Suddenly Single…and the Holidays

Last year you thought you had the perfect family. The perfect life. You were so thankful for your good fortune, and worried about some of your friends who were going through a tough time with their families. You felt so bad for them, but you were secretly relieved your life was so much different; so much better.

What a difference a year makes.

Now you’re the one who’s hurting. The one whose life has been turned upside down. And you never saw it coming.

Your spouse didn’t pass away; that may have been easier, almost.

He/she left you, and your children. For someone else. Unexpectedly. How long they’d been having an affair, you have no idea. All you know is, your life is shattered, and you have no idea where to begin to put it back together again.

Your home that had been so beautiful, so comfortable, that had held so many family celebrations, is now gone. Another family is living there, and you envy the memories they’re making. And hope they’ll have a happier ending than you did!

Thanksgiving was terrible. Fortunately you and your kids had your sister’s family to share it with. But all you could think of was about last year. How you and he/she had hosted since a wonderful family dinner, with everyone happy, talking excitedly about Christmas plans and gifts and family parties. Everyone had pitched in to help, and the rest of the weekend was spent decorating for Christmas and beginning to shop for gifts.

Now you spent half of your Thanksgiving day wondering what he/she was doing; where their Thanksgiving meal was. Were they with his/her family, and excitedly making plans for their first Christmas together? Did they sit around laughing about you and your kids, and joking about how miserable you probably were and saying how lucky he/she was to finally be rid of you?

Did he/she even think about how the kids were doing without him/her, since there wasn’t even a phone call to check on them, or tell them Happy Thanksgiving! His/her parents didn’t bother to call their grandchildren either! It was as if they didn’t exist any more.

Did he/she even bother to have a moment of regret?

A small moment where he/she maybe realized this was all wrong? That he/she made a mistake?

Thoughts like this are natural in this situation. Especially that first year. You’re feeling betrayed, unloved, and unwanted.

But dwelling on your situation doesn’t help. It only serves to feed your loneliness and extend your stay in the land of regret.

Which is not a place you want to stay. It’s not fun there, and there’s no way it ever will be.

Your memories of other holidays are just that. Memories. Memories you cannot keep replaying over and over, because the outcome will still be the same. Now you need to start making new memories. You may not think you ever will right now, but you will. And they won’t all be bad ones.

For now, as difficult as it may be, you have to move forward. You need to be an example for your kids who have no idea how to handle the situation either. You have to show them how; show them how an adult handles the tough times, and makes the best of a bad situation. Even though you’re not sure how to handle it yourself.

You start by holding your head high. By not continually dwelling on what happened and telling your story over and over. That chapter has been written, edited, and put to bed. Now it’s time to write a new one.

Easier said than done? Yes. But you’ve survived so far, and will continue to. You won’t be the same person you were any more. You’ll be stronger. And an example for so many others.

Be thankful for what you’ve learned, and that you have another chance. Be thankful for those around who love you and support you. Be thankful…because as bad as it seems now, it could be so much worse.

Next Thanksgiving will be so much better, and you will have so much more to be thankful for.

And yes, I do know. From my own experiences.

The best is yet to come.

A New Thanksgiving

This year’s Thanksgiving meal was truly extra special. In several ways. For the first time, our daughter and I actually cooked it together. In her kitchen, in her house. With some help from her husband who deep fried the turkey to a golden brown delight while my husband supervised.

And our 6 month old blessing, our first granddaughter, was right there watching, smiling and laughing, and wearing her “Gobble til You Wobble” shirt. And I’m sure anticipating next year, after her first two teeth have been joined by all the others, and she can actually eat a real Thanksgiving meal (I don’t think the banana baby food she had really counted)!

I have to say, this Thanksgiving was the first one in the ten years since my mother passed away, that I truly enjoyed the day without having a moment in which I wanted to cry. Because I was surrounded by the most special family ever. My husband, our daughter and son in law, and their first child.

I did remember Thanksgivings past, from the time Ashley was just a baby and my own mother was more interested In holding her granddaughter than eating dinner. I remember her feeding baby/toddler Ashley from her own plate when she was old enough to eat regular food, and how proud she was of her when she enjoyed it and clapped her little hands for more!

cooking-with-grandmom-age-2I remember my mother letting Ashley help her make the cinnamon buns for the first time, watching her get flour all over the floor as well as herself and her grandmother, and my mother not caring a bit! And she always let her have a bite of the raw dough, no matter how much I said not to.

And as the years went by, one tradition held firm…Ashley always helped her grandmother make the cinnamon buns. And they were always delicious! Because they were made with such love.

After dinner was over, the leftovers put away, and over slices of pumpkin pie, we’d all go through the newspaper ads to plan our shopping for the next day. At first my mom and I would pick out things we wanted to get, but it wasn’t long before Ashley took over the ads, even as a little girl, and picked out all the toys she wanted Santa to bring her. And also telling her grandmother what she could get for her as well!

The next day was spent with the three of us at the mall, three generations, happily planning a Christmas to remember, going through beautifully decorated and crowded stores to find the gifts we wanted, and waving at Santa until Ashley could get up her courage to go talk to him. We’d come home exhausted and let Ben bring our shopping bags inside and warm up the leftovers. Another ritual successfully completed….!

And this year, we began those traditions anew. With myself as grandmother to Baby Rachel who sat happily beside me in her high chair during dinner. And looking at all the newspaper ads after dinner as we enjoyed our pumpkin pie, with my granddaughter sitting in my lap, not quite sure what we were doing, but somehow understanding it meant fun was coming!


Yes, now I have taken the place of my own mother as matriarch of the family. Yes, I still miss my mother dearly, and certainly had moments where I wished she’d been there, but our family once again proudly has three generations of strong women to love and nurture each other. To pass along family traditions, family stories, and yes, even family recipes. And to make our own new traditions as well.

And we will surely enjoy every moment of making those new traditions.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and made a lot of wonderful memories as well!

A Flamingo Thanksgiving

Believe it or not, flamingos do celebrate Thanksgiving. No, not quite the same way we all do, but they certainly do celebrate.

In fact, I caught them in my kitchen just the other night, working away, starting to prepare their favorite dishes for the big day! Somehow they’d managed to turn my kitchen into a pink wonderland, and had even transformed my cookware into their own display of pink perfection! Hopefully they’ll turn it back when they’re done.

And if you’ve never seen flamingos cooking, it’s truly a sight to see! I never realized how amazing their culinary skills actually were! Wearing their finest flamingo aprons, they were preparing a feast!

So what, might you ask, do flamingos eat for their Thanksgiving meal?

Well, they certainly don’t have turkey! After all they aren’t cannibals, and would never dream of eating another bird! Even though turkeys aren’t anywhere close to flamingos, well, our favorite pink birds protect their friends, you know!

In fact, they do what they can to help their friends out this time of year!

They do, however, enjoy their favorite flamingo wines and mixed drinks before their meal. With some wonderful pink flamingo oyster appetizers (yes there really are such things!) served with drawn butter. Yum!!! And a delicious watermelon flamingo salad.

Followed of course, by the main dish…shrimp! In as many forms as possible! With a few extra exotic seafoods thrown in for good measure. And served, of course, on their very best flamingo tableware, in a dining room softly lit by a special flamingo chandelier.

Dessert? Absolutely! The flamingo pastry chefs outdid themselves with flamingo cakes and cookies, served at the end of the meal with a touch of flamingo dessert wine. What more can you ask for?

And since they went to all this trouble to prepare such a magnificent meal, who were we to deny them the fun of hosting their special Thanksgiving Day celebration?! Even if meant our going somewhere else for our Thanksgiving meal? After all, flamingos and humans don’t always like the same menus….

Their Thanksgiving dinner was a huge success. All of their close friends showed up, and several didn’t want to leave! Either they enjoyed their flamingo wine a bit too much, or they just didn’t want the celebration to end!

And at the end of a long and busy day, we know they’ll be more than ready to drop into bed for a good night’s sleep!

And so will we! Hopefully we won’t have to fight them for one of these beautiful bedrooms! Because we’re claiming the first one!

Happy Thanksgiving from all the flamingos!

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Photo Sources: 1st Row: homedit.com; housetohome.com; hubpages.com; 2nd Row: agifttotreasure via etsy; agifttotreasure via etsy; katespade.com; sewlahtida via etsy; lovelytutorials.com – 3rd Row: cartoonaday.com; source unknown- 4th Row: from google search; hostesswiththemostest.com; thehealthbenefits.com; 2.bp.blogspot.com; bjbecca.com; bcnfashionista.com – 5th Row: via pinterest; cookinglight.com; foodnetwork.com; trendhunter.com; blogspot.com 6th Row: hostesswiththemostest.com; via you tube; via pinterest; via etsy; via craftsy; thecakeblog.com; icingsrus.com; sandrascakes.com- 7th Row: sjwonderlandz.com; ninorosadowine.com; packagingoftheworld.com; glasses via joanne via etsy – 8th Row: allexpress.com; target.com; via twitter; H&M.com

I Am Thankful

This post was originally written and posted on Thanksgiving, 2015. I have updated it to add new items that we are thankful for, and to remind ourselves of all that we truly continue to be thankful for.

Psalm 118:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Today is another Thanksgiving Day. A day we eat lots of turkey, and stuffing, and pumpkin pie. We watch football, enjoy being with friends and family, and when it’s all over, we wonder where the day went!

But do we really stop to give thanks, or do we just say the words?

Today I am definitely giving thanks, because I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my loving husband Ben of 32 years, who loves me, supports me, and stands by me in good times and bad. He is my source of strength who cares for me unconditionally; who helps me more than I ever expected, fixing dinner, cleaning the house, doing the grocery shopping, and all manner of other things he doesn’t have to do. He has supported my dreams and goals of publishing my first book, and supported me all of the way. He does it because he loves me. He is a good man, and I love him dearly.

I am also extremely thankful that Ben has survived two very frightening cardiac incidents over the past two years, one in which he coded in front of our daughter Ashley and me. I am thankful for the Lord giving us the right doctors and nurses who pulled him through and implanted a pacemaker which saved his life. I am thankful for his recovery last summer from congestive heart failure. I know God has plans for him, and will use both of these incidents as a testimony of faith, hope, and answered prayers.

I am thankful for our daughter Ashley and her husband Chris. I am so proud of them and so thankful to have had the honor of planning a beautiful wedding for them a few years ago. I am thankful for being able to watch them take their vows and become husband and wife. Such a mixture of emotions we had that day as Ben and I officially became empty nesters; our former baby bird has grown up and flown from our nest into her own, and has a wonderful new life ahead of her.

I am thankful for wonderful and close friends who stand by us, love us, and pray for us. Friends who are always available when we need them, and are willing to drop what they’re doing when we need their help. And I am thankful we are able to do the same for them. The Lord has placed some very special people in our lives, and we wouldn’t trade any of them for anything in this world.

I am thankful for the ability the Lord has given me for writing, and the people He put in my life who encouraged me and guided me as I wrote my book about my mother’s life. I am thankful for a new friend who has made perfect editorial suggestions to make this book the best it can be. And I am thankful that I will finally be publishing this book in the next few weeks.

I am thankful for memories of my family…of my many loved ones who are now gone. I am thankful to have had them in my life, and although I miss them all terribly, I am also thankful for knowing that one day we will all be reunited for eternity.

I am thankful for a job I truly enjoy and good people to work with. I am thankful for a reliable car that’s paid for. I am thankful for our home that we are able to share with others. I am thankful for good health, even through the trials of recovering from a rear end collision a year ago.

And most of all, Ben and I are both especially thankful to be proud grandparents to our first grandchild, Rachel Marie, who turned 6 months old on November 23. She is a precious gift, and we would not trade her for anything in the world! Our daughter and son-in-law are amazing parents. Truly, we have so much to be thankful for!

No matter how hard your year may have been, there are always things to be thankful for. We should all make an effort to remind ourselves every day of all that we have to be thankful for, not just be “thankful” on only one day each year.

So what are you giving thanks for? Feel free to leave your comments, and prayer requests if necessary.

Happy Thanksgiving!

When Holidays Hurt

Over the last month I’ve had three close friends lose their mothers. Two were expected, although it does not make the loss any less painful, but one was most definitely not expected. It was a total shock; unexpected, and without warning. And the lives of those left behind to mourn and grieve were forever and irreversibly changed.

Going on with everyday life after losing a loved one, parent, spouse, or even worse, a child, is one of the most difficult things to do. Reminders are everywhere, and those first days, weeks, months, are a constant reminder of what was, and what will never be again.

At this time of year, during the holiday season, it’s even worse.

That’s when holidays hurt. A lot.

We cannot help but remember back to the previous years, remember how we celebrated with our loved one, and in most cases not having any idea that it would be our last holiday with them.

That empty chair at the table is a painful reminder of what was lost. That missing face in family photos is very evident, a glaring hole in a canvas. Some families, at least that first year, set a place at the table for their loved one and put a picture of them there. Some will edit their holiday photos and insert their loved one’s picture in it somewhere.

For some, it helps. For others, it’s an even more painful reminder. Because their photos, along with our memories, are all that we have left of them. And in the first few weeks and months, those memories are almost as painful as the loss.

Fresh grief is the worst. And at the holiday season, it’s almost insurmountable.

If you haven’t experienced it, there is actually no way to really and truly understand the pain someone is feeling. It’s almost a physical ache, a knife in your stomach that you can’t pull out; a pain in your chest that overwhelms you.

Well-meaning friends try to make you feel better, but again, unless they’ve been through it, they honestly do not know the depth of your pain. All you can do is accept their condolences, and thank them for what they say, because they do mean well, and want to help. Yes, we know he or she is in a much better place, but right now, during this holiday season, we want them with us to share just one more day of memories!

To those of you who are wondering how to help your grieving friends at this time of year, I can offer several suggestions. Be sure to reach out to them, let them know you’re thinking about them. Offer to take them to lunch, or meet for a cup of coffee. If you haven’t been in their shoes, don’t be afraid to preface your conversation with something like, “I don’t know exactly how you’re feeling, and I can only imagine. If you want to talk, I’m here for you.” Remind them as well as show them you care. And make sure they’re not going to be alone, especially on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Because those two days can seem to be two weeks long when you’re grieving.

The first holiday season is the roughest. I know. All too well.

When you’re grieving, holidays can really hurt.

But take heart…it does get easier. Time heals the emptiness and your pain will be eased. You will never forget them, but you will learn to manage your memories.

Be thankful you had them for the time you did. Be thankful you have your memories. Be thankful for the love you shared.

Hold the ones still with you close, and make as many memories as you can. Because you never know when you’ll need them.

The Thanksgiving I’ll Never Forget

I may not remember the year, but I sure remember what happened. Because it’s not often you get a second chance to have more time with your mother.

Thanksgiving was always a time for our family to be together. My aunt, her two sons, their wives and kids. Plus my husband and daughter, of course. I’m not even sure how old Ashley was that year, but it was probably no more than 10 or 11.

She was old enough to understand what was happening, and old enough to be afraid. Not just for her grandmother, but she’d never seen her own mother fall apart and not be in charge of a situation before.

That Thanksgiving started like most of the others had for the past several years. Ben, Ashley and I arrived at her house the night before so we could help with the preparations. We’d set the table in the dining room that night, with my grandmother’s antique china and my mother’s brightly polished silverware. After all, it was going to be a special holiday feast!

The next morning we all got up early, put the turkey in to roast, started the cinnamon bun dough, made pumpkin pies and began putting together the other side dishes to be cooked at the last minute. It was always a special time, Mom and me in the kitchen, while Ben and Ashley watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV.

Just another normal Thanksgiving. Or so we thought.

My aunt arrived later with her contributions to the meal, followed shortly afterwards by her two sons and their families. We had our appetizers, and my mom and my aunt started bringing out the side dishes. Mom was just pulling the turkey out of the oven when she suddenly dropped to the floor.

No warning. No time to say she didn’t feel good. She just passed out and fell to the floor.

And my world suddenly stopped.

I had no idea whether she’d suddenly died, or just fainted. She’d never had an incident like that before, at least not one that I’d known about.

What did I do? I’d love to say I rushed over to her, checked her out, and calmly told my family to call 911.

What I really did was panic and scream and start crying. Mature, right?! But fear took over. You don’t know how you will react in any given situation until you’re in it. You can say you’d do this, or you’d do that, but until you’re actually facing that moment, you truly have no idea.

Fortunately my younger cousin’s wife Joanne is a nurse, and she immediately took over while my other cousin called the rescue squad. All I could do was cry and pray that my mother was all right.

And, oh, I sure prayed! Ashley was crying and sobbing. My poor husband was torn between trying to comfort both of us and helping my cousin’s wife with my mother.

I cannot remember ever being so scared. I do remember thinking, though, and praying, “Lord, please don’t take my mother yet! Please, I can’t handle this…!” And I tried to put the memory out of my mind of a Thanksgiving many years previously when my mother’s mother had died early that morning, right in that same house.

Most of the tragic events in our family have happened on holidays or birthdays.

After what seemed like forever, which I’m sure was just a minute or less, my mom came around, found herself laying by the stove on the kitchen floor with a pillow under her head, and a blanket over her, and everyone standing around or leaning over her, with worried expressions on our faces.

Joanne was certainly visibly relieved, but her nurse’s training was still in full swing, as she calmly talked to my mom and asked her how she was feeling, taking her pulse, visibly checking her out and assessing her memory.

At that time we had no idea if she’d had a heart attack, a stroke, or what. All we knew was, she was still alive, and seemed to be ok, if just momentarily confused. Who wouldn’t have been after passing out?

But my mother quickly seemed to return to her normal self, getting upset because everyone was fussing over her and not getting dinner on the table. “I’m fine! Just let me get up and finish getting the food on the table! And no, I don’t want any water!”

She’d never have listened to me, but she did listen to Joanne, who’d certainly had similar stubborn patients in her nursing career. So she didn’t try to get up right away.

But then the rescue squad got there; we hadn’t told her we’d called them, and to say she wasn’t happy about it was an understatement!

Since she still lived in the same small town where I grew up, where everyone knew everyone else, I wasn’t surprised that I knew a few of the EMT’s. Of course, Mom knew them all, including one of her neighbors who lived a few houses away, and whose children she’d taught in kindergarten! And she immediately told them she was fine, and we shouldn’t have bothered them!

They checked her over, and asked her the normal questions, like her name, what day it was, and heaven forbid, her age! Which she promptly told them was none of their business! So I did feel a bit better, but still, something was wrong. And convincing Mom to let them take her to the hospital was, to say the least, a very difficult task. But after everyone promising they’d clean up the kitchen and put the food away, she (very) reluctantly agreed.

Riding in the ambulance with her that night was an experience I’ll not forget either. I couldn’t be in the back with her, so I rode in the front, turning around constantly and checking to be sure she was ok. Yes, I trusted the crew, but my MOTHER was back there, and I was still scared. Even listening to her telling them how she’d ruined our Thanksgiving (which she didn’t!), and then asking if they’d eaten, still didn’t convince me she was all right.

I’d never ridden in an ambulance before. And that normally 30 minute drive from her house, that probably took only 15 minutes that night, seemed like forever. Because I figured if she’d actually agreed to this, Mom was either scared or felt a lot worse than she was telling us!

As fast as the ambulance was going, a car suddenly came up from out of nowhere and passed it! Little did I know until we got to the hospital that my older cousin was driving Ben there in his sports car, and as Ben told me later, “All I could do was hang on and pray we’d get there in one piece! When he passed the ambulance to get there first, I just closed my eyes!” Well, they got there in one piece, and ahead of the ambulance, and Ben was standing outside waiting for me.

Fortunately my mother was all right. They kept her overnight, and never really found out what had happened. Perhaps she’d gotten overheated while cooking in a hot kitchen, or maybe she’d been dehydrated. Her heart was fine, thank goodness, at least as far as they could tell.

She got her Thanksgiving turkey sandwich about 10:00 that night from the hospital kitchen, after telling all of us (our whole family of course ended up there with her – where else would we have been!?) to leave and go eat our Thanksgiving dinner! And of course she apologized again for ruining our day!

We brought her back home the next day and the four of us celebrated a day late with her delicious Thanksgiving leftovers, which tasted even better than they would have the day before, because we truly had something to be quite thankful for.

As I’ve written many times, tomorrow is not promised. We do not know from day to day what our lives will bring. We do not know who could be taken from us, in the blink of an eye, suddenly and without warning, and how quickly our entire world could be changed forever.

As Thanksgiving approaches, take the time to truly count your blessings; to appreciate your family members, even the ones who may drive you crazy, because one day you’ll miss that craziness, those irritating habits that drove you nuts, and long for just one more day….

Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy the many blessings around you!

What to Do About Thanksgiving?

Some families have the same traditions year after year. There’s an established routine that just doesn’t change. Everyone gets together at a particular person’s home to celebrate together. It’s been that way forever; no need to change it, right?

Everyone brings their favorite dish to share. You may not like Aunt Bessie’s collard greens, or Aunt Cora’s onion cheese casserole, but they’ve always made it, and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them, whether you eat those dishes or not!

When I was growing up we always had certain dishes on the Thanksgiving table that made the meal complete. Especially my mom’s special cinnamon buns, my aunt’s oyster dressing, and my grandmother’s pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving wasn’t complete without them. And yes, if you click on the links, you can find the recipes! I don’t mind sharing!

But Thanksgiving isn’t all about the food traditions. It’s certainly a big part, but it’s also about family and friends getting together and enjoying a special time of fellowship.

But as the years go by, families are sometimes separated; by miles, by careers, or even worse, by family conflicts that have occurred and festered over the years…conflicts that just can’t be suddenly fixed by getting together around a dining table for one day and pretending everything’s okay. But that’s a story in itself, and one to be told another time.

Thanksgiving is hyped in the media, in the newspaper and radio and TV ads, as a magical time of family reunions with everyone sitting down together in their best clothes and being a part of a picture perfect display.

Is your Thanksgiving like that? Is anyone’s really like that?

Certainly no one I know.

Ever since my mother died ten years ago, Thanksgiving has never felt right. We lost the stability of a place to call our Thanksgiving home. We went a different place each year, joining friends’ celebrations, but it just didn’t feel right. We were there, but we weren’t family, and we couldn’t share in the reminiscing about other holiday memories, because we hadn’t been there with them. As nice as it was to have our friends include us, it just wasn’t “home”.

Even the last few Thanksgivings spent with our daughter’s husband’s family still didn’t feel right. Because it wasn’t OUR family. And as much as they wanted us to feel comfortable and fit in, we always felt like that piece of a jigsaw puzzle that looks like it should fit in a certain spot, but no matter how you try to force it. It just doesn’t quite work.

What to do this year?

We have choices.

Some of our friends are going to a restaurant with their extended family and their kids. We tried that one year. And we won’t do it again. It didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. The food was good, but not the home cooking we were used to. There were a lot of dishes to choose from, but you can’t take a bag of leftovers home from a restaurant. Plus it was a bit expensive, because after all, it was a holiday.

We talked about just going away somewhere. Renting a cottage on the beach or somewhere in the mountains. Or finding a bed and breakfast for a couple of nights. After all, we haven’t had any kind of vacation in several years. But then we probably wouldn’t have the kids with us, and I’d miss the Black Friday shopping that Ashley and I traditionally do every year.

But this year will be different anyway, because we are now blessed with our first grandchild, and even though Rachel Isn’t old enough to eat regular food, we want to start our own traditions this
year. Traditions that can be carried on year after year, with just a few new additions as she gets older, and is hopefully joined in a few years by a brother or sister.

So this year we will have Thanksgiving dinner at our daughter and son-in-law’s house. Chris will deep-fry the turkey, and Ashley and I will do the rest. She’ll make her grandmother’s special cinnamon buns, that she’s so good at doing. I’ll make oyster dressing for Chris, since he and I are the only ones who like it, and we have to continue a few of my family traditions! We’ll eat at their dining room table with Rachel in her high chair watching us. And I’ll wish my mother were still here to meet her great-granddaughter.

We will have created our own tradition that in years to come Rachel will remember and one day duplicate in her own way when she’s grown and married. It won’t be the same as we’ve done in the past, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes traditions must change with the times, and with growing families. And it will be perfect.

So what are you doing about Thanksgiving this year?

God, Where Were You?

When my mother died before I could get there?

When my friend’s child was killed in an auto accident?

When I miscarried my baby?

When my husband/wife was dying from cancer?

When my child was born with a life altering, debilitating illness?

When my friend was abducted and brutally murdered?

When my husband left me for another woman, leaving me totally broke and homeless?

When my sister had surgery and became a paraplegic as a result?

When my best friend’s grandchild died from SIDS?

These are all good questions. Some I’ve asked. Some were asked by my friends.

The answers? Those are not up to me to even begin to try and answer. Because I’m not God. Only He knows the answers.

But in our most troubled times, times of great turmoil, unimaginable sorrow and pain, all we can do is cry out to the Lord for answers.

And sometimes there are none. There’s only a deafening silence. Which makes us think He isn’t listening to us. That He doesn’t care. And we suddenly feel we have absolutely no one whatsoever to turn to. And we descend into the deepest void we’ve ever been in.

Because we KNOW we’ll never recover. There’s truly no way to recover.

The good news is…we do recover. Slowly. Sometimes extremely slow. Sometimes it’s so slow we don’t realize we’re recovering.

But, we still ask, “God, where were you? And why didn’t you intervene and stop this??”

And still we have no answers.

We won’t have them until the day we meet Him face to face.

But we do know, although there are times we find it very difficult to keep believing and remembering, that God loves us. All of us. But God is not a master puppeteer who controls us all from above. He doesn’t pull our strings and make us do His bidding. He doesn’t force us to do things. He allows us to make our own choices, and our own mistakes.

Sometimes the choices we make impact other people in ways that affect them horribly. And sometimes things just happen. And we never know why.

But remember that deep void you found yourself in after that tragedy? You weren’t alone. The Lord was with you, comforting you, loving you, holding you, collecting your tears. He knew your pain, and yes, He could have stopped it. But at what cost to so many others? This is the hardest question of them all. Is He supposed to pick and choose from all our prayers and pick the ones He wants to answer because He loves us more than our neighbors?

I think not.

God does not give us trouble. That’s not who He is.

Our troubles come from life. From the actions of others around us. The Lord even told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Notice how He didn’t say, “I will save you from all your troubles so you won’t have any, and your entire life will be easy.”

But He did say, “Come to me, all you who are tired and weary, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) That’s faith, and hope, and love. A promise to be held in heavenly arms that give us comfort when we need it the most. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you, and you will be comforted.” (Isaiah 66:13) And He does. If we only let Him.

Where was God when all those bad things happened? Right there. Beside you. Carrying you. And holding you. Helping you through the pain and sorrow.

And one day, you will be equipped to help someone else survive a similar and sometimes tragic event in their life. Because you’ll know how God pulled you through with the help of others around you.

And it will be your turn to do the same.

This is Amazing Grace…

This post was written by a very dear friend of mine, Linda Salzman, in memory of her beloved granddaughter, who passed into the arms of Jesus on November 16, 2011. It is long, but it is from her heart, and I encourage every one of you to read it.

 

“In celebration of the life of Jazlyn Grace Smith.

We only had her for 3 short months, but she forever changed us. You will both laugh and cry as you read these words, and it will be a bit lengthy. But it has to be to tell her story and ours. Our prayer is that through your tears and your smiles, you will be blessed and encouraged with how God walks us through those things we think we can never endure.

2016-11-15-22-16-42Jazlyn Grace Smith…. Butterfly Girl… Jazzy Jazz… Our Princess with the crooked smile… Here we are marking the 5th anniversary of the day that will be forever etched in our hearts…. The day we had to say “See You Later” to our beautiful little baby girl.

The morning came with no warning. No chance to say good bye.

Life suddenly changed. For your mom, who thought she was going into your room to wake you up to start the day, and ended up doing CPR instead. For your dad, who received the phone call that literally made him feel like his heart stopped; this could not possibly be true! For your brother Josh who was awake and getting ready for school, and who still struggles with the helplessness and pain he was feeling,

…and for her little brother Jayden who was too young to understand everything that was happening.

For all your aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents…for all the loving friends on both sides…life changed. Not only did it change, but it seemed to stop.

Phones were ringing, and news that sent us into shock and disbelief were spoken.

How could this be true? God would never allow such a thing to happen.

It had to be a mistake and everything would be alright.

But it was not a mistake. And nothing was alright.

As I write this post, the song “God is a Good, Good Father” is playing and the tears are streaming from my eyes. I remember how God walked us through those dark days when I struggled with wondering if He really was “a good, good Father.”

Being a Pastor somehow made it harder. Because I was being asked questions I had no answers for. Those questions were coming from our family, and that unexplainable place of grief. Not only did I have no answers, but my heart felt cold towards God.

That day my mind shut off, and I couldn’t seem to get a straight thought on how to pack to leave for Florida to be with my daughter and her family.

When I spoke to my daughter Stephanie on her way to the hospital in the ambulance and heard the shock and pain in her voice, and heard the wail of the sirens over her tears, it broke my heart in two… I couldn’t fix this. Her sister Jennifer called me, and I could not understand her words through her sobs.

My husband and I were in total shock and disbelief.

I vaguely remember being on my knees and screaming and pounding the floor.

My son Shaun and his wife Kaitlin were trying to comfort me, while in shock themselves.

Jazlyn’s grandmother Penny had called, and her voice sounded hollow with grief. Jazlyn’s grandfather Dave and her Aunts Kelly and Krysta and their husbands were all in the same place we were. Our other grandchildren as well were in total shock and disbelief. How do you digest the news that this beautiful 3 month old sweet baby girl; the one we had all the plans of making such memories with; of watching grow up; was gone?

We couldn’t.

SIDS comes suddenly and without warning.

The days following that phone call are still a blur at times.

The trip to Florida and all the phone calls in between took forever. My husband and I flew down there on the first plane we could catch, and my son Shaun and his wife drove. Stephanie called to say that police cars were lining her street when the family got home from the hospital. They had to separate them and ask their questions.

And I was told the detectives were so kind to them. Protocol had to be observed to make certain the cause of death.

That was the longest trip of my life. It seemed to take days.

I was so thankful for her family that could be there with her and Michael from the beginning.

Walking in the door was both a relief and heartbreaking.

Finally, we were there.

But as Stephanie ran towards me, and I grabbed her, and we sobbed together, and her husband Michael came and put his arms around us, I saw the grief and the pain in their eyes…I felt so helpless and so broken.

All I could seem to pray was, “God help us get through this.” But my prayers felt empty to me.

At one point, I felt compelled to go into Jazzy’s room and sit on her floor. I walked in and shut her door behind me and just sat there. I smelled her sweet baby smell in that room. I looked at her bassinet and saw her stuffed animals and toys. I picked up her pink blanket that Stephanie let me keep, and I buried my face in it and I sobbed.

Those kind of tears go beyond any I had ever cried before.

linda-and-jazzyI wanted to be strong for my daughter and her husband, but at that moment, sitting on Jazzy’s floor, with my face buried in her blanket, that is when it became real to me. The shock was wearing off. It was as if I had been given a sedative that was now wearing off, and in the place of shock and disbelief, came the deepest grief I have ever felt.

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t pray. All I could do was sob from the deepest part of my being.

Part of my mind was trying to say “get up and go back out with everyone before you’re missed,” but I could not move. I’m not sure how long I sat there. I do remember walking into the kitchen and trying to hide, and all of a sudden, Stephanie and Michael were in there with me, holding me and we all cried together.

I truly thought my heart would break into a thousand pieces.

The days following were almost more challenging.

When we had left to join the family for Florida, I thought I would be the speaker at her service. They did not have a church home in Florida yet, even though they had been looking for a while.

God’s grace came in the form of the amazing people and leaders from Freedom Destiny Church. My daughter’s ultrasound tech was a member there, and when she heard the news, she rallied her church family. And they began to come around us all with such love! Food was brought every day for the next two weeks or more. They called, and they visited. These strangers to our family became family, and they still are today.

The next few weeks were filled with calling the medical examiner’s office many times as they would not release her body until the autopsy was completed.

Finally, one day I called them and for lack of better words, I had a breakdown session on the phone.

We were unable to plan her service, or even see her, until they released her. And I told their office they were keeping us in a type of excruciating limbo.

The next day she was released by the medical examiner, and we were finally able to go to the funeral home.

That was so very hard, and as we walked through the front door, an assistant greeted us and we asked to see Jazlyn. He was very kind and pointed to our left, and there she was in a tiny casket. Stephanie ran to the casket and buried her face into Jazlyn’s and sobbed over and over…”My baby…my baby…!” She looked like so beautiful, and it seemed she was just sleeping.
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Michael was wonderful and tried to comfort Stephanie, but there was no way he could. He was so grieving himself, and I could see the look of helplessness on his face.

Jayden didn’t understand. He kept calling her name, and wanting to kiss her.

We all stood there around her casket. It was like experiencing those first hours all over again.

The only thing was, there was no shock now. We knew it was real.

As we left to go home, we all felt like we were somehow leaving her there. Alone.

Stephanie and Michael made the decision to have family pictures taken with her. Some people may not understand that, and it was hard to do, but now that we have those photos, we would not trade doing them for anything. Those are precious pictures, and they always will be.

Those next days were filled with how to possibly plan her service.

Freedom Destiny Church so surrounded our entire family and helped us navigate through the difficult planning and details that had to be made.

Stephanie had wanted to get something very nice and special to wear to her daughter’s funeral, which meant she had to go to the mall and pick something out.

As we walked towards the doors of the mall entrance she said to me, “I’m going to pass out. I can’t do this.” And I had to be firm with her and force her to keep going.

I knew on the day of Jazlyn’s service, it would be so important for her to look beautiful, and so we pushed ahead. Her sister wanted me to take Stephanie home, but I knew in my heart how important this was.

The first store we stopped in had exactly what she needed, and I know that was God.

As we were all in the dressing room helping her, she broke down and cried and the sounds that came out of her could be heard by everyone in the dressing room area. But we got through it, and finally left the mall.

The day of Jazlyn’s service came, and her parents dressed up and looked so wonderful; it may sound strange, but that somehow brought them a sense of comfort.

Her cousin Bri and her Uncle Robert and Aunt Jen had put together a beautiful video tribute to her.  It was so very sweet and made us cry, but it also made us smile.

Memories were spoken and shared. Her Grandmother Penny wrote a special poem, and I shared some things that were on my heart.

The funeral home director said he had never seen such a sweet service for a baby that was so well done in all his years there. Freedom Destiny Church did a beautiful reception afterwards for her, and they were there at her service to speak and to love on all of us. What a tremendous blessing and comfort that was.

As the service concluded and we walked outside into the sunshine, the sight of the pall bearers carrying that tiny white casket to the graveside was so surreal. It felt like watching a movie that wasn’t really happening.

A few nights later we all went to the cemetery. It was Thanksgiving night, and after we ate dinner, or shall we say went through the motions of eating, we all knew we had to go to the cemetery. Our family knows that only her body was put in that grave, and she is with Jesus, but we were compelled to go. It brought us a sense of somehow being close to her. As the family gathered around her grave, I decided to take the smaller children over on the sidewalk to try and keep them a little occupied. And all of a sudden I looked up and saw the family gathered around the tiny grave with the lights from our cars shining on that gravesite. And as the car lights lit up the area where they were standing and shined on the spot she was buried, it was such a feeling of “this just can’t be true!” that flooded my heart.

It didn’t seem possible, and I asked God, “How did we ever get here?”

When I walked back over to them, Michael asked Jayden, who was still just a toddler, “Where is Sissy?”

image4Jayden looked straight up into the night sky that was filled with beautiful stars and pointed his finger towards Heaven. The look on his face was a look you have when you see someone you know, and I believe God let him see her.

That Sunday we went to church for the very first time since Jazlyn died, and I didn’t want to be there. I was struggling so much with my faith.

I felt cold inside, and I told God I didn’t want to be there. My emotions scared me. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and he said, “Linda, when praise becomes a sacrifice.” All of a sudden, I felt as though my body was turned to face to my left, and as that happened, I looked and saw my daughter Stephanie and my son in law Michael, holding hands, and their other hands were lifted straight up to God, and with tears streaming down their faces, they were praising Him.

I tapped Stephanie on the shoulder, and when she looked at me, it was a look filled with such pain and agony. And yet I saw a peace on her face. I told her I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

The following days found us all on autopilot and stumbling to find our way.

And yet, we prayed and we held onto God as best as we could.

When we had to leave to return home, it was so very hard. Saying good bye to Stephanie and Michael and the kids, and her sister Jennifer and her family, was emotionally almost impossible. Shaun and Kaitlin had had to leave before us to return to work, and that was so difficult for them as well.

Our family was drained in every way possible. We were broken. I would like to say that we were so filled with faith, but that would not be the truth. It shook us to our very core.

gravesiteIt was at our lowest point, after Jazzy’s funeral, and when things quiet down and the world keeps going on, and you have to go through the motions of life once again, that some amazing things began to happen.

We had just launched Lions Heart Ministries three days before Jazzy died, Stephanie and Jennifer came that day to surprise me. Little did we know how soon life would change.

That first Lions Heart meeting we had after returning home was bittersweet.

As I shared our story, which was becoming a testimony without my knowing it, many were being encouraged and blessed by hearing how God had kept us, and how He was healing our hearts in the midst of such pain. They were relating it in their own lives, and some that had lost children of their own were getting healed by hearing our story. They were relating in different ways to feelings of helplessness in the face of agonizing trials, and they were being released from the guilt of having felt like their faith was but a shred, and of being angry at God and not understanding “why?” We had so many people share with us about extreme things they had walked through, and how they, too, had struggled with their faith. They shared with us that they felt safe with us. And God was beginning the healing process in us.

About a month after we returned home, God gave me a vision of her. She was older, and she had flowing long blonde hair like her mother’s. She was running through a field of flowers, and her face was radiant.

A few days later, I told Stephanie about the vision, and she had been given the exact same one! [And I had it, too.] Then I read a post Shaun had written on Facebook about her, and it described the vision.

My granddaughter Kaitlin went to her Mother and said, “Mommy, if you look into the light, you can see Jazlyn. She is playing with her dolls.”

My grandson Jayden would just start laughing for no reason as though he were seeing someone.

My daughter Jennifer was having butterflies visit on a daily basis.

Stephanie and Michael told a story about a nurse in the ER that had taken Stephanie by the hand and led her over to the bed as they were working on Jazlyn; and put their two hands together.

Michael said he remembered walking over to the bed, but there was no nurse there. We know it was an Angel.

Butterflies would land on us and not move. That may not sound like such a big deal to some, but we knew it was God comforting us.

And more and more people were sharing how our story was such an encouragement to them to keep on going, no matter what they were going through.

Was it easy? No. The days were filled with memories, and tears still flowed for no reason at all, and very often.

Stephanie and Michael struggled so much with thoughts of… “What could I have done different that night…?” The truth is – nothing. There is nothing anyone could have done different.

Losing our precious Jazlyn caused us to begin to press into God.

You see, we know that one day we will spend eternity with our Butterfly Girl.

And we began more and more to share her story and the message of salvation.

steph-and-mikeStephanie and Michael were blessed in the next few years with two more children. Jayce, who is such a sweet boy of almost four years old. And Journee Grace who has her big sister’s middle name. She is 19 months old and quite a little character.

Jazlyn has two more cousins added to the family now, Adelyn and Noah. Precious little ones and all her cousins are growing up so fast!

It is our hearts’ desire to start a SIDS foundation and help other families who will walk this way, not only as a result of SIDS, but in any area.

Yes, life has gone on. It must. But we were forever changed by our beautiful blue eyed Princess. We can laugh now with memories of her, but we still cry as well.

We wonder what she would have been like. There will always be an ache in our hearts and a missing piece.

But we will testify to the goodness of God! Because we would not have traded one moment of those 3 months we had with her for anything in the world!

She is playing at the feet of Jesus and waiting for us to one day join her.

Our family would like to thank all our friends who have walked with us on this journey! To thank you for your prayers and your love! To thank you for knowing you did not have to say a word, but just love us. Thank you Jaelyn Steverson for the Angel you are, and the love you have shown keeping her graveside watched over and full of flowers!

Thank you to all our extended family and to Freedom Destiny Church!

You were all love in action!

And thank you to Jesus! Our Heavenly Father.

In the times we could never understand, You carried us in Your arms. You knew where we were and what we were going through. You showed us so many signs along the road of Your never- ending love! Thank you Jesus that we are guaranteed to spend eternity together!

And I want to say “Thank You” to our family. We are not perfect, not even close, but I love all of you with all my heart.

Stephanie and Michael, I know Jazlyn is proud that you are her parents. God picked you both just for her. He gave you a special treasure, and you watched over her well!

Josh, you are the oldest, and memories are hard, but you were a great big brother!

There is so much more to her story, but that will be written later.

As this closes, I go back to the title. This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love…

2016-11-15-08-01-06We pray our story has encouraged you to keep walking through whatever storms that may come your way. Knowing that is not the end of your story, just like it isn’t the end of hers. For truly, we are here but for a short time; we are just passing through.

Heaven is our home but we are here to make a difference. Thank you Jazlyn Grace Smith for making a difference in all our lives.

Always and forever. To the moon and back…”

 

 

Blessings and prayers to this entire family! I love you all so much!
Deborah

If I’d Only Known.

If we could only know for sure that final visits are really final visits, what would we do differently? What more would we say? How would we feel?

“I should’ve said this…..”

“I should’ve asked her more about my dad, about their life together before I was born, and how their lives changed after I was born, and how she really felt about finally being a mom.”

“I should’ve taken her a basket of flowers, or a tray of her favorite cookies.”

“I should’ve said I was sorry for what I said years ago that caused us not to speak for so long.”

“I should’ve been a better daughter/son…”

“I should’ve said ‘I love you’ one more time….”

For me, with my mother, I should’ve asked her how she was really feeling about what she could be facing. I wanted to know – but I really don’t think I could have handled it at the time. I thought it was a conversation that could have waited. I wanted it to be a conversation that could’ve waited. So we never had it.

Unfortunately we don’t usually know the exact day and time of that last, coherent visit. The last time we’ll be able to have a conversation with them. Only God truly knows, although we can certainly get a feeling in our spirit, that we know that we know. That we KNOW. In retrospect, it’s a good thing. Could we actually bear it at the time, knowing it was the last time we’d have a conversation with our loved ones? Sometimes we know. And sometimes we don’t.

Recently a good friend of ours lost her mother. Without any warning. She had their regular conversation with her mom on Tuesday night. On Thursday afternoon she received a call that her mother had been found dead. Fortunately their last words to each other with that last call had been “I love you.”

I was fortunate enough to have talked to my mother on the phone a few hours before she left us. I’d had a good conversation with her, and was quite hopeful that she was finally doing much better, and she was so looking forward to our visiting her the next day. My last words to her were “I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.” And two hours later she was gone.

Many people are fortunate enough to be with their loved ones when they leave and graduate to heaven. But so many more of us are not. The Lord has His reasons. Or perhaps our loved ones wanted it that way. Who are we to question, even though we do? Questioning doesn’t make us any less faithful. It doesn’t make us hurt any less. It just reminds us that we’re human.

And in our human-ness we can’t help but think of all those conversations we wish we’d had. We play them over in our minds and try to imagine what our loved ones would have said to us. We can almost hear their voices in our minds, answering our questions.

We just can’t make out their words anymore.

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Flamingo

Such a romantic love story…from the time they met, they were just tickled pink over each other!

And when they came to us for help with planning their wedding, well, how could we resist! After all, we just love flamingos, and this couple, well they were just the perfect pair…birds of a feather, shall we say! Pink feathers, that is!

Meet Dolly and George. Two of the most romantic flamingos we’ve ever worked with. Well, actually they’re the only flamingos we’ve every worked with, but several of their friends who attended their wedding appeared to be, well, quite taken with each other, so we may have some feathery referrals here! After all, I have been known to coordinate some rather special weddings!missingmiami com

Actually this adorable couple met at a lovely park in Florida, where they were both visiting some of their relatives. Flamingos have really big families, so it’s amazing that Dolly and George were able to find each other as they did. But then again, when it’s meant to be, and it’s true love, it’s easy to stay in the pink of things!

Dolly and George dated for only a short time before they realized this was the real thing! One of their favorite dates was riding the flamingo boats at the Florida theme parks, so naturally he proposed to Dolly on one of those rides. How perfect!examiner com

And the ring, well…what else can we say….don’t you just love it??!! Only the best for Dolly!preebrulee com

So the wedding plans began full speed ahead! Lots to consider, and of course, they wanted everything perfect! So much to plan…good thing we were available to help them!

After setting the wedding date, they decided they wanted a beach wedding, since they LOVED the water! How totally appropriate! And it made the decorating plans quite easy! Like using this beautiful pink floral arch…islandsandsbeachweddings com

Of course Dolly wanted the perfect bouquet, so what better than pink flowers and pink feathers….with a little touch of bling here and there, of course! She really liked all of these, so it was a bit of a tough choice to pick the right one!

Wedding invitations were another matter…there were a lot of different ideas out there, and they had to sort through quite a few before they narrowed it down to these! Any guesses as to which one they picked? And of course they used the personalized flamingo stamp!

The wedding cake…that presented another set of delicious decisions! You do know that the reason flamingos are pink is because of the shrimp they eat, but the cake just wouldn’t taste right in a shrimp flavor. Right? So they narrowed their choices down to these styles. Just had to find the right flavor. In sort of a salmon-shrimp pink….

Of course, the wedding reception menu was fairly easy. Shrimp canapés, shrimp rolls, steamed crabs stuffed with shrimp, and of course, a few very special flamingo drinks…

And George was in charge of planning the getaway transportation. He had a bit of trouble deciding between these two…

And of course every bride needs a bridal shower. For some of her closest feathered girl friends! And Dolly was no exception. Her best friend Molly put together a wonderful event, and the gifts, well, let’s just say they were perfectly selected for the event! Here are some of the pictures from this fabulous event!

Finally…..the big day arrived. The wedding guests were so excited….! And there were a LOT of them! (And not just flamingos!) Dolly and George have a lot of friends and family! They were all so excited they just kept flapping their wings everywhere! And when the bridal party started down the aisle, well, some of the guests almost flew into the air they were so excited!

And their photographer captured all the special moments of the wedding! Here are just a few of them. Didn’t she do a wonderful job??

What a day! What fun….and Dolly and George went off on their honeymoon to a perfect little flamingo vacation cottage that was decorated just for them….freakingnews com2

It’s amazing what can be done with a little creative thinking! So…if you know any flamingos who are planning a wedding, send them our way!

Disclaimer: All content posted here is assumed to be in the public domain. If you find one of your images here and wish it to be removed please contact me.

Photo Sources: 1st Row: missingmiami.com – 2nd Row: jonfreeman.biz; reaganpluscats.com – 3rd Row: examiner.com- 4th Row: preebrulee.com – 5th Row: islandsandsbeachweddings.com- 6th Row: via ebay; afloral.com; source unknown – 7th Row: papela.com; via pinterest;  seaoflovestudios; zazzle.com; zazzle.com – 8th Row: picasawed.google; goodtoknowmedia ipcdigital.co.uk; heartfeltandmade blogspot; cakecentral.com; via Sara Burnetts Boards – 9th Row: cheerco.com.au; duckshow.com; blog,mrsmililien.com – 10th Row: bing.com; carouselworks.com – 11th Row: soiree event design.com; weddingchicks.com; spokanebrideblog; blackberryvine blogspot; southernliving.com; cindyeckhart.com; via etsy; pizzazzerie –12th Row: msn foxsports; acbs-pnw.org; personal files; via flickr – 13th Row: ericabrechtel.com; source unknown; grazier photoblog; jen osojnicki photography; jen osojnicki photography; jen osojnicki photography; jen osojnicki photography; rentyourflowers.com; via etsy; via tumblr – 14th Row: freakingnews.com

When You Finally Get It Right

Today marks our 32nd wedding anniversary. Sort of hard to believe, in all honesty. Because it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Because when you finally get it right, that’s what happens. And sometimes it takes a while to get it right.

Unfortunately I got it wrong the first time. All of my friends were getting engaged and getting married during the same time I had my first marriage. I guess it was the thing to do at the time. Many of them are still happily married to that same person. They were fortunate enough to get it right the first time.

Thinking back on it, I do wonder if I was in love with the guy I married in the early 70’s, or if I was in love with the idea of BEING in love. Or if I was just caught up in the excitement of wedding gowns with long trains, lacy bridal veils, (sometimes) tacky bridesmaid dresses, cascading bridal bouquets, and sugary wedding cakes with the plastic bride and groom on top! (How wedding styles have changed!)

But that marriage was only a wedding. I should’ve listened to my doubts and the “what ifs” that played through my mind the last few weeks before that wedding. But I didn’t; I thought it was just pre-wedding jitters. That one only lasted two and a half years. We just grew apart; we weren’t really in love; and it wasn’t in the Plan.

The Lord knew who He had in mind for me all along; He had his Plan. I just didn’t know it. Because I was impatient, and I didn’t want to wait.

I tried too hard to make it happen. I want to be married so much, that I made another, even worse, mistake.

I really REALLY got it wrong the second time. I settled for someone who was totally wrong, violent, and abusive, which had been well-hidden. Yes, I had misgivings before that wedding as well, but once again I didn’t listen to what I was feeling. Yes, I knew he wasn’t perfect, but neither was I, and I figured I could change him. We could make it work.

That 11 month marriage was DEFINITELY only a wedding, if you can even call it that. A nightmare was more like it. And I was fortunate to get out of that situation, both physically and emotionally.

All along, the Lord knew who He for me. And I still didn’t know it.

All I knew was, at that time I was glad to be free. The last thing I wanted was another man in my life. Finally, I started to discover who I was, and what I wanted out of my life. I actually enjoyed being with myself, instead of thinking I needed to be with a man; that I needed to be married.

And that’s what the Lord had been waiting for me to realize. I can imagine Him saying, “You finally figured it out. Now you’re ready for the one I chose for you!”

Needless to say, when I wasn’t expecting it, or looking for it, or even wanting it to happen, the Right One walked into my life. Actually, he was a store manager at the mall where I was Marketing Director, and he walked into the mall office and asked me to lunch. And thinking that he wanted to discuss mall business, I went.

The rest, as they say, is history.

And this time, instead of a fancy wedding, we were married at my mother’s house, with just a few friends and family in attendance. Instead of a wedding gown I wore a white suit and carried a few red roses. My mother’s friends provided a light lunch for us, and as we cut into our small wedding cake topped with a pair of white doves, I knew I’d finally gotten it right.
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Waiting for the one the Lord has for you may not always be easy, but it’s worth it. Because His Plan is always so much better than ours.

Happy Anniversary, Ben. I love you, and I’m glad we both finally got it right!