift.  The gift to time to say goodbye and try to mend some fences.  It’s been a long and tumultuous battle in our family.  Great heartache and sadness, along with wonderful times and sweet memories.  Each of us that he fathered has our own story to tell from our time on this earth with him.  Some of us a little more difficult than others.

So the whirlwind end to my dad’s life has finished.  Yesterday we buried him in a beautiful spot above the river.  Now we each begin to untangle the memories and bring closure to another relationship… our last parental relationship.  We lost our mom suddenly nearly 7 years ago.

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casket

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May the God of hope bring each of us to a place of ultimate forgiveness and peace with the man that gave us life.  And may we live our lives out with strength and courage to remember what was good and right, and let go of what needs to be forgotten.  We are his legacy… and we need to live it out with all that our Father in heaven has given us.