It’s not over until…

21 10 2016

DSCN0353 In the beginning of this Widow’s journey I spent a lot of time on the couch, crying and thinking mostly. Did I do everything right? Did I miss something medically? Was I a comfort to Ed by continuing to work and bring in an income or should I have come home earlier?

Today, more than five years later, I know that I did the best I knew to do. I am still doing the best I know how to do as I continue my journey. I still feel the empty ache in my heart but I also experience something like joy when friends share a good Ed story with me. It is a comfort to remember how honestly funny he was and what a compassionate man he was. He was terrible at telling a joke and yet he made us laugh so hard at his attempt to tell it. Sometimes he would laugh so hard at his own awful jokes that we couldn’t help but laugh with him. God, I loved that man so much. Still do. And I know he loved me as deeply as anyone could.

I have had to learn how to manage my life without my biggest fan and best friend. I will honestly tell you that I do not like it one single bit. However, I am secure in the knowledge that God has more for me.

Ed genuinely loved to hear me sing. He would ask me to sing to him often. After he passed, my song changed. I went through a period of time when I thought I had lost my ear and my voice. Nothing I sang sounded right to me and I finally decided that I just would not sing anymore. I lost my song. I left my beloved praise team and hardly sang out loud in the congregation for quite some time. A couple of people really tried to convince me that I needed to be singing but I thought they were just being kind.

During this time, I was invited to sing in a choir that a dear couple was leading but first I made them promise that they would not let me be the old lady warbling out of tune in the soprano section. They assured me I could trust them to have my back. Every time the choir or praise teams sang worship my heart ached and I cried. I attributed those many tears to grief but I also think that God was cleansing my heart during that time. Music has always spoken to that deepest place in my heart. One step at a time, I began to feel my song again.    I am singing again. From my heart. I am a member of the choir now and sometimes I am asked to lead a song or to sing a special solo. I am honored to worship my Lord and Savior with Psalms and spiritual songs. My heart is healing.

I am blazing a new trail in this Widow’s journey. I am stretching myself beyond the boundaries of only gospel music. I have successfully auditioned for Opera Wilmington out of UNC Wilmington. I also have registered to audition for America’s Got Talent on February 1, 2017, in Charleston, SC. I am ready for new adventures and I want to grow in the journey. Here we go.

 

 

 





This widow’s walk

9 01 2016

2016 might just be the year of the big breakthrough for this widow. There, I said it. Widow. I still don’t like to say it but I am gradually giving in to the  concept. I am not in denial of Ed’s passing. I know in the depth of my being that Ed is with his Savior in Heaven and he is not coming back!  I  wouldn’t  want him to.

I have been in denial of the fact that I am no longer married. It doesn’t seem quite fair that I have no say in the matter. I did not fall out of love. I was not cheated on or angry with or in any way mistreated by my husband. I was in love with Ed right up until his last breath. I am still in love with him.

We talked about some things pertaining to his imminent  passing away but none of our talking or thinking was about the fact that I would no longer be his wife. When Ed died, I became his widow. I hate that part. I could not reconcile it in my heart or in my mind. It has not been a graceful transition, to say the least. It felt all wrong to take my wedding band off and yet it felt like a lie to keep it on. Although, I did keep it on for a long time. I finally found a way that felt “okay” not to wear my wedding band on my hand. I found a necklace that allowed me to wear both our rings around my neck.

This has been my 5th birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year without my Ed. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am not married anymore. On New Years day, I did not put my necklace on. I have looked at it every day since and made a decision not to wear it today. I have tried this before and after a day or two have experienced such anxiety that I had to put it back on. It has been 9 days today without my commitment being worn around my neck. It is okay. I did not break my commitment. I fulfilled it.

I have said it before, grief is different in everyone. We each have to find our own path through the process. Sometimes we can follow a portion of the path that someone else has traveled. Most of the time we have to blaze our own trail. I can still weep with the thought of how much I miss my man. I am on the journey. One step, one day, and sometimes one hour at a time.

Last night, I had a small dinner party with 4 of my close friends. I cooked a pot of marinara sauce and meatballs like I used to do. As we sat around the table in my modest kitchen with full bellies, I took a moment to look around the table. Everyone was at peace and looked contented. Everyone there knew my Ed and were not self conscious to speak his name in a conversation. What really struck me was that we were all laughing, sharing food, stories and talk of movies. Fellowship. My home was alive with fellowship. Ah, but that is for another post.

 





God only knows what’s next.

19 01 2015

Lately, I try to tell myself, (yell at myself) “finish what you are doing now and then move on to the next thing”. Sometimes it actually works for me. Like today. I am going to write a post. God only knows what will come next but for right now, I write. But first, a cup of vanilla hazelnut Keurig coffee will help the creative process. Be right back.
This has been a very busy and fulfilling year. There have been a few work challenges that have stretched me and made me stronger as a film hairstylist and, I hope, nicer as a human being. I really do love what I do. Most of the time it doesn’t feel like work.
I still miss my Eddie every single day. It helps me a lot to work. I am surrounded by people who strangely feel like family. Albeit, crazy and dysfunction family. I smile most of the time at work and I laugh out loud very often. I enjoy my hugs from my coworkers and feel blessed when folks call me Miss Coni. Once in a while, my guys (yes, I have taken possession of them and claim them as my own), will crank out some pretty foul language. I do not take it personally. Usually, if they see me nearby, they will curb it and that makes me smile and feel like an honored member of the tribe. But, sometimes, Words Just Need To Fly. I understand.
Last October, my co-workers threw me the best surprise birthday party ever! The first surprise was that I had to wait outside the trailer while they finished getting it ready for my entry. I was getting anxious because I needed to get my station ready for my first actor but they cheerfully urged me to go to the catering tent and get my breakfast while they “straightened up”. Of course, I figured what was going on by now and I decided to let go of any anxious thoughts and roll with the day. Best idea ever!! What fun I had at work. We started the day with Carvel ice cream cake handing many pieces out the door to my Teamsters and base camp PAs. There were flowers, balloons, finger foods and, wait for it… Frank Sinatra tunes on Pandora!

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These ladies, Cece Verardi and Linda Kamp, know how to make a girl feel special! My Cristy was very much a part of the shenanigans too. I am grateful for their friendship.
I am 62 years young. My life is nothing as I imagined it to be when I was in my twenties and thirties. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, using the gifts that God gave me. Loving on people, doing hair and singing are my three favorite things to do in this life. I am triple blessed when I get the chance to do all three in one day.





Did you just judge me?

6 10 2014

I am a Christian. That means I have come to believe that God, in His mercy, sent a Way for me to get back into a pure relationship with Him. That Way is Jesus Christ. Without getting all preachy, suffice to say that I have decided to follow Jesus. I am a Christ follower.
Chances are, you have just made a judgement about me based on what you know about others. One of your judgements is probably that I am judgmental. The pot calls the kettle black.
Relax. Breath. Open your mind for a minute.
Do you want to know what I really think it means to be a Christ follower?

A-Christian

  • love God with all my heart
  • if I truly love God, I will love His people
  • love without hypocrisy
  • give and it will be given unto you
  • includes helping others
  • when you refresh others you will be refreshed
  • true religion gets dirty, goes where the needs are
  • closest to the heart of God is helping others
  • widows and orphans
  • God did not call me to judge people, he called me to love them
  • I need to judge myself, search my own soul. Not yours
  • I am full of miracles
  • miracles don’t always come with a fireworks display
  • a hug, a gentle word brings healing
  • encourage
  • help others and your life will break forth like the dawn and your healing will come

Now that I have revealed some of my inner thoughts, judge away.

In my over six decades on this planet, I have learned that we are all seekers. Every one of us are trying to find our way through this thing called life. We are not all on the same path. Each of us must find our own way. I believe that I have found mine and I TRY to walk it out every day. I am not interested in convincing you that my Way is right and yours is wrong. I welcome anyone to join me and the many others who are following Jesus, but it must be your own revelation that puts that desire in your own heart. If I truly believe that God speaks to the heart, I must believe that He has you in the palm of His hand and He will direct you. I respect your choice to walk where you feel led. We are not immortal. One day we will draw our last breath and then we will know in truth. Until then, my prayer for each of my friends is that God will lead us to the truth and help us to be true to what we believe.





I call BS.

26 12 2013
deep thoughts

deep thoughts

 

There are a couple of phrases that are always said with the best of intention in the worst of situations. One of these is, “Forgive and forget“. For years I have allowed myself to feel guilty because I have not forgotten. I think it is time to call BS on this one. I do not think it is possible nor practical to forget. I have forgiven some pretty life changing and heinous events Even when the offender has not asked forgiveness. But I do not forget. For example; At the age of fifteen, my virginity was robbed from me in a brutal act of kidnap and rape. After years of alcoholism and drug addiction and some deep counseling by a Pastor and his wife, I have been able to forgive. Truly forgive, as Christ has forgiven me.
Like most fifteen year old children, I thought I was invincible and I left myself open to many dangers. I was rebellious and arrogant and that permitted me to be with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time. What I did not know is there is always some sicko lurking and waiting to take advantage of just such an attitude. I have forgiven me for putting myself in that danger. I have forgiven the sick man who robbed me. I have forgiven God for not bursting through the night sky and ripping this pervert off of me. Done and done.
I am sixty one years old and I haven’t had those nightmares or re-lived that event in a very long time. My heart is no longer bound in anger, fear and hatred. But I do not forget.

There is another phrase that irks me of late. “Time heals all wounds.”

I must call BS on this as well. I do not see myself as wounded and bleeding any more although my heart is under going surgery right now. My heart has never been so broken as when Eddie the Baker left me here alone. I miss him every single day and feel somehow incomplete without his words of wisdom in my ears and his daily pledge of love to me. This does not feel like a wound. It feels more like an extraction. A portion of my soul has been torn off and the heart ache is quite literally an ache in my heart. It has been more than two and a half years and I still cry every day. Time is not healing my heart and soul. But God…  I know that God is mending this. Every wound my heart has ever experienced has been healed by God and this is no exception.He has promised never to leave me. He has promised to bind up the broken hearted. He cares for the widows and the orphans. It is God, not time, who heals all wounds.

I have recited both of these phrases to hurting people in the past. That will not happen again. And I will politely nod to those who say these things to me, choosing to see their heart and not just listening to the words. And maybe, on the inside, I will find myself calling “BS.”





A widow’s journey. Year 2.

15 09 2013

Photo 97yep< i am still wearing the rings. I just don’t see any point in removing them. I am not interested in a relationship because, well, I am still in love with my husband. I tried taking them off once and it felt weird. Plus, it didn’t make me think of Ed any less. So… they are a piece of me and they remain.

I am learning to trust my decisions more. This last year has been filled with some pretty tough ones.

I fired my family physician of twenty years! I have been uncomfortable with him and his office staff for a few years but I thought it was just me being particular. It wasn’t. Got a new doctor and I am much happier.

I left my church of 10 years. They have been an amazing family to me and it was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. I still love the Rock church and it’s members. This whole seeker friendly thing has become a thorn in my side. I just can not reconcile myself to it. The best thing for me to do is get out of the way. I have prayed HARD about all of this and God has given me some clarity on my situation. My choice is not right for everyone. It is right for me. I am patiently waiting for God to put me where He wants to use me for His glory again. In the meanwhile, I am quite busy praying for those precious people God puts in my path in my marketplace. So many folks need prayer and encouragement right now. It is my honor to touch Heaven with requests on their behalf.

God is teaching me hard lessons. He has stripped away most of the people that I thought would be with me through thick and thin. Some of that stripping has been excruciatingly painful. I have mourned the losses that I do not comprehend. Sometimes, I ask myself if I have done something to offend or if I am being judged… but, through it all He has spoken to my heart over and over again. “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

He is teaching me that He alone is my source and He is well able to handle my every need. As I depend on Him for my support and even the breath I take some days, He puts people in my life. Not to depend on but to lean on. I am reminded that even Moses needed help from people. Life can be demanding and hard. It is okay to lean on people some times but… they better be the people that God has placed in my life for this purpose.  God knows exactly what I need.

God knows who needs me too. It is a challenge to stay alert and aware of who God is putting in my life and what I can do for them. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile. Amazing how many people need to be smiled at. Sometimes I am called upon to just listen. It is amazing how many people feel unheard. I have become very good at keeping things told me in confidence too. My secret is simple. I bring the matter to God right away, before it has time to take up residence in my mind and make me think it is MY problem to solve. Then, I walk away and most of the time, forget. I am not sure if that last step is a gift or just a very bad memory. LOL. Either way, it seems right.

I still weep when I stop to feel the longing in my heart for my Eddie. I am not generally a weepy person, so I fight this a lot. Wet face, runny nose, puffy eyes. These are not pretty things and I like things to be pretty. But, alas, these are some of the things that make up life. So, I dry, blow and apply make up, pull up my big girl panties and march on.

 





Serving in Spain through the arts

24 02 2013

The message we are carrying to the women of Betel International is this: Live the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive those who have hurt you and walk into your new life without yesterday’s baggage.

It sounds like a simple message but, I promise you, more people than we think get stuck in sorrow and unforgiving. I know this from experience.

The women here have been through a lot. They have been on both sides of the fence; needing to forgive and needing to be forgiven. It is often so overwhelming to be in this position that people can not find the beginning of the road to healing and freedom.

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We are using the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament, an old widow and her daughter in law who is also a widow, to put into pictures how to move forward. This is the basis for the conference that we built to bring to the women. We call it Victorious Warriors because it takes a warrior to battle through the sorrow, shame, anger, and humiliation that has been heaped upon us over the years. We are survivors, and that is a good thing but a survivor can still remain a victim. It takes more to be victorious. It is a battle of the mind to stop believing the lies of an enemy who tells us we are worthless and doomed to fail at every endeavor. It takes a warrior’s courage to find the strength to try; to move forward; to believe that God has a better plan and He is not mad at us. It takes tremendous strength to take that first step toward HOPE.

When the women first enter Betel Ministries, they are broken and defeated. It sounds like a bad place to be but, in truth, it is the best place to surrender from. Sometimes the warrior must surrender in order to win the battle. We surrender the lies, the escape paths through alcohol and drugs and we surrender our wills. It is from that place of brokenness that we can begin again. We lay down the running and squarely face our failures and stop making excuses for them. We stop lying to people. We lay down the lies we believed for so long and accept the fact that God loves us and no one is worthless. And we lay down our self will and begin to learn how to embrace God’s will for our lives. It is good, His will for us. We have made a mess of things and He is waiting to restore us to sanity and a good life.

I read a lot of Facebook posts and some of things that crack me up end with the words, “said no one ever”. I have one that fits here. I want my old life back of lying, stealing, disrespecting myself, being drunk enough to pee my pants and high enough to puke on the police officer’s shoes… said NO ONE EVER.

Betel ministries all over the world provide refuge and a place to begin again. The people of Betel are courageous warriors. I am grateful for an opportunity to serve them.