The Valley of the Shadow

 

 

The valley of the shadow…

What is it?

I used to believe it referred to fear of facing terminal illness, or fearing death itself. And it still might mean that to some. But I now realize it can also mean walking through the shadow of death as one left behind.

How to describe walking through this valley?

Feeling dazed and confused. Navigating a deep, dark, winding pathway with no guardrails in sight.

Fear!

Understandably, my husband’s unexpected death shook me to my core. In that moment nothing felt safe or secure. Our family as we knew it was gone forever, yet I was supposed to carry on as head of our home; to lead our children without him.

For the first time in life, I feared the future.

Initially, fear coursed through my veins. Listening to the frightened child within that wanted to curl up and shut out the world would have been easy. But faith in God and the example of other believers would not let me dwell in that world of fear.

My grandmother, twice widowed, gave me hope to find happiness after loss. And I remembered the faithful example of my great-aunt, widowed through tragedy; she was the one who helped me and countless others memorize Psalm 23 at her private kindergarten.

David gave us words to live by in that Psalm, where he reminded himself to rest in God no matter what his circumstance.

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

 

David did not get a free pass to go around the valley. He had to walk through it. So did my grandmother and my great-aunt. Now it was my turn. Believers called to walk through the valley will have access to God’s rod and staff to receive comfort. Clinging to that allowed me to rise above the fear that threatened to overtake my mind.

Over five years have passed since I began my personal journey through the valley. Many life events have taken place.

I have successfully homeschooled and graduated four of our five children, bought and sold homes, and made financial decisions alone. I have married again to a wonderful man and blended our families.

God has helped me overcome fear of the unknown and of failure.

Yet fear still tries to raise its ugly head in unexpected ways sometimes.

I attribute that to the valley of the shadow of death, and as a result I am not sure it will ever go completely away. Mostly, it arises now when I hear of someone else facing trauma or loss. Because I know the pain and the fear they are facing, I feel panic begin. It is a sympathetic response on my part. I don’t want anyone to suffer that pain and fear.

Honestly, sometimes it also still shows up when I feel out of control in my own life. I quickly take myself back to Scripture that comforted me before, not just one verse, but the whole chapter of Psalm 23.

And as promised, He restores my soul.

 

Father, the valley of the shadow of death is not an easy place to be. Naturally, we want to remain on the mountaintop instead, although we know that is not possible. We know You are with us on our journey and Your rod and staff do comfort us. Please help us to cling to Your word for the restoration of our weary souls, and allow us to dwell in Your house forever. Amen.


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

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

Articles with a similar theme:  I Cry Out

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

One Promise From Scripture

One promise from Scripture, found in Isaiah 54:4-8.

 

 

Three widows, encouraged by the promise of the One.

 

Only six months after my husband’s death I learned that a former classmate’s daughter lost her husband of three months. She asked if I would meet with her daughter to counsel her; so I agreed. Because I had been in her situation, I was anxious to comfort rather than cause her more distress. God’s words would comfort better than my words.

First, as I drove to meet them that Saturday afternoon I prayed the Lord would give me just the right words to say and the right time to say them.

Second, I prayed she would both receive and retain whatever He chose to have me say.

Because we lived an hour apart, we met outside of Starbucks in a town between our homes. Sadly, I recognized the dazed look in her young eyes; I saw the same hollowness when I looked in the mirror the day my husband died.

Although fragile, the new widow recounted the story of her husband’s death. Rather than ask questions, I listened. She asked how she was supposed to go on with life?

Once again I prayed for help. Suddenly, the words I had been waiting for became clear to me.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called.” Isaiah 54:4-5 (ESV)

Tenderly I reminded her that though she lost her earthly husband, there could be no greater Husband and Provider than the One who gave her life. Confidently I promised her He would be faithful and never leave her. Finally, I hugged her and also promised to continue to pray for her.

The young widow was encouraged by this promise from God.

 

After church the following day I drove to a beautiful mountaintop wedding. The bride was the daughter of a dear friend whose husband died the year before mine.

Because it was the first wedding I attended where the father was deceased and therefore not present to give the bride away, I visualized that same future for my two unmarried daughters. I was understandably emotional. While I allowed myself a moment to experience pre-grieving of events that were not even on our calendar, I also recognized the need to focus on the present event. I needed to pray for my friend as she watched her daughter walk alone to meet her groom.

Before the wedding began, my former classmate called. Excitedly she gave confirmation to the Scripture I shared with her daughter the day before. She shared that when they arrived at church that morning their pastor announced that he would be preaching from Isaiah 54.

Her daughter leaned over and whispered to her, “Your friend was telling the truth. God will be my Husband and my Provider.

Hearing words of confirmation encouraged my heart.

 

The wedding was beautiful, yet so hard to watch as the bride walked toward her husband without her father. During the reception I shared with her mother the events of the day before and the confirmation phone call.

Consequently, the mother of the bride was comforted and encouraged to hear that Scripture as well.

 

 

God’s Word does not return void.

I could not help but praise God for His timing and His care to put that particular passage on my heart as I talked with the young widow. As a result, one promise from Scripture had now blessed three of us.

Even saying the word “widow” was hard for me in the first days after it became my reality.

But the more I studied God’s Word the more I realized that to Him, a widow holds a special place of tenderness and concern. Therefore, I learned to lean into His care! Now I embrace the word for what it embodies about God’s character.

Widows are a priority with God!

Due to your circumstances, perhaps you are struggling to believe that you matter to Him.

Never doubt that He will be your Husband and Provider. In the same way, remember He keeps His promises!

 

Father, widowhood can be scary and lonely. There are decisions to be made and work to be done and sometimes it seems that no one cares. Thank You for reminding us through Your Holy Word that You are our Husband and Provider. And no one could care for us more than You do. Help us remember that and to cling to your promise. Amen.


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

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

Articles with a similar theme:  One  and Chosen

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Caring What Others Think

Losing your husband and everything that comes with that loss is horrific enough, but when others pass judgment on our lives and decisions it can be extremely difficult. As human beings, it’s tough to ignore what others think of us because no matter how much we say we don’t, we care.

Because my husband died of Depression and suicide, the judgment began immediately. No one understood that it was a shock to me, too. No one understood that he was the last person on this earth I ever thought this could happen to. No one understood, including me, that many people who are suffering from Depression try to protect the ones they love by only showing what they want them to see, even to their spouse and best friend.

In the beginning, I paid little attention to that judgment. I was just trying to survive. But as time passed, the thoughts about my family, especially my husband, began to really impact me. And, as the months went on and I unexpectedly found love again – many could not understand, passed judgment and made comments of what they would do in the same situation.

However, here’s the thing and one of the many things I have learned – you have absolutely no idea what you will do until you face that situation and, even then, specific circumstances could be different.

From the beginning of this journey of widowhood to today, I remind myself that I cannot make life decisions for my son and myself only to make others comfortable. I have to follow where the Lord is leading. His grace is sufficient for any problem, struggle or judgment we may face.

I prayed for the Lord’s guidance and tried to turn my defensive thoughts over to Him. He knows my heart, and I knew those who loved me and really knew me would eventually come to a place of understanding. And, most of them have.

When worry of what others think and my own defensive mindset attempt to consume me, I cling to this verse.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Caring too much about what others think can stop us from doing God’s will. When we base our lives on the thoughts of others, we could miss out on all He has in store for us. Lean into Christ. If we are confident in Him, we can be confident in every area of our lives.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Lord, You know our hearts. As we walk this journey of widowhood, we can sometimes care too much of what others think. Help remind us that what you know about our hearts is more important than what others think they know. Guide us through, and open our hearts to Your calling for our lives. Amen.

__________________________________________________________________________

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

 

 

Want to read another article by Jennifer? This Isn’t What I had Planned

Want to read another article on judgment? Get Over It by Erika

 

Living Water

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

                                                                     John 7:38 ESV

 

No one ever said it would be this hard or last this long.

A vivid memory from my younger days sometimes floods my mind. I remember a story on the national news of a woman running a marathon brilliantly but in the final stretch, her body started to give out. There on television for the entire world to see, her bowels released.  Horrified, I thought about her humiliation and her struggle. Incredibly, she managed to finish.

There are days this grief journey feels just as hard as her race.

Twenty plus years later and I am still inspired by her perseverance. It was a ninety-second news story that taught me a profound lesson about never giving up. I wonder how many others were impacted by her story. I have no idea who technically won the race that day, but sometimes winning isn’t about crossing the finish line first– it’s about enduring what seems like insurmountable obstacles.

Many, many times on this journey, I feel like I have nothing more to give. I become convinced I can’t take one more step. When I look at the years I could have left on this earth, living alone, I want to give up. I want the pain to stop. I want the emptiness and loneliness to end.

But each step is possible because I believe Jesus is who He says He is. And because I believe in Him, I will never have to do this alone. The Holy Spirit is living in me. As a vessel for the Holy Spirit there is no doubt that my life has purpose and meaning. His word tells me in John 7:38 that from my heart will flow rivers of living water.

Not stale, stagnate, murky water but living water. This reminds me that no matter how hard or how long this journey feels, no matter how much I feel like giving up or feel like my body is going to give out, something precious is still flowing through me to others.

Through all the tears, exhaustion, and heartache, it is hard to imagine we can possibly be of value to anyone else. What can we possibly give to others when we face so many challenges just in trying to accomplish our daily activities?

The living water is flowing from our hearts. We have God’s love and mercy to share with others. Our journey strengthens our faith. We become better at keeping our focus on God, living with a peace that transcends all understanding, and caring for others more deeply. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the more we seek Him, the more we are transformed into His likeness.

Day by day our faith becomes more evident to those around us. They are watching because they know this is the most difficult trial anyone can ever face. God uses our circumstances to strengthen our faith and theirs. I’ll never forget how at our first conference our praise team comprised of musicians, worship leaders and pastors, expressed how impactful it was to them to worship with widows. To know what we had lost and to see how faithfully we responded in worshipping our Lord was incredibly inspiring to them. Like the runner who inspired me so long ago with her perseverance, now we are the ones inspiring others.

Dear sisters, please be encouraged today that regardless of how you feel or what you accomplish today, the living water will continue to flow from your heart!  You are persevering and God is using you!


SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandchildren. 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 Sheryl or another team member speak please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Want to read another article by this author? Stay Connected

Want to read another article? It’s Okay To Be Real!

 

It’s Okay To Be Real!

“It’s okay to be real!”

I repeated that phrase multiple times after my husband died — to my children, to myself, and later to other widows.

There is no “right” way to grieve.

We all process differently. Some people are private. Some spill every thought and emotion for all to see.

I was a new widow with five children, all trying to process our loss. It would have been great to think that together we would follow a set path of grief from one stage to the next. That is not how it worked.

I have a couple of children who analyzed each thought as we talked. Others would dump a load of thoughts at one time but did not expect to discuss them. Some wanted to rush through grief by listening to every sad song they could get their hands on. Others did not want to hear anything sad and fell apart listening to music in general.

WHEW!

I wondered how I would cope and work through my own grief while helping my children who approached it differently. Then I remembered airplane protocol during an emergency landing — I needed to take care of me FIRST, in order to help them.

Grief rolls like a rollercoaster!

Grief can be ugly. At its most raw, it can make other people feel helpless and uncomfortable. Covering up our feelings in order to please others or keep them from concern does not help anyone.

That is why I told my children, “It’s okay to be real!”.

Pretending grief is not there because you don’t want to go through the pain is not an option either. Eventually each stage hits you, ready or not. Repeatedly directing yourself back to God’s Word for your response to grief makes it easier to navigate in times of need.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

We each had needy days when grief felt like the gravitational pull of the earth magnified solely on us, paralyzing even normal movement. For me those days were few. When they came around I was very intentional to allow my mind and body to have much needed rest. I was watchful of my children and when I saw they were having one of those days I directed their activities to stop for necessary down time.

Other days we felt more capable of navigating life, though grief was still present. On those days we resumed normal activities. We attempted to move forward the way my husband would have encouraged us to do.

The best days included laughter again over things large and small. The blessing of uncontrollable laughter that returned was the best because we all loved to laugh.

In hindsight, our differences were a blessing from God.

One or more would encourage any who were having a bad day. After the initial shock of our loss, I don’t remember many times when everyone struggled simultaneously. Even on dreaded “first” celebration days it was amazing how we helped each other. We learned flexibility and to read each other’s distress signals well.

There is nothing abnormal about grieving openly, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for some people to observe. Jesus Christ set our example at the death of his friend, Lazarus:

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (ESV)

Friends told us it helped them to see how our family grieved together because we made it easy for others to grieve with us. One dear friend told me she was determined to interact differently with her own children after watching me grieve openly with mine because she had never let her children see her cry about anything. Learning to grieve with others is a blessing.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (ESV)

It’s okay to be real!

 

Lord, please help us to allow other people to share in both our joy and in our grief. We do not know what added blessing may come from our willingness to be real in our relationships. Make us aware of the needs of those around us who might not realize that they can be real with us, too. Please help them to know that we care. Amen.


 

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

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

Articles with a similar theme:  All Eyes are NOT on You   Get Over It 

When the Shoe is On the Other Foot

My cell phone rang one afternoon. I glanced at the caller ID and saw it was one of my “widow sisters”.

Our “small talk” was cut short when she jumped right into the reason for her calling. She felt awful because of a friendship that has been wounded.

Remember all the times you have struggled with losing friendships after the loss of your husband?

“Why would she avoid me like this?”

“What did I do to make them not want to include me anymore?”

“She never even called me after my greatest loss!”

We have written several articles about these situations because the loss of friendships after the loss of our husbands is like a double-whammy. We needed these friends, and they weren’t there for us.

My friend was in tears because she realized she was ONE of those friends this time. A high- profile death occurred in her city, and she wasn’t in the closest circle of friends. The husband passed away suddenly, and my friend was advised to “lay low” for a while, but was in constant prayer for the family. The families had such an interesting relationship over about twenty years. Picture frames held glimpses of outrageously fun trips with her children. Always her prayer list included members of this family.

Now, many months after the man’s death, an email showed up in my friend’s mail.

“Where have you been?”

“Of all people, you should have been here.”

Like a knife, it stuck in her heart.

The shoe was on HER foot this time. She was ONE of those friends. My friend is so thoughtful and a true prayer-warrior. She never would be like this. But she listened to advice that now had come back to hurt them both. She remembered those friends who stepped out of the picture when her own husband died as a young father. She remembered the empty feeling of not having a close connection during the most painful time as a young solo parent. And now the pain of knowing she had done the same thing unintentionally was devastating.

As I listened, one word came to my mind.

Grace.

But he said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for YOU, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Sometimes we have to give ourselves grace, not to mention others.

Sometimes we have to embrace our failures so Christ is able to shine through. Just like the pieces of a stained glass window are most beautiful when the sun shines through, we are most beautiful when we let Christ show through our weaknesses. The people who see this will know for sure it is God and not our own strength.

My advice to my beautiful friend was to do what she had already been led by God to do: contact her immediately and apologize. She needed to let this friend know she had never ceased praying for her and her family. Not sure of the new widow’s spiritual standing, my friend never intended to be a stumbling block to her faith journey.

Guilt over mistakes and weaknesses is not from God.

But allowing Christ to shine through our cracks and broken pieces is often when others see Him the brightest.

Have you been unintentionally aloof to another new widow, just waiting for the “right time” to say something but never seeing a chance? Have you not reached out to another friend when you should have? We all are guilty of things in friendships that hurt others. But I find it so easy to point out the people in my life who have not been the friend I needed. This call from my friend was a reminder to me to evaluate MY part in friendships.

Lord Jesus, thank You for opportunities to share the comfort You have given us through our deepest valley and darkest days. Give us chances each day to shine Your light so others can see it in our weaknesses. Friends are a gift so help us appreciate the friends we have while looking for ways we can be a better friend to others. Amen 


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

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

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

Here’s a great article about friendships from Erika.

Another great article from Kit.

 

The Greater Choice, Based on the Greater Truth

“The Lord is good.”

Psalm 100:5 (ESV)

Did the deluge of choices begin immediately for you?

For me they began at the hospital.

What do I do now?

Do I go home?

Can I trust myself to drive?

These were the first of many choices I didn’t want to face.  Even though my husband had been battling metastatic cancer, his death stunned me and produced both soul-numbing and penetrating agony.  It also sent my mind reeling to assimilate the reality that he was truly gone from me and with His Lord and mine.  Amidst the many unwanted choices required from day one, and in the aftermath, a larger question has always been present:

Who will I be when all the dust settles?

It’s a fair question. Have you wondered who you will be?  Who are you becoming? We know we cannot finish the same way we entered this experience. Our spouses’ death was life-altering to each of us. We continue here, but as we do, how are we altered?

How we respond to our experiences is defining. A singular challenge is that the One who allowed our grief circumstances, is the very One who has our means to function in them. The very grace of God is His empowerment to us. However, it is difficult to hold two truths which seem at odds. Here’s an example from my own story:

The same God who loved me so much He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for me, is the same God who allowed the staggering pain of my husband’s cancer, death, and my own grief. These two things are at odds, valid as they are different.

I have learned to hold one truth within the other by using an eternal lens to view the present.

I hold the truth that God allowed the staggering pain of my husband’s cancer, death, and my own grief, in the hand of the other truth—that God sent Christ for love of me, my husband, our children… to offer all people the opportunity to know His love eternally.

How we choose to hold the two truths of our stories determines much about how we are altered by our losses and who we become.

This is our greater choice. We can view the temporary by the eternal or the eternal by the temporary. One inspires closeness to God and access to His grace. The other tends to do the opposite. My choice is to view the unwanted alterations to my life by the greater truth: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” – Eph. 1:3 (NIV)  God’s love and goodness are undeniable.

My choice is to avoid giving the pain command to alter my view of God. I don’t have to understand it all. The cross tells me enough.

Precious Lord, we ask for Your empowering grace and the eternal Truth of Who You are and what You did for us to frame how we face every alteration in our lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Janene @ Myrtle Beach

Janene lives in the Dallas area, surrounded by her children, their sweethearts, two grandchildren, and a host of wonderful friends.  Janene married her beloved Frank in 1972 and enjoyed 40 precious years with him. Four months after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, Frank lost his rigorous battle against bladder cancer. Frank left a void so vast, it was like a black hole which threatened to swallow Janene whole. However, God’s faithfulness has been exceptional. As a retired minister at a local church, she spends her time painting, mentoring, serving in Stephen Ministry leadership, and seeks to trust Christ in this new season of life.

 

Always of Good Courage – Day 1,826


Always of good courage

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

 

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

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

He would be:

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

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

 

PROUD of the accomplishments of our children.

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

 

THRILLED to know his grandson and future grandchildren!

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

CONTENT to be exactly where he is right now.

 

Without a doubt,

nothing would entice him to return to this life.

 

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

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

 

The Apostle Paul says,

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

 

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


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

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

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

I am not Equipped.

Some days are just hard. Some days my patience wears thin, and I feel like I’ve had enough. From the grief of losing my husband Michael to the challenges of blending a family and raising three boys, along with normal life stressors – emotions can TRY to take control – making us feel unqualified and unequipped for this journey. But as many of us have learned, emotions can be misleading.

There are many things I’ve learned since my husband Michael passed more than two years ago, but one thing continues to stand out:

God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.

We were not equipped for the emotions that come with losing our husbands … on our own. I was not equipped for January 15, 2015, and everything following that day.

On my own, I could not handle my husband and the father of my child dying by suicide. I was not prepared for my entire world and future to fall apart in just one moment.

On my own, I was not prepared to be a widow at thirty one.

On my own, I couldn’t fathom doing all of the things that come with being a widow and sole parent.

On my own, the fear felt suffocating.

On my own, I could not have faced another day.

No human being is equipped to deal with that kind of trauma, ON OUR OWN.

Though I may not have been equipped to face those horrific circumstances or the challenges of blending a family and becoming a step mom on my own, the Lord equipped me to lean on Him – to lean into His strength, comfort and peace to make it through the unbearable days and even the impatient ones. He knows none of us are equipped to handle trials of this magnitude alone. That’s why He stands by our side and never leaves us, equipping us with His strength. He tells us this time and time again.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him …” Hebrews 13:20-21

I was not prepared to lose my husband, but the Lord did equip me to lean on Him for strength. His faithfulness is the reason I stand strong today. Sisters, He wants you to lean in, too. His strength will get you through.

Lord, We are all broken and in need of Your strength. Equip us accordingly to step forward in this new life, ready to do Your will. Protect us from the evil one and from self doubt that can sometimes overwhelm us. You have placed us on this path, and we know you will stand by us today and every day. Amen.


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

 

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

 Here’s another article you might like about battling Satan by Elizabeth, Catch the Foxes! 

Several members of our team have written on the experiences of losing a spouse to suicide. You can read the articles here.