Friday, November 28, 2008

In search of Santa

On our daughter's 16th birthday, my Sweet Hubby and I started her on a "Santa collection." We only shopped for those "one of a kind, crafted by American artists" pieces and each year since then, she's received a new Santa on her birthday. To say she eagerly awaits her new addition is an understatement! Her 31st birthday is this Tuesday...and with everything that has happened the latter half of this year, no Santa shopping took place.

The Virginia Beach Christmas Market opened this morning at the Pavilion. This craft show runs all weekend long and is a longstanding tradition here. I say "craft show" but over the last few years, there's less and less "crafts" and more food/specialty items. Either way - a good time.

And something my Sweet Hubby and I did together every year. We looked forward to it...wandering around, checking things out. Picking up a little something here and there if it caught our fancy...sometimes coming away empty-handed. It didn't matter - we loved it! So many memories!

I knew I had to go because it was my opportunity to find a Santa for our daughter. No way could I disappoint her this year. So..another "first" for me today. I went with my friend Kimberly. She did a wonderful job of keeping me occupied and it wasn't as hard as it certainly could have been.

And look what I found:

I think she'll like him...what do you think? And I had the artist sign and date his "bottom" (sorry Santa!). Mission accomplished. And I think my Sweet Hubby is smiling...
"Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?'" John 11:40
Thank you, Father, for continuing to meet my every need.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

"For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 4:15

To God be ALL the glory, honor and praise. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving ~ from my home to yours...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Help for the day

I think you all know how important music is to me. How it ministers to my vital it has been in my healing process (and I'm speaking about our Catholic Church debacle here). And I know the Lord will continue using music in a mighty way in my life even now...

So this morning I was going through my Itunes music on my computer. Sometime a few months ago, I had read a blog by Todd Agnew promoting a musician named JJ Heller. She had a new CD out and for a time, she was offering it as a free download. Well, no need to ask me twice to check out some new contemporary Christian music, especially if it's a fave on Todd's playlist!

I guess it was no surprise that I loved it too. As a matter of fact, when my Sweet Hubby and I listened to it, we commented on how similar her style is to Norah Jones - another artist we both enjoyed.

I decided to listen to JJ's CD again as I drank my coffee this morning. And the Lord used one of her songs to speak to me and encourage me today. I found a little snippet of it on YouTube, so I can share it here...**remember to scroll down and pause my player before viewing**

Your Hands ~ JJ Heller

The CD is no longer available as a free download, but if you like her music, please visit her website...with a new baby on the way, I'm sure she and her husband would appreciate it! And it looks like she has some great deals on her music...I plan on doing a little shopping myself! (Thanks Todd!)

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4

Monday, November 24, 2008

It is no secret

What a beautiful worship service we had yesterday...our Pastor delivered such a powerful message as we continue on in (and near the end of) the Book of Acts.

If you'd like to hear yesterday's sermon, you may do so by clicking the link: Click on "Podcasts" on the left hand side, scroll down and select November 23rd to listen. (Remember to scroll down and pause my player first!)

Sermon, November 23, 2008

I loved the story that Pastor Tommy pulled into the sermon about Stuart Hamblen. I had never heard the story before, although I've certainly heard the song! (If you want to know the story, I guess you'll just have to listen to the sermon!)

So, it's only fitting that I've chosen this song for Music Monday. The words are especially meaningful to me as I struggle to get used to life without my Sweet Hubby. I will not lie. It is hard and many, many times I do not think that I can do this. "This" being learn to live without him. I don't want to. But I've been given no choice. For reasons only the Lord knows, my Sweet Hubby has been called Home and I am left here. So I just pray to get through another day...and then another.

**Remember to scroll down and pause my player before watching the video** The lyrics are posted below...

It Is No Secret ~ Stuart Hamblen/Billy Graham Crusade circa 1963

The chimes of time ring out the news,
Another day is through.
Someone slipped and fell.
Was that someone you?

You may have longed for added strength,
Your courage to renew.
Do not be disheartened,
For I have news for you.

It is no secret what God can do.
What He's done for others, He'll do for you.
With arms wide open, He'll pardon you.
It is no secret what God can do.

There is no night for in His light
You never walk alone.
Always feel at home,
Wherever you may go.

There is no power can conquer you
While God is on your side.
Take Him at His promise,
Don't run away and hide.

It is no secret what God can do.
What He's done for others, He'll do for you.
With arms wide open, He'll pardon you.
It is no secret what God can do.

"That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light to the people, and to the Gentiles." Acts 26:23

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lunch and a visit

Our oldest son, James, arrived from Washington state the other day. We had dinner last night along with my daughter and her family. Today, James and I had a date to go to the cemetery and then to lunch.

James told me that he felt at peace at the cemetery; that he knows his Dad is happy and still with us in spirit. It is peaceful at my Sweet Hubby's could it not be? He was such a loving man.

Over lunch, we had the best conversation. It was a mixture of memories and talk about the Lord! It just doesn't get any better than to hear your child talk about Jesus and how much he loves Him! Even if that "child" is 32!

Matthew will be home tomorrow...all three of my children here at the same time. Nice.

I'll leave you with the Scripture verse I gave James as I dropped him off at his sister's house:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am being held up...

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
Thank you all...for your care, concern and kind comments.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My first "first"

Those of you who have followed my blog know that I don't post on Sundays. Last Sunday was the first exception, today will be the second.

I've often heard it said that the first year after losing a loved one is the hardest...a year of "firsts" if you will. All the holidays, birthdays, anniversary and so forth will come and go for the first time without that special someone.

Today was my first "first." The first time I attended church and Sunday School without my Sweet Hubby. I found that I could hold myself together as long as people didn't hug me. When they hugged me, I fell apart. And they all wanted to hug me...God bless them, they so lovingly represent the Body of Christ.

After Sunday School, I took my little garden seat, went behind the church to the cemetery and sat in the sunshine at my Sweet Hubby's grave. Oh, I still can't believe I'm typing that. I couldn't believe I was sitting there today. It just doesn't seem possible that he's gone. It just doesn't seem possible that a week ago I was holding his hand as he slipped away from me...

I don't think I'll be posting tomorrow. But tonight I wanted to share with you one of the songs they played at my Sweet Hubby's funeral on Wednesday. Now, he asked that two songs be sung - Ave Maria and Bring the Rain. Two members of our church choir sang those solos and they sang them so beautifully...

But I requested a third song be played. It's one by Todd Agnew and not that well known. But from the first moment that I heard it, I fell in love with it. My Sweet Hubby and I used to love listening to Todd's music and this song was a favorite of ours. It is meant to be listened to as the Lord singing to picture that as you listen. I hope it touches your heart as much as it always did ours. **Remember to scroll down and pause my player before clicking the link**

The Martyr's Song ~ Todd Agnew

And because I like you to know exactly what you're hearing, here are the lyrics as well:

Sing o son of Zion, shout o child of mine
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind

I’ve been waiting to dance with you in fields full of colors you've never seen
And I’ve been waiting to show you beauty you've never dreamed that's always been in you
And I’ve been waiting to see you tremble as you’re embraced by a world saturated with my love
And I’ve been waiting for the day when at last I get to say
My child you are finally home

Sing o son of Zion, shout o child of mine
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind
For you are finally home

I’ve been waiting to watch you realize what all your longing was for
I’ve been waiting to show you the thread of grace that ran through all your pain
And I’ve been waiting to let you drink the water of which your greatest joy on earth was just a taste
And I’ve been waiting for the day when at last I get to say
My child you are finally home

Sing o son of Zion, shout o child of mine
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind
Sing o daughter of Zion; cry out o child of mine
Dance with all the strength that you can find
For you are finally home

Every tear you cry dried in the palm of my hand
Every lonely hour was by my side
Every loved one lost, every river crossed
Every moment, every hour was pointing to this day
I’ve been longing for this day

I’ve been waiting to dance with you in fields full of colors you've never seen
And I’ve been waiting to show you beauty you've never dreamed that's always been in you
And I’ve been waiting to see you tremble as you’re embraced by a world saturated with my love
And I’ve been waiting for the day when at last I get to say
My child you are finally home

Sing o son of Zion, shout o child of mine
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind
Sing o daughter of Zion; cry out o child of mine
Dance with all the strength that you can find
For you are finally home

Sing of son of Zion, shout o child of mine
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind
And sing of daughter of Zion; cry out o child of mine
Dance with all the strength that you can find
For you are finally home
For you are finally home

Child of mine

Finally home

For you are finally home

I love you sweetheart...oh dear Lord I miss you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A girl named Marloo

Matthew left Thursday afternoon to head back to Richmond in order to prepare for a neuroscience convention in D.C. beginning yesterday. After he left, the quiet in the house was almost palpable. Now, I love silence...I really do enjoy the quiet, but this was different. And lonely.

Thursday night, I climbed the stairs to sleep in our bed for the first time in almost a month. I managed to sleep for an hour, from 11 to midnight. That was it for the night...

Last night, I climbed those same stairs around midnight. And slept until 9:30 this morning. Granted, I woke up many times during the night, but always fell right back to sleep.

What changed you ask? A girl named Marloo.

Thursday, before he left, Matthew and I visited our local SPCA. And found Marloo waiting for me. Our eyes met, her tail wagged and that was it. You are not allowed to take pets home same day from our shelter - a preventative against "impulse buying" - but I returned yesterday complete with "Princess" collar in hand to bring her home. Marloo is a Schnauzer/probably Pit Bull mix, 6 years old and impeccably mannered. I think it was meant for us to love each other. They told me yesterday that she arrived at the SPCA on Sunday, the 9th. The day my Sweet Hubby went to be with the Lord.

So last night at midnight, Marloo and I climbed the stairs to my bedroom. She fell in love with her new bed (not mine!) and we both slept the night away.

My house is still quiet, but no longer lonely. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for once again meeting my needs.
"For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion." Ecclesiastes 9:4

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Amazing grace

Today was my Sweet Hubby's funeral. This morning I honestly wondered how I was going to make it through. I said, "Lord, this is just too hard...I don't think I can do it."

Last night was the visitation at the funeral home. On the way there, Matthew and I listened to K-LOVE on the radio. I felt shored up by the time we arrived. It was wonderful. Truly a celebration of my Sweet Hubby's life. No tears, just happiness, shared stories and joy. I told Matthew that if I had the power to bring him back, I wouldn't...not into that sick body. Today, my Sweet Hubby is healthy and whole. No pain, no cancer. But oh...every breath is so hard without him.

The limo was picking us up at 12:20 today. I spent some time with the Lord and asked that He please give me grace and strength for the day. For me alone, that would have been impossible. I knew I needed the Lord. And oh - He is so good and faithful!

My Sweet Hubby's funeral was just really, really was. He was so well loved and it came through in every word from Pastors Greg and Tom.

And God's amazing grace got me through. Thank you Lord.
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:3
I'd also just like to take a moment to thank everyone who left a comment over the past few days...I haven't responded individually to them because I don't think I'd stop crying if I did. So, please just know how grateful I am to each of you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sleep well my darling...

My Prince, my best friend.
My Sweet Hubby

Stephen John
September 3, 1948 ~ November 9, 2008

Sleeping in the arms of the Lord...

I love you sweetheart.

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26

Yes Lord...I do, with all my heart and soul. Please take care of my Sweet Hubby until I am reunited with him. Thank you Lord. Amen.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This is where we are...

Hospice: A program that provides palliative care and attends to the emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients at an inpatient facility or at the patient's home.
We are at home. My Sweet Hubby is preparing for his "homegoing." Our church's pastors have been here multiple times. We are surrounded by family and friends. My Sweet Hubby knows that I am by his side, holding his hand as he begins his journey.

This morning, Pastor Tommy came by. This is the Scripture he shared:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.'" John 14:1-6

These are the words of eternal life...

I will share with you one of the things my Sweet Hubby said to me this morning...
"You and I know Jesus. I am sad for those who don't. I am praying for them and I will forever pray for them."
Please keep my Sweet Hubby blanketed in prayer. To God be the glory...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A mini miracle AND a day brightener!

When we arrived home late this afternoon, there was a tag hanging on our front door that a delivery had been attempted and the "surprise" had been left with our next door neighbors..

Well, Rita and little Phoebe just left and look what they brought:

This was the cherry on top of our day! Don't you just feel all the tension leave you when you see something so lovely? Thank you, Cissa (and P, J and C!) for thinking of us and sending us this "day brightener!" Love you guys!

Know what these represent??

A mini miracle, that's what!!

It was not a good sleep for my Sweet Hubby despite medication. No relief from pain...

Up every hour, repositioning, a drink of water for a parched mouth...this disease is so cruel.

So it was with a heavy heart that I reconciled myself to the fact that we would not be voting today. But the Lord had other plans for us!

An email from my Sweet Hubby's oncologist's nurse told me that they had stronger pain medication prescriptions waiting for us, as well as an order for an ultrasound of his liver later this week. Because the medications are narcotics, they cannot be called in. That meant we were going to have to travel...

OK, not an easy feat for someone who is basically bedbound now. But, God is good and we managed. We had to go to two different pharmacies in order to fill the two prescriptions and the second pharmacy had a 1-1 1/2 hour wait. Hmmm.....what to do, what to do. It didn't make sense to go home as we'd just have to venture out again.

Guess how we passed a little time? That's right - WE VOTED!!!! We were blessed - no line, no rain (it's a rainy day here) and even the temperature cooperated - a nice 65 degrees. As we approached the polling place they told us we had picked the perfect time as just a bit earlier the lines were wrapped down the sidewalk. No surprise there...God's timing is PERFECT!!

I can't tell you how happy we were as we drove away. Yep, I'd call it our mini-miracle of the day! To God be ALL the glory!

Oh ~ and God bless America!

Monday, November 3, 2008

It means "Hail Maria"

Today's Music Monday song is one very near and dear to my heart. It holds a special place in the history of my family. It was sung at my Mom and Dad's wedding and my Sweet Hubby and I, in honor of my parents, had it sung at ours. It was a surprise and my Mom cried through the whole song...I can't hear it today without crying myself. It is so beautiful, so powerful, so meaningful.

A little bit of history first...

In 1825 a young composer wrote a song called “Ellen’s Song Number Three”. The song was a prayer to Mary and so well received, the young composer wrote to his parents:

“My new songs…..especially had much success. They also wondered greatly at my piety, which I expressed in a hymn to the Holy Virgin and which, it appears, grips every soul and turns it to devotion."

The composer died young at the age of 31. After his death Latin lyrics were replaced on the song for performance in a liturgical setting. The composer’s name was Franz Schubert, and “Ellen’s Song Number Three” is known to us today as “Ave Maria”.

The Latin translated reads as follows:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus [Christ].
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Coming from a Roman Catholic background, my Sweet Hubby and I have a great reverence for the Blessed Mother. I know most protestant faiths feel that Catholics are obsessed with Mary and that she is sinfully venerated. I will not enter that argument...instead I look to God's Word:

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.' And Mary said, 'My soul exalts the Lord. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave. For behold, from this time on all generations shall count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and Holy is His name.'" Luke 1:41-49

And now, on to this beautiful song...which will one day carry another memory for me. This weekend my Sweet Hubby asked that it be sung at his funeral. I'm crying already...

**Remember to scroll down and pause my player before listening**

Ave Maria ~ Josh Groban