In May of 2017 I lost my husband, my best friend, the man who called me Babe for 33 years.
It was unexpected. I dropped him off to go kayaking and He went home with the Lord instead of coming home to me.
The journey isn’t one I would wish on anyone but sadly I know it happens every day. Initially I journaled the journey because that’s who I am but then I had a friend of a friend hit the same storm I was walking through. She was hurting and trying to walk through something, a journey I had already begun. My friend sent her my FB name and asked her to walk with me from May 5th forward… because in an effort to keep everyone updated and be transparent about this painful leg of my journey I had started sharing my heart there.
In an effort to keep it where others can use it. I will be going through adding in all my moments from a WIDOW’S HEART. While nothing can take away your loss or fill the space on the other side of your bed, sometimes just knowing that the pain you are walking through is ‘normal’ is a help.
AND IT BEGINS.
May 5, 2017
Hello family near and far, Lenny got a pass to go straight to Jesus… and he’s gone.
Please pray for me I just lost my best friend.
I HAVE BEEN ASKED WHAT HAPPENED AS MY INITIAL POST WAS BRIEF. HERE IT IS FULL BUT I WILL BE SLIDING AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER AGAIN and will check in and read all your post when my heart stops skipping a beat.
However I thank you for they have been a great encouragement to our families. I just can’t read them yet. LOVE YA’LL…
Last Wednesday night Lenny & I left for our getaway to the river just like always… ready to escape for just a few days and be alone, and together, all at once.
Thursday, it rained and we played lazy watching movies, sleeping in and grabbing catfish for supper at Mack’s.
Friday, he woke up ready to fish and set his kayak in the water and headed down river toward Pangburn. Three and 1/2 hours later he called and said he was done and asked me to pick him up so we could play some cards.
When I got there he was so excited about the number and size of the trout he’d caught. Fishing has always been one of his favorite pastimes, clearing his head and heart while casting a line with the Fisher of Men.
After I beat him at hand and foot the first game – he beat me on the second game making us even. We had an early supper and then he said he wanted to launch his kayak at the boat ramp and float down to campsite. It was almost 6 so he wouldn’t be long… he just wanted to cast around a bit. So I dropped him off and went back to try to find something to do to kill a bit of time.
Feeling a bit edgy – a bit flustered for no good reason – I figured it was because that kayak and those fish kept trumping in on my time. So I decided rather than sit and wait I would drive across the dam to watch the sun set and check the water levels as we’d had a LOT of rain.
I came back an hour or so later and Lenny still wasn’t at camp however it’s not odd for Lenny to head over to another campground to visit so I didn’t think much about it. Then it started getting dark and my heart skipped a beat when I realized the kayak wasn’t there either.
Ducking inside the camper I saw no sign of his return, normally he would have grabbed his phone and checked messages as soon as he got back, but there it lay on the dresser. Picking it up I saw there were several messages and hit play.
A gentleman’s voice came over the line… he just wanted to let the owner of the kayak know they had found it submerged and retrieved it and then left his number so we could arrange a pick-up.
Fear gripped me as I jumped into his old red truck and raced up to the Campground Office. They couldn’t help me and advised me to call 911. I did that as I rushed back to the campsite hoping beyond hope that he would be there and chastise me for being silly.
No Lenny. Nowhere. So I did what comes naturally when there is an emergency… I called and asked folks to start up a prayer chain. Then I did the thing I didn’t want to do, I conceded I might need more than prayer and called Lenny’s sisters, my siblings and then our 2 children.
I could feel the weight of it rolling over me as I kept praying for a miracle. Lenny was one of the most faithful, compassionate men of God I had ever known. Surely God would grant us a ‘grace card’ and he’d be walking into camp any minute. Maybe he just landed on the wrong side of the river and was waiting for daylight or a ride as three river gates had been running wide open from the dam.
But between every prayer my heart grew numb-er and sobs would wash over me in waves – then faith would answer, “God does miracles everyday.” However I also knew that God has an appointed hour for every heart.
Breaking down I realized I hadn’t even told him I loved him today.
The couples next door slid in to check in on me as I had asked them if they had happen to see my husband earlier as he was missing.
I wasn’t okay but I couldn’t move. It seemed like an eternity before the sheriffs office showed (though I doubt it was). Their concern became the opening of another water gate in an hour. Urgently he began making calls to halt the water release and then another deputy showed up, then another. While one talked to the Corps of Engineers about stopping generation, another was on the line calling in Game & Fish people with the right boats for the now low rolling river, who had knowledge of the Little Red.
Then they begin asking me questions: When did he leave? Where did he leave from? What was he wearing? My head was spinning. I couldn’t swallow or think. All I could do was give them their answers. When they stepped off, I broke down then I was forcing myself to pray and I repeated those two actions again and again.
Vicki (Lenny’s middle sister) and her husband Doug were the first to make it in and we clutched and wept. One by one other family and friends and our children arrived. Sherry and Don, came along with Don’s brother. Lenny’s baby sister Dindy and her husband Gary came in as well. Unable to sit and wait, they took off with our daughter Skyye who had arrived with Stephen & one of our former youth, Justin Haycook to walk along the rivers edge. Joey and Kathy drove up from the church we had been serving the past year and a half. We were all a mess… all of us. Some lingered on the outskirts others with flashlights and phones in hand spread out to do on land what the boats along 4 stretches of the Little Red had begun to do on the river.
Vicki & I just kept repeating, “Lenny’s an incredible swimmer he’ll be okay… Right?” Yet the minutes ticked by with no Lenny.
Our son, Curtiss & Lindsay his wife made it from Little Rock. Our youth pastor and his wife showed up for support and to help. When my brother showed up, along with my brother-in-law and nephew, I just clutched him. There was nothing I could do.
Our phones just kept ringing… everyone was coming up ready to help or wanting an update. So many praying for this great man of God that was so easy to love and so loving, they were anxious to hear Lenny had been found. Old and new friends kept coming as we waited. About two hours in I felt IT coming as quietly, one by one, the sheriffs cars headed out. Finally there was just one officer remaining and when Vicki’s phone went off I froze. I had been clutching my brother’s 6’6 frame and when she yelled, ‘NO!’ and broke into tears. I repeated the word over and over until it was a wild scream as Frankie held me. Then I passed out.
I wasn’t out but a moment or two but when I sat up I noticed the last sheriffs car was gone. Family and friends who had been searching on foot were heading in and knew the very thing we had all dreaded had come to pass. The Bible speaks of wailing and while it was now edging midnight no one in that campground could have been sleeping.
Our hearts were laid out on the ground, our tears ran unheeded. Then it occurred to me… they must have found him – yet they were all gone! Why hadn’t they told me! Where was he? Where were they?
In the core of my soul I heard the Spirit stirring again within me, “Go. You need to see him. Hurry.”
I asked someone which way the officer had gone and then took off running that direction. It was urgent I didn’t have time to wait for someone to move a car or give me a ride. I ran. I ran stumbling and weeping toward the boat launch, muttering under my breath, ‘No you can’t take him. I need to see him. No. No. I need to see him!!’
As I drew near the launch pad I saw a maze of patrol cars and an ambulance. They were closing the ambulance doors as I ran up.
“I have to see him. Let me see him.”
They set me down to explain he was gone but it didn’t alter my NEED to see his face. They said I had to have relatives but I’d left them behind. Then my nephew Cody came up to hug me and I told him, “You stand right here by me, they have to let me see him. We can’t be crying.’ When the officer came back over I had Cody and he said he would arrange it.
The family and others were gathering round but I don’t remember faces as they led me to the back of a pickup where they were pulling out a gurney. Focused on one thing, the tears had subsided as I watched and waited for them to unzip the body bag that encased my husband. Slowly they rolled the plastic away from his face and chest and there he was… lifeless.
I didn’t sob or wail I just wept quietly as I kissed a face that still looked perfect and full of life. There was no bruising, no scraps or cuts. He looked like he had hours ago yet he had no breath. And neither did I.
That’s when I noticed it…. a remarkable radiance seemed to come from his face. His eyes shone and upon those lips that I had kissed for 34 years there was a contented smile. Peace came over me and I spoke to him and stroked his face telling him how much I loved him and that it would be okay.
Gently I recalled aloud the servant he had been and how proud I was of him and the man he had allowed God to help him become… the lives he had touched including my own. I stood there, leaning upon him, running my fingers over his forehead, pressing my cheek to his own and then I touched my lips to his again and one more time before I stepped back and thanked them for giving me that time.
I knew the smile and the light meant Lenny had seen Jesus. Faith requires trust and a belief in what is not clearly seen and a release to a Holy God. Lenny was a man of faith… he was such a man and because of that I KNEW where he was and Who he was with when he had left that body.
But you can’t assume everybody around you knows that truth and embraces it and while I had been saying goodbye to Lenny my brother-in-law, Keith, was being compelled by the Spirit to say hello to the campers and law enforcement that had gathered around us. Purposefully he asked, “Do you know Christ? Would their loved ones have the same confidence at their death?” Compelling them to the truth and the gospel of Christ.
I didn’t hear him but others did and shared it with me and before Keith left he held me tight as he wept and encouraged me with these words. ‘Sherry, I did it for him. I shared the gospel with those around just like he would have done if it had been me in that bag. I did it like he would have done it.” And together we mourned and celebrated the man I called, Babe, my husband and better-half.
My partner in life’s journey. My lover and best friend. A man that lived out his life in Christ as we all should – with our hearts wide open and the name Jesus on our lips and a pocket full of grace cards was home.
He who is least will be greatest.
He who is last will be first.
He who obeys will be loved.
He who would be called His… will serve.
If you don’t know Christ… I pray you seek him with the same diligence they sought out my husband. You need Him – His forgiveness – His love – to know you are not alone.
If you do know Christ but your faith is stagnant: unmoved and unmoving… I pray you run to the cross and find the power you need to live life lit for Christ.
If you are His and you are seeking higher ground and to be like Christ… I pray you keep your eyes on the prize even as you go into the world and share a message worth living for or dying for.
Lenny’s life bears the fruit of faithfulness and I anticipate a hundredfold yield at Christ return.
What about you? What about me? The choice is ours. I am all in.
Love you, Babe. Save a place for me, say some grace for me… I’ll be there soon.
May 12, 2017 QUESTIONING WHY
Many have questions and they want to know, ‘Why? Why Lenny? Why now? Why was he kayaking? Etc.,’
I fully understand the lostness we feel when a great man of God is ripped from our lives. Tomorrow is going to be painful (and I miss ya, babe) however I believe the Word which says on numerous occasions that our days are determined and our limits appointed. Therefore, I can’t hide behind the ‘why’s’ in my life. I must set my feet upon the path that leads to God’s heart and use the time that IS and that REMAINS placing my fragile heart in His hands. I must continuously surrender my rights and those sins which so easily set me back and remain mold-able…IF I would change my world and be a witness.
The question is not, Why? But why not? Why not Lenny? Why Jaxson?
Lenny often shared at funerals that even if a saint could return from heaven’s portals they would not desire to leave God’s presence, and perfect peace, to come back to a works ravaged by chaos.
So while I yearn to reach over and touch you beside me, Babe, I will focus on what I have gained through our love rather than what I will miss. I will focus on fixing those things in me that God has granted me the power to alter, rather than on what I cannot change.
Help me, Lord. Guard me. Change me.
Lenny, I love you babe.
MAY 15, 2017 WIDOWS HEART… missing being with you
I just need prayers so badly. At night I miss him so. When people start talking about missions, camps, vacations, empty nesters, futures… I am not a team anymore. There is no we will… Ohhh how it hurts to not be able to roll over and talk about my day or tomorrow with my soul mate.
God have mercy on me. My flesh is weak. I wanted to go first then he could carry the cross across the US and minister to homeless people and folks in recovery which he so wanted to do. But he wouldn’t do those things while I was alive and now I find I don’t have any dreams that didn’t involve him in them…. Hurting… Hurting so bad
May 18, 2017 It’s my birthday…
There is something I use to say that oftentimes was an irritant to some fellow believers (love ya’ll :o). When it snowed (I love snow!)… or when something beautiful was displayed in front of me or I got a fresh word (Sweet spot!)… or when it snowed – did I say that already? (I REALLY love snow!) I would say, ‘I’m God’s favorite!’
Now I will be quick to add God doesn’t play favorites with His kids – it’s just that He has a way of making one feel truly seen and special.
And now I am going to fluster us all by saying that even in the midst of ALL that has happened these past weeks I can still say, ‘I am God’s favorite.’
Lenny & I have spent 23 years loving and serving the Lord – sharing Jesus so that others may come to the saving knowledge of Christ and one day meet Him in the air, so why would I be angry that my best friend got an early departure for our eternal retirement plan. Isn’t that what Lenny shared and was passionate about? That none be left behind? That we do more than know OF Him -but live for Him? It was not just that people could live well on this side but that the soul could thrive while walking in this world and would live forever.
So Lenny beat me home but as surely as he is enjoying being in God’s presence I… I have felt God’s hand at my back. At my side. Before me.
I cry but that is because I miss the touch of Lenny’s hand holding mine… not because I am lonely. I weep because my ally and confidant of 33 years can’t travel this leg of the journey with me… not because my journey is over.
I wouldn’t wish him back because he has made it to our dream destination and I won’t be too far behind, at least it won’t seem like long to him.
Me? Well, it is all good because some things are worth the wait.
May 19, 2017 Sometimes you just have to cry… and that’s okay
Just in case you think I am always strong. I am crying now, filling that bottle that God has set aside to catch my tears.
Miss you babe…..
May 26, 2017 I just need to talk to you
How am I doing?
Knowing the separation is temporary and God’s timing and plans are perfect I do well most of the time. I feel intentional and am seeking His will in how to fulfill my call while I’m waiting.
But some times I just want to talk with Lenny, to my soul mate and closest friend and I ache… and I shed tears.
In those times I find my solace as I turn and talk to the One who had in His wisdom knit our souls together and I Trust.
‘God has hedged me behind and before… He has laid His hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me…’ Psalm 139:5-6a
June 6, 2017 Looking ahead rather than back
Lenny, we serve a God so big that even as He lifted you up, He was speaking and preparing to catch me and all of us who miss the light of Christ that set you apart as a man and leader. Enjoy your adventure and save a place for me. As soon as I finish here I’ll be by your side. Question: can I still be sassy in heaven?
June 13, 2017 Having faith doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt
What does love -true love – look like? Someone in love: thinks of the others needs more than their own, won’t desert you, knows your flaws and loves you in spite of them. Not only is it demonstrated between the two but it is visible to others so much so that they cannot define our imagine one without the other.
We were Lenny and Sherry but before and above that we were Lenny, God’s son and Sherry, His daughter. So while I wait to be with the one I cleave to again – we are both unchanged in our relationship with God and still defined by it.
Therein lies my strength, because the greatest love of our lives is God and nothing (neither life, not death…) can separate us from His love.
That being said I still miss him so much…
July 17, 2017 Emotions
This morning as I concluded my quiet time I took up the notes from a sermon Lenny was preparing entitled, A STIR OF EMOTIONS. 5 emotions were cited. SORROW with Jesus upcoming departure. UNDERSTANDING that it was for this end He came. EXCITEMENT because death could not hold Christ captive as the angel said, “He is not here for He has risen..”. GRATITUDE because they had been blessed to have been a part / walked with Him as He journeyed on this side of eternity. ELATION because the Savior was not only alive but on track to come again and fulfill the promises given!
I remind myself each morning I do not walk alone but I have a different perspective since Lenny went home. SO it was a great blessing to me this morning to finish up my quiet time, and posting on our Briars and Blessings FB Devotional page, and find that Lenny’s side verse to Gratitude was the twin verse from my devotional page this morning. Mark 8:34=Luke 9:23 “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
So thankful for the life we share in Christ and that even death cannot silence that which will hold us forever as one.
Sherry, I told you months ago I thought it was time for you to fulfill your calling. And for me to step back. I was partially wrong… I stepped up not back. I finished my race. Set your mind on things above BC I was right. It’s time for you to get to finding/ fulfilling yours. I see it…
Lenny,I don’t know what it is babe… I feel like I am out of step without you. God is so visible but I am use to just doing whatever needs to be done. And I am afraid of making the wrong choice.
Sherry, Walk with Him… He’s got this. I love you babe. How was the wedding?
Nice. I cried a couple of times but tried to just enjoy people and family. I actually watched our wedding and Deb and Greg’s rehearsal before I went.😊
We were a mess and I couldn’t keep my hands, eyes or lips off of you.😁 It’s amazing that God saw what we could be vs what we were. It has been an incredible journey beyond anything I could have dreamed or imagined. I wish I was waking up in your arms tomorrow and going with you to Paradise tonight. Something’s have to wait… But I’ll be there soon.😏
We have all of eternity… you know I love you. Love, your mullet macho man😋
Now you can call a shrink about my emotional stability or you can call any widow whose heart was entwined with their spouses.
I would not have understood it at this time last year so I’m not going to be flustered if some of y’all are questioning my sanity. It’s all good :0)
August 15, 2017 UNDONE
You know I’ve got Lenny’s extra rib and I know God was the One who fitted us for one another. I know I’ll stand with him and worship again and serve with him again… But today what I wouldn’t give to be held by the one that my soul loves. My soul is overwhelmed with grief and yet my strength will lie in the hands of the One who is catching every tear… I am undone.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of comfort and Gather of mercy. These are the times you can’t search for scripture – you rest and rise in what you have hidden in your heart.
I am trying, babe oh how I miss you…
August 24, 2017 Widows Heart
Everyone that knew us knew Lenny loved Sherry loved Lenny loved Sherry etc., So this week as I went through the last load of our things I found I had a dilemma. I have too much stuff. (You should probably all repeat that with me… It’s good therapy… Come on… Say, I have TOO much stuff :0).
Anyway my garage was pretty stacked up and I hate clutter so something had to go. Go to a donation center. Go to the trash. Go to a tote in the carport. But go -be gone!
Now some might would look around the house and say to me, ‘You do have a lot BUT you have room. ALL you have to do is pack up Lenny’s clothes, shoes, hoodies, coats, guitars, Bible’s, commentaries, cards, notes, memory stuff and it’ll all squeeze in.”
Yeah that’s not going to happen. I’ve loosed all I care too. The rest stays. SOOoooo what I chose to do was to get rid of half of my material, some of my clothes, trinkets, decor and then I left my crafts packed in a corner of in the garage… Wherever they fit. And my other clothes tucked away in totes as well.
You see, our life together; that man and these memories mean more to me than anything I personally possess. Why? Because that is what love looks like. You give yourself and your rights and your stuff away to make room for what holds priority. Lenny was the best half of us. My stuff comes in after his.
Yet there is one thing that comes before my love for my husband and that is my love and commitment to Christ. I can leave my stuff to hold Lenny’s near BUT I could even lose his stuff…. Not have access to it like I don’t have access to him IF it got in the way of serving God.
Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above not on things of the earth.”
I will see Lenny again. We are destined for an eternity together with our Father… but there are people lost in this world who need to see the Light within us. There are believers who have been in the church most of their lives who are still undiscipled. There are people in need, seeking hope, peace… That just need someone to be real enough to see them and introduce them to the Man who walked on water and calmed the raging sea.
I have a mission and it’s not too make room for MY stuff.
And there’s far more to it than to cling to Lenny’s stuff…
My mission is to set my heart toward God’s. To lift my eyes to the fields white unto harvest. It’s the call of the Master to His bondservant, the Father to His children…
Enjoy the fruit of your labor. Make and hold memories. But never let the world anchor your eyes and fill your heart with your stuff instead of God’s plans.
Tonight I’ve been cleaning my spiritual house… There’s stuff in there that’s gotta go! I can’t haul it off or hide it but I know a Man who can help me. And should He desire assistance I have another man up there, whose had my back for over 30 years, who will help Him out!
Love you Lord. Love you Babe. As soon as I finish up our Dads ‘to-do list for Sherry’ I’ll see you both on the other side of eternity.
September 4, 2017 REGRETS
I’d say one of the hardest things about losing someone quickly and unexpectedly is… Regrets.
All of the sudden you think of what you could have done, should have said…
You just want 5 minutes more. For one last word, touch, hug, kiss.
You realize the weight you carried, the last fuss you had – were time wasted when you could have just been enjoying each other.
Susan, I have found comfort in remembering 2 things when the stillness, at the days close, settles in on me.
1. Only the enemy would have us chained to a past we can’t change and focus on any regrets. Our husbands wouldn’t want those moments to be what lingers in the midst of our loss. They would pray that we would cling to the laughter, passion and beauty that was our hearts merged with theirs.
2. We are not alone. Though no arms reach out to hold us as night falls. Though they do not call to check in, ask if we need something from the grocery or what time supper will be…. Or simply to say what are you doing, I miss you, I love you. Still we are not alone for God is with us. He alone knows the depth of our love and pain. He stands ready, and sees and catches every tear. He will walk close to us on this next leg of our journey until we too make home.
We are widows yet God has always made provision for those in our circumstance. And God days that is a big enough burden. He will not leave us orphaned as well. He is our Father.
We are not forgotten but dearly loved by the One who saw fit to bless our lives with men worthy of such love and devotion.
September 9, 2017 When do the tears cease
When do the tears cease? The wailings in the night when you roll over and find yourself alone… When will I be able to sleep a full 7-8 hours in our bed?
Lenny and I rarely spent nights apart. Even when we were young parents, when he had to spend the night in Benton for work…. I loaded up Skyye and slid in with him at the hotel.
When I was doing a road trip driving my parents to Oregon for a visit, he called and had me pick him up at the airport in Spokane even though we were only a night away. Money was tight but that never stopped us from finding a way to be together. Being with one another was the most important thing.
Even at church camp we would lobby for married couples in godly, healthy relationships to be able to have some PDA (public displays of affection) at camp. After all marriage is this beautiful union of 2 hearts becoming 1.
We took 2 night getaways every 6-8 weeks for the last 12 years.
We called each other a half dozen times a day.
We bore each other’s burdens. Strove to help the other as we served the kingdom. Always preferring to do it ALL together. And now we are not.
Oh God how this hurts.
How grateful I am for mornings and the light of a new day that reminds me, ‘I am on a mission trip and awaiting my call home.’
At night there is just this void because that’s when we brought it home, visited, cuddled, talked or didn’t talk but we were embalmed in each other’s presence… together.
All of our dreams were made together.
Our future laid out together.
And now I’m supposed to move on alone…
I’m not wrestling with God but with the loss. The overwhelming loss of the man who held the keys to heart. I was blessed to have had such a husband and so much time with him working and serving together.
In the day I can find peace and strength while I am waiting for my trip to my final destination. At night, at night I think it’s just different. At night with a heart laid bare all you can do is cry out to heaven and with tears flowing and arms wide open… Fall surrendered into Jesus.
September 26, 2017 Screams and tears
Today I wept coming home from Little Rock. All my stuff done and my mind finally emptied by the time I got to Beebe I was crying uncontrollably and by the time I got to the McRae exit I couldn’t see through the tears and couldn’t catch my breath and then I was screaming, waves of screams just like that night 4 months ago. Praying for heaven. Seeking comfort -peace… Missing the man who held my heart and holds it still. Desperate for his touch. The sound of his voice. The sight of his truck pulling in the drive… But it won’t happen.
So I’ll come home with no tears left to cry. Get busy. Then get still. Sit and watch old videos and count my blessings even as I wait on the Lord for healing and my ticket home.
September 27, 2017 Keeping it real… for widows
I’m okay but I promised a lady who recently also lost her husband unexpectedly that I would keep it real. She was struggling and Susan we will. She needed to know the journey she is taking, the pain she is feeling, the loss that sweeps over and engulfs her is normal. It is. Without a goodbye it is easy to feel robbed. You don’t get too say or repeat what you want them to ‘know’.
But they already know.
When you’ve been married awhile you ‘know’ the heart of your spouse. You know the depth of their affection. You know if they could speak through the distance what they would be telling you. That’s a reality born of 2 hearts surrendered + time… Marriage.
When you truly love you are vulnerable. Amazingly this love God created between 2 hearts makes you feel stronger but also leaves you vulnerable as your lives are deeply messages and further entwined through the time, triumphs and tragedies that cover your life together.
Yet it was God that brought us together. God that held is together. God that watched and smiled as we ran, dreamed, served and cried… Together. And He watches and carries me still, knowing I am wounded He stands at my side ready to carry the weight of loss. To heal what is broken. He guides. He guards. He is faithful and an ever-present help in our time of trouble.
He carries me as he would have carried Lenny had our exits been reversed. He carries Susan as He does all the broken, wounded and tired revealing His love in the darkness that Satan tries to cast over us… Suffocating us.
God’s love has power. Power to break through our deepest pain. Power to overcome the devil’s lies that ‘all’ is lost. Power to enable us to rise and walk. As great as our love was/is for our spouses it still does not compare to the love God has for us.
Many of you haven’t lost the anchor you rest with each night but all of us are or have been burdened, broken and weary. God was just as powerful when He saved the widow’s son as He was when He calmed the storms. He was as merciful when He gave sight to the blind man as when He extended forgiveness to the woman caught in adultery. And His love encompasses our pain, our hearts and even our sin because we are entwined with His Son’s life, love and gift which was delivered at Calvary. A standing invitation for whosoever will to ‘Come…’ like a child was extended from the cross.
Come and be swept up in the arms of the One who knows us and loves us anyway. He has walked with us and will continue until we to reach life’s end. And there at last He will lift every believer over the world that would hold them down into His eternity.
Therein lies the confidence Lenny and I shared as a couple AND individually. Yesterday I simply had to crawl into God’s arms and rest until I was able to rise again. I’ve been going there since I was 10 so it’s natural to me and a frequent stop these days. If you’ve never been there or if its been awhile, I pray today would find you laying life at His feet (all the stuff, people and wounds that weigh upon you) and drawing near jump into the arms of The Comforter, the Good Father… GOD.
November 18, 2017 Not ready for the holidays
So here it comes. How will it go, the holidays without my better half? I thought I’d be okay but I’ve already had a breakdown as Curtiss helped me put up the Nativity Lenny made me last year. I find I always miss his touch, his kiss, his hand on my leg as we drive out on visits. Physically and emotionally I am exhausted… Yet today is almost done and I will have one more day down and be one step closer to home. Carry me this week Dad, because I can’t step over everything that lies ahead of me on my own. Love you Lenny… Thank you for loving me so beautifully.
December 14, 2017 The Widows Cry… I still have days I fall apart
This is the reality of losing half of your heart for we can love and laugh and reach out and carry on with living because it is there to be done. Yet we have moments when we fall apart. You probably won’t see those moments and we won’t call even though you would listen or cover running. We will sit/fall wherever the pain hits (Walmarts parking lot, the prayer room at church, the restroom at a restaurant, our couch, our bed) and we will stay there until we are cried out and God, catching the last tear, lifts us into His arms so we can carry on.
I don’t think I could have understood it before, but even my brokenness is something I only want to share with Lenny and God. It is as intimate and private as our nights used to be and that doesn’t even make sense but is our reality as walk into Christmas short somebody we love.
For those of you grieving for us and with us who have also lost a parent, sibling, friend, child… Thank you for being an ally, co-anchor and our prayer support.
December 19, 2017 Choices
35 years ago today, I met Lenny. 34 years ago today he asked me to marry him. My life was forever changed by that man who took my breath away, held my heart and became my best friend.
In October while I was in Oregon I painted rocks for our hangout at the coast. Last weekend, Kristi Vaccher and Tony Vaccher (2 of our former youth who are forever family) delivered those rocks to Gold Beach and the lighthouse.
Tonight I chose not to dwell on what I lost but on ALL I had when I had him.
December 23, 2017 Robbed by nightmares and reminders
It was a horrible night filled with nightmares but this time it wasn’t unseen things haunting me but the past. Lenny and I had our struggles, attitudes, trials. Ughgh moments. They don’t compare to the bliss we shared but last night EVERY one of them showed up in my sleep.
It’s happened in the past, it’s not a new thing but before I could always roll over and into his arms and they’d drift away.
Not this morning. This morning I awoke wounded without his presence, arms, smile to help me move on into the day. And with each step and attempt to get stuff done I became more weighted until I found myself ANGRY… Not at any particular thing just angry.
Then I broke and just cried… I cried BC Lenny’s not here to fix it for me. He won’t plan next week’s anniversary – like he couldn’t plan last weeks ‘Thankful I Met You’ date.
And I grabbed my Kleenex box and headed to my desk to sit and pray and wait on the Lord.
Lenny couldn’t, he can’t make it better this time.
But my Father did… Once again. And the darkness and weights flew when God steps near and speaks.
Christmas is about faith and family. It can be celebrated on either side of eternity. I could celebrate it anywhere on this earth with those God has forged into my life and united to me through His blood.
So don’t worry about me… I’ll be okay this Christmas because that day has always been about Him and others.
Now on mine and Lenny’s days… Those may be a bit tough BC we enjoyed nothing better than slipping off alone. But let’s see if I can get so still… So still I can remember the countless blessings we did enjoy and celebrate and praise God for them as I press on to the day we will stand before Him again.
December 30, 2017 The first wedding anniversary you walk through… alone
Today is our 34th wedding anniversary. Lenny has been my life since he strode into it in 1982 and left with my heart. As I read through an old journal last night I found so many places I wrote about our love. From 2008 “My two favorite people to talk too are You, Lord and my husband.”
From 2010 “Once upon a time God gave me you. You were all I dreamed of and my heart was full of love, my face filled with delight and my soul filled with completeness.
The dragons came along with tempters and meddlers. We passed through days that cast long shadows upon our love… That worried our oneness and threatened our home BUT we passed through them.
Twenty seven years later we still struggle when apart. I still find I am unsettled apart from you… Adrift… At odds. Alone and lonely. A lonely that no other soul or distraction can fill.
It’s not just because I miss your words or touch, I miss your presence with me. When I arise in the morning and at the close of the day. I miss sharing my day with you. Oh how I want the next 18 hours to pass quickly so that we can continue to live out our ‘happily ever after’.”
December 30, 2017
I no longer stand at his side, holding onto memories and looking at more than 18 hours until we stand together again. Odds are it will be significantly longer… It’s adjust been almost 8 months.
Other couples make plans and hope for health and length of days. I am simply eager to mark this one “lived-well for Christ” and mark it past knowing I am one day closer to the two men I love more than any other: Jesus and the man who called me Babe.
If you make it this far could you take a moment to share a Sherry and Lenny memory. That would be a beautiful gift for me to ponder on today. Thank you for being a part of our lives.
January 27, 2018 I need to see his name with mine
I have kept Lenny’s phone number working – yet 99% of the time off – and tucked away in the nightstand with his Bible, glasses, cologne and favorite devotional, My Utmost For His Highest.
Several people have called that didn’t know he’d gone home and I actually have sent myself text from him when I hear his voice echo a fresh word or reminder to me. (Ahhhh… you be nice! There will be no committing your old preacher/teachers wife. Actually it’s been therapeutic to text him when I miss him.) But after Valentine’s Day I will have Skyye turn it off though I’ll keep the text, pictures and the voicemails forever. SOOoooo if any of you want to call or text him a message (just BC… I talk to him still every night just like we always did before I would say my prayers and yes I know he’s in the Lord’s presence yet he is forever entwined in our hearts)… Any way feel free to do so anytime between now and the 14th..
February 28, 2018 A Widow’s heart
Original from 730 this morning.
When your spouse dies there’s not a morning you wake up or a night you lay down that you don’t realize the person that held you that you’ve held is not there. And God walks with you daily as you make adjustments to a broken heart and the aching loneliness as you pray your way through it.
Then last night the nightmares swept in in waves, constantly putting me in situations where I needed Lenny and he wasn’t there. You learn to wake up and pray yourself through that as well.
Generally, I just roll over and tell him and the Lord goodnight and good morning as I open and close the day with the One whose strength I depend on so desperately.
But this morning instead asking with knowledge that he was home with Jesus, I wasn’t able to embrace the 33 I had held something beautiful because Satan was sitting on my chest like a heavy rock and screaming, ‘He is dead and you are alone.. Dead. Dead, dead!”
When you can’t even breath I look to God and it just won’t stop. And I rise and run finding anything that requires noise to his hush the echo as the tears arise endlessly.
Just in case you wonder or think I am strong… I am not I just cling to the One who can still the tears, storms, satan’s taunts and continue to heal the truth that is my reality…
Update at 8:40
Oh how I miss that Man of Mine. But this morning as my tears were caught, and the sobs settled into silence when all I could hear was the enemies Echo I turned inward to the One who is and has been forever faithful.
Finding my voice I spoke aloud into the stillness. ‘Satan you are a liar and the father of lies. Lenny is not dead, he has never been more alive. And I have never been alone for the God who called me from my mother’s womb has walked before and behind me and sustains me with His right hand. His eyes rest upon His children and I am His child. I am loved not Forsaken and I most surely am not alone.’
March 25, 2018 A Widows Heart… going solo
There are arenas we face in this season that you just don’t consider until you walk through them. Others won’t share them as part of grieving is walking through the pain with Jesus… alone.
You see as much as we may need prayer support always and people often, we also have to adjust to life solo. For each heart that is different but generally we’ll bounce between staying busy (so our minds can’t sit When that happens I can’t keep busy. I hurt. I remember all those little things still and allowing EVERYTHING to sink in.
By nature, I do the first, that’s how I am wired however I understand others struggles who aren’t like me because when my ‘head shots'(from my head injury) kick in, they throw some sensories into overdrive while physically slowing impeding everything else. All I can do then is remember.
I sit with wonderful memories shrouded with painful ones. I miss everything that was ‘us’. I don’t want let go of anything. Even my new home must reflect ‘our home’. It’s not my past, Lenny and Sherry is still who I am.
I spoke briefly to Gail Hodges tonight, she and I have both relocated since we lost the men who held our hands and who still hold out hearts. She is settling in even now… yet how do you move forward when everything in you wants to keep as much as possible the same?
The thing is I don’t want to move past Lenny n Sherry. I want some of him around me. I kept his nightstand filled with his Bible, glasses, Chapstick, guitar, pictures and flashlights by my bed. I got rid of my stuff and moved mine to the sunroom. I keep some of his clothes in every closet. His cologne. His guitars. His chair is now my chair. Etc., SOOoooo even a new space will reflect our old place.
God is helping we widows recreate a temporary, familiar setup until we too go home. This is the valley of the shadows of death and God has sent us His Comfort. We will lean on Him to walk thru this. He allows me the opportunity to speak of Lenny without having people consumed for me.
He sets us up in a habitat big enough to hold, and house, all of a widows memories. All the while forging our faith and future as we carry on.
You’ll catch us talking to them. Cuddling their pillow. Making plains before we even realize they aren’t here to play with.
We are not crazy nor consumed. What we are is a group of women blessed to have been loved by men who we are destined to see again on the other side of eternity. We won’t make sense sometimes to anybody BUT God… But we’re okay.
God’s got us! And He gave us y’all! Thank you for loving, weeping and praying for us and being there…
Praying for you tonight Wanda Graham
April 29, 2018 A Widows Heart
This coming Saturday it will be a year since Lenny fast-forwarded out of here.
Everyone who’s lost someone handles it differently. All hurt but some are not external with their emotions… But all hurt. Some get busy – some get very still. Some smile and others weep when friends draw near. Some find people to closely yoke to and grieve and some drift. Some get upset with God, others wrestle, others embrace what is their new reality.
The truth is most will do all of the above.
Life is a battle and a widow has to come up with a new strategy for everything. I’m sure if I had young kids at home this would have been a completely different kind of year, but we had been empty-nesters for 11 years. Lenny’s departure meant a move, job change, relocation, church family change, grocery list change, maintenance man change, finances changed, prayer warrior change, best friend… MIA.
Our talks and eternal retirement plans and faith in God have been my anchor. The one place I battle is to stay in the race. As much as I love people my hardest fight has been to not find some place in the middle of nowhere (in Oregon we would say off the grid) and dig in… Just me and God, my Bible and journals and anyone who wanted to go to a whole lot of trouble to visit me.
What holds me here?
The same Hand that didn’t take me when He called Lenny home.
He knew I was prone to hide so He spoke to a church fellowship that opened up a home and their hearts to me. So I couldn’t justify a selfish action like going to where land was REALLY cheap to disappear. I must say that that is the flesh war I fight, this need to run to a place where people aren’t. (Sorry, but yuppp I just said it.) To listen and walk with God without distraction. To hear birds singing to me in the morning and whippoorwills telling me the day was coming to a close and coyotes yipping in the wood line reminding me night was at hand. To unplug from this world till I too get the invite to come on home. No phone. TV. Computer.
I can live on bologna and an occasional DP. I can draft houses that I’ll never build. I can write devotions no one would ever see to read. I could but… God.
But God is the only one I couldn’t bear to disappoint and I would be in a major time out with the One I love above all others. Because… In order to run I would have to walk past Him and His call.
Everything changes in a widows world but if she is a child of God… being a faithful witness is not optional – it is still expected.
So while you come near and bring us comfort and stand back so we can grieve… I’d also like to thank you for allowing us to continue to serve as we worship – as we can.
And thank you for not trying to fix us or figure us out. We’ll be a mess for awhile with our emotions turning like like the wind (always dependent upon the day) but God will be steadfast – please pray we all will be faithful as we continue our journeys without the ones who held our hearts.
I’m headed to the river next week to celebrate Lenny’s homecoming and grieve for my loss. But I haven’t run way :0)
I thought there was strength within me somewhere. Faith was it’s anchor, but as the day draws near I find I am completely undone. It’s almost been a year and God is still catching the tears that flow once flow from the endless resource of a broken heart.
I thought I needed stillness to silence my mind but I find I needed it to lose the gates of mourning. It is not His direction I seek, it is His arms of solace I require to sustain me in my hours of need.
Who sleeps by you at night? Have you laughed together today? Told him/her you loved ’em? Do you remember the day you realized you never wanted to let them go? The day you wed? The last time you snuggled on the couch or made out instead of watching the movie? How long has it been since it felt like you were both ALL-IN and didn’t spend the evening gazing at a phone or TV screen when the one you love above all others sits across from you an arm’s reach away.
You may have tonight and tomorrow to remedy anything missing in your marriage but you might not. Then every second wasted with idleness or numbness will haunt you as you step back to collect the beauty that was in your hand and now is outside your grasp.
Oh Lenny, we had some beautiful, unmatched moments. We shared some glorious days and one incredible journey but oh how difficult it is to be me without you. What I wouldn’t give to roll over at night and be lost in your arms and hide from the world.
I’m not so strong. My faith isn’t so great that I am not crushed by this separation. I need You Lord to hold fast to me in this week as I walk toward our last days and face the anniversary of Lenny’s departure and homecoming. And Lord even as You sustain this child please stir the couples who still have moments left to make more memories.
Time wasted can not be redeemed. Turn off your phones, PCs and TVs and go for a drive or a walk or watch the sunset. I may have to wait until eternity to walk hand in hand with the one my soul was knit for but you do not. I’d give almost anything to have what you hold. Don’t waste it.
Lenny’s celebration of life service was a year ago tomorrow. It has been difficult, heart-wrenching and at times lonely – yet no one else’s presence will do. Only the one who filled that space in your heart can fill it… Unless that that other one is God.
The first year has been full of hurdles, transitions and seasons of mourning… lots of tears. But I will also say to those who are believers, and who have lost someone who was also a believer, that our lives have been different BUT they are still truly rich.
We are rich in memories of the past we shared with the one we love and miss. AND we are wealthy because of the hope and the promises that God has made to us because we KNOW that we will be together again and that we have eternity before us.
Last night I had a beautiful dream. I won’t share that now but I will tell you that once again God has used His words and His presence in my life to strengthen this servant.
Rising this morning I can say with confidence. I will not wrestle with my loss for to do so is to say I do not trust my Creator and Sovereign Lord.
I will continue to bow in submission and accept the grace supplied and rise in His strength and say “through the mercy of the Most High I shall not be moved. I will sing and praise Your power… for You are my hope and You are my trust.”
God is sufficient. He is enough. Soon we too will pass over until then let us live not as those without hope but as those who bear witness of God’s faithfulness.
May 12, 2018 Widow’s Heart… when everybody has opinions on what I should do
Some of the things I do, or Lenny and I did, weren’t always understood by others.
We didn’t/I don’t do it to frustrate or fluster people. I do it because I am striving to live my life out in complete obedience to the Lover of my soul. That did not change when my husband/best friend/pastor died.
Since I remain, my faith must continue to increase. SOOoooo when I do something that makes you go, ‘Whhhattt?’ Just pray for me and watch because God has never let down a faithful servant.
I have been wounded and taken down by the enemy many times but a righteous man rises each time. We have given away our last dime (with no back up – nowhere) simply because God spoke it to us. We have left security, love and faithful family and friends without knowing what we were being led to because He told us to.
We weren’t crazy. I’m not crazy. We were faithful. I would be faithful still. Because in this life there is only one thing I fear and it’s not destitution, it’s not cancer, it’s not being misunderstood… IT IS dying and not fulfilling God’s best plans and purposes for my life.
That’s how we lived… That’s how we’ll die. That’s how I choose to live and die.
June 11, 2018 A Widows Heart
It took me a couple of months to stop spraying his Eternity cologne on the sheets and pillows when I went to bed. It was a couple months after that before I didn’t have to go through our photos or read the cards and notes I had kept from him nightly. It was a couple of months after that before I quit clutching his pillows at night (we were spooners) but I still line them up and back into them like he is holding me.
I still turn his picture toward me each night as I lay down and recap the day with him. And I still say hello each morning before I turn his picture back away from the bed.
I often lie in stillness and close my eyes trying to recall my hand in his, us snuggled up on the couch, his kiss, even his hand resting on my thigh as we are driving down the road.
Tonight however I have done all of the above and sleep evades me but not tears. The tears won’t stop.
And then at camp last week God confirmed my call but told me I needed to be ready to move out from Lenny’s shadow. I have no idea what that means. I’ve been serving 30 years, but for 24 years I was blessed to use my gifts in support of God’s church and Lenny’s ministry. I was blessed to be whatever he needed for the task at hand and while each church body/ministry was different God was faithful to equip me to be His servant and Lenny’s helpmeet. It’s one more thing I miss.
I am leaning on You Lord to continue to hold me up, catch my tears and direct my paths. I am seeking You as my kinsman Redeemer, Faithful Father and Help and the only One who will ever know me as well as my Babe.
You are sufficient to meet my every need. You have spoken and revealed things I do not understand so I will continue to follow closely so I don’t miss the way; trusting You with my future like I do this night and our past. My eyes are on You Lord, I would hear well done.
“Those who think there is a time limit
have never lost
a piece of their heart.”
We were married almost 33 years and we work side-by-side for 24 years.
My days revolved around you, when I cooked, went bed, went to town… they were based upon what your schedule looked like day by day. My work/call revolved around your call. My dreams all danced around with yours. Our future and retirement were all entwined.
For a year plus I have held on to memories and stayed close to God but I find I keep trying to step into things that I did when we walked/served together… and I can’t. We tag teamed everything. I can’t do most of it alone.
So here I sit in a place that is very special to you and I getting ready to see our faith family… looking for me.
Who am I without you? Who am I.
I love to read the Word with it open in front of me – I don’t want to see it on a screen.
I’d rather walk in the sand with the wind on my face and hear the pounding of the waves than hike up a green mountain trail and see a majestic waterfall.
I’d rather see a flower on a bush than hold the flower in my hand.
I love music but I hear beauty even when it’s quiet.
I occasionally drive too fast but I prefer to take a back road and go slow and make sure I don’t miss anything.
I would rather see a movie I loved a dozen times then go see a dozen different movies.
I love people but they don’t have to love me back.
Wherever I am I will make it feel homey but I don’t have to have a home.
I’d rather have a hundred friends scattered across the world than one best one… At least since you’ve been gone.
I feel your heart still. I hear your voice. I know I am rich because of what we shared. But I miss sitting on the couch with you and just leaning into you and being held.
Your presence close to me made it where none of the other stuff mattered. To close out the day beside the one who loves you was one of life’s simplest but most beautiful treasures. What I enjoyed about life was sharing it with you.
I miss your Love.
I miss you.
I miss me.
Here I Lord. You know. You understand what was, is and will. Lead me and establish my heart in Your hands.
August 16, 2018 A Widow’s Heart:
I’m not sure you appreciate it, uhmmmm actually I’m not even sure I recognized it until Lenny went home. But when you’ve been married a longgggg time something happens in your intimacy together (not just in that one room) emotionally and mentally you know what the other person is thinking and feeling by the tone of their voice or the look on their face. And it does just happen when a storm is brewing, that’s a fight or flight Instinct and is completely different than what I’m talking about Today.
This actually happens anytime regarding anything. You don’t actually need to hear the details about the situation to read their heart. A simple look in his eyes or listening to what he is saying, or is NOT saying, is enough to tell me instantly what it would take 30 minutes for him to verbalize.
I could tell when he walked into our home if he was burdened or discouraged or encouraged or content… And everybody could tell when he was excited – that was a given! :0)
I could tell you his heart condition whether we were on standing on Bourbon Street doing missions or sitting in someone’s house from church.
I could see Lenny at the other end of the hall having his quiet time, from where I sit in my office having my quiet time, and tell you if he and Jesus were in the middle of a heart check or having one incredible conversation or if they were before the throne interceding or he was being given a fresh word. His chair was the same and his posture was the same but his countenance and especially his eyes told their own story.
I loved my husband and we were blessed to have made it through some tough seasons and share an incredible journey. I also knew my husband. I knew Lenny well but tonight what I am missing is being with the man that KNEW me.
August 30, 2018 WIDOWS HEART… and the tears still fall
Tonight I found myself missing Lenny a lot.
My heart was breaking and the tears were falling as heavy as the rain.
Maybe it was because one of the songs I played constantly when we were dating slid through my iPod but maybe not.
You see there’s something that happens when you lose someone.
As you reflect on sweet memories other unclaimed memories also pop up. Tonight, it is all about the things he and I talked about doing in the future. Things we didn’t get to experience but spent a lot of time talking about.
Hours ago, after the song played, I found myself struggling thinking about the getaway Lenny’s sisters and I are planning. This was one of those things Lenny had hoped he’d get to do with his siblings and their spouses. Get out of town and turn off the phones and just enjoy the people God graced your life with.
We talked about it just lack he talked about going to Ireland with me when I went to write a book. Or when he said he was not wanting to go to Israel without me as he wanted us to share that. Or when we talked about finishing our thimble collection that we started with our kids. (Rules: we have to all be together in the state to get it’s thimble. We still lack Hawaii and Alaska. But we’ll get there someday good Lord willing.)
I can’t help but recall the things that he said, dreams we shared, discussions about what we would like to do or looked forward to doing.
But sometimes it’s too late.
It’s too late to wait until you have more time or you’re empty nesters.
It’s too late to wait for tomorrow.
So if you are sitting next to the person you enjoy making plans with and doing things with… Ask them when they want to go do it. Don’t wait…
I am sure that we will have a great time because we always do. I also know that we will probably talk about Lenny a lot which will be a beautiful thing as well. And I am so grateful that we decided last year not to put it off any longer.
Those of us who have lost someone, especially unexpectedly, understand that you aren’t guaranteed another tomorrow.
Oh Babe how I, how we, miss you.
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat and the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” Jamie Anderson
September 16, 2018 A Widows Heart
We love our spouses and the reality is we don’t love them less when they are away. We love them sometimes even more because we realize how different and full our lives are because of them. I just finished a cruise with Lenny’s sister and we all had a WONDERFUL time but each of them are eager to get home to their husband.
In many ways today…. they are just like me enjoying the moment but ready to be reunited with the loves of their life.
Today we all four are in agreement that it is time to go home. They will. I won’t.
However my hope is just as certain that in the blink of an eye I will be where he is… heaven…home.
October 15, 2018 A WIDOWS HEART:
After sharing a long journey with someone you love it has been difficult to step away and not feel like half of you is missing.
My strength comes from knowing that God is for me and walking with me AND He has not only enabled me to remember the past but to move forward as I continue pressing toward His plans, purposes and Eternity.
But I have tried to be as honest and real in my mourning for there are many of us walking this road of loss – feeling at times like I do tonight. For tonight I sit on the bed clutching the pillow, looking at our picture…
weep and wishing I had been able to physically share this day with him and close out the night in his arms. And I won’t hush the tears… for fear the pain would drown my soul.
What I know is I am 529 days closer to home and worshipping with my husband… this is my solace as surely as Christ is my strength.
Miss you babe
October 25, 2018 A WIDOWS HEART
Sometimes the only thing that will take away the emptiness of not being with your spouse is knowing that you spent the day walking toward him. Love ya Babe
November 7, 2018 A WIDOWS HEART
In the late hours when the suns gone to sleep,
Yesterdays heart cries out gasping for the air needed to breathe.
In the onset of eventide there will be no soft place to land,
And the fall returns seemingly endless and the old pain sets in.
I consider the distance between the sun and pitch of night,
as great as the barrier separating you and I.
And so as the sun battles the darkness… I battle my loss,
With fresh tears falling into a sea that is tossed.
And as a hush gathers round and the stillness sets in – the depths of this heart, the winds that embrace…
the absence of his presence – I struggle to face.
So rejoice while it is day, exhale life and love inhale,
Before your yesterdays are all that’s left while your time here prevails.
For what God has joined together only the two could tear apart,
But the distance of death is not forever it just very slowly rends… one heart. SB
Miss you Babe
December 2, 2018 A WIDOWS HEART:
When you see a widow or widower that is alone or you hear one share that they are lonely it doesn’t mean that they don’t have people in their life that they could call or reach out to or go spend time with. It doesn’t mean that family or God has left them hanging and been insufficient.
It means that the person that they want to spend time with isn’t there and they are missing making new memories and reveling in old ones.
It’s not that they don’t love you or know that they are loved by you… but no one can replace the other half of their whole. The one that they: planned the future with, raised kids with, cried, mourned, laughed, loved, dreamed and even… fought with.
When we say we’re lonely it just means that we’re missing what heaven has gained… the hand and heart that held our own.
Don’t fuss or worry because that will cause us to feel like we can’t be real.
Pray for us.
Understand that when we step back from the family and/or holiday gatherings we step into God’s arms with our mourning and tears. Find comfort in knowing that we will stay there until filled and healed we arise afresh prepared to finish our course and the length of days set before us.
Our hearts are ever focused on God’s will, plans, love and strength. We are strong and ready even when we are found once again on our knees… Stronger and more ready now than ever before.
Our spouses death can’t take us hostage because Christ overcame the grave… theirs and ours. We are victors and as much as is in us is… we will continue to walk in the newness of life conquers in Christ.
Soon enough we too shall make it home but until that day we will live bearing witness that our God is more than sufficient to meet our every need…
How do you know it’s Christmas?
The Christmas hymns and carols FILL the air like the emails notifying us of LAST MINUTE DEALS.
Everybody is checking their list for the 3rd and 4th time… feeling wonderful UNLESS somebody tries to cut in line! No cuts without an invitation please.
The recipe books are getting dusted off as everyone looks for that one recipe they do annually.
AND everybody seems to have forgotten what time they meet at Grandma’s so your phone is blowing up and you are desperately fight the desire to start a ‘group text’ in spite of what all the nieces and cousins have said about receiving those cursed things.
The lights twinkling on rooftops have had the timers extended to all night while inside the house the lights linger as well, waiting for little eyes to be fast asleep so Santa’s helpers can make sure everything is in place for Christmas morning.
Yuppp it is here!
But before the holidays slip into a memory let me remind you that most of you will share this flurry of fun activities and reunions with a spouse. And while you are celebrating at church and with co-workers, family, friends and children, you also have ‘the one’ that you run and serve with.
You know who I am talking about. Right???
You share last names. Sleep beside each other. Call each other Babe, Hun etc.,
I am talking about your spouse. God’s answer to your happily-ever-after. (Sham on you, I heard that! Be nice or you will be getting a lump of coal in your stocking!)
Don’t look PASS them as you fly through the fun.
Don’t JUST look FOR them when you are wanting to go or needing help carrying stuff.
Look AT them. Lock in memories of priceless moments spent WITH them.
Laugh with them. Grab a hug. Snatch a kiss!
At the close of the day don’t check social media to share your day or check in on others… set back on the couch and lean into one another as you share the joy, blessings and exhaustion.
As busy as things can get be sure to wind it back down to the 2 of you this Christmas.
As much as Lenny & I enjoyed all the family gatherings and doings our favorite part was when it got back down to the two of us. (Sorry if that disappoints ya’ll… uhmmm not really I am betting ya’ll can get over it without a ladder :0)
We closed out our day holding hands… and the day got sweeter as it all settled in and within us.
So while tomorrow may not hold another feast for you to enjoy,
whatever it brings you will be blessed if you can share it
with the greatest gift God gave you apart from His Son…
the one who stole your heart.
December 24, 2018 A WIDOWS HEART
Go and fellowship with family and friends.
Cook. Travel. Laugh.
But in the midst of the going, doing, living and weeping be thankful.
A good, good Father merged two paths into one and took you both on an incredible journey.
You shared glorious moments of sweet love and have those memories still to comfort you with his presence.
Even if you no longer have him at your side, that man will forever live in your heart.
January 3, 2019 A WIDOWS HEART… heaven ready, tired of being a plus one
It’s been a year-and-a-half since Lenny went home and I would like to say that extending comfort to those in mourning comes easy. But that would be a lie because it hasn’t gotten easier.
Our hearts know the pain and struggles that the one left behind is, and will, experience in the days and years ahead.
Our hearts know that they will wrestle sometimes with going to work, church and even to family gatherings because all they need is to be left alone with their memories for awhile.
We know the difficulties of walking into a wedding, funeral or even a potluck alone without your plus-one, your steady, your partner in life.
And we know what it is to be jealous… because someone went home and it wasn’t us. I don’t believe I know any widows that wouldn’t gladly change places and head heavenward to be with Jesus, our Father and our spouse especially if it meant that two hearts in love could stay yoked here and make more memories.
I do know however that this is the part of the journey where our faith is strengthened as never before. This is where we are reminded what it means to lean into Arms you can’t see. this is where we prove out out faith in God’s perfect timing in all things and trust that His grace is all sufficient for us until the day that we finally to go home.
This is our reality and God is faithfully standing by us. However if you are blessed enough to have your soul mate still standing next to you…. Embrace him and hold him for a moment like you’ll never let him go. And when you go to bed tonight make sure you thank God for today.
March 9, 2019 Missing you…
Losing a husband or wife is hard. You spend a lifetime being merged into one and then in a moment you have to release half of your whole back to the Lord who bound your hearts as one. Praying for you Bryan Jensen
I Prayed. I Talked to God… asked Him for Favor .
Let Lawanna go in Peace. Answered Prayers.
Now I miss her and can’t seem to get past this brokenness.. But God has shown me many times over .. Brokenness will Turn to Blessings if you Trust Jesus.
Lawanna was His First ..had her in The Palm of His Hand.. and made us both His in His Time… and in His Timing this empty feeling will pass…
March 26, 2019 A WIDOWS HEART… struggling with other’s expectations
I know this is not going to make sense to a lot of people but for me and many widows we have found that something has shifted since we lost the one that held our heart.
After a season, God becomes the One you talk to and the One who hears and shares the sweet memories that are such an intricate part of all you are. Except for moments of mourning a sweet peace prevails.
Then we look up and out and find there is another problem arising from the people we love and people in general.
Many look at us with expectation waiting for us to slide back into a new version of our old selves. Sadly, that just can’t happen when half of us has already stepped into eternity.
But their thoughts and concerns are heard and felt and sometimes they feel like a chain… although that was usually not the intention.
I know some would appreciate it if we could just be still and sensible and settle down into their idea of normal. What is hard to understand, outside of widowhood, is that by trying to lock us into “safety mode” so that they can love us and guard us in their unchanged norm it sometimes feel like being restrained.
We have to find a new norm because God’s will for us as a widow might not look anything like God’s purposes were for us as a couple.
And while others, and to be honest even we ourselves, may not be enjoying this leg of the journey… we must traverse this path that puts us reconciling who/what we were with who/what He is telling us we are still called to be and do now.
Lenny and I lived in parsonage’s so we made wherever we were our home… So at the get-go home changed for me. Some widows have homes that are paid off partially or fully. Some choose to sell and downsize and simplify life to fit their current situation and some hold on to the family home.
But regardless it won’t be like it used to be because the one we want to sit next to on the couch… is not there and that is not a spot just anyone, regardless of how much we love them, can fill. It was filled by THE one that we loved.
We cannot pretend. We just need to be real and to have patience with this new-ness as we seek to find God’s purpose in leaving us here for another season.
There is a new work however that He is walking us toward as He holds us through our days of mourning and we will never be the same as we were before our loss. And I will say what so many others have shared with me but were too sensitive to say. I will share it because I wish I had understood it better as I ministered to widows in the past.
don’t make us feel like we need to conform or apologize for not dropping into your idea of our new normal. God alone has the insight required to help us embrace this new reality. If you need to pray or even worry over something, then pray that we are being drawn closer and closer to the Healer of our hearts so that we would have the wisdom to do and be all that He has purposed for us.
when it comes to those moments when the silence and life itself says we need to step outside the walls of our home… like we did when our spouse was still alive… Trust us and let us go. Most of us are far, FAR beyond our teenage, college day years.
We can travel and go and do things alone in fact, many of us have found comfort in the doing of it.
It is hard to explain but there is a spousal comradery in the doing of things that you and your loved one did, planned and spoke of doing together.
I’ll speak for myself, Lenny and I had incomplete adventures we had dreamed together and we had journeys and get-aways ahead that kept our love very much alive.
When he died we had dreams that we had discussed… Left undone.
Those things are still in my mind and a sweet part of my memories and even though he is not physically present they are a part of us… me.
So forgive us, or don’t, but we have and should pursue those things with the same courage and desire we shared with our spouse.
WE didn’t die…
we yet live
and even if it looks like we are taking journeys (vacations) alone… frivolous… we still travel and dream with the One walking with us and the one who has gone on before us.
And finally THREE:
we widows are not your ‘normal’ especially if we had been empty-nesters for a while. Together the two of us discussed and planned for our last days and tried to put away money and to make sure the two of us were equipped to grow old together and that the one who would eventually be left behind was taken care of.
When you are that one… The one left behind… even that changes.
Money has a different kind of meaning because while you need it it doesn’t speak life.
For me personally I don’t care if those things cost me money. The reason that Lenny and I didn’t do things we dreamt about was because we didn’t have the two dimes it took to bring them to pass or to get ourselves to that place. And if I feel AND God agrees that it is a good thing or a God thing… Then I am going to do it if I have confirmation and He supplies two dimes. I still want to live obediently walking on water. Just because the money maker in our pair is HOME I have no desire to be held captive by finances, fears and others expectations. If I had gone first Lenny would have taken his cross we carry to Mardi Grad on missions and started walking cross country for the same reason – with me gone needs shift, priorities shift – life/living continues.
You see we learned an incredible thing serving in ministry. Anytime Lenny and I were obedient we were never in want. We may not have had money in the bank but we had all that we needed… to BE where we needed to be and DO what we needed to do and LIVE out the day. And to be quite honest in 24 years of ministry we constantly gave everything we had away as God directed and we were never set back. Retirement funds were built up and then used up to complete the ministry before us. Money was put away, saved up and then given away to others in order for them to do ministry. That is how we chose to live we didn’t consult our checkbook first, we prayed and moved. Some would call that unwise… We called it faith.
So as silly as it sounds, if God told me to go to Ireland and write the book or take off and get still so He and I could have a sabbatical… and my world would be quiet…. then I am going to do what He says because THAT is the one thing that has not shifted. This is how I choose to live even as a widow.
Our faith though stretched in loss is still growing and is the one constant in our lives.
Money doesn’t define us, shouldn’t consume us because we are now alone. We are trying to live as afraid of life as we are eager for death, glory and reunions.
For the widow the place we abide was and is wherever God leads us… and even though our normal has shifted God is flexing our faith as He walks us home.
So as I encourage those walking through a new season, Hold on for there are so many unseen things you will encounter as you walk through toward tomorrow. Hold on and remember God’s got you in this.
I also want to say thank you to those of you that love us. You truly are a blessing to us… but as you grieve and love for us and alongside us please, please
don’t hold us so tight
that we can’t be lifted up on wings of eagles because as long as we have breath
we still want to… fly.
April 6, 2019 WIDOWS HEART
Some days and nights it’s overwhelming how empty a room feels without you in it with me. What I wouldn’t give feel the touch of your hand holding mine… to lean into you one more time. I miss ya.
Save a place for me, say some Grace for me… I’ll be there soon. Love you Babe
May 5, 2019 A WIDOWS HEART…
Tonight it will be two years since I had to release you. I have had to learn to walk alone all over again and sometimes I am angry that you are gone. All those things you ‘handled’ I am still trying to figure out. Things we could do together – that I find I cannot do alone. When stuff happens and I need you to reason it out or walk me past it or take me away. When my health becomes an issue that you already understood – but now I am back to hiding out or trying to explain something I don’t even fully understand. You are not there to see it and ease me through it back into the light of day.
You were suppose to have my back. I had yours… you were suppose to have mine.
When I’m hurting and tired of talking. Eager for heaven and yearning to be at your side. When half of us is missing and it just doesn’t seem to flow within me… without you. Yup I get flustered that you are gone and I am here.
I don’t want people’s pity. I don’t need someone to take your place. I need you.
To hear your laughter.
To take off on a walk hand in hand.
To dream with you
To sit beside you on the couch and pretend I am enjoying MMA matches.
To walk through life and Wal-mart with.
We were suppose to be one of those elderly couples still holding hands and smiling as we walked across the parking lot trying to remember where we parked the car. That’s what YOU said over and over again… that is what I heard… that’s what I wanted too… and that is what I cannot have.
The conversations about what we would do when and if we retired…. all of them were wrong because they involved the two of us and only one remains.
We were ying and yang. The other supplying what the other lacked. Now I find I often struggle to understand who I am… apart from you.
The blink of eye is taking forever for those of us on this side of eternity.
Today I miss you… bad.
Hold me Lord because You alone know the fullness of my heart. You alone can comfort and are not uncomfortable with these tears.
Miss you babe.