Guest blog: Groundhog Day

This is my first time sharing a guest post from someone I’ve only met virtually.  My family has graciously received story after story from friends around us of their shared experience losing a parent and the grief that follows.  My brother, Michael shared with our family when Troy’s mom’s cancer continued to spread.  We prayed for her knowing the pain of losing a parent.  Troy’s mom soon lost her battle to cancer on this side of Heaven.  Michael shared when he and Troy met, they both hugged with no words, but eyes full of tears.

We would have never anticipated the stories we would hear and share this year with new friends and old.  May we slow down our own plans and priorities and attune ourselves to receive and share in life’s joys and sufferings with those who God brings in our path.  Thanks for sharing, Troy.


troy blog

(taken October 23rd 1988, on my way to boot camp)

The world somehow feels different now. Every day I wake up, there is an unexplainable emptiness –an emptiness of having lost one of the greatest gifts of life -a parent’s unconditional love.

The emptiness feels like a small child who ventures out from safety, then they return to home base for a safe reunion.  For me, home base was my parents.  As we get older, we venture further from that base.  One day, we leave for good to start college or in my case, to join the Navy.  However far away we go, that familiar comfort of home base will always be there when we return.  Even in my midlife, I have a loving family of my own away from “home”, yet I know there is a home base beyond the four walls I now call home.

I knew home and its dependability, but the security of having a home base died for me on Feb 15th at 11:05pm when my mom took her last breath.

The gravity of such a loss threw me into stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in that order – or so I think.  8 months.  8 months since her diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. I guess the grief really began then, June 28th, 2016.

I thought at the time, of writing this piece, I was reaching acceptance.  I am only just now accepting the diagnosis. This could not possibly happen to my mother and definitely not the end result.  It still seems so unimaginable.

The very week of Christmas we learned that chemotherapy was having no affect on the tumor.  In fact, the tumor had grown and spread to other organs.  The doctor recommended that my mom surround herself with loved ones and enjoy each day until the end.  She still seemed so full of life.  It just couldn’t be real.

Each week she became weaker and weaker.  Each passing minute, a hopeless step closer to the inevitable.

In the last 3 weeks of her life, I woke up everyday to confront and face the reality again and again. It felt like the movie Groundhog Day.  Each day, I began the process of grief again.  Every morning, it felt new and still so unbelievable again.  By the end of the day, there was peace.  And then just like clock work, I would wake up and feel the same sadness I had the morning before.

On the day she died, I have never felt more relieved.  Then, the relief was replaced with gravity.  Gravity of my “home base” being lost forever.  Again.  Every morning new and empty.  Of course, my geographical “home” will always be in the same place, but my safety of my mother’s unconditional love will be missed forever.

Today is March 3, 2017 – a whole 2 weeks and 1.5 days since my mother passed away and every morning it is new.  New and empty, the pain repeating itself and then the peace, followed by another painful morning.

I miss you, Mommy.

-Troy Willis

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Review of “Steadfast Love” by Lauren Chandler

Let me sum this book review up in one word and get right to the point: YES.

Like, I mean buy it right now without second guessing anything in the world.

slove

(Click book to purchase in a new window.)

And if you follow me on Twitter, you know fully well that I have thoroughly enjoyed this book because I have stopped to tweet quotes in just about every chapter.

I have talked previously about not loving books that are in a different color font because I have terrible eyes and kind of hate wearing glasses.   So I’m not sure if it’s the book or the fact that I got new glasses, but I kind of loved that this book was written in blue.  It gave it a little dash of uniqueness.

As for the book itself, to be very honest I have struggled a little recently with books written by very influential Christian women because a majority of them do teach so much good about the Lord and His Word, but they are primarily focused on being a wife and a mom.  Neither of which roles I find myself in.  So when a book goes on and on about picking up that next sacred piece of laundry behind your kids, I tend to close it.  And Lauren began in the first chapter talking about her kids and her family and I felt my defense mechanism start to flare up, but then in the very next paragraph she was using words I had to Google to know the meaning of and by the next page was diving deeply into Biblical Truth that was so transformative.

“Maybe there’s a part of you that feels neglected by the Lord.  If He would just come through with this one thing, you’d know He loves you.  What if receiving that one thing would tighten your grip on the idol instead of stirring your heart toward the Lord?”

So Lauren continues throughout Steadfast Love to talk about the “false anchors” we are so inclined to find our security in and how the Lord’s steadfast love is so faithful to step in for us when those inadequate anchors, and inadequate gods really fall short.  I’ve been learning so much about this idea of how we all have needs (and it is completely okay and normal to have needs) but the issue is how and with whom/what we meet them with.

Lauren weaves so many passages of Scripture and pieces of her story into explaining this principle so well that God is the very best thing for us.

“We think we know what we want, what we need.  We think that what we have planned will squeeze the greatest amount of joy from our lives.  But the Lord knows what’s best.  He is what’s best.  So that storm that seems so inconvenient, so intrusive, so destructive might very well be the Lord establishing something longer lasting, more fulfilling than what your heart could conceive.”

And I was so touched by her authenticity every step of the way of struggling with vulnerability in community as a wife to a renowned pastor (Matt Chandler), with doubting her purpose or avenues to fulfill it, with a husband walking through cancer, and with many miscarriages.

So my list of people to purchase this book for:

  • People going through a hard time
  • People struggling with addiction
  • People who have just gone through a hard break up
  • Men
  • Women
  • People who are breathing

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will probably start back at the beginning tomorrow.


Have you read Steadfast Love?  What are your thoughts?

Do you have some favorite books/blogs that touch on the same topics?