Until Death Do We Part?

We are so excited to welcome Becky Steiger as our guest blogger! Becky was suddenly widowed in 2015 after an unexpected heart event took her husband home to heaven. She is raising three children (16, 14, 8) while working as a teacher’s aid with preschoolers at her children’s school. She clings to Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (ESV). 

 

 


Words spoken as a wide-eyed bride while facing the one who took my breath away. I vowed to “have, hold, better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, health, until….

Death Do We Part.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

Matthew 19:5-6 ESV

God joined together, yet I find myself alone, parted by death. My heart has been shattered. The breath taken from the man who took my breath away.

In the first few months people tried to encourage me: “He’s watching over you. He’s by your side.” and I would silently respond “I wouldn’t want him watching over me now. He is with Jesus.” What was with me now was all “the stuff”. I was in a state of manic urgency to sort, organize, and donate because I knew I would screech to a halt soon and become mired in the memories, confused by the value of “the stuff”.

What makes the man?

Is it the accumulation of stuff? The task I’ve struggled with lately is attempting to sell items that were important to him, but unnecessary to me. I believe a man’s life is not reflected by possessions, and yet I have resisted placing a monetary value on the things that gave him joy. The fly reel and rod bring back his voice and “the one that got away”. An acoustic guitar leans against the wall; a gift to himself for following through on a difficult decision that changed his life forever.

These things do not make the man. They are souvenirs of a life lived the way he wanted to live it.

So perhaps he’s defined by his accomplishments. Triathlon numbers hang from the ceiling in his office. T-shirts, medals, and hats are stored in plastic tubs. The Ironman bag is with him still. Business cards, framed college degrees, and an Eagle Scout award collect dust. Reflections of a man who met his goals, but they don’t make the man.

I sit at the desk he worked at and listen to the gallop of our eight-year-old running through the house. My cell phone announces the sixteen-year-old is on her way home, while another text pops up from our son, sharing his adventures of the day.

And that’s it.

The stuff around me will never come close to the value of the man. His accomplishments give a glimpse of who he was, but his children are his legacy. A life of one, multiplied by three. I see the determination of our eldest to meet her goals, the twinkle of his eyes in our son when he runs in dad’s shoes, and his smile ripple across the face of our youngest, his little “sack of potatoes”.

We were parted by death. I check the “Widow” box on forms, but can’t bring myself to change the relationship status of social media. I wear the ring on my right hand, but still sleep on the left side of the bed. Pictures throughout the house are barely glanced at, but I’m caught off guard by images on an old camera of his broad grin. Another land mine detonates and my heart is pierced again by loss. I want to touch that face again.

It has been eighteen months, twenty-six days, three hours, and twenty-four minutes since we parted.

We were physically separated by death, but not emotionally. I still feel we are “joined together”, as the Scripture stated. This is what makes it very difficult to move forward.

Jesus, we know You joined us together in marriage. Being separated by death is so hard! Give us the strength today to make the difficult decisions with the earthly stuff and help us process the accomplishments of our loved ones. Wrap Your loving arms around us as we grieve our losses. Amen


Would you like to submit a guest blog for consideration? Click the link here to find all the details.

Our Stories so Uniquely the Same- Part One

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 ESV

I encourage you, sisters, to join me in a three part series I wrote years ago as I started this ministry.  I was struck by how unique and compelling each woman’s story was, and yet how similarly the threads of love, loss, and healing weave through all of our stories–creating one message: Hope in Christ.  The original writing was three times the length of our current articles, so I have split these into three parts which we will publish today and over the coming months. Today’s part focuses on those early days of loss.  Look for part two on the second year and part three on a new season in the coming months. Bless you sisters– our stories share God’s love for us!           ~Kit

***

The day of the funeral we wore that dress we wish we could forget about. Some of us wore stylish dresses, as though our husbands would be comforted in Heaven if we tried our best to not look as awful as we felt. Some of us wore the simplest of black dresses—after all, the occasion wasn’t happy—why attract attention to ourselves? Some of us hate black and purposely chose navy blue. Some of us borrowed dresses from our sisters and then asked them to take it back and never show it to us again. Why use our own dress, which would sit in the closet as a constant reminder?

All of us cried. We cried heavy, even howled—never holding back—drowning in wet tissues for hours on our sisters’ laps. We cried soft whimpers when no one was looking. We cried silent tears—staring blankly at the empty world we faced without them. We didn’t cry at all at first and even wondered if everyone thought we didn’t love our husbands. Of course, we did—more than life itself—it’s just that we’re not criers—or so we thought. In private, it all came loose. We drowned our tears in wine until a friend plucked us up and sat with us so we wouldn’t drink alone. We cried in waves, like a roller coaster—fine one minute, calm, even kind of detached about it as we sorted through things in the house—wondering why on earth we’ve been given this strange peace, until the wave crashed and then boom—we dissolved into inconsolable tears.

We got through that first month. Some of us were thrust into crisis mode—”He had a business with customers banging at the door—who else but the widow would be expected to close up shop?” Some of us fought with the insurance company—”what do you mean investigation? I thought our life insurance was secure!” Some of us couldn’t stay in our homes—without him, the rent couldn’t be paid. Many of us refused to think about it. The kids were so confused—how could we even have a moment to think about ourselves with our kids asking so many questions? Some of us got busy—cleaning, trying to make order somewhere even with the chaos in our hearts.

Then we had to deal with his belongings unless we expected to live with the constant evidence someone should still be there. We had friends sort through his belongings for us—bagging up his clothes and taking them to Goodwill right away. We wouldn’t let anyone touch his belongings. Their closets became unbearable to touch, a sort of shrine to their existence in our lives. We organized his belongings into nice little boxes and moved them into the attic. Hopefully, we can eventually have the courage to reopen them and decide what to do with it all. We left certain belongings untouched. That receipt from Blockbuster he taped onto the side of the refrigerator stayed there for years. Even visitors seemed to know it would be sacrilegious to remove it.

***

But all of us do… live life more. Whether it’s through grieving more deeply or actively starting life more quickly, we live life more. Our tragedies are parallel and the ripples from our tragedies go in all different directions. And somehow, always lead to redemption.

Father God,  I thank You for these sisters who continue to share their stories with us. I marvel at how strong each of them is, and how You have taken the horrible losses in their lives to transform them and glorify You.


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

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

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

You might also like these posts by our team:

Inlaws- not Outlaws

Something Else to be Afraid of

A Widow’s Walk is Never Carved in Stone

The Heart Expands – Love After Loss

“Who do you like better?”

This is the awkward, yet somewhat serious and comical question my eight-year-old son by marriage asked a couple of months ago as we were leaving the cemetery. The five of us – my husband Keith and I and our three boys – visited my late husband Michael’s graveside, for the first time all together, on Father’s Day.

While there, we prayed, and I cried. As we got into the car he was curious – “You were fine on the way here. Why did you get so upset?”

We talk about Michael in our home often and he seems to get that my son Ty lost his father, but I am not sure he understands the role Michael played in my life as my husband. So I tried to explain, “You know how your dad and I are married, and he is my husband? Well, Ty’s dad, Michael, was also my husband. And just like I love your dad very much, I love Michael too, and I miss him. God has blessed me with two amazing men and marriages!”

Just as I was getting those words out, his question quickly came, “Who do you like better?” Keith and I looked at each other and tried not to chuckle but to him, and so many others who have not experienced the horrific loss of a spouse, it can be nearly impossible to understand how our hearts can expand. It was difficult for me to understand, too, until it happened to me. The Lord allowed my husband Michael to make his way to heaven sooner than I ever planned and finding love again was never in my plans either, but it was in the Lord’s.

Since that June day, this question has stuck with me. I believe widowhood is a journey God calls us on and I know we are not all called to remarry, but for those of us who are, let me try to explain.

“I don’t like either of them better,” I said, “They are two different people. Just as God loves all of us as His children and how your dad loves you and your brother the same, no more, no less – that is how I feel about your dad and Michael.”

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

You see, God made us for love, and when our husbands move from this life to heaven, that love never changes or goes away. Our hearts are made bigger, there’s an expansion, just as they would when a family has another child. Their love for their first child is not replaced or diminished when they have the second. The same goes for a remarried widow. Our late husbands and the love we have for them can never be replaced. And because we know that loving and losing is a reality – it takes great strength and courage to allow ourselves to fall in love again. That is where we have to lean on the Lord and follow where He is leading.

Learning to love again can be full of fear and “what ifs” and if God does lead you there, the duality of grief and the love for our late husbands will always stand. But that doesn’t mean our hearts aren’t large enough to love another.

God made us to love, and life can still be beautiful.

Lord, We want to stay close to you, so we know where you are leading. Open our hearts to what you have planned for us. Give us strength and courage for this new life, wherever you call us. 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.

Want to read another article by Jennifer? I am not Equipped

Want to read another article about love after loss? When Joy and Sorrow Mingle

Golly Gee!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

Golly gee, can people just remember to say one standard line to a widow like, “This is hard. I’m here if you need me.”

And can we widows try to remember how hard it is to say the right thing? Maybe even coach people on what to say to a grieving widow.

With ten years since my loss, I look back with a lighter heart at the ways people fumbled, bumbled and stumbled over just what to say to a widow.

Here is my “Golly Gee, they didn’t just say that!” list of the botched approaches:

Good grief approach –
“You poor thing. Bless your heart! Let me take care of you!”

I’m not a poor thing. Give me some credit for not going over the cliff right now.

OMG approach –
“Oh my gosh! That’s so awful! I couldn’t handle that! You must be so strong!”

I gulped and thought, Guess what, sister, we don’t get a choice on what we have to handle, so excuse me for not accepting that compliment. How about God chooses you to be strong instead of me?

Lucky dog approach –
“Wow you’re so lucky. I’d far rather have the insurance payout than my husband sticking around.”

No kidding, this happened! I found myself quietly shunning the woman. I now regret that. She could have used a friend to help her see the good in her married life. She finally left her husband and has regretted her lonely walk ever since.

Lazy husband approach –
“I know exactly how you feel. My husband doesn’t lift a finger at home.”

I reacted, “at least you get to wake up next to the lazy jerk every morning!” Needless to say, the blunt retort didn’t do much to encourage this woman.

You’re young approach –
“don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll find somebody.”

I said nothing and fumed over the comment until I realized she only wanted to encourage and meant absolutely nothing ill by it, just needed a little coaching on what to say.

Get on with it approach –
“Get to work. Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

I felt guilty for spinning my wheels in that first year and recalled the conversation every time we bumped into each other. What a mistake! She didn’t even remember it because what she really meant was she felt compassion for me.

Evading approach –
“ “

The person simply stays away. My reaction ranged from not registering their disappearance to being deeply hurt. I now know I wasted too much emotion here. Many AWOL friends either didn’t want to crowd me or had their own emotional issues about death.

Endlessly dedicated approach—
“There’s got to be something I can do. Anything. Just give me a task, now. You don’t have anything? Well, let me follow you around until I figure out a task.”

My reaction to this type of friend was to begin accommodating her need to help. It was sweet at first but soon became a burden for me as I ran out of things to give her and found her “help” to be an albatross around my neck.

Reacting offensively to an offense does nothing to repair the damage. And if you can learn to see the person through the eyes of Christ, you can have grace and respond to them gently as in Proverbs 15:1.

I now try to understand the heart behind the person’s comment and thank people for trying to help. If I’m ever in that place again, I’ll just let people know that it’s okay to just sit quietly with me or say a simple “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Because the truth is, we all can use grace with one another.

Golly gee, Lord,
I’ve learned something here—I will never judge another for trying to say the right thing because God knows I’ve missed the mark many times! I only pray that my lesson can be learned from someone going through these very conversations today. Amen

 


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

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

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

You might also like these posts by our team:

Perhaps

Yes! I  Still Cry

Dating a Widow

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