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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Box Marked Widow...

What does your box say?
We can easily live our lives safe within a box – a box with labels plastered outside – some are labels that life has put on for you, some are labels that you have stuck on yourself. The box comes with you. It frames how you look at yourself.
It frames how you look at others – go on, try it. Go grab a medium size box, cut a hole in it and stick your head through. Now try and get a good look at something on either side of you – what do you see? The sides of your box.
It’s not comfortable. It’s not pretty. It’s not you.
But right now, it’s all you have.
What does your box say? Lonely. Depressed. Abused. Single. Unhappily married. Afraid. Divorced. Infertile. Exhausted mama. Stressed. Breast cancer. Ashamed. Hopeless. Not only does it affect the way you see the world, it affects how everyone else views you.
My box says widow. Single mother. Orphan. Lonely.
When my husband died 5 years ago – the hardest thing for me to get used to was the ‘box marked widow’. I must have filled out 500 forms during the paperwork process, and on every one had to check that box for marital status. Widow. Widow. WIDOW!!! This word was (is) hard for me to embrace.
The government had decided this was my label. My bank. My doctor’s office. My kid’s school. My tax returns. Over and over again I was forced to check the box marked widow.
I wanted to scream – this is not me! This is not who I want to be. I want to be wife. Partner. Helpmate. Sister. Daughter. Mother . Friend.
The bad news is, this is not a place where you will find the ‘answer’ – that I have come up with the secret to embracing the box marked widow. However – I can share with you God’s faithfulness in two very specific ways…
One – he has mentioned me specifically by name. In His word. A lot. Oh, yea. I love when the great I AM mentions who I am. Apparently, widows and orphans are precious to His heart. (
Two – Every time I put a check in that box, that widow box, I make a tiny ‘n’ in between the ‘I’ and the ‘d’ - and poof! Widow becomes window. ‘Cause if I am going to check that box, I want it to say something more than just my marital status. He has given me the ability to share of His amazing faithfulness over the past six years. To share my testimony over cups of coffee and government counters and carpool drop-offs. And hopefully to shine my story so that He is reflected through me. Sometimes through laughter and sometimes through tears. But still shining. It says in the word that ‘they overcame by the blood of the lamb and the words of their testimony.’ Jesus has already done the work of redemption in our lives. We have the opportunity to use our words to affect many. But it’s hard to do from inside a box.
And you know, boxes just aren’t real shiny. They are dull and brown and confining and usually pretty darn unattractive. But windows – they reflect and shine and frame what is inside.
You can’t change your labels. Sometimes life just is what it is. But you can decide to look at the box life has placed you in through His eyes. And stick on His labels over the ugly ones. You are….Adored. Treasured. Hope-full. Grace-full. He can work His purposes through the ‘ugly’ that has labeled your life. He’s promised it. Go on and find five verses that tell who you are in Him. Put His labels on over the world’s attempt to define you! And then go tell somebody. ‘Cause when they look at you shining, they’re gonna wonder what’s up!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Point of View

When you momma asks you to do something, you simply do it – especially if that same momma is in a hospital bed in her bedroom struggling for breath from a terminal lung disease.
When we moved the hospital bed into my mom’s room, it faced the side window – which looked out on the neighbor’s peeling stucco wall, complete w/ nail scars from old hurricane shutters. I hated that she had to look at that every day – Mom jokingly asked if maybe we could paint the neighbors wall. Determined to change her view – I went out to alter the situation. Tried hanging a planter- too heavy. Tried moving potted plants in front – too short. I even thought seriously -for about five minutes – about painting the neighbors wall. (I’m stubborn that way.)
Walking back into the house – my heart was so sad. ‘Why, God, why?”
“ Why does my mom have to suffer from this disease?, Why does she have to be bedbound at 70 years old, struggling to breathe? Why has she gone from capable and creative and energetic and engaged to plucking at the covers on her bed in nervous frustration? Why does she now have to look at ‘ugly‘all day?”
As I walked back into the house, I noticed a small stained glass hanging on the entryway glass. And some crocheted snowflakes on the kitchen window, attached with a small suction cups. I grabbed them both and then walked through the living room, picking up a cute figurine, a stained glass bible verse plaque and a small flower arrangement. I arranged it all in – and on- my mom’s window and suddenly in front of the ugly, there was a kaleidoscope of color.
‘That’s better’, she sighed in relief, ‘Now I have something pretty to look at.’
I couldn’t do a thing about my mom’s view. She remained bedridden. The neighbor’s wall remained ugly and peeling. But while we couldn’t change her view, we could change what she chose to look at.
My sweet mom couldn’t do a thing about her diagnosis…neither could I. But, maybe, just maybe we could ask God to give us His perspective and choose to find something lovely to look at. Like the amazing hospice nurses who showed up daily with smiles and enthusiasm. The church ladies who brought meals. The fact that there was no pain. And the time we had been able to spend reminiscing and laughing about family stories.
There is always something to be thankful for…I guess it all depends on your ‘point of view.’