It’s a dog’s life

It’s a dog’s life

The other morning started out just like any other. Ginger woke before my alarm and decided she would starve if she didn’t have breakfast, now. After much whining, nose-prodding, and a few licks, I finally gave in and groggily made my way to the kitchen to feed her and let her outside.

We both stumbled back to bed.

A few moments later, my alarm sounds and it’s time to start the day. As I drag myself out of bed, push my glasses into place and sleepily brush my teeth, Ginger remains in bed. I make myself some tea, make the bed and prepare for the day ahead. Ginger lays in bed.

Sleepy puppy.

Just about the time I’m getting dressed, Ginger decides it is time to rise. She stands, stretches, yawns and pads across the house to the living room where she resolutely lays down on her other bed.

I dress, then address my messy hair and apply a bit of makeup before stumbling into the kitchen to find something for breakfast.

About this time, Ginger realizes that she doesn’t want to be awake quite yet, so she moves from her living room bed back onto her bed in the bedroom, much quieter in there.

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As I pack my bag, locate my keys and try to wake up, I cajole, coax, and convince Ginger to come out of the bedroom (if I leave the bedroom accessible while I’m gone, she inevitably decides that our bed is more comfortable than hers). At this point, she flops down on her bed in the living room once more and sighs as I give her ears a scratch before I head out the door.

Some days, I want to switch places with my dog, I think I’d like her morning routine more than mine…

Ginger sleeping on the porch.

Trust

I began writing this a few weeks ago…but it was so raw and new at the time I couldn’t bring myself to dwell on it long enough to finish writing about it. It’s still difficult and hard to understand and even painful. Because I’ve never been in this place, and I never wanted to be in this place.

My whole life I have experienced an unwavering trust in God. Complete. Without fail. Not just in His sovereignty, but in His goodness. And today, I struggle with that.

When we were at the beach house in May, Ginger took a little adventure of her own. One moment we were making breakfast, the next we were frantically searching for her. We still aren’t sure how she managed to get out, or where exactly she went.

But we know that Husband and I very nearly panicked. Amid a flurry of running around calling out her name, searching desperately for any sign of her, and splitting up and driving in opposite directions around the community, I was praying fervently.

Most of my prayers were hardly more than “Lord, let us find her” and “Lord, keep her safe”.

Ginger at First Landing State Park.

Then, somewhere in my head a doubt, a question crept in. Would God keep her safe?

Trust has taken on new meaning since we lost Michael. Deeper meaning in some ways. Harder in others. Just different in so many ways.

I hardly had the wherewithal to examine where the doubt came from in the midst of my panic. Even now, with Ginger safe at home, it confuses me. It’s not that I don’t trust God anymore, I do. I fully and completely believe that He is Lord and He is righteous and holy and perfect. And nothing will change that.

But my naivete is lost. I no longer feel like I have that unwavering, unshakable trust that God will work it all out.

At moments, it becomes painfully obvious that I know that God doesn’t always “work it out.” God doesn’t always step in to our lives in the way we want. God doesn’t always keep us safe and free from pain.

Ginger escaped again last weekend. I followed her through fields of young corn and across acres of harvested wheat. We went about three miles; I was rarely more than 20 or 30 feet behind her. And I prayed–frustrated, fear-driven prayers.

I hope, over time, I will learn to restore my trust. I hope that it becomes as strong as my faith. It will never be the same–never like it was before we lost Michael–but perhaps it can be even better, stronger, truer. Perhaps trust in spite of loss is more real, more meaningful, more effective.

I was encouraged today when I read about another woman’s struggle with trust after loss. I’m not alone in this. And it’s not a failure of faith. It’s just part of the process of grief.

Weekending

Weekending

Weekending

We had a full weekend–full of productivity and rest, good and hard, family and solitary, beach and rain, a mish-mash of many things, doings, feelings.

I spent Saturday trying to get control of things around home…this time of year, when so much of life is lived outside–in the garden, at the barn–home falls a bit by the wayside. Jackets don’t get hung up; dog hair gets, well, everywhere; and there are always dishes to do. The bills need to get paid eventually, and the dog bathed, and the plants watered. Much to be done.

Husband often works on Saturdays, catering weddings mostly. So I squeeze every minute of solitary time to complete the tasks at hand. (I even managed to watch my brother graduate with his master’s degree via live webcast while I folded laundry!)

I carved out a bit of time to ride in the evening, but the weather had other plans. Before I knew that rain was coming it was thundering and lighting, big drops began falling, then driving from the sky. I made a run for it and got home before getting too wet. Life is like that sometimes–we make our plans but things change all of a sudden and we have to learn to change with it. And sometimes, when it takes a turn for the worse, we get a bit wet.

For three hours it poured and the wind tore through our little “valley” with a vengeance. Rain managed to come in every cracked window in our home, and I alternated my time between sipping a cup of tea, calming the nervous pup, and running around the house with towels to sop it up. Before long, our mudroom was a rushing river–water coming in the front door and heading straight out the back, probably three or four inches. The garage, too, flooded–water came up through the cracks in the concrete. Husband and I scurried around trying to salvage what we could in the garage–wooden furniture waiting to be redone, cardboard boxes waiting for the next move, etc. But sometimes, you just have to let things take their course. So we just sat down in the dry, cozy living room and let the worst of it pass.

Then loaded up the truck, nervous pup and all, and headed to the beach. At 10:00 at night. Husband’s family had rented the beach house. “Our” beach house, or so we like to call it. And we were meeting them for the final night and day of the little “vacation”.

It was fun to be back there, where we lived for the first 7 months of our marriage. To remark on the changes, the updates, the memories. We spent time with family, and watched the little kids squeal with delight over our pup.

Sandbridge Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

Sunday morning was cool, overcast and windy, but we managed a walk on the beach. And really, I think those cool windy days are my favorites, because the beach is deserted, it is ours to explore and love and experience. Come July, we’ll be sharing this beach with thousands of tourists. We don’t usually come in July.

They were dredging, bringing sand back up onto the beach that had washed out to sea over the course of the storms and hurricanes of the past year. The dredging meant there was a plethora of seashells to be examined and the perfect ones searched out. We found sand dollars too, six of them.

Shells on the beach.

Puppy playing in the waves.

Ginger loves the beach, and thoroughly enjoyed her walk. I forget sometimes how much we loved those daily walks on the beach when we lived here. I miss them.

A walk on the beach.

Puppy at the beach.

Back “home” we washed off our sandy feet and settled in to breakfast, celebrating a few birthdays and Mother’s Day all in one. Together. It’s a good feeling, to be doing life together–celebrating the milestones and mourning the losses. Together. Because, really, you never know what’s coming–some days are a walk on the beach, others a torrential downpour.

Linking up with Annapolis & Company

A seed of hope for Easter

A seed of hope for Easter

Spring flowers

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Easter, considering the recent tragic loss our family has endured. Thanksgiving and Christmas were hard–both because they came on the heels of our loss and because they are supposed to be such joyous occasions. But Easter…it was hard to anticipate.

It turns out that Easter was like a reflection of what our lives have been. A lot of sorrow, humility, heartache mixed with a seed of hope. And I pray that just like Easter, this journey will also come to a place of joy and victory.

The weekend also reflected these feelings…there were pockets of productivity, moments of rest with friends, and a few hours of hopeful togetherness. The weather began chilly, damp and drizzly, but with a break in the clouds and a burst of warmth on Easter afternoon.

We took full advantage of that moment of hope and took the pup out for a mini-adventure. A new park is pure bliss for Ginger. But amid her excitement, even she had to stop and smell the flowers. Because Spring is coming, full of hope and promise, with a few cloudy reminders of sorrow mixed in.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 6 months since we lost Michael. Just a few months ago, we wondered how we would make it one more day and one more day after that. Here we are, 6 months later, exhausted with grief and sorrow yet fostering a small seed of hope that tomorrow will be better and someday, some glorious day, this world will be made new and all the hurt and pain and suffering will be gone.

Ginger stopping to smell the flowers.

Ginger at the park

Vibrant flowers.

Winter walk…

Winter walk…

This week, Husband and I went back to our beloved Smithfield. This time it wasn’t for a lovely anniversary getaway, or to show friends our find. It was just to be.

We didn’t do any shopping, or eating, or anything really. We just brought the puppy and took a walk because we could. Because it’s beautiful…

Smithfield, Va.

Old tree stump amid farmland

Husband and puppy walking in Smithfield.

Smithfield waterways.

Puppy on a dock in Smithfield.

Walking in Smithfield.

Old barns lit by evening light.

Sun begins to set behind the trees.

Beautiful.

A grace-filled Christmas

A grace-filled Christmas

Husband and I on Christmas Day.

This Christmas was filled with grace–of necessity and through purpose. Grace for ourselves, grace for others.

We’re still reeling from our loss this fall, and the holidays just didn’t feel as bright and merry as usual. But there is still reason to celebrate–family, friends, and of course, most of all the birth of our Savior. So celebrate we did–even if it was a little more sedate than previous years. The change was actually kind of nice. There were fewer gifts and decorations, and perhaps a little less boisterous laughter, but there was a sacred peace.

We had a lazy start to the morning, ate puffy pancakes and opened our stockings. We even dozed on the couch for a few minutes before we headed out to Husband’s mom’s house. There we spent time with family, exchanging gifts, eating and making merry. It was unusually quiet without the nieces and nephews (who were sick and stayed home in DC), and of course there was the absence of my dear brother-in-law. But friends helped make the day brighter.

Stockings

Opening stockings

Husband wasn’t feeling well, so we headed home to relax in our own cozy home. We lazed on the couch, opened gifts a few at a time and enjoyed the sparkling tree, crackling fireplace DVD (yep.), and the lovely sounds of holiday music. Our traditional fondue dinner was accompanied by traditional James Bond movies (with Sean Connery, of course).

Ginger asking for toys from her stocking.

Ginger pleadingly asked for more toys from her stocking…

Before long, we were headed to bed–myself to read =), and Husband to sleep off some of the medicine he’d taken.

In all, I’d call it a good Christmas. A quiet Christmas. A grace-filled Christmas.

Our Christmas tree with gifts underneath.