Living One Mindful Day at a Time

One of the things that I have purposely been thinking about, reading about and trying to incorporate into my life recently is the practice of being mindful and just living in this moment instead of worrying ahead about all the “what if’s”. This isn’t how I have lived my adult life. You see, I’m one of those people who is always thinking ahead, planning ahead, imagining what might happen and how I can deal with it. I see now that so much of my life energy has been wasted in doing this.

Today is the 8th anniversary of my husband’s journey to heaven. How appropo that my reading this morning in the book One Mindful Day at a Time by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD. was the following:

November 10

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

–Alan Watts

Change is movement, right? It’s the shifting of this to that. It’s the ending of one thing and the starting of another. Whether we asked for it or not, whether we like it or not, it’s pushing us all the time

We often resist. We try to plant our feet and stand firm. But change gives us a shove, and off we go.

Since we’re moving anyway, we might as well go with the flow. Resistance only makes it harder, after all. If we plunge in and mindfully move with the change instead of against it, we aligning with its transformative energies.

Might as well join the dance.

Now, I have never liked change. And the change of my title of “wife” to “widow” was not one that I asked for. And, I did resist it for a time because I, frankly, did not like it. However, in time I realized that this change was out of my control. I was hurting myself by fighting against it. Lying back in the current of my life, closing my eyes and learning to live in this precious present moment is the way that God wants me to deal now with my life. Is it easy? No. I tend to take back the reins of my life often wanting to control everything so to avoid any more hurt or pain. So, I’m a lesson in progress.

Mindfulness………something to consider.

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Lessons from Hope

A year ago I began feeling like it was time to crack open my heart a bit. Since the deaths of my husband and parents I have built up very high walls around my heart to protect myself from more pain and possible loss.

After months of researching dog breeders, I chose a breeder in Texas and put down a deposit on a future toy Schnauzer puppy.

As I waited on the birth of just the right female, I made preparations for her much like you make preparations for the birth of a child. My emotions were a mixture of quiet expectation and yet fear of opening up my life to a new living thing. I began contemplating and praying about a name for her. I wanted a significant name that would be a good reminder of something I need in my life. On the day that the name “Hope” was suggested, I knew that was the right name because hope is something that I need to be reminded of every day.

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my HOPE in God! I will praise Him again–my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:5 

For I HOPE in You, O Lord: You will answer, O Lord my God.  Psalm 38:15

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? HOPE in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose HOPE is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them: who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects the strangers. He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked.  Psalm 146:5-10

This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have HOPE. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I have HOPE in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:21-25

…..we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the HOPE set before us. This HOPE we have as an anchor of the soul, a HOPE both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has enters as a forerunner for us. Hebrews 6:18-20

Finally the day arrived for Hope to fly to me from Dallas. The plan had been for a lady to hand carry her on the plane here to me, but hurricane Harvey disrupted those plans and the carrier was trapped in her home in Houston where all the airports were closed. So Hope had to fly from Dallas in a crate underneath in the pressurized area in the belly of the plane. Needless to say, when she arrived she was traumatized and a very needy puppy for the first three days. All that crying and neediness made me question whether or not I had made the right decision. Here I was a caregiver again! I began asking the Lord to show me what lessons I needed to learn from this little puppy and here are a few things that I have learned from her.

TRUST – Hope completely trusts me. Whenever we are training together, she keeps her eyes focused on nothing but me. Her sole care in in my hands. Oh, how much I need to do this in my relationship with Christ! Trust is something that was shattered the day Bob went to heaven because I couldn’t possibly see how this could work out for good for me. As time has gone on, I am slowly rebuilding my trust in God.

LOVE – Hope’s greatest desire is to be with me and to spend time with me. My goal should be to have that same kind of relationship with God and I have found that in these last almost 8 years alone, my relationship has become a deeper one. I am much more aware of God in the little things every day. He’s the one I talk to all of the time and my love for Him has grown greater even in the midst of my grief.

PLEASE – Hope wants to please me. Her greatest joy is to hear me praise her and exuberantly tell her, “GOOD GIRL, Hope! GOOD GIRL!” She wags her little stub of a tail as hard as she can and joyfully wiggles her body all over in excitement. Does pleasing God bring me joy like that? It should certainly be something I strive for even though I know that because I am human, I can never totally and perfectly please God.

DISOBEDIENT – As we have gotten to know each other better and Hope has become more comfortable with me, there are times when she chooses not to listen to my commands. She definitely knows what I am asking of her because she is looking right at me when I am telling her what to do. She’ll even start to sit and then quickly gets up before sitting completely.  She is either slow to obey or will not obey.  How like me this is! I can’t understand God’s ways and think that I know better than He does what is best for me. I find myself many times rebelling in my heart against His plan for my life now because it is not what I would have chosen at all.

COMFORTER – Little 5 pound Hope has become a comforter to me. She senses when my grief is great and will lie right over my heart. To me this is a picture of my comforter the Holy Spirit who prays the words for me when all I can do is groan with the deep pain I feel in my heart when I am missing Bob so much. A good, hard cry releases that grief and gives me a sense of relief until the next time grief ambushes me.

IN THE MOMENT – Dogs live in the moment. Hope is not thinking about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. I have always been a person that goes back and rethinks what happened yesterday that disturbed me and what might happen tomorrow. Living in the moment is something that I have begun to work on. It’s hard to keep my mind on the here and now, but I am finding that it makes life so much easier and less stressful.

One big surprise that has happened since Hope came to live with me 3 months ago is that I am sleeping 6-7 hours straight through on a majority of my nights. One of the biggest problems most widows have to contend with is lack of sleep. I would sleep 2-3 hours and then wake up before going back to sleep again only to repeat that same scenario. That is not restful sleep and has affected me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I tried everything but medication. However, it wasn’t until Hope arrived that this problem has been very much helped. Now, that just doesn’t make any sense to me and I can’t really figure out why she has made the difference, but she has and I am so thankful.

I’m sure that there will be more lessons that God has to teach me through Hope. Meanwhile, I will continue to be thankful for her – even when her daily times of puppy craziness are over the top. As soon as she works that energy out and tucks herself up against me in quietness and stillness, I know she is good for me. Who knew that a puppy can teach a widow so many things!

 

God Prepared Me to be a Widow

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Tricia Lott Williford who is the author of And Life Comes Back (her widow story), Let’s Pretend We’re Normal (single parenting) and her newest book You Can Do ThisThere were several enlightening moments, but in the second part of the interview when interviewer Rabbi Eric Walker began methodically and very carefully expounding on what happened to Tricia as a 4th grade girl, he opened up a whole new way for Tricia to look back on her life and see what God has been doing.

I began to wonder if God had done anything in my own life to prepare me to be a widow. What I am seeing is really quite amazing and I decided to share those things with you.

I was brought into the world by parents who fell in love with God a few years later. He became the focus of their lives and they daily sought after Him. Their example drew me to Christ and I accepted Him as my personal Savior at the age of nine. Though my faith was shattered the moment I lost my husband, that same faith is what has kept me from giving up on life and on God even in the midst of all of my questions.

My mother loved life no matter what challenges were thrown at her. She was a strong woman who never ran from hard things. In fact, she embraced them and learned from them. My memories of her serve as an example to me now. If she could be here and say anything at all to me now, it would be, “You can do this, Candy! You can do this!”

God designed me with an introverted personality that does not need another person around to energize me. Even as a young girl, I enjoyed being alone in my bedroom. I can see how that shaped me and prepared me to live life without a husband.

I was also given a voracious love for reading that helps me feed my soul. Not a day goes by that you don’t find me reading something. That love allowed me early on to seek out books written by other widows which, in turn, affirmed what I was feeling and am experiencing, showed me I am not alone in what I am going through and encourages me to continue on. Reading also allows me to travel to other places in my mind without the need for money. Certain books are like friends who draw you in, share their lives with you, and let you know that life can go on.

Despite being an introvert, God gave me a strong will and a desire to keep going even when I am too tired to go on and so very sad that my husband is no longer here doing life with me. That will keeps me from throwing up my hands and saying, “I quit!”

When I was seventeen years old, my parents moved our family of six from the Gulf coast of South Texas to the vast prairie land of Alberta, Canada. That move opened my eyes and showed me that even when change in my life happens that is out of my control, there is life afterwards. It may not look like the life that I had imagined for myself, but it can swing wide the doors of new ways of doing things and new heights to climb that reveal more strengths than I thought that I had.

As I continue to look back at my life, I come to the place where God gave me a husband who was always faithful and true to me and who always loved me unconditionally. He was my earthly picture of the love of God.

Those thirty-six plus years with Bob taught me many things that I would not have otherwise learned. Bob could fix anything around the house. From watching him, I learned how to problem solve and how to use tools. I never knew that I could do those things, though, until I became a widow. I draw on those resources so much now. He also saved us much money on car repairs. I learned that certain noises or issues can mean certain things. That makes me very aware now of any changes in the function of my car. I can’t actually make the repairs, but I know when my car needs to be taken care of by a reputable mechanic.

God also gave me a husband who had the forethought and wisdom to make preparations to take care of me should he go first. I cannot tell you how often I thank God for that and what a tremendous blessing that is to me.

The extended family that God designed for me also prepared me for being a widow. I have two aunts and uncles that love the Lord and have never turned their backs on Him. Their stories of what God has done and continues to do for them in their troublesome times are my inspiration. Their strengths and determination are my examples to keep on keeping on. I also have a special cousin who really understands who I am as a person. That gift alone is priceless.

Wisdom is another gift God prepared for me. During those early months of my first year of grief when the pain was so bad and the widow fog was so thick, I had the wisdom to know that I needed professional help to deal with complicated grief. This was the first time in my life that I admitted that I needed help and that was no small thing. When you come to the end of yourself, you have to find a way to go on and you cannot do that alone.

My relationship with God was never more close than it was the year leading up to Bob’s death. Looking back on my life, I can see that was preparing me to know God on a much deeper level and established a oneness with Him that I would need as a widow. Yes, there were times of great darkness when I could neither see nor feel God with me. Now I can see that He was there all along carrying me. God continues even now to carry me when I can’t walk, to walk beside me when I’m able to get back up on my feet and to be faithful to me every precious moment of my life.

Take the time to look back on your own life to see how God has prepared you for this place of widowhood. It’s am amazing exercise that will strengthen your faith. I also encourage you to listen to Tricia Lott Williford’s interview with Rabbi Walker and to read all three of her books.

 

Identity or Assignment?

“Being faithful to God doesn’t mean staying in one place, letting our feet get stale. It’s understanding we have different assignments during different times in our lives. Our identity doesn’t change, but our assignment does change. The moment I make my assignment my identity is the moment I get into trouble. We have to realize … Continue reading

The Good Part

In Luke 9 Jesus has just crossed the hot deserts of Samaria where he had given up hope of Israel ever receiving him as their Messiah.  He knew that his God given purpose to die on the cross for the sins of the world was going to happen soon.  He made his way to the home of Mary and Martha who were his friends hoping to share all of his emotions and find comfort.

Martha’s first thought when she saw him enter was food centered.  She immediately kicked it into high gear and began making preparations to serve him a meal.  But Mary, whom you always find mentioned as sitting at Jesus’ feet, ignores all of the flurry going on in the kitchen while she gives Jesus her full attention.

When Martha complains to Jesus, Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen “the good part”.

In the chapter titled “The Growth of the Reflective Life” of Ken Gire’s book SEEING WHAT IS SACRED, he better illustrates just what Jesus meant:

“Imagine a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings.  Hillocks of mashed potatoes and dressing, sluiced with gravy, hot buttered rolls, cranberry sauce, an assortment of salads, trays of deviled eggs, olives, sweet pickles, slabs of pumpkin pie daubed with homemade whipped cream.  All those things look wonderful, smell wonderful, taste wonderful.

Now imagine that meal without a turkey.

The portion around which all the other food is centered is the butter-basted turkey, cooked golden brown and filling the entire house with its mouthwatering aroma.  That is the “good part” of the Thanksgiving meal. 

Without intimate fellowship with Christ, the Christian life is just a buffet of so many side dishes and relish trays.”

How many times since the death of my husband have I asked God, “Why am I here?  What is my purpose now if I am no longer to be a wife?  What’s the point?”  How many times have you asked those very same questions?

I now believe this is the purpose of every widow – to chose “the good part” of learning how to have that intimate fellowship with Christ.  “How do I do that?” you may ask.  I would say that first of all you have to come to the point where you can be still.  That’s hard to do when you are struggling so hard to find your identity and you want to find it in a hurry because you don’t like being out in that place of limbo where grief throws you.  I can’t tell you how long it may take you to get to that point.  For some, it may come sooner than for others.

Once you can be still, then your heart will be ready to “hear” God’s still, small voice and the communication can begin.  You may feel His stirring in your heart as you are reading your Bible.  Or perhaps you find that Christian music fills up your heart with Him.  It may be that He speaks in the rustle of the pages of a book you are reading.  God can commune with you through the beauty of nature.  Theses are just a few of the countless ways that I am finding “the good part”.

I challenge you to stop struggling so hard against what grief has brought to you.  Instead, lean into it and just be still so that you, too, can find “the good part”.

 

What Does Easter Mean to a Christian Widow?

Never before has the truth of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection meant more to me than it has in the last 7 years of being a widow. This weekend as I meditate on all of those events, my heart feels so many different emotions – sadness because of the sins of the world (including my own) that caused God to send His only Son to earth to die for my sins; gratitude that God and Jesus love me enough to do this for me; confident hope that because I have repented of my sins, belief that Christ’s death paid for my sins, and belief that He rose from the grave and is alive, one day I will be with Him in heaven where my husband and other loved ones will be waiting for me.

I am a deep-feeling and very sensitive person to the point that whenever I really think about a sad or traumatic event or even the possibility of an event such as that, I can actually feel pain and fear and all the other emotions that go along with it. It doesn’t take much for me to imagine what the women who followed Jesus were experiencing. Shock at what was happening. Fear of how the whole thing was going to unfold. Anger that God nor any of the disciples were doing anything to stop this horrible thing. Piercing, gut-wrenching anticipatory grief as they stood by watching Jesus slowly die on that cross. Complete loss of hope that moment when Jesus took his last dying breath. Questions and utter dejection as they followed closely those carrying Jesus’ body to see in what tomb it would be laid. Duty as they went back and made ready the spices and ointments that they would use to prepare Jesus’ body after they had rested on the Sabbath day. Complete and total full-blown grief.

The day after the Sabbath, those same women got up at early dawn and went to the tomb taking the spices and ointments they had prepared. But, when they went inside the tomb, Jesus’ body was gone. There in the place where His body should had been were two dazzling angels. One was seated at the end where His head should have been and the other angel sat at the opposite end where His feet should have been. Do you see that mental picture?

This is a picture of the mercy seat which was the lid placed over the Ark of the Covenant. Once a year the Old Testament High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies that contained the mercy seat. He would sprinkle the blood of animals sacrificed for the atonement of the sins of the people.

Jesus shed his blood on the cross. His body was then laid inside a tomb. His resurrection occurred. Several women came back to the tomb to prepare his body after the Sabbath. Inside they found that the place where Jesus’ body should have lain was empty. At the place where his head and feet should have been were angels. Jesus blood had become the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. That empty place with the dazzling angels at both ends was a picture of that Old Testament mercy seat. No longer would the high priest need to sacrifice the blood of animals for the atonement of our sins. Jesus paid it all with his own body on the cross. He made that sacrifice giving us the opportunity to individually repent of our sins, accept Christ as our personal Savior and have the promise of eternal life.

For the Christian widow whose husband accepted Christ, this is HUGE. This means that not only will we see Jesus and heaven at the moment of our death, but we will also see our husband again some day. This is HOPE in every possible way, shape, or form. I can’t live without this HOPE.

 

A Gentle Shift

Within the last seven months I have felt a gentle shift in my life. It began with the thought that maybe it’s time to think about getting a puppy as a companion. My daughters had all suggested to me many times in these last years that this might be something good for me, but I resisted that idea because I had a great fear of the possibility of loving something, or in this case one of God’s creatures, and losing it. I would not even give the idea a moment of consideration.

I suppose with this shift comes even more acceptance that this truly is my life now and I need to look forward more than backwards. There is truly no way for me to ever forget the life that I lived with my husband Bob nor the dreams that I had of us growing old together and being there for each other as we aged. But the time that God had planned for Bob on this earth was much shorter than either of us could have ever surmised. He has gone on to Glory while I remain here on this earth to live out the rest of my planned days.

Beginning in the second year of my widowhood and continuing on into my fifth year, the thought foremost in my mind was that I had to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Why am I still here? What is God’s purpose for me now? How do I really LIVE the life that I have been given? What do I do to fill my days doing things that are purposeful and meaningful? What do I do to feel like I belong now? How do I not feel like a third wheel in every situation I am in? How do I feel like I am not that sore thumb that sticks out? What does it take to go from that woman who feels like she has a big red “W” on her forehead to that single woman whose face shines from walking and talking with God all throughout her days?

These were the questions that continuously plagued me as they swirled around and around in my head depleting me of energy and frustrating me because the answer were not forthcoming. So, I decided to let all of those questions go the best that I could and just be still and wait. I am finding out that God doesn’t seem to want to answer all of my questions at one time. He probably knows that it would be too overwhelming for me. In fact, there may be some questions that He won’t answer. Instead, slowly like the turtle who creeps from one side of the highway to the other He allows a shift in my thinking and feelings that begin to gradually guide me forward.

It has taken me these last seven months to begin to even act on that shift. I have meticulously researched breeders for the type of puppy that I would like to have (female toy schnauzer) and have narrowed it down to two possibilities – both out of state. This week I will talk by phone to the breeder that lives the closest to me in order to get a feel for how we might work together and to ask more direct questions.

Tomorrow someone from one of the local fence companies will come to give me an estimate for putting up a small pet fence around my back patio. I wait for a return call from another fence company so that I can schedule a 2nd estimate with them in order to make a good decision. I already have a list of necessary questions that I got online to ask each representative.

I have read much about housebreaking, crate training, vet needs, obedience training as well as listened to online videos on each subject. List making and narrowing down exactly what puppy supplies are really needed has been completed. Vet research commenced and I found a wonderful small pet veterinarian that is a little over a mile from my house. He also just happens to have the best prices in town for his services.

My youngest brother’s help has been enlisted and I have sought his advice in several areas. He has owned a toy schnauzer for years. It’s good for me to have him walk alongside me in this new venture and encourage me on the days that I get scared about it all and wonder what in the world I am doing. This is a big step, but I have a feeling that it can be a step that will be beneficial emotionally and help not only to fill my days, but provide some good companionship.

Why does this new venture frighten me? Is it because I will once again become a caregiver taking on the responsibility of the care of the life of another being? Is it the realization that in order for me to have a loving, obedient pet, I must be committed and consistent to its training for a year? Is it that perfectionism tendency that I have that I might not chose the right breeder or the puppy whose adult size will be right and whose personality will be gentle and laid-back like this introvert needs? Is it just all the fears of the unknown?

In all honesty, it’s all of those thing and if I allow my mind to dwell on those uncertainties, I can very easily draw back into my shell, shut down and decide that I am just not brave enough to move forward.

Yet, if I do that, I might just miss an asset that could improve my life as a widow. So, I am stepping forward in trepidation with much prayer for exact direction in each and every decision that will need to be made in the next few months and trusting that this shift that God began in my heart those seven months ago is going to bring something special into my life.

Have you felt a shift in your life as a widow? If so, tell me about it. How did you feel? What new direction did you go?

The Treasure Box

It never ceases to amaze me the ways that God uses to speak very profound truths into my life. This month my sweet 16 year old autistic friend Brady stood with his mom and older brother at the graveside of his father. His mother wasn’t quite sure what his concept of death would be nor how he would react to it all.

Several nights before this Brady had prayed aloud with his family and his paternal grandparents telling the Lord how very sad they all were that his dad had died. This……from a child who came from a place where he could not speak. Over time and with much help from his mom and professionals, Brady has blossomed and developed into this sweet young man who not only speaks, but is able to express his emotions. His heart is BIG for others. His smile lights up a room. He “gets” things that others don’t “get”. A precious jewel God sent into this world to teach those around him so many unexpected truths.

As the casket was being lowered into the ground, Brady looked at his mom and said, “Is that the treasure box? Are they burying the treasure box?” Mom’s answer was “Yes“. When she shared that with me, an arrow immediately struck me in the heart. I knew there was a deep truth from God here. I began to mull over what Brady asked and this morning the answer came.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” II Corinthians 4:7

Earthen vessels were clay jars fashioned by skilled potters who would take a lump of clay, shape it, mold it, and bake it until it was hard. Those jars were then painted, glazed and decorated for whatever purpose the potter had planned for it. Many jars had sacred scrolls or valuable documents that were rolled up and hidden inside.

Our bodies are temporary housing places for the treasure of the light of the rich truth of the gospel that displays the glory of God. When our earthly body is laid inside the casket, that casket becomes the box that holds the vessel that housed that treasure. That casket becomes a Treasure Box holding our physical bodies that will one day be resurrected to become glorified bodies if we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior.

Never again will I look at a casket the same way. Hereafter I will call it a Treasure Box.

Thank you, Brady, for being exactly who God made you to be and for revealing a new truth to comfort my heart.

brady-brenda-taylor(Brady on the left looking down at his mom standing next to his big brother at the graveside of their dad)

Who Was He?

collage-of-bobs-lifeNovember 10th, 2009 – the day our lives changed forever. Bob finished his earthly course and stepped into the presence of his Lord and Savior. The 36 years, 4 months and 10 days of the book of my life as a wife abruptly closed and a new book entitled Just You and I, Lord began. For seven years the chapters have been about brokenness, questions, uncertainties and fears. Woven all throughout those chapters has been the love of God, rebirth of a different kind of relationship with Him, learning to stand up for myself, doing things that I never dreamed I could do, taking the time to process through things that hurt me instead of stuffing them down deep inside my heart……and on and on.

Every year reflecting back is a part of the days and weeks leading up to November 10th. Who was Bob Feathers? The best way to answer that question is to take out the beautiful leather Bible that I was given from the men in the Emissions Lab at Nissan North America. Bob had been the lab manager and had two shifts of men under him. Those men became like family members to him. To say that he cared for each and every one of them dearly would be an understatement. Every night as we prayed together before going to sleep, Bob would pray for them all by name — not just first name, but first and last name. Every December he asked me to bake dozens and dozens of a variety of homemade cookies for them as his love gift to them. When his diet had to change during his last few years there, he ordered bags and bags of trail mix to hand out.

Being in the managerial position was extremely stressful, but Bob did his very best to take into consideration what was going on in each man’s personal life and to encourage them not only personally but professionally. His love and care became evident after his death when those men presented me with a beautiful leather Bible. Engraved on the front bottom right corner are the words “Robert Feathers/Friend”. One of the men that Bob had worked with from the very beginning sent me a note that means more to me than anything and so greatly describes who Bob was:

Bob loved all of you very much. I can still remember the photograph Bob kept on his desk at work of his 4 daughters (Leah, Annissa, Charity & Tshanina). He was so very proud of each of you. He was always talking about his children and his loving wife. Candy – you were the perfect wife for Bob. Bob knew how blessed he was in this life, and how blessed he would be after this life. He is in peace now, and I know that is difficult. I admired, truly admired Bob for the man that he was, for the way he lived his life, for the way he loved his family, for the ethics and his morals, for so many different reasons. He was a great man.

There were four other young men that Bob greatly loved and they were his sons-in-law. After all, he knew that these men were the ones whom he had entrusted the love and care of his four most precious possessions – his daughters. These were the men that would help raise his grandchildren and be the physical and spiritual leaders of their homes. Once a year when all four men were in town together, Bob would take them aside and just talk to them about life, what it means to be a husband, what it means to be a father and, most importantly, how to have a relationship with God. How much more he could say to them now after living in heaven for these last 7 years!

At the time of his death, there were four grandsons and one granddaughter. He loved them with all of his heart. He would talk to me about how he wanted to teach the boys how to repair small engines so that they would always have the knowledge to keep their lawn mowers and weed eaters running. He loved to take them up on his lap and ride them around our country yard on the John Deere riding mower. Letting them steer was the highlight of their day. Our granddaughter Elizabeth looked so much like her mother Leah that Bob nicknamed her “Little Leah”. Those grandchildren each came up to the hospital to show him their Halloween costumes nine days before his death. Bob made sure that he had some candy to give to each one of them because food was his love language and he wanted them to know that no matter how very sick he was, he loved them. Now there are 8 grandsons. Bob would be in his element for sure!

Our four daughters were Bob’s most valuable treasures entrusted to him by God to lead, guide and direct. They meant more to him than anything else in this world. He was so proud of the grown women, wives and mothers they had become. I wish he could know what they are like now seven years later. His chest would swell with love and thankfulness for their personal relationships with God, the way that they love on and care for their husbands, how they work so hard to train their children, how they love on me, their wisdom, their understanding, and how they love others as much as he did.

Bob wasn’t perfect. Neither am I. You could say that we grew up together after marrying at ages 20 and 21. I never once worried that he would not provide for me or our daughters. Never once did the thought that he might leave me enter my mind. I trusted him implicitly. A better picture of Christ’s unconditional love I could not have had. Because I loved/love Bob so deeply, I grieve deeply. Not a day goes by that he is not on my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell God how very much I miss him and how much it still hurts to live without him. What a gift it was for me to have experienced a love like that with my one and only! What a privilege it was to care for him and walk with him through those last dark days of his life.

Now I walk through my days with THE ONE – my Lord and Savior – and look forward to the day when I see Him and Bob face to face.

The Castle of My Heart

“Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10 NIV

One of the most heartbreaking things in the life of a widow is no longer being special, no longer belonging especially to someone, no longer being loved by someone in human form, and no longer having her spouse to guard and protect her. You may have family and friends in your life, but really and truly it’s just you and God now.

Have you ever given any thought about how God is guarding your life as a widow? Yesterday I began reading a new book entitled Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us that just became available during this month. Author Heather Holleman struggled with depression and anxiety, but found that using mental word pictures to daily focus on the truths of scripture began to help her break down those strongholds in her life.

I am a visual person and as I began to think about what word picture would help me to most understand that God is guarding me, the picture of HighClere Castle, whose massive stone walls stand strong and erect out in the  countryside of Newbury, England, popped into my mind. Because that particular castle was used in the filming of the PBS series Downton Abbey, I knew that I could order an inexpensive replica of it to put on the window sill over my kitchen sink to serve as my daily reminder that I am in the castle where God is standing guard over me.

The location of my castle was especially important to me. Wide open spaces bring a feeling of peace. It’s a place where I can just breathe and feel the muscles in my body begin to relax. Jesus and I are strolling the grounds outside my magnificent castle as I pour out my heart to Him and share with Him all of my fears, concerns and deepest feelings. He quietly listens and then tells me how much He loves me and that I am His own. He puts His arms around me and points back to the protection of the castle walls assuring me that He’s got my back now.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6 NIV

Inside the castle I imagine myself seated with Jesus at a table for two. Flowers sit in the center of the table with their sweet aroma filling our intimate space. There are floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the outdoors flooding the room with warm sunlight that never ceases to uplift my spirits. During the fall and winter months a bright, cheery fire burns in a fireplace close to our table warming us as we sit together in close fellowship. The firelight lights up the gold gilded walls and painted frescoes on the ceiling. Love radiates from the face of my Jesus warming my heart. He reaches across the table and holds my hands letting me know that He’s got this widow life and will never ever leave me alone.

Early this morning as I began to come to consciousness the words and music to a song that my four daughters used to sing as children began to play in my mind. I haven’t thought of this song in years, but how relevant it is to my new word pictures as I meditate on being in the castle  with Jesus as He now guards my heart. Perhaps you will find that word pictures are helpful to you as a widow. When you think of some that are different than the ones I have shared here, please share them with us. How thankful I am that I am not doing widow life alone and that God’s got my back.