Twisted (poem)

Like a wet rag in your hands

my heart is twisted

until every drop

leaks out my eyes.

But God

collects every one.


What Kind of Widow would you be?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

A few years past I read somewhere an article written by a man who asked the question: What kind of widow will you (a husband) leave behind when you die?

The suggested choices were :

  • Grieving widow, incapable of taking care of all she would need to in his absence.
  • Grieving widow who missed her husband terribly but would be able to move on and live her life.
  • Widow who isn’t grieving but happy to be released from her marriage by death.

Well, the ideal of course would be number two, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t a man want to leave behind a woman who misses him terribly but can at least function in caring for herself, the house and car and kids? That she would have great memories of  husband but able to live a fulfilling life? This is the ideal.

This gets at the idea of legacy.

As a woman in a difficult marriage though, being that kind of widow is a fantasy. I’m sure I’ll be able to handle the challenges that I will face. But I will not be grieving the loss of my husband. I would be relieved to be free of the bonds of  a painful marriage and would grieve what it would do for the kids, for all that I never was able to have while married and probably be thrown into devastating poverty as well.

Well, Lilly Grace, this is morbid and depressing, isn’t it? Not really.  Death is one way God can free us from a bad marriage and no, I am not plotting my husband’s demise.

Now the opposite question could also be asked. What kind of widower do I want to leave behind?

Separation or divorce do not bring complete closure on the pain and difficulties of a bad marriage. In fact the difficulties can sometimes increase. But death is permanent. We have no chance to make amends then. Even if love is dead, can our words reflect the grace of God even if our husbands cannot see it yet? What kind of legacy will we leave?

Lilly Grace

Secondary Losses

I was at a retreat for writers and had a delightful roommate. In our conversation she had mentioned that her therapist had been talking to her about secondary losses. Now I’ve just re-blogged the last four weeks on secondary gains. Losses, while I understood them, I had not necessary written about. So here goes.

For my friend, being a widow, there were so many things that come along with the loss of a spouse – but she had not recognized that there were things she gained as well.

Being in a difficult marriage sometimes all we see is our losses as well. What have we lost? Maybe we’ve lost the security we had hoped to have in marriage, financially, or relationally. How secure can one be when a spouse is drinking or drugging the paycheck away? Or sleeping with a coworker?

I think too often we soldier on and try to gloss over the loss but it eats at us from the inside out.

We have lost, and along with the hope of a healthy marriage where we feel loved, we have lost even more.

Perhaps your children don’t feel comfortable inviting friends over.

You would love to have company but your spouse offends people too often and you often get “I’m sorry, we can’t make it, thank you very much,” When you make your invitation.

Maybe you have lost the hope of buying a home due to a spouse’s financial mismanagement.

Or lost the opportunity to serve in a way you would love to – because you cannot depend on your spouse to support you and be there to care for the children. Or his behaviors reflect negatively on you because people don’t fully understand what’s happening.

Maybe you’ve lost the comfort of your spouse worshiping alongside you on a Sunday morning.

Or he is with you but the verbal abuse you got on the way to church interferes with your ability to focus on God as you desire to.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my confidence in my ability to make good decisions because they’ve been so often questioned and condemned.

Sometimes – we lose hope.

I think it’s good to recognize our losses and acknowledge them, because grief can hit us from out of the blue and knock us off our hard won stride as we try, step by step, to move forward and to stand firm.

So how about you? What losses have you had as you have chosen the path you are on?

Lilly Grace


The Lonely Heart

The Lonely Heart

They say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

But what if you’ve lost love but still have the person?

The pain of rejection on a daily basis is a profound loneliness that too many struggle with.

The wondering of “What is wrong with me that he can’t love me?”

The loss of the dream of ever feeling cherished, wanted and desired.

It is demoralizing.

It is painful.

And if she wants to honor God, it means she cannot seek solace in the arms of another.

Rejected and alone.

Rarely able to express her heart’s deepest longings and be understood.

Never to be nurtured.

Hopeless and voiceless .

But God sees.

He knows.

He cares.

As the lover of the wounded soul He understands rejection and abuse.

And He waits for us.

We hold on.

We pray.

We long.

We remember that this world is a blip in the timeline of eternity.

Sooner than we realize we will be home.


Cherished more than our human frailty could ever withstand here.

And our suffering will have been worth it.

So wait.


Stay faithful.

And know – you are not alone.


Lilly Grace

Glory Baby

Seven years ago I was newly pregnant and excited that we would have our third child. Maybe a girl this time? I was leading a ministry to women and it had been a tough few months with the team. I decided not to tell them about the baby until the December meeting when we made those kinds of announcements. What a fun surprise!

The Monday before Thanksgiving I started to spot. We packed up the kiddos and ran into the doctor’s office. A good friend watched my boys. I had an ultrasound right away and we found out that we had lost the baby. Eight weeks and this child was gone. A blighted ovum they called it.

No. It as a person from the moment of conception.

We had no insurance and decided to wait for my body to ‘deliver’ naturally. It took four weeks. Four weeks of knowing I carried within me the death of a child and all the dreams that die with it. Only a handful of people even knew I was pregnant. How do you tell people you have miscarried when they didn’t even know you were expecting?

I finally told my gals on the team through an article in our newsletter for our meetings. Cowardly? Maybe. Heading into our final Christmas meeting I got a disturbing call from my church. We were to reschedule the meeting. Seriously? Find a new place in five days to move 40 women and about 80 kids? Impossible. I ended up on the phone with my pastor. I respect him greatly and on that day I let loose. All the grief and sorrow of this baby combined with the holidays and stress of a difficult season in leadership and now this? I let him have it and then quickly apologized. Then I shared that we had lost a baby and hormones and grief might be amplifying my anger.

We worked things out for that meeting to everyone’s satisfaction. It was a tough meeting with great strains and heavy demands on me personally. One perceptive woman came up to me and asked me if I was okay. Bless her heart. I shared about the miscarriage. Seven years later I still remember her kindness to me. She sent me a huge bouquet of flowers. Extravagantly beautiful lilies with bright colors. Not the kind of flowers you find in Wisconsin in December.

Every day I looked at those flowers in my kitchen and felt God’s extravagant love – to me.

I was scolded by some for not sharing my pain. “How dare you not tell me you lost your baby!” Really? This was a team member who had not made the last few months easy.  I then called a friend who I knew had miscarried to whine. “Am I wrong to expect some compassion from people?” Her response: “Yes, you are.” Needless to say I never called her again for support in my grief process.

Still there were the flowers. As I reflect back on seven years ago and all the grief and pain and loss and the lack of support from so many people, even my husband. (“It wasn’t really a baby,” was his comment. He’s lucky he’s still alive today himself.) I try to focus instead on the flowers. One person, who barely knew me, extended such amazing love to me in my time of grief.  I think I’m going to send her a note today to thank her again.

It’s a reminder to us all. Sometimes it is simply a kind word. Or a letter. Or maybe flowers to someone you hardly know, that might make all the difference in someone’s pain and grief and the trials and struggles in life, even years later. In this day and age we often forget the power of those simple expressions of care.

My baby is in heaven. We call it our “Glory Baby.” He or she is safe in the arms of Jesus. Free from a sinful world that reared its ugly head in my time of loss. Yet God still shone through in the understanding of my pastor when I melted down (we still work together and it’s great!), and in my memory of that one woman who I have not seen in years, who loved me right where I was at.

My heart goes out to any of you who are remembering lost loved ones during this holiday season. May you have good memories and even if you have tears, may you experience the love and kindness of God in amazing ways.