Christmas

Christmas, as well as the rest of the holidays ended up less difficult than I expected. But, in retrospect, I’m not surprised. When it comes to the grief, it’s more about the loss in my normal daily routine, and less about a day or two out of the year that was out of the ordinary. Granted, it’s still not easy, and there are a lot of special memories tied to Christmas due to the specialty of those days, but I think I probably already dealt with a lot of those feelings before the day came.

However, I am less than satisfied with the amount of preparing I feel like I did. I’ve had a lot of people asking me if we started any new traditions or things like that. I’m sad to say that we didn’t start anything that I think will particularly “stick” in future years. I feel like I didn’t give it enough thought and in some ways want a do-over.

What we did do was to attempt to read the Christmas story out of the kids’ Bible and then talk a little bit about Mommy. The kids were so distracted, though, it was more a practice in patience for me as I talked about Mommy through misty eyes. I then lit a candle to represent Mommy’s presence as we opened presents. Thanks to a suggestion from someone, I was able to designate a couple gifts as coming from Mommy, which I think is a fabulous idea that I plan to use in the future. The “Mommy” gifts this year weren’t purchased with that in mind, unfortunately, so I think that lessened the meaning it had for me; and the kids didn’t really connect with the sentiment, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

I guess to think about it now, I realize how disappointed I am in myself and how much I don’t stack up to Stephanie. She was always the one to plan all the gifts and she planned things out so wonderfully. She had a great gift idea for nearly everyone on our list and she would wrap each one with such care and beauty and personalize it in some way. I know there’s no way I can match what she did, but I really feel like I dropped the ball on Christmas.

I know I might be expecting a lot from myself less than 2 1/2 months after my wife died, but I know myself and can’t help but fear that I won’t give it my best if I don’t expect a lot from myself. I don’t want to take the chance of getting into a habit of doing the bare minimum. And I want to honor Stephanie and try to carry on her legacy. I don’t feel like I did that this Christmas, that’s for sure.

Peaceful Home

Stephanie’s dream for our home was that it would be a place of peace and rest for people. She wanted all who entered to leave feeling restored and at rest in their spirits. And she wanted that for all of us. Her kids would grow up in a warm, safe, and peaceful home where they could take refuge from the world. And I would be able to come home from work and shed the burdens of the day and be ready for the next day. This was one of her many missions as a housewife. She made such a godly pursuit out of creating a home for us to live in. It was so much her life dream and she did everything to attain that.

Some of the women in our families have done similar, and I know she learned so much from them. In addition to them, I have learned so much from Stephanie. Because I’m not Stephanie, though, I pray so hard that I can maintain that air of peacefulness and rest in my home. It’s easy to be afraid that I might not live up to what she has created for us. She had that sensitive spirit that could really feel the Holy Spirit, and I don’t have that the way she did. It was her spiritual gift to be able to discern spirits, and I miss that. I depended on her for that so much. But I just hope that I can use what I do have to keep our household just as she kept it.

I do pray that people would be able to come to my home and feel that rest and peace. It’s something I always wanted along with Stephanie, and it’s certainly something I will still strive for constantly.

Thanksgiving

I realized that I never mentioned anything about how Thanksgiving went for me. A lot of that has to do with how the days have gone since then – they’ve been busy and I end my day just needing to do nothing besides maybe watch TV.

Overall, Thanksgiving went pretty well. My mom put out a candle and lit it before we prayed. I’m so thankful that she did that and thought of it. It’s a great way to remember her, and yet I hadn’t even thought about it. At that point, though, I started weeping pretty hard and just had to put my head down and let the tears fall. I certainly didn’t eat as much as I have in past years. Later that day, we played a card game, which was great because I love games and had fun with that. The day ended pretty uneventfully.

The next day was spent at home putting up the tree and a few other decorations, which also went surprisingly well for the most part. Strangely enough, the hard part for me during the day was not the Christmas decorations. It came at a moment where I was looking for the last box of ornaments that I had missed during my earlier journeys to the attic. I saw a box which contained a large Jim Shore pumpkin that Stephanie got from my parents last year for her birthday. Having a fall birthday, it was always her favorite time of year and she had so much joy putting up fall decorations. Seeing this pumpkin made me remember her excitement about such things and that she never got to put up those decorations this year. She only had one year to enjoy this pumpkin that she was so excited to get, and that had me weeping in the attic for a little bit.

The rest of the weekend was spent seeing “Tangled” with the kids and their cousins, hanging out with friends and their kids, and getting pictures taken. I’m happy to say that it really did go pretty well.

Regarding the pictures, I had a couple 8x10s printed of Stephanie in order for us to include them in our shots. Halle took notice and was all about touching the picture and smiling at Mommy. She looked at me to hear me tell her that it was Mommy. It was sweet and she was just happy to see Mommy’s face. I was unsure if she would get upset, but she didn’t. I have every intention of getting some photo books for the kids, and this just affirms that idea.

So many people showed so much love for me at such a time, and I appreciate it so much. I do hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving spent with family and that it was a time to relax and just enjoy your loved ones. I know the holidays can be stressful with family, but I pray that Thanksgiving and the future holidays can be a time of happiness with your families and appreciation for having them.

Pictures

Photographs were a big deal to Stephanie. They were so important, in fact, that her “push present” for having Halle was family pictures, and that was all she wanted. Thanks to a friend of ours, we have some beautiful pictures from that time. I’m so glad for her always working for us to take and have lots of pictures because now I have so many memories to look back on during our life together.

I keep finding reason to revisit our collection of pictures. Usually, it’s to remember how Stephanie put the house together for things such as Christmas. Unfortunately, I find it absolutely gut-wrenching as I scan through the images of her. I always think that this will be the time that it won’t crush me, but I’m always wrong. I often end up finding something that I didn’t even remember. For instance, last night I found some images that she used for birthday/Christmas gift projects she made for me. It was great to see those things again and remember, but it also ripped out my heart as it always does, to be reminded that it’s all over.

But pictures were always important to her. When everything first happened, I had no intention of sending out Christmas cards this year because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing just three of us in the picture. But, soon after, I realized how much I wanted to do those things we’ve always done even as painful as it would be. And, I don’t want to lack pictures from this year because of my grief; that would just cause me more grief years down the road. So, today I had that same friend I mentioned earlier come over to take pictures of me and the kids. Some of the pictures even included a framed photograph of Stephanie. Sending out Christmas cards this year is also kind of my way to praise God for His faithfulness through all of this. I would be giving in to defeat – even if in some small way – to not do something we’ve always done and something in which Stephanie always took great joy. And she always took great joy in our family and sending out that picture to show how good God has been to us. I don’t want this year to be any different.

Grief

I have visited a grief support organization near me a few times now. It’s called Cornerstone of Hope, and was started by a family who lost their 3-year-old son. It is a fabulous place, and I so appreciate the Christian basis they have for everything. Not only that, but they are experts and have all studied grief from the knowledge we have here on earth. When I first visited, they shared with me what grief is and it has made a lot of sense to me as I’ve thought about it. Grief is when our heart doesn’t yet accept the real loss our mind knows.

Since being told this, I have noticed that every time I’m struggling about things, almost immediately I am overwhelmed with the feeling of not believing that this really happened. I just can’t accept it. Obviously, my mind knows the facts. But, there’s still this feeling in my gut that “maybe they were wrong” and that she’s going to walk through the door at any moment, or that my phone will ring and it will be her on the other end. I’ve had dreams where she never died or she comes back to life. In one such dream, she actually sat up in the casket during the wake. (Those dreams don’t necessarily help me, which is not cool, but at least it lets me feel like she’s still with me, at least until I wake up.)

As much as I don’t want to stop believing that she might still be alive, I know that accepting it will play a huge part in healing me from the pain. Accepting it will mean that I have moved through my grief, which is something I desire to do. That’s why I’m going to counseling. I know it would be easy for me to avoid certain thoughts and/or emotions that might hinder me, either preventing me from being emotionally healthy or from being able to serve God fully. That is certainly not what I want. And, with the counselor, I know I will be sure to enter into all those emotions and thoughts so that I deal with them and experience my pain to the fullest.

I’m so glad for the wide range of help and support I’m getting. I have family nearby to help in more ways than imaginable. I have gobs of friends, both offline and online that are praying for me and listening to me and encouraging me. I have more than one church family helping out however they can. I have Cornerstone of Hope providing professional help. And, of course, I have God bringing me through it all, and having a plan for my life. And He’s still using me in ways I don’t often understand, but am very thankful for.

The Proselyte Chick-Fil-A

I have chills. I just read an editorial about Chick-Fil-A by a non-Christian. He had nothing but kind words for the way the restaurant evangelizes its customers – by kindness and not being overbearing about Christianity. This is yet another example of a Roaring Lamb – albeit in the form of a business. It makes me want to own a Chick-Fil-A store and/or eat there every day of my life. I just hope we can all learn to be Christians in the usual, everyday type of things that people take for granted. That’s where Jesus really shines in our lives, as people who are in the dark do not freak out that they’re being evangelized. They just appreciate the nice gesture and write up a glowing review of your restaurant.

Hilarious Wife

North AmericaI love my wife. I really do. Putting aside all the wonderful things she is to me and the joys I get from being married to her, we have great times together. Last night was one such time, and she had me rolling on the floor laughing from a comment she made. I was talking about a new USB port that I was adding to the computer. She knows what I meant, but what did she say to me, but this:

What’s USB? I know that we’re USA. Does that mean USB is Mexico?

I’m sorry if I’m biased, but that is so funny on so many levels that I had to share it online. We’re US A; is Mexico US B. Because Mexico is… they’re B… they… well, you get it. Too funny.

Refresh

Refresh

I started this blog not too long ago mostly because I was excited to see that Blogger had made many significant changes and I am always one to jump on new beta versions. What can I say? I love technology. [update (5/15/07): now I’m using WordPress because it’s better]

Since then, I have been made to rethink my purpose and intentions here, as God has reminded me who I am in Him. Thanks to Boundless and a recent series about blogging, I have decided to proceed forward in a new vein. Most likely, I will still include thoughts and ideas that I have, but hopefully with a new vision in mind – one that is specific to honoring God.

I’m still just a normal guy with his little spot on the internet. But I want it to be obvious that I’m a Christian just as much as I am a guy. I believe in God just as much as I use a computer to blog.

Two Boundless articles really caught my attention:

Blogging: The History and the Spirit talks about the traditional use of blogs – many times it is a place for people to spout off their frustrations or just do something extreme so as to be noticed by the internet community. However, the blogosphere can be used for telling others about Christ just as any other method of communication can be.

Christ seeks us out in interesting ways. Sometimes He uses a friend, sometimes a stranger, sometimes a song on the radio or a book found in a yard sale. We know He uses word of mouth — after all, that’s how He got started. He may even use blogs.

The second article, Blog Responsibly, focused on what we say online. I don’t want to simply resort to first reactions or extreme frustrations and sarcastic comments dispelling things I find. Sure, I’m still going to have fun here and I’m sure that will include sarcasm, but I will be careful not to insult others in doing so. I hope to be held accountable to that by God, myself, and anyone out there reading.

I know this will be a great thing for me and my blog, as I am aiming to please God. What better goal could there be? If it only helps me, I will praise God for that. If others join in, may God receive all the blessing exponentially.

Amen.

Disturbing Results

How far will you go?Someone noted this poll on AOL’s People Connection site. I have to say, I’m incredibly disturbed. Nearly 50% of the population says they’d “go all the way” on their first date. Now, considering the audience of People Connection, that’s not representative of most people, I’m sure. (I hope.) These are most likely the people who are going online to find someone else who will go all the way on their first date. Either way, I’m bothered by it.

What confuses me is the fact that “a kiss on the cheek” comes in second. So, if you’re not will to go all the way, you’re next most likely to kiss your date on the cheek. How’s that for drastic!

We Threw a Rod

I purchased a 1998 Ford Escort a couple months ago. Last month (only a month and a half after getting the car), one of the rods managed to bust through the engine block. I think most people have heard of such a thing happening. But, frankly, I didn’t realize those things still happened. Anytime I think about it, all I can picture is Elwood Blues telling his brother, “We threw a rod,” to which Jake responds, “Is that bad?” Now I can say from experience: that’s bad. Until we pulled out the engine, I didn’t even realize how bad. Now I have proof.

Here’s the side of the engine, with said hole straight through to the piston.

Engine

… and a closer shot of it.

Engine

If that looks bad, it gets better (and by “better,” I mean “worse”) when you take a gander at the bottom.

Engine

And, just for fun, I took some pictures of the car without an engine in it. I think if I remember correctly, I was able to lift this thing with my pinky finger.

Engine
Engine
Engine

Mmmm… radiator.

Engine