Saying Good-bye Is Hard

Family

My Jazzy is dying. For anyone who has lost a beloved pet, you know the grief is real.

It’s been hard to watch her health deteriorate. She was diagnosed with advanced stages of liver disease back in June. Her pancreas is also diseased. We’ve tried medications and diet changes in the hopes of regenerating her liver, but these things haven’t worked so we suspect cancer. We’re just making her as comfortable as possible. We called the vet yesterday and talked about the difficult decision to euthanize because sometimes it’s really the most loving thing to do.

I’ve read some dogs can hang on for days at the end of their lives, but when I look at Jazzy I know she has no quality of life left. There’s no joy in her eyes. The things that used to make her light up don’t phase her anymore. Her breathing is labored. She’s not eating or drinking. She can no longer stand up. She barely moves. Breaks my heart.

I’m only sharing this because there are several other things going on in my life causing me emotional discomfort. For those of you who read my blog you know I’m not one to sugar coat my feelings. One of the things that dog experts advise when a family pet is dying: Don’t let your dog sense how upset you are…

Do you know how hard this is for someone who’s wired to feel all the feels?!? To let it all out?!? To express herself without holding back?!? Get real. I’m sad and that’s all there is to it. BUT, for Jazzy’s sake I’m taking my tears to the next room and letting them flow. What Jazzy gets from me right now are soft strokes across her bony back and soothing words of comfort, It’s okay, Jazzy. It’s okay to leave us. We’re sad to see you go, but you’ve loved us well. You’ve been loyal and faithful and sometimes completely zany, but you’ve served your purpose in life. It’s okay to say good-bye.

In all honesty, my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride since December when I began experiencing health issues, which I’ve recently shared here on the blog. It’s just no fun not feeling well. Not feeling my best. Not feeling like myself.

In the process of riding the ups and downs of this rollercoaster, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and I’ve made a decision.

I’m saying good-bye to my blog.

I’m not saying good-bye to writing because writing is therapeutic for me, but I don’t believe this blog is all it could be. It needs rethinking and maybe I’ll come back in a few months with a brand new design. Change isn’t such a bad thing. Change is good. But sometimes…in order to make those changes we have to say good-bye to the things that have lost their quality of life. Things that have served their purpose for a season but no longer bear fruit.

I don’t write to gain followers as much as I write to share how God is working in the every day of my life. There’s always the hope that someone, somewhere, will find their way here and read something encouraging, uplifting, inspiring. But after 3 years I just don’t see a lot of fruit.

I’ve been struggling with this as I ride this rickety old coaster. There’ve been times it’s even made me sick to my stomach ’cause I love writing. Even when experiencing writer’s block I still wanted to write!

There’s so much more I could be doing to make this blog better and I’m so technically challenged…what can I say? I tried one time to add some plug-ins and ended up in tears. I was so traumatized I couldn’t get on my computer for days, but I can’t be afraid to change! I want change, need change, welcome change because making changes can often produce a more fruitful work.

I think sometimes we get stuck and I don’t want to be stuck. I want to have the courage to  learn. To grow. Sometimes we have to allow God to change us before we can be someone who can affect change in others.

That’s the real beauty of writing, sharing, and journaling my thoughts for all the world to see. I don’t want my writing to be just another expression of myself. I want it to motivate. To move and touch and stir the hearts of others to walk more closely with God. He may very well have another ministry in mind for me other than writing. Who knows?

Sometimes to do the things we want the most we have to give up some things we love. Things we try to hold onto more tightly than we should. We need to learn when to let go. And the irony of that is, sometimes we have to surrender the very things we think we’re called to do. The gift of words, whether writing or speaking or teaching, is a calling. But I can’t make it happen no matter how hard I try.

Only through surrender can God bring a calling to life. And it may not look like anything I think it should look like. God’s dreams for me are way bigger, better, and more beautiful than anything I could dream up on my own.

I’ve been preparing myself for a month of deeper soul-searching in September. I’ll be fasting and seeking the heart of God. I’m deactivating my Instagram and Facebook accounts from September 1-October 1. I won’t be renewing my WordPress account. After September 13, my blog will be completely deleted. It’s time for change and I’m going to prepare my heart to receive it.

I’ll continue to write for the Community Facebook Page I share with Sherry French, Reflections On The Word. For those who’d like to continue reading my devotions, my ponderings and musings, you can always follow me there. But please ‘like’ the page to receive updates in your feed.

Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/reflectionontheword

(I’ll be back on Instagram October 1. I often write mini devotions there, too. You can find me at @gracedtolive. I love posting my photos and bringing them to life with words and I just looooove the IG Community!)

Anyway, I have a sweet friend who needs me today…yes, I’m talking about my Jazzy.

Saying good-bye is hard, but so is change. It’s going to take a while for me to get used to the absence of her presence in our home. The way she greeted me at the door with her little stub of a tail twitching and wriggling. The way she bounded over furniture and ran up and down the stairs. The way she watched over the house and barked at everything that moved. The way she protected me and mostly…mostly…for the way she loved me, even when I wasn’t very lovable.

Jazzy never met a stranger in her life and when she’s gone, I suspect she’ll never be a stranger to my heart. Even so, there’s still room for change there. In that place where I want to hold onto her more tightly than I should, I know it’s time to let go.

So, I will say good-bye. And really. It’s okay.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Making Peace With My Lawnmower

IMG_3269

I like to mow grass.

So sue me.

Back when I was in my thirties and forties I even mowed grass for my neighbors. I was stronger then. Now I just mow for myself. (And my hard-working husband, of course.) I’m not as young as I used to be, but I think mowing grass helps keep me ‘young…-er’.

I look at it like this: I’m not a member of a gym. I don’t lift weights. I don’t treadmill, row, or bike. I need an aerobic workout. Mowing grass gives me that.

I wish I could cut grass all year long, but the mowing season is short-lived in these parts. Some people might think the season is lo-o-o-o-ng, but 4 months out of a 12-month year is only a quarter. Forget mowing in a summer drought. No need to mow fried grass.

I can remember when the thought of cutting grass petrified me. You wouldn’t catch me pushing a lawn mower around. No way. I didn’t even want to be in the same yard with a roaring mower. The only thing about it that bothers me these days is when I see dads mowing their yards while their child pushes a toy mower behind them. I guess they think it’s cute. Or teaching them something. Makes me cringe. I want to stop and yell, “Get your child in the house NOW!! What do you think you’re doing?!? This is dangerous and I’m living proof!”

Seriously, there’s nothing ‘cute’ about the power of a machine with the potential to shoot out rocks and debris like a shotgun. I’ve got 2 broken window panes to prove it. The holes look just like bullet holes.

AND. I’ve got a prosthetic eye to add all the remaining proof you may need.

When people ask me how I lost my eye, I usually tell them, “In a backyard accident as a child,” and that’s enough to satisfy them. Occasionally, someone will press me for more info. I don’t mind talking about it anymore. There’s no pain or discomfort. I’ve made peace with it all. If I hadn’t, these words, “I like to mow grass,” would not even enter my mind. But, yes…

I’ve made peace with my lawnmower.

Funny thing is…that backyard accident wasn’t anyone’s fault. Not my Dad’s. Not my Mom’s. Not mine. It was a FREAK accident. Unusual. Atypical. Irregular. Unexpected. 

Rare.

It was one of those things that doesn’t happen to just anyone. Or in every backyard.

It was one of those things that happened to me. In MY backyard.

I wasn’t following my Dad around with a toy lawn mower as he cut the grass. I wasn’t even running around the yard. My Mom and I were sitting on a bench outside our back porch steps, letting the rays of the summer sun beat down on us. All was calm. All was bright.

All was peaceful.

My Dad was mowing on the other side of the driveway. We had a gravel driveway back then and sometimes the rocks would get lost in the grass.

Funny how life is so freakish sometimes.

When the unusual happens in the ordinary.

When the atypical happens in the common.

When the irregular happens in the constant. 

When the unexpected happens in the assumed. 

When in the middle of calm and bright and peaceful life freaks you out. 

And a lawnmower became a symbol to a little girl of all that’s agitating. All that’s threatening.

All that is disquieting.

But see…here’s the thing, and I’ll make this simple…we all have things that have become ‘symbols’ of what’s wrong in our lives. For me, for so long, it was a lawnmower. And I had to make peace with it.

The only way I could do that was to make peace with God first. And that meant surrender. First of all, of course, was surrender to the gift of grace through Jesus. Then, there was the surrender to His will, His way, His plan, His purpose. For me.

When the freakish things in life rear their ugly heads and rocks in the grass become weapons of destruction I’ve had to learn that surrendering to God first means letting Him in my backyard where, YES!, even the unusual happens. The atypical. The irregular and the unexpected. The places where I’m usually the most comfortable. The most familiar. The most peaceful.

And it means surrendering the symbols that represent what’s wrong in my heart and soul. God wants all of me so He can make what’s wrong right. Like the freakish things of life. He turns them from ‘rare’ to ‘remarkable.’

God entrusted this to me. This rare and unexpected thing. It happened to me because He knew I could handle it. He knew I would surrender it all. My heart. My soul. My mind. My strength. 

He knew I would make peace with a prosthetic eye. And my lawnmower.

And instead of it being a symbol of weakness. It would become a symbol of strength.

IMG_3391

It would become a workout.

Not just to build physical strength. But to build character.

You know, my ocularist-the man who made my eye, said something like this to me at my last visit, “I think it’s hard for people who’ve lost an eye to talk about it because it’s rare. They feel alone. Their personalities have a lot to do with how they handle it. For some, it’s very painful. For others, it doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal, but because they’re all different, how they handle it will be unique to each one individually.”

I’d like to think I’m handling it well these days. Not for me.

For my God.

Because He thinks I can handle a lawnmower just fine. And you know what else?

He knew I would one day actually like to mow grass.

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:12, 16