7 Things I’ve Learned from Sadness

“Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.” ~Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NLT)

Sadness…I’m sure everyone just could not wait to click on the title of this post. Ha! I don’t know about you, but more often than not, I just want to sweep that word right under the rug.


A Weary Widow & A White Flag

It seems I’ve gotten yet another holiday season under my belt. My “holidays” run from Thanksgiving through my birthday. If I can be completely honest, I feel as if I’ve been spanked; yes, spanked. In many ways it was as hard as the first.

And, that caught me by surprise.

But apparently, it’s “normal” for some years to be harder than others. “Normal”…yeh, there’s nothing “normal” about the holidays for this worn-down, weary widow.


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up…

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” ~ Ps. 40:5

I made what’s become a weekly trip lately up 400 to our main church campus, North Point, today. I typically don’t think much of this 20 or so minute drive, not too much rolling around in my usually sleepy brain. Today was a bit different.

Today I remembered my trip up and down 400 to North Point 6 years ago…October 22, 2006. It was my first date with Tony; it began with us attending church together. I’d say that was one of the best ways you could start any relationship, especially what would become a beautiful marriage.

6 years.
And what’s happened in those 6 years, well, you just can’t make this stuff up.

I laugh at that very phrase. It stemmed from a former colleague of mine who did and said some of the most random things I’ve ever heard of. Her life, her words, you just could not make that stuff up if you tried.

As I reflect on the last 6 years, I can’t make my life up either. It’s full of absolute bliss and bitter hardship. It’s random. In so many ways, it’s what I could have never planned for or even imagined. It’s a one of a kind chapter in my story.

It could only be scripted by One.
And that One is my great God, the author of my life.

And so, I find myself shaking my head and laughing. I laugh a lot these days. I mean, it sure beats crying. But even more, it allows me to release the pressure, to unclench my hands from what are merely imaginary reigns controlling my life.


I am not in control. I remind myself of that often. I can’t plan or script my life, as hard as I try at times. I’m finding freedom in just letting God lead, allowing God to bring experiences my way. Sure, some of those really hard experiences are one’s I would have never chosen, yet some of the very best are things I would have never seen coming. They take me by surprise; they leave me in awe and wonder of what my God is up to next.


And yet, they keep me in the present too because I don’t want to miss out on what my God is up to in my life today.


And my today, well it was certainly full of random, but really fun and cool stuff…stuff I could not make up. It’s been a common theme these last few months, much like the last 6 years. When I add up all the random, all the crazy, all the stuff I did not plan for, the difficult and the good, I can only thank my Jesus for carrying me through, for being the Blessed Controller of my life.

He is and always will be the Blessed Controller of my life. Only He can make this stuff up!

Dearly loved, and not in control,

Little Miss Independent

I’m fairing fairly well these last couple of months. It was a marathon of anniversary dates and holidays from November to April. I dug out about mid-May and finally started feeling as if the weight of the world was no longer on my shoulders.

It feels good.
I feel happy most days.
It feels a little like normal.
Normal…now that’s not a word I ever thought I’d use to describe my life ever again.

A few weeks ago, I sat across from a new friend who has been stuck in her own cycle of grief and loss. It was a surreal experience for these words to come out of my mouth to encourage her:
“If you would have told me two years ago that I’d be sitting across from you, sharing my story of tragedy and how I’ve made it through, I would have never believed you.”

Sure, two years ago, I trusted my God to carry me through. He was and is the only One who could. But, I was in such a dark space that I could not see it, and I most definitely could not envision feeling anything but tragedy and sadness ever again.


There are days when I look around and feel as if God picked me right up out of that day before Tony died, put me in a time capsule, and shipped me right into my current life. It really is best case scenario for having to start over, for having had tragedy rattle every part of me. I am so very grateful; I certainly did nothing to deserve this great favor.

Yet, I have to remind myself that the common denominator through all of these circumstances is me. Me.
Me with all my insecurities and weaknesses. Me with all my demands. Me who more often than I care to admit likes to control my life.

I took a stroll down memory lane this week, I thought back to my hopes and dreams as a child and early teen. I remembered vividly what I wanted to be:

An independent woman.

Ha! It seems laughable now. I don’t think I had any clue what that meant at the time, but it sounded intriguing. I wanted to be able to do things on my own, to depend on no one but myself, to accomplish and achieve anything I set my heart to…all because of me.

I mean, thanks, Kelly Clarkson, for a cool song, but honestly, what young girl aspires to become that?

Still, there was insight in that phrase. It was a foreshadowing to a very thorn in my side…little miss independent.

That’s exactly how I operate when I try to do things apart from Christ, when I blaze through my day, my week, event or circumstance, depending on my strength and not that of my Savior’s. It’s my very flesh, my weakness. And when things seem manageable, attainable, achievable on my own, that’s when little miss independent takes over my life.

Sure, it’s great to be able to use the talents, wisdom, strength God has given me to go about my daily tasks, decisions, relationships. But the danger lies in thinking I am captain of my own ship, driver of my own car, my very own puppeteer in the puppet show of my life.

Contrast that with the first year, really even most of the second year, after loosing Tony. I can recount many days when the sun came up, my alarm clocked blared, and I had nothing, NOTHING, to muster  to even sit up in bed, much less get up. All I could do was earnestly ask the Lord to give me the ability to get up, to put one foot in front of the other and to trust Him for the rest of my day.  I was desperate. I was dependent. I could do nothing apart from Christ.

I am thankful to have moved past this stage of grief and to be able to get up on my own again. Still, I find myself wanting, longing, to never forget what is was like to be completely dependent on Jesus to meet my every need, down to the very basics. I don’t want that experience, as hard and painful as it was, to go in vain.

I suppose why these two word pictures I stare at each morning as I get ready are so fitting.

I wanna stay desperate for my God, desperate for His Presence. Desperate.
Dependent on Him.

Dearly loved,

From this day FORWARD…

For-ward (adverb): Toward or tending to the front; frontward: step forwardInto consideration: put forward…In or toward the future: looking forward to...

What would have been our 4 year wedding anniversary was last Thursday.
No plans were made. No special recognition. No hoopla. No Facebook post. No blog. Really, only a few folks knew or remembered.
And it was completely okay with me. I woke up. I got dressed. I went to work. I was supported and loved on by a few close friends and family. And then the day was over. Time moved on. It moved forward.
It’s not that a big deal being made or not made was right or wrong. It was simply my choice. And I chose to spend the day in quiet reflection. I chose to let the day come and go, and to let my emotions come and go too.

It was the same a week prior when I chose to trade in Tony’s car that I had been driving since his death. That’s by far the biggest item of his I have had to part with. Sure, I could have held on longer, I just chose otherwise. I chose to walk away, to drive away, to drive forward.

This is a word that God has continued to impress upon me for the last several weeks. I must admit each time I hear it, I just want to balk at it. I want to push back, to step back, to protest, to make excuses, to start to feel sorry for myself, to look for attention and affirmation for my backward-moving emotions.
I don’t always want to move forward.
Moving forward is hard.
Moving forward requires letting go.
Moving forward is uncomfortable and scary and unknown.
Moving forward puts me face to face with a future that’s uncertain, a future I can’t see.
But that’s where 2 Corinthians 5 comes in. It says in verse 7:
“For we live by faith, not by sight.”


The day after our anniversary, I pulled out our guest book from our wedding. My sweet friend Steph created a beautiful scrapbook amongst pages that our guests signed. I still can’t bear to read all the well wishes from our loved ones, loved ones who never thought the beginning and end of our marriage would come so soon. 

Yet, I was struck by one particular page and picture.

This was one of our engagement photos. The phrase below it said “From This Day Forward.”

I went digging for that very photo from group of photos our sweet friend Pon took for us after we were engaged. That’s where I came across this candid shot.

It now seems like a more fitting picture for that phrase above. It’s as if Tony is gently nudging me forward.

From this day forward.
By faith.

Dearly loved,