Come Away

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Today has been a quiet, rest day as most Monday’s are.  Several years ago when I was still working public work, the company I worked for moved us to four day weeks and my day off was Monday.  So, I developed a habit of Monday being my chill day.  We eventually went back to five days, but now that I’m no longer working I’ve once again made Monday my day to catch up on rest.

My husband is in ministry so Sunday’s are very busy days for us and not the sabbath rest so sorely needed. I’m usually exhausted after the weekend, so Monday to the rescue. In the spirit of resting, I’ve laid aside some of the deep thinking and sorting for later.  I have a list of things I want to share with you.  Some things I’ve made notes about, but the time for sharing is not yet. I’m living this in real time, so I have to respect each day as it comes.

After committing to the thirty-one-day writing challenge, A Journey Through Grief, I am more convinced than ever that it was the right thing to do. The writing I have shared and some that I have not shared yet has been therapeutic.  Writing down my thoughts helps me see a clearer picture of where things stand. It helps me gauge how I’m doing.

Talking to people is also therapeutic and last night my writer’s group at church gave me a safe place to pour out my heart.  It reaffirmed some of the writing and helped me put things in perspective. It was a safe place to share some of my deepest grief.  I can’t urge you enough to find a safe person or group to share your grief with.  We thrive so much better in community than we do alone.

My first instinct is always to close the door, curl up in the fetal position and hide under the covers and for a time that might work.  But not for the long haul.  For the long haul, we need friends who support us and will come along beside us.  They don’t have to fix us or make us understand, that is not their job. Their job is to listen when needed and give hugs when necessary.  I’ve been blessed with friends who have done just that.  Sometimes in person, sometimes via text or phone conversation and always through their prayers. And most recently, you dear reader have let me know you hear me and that has made me glad to share with you. I hope my sharing has been a service to you and helped you in some way.

Hoping that Monday has been kind to you and that you too find time during the week to rest and allow your soul to be filled with His peace.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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I Won’t Lose You

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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From the archives – September 21, 2015

I look out my window and see you standing there, all forlorn in your red jacket and shoes.  My heart breaks into a million pieces as you look around lost in another world.

I’m helpless to fix you. I wish I could take you in my arms, hold you tight and make the pain go away.

Memories of things said in haste flood my mind; things I wish I could unsay because I didn’t know. I didn’t know you couldn’t always help it; I didn’t know how bad you were hurting.

How we were all hurting.   Walking around in a fog trying to make sense of the new normal.  In many ways we are all ill – it has changed us.  We dig deep trying to find answers; trying to hold onto hope, but failing in so many ways.

I don’t want you to leave before you go.  I want you full and present while you’re still with us.  I know it’s not about me, it’s not about any of us really.

We’re the burden bearers reaching out to you to offer comfort, accepting the reality that it’s never enough.  I stifle screams for mercy and laugh with you over whimsy and words that have no meaning.

The laughter is the mask that helps us live, otherwise, we’d cry tears unto death.  We won’t give in without fighting.  I won’t lose you.  You are still you.,

I wait for a glimmer of your essence and thank God for you. I blink away tears as I watch you walk away and I pray for mercy, strength, and peace.

Later, I’ll cry those tears and hope they wash everything new again.

 

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I came across the above words from the blog archives last night as I was planning ahead for today’s post:

Journal – October 5, 2018

I still remember the day I looked out my window and saw Mom standing on the sidewalk beside her house.  She had on her favorite denim dress, red canvas, shoes and a red jacket.  Red was always one of her colors. I will never forget how she was standing there, staring across the yard.  She seemed so defenseless and I just wanted to run to her, hug her close and tell her everything would be alright. That memory still breaks my heart.

One thing that stands out to me was the resolve not to lose her.  It didn’t matter if she was losing memories, I would remember for both of us.  I told her on several occasions that she didn’t have to worry about what she couldn’t remember because I’d remember for her. And many times I did just that. She’d ask questions about people or events and I’d give her the answers. As many times as it took.

Another way that I held on to not losing her was humor.  She could still say things to make me laugh.  At times in the middle of a conversation, she would come out with a one-liner that hit the nail on the head that made us all take notice.  She loved to tease people and make them smile.

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Mom as a teenager teasing one of her nephews.

As devastating as Alzheimer’s is I’m convinced that if we hold on tight it can never truly take away the essence of a person.  Mom’s personality still shone through and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’m starting to realize that even though she is gone now I can never truly lose her. She will always live in my heart and my memories. Maybe you can relate.

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I hope you don’t mind my sharing from the archives. Yesterday’s post was draining and in preparing for today’s I couldn’t find direction until I came across this old post and it somehow seemed like the right time to share it again.  Memoires are an important part of the grieving process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back MONDAY for more of the journey? I don’t plan to post on Sunday’s. Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Heaven Is Sounding Sweeter

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30: 11-12 NIV

 

Journal – Around August 23:

I love you, Mama. You were a beautiful woman.  It was a privilege and honor to be your daughter.  So many things on my heart to say but I don’t know where to start.

You were there when I took my first breath and I was there when you took your last. Thank you for allowing me to be there in your last moment.

We were two peas in a pod you and I and I don’t know how I’m going to do life without you.  I think of so many things that I wish could have been done differently but I know you wouldn’t want me to have regrets. You’d want me to remember the good times and smile about them and think of you being happy.  You were happy much of the time.  You had been singing a lot the weeks before you passed.  And, even up to the last you held onto your sense of humor teasing us and making us laugh.

You were my confidant so many times and I was yours.  Everything just feels a little different now. I know God is with me and he understands my hurt.  I know I will feel his peace again and that he will help me say goodbye to what was and accept what is.

I love you so much, Mama. I wasn’t ready to let you go but I am happy for you because I know you are not suffering anymore.  Your mind is clear again and your bones are healed.  You are dancing on the streets of Gold.  I told you when I arrived on Saturday that we were going to dance. We never got to dance, but I’m sure Jesus is a better dance partner than me.

I’m sure you are busy catching up with everybody and telling Jesus how much you love him. You never lost your faith in him. Wait for me, Mama because I will see you again one day.  I truly understand now why people say heaven is sounding sweeter all the time.

Goodnight mama, thanks for everything. I will never forget you and I will always hold you close in my heart my sweet Ladybug.

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I believe the night I wrote the above entry was the night that I listened to Elvis hymns on my phone.  I used to sing songs to my mom at night and sometimes we’d listen to Elvis sing Peace in the Valley. One night after her death I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to Elvis until I was ready to sleep. Music is a wonderful way to remember someone and it can be therapeutic in the grief process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Write 31 Days – A Journey Through Grief

There is a table of contents at the bottom of this post for the #write31days challenge.

For the month of October, there will be a group of bloggers writing feverishly for the whole month (most days) and sharing thoughts with you on multiple topics.  It is called Write 31 Days.

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I’ve decided to take you on my journey of processing grief after losing my mother on August 13 of this year.  The grief is still raw and I don’t know how this journey will progress.  Some of the things I share with you will be notes and thoughts I kept on an app on my phone so that I could capture my thoughts about losing her while they were fresh. Those will be shared with minimal editing so that you can have a sense of my thought process.  Others will be current real-time thoughts as they happen to come along from day to day. There will also be memories because I am finding that the memories are an important step in navigating grief. I will also share scriptures that I find helpful in my journey. It won’t be strictly chronological but I think you’ll be able to follow my wandering.

One important thing to know.  I’m not sharing this to be sentimental or emotional, although there will be elements of that I’m sure.  I’m not sharing because I want people to constantly tell me how sorry they are.  I assume if you are a decent person, then on some level, you are sorry that I have lost someone I love. Many people have been more than kind with prayers, cards, and thoughts.   But rather I am sharing because writing is the only way I know to get my thoughts out of my head so that I can understand how I’m moving forward.  Since this is a journey I need to take I thought maybe you’d allow me to share it with you and maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

If you want to engage in conversation in the comments you are more than welcome to do so.  I’d love to hear how you process grief.  And, just as a final thought, I don’t consider grief to be all tears and downturned faces.  There are also moments of laughter, hope, and joy that my sweet Mama is now in the arms of Jesus. Hopefully, you will see elements of all that in the writing.

My hope is that it will speak to you and that someday hence it will not become a regret that I shared too much or allowed you to see the raw, tender places in the depths of my heart.

This post is day one and each day I will share a link below to the newest post.  Each daily post will give you a date or an approximate date that it was written just so you have somewhat of a timeline.

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I have more stories and memories to share on the blog so I hope you continue to check back. Thanks for reading!

Grace for the Journey,

Teresa

This Writing Life

 

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Currently, my writing garden is mostly clumps of dirt. Wet, heavy, soggy, bogged down clumps of dirt.  (Trying to insert a garden metaphor to this post – seeds and all that)

People talk about their muse, and only being able to write when she shows up.  Is the muse always a she? Other’s talk about writing whether she shows up or not.  They say writing is a discipline so make it a daily habit.  I see the argument on both sides, however, I tend to lean more toward the needing to be inspired category of writing. If I try to write when there is no inspiration it feels flat (much like what I’m writing now, but I will muddle through because you have a right to know if I’ve stopped writing or not).  I’d like to know the answer to that as well.

I hope I’ve not stopped writing, but the truth is that for a long while the words have been scant (like a garden without flowers. Sorry).  I mentioned it several months ago.

I love words and how they interact; I love aligning words to paint a picture (or arrange them into a lovely bouquet. again, sorry).  The writing of words is in my blood.  I can’t imagine a life without writing.

The truth is I’m struggling with words and life and fatigue.  I feel as if I’ve lost my passion for all the things that make my heart go pitty-pat.  I’ve been so consumed with caregiving and managing my own self-care that frankly, I’ve become depleted.  I’m not complaining, just trying to put the absence of words in perspective.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and wondering lately if maybe this season of life does not include writing.  Is it possible that I’m to put the pen and paper on the shelf for a time so I can concentrate on other priorities?  I don’t have any clear answers.

What I do know is that my husband needs my support; my parent’s health needs require our help and my own health needs dictate that I must have proper rest in order to not deplete my energy or cause a flare. Most days that is all I can manage.  So, I don’t write.

I also know that social media hogs more of my free time than I’d like to admit.  Because it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort or brain power.  The time would be better spent reading which is a necessary thing for writers to be doing.

I miss the not writing.  I think a few of you might too, based on some things  others have said.  I don’t want to neglect the gift of writing and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that people can’t live without my words, but I also don’t want to let down the handful of people who tell me my writing is meaningful to them.

So, I’ve plucked the petals one by one, to write, not to write, to write….  Do I shut down the blog, keep it open without writing, or make an effort to write at least once a week or….. on and on.  What about social media? Reading? You get the picture.  I’m really not clear at this point.

So, what does all this mean?

  1.  For now, the blog will stay open (you can go back to the beginning and read all the posts if you’d like).
  2. There will not be a regular posting schedule (nothing new about that). In all honesty, I wouldn’t expect much until Fall ish.
  3. I will write when I can and if you subscribe you will get an email when I do.
  4. I may participate in the 31 Days of writing this October.
  5. I have already done away with my blog Facebook page and will be spending less time on my personal Facebook page.
  6. I’m rarely on twitter and will consider dumping it entirely
  7. I really don’t understand google + and never go there so will dump that account if it’s not necessary for my gmail.
  8. I don’t have Instagram (wrong phone) but would love an account. Because pictures. I enjoy taking pictures and sometimes they speak when words can’t or won’t.
  9. I will attempt to read more for spiritual growth and for writing growth.
  10. I will be spending time praying about the direction of my writing. I appreciate your prayers too.
  11. This fall I will be attending a writers workshop which will help give some clarity.
  12. I will update you when I have more insight. Please be patient I don’t know how long it will take.
  13. Comments are useful and welcome as I would love to know your thoughts.

In conclusion – I am a writer.  Who is not writing much these days. Rather than stringing words together in a passionate fevered pitch and seeing them bloom on the page, it has been more like standing in a downpour turning clods of dirt. While I’m being drenched by the deluge, I will continue to plant seeds in hopes that they will not wash away and in due time will produce a harvest.  (How’s that for a garden metaphor).

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Digging in grace,

Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things 2015 Wanted Me To Know

100_4469.21. NOD TO THE NOT (it’s ok to pause)

It’s ok NOT to choose a word for the year.  I had chosen a word in previous years but at the beginning of 2015 it just wasn’t a priority.  I survived the year without a special focus word.

Taking a blogging break is ok.  I trusted that my loyal readers, those that are my community, would not forget about me and would be waiting to encourage me when I came back.  They didn’t, and they were.

2. THE WORDS WILL COME, GIVE THEM TIME (After all, you are a writer)

I rediscovered the joy of using a pencil on paper.  Nothing can compare to that sweet, scratchy sound.  I need to practice this art more often.

Even though the writing was meager in 2015 and not writing scared me a little, I learned to trust that, in God’s time, the words would flow again. Because I have to write.

I want my writing to make people feel as if they have come home.

Hope*ologie was great, but Hope*writers is even better. I need a writer(ly) community that says what I do matters.

3. PRACTICE CONSISTENCY AND OBEDIENCE (how hard can it be)

I’m not a morning person, and there is no shame in that.  Not being a morning person may sometimes mean that I do better with my quiet time in the evening rather than the morning.  One thing I’m learning about quiet time is that consistency is key.  Regular time in the word is beneficial no matter what time of day you engage.

Sacrificing for Lent is not the point.  Sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

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4. EMBRACE  THERAPY, ACCEPTANCE, AND RESTORATION  (God is your buckler)

Binge watching 7th Heaven preached to me in lots of ways; it was my therapy for a large chunk of time during the first half of 2015.  One of my favorite posts in 2015 was What I Learned From Watching 7th Heaven.

Y’all, I fell in love with Southwestern Virginia.  We spent some lovely days visiting a friend and explored the back roads near her hometown.  It was restorative and gave me much Joy In My Father’s World. And, lots of pictures.

Back in 2013, I realized that I need to make peace with My mom having Alzheimer’s, but it wasn’t until sometime in 2015 that I was able to accept that it is what it is, and only God has all the answers.  Instead of wasting time grieving over what we’ve lost, I’m starting to embrace the path we are on and I’m beginning to realize that you can never truly lose someone, you just adjust to a new normal.

More than ever in 2015 the truth in Psalm 18:2 sustained me:

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I  also relied on Psalm 91 and knowing that he covers me with his feathers; He is my buckler which according to Merriam-Webster means “one that shields and protects.”  I have discovered that I love the word buckler.

I also found strength from the support of my husband. He takes care of me and loves me well. I love doing life with him.

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5. ENJOY A SEASON OF STRENGTH AND QUIET (embrace the real you)

I’ve always loved Autumn, but this year I realized that the way I describe Autumn also describes me.  Makes perfect sense.

I see Fall as both a little bit spicy and practical.  It is no-nonsense, but serendipitous all at the same time.  It is a warm hug as well as a brusque nod in passing. It is a steadfast heart that loves without condition, but won’t be trampled.  It is chaotic and fragile, but stands strong in the storm.  It is a little rough around the edges, as well as gloriously beautiful in spirit.  Like me.

2015 taught me that by God’s grace I am stronger than I think.

October loves me – she sent me several postcards this year during the 31 Days Writing Challenge

November is a melancholy month when the skies are gray and somber, and the first real chill is in the air.  Lights come on earlier, and we settle in for quieter evenings. I’m ok with that. Because I’m a little bit melancholy.

Advent is a time of waiting for “Emmanuel, God with us“, or as my mother says, “I’m so happy, God is in the house.”  A welcome note of praise to celebrate the arrival of the Christ Child…

and then, we slipped quietly from one year into the next.

Growing in grace,

Teresa

Linking up with Emily for What I Learned in 2015

Ponder

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Indigo hues splash riotously across the melancholy twilight sky;

an artist gone mad amidst the shades of dusk.

A fitting departure to the bittersweet time before the dark settles in.

Lights glimmer from humble abodes, sharing the comfort of the night.

I too shall settle in and savor memories of Indigo. (teresalhardymon)

November brings a touch more gray to the skies; the night settles in earlier and lights shine out from neighborhood windows like little beacons of hope guiding us through the dark, promising that all will be well.

This time of year is a little melancholy, inviting us to sip a hot drink while we ponder deeper things and dream of promises yet to be fulfilled.  We wrap a warm throw about our shoulders, sigh deeply and realize that a slow down is just what we needed.

Slowing in grace,

Teresa

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PS I’ve shared Shades of Indigo before, but thought it ok to share again, since it was inspired by a November sky and the way November makes me feel.