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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.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Please, Your Thoughts...

My method of learning is to ponder and sometimes my pondering takes a very long time. Such as what I've been pondering lately and need, please, your thoughts. How do you process information? Whom do you turn to for sage council? How do you plan your goals, achieve your steps and arrive at a satisfactory end?
Time has marched, inexorably, forward; soon, it will be a year since Dave, quite suddenly and very unexpectedly, died and my life, forever changed and suddenly stopped. At first, shock was my constant companion and while I've studied The Five Stages of Grief according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and others, my experience has been grief is totally personal. There's no right, nor wrong way, to grieve; there's only "your" way. No one can tell you, "it's time to move forward" or Don't you think it's time you got on with life" or "You're a prickly personality; I'm just trying to help."
Well, okay. They can tell you but you don't have to listen. I'm giving you permission, as nicely as you're able, to tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. Frankly, I don't care if such folks are "well-meaning", they are, in fact, rude and we don't have to allow such rudeness into our lives, especially during such a time as grieving.
Lately, I've been struggling with the idea of dreams...being dreamed, coming to fruition, dying, and new dreams being dreamed, thus the cycle begins anew. 
Thistle Cove Farm has been my dream since I was six years old. Oh, the farm didn't have a name but I knew I wanted to live on a farm, have animals, work hard. When Dave and I met, we spent six years dating before we decided to cast our lot together and started our search for home. My house was too small for us and all our emotional baggage; Dave's house was where he and Cathy had lived and dreamed and he couldn't imagine living there with another wife. That was okay with me; when I met Dave, he was an emotional and physical mess. He handled his grief with too much alcohol, too many cigarettes and burying himself alive with memories. Even so, I knew a man that had loved that deeply and well was a man worth waiting on, no matter how long it took. Dave looked at me and saw a broken woman, hanging on with a wavering yet tenacious grip to her faith, struggling with undiagnosed clinical depression and wanting to believe. Those first six years we spent learning each other's ways, building a foundation as I cleaned out Cathy's things from their home. It was a massive undertaking, second only to what needs to be done on the farm now.
When Dave and I started dancing around the idea of marriage, I told him, "I love you but I won't shack up. If you want another chance at life, you'll have to marry me." In typical Dave fashion, we began looking for a home and found this farm. Dave's house sold immediately and mine went into rental for six months...what is it with the number six???...and we bought the farm in May, 1995. He move here in June, in July I came and we were married on the front lawn at July end.
Dave grew into the notion of being a "mountain man" and, eventually, loved his self-imposed title. Our roots are Appalachian by way of Scotland, Wales and Ireland and, down the road, his kin settled land granted to them by King George, or so I've been told. At any rate, nine generations have called that house home and part of the house is the old cabin first built.
Dave and I spent a decade and half plus building this farm, this home, this life and just at the time it was all getting easier, the marriage stronger our love cemented, he went Home for the final time. I accept with a broken heart, "His ways are not our ways" but I'm still bereft.
As Jack (for I think of him as Jack, having ever so much in common) Lewis said in A Grief Observed, "It was too perfect to last,' so I am tempted to say of our marriage. But it can be meant in two ways. It may be grimly pessimistic - as if God no sooner saw two of His creatures happy than He stopped it ('None of that here!'). As if He were like the Hostess at the sherry-party who separates two guests the moment they show signs of having got into a real conversation. But it could also mean, "This had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it meant to be. Therefore of course it would not be prolonged.' As if God said, 'Good; you have mastered that exercise. I am very pleased with it. And now you are ready to go on to the next."
I will mourn the rest of my life for Dave but the grieving period is coming to an end. Does that make sense? Perhaps it does to some and to others, not so much. I gave myself permission to observe a year of grieving, to do whatever it took to get through still standing. 
God has been gracious, His mercy and love evident daily and in His own inexplicable way, He has guided me through treacherous and deep waters. Like a dumb animal, I have followed not even knowing if willing or unwilling, but I have followed.
He is to be trusted, this Jehovah I serve; He is faithful.

Blessings ~ Jehovah God ~ Dave ~ grief ~ prayer ~ Jack Lewis ~


  1. Autumn Blessings to you.
    I process information as best I can and have learned that at times when I think I'm over a hump, another dose of feelings comes about and I have to think on it some more. Also am learning to talk back to some thoughts and tell myself that I don't have to live such an such way. It's a process just as life is.
    I turn to my savior Jesus....pray often. Talk out loud while visiting with God about everything. He is my strength and my refuge.

    God bless you,

  2. This is a beautiful piece of writing that speaks to my soul. It shows me that out of pain, does come life. You are amazing to be able to put that all in such incredible words.

    How do I ponder? Well, I walk, I pray, I stare out the window, I read and I pray and I wait. Like Yesterday, I cried in the shower and prayed and then God was so gracious to answer that I was able to get out of the shower and get dressed. My breakdowns always come in the shower.

    Sometimes though, the grief is so deep there are no words. The fear so huge that for me I just can't make a decision.
    God says things like this to me.
    " Endure hardship as a discipline; God is treating you as sons."
    Heb 12:7

    So somehow I get up like David wash my face and endure the best I can but like you said, all of it is personal and God works with us the way that makes the most sense with how we reason.
    I spend lots more time with the Word though and of course watching my chickens. Animals always help my mind.
    I don't know if this helps at all.
    You are such an encouragement to me.

  3. Hello Sandra:
    Dearest, dearest Sandra words seem so very inadequate at this point. But, we hope that you have found some degree of solace through writing words of your own to express the unimaginable darkness that must accompany the death of a much loved husband.

    You are still standing, you are alive and soon you will have 'lived' a year without Dave. That will be an immense milestone and should be one, we believe, that you are proud to have navigated alone. For, there is no pretending that even with the love and support of others, even with your faith, you have walked the walk yourself.

    All we hope is that you know that you are in our thoughts and prayers, both on good days and bad, and that should you ever pass in our direction again, the door will be thrown open wildly in welcome!!!!xxxxx

  4. A very beautiful, thoughtful, and wise post, Sandra. You allow yourself your grief, mourning, emotions, and shifts, while simultaneously saying, "A year." A year, then re-assess. I agree that there is a difference between grieving and mourning, or at least that there are two different entities: one that lasts the rest of life, and one that is more intense and is designed to pass. It helps, I think, to know that you can safely let go of one, and safely keep the other.

    I process information slowly, like a cow chewing the cud. I argue with myself, look for weaknesses or bias in my opinions, and rehash. I yap with Adam all the time, and he with me, fine-tuning our opinions and views. I second-guess myself on purpose, to force myself to defend one more time the decision I've come to. By the time I get done with all that, then I may openly voice my opinion, and by that time it is pretty set and no one is likely to change my mind. It makes me appear bossy, opinionated and strong willed. Mostly it's just because I process a long time b/f I decide.

    I know people who process their opinions out loud in groups. I used to mistake their statements as "final," as mine would be if I voiced them in a group; I didn't understand that they were still processing and that their opinion might easily change the next day. They had a different method.

    I don't think I'm as much into goals and dreams as some people. I don't have a dream to live anywhere or own anything. I want relationships, but my only real goal is heaven. Please don't take that as some pious comment -- it's just that all the earthly dreams and goals that Adam and I had were stripped away, over and over. No home, no land, no money, no security. Our work is what God sees fit to give us. Being responsible for a farm, animals, having LAND and multiple buildings? I can't imagine such a thing! So it's hard for me to advise on your situation. If I had such a thing in such a location and could keep it, I would. But I'm not you.

    What were your personal goals in buying the farm -- just for YOU? Have you accomplished them? Do you still want to? How can you best glorify God? In my married life, I've rarely had options to choose from. Choosing is difficult. There may not be a "right" and "wrong" choice; there are right and wrong ways of living in either choice. May God give you clarity, dear.

  5. Hi and thank you for finding me and stopping by today to leave a comment.

    I am reading this and thinking it is so clear, your journey with Dave. The reason and meaning is to bring you to where you are in your life now. It sounds like you are a happy person in a place where you want to be. Had you not met Dave, you would probably not be where you are now, not probably, most definitely.

    I have often wondered myself where I would be without my other half, but life has a weird/funny way of teaching you what you need to learn. It may not always be what you ask for, but invariably it is what you need.

    I hope this makes sense. My heart goes out to you.

    I also agree that we don't need certain people in our lives. Some people bring a toxicity which can slowly poison. You just have to give thanks for the experience but pass by. Sometimes this is difficult, but we learn from the experience.

    I wish you love and peace and am now following from rainy Wales!

  6. Sandra...sometimes I think they had it right a while back when they hung a black wreath on the door for a year to grieve and then it was time to do what needed to be done...a little like what you (and my mom and I) did. Someone told me they are going away from the stages of grief ( they tell us) and they now have you picture a figure eight and at times you are at the epi center of the eight (which is the hardest) and at times you can travel to the outer circles of the eight and it is a bit easier. With time you can stay on the outer circles longer and longer...I kind of like this explanation...there is not a one size fits all. Anyway...I used to ponder and analyze everything so I get older I want to "just be"..take each day at a time. When I visit my dad's grave site I think in the end this is what we all will matter what happens in the middle. I just finished a nice little book A Year to Live by Steven Levine...was kind of the last piece of the missing puzzle for me.

  7. yes- He is faithful, isn't He.
    So much we don't understand, but He is firm and loving in it all.

    I am happy for you that you had a chance to experience such happiness. I'm sure there is more to come . . .


  8. What feels right to you now? There-in lies the road to travel. There is no right or wrong.

  9. What Karen said! We may not understand the journey, or see past the next bend in the road, but we must continue at our own pace. It is OUR life, afterall.

    Since you asked, I ponder things by staring and sitting and thinking. My husband can always tell that I am contemplating something important if I am sitting on the floor staring into space ... usually holding a pencil with a legal pad in my lap. There's something about a pencil that helps the thought process.

  10. The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

    He is to be trusted, this Jehovah I serve; He is faithful... your own words.

    Praying for answers to your heart cries.. tangible, life-giving, restoring answers.

  11. i've no sage words. only inclinations to follow the path as it presents itself, knowing there is a time for every purpose under heaven. i extend a {{{gentle embrace}}}, knowing it's returned with equal sentiment. bless you dearly for this post. speaks to my heart of hearts.

  12. Sandra, Thistle, there is no day without thinking me of you and your love Dave, who died, and it is so great, how you find this wonderful text to explain such deep real things and feelings, which are always chaotic, and find at least the quiet aim in God, who knows everything, but we know so little bit like nothing, only to dream and to try to make our dreams real, a dream of hard work in a farm together with someone, who is our best partner and never can be exchanged by another person. An angel is holding your brave hand always, and Dave is not really apart from you, because love never ends and so you are connected by love and you can follow his advises,because he knows now more about God, than we, who live here in darkness. Faith is our only candle light here in this valley of grieve.

    Your style of writing is so good, you should write a book about this all to help other souls, who have pain.

  13. Thanks for sharing your wise words. It sounds like you've learned a lot about where you are in the past year.

  14. Oh this made me cry we all have some grieving to tend to as m Gramma used to say and no one knows how long that will take. Everyone is different.
    I am so happy you had your husband and you have all those memories to get you through.
    I am also happy you feel strong enough to move on to another chapter in your life. We all have to turn the page but not until we feel we are ready not when someone says we should. Sometimes you have to sit and ponder.
    You are such a great writer more people should read this. It helped me. Hug B

  15. You are so eloquent with words. I could 'listen' to you all day.
    I think M.K. is on to something when she asked what were your personal goals for YOU when you and Dave bought the farm. I'm sure many of the dreams you had as couple were fulfilled. At the end of your grieving period I think it is more than appropriate to ponder your own personal next step. You have life still to live. What new dreams do you now have for you that will sustain you and make you happy? It may seem presumptious, but whatever it is I'm betting it's exactly what Dave would want for you as well.
    Take care.

  16. I think you've gone over this particular written post in your head many, many times before you put it to paper for us to see. You are a grown woman, Sandra and life has more things in store for you when you are ready to begin again. And it sounds as if you are. :)

  17. Beautiful post ~ wonderful tribute to you and your husband and now new life beginning ~ It is not easy walking through grief and there is always residual ~ it is the way it is ~ Death is part of life as you know ~ I look to my passions and tried to develop 'who I am' ~ and devote time to that by meditating, walking, journaling, being with good friends ~ enjoying my home and doggie ~ art and poetry writing have helped on my journey ~ Processing information ~ I read and write if there is something I need/want to understand more deeply ~ Each day is a gift and I try to live it well ~
    Sending you healings hugs and any questions just let me know ~ glad to help ~ (A Creative Harbor)

  18. Anonymous9:30 PM EDT

    Thank you for the sweet compliment regarding my quilting. Quilting is a big part of my life, and my husband was my biggest fan. It took me at least the first year after he passed to pick it up again. I just couldn't. I am at the one year four month mark, and sometimes it still feels like it all just happened. Sometimes I miss him even more intensely than in the immediate weeks after. There absolutely is no wrong or right way to walk this journey. I have said that to many of my friends. And, yes, I'm much less tolerant of "ignorant opinions" and quickly dismiss "friends" that just don't get it. I spent a lot of the first year distracting myself with activity, things, shopping...that I might not normally have done. I needed things to be the same, yet different. I am moving on, moving forward, trying to make the most of the life I have left, yet still this pain rocks me to my core at times. Your post really stirred me and I could keep going on and on...but I don't need to write a novel in your comment section, lol. Maybe I should write another post on my own. :) There is so much of this journey that is difficult to process, period. I prayed so hard and so much during Greg's struggle in the hospital, after what was supposed to be a "curative" surgery that turned into a living nightmare. I relied heavily on scripture and songs of faith. When he passed, I actually struggled to pray at all. I couldn't listen to the songs. I'm still finding my way back in that regard. I literally felt "prayed out". I can't explain it. Thankfully, I had many warriors praying on my behalf. I will hush now...I'm rambling...

  19. Hello Sandra,

    I have no words nor can I even understand your grief as I have never lost someone that I love as you have Dave.

    I think it is a blessing to have such faith and the council of God. I know that his hand will guide you and comfort you.

    My thought and prayers are with you.

    A hug from a new friend, Elizabeth

  20. Bless your heart. You are precious!!

  21. Oh, Sandra, it's so good to read how God helped you through this year! He IS to be trusted and He IS faithful!!! You are sooo right! :o)

  22. Anonymous6:06 AM EDT

    In the quiet of this morning, I have read your eloquent words. May God continue to bless you and guide you. With love, Mildred

  23. Deanna, knowing we have Jesus to turn to makes each day a glimpse of glory.

    Farm Girl Cyn, often, I think of David and how he handled his life. Like David, like you, I do what needs to be done then move forward. Time is different for everyone and only one who has lost a spouse they LOVED, can understand. That's a new truth to me; before it was head knowledge, now it's heart knowledge.

    Jane and Lance, you are both so precious to me; God blessed me greatly when He allowed my path to cross the path of my Hungarian friends. A trip to Hungary is in the planning stages...2014, God willing.

    MK, I'm pondering new goals. The world is open, God is able, what are my new dreams? I'm not sure...

    YONKS, Wales is on my travel list so don't be! Bless you for visiting Thistle Cove Farm and bless Jane and Lance for "introducing" us.

    ain't for city gals, bless you for visiting me; you are so often in thought and prayer. Grief is a strange road we'll all travel, one way or the other. I'm glad you've found comfort along the way.

    Jennifer, more happiness...yes! As and when God wills.

    Karen, I'm not one to go on feelings as they are so mercurial. I study God's Word, pray and seek Godly council then decide. Daily, I'm closer to deciding.

    Donna, isn't it lovely how our spouses know us so well? I miss that so much; Dave knew me and still loved me...the WONDER!

    Sandy, you are further along this path, and know how difficult it can be. Bless you for visiting.

    jAne, thank you for your kindness. Daddy always says, "Father Time and Mother Earth takes care of it all." Just another way of saying, "God will handle it all."

    Dori, one day we'll sit and talk for hours; your heart speaks to my heart and bless you.

    Lisa, the lessons have been hard won but worthwhile.

    Buttons, bless you for your kind words and you're so right. The pages turn as we're ready...or not...but the pages do turn. Your Gramma was a wise woman!

    Carletta, no, I'm not upset at your kind heart; thank you for helping me think and ponder through things.

    Nancy, Yes, that's what pondering is all about -smile- thinking about things so when I sit down to type, the words flow from a deep place within me. Mostly always, when I'm blogging, I'm preaching to a choir of one. Some might call it crazy to be so open, so transparent but aren't we Christians called to be open and transparent? Christ paid the cost; how can I not do as He bids?

    ArtMuse, you will be contacted for your input into the book I'm writing. You've walked these roads, you have wisdom to share.

    allenquilts, you, also, will be contacted for your wisdom and knowledge. If we can make the path a bit easier for others, we are twice blessed.

    Elisabeth, you are so kind, thank you and I'm so glad we found each other's blogs!

    Angela, how have you BEEN?! You've been missed, that's for sure!

    Timi, God bless me with you and your family; isn't He wonderful?! Hopefully, I'll see y'all in 2014; God willing.

    Mildred, thank you. God is faithful, as you well know.

  24. I think, with grieving, there should be no such word as "should" - as in "I should be over this"; " I should be feeling ---"; "I shouldn't be feeling ---". I have another friend whose dearly beloved died a year and a half ago. She feels she "should" be doing certain things by now - I try to tell her that everybody grieves in different ways and nobody "should" do anything, except what feels right for them at that point in time.

    You write so eloquently about your journey with Dave, and now your journey without him. He has just gone a little ahead on this great pilgrimage that we are all on. You are walking with other people now, but you know that somewhere up ahead Dave will be waiting for you. Take hold of the hands that are around you - including mine, if it will help - and we will walk together for a while, talking, pondering in silence, and trusting our God. God bless you, my dear.

  25. i would never presume to tell you when the time of grieving should come to an end but suspect you will miss dave the rest of your life.

    i have been inspired by your open and vulnerable
    sharing of this heartbreak and expect you to have other dreams fulfilled. my prayer is for the Lord's gentle
    nearness and leading.

    dream on.

  26. This is a beautiful and wise post. It sounds like you are healthy in this journey. You are listening, following God, and as the source of all good things, and all things wise, He has faithfully led you.

  27. I was just clicking around and found your blog...I don't normally post on these topics. But I was extremely moved by what you wrote. So beautifully written. And so profound. Like you, I believe, for people of faith, there is none ese to turn to except the Rock that is "Higher than I." Sometimes we'd rather go around, but He takes us through? And I believe if we can call Him Father, then His grief over having to see a creation that He put so much of His heart and so much of Himself into have to die (that same book says we are made in His image, so your pain being also an aspect of His loving character), has to be greater than ours just as He is greater than us. And so, my dear, you are going through it WITH Him. He feels your pain, you feel His. (John 17:21)

    Though this part of your journey with Him is not a high, joyous mountain-top part, we know in this world, every relationship worth anything has had to stand through tougher times. But the fact that it draws the two of you closer is one of the wonders of true intimacy. So much that even in this, you are still blessed because you are still walking it together in oneness with Him. And that is the story of redemption, isn't it? Restored to the point that like Adam, you walk with God-only in even closer relationship than he could have ever experienced. Rather than beside you when He comes in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8), He walks with you from within at all times. So death, where is your victory? Where is your sting? (1 Cor. 15:55)

    I believe you are processing it perfectly.

  28. Another beautifully eloquent and poignant post. Having had to deal with too many well meaning people in my time, you have my permission to punch them in the nose. Well, that doesn't sound very nice, does it, but it's how I felt.

    I think our culture in uncomfortable with grief. Because of that they want to push us beyond it, for their own sakes. It's so true that grief is different for each of us, and I think we ought to allow people time to grief. It ought to be our gift to them. True support is, "I care about you and how you feel, I'm here whenever you need me."

    Honestly, I don't know how I could have survived being abandoned by my first husband if it wasn't for the Lord. I had never experience such depression, such pain. The scripture He gave me was difficult to obey, "forgive." In the end that was the only thing that healed me.

    Blessings on you Sandra. If you feel you need more than a year to finish grieving, take it! You know the One from Whom healing comes. He is faithful and will not disappoint.

  29. You would marry him again, knowing the grief ahead.

    We sign up for this at the front end of loving.



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