Tag Archives: love

We Don’t Struggle Alone


Finding the Only One who truly wants to Help when we are Hopeless.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:16

Have you ever found yourself alone with no one to support you? Even when you were among people who claimed to love you? Did you get mad at them for deserting you when you needed them the most? I have and let me tell you it is not a fun place to be.

Over the past few months I have faced several situations in my life that quite honestly caught me off guard. I was sailing through life, just doing my thing and BAM! out of nowhere here came a wave of epic proportions that knocked me off track. When I stopped spinning, I looked around and saw a scene that literally broke my heart.

Have you been there?

I realized after I dusted myself off and surveyed the damage that several things in my life were not what I thought they were. People I thought were my friends were anything but my friends. People I thought were not interested in being involved in my daily life truly were interested. The strength I thought I had was crumbled under the weight of the struggles I was carrying.

Have you been there?  

In today’s world people don’t want to talk about serious things like depression, anxiety, or panic attacks. It is perfectly fine to talk about any number of physical illnesses such as the flu, broken limbs, cancer, or heart disease, but don’t you dare talk about life altering illnesses such as clinical depression or anxiety. That’s where we draw the line. Many of us pack up our toys and go home when someone we know faces some kind of “mental illness”. We literally desert the people who need us the most because “we can’t handle them or their issues”.


Because we are so much better than them?

Because we don’t have those struggles and why would we? I mean, our life is practically perfect in every way. Come on man, don’t you read social media?

I have spent a good bit of time asking myself the question of why we leave those who need us most a lot lately. It doesn’t make sense why we leave people when they are at their lowest. Yet, we always do.

It really should come as no surprise that I spent a great deal of time wondering, questioning, and getting plain old mad about the fact that at my lowest I had very, very few people to turn to for help. When I realized this new territory, that I unwillingly found myself in was so very, very lonely I almost gave up.

Have you been there, too?

Today’s society only wants to see the happy, positive, good things in life. No one wants to open their eyes to the bad things. So, day in and day out we force ourselves to go to work, church, and the various other places life insists that we go even though we are silently dying inside. We put on our best clothes, fix up our highlighted hair, and paste on the biggest, fake-est smiles we can muster and do what we “have” to do.

I know you’ve been there.

In March, I decided that I was done with fake happiness. I was done with putting on a show. I was done with playing nice. I was tired and I was done with everything in my life. I didn’t want to end my life, but I sure did want to walk away from it.

So, I quit being nice. I stopped doing more for other people than I did for myself. I stopped playing the part that I assumed needed to be played. I receded into a shell and tried my hardest to push everyone else OUT.

Have you been there?

The Lord has used this dark valley to teach me more about Him. When I was at the bottom, I looked to the only thing that has been a constant in my life: My Bible. Inside those pages I struggled to find what God wanted me to know about this horrible place I found myself so desperately stuck in. Little did I know; He would use this time of pushing people out to open my heart to greater things about HIM.

I dug deep into His word and I studied what He wanted me to study ALONE. Just me and God. I couldn’t let myself get around people. Being around people, even the sincerest, truly Godliest people I know was just too much to handle. So, I retreated even further into my shell.

Have you been there?

This journey has been fascinating. I’ve been able to watch from the outside and fully process what I see and don’t see from people in general. What God has shown me is truly liberating! People, no matter how sincere or willing to help will always fail at the very moment you expect them to rise above the rest.


Even Christians.

Most importantly, Christians.

No one is perfect. No one has all the answers. No one is smarter, more capable, more important than YOU are to God. He loves us all the same.

Let that sink in for just one teeny tiny moment.







Can someone please say, “Hallelujah?!”

There are quite a few of us who honestly believe we are “better than, smarter than, more important than” other people. I hate to break it to ya, there friend. Yous been lied to!

See, the devil loves fooling us into thinking we are above one another or better than someone else because we “are in church every time the doors are open” or “we tithe over the required ten percent” or “we can answer more bible questions than anyone else in the room”. He uses things like jealousy and selfishness to make you feel like less of a person when your paycheck doesn’t equal one hour of someone else’s. He loves to create chaos and scenarios about how “so and so is doing this or that and you pitiful thing are not”. I bought into some of those lies.

Have you?

Today, I am seeing life a lot more clearly. I can recognize how far I have come in my walk with the Lord. I look back over my shoulder and see that He carried me through a lot of dark places, and I am forever grateful! The lies that I bought into had the potential to ruin my life, but God refused to let me go that far.

During my quiet time with the Lord this morning, He led me to this scripture in 2nd Timothy and I realized God had truly led me out of the darkness! He let the pain of the past few months teach me some lessons I would never have learned otherwise. I wouldn’t have learned any of this if I had stayed in that same rut and routine that I was in. It took drastic measures for drastic change to happen.  

I can’t hold a grudge against another person for being a sinner just like me. I can’t let my feelings of disappointment, fear, anger, or brokenness define who I was meant to be. I can’t blame someone else for the turmoil I created in my own life. I can’t wish I had something someone else has when I’ve been so blessed with more than I could ever deserve. I also can’t run away from people forever, but I can take a break from them when it becomes necessary for my survival.

You can too.

Today I can say “I’m free!” and 100% believe it. I can choose to live in that truth, and I can let the chains that have held me down drop right here in the dirt. I am a new creation who has been set free.

Being set free doesn’t mean that those demons I’ve been fighting won’t rear their ugly heads again though. Being set free means that I am not alone in my fight. God has my back. He’s my shield and fortress. When I am under attack I can fight courageously because I wear the full armor of God. He’s my portion and my guide. I don’t have to rely on myself. I have a helper that will never leave or forsake me.

Look what the very next verse in 2 Timothy chapter 4 says:

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.” 2 Timothy 4:17

 All this time that I thought I was alone in my fight, I wasn’t! The Lord stood at my side. He gave me strength. He was with me the whole time. Why?

So that you my dear friend might hear my story and see that God is good. He doesn’t just decide to help one person over another. He wants to help us all, but we have to ask for His help. Then, He can and will use all those things in life that try to kill us or defeat us for HIS good and the good of others. It’s not about you or me…its about HIM!!!

He doesn’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been. He loves you just the same! He wants us to see that He is there and working for us no matter how bad the situation seems.

Today I learned that He doesn’t just want us to be thankful for what He has done. He wants us to tell others about the things HE has done so that they can find hope too!

Please don’t let people stop you from being the person God created you to be. He has a purpose for your life, and He wants you to complete the assignment the He has given you. The choice is yours though. Living life defeated is not fun. Living life scared, unsure, anxious, or doubtful is not really living. Stepping out of your comfort zone and making the choice to live a fun, happy, courageous life is easier than you may think right now.

Here’s the key to making it easy: realizing that you are never going to be strong enough to handle what life throws at you…but HE is!

Life is tough for all of us. At times it may seem like it’s easy for some people and excruciatingly hard for others when we are looking at their lives right now. We must all remind ourselves that seeing part of a person’s story is just that: part of the story. The only person who sees the whole story is the Lord.

So, keep pushing my friend. Don’t give up and don’t give in. Life may be hard right now. Some days it may even seem like you will never make it another minute and that’s OK. It is in those moments when you can hear that still, small voice inside your heart telling you to keep going, because God’s ways are not our ways. His mercies are new every morning!  

Choose happiness, love, and hope again today my friends. God is waiting to close that lion’s mouth just for you! None of us can do it alone, but we can do it with His help. If He will do it for me, I promise He will do it for you as well. We are all in this thing called life together.

If you see me out and about please say hello! I love hearing your stories too. He may not call you to write about your struggles, but He has called you to share them with others so that they can find hope in their struggles. God made that crystal clear in 2 Timothy 4:16-18 today. May He bless you as you set out to bless others along the way.

Lesson Learned


Yesterday, I was invited to speak at a Delta Kappa Gamma meeting. My topic was “Surviving Life’s Ups and Downs”. I was extremely honored to be the invited speaker and I worked for several days on what I would say during my speech. I knew most of the ladies who would be in attendance and I was a little nervous because a couple of them had been my high school teachers.

As I entered the room I noticed several familiar faces. The tables were set with red table cloths and there were little paper trays filled with candy on each table. The president welcomed me and invited me to take an agenda and make myself at home. I quickly scanned the agenda and noticed that right after the welcome and fellowship time there would be a discussion on “Making Choices and Why”. Each lady was asked to take a slip of paper from a basket that had a choice to be made on it. We were told that we would not all like the two choices, but that we must choose one or the other regardless of how we felt about it; then we must tell why we made that choice.

Guess what my paper said….

“Read a Book or Watch TV”!! The whole room laughed because I was there to discuss my book, and everyone knew it!

Soon it was my turn to speak. As I talked about my passion for reading and writing and how my first book came into being, I was thinking about choices in my head and the huge one I had just made earlier that day.

 I have attempted to write fictional stories numerous times over the years and each time I have tried to write one I have failed. I did not realize until after Greg died that God did not call me to write fictional stories because He wanted me to write my own true story. That’s why He allowed me to write my whole first book in 48 hours. That’s why He allows me to write blogs in less than 30 minutes. That’s why He gives me so many crazy “Ups and Downs” to survive! There is not a story or word that I have written that I didn’t feel God calling me to write.

Writing and sharing my real life with the world does not come easily for me. I have been called “a narcissistic, judgmental, gossip that doesn’t fact check”, the “furthest from real”, “most attention seeking Jesus do-gooder”, and “fake” person on the planet.

People don’t hold back when they don’t like what you stand for and I guess in a world where anything goes…that’s ok.

Not one time have I ever pretended to be or acted like I was something that I was not. I just obeyed what God called me to do. Some people appreciate it for what it is, and some don’t. I could care less either way. I just care about God’s opinion. In today’s world, that’s tough. Doing what He asks me to do it tough. But, you know what…Him sending His son to die on the cross for my sins was TOUGHER and I can never praise or thank Him enough for it. So, even when it is hard I will do what He has asked me to do.

Looking back, I believe I have been somewhat even in sharing my successes and my failures in life. I take big risks and usually jump headlong into whatever new adventure comes my way. Being so eager to live life to the fullest doesn’t always have a story tale ending. Today, I am here to tell you about a risk I took that failed. And, it is a pretty big one. The lesson and the story!

Heath and I have debated for the past few weeks about our quick decision to move back into my old house. We love it and we love the fact that we were offered the chance to move back into this huge house with all the pretty features. We do love it. We just don’t want to keep paying a house payment when we don’t have to, I mean seriously…what were WE thinking?!

We both work hard for every penny we make and that’s the way it should be. We have also gotten to the point in our lives where we realize that a house does not make a home.

People do.

So, we sat down, and we asked ourselves if paying to live in this house was worth the price we are paying by making sacrifices in so many other areas of our lives. Why are we giving up so much of what we like to do when we have another great house right next door to this one that is paid for? We decided that no it is not worth it to give up so much for just a house and a two-acre piece of land.

I have put off having my “cabin” appraised because every time I even think about it I am overcome with anxiety. It makes me want to vomit just trying to imagine that hill without me or my children on it. Right now, my kids run freely all over this place because it is their land. If someone bought that hill it would no longer be their land. I am not ok with that at all.

I have even shown the cabin to three different couples who were interested in buying it and after each couple left I had the same sickening feeling inside. There is just no way I can let someone else have my “cabin”.

After much discussion, and number crunching we have decided that we are going back up the hill where we can breathe again. We are going back to the “little” house where all six of us are stacked on top of each other, but we all have fun. We are turning this ship around while we still can, and we are doing it because it is the right thing to do. We don’t need this big fancy house to be happy. We need each other and if that means saying, “We made a mistake” then so be it.

Life is full of mistakes.

Mistakes mean you had choices.

Some choices are good, and some are not so good.

I am just so thankful to be in a place where God allows me to make choices. He allows me to be the perfectly imperfect human He created me to be. He allows me to make big mistakes. You know why? Because that’s how He teaches us to listen to Him.

I know that I can never make a mistake too big for God to handle. He loves my every flaw…and He loves your every flaw as well. All He asks is that we humble ourselves before Him when we mess up. We ask Him to forgive us for messing up, we accept Him at His word that He has forgiven us, and we stand back up again.

That’s what Heath and I are doing now. We are saying, “Hey, God we messed up… please forgive us for making this mistake. Thank you for loving us enough to show us a better way and thank you for the blessings you have continually poured out on us even through the mistake itself.” And, we realize that He does forgive us!

That’s Grace y’all…and there’s nothing else like it.

Before too long Teresa Dobbs will once again place a FOR SALE sign in our yard. Heath and I will do our best to make the house look clean and presentable when people interested in buying it come to look at it. Please notice that I said, “Heath and I”. These four kids we have may or may not do their part of that deal so well.

If you know of anyone looking for a nice, big house on the edge of town…let me know. We are currently leasing to own, so it is move-in ready as soon as the ink dries!

And, I hear the neighbors are pretty good folks who live for adventure and tend to fall flat on their faces every once in a while…but they do try to always have fun no matter what!

Charlotte’s Story


It’s a rainy, messy wintry day. I have the flu…and pneumonia! In case you were wondering…it stinks! Anyway, I decided that my mind needed a little break from reading other people’s stories, so I decided to write one of my own. Sometimes the only way to tell it is to just get on with the tellin’…so without further ado…I give you Charlotte’s story:

On January 11, 2015 I received a phone call from my mother in law. She asked me if “the girls” were home and I told her we would be soon. She said she was almost to my house and would be there waiting for us when we arrived. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the driveway and the girls jumped out of the truck to go see what Momo was up to. When the van door opened, I heard squeals of delight coming from Maggie and Linnie. Greg and I approached the door to see what the squealing was about and to our GREAT surprise we saw a tiny, white, puppy.


Yes. A puppy. No warning. No clue. No…hey do you want another puppy? Just, a puppy.

I guess I should tell you that this new puppy was number four for the girls. Momo was being sweet and thought that number four would be helpful. She was correct.

In August 2011 Greg and I went to the World’s Longest Yard sale. We had a great time and ended up coming home with a cute little Bassett Hound puppy we found along the way. He nor I had ever been “animal” people, but that puppy was so cute! Greg said it had to come home with us to live with the girls. We promptly named him Rosco and he became an instant member of our family.

It wasn’t long before we decided that Rosco needed another dog with him. We didn’t realize that Bassets were social dogs and they do not do well alone. Greg was adamant that we only have another Bassett.

So, after asking around we found one in Millport. We went to pick up this one on the way home from the farm one day. Bosco, formally known as Rosco, was a full-grown male who could be surly and mean if he felt so inclined. Thankfully, he was never mean to the girls.

At the time we lived in the trailer on top of the hill. We didn’t have a fence and the dogs pretty much just roamed wherever they wanted to go. We could always count on them being in the yard when we got home though.

One day on his way home, Greg saw a bloody heap lying in the road. He stopped and sure enough it was Bosco. Rosco was right beside him, but only Bosco had been hit. Greg ended his misery; came in the house got an old towel to wrap his mangled body in; and then lead our sad little party down to a spot under a tree beside the pond. That’s where we buried him.

Losing Bosco was also the girls’ first experience with death.

Greg and I decided that we needed to find another Bassett for Rosco. So, we called Momo and had her look for one. (She is the animal person in the family!) It wasn’t long before she called and said that some she knew was gonna have puppies. After they were born and ready to go, loaded the girls up into the minivan and set off for Hamilton with Momo in tow. We met the lady at Bevill State and put our claim on the runt of the litter. Her name was Rosie and she was adorable.

Rosco and Rosie were two happy peas in a pod for a couple of years. They played well together and seemed to love each other until the day we came home, and Rosie was alone. We looked and looked for Rosco, but he never appeared. The girls were so sad. It didn’t make sense why Rosie was home, but not Rosco.

I was on the way to the farm the day I found him. He was sitting on the side of the road just outside of Belk and I noticed him immediately. I pulled the car over and jumped out. When I called his name, Rosco ran over and jumped up on my leg. I think he was glad to see me! So, I loaded him up and took him home.

Rosco was home for about four months. Then, he disappeared again. He still hasn’t come home. Rosie was alone, and she did not do well alone! That dog was the most pitiful thing you have ever seen! She would whine and cry and crawl around begging you to pet her. She hated not having her partner to play with and would just sit and watch the girls play in the yard instead of joining them like she had always done. That’s when Momo decided that the girls (Rosie included!) needed another dog.

The day Charlotte came to live with us I declared for all the world to understand that IF anything were to happen to either one of those dogs we would NOT be getting another one. I was over the love ‘em and lose ‘em part of being a pet owner. Especially when I knew that there was an illegal dog ring being run in our area. Several people I knew had full-blooded dogs that had gone “missing” in recent months and the word on the street was that they were being taken to Mississippi and resold in an underground pet shop. (Insert my intense anger here.)

Anyway, now that Charlotte had joined our family we enjoyed playing with her and Rosie every day. They were nearly identical to one another (even though they came from completely different lines) and it was funny to watch them run around together. As much as they looked alike, they acted totally different. I have laughed many times over how human their attitudes were. Rosie was a pleaser and all she wanted was to be praised. Charlotte is a bit high and mighty. She would always spit out her medicines or eat the ham and leave the Heartgurard laying on the ground. She would literally gag if you tried to force her to eat anything. Greg and I laughed many times because Rosie was just like Maggie and Charlotte was just like Linnie.

It was the end of May or the first of June (I can’t really remember exactly) of 2015 when both Charlotte and Rosie went missing. We came home one afternoon, and they were gone. They didn’t come home that night or any of the next nights either. At the time, my grandmother was very sick. My great-aunt had moved in with her and she was also not doing well. It was the end of the school year and my whole family was doing what we could to try to help with Me-Maw and Aunt Martha. During that time Greg also started having more problems with his heart. With so much going on, the loss of our dogs was kind of put on the bottom of the list. I didn’t have time to focus on where they might be, and I was more than a little pissed to even have to be thinking about it to begin with, ya’ know?

About two weeks after the dogs “went missing” we lost Aunt Martha. Three weeks later we lost Me-Maw. Two months later we lost Greg.

A week after Greg died, I gave his turkeys and chickens away. There are really no words adequate enough to describe the level of grief we all reached. I guess I should admit that I was a little bit relieved to not have to take care of any animals; I did good to keep both of my children alive.

One day I was reading in my bible and I came across Jeremiah 33:10-12. It said:

 “This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying,

“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
for the Lord is good;
his love endures forever.”

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.

12 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.”

That’s when I claimed those verses as my own. I decided that one day, God would restore my land. He would bring a man and animals back into my life. And, I believed it with my whole heart.

Fast forward to November 6, 2017.

Amazingly, I am now re-married…living in the house that Greg and I built…and I have two step-children. It was our weekend to have “the kids” and three of the four were not feeling well.  On Monday morning, I had to take Abigail to school while the other three stayed home.

We were driving up the county road we live on headed towards school that morning when I saw her lying on the side of the road. I looked at her and thought, “Nah, there’s no way”.  As I got closer I looked over at Abigail and said, “Abi, that’s our dog!”.


If you know Abi, you already know she is not real perceptive. Like, most things just go right over her head. So, she was really, really confused by me saying that was our dog considering the fact that she didn’t even know we had a dog!

I pulled the car over to the side of the road and jumped out. I immediately recognized Charlotte. It is weird to me how I knew her as soon as I saw her. Dogs must be like kids. When you get them as a puppy, you don’t forget who they are! I leaned down and called Charlotte’s name and she perked her head up, sat up, then ran to me and jumped up on my leg! I rubbed her head and talked to her all the while in complete shock! This dog had been gone for two years and four months!! Honestly, it was like seeing a ghost!

It didn’t take me long to get her loaded up in my car. Abi was still in total disbelief and she asked again, “Whose dog is this? She STINKS!”

I laughed and said it was Maggie and Linnie’s dog…and now it was her dog too! Abi is kinda like me…she’s not really an animal person, but she put on a good front. Except for the stinking part. It was drizzling rain, but we rode the rest of the way to school (and back home) with the windows down! Of course, Charlotte throwing up on the ride home had a little something to do with the windows being down, but whatever. LOL

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to show the girls. I knew they would be just as shocked as I was…and I was correct! They were so excited, and Sam didn’t quite know what to think. I did manage to remember to call Heath and tell him that “our dog was home” to which he replied, “We don’t have a dog”. I assured him, that yes…yes sir we sure did have a dog and she was home!


After I posted the video of the kids seeing Charlotte on Facebook it wasn’t long before my inbox starting dinging. A friend of mine named Emily (coincidence?) saw the video and said that Charlotte looked just like her dog “Maggie” (um, do you see where this is going?!).

After several minutes of texting back and forth and comparing pictures it became clear that Charlotte was Maggie…and Maggie was Charlotte. And both Emily’s were stunned!

In the meantime, another friend was texting me from the animal shelter. Apparently, Charlotte had been at the shelter off and on a couple of times. She had even been adopted by another family before my friend, Emily realized that she was at the shelter. When I asked where she had originally gotten “Maggie” she told me she had gotten her from someone in Berry the day of Johnny Nichols’ funeral.


Why is that significant? Well, Johnny Nichols is the man who bought the store from us when we sold it. He was the fire chief at Lawrence Mill Fire Department and was one of Greg’s best friends. He had died suddenly from a heart attack (just like Greg) two days prior. The fact that Emily found this dog on the day of his funeral is just plain out weird.

It is also weird that Emily lived close to the store the whole time that we had owned it. (Like, when we got all four of our dogs!) Emily and her little family lived less than a mile from the store. Emily’s family had only recently moved to the county road where we now live on the opposite end! She had known Greg and Johnny most…if not all her life! She had also known the girls their whole life! We literally passed her old home place every time we went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights! So, I knew that she didn’t have “Maggie” while she lived at that other house. Considering we passed that house a lot over the course of two years it stands to reason that we would have seen “Maggie” at least once if she had been there. Knowing that Emily didn’t take our dog was a no-brainer.

It just seemed really weird that some of the pieces that fell together…fell together! Charlotte has had quite the journey!

From what I have been able to piece together she and Rosie were kidnapped on the same day. I don’t know who took them or where the next stop was for them, and I still do not know what happened to our sweet little Rosie. Emily found “Maggie” in Berry. We have no idea where she had been or who she had been with before that (the story that Emily got didn’t add up when we figured out that Maggie was Charlotte).

I do know that Charlotte spent a good deal of time in and out of the pound. She was picked up numerous times by my friend, Phil before she was adopted by a family who paid to have her “fixed”. When I was questioned about having her fixed before she went missing, I couldn’t remember. Then, I remembered that we had planned to have her “fixed” but she was not old enough to do so before she was taken. Thankfully, the animal shelter requires that animals be “fixed” before they are adopted. I asked Phil if I needed to pay for the vet bill, especially since someone else had already paid for it and they didn’t have “their” dog anymore. Phil assured me that everyone had been reimbursed and that I didn’t owe anyone anything. He was really glad that now Charlotte was HOME.

That night I just had to laugh at how amazingly CRAZY this whole story was! I don’t know how, why, or if there is even a reason that so many of the details are so intertwined. What I do know is that Charlotte is without a doubt, home. I am a huge skeptic about a lot of things…but when you see an animal recognize its home after not being there in two years and four months…you don’t easily let it pass from your memory!

Heath’s first text after seeing Charlotte’s homecoming video on Facebook was: “Out of the House”. That night he and the kids built a dog house for her out of the molding I had torn down in our kitchen. The molding Greg had put up in that same kitchen eleven years before when I was pregnant with Maggie. I sit here today (in my chair!) and just laugh. I mean really, does this blow anyone else’s mind as much as it does mine?

Oh, one more thing. Charlotte spent two months moping around because she is a Basset Hound…and Basset Hounds are social animals who hate being alone right? Right. So, now we have Gypsy who is not a Basset Hound and who…as far as I am concerned…is the caboose for this crazy train!


Now you know the whole story or at least as much as I can remember in my current dazed and confused condition!

The Widow’s Road


A few years ago, I decided to study good leaders. I was interested in what made a person someone whom others looked up to and aspired to be like. I was fortunate to be surrounded by amazing leaders at that time and they poured into the people around them daily (and still do!). Anyway, I read a lot of books about leadership. I started my study with Nehemiah and just kept going. I discovered a lot about myself during those days of reading and listening to people who gave selflessly of themselves in order to help other people live better lives. I found a new sense of awareness within myself of being the kind of leader that others wanted to follow.  I didn’t know that God was preparing me for being a leader alright…just not in the business world like I had originally thought.

In a lot of ways September 24th is lot harder than September 20th for me. Flipping through my memories this morning I was humbled and surprised yet again by the outpouring of love the girls and I received on the day of Greg’s funeral. Not only did our community reach out to us, they honored Greg’s life in a way that was awe inspiring. I will never forget how humbling it was to ride behind that firetruck as it carried his casket to the cemetery. The respect that was shown to him was a testament to the caliber of man he was at the end of his life.

I have had so many people approach me and tell me stories of how Greg’s example …in one situation or another was helpful for them as they faced different events in their own lives. Greg never thought of himself as a leader. He thought of himself as a worker. That is what he took the most pride in…working hard and having respect for everyone no matter what their station happened to be in life.

I watched a video this week of Mr. Rogers from ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’ and he was talking about his mother. Mrs. Rogers said, “in any tough situation if you wanted to see the difference makers you should look for the helpers. The ones who show up and just do things without expecting anything in return. They just do what needs to be done and don’t question ‘if’ or ‘when’ they should do it…they just show up and get to work”.

Greg was a helper.

Living with a helper for almost seventeen years made an impact on me. I also grew up in a family of helpers and for that I could not be prouder. Hard work and digging in to help others is just a way of life. My parents do that, my grand-parents did that, and I am trying my hardest to raise my girls to do it as well.  I expect them to step in and notice when someone needs help…and I expect them to just do whatever needs to be done with no reward other than that feeling deep inside that they know they did the right thing. It just occurred to me this morning that teaching them to be helpers will also teach them to be leaders.

I woke up this morning and as usual I flipped on Facebook and scrolled through my memories. I love seeing my life in review sometimes. Don’t you?  I can’t always enjoy the memories, but most days I can. Anyway, I didn’t immediately realize that this was the day of Greg’s funeral until I saw my memories. Then it all came flooding back. I remembered exactly how it felt that day at the funeral home. I let myself think about all those feelings and emotions for about two seconds before a text popped up.

It was Miranda.

God works all things together for His good. All things. I know this to be true deep inside my soul. I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know it because I have lived it. Tonight, we had a fish fry at the church. If felt good to eat, talk, and laugh on this day instead of being overcome with sadness like we were two years ago. Just that fact by itself is a miracle. But, this story is about another miracle…the one Miranda and I share.

See, Miranda and me…we are sisters. Just like me and the Pam’s, the Cindy’s, the Janet’s, Michelle, Linda, Tasha, Mary Frances, Samantha, Tammy, Stacy, Brenda, Renee, Lisa, Teresa, Tippa, Melanie, Lenora, Sheila, Brandi, Rosalie, Peggy, Tandi, Marie, Kathy, Rebekah, Sue, Lorraine, Sheila, Paula, Debrah, Emily, Dotty, Patsy, Carla, Kristina, Becky, Patricia, Sue, Rhonda, Lori, Tina, and many, many others. We have all walked a journey together that is eerily similar, yet different.

However, Miranda and I are especially close. Our circumstances are unbelievably similar. We have argued about who had it worse…me because there was no time for goodbyes…or her because there was. We have talked, cried, laughed, prayed, and threatened to run away together a lot over the past two years. To say I am thankful for her would be putting it lightly.  She gets it in a way no one else close to me can most of the time. We communicate without words a lot…one look as we pass in the mornings says all we need it to say. The relationship we share is precious and I am so very thankful for it and her.

Miranda lost the love of her life to cancer on Labor Day weekend 2016. Eleven months after I lost Greg. Michael was a policeman and together he and Miranda have two beautiful daughters. Their family lives in the next town and just like Greg and I…everybody knows them. They are helpers too. Michael’s legacy is jam packed with the same kind of stories as Greg’s. They influenced lives everywhere they went and even in places they didn’t go. If you mention Michael’s name the first thing anyone says is, “He was a great guy”. Miranda and Michael were together almost as long as Greg and I were. They faced a lot of the same battles that we faced…and they had sendoffs to heaven that made lasting impacts on every person who witnessed them in person.

Michael’s visitation was the first one I allowed myself to go to after Greg’s. I feared going back to a funeral home or church visitation (still do). I hated facing the memories that flooded my mind at the very thought of walking into a crowd of people, much less a funeral home. But, I never hesitated to go to Miranda that night. I knew better than anyone else close to her how hard it was gonna be. I knew that she needed lots of water; time to sit down and take a break; and hugs of encouragement to know she did have the strength to keep greeting the people as they filed through to pay their respects.

My presence that night was to be a helper and it almost killed me to do it. It wasn’t until I got home that I fell apart. I cried and sobbed…I shook and got nauseous…I asked God why He would make me go through that again less than a year after I went through it myself. I didn’t understand what His plan was and I didn’t like it one little bit.

This past Wednesday, exactly two years to the day, one of Greg’s greatest friends had a heart attack and died. When I heard the news, I got sick to my stomach and began to shake all over. I could not get my kids delivered to our friends fast enough…I had to go to my friend’s home and hug her. All I could focus on was getting to her and hugging her close. No other thought could enter my mind. I had to send a message of apology to another sweet friend who hugged my neck as I dropped the girls off because I had no clue if I had even spoken to her. I just needed to get to my friend’s house…fast.

When I walked in the door, Heath was behind me. Bless him…he truly is an amazing man. God blessed me big time with him.

Anyway, as I walked in I scanned the room and saw familiar faces everywhere I looked. They all knew me. They all knew Greg. They all knew how intricately wound my family and this family were. I walked over to my friend and I hugged her with all the strength I had and I told her that she was not alone.

And, I meant it.

I looked up and met the eyes of her sister who has also walked this widow road. I prayed right then that God would use us to make her journey easier somehow. It wasn’t until I got home that I fell apart. The shaking, nausea, tears, and overwhelming sadness took over again. I knew what she was in for and I dearly wanted to take the pain away from her somehow, but in my heart, I knew there was nothing I could do except pray and just be there. So, that’s what I did.

The next morning, I woke up to find a message from a woman who was sitting in that room the night before. She was there and she knew how hard it was for me to put my pain aside on that specific day in order to help my friend. She thanked me for doing what I did and I immediately felt ashamed. In no way did I consider my presence that night as star in my own crown. I could only focus on the fact that my friend needed me and it didn’t matter what day it was for me…she needed to be loved on and hugged on because she was facing her own nightmare. Yes, it cost me dearly emotionally…but it blessed my heart to know that my friend was surrounded by people who understood where she was and that she was not alone. The fact that the other sweet lady noticed was mind blowing to me.

I have struggled with that situation all week. I have questioned God and why He asks me to do these hard things that have a huge emotional cost repeatedly. I have prayed that He would let others see Jesus in me for years. I have struggled with my temper, my attitude, my smart mouth, and my impatience with people in general. I have failed so many times it is pathetic and I didn’t see why God continued to ask me to essentially hurt myself emotionally over and over again in order to please Him.

It didn’t make sense…until Miranda texted me this morning:

            “I just want to say thank you. I knew (or I thought I knew) that it had to be hard                    for you to come to Michael’s visitation, but you were there. You were the example              that I am trying to be today….and I am struggling. I will take deep breaths and I                  will do exactly what you did for me. I will be there for his wife. Please pray for me              and his family. They are in the same boat as us”.

That’s when it hit me! God uses ALL things for HIS good! Every single emotional dollar I have paid was so that Miranda could be what she needed to be for this sweet woman and her two girls today. Every single emotional dollar Miranda is paying will be so that other women can find the strength they need to do for someone else what was done for them. This cycle did not begin with us…it began long before us on an old rugged cross upon a hill.

Jesus paid it all…so that we could all be saved. God worked ALL things together for HIS good on that cross…and He has not stopped using what was meant to destroy Him to make Us stronger. God is Good.

After I realized this, I was flipping through my pictures and this is what I saw:

leader quote

The story is starting to come together. God is asking the widows to be leaders for Him! By humbly being helpers, we are becoming leaders. I didn’t sign up for this…neither did Miranda…or any of the millions of other women who walk the widow road. Yet, God is still using our stories and experiences to help other people see that this is not our home. We are all passing through, but we have a choice in where our eternal home will be. Which way are you headed? Do you know? If not, please talk to someone today…now…. don’t wait! Jesus is coming back soon and we must all be ready.

One last note, please…please remember the widows when you pray. Once a widow becomes a member of this club she never gets out. No new relationship; no new life; no amount of time changes the fact that the rug was ripped out from under that woman and life as she knew it ended the day her spouse died. This is not a race that is ever finished…it costs us dearly to become lifetime members…and it takes a lot of prayer to ease the pain. Knowing we are never alone is a blessing none of ever realized we couldn’t live without. So, the next time you feel God asking you to do something that is hard…DO IT! The blessings you get in return are indescribable and can only be gotten through obedience to Him.