Saturday, February 15, 2014

God Cares for the Caregiver


Not writing for a while has left me feeling a big void. Over the past few years it had remained the one constant thing I did for me, so sitting down today and beginning to type and share my heart quickly brought back those warm feelings of connecting with all my friends both near and far. I have missed y'all! 

As with most things in my life, good or bad, I always feel God is driving home a message that will in the long run always help to refine me. These last couple of months has forced me to realize even more about myself since becoming a widow. The self-discovery never ends. I know without a doubt I have conquered much, and only with the help of my Heavenly Father, family, and friends. Still, I also know I have a long way to go. 

The biggest feat I am facing on my own is the feeling of vulnerability and learning how to "take care of me.” I can look back at all the trials I have overcome, yet I am still left with the feeling of fear and wondering if I will be capable of taking care of Tammy.  

Taking care of others in my life has always come easy to me, brought immense joy to me, and at times crippling heartache, but at the end of the day it has been something that has fueled me. But what happens when it's time to take care of yourself? Who becomes the caregiver to the caregivers? I am learning that now, and it is probably one of the biggest lessons of inner strength I have had to endure. 

 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

This verse is a great comfort to me as it reminds me that although there may be days I feel pushed way past my limits.....God knows and most importantly has equipped me to handle what He has set before me. 

Taking care of yourself is a hard fact of life. Everyone has to do it at some point. Many, many people have to do it every day in incredibly difficult circumstances. Still, it has at times left me stumped and crippled, worrying that, in spite of all I have overcome by the Grace of God, I can’t do it. 

I was blessed to have had an amazing husband that took such great care of me in ways that truly mattered—like friendship, companionship, encouragement. Some days, I realize I no longer have that emotional support, that unconditional love that helped take care of me in ways I didn't even know. Other days, I’m overwhelmed by the thought of supporting myself practically and financially.  These things bring about great fears in me. I hesitate at times in sharing these things so openly, but I realize there is no shame in sharing what is real. As my son, Aaron, reminded me, this blog has always been a place to share openly and honestly about the real life issues that widows face and that being transparent in all areas is the way in which we can relate to one another. In these places, I’ve learned that my heart does not crave pity, just unconditional understanding as I try to figure it all out. 

So what do you do to start taking care of yourself? You get grounded. Coming back to a firm foundation will help you feel less vulnerable and begin to strengthen your confidence in yourself to move on in life. I have found that reaching out and reaching up is fail- proof way to begin to get through those difficult times. 

Reaching out to friends, family, or as I like to say my "go-to's!” is a tremendous blessing. God sends us angels that can help bridge that painful, lonely gap. Is it the same? No, but it is a comfort and blessing to know that you have people you can rely on for emotional support. In fact, I think it is critical to have these angels in our lives. I can testify that a little bit of encouragement and unconditional love can get you through the worst of days. 

But most importantly, friends, there are times where we just become too weary to reach out, and you have to know God is always there. "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6. 

The Bible is full of encouragement. Becoming and staying grounded in God's word will build you up emotionally like nothing else can. As I was praying this morning I asked God to be my caregiver and give me the strength I need to move ahead. I felt His words powerfully come upon me...." I already have my child.”  

Be Blessed, 

Tammy 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Widows View



Definition of a widow: A woman who has lost her husband by death and has not remarried.

 I write this blog with a heavy heart this evening. Sadly, a couple of my friends have recently lost their husbands and I know the pain that their hearts are experiencing as they begin the journey to healing and rediscovering who they are.

The definition above seemed so matter-of-fact when I read it because personally it has taken me over two and half years to accept that title, a title that I felt carried so much pain and loneliness. I always felt there was some sort of stigma attached to it. But as time has passed and healing has begun to penetrate my heart, I realized that "label" is a chance to share a testimony of faith, hope and love.

Becoming a widow is something that doesn't have to be in vain in my life. I have the ability to turn into something that is good…something that is God. 

It was difficult in the midst of the crippling pain to try and defeat that enemy who had come to defeat me and steal my joy. There was a stranger inside of me now, one that had no identity, yet was struggling to be known. I could stand in front of the mirror and see the same outer shell but could no longer identify with that person at the core. I did the only thing I had the strength to do and that was cling to what God had promised me:   “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God wants us to have a rich and satisfying life. 

I began to very slowly re-discover my new identity, but all the while my Heavenly Father would gently remind me that my "true" identity has always been and will always be found in Him and each time that confirmation would flood my soul I would sense more strength, a clearer perspective and feel a little more secure. God was pruning me and it was painful, but always so needed. Suddenly the title that once seemed so hard to even whisper was being spoken about often—and with a God filled story surrounding it.  

Yes, I am a widow by the sense of the dictionary's definition, but I am so much more than just that definition in God's eyes and in the eyes of those who love me. What the past 2 ½ years have taught me about being a widow is that I am worthy of happiness again, that I am strong enough to survive the loss of someone so precious to me, and that being a widow doesn't have to be something I deny, but instead that I can embrace with a heart that is—praise God—healing more each and every day. 
I am no longer afraid to say that word and accept that role. It is only by the grace and power of my Heavenly Father that I can testify to this healing which in itself is a miracle.  

I pray for my friends and for all who are experiencing this pain. Please know there is hope and there will be happiness again, it will be different and your priorities will change...they should. But you will, by the loving grace of God, survive this time. Know that you are never alone and that your always loved and prayed for.  

A Blessed Widow,

Tammy











Thursday, October 17, 2013

Still Learning To Live




 I really don't know where to begin. It has been way too long since I have written. I am so blessed by the consistent friends and followers of this blog asking for an update on our family. Thank you!

 To say that the last 6 months have been a whirlwind is probably a bit of an understatement.  Let me begin with the part-time job I started in April. I really wasn't prepared for what this job would do for me. It slowly helped me regain much of the confidence I had unknowingly lost. Day by day, I began to breathe again in a way I haven't in a very long time.  I realized I was much more capable than I had given myself credit for. I was being mentally productive and using a part of my brain that I believe had gotten a few cobwebs on it! 

Next, we began the process of packing up the house! Moving on from things that were once such a big part of your life can be a very difficult thing to do. Each room holds a special memory of what once was. Honestly, the day I came home without Nick the house just became geography. It was a place where Aaron and I could rest and retreat when we needed to, but not much else. It feels like the final chapter is closing on that part of my life. Very bittersweet, but it is time.

The great thing was that the timing could not have been more perfect to start packing up, because Aaron moved into his own apartment in August with his friend, Ian. He has taken all that life has thrown at him, which has been a lot for a 19 year-old, and it has built such great character, integrity and compassion in him. He had a wonderful summer paid internship at Wells Fargo in Community Relations, and now he is currently working temporarily for the United Way of Northeast Florida. He is working on getting his BA in English with a minor in Business at UNF and a slew of other things! I cannot keep up with it all! I could not be more proud of him.

Okay! Let's talk about dating! Yes, I have experienced my first "real" relationship. It took a while, but Nick gave me the sweet gift of saying I need to move in this area...in fact, he made me promise. I know... what a selfless man, right? I think I could start a whole new blog on the dating scene after 40-something! I pray for God's wisdom and guidance in each and every step of this journey. It is certainly not an easy adjustment but one that seems very natural at this point and time. I have a hard time not comparing to what once was, but I have to believe that God will put me where and with who I should be with. 

On a much different note, some may know that I have had a fear of airplanes for quite a while because of claustrophobia issues. Not anymore... in the words of R. Kelly "I believe I can fly!" I have the traveling bug now and I am enjoying it immensely. I am so thankful to be set free from that issue that has weighed me down for quite some time. I did my first back-to-back solo flights several weeks ago, and on one of the flights I was blessed to be seated by a man who unfortunately had lost his wife three years ago to cancer. Needless to say, we had a great conversation and understanding of one another's life. I remember stepping off the plane, looking up and thanking God for that man. 

Other widows/widowers will often ask me, "Will it get easier?" Yes! It will get easier in many ways, but I think more than that, it just becomes different. I encourage you to let God mold and use you during your healing process. Let Him help you to become better, not bitter, and to grow and not become stagnant. The enemy will want to rob you of your joy in anyway possible, but God is ever-present and wants you to flourish, especially through the pain. HE is the one constant throughout all of this. Although, there are times when I feel I have drifted a little farther from Him that I would like too, I know He is never away from me. When I feel that lack of peace infiltrating from my soul, I know I need to be drawing closer, in his word, on my knees. I am ashamed to say I often times allow "life" to get in the way, but too much life can bring to much strife when you are not walking closely with your Heavenly Father. HE is the only real peace I have ever known or will ever know. 

I look forward to writing more in the near future. I deeply appreciate the encouragement from others to continue to do so. As I have said many times before this blog has been a huge source of healing for me in so many ways. I am thankful! 

Many Blessings!

Tammy 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Just Keep Trying







I start this blog with a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness for the answered prayer of a new job!

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.-Psalm 69:30

Many of you know how long I have been tirelessly sending out resumes and receiving one rejection after the next. Finally, doors began to slightly open and interviews started taking place. Then a few days ago, that door swung open a bit more and I stepped through it. 

I wasn't sure which job was going to come through, as things narrowed down to a full-time, as well as a part-time opportunity, with two great organizations. I knew after various interviews I had done all that I could, and I was trusting God was going to do all that He could to put me where I needed to be. I cannot tell you the peace I have felt since accepting this position. Although, my heart's desire is to be employed full-time, this is the way I will need to start for now. The exciting and hopeful thing is there may be a potential for this to turn into a full time position. God knows, He sees all and I am relying on Him to provide.

There have been many confirmations and so many things falling into place with this (that's a whole other blog!) that I just know this is where I am supposed to be for now. I will say none of this has happened in my timing. The Lord is going to teach me patience one way or another! I started this process quite a while back and I have shed many tears and have gotten very discouraged along the way, but I never gave up looking. Through the tears, through the disappointment, through the rejections, I just kept trying.

I confess I had many conservations with God during this process, and honestly, some of them were not pretty. While I am confessing, I will tell you there were times I wanted to give up the search, lay in my bed, and just wallow in self pity. After all, I was tired and had grown extremely weary, but your many prayers kept me going, as well as a constant feeling that God would provide in His time. I just needed to continue to do the footwork. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.- John 16:33

The many prayers and words of encouragement from my family and friends became invaluable to me during this long and tedious process. My Heavenly Father has always so graciously blessed me with wonderfully supportive, encouraging, and praying people, and I am so very thankful for each of every one of them! May God bless you all a hundred times over.

 This next phase on my journey of "Learning to Live" brings much excitement as well as a little anxiety. I am eager to dive right in, learn new things, further my education, meet new people and just really enjoy this wonderful opportunity that could lead to.... God knows what?......Well, He does and I can't wait to find out!

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

Thank you for celebrating with me in sharing some good news and for continuing to follow and support me on my road to healing. I humbly request that you please continue to pray for doors to open for me in this area.

Blessings Always,

Tammy