Hello, my name is Lori Bohning. I would like to share my story with you….
In 2011, my husband, Rob, was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Medullary Thyroid Cancer. I remember hearing the word, “CANCER” and I suppose a part of me thought it would just go away after some treatment, and we would get back to our normal lives. The thought of anything else was unimaginable, but little did I know that we were in the biggest fight of our lives.
We, and I say, we, because cancer is a family disease, endured several surgeries, several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and trips to Japan for more innovative treatment. The largest tumor was on my husband’s neck. The hardest was watching someone I adore go through so much. There were not easy decisions in the cancer journey, it was all “what is the best of the worst” decisions to make. I remember listening to the doctor give us the option to cut the largest tumor out of his neck or “watch and wait” to see it grow out of his neck. We walked out of the office and I remember sitting and looking outside a large MD Anderson’s window. I watched so many cars and people go by, and I wondered, “why is everyone so busy?” “What is so important?” My world sat still as my husband and I held hands in silence. It was one of those moments that I will never forget. Life was nothing like I dreamed it to be.
We decided to move forward with the surgery. The surgery was brutal. They had to take 24 inches of my husband’s leg muscle and put it on his neck to cover the hole that the tumor removal left on his neck.
When I walked down the long and cold hospital hallway to see Rob after the surgery, I turned into his room and closed my eyes and caught my breath. When he saw me, all he said was, “Lori, I can’t feel my arm, how will I give the kids a hug?” I tried to convince him that everything would be ok and we would make it through this surgery, but both of us knew this time was different.
Two months after the surgery, on March 16, 2015, my best friend and my beloved, died. I was now standing on the other side of my greatest fear, no longer with Rob by my side and alone to raise our two children. Grief hit me hard, and carrying my children’s tears while grieving was not easy.
When you go through the battlefield, you understand and see life differently. I learned that God never left us, He never left me. I learned that the most beautiful things come out of a storm and the most power comes from the middle of a storm. It’s absolutely sacred. God used my darkest moments to bring me into something I would have never dreamed of. He taught me that joy isn’t the absence of suffering but the presence of God. He taught me to not be afraid to pray, “Thy will be done” because it’s the safest place to be. I often asked, “why God?”, and no, I am not ashamed to admit it. Now (just as I remember Rob saying many times), I asked, “Why not, me?” and embrace the gift and battlefield. I have learned that His power is exalted in my weakness.
In the beginning of my widowhood, I searched for churches and communities with a widow group. I felt very much alone, sad, and often confused. I had a wonderful and supportive group of friends; however, I needed to have connection with others that have experienced a loss of a spouse. A place of refuge where I could release the grief and not feel like I am walking with a bubble around me.
It was God ordained that I came across an organization, called, Stand in the Gap Ministries ( https://www.standinthegap.org/) and spoke with a man on the phone, named Buddy. Stand in the Gap Ministries in Tulsa, Oklahoma serves over 3000 widows, and also serves orphans and prisoners. During our conversation, Buddy told me when he was young, his father died and he watched his mother as a widow. He spoke with me about widowhood, and about their ministry for widows. It was no coincidence that I was brought to that phone conversation a few months after my husband passed away. Two years later, I reached out again to Buddy and Melissa at Stand in the Gap Ministries, and asked what I needed to do to start a widow ministry. I find myself wondering if Buddy’s mother knows that her loss has helped so many widows and bring awareness about widowhood.
It was out of my own need and brokenness, seeing the unmet needs of widows, and knowing how much the Lord comforted me in my time of need, that I felt the Lord calling me to start Beauty from Ashes.
I welcome you here, whether you are a widow, looking to start a widow ministry, or wanting to know the heart of a widow.
God bless you,