Uncertain But Soaring

Rise up on wings like Eagles
Rise up on wings like Eagles

Life is uncertain at best, devastating at worst with numerous stops in between. I seem to be getting this ‘widow’ thing down to a science, when an emotion or a memory will pop up. Now, as the four-year mark approaches, and I stop to consider the 40+ years we shared, four years is but a moment; a heartbeat.

I am discovering a parallel between the first four years of marriage and the first four years of widowhood. I walked a tightrope into both situations as I explored the new territory. Both caused me to pause and consider how I came to be in this position. Both of these scenarios involve Love.

I journaled my journey this week and found myself with Psalm 63 open in my lap. I read until God spoke, then recognized verses 7 and 8 as meant for my eyes and my heart.

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”

Early in my walk with Jesus, verses using the image of being safely tucked in the shadow of His wings, filled the empty places in my heart. Scenes depicting majestic eagles soaring overhead also spoke to me. What a warm and inviting scene this set for my new Believer’s spirit, presenting a vision of protection and safety only a loving Father’s embrace ensures.

One day I am bold and courageous and the next I am timid and afraid. The bold happens when I tackle a project I used to view as ‘my husband’s job’, and I succeed. I am courageous on those days when my budget balances, or when friends surround me and someone happens to speak my husband’s name out loud.

Timidity and fear make an appearance when I glance back and acknowledge how fast life can take a major turn. I regret things I am missing out on: retirement, financial security, a partner to do things with and the time to do them together.

After the first four years of married life, I began to settle in. I no longer feared another woman might steal away my man. I gained a confidence in his love for me and I promised I would never leave him. Life was not easy, but so worth all the work. The years rolled by and life became routine; not boring but comfortable.

Widowhood brings so much baggage. The thoughts of ‘what if” and ‘if only’ invade my space and rattle my peace. Memories of the last 77 days with Dave, too often, are the only memories I can bring to mind, at least the most prominent ones.

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Now, almost four years later, a new sense of calm and security surround me. I scaled many a hurdle I never envisioned I would need to. It is during those days, the words of Paul shine a light on my path.

“I know I can do all things through God who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

The days we are at our lowest, God lifts us up on Wings of Eagles. Proof of this hangs on the wall in my living room. Dave’s brother, a gifted and talented artist, painted a picture for my husband, delivering when he visited Dave for the last time. The picture is of an eagle soaring toward Heaven. God is so good.

Smooth Sailing?

smooth sailingApril is finished.  What month stops you in your tracks? What month is filled with too many memories? For me, April is the culprit, as our wedding anniversary and Dave’s birthday are a week apart. Both these dates are past now and another won’t surface until February of next year.  So, smooth sailing, right?

I question if that is what life is all about – smooth sailing?  Isn’t it through the hard times we discover what we are made of? Notice how God uses us during those seasons in life; how He uses us in ways we never dreamed likely?  I am convinced my character matures when my heart hurts the most.

Looking back over my journal entries I see the Hand of God directing my footsteps along the path He placed before me.  He reminds me, “My ways are not your ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) When I think about this, I realize it is a good thing, because I tend to take the easy way; given a choice the calm seas win every time.  I may never attempt to navigate rushing waters.

Last summer my sister and I kayaked unfamiliar waters.  We put in at a beautiful spot. The serene picturesque landscape and easy flowing waters suggested an uneventful trip downstream.

We shoved off with ease and commented on the green canopy sheltering us from the sun. Had we known how the day would eventually unfold we might not have put in at that spot.

The memories we made as we navigated the rushing water, forded our boats around a dangerous drop off, and laughed our way downstream, would have been missed. The adventure two sisters experienced one summer day would be only a dream.

There is no comparison between a dream and an adventure. What fun is before you when not so smooth sailingall the waters are calm, when sailing is smooth and no challenge exists?  The excitement begins as the sailboat starts to sink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lifting and Leaving

Marilyn Nutter is guest posting to this site today.  Marilyn, a recent widow like us, has her own dilemmas to face and decisions to make as she steps out into her new life.  You can read more from Marilyn at http://www.marilynnutter.com.  I first met Marilyn online after submitting a devotion to her for her Devotional called Penned from the Heart.  We clicked and I know you will click with Marilyn as well.


Widowhood brings new decisions, and one of mine has been to put my house on the market. My realtor arranged for a stager to tour my house and see which things should be removed and adjusted so buyers see my house in the best light. She moved the angle of a carpet in my half-bathroom (an interesting detail that made a difference), removed some curtains to let more light in, shifted décor so that the eye went to the right place, and recommended that I clear out a closet to reduce clutter.

I got to work on the closet. I sorted and purged; packed things in bins and boxes and made two trips to Goodwill. I rented a storageImage unit, loaded my vehicle and moved the boxes into a climate controlled unit.

Looking, thinking, lifting, moving, giving. It proved to be a good exercise for me.

The closet looks better. I feel better. I’m optimistic that my house will sell in God’s timing and that He will move me to the right house.

I often see the application of spiritual truths from object lessons in every day living. This was one of those times.

As the name of this blog suggests, widowhood is more than grief of our husband’s death. From day one, facing life in the new status of “single”, our burdens vary: single decisions without the benefit of shared wisdom;  “my” plans, not “ours”; new choices; learning new skills; fatigue; financial adjustments; new friendships; not “fitting in” in former activities; loneliness; change. No two widows face their new life in the same way. Circumstances, marriages, and personalities are unique, but it is safe to say that “change” is a label for each woman. Sometimes it is overwhelming.

 So I got to work (alone), packed boxes, loaded my vehicle and drove to the storage unit. I punched in the code to enter and the gate opened.  I unlocked the first door, unloaded and took the boxes to my unit. I turned the key on the padlock and stacked my boxes. I pulled down the door, locked the unit and the exit door, got into my vehicle, used the access code to exit, and drove away.

It was a process to be sure.

The boxes were heavy.

Sometimes I pushed the bins down the corridor because they were heavy.

I left my boxes there.

I made several trips.

I felt lighter.

It was productive.

I accomplished something good even though my muscles (and at times, my heart) hurt.

That evening I took some time to rest.

As I reflected on that day, I saw a parallel to my widowhood journey.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 If I want my house to sell, I had to present it in the best light. That meant making adjustments and following the recommendations of the stager and realtor. In a sense, they invited me to “come” and “take” their suggestions and “learn” the best way to present my house to others. I cleaned and then packed, lifted boxes and bins and left them in the storage unit.

Now with reduced clutter and rearrangement, it’s the same house, but it looks different.

The Lord invites us to “come” and “take” our burdens to Him; to spend time and “learn” from Him and find His rest.

Our widowhood journey is a process of looking, thinking, lifting, moving, and giving. It takes several trips. We often take two steps forward only to find we take one backward. Sometimes we push because our emotional, physical or mental energy is nearly depleted.  Regardless, I find that when I come, take and learn, He gives me rest. One of God’s promises I rely on daily is:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23 (NIV)

Our widowhood is irreversible. Our status is the same yesterday as today. It’s the same house, so to speak, but His compassions are renewed for us each day. In giving myself to come, learn, and take, He removes distractions and doubt and gives focus with His light. The burdens are lighter when I give them over to His wisdom and care, and His faithfulness is my companion.  It’s the same house but I look different. I have more light.

Sail On

ImageI mentioned in a prior post about using a WORD each month to contemplate, study and embrace. Part of this process is talking it over with God, asking for His guidance and wisdom to reveal the one word I need to study for a season.  A number of years ago my word was perseverance and you can imagine where God took me with that one.  But I am grateful I had that word during that time in my life because it helped me to see that everything worth having is worth waiting for.

Perseverance was the title of a devotion I read this morning. The text referred to Christopher Columbus and his tenacity in the face of all sorts of trouble. He and his crew encountered storms, experienced hunger, faced deprivation and extreme discouragement while sailing to find new paths to other lands.  The account of his journey, the words written in the ships log repeatedly voiced the sentiment, “Today, we sailed on.”

That is perseverance, the ability to face the storms of life, to lean into the winds of opposition and still declare, today we sailed on.  These words struck me as I prayed and wrote in my journal today, the first day of a new year; the first day of the rest of my life. This past year brought with it a major attitude adjustment for this writer.  I recognized the value of dropping to my knees in prayer.  I know that prayer works in any posture, but for me, on my knees is a visual of submission.  Total submission to God changed my life.

As a widow, each day is a different challenge, a fresh outlook with new outcomes ahead. Where are you on this journey?  How long have you been in the midst of your future without your spouse in the picture?  What are you feeling today, New Year’s Day?  Regret?  Doubt?  Fear?  I want to hear from you?  Is there something you want me to address in this blog?  Please share your thoughts with me.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)  The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

If you don’t want to comment in the section below, send me an email at judithannie.webb@yahoo.com

Grace ‘n Grins in the New Year

Judy