The last part of March is full of memories for me.
It was March 29 I married my first sweetheart. Lonnie had just come home from a journey of duty as a Marine in Vietnam. We were married and quickly headed out to the USMC base in Quantico, Virginia. We were blessed with almost thirteen years of marriage and given two beautiful daughters, Rebekah Rose and Jessica Lynn. This March 29th we would have celebrated 54 years.
Tragically on March 24, just days before our thirteenth anniversary my beloved husband was killed in an accident. He had told me he had a special evening planned for our anniversary. I often wonder what it would have been.
Three years ago, on March 22 my second husband had emergency surgery for a brain bleed. That was one of the longest days in my life as I wondered if he would live – and if he lived, would his brain be injured beyond repair.
So thankful he recovered and is fine now. I tease him that if he had to pick a time to be seriously injured and facing possible death, he could have picked a better date than two days before I lost my first husband.
So – this time of year as I reflect on what March has brought me – good and bad – one thing stands out in my mind. Through it all, the joy and thankfulness that God brought Lonnie home safe from Vietnam and allowed me to be his wife; the sorrow and pain of his death; the fear of losing another husband; the joy and thankfulness that Paul’s life was spared – through it all – God has been there. He has given me the strength in all circumstances.
So March makes me thankful that I am His child! It reminds me that no matter what life may bring my way, with God at my side, I am victorious!
What a week this has been! Sunday evening my husband was rushed into emergency surgery for a subdural hematoma. Because of the coronavirus I could not go to the hospital with him. At 3:30 that afternoon the surgeon’s assistant called me and told me they were doing emergency surgery and without the surgery my husband would not live. They promised to call me when the surgery was over. But hours later I still did not have a call.
I finally located ICU and found out that he had come out of surgery and was in a room in their Critical Care Unit. They assured me they would have the doctor call me.
It was not until 11 PM that a doctor called.
The week has been the most challenging I have ever experienced. Knowing my husband was in critical condition was bad enough but the fear that he might die without me present kept me awake.
However, I truly believe in the power of God when His people pray.
The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16
Through my family, my church family and FB the word was put out there and prayers began all around the country.
Sunday evening he was near death’s door. Today – Friday he is out of ICU and in rehab. It is clear we have a ways to go – probably one or two more weeks in rehab and then work at home. But I am rejoicing – his speech is now slow but he can speak and he clearly understands. His right side is weak and he needs a walker but he can walk. With more prayers of God’s people and this therapy I’m believing for a complete and total recovery.
However, I realize that for a few weeks or months I will have to carry the burden of keeping our home going and will need to devote more time to him and his recovery.
Therefore, I will give up my blog. I don’t know if this will be a temporary thing or if I will resume later.
I want to thank all my followers for your kind comments and I have enjoyed many of your blogs also.
There seem to be so many articles out there on the web and in sermons today on the importance of believing in God when we pray….the importance of our words.
The Bible is clear that we need to believe in God when we express our petitions to Him. Even science tells us that what we think – what we speak does affect us. It is true that constant negativity will lead to depression and discouragement.
Having said that, I think we can take this “faith” issue to an extreme. A friend once told me to never say I was sick or depressed or worried. To her that displayed a lack of faith in God.
To me that is just a mind game.
I’m sick, I’m depressed, I’m worried, but if I don’t say it, if I don’t acknowledge I have some doubt, God will never know. He will answer my prayer because He will think what great faith I have. NOT!
If God is our Father, then isn’t it better to have a honest, open relationship with Him? A loving father would be one to whom we could express our deepest feelings and one who would love us and do what He could to help us with those feelings that are not good for us.
I’m so thankful that I believe God loves me not because I am such a great woman of faith, but because I am his daughter.
In the Bible a father brought his child to Jesus to be healed. When Jesus responded that all things were possible to one who believed, the man’s answer is one I have often prayed. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
I think of the early church that was gathered in prayer when Peter was put in prison. In answer to their prayers, an angel came and rescued Peter. Hurrying to the place where the church was meeting, when Peter knocked at the door and a servant girl told those praying that Peter was at the door, they did not believe her.
Obviously they were praying with a lot of doubt. One could not really blame them. Just a few days earlier the disciple James had been put in prison and then beheaded. They had to be in fear that Peter also would suffer the same fate. In spite of doubts, they prayed and God answered.
Sometimes I pray with great faith fully expecting God to grant my request. Sometimes I pray with great doubt, afraid. But in both circumstances I pray.
I think perhaps that is the greatest faith. To pray to God and to trust that He in His wisdom will do what is best. To realize I don’t always have the answers and my ways may not be what is best.
Years ago when I met my oncologist for the first time and he told me the odds were not in my favor, the words from Psalm 23 went through my mind. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
When God brought that verse to my memory at that moment I wondered:
Was He saying I was going to beat this disease, going to walk through the valley to more years of a cancer-free life?
Was He saying I was going to walk through this valley by dying and receiving that hope of eternal life?
I did not know which alternative He had for me, but what I did know was the verse told me I did not need to fear for He would be with me.
So – when I pray, I pray with trust that He is in control and that He will do what is best for me – and that I may not always know what is best. So – I pray and leave the results to Him.
My confidence, my faith is in who He is – not in how strong a believer I am.
Thirty-eight years ago my beloved husband and father of my two daughters was killed in an accident. Only those who have suffered the loss of a loved one know what sorrow I felt.
In that first moment when I realized I was a widow at 33 with two little girls to raise, the first thing I did was cry out to God. Since a small girl I have based my life on my faith in Jesus Christ so it was only natural that my first thoughts were “God help me!”
Immediately a verse from the Bible came to my mind.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In the days and weeks ahead God gave me the strength and courage I needed to make so many decisions.
Things I had never thought about:
What funeral home do I use?
Where do I bury him?
Will I have enough money for the expenses?
How will I provide for my girls on my one income?
How far will his life insurance go?
Since I have to keep working, who will watch my girls before/after school?
Do I continue to live where I am or move closer to family for support?
What do I do with all his clothes, his guns, his personal stuff?
But the biggest decision was “how do I get through a day without him?”
While everyone talked about how strong I was, only God knew how many times I fell to my knees and cried out for strength. One of my friends had recently recorded this song, “Praise the Lord,” and when I felt I could not go on, I would play this song and as I began praising the Lord, peace would come once again.
But slowly, as the months, then the years went by the burden of my grief became almost more than I could bear. While the love for my husband did not diminish, I confess I became very lonely. The idea of all the years stretching ahead of me with no one to share them with me became almost overwhelming.
I began to entertain the thought of finding a new love. Yet, I felt so terrible even thinking such a thing.
One Sunday in service the speaker sang an old song “Take My Hand Precious Lord.” The lyrics expressed exactly how I felt.
“Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.”
After the song was finished, the speaker invited anyone who was struggling with a burden to come to the altar for a joint prayer with the church. While I definitely wanted prayer, I did not want to walk to the front of the church – too embarrassing. As I sat in my seat debating what to do, a old friend of the family who was sitting in the very front of the church got up, walked back to me, held out his hand and invited me to walk to the front with him. How could I say no when my heart was crying out for relief of this burden of grief?
At the altar I quietly asked God to please take this burden of grief from me. I could not go on year after year like this. It suddenly came to me that God could give me peace, but I had to be willing to let go of my grief. Like a light bulb going off, I realized that I was holding tight to my sorrow because I felt that was all I had left of my husband. To be willing to stop grieving, to be willing to laugh and love again, I had to “let it go.”
Praying to God to help me, I felt as if a heavy load had been lifted from my shoulders.
I felt the peace of God that passes understanding fill my heart.
Did I quit missing my husband? Of course not. Even today I cannot see a young man fishing without seeing my husband with his fishing pole slung over his shoulder. I cannot see a police officer without seeing my husband in his uniform as a prison guard.
Did I quit loving my husband? Of course not. I treasure his memory and look forward to seeing him again some day in the next life.
But I was able to finally understand that constantly grieving, being filled with sorrow was not how he would have wanted me to live. He would want his memory to bring a smile and he would want me to live and laugh again.
I let my pain go – and accepted the peace Jesus offered me.
Another song I now love to hear that says it so well:
“And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you were never left alone ‘Cause you can always count on Jesus’ name. And if there’s one thing I pray it’s that Jesus helps you find a way to make a change and listen to your heart. God will take away your pain if you choose to let it go, if there’s one thing I know.”
By this post I do not mean to sound like Pollyanna and to those who are suffering unbearable grief, I know it is not an easy thing. But I do hope you will seek the peace of God and allow Him to help you.
In the last years of my mother’s life she lived in southern Illinois while I lived over 300 miles away in northern Illinois. I worked a Monday-Friday job and my husband was a pastor which meant his job required work on the weekends. Thus, it was hard to have a chance to get away for a few days to visit her.
We took some vacation time and made a visit three or four times a year. When we drove in the driveway she was always standing at the door anticipating our arrival. Every time we left she would stand on the porch and wave until we were out of sight.
Becoming interested in doing genealogy research on my family I began asking Mom and Dad to tell me more about their childhood. On one of our last visits, they took my husband and I to the cemeteries where grandparents were buried, to the place where my mother grew up, to the school my dad attended as a small boy. My husband took a videotape of our adventures that day.
In February 2006 my husband retired and I was so excited as that meant we would have weekends free to visit my parents. Now I could visit more and begin writing down their stories and take pictures of places from their childhood.
So, early in April we sat out to visit my parents. I knew Mother would be so happy to hear that I was going to be able to start coming down more and that I wanted to hear more about her childhood and her family.
My excitement soon turned to worry. When we arrived I found my Mother in great pain. She had made a doctor’s appointment for that afternoon. I took her to the doctor expecting to hear that she had some “bug” that would require some medicine and rest. All prepared to stay and help her recover, I was shocked when the doctor admitted her to the hospital for tests.
The first couple of days seem pretty routine and we had some great visits in her hospital room – just the two of us talking. On the third day Mom took a turn for the worse and I called my two sisters to come. Something was wrong – much more than routine.
Mom quickly went downhill as the days passed and it became clear she was not going to make it. The time came when we had to make that dreaded decision. Do we continue to do treatments that were clearly painful or do we let her die with dignity and in peace? A tough decision.
A few days later Mom was gone.
Gone – before I got to write down those stories.
Gone – before I got to spend more time with her.
It has now been thirteen years since Mom left. As I age myself I begin to understand her more. I find myself doing and saying things to my children that she once did and said to me. Often I see that my comments are not welcome. I’m being bossy, old-fashion, interfering. All the things I once thought about my mother. Now I realize while she may have been (and I certainly am) bossy, old-fashion and interfering, her motives were one of love.
Gone – before I could say, “Mom I understand you now.”
Yesterday it was 37 years since my first husband was killed in an accident. He died when the car he was working on fell on top of him and crushed him. My two young daughters came home from school and found him there. Needless to say, it was quite a traumatic experience for them.
All of the events surrounding that day are forever entrenched in my mind. But one memory that still haunts me occurred about six weeks after the funeral.
At the time of his death as I tried to comfort my daughters, my youngest daughter seemed not to really be upset or need any comforting. As family and friends came in for the funeral she enjoyed playing with cousins and friends and appeared to have no sorrow for her father’s death.
At first I thought it was just shock but after the funeral was over and weeks began to pass she still shown no sign of any trauma or sorrow.
I began wondering what kind of daughter I was raising.
Finally, about six weeks later she came to me and asked a question I will never forget.
“Mommy, when will Daddy stop being dead and come home?”
It was then I realized what she had been thinking all this time.
A few months before his death he had injured his back and was in the hospital for almost two weeks. At that time the hospital did not allow young children in the rooms so when I went to see him I would have them stand in the yard just outside his window. He would come to the window and wave at them.
When he was discharged from the hospital we had a party! The girls made a sign “Welcome home Daddy” and we hung it just over the door to the kitchen. We had cake and ice cream and celebrated that Daddy was home with us once again.
At that moment, I realized my young daughter did not understand what “dead” meant. She had apparently thought it was just another injury and that Daddy would be coming home again.
That moment was one of the hardest times of my life.
I sat her down and sadly had to tell her:
“Daddy is dead, Dead means he will never come home again.”
I still remember her face!
Tears swelled up in her eyes and she fell into my arms and cried. Clearly her heart was broken.
No one can measure the trauma and pain both my daughters experienced because of their father’s accidental death. Or the pain I felt seeing them hurting and feeling so inadequate for the task of helping them in this difficult time.
But one thing I learned – and I trust they did too.
Although death – or sometimes divorce or abandonment by a father – can leave us fatherless, we still have a heavenly father who loves and cares for us.
In the months and years ahead I have both experienced that heavenly father’s protection and love for me but also seen His help to my daughters.
I do not pretend to know why my daughters lost their earthly father but I thank God that we have a heavenly father who cares and who helps us when we walk through that valley of the shadow of death – or any other difficult time.
And I praise God that He has given both my daughters a family of their own to love and to have their love.
I also praise God that as a Christian I believe although that little girl’s daddy could not come back home to her – some day she will join him in the new home God has made for them both.
Recently I posted a blog on my memories of my favorite Christmas gift ever. After posting that I have found myself awake in the middle of the night thinking of other Christmas memories. Seems this first post has now led to more.
In my second post I shared how my future husband proposed to me on Christmas Day 1968. We had thirteen wonderful years together and were blessed with two beautiful daughters.
One of the memories that came to me in the middle of the night was a Christmas that was lonely and difficult. In March of 1982 my husband (whose proposal I wrote about in a previous post) was killed in an accident.
This was the first Christmas my young daughters and I spent without him. Although it has been 36 years since that Christmas I can close my eyes and still feel the pain, the deep unspeakable sense of being alone.
But along with these sad thoughts comes one that makes me smile.
That year a friend had given my youngest daughter a book for Christmas that brought us some laughs. Called the “Ugly Joke Book,” it had the usual jokes like:
Beauty is only skin deep …but ugly goes all the way to the bone!
I was such an ugly kid. When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.
You know you’re ugly when it comes to a group picture and they hand you the camera.
In this day of PC I suppose these jokes would not be appropriate to many. That Christmas night, seeing the sad faces of my little girls, I was determined to not let their Christmas night end in terrible sadness. Out came the book. I had us all get in our pajamas, climb into bed and read the jokes. Some of the jokes were funny, others not so much. But I laughed at each one as if it was the funniest thing in the world. After reading the book and staying up way past their bed time, I laid with them asleep in my arms and thanked God that in the midst of sorrow, if we look for it, we can also find joy.
We had spent Christmas Eve with our extended family. We were made so sad because during the entire day no one said anything about our husband/father. It was as if he had never existed; as if his absence was of no importance to anyone. Before returning home, I expressed my hurt to my older sister.
I think I made her cry as she explained they had all agreed not to mention his name because they were afraid of causing us pain. They thought they were doing the kind thing. Sadly they had not.
So – if you have family or friends who have lost a loved one this year – or really any time in the past – don’t be afraid to mention them. Say how you miss them. Share memories you have of them.
God has blessed us and He brought a good man into our lives a few years after this Christmas and my daughters have married and have a family. Our Christmas this year will not be lonely and we are happy.
But we will always remember this wonderful man that made that Christmas one to remember. And in the midst of our celebration, our thoughts will remember dear, dear Lonnie Lott.
In our small group Bible Study we have been looking at the names of God in the Bible. One of those names is El-Roi, “the God who sees me.” I wrote about the basis for that name recently in The God Who Sees Me – Part 1.
Reading that story led me to think of times in my life when I experienced that same sense that God had seen me. Times of my own fear or suffering when God ministered to me in a clear way that let me know He saw me. He knew my distress and He gave me assurance that He was with me and would help me in this time of difficulty.
The first time was when I was 14 years old and grieving over the father who walked out on me and my mother and left us to get by the best we could. That story is told in TheGod Who Sees Me – Part 1
Almost 20 years later, God again assured me that He was the God who sees me. While working at the University of Missouri Extension office in Perryville, Missouri, I anticipated the daily call from my oldest daughter. My two daughters would ride the bus each day from school to our home in the country. Their father who worked the midnight shift would be getting up and waiting to greet them. Although he was always there to meet them, I still had my daughter call me just to let me know they were home and see how their day had gone.
When the phone rang at work, I picked it up happily awaiting my daughter’s voice. But as soon as she began speaking, I knew something terrible had happened, something that would change our lives forever. I will always remember that little girl’s voice saying
Mommy, I think Daddy is dead!
My two daughters – only 6 and 11 – had come home to find their father laying in the driveway underneath our car. He had been working on the muffler and the jack had apparently slipped and crushed him. He had always been very careful when he worked on the car and to this day I do not understand why he raised the car with the jack and did not use anything to stabilize the car or the jack. It was not like him to be so careless. I always remind my family to be careful because it only takes one moment of carelessness to bring disaster.
Hanging onto the phone, I felt my heart would stop! It was hard to believe it was really true but the moments that followed showed me it was true. At 33 I was a widow with two little girls to raise. All kinds of questions flooded my mind.
How would I get through the days, the years to come without my best friend?
How would I help my daughters cope with not only their father’s death but the horror of finding him crushed beneath the car?
How would I be able financially to take care of them with the loss of my husband’s salary?
Who would be there to take care of them when they got home from school since I would be working?
How would I pay for the funeral?
Should we stay in Missouri or move back to be close to family? Could I make it on my own far from family’s support?
On and on the questions raced through my mind as I tried to grasp what had happened. It still seemed like a bad dream. Surely I would wake up soon and be in my own bed with my husband beside me and I would laugh at it all.
But it was not a dream. For the next few days I was numb. Planning the funeral, trying to comfort my daughters, trying to find answers to all those questions, slowly the sense of being in a dream began to leave and reality hit me hard.
Blessed to have family and friends who loved me and supported me, still the time came when everyone went home and back to their lives and I was left with my daughters to face the future alone. This realization came to me the first night after everyone had left. I fixed supper for the three of us and started to place the dishes and silverware on the table for us. Turning from the table to get the food from the stove, I realized I had put four plates and four setting of silverware on the table. With tears streaming down my face, I picked up the extra plate and silverware and returned them to the cabinet. In the future, we would only need three sets of dishes.
I did what I had always done in times of despair. I cried out to the Lord telling Him I did not see how I could make it through the months and years ahead, how alone I felt.
Instantly a verse of scripture came to my mind.
Lo, I am with you always…
While I know in this instance Jesus was speaking to His disciples – and through them to the church, I also realized this scripture had come to my mind by no coincidence. God saw me – this young widow living in the middle of the country – and He cared. He assured me I was not alone and that I would make it because He was with me. He was the “God who sees me.”
We talk a lot about the cross and how terrible the death of Jesus was. The story of Peter’s denial of Jesus and the rest of the disciples fleeing from the garden where he was arrested are familiar to us. It is good that we take time to reflect on the agony, the pain, the shame that Jesus suffered for us on that Friday.
Then we jump to Sunday morning and the wonderful fact of the resurrection! The surprise, the doubt, the joy as they realized that Jesus was alive. Again, it is good that we celebrate this tremendous event, this foundation stone of our faith.
But, what was that Saturday like?
Have you ever wondered what that Saturday was like for the followers of Jesus as they hid behind locked doors? After the shock, the horror of his death, can you imagine the range of emotions they felt on Saturday? Sad, somber Saturday!
Of course, there was the sorrow they experienced at the loss of their friend. I cannot really begin to understand the pain his mother must have felt as she reflected on the suffering he had experienced. Perhaps she could not even sleep, or fell asleep only to wake up from a nightmare seeing him once again being viciously beaten.
There must have been great confusion. Questions as they remembered all the miracles he performed, all the parables he had told. Wondering how he could have come to this end. Had he not made tremendous promises? Had he not proclaimed that he was the only way to God? Had he not even raised a dead man after four days in the tomb?
There must have been great disappointment. What were they to do now? They had left their homes, their employment to follow him. They had been so excited about the kingdom he would set up, even arguing over who would sit on his left and his right hand in that kingdom.
There must have been great fear. Would the Romans come after them now? How could they get out of Jerusalem and back to their villages and their old life safely?
Had they really heard Him?
We have the advantage of looking back on history, on knowing how the story turned out. So it is easy for us to say, “Did they not really hear him?” After all he had told them that he would be killed and would rise again on the third day. Did any of them think about that and wonder if it could be true?
We have our Saturdays too
But before we berate them for not really hearing Jesus, not really understanding, not really believing what he said about his death and coming back to life, are we any different today?
When our Fridays of suffering and difficulty come and we face a sad, somber Saturday dealing with the problems we face, do we forget his promises? He said he would never leave us. He said we would have tribulation in this world, but to be of good cheer because in him we could overcome. He said he gave us his peace, not the peace of the world, but that peace that comes from knowing who is in control.
Today, before I rejoice at the resurrection, I ask God to help me in my times of sorrow, confusion, disappointment and fear. I ask him to remind me that Fridays come and we have sad, somber Saturdays dealing with the problems of Friday, but for the child of God, Sunday is always on the way!
Today my husband and I visited an old friend to say goodbye. In the final stages of cancer it appears he only has a few more weeks to live. This friend was first my husband’s friend. They met when my husband stopped at a restaurant owned by this man. The restaurant was halfway between our home and the church where my husband was the pastor. Driving back and forth between the church office and our home every day, my husband often stopped in for lunch.
“Two Peas in a Pod”
My husband and Richard shared the same sense of humor. They loved to play golf together although from the tales they tell me I am not sure just how good they were at that game. But they had a lot of fun and shared silly jokes with one another.
A true friend!
Richard was a true friend. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my husband was so distraught. The day of my surgery Richard came to the hospital and stayed in the waiting room with my husband until I was safely out of surgery. At that point he became my friend also. Every time my husband had lunch at his restaurant, Richard would ask “How is your bride?”
Eventually Richard sold his restaurant but continued there as manager. After my retirement I often joined my husband and Richard for breakfast there. They kept me laughing so hard as they traded one silly story after another.
The dreaded “C” word!
About two years ago Richard shared with us that he had cancer. He was optimistic saying his cancer was a slow-growing one and he would probably die from something else before the cancer got him. My own story was an encouragement to him. (See my story atLife — What a Wonderful Gift!) When I had my battle with cancer, the doctor had not given me much hope for survival. Yet here I was still alive and cancer-free. To be honest, I was not too much concerned because I truly thought this slow-growing cancer would not take his life.
Time passed, Richard began to grow thinner. Complications set in and he spent too many days in the hospital. Still, I clung to hope. I had beaten cancer and he would too.
But, for Richard, the battle appears over. The doctor has taken him off all the medicine fighting cancer and is talking now about “quality” of life. Hospice has been called in.
How do you say goodbye?
How do you tell a good friend goodbye? Do you laugh and talk about all the funny and happy times you have had? Do you rejoice in the hope that we as Christians have that it is not really “goodbye” but “see you later?” Do you let him see the tears in your eyes as you contemplate life without him?
Realizing your own mortality!
And, to be totally honest, since Richard is the same age as my husband, it makes us realize that we are also in the that final stage of life. So we ask ourselves some questions. Do we have our house in order? Are we truly ready to face our Savior?
Coming back home, we have mixed feelings. Sadness, of course. But also thankfulness for the time we had with Richard. Perhaps most of all, a new determination to enjoy each day as we live it.
Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” ― Kurt Vonnegut