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I am often touched by the chapel talks given at Lance’s school & recently one of those talks resonated within my spirit.  One of the teacher’s spoke about the gift of music & the amazing impact that singing & music can have on someone.  Music can be sung & listened to in moments of great joy as well as in moments of great sorrow.  Our family has been impacted by music in both joy & sorrow & every emotion in between.  We decided in 2005 to listen only to Christian music.   We have always had it playing in the car & at home around the clock.  It was an intentional decision to keep our eyes focused on Christ at a very dark time.  Listening to only Christian music did a number of things for us:

1) It kept God’s word ringing in our ears – I would often wake up with a specific song playing over & over again in my head which lifted me up even before placing my feet on the ground.  I would often hear Little Lance whistling songs from KLOVE. I love that he has Christian playlists for when he works out & sees at an early age the importance of allowing God’s gift of music to minster to him now as a teenager.

2) It helped support keeping my moods as level as possible.  If you think about “popular” music (regardless of the decade) typically it triggers one’s mind to jump between emotion to emotion going from music making you want to dance, to be melancholy, to fixate your mind on the wrong things of life whatever they may be and the cycle goes on & on as that music plays.   Much of our music focuses our mind on everything that us unholy, that glorifies a life of no self control.  If you are honest with yourself how much of our music focus on the “wordly things”, think about our children and our teenagers and the impact of songs sung “glorifying” a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll.  I do not make judgements about choices of music that others listen to and there are times that I listen to certain music from the 80’s and 90’s and even current day pop music, however 99% of the time I make a choice to listen to music that lifts my spirits, levels my mood, places my focus on the things Christ would want me to focus on.   I also want my son focused on God’s words as he listens to music and for now at least at the age of 14 that is what he gravitates to.

As I think about music two pieces of scripture come to my mind for our family:

2 Corinthians 10:5:  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Philippians 4:8:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

As children of God we have been given armor by God to defeat the enemy and his attempts to discourage us.  I became aware of this Godly gift of armor given to me initially due to complications in my pregnancy which was followed by my late husband’s diagnosis of cancer when our son turned 1.  As a Christian I could not use human’s tools “of pulling myself up by my bootstraps” to get through, I had to use the armor of God.   A part of that armor was taking my thoughts captive (the best I could which I did NOT do perfectly) but I tried hard to be intentional about certain things & one thing was using the gift of music to help us sustain our faith, give us hope & remind us of God’s amazing love for us.

I remember blogging about this on CarePages & receiving a text from a friend struggling with depression & encouraged her to listen to only Christian music for 30 days.   A month later she called me & while she still struggled she shared with me how listening to only Christian music had a profound impact on her struggle.

This is why the recent chapel speaker’s story resonated with me as he spoke about the healing that can come from God through music as well as “the gift of ONE moment” that can come from a person.  He spoke of his experience when music ministered to him during a time of mourning as well as his experience of the “gift of one moment” given to him by one person who made “one comment” that changed the trajectory of his life in an amazing way.

I have had so many of those moments, some have come through music & some of those moments came through others during a complicated pregnancy, my late husband’s long battle with cancer & his ultimate death & some of those moments are given to me through my husband whom I married after being widowed for 4 years.  David keeps Christ at the center of our lives & that sustains me through those things I currently struggle with.

I remember in 2010 a song ministering to me as I ran early in the morning with my running group.  A song came on my IPOD & as I looked at the river as the morning daylight broke through the darkness, I heard God’s voice saying take it a moment at a time – I will sustain you. I had been in what I call “my shut down mode” which is where I feel robotic & I move through life in a survival mode & God spoke to me in that moment.   Running has always been one thing that has helped me manage my anxiety & by running with a group it kept me from becoming a hermit in my struggle – they too ministered to me without even knowing it.

Another “gift of ONE moment” came a year later through a song.  Little Lance & I were in our kitchen & I was crying, we held hands & a song came on KLOVE called “Move” by Mercy Me.  What I didn’t know until years later that this song was released on May 23rd, 2011, just weeks after Lance had died.

Lyrics: I’m not about to give up –Because I heard you say there’s gonna be brighter days…I wont stop, I’ll keep my head up..no, I’m not here to stay..there’s gonna be brighter days..I just might bend but I won’t break as long as I can see your face..when life won’t play along & right keeps going wrong and I can’t seem to find my way I know where I am found, so I won’t let it drag me down, oh I’ll keep dancing anyway…I’m gonna move, move…I’ve got to hold ‘er steady…keep my head in the game…everything is about to change…this hurt is getting heavy but I’m not about to cave…everything is about to change…there’s gonna be brighter days.

In that moment, that song ministered to Little Lance & I as we held hands.  Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”.  We did all of those in that moment of mourning.

Another “gift of ONE moment” came during that same period & it’s one of those “mother’s moments” that breaks my heart but I remember keeping blinds closed for days & we didn’t leave the house.  My friend, Betty, who lived across the street had noticed she had not seen Little Lance & I coming & going.  She came to check on us & she sat on our couch with me & encouraged me.  That same week, I heard a lawn mower in our front yard & as I peered out our window, I saw another neighbor that lived two doors down mowing our front yard – all gifts “of ONE moment” by those that cared for us.   A recent “gift of a moment” came through my beautiful husband (we married August 1, 2015 after my being widowed for 4 years).  As night fell (on a day where my anxiety was great & I could not sleep) he simply said, “lay here next to me & I will recite some scripture I know…I will do my best to remember the verses..& I will start in Genesis….”  As David began to softly speak in our bedroom with the lights out, I could feel myself relax & I drifted off to sleep as I listened to his voice.

I know these events seem disconnected but each of these “gifts of moments” ministered to me.  Gifts to me as a widow trying to navigate life with my 7 year old son & just one example (of many that exist) “gifts in a moment” by my husband, David.

The gift of a song in one moment, the gift of a friend in one moment, the gift of a neighbor I barely knew in one moment, the gifts given to me by my husband now.

Some of “those moments” came through the Holy Spirit moving others around me & some of those moments came from the Holy Spirit moving me to make decisions so He could carry me through difficult moments.

We make decisions every day where we have an opportunity to give “a gift in a moment” which was one of the points of the chapel speaker at Lance’s school – he was given a “gift” by a teacher through a “random” comment while he also spoke about the “gift of music” & the healing that comes through music.

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We all struggle in one way or another, some of us are more willing than others to be vulnerable & transparent about what our struggles are (even I have periods where I struggle to be vulnerable and transparent).  Our culture tells us to “make life” look good to the outside world despite what our struggles are but God tells us to be in community, do life with one another, comfort one another as we have been comforted & sometimes that calls us to be vulnerable & transparent while other times we are to be a soft voice to someone in the dark with simple encouragement.

What we need to remember is God loves each of us & can help us navigate trials.  BUT our faith cannot be passive, we have to make choices that allow God to work in our lives.  For me, my choice of music for our family is one active thing I can do to keep our minds on what is “holy and pure”, it is what helps me navigate days of anxiety left over from life’s journey.  I can make choices to give “the gift of a moment” to others, the same as I have received even on days where “I don’t feel like it”, even on days “I don’t want to leave the house”.  As I have said, I don’t do this perfectly but I am focusing trying to make intentional, active choices to have faith that God can move mountains as He has done in the past.

There is a great song by Elevation Worship called “Do it Again”

Walking around these walls I thought by now they’d fall But You have never failed me yet Waiting for change to come Knowing the battle’s won For You have never failed me yet Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I’m still in Your hands This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet I know the night won’t last Your Word will come to pass My heart will sing Your praise again Jesus, You’re still enough Keep me within Your love My heart will sing Your praise again Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I’m still in Your hands This is my confidence, You never failed …I’ve seen You move, come move the mountains And I believe, I’ll see You do it again You made a way, where there was no way And I believe, I’ll see You do it again….

I am praying these words resonate with others that need encouragement or need to have a time of reflection & praying these words are documented as words of wisdom and transparent vulnerability for my own son who will be an adult sooner than I would like and hope they help him navigate his own life.
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Understanding…..

Recently I read an article in one of Lance’s rock climbing magazines that deeply disturbed me. The writer was reflecting on the deaths of 3 of his friends that were world renowned rock climbers. The article did not sit well with me for a number of reasons and while I want to respect the writer’s perspective, God has put this article on my heart as something that I need to address from a number of directions.

It is true everyone handles death differently in their lives and there are certainly differences on how one handles death in relation to whether it was the loss of a parent, a close friend, or a spouse etc. As the writer reflected how each death impacted him at a deep level he included a quote, “It was the nature of his profession that his experience with death should be greater than for most and he said that while it was true that time heals bereavement it does so only at the cost of the slow extinction of those loved ones from the heart’s memory which is the sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back, whispered the sepulturero (grave digger). Speak with them. Call their names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift.” -Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing.

I write this blog for those that I know that are widows or widowers and for those that know a widow or widower. Everyone knows the “stages of grief” but what many do not know is that grief is like a “U” shape with various emotions dotted along the “U”. Anger, guilt, desperateness, depression, anxiety, gut wrenching pain, sense of loss so deep words cannot describe as well as feelings one cannot feel as you go through the motions of life like a robot..and the list goes on. I led a bereavement group a couple years ago while working at UAMS and one thing we discussed is that due to certain triggers, someone grieving can be on one side of the “U” curve” and functioning well in life and then something happens in their life and it rips them back to another side of the “U” curve as if the loss just happened.

I’m blessed to have walked my walk as a widow with my best friend and a handful of other widows from our bizarre “Multiple Myeloma” world that no one understands unless you have lived it. I suppose, I need to recognize that with that being true it is also true that I have no understanding the road travelled by someone that lost their spouse in a different way (7 year journey of cancer vs a sudden loss) – loss is unique in not only how someone deals with grief but it is also different in the sense of how the loss occurs and many times we don’t discuss that as a culture which leads to a significant misunderstanding of those dealing with grief regardless of the type of loss or how the loss occurred.

I think the writer including this quote from this book is simply an expression of a writer – one person that had a perspective from his own loss or had a generalized perspective that seemed to fit his article (same for Cormac McCarthy). Regardless, I think it twists grief into something it is not and from my perspective it twists rebuilding one’s life following the death of a loved one into something that is incredibly destructive and unhealthy for those surviving a loss.

In my personal experience, I have been misunderstood by many and I have also experienced others having insight into my journey and attempted to give me feedback that I refused to listen to as I tried to box my grief up and “find a new normal”.

Some examples are a few loved ones in my life challenging me when asking if giving presentations regarding patient and family centered care and what that looked like in our “journey at UAMS” was truly healthy or was it destructive in some ways….it’s taken me time away from UAMS to see how destructive it became over time. It started as something that appeared to be spiritually and emotionally healing but turned out to be something that had me trapped in some ways – still living in my “old life” and remembering the day to day survival we endured over a course of 7 years-it took a toll in significant ways on me emotionally and spiritually.

Another sad example is a few people in our lives expressing to my husband, David, that he would be playing “second fiddle” to my late husband. While good intentions, these are not people that have walked my path of life (not even close) and that one statement is incredibly hurtful to both David and myself because it has NO basis of truth. It seems only my best friend and I truly understand this as we are the only ones that have remarried since the death of our late husbands. Some of those that I know are embracing life fully and just have not found the right person and some I dearly care about are straddling two worlds in a way keeping them from taking steps forward. It also pains me that a few people have said this to David whom I love with my whole heart – my heart is not split in any way, David has it wholly and completely. God brought me an amazing man.

Another example is a dear friend that gasped months after my late husband died when she realized I was no longer wearing my wedding ring after my late husband died. I stopped wearing it after God clearly expressed to me the need to take small steps to move into a new life.

To back track a little, following my late husband’s death the depths of depression were hid from most except a handful of dear friends that knew truly what I was going through while others saw the “facade” that I was able to present to the outside world for short spurts of time. Then I entered a stage of focusing on “finding a new normal in life” as I entered a residency program at UAMS to be certified as a hospital chaplain. I had feedback from my peers and my supervisor that I was not dealing with my grief but rather running from it – keeping myself so busy that I was not able to be truthful with myself regarding my grief. I also asked to be assigned to the ICU during my residency which meant I was the chaplain where my late husband was hospitalized many times as well as worked on the unit where he ultimately died. In my mind at the time, it seemed to make sense that it was “healing to me” to work through unresolved issues. Only later, would I understand that this has prolonged my dealing with the feelings of trauma and the daily ups and downs of a 7 year journey with my late husband battling and dying of a cancer that required round after round of heavy chemo. Following that program I struggled in making life decisions and needed to regroup and once again found myself running from emotions that needed dealt with. I then worked as a Patient Advocate in the name of “giving back to the institution that gave so much to our family”. Once again, in retrospect while it appeared to be a healing process it was one that became incredibly destructive to my emotional health.

I was straddling two worlds, the world of a new life with an amazing husband and a son who was and continues to thrive along with my “old world” a life that was built on being in a “survival mode” and bracing myself for the next Dr’s appointment that showed the aggressiveness of my late husband’s cancer to the next appointment where things were looking up and given hope of a new trial on the horizon. My best friend described it as walking alongside a cliff edge with your spouse, knowing ahead of time they are going to slip and fall to their death but just not knowing what day and what time that fateful event would occur.

Many people do not recognize that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is something that can impact those that have lost someone they love. Even I had a hard time understanding that this isn’t something that just has to do with someone that has served in the military or someone that has experienced abuse etc but it also is associated with those that have experienced the death of a loved one.

According to mental health professionals, post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) is a mental condition that results in a series of emotional and physical reactions in individuals who have either witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. For those in our “Multiple Myeloma” world it has taken me a lot of counseling to recognize our roller coaster rides have impacted every single one of us-some deeper than others perhaps depending on circumstances but I lovingly challenge each one of you to reflect on my thoughts as well as others that I know that are dealing with other losses as well as those surrounding others that have lost loved ones and perhaps are judgemental about what they do not understand.

PTSD can be triggered by any life-altering experience especially following the the death of a loved one—-and unfortunately often it goes undiagnosed and we struggle without getting the help that we need. For those that I dearly love from my Multiple Myeloma world and other circles and for those that love someone that has sustained loss I hope you will think through what PTSD looks like in the life of someone that has loved and lost.

For those from my “Multiple Myeloma” world, I see so many of us struggling in significant ways and I have only spoke about PTSD with my best friend, counselor and psychiatrist. For fear of being misunderstood, never have I spoke about this in my “general circle of friends”. God has put it on my heart that I am not following His will when I keep my struggles to myself. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to remind them they must remember that being “comforted” can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with their troubles. It is no different for us today…the more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us. If we are feeling overwhelmed, we must allow God to comfort us and remember that every trial we endure will help us comfort other people who are suffering similar trials. Although I have “hinted” at the ramifications of a long journey and a difficult past preceding the long cancer journey of my late husband I find I can no longer be quiet regarding ongoing struggles with depression, anxiety and yes…PTSD. If I’m not honest…

How can God use me to comfort others?
How will I truly heal from living in a survival mode for so long?
How can I witness to others about how God can carry them too in the midst of dark days and the days following trials?
How can I get others to understand that although you can embrace an amazing new life, there are still things that can haunt you and be incredibly destructive to you mentally/emotionally if not properly dealt with?
How can I fully embrace my amazing new life with an amazing husband and wonderful child if I don’t deal with the ramifications of the past?

And on that note I want to be VERY CLEAR – this has NOTHING to do with not fully loving my wonderful husband and my new life…..he does NOT “play second fiddle to my late husband”. I love David with my whole heart and from a depth I’ve never known because I met him as a believer and we courted as believers prior to being married. While my late husband is embracing eternity with Christ, I have embraced my wonderful husband with my whole, mind, heart and spirit fully whom I love second ONLY to Christ.

I think that is exactly what bothered me about this quote that I started with out of The Crossing, that quote glorifies “not letting sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift”. Without using words I would like to use …..that is a bunch of BS…period. That quote “guilts” us into thinking we should allow the past to haunt us….we must find the ability to let go of our loved ones. For me I know my late husband is with Christ – there is no jealously which allows me to love my husband, David, now with a full heart. I refuse to be quilted into this sense that we must not let faces fade and voices dim…that we must call their names…”do this and do not let sorrow die”. Remembering should never die but we must let grief and sorrow die. Losing my late husband no longer haunts me – as a believer I have complete comfort he is where Christ wanted him to be. However, the suffering my late husband endured still haunts me but the reality is I must work through that and let go of that as well.

The reality is we MUST let sorrow die and find our way through our new life. We must embrace the healing needed and for many of those that have lost loved ones, I encourage you to seriously reflect on PTSD….is it impacting you and the way you live? It does not mean you don’t love your current life, but it is an explanation for some in why they struggle so much in day to day life and why an amazing day can take an unexpected turn due to a “trigger”. For me, depression and anxiety was an incredible struggle before my late husband’s diagnosis and our 7 year journey amplified things in ways I’m just now beginning to understand. The complicated part is how do I integrate PTSD and the healing needed into a new life which is truly amazing and given to me by God.

I can only heal and become totally present when I acknowledge with transparency the struggles I’m having because not only does that help me take steps towards freedom from my own mind but it also will allow God to work within those I know (and those I don’t know) that are struggling with PTSD and don’t even know it. So….I am drawn to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 with the hope that I can be confident that as I share my suffering I can in turn help others by bringing light to a subject that is avoided because we live in a culture that avoids the issue of mental health (despite recent advocacy in light of the suicides of high profile celebrities) the reality is those stories fade and the stigma continues.

2 Corinthian 1:3-7
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Flashbacks: It’s very common for those with PTSD to suffer nightmares or flashbacks—a symptom known as re-experiencing—in which the patient suddenly and vividly re-lives the traumatic event in a repetitive manner. Re-experiencing can enter dreams or come on suddenly in waking images or sensations of physical and emotional pain and fear. It may cause sufferers to have sleeping difficulties and anxiety leaving the safety of home.
These symptoms can be extremely terrifying for the patient because they are reliving their trauma all over again. These nightmares or flashbacks can be triggered by something whether its thoughts, smells, something someone said, or a noise. “Those [triggers] go to the deep part of your brain. Your instincts take over,” says Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, MD, MPH, a retired military psychiatrist to Health.com.
For me I can’t begin to list everything but sleep and anxiety can be a huge thing especially when I am not with my husband and son – especially when they travel. Being separated from them for any stretch of time is an incredible struggle. It took remarrying for me to realize how I easily startle duirng sleep, something my husband is fully aware of but something I didn’t realize fully until I remarried – although an inability to sleep was and continues to be an issue.

Depression/Anxiety: Mental phobias, which professionals deem as irrational and persistent fear and avoidance of certain objects or situations can cause extreme anxiety in PTSD sufferers to the point where it causes paranoia and depression.
For me this comes in the sound of an ambulance, certain smells, certainly the halls I used to walk at UAMS while working there, seeing other cancer patients out and about in the world…those are just a few.

Withdrawal: PTSD patients with solid social lives and interests may suddenly lose interest in favorite hobbies, activities, and friends that they used to be very passionate about. Seeking out risky behavior can also be a form of escapism through drug or alcohol abuse, or thrill seeking.
For me I can put on a great facade at times to the outside world, FB is such a huge help in this respect. What others aren’t aware of are the times I struggle wanting to leave the house and see others. I’m so thankful for my husband, David, and my son, Lance, who are as one friend describes, “my blankie”. The reality is that’s ok I love my husband and son and it’s when I am with them that I function the best and can have moments of being totally present.

Avoidance: Avoidance of any physical or mental stimuli that reminds them of a past traumatic event can be typical of PTSD. PTSD could also cause particular avoidances of places or people or places that are reminiscent you of the traumatic experience.
While this avoidance can be something as specific as driving in a car, it can also be broad. “If someone has been a victim of sexual assault, not only do they avoid that person who might still be at their university, but they might avoid men altogether, avoid going to classes. They become immobilized,” says Jack Nitschke, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to Health.com. This avoidance can also include refusing to talk about the event and looking for solace in things like drugs or alcohol, says the American Psychological Association.
For me I will limit this to simply saying…what I didn’t realize is that staying within the walls of UAMS kept me in the “bubble” that I lived in for so long, near the dr’s and nurses that had become family for 3 1/2 years, the “bubble” of walking the halls I walked daily, the “bubble” of walking through the areas I entertained my son trying to act as if life was normal. What I do avoid is crowds and areas that overly stimulate me….on typical days I limit my errands to a couple of things because emotionally I become overwhelmed and my anxiety becomes out of control. It’s kind of like the concept of managing pain…you manage it by staying on “top” the pain versus “chasing” it….regarding anxiety, I must manage it by anticipating the triggers and managing them intentionally.”

Repression: Repression, or the intentional blockage of memories associated with a past event or experience is also a symptom of PTSD. The patient may destroy pictures or memorabilia of a time in their life or attempt to distracting themselves by throwing themselves into work.

For me a great example is returning to Chicago – I have only returned once since my late husband died and can’t seem to get myself to the point I can return. We came to Little Rock in August of 2008 – 10 years ago and I have only been home 3 times. We were home in the spring of 2009 for a number of weeks and then for a day in 2010 before my father in law died – Lance was so ill the majority of the time we could not return home and so Little Rock became our home and those at UAMS became our family along with some extraordinary friends that came alongside us.

Emotional numbing: It’s very common for those with PTSD to try to numb their feelings. After all, it’s hard to suffer pain when you don’t feel any emotion at all. Emotional numbing often leads to the gradual withdrawal and eventually the complete isolated from social circles.

For me this has looked different in different “seasons” since my late husband died. I went into a “superwoman” mode thinking I could return to work and find a “new life” with my son….that backfired on more than one occasion as I could only keep this up for so long but a part of this was ignoring my feelings and not allowing myself to go into any deep emotions until they would come out at unexpected intervals. I went through a period of bringing circles of friends together from all different stages of life to periods of significant withdrawal even from my “Little Rock” family. When I was in withdrawal mode everyone thought, “Lynn just must be so busy and doing so well…” never knowing the truth behind my absence from my circle of friends.

Hyper-arrousal: It’s common for those with PTSD to suffer jitters so severe that it becomes impossible to relax due to the fear of threats. These individuals can be characterized as “on edge” and “jumpy” or easily frightened. The National Institute of Mental Health writes that “arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by something that brings back memories of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.”
For me this comes out in too many ways to count and I’m so thankful to have my husband, David, who walks me through these moments although I know it’s incredibly hard on him. I’m also so thankful to a handful of friends that know this side of me and can talk me off of the edge or at least talk me through things to a point that I can deescalate my panic over a period of time.
For me things have also spiraled out of control after additional deaths of loved ones. To name a few….I began spiraling out of control after the death of Eva and was able to get things back on track and then following the death of my father…my spiral began again (for a number of reasons). Things hit a pivotal point this past December when I could not sleep at all, eating became impossible and I would bounce between moments of feeling peace to moments of feeling the sense of great loss and uncontrollable crying. January was an incredibly hard month for our family and I am so thankful to my husband, my son and my dear friends for sticking by my side. Although I’m still struggling at times, I know I’m headed in the right direction with a new counselor, a new psychiatrist and an amazing husband, son and friends that are always there when I need them most.

While this is a long post…I hope this brings some light to those that I know and love and that it’s passed on to those that I don’t know that it may help. PTSD, depression and anxiety combined with the death(s) of loved ones can make for a long recovery but the first step is transparency about what one is struggling with.

I would not be here if it was not for my husband, my son and my faithful friends supporting me and I hope to reach out to others that are struggling with the same…

John 16:33 New Living Translation (NLT)
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I feel called to say that I cannot take credit for the amazing young Godly man that Lance has become. There were many times in our long journey while his biological dad, also named Lance, fought a courageous battle for 6 1/2 years against Multiple Myeloma (a blood and bone cancer) where I admit I struggled with times of anger and envy as I looked around me and saw “normal families” with children having “normal lives”. We uprooted ourselves in August of 2008 thinking we would be in Little Rock for a “spell” never knowing we would be there for 3 1/2 years with only a few trips back home to Chicago. But…now Little Rock is our home and I look at the amazing young man in front of me that is now taller than us and I see how Christ has used ALL of our journey to strengthen and mature Lance in his faith in Christ. He is mature beyond his years emotionally and most importantly spiritually.

In relation to my faith, I don’t say this is “what I believe”, I say, “this is what I KNOW.” I came to Christ later in my life, in my early 30’s, and now at the age of 48 I can stand here and say that I experienced the Holy Spirit not only dwelling within me but DESCENDING upon me, my beautiful late husband, my incredible son and my amazing husband, David.

I share all this to not only document our lives for my son, Lance, for when he is older but to also share and witness to what Christ has done in our lives. Our lives were TRANSFORMED by Christ in our early 30’s and as a result I have a son that has known Christ and seen Christ work in ways that are so powerful it’s hard to describe in words and that is why Lance received such an honorable award – it’s Christ living and dwelling and working within him inwardly and outwardly.

I hope that a special woman (that I have not spoken to in years) will read this and recognize that I’m talking about her…for it was because of her we started Lance in school at Episcopal in 1st grade and was able to keep him there during very difficult times. The Holy Spirit moved her and I am forever grateful for her responding to the Holy Spirit. Lance could not have been at a better school not only academically but more importantly a school that provided a quiet, Holy Spirit filled, nurturing environment for a young boy at the age of 5 that needed a safe place to go to school where he could escape a difficult reality that included seeing his father’s incredible daily suffering.

I can’t say we straddle “two worlds”, our previous lives in Chicago and our present lives in what we now call home, Little Rock, however, there are emotions I can’t describe that I experience every time I say goodbye to a loved one after they visit us from Chicago. As I dropped off Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy at the airport I said “I’m not going to cry…” but that always seems impossible. I so wish we had family closer, family that have known us and loved us always….but that’s not our reality. I have to embrace our new life and not live in the past and I HAVE to give my mind a new “narration” of our story as I say good bye to our loved ones as they return to our old home. Lance and I have an amazing life with David here in Little Rock, a life I never dreamed would be possible after Lance died. I can’t allow my mind to feel the sadness that we don’t have extended family closer to see routinely but rather look with excitement and anticipation of their next visit. One day, I hope to be strong enough to return to Chicago for a visit and perhaps that’s a matter of pushing myself but I know God will tell me when the “right time” is but I have to have an open heart to the Holy Spirit leading me and I might have to push myself out of my comfort zone.

God has intricately weaved an amazing man into our lives and I am so overwhelmed with the blessing that David brings to our lives. Lance is a blessed boy to have had an amazing father for his first 7 years of life who witnessed to all around him about the power of Christ in the midst of his battle with cancer and his suffering and he now has an amazing dad to raise and guide him as he becomes a young man with Christ at the center of all he teaches Lance and Christ as the center of our family as a whole and our daily lives.

I woke this morning knowing it would be a difficult day saying goodbye to Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy with the lyrics to the song “Move” by Mercy Me running through my mind. I remember an evening after Lance died that Little Lance and I held hands dancing in a circle while laughing and weeping all at the same time and listening to this song over and over again from the cd we had bought. This song ministered to us in amazing ways then and God knew I needed these lyrics running through my mind early this morning before taking them to the airport.

I’m not about to give up by Mercy Me

Because I heard you say
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I wont stop, I’ll keep my head up
No, I’m not here to stay
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I just might bend but I won’t break
As long as I can see your face
When life won’t play along and right keeps going wrong
And I can’t seem to find my way
I know where I am found, so I won’t let it drag me down, oh
I’ll keep dancing anyway
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move (I’m gonna move)
I’ve got to hold ‘er steady
Keep my head in the game
Everything is about to change
Everything is about to change
This hurt is getting heavy
But I’m not about to cave
Everything is about to change
There’s gonna be brighter days

We have an amazing God. Christ has carried us through our darkest days and my prayer is for those that read this post that don’t have an intimate relationship with Christ to reach out to our great God, know he lived, died and was resurrected for every single one of us – it’s never too late to accept Christ in your life.

For those that have an intimate relationship with Christ but are struggling and not able to feel Him right now, know I’ve been there, keep holding on and do your part and fight the enemy that wants you to lose all hope and fight like a warrior with the armour God has given you and take it one step at a time. Keep getting up, keep praying, concentrate on things that are of God, listen to KLOVE (an amazing radio station that can be listened to around the country) around the clock, turn off the tv, ask God to move your heart, if you don’t know what to say, talk out loud and simply say “God I need you and I don’t even know what to pray….” say that over and over again. Remove ALL things that are worldly distractions and concentrate on His word, find a piece of scripture that speaks to your heart and memorize it, say it over and over again in moments of despair.

Although I have an AMAZING life, the trauma of witnessing so much suffering has left what feels like permanent scars – I still have difficult days BUT I’m fighting the enemy with EVERYTHING I HAVE with an amazing husband and an amazing son by my side. The enemy has NO power over me or you – through Christ we can truly do all things and survive all things BUT we have to do our part and NEVER expect Christ to “swoop” in and do all the work. We live by faith, not by sight which means we have an active part in fighting the enemy and the cards he deals us. God has won the ultimate battle against death and suffering and our job is to witness to others around us NOT by having perfect lives but by living life as a transparent Christian, vulnerable about our battles AND picking up our shields of faith and fighting the enemy by keeping hope even when we feel like we can’t.

BUT we have to actively fight! Pray, make right choices, when you make mistakes, remember God gave us new days for a reason, we can always start over again the next morning as the sun rises, ask for forgiveness, be compassionate, remember everyone has “baggage” they are carrying and sometimes that comes out in ugly ways but we are all in the flesh struggling in the land of the walking dead, remember we all can live in eternity with our father, remember we all have different perspectives on things that are highly debated and sometimes we have to rise above a circumstance and be lovingly truthful and truthfully loving. We don’t have to agree with others but we should live our lives biblically, we can’t water down His word but we still have to be compassionate and gentle in our ways (not always easy for a Yankee like myself).

There is another great song that I love:

The Proof of Your Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
If I give
To a needy soul but don’t have love then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
Oh, let my life be the proof,
The…

I encourage each of you to ponder what does that actually look like in daily life…what does that look like when family relationships are strained…what does that look like in the workplace in the midst of politics…what does that look like when we disagree with those around us about politics or other highly debated subjects…what does that look like in every single daily part of our lives???? I admit that asking myself that question is convicting to my heart but I want to challenge myself and those I love and those around me to be transparent with ourselves about where we are failing our Lord and Savior in relation to “Letting our life be the proof of His love”.

Thank you Lord for moving me through Your Holy Spirit to write again…thank you for the work You have done and are continuing to do within my beautiful son…thank you for my amazing husband…thank you for my amazing late husband’s family that love my son, myself and my new husband David, thank you for them loving him and accepting him as their family, thank you for breathing life into me again through David, thank you for the hedge of protection you have around my son and our family, thank you for my best friend, Nyla, thank you for the hedge of protection around their family. Thank you Lord, I praise you this morning for moving me to write about all you are doing within those that I love.

Blended Worlds

I just dropped off my mother-in-law from Chicago and my late husband’s Aunt and Uncle at the airport. They came in town for “Class Day” at Lance’s school. We knew Lance was receiving an award but did not know what award it was and since he is transitioning into High School (so hard to believe) we thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate this “rite of passage” leaving middle school.

Lance’s advisor stated he could not tell us what award Lance was receiving but stated it was a “prestigious” award. We let family know that we didn’t know what kind of award but were proud of Lance and wanted to celebrate his accomplishments with those that could attend. We were thrilled that Grandma Bev from Chicago and Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy were able to book flights on short notice.

As the 8th grade awards were being given, I started to video each one as I didn’t know which award Lance was to receive and wanted to capture the award starting with the description of the award to his name being announced.

They started with the Citizenship Award and nope that was not the award, then came the Academic Awards, Health & Physical Education – nope, Religion – nope, Fine Arts – nope, Foreign Language – nope, English – YES -!

We were so incredibly proud of Lance as only 10 awards were being awarded to 8th grade students and there are 75 in his class and Lance received one of them AND for English! He has incredible admiration for his 8th grade English teacher Dr. Covert as do David and I. He is an incredible teacher and I can’t begin to tell you all of the discussions we have had in relation to things he has learned in Dr. Covert’s class. Although I have to say, I could say the same for every single one of his teachers at his school. Although, Lance has a similar personality in some ways to Dr. Covert which has resulted in a certain unsaid connection with this particular teacher. I am so impressed every time I read something Lance has written for this class.

They then went on with awards for History, Mathematics, Science and Technology and thought this was the “end” of the 8th grade awards.

BUT Then The Head of Middle School was listed as speaking about something called the “The Reverend Canon R. Ewing Jackson Jr. Medal”. I wish I would have noticed the word medal in the description of the next agenda item as I would have started videoing again, I simply did not realize this was another award being given and while I did not catch it on video, the Head of Middle School emailed me his script from this award and it was:


The Reverend Canon R. Ewing Jackson, Jr Medal is given to one eighth grade student who exhibits excellence in academics, leadership, citizenship, and character during his or her tenure as a student at Episcopal Collegiate School.
It is our pleasure to present this award to Lance Viscioni Wilson.

I was so overwhelmed by his words as he announced the name of my son who is a beautiful, mature Godly young man. What an incredible honor! I only wish I had caught it all on video but the words are sufficient and the memory is embedded in my mind.

I feel called to say that I cannot take credit for the amazing young Godly man that Lance has become. There were many times in our long journey while his biological dad, also named Lance, fought a courageous battle for 6 1/2 years against Multiple Myeloma (a blood and bone cancer) where I admit I struggled with times of anger and envy as I looked around me and saw “normal families” with children having “normal lives”. We uprooted ourselves in August of 2008 thinking we would be in Little Rock for a “spell” never knowing we would be there for 3 1/2 years with only a few trips back home to Chicago. But…now Little Rock is our home and I look at the amazing young man in front of me that is now taller than us and I see how Christ has used ALL of our journey to strengthen and mature Lance in his faith in Christ. He is mature beyond his years emotionally and most importantly spiritually.

In relation to my faith, I don’t say this is “what I believe”, I say, “this is what I KNOW.” I came to Christ later in my life, in my early 30’s, and now at the age of 48 I can stand here and say that I experienced the Holy Spirit not only dwelling within me but DESCENDING upon me, my beautiful late husband, my incredible son and my amazing husband, David.

I share all this to not only document our lives for my son, Lance, for when he is older but to also share and witness to what Christ has done in our lives. Our lives were TRANSFORMED by Christ in our early 30’s and as a result I have a son that has known Christ and seen Christ work in ways that are so powerful it’s hard to describe in words and that is why Lance received such an honorable award – it’s Christ living and dwelling and working within him inwardly and outwardly.

I hope that a special woman (that I have not spoken to in years) will read this and recognize that I’m talking about her…for it was because of her we started Lance in school at Episcopal in 1st grade and was able to keep him there during very difficult times. The Holy Spirit moved her and I am forever grateful for her responding to the Holy Spirit. Lance could not have been at a better school not only academically but more importantly a school that provided a quiet, Holy Spirit filled, nurturing environment for a young boy at the age of 5 that needed a safe place to go to school where he could escape a difficult reality that included seeing his father’s incredible daily suffering.

I can’t say we straddle “two worlds”, our previous lives in Chicago and our present lives in what we now call home, Little Rock, however, there are emotions I can’t describe that I experience every time I say goodbye to a loved one after they visit us from Chicago. As I dropped off Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy at the airport I said “I’m not going to cry…” but that always seems impossible. I so wish we had family closer, family that have known us and loved us always….but that’s not our reality. I have to embrace our new life and not live in the past and I HAVE to give my mind a new “narration” of our story as I say good bye to our loved ones as they return to our old home. Lance and I have an amazing life with David here in Little Rock, a life I never dreamed would be possible after Lance died. I can’t allow my mind to feel the sadness that we don’t have extended family closer to see routinely but rather look with excitement and anticipation of their next visit. One day, I hope to be strong enough to return to Chicago for a visit and perhaps that’s a matter of pushing myself but I know God will tell me when the “right time” is but I have to have an open heart to the Holy Spirit leading me and I might have to push myself out of my comfort zone.

God has intricately weaved an amazing man into our lives and I am so overwhelmed with the blessing that David brings to our lives. Lance is a blessed boy to have had an amazing father for his first 7 years of life who witnessed to all around him about the power of Christ in the midst of his battle with cancer and his suffering and he now has an amazing dad to raise and guide him as he becomes a young man with Christ at the center of all he teaches Lance and Christ as the center of our family as a whole and our daily lives.

I woke this morning knowing it would be a difficult day saying goodbye to Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy with the lyrics to the song “Move” by Mercy Me running through my mind. I remember an evening after Lance died that Little Lance and I held hands dancing in a circle while laughing and weeping all at the same time and listening to this song over and over again from the cd we had bought. This song ministered to us in amazing ways then and God knew I needed these lyrics running through my mind early this morning before taking them to the airport.

I’m not about to give up
Because I heard you say
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I wont stop, I’ll keep my head up
No, I’m not here to stay
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I just might bend but I won’t break
As long as I can see your face
When life won’t play along and right keeps going wrong
And I can’t seem to find my way
I know where I am found, so I won’t let it drag me down, oh
I’ll keep dancing anyway
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move (I’m gonna move)
I’ve got to hold ‘er steady
Keep my head in the game
Everything is about to change
Everything is about to change
This hurt is getting heavy
But I’m not about to cave
Everything is about to change
There’s gonna be brighter days

We have an amazing God. Christ has carried us through our darkest days and my prayer is for those that read this post that don’t have an intimate relationship with Christ to reach out to our great God, know he lived, died and was resurrected for every single one of us – it’s never too late to accept Christ in your life.

For those that have an intimate relationship with Christ but are struggling and not able to feel Him right now, know I’ve been there, keep holding on and do your part and fight the enemy that wants you to lose all hope and fight like a warrior with the armour God has given you and take it one step at a time. Keep getting up, keep praying, concentrate on things that are of God, listen to KLOVE (an amazing radio station that can be listened to around the country) around the clock, turn off the tv, ask God to move your heart, if you don’t know what to say, talk out loud and simply say “God I need you and I don’t even know what to pray….” say that over and over again. Remove ALL things that are worldly distractions and concentrate on His word, find a piece of scripture that speaks to your heart and memorize it, say it over and over again in moments of despair.

Although I have an AMAZING life, the trauma of witnessing so much suffering has left what feels like permanent scars – I still have difficult days BUT I’m fighting the enemy with EVERYTHING I HAVE with an amazing husband and an amazing son by my side. The enemy has NO power over me or you – through Christ we can truly do all things and survive all things BUT we have to do our part and NEVER expect Christ to “swoop” in and do all the work. We live by faith, not by sight which means we have an active part in fighting the enemy and the cards he deals us. God has won the ultimate battle against death and suffering and our job is to witness to others around us NOT by having perfect lives but by living life as a transparent Christian, vulnerable about our battles AND picking up our shields of faith and fighting the enemy by keeping hope even when we feel like we can’t.

BUT we have to actively fight! Pray, make right choices, when you make mistakes, remember God gave us new days for a reason, we can always start over again the next morning as the sun rises, ask for forgiveness, be compassionate, remember everyone has “baggage” they are carrying and sometimes that comes out in ugly ways but we are all in the flesh struggling in the land of the walking dead, remember we all can live in eternity with our father, remember we all have different perspectives on things that are highly debated and sometimes we have to rise above a circumstance and be lovingly truthful and truthfully loving. We don’t have to agree with others but we should live our lives biblically, we can’t water down His word but we still have to be compassionate and gentle in our ways (not always easy for a Yankee like myself).

There is another great song that I love:

The Proof of Your Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
If I give
To a needy soul but don’t have love then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
Oh, let my life be the proof,
The…

I encourage each of you to ponder what does that actually look like in daily life…what does that look like when family relationships are strained…what does that look like in the workplace in the midst of politics…what does that look like when we disagree with those around us about politics or other highly debated subjects…what does that look like in every single daily part of our lives???? I admit that asking myself that question is convicting to my heart but I want to challenge myself and those I love and those around me to be transparent with ourselves about where we are failing our Lord and Savior in relation to “Letting our life be the proof of His love”.

Thank you Lord for moving me through Your Holy Spirit to write again…thank you for the work You have done and are continuing to do within my beautiful son…thank you for my amazing husband…thank you for my amazing late husband’s family that love my son, myself and my new husband David, thank you for them loving him and accepting him as their family, thank you for breathing life into me again through David, thank you for the hedge of protection you have around my son and our family, thank you for my best friend, Nyla, thank you for the hedge of protection around their family. Thank you Lord, I praise you this morning for moving me to write about all you are doing within those that I love.

New Beginnings

God’s Amazing Provisions September 14, 2015, 3:53 AM

Many things have changed since my last update and all I can say is it is all God’s intricate work. I met an amazing man of God and we were married on 8/1/15. There is much to the story and too much to write in one blog but I will try to capture the highlights of what God has done. David became aware of our family on 8/25/13 as he watched a video of me at church giving our family’s testimony of God’s provision of peace & hope in the midst of tragedy. David stayed at a distance watching me come & go & praying knowing our timing was not right & I had no idea he was out there praying.

So much happened so fast that it can only be explained by saying, “But God…” David asked me to marry him on my birthday on 6/4/15 and we were married on 8/1/15. While planning for our wedding, it was obvious that we would ask a very special person to marry us. Tim counseled David through a difficult divorce & he was the one who stood alongside me at my darkest hour & handled the services to honor Lance after his death. For our wedding Tim asked us to write about how we arrived where we arrived. I am only going to give you a “glimpse” of the story for now. The following alternates between what David wrote and what I wrote about how our story unfolded.

David:
I was divorced in late 2009. I was left with a feeling of devastation & hopelessness for a period. The pain of seeing the hurt & bewilderment of my sons was unbearable. My sense of failure, hurt and loneliness was so emotionally confusing.

But it was also liberating. Maybe I’m not supposed to say that, but it is true. I had been given, albeit against my unknowing will, the opportunity to start over and do it right-to be the man God made me to be. God gave me a fresh start to grow in my trust, relation and enjoyment of Him; something that had been postponed for years. He also gave me time to think long and hard about whether I would ever love again, and if so, what kind of person she would be. And I pondered the crap out of that.

Lynn:
Being widowed at the age of 40 with a 7 year old after a 6 1⁄2 year journey with Lance’s cancer was overwhelming. God carried us through those 6 1⁄2 years in ways that I could never have imagined. Lance died on 5/9/11 and God also carried my son and I through our mourning – more painful than I can describe but God walked alongside us every step of the way. My first year after Lance died was spent trying to unravel a mess of business affairs for my husband’s business. I thought I was grieving & processing but in retrospect much of my grief was being suppressed in order to deal with the details at hand & be the best mother I could be to my son at the time. Fast forward a bit, eventually I began dating & found myself overwhelmed at navigating how to date at my age as a widow. I had been married just shy of 16 years. Many people think once you begin dating that all falls in line, what others don’t understand is that navigating into a new life is challenging. They think once you get through the mourning all is well, they don’t understand that it is a battle in itself to carve out a new life.

David:
So, I had many good friends eager to fix me up. Nothing panned out for various reasons, but principally due to the fact that I was not about to open up my heart unless I saw in return the heart that I knew God wanted & that I deeply & clearly knew I needed. He had done so much for me, he had salvaged me, and I was not about to take off without him again. On 8/25/13, my buddy Kevin attended early service at Fellowship & saw a video clip. He sent me a text & told me, basically, that I needed to pay attention. This is what I saw when I showed up second service. https://vimeo.com/75598449

Lynn:
I was honored to have an opportunity to witness to others & do a video for Fellowship that told our “God story” & how He moved in amazing ways during our journey & our loss. I met with a friend at Fellowship the week following when the video was shown. We touched on the difficulties I was encountering as I began dating & the confusion & frustration that came along with trying to meet someone with a heart for Christ that truly placed Christ at the center of his life. I remember my friend encouraging me by saying, “I believe there is a man that was here on Sunday that saw your video, have hope.” I cannot begin to express how it moves me when I reflect on that conversation almost 2 years ago & the events as they have unfolded these last few months.

David:
Wow. As I told Kevin, “That’s the package I’m looking for.” In that short clip I could see maturity, intellect, depth, sincerity, Christlikeness, conviction, character, strength, & of course, incredible beauty. I spent a few months asking around and Googling to try to find out more about her. With my intellectual level, it took several weeks just to figure out how to spell her last name. I didn’t push too hard because I couldn’t tell how long it had been since her husband had died, & I didn’t want to appear to be a circling buzzard. But by the time I found her on FB & identified a few over-lapping friends & asked about her, she had moved away. I received conflicting reports as to where she’d moved, but wherever it was, it was outside of my self-imposed Pulaski County dating pool range. I wrote it off as a loss, with feelings of, “She was probably out of my league anyway.” But she lingered on my mind, & I kept wondering if God was ever going to let me come across “somebody like that” again.

Lynn:
It’s moving to read the exchange of texts between Kevin & David that day. David kept the exchange on his phone all this time, the entire exchange that morning of 8/25/13. God was intricately working together a plan that would unfold over a year & a half. For David & I to be married just short of 2 years from that video being shown is an amazing demonstration of the importance to be patient & allow God to work. It moves me to know that all this time David has been in the background being patient, following God’s lead, not overstepping boundaries & not allowing his flesh to get involved but allowing God to work. He has told me this is contrary to how he has handled things in the past – a God thing that he allowed the Holy Spirit to guide him. Here all this was going on & I had no idea God had selected the most amazing man for me (& Lance) & he was in the background with my son & I on his heart for an extended time without my knowing it. (My friend was right.)

David:
Then, around March, 2014, I spotted her in church, down front, second row, alone. Pink scarf. I had a small heart palpitation. After the service, I tried to circle around to where I could pass her going an opposite direction to make eye contact (Dave’s dating strategy tip #48), but missed her. Several weeks passed before I saw her again, but I never could get to her after the service. I started asking around about her again, & was told she was engaged, off the market, don’t waste your time. Blah blah blah. Every time I got that answer, I just found someone else to ask, hoping to get a different answer. I continued to have sporadic sightings in church but I never could seem to make our paths cross. I nonetheless spent time Googling her, figuring out where she lived, reading her blogs and trying to find out more about her. Yes, she was off the market, but she wasn’t married. That just means you have to be more calculated, strategic yet appear more nonchalant in the pursuit (Dave’s dating strategy tip #87).

On 6/12/14, I was at Academy Sports. I looked up, & saw Lynn & Lance checking out, buying a baseball glove. I grabbed whatever merchandise I was standing closest to (a sports bra, I think) & got in line behind them. I struck up a conversation with Lance about baseball. I wanted to say something to Lynn, but (a) Lance was with her & I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, (b) I thought she might know me as the guy that everyone keeps telling her won’t quit asking about her, & (c) she might spray me with mace. So, I painfully watched her walk out.

Lynn:
I remember that day, Lance & I stood in line buying him a new baseball glove. A man behind us struck up a conversation with Lance & we spoke briefly as many people do while waiting in a line. However, I remember before we left that I looked “this man” in the eye & there was something there. In retrospect, I know now what that look was – it was a look of recognition, a look from a man that had had my son and I on his heart for almost a year, a man that had read my blogs & knew our story, a man with great compassion for all my son & I had gone through. It moves me to tears to think back at that moment where we made direct eye contact & I had no idea what was behind those eyes until almost a year later.

David:
But she smiled and looked back at me. I continued to ask about her with greater urgency, & continued to get the same answer. Every time. But I couldn’t let it go. She was the kind of woman I felt like I could love & I just wanted to know if that was really so. I saw her another time at church, again, alone. On 6/25/14, I sent her an unsolicited Facebook message, asking her to put me on her “Guys I Should Probably Go to Lunch with Someday if Things Don’t Work Out With the Current Guy” list. She did not respond. Three Sundays later, after church, I was talking to some friends & Lynn walked up to me. She had sought me out. Yes, it was to very kindly & gently to tell me that she was involved with someone else, but I didn’t really hear that part.

Lynn:
I was surprised to receive a FB message, I reflected back on our “chance meeting” (rather God’s intricate planned out meeting) & was touched by his FB message & a bit entertained as he assured me he was not stalking me. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to respond back as I was involved so I waited until I saw him at church to explain. I felt bad that I didn’t respond & wanted him to know that I was not just “blowing” him off but that I was “involved” & responding would not have been appropriate.

David:
Over the next few months, there were occasional sightings but I was slowly getting resigned to the idea that I should just let it go. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was ushering & handing out the bulletins. For the first time ever to my knowledge, after 5 long years of ushering, she walked in my door & looked at me. I handed her a bulletin, & started to ask, “So is everything still status quo?” But she was already past me, so I turned around like I hadn’t said anything. She stopped & turned & said, “Excuse me”? It was too late to fix, so I asked again. She said “Yes.” But her eyes seemed to indicate there was more going on.

Lynn:
I remember that day because that was on 11/30/14. It was a difficult time for me, it was my first Thanksgiving with family since Lance died, I was mourning the death of my friend, who was a myeloma patient like Lance, who had lived with us on & off since 2008. On top of all of that my father had been referred to my husband’s Dr by his Oncologist in Branson as he thought my dad had the same cancer that took my husband’s life. It was all too much. I was having a difficult time coping & felt like things were beginning to fall apart around me. As I got ready for church that morning I was desperate.

I found myself praying to God for a sign. I felt so disconnected to my God that I had once had such an intimacy with. In my desperation, I prayed for a “breadcrumb” for God to reveal Himself. I remember telling God “I know I’m not supposed to ask for signs but God I need strength & to be filled with hope again, please send me a sign. God use this “guy David” from church as my sign”. I didn’t know why I was praying that but it was as if the Holy Spirit led me & “lined the events up”. Imagine my shock when I walked in & David handed me the bulletin. Yes, I told him all was “status quo” & I attempted to show him what I was attempting to show everyone else that “all was well” when in fact I was falling apart. By January I found myself barely able to get myself out of bed.

David:
I was realizing that everything I initially saw in her was confirmed the more we had opportunities to talk. At one point she told me I should just get a dog to cure my loneliness, or perhaps she could set me up with some of her single friends. I’m not kidding. That stung.

Lynn:
Ok, David makes this sound really bad. He told me his dog had died & I told him about the Rhodesian Ridgebacks we had adopted. I was simply trying to be helpful. Yes, I did offer to set him up with some of my friends, again trying to be helpful,

David:
I saw her from a distance in her regular seat the next Sunday. Her hands were not up as usual when she was singing. Her head was down. I remember standing there watching her, & I prayed to God that if I couldn’t have her, couldn’t He please find me someone like her? THAT is the woman I am looking for. How hard could that be? He’s God, after all. I had repeatedly explained to God over the years since the divorce that I wanted to first get my sons raised & out of the house, & then I wanted to start a new life & have what I knew in my heart I could have with a woman like Lynn & I wanted that before I hit 50. Because I would start to depreciate after 50. So, here it was 2015. The boys were in college, I was turning 50 in August, and I finally found this incredible woman, only to be coming into her life a year too late, & she was gone. Poof. Back to square one. I went home and prayed again for God, “If I can’t have her, please find me someone like her.”

Lynn:
I remember this day because David sent me a text that he found on my FB where I had climbed a mountain in Peru & had my arms straight up in the air. One of the most spirit filled hikes I had ever had. I was caught off guard by him sending me this pic from my FB. I knew he was expressing something Holy Spirit driven. I sent a text back asking simply asking why he sent it & he replied, “Your hands are normally up in church during worship & today they were down & you looked as if you were in deep prayer.” I never knew where he sat or that he was aware of where I sat.

On Klove they played the song “Save my Life” by the Sidewalk Prophets & God spoke to me about David through this song. God planted on my heart that David had things to say that would save me & my son. I was struggling to find hope day to day & struggling to find that deep intimacy with Christ that I had developed in the darkest hours of my life.

http://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=tell+me+something+that+will+save+my+life

The lyrics are: “Save My Life”
We’ve met half a dozen times I know your name I know you don’t know mine


(David knew mine but I did not know his that day in Academy Sports – he knew our whole story and I had no clue….)

But I won’t hold that against You
You come here every Friday night


(We saw each other on Sundays in passing – initially he watched me from afar & then God worked, pausing me)

I take your order and try to be polite and hide what I’ve been going through


(He had us on his heart for so long & I never knew it, it was God’s timing when to reveal him to me)

If you looked me right in the eye

(It was his eyes that day that caught me off guard in Academy Sports, a look of recognition, he knew our story & I had no idea)

You would see the pain deep inside Would you take the time to Tell me what I need to hear

(David saw my pain beyond what he knew from my blogs, that’s a God thing, he saw things others could not in brief exchanges as we passed in church).

Tell me that I’m not forgotten


(I was falling apart in January & God used David to remind me that I was not forgotten, God had a plan)

Show me there’s a God Who can be more than all I’ve ever wanted Cause right now I need a little hope


(I was beginning to lose all hope & I began to feel my hope building again because of how God was using David in these brief exchanges)

I need to know that I’m not alone Maybe God is calling you tonight


(God called David on 8/25/13 & David responded & allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him in God’s timing)

To tell me something That might save my life


(God used David to literally save my life, I was slowing dying spiritually & losing intimacy with Christ which would have eventually destroyed me & potentially my son. We had worked so hard to place a solid foundation for Little Lance & that could have all been lost for him & the generations to come. I felt like the lost sheep that could not find her way back. But God used David to call me back into the safety of His flock.)

I’m the pastor at your church For all these years you’ve listened to my words You think I know all the answers But I’ve got doubts and questions too Behind this smile I’m really just like you Afraid and tired and insecure If you look me right in the eye Would you see the real me inside Would you take the time to Save my life I am just like everyone …. Jesus I need You, I need Your Love To save my life

I sent the link to this song to David. I knew he had things to say to me that would save my life. God lead David & God was leading me.

David:
Although I have great capacity in some areas, I hate to admit that I also have a bucketful of needs. In God’s great design, Lynn’s life has also created needs in her. Interestingly, her areas of need exactly fit my areas of strength, while her incredible strengths fit my needs like a glove. It is not a coincidence that a man with certain wounds stumbles upon a beautiful woman who sacrificed her own life for six years to care for the man that she loved as he died of cancer. It is not a coincidence that a woman with an orphaned son stumbles upon a man who has found his greatest joy & purpose in life in raising sons. There are dozens of these. And we are finding more every day.

Lynn:
I would like to attempt to add onto this portion of what David has written but I don’t think I could say anything different. All I know is God has given my son & I an incredible provision. A Godly man with Christ centered in his life. A man that I desire to help heal & a man that is in turn healing me & my son. God is amazing. His intricate work is overwhelming to think about when I look at each step of our journey that took place over almost two years. A journey that I wasn’t even aware of for almost a year. God is redeeming each of our pasts, He is redeeming all of our pain, He is redeeming all that we have lost & like Job is giving us all that we once had hoped for and is giving us even more through one another.

David:
I asked Lynn to marry me on 6/4/15, her birthday. We married on 8/1/15. That’s two weeks before my 50th birthday.

Lynn:
Words cannot express my thankfulness & the praise I feel for God in the miraculous way He has worked knowing that David & I are each a miraculous provision for one another, symbols of redemption, symbols of hope for others in despair that God can redeem the most painful of pasts.

I could have written this blog a number of times but as usual I feel that the Holy Spirit held me back to write it after attending the wedding of Lance’s little brother last weekend . Nick, who was my husband’s younger brother asked Little Lance to stand in for his daddy as his best man. We all three flew to Grand Haven, Michigan to celebrate with Colleen & Nick & Lance’s family from Chicago, many of whom I have not seen since Lance’s funeral. It was a beautiful weekend & ceremony but included a few tears by all of us acknowledging the absence of Lance. “Lancey” as Lance’s family from Chicago calls him, served as Nick’s best man – what a beautiful way to honor Lance’s memory. Also beautiful that they displayed pictures of our family & other family members that were spiritually present & not physically present. Although difficult, I am so thankful that David could meet Lance’s family & so thankful for them to welcome him into their family & embrace him.

There is so much more to the story, so many tiny details – too many to document without losing you in the forest so I hope this serves as a bird’s eye view of the amazing works of God & how He can pull you back into the safety of His flock if you allow Him to work & not lose hope. I’m trying to reach those on this blog that I know intimately – that are struggling, some are widows like me & some are not but are struggling in their lives for a myriad of reasons. Even when you don’t have hope – tell yourself everyday that you will again & then lean into God. When you don’t know how to pray anymore, simply get on your knees & tell God you don’t know what to pray but you need Him. I promise He will show up but you have to do your part & you have to be patient. Sometimes it’s through the deepest of loneliness that you build the deepest of intimacy with Christ but often you only feel the pain and don’t see the beauty of what God is doing in the midst of it. Choose hope and hang in there until you find it again-at times it’s about a leap of faith and leaning into the unseen.

Messages
Joan Beetstra September 14, 2015, 4:05 AM
Congratulations Lynn! I am so happy for you and Lance. The power of prayer always
amazes me. Tell Lance I wish him all the best. 🙂 Joan Beetstra

Bev Duncan September 14, 2015, 1:45 PM
Lynn, Thank you for sharing what God is doing in your life. We have been following your blog since Griefshare days. God is Good. It seems incongruent to say that to someone in the depths of grief, bur those of us who have been led through it by God understand the truth of the statement. We would like to ask your permission to use excerpts from your last paragraph in our Griefshare class.
God bless you and David and your new family! We are so happy for you!
Bev and Bill Duncan Griefshare, Fellowship

Jen Mooney September 14, 2015, 2:05 PM
Wow, Lynn. God is so amazing! I’m so happy for you and David. Tears…

Nyla Middleton September 14, 2015, 2:46 PM
Big tears rolling down my face…. Even during the darkest times when all there seemed to be coming was more pain, God was at work. God was making a way. So happy for all of you!!

kate rickard
September 14, 2015, 4:34 PM
David, Lynn & Lance, What a God sent Care Page. I read this care page I got down on my knees & thanked God for our daughter, our grandson & our knew son in law. Thank God that David was with God and he waited in the background for the right time in your life to become part of your life. Our God is good, sing the song of love of our God. What a wonderful wedding you two had. Tears filed our eyes with love, as we watched Lance give his Mother away to David. Then looking at David we saw his Love for you & Lance. Lynn you was the most beautiful bride. We welcome David into our family with love.

We remember the day the Little Lance came into the world. Uncle Nick sat in the waiting room of the hospital all day long waiting for Lance’s birth. Your dad wanted to get him something to eat but Nick would not leave that room. so Dad got him a sandwich. Now Uncle Nick is marred & Little Lance was his best man. What a loving way Nick &Bev honored Big Lance. Nick loves that son of yours. We knew in our heart that Bev & Nick would welcome David into their family. They have God in their hearts also.
Love all of you, Dad & Mom Rickard

Libby Strawn September 14, 2015, 9:21 PM
Lynn, even though I don’t see you much anymore, my heart has lots of memories of some really dark days you experienced! I’m SO grateful to read this blog and know that you and David have begun a new life together. Sounds like a match made in heaven!

D. Joe Dunlap September 15, 2015, 5:56 AM
Blessing and congratulations to Lynn, David … and yes, “Little Lance,” too! “Ad multos annos!” What joy this story / witness has brought me! I will certainly remember your marriage in my prayers of thanksgiving. I confess I got a little happy-weepy at hearing how “Little Lance” was Uncle Nick’s “best man” as he married Colleen. Love in the Lord to all: Father Joe Dunlap.

Anita Mason September 15, 2015, 2:53 PM
Congratulations!
Best Wishes and Blessings to both of you!

Tina Goins 
September 14, 2015, 11:47 AM
after sharing our grief and for so many years I am so overjoyed for you and for Lance and David. God has certainly been watching over you. I think last time we talked if you remember you told me about David seeing him in the store. God Bless you all. Love Tina

Nicole Henley September 15, 2015, 2:39 PM
Morning! I read your care page and wanted to send my best. David seems like a funny guy! And it seems he will be a great father figure for Little Lance. I think about him and worry about him often and your update eased some of my worries. It seems David can continue with that laughter and humor for Little Lance which is the most of what I miss in my life. Lance could always cheer me up and make me laugh in any situation. Still finding myself having difficult days when picking up the phone is not an option. Thanks for the update and love to all! So happy for Nick too! Lancey….gotta love Beverly. xoxo

I normally wait until May 9th to recognize the anniversary of Lance’s death but for some reason the Holy Spirit has inspired me to post 9 days early. On May 9th, it will mark the 4th anniversary of Lance’s death. Perhaps a better description of that day is a day to be spent reflecting and celebrating the time that we had with him. He was an amazing man of faith and steadfastness as he endured a 6 ½ battle with great strength, endurance and determination. As most of you know, he never spoke of the possibility of death only of life. He believed in God’s ultimate healing and the reality is God performed more miracles than I can count by us uprooting ourselves and moving to Little Rock to seek out the best treatment possible for him. Our moving to Little Rock gave us 3 ½ additional years with him that we would not have had if we had remained in Chicago. Although difficult to uproot ourselves from Chicago to Little Rock leaving our friends and family behind, it was the right decision that bought us more time with him and the ability for Little Lance to have memories of his daddy.

As I reflect on the last 4 years it is hard to describe my feelings as I reflect on the approaching day that marks his leaving this life and entering his eternal time with Christ. These last few weeks and the next 9 days causes me to pause and reflect on the events that unfolded beginning in the late hours on May 7th, rolling into Mother’s Day on May 8th and ultimately his death on Monday, May 9th at 4:34 pm. It no longer feels like deep grieving and mourning but, rather sadness as I reflect on his great suffering and the loss of him in our lives. With that said, I recognize the amazing blessings that came through our difficult journey even though it resulted in his death.

Lance’s battle witnessed to so many people in our lives as he demonstrated the comfort and peace God brings even in the midst of great suffering. In the last two years, his quality of life was incredibly diminished. He endured endless rounds of hard chemo. He described his neuropathy pain as having bee hives strapped to his hands and feet 24 hours a day/7 days a week – there was nothing to alleviate that kind of pain. Nurses, cancer patients, physicians , friends and family witnessed Lance leaning into God and receiving a blessing that many people never receive which is an intimacy with Christ that comes with deep hardships and pain.

Despite the pain it causes when I allow myself to think about the suffering he endured and the fact there was no “normal life”for us those last 3 ½ years as we spent every day at the hospital for his supportive care, I am overwhelmed at times by the peace I also experience as I reflect on the amazing comfort and peace that came from God, our Heavenly Father, in the midst of it all. I have a theory about God’s miraculous protection for His children when they are suffering and that is for those that truly lean into God in the midst of a hardship, He provides them with the blessing of peace, joy and comfort. Most of our society focuses on being happy but it’s through leaning into God in the hardest of times that you discover the blessing of peace, joy and comfort which I would take over “worldly happiness” in a heartbeat. I truly believe that despite Lance’s suffering that his optimism that was contagious was because he leaned into God in a way that most people do not. He prayed, he woke me up at night reading his bible on his phone (which drove me nuts at times), he witnessed to others and he encouraged others that were equally suffering. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit washed over him “something” that superseded the actual suffering and that brought him comfort which in turn provides me extraordinary comfort as I reflect back. So when my mind wanders to the suffering and the pain in my stomach begins, I try to focus on what I witnessed God doing for him and recognize the blessing that I witnessed that poured over my husband.

Last night as I sat at Lance’s baseball game, I had an opportunity to speak with a friend that helped with Lance in the early months. As we spoke, we spoke of the approaching anniversary of Lance’s death and the fact that April 16th marked the day when Lance was hospitalized. Each day from April 16th to May 9th seems to trigger brief moments of reflection for me of this time period and how we had Little Lance living with us at the hospital. As I work now at UAMS, the memories are triggered even more as I pass the stairwell where I would take Lance to practice the violin so it did not overflow into other patient’s rooms. As I walk through the ICU, I reflect on reading Narnia over Skype to Little Lance once Lance had been transferred to the ICU and he could no longer be with us. While working as a Chaplain on the ICU floor, I remember a nurse and I reflecting on those last few days and she said, “I remember the room as if it was yesterday, you had a picture of your son and I remember watching you Skype with your son those last two nights.” It is comforting so many people not only remember my husband but also the details of his/our journey.

As I spoke with my friend last night, I also reflected on the amazing work of the Holy Spirit in the beginning months of being in Little Rock. For a mother that was not used to leaving her son frequently, it was a stretch to me to begin leaving Little Lance at the age of 4 with complete strangers. But I had no other option because we needed the help and all I can say is the Holy Spirit spoke to me and comforted me and allowed me to “feel” that I was placing Little Lance in safe hands – hands that were a provision by Him. It was as if I was delivering Little Lance into Christ’s hands Himself as I allowed these wonderful ladies to care for him. I am so thankful for Mary, Mark, Betty and Sylvia in those beginning months (and the ongoing support that they still provide to me today). I am so thankful for so many others on top of them that surrounded us through the grace of God and ultimately became our family. As my friend and I spoke, she also spoke of the hardship her own family was going through at the same time, although different still a hardship. She spoke of a day where she remembered being on her hands and knees sobbing and crying out to God but also recognizing the intimacy that was being developed with Christ because of their hardship.

I have shared this story once before on the blog named “Be Strong and Courageous” on Carepages, a long time ago but it was in the Fall of 2008 and my mother-in-law had flown in to help us for a few days as Lance was so sick with Pneumonia. When Lance arrived home from the hospital I heard Little Lance say through the door calmly,“Daddy, I don’t know what’s wrong with Mommy but she has been in there crying all afternoon.” I also remember being on my hands and knees similar to my friend and then a song coming on our IPOD that literally spoke to me about “walking by faith not by sight” and remember after hours of sobbing, the weight of our circumstances and the depth of my longing for our home, friends and family lifted and I remember getting up from my hands and knees, wiping my tears and I remember a calm washing over me that I can’t explain other than saying I know it was the Holy Spirit. I was so glad to sit with my friend and have her recall her story as I could recall mine and be reminded of just how powerful the Holy Spirt is when you truly open your heart to God and place your circumstances at the feet of Christ. He came before us, He knew we would endure suffering in this world but He also gave us the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

I don’t want to be sad leading up to May 9th and don’t want to be sad on May 9th, I simply want to honor an amazing man and remember and celebrate his life as I remember him.

A couple videos I wanted to share with you all, although they were taken after a challenging time where he was struggling with high calcium levels that triggered an altered mental state I think these videos represent great clarity about what God did for him by bringing angels to his bedside. I hope you will all click on the links and have an open heart to what God does in the midst of suffering – He sends angels to protect us…..

In Video 1, he told me he had been seeing angels and I asked him, “Were you dreaming? “ He looked straight at me and replied, “I don’t think so…I’ve seen enough of them.” There is something about how he looked at me in that moment that gives me goose pumps and I feel the Holy Spirit washing over me confirming that Lance was in a great mind of clarity as he spoke about angels that had been present. It is beautiful to me that God provided angels to him along his journey of suffering.

Angels 1 Video

Angels 2 Video

Another video that just shows the adventure we had and hopefully will bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Also, as I watch the videos, I smile as I remember Lance’s hair coming back so different after certain rounds of chemo from blonde to blonde and wavy to almost brown. We truly tried to have an adventure even as we’d wait to see what type of hair the next round of chemo would bring.

We had an amazing journey, while it didn’t end as we would have hoped, I know God is carving out an amazing life for Lance and I and that He has an amazing plan for both of us. Evidenced by God leading me into my position as a Patient Advocate and being able to give back to UAMS and repay in some way all the amazing things the staff did for us here.

Please remember Lance on Monday, May 9th and remember the amazing person he was. For family and friends that loved him – no sadness, simply remember him as a great man of faith that demonstrated the strength of Christ in your life in the most challenging times.

I am very thankful to be able to say that when we met with Dr. Barlogie last week we were told that my dad has MGUS which means he does not need any active treatment. He will have blood work every two weeks with his Dr. in Missouri and then he will return to Little Rock in 3 months for retesting and another appointment with Dr. Barlogie. If there are no changes, Dr. Barlogie stated my father can move his next follow up appointment 6 months out. Although it is still a bit mind boggling that my father was referred to Dr. Barlogie from his Dr. in Missouri, I am incredibly thankful that it does not appear that my father will ever need treatments for anything related to Multiple Myeloma.
We have not discussed any of the details with Lance and plan to leave that as is since it isn’t necessary to drudge things up for him and likely will never need to. While my last carepage update stated that I felt like I was handling things better this time around than with my mother’s lung cancer, this update will acknowledge that probably is not the case. In the first few days of the news, it propelled me into action as there were things to schedule and set up but then it seemed to send me into a bit of a tail spin. It did not help that one of my dear friends battling Multiple Myeloma took a turn for the worse at the same time that everything was going on with my father. My dear friend lost her battle to this horrible disease on September 1st.
I spent last weekend in a terrible state and Sunday we even skipped church – which we never do. I got up and took a shower but found myself back in bed and felt as if things would never improve. I felt overcome with grief and it sent me back to the days following Lance’s death where it felt like I would never feel a light heart again. I remember at one point that summer following Lance’s death, I did not leave the house for days until two neighbors that were angels knocked on my door because they had not seen our car move and saw our blinds shut. I remember Lance providing for himself for a few days that week because I could not get myself out of bed. This past Sunday was reminiscent of those dark days that summer.
It felt like something similar to post traumatic stress syndrome, that it felt like the old trauma that I felt during Lance’s struggle and death were being drudged up all over again. It has been hard to sort through my emotions in some ways. I googled post traumatic stress syndrome and mourning the death of a loved one and while I found a little information regarding these things being tied together there was not much information.
Sadly, while we know a lot about grief and the “stages of mourning” what no one seems to talk about is how a chronic illness and a death can leave permanent marks on a family.
I am thankful that Sunday night was a turning point for me as I had dinner with my friend’s father and Dr. Barlogie and others from UAMS to remember our dear friend. I was able to sit and laugh and cry with them as we spoke of the incredible person our friend was and the inspirational impact our friend had on each of us. I came home Sunday evening with a lighter heart. While I seem to be back to normal, I recognize the toll it took dealing with the news of my father and the loss of someone that I loved yet again.
The last few weeks have been spent with moments of severe anxiety, depression and even a panic attack.
My hope has been while I update everyone on our journey in forging ahead that there are takeaways from the things that I share. It is always heart warming to see the carepage messages that are posted and to receive texts and emails following a post as others share how my post has either helped them or given them a better view about the grief process and what it entails. As I think about the impact I hope this posting will have, I hope that it will bring an awareness to how difficult it is for those that have been through a chronic illness and death of a loved one to be faced with the possibility of yet another chronic illness or death of an additional family member.
While a difficult diagnosis and death is difficult on anyone that faces such a thing, I would like others to understand that for those of us that have already lost someone to an awful disease it becomes even more complicated for us when another loved one is faced with another disease process or dies. In the last couple of weeks, memories of Lance and his last weeks with us have surfaced and it has been incredibly painful. It has been difficult to manage my thoughts during the course of a normal day, as visions of the past would invade my waking moments. The first time I went to the Myeloma Clinic to arrange things for my father, I arrived on the 4th floor where the infusion center is. I was walking towards the elevator to take it up to the clinic and I literally saw a vision of Lance. I know it sounds crazy….I recognize that I didn’t actually see him but the image was so strong in my mind that it was hard to shake. He was wearing his favorite jeans, his blue jacket and his favorite slippers and it was as if I saw him walking in front of me. Those that were here in Little Rock that knew Lance at the end know that his walk became distinctive at the end as he had more of a shuffle to his gate rather than a stride. It was a bizarre experience and hard to explain as my imagination took over for a few moments and it was as if I was in a time warp that took me back to 2011.
Then while in the clinic I sat down waiting for the scheduler and my other dear friend that we have known since 2009 arrived as he had just arrived in town the night before. I was so glad to see him. But this time as I sat in the waiting room and talked to him, I was not there alongside Lance but there on behalf of my dad. There was even a moment where I longed for the good old days, where we had our original group all together – coming and going while trying to carve out normalcy in our lives. I know it is extremely hard on our friend who was also close to the friend that we lost and hope you will all keep him in his prayers and pray for the miracle we all hope for regarding this horrible disease.
Another difficult thing that has been drudged up are the last hours of Lances life, which has been heavy on my heart this last week. The last hours of his life and the difficulty of seeing him after failed attempts to recesitate him, how he had an abrasion on his forehead due to the mass chaos that ensued while trying to bring him back to us. It’s been painful to remember watching tears unexpectedly fall down his face when he was intubated and not able to open his eyes or communicate. I remember his mother and how hard that was on her too to see a solitary tear form in the corner of his eye and slowly fall. I remember how he would grip our fingers from time to time in response to something we said but not all the time and how I so yearned to be able to have one more minute to look into his eyes and talk to him one more time. To say I love you one more time.
So please remember that as those you love that have endured loss face loss again, please understand that for those of us that have traveled that difficult road, we are not only faced with the current crisis but we are faced with the memories of the previous loss. Our hearts become heavy with not only the present but the past too. It does not mean that we won’t move past it and in fact I think we rebound quicker than others facing a trial for the first time. However, there may be a period where the toll it takes is heavy.
Despite all we have faced – I still recognize the blessing in the midst of hardships – the more I endure, the easier I find it is to bounce back. While I had an incredibly dark and difficult week, I have pulled out of it and am finding myself feeling joy again and able to focus on the things around me. So for those that have loved ones going through similar struggles, let them process things – don’t simply encourage them to look at the bright side, allow them to cry and retreat for a short period of time – then become an encourager when the time is right.
Danny Gokey – Hope in Front of Me

I loved this video because it depicts what knowing Jesus can do in your life. No matter who you are, what you were, what you are know, you are still a child of God. The video also shows that just because you come to Christ and overcome hardship, it doesn’t mean that hardships will stop occurring – someone else you love may become ill – a loved one may die – you may lose your job – your car may break down – people may abandon you – you may feel completely alone but when you turn over your life to Christ He will bring others into your life that are genuine in their love for you and even when you lose hope – you always find it back again. But you have to choose to move forward and Christ will be there right alongside you step by step.
So that is where I stand today, I may have been hit by some difficult blows but God has provided for me once again even in my despair. My friend is no longer suffering, my father does not need to undergo treatments, for the first time in years I have been cleared for annual mammograms following a scare last fall requiring a breast biopsy, my son is playing baseball and goes to an amazing school where he is thriving, I have a wonderful home, we are living back in Little Rock, we have two crazy dogs and a hamster called R2, I am getting to know my dear friend’s father well while he is here handling her affairs, I have a job that I love and work with amazing women that I deeply respect. I have a lot to be thankful for and most of all I am thankful for God rising me above my grief and leading me back to a heart filled with love, gratitude and praise for Him and all He does in my life.

I have been running through rain that I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith in a struggle against the wind
I’ve seen the dark and the broken places
But I know in my soul no matter how bad it gets, I’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen, there’s hope in front of me

There’s a place at the end of the storm you’ll finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain all fall behind
You open up your eyes and up ahead there’s a big sun shining
Right then and there you realize, you’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen, there’s hope in front of me

There’s a hope still burning
I can feel it rising through the night
And my world’s still turning
I can feel Your love here by my side

You’re my hope
You’re the light I still see it
Your hands are holding me
Even when I don’t believe
Oh, I’ve got to believe, I‘ve got to believe

I still have hope
You are my hope