A Legacy of Life Well Lived

Legacy is a loaded word for me now.  Becoming a widow at 35 years old made me acutely aware of the increased need to leave a legacy for my kids, while fiercely protecting and even nurturing my late husband’s legacy.  

In the beginning it was hard.  My husband died by suicide in a very public manner. The fear and shame of that fact drove me for awhile.  I feared how my very young children would ever live full lives with one parent missing. I was afraid of how damaging this would be for them as they learned the details and reality of their father’s death. I also spent countless hours trying to figure out how I could destroy the statistics they now faced in their own liveswith the hereditary factors of mental illnessI thought I needed to “prove” or “do” something, to create a “worthy” legacy to eliminate the stigma of suicide from all of us.

In the six plus years on this journey, God has healed me in mighty ways.  He’s taught me how to embrace the life He has ordained for me, and claim full victory in Christ over my husband’s suicidal death.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I am not defined by what’s happened to us.  My kids are not destined to become suicide victims, or prone to struggles themselves. 

My God is bigger!

My kids are His, and He has ordained their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

I can fully TRUST Him with their lives and with mine.  (Psalm 91:1-2)

I am a daughter of the KING and not bound by any stigma(2 Corinthians 6:18)

I have come to realize the legacy is in our entire story. That story still unfolds today.  It’s in our children and their limitless, God-designed futures.  Scott’s legacy is in his eternal reward he is receiving right now in Heaven. 

As a widow I get the unique privilege of not only seeing and influencing my husband’s legacy through sharing our story and raising our kids, but I am experiencing a greater sense of the importance in making sure I leave a positive, faith-filled, legacy too

My desire and prayer is to influence my children and anyone I can for the Kingdom.  

want to glorify God even in the midst of so much tough stuff; praying that God will continue to use me and my kids for His greater purposes, and my kids will choose to walk in full victory in Him throughout their lives.  

At the end, I hope the biggest part of my legacy will be I reflected Christ and faithfully followed Him all the days of my life. 


Here are some practical tips for living a legacy now that will impact the Kingdom for eternity:

• Share your story and your faith with everyone you can.
• Lead your home and your kids well rooted in the Lord and His Word. (Deuteronomy 6)
• Tell your kids about their daddies. Remember him well for them.
• Honor God, even in the mire of grief.
• Remind yourself and point your kids to God‘s redemptive plan. (Revelation 21:5)
• Leave fingerprints on this world by actively participating in your church and by making missions a mission.
• Comfort others with the same comfort you’ve been given. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
• Grow your faith through personal, small group, and large group studies.
• Find intentional ways to groyour kids faith.
• Surround your kids with those who’ll point them to Jesus.
• Pray for your kids, for their salvation, for their futuresand for their spouses.
• Pray for your future and seek His will for you now.
• Live life! (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12)
• Trust God in every single way, walking in the shelter of His love, grace, and provision every day. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other posts on leaving a legacy: New Traditions and Something old, something new

Dating 101

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?  Forever?  How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?  How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death.  Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed again him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.  But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.  I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. 

Psalm 13 KJV

When my husband died, I spent the first three years healing and asking God for direction for my life.  About three and a half years into my journey, I felt that God was opening my heart to search for another love.   So I dipped my toe into the dating pool.  I found very quickly that the pool is filled some sharks that are hungry, and you have to be very careful.

I have had a serious relationship that lasted about fifteen months, and because I lost my way in the thick of it, it lasted about six months longer than it should have.  The end was dramatic.  I was very defeated as I walked out of that relationship.  Then, I went on a series of texts and dates that all ended with no love or even friend connection.

I keep asking God if He wants me to continue this part of the journey.  I keep asking Him to close my heart and take away the desire of sharing my earthly life with another.  The more I pray, the more my heart remains open.  So I continue to pray and be open to meet people God brings into my life.

I don’t want this search to sound like it has overtaken my life.  I continue to work full time; own a home and maintain it; parent a college-age child; attend and volunteer in a local church; write for A Widow’s Might; fellowship with friends and family; and support the care for my parents.

There is a certain vulnerability in sharing this part of my life in an article, especially one that will be circulated among Christian readers.  Dating, especially for adult women, is really a quiet activity.  But, as I sit here tonight at my computer, I feel called to share that I have not yet been successful in finding someone to share my life and my love of Christ with.  In fact, I have met a lot of people who are fraudulent in who they really are.

I share this because I want you to know that this search for another life-mate is part of my widow journey.

I am whole in who I am right now.  I am complete and God can use me in a mighty way, right now.

But, for the moment, God is tending to my heart in a way that makes it open for love and for a life companion.

This article is not going to end with a nice, tidy ribbon tied to it.  I am still searching and I am walking out of another failed “friendship” after talking and sharing meals with someone for two months.  I am seeing how God is, with the people who have crossed my path so far, sparing me from lifelong pain in that they will not be a permanent part of my future.   My heart is intact and I can still love.  I am not bitter– but open to what God’s plan is for my life.

So, I encourage you to discern God’s call for your life.

  • If it is to have an open heart to share your life with someone, do so cautiously and safely. Glorify God in your search.  Keep your standards high and don’t compromise.
  • If you feel called to remain single, do so with joy, knowing you are complete and whole and God can use you in a mighty way. 

I’ll keep you posted on my journey.  God isn’t finished with me yet – there is still more to come!

Dear Lord, Thank You for being steady and constant and unfailing.  I remain obedient to You as I walk this part of the journey and Your call to me to share this part of the journey with others in a public way.  I know You will use this for good.  I love You and I am so excited to watch You work in my life.  Amen


Sherry Look

Sherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and has just started her second year of college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

If you liked this article, you might like: Dating a Widow by Kit Hinkle

 

I Struggle!

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22 ESV

 

Sometimes I feel like I could just write this one sentence and everyone would agree.

I struggle. PERIOD.

Enough said for widows and anyone who suffers loss, women, broken people, those with illness or disabilities, men, teens, Christians, unbelievers, old, young, rich and poor, everyone….

We all struggle.

I’m not “Super Susie Sunshine Christian” trying to make everyone around me believe that I have it all together and walk through life with no worries, pressures, or struggles.  I am a real woman trying to serve a very real God. Which I think will be a book someday, but for now, it’s just who I am. I’m on staff in this ministry, on staff at my church, own a business, founded a nonprofit, and yet most days I’m just trying to get out of bed and be dressed. That’s it; all I’ve got.

I struggle with lies of the enemy about my place, my worth, my value, my impact. I have less years to live than I’ve already lived. Will my life make a difference? I struggle with grief and brokenness, self image, weight and beauty, with financial decisions and provision. I struggle with words and thoughts that are not in, of, and for God.

Most people who meet me during the course of a day would not think this is true of me. By God’s grace alone, most days I make it past dressed and out of bed. I speak for a living, so I have to work hard to craft my people skills and my God given talents and gifts. I sing, write and travel. My desire is to empower everyone, I am allowed to speak into, with a glimpse of how to become their best selves. I want His light to shine through me. I KNOW God, I TRUST God and I try to LIVE God out-loud. I know how to take thoughts captive and command the enemy to flee not by my power, but by the power of Christ in me. Yet, there are still days when I struggle.

The difference is I have hope even when I struggle. Hope tomorrow will be a better day. That it will be a highlight reel day, instead of a cutting room floor day. Hope I can pull it together, because I get on my knees and let it go. Hope God will indeed be who He says He is; my redeemer, my rescuer, the lover of my soul.

Hope.

Hope is the most powerful tool of the human mind, the most sought after human emotion, and the only thing that some of us cling to on the worst days. God has a great deal to say about hope. This four letter word is mentioned over 120 times in the Bible. He knew we would NEED hope and as always, He provided.

Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. 

Proverbs 23:13 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

I Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I have no idea what you struggle with, but I want you to know today, if you struggle, it’s okay. We all do. You ARE NOT the only one! Grab hold of this fact, hope can overcome any of our struggles if our hope is found in the Lord.  Lay claim to His power, His strength, His promises. The struggle may be real, but in Christ there is truth and power. He is reality! The enemy has already been defeated and the victory has already been won.

Let your prayer today be a way to call it out; “I am victorious in Christ. He carries my burdens!” Jesus, my hope is in You. Amen!


 

Tcas1

Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012 after losing her best friend, Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

Would you like to schedule Teri or another team member to speak at your next church event? Contact her at admin@anewseason.net

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

Posts similar to this one by other authors: Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?  & Breathing in Hope Read more

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 .

Widow Out, Widow In!

There it was, staring down at us from its perfectly formed web…

A spider, complete with — what appeared to the non-trained eye– a sack of babies.

The house I had recently signed a contract on, upon further investigation, had a long-term “resident” who did not have plans on leaving anytime soon. It was the most beautiful web, large, detailed, undisturbed for what looked to us as months.

My realtor probably grew weary of my frequent text messages: “…And you did mention to the seller to have the house sprayed by the bug company, right?”

It was a big concern to me, to say the least. Of all the things, millions of tiny spiders, really creeped me out. It gave me the “willies” on a new level.

My moving was testing my trust in God. Daily. Some days I “passed” the test of trust, and many days I was filled with doubts. How would we fit? Who will help us? How much more do I need to get rid of? It seemed every time I turned around, God was prying one more thing from my grip.

The spider was just one of the many little details God was orchestrating and I was having trouble allowing Him. So many details of this move were NOT the way I would have done it – but actually turned out far BETTER the way God worked it out! Imagine that! For example, the week of the closing, all the day’s details came crashing down like plates, spinning out of control. The mortgage lender and my realtor were frantically emailing and calling each other. I was on the phone constantly changing plans. I had movers, I didn’t have movers, then I had completely different movers. I didn’t have help with some painting, I did have help, then I didn’t have help. Closing day was rearranged. So much changed EVERY DAY. Yet, one of my greatest surprises came at the closing when I questioned one of the forms I was signing. The employee stated that the date of the first mortgage payment was correct, because of the change of closing, I now had an EXTRA MONTH without a house payment!

That, my friends, is just like God!

I whined and cried and spit nails about the closing being delayed. All the while, God was whispering, “Trust Me, Daughter. Trust Me.” Verses came to mind, but I tried to put them out! They would return:

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4 ESV

In those times when it SEEMS God is not paying attention to me, and I want to bang my cymbals to get Him to look at me, I have to be reminded of TRUTH. He IS an everlasting rock. He IS an eternal stronghold. He IS a comfort.

Yes, the bug company came to spray the spider and her “family members” from my garage, and all the other “residents” from the home, the day before we moved into our new house. But it was the “widow humor” at the closing table that put the “bow” on the whole situation — after many, many months of holding my hand through this weary process, my realtor made a “widow” joke!  We realized that one “widow” (a creature) was kicked out of  the house so another “widow” (me) could move in! “Widow humor”–I love to find the humor especially in those stressful circumstances of life.

So God kept whispering, “Trust Me,” and He made me laugh. Those are the moments I love most about God. It seems He knows my laughter “love language” and speaks it when I most desperately need it.

When I am having my trust tested, I need to hear stories of God’s faithfulness to encourage me. I hope this has encouraged you today. God IS faithful. Cling to the TRUTH today.

Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness. Give me vision to see Your hand at work in my life today, even in the little things and the funny things. Please give us the strength to cling to the truth of Scripture and forgive our lack of trust when we can’t see beyond our current circumstances. Amen


 

12615501_10207224865214213_1344952754011757354_o

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that 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. 

Want to read another article about facing trials? Erika wrote one called Superstorm

Moving is a popular topic for widows. You can read about our sweet Karen’s move here called Change of Plans.

 

 

 

 

 

ReBuilding

Please join us today as we share an article written by Sarah Rodriguez, a former team member, who resides in Oklahoma with her two young children.  Sarah has been called by God to share her story in other ways, but her words here still resonate and are a blessing.  We hope God speaks to you mightily through this dear widow sister and her post on Rebuilding.


 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

May 20th, 2013 a massive tornado tore through the town of Moore, Oklahoma only a few miles from my home. The destruction was massive in scale, with many homes leveled and many lives lost.

Our state was quick to respond and rally around each and every family affected by this awful tragedy.

In the aftermath, my husband and I went down in the middle of the rubble and handed out water to those digging through piles of twisted shards of what used to be their home.

That day was overwhelming. We both left with broken hearts and tears in our eyes for what we had just seen. Home after home after home completely demolished.  We wondered what on earth they would even salvage from such devastation.

How would these people start over when they’d lost everything? Will they be able to rebuild? Would they even want to rebuild?

Two months later I was standing in the midst of my own life-shaking event in the loss of my husband’s life. I felt, in many ways, like these people must have felt.

We both had an event that swept in suddenly and shook everything we thought we knew.

We had both lost the things we held so dear.

We had both seen our lives turned to rubble.

We both were standing in the midst of the ruins saying, “What now?”

A year later I was able to go back into some of the same neighborhoods my husband and I had driven through that day in May.

I almost couldn’t even recognize where I was.

The landscape had changed dramatically.

Row after row of homes, rebuilt.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Many were bigger than before.

Many were better than before.

These people hadn’t just returned to their lives– they were determined to return even stronger.

But the longer I drove, I saw a different scene.

It was an empty lot.

Where a home once stood.

The tornado had wiped it away.

The owners did not return.

Instead a “for sale” sign stood in its place.

Not that I could blame them.

Who would want to return to the scene of such devastation? Who would want to go right back to the place where they lost it all?

In the last year of my life, I’ve been faced daily with many of the same questions they probably had.

Where do I go from here? How do I salvage the pieces of my life? How do I replace what was stolen? How do I even begin to wade through this rubble?

Sure, no one would blame me for running, for leaving the empty lot behind.

No one would blame me for not wanting to go back to the scene of all I’ve lost.

But there’s a strength He’s given me.

And there’s a strength He’s given you.

Nothing is too great, no sorrow too deep, no devastation too daunting for Him to repair.

The Lord has whispered to my heart, “I’ve strengthened your foundation, now let’s rebuild.”

No, it won’t be the same “house” it once was. No, it won’t look like it once looked or even feel like it once did.

But my life doesn’t have to remain rubble.

It can be restored.

It can be made new.

Day by day.

Piece by piece.

Brick by brick.

Dear Jesus, I ask today for the strength we need to rebuild when our lives seem to have fallen apart.  I thank You that You are the God Who restores to us what was stolen. I thank You for the days that are behind, but even more for the days that are ahead. You are so very faithful. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


If you want to read other articles by Sarah, you can click here.

If you want to read more articles on rebuilding your new life, you can read In God’s Time by Nancy  or Lost by Rene

We believe—WE WILL WIN

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Do you have a battle cry?

Athletes understand a battle cry of confidence.

They also understand the struggles ahead, and if they are powerful competitors, they know what winning really means—it’s the joy of the battle, not merely a trophy.

Check out this battle cry from the 2014 World Cup:

ibelieve2014

Crowds of Americans chanted “I believe that we will win” over and over, even though all odds were against the US winning a World Cup.

All odds against winning, but we Americans shouted it anyway.

Were we ignoring the odds, or did we understand what winning really meant?  Once I got into the routine of life without my husband, I asked myself the same question…Do I understand what winning in my journey as a widow means?

They tell us widows, young and old, “you’ve got to move forward”.

That’s hard when you have layers of grief, pain, denial, anger and self-pity to overcome.

So it’s tears and stumbles. It’s waking up alone and pushing your way out of bed, only to be faced with reality again – he’s gone.

What does God say to that? Are we moving towards victory or survival?

We believe that we will win. Maybe it should be “we believe that we HAVE WON.”

Because we aren’t living to win.  We are living based on winning.  He’s already won.  You’re just living out His victory!

Not to say you won’t have trouble.  But when you do have it, God’s there to kick trouble in the shins! 2 Thessalonians 1:6 (NIV) says, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”

In those moments when your struggles bring despair, take heart.  Everything will get better.

Those moments humble you and tear you open like a seed which must be broken open to germinate. Out of brokenness you grow into a new woman in a new season.

While you sit in your brokenness, don’t let anything replace real Truth. New romance, shopping with inheritance money, drugs, wine.  None of that will heal.  God’s Truth is the only thing that lasts in the end.

That Truth is we are not just broken because we experienced loss.  All in this world are broken and filled with the weight of our sins.  And it’s only through recognizing just how awful that sin is that we win. We take the weight of sin off and hand it over to Christ, who paid for it once and for all by shedding His blood on the cross so you can now walk free.  Is this new to you?

Don’t let Truth pass you by, sister, because it’s in that Truth that you will finally believe, from the heart that YOU WILL WIN!  Read more about His Truth and how you can be saved here, and if you need one of our writers to pray with you to accept Christ in your life, please contact us here.

Trust God on this–there will be an end to the sorrow.  Things will become new for you—that’s a promise straight from God’s Word:  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

That new is here, and you can experience it in this life through the impact you make, and through God’s blessings of a new abundant life. Ultimately, God will make all things new in Heaven. You will be redeemed from this widowhood!

You will no longer awake in your bed alone.

You will no longer walk through life without your best friend.

You will no longer carry the burdens of your household alone.

You will have companionship, love and fellowship.

What He doesn’t heal in this life, He will completely redeem in the next!

We believe—WE WILL WIN!

Dear God, we’ve won. Already.  Help us remember that You’ve already brought victory to us by dying on the cross. You’ve defeated sin. All of our tears will be wiped away–here, or when we stand before You.  Please give all of my sisters here strength and knowledge of your Truth.  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 home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. 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:

Be the Ant…but What Kind of Ant?

Full Victory

Perhaps

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

Accepting No

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty,

for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. 

Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as the head above all. 

1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV)

May I share a secret with you?

Sometimes I get tired of hearing the “feel good” narratives…even from the Christian community.

So often the stories told are ones of victory.  Stories where people prayed for years and God granted them their request.  I have those in my own life too; years of prayer where God eventually said, “Yes”.  Our children are a result of such prayers through years of failed adoptions and infertility.  I am grateful.  But guess what?

I also have stories of years of prayer where God said, “No”.  

Why don’t we hear more of those? 

Why are those stories not shared as beautiful tapestries of immense faith as well?

I’d love for someone to share how their life fell apart and they fought to still keep their eyes on Jesus, right in the midst of the chaos and yuck. How they don’t know the “why” and they don’t see the reason for their loss or pain.  That it doesn’t feel at all like God “chose” this outcome for the good of anyone, yet they still trust He will make good from it for eternal purposes.

I want to raise my hand and shake my head in affirmative solidarity that THIS STINKS and know that it is okay to hate the situation yet still adore God. That it is normal to have to work hard at finding the joy in all circumstances we are commanded to have; a discipline of joy rather than a natural response.

I guess I selfishly want to know someone else thinks they got totally cheated, that this isn’t fair. I want to not be handed a blanket of “it’s for the best” when I have two children in this home being raised without their daddy who was madly in love with them.

I guess my whole point to this thought pattern is…it is okay. We don’t have to have it all figured out in our accepting no from God.

Life doesn’t have to tie up in a pretty bow for it to have meaning and depth.

Our faith isn’t less than someone’s who received an answer of “yes”.  As a matter of fact, having lived through both “yes’s” and “no’s”, I’d have to say in my personal case, my faith is stronger from the “no” journey than it was from the “yes”.

I recently heard a question on the radio.

“Do you believe God is in control?”

I repeated it aloud to myself. Really stopping to question, do I believe God is in control of ALL when Tim still died a horrendous death from cancer?  A death that God could have prevented, but chose not to; a death that ripped the hearts of many people (but especially the three of us) to shreds in grief…do I believe God is in control of THAT?

I turned off the radio and drove in silence.

Yes.

Yes, I do believe God is in control. I believe He has the power to do anything He desires.  He is in control but He is not a controlling God.  There is a difference.  His eye is on eternity.  He is faithful.  On this earth we are guaranteed struggles and pain.  One of their purposes is to draw us closer to Him and to direct our focus to eternity.

So here I stand, sharing my “No” story and still raising my hands in honor to the God who is in control; the Faithful One who doesn’t equate my faith with an earthly happy ending, but instead equates it with the blessing of knowing Him better.

Father God, it is extremely possible that I will never understand the “No” answers this side of heaven, but I still call upon Your name as Faithful.  Thank You that You are less concerned with my desire to have all the answers and are more concerned with my eternal relationship with You.  I trust You even when I don’t like the answers.  My story is no less relevant than stories with “yes’s”. Amen. 

 

Lori Reynolds StrellerLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

 

Other articles written by this author: A Widow’s Might: Lori Reynolds Streller

For other articles on accepting the answer of “No”, see “Take It Back” by Erika

If you are interested in having one of our team members speak at your church or function, email us at: admin@anewseason.net.

 


Tie Me To the Mast!

Anchors and storms are a frequent theme with me. It started with the verse I put on my husband’s grave stone before anchors were a decorating thing! I included Hebrews 6:19 (We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. NIV) because it was one he loved and because I needed the hope at a time when I felt most hopeless.

28

Photo by Sheryl Pepple’s late husband Dave on their sailing expeditions

We see anchors everywhere now. One funny thing we saw recently was a picture for the wall that had an anchor with the words “refuse to sink”. Okay, just let those words sink in a moment (pun intended…) Refuse to sink? What exactly is the job of an anchor? I have never been sailing like our lovely Sheryl Pepple, but I do believe that the very nature of an anchor is to SINK!! That is its job. Wouldn’t it be like a balloon with the words, “refuse to float”?

So in my quest to always find interesting things about storms and anchors, I heard a phrase I had never heard before. “Tie me to the mast” is a phrase used by Homer in the Odyssey when the captain of the ship wanted to prevent himself from being tempted by the sirens and crashing the ship on the rocks.

But the phrase is also used another way. In really severe storms, the sailors would tie themselves to the mast for safety. The mast was the strongest point so this would prevent them from being tossed overboard.

I have certainly faced some strong storms in the last few years. I believe any ONE of which could have tossed me into the abyss. You have had yours too. Was it marriage trouble? an eating disorder?  bankruptcy? cancer? eviction? a car wreck? addiction? On top of widowhood?

When these storms hit us, and they will, we have to have the ropes ready to strap ourselves to the mast of Truth – the Truth of God’s Word, the foundation of salvation found in Christ, and the forgiveness found at the Cross. We cannot be tossed around by the emotions we will have. Oh, I hear my emotions calling out to me, telling me that my feelings mean more than truth and that my feelings can be trusted this time. But they cannot ever be trusted to guide us in a storm. Feelings were not made for storms! Feelings are like the evil mermaids calling to us from the shore, willing us to untie the ropes from our safety at the mast and jump to our death in the water.

Tie me to the mast, sister. Hold me accountable to the Truth of Scripture. Call me out when I use the compass of my feelings instead of God as my True North.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 KJV

Father God, guide me in life today. Show me the truth of Scripture and give me the desire to search its depths for pearls of wisdom. Protect me from my own emotions that try desperately to control me when Your Truth needs to be my guiding compass. Bring others into my life to hold me accountable to the Truth. Amen


 

12615501_10207224865214213_1344952754011757354_oElizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that 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. 

Want to read more about anchors? My Anchor by our past team member Jill

Want to read more about Truth? Guide Me in Your Truth by Sheryl