GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

To the friends and family of the new widow


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My last post was to the young widow and there will probably be a part two but now I want to focus on the friends and family of the young widow, there will probably be a part two to this as well.

These are some things to do and not to do – I stress not because you cannot bombard the young widow with questions, inane requests or questions. What you might consider helpful, to the young widow, usually is not. Remember our loss is different than if you had lost a parent, grandparent or even a child. Each loss is unique and with that I’m going on what helped me.

So the top of my list would be gifts – money and/or gift cards. I cannot say how much gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores and/or gas cards helped me in those first weeks and months. Giving a Pizza Hut gift card means I could go online order a pizza or two and soda, have it delivered and never once have to leave my house. Gas cards for the many trips to the funeral home, church and cemetery we’ll be making over the next several days and weeks. Grocery gift cards allow a friend to pick us up stuff without having to worry about giving them money and change, etc. and when we feel like going to the grocery we don’t have to worry about our check book dwindling – this was a MAJOR worry until I could access my husband’s bank account and began receiving benefits in March (3 months AFTER his passing).

Set up a Take Them A Meal or a Meal Train. Again this is something that tops my list! Meals that we don’t have to plan, prepare or think of. If you can include enough for leftovers for lunch and maybe even breakfast, even if it’s cereal and some milk. Don’t forget toilet paper and paper towels! Seriously, this is stuff I couldn’t begin to think we needed let alone wanted. If the person’s church or their children’s activities director isn’t setting something up – do it! Even if you don’t know them well, if you find a new widow isn’t having food brought to her house, set it up! The nice thing is even if you can’t make a meal and take you can have food sent, a little costly, but well worth it and appreciated. One friend who lived quite a distance from me order a Bob Evans take out meal, I ran in real quick to pick it up. All was paid for and it was home in minutes for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day.

To go along with the second idea – DO NOT call, text or email the widow asking what she wants or needs. I had absolutely no, zero, nada, idea of what I needed let alone what I wanted. There should be 1 – one, uno, contact person. If the person who is setting up the meal train, they should find out what meals the family enjoys, allergies and list those on the site so that those signing up to take a meal does not bombard the widow with these questions. If there can’t be one contact person then a friend or family member needs to be appointed point of contact or even two people. Trust me, we have enough to deal with with having to pick out an outfit for our husband, making sure the details are correct, writing the obituary, meeting with the funeral director and the cemetery people which are usually two separate meetings, and taking care of the children.

Going along with the previous idea – DO NOT call, text or email to ask what you can do, what can you bring, etc. The majority of us will be in shock, especially if the passing of our husband is sudden and unexpected, we can barely think of what has to happen next let alone what things you might be thinking of. Our world is upside down – literally and figuratively. Contact their church, a mutual friend, a family member, etc but try to keep your contact minimal. Let them know you’re thinking and praying for them by sending a condolence card, on Facebook, text, email or phone call BUT do not ask, at least right away, what they need.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt” UGH! Please, please think before you speak. What you might think is helpful, may not be. I had one person while I was standing in the receiving line tell me I was young and could re-marry. WHAT!? Really? Or he’s in a better place. Yes, but I’m not focusing on that, I want him here with me and the children. He’s not suffering. Sure, but again I want him here! Many of us don’t know what to say, and you know what, it’s okay to admit that. I would have much rather heard, “I don’t know what to say and I’m sorry, you’re in our thoughts and prayers” than some of the “helpful” words spoken.

I’ll leave it at that for now, I’m not saying all these things are true for every single widow across the board BUT these are things that did help or would have helped me in the first days of widowhood. I’m sure there will be another post – things about when to say widow in front of her, talking about her husband, etc but for now this is a start.

 

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To the new widow (especially the young one)


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I received word last night that another husband passed away – he was young, it was sudden and unexpected. Another fellow blogger also lost her husband suddenly the other day. Then there was the friend of my husband. 3 widows in just a short span of time. It seems, like my husband, two were taken by a heart attack and one by a blood clot in the lungs – their wives and children’s lives turned upside down in minutes.

I want to write this to the new widow, especially the young ones, that may still have children at home. I’m not discounting the elderly widow or those young ones without children at home, but with all things there are certain dynamics that come with being a young widow with children at home.

First, there will be a light at the ‘end’ of the tunnel. I know it’s hard to see or even want to hear that, believe me I know. There will come a day when you begin to feel alive again and when that day comes you will also feel guilty. Guilty because maybe that means you’re forgetting him? Guilty because you’re the one still alive? Guilty just to feel guilty.

Please know it’s okay to tell family and friends to leave you alone, to go away. Sometimes you just need that time with your children. As much as our friends and family mean well and love us – it is okay to tell them bye and just BE.

It’s also okay to admit that you don’t know what you or your children want or need. I had so many people, who wanted to help us, ask me what we needed, what we wanted. I honestly couldn’t answer that. The first few days and weeks are a fog, you’re mind is going a thousand a million miles per second – you won’t know if you’re out of toilet paper or if you need milk. That is where your friends and family come in, let them enter your home go through your cupboards, your fridge, bathroom and see what you need. I know to those who aren’t going through the loss of a husband can’t fathom that, letting friends and family go through your house, unthinkable. You are just trying to get through the day, walking with your children and going to the store becomes your unthinkable.

Don’t say you’re okay – I learned that even when it shocked people – admitting I wasn’t okay helped ME. When I finally went to the grocery store for the first time and the cashier asked how I was, I honestly said not good, and told her about Don. She was shocked by my honesty. I’m no longer afraid of being honest – if they can’t handle the truth that is their issue, not yours. If you’re not okay or if you are okay, be honest, it will help you face those feelings.

Make sure to proof read the obituary before letting the funeral home submit it to the paper. I regret this. There were errors in my husband’s leading some to think that we had expected him to pass away – if I had been of sound mind I would have caught that and had it removed.

During the visitation, it is okay to sit. I tried to stand for hours, thankfully a friend and my mom noticed that I wasn’t doing well and forced me to sit. I sat as the hundreds of people filtered through. I don’t care what they thought, some didn’t even know there was a widow! I wouldn’t have done my children any good by passing out in front of my husband’s casket. Sit if you need to sit, cry if you need to cry and even exit the visitation area for a few moments. Don’t worry what others will say – this is about you and your children. I know some didn’t like it that I didn’t make my children stand next to the casket and receive visitors instead I let them ramble around the church with their friends. They’d come up to Don and then leave again – that is what they needed.

Reach out – I wish I had had a younger widow to reach out too – the ones that I know are elderly with adult children. If you can find a younger widow who has walked this road is walking this road (we’ll always be walking this road) that can help. We can know that you’ll want to remember your husband, hear his name, cry. We’ll know that you need silence and someone to just hold you or hold your child(ren) while you hide under the covers. If you don’t know of another young widow, maybe your pastor does or the funeral home or a loss support group.

Grieve your way. If that means you need a support group, join one. If that means you need to stay in and cry, do it. Many well meaning people told me to get into a support group, I didn’t. That is what I needed. I take on other peoples grief and I couldn’t do that and I still can’t. It was suggested for me to go to a widow’s group – I didn’t do that either as most were elderly and I’m in a totally different stage. Maybe some day. If you need a group, if you don’t, both are fine.

Don’t let others tell how you how you should feel – I’ve had some tell me what they’d do in my situation. Ignore them! They don’t know and I pray they never do. If you laugh over a funny memory, don’t let someone tell you you shouldn’t be laughing (there is a time to weep and a time to laugh). If all you do is cry, then cry. If you need to scream, scream. There is no timeline – even though I’m 18 months out doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I think Don will be coming home soon, or waiting for a phone call, and so on. If I hear Toto on the radio.

Basically, grieve your way – you’ve loved this man for years, you’ve had children together and now it’s gone. I won’t lie, you’ll be lonely at night as you search for his body in your bed, you’ll long for another adult to talk to once all the company goes back to their lives, you’ll try calling his cell or work number only to be brought back to reality. You are going to be lonely, if there is a friend or family member who can stay with you, accept it. It’s not the same thing but they can be there.

Lean on the Lord – His presence is there, it may not be a physical, human presence but He is there. He can take your questions, He can take your anger and He will comfort you and your children. I still get angry some days – I question why so and so is still alive and Don isn’t. Why the couple who is divorcing is throwing it all away. I even get jealous – friends kissing their husbands, couples holding hands at events. The Lord can take it – He knows your pain, He knows your children’s pain – He will take it all upon Him, He can’t take it away only His return can spare us that, but He can comfort us.

There is so much more I could write, but I know that one’s mind can only hold so much especially in the time of grief. Please, reach out to me, if you don’t know of any other young widows, I’d love to come along side you and just listen.

 

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Been MIA


This post won’t contain pictures – it’s not because I don’t want it too but because I’m simply trying to keep up with our lives.

June 13, 2016 marked 1 1/2 year of me being a widow – you can read some of my thoughts on that here, I wrote it before the mark. A friend of my husband’s passed away this week – he was 44 and he left behind three children and a wife. There are times the scabs get ripped off and start oozing again. I could not bring myself to go to his visitation, I’ll send a card to his widow and children.

There are times I want to quit everything – church, school, activities, all. of. it! I just want to stay inside, cuddle in my bed and have my children with me and just, BE. There are times that I put on my smiling face because no one wants to really hear about our troubles, my worries for the future and so on. I’m just weary of everything – it’s not so much depression as it is self-preservation.

I want to stop but then I know if I do – even for a moment – things will come crashing down, emotions I don’t want to feel, tears I don’t want to fall, raw pain that I don’t want to deal with. So I stay busy, so busy that by 7 or 8 p.m. I fall into bed exhausted so I can fall to sleep and not let thoughts plague me – of course the nightmares come. So I guess it’s counter-productive.

I’m realizing I haven’t grieved fully.

I’m realizing that I’ve gone through the motions and it seems the more I go through the motions the more numb I become.

I’ve realized what family and what friends I can count on and there are those I can’t, and it hurts. Those that have helped and continue to do so, thank you, that isn’t what hurts. The hurt comes from those who think I should be the one to call, to reach out if I need something. If someone lost a parent, we wouldn’t require them to be the ones to reach out, would we? So why should a widow? There is family who wonders why we don’t come around much – it goes both ways and I can’t be the one to make the effort all the time.

My son recently confided to me that he gets scared when I’m asleep. I guess apparently I sleep so soundly that you can’t see my chest rise and fall. Being the child that found his dad, you can imagine how scary it is for him. So I’ve had to give him permission at any time he gets scared and doesn’t see my breathing, to wake me up. This isn’t an easy feat, my husband hated waking me up too, I’m a heavy sleeper for the most part. I’ve assured him and all of them they can wake me.

That is our lives. I even check on the children more now than I did when they were babes. If I get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night I’ll check on them – and hold my breath until they either move or I see their chest move.

We take for granted we’ll be there in the morning – our lives no longer allow us to do that – sad for me to learn and even more sad for such young children to learn.

We’ve gone through our 2nd Father’s Day and we’re going into our 2nd Fourth of July – my mom is thinking of buying me a grill so we’ll probably do something low key at home. My son doesn’t want to see fireworks, I’m okay with that. My oldest had her 2nd set of ear tubes put in this week and so she’s sensitive to sound. We’ve got smoke bombs and sparklers we’ll do.

We’ve also passed my brother’s 1st birthday, the first one without him here.

One would think that as a social worker and having taken many psych classes I’d know what to do, follow the stages of grief and be healthy. Like nurses making the worst patients, social workers don’t follow their own education either – oh we can tell others the way I’ve dealt with things probably isn’t the healthiest, it will come to bite me in the end, etc, etc. Then again I guess we’re all just trying to make it through whether healthy or not, whether it’s following the grief guidelines or not.

So all this to say is that I’m still here, blogging is still a way for me to express myself, just checking in. Please keep us in your prayers.

 

 

 

 

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School, work and home


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Its been awhile since I’ve written a personal post – November 2015 to be exact. I have to say things have been so busy and also sad in our house. On our way home from West Virginia for Thanksgiving on November 28th, my mom called me to ask if we could pick her up at the hospital. She said she’d been in a small car accident and seeing as we had just past the city where she was I turned around, she couldn’t get a hold of my younger brother. Found out it wasn’t a small car accident and she had a severe concussion. My brother agreed to come to her house to care for her as she is unable to climb the stairs in my house. On November 30th I received a frantic voicemail that my brother had fallen and she couldn’t get him awake. I had just spoken with him a few hours before and he was fine. I rush over while having my best friend on the phone to turn the corner to see many cops, two squads and two fire trucks. I go up to the house to find them working frantically on my brother – he was 32. His obit is here.

The next few months had me working my part time job, taking care of my mom and my children and beginning school. My first two spring quarter classes started in January and finished this past Friday. My next two classes begin next Monday. I’m taking a full time course load so I can get all my federal financial aid.  Needless to say it’s been a VERY busy few months but in some ways also very rewarding. My children are very supportive of my going to school even if my son doesn’t quite understand when I need time to study or write my papers – I’m currently carrying an A average. I’m attending Liberty University Online pursuing my Bachelors in Social Work. My goal is eventually to either continue working the developmentally disabled field or to work with women leaving prostitution and human trafficking.

Work is well, work. I take care of three men who are DD in their home – they are great guys but it is still work. I was taking care of a fourth in another house but he passed away two weeks after I met him.

I feel like home is an area I’m failing in – the house is often a mess and even with the children, especially my oldest pitching in there is a sense of disarray and dirt everywhere. When people say you can’t have a career and a house, it’s true – you can but one is going to suffer and right now it’s my house, and I hate that. Honestly, we could probably scrape by if I didn’t work but there wouldn’t be extras because we’d only be able to buy groceries (and then only cheap stuff, not healthy stuff) and pay bills and put gas in the car. There wouldn’t be room to pay for dance or take small trips or take in the occasional movie at the cheap seats theater. I’m trying to get into a groove and find a balance but so far I haven’t. I’ve cut out reviews – as soon as I get the ones that need posted up and done I’m out because it’s one thing I can say no to.

We’ve also made it through a whole year of not having Don with us – and we’ve gotten through our 2nd anniversary without him and his 2nd birthday. It’s been tough – and while we aren’t in the throws of grief, we still have our sad days but we are much more better at remembering him with laughter than we are with tears. I don’t go to the cemetery much, although my in-laws do, it is hard and I know he’s not there and seeing my name on the marker is well, eerie. I’ve also had a talk with the children about me wanting to find love again – it’s not something I’m rushing in to and there is no one in mind – but I know Don wouldn’t want me grieving the rest of my life and since I’m only 37 I am still young. My in-laws know too. I would want the same thing for him, had it been me to go. I’m praying the Lord will show me the right man even if that comes through eHarmony which I’ve joined. For those who are against online meetings – I know the risks, my husband and I met online and we almost made it to 14 years.

I’ve been told by different people lately that they admire me, they don’t know how I do what I do. I can say it’s all the Lord – if not for Him I’d have fallen on my face a long time ago. It’s also my children, they keep me going and then I read my oldest daughter’s blog post and I get the sense that even when I’m failing, I’m doing something right. So, with that I’ll close – I’ll try to get better at posting personal stuff and also more homeschooling stuff as I get caught up on my reviews.

(c) 2016, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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A First Thanksgiving….


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I’m sitting in my friend’s house, preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving, our first, with her husband and three children and her BIL and SIL.

You read that right, our first Thanksgiving. My children’s first Thanksgiving without their dad. My first in 14 years without my husband.

There have been several firsts – we’ve already had our first Christmas but it was so soon after the funeral that we were so numb and just went through the motions. I’ve had our first anniversary with my better half.

We’ve all been through the first birthdays, our first Easter, 4th of July, Groundhog’s Day (this was very important to us, hubby always joked that if his job gave him the day off he’d effectively have every holiday off work), trick or treat and now we’ve come to the first Thanksgiving.

We began our marriage by traveling to the in-laws’ house, my mom’s side and then my dad’s side – it was too much especially as the children came along. So we decided to just stay in for Thanksgiving, family could come over if they wanted, or not. Usually my mom and one of my brother’s would come. Don would get up early to put the turkey AND ham in the oven. I’d make the deviled eggs, Don would peel the potatoes for me so I can get them boiling and add my sour cream and chives. I’d make from scratch pumpkin pie and apple pie. We had a HUGE spread with hubby doing most of the work, thankfully.

I know he wouldn’t want us to be sad which is honestly easier said than done. There is a person missing – a HUGE missing spot in our Thanksgiving. Not be sad? Not grieving? It isn’t possible. Yes, we will strive to be happy, joyful, thankful but there will also be memories, sadness, and grief.

Be thankful? We can be thankful that we’ve made it this far, that we’ve almost a year without a dad, without a husband, friend, confidant.

I can be thankful my husband no longer has any health concerns.

I cannot, however be thankful that he isn’t here. That he was taken too soon.

I won’t pretend. I won’t plaster a fake smile – if tears come, we’ll let them come.

If grief rears it’s ugly, but sometimes necessary, head we’ll deal with it.

I’m not sure how this first Thanksgiving will go – I know that the Pilgrims gave thanks, even though there were losses that first year, so we’ll try, we’ll try to give thanks –

Thanks that we’re still surviving, still putting one step in front of the other.

Thanks that even while one is missing that we have our memories.

Thanks that the four of us are together, and it seems we are stronger than we were before.

One thing to remember that as we come together to celebrate and be thankful, we need to be mindful of those hurting hearts – whether it’s from a loved one missing, a health diagnosis or other hurt – we need to be mindful of those who are hurting. If tears come, if a memory comes to mind – give a tissue and a shoulder and a listening ear. Often times, holidays make the hole bigger, it’s like ripping off a scab and re-opening the wound – they may appear fine on any other day but then Thanksgiving arrives and it’s all fresh, like it just happened.

Be thankful? Yes.

Thanks for our faith, that we have a Heavenly Father, that keeps us surrounded in His love, keeps us in His hands and protects us – and that is ultimately what we all should be thankful for.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

 

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Going back to school


I graduate high school in 1997, went into the United States Navy, and then graduated college with my Associates in Social Work in 2001 – the same morning I found out I was expecting our 2nd baby but the first to be born. I tried to go to an online college after that but it proved disastrous with a newborn baby – so I decided I didn’t need anymore college. I love to read, I love to learn – so studying was never hard and most subjects, excluding math, came easy for me, but my husband and I had decided I’d stay home and we’d be homeschooling so really a BSW (Bachelor’s in Social Work) wasn’t really a need. The online college I was pursuing a paralegal degree.

That said – now that I’m widow I know I have to start planning for the future, both my children’s and my own – the survivor benefits will decrease once my children are no longer eligible, even though I’ll continue to get mine for the rest of my life – there may be some rules about that but I can’t remember them all. However, once my children’s go away I’ll be living on next to nothing so I need to plan. With that said I’m going back to college to earn my BSW.

I applied to a well known, at least in my area, Christian university however they had absolutely no help for widows, which struck me as ironic for being a Christian university. They also weren’t real happy with me refusing to take loans or wanting to do the majority of my general ed classes online. One woman told me I should just focus on “being the best mom I could be”, yes, that is what I’m doing, why do you think I want to take online classes. So after much prayer and discussions with trusted advisers I decided that University wasn’t the one.

It used to be that the state of Ohio, or at least that is what I was told, would not recognize a social work degree that was completed online but on the off chance I contacted Liberty University Online (LUO). I spoke with several people who assured me of their regional accreditation and that they did indeed have a BSW program. Okay Lord? Well then things really started falling in place – they were actually excited that I didn’t want to use student loans and then I was told I qualify for the military discount pricing! Okay Lord I’m getting it. I can do the whole program online, from the comfort of my home except for my practicum which I knew before hand.

I’m already registered for my first four classes, which makes me a full time student right away but I’m so excited! My goal is to become a Path Coordinator (although I’m sure the title will change as it often did for my husband) with our local Board of DD. There are many things to consider though such as I would need to work 30 years more to receive retirement through our state’s system – they don’t pay into SS – which means I could be in my 70’s when I would retire and I want to enjoy my grand-babies so I may have to look into whether I pursue private employment, but I have time to wait on that. I may even pursue my Masters in Counseling after my BSW, I’ll see where the Lord leads.

Right now I’m waiting on my financial aid to be received and processed so I can find out exactly what I’ll be getting, but the estimate seems like it would pay for almost all my classes each semester. I know I’ll still have some out of pocket expenses, which is fine but not what it would have been like had I gone to the other University where my financial aid wouldn’t have covered even 1 full semester. My desire is to do this debt free, to honor the Lord and also to stay out of debt that my husband got us out of and having paid off my ASW earlier this year with the life insurance.

I want to note if you feel led to donate to my educational expenses donations can be made to the Bailey Family Fund at any Huntington National Bank (100% will come to me), there is also a GoFundMe page (they do take a percent), and my friend is hosting a fundraiser for anyone who purchases from her site or her Currclick page – search Shari Crooks (you don’t have to be a homeschooler to use her products). Any helps is immensely appreciated and will go towards my education – books, supplies, gas once I begin my practicum (internship in other fields), etc.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Leaving a Legacy


Excuse the hashtag, too lazy to go back and fix it #grow4christ

It’s been awhile since I last posted anything but a review and for that I apologize – we’ve had a busy summer. Both girls went to 4-H camp and then my son went to Webeloes camp, they’ve also had College for Kids, and we all traveled to Project Dance: Detroit. So it’s been hard to get all that needed done, and read and make up a non-review post. I’m actually feeling poorly again – my ears are in pain every time I swallow but I don’t have time to be sick so I’m keepin’ on keepin’ on.

A couple weeks ago, yes this post has been brewing in my head that long, a friend on Facebook asked something like, “what is your legacy?”

What is your legacy?

Dictionary.com gives five definitions of legacy but the one that pertains to this post is: anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.

This got me to thinking, what legacy am I leaving for my children? My grand children? Great Grandchildren? What am I passing down to them?

I have books.

I have multiple Bibles.

I have my Great Grandpa’s harmonica that my Grandpa gave to me.

I have a stuffed teddy bear made out of my Grandpa’s shirt.

I have pictures.

but……

What is my legacy?

Am I passing down a legacy of anger?

of yelling?

of conditional love?

of struggle?

When I think about what I am passing down, what I will leave with my children when I’m gone I’m not solely thinking of the material things, those won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. As a Christian I know that the things here, my Great Grandpa’s harmonica, my books, my husband’s shirts those will all turn to dust eventually or rust and be destroyed. I don’t want my children looking back and telling their children, “oh, how Grandma could yell” or “Grandma got so mad when we’d interrupt her reading” or whatever else.

I know I’m going to fail – I’m human – I will struggle and become frustrated or angry or sad – but I don’t want to be remembered by these things and then I’m drawn to a verse in 2nd Timothy:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois

and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5

Okay, some may say, well this was written from Paul to Timothy through our Lord and I’m taking it out of context – but I’m not. I’ve had many godly women and men in my life, my paternal Great Grandparents for one. I would hope, no it’s my prayer, that one day someone could say to my children, “hey, I knew your mom, she was a woman of great faith!”

I’m not saying this to boast or try to be prideful, but I’m honestly re-evaluating my life – am I going to leave a legacy where my children think it’s okay to yell at their children? Or am I passing on a legacy of love, patience and training? I’ll be honest right now – I think my children (and I know at least one will read this post) know I love them but will they see past all my failings as a mom to know that my legacy isn’t one of yelling, impatience, complaining and so on?

I want to pass on a legacy of faith – faith that when things are tough the Lord is there.

Faith that brings patience whether it’s a driver going to slow or when a child interrupts me.

Faith that when they are yelling and playing upstairs I am gracious enough to go up to them and tell them to calm down (that needs some work).

Faith that when they see me down – they see me turning to prayer, even if I’m not on my knees, that I’m spending time with the Lord, conversing, reading His Word.

Faith that when they see me happy – they see me conversing with the Lord and reading His Word.

When I’m gone I want to leave a legacy, not a material legacy although that can help as well, but one that will last beyond this earthly realm – one that will prayerfully pass down and when they see my picture they’ll see Christ coming through. There are many Scriptures relating to legacies – most relate to the Lord’s legacy first to the Israelite’s and then also to the Christ followers later. The Lord has given us an amazing legacy and I want to make sure that my legacy aspires my children to see the Lord’s legacy.

What is Your Legacy?

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Shopping for cemetery markers


It’s one thing I never thought I’d have to do – but then one ugly day it became a reality – picking out the marker that will mark my husband’s and I final resting place. I could have made monthly payments but it would then take 2 years for my husband to have something to mark his place now.  I knew he wouldn’t want something fancy or too expensive – but I picked out something that would meet my needs now for remembering him and then later for when the children have to remember us both.

I’ve waited since March to get this rendering and as soon as the cemetery worker called I called to the children get ready we’ve got to go! Knowing if I didn’t go on Friday it would be another two weeks.  It could be 6 weeks before it’s actually made, here and installed or it could be shorter – no one really knows.  I was hoping to have it installed in time for Father’s Day (nice Father’s Day present huh?) but that isn’t going to happen.

I will admit – this is sort of the finality – it marks that everything will be completed and all is done. Even though I’ve had about 5 months for it all to sink in – seeing my husband’s name on a cemetery marker makes it feel all very fresh and real again – sort of like that whole scab thing 😦 Another issue was seeing my name on the marker – in a way I know it’s good, it’s one thing my children won’t have to worry about later – the cemetery will add my other day and it’s already paid for – but seeing it? It’s very disconcerting – my oldest didn’t even want to look at it, I understand. I sent a picture to my dad and I knew when I sent it it would be weird for him, and it was.

The rendering is already blurry so my picture doesn’t help it any but a quick run down is that under my hubby’s name it says: his dates, then Loving Husband and Son, then his life verse of Philippians 4:13. We chose a drum set as he loved playing the drums, even after he sold his set to pay bills one year, he never gave up the dream of owning another set. Under my name are/will be my dates, Loving Wife and Daughter, then my life verse of Jeremiah 29:11. My picture is a Bible and Cross. In the middle, the circle represents where our vase is, then the banner says Together Forever married 1-1-2001 and under that is Loving Parents of …… then our family name. As hard as it was to design this and buy it I’m glad we’ve done it although it is still weird to see my name on there.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Don’t Remind Me or use the ‘D’ word


This post has no image or pictures to go with it.  Think of it as more of a journal entry than anything else.  Don’t Remind Me.

Yesterday was the 13th of April.  4 months.  The day started good, almost with me forgetting what the day was until I was reminded.  The children and I completed 100% of our school stuff before noon.  Then we went to the library.  Then I was reminded – several times.

Here is the thing, I know some people mean well and I try to remember that but reminding my children or I every time you see us, talk to us, email us rips that scab off and sets back any forward momentum we’ve gained.  Have we forgotten my husband, their dad?  No!  Can we forget that when we go home that he won’t be there after work?  No!  Can we forget that instead of baking him a cake on March 9th we now visit a cemetery, or as where we are at, a burial park (I guess it’s supposed to sound nicer than a cemetery).  That every holiday will now be spent visiting said ‘burial park’ instead of waking in the morning to hugs and kisses we now will get to visit a cold stone and metal marker – all that is left of what Don was and not enough to shout to the world all that he was.

Here is the thing – we are trying to move forward – there is no moving past the grief – one simply doesn’t move past or move on or forget – you move forward.  I take the children to their numerous activities.  We’ve even added some like worship team where there is a practice once a week and early on Sunday mornings before service and 4-H.  We are trying to get back into doing school on a regular basis.  We are trying to move forward – but each time we are reminded of our loss, of our missing family member, it takes a moment…..

a moment to catch ourselves……

a moment to process that, again……

a moment to catch our breath……

I know some people DON’T know what to say to us but if you feel you must remind me of what we’ve lost then please, stop for a moment, and decide if what you’re about to say may rip the scab off.  I don’t need the reminder each time I see you.  I don’t need a reminder each time you email me.  I don’t need a reminder each time you speak with me in person or on the phone.  I can look across my bed and know that I’m alone, that Don is gone.  I can hear the silent T.V. in the morning, where there would be news or a scary movie at night, and know that I’m alone, that Don is gone.  I can look into the kitchen in the evening where he’d often cook dinner for us, and know that I’m alone, and I myself must make dinner because he is gone.

I’m not saying don’t ask how we are doing.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about Don or ask us about him – we enjoy talking and telling others about him, it may brings tears (grief is messy) but it may bring smiles too.  What I’m asking is don’t say things, like “you’ve lost the love of your life” or “your children are still mourning their father”.  Yes and Yes.  We know that and we don’t need reminded.  As we try to move forward with our new normal, which we’re still figuring out, believe me we don’t need reminded of Don being gone – I know it and remember it every Tuesday evening when I drop my girls off for dance class at 4:30 and my son has to be in another city at 5:30 for karate and my girls must stay at the dance studio until I get them around 7.  When Don was here I’d take the girls and pick them up at 5:30 return home and start dinner so at 7 when hubby and son returned from karate we could eat.  Now dinner isn’t until 7:30 or 8 at night.

You see, I can’t every forget that Don is gone – because that reminder is EVERYWHERE, it’s there when I think to call him because I need help in figuring up what 30% off of something is, or when I run the children to their activities, or when I slide our food stamp card through the check out line, or when I receive that survivor benefit at the beginning of every month in my bank account.  That reminder is there when the girls have a father/daughter dance and Grandpa has to take one or both.  It’s there when they have something special like a dance program, an awards thing like a new belt in karate, a piano recital – he isn’t there.

One more thing – don’t use the ‘D’ word.  There may come a time when I can say it.  I know I can say that my Grandparents have all died.  However, to say it about my husband, I can’t.  While everyone is different and to some the ‘D’ word is just that, a word.  For me it carries a finality, a coldness that doesn’t seem right for Don’s memory.  In the case of my Grandparents they’ve been gone years and I know that when they first passed I couldn’t say die about them either.  I prefer to say Don is gone, or he has passed or he simply went to sleep (as that is how he looked that morning, like he simply went to sleep and never woke up).

Again, I’m not saying this to offend anyone or point fingers at anyone who has been there for us but honestly, I felt it need said – keeping quiet only keeps the waves of pain coming and so if you see us, ask us how we are but please don’t throw in how you know we’re mourning my husband, their dad.  Just simply ask how we’re doing.  That’s enough.  We know you’re interested. We know you care.  However, please be aware that you may ask and it may be a raw, messy, bad day and if you ask I might tell you – so also be aware of that. Of course, you may ask on a good day, don’t assume we’ve ‘moved on’ because we are smiling or that we’ve forgotten because we are laughing.  Just don’t remind us because we live reminders each and every day every time we wake, as we go about our day and as we go to sleep, we are reminded.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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A Helping Hand


Imagine, hating the grocery store.  Hating the looks you’ll know you’ll get.  Hating the snide comments from those behind you.  The cold glares.  The change in demeanor once they see your debit card isn’t really a debit card.

“She has too many children”

“Maybe if she didn’t have that expensive purse, nice shoes, etc”

“She should just get a job”

and on it goes.

I NEVER thought I’d be on the receiving end of these comments.  Confession:  We used to use WIC – briefly – I was told by a cashier when I had a few extra dollars and bought a cross stitch magazine that I shouldn’t be allowed to buy stuff like that if I had to use WIC.

WIC is totally different than what I face now.

I purposely seek out stores that have self check out or chose a line that looks like I can get in and out quickly.

I’ve had a cashier be so friendly then when I bring out our food assistance card, commonly called Food Stamps, she then ignored me and began a conversation with a bagger, letting me know I was no longer worth her time.

I’ve seen many a meme going around about how terrible it is that we abuse the system, there should be drug testing because all food assistance people are using drugs or selling their benefits for drugs, or what have you.

I understand there are many who do use the system, who abuse it and who may use drugs and so on.  I am not that person, not all of us are.

I’ve been asked by fellow Christians, “doesn’t your church help you?” or put another way “Christians shouldn’t use food stamps, go to your church.”  Really?  I love our church – they are great, godly people but we are also small – very small and most are elderly and on fixed incomes, how is my church to provide food for 4 people, 3 of those VERY hungry children who eat a lot?  I agree churches should do as the Bible (and God) says to help the widows and fatherless.  Our church has and is supporting us but they simply can’t support us financially – I don’t see where in the Bible that the Lord said it had to be financially.

That said – and I’m going to be honest here, we get a measly $169 a month in food benefits.  4 people – $169 a month.  I get the same amount of food benefits as a single person with no children.  We spend that a WEEK.  My son alone could probably eat that much a week on his own, if I let him, and never gain a pound!  Trust me we are not rolling in the money here with what we get in food assistance.  I will not divulge what I get in survivors benefits – I will tell you our yearly income has been cut in half, maybe even more if I took the time to figure it what hubby used to bring home to what we get in benefits.

Out of our monthly survivor benefits I have to pay our utilities, clothing, shoes, curricula, needed repairs, gas for the car, vehicle repairs, and anything else that comes up and food.

The donations that were given to us are being kept safe and not being used unless I absolutely need them.  If you feel led to donate there are instructions on how to do so on the right side of my blog, and thank you if you do donate.  I know there will be months that something comes up and there is zero money left.  I’m so appreciative of the friends and family who have given generously to us – it will help in these months of trying to figure everything out.

Now to answer some of those comments I mentioned above:

1.  I have three children.  3.  That isn’t 10 or 20. 3.  I cannot have anymore children because I no longer have a husband, to infer that the reason I’m on food assistance because I have too many children is ridiculous and hurtful.  If Don was still here we’d welcome more children, but I’m not one of those women who is on food assistance because my children’s dad has walked out and abandoned us, I’m not on F.A. because I’m having more children just to get benefits.  Unfortunately, many cashiers and the people in line behind me only see a woman with three (too many) children using food stamps, which they mistakenly believe I’ve never worked.

2.   Something else people don’t consider is that maybe that purse I got for free by simply holding a Thirty-One party and I paid $0.  Maybe my nice shoes were a gift from my mom.  My clothes are nice because they were bought before hubby passed and I’m not hard on them.  Just because what is on my body doesn’t mean I’m abusing the system.  Should I and my children, because I’m on food assistance, be wearing dirty, ragged clothing?  Then there will be those who claim I can’t care for my children and should therefor not be allowed to have them anymore.  it’s a vicious cycle, one that I can’t win.

3.   I do have a job – it’s called being a homemaker.  I worked, I had several jobs ever since I could work, I’ve worked.  I’ve paid into the system everyone wants to say I haven’t.  My husband worked and paid into the system.  My job right now is to be a mom to my children and continue to educate them at home, as my husband told me was his desire should anything ever happen to him.  By the way, for those who may want to still further say something – I’m an United States Navy veteran – yep at one time I was protecting you and your ‘right’ to say these things about my children and I.

I’m writing this, not to point fingers at any one person, I’ve been there.  I’ve been the cashier looking down on that mom in my line.  I’ve been the person behind her (or him) thinking well if only they………  Just remember as you stand behind that mom or that dad – you don’t know their story.  Take your thoughts captive.

Maybe that mom, like me, has lost the love of her life and is trying to keep things as normal as possible.  Remember she isn’t getting $1,000’s a month, she’s still finding it hard to make ends meet.  Maybe she needs a smile, instead of your glare or ire, maybe she needs to know that it’s okay she’s asked for help, even if it’s from the government.  If she’s a Christian like me, she doesn’t need condemnation from the church, she needs prayer, she needs support.  Maybe if we weren’t all treated like trash, criminals, drug users then maybe we could hold our heads up in the store like the rest of the world, instead of fearing that check out lane, we’d be treated like everyone else.

Again, because I know someone will forget what I’ve said – I know there are exceptions, I’m not blind, I know there are those on assistance that are abusing the system and yes there should be ways to weed those out but again, not everyone on assistance is like that or desires to be like that.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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