Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tender Mercies

When Tony taught his seminary students, he’d often open his class by inviting them to share their “tender mercies” they had seen during that week. Occasionally I’d visit a class or two of his and get to observe the students and hear their tender mercies they recognized from their week.

I was drawn to Tony while we were dating because of his happy countenance. It was contagious! Despite whatever difficult thing had happened on occasions, Tony always acknowledged its difficulty and then put a positive spin on it by stating the tender mercy in it all. Those of you who know Tony remember asking how he was and his replies of, “I’m fantastic!” EVERY SINGLE TIME. I’d even tease him about his enthusiasm sometimes because I just found it so cute. How could I not smile when hearing “fantastic” about a thousand times a day? :)

This past week I’ve been doing some small studying on gratitude with some good friends of mine. As I glanced over my notes I’ve made throughout the week, I couldn’t help but feel that I should share, just as Tony gently encouraged his students to express their gratitude by sharing their tender mercies from God with their classmates and friends.

Here are the ways in which we can express our gratitude to God:
-through prayer or songs of praise
-by commemorating meaningful holidays (such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or whichever holidays according to your faith)
-repenting of our sins and shortcomings
-by showing love toward others in our good works

Ways in how we can show appreciation to those around us:
-sincerely telling them in person, in a message, or by a hug
-finding ways to serve them in return
-paying it forward by helping others in immediate need
-being a real friend by opening up about your life and listening intently to them about their joys and struggles

Earlier today I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I put my kids to bed and wished Tony was waiting for me to come and cuddle and have our nightly talks together. I miss talking to him about anything and everything with no judgement, and feeling his sincere concern and love for me. I thought about how this feeling will never fully fade from my life, that I will always long to be near him and hear his voice and hold his hand that fits perfectly within mine. How can I ease my ache when this happens? I can look for the tender mercies that I have now, and continue to look forward with happiness so that when I am asked how I am doing, I will honestly be able to reply, “I’m fantastic!”

So, to all my friends reading this, I want you to know a few of the numerous tender mercies I have in my life presently so for those who are struggling to find their own can see how such small things can have a big impact.
My heart is full of gratitude and thanks for:
-the wonderful love and outpouring from family who are always there to help me in any way I need at any time
-my sweet and dear friends who take the time and effort to talk with me on a regular basis and allow me to open up and “be real” about life
-my huge bed—- that once was a reminder of the emptiness in my life without Tony but has now become a family bed that any and all of my kids can climb into when they need some extra cuddles
-a healthy body that is able to care for my children day after day
-massages from my kids (for real— I had five of them rubbing my feet, hands, back and neck all at the same time last night!)
-new opportunities to meet new people and foster new friendships that I’d never would have experienced before
-being able to have my downtime each evening to work on bettering me as a person (outside of being a mother)
-the sweet faces of my kids that are a constant reminder of Tony and who help give me purpose in this stage of my life right now
-each of my kids’ laughs— they are all different yet all equally contagious and adorable

We cannot fully enjoy and appreciate the blessings in our lives until we recongnize how good life really can be and then show that gratitude. Our gratitude will in turn glorify us as we become new and beautiful from our cheerful attitudes.

Looking in the here and now, we can all find many more blessings in our lives than the difficult things. I don’t believe in coincidences because I know that we all have a Father in Heaven who will take any opportunity to show His love to us. And when we take the time to stop and look to see those tender mercies, we will see His constant love.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Dear Tony,

There is no other way to explain this but I am homesick for you. On days like today, my heart feels like it’s a stress ball, my stomach is in knots, my head is cloudy, the lump in my throat just plain hurts, and my eyes are welling up with tears every few minutes.

Grief is a strange thing; life can feel fine for awhile where I think of you constantly but with a smile on my face. Reminiscing about you and longing for you gladdens my soul with hope and excitement for seeing you again. But then some of those awful days hit when you least expect it as if being punched in the stomach. The after pains are just as intense as the initial blow, and I feel sick.

It really is homesickness. I long for our life together again where everything flowed and made sense, where I felt I always had a place in this world where together we worked toward our dreams. My ears long to hear your voice; my eyes to see your face when you laugh. If you could just come hold me for  a few minutes and talk and laugh and cry with me, I’d be ready to face another ten months of missing you.

This nasty homesickness reminds me of all the domino effects of things I don’t want to do anymore. I don’t want to mark “single: widowed/divorced/separated” on another form again. I don’t want to explain my situation to people and make them feel a little uncomfortable. I don’t want to tell our little Tanner over and over again that God can’t make you come back right now. I don’t want to navigate life’s challenges without your input and direction. I don’t want to miss you anymore.... because I just want you here.

Despite all the things I don’t want to do, slowly I’m finding the things I do want to do— and turn them into things I can accomplish. I do want to make you proud of how I am living as an individual and how I am trying to raise our children. I do want to sacrifice any “wants” in my life so that our kids will look back at their childhood, not feeling angry that you are gone but only grateful for how much they have been blessed. I do want to always be able to see God’s tender hand in our lives and know that you will always care and will be near. And I do want to encourage others in their daily battles by opening up about my own troubles, in hopes of letting the world know that regardless of our challenges we can persevere and become better through Christ. These are things I can do, and doing them makes the homesickness more bearable.

Tony, I also want you to know how much our kids miss you. And that they are all so beautiful and strong and remarkable in their own ways. Despite their own awful grief, they are happy, loving and kind; they want to be good and do their best. I know you are helping somehow and I want to thank you for still leading and guiding our family with me.

You have half of my heart with you and I am beginning to see that you left half of yours with me.
I love you.