Has it been a week already? I guess it's a good thing that the days are moving a little more swiftly lately. I remember vividly those days that seemed like years, just months ago. I'm still "abiding". That's the word. That's my life. And in a way, I wish I could throw the brakes on that ticking clock on the wall as it seemingly picks up speed-- lasso the sun as it races across the sky and say, "WHOAH, NELLIE! Just give me a minute here... I've got to just take this moment in..."
God is working all around me. My passions I spoke of a few posts ago (9/26- "A Better Version of Myself"), are still ablaze and burning hotter with each passing week. And He is "bearing fruit" as we say, in it all. It's good to be dwelling in a place of total reliance upon Him, and openness to the moving of His Spirit, wherever it leads. Scary? Maybe... and exciting. Crazy how "abiding" can be so much fun...
I've been thinking about Leslie quite a bit this week. It's still not a "sad" process when she enters my mind and I just dwell on her and the memories for a while. It's peaceful. Joyful, even. I'm still thankful for those memories-- that life we shared-- this life she's left me with. I do get teary when I remember those last few months... when every breath was a struggle... the pain and fear she faced with every beat of her failing heart... the feeling of hopelessness when all I could do was lie beside her in that bed and touch her arm, letting her know I was there. And then... I'm reminded that those days are over. Her suffering is done. She is now victorious. And that ever-present image of her refreshes itself in me even more vividly... That picture in my mind-- that one with her eyes half-closed, head tilted back, mouth opened in a dimply grin, and LAUGHING the way that she does-- which is certainly as contageous among the angels as it was among us mere mortals. And all is well again. Better than ever.
(top left- "TJ the Scarecrow"; above- "Playing in the giant corn sandbox"; left- "Bundled up in the wheel barrow at the orchard, eating an apple")
TJ and I have been loving the fall. Last weekend we went to the "Pumpkin Farm" (a local tourist trap in Bolingbrook called Johansson Farms-- pumpkins, cider, a giant petting zoo, rides, etc...), AND cousin Max's birthday party at an apple orchard (Jonamac near DeKalb-- another petting zoo and playground, "you-pick" apples, and some more rides). We had so much fun, and I thought of Leslie nearly constantly. First off, I was like the ONLY single dad at either establishment... of literally HUNDREDS of families in attendance. It seemed that way, at least. Strangely enough, it didn't bother me. I was just enjoying the sunshine, the crisp fall air, and the warmth of the love of my little boy. But it did make me think of Leslie-- how she would have loved to have been there with us. I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans... she would have certainly been layered up with sweaters, sporting her warm "furry boots" (they have a name, but it escapes me) and a stocking cap... maybe a jacket tied around her waste, "just in case". I found myself hoping beyond hope-- visualizing... BELIEVING-- that she was indeed "with us", watching from Heaven, being given the opportunity by God to just enjoy those moments with us, watching her boy and being proud of him as he played and petted the animals and ate his apples and giggled with glee as he rode the train ride. He's growing up. Every day something else strikes me deeply and profoundly... "When did he get so TALL!" "He looks more like his Mommy EVERY DAY!" "Where did he come up with THAT?" "He's just... growing up..." How I hope she is watching this... Not that it could make Heaven any sweeter for her than it already is... Or could it?
Nights haven't been as bad lately, praise God (and thank you for your prayers). I'm sleeping much better. The heaviness no longer keeps me awake and restless. The times of loneliness are fewer and fewer, and I'm falling in love with the solitude, (when I have time for it, that is). It's an amazing thing when your flesh-- and not just your spirit-- has a sense of being sustained by the Word of God. "The Gospel According to Job", and "Acts" have been my living water. The love, connection, support, and accountability of my friends and family-- "the Body", the community-- have been my manna.
Thank You, Loving Father... Giver and Taker-Away. Provider and Sustainer. Jehovah Jireh. Through my brokenness, You have again made me whole. You are rebuilding my crushed heart, and filling it back up with a love even greater than any I have ever experienced before. You are clearing my mind of my self-pity... even my sorrow... and filling it with Your ways... Your will... Your discernment. I do not deserve these things. I am not worthy of Your provision and love... and certainly not Your presence. But I have learned to accept... no, to CLING to Your grace, with all of my strength and life. It is so good to abide here with You.
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)