Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reflections of the past...

Tomorrow, December 11th, marks a year since my sweet sister-in-law, Erika, went home to be with Jesus. The memories of the events leading up to her death are like a movie rolling through my mind. All the phone calls, texts and trips to the cities to be with her seem like yesterday. I will never forget THAT day when they told us she wasn't going to make it or being by her bedside as she took her last breath. I will never forget God's peace that covered us all & the stillness in her hospital room. I will never forget the worship music playing or the grief & sadness that we felt, and the tears that were shed. Nothing prepares you for that experience or the experiences that follow loosing a loved one.

2013 will go down in my book as the toughest year of my life. Experiencing everyone & myself grieve was nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. There were times in my marriage when I asked myself if this is how it was always going to be and can I handle it? There were times when I needed to step away from relationships cause it was too much to handle. There were times that I was angry, sad, & numb. There were & will always be times when I wished Erika was still here to do things with me.

I miss shopping with her. I miss going to coffee with her. I miss working out with her. I miss doing Bible studies with her. I miss dreaming about our future of our boys together. I miss spending time with her at the cabin. I miss her cooking. I miss her walk. I miss hearing about the latest trends from her. I miss planning vacations together. I miss her voice. I miss watching her be a mom. I miss seeing her next to Sam.

2013 not only brought on the grief of loosing Erika, but I also had a very close loved one who was suffering from severe anxiety and depression. At times that loved one couldn't be left alone and was barely functional. They were hospitalized on numerous occasions and at one point was on the verge of death. The last couple months this loved one has made great strides and has taken control of their life again--Praise the Lord!

As I sit here in front of my Christmas tree and reflect on all that I have walked through I am in awe of how God has carried me every step of the way. He has placed strategical people in my life to love & support me. He has TRULY given me a peace that has passed all understanding. If I didn't have him in my life I think I could have been admitted somewhere or should had been on major meds. God has whispered that its going to be OK and that things are going to change; and he was right. I am constantly reminded to keep my eyes fixed on HIM and am so thankful for his love, sovereignty, and grace. I'm so thankful for the power of prayer and for HIS word.

With a new year around the corner also brings a new season. Sam and my nephews, Ben & Jake are moving to Maple Grove next week. I have gone through a plethora of feelings when I received the news. I felt like I was grieving again; loosing them. I have come to peace with this and ultimately want the best for them. I'm excited for Sam to have a fresh start and for their future. I can't promise you that I'm not going to pray them back to Alexandria, but for now it's going to be OK. Our boys are so close; they are almost like brothers. I will miss seeing them a few times each week and having my "auntie stamp" on them, but they are only an hour and a half down Highway 94.

Despite all of the negative things that I have walked through this last year I still have reason to celebrate! One being the birth of our son, Blake Alexander. He is the sweetest little boy I know. His disposition is so chill and his smile lights up the room. There have been many times when I felt like my world was caving in. I would look over at him and he would give me the biggest, drooliest smile. He exudes joy! He also has the best thighs in the world, who knew cellulite could be so cute?! He is by far my biggest baby. At 7 months he was starting to wear 18 month clothing. He is weighing in at 23.5 lbs--almost off the charts! I have been so blessed by him and the way that my older two boys adore him!

Another thing to celebrate is my health! In August I started with a natural, whole foods health supplement company and was able to loose my baby weight, not be addicted to caffeine (Caribou & Diet Coke) anymore, gain incredible energy, build lean muscle and fill in my nutritional gaps. When I initially started on the products it was for weight loss and energy, but now its more then that. Loosing my Dad, Josh's Grandma, & Erika all in 16 months has made me realize the importance of health. In today's world eating clean & working out are not enough. I will admit, I would had rather bought a new shirt then pay for health supplements, but I now understand the importance of them. The days that I forget to take them I feel sluggish & tired and usually end up making poor food choices. I also have been able to meet some incredible individuals in the company that are passionate about helping others get healthy and succeed! The company has also helped our family financially. Financial responsibilities always come up out of the blue and thanks to this company it has helped off set those costs. This company also allows me to do some of my passions--helping others and fitness!

My latest celebration is that my little sister, Kourtney had her first baby, Holden Matthew on Monday, December 2nd. I'm so proud of her and Adam! They are going to be amazing parents! I'm so excited to be an auntie again, he is perfect! I find it so ironic that there are only boy grandchildren on both sides--God sure does have a sense of humor!

This is the first December in the past two years that I'm finally excited about the winter/Christmas season. Life is starting to feel normal again. Relationships are being restored, healing has taken place in people's hearts, my marriage feels stronger then ever, my children are thriving and life feels good. Memories of Erika will never go away, nor will the void in my life, but all of the firsts are over. I'm excited for a fresh start in 2014. It won't be a year tattooed with tragedy and loss.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, from the bottom of my heart! Remember not to fret the small things, look for the beauty in everything, find the gold in everyone AND most importantly fix your mind & eyes on HIM. Jesus is the reason for this Christmas season.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

a symbolic weekend

Hello Sweet Friends!
I can't believe it's been since December since my last entry. The past 8ish months have felt like I an emotional roller coaster that I can't get off. Grief is such a complex emotion. It's an emotion that looks and reacts differently to everyone. I can attest to this because everyone in our family has handled the loss of Erika differently. Thankfully there is no right or wrong was to grieve, I'm just thankful that we are. Professionals say if you don't grieve right away you will later on in life. The later on in life can be more messy then the now.

This past weekend Josh & I had a weekend away and stayed in Deerwood, MN to mountain bike Cuyuna State Recreational Area. We had heard about this park last year and had read that the trails were in a league of their own; they are nationally ranked! Who knew we had a gem so close to home? We biked Friday night and Saturday afternoon and it was an amazing experience!!

As I was out on the trails white knuckled, heart racing, not always knowing what to anticipate what was around the corner I had an epiphany. These trails were a metaphor of what the past two years of my life has been. At times life has been an uphill battle with many bumps in the road. Life has felt out of control and overwhelming. There were many different paths to take, but if I misread the map I would get off course. Just like in life, I have choices to make to stay on the right path, when I try to do life my own way I get off course. Through it all Jesus was there to hold me, to pour his love out on me. He met me where I was at every time. He rejoiced when I rejoiced and cried when I cried. On those trails all I could do was trust. I had to trust in my abilities and trust that the Lord will protect me.

Mountain biking I had to keep my eyes fixed on what was ahead, if I didn't I could crash (and I did) or fall off the side of the cliff (I almost did). That too is symbolic of the last year. My eyes have never been so fixed on HIM, I knew that if I didn't fully rely on him for everything that life could get messy. I knew that I needed to reach for the sword, the Word of God, to use that to protect and help heal our family.

Cuyuna was absolutely beautiful. We remembered to "stop and smell the roses" and took in some breath-taking scenes. These moments, too, were part of my epiphany. Even though we have been grieving we also have had reason to celebrate; to relish in the moment. The birth of our third son, Blake Alexander, happened, our boys have reached new milestones in their lives, my sister, Eva, got married and summer has happened!

This weekend has felt healing. I love it when moments like this happen and I least expect it. It was so fun to spend time with my husband and to be able to be outside in God's nature!