He Is All We Need

My weekend in the mountains of Asheville was the first vacation I have ever taken by myself. I’ll admit I was squeamish.  I have wrestled with fear over the past two years. Anxiety is actually just fear, which if you break it down, is simply the enemy. As July approached I realized my anxiety had reached almost unbearable limits. July is a huge month. The Fourth of July, second to Christmas, was our favorite family holiday and this year I would be alone. July also marks the two year anniversary of my husbands death. It also would have been our 30th wedding anniversary. Emotionally the enemy was having a heyday with me.  I decided “no more”. 

This I did know: I had allowed other people’s actions to dictate my response to life which had resulted in anxiety i.e. fear. I had not allowed who God says I am to define me any longer. So I made a reservation in Asheville at the last place Robin and I stayed, as husband & wife, while he was still able to walk.  I needed to spend the anniversary of his departure to heaven gaining earthly closure. I needed to hear God’s voice.  I needed to declare the Blood of Jesus over the enemy!   Also, 1-40/Old Fort Road takes my breath away…as in terrifies me.  I needed to tackle that mountain ⛰ literally and  figuratively!

What made the last year of Robin’s life so beautiful was the fact that we intentionally submitted fully to God. We found wonder in the immediate. We forgave. We let go of the past. We welcomed in. We loved unconditionally. We offered grace upon grace. I allowed Robin to lead as a biblical husband, something I had never done before, because I wasn’t willing to give up my  voice, pride or control. He was my earthly bridegroom. He spoke words of affirmation. He was my center that year even in the midst of dying. When he died I lost my center. My love for the Lord had not changed; however, I was worn down and the enemy waged war.

Off to Asheville I went to find God’s voice again. I shot skeet. I sat in a field &  watched geese. I talked to horses. I spent an evening watching lightening bugs light up a meadow. I sat on a bench at the inn observing families and couples come and go. I watched the clouds roll over the mountains and roll back out. I listened to babies cry. I watched couples fully engaged and  couples completely miserable. I listened to live music. I watched a fierce lightening show which cancelled my horse back riding expedition. I went to bed early and woke up without an alarm clock.

It occurred to me that all of these things are God’s courtship with us. He is always there. Of course, I know that. When was the last time I really looked at lightening bugs with wonder, as if the Lord was saying “Elizabeth, I’m lighting up this dark season to show you new light”? I hadn’t. I listened to those babies cry, not out of annoyance, but out of thanksgiving. So thankful that God gave me two beautiful daughters. I shot skeet.  Robin & I just loved it! Our family of four loved shooting. I’m so thankful to God for those memories & that season.  I spent time at the horse stables. It brought back memories of my husband & I pulling a horse trailer all over the south for our youngest daughter to show.  It was as if God and I were on a first date telling each other about ourselves. I would give him a memory and He would show me something magnificent that He had created. It was a lovely 48 hours where I just let go of burdens. Pain became memories of love. 

What did I learn? I learned that Jesus is my Bridegroom. He is my center. My words of affirmation. He desperately loves me.  He desperately loves you. He lights up our skies to get our attention but we are too busy on our phones. When we are in a dark place he sends us lightening bugs to magnify his love and light our way. He exalts His love in the sunrise and the sunsets but we simply do not see Him. He sends us rain storms to wash away our pain. He gives us magnificent lightening shows to demonstrate his fierce blessing on us. He is literally all we need.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation so why should I be afraid?”-Psalm 27:1

Now There’s An Anomaly!

When I first started writing for Hope for Widows I chuckled to myself, “Now there’s an anomaly!” A handful of faceless women, of all demographics, trying to convince other women; yes, women widows on the internet that there is hope after tragedy.

Something inside me screamed “I’m in!” I mean, how hard could it be to share the story of loss, grief, resurrection, and new birth of life, so to speak, after the death of a spouse.Turns out that the joke has been on me, it is very difficult. However, trying to express my thoughts and put them into actual words that make (somewhat) sense has been cathartic and pivotal to my grief and healing process.

I have discovered that I am actually a widow anomaly.

(1) I’m relatively young as the general widow stereotype goes.
(2) My husband died of a horribly rare disease called Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS. People don’t even know how to respond to that. Guess what? It’s okay. It wasn’t a secret, we all knew he had it!
(3) I have one divorced friend. All of my friends are married. Although they were there for me at the drop of a hat physically the first year, life has gone on. They are involved in their own weekend lives. Phone calls or texts are still daily. We plan lunch or dinner dates. This has been a change going into the second year for me, socially. It was not until my husband died that I realized that my part of the world is couple driven. Being single is almost uncomfortable if you aren’t settled into who you are.

Anomaly.

There is hope in being a widow. You must get past the initial shell shocked pain. I don’t know when the grief leaves or if ever, but when the dazed and confused lifts you breathe. And then you access. Then you start to slowly rebuild. And there is hope in that process. Sure I miss having someone open doors for me, holding my hand, driving me places, spooning in the bed, intimacy, conversations, laughter, shooting skeet at the farm, the boat, vacations, texts to make sure I’m okay, flowers on Friday’s. I miss my husband of almost 28 years. I miss my most intimate friend of 33 years. I think that’s normal widow grief.

 

Here is what I find I do like, not because I want to replace my husband, but because the reality is he’s gone so I must live. I want to focus on what the positives are because I figure I’ve had enough negative for a lifetime, Amen? So here we go:

*I love  I don’t have a time schedule. If I want to stay out until 3am, (I don’t) I can.

 


*I love knowing every square inch of my new home is me. I hung every painting and placed every item. I organized the garage, closets, kitchen all of it. On my own. There was a rite of passage into the abyss of the new world and I like that.

 
*I like that I can purchase something and it’s my decision and not a family decision.

 
*I like  that I can go forward in life not making the same mistakes twice.

 
*I like  that I am in control of my finances. I let go everyone my husband used and picked my people. Not because they were bad but because I needed advisors with whom I could communicate and who understood me. And I’ll probably shake it up some more in 2020.

 
*I like that I have learned I will not spend my time with things or people unless they bring me joy. The old me accommodated and pleased the world thus leaving me miserable (and my family). Not new me. New me wants only relationships that flourish or are purposeful.

 

*I like that I can watch HGTV all day long if I choose too
*I like that my toilet seat is always in the proper down position.

 

Anomaly.

It is not that I wouldn’t want my handsome, charismatic, southern husband back should he walk through that door tonight–I would! More than anything. The reality is that  he is not going to walk through that door. So I choose hope, in what others may deem,  a hopeless life. There is both joy and hope in every  tragedy. We just have to give ourselves permission to find it.

Anomaly.

New Beginnings

 

Apparently today is National Widows Day. I’m not a fan. I’m not sure who decided this was something to celebrate. It’s not like we chose to be widows. It’s a title that, quite frankly, leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It’s a title that was thrust upon us widows without our permission.

I far more prefer to think of today as maybe “National New Beginnings Day”. I didn’t choose to be a widow. I am; however, choosing to go on with life. New  Beginnings as it were. That’s something worth celebrating! When my husband arrived in Glory at 12:32 AM on July 21, 2017, it was his New Beginning. “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”~2 Corinthians 5:17.

I also don’t celebrate National ALS Awareness Month. ALS is the disease that took my husband. I applaud and am in awe of those who tirelessly advocate for research, science and a cure. For me, and this is just me, the cure for any illness is first and foremost our salvation in Jesus Christ. The rest? Incredibly important–do not misunderstand me–a cure to any illness is vital. But if we don’t prepare our hearts and souls for heaven? Secure our eternal salvation? This life and our legacy will have meant nothing.

So call me a stick in the mud. You won’t be the first or the last. I am not celebrating National Widows Day. Because I don’t want to be one. But I am one. So that leaves me in a precarious position today. I’ve decided instead of celebrating my widowhood I’m celebrating all the glorious things God has done for me because of my husbands death.  Now that’s a new one isn’t it?

I can’t bring Robin back. Lord knows I miss that man with all that I am. My entire being aches at the thought of him. I am still here though. I am alive. I survived. So I am choosing joy. It is, indeed, a choice. A hard one. But not impossible.

Happy National New Beginnings Day, Robin Wooten!

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and the new things I declare;
before they spring forth I will tell you of them”-Isaiah 42:9

The Majesty Of It All

Last April our church asked to interview us for an Easter video. We were reluctant but ultimatley decided it was important to tell our story. I’d forgotten about the video until it popped up on my Facebook memories.  Both daughters shared it so I decided to take a quiet moment and view it.

As I watched I hardly recognized the woman in the video. It was me! I had no makeup on. I hadn’t colored my hair in months and I looked horrid. What was obvious; however, was my love of the Lord and my husband.  They both made it so easy! Mind boggling to think it was filmed just last April.

I have received several messages telling me how proud Robin would be of me. Honestly, I think the more important question is would Jesus be proud of me? I’d like to think so. Truthfully? I have really struggled to stay focused on Him. Yes, there has been oodles of grace along the way. Even still I have fallen short in many areas while navigating my new  life.

The enemy has done a marvelous job keeping me marled in the slop with the pigs. It’s been a tumultuous, heart breaking, lesson learning nine months since July 21, 2017. I’ve said it a million times: weddings and funerals bring out peoples true character. Character, I’ve found, really does count.

There has been joy.

Flower Friday continues to bring me smiles throughout my week. A lovely reminder that someone once loved me well even when I often don’t feel very loved.

My new home. The creative design aspect? Making it my own? Pure Joy!

Henry the Golden Retriever. He makes me laugh….and swear. Pure fury joy!

Friendship. Those who have spoken biblical truth and held me to the standard of the cross. Those who have reminded me the greater the testimony the greater the attack. The friends who have reminded me to stay the course even when the attacks come from within familial boundaries. Friends who have encouraged and corrected. Joy!

I often wonder who greeted Robin the night he went home. Was it just the Lord or was it all of heaven? Did the majesty of it all bring him to his knees? What crowns did he receive? Did he think “Oh, I wish Elizabeth could see this!” “Liv, oh man, streets of gold!” “These horses are awesome, C!” How amazing did it feel to finally be in a perfect body free from ALS?

Nine months. What a journey. You, Robin Wooten, are so loved and missed.

“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”-Matthew 7:12