Faith over Frustration

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”                   

                                                                               Psalm 34:18 ESV                           

Can I get an Amen on how much we miss our “handyman” around our homes?!

My husband was the ultimate “handyman” around our house. He could look at any situation and in his creative mind come up with a solution to make it work better.

I was reminded of this recently when I had to tackle an issue as a result of one of my husband’s ingenious work. He designed and installed a drain pipe to catch the over flow of pool water away from our deck. It was a genius idea. The pipe carried the water away, which over time could have damaged our deck. It also carried away pesky bugs and foliage debris.

But, what I didn’t know, was the need for this drain pipe to be flushed on a regular basis. A scheduled cleansing of pure water to flush the pipe to keep it clean and running free was needed. So, after months of no cleaning, I learned real quick the consequences. Stagnant water began to sit on my deck as a result of a completely clogged pipe. And as I began to tackle this clogged pipe, I thought how perfect an illustration it was in how I was feeling.

The past few months, my life has felt just like that clogged pipe. Clogged with frustrations. An abundance of frustrations! Frustration upon frustration pouring over me clogging my heart and thoughts. You know the feeling when every day presents another challenge and you feel as though you are drowning?

I am ashamed to say it, but, I have let these frustrations grab ahold and cause a struggle with my faith. A struggle not in the sense of questioning God’s faithfulness, but, more in the sense of questioning, “why the abundance of problems?”  And if I can continue to be honest, I have been living in complete defeat lately.

Frustrations were winning and controlling my life. How did I get to this level? I am the first one to stand up and give testimony of how faithful God has been to me since my husband’s death. How could I allow these pesky annoyances to become so debilitating!

As I move towards freeing myself from this debilitating feeling, let me share a few of my steps toward that goal.

  • Own the Struggles   

I have made a hand written list and I am laying them at the Cross. While God already knows what my struggles are, giving them to Him acknowledges His sovereignty.

  • It’s Okay To Say No

I am clearing my life of commitments for awhile (the ones I can). By clearing some time, I am able to spend more time in fellowship with God in study and prayer. Both necessary to conquer any struggles we may have.

  • Relish Solitude

 I am taking some time for me right now. I am scheduling in time for exercise and focusing on healthy eating. I am taking time to slow down and enjoy the little things like evening strolls and reading. It’s okay to not conquer life at mach speed all the time.

I don’t like the feelings I’ve had recently. As a child of God, I want to be strong and a constant testimony to His faithfulness. I do not want to be a weak Christian. And yet it is during these times He reminds me,

 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,  for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.                                                                                        

                                                                                        2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

His grace will not permit us to fall. His strength and power is manifested even greater by sustaining our weaknesses. And ultimately His power is like a tent over us, giving us shelter, protection, and rest. He is with us. Always. The promise of Grace will never fail us.

Precious Father, thank you for reminding me that it is Your Grace that carries me through the floods of frustrations. Thank you, Lord, for giving us protection and rest through Your Grace. May all my widowed sisters and I glorify Your strength through our weaknesses. Amen


 

My life took a radical turn in the spring of 2009 when the “C word” was introduced into our family.  Cancer.  My healthy husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and life as we knew it would never be the same.  I was able to live the words “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” as I walked along side this fight for his life.  After a timg_2753wenty month battle, God called my love home in the wee hours of an October morning in 2010.  I was devastated and could not imagine how I would be able to move forward without the love of my life by my side.

The answer was simple.  Jesus.  His love.  His mercy.  His grace.  He carried me when I was at my lowest.  And I carried Him in my heart even when I did not understand.  He has been faithful in His promises –  “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.”  Psalm 68:5                                                           

I love reading, baking and long walks along the Florida coastline.  A good portion of my time is spent flying around the country as a flight attendant for over thirty years.  My husband and I were blessed to have shared twenty six years of marriage.  As I watch our daughters grow up, I enjoy seeing his traits and teaching evolve in their character.  He is greatly missed by his three girls.  But, he would be so proud to know we continue to fight the good fight and living out loud for our Savior.

See more from Bonnie at http://anewseason.net/author/bvickers

Read more about overcoming frustrations by Sherry and Kit.

 

God Writes My Story

“So how did your husband die?”

This question can be a real conversation stopper for some widows.

I have been learning this lesson for the past five years. The final moments of one chapter of my story and the beginning of the next have changed my perspective dramatically. Only God really knows our whole story, and sometimes it is complicated.

“I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Isaiah 46:9b-10a (ESV)

My husband’s death certificate states cause of death as suicide, although the circumstances surrounding his death were so different than what people expected to hear. I answered honestly when people asked what happened, so it hurt when false assumptions were shared about how and why he died. It did not change the truth, but it hurt because some did not seek the truth before they spoke to others.

They did not know that:

  • due to insomnia he was on a prescription sleep medication that began to alter his personality for thirteen days before he died. Our family witnessed his strange behavior but we all, including him, linked it to his lack of sleep.
  • he called me for help that April morning, panicked and confused in his hotel room when he realized he had wounded himself in his drug-induced haze.
  • we had eleven precious minutes on the phone to say “I love you”: I promised to get help to him as quickly as I could and he, struggling to breathe,  whispered repeatedly how much he loved me
  • as I begged him to hold on, I could hear the paramedics yelling as they broke in the hotel room door. They closed his phone as he said the last “I love you” I would ever hear from him, then they worked unsuccessfully to save his life. At that moment, God wrote the final word in my husband’s story.

As I received the news of his death rather than expected news about his hospital transport, God began the new “Widow” chapter of my life by giving me “the peace that surpasses all understanding”. Although there were times when I had to push back against fear of the unknown, there was never a time when I doubted that God was still writing my own story. He taught me to rejoice in suffering, and He taught me to trust Him with the future.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

There are still things people do not know about my husband’s story. None of these things change who he was, the life he lived, or how he impacted my life for good. He was a sinner saved by grace just as I am, and I will see him again one day.

This experience changed me and showed me my own limited view of life –now I try not to assume anything about a person’s story; each one is unique. Only God knows how any life plays out from beginning to end. He always knows what is for our good and for His glory, even if we cannot see it at the time. In our family we have heard some of the good that has come from my husband’s death. Many people have said their faith was strengthened and at least one person chose not to end her own life because of our testimony; my husband’s death was not in vain. 

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look to Jesus because He is the author and finisher of our faith. I know He can be trusted to write the end of my story as well.

Father, please help us to give grace to others who don’t seem to understand the daily struggles we experience, and help us not to make assumptions because we do not know what others are going through. Please give us daily peace and faith to trust that You alone are the Author and Finisher of our faith and to trust You to write our whole story. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

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How Long, Lord?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

A letter to God after years of single motherhood.

It’s been years, Lord.

My soul is tired.  

My arms and legs are tired.

My heart still yearns for what I lost.

I’m supposed to trust you, Lord.

And it’s not like I’ve never trusted You. When my kids were small, and I raised them alone, You took my hand, and led me through every turn.

But it’s been nine years of raising these children without Tom, Lord.

I try not to count, and when I pick up the count again, it means I’m tired, and  I fail to trust and I fail to understand.

I fail to understand why You guided me away from marrying for all these years when I so long for companionship.

I fail to understand why no simple financial solution has made up for the sacrifices I made to stay home and homeschool my children after Tom passed away.

I can thank You for my support network, the gifts and abilities You gave me, and the opportunities I’ve had to meet potential suitors.

But really, none of that fixes the hole that keeps reopening every time I think “nine years–how much longer, Lord?” 

And when that hole reopens, it’s like I’ve stepped out into the cold on purpose. And I just stand there, shivering with my lonely thoughts and my back towards You. 

But You’re still there.  Reaching out to me and handing me a coat.

And at times, I have to be honest, Lord, I simply won’t take it. I kid myself that I’d rather freeze than take help from You. 

I know what that’s about.

I’ve trusted you before, and You never fail me. It’s just that every time I choose to trust You, it means giving something up–actually giving everything up! Trusting You means letting all else go.

I remember a time four years ago when I almost stepped away from You.  The world told me I needed a husband. They told me You would bring me one. I thought I found one. The courtship was wonderful. I thought You had found a prince for me.

Until the engagement began, and suddenly I felt a frost come in. The one that was sweet and kind while we dated grew chilling as my children and I were presented with his stringent terms of a marriage in a joyless home.

You reached out with Your coat and told me to come on in. But trust You?  Give up my fiancé? The one that would provide a home and a new identity–away from widowhood? 

I was confused and scared–what would this unbelieving man do to the hearts and faith of my boys who were so focused on You?  I shivered at the thought. Shivered, but still stood there in the cold, considering a godless future over what You had to offer.

Why would I even consider it? Thank you, Father, for allowing that situation to get colder and bleaker, until I finally reached for whatever You had to offer!

I stepped out of the cold and into Your arms.

And it’s still hard. But it’s real. You are real.

And when I’m tired and my heart hurts because I’m still without a husband and my finances are strained, I think with gratitude that it was worth it because I chose to follow You and raise my children in You and serve the widows for You instead of following a wealthy man and serving myself.

But still I’m cold, meaning I’ve taken my focus off You again. 

Let’s be gut honest–I don’t always trust You, God.  Your Word says to, but there are times I grow so weary I forget to open Your Word. I’ll instead get caught up in reading Facebook or emails when I know where Your Truth is. It’s like I’m choosing to go back out in the cold.

What’s wrong with me? I know Your Word says to trust You, but do I reach for it? Like this morning as I write this, I’m spinning in circles trying to figure my own way out of my pain while Your Word  just sits there on the shelf.

And so I will end this prayer with this: I will stop spinning and grab hold of Your Word and trust.

It’s not like I feel like trusting You, but it isn’t always about me, is it, God?

Amen.

And as I ended this prayer, I opened His Word to Proverbs 3:5.Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

A new understanding is exactly what I need, I thought, just before the phone rang.

It was my grown stepdaughter. I told her about the chill in my heart. About my questions. Could I trust God? Why this long without a husband?

“Don’t you see?” She began, her words draping over my shoulder like God’s warm coat, bringing me in from the cold. “If you had married that wealthy, difficult man, you would never have gotten that ministry going. Those four boys would never be the kind hearts that they are today.  You would never have had the time or the heart to reunite my brother and me with our four little brothers, and you may never have had the time to show me how to walk with God. I love you.”

I love  you too, God.  Would you please put a coat on my widow sisters as well? Amen.

 


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

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I Struggle!

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22 ESV

 

Sometimes I feel like I could just write this one sentence and everyone would agree.

I struggle. PERIOD.

Enough said for widows and anyone who suffers loss, women, broken people, those with illness or disabilities, men, teens, Christians, unbelievers, old, young, rich and poor, everyone….

We all struggle.

I’m not “Super Susie Sunshine Christian” trying to make everyone around me believe that I have it all together and walk through life with no worries, pressures, or struggles.  I am a real woman trying to serve a very real God. Which I think will be a book someday, but for now, it’s just who I am. I’m on staff in this ministry, on staff at my church, own a business, founded a nonprofit, and yet most days I’m just trying to get out of bed and be dressed. That’s it; all I’ve got.

I struggle with lies of the enemy about my place, my worth, my value, my impact. I have less years to live than I’ve already lived. Will my life make a difference? I struggle with grief and brokenness, self image, weight and beauty, with financial decisions and provision. I struggle with words and thoughts that are not in, of, and for God.

Most people who meet me during the course of a day would not think this is true of me. By God’s grace alone, most days I make it past dressed and out of bed. I speak for a living, so I have to work hard to craft my people skills and my God given talents and gifts. I sing, write and travel. My desire is to empower everyone, I am allowed to speak into, with a glimpse of how to become their best selves. I want His light to shine through me. I KNOW God, I TRUST God and I try to LIVE God out-loud. I know how to take thoughts captive and command the enemy to flee not by my power, but by the power of Christ in me. Yet, there are still days when I struggle.

The difference is I have hope even when I struggle. Hope tomorrow will be a better day. That it will be a highlight reel day, instead of a cutting room floor day. Hope I can pull it together, because I get on my knees and let it go. Hope God will indeed be who He says He is; my redeemer, my rescuer, the lover of my soul.

Hope.

Hope is the most powerful tool of the human mind, the most sought after human emotion, and the only thing that some of us cling to on the worst days. God has a great deal to say about hope. This four letter word is mentioned over 120 times in the Bible. He knew we would NEED hope and as always, He provided.

Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. 

Proverbs 23:13 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

I Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I have no idea what you struggle with, but I want you to know today, if you struggle, it’s okay. We all do. You ARE NOT the only one! Grab hold of this fact, hope can overcome any of our struggles if our hope is found in the Lord.  Lay claim to His power, His strength, His promises. The struggle may be real, but in Christ there is truth and power. He is reality! The enemy has already been defeated and the victory has already been won.

Let your prayer today be a way to call it out; “I am victorious in Christ. He carries my burdens!” Jesus, my hope is in You. Amen!


 

Tcas1

Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012 after losing her best friend, Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

Would you like to schedule Teri or another team member to speak at your next church event? Contact her at admin@anewseason.net

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

Posts similar to this one by other authors: Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?  & Breathing in Hope Read more

I Am Made New

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold , all things are become new.  

2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

It’s been five years and seven months since my husband, Bill, got promoted to Heaven.  When he let go of my hand and took the Savior’s hand and walked into Glory, I was a different person than I am now.

I was a planner and organizer then.  I planned everything and had a back-up plan for the plan.  I researched everything and made lists.  I was goal oriented – results based.  I was a rule follower; a goodie-two-shoes, if you will.  A loyal person who dug in when the going got tough.  I was bitter sometimes; judgmental, at times.

Then, as my life with Bill was snatched away, I felt at times I was left with nothing…no one…empty…alone…

As I wandered the beginning of this grief journey, I was adrift.  I was numb.  I was so empty and aimless.

I remembered how my Bill always got back up.  He always took the next step.  There might be a lot of time between steps, but he always took the next step.  He also always looked to the Savior.  I wanted to honor him and the brave life he lived and, in an effort to gain focus, I thought about what made him so special and that’s what came to me.  So, because I didn’t know what else to do, I just tried to live each day in an honoring way to Bill.  Step by step; minute by minute; moment by moment , I walked this path looking up at the Savior and thinking about how Bill would have reacted in my situation.

Then days turned into months and months turned into years and I continued this step by step, the looking up approach.  I started to breathe on my own.  I found myself laughing more.  I cut my hair.  I started buying new clothes.  I changed my makeup brand.  I started trying to do things that challenged me and pulled me from comfortable to uncomfortable.

I am not a singer…so, I signed up to sing a solo at church.   I (with the help of my friend, Eileen) pulled out a rock garden and put in a mulch bed with plantings.  I installed a four foot by fifteen foot backyard above-ground pool.  I put together an 8-drawer dresser, nightstand, desk, and two chairs for my daughter’s apartment.  I raked my front yard tree leaves (21 bags).  I scraped and painted a spot on the wall that was damaged.  I replaced a door knob.

All of these things are new things I’m doing and learning, and they are adding to me and changing me.  This “planner” was just a few days ago called spontaneous and impulsive. People say I’m “funny and must not have a care in the world”.

I share all of this to tell you that on this journey I have changed.  At first, I thought I was doing what Bill would do.  But, now, I see that it was Christ the whole time.  Refining me.  Loving me.  Still working on and in me.  Christ made this journey possible and needed me to take it in order to mold me into who I am today.

In Christ, I am a new creature.  The old has passed away and the new is here.  I’m enjoying getting to know the new person I am in Christ.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for this journey.  I am so grateful for Your ability to mold me into a new creature.  Thank You!  


Sherry LookSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

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SOS (Sudden Onset Sleepies)

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV)

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed you suddenly felt sleepy?

I hadn’t felt that reaction to stress since those early days after the funeral, but I felt it again recently.

It was one of those weeks with tax returns, senior graduation planning, family summer scheduling and promised ministry duties. I simply had to meet all of these deadlines.

So, I hunkered down and began drilling through the mound of paperwork on my desk.

I was chugging along when something stopped my progress dead in its tracks—a drawn-out phone call with automated voice menus, hold times and customer service reps who kept forwarding me along to another, giving me plenty of time to think about all the tasks building up like a logjam.

While on hold, I found myself fighting a sort of shut-down dance. It started with a buzz of tension that crawled up my spine and bounced about in my head, and quickly turned into an overwhelming urge to do one thing, and only one thing—sleep. It were as though my eyelids would have to be propped up with toothpicks just to get through that phone call. And as soon as I hung up, boom! I collapsed into a twenty minute snooze.

The nap was easy to manage in my life as a homeschool mom with no office job to stop me.

But I wondered, once I step back into the work world, won’t I need a better way to handle stress?

God created in us an ability to manage our emotions in so many ways. Growing sleepy as a reaction to my mound of papers was a red flag telling me to work through the underlying problem—-stress.

What can I learn from Martha?

She rushed about preparing the home for her guests and grew anxious when Mary let go of those hospitality duties enough to relax and relate to Jesus.

I pictured Martha outside of the kitchen, then warped into modern times—sitting in front of a laptop with a cell phone to her ear, pressing hard to get all that work done. If Jesus kindly called Martha out on her misplaced priorities in the kitchen, doesn’t He also call us out when we let the whirlwind of today’s information age tie us up in knots? Was my sleepy reaction a wake up call to slow down and stop being a Martha?

God calls us to remember what’s important. Romans 12:2 tells us “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

I prayed. God, how can I change my routines so that this overwhelmed feeling doesn’t escalate again?

Then I sat, breathed and took in what He had to say. Enjoy what I’ve put on your plate!

Exactly. The reason logjams happen is that I’m piling responsibility after responsibility on my plate and then rushing about bopping down every deadline that pops up its annoying head. In the process, I’ve set aside precious daily routines that kept me in Mary’s world—exercising and getting in His word each morning, keeping my home tidy, spending time each day writing, having relaxed and spontaneous connections with my friends, keeping a handle on my finances, eating right and taking time to enjoy my time in the kitchen.

I’m now unpacking what needs to change in my life to bring Mary back. Would you pray with me? I bet you have a Mary in you just waiting to come out.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the mechanisms You’ve built in each and every one of us to warn us when we’ve flown too close to the sun and need to slow down. Would you guide me through the steps I need to take to open up time and joy in my schedule? Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

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Roots

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that “no root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.   

Hebrews 12:15 ESV

Have you ever heard the saying, “Choose better over bitter?”

As a woman who’s had to bury my husband at the age of forty-two, I’ve had to make an intentional effort to practice choosing better over bitter. Sadly, I’m not always successful, but thankful that God gives grace and forgiveness, so I can try to do better the next time around.

After reading the above verse in Hebrews chapter twelve, I’ve come to realize how susceptible I am as a widow to be cultivating a crop of bitterness. Bitterness starts out as a seed called hurt, as the roots grow taller and stronger, the hurt matures into anger. The anger grabs on and tries to suffocate the fruit that comes from giving grace and practicing forgiveness.

As widows, we’ve all had to deal with some big hurts in our lives before our husbands’ deaths and subsequently, after  their deaths as well. Hurtful words, “glass house judging”, being left out because we’re not part of a couple anymore, harsh chatter, feeling invisible and the actual loss. If we’re not careful, all of those issues can make the soil of our hearts ready for the seed of hurt to mature and become a bumper crop of bitterness.  It’s all a vicious cycle, and we use our hurt and anger to decide who is worthy of receiving the “grace of God.” God gets our attention and reminds us, He alone is in charge of choosing who is worthy. He knows the whole story, therefore, He is the best one to judge the situation. We do not know the whole story, therefore, we’re disqualified in the judging department. The discernment He gives about the situation isn’t meant to assist Him in the judging, but is a call to prayer.

Some tell-tale signs you might be raising a crop of bitterness ..

  • You keep re-hashing hurts over and over again
  • You’ve told people about the hurts you’ve experienced more than you’ve been praying about it.
  • You’re having a hard time praying.
  •  You’re finding it hard to have daily quiet time with God and His word

The most important aspect that the “root of bitterness” impedes is the ability to move forward into what Christ has for me. As I write, I realize the enemy wants to stop my pace. He wants me to get so exhausted from the disappointments of people that I walk away from Christ’s calling. Our purpose is to bring Christ glory and to share our story with others. Our calling involves people. The enemy knows this truth and he’s going to try to discourage us and put up roadblocks anyway he can be successful.

The best way to deal with the “roots of  bitterness” is to grab them by their tops and pull them out completely.  Don’t let those roots have one more bit of your territories to wreak havoc.

  • Pray and ask God to remove all those “roots of bitterness” and to give you an immediate warning when you try to replant those roots. Repeat.
  • Vent to Christ about the hurts you’ve experienced. He’ll bring you peace.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Try to re-establish some quiet time with Christ and His word.

Dear Lord, We want to repent and ask You to remove the roots of bitterness in our lives by their tops and leave no remnant of them in the soil of our hearts. Please help us to realize the importance of producing the fruit of forgiveness and grace as we move forward in our lives with You. In Your Mighty Name, amen.  


 

12921152_10208877176116434_1213085998_n Jill is a writer/contributor for A Widow’s Might and aNew Season Ministries. Jill is smitten by the     northern shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is her sanctuary. She takes every opportunity to spend time sinking her toes in the sand or swimming in its crystal clear water. In the spring of 2010 she experienced the hardest time of her life when her husband died in a motorcycle accident. She’s spent the last five years learning about the importance of walking by faith and not sight. Jill is now the torchbearer of the legacy her and her husband started twenty-five years ago. She is a mom to three strong and independent girls. Her most important goals are to honor Christ in everything she does, and to live life to the fullest in honor of her husband.

 

Want to read more articles by Jill? Click here

Other articles you might enjoy reading: Growing God Roots by Teri

Stop Feeding the Dragon by Kit

 

Unexpected Hugs

So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 1 Kings 19:10-12 NIV

I stood, arms hugging my body, back to the rest of the world, protecting my bruised heart…missing my husband. I was having a bad day…a very very bad day. Sunday morning worship had lost its luster, and I had closed the door to my heart just as tightly as an oyster.

I struggled through the service, just waiting to go home and lick my wounds. I stood at the closing song, ready to bolt.

But…as soon as the notes of the closing song died down…here came Kaila.

I have known Kaila most of her life. While her disabilities might be off-putting to some, to me she has always been a sweet reminder that love comes in different packages. Her hugs are given out to many as she sees a need. I truly believe she has a special connection with the Father as to when.

I have been the recipient of her hugs before…but not like this one. She literally ran to me and grabbed me. I was gratified…I knew I needed a hug, and God knew I would not turn it down from precious Kaila (though I had been turning them down from others all morning). I squeezed her and relaxed my hold, ready to break free…but she held on tighter…an uncomfortable amount of time passed. Five to ten minutes!

And that is when I knew. God had sent Kaila. He gave her a message directly for me, to touch a dark place in my soul no one else could touch that day. As tears slid down my cheeks, and Kaila’s mom stood trying to figure out why the hug was so long, I let go…of my pain and hurts, of my “right” to them. I relaxed into the hug, seeing it for what it was. A crack began in my jaded heart, and I felt the soothing balm of the Father’s love start to heal.

I am constantly amazed at the way the Father chooses to reveal Himself to me. Sometimes it is loud love, there for all to see. Sometimes it is in the long, sweet hug of a young woman the world might consider too damaged to be of much good.

Sisters, we are still human. We are not immune to the hurts of this world just because we are widows. Sometimes, in fact, those hurts can be magnified since we must face them alone.

But…we have a God who is there and always reaching out to us. Our job is to see Him when He does…to seek Him wherever He may be found.

As we rapidly approach Christmas, it can be hard to see Him…amidst the tinsel and cyber sales and preparations…and amidst the sad echo in our own hearts. But…He is there. Reaching out to us, waiting for us to relax into the hug He sends, regardless of its package.

Seek Him, sisters! Watch carefully for how He appears to you this season…every season! Let Him be the balm for your Gilead, the Prince bringing you peace! He may be loud, or He may be a still, small voice…but He is there. Know it…believe it…lean into it…and embrace it.

Father, this life is hard alone at times. In these raw and real moments, help me to see You. I know You are reaching for me. Praise You, You always are! Give me the strength to reach for You…even when I am hurt and sad, even when life swirls around me and I am not sure I want to be a part of it. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

 397556_10203492525062428_182189435_nLiz Anne Wright is a homeschooling mom of four boys who enjoys meeting new people, walking, and reading. Since losing her husband in November of 2007, she has felt led to reach out to the grieving. With the help of friends, she started a local widows’ ministry. She also renewed her childhood passion for writing and began her own blog, and a book about her widow experience. In all that she has been able to accomplish since the death of her husband, she gives full credit to her Lord and Savior. She is very thankful that, while she is very ordinary, the God she serves is extraordinary. Because of that, she is able to rebuild after her loss. She is not just surviving, but thriving! To Him be the glory!

 Would you like to read more articles by Liz Anne Wright?  Click here

 For more articles like this, read Grief is a Messy Casserole, Chasing God’s Whisper and An Apple.

What’s in Your Eye?

 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:3-5

 

Have you ever prayed for God’s grace and mercy? I’m sure you have, each of us on this grief journey most likely pray for grace and mercy at some point along the way. I recently suffered another heartbreak in my life. Sometimes, I get weary and just plain tired of heartbreak. It’s as if I want to scream, “God have I not suffered enough? Has my price not been great enough?” Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that even in the midst of my tragedy, I am still abundantly blessed. But sometimes, this life and its struggles just wear me out. It’s then that I’ve to go “old-school” and simply fall on my knees.

There is nothing that says we have to pray on our knees for it to be heard or have “more power”, but I find that when I am on my knees, my heart changes. When I still have the strength to stand, I don’t seem to need God as much or completely depend upon His power. When I am on my knees, I am saying, “God, this is Yours. I have no control, no resource within myself, all I have is You. I bow before You.” Yet, isn’t that EXACTLY where He wants us to be? Isn’t being totally dependent upon Him what truly gives us strength and power, because it’s His not ours?

As I was going through this recent heartbreak, I found myself being critical of others involved and how they handled the situation. As I prayed through it, I felt convicted. I ALWAYS want God to show grace and mercy to me, but I was not showing near enough of it to those around me, nor was I sure how merciful I wanted Him to be with them. WRONG-I was just wrong. It is the Matthew 7 speck vs. log thought process. I wanted to point out to God what they did wrong; like He needs my help. I wanted God to heal me and change them.

Grief is hard and messy. Not everyone grieves the same way and not everyone respects the way we grieve. Yet, if I want God to be loving and kind to me, I have to be willing for Him to be just as loving and kind to them. I can’t ask for God to be creative with me and not allow Him to be just as creative with others. We are all His works in progress. Our stories are not finished and our pictures are not yet completed. He is working His masterpiece in each of us. Some days I have to remember we ALL need grace and mercy. At the end of the day, I simply need to ask God to heal and change me, (that’s examining my own eye) and to have His way in the lives of those around me.

Lord, Help us to love others as we love ourselves and to work on removing the logs from our own eyes, through Your healing hands. In Jesus name. 

  

.Tcas1Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012; after she lost her best friend Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry; with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

For booking information, please contact her at admin@anewseason.net or call 501-438-9028

To read more articles by Teri, click here.

Other articles on this topic: Finding the Good & A New Year… Another Try

Goodness

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

She stands and shares how her faithful God has answered her prayers with “yes” and life is great and God is good.  People smile and encourage her.

I sit in silence, aware that my prayers were not answered with the “yes” I desired, my life is not the “great” I dreamed it would be; but my God is still faithful and good.

Bless it.  My mind can’t help but wonder what her picture perfect life must be like.  If I think back, I realize I used to be her.  Shame on me, I sin in my frustration over her “easy life”.  I confess my jealousy to God.

Widowhood is ugly.

God is beauty.

The longing for our departed is overwhelming.

God is un-overwhelm-able.

When you have been traumatized by medical treatments and procedures yet still known the comfort of God in the midst of endless hospital stays;

when you have experienced loss and truly felt the peace that passes all understanding;

when you have stood flanked by your children, with your arms lifted high in praise, singing “Blessed Be the Name” at your husband’s service, then you know the extent of full surrender.

You will know the goodness of your Lord on a whole new level when you have crawled through the darkest of valleys and thrilled at the tiniest sliver of His light reaching through the darkness to you.

You will comprehend a love so deep, a faith so intense, a truth so piercing.

The goodness of the Lord is not dependent on how He answers my prayers or if my life is going the way I want it to.  The goodness of the Lord is just that:  HIS GOODNESS.  It does not waiver.

On my good days, God is good.  On my bad days, God is good.  He just is.

Widowhood is lonely.

God is ever-present.

Our shattered pieces seem irreparable.

God is a God of redemption and restoration.

I know a depth of my God’s character that I didn’t know before this journey.  He has revealed facets of Himself that I cannot begin to put into words.  His presence has carried me through horrendous events and His goodness has been constant.

Lord, I marvel at You.  Eternity is not enough time to explore Your goodness.  Thank You for revealing more of Yourself to us in the depths of despair.  Amen.

 

Lori Reynolds StrellerLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season /A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

If you are interested in having Lori speak at your church or function, email her at admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles written by this author: http://anewseason.net/author/loris/

Other articles on this topic:

Jesus is Enough by Bonnie Vickers

God is Sovereign. I am not. by Ami Atkins