Sunday, January 4, 2015

FOCUS: My 2015 Word For The Year

Photo borrowed from:

Since my husband, Buck, passed away nearly six years ago, I have made a commitment to spend more time in pursuit of spiritual growth. I am so thankful for the way God has used my daily devotional time to help me to grow in my relationship with Him. It has also gone a long way in the restoration of my broken heart as I face life as a widow. I never anticipated the intimacy that this discipline would deliver. Never before have I enjoyed such a close and personal connection to my God!

During these times of communing with Him, I was aware that certain words or themes would repeatedly be evident in my daily time spent with God. Most often this happened through the devotional that I would be reading at the time. Most recently, I have grown very fond of the way the Lord communicates with me through Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. This will be my third year of daily time spent within her pages. Her style of writing is so appealing to me, as she writes in first person, so that it seems that Jesus is speaking directly to me. It is surprising how often the subject matter is exactly what I need to hear, or it confirms something I have had on my mind. I often weep in amazement that the Creator of the universe would fashion such a message that would touch me in such a personal way, as though it was written just for me. This happens all the time!

In years past, these themes included tender messages about trusting Him, not being afraid, about His Light shining in my darkness, His Faithfulness, and my favorite and most recent was the constant reminder that He is always with me... Immanuel... God with us... and that He will never leave or forsake me. These messages of Love were a great encouragement to me and often gave me courage, energy and motivation to face the day ahead. They still do.

Last week, as the year was drawing to a close, I noticed several posts on Facebook about adopting a Word for the New Year. This was recommended in place of New Year resolutions. This concept was appealing and made sense to me. As I contemplated this for myself, the word focus quickly came to mind. I was concerned, though, if this was from the Lord or by my own design. So, as I drifted off in the early hours of New Year’s morning, I asked God to please confirm that this idea was, indeed, from Him.

In mid-morning, I decided to reread the Introduction from Jesus Calling and this sentence jumped off the page. “... somedays I simply sit with Him for a while and write nothing. During these times of focusing on God, I may experience ‘fullness of joy’ in His Presence (Ps 16:11) or I may simply enjoy His gentle company and receive His Peace.” And if that wasn’t unmistakable enough, I also found this in the January 1st entry. “As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you. ” This clearly was an answer to my prayer from the wee hours and my emotional response spilled out onto the pages of my journal. How is it that You are mindful of me, oh Lord? I wept in recognition, awe and wonder!  

I look forward to seeing how God will use this word: focus, in my life this year. I have a feeling it will provide opportunities to write about what He is teaching me along the way. I pray that what I learn is beneficial to my readers, too, as I am inspired to use this writing gift to share what God is doing in my life. I would encourage you to ask God for a “word” of your own. I would love to hear about your experiences as well! God bless you and yours in the New Year! Thank you so much for continuing to join me on my Tandem Journey.

FlowerLady Lorraine 

Dear Renee' ~ What a GREAT post and I am so glad to read it. It is very encouraging. I've just past the 2nd anniversary of my dear husband's homegoing and I too have become closer to God.

My word for the year is 'dependence'. More dependence on Jesus for everything I need.

I have Jesus Calling too and it is a wonderful book. A friend gave it to me right after losing my husband and as you say it is just like Jesus is talking right to you.

Bless your heart, mind soul and body as you continue to trust in Jesus for all your needs.

Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady 

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Happy" ~ It's What I Want To Be

March 25th was my grandson, Justin’s, 18th birthday. I helped him celebrate at The Outback with his parents, siblings and his girlfriend, that pleasant evening. On the drive back to my family’s home on that snowy night, Justin introduced me to a song I never heard before. He showed me Pharrell Williams’ official video for his hit song titled, “Happy” on his i phone. I was entranced as I watched many snippets of everyday people like you and me, do their version of a “happy dance” for the video camera. It made me want to bounce in my seat! But then something very unexpected happened. While the joy-filled music played, a new wave of grief snuck up and pounced on me. The numbness returned and the emptiness felt overwhelming. Tears spilled and splashed silently on my lap.

Fast forward four months to today. It is my birthday and I’m feeling anything but happy right now. My handkerchief is soggy and tear-stained. I’m wondering if maybe I should pull out my towel. I should be used to this. It’s been brewing for five days, now. I continue to hate the impact that the calendar has on me. On this, my birthday, what I feel most intensely is the emptiness, again. Guilt also makes up a significant piece of this emotion-filled pie. Guilt, because I have so much to be thankful for. My family and friends: all those I consider my loved ones, have been so wonderful over the past five plus years. But they can’t fill this empty place... this void that my Buck’s home-going created in my heart. Only the Lord can accomplish that. It’s been a good while since I had a good cry like the one I experienced a few minutes ago. I know it is good for me to let it go and get it out, but I hate it just the same! I’m praying that writing will be therapeutic as it often is, and I’ll be able to move on, away from this dark, familiar and uncomfortable place.

We all know that happiness means something very unique to each of us. We are all so different as we traverse our individual journeys. Over the past year, I have done a lot of soul searching. Though my introverted personality has been content to accept this season of aloneness, I know that God planted a seed of desire, inspiring me to consider opening my heart again. Frankly, I liked it much better the way it was before.

This afternoon, a florist truck drove by very slowly. About 10 minutes later, I saw the driver stop and park in front of my house. I knew she was having difficulty, so I walked outside to see if I could help. She had a gorgeous lily and roses bouquet in her arms. It wasn’t for me, of course. I knew that when I walked outside, but the reality and the reminder that I don’t have a sweetheart anymore punched me in the face again and I’ve been bleeding all afternoon. I don’t need or want flowers really. It’s just what they represent that is tearing me apart, today. I took the hit with a smile on my face for the driver’s sake. Of course I would be happy to keep them for my lovely young neighbor, for whom the beautiful token of affection was intended for. The driver handed me a card that is good for a free rose, in appreciation for my willingness to help deliver the flowers. So, I guess I could say I got a flower from heaven, today. It just wasn’t delivered to my door and I will need to remember to pick it up someday and not lose the card in the meantime.

Choosing joy over brokenness always requires intentionality.  It’s hard to move past it, but I don’t want to get stuck here. There’s nothing joyful about a pity party. Time to change my attitude and count my blessings. Although everyone knows that blue is my favorite color,  a blue mood is not what I want for today or any other day for that matter. I guess I needed to go through this process again, so I would remember what I need to do; and encourage you to do the same , if maybe you are also having a less than desirable day of your own. As I count my boatload of blessings, I’ll play Pharrell’s “Happy” song as background music. Certainly, I have so much to be happy about! I’m including it here for all of you. This song has been known to lift my spirits when I’m down and make me dance around my house. I love that! I pray it has that same effect again, today. Who knows; maybe I’ll bake a birthday cake while I’m dancing around the kitchen! It will be chocolate, of course! Chocolate makes everything better. It’s among this woman’s very favorite blessings! Thank You, Lord! I’m starting to feel better already!!! I pray this lively, toe-tapping melody will set all of us free and inspire us to dance!!!

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by the sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 15:13 (King James Version)

A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick. Proverbs 17:22 (Living Bible)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wipers And A Wimpy Belt

Posted Oct 15, 2010 ~ A story about God's faithfulness and my first mowing season as a widow

A couple weeks ago, I had an interesting day, mechanically speaking. I was very dismayed that after about eight loops around my front yard, the cutting blades did not engage when I pulled out the PTO lever on my lawn tractor. I groaned inside, as anything going wrong with the lawn tractor always meant having to ask for help from my neighbor or a dear friend who lived an hour or more away. After turning off the engine, I lowered the cutting deck to its lowest position and stared at the wimpy belt. The thought ran through my mind: The Lord and I can fix this.

So with God’s guidance, we did just that! I was elated and thanked the Lord and got back to work until the belt jumped off again after another 15 minutes or so; only this time there was a spring laying on the deck, unattached. I figured out where it belonged, reinstalled the belt and started off again. Feeling a little less prideful, I fixed it again and again until after the fourth time, it dawned on me that I needed to look for the reason this was happening. Guess I’m a little slow in the cause and effect dept. I then realized there was a loose pulley that was allowing play in the belt.

So, now the hunt was on. Finding Buck’s ratchet set and trying to decipher the right socket was not easy. Figuring out how to use them with an extension and pair of pliers to hold the nut under the tractor was pretty tricky too, considering I have never used a ratchet before. And what would I do without “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosy”! I waited until last week, when I needed to mow again, to find out if my efforts were successful. It was so wonderful to mow the lawn without interruption! We did it, Lord! Yay God!!!

I felt encouraged by my tractor experience, so I jumped into another little project I thought I would probably need assistance with. In preparation for selling Buck’s car soon, I purchased some replacement windshield wipers. It took me awhile, but I finally got them installed. I was thrilled that they didn’t go flying across the garage, the first time I tried them out!

Little by little, I’m learning to be more God sufficient and I’m so thankful that He is helping me with this unfamiliar territory. His Word says: You have not because you ask not. I've been asking more and He has been a very patient teacher. It also says: “The Lord sustains the fatherless and the widow…Psalm 146:9. I know first hand that this is truth, as His Faithfulness continues in so many areas of my life. How thankful I am that He knows each of us as individuals and He cares about all that is going on in our lives. He consistently makes me aware of His presence. How very blessed I am as we journey on together!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finishing Well ~ A Tribute To My Friend

A painting I did for my friend, Ed,  titled "Finishing Well"

Today will be an extra difficult day for the Geinendaffer family and all his friends and loved ones who knew this precious man and remember this day as the first anniversary of Ed's home-going. What a blessing he was to all of our lives. I visited his Facebook page this week and had a good cry as I recalled all that his friendship meant to me.

This time last year, I wrote a post about a painting that I did for Ed and his family. For some reason, I didn't publish it back then. I don't know why. I thought that today, on the first anniversary of his passing, would be a fitting time to share what the Lord inspired me to paint and write. Just my way of reaching out and sharing how much I miss my friend.


Although I tried to prepare myself for the reality of the news, the weight of the Facebook message hit me like an unexpected ocean wave. That night in mid-December, Ed, one of my dearest of friends, passed from this life into the beginning of the very best part of his life for the rest of eternity. Cancer robbed him of the years he had hoped to spend with his loved ones and friends, but it provided a bridge to the beginning of his new face to face life with his Savior. I am so happy for him, but my heart is broken for his family as they deal with the pain of their loss. My friend's absence will leave a great void in my life as well, as Ed was truly one of the best friends I ever had!

Edwin J. Geisendaffer Sr. was a man with a servant's heart, who lived to serve and help others. I was a recipient of his loyal friendship and faithful kindness many times during the 15 years that I knew him.
My buddy, doing what he did the best: finishing my garage and serving the people he cared about. Always with a smile on his face.
A sample of Ed's ingenuity, when my lawn tractor's belt was broken. 
During the month of November, the theme at my church’s art group was: “It's Better To Give Than To Receive”. In keeping with her theme, deAnn, the art director, encouraged us to use our creativity to create a gift for someone, asking the Lord whom we could bless with our artistic efforts. Ed came to my mind immediately, and I asked the Lord for inspiration.
When I visited Ed a few weeks before he was called home, I asked his wife, Bobbie, if Ed liked any particular kind of artwork. After a few moments, she said that the only thing she could think of was that he was attracted to artwork that depicted action sports, and instantly, an idea was born. 
Immediately, I had a vision of a runner crossing the finishing line. It seemed so fitting since Ed had been a marathon runner for many years, and I’m sure he had crossed countless finish lines, as he participated in competitive races. But the symbolism behind this painting goes a great deal deeper, as I see it as a representation of his life. I view it as a depiction of his personal race of life, so well run: spending so much of himself in serving others in innumerable ways. As I look around my home, I see many examples of his passion to help others and I was a recipient of his servant's heart on many occasions. 

Sadly, he is running away from us, as he crosses the bridge carrying him into his new life, but what Joy for him. More importantly, he is running toward the sun, or The Son, symbolic to portray the “Light of the World,” as he crosses his finish line.
On that glorious day, he got to experience our Lord, face to face, and was reunited with his loved ones and friends who had gone before him. I 'm sure my sweetheart, Buck, was among that group to welcome his buddy home. When I delivered my painting to Ed on his deathbed, I asked him to give Buck a big hug for me. What a sweet reunion it must have been! I have no doubt that Ed heard the voice of the Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

I will miss you, Ed, but I know I will see you again, and look forward to seeing your smiling face on that glorious day, right after I get that first hug from your buddy, Buck!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From My Father's Heart ~ The Difference A Few Moments In Time Can Make

Sometimes, we get to enjoy little miracles fashioned just for us!

A few days ago was one of those significant days that usually conjures an emotional response. Another anniversary, this would have been our 16th. I was pleasantly surprised however, and so thankful for a really good day. It was sunny and warm; bright and breezy enough to encourage me to hang my laundry outside in the sunshine. I  baked a loaf of bread that day; and thanks to my dear friend, Pat, I got a nice long walk in as we watched the beautiful full moon rise in the north eastern sky.

As I reflected on the day, I was thankful that it wasn't a terribly emotional one as anniversaries normally are. This was the best so far and I'm thrilled to look back and see a marked difference compared to years past. I'm thankful for progress. Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of this beautiful autumn day!

Recently this week, I read a beautiful story about a very special close encounter with a hummingbird. God used this tiny jewel-like creature to begin the restoration process in the heart of a man who had just laid his precious wife to rest. The story made me cry as it brought to mind a very special memory that took place late summer, last year. As I thought about my close encounter, I tried to locate it among my blog posts from last September. As I searched, I realized that my story was still in draft form and I never published it as I thought I had. The story is true and took place on Buck's birthday last year. I know in my heart that God was aware that I was having a difficult day and needed a special moment that would lift my spirits. I'm so thankful to have it in my treasury of special memories. This is what I wrote that day.


I have made a commitment to do my best not to focus on grief, since the three year anniversary mark of my sweetheart's home-going... both in my writing and in my life in general. But my reality still includes many moments that inspire sadness that I just can't hide or ignore. When you lose someone you love, it's important to acknowledge the grief and loss whenever the moments arrive, so you can move past them and find all the many moments of joy that life still has to offer.

Significant days still hit hard. Early September delivered one of those days as my husband's birthday came around again. It is my desire to encourage anyone who is dealing with grief or loss, by sharing my story of how the Lord made it clear that He knows when my heart needs a “joy lift”. He blessed me with some unique joy-filled moments this week that proved once again that He loves me and provided some memorable distractions that I will always cherish as gifts from His heart.

I think it's interesting that these ”gifts” showed up in the same location: my favorite spot on my front porch. The day after my encounter with the praying mantis, as I shared about in a recent post, I was blessed again as I savored the last of summer as I swayed on my glider. I was trying to compose some Haiku poetry, when a hummingbird came to visit the flowering plant next to me. She was only an arms length away! Imagine my surprise when she moved away from the tiny white blossoms and hovered directly in front of me, just about twelve inches from my face! I wondered if she thought my hair was a big white flower as she studied me for about seven glorious seconds!

This was not the first time I experienced such a delightful encounter, as I was blessed years ago with a similar visit. Only on that occasion, the tiny iridescent bird was drawn to a red design on the front of my tee shirt, as I hung a freshly filled hummingbird feeder. This time I was wearing a dark gray tank top and there were no bright colors or feeders to attract my feathered friend, only a feeder nearly twenty feet away.

That's why it is so obvious to me that these precious, back to back wildlife encounters were gifts from my Heavenly Father's hand. He knew that Buck and I both loved hummingbirds. And He knows me well enough to know, that such an unexpected surprise would lift my spirits on a day that I was struggling while missing my sweetheart. That precious “gift” made me cry in remembrance, but there were tears of joy mixed in as well, in appreciation for such a wondrous personal touch from my Lord! Those amazing moments turned my day around, and for that, I was so thankful!

As I basked in the memory of the face to face visitation, I was inspired to commemorate the occasion with a Haiku poem, in thanksgiving for God's gift to me that day.

Face To Face

Today's best moments
Close encounter to behold
Hummingbird visit

Eye level juncture
Curious observation
Brought us face to face

Few moments in time
Blessed connection with nature
Freeze frame with splendor

Magical motion
God's glorious creation
Thank You for the gift

Friday, August 2, 2013

Birthday Contemplation

Another birthday arrived yesterday: my fifth one as a widow. This one is reminding me that I have enjoyed many years of joys and blessings, as well as challenges and various seasons of sorrow. As the day came to a close, I felt drained, fatigued and somewhat empty.
While searching for something on my computer, I came across my journal entry that I wrote a week and a half after Buck was called “home”. Reliving my memories of Buck’s last day on earth was very emotional, but equally therapeutic, as once again I faced the reality of releasing my precious man into God’s open and welcoming arms and choosing not to deny the grief that still resides in my heart. Though painful, I know it is a necessary part of the restoration process, even after four plus years.
I woke to lots of commotion in my otherwise quiet neighborhood. There had been multiple explosions at the township municipal maintenance building just a quarter mile from my home. The building that housed all the maintenance equipment was a total loss as well as all their lawn equipment and the five large dump trucks used for snow removal were all incinerated.
The community is so thankful that no employees were in the building and no one was hurt in the shocking suddenness of the events of the day. Only a small dump truck, pick-up truck and two tractors that were in use by employees escaped the fire. Sadly, the personal vehicles of the four employees were also lost as they were parked next to the burning building. All that remains are the charred vehicles and machinery, and the sheet metal pieces that were once the roof and exterior walls of the original building.
After reading my journal entry, I reviewed the events of the day, and strangely saw the ruins as a symbol of how I felt that day: in shock, devastated and destroyed from the inside out, everything surreal with only a thin, vulnerable shell left behind. As all the wooden components of the building were consumed by the flames, only a mangled tangle of metal remained as the shell caved in on itself, leaving behind very little that was recognizable. Somewhat eerie was how the door was left in place, precarious and free standing, with nothing visible to support it.
In the days and months to come, the debris will be gathered and recycled. The remains will be removed, but the employees will be left numb and reeling as they face the reality of what happened yesterday and how it will affect their lives in the days ahead. They are thankful to be alive, but will be displaced until all the debris is dealt with. New plans will be drawn up, studied, reviewed, revamped and the rebuilding process will begin. They will be hopeful that this won’t take long, but knowing full well, it always takes longer than we ever dreamed it would. And all the while, they will wait in limbo, as they will slowly transition through the uncomfortable process of change.
Of course, there won’t be grief as in the loss of a loved one, but just the same, I can identify with the wreckage the fire left behind. For me, the free standing door symbolizes the Lørd holding me up: invisible, but supporting me all the while as I made the choice to pursue life, and all the forms of joy that it still has to offer. I miss Buck and life as we knew it, but I know in my heart that though my life continues to change, the new landscape will be good and beautiful.
I can’t help but wonder what the Lord’s blueprint for my life will look like this coming year, and how it might be different on my next birthday. I am hopeful that it won’t include the emptiness I felt last night as my birthday came to an end. This journey continues to have its ups and downs just like we all experience, but I’m thankful for the numerous joy-filled days that are mine to enjoy along the way.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Belly Laugh

Considering all the sorrow that comes with widowhood, and all the hard and painful things we all deal with throughout our lives, it’s needful and healthy to have a good “belly laugh” on occasion. I love it when the Lord gives me a story to tell, and yesterday He gave me one that made me laugh out loud. I still giggle every time I reflect on what happened last night. I hope it will inspire at least a smile for you today.

Last night, I was on my way to Havre de Grace, Md, approximately an hour and fifteen minutes from my home. As I drove out of my neighborhood, I reached into my purse to locate my sunglasses. While giving my full attention to my driving, I popped them onto my face and was on my way.

I was traveling to attend a surprise birthday party for my sister, Colleen. I was a bit anxious that the drive would take longer than anticipated. I hadn’t allowed any margins to deal with the Honeypot truck I was forced to follow at an even slower pace than the already slow speed limit. One of these days, I will learn to leave early. You would think by now I would have learned that lesson, especially since I often encounter Amish buggies on a regular basis.

My anxiety grew when I arrived in Havre de Grace, and I noticed that the town was overflowing with people. The town was celebrating their “First Friday”, when the first Friday of every month, they close off a main street like a block party, with lots of activities throughout the whole area. Parking is always an issue there on any given day. Now an already challenging situation was going to be a lot more complicated. I drove to the restaurant where the party was to be held and of course there wasn’t any spots available in their parking lot. Silly me and my wishful thinking!

I started circling the area to see what I could find. I really didn’t mind having to walk two and a half blocks. I was just afraid I would be late and spoil the surprise. I finally found a parking lot where kayakers launch their boats and park their vehicles and trailers while they enjoy the Susquehanna River. I parked in front of a construction fence, because there were no marked spots available. I didn’t see any no parking signs, so I thought it might be okay to park my car there.

Just as I was leaving my car, I saw a young man carrying his kayak across the parking lot. I asked him his opinion about  parking there, just to be sure. He agreed that it should be fine. I thanked him and got back in my car to grab my purse. As I did so, I took a quick glance into my rear view mirror, and I was stunned by what I saw! It was one of those “OH MY GOODNESS” moments that kinda stops your world for a brief instant, and I had to laugh out loud as I stared at my reflection. Part of me wanted to vanish into thin air, but another part of me wanted to run after the young man I had just spoken to, to let him know I wasn’t a lunatic! REALLY!

So this is what I saw! I don't understand how in the world I didn't notice the missing lens on that long drive, but here's proof, not to mention finding the absent lens in the bottom of my purse.

I asked my son-in-law, Bob, to take a picture at the party, so I could always have this funny memory.

Laughter is good for us, and I love any occasion to do so! I shared my story at Colleen’s party and everyone had a good laugh on me. It was great fun to show them what I saw in the mirror. I hope my silly story brightened your day and maybe even inspired a good “belly laugh” for you too! And I wish all of you a wonderful summer full of joy, laughter and memory making!

A cheerful heart is good medicine...