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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And Then There Was One

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

                         Proverbs 13:12   ESV

And then there was one.

Those were the words that echoed in my head with the recent passing of my mother-in-law. Death had come once again.

After attending to her final wishes, I found myself reflecting back to the days I first met her and the why. Those thoughts prompted me to my wedding album. My wedding day. The union of my husband (her son) and I brought two families together with the hopes and dreams a marriage brings. One of my favorite pictures is of my husband and I, our parents and my two grandmothers. It was our family, our support system.

That picture brings so much joy to my heart. After all, it was the day my young girl dreams of marrying the love of my life came to be. When I look at the face of each person in that picture I see eager anticipations of what the union meant. That day was perfect and the beginning of new adventures and the hope of many dreams.

And yet.

That picture brings so much pain to my heart. What I did not know that day, was that in 30 years, I would be the only one in that photo left standing on this earth. I did not know that my hopes would dissolve and that I would be asked to walk through the valley of grief seven times. I did not know that the weight of carrying on for the family would rest solely on my shoulders and that I would be without the support of my entire immediate family.

I have had many days when I ache for the comfort of family. You know the days when you just want to share something exciting or when you need to hear words of support from those who know you best? I yearn for the comfort of sitting around the kitchen table sharing stories of long ago and hearing about the lives that impacted my life growing up. I hurt knowing many of my hopes and dreams are washed away.

How can I go forward with this depth of grief and disruption of plans? Who am I to be asked to carry the weight of living out the legacy this union started? How can I still accomplish any purpose God may have for me when I feel the loss of my support system?

My hope had been deferred. At least in the earthly sense. I wrestle with the human side of what I have lost. Gone is the help of loved ones I expected to be around for many years. I still want them in my picture of life. Yes, my heart is sick, when I concentrate on the fading hopes.

And yet.

Can my longings still be fulfilled? Is there room to still be grateful for things hoped for? Joyfully, I now see hope living in my two daughters. Their lives are an extension of our union.  And while I yearn for the presence of these loved ones who have passed, I can still embrace new hopes.

I can now look at this picture and focus on a renewed hope and still see dreams; they are just different now. I see His promises mirrored in the faces of those He gave me for a short while. As I carry them in my heart, I ask that He let me have the sweet spirit and kindred hearts of my grandmothers. I ask that He give my future sons-in-laws the physical strength, that I saw in the hands and feet of those two fathers. I ask that my girls have the perseverance through all things that I saw in those mothers.  And I ask to have the heart to share the gospel that my husband did so very well. How beautiful these legacies are. What a blessing it is for me to already see pieces of each of them reflected in the lives of my daughters.

Hope deferred. Hope renewed. Longings fulfilled.

Father, please give us hearts to know our longings can still be fulfilled, even if our hopes are no longer what we thought they would be. Help us to know our support comes from you and life can still be abundantly full. Amen. 


Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she 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) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

To book a speaker email us at admin@anewseason.net

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about hope, Katie and Kit .

Sherry’s Favorite

Sometimes our favorite articles are written by our own hand.  God speaks to us mightily as we pray over what He wants us to say to you.  Often, He moves deeply in our hearts and minds as we root out the words to share.  Today is a perfect instance of that truth. Please join us as Sherry shares her favorite post.


Bittersweet by Sherry Rickard

“So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea…and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.  And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah for they were bitter…And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?  And he [Moses] cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the water, the waters were made sweet.” 

Exodus 15:22 -25 (KJV)

As I sat down to write the words for this post, I intended to write about memorials and markers.  As I prayed about what the Lord would have me share, this passage of scripture came to my mind so clearly and the words poured out of me.  I remember leaning on this passage so heavily when my husband was ill.  Every doctor visit was bad news and disappointment.  At home, it was so painful to watch my husband suffer the effects of his illness and to be so helpless.  My husband was unable to work for a time period due to his illness so our comfortable life became very uncomfortable…or should I say very quickly unaffordable.  Every aspect of our once carefree life became hard and heavy.

My husband in his most quiet moments, when it was just the two of us and, even when I wandered into a room in which he was alone, was the definition of peace.  He didn’t rail at God and ask why.  He wasn’t mad at his diagnosis.  He was the definition of peace and contented joy, even in our darkest hour.   He would often say that he had the golden ticket.  If he was called Home, he got to start eternity in the presence of his Savior; and if his body was miraculously cured here on earth, he got to spend more time with us.  He would always end with,  “Either way, I’m a big winner!”

Me, on the other hand, I was a quiet Mara.  I knew that God would be glorified in whatever happened and that He would sustain me, but I was growing quietly bitter the longer our journey took.  It wasn’t something that was apparent, it was a quiet background noise to my everyday life.

Then, February 14, 2011, the Lord lovingly allowed me to realize that He was going to bring Bill Home.  That was my most bitter moment of all.  As I put my lips to my husband’s lips in the ICU at Duke Hospital and we kissed for the last time this side of eternity, God gently loosened my grasp on my husband and took him Home.  At that moment, my heart wasn’t broken, it was ripped from my chest and there was complete emptiness in its place.   How could my heart heal when it had been removed from my body?  How could God ask this of me?

As each minute; hour; day; week; month; year and now years passed…God sent me experiences;  one by glorious one that were filled with sweetness.  Slowly, the pain (that never completely goes away)was insulated by sweet memories to the point that I could bear the journey God asked me to take.  I am to the point now that I can bear the pain because of the sweetness that surrounds it; if that makes sense.  I laugh more days than I cry.  I can remember fun times spent with my husband and not feel the heaviness of him not being here.

Just as in the scripture above, the water was too bitter to drink and the Lord had to show Moses God’s hand-crafted tree.  Once it was dipped into the water, the water was made sweet and the Israelites were able to drink it.  In much the same way, God has taken my bitterness and He has dipped His beautiful hand into it and, in doing so, has made it turn to sweetness.  And with this change, I am able to bear the journey and, as hard as it is to believe, there have been many points on the journey that were very sweet.

Dear Lord, Help me to remember that if Your hand is in it, it will be sweet.  Help me to remember to lean in and feel Your presence in everything.  Help me to surrender to You and to allow Your love to sustain me.  Thank You for turning the bitter and unbearable into bearable sweetness.  In Your Precious Son’s Name, Amen


Other posts in “Our Favorites” Series: Erika’s Favorite, Teri’s Favorite, Elizabeth’s Favorite

A Story to Tell

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

                                                                                                                             Hebrews 12:1 ESV

Years ago, my pastor started one of his sermons by bringing up five marathon runners on stage. He proceeded to ask them what they had learned about running marathons. One of the runners is a dear friend of mine, and I will never forget something she said. Her favorite thing about running a marathon was when they were in the home stretch (so exhausted they weren’t sure if they were going to make it) runners who had already crossed the finish line would come back, run with them and cheer them on to help them finish strong. She said, “As Christians we should be doing the same thing.” I pray this ministry is doing just that.

I hope the stories we tell, encourage you to endure and run a strong race. Our dream is you will tell your stories for others when you are able. You may not realize it, but all of us have something in common with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. We all have a story to tell of God’s love and faithfulness.

Our story is not about how tragically we lost our husbands, or how devastating grief is. All of us can remember days, weeks, months, where our loss is all we can see, hear and feel. But our story is much, much bigger. It’s about the God of all Creation, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and who He is. Our story leads people to see Him and who He is -His goodness, His faithfulness, His love.

Over the last four years, I have seen God’s love and faithfulness woven through the details of my life time and time again. Allow me a moment to share one from just this week.

This week, my first granddaughter (second grandchild) was born. One of my most treasured dreams was to share being a grandparent with my husband. When he was killed, the death of that dream was one of the things I struggled with the most. But God knew the desires of my heart. You can read about the extraordinary way He provided for me with my grandson in The Gospel of His Grace. I was remembering that story this week as I was driving to the hospital to visit my granddaughter. One moment I was celebrating God’s goodness and in the very next moment I was missing my husband and sad that this grandchild would never have a story like that. My heart hurt.

Yesterday my daughter and granddaughter came home from the hospital. I helped them settle in and returned to my empty house. My mind kept thinking about how my grandson had a “story” to connect him to his grandfather Dave, but our sweet new little Cora didn’t. Her beautiful name was chosen months before her birth, but it wasn’t after my husband Dave like we had hoped if she had been a boy. The phone rang. My daughter was on the phone, crying. “Are you okay?” My daughter was in utter amazed excitement. A relative of my husband Dave had contacted her through social media to let her know that, unbeknownst to us, “Cora” was the name of Dave’s grandmother! We had no idea – but God did. God knew my daughter’s desire to give her child a name to honor Dave, and He knew my sadness in thinking she had no “story” to connect her to her grandfather. As God has done time and again, He showed us His love in this amazing way. Her special name carries a special story.  

We all have stories of His love and faithfulness. We need to tell those stories so others can run with endurance. We need to be like the marathon runners, and come back to run with those behind us and cheer them on so they can run the race with endurance. Do you have a story to tell?


 

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.

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

Want to read another great article by Sheryl? Read He Makes My Way Perfect

Want to read another article about endurance? Endurance and Encouragement by Elizabeth

How Blind Faith Blind-Sided (and blessed) Me

Giving up my desire to understand has been hard. Surrendering my unknown plans to a known Savior didn’t come easy for me. After my sweet Kevin passed through the pearly gates, I recall imploring (begging to be exact) God to rid me of my desire to understand His painfully perfect plan for my life. I no longer wanted to wrestle with why the daddy of my precious baby girls had to leave for heaven and what it meant to me as a mom.

Over time I’d come to accept his death and my role as a widow in this world. But I still struggled with what I was supposed to do with my new role on my unfamiliar stage. If He would just outline the script and reveal the plot, I could live my motherhood and grief out-loud for His glory! If I knew destination I could continue to run the right race!

Yeah, there’s a little control freak in me, some Type A tendencies. But shamefully and more accurately, it was my weak faith revealed. My insecurity and desire to have a handle on everything kept me from growing in blind faith. Our sovereign God doesn’t need us to understand. He simple calls us to trust, surrender and obey.

Isiah 55: 8-9 says,For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.…” (ESV)

Blind faith. I need not understand anything. Instead, as daughter of the King, I needed to surrender.

You see, God doesn’t train us to the tune of our own will or self-perceived needs. He loves us more than that! He only gives us what He sees we need in His right timing, which is always just in time.

So I finally stepped aside as He taught me to surrender. He slowly revealed my new future. Gradually as I grew through grief learning to trust His mysterious ways, my Type A tendencies faded into blind faith.

This piece on Remembering, Reliving and Redemption captures my heart at the very time I became satisfied with His sovereignty.  I wrote it before I had heard a whisper of what was coming next.

What was next? Well, my gift of blind faith blind-sided me! God knew I may not want to comply with His plan so He began blindly preparing me for it. He had a man in mind and knew it’s not what I wanted. (And now that I know how beautifully hard blending families really is, I may have sprinted in another direction had He revealed too much too soon.)

He first created a canvas and then pried open my heart to receive with reverence and love a wonderful man and a surprising new plan. God also painted in me the purest kind of guardian love for three girls who came as an extension of my man. Now…well, now life is all upside-down and seems only a semblance of what it was.

I was blindsided by my blind faith. God changed my course so someone could captured my heart. And I’m living a life blessed by the beautiful challenge of blending families. Here’s much more about how He blind-sided me with a husband: If I’m Being Honest…

In case you’re curious, I consider myself a remarried widow. It’s how I reconcile deeply loving a new man yet still cherishing lost love for another. It’s complicated. It’s harder than hard on days when blending families feels more like banging my head on the wall than a blessed new beginning.

But I can say with certainty that learning to walk in blind surrender towards my beautiful Savior fills my life to overflowing with unexpected hope and un-containable joy!. It’s ALL for His glory. The emotional exhaustion and incredible responsibility alongside the bounty of new blessings reminds me of God’s loving preparation and the gift of blind faith. 

Sisters, we all walk a unique path of blessed weariness in widowhood. We each bear burdens differently. But our lives are knit together with a common understanding of how the earth shakes when death destroys our dreams. None of us knew exactly what we’d meet on this path and we never know what purpose God’s prepping us for. But walking blindly towards Him in surrender blesses us in ways only He knows we need. It’s complicated and it’s hard. But, believe me, it’s amazingly, breathtakingly mysterious!

I pray He pulls you deeper into blind faith and pricks your heart with the desire to surrender all your ‘whys’ and human needs to His unknown but always loving ways. 

Turn to His Word to reassure your heart: Psalm 37:4-6, Psalm 55:22, Proverbs 13:6

His Hands

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.

Psalm 20:6 ESV   

Hands can be used for grasping, holding, pulling, creating, rescuing, and nurturing. They can also help communicate emotions or make a point. They can be as soft as silk or as rough as sandpaper.

I’ve been thinking about hands quite a bit these days. To be more precise, my husband’s hands and in turn how they can help me understand God’s hands. Quite often memories help to quiet my mind and help me reset when I’m having a hard time focusing; it’s usually a bittersweet experience.

I remember how my guy’s hands looked, their gentleness, their strength, and their size compared to mine. They were weathered from hard work with a tint of grease mixed in from past tinkering adventures. They could fix anything, hold baby girls with gentleness, and guide me in a crowd. He’d offer his hand to the most skittish stallions and could calm me by merely resting them on my knee. He would reach out his hand towards mine to bridge the gap after an argument. The part I remember the most and long for is when he would reach out his hand, and my hand would disappear into the vastness of his hand. Sometimes he steadied me with his hand, like a silent reassurance we would hold our little life together.

Then, like God always does, in the midst of missing my husband and with tears rolling down my cheeks, He reminds me His hands have never changed and when my guy allowed Him to do a work in his life, his hands became the extension of Christ.  Every gentle display, every tinker, every steadied gesture, every bridging the gap, every time my hand would disappear in my guy’s hand, it was Christ reaching out to remind me, He holds my little life together. Although, circumstances are much different, He hasn’t changed one iota. His hands are mighty and He is mighty to save.

In the four gospels there are references of Christ reaching out his hand.

His hands brought relief, healing, and transformations.

In the Old Testament God’s hands established peace, justice and second chances.

I don’t want us to miss the point of what Christ needed to remind me of in my quiet reminiscing. He held it up like a mirror. If Christ is doing a work in my life, then my hands are an extension of His hands. I need to partner with Him and be willing to bring relief, aid in healing, cheer on transformations, help administer peace and justice and by all means, allow for second chances in the healthiest ways. Although, my hands look different than my guy’s hands, we serve the same Christ and my hands need to disappear into the greatness of Christ’s hand.

As we walk through our life and jump over the distractions that come and go, I want you to think about how your story and your experiences could be a launching pad to help be the hands of Christ. How could you bring relief? How could you encourage someone as they transform? How could you help remind someone we serve a God of second chances? As we encourage others, Christ will do more work in us. That’s the beauty of His kingdom, when we give all we have; He gives us back more than we ever dreamed.

Dear Heavenly Father, Do a work in us, be the work in us. Help us realize the power of your outstretched hand as it covers us and our journey. Lord, we pray in advance for the people who need to hear about our experience, about our testimony of Your great provision. In Your Mighty Name, amen.

 


 

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.

If you’re interested in having a team member speak at your event please email us at: admin@anewseason.net

To read more articles by our team: Still Good, Sovereign, and The Wound

 

A Daughter’s Pain

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting

on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, ~Psalm 103:17

 

{By far, the HARDEST part of losing my husband has been walking beside my children as they navigate their own grief.  This article is a personal excerpt out of a prayer journal I keep for my daughter.  My son has a similar entry in his.}

 

A nine year old girl should never have to sit across the breakfast table from her hero and hear he is dying.

 

She shouldn’t have to experience the shock of hearing months later that the doctors had it wrong and her Daddy’s rare form of leukemia wouldn’t take him, but would change the lives of her family members forever.  Only to hear at the age of eleven that he is battling another new cancer.

 

A fifth grade girl should not spend her Spring Break moving her parents into an apartment 425 miles away their from home, then returning home with her sixth grade brother to be cared for by extended family.

 

She shouldn’t have to endure the next two years separated from her parents more than she is with them due to out of state cancer treatments and lengthy hospital stays.

 

She never should have her eyes see the horrors of a strong man shrinking away in a cancer riddled body.

 

She shouldn’t have to hold this man’s hand as he lay in a coma experiencing a series of strokes and seizures.

 

She shouldn’t have to sweetly “shush” his agonizing moans.

 

No thirteen year old daughter should ever have to stand over the hospice bed of the greatest love of her young life while he takes his final breath.

 

She should not have to choose a dress to wear for her father’s funeral.

 

And no fourteen year old young lady should have to spread her Daddy’s ashes at their favorite annual vacation spot.

macie and tim2

 

Today, as deeply as my heart is shattered and breaking for my own loss as well as the tremendous loss my children are experiencing, I stand in awe of my daughter.

 

She is not like other fifteen year old girls.  She has witnessed too much heartache and unspeakable sorrow.  She has matured beyond childhood in many ways, and yet is still just a girl who deeply loves and desperately needs her Dad.

 

As she ventures forward in this life, learning, growing, navigating complex relationships; my prayer is…

 

*that her loss both strengthens and softens her.

*that the horrors her eyes have witnessed somehow bring a deeper acceptance of and compassion for others.

*that the love affair between her Daddy and me built enough memories in her young mind for her to know what a strong marriage centered on the foundation of Christ is like.  Not that we were perfect, but that even through our imperfections, God made us perfect for each other.  I pray she finds the one who God is already molding to be hers and that she is sensitive to the work He is doing to prepare her for him.

*that she continues to lean hard into God.  Praying earnestly and listening intently as He guides her through the final years of adolescence into adulthood.

 

Her healing process will continue until she draws her own final breath.  She has many firsts without her Dad yet to experience, many tears yet to cry, and many frustrations yet to overcome.

She lost too much far too soon.  She has walked a difficult path for years and is finally emerging into the light of living life fully again.  In many ways, she reminds me of a butterfly.  She has had to spend a great deal of time immersed in darkness, and it has made her who she is.  The layers of a happy, loving childhood; intense trauma and sorrow; fierce love and loyalty, they intricately interlace to form beautiful wings that will help her fly.

And fly, she will.  She loves deeper.  She dreams bolder.  She sees the value and goodness in a person quickly.  There is a strength that radiates from her soul that can only come from Christ.

I am honored to be her Momma and proud to watch God working in her life.

Father God, You promise to be a Father to orphans.  Your steadfast love and righteousness are gifts for generations of those who fear You.  I lift the children of each widow who reads this to Your throne right now.  Lord, guide them in your ways, comfort them as only You can, and transform their pain into something beautiful that brings glory to You.  Amen. 

 

Lori meet usLori 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:Lori Reynolds Streller

See more A Widow’s Might Articles on Parenting:

Parenting Thru Grief

Mission: Parenting

 

 

That Day

 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.  The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 118: 21-29

 

June 16th, 2010, the day my husband got heaven, was the day my world and life as I knew it ended.

That day, my husband took his own life.

It was the single hardest day of my life and it broke me in so many ways.  But, I wasn’t the only one.  What happened that day broke many people; our children, our family, our friends, our church, and many strangers who heard it as breaking news or went by the scene.

That day I was spared though, because I wasn’t with him, and I didn’t find him.  Yet, there were a handful of strangers who weren’t spared. I’ve thought and prayed for them often.

There was a man who stopped within seconds and was the first to try to help him. Then a second man who stopped and helped, and a woman had stopped too. In the end I was told there were about five in those first precious minutes, who stopped on the side of a busy road and were there to help and protect my beloved husband until paramedics arrived.

I prayed for years that they’d be protected from what they saw and what they did would be honored.  That it wouldn’t scar them.  And that they could find peace in it.  I even prayed for the opportunity to thank them.

Last year, I got a message from the woman who stopped. We corresponded via email and I could sense her pain.  After a time, we agreed to meet.

As we sat and talked, she shared intimate details of that precious horrific day. We both shed mighty tears. At one point she shared that she’d been tormented by what she saw.  That she kept dreaming of it and couldn’t get one picture out of her head; the image of his strong left hand where his shining unblemished wedding band was resting gently on his leg. As she sobbed and shared, I reached up and took my necklace off.

In it was something I needed her to hold, because I had taken Scott’s wedding ring and made a necklace from it. I handed it to her and she held it so tight. In that moment, I saw her release some of the pain of that day and those terrible images. She could see the new I created in that ring and in our life. I shared my great God with her too. And I pray she saw Him shine as I talked.

I’ve never seen her since, but I’m so grateful for our time. I’m most grateful God gave me a chance to meet one of those who cared enough to stop. I love that I can now pray so specifically for her, and I hope that she saw God’s love and glory on full display in and through me.

I share this with you sisters because your story matters.  Your husband’s death matters. Your suffering matters.  The suffering of others matters.  The kindness of others matters.  The healing matters. And sharing matters!

God wants to use your ugly, messy, sad, precious story for His glory. It’s certainly not easy or comfortable for some of us. There are those who will never see our story through the grace filled, redemptive eyes of Christ, and will instead judge us. But, that’s ok.  I can’t control others.  I can just lay my story humbly before the Lord, committing it to Him, relinquishing my control over it.

The day I met that woman is right up there with one of my toughest days. The harsh realities of what happened that day reopened wounds for me.  But my comfort, my heart, my pride, or even my privacy doesn’t matter if I’m blocking God from using me, my husband, and our story to help others and bring Him great glory!

If I hide away, I’m just giving the enemy more victory and I’m robbing God!  And I’m wasting our suffering. What additional tragedy that would be.

My husband is gone.  The days leading up to it were terrible.  And his death was horrible.  But that’s where the bad stops and the good starts.  God allowed bad, but He will work it for His good and glory.  I believe and trust that!

And I trust Him!

That day, our story became HIS STORY!

Father, help us to be bold.  Helps us to humbly watch You work and move in our lives.  Give us the courage to relinquish any shame we may feel over our story to Your greater purposes.  Let us be a light in dark places, and give us opportunities to share even the ugly stuff, so we can glorify You.  I thank You for the messy story You’ve given me and I pray, Lord, that You give me the strength I need to walk this journey as a humble servant in Your mighty hands.  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 her or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author click here.

Related articles on this topic: Story Keepers and The End of the Story?

You’re Amazing!

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

                                                                    1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Our journeys are as unique as our husbands. Sometimes, our paths do not always parallel one another. However, we all need encouragement. I don’t know too many people who become frustrated with someone because they’ve offered up a little bit of encouragement.

Christ calls us to encourage. It is an important character trait as we learn to live in community with people. We are hard-wired for connection. One of the greatest benefits of healthy connections is the opportunity to encourage and the gift of being encouraged.

I miss the daily interactions between my husband and I. Looking back now, I realize his input, his listening to my thoughts and opinions and that little kiss on my forehead were all extremely encouraging to me. I didn’t realize how valuable they were until they were not there anymore.

I want to encourage, not accuse.

Dear sweet sisters,

I believe choosing to live and move forward into your future is one of the most courageous choices I’ve ever had the privilege to witness in a community. Letting Christ be your ash heap sculptor and your guide in the midst of such dark circumstances is so full of the faith Christ asks us to practice. You’re running your race well. The pace isn’t important, just keep moving. You’re amazing!

When it seems every appliance in the house is on its last leg and flat tires scream to be fixed.

Christ is there. He’ll help you find a solution.  

When you need to vent about your rotten day.

Christ is there. He’s listening.

When you find yourself in a crowd full of people and you feel invisible.

Christ sees you. He chose you. He’s crazy about you.

I know this is the hardest life you never chose to live, and it takes every bit of intentional thought to move forward. You’re amazing!

If you are parenting while walking on this path and you haven’t heard this already. I want to be the first to tell you; you’re knocking this single parenting work out of the park. It doesn’t matter if you lost your cool or can’t catch up on laundry. You’re amazing!

I know you pour a double portion into your children and it’s one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. You strive every day to finish what you and your husband started as you parent your children alone. I get it. I live it. More importantly, Christ sees it and He’s oh so proud of you. I want to remind you, you are doing holy work. First Peter, chapter one tells us because of Christ’s resurrection, our inheritance will never spoil, perish or fade and our grief and the trials of this life are only temporary. You’re investing in His kingdom every day when you parent your children. Christ has your back and walking with Him through it means, you have this too.

Lastly, I want to tell you how important your perspective and your story is to the Kingdom. You have wisdom and insight you’ve received in the midst of your grief. In His time and at your pace, He’ll give you an opportunity to share with someone who is walking behind you on this grief road. Your voice is so important in your local community as well as the outer reaches of His kingdom. You’re amazing!

Father, Thank you for being the steadying force in our lives. I ask you to be with each and every sister in our community today, Lord. You know each heart and each need. You know when we sit and when we rise. I ask You today to help us be more aware of your unwavering love for us. Help us to push back the lies of the enemy. Help us to encourage and build one another up! We need You and we need each other. In Your Mighty Name, amen.

 


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.

If your group is interested in having Jill or any of our writers speak at your event, please email us at: admin@anewseason.net

Other articles that will encourage you: Sharing Our Victories & Sisterhood of Widowhood

 

Dancing Through Tears

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3 ISV

I

AM

BROKEN!

Almost four years later, it’s a hard realization.

I’ve recently read a couple of blogs about new relationships, dating, and new loves lost, that pierced my heart and gave me pause.  I too ventured out, dared to dream, opened my heart again, and learned valuable lessons through an unexpected ending.

My childhood was chaotic at best and I watched broken patterns repeat themselves again and again, in vicious cycles of abuse and sin. As an adult, I walked into that cycle myself for a few years and had a terrible, horrible, VERY BAD first marriage, which I would have stayed in, but he chose to abuse drugs, cheat, have a child out of wedlock, and walk away. So, loving people is not easy, because I have strongholds which cause fear, doubt, unbelief and control issues.

God rescued me in the middle of my anger and the broken mess of my life. He restored me and gave me the honor of being married to a godly man who adored me and Jesus. Then, he too was gone……way too soon….so young, so in love, so gone…..my treasure taken.

As I began this march through widowhood, it did not occur to me that I might love again.

Then, very unexpectedly, I was faced with a Texas sized man who captured my heart. He had stood on the sidelines of my life for a year and half, around, but not too close, watching, interjecting when invited in, but walking his own broken road. One day, I opened my eyes, began to talk, listen, LAUGH and truly SEE HIM for the very first time.

We tried to stay in the moment, but quickly we began to talk long term. The first time he said, “I love you.” I lost it, the “freaked out” kind of lost it; the “didn’t know what to do with it, didn’t think I deserved it, didn’t know if I wanted it, didn’t know if I could do it” kind of lost it.

I became a civil war within myself, North vs. South, Mind vs. Heart, war torn and battling. I picked at him, turning him over-and-over to see if he was right for me, to see if he could love me like I wanted to be loved, was he smart enough, funny enough, good enough. You would have thought he was a Christmas sweater from a sale rack that needed to be intricately inspected before purchase, instead of a child of God.

He was a good man; he wasn’t perfect, but neither am I.

While I was praying for God to send me a man who could meet a multitude of standards I had set, I’m quite certain he was not praying, “God please send me a widow with a heart that is still afraid to love again, one who’s in a thousand shattered pieces, who lives some days in the past and some days in the future, instead of enjoying the right now. Lord, let her cling too tightly, and have fear and betrayal issues and just for good measure, let her be funny some days and terrified on others so it makes her want to CONTROL everything in her world and speak harshly when she feels out of control.” Yes, I’m quite confident he was not praying for that me; no man would.

Yet, when I don’t lean into God, when the gift becomes more inspected than The Gift Giver, I lose the me He made. The me who is confident but not arrogant, because I am His beautiful, fierce warrior princess. The me who is independent, but wants to submit to a man who loves and seeks God. The me who takes care of my body, soul and spirit, because I am His temple.

I learned a lot from this dating dance. Mostly, I still need God to work on me, because I want these stronghold walls to come down. They trap me, instead of protecting me, and I don’t want to live life alone forever and I don’t like the me I became. But, dancing through tears is still dancing and I never thought I would. I loved another….and I never thought I could. I guess that’s a start.

God,

Heal me from the inside out. Help me to allow you to work on me and anyone you send into my life, in equal measure. Always help me to be a life giving leader who LOVES and CHASES You first, for the rest of my life, but who receives Your blessings as gifts, with grace and humility. Give me discernment and wisdom as I learn to dance without stepping on toes.

In the precious name and Jesus and by the power and authority of His blood, I pray. Amen.

.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: Let’s Talk About Dating & Whispers of Fresh Dreams