Our Journey to A New Normal

http://ourjourneytoanewnormal.blogspot.com

My husband was suddenly taken from us on 11/5/11, the result of a tragic accident at a job site. My strong faith in the LORD has sustained me and our children through these first couple unbelievable months.

Sheila is a winner of Top 25 Moms with Inspiring Families - 2012

How does blogging help you deal with challenges?

Blogging helps me to deal with challenges as it is really serving as my on-line public journal of my real-time private life! Though I do strive to be transparent on my blog, I also desire to point others to Christ so that Rick's death not be in vain. If others are added to the kingdom through his legacy and my testimony, then I can see a purpose in all of this. So as I blog most days, I make myself look not only inward at what might have been "wrong" with the day, but I also look upward to see how many times God MET me throughout the day. It never fails, that as I turn my thoughts upward rather than inward, I am renewed and restored! God reminds me of all the little, and sometimes not so little, ways that HE has met me and carried me throughout that particular day. After Rick's death, I commented to my mom that I had always admired ladies who spoke at events, wrote books and/or blogged and had a "story" to tell. I always felt that my life was pretty normal and "boring" - raised in a Christian home, pretty good girl, never got in much trouble, never did drugs or drank alcohol, never smoked a cigarette . . . !! After Rick's accident, my mom said to me, "Well, now God gave you a story to tell, didn't He?" So, as I face the many challenges that are new to me, living "alone", being "alone", being a single mom, juggling 3 children, 2 step children, 5 grandchildren, a full-time job, and the day-to-day "living" that I must do, blogging has become my outlet! It seems that just putting things down on "paper" puts them into a better perspective - I can re-read what I've written and often I see things much more clearly. God has spoken to me through what I have written and I have seen my faith in Him grow in ways I never imagined. I learned that He really is my everything and He is up to EVERY challenge that I face. I think I've really been able to draw closer to Him through my daily challenges by putting them down in writing - and looking for the "silver lining" that DOES exist - sometimes it's just under thicker clouds than other times! I know that my challenges will change as time goes on and life moves forward. The challenges of today will be gone and replaced by new ones. I think that by being able to "blog" them, I'm able to be transparent, to let others see what is going on in my life. Sometimes, I am encouraged by others that my challenges are completely "normal" and a normal part of the process, and sometimes my challenges serve as a help to others. Either way, God is working - through the good, the bad, and yes, some days, even the ugly!

What's a book or song that has inspired you?

Oh my, to name "A" book or "A" song that has inspired me would be nearly impossible! First and foremost, the BIBLE truly is my inspiration. If it were not for the recorded words of God, through the Holy Spirit and Godly men of old, I don't know how I would survive! The truths contained in scripture sustain me on a daily basis. Since I was a teenager and a group of friends and I sat around a campfire discussing Psalm 139, it has been one of my favorite passages in the Bible! I always loved how it reminded me that there is NOWHERE that I can go to escape God's love for me. It also reminds me that He cares about every single detail of my life - even down to the number of hairs on my head! After Rick's death, verses 15 & 16 have been VERY precious to me:
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
These verses speak to my heart and inspire me - the wonderful promise that as we were being formed in our mother's womb, HE was there - He KNEW and He SAW!! ALL the days ordained for me were written in Your Book . . . BEFORE one of them came to be. So even though, in my mind, on November 5 Rick had an "accident", he really didn't! God ORDAINED the days written for him (Rick) before even one of them came to be! If THAT is not inspiring, nothing is!
I have always struggled to maintain a "daily devotional" schedule, yet since Rick's death, it has been a LIFELINE for me. I'm currently really enjoying going through my "Jesus Calling" devotional by Sarah Young. Through the years, I have also very much enjoyed Karen Kingsbury's books, and often find myself relating to one or another of the characters she has created as I go through my daily walk. Though I can't sing to save my life, I love music! I have a wide variety of music on my iPhone at the moment ranging from worship, to Christian rap (I have teenagers!) to Taylor Swift and Owl City. It seems that even in the secular genre, the Lord speaks to me, sometimes on a spiritual level and sometimes just on a level reminding me that life CAN be fun again! I also find myself drawn to the "old-fashioned" hymns that I grew up hearing and learning. So often the words and the truths contained in them will pop into my mind. Reminders of the unending love of my Heavenly Father. GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS, LORD UNTO ME!

After a particularly rough day, how do you raise your spirits?

To say that I've had some "rough" days in the past 4+ months would be putting it mildly! How do you lose your BEST FRIEND, the Daddy of your children, the Papa to the precious grand children, your "knight in shining armor" and not have rough days? Though the obvious reason for them being rough is the empty spot in our home, there are so many other factors that contribute to a day being "rough". I am now the single mom of 3 (almost) teenagers (my youngest will be 13 in June, my oldest will graduate in May). I'm also the step-mom to 2 wonderful grown up children who have spouses and children of their own (precious grand-babies). I daily ache for these 5 precious souls who have lost their Daddy. For the 5 precious grand-babies who have lost their Papa and won't really remember much about him. I work full-time outside of the home and struggle to maintain a balance between work/home-life/bill paying and survival! Shortly after Rick's death, some friends mentioned their desire to exercise, so we started an "accountability group". I have come to find that on a particularly rough day, I now truly look forward to coming home, putting on my exercise clothes and hitting the treadmill, or more recently, the roads on a run or bike ride. I especially enjoy exercising outdoors after a rough day. Out there, it's me, the music on my iPhone and GOD! It's then that I can LISTEN to HIM speaking to me while all those endorphins are kicking in and on my body - physically and mentally. Rick LOVED the outdoors - he was an AVID hunter (that's putting it mildly), so I feel closer to him when I am outside as well! I am probably in the best physical shape I've been in my whole life, and I'm closer to God than I have EVER been before, I guess I could say I owe it to the "rough" days! God has also blessed me with WONDERFUL friends. Some are friends who I've had pretty much all my life, some who have been around since I was a teen-ager, some who became friends through church and having babies, and even more recently, some who I've "met" here on the internet who've walked this journey of widow-hood as well. God has strengthened and renewed some friendships and I find that depending on the situation that has caused me to have a rough day, HE sends just the right friend at just the right time. HE sends who HE knows I need to speak truth to me, to set my thoughts back on the right path, and sometimes just to let me have a little "pity party" for myself and understand! I honestly can say that I am praising God in this storm as the "rough" days have been few, and there seem to be less and less of them. HE has given me just WHAT and just WHO I need just when I need it - to raise me up through the rough days that are bound to happen! He has also taught me so much about myself and how I want to be able to love people better. How I want to be an encouragement to others who are going through their own "rough days"!