I recently read a commentary that perfectly depicted how many of us are walking out our faith as we enter into Holy Week: defeated from a long cold winter. Dry bones. Let me paraphrase the commentary:
Winter is departing and with the resurrection the dead season is gone and new life begins. We are changed because of the dead season but not barren. Christ brings new life if we choose to leave winter and spring forward.
I adore this analogy. Just when we think we absolutely can not take one more second of the season? The Lord gives us a glimpse of His wondrous glory.
Christ gives us the choice to commune with him in new life because of the resurrection. Because of Jesus. A chance to move forward in anticipation of new hope and new life. How many of us choose to let fear keep us from moving forward? How many of us can’t quite let go of the past season in order to embrace the new birth of a bright fresh new season?
My puppy Henry, as frustrating as he is, has been my saving grace since my husband passed away last July. Henry and I have struggled mightily over who is in charge. One thing Henry has taught me? He doesn’t remember when I’ve scolded him or if he does he doesn’t show it. He leaves the past season in the past. He eagerly awaits my entrance every single time I come into his peripheral vision. He only sees the here and now. He only sees the good. Regardless of how I’ve behaved he’s eager to welcome me by bouncing and literally hugging me with his two front legs and paws. He loves me unconditionally even when I don’t deserve it. Shouldn’t we all be welcoming Jesus and new seasons exactly in the same manner in which Henry does? Jesus most certainly treats us with the same regard.
It’s sobering thinking about what Jesus physically endured for us. When I have that picture in my mind? I am embarrassed that I can’t let go of some of the dead bones from the winter season. Jesus. Brutally beaten to a pulp to take away our sins. We certainly don’t deserve it. He did it freely for us.
When we are walking around with dead bones? That is bondage. That’s us allowing the enemy to steal our rightful place in the Kingdom. This week let us all spring forward into thanksgiving and praise for the One who died to give us the freedom of new life.
“Faith does not make things easy. It makes them possible”-Luke 1:37
One year ago your swanky wheelchair was delivered. I filmed as you took that machine for its first test drive. PURE JOY as you attempted donuts at the end of the driveway. Laughter as you threw caution to the wind. We had no idea you’d be gone just four months later.
Biblically the Hebraic meaning of the number 8 is ‘new beginnings’. Ironically in this 8th month, since your move to heaven, my life is projecting forth with almost too many new beginnings for my comfort. My house is under contract (it ain’t a done deal till it’s closed), I’m in the process of packing up my home and 27 years of memories in just 8 weeks time, finding a new home, still dealing with estate issues, my oldest daughter is preparing for a new job out of state and my youngest daughter is studying abroad as soon as her spring semester is over. Oh, and did I mention I haven’t done my taxes yet? This will be a life changing season of new beginnings. One of complete and total independence. It’s also a season of being completely alone for the first time in my adult life. A time of total dependence on the Lord.
You taught us all so much in the last eleven months of your life. As cliche as it sounds you captivated us with your seize the day mentality and your child like wonder. You led us spiritually to a deeper understanding of seeking the kingdom of God first.
You are loved and missed more than words could ever convey. I’m excited to start this new chapter and simultaneously so very sad. If your girls and I can do 1/8th of the job you did demonstrating complete trust, peace and joy in Jesus? Well, we will have done something magnificent. Happy 8th month Home Going, Robin Wooten!
“No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one this: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead”
It was a warm sunny spring afternoon in our little married student housing cinderblock apartment. You had just come in from class. I was hand drying dishes when the phone rang. I cradled the phone on my shoulder next to my ear while holding a glass still damp with dishwater in my free hand. The voice on the other end of the line said three words that were so terrifying I dropped the glass. It shattered everywhere. You came running into the kitchen. “What’s wrong? What is it?!” I hung up the phone in disbelief. No, actually, shock. “I’m pregnant”.
We were told we could never have children. In fact, just 9 weeks earlier I had a DNC at Duke. Unbeknownst to us I was evidently pregnant during the procedure. The fetus should have been aborted. We stood in the kitchen looking at each other. I started to cry and you grinned from ear to ear. “What are we going to do, RW?” “Have a baby, Mama, have a baby .” We were 24 years old.
You’ve been gone 7 1/2 months and my sensory receptors feel exactly like they did 20 some years ago when we found out I was pregnant with our oldest daughter. It can’t be real. But it is. It’s shocking to the system. Paralyzing. “What do I do now?” “How do I do this?” All ridiculous reactions because I have been doing life without you for months now. Days are filled with activity and purpose. It’s the daily routines of our marriage that stop me cold in my tracks. Driving to supper club by myself I glance over to your empty seat and it takes my breath away. It’s as if my mind and my heart have blown a fuse. I know you are not coming back. I know you aren’t going to be sitting at the dinner table or in the church pew. I know this. But for whatever reason your absence is surreal in these moments.
Naomi, Job, Hannah, David, Mary, Martha & Jesus all experienced deep grief. I find comfort knowing Jesus wept over his friend. He loved Lazarus. He knew he was going to die. Jesus knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus. Guess what? Jesus still grieved!
This reminds me that where there is deep love there is deep grief. It doesn’t mean your faith is any less or that the testimony isn’t as valid. It doesn’t mean you are stuck and not moving forward. It simply means you loved deeply and now you are deeply grieved. And for today? That is okay.
“For your love & kindness are better to me than life itself!”-Psalm 63:3
This week I learned what a true hero my husband was. Yes, I get that, we all sanctimoniously elevate our deceased loved ones to sainthood but—for real.
Thursday I had an MRI of the brain. Pretty routine until they told me they would put a cage over my face. If you’ve never had an MRI? Imagine a tanning bed that closes while having a Freddy Cougar mask over your face then locked down.
The young tech was delightful. “Mrs. Wooten are you claustrophobic?” “Mrs. Wooten I have Sirius XM what music would you like to listen too?” “Mrs Wooten are you medicated?” This made me laugh 😆 Had I known about the mask ahead of time I would have been not just medicated but “heavily” medicated.
I was put in the tube and the young gentleman asked me again “What station would you like to listen too?” “63 The Message” I said. Jesus was needed desperately. He put the cage over my head and very kindly said “Ok, I’m going to slide you into the tube now. Don’t move you will be in here about 18-20 minutes. That’s about 6-7 songs”. And I was slid into the abyss with my hands by my side unable to move one inch.
Immediately panic set in. I couldn’t remember any scripture so I just started saying the Camp Seafarer blessing 😂😂😂. My breathing slowed. Michael W. Smiths “Amazing Grace” started playing and finally I was calm.
And then it hit me: “This is ALS!” This is how my husband lived the last months of his life: unable to move “locked in” but completely aware of everything going on. And the miracle of it all is that my husband not only praised God through the whole duration of the illness? He laughed! He rarely panicked. He was so focused on living & preparing for getting out of the tube, so to speak, that he saw his circumstances as merely temporary.
What a lesson Robin Wooten taught me! Why do we think that all “bad” or uncomfortable circumstances have to be forever? Scripture clearly tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” .
Two years ago I was a wife. Two years ago I was a mother of two college students. Two years ago I was a homemaker. Two years ago I snapped this photo of Robin and our daughters while vacationing in Charleston. Two years later? Robin is in heaven and I am a widow.
When asked today who you are how do you respond? Are you a wife? Mother? Teacher? Doctor? Realtor? Business woman? Who do you say you are? Who do you identify as or with? Think about that. “I went to Saint Mary’s too!” “My husband was on the board with your sister!” “I, too, was a Chi O!” “Our family had a beach place there for years also!” When the layers of identity labels are pulled off who exactly are you?
When I stripped away the title of Robin’s wife, Olivia Whitford’s mother, Carrington’s mother, Marc’s sister, Dawn’s sister in law, Sam’s aunt, George and Jane’s daughter, a girls school alumnae and a particular college university graduate? Who exactly was I?
When your kids are grown, the beach house is empty or sold, your spouse is gone, the job is over, your role has played out who are you? When you simply are just you with no titles or attachments who are you?
Last week I was captivated with the celebrations of Billy Graham’s home going services. It is estimated that he reached more people with the gospel than any other human being in history. His message was so simple. There were no titles, no tag lines, no pretense. Billy Graham knew exactly who he was in Christ. The world was captivated by the Holy Spirit living inside of him.
My life has changed ten fold in these past 7 months. I’ve been trying to figure out who I am without titles. The reality is we all have a Royal Title and Royal Lineage if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior: Child of the Most High. I do love some good jewelry 🙂 and look forward to crowns in heaven! This title is THE most important one of all. We put all of these layers and titles on to cover up the One title that the whole world needs to see and hear the most: Child of God.
“Until I come, devote yourself to public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching Gods word”~1 Timothy 4:13