Joy (Take 2)

I am in a second marriage.  I was widowed in 2005.  In 2015, I married my dearest friend who had been divorced for a few years.  He was also a good friend to my late husband.  We now have a blended family with five kids:  the oldest is 28 and the youngest is 18.  They’ve know each other through the years as they grew up in church together.

Marriage the 2nd time around is familiar and different all at the same time.

I married Terry in 1987.  We were in our late 20’s.  We thought we knew everything.  We did everything together, even grocery shopping.  Having lived on my own for 5 years, it took a bit of adjustment to have someone there all of the time.  But, we adjusted to life together in our little one bedroom apartment.  We learned to love together.  We learned to disagree with each other.  We learned to give up expectations and live for today.  We learned to parent together.  We grew together in our love of family and our love of God.  And then, he was gone.  I mourned the loss of my best friend, my husband, and my dreams for many years.

I’ve never understood when I hear negative comments about marriage.  I was told once after Terry died,  that I was lucky I didn’t have to put up with a man any longer.  (I definitely didn’t agree!)  I’ve listened to comments about the “poor saps” that were getting married soon and how foolish they were.  I couldn’t comprehend “out-growing” my husband and moving on to greener pastures.  How do you out-grow someone with whom you are growing daily?  Couples that lived very separate lives always mystified me.    Terry and I had our own careers.  And, we were sometimes separated due to traveling for work.  But, I talked to him every night regardless of our locations.  While I might enjoy a day or two of being able to “do my own thing”, I counted the days until we were both home together again.  And, I think he did too.   Anytime Terry and I were in the same room, people knew we were together.  He was my husband and I was his wife. I wanted every person around us to know that.  I was proud to be married to him.   Life wasn’t easy.  We struggled with finances and work options.  There were extended family issues that affected our little family.  In later years, there were health issues to consider.  But, we had committed to God and to each other to see it through until the end.  We were together!

I married Tim in 2015.  Being married in our 50’s is an experience.  We both brought our own baggage into our marriage.  We’ve endured the buying, remodeling and selling of a home,  the buying and remodeling of another home, unemployment and the resulting financial problems, legal issues, the start-up our own business, joining a new church and just learning to be married to each other.  We’ve both had to stop filtering every comment and action through our previous life experiences.  I’m still working on my own insecurities and finding my place in our life together and with our children in this new family model.

There are always challenges in blending families.  Regardless of the age of the children in a blended family there are issues.   Jealousy about who likes who better.  Protectiveness of “my mom” or “my dad”.  While we strive to build new family traditions, there is pain as the old traditions are changed or even replaced.  Each child has different expectations for family life.  There have been tears and complaints, hurt feelings and joy since our marriage.   I expect that to continue as we grow together.

I adore being married to Tim.  At the same time, there are times that I still mourn for Terry and the things I miss sharing with him: our son, Zac’s wedding, the birth of Zac’s son, Gracie’s graduation from college and the purchase of her first home,  etc.  I also walk into unknown territory as a step-mom:  Where do I fit?  How involved is too involved?

The joys far out-weigh the trials.  Maybe because I’ve endured the loss of a husband, I truly treasure my time with Tim.  My views haven’t really changed.  I still believe marriage is for a life-time.  I still believe that we are to “become one” in every way. There is no “out-growing” each other.    I still believe in unconditional love.  I believe I have been incredibly blessed to find such a deep and abiding love the 2nd time around.  I still get butterflies when I hear his voice.  I still count the days, the hours and the minutes when we are separated.  To walk into a room holding my husband’s hand, is still one of the greatest thrills for me.  I can find the happiness we all say we want, because of the joy and peace that I have in my marriage today.

I am so glad I was given a chance at joy the second time around.

Disrupted

I had a plan for today. But, the neighbors decided to have a yard sale, so mowing and edging and that unattractive sweaty stuff would have to wait. Instead, I got my coffee and breakfast and drove to a local park. I sat under the trees and listened to the birds sing. Memories flashed through my mind of my kids on this very play area. This was a favorite place for our family.

I watched a squirrel searching the ground. I wished for my binoculars while trying to identify a little black and white bird. I hardly noticed when the tears started to roll. Tears for the great memories made here. Tears for the unknown that is yet to come. Tears for friends that are hurting right now, for the hurts that cannot be removed.

Some days feel impossible, overwhelming. Plans are disrupted. Life is changed for now and forever. How do you keep going? Sometimes, it takes a moment in the park. Just remembering, taking the time to dream and trying to see hope in the distance.

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A New Year

A new year. A new start. Well, sort of. It’s still the same life, the same job, the same issues. There’s nothing magic about January 1. But, it’s a starting point to think about changes. And a time to look back.

I saw “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” yesterday. It was a good movie. I left the theater thinking about the past: my kids past. In the movie, Walter’s life was altered by the death of his father. Dreams and adventures were set aside so he could be responsible. Through most of the movie I kept wondering what dreams my son pushed aside after his dad died.

I’ve watched Zac’s struggle with teenage dreams and adult responsibility. I’m very proud of the young man he has become. But I wonder where he would be if he still had his dad’s encouragement and leadership. Yes, I’m having some
‘what if’ and ‘if only’ moments.

I can’t change the past. And worrying about it isn’t an option either. I’ve shed tears over what will never be. I hope and pray that, like Walter Mitty, Zac realizes his dreams and understands how important he is to the people around him.

Happy New Year!

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? (Isaiah 43:18/19 MSG)

Dreams

I dreamed about you. You were laughing and having so much fun. The jokes were as bad as ever. The laughter just as loud. It was so normal to be with you again. It was so vivid and real.

And then it was morning. It took me a few minutes to decide what was dreaming and what was reality. I looked around to find you and be assured that you were real. I just wanted to be held and loved.

You weren’t there. I only had your pictures and our memories. Since that night, it’s like losing you all over again. The sorrow has been so vivid and fresh. I can’t seem to move past the memories, past the yearning of my heart. I search for your face in the crowds. I look for you in the empty rooms of our home. I beg the phone to ring so I can hear your voice.

But then, I remember that you’re dead and buried. For almost eight years, I’ve lived without your smile, without your laughter, without you. I won’t find you in the crowds and your voice is forever silent. I’ve learned to laugh again. I’ve learned what it means to live life fully without your love and assurances. But sometimes its just too hard. I miss you.

I dreamed about you.

better dreams. . .

We tell our children, “You can be anything you want to be!” And as children, we dream of being an astronaut, a doctor, a teacher, the president, a star, Cinderella, all sorts of things. We play in our make-believe worlds where mommy’s and daddy’s are always happy and the children smart and well-behaved. We stand in front of mirrors singing in to the hairbrush/microphone while we imagine wild applause from the huge audience. We dream about traveling thru jungles or space or living in the old West. We invent the best thing, cure the worst disease, save the most lives in our dreams. And, we imagine meeting Mr. or Ms. Right and falling in love and living happily ever after in our wonderful & beautiful mansion.

And then we get older. The dreams are squelched a bit by reality. It takes HOW long to become a doctor? Close quarters cause my claustrophobia to rage, so an astronaut it out. We see families disintegrate before us over lack of money and disinterest. We’re told we’re ‘average’ at best, so get the stars out of your head. And, we still imagine meeting Mr. or Ms. Right and falling in love and living happily ever after in our large family home.

And then we are adults and reality is harsh. We no longer dream about what we will do with our lives. We just get up each day and get thru it. We have moments of greatness in our everyday lives, but wonder where the loudly applauding audience went. We compete with our co-workers, our peers, our friends to be better: a better employee, a better parent and spouse, a success. And, sometimes, we meet Mr. or Ms. Right or think we have to settle for Mr/Ms ThisWillDo and fall into debt trying to live up to what the world says we have to have. Some of us struggle to have children. Some of us struggle to stop having children. Most of us struggle with our lovely, not always happy, sometimes well-behaved little darlings and all their wants and dreams. And we wonder where are our dreams? Is this all there is?

Often we get caught up in the race to get there (wherever “there” is) and we forget where we are. There are dreams still to be had. We just have to look a little harder. It may mean letting go of some expectations we have put out there. You will never live the life of Cinderella with her Prince. But who wants to live a life in glass slippers? They aren’t comfortable at all. Maybe simple and everyday is much more interesting and livable. So what if you never get your name in lights or invent some great cure? Can you say you lived your life well? Did you do the best that you could do?

Don’t give up on dreams. Find those places that made your dream and go there. There are God-sized dreams waiting. We just have to be ready to find them. And, dare to dream again.

Dreaming

I don’t like to fail.  I don’t like to look silly.  As a result, I very rarely attempt anything unless I have a pretty good idea that I will do well at it.  I’ve been told I probably missed out on a lot of fun things, but I just saw no need to take a chance on failure.  As an adult, I find that I have a similar response to setting goals.  This year has been no different.   At work and in private, I’m being urged (and in some cases required) to set goals.  I. Hate. It.  Everything I read, seems to ask:  “What is your purpose?”  “What is your dream?” or “What is your goal?”  And every time, I draw a blank.  I just don’t know.  Is that bad? I put off any required goal setting  to the very last-minute.  I don’t want to fail, so I don’t want to document the possibility of failure.  Why take a chance? 

Several years ago, a friend asked me where I wanted to be in five years.  I was recently widowed and could honestly say that every goal or dream I had for the future was buried with my husband.  I had a hard time seeing into the next week, much less imagining the next five years.  In fact, the very idea of the future was just too painful at that time.  So, I stopped dreaming.  I stopped planning.  I just moved from one day to the next.  I guess I didn’t totally stop all planning.  I still had to manage  a household.  I had kids that needed support and guidance.  But, my goals were often day-to-day survival.  I’ve progressed to a little more long-term planning.  But sometimes, I think I’ve forgotten how to dream.

 A recent blog by Holley Gerth, has challenged me to find my God-sized dream.  I honestly don’t know what that dream  looks like in my life.  I’m asking to God to show me my dream, to give me the courage to actually dream.  Am I brave enough to dream again?  Am I willing to look silly in order to dream? Am I truly ready to expose my heart again to dreams and goals that  may result in pain along the way?  I think I am.  I hope I am.