Summer Change

13432209_10154244091423766_6576104470690387915_n

I don’t know about you, but the summer months can cause me to desire change and freshness. It is time to pack away the sweaters and warm clothes, exchanging them for shorts and cute tops. The black dress boots are placed in the back of the closet to make room for new sandals and hiking shoes. It seems natural that my summer change also includes a new haircut – one that is cooler and fun. The longer hair was hot and I was feeling dumpy and dreary. I have learned that the last thing anyone should feel is uncomfortable with is a look that is fairly easy to fix.

This summer change of a cooler, short haircut was far simpler than dropping those last ten pounds or taking an expensive vacation. These last five years have taught me to think for myself and be confident in my decisions. There are still times when I am uncomfortable with my grief journey. I still dislike going out to eat alone. I find myself getting nervous when in new situations with unfamiliar people. However, I have learned to take advantage of making changes when they are reasonable and within reach.

Getting your hair cut is a simple summer change. What other things might you need to change this summer to help your continued healing on your grief journey? Sitting down to set a few goals will help. Perhaps these few suggestions will get your creative thoughts flowing and aid you with a new beginning.

Pull out those tennis shoes and begin to take advantage of the cooler mornings and beautiful evenings that summer offers. Walking alone does not have to be isolating. Much inspiration can actually be found in that quiet time when all you hear are rocks crunching under your feet and perhaps some favorite music playing through your ear buds. The fresh air is not only good for you physically, but getting out and about in nature can help clear your head so you can see life in a proper perspective.

Pick up the phone and invite a friend to a ballgame or a show this summer. Being open to new friendships can be a very healthy summer change. Just as the time alone walking is a healthy step, (pun intended!) spending time building relationships can remind you how special you really are. Be open to blessing others with your time and friendship.

Try a new recipe. Summer is full of incredibly delicious fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of them and learn how to make a new dish or two. Not only will you be able to brag a little, but your body will be strengthened with healthy, new foods.

Take advantage of this season and make a summer change or two for yourself. Be confident and have fun with it. You may not be up to a short cut and new color. However, I am sure you can think of something that fits your style perfectly. Enjoy and Happy Summer!

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Familiar

me with carousel horse

I do quite a bit of typing at work between planning lessons and camps, writing material for classes, and communicating with people. In order to keep my wrists happy, I also use a special ergonomic keyboard. However, I have used it so much, that the markings on many of the keys are worn off. This has not bothered me at all since I am quite proficient at typing. Yet when others sit down to use my computer, I hear comments such as, “How can you know where the keys are?” I suppose it is because the keyboard letter positions are familiar to me. I know where they are without even looking. I can count on my fingers just landing on the right keys out of habit and years of practice.

As you continue on your grief journey, the familiar things of life often feel lost to you. No longer are you certain what the day may hold. Things that you have counted on fail to be part of your life now. People you have known for years are no longer with you. How can you endure the loss of familiarity as you make your way through life?

As I type, I feel my way along the keyboard. I know where certain letters are in relation to others. Typing has become second nature to me. What about in life though? Now that elements of your life have drastically been altered, can you still know where you stand and in which direction you should move? I believe you can.

As people, we tend to rely upon feelings to guide us in life. While this is a common practice, I am not so sure that it is always wise. Feeling for and expecting the familiar can leave you uncertain when all you are able to conjure up are unfamiliar emotions. While you long for what you know, you find yourself unacquainted with the demands of adjusting and modifying what you thought would be your life.

The familiar seems lost to you and suddenly you are forced to find a new path to walk; a new way to live. I find comfort in knowing that no matter how unexpected your life journey is now, there is one thing you can count on to never change.

God is a constant in this world. When nothing else seems to make sense, you can be certain of God’s sovereignty and ability to meet your needs, even in the midst of loss and grief. When all the familiar things you have been certain of seem to be gone from your grasp, the things of God are still very much in place and within reach.

It is with His help and guidance that you will eventually be able to look back at those missing, familiar things of life and realize that new feelings, new people, and new adventures have filled your days. All of the sudden, it seems that the unfamiliar is actually there to help you move forward. Life has great promise again. Hope and joy enter your daily picture as you become familiar with new things, new people, and new choices.

Do not give up just because what you know – the familiar – is gone. Instead, choose to look ahead and be open to change. Who knows, right around the corner may be an exciting element to add to your new life. Here’s to become familiar with fresh possibilities.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Please Remember

IMG_4541

I recently attended the funeral of a lovely, kind-hearted, young man. While I did not know him personally, I listened and learned as his family recalled stories of their life with this brother, son, uncle, and friend. He was much-loved even though he may not have realized it. Happiness seemed to escape him. And this made me sad. So I want to say please remember some very important truths.

Please remember that even though you still have sad days, they do not define you as a sad person. When you walk through grief, it is easy to be seen as untouchable and unapproachable. This is not because others lack caring for your circumstances, but because people just do not know what to say or how to help. As you move forward in your grief journey, that sadness will lessen allowing joy and happiness to move in and be experienced more and more.

Realize that you matter as a person. Please remember that even though life has changed, there still is a life for you to live. Because you have the gift of life, there is a responsibility to live that life well. Not perfectly – no one can achieve that. Your path will be filled with plenty of missteps and wrong turns. However, use those errors as motivation and do better next time. Embrace those circumstances and learn from them. Resist from giving up on yourself and the life you are living.

Please remember from where your strength truly originates. When I feel sad, weak, or overwhelmed, I recall a promising verse from scripture. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”                       2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) My strength is found in my relationship with Jesus Christ. When it seems impossible to move forward, surrender to and lean on Jesus. He will give you what you need for another day.

This recent funeral service touched me so deeply that I want to make sure that my friends and family know certain things about me too. Please remember that I know who I am. My identity is not just that of a widow, a mother, sister, aunt, or a friend. I am loved and treasured because I am a child of God. Even though I have rough days, I am never without hope. Assurance surrounds my life, not because I am a good or powerful person – but because I know and serve a good and powerful God. Please remember that I do not seek your pity. Instead, I desire for you to be inspired by how I live. And in those times that I fail to live well and make right choices, I ask you to forgive me. Please remember that I am an imperfect person who truly desires to point you to a perfect Creator who wants a relationship with you – His creation.

Until next time –

Karen

Won’t you consider buying Grief Letters for a loved one or for yourself? Begin the year with hope and purpose. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

Old and new things

 

IMG_5096

The last few days I was able to spend some time with my parents. While there, I experienced the end of something old and familiar. My slippers. Now, don’t laugh. Haven’t you ever had that special pair of slippers, socks, a favorite shirt, or special piece of jewelry that you just loved and grieved when it fell apart or finally disintegrated from overuse?

Well, that is exactly what happened this past week. I was innocently walking through their living room to get a drink of water from the kitchen. As I returned with my glass, I noticed something on the carpet. Thinking it was a spider, I grabbed a napkin to take care of it. Much to my surprise, the dark blob on the carpet was actually the sole of my slipper! As I turned my foot over to look, sure enough, there was a big hole in the bottom, exposing my foot to the air.

I knew the slippers were wearing out – but they were my favorite! They conformed to my feet and fit just right. They were easy to slip on and kick off. They provided the much-needed warmth that cool Colorado mornings and evenings demand. However, upon seeing the beginning of the end as my favorite slippers were literally falling to pieces, I realized it was time for a new pair. While facing the need for new slippers is not a real challenge, there are things in life that make you stop and contemplate the old and new things you must face in life.

The saying, “Out with the old, in with the new” makes the replacement of items in your life seem easy and carefree when actually this practice can be quite stressful and a source of much pain and anguish. As you journey through changes in life, you will face decisions. Your old car is demanding too many costly repairs; new paint is needed throughout the house; your clothes don’t fit quite right anymore or are falling apart from years of wear.

However, doing away with some items is easier said than done. One of my first big purchases was a new bed. While I tried my best to sleep in our old one, I couldn’t. Even though it was familiar and I felt a sense of closeness with Alan there, it was also the place where I found him that horrible afternoon. The bad outweighed the good. I had to make the decision that “out with the old, in with the new” applied and needed to be put into practice.

Are there things in your life that you need to release and say good-bye to in order to move forward in your journey? Change can be a healing factor in life. As I eventually repainted the bedroom a new color and rearranged the living room, I found that the house felt more my own. Walking in each day was no longer a constant reminder of the loss I felt and faced. Instead, I intentionally surrounded myself with items that brought me joy and healing. I moved plants into the front window area to remind myself that life is possible and growing is a choice. Crosses adorn the entryway as a reminder that I am never truly alone in life. God is always with me. I did not replace everything though. Some old and new things can exist together.

“Out with the old, in with the new” is not a betrayal to your loved one. It is simply a way of coping with the loss you have experienced as you learn to walk a very different path in life. Begin a list of those items that are wearing out. Decide on a budget that will work for your needs. Take your time. Nothing needs to be changed instantly. Make sure you are ready for the move forward, realizing that going back may not be possible.

For instance, selling your home immediately after your loss may be a decision you regret months down the road. Leave the huge decisions for later. Begin small and gradually move on to bigger changes as you gain confidence and experience healing in your grief journey. May you find joy as you experience newness in varying areas of your life.

Until next time –

Karen

Choose to give hope to someone in your life today. Share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.