Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saying Goodbye...

Saying goodbye is really never easy, whether it's the simplicity of when a friend is moving away, the complexity of s broken relationship of some sort, or the final goodbye. Yes, I know that when you are in Christ, death isn't really the end, but it is the end of the day to day fellowship with our loved ones.

Even though I know Glenn has been with the Lord for 3 weeks now, as it is stated in 2 Chronicles 5:8 "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." it was yesterday that the we really said goodbye. The Celebration of Life service was a blessing, painful in ways... how could it not when I was saying goodbye to my best friend of over 33 years, the love of my life and the father of my children. Yet, it really was a blessing... the lives that Glenn touched, represented by a sea of purple- thank you for honoring him by the wearing of his favorite color. 

Though the moments with people were so brief, I saw people from so many stages of our lives-- the ones that I haven't seen in years, (and certainly not all at once in the same place!) to the ones that have been a part of our daily lives-- you all mean so much!  Some have had a long history with Glenn, and their lives were made richer by the friendship. But I also spoke with a few that had, really, the briefest of contact, as little as a single conversation that changed their life... WOW, God is amazing!! I knew that Glenn was a special man, but somehow, it was brought home in an even more significant way yesterday- thank you for sharing!

My children amaze me, like any other mom, I love my kids and am proud of them, yesterday however, was truly amazing... They are hurting, they miss their dad, but the love and honor they showed yesterday- it may bring tears to my eyes for a long time to come. They stepped up, they wanted to do the things that they did in the service; they have said that they see a strength in me, but let me say this, I see amazing strength in each of them!! I am thankful that as I look at each of them, I see so much of their dad in them, and God is opening my eyes to how the mantle that Glenn carried is being deposited uniquely in each of their lives.

I am also thankful to be in a house of the Lord that is family! My heart has been overwhelmed by so many in the past few weeks and again yesterday... All those that came, and so many who served, thank you!! This may sound silly but when I walked into the chapel for the luncheon, I quite literally was on the verge of tears. This wasn't because I had just come back from the cemetery, but because the amazing amount of food that was brought by so many and the fact that so many  people were still there (at the church), and had waited for us to get there before eating, and we were way behind everyone- and it was way past lunchtime. Again, my heart can't really express what this meant to me.

Thank you also to Joy Christian Fellowship for livestreaming the service so that those that couldn't be there in person were able to join us from where they were.

Thank you all for having walked alongside us all these years, and especially during the last 15 months. Your prayers, friendship and the things you have done have blessed me and my family beyond my ability to fully convey. I know in my heart that I am not alone, I have been blessed with both family and church family and friends to walk through the days ahead. I know that God has a future for me and I know that you are all there with me and the kids to see that we press forward.... Yes I will say it again- I love you and am thankful for each and everyone of you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wasn't That Just Yesterday?

This week, as I have been going through pictures in preparation for Glenn's Celebration of life, I have often found myself thinking, 'wasn't that just yesterday?"
May 3, 1980
I mean Prom was May 3rd... oh wait, that was May 3rd 1980... how is that possible? That's so long ago, yet the memories of double dating with good friends is still fresh in many ways. 
Dec 27, 1981

We started at my house with the traditional barrage of pictures and then it was off to MonDesire Restaurant... wow that's been gone a while now too. Funny events during dinner conversation, and then hitting what was then the Holiday Inn for the Prom itself... hanging out with friends and dancing more to the records during the band breaks than to the band, cuz it was awful! LOL
The next day it was off to the lake for the day... to bad the weather was about 65 and not 85. -- Good Memories.
Staten Island Ferry Sept 1989
A mere year and a half later, we were getting married. I can say I have been truly blessed, I was married to my best friend for 31 years, 4 months and 7 days. We  laughed, played, and shared pretty much everything. About 2/3rds of the way into our first year of marriage we began going to church and learning to serve the Lord and never looked back. Keeping God at the center of our marriage got us through all the challenges that we faced over the years.
Christmas 99?
During that time we were blessed with the Lord trusting us with four children to raise. We weren't perfect parents- who is? However with the Lord to guide us we tried our best to do as Proverbs 22:6 instructs us and train them up in the way they should go. Raising them in the house of God, trying to be consistent in who we were (better at sometimes than others). We were consistent to be at church services and activities, as well as training the kids to serve in the Lord's house. Glenn primarily in Worship and the sound departments, and me in worship for years and then very much in the children's departments... weren't the kids in tiny tots just yesterday? Now they are grown, and still serving God. We have added two wonderful bonus children through marriage and they are now beginning the journey of training up their own children.

Hawaii 2004
Most of our vacations were to visit family or a 'cheap trip' to the Reno/Tahoe area. Hotels can be gotten cheap there, but we loved our trips to there... the drive was always filled with talk, something that, until the end of Glenn's journey, was always easy and plentiful. We took a couple 'big vacations' with the kids- Disneyland and Las Vegas but others were camping, but we enjoyed them all.  Our 23rd anniversary was spent in Hawaii, the first of a couple trips that we were blessed to take as pure vacations as a couple, it was amazing, fun and an adventure we enjoyed, has that really been 8 years ago? Hawaii was followed by two cruises to Mexico with our church family... again, memories and experiences that I am thankful for and will remember for many more years to come. When we went on any of these trips it was always- how can we maximize this for fun, our budget was generally maxed with the 'trip' part so spending was a minimum. We might choose one thing that we really wanted to do, but beyond that it was on the cheap; free activities, inexpensive souvenirs and our matching T-Shirts to drive the kids nuts. (Of course they were cheap too.)
Then the 'yesterday' that rocked our world... where we found out that Glenn was being attacked by cancer. Even in the face of that, we set ourselves to trust God and fight! Yes, now I am grieving the loss of my best friend- and truly my better half, but we got a year more that the medical community was ready to give him in March of 2012. During that year we went camping, made a couple trips to the coast, another favorite, saw the arrival of a new baby and the joyous news that our first grandson was coming. All these things brought great joy to Glenn and me. God also timed things out so we got one more full family time with all of the kids, before things made the big shift, allowing us one more family photo and some time to talk, and laugh and just hang out as family... again, memories I can cherish forever.
Now my best friend and love of my life has been gone 17 days, my heart aches but I am blessed... I have over 31 years of memories (over 33 if you go back to when we met) to comfort me and bring a smile. I have a family that in the time of crisis, came together- not apart. I have a new Grandson that I know, though never having met his 'Papa' will grow and follow the footsteps of him.
Yes, I am blessed... hurting and missing him, but yet, I am blessed and thankful to the Lord.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Future and A Hope

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I find myself saying this verse a lot lately… My heart is shattered, and it really feels like a physical pain at times, I miss Glenn so much, the dreams we had for the things we wanted to do are now gone, because the “we” part is done… now it is just me, and I have to remember that God does have a plan for me.

What I know at this moment:
  •           Glenn is with the Lord- no more pain, no more cancer, but worshipping in the court of the Lord. And that makes me smile, even through the tears, I know that his love for God was the single most important thing in his life, and that is something that makes me glad.
  •           What I also know, is that the cancer that took Glenn did not come from the Lord, because God is NOT the author of sickness and disease.
  •            Glenn accomplished a lot during the last year of his life, he prayed for others and saw them healed, he taught the word of God and never quit believing it. He walked what he believed.

 I have no clue what my future looks like at this moment, other that it includes the Lord, my family, and my church family. I am simply taking things one day at a time. Quite honestly, some days are better than others—Some are okay, minimal tear jags, others… well, let’s just say I release more, I know I need to do this. I don’t know how long this will go on with such intensity; I just know that, eventually it will get better. I trust in God that He will get me through this period and show me what He has for me, He will turn the page into the new chapter He is writing for the book of my life.

The questions in my mind are beyond number, as I’m sure they are for anyone going through something like this. Will I ever get the answers? To some yes, the ones like work and finances, direction of ministry… yes, those I will get. But to others- Particularly the “why” questions… not likely, and I am coming to terms with that- God is sovereign, He does love me and I can trust in Him.

My faith has grown this last year, and as I continue forward, it will continue to grow as I learn even more how to trust Him for provision. It’s not that I haven’t done that before, it’s just simply in the past the human side was “we can figure this out.” Well now I know in a bigger way that I can’t do it on my own, I must have a listening ear for His direction and then the courage to step out to what He calls me to do.

So yes, I will press through the pain and into the future… be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Life Goes On.... Moving Forward

By Faith We Understand
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.  

The Heavenly Hope
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I know that Glenn ran a good race, he pressed, and overcame... yes we were hoping for a different end to this particular leg of the race, but I know that he fought the good fight and is now rejoicing in heaven. It is through the Faith that I have, my family has, that we get through this time. I know that God has a "bubble" of sorts around me right now... it is His way of helping me get through this time. I am thankful for the peace and strength of the Lord.  I am not strong. God is. He sustains me.

The last 5 days have been a bit of a blur, and yet not... I am overwhelmed in a good way with the love of all those around me, around our family, that are pouring into us, thank you.

When you are standing in a battle like this, you are looking at the end that you want, that is the one that you keep focused on and mentally prepare for... when the ending that you are desiring doesn't occur, then you continue to do what you have done all along... You Press, You Pray, You Trust, You Believe - and now, you move forward into the chapter that is being written. Trust... yes trust, trust that the Lord knows the end from the beginning. Trust that even though your heart aches and you don't know what lies ahead, you trust that He will give you new dreams of your future... I know the future isn't the one that I dreamed about with Glenn for so many years, but I KNOW that God still has one for me, and it's a good one! His word tells me that in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And it is on that promise I stand.

The promise that life continues arrived barely 48 hours after Glenn was called home, it arrived in the tiny form of our first grandson... Asher Glenn Smith - our Joyful Blessing! God knew what we would need and when we would need it, He gave the kids the name and He set it that Asher would arrive 3 weeks early... all set in place before we knew what was to come... He is Faithful!

Is this new chapter all fluff and flowers... no. It can't be, I am human, I miss the man that I have spent over 31 years of my life with. I will have ups and downs for quite a while, I know this, but I also know that the Lord will never leave me or forsake me. He WILL get me through, and with that I can have peace. When I am quiet, it may be a moment of grief or reflection; or it may just be a moment of peace... either way I am in His hand, and it is there where I will stay.

I will take a moment, I will take a deep breath, I will press forward, and I will re-engage into serving Him just as strongly as before, that is what I know I need to do, and I know that it is also what Glenn would expect me to do. Do I know exactly what that really looks like at this moment- no, how can I? But I don't have to; God does. The Lord is my Strength and in Him I WILL trust.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Heart is Broken but God is Here

Sleep isn't coming tonight, go figure... My heart is broken, the man I have loved since high school has gone to be with the Lord. It's May 4th. Not the ending we prayed for, not the ending we hoped for, and not the ending we expected, and not the one I was prepared for... but that doesn't change the goodness of God.

People have looked at me this year and said how strong I  was, I wasn't... God was, and is, and with Him, I know I will make it through to the next chapter in my life. God has given me an amazing circle of friends and family that will help me along until I can walk on my own.

Glenn arrived into my life on a summer afternoon, he showed up with a good friend of mine and her boyfriend. My parents weren't home so having people, especially guys there was a major no, no. LOL, but rather than ground me, my parents saw an opportunity, since we were in the yard they really weren't mad but  they said if the guys unloaded the truck of furniture that they had brought home from my Aunt's then I wouldn't get grounded, well they did... and on it was my hope chest. In the years since I said that Glenn arrived with my hope chest so we were destined.

Destined is not what many of our friends thought we were, lol. We were the odd couple, I was the little girl that lived in "Leave It To Beaver" land and he was a rock and roll, party boy drummer. Many of our friends didn't give us a decent chance at making it for the long haul... we we did pretty good, over 31 years, living up to the vows, until death us did part... again, my heart is shattered.

I have been married to a Godly, loving, gentle and amazing man. We really didn't fight much and we always found a way to laugh or at least smile, even to this morning. I don't know at this point what to do without him, I don't know how to be a grown-up without him, I miss him already. What I do know is that God can mend a broken heart, I don't know how long it will take but I know that the Lord has all those fragments firmly in His hand, and He knows just how to fit them together so that I will be okay.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It's Monday now, another day past. In spite of how little sleep and the events of Saturday, Sunday was a good day. I went to church- where else would I be. Emotions kept in check, somewhat due to exhaustion... weird kinda the opposite of my usual when tired. Our church family is amazing, from the moment I arrived I was enveloped by people expressing their love and also their own sense of heartbreak at Glenn's departure. Service was awesome, and the words of the sermon ended up paying a wonderful tribute to Glenn. - as I type, the words are beginning to blur, from the tears in my eyes.

Clear again- I came home from church, did some menial tasks, curled up in Glenn's recliner, turned on a movie and slept, 2 hours, twice as long as the night before... then back to church for a special evening service. I am thankful to the Lord's timing of things. Because of the timing I was able to keep my focus where I needed for much of the time, grieving- absolutely! But in a place where I could see and feel God's touch fully on me.

At home both in the afternoon and once again at night, I look at my facebook page, I am reminded that there are so many who loved Glenn, love me and care for my family. They are from all over, both near and far; family; close friends and some who though I don't know as well, I feel their encouragement.

Another show of God's timing and a reminder that Glenn's legacy of living a life before the Lord, is the fact that our son and his wonderful Whitney are going to have their son very soon, Whitney was being induced last night, and Glenn's namesake Asher Glenn Smith will soon arrive... His name alone means "Joyful Blessings."

I looked around me Sunday, all of my children and their families at service with me, 3 in person and 1 via livestream. Right where Glenn would want us all to be, doing what he would want us to do, go to the house of the Lord and Worshipping Him, looking forward to what God has for us to come.

Yes, my heart is broken into what feels like a million pieces, but I know already God has begun to put it back together one piece at a time, with the gentle touch of the Master's Hand, it will eventually heal, a part of it may always be missing, but it's only until we see one another again in heaven.

For now, it is one day at a time, still doing what has become my mantra.... Pressing, Praying, Trusting and Believing!!

Thank you to each of you that has walked with us, and continue to walk with me... in this area, my heart is full! I love you all.

The sermon "Shield's of the Mighty" with Pastor Danny Bonilla