Compelled to Breathe

(Yes, some pictures are sideways. No, I can’t figure out how to fix it. I have tried all week and lost interest. Just tilt your head sideways and voila!…)

Grieving with three young kids is tough. I have all these emotions and thoughts, but I don’t have the time or opportunity to process them. My kids are still so young at 5, 4, and 2, so demanding is an understatement. In some ways it has been a blessing because it has forced me to grieve slowly and in pieces. I simply have no option to hide away in my bedroom, draw the shades, blast me some sad music and cry the day away. I want to sometimes, but it isn’t an option. I have to be there for my kids. School dropoff and pickup, swim class, cleaning, counseling, bills, making meals and packing lunches. My life can’t stop.

The day after Marcus passed, a wonderful woman told me that Marcus would show himself everywhere. At first I brushed it off because that seems weird, right? I was so wrong. God was EVERYWHERE. One day I will share an actual list because it was so incredible, and it gave me a reason to smile when the pain was so intense and physical.

So let me tell you a story, and it has a lot of context so bear with me. A few days after Marcus passed, a friend asked if I wanted to go see For King and Country. A client had given her tickets months ago, not realizing the significance of the band for us. So for those who don’t know, that band has been a household staple for our family. My kids can sing every word to Joy, and we even played it at Marcus’ funeral. So YES, of course I want to go! But the concert was in Florida, and we live in New Hampshire. Womp womp. My sister whips out her phone, checks her airline miles, and guess who had enough miles to fly her and I to Florida for FREE?! (Well, not free, she had to pay a $22 transaction fee… also Marcus’ number, but that is part of the whole God-showing-us story!).

Fast forward six weeks after Marcus passed and my sister, her husband, and I (and Scarlett, a last minute addition!) were on an airplane for a basically free trip to the sunshine. We were headed towards the much anticipated “Jesus week,” as I would call it. We were able to stay with Marcus’ best friend and his family and spend a few days just relaxing and enjoying the sun and a break from the schedules. I knew I needed it, but I didn’t know how much! I spent hours reading, praying, pouring over our Job Bible study, and just reflecting. It was so healing. And I am so glad it worked out for Scarlett to come to because girlfriend needed a vacation too! God figured it all out so we had no excuses NOT to go.

The band was playing at Strawberry Festival in Lakeland, which coincidentally was one of Marcus and my first dates back in college. And, we had done this same trip exactly three years ago, which was so random but probably not! I am learning that nothing is really a coincidence. It was absolutely incredible. We were up front and center and I spent most of the concert sobbing while worshiping. It was just so surreal to hear these songs that had become so important to our family come to life, and their performance was amazing!

My sister and I had bought tickets for the Lauren Daigle concert in Boston forever ago, and it all worked out so we landed back in Boston Saturday afternoon, enjoyed walking and eating with some friends in the city, and experience another night of worship. God is just so good.

I am just so thankful. Life is still really hard. When I get overwhelmed and stuck in the sad, God has been so faithful to give me little hugs like this. Well, this wasn’t a little hug…this was one giant embrace! My life is so different than before. I have so many new perspectives, priorities, and worries than I ever did. But God is there and He has been, and I am confident He will continue to be. I am so glad that I was basically forced to make room and to get away. I was compelled to actually breathe, let it all sink in, have a few more teary sob fests with friends, and remember the amazing man my husband was.

This is not the end of my story, it is part of it. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds.

Also, I should note, there were quite a few parts of this trip that were way more emotional than I realized they would be. I was looking forward to the vacation, and didn’t realize how hard it would be to be in an airport without him. We always traveled together. We traveled so much these past couple years! Also we landed in Tampa, which is where we first met and began our life together. I am giving myself grace and permission to feel these emotions. They come out of nowhere, completely unexpected. But it is ok. None of this was expected. I am grieving and will always be in some way. So I hereby give you permission to acknowledge whatever it is you are going through and respect it. Life is hard, it throws you some curveballs, and we need to adapt and understand what we are feeling. Give each other grace and room to have emotions. Emotions are not a weakness.

Here are a few moments from our trip I want to remember…


On our way to the airport! Scarlett’s first Uber. (She is in a booster! Check out this super cool one my friend let me borrow that can fit in your PURSE. Seriously.
Working diligently on writing her own luggage tag
We found our airplane!
So excited!
Bye winter!
Six mile run to appreciate the fact that my face doesn’t hurt when I run!
Drinking in the vitamin D
The whole group! Adam, Kelsey, Daynet, me, Eric, and Scarlett.
My beauty.
For King and Country!
You can tell how Scarlett felt about the evening… she will appreciate it one day!
Putting on a brave face in spite of how tired she was!
The next day at the Strawberry Festival. SUNSHINE.
Officially wiped out.
Delirious at the airport. She was so exhausted, but I saw my precious girl sparkle again. Worth it.
Flight back home!
I highly recommend this book. Lysa is a gifted writer and has such a painful past, and she still clings to God and draws others to Him! What an inspiration.
Quick change in the airport family bathroom before my aunt picked up Scarlett and our luggage so Kelsey and I could explore Boston with friends! Sometimes you just have to make it work 😆
Met up with some babes to explore the city!
Jess and Kelsey at the Lauren Daigle concert
It’s blurry, but Lauren Daigle was awesome. Such powerful words and incredible voice!
We drove back the next morning in a white out snowstorm! And then got stuck in my driveway. It was worse than it looks, ok?! You can’t tell the angle from here… but my driveway is a bit… challenging. And I was sliding down and couldn’t back out. I am thankful for awesome neighbors to rescue me! Welcome back to the north!

There are more people than I could even list that made this trip possible and I want to thank. My mom and dad for watching the kids. Kelsey and Adam for the flights. Eric and Daynet for the lodging. My aunt Kristen for help with parking and watching Scarlett. And so many more people who made the trip even possible! So thank you. Thank you for giving me time and space away so I could breathe and take it all in and truly process it all. I am so thankful for the many amazing people in my life!

One Month

It has been one month since my husband passed away. A sudden shock and blow to our family, completely turning our lives upside down. He was our rock, the captain who steered this ship, and now he is gone. We are still in shock and baffled at how we can continue on and pretend life is any semblance of normal.

Everything I have written on this blog prior to this point seems absolutely trivial. Fashion, motherhood, gift round ups, all things that in the light of my husband’s death, so small.

In light of all that, I cancelled my blog host early this week. How can I even justify paying money to write about something that was seemingly insignificant. But then God put it on my heart to write. Nothing like I have ever written or even had the boldness to share online. When someone walks through a tragedy, you have options. I can choose to wallow and turn myself into a recluse and bask in my pain. OR I can praise the One who created this universe and delight in His goodness, because, hear me, HE IS STILL GOOD. Sometimes it is like an out of body experience, saying these words. But they are coming from my soul, because my conscious mind still doesn’t quite understand it. How can God be good and I am sitting over here doubled over in emotional agony?

I don’t think I will ever understand it fully.

What I am thankful for are those who have traveled this path, or similar ones before me.

Job 2:10 says “…shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

How can I live a life and expect no sadness? No pain or anguish? God didn’t devise this horrible plan to rip the love of my life away from me, just so I can relish in this twisted pain. BUT. But God. God ALLOWS these situations so I can draw near to Him. He allowed my husband to be taken from me at the age of 32, leaving me as a 29 year old widow with three kids, five and under. He allowed this pain in our lives so we can be helpless and lean on HIM for help.

Life isn’t fair.

But my God is good. He is faithful and has sustained us thus far. And when I don’t understand or get overwhelmed, I can lean on Him. This is too intense and painful to go on, but He is there and will sustain us.

The death of my husband has strengthened my faith. I would never have wished this reality on myself or my children, but watching God’s hand move in our lives has been nothing short of spectacular. So I choose to worship. I choose joy. I choose to praise and magnify the creator of this universe, while I am still aching and confused, because HE IS GOOD.