Happy 50th

Posted: November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Ten years ago, I pulled off a surprise 40th birthday party for Patrick. It was a great night of celebrating his life with lots of friends. I think his favorite part was that I still put him in charge of the grilling; I can vividly picture him standing by the grill, talking and laughing as he worked his magic on the meat. Later that week, his mom and sister made a surprise visit and took us out to a unique all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant. It seems like we celebrated for over a week.

Behind the scenes, I threw together a small scrapbook of “Patrick’s Top 40 rules for life.” Inside the front cover, I wrote these words:

“Happy Birthday, Honey! Since 40 is a memorable birthday, but certainly not the end of the road, I wanted to celebrate you by sharing 40 of your life habits that we know and love about you.”

Some of the items in the scrapbook represented his funny quirks:

  • patrick40#8 Running out of milk is a sin
  • #16 Spend more time blowing than mowing
  • #22 Eat French fries with a fork
  • #26 Make your own guacamole
  • #28 The golf channel is the only one you need
  • #31 Always find the shade
  • #34 Don’t trip on my feet, just rub my feet

Others illustrated his practical side:

  • #7 Call your mom once a week
  • #13 Shake hands with a firm grip
  • #14 Never pay full price
  • #17 On time means 5 minutes early
  • #33 Laugh often

Several others demonstrated his character:

  • #12 Trust in God and follow His word
  • #20 Don’t stay angry for more than five minutes
  • #29 Be an involved father
  • #30 Lead by example
  • #32 Stay Faithful to your bride
  • #35 Accountability counts
  • #38 Be loyal to your friends

I’m sure that however you knew Patrick, you can smile and agree as you read one of the above points. You could probably add your own from your memories of him.

Did any of us imagine that Patrick wouldn’t live to see 50? Nope. But God knew. Maybe He had me make a big deal out of his 40th because we wouldn’t have a 50th party. I don’t know.

Patrick looked forward to a long life, yet he always had a feeling he would die young. There were a few occasions when he mentioned that thought to me. Of course I would argue and say “you have no way of knowing” or “don’t say that!” Now I joke that I should have said “then go buy more life insurance.” You’ll have to excuse me if that sounds sick, but I have to find bits of humor where I can in the midst of the tragedy of losing my husband so young.

When Patrick was diagnosed with ALS right after his 46th birthday, he knew he was going to die and it was going to be quick. He thought less than two years; it was barely over one. He did not pray for healing; he prayed for grace to die well. As his muscles deteriorated and he suffered greatly, he would sometimes ask me if I thought he was complaining. I honestly can’t remember a time when he complained or was negative about the course God had set his life on. He would communicate his needs as they arose because he couldn’t help himself, but there were no signs of bitterness or anger.

He wanted us to keep living; he never once asked the kids to not go somewhere or do something to stay with him. In fact, if there was any way to bring him along, we did. Looking back now, I realize how much internal strength it must have taken to not care about his appearance and helplessness, but instead he let the desire to be with his family and partake in a part of our lives override any insecurities of people staring. What a man he was! The only time he sobbed was a few months before his death when he couldn’t keep going out and he knew his kids were going to have to through life without him. He didn’t weep for himself, but for us.

Barely eight weeks after his 47th birthday, God took Patrick home. If he were still on earth, today would be his 50th birthday. Somehow we would have made it a big deal…with family, friends, laughter and food. He probably would have endured the jokes about being old with his standard response of “bite me.”

Instead, I am left alone with just the memories of the love of my life. No doubt it will be a hard day. I will do what I can to keep busy, but the pain is always there. The tears are ever ready to burst out when I give them the chance. The last couple of months, the loneliness has been intense. Like a heavy, damp blanket that I can’t get out from underneath. Sometimes I just want to be free of the grief, yet it’s still a journey through which I am walking.

I know Patrick wouldn’t want me to mope around on his birthday, or on any other day in fact. So I will choose to focus on the good times, shed my tears and keep going. I know that each birthday is a gift from God. Aging is a privilege; there are no guarantees. I am thankful for my health, my family, my job, and for the ability to run. I am so grateful for my church and the freedom to worship God and the many provisions He continues to demonstrate to me daily. While this may sound like a trite list that anyone could spout off, I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart. Without God’s grace and His word, I could not face each day.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Parent to Parent

Posted: August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


Dearest Patrick,

Our son just turned 20 and tomorrow he leaves for a semester in Jerusalem. You would be so proud….No longer a teenager, practically a man, Parker is like you in so many ways. Driven, determined and decisive. Funny, a lover of people and always looking for a good time, he’s got the best of you all wrapped up in his tall, lanky body. He forgives quickly, doesn’t hold grudges, and is eternally optimistic. He is passionate about the Bible and remains sensitive to the Spirit.

Of course, none of this would surprise you. When he was in 3rd grade and went away to summer camp for the first time, you told me “this kid loves adventure and he will take every opportunity given him.” Then you warned me with this, “Eventually when he leaves home, he’ll only come back to visit.”

How right you were. As a couple, we agreed to give both our kids every opportunity to have various experiences and expose them to life at its fullest. We wanted them to see the world from a kingdom viewpoint, that this earth is just a taste of what is to come; and that living under God’s guidelines is the best, most fulfilling way to experience it.

You were able to watch Parker begin the transition to manhood in his senior year as he stepped up to help care for you in your sickness. You knew he had made his college decision for Cedarville University. You were so excited for him and let him know he would do well.

Just like he did in high school, he dove head first into the deep end at college and got involved in many areas. Remember when we would wonder how he would manage it all? But somehow he always did and he continues to do so. His summer experiences have been the most amazing opportunities just like you would have hoped and he always has the next one planned before the first one is finished, with a plan B in case plan A doesn’t work.

You would be so happy that he’s also become very adept at allowing me to be the single parent and has learned how I work, so that we can figure out life together. Starting with the big picture of “I want to study overseas for a semester,” to gathering all the details, answering my questions and letting me have time to think it all over. He’s learned to respect my thoughts and discernment, without being impatient with the process. It has taken growth on both our parts, but we’ve come to a good place as mother and son, for which I know you would be pleased. He’s gone for long periods of times, but when he’s home, he jumps right back in and helps with the lawn, windows or whatever I need. While he’s away, he faithfully calls every weekend, giving me the details of his week without ever making me feel he’s in a hurry to get off the phone.

Someone recently gave me one of the best compliments I could ever receive: They told me I’m the opposite of a clingy, helicopter mom; that I’ve let my kids continue on their own journeys inspite of how easy it would be to try to hang on to them or make them feel guilty that they should stay nearby because I’m alone.

How could I ever do that? That would fly in the face of the way you and I raised them for 17 and 19 years before God took you home. As painful as it has been, I have continued to parent them with the same philosophy and biblical truths that we had instilled in them for all those years. When discussions have come up, it’s been easy to continue the practice of looking for commands and principles in Scripture and then going from there. That hasn’t changed. We talk about the issue openly and analyze it. We all know how you would respond. I can’t remember a time when I doubted what you would say or think.

So about Parker going to study in Jerusalem, you would have simply asked about the finances and then responded with, “why wouldn’t he go? It’s the opportunity of a lifetime!”

And then there’s our girl….Paige is starting her senior year at Cornerstone University. She doesn’t even need me to move her back in. She loads the Taurus and drives over to Grand Rapids and calmly does it all on her own. She is definitely independent, which you well know. But she’s also exceeded our expectations and has blossomed into a beautiful woman who is very involved in many aspects of college, has had internships and run fundraisers. As you always said, her people skills will get her through life. Sometimes she still surprises me with her newest venture, but I always know when she puts her mind to something, she will carry it through. We never had to worry about her being a follower, because we knew Paige never does anything unless she really wants to. One of my highlights of this year was flying to Denver to see where Paige spent the summer. Seeing her in her own territory was awesome. Her confidence, friendliness and maturity are all at a whole new level. I’m so thankful for God’s work in her life. We had a great time as mother and daughter exploring and hanging out. I know when her graduation comes next spring, you will be giving everyone in Heaven high fives!

You would be proud of both of them. Maybe you are proud. I don’t know how much or how often God lets you see aspects of our earthly lives. For us, much has happened in the 32 months without you, but through our pain, we’ve somehow managed to arrive at a new normal. It’s not a normal we ever wanted, but one we’ve accepted. We watch out for each other and understand that the grief comes in waves and although it sometimes knocks us down unexpectedly, we somehow manage to get back up and keep going.

Daily, I wish you were here to share life with. This phase of parenting is different. It’s a lot of letting go and encouraging from the sidelines. Not too much is hands-on anymore. I can only imagine the discussions we would be having as we were so looking forward to this phase of life together. Without you, I’ve learned to take it to the Lord. He truly comforts me. He alone carries my tears and knows my pain. He understands my deepest heart’s desire is for our kids to follow Him. He cares about that even more than me, which as a mother is hard to imagine. But what comfort there is in the fact that God loves Paige and Parker more than I do. He can and will do the work in their lives with or without me. In fact, He never really needed us. Parenting is a privilege and a responsibility. Any positive results are not because of us. On the contrary, it’s despite us.

Our job is not to make them dependent on us; it’s not to fulfill our happiness or fill a void in our lives. No, our goal is to give them wings and watch them fly. Like you always said, we want them to run hard after Christ. I’ve had many conversations with my friends also experiencing the empty nest. With compassion, they share that they can’t imagine experiencing it alone.

Being a single parent was not in my plan. Yet the foundation had been laid with you by my side, so all I’ve had to do was to make the choice to just keep going. By God’s grace, I have and I will continue to do my best. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not impervious to fears, doubts and anxious thoughts. But when they threaten to overtake, I preach the truth to myself and remember that I’ve never had any control over their safety or destiny. They are safest in God’s hands and I best not get in His way.

Packing my kids for a week at camp was hard;

the first time they drove to high school on their own was even harder;

and the hardest so far has been when they moved away to college.

Now they are both almost completely on their own. With tears in my eyes then and now, I have always lived with the full understanding that we raise our kids to let them go. If I truly believe they are in God’s hands, how can I be anything but excited for them? Following God’s plan is going to be far greater than anything I could ever imagine.

So from your heavenly viewpoint and from my earthly one, let’s continue to watch them soar.

All my love.

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”





It’s been 2 and a half years since I had my husband by my side. With Patrick, I had a life partner who shared the responsibilities, burdens, and daily grind of life. Likewise, we also shared smiles, laughter and joy. As each year of our marriage progressed, our history become more combined as a couple which made our single lives before marriage less and less significant. Essentially, as our oneness grew, we couldn’t really remember life without the other. I was 23 when we married. Yes I had a life and a personality before Patrick, along with some very good memories, but the majority of my life has been with him by my side. I am who I am in large part due to our years spent together. Although to some it may seem it’s been a long time since Patrick died, it’s really quite short compared to the length of time we were married.

Without Patrick, life has lost a lot of its color; I so miss his laughter, perspective, leadership and even having disagreements. What I wouldn’t do to have him here to try to convince I’m right about something. Funny, now looking back, it never bothered him if we didn’t see eye to eye on a topic, but it drove me crazy! I was the one trying to persuade him to agree with me 100%. He would laugh and say it’s fine we don’t agree on this, but I never gave up trying. Even in that, I see that once again, he was right. I think when I see him in Heaven, one of the first things I’m going to tell him is that he was right about everything!

Recently in another low time in my grief, I found myself turning to one of my favorite passages in Lamentations 3. As I was reading and praying through the chapter, my eyes kept going back to verse 24. “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.”

I like to pray verses out loud, so the process went something like this:

Reading the verse backwards, I said: “I will hope in the Lord because He is my portion.”

I wondered: “What exactly does “portion” mean? If I’m putting my hope in it, I really should know.”

So I googled the word and found several Old Testament references where it’s used. I looked them up, wrote them out and read some online commentaries. What I discovered was fascinating.

Originally, the word was used when the Lord was telling Aaron how the tribe of Levites was going to be treated differently than the rest of the Israeli tribes. While the other 11 tribes were given specific pieces of property wherein to raise their families and support themselves, the Levites were not given any land. They were in full time service to the Lord, which meant they worked in the tabernacle. They were not given an inheritance with land, but instead were to trust the Lord to provide for them regularly. God would use other means to have their needs met.

Essentially, God was telling Aaron that the Levites’ inheritance was Himself and He would be their portion and they would have Him (God) provide their needs in every way.

Several times throughout the book of Psalms, the word portion is also used. The various authors in Psalms often cry out in anguish to God about their problems, but then they come back and state something true about God’s character. It’s like our mind telling ourselves to see the positive in an otherwise negative situation. Except this isn’t just the power of positive thinking. It’s so much more when it’s based on God and His Word.

For example, in Psalm 16:5, the author states, “the Lord is my chosen portion and my cup.” Again, in reference to an inheritance, he knows that he is choosing his inheritance to be God and not what the world offers. It is enough to have the Lord’s favor and comfort, regardless of the difficulties this life brings. This earth is neither my final home nor where I was created to be forever.

Probably one of the most famous uses of this word is found in Psalm 73:26, which reads, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” In the early parts of this chapter, the author is bemoaning about how much better everyone else has it than he does. He feels like following God has not benefited him at all. However, he changes his tune in verse 16 when he begins to remember that here on earth the whole story won’t be told. The end of those who don’t follow God is not the same as those who do. Verse 26 may be the climax of the text when the author basically sighs and admits that regardless of how weak his flesh is, God is his strength and portion.

As I contemplated this, I realize it’s the same for me today as it was in the OT days. God gives me just what I need when I need it. It’s not about tangible blessings or a carefree life. It’s about looking to Him to fill the void that is innate to all of us. He is the only inheritance that we need.

In the past few months, I’ve made some bigger decisions that have solidified my singlehood. I am no longer part of a couple and I can’t function like I am. Life is different. I am moving forward, even though it’s far from easy. Even in the joys, there is a constant ache. I will always be wishing Patrick were here to share life with, especially when it comes to our children and watching them continue to grow into adulthood. It’s strange how I miss my husband every day, but special occasions heighten the awareness. The entire week of our wedding anniversary, I was acutely aware of my loneliness. Longing for what I had lost and wondering how I will ever survive on my own.

Once again, I found myself starving for more of the Lord. Once again, I was on my knees sobbing and pouring out my heart to Him. Once again, the Word was the only thing that would satisfy.

And once again, He came through…with just the right portion…of Himself!

I can’t put my hope in my circumstances changing. Being impatient with the grief process doesn’t help at all. There’s no way to go back to my previous life and I shouldn’t worry about my future. All I need to focus on is right now, this moment, and how God is taking care of me. I have everything I need in Him and I trust Him implicitly with my life.

Psalm 119:57 “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.”

By the way, next month at this time I will be on my mission trip to Hungary. I am so thankful that all my funds came in! I am now working hard at preparing lesson plans for adult advanced ESL learners. If you think about it, please pray for me July 22 – August 4th. Pray I will adjust well to the time difference and be open to whatever opportunities God has for me.


Growing Old

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

May brought my birthday and celebrating it without Patrick just isn’t the same. Back in the good ole days, I would have said we didn’t make a big deal out of my birthday, but honestly I knew Patrick would have something planned and we would celebrate in one way or another. He was great about having one card from the kids and another from himself. Even though Mother’s Day is about a week before my birthday, he would have separate cards and celebrations for each occasion. Whether it was just going out to dinner or opening a small gift, he did something to make me feel special. I loved that on whatever card he bought, he underlined certain words, added exclamation points and then wrote personal comments at the bottom. It wasn’t about money being spent; it was the thoughtfulness and love put into remembering and knowing I was treasured.

Now before my birthday arrives, I tend to jump to the “let’s skip it because who really cares?” It’s not that I don’t want to be another year older. I will never complain about getting old; I know what the alternative is. But my birthday is just another reminder that my life is different. Another milestone without Patrick; I have outlived my husband and it still feels wrong.

Birthdays make me reflective and I can’t help but think over the past 4 years. On my 45th birthday, I was enjoying life and cruising along aware of my many blessings. But only a year later when I was turning 46, my life had drastically changed and I was caring for my husband with a terminal illness. By my 47th birthday, I had been a widow for five months and life was a complete fog. I couldn’t even remember last year turning 48, so I went back and read my journal and this excerpt jumped out at me:

“Now I’m a whole year older than he ever was. It’s weird. It sucks. I hate it. I miss him so much. I sobbed myself to sleep last night. Didn’t even want to close my eyes. Just wanted to stay awake and be sad all night….

But a few paragraphs down, I ended that day’s journal with….” Went to bed at peace. Missing Patrick terribly, but at peace.”

 Now, age 49 is here:

  • Physically, I feel great. Running has whipped me into the best shape of my life since college. This year’s calendar is already scheduled with half-marathon numbers 4 and 5.
  • Mentally, most days my head is clear and I function well.
  • Emotionally, it’s still up and down, although the downs don’t last as long anymore. I attest that to just having accepted the pain. It’s my reality that I live with a constant dull ache because part of me is missing.
  • Spiritually, I try to cling to my Savior and His Word day by day. Admittedly, I tend to look for other things to satisfy and I need to preach the truth to myself that nothing and no one will fill the longings of my heart, outside of Christ. Reminds me of the old song Come Thou Fount: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for thy courts above.”

God in his sovereignty knew that I was going to need some extra pick-me-up during my birthday month, so He chose to have me born in May when the kids get out of college and life gets a little crazy with their summer schedules. That has truly been my saving grace and I am very thankful. It would be much harder to have a birthday in the middle of winter when I don’t see the kids at all. Parker has been home for the whole month working full-time, as well as helping me with numerous projects around the house. We took a weekend trip to Rochester, NY and visited some friends and a great church. Paige was home before and after her Zambia mission trip. We’ve all had fun together at a few weddings. Both of them leave again the first week of June, but they have such great opportunities ahead of them this summer, I am super excited for them. Paige will be working in Colorado at Noah’s Ark White Water Rafting and Parker will be traveling around the Midwest with the music group HeartSong for his college.

Overall, I have enjoyed this month and I’m really ok with having another birthday. People do care and I am far from alone. Cleaning out a closet this week I came across some cards from the past couple of years. Anything with Patrick’s writing on it makes my heart stop and I treasure each word. So with tears and smiles, I enjoyed this card probably more now than I did when it was first given. It’s true we wanted to grow old together and it would have been a blast. But God had different plans and by His continual grace and strength, I will live to be as old as He has already decided. And I will strive to live life fully for His glory.

IMG_4788Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”

Missions Minded

Posted: April 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


God placed a burden for ministry on my heart at a young age. Growing up, I was constantly exposed to missionaries and service opportunities through my home church in Iowa. Our senior pastor had previously been a missionary and many messages included illustrations from his time in the Philippines; there were annual missions conferences and the highlight of every summer was the missions trip with the youth group. In addition, my parents were always offering lodging or loaning cars to pastors and missionaries in need. In our home, those in full-time ministry were respected and honored.

I have vivid memories of being enthralled by Dorothy Adam’s slides shows of Bangladesh. As the carousel turned and the clicking sound announced each new slide’s arrival, I would watch enraptured at the vibrant still images of the faces of those she ministered to; and I would listen as her calm, clear voice spoke, sharing details of a world I could only imagine.

Then came the Bennett family. They were a family in our church raising funds to head to the mission field for the first time and we were their sending church. I was closely connected because one of their daughters was my age. When they left for Australia during my 6th grade year, Becky and I hugged, cried and promised we would save our pennies so that I could go visit her. Five years later, we still didn’t have enough pennies saved, but my parents somehow made it happen. Off I went to spend the summer in Australia. I lived life with them and saw first hand ministry in another country. I was 17 and I was hooked.

After that summer, sometime near the end of high school, I had a conversation with my youth pastor. It went something like this,

Me: “I think God wants me to go into ministry but I don’t know what I could possibly do. I don’t think I can be a pastor’s wife because I talk too much.” (I was also thinking I can’t sew or sing solos either, because I thought all pastor’s wives did those things.)

 Him: “There is no set of certain personality types for God to use you in ministry. If the Spirit is leading you in this direction, just take one step at a time to follow Him. He will help you grow and use you just the way He made you.”

 Me: “So what should I do?”

 Him: “Maybe you should consider a Christian college, so you can gain more Bible knowledge and be exposed to more ministry opportunities.”

Best. Advice. Ever. So glad I followed it. As I entered college, my heart’s desire was to serve Jesus Christ in ministry. I committed my life to Him and told the Lord I was willing to go overseas or stay local, and do so whether I was single or married. I just knew nothing else would satisfy.

Two years later after a couple dates with Patrick, we were sitting in Pizza Hut having a DTR (defining the relationship) conversation. I got out my list (yes an actual list) and checked off the non-negotiables and the preferences. Obviously he passed the test. After my graduation, we were married and I became a seminary wife, working and helping him finish his master’s degree.

For the next 23 years, God blessed us with the opportunity to be in full time ministry. There was so much learning and growing together with the Lord through the good times and the bad. Being a pastor’s wife was truly the fulfillment of my dream.

One of the best parts of working with students for all those years was the opportunity to go on annual missions trips. Most summers there were two trips. If I have figured right, I helped Patrick lead about 20 trips. People joked that Patrick ran a “well-oiled machine” in regards to the summer ministries and they were right. He had it down to a science. I was his co-pilot and we divided up the responsibilities.

There is no greater joy than to watch students experience missions for the first time. It’s like a light bulb goes off in their head that this world is bigger than they imagined. Immediately, their spiritual hearts are enlarged and their compassion is magnified due to such exposure. Like me, many of them are hooked after one trip. They cannot continue to be satisfied just thinking of their own little worlds. Dozens of students returned year after year for the trips and many have gone on to do missions trips as adults and even go into full-time service.

In his final summer on earth, Patrick wanted to go to Jamaica one more time. We wanted to introduce the new youth pastor and wife to our Jamaican friends and pass the baton into their capable hands. We didn’t know until the last minute if he would be able to make it, but with lots of help from everyone involved on both ends, make it we did. Anyone on that trip will never forget the emotions as Patrick said a literal good-bye to his numerous friends there. We all knew they wouldn’t again see each other on this earth. It still seems surreal to me.

Since Patrick died, one of the many losses I’ve experienced has included the loss of these kinds of ministry trips. It was such a major part of my life, the first summer without it seemed very strange. However I have never doubted that I would have other ways to serve. I have never thought I was less of a Christian because I no longer had the title of “pastor’s wife.” Whether in a paid position or not, we are all responsible to be salt and light and to minister in whatever way we can.

I had no doubt I would go on another missions trip someday. I just didn’t realize it would come so fast.

But God is like that, surprising us when we least expect it. Through a connection in my small group, last fall I was introduced to a missionary in Hungary who runs ESL (English as a Second Language) clinics every summer. At the time, I thought this kind of trip would be perfect for me so I mentioned my interest, thinking it would be a few years down the road before I could really consider it. I logically couldn’t see how it could work until A, B and C were covered.

But one email led to another and one by one each question was answered and each hurdle jumped until God made it clear I was go to. So I am thrilled to say that the plane ticket is purchased and I’m heading to Gyula, Hungary in late July! To say I’m excited is an understatement. I am overflowing with thankfulness for God’s guidance, grace and goodness in my life. I am also thanking Him in advance for His provision, as the trip is not yet paid for.

Four women from various parts of the US will make up the team and we will meet in Budapest where we will join with three Hungarian missionaries. The ESL program, called Bridges, has been running for over 10 years and is sponsored by ABWE. We will have a day or two to get supplies and lessons ready (and hopefully adjust to the jet lag). Then we will drive a couple hours east to Gyula where the clinic will be held and where we will stay with Hungarian families. The morning will hold classes for children and in the evenings we will host adult classes. We will also participate in church services. At the end, I will have one day to sight-see in Budapest before heading home. Although this is my first trip to a non-English speaking country, I am the only “newbie” on the trip, so I am thankful to be working with a team that has experience.

In every detail God has confirmed this is the right time and the right trip, so go I must. Join me in thanking the Lord for bringing little joys back into my life!

Psalm 51:2 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

(If you are interested in ways you can help pray for me or support me financially on this trip, please email me at mcgold4@yahoo.com)


No question about it. I am changed. Loss does that to a person. So does any tragedy or suffering, regardless of the kind.

As followers of Christ, we know our goal is to continually grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ. At salvation, we were set apart, but not yet made perfect. So the “in between time” is the process of sanctification….where God brings events, circumstances and people into our lives with the purpose of conforming us more and more into the likeness of His son.

I have been a Christian a long time. Seriously, it’s been over 40 years since as a child I accepted Jesus Christ into my life. Looking back I can see areas that I use to struggle in that are no longer issues for me. On the other hand, I can also see some sins that have been lifelong struggles. Yes, growth and improvement are evident, but still the battle remains.

The process of maturing is lifelong. Change hurts and growth is painful. And let’s just face it…no one likes pain. It’s not fun. Our first reaction is to get rid of it at any cost. It’s human nature to avoid situations where we will get hurt; to surround ourselves with people who make us feel good and to insulate ourselves from danger.

However, it’s during the difficult trials of life that the opportunity for growth is the greatest. Some day I hope to be able to look back at my journey of grief and clearly articulate all the ways God changed me through it.

At this point, I don’t have it all figured out. I can attest to the fact that change is definitely happening in my life and there are positive outcomes, both spiritually and emotionally. Yet, I also see many areas lacking. Grief, like any trial, brings to the surface the heart issues that were already there. I can’t use my grief as an excuse to sin. No, in my vulnerable state, the ugliness of my heart is exposed for what it is.

Change does not always equal growth; It’s not automatic. As circumstances and life events are forced upon us, we can refuse to acknowledge, adjust or submit. If I blame a sin on my grief, then I’m saying it’s not my fault and I can’t help it. Both are excuses straight from Satan, the greatest deceiver that ever lived. But if I can see it for what it is and confess it, then Christ’s forgiveness is freely given. I must cultivate the soil of my heart to be tender and sensitive. Otherwise, a bitter root will grow and I will shrivel up. Essentially, it’s my choice. Though not natural, with God’s grace, transformation can occur.

Patrick and I had the kind of relationship where we talked about the issues of our hearts openly and quite often. We used phrases like “hidden agendas” and “short sin accounts” to help understand where the other one was coming from and get all motives out in the open. When we sinned against one another, we confessed and forgave, even though it wasn’t always easy. Spiritually, we kept each other on our toes, so to speak. I can’t say it was always done perfectly, but we were attempting to be as “iron sharpening iron.” He had a way to keep me grounded and gently remind me not to do or say something that I would regret later. We continually challenged each other to be Christ like and to faithfully apply God’s Word in every area of our lives.

I really miss that.

But even though Patrick was my partner, he wasn’t my Savior. The marriage relationship is a picture of Christ and His bride. That’s why it’s such a unique and blessed union. Even though my earthly marriage is now over, I am still the daughter of the King of Kings. My identity has always been based first and foremost on who I am in Christ. And nothing, not even death, can take that away.

Losing my husband has been the most traumatic experience of my life. It’s painful beyond words, but I don’t want this pain to be wasted. I don’t want to be changed without any growth. I don’t want to survive just to be able to say I made it.

I want so much more than that.

I want to be more compassionate and gentle; to laugh more and worry less; to love more fervently; to generously give my time and possessions; to ignore what’s temporary and focus on what will last for eternity; to enjoy each day as the gift it is; to bear the fruit of the spirit and daily share biblical truth with others. I want to honor the Lord in my words, thoughts and deeds.

But most of all, I want the world to know that I serve Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord of my life. He saved me from my greatest problem (sin) through His death and resurrection. While He prepares for me a place in Heaven, He has given me the Holy Spirit and the Bible to guide and direct me here on earth. He has provided all I have ever needed and will take care of me until my death when I will enter eternity with Him.

Because of my loss, my world has been shaken. My life was turned upside down. I have had nothing but changes for the past three years. I’ve experienced excruciating pain and emotions I didn’t know existed. I am living with intense loneliness and a hole in my heart that will never again be filled in the same way.

But in spite of all that, I have become more and more convinced that there is only one reason to live and only one sure foundation: Jesus Christ. He is worthy of my praise, my trust, my service and my life.

Luke 9:23 “Take up your cross daily and follow Him.”

 I Corinthians 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

 Psalm 86:12  “I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.”


Posted: February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized
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There are two kinds of people on this planet: those who live by a clock and those who are late.

An over simplification perhaps, but generally speaking, people fall into one of two categories: the “on time is early” crew and the “chronically tardy” crew.

It’s probably no surprise in which category I land. I was born with an internal clock that is almost audible. I despise being late. On time means five minutes early, and if you arrive just on time, you’re actually late. In fact, few things can cause me more anxiety than thinking I’m going to be late. So to compensate, I over communicate the fact to whomever I’m meeting. Thirty minutes prior, I’m texting them telling them I may be five minutes late….and then I still end up beating them to the destination!

Thankfully, Patrick and I were on the same side of the clock world, so it made for a happy marriage.

Digging down deeper into the clock awareness world, in order to be on time, you are always thinking about the next thing. It’s like living with a constant level of anticipation.

Whether the next thing is something fun like a vacation or not so fun like a work deadline, I am always thinking about what’s next and how I must prepare for it. In order to avoid last minute pressure, I have my list of what to do, organizing my weekly schedule so I can squeeze in each thing…to be ready…for whatever the next thing is.

For most of my life, there have been exciting events to look forward to, most of which were related to sharing life with my husband and watching my family grow. It’s just human nature that regardless of our stage in life, we all look forward to the next thing, whether it’s the weekend, a special trip or a child’s next milestone.

Now that my kids are away at college (where I want them to be) and my husband is with the Lord (where I am thankful he is well) I find myself in uncharted territory. I am walking a twisted path, humanly alone. 26 months into it, the intense darkness has lifted somewhat, leaving a fog where I can see a just a few steps in front of me. I have no fear for the future, but I have no hopes or dreams either.

Perhaps this is the way most people live their lives. I’m not sure. Maybe my life with Patrick was just extra special. That’s why his loss is so hard because I miss the companionship and joy to of sharing life with my partner.

As I continue to be silent, still and wait for the Lord, I wonder, can I live like this…with nothing exciting to look forward to? I know there will be special life moments down the road, especially if/when my kids get married and have children. But those events are seemingly in the distance.

Right now it just feels like I’m the energizer bunny…I keep going and going and going; All the while carrying a weight of sadness in everything I do.

Then I speak truth into my thoughts. I can live like this, I will and I must. All with God’s grace, comfort, and strength. This broken path is the one He has designed for me. He is with me and He will carry me until I have completed all He has called me to do. He’s not asking anything of me that He hasn’t already done.

Focusing only on the here and now is shortsighted and selfish. I can choose where to put my focus. I must be proactive in changing my thoughts back to Scripture when they naturally stray.

So instead focusing on any joy or satisfaction this world can bring, my concentration needs to be on God’s Kingdom and eternity. There is a wealth of Scripture that I need to repeat to myself often:

  • Psalm 73:25 & 26 Earth has nothing I desire besides the Lord. My heart will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • Psalm 84:11 God is a sun and shield; No good thing will he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
  • Isaiah 26:3 God will keep me in perfect peace if I trust and keep my eyes on Him.
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 God is everlasting. If I hope in Him, my strength will be renewed and I will not grow weary.
  • Jeremiah 29:11 God’s plans for me are for my good and His glory.
  • Lamentations 3:22-24 The Lord’s mercies are new every day. He is faithful and He is my portion to help me with whatever I need to accomplish that day.
  • II Corinthians 4:17 Our earthly troubles pale in comparison with what awaits us in Heaven.
  • Philippians 1:6 God began a good work in me and will be faithful to complete it. He’s not done with me yet.
  • Philippians 4:8 Think only on things that are true and in line with Scripture.
  • Hebrews 10:35 & 36 I need to endure with confidence and that will bring great reward. His coming is sooner than I think.
  • Hebrews 11:1 Faith is firmly believing what I can’t see. I know that this world is not all there is.
  • Hebrews 12:1 I need to fix my eyes on Jesus, who already walked this path. He started, finished and endured the cross for my sake.
  • I Peter 1:7 Trials test the genuineness of our faith and it will result in the praise, glory and honor to Jesus Christ.
  • I Peter 4:19 Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to our faithful creator and continue to do good.
  • 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given me all that I need to live a godly life on this earth.
  • Revelation 21:4 God will wipe away all our tears in Heaven.

Even if this earth never brings me anything as great as my life with Patrick was, there is something far greater in my eternal future; Something that will make all the tears, suffering and loneliness worth it. And that something is based on Someone…Jesus Christ.

Talk about anticipation!

(I’ve always been a Jeremy Camp fan and his newest album did not disappoint. This is one of my favorites.)