Have Faith

Have faith in God

Friday was March 20. This date marks 9 months since Nikolai left this physical world. Every month when the 20th rolls around I brace myself for an emotionally draining day. You would think I could better prepare myself for it. I know it’s coming. The 20th happens every single month. For me it marks another month gone without our Beans. It’s the countdown to that dreaded year marker.

This month though everything was different. The past week has been the most mentally exhausting for me since the week of Nikolai’s funeral. I found myself bouncing between desperately trying to find moments of joy amid all the worry, anger, sadness and tears. Oh the tears this week.

My job is communications for a hospital. While I am able to work from home and not be on the frontline, it was a whole different level of Hell. I was scared for my family – would we have enough food, would our power stay on, would my oldest son and his pregnant girlfriend still have jobs, my parents who are two hours away (but thankfully near my sister), my friends, my co-workers who literally are on the front line every single minute trying to save others while trying to calm their own worries about their families.

Imagine all of this and then on top of that having to be the calm and comfort for not only your immediate work family but for the thousands of people in our communities who need information and comfort from the hospital.

When I was at my most vulnerable is when I had to step up the biggest for others. A friend told me that God put me in this exact place because He trusts that I could and would say just the right thing. Joe told me to simply write from my heart. Write what I need to hear. So, I did. I took a deep breathe and wrote exactly what I needed to hear. I can only hope that it was enough for others.

Before the 20th came, I was destroyed. Every night last week I spent falling asleep in Joe’s arms crying – no, sobbing.

This weekend, I have finally been able to decompress. Joe made sure that our house was filled with food as well as my oldest son’s refrigerator. We cleaned, did laundry, did a puzzle, read, took a 5-mile hike in the woods with our youngest and one of our dog’s. I have been able to really take a good hard look at this past week. Now that I am in a better place mentally, I can honestly say, the things I put into place in my life last week literally saved me from a total breakdown.

I kept to a pretty strict schedule every single day. I didn’t dare fall into any “traps” that didn’t seem part of my “normal”. So, every single day I got dressed first thing. And after I closed my laptop at the end of the day, I did what I always normally do – I worked out, made dinner, watched a little TV or read and went to bed at 9:30, my normal bedtime. These are all things within my control. I needed to keep things consistent to help me through my day.

It’s the little extra things I added into my day, that when it comes right down to it, really saved me. All of these were God things, or at least that’s what I like to call it. My friend Greg started a 7am prayer service every day. It was less than 15 minutes long and I never missed it. Not a single day. That afternoon walk I took with Daisy at lunchtime, was my time to cry and pray out loud about anything and everything. My sister sent me a playlist of comforting Christian music and I put it on loop in my headphones while I worked. God saved me this week. When I fell into the darkest of places, is when He lifted me up.

By the time I got to Friday, the 20th of the month, I actually was in the best place I’ve ever been on the 20th of any month. I woke up that morning and felt as if something very heavy was being lifted off of my chest. I could breathe a little bit better. And I don’t have to ask why, I know why – God was lifting some of that burden I was carrying. He had my back.

I don’t know if any of you have watched the Amazon Prime show “Hunters”. If you haven’t, it is a really good series (only one season out right now). Last night we binge watched the last four episodes. The second to last episode included a scene between two parents and their son who had died as a young child 30 years earlier. It was the absolute most beautiful creation of heaven. In this scene the son assures his parents that he is happy and doing well. This was absolutely what I needed to see. After a heartbreaking week and a 20th, this was the reassurance I needed for all things. I faithfully believe this scene we watched was God sending us a message.

Have faith, rise up, go hard and believe with all your being – God will not abandon us. God will save us. Do not be fearful. Let go and let God. He is talking to you. He is talking to me. Every single day He is speaking to us in so many different ways. Be still and listen.

I know this past week was one of the most trying for all of us. We each had our own struggles with moments of joy and heartache all mixed in. We have no idea what this next week will bring. We have no idea how long this quarantine will last. However, I do know one thing – my God, your God, He loves us and will help us through it. You just have to let Him in.

I wish all of you a blessed, joy-filled week. Spend it doing all the things that light your heart on fire and let God carry your fears.

2019 – My Year of JOY

My word was joy

I am not one to do resolutions at the new year, instead I choose a word. A word to help me focus on something important. One year it was determination, another listen. Joy was my word for 2019. I wanted to live as joyfully as possible, choosing joy and seeing joy in all the things. And then June 20 happened and I thought I lost my joy forever. 

While my sadness has been overwhelming, almost consuming at times, there are so many things in life to be joyful about that this word actually helped me get through the toughest year of my life. Talking to a friend over coffee the other day, it occurred to me that 2019 taught me many things: 

  1. My children have always been my greatest source of joy. I lost one to the physical world, but he is always a part of my heart. For my two living children, I will continue to always be their biggest cheerleader and love them more fiercely than the day before. My love for them is intense and immense and I am more proud of them this year than at any other time in their lives. They have lived through something no one their age should. They have lost a brother, a friend, a confidante, yet have come out the other side with resilience. 
  2. My relationship with my husband is the strongest it’s ever been. God started this path for us over a year in advance – bringing us together in a much deeper way than we had ever been. I believe with every ounce of my being God did this to help us weather the storm of Kola’s death. While the statistics of marriages dissolving after the death of a child is astounding, Joe and I love and support each other on a whole different level of peace, understanding and kindness. I could literally not do the day to day without him. 
  3. My faith and belief in God and the way He works in our lives is at a level I cannot describe. I have never felt so close to God before in my life. Ever. I really do see Him clearing my path – setting it out for me to follow. And, the people He has put in my life at just the right moments – unbelievable. 
  4. This little book club I started in July is one of the single best things I have ever done. This group of women have become some of my very best friends. I have realized over these past few months that we actually all needed each other, for very different reasons. I love watching us laugh, cry, grow, empower, motivate and inspire each other. This group is what living fantastic is all about. 
  5. There are friends I thought would support me through my sadness with their every breath, and many of them walked away from me because my sad was too much for them. It doesn’t make them bad people, it just means they didn’t have the capability to be there in a way I needed them. 
  6. There are people in my life that I never in a million years would have thought would be able to offer support to me in any meaningful way. Yet, today, these people have become friends that push me to get up every single day and do the impossible things. 
  7. I have friends who have become a part of me. People I talk to or text every day. Friends that love me unconditionally. Friends that pray for me and love me through all things good, bad and ugly. These people bring me such joy.
  8. Kola’s death has made me realize who I am. I am strong. I am courageous. I am brave. I am kind. I am pain. I am sorrow. I am joy. I have a purpose now that I didn’t have before. I have direction. And while this is still sometimes fuzzy and full of obstacles, I know that all of these things will become clear at the time that I need them to. 
  9. Mental health and suicide deserve more attention, and alongside friends I have made through this journey, we will make this happen. We will do the important things that we can and help as many people struggling as we can. 
  10. Kindness rules. 

Every day since Nikolai died, God has continued to show me that there are so many things that bring joy into our lives. Life really is joyful. This year, I urge you to take time to appreciate the present moment and learn to live where life actually takes place. At this exact moment.