Our Portion

“My dear and precious friends, whom I deeply love, you have truly become my glorious joy and crown of reward. Now arise in the fullness of your union with our Lord I plead  with Euodia and Syntyche to settle their disagreement and be restored with one mind in our Lord. I would like my dear friend and burden-bearer to help resolve this issue, for both women have diligently labored with me for the prize and helped in spreading the revelation of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers. All of their names are written in the Book of Life. Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a single thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day,  offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Follow the example of all that we have imparted to you and the God of peace will be with you in all things”Philippians 4:1-9

As I read this letter from Paul to the Philippians I have a huge smile on my face. I’m smiling because though saved? Not much has changed amongst us fallible and squabbling people in 2,000 years has it? The perfectionist in me finds this somewhat of a relief.

There is so much to love about all nine of these verses! My favorite being:

         “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing”

Paul goes on to say:

“Be saturated  in prayer throughout  each day, offering your
faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude”

And my very part:

“Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that
transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you”

The enemy has convinced our society that all answers to life and all fulfillment of life can only be found in the material. Guess what? We have bought into the lie! Every aspect of our culture involves instant gratification. The irony is it seldom gratifies us longer than an instant.

For eleven months our family had the privilege of witnessing my husband live out Philippians 4. He was saturated in God’s word, precision focused on what is righteous and true, full of joy and laughter and not worried about anything except  the present. I can only describe it as a supernatural season. We knew we were a part of something bigger than we were and very special. I believe Robin’s illness (ALS) and testimony were used not only for God’s glory but as a wake up call for our family and many in our community.

When we focus on what is good, righteous and true? Immediately we are able to identify what and who or whom is unhealthy and or hurtful in our lives. It also helps us to be appreciative, thankful and filled with over flowing gratitude for all that we do have verses  all that we think we should have. Jesus should be our portion. Our everything because we are His everything.

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He Is Enough

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money including greed, lust & craving for earthly possessions and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for God said, I will never forsake you or leave you”-Hebrews 13:5

If you live in the South this time of year your social media starts blowing up with pictures of the beach. The mass exodus has begun. Historically, at least for us here in Eastern NC, April kicks off beach season. Hands down my favorite time of year. Getting back out on the water. Breathing the salt air. Beautiful sunsets. Glorious views. The whole season. Everything. Soothes my soul.

They tell me there’s a real thing called FOMO: fear of missing out. I totally get it. It’s easy to scroll through Instagram or Facebook and see who is at the beach. What large fun family gathering is taking place. Who went where over Easter break. It’s far too easy to be dissatisfied with the circumstances you’ve been dealt. Rather than walking out your season as God called you? You scroll through social media and compare yourself to everyone else’s perfectly orchestrated lives full of staged grandeur.

We all have a hole inside that is empty, burns and is raw. It longs to be filled. Social media deceives us into believing the world can fill us. That’s simply a lie from the enemy. The only thing that can fill the hole is Jesus. If we don’t fill it with Jesus? More things, more dissatisfaction, more FOMO.

This Easter as I sat without my husband and entire family in church I realized how quickly time is moving. A year ago we were a family. Today? Life looks very different. We still feel the absence of Robin in every aspect of our life. I honestly don’t know how people survive lifes tragedies without God. If that hole wasn’t filled in my soul? I believe my entire being would have collapsed at the weight and magnitude of the year.

As I scroll through my newsfeed the next couple of weekends? When my heart in envious for saltwater? When I have a lump in my throat longing for what once was? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God is promising me that He will never leave me nor forsake me.

He is enough.

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His Wondrous Glory

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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

PURE JOY


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”
-Philippians 3:13

Locked In

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” .

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Insert Smiley Face Here

I had someone contact me this past week asking if I could talk. She wanted marital advice. I assured her I was not who she needed to talk too. Like, hands down, not her answer. In our town, in our age group, there are some extraordinary examples of loving marriages with longevity. “Talk to those couples” I told her. She went on to explain that I was who she needed to talk too. She wanted to know how my husband and I have managed to stay happily married for almost 27 years. “Especially in the face of all that y’all have experienced in the past several years?” This made me laugh. “Oh my, you don’t even know the half of it” I thought to myself. Insert smiley face here 😀. She wanted to know our “secret”. I didn’t even have to think about my answer. “God” Literally. No magic potion. No fairy dust. We’ve always had a great affection for one another. But even that “spark” wasn’t enough to sustain a long term marriage, of any substance, once the enemy set his foot in our home.

 
Several years ago my precious husband and I separated. Well, I didn’t think he was real precious then. And, if we are being candid, he probably would have described me with a word that starts with the letter “B”. At the time we had one daughter in boarding school and one in college. We had separated for all of, I think, a week. He texted me and said “Can we talk? I want to come home.” We were both miserable. But my pride was so strongly misplaced I told him “No”. I wanted him to suffer. Yep, that “B” word was probably quite accurate. Insert another smiley face here.😀

 
What drives two people, crazy about each other since they were legal to vote, to be unable to see eye to eye? Two people who had been best friends, crazy in love, loved their children? Two people who consciously planned out their goals, their expectations, their dreams? Two people active in their church, their children’s school, and their community? Two people who adored each other and their family? How did we become so detached?

 

 

We sought Godly counsel and marriage counselors. Every professional said the same thing “Y’all are at an impasse. It’s not resolvable.” One counselor said “What makes you think you should stay married?” Both of us responded exactly the same “We believe in marriage. We love each other. We don’t like each other right now. But we don’t want to give up.”
And we didn’t. We decided to ditch outside advice. I’d like to tell you we held hands and prayed together. Sang kumbaya. That we ran down to the beach for a romantic weekend. We didn’t. My husband came home. And actually we slept in separate bedrooms for several weeks. I could hear him snoring in the guest bedroom. I prayed constantly for him to change. Isn’t that hilarious? Not me. Him. I’m sure he prayed constantly that I would just shut the bleep up.

 
I will say this young wives and mothers: Put God first. Period. Next, love your husband. Keep your marriage your number one earthly priority. Then your children. When our girls were young my in-laws graciously took care of our girls about one weekend a month. We put romance on the calendar. Yes. Yes, we did. We actually wrote “it” on the calendar. Plugged romance into our blackberries ( remember those?) Sometimes to a fun destination. Sometimes a weekend in a hotel in the Capitol city. Other times just a quick overnight to the beach. We put us first. As long as we did that consistently we were on the same page. We penciled in these date weekends until our oldest hit travel ball age. The youngest had just started showing ponies competitively.

 
Our new approach to that season of life was divide and conquer. I took one child he took another. One of us was watching horse shows all weekend while the other was watching a ball game. Our weekends were consumed with our children’s aspirations of athletic excellence. We bought into it. And, don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful season in life. We cherished that time with our daughters. Memories to last a life time. Good memories. Fun times. Great friendships with other parents were made. But little by little we lost us. Conversations were about our kids. Calendars were penciled in with pictures of field hockey sticks, basketballs or ponies. No more red hearts symbolizing our sacred weekend getaways. We were in hotels alright–each with a different kid often in different states–not together.

 
Loving our kids to death just about killed our marriage. We were always a united front when it came to our kids. But as a couple we had lost intimacy. There wasn’t one defining moment. It just happened. Some how, some way, the enemy got a foothold into our marriage. Young wives and mothers put your husband and your marriage first. You’re welcome. Insert know-it-all smiley face here.😯

 
I don’t know when it happened. It wasn’t one big thing. It wasn’t one love story moment made for life time TV. We both just decided to stop acting like selfish children. We vowed to keep past wounds in the past. For real. We don’t ever revisit “you said & you did”. Honestly, God just showed up. I’m sure He was always there. But for whatever reason, maybe He was waiting for us to stop acting like six year olds, we forgave each other.

 

 

We each vowed to do for the other what made us feel special. I cook 4-5 nights a week. I have dinner ready when Robin walks in the door. I know this makes him feel taken care of. Appreciated. He’s hungry when he gets home and he’s cranky (hangry). Prepared food literally lights up his entire face. Sounds old fashioned? I figured it out. He makes decisions all day long. Big ones that effect peoples lives. When I have food ready someone has made a decision for him that he can enjoy.He brings me flowers every single Friday. I look forward to it more than you can imagine. They’re different varieties and colors every week. They make me smile every time I walk into the kitchen. He grocery shops for me now. I’m claiming that one! I know it’s probably because he can better stick to a budget. Don’t care–just love that it’s done.

 

 

We don’t schedule romance anymore. For the most part it just happens. Probably not as frequently as my husband would like. Insert winking smiley face 😉. But I don’t hear him often complain–so there you go.We’ve been together since we were 18 years old. That’s a lot of mistakes. A lot of trial and error. A lot of pain. But a whole lot of love. A great friendship. And a lot of fun. We had a really strong foundation in our marriage. We really had good intentions.

 

 

I’m just going to put this out there: putting our kids first, for that short season, was detrimental to our marriage. And if we are being really honest? Making them the center of our universe probably was detrimental to their decision making.

 

 

Warning: I have a theory. As a married couple you become yoked as one. Through that yoking God shows you humility and servitude to and for your partner. You love and respect that person. You want to make them happy. When the biblical order of marriage and life gets rearranged? You become unyoked.  Have you ever tried to separate a yoke from egg whites in a pan? You can’t do it. Crack a full egg into a hot pan. Let it sizzle, heat up. Take your fork and try to just make a fried yoke by separating it from the center of the frying egg. It runs all over the place. Eventually you just have to make scrambled eggs. Everything becomes a scrambled mess.  It all ran together with no definition of separation. Just sort of thrown together. It’s still good. It works just find but its not great.  And there lies the rub–you separated the yoke and convinced yourself that just okay was good enough for today.

 

 
Do we each still have our own issues to work on? Absolutely. Do we each still have idiosyncrasies that drive each other crazy? Yes! That’s called life. Is it now all butterflies, unicorns, skittles, and rainbows? Insert laughing hysterically smiley face 😂.  Um, absolutely not. Would I change any of it? No, not for a moment. We have two grown daughters that are truly joys to be around. We, now, have a biblical marriage. There’s no one I’d rather spend my days with than this man. No one.

 

 
It’s funny, if you do marriage God’s way there really isn’t that much work. And, yes, I’d be the first one to say “Oh, Dear Gawd, paleez!” But it’s true! Pray together. Pray for each other. Pray for your children. Keep romance alive and well –even when you don’t feel like it. It makes your spouse feel like the most important man on the planet. It makes your spouse think you are Wonder Woman. Who doesn’t want to be Wonder Woman?

 

 
Slowly you’ll find you are serving each other before yourself in all aspects of life. Without complaint. With joy. There are no more runny egg yokes. There are no more sub-par scrambled eggs. The yoke is light, easy, and perfectly cooked. Insert heart eyes smiley face here.😍


“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and  you will find rest for your souls.”-Matthew 11:29