She Has Done What She Could

She has done what she could … And I tell you this in solemn truth, that wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and praised.”

Mark 14:8-9 TLB

This scripture verse was one that I read from my oceanfront villa patio while recently on vacation.  As I sat there in my luxurious surroundings, I thought about how the woman talked about in this verse made Jesus a priority over everything.  She used precious ointment, or oil, that was worth a lot of money and she used her own hair to wipe the extra off Jesus’ feet.  That is someone who was all in and someone who knew who Jesus was, made Him a priority and showed with her actions that He was important to her, despite her actions being questioned.  Jesus remarked that her actions would be spoken of as a memorial to her.  Here it is thousands of years later and I am thinking about her.

What kind of memorial am I to Him and to the world?  What mark am I making?  Do people see Jesus in me?  Do my actions show that Jesus is a priority to me?  That He is in my life?

Every day, I wake up trying and I believe Jesus knows that about me. I start my day taking in His Word and meditating about what He wants me to get from His Word.  I work on showing people love, grace and mercy throughout the day.  I try to not react harshly when people wrong me or mess up and my life is affected by the mess.  I  honor the trust and love in my relationships and show love when things don’t go my way or I’m hurt.  I try to pray for those that wrong me and show love to them.  I walk away from relationships that don’t glorify God in a loving way and not leave burning trails in my wake.

If you read this whole section of scripture (Mark 14:3-9), Jesus knew where this woman’s heart was and he commended her and told those who questioned her actions that she would be remembered and praised.  I want to be remembered like that.  I want Jesus to say, “Sherry has done what she could.  Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, Sherry’s deeds will be remembered and praised.”

I am comforted by those verses – she did what she could…and will be remembered and praised.  My Savior knows my heart and, even when I mess up, He still knows my heart.  I just have to take the next right step and follow my Savior’s lead.  No matter the criticism and questions.  Do what I can do and let the Savior take care of the rest.   Put the Savior first in everything and when I make a mess, put my whole self into it to make it right and glorify God in the process.

It might take getting your hair oily, but in the end, to hear your Savior say, “you did all you could do – may you be remembered and praised.”  That will be amazing!

Dear Lord,  Thank you for showing in Your Word what we should hold important and what You would like from us.  And that all that we do in Your name will be remembered and praised in Your Name.  Amen


 

sherrySherry 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 a college freshman.  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 Doing What She Could by Elizabeth Dyer.

Mirror, Mirror

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being formed into the same image from the glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  

2 Corinthians 3:18  NKJV  

 

I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror the other day.

Not a “hair is fixed, make up is on, ready to go to work” kind of glimpse.  Rather, a deep look at the reflection of the person staring back out at me kind of look.

Perhaps, you know what I am talking about.  A deep look into the eyes of one who has seen too much, hurt too deep, cried too many tears, feeling lonely and at times, utterly defeated.  A look into a reflection of someone at times I no longer even recognize.

I often wonder if my husband would recognize the person I have become.  My life with him by my side reflected a strong independent will; but, perfectly content to rest in his strength and the assurance of his presence.  It was he who took the lead in our home.  He tackled the big problems.  He had the male chores covered and I gladly let him.

That has all changed now.

No longer do I have him to “man-handle” those male chores.  No longer do I have him as back up to life’s complications.  No longer do I have his support in parenting and finances.  No longer can I feel his loving arms wrap me in a hug and hear his voice tell me that everything will be okay.

What’s a girl suppose to do with all that?

Is there enough make-up in the world to cover the hurt, worry, fear and loneliness that clouds this reflection I see in the mirror?

Make-up?  Perhaps not.  But, a transformation covered in Grace?  Most definitely!

The choice is mine.  I can live under a veil of discouragement and defeat.  Or, I can lift the veil of brokenness and be transformed.

    “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.      

Romans 12:2  NKJV

“Do not be conformed to this world”.  What, you might ask, does that look like? Conforming is attaining an outward expression that does not reflect what is truly inside, a kind of masquerade or act.  Sound familiar?  In the months after my husband’s move to Heaven, I was the queen of putting on my “game face”.  I wanted everyone to see me as strong and confident in Christ, but, inside I was a mess.  I wrestled with my beliefs and my values because I allowed this deep grief to question everything I knew about Christ.

Renewing of your mind.  This is the kind of transformation that can come only through the Holy Spirit.  The changes arrive from consistent studying and meditation of His words through Scripture. Praying deeply and often.  Allowing Him to give way to a renewed mind that is saturated and controlled by the Word of God.

Healing can and will arrive IF I permit God to mend the pieces of my broken and shredded heart.  You see, even if my husband would not recognize me, or even as I, myself, struggle with the reflection in the mirror, I know God still recognizes me. He knew I would be on this journey.  I must give Him total submission to take this girl I now see in the mirror and change her image as my heart desires to be more Christ-like.  After all, the crowning goal of a believer is to become more Christ-like.

I pray as each of us now looks in a mirror, we can hold to this scripture and be transformed, manifested by our inner redeemed nature.

Heavenly Father,  As I struggled with the image reflected in a mirror causing many questions to surface, I am so grateful for you revealing this scripture to me.  Help us all, Lord, to cling to your Words and grow to be more Christ-like as we move forward.  May the change we see become the change we not only see, but the change we feel and live out loud so others see you in us.  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 transformation with Lori and Jill.                                                             

Re-Root Your Legacy After the Earthquakes

As widows, it sometimes feels as if the earth beneath our feet has been shaken causing deep, unrepairable cracks of devastation. I remember many such days with earthquakes nearly shaking the foundation of my faith loose until I felt His mighty hands scoop me up from my wreckage as He walked me back to safety. Then there were those days when the hurt created more subtle quaking, like quiet vibrations in my heart, just enough to keep me keenly aware of Jesus’ presence in my life and a new purpose being born.

I know the vast spectrum of hurt and heart-quaking, pain and earth-shaking grief we experience as sisters on this road of recovery. And now as a re-married widow, my world still sometimes quivers with confusion at how to heal past hurts.  Mostly my days have taken on a new normal and my mind remains steady in this surprising, at times overwhelmingly transformed life of mine. But occasionally when the challenges of transition from widow to wife, from only-parent of two to co-parenting five, I shake with reservation as I reconcile still loving who my lost husband was to me and so completely feeling this new unconditional love for the man I now live with and my soul dearly loves.

Each time I feel the shaking of earth underneath me, my footing comes loose and I’ve wondered if I’ll ever really plant my roots in solid ground again! I adore right where God’s put me today as a wife of a wonderful, Christ-following man. But fear of losing love again or any kind of life-shaking change causes those heart quivering earth quakes.

I mean, my story keeps changing and what’s behind me looks blurry like a mixed up, discombobulated legacy! And when life seems like a roller coaster, how can I live out the legacy I want to leave?

Yeah, the notion of leaving a legacy left its mark on my heart when I lost my first love.

Legacies means much more after we’ve watched our loved one leave one. You know, ladies, not everyone has the privilege of knowing how meaningful legacies really are! It’s one of those blessings of wisdom through widowhood….

But while we’re left with the wisdom, all the shaking and earth-quaking leave us at a loss with how to find a new purpose in our lives. Living our own legacies seem, well, disjointed and discontinued. Here we stand, each of us in different places on this widowhood path, feeling uprooted, confused and careening with an uncertain future.

Don’t we sometimes wonder who we’ll be after our lives take such sharp turns and our identity has been shaken? I know I have!

But we must remember what’s really rooting us. It’s not our husband’s past. It’s not our earthly homes. It’s not our children or our careers. And for those of us who have started on some new chapter, it’s not even a new man or life mission. The only thing rooting us in unbreakable, unshakable fertile ground is GOD! What a relief! God NEVER changes.

We can exhale, even during earthquakes. In all the life-shaking challenges and in every twist and turn, I’ll gladly take His strong hand, bury my feet into my faith and find solid ground in His unchanging grace! Won’t you?

Life uproots us.

But God uplifts us.

Life on earth changes us. 

But God always sustains us. 

So, sisters, we know exactly where to plant our life’s legacy alongside all the quaking change. We know just who we are in Jesus. Because no matter where we are on the path of hurt and healing, living a life shining His light will always create a certain and strong legacy worth leaving.

I got to thinking more about my roots and what’s behind me defining me during a quiet time chopping up some roots for a new recipe…that’s right, deep roots covered in earth’s dirt cleaned and used to create something nourishing and new (it’s true…food often inspires me!)

Maybe you’d like to see what happened next during my quiet time and how my kitchen always gets me thinking….here’s the post on Happily Whole all about re-rooting our lives into fertile ground PLUS the root soup recipe I came up with.

Here’s the link:  Simple Roasted Root Soup…and Nourishing Their Roots Through You. 

Let’s all remember, with the power of Christ, we can walk with Him and redirect our roots away from the results of painful pasts, sin or struggle and live a new legacy in Him!

Happily Ever After

And they lived happily ever after…

Ah,  the infamous words to those fairy tale endings.  Prince finds his princess, they marry and ride off in the sunset to live out their lives in bliss.  I imagine we all felt this blissfulness on our wedding days.  Riding off to start our new lives, knowing that no matter what bumps the path would bring along the way, we would tackle them together.  Somehow, we knew we could conquer anything. Knowing that the perfect plan of retiring and growing old together, was the beautiful image that kept us riding merrily along.

BUT, what happens if it doesn’t have a “happily ever after” ending?  What if it doesn’t end the way YOU wanted?

Then what?

I am sure you agree that we all know that feeling too well.  The dreams of growing old together have slipped through our fingers and the reality of a “new beginning” demands our attention.  It’s a new beginning none of us wished for, nor knew what to do with when it arrived.  It makes all those dreams and plans dissipate as quickly as vapor, leaving us numb and scared.  Certainly not fairy tale images!

Now, five years out, I can look back on my twenty-six years of marriage and smile at the fulfilling relationship it was.  I can truly say, “I lived a fairy tale marriage with my prince!”  Oh, he wasn’t perfect (after all, who is, but our Savior?) but, he was perfect for me.  I was loved well and treated with warmth, compassion and respect. He was my sounding board, my friend, my helper, my lover and my dream.  I was blessed.  He was a provider to our family and a great father to our daughters.  Fairy tale?  Yes.

But…

It did not end the way I had hoped.  I pictured him walking our daughter’s down the aisle on their wedding day, holding our grandbabies and our old bodies sitting together on a church pew.  God had another plan, and at fifty years of age, that “new beginning” was forced upon me.

The pain of that first year was indescribable.  I was thankful the for the numbness that engulfed my body, so as to dull that pain.  The arrival of the second year brought reality and a wave of deeper pain, as if that were even possible.

Time moved on, riding along.

And with the time, so did I.

What I’ve learned is important – you must allow God to move with you.  It is important to know that although this was not your plan, it is His plan.  I must remember that as much as I loved my husband, God loves him more.  As much as my husband loved me, God loves me more.  In the midst of this deep grief, He still has a plan for me.

He has plan for you as well!  I do not know where you are in your journey, I hope you will one day be able to see His will for your life.  I hope that you can reflect on your fairy tale memories and still look forward to a happily ever after.  I know He has great things in store for each of us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper

  you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I can say it has not been easy in this new beginning.  I have made many mistakes. Thankful that God has walked it with me and has redeemed me from those mistakes.  He has provided and opened doors for myself and my girls.  I can not imagine walking this without Him.  Period.  I pray each of you will feel His presence even in the darkest of days.  And when things get rough, you will know He is with you and He will provide answers for you.  He still has a “happily ever after” ending planned!

Father, I lift each of these sisters up to you as we seek your plan in this new phase in our lives.  I pray each of these precious women know how much you love them and your plan for them is still for good.  And we can find there is a happy ending still in store for our lives. 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

For articles similar to this one: Moving Forward, What Does He Want, and Full Victory

If I’m Being Honest….

I’m not sure how to say this. Maybe it’s a little risky or maybe you won’t agree. Perhaps you’ll want to place me in a different category since I recently remarried. Will you think I’m not a widow like you? Will you disregard my messages because you feel I’m not walking alongside you in loss?

Or maybe those are just my own fears, my own assumptions still causing me to ache with your pain, a pain I still feel but from a different perspective. It’s a pain I place in a special place in my heart so I can live freely inside a new love.

You see, I never really wanted to remarry. I was content, comfortable…to the point of a bit complacent…in my widowhood walk. I’d even found a certain kind of quiet happiness living alone with my two little girls as I cradled my life in comfortable grief.

Yeah, I carried my grief with care and treasured its comfort in a life I’d become a bit too comfortable in. I treasured the tears. Because if I ever relinquished my reality, would I lose sight of the love of my life? Would I forget to linger in my beautiful memory’s of love and loss?

God did this. He changed my life. He took my heart and held it in His hand until I was willing to walk away from my comfortable little complacent life. And here’s the thing: It didn’t make me happy. He didn’t show me how a new man with an entirely new life plan would transform my quiet kind of happiness into the crazy, giddy honeymoon kind of happiness.

Instead, He showed me how changing my life YET AGAIN is all about Him, not happiness. Sure, eventually the call into a new relationship rattled me from heart to bones! It was nerve-rackingly exciting at times. I fell in love with my new man with all my heart! He’s a man I can easily honor, love and respect. He tenderly cares for my girls and I in a way I could have never imagined. I am blessed beyond measure to hold his love in my heart. Today, sisters, he is the one my soul loves. (Saying it out loud awkwardly surprises me…it’s a strange kind of tender truth.)

So, it’s good…but it’s not all about happiness. I walked away from ‘content’ because it’s so much more about building Christ’s kingdom! The crazy happy only came after I realized my uncomfortable call to another kind of kingdom work.

So, no. I would have never married again unless I knew the call was closer to Him. I never would have followed my human heart to a home with a new man unless God gave me the plan. 

And, yes. I do feel crazy happy on this other side of calm and content. But, believe me, it’s not always bliss! I mean, who wants to marry a widow who’s self-proclaimed a bit messy and over-thinks everything?

But you know what? I’m no further away from the past love of my life. I linger there, I treasure the lessons and even I long for aspects of him. So, it’s complicated. But it’s all about His kingdom!

My sisters, I’m still one of you. I remain on the walk of widowhood, but in a remarried sort of way. My hearts and prayers are with you and that’s why I’m still here!

Here’s more of ‘If I’m Being Honest‘ on my blog, Happily Whole. Click Here: If I’m Being Honest. 

 

 

Fragile

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.  Psalm 16:1  ( ESV)

Becoming a widow left me feeling as vulnerable and fragile as an egg alone on the counter.

During the last year of my husband’s life, I had been so strong – working, caring for him, assuming all of the responsibilities – never giving a thought to giving up or giving in. There was lots to be done and, with God’s sustaining grace, I did it all.

Then my beloved went home with Jesus, and my world changed. My comfortable “carton” of the life we built together was gone. And there I was, all alone on that counter, being stalked by loneliness, despair, anger, bitterness, and fear of the future.  The world of widowhood was a hard, lonely place, and I needed a refuge – a safe “carton”.

During the darkness of those days I did two things – I started reading the Psalms and writing to God – sometimes for hours at a time. I filled page after page with my feelings and my pleas – much like David did when he wrote those beautiful verses.

It was during one of those sessions I wrote this prayer:

You are my God. Defend me Lord;

  •  As I go into this life alone
  •  As I struggle with the loneliness that batters me from all sides
  •  As I fight the anger that wells up within me
  •  As I resist bitterness and despair
  •  As I envision a future of empty, lonely days

And He did –  He still does. He has fashioned a new “carton” for me. I rest in it alone and I am still fragile, but I know I am safe as I hold fast to the promise of Psalm 16:8 “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.” (NLT) The nights are not as long, loneliness is eased with His presence. Anger, bitterness and despair no longer have a place in my life.

He is showing me the path for my life, and each day I awake determined to trust Him and hold fast to His promises.

Four years have passed since I wrote that prayer. They have not been easy years. There are still days that are difficult.  It has been a struggle to let go of the negative, but what an adventure, as I have learned to rely totally on my Loving Father to be that “carton” for me – my safe place of refuge.

Father, the grief that comes with the loss of our spouses has left us tattered, worn and fragile. We need You as our safe place. Reach down and scoop us up, Abba, and give us Your peace.

 

closeup linda

Linda has held many titles throughout life– daughter, sister, wife, mother and now widow. That title was received in May, 2011. She felt prepared for her beloved to pass, for it was not sudden. However, she was not at all prepared for life after he passed. They were married for twenty-four years, and he was her constant companion. Embarking into a life without him was strange and painful. However, she takes comfort in knowing he is in a place of infinite joy, free of pain and that wheelchair, to which he had been confined for seven months. In the months that followed, she discovered writing and journaling.

Want to read more about healing? New Paint by Bonnie

Want to read another article from Linda? One Widow’s Psalm

 

Piece by Piece

 

…….and a time to rebuild. Ecclesiastes 3:3 (TLB)

Thoughts were whirring around in my mind like the contents of a blender on high speed: how to get the monster hedge trimmed; when was that particular bill due; what was that strange noise the car made, etc., etc. And in the midst of it all -what would I find to say this month to you dear sisters when my mind was so muddled with so very much.

I needed to just be still before the Lord and listen for Him to speak. One of my favorite techniques to “settle” my mind is working on a jigsaw puzzle online.  There is something very calming in sorting the pieces, putting the frame together, and hearing the “click” of pieces going into place. Sometimes I challenge myself by not looking at the reference picture; and then there are times when I must refer to that picture frequently. Occasionally I do a puzzle with no picture – only a title. Those are the really hard ones!

As I worked through the process this time, I began to think about the new puzzle I was given four years ago with only a title “Linda without Ken”. I had been perfectly content with the “Ken and Linda” project, but everything changed when the last piece of that picture was put in place as my beloved was called to Heaven.

Now I had a whole new set of “pieces” to put together alone. For a while I ignored it because I really didn’t know what to do with it. I had no real picture of “Linda the widow” in my frame of reference. So many things were the same: the house, the car, my clothes, my friends – yet absolutely everything was different.

Yet, God is faithful, and eventually I found myself sorting and  putting together the frame – finding some familiar pieces that gave me comfort – the corner house that he picked for us, the shelves and tables he made, the roses and flowers he planted. These pieces have fit very nicely into this new puzzle and give it strength.

I also found pieces that were alien – loneliness, sorrow,  and yes, some pieces named “anger” and “why”. But these pieces are part of the whole and must be incorporated into this “Linda without Ken” picture. These are the pieces that are the hardest to fit into place.

Four years later I am still working on the puzzle – some days I just get tired of it all and put it aside – but those days don’t come as often now as they once did. I am also discovering some wonderful new pieces – a deeper relationship with God than I ever could have imagined – a quiet peace in knowing that “God’s got this” – the depth and beauty of each of God’s promises to us in His Word – especially this one: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 – the words Moses spoke to Joshua preparing him to move forward into the land that was promised.

Moses was able to speak this to Joshua because in his own life Moses had seen the faithfulness of God to be real. And now I speak it to you, dear sisters, because I too know the faithfulness of God to be real.

Father, Thank you for going before us each day as we move forward putting together these pieces of our lives now.

 

The Importance of Our Identity

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

                                                                                                      Colossians 2:6-7 ESV

Pain, beyond anything I could ever imagine, has robbed me of so much, but one thing it cannot rob me of is my identity. Or will it?

Often as widows, we are thrust into a myriad of emotions related to our identity. Even the word “widow” evokes strong emotions. I bet most of us can tell you exactly the first time we were called a widow or the first time we had to check the dreaded box on a form. No one wants to be a member of this club. We can spend years struggling with trying to redefine who we are now that we are no longer someone’s wife. Sometimes we are even tempted to look for another spouse – just so we can continue being someone’s wife.

Before our husbands died, we felt like we knew where our lives were headed; now everything is different and unfamiliar. Often, we begin to falter, to hesitate in our purpose and in our actions. Our family and friends would like to help, but many times they don’t know what to say or do.

This week I was studying the book of Colossians. I started to notice the consistency of Paul’s approach throughout Scripture in encouraging other believers to stay the course during difficult times. He always started with reminding them who they are in Christ. He did not define them by their faults, their circumstances, or their marital status. He identified them as being in Christ. Period.

As believers, our identity in Him tells the greatest story of all. We are God’s children. Christ lives in us and we live in Him. Our life is no longer our own. It was bought for a price. We have everything we need to live according to God’s will. We have His power and His strength. We are holy. We live in His presence for all eternity. What a truly amazing gift! There is no greater gift and we must not lose sight of who we are in Him.

I miss my husband terribly. There are still days when I think – all I want to be is his wife again. I forget my identity rests in Christ and in Christ alone. I need to be reminded just as Paul reminded our brothers and sisters who were faltering. Ask your family and friends to follow in Paul’s footsteps and encourage you by reminding you that your identity is in Christ and Christ alone. Ask them to not look at you as a “widow” or someone who is “broken” but to look at you as someone in whom the King of all Kings lives. Ask them to share with you how they see God working in you and through you so that you may be built up in your faith. Ask them, not just because it will help you. Ask them, because it will strengthen the body of Christ – because you are a precious part of His body – it is who you are and will always be!

 

Want to read more about your identity? Would He Recognize Me? by Jill

Or Who He Says I am by Lori

Determined to Bloom

God saw all that He had made – and it was very good. Genesis 1:31 (NIV)

I wonder, when God looked upon all He had created, if He had the thought, “I’m glad I decided to make most of the weeds green. That way they will blend into Linda’s lawn and not stand out”.

Ah, yes, my lawn – a vast expanse of green – some grass of different varieties and a lot of dandelions. Each spring they show up with big green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Sometimes I wonder if they are in competition to see which one can grow the tallest stem! Nothing deters them – not the chilly spring nights, or the cloudy days. They grow unfazed by the fear of the rabbit family and mysteriously re-appear after the mower blade tries to eradicate them. They are determined to live out their appointed season and bloom for all they are worth. And, when their time is almost done, they proudly present their white “puffs” to fly away on the spring breezes – each one holding a promise of another bright yellow “weed”.

I’ve never really regarded them as weeds, although most people do. They bring memories to me of the  “flower” bouquets each of my daughters gave me and the joy on their faces in doing so; times spent sitting quietly watching the rabbits having a snack; and the delightful laughter of my children blowing those white puffs into the wind.

And now, in this season of my life as a widow, they represent something else – resilience and determination to bloom. In spite of many negative circumstances they show up and bloom for all they are worth. They don’t care about not being a rose or a lilac, or an iris or daffodil. They are content with being all they are; and they don’t let their station in the garden keep them from fulfilling their intended purpose.

They remind me that I have to “show up” every day as well. God is not asking me to be the grandest flower in the garden – He is just asking me to “show up”.  Some days I don’t present very well. Indeed in the first couple of years there were very few days that I bloomed at all!

With the absence of my beloved, it is difficult to bloom. After all, my husband was the “one” who appreciated me – the one who constantly reminded me of my purpose and my reason for getting up each day. Now, I sometimes flounder and wonder what my purpose is. I don’t have all the answers yet – perhaps I never will.

So, for now, I will settle for simply “showing up” each day – ready to serve where He leads. I will not let the chilly nights of loneliness or the cutting blades of despair cause me to veer from the path before me.

As I grow in the “garden of widowhood” I will be content in knowing I am tended by the Master Gardener, Who looks upon me each day with delight and says “She is mine and I delight in her”.

Father God, I thank You for Your loving care of this widow and all You have done and will continue to do to sustain me in this season of my life. I will show up every day and leave the rest to You.

Chasing God’s Whisper

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a low whisper.”

1 Kings 19:12 (ESV)
(Written earlier in my journey as a widow.)
One Sunday morning I found myself taking out my pity-party mode on a dirty pan full of bacon grease. As I scrubbed and scrubbed, I heard my four boys rave about my scrambled eggs.  “You’re the greatest, Mom.”
The greatest.  How far I felt from great at that moment. Not like years earlier when it was my husband who made the Sunday breakfasts.  No more help there. In fact, no more of anything from Tom–including his romantic embraces and reassurances that I’m doing just fine.
There are moments when I just want another adult around! Brushing that thought aside, I turned back to dishes.
Then it hit me. It was Sunday. I needed to get out of my house and go to His.
So, with dishes in the sink, I dragged myself to church. Perhaps talking to friends will lift me out of these blues.
In the doorway of the sanctuary, an angelic blonde woman stopped me, “Didn’t you speak at the church last week?”
I had–a  testimony about God’s comfort in my loss.

Her three practically perfect looking blonde children darted around her legs.  “I’m in a tough place,” she said, “and I needed to hear…..”

Just then, one of my friends walked up, “KIT! WHAT’VE YOU BEEN DOING! WE MISSED YOU!”  I’m writing in capital letters because, unlike the little blonde woman, this friend is bold in a fun way.  I soaked in her loud attention, imagining God, Himself, shouting, I LOVE YOU.  It felt like a salve, covering the lonely hole exposed by a weekend of alone.

The blonde disappeared into the building. Guilt nagged at me.  God wasn’t calling me to be at church for the loud woman’s brazen praises. My loneliness followed me into the sanctuary where I sat with no husband, and into the children’s center after service where I gathered my kids while the church cleared.

I was reminded of Elijah in 1 King who ran to the mountain cave to be alone so he could hear the Lord.  And an earthquake came.  But that wasn’t the Lord.  My precious loud friend blew through me like an earthquake, but the Lord wasn’t meaning for her boldness to be His healing comfort.

The blonde walked by.

Go see her.  I felt the whisper deep in my soul.

Just as I reached to tap the back of her shoulder, another friend, Mike, asked how I was doing. I responded, missing the woman again.   Mike isn’t loud like my first friend. His well-respected reputation shouts in its own way. Because my soul had been crying for attention, Mike stopping to speak to me felt like a God thing.

But as Mike wrapped up our conversation, I thought of  how empty I still felt  Again, I was reminded of Elijah. “After the earthquake came a fire”.  Mike’s integrity could grow a fire for the Lord in anyone’s heart. But God wasn’t sending Mike’s fiery spirit to me for the purpose of healing my anxieties. If Mike was God’s intention for my morning, God would linger in my soul at the end of Mike’s conversation. He would fill the hole there with living water, so it would stop hurting.

The blonde passed me again, this time heading for the exit.
Go to her. 
I tapped her on the shoulder. “Hi, I’m sorry I let myself get distracted from meeting you…”

She turned, a sweet smile on her face.  Her red swollen eyes told me she had hung around the church for a reason. It felt like God’s whisper.  Elijah felt the earthquake and saw the fire, but finally felt God’s presence in a gentle whisper. This blonde’s meekness felt like that whisper.

My heart sank to hear that her husband was leaving her.  With her future uncertain, she declared, “but God is certain!  Look how he brought us together to meet.”
And just as she shared how her nine-year-old Jared needed a friend, Jared and my nine-year-old brushed passed us in a game of tag. Instant friends.
God finally filled me… not by the approval of others, but by giving me a new friend.  I thought about how peacefully this lady accepted the table set before her and admitted she was needing friendship.  Appreciating this new friend drowned out my anxieties in a way that greetings from louder or more reputable acquaintances could not do.
The humble admittance from the new meek friend tugged at me like the whisper from the Lord.  I don’t need attention, I only need to remember who I am in His plan.
Thank you, Lord, for the whisper, sent through a pretty blonde with red swollen eyes.