Connection and Conversation

Today we are blessed to welcome our NEWEST team member to our ministry. We are excited to introduce Janene Gaynor to each of you. She has been a special friend to our ministry for several years and has a wonderful prayerful heart to minister.


 

  Gracious words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)

When my granddaughter comes for a sleepover at my home, there are some pretty routine things we do. We play cards, we make brownies, and we go over prayer requests at bedtime. The prayer request conversation may be short or span an hour, but one request remains the same. “Please ask God to tell Grandpa we love him.”

Most recently, she clarified, “We always love him and carry him in our hearts but we want him to know that.”  I love her sweet heart so much, and I love that over four years has passed and she still thinks of her Grandpa, inviting remembrances of him in our prayers.

As our conversation continued, I commented that Grandpa was getting to meet his believing great, great, great, great, great grandparents and my granddaughter said, “He’s probably met Adam and Eve by now!”  I had to laugh at that!  I can honestly say that thought had never crossed my mind! So then we imagined what he would say when he met Adam and Eve. “What were you thinking?!,” or, “Why’d you have to mess everything up for the rest of us?!,” or, “Couldn’t you just be content with all those other fruit trees?” This was a really fun conversation but it painted Grandpa’s new universe for us a little more—just imagining his new home of heaven and those he might be meeting there.

He is in a completely new world. I am in a new world too… one without him. It may seem like a contradiction to say this, but I both hate that my beloved is gone and accept that he is gone.  My life of forty years of marriage was so horribly altered, I first questioned if I was going to be okay. Now I know I will be okay and I accept my life.  I still hate that we are separated by death, and I believe God is okay with that.  Death came as a result of sin so it was never God’s plan. So while I will continue to hate death, I will embrace life. I will appreciate how God provides for me in my new world—in all ways. God is as fully present with me as He is with my beloved. He is the One who spans it all.

For me, grief’s pain has gradually been pulled back by the tide of time, and what remains on the shoreline are some glistening treasures—the heart connections and precious conversations that are like pearls being added to a strand by God’s own hand. He is adorning my new world. It has taken time to see this process and arrive at this good shore.

Whatever your stage along grief’s journey, please join me now in a prayer for the glistening treasures yet to be revealed.

Heavenly Father, You love us and embrace us here today in all we are and all we aren’t.  You understand us, even when we are trying to figure out which way is up.  Give us glimpses of the treasures yet to be found on the shoreline. Grant us those heart connections and precious conversations which will fuel our hearts, and the divine eyes of faith in the blindness of grief.  Please guide us by Your sight. We thank You, dear Lord. In Jesus Name.  Amen


Janene @ Myrtle Beach

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

 

To learn more about our ministry team: www.awidowsmight.org

To read other articles with a similar theme:

Unexplainable Joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

1 Peter 1:8

How do I explain unexplainable joy?

It eases my pain.

It gives me strength to walk away every time something tries to take the place of God in my life.

Like when He gave me strength to say no to an insincere suitor. I felt a thousand angels trumpeting their horns as I chose genuine goodness over this man’s looks and prestige.

And when I closed the web browser before spending over my budget on designer clothes. At that moment I felt Him place on me a joyful royal robe. It was a peace more satisfying than any temporary buzz of the world’s acceptance.

Do know you can’t grab that joy yourself? When He decides to give it to you, He readies you for it.

It starts when you turn away from what the world has to offer and turn to Him for what He has to offer. Giving up the guy or the dress humbled my heart, making it ready to receive what the Scripture had to offer–a reminder that everything will be made right.

All of it. He’ll mend every broken heart, deal with every wrong and expose every lie.

Even my own.

Because I’m included in it all. When a friend lets me down, I forgive because He forgave me when I let Him down.

He will fix it all, heal it all, make it all whole. Knowing that brings me joy, and I need do nothing but rest in this unexplainable joy.

That joy didn’t just land in my heart. The Lord had to show it to me, and I had to accept it.

Years ago, even before I lost my husband, there was a time when I suffered a huge set back in life. My first husband was abandoning our marriage just as I was feeling pressure at work due to a corporate merger I had no control over. I felt shocked that my life had been flipped on its head.  Desperation set in as soon as the shock wore off. All I could ask was why me?

Others tried to share their stories of trusting God and feeling joy, but I wouldn’t listen. I thought, who wants to be one of those downtrodden people who had to ask for God’s comfort? I didn’t want comfort!  I wanted my old life back—the security and prestige.

I bumped and jostled through my self pity until it started to occur to me that sitting in self-pity for too long was everything but obedient to God, and wanting everything my way, the way it was before, was not accepting God’s will, and that was sin. Eventually my pride fell way, and I surrendered my self-pity, replacing it with hope. There had to be something better waiting out there than my old life.  With a new anticipation in my heart, I finally said it: “Give me what You have, Jesus—I WANT IT!”

Are you worn down by your loss?  Have you mourned for so long you don’t remember what it felt like to feel joy in your heart?  Can you reach back to that time as a child when you felt joy in your heart?

Do you want that now?

Then throw open your heart to Him.  Humble yourself.  Take what you’ve been using to replace God in your life and give it to Him. Let Him give you unexplainable joy.

Sometimes you feel like everything has been taken away from you. Maybe for you the word “everything” is reality. Maybe when you lost your husband, you also lost financial security, social networks and the leadership you needed for decision-making.

If you’ve lost what feels like everything, make HIM your everything!

In reality, He IS everything.  You can’t escape Him. You can only shrug Him off, and that hurts no one but you.

He wipes your tears. He can even find a way for your bills to be paid. He can bring you that fellowship when you need it.

And you need it. So ask for it.

That unexplainable joy.

Jesus,

If there is a sister out there stuck in her grief and has cried so many tears she doesn’t know how to get herself up, would You give her a peak at Your greatness to a point where she wants more of what she saw and begin demanding that unexplainable joy?  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:

Where’s your “brave”?

Why we Have Hope

Our Hope

Stress, Smiles, and Focus

She laughs without fear of the future.  Proverbs 31:25b (NLT)

Although each journey is unique and traveled at a different pace, we can all agree on at least one thing: Life as a widow is stressful.

I have lived this for over two years. Day in and day out, the reality of doing this life alone is my world.  Solo parenting, it rocks my socks off.  Most nights I collapse into bed praying God redeems my many parenting fails of the day and thankful for His fresh mercies coming with the next daybreak.  But if I am honest, I also smile at the memories of the day; the growth, the laughter, even the mistakes, they are all a blessing.

Being the only bread winner and knowing college tuition for two is speeding head on at me in the near future makes my heart skip a beat or two. I’ve chosen to make sacrifices to follow through on something Tim and I believed in for our children.  It’s hard work, but I smile knowing I will be able to help them achieve their dreams.

Taking care of a home, well let’s just say I was the one in our marriage that made everything look pretty and kept it clean. Tim was the handy man.  I have learned how to change air filters, how to hang things without creating fifty-kajillion holes in the wrong place (down to forty-kajillion, but it is improvement), check gutters to make sure rain water can flow freely, air up flat tires with the compressor, set mouse traps in the garage (not going to even lie, my kids had to dispose of the body once we caught it…ick).  The list goes on and on. Thinking back over the things I have accomplished that in my previous life would have been considered “man jobs” makes me smile and chuckle a bit.

God is faithful! He is molding me into what I need to be to thrive in this season of my life.  He takes my stress triggers and injects them with humor.  Humor is the way to my heart.  I love a good laugh.

My word for 2016 is “FOCUS”. I have been intentional in remaining focused on God’s goodness.  Focusing on the work He is daily doing in our lives; acutely aware of His blessings in the hard.  Seeking out His whispers of encouragement, I am leaning deeply into the presence of my Savior.

It is transforming me.

The stressful situations aren’t disappearing, and honestly, they aren’t going to.

But what I am doing with the stress, focusing on the One who is capable of filling in the gaps of my failures, is where my growth is exploding.  I don’t have this whole, “hand it all to Jesus and experience full and total release” down yet.  I probably never will, because I am a work in progress.  I just choose to keep doing my best.  I don’t forget the healing power of laughing at myself.

I focus on God’s faithfulness and let Him do His work.

He is enough.

Lord, I thank You for humor. Some days laughter is my only escape from the stress of this life.  Remind us at the end of this day that You sprinkled blessings all along our way and help us to see them with grateful hearts.  Amen.


 

Lori meet usLori 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.

I Delight Myself in You

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord”

I was “that” girl.

The wife and mother, who kept an immaculate home, had a homemade dinner on the table every night, volunteered at the kids’ school and taught Bible study at church.  It was truly a beautiful life.

Then my husband became terminally ill.

Two years later, he died.

My house may never have everything clean all on the same day again!  My kids eat cereal for dinner at least once a week.  I am juggling full time employment (thankfully with a flexible schedule), ministry work, solo parenting and grief management.

It’s not such a pretty thing from the outside anymore.  There is dust and there are sticky places on countertops.  There is clutter and there are unmade beds {gasp}.  Sometimes I’m not even sure if the pile of clothes on the laundry room counter just came out of the dryer or is supposed to go in the washer!

Believe it or not, this type “A” girl is laughing as I write.  (I’m also envisioning the granola crumbs in the door handle of my car and the mud from the barn in the floor mat of the passenger seat.  I should probably be vacuuming that instead of typing this!)

Oh what a crazy ride this life is.  Sometimes I am traveling so fast I don’t know whether to throw my hands up and scream in delight or grab the roller coaster handlebar tightly and yell for it all to stop.  Guess what?  Neither will slow the motion.

So I am going to choose delight!

I like clean and orderly, my house will never get “gross” to the point a full crew will be needed to scrub away the filth, but it tends to stay a bit cluttered these days.  I am letting go of my standards of perfection and am learning to accept that my best effort is good enough.

Trying to do it all and constantly failing just makes me grumpy.  My kids deserve better than a grumpy mom.  I deserve better than a grumpy self!  Grumpy doesn’t solve anything.

So I laugh and choose delight.  I give each day the best of me and I let the rest land on tomorrow’s to do list.  I spend time with God, soaking up His wisdom.

What is the more important lesson here for my children?  That we keep everything pristine or that we love this life we have been given?  Don’t get me wrong, we respect and appreciate our property, taking good care of it.  We simply no longer fret over perfection.

I delight in the Lord.  Taking delight in Him is finding my worth in Him.  My worth doesn’t come from an immaculate home that is always “show ready”.  Would I like to be able to one day keep a spotless home again?  Truthfully, yes.  Am I going to beat myself up because it isn’t possible at this phase in my life?  No.  I’m not.

What I am going to do is continue to lean heavily into my Savior for His strength and power, and I am going to throw my hands in the air and scream delight in my Lord.

Father God, I delight myself in You!  You see past my mess and see into my heart.  I know I have young eyes watching me on this journey, seeing if I will respond grumpy or with laughter to the chaos.  When I allow myself to not expect perfection from me, it frees my children to do their best and then let the rest go.  That’s the true life lesson I want them to learn.  Our best is good enough because of Your grace and mercy.  Amen.     

 

Lori Reynolds Streller

Lori 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. 

If you are interested in having Lori speak at your church or function, email her at admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles written by this author: http://anewseason.net/author/loris/

More articles on this topic:

A Mess by Erika Graham

Who He Says I Am by Lori Reynolds Streller

 

 

 

 

Did That Just Happen?

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 ESV

I often tease people by saying; “Do you ever feel like you are living in a Saturday Night Live skit?” My sister thought I was exaggerating for years, when I told her, “My life was a Saturday Night Live skit”, until she came to stay with me for a week. I’m telling you, I have the most random, bizarre things happen to me.

Maybe it is because I LOVE to laugh and make people laugh. Maybe, it’s God’s way of making me smile. God certainly showed up with an unexpected surprise for me a few weeks ago. Little did I know when I wrote, 9 Weeks; 3 Years, Forever as my last post, that God was preparing me to walk into a new relationship, with an old acquaintance, that would rock me onto my heels.

After all, I am not a woman who rocks easily. I am a survivor, as are you. Now I know that some of you are not to the point where this is even a consideration, and in fact, it may make your stomach turn. I GET IT. I was you, for almost three years.

God’s timing is always His little “ha-ha” joke on me. Just three months ago, I was not at a point where I could seriously consider seeing someone. I often joked that I was looking for a millionaire eunuch; someone to pay my bills and enjoy intellectual banter with, but nothing more.

And then there was an unexpected Saturday night where a man I had known only by his nickname, for a year and a half, and I ended up in the same place at the same time. Five hours later, a dinner invitation for the next night came my way and I accepted.

It seems this man of extreme patience and integrity has been waiting on “a woman like me” and in fact, watching me from a distance, for quite some time. I know, it sounds a little stalker, but it’s not that way at all. His wisdom and maturity impress me, which is no easy task. He actually said, “I’ve been watching you and waiting, because you were not ready.” That’s maturity, Sisters.

Hear my heart, THIS IS NOT EASY. It’s not easy for me and it’s not easy for several of my friends who LOVED my husband. I’ve had to reconcile the fact that Daryl would want me to be loved and cherished. I’ve had to remind myself that I am not forgetting him or dishonoring him by moving forward. I am in fact moving forward while honoring him and the woman I am now, because of him.

At the end of the day, Daryl would want me to live and impact lives around me, for the good. I’m not comfortable with dating for dating sake or for just having fun. For me, dating is about courtship with an intended end of relationship. Don’t get me wrong. I have male friends, but they are simply friends, and I would never cross a line with them that allows them to think for an instant that I want to date them or I’m interested in them in any other way. Dating is serious for me. It means I make myself vulnerable, and that is NEVER taken lightly or easy for me.

So as I pen this, I had to ask myself, “Did that just happen?”

Yes, yes it did and yes it is. So, now what?

That has been my question for the last five weeks, and I have come to the conclusion that now what means: for right now, I will live in the moment. I will not look past it or what-if it, or try to figure it out. I will simply dance in the moment and enjoy it.

God, help each of us to live in the moment You give us. To soak up its beauty, find its joy, heal in its mercy, and dance in its timing. Rain down on us Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.   

This Clumsy, Broken Thing

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 

I’m really clumsy.

If you knew me, you’d laugh because that’s an understatement.

I call the phenomena “Drop the book.” It’s like my brain decides, “You’re done holding that. Drop the book.” Then the book falls. It’s real.

I have a friend who calls me “Trip,” not because I’m funny.

spectacular messAnd I think there are things in life that happen only to me. I mean, it takes a special person to cause a spectacular splatter of gooey chocolate all over her wall and stove.

Once I accidentally flushed $150 down the toilet. You don’t even want to know.

Most of the time I just laugh at myself.

After some manifestation of my clumsiness, my husband always cupped my chin in his hand, grinned, and said, “Oh Lovee, what am I going to do with you?”

“Just love me,” was my coy reply.

A friend told me that it really is a cute elegance. I’ll go with that.

I also break things, but not on purpose.

It always seems to be something with memories attached, though–a coffee mug my husband and I bought on vacation–a hand-painted spoon rest from when we were dating.

On our first anniversary I even broke one of our personalized wedding flutes. You can imagine the tears. We never got around to replacing it either.

To date I haven’t broken a dish in anger, but I’ll admit, when Jon died I often wished a box of cheap dishes would magically appear so I could smash them to the floor.

And had they appeared, I’m almost certain they would have ended up in smithereens.

Even then I had sense enough not to hurl the Fiestaware.

Recently I broke my special spoon rest…again. I don’t remember how I broke it the first time, but I’m sure I was distraught and Jon his usual calm. We carefully fixed it with super glue, and its flaw was barely noticeable.

I think I’ll be able to mend it again, but I this time the scar will show. When memories are all that’s left, a shattered one pierces that much deeper.

So, I’ve been thinking about how God speaks of broken things.

Often being broken is a mark of humility or surrender.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

I’ve been broken so many times. The process is painful, but it’s a sweet brokenness that teaches me to understand the fierceness of God’s tenderness. He draws near the broken hearted.

Being broken and restored also reminds me of Kintsukuroi, a Japanese repair method that infuses broken pottery with gold. How ironic that the shards are mended with scars of gold! The result– a piece far more exquisite and costly, not in spite of the scars but because of them.

In other places, broken things represent extravagant love.

“…as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.” Mark 14:13

A familiar story, but don’t lose its radiance.

A woman, identified elsewhere as Mary the sister of Lazarus, took a flask of ointment worth almost a year’s wages, broke it (for there were no screw tops in those days), and used all of it to anoint Jesus.

Others around the table were outraged at her ridiculous waste and flagrant behavior.

But her broken thing was an avenue for lavish affection and worship. She knew what was most important.

Finally, sometimes God combines these three: humility, scars, and extravagant love.

They intersect in the ultimate “broken thing,” Jesus.

He humbled himself even to death on the cross. Now alive, He bears the scars as a mark of His extravagant love.

He heals broken things. He mends them with something much more valuable than gold.

I marvel that He loves this clumsy, broken thing.

Father thank you for spiritual brokenness. Thank you for bringing me often to a place of surrender and humility. Keep my heart ever tender before you. Use my brokenness to manifest your extravagant love. I have scars, but you heal them with something more precious than gold, that is, Yourself. 

Fall Devotional Book Celebration Give Away!

The Fall Edition of our daily devotional book –

For the Love of HER Life!

Available through Amazon on August 20, 2014

Sisters,

Many of you have asked! Now we have an answer for you!   We are so very close to releasing our next volume of daily devotionals which will pick up where our summer devotional ended.  Elizabeth Dyer and her team of helpers have been working on compiling it all summer long.

Our summer devotional was such a wonderful blessing to many of our readers and as gifts to friends of our readers who are not familiar with our ministry. We’ve heard from many of you through emails, phone calls, tweets, and comments on our facebook page.  And all of you are telling us how much the devotional helped you and your friends. We would like you to tell Amazon readers about it too!  Let’s get the word out!

To encourage you to do so, and in honor of our release date, we want ONE of you to have a copy of the new fall edition for FREE!  Please go to Amazon and write a review of the summer edition.  One Amazon reviewer will be chosen at random to receive the newest edition absolutely free.

Please go here and review our book.  It is that simple. Please have your review submitted before August 20, 2014.

We are so excited to get this latest book into your hands.  We wish we could reach readers in every church and every women’s ministry, so that every widow can be reached with encouragement.  That is our prayer.  Every penny from the book sales goes straight into our ministry and enables us to keep doing the Lord’s work.

If God leads you, buy one for yourself and one for someone for whom you are praying. Perhaps put one in the hands of your church’s pastoral care minister.  Don’t forget about our sisters who have no Internet access but could definitely benefit from an encouraging message every day. Give one to someone who has just lost her husband.  Trust us, when she’s ready to open it, she will be greeted with stories by women who get what she is going through and will help her lean on Christ for healing!

We can’t wait to have this devotional ready for you in the coming weeks! God bless you for supporting this ministry!

 

The Grief Hawk

“Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

I Corinthians 15:58

 A hawk might eat my dog!

That’s what I was told at our last vet visit.  Seriously, I was told a hawk might swoop down and grab my dog.  This is quite comical to my friends and family, who’ve been on this rather funny and a bit nutty puppy journey with me. You see, I love to do special things to commemorate the significant days of my husband’s life, most importantly his earth birthday and heaven birthday (the day he went home). I’ve done different interesting things that include; attending a Yankee game on his b-day, competing in a five mile mud run on the 2nd year anniversary of his passing, and most recently, buying an eight week old puppy.

This fall, out to lunch with a friend on what would have been my husband’s 39th earth birthday, I planned to stop next door to “window” shop at a puppy store. With little intention of purchasing a dog, I walked out with our little Ellie Belle, a Lhasa Poo (Lassa Apsa and Poodle mix). Ellie has brought so much joy and fun to our home. She is a blessing I did not anticipate.

But, she is a puppy!

My philosophy was a little dog would only create a little mess, and while that is true, that little mess is ALL over my house ALL the time. I had no clue little dogs take so long to potty train, and are so much more delicate than a big dog. Plus, she is long haired, so a few vet visits ago I was advised that she should be brushed at least two to three times a day to prevent matting. Say what?

At this visit, as the vet was warning me about the danger of large predatory birds taking my Ellie Belle, I really didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I envisioned that scene from “The Proposal” where Sandra Bullock’s character is running around tempting the hawk with the little dog to convince him to release her cell phone, except I’d be running around waving my phone at the hawk trying to get him to release my Ellie.

Over the last several months, this puppy has been so much work and has brought added stress. Yet, she’s also brought us fun and happiness. It’s been an adventure and a welcomed distraction, and I know that my labor will create a wonderful family pet.

As I was filling the kids in on the perils of a large bird attack, I started to think how this little puppy journey has mirrored my widow journey. Although puppy woes, compared to grief, are trivial, short-lived, and in my case full of funny stories, here’s what I realized; I had absolutely no anticipation of becoming a widow. I went into it knowing nothing about true grief. I often felt at any moment I was going to get carried off by the grief “hawk”. I had “messes” all over the place some days. I needed to be loved or “brushed” often by my friends and family, especially in those early days, and this grief journey has many stages with their own unique to me time frame.

My puppy is getting better with every passing day, and the great news is God IS growing and changing me too. I won’t always be in today’s stage. I will not be carried away by that grief hawk and my messy days are becoming fewer and farther between. Now I can love on others who are in the trenches of the early days of grief. He is drawing me nearer to Him and making my faith stronger. I can see clearly that in Him my labor through grief and willingness to allow Him to guide me is NOT in vain.

Sisters, God’s word is clear, if we give ourselves fully to Him in this grief “work”, then through Him it will not be in vain. He will heal us, protect us, guide us, and even reward us. I pray today that you can see and feel how God is working through your grief labor in many big and small ways.

And if you need a good distraction, you need to get an Ellie belle. 😉

   ellie

In God’s Time…

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so,

people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.   Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

 

I remember reading this verse shortly after becoming a widow.  Snuggled up in my big bed, between two little boys, ages 8 and 9, as they drifted off to sleep.

Hot tears coursed down my cheeks, creating pools of salty bitterness as I soaked in these Old Testament words.

Beautiful?

How in the name of Jesus Christ could God EVER make something beautiful out of this dark, lonely, oppressive mess I found my family smack dab in the midst of?

I couldn’t fathom how to get through the night, much less how to get through the emotions weighing on me so heavily.   Sometimes I wondered if I could even take another breath, the pain was devastating.

Two boys no longer had their daddy physically by their sides.  I no longer had my partner, the one person (this side of heaven) that loved me for me.

I felt like I was moving in slow motion, while the world around me moved at warp speed.  Life continued, despite my best efforts to keep it at bay.

Primarily a New Testament girl until age 48, I discovered the Old Testament offered me more during my grieving process.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the New Testament and what it means for every born-again Christian.  For the most part, it is an easy read.  Salvation, the life of Jesus, the disciples’ stories, the spreading of the Gospel to distant shores—it gives us our heavenly hope.

Whereas I consider the New Testament more of an answer to eternal life in general, the Old Testament, in my opinion, is the Bible’s meat and potatoes.

Sometimes it’s not pretty.  Sometimes it’s downright difficult to digest.  But for folks in the midst of a crisis, where lollipops and rainbows and perfection don’t exist, the Old Testament is the grit and soul of the Bible.

God’s timing?  I’ve never understood it.

And, at age 50, I think I’ve finally become okay with that.

Reading the heart-wrenchingly beautiful book of Ecclesiastes from start to finish as a widow of 3 months was-difficult-but-necessary for this Texan.

“Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time…”

Really, God?  Where’s the beauty in watching my sons suffer?

Where’s the beauty in being alone, after being part of a couple for over 20 years?

Where’s the beauty in figuring out how to mow a yard, replace a light fixture, repair a clothes dryer?

Just how many buckets of tears can one woman cry?

The sad list changed constantly.  It was seemingly endless.    But God’s answer remained the same:  unchanging, unwavering, and steadfast.

The widow must trust God’s timing. 

I drank in that book of Ecclesiastes for the first time a bit over two years ago.

Looking back now, I can see the hand of God, the interweaving of beauty through the ashes and the pain of my family during this journey.

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Life is different.  That may be the understatement of the year for me.

I’m not who I was.   Neither are my boys.

We bear the scars of losing a daddy and husband, a best friend and provider.  But the scars are proof of our healing.

God has taken this very-bad-no-good-horrible-mess and transformed it into beauty.

In His time.

Laughter has replaced the tears in our home.  We smile, sometimes until our cheeks hurt. We belly laugh until our sides hurt.

In His time.

I run to upbeat contemporary Christian tunes, pounding the pavement, thanking God for the beauty He’s created from the ashes of my life.

In His time.

Sisters, do not ever doubt the word of God.

He will keep His promises.

Pour over scripture, especially in the Old Testament, to soothe your souls.

Don’t compare your life, your circumstances, to anyone else’s.  Grief is different for everyone.

Whenever a widow friend told me shortly after my husband’s death one day I would just wake up, finding life was again worth living, I smiled sweetly, thanked her, all the while thinking,

“Yeah, right…”

But right she was. One day a couple of months ago, I did wake up, like I had been in a deep slumber.  I am once again eager to experience life, ready for whatever God has in His plans for my boys and me.

You will do the same, dear one.

In His time.

Heavenly Father,  I come to you today, giving you thanks for my storm and for the beauty that has come from it.  Help each of us be patient, to hold to your promises of making everything beautiful for its own time.  When we are in the midst of the bad, it’s so difficult to look up.  Thank you for your patience, for your persistence in our healing.  I pray that each person here today may be renewed by these words, by the promise of healing and beauty.   Your time must be our time.  In the name of your blessed Son I ask it all, Amen.

 

Lonely. Yet never alone.

by Nancy Howell

There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.

There is a time to be born and a time to die.

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. 

There is a time to be sad and a time to dance. 

There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4 (NCV)

September 3, 2013.  Just another day on the calendar for most, but not for me.

I have been dreading this day, wincing and squirming as it approaches.  Wondering how in the wide world of sports I was going to get through the 24 hour period.

If my husband had lived, it would have been our 25th wedding anniversary.

So many memories.  So much fun.  A perfect day, way back in 1988, whenever I became Mrs. Mark Howell.

If I close my eyes, I can still see the look on his face as he saw me in my wedding dress for the first time.

I hear the music, see the church filled with family and friends.  I see three Howell men (his father, younger brother, and himself) all a bit misty-eyed as the service gets underway.

I see my dad, as he nearly trips over my long train after giving my hand to his future son-in-law (by the way, it gave a great comic moment and set the tone for the ceremony).

So many years.  So many memories.  I never dreamed we would not see our 25th anniversary together.

We had plans (oh, if I had a dollar for everytime I’ve written or proclaimed that sentence!).  Graduate student budgets allowed for a Florida honeymoon while we pipe dreamed of Hawaii.  A pact was made, early in the marriage.  We would spend our 25th in Hawaii, and leave our boys with the two grandmas.

But you know the way those plans ended–with me becoming a widow over two years ago.

My boys and I have made great strides.  We are committed to moving forward and living life to the fullest, because we know in our hearts that’s what their daddy wants for us.

That doesn’t make it any easier.

I look back and see how far we have come.  I look ahead and see there are miles and miles to go.

For now, though, all I can see is September 3rd on my day planner.

I awake early that morning, well before sunrise.  I think back to my wedding day.  I had done the same thing.

Twenty-five years ago, I was young, head over heels in love, getting ready to start the greatest adventure of my life.  I felt all-encompassing joy from head to toe.

This year?  Astonishingly enough, as the memories flooded my mind, and my morning prayers took flight, I felt more grateful than I did sad.

There were tears throughout the day, for sure, but they were not all sad and grief-filled.  I smiled a lot.  I told our sons several wedding day stories about their daddy.  And I made it through.

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There is a time to mourn.  Heaven knows I have done my share and then some.  There is also a time to laugh.  And live.

I am ready for my new season of laughing, knowing full well that there will still be periods in which I cry.

What season do you find yourself in today, dear one?  Are you in the mind-numbing shock of recent loss, where you cannot even remember what day it is?

Are you angry at being left alone?

Do you rewind the events of your loved one’s passing over and over and over, playing out “should have/would have/could have” scenarios on a continuous loop in your head?

Have you hit a wall, spiritually and or emotionally, where you are pretty certain you cannot go one step farther along this path alone?

Are you overwhelmed with all of the added responsibilities the loss has put square on your slight shoulders, from yard work to balancing the checkbook to changing the oil in your car to making life decisions?

Maybe you find yourself now a single parent, dealing with not only your loss, but also the devastation of your children being without their dad?

Whatever the season you are in, right at this very moment, I want you to know:

You. Are. Not. Alone.

Did you get that?  You are not in this mess by yourself.

First of all, you have God.  And Jesus.  And the Holy Spirit, who is interceding on your behalf between your earthly turmoil and heaven.

Next, you have us.

We are here for you, albeit in a small way, right here at A Widow’s Might.  Women on this team are in different seasons of life, different seasons of widowhood…but we all “get it.”  We’ve walked where you are walking.

We’ve probably cried as many tears.  We’ve most likely spent sleepless nights, wondering how God could ever redeem a terrible situation and bring some good from it.

But He, and He alone, can.  And He will.

You just have to let Him in.

I made it through my anniversary, with God by my side.

My eleven year old, wiser than his earthly years said it better than I ever could: “Mom, I want you to not be too sad today.  We are doing really well.  God and Dad know that.”

Dear God in heaven,  I thank You again for the humbling opportunity to come into these sisters’ lives today.  Bless them, hold them close, and let them have the reassurance that whatever season they are in today, they will continue to heal if they just focus their eyes and their hearts on You.  Help us as we struggle with our individual losses.  You know our needs before we even ask.  We pray for peace, for comfort, and for guidance as we re-align our lives.  Show us Your plans for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.