Where do you go when life as you know it is turned completely upside down? It happened to me. The life I knew and loved vanished on August 7, 2013 when my college sweetheart and husband of 33 years chose to end his life. There are not words to describe my shock and devastation. Though I was surrounded with wonderful, loving people, none of them could restore the half of me that died that day. This was a God-sized task! This is my journey through shock, grief, mourning and healing. It is the very personal and profound journey I took to ultimately discover that no matter how deep your pain…God is always there and He is enough. If you are grieving, God Is Enough will give you hope. I understand what you are going through, and I am here to share my message of hope, healing and faith.
God is the creator and sustainer of all things. He is NEVER wrong about anything. He doesn't make mistakes. I concluded that a loving God chose not to stop the suicide. I don't know why. What I do know is that God knows everything, including the day each of us will die. Who else knows that!!!???
Prior to the pandemic I did a lot of traveling for work. I enjoyed traveling. The traveling soon came to a sudden stop! I traded my wheels for a laptop that I used daily to get the information needed for work. Although the laptop made the information easily accessible from my home, I became lonely. The fact that I stuck close to home did not make things any easier. Several out of town friends would come stay for awhile. Boy, was that wonderful and quickly dissolved the loneliness. When these friends came during December, they left Christmas gifts by the hearth with instructions not to open until Christmas Day!!! One of the gifts was a jigsaw puzzle. This puzzle saved my sanity! Time went by so fast that often I would look at the clock and it would be midnight!
It has been seven years since my husband's death. The journey has been long, sad and lonely. At this point, the pain is not as deep and the loneliness is tolerable. The greatest part is that he now resides in Heaven! I am jealous! I can only imagine what Heaven is like. Upon my death, I will have my husband as a tour guide. He can show me all kinds of things heavenly. That is more than my brain can handle! Every day I live, I am getting closer to going to Heaven. That certainly changes my perspective daily!!!
Excerpt from Beth Moore's Chasing Vines. "Yes, Christ can bring fruit from His followers' incalculable suffering. But on this side of eternity, the point isn't making it worth it. Jesus is worth it. He's worth trusting, He's worth anticipating. He's worth getting out of bed for when you wish you could go to sleep and never wake up. You may have to believe by faith until faith becomes sight." I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 40 plus years. I have found that suffering increases my trust in Jesus. I know He is in control and knows exactly what He is doing. He knows what He is doing ....but I don't ...so I am often fearful during the process. However, the process is the most important part.
Lately I have been miserable and depressed. The more I felt sorry for myself...the worse I got. I was emotionally and spiritually spiraling downward. Then I read Elisabeth Elliot's The Path Of Loneliness. God used this quote, "The heart which has no agenda but God's is the heart at leisure from itself. Its emptiness is filled with the Love of God. Its solitude can be turned into prayer." Father, thank you for showing me these pertinent words. This is what has been wrong with me. In previous weeks I have been focused on God and looked for His activity...not so this week. Even in the midst of my funk God intimately revealed His activity in my life.
Psalm 56:8 says, "You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." This Bible verse reveals the intimacy of God toward those who have lost people they loved. It is an amazing picture in my mind of God collecting all my tears in a bottle. Just think, following my husband's death whenever I cried, God would pick up a bottle and collect my tears over and over again. It shows how loving God is to collect each person's tears in a bottle, and not only that, but He records each one in a book as well. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." How can you NOT love a God who cares so for us?
I asked God, "To never let me forget what this journey is like." Because as time moves on, I did not want to become insensitive to those who have lost a spouse. God answered my prayer. August 7th will be seven years that Bob has been gone. The pain is not as severe and I have adjusted to living alone, but the loss is still palpable. I pray every Thursday for widows and widowers. If you would like prayers for yourself or someone else, I would be honored to pray. You will find my email address on page 73, email@example.com. Please feel free to write me.
I have worked for my boss Bobby for 20 years. He is a great boss. He cares about the employees and it is evident in his decision making. When Bob died, Bobby approved for me to take three weeks off from work. Then he said, "M.E. you have never been through this before. If you are having a really bad day, I want you to call me and let me know, so you can take a day off." I ask you ... who ever thinks like that? It was a great sense of relief for me since I had some really "bad" days. Yesterday I attended his retirement party. It was bittersweet for me however, I am thrilled for him. He plans to play lots of golf! Thank you Bobby for your tender heart.
Mom and I both LOVE to travel. Each summer we would go to Cherry Grove, South Carolina. We would stay in an ocean front condo for three or four days. It was a wonderful get away! Over the years we developed a routine. We walked on the pier as well as the beach. We would sight see from our condo porch. We would shop at Belk Department Store, choose a movie in the theatre to see, and eat supper at Hoskins restaurant in North Myrtle Beach. No matter how many nights we stayed, we would eat dinner every night at Hoskins! The seafood is so good and well worth waiting in the long line. This year will be very different. Mom now resides in an assisted living home. All residents there have been quarantined since March. No one is allowed to visit. It has been difficult for both of us. I am hopeful that we will make a trip to the beach in 2020.
My Dad died August 28, 2011. Mom stated that she did not want to be home during the Christmas holiday. She expressed that it was too painful. So she and I would go either to the beach or the mountains each Christmas. When Bob died two years later, I could relate to Mom's feelings about Christmas. We continued the new tradition we started with Dad's death. Mom has been my cheerleader throughout the book writing and publishing process. I asked Mom to read the manuscript of God is enough and give me her comments. She said, "It was wonderful. Really wonderful. I like the Do's and Don'ts to comfort people." I asked her if she had a favorite part of the book. She responded, "All of it" and then added, "The way you remind people of God and how you look for Him every day!"
In the book excerpt, the far right column of the vegetable chart reads PEPPERS. To be specific they are cayenne peppers. If you scroll to the bottom of the chart you will see the total of cayenne peppers is 1665. What do you do with 1665 cayenne peppers? I am so glad you asked. Bob would make his famous hot pepper dip whenever we were invited over to eat or if Bob just wanted to make some and give it away. He would love to surprise people by delivering the dip. He was definitely popular during the summer making his dip! For those of you who love cayenne peppers, I suspect you would like to know how to make this famous dip! PLEASE READ ON: Bob's Famous Hot Pepper Dip: 2 - packages of Hidden Valley Powdered Ranch Dressing; 2 - 16 oz. containers of sour cream; 12 - cayenne peppers; 1 bag Tostidos Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips; Dice the cayenne peppers and place them in a mixing bowl, including the seeds. Spoon in two containers of sour cream. Add two packages of powdered Ranch dressing. Mix well. Serve with tortilla chips. ENJOY!!!
My friend TJ wrote, "Their shared passion for things that seemed common to other people was evidence of their partnership. Take gardening, for example; who else updates a growth chart daily for the quantity of squash and cucumbers grown in a season?" Speaking of gardening, Bob loved planting a summer vegetable garden. It was a lot of work. Bob would use the tiller to plow up the land. Bob was a perfectionist and that characteristic applied even to gardening! We would each take a hoe and facing each other pull the dirt up to form rows. Bob wanted the rows perfectly straight and if they weren't we would have to start over. I came up with a plan that I thought might work. I took two wooden stakes and wrapped string around each of them. I would hammer one stake at the beginning of the row and the other one at the end of the row. Thus the string provided between the two stakes helped to be our guide! Bob loved gardening so much that every year he kept a chart of the number of vegetables we grew. I miss gardening and his great sense of humor evident in the paragraph above the vegetable chart.
The nature of adversity does not determine its spiritual value in our lives. It is our reaction to adversity that determines its value. If God allows the adversity to happen God must have a purpose for it. God can either remove the adversity or walk with us through it. The latter is what happened when Bob took his life. My friend TJ wrote,"During that time God surrounded M.E. with people, His Word, and His Presence. M.E spent significant amounts of time seeking God, meaning, healing, and purpose. Her pain has been transformed into scars that God is using to comfort and shape women. She has begun a new growing season." You will notice in the book excerpt a chart of our vegetables. On the next book bubble I will go into more detail about Bob's gardening.
On another evening while sitting on the screened porch, my husband Bob in his own way was trying to prepare me for what was to come. He started by saying, "Wednesday will be a sad day" (August 7, 2013), I asked, "Why?" He continued, "The Kairos program will begin that day and I will not be there to participate." Bob LOVED Kairos. It was a week long program where volunteers come to prison to share the love of Jesus. Bob would be blown away by the fact that these volunteers would use their vacation time to come and participate in this program. It was important to them and also to my Bob. Sure enough. Bob ended his life on August 7, 2013.
Over a two and one half month period Bob and I had several difficult conversations. One of them was initiated by my husband while we were relaxing on our screened porch. He began, "Have you ever been really depressed and thought about suicide?" I responded, "Yes" and described the situation that had brought about my depression. My plan was to drive my car into a lake on my way home from work. Bob asked, "What kept you from doing it?" "You did. I knew what it would do to you." His response, "Then you know how I am feeling." I shook my head yes and then added, "Do you have a plan?" "No. I am too chicken to do something like that. Plus, if I committed suicide, you would not receive the money from the life insurance policy." I remember thinking to myself, "I hate that we are even having this conversation but at least he has given me two reasons for not taking his life."
I have had two divine appointments in Food Lion. The first one was with Shawn who was stocking the dairy aisle and while talking we found out that both of us have lost a close family member to suicide. Read last week's book bubble for more details. Late Wednesday evening I ventured to Food Lion to present a signed copy of God is enough to Shawn. Unfortunately he was not there but the manager Lisa was working. She assured me that she would give Shawn the book. Lisa loves to read so she decided to take the book home with her and then give it the next day to Shawn. Lisa has been the manager at Food Lion for over 20 years, She is a petite lady but she commands respect from her employees. My neighbor shared sweet stories about Lisa that revealed her love for people, especially young adults and those who have challenges. She hires many of them. She is dedicated to her store, employees and customers. I am thankful for her presence in the store during these difficult times and challenges. Thank you Lisa.
To this day I strive to live one step at a time, one day at a time. This approach allows me trust God daily, no matter what. The coronavirus has not changed that. Early in the pandemic I headed to the grocery store. I found everything with the exception of toilet paper! I asked Shawn who was stocking the dairy aisle, "Is there any toilet paper in the stockroom?" He quickly answered no. We struck up a conversation about the coronavirus. I told Shawn that God is in control. He answered that a lot of people don't believe in God, but I am not one of them. In the middle of Food Lion we begin sharing very personal stories. I began to share that I was a widow due to my husband's suicide. He began to describe his relationship with his older brother and how close they were. He added that his brother jumped off a bridge. God knew Shawn's brother committed suicide, yet God gave Shawn the opportunity to talk openly to me about it. It touched me how compassionate and amazingly personal God is.
Early on, following Bob's suicide, I received numerous sympathy cards in the mail. In one of those envelopes a sweet couple enclosed a book with the sympathy card. The title of this book was: Experiencing Grief by H. Norman Wright. I dove right into the book hoping to absorb all the information included in it. There was one particular thing that stuck out to me as I read chapter 22 entitled, "Saying Good-bye". The gist of this chapter was to write a "Letting Go" letter to the person you lost. It was one of the most difficult things to do but I found it healing. I invited several close friends and family to join me in writing a "Good-bye" letter. Those who participated read their letters aloud. Afterwards, we tied the letters to a balloon and released them. I found this process helpful because it was a visual way of saying good-bye. We watched the balloons slowly disappear out of sight.
Earlier this week I was shopping in the grocery store. I was pushing my cart down the bread aisle when I noticed a man squatting down as he placed loaves of bread on the shelves. As I passed him I wished him a good morning and asked how his day was going. He replied, "I am thankful to be alive!" Wow...that caught me off guard. Then I added, "Me too and for those of us who are Christ followers, every day that we wake up brings us one step closer to Heaven". God used that "bread man" to completely change my attitude that day. It gave me a new perspective on my life. The older I get on this journey called life the sooner I will be home!!!
Those of us who acknowledge God as our Savior have a unique outlook on life. For one thing we believe that God created the heavens and the earth as well as all the creatures that inhabit the earth. It gives me great comfort as well as trust to know that NOTHING is too hard for God. In the very back of God is enough are pages of quotes from the Bible. For the last several weeks I have been depressed. I decided to tear out the Psalm 5:7 page which states "In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." I taped it inside my car and recited it often as I traveled in the car. It was amazing what power it had over my life. I was giving all my requests to God and then left Him in charge of them. What a way to live....with great expectation of what God will do!
One of the great things about writing is that I can express my feelings and thoughts with others. I am an open book. I hope as you read God is enough that you can relate with my raw emotions expressed throughout the book. Writing also gives me a platform to discuss the topic of suicide alongside God. My horrific experience provided a purpose to assist others in the healing process. It has been six years since I lost Bob. On December 22, the church was filled with members sitting with their extended families. Suddenly I felt alone and missing Bob. I was fighting back tears as I quickly exited, before I lost it in the car! This is my new normal. Tears, love and missing someone special all go together.
As a child growing up I loved Christmas. I believed in Santa Claus longer than most of my friends. I remember going to bed early even as as a teenager on Christmas Eve. I remember when I was in high school, for whatever the reason, I was overly excited about what presents I might receive on Christmas. I knew my Mom wrapped the presents and placed them under her bed. One day I could not stand it any longer so I crawled under the bed and gathered all the presents that had my name on them. I was very careful to open one end of each gift, look at the contents and then reseal it. I found out I was getting some great presents. Guess what!!! That was the worst Christmas I ever had. There was no excitement or surprise because I already knew what the present contained. Needless to say...I never did that again!!!
It took a village to create God is Enough. I am thankful for the various members of that village. I am forever grateful that a fellow author recommended Bublish, Inc. to me. The Bublish staff was very helpful and the CEO and I talked many times via phone calls. This book publishing thing was foreign to me. The Bublish staff designed the cover, the layout of the book, edited the manuscript, and created a digital version of God is Enough. I am thankful for family, especially my mother, that supported me during the arduous process. I thank my special friends for their input in the portion of the book entitled "What Changes Others See in Me". Thank you to readers who have sent emails, describing how God is Enough helped them. These letters are always encouraging to me. God allows me to see just a glimpse of how He is using God is enough to help others. I know this sounds strange, but I know my husband would be my greatest cheerleader!!! Thank you all.
I am not much of a goal setter. I am more of a make a to do list gal! However, now that I am approaching retirement my to do list is LONG. There are SO many decisions to make...when do I stop working full time, what type of medical insurance should I get and will I work part time during retirement. It would make decision making much simpler if we knew when we were going to die!!! Then we could plan backwards from that date... Right now my goal is to talk with those who have already retired, go to workshops on Social Security and Medicare, etc. After collecting much information I will ask lots of questions and then make the best decision I can. My goal is to trust God during this entire process!!! He knows when I am going to die.
One of the scariest things I have done is write this book. I had no idea how to accomplish such a task! An author friend told me about Bublish. I was anxious as I talked with the CEO of the publishing company. She calmed many of my fears as we discussed the process of book writing. After numerous phone conversations, I became more comfortable with the process. Once I finished the manuscript, the Bublish staff designed the perfect cover for the book. One hurdle jumped! My next thought was, "who is going to read it?" Talk about SCARY....if anyone reads it...what will they think...will it help in their situation...on and on I could go. I am encouraged when I receive an email from a reader. The take away from my experience is don't let fear keep you from doing something out of your comfort zone.
An excerpt from my journal for August 7, 2019: "Thank You God for the wonderful, loving husband You chose for me. He was the most loving, unselfish person I have ever known. I long to see him." That is the expectancy of Heaven, to see others AGAIN who have died!!! For those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, there WILL BE a homecoming. That is when we will see Jesus face to face as well as all those who have gone before us. What a day of rejoicing that will be! A place with no more suffering. I cannot write this bubble without including an opportunity for those who don't know what Jesus did for them, to learn about God's plan of salvation and about the only way to eternal life. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The person who believes in Me, even if he died, will live." John 11:25) The Christ follower has assurance that there is life beyond this one, eternal life with God, that begins the moment a person puts their faith in Jesus. Why did Jesus willingly die on the cross if there was any other way to Heaven?
I was unprepared for the situation I found myself in on August 7, 2013. Upon receiving a phone call from Bob's boss stating that Bob was not at work, I walked outside looking for him. I found him hanging from a tree in our backyard. I screamed his name when I saw him as I collapsed on the picnic table like a limp rag doll. I was shaking and everything seemed to be so quiet and still. It was like I was living in a dream and everything was happening in slow motion. I was completely incapable of processing what I was seeing. Bob's boss stayed on the phone with me until the police and fire fighters arrived. I called my friend TJ and she came immediately. She sat beside me as I answered questions for hours from two police officers. I was shaking as I answered their questions. I repeated the story of what happened over and over as family and friends began arriving at the house. What I learned through this unprepared predicament was that God is enough.
Every August 7th since 2013 has been a milestone for me. It is hard to believe that Bob has been gone six years. Upon receiving Bob's ashes I spread some of them in our yard. On August 7, 2016 Suzanne and Peggy accompanied me to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. I spread his ashes in various place there. As I poured the remaining ashes out I said,"This is where our journey began when Bob first introduced me to this beautiful place and here I will leave you...my beloved". On August 7, 2017 Peggy told me that she wanted to come to Lake Junaluska on this date every year. August 7, 2018 I presented God is enough to the Lake Junaluska librarian. On August 7, 2019 I visited the Garden of Memory which contains Bob's plaque. I sat on a bench in this beautiful garden and talked with Bob for awhile. I await 2020....
The force of nature is powerful and unpredictable. Hurricane Dorian wrecked havoc on the Bahamas. As human beings we experience hurricanes that wreck havoc on our lives. How a hurricane impacts us is based on what category it is. Some hurricanes we can prepare for, such as death from a long term illness or the loss of a grandparent. Others catch us totally off guard, like a deadly car accident, a mass shooting, or a suicide. My hurricane came without any warning, and it brought major devastation into my life, my husband's suicide. It took two years to rebuild my life. It required much hard work, enduring intense pain and crippling loss. I had a strong foundation that kept me from giving up. That foundation was my faith in Jesus Christ. I depended on Jesus such that, I was only able to get out of bed by quoting this Bible verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". This foundation continues to strengthen me as I continue to face hurricanes in this life.
Writing God is enough has definitely been a labor of love in many ways. It gave me the opportunity to share the details of my husband's suicide and thus attempt to process what happened over a two year period. It provided a platform to show others how God was an important key to my healing. I felt a burden to tell others my story in hopes that it would help them in their healing process. The writing of God is enough took just under one year. Chapter one was the first and easiest chapter to write since every detail of the events of August 7, 2013 were etched in my head. My hope is that readers would discover what I did.....that God is enough.
It is hard to believe that Bob has been gone six years. How can that be! The pain is less intense, however the sense of loss daily is STILL intense. I am thankful for my friend, Peggy and my sister-in-law, Suzanne who for 4 years have made it a priority to join me on August 7 at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. They have no idea how much this means to me. Bob's ashes are scattered in the Garden of Memory there. Bob and I spent two nights on our honeymoon at Lake Junaluska. It was a special place to Bob, because it was there that he felt the call of God to become a pastor. As an author I have become bold in promoting my book. It flows out of my desire for others to learn what I did...that God is enough. There is a copy of God is enough in the Lake Junaluska Library. If you live in the area, check it out. God is using the book to help those who have experienced loss = my purpose.
Summer in our family is synonymous with gardening. However, there was a distinction between my husband and myself as to which type of gardening. In this excerpt you see our nicknames. Bob (Tate) preferred a vegetable garden and M.E. (Boo) preferred a flower garden! For each of us there was great joy in our individual preferences of gardening. The vegetable garden required a lot more work. There is the making of rows prior to planting seeds. Tate was a perfectionist when it came to making the rows...they HAD to be straight. That was asking a lot when we used a hoe, each working on opposite sides of each other in pulling up dirt to form a row!!! Tate's quote appears in this excerpt. Tell it like it is!!! We certainly ate well during summer months.
I began to journal in high school and continues today. I never even thought about writing a book, until my husband Bob took his life on August 7, 2013. I wanted to share my difficult journey with others and how I discovered that God is enough. An author friend told me about Bublish. I knew nothing about writing a book, much less publishing one! I had lots and lots of questions. I called Bublish and to my surprise the CEO, Kathy Meis answered the phone. Wow..I did not expect that! Over the next year we had several phone calls and every time I spoke to Kathy, it was like she had nothing else to do but talk with me that day. My favorite part of publishing was seeing the book cover design. It was incredible to hold My Book in my hands. Kathy said, "When you receive your book, you move from a writer to an author!"
This introvert prefers small gatherings and preferably ones where I know some of the people in attendance. The more I have in common with people the more comfortable I feel. For example, I can relate to widows whether I know them or not because we share a common bond. In other situations I have to admit that I am very uncomfortable when it comes to introductions. Most people introduce themselves by reciting a litany about their family. Since I am a widow without children there isn't much family about which to speak. I was discussing my dilemma with a friend recently. She said that I have a lot of things I can say about myself. For instance, you are a published author, you love the outdoors and enjoy traveling. She has a point. From now on I am going to introduce myself outside the box!!!
As I contemplated what topic to use in a book bubble, I read the introduction of God is enough and it hit me right between the eyes! I have been riding a depression roller coaster for the last several weeks. I was viewing and processing everything through the lens of what I have lost rather than what I have gained. God has been my guide since I was 16 and God isn't finished with me. Therefore I will do the following: 1. Focus of God's promises. 2. Dwell on God's character. 3. Realize that there is purpose in my suffering. God is and always will be enough!
Community is anyone whose life intersects mine. Some people intersect my life more frequently than others and thus we develop a close relationship. I call those in my inner circle "pilgrims". I started using this term "pilgrims" after I heard bible study leader, Beth Moore of Living Proof Ministry, use it. She explained that pilgrims walk shoulder to shoulder as they experience life together. There is rejoicing and celebrating when we life is going well! However, when bad things happen a pilgrim allows you to lean on them for support. That is why they walk shoulder to shoulder. Let me introduce you to three of my pilgrims. Marilyn approached me with a question: "Would you like the tree Bob used, to be removed?" "Yes," I responded. She expressed her desire to create a room in the house that would make me happy. She would be joined by two pilgrims, Teresa and Vonnie. Today, my bedroom has lilac walls and Bob's closet has been transformed into a cove with a transom window and book shelves where I go to escape. I typically write in my daily journal as well as book bubbles there. Thank you sweet pilgrims for your love and active support.
Comebacks are exciting and people love to hear about them because they are stories of redemption and restoration. Two comebacks happened recently in the sports arena. The University of Virginia men's basketball team, who was a number one seed in the tournament, won the NCAA National Championship game, after losing last year in the first round, when they were also a number one seed. Tiger Woods won the Masters Golf Tournament after struggling for ten years. . I also have experienced a comeback. It has taken three to five years. I have discovered a new normal and a new me. I could not have done this on my own. Many people traveled this uphill journey with me. God has been my anchor. I held onto Him when I was overwhelmed and drowning in sorrow and pain. No matter what the circumstance...God is always there and He is enough. He is the epitome of a comeback!
A GOD story first of all involves GOD. The events surrounding a GOD story can only be explained by the activity of GOD. It involves divine intervention. I want to tell you a GOD story that happened yesterday at work. When I arrived at the hospital near Virginia I walked up to the nurses station and was greeted by Michelle. She and I have worked together for many years and she knows about my book. Michelle said,"I have someone I want you to meet. I told her about your book. Her sister's husband committed suicide two weeks ago." My hear sunk. Michelle walked me down the hall and introduced me to Tracy. Tracy described the details of her brother-in-law's death by gunshot and that her sister discovered him. I spent an hour with Tracy listening to her describe the event and talking with her about my book. Only God could have orchestrated all of the details so that we would meet. Did I mention I only visit this hospital once a month!
I have been writing in journals since high school. I never thought about writing a book until Bob's death. I felt God was prompting me to write a book about his suicide. When I began writing I used purple legal pads and a purple pen. You might get the idea that I like PURPLE! The first words of the story came easy because I described in detail what happened that dreadful August 7, 2013. Every detail was etched in my mind. Every time I closed my eyes at night, I could see him hanging from a tree. One of my friends said after reading the book, "You need to tell people the beginning of the book is graphic." It never occurred to do that, it was just part of my story. Writing the book was therapeutic. It forced me to get my feelings out on paper and helped me process the horrific event. Part of the process involved reconciling Bob's death with God's love for him. The journey was long and painful. But through it all, I can say that I came to the same conclusions that Jennifer Rothschild and Elisabeth Elliot did.
One of my favorite scriptures comes from Psalm 56:8. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book". This verse causes me to tear up and smile all at the same time. It impresses me that the God of the universe cares so much for those who are grieving, that He literally keeps track of every tear and writes each one down. I never get over trying to process how special and meaningful this verse is and how much it speaks to God's character. I can trust Him because He is trustworthy! Life has become much easier to maneuver when I release issues, relationships, or difficult situations over to God to handle. This lightens my load! Many times I reclaim those things that I earlier handed over to God. Trust isn't easy even when it involves the God of the universe! Often I have to release things over and over again to God.
I received the following text message from my sister-in-law (Bob's older sister): "I finally read your book this past Sunday, February 24. I read it from beginning to end in one sitting. I had not been able to open it before, because I was afraid it would be too painful. I have never really allowed myself to cry for Bob. I just stuffed it down inside and told myself that he was in Heaven and would not want to come back and that I would see him when I get there. I have been afraid that if I ever let go and started crying, that I would never stop. So over the past five years I have withdrawn into myself and away from others. God is truly making beauty out of your ashes. The book was a blessing and a wake up call for me. You and Jesus did a wonderful job writing it. Love you."
God is enough was written to help those whose lives have been turned upside down just as mine was. Thank you readers for your emails. I want to share with you one of those emails. The reader writes, "As I write this email the surroundings belie my true feelings amid this impossible situation I find myself in now. It is getting close to the one year anniversary of my husband's suicide by gunshot to the head. I spend time weekly or so at the cemetery where I talk to him, yell at him, or just cry. I don't know if that's normal or not but I still do it. It seems the only place I can let go of what I'm feeling or thinking so I continue that practice. My pain and severe anger drive my daily depression and seem to be the only thing that gives me energy to move from day to day." We corresponded with each other several times. The last email I received stated, "I do appreciate your response to my email. Your resources have been of immense help to me and I can't thank you enough. I pray that I am able to help others as you have been able to do in time."
Growing up I attended a private school in Durham, N.C.from first grade until ninth grade. Later on, my parents decided that I should attend the local public high school in Chapel Hill to start my sophomore year. That was NOT good news for this introvert! It was a difficult year to say the least. Slowly and surely I began to make friends. Several of my new friends invited me to attend Young Life and I decided to go. Young Life is a christian organization led by students attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We played games and sang songs as the leaders played their guitars. It was fun and I enjoyed it. After attending several times, I decided to sign up for Campaigners which was another group. Campaigners met at a local church in downtown Chapel Hill. When I arrived I realized that I was the only sophomore there and it was a much smaller group. It was a bible study led by Liz Skillen. I had never been to a bible study before. One night, Liz described God's plan of salvation for the world. Later that night while in my bed I prayed to God and became a Jesus follower.
The day following my husband's suicide I walked outside and up to the tree where he had hung himself. I angrily said to Satan, "You meant this for evil, but God meant this for good. You messed with the wrong woman!" The first portion of the above quote is not original. It comes from Genesis 50:20 in the story of Joseph, who was mistreated by his brothers and sold into slavery. Joseph's story ends well and God used him to prepare for a famine that saved many lives. After the passage of many years I can now see how God has used Bob's suicide for good. Because God is in control He knows everything. He knows how our stories will end. While my life story is being written I will trust God to use it for good.
Every New Year that came after August 7, 2013 I hated. Many people around me were making resolutions or starting a new endeavor. I, on the other hand, had neither the strength nor the desire to start something new. I just wanted to get my 'old life' back. What was so happy about a new year anyway? This was my pervading thought every new year thereafter until January 1, 2018. On January 1, 2018 it dawned on me that my perspective on the arrival of a new year was backwards. Instead of dreading the next 365 days to come, I realized that with each new year I was getting closer and closer to going to heaven. Now the thought of that idea makes me ecstatically Happy!
My father died August 28, 2011. My husband knew I had trouble remembering dates. So he came up with a creative way for me to recall Dad's date of death. He asked, "What passage in the Bible has the address 8:28?." To which I replied, "Romans 8:28. Thanks for thinking of that." It worked. For I have not forgotten the date even though seven years have passed. Not only was it Bob's thoughtful idea to help me, but what this scripture says, applies very aptly to his own death. Romans 8:28 states, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose." This scripture passage is a hard verse to accept when you are in the midst of a difficult circumstance and are trying to make sense of it all. In my situation, it took several years before I could agree with the statements made by Jennifer Rothschild and Elisabeth Elliot. Now I accept Bob's suicide as something God used to change me from the inside out and to make me more reflect Him. I now have a privileged purpose - to help other dealing with a suicide.
Dates are important because they mark a special event like a birthday, a wedding, or a holiday. Sometimes these dates are celebrated with a party, a cake, a gift, a meal or a balloon. Other times they are marked by a funeral. For me, the dates that in the past were once celebrated, have now become a source of sadness and pain. There are three dates that are particularly painful now. They are Bob's birthday, our anniversary, and his date of death. Typically as one of these dates approaches, the tears start rolling down my cheeks and I spend more time than usual in the bed. Bob's birthday is November 6. I began crying about a week before his birthday this year. However, when November 6 arrived, in the midst of my sadness, I began to pray to God saying,"This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." I continued thanking God that on this date my future husband was born. I thanked Him for this wonderful relationship and 33 years of marriage. I was shocked and amazed at the change in my heart. Thank you God. You have done this!
November 25, 2018 will be the one year anniversary of God is enough! It is hard to believe a year has gone by since its release. Thank you to those of you who have written me. It has been both a humbling experience as well as an encouragement to me as I read your stories and how the book helped. I hope this journey we have taken together has caused you to know Jesus in a more intimate way. As the holidays approach, be honest with others about how you are doing. The way you celebrate now may be very different than previous years. Embrace a new normal. To embrace it does not mean you like it. Remember - if there was no love there would be no grief. Carry on...one day at a time...one step at a time.
My massage therapist, Barbra Galavotti also doubles as a good counselor and listener. After the hour I spend with Barbra, I feel better physically as well as mentally. She not only has removed the knots from my muscles but also has allowed me to process new normal life happenings with her. When I leave, the load I came in with has been lightened! On one occasion I was telling Barbra that I decided to write a book about my experience following Bob's suicide. She listened intently and then said, " I have a client who has written several fiction books. I will give you her name and contact information. I know she would be more than happy to help you with this project." This author's name is Pamela Poole. I discovered Bublish, Inc. from this unlikely referral during a massage. Pamela was kind enough to meet me at various restaurants for hours at a time, acting as my tour guide through the book writing and publishing process. I owe Pamela a huge debt of gratitude!!!
I work for a medical supply company and travel to different nursing homes in North Carolina and South Carolina. My job entails visiting a nursing home every month to bill Medicare Part B for patients' supplies. Some of the information needed in order to bill I obtain from an employee that works in the Billing Department. Her name is Kathie Matthews and we became good friends over the past ten plus years. After Bob died I was scheduled to travel to South Carolina. I called Kathie very upset and asked, "What am I going to do? There won't be anybody to call and check on me at the motel." Kathie without hesitation replied, "You're going to stay with me." I was dumbfounded by her response that day and have continued staying with Kathie every month for the past five years. Thank you for this surprise gift.
I love the story of Gideon. If you want to read this amazing story, check out chapters 6 and 7 of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible. I can so identify with Gideon. I had never written a book and was intimidated by the thought of it! The first page I wrote came easy to me because the details of August 7, 2013 are indelibly etched in my mind. And just like in Gideon's case I had no excuse for what God had asked me to do. God knew that I could write God is enough. God wrote the story through me to help others walk the path of difficult things in this life. He used me to accomplish His purpose.
My good friend Vonnie was one of many people who encouraged me while writing the manuscript for the book. She, however, possessed one thing that the others did not. Vonnie was an author. She confessed to me that there was one thing she regretted not including in the book, her email address. For that reason I included my email address. I am so glad I did! God has given me the opportunity to correspond with readers. Shortly after the book was published I purchased a bulletin board where I could post emails received from readers as encouragement of my newfound purpose. I also posted names of those family members who took their lives as well as those left behind. I consider it a privilege to pray for these people as they travel this very painful journey. I hope along the way they discover that God is enough.
The owners of a local funeral home attended the church where my husband was pastor. They became good friends during the 7 years we were there, as they did many funerals together. I specifically sought out the embalmer at this funeral home following Bob's death. I hugged him and said, "You have given me such a gift. The last time I saw Bob he looked awful. He looks wonderful now. Thank you." Several close friends would accompany me on the many funeral home visits. Following his death, I visited the funeral home because I wanted to talk to him like I did when he was alive. We would pull up chairs to the open casket and I would talk to him for hours. I did this every day including the morning of his cremation. I told a fellow widow, "I would have liked to have taken Bob home, put him in the corner of the bedroom, then I could talk to him every day." She totally understood what I meant. I miss sharing life with him.
The box that contained the puzzle was white. There was no picture on the cover that revealed what the puzzle would look like. The same was true of the situation I found myself in the day my husband ended his life. There was no puzzle picture to direct me through this tragedy. My life was a blank page because everything I had ever known previously had disappeared. I attempted to place together the edge puzzle pieces. I was frustrated that the first few pieces I tried to put together did not work.
I recently attended a church woman's retreat at Oak Island, N.C. This was the second retreat I have attended since Bob's death in 2013. I was reminded that at the first retreat in April 2014 was when God gave me the title of the book, unbeknownst to me at the time. Here is an excerpt from my journal dated April 12, 2014. "I am attending a woman's retreat at Oak Island with my friend Amy. Several Sundays ago Amy approached me and asked, 'M.E. if we room together and I drive, would you go to the retreat? To which I replied, 'Yes. I would.'" "It is divine intervention that one of the activities at the retreat is to make a poster of one thing God has done in your life. One side of the poster states before God and the flip side states after God." My poster read: LOST HUSBAND TO SUICIDE ....... FOUND OUT GOD IS ENOUGH God gave me this title two years before I began writing. The book was written in less than a year.
God knows everything. He knew that I would write a book, which still blows my mind! He knew that Bob would take his life. The word everything means all. That word all encompasses a lot of things, ie. my health, my future, my dreams, etc. Anything I can put in this blank ____ God knows it. This concept radically changed the way I do life now.
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