Tuesday, December 31, 2013


January 1, 2014
The first day of a new year!

Reminds me of another time of "firsts" in my life.

I had come to Maine, to the ocean, because I sensed I needed to.  I guess I felt that I needed to prove to myself that I could.  But deep down it really was because I felt God guiding me and leading me to come.  I wasn't sure why, but just knew I needed to do it.

It was the first time I had ever come alone. 
It was the first time I had even driven here by myself. 
It was the first time I'd ever stayed in a motel by myself and it also turned out to be the first time I ever pumped my own gas!! 
It would be a weekend of "firsts" for me.

October 2, 2004 was the beginning of those "firsts" in my life.
October 2, 2004 was the day, Phil, my husband of 33+ years, died.

Wells Beach, Maine was where we had vacationed for many years.  First, as a family with our two young daughters and then, as they grew and left home, we started marking our yearly treks just the two of us. Gradually our trips to Maine became a long weekend in May to celebrate our anniversary, and a long weekend in September for the annual Chili-Fest, and most years, we also managed to spend a whole week there sometime in between.  We loved our time there, loved the ocean, salt air, the lazy and relaxing days, our long walks on the beach and just being together.

But now, going all by myself, 10 months after losing my husband, I was apprehensive and wondered if I could handle it.  So many wonderful memories of happier times, family times, couple times.  But I was also feeling that I wanted to lose myself for the weekend in those memories, so I set out not knowing what awaited me.

The first day I was there, I drove to "our bench" and just sat and watched the waves crash on the shore and I remembered the many times we brought our lunch and sat on this bench together.  We would just sit, eat and enjoy the sun, the breeze, but mostly, we just enjoyed our time together.

In the years since the kids had been gone from home, we had grown closer as a couple and our love for one another had deepened.  We loved the time we were able to spend together and guarded it diligently.  The love we had found together so many years ago was renewed, refreshed and restored to us and we looked forward to growing old together.

But now, I needed to find "me" here without Phil to know that I would be okay.  His death was so unexpected and sudden and I was still living with a mind that could barely comprehend what had happened.  But for this one weekend, I was going to remember, grieve, remember and grieve some more. 

I went to all our favorite places; took the drives he always liked to take, went to the beaches that were our favorites and remembered. 
I walked the miles of sandy beaches and remembered. 
I remembered his child-like surprise whenever he found an ocean treasure. 
I remembered his gentle patience with me because I never wanted to leave the beach. 
I remembered our long walks on the beach; playing cribbage on the beach, desperately trying to hold on to the cards in the strong ocean breeze. 
I remembered, especially, our last trip to Maine.  He was not able to do all he once had done; he was held back by the feeding tube and IV pole, but he so wanted to make the trip for me - he wanted to give me this time because he knew how much I loved it.  He was able to go the Chili-Fest while I sat on the beach and when he returned that day, he brought with him a beautiful gold pin for me that he had found at a local craft fair.

As I walked the beach that last morning in Maine by myself, I stopped to sit and reflect on the last beach he had sat on with me.  A stone caught my eye and I decided to pick it up as a marker of this weekend of remembrance.  As I turned it over, I gasped!  The stone was shaped like a heart with a piece gone from the lower left hand side.  I felt God whisper soft and gentle to me -

"A piece of your heart is gone; died with your husband, but you will be okay!"

As I left Wells, Maine that day and started home, God began to show me the real purpose of my trip.  It was to say good-bye to my husband; something I had not had a chance to do before he died.  He died on an operating table surrounded by strangers and we had no warning that this surgery could or would take his life.  So God had brought me here, to a place we both loved so dearly, to say my good-bye - to take that first step into the unknown of my new life.  I was leaving behind my best friend, my lover, my husband and soul-mate, but God had assured me I would be okay.

As I continued to drive away, it was almost as if I heard Phil say to me - "We made so many wonderful memories together, Donna, but now it's time for you to make some new ones of your own."

On this first day of a new year, if you're starting some "firsts" of your own, be assured that God is right there with you, leading and guiding you. 

The year is new, with no mistakes yet, and it stretches out, like a road, before you. Who knows where it will take you? Only God!

What "firsts" will you experience this year?
Whatever they are, they will be laced with His grace!
His grace that is more than sufficient no matter the circumstance!
His grace will sustain you, grow you, surround you and envelop you!

His grace is always enough!
HE is always enough!

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, ......"
Philippians 3:13


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