About Gretchen

Louisiana girl, living in a Mississippi world. I am loving the rural life. I am also an Independent Avon Rep. This company is a big promoter of women's causes, mainly breast cancer and domestic violence. When you shop with me, you are supporting a real family, not a faceless chain.

Christmas is What You Make it – so is Life

In 2008 and 2009 we were a little nomadic, moving between the coast and a little further inland.  I was ready to buy a house again and put down roots.  But where?

My son knew of an acquaintance wanting to sell his grandparents house.  We took a ride down a bumpy country road to check it out.  I pulled into the yard, took one look, promptly backed out and told my son, “No way in heck would I ever move there.  Don’t bother making an appointment to see inside.”

Fast forward a few months, no other deal panned out for us.  To make matters even worse, my husband lost his job.  What followed was a frenzy of fighting for his unemployment benefits and trying to find an affordable place to live.

God sure does have a sense of humor.

The only place I could afford on my salary alone was – you guessed it – the place I refused to consider a few months earlier.

We moved in December 1, 2009.   Christmas was going to be tight.  My husband took our 5-year old grandson and 3-year old granddaughter into the woods to chop a tree.  We do not live in an area that abounds with beautiful trees you see in a Hallmark Christmas movie.  They found a scrawny scrub pine, brought it in the house, put lights on it, and whatever ornaments the tiny branches could hold.  The grands and my husband were excited.  I was depressed and cried.  But in the end, we had a very good Christmas.  We made the best of our situation.

From that moment on, the grands wanted to go into the woods to chop down a miserable excuse for a Christmas tree.  I simply refused for that to happen again, and we bought our trees off of a lot.

Eventually, with my husband’s chronic pain taking over his body, I resorted to a fake tree.

Last Christmas, my then 14-year old grandson revolted.  He wanted a real tree.  I refused.

This year, with all he has been through, I was determined to get him a real tree.  I have been busy purging clutter in this house (yes, the same house I refused to move in to 10 years before), and decided I did not have room to store a fake tree.  I donated the tree, which meant I would be forced to buy a real tree.

My son and grandson took a ride to check out real trees and were shocked at the price tags.  Just great.  I donated that fake tree, and now I was stuck.  With other expenses happening, I knew this would be a stretch, but I would bite the bullet for my grandkids.

My now 15-year old grandson took matters into his own hands.  While I was at work, he headed out to the woods to follow his Paw Paw’s footsteps and find us a tree.  The little prankster he is – he chopped down a Charlie Brown tree, drug it into the house, put it in the stand – took a picture – then texted it to me.  Funny kid.  Why can’t you put as much effort into your homework as you do a prank!

I get home from work, just in time to see him setting up the real tree he intended to use in our house.  It looked better than the Charlie Brown tree, and even better than the tree he and Paw Paw cut down 10 years ago.

But it is still a sparse scrub pine and not really Christmas tree worthy.  Oh well!  This child put a lot of effort into this, and I didn’t have the heart to say, “Throw it out because I am going to buy a tree from a lot.”  He jacked it up in a stand, threw lights on it, and hung a few ornaments – all by himself.  We topped it of with his Paw Paw’s Santa hat.

This young man hasn’t shown much interest in many things since losing his Paw Paw.  I was glad to see his excitement in this project.

I took a chance to peek into my past, possibly opening my heart to some aches.  But looking back, what I saw as my only choice for a roof over our head as a severe setback, turned into years of a fun life I never could have imagined.  I learned how much I loved the country life and this former city girl was converted.

For quite some time, my husband, myself and the two grands were quite the tight little family unit.  They learned about vegetable gardening, harvesting, storing and canning.  They learned about chickens and had the fun experience of collecting their breakfast from the backyard.  They experienced walking down a country dirt road to a pond, catching fish for supper, gutting and cleaning them, and eating this fresh catch straight off the grill.  They learned how to build a campfire, roast marshmallows, make hot chocolate and s’mores, and watch a favored Christmas movie with their daddy on an outdoor screen.

They learned how to take a scrawny scrub pine tree and turn it into a magical Christmas wonder.

What I saw as a failure of not being able to give my grandkids a proper tree from a lot, turned into an adventure for them and their Paw Paw, and taught them to improvise, using what is available to them.  In hindsight, this ‘failure’ was pure lagniappe, giving my grands a priceless memory.

We made the most of our country life in our dinky house with our sad Christmas trees.  We had fun doing the best we could, until my husband’s chronic pain became so unbearable it changed his demeanor, which changed our lives, which ended up taking his life.

This Christmas, drawing upon our God-given strengths, we will start new traditions, while preserving some of our old traditions that are instilled in our brains as happy memories.

Last night I was blogging about not being okay.  I thought it would take quite some time to shake that feeling.  All it took was a 15-year old grandson, a sad looking scrub pine and great memories.  Tonight, I am okay, and I will take tonight for what it is.

Christmas is what you make it – and so is Life!

 

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order.)
YourAvon.com/ghegwood

6 Praise the LORD! For he has heard my cry for mercy.

7 The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

8 The LORD gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.

Psalm 28:6-8

I am Not Okay

Throughout Thanksgiving, I refused to show sadness.  I wasn’t going to blog anything sad.  I wasn’t going to post anything sad.  I wasn’t going to utter anything sad.

Today, at work, the façade cracked and a co-worker noticed.  I had to fess up.

I am not okay.

Throughout my husband’s decline, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I carried all financial responsibilities, along with watching his decline.

But I still had him as a sounding board.  If I heard a crazy noise coming from my vehicle, I could consult with him.  He would calmly talk me down, explaining what it could be.  It never was as bad as my mind imagined.  If work had to be done on my house, he was the ultimate handyman.  He always had a solution to whatever repair we faced.

I thought I had the weight of the world on my shoulders back then.  The weight has shifted.  And it got heavier.  Granted, without having to pay for his medical issues, I regained some financial freedom; however, I have the weight of every decision being mine and mine alone.  I no longer have a partner to bounce anything off of in order to make a sound decision.

I feel like everything is breaking – my house, my car, my mind…….

I am intimidated.  I am vulnerable.  I am alone.

I know, I know, I know.  I have been preaching God’s word and God’s goodness for weeks now.  I know all about Psalm 69:1 – “Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck.”  I can recite many other verses, but right now my mind is not taking comfort in them.  I need to flounder in my self-pity a while longer.

I am experiencing deep anxiety.

I am not okay.

My friends and loved ones will be nervous to read this.  Don’t be.  Eventually, I will be okay.  Probably by next week I will bounce back seeking God’s word and strength.  I have always been resilient like that.

But for today, I am not okay.

Today, I want to peel my skin off and climb out of it.

Today, I do not want to be me.

 

(Just a note:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and SILs personal ministry of ministering to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Recently, they had 24 people at one meal.  That is quite a lot on a youth minister’s salary.  But God always provides.  I like to give them help when I can.  Please check out my Avon website.  We are not your grandmother’s Avon anymore.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order. )
YourAvon.com/ghegwood

And do not hide your face from your servant, for I am in distress.  Answer me quickly.  Psalm 69:17

Letting Go of a Dream

It was OUR dream.

We loved to garden together.  That was our ‘good times.’  We didn’t bring any other interference into our garden time.  It was just me, him and Mother Earth – no marital problems – no anxiety – no mental illness.  Gardening was the best times for us these last few years.

Our dream was in our retirement years to have a huge vegetable garden and a roadside stand.  We would can what we couldn’t sell.  We have been in prep mode these last few years, building up to OUR dream.  We gardened, we harvested, we canned.

We called our little homestead a faux farm because it was not sustainable.  Some years we had bumper crops, some years we might have a tomato.  We knew if the apocalypse came and we had to survive on our own land – we would be the first to die.

We chronicled our success and failures on our Facebook page, Spooky Hollow Southern Mississippi.  We laughed at our failures.  We took great pride in our successes.  One year, our cucumber crop was so large, we gave those away as party favors for my granddaughter’s birthday.

We even had fun scooping the poop – so much fun that I wrote a poem of one our adventures on May 21, 2010 (never dreaming that 9 years later – almost to the date – my husband would be dead from his own hand).

“I do not like to scoop the poop. I do not like it sticking to my boots. I do not like the way it smells. And now I do not feel so swell. But Bubba-Man says I do not give a dam. We are here to scoop the poop. We do not care if it sticks to boots. We do not care how bad it smells, because this will make our garden swell.”

Such enjoyable times.

But those days are gone now.  My husband killed those dreams when he killed himself.

I am faced with downsizing.  I have a huge assortment of canning jars and nowhere to put them.  I tried to find places to stuff them, but no such luck.  Then I realized I would probably never have need for this many jars and I must face parting with them.  That thought stabbed me in the heart and actually brought tears to my eyes.

Isn’t is silly to cry over canning jars?  Grief – a miserable necessity.

I know I can still have a garden – a smaller one.  I know I will still can my produce – just not as much.  I do not know if I will ever have a roadside vegetable stand.  But what’s the point anyway?  What I do know is I will not be sharing this experience with my husband.  That was the whole point – him and I – conquering this dream together – sharing this intimate experience that was only between us.

The prize was in the process.  OUR process.  Not his process.  Not my process.  OUR process.

OUR gardening trumped every bad experience in life.  We were in tune with each other, and only with each other.  A true union.

Our gardening experience – this is ‘us’.  No, that’s not right.  This ‘was us’ – this was ‘the good us’.

It hurts like heck letting go of a dream.

I’m not sure if I will ever enjoy gardening again.

 

(Just a note – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter and SIL have a personal ministry of ministering to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  Recently, they fed as much as 24 people, all on a youth minister’s salary.  God provides.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Be sure to check out our other deals. We always have some.  Avon isn’t only make-up.  If you have not seen an Avon brochure in a while, check us out.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

The First Thanksgiving

For this first Thanksgiving without my husband, I didn’t want to do a traditional meal on the actual day.  We agreed to do an informal dinner the weekend before.

Did I think this would lessen the blow of having our first holiday meal without him?  Yes.  Was I wrong in this assumption?  Yes.

This morning, as I was preparing the dishes I was assigned to bring, I opened my oven and noticed this inside was a mess.  We have a propane oven and realized I don’t know how to clean the inside.  I never had to do that before.  My husband handled everything concerning the house, meaning from repairs all the way to cooking.

Sometimes when a wife loses a husband, she is lost because she never handled anything financial in the marriage.  I always knew I wouldn’t have trouble in this manner.  Once my husband became disabled, we managed on one income.  What I didn’t expect was being so lost about how to do just about everything else.

So I looked at the dirty oven, and started to cry.  I continued crying while preparing my dishes.

I knew our daughter was sad, too, because she posted she was dreading this and also posted our last family photo from last Thanksgiving.

I studied that picture and realized how awful I looked.  For months I had been dealing with a husband with rapidly declining mental health.  I let myself go terribly.  I looked like I woke up, rolled out of bed, threw on just any old junk and headed to dinner.  My gosh, I am the Avon Lady, how could I walk outside my house looking like this?

I went through that day sitting on pins and needles, not knowing what would happen, how he would act and who would he offend.  I was constantly in the middle.  “Gretchen, do you know what Bubba is doing?”  “Mom, dad is…..”  “G-Maw, Paw Paw is…..”  Everyone thought I could intervene and change the direction of his behavior.

I was worn.

Have you ever heard the song Worn by Tenth Avenue North?  If not, go listen to it.  That song was my life.

Remembering that final Thanksgiving helped me shift my perspective.  I was going to be sad missing my normal husband, but I was going to enjoy this day being free from mentally impaired husband.  I was going to put that bad Thanksgiving memory behind me and focus on all the good ones instead (there were many).

I put on make-up, fixed my hair, dressed nice, googled how to clean my oven and headed off to my daughter’s house for a wonderful day of making new memories.

 

(Just a note:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and SILs personal ministry of ministering to college students.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Recently, they had 24 people at one meal.  That is quite a lot on a youth minister’s salary.  But God always provides.  I like to give them help when I can.  Please check out my Avon website.  We are not your grandmother’s Avon anymore.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.  And, you get FREE SHIPPING on any $40+ order.  YourAvon.com/ghegwood)

God’s Not Done With Me

Over the weekend, I wanted to shed my grieving widow persona and just be the Super Avon Lady.  Nothing else.  Not a care in the world.  Just doing something I love and not thinking of anything else.

But God is always thinking of me and finding ways to mold me into being a better Christian.

I was minding my own business, peddling my Avon wares at the local town fair.  There was another lady vendor in close proximity to me and a gentleman peddler. This lady vendor, how can I delicately put this – this lady vendor did not know how to shut up.  She talked to us incessantly about the same thing over and over.  By the end of the first day, I and the other gentleman vendor were fit to be tied.

I dreaded returning Sunday to have to face Lady Mouth Vendor.  Lo and behold, I wasn’t even in my booth when she scurried over to pick up where she left off Saturday.

God certainly has a sense of humor.  In this new life of mine, the one where I am walking deeper with God, He drops convictions on me at a whim.  I can’t say I heard a voice.  But I felt words pressed upon my heart.  Those words said, “Gretchen, this woman told you she is 61.  Look at her.  She is out here working her booth alone.  She might be lonely and just wants to hold a conversation.”  I was thinking, well if she wants to hold a conversation, why doesn’t she shut up long enough for someone else to participate?

I am sure you know that is not the attitude God wanted me to have.  So I said, “Okay God.  I hear you.  I will give this a try.”

So as Lady Mouth Vendor continued to talk, I looked her in the eye, nodding in agreement, and commenting here and there.  By my actions, I hoped I was conveying interest.  Then something happened. I was interested.  We began an easy banter that carried throughout the slow parts of the day.  Once I put my attitude in God’s hands, He guided me and the experience was exhilarating.

I was experiencing the situation through a servant’s heart.

This God thing really works!

Here I was, just trying to be Avon Lady Extraordinaire, when God was working on me when I wasn’t even expecting Him to show up.  After all, I was happy at the moment.  I wasn’t doom and gloom widow.  I wasn’t crying out to Him for help.  But He crept up on me like a Ninja and pounced.  God always shows up.

I hear you, God – servant’s heart – go through life with a servant’s heart, and my world will be a better place.  And I might just make someone’s world a better place, too.

In my earthly way of thinking, I think God is not done with me yet, His work is just beginning.  However, in heavenly terms, God has been working on my since before conception.  You know – that ‘I can count all the hairs on your head’ thing.  (Side note – can you put a few extra hairs on my head, God, please?  Aging seems to cause a thinning reaction.)  So I guess I am in a super blooming phase of God growth.

I have always been a believer.  Borrowing a term from a friend, I did not consider myself born again, I considered myself ‘born into.’  I was raised by a faith-based mother.  And for goodness sakes, I have an aunt who is a nun and my brother was a Franciscan Monk.  I never knew a life without Jesus.  We talked about Jesus, and I knew he was my savior because he died for my sins.

We went to church.  I listened to the sermon.  I went to a Christian grammar school.  But I was not a Bible-Page turner.

In my adult years, I read the Bible and attended Bible studies.  My faith was growing.  Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg.

It took my husband’s suicide for me to ‘live’ in the Bible.  These past 5 months I have truly felt and seen God’s hand in my life.  I am not only a Bible-Page turner, but I live in the Bible.  This has opened my heart for verses to find me exactly when I need them.

James 1:2-4 smacked me in the face this weekend.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Lady Mouth Vendor was my trial for the weekend.  I like to think I passed that trial.

I feel my old self is shedding and I am growing into my new skin – a better skin – a skin that wants to exemplify God to the world.

I am developing a servant’s heart.

I shared my conviction with the gentlemen vendor.  He looked at me like I grew another head.  Oh well, all I could do was show him I was truly making an effort to interact with Lady Mouth Vendor and not be aggravated by her.

The best I can do is live by example.

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I witness this servant’s heart experience first-hand through my pastor son-in-law and my daughter.  Every Monday night, they open their home to a group of college students.  This is their personal ministry.  They break bread, worship and do fun activities.  My young grandchildren have a blast with this extended family, and they are learning, at a young age, to have a servant’s heart.  It’s truly a fun night in their household.  Even several international exchange students participated in the convivial pursuit of pumpkin carving.  This young family has the opportunity to bring the gospel to far-away places without ever leaving their home.

This beautiful couple experiences all the regular turmoil of a young family, but they always have the joy of the Lord carrying them through every step of life.  They act with humility while serving others.

I want to enrich college night in their household.  They manage to do all of this on a pastor’s salary alone, with three young children – 5 and under.  The Lord always provides their needs.  I ask the Lord to help me help them.  The best way for me to assist at this moment is financially and through prayer.

I am going to combine something I love doing with the need to have a servant’s heart.  I am going to use my Avon superpowers and tithe my Avon online earnings to their college ministry.

First world problems – we have so many online sights we can shop through.  I ask for you to take a look-see at my website.  A portion of the proceeds will be used towards Monday College Fun Day in the pastor’s household.

It’s not your grandmother’s Avon anymore!  You can peruse a catalog in your leisure, and have your favorite products delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time shopping online with Avon, use code WELCOME10 for a 10% discount on any size order.  Enjoy free shipping with a $40+ order.  Check us out:

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

We have a saying in Avon:  This is the company that puts mascara on lashes and food on tables, that fights wrinkles with one hand and Breast Cancer with the other. That knows the value of a perfect lip, but still opens its mouth and speaks out against Domestic Violence and for women’s financial independence. This is the company that not only brings beauty to doors but also opens them. The company that supports 6 million Representatives in over 100 countries. This is Avon.

I am going to use my Avon business to put food on the handmade table (lovingly built by my pastor son-in-law) for college night and to spread the gospel as far away as Africa from a cozy house in southern Mississippi.

And while you are at it, I don’t know her needs, but please say a little prayer for Lady Mouth Vendor.

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

I Regret, Re-Visited

I have already expressed regrets from our married life.  I have a deeper regret from your last few hours here on earth.  I have to unburdened my soul, confess and get this off of my chest.

This regret carries my deepest shame.

You left a note.  I will never read your last thoughts.  Your last days were filled with such venom. I don’t want to hear your poison snaking around in my head until I take my last breath.  Our daughter talked me into letting our son-in-law keep the note, so that if you left a kind word for anyone, he can pass that on.  I don’t even want to know if you left a kind word for me.  Actions speak louder than words and your actions were deplorable.

I do not regret not reading your note.

I sat in the waiting room while you lay in a sterile hospital room dying.  I imagine you were surrounded by machines, nurses and doctors – strangers.  I would not go in the room to see you.

I do not regret not going into the room to see you.

The doctor entered the waiting room, telling me you were not long for this earth, did I want to tell you goodbye.  Absolutely NOT!  I was so angry at you for what you did.  I didn’t want to see you in that state and I didn’t want to give you the comfort of having a loved one by your side.  At that moment, I hated you.

I do not regret sitting with you while you took your last breath.  I was most upset to not have been given the option of holding your hand while you died a peaceful death.

Family was far away in another state, so I was your only family member there – your wife of almost 37 years, who should have been by your side.  Had our children been close by, wanting to go in to see you, I would have conceded.  But hell would freeze over before I was by your side watching you take your last breath.  My co-worker asked if I at least wanted our preacher in there with you.  Absolutely NOT!  You chose a vicious end to your life, you were leaving this world alone.

I do regret not letting the preacher be with you as you were leaving this earth.

Five months of reflection, I realize I should have let the preacher be by your side.  That is my deepest, most shameful regret and I want to hide my face for the ugliness I displayed in your last moments.  I am sorry.  I apologize to our children and to your siblings for letting you die alone.  I was your partner in life, and no matter what, should have sent you off with some dignity.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  I was scorned and I was furious.  I did not let God’s light penetrate those last awful hours.

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

What Happens When the Overwhelming Feeling of Grief Strikes

For almost 5 months I have been living in an angry world – my angry world – so angry at my husband for committing suicide – that I thought that was my world forever.  I don’t like angry world.

Recently, angry grief started moving over and allowing sadness grief to make an appearance.  I felt like I had multiple personalities, but angry grief was the dominant one.  Angry grief would allow other personalities of grief to briefly peek through.  But that potent emotion always, and most easily, regained control of any other feeling wanting to surface.

Angry grief is a real son of a gun.  Out of the blue, it fled my body, as if an exorcism had been performed.  In its place was a whirlwind of the deepest sorrow I have ever known.  My heart became so heavy it seemed to have dropped far into an abyss in my body that I never knew existed.  Something foreign bubbled up into my throat and began strangling me.  I was plunged into a sadness so deep that my entire world rocked.

The only way to compare this is the feeling when you are driving on the beach road, singing along to your favorite song on the radio.  The skies are blue, the water is serene, the sun roof is cracked open a bit – and BAM – out of nowhere, a hurricane strength wind blows in from the gulf, slamming into your vehicle. Not only do you swerve into another lane – you are thrown into an alternate dimension.  The skies are dark and stormy.  The air is so thick you cannot breathe.  You try to scream but nothing comes out, and the gravitational pull on your heart can actually drop you to your knees.  You fight to return to the normal dimension – the dimension when all was right with the world – but you are floating – no – you are spinning –and there is nothing to grab on to.

This pain was so intense, this is nothing a surgeon’s hand, or a physician’s drug, could fix.

I was beginning to think I liked angry world better.  At least angry grief insulated me, for a bit, from the shock I had to deal with on that dreadful day of May 29.  Angry grief insulated me for almost 5 months afterward and allowed me to put one foot in front of the other.  I was functioning, making decisions and living life.  This new pain of sorrow grief wanted me to curl into a ball and withdraw from functionality.

In reality, I was not on a beach road.  I was driving to work on a Monday morning when the heavy heart feeling hit.  I began to cry.  It would have been so much easier to turn around and go home.  But I had responsibilities at work, and onward I went.  I walked into the office wiping my eyes, trying to gather myself and present a rational being to the world. I was still spinning with nothing to grab onto, but I was trying, on my own, to return to the normal dimension of functioning Gretchen.

On my own – those are the keywords.  On my own.  You cannot handle grief on your own.  Don’t try it.  I did and it did not work.  As I was spinning in that alternate direction, I was trying to grab onto anything.  What happened was God grabbed on to me and said, “Come on child.  I am taking you on a journey.  You may not like it.  But you are not alone.  I am with you every step of the way.”

I walked into my cubicle and there was a little book, titled Think Happy, Be Happy, from my supervisor, along with a note stating I was not alone and my work crew was with me.  A high school friend (note – we have been out of school 40 years!) texted me throughout the day checking on me.  Another high school friend stopped me in the work hallway to offer words of support.  Co-workers rallied around me tightly that Monday.  Later in the week, a former co-worker mailed me a book titled Hugs – a Daily Devotional for Woman.  My former supervisor walked into my cubicle to give me a hug.  And, as always, family was near holding me up – my family and my husband’s family.  I had earth angels pulling my heart out of that abyss.

In this intense pain of sorrow, God is the surgeon’s hand and the physician’s drug.  In addition to His Word, God has surrounded me with a huge support system.  This support system actually extends around the world.  He must know that I am a real mess and I really need a group this big.

I know that throughout this grief journey, the hurricane strength wind and abyss heart sinking feeling will overtake me at times.  This is a journey I must take for complete healing.  This is my journey.  No one else walks in my shoes. We all have different journeys, but we all have a common path to take – and that is a journey with God.  Not only does God grip my hand, He cradles me when I cannot walk.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

Have You Truly Forgiven Someone?

I thought I had forgiven you.  I told everyone I had forgiven you, but I would never forget what you did.

But I still had so much anger in myself.  If I was holding that much anger, had I truly forgiven you?

This is what my forgiveness looked like:  Yeah, I forgive you, you sorry, stupid, bastard.  I forgive you for committing suicide, leaving me alone to suffer the consequences and agony of the choice you made, by yourself, for our future.  Goodbye and good riddance.  I no longer have to deal with your chronic pain, severe depression, alcoholism and narcissistic behavior.  I forgive you and thank you for giving me freedom from your insanity, you idiot.

Hmmmm……  Does that sound like forgiveness to you?  I thought not.  Sounds more like pure anger, judgement and condemnation.

When I ask God to forgive me, does He say “Yeah, I forgive you – you lousy bastard.”

What I just wrote sounds like blasphemy.

Then this Bible verse found me:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  Luke 6:37

Only by reading God’s Word am I truly able to forgive you.

This is what my forgiveness looks like now:  So my dearest, departed husband, I forgive you.

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

I Regret

I never thought the anger would move over enough to let normal grief in – not the grief of a widow whose husband chose suicide by way of leaving her instead of fixing the problems – but the grief of a widow who lost her husband through natural causes.

Five months later and I feel like it is the first week after your death.  I am driving in the car, and out of 37 years of habit, when I stop at a red light, I reach for your hand, but I look down and my hand is empty.  The anger has subsided enough to let me remember the good times; however, this brings on such heavy sorrow, pain and regret.

I have had five months of processing all of your faults.  Now I must address mine.

I have regrets.  I am not finished trying to fix us.  Time goes on, but not for our matrimonial union.  I am so sorry I did not realize the concept of Love and Respect sooner in our marriage.  The husband craves respect from his mate in order to feel loved, and the wife needs to feel love in order to feel respected.  I was raised to be such a strong-willed woman I don’t think I ever truly let you feel like the leader of the family.  I am so sorry for that.  You were such a strong willed man and that collided with my need for being an individual.  This struggle interfered with the concept of two becoming one.  And time has run out to rectify the situation.

I am so sorry for whatever pain I ever caused you.

I must accept my regrets and live with what is.

I asked God for forgiveness and this gives me comfort.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

Thank God for Renewed Mercies!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentation 3:22-23

I was in a bit of a snit last night and having a pity party.  I felt I was back to square one in my grief process.  What a setback I was having, and I was feeling lonely.

Yesterday, our granddaughter turned 5.  She is the life of the party, like her grandfather was.  Little Miss Sassy is so full of happiness, love and personality.  I couldn’t help but think what her Paw Paw was missing, by his own hand He would have made a huge deal out of her newly pierced ears.  And I could picture him, and our baby, sitting on his lap as she told the story of how she scored two goals in her soccer game.  Our Little Miss Sassy would have had his undivided attention.  This man was born to be a Paw Paw.

Yesterday was also our son’s birthday.  I had the bright idea to cook a supper for my son and bake a cake.  The kitchen was my husband’s area of expertise.  I am a burning, over-cooking, setting the food on fire hot mess of a momma.  I was my usual disaster self.  I really, really need to stay away from the kitchen.

I was so unnerved by these thoughts I pretended he was in the passenger seat of our vehicle on the drive home and I cursed him out royally.  I vented lots of frustration.  I calmed down enough to listen to the radio, only to have Brooks & Dunn’s Neon Moon shatter the thin glass my mind was walking on.  I fell hopelessly into a state of loneliness and depression.

I went to sleep with a heavy heart and had sad, sad dreams.

BUT THEN, I opened my eyes to a new morning.  Instead of lamenting my sorrows, I lamented on Lamentation 3:22-23.  God brings me new mercies every morning.  I was calm.  I decided to take a walk outside on my property.  Bin, the dog, trailed along, and Katuree the Krazy Cat insisted I carry her.  My husband’s presence is everywhere outside.  That was his domain.  He has four neat stacks of future projects waiting to be done at Spooky Hollow Southern MS, our faux homestead.  Faux, in meaning that if the apocalypse came, we would be the first to die.

He has a stack of boards that can be used for various projects, a stack of tin to re-do our tool shed, covered by a stack of thick wooden fence posts.  He has a stack of fencing and metal fencing posts.  And, finally, he has a stack of various sizes of miscellaneous brick, stone slabs and little boulders.  I didn’t look at this stack with sadness.  Because of my new mercies for today, I looked at this stack with a hope of some great projects.  How will the projects get done?  I do not know.  I have not a crafty bone in my accountant body.

But that thought is for another day – another day that has renewed mercies.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

I walked back into the house, made my son a cup of bitter coffee, and conjured up plans to salvage the pork loin, and to once again try to bake that cake.

As for me, I am not eating anything I cook.  I have plans with some high school friends to meet at a café for a late lunch.

Thank you God for renewed mercies every morning!

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood