Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas is here...


Hello All,

As the Christmas season is in full swing, my family and I are dealing with a variety of emotions as we approach our first Christmas without Curtis. It is still hard to believe that it has been almost a year now since he passed away.

I remember last Christmas there was such a somber atmosphere when we did our family portrait for our Christmas cards.  It was as though he knew it would be his last.  Still, he pushed on and continued to make plans to go to Florida the first week of January. Curtis wanted to make this trip special for the kids and with the help of so many, he did.  Waking up on Christmas morning, the kids opening gifts that Curt had helped me pick out.  This year shopping just hasn't been the same. Realizing when I write the names on the gift tags that the From:  will be me missing a name. But we must continue to live. We must find new traditions but yet always remember the ones that included Curtis.

I know that many people have lost loved ones this past year. I want to encourage you - yes, the holidays are very hard. All of the 'firsts' are very hard.  But through it all if you can keep calling on the name of Jesus and allowing Him to carry you, He will never let you down.  It has been by the grace of God that we have made it through. There are days that I would rather stay in the bed. But I have a wonderful friend who has told me time and time again that there is no guideline to grieving.  That I need to take my time and move at my pace and know that the good days will show up more often.  And they have. And they will for you too my friend. My heart goes out to you all who have lost someone. Holidays are hard, but reach out and let someone help ease your pain.

May your holiday season be filled with the tenderness of God's love which is how we have a reason to celebrate. 

Blessings
Renae

This picture was our last year's Christmas picture.  I will add one of this year on my next blog. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Alignment...

Hello all:
I realize that my writings have gotten less frequent over the past few months, and hoping that will change.  I think I will give you a general update today and then I will dive into some deeper areas later.  


It has been 9 months since Curtis has passed away, and while at times it feels like only a few days ago, there are other times when if feels like it has been years already.  Not in the sense that we are forgetting him or anything like that, it is just that the kids and I are becoming more settled. The pain of losing him is still there, but seems to have become an ache that is no longer the constant throbbing of our hearts.  


Going through new experiences, facing the upcoming holidays, and getting through surgery without him by my side has been and will be difficult.  God's healing power is sustaining and keeping me.   


Last week, I had to have extensive surgery on my ankle. It had been hurting for over a year, but with all that I was going through with Curtis last year, I didn't get it checked out. So finally in February of this year, I went to my foot and ankle doctor and he found a bone spur in the center of my ankle joint. We tried numerous treatments and over this summer, the pain gradually became worse and was hindering my daily activities.  So the dr did surgery and scraped and cleaned up the bone joint, as well as repairing a ligament and shifting my heel so that my foot would be in alignment.  I have pins in my ankle right now and am total non weight bearing for 9 weeks, then will be put in a walking cast. I am out of work of course, and non weight bearing means that I am spending all day in my recliner.  I have goals and projects that I want to work on during this time and I truly believe that God is going to speak to me and give me more healing in other areas while I am healing physically.   


The dr is bringing alignment and restructuring my ankle which will align my walk.... Hmmmm I truly believe that at this time in my life, God is restructuring me at this time and bringing alignment into my spiritual walk with Him. There are areas that I know that I need adjusting in. Areas of my heart that have gotten used to the past pains and pressures, so therefore it still reacts as though those pains are still present.  There are so many things that He is healing me in, so many different layers that need healing.  


Alignment is a good thing.  A bringing into order, a lining up, a state of agreement or cooperation.  The proper adjustment.  All these things are being done in my foot, but I can see God doing these things in my life.  Adjusting me and bringing things into order. The grief and pain that I have experienced have caused me to be out of line, and that has been a normal thing. It is normal for death to throw you off course for a time and a season. When you lose a loved one, it is quite normal to even find yourself on a different path.  But at some point in your healing, God begins to shift and to create a desire within you to be aligned with His purpose and plan for your life.  


So as I recuperate from this surgery and heal on the outside, I know that God is continually healing and bringing adjustment to me on the inside as well. 


Pray for me and the kids.  I will be posting about dealing with the holidays and how we are dealing with them soon. 


Thank you again for your support during this transition year. 


Renae

Monday, September 26, 2011

8 months and anger....

I can't believe that it has been about 6 weeks since I have blogged.  I guess things seemed to have settled into more of a lull till a couple of weeks ago. 


The funeral home that handled everything with Curtis' death has been sending me small books that have been a real blessing to me.  Well last month, they sent one and it was primarily dealing with anger.  I read it even though at the time, I really wasn't experiencing anger that I could tell.  Well.... God knew that I needed to read the book and be prepared. But I still wasn't prepared.  I began a few weeks ago to feel such an anger on the inside of me. Now, please hear my heart.  I wasn't cursing people out and having road rage or screaming and yelling.  It wasn't that kind of anger.  It was an internal seething.  An anger that really can't be explained. 


I have been told by several people that anger is a normal part of grieving, and I had even experienced anger at Curtis around 2 months after he passed away.  I am sharing this because I know that there may be someone reading this who may be feeling guilty over feeling anger after a tremendous loss.  


The anger has been coming out slowly but surely. Having friends that I am so safe with that I can express my feelings without feeling like they would be upset or offended at me has been a mainstay.  I have found my anger coming out in ways that are not good as well.  Things like really fussing at small things with my kids. The feeling of anger is an emotion and as we all know sometimes well, it gets emotional. My kids have asked me continuously over the past 2-3 weeks, "Mom, what is wrong with you?  You seem upset all the time"  Even my youngest asked me why I was mad all the time. Sigh... when your kids know something is up, then it is time to begin to seek answers and try to work through this.  


I have spent much time talking with a friend and with my counselor.  I know anger is normal and healthy in grief.  I have began to ask myself what am I angry about?  The more I think about it, the more I don't really think it is anger that Curtis passed away.  It is not that I am angry that I am now a single parent.  The anger is coming from the past.   I have shared things previously on my blog with you and you know that Curtis and I have had a rough past. We had a difficult marriage.  I am finding that the years and years that I held things in and buried them so deep in my heart that I thought they were gone for good.  Only to feel them starting to rise to the top.  I have thought about the scripture that talks about going through the furnace of affliction and going through the purifying process. That is where the fire is heated up hotter and the impurities begin to rise to the top so they can be skimmed off.  This is where I feel that I am at.  I am boiling, and it isn't necessary a bad thing.  The anger that has been dormant for so many years, is making it's way to the top.  In this rising to the top, I have to be in constant communication with the Father to make sure that I am not allowing the dross or the anger to consume me, but allowing it to surface in a healthy manner. 


The anger in feeling like I didn't have a voice, the anger in being controlled.  Feeling anger that I  thought was buried along with Curtis in the ground.  Sometimes the anger is easily pushed back down, but I have to realize the more that I push it back down, the longer it will take to rise to the top to be skimmed off.  


So I am writing this to you today, asking that you will continue to pray for us.  I know that if I am experiencing anger, that my children are probably as well. They don't talk about it... I am sure that Curt's family may be experiencing it and not understanding it.  It isn't a taboo subject.  Just because there is anger doesn't mean that I am a bad person.  It means that there is much healing that needs to take place. Deep inner healing that I so desperately long for. 


Yes, 8 months is coming up this week and while I know that I am doing well in so many areas, this is the area that I am now battling. I know that if I continue to allow it to rise to the top that the Father will begin to skim it off the surface and healing will come.  


Thank you for your prayers and support. 


Renae

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family Matters...

Hi all, 
It has been quite the journey, literally and emotionally recently. Again, we have set out on our travels, this time heading north to visit Curtis' family.  We flew out to Boston where we went on to Curtis' brother's house and stayed there with him and his family for 3 days. It was such a wonderful blessing for my kids to meet their cousins and to form lifetime bonds.  We had such a wonderful time.  I truly felt that bridges were built that will last forever. 


I have discovered that even if you don't know your extended family very well, that family is so very important.  If there is something that I know Curtis would want me to tell everyone, is this.  Family is very important and vital, and if you have wedges in your family, don't wait until it is too late to make things right.  On the day that Curtis passed away, his older brother and sister came to visit him.  They made such an impact that they would travel all that way to see him. They had no idea as none of us did that the day they visited, would be Curt's last day.  I can remember all that week, Curt was so pleased that he would get to see them.  So thankful that God worked everything out and the timing was precise.  


Spending this weekend with his family was bittersweet.  It was so cool to be together and to laugh and even enjoying a game of whiffle ball with everyone.  It was awesome that most of his family came together on Sunday and that we could all just enjoy each other. Of course, seeing his brother and family brought some sadness, because I knew how much Curt would have enjoyed being there and seeing the kids all get to know each other.  Missing his booming laugh and his sense of humor...I think all of us were thinking the same thing.  


But spending this weekend with Curt's family has made me realize that no matter what we are still family and families who can work through differences will come out stronger.  I hope that if you have family that you are not on good terms with, that you will begin to see the family ties for the strengths and not the weaknesses. To see how important that family really is and that yes, family matters much. 


God bless
Renae

Monday, August 1, 2011

6 months later...

Hello all,
6 months is a long time to not see the one you love. Half a year, 182.5 days...4,380 hours...262,800 minutes.  6 months... I wondered during the first month how I would be handling things at 6 months.  


Actually, I am surprised.  I have traveled more in the past 6 months than I have in the past 5 years.  I have been to West Virginia, Alabama, NC coast, Tennessee, soon Virginia and up North to see his family. Looking back on things, I wonder how have I done this? How have I found the courage to travel by myself and some with my kids?   I can tell you how, it has only been by the grace of God.  Yes, I have had plenty of days as you have read in my previous posts, that I have fallen apart over and over and wondered if the pieces would ever be put back together.  Times when my heart has felt like it could become no more shredded and torn.  


The desire to travel has surprised me. Want to know another thing that has surprised me?  The hunger within me to touch others and to see them walk in freedom and victory over the chains of bondage that hold them hostage. The desire for ministry has not decreased as I was concerned it might, but instead it has grown larger than I can contain.   I have wondered how can God's love in me grow so much when I have a hole in my heart that came from Curtis' death.  I have a greater compassion for the hurting. Maybe it is because I saw my husband hurt so deeply. I saw him come from years of denial and secretly trying to overcome to being a man who had allowed the shackles to be broken off bringing a liberty that could not be denied.  


I pray that my desire for freedom will never be quenched.  That I will never feel like I have obtained all the freedom that I need. For our lives are filled with layers and layers that will always need the healing touch of the Saviour.  I believe that Curtis had began to experience the freedom that comes with the layers of pain and bitterness being peeled back.  I want to keep experiencing that myself. To have yet another layer peeled and the oil of the Lord poured onto the scars so they will not become hardened and calloused. 


During the past 6 months I have grieved, yet I have laughed.. I have cried yet, I have experienced joy.  I have plunged to the depths of a despair that has scared me so badly, but God's love has reached down and brought me into a new path of restoration.   Grief is a peculiar thing.  Like I have said before, there is no right or wrong way to grief.  For those of you who have lost something very precious in your life, take time to grieve, whether it was yesterday or 25 years ago. Bare your heart to God, to friends who will hold you and give you a safe place to express your pain and sorrow.  Burying the pain will only make it harder to release it later.  Yes, it hurts so deeply to express the grief, but in doing so, you will soon find out that the huge ball of relentless emotions begins to subside and you begin to live again.  


So yeah, 6 months is a long time to be without the one you love, but when you count the minutes that God has carried you, it makes the next 6 months seem more tolerable.  


Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. 


Renae

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

death of our dog....

The death of our dog….

This past Sunday morning shortly after midnight, my son came upstairs to tell me that Hooch, our Great Dane mix, was not acting right.  I came downstairs to find our big baby panting and heaving trying to breathe. His tongue had turned gray and he seemed really in distress. We called the vet and were given a couple of things that it could be and decided that we needed to take him on to the vet, so I called Faith and she came over and we loaded him in her car. I told the other kids before we left that Hooch seemed very sick and if there wasn’t anything that the vet could do, that we would have to put him to sleep.  This broke Alex’s heart, well all of them, but he seemed most affected.

He threw his arms around Hooch’s neck and just hugged him and sobbed. Faith and I took him on to the emergency vet to be evaluated.  The vet listened closely to his heart and lungs and advised us that there was fluid built up in his lungs and that he was in congestive heart failure. It was more than likely due to his age, as he was 8 ½ which is old for a Dane. With the diagnosis, and knowing there wasn’t anything he could do, he recommended putting Hooch to sleep. So I called the other kids and let them know, and again, Alex was just sobbing which so broke my heart and Faith and I began to sob as well.  Faith went out of the room and they gave Hooch one shot to relax him, then the medicine to stop his heart.  He went peacefully. 

The after effects….

You may wonder why I am sharing all of this about our dog’s death, let me explain. First of all, Hooch was Curtis’ “big dog”. He had Hooch, and he had Mitzie his “little dog” who is a lap dog.  Curtis loved his dogs (we still have Mitzie) and Hooch was the biggest baby when he was with Curtis.  So it is natural that Hooch’s death was hard.

But even more than that, it is the triggers that overwhelmed me as I had to deal with this situation.  To see Hooch struggling to breath brought back the vivid picture of Curtis laboring to breathe in the emergency room on the night before he passed away.  Then the trip to the vet’s was on the same road that I and the kids rushed back to the hospital early in the morning when Curtis went into cardiac arrest.   The memories flooded my mind as I drove to the vet, and I could hear the anguish in my children’s voices as they cried when the doctor asked us permission to stop live saving measures for Curtis… I had to give permission for my husband to die basically and had to do the same with the dog.  I know it must sound really odd for me to be giving comparisons, but I want you to hear my heart to see the pain that all of these triggers caused. 

After the ordeal was over at the vet’s, I had to decide what to do with Hooch’s body.  Ughh…again memories of the hospital, being asked “where do you want your husband’s body taken?”  Faith and I decided what we would do and we went home.  Exhausted, I fell into bed with my youngest, Alex, coming to bed with me.

All of this to say today is Tuesday and I am still being affected to some degree. The triggers have lessened and the pain has dulled.  I never knew that so many things would so dramatically affect me after Curtis’ death.  I have learned as I have told you before that there is not a right or wrong way to grieve. Death is something that we deal with for quite some time and as I am finding out, grief can come in many ways. 

I and my children will continue to move forward, we will continue to work through this process.  Yes, we have had a “wrench thrown in the spoke” so to speak but we get back up and will move forward. We must. Each of the kids is moving forward at their own pace as I am.  Keep praying for us in this journey. It was NOT just the death of a dog, but the after effects.

Renae

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Healing is a process...

Hello everyone,


well, we have made it through Father's Day, Curtis' birthday, my birthday and the 4th of July.  So many firsts without him in the past 6 weeks, but God's grace has been sufficient and here we are.  


I want to thank all of you for your prayers and your support through all of this.  For all the texts, the phone calls, the emails.  Those of you who have insisted that I be real and allow the pain to be seen rather than it being pushed back down, to all of you I am grateful.  


During the past 10 days, I have felt more of a stability.  It has came in waves over the past 5 months, sometimes carrying me for a few days, sometimes just a few hours, but the stability is becoming more normal for me now.  Of course there are still times when the pain becomes overwhelming and threatens to wipe me out.  But over all, I feel the healing taking place. 


I still find his bible study notes in unexpected places, and when I do, I am reminded of the great hunger that he had to know God's word, and to not only know it, but to experience it in his life.  I can look through his bible and see the notes and the highlights, it brings peace to me.  Even though Curtis had many struggles and fought hard, I know that He loved God and his family. I know that the word that he had hid in his heart carried him through the impossible days.  


Healing is definitely a process.  I can choose to not walk that path right now and just give in to the pain, or I can choose healing.  I do choose healing and will continue to do so.  it is a choice though, we have to make the choice every day. There are days where I have not chosen wisely, but I have to know that I can begin choosing healing with the next breath.  For those of you who have experienced great loss in your life, I want to encourage you to choose life... choose healing...  Allow God's stability and establishing to be a priority in your life.  Grief - yes. It is healthy to grief.  It is healthy to allow the pain to be released in ways that are safe.  Grief is a raw emotion that has to be experienced.  But let me remind you my friend, that you do not have to be a slave to grief.  Choose wisely.  


thank you again, you have been awesome to continue to read my blogs and encourage me in my walk.  Keep praying for us. Pray for the kids.  


Renae

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Catalyst...

Hello,
I know Curtis' birthday is Wednesday and it is also the 5th month anniversary of his death.  I have been wanting to share something for about a week now.  I want to please tell you though, this is very painful for me to write, but not only that, but I take the chance of you thinking bad of me for sharing this deeply personal event in Curtis' life.  


I would not be sharing more of this had I not known that Curtis expressed to me before he passed away that he wanted his story told. You have  read on previous posts (My Hero- March) how I have described a little about the great change that Curtis experienced in his life. He went from being a verbally and emotionally abusive person who loved God but did not know how to see the change he so longed for, to being so sensitive and kind and truly changed.   


If there is a defining moment of change in Curtis' life, I have to say that the event that I am going to describe is probably the catalyst, the launching pad of the turn around that we experienced. 
I read somewhere before "these are the best of times, these are the worst of times"  I can truly relate.  So I will tell you about a day that was truly the worst of the worst, but how God caused it to work together for our good. 


One day in October of 2008, I had came home from work and we were getting ready to go out for dinner. I and one of my kids were there, along with Curtis.  I can't even remember to this day what Curtis got so angry about all of the sudden, but I found myself in the middle of one of the worst rages that I had experienced with him.  As the minutes ticked by, he became angrier and angrier.  His fury was mounting.  He was yelling at me and cursing, and he stormed through the hall and literally ripped the door of the hinges to our bedroom. I was in the dining area, and he came through the hall and threw the door down the stairs and I believe he went down and got it and threw it again.  Then he backed me up against the wall and I saw my life flash before my eyes. I had never been so afraid of Curtis as I was that day.  I really and truly thought that his rage was going to take complete control and that I was going to die.   In the middle of this, my teen that was home called the police out of fear and the officer came. By then, Curt had already began to calm down, and we assured the office that everything was fine, although he left very reluctantly. Somehow I went on to dinner (after realizing that the cycle had now began and there was little I could do to resolve the situation) 


Somehow over the next few days when the reality of what happened began to sink down into Curtis's mind, he became very broken and finally admitted that he needed help.  He crashed to the lowest low and had it not been for God, I am not sure that he would have came out of the swirling cesspool of condemnation and guilt and shame.   At his lowest, he begin to cry out for help.  A recommendation came for a Christian psychologist, and he began to see her, after being diagnosed with mood disorder and possible bi-polar condition, along with OCD,  Curtis begin to find answers to the things that had plagued him all of his life.  He began to for the first time be able to control his anger and rage.  He began going to a therapist who really made great strides with him as Curtis became open and honest about the rage and the bitterness that was inside of him.   Curtis began to see the faint gleam of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.  Curtis began to be accountable to his mentor and began to truly listen to the advice and the wisdom that his mentor shared with him.  


Life finally began to take new meaning with Curtis. Here he was, had been born again for 17 years and had such a heart after the Father, but never receiving the freedom he so longed for till now.  Over time, with medication and appointments, he started seeing changes that became evident to those closest around him. The changes that he encountered had an amazing effect on our kids.  Over the period of the next year and into the months that he was diagnosed with cancer, Curtis was truly a different person. He was so much softer around the edges.  The sarcastic outlook that he had melted away.  The judgmental and critical air that he carried was gently blown away.  The true heart came to the forefront.  I had seen this heart periodically during our marriage, but for it to be constant and so consistent was mind-boggling.  


I share this traumatic day with you in hopes that you will look past the anger and the rage, and realize that we all have areas that we need to overcome. If this blog does anything to you, I hope that it will impact you enough to know that change is inevitable if one is teachable.  Please do not hold this against Curtis. I don't.  I have forgiven long ago and that is the only way I can even share this time with you.  Do I deal with the pain of the memory?  Yes, at times, but as time goes along, Christ is taking the pain out and allowing me to the broken man behind the memory.  


Don't feel sorry for me. I hurt yes, I cried many, many tears. But I have decided that I will be Curtis's voice. I will tell his story, for if one person is healed because of his testimony, then I will be able to have the courage to keep telling it again and again.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the Lord is with me.  


A catalyst motivates and moves a person, and in Curtis' case, it was the driving force that pushed him right into the path of healing.  


Thank you
Renae



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day...

Another painful first today, and I think that I will convey this best by just writing Curtis a letter. 


My dear Curtis,
Today I face the first Father's Day without you.  My heart is crushed and feels like once again it has been shattered into a million pieces, although I am not sure how many more times it can feel this way.  If I am feeling this way, I cannot imagine what our children are feeling and experiencing.  Today I mourn and grieve for my children's father.  For the man who would love them with such a huge love.  For the man who would spend hours praying over them. Baby, our kids are so amazing. You have imparted in them a love and a hunger for God.  The last few years of your life, you allowed God to change and mold you in such a way that it will forever be tattooed on our children's heart, that they have seen with their own eyes how a man can lay aside the things that holds him in bondage and become free.  That my dear husband is a treasure that they will never forget and I will never forget.  


Curtis, yes there is a hole in our hearts. Our children miss you so much, they try to be strong, but only if they could realize that it is in the tears and the letting go that they will be able to move forward but yet keep the legacy you have given them.  Today is going to be hard for them, but with God's strength we will make it through.  Thank you for giving me these treasures from heaven.  Well, I know there is so much more that I want to say, but the words are having trouble getting from my heart to my hands.  


I love you very much Curtis.  Thank you for being a godly dad and for leaving a legacy. I miss you and our children miss you so very much. 
Happy Father's Day


love 
Me

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My grief letter to all of my friends....

Hello all,
In my grief share support group last week (my first class) I was given a work book, and since I missed the first two classes, I went back to see what was covered and they suggested that I write out a letter to all of my friends to help you to know where I am and what you can do that will help ease the stress of the grief that I and my family are experiencing.  So Here is my letter to you. 




Dear dear friends,
Most of you know that on January 29, 2011, I lost the love of my life to melanoma cancer.  We are now approaching the 5th month anniversary, which also will fall on his birthday.  The loss that I and my children have experienced has been devastating.  We have cried so many tears, yet knowing there are many more to fall. This is something that we won't be "over" for a long time. This is something that my extended family, including Curtis' siblings and mother and other family members won't be "over" for a long time.  


I want to say how much I appreciate each and every one of you. All those who have texted, who have called, who have sent a card... Everyone of you have been a part of this new journey that we are walking.  I want all of you to know that there are still days that I have all I can do to get out of bed, but I also have days where I am happy, days that I make it through with a smile on my face.  I am finding out that it is ok to experience a wide range of emotions all at one time, and that I am not crazy for feeling these intense feelings.  I need you more than ever, you might think well it has been almost 5 months, I should be doing much better, but grief is such an individual experience that there is no right or wrong way of experiencing it. There is no timeline. 


You may see me experiencing some of these wide range of emotions.  You may see my children experiencing them as well. We may experience anger for no apparent reason.  I may repeat the same thing to you as the last time that we talked.  More than anything right now, we need your love and your patience as we work through this.  


This weekend is going to be specially hard with Father's Day, and then also on the 29th, like I said, that is not only the 5th month anniversary but also Curtis' 44th birthday.  You may wonder what you can do for us during this time, the most important thing is that you don't stop calling, don't stop checking on us. Even when I reply "everything is ok" - keep asking.  Don't stop hugging me and the kids.  Especially my kids.  I have experienced much support so far, but maybe you don't know how to give my kids support.  This weekend with Father's day, send them a message, give them a call. Let them know that you are praying for them.  And please do pray for them... I am experiencing a  whole new layer of grief this week, and that is for my kid's father... I am grieving over their loss of their dad.  I grieved the loss of my husband on my anniversary, but now grieving the loss of my kids dad.  Don't be afraid to reach out to my kids this weekend.  Don't be afraid to let them see you cry, don't be afraid to share your favorite memory of their dad. Yes, it will be hard- for you and for them- but what my kids and I need to know most of all is that you have not forgotten my husband- their dad: Curtis Forbes.  


When you are missing him, it is ok to let me know that.  When you are remembering good times or bad times, I want you to share with me.  Please do not ever forget the man he was and the man that he became. 


I and the kids may appear on the outside that we have it together and are doing well, but our hearts still break every day in some way.  Even when my kids try to be tough, they are crying on the inside.  You don't have to have the right words to say, just you being near by is so important to us.  Your prayers are so appreciated.  God will continue to carry us through I am certain, but we still need you. 


Thank you for everything.  Don't stop praying for us friends. This has been difficult to say the least but your prayers and support are helping us in so many ways.  


From my heart,
Renae

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Teetering on the edge of the Pit....

I am so thankful that I am wanting to write again, and that my words don't seem to be piling up behind the dam of pent up emotions that was threatening to crack with pressure. Over the past few weeks, I have found myself teetering dangerously on the edge of a pit. A pit of depression and despair that would have loved to pulled me in head first and engulf me.  I had began to instead of facing the pain- to shove it back down in my heart to deal with later.  I noticed that the tears were coming much less frequently. I was becoming increasingly irritated at the kids, and just longed to be able to sleep the day away and not talk to anyone.


These feelings begin to scare me, and I was reminded of my commitment that I refused to be enslaved to grief.  I would allow grief to wash over me, but I had determined that I did not want to become a servant to it.  But without realizing it, depression was calling my name.  Now in no way do I want any of you to think if you are in the pit of depression, that I am against you, oh my dear friend, please don't think that. I want to help you get out of the pit if that is where you are at.   We all fall into pits at times, but it is in the staying in the pit where we become stale and despondent.


Anyway, I felt like a new kind of normal would never come. Ups and downs, feeling like I had danced a ball room dance of one step forward- two back, two to the side...But I want to tell you friends, that like David said in Psalm 40:2, that God has pulled me out of a horrible pit, He has pulled me out of the sticky clay and set my feet upon a rock.  Over the past week, I have been able to express my sorrow again and allow myself to cry and sob and release some of the pressure in my soul. Several things that have made a difference is one, reaching out to friends who were a safe haven for me.  I didn't need pity, but I needed compassion. And that is what I received. Sometimes I don't turn to my family, even though I know that they are there for me. I don't want to cause them more pain. I need to get past that, and know it is ok to be real even with my family and especially my kids.  Heaven knows I don't want my kids to think because they don't see me cry that they should stuff their feelings back down as well.  So I am working on that, I promise.


The support system that God has placed around me has been amazing.  The friends who listen, who most of all pray for me.  I have found out people this week that have been praying for me fervently and oh, that makes me feel so wrapped in the Father's love.  My family who doles out hugs whenever they are with me.  All these things are helping me pave my road to a new kind of normal.  To those who do not have a support system and are trying to navigate the journey of grief- I would encourage you to take a step forward to get help.  I took another step this week, in addition to seeing a counselor, in addition to my friends and family- I joined a support group called " Grief Share"  (www.griefshare.org) I went Friday night from 7pm till 9 pm.  Was it uncomfortable? YES! was is scary?  YES! But I met other people who are also traveling down this road that they did not ask to be on.  I begin to hear a little of their story and hope that I will be able to contribute at some point in their walk of healing.   For any of you who have lost someone near and dear to your heart, please reach out and grab ahold of someone that can help you.  A close friend told me this past week, that she is not grabbing me by my fingertips, but grabbing me by my arms and refuses to let go.  I pray that you find that person or group that will help you.


So this time, I avoided the pit of depression and despair.  I am not saying I will never fall into a pit again, because I am sure I will. But I will cry to the Lord and He will hear me and will lift me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet on the rock- CHRIST JESUS.


From my heart
Renae

Monday, June 6, 2011

birthdays and such...i

I wanted to write a short blog to just try to make some sense out of some of the feelings that I have experienced over the weekend. This weekend was full of extreme highs and extreme lows.  I wanted to share with you, because I know that many reading this have experienced grief and maybe you feel guilty or ashamed for feeling some of the ways that I have felt, but I want to let you know that I am finding out that it is ok to feel these things.

My extreme highs for the weekend, was that close friend that I have known for 8 years came to visit me and was here to help me during the weekend. Also another close friend that has recently moved to NC was a big help too.  Another high was that my family and Curtis's family came to the boys' birthday party and it was so good to see everyone. I love my family and his family so much and it is always a blessing to get everyone together.  Another positive thing is that my friends and I went to the botanical gardens near my home and being out in God's beautiful creation was good.

The lows were mainly trying to plan the boys birthday party and get it carried out. Knowing my boys were missing their dad so much, and knowing that this was their first birthday without him was very hard.  I was frazzled all day, I was moody, I was forgetful.  I forgot to invite some of Alex' friends that I never forget to invite.  I forgot the hotdogs.... sigh... I was a mess.  I think that it must have been so evident because everyone at the party was so helpful, without all my friends and family, the party may have been a flop.  Right at the end of the party, a huge thunderstorm crashed on us.  Usually I do ok with storms, but that one almost did me in. Finally got home and my front yard was flooding from all the run off water from the streets.  But I took some deep breaths and asked God for help, and the rain soon stopped.

Another low was that I was mad at Curtis.. I was mad because 2 weeks before we went to Florida before Curtis passed away, I felt like I was supposed to buy birthday cards for the kids for the year and help Curtis fill them out.  I brought them to Florida, and when I suggested to him that it would be good if he could sign them and write something on them.  He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said " you think I am going to die don't you?"  It broke my heart and I tried to explain that I was believing for a miracle, and if he signed the cards then it would be more of a testimony, and on the other hand if he didn't make it then the kids would have something from him. Needless to say, he never filled the cards out, so I was mad that I didn't have cards for the boys from their dad.  I had to ask God to forgive me for being mad at Curtis.

I am learning that grief is by no means just crying. It is feeling the searing pain that comes from the huge hole in my heart when I hear a song that reminds me of him.  It is feeling the anger and experiencing it in a positive way. Grief is crying and laughing at the memories - good and bad.  Grief is letting the hurt wash over your heart but not drowning it. I really had never thought about what grief was or was not before, but now, I am facing grief head on.  But I am moving forward in my grief. I can see positive steps forward, even when it is one step forward and two steps back.  Progressive. Sometimes the pace is as I said before, snails could pass me up. But the important thing that I am finding is that I have to keep moving. Staying stationary for too long begins to make me feel like I am walking through sludge, mentally and physically. If I don't move forward, then the pain over takes me and threatens to pull me into the raging waves.  Grief is not meant to be a stopping place where we camp out and stay for years.  It is a process that we work through with God's help and with the help of our friends and support system that is a much needed process but one that has to be moving.

Yeah, I get stuck in the rut so many times. Birthdays, holidays, special times have a tendency to make me feel like I want to just sit down and camp out for a while. But I cannot do that. I cannot become a slave to grief.  Walking through the process yes, but not enslaved to it.

So highs and lows... part of everyone's life.   Birthdays come and go, but they will never be the same without Curtis. If you have lost someone those special times will not be the same, but I have to trust God that He will help me to create new memories and that we will be ok.

Blessings
Renae

Thursday, June 2, 2011

it's been a long few weeks...

Well, it has been several weeks since I have posted a blog, actually since May 17.  Seems like months ago.  Sometimes it feels like time is rushing past me but I am stuck in this one spot and haven't seemed to made alot of progress.  But I know according to my counselor and close friends, that I am moving forward, even when it seems like the snails are zooming past me ☺


I haven't been to the grave since Easter. I need to go put a new flower arrangement on the grave site, and really need to order Curt's grave stone. I just haven't been motivated.  I haven't written here on my blog for the same reason. Just not motivated. I am talking to my counselor every week, talking about the things that make think, make me grasp the enormity of how much my life has changed, yet how much of it is still the same.  I know that you must think that I am really being random in this blog, I am sorry.  that is really how my brain has been going lately.  But back to not being motivated. It seems like the past 2 weeks, I have just been plowing through my days, get up, go to work, come home, stay up late and then do it again.  There have been some really bright spots though. 


For instance, we went to the beach! Yea! Curtis and I had talked about going to the beach for the boys' birthdays since last year, so I decided I would invest in renting a condo and we went this past weekend.  Loved watching the kids play in the waves, riding boogie boards, playing in the sand.  I enjoyed collecting sea shells.  Walking the beach, letting the water lap up over my feet, I thought quite a bit. I thought about the waves, and how some of them were just little waves, and I would just be able to walk right on up the shore, but then when I wasn't expecting it, and wasn't watching the ocean, there would be a bigger wave come in and really splash me and take me by surprise, throwing me off balance.  And that is how my life has been.. small waves that I could handle, but there have been bigger waves that have nearly tossed me to the ground.  Through all the waves I have encountered though, God has been right there to reach out and pick me back up. He hasn't left me laying in the sand for the waves to drown me.  


Back to the beach.  I really had a good time, but it was very bittersweet. I kept thinking that Curtis should be here walking with me, looking at the souvenirs- wanting to spend money on the kids.   I sat in the dark on Sunday night in the sand, listening to the waves coming in, and was thinking so much about how much I missed my husband and how much he would have enjoyed the trip.  So yes, it was bittersweet.  But I guess there are going to be alot of bittersweet moments over the next few years.   


The boys had their first birthday without their dad.  I haven't been able to tell whether it has affected them. Father's Day is coming up in a few weeks and I am not looking forward to it.  My kids loved their dad so much, through the good - the bad- and the ugly, they still loved him and always did something for him at Father's day. This year, we will most likely be in Alabama with our spiritual father.  I am praying that God will touch each of my kids that day and will just soak them in His love.  Then we have Curtis' birthday on June 29.  I plan to have balloons for the kids to write a message on and then we will release them.  we will have cake and ice cream in his honor and celebrate all the years that we were privileged to have him in our lives.  



Guess that I am sound depressed and down.. I really don't think I am depressed. I am just still trying to cope and trying to learn how to be a single parent.  Trying to understand what widowhood is all about.  Trying to get my feelings out of my head and into words.  Trying to let the tears fall when they want instead of turning them off.  For those of you who read this who have recently lost someone, you know what I am talking about.  It is a daily adjustment, something different every day that brings back a flood of memories. sometimes good, sometimes not good.  Yes, and even dealing with the what if's, the could have's and should have's.  But living in the regrets will not move me forward, it will only cause my feet to be in quicksand.  So I choose to keep my feet on the rock, on my Christ Jesus, and move upwards and onwards.  It is not easy by no means.  I need to take care of me, to allow myself those quiet moments and to allow myself to sob when I hear a love song that reminds me of Curtis.  I need to feel those things, to feel the pain and then allow Christ to pour out his healing oil over my bleeding heart.  


yes the days seem long but time keeps marching onward.  I will step back in line with the beat of the drums and will walk forward into my healing, even if it is a baby step at a time. 


Thank you
Renae





Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 18,1990

On May 18, 1990, I gave my heart to my dear husband Curtis James Forbes in holy matrimony.  We were young and so in love. The world was ours to grab hold of and the moon was within reaching distance we thought.  We declared to the world that we would be faithful and that we would stand by each other's side for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.   


When I think of those words now, I can truly say that we stood by each other through some very hard times in our lives. Through financial difficulties, through the miscarriage of a child, through addictions and mental anguishes.  We encountered God in ways that we would have never imagined. So many times God came through for us and carried us through the storms of life. Early in our marriage, we found right away that being married was not always a walk in the park. We argued and fussed, kissed and made up.  We had extremely fun times and extremely horrible times.  Such makes a good marriage, for if it had all been extremes on the good side, we would have never known how to handle conflict and how to move forward. Even if it did take us 18 years into our marriage, we finally came to the point in the past two years where we could talk things out and where we could express our feelings without me retreating and without him being angry. 


The highs and lows truly do make a marriage stronger, if your hope and trust is in the Father. So many times during our marriage we thought about giving up, but thank God that we never did. God blessed us with 4 wonderful children and blessed us with different miracles and testimonies throughout the almost 21 years that we had together.  


In sickness and in health, to death do us part.... you don't really think about those words when you are saying them, you think that you are going to live to be old together, you think about grandkids and retirement.  When you are repeating these words after the minister, you want to think about the positive of each statement. But like it or not, we are all faced with the negative side of these vows as well.  I would have never dreamed that after 20 years of marriage, that I would see my husband's life be taken by the horrible "C" word. I never dreamed that we would not celebrate our 21st anniversary.  Did we take each other for granted? Yes, I know we did at times. We thought we would be together forever and there were plenty of things we could have done different. But I can't live my life now without him, thinking of all the would haves and could haves.  I am thankful for the 20 years, 8 months, and 11 days that we were married. Thankful that through the trials and the troubles that we faced, that we found peace at last. I am so thankful for the man that Curt had become. For the father that he became, for the friend that he became. I am a blessed woman because I loved Curtis unconditionally and experienced his love for me.  I experienced a love that at times seemed confusing but was always a true love coming from Curtis's heart.  I know that he loved me and for that I am grateful. To be loved is every person's dream. So yes, in sickness and till death did us part, we loved. 


The emotional side of this is well, very emotional. For almost a week now, I have experienced a plethora of emotions, from numbness to anger. From grief to joy.  I have cried, I have laughed.  Tonight as I write this, it is hard to explain how I feel. I feel irritated, I feel as though I could cry at any second, and all that is ok. I have found it is ok for me to feel this wide range of emotions, even daily at times.  I still stand firm though that I will not become a slave to grief, and I continue to seek the Father's heart in all these things.  So I will grieve on my anniversary day, for the day that we should have been celebrating, going out to eat dinner and buying each other gifts.  But I will rejoice in knowing that one day I will see Curtis again in heaven and I will be comforted to know that he is healed and whole and will never ever again be plagued by sickness and disease, nor will he ever again deal with anger and a wounded, scarred heart.  I will look to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, and know that He will carry me through this day and that I will continue to run after my Abba God's heart. 


Happy anniversary my dear husband. Celebrate our love with the Father who first loved us and who decided to place us together 21 years ago and who has blessed us with 4 beautiful children. I love you my dear husband. Forever


Renae







Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Practicing Peace...

Practicing Peace


Writing really hasn’t been easy lately, seems like the words have just been jumbled up in my brain and I feel like I am repeating myself.  If my life was busy before Curtis passed away, then now I feel like I in overdrive. How did I do it before? Balancing doctor appointments and treatment schedules, as well as the kids’ schedules? How did I manage?  I know it was by God’s grace for sure.

Right now, I am busy trying to get things done in my house, I get so distracted when I am organizing and cleaning.  I have been told this is normal during grief. I am bothered by the clutter and trying to cut myself some slack.  I have not yet even started on going through Curt’s things and sort or throw away. I kinda get this sick feeling in my stomach sometimes when I think about doing that.  Of course, I have the kids to think about as well, I don’t want to do anything before they are ready too. I have allowed them to be involved with all the decisions concerning their dad’s passing.

It almost feels like I am numb again, the pain is subsiding to a dull throb in my heart and the overwhelming, almost panic mode, is becoming less frequent.  Sometimes I think it is harder to deal with the dull throb because it can be pushed back down easier than the in-your-face pain, and the more you push it back down in your heart the more you have to deal with later. This past week when I was going through one of my drawers, I found some love letters from Curtis, all the way back from 1992. Faith was just a baby and it was so bittersweet to read my husband’s words of love and hope for us as a family. I didn’t allow myself to dwell too long on reading them, just scanned through them. I will put them up for a while, and bring them out when I can savor the words, and recapture the moment when the letters were given to me, but finding the letters brought a sharp pain to my heart.  

With all the hustle and bustle of my life and all the opportunities that I am presented with to walk in turmoil and frustrations, I have to keep reminding myself that I must walk in peace.  When I don’t walk in peace, the turmoil and the stress increases. Little things like putting together a bed become a humongous task. When peace is not prevalent, the stresses of everyday life become a trigger that can send me a tailspin. I have to make the decision every day that I will walk in peace. No matter how large the grief is for that day, no matter what I am faced with. Do I walk in peace every day?  No, but the more I practice walking in peace, the more I walk in peace.

If you are struggling today with emotional pain or just plain old day to day living, I want to encourage you to seek peace. Peace is not a dream; peace can be lived in and walked out on a daily basis if your heart and mind is set on the Father.   I love the scripture- Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.”

Keeping my mind (my soul- which is my mind, my will and my emotions) fixed on Christ will cause me to walk in peace.  Blessings, Renae

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

words of wisdom...

Tonight I am sitting at Curt's desk, finally able to get to it again after recently moving things into the office while we were putting in carpet.  I am looking at all the little quotes and things that Curtis had written and had put them in such neat order on the backboard under his shelf.  I see appointment cards for doctor visits past and future, I see Curt's organization on how he placed the quotes on his board (lined up and the thumb tacks in perfect order)  As I begin reading over some of the things he wrote, again I am amazed at the wisdom that God poured through Curtis.  Yes, he had lots of issues in the past and he struggled with many things, but the wisdom that God would pour through him during his studies is astounding. 


Even in the midst of Curt's struggles with anger, rejection, bitterness and low self image, he still sought after God's heart for his life.  When he experienced a new understanding of God's word, he would write an article.  He worked diligently at applying the Word of God to his life.  Even though it took him quite some time to see deep changes, he never gave up on seeking God. 


There is a song that we played at his funeral, and it is called "the more I see Him" by Kari Jobe.  I chose this song because it so fit Curtis.   He often said, "You are only as close to God as you want to be."  And it is so true.  The amount of time that you seek the Father's will for your life is directly correlated with the amount of victory that you experience.   Sometimes the process is long and arduous, because the inner pain and turmoil is so deeply buried.  But if you will keep seeking the Father's will for your life, the more you will find His will.  I was so often encouraged when even with the addictions and the pain that Curtis experienced, he still sought God and refused to give up and go back on the Lord.  He refused to deny Christ and the power of God that works within.  I have to say this and it is the truth.  I have never met a man in my entire life that wanted God as much as Curtis did.  


You may ask how, then, if he wanted God so badly did he still struggle with the things that he fought.  And on the surface, it looks like maybe he didn't seek hard enough, but let me tell you my friends,  had Curtis not been seeking after the heart of the Father, so many things would be different for the worse in my family.  Had he not run to the Father when he would be tormented by lust and bitterness, he would have been a cheater and even more violent than he ever was.  Had he not chosen to fall with utter submission on his knees and cry out for God's mercy, he could have been a psychopathic maniac.  He told me so many times "had it not been for God's grace" and I truly believe that.  


I am sharing these things with you because in the midst of the mental torment, in the midst of the struggles that Curtis encountered, it was still possible for him to seek God and  to receive healing.  I know you have read about what I have described as the change in the past two years. I truly believe that all of his heart cries to the Father were not ignored and that the miracle of God's power changing a scarred wounded heart were a result of the seeking and searching.  The bible says to seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.  This is a continual seeking, a continual knocking.  Not a one time thing.  Had Curtis not kept seeking, kept knocking, he would have never experienced the true healing that took place in his life.  My life and the lives of my children would have been drastically altered for the bad.  


So if you are being tormented inside your mind, if you cannot seem to break free of the chains that are so tightly wrapped around your heart, let me remind you my friend. Freedom is available.  It is not an easy process. It doesn't take place overnight, but if you will keep seeking the Father's heart, you will find the Father's heart.   Take the words of wisdom that Curtis has spoken that I share with you and experience a new freedom that your heart longs for.  


Blessings and peace
Renae

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“When my world is breaking, I’ll never leave your hands…”



This is a line from one of my favorite songs called “Your hands” by J.J. Heller.  It talks about even though we sometimes we ask God a thousand ways to make our pain go away, we are still in His hands.  It is a beautiful song and so reminded me this morning that I am still in the Father’s hands.

Sometimes it seems like I only blog on the bad days, and I guess that is when the pain is the worst and this is truly an outlet for me to release some of the pain, but I promise that I will write more about the good times that we are experiencing as well.  In fact, let me go ahead and start this blog out with some highlights from the past few weeks.

The kids and I have been making some improvements around the house, and have had carpet put in several rooms, including the living room. They are thrilled with it and love the new look. We are going to add some of Caleb’s photography prints to the walls. He is going to pick out some of his best work.  This past week we also put up a canvas gazebo outside and hope to have lots of time just hanging out.  We had family over for Easter and watching even my older kids do an Easter egg hunt was just hilarious.   We have had times of laughing and fun, we have gone on a 5 mile bike ride and plan to do more.  Yes, we are healing- gradually and at different rates, but healing is with us I know.

So there are lots of positive things that we are experiencing. God is so good and his mercy is new every day. That is why I know that days like today, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will carry me through this day as well.

 Last night the weather people were calling for some major storms to come through with tornado warnings, and had already been much damage in the states west of us.  Last night I longed so much for my husband’s calm demeanor during storms. He never let a storm rattle him. He loved storms, and I would often find him out on the deck or outside watching the lightning. I know, not the safest place, but that was Curtis.  So last night I just wanted to hear his calm assurance that we would be ok and that he would be praying. Everything was ok, and I guess he was looking out for us in heaven, but so miss him.

Yesterday, I found out that I didn’t get an internal position that I had applied for at work, and I guess I was a little down about it, even though I didn’t mean to be. I had prayed and trusted God that if this wasn’t what He wanted me to do then the door would shut and it did.  I guess not being able to be comforted again by Curtis really hurt. So reading back through what I have written here, I am finding a common thread. That I am being triggered today by my lack of comfort from my husband’s arms.  My heart aches because I can’t feel him physically with me.  Tomorrow makes 3 months since he passed away, and while I can say definitely it is easier now; it is still hard at times if that makes sense.  I am sure that the days where I could cry at any given second will be here for a while, and I am glad for them. I will find a place today where I can be alone and have a good cry, for the tears help to release the pain that tumbles around in my heart trying to find a place to land.

So here is my heart- you see the good and the bad. You hear about the tears and the pain, but it I pray that you also see the hope that I have in our heavenly Father, for it is to Him that I give all the glory and praise for bringing me through these rainy days and the sunny days.  I am not afraid to get the umbrella out. I know that He is with me, and I carry Curtis in my heart every moment of the day. And I will never leave God’s hands.

Renae


Friday, April 22, 2011

My Focus...

This past week, I have been struggling with some things, and thought I would just be transparent with you. I know if I am struggling, that there are others who may be as well.  I am still adjusting to Curtis not being here, and I am sure that the adjustment period will take quite some time. I still find myself wanting to call him to let him know when I will be home, still miss him immensely.  There are days when I still do not want to get out of bed.  


I posted this on facebook the other day, when your focus is inward, your vision becomes blurry.  I find that when I begin to focus only on the grief and how much I miss Curtis, then my focus on Christ becomes blurry. I begin to feel like I am far from Him.  I know that some of you will tell me that it hasn't been even 3 months yet, and that I can expect to be inward focused because all of this is still so raw and painful. And I suppose that there is validity to that.  I know that I can't expect to be healed totally in such a short period of time, but I think what I am trying to get at is this.  I have a choice to make every day.  I can choose to withdraw into my hiding place of my heart where the bleeding and the pain is constant.  I make a choice every day how much time I am going to spend in the rooms of my heart that sees the agony of Curt's last day with us.  I make that choice. I know that the pain I feel may drive me to making that choice more than I want to on some days.  But when I choose to stay in the darkness, in the shadows of  the heaviness and smothering blanket of grief for extended periods of time, then my focus on Christ- my DELIVERER- becomes blurry.


So many times, Jesus would pray for eyes to be opened in the Gospels.  I know that many times this was physically, but also it was spiritually as well. When we are blinded, or our vision is blurry, we don't see things the right way.  I know this sounds like, duh yeah, but really think about this.  Whether it be grief from losing one that you loved so much, or heartache from a failed relationship, financial difficulties,or addictions- when we put all our focus on the problem, then we don't focus on the answer- Jesus. 


So, my struggle is this: I have found in the past week that I have felt more of a depression that is trying to settle in, a spirit of heaviness that threatens to weigh me down like a winter coat on a hot summer day.  Yeah, some depression is normal with grief. I am not denying that. But again, I have to keep reminding myself that I will not become a slave to grief.  If I become a slave, chained to the loss, then my vision will be blurred and I will not see clearly what God's will is for my life.   If you find that you are struggling with situations that really have your focus totally on the problem, let me encourage you today to find someone that you can talk to, someone who will pray with you and who will stand by you. Make the choice to live and not die. Make the choice that you will have sharp vision, eagle eyes.  I am making the same decisions even now. I am sure that I will fail on days. But even if I fall, I can run back to God and into His arms. Will you do the same? 


Thank you for being with me on this journey. It is a process of growing and changing.  I pray that you are blessed and helped by something I write. 


Renae