Godwinks and Trusting

On 24 June 2011, I received my biggest Godwink and promise ever. I was broken and I couldn’t see the way out. This was six weeks after Phil had died. That Godwink cannot be explained. I have written about that moment in both my book and on here long ago. Even in my storm right now, I recognize something. It is coming. It is going to happen. As my path is diverging and changes are coming, I wait in hopeful anticipation for that promise, too. For those of you that do not remember or who have not heard the story:

On 24 June 2011, I received Phil’s autopsy photos and report. When the report did not match what the AF had told me, I looked at the pictures. While I can handle pictures like this, I couldn’t push past the agony of seeing my Phil’s body broken beyond repair. He had been shot too many times to count. I broke. I crawled under the covers of my bed and wept from the depths of my soul. While I did not have a death wish, I cried out to Jesus, “Why my Phil? Why not me?” He was such a good man and he touched so many people. I was the quiet invisible girl. As I wept from the darkness of my soul, I felt a zap like an electric jolt. At the same time, an image flashed across my soul, my brain, I can’t explain it. I saw myself standing with a man in front of an altar. I could see the joy. I could feel the joy. I denied what was happening and wept on.

When the jolt happened again, it was stronger and the image even more real. It terrified me. I jumped up and tripped in the blankets of my bed. As I looked up from the floor, I saw the first complete double rainbow I had ever see to date framing my beloved mountain. I knew then that I would somehow one day find love again. While I have made it very difficult on God because I have been so closed off, I did eventually let another person in. I even learned to love that person.

That relationship was not meant to be. Not every relationship leads to marriage. Faith is very important to me. While this man and I will fight to stay friends, and while my heart is broken, I recognize that what is coming one day is going to make this seem like a speed bump. It is easy to lose sight of what lies ahead, but I believe in that promise with every breath I take. My burning bush was 24 June 2011 and God is more than faithful–even now.

The Rose Colored Glasses Shattered

I like who I am….really I do, but it seems like my character assets are hopelessly outdated. Those rose colored glasses that sees the world and every person in it as good and as who they say they are is shattered. Twice now I have learned and it hurts much worse this time. The first time was in the knowing that Phil knew his assassin, trusted his assassin, and yet the vile monster looked at him as he shot him time and time again. Phil had time to know evil and to feel pain. That thought gouges my soul and I would give anything to have been able to stand in his stead. I do not say that flippantly, but with the essence of my soul and with every life breath of love I had for that man. That is the key. When I love, there is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t give for the other. Phil’s death etched that value deeper into my soul and yet, yet, that trait just got stomped on and I am not sure that I can recover and repair those rose colored glasses. Maybe I shouldn’t want to.

I never thought that I would be capable of dating again and it indeed took me five years to get to that point of finding a man that I thought enough of to date. He was my friend and I didn’t have to be on every moment of every day. It was such a huge gift. I gave him my heart. I do not know how to be half way in. I only know how to be a good help mate, how to bend into a relationship, and how to believe the best about another person. I truly did. I wanted everything good for him and I looked at him as the king of my world even when life started to get in the way.

I recognized the subtle shift of attention and words, but I attributed to work. Like I would have with Phil, I looked forward believing that the work responsibilities would slow and that the relationship would once again thrive. I looked forward to our moments even as I found myself unable to voice certain things and apologizing for wanting what should have been freely given in a relationship–time and investment. Perhaps work broke us, but I never noticed it because I was too busy looking ahead with those rosy glasses and believing that we had time to figure it out. Indeed, we did and still do have plans through the middle of Dec. Those markers stood as the milestones of the investment into us until it all came crashing down into a broken shattered mess that I do not see how can be repaired.

I am broken and unsure. I like believing the best in people, but I am not sure it is wise in the dating realm. I don’t know the rules and being a widow makes the betrayal twenty times worse. I should have seen it coming. The deep betrayal (not cheating) is resonating on every level. I invested my soul and my heart because that is who I am. Perhaps I wanted too much. Perhaps I needed too much. All I know is that my glasses are shattered. I am shattered.

Relationships After Traumatic Loss   Relationships take a lot of hard work and require ongoing navigation, adaptation, and investment if they are to flourish.  Two people have to be equally co…

Source: ambardpl


Relationships After Traumatic Loss


Relationships take a lot of hard work and require ongoing navigation, adaptation, and investment if they are to flourish.  Two people have to be equally committed to giving their very all to keep moving the friendship forward—even in marriage.  There are defining moments of choices for both people.  Two people can deeply care about one another, but be on a different plane in terms of what it means to be a couple.  Because I was married for so long and because there were no choices in how I became an unwilling participant in navigating the single life, I no longer possess certain skills.  As a widow from a loss in which there was no time to prepare, I think that I am like most widow/widowers in the same boat in that I put too much validity into a relationship far too soon and I am willing to fight too hard to stay in a relationship because I only know compromise, fighting fair, keeping the peace, and loving through the harder times.


Being a widow is different from being divorced.  I do not carry the baggage from  a relationship ending due to choice or to the erosion of confidence in another.  I fight fair because know what it is like to have years with another person and to realize that the power of words and actions last a lifetime.  Phil and I made choices.  The first came early on and it was the moment in which we both became equally committed to the relationship.  He had returned home from being with his mother who disagreed with Phil, 21, being with an older woman with three children.  I was excited to see him and he was distracted and not as communicative as he should have been.  I remember trying and knowing that I couldn’t keep trying to convince him to love me.  I got up and told him goodbye.  I was done.  As I got half way up the hall of his dorm, he chased me down and begged me to give him another chance.  It was a defining moment on every level.  From that point on, Phil was all in.  We eloped 5 weeks later.


Marriage was hard.  We had no money and so many people felt like we shouldn’t be together.  I had an ex-husband who didn’t help.  I remember our first fight.  I am really good at the quiet treatment.  The Berlin Wall (via pillows) went up down the middle of our bed.  I ignored him all night.  I will never forget the tear streaked face that greeted me in the morning.  From that moment on, we agreed to work things out before they escalated to that level and for 23.5 years, we stayed true to that promise even when things were difficult.


Phil could be distracted by work and he could be insensitive.  He told me something one time that wounded me as much as a statement said recently.  Phil told me that he could not be my friend during an especially low period of my life.  I was fighting for my life.  I thought I was going to die.  I had five children at home and I was 37.  Phil was consumed with work, school, trying to get a commission, five children, we lived overseas, and I could go on.  It was devastating to hear that my husband could not be my friend.  Did we come back from that terrible moment?  Yes, but it took a lot of work and two committed people.  I chose to stay and wait out the storm and he chose to chase me like crazy when he realized what he had done about 18 months later when he was at OTS.


When I became a widow, I didn’t want to date.  I knew that I lacked the skills to navigate the games or even choosing.  I felt like my life was over.  I stayed consumed with business and with not taking a chance.  And, then, someone came into my life.  Someone unexpected and someone I could not see myself with.  Through time and the gift of friendship—one that he pursued, I shifted my prisms and started to move the bricks that had protected my heart.  I began to lean into the possibility of what might come next and the hope of what might come, but as in any relationship, there are speed bumps.  I just do not see them coming and I have no skills to navigate them anymore.


When things get tough, I immediately go into fix and give mode.  I don’t know how to defend myself and I realize that I don’t know what is normal and what is something I should walk away from.  I realized lately that my widow cards are very different from divorced cards.  I go to the skills I learned to keep a relationship together where perhaps another person goes to defensive mode based on the hurts of a past disintegration of a relationship.  The problem is that I fight for a relationship when maybe I need to wave a white flag.


I am hurting and grieving.  I am not sure why conflict and making a decision is so difficult.  I am not sure why I feel so bad.  Why I feel like I am not worth it.  I have discovered that I am capable of loving another person, but perhaps I am not lovable.  I have discovered how full my life can be with that love, but perhaps it does not mean the same thing to another.  I lack the skills of reading the cues and I lack the confidence in my own abilities to navigate the dating life.  I feel so broken sometimes.  I know how to be a good wife and a good mom, but those skills don’t equate to knowing how to start a relationship, continue a relationship, or how to navigate the normal speed bumps.  I get paralyzed and stand unsure and afraid.    I am on my knees right now fighting for me….fighting for us…fighting for clarity and hoping that somehow my skills will matter.


The Changing of Me

I have never seen myself as a victim.  Ever.  Even when I was too broken to see through the darkness, I knew that I would somehow get through it.  I do not quit and I tend to be a Pollyanna in that…

Source: The Changing of Me

The Changing of Me

I have never seen myself as a victim.  Ever.  Even when I was too broken to see through the darkness, I knew that I would somehow get through it.  I do not quit and I tend to be a Pollyanna in that I think that no matter what, that there is a reason for it.  While I am far from perfect, writing about my journey was never seen as a badge of honor or a way to say, “Look at me.  I am a victim.”  My personality is to fix things and to look for peace.  Phil’s death cemented and reinforced that trait because I do know how short life can be.  Yet, someone really hurt me yesterday when he inferred that I use the victim card.  It caused me to take pause and consider the ways that I have grown since Phil’s death….and I have.


First, I have learned to forgive the unthinkable. There came a point when I realized that I was consumed with the what ifs and what should have been.  I couldn’t get past the ache or the want of the dreams and hopes I had carried and invested in for so many years.  People did say and they did do the wrong thing, but I decided to give them a get out of jail card. It wasn’t intentional (just as I hope the victim card wasn’t intentional).  Perhaps there was fear or even not knowing what to say.  Perhaps, there was just a sense of not realizing the depth of pain that could last a lifetime.  People grow weary in picking people up all of the time.  I get it.  I crashed and burned this week because I was tired of being a rock.  By choosing to focus on the positives, I was able to get past the anger and resentment in my heart. While some of the people I forgave took more effort, I finally decided that I wanted my heart to belong to me and to making something positive come out of the worst day of my life.



I have learned to fight for my relationships friend, family, and people in my life.  I no longer look at my relationships as dispensable.  It isn’t always easy and sometimes people can hurt us.  I do forgive easily because I learned that maybe there won’t be another day.  I had a good marriage and friendship with my Phil, but I was playing a stupid game the day he was killed.  I cannot take back that choice to wait him out, and I know we would have laughed about it had he lived, but he did not.  I am stuck with knowing there was a reason for him not communicating and wondering if he knew I was upset the day he was killed.  That is ONE singular thing that causes me to fight for the people in my life even when I stand bowed and the tears streak my face.  This does not mean that I do not need to set some boundaries, but it means that the stupid games are ended when I recognize that I am playing them.  I control my behaviors and my reactions.


Faith has changed.  My faith is still the core of who I am, but I no longer look at God as Santa Claus.  Hear me out.  I prayed every single day for Phil’s safety.  Many people did.  I focused on the Bible verses that said , “Ask any thing in my name, and I will give it,” and “Where two or three are gathered in my name…”  The problem was that I never thought of the rest of those verses….”In accordance to my will.”  Do I believe that God could have stopped the evil in that room that day?  Yes, but I also believe that people are given a choice.  I believe that God knew the outcome from the start, but that the vile monster had to be given a choice.  My faith is still very dynamic, but it is different now.


Time matters.  Words matter. For many years, I put things off.  I told people they mattered and then I didn’t invest the time that I should have invested.  I fight for my relationships now because time is such a gift.  Though I am far from perfect, I try to build people up.  Yes, I get cranky and yes, I want to say ugly things.  I just don’t very often.  I want to live my values and to do what I can to make a difference in the world. This transparency has made me vulnerable, but it does not equate to crying victim. Vulnerability has led to a greater appreciation of what I have been given, the people in my life, and the dreams I carry.  I no longer wait for any of it.  I live my Bucket List, I live my values, I live my heart.


I have learned that my heart can love again.  Loving another person does not mean that Phil is replaced nor does it mean I know where the relationship is going.  For the longest time, I felt like letting another person in meant that it somehow negated the passion and the love Phil and I shared.  It doesn’t.  It means that I am richer and a better person for allowing my heart to grow.  The difference between what I felt for Phil and what I feel for another is that because I know how short life can be, I forgive easier, invest more, and look for ways to show I care.  I should have done more of that with my Phils, but I am proud to recognize that I am not the same person who often made my spouse last priority.


Finally, the biggest change is in trusting myself.  I do.  I recognized the power of this change last night.  I know I can survive the storms of life.  I know that I see the good in people.  I know that I am a better version of me.  I also know that I am strong enough to weather any storm in life.  I am strong enough to stand up for myself.  I don’t always run away any more.  That is huge considering that I have always run.  I ran to Germany to avoid what was happening in CO.  I had a moment of clarity in that I recognize that I can run to anywhere I want and I can do anything I want and it isn’t going to be because of a knee jerk reaction.  I have made good choices rooted in the power of prayer and the support of my friends.  I have this.  I own this and I like who I am.  I am not perfect, but who is?  I cannot be everything to everyone and that is okay too.  I can just be the Linda Lou who does not carry a pink victim card, but who own the polka dots and who wears the rose colored glasses because I like the world I see from those glasses.