"For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 116:8&9



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meet Mallory



This is my sweet friend Mallory. I have know Mal for almost 7 years. We met by chance when she and her husband joined our small group. Barry and I instantly connected with them and we have some pretty strange stories from the first year we knew them. They later helped us plant Providence Church. Most people don't know this, but the reason we planted Providence in the neighborhood we did had a lot to do with Mallory and her husband.  

Mallory is a friend that has taught me what loyalty and grace look like played out in real life. She has one of the sweetest, purest hearts of anyone I know. And she is one of those friends that you could go a year without seeing and when you reconnect, it's like you just saw her yesterday. Mallory has always been one of those people I dearly loved and deeply trusted. But in the last 7 months, she has outdone herself.

The night Barry went into the hospital is a blur for me. I don't remember a ton. But I do remember calling Mallory around 5pm, sobbing, telling her I needed to bring her my kids so I could go to  the hospital. (Mal lives down the street from me.) I didn't tell her what was going on, I didn't even tell her who was hurt. I made absolutely no sense on the phone. When I pulled up to her house a few minutes later, Mallory was waiting on the curb. She took my kids without asking any questions. I asked her to watch my kids for a couple of hours. She ended up watching them for three days. She fed them, clothed them, and took William to school without any help or information from me. She stepped in and cared for my children for me while my world fell apart. And in the midst of caring for four children, all three-years-old and younger, she was at the hospital to hug me just minutes after Barry passed away.  

In the days, weeks and months after losing Barry, Mallory ministered to me in very tangible and consistent ways. She prayed for me constantly. She called and emailed me to let me know she cared and didn't stop, even when I didn't answer or respond. She has been someone who I could call or text in the middle of the night to say I was struggling and she wouldn't ask for details or information, she would just grieve with me. She would cry with me. She faithfully watched my kids for me each week for 4 months so I could go to counseling. She cooks me meals. She brought me flowers on Mother's Day. She made a piece of art with the verse that I have clung to during this process on it for my birthday. Her husband has come over to help with home repairs. Mallory has been a true friend and a safe place for me to grieve.  

My goal in telling you this is not to make much of Mallory. Although she is awesome. My goal in telling you this is to show you some of the many ways that God has carried me through this tragedy. He has used my sweet friend to remind me that He will meet my needs and to show me that I am not alone.  

When I post things on this blog, I think of two audiences: 1.those who are grieving and 2. those who are, or one day will be, walking with someone who is grieving. If you fall into group number 2, I hope that you will remember Mallory's example and be a blessing for those who are hurting.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hebrews 12

I have been reading through the book of Hebrews for about a month now. I love this book. I love how much it connects back to the Old Testament. I love how rich and deep each sentence is. I love how it so blatantly shows me that Jesus is best - better than angels, better than Moses, better than everything. He is best. It brings such comfort to my soul.

Early this week, I started working through chapter 12 and verse 12 caught my attention. "Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."

Words like "drooping", "weak" and "lame" are words I connected with. They describe my soul right now. And the word "healed" caused my heart to ache. I so desperately want healing. So I spent some time contemplating verse 12. But while my attention was captured by this verse, my heart and mind just could not wrap around its meaning. It was one of those moments where I understood all the words, but my spirit was wrestling to understand its deeper meaning.

To be honest, this led me to a sad place. In the past, when I wrestled with Scripture, I would go to Barry. We would read it together and talk about it. He would help me understand its meaning. I miss those times. I miss his wisdom. I miss him. Once again I found myself having to figure out another thing on my own.

I went into the study and started pulling commentaries off the shelves. While I did not have my beloved to help me, I did have the words of John Calvin and John Owen, two brilliant theologians, to help.

My study led me to this:
To understand verse 12, you have to go back to verses 3 and 4. "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

What helps me lift my drooping hands, strengthen my weak knees and not grow fainthearted is simple - I must consider Jesus. I must think on him and not myself. While I may have suffered, I have not suffered to the point of shedding blood. What keeps me going, what pushes me forward is thinking on him.

And I must "make straight paths" for my feet. I must do what is right, what is righteous. I must pursue holiness. In pursuing holiness, I protect myself from becoming lame - from becoming unable to walk in the land of the living because of sin. I must choose straight paths of righteousness, not the crooked path of sin.

In considering Jesus and pursuing righteousness I will be healed. Unfortunately, this is not a short process. It will not happen over-night. It will be a life long battle, but I know that in the end, there will be healing. As long as I know healing is coming, I can keep fighting.

"The constant consideration of Christ in his sufferings is the best means to keep up faith unto its due exercise in all times of trial." John Owen

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cooking

Time for a confession: I have not cooked a meal since Barry died. Yes, you read that correctly. I have not cooked a meal in almost 5 months. I know there are lots of people in the world who do not cook. I am not one of them. I love to cook. My mom started teaching me how to cook in elementary school. But for the past 5 months, I simply have had no desire to cook.

Now, there are some things you should know. When Barry passed away, the lovely women of Providence Church set up a meal schedule for me. Someone brought a meal to me everyday for the month of March. In April, I got 3 meals a week. In May, two meals. And during the months of June and July, I have gotten one meal a week. And these ladies are generous. Often times, the meals I receive can feed us for several days. (When you're only feeding one adult and 2 small kids, food can go a long way.) My sister and her husband also come over once a week to have dinner with the kids and I and they usually brig a meal with them. So, there has been no shortage of food in the Keldie house.

But, to be honest, cooking has also been a sad reminder of what I have lost. Everything I cooked was centered around Barry. The kids would be happy eating peanut butter sandwiches, chicken nuggets and fruit everyday. It is also strange to cook a meal for just me, when I have never, ever done that. In college, I cooked for roommates. I married Barry less than a month after graduating. So, I've always cooked for two or more. Cooking for one just sucks. So, I haven't had the motivation or desire to cook.

Sunday night, I decided it was time to cook again. I would love to say that I made a creative dinner for my kids and I, but that would be a lie. I waited until they went to bed to cook - I've learned to take things one step at a time for now. Juggling 2 small kids while cooking dinner at the end of a long day will be something I accomplish next week (or next month). I made my go-to meal of spaghetti and meat sauce. Nothing tricky or fancy for the first meal. I did use fresh herbs from my garden though!  

Dinner was decent. It did take a lot longer to make than it used to - I guess it will come more quickly with practice. But for me, I made one more small step on my journey of learning how to live life again. And it felt good. Now, if only someone would come and clean my kitchen...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Making Video Memories

In the weeks and months after losing Barry, my three-year-old son William would often talk about his daddy. He would tell stories of things we had done as a family. He would tell me all the different things he liked to do with his daddy. He would tell me things that Barry had said to him. William's memories were painful to listen to. I so desperately wanted William to keep these memories in his heart and struggled with a great fear and sadness that he might forget them. And then I had an idea...

I purchased a Flip Video camera and kept it with me where ever we went. When William would randomly start talking about his daddy, I would record what he said. I wanted William to be able to tell himself memories of his daddy. I know he will forget a lot of the memories he now has. And, hopefully, I will be around for a long time to tell him about his daddy and all the fun things we did together. But I also wanted him to hear memories form his own perspective.  

Since William is only three, most of his videos are about 5-10 minutes. He loves to make them. For some reason, he seems to talk about his daddy most at dinner time, so many of our videos are made right at the table. One of my favorite videos is of William telling me a story about Barry with a mouth full of food - it's going to be great to show him when he's older and easily embarrassed...

For those that are curious, this is one of William's non-food-chewing videos about his daddy.  

video

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 4th of July

A few weeks after Barry died, my mom asked me what holidays/occasions coming up in the next year I expected to be especially difficult. One of those holidays was the 4th of July. I have two very vivid, very sweet memories of celebrating that day with Barry.

On July 4, 2003, we were in Washington D.C. on a youth mission trip.  I loved that trip - in fact, it was one of my favorite trips we ever took. That specific group of kids and the leaders that went with us are very dear to my heart. We worked in a very rough, inner-city D.C. neighborhood cleaning a school's grounds and facilitating a VBS for some the poorest kids in one of the most violent neighborhoods in America. The night of July 4th, we sat out in the back of an old colonial house we were staying in and watched an amazing fireworks show. I don't know exactly what made it so special - whether is was the emotion of the work we were doing or the company of great friends and youth, but I can close my eyes and see sitting on that porch with Barry. It was a simple, sweet moment in time that I will forever cherish.

On July 4, 2008, we celebrated the holiday at a friends house. I don't remember much about the night - what we did or who was there. What I do remember is that William was about 18-months-old. We were pretty certain he would be afraid of the fireworks, but we wanted to try watching them anyways. Barry laid on his back in the grass and William laid on top of him, looking up at the sky. Every time a firework went off, Barry would say "BOOM!" and William would echo his "BOOM" and giggle. This went on for more than 20 minutes. It was one of those moments in time you treasure as a parent, watching your child experience something new and enjoy it immensely with their daddy.

This year, I dreaded the 4th of July. I missed Barry. I knew watching fireworks would never be the same. But, just like each day since he has died, God has been so generous and so faithful to carry me through the hard moments. This year, we went to some relatives' house to eat and set off our own fireworks (and just so you know, the owner of the house is also a fire chief at a fire department here in the metroplex - safety first!). It was a very sweet evening, celebrating with people who have been unbelievably supportive over the last 4 months. William and Layla spent hours wandering around the property, riding the golf cart and scooters and William even set off his first firework and had a blast playing with sparklers. Layla spent a good hour just cuddling in my lap  - something she usually never slows down enough to do.  

All in all, it was a great night. I missed Barry. I wish he could have seen William stand on a huge pile of dirt and sing and dance for the "audience" sitting around. I wish I could have held his hand while the fireworks went off, like I did in D.C. But instead, I had the pleasure of watching his son enjoy the evening, noticing that he is EXACTLY like his daddy. And I had the pleasure of holding his daughter, thankful for the gift of my kids and the legacy that God gave us in them.