Monday, February 18, 2013

Even If...

This has been a weird season. Derek left for Afghanistan the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  It was weird not having him and or family here to make the holidays fun and special. However, Faith and I managed to have fun and spent Christmas with a family from church.  As I mentioned before we really struggled making friends here in Washington. Derek, Faith and I wistfully made the long trek from Texas to Washington. We imagined all the friends we were going to make. That really didn't happen, at least not right away.

It was just recently that I sat back thinking about all the ways God has managed to change my  life in the last 20 months since we have moved to Tacoma.  The weekend we moved to Tacoma we Google'ed (how would we survive without Google, right!) Foursquare churches and Puget Sound Christian Center was the church that popped up over and over.  We attended that first weekend and we have been there nearly every weekend since.  At a glance looking at my family you would see a family dressed the part of faithful Christians attending church on the weekends with a smile on their faces.  However, all the while heading home to their grief and sadness.  As Derek and I worked through this grieving process it was as if God had a highlighter and showed us the path.  Amazingly enough PSCC was offering a grief share class last year and Derek and I decided it would be a great opportunity for us.  We learned, we grieved, and now we are beginning to put piece by piece of our life back together.  It is now that I can look back that I see how God had to strip certain areas of lives away (i.e. friends, comfort of home, warm weather) to bring us to a place where we could deal with the matters of our hearts.  We needed to be "alone" so as a family we could deal with our grief in a way that aloud us to grow.

I can say now that I have friends here in Tacoma.  I have met amazing people from church, from the running group Derek and I joined, and from the military.  I would say I have many acquaintances and a handful of amazingly close friends, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  God has placed friends in our path that have been so very compassionate and have helped Derek and I work through this difficult season.  The season has been so lonely but not lonely.  It doesn't seem that this thought makes any sense but truly it does.  What it really comes down to is in our darkest loneliest seasons God truly meets us where we are at...and eventually He sends others to love and support us. It is like the book of Daniel chapter 6 when the king tells Daniel to bow down to him and Daniel refuses, it as if he said to the king, "Even if." Even if you throw me in the lions den and I die, I will praise God. This season has been dark, lonely, and hard but friends life is worth the fight. God longs for us, He never gives up on us. Even if my whole world falls apart I will praise Him. Even if my son dies and I don't understand. Even if I move. Even if I long for the comfort and love of home. Even if I long for friends. Even If.

The Reese family truly happy. November 18, 2012. Even if life dishes out uncertain deployments.  Even If.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wherever Life May Lead Me

Hi friends, I have been so busy lately.  Derek has been on his last vacation before he leaves for Afghanistan.  I never thought I would be writing this but here it is...Life has been really amazing lately.  There isn't one thing that I can pin point and say has been my turning point.  Honestly I think it is a culmination of a whole bunch of things changing.  Derek and I have begun to make friends outside of the Army and from our church.  I have begun to crack away at my sadness, I don't know if it has been the amazing onset of lots of sunny days this summer or if it is just Jesus or likely both, but it is nice to not feel like you are just surviving from one day to the next day.  I realized this summer that I can be the person I am back at home right here in Washington where God has planted me for this season.  I used to think I could only be who I am with my friends back home.  At one point I longed for home.  I longed for my friends, I longed for my life I had back home.  Then it hit me, I realized I am worth people's time.  I have been so guarded and scared of people the last few years.  I have felt like the only people who would understand me are the people who walked with me through those tough and very dark times.  God has really placed it on my heart in the last few weeks that vulnerability begets vulnerability.  I have finally gotten to the place where I am somewhat okay being vulnerable with others.  This is a huge step for me since I am the type of person who prides themselves in having it all together. I think this has made it a little easier for Derek and I to put our walls down and friendships are beginning to bloom!  I am so grateful that there is life after death and that dark seasons allow for incredible opportunities for growth.  This summer has been such a time of growth and gratitude.  I wanted to leave y'all with a list of how incredibly blessed I have been this summer:

1. Derek and I have made a priority to have a date each Saturday, we have enjoyed spending time together running each week.
2. Faith has been developing such an amazing vocabulary and it is incredible to have actual conversations with her.
3.  Faith is my heart.  She is loving, kind, stubborn, and oh so wild.  She is so my child and she keeps me laughing!
4.  I have been able to speak my heart so much this summer and it has been like a healing salve to my soul!
5.  Derek and I have joined an amazing life group at church and are beginning to make friendships and are actually starting to put down roots.
6.  I am beginning to feel like life is amazing!
7. Derek and I are finding our love again.  It was never gone just trampled a bit by life's circumstances.
8. Washington is starting to feel like home for now.
9. This year I will have been able to visit my family and friends back home 4 times.
10.  The painful layers are being peeled away and life is becoming happy again!

Sometimes life requires a perspective change, prayerful insight, and  few moments taken to count our blessings.  So friends take some time today to reflect, find some insight, and count your blessings, because in the mist of it all life can still be good.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Strong Enough

Tomorrow is the the day that changed our families life forever.  The day that Derek and I chose to turn off the life support for our sweet Zechariah.  There have been many moments the last few days that I have had the urge to go and sit on the floor of the pantry and eat Oreos.  I however have not done that.  I have recognized my feelings and moved on.  I have not medicated those feelings with food.  I want to honor my son and his memory by being healthy, after all, he didn't have a choice in regards to his health, but I have a choice.  I have been choosing to live my truth as well as living a life where I am present and to do that it means feeling those painful feelings.

I truly believe Matthew West song "Strong Enough" describes my last few years.

I know I'm not strong enough to beeverything that I'm supposed to beI give upI'm not stong enoughHands of mercy won't you cover meLord right now I'm asking you to beStrong enoughStrong enoughFor the both of us
Well, maybeMaybe that's the pointTo reach the point of giving up
Cause when I'm finallyFinally at rock bottomWell, that's when I start looking upAnd reaching out
I know I'm not strong enough to beEverything that I'm supposed to beI give upI'm not stong enoughHands of mercy won't you cover meLord right now I'm asking you to beStrong enoughStrong enough
Cause I'm brokenDown to nothingBut I'm still holding on to the one thingYou are Godand you are strongWhen I am weak
I can do all thingsThrough Christ who gives me strengthAnd I don't have to beStrong enoughStrong enough
I can do all thingsThrough Christ who gives me strengthAnd I don't have to beStrong enoughStrong enough

Good news is God is truly strong enough to meet my needs, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  I just need to believe that God has not forgotten me, which I do, but in the midst of the excruciating pain it has been easy to forget.  I choose to remember that when the rains and storms come there is always a rainbow at the end of it all.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2 years, 92 pounds, and a New Lease on Life

In 6 short days it will be have been 2 years since our sweet Zechariah passed away.  In the last few weeks I have been trying to focus on how far I have come in the last 2 years.  It has been painful.  God has allowed so many aspects of my life to be stripped away so I can learn to be truly dependent on Him.  I have had to rely on God in so many aspects of my life especially in the last 2 years but one aspect I am truly proud of is the journey to health I have walked through.  In the last 2 years I have lost 92 pounds (somewhere between 92-95, depending on the week).  It has been a hard.  Weight loss is hard.  Learning to cope without a vice is hard.  Learning how to stop emotionally eating has been the hardest lesson for me.  I love to eat.  I love to eat when I am happy, sad, mad, angry, you name it I love food for all reasons.  I am truly recovering from a food addiction.  I have had to realize that I need to start facing my stuff instead of stuffing my face.  Zechariah has been the driving force for this huge change in my life.  I remember sitting on airplane heading back to my home in Texas after Zech's funeral thinking life is going to be different.  I am going to be different.  It was then I realized that Zechariah didn't have a choice about his heart, his health or his life, BUT I DO, I HAVE A CHOICE!  So I chose my health.  I took my life back.  I got so many rewards in the process; I got my health back, I was able to have skin removal surgery, I became confident in who I am as a person, gained confidence in my body and living in my own skin, and I gained fitness.  I am now a person who longs for my morning cycling classes, Saturday runs, and a life full of happiness and health!

It has been amazing to watch my body and life change.  It is truly amazing to see how your life can change with a lot of hard work, dedication, prayer, and commitment.  As the 2 year mark of Zech's death approach's in 6 days, I can rest assured knowing that his life was not lived in vain.  His life was a catalyst for change in my life and my families life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Running To Remember

16 weeks, that is the approximate amount of weeks that this family has until Derek goes to Afghanistan.  Derek and I don't spend much time alone together because we don't have family in Washington, we have many acquaintances but very few friends here so we definitely lack in the babysitting department.  Derek and I had been have been talking a lot recently about spending more time together and have realized that over the course of our marriage we have had so little help that we have neglected our marriage.  It wasn't something that happened purposely, I think it is something that happened out of life's circumstances and to some extent it is the price we pay for moving often with the military. In an attempt to have more one on one time together Derek and I have trying to find new ways to spend time alone together.  Last month Derek and I did the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Down and Dirty Mud Run Series.  It was so fun!  There is nothing like running with your best friend and acting like real life G.I Joe's (I guess I should say I get to act like a G.I Joe, Derek is a real life G.I Joe)!  

Mud Run!  Derek and I holding our participant coins!

Derek and I enjoy running together, and our love for the outdoors, as well as running and hiking is something that we have always had in common.  So, in my effort to spend more time with my hubby I planned a date for us each and every Saturday.  I signed Faith up for hourly daycare for 2 hours each Saturday and Derek and I joined a running group.  We joined a group in DuPont, Washington called Wear Blue:Run to Remember. The group was founded by Lisa Hallett.  In 2009 Lisa lost her husband in Afghanistan.  In an effort to survive her loss she turned to running.  She found that there was a need among the military community, a need for support and a way to deal with grief and way to move on.  So each Saturday Run to Remember gathers at a park in DuPont and the names of the fallen soldiers for that week are read off, a prayer is said, and a sea of blue shirts run through the streets of DuPont.  Each Saturday Run to Remember runners run with the purpose of remembering the fallen, the fighting and the families. (Run to Remember is actually spreading nationwide and chapters are popping up all over the United States.)

Wearing Blue, Running to Remember!

Last Saturday as Derek and I ran through the beautiful town of DuPont, Washington, I thought about the fallen, those I know who are in Afghanistan fighting right now, and I thought about my family.  Because the fact of the matter is, as a military family, it could be me.  It could be me answering the door to 2 soldiers standing there on my doorstep to deliver unthinkable news.  So, it is my honor to lace up my shoes, put on my blue shirt and to run each and every Saturday.  It is my honor to remember.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Transitioning and Finding Balance

Hi friends, it has been a while since I have blogged. Life has been in such a transition these last nearly 2 years. We have lived in Washington for a year now and I would love to say we have adjusted and life is wonderful, however, that isn't the case. My family is in such a weird place and it was only until recently after having a conversation with my in-laws that I realize what it is that has been so hard for us. I was having a heart to heart with my mother and father in-law and I was able to share my heart. They aren't Christians so they don't understand our life from that regard however, I was able to tell them how lonely we are. My mother in-law understood where I was coming from but my father in-law didn't quite get it. I think the issue for us has been there is really no one that understands what we are going through, not even our families. We have been so lonely, in the last nearly 2 years since Zech's death. We have walked this life after Zech's death pretty much alone. Very rarely has our family or friends called to check on us. I have one friend from California that has called regularly but other than that we have lived a life that has been falling apart piece by precious piece. Putting together the pieces of our life back together has been the hardest thing we have ever done, especially alone. We are a military family, we lost a child, Derek is going to Afghanistan, and moving away from Texas and all the people that walked through Zech's death with us has been heartbreaking. Since moving people have often said they know someone who is a military family and the husband is deployed, or they know someone who has lost a child. I can appreciate those people and them wanting to be kind but the truth is my life is compounded by the military, the loss of a child, and truly not having any friends here in Washington. I have a lot of acquaintances but I have not made any friends here, no one to have coffee with, hang out with, shop with, go to a movie with. I don't say this to make you feel sorry for me, it is just a lonely place. This place in life is lonely. I have realized lately especially with the day of Zechariah's death approaching that I have been stress eating and my weight has been going up and down. Don't get me wrong it has only been 5 pounds or so and I am still hitting the gym but I have been dealing with my feelings with food. As those feelings of Zech's death begin to suffocate me, the memories begin to crush me, the thoughts and flashbacks of holding him as he took his last breaths, the feelings of how we chose to turn the life support off, the thoughts of what would happen if something happened to Faith, those thoughts have had me running to the fridge or snack cabinet. I have to chose better for my life rather than being swallowed by sadness and sorrow. I have to chose health because my little Zech didn't have a choice. I am rather proud though that I can recognize what I am doing...stress eating. So I realize now that this season has been the darkest season. It has tested my faith, broken my heart, and shattered my dreams. However, I am choosing to remember that God is still good, and instead of food, I will pray, exercise and reach out more. Life will get better, and God has not forgotten me, even though at times it has felt like He has. Hug your children a little tighter friends, because life is so precious.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Refreshing

So dear friends, I am back.  I have been going through the hardest season of my entire life thus far.  My crazy way of dealing with hard things is to keep to myself.  Kinda the whole, "if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all."  I didn't have really anything bad to say but more or less a lot of complaining, and nobody wants a Debbie Downer in the bunch.

It has taken awhile for God to really strip the layers of my onion back to reveal my true feelings about Zechariah's death.  It has truly been a heart wrenching season.  I have really realized though that I have been doing everything in my strength.  I have been running from God.  I basically have been acting like a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum.  We have been in a stand off.  What I should really say is I have been in a stand off.  I have felt so much hurt, disappointment, anger, resentment, and bitterness.  I have let it rule my thought life, spiritual life, physical life, basically everything.  I have let stress affect my life so much that physically my body has taken a beating.

The last few weeks have been eye opening for me.  God has really spoken to me through his word for the first time in a long time. The first scripture that really spoke to me from last nights reading.

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

I have not come to God recently for rest.  I have not given Him my burdens.  I have not taken on His yoke and learned from Him.  Nope I have not done any of those things.  I have held onto my hurt, my resentment, and especially my anger.  The second verse that really spoke to me this morning went along with what I had been thinking on all weekend.

"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.  You brood of vipers, how can you say anything good?  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  A man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  Matthew 12:33-35

Saturday we went to Mount St Helens.  As you drive up to the farthest point in which you can drive we began to find snow still up at the top.  I saw dry brushes coming up out of the snow but I also saw new growth.  This has been the driest most difficult "winter" season of my life.  However, I have been reminded that after dark depressing rough winters spring always comes.  I have been thinking on my "fruit" and what the out pouring of my heart has been speaking.  My heart has certainly not been speaking well of life as of lately. I want to bring out good things that are stored in me not evil.  So where do I go from here?  For now, I dig back into God's word and I wait. I begin claiming God's promises over my life again each and everyday.  I believe that God has his best in store for me!   I wait anticipating a new season to come.  I am waiting for life to flourish again!  I chose rest, peace, joy, and surrender, all these things after all are choices.