"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.

*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***

http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"

Monday, July 30, 2012

Family Vacation - Check!

Well, it's been my goal to have a vacation this summer with my daughters - and I can cross that off my list now.  We had a great vacation to Southern California, and did all the usual stuff people do when visiting there - Disneyland, California Adventure Park, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm and SeaWorld.  You can read all about it in my new blog (yeah, decided to put up a new blog about traveling with kids, etc.)

Travel Mom

Please check it out and tell me what you think.  Any ideas or tips you have for traveling with kids, family vacations, etc?  Please share!  I would love to hear from you.  :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Gotta Get Me Some Stilettos

I am sharing with you a great book that I read recently.  If you are a widow (or know a widow) you will want to read this book (or share it with your friend.)  Here it is:

This is a great book - very honest about what it's like to be a young widow who is raising children.  Here are some of the reviews for the book, taken from the Amazon.com website:

"Carole Brody Fleet is changing the face and style of widowhood. It's a very unique look at an unusual problem these days that is affecting a lot of women." - Deborah Roberts, Correspondent, ABC News', "Good Morning America Now"

"Motivational speaker and coach Fleet, who was widowed at 40 and has since made numerous guest appearances on television and radio, offers a guide for women who have also experienced the loss of a partner at a young age. Fleet's presentation is frank and interspersed with bits of honest humor. The text is easy to read, with charts and tips sprinkled throughout. Fleet, with psychotherapist Harriet, provides information on how to organize details such as funeral arrangements, wills, social security, and insurance at a time when organization is the last thing a new widow may want to face. She discusses emotional, physical, and spiritual health and finishes by focusing on living the rest of your life. This is a book about hope, and women will want to read it and share it with others, regardless of marital status or age. An essential addition to every public library" - The Library Journal

"[The] author has created a wise and practical guide for young widows on how to recover, cope, heal, and find a fulfilling life." - Orange Coast Magazine

"Carole Brody Fleet offers advice and humor in the book,' Widows Wear Stilettos...' to help young widows cope with loss." - The Orange County Register

"A young widow holds out a helping hand to others who have lost their husbands" - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Most of the books that deal with widows and "widow-hood" that I have heard about or checked out from the library are geared toward those who are widowed later in life, whose children are grown and out of the house.  This book is unique in being practical and yet sensitive to the concerns of younger widows.  There are many stigmas still associated with being a widow, especially when you are "younger"  (can I still count myself a a "young widow?"  I guess according to this book I can.)

My biggest "take away" from reading this book was to remember that there are many "armchair quarterbacks" out there that have lots of advice - but you need to trust your own instincts and your heart.  Grief is a tricky emotion and only YOU can (and should) make the choices about what's best for you.  And it gives you practical tips about dealing with some common problems associated with navigating this time of grief.  Let me know what you think about the book!  :)

Here is Carol's blog as well:  Widows Wear Stilettos blog

Why is this so tough?!

Why is it so difficult to have a regular mealtime?!  We use to do that.  We used to have a regular time when we would sit down together for a meal.  Breakfast used to be a no-brainer.  I had that handled from early on when the girls started school.  Robby never had breakfast with us because he was usually out of the house early for work, and not much of a breakfast eater anyway. But it was heathy and on the table before the girls left for school.  And dinner, although sometimes hit and miss, was usually accomplished with a minimum of fuss.  We managed to spend most nights eating dinner around the same time, even if it wasn't always while gathered around the dining room table.  So what has happened to this once-capable mom?

I am told by the experts (whose helpful advice I read in so many books on death/grief/loss) that it's one of those things that happens when your world is uprooted like ours.  And yet having a schedule and routines is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your child, especially when things are in an upheaval.  Aaargh!

Here's what THEY say (you know - the experts):

"Create Structure -
Structure can be a huge source of comfort for kids. Do what you can to stabilize your routines, including your kids' nightly bedtime routine1, so that they'll have a general idea of what to expect from one moment to the next. Simple consistencies like serving meals at the same time each day can also help to create a stable atmosphere even while your emotions remain turbulent."

I try - honest, I do.  Menu plans have been researched and printed.  They don't last long; that's just not how we roll.  We are more of a "seat of the pants" family at the moment.  Whatever is in the fridge or cupboards is fair game for mealtimes.  Healthy eating is an elusive dream most of the time, although I honestly do try.

Bedtime has been easier to maintain.  For whatever reason that is an area where we are able to stay structured.  And that has been good for Rachel, even though she has been more anxious about me leaving the room at night when I tuck her in bed.  She gets out of bed more often with the usual myriad of excuses - not every night, but more often than she would normally.  And it seems like the only time she wants to talk about what's bothering her is at bedtime - and I hate to cut her off when she is trying to share with me something of importance.  Overall however, bedtime is the least of my worries.

We are in a state of flux right now - and have been for awhile.  And I guess that's OK - for now.  The watchword these days is "adapt."  We extend ourselves grace, and know that we may never even come close to being a normal family again.  But we do alright.  I suppose if by "normal" you mean functioning, then we are doing just fine.  Considering everything, we do indeed manage to hold it together.  And it does get better - I am counting on that, as I hold onto God's promises for all of us.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Slowing Down - Learning to Balance

It's been tempting to try to maintain our usual hurried pace this past year.  But I have learned a BIG lesson - we need to take time to heal, and that means slowing down.  If we are going to allow God to heal us individually and as a family we must give Him the time and space that He needs to accomplish that.  But you'd think I had never heard the verse, "Be still and know that I am God."  (Psalm 46:10)

I wonder if I have been running away from my grief, trying to bury it in a rush of activities?  You are supposed to try to maintain routines and schedules while you are grieving, to have a sense of normalcy after a tragic event.  This helps to stabilize us and gives us comfort.  But at times I think I have used that advice as an excuse.

I need to learn balance in this area.  I am just now (a year after Robby's death) realizing that I need to work at slowing down more often.  I guess I have always subscribed to the idea that you should "burn out instead of rust out."  Now I know that neither is a good option.

I have allowed Rachel and Becky more time and space to slow down than I have allowed myself.  I figured they would let their grief and subsequent healing guide how much they wanted to be involved in as far as activities, school events, family events, etc.  And that has worked very well.  They tell me when enough is enough, they don't feel like attending a certain event or activity.  Rachel used to take dance classes - every year for the past 3 years or so.  This fall when sign-ups came around she wasn't interested, so we dropped it and I didn't push.  Now that we are in summer vacation, she is asking what kind of sports or activities she can sign up for in the fall.  She needed this school year to get back some balance, and to push back from what may have been too much activity.

I haven't extended myself that same courtesy, it seems.  At least as far as guilt-ing myself into doing it all.  I have been trying to maintain the same pace as always, and feeling guilty whenever I didn't meet my own insane standards. 

I find myself now becoming more picky about the social activities in which I take part.  And I am (FINALLY) not feeling guilty about that.  Before, if I chose to turn down an invitation I would stay home - and feel guilty.  Now I can just stay home - and leave off the guilt.  Yeah for me!  I'm learning.  :)

I never used to get up early just to have time to myself.  But now I find I am enjoying getting up earlier and having a quiet house to myself, whether that's to read a chapter in a book or just enjoy a cup of tea - or both.  I am finding such a blessing in slowing down and taking quiet time just for myself.  The healing is occurring.  :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gotta love the family!

One thing that I am finding to be very helpful in dealing with my grief and the grief of my daughters is my family members, and our closeness - not just in proximity, but emotionally, too.  We have always been a close-knit family and I am so thankful for that now.

It's tough being the only parent.  I am the most important adult in my daughters' lives right now, and that can feel overwhelming at times.  There is no one to "back me up" when it's time for discipline, and no one to share the joys and small victories with either.  It is very lonely being a widow.  Sure, during the day there is lots of hustle and activity. Lots to be done and distractions are easy to come by.  But when the house gets quiet and dark - that's a different story.  My tears tend to catch up with me in the shower, when I am getting ready for bed each night.

It's important for my daughters (and for me) to have other adults in their lives to help and support them over this difficult time.  And let's not kid ourselves - "this difficult time" is going to be around for awhile.  Every time there is a new milestone reached, there will also be a look backward, wishing that Dad was here to be a part of it.  We carry that loss forward with us from now on.

But having their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins close at hand helps to let them know they are not alone, and there are others looking out for them as well.  One of Rachel's biggest fears has been that something would happen to me - that she would lose BOTH her parents.  Making sure she knows that there are family members that love her and would take care of her, should something happen to me, has helped a little to allay her fears.

We are blessed to have my brother, my sister and her husband, my parents, and close family friends whom we consider family all nearby.  The guys are on call whenever I need help with the lawnmower, or a garden tilled, or advice on how to pressure wash the house or start the Traeger grill.  And there are cousins nearby for the girls to hang out with, and enjoy some time away from Mom and her harping at them.  :)

You can't pick your family - God does that for you.  I think He did a pretty good job in my case - I feel very blessed!

Monday, July 2, 2012

In case you were wondering ...

About the title of this blog.  You already must have guessed that this is about grief and loss, and surviving all the challenges and changes associated with that state of being.  So it probably won't surprise you to find that the Bible verse referenced in the title is about widows and the fatherless:

Psalm 68:5

New International Version (NIV)
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling. 

OK, that takes care of the verse part.  Here is the definition of "Restoral":

: an act of restoring or the condition of being restored: as a: a bringing back to a former position or condition : reinstatement <the restoration of peace> b: restitution c: a restoring to an unimpaired or improved condition

It's a noun, and means restoration, but it's an older form of the word.  And I like old words.  :)

So my daughters and I are trusting God for these promises:  that He will be a father to them now that their earthly father is no longer here, and that God will also be my protector and defender.  AND because of His great love, He will restore to us what has been lost, over and above what we expect or deserve.  How's that for a great promise!

So there you have it - why this blog is called what it's called.

New Beginnings at mid-year

This is a new beginning for me.  July 2nd, 2012.  It's been just over a year since my husband, Robby, passed away and I became a widow.  I am hoping this blog can benefit not only me, but others as well.  For me, I want this to allow me to work through some things as I slowly "hunt and peck" out my feelings and struggles.  And believe me, when you are raising a young child (and a not-so-young child) as a single mom after 20 years of marriage - there will be struggles.  Lots of them.

For others, maybe this can become a window into what it's like to put the pieces back together again.  Trying to make all the right choices, and shouldering all the consequences alone.  God has taught me so much over the past year - well, two years actually.  Ever since Robby was diagnosed with a brain tumor in June 2010, and then his passing in June 2011 and the year since then, my dependence upon God has deepened tremendously.

We had a BBQ over the weekend that mirrored the BBQ we had last year after Robby's memorial service.  Robby passed away on Father's Day last year - needless to say, June was a tough month for my daughters and I this year.  But his birthday was June 30th so we had his memorial service, followed by a BBQ for family and close friends, on that day last year.  This year we repeated the BBQ and were blessed to have several family members join us.  Earlier in the day the girls each made a stepping stone in honor of their dad for the new flower garden we are planting.

It's been a year of great changes.  Well, great as in BIG, not great as in good.  But overall, we have made it through the year in the best shape possible.  It's still a long road - contrary to popular belief, there is no set time limit on grief.  Grief continues to haunt for a long time, although things do get easier (THEY say) as time goes on.  All the first-year anniversaries and milestones have passed.  We are settling into our "new normal" - seems like our normal changes periodically.  Just as soon as we would get used to changes in Robby illness that first year and adapt to those, something else would happen and we would have to adapt again.  And the past year without him has been no exception.  Change is the rule around here, but we are not a Marine wife/daughters for nothing - we improvise, we adapt, we overcome.  Life goes on, and we know that God holds us in the palm of His hand.