Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Charley's Insight

A little over two years ago, just before Thanksgiving, an ear infection suddenly turned into a life threatening episode with meningitis for Charley.  It still amazes me how quickly we found ourselves transported from the comfort of our living room to the sterile environment of the Critical Care unit.  As I hovered nearby, watching Charley wake up to awareness of who we were and slowly accept what had happened to him, I could not help but wonder what might have been ....  We have always been a family that understood the importance of hugging someone and telling them that you love them, just in case ... this took on an even greater significance after Charley's near brush with eternity.

When Charley was transferred out of Critical Care and into a regular room to fully recover from his ordeal the first thing he wanted was a Bible.  I could not put my finger on it, at the time, but I did notice that there was a greater sense of urgency and need behind his wanting to read the scriptures.  I admit that I was a little baffled to see him break down and weep when he got to John 3:16 ... such a familiar verse in our lives and yet this time it was read with great emotion.  After he had fully recovered and returned to work again, he eventually told me that he had seen some things while he was hovering between our world and the eternal ... mostly peaceful things, but some, which he would not go into detail, were unsettling.  He mentioned, briefly, seeing the faces of demons ... and other things ... which only confirmed how near death he had been.

Charley's awareness of what could have been ... then ... helped him to face what was happening earlier this year, when he realized that the surgery to remove the tumor from his spine was not as successful as we had hoped.  He had already been given a glimpse of the eternal, so he could face it with peace ... he knew what to expect and he knew where he was going.  After seeing everyone near and dear to him, and expressing his love for them that weekend, he suddenly blurted out, "Well, I think it's time to go."

If I ever had even the tiniest doubt about eternity, they were all quickly dispelled in those moments of watching him peacefully prepare to meet his Maker.  To this day I still wonder over what he saw, as he reached for the ceiling ... and though I could not make out what he was saying, there was no doubt that it was something marvelous to behold, as he spoke nonstop towards the end, with great excitement in his voice.

This insight into eternity was something that Charley wanted everyone he loved and knew to share.  Charley prayed every single day for the salvation of every single person he encountered in life.  I can still hear his voice echoing in my mind as he prayed for all of his nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters and friends ... and he always ended his prayers thanking God for the gift of salvation and the love of Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, I hope that you, dear reader, have received this gift of salvation ... for indeed, God ... so loved ... the world ... that He gave ... His Son ... so that you, too ... might face death and eternity with peace.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Share the Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-7~

This passage has become a familiar activity throughout the many trials in my life, taking comfort and sharing in comfort.  Such a simple word ... comfort ... but so full of depth and meaning ... for in receiving comfort I take into my life, my soul, if you will ... love ... hope ... peace ... and then I have the privilege of sharing in comforting others.

Yet He knows the way I have taken; 
when He has tested me, 
I will emerge as pure gold. ~Job 23:10~

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Thirteen years does not seem like a very long time, but for some cats it is ...

I cherished our last few weeks together ...

She will be greatly missed ...

Rest in Peace


6/29/00 - 11/12/13

Sunday, October 20, 2013

One Thing Remains

We sang this song during worship today,
it touched my heart in a powerful way ...
so much so that I needed to "capture" it here,
so that I can return to it as often as possible ...

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains
One thing remains
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

In death,
In life,
I’m confident
covered by the power
of Your great love
My debt is paid,
there’s nothing that can
separate my heart
from Your great love...
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

and just in case I forget what it sounds like ...

One Thing Remains
sung by Jesus Culture

Thursday, October 10, 2013


This month is full of birthdays ...

nearly two dozen that I know of ...



our grandson's first


another first


which we will celebrate

without you ...

we will have your favorites

something Asian

cake and ice cream

most likely chocolate

a glass of wine (for me)

maybe a movie ...

all the things you would do

if you were here

instead of there

I'll plaster on a smile

and laugh ...

for their sake

and then

behind closed doors

(or not)

I'll cry ....

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2nd

Eighteen years ago
we started painting a life together.
A life full of various colors.
Our love, a shade of red,
and laughter, a hint of blue.
A touch of green held our quiet, 
peaceful moments,
with a sunny yellow 
filtering in warm contentment.
Purple, sometimes royal in brilliance,
shaded our times of renewal and growth.
A spark of orange would appear
during our daring adventures.
The occasional dab of grey
was added here and there
during times of sorrow or loss.
The colors varied with the seasons,
sometimes bright and bold,
sometimes a soothing, shy pastel.

Our vow, 18 years ago today,
was "for as long as we both shall live."
You put down your brushes
three months ago
and left me with a canvas
not yet complete.
You see what is already done
while I work to blend the colors right.
I labor on, but not alone,
for the One who guided both our hands
is with me still ... 
helping me finish the work
that He started in us.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Measuring Time

I could count the days, weeks, months ...

even hours ...

since you left this realm ...

but, it wouldn't change a thing ....





Plain and simple.

I go through the motions ...

wake up,

cup of coffee, or two, or three ...

seek God's face ...

stay busy ...

some days easier than others ...

pay bills ...

run errands ...

groceries ...

church ...

take care of the kids ...

and the pets ...

and the house ...

walk with a friend ...

phone calls ...

live ...

breathe ....

til it's time to go to sleep ...

then toss and turn ...

til it's time to wake up again ....

Friday, July 26, 2013


You've been gone a mere two months,

and still ...

my heart aches

like the very first morning,

with each reminder of your absence.

I could change that,

remove the clothes,

the personal effects,

and pack away those things

which move me to tears

with just a glimpse.

But, I won't

because even though those things

might cause me to gasp in grief

I want them ...

no, I need them, near.

Otherwise I think

the loneliness would become

much too L.O.U.D.

I'm slowly adjusting to the ache

because I know it just means

my heart


beats a little differently.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Have Encircled Me

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.
This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
~Psalm 139:1-6~

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Don't Cling to Me

Someone recently said to me that within the next 21 days Charley would "communicate" with me by doing a particular thing.

You know, honestly, I would love to hear from my husband ... 

but it doesn't work that way.

I have lots of questions for him ...


how did you know it was time to go?

what should I do about ...?

what do you think about ...?

do you miss me, like I miss you???

Jesus knows and understands this emotional attachment I struggle with ....

He said to Mary Magdalene, “Don’t cling to Me,” when she finally recognized Him.

If someone tells you not to do something, it's usually because you are doing it ... which means she WAS clinging to Him.

I get that ... totally.

I do not think that Charley would want me to "cling to him" either ....

If I'm honest with myself, I should not attempt to look for Charley HERE ... 

I should fully and completely expect him to be THERE.

I should trust my memories of our 18 years together to reassure me that, yes, he did love me ... after all he certainly went above and beyond as a husband and father, working to provide for our needs until he could, literally, no longer walk out the door ....

and if he knew I wanted to know ... I believe ... he would ... without hesitation ... say he missed me.

But he's not here .... he's THERE ... 

.... and he's not an angel watching over me.

And that's okay ...

I already have a Shepherd taking care of me ...

And he would appreciate that.

I think the reason that Heaven is Eternal is because we, even in casting off our mortal tent, need that "time" to process ... grasp ... absorb ... the "inexpressible" of which we cannot speak.

I may continue to weep every day for what I miss, but I cannot cling to or try to bind Charley to earth ...

because I love him ... that much.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Lord is my Rock

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,

my God, my mountain where I seek refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

~Psalm 18:2~

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Sure Thing

But as for me, Lord, 

my prayer to You is for a time of favor.

 In Your abundant, faithful love, 

God, answer me with Your sure salvation. 

~Psalm 69:13~

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beautiful Eulogy

There used to be a time when we were fine living life with no particular religious bend. Pretending to be our own Gods inventing our own system of belief so as to not depend on anything other than our own self governing consent. Defending an impending doom with no perceived need to concede or repent. Presuming our innocence in a sense dissent. The sting of death was only the inevitable end of everything we could never rightly understand or comprehend. We used to fear the unknown until God made himself known and atoned mending the relationship between God and men. Giving his life as a ransom for many when he died and ascended and in that one event the certainty of eternal death was circumvented. Making a way for the day when history stops and time suspends. Spending eternity in fellowship that never ends. We see the greatest expression of God's love extended in the moment when those who were once enemies instead became God's friends.

When it is my time to go, go ahead and take me home, I know I'll be with you. I know I'll be with you.  When it is my time to go, go ahead and take me home, go ahead, I'd rather go, I wanna be with you.

How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine. Well acquainted with pain and strained relationships. Friendships that suffer from long distances, or even worse they get severed from something more severe. And He still hasn't wiped away all my tears yet. My cheeks get wet every now and then. Even when I give my best, I know I fall short. I get scared when the balls in my court. Focused on, my performance, wretched and poor. It makes the message more real when I preach it. I'm not there yet so I'm reaching, reaching for a goal, to stand before my King and be speechless. Then, never again, will I question if his grace is sufficient to cover my sin. Cause death is gone, and all the effects of, evil and wrong will be conquered when His kingdom comes. So this is my hope and my prayer. The air that I'll breath in eternity with lungs that never fail me. If it pleases my Lord, and only by Your grace, use my life till it's poured out for Your sake. Until then I'll remain where You have me, with joy when I feel unhappy. And a peace that surpasses all my understanding, my life is in the hands of Your love everlasting.

When it is my time to go, go ahead and take me home, I know I'll be with you. I know I'll be with you.  When it is my time to go, go ahead and take me home, go ahead, I'd rather go, I wanna be with you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our Hearts

All this has happened to us,
but we have not forgotten You
or betrayed Your covenant.
Our hearts have not turned back;
our steps have not strayed from Your path.
~Psalm 44:17-18~

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Path Called Grief

It has been four long weeks

since Charley left our world for his eternal home.

I have yet to get through a single day without crying.

Most days I stay busy, going through the motions.

Every now and then I'm pulled out of my thoughts

and a touch of grace soothes my lonely, aching heart.

I'm thankful that my grief is not without hope,

because I know that I will see him again ...

yet ... with each passing day ... I miss him more.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bittersweet Moments

Today is our first Father's Day without Charley.  My heart sank when I flipped the calendar from May to June and saw what was coming.  I wondered how on earth I would get through this day.  Then I remembered what happened years ago when I woke from a dream, which was a very vivid encounter with an angelic being, who handed me a precious little girl whose age I guessed to be somewhere between one and two.  This precious little girl and I instantly bonded, hugging and loving on each other as if we were already intimately acquainted in that special mother and child kind of way.  But then, all of a sudden, I had to give her back to this angelic being ... I hesitated, but only for a second, because I was literally flooded with a peaceful reassurance that she would be okay, that this was the right thing to do.

I woke up from that dream thinking, "what the heck was that all about?"  Most of my dreams make sense in some way or another, even if they're the product of a gastric afterthought, but this one impressed itself deep into my soul and left me wondering ...  We had been foster parents for a little while, so I thought maybe I would be getting a little girl soon and I would have to deal with the usual emotions that come with such encounters, caring for them and then giving them back ... but this felt like it was suppose to mean more to me ....

I walked into the kitchen that morning and grabbed a cup of coffee, then glancing at the calendar to remind myself what day it was, something a busy Mom often needs to do ... I stopped ... to stare ... in wonder ... at the date. It was Heather's birthday!  I suddenly realized what had happened.  My second born, who died shortly before turning four months old, was that precious little girl in my dream.  Here it was some 20 plus years later and she was reassuring me that she was okay and that her life was now filled with love and peace.    Somehow I really needed to know this on that particular birthday.  It was a turning point in my life.  I decided right then that I would make a birthday cake and I would, from that moment on, celebrate her life.

So, when I flipped the calendar and saw that Father's Day was looming on the horizon, I already had a good ten years of learning how to actively celebrate the life of someone who was no longer physically with us.  However, I wasn't so sure I could do that with Charley's loss being so recent and my heart still raw with grief.  I'm pretty sure the prayer that I shot up at that moment was one of those groaning ones, something like, "Ugh!"

Then, in God's perfect timing, that very morning a friend "happen" to stop by to visit me. She expressed her sympathy, handed me a card and after a few minutes of chatting, she hugged me and left.  I opened the card and found a gift certificate to one of Charley's favorite places to eat out.  I should not have been surprised ... it's just like God to send me reminders that He cares about these little things that mean so much to us.

So, yesterday, I braced myself for the onslaught of Father's Day greetings and comments on Facebook and in commercials ... and prepared myself to celebrate a life that I'm still crying over every hour on the hour ... and then ... this morning ... I had a dream ... my first dream ... of him ... in the three weeks since Charley said, "I think it's time to go."  The dream ended with us walking to a ball field to see a game ... he went on ahead of me and I was going to catch up and find him, right after I got done talking to someone ... as I walked towards the crowded bleachers and wondered how I would ever find him among all those people I saw him across the way and at that very moment he saw me ... I hurried to reach him . and . he ran . to me . and when he got close enough he grabbed me . smothering me with a hug and a kiss.

I woke up with a smile ... and a thankful heart.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The New Normal

Dear Charley,

It has been ten . very . long . days . since you left us ...

I am still on the verge of tears all the time and ready to weep at every turn ...

Even the simplest things are different now ...

shopping for groceries ...

making coffee ...

fixing dinner ...

washing clothes ...

winding down the evening ...

bedtime prayers.

Your boy is doing a great job interceding for us,

but it's just . so . different ....

I'm trying to make wise decisions about our future ...

but I can't seem to make up my mind on what to do ...

I really hope I don't screw this up.

School lets out tomorrow ...

I'm dreading the long summer without you.

My heart aches for you ... so much.

I miss you holding my hand ...

telling me that you love me ...

kissing me goodnight.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Will Love You Always

The love of my life left me in the wee hours of the morning on Memorial Day.

His journey on earth was done.

His fight with cancer won ... 

for sometimes healing isn't what we want or expect it to be, here on earth, 

but at the first steps of eternity.

I will be forever grateful that he wanted to pass away at home.  

I admit that I was nervous about that at first ... 

but I soon discovered that I was literally standing on holy ground.

It is an amazing thing to watch someone with one foot in both worlds ... 

crossing over ... 

jabbering away with excitement ... 

sometimes incoherent, sometimes clearly expressing his love for us ... 

and for God.

Wavering ... but only because he was caught,

between his love for us and his greater love for God ...

waiting til that right moment ...

to embrace the fullness of Life.

Leaving behind bittersweet tears ...

of grief mingled with joy,

because he no longer suffers,

but we remain ... to wait our turn ...

to join him on this blessed journey.

I will love you always, Charley Armstrong ... 

I will always ... 

love you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

On Being a Grandmother

I've been gushing over being a Grandmother ever since the "thought" of being one popped up. Suzy had her own unique way of letting us know that she was expecting, but it didn't matter how she told us, I was bound to express my joy with tears. I get those tears a lot when I see this precious child.

When I was growing up I would see television shows or cartoons of Grandmothers sharing pictures of their grandchildren.  I never really understood the commentaries of such events, whether amusing or critical.

Now I get it.

And, now I get why my own Grandmother enjoyed me 
sending her pictures of her grandchildren.

I wish that I had sent her more.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Taking it One Day at a Time

So, my last entry, posted the end of August, started out by exclaiming how I couldn't believe it had been five months since I had blogged, and now I'm finally blogging again seven months later. It's not that I procrastinate writing something, I just don't think about it. I'm on FaceBook every single day, and my status updates there keep everyone up to date on what's happening in my life. This blog was meant for deeper thoughts and revelations, but finding the time to pull together those thoughts are few and far between ... yet, here I am, on a rainy, cold Easter morning, trying to sum up half a year of "living the life" which I'm now taking one day at a time.

In the last year I've learned that I can no longer plan ahead, not even a few days. I've learned that I need to write all our appointments in pencil, whether they be doctor visits, tennis practice or church activities. Between the weather cancelling events, unexpected illnesses and just plain fatigue on my part, plans change.  That use to bother me, because it was just one more thing outside of my control ... really ... one more thing that I can't have a handle on? But, I'm finding out that this is the best way to learn to TRUST God, when you don't know what the future will bring, even if it's just tomorrow and not "years" that define "future" ....  I'm not exactly "comfortable" living one day at a time, but I'm getting there and I'm finding that the more I "let go" of what it is I want to control, the less stress I feel and peace invades my life a little bit more.

So, what has happened in the last seven months? The kids survived their first semester of public high school. They're learning how to interact with people who have different ways of thinking, or believing, than they do. We became grandparents for the first time. Our grandson brings a new dimension of precious love and laughter into our lives. I only wish we lived closer so that we could see him and his parents more often. Charley's new treatment plan did not work, so he began another one which seems to have more effective blood results.  My cousins and Uncle, from Ohio, blessed us with a visit during Thanksgiving.  We added another dog to the family. Macey is a sweetheart and great company for Delilah. We entered the world of sports, with our exchange student playing soccer and Donovan playing tennis.  Donovan also picked up the trumpet, so we're back to attending school concerts, which we haven't done since Joey played the tuba in high school. I joined the youth leaders at our church for a study in "true love waits" and have really enjoyed getting to know these wonderful young people. I also stepped into the role of team leader for the third Monday night meal ministry that our church serves to the community.  We did some respite fostering where we enjoyed having a lively 16 month old for a weekend. Most days I need a nap to keep up with all these activities. *smile*

We recently decided that it would be in our best interest to sell our house and move into something that would be more affordable for all of us. Our number one priority is God's will, and where that leads is really unknown to us, at this time. We hope we will be staying in our present town, with the kids attending the same school and close to our church. Ideally, I would like for Mandy and her roommate to remain with us wherever we go, but whether or not that's God's will remains to be seen. I try not to get anxious over the thought of them not being with us ... that's just borrowing trouble .... and not taking it "one day at a time."