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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Acceptance?

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

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

GOD is ATTENTIVE

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

GOD is COMPASSIONATE and FAITHFUL

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Janene @ Myrtle Beach

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

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

Applying Peace by Lori

Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me by Karen

 

Because I Said So!

“Because I said so!” 

It’s the line every kid swears they will NEVER grow up to use. Because, if you do…..it’s the day you “become” your mother.

The one line every child HATES to hear!

It offers no real explanation or hope of a negotiable outcome. Because I said so has a HUGE, FAT period or exclamation point at the end.

Done.

Finito!

No more conversation

Do you ever feel like this is what God said when you questioned why your love had to leave this place? Because He said so. No more conversation, His will is higher, His ways are better. Done. Finito!

It’s hard when we want to ask a million questions, and yet there are no answers we would be willing to accept. When we have tons of suggestions but the Father does not need a one of them. When all we really want, some days, is to go back in time-before it all unraveled. Before the sickness, the hospitals and ambulances, before the horror and tragedy, before we had to say it out loud to our children, families, friends, churches…..he’s gone. Before the visitations, and funerals, before the closets had to be cleaned out and belongings given away, before the houses and cars had to be sold, before the sleepless nights, the deafening silence and excruciating loneliness.

BEFORE seems like so long ago and yet it was just there yesterday.

The problem with always thinking of BEFORE is that it makes us miss the now and after.

After we found out we are stronger than we knew, after we realized we can do things we’ve never done before, after we found new friends and new interests, after we learned the depth and breadth of our Father’s love for us, after we let the petty of life go and better understood the importance of our legacies– after can be an incredibly powerful place, once we find our way there.

Why do mothers use, “Because I said so”? Because they KNOW it keeps children obedient even when it’s hard. It keeps kids safe when they don’t see danger. It comes from wisdom a child does not have. It come from experience and years of living. God had been doing this eternity thing for a lot longer than we have, maybe He does know better, maybe He is seeing things we do not, maybe He does want the best for us.

Dare to believe His promises are true…

But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NASB

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NASB

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NASB

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 NASB

because He says so

God, love us so deeply all we see is You through our tears and our laughter. In Jesus name, Amen.


 

Tcas1

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

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

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

Posts similar to this one by other authors: Fear not tomorrow… & Run the Race

 

 

Lori’s Favorite

This week’s favorite is one that Lori wrote earlier in her journey.  It addresses one of those big questions we all face as widows, “Who am I now?”

Please join us today for this truth-filled and encouraging post.


Who He Says I Am by Lori Streller

My eyes flutter open.  It is a rare day when no alarm clock is needed and the morning calendar is void of events.  A few months into the newness of widowhood, I lie in bed realizing that I am different.

I ask myself, “Who am I now?”

I’m one of those old-fashioned girls who always wanted to be a wife and mother.  There is no shame in that.  I enjoyed my career too, but role of wife and mother was my dream “job”.  I thrived being under the loving leadership of my husband.

He is gone now.

It is clear who I am not.  I was my husband’s primary caregiver during his cancer battle.  Suddenly, I am no longer the charter and giver of all medications, the guider of his walker as he navigates his way out of his home hospital bed, no longer the overseer of changing his clothing, the administer of nourishment through his feeding tube, no longer the helper for his personal care, nor the one reading to him as his eyes fail.

As I stretch my memory past the illness, to the beautiful years of our marriage, I find that I have lost many other pieces of myself as well.  I am without my best-friend, the Spiritual leader of our home, my parenting partner, my lover, and my biggest fan.  (Wow.  That’s a huge loss in one single blink of an eye.)

Thankfully, I am still Mom to our two children.  But even that role has changed.  I have new responsibilities as the only parent in this home.  I am the sole overseer of homework, sports schedules, chores, and nutrition.  I am the lone chauffeur for all road trips, long or short.  I am the one to guide our children, emotionally and physically as they navigate grief and the early teen years.

To be honest, it’s a lot, but you already know this, because you too are walking the lonely road of the widow.  Some of you are also raising children during this transition.  Some aren’t, but whether we have that common thread or not, I am guessing you feel like you’ve lost a chunk of who you are also.

So much has changed. 

WHO are we now?

I have a rule that I have implemented in my life to keep my train of thought positive when life is topsy-turvy.

 When you are unsure of something, go back to what you KNOW is true.

So, what is true about who we are?

We are children of the most high God {Acts 17:28}. 

We are forever His treasured possession {Deuteronomy 7:6}. 

We are guided by Truth {John 16:13}

We are forgiven {Ephesians 1:7}.

We are fully complete, strengthened in His might, lacking nothing {Colossians 1:11 & 2:10}.

We are holy and dearly loved {Colossians 3:12}.

Losing the role of wife has shaken me to my core.  It has left me feeling lonely, awkward and lost.  Can you relate?  I am so thankful that God reminds us of our worth, regardless of what our earthly “titles” are.  We are still precious and beautiful in His sight.  He wants us to see the beauty that remains within us.  Let’s rest in the knowledge of who He says we are!

Lord, thank you for staying with us right in the messy middle of our lives {Hebrews 13:5b}.  This life gets ugly and it is so easy to lose sight of our true identity.  You call us “loved”, “accepted”, and “friend”.  Wow.  Remind us when we forget, Lord.  Let us feel the saturation of who You say we are from the inside out.  Amen.        


Other post in “Our Favorites” series: Teri’s Favorite, Erika’s Favorite, Elizabeth’s Favorite, & Sherry’s Favorite

 

 

Words by Our Care Bear

Please join us today as we share a post by our beloved team member Karen Emberlin.  She is no longer with us, but she is still loved and remembered daily.  Her words still resonate and are a blessing!


Why Now- What If by Karen Emberlin

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

 A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

Job 14:5 (NIV)

Have you ever asked, “Why, Lord, did you take my husband now?”

or

“Could I have done something to prevent his passing?”

These two questions are clearly etched in my mind, they’ve been there for many months. My seemingly-healthy husband and I had no reason to believe anything serious was on the horizon. We spent New Years Day 2012 together with no signs of any problems. We retired for the night.  I, unfortunately, could not get comfortable, ending up tossing and turning.

Around  2 a.m. my husband and I agreed on my relocating to a recliner for the remainder of the night.  I would be more comfy, and hopefully he would get some rest.   Sleep finally came to me there in my chair.  Mere words will never be able to completely describe my shock to find, upon awaking at 8 a.m., that he had passed away at some point in his sleep!

Even though I have been told time and time again that remaining next to him in our bed all night wouldn’t have changed the sad outcome, I still wonder “what if” and “why”.  I most likely always will.  It’s human nature.

I do know this:  the Lord has been with me every day of this “journey” which began that sad morning sixteen months ago. Without a doubt He has given me strength to move forward.  I have the promise and hope that I will see my husband again. However……the “why” and “what if” questions and thoughts still lurk  in the back of my mind–no matter how much I want them to leave.

Last weekend I  attended a retreat with eight ladies from a Bible study group of which I am a member.

One of our discussion subjects was “Grief.”  It focused on the key verse  Psalm 139:16,  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (NIV)

I have read this verse countless times.  But this time, it was like God turned on a light bulb in my soul, helping me understand that in no circumstance can we either add or take from the days which are ordained for each of us (my husband)! January 2, 2012 was my beloved spouse’s time to go to heaven.  I could not have done anything to prevent it.

But even with this new understanding, my feelings of grief are not gone. I’ve made a lot of progress, but it will take more time, more tears, copious prayers, and letting go of the search for answers to these “why” and “what if” questions.  To continue my healing process, I must  choose to look at what plans the Lord has in store for me with a renewed perspective.

I anxiously await the time when my deep sense of loneliness will lessen, when guilt-free laughter returns to my life, and I can look forward with great anticipation to the future God has planned for me.

Our lives are like a piece of rich beautiful tapestry woven by the Lord. We cannot choose the colors and often times He weaves sorrow into the pattern.  In my foolish pride I sometimes forget He sees the upper side, and I, only the underside.

In time God will unroll the finished textile,  explaining the reason dark threads of sadness and sorrow are as necessary as the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has woven.  I’d like to think that the sadness and sorrow, seen in the dark stitching, adds depth and a subtle beauty, in contrast to the bright and sunny threads.  God knows we have to experience both.

Lord, please help me and my dear Sisters to replace our questions of “why” and “what if” with truth from Your Word. I pray  Your presence will be with us, helping us to see that good can come and will come in You and through You. You are such an awesome God – We love you!  Amen


Our sweet Karen went home to be with her Lord and Savior and beloved husband last year.  She continues to be loved, cherished, and missed deeply. 

Cut Short

“You know that only one person gets a crown for being in a race even if many people run. You must run so you will win the crown. Everyone who runs in a race does many things so his body will be strong. He does it to get a crown that will soon be worth nothing, but we work for a crown that will last forever.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NLV)

It upsets me when things are cut short.  I don’t like abrupt.  I like neat closure tied with a pretty bow. Movies or books that end without real closure are my biggest pet peeve. I need it to finish without a cliffhanger.  I need to know how it ends. And I really want that end to be “happily ever after”.  I like happy!

My husband’s death, for so long, felt like his life was cut short, or that his life came to an abrupt end.  We were robbed of him, and he was robbed of us.  He doesn’t get to see the kids grow up and be a part of that.  They were deprived of their daddy so young, when they need him most! Now they have so many years to go without him.

I felt our time was cut short and I partly blamed God for that.  I carried that “cut short” mentality for quite some time on this journey.

But, one morning awhile back I was reading a devotional and I came across words similar to these: Our times aren’t cut short.  When our purpose is fulfilled God calls us home.  We GET to go home!

At first I glazed over it and smirked, thinking not us.  “My husband committed suicide”, I even mumbled to myself as I read.

The article went on to say nothing happens outside of God’s authority.

Honestly, I was assured this so many times in those first days. But, I’m not sure I was ready to hear it just yet.

I reread it again.  When our purpose is fulfilled we GET to go home.

I sat and repeated that a few times.  All of the sudden it finally sunk in! I opened up that part of my heart to The Lord, and I cried out “Wow, holy moly!  Wait what?”

I reread it several times.

Then I went to my knees before the Lord.  I began to realize no matter how hard this is, no matter how much it hurts me or my kids, or how “unfair” it seems, the reality is when our purpose here is fulfilled we are called home.  We are called home because God didn’t create us for self-satisfaction.  He created us for His purposes.  And when our purpose is fulfilled we GET heaven!  If He had more purposes for Scott, He would’ve prevented his death and healed him here on earth.

That’s tough to understand or accept.  Especially in the self-centered, do what makes you feel good, you deserve happiness society around us.

But the world we live in now is birthed from sin, self-centeredness, and brokenness.  Not even close to what God planned!

I still struggle to totally understand and accept this deep and supernatural truth; it is a battle because of my earthly longing for my husband, my inability to ever understand suicide, and of course, my desire to keep my children from the pain and hurt of losing their daddy.  But, I now find great peace in knowing God’s purpose for Scott was fulfilled and he GETS heaven.

My purposes are not fulfilled yet, praise God, so I’m still here.  As I’ve allowed God into that dark spot in my heart, I have a deeper longing to serve Him and fulfill my purposes too.  So someday I can see Scott and GET heaven, my eternal reward, too.

Father God, I thank you for revealing more and deeper truth to me on this journey.  I thank You that through Scott’s horrific death You taught me I can trust You, and I can lean on the fact that Scott’s purposes here were complete and You allowed his death, and he is in heaven with You now.  Lord I lift up any sister right now who stills struggles with these deep issues. I ask that You reveal what she needs to hear and that her heart would be open to receiving Your truth and love for her.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.

 

295163_1927953164696_1418199297_31839733_2097799_nErika Graham is Director of Operations, 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 her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/erikag

 

A Reader Writes…

Recently we had a lovely reader write us after reading one of our articles. She had such a transparent heart, we asked if we could share an excerpt from her letter and some of our response. You may find yourself in some of the thoughts she is sharing. We post this here as a reminder, you are not alone in your feelings! Do you have a question you would like to ask? Email us at admin@anewseason.net

***

Reading today’s message was  a step in healing! I know I have to let go. My hurt, disappointment, and anger at people and family who have let me down… It hurts so deeply, on top of your widowhood, to be excluded because they are uncomfortable! … But I need to have family and friends. I have already had my biggest loss imaginable! I am growing weary and more lonely. Widowhood is trying enough. Scripture speaks of God being my husband now but He doesn’t physically eat with me, sleep beside me, hold me in His arms, go out with me, give me physical hugs, talk to me verbally, fix broken stuff, take the car to the garage, take out the garbage! …  So when there is no one to love me, how does God help me? I just have to believe it. But it is so abstract! … I need to feel God in a solid, real way! It feels superficial. I thought God would show up concrete, in my friends to comfort me in the darkest night of my soul. I need God in a realistic way. I do lots of volunteering, and reach out to others hurting, go to a small group, counselling, and support group . But I feel like I’m chasing the wind.

***

Thank you so much for writing out your thoughts in such a way, and sharing them with us.  Many of us have had similar thoughts go through our heads — we need a “husband” who takes out the trash and protects us in storms. I can relate to that! Unfortunately, it seems to be “normal” in many widows’ lives.

I personally struggle with wanting God to respond the way I want Him to respond in my timing.  I find it helpful to read the Psalms.  The authors let God know how frustrated they are.  How unjust the world is. How wicked people succeed. But it seems the Psalmists always come back to what is true about God. That is where I have to land every time.  I have to cling to truth, not feeling.  I love my feelings and want to grasp them with all my might… That right there is my hardest struggle.  My feelings get hurt, my feelings are not validated by others, my feelings say that I must not be loved.  But God loves me so much He allowed His only Son to suffer, bleed, and die a horrible death FOR ME. For you.  That is the truth.
If He does nothing else for me, that is more than I deserve right there.
Grace.
Eternal life…
I love it when I find little nuggets in Scripture.  The story of Anna in Luke 2 amazes me.  She was an old widow and had only been married for seven years. Now at eighty-four, she was known for her devotion to prayer and worship.  That right there is what I want to be known for…
If she got married as a teen, like it may have been back then, then she lived maybe sixty years completely focused on worship and prayer.  I have a long way to go in order to be known for that, for sure.  She wasn’t known for anything else.  That puts my life in perspective.  All this other stuff is like icing on the cake.  The most important stuff is right there.
So how do we live this journey with grace? I think we do it like Anna.  It sounds so simple but I know it isn’t. We expect so much out of Christians, don’t we? We honestly believe they will want to support us but they fail us. We honestly want to believe God will take care of us, but bad things keep coming our way. So all I can do is keep trusting God when everything around makes no sense.
Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. Have you seen our devotionals for sale on our website?  It is one way we find to put our thoughts on Scripture as we go through our days.
***
If you want to read more on the widow Anna from Luke 2, click here.
More on friendships? Kit has written some great articles here and here and here.

Story Keepers

Now some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they counted them when they brought them in and when they took them out. – I Chronicles 9:28 NASB

My dad is a great story teller. Even to this day, he tells what we call “Pig Stories” about the summers he spent on his grandfather’s tobacco farm as a kid. We need to get him to write them down and make a book! There was lots of work to be done, but he and his cousins had a lot of fun in the process. My sister and I always laughed at the crazy stories, but we also learned lessons about life and the times…and people we never met, like my great grandmother, long passed by the time I was born. I treasure those stories today.

As a widow, I am the keeper of a story—my story, the story of my life and of the man I lost. It is my job to keep that story true to him who was here with me and Him who is King of my life.

In sharing that story, my husband lives on in an additional way here on earth. More importantly, I have an opportunity to talk of the glory of our Lord.

I have a dear friend who lost her husband a couple weeks ago. She and I saw each other last week for the first time. Understandably, she had a lot of questions. Here is a new opportunity for me to tell pieces of my story, pieces that perhaps would not have meant as much to her until she was walking this same path.

This friend never knew Keith, never knew the great guy he was, except for what she has heard in stories. Yet, he lives to her because she sees my boys, sees our life. And that has given her courage to move forward in her own journey.

Our story is nothing out of the ordinary. We are a pretty average family…four kids and a somewhat crazy mom trying to hold it all together. Yet…because of the bigness of our God, we often have the opportunity inspire those around us…just by walking closely with Him, by telling His part in the story.

About a year after Keith died, our local newspaper did a story on our family and how we were dealing with our grief. As the story keeper, I eagerly shared, weaving in threads of who Keith was and Who God is. A widow in our area read that story and contacted me through the newspaper. Our stories were very similar. We have been friends for six years now, sharing our boys’ triumphs and lows (she has three boys; I have four), stories about our sweet husbands, and holding each other up in prayer.

Sisters, we are all just cogs in the very big wheel of life.  We do our small job in our small area of the kingdom, just as those who counted utensils did in the verse above.  But that doesn’t mean our story is not important. Our willingness to share even small pieces of the life we are living may bless someone’s day, give them the reality check they desperately need, let them know they are not alone in what they are feeling, or be the final piece of the puzzle that leads to their salvation. I pray that we can all step out boldly as the story keepers of our lives, to the glory of Him who gave us that life.

Father, sometimes I feel small and insignificant, like this path I have been on has been for naught. Help me to see Your purpose in my story, and help me to be a bold story keeper for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Hope We Have

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in YOU.”

Psalm 39:7 NLV

Do you ever wonder why we all sound so hopeful?  How we have such faith?  Why we can write such meaningful things?

Well sisters, it’s not us at all, but it’s Christ in us.  It comes out of our obedience to His leading and humbling ourselves before Him, trusting His plan for us.

Let us share….

Easter is around the corner.  The day all Christians no matter their denomination stand united saying “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.”

What does that mean?

God sent His Son Jesus to earth.  He was fully God and fully man.  He walked this earth and was tempted. He saw suffering. He saw hurt. He saw pain. He rejoiced and celebrated. He had friends. He had loved ones. He experienced and witnessed every human emotion and trial.

Except He was without sin!

Then He made the ultimate sacrifice… He humbly took on death and the consequences of sin at the cross.

He did this willingly!

Through His death, burial, and resurrection He paid the price once and for all for each of us.

The Bible is clear, if we believe with our whole heart and confess it with our mouths, we are immediately forgiven and we are saved, our name is then sealed in the book of life.  (Romans 10:9)

Jesus told them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can comes to the Father except through ME.” John 14:6 NLV

As Christian widows we speak of hope and faith because we know that Christ died on that cross for us.  We’ve professed our faith in His sacrifice.  We’ve invited Him into our hearts and lives.  We’ve vowed to not live perfect happy lives on our own strength, but to live imperfectly messy lives in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about religion sisters, but it is about a personal relationship with Jesus.

We know the hope we have comes from God.  We grieve not in a hopeless manner unsure of where our husbands are, or where we will end up.  We are not vessels floating around in a sea just haphazardly swaying here and there.  We have Christ at the helm of our lives, and we know for certain because of our faith, we will stand in glory someday before God, and we will be reunited with our beloved husbands.

That’s called hopeful grief! 

We’d like to ask you…

Do you have this same hope?

Can you stand with us arm in arm professing the same faith?

Do you have Christ in your heart?

If not, or you’re unsure, then this is what you can do.

Pray sisters. Invite God in.  Profess your faith in Christ’s sacrifice at the cross.  Accept the free gift of salvation.

If you’re not sure how to do that then pray this prayer:

Father God, I believe that you sent Jesus to this earth, and that He was the true son of God.  I believe that Jesus did die on the cross for my sins, but then rose again victoriously.  I ask that you come into my heart and mind and that you reveal all your truths to me.  Lord I commit my life to you, and I choose to live a life that will please you.  Lord I ask for your forgiveness for my sins.  I pray that as I move forward now that my eyes will be opened to all you want to teach me.  In your precious matchless name, Amen

Sisters, if you just asked Christ into your heart the Bible says there is rejoicing in Heaven (Luke 15:7).  How amazing!

Please let us know you have made this decision and have chosen to walk in faith.  Email us or comment here.  We would love to talk with you and pray for you.

Now, proclaim loudly with us, He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!!

 

 

 

 

God Is Good – Even When It Seems Bad: Part Four

 Part 4

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. “

Romans 8:28

 Teri Cox: There are moments in this world that drives us to our knees; that take us to the edge of the abyss and threaten to hurl us over. This world is NOT what God intended for us. He created a beautiful, peaceful Garden of Eden for us, not this. This world is broken, and fallen, and filled with sin and sorrow. It will shatter us into a million pieces and throw us away; counting us useless or finished. However, as His children, we can be made new, because He is our potter. But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand . (Isaiah 64:8 NASB)  We may not look like we did before, or function with the same purpose we had before. Yet still, cracked, leaking, mended, or entirely refashioned, we can be useful and we are loved.

How do I know, “God is Good-Even When It Seems Bad”? Because, I know God is just and sees the tapestry of eternity. When I look at broken circumstances I too become broken. When I look at Him, I become new and He draws faith out of me. “Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief!” Mark 9:24  

 

 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living.” 

Psalm 27:13

Erika Graham: As life has unfolded over the last few years, I’ve pondered this verse often.  It sits with me and it stirs my mind and heart almost daily.  It’s hard to understand or fathom at times, how this life and the horrific stuff that I see and experience could possibly be good or become good. How could God’s goodness ever be in some of these terrible circumstances? The suffering, the brokenness, the unfairness, the injustice, and just the messy world around me make it seem bleak at times.

Yet, these are the things I do know: God is Sovereign and is always in control, ever working in our circumstances, walking alongside us, and allowing the good and the bad in life. As I pray and contemplate His goodness, I realize that God’s goodness is not found in my good or bad circumstances.  Focusing on my circumstances would cause me to never see His goodness, unless things were perfect every day and even then, my flesh would be unsatisfied.  Instead, I have learned His goodness is in His love and care for me, His constant presence and provision over me, and His healing power running through me.  And mostly, His goodness is in Jesus Christ.

I am loved, cared for, and forgiven through Christ. I can experience that goodness every day, even if that day is the most gut wrenching, difficult day I’ve ever experienced.

 

Kit Hinkle:  Never do I try to explain why bad things happen to good people. God is God and we cannot argue with His power, His authority, and His goodness. Painful circumstances can break our resolve to have faith in God, break our spirit of hope, and break our courage to continue on. But it’s in painful circumstances that we can grow to depend on Him to hold us together.

He forms us into His image of perseverance. United with His strength, we become unbroken. In our flesh, we are weak. But in His immensity, God is strong. He bolsters us up when, in our frail faith, we lean on Him. It’s that resolved spirit that shines through you when He brings you to your next steps with vigor and life. Just hold fast to the exhortation in Isaiah 41:10, “… fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah tells us not to recoil in fear when life gets at you.

Let us trust and stand firm!