And, There You Go, Beautiful~

Today was the first time I’ve made enchiladas for one since my honey and I made them for two more than 9 months ago.

And I understand, normally, this isn’t any thing to “write home” about,  or to write about at all, but for me, it’s pretty significant.

Enchiladas were our thing.

Every Saturday, or almost every Saturday, we would dosey-do around in our own little (and I do mean little!) cocina making them.

I always prepared the red chile, because according to my husband, “nobody makes red chile like you, Beautiful.”

He took great pride in preparing the tortillas, but I was always in a hurry to eat.

“Oh, C’mon, Handsome. Hurry up. This chile smells so good. Can’t we start making the tortillas now?”

“No, Beautiful.  You can’t rush the process. The oil has to get to the perfect temperature.”

He reminded me of this every single time.

“And see, now that the oil is just right, a quick dip on this side, followed by a quick dip on this side. And, there you go, Beautiful.”

With that, he would hand me the plate with (in his mind, at least) the perfectly dipped tortilla.

I smothered it in chile, sprinkled it with cheese, and if it was going into his tummy, tossed on some onions, lots of onions.

Then, I would hand the plate back to him and he would dip another tortilla, place it on the one already on the plate, and hand the plate back to me. On and on, until we both had a stack of enchiladas.

I told you, enchiladas were our thing. We loved making them. We love eating them. We loved making them and eating them together.

So, today, me – in our cocina alone, making enchiladas. It was a big deal.

And I realized, in a way I hadn’t before, that a heart,

if given

enough time,

enough tender love and support,

enough freedom to cry tears,

enough grace to come messily undone,

will eventually find its way.

I knew today was the day. The sky, cloudy. The air, crisp. The craving, courageous. So, I stepped into the kitchen and made enchiladas.

And to my surprise, it felt right.

Not the way it used to, not the way I wished it could still be, not the way it had always been up to this point, but, it felt right for now, here, today.

And I knew in the loneliest place of my heart, that if I could see my honey, he would be standing there, just watching, a smile on his face, a nodding of his head in approval, a joy bubbling over in his heart.

As I tested the oil to make sure it was perfectly hot, I heard his words again, “You can’t rush the process.”

As I dipped the tortilla the way I had seen him do so many times before, and then placed it on my plate, I heard his words again.

“And see, now that the oil is just right, a quick dip on this side, followed by a quick dip on this side. And, there you go, Beautiful.”

img_0304

And, there you go, Beautiful.

Yes, indeed.

A heart will eventually find its way.

But, you can’t rush the process.

Oh…. and by the way….. my enchiladas …

they. were. amazing.

If only I could give you a bite, Handsome.  If only I could.

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Seeking and Finding~

Seven months today.

They say the more time you spend with someone, the more like that someone you become.  I had never really given this much thought, but its the thoughts I’ve been having lately that have me believing this is most certainly true.  Because do you know what thoughts I keep having, Handsome?  That’s right! Thoughts of late night /early morning mountain excursions that led us to, what always seemed to be, your very own personal elk choir.

It’s September.  And, if you had a favorite month, barring birthdays, our anniversary, and holidays, September would be it. You loved when the nights started getting cooler.  Yes, it meant summer was headed out the back door, but these cooler temps also meant the elk would be bugling their heads off. It meant, more than ever, the nearby mountains would be calling your name.  And when they did, you always answered the call to meander a lone mountain rode in the middle of the night doing some “calling” of your own.  (And, if I was lucky, I was able to go along with you.) No doubt about it – elk calling was your area of expertise.  I will boldly and proudly admit that, Handsome.  You could call an elk in so close, sometimes, I just knew the loud beating of my heart would reveal our hiding spot!

The last few nights, I haven’t been able to sleep.  I think I might have elk fever.  I recognize all the classic symptoms, Handsome.  Tossing and turning, knowing the elk are out in the woods doing their thing while you are stuck in bed wondering if you should throw all hope of sleep out the window, climb into the truck and head for the hills. I can almost see you smiling, and shaking your head as if to say, “C’mon, Beautiful, I wasn’t that bad, was I?”  Yes – yes, you were.  But, it made me love you all the more.  And now, it has me tossing and turning missing your tossing and turning.  It has me remembering night after night, drive after drive, elk after elk, excited look after excited look, heartbeat after heartbeat.  How could I ever forget some of the most precious times we spent together?

Seven months.  Forever that feels like yesterday. And, the tears keeps coming, seven months later.  And the missing you, more intense than the first night without you.  And this longing to be able to drive somewhere (anywhere) and call for you, knowing you would answer the cry of my heart and come – has me tossing and turning still seven months later.

I’m tired, Handsome.  I’m so very tired. Tired of not being able to find you anywhere.  And, if the searching for you during the awake hours wasn’t enough, most times, when sleep does happen to come, I find myself in a dream looking for you, lost in a world where not one thing is familiar, and no matter how loud I call or how many miles I walk, or how intense I look, I can never find you.  It is one of the worst feelings I have ever felt in my life. It unsettles me, unnerves me, depresses me, and honestly sometimes, Handsome, it scares me.

Life without you is scary.

But, I can honestly say, Handsome.  Each and every time I have been unable to find you, I have found God.

Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of deepest fear.  Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of pure desperation. Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of suffocating mourning. Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of excruciating surrender. Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of intense wrestling. Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of absolute fatigue.

And, sometimes, – – – sometimes this finding God has been through moments of overwhelming thankfulness. Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of uncontrollable laughter.  Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of unexpected blessings.  Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of sweet memories.  Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of praise and worship. Sometimes this finding God has been through moments of quiet reflection.

But, always, Handsome,  always I have been able to find God.

Because just like the elk,  who were roaming the mountains long before your truck would ever leave tire marks on that tiny, couldn’t-really-call-it-a-road dirt road,  God is already there.  He is just waiting for me to hear His call, to draw close, and discover Him in the midst of it all.

It reminds me of the heart sticker you bought me back in 1991.  You remember, don’t you, Handsome? We had been dating for eight months or so and I was headed to Texas for the summer.  Knowing my heart was longing to know God like your heart knew Him, you bought me a Bible, and then on the inside cover placed a red heart with this scripture: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29:13.

Red Heart in Bible

I spent that summer seeking His heart and finding Him. And because I did, I am still finding Him in the most personal, intimate, all-I-need-I-have-in-Him way here and now. In this moment and the next.

And, I am reminded of these precious words: “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.” ~Isaiah 65:24  And, more than ever, I am discovering they are true.  God is true.  True to His word.  True to His promises.  True to me.

You taught me so many things, Handsome.  How to spot elk, one of the most precious. But, more than this – – – so much more than this, you taught me how to spot God.

I am so very thankful I know how to find both.

If only I could find you, Handsome.  If only I could.

For All Eternity~

The list is long – so very long, Handsome.

All the things I want to ask you.  All the things I want to tell you.  All the things  I know you would get a kick out of if I could just share them with you.

I have a feeling, when I am finally reunited with you in Heaven, I am going to talk your ear off. I know. I know, Handsome.  I can almost see you smiling and shaking your head as if to say, “Of course you are. It’ll be like starting up right where we left off.  You talking and me listening. Well, most of the time, me listening.”  And then, I can see you wink – that ever-present wink that always left me smiling and shaking my head.

The things on the list are not anything news-worthy, Handsome, at least not by the world’s standard. But, they are on the tip of my heart and things I just feel the need to tell you.

Like,

  • This morning while I was sitting out on the patio, I saw the most beautiful yellow butterfly.  I know it must be kin to the one you always saw when you would be out piddling around in the yard.
  • I ran out of my flavored coffee, so I have been drinking your dark roast. And while I hate to admit it, you’re right!  Your coffee IS so much better than mine.
  • The city finally showed up and fixed our water meter.  I guess when they say they’ll get around to it, they eventually do.  It took over a year, and quite honestly, I had forgotten all about it needing fixing until they showed up.  You would have remembered months ago and called them about it.
  • I got out your weed eater and worked in the yard for about three hours last Friday.  And, I just have to ask:  When you did the yard, did your arms feel tingly and full of twitches hours after you finished?  You never mentioned it if they did.  And, even though I know I said it each time you came in from a  “yard well done”, I want so much to tell you again – thank you.
  • Speaking of the yard, I’ve got some sad news.  I don’t think the new Fugi apple tree you bought for me last year survived its first summer.  (You have no idea how hard it was to type that sentence.) I can still see the huge smile on your face when you came into the house that night. “Hey Beautiful, come see what I’ve got for you!” And there in the back of your truck, my very own Fugi apple tree.  It was a hotter than normal summer, and when life took me away from home weeks at a time, I think it must have felt the loneliness I feel here. This, along with the heat and no one here to water it, was just too much for its brand new roots to overcome.  I’m so sorry, Handsome.  I really am.
  • On a happy note – the turtles are still keeping me company.  For a few weeks there, I thought maybe they had dug themselves a secret passage way into the neighbor’s yard, but now that the weather is cooler and we are getting afternoon and evening rains, they are trucking around all over our yard.
  • I don’t know why, Handsome, but lately I’ve been feeling “scared”.  Not scared in any way that I can assign words to, just scared in general, I guess. I was texting with Simon the other day (who by the way, still remembers the first time he met you at the church – a Bible in one hand and a football in the other!) and he reminded me fear is from Satan and not God.  He asked me point blank: what is it that you are scared of, Stacy?  The only answer I know: scared of life without you, Handsome.
  • I’m doing ok, though.  I really am.  Not good, but ok. I had a hair appointment yesterday and, as always, it was good to sit in Leah’s chair and pour out my heart (and some tears).  We are such kindred spirits and it’s amazing how our journeys are so different and yet in some ways so very alike.  We reminded each other that God always has a purpose and He is always at work, and sometimes what happens to us has less to do with us and more to do with those who are watching us live out our life. To honor God in all seasons – it’s a hard calling, and yet,  with God living inside us and through us, living to honor God comes easier than we might imagine.
  • I had a speaking engagement Monday night and guess what I talked about.  Yep!  You, Handsome.  I told our story – how you had been touched by the Holy Spirit in Phoenix and fell head over heels in love with God.  And, how I met you and fell head over heels in love with not only you, but God, too.  How together we lived with God as the “difference maker” in our life.  How a few short months ago, I lost you, but because of the relationship I now have with God I was able to stand before them and testify of God’s goodness, to tell of God’s faithfulness, to stand before them, period. Afterwards, a lady came up to me and said, “You are a picture of grace. I’ve never seen grace in anyone like I see it in you.”  And, I know Handsome, that what she saw when she looked at me was God’s favor – God’s abundant, extravagant favor – for truly you and I were blessed beyond measure in and through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Oh, so much to tell you, Handsome.  So much to share.  So much to ask.  So much to pray about.  So much to talk through.  So much on the tip of my heart.

And, I can almost hear you and the words you would say  – – –

“Tell it to, God, Beautiful.  When you’re tossing in bed and you can’t sleep, whisper it to God like you used to whisper it to me.  When you’re wresting with a decision, take it to God, Baby. He alone is all knowing, all wise.  Just like we used to pray about decisions together, you and God can still talk things through.  When you’re feeling scared, Beautiful, (please don’t be scared, Baby) remember you are never alone.  GOD IS WITH YOU.  He’s right there, Stac. Let Him hold you and comfort you.  Let Him infuse you with strength in your inner man.  Open up the pages of His word and let His promises uphold you and His precious Spirit empower you.  Take everything you want to tell me and tell it to God, Baby. I know you probably are, but don’t ever stop.  Keep your eyes and your heart focused on Him.  He is everything and all that you need, Beautiful. Oh, and while I’m at it – one more thing: Enjoy, Baby! Enjoy! Enjoy every moment of every day, Beautiful.”

Night Time with God~

Yes, when I get to Heaven, your ears better be ready, Handsome. I have a feeling I could talk to you and our precious God for all eternity.

If only I could talk with you now.  If only I could.

 

 

It’s August~

August hit today, and with it came a brand new flood of missing you.  In December we always celebrated me, and then in January, I got to return the party and celebrate you.  August was the best, though, because it was our month.

Every year, when August rolled around, our love just seemed to get sweeter.  There was just something about knowing separately, yet uniquely together, that this month was the month that had changed everything that made us look at each other a little flirtier, a little longer, a little more deeply.

August is the month that made me your Mrs. and you, my Mr.  August is the month that found us rolling around in Holy Matrimony and loving every minute of it.  August is the month that found us strolling along the River Walk in San Antonio and fishing off of Padre Island.  August in the month where “his and hers” took on a whole new crazy, wild, never experienced before meaning.

August was our month.  The month we waited for all year long.  The month in which, no matter what was happening or what day of the week it landed on, we both took time off from work on the 7th (and sometimes, even the day before and the day after) just to celebrate remembering the day we said “I do”.

It’s August 1, Handsome.  August 1.  What am I supposed to do with that?  Soon it will be August 4 which will mark 6 months that you’ve been gone.  Then, a few days beyond that, August 7, our anniversary.

All day long I wrestled with pushing aside any memories tied to this month. In fact, I fought to focus on anything but this month, but my heart wouldn’t cooperate. Somehow, this seemed to my heart to be the most disrespectful, unloving thing to do and it would have no part of it.

So, following the lead of my heart, tonight, when I should have been getting ready for bed, I was sitting in the middle of our living room floor, looking at all of our wedding pictures, wiping one tear after another after another. Oh how my heart ached.  It physically ached for you, Handsome.  And, I heard in the back of my mind, “You just have to ride it out, Beautiful. You just have to ride it out.”

It’s what you always said to me when I would find myself in a tight spot, in a place that made my heart hurt, in a place that was a place I had no control over.

Only tonight, riding it out didn’t sound like something I wanted to do.  Not one bit.  As the words kept making their way to my heart, my heart stubbornly refused to hear them, all the while shaking itself side to side as if to say “NO!”

So, hear I sit, Handsome.  It’s almost midnight and I’m doing the only thing I know to do.  I’m praying to our precious Heavenly Father to help me through. As I sit in the still of the night, I keep hearing His sweet Spirit saying “You just have to write it out, Stacy.  You just have to write it out.”

As I type on the keyboard, I start to breathe a little easier.  As I talk with The One who gave you to me, I feel a comfort and a peace that holds back my tears long enough to type without blurry vision or a wet keyboard.  As I reminisce about our month, a bittersweet joy starts to emerge from the overwhelming sorrow.

And I look at this photo and I realize more than ever how very blessed I am.

Wedding Day

I loved.

And, I was loved. (Oh, how you loved me.)

This will always be true no matter what is happening – whether it’s August or not, whether it’s the day of our anniversary or not, whether you are here or not.

I loved you.

You loved me.

Always and forever.

If only I could feel your hand in mine again.  If only I could feel the gentle brush of your lips on my skin.  If only I could tell you just once more how proud I am to be your wife, to be your Mrs., to wear your name, to have shared your life.

If only I could, Handsome.  If only I could.

 

Wishing on the Moon~

We should have done it, Handsome.  And, tonight, yes tonight, would have been the perfect night to do it.  If you would have been here, no doubt I would have asked.  And, chances are you would have said, “C’mon Baby, you know we can’t do that.  We have work tomorrow.”

And, then – you know exactly what I would have responded.

“That’s ok.  We’ll just call in.”

“And what are we going to tell them when we call in, Beautiful?”

“That’s simple.  We’ll just tell them we won’t be in today because we decided to follow the moon.”

Every single month.  Every single full moon that peeked over the mountain top. Every single time the same conversation. And every single evening when the moon shone bright and beautiful, dancing in and out of the clouds like tonight, we stayed up a little too late, and gazed a little too long, and loved every single moment basking in the moonlight together.

While we never did follow the moon until it slipped beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean and tucked itself in, I loved dreaming about it with you, Handsome.  Just the thought made me happy.

And I can’t help thinking tonight would have made you happy.

Not because the moon was up.  Not because it was extraordinarily beautiful.  No, tonight you would have been happy because for the first time since you’ve been gone, I stepped outside and I reveled in the moon for the both of us.  I missed you to be sure – so much missing you that tears often blurred my view, but tonight, I didn’t let the moon go unnoticed like every other month without you.

And, I wished we would have done it.

I wished we would have followed the moon.

If only we could.  If only we could.

When Peace Rained Down~

I sat in the floor of the hallway, my hand doing what the rest of me wanted to do – rubbing this space of carpet where you last were, hoping so desperately to be able to touch you instead of these woven fibers. In my mind’s eye, I could see you there, and I longed to hug you, to reach my hand out to you and lift you back up to your feet.  To hold you and be held by you.  To bury my head in your neck and be engulfed by your scent and wrapped in your arms.

But instead, I found myself alone with carpet, an empty doorway leading to the bathroom, and a whole lot of questions and a heart spilling over with wishes.  And, I cried.  And, then I moaned.  And, then my sorrow turned to out loud wailing.  I couldn’t stop it.  How do you suppress a force stronger than the ocean?  So, I let it all out.  For the umpteenth time since you’ve been gone, Handsome, I sat where you were last and I wept til I could hardly breathe.

Only today, Handsome, I didn’t weep alone.  As I surrendered to the weight of my missing you and rolled off of my knees onto my back, looking up at the ceiling, I heard it.  Sprinkled in with my sobs, I could hear the pitter-patter of rain drops on the skylight in the bathroom.  And, I knew down in the deepest place of my heart, this wasn’t a brief afternoon shower, this was the very God of Heaven weeping with me.

It brought me to my feet and straight out to the patio.  As the droplets fell from the sky, so did my tears.  For the first time since you’ve been gone, God and I cried together.  His sorrow not removed from my own, but right there in the hallway and right there on the patio with me.

And I remembered the story of Lazarus and the tears God wept then.  Not tears because He was supposedly too late and Lazarus was dead, but tears that flowed from a heart overcome with the sorrow spilling out of the hearts of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha.  The very same God who knew in the next few moments Lazarus would walk in newness of life wept tears with those who wept.  He was touched by their sorrow.  And tonight – like I’m sure every moment since you’ve been gone, God was touched by my sorrow.  I know because my spirit  – which is home to His Spirit in me – testified to this very fact.

And the comfort that came as my tears intermingled with these droplets of Heaven can not be explained.  There is not a word in this world to capture the moment, to describe the communion, to adequately convey the immersion of my sorrow into His and His into mine.

The Most High God came to me in my most low moment and wept with me.  Not tears because He was supposedly too late and you are gone, but tears that flowed from a heart overcome with the sorrow spilling out of my heart.  The very same God who knows in the blink of an eye this life will be over and we will be together face to face for all eternity wept tears with me while I wept.

Our creator God, the very one who bent low and scooped dust in His hands to form the first man, remembered I am dust.  The Breath of Life, the very one who breathed into each of us the breath of life, knew how sorrow and death and separation from you makes taking my next breath feel impossible sometimes.  Our Abba Daddy, the very one who loves me with a love that knows no end, who understands my heart like no one else, and who understands the true extent and depth of my grief, felt my overwhelming sorrow.

He remembered.

He knew.

He felt.

And, He wept with me.

And then, the great I am, oh so gently, and yet, oh so very powerfully, reminded me of this truth:

Resurrection and Life 2-

And, as the raindrops and the tears flowed down my cheeks, my praise flowed upward and outward from a heart overflowing with hope and thanksgiving.  They met in the middle – sorrow and praise, grief and thanksgiving – and out of their union, peace rained down.

Beautiful peace.

Not the peace the world gives, but the peace that can only be found in the blessed hope we have in and through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

What a precious moment.  What a precious Savior.

If only you could have been here to feel it.  If only you could.

Free to Live~

I missed you yelling at me today.  And honestly Handsome, you would have had every reason to.  Not the kind of  yelling most people think of  when they think of yelling, but your kind of yelling, the yelling  that came from a place of concern, not anger.

“Really, Beautiful?! C’mon Stac. (You didn’t call me Stac often, but when you did, it always seemed to fit the occasion.) You know you can’t add oil to the car and not put the oil cap back on?  Oil is going to go everywhere, just like it did.  What were you thinking, Beautiful?  C’mon Baby, you can’t be doing things like that?”

I could hear you.  Word. for. word.  I knew what you would say if you would have been here to say it. And, yet – in my defense, if you would have been here, none of this would have happened:

Oil dripping from every square inch of everyplace that is under the hood of our car.  Oil lakes (not puddles) on the floor of our garage.  Texts between me and my two sisters to figure out what to do next.  Tears running down my hot, sweaty, oily cheeks.  Me at the carwash degreasing and cleaning the engine.  Me pouring kitty litter into the oil lakes in our garage.  Me thanking my sisters for their advice.  Tears still running down my hot, sweaty, oily cheeks.

Five months today.  And, while others are celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks, I started my day off with yet another reminder that you aren’t here.

Not here.  I don’t think I am ever going to get used to that.  And each time a reminder hits me, it knocks me completely off my feet, completely on my back, completely down for the count.

It’s not that oil all over the place is a big deal, because in reality it isn’t.  Messy, yes. Frustrating, yes. Embarrasing, yes.  But, a big deal, no – not really.  The overwhelming of it stems not from what is, but rather, what isn’t.

I can handle what’s here.  Like, two weeks ago when the motor on our air conditioner went out. After three days and nights of dealing with temps in the 100’s, a repairman came and fixed it. Voila. No big deal. And yet, standing in my office, crying my heart out to a co-worker, I couldn’t seem to explain to her that the air conditioner wasn’t the problem.  You not being here to take care of it was.  You not being here, period.  This was what had me standing there telling her over and over again, “I’m not this strong.  I’m not strong enough to do this.”  Not fix the air conditioner, but live without you.

And, honestly Handsome, if you would have been in my office that day, I would have heard you yelling at me then, too.  Not the yelling most people think of when they think of yelling, but your kind of yelling, the yelling  that came from a place of concern, not anger.

“Really, Beautiful?! C’mon Stac. (Stac would have fit this occasion, too.) You know you can’t give up on living just because I’m not there to live life with you. You  know you can’t keep thinking you aren’t strong enough to handle this.  If you keep this up, what’s going to happen?  What are you thinking, Beautiful?  C’mon Baby, you can’t be doing things like that?”

I could hear you.  Word. for. word.  I knew what you would say if you would have been there to say it.

And, I know it’s true.  Every word you would have said if you could.  It’s all true.  And yet, I don’t know how to move past the truth in them to the living them.  I honestly don’t, Handsome.

“C’mon, Stac. It’s not hard.  It’s really not.  Just do it, Baby.  Just get out there and live. Five months have come and gone.  Five months, Beautiful.  You know how precious each day is.  You know what a gift God gives us in each moment.  You know what God created you to do and be.  Just keep doing what you were doing.  Just keep answering His call, following His lead, and trusting His goodness.  Just keep living each day for Him, Beautiful.  Not me, but for God.  I was the one God chose for you to share life with, but He’s the one you should be living life for.  Ok, Beautiful?  Do it for Him.  And, do it for me.  I don’t want your life to end just because my time on earth did.  Ok, Baby?  C’mon Stac. Just do it. Let God’s Spirit set you free to live, truly live. Please, Beautiful. Live every moment.”

I let your words soak in.  And His words, too.

“I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“Now the Lord is the Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, people are set free.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

It’s getting dark.  It’s almost time for fireworks.  If you don’t mind, Handsome, I think I’ll put this laptop away, and go drive to our favorite spot for watching them.

If only I could watch them with you.  If only I could.

spirit of the lord