This month marks the two-year anniversary of Not Your Average Widow.
If you had asked me years ago if writing a blog was in my future, I would have told you ‘sure!’ I’d had a few blogs before this one and really enjoyed them. But if you had asked me if I’d be writing a blog under the ‘widow’ title, I would have certainly told you ‘no way.’
I never thought I’d be here, living life as a widow. I never expected this life, never considered it an option despite the inherent risks of our life. Neither of us did. But when life dealt us these cards, I almost immediately knew I would travel this journey in an extraordinary way. I didn’t know how or why, and perhaps I still don’t, but I knew I would be anything but average. I was determined to bloom where I was planted and man, is writing helping me do that.
Thank you, each of you, for reading this blog. For encouraging me, supporting me, and being present for me, I thank you.
Today I cheer for two years of raw, open honesty. And I strive for many more.
I absolutely love hearing from my readers. Recently I received a comment that brought a huge smile to my face and reminded me of why I write this blog: to inspire hope in others. The sweet Jen from de Jong Dream House nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!
Here are the “rules” of accepting the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:
- Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
- Share 7 interesting things about yourself.
- Nominate 7 bloggers you admire.
- Leave a comment on each of the blog’s letting them know they have been nominated.
I was so touched to receive this award, teary-eyed as I read Jen’s post and the sweet things she said. You see, Jen herself is incredibly inspirational. An excellent writer, Jen published the successful book Generation EX in 2004. But at a time when she should have been enjoying her success, Jen was dealt something she never expected: she suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury that changed her life forever. 8 years later, she is now not only living with her TBI but thriving. I literally cannot list all of the awesome things this woman does! Jen has since written a children’s book and built an entirely environmentally and ADA-friendly dream home with her husband (read her chronicles on her blog here).. not to mention her cooking adventures, her insanely awesome organization skills, and the devoted tireless love she gives to her family and friends. I am so glad to have met her in our December 2008 Mommies group (our sons were born one day apart!). So, before I can even accept the Very Inspiring Blogger Award she presented me, I have to in turn hand it right back to her. Jen, you are amazing!
Now to share 7 interesting things about myself… hmm. Define interesting! I’ll give you random…
- I hate the words meal, moist, and ditto. Like, they literally make me cringe. They just sound wrong. Seriously, say them out loud right now and tell me they don’t sound weird. See?!
- I am simultaneously type-A-list-making organized and let-the-laundry-pile-up messy.
- I LOVE live music. Give me a concert ticket and I suddenly morph into a magnified version of myself.
- I never learned to swim properly, although I grew up at the beach and wakeboarding on the lake. I know enough to not drown, but can’t swim a lap.
- I am quite shy and quiet when you first meet me, but once I get comfortable you can’t shut me up. Especially if I’m tired or have had a glass of wine :P
- I really suck at the telephone. Maybe it stems from growing up in a household that screened all calls via an answering machine, but I literally have a hard time answering the phone. I’m getting better though!
- I have a soft spot for Grandpas.
Now, for the 7 bloggers who inspire me! Well, you already heard about one — the lovely Jen! Here are 6 more to check out (in no particular order):
- Erika at Chambanachik — This woman is so wonderful. Despite everything she has faced and currently endures as a mama and military wife, Erika oozes optimism and grace. Her truth and beauty shines in her raw, emotional words.
- Jayme at Faith Like a Mustard Seed — Jayme is an absolute beauty in every sense of the word! She shines God’s love in every aspect of her life, including the arduous moments along her journey to become a mother. Her faith moves me!
- Brenda at Brenda Lee Free — I am blessed to call this beautiful woman my friend! She also suffered the loss of her husband in 2009 and the strength, insight, and positivity with which she has traveled her journey inspires me so much.
- Kelle at Enjoying the Small Things — If you haven’t read Kelle’s blog, where have you been?! She chronicles her life as a mama of two (one with special needs) with such positivity and joy, you can’t help but be drawn in.
- Nici at Dig This Chick — Nici slays me with her perspective on the world and her pure happiness. An earth-mama in all sense of the word, she has a deep love for her family, her home, and her land that inspires me.
- All of the bloggers at Widows Voice — 7 beautiful souls, 7 journeys of loss and rebirth, 7 days a week. This blog doesn’t need much more explanation. Knowing you are not alone is the most inspiring thing of all. <3 <3
I just put my kiddo to bed a baby… and he will wake a school boy. Tomorrow my precious Little Man starts preschool at Montessori.
in what feels like the blink of an eye.
Grief robbed me of so many days, I feel like I need a do-over. Where did the time go? How did we get from NICU release and medications and monitors at home for months, to “I can do it Mommy!” and lunchboxes and backpacks and SCHOOL? I feel like I have a vague recollection of crawling and babbling, first words and first steps… and a hazy rendering of potty training and counting and ABC’s. But it all went too fast, in a period of time when I was too numb, and now that I have clarity again I am waking up to a time that seems slightly fractured.
And at the same time, I feel selfish to have such greed for his presence. At least I am here with him, to see his smile and feel his hugs and hear his laughter, to experience the wonder that is a child of my own flesh, to witness the daily unfolding of our little miracle: an experience that his father was not afforded. Emotional turmoil or not, The Hubs would have given anything to be with his boy, to experience even a slight part of what we have lived in the last 35 months.
I am so excited for our Little Man. I love his enthusiasm, his eagerness, his aptitude and possibilities. Seeing him so hopeful and thirsty for knowledge and experience makes my heart swell. He is ready for this next step and I know he is going to thrive. That passion and potential is what every parent wants their child to feel and embrace. But it is so hard to know it is the first step that will carry him away on his journey to independence. I know that this new chapter will be so great for him, and ultmately that is all that I care about…
But I miss my baby. I miss the time I didn’t get to fully embrace. And as we enter a new season, I mourn for the ones past that I feel I didn’t get to soak in. And I mourn for the next milestone that his father won’t get to experience.
Happy 1st day of school, Little Man. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you. <3
A quick update on my last post — thank you everyone for reading and sharing the love of little Gavin! Of their $17,000 fundraising goal to get Gavin home, the Thomas family is only $4500 away from being completely funded! As L said herself, “God is amazing!” Ten for Orphans just wrapped up their fundraising campaign with this message: ”Gavin’s fundraiser ended at $11,075.39! During the month of July, through all of us working together, $8,536.94 came in for Gavin! THANK YOU!” Seriously. Thank you guys. I know some of you reached out to help this family and it means so very much. If you feel led, you can still donate on Ten for Orphans or on the Thomas family’s blog to help them with the last portion of their funding. They are all set to bring Gavin home in September or October!
I’m taking a few moments tonight for deep calming breaths and solitude. It’s been a crazy few weeks. Life is picking up pace these days and, while I have found myself occasionally winded, for the most part I am running with ease and abandon. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have my groove back. I’m in control again, I’ve got this. It’s a wonderful feeling to feel like yourself again.
A little over a week ago, July 25th, 2012, marked what would have been 9 years of marriage for The Hubs and I. While I definitely experienced moments of disbelief and sorrow, life graciously kept me busy with unforeseen distractions that day. It wasn’t until a few days later, while traveling to photograph a dear friend’s wedding, that the full magnitude of the anniversary really hit me. And although I mourned for all that we’ve lost, I found myself smiling more than crying. Grinning as I remembered the beauty and magic of that day, laughing at the joy we felt and innocence we held, smiling at the years of beautiful memories I am so thankful to hold within. July 25th will always bear an unspeakable significance to me. And I am grateful to have commemorated this one with more smiles than tears.
I am also thankful for the beauty I witnessed during that meaningful weekend. I haven’t really touted it on this blog but some of you may know I am a photographer. (You can view my un-updated-but-soon-to-be-revamped website here.) I had the pleasure of traveling to Maryland a little over a week ago to capture the wedding of a beautiful couple, M and R.
Ms. M…oh what I could say about her! M and I met in February at a retreat for military widows. By God’s hand, we were assigned as roommates last minute and immediately bonded from the moment we met. This lovely lady became an instant best friend; we talked for hours and understood each other so well. Jumping out of an airplane together and sharing a few cocktail evenings solidified our forever friendship! You see, M is also a military widow. Her former husband, an AFC in the Air Force, died in 2001 when their daughter was very young. 11 years later, M is an incredible inspiration. She has trekked every mile of her journey with courage, strength, and grace, and has discovered happiness along the way in the steps of her past, present, and future. She is successful and driven, an incredible mother, and now a beautiful wife in an amazing relationship. Witnessing her special day and capturing the grandeur of M and R filled me with happiness for her, and I selfishly admit, for myself as well. The love she shares with R is inspirational and gives me hope that my own Chapter Two might exist out there somewhere. There has to be significance in the timing of the weekend… I believe God wanted me to witness such a touching experience at a sententious time for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, I am content. But even more so, I am thankful to see a wonderful woman so happy. I just love this chick! Congratulations M and R! Your phtos are coming soon ;)
In the week that I’ve been home since, nearly every moment not taken by homework (seriously, this Master’s program is intense.. I should really share soon) has been filled with preparations for the upcoming school year…. That’s right, my Little Man is starting school. I can’t believe it and honestly, I am struggling with it. His orientation is this Friday and I’m counting down the days to the first day of school as if my boy were moving away to college or something. I won’t go into it all now… this mama’s thoughts need an entire blog post to sort!
This soothing music, along with thoughts of a glass of wine, is calling to me. Life is changing. Right now. Right this very moment, I can feel it in every fiber of my being. Transformation is all around me and I am embracing it. I am on the cusp of evolution; I can feel the slight rustle of the page beginning to turn. I thank the Lord for His timing, for calling my soul back to where it belongs before this shift in seasons, so that I may fully experience, embrace, and encourage every moment of metamorphosis. I wish the same for each of you reading this, whatever your rebirth may be. <3
There are times in our lives when we wish we could do something amazing for someone. In those moments, it’s so important to remember that even the smallest gestures can have a great impact. I am praying for that for a friend of mine and her family.
I’ve known this fellow military wife since Little Man was a teeny baby. We met online, brought together by our struggles to conceive a child and our love for cloth-diapering, and she was part of an amazing community that rallied around me to show overwhelming support when The Hubs died. I’ve met some of the most wonderful mothers and women in these close-knit online groups, bound together by common interest, and they’ve become dear friends even if we haven’t met or get to talk much.
When I found out that L and her family were going through a unique situation, I knew I wanted to give back to her like she and others gave to me. It was time for that small gesture that grants big things.
L and her husband have discussed adoption for many years. Married for 10 years and blessed with 3 beautiful children of their own, they nurture a loving environment in which they desire to bring another child.
After her husband’s experiences in the military in third-world countries, they felt called to pursue international adoption. And with L’s experiences as an RN, they knew they were able to care for a differently-abled child that may have medical concerns. After viewing Reece’s Rainbow for many months and dutifully praying, they knew they had met the next member of their family: the adorable 5-year-old Gavin.
Gavin is a ‘cheery and affectionate’ little boy who is very social and has the cutest smile. L and the Thomas family began the process to bring Gavin home in February and are now in the final stages of their journey. Unfortunately, Gavin has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 renal failure. It is literally now a race against the clock to get Gavin home in time to receive a kidney transplant to save his life. With everything approved, the only thing standing between Gavin and his new home and health is funding.
This is where we come in, guys. That small gesture? If each of us offer it, we could have a huge impact on the life of this little boy. Ten for Orphans is currently sponsoring Gavin and helping the Thomas family seek donations to cover the last $9,000 needed to bring Gavin home. Whether you can give $5, $10, or $100, it will add up to allow this sweet boy to join his new family and receive the procedure needed to give him a full life.
If you’d like to be a guardian angel to this adorable boy and sweet family, please hear my heartfelt call for action. You can visit the Thomas family’s blog Give4Gavin to follow their story, view Gavin’s information on Reece’s Rainbow, or see his sponsorship page on Ten for Orphans. You can also view the interview the family had with their local news today or visit L’s Facebook page. Let’s combine our small gestures in a big way to forever change the lives of a few beautiful people.
My prayers are with you, L and the Thomas family. Your faith and obedience to God’s calling are inspiring, and I wish you and Gavin all of the beauty in the world!