It feels like forever since I wrote my last post but in reality it’s only been a week. It has been marked by kindness of the Lord. I have seen His kindness so evident and tangible. One of the things that to me was the most attractive element to John was his kindness, he was one of the kindest persons on the planet and I had the privilege of seeing it day in and day out and it truly was a supernatural kindness that could melt me in a second. Part of me is not surprised that the Lord would use kindness to woe me to Him, as John’s kindness could push past any part of me that might have been angry or upset with him and I would fold immediately on seeing his kindness towards people. The Lord has been so kind to me this week. He has shown his gentle specific attention to me in ways I can barely articulate. I’ve been asking for God to give me eyes to see Him and ears to hear Him and I believe He is answering my prayers. Very specific things have happened that I have told no one about before, things that I haven’t even asked God for but just thought about have happened. Seeing the Lord’s kindness in such an extraordinary way, has totally made me fall in love with Him so deeply. I literally want to do nothing other than spend all my time with Him. I am barely sleeping and eating is nominal which those two things for me played huge amounts of time in the day…

I asked the Lord to give me structures to help me base my life around Him and to enable us to have a relationship again after the devastation I encountered when John died and I think He has revealed them to me. So much so that I actually want to get up in the morning… this is a thing I never thought may come back. God keeps reminding me how He knows me completely. How else could I respond other than to give Him all my life? All my love? All my hope? All my devotion? I am really serious about Him.

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Weekend away was sooo good. Loved it, it was like bright warm sunshine breaking through the clouds of a foggy dark miserable day. Saw old friends which was really really lovely. Learnt about the beautiful Gospel and was taught how to use liturgy in prayer. Liturgy is like a train track, you jump on it and it takes you on a journey that you don’t have to drive yourself. I think that topic might come up in a few blogs time so I’ll leave it there… a lyric popped into my head just before I began writing this and it summed up the last few days for me well. “Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at your feet.” (Lauren Daigle) The truth is I loved John so incredibly much, I loved being married to him and I loved our life together. Yeah sure at times it was incredibly difficult but I still loved it. And letting go of that apart from the everyday loss of John, this for me is the second hardest part. I don’t want to let go of the life I used to have with him, seriously I don’t, I’m clinging to it for dear life and yet it’s already gone… it went when he went to be with God. And it smashes me to smithereens. I knew my place with John, I knew what I had to do, where I had to be, what we were doing, and even going to be doing. Now I know flipping nothing. I haven’t got a clue. And that in and of itself is terrifying. Let alone the fact that John is not here. That is like doubling down on all of it. A couple of things I know: number one, I do not want to get stuck in the past and not be able to move on. Number two, even though it grieves me deeply and I go in and out of denial about this from moment to moment, the truth is my life with John has gone, and it’s kind of like a crumbling monument. Number Three, I HAVE to move on. I know it will take time, my gosh, it is taking time. I would give anything to fast forward this process, really I would. But I can’t. I just have to move when I can and for how much I can. The other lyric’s which are helping at the moment: “If you can calm the raging sea, you can calm the storm in me.” (Skillet) I think I may have written them in a blog back in the spring, but they’ve come back around again. If you were to listen in to my soul you would hear a violent tempest, things are being thrown (mainly by grief, but sometimes by theology and anthropology) about and this line of the song is so apt right now. I have to trust myself to Jesus cause He can calm the storm. The third set of lyrics: “Lord I will wrestle with your heart, but I won’t let you go.” (Rend Collective) I have been through such a lot with God that I know I ain’t letting Him go, not now, not after everything. So whatever lies ahead… whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, I’m not letting Him go.

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Small wins.

After a weekend of an avalanche of grief, when in the valley of the shadow you have to take the “small” wins. My wins today are I am up, showered, dogs have been walked and fed and I’ve made and eaten breakfast, all of which felt impossible at 8:30am this mornings. They are wins no matter how small they feel. There’s a church near me that will be open in a bit for quiet prayer so I shall go there if I have the strength to get ready after I have tided up after breakfast. Going away at the end of the week which I am really looking forward to…I just wish I didn’t have to get ready for it as that feels like a huge chore and effort for it. Just wish I everything could be ready and I could just leave, but before that I have work and a few meetings with various people, plus I need to get all the dogs stuff together as they are going to stay with my sister and then pack my own stuff. Tired just thinking about it. There is such a lot going on in my mind and my heart at the moment I am overwhelmed. It will probably all tumble out in this blog in the next week weeks or months no doubt, but this much I can tell you, it’s very heavy whack.

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Trying to keep going

Didn’t go work on Saturday. Just couldn’t. I had seen something in a shop the day before that had reminded me of John (still can’t bare to think of it to write what it was here…) and it knocked me for six, it literally took my breathe away, I was out with my sister at the time and because I didn’t want her to see how upset I was I just hid that I was crying but inside I felt like I was plummeting to a depth I’ve haven’t been to for a long time, so when Saturday came about 2 hours before I was about to go to work and when my sister had gone out I lost it, I was howling and sobbing and a total wreck, there was no way I could go and that made the whole thing worse as I wanted to. I managed to ring them in between sobs ashamed at the state I was in. Sometimes I feel I need people to know that even though I am quieter than I was (which is so evident) I am trying my hardest to grieve well and still function but it is not always an easy balance. At the moment it is such a bumpy ride, I’m back to not knowing how I’m gonna feel from one moment to the next, and it’s frustrating as I can’t plan anything again, cause I just don’t know. I have been soooo tired the last 2 weeks, that at every available opportunity I have jumped in my bed and slept. I went away at the start of the week with my sister to London as she really needed a break, it was good for her but it wasn’t like it used to be, as we are both grieving our sister so while we had a good time it was also strange and somewhat flat. But I’m glad I did it for Keeley, she needed it. When I came back however, I was exhausted which might not have helped me towards the end of the week and my emotional state. Today I have my 8 hour shift and I’m praying I’m going to be busy cause if not I fear a meltdown on the shop floor and I really don’t need that. Counselling tomorrow, haven’t been for 2 weeks as I was away in London, grateful for that, we have a lot to talk through once again. This feels like such a long road and recovery feels so slow. I know the sudden death of my sister has pushed me back but I’m still in denial about that so….

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Decisions, decisions… (or the importance of theology for me)

Since John passed away I haven’t really made many decisions. Partly this is a conscious decision (hmmm?) because my mind has been everywhere and I don’t want to make a rash or wrong decision. One decision I made fairly soon, in fact a matter of hours after John died, was that I would still carry on with my theology degree. This has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made…ever. To be honest studying theology has kept me in the game so to speak. Even though there have been times where theologically my mind has been so trashed due to the events that have happened in my life, somehow by studying theology I have managed to stay grounded and found strength to carry on. One major factor in this is the institute I study with. It is interdenominational, charismatic which means I get a breadth of teaching and also Word AND Spirit, not divorced from each other. While it is an academic setting, it is also a setting where the gifts of the Spirit are displayed and enabled. This for me is the linchpin of it all. I can learn in an academic setting and there is more than enough room for the Spirit of God to work. I cannot express how much I have needed that since John passed away and now my sister. The times of worship and prayer in the morning and evening before every day are opportunities to let God do his work in all that I have been learning and highlight things in me that He wants to. Yes there have been times when I have totally freaked out about what I believe and what I think about God but it has always been reconciled one way or another. Right now I am having a melt down that I maybe a raging Liberal but I know it will all work out over the next few lecturers, days and weeks as God shows me more of himself and more of who I am in Him. I really don’t have any of the answers I thought I did when I started 3 years ago and have even less answers now and it’s actually a really freeing thing. I don’t know many things and what I don’t know doesn’t bother me as much now, as I’m confident God will teach me what I need for what He has for me. I honestly love Westminster Theological Centre and am so grateful for it being in my life. God had used it in such immense ways especially since John died. The staff and teaching faculty have been amazing and I have seen God’s care and concern shown through them. I know I have another 3 years left but I never want it to end.

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The (kind of, ish) lighter side of grief

My mum told me that when I was really stressed I would sleep talk and sing adverts in my sleep, particularly around the time of my exams and John told me I slept talk when I really stressed and he would have full conversations with me and I would have no memory of them in the morning, so I’m aware that when I’m stressed I do strange things in my sleep, well I’ve evolved… woke up this morning with my phone in my hand and an email typed out to an email address of “Marie” no @ or anything else and then 2 sentences of gobbledygook. Just random words. Was so confused when I woke up. I also switched off my iPad, random .com

Part of me was worried what I else I may have done, have I sent text messages? It’s amused me a little today which was a tough feat. Work was horrible, I’m finding it so hard to concentrate, it’s such a battle and it’s exhausting. It’s 11:50pm and I don’t really feel like I want to sleep but I know I’m shattered. Hoping I leave my phone alone tonight.

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I’ve been trying to find my blog post where I talk about my uni residential in January but I can’t find it… maybe I dreamt that I wrote which is a high possibility. At my January residential 2 lecturers independently of one another spoke about the importance of silence and quiet days. One of the lecturers did an exercise with us (…I’m sure I’ve written about this…) where we asked the Holy Spirit to give us all one word that we can hang on to. So we prayed and everyone received a word. As they were going round the room, words like “Child” and “Love” and “Sword” were being revealed… what was mine? “Silence” and at that current time on January if there was one thing I didn’t have, and desperately avoided it was silence. I would do anything for the house not to be silent, the moment I woke up I put on a podcast or a teaching, anything to fill the silence, so you can imagine how I pleased I was to receive that word, but I was good and when I got home from resi I didn’t switch on a podcast straight away and I did have moments of quiet… fast forward to Feb and March where I have such awful jaw tension I can literally do nothing. All I could do was sit on the couch with my eyes closed, the moment I thought about anything other than Jesus it would flare up, I couldn’t watch tv, or listen to anything, I was in a forced silence, but it worked. The past few weeks have been so horrible and I have felt so mentally fragile, I knew I needed to do something and was looking at a pilgrimage but I just don’t have the time, I really really want to do one though. So as I mentioned in my last post I booked myself in to a quiet day at a retreat centre one of my friends I used to work with years ago works at. The chapel there is called The Chapel of the Holy Spirit. When you go to somewhere with a name like that you pretty much know there’s a high possibility it’s gonna be good. And it was. I didn’t get any amazing revelations or words from God but it definitely calmed my mind and my spirit. I feel clearer now and not as fuzzy. I feel like the inner dialogue has chilled out a bit as it was deafening. Now I understand why people recommend quiet days and retreats and why it’s important. Go on one. It’s so worth it. Therapy tomorrow, pray for my therapist, she may need it as there’s still an awful lot that I need to go through regardless of the calmness I now feel… but that’s life right?

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