Always of Good Courage – Day 1,826


Always of good courage

1,826 days since my husband took his final breath.

 

Please indulge me as I take time to ponder. How would he see us on this five year anniversary?

There are certain things I know without a doubt. You may recognize some of them in your own circumstance.

He would be:

SURPRISED how much has changed in the world since he was alive, even small things like changes to our city roadways.

I had one of those irrational moments that makes sense only to those who experience grief. One day as I viewed massive changes to the interstate close to our home I began to panic. I worried he wouldn’t recognize how to get home. I then remembered he would never need that information again.

 

PROUD of the accomplishments of our children.

His coworkers mentioned repeatedly during visitation how often he talked about his family. They spoke of how he hurried to get back home to us when he traveled. One sorrow that never fades is that he cannot be physically present for milestones with our children now. However, they can be assured he would be bursting with pride and giving big hugs if he could be there.

 

THRILLED to know his grandson and future grandchildren!

He looked forward to spoiling grands. Though none of them will ever meet him here on earth they will still know who he was and what he loved. Papa G is present in photos and videos. He is mentioned often with love and laughter — he will not be forgotten.

 

PLEASED that I have been always of good courage from the day of his death to the present, have walked by faith, drawn strength from God’s word, and encouraged other widows to do the same.

He loved to serve. He supported anything I pursued, and it made him happy when we helped others. During our last prayer together, he asked God,  “Please shine Your light through my family and through me”. God has done that abundantly and the prayer continues to be answered.

 

HAPPY to know God provided a wonderful man to be my new husband.

Before his first military deployment we argued. He had the nerve to suggest that he would want me to marry again if he died. I adamantly stated it was NOT going to happen! He gently took my face, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You have too much love to give to be alone for the rest of your life. I would want you to remarry.”

I don’t think either of us believed it would become a reality; even twenty years later I did not. I had no intention of obeying his wishes when I found myself alone. But God’s timing is perfect and after almost three years as a widow, He opened my heart to the possibility of new love, then brought an incredible man into my life in a way that was clearly from Him. My first husband got his wish.

 

CONTENT to be exactly where he is right now.

 

Without a doubt,

nothing would entice him to return to this life.

 

He has been in the presence of the Lord every day for the past 1,826 days.

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

 

The Apostle Paul says,

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

 

Lord, while we remain here please help us to walk by faith and not by sight. We want to be always of good courage as we rely on Your direction in our daily lives, through Your word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please make us to continue to shine as a reflection of Your love. 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.

Articles with a similar theme:   Piece By Piece  or Walk This

Unpacking the Memories

“What is it like, Sherry?”

Have you been asked this question about your widowhood? I am at the point on this road that people feel more comfortable asking me.

What is it like to lose your husband, friend, soulmate?  I have given a lot of thought to this, and the best description I can give that others can understand follows:

Think about when you plan and take the vacation of a lifetime — sometimes it turns out better than you expected.  You plan for it, save money, buy tickets, purchase special clothing, pack.

When you arrive at your destination, you begin to experience wonderful things.  You take pictures, drinking in the experience.  No matter how long your vacation is, you have to return home eventually.  You pull out your suitcase to start packing the clothes and souvenirs you know you won’t need for the rest of the trip.  Finally  you pack everything away for the trip home.

There you unpack once more.  As you pull out the clothes, some go in a pile for laundry and others go straight into your closet, unworn.  You find a place for your souvenirs.  Your pictures are printed. Seeing the photos allows wonderful memories to flood through you.  This unpacking brings both good and not-so-good memories and feelings with it.  You often long to return to your vacation, but must stay in your day-to-day world, perhaps saving money for your next vacation.

Grieving the loss of my husband has been like what I described above.  We had a wonderful life – full of memories.  With his death, I had to start packing away parts of that life.  It’s a slow process, because I have kept my “suitcase” on the floor of my bedroom, unlatched– I couldn’t bear to finish unpacking.  Once you totally unpack, the vacation is really over.  I still go to the “suitcase” to take out the souvenirs, handling them carefully, letting them flood my heart with memories.  Wonderful memories.

Each time I unpack and pack this virtual “suitcase”, the sharp pain of my loss lessens.  It doesn’t hurt as much each time I ponder our life together.  There are memories that I would say should go in the laundry pile – hospital visions, bandages, tears.  Then there are the memories that remind me of the breath-taking life we had – his smile, our laughter, shared meals, snuggling.  My heart has a tug of pain when I think of these things, but then it swells with happiness at having been the recipient of such a wonderful love, even if it ended too soon.

As I prepare to commemorate the sixth year since his death, I look back on our wonderful life and do not feel the sharp pain I once felt.  I thank God that He allowed me such a sweet time with my husband and that my memories of that time are still fresh.  I ponder them in my heart, like Mary, the mother of Jesus.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 KJV

I encourage you to go to your “suitcase” and allow yourself to experience the wonderful memories of a life well-lived.  Ponder these memories in your heart, and let the pain be replaced by the sweetness of a wonderful time remembered.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the gift of love and for the wonderful memories we hold in our hearts of time spent with loved ones. Amen


 

Sherry 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 active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 20 years old and is in her second year of 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 

A great article about healing is here by Linda.

 

16 is my number

As 2016 comes to a close and I step into 2017, year 7 of this journey, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness and provision for me and my family.  I wrote the piece here a few years ago, yet it still rings true today.  2016 may have been a tougher one for various reasons; where some prayers went unanswered, where loss was felt, and life didn’t go as planned sometimes(go figure).  But, I still saw God’s fingerprints all over it.  16 is my number!  And I praise God He continues to redeem and restore it.  I pray this article blesses you as much as it did me as I revisited it and prayed over the new year.


“This is the day The Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24 

16 is my number….  Let me explain!

The 16th was the most joyous day around my house for many years.  September 16th was my husband’s birthday, we met on October 16th, and so we chose August 16th as our wedding day.  My reasoning was he never forgot his birthday or the day we met, so our anniversary would be equally as easy to remember.  We celebrated the 16th many times over.  It was our day!

Then my husband’s death changed all that.  He went to heaven on June 16th, and it seemed to go from a joyous day to a cursed day for me.  Each month, I dreaded and loathed it.  16 was a number that had betrayed me.  I marked it off on the calendar the first year every month, 1 month ago, 2 months ago, 3 months ago, 4 months ago…. For a long time I had to begrudgingly acknowledge the 16th and hated how it contained a tangible reminder of all I lost.

Now, I know God knows, because unbeknownst to anyone setting the schedule for our writing team, I am scheduled for my first official team member post and several after on that day.

I also know because without hesitation, I said I wanted the number 16 as my shirt number for a women’s basketball league.  I run around with 16 plastered on my back as I play every Sunday night.

My son wears 16 on every uniform, for every team he plays on now as well.

But wait…what am I thinking? The 16th became cursed, right?

I lead with my heart, and my heart has Christ.  In what seems like an impulsive choice with my basketball team and an odd coincidence with this ministry, I realize it’s entirely the LORD.  When asked what number I’d like my mouth blurted out the number 16 from my heart, before my brain got in the way. When asked if the schedule looked good, I confirmed without even noticing the date was the 16th for the next few months.

God is here and He knows.

God gave me the gift of joyous celebrations on the 16th for so many years.  Satan tried to claim 16 for himself through my husband’s suicide.  But, God knew that someday having all these events fall on the same day would somehow help me go back and remember and also help me move forward.  He knew way back then that now I’d be writing about my journey on the 16th of each month, and that I’d be running around every Sunday joyously on the basketball court with 16 on my back.  He knew that what Satan tried to steal, He’d claim and use for His honor and glory and my good.

It’s amazing to see my life through this date years later.  It’s still a whopper of a few months that hit me almost consecutively: June 16th, August 16th, September 16th, and October 16th.  Of course 3 of these dates no longer carry the joy they once did because of the 4th one.  But, they all no longer feel like they betrayed me either.  They are just days, my days, days The Lord made.

The 16th has been claimed by God as my day.  Now it’s my turn to find ways to rejoice and be glad in it.  Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes that’s hard.  But it’s possible because I have Christ and I can trust Him.  I’ve seen Him work to heal me and make 16 all mine.

Heavenly father, I stand in awe of how you’ve taken the 16th and transformed it, from joyous celebrations, to horrific pain, and then to perfect peace.  I have peace in your words that this day is the day you made for me.  I embrace it, and I ask that you continue to use me to bring honor and glory to you as I share my story about my day, number 16.  I pray that you are with each widow reading this, that you help them to move their day from pain and hurt to a place of peace, as they move forward and see it in a new light.  Lord help us to claim that this is the day You have made, and help us find ways to rejoice and be glad as you heal us.  In your matchless name, Amen.


Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here. 

Articles with a similar theme: He’s Already Proven It and A Hope That Keeps You Going


A Legacy of Life Well Lived

Legacy is a loaded word for me now.  Becoming a widow at 35 years old made me acutely aware of the increased need to leave a legacy for my kids, while fiercely protecting and even nurturing my late husband’s legacy.  

In the beginning it was hard.  My husband died by suicide in a very public manner. The fear and shame of that fact drove me for awhile.  I feared how my very young children would ever live full lives with one parent missing. I was afraid of how damaging this would be for them as they learned the details and reality of their father’s death. I also spent countless hours trying to figure out how I could destroy the statistics they now faced in their own liveswith the hereditary factors of mental illnessI thought I needed to “prove” or “do” something, to create a “worthy” legacy to eliminate the stigma of suicide from all of us.

In the six plus years on this journey, God has healed me in mighty ways.  He’s taught me how to embrace the life He has ordained for me, and claim full victory in Christ over my husband’s suicidal death.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I am not defined by what’s happened to us.  My kids are not destined to become suicide victims, or prone to struggles themselves. 

My God is bigger!

My kids are His, and He has ordained their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

I can fully TRUST Him with their lives and with mine.  (Psalm 91:1-2)

I am a daughter of the KING and not bound by any stigma(2 Corinthians 6:18)

I have come to realize the legacy is in our entire story. That story still unfolds today.  It’s in our children and their limitless, God-designed futures.  Scott’s legacy is in his eternal reward he is receiving right now in Heaven. 

As a widow I get the unique privilege of not only seeing and influencing my husband’s legacy through sharing our story and raising our kids, but I am experiencing a greater sense of the importance in making sure I leave a positive, faith-filled, legacy too

My desire and prayer is to influence my children and anyone I can for the Kingdom.  

want to glorify God even in the midst of so much tough stuff; praying that God will continue to use me and my kids for His greater purposes, and my kids will choose to walk in full victory in Him throughout their lives.  

At the end, I hope the biggest part of my legacy will be I reflected Christ and faithfully followed Him all the days of my life. 


Here are some practical tips for living a legacy now that will impact the Kingdom for eternity:

• Share your story and your faith with everyone you can.
• Lead your home and your kids well rooted in the Lord and His Word. (Deuteronomy 6)
• Tell your kids about their daddies. Remember him well for them.
• Honor God, even in the mire of grief.
• Remind yourself and point your kids to God‘s redemptive plan. (Revelation 21:5)
• Leave fingerprints on this world by actively participating in your church and by making missions a mission.
• Comfort others with the same comfort you’ve been given. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
• Grow your faith through personal, small group, and large group studies.
• Find intentional ways to groyour kids faith.
• Surround your kids with those who’ll point them to Jesus.
• Pray for your kids, for their salvation, for their futuresand for their spouses.
• Pray for your future and seek His will for you now.
• Live life! (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12)
• Trust God in every single way, walking in the shelter of His love, grace, and provision every day. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other posts on leaving a legacy: New Traditions and Something old, something new

Joy & Loss

“I will convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.”

Jeremiah 31:13 (The Message)

Where joy and loss collide.

That’s where I find myself these days.  I’m beyond the intense grief.  I’m beyond the deep pain.  There is joy.  There is healing.  We’ve grown and changed in so many ways.  God is even more known.  We are deeper. Better.

Yet, the loss is still there.  There’s now the moments where the bittersweet tears mix with pure joy. It’s an intimate place.  A deep place.  A place where God stands every time.

God is always there when the joy and loss of this messy life collide. Reminding me of His love and promises to me.

As we move forward and life unfolds, there’s still hard parts.  There’s still times where my husband is missed beyond words.  That will always be and the other day was one of those days.

My husband loved so many things.  But sports, particularly baseball, football, and surfing were amongst his favorites.  On this day one of my sons was old enough and experienced enough to take his daddy’s surfboard out for the first time.  As I stood on the shoreline watching him paddling out and turning to wave to me with utter joy on his face, I replayed the hundreds of times Scott had done that same thing through our years together.  How many times I’d sat and just watched the man I loved so completely enjoy life through surfing the waves of the Jersey Shore.  How his smile would beam towards me and pure joy would exude out of him with each turn and twist on every wave he caught.

As I stood there watching those same emotions coming out of his “mini-me”, the bittersweet tears rolled.  My husband longed for these special moments with all his heart.  My broken, but mended, heart was there instead.

The loss tells me I HAVE to walk these moments.   My joy tells me I GET to walk these moments.  And that’s where the two collide.  That’s where I can take the bittersweet tears that rolled and remember to let joy wash over me because, I GET to have these precious moments that now mean so much more.

With each wave as his confidence built, the depths of my soul began to warm and a smile arose.  God was there.  He was shining down from His place on high and speaking into those deeper places.  Reminding me whose I was and whose my boy was.

Reminding me how much He loves me and my children.  How He has invaded our grief with joy in so many ways.

On this special day, my precious boy surfed on his daddy’s board. I had a front row seat and God bridged the vast gap between the loss we endure and the life we choose to live well.

As I took in this precious moment, I chose to cherish what I have more than mourn what I don’t have.  I chose not to miss what I do have, for what I don’t have.  Joy and loss will collide as I walk forward, as my children grow and cross many wonderful moments and milestones.  I know each will stir up the loss and the missing.  But, I also know joy will meet me there too and I will embrace those moments. I will take them in, slowly and deeply, because I don’t want to miss one second of it.

Salty tears will mix with my pure joy and that’s how I’ll do this thing called life.

Father, thank you for meeting me and loving me right where I am.  Thank you for returning our joy and allowing me to still get all these wonderful and significant moments.  I lift up any sister who is walking this, where the loss is still so vast.  Lord, comfort her and bridge the gap between loss and joy for her in Your matchless ways.  Be THE invader, where grief becomes less and joy in You becomes more.  In Your Precious Name, Amen.

 


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4 Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Similar posts: Finding Joy in Trials & Joy Comes in the Mourning

Get Over It

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

Psalm 25:4

“Get over it!”

Yep that’s me in one of my finer parenting moments.

My son was upset about something that in the moment mattered to him, but to me it was not important.  So out came those lovely words. My son needed love and empathy, but all I gave him were harsh words with no thought for how much they might hurt him.

As a widow of over six years, I’m sure there are those who think I should “get over it” too. Because they see me in a ministry for widows, or hear me boldly claim that I will always love and miss Scott, or that he’s still a big part of who we are, they may believe I’m stuck or living in an unhealthy way.

I’ve never directly been told to get over it.  But, I’ve been sent veiled messages and received comments that certainly intended to say those words.  Things like “if you just try harder to meet someone”, or “it’s uncomfortable and hard to see you and the kids or have you say his name so much.”   Then there’s my favorite, “He’s in such a better place and that must make you happy now.”

Empathy isn’t easy!   It’s hard to go into those deep uncomfortable places with someone.  I too, have stood in judgement and sent veiled messages to others I thought were in a place they shouldn’t be.

Even as a widow, I sometimes judge other widows.

In my first few years, I looked at those years ahead of me and thought, “I won’t be like them at that stage.” Because I had put God in a box and predetermined how I thought this journey should go. I thought grief and loss was a skin I would shed, or a place I would move away from. I thought that at some point God would just “magically” make it all go away.

The truth is, grief and loss go with us. They become a part of who we are until we move onto heaven.

And each of us have a unique journey.  A big part of who we were now resides in heaven.  I may not be in love with my husband or married to him anymore.  But I’ll always love him.  He’ll always be a part of who I am.  My relationship with him and our marriage together has certainly molded who I am now.  My kids are his legacy.  And they want to know him, remember him, and take him with them as they grow up.

So no, I won’t ever get over this.  I won’t be driven by what others think.  I’ll walk my journey.  I’ll keep my eyes on Christ.  But, I’ll remember Scott, and honor him and my Savior every single day. I’ll heal. I will change and grow. I will trust God. But, Scott will always be with us even as we choose to live life to the fullest.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles related to this: Will We Be Married in Heaven?,  Moving Forward, & Moving Toward or Away

Solo Mom

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

I had lunch with a friend awhile back. She told me she was in awe of me.  Not because I’m really awesome, which I usually am until I get out of bed in the morning. But, because I parent three kids all on my own.  Let me just share she’s a new mom, so she’s in that phase of being totally sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I call it “first baby syndrome”!  So to see me do it with three kids, right now to her I look pretty awesome.

Although she’s never there in the morning when we have exactly two minutes before we need to leave for school.  There’s a whole level of crazy she doesn’t see!

The life my kids and I lead is an intimate dance usually meant just for us.

Yet, from the outside in the glimpses she and others might get, we look pretty “good”.  After lunch I sat considering our conversation and her impressions of me, realizing that I am being watched by many; as a woman, as a widow, as a Christian, and particularly as a mom. That fact was heavy!

Because-

I fail every day.  I mess up and make mistakes.  I yell.  I lose my patience.  I say things I shouldn’t. I wonder sometimes if my kids’ poor behavior or attitudes are totally due to my lack luster parenting.

As a solo mom, I have made many bad decisions. And just the other day my teenage daughter reminded me in a “most helpful” way, I don’t follow through with my threats sometimes.

I’m pretty mediocre at best.

I am certainly no one to be watched.

Honestly, solo parenting is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done!

I never have a day off. Every decision is on me. Every time I need to discipline it’s just me.  I can’t “tag” out and pass them off to anyone.  Ever.

I have a village of people who help me.  And I’m blessed by that group in so many ways.  But, the bottom line is, I’m it!  I don’t get any days off.  I can’t call on my hubby to deal with a behavior issue for me.  I can’t talk out the decisions or issues I have with each of them with the guy who got them as well as I do.  When there’s an issue.  It’s just me!

And that’s just the character molding…

There’s also the schedule managing, homework completing, lunch making, clothing washing, appointment managing, taxiing, sport watching, feeding, project completing, and meet every other need I do daily.

So what’s my secret?  What’s the big epiphany to this calling as a widow?  Why does my friend admire me?  Well.  You ready?

I’m a terrible sinful person.  My kids are terrible sinful people. It’s really not us.  It’s all by the blood of Christ.

It’s the Him in us that others see.

We aren’t perfect, yet HE is.

We keep it real.  We are authentic.  We show people it’s okay to be a messy unorthodox family.  It’s okay to have grief as a family member.  It’s okay to not be totally okay.  And yes, I am even showing others, solo parenting is possible by God’s amazing grace, provision, and mercy.

I need daily love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  And I receive that and so much more when I approach His throne and lay it all before Him.

For me, I know for certain, right now there’s no greater time than this, and no greater need than the needs of a widow trying to solo parent her kids.

Father, thank You for the grace You give me as a solo mom.  Thank You that You’re the constant I can rely on when I especially fail as a solo mom.  Your mercy and grace covers me every day, and for that I am so grateful. Lord, I lift up other solo moms to You now.  Come alongside them.  And be all they need right now.  Convict them to go before Your throne and find Your grace and mercy to be exactly what they need. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her.

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles on Solo Momming: A Mom’s Grace-filled Saga & Mission: Parenting!

Re-Root Your Legacy After the Earthquakes

As widows, it sometimes feels as if the earth beneath our feet has been shaken causing deep, unrepairable cracks of devastation. I remember many such days with earthquakes nearly shaking the foundation of my faith loose until I felt His mighty hands scoop me up from my wreckage as He walked me back to safety. Then there were those days when the hurt created more subtle quaking, like quiet vibrations in my heart, just enough to keep me keenly aware of Jesus’ presence in my life and a new purpose being born.

I know the vast spectrum of hurt and heart-quaking, pain and earth-shaking grief we experience as sisters on this road of recovery. And now as a re-married widow, my world still sometimes quivers with confusion at how to heal past hurts.  Mostly my days have taken on a new normal and my mind remains steady in this surprising, at times overwhelmingly transformed life of mine. But occasionally when the challenges of transition from widow to wife, from only-parent of two to co-parenting five, I shake with reservation as I reconcile still loving who my lost husband was to me and so completely feeling this new unconditional love for the man I now live with and my soul dearly loves.

Each time I feel the shaking of earth underneath me, my footing comes loose and I’ve wondered if I’ll ever really plant my roots in solid ground again! I adore right where God’s put me today as a wife of a wonderful, Christ-following man. But fear of losing love again or any kind of life-shaking change causes those heart quivering earth quakes.

I mean, my story keeps changing and what’s behind me looks blurry like a mixed up, discombobulated legacy! And when life seems like a roller coaster, how can I live out the legacy I want to leave?

Yeah, the notion of leaving a legacy left its mark on my heart when I lost my first love.

Legacies means much more after we’ve watched our loved one leave one. You know, ladies, not everyone has the privilege of knowing how meaningful legacies really are! It’s one of those blessings of wisdom through widowhood….

But while we’re left with the wisdom, all the shaking and earth-quaking leave us at a loss with how to find a new purpose in our lives. Living our own legacies seem, well, disjointed and discontinued. Here we stand, each of us in different places on this widowhood path, feeling uprooted, confused and careening with an uncertain future.

Don’t we sometimes wonder who we’ll be after our lives take such sharp turns and our identity has been shaken? I know I have!

But we must remember what’s really rooting us. It’s not our husband’s past. It’s not our earthly homes. It’s not our children or our careers. And for those of us who have started on some new chapter, it’s not even a new man or life mission. The only thing rooting us in unbreakable, unshakable fertile ground is GOD! What a relief! God NEVER changes.

We can exhale, even during earthquakes. In all the life-shaking challenges and in every twist and turn, I’ll gladly take His strong hand, bury my feet into my faith and find solid ground in His unchanging grace! Won’t you?

Life uproots us.

But God uplifts us.

Life on earth changes us. 

But God always sustains us. 

So, sisters, we know exactly where to plant our life’s legacy alongside all the quaking change. We know just who we are in Jesus. Because no matter where we are on the path of hurt and healing, living a life shining His light will always create a certain and strong legacy worth leaving.

I got to thinking more about my roots and what’s behind me defining me during a quiet time chopping up some roots for a new recipe…that’s right, deep roots covered in earth’s dirt cleaned and used to create something nourishing and new (it’s true…food often inspires me!)

Maybe you’d like to see what happened next during my quiet time and how my kitchen always gets me thinking….here’s the post on Happily Whole all about re-rooting our lives into fertile ground PLUS the root soup recipe I came up with.

Here’s the link:  Simple Roasted Root Soup…and Nourishing Their Roots Through You. 

Let’s all remember, with the power of Christ, we can walk with Him and redirect our roots away from the results of painful pasts, sin or struggle and live a new legacy in Him!

Daddyisms

Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

Exodus 4:12 (ESV)

It was the first day of school in 2007, and we homeschooled.  Four sweet faces looked up at me from the kitchen table.

Just ten days before that morning, I sat with my laptop open at a café around the corner, preparing lesson plans for this day. Fire trucks screamed by, and within minutes I discovered they were headed to my neighborhood where my husband had just collapsed from a massive coronary.

No school plan, no desire to teach…not even little ears wanting to learn at this point.  The stale scent of funeral flowers still lingered in the air.

But God planned the lesson for that day, and for every day after.  Even when it seems a situation can’t get worse, He interjects your panicked sense of “what do I do next?” and inserts His brilliance. Why should that surprise me?  He used Moses, a man with a speech impediment, to speak up to Pharaoh, and taught Moses what to speak.

That morning I had no choice but to leave the unfinished lesson plan to God and just let Him take over.  Grabbing the easel and some markers, I wrote at the top of the flip chart…DADDYISMS and turned to face the children.  “Quick! Tell me your favorite Daddy sayings and habits!”

They looked at each other with questions on their faces.

“Daddyisms!”  I said.  “You know—the stuff Dad always said and did. How he made you laugh!

Recognition flashed in their faces as the oldest said, “At least he didn’t charge you!”

I wrote that on the flip chart as they laughed and explained how that was Tom’s answer when one of them would complain that his brother hit him for nothing!  I turned and asked for another.

“The belly button of the butter!” another said. “That’s what he called the swirly part of the margarine that you see when you open the container!”

No sooner did I write it down, when another idea got blurted out…and another, and another, until the entire chart was filled.  We taped it to the wall and started on the next, and then the next, and then the next.  Until nine glorious flip charts of daddyisms decorated every available wall surface of the first floor of our home!

The boys exhausted every daddyism they could think of, and we sat quietly for a moment.

“This,” I said, pointing to the nine flip charts on the wall, “is our lesson plan for the first semester.”

The boys were puzzled until I explained how each daddyism would become one of our school writing assignments.

And from these writings, the Daddyism book was born.
Eighty pages of glorious photographs of their father and the funny things he would say and do.  What a wonderful therapy the book became for them.  Each time one of the kids missed his father, we had that book to sit down and leaf through together and bring his memory fresh into view where we could peel apart our feelings and have a healthy laugh or cry over him—whatever served to help heal at the moment.

And those charts?  Interestingly, they comforted us for the months that they remained on our wall—serving to remind us of the wonderful memories of Dad and how blessed we were with the time we had with him.

A family friend came to visit and found himself feeling awkward at the sight of them.  “I get it,” I told him.  “You aren’t around enough to have to deal with the loss of Tom and his presence around us.  So I get why you’re uncomfortable.  But think about it,” I added. “You only visit here, and so it’s easier to be sad when you think of Tom.  We are better off facing our sadness and learning to remember him with joy.  In time, the flip charts will come down, and what will remain is the joy of his memory in our hearts.”

Lord, You provided inspiration at a moment when I had none. And out of that inspiration came a family legacy that will continue to help our family for years to come. Thank you.  Please help the dear widow who is reading this and needs inspiration in her journey Perhaps give her an idea for a legacy project, memorializing her husband.  Sometimes, working hands can make the sharing of emotions a more welcome experience for everyone.  Amen.

 

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about creating legacy items?  Here are some articles you might try:

Memorials by guest blogger Darlene Crowl

The Last Gift by Liz Anne Wright

Four Springs

                                                    …..and a time to heal.  Ecclesiastes 3:3 (ESV) 

Linda!!! Come out here!!!  The tone of urgency in his voice caused me to move quickly outside to where he stood looking at the ground. Then I saw the smile and the twinkle in his eye as he pointed to the tiny green shoots. The daffodils were coming up!

Knowing how much I loved flowers, he had made a special effort the previous fall to plant the bulbs. Persistent back problems made it difficult for him to get on his knees and dig in the dirt. That was one of his many acts of service to me.

We enjoyed those daffodils that Spring – and for many Springs following. And each year he would be the first one to notice their arrival – until that last Spring when he was in the care center. I did make sure there were some in his room and oddly enough (well maybe not!) there were some outside his window. But it just wasn’t the same. I honestly don’t remember if I even noticed them in our yard that year, or the year after. I was lost in the early fog of grief – going through each day – one breath at a time – one foot in front of the other. Every day was winter.

Then came the Spring when I longed to see those green shoots breaking through the ground. Winter was long and hard that year; but, each day I would go outside with my camera and look for green. I was not disappointed. In due time they arrived. I reached down and touched those fresh green offerings, remembering the love we shared and the man who planted them. And I smiled.

It has been four Springs since he has been gone.  I miss our times sitting outside enjoying the daffodils and the other spring flowers; watching the birds busy about nest building in the bird houses; and breathing in the fresh smell of Springtime air.

Yet, I have the memories of those times we spent together. The memories come easier now. They slide in quietly and are more likely to cause a smile than a tear.

Yes, he is gone. But love remains and hope stands with it. Healing has broken through much like the new sprouts of daffodils – proof that God is faithful and there is indeed a time for everything under the sun.

To be sure, I still miss my husband. There are still  times of tears, and learning to live alone is no easy task. My “winter” of grief has been hard, but God has walked beside me and held my hand throughout. He alone has kept me warm while I have waited for Spring to come.

Dear Father, there are so many of my dear sisters who cannot imagine Spring ever coming to them again. There are also others who have endured many Springs without their beloved alongside. I pray you send hope and healing to them. We hold fast to You today and every day until we see Your face.