Amazing at 16….

My nephew is 16….

andrwe johnI am amazed how quickly Andrew has gone from being a cute young boy to a handsome young man…..

Andrew is kind and thoughtful. I often wondered how it would be when all these kids grew up and joined the adult circles in our family. It has happened and it is very good. Andrew is a good conversationalist and a good listener. He knows how to ask questions and shows a genuine concern about the people who surround him.

andrew john at 16I love bragging up my nieces and nephews, but it makes me very proud when I hear from others about what good kids they are. Andrew was recently nominated for a leadership camp and his coach wrote the following: “Andrew is the hardest working student athlete that I have known in my 12 years of coaching. Andrew refused to miss any minute of practice or quit any conditioning activity regardless of how exhausted and physically outmatched he was. Moreover while Andrew was constantly giving 110% effort, he was simultaneously encouraging all of his teammates to work harder He is able to lead both by actions and words. Andrew has also learned to encourage his teammate without alienating them. Andrew has figured out the art of knowing what to say and when to say it.”

Andrew, I am so thankful you are my nephew. I so love being your aunt and am eager to see what the next 16 years holds for you. You are smart and athletic and amazing in so much of what you do, but even more than all you do, I am so thankful and proud of who you are. Continue to grow the way your growing and God will be glorified in your life, words and actions.

I love you Andrew John….

Drive over any time. I will fill your gas tank!

Much love,

Aunt Trish

Hope Anchors my Soul….

I feel the ache of grief tonight…

Not a lot of words to put with it, just a deep feeling that keeps washing over me….

IMG_2188I have had some very touching text conversations today with my sister-in-law and my niece. They are honest and painful. They speak to the great loss of a husband and a father. They speak to the void that was created in their life on a Sunday night not so long ago and how every day they realize it will not be filled by anyone or anything, for Len was unique, creative, crazy and fun (and funny). As we say, in his living he had a big presence and so in his dying he leaves a big absence.

Maybe it was Olivia’s tweet on twitter yesterday: Wishing I could call my dad and tell him about passing my road test#bittersweet

Perhaps it was my sister-in-laws words of  “so many unfinished dreams….”

Perhaps it is my longing to tell him what great kids he has or ask him about the Tiger game we go to each year….

Regardless of what it is, it is hard to journey grief….

I am thankful for my family, friends and community who are so kind to me as each day comes and goes…

I am thankful that we as a family talk about Len and laugh and cry together.

Hope is  an anchor
Hebrews 6:19 a
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.

I find truth and hope in the following quote:

Grieving is as natural as crying when you are hurt, sleeping when you are tired, eating when you are hungry, or sneezing when your nose itches.

It’s nature’s way of mending a broken heart.

My heart was shattered on that night of December 23, 2012.

I believe my heart will heal and time will change the ache, but that being said, tonight is still hard….

And so as I drift off to sleep, remembering my brother, I am thankful that even in the pit of grief, hope anchors my soul!

Congratulations you passed…

Such sweet words at the end of a driving test…

20110831194018548_0005Olivia Grace passed her driving test today and I am so proud….

I was the lucky aunt who accompanied her….

Olivia is a good driver but she was expressing her growing anxiety as we were approaching the testing site….

We stopped at the cones to practice the parking and it was increasing anxiety instead of relaxing my sweet niece….

And so we stopped practicing, said a prayer together, talked about how much her Dad would have loved to be there with her and reported in for the test…

I was asked to wait inside while Olivia did the parking test. I stood by the window, alone in the office, and watched her move my vehicle through the different stations. I did a little dance with the completion of each one.  I found myself delighting in her success and aching for Len to be there for this moment with his 16-year-old daughter.

And then they came to the door and picked me up for the road test. I don’t often sit in the back seat of my own car, but this time I took that place with pride. Olivia was precise, intentional, careful, bold and chatty. It was fun to sit in the back and observe, delight and be amazed at how fast she has grown up.  And so this morning Olivia did not have the freedom to drive alone and at the end of the day,she is a newly licensed driver.

And so tonight, my prayer before I sleep is offered in a bit of a different way…. Dear Lord, I am entrusting Olivia Grace  to your hands, praying you will stay near to her, protect her and keep her safe.  amen and amen

I love you Livi Lou and am so proud of you.

olivia grace

Gymnasium for my soul…

I can’t quite wrap my mind and heart around the fact that it has only been 8 weeks since Len died.

Is it really only February 23rd?

It feels like I have been going through these difficult days for a very long time…

I can’t always find the words to explain what these 8 weeks have been like and I can’t quite describe what I anticipate the next 8 weeks to hold….

I know that I have had trouble returning to the gym…

I believe that the primary reason for that has been energy….

I seem to lack energy in these last 8 weeks…

I do know that grieving is hard work….

And so as I shared with a friend this week, I heard myself saying that it feels like I keep visiting the gymnasium for my soul….

I feel the ache of being stretched to new places in my heart….

I feel the challenge of learning to breathe through new routines…

I feel the tension of doing familiar things at a changed pace….

I feel the invitation to exercise new muscles…

I feel the embrace of fellow journeyers….

I hadn’t planned to be a frequent visitor to the gymnasium for my soul….

But I must say that after 8 weeks, I can feel some small changes taking shape….

I am thankful that I have learned the importance of spending time in the gymnasium for my soul….

And now to get back to the other gym!

 

It is well with my Soul..

Yesterday was a day full of family, remembering, reflecting, laughing and enjoying and Worship….

It seems like every song sung spoke to my heart and my eyes welled up…

There is something so amazing to worship that even on a good day, I can often find my heart tender and touched by the words of the songs we sing….

And so yesterday, surrounded by my family at Shawnee Park CRC and very aware of Len’s absence, I felt especially tender and expectant of God’s presence.

We sang a hymn to the tune of the Navy Hymn which we sang at Len’s funeral….Len would have loved it….

We sang Wonderful, Merciful, Savior and I was struck by how real the words feel in these past weeks…Len would have loved it….

My two nieces sang It is well with my soul and I wept at the beautiful voices, the rich words and the very true message that echoed and resonated in our hearts…Len would have loved it…

We began our “Christmas” Sunday worshiping together and it paved the way for our beautiful day together…Len would have loved it…

Christmas 2012 has left us changed forever. As we gathered for our family Christmas it was a beautiful time of looking back and enjoying all the moments held. Our hearts are full and I am thankful for my family who lives life honestly together.

It is well with my soul….

christmas 2012

Christmas is coming…

Yes, our Christmas is scheduled for this weekend.

Our Christmas, which was tragically interrupted by the death of my brother on December 23rd is scheduled to happen…

And so we will gather as a family this weekend at my parents home….

There is a sense of anticipation and a feeling of dread in my heart…

I am eager and I am anxious…

I feel more hopeful than what I did 7 weeks ago and I still feel so very sad in some places in my heart…

There will be so much life in the presence of each one who is there and there will be one life that will be so deeply missed..

There will be laughter and there will be tears…

There will be conversations of days ahead and what the future holds and there will be conversations of days past that hold beautiful memories before our loss….

It will be good to be with my family and it is new space for us….

In all of the unknown of what we each bring, I do know we will bring many hugs, words of comfort and hope and laughter and love….

I am thankful for each family member….

My family of origin…(Dad, Mom, Len, Nick, Arlene, Suzi and Aunt Dot)

RK Big familythose who joined in through marriage…(Marcia, Jonna, Dan and Andy and soon to include Matt)

those who joined in through birth (Olivia, Noah, Andrew, Ryan, Janneke, Henry, Anneliese, Karolyn and Ellie, Peter, Isaiah and Johanna)

those who joined in through adoption…(Sonta and Jean Marc)

So thankful that even if Len is not physically with us any longer, he holds a place in each of our hearts forever and always!

I am thankful for a family who grieves together…

I am thankful for a family who journeys together….

I am thankful for a family who believes together….

I am thankful….

United States Postal Service….

USPSI have a new love and appreciation for the United States Postal Service….

For many years I could have easily passed on the little bit of mail I received each day….

But since the day Len died, I have found great comfort in the wonderful deliveries to my mail box….

For the first few weeks there was an abundance of cards every day.

I found it to be such a sweet time in my sorrow to sit in my kitchen and slowly open each envelope…

The words on the cards, the assurance of prayers and love, the faces that I saw as I read the names, it all offered an embrace of my pain and injected love into my broken heart…

As the weeks have passed, the cards are fewer, but still, every few days, I am blessed with a card and I am surprised by a sense of relief that I feel when I sit and I open the card and read the kind words….

I believe the comfort comes in knowing that I do not walk this journey alone….

I believe the comfort comes in knowing others have journeyed grief and share that they understand…

I believe the comfort comes in knowing that in a card, in an envelope, in my mail box, by way of the United States Postal Service, I am assured of love and friendship….

I encourage you to utilize the old-fashioned way of communication and send a card to someone who is dear to your heart….

Join me in thankfulness for USPS and all who deliver hope and love every day to many in need!

 

Always have HOPE….

Tonight I saw this and I quickly passed by it….

And I have come back to it a few times as I consider all it invites me to….be joyful

After all it starts with

Be joyful…

It is hard to feel joyful in the midst of grief, but I know that my life has not been robbed of all joy….

Keep on praying…

that feels like one that resonates close to my heart these days. I am spending a lot of time in prayer for my family who I dearly love…..

Always have hope…

I am thankful that I do not feel without hope, even in my sorrow. I have a favorite wall hanging that reminds me that Hope Anchors my soul…..

Do not be anxious….

well that one is tricky for me right now. I have more anxiety than likely ever before, but perhaps that is why I keep on praying…..

Have Courage….

Life takes courage, for so many of us in so many ways. I have another wall hanging that says, “Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it is the quiet voices that says I will try again tomorrow.” I know the feeling of trying again and again and again….

“Trust the Lord”….

such a simple phrase….

such a huge invitation….

such a simple and complex decision….

Yes Lord, I want to trust you with my whole being…..

One day at a time sweet Jesus….

I love this song…

I find myself singing it often in these last weeks…

one day at a timeIt is not just the grief journey that brings these words to my lips….

It is so many moments in a day when I struggle to see clearly…

It is so many experiences when I feel pain deep in my heart…

It is very much my new way of living….

If you find yourself easily overwhelmed with all you have unfolding in your life, I invite you to commit these words to memory and carry the song in your heart and the words on your lips….

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

 

The road less traveled….

olivia graceToday my 16-year-old niece changed her cover photo in Facebook….

It went from being a fun picture of Len to displaying a message written by Len to Olivia…

Olivia is learning that life is not easy and at 16, it is a harsh lesson to learn. I found this on her twitter page: living for both my fathers up in heaven and I am reminded of what a beautiful girl she is:

Always take your own road

This is one of the messages that Len has often communicated to his children regularly….

He reminded them in words and his own actions that not everyone will always like you or communicate appreciation of you….

And so, it is important to take your own road….

And often the road you choose may likely be the road less traveled….

And so Olivia, Noah, Sonta and Jean Marc are familiar with Robert Frost’s poem below. They understand that Len had a vision for them to grow up being true to God and God’s unique creation of each of them….

Len was driving home just seven short weeks ago to celebrate Christmas….

He had no warning that life would end for him that night….

We had no warning that our time with him on this earth was over…

And so the legacy he left is taken from what he believed and how he lived….

Today this brings a smile, a tear, some hope and a vision….

Len’s invitation remains and I know my brother well enough to know he would be delighted if his words could offer hope to anyone willing to listen.

Take your own road (insert your own name)________and be curious about all you find along the way…..

We miss you Len and carry your spirit with us in our hearts every day!

Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.

1. The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20