Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Words and Remembering Can Be Wonderful Gifts

An old friend, a new friend, a friend across the miles I have never personally met, my mom, and a neighbor.  All these different parts came together this morning – all remembering.  All making me aware that there are people who surround us who support, who love, who honor.  Today is the day Jim died three years ago.  In some ways, it feels like a few months ago and in other ways, of course, so much has changed.  All I have to do to remember that one is look at how much our two children have grown and changed over the past several years.  But to think that people, some of whom I know only distantly, would remember this day and would think to honor Jim by remembering him – well that frankly is such a surprising blessing. 

Last night I was watching a television show that related to my winding and wondering thoughts on this anniversary day.  The show had a scene in it where a teenager died while texting and driving.  The grieving parents were sitting with the main character of the show and a pastor.  They were both recalling the need to try to make something beautiful out of things that don’t make sense, that are horrible and sad.  As so today, I realize the beautiful that comes from Jim in the children we had together – Jim’s son is a sweet, pensive, and athletic boy (just like his daddy); Jim’s daughter is a spitfire who likes to charm a room and knows what she wants (just like her daddy).  I also realize the beautiful that comes from Jim’s far to early departure from this world – that love is still here and friends and family will always be touched by Jim and I by their love back. 

The “why” Jim left so soon and “how” he could have been taken from his kids too early in life cannot be explained now, but for now I remember Jim and his kindness, his smile and laughter, his generosity, his perseverance, his perfectionism, and his love for his family and friends.  And I can find peace knowing he is hanging out with the coolest person who has ever lived on this planet (as the kids and I say) – Jesus. 

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Your Secret Super Power a Few Years Down the Road

I wrote a piece several years ago for a wonderful website called “Inspire Me Today”.  I wrote it while my now deceased husband was still alive and we were fighting for his life.  It is being reposted today and I hope you will revisit it by clicking here

As I reread the piece it made me reflect on how much as happened since I wrote it and how my view of the world has sharpened over time.  Even though Jim did not survive, our collective belief in ourselves, our family, our strength, and our knowledge that Jim would be healed in some way has not changed.  Our resilience got both Jim and I through some incredibly hard times.  Jim had chronic neurological Lyme disease that expressed itself with overlapping ALS-symptoms.  It got to the point that Jim could no longer walk, move, talk or breathe on his own.  Yet through these years Jim managed to touch people, to smile when friends showed up, to be present for our children.  His will was incredible and he survived longer than many physicians thought he would because of his belief in himself.  I juggled a job and raising children, managed to keep our family functioning as a family, and spearheaded Jim’s care because of my belief in self, lifted up with God’s help, and supported by many loving family and friends.

During the end of Jim’s life a friend said something profound to me that helped me realize that regardless of whether Jim would be healed while on Earth, it was guaranteed he would be healed after death.  In heaven, Jim is healthy again.  Our belief in self and our belief and faith in God supports that inner resilience and can make reality happen here or after in heaven.  My super power is still found within – it has taken a beating, but the joy I can feel for life and my children has been highlighted more brightly because of the pain of what we went through.  Not in spite of, but because of….. the secret super power is still present in full force – helping me carve a new path of my own choosing.

 

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New Book Giveaway

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that today is the last day of my book giveaway on goodreads.  I’m excited for you to read the new book as it has some neat contributions – my 9 year old son wrote some insights, my 7 year old daughter illustrated the book, and a friend’s eulogy to Jim is included in the book.  It is entitled When Miracles Aren’t Enough: The Lessons Tragedy Taught Me.  It has been well received and I’m excited to be giving away 20 books.  Please share the link as well with your friends.  Thanks so much!  Erica

Here is the link to enter the giveaway (again make sure you do it by the end of today – Friday March 4th): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27314454-when-miracles-aren-t-enough

 

Can a 25-minute encounter change your life?

The doorbell rang.  I was impressed on the punctual arrival.  A sweet elderly lady greeted me with a smile.  She had travelled an hour to pick up a hospital bed for her husband.  The same one my late husband used.  We went to the garage and I showed her how to put it back together (it was in parts for easy mobility) and we talked logistics.  Then the question came, “Why are you selling the bed?”  I had to explain.  I was grateful for the question – so many people avoid talking or asking about Jim these days for fear they will upset me.  She looked shocked.  I was reminded how shocking it is that neurological Lyme disease can kill a person.  Then she told me her story.  Her husband had a stroke.  At first the physicians misdiagnosed it as Parkinson’s disease.  Then while he was walking in his disabled state, a car struck him.  I was horrified for her.  We both fought back tears.  We talked about the pain of seeing someone you love suffer and the frustration of not being able to help them in the ways we would want to.  Then she announced, “Come meet him.”  I didn’t realize he was in the car.  We walked over and I opened the door.  Another lovely wide beautiful smile.  A face aged by years of “doing”.  Wrinkles, crow’s feet, and signs of stress and age on the face.  A beautiful face.  We chatted for a bit and then I excused myself so I could get the bed into their van.

After we loaded up the bed, the woman asked, “How much do I owe you?” as she pulled out an envelope of cash.  “There is no need,” I replied, “I hope you enjoy the bed and that it is helpful for your husband.”  Then I paused and added, “I’m happy it is going to you both.  It served Jim well and I hope it does the same for your husband.”  Again, the woman had the look of shock on her face.  “No, I insist I pay you something,” she protested.  I again said no.  Then her tears flowed, she embraced me with the biggest bear hug I’ve had in awhile.  “God bless you,” she said.  “God bless you too,” I replied back.  She stood back and then came to hug me again, so genuine in her gestures.  Several more times she commented “God bless you,” and she meant it.

I approached the man again in the passenger seat.  His wife had told him the bed was a gift.  He started tearing up and then the tears started to fall.  The three of us were all there crying with the connection of pain, blessings of having lived good lives, and the frustration that comes with the knowledge that things sometimes go wrong and you can’t control them.

As the van drove off and I waved goodbye, my tears continued to stream down my face.  This couple, elderly and so full of love for each other, had just blessed my life.  I was saddened in that I had thought Jim and I would get to that point – be the cute elderly couple who still enjoyed each other so much.  I was glad too though to have made a small difference in this particular couple’s lives.

My 25-minute encounter with these two beautiful people reminded me that there are blessings always and that even though we are not in control of events, we are still in control of our attitudes and perspectives.  Thank God (literally) for amazing people to come along and remind us of the important things in life.

The Widow’s Dream

It finally happened – the dream that all the widow books said would come.  The presence that others told me about that happens after a spouse dies.  It has been just over 2 months since Jim passed away.  As he was dying, I asked him to send me a sign letting me know he was alright and he delivered the next day.  I haven’t had that connection since.  Until the other night.  I don’t typically remember my dreams and I was so grateful that this one woke me, made me pause, and forced me to give thanks that Jim is well, hanging out with Jesus and doing things physically he hasn’t been able to do in years.  I focus on those things.  They are what make the sadness, pain, and more sadness bearable.

The dream wasn’t much, but the reminder was grand.  Jim was in a bed.  It was a recollection of the night he passed, except it wasn’t his bed and it wasn’t his bedroom.  Still, I knew he was dying and I was physically lying next to him in the bed.  Then the life passed out of him.  Again, a recollection of what was.  He was present in this space, although he was physically struggling and far off in a way too, and then he was not in his body anymore.  The body was only a shell of the essence of Jim.  That was so evident in real life.  My first experience with something so intimate as a life passing before my eyes and that same experience happened in the dream.

Then in the dream, there was the pause.  This was the recollection of reality too.  In real life I remember staring at Jim hard, trying to process what had happened even though I knew what had happened and then crying out “Lazarus, get up”  – I urged Jim to defy all odds and for his eyes to pop open and his body to revive itself.  For Jim to return.  This of course did not happen in real life, but I sat next to Jim’s body and his bed for quite some time, hoping that it would.

In my dream, this same scene played out, minus the words.  There was Jim’s body and my living presence looking at him and then making slow-motion movements walking around the room, trying to process what had happened.  In the dream, there was that pause.  The confusion.  And, then Jim sat up in the bed and then Jim stood up next to the bed.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  We smiled at one another.  I knew.  He knew.  He was moving on.  He was about to walk out of that room.  Two things struck me: Jim smiled and Jim walked – two things that didn’t happen much, if at all, during his last months here.

And then in the dream, Jim walked.  He was still in the room when I woke up.  He was still smiling at me when my eyes opened into this reality.  I paused, reflecting on the gift just given to me.  I reflected on what I already knew, but what was graciously given to me in a dream: a reminder that Jim is well.  Jim is walking, smiling, and whole again.

And then, just in case I didn’t get it, after I got out of the bed and headed into the bathroom to get ready for the day, I paused at a bureau.  As I opened the doors, a photo fell off the top shelf and hit my feet.  It was a frame divided into 3 parts: one with Jim and our daughter, one photo with Jim and our son, and one photo with Jim and me.  Jim is there with each one of us and that in and of itself is worth celebrating.

And If that Mockingbird Don’t Sing….What Does it Mean??

This morning after dropping my daughter at pre-school I decided to take my own advice and “be still” for a moment. I went to Starbucks, got my standard and headed outside to sit and drink my tea in the shade. My sadness consumed me and I fought back the tears that were bound to come. There were all sorts of people around me, meeting colleagues, shaking hands, smiling, talking, texting, and the idea of a woman having a crying fit in the middle of it all didn’t seem like a good idea. So I sat, looked around, tried to remember happier times when my dying husband was well. He would have been among the shaking hands, smiling crowd. I was trying to remember.

Then my concentration was broken by the loud squawking of mockingbirds in flight. I looked up to see a not unfamiliar scene. Two mockingbirds, I am assuming a mother and father, chasing after a much larger blackbird, who was likely after some eggs or young. The parents were ruthless, flying and darting after the larger bird. They would quickly fly, peck at, and then return to their original perch spot. And all the while, they were calling something fierce.

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I smiled now and looked around again at all the faces and people. Not one of them noticed. Not one of them looked to the sky for the tenacious display of the mockingbirds. I watched for many more minutes. The scene remained the same and I was struck by how much energy both species of birds were exerting. I was struck by the fact that not one of them was ready to give up the fight. I was struck by how similar my husband was to the mockingbirds. Jim has darted, struck at and fought away the enemy. He has persevered even when his energy has been depleted. Just as I was amazed by the birds in flight, so many have been amazed by my husband’s fight (that includes me too).

After more minutes of considering the skies, I decided that I was going to “google” mockingbirds as an animal totem. I have never considered them  to be in my path for a reason, but today I knew the fact that only I seemed to be paying attention to them at this specific moment meant something.

My google search revealed some interesting insight. Mockingbirds are signs of overcoming fear. Mockingbirds are symbols for finding your inner strength and song. Mockingbirds are supposed to help you heal on the inside by gaining knowledge on the outside. It is said that mockingbirds teach us to be flexible – to go with the flow.

Those mockingbirds were a gift to remind me that although things are changing, there is no fear. When I realized this, I looked to the skies again. The birds were silenced; they were nowhere in sight. I sat minutes longer waiting to see if they would return. I threw my now empty tea cup away and finding my inner strength rose from the bench to face the uncertainty of the day – without fear.

The Song that Hits Home Perfectly…..Let It Be

There are so many songs that speak to people.  Some offer connections to our own circumstances.  Others convey an emotion that strikes us just so.  Other songs motivate us into action.  And then there is that song.  You know the one.  The one that seems to capture it all.  The one that sums up something about your philosophy, your take on life; the one that describes something that was indoctrinated in you.

The best part of this song connection is that often you like a song for no particular reason and then realize later it is so much more powerful than you afforded it at first.  Maybe you initially liked the song for it was popular and played on the radio a lot or maybe you liked the beat and didn’t necessarily pay attention to the words – but then suddenly, and maybe years later, that same song gives you that “aha” moment.  You hear it differently.  A song you liked for its melody and rhythm is now speaking directly to you – the song is summing up so much for you.

I have several of these songs, but the one that is classic for me is “Let It Be” by the Beatles.  “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me.  Speaking words of wisdom: Let it Be……”

I have found myself articulating a philosophy of life that I didn’t realize I had until my husband’s health took a major decline over the past few years.  He went from being a vibrant, active man to a very ill person who can no longer breathe or walk on his own.  Fighting chronic Lyme disease with ALS-mimic symptoms has proven to be one horrible journey, and during the high stress times, I find myself wanting and needing to be still.  The need to reflect, to be alone and to consider nothing and yet many things all at the same time, is a part of me.  The need to stop, to pay attention to what my body is telling me and to pay attention to the signs around me, dominates in times of trouble.

Now I know Paul McCarthy was talking about his mother in the song, but the connection to Mary the mother of Jesus is what I hear.  I get that warm feeling of peace, of calm.  I can picture Mary the Mother of Jesus with her arms spread wide open welcoming me for a hug.  It makes me smile when I hear the words over and over again in the song.

There is another part of the song that says “And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines for me.  Shine on until tomorrow: Let it Be….”   That light can be a person, a promise, a hope, Jesus, faith.  There are many lights really – it is a matter of which one we will choose to see and therefore respond to.  Regardless, when it is dark and we are feeling alone, afraid, or horrible, there is a light that we can focus on that will get us through to the next day.  There is always a light to help us.  Paul McCarthy has written that he saw his mother in a dream during a crazy time of his life and he knew that everything would be alright.  Everything would work out if he just let it be and trusted the process.

So this song is one of only several that I have on my iPhone.  When I considered the small collection on my phone, I realized the theme.  Each song is a song full of promise.  Each song is a reminder that there are good things for us – positive things for us to focus on, regardless of the circumstances around us.  Each song is about finding your way when you are down.

What song sums up your philosophy of life?  Pay attention to your favorite songs and see if you can find a pattern.  “Let it be, let it be.  There will be an answer: Let it Be.  Whisper words of wisdom: Let it Be.”

What an interesting exercise and also what a nice highlight of your most prized thoughts.

Click here to listen to the song!

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