"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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As the Day Approaches

I can see the milestone on the near horizon. One year. A whole year. Where I used to count up—one week, one month, six months—now I’ve been counting down. Saturday will be 365 days since Craig passed. One year since my world changed. A year of transition, revelation, deep sorrow, and occasional joy.

One year.

Others have been counting, too. Friends and acquaintances have reached out this past week with words of comfort and concern. “How are you doing with the big day coming up?” “Do you have anything planned that day?” Their questions are rooted in sincerity and deep compassion. Yet, I found myself texting a fellow widow to ask, “Is it normal to want to punch them in the throat?”

I am an ingrate. But, grief is not logical. My friend affirmed my mudpuddle of emotions and shared from her own journey. The end of her message summarized so perfectly my feelings as I watch the days and hours tick by.

“There’s no such thing as an easy answer to these types of questions. If I say I’m doing well, then I’m lying. But, there’s no way for me to succinctly explain to you something you just can’t understand if you haven’t experienced it,” she wrote.

Yes. That.

Truthfully, though, I am doing well. Last week was marked by two days of crippling grief and brain fog. But, yesterday was brilliant. I watched a friend’s son get baptized. A mid-day video shoot for a long-time client went exceptionally well. In the evening, nearly 20 people gathered at my home for food and fellowship, healing prayer and a time of teaching in God’s Word. The day was a series of successes and cause for celebration. I cried briefly as I said goodnight to my absent husband, but I went to bed grateful. I dare say, I felt content.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

HEBREWS 10:24-25 NIV

Life is a series of mile markers. Some bring great joy—graduations and weddings, new homes, new jobs, new birth. Others mark times of sadness and loss. The death of a parent. The death of a spouse. The death of a dream. But, the journey does not stop at the milestones. They are simply indicators of the profound events that we’ve experienced along the way, and point to the road ahead. They shape our perspective as we look back and look forward while helping us to find our place in the present.

And so, I face the road boldly, and encourage myself with the promises in God’s Word. He gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of despair. Yes, this is my temporary home. But, who knows what milestones lie beyond the next hill?

© 2019 Leslie J. Thompson. All rights reserved.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.


July 1, 2019   2 Comments

A Story Stroll

Today is ten months since Craig died. I have pondered this milestone for the past week—what it might feel like, and whether I should do anything special to celebrate him. I considered recording a video, and I might still, but I had neither the time nor the mental bandwidth this morning to gather my thoughts. So, I opted for a walk.

A walk would provide a time of quiet reflection–the perfect way to honor the occasion. I could walk to the park and follow the winding trail through the woods where Craig and I walked together last spring. I would enjoy the sights and sounds of nature and think about those last precious days with my husband as I retraced our steps.

Of course, God had other plans.

I arrived at the park to discover the sidewalk was closed. The earth had been torn up and a team of workers were installing large pipes underground. Signs pointed to an alternate route, and I veered toward the new course, realizing that I didn’t have much choice. How appropriate that I would encounter an unexpected detour on the day I was commemorating Craig’s death—the most unexpected detour of all.  

The new path took me past the playground, which was surprisingly empty, and around a cluster of trees before connecting back to the familiar trail. I noticed that the city had installed new signs every few feet along the path, inviting children and visitors to take a “Story Stroll.” Each station invited kids to notice interesting things in their surroundings, explore new places, and imagine the possibilities.

God whispered: This is a new story.

I walked through the woods, doing only the inner loop and not the full power walk that Craig and I took together. That path was meant to work up a sweat and shake loose the darkness that had taken hold of his mind. This walk was meant for reminiscing. I did not need to hurry. Nothing needed fixing.

In the center of the trees, I caught the delicious scent of honeysuckle. My eyes scanned the branches and brambles for the source, and I spotted the wild vines a few feet further down the trail. The memories came swiftly and made me smile. Honeysuckle grew along the driveway of the house where I grew up, and I smelled it every day when I came home from school. I was a latchkey kid, and learned at an early age to fend for myself. The sweet aroma was a gentle reminder: I know how to be alone.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 19:14

Making my way back toward the main road, I was happy to see a mother and her children had staked claim to the playground. I decided to leave the park through the main exit, rather than walk back to the path that Craig and I used to follow. God spoke to my heart again. You don’t have to retrace your steps. Both routes would lead me home.

Ten months in, I am learning to accept the unplanned, to walk boldly along the alternate route. God wants to take me someplace new, and there is beauty in the detour.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

May 6, 2019   3 Comments