The Valley of Vision #5: Death

I don’t know if Chuck read all of the entries in The Valley of Vision because he didn’t mark them. But this portion from one entry near the back of the book could have been his prayer.

"Prepare me for death, 
that I may not die after long affliction or suddenly, 
but after short illness, with no confusion or disorder, 
and a quiet discharge in peace, with adieu to brethren. 
Let not my days end like lumber in a house, 
but give me a silent removing from one world to the next."

If this had been his prayer, I think it was answered. His illness was short, but not sudden like a heart attack or accident. He was not confused, except maybe for the final few days. He was able to say his goodbyes, even though I felt he and I didn’t really say ours.

Madeleine L’Engle relayed a story a nurse told her of when she lost her husband. “NO CODE” was written in his chart. The nurse said she fell apart, but that looking back, she wouldn’t have had it any other way. This is what we did. Chuck agreed and we signed the DNR form, but when the time came he begged me to call 911; said he changed his mind. I, too, fell apart inside but did my best to stick to what I knew his wishes were. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Madeleine also told of her thoughts when her own husband was dying. “Does Hugh understand that he is being touched, loved? Is there enough awareness in him for that?” I often wonder what Chuck’s thoughts were in those final hours. Our daughters were there with me and we all ministered to him, did our best to give him all the love we had. He was aware that we were there up until the last moments. I can only hope he knew we wanted him to stay, but had to let him go.

He preached and believed “our times are in His hands”. I believe this, too. It was one year ago today.

“And she said she was grateful for every moment she'd ever had with him and, even if it was all over, she wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world.” - from Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle

Sighs and Petitions

“The Christian’s heart is constantly sending up sighs and petitions to God, regardless of whether he happens to be eating or drinking or working. “ – Martin Luther

I know I do not pray enough. I try not to tell people I’m going to pray for them without actually doing it. “Prayers!” on facebook just isn’t enough, but neither are empty words. Guilty.

But God is patient and kind and puts up with my feeble prayers. I do believe He hears me when I don’t even realize I’m sending up those sighs and petitions. And I am grateful for those who I know are praying for me. Many prayers have lifted me up this past year.

Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, And you have strengthened the feeble knees;  -  Job 4:4

Not so minor characters

“The minor characters in your life will step into the foreground and shine.” – Sheryl Sandberg

There have been some women who have stepped into the foreground for me. They are not minor characters, but they have been in the background of my life for a while.

Like Lee, my sorority Big Sister in college, who I had not seen for over 40 years. She stepped right back into my life by coming to Chuck’s funeral, all the way from Georgia. We’ve met for lunch and spent the day together catching up on all the years gone by.

Lee and me – Fernandina, 2020

Like Jeannie, who I also met over 40 years ago when Chuck and I were dating. She has been so very kind to me, meeting for lunch and giving me books and gifts to show her love and sympathy.

Jeannie and me – 1980

Like Judy, who calls and writes and lets me know I am always in her prayers. Our friendship doesn’t go back so far, but she is a Christian sister who cares. She doesn’t just post “praying” on social media, but when she says she’s praying I know she really is.

Judy – at Melt in Bham

Like Crystal, another newer friend, who writes nice chatty letters to let me know all the big and little things going on with her family. She shares her life with me and shows her concern for me.

Christmas at Crystal’s – 2019

Like Peggy, who lives in Auburndale but stays connected and checks on me. She sometimes brings along her husband, Tom, who is also a dear friend. They were great friends to Chuck and I and I’m so thankful for them still.

Peggy, St. Augustine, 2013

Like Debbie, who was in my Brownie troop when we were in 2nd/3rd grades. We went to church together through our teens and were in each others weddings. Then, time and miles kept us apart. But, we have reconnected, from Ohio to Florida, and had supper after 20 years and fell right into our friendship again.

Debbie, second from left

Like Darla, who I bonded with when we taught school together. She has made it a point to keep in touch. Her life is full to the brim with grandchildren, but she has made time for me.

Darla at Wild Adventures

That’s the thing – time. It’s not always easy or convenient, but it’s important to make time for the ones we love. For the ones who need our love.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” – Romans 1:8

The Valley of Vision #2: smiles of prosperity and frowns of adversity,

For right now, for everyday, there is this:

“…under all the trials that weary me, the cares that corrode me, the fears that disturb me, I can come to Thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding!”

For now and into the future, there is this: “Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in Thee…”

We tend to forget God during the good and easy times, so this reminds me to be thankful for all the ‘smiles of prosperity’:

“Do Thou with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all. May I find Thy grace sufficient for all my needs.”

All quotes from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England.

Lovely Cards #1

Card from Jenny

I am so grateful to God for the ones He has put in my life who still pray for me. On those nights when it seems so dark, I know that I have been sustained by prayers. I know that God hears others when I can’t find words. Then, in the morning, I am able to go on. I am able to pray for guidance and pray for those I love, both family and friends.

The above card was from my high school friend, Jenny. She knows loss. She can empathize because she knows. And when she says she’s praying, I know it’s not just empty words. She wrote, “I pray that God will give you the fortitude to bear his loss.” God is answering her prayer every day.


“As God’s love is lavished on you, give this love away lavishly to others. Let the love of Christ that is in you be split over into the lives of the people around you.” – from The Undistracted Widow By Carol Cornish

The Valley of vision #1: He is my safe harbour.

September 26, 2018 – Oregon

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. I found a seemingly brand new copy among Chuck’s books. It has been an absolute blessing to me. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England.

From today’s reading:

“I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.”

In this year, 2021, I launch my “boat” wholly dependent on my Father. I’ll use my oars and GPS. I’ll prepare for storms, but know that when the storms come, He is my safe harbour.

Hymns of Grace #2: Lord, we come before thee now

“Comfort those who weep and mourn; Let the time of joy return: Those that are cast down lift up, Strong in faith, in love and hope”

I am not familiar with this hymn, but it brought to mind not just those who mourn, but many who are cast down. Last week I delivered food to three people who have Covid-19. Two of these people, a couple, also have family members with numerous health issues. I am blessed right now with good health. I thank God he has kept me healthy and I pray for these loved ones that they, too, might be restored to good health.

“…Heal the sick, the captive free…”

my heart

I often take song lyrics to suit my circumstances. And I think that’s okay. Music and song soothe my soul, make me think, make me cry, ease my pain and bring me joy.

I’ve taken these lyrics as my own:

What do I get when I find out I am nothing?
Who am I without my name?
How do I stop this emptiness from growing?
The dumb instructions coming from my brain

I go to my heart on my knees

I know I am not nothing, but I feel like a half these days. I still have my name, but it’s no longer wife. And yes, there are a lot of dumb instructions coming from my brain.

I go to my heart, frail as it is. On my knees in prayer.



My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Thanksgivings

I’m sitting in the backyard testing out my fire pit and reflecting on the blessings God has sent me in the past 3-4 months. This list is not comprehensive, but a start at saying “Thank-You” to God and to those He has used to bless and uplift me.

To my daughters, Katherine and Leah, who were my anchor in the storm. Their love was expressed over and over in their actions, from making phone calls and making decisions to giving insulin shots and massaging feet. And finding this little house that is slowly becoming a home.

To my sons who called and visited and lifted my burdens in numerous ways. They provided expertise and they provided conversation and they gave love.

To my daughter-in-law, my third daughter, who gave so much advice and held Chuck’s hand on her last visit, with tears in her eyes and love in her heart.

To friends, known and unknown, who prayed when I couldn’t. I felt the prayers holding up my feeble arms.

To my little brother Norman who gave of his time to get me moved – twice – and provided his home to me and his heart. And his cooking- top notch stuff.

To my big brother David, who talked to me in the night as I walked Ruby, who knows firsthand the pain of losing a spouse.

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” I Peter 3:8

To Al, who drove across town to take my car to get new tires. And visited Chuck. And Darlene who made cake.

To Holly and Ken, who visited and prayed and fed us with deliciousness and gave advice and showed the spirit of Christ in actions.

To Candace who was supportive in a time of need, who knows loss, and who gave me a bird feeder that brings me birds and joy every day.

To Darla, Jeannie, Robin, Peggy, Erica and Lee, who reached out and loved on me.

To Aunt Amy who was always a supporter of our family, and is no stranger to loss. She has empathized with tears and I love her.

To the nephews and nieces who have given the strength of their youth and reached out to me across the generational divide.

To Judy and Sheryl and Crystal and Maureen and Sarita who text and call and write letters from Birmingham. A sweet combination of southern hospitality and Christian fellowship.

To cousins, those childhood friends who are forever linked to my heart, no matter how many years go by. Thank you for all the prayers and conversations.

To my sisters in widowhood who have grieved with me and have suffered their own loss: Mary, Beth, Libby, Pam, and Tommie.

To Mark and Eric who prayed with me over the phone and Steve who texted scripture and encouraging words and prayers.

To Dorothy who prayed and wrote a poem, because those are her gifts.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27

Texts from the past #3: small silly things

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

I don’t have a date for this one, but it was sometime in the spring of 2018.

I took a picture of a portion of text from a book I was reading. I don’t even remember now what book it was or exactly why I sent it.

“It is all right for me to pray for the small silly things. Do not let me fall. Do not let me get laryngitis – as long as I hand the prayer, no matter how minor, no matter how foolish, to God. Your way, Lord, not mine.”

Fast forward to this year. We prayed for a lot of things, large and small. For wisdom in decisions. For strength to eat. Praise for a bowel movement. The week before Chuck died our pastor visited. Chuck told how he was too tired to pray. I could see he was nearly too tired to think. And I was too undone to pray, but I know it was the prayers of others that sustained me and got us through those days.