Why

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

My kids’ favorite word as toddlers was why.  Their curious little minds were like sponges, and they eagerly wanted to know the answers to everything.  There were times I was so worn by their why’s I’d count down the minutes until my husband would arrive home from work, so the “why monsters” would turn to him instead.

After my husband died by suicide, I overheard lots of questions from those around me, and I had a great deal of my own deep questions, many centered on my own “why monsters.”

I knew God could’ve chosen to change the circumstances of that horrible day, and the days leading up to it.  He can do anything!  But He didn’t, that was hard to accept.

So the questions before God went something like this:  Why not protect my husband or us from this hurt and suffering?  Why not use this as a powerful testimony in keeping Scott here? Why allow such a horrific thing to occur?

Why us?

I can only assume He probably grew as weary as I used to of my kids.  But, I wasn’t challenging God’s authority or denying His power, I was seeking His divine answers and plans for us.  I wanted to know why, so I could know how.  Because my why questions were followed with how questions such as: How do I move forward?  How do I get my children through this?  How do I do all that lies ahead without my husband?

I meditated on God’s Word because I thought I would find the elaborate answers we all sought.  But, the bottom line is that no one, not one, is above pain and suffering, even God himself.  He sent His Son who took on sin at the Cross and suffered a most unimaginably painful death to pay the price for us.  If God allowed His own Son to suffer for THE greatest purpose, then in this broken world He’s going to allow me to as well.

In fact as a believer God’s word is clear that at times I will suffer in one way or another.  (I Peter 2:21)

From the time sin entered the world, until Christ comes again,  it’s a part of this life. Yet, I can rest assured that my suffering has purpose and is never wasted, even if I really don’t like or understand it.

He didn’t reveal specific answers to my questions, but He reminded me of His promises and encouraged me to trust His plan and His provision for me.

The questions many others and I had were normal.  They stemmed from hurt, fear, even anger, and a lack of understanding.  In the Bible there are several who cry out to God during their trials, asking the inevitable questions, because the burdens are great and the flesh is weak:  The Psalmists ask why, Job asks why, even Jesus at the cross cries out to God the Father as He paid the price for us all, “Why have you forsaken me?”

I realize God may or may not reveal the answers to the questions I have on this side of heaven, but when I need to I ask.  I humbly go before the cross and cry out to God, recognizing His divine authority and accepting His greater purpose and plans for me, choosing to TRUST Him with everything.  

Heavenly Father, this world is so hard and our trials can be so tough.  We come before You with our questions, not out of a place of an arrogant, hard heart but out of a place of humble love and brokenness before You.  Father we ask that You continue to reveal your divine plans to us, that You go before us continuing to bring all glory to You.  Lord, help us to accept what we don’t understand, help us to choose to trust You throughout this journey.  Reveal Yourself to us in ways we could never imagine.  Help us to seek You and Your answers whenever we are weak and hurting.  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: Why Did This Happen? and Why Now?

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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Give it to God

The trauma my body and mind went through that day is indescribable. I still have aftershocks from that day and the moments leading up to my husband Michael’s death. These aftershocks trigger my mind, making me believe something awful is happening or about to happen. In fact, seeing an ambulance or fire truck parked outside of a home brings extreme stress that, within seconds, can build to anxiety.

The aftermath of death brings so many emotions – anxiety, fear, anger, sorrow, guilt, shock, loneliness – and these feelings can continue thoughout our grief journey. It makes sense that our emotions are so high. The Holmes and Rah Stress Scale rates the loss of a spouse as the number one most stressful life event, not only because you lose your husband, but also because of the numerous secondary losses.

Sadly, you don’t have to tell us. As widows, we know this firsthand. We lost our husband, our best friend, lover, father of our children, confidant, financial advisor, prayer warrior, spiritual leader, our supporter, trash taker outer and partner in this life.

Whether it’s anxiety over the day you lost your husband, the stress of change or having to do everything on your own – raising your children without their father, figuring out finances – or the loss of relationships that were once close, what do we do when these feelings become so overwhelming that they almost paralyze us?

I attended a Suicide Survivors group and also went to counseling for several months following my husband’s death. I truly believe the Lord places people, like counselors, in our lives to help us sort through feelings and emotions. The time I spent in a group and with my counselor also helped me find a way to cope with the anxiety and trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) caused from it. I use these coping skills regularly, but there are times when they don’t seem to fulfill my heart or bring peace and comfort. That’s when I turn to the only ONE who can.

I find that when I try to do things on my own, I can’t seem to fully get past that moment and those feelings. But when I give those feelings to the Lord, I know He can do more than I ever thought possible.

The Lord says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

When I find myself in a place consumed by darkness and overwhelming circumstances, I pray and look to this verse. I have and continue to find comfort and peace here. Though I know what waits for me after this life, I have always trusted the Lord would bring goodness here on earth, too.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm  27:13)

From day one, after my husband passed, I saw this goodness in our son and in the people who surrounded me. God had placed these people in my life, not necessarily for the time I met them, but for that time of need when my world fell apart. And, presently, I am recently remarried and have seen so much goodness that the Lord has provided through my husband Keith.

As we continue to walk this journey of grief, and trauma and anxiety attempt to creep their way back in, let’s remember to pray and give it all to the ONE who knows our heart and our circumstances. Because He is the only one who can heal what is broken.

Lord, Each of us have our own story, but we all have been impacted by the trauma from our husbands’ deaths. Comfort us and remind us of Your eternal perspective. And though, we know eternal life with You awaits, we are confident you have goodness in store for us on earth. I pray you open our hearts and minds to listen to know where You are leading so we can experience Your goodness. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible.

 

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

Two Years and Trusting in Him

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine

and puts them into practice

is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down,

the streams rose,

and the winds blew and beat against that house;

yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

                                                                                                          Matthew 7:24-25 NIV

 

My storm came on January 15, 2015. The winds blew, the darkness fell, the wave of grief descended, and my world was forever changed.

Yesterday marked two years since my husband Michael made his way to heaven by suicide, and my nearly perfect life was turned upside down. That January day brought shock, confusion, guilt and sorrow like I had never known, knocking me to my knees and pleading with God to give me a different path. Losing my husband, my best friend and father of my child, I wondered how and if I would ever survive.

And that’s where Jesus met me – in that raging storm – grief stricken and consumed by fear.

Night after night I continued to pray and in the beginning, when I couldn’t, I clung to a wooden cross to fall asleep, softly whispering “Jesus, help me.”

I am certain God didn’t plan for something like this to happen, but He allowed it. My husband was just 31, and our son hadn’t even made it to his second birthday. Though I couldn’t fathom why God would ever allow a husband and father to be taken so soon, I knew I had to trust Him. That is when I completely surrendered to His will for us.

As I look back, I am in awe of how God has worked in my life. I could have never imagined the transformation, and strength, hope and joy I would find just two years later. It is a blessing, a miracle, and proof of God’s grace, mercy and faithfulness.

You see, the relationship I had built with my Savior, that foundation, has brought peace, comfort, happiness and healing during the most horrific storm.

Two years later, the wave of grief continues. But today I don’t let it control my life.

For I know the foundation and solid ground on which my life stands and when my circumstances seem overwhelming and everything around me seems to fall, my life, “my house”, will not crumble – because I have Jesus.

He has and always will be my rock.

Sisters, when you find this life seems too much to bare, lean in to Jesus and open your eyes to His eternal perspective. You are here for a reason; let Jesus be your rock. Choose to let Him in and let Him work in your life.

Dear Lord, I know you will hold us close during the storm. Open our hearts and minds to You, finding peace in Your will. Consume us with comfort and, even in the midst of the storm, allow joy to fill our lives. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible. 

More posts like this one: Why Did this Happen? and My God Box

To book one of our team members to speak please email us at: admin@anewseason.net

 

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


The Lady At The Store

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards’ of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

“Our dad is in heaven, his gun shot himself.”

One of our tougher moments in the early days of this grief journey was in line at a store.  My twin boys were just four years old.  They knew their daddy was in heaven, and they knew the simplest version of what happened.

When the sweet lady in front of us complimented their behavior I barely saw it coming. She told them they should be proud and go home and tell their daddy how well they had behaved.  That poor lady!  She never saw it coming either, but when it did, her face went from pale white to red flushed, as she watched me nod to confirm their words.  She choked back tears as she apologized for saying anything to them and then moved on rather quickly.

Early on that was the usual reaction.  No one really knew what to say.  There were many awkward moments when someone heard my husband was in heaven and then pressed to know how he died.  There was the cashier at the grocery store, who pressed me on my pretty necklace (Scott’s wedding ring I had made into a necklace).  And then couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. The waitress at the restaurant.  The dry cleaner cashier.

Once the word suicide is dropped, the tough awkward moments fly and many well meaning people want to flee!

The stigma of and circumstances surrounding suicide are hard enough for those intimately involved, for a stranger they are nearly impossible.

Yet, there were many who stood by us and were there for us from the very beginning.  Our families hunkered together the day Scott got heaven, as my church family formed a barrier outside of my house to keep strangers and the media out (Scott’s death was very public and made national news). The local businesses that showed up with tray after tray of food. (Our families have lived in the same small town for generations.) The many, some strangers even, who came to show their love towards us, and with compassionate hearts poured out their gifts of wisdom and comfort.

It’s funny how I realize now that before all this I would’ve been the judgmental fleeing kind.  I was “the lady at the store”.  I had my own critical thoughts and opinions on death, especially on suicide, and even grief.

I knew nothing!

Now, I want to say to the lady at that store and the cashier at the grocery store and the many others, “Don’t be afraid to go there.”  Compassion, sympathy and empathy can be so powerful to a hurting person.

And I want to say to the many others, “Thank you!”  Thank you for walking this unashamedly with us.  Thank you for your kindness, care and concern. Thank you for extending grace and showing us Scott’s life was much more than that one moment.

I want to say to each of you,  be ready and willing to go there with others.  You’ve got deep places now.  You get this!  Be ready to stand with the next grieving person.  It’s going to come.  We know that well.  It’s a gift to love others from your pain to theirs.

This grief walk is not wasted. Prepare yourself well, so you aren’t the lady in line with me. Take every opportunity to shine Christ and bless others with the gifts God has now given you.

Father God, thank you for giving me the gifts I have received through this journey.  Help me to see hurt and pain in others and shine You to them as I take the time to care.  Help me to never brush off a hurting person, or waste the lessons You’ve given me.  Prepare to minister to others from the deeper places You have given me.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


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. 

Articles with a similar theme: Fill My Days with Living! and THE STEWARDSHIP OF SUFFERING

 

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

The Waiting

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

Lamentations 3:25

Waiting rooms are no fun!  I am not a fan of sitting or waiting for my name to be called.

In general I don’t like to wait.  I am not a very patient person.

Yet, I find myself in a season of waiting right now.

I am in the, “God has me waiting room.”

But, this “waiting room” has many doors.  As I stand and look around at all the doors, I see just one that’s locked.  There are many more that SEEM inviting and they’re not locked!

When I open the unlocked doors I see my past.  Some doors open wide, and inside the images are vast, deep and extremely meaningful.  Many of those doors are from my life with my late husband. Precious memories and longings that still exist from the life I had.

There are other unlocked doors too.  They’re glimpses of smaller parts of my life.  Some contain images of broken or lost friendships.  Others reveal men that I’ve met over the last six years; men I thought might be my “next chapter”.  Others are glimpses of past sins I know I’ve laid at the Cross, but they seem to still be there when I open that door.

Sometimes, I stand staring at the ONE locked door.  See, that door is my future.  But unlike my past, I don’t get glimpses behind it.  I can’t crack it open or even open it wide and check out what’s going on behind there.

Lately, I find myself opening lots of the unlocked doors. Looking back with longing, bitterness or even regret.  I’m in a season of “waiting” right now. And as I wait for that big beautiful door of the future to be unlocked I get impatient.  Instead of trusting, believing and seeking, I go back and open the other doors.  When I do, I start to lose sight of what is and try to cling tightly to what was or what might have been.  I start to doubt and question God, because He’s had me waiting in this season “too long”.

As I was studying and doing some research recently, I came across an article that outlined all the great faithful people from the Bible that God made wait.  The list was impressive and humbling.

Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Noah, David, Abraham, and yes… even Jesus.

If He made these great, influential, faithful people wait, then why in the world would little ‘ole me think I’m too good to wait?

I was reminded there’s great purpose in the wait.  God can grow me, transform me, teach me, protect me, and prepare me if I’m willing to trust Him, focus on Him and serve Him while I wait.

I was also reminded that I’ll never get the key to unlock that future door if I’m still clinging too tightly to all the keys of the doors of my past.

So, today as I sit in the ‘God has me waiting’ room I am convicted to shift my focus to the One who’s brought me this far. I will strive to keep my eyes on Him.  I’m choosing to let go of the desire to get a few last peeks at the past. He’s convicted me I can’t prepare for what’s ahead if I’m trying to carry or focus on what’s behind me.

I wait. Yet, I will no longer look around at the many unlocked doors or even focus on the one locked door.  Instead, I’ll look up and seek God in my waiting.

Father God, waiting is hard stuff.  I am so impatient.  Thank You for knowing me and still loving me.  Help me to trust You in this waiting room.  Grow me and draw me nearer to You.  Reveal to me all You have for me, prepare my heart and mind, so I am ready for what You have next for me.  Lord, thank You for being right with me while I wait.  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 written by our team with a similar theme: The Waiting Room & Lady in Waiting