Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Today marks 5 weeks since Isaac left this world.  I really prefer to write about the times when I am feeling most hopeful, most filled with peace, most joyous...but this week I had my first major "breakdown" since Isaac died.  Sure I've cried...I've cried hard...I've sobbed - but this was my first uncontrollable-curled up in a ball-half a BJs box of tissues kind of episode.    

Maybe it was because I spent most of the weekend alone - which though not unusual in my pre-Isaac days, was a change from the past 2 1/2 years of my life - I don't know, maybe it was just my mind and spirit finally settling into the reality of my loss.  Whatever it was, I found myself a shattered mess on Sunday night.  All late afternoon/evening I was mopey, I cried here and there out of the blue.  I decided maybe looking at our wedding pictures would help - I knew it would probably keep me crying, but I thought maybe seeing the happiness would help dry my tears.  As I was looking through the photos, I came across one of our wedding ceremony that I hadn't looked closely at before.  In this photo, I could see the look on Isaac's face that he gave me the whole way through our ceremony.  I never expected to cry like I did at our wedding, but I told Isaac later that the reason I kept crying was because everytime I looked at him he was looking back at me with such a deep and intense love in his eyes that it brought me to tears.  If you've ever spent any time with the two of us, you probably know this look - a little smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.  When I saw that picture, and saw that look - it finally hit me what I miss most with him being gone. 

I miss being loved by him.

I never really thought about that.  I knew I'd miss talking to him, hugging him, laughing with him, crying with him, falling asleep next to him, all of that stuff - but I never thought about how when he died, I'd never experience being loved by him again.  Isaac loved me with this all consuming passion and wild abandon.  He would've done absolutely anything to make me happy.  It takes a lot of patience to put up with me sometimes (right, Mom and Dad?), and he was so gentle and caring and selfless when it came to being my husband and loving me.  Being loved by someone like that is absolutely, hands down, the BEST feeling ever.  It's like God took everything good in the world and wrapped all up and presented it to you in a gift.  I like to think that feeling is just the way we'll feel every single second of every single day when we get to Heaven.

Our wedding ceremony... 
On that day, we laughed.

On that day, I cried.

On that day, he smiled from ear to ear.

 And on that day, I felt loved like never before.

Happy is the heart that still feels pain,

Darkness drains and light will come again.

Swing open up your chest and let it in,

Just let the love, love, love begin.

("Everybody" by Ingrid Michaelson)

Photos by Captured Moments Photography

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reason to Sing

If you attended Isaac's memorial service, you sang "Desert Song".  This song has spoken to me many times since I first heard it.  The song reminds me that in every trial, pain, or battle - I can cry out to God...that in everything in life, God is there.  Through all of the trial and uncertainty of Isaac's disease, God was the reason I could still find joy. 

Recently, I heard another song with a similar message that I love, especially right now.  It's called "Before the Morning" by Josh Wilson.
"Do you wonder why you have to
Feel the things that hurt you
If there’s a God who loves you where is He now
Maybe there are things you can’t see
And all those things are happening
To bring a better ending
Someday somehow you’ll see you’ll see

Would you dare, would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming
So hold on you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning."

The bottom line is:  Unlike our circumstances, God NEVER changes.  Unlike our circumstances, God is ALWAYS good.  That's why, we don't sing praises to our circumstances - we sing praises to our God.
Image from: Volume 25 @

Monday, March 22, 2010

Joy is the theme of my song...

...and the beat of my heart and that joy is found in You! 

If I could describe the past few days in one word, it would be, surprisingly:  JOY !  Remember my post a few weeks ago about Anticipatory Joy?  And the one about my lemon?  Well, as anticipated, my awesomely faithful God has been giving me heaps of sugar and turning my lemon to lemonade faster than I ever thought possible.

One small, JOY-bringing thing lately was the weather.  How can you not be happy when the sun is shining, it's warm out, and everything is budding and coming to life?!?  I can even appreciate the rain today - it's a good reason to relax on the couch!

The biggest thing that brought me JOY was the message our pastor delivered yesterday morning.  As I've experienced joy the past few days, this little voice keeps popping up in my mind asking if it's okay to feel like this so soon after losing Isaac.  I know I deserve to be happy, Isaac would want me to be happy, and all of that - I just didn't expect it this soon.  It's not total and complete happiness, everytime I see a picture of Isaac, my heart breaks a little.  But, I think there is a big difference between "joy" and "happiness" - and I do feel joy.

This morning's message validated my JOY.  It started with a trashcan and a recycling bin on stage at church.  Pastor Ed asked us what we do with our pain.  Do we simply try to throw it away...let it sit and fester in a landfill?  Or do we put it in the recycling bin, asking God to take our pain and reshape it into something good?  I knew my answer.  I knew that all along, God was not doing this in vain...that God was going to us it, and I was working hard to keep giving Him my pain and letting Him use it.  It gives me so much joy to hear from people who say how much Isaac inspired them, or who are encouraged by ready my words - it is for those reasons that I can feel JOY

I could rehash the whole sermon for you, it was that good, but I won't!  (You can listen to it here if you'd like!)  I'll just pull out my favorite verse:  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)  Isn't that awesome?  All the crap we go through on earth is NOTHING compared to the total and complete JOY we will feel when we finally reach GLORY!  It reminds me of the joy Isaac is feeling in Heaven right now, and how awesome it must be, and I am so happy for him!!  That hope - that hope that he is Heaven because I know he had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ - that hope is what gives me JOY

Friday, March 19, 2010

I am okay

A strange thing happened this week...I didn't cry every day.  As I was walking last night with my friend, Michelle, and talking about how things have been going, I realized that this past week has been different.  It's been just a little over 3 weeks since Isaac died.  When I say it like that, 3 is such a short amount of time, but I feel like it's been longer.  Maybe it's the change in weather, maybe it's the fact that I went back to work...but it just feels like it was so long ago.  I guess mentally, it was.  When I look back, Isaac was here in body until February 24th, but his mind was gone long before that.  There were glimpses of him, little ways we knew he was still with us in some capacity, but I honestly can't remember the last "real" conversation we had after the hospital bed arrived.  So, for me, my husband has really been gone since the beginning of February.  I mourned the loss of his sweet spirit while still getting to kiss him goodnight every night.
On Wednesay, I was driving home from work with the sunroof open, windows down, and radio blasting.  Isaac loved to drive on sunny days like that, too.  I found myself thinking "Man, Isaac would love to be sitting in this car with me," but instead of feeling sad - I was happy.  I was happy thinking about the times we drove random back roads on beautiful spring days, just listening to music and enjoying the weather.  I was happy thinking that while this was Isaac's favorite time of year (the birds are starting to chirp!), he's in Heaven now...and it's so much better there than it is on even the most perfect day here on earth.  How could I want him to come back from that?  Sure, I wish he was sitting with me in the car, but the joy I felt with the sun shining on me and the wind blowing through my hair is nothing compared to the joy he is experiencing at the feet of Jesus in Heaven.  And that felt felt so freeing. 

I am sad still sometimes.  Not in the way that makes me feel like the cartoon character who is followed around by the gray rain cloud...I feel more like there's this empty hole that follows me around - and when I look at it, I remember that Isaac's not here, but I don't look at it all the time.  I am starting to feel happy again...I feel free.  And, I think it's Isaac up there in Heaven who's cheering me on.

"My dead heart now is beathing
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs
Now I'm free.  Now I'm free.
Lift my hands and spin around,
See this Light that I have found,
Oh the Marvelous Light, Marvelous Light."
"Marvelous Light"

On a note unrelated to this blog post...
Nick & Friends Sarcoma Organization is a non-profit organization founded to support and raise awareness for all types of sarcoma.  They have been so supportive of me and many families affected by sarcoma!  They have designed a NASCAR for Toyota Racing's contest.  The car is covered in yellow ribbons, each bearing the name of one of the members of Nick & Friends support list - including ISAAC!  How cool!?!  You can vote for their car every day for the next 2 weeks, so please vote!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Isaac's favorite passage of Scripture was Isaiah 55:8-9 ("For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.") 

When it came to getting cancer, instead of thinking "Why me?", he thought "Why NOT me?  What makes me better than someone else?".  I'll be honest - when it came to falling in love with him, sometimes I thought "Why me?".  I wondered why God would have me wait 27 years to fall in love, and then allow me to go through such pain with it.  For awhile, I really believed that God would heal Isaac because there was no way He would allow me to continue through such pain.  I prayed hard for total healing for Isaac, and everytime we got another scan that showed more cancer...I got angry at God, because clearly - it was His fault.  One day, though, my prayers began to change.  I continued to pray for that miracle of healing, but I also began praying that God would give me peace no matter what the news was.  I prayed for grace, patience, strength, and the ability to accept God's plan - no matter what that plan was.  God answered, and continues to give me all of those things and more. 

Of course, there are moments when I am sobbing and sad and feeling crummy.  There are times when the grief smacks me in the face and I just have to give in to it.  There are times when I miss him so much I think my heart actually hurts.  But, they are just moments.  Sometimes, they are minute long moments and sometimes they are hour long moments, but they are just moments.  God has graciously given me peace before and after the moments of grief hit.  He reminds me that there is reason for everything, and that the pain I feel is not in vain. 

During Isaac's last hour with me here on earth, I read chapter 55 of Isaiah to him and I was struck by the verses that followed his favorites:
"As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11
This is a promise I hold tight to.  The promise that all of this - every tear, every moment of sadness, every pain - has a purpose.  I may never know that purpose here on earth, and I know I will still feel the pain of this loss for a long time.  But, I'll endure that pain for now, because the things God is giving me and teaching me through it all is worth every tear.  I'll live through the pain, because I got to be in love.  Totally, madly, head over heels in love.  It may have been brief, but it was beautiful...and it was worth it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things lately

I returned to work on Wednesday.  It was good to be back and to see my co-workers and friends again!  Man, am I tired though!!  My substitute will be staying in the room until tomorrow, which has been great, because I haven't had to actually teach anything yet.  I'm a little shell shocked coming back, and glad to have the chance to ease back into it.

Another special addition to my first few days back was the delivery of a "sunshine basket" (actually, 2 sunshine baskets!) from my pals at Dallastown.  2 baskets full of presents - I'm supposed to open 1 present a day until the baskets are empty.  I'll be honest...I opened 5 tonight.  Haha!!  I didn't mean to, but I did.  One, I was told to open first (goodies from Brown's that no one would want to go stale - thanks Megan!).  The second one I wanted to open was from someone (D'Orsie!!!) who was trying to convince me to open all the gifts tonight, and so she pointed hers out to me so I could open it up.  But, I opened the wrong one, so I got an extra!  The 4th one tipped over in my car (so, naturally, I had to open the card to see who the gift was from).  And finally, the 5th one I just wanted to know what was in it!  Haha!!

I wish I could say thank to every person individually who has sent cards, packages, letters, emails, etc. and offered dinners, weekends away, even weeks away...but I just can't right now.  Please know how very much I appreciate them all!!!  My mind and my emotions are just so tired right now, and most of the time I just don't even have the energy to talk on the phone.  (well, let's be honest...I never liked talking on the phone anyway!)  So, someday, I will happily answer more phone calls, write back to emails, take you all up on the offers of dinners out and time away....but for now, I am content with my couch, some Dawson's Creek DVDs, a good book, my cats and the down time by myself. 

Thank you all again for your support!  I have so many wonderful friends I can lean on when I need to, and knowing that - I'll be okay.  One day a time...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love matters, God is good...but sometimes life sucks.

I originally started this blog as a place to share/vent my personal feelings as I walked alongside my husband.  I didn't feel his CarePage was the place for that, but I wanted to write it all down somewhere.  As this has evolved, I have a new purpose.  There are a few things I hope you see in this blog, a few things I hope you come away with after reading all my ramblings.

1.  Love matters.  Love matters, and love is enough.  Don't hold off falling in love until "the time is right" - you never know when or if that time will come.  People give all kinds of excuses about why they aren't ready to make the leap into marriage:  they aren't financially stable, the haven't finished their next college degree, they want to live with the person and test it out first, they aren't sure what the future holds.  Well folks, you're never going to have all those ducks lined up in a neat little row.  We went into marriage on one salary with the possibility of huge medical bills in our future (Thank you, Capitol Blue Cross, for that NOT happening!), I am still not finished my Master's Degree (year #6...), we didn't live together, and we sure as heck had NO clue what the future held for us.  But ya know what, at the end of the day, the one thing I was absolutely sure of was that I was totally, madly, head over heels in love with Isaac and he felt the exact same way about me.  And that is what matters.  Marriage is not about all the other stuff, marriage is about LOVE.  And if you have enough of that, you'll get through all the other stuff.  It won't be easy, but you'll get through it. 

2.  There is a God and He is GOOD.  Isaac and I were both youth leaders.  This summer at a youth event, the students did cardboard testimonies.  Basically, you get a piece of cardboard and on one side write something bad/negative you dealt with in life, and on the other side write how God has changed your life or your view of that thing.  Over 4 years into his battle with cancer, Isaac's cardboard testimony said "Cancer sucks" on side 1, and "God is good" on side 2.  That's exactly how he felt, too.  He didn't try to explain why he had cancer, or try to understand what God was doing through all of it - he just knew his God was good.  Even in the midst of terrible crap like cancer, God is still good.  God is good - all the time, all the time, He is good.

3.  Sometimes life sucks.  Yep - it's true.  Even when you're a Christian.  Even when you have the God of the universe on your side.  Even when you are in love with the funniest, smartest, cutest, most awesome guy in the world.  Sometimes, life just sucks.  As cliche as it is, I feel like I've been handed the world's largest lemon...and right now, I don't have enough sugar to even begin to make lemonade.  But you know what?  Every day, teaspoon by teaspoon, God gives me a little more sugar...and one day I'll have lemonade.  But for now...I'm dealing with a big freakin' lemon.  And that's okay.

Thank you for walking this valley with me.  I hope you are encouraged in some small way by my journey.  Please, pass this web address along to a friend who might be encouraged by it too!  It's a lot easier of a journey knowing I have company along the way!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Up the rollercoaster...down the rollercoaster...

Yesterday I didn't cry once all day.  I didn't even tear up a bit.  I can't remember the last day I didn't cry.  My mom came over and helped me repaint the dining room, which is where we had Isaac's bed...and where I spent 24 days and nights sitting starting at the yellow walls.  I didn't mind the warm, buttery tone when we first moved in...didn't love it, but made it work.  However, spending the time staring at it coupled with what happened in that room...and it was time to say goodbye to yellow!  The room is now Glidden's Antique Beige.  It looks pretty darn white to me, but it's not white!  It is definitely lighter and brighter, and I think it made me feel lighter and brighter yesterday.  (It needs a few touch ups, but I will post pics when it's done!)

Today...different story.  Today I can't tell you the number of times I have cried.  Today I curled up in a ball in my chair and sobbed because I actually felt my heart aching.  I decided I'm going back to work next week on Wednesday.  This morning, standing in my kitchen, I had a slight panic attack about this.  It's not that I don't want to go back...I adore the people I work with, and my students never fail to make me laugh.  The thing is...going back means moving forward.  (now that I type that, it seems a little funny - back means forward!)  Right now, the only thing that has changed from my life is the fact that Isaac is no longer in a hospital bed in my dining room.  I still am not going to work and I can just remain in this little bubble of safety.  Going back to work means I will have to face people who will look at me and I'll know they are thinking "Poor Jess" (understandable...I'd do the same thing).  It means I will have to come home every day to an empty house.  It means moving on...accepting the fact that Isaac isn't coming back and I have to start living life without him. 

And I know...God is with me through all of this.  I honestly expected to feel angry at Him or feel like He is far away, but I don't feel that at all.  I'm sure much of that has to do with the many prayers of my friends, family, and even people I have never met who are reading this journey.  I put a little counter on my blog on Sunday, and it's already over 700 hits.  Wow!  I am humbled...and I am so happy that this little piece of my life has reached so many others.  God is doing great things through this!  My friend Michelle said she thinks "God's going to be doing some incredibly awesome, joy-bringing things in the lives of those hurting right now" and I know she's right!  I also know I'm not the only one hurting right now, others of you are hurting too - over Isaac and over many other things.  It is my prayer that this slice of my little life somehow helps you, somehow brings you peace, and somehow reminds you that God is good - all the time.