Faith over Frustration

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”                   

                                                                               Psalm 34:18 ESV                           

Can I get an Amen on how much we miss our “handyman” around our homes?!

My husband was the ultimate “handyman” around our house. He could look at any situation and in his creative mind come up with a solution to make it work better.

I was reminded of this recently when I had to tackle an issue as a result of one of my husband’s ingenious work. He designed and installed a drain pipe to catch the over flow of pool water away from our deck. It was a genius idea. The pipe carried the water away, which over time could have damaged our deck. It also carried away pesky bugs and foliage debris.

But, what I didn’t know, was the need for this drain pipe to be flushed on a regular basis. A scheduled cleansing of pure water to flush the pipe to keep it clean and running free was needed. So, after months of no cleaning, I learned real quick the consequences. Stagnant water began to sit on my deck as a result of a completely clogged pipe. And as I began to tackle this clogged pipe, I thought how perfect an illustration it was in how I was feeling.

The past few months, my life has felt just like that clogged pipe. Clogged with frustrations. An abundance of frustrations! Frustration upon frustration pouring over me clogging my heart and thoughts. You know the feeling when every day presents another challenge and you feel as though you are drowning?

I am ashamed to say it, but, I have let these frustrations grab ahold and cause a struggle with my faith. A struggle not in the sense of questioning God’s faithfulness, but, more in the sense of questioning, “why the abundance of problems?”  And if I can continue to be honest, I have been living in complete defeat lately.

Frustrations were winning and controlling my life. How did I get to this level? I am the first one to stand up and give testimony of how faithful God has been to me since my husband’s death. How could I allow these pesky annoyances to become so debilitating!

As I move towards freeing myself from this debilitating feeling, let me share a few of my steps toward that goal.

  • Own the Struggles   

I have made a hand written list and I am laying them at the Cross. While God already knows what my struggles are, giving them to Him acknowledges His sovereignty.

  • It’s Okay To Say No

I am clearing my life of commitments for awhile (the ones I can). By clearing some time, I am able to spend more time in fellowship with God in study and prayer. Both necessary to conquer any struggles we may have.

  • Relish Solitude

 I am taking some time for me right now. I am scheduling in time for exercise and focusing on healthy eating. I am taking time to slow down and enjoy the little things like evening strolls and reading. It’s okay to not conquer life at mach speed all the time.

I don’t like the feelings I’ve had recently. As a child of God, I want to be strong and a constant testimony to His faithfulness. I do not want to be a weak Christian. And yet it is during these times He reminds me,

 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

His grace will not permit us to fall. His strength and power is manifested even greater by sustaining our weaknesses. And ultimately His power is like a tent over us, giving us shelter, protection, and rest. He is with us. Always. The promise of Grace will never fail us.

Precious Father, thank you for reminding me that it is Your Grace that carries me through the floods of frustrations. Thank you, Lord, for giving us protection and rest through Your Grace. May all my widowed sisters and I glorify Your strength through our weaknesses. Amen


 

My life took a radical turn in the spring of 2009 when the “C word” was introduced into our family.  Cancer.  My healthy husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and life as we knew it would never be the same.  I was able to live the words “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” as I walked along side this fight for his life.  After a timg_2753wenty month battle, God called my love home in the wee hours of an October morning in 2010.  I was devastated and could not imagine how I would be able to move forward without the love of my life by my side.

The answer was simple.  Jesus.  His love.  His mercy.  His grace.  He carried me when I was at my lowest.  And I carried Him in my heart even when I 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                                                           

I love reading, baking and long walks along the Florida coastline.  A good portion of my time is spent flying around the country as a flight attendant for over thirty years.  My husband and I were blessed to have shared twenty six years of marriage.  As I watch our daughters grow up, I enjoy seeing his traits and teaching evolve in their character.  He is greatly missed by his three girls.  But, he would be so proud to know we continue to fight the good fight and living out loud for our Savior.

See more from Bonnie at http://anewseason.net/author/bvickers

Read more about overcoming frustrations by Sherry and Kit.

 

God Writes My Story

“So how did your husband die?”

This question can be a real conversation stopper for some widows.

I have been learning this lesson for the past five years. The final moments of one chapter of my story and the beginning of the next have changed my perspective dramatically. Only God really knows our whole story, and sometimes it is complicated.

“I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Isaiah 46:9b-10a (ESV)

My husband’s death certificate states cause of death as suicide, although the circumstances surrounding his death were so different than what people expected to hear. I answered honestly when people asked what happened, so it hurt when false assumptions were shared about how and why he died. It did not change the truth, but it hurt because some did not seek the truth before they spoke to others.

They did not know that:

  • due to insomnia he was on a prescription sleep medication that began to alter his personality for thirteen days before he died. Our family witnessed his strange behavior but we all, including him, linked it to his lack of sleep.
  • he called me for help that April morning, panicked and confused in his hotel room when he realized he had wounded himself in his drug-induced haze.
  • we had eleven precious minutes on the phone to say “I love you”: I promised to get help to him as quickly as I could and he, struggling to breathe,  whispered repeatedly how much he loved me
  • as I begged him to hold on, I could hear the paramedics yelling as they broke in the hotel room door. They closed his phone as he said the last “I love you” I would ever hear from him, then they worked unsuccessfully to save his life. At that moment, God wrote the final word in my husband’s story.

As I received the news of his death rather than expected news about his hospital transport, God began the new “Widow” chapter of my life by giving me “the peace that surpasses all understanding”. Although there were times when I had to push back against fear of the unknown, there was never a time when I doubted that God was still writing my own story. He taught me to rejoice in suffering, and He taught me to trust Him with the future.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

There are still things people do not know about my husband’s story. None of these things change who he was, the life he lived, or how he impacted my life for good. He was a sinner saved by grace just as I am, and I will see him again one day.

This experience changed me and showed me my own limited view of life –now I try not to assume anything about a person’s story; each one is unique. Only God knows how any life plays out from beginning to end. He always knows what is for our good and for His glory, even if we cannot see it at the time. In our family we have heard some of the good that has come from my husband’s death. Many people have said their faith was strengthened and at least one person chose not to end her own life because of our testimony; my husband’s death was not in vain. 

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look to Jesus because He is the author and finisher of our faith. I know He can be trusted to write the end of my story as well.

Father, please help us to give grace to others who don’t seem to understand the daily struggles we experience, and help us not to make assumptions because we do not know what others are going through. Please give us daily peace and faith to trust that You alone are the Author and Finisher of our faith and to trust You to write our whole story. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


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

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

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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

This Isn’t What I Planned

WE HAD PLANS.

My husband Michael and I were going to have at least two children and possibly adopt a third. We were going to continue traveling the world, start a nonprofit, raise our children together, become grandparents, grow old and grey together. We were just 31 and had our entire lives ahead of us.

But what happens when our plans don’t align with the Lord’s plans or what He allows for our lives?

I have always known that being a Christian does not make me immune to the troubles of this world, but I never imagined that suicide would impact my life. I never imagined becoming a widow and sole parent at 31. It just wasn’t part of my plan.

But it happened.

And when it did, I begged and pleaded with God for another way for His will to be done until I surrendered to His will and not mine.

It can be difficult to understand when our hopes and dreams for this life don’t go along with what actually happens, bringing doubt and questions. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old son is questioning how his father is not part of the plan here on earth.

A few days ago we went by the home we shared to pick up mail – I sold the house last year before I remarried in September (that wasn’t a part of the plan either, but I am so thankful God led my husband Keith and me to each other. He is a miracle in my life!)

As we drove away my eyes began to fill with tears, and anxiety attempted to creep its way back in. My son noticed and asked, “Mommy, do you miss our house? Do you miss daddy? Why did daddy have to go to heaven before we moved? It was too soon.”

Those words, from my son, missing his daddy, are heartbreaking and a pain we will live with for a lifetime. But I’m going to share with you exactly what I shared with him.

“I do miss him very much. When we love someone and they are not here, it makes us sad. And, I don’t know the answer, buddy. When our lives don’t go as we plan and don’t look the way we always envisioned, all we can do is trust in the Lord and trust in His bigger purpose that we may not see. We have to be open to letting Him work in our lives,” I said. “I don’t understand why God allowed daddy to go to heaven so soon. I see how daddy’s life and our experience are impacting others for good, but I don’t really know the reason. We aren’t always called to understand but to trust in the Lord,” I tried to explain.

God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This was the verse written on a notecard that I found in my husband Michael’s truck. Little did I know, that notecard and this verse would help sustain me through my deepest side of grief.

I shared my heart and this verse with my son. Though I know he is so very young, I pray these words and thoughts build a foundation for his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as He grows and experiences his own grief journey.

Leaning on the Lord and not on my own understanding is how I am walking forward in this life and not just surviving but also finding joy again.

There is peace that cannot be explained when you know there is a God who sent His SON for each of us – that the Father is in control – and every single decision we make, though there is free will, doesn’t change the final outcome that He has planned.

Lord, I pray that even when we cannot understand the horrific things of this life, that you will bring us peace. Help us to walk forward with trust and without doubt, knowing you have a plan, you are with us, and you are in control. 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.

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.

 


A Story to Tell

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

                                                                                                                             Hebrews 12:1 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

God is Good-7

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

                                                                                                                                    1 John 3:16 NIV

Parades. Picnics. BBQ’s. The beginning of summer. Holiday. Family gatherings. Remembering our loved ones.

Are you celebrating?

Tomorrow we will observe Memorial Day, an American holiday which honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

How did the death of those who sacrificed their lives for us become a reason to celebrate?

Because, as painful as death is, love is bigger. Love conquers everything, even death.

God is love.

And God is good.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for someone else. My heart is full of gratitude for the men and women who have died serving our country. They, and their families, have sacrificed greatly, putting their love into action for our country and for us. As widows who know death on a very personal level, we truly understand the cost. The terrible, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, cost of losing someone.  The cost that never seems to end.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to talk about death and dying in the same breath when we are talking about God’s goodness and His love. The two seem totally incompatible, but they aren’t. In fact, God’s goodness and His love are most evident in death. The fact that He would humble Himself to become a man, to sacrifice His life on the Cross for our sins, so that we could be made Holy and live in fellowship with Him for all eternity, is the ultimate act of love. He paid the price, He saved us, He sealed us with the Holy Spirit so we could be transformed into His likeness.  Because of His love, we can lay down our lives for our brothers, just as the soldiers we are remembering this holiday have done.

He is a good, good, Father.

Will you please pray with me?

Dear Holy Father, we praise You for Your Goodness and for Your Love!  There is no greater love than to lay down Your life for us!  Father, today we lift up our brothers and sisters who have followed Your example, put their love into action and laid down their lives for our freedom. Please comfort their family and friends as we honor their sacrifice. Help all of us love sacrificially, for Your Glory! In Your Son’s Precious Name, Amen. 

~Sheryl


Other posts in our God is Good even if, even when, even still series: God is Good, God is Good-2, God is Good-3, God is Good-4, God is Good-5, & God is Good-6

 

Jehovah Shalom

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,

and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless

at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV

Jehovah Shalom

Bible dictionaries have some variations of this; one says it means Jehovah send peace.

Haven’t we all cried out for this? Lord, send peace! Peace I cannot find on my own, peace I cannot manufacture, your peace, Jehovah. This kind of peace:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 ESV

Another translation says Jehovah is peace.

Indeed He is.

He is the ultimate peace, peace that wraps us up like a homemade blanket gently stitched by a grandmother’s loving hands.

He is the peace, which our life’s rest depends upon. He is the one who brings sleep to restore us, comfort to soothe us, and healing to rebuild us.

In Judges 6-8, the Bible tells us stories of a man named Gideon. He was called by God to do something which seemed impossible to him. Sound familiar? It seemed so impossible that Gideon “tested” God by praying, questioning and laying out a fleece, not once but twice, to ask God for specific confirmations. Again, maybe this sounds familiar?

In Judges 6, an angel visits Gideon and God speaks to him and moves him is such a mighty way, that Gideon built an altar to Him, in Ophrah and called it, The Lord Is Peace (Judges 6:24). Gideon was challenged, he questioned, he wanted to hear God correctly, he sought truth. But don’t miss the fact, which still stands today, that Gideon praised God in the middle of it all. He built an altar and worshiped His creator. Then, he was obedient and God did much with his life.

Gideon, who thought he had nothing to offer and certainly did not want to be chosen, was used by Jehovah Shalom in mighty ways. I hope you will go read his story and be encouraged. We were made to worship and serve Him mightily, right in the midst of walking our seemingly impossible journey.


 Other posts in our “Names of God” series include: Immanuel- God with Us, Eternal God- El Olam, Jehovah, I Am, Jehovah Jireh, El- The Strong One, Adonai, El Shaddai, & El Roi

Hello, my name is…

Hello, my name is your name and I am a ___________. How would you fill in the second blank?

Widow, single, mother, grandmother, housewife, stay at home mom, employee, etc.?

Oh how I hate labels. They can be so limiting! It doesn’t matter if they are something that we perceive as good like being a wife, mother, grandmother, or if it is something that we see as a negative like being a diabetic, a senior citizen, or a widow. All of them can limit our thinking. The label or role becomes a self-defining box and everything we say or do and even feel, gets stuck in that box.

And then we draw another box, a slightly larger box and we put God in it. We have to – because if we are limited – then by default He is limited. In essence, we have decided there is only so much He can do with us. We just put the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the Lord Almighty in a box. Sounds crazy when we look at it that way doesn’t it?

When we first lose our husbands, it feels like our whole world has disappeared. The pain is unbearable and we can barely breathe. When the shock begins to wear off, we look around and we feel utterly exposed. We no longer know who we are or what our future holds. Becoming a widow is the most disorienting experience we will probably ever encounter.

But eventually it can also bring clarity. The purpose of our life wasn’t just to be a wife, even as wonderful as that might be. Being a wife is a role we fulfill, but it isn’t our purpose. Our purpose is to glorify God and that happens in many different roles throughout our life: single, married, widowed, with children, without children, etc. As we begin to remember (or perhaps understand for the first time) our purpose is bigger than in any one role we fulfill, we begin to dismantle the box we’ve been living in and along with it, the box we put God in.

As our thinking shifts from the temporary roles we assume on this Earth to our eternal purpose we find ourselves planted on solid ground which can never be shaken or turned upside down. It redefines who we are in the most powerful way possible. With my eyes on my eternal purpose it is easier to see the many roles I fulfill as spelled out in scripture.

Hello, my name is your name and I am…

An heir of God                Galatians 4:7

A child of God                 John 1:12

A friend of God               John 15:15

God’s masterpiece         Ephesians 2:10

God’s dwelling place     Ephesians 2:22

Will you join me today in mediating on our eternal roles so we can be utilized to our full capacity for God’s glory?

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for making us in Your image,  for Your purposes. Help us to see ourselves and each other through Your eyes. As we meditate on Your word today, please allow Your truth to pierce our hearts, eradicate the self defined boxes we have put on ourselves and You, and let us walk forward in freedom to live to our full capacity for Your Glory! We love You so! In Your Sons name. Amen.


 

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

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

Want to read another great article by Sheryl?   The Curtain is Torn

Want to read another article about your identity? Widow Card by Kit Hinkle

 

I Choose You, Lord

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15 

THE UGLY TRUTH: I HATE BEING ALONE.

Sometimes, it’s hard to be grateful and trust God for healing, while sitting alone.

Thankful is so much more than a word. It’s even more than an attitude, it is a choice. I’m trying to live out loud, with a grateful heart and be more thankful this year. In order to do that, there are some days when I have to choose a grateful heart, choose thankfulness.

Thankful is defined as pleased and relieved.

If we are honest, during widowhood, sometimes it is hard to be pleased or relieved.

It is hard to be pleased and/or relieved; when half of you is missing, when your heart is BROKEN, when your dreams are shattered, when daily life is a burden, when breathing and getting dressed are more effort than they have ever been before.

During those times, pleased and relieved are hard postures to come by and may require more energy or strength than we have.

Pleased is defined as feeling or showing satisfaction with an event or situation.

I’m sure I have never heard a widow say this, of losing her husband. Even the worst spouses in the most dysfunctional marriages are missed. In better or worse, we all miss companionship, identity as a wife, and a million other things.

Relieved is defined as no longer feeling distressed or anxious.

WELL NOW, THAT’S A LIE for all of us on this path. Distressed is how we live for months, at least, and anxiousness goes with the uncertainty of the territory for almost all of us, at some point.

We want to be thankful or become thankful, but it takes a heart willing to say, “Lord, even when I don’t get it, You are good. Even when I don’t like it, You are good. Even when I feel unloved, forgotten or lost, You are good. Even when all else is gone and I am left with nothing, You are still good Lord, and I choose You.”

It takes knowing that we choose to pick God, even when it doesn’t make sense to the world, and others laugh at us. We choose to say, “God You are good and Your mercies endure FOREVER.”  Lord, we choose YOU. Though we may stand alone, “WE PICK YOU, GOD!”

Thankful, is a way of life that keeps Christ at the center. It comes from a grateful heart full of His joy, no matter our circumstances. It takes a heart void of any allusion or lies that God wants less than the best for us. He is for us, not against us. God is good, even when….even if…

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15a 

Father, Rain down new mercies each day and help us to focus on You. We choose You, Lord, the God who sees, the God who loves, the God who carries, the God who knows, the God who supplies our needs, the God who lives. In Jesus name, Amen. 


 

Tcas1Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012; after she lost her best friend Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry; with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

For booking information, please contact her at admin@anewseason.net or call 501-438-9028

To read more articles by Teri, click here.

Other articles on this topic: Giving Thanks While Grieving  & I Choose…Do You?