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.

Christmas 2016

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 

Luke 2:11 KJV

Christmas 2016 – six Christmases without Bill.  He loved Christmas! The lights, the family gatherings, the movies, the friends, celebrating, surprises…all of it!  Christmas with Bill brought belief and wonder into our home as early in the season as possible.  I loved Christmas with Bill and my daughter!

The first Christmas without Bill, I forced myself to do something different.  My daughter and I flew to the “happiest place on earth” in Florida.  As we checked into our beautiful hotel, I learned that my daughter didn’t really want to go on this trip. On Christmas Eve, I finally talked her into going to an Irish pub that featured clog dancing while eating. We enjoyed the dancers, my food was ok, but my daughter “liked” it – first compliment of the trip.

As we fell asleep Christmas Eve, it felt so good to not be home wandering around the sameness, yearning for what was missing.  At 4 am, I awoke to find I had food poisoning…violent food poisoning.   2011 was officially the WORST Christmas ever.  I knew it was going to be bad after my husband died, but this bad topped my most creative thoughts of what bad might look like.

Every Christmas that has followed has been better and better.  My daughter and I have charted a course through this grief journey and have managed to create a very special looking-back and living-forward Christmas tradition.

Christmas 2016 was, by far, the best since we started this journey.  It was filled with quiet moments of reflection and also wonderful moments of living and loving.  Bill’s life was honored, but wonderful new traditions were weaved around that.

We are moving forward and, instead of dragging our sorrow with us, we have lovingly tucked it into our everyday moments where memories can shine, allowing us to enjoy the moment. 

Each Christmas, I think about what Heaven is like versus the Christmas we celebrate here.  Both of us look to the Savior.  Bill is complete and gets to walk into the throne room, worshiping in the presence of the King freely.  He has seen our Savior’s beautiful face!  Perhaps he has met biblical “heroes” and reconnected with Saints gone before him. Looking forward to that, we make the best of our finite capabilities, stringing lights to represent the Heavenly host and the special star.  We look at the Baby born that night who held a beautiful promise.  We look to a Savior that our hearts know and accept His Salvation, awaiting the day we will see Him face-to-face. 

The thought that drifts through my brain so often since Bill’s death is the promise of salvation gives me hope and allows me to grieve in hope. Because of my Savior and the salvation He offers, I will see Bill again. I will someday join him and all my other loved ones who accepted that salvation.  I will get to see my Savior’s beautiful face!  I will get to talk to the Bible heroes.  There is hope and, while I am here, I have a purpose.  I am to point others to this promise of salvation.  I am to minister to others, helping them see the Hope. 

Christmas is the promise of a Savior fulfilled.  A Savior who made the perfect sacrifice so we might have eternal life.   We can deal with life’s difficulties with hope that only comes from the Savior. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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: A Christmas Butterfly by Linda Lint

Finding Your Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

1Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

`A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

`Bah!’ said Scrooge, `Humbug!’

                                                               -Charles Dickens

I could have written that about myself early into my widow’s journey:

‘Merry Christmas, Kit! He is the Reason for the Season!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Kit’s best friend’s little girl Natalie, who came upon her so quickly Kit hadn’t even realized she had come into the room.

I didn’t say ‘bah humbug,’ but I wanted to. I was well into year two—one of the toughest of my journey. The reality that Tom was truly gone had set in.

Natalie’s precious little hands opened to reveal a red and green painted stone. ‘It’s for you,’ she said.

I took the stone in my hand, feeling like no response to this little girl’s love would be adequate—feeling like such a Scrooge.

That Christmas I wanted to hide under the blankets until the “Reason for the Season” stopped banging reminders that everyone seemed to have a “Reason” but I.

Face it—I was in my pity party. I wanted to be Ebenezer himself.

…truth is, an Ebenezer is exactly what helped me through that lonely Christmas season.

We think of a scowly old sinner when we hear ‘Ebenezer’. But that’s not what the name means at all.

The name was given by the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament to a stone which marked a moment when God showed up. Back in those days, people had turned away from God for so long, it was a wonder God would want to have anything to do with them.

But of course He did.

He sent Samuel who led the people in prayer and repentance.

But while they prayed, their most dreaded enemy, the Philistines, surprised them in battle. God stepped in by confusing the Philistines with claps of thunder, leaving the Israelites not only protected, but regaining four cities back under their control. It was a long time before the Philistines bothered them again.

Samuel erected a stone and called it an “Ebenezer” (1Samuel 7:12). “Eben” in Hebrew means stone, and “Azer” is Hebrew for helping.  The Ebenezer, “helping stone” was placed to mark the spot of victory as a helpful reminder that God will defeat the enemy.

Author Charles Dickens had turned to Christ late in life and intended for A Christmas Carol to be his “Ebenezer” to those needing to find salvation.

I already found my eternal salvation, but for that holiday season, I needed my Ebenezer, my helping stone to remind me God would defeat my loneliness. Natalie had placed it right in my hand.

I kept her little Ebenezer stone on my mantle. Each time a panic attack arose, I held it, remembering the pure love shown to me by little Natalie, like the pure love God feels for us.

Are you struggling this Christmas season?  Are you wishing you could skip the holidays altogether?

I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. All of us writers have been there. Write to us. Let us be your Ebenezer, sister.  Place this website on your mantle (so to say) and reach for us when you need us.

Lord, would you give each sister reading this post a sense, if not just for a moment, that she is being carried?  Show her that Christ is the rock and the foundation for our faith and healing. Help her know she is not alone.  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 mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. 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.

 

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: 

December…Bah! Humbug….

Christmas is Over: Is a Grinch Still Lurking?

The Ornament Without a Hook

God will Make A Way

“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you “

Psalm 42:6 ESV

Blind-sided. Once again. Suddenly, it happened. You know that moment, when something triggers ‘the button’. The button that explains the “why” I am sitting alone. The button that can release a flood of memories at any given moment. The one you do your best not to press. In the midst of the church pews, I became aware that I was surrounded by couples. Husband and wives coming together to worship. And as I observed these couples and saw them sitting there with hands entwined or the husband’s hand placed in the small of his wife’s back, my focus was rocked. My mind retreated to the numerous times I was able to worship God along side my husband. And at that moment, my mind slipped to memories passed.

I was attending a special Sunday night meeting of prayer and music at my church. The service was well attended by many in the community and I was truly enjoying the music and fellowship with other Christians. I was certainly not prepared for the triggered memory of worshipping along side my husband to be stirred so deeply.

For the next few minutes, I disengaged to that place of memories. I remembered the times I was able to sit beside my husband in a church pew. I thought of all the “acts of service” that we did side by side as working laymen for the church. Pictures flashed through my mind of the many activities we were part of in serving God through work at the church. And at that moment – I so badly wanted my husband beside me. I felt such a void. It occurred to me that “worshipping together” was truly one of the biggest things I missed.

And, as the congregation stood to sing, “God Will Make A Way”, I must confess to you, I could not stand. My body suddenly felt heavy, and I felt I did not have the strength to stand. So. I sat. And listened. My head was bowed and my eyes were closed. And I listened.

“God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.

 He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.

 He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side.

 With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way”  

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. I remember You. I remember the many times You have consoled my grieving heart. I remember the times You have guided me through decisions that needed to be made. I remember how faithful You have been in providing for me and my girls. I remember You.

And as my blurred memories began to fade (not go away, mind you, but fade) and my focus cleared and shifted back to Him, I quietly stood and joined the singing congregation.

God will make a way for us when life’s events trigger “buttons” of despair.  He is the one who makes my heart worship again. And it is Him who gives me strength when I feel depleted.

Memories can be bittersweet. But, the memory of worshipping along side my husband is so very sweet in my heart. And as I choose to continue to serve and worship God, I give Him thanks for the special times I was able to share with my husband.

He will be my guide, hold me closely by His side. With love and strength for each new day. He will make a way.

Father, how blessed we are to have You hold us so closely by Your side. I pray each widow reading these words can feel Your love and strength to carry them through each day. 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 going through events without your husbands by Sheryl and Renee.

Being Present in Our Now

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”

Matthew 6:.34 ESV

Breathe deeply.

Smile genuinely.

Find beauty in every single day.

Be grateful.

Laugh.

Start living in the now.

I know how some days this comes easier than others.  I am walking this very same road myself.

And I am raising children on it.  I recently shed tears with my teenage daughter over how she won’t have her Daddy to walk her down the wedding aisle.  She is fifteen and she shared that she almost dreads her wedding day because of what has been lost and who will be missing.

My heart splinters in new places I didn’t even know had not previously been shattered.

Life changes suddenly.

We have faced catastrophic loss. We know deep hurt and unrelenting sorrow.

We can choose to remain in the pain, being paralyzed by the fear of nothing ever being good again, focusing on all the events he will be missing from, that are yet to come.  Wallowing in the exhaustion of facing these future moments as our sadness steals their joy before they even have a chance to occur. 

OR

We can start taking steps towards BEING PRESENT IN OUR NOW.

Because, dreading the future without him won’t bring him back. It won’t make the days to come any easier.  What it is guaranteed to do though, is steal us from our now.  It will suffocate the current right out of us as the days will pile upon themselves until we have missed living.

We’ve lost enough. Let’s not choose to give more to death than it has already taken.

So together, let’s pause.

Breathe deeply.

{The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. ~Job 33:4}

Smile genuinely.

{A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. ~Proverbs 15:30a NLT}

Find beauty in this day that is before us.

{This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24}

Be grateful.

{Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

~1Thessalonians 5:18}

Laugh.

{She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ~Proverbs 31:25}

Let’s make the choice to start being present in our now.

My daughter’s wedding day will arrive sometime in the next decade or so.  And yes, her Daddy will be missing from the day.  And yes, we will be achingly aware of that missing.  But dreading it now isn’t going to change his lack of presence, it will only steal peace from today.  We will find a way to honor his place in her life and heart, and it will be a beautiful celebration.  He will have the best seat in the house, from heaven above.

Father God, You alone are our strength and in You alone will we be able to pause and truly experience the “now” in our lives.  Show us the positives of our present day and fill us with Your peace.  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.

Email our ministry at admin@anewseason.net to have a team member speak at your church or event.

Other articles written by Lori can be found here.

For more on the topic of focusing on the present see Thankful Hearts by Elizabeth or God Sent a Sparrow by Linda

 

Joy & Loss

“I will convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.”

Jeremiah 31:13 (The Message)

Where joy and loss collide.

That’s where I find myself these days.  I’m beyond the intense grief.  I’m beyond the deep pain.  There is joy.  There is healing.  We’ve grown and changed in so many ways.  God is even more known.  We are deeper. Better.

Yet, the loss is still there.  There’s now the moments where the bittersweet tears mix with pure joy. It’s an intimate place.  A deep place.  A place where God stands every time.

God is always there when the joy and loss of this messy life collide. Reminding me of His love and promises to me.

As we move forward and life unfolds, there’s still hard parts.  There’s still times where my husband is missed beyond words.  That will always be and the other day was one of those days.

My husband loved so many things.  But sports, particularly baseball, football, and surfing were amongst his favorites.  On this day one of my sons was old enough and experienced enough to take his daddy’s surfboard out for the first time.  As I stood on the shoreline watching him paddling out and turning to wave to me with utter joy on his face, I replayed the hundreds of times Scott had done that same thing through our years together.  How many times I’d sat and just watched the man I loved so completely enjoy life through surfing the waves of the Jersey Shore.  How his smile would beam towards me and pure joy would exude out of him with each turn and twist on every wave he caught.

As I stood there watching those same emotions coming out of his “mini-me”, the bittersweet tears rolled.  My husband longed for these special moments with all his heart.  My broken, but mended, heart was there instead.

The loss tells me I HAVE to walk these moments.   My joy tells me I GET to walk these moments.  And that’s where the two collide.  That’s where I can take the bittersweet tears that rolled and remember to let joy wash over me because, I GET to have these precious moments that now mean so much more.

With each wave as his confidence built, the depths of my soul began to warm and a smile arose.  God was there.  He was shining down from His place on high and speaking into those deeper places.  Reminding me whose I was and whose my boy was.

Reminding me how much He loves me and my children.  How He has invaded our grief with joy in so many ways.

On this special day, my precious boy surfed on his daddy’s board. I had a front row seat and God bridged the vast gap between the loss we endure and the life we choose to live well.

As I took in this precious moment, I chose to cherish what I have more than mourn what I don’t have.  I chose not to miss what I do have, for what I don’t have.  Joy and loss will collide as I walk forward, as my children grow and cross many wonderful moments and milestones.  I know each will stir up the loss and the missing.  But, I also know joy will meet me there too and I will embrace those moments. I will take them in, slowly and deeply, because I don’t want to miss one second of it.

Salty tears will mix with my pure joy and that’s how I’ll do this thing called life.

Father, thank you for meeting me and loving me right where I am.  Thank you for returning our joy and allowing me to still get all these wonderful and significant moments.  I lift up any sister who is walking this, where the loss is still so vast.  Lord, comfort her and bridge the gap between loss and joy for her in Your matchless ways.  Be THE invader, where grief becomes less and joy in You becomes more.  In Your Precious Name, Amen.

 


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4 Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Similar posts: Finding Joy in Trials & Joy Comes in the Mourning

Lost At Sea – Focus on Christ

And He[Jesus] said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14:29-31 NASB

It’s that time again.  Time for our annual family vacation.  I need it!  I need a break…and I love the beach and seven whole days away from my everyday life…  This particular vacation is with my husband’s side of the family.  It is time spent with his sisters and brothers in law, nieces and nephews, mom and stepdad.  Time spent in the same town that we, for many years, traveled to with these same people.

To say my heart and mind are flooded with memories of times past doesn’t even begin to describe it.

As I packed the car with our stuff for the week, I am reminded of me and Bill packing the car countless times. He would lovingly harass me about not packing the kitchen sink.  As we cross the bridge to our island home for the coming week, I am reminded of the years that he sat on our jet ski, by the bridge, and waved to me as we crossed. I would catch glimpses of his strong back, as he turned the jet ski toward our vacation home and I took the road to meet him there.  I am reminded of our times together, side-by-side making dinner on our night to host the family.  So many happy memories!

I’m also reminded of the last year we came together…when he was sick…the week he spent at the hospital.  I slept at the hospital too, as near to him as I could be.  I’m reminded of the year after his death…the year I slept alone in a big bed meant for two, but only filled by one.  Those memories are painful!

It is now my sixth summer alone and, while I have many happy new memories, these old memories keep swirling through my head.  They are so strong.

Today, as I body surfed with my family, I thought about how life is so much like the waves that crashed around me.  God is in control and as each wave comes and I decide whether to jump over it or into it, sometimes the wave (or life) crashes into my face.  Sometimes, I am sent tumbling through the water up onto the shell-filled beach.  Other times, I handle the wave and I get to see the beautiful blue water and enjoy the moment.  The water can be refreshing at times and, at other times, it can be painful.

Life can be like that.

At times, refreshing and at other times, painful.

With God, no matter what the waves bring into my life, I can handle them through Him.  Focusing on the fact that God is in control, and my life along with everything that happens in it has passed through His loving hands, gives me comfort.  So, when those memories that are sweet come and I miss my husband; I thank God for allowing me the time I had with him.  I thank God for giving me such a great family who have allowed me to stay in their lives even though Bill is not here anymore.  When the memories are painful, I thank God that He found a way for Bill to not have pain anymore.  I thank God that Bill is with Him, and that my reunion with him is planned at some point in the future.

I focused on my Savior each day of this vacation.  Who am I kidding?  I focus on my Savior every day of this journey.  God is good and even when I’m feeling lost; in Him, I am found.

Dear Lord,  Thank You for all my wonderful memories!  Thank You for this life!  I am found in You and I rest in You.  Amen


 

Sherry LookSherry 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 very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at 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:

When There’s Nothing Left by Elizabeth

He Will Make A Way

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.

Luke 1:45 NIV

Tonight, this verse in Luke is jumping off the page and doing a swan dive smack into the deepest part of my heart. It’s a reminder and a balm for this Mama.

From the first phone call notifying me of my husband’s death, my biggest heartbreak was what his death would mean for our three girls. How on earth would I ever be able to solo parent? All children need their daddies. Even now, The girls don’t always use words to convey their grief, often I can see it in their eyes. Every time I see that look it splinters my heart a little more.

I remembered being filled with so much uncertainty when I contemplated our little family’s road ahead. The job of running a household and raising children is a daunting task for two people; then in the blink of an eye, it was all on my shoulders. I thought…

“How am I supposed to do this when I’m a mess too?”

Then, I thought…

“I trust you, Jesus.”

I believe His answer took shape in my heart as I wrote a note to my husband for his memorial service.

We are just going to be parenting long distance. You hold our baby in heaven and I‘ll hold our babies on earth. We may be apart, but your influence will be ever fresh in our minds; we will honor you and the ONE who made you always.

This little excerpt from my letter to him lay the foundation for how God wanted me to be a solo parent. I am a solo parent in appearance sake, but clinging to God’s voice, His guidance and His love for our family reminds me, I am not doing this alone. I have the ONE who is limitless in His resources, His wisdom, and His love for all three of my girls and me. His best interest for them outweighs mine. I’m thankful to know that my husband is alive in Christ and there is help in heavenly places, as I parent.  

I’ve been reminiscing about those early moments a great deal this week. Although it’s been so hard and continues to be the hardest thing in my life to walk through, I see His hand guiding me along and making a way. Like Mary in the first chapter of Luke, I didn’t understand all the places the road would take me to, but I know to trust Him. Trust, ensures His light will brighten the road at the exact moment I place my feet upon it.

My oldest daughter graduates from college in two days, and in July, she’ll walk down the aisle and say “I do” to her groom. Weddings are so beautiful, but so hard and always bring bittersweet moments. I always hold my own hand during those ceremonies and remember our vows and the three squeezes to the hand as a reassurance from my groom as he would choose me every single time. I am so proud of my daughter and her groom to be. They have both encountered the loss of a parent. They’ve witnessed the devastating effects of a spouse left behind, but they choose to trust their heavenly Father, and they are willing to take the plunge into the wild adventure He has waiting for them. The wedding and the day will be beautiful, but my girl reminded me “It’s the days after the wedding, I want to focus on.”

Yes, that’s my promise fulfilled.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please be with us and fill in the gaps in our parenting and in our journey on this widow’s road. We give You all the glory and the honor as You work in every aspect of our lives. In Your Mighty Name, amen.

 

 

Jill is a writer/contributor for A Widow’s Might and aNew Season Ministries. Jill is smitten by the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is her sanctuary. She takes every opportunity to spend time sinking her toes in the sand or swimming in its crystal clear water. In the spring of 2010 she experienced the hardest time of her life when her husband died in a motorcycle accident. She’s spent the last five years learning about the importance of walking by faith and not sight. Jill is now the torchbearer of the legacy her and her husband started twenty-five years ago. She is a mom to three strong and independent girls. Her most important goals are to honor Christ in everything she does, and to live life to the fullest in honor of her husband.


 

The Physical Loss

This article begins a two-part series over the loss of the physical relationship in marriage.

The air is brisk.  The leaves have begun their release and are cascading down from the highest branches, pooling in puddles of vibrant color on the ground.  I am sitting at a high school football game in the chilly Oklahoma wind the first time I notice it.  I am holding my own hand.

Possibly it is a nervous reaction to the close ball game and a certain young quarterback I have grown to love as my own.  It is definitely a self-soothing, subconscious effort.  I am literally sitting with my hands clasped together in my lap rubbing one thumb along the top of another.  Maybe it is out of habit?  Were my husband still here, we absolutely would have been holding hands and snuggling close as we cheered on the team.  I chuckle to myself, shake my head, and deliberately place each hand on its respective knee.

A few months later, another evening, this time I am sitting in a movie theater…suddenly aware that I am once again holding my own hand.  This time it saddens me as the acute loneliness nestles deep within my soul.

We lost many aspects of our relationships when our husbands left.  Rarely is the subject of physical touch addressed publicly amongst widows.

Why is this?  It seems silly for us to dance around it as though it doesn’t exist; this loss of physical touch in our lives.  God created us with favorable responses to positive touch.  It is how we are made and it is an enormous portion of our loss.

We didn’t just lose the intimate touch of our lover, we lost the casual touch too; the arm around our shoulder as we walk side by side; the hand held during prayer; the welcome home hug at the end of each day.

They are all missing.  And they are all missed.

Missed to the point, that two years out from the freshness of loss, I am catching myself holding my own hands at times when they would have naturally been encompassed by the strong grasp of my husband.

Just yesterday I texted one of my best friends the following message:

“Cold weather makes me miss the physical side of marriage a bit more than normal.

There. I said it.

So I guess it is inappropriate to just ask a random man if he could walk with me outside for an hour or so and hold my hand.  Maybe even have an adult conversation.  Then go our separate ways.  That’s a “no”, right?”

Ever the funny and helpful friend, she replied:

“Random men may think you are crazy…”

All joking aside, she is right.  Outsiders may think the admittance of missing even the most innocent of physical contact appears pathetic.  People will judge.  I don’t care.  It is something that the widowed community faces and it needs to be openly discussed.

God is a husband to the widow and never leaves us alone.  That is a truth I am thankful for; but sometimes knowing the “right answer” doesn’t curb my longing to simply have my hand held or to be embraced in a strong hug.  I am called to this ministry of sharing how God is carrying me through my loss, but I am also simply a widow who misses the physical presence of her husband.  I don’t have all the answers.

As I sort my way through this topic, I find myself thinking it would benefit me to be more deliberate in ensuring I receive physical touch.

And on the heels of that thought comes the one asking “What ways accomplish this while still maintaining the level of purity God calls me to?”

Tell me, how do you fill the void of casual physical touch in your life?

Lord, You created us to be relational people.  We miss the casual, physical touch of our husbands.  Help show us ways we can cope with this loss.  Amen.

{Don’t forget to  join us later this week as Erika discusses the loss of  intimate touch.}

 

2012-09-28 16.35.24-3Lori 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: Lori Reynolds Streller, A Widow’s Might 

See also: Missing the Little Things, or Unexpected Hugs 

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

 

 

Abba, Father

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called Children of God.”                                                                                                                                                  (1 John 3:1  ESV)

Autumn days are just around the corner.  Truly, my favorite time of the year.  A break from the summer heat.  Excitement of football games.  Cool crisp mornings.  Pumpkin flavored everything!

And schools are back in session.

This fall marks the fifth year moving a daughter into her desired college living space.  Five years ago was the last college move for my oldest daughter and the first one made on “our own”.  No daddy to help.  This year marks the last college move for me as my second daughter begins her senior year.  It was particularly hard as I struggled once again with not only the physical efforts a move takes, but the emotional toll of watching another daughter achieve a big accomplishment without daddy here to cheer her on. It is so easy to hurt for the moments his absence is unequivocally felt.

As per custom, during move-in weekend, we take a drive through campus. There is always lots of hustle and bustle with incoming freshmen and returning students moving into dorms and apartments. Each excited to begin a new chapter in their lives. I share in their excitement, really, I do. But, a sadness creeps over me as I observe all the helping dads on site. I don’t mind saying, it still hurts to see daughters telling their dads where to take their items and watch them smiling and relishing this moment of independence. I can’t help but to let tears fall as I yearn for my girl’s dad to be present, not only for these moves, but for their lives. I yearn for them to have him here to share these exciting times, to hear his input from questions they have, provide protection from fears and comfort when things don’t go as planned.

Tears fall.  Heart aches.

And yet.  

In the midst of the hurt, I hear His still quiet whisper,

and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  (2 Corinthians 6:18 ESV)

“I love them.  I am their Father.  My love will never leave, nor forsake.”  His whispers assure me of their Kinship to Him. In the years of college attendance, I know that our Father God has walked closely with my girls. He has been their protector and comforter. He has been faithful in their journey to move forward.

I am now more aware of moments that reach out to cause pain from what we no longer have. I call them “joy robbers”.  Much like a thief creeping into your home to rob you of your belongings, these fears, doubts and why me’s invade our thoughts and hearts to rob us of  joyous living.  What a comfort it is to truly know the love which God has for us.  Romans 8:15 says “and by Him we cry Abba, Father.”

Abba, Father. Don’t you just love that!  It just resonates love.

What a privilege it is to be called a son or daughter of God.  When we experience great pain, we must actively guard our hearts from negative invasions that cause us to question His love for us. Can you say even in the midst of a painful event that God is good? If so, you are living under the Abba love of God.  If you struggle to answer yes, I encourage you to search scripture for assurance of His love. There are many verses that speak of the Father’s love for us. My favorites include:  Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 68: 5-6, John 14:16, and 1 John 3:1.

My heart radiates joy as I watch my daughter’s seek the kinship of Abba, Father. I know they miss their earthly father every day, but trusting in their Heavenly Father is how they are choosing to live.

Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the love You lavish on us so we can be Your child.  I pray You will protect our hearts from the negativities life can deliver us and  find the joyous life You desire for us.  Amen.