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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve

Happy New Year

May the worst of 2012 be from the best of 2011.

Blessings ~ the year is almost ended ~ heating oil in the tank ~ new de-icer in the water trough ~ hay ready to be set out for horses and sheep ~ farm is readied for the coming storm ~ Psalms 91:11 ~

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Christmas With Friends"

The snowflakes are lovely,
Though 'Snowmen' are few;
Fond mem'ries sustain us,
Now isn't that true?

Recall the huge mantle
All hung with our socks?
We played on the floors
With our dolls and our blocks.

The popcorn we strung wrapped
Around the whole tree;
The games that we played
Aren't on your TV.

We all could play checkers,
Or skate or jump rope;
Our simple lives thrived
On much kindness and hope.

The foods were all splendid--
Sweet holiday fare--
We dine like that daily
With never a care.

The REAL CHRISTMAS taught us
to follow a Star;
We've traveled great pathways
And now here we are.

We sing Alleluias
The praise never ends;
But nothing compares with
The LOVE of our FRIENDS.

We're blest to have found this
Our haven of joy,
God bless thankful
For one tiny Boy."

~ Harriette Winters

Blessings ~ God has blessed me with you dear folks who read, pray and comment on this blog. You have made these past long months bearable. May God hold you in His righteous right hand of mercy, grace and love now and forever. Amen ~

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Dave,

It's almost Christmas Eve eve and as we get closer to Christmas, my feet drag slower and slower. It's been a day weeks month and more of pain, sorrow and grief. People who barely know me have asked the Most Intensely Personal Questions and it has Boggled my mind! People have treated me with utmost shabbiness, dare I say even rudeness, and have felt ??? compelled to ask me "so, are you moving now that Dave is gone?" or "where are you spending Christmas?" or "are you selling the farm?" To the woman who asked the later, I was tempted to say, "does it matter? You can't afford it." but, at the last moment, God stayed my mouth.

Bless Him.

I think.

To the woman...why is it mostly women who are so rude???...who said, "where are you spending Christmas?" I responded, "where ever I spend it, I'll do my best to be happy." She doesn't have the best reputation; was she asking so she could case the joint? One feller asked, "what was wrong with you the other night?" I said, "some days are harder than others." He said, "yeah, but you usually just let things slide off your back." I tell you what, Fat Boy; grief doesn't slide; it's dead weight pinned to my shoulders and I carry it, daily. This is my life right now; if you don't like it, do us both a favor, keep it to yourself and move on.

I do strive to be happy and when that's not possible...which is the majority of the time...I strive to be content. In contentment, at least, I am succeeding.

What I want to say to people, and may yet do, is, "If you're a Christian, please pray for me." Although, surely if they were Christian, they wouldn't be asking such rude questions, right? Ah, I can hear you now, "Jeremiah, you think this is real; you've never known it was all a game." Like you told your cousin one time, "Sandra is the thing of substance. She's totally unaware most people are outward appearances only." Oh Dave, there will Never be anyone like you; God broke the mold when He made you. I'm just so grateful He allowed me to be your companion wife; He blessed me in ways only He understands! No one, save me, will ever know why your nickname for me was 'Jeremiah'; that name was laid to rest the day you died. So many dreams were laid to rest that day; I suppose new dreams will be dreamt but they will never, I don't think, be as wonderful as the dreams you and I had together nor as the realization of some of those dreams.

Over the Christmas holidays, I'm keeping Mary and Donald's three children. Yes, you're right, I have lost my mind. If not before, certainly since -laughing-. It saves Mary and Donald a boatload of child care fees and it's been, mostly, good for the children and for me. Although, it did take my breath when K. said to me, "I think Sam is sad because Dave died. You're probably sad too, aren't you?" Oh child. I pray to God you never know!

Nelson has put me in touch with someone who is going to help me. I've spoken with G. on the phone and none of my bells went off. You would always tease me, Dave, about my ability to discern when something or someone was "off". God has blessed me with discernment and He has taught me to listen to that "still, small whisper". What a Friend We Have in Jesus indeed! Things are still up in the air but there's light and I have breathing room now; a good thing because so many times I struggle to catch my breath.

Lately, it has been the strangest of times. I've wanted to wallow in grief, even though the three children need, nay demand my attention, but God had other plans. Several people have told me, "Oh, you're so strong; you'll be fine." They seem nonplussed when I say, "No, I'm not strong and have wanted to quit, to just stop eating and die. My purpose is gone; I am bereft of even breath and there are times I catch myself gulping air, my body depleted of oxygen and starving for air." There are those, I am quite sure, who would condemn me, a Bible believing Christian, for saying my purpose is gone. But Dave, you have been my purpose these last twenty-plus years. We saved each other from certain horror and, for me, the saving grace is knowing you made peace with Christ the week before you died. Was that what these last decades have been about? Then, Beloved, it is...worth it all.

Bless you for giving me the assurance you loved me. Cathy was the love of your youth and, after she died,  it took years for your grief to subside. Even after we married, you mourned Cathy; even so, I was glad to be second because it was better than not at all. Most women will go to their graves never knowing the love of a great man; bless God I knew your love. In the week before you died, you told me, "as much as I ever loved Cathy, I have loved you more." Oh Dave, what a gift you gave me; bless your heart, you prepared me as well as I was able to bear.

Merry Christmas, Dave. Thank you for loving me and thank you for letting me love you.

Blessings ~ Christmas ~ oxygen ~ Dave ~ three children ~ God's arm around my shoulder and His hand over my mouth ~

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

"Those who know your name trust you,
because you have never deserted
those who seek your help." 

"My dear child,
you must believe in God,
no matter what the clergy tell you."

"Duty is ours, events are God's."

"There is but one way to tranquility of mind and happiness. Let this therefore be always ready at hand with thee, both when thou wakest early in the morning, and when thou goest late to sleep, to account no external thing thine own, but commit all these to God." ~ Epictetus ~

"Nothing is worth more than this day."
~ Goethe ~

"Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we shall soon see them in their proper figures." ~ Joseph Addison

"Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations and say continually: the Lord is my strength and my shield: my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. He is not only with me...but in me...and I in Him. ..." ~ St. Francis de Sales

"Lord, I know not what to ask of Thee;
Thou knowest what I need;
Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. 
O Father, give to Thy child, that which he himself knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either for crosses or consolations; I simply present myself before Thee. I open my heart to Thee. 
Behold my needs which I know not myself;
see and do according to Thy tender mercy.

"...did you not know I must be about my Father's business?"
~ Luke 2: 49

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Roland ~ Debbie ~ Beckwith family ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ me ~

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia Dela Aldobrandeschi

There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it to-day. Take Heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look. Contessina I beseech you to look.

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty: believe me, that angel's hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Our joys, too: be not content with them as joys, they too conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and of purpose, so full of beauty--beneath its covering--that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then to claim it: that is all! But courage you have; and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

by FRA GIOVANNI, A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia Dela Aldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513

Blessings ~ Giovanni ~ "...pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home" ~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas card 2011

This is the photo placed inside our my Christmas cards this year. Dave and I were in the Azores Islands, about one thousand miles off the coast of Portugal. When we traveled, I'd wear a red or other brightly colored scarf so Dave could find me out in a crowd easier; it was one of our safety measures.

Today, someone asked, "how are you doing?" Well, I have bad days and then I have worse days and that's the way it is right now. Those two "almost normal, almost ordinary days"...well, they didn't last. That's one thing about grief; it catches me one me so blasted unaware. Writing Christmas cards today, putting photos in for some family and friends was meant to be the remembering of good times. It worked too, for a while and then the reality of now set in; knowing Dave is gone and I'll never hear his voice again, seem him again, hear him ask, "How's everything down at the barn?" It's a gut punch, all over again. 

Earlier this evening, I went to a 4-H volunteer training meeting but that didn't last. I left about twenty minutes after I got there; it was just too much, too soon and a mistake on my part to think I'm up for any kind of volunteer work right now. In fifteen minutes, there's a community meeting and I'm not any more excited about going there than I was to find myself at the first meeting. Grief takes a lot of energy and emotional energy, especially, chews through the precious few reserves left to me. The next time I get the bright idea to do anything for anyone other than myself or my family, someone head slap me, 'k? 

By the way, visit Sunday's Sabbath Keeping post and say a prayer for all those mentioned, please and thanks. Especially, the Beckwith family who lost a 26 year old son and husband in a horrible farming accident; he left behind a wife, a four year old daughter and a three month old daughter. Life is bleak for them right now.

Blessings ~ I'm still breathing ~ the dogs love me ~ the horses have hay ~ beautiful weather today ~

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ gateway to the world ~
"Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or discouraged."
~ 1 Chronicles 22:13 ~

"Let me do my work each day;
And if the darkened hours of despair overcome me,
May I  not forget the strength that comforted me
In the desolation of other times
May I still remember the bright hours that found me
Walking over the silent hills of my childhood
Or dreaming on the margin of the quiet river,
When a light glowed within me,
And I promised my early God to have courage
Amid the tempests of the changing years...."
~ Max Ehrmann

"Never let us be discouraged with ourselves; it is not when we are conscious of our faults that we are the most wicked, on the contrary we are then less so. We see by a brighter light, and let us remember for  our consolation that we never perceive our sins till we begin to cure them. We must neither flatter nor be impatient with ourselves in the correction of our faults.
Despondency is not a state of humility; on the contrary, it is the vexation and despair of a cowardly pride--nothing is worse; whether we stumble or whether we fall, we must think only of rising again and going on in our course. Our faults may be useful to us, if they cure us of a vain confidence in ourselves, and do not deprive us of a humble and salutary confidence in God.
Let us bless God with as true thankfulness if He have enabled us to make any progress in virtue as if we had made it through our own strength, and let us not be troubled with the weak agitations of self-love; let them pass; do not think of them.
God never makes us feel our weakness but that we may be led to seek strength from Him. 
What is involuntary should not trouble us; but the great thing is never to act against the light within us, and to desire to follow where God would lead us."

" Though I may stumble, I may fall,
My weakness is His strength;
No one is lost who hears His call:
His grace, my recompense."
~ E. C. M. ~

"He has kept and folded us from ten thousand ills when we did not know it: in the midst of our security we should have perished every hour, but that He sheltered us "from the terror by night and from the arrow that flieth by day"--from the powers of evil that walk in darkness, from snares of our own evil will. He has kept us even against ourselves, and saved us even from our own undoing...."
~ H. E. Manning ~ 

"For God has not give us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Roland ~ Debbie ~ Beckwith family ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ me ~

Friday, December 09, 2011

An Ordinary Day

~ Super Sadie and Sophie Lauren Butterball ~
For some reason, this photo makes me think of Superman. Remember? He'd stand, arms crossed, as he gazed in the far distance. I tried putting antlers on the dogs...Christmas, doncha know?...and they rebelled. Sadie would run between my legs...I think in embarrassment...and Sam would just shake his head like, "you're taking this just a little too far, Mom." Somehow, he didn't seem to buy the disguise suggestion. 
~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~
It was crisp today but warm enough to get outside and get some work done. 
The garden still has corn which is given to the horses; such a treat for them! 
Not the best photo of Sophie but she was shaking her head to rid herself of dirt. Sophie, Sam and Abbie spent a couple of hours today digging out mice...Good Dogs...Very Good Dogs! Sadie, of course, supervised as she doesn't like getting wet or cold feet.
~ Abigail Von Rotten The Terror ~
Abbie has old bones; Dave and I found her back in May 1997 and she was an adult when we found her. She's been my heartbeat all these years; where you'd see me, you'd see Abigail and vice versa. She still has a great heart but her body is slowing down and she's all but deaf with vision problems but her nose is still as good as ever. Please God, don't take her too very soon...please.

Today was, just about, an ordinary day. What a blessing and a gift! Yes, I spent a lot of time wrestling with various folks trying to get yet more paperwork accomplished regarding Dave's death. I think I'm making headway but, tell me it just me or would you get riled when someone said, "I'm sorry for your loss. Your husband owned money on his credit card and we can take that money out of your checking account Right Now and it won't cost you anything." 

Well. Duh. What a surprise. It won't cost me anything, eh? Do I look like one of those ejit ninja turtles? I think not. I told the woman I had to go to town, re-arrange some money and would send her a check later today. She said, "in that case, we're going to have to start searching for his estate so we can attach the estate." I said, "What part of I CALLED YOU don't you understand? I'm perfectly willing to pay this bill but I have to make sure I have the money in my checking account. And anyway, I AM THE ESTATE!"  I have sunk to a new low; I am now praying for people like Paul prayed for Alexander

I've said I'm going to blog about this madness that has resulted from Dave's, untimely to me, death. There are things you can do now to help you in the event your spouse passes away. Things that will make all the paperwork, banking, legal krap, etc. much, much easier on the one left behind. I'm working on some blog entries now and will, after the first of the year, present them to you. I thought we could all get through Christmas and the Holidays first and then, like going back to school, start on 2 January. 

Wife to Widow: Preparedness Training is the working title; I certainly like...well, you know what I mean...wry smile...the Wife to Widow's at least apropos in my state...and I'm still trying to figure out the secondary part.

Would someone help me with a blog button, please and thank you? I'm giving away what I've learned, via the school of hard knocks, for free and would like to get the word out to as many as possible. Yeah, maybe it is a bit macabre but, believe me, the more information and knowledge you have at hand, the better off you'll be. When you're in a vulnerable situation, sharks are circling like mad and just waiting for you to stumble and fall into the water so they can finish you off. Everyone has their hand out and it's a juggling act, figuring out who gets what first. 

I've learned a difficult time does not have to be a terrible time but you have to be prepared. Or is that a terrible time does not have to be a difficult time...? Whatever, I can help make it easier. We're all in this thing called life together; let's hold hands and help each other along the way.

Blessings ~ sunshine ~ Sam ~ Abbie ~ Sadie ~ Sophie ~ an ordinary day ~

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Looking Like Christmas...

~ daybreak over the valley ~
Is it because of Santa and the North Pole we equate Christmas with snow? Yesterday afternoon, right at 3:00 -as if by some timetable known only to God- it began to storm. And, storm it did with a passion! Miss G. was here to share lunch and then to sew and when I looked out the window I gasped and said, "Miss G! You're welcome to spend the night but if you want to get home, you'd better leave NOW!" She laughed, gathered her things up and started for home. It's strange where we live; if we want to go anywhere, we have to cross one mountain and, most times, two mountains. It took Miss G. an hour to drive about twenty miles but she got home safely and that's all that matters. 
~ bean, kilbasa, kale, bread soup ~
Lunch was a hearty soup that, I'm positive, someone else came up with eons ago. Here's the recipe but you need to tweak according to your own taste. Also, it's quick because I used canned beans.

Chop and brown a couple of sweet onions in a TBL of EVOO
Slice a package of kilbasa, add to onions
When those are browned, add
1 quart chicken stock
4 cans cannelloni beans, with the broth and
Simmer for an hour or two - it's a very forgiving recipe -smile-
When the soup is thirty minutes from the table, add at least 1/2 package of kale. I add the whole package but some folks might think that's a bit of overkill but, in the winter, can we get enough green? I think not.
Stir the kale in and simmer for about thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, back at the counter take a loaf of stale bread and cut it into rough pieces. Melt some butter...if I told you how much butter I used, your arteries would collapse! but I don't think a stick is unreasonable, do you?...mix in some herbs...I used Italian, Basil and Garlic Pepper Salt...then pour over the bread. Slip the bread into a hot oven and bake for the last thirty minutes of the cooking soup. 

When the soup goes into the bowl, place some pieces of bread on top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. Most of the time my bread is stale; yesterday, the bread was hard enough to beat a crow so letting the bread soak in the soup juices was a Very Good Thing. Have I mentioned how delicious was the soup? As Daddy likes to say, "good enough to make your tongue slap your brains out!"
~ wreaths on every gate ~
Miss G. and I are working on individual projects; she on a quilt and I on Christmas stockings. There are eight children I know who might enjoy a hand made Christmas stocking stuffed with some little treasures and one is for an adult. Hopefully, she still remembers the magic, joy and reason for Christmas...hopefully.
~ breakfast of champeens ~
I've always though hay bales, covered in snow, looked like Frosted Wheat cereal; there's enough to last a couple of years so the horses and sheep won't go hungry any time soon.

Yesterday was the first "normal" day I've had since Dave died; thanks to Miss G. and the work of my hands, God is doing His work in my heart. Undoubtedly, there are still dark days ahead but yesterday, God gave me a glimmer of what will, in time, be my new normal. No, I don't understand, and never will this side of the veil, but I still choose to accept His will. I choose to trust Him to know what's best for me and, yes, I still ask questions. Christ asked questions of His our Father, can't I as well?  
~ barn cat, after breakfast ~
As Elisabeth Elliot says, "You are loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting arms!" 

Bless His name forever.

Blessings ~ Miss G ~ sewing ~ the work of our hands ~ snow ~ soup ~ healing ~

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Lately, My Mantra




Blessings ~ naps ~ naps ~ naps ~

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ Dave in Bedouin camp,
Sahara Desert, Morocco ~

"I made you grow like a plant of the field.
You grew up and developed and became
the most beautiful of jewels." 
~ Ezekiel 16:7 ~

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Finds us farther than today.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing,
just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it 
and understood God's grace in all its truth." 
~ Colossians 1:6 ~

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Roland ~ Debbie ~ Beckwith family ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ me ~

Saturday, December 03, 2011

No Regrets, Choose Happiness

~ Rogue River, Oregon salmon fishing ~
According to this site and the person writing the post, the top five regrets of those folks who are in the last stages of life are

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

If you visited the link, please know I'm not recommending the site and know nothing about the site but happened upon it when wandering around reading something else somewhere else. How's that for nailing it down for you, eh? -smile-
~ haggling in the Marrakesh souk ~
All I want to say is, choose happiness. We're all battling some kind of something or other...physical, mental, emotional, financial or  combinations and battles we wouldn't wish on enemies. When your friend, spouse, partner or love does something, intentionally or unintentionally, unkind...choose happiness. When we allow someone to make us angry or annoy us, we lose. We lose happiness and all those losses may not seem like much time lost now, but when we're sick or on our deathbed, those minutes will come to us, unbidden, and we will anguish over those opportunities of, now forever, lost happiness. 
~ in Alaska ~
Dave lived a life of his choosing and not the life others expected of him. I think there are those that resented him for that; they begrudged him his happiness because Dave chose the path less traveled and did well in life. For those who are obedient, always doing the "right thing"...usually as perceived by their parents or others in authority...someone else doing well by taking the path less traveled can irritate. Dave taught me to live likewise and, more importantly, he encouraged and supported me in that quest. 
~ kayaking, Inside Passage, Alaska ~
Dave worked smart, rarely hard and was always amused because I loved working hard. Physical labor thrilled me and a barn cleaned of muck and manure and put back to rights was a joy to me. A garden full of food, pantry shelves with home canned goods, a quilt on the frame, wool on the spinning wheel...those things that made our house a home and our lives whole, they pleased me to do well. Quiet joy and a complete sense of satisfaction was my reward; that and knowing, at the end of the day, I could face God and Dave with a clear heart and conscious made my life whole. Dave, on the other hand, would spend hours and hours in quiet contemplation figuring how he could earn his living, what decisions would best suit him, us, the company for which he worked. Dave put together a great team and they are feeling his loss. 
~ camping in Sahara Desert, Morocco ~
As I'm typing this, so many of you are running through my mind...your situations, circumstances, prayer needs...yes, you're tucked into prayer and thank you for your prayers. "This" is the hardest thing I've ever done, this treading of a path unknown, empty of comfort and full of longing. No one can explain and no one can prepare another; it's a membership I'd gladly give up my rights. I'm trying to choose happiness but, truth be told, most days I simply put one foot in front of the other and plod, plod, plod. 
~ Arno River, Florence, Italy ~
I do know I'm rather tired of people telling me they understand or they know what I'm going through. How can they when tonight, they will slip into bed beside their loved one and cuddle against the cold darkness? How can they know the overwhelming vastness of the loneliness that threatens to submerge me and press the breath out of my body? A beloved friend asked, "do you start to speak to Dave and then realize he's no longer there?" Not even hardly. The black hole of emptiness he's left behind is always surrounding me; I'm never unaware he's gone, always aware I'm now one. Sometimes I say something shockingly rude, ugly even, just to make people focus on how bad I am but, at least, then they stop with the platitudes. That's a relief and, frankly, I can hardly care what anyone thinks right now. It's too much effort to care and I am empty of effort.

I'm trying to choose happiness but success isn't mine to claim. Later perhaps, but not right now, and that's the best I can do.

Blessings ~ memories ~ photos ~

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ sunrise over the valley ~

"If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest
of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment."
~ Job 36:11 ~

"Nothing on earth can make up
for the loss of one who has loved you."

"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
~ Timothy 6:6 ~

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ me ~

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Two weeks

Oh dear God. It's only been two weeks. 

Blessings ~ God's strength, grace, mercy and love ~

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tapadh leibh

~ Thanksgiving Day, 2011 ~
Today, Thanksgiving Day, was beautiful...bright, sunny, warmish and such a delight. We've had cold rain and high winds much of this week and today was a gift! Much of last week was sweater weather for the dogs and jacket weather for me. It's a foretaste of what's to come and I think, and have been saying for months, it's going to be a harsh winter. In more ways than one.
~ Abbie, warm and toasty ~
The dogs don't put up much of a fuss when it's time to put on their sweaters. All I have to do is let them out the door and they rush back inside as if to say, "Mom, did you forget??" 
~ stylish Sadie ~
Abbie feels the cold because she has old bones and Sadie feels it because she has a short coat.
~ manly Sam ~
Sam isn't wearing his sweater yet; he has a longer coat and doesn't feel the need to don his cold weather togs.
~ Sophie Lauren Butterball ~
We have a new household member; she's a seven year old broken coat Jack Russell by the name of Sophie Lauren Butterball and she's a handful. Dave and I had planned on adopting Sophie and just because Dave passed away is no reason not to give Sophie a home at Thistle Cove Farm. Sophie's human Pa had cancer and died and her human Ma had to find homes for Sophie and the other dogs. Sam, Abbie and I first met Sophie at the vet's office where Sophie dragged her Ma over to meet Abbie. That was the first test; Abbie was fine with Sophie and Sophie loved Abbie. Perhaps because she saw "one of her own kind"? I wonder. Anyway, here it is a few months later and Sophie now lives with us and appears to be adjusting very well. She loves doing chores, loves sniffing around, loves the beef bones I roasted for them for Thanksgiving and loves sleeping with the pack all in one bed. Well, okay, maybe she doesn't love this as much but she's okay with it and we'll take that for now.
~ ready for chores ~
Sophie has been good for us, I think. Sam was, still is a little, depressed and it's been good for all of us to "get outside ourselves". A few days ago, I told someone the most courageous thing I've done lately is get out of bed in the morning. Your prayers have aided me and God has given me His strength; for all I am so grateful. Please forgive me for not saying 'Thank You' more frequently. When God brings you to mind, you're tucked into prayer; when you do a kindness for me, you're tucked into prayer. I so greatly appreciate each of your comments both here and on your blog. So many people have left so many kind notes; truly, it brings me to tears. 

My heart has been broken and your prayers are the glue that's putting me together. I'll never be the same, not sure I'd want to be the same, but please keep praying. When I'm in a puddle on the floor, sobbing my heart out, God hears your prayers; He sees you standing in the gap for me and He answers and we are both blessed. Oh, don't think my halo isn't tarnished; I've said a few bad words lately; sometimes the emotions are just so blasted overwhelming the bad words act as an outlet and I succomb then tell God I'm sorry. No, I'm not proud of failing but also don't want you to think my halo is on perfectly straight and hand polished. Ahem. It is not.

Friends came over today to make sure I wouldn't be alone and to share the meal. We had such a good visit! They are all animal people and don't mind the dogs loving on them and Jo and Mel even took home the latest kitten I rescued. Another blessing! 
~ it's good to be alive! ~
Tapadh leibh to each of you! My prayer is your Thanksgiving was full of joy, laughter and love, shared with family, friends or both. If I never get a chance, this side of the veil, to look you in the eyes and say 'tapadh leibh', know that I'll be looking for you in heaven to let you know what a difference you've made in my life. 
Tapadh Leibh!

Blessings ~ Lord, for those past, present and yet to come, thank You ~

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ in tandem ~ 
"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior."
~ Habakkuk 3:17-18 ~

"Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith, strengthen thou me. I am cold in love, warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust thee altogether, O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in thee. In thee I have sealed the treasurers of all I have. I am poor, thou art rich and didst come to be merciful to the poor. I am a sinner, thou art upright. With me there is an abundance of sin, in thee is the fulness of righteousness. Therefore, I will remain with thee of who I can receive but to whom I may not give. Amen." ~ Martin Luther ~

"Nevertheless, though I am sometimes afraid:
yet put I my trust in thee."
~ Psalms 56:3 ~

"Do not be afraid to throw yourself on the Lord!
He will not draw back and let you fall!
Put your worries aside and throw yourself on him,
he will welcome you and heal you."
~ St. Augustine ~

"He gives light to the sun."
~ St. Patrick ~

"You have led me through my crowded travels of the day
to my evening's loneliness.
I wait for its meaning through the stillness of the night."
~ Rabindranath Tagore ~

"For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen."
~ Romans 11:36 ~ 

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ me ~

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thank you...

Perhaps this seems a strange photo to place on my blog but, from where I'm sitting, thanks are in order. Each and every day, brave people, truly brave people, put themselves on the front line for you and me. Soldiers, medics, EMT's, police, sheriff's and deputies - they all put on their boots and go to work in the morning not sure if they'll be home to eat supper that night.
Thank YOU!
And, thank you if you've prayed, thought kind thoughts, sent a note, e-mail or card, thank you. The outpouring of love, sympathy and Christ-like caring and concern are all most welcome, needed and appreciated. I'm stunned, in the truest sense of the word and each day brings new opportunity to grieve. Most nights I can sleep but there are those nights, like last night, that are bone crushing weary in their length and exhaustion is no guarantee sleep will come. Or, if sleep does come, it will be restful. Is that an oxymoron? Perhaps.

I'm treading all over the first rule of blogging: blog every day. I cannot. What I can do every day is, remember to take deep breaths, count my blessings and I try to get two things done that move me forward. It doesn't sound like much but, most days, two things are such a large number and I'm happy, very happy, when that goal is reached. The paper work is nothing short of staggering! I'm keeping notes and want to write a post later about what and how you can prepare you and yours for such an eventuality as a beloved leaving you behind. 

Oh, did I just lose someone? I'm sorry, but it is meant to be helpful and trust me, if any of us are able to learn from someone who has walked this path, it's better to learn than, maybe, make costly mistakes. 

Blessings ~ another day ~ prayers ~ family ~ friends ~ furry friends who keep my feet moving forward when it would be so easy to slip behind ~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ the sun is always shining, somewhere ~
"For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help."
~ Psalm 22:24 ~

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?"
~ Kahil Gibran ~

"The pain passes but the beauty remains." 
~ Renoir ~

"Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell."
~ Emily Dickinson ~

"There is no grief like the grief that does not speak."
~ Henry Wordsworth Longfellow ~ 

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
~ Winston Churchill ~

"Grief is a process, not a state."
~ Anne Grant ~ 

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love."
~ Washington Irving ~

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal". ~ From a headstone in Ireland ~

“Quiet and sincere sympathy is often the most welcome and efficient consolation to the afflicted. Said a wise man to one in deep sorrow, ‘I did not come to comfort you; God only can do that; but I did come to say how deeply and tenderly I feel for you in your affliction."  ~ Tyron Edwards ~

"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."
~ Christ, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:4 ~

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~  me ~

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dear Dave,

~ untethered ~
I slurp when I drink hot coffee or tea but you already knew that, didn't you? You were just too kind to mention it to me. That's one of the things I, already, miss most. Your kindness. Oh, don't get me wrong; you could be meaner than a two-headed snake when provoked but, ninety-nine percent of time, you were kind. In fact, I'm having trouble remembering those un-kind I won't try.

Today is the first week anniversary of your death. Will it always be thus? Counting the days, the weeks, the months, the years, the decades? Will it always hurt this much? I hope not. It's easy to see how people make really dumb mistakes when under duress. I find myself telling people things that are totally stupid, perhaps even, unintentionally, hurtful but my brain doesn't suss it out until later then I apologize only to have someone give me the gift of grace and say, “It wasn't meant that way nor did I take it that way.”

Although Melvin performed, heroically, CPR for more than half an hour, you died instantly; your great heart simply stopped. Another gift of grace; bless the name of God. Daniel and Charles heard their pagers go off and they came quickly; they helped keep the dogs calm. Melvin told me Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent parked himself at the bathroom door entrance and watched, carefully and intently, as you kneeled over Dave. Elizabeth and Mike, along with the rest of their EMT team came and they also did everything they could. It wasn't enough; God's love for you was greater than my love for you and you went Home. You were needed there more than can that possibly be? God granted you those last two gifts you so desperately wanted. He spared you the agony of the worsening pain of cancer and you died at home. For some reason, He choose not to give me my request; to be at your side at the end, yet I trust Him. His ways are not my ways...still, Beloved, I am struggling.
I was preparing for Mom and Daddy's 60th wedding anniversary party when Melvin got in touch with me. Until I understood, it was chaotic but there was nothing I could do at home so I stayed to do what I was asked to do for Mom and Daddy. It was surreal though, Dave, and I felt split in two, at one and the same time, floating and wading through mire. Beloved, I am struggling. 

Stephanie came home with me; we drove the truck back, loaded to the gills with furniture picked up along the way. Your Grandmother's pink, horsehair Victorian era sofa is now in our parlor just as you wanted. I'm not having it, nor the matching chair, re-covered. Perhaps, in time, I'll change my mind but now, for the immediate future, no more changes, please. No more changes. Steph and I also towed the new to me 1965 Scotty “canned ham” vintage camper. You know I'll never sell it, don't you, Dave? We bought that, sight unseen, when we were in South Carolina last month. Steph called me to say, “I found it!” and you and I bought it via e-mail, telephone and snail mail. What fun even though I knew you'd never go camping with me. You said, “We'll buy it for you because that's been a dream since I first met you but I'm not camping. The last time I camped, Uncle Sam paid me.” 

Looking back, we crammed as much life into living these last few months as anyone could have done. Did you know? Did you have some sort of premonition? I didn't. I thought we'd have until spring, at least until my birthday before we'd say good-bye. His ways are not my ways...Beloved, I'm struggling.

Dave, I kept my promises to you; no open casket and no public histrionics. There were almost one hundred people at visitation on Tuesday night. The casket was re-claimed barn wood made by the Amish and draped with the first quilt I ever made. When I'd complained about my mistakes, you'd say, “It's beautiful to me” and, towards the end, you asked if I minded draping it over the casket. Now I wish I had a picture but what I do have is the rocking chair they made from the same barn wood. It's in the kitchen where you used to sit; it brings me comfort.
You remember all those photos you picked out when you found out you had cancer? Kyle was here and he made it so we could see them on a television at the visitation; I think that was the first time they'd ever had photos on television at the funeral home. Everyone love watching the photos; the funeral director did a fabulous job. Bob and Joan said, “Dave's was a life well lived!” Wasn't that nice? It was also wonderfully true.

I've always hated those little pieces of paper at funerals so Kyle and I put together a program, he had it printed and it was made available at visitation and graveside service. We used a Celtic knot border and, in each corner, the Trinity symbol. Kyle did a great job; it was lovely.

Dawn, a blogger friend, gave the surprise gift of doing Sabbath Keeping last Sunday; the first quote was by J.M.M.Barrie from Peter Pan, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” You like that, eh? I can see you chuckling now. That was on the second page of your program; Dawn had so many wonderful quotes; they blessed me so much! So many from Tazewell and the e-community have written nice notes. Misha sent a lot of them and Timi, Jane and Lance have kept in touch via e-mail; they know you because they know me. What a wonderful gift you gave me this summer...that trip to Eastern Europe where friendships were made and forged. How you have blessed me all these years!

Graveside service at Hollywood Cemetery was, dare I say it, lovely. The day was beautiful; warmish and the overhead canopy of trees still shedding autumn leaves as sunlight flitted through almost bare branches. JW drove me, another gracious gift, and when we arrived, you were already there. There were so many people who came to show their love and respect for you. Jerome, of course, was late but only a minute or two. I loved it, such a sense of “normalcy” because he's always late. After the piper played “Going Home”, Jerome opened the service and then you would have laughed. Jerome said while he didn't know you well, he knew enough to know you were a man of strong character and will, secure in your masculinity and loved living with me on the farm. Then he said he knew these things because he knew me and it would take such a man to marry me. Everyone laughed; it's all true.

Dewey spoke next and talked of the times y'all had as stock brokers. He said, “Dave was steady and consistent, no one had to worry that the Dave they saw on Thursday was a different Dave they saw last Monday.” He said you had a moral compass that was true north. When he said that, my universe tilted, again, because I realized I was your magnet and I'd lost my bearing. God is my help meet now but I'm still tilted, still struggling, still off center and trying to find true north. Although you tried to prepare me, time and time again, the lessons didn't take as well as you'd hope. Beloved, I am struggling.

The American Legion folded and presented the American flag and thanked me, on behalf of a grateful nation, for your service. They gave you a 21-gun salute and played taps then Tom, the piper, played Amazing Grace. At the third verse, he turned and began walking away; we were left with the lingering notes of the pipes wafting across the graves. Everything, save the most important thing, was perfect. You were there but as the guest of honour, not by my side as you've been lo, these many years.

As many as wanted went to O'Tooles for sharing, caring, a meal, a beer or ice tea. I didn't want anything but then saw Carol had a dark beer; that piqued my interest so Joe ordered me one. It's called Legend by a Richmond micro-brewery; how appropriate!
So, here I am back to the first week of firsts. Daniel comes, almost every night, to check on me, yet another gracious gift. Gaynell just called to check on me, Steph calls every day and others call and send cards. People are so kind but my heart is torn. It's almost too much to bear yet I don't want them to not come by, to not call. Again, there's that feeling of being split in two, at one and the same time, floating and wading through mire. You were right, the loneliness is unbearable but I was right too. The dogs, although grieving, still need to be fed and I try, as much as possible, to help them grieve. I'm taking life slow and am hunkering down for the winter. Thistle Cove Farm will nurture and hold me close against the cold winds of winter; God will nurture and hold me close against the loss of you. Beloved, I'm struggling.

Blessings ~ Dave, a life well lived ~ people who came to visitation and graveside to show their love and respect for Dave ~ God, who holds me in His righteous right hand of mercy ~

Monday, November 07, 2011

Dave Bricker

TAZEWELL, Va. — Forrest David Bricker, age 66, of The Cove in Tazewell, Va., died Saturday, November 5, 2011 at his home on Thistle Cove Farm. Born May 7, 1945 at Ravenna Arsenal, Ohio, he was a son of the late Forrest Davis Bricker and Mary Crockett Bowen Bricker. He was a graduate of Beaver High School and graduated with honors from West Virginia University. Dave was a U.S. Army Veteran, honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. He was a retired stock broker, and currently served as President of Sibley Coal & Coke Company, Manager of Sibley Communications & Energy, and was Director of Logistics for Sibley Communications, all of Bluefield, W.Va. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, Catherine Wirtz Bricker.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra Bennett; one sister, Carol Bricker Pharr of Earlysville, Va.; many family members including, nieces, a nephew, cousins, an uncle, in-laws and friends.

The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at Peery & St. Clair Funeral Home in Tazewell, Va.

 Graveside services and interment will be at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va. on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 with Pastor Jerome Hancock of the Southside Church of the Nazarene  and Pastor George Ferguson officiating.

In lieu of flowers, Dave's request was that you take someone special out to dinner.

Blessings ~ me, for having twenty-two beautiful years with Dave ~

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Rest In Peace

Dave passed away earlier today; more information to follow as I'm able.

Your prayers and good thoughts are welcome.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ God knows you by name ~
God is speaking, directly, to you and calling you by name; copy and print this love letter from God and write your name in the ____ spaces.

I, the Lord, have searched you, ______, and know you. I know when you sit and when you rise; I know your thoughts before you even think them. ______, I know when you go out, when you sleep and am totally familiar with all your ways! Before you speak, ______, I, the Lord, know what you're going to say. I am with you, completely, and I go before and come after, keeping you, always, in My love; I hold you in My righteous right hand. I, the Lord, know all there is to know about you, yet I love you...still.

______, you cannot hide from My Spirit nor can you run from My presence. It is simply not possible. Should you go to the heavens, I, the Lord, am there. Or, if you go to the depths of the sea or depression or any other depths, I, the Lord, am also there. ______, I was there before you, waiting. If you rise at dawn or settle on the far side of the sea, I, the Lord, am there and will yet guide you. I, the Lord, hold you, ______, always, in my righteous right hand. ______, you may say, the darkness will hide me and the light is the same as the dark but just because you say it, doesn't make it true. I, the Lord, consider dark as light and because I am Light, there is no darkness to Me.

______, I, the Lord, created you and, before you were in your Mother's womb, I knew all about you. You were not hidden from me, not then and not now. All your days have been ordained by me and I, the Lord, know them all. ______, you are fearfully and wonderfully made because you are My beloved creation. If you learn nothing else as you live this wonderful life I have given you...know these things: I am the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and I love you, ______, so much I sent My Son to die in your place. Why? Because I want you to return to Heaven and live with me through Eternity. 

______, I know My thoughts are vast and you cannot truly comprehend them but choose to love Me; I will always take care of you. I, the Lord, care for you because I created you and I love you. I know your heart and all your anxious thoughts; I love you, still. ______, love me; 
I, the Lord, can be trusted with your heart.

~ Psalms 139 ~

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Lea and family ~ Kary ~ Mildred ~ John ~ Noelle ~ Geoffrey ~ Terry ~ Angela, Penny and family ~ Daniel ~ Morgan ~ Meredith ~ Susan ~ Stephanie ~ Winnie ~ Wanda ~ Steve ~ Leslie ~ William and Catherine ~ Becky ~ Rick ~ Misha ~ J ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ Dave ~ me ~
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