And God renewed my strength . . .

He let me soar on wings like eagles. Through God’s love I conquered my fears and doubts!

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”

Romans 8:37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Joshua 1:9, tells us “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This verse resonated with me throughout the next several months. I felt like I was failing my son and my family. I did not feel like I was strong or courageous. I felt like I lived in a constant state of discouragement and sadness. On the outside, I looked strong and courageous, but inside I was crumbling, falling apart. Then I would hear God’s voice saying, “Lynne, be still, be quiet, and know that I am here. I am God. Let me take care of this.” And other times he would say, “Lynne, you are strong and courageous. Look at how far you have come. Look at your faith and how you have leaned on me when you were at your weakest. You know I am here. You know I will lift you through the darkest moments.” And He did just that. Then just when I thought I could not take another step towards a future without Mike, God said, “Lynne, I have plans for you and Patrick. I am not through with either one of you. You need to move on and make a home for you and Patrick” So God presented the challenge, and the search began. Where does a single mother find a house to raise her son, when she has never made such a purchase before? How does she begin to manage a house and a yard on her on while raising a five-year son? Scary? Yes!  Mike and I never owned a house of our own. We rented our entire time together. Overwhelming and intimidating? Yes! I did not even know where to begin or what to look for. However, God knew! He knew I could and would do it! He placed the people in my life that I would need to help us through the next part of the journey.

Oh my, the people and the places in placed in our paths. I will be forever grateful because each person played an incredible part in this journey we were embarking on. God let me ‘soar on wings like eagles’, ‘through His love I was beginning to conquer my fears and doubts.’

Kestral Court, Taylors, SC. We moved in October of 1987. Far enough away from my parents to say we were on our own, yet close enough that a simple call would have my daddy there in minutes to help in any situation. It was a quaint neighborhood, with young couples and their families. Patrick soon made friends with children his age, and I made friends with several couples. It did not take long for God to place the perfect friend in my life, she came at the perfect time. Mary Ann, from the beginning she was a blessing and a support. We laughed, cried, laughed more, watched movies (Dirty Dancing), played Scrabble, laughed at our children, shared stories with each other, spoke often of our faith, and just rejoiced in this friendship God gave us. The winter of 1988 presented the biggest snowfall I ever remember, and with it came such wonderful moments of friendship, fellowship, and growth. Her son, Kevin, was also just what Patrick needed. There was a little bit of an age difference between the two of them, but Patrick looked up to Kevin so much, and it was wonderful to see him laugh and play again. God moments! Oh, the people He places in our lives! Only He could know exactly who we need and when we need them. That big snowfall pretty much had us all at a standstill, yet it did not stop Patrick from showing up at Mary Ann’s door with shorts, t-shirt, and no shoes asking Kevin to come out and play. Mary Ann called just laughing at him and asked if I knew how he was dressed. I quickly responded, “I had no idea, but I was not surprised.” We both just laughed. This was just one moment in this friendship that was developing between the two of us, and that we would both realize would last a lifetime. I cannot imagine my life without Mary Ann, Joey, Holly, Kevin, and Anna during this time. God placed them in our lives for a reason, and I am forever grateful.

Life goes on! At least that was what I presented on the outside. I was still so unsure, scared, and angry because of Mike’s death and being placed in this situation. Patrick was in kindergarten and I enrolled in the master’s program at Furman University. I could not leave him to go to work and teach, but I could go back to school while he was at school.

I think one thing I learned most about God during this time and the years to come, is that He has an incredible sense of humor. I also believe that along with faith in God, love of family and friends; a sense of humor will get us through some of the toughest times in life. We must be able to pray and to laugh. Oh, and sing! Music is so important. Singing praises to God is instrumental in achieving happiness in life. But is was that sense of humor that would be put to the test over the months to come. I just did not know how much I would need it until God placed me right in the middle of the events waiting to happen.

February of 1988, I received a call from my cousin, Deene, telling me that she knew it was still too early but when I was ready to start dating I needed to let her know because she had the perfect man for me. God and Mike were both leading her to introduce us. I told her I just did not know if I was ready for that, but I would let her know when I was. She understood, no pressure. Just remember me when the time comes. The seed had been planted.

March of 1988, I started thinking more and more of Deene’s call and suggestion. Now, you must know I am one of those who believed everyone has one true love in the world. Just one! I believe in the happily-ever-after-love-story. I grew up listening to the romantic music of the 20s, 30s, and 40s. I can remember dancing in the living room to “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me”, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and so many more. I watched movies like “An Affair to Remember.” Life was all about one-true-love and living-happily-ever-after. I was in awe of the relationship my parents had, and that was all I knew. One-true-love! However, her suggestion stayed on my mind, and I called her one night and told her she could give this man my number. He could call, and we would talk, but I was not making any promises. Then Steve Murrell called and life was never the same. Our first phone call lasted 2 ½ hours. We had so much in common, there was an instant connection. I later found out that although I was hesitant for legitimate reasons, Steve was hesitant to call me until Deene showed him a picture of me. Then he called! Sense of humor, Lynne, sense of humor.

April of 1988. We talked a couple more times, then he asked me out. My heart stopped! It was one thing to talk to him on the phone, but how do I go out on a date with him? Would that not be betraying Mike? How would Patrick feel? Yet, it was exciting and scary. I had not been on a date since 1975. How did one act on a date in 1988? Nervously, I told him yes! We could go on one date. I was actually very excited. The date was set.

However, Mary Ann was not so sure of this guy who called her friend out-of-the-blue and asked her out. She did not trust him. She wanted me to get a complete background check on him. We talked, laughed, and decided to wait on the background check. Let us just wait and see where we go from here.

Then the first date came. I do not think my neighbors trusted Steve either. All of a sudden at the time he was supposed to pick me up, my neighbors find themselves outside standing in their driveways, standing in their yards, and just watching as he drives down the street and into my driveway. Before he could get out of the car, my phone rings. “Lynne, he is in your driveway. He is getting out of the car. He is carrying red roses in his hand. Do you need me to come down?” Laughing, I responded, “I think I am okay, but thank you for caring.” As Steve came inside, and after we formally introduced ourselves to each other, I asked Patrick to come and meet him. I heard muffles from the bathroom, and Patrick refused to come out. I went to check on him and apparently, he had a sudden onset of an upset stomach and stomach pains; and was not coming out of the bathroom. Babysitter stepped in and handled the situation. Yes, a sense of humor is truly needed in many situations in life, first dates with concerned neighbors looking on and sons very scared about the future, are just a couple of situations where a sense of humor makes life go a little smoother.

I remember the first date like it was yesterday. I remember the sounds, the smells, and many parts of the conversation. I remember the feelings when he tenderly kissed me goodnight. Yet, I also remember being scared to death because of the emotions being with Steve was causing in my life. Oh, but the excitement! It was so overwhelming. This feeling was so new, yet not so new. I remember the feeling and emotion of my first date with Mike, and then the guilt hit me. How could I do this! That night after Steve left, I remember crying into my pillow. The guilt was suffocating. How did I think I could ever find another love like what Mike and I shared?  “Lynne, remember, everyone has only one true love.” Yet, a part of me knew how I was feeling after one evening with Steve. Then, I remembered God’s voice, “Lynne, I am not finished with your story yet.” Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I remember the doubts and the fears, but I also remember the excitement knowing that God wasn’t finished with me yet, He had plans for both of us, and at that moment I think I knew Steve was part of that plan. It was still so scary, and I still felt doubt and guilt for moving on, but God had given me hope and I knew at that moment He was giving me a future.

Life goes on . . .

God renews our strength when we need it most. He carries us. He calms our fears and doubts. He places people in our lives that will help us through, help us to laugh, give us a shoulder to cry on, and be a friend for life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God! How renewing to know He is always there! Life does go on until His plan is finished, and then it is an eternal life with Him. How wonderful! How comforting!

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