Letting Chemistry Guide Me

The chill that goes up your spine when he kisses you. The tingle in your stomach when you know you’re going to see him. The rush you feel when he holds your hand. Chemistry. It’s what makes relationships so heady in the first few weeks and eventually drives them to the next level where you actually fall in love.

Chemistry is amazing but equally as elusive. I’ve been on MANY dates and I can tell within the first few minutes whether or not I feel it. When I do, it’s easy to talk, be affectionate and enjoy the company of the man I’m dating. If not, it can be torture to make it through the date at all.

When I met Steve, he was just 15 and a half years old. No one in their right minds would ever have guessed that those two teenagers would spend the rest of his life together and in love. It was chemistry. It was easy. Our relationship had it’s fair share of ups and downs for sure (we broke up like a million times in high school!) but we always ended up back together for some reason. One year passed. Five years passed. Nine years later we were married. Five more years. Then our last anniversary together….ten years of marriage. The thing that makes chemistry so amazing is how easy it feels to be with the right person. You don’t even realize how much time has passed until it has. Or until they are gone.

I was getting ready to move into my new house a few years ago and I came across my old high school yearbooks. Steve had written in them that he was going to marry me someday. Is it possible at 16 years old to know who you are going to marry? Could his love really have been so strong? I would like to think so although I didn’t know that I would marry him until much later in life. I always felt strongly tied to him; he was my best friend.  Perhaps many high schoolers think they will marry their girlfriends but Steve really did marry me. He loved me his whole life. I am so blessed that he chose me.

As I continue dating and trusting in God to send another “right” man into my life, I will let chemistry guide me. I believe that my instincts are God’s way of speaking to me. When I’ve ignored them, I have stayed in bad relationships far too long. On the contrary, when I have trusted my own intuition, I am happier and more content with my life.

So I will let God speak to me as I continue dating and putting myself “out there” in search of the right man with whom I can share the rest of my life.

My Christmas Wish

Ready for Christmas

I haven’t blogged all week because I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas. Last minute shopping and wrapping because I tend to spoil my children a bit at this time of year. But, tonight, when I went to church to worship and celebrate the REAL reason we have Christmas, I found myself feeling really sad….

Sad that Steve has not been with us for one more year. This is our eighth Christmas without him and it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. As I look at my children, it seems as though he’s missed their whole lives and I guess, in reality, he has. Cameron was just a little boy, six years old, when we had our first Christmas without his Daddy. Now, he’s a teenager, with his own tastes in music, his own opinions and he’s even had his first kiss! At just three years old, Caitlin was still a baby when we lost her Daddy. She’s no longer a baby but a strong-willed, athletic, smart and kind hearted little girl. Since Connor was born after Steve died, he has grown up without his Daddy altogether.

At church tonight, I was overwhelmed with a longing to celebrate just one more Christmas with Steve. One more time to go to church. One more time to have him with me as our children open their Christmas presents. I cried and knew that God would understand why I was so sad.

I am often overcome with emotion when I am in church. It is there that I feel God’s presence and I truly know where Steve is (with God). After Steve died, I remember walking through my house feeling lost, like the other half of me was suddenly missing. I felt Steve’s absence with every inch of my being. When I went to church, however, a strange calm would come over me because I could look at the altar and know that he was in Heaven with Jesus. I didn’t have to wonder where he was when I was in church. My feelings changed from bewilderment to sadness. Even though he was in Heaven, I selfishly wanted him back here with me.

If I could have just one Christmas wish, it would be to have Steve back so that he could share in the joy of celebrating this holiday with our children. I know he would have fun wrapping their presents with me, cooking Christmas dinner and going to church as a family. I know this is a selfish wish, though. Steve is enjoying eternal life in Heaven but I just miss him so much during the holidays. Even after eight years, I can still hear him laughing. I know he’s smiling down on us from Heaven and this will have to be good enough for now.

I look forward to the day when we are reunited and I can spend Christmas with my soulmate again.

I Can Do This!

There are a lot of things that I miss about being married to Steve but there is one thing that I miss the most: knowing that there’s someone who will ALWAYS be there for you, no matter what happens. I am blessed with really good friends and they are certainly there for me when I need them to be but it’s just not the same. With Steve, it was an unspoken given that we would always put each other first in our lives. Our priority was the other one’s happiness and safety.

I remember this one time when I needed to get an MRI. It was many years ago, before open MRI’s and all of the technology that we have today. I didn’t think it was a big deal so I went to have it done. My whole body was put into the machine and there was no one in the room with me. The technician talked to me over a speaker. I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe and I got really scared. Claustrophobia! The technician took me out of the machine and we rescheduled the appointment. My doctor gave me some Valium to take before the next MRI and Steve went with me. He was able to stay in the room with me and he touched my foot during the entire procedure. I remember thinking that I would be fine because Steve would never let anything happen to me. I felt better just knowing that he was there and in that room with me. I made it through the MRI just fine.

There were several other times when Steve’s very presence calmed me during medical procedures. I can remember feeling safe because he loved me so much and he would stay with me no matter what happened. But it wasn’t just during medical procedures that I counted on him. If I was going to a party and I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have to worry about being alone. Steve was there. He was my best friend and we always had so much fun together. He had such an outgoing personality that I was always confident taking him with me to new places because everyone liked him. We would enjoy ourselves no matter where we were together.

Now, when I go to unfamiliar places or out with groups of people that I don’t know very well, it can be a little intimidating. Steve was in my life since I was 14 years old so when he was taken away suddenly, I was truly on my own for the first time in my life. It’s almost as if I’ve had to “grow up” during these past seven years without him.  I’ve had to force myself to go outside of my comfort zone knowing that I need to keep living even though Steve is gone. This means that I have to keep meeting people and trying new things. I have taken my children on vacation, just the four of us. I have started new hobbies and met new friends along the way. I’m learning that I have the strength to keep living on my own and slowly, I’m building up the confidence that I need to do it too.

Paying It Forward

I’ve spent my weekend shopping and wrapping gifts for families that I don’t even know. Our church does “Angel Tree” and my children convinced me to get three angels from it this year. Yesterday, I bought clothes for a 15 year old boy, and toys for a 4 year old boy and a 15 month old girl. In addition to these, I drove some of our church youth out shopping for their own angel. The kids were super excited because our group had enough money to buy a really cool bike for the 10 year old boy on our angel. It was awesome to see the excitement of the youth when we found the bike and still had enough money to get a matching helmet. It’s truly what Christmas is all about: giving to others who are less fortunate than we are.

As I was shopping for my angels, I kept thinking about the strangers who took care of us during that first holiday season without Steve, when we were the family in need. I remember being overwhelmed by the love that I felt from people I didn’t even know. I felt God all around me in a time when I could easily have felt completely alone.

When Steve died, I began receiving condolence cards in the mail. Many of them were from people that I didn’t even know, from all over the country. I didn’t know how these people knew about us or got my address but it was comforting to know that so many people were praying for us. Many of the cards told of prayer lists and even masses that were being said for our family. The most surprising part was the number of cards that contained checks! It was completely unexpected and I was so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that I could only attribute it to God. I really had no other explanation.

There was a day, a few weeks after Steve died, when a firefighter came to pick up my van. He was not a friend of Steve’s and he did not work for the same department. He had arranged for new tires to be put on my van. Again, another stranger reaching out to us in our time of need.

As the Christmas holidays approached, I was contacted by Steve’s fire department to supply a wish list for my children. When I went to his fire station, they had gotten EVERYTHING on the kids’ wish lists! It was incredible the number of toys my children received that year! There was a woman at the fire station that day and I didn’t know her. The firefighters asked me to come into the office because she had something for me. This kind woman told me how she lived in a neighborhood near the fire station and had heard about Steve’s death. She said that she was thankful for him (she had never met him) because he served her community. I started crying as she told me how she went door to door collecting money for our family. That woman gave me a check for $2,000! I was sobbing! Never in my life had strangers wrapped their arms around me in prayer and support as they did when I lost Steve. I was a Christian before he died but in the midst of our tragedy, I felt God’s love all around me. It was truly amazing.

In addition to the toys, several other fire stations sent me gift cards that I used to buy a new washer and dryer. I was working at a school and the teachers gave me LOTS of gift cards that I used to buy shoes, clothes, school supplies, many things my children needed for months after Christmas. God had made sure that our family had everything we needed while I was going through the most difficult period of my life.

As I look back, I wish I had written thank you notes. I wish I could tell all of those people how much it meant to me when they reached out to us. At the time, I was so exhausted that all I could do was cry and say thank you. Now that time has passed and I am stronger, it’s my turn to give back to others in need. I especially love helping people that I don’t know because it feels like I’m “paying it forward.” My hope is that the families who receive our Christmas presents will feel God’s love in the same way that I did. When a friend helps you, it’s because they love you. When a stranger helps you, it’s because they love God. Perhaps those families will pay it forward when they are stronger too?

A Magical Season

My favorite part of the holiday season is the magic and wonder that I see in my children’s faces. I just love their excitement when our Elf on a Shelf shows up on Thanksgiving. They start talking to him and telling him what they want Santa to bring them. They’ve named our Elf, Bob. Funny name for an Elf but he’s all theirs and they love him.

Then there’s this thing called “Portable North Pole” that sends video messages from Santa to the children too. My kids love it and wait excitedly for theirs to arrive. My oldest son doesn’t believe in Santa anymore but he still enjoys his video. My daughter (10 years old) figured out that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real but, even though we had the “Santa talk,” she still believes in Santa. I’m pretty sure this will be my last year for her to believe so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it! My six year old believes in all the magic and wonder of this season.

Steve always enjoyed the holidays. He would hang lights on our house and scare me to death by climbing on the roof to do it! This is the one time of the year (okay, second time if you include their birthdays!) when I don’t worry about spoiling my children. I have tried very hard to raise them with the same values and morals as I would have had he been here with me, but it’s been hard not to indulge them when I know they are missing out on having a father. My two oldest, the ones that knew him, have spent so many days and nights crying for their Daddy that I just want to see them smile. Sometimes, that means giving in and getting them something they’ve asked me to buy them. It’s been a real struggle for me to keep that urge in check and remember that raising them to be thoughtful, caring and generous people means that I have to say no when I really want to say yes.

Steve and I were Christians and active in our church. This is a magical season in the church because we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’ve continued to keep Jesus in our holiday and it makes me feel even closer to Steve because of it. This is a time of year when I can miss him but really feel that I know where he is. He is in Heaven because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It helps me to celebrate the birth of Christ and it keeps my children focused on the true meaning of Christmas too. I love it that my daughter uses her own money to buy toys for kids in need and my son is active in his church youth group. My little guy is just now beginning to understand that not everyone has the money to buy what they need or want. I will take him shopping with me this year when I buy gifts for our church Angel Tree so that he can see how we give back to others during the holidays.

This is such a bittersweet time of year for our family. We miss having Steve here with us but I can feel him smiling down on our home. It is filled with Christian faith, love, tradition and generosity; all the things he would have helped me instill in our children. I am proud of how I am raising them and I will enjoy every minute of them during this magical season!

Prince Charming….Where Are You?

I’m recently divorced but I can see how I made that mistake (hindsight is 20/20, right?). I was widowed with three young children (one of which was an infant). If you’ve ever had a baby, then you know that your body image is not the greatest after giving birth. My husband was gone and I just couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to date me. I had so much baggage (or so I thought at the time!). I was still grieving, I was nursing a newborn and I had two other young children who needed my attention. Needless to say, I met a man who did want to date me and here I am several years later, D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D! The good news is that we parted as friends and everyone is happier now. Some people are just not meant to be married to each other 😉

So here I am, really single for the first time since I was in my 20’s, trying to find my Prince Charming! I believe that he’s out there somewhere. God created man and woman to be together and I don’t think He took my life partner when I was 33 years old just to let me live the next 50 years alone…

 The problem is that when I get close to a guy, he starts to think that I’m comparing him to Steve. I think this happens because Steve is still part of our family. For my children’s sake, we talk about him almost daily. His pictures are in their bedroom and we have one in the hallway outside their bedrooms. He is not here to get to know them so the only way they will know him is through me. When one of my children does something that reminds me of him, I am sure to tell them. He was my best friend for 19 years so I have a lot of stories to share with them.

 The truth is that I’m not comparing the men in my life but I do compare how relationships make me feel. I was happily married for 10 years. Of course I want to have that again. I know how good it is when you are married to your best friend. But, I am looking to feel that way with a man who’s HERE. Being widowed for 7 years has given me the time and space to move past the physical longing of losing Steve. When I miss him now, it’s because I wish I could talk to him. I wish I could get his advice. I wish he could see these amazing children of ours. I am sad to say that the memory of his touch has faded for me but I still remember how he made me FEEL: loved, secure, sexy, protected and like nothing in the world mattered more to him than my happiness. He encouraged me and supported me through college and graduate school. He was as proud of my accomplishments as I was of his. We supported each other. We were truly a team in life.

I believe there is a man out there who will make me feel these things again, but in his own unique ways. I am excited to meet him and look forward to falling in love again. My struggle is to trust God because it’s scary for me to think about losing my life partner again. One of my therapists summed up my choices: I can be afraid to be widowed again and live my life in fear, or I can take the chance and know that if I am widowed again, I can handle it. I choose to move forward and trust in God’s plan for my life. Steve would not want me living my life alone and I refuse to live my life in fear. I have children to raise and they need a healthy, happy mom.

So…..Prince Charming…..where are you?

One Day At A Time

I am widowed and I have 3 children (ages 13, 10 & 6). I am recently divorced from my second husband. That marriage is not the only mistake I’ve made since becoming widowed, but it is certainly a big one. I am healing, dating and trying to live my life to the fullest.

I have an incredible faith in God and His plan for my life. I have leaned on that faith every day since my husband was killed over 7 years ago. I am often told how strong I am but I don’t really think so. I think everyone has a strength inside of them that they don’t know is there until it’s needed. I could never have imagined raising these children on my own but I AM DOING IT.

One day at a time, I am figuring out how to be on my own. I make a lot of mistakes but I know I can do this. I can live this life that God has given me.

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