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.

For a similar article click on the following link:

perspective cures envy

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Other Side of the Sob

Today we welcome our sister and former team writer Ami Wickiser to our blog. At the end of Ami’s post is a link for more information if you would like to guest blog for us.


​I watched her greet person after person, carried along by evident grace. She wanted it to be a celebration instead of a funeral. And indeed, the atmosphere buzzed with the hum of conversation while folks enjoyed dinner and dessert. Pictures of a life well-lived filled the space.

From across the room her eye caught mine. And in the span of a heart beat, she was in my arms collapsing under the weight of her sobs. Without words, we stood that way for a long time. I held her tightly and cried with her.

“I know I can let it all out with you.”

Yes, dear one. It’s ok to weep and grieve even amid a celebration of life.

Three years earlier, the same lady was at the hospital when my life shattered, and I collapsed into her arms. We had been alone in the emergency room, Jon and I. But he went into cardiac arrest, and I needed someone to come. Looking down at my phone, there was her contact information. Mechanically, I touched the screen, not completely aware of who I was calling.

She was there when I finally gave a doctor permission to stop trying to save my husband’s life.It was in her arms that I silently prayed, “Yes Lord, He’s yours. I give him back to you.”

Two lives intertwined through the deepest of moments.

But now I was on the other side of the sob.

I can’t say I was fully prepared to dive down deep with her, or that her weeping didn’t recreate a dozen vivid images in my mind.And I can’t say I expected she would let her composure crack and the waves overtake her. But I’m glad she did. For there was grace for her to greet person after person.

And there was grace to weep.

I’m thankful she felt totally safe. And I’m thankful I could share the weeping with her.

On the other side of the sob I realize a few things:

  • I know suffering, that I may be able to suffer with others.
  • I know redemption in the midst and on the other side of the storm.
  • I have been deeply comforted.
  • Praise God for beauty out of ashes.
  • His plans and purposes are immensely beautiful.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so the we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

 

Comfort. It is the result of resting in God’s sovereignty and loving rule over my life.

Peace. I’m not free from troubles, but I possess a profound sense of well being because God is in control. The one who collapsed, could uphold another. I could look her in the eye and say:

It’s ok to weep. It’s ok to ask questions.

Cling to Christ. He carries.

“You won’t believe me now, but one day it will be better. It may be a long time, but one day you’ll want to live again.”

Jesus turns suffering into unspeakable joy.


If you are interested in guest blogging for us, please click the link here and get all the information.

Give it to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

But If Not: Deliverance, Doubts, and Devotion

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.  Daniel 3:17-18 ESV

God, I know You CAN heal my husband…

God, I know You are ABLE to heal this marriage…

God, I know You are STRONG ENOUGH to protect my children from evil influences…

Have you prayed similar prayers?

My doubts never come because I think God isn’t ABLE to do something. My doubts come because I don’t think He WOULD for me. Does He love me? Does He love them more? 

Here in our passage above, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death.

Facing. Death.

They were looking it square in the eyes.

They had no options.

Worship of the True God was not up for discussion, and they knew He was able to “deliver” them. What were they thinking that word meant? Rescue them? Make the fire go out? Probably all kinds of things went through their heads, but I’m guessing NOTHING like what really happened. You can read the full chapter here.

As a result of their hearts being so full of devotion to Jehovah God, they knew even if they were not swept off in a story-book rescue, they would not worship the false gods. They knew they would follow God even into the fire. 

Where was Daniel?  He was their leader. He was the strong one in the bunch.

Have you ever felt that God took the “strong one” in your life- your husband? I hear widows say often – I lost my rock, I lost my leader, I lost my spiritual guide.  But what did these three young men do when faced with the worst possible situation?  They proclaimed their faith. Loud. And. Strong. They had been led well by Daniel. They knew the Truth. And they received something far greater than their friend’s spiritual guidance. They gained an encounter with God right in the middle of the furnace! God was the fourth man in the fire, bringing the king to see the Truth.

That hit me right between the eyes.

I was led by a man who knew God deeply. I had a spiritual guide. He was a strong influence in my life. Now it has been removed. Can I now proclaim my faith loud and strong? Am I able to stand up to adversity so others see God through my life? Do I know God enough to depend on Him during my trials?

So when the worst possible thing happens

and the “rug is pulled out from under” us,

can we STAND? 

 

If our prayers for healing seem to go unanswered,

can we keep trusting?

 

When the fires of life seem to be lapping all around us,

can we bravely stand and say,

“Even if God doesn’t deliver us from the fires,

we will still follow”?

 

Has your strong person of influence been removed from your life? Are you being tested by the “fires” of life today? What or who are you trusting in?

From the passage in Daniel, we do NOT read that the three friends pulled the covers over their heads, crying out, “If only Daniel were here! He would know what to do!” Nope, they bravely stood strong on their convictions and knew exactly what they needed to do.

I need to follow the example of these young men–  stand strong on what I know is true about God and follow Him. Sometimes that will lead me into “fires” only He can deliver me from in a grand way. And sometimes our delivery comes only after we have lived through the flames, scorched and stinking of smoke. My life circumstances do not alter the fact that God loves ME. He is the “fourth” person in the furnace with ME. 

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the influences of strong believers in our lives. Help us when we are tested and tried, to bravely stand strong on the truth of Scripture and not on our feelings. When doubts come our way, lead us back to Your Word even if we are not delivered in the way we expect or desire. Amen

 

I heard this wonderful song recently that really spoke to this subject. I hope you enjoy it. Even If by Mercy Me.  The words are amazing. Another song from a few years ago is by Kutless, also called Even If.   And if you like the idea of dancing in that fire, you will enjoy this song by Jordan Feliz.

 


 

Elizabeth Kay Dyer

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. 

Are you finding that you are missing the role your husband played? You can read articles here.

If you want inspiration and vision for your future, you can click here. 

 

 

Acceptance?

In the beginning, the idea of accepting the death of my husband seemed totally impossible, mainly because I could give so many reasons why his death was unacceptable! God knows, I thrashed against acceptance, my heart broken, my life and future an alien place I never envisioned. Question marks dangled at the ends of my thoughts. If answers were the pathway to acceptance, I suspected it would forever elude me. However, the knowledge that God is good, no matter what, helped to gently usher me towards acceptance.

More deeply still I discovered that faith is anchored to the character of God in the storms of life.

GOD is ATTENTIVE

  • “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jer. 33:3 (ESV)
  • “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:15 (ESV)
  • “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”- Matthew 6:31,32 (ESV)

GOD is COMPASSIONATE and FAITHFUL

  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
  • ”But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15 (ESV)
  • “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV) (We are His kids!)

The knowledge of God’s character was a comfort as I wrestled to make sense of my finances, reconciled medical bills, and relocated to a new home, all within the first year. During that time, and well beyond, I toggled back and forth within the stages of grief but did not get close to accepting my husband’s absence. Ultimately, I flirted with acceptance before I could really exhale there.

I discovered acceptance isn’t the absence of missing or loving my sweetheart. Instead it is making peace with the loss, and learning how to integrate my husband’s death into my present life.

Once the initial numbness left, for a long while I felt I was going through the motions of living. A broken heart takes time to heal, and it was impossible to gather those broken pieces. God had them though. He cherished them and cared for them, while enabling me gradually to re-engage my heart in living. It was under the wing of God’s loving care, and with the anchor of knowing His goodness, that He knit together the broken pieces and I could fully engage in my altered life. Love, longing for my husband’s presence, and moments of sorrow remain. Yet, in making peace with the tremendous loss of my beloved, I have found a new peace in the present and am invested in living until I’m called home. I believe this is called “acceptance.”

“For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100:5 (ESV)

All-Present God, may our faith not be circumstantial but anchored by the eternal consistency of your character, confident in your steadfast love. Lord, please lead us to accept the healing of our hearts and lives for the future you have in your sights for each of us. Thank you that our futures are as unique for each as each is unique. We look to You and thank you that while we don’t see our path, You guide us step by step. In Christ’s Name, we pray. 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.

For more reading on the topic of God’s anchoring us throughout the stages of grief, you may enjoy these:

Applying Peace by Lori

Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me by Karen

 

Will We Choose Misery or Ministry?

No one would willingly choose this widow path we have been assigned to walk. It is a painful, definitive part of our whole journey, no matter what the future holds. In an instant every choice we had about the direction of life with our husband was taken out of our grasp; however, we do still have at least one choice to make about the direction of our life going forward — whether we will respond to our circumstance by living a life of misery or ministry.

As a new widow, the pain is overwhelming. Understandably, we may not envision a time when we will have the ability to help others as we so badly need others to minister to our needs and those of our family members. In the early days it takes every bit of strength and focus just to process what goes on around us from minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day; but at some point  as the fog clears and healing begins, opportunities to serve people outside of our family will present themselves. At that time, we choose to either remain focused only on self and the misery of our loss or to begin focusing on others and how we can minister to them.

It has been like medicine to my soul to meditate on passages of Scripture that encourage me to focus on something beyond the pain of my own circumstance and to recognize opportunities to practice serving others. One such passage expresses the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians.

“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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

From this we can see at least eight things that can encourage us. We are

  1. to rejoice
  2. to let our reasonableness be known to everyone
  3. not to be anxious about anything
  4. to let our requests be known to God through prayer, with thanksgiving
  5. to know that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
  6. to think on the positive list of things given in this passage
  7. to practice what we learned in this passage
  8. and when we do practice these things, he says the God of peace will be with us.

It is natural and beneficial to grieve at our own pace; but it is detrimental to wallow in grief, both to us and to those around us. Just as with open wounds, we need to apply the medicine that will help us to heal, even though scars will remain. Wounds that remain open can fester, cause infection, and decay. Scars can be a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness to bring healing and purpose to our lives and can be instrumental in helping others to heal as well.

What will we choose? Misery or ministry?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21 (ESV)

Lord, please bring us all to a place of healing from the pain of loss, leaving only the scars that testify to Your mercy and goodness in carrying us through our trials. You have promised us Your peace that surpasses all understanding and You have promised to be with us when we practice what we have learned. Please help us choose ministry over misery so that we can be used to minister to other people for Your glory. 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: Breathing In HopeNew Paint

What Can I Do?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

                                                                                                                   Isaiah 26:3 ESV

 

My whole world is upside down. Why am I still here?

These thoughts and many like them can run through our minds time and time again.

We often question our purpose when our lives, and what we thought our futures would be, have changed so drastically. But the truth is, the purpose of our lives, the reason we have been created, hasn’t changed. We are created by Him, for His glory.

I am so broken. How could I possibly bring Him glory?

Today in all your brokenness, can you imagine doing something so powerful, so significant that it would be worthy of being included in God’s Word? Every day you choose to trust God, you are doing something that worthy, powerful and significant. You are following Christ, just like the woman in the crowd who reached out and grabbed His cloak – because she trusted He was who He said He was. (story told in Mark 5:25 -34) Trusting Him brings Him glory and it brings you peace.

I have nothing left to give. What can I give?

I love that Jesus used a widow to teach the world what it means to give. (story told in Luke 21:1-4) The world teaches us to give when we have extra. Jesus teaches us that to truly love someone means you are willing to give everything. He demonstrated this when He gave His Son to die on the Cross for us. As widows, worldly things no longer seem as important and we find ourselves able to focus more on the eternal. As we focus on God, giving everything -all of us – becomes our goal and our actions can become the example for the world. We are perfectly positioned to teach the world how to give.

I’m just a widow. What can I do?

Unfortunately, the title widow usually conjures up the image of someone who is washed up and needs to be taken care of, with nothing to give. And if we allow it, that can happen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have Christ living in us. He is our strength. And in many ways, because of our circumstances we are in a better position than ever to do what God has called us to do.

We are in the refiner’s fire and we have a better grasp of what is truly important, so we can encourage others to have an eternal focus.

We are persevering through many trials and God is making us mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2) so we can disciple others with what God is teaching us.

We are drawing closer to God and He is drawing closer to us so we can teach others about God’s character.

We can pray more intimately because our faith has grown and we know our God cares.

We can speak God’s truth into others lives, because we have lived it and we have seen the fruit that obedience brings.

We can face the giants of this world because we know where our strength comes from.

We can change the world by telling the story of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

We can love as God loves, giving everything we have.

We can trust Him in all circumstances which will bring Him glory!

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for loving us the way You do. Thank You for creating us for a purpose – to glorify You so that we can encourage others to come to know You. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who lives in us and gives us the strength we need. Please give us opportunities to pray more faithfully, speak Your truth more boldly, love more deeply, give more completely and share the story of Your faithfulness in our lives, all for Your Glory.   Amen.


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? Draw Closer

Want to read another article about trust? Two Years and Trusting in Him

Draw Closer

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

                                                                                                                John 16:7 ESV

I AM SICK OF DEATH!

Raw, heartfelt words exchanged with one of my closest friends this week as we tried to deal with the loss of one of our young friends. Our friend entered the gates of heaven after a tragic car accident while traveling home from a holiday visit with family. Our hearts are broken once again as we dwell on thoughts of the devastation and loss her husband and two young kids are experiencing. Once again, it just feels like too much. Way too much!

When I am struggling, I sometimes think about the disciples and their journey. This week as I struggled to deal with yet another death, I found myself almost envious of their time with Jesus. The disciples had the opportunity to walk with Jesus in the flesh, face-to face, every day. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could see Him in the flesh? To have a tangible, visual reminder He is with us? Would it change things for me?

If Jesus were here in the flesh, I don’t think I would sit in front of Him and tell him I feel so alone, it would seem silly if He was sitting right there. I don’t think I would do many of the things I do. Can you imagine binge watching the latest reality show with our Lord and Savior sitting in the room?  My guess is I would scurry around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to serve Him until eventually the light bulb would come on and I would remember the story of Martha and Mary. Then hopefully, I’d finally sit at his feet and totally immerse myself in His presence. I wouldn’t want any distractions. Ahhh, if only He were here in the flesh…

It is sad how off track we can get in our thinking. Why would I ever want Jesus in the flesh when what I have is SO MUCH MORE! JESUS LIVES IN ME! I never, ever have to do this alone! One of the most powerful lessons we can learn from the disciples is we can never be faithful enough or close enough to God on our own – even if Jesus were physically standing right in front of us as He was with the disciples. God’s plan is bigger and so much more. His plan was to send the Helper -the Holy Spirit.

To dwell in us.

                                So we could draw closer.

                                                                                                To Him.

I hate death, but at the same time I recognize it is a powerful time to see God at work.  In the midst of the devastation, we tend to falter, show our weakness, and the Helper becomes more visible. If we know Him, we recognize it is He who helps us draw closer. Maybe not in the way we would have thought or in the time-frame we wished it had happened, but He is there. Always. Helping. Drawing us closer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Father, we praise You for who You are. You are the creator of the Heavens and the Earth and You are our Creator. Father, we thank You for loving us and giving us Eternal Life with You. We thank You for the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. We thank You for helping us to draw closer. In Your Son’s precious and holy name. Amen.

 


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? Extravagant Love

Want to read other  articles about drawing close to God? I Choose You, Lord by Teri Cox

 


 

A New Word for a New Year

Galatians 3:11 (The Message)

The person who lives in

right relationship with God

does it by EMBRACING

what God arranges for him.

My mouth fell open. I sat in shock as the speaker seemed to look directly at me. How could she have known what God had been doing in my life for the past six months? It appeared she could see directly into my heart as she spoke.

But the verse she used almost made me stand up and shout, “Thank You, Jesus!” She had us turn to this verse in Galatians, and when she read it from The Message, it gave me chills.

You see, in 2016, I found a word, just one seven-letter word, that was to be my “word for the year”.

Embrace.

When I saw this verse had MY word in it, I knew I needed to take careful note.

God had shown me the word EMBRACE often over the past six months before I ever thought to see if there were any verses about it. I should have known that if God was going to lead me to a “word”, He would include His Word with it!

So what did I have to EMBRACE in 2016?

  • my widowhood – it is what God has arranged for me, and it is my story to bring Him glory.

  • my family – having children was arranged by God, so I embrace parenting with God as the father to the fatherless.

  • my past marriage – its difficulties  have allowed me to minister to others in similar circumstances. Its greatness has allowed me wonderful memories.

  • moving –  selling the home full of memories of my husband and purchasing a smaller home ready for new memories was a roller coaster of emotions.

As I develop my relationship with God by spending time with Him in His Word, I will EMBRACE what He arranged for me. I like to use my One Year Bible since it is a version I don’t use often. I see familiar passages in an entirely new light.

Recently I asked God if EMBRACE  was to continue as my word for 2017. Driving around with my son one day, our discussion turned to a relationship I was struggling with. What came to mind was how I should handle rejection by praying for the person. That’s when a new word for the new year hit me –

RELEASE! 

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will RELEASE my feet from the snare. 

Psalm 25:15 NIV

What do I need to RELEASE for 2017?

  • people – certain folk I am releasing to God (some on social media and some in real life).

  • situations – those I can’t control (like the Serenity Prayer says) need to be released to God’s control.

  • expectations – of myself and of others are being released.

All of these are snares for me personally. And keeping my eyes “ever on the Lord” is the best way to release these people or feelings to His control.

Happy 2017, sisters. Let’s make this a year of EMBRACING what God has arranged for us and of RELEASING what God doesn’t have for us.

Heavenly Father, as we start a new year, help us embrace all You have arranged. Energize our time spent building our relationship with You this coming year. We are grateful for Your love and care in our lives. We release what we cannot control to Your control. Amen

 


 

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. 

Would you like to read some articles for the start of a new year? Click here and here.

 

16 is my number

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


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

16 is my number….  Let me explain!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is here and He knows.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Other articles by this author click here. 

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