Tag Archives: widow

A Good Night’s Sleep is Worth the Weight


For the past few years I have struggled with being able to sleep. The struggle has been so real that I ended up in the hospital this past spring due to sleep deprivation. Night after night I would try my best to prepare myself for bedtime using the same routines I had always used, yet nothing worked.

I mean, nothing!

I have tried every over the counter medication, home remedy, essential oil, and even prescription medication on the market with zero results. I’ve gone so far as to do a complete Bible study on sleep and found out that even kings and queens struggled to sleep. The one person who didn’t struggle with sleep that I know of is Jesus. I want his kind of faith! Sleeping through a storm at sea is way outta my ability level at this point.  

Night after night I would lie awake thinking of crazy things like: “Did I pick up that paperclip that fell beside my desk today? I don’t want one of the kids to choke on it. Should I run back up there and just make sure I did pick it up?”

Or, something more mundane like: “Why are all those barrels still on the road at the Bevill Red light? Are they ever going to finish paving that road? Whose idea was it to put five hundred fifty barrels out there for people to play ping pong with anyway? Probably wasn’t someone raised on a farm. If they had been raised on a farm, they would have known how to fix that disaster way before now. Daddy Jack would have a fit if he had to see this mess.”

 I’m sure no one else thinks stuff like that, but whatever.

Without fail sometime between 1:18 a.m. and 2:07 a.m. every night my eyes pop open and my brain turns on again. Usually I lay there for thirty minutes or so trying to will myself back to sleep with no luck. Sometimes I grab a book (if Heath is away on business. The light bothers him, so I can’t turn it on if he’s trying to sleep.) Other times, I grab my phone and check my Facebook to see who else is awake. If my sweet Witter Lou is awake, I’ll text with her for a while. If she’s not awake I scroll through my news feed; click over into my Kindle or Audible app; put in my headphones; and pray that sleep will come my way again before I must get up in 3 hours 16 minutes and 42 seconds.

It is exhausting!

Heath suggested that we get a new mattress because his back was hurting with our old one, and I agreed. We looked and looked, researched and researched, and talked to a bunch of people about what kind of mattress to buy. Everyone had their opinions and wonderful stories of how this one or that one helped them “so much”. After much deliberation I made the executive decision to try a DreamCloud mattress one night while I was awake, and Heath was sawing logs.

Best. Decision. Ever.

With a 365-day trial, 18 months free financing, and free delivery I was sold. I mean how could I go wrong with this one, right? We love it! It absolutely is the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever had! So, since I was comfortable now you would think I would sleep good right?


It must be my pillow! I mean using a cheap pillow from The Wally World is exactly what I’ve done my entire adult life. Since I was now “sleeping” on a fancy new mattress (that truly does feel amazing!) I should have a “good pillow” to go with it. A new pillow would be just the ticket.

So, as I am lying wide awake a few nights later I find the My Pillow site and decide to give it a try. I ordered up a couple and waited for them to be delivered. When they arrived, we threw those babies in the dryer for 15 minutes and tried them out. At 4:11 a.m. I thought to myself that I sure was comfy in my new bed with my new pillow…but I sure would love to actually be sleeping instead of being wide awake…again.

Fast forward to last week. I was lying there thinking as I usually do during the night and I had an epiphany! Dr. Temple Grandin (world renowned author, inventor, and leading expert on Autism) invented a squeeze machine to help herself calm down when she was stressed or upset as a young adult. I’ve used weighted blankets and weighted vests in my classroom for years thanks to her expertise in this matter.

Lying there wide awake, I wondered if a weighted blanket would help me sleep.

I put an all-call out to my Facebook friends and family to see if someone might have one, they didn’t use or perhaps wanted to get rid of before I jumped off the cliff (again!) and ordered one online. The recommendation is to get one that is a tenth of your body weight. I figured I would go a little heavier just to make sure it was soothing enough.

Can you believe my sister had a 15 lb. one in her camper and two of my Facebook friends had one they were willing to part with?! My sister lent me hers to try as soon as she saw my post. One friend was in California for the week so it would be the weekend before I could get a 15 lb. one from her. The other friend had ordered a 20 lb. one online and decided after using it a few nights that she just couldn’t sleep with it. So, I bought it from her at a huge discounted price.

I was so excited to try one of them that night! As I was carrying them into the camper, I was thinking…wow! These babies are H.E.A.V.Y.!!

Heath made sure that I kept the 20 lb OFF his side of the bed when I brought it in to our bedroom. Since we were camping, we were not able to sleep in our comfy bed like we have at home. The camper mattress is OK but can’t hold a candle to the DreamCloud so honestly, I didn’t figure the weighted blanket would make much of a difference.

Boy, was I wrong!

I went to sleep that night at 12:18 a.m. and did not wake up until 9:31 a.m. the next morning! I remember waking up and thinking…where am I? LOL

I can not tell you the last time I slept that long without waking up! Naturally, I thought it was a fluke. I mean a blanket could not possibly help someone with my kind of extreme insomnia that much in one night could it?

It was time to put it to the test. I have officially been using it for one week and I can tell you I have slept more soundly this week than any time that I can remember in my adult life! I sleep with my watch on because it measures sleep in addition to other stuff. This week while using the weighted blanket I have gone from an average awake time of 1:47 minutes per night to 22 minutes per night! That is CRAZY!!

I wake up each morning just before my alarm goes off and realize that I didn’t wake up one time during the night that I can remember. (We all cycle through different sleep patterns at night and wake up during our sleep, but usually don’t remember it.) I am so excited! I wish I had thought about this long before now. Oh, the hours I wasted being awake when I could have been sleeping!

If you struggle with insomnia, I encourage you to get a weighted blanket STAT! I gave the second, lighter one to Linnie when my friend got home from her trip and she has slept just as hard as me. That child has had sleep struggles her entire life, and for her to be sleeping soundly through the night like I am is nothing short of a miracle.

I’ve heard many people say they are afraid of them because they get hot at night. I have found that I can’t sleep with anything other than the blanket or I get too hot as well. I have seen where they make cooling weighted blankets, so that may be the best option for those who get hot.

One thing I know for a fact: A Good Night’s Sleep is Worth the Weight!!

Night, Night Y’all

Twenty Years, Really?


Dear Twenty-Year-Old Me,

Get ready, this ride you are about to take is gonna be a wild one! The walk you are preparing yourself for today is leading you into a life you can’t even imagine. You will experience highs and lows that will take your breath away. Your challenges will be nothing compared to your victories.

Today, you will marry a great man. He doesn’t know it yet though. He exudes confidence, but on the inside he is anything but confident. He is physically strong and in the best shape of his life; yet that won’t be enough in the end. The man you are walking towards has deep scars, fears, hurts, and a past he can’t outrun. Love him with all you have and don’t ever give up on him.

You don’t realize it today, but you will be the one he wants to be like when he’s at his worst. Your faith will be what he sees when he is desperate for a way out of the past. Stay strong and don’t lose hope. He is a good, good man. God has really big plans for him and you will be blessed to stand by his side.

When you say your vows, you really mean them. When you promise to love him “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and to death do you part” you will. Taking out “obey” was a good move. You are just as (if not more!) hardheaded than he is and you will talk back more times than you can count.

Don’t waste your time being anxious, angry, upset, or fearful. Your prayers have already been answered. You can’t imagine how God has prepared you for this adventure you are about to start, but you are going to absolutely love this ride! Be ready…its full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Oh! But it will fill you will joy and wonder and happiness.

When you have your first fight on your honeymoon…don’t leave the room. The fear you will strike in his heart and the danger you will put yourself in isn’t worth it. When he panics on the way home from the airport and realizes that you are going home with him forever, isn’t a regret about you. Don’t take it personally. That moment is the one where it hits him that life isn’t just about him anymore. That’s a good thing.

You have a whole lotta life ahead of you. Today is just the beginning. Get used to those butterflies in your stomach, they aren’t going anywhere. The smile that is plastered on your face is because of the love that is inside your heart. It’s not going anywhere either. Twenty years from now you will remember every detail of this day.

Slow down and enjoy it!

Savor it.

Cherish it.

You will keep the promises you make today and so will he. You will get the love story that others only dream about, don’t take that lightly. God knows what He’s doing and He brought you two together for a reason. So, straighten that veil, tighten that grip on your Mama’s Bible in your hands, and smile as you walk towards your next chapter. Its gonna be a good one!

Happy 20th Anniversary Em from,

Your Forty-Year-Old Self

The Lion in a Well-Aged Southern Woman’s Body


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Isaiah 41:10

What is strength? How would you define a strong person? Most of us immediately think of physical strength, right? Pictures of men lifting weights in the gym. Women running marathons in the blazing heat. Football players suited up on Saturdays. You can picture all those different people in your head with ease, right?

Being an athlete most of my life made me physically strong. At least, I thought I was well acquainted with what it took to be strong. Little did I know that being physically strong would do very little to help me when I was tossed in the ring with grief.

This opponent that I suddenly found myself facing was massive. It was hard to breathe. It was hard to think. It was nearly impossible to move. I found out really quick like that this game was going to make me or break me.

One day during the height of this battle I was introduced to a sweet, Southern lady named Ann. “Mrs. Ann”, as I now fondly call her, was a widow too. Like me, she lost her beloved husband unexpectedly. I sat on her couch one day and listened to her tell me how she had dared anyone to touch or move Andy’s toothbrush from the bathroom counter for over two years. She just could not bring herself to move it, but she knew she would eventually. On her own time, and she was not going to let anyone make that decision for her.

I remember thinking how much I envied her strength in that moment. Mrs. Ann made such an impact on me that I wrote a blog about it later that night. You can read it here.

Mrs. Ann was determined to hang on to that one thing that she could control from the life she had before coming home to find her husband caught under the lawnmower in their garage. He had been changing the blades and the mower had fallen on top of him. She was too late to save him.

I was sitting on the pretty floral couch not twenty feet away from the sight where Mrs. Ann’s worst nightmare had come true. I remember looking at her beautiful face and hearing the steel in her voice. That moment gave me hope that I could make it too. As lost as I was in my own battle; hope was what I needed more than anything. I remember thinking how strong she was and I highly doubted that I would ever be as strong as her.

Fast forward three and a half years to today. I passed by Mrs. Ann’s house and I saw her mowing her yard! She sat proudly on top of that lawnmower as she moved across the grass. I was taken aback again as I watched her. This woman has more strength in her pinkie finger than I do in my whole entire body! Not only has she moved the toothbrush from the counter; she has also moved the lawnmower back out to the yard where it belongs.  

We live in the South where the grass grows nine months out of the year. It would have been so easy for Mrs. Ann to pack up her things and leave her house and yard for someone else to take care of every week. She could have called a lawn service and paid someone to come and mow for her while she left home for an hour or two so as not to hear it. She could had done so many things that would have been so much easier than what I was witnessing today.

Strength comes when we decide to do the hard stuff anyway. It comes from staring down giants and pushing forward when that is the last thing we want to be doing. It takes courage to face our biggest fears. I can’t imagine how hard climbing on that lawnmower must have been for her the first time she did it after pulling her husband’s body from beneath it. I can’t imagine how she chose to keep getting back on it week after week either. She is a lion in a well-aged Southern woman’s body.

The smile I saw on her face as she rode atop that loud machine today sent arrows straight through my heart. That’s strength. That’s being a strong woman. That’s facing down your giant and saying, “I’m the queen of this castle and there’s no room for you here!”

When I got home, I went back to that blog I wrote the first time we met. I was reminded again where Mrs. Ann’s strength comes from. It comes from the Lord. Faith like hers is unshakable! I remembered her telling me that she found out who SHE was supposed to be after her dear Andy died. I didn’t understand what she meant at the time. Today, I understand.

Let this bring you hope. Don’t run from the things that seem impossible. Face them down. Get back up when you get knocked down. Stay in the fight. That’s how you win. Mrs. Ann is winning. Strength like that is impossible to turn away from and never easily forgotten, but it must be built over time.

It’s been nearly six years since Mrs. Ann found Andy under that lawnmower. She has chosen to fill her life with fun, adventure, travel, grandchildren, and new people. I’m reasonably sure she’s happy. The smile I witnessed on her face as she sat on that lawnmower today proved she must be happy. I want to be just like her!

Stay strong my sisters! None of us fight alone, regardless of the battle. We always have a Father in Heaven helping us through every new opponent we have to face. He will not leave us alone in the battle. He stays and He sends people to help us! Our job is to realize that we have each other to lean on…learn from…and love.

Here’s a little Southern music video to remind you to keep Holdin’ On!

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.