Monday, May 11, 2015

Puzzle Pieces

The image of a puzzle piece has come up often in the last few years.  In fact, I blogged about it awhile ago.  Each piece of a puzzle is unique.  No two are the same.  The edges are cut differently and the part of the big picture on each piece is unique.

As children of God, we don't see the entire picture of our lives.  We only see one piece at a time and it does not give us a good look at the whole image of the puzzle our lives are forming.  It takes a lot of faith sometimes to trust that those dark pieces are part of a much bigger plan.  I've lived through a dark corner of the puzzle of my life recently.  Yes, there have been some brilliant glimpses of light along the way to keep me going but it has been hard too. At times God has graciously given me glimpses of what this puzzle He is putting together with my life looks like.  These glimpses certainly give me hope and increase my trust that He is indeed working it all together for my good and His glory.

Let me share one of those glimpses that time and distance have revealed to me recently.  Each one of these puzzle pieces at the time seemed like such random events.

  • Last spring we visited Abundant Life Christian School to consider it as an option for Brooklyn but decided not to change her schools as she had so much change in her life already.
  • July 2014, Dennis was having difficulty getting around and fell while I was at work and was unable to get up or get help for close to 4 hours.  I started working from home at that point.
  • Later the same month I seriously injured my shoulder and was unable to work.
  • In light of these last two facts, we decided to enroll Brooklyn in Abundant Life Christian School rather than the school she had been attending as her former school was near where I worked but 40 minutes from home.  
  • I remained on leave from work until after Dennis had died.
  • I returned to work in March but my job now required traveling.  At times that travel was planned in advance but other times it could be very short notice.  I realized very quickly that as a single parent with a child who had been through the recent death of her parent, this just would not work.
  • I prayed, sought advice and eventually left my job of 25 year at the end of April.  I did not have another job but just knew this was the right thing to do.  I had complete peace about this decision.  I knew the budget would be tight but I had seen God provide in so many times and ways that I knew I did not have to worry in this regard.
  • At about the same time as I gave notice at my old job, I noticed a part-time position open at Brooklyn's school.  It looked like a great fit in regards to the skill set needed as well as the schedule.  (It is a school year job so if school is not in session, I would be off from work.)  It would also be a nice supplement to my income.
  • I applied, interviewed and today was offered the job!  
Do you so how all of these pieces fit together?  From visiting a school closer to home, to having me at home to help Dennis so that making the move to this new school made sense, to the timing of an opening for a job that would meet my schedule and financial needs, God was putting together this part of the puzzle of my life.  I am amazed at the way God was putting this all together.  I am blessed by the glimpses He gives me of His hand at work in my life.  Isn't God amazing!

Other Updates

It has been a little over three months since Dennis stepped out of his cancer ridden body and into the presence of His Lord and Savior.  I often think about all he must be experiencing and know that my imagination cannot even begin to picture it.  I miss him so much and can't wait for the day we will be together again.

Recently when God provided for a financial need I had in a totally unexpected way, one of my friends said, "I can just picture Dennis and Jesus watching this unfold.  Dennis would have that smirk on his face."  I added, "And Jesus would be assuring Dennis that he was still watching out for his family."  

The day-to-day living without Dennis is lonely and hard at times. I miss him in practical ways, like cutting the grass, and in companionship.  I can't even begin to count the times I have thought, "I can't wait to tell Dennis about..." only to abruptly remember he is not there to talk with.  His presence is missed.

But we are moving forward.  God has a plan and purpose for the rest of my life and Brooklyn's life.  I choose joy and hope.  When I am overwhelmed I often sing this old hymn:


  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God has done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  3. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The blessings along the way are many.  I choose to count them and marvel in the amazing puzzle God is putting together in my life.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reality is Hard-But God is Faithful

Day-to-day life rolls on in a very day-to-day way.  Meals need to be made, homework needs to be done, the house needs to be cleaned, the winter fades into spring--life goes on.

At the same time, the emptiness creeps in. In the last week I have felt a loneliness and longing for my soul-mate that is a very day-to-day emptiness. I can't even begin to count the number of times I catch myself thinking about something I want to tell him or ask him about.  And then I remember he is not here to share these very day-to-day parts of my life.

I miss him so much and in so many ways.  I'm often over-whelmed by all there is to do and to carry alone as I walk through these days of adjusting to life without Dennis by my side.

BUT

I'm learning to lean hard on God.  His Word has reminded me over and over again that He is faithful. He is there to comfort and provide the wisdom and guidance my heart longs for.

As much as I miss Dennis, I know God has a purpose for the days ahead.  The Psalmist says:

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 13:16

Dennis' death was not a surprise to God. Before he was ever born his days were planned.  Not only is this true for Dennis, it is true for me as well.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your love, O Lord, endures forever--
Psalm 138:6

God has a plan for this season of my life. For the grief and loneliness--there is a purpose.  I trust Him today and tomorrow--although this season is hard, God has promised He is with me and He is faithful and fully trustworthy.

The statutes you have laid down are righteous,
they are fully trustworthy.
Psalm 119:138

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Month

How are You?


It is hard to believe that Dennis has been gone for a month already.  At times it seems like yesterday and at others it seems like forever.  We both miss him so much.

I am asked often, “How are you doing?”  My most frequent response is, “It varies from day-to-day.”  I find myself going about life and then it will hit me and it is all so fresh and painful again.  I recently went back to work and I find myself thinking often about talking something over with Dennis when I get home only to remember he won’t be there.  I miss that day-to-day interaction the most.  As time has passed, I find myself more and more lonely while at the same time having to pick-up and go on.  It is a strange place to be in life.

Brooklyn is doing well but misses her daddy a lot too.  We talk about him and at times that is easy and at other times it is difficult.  Both of us journal and that is helping us too.  I think Brooklyn describes it well when she says, “I just don’t feel right.” It will take time to adjust and there will always be a huge hole in our hearts.

Am I Enough?


I have been pondering the question, “Am I enough?”  In other words, is God alone enough in my life or is a complete life dependent on having the right circumstances, people or things to be fulfilled and content?  To be honest, I struggled with this, especially early in Dennis’ illness.  I could not imagine moving forward with any sense of completeness without him.  It was a real battle in my soul.  I remember distinctly a point at which I looked to God and prayed that He would do with Dennis as he chose and that I would trust Him to care for me regardless of the outcome.  It was a turning point for me in knowing God was indeed enough to make my life complete and to bring Him honor and glory.
This, by no means, means  I don’t miss Dennis or wish we could have grown old together.  I will miss him every day until we are once again reunited in eternity.  It is helping me to live expectantly for what is ahead.  I do not want to live like the best part of my life is over and only look backward.  I will always cherish the years we had together but I am also choosing to look ahead with faith that God has much in store for me in the years ahead.  I have seen Him work in miraculous ways during Dennis’ illness and I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for the future.

Is God enough?  Yes, a thousand times yes!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Two Weeks Home

Dennis has been home for two weeks - healed, whole and in the presence of his Savior.  Can I admit I am jealous of him?  After 32 months of battling this cancer, he no longer has to face chemo, trial drugs, MRIs, radiation, fatigue...He is alive and well in a way that we can only imagine.  For him, it is only complete joy.

For us, there is deep grief, tempered only by the sure hope that Dennis is indeed fully healed. Brooklyn and I miss him every single day.  Some days we do fairly well and others are so hard. Yesterday I missed him so much it physically hurt.  

Two weeks ago as we left the hospice following Dennis' death, Brooklyn wrote "Dad" on the back of the car.  She has continued to refresh this anytime it starts to get covered in salt and dirt.  


She misses Dennis also.  Like me, she also struggles with sleeping at night. We know in time we will settle into a new normal and feel better overall but right now it is difficult.  She went back to school today and I think the routine will be good for her.  I'll return to work in March.  

Brooklyn is also expressing herself in her art.  She told me when she drew this that she didn't know if Daddy could see us but that maybe he could.  


Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Dennis' Service

If you want to see the service and the slide show, you can go here:  http://www.cederholmphotography.com/Other/Animoto-Private/n-skMCW/  If you want to just see the service it is here also:  


I'm so grateful for the people who have supported us along this journey and in the last several weeks. We are sustained by your love and prayers.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Saw Jesus In You

Usually when I write, I have been mulling around a thought or idea for awhile and by the time I sit down to actually write it, it has already been written and all I have to do is put it in print.  That is not the case today so if I am rambling, that may be the reason.

I really don't know where to begin.  Dennis was an exceptional man.  He loved the Lord passionately and it was at the heart of how he lived.  He was a man of integrity but his motivation was not to be a "good guy" but rather to let others see Christ through him.  I think this song is so true of his life.




I shared on Facebook a conversation I had with Dennis after he had been to a brain tumor support group.  The discussion that day had been about "bucket lists."  Dennis looked at me and said, "I really don't think I will get to heaven and say, Man, I wish I would have..."  Heaven was his "bucket list" and he finished it on Monday.  In the 32 months that Dennis battled this cancer he looked forward to heaven.  I never once heard him complain about having cancer or all that he went through.  At one point when he was doing really well he said, "Don't get me wrong, I think I am going to beat this cancer and part of me is really bummed by that."  He truly was looking forward to heaven.

The only thing he ever was concerned about was that Brooklyn and I would be OK.  He told many of our friends this as they drove him back and forth to his appointments.  The day before he died I asked him if he was concerned about us and he shook his head yes.  I reassured him we would miss him but we be OK.

Shortly after he had left for heaven, I looked at him and said, "I so wish I could see what you are seeing right now."  As I work through the loss of his presence, that is what I am trying to focus on. He is where he longed to be and in the presence of his Savior.  Our loss hurts deeply but a reunion awaits for those who love the Lord and I can't wait for that day.

Brooklyn and I have been doing OK.  We have been busy these last couple of days.  Each night I sleep a little better than I did the night before.  I'm sure Friday and Saturday will be both exhausting and encouraging as we celebrate Dennis' life.

I am very unsure about the new normal that will follow but God will be there to lead us into it.  He has a plan for what is ahead of us and I know we can trust Him.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Dennis.  We were at the top of Trail Ridge Road in Colorado and he was throwing a snowball at me.

Thank you all for your love and prayers for us.  We sense the strength they are providing to us each day.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

Healed!

At 10:45 today Dennis left his cancer stricken body and was fully healed and in the presence of his Savior.   As he left his body, the hymn "It is Well with My Soul" was playing.  It is indeed well with all of our souls.  Dennis' soul is in the presence of his Savior whom he has longed to see.  I said to him moments after he had left, "I so wish I could see what your eyes are seeing."  Amazing.  He can walk, run, jump and speak.

It is also well with my soul.  I have a wonderful peace.  Yes, there is a deep sorrow too but a peace because of the assurance that I will see Dennis again.  I miss him already.  Heaven is that much sweeter because he is waiting for me there.

Details of the arrangements to honor Dennis' life and memory will be finalized tomorrow.  For now, the visitation will be at High Point Church in Madison on Friday and the service will be there as well on Saturday.

Please keep us in your prayers as we learn to live our new normal without Dennis.