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.

 

 

El Roi-the God Who Sees

I love when I find a hidden treasure in Scripture.

I was pondering the story of Hagar in Genesis 16 while reading about a particular name of God. This is the only time in Scripture this name is used. And it is used with:

~ a woman

~ a single mom

~ an outcast from society

~ isolated due to circumstances she had no control over.

Sounds all too familiar, right?

The God Who Sees. El Roi. 

What did He see?

He saw Hagar, this Egyptian servant, living with Abraham and Sarah.

Do you ever feel invisible in society? Widows lose their social standing often, due to the loss of their spouse. I was thinking the other day that I miss being “in the know”. My husband, due to his career, knew a lot of the people in town and what was going on downtown.

I barely know what is going on in my own home! I am no longer part of the “Mr. and Mrs.” group at Christmas parties. Heck, I rarely even go OUT after dark, except to pick up one of my kids from somewhere.

But God sees me.

God found Hagar as she was alone with her child in the wilderness.

She had given up.

She had been sent away from the family group because of Sarah’s anger toward her for having Abraham’s baby.

I’m guessing she knew a lot about Abraham and Sarah’s true God because of living with them and being Sarah’s close servant. God saw her.

And, interestingly enough, Hagar was promised some of the very same things as Abraham: a son and lots of offspring. She KNEW who saw her. She was confident that God was looking after her.

Can I have that same confidence today?

God sees ME.

God is looking after ME.

Join me in praising God for this part of His character–El Roi, the One Who sees ME!

Genesis 16:13 ESV 

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her,

“You are a God of seeing, for she said,

“Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Want to read about another name of God? El Shaddai by Sheryl

Life Is Not A Fairy Tale

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  John 16:33 KJV

Remember the point in the story of Cinderella when the stepsisters are trying to get their feet into the glass slipper, but the slipper is too small.  The sisters are desperate to make the slipper fit so they can get a happy ending and their lives will become carefree and peaceful; they think.

I have been experiencing a lot of messiness the past few months.  I’ve written about it, and shared how God wants us to fight the messiness of this life with His love.  As each messy situation presented itself, I have tried very hard to show love – His love.

Through one situation in my life, I have come to see (after much prayer and work) that I have been like the stepsister in Cinderella trying to get the slipper onto a foot that is too big, in an effort to have a happy ending.  I worked within the timeframe and wishes of my Father; however, this particular slipper was not a good fit for me and I had to give it back and free my hands of this “ill fitting” slipper, so they are empty enough to be filled with new blessings.

All of this happened at the most imperfect time, as most messes do… the holidays.   On top of that, I had a small health issue that required recuperation time.  So, these last two weeks have been the messiest I’ve had in a long while.

I’m pleased to say that this didn’t send me into a tailspin back to my early grief days.  I’m sad to say that I’ve become good at starting over.  So, as I sat in my family room, looking at my tree and the two gifts under it for me and then, seven days later, sat amidst a large group of happy people counting down to the new year, I was feeling really down…empty…depressed.

As I reflected on this emptiness and feelings of depression, I started praying.  It was a pitiful, woe as me, prayer at first.  Then, I started reflecting on what my Savior has to say to me in times like these.  This world is not my home.  I am a stranger in a strange land, just passing through.  Jesus tells me that I am going to have tribulation and that only in Him can I find peace.

So, I am doing what James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”  I am pushing out thoughts that don’t meet the definition of Philippians 4:8.  And I am, from the Savior’s lap, filling myself (the empty spot) with my Savior.

I may not have the fairy tale ending yet and my Savior has not promised me that my life in this world will be easy.  He has promised me so much more.  Peace.  Rest in Him.  Eternal Life.  Sustaining Love.  Renewed Strength in Him.

I don’t need a glass slipper that never fit right anyway.  I have a Savior.  I am made in His image with a hole in me that only He can fill.  I need to focus on filling myself with Him, the Master Designer.  And the blessings will come.  If my hands are empty and I’m looking to the Savior, I will see them and be able to accept them.

God is so good and His ending is better than any fairy tale.  In fact, it’s actually a beginning – the end is eternity in His presence and eternal peace.  I like that eternal ending better than any fairy tale ending.

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me, for picking me up when I fall, and for filling me.  Thank you for letting me crawl up onto your lap when I need to and for the promise of eternity with You.  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 18 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

Want to read more on this subject, click here to read an article by Erika Graham, I Said Yes

He’s Never Far Off

And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”

2 Samuel 9:3

Life changes in an instant and it’s no respecter of common folk or nobility. In mere seconds, life can make a 360- degree shift, through no fault of our own. It is during dream shattering moments we need to be looking up because our King is never far off. He will be searching for His children.

The second book of Samuel has a powerful account of a life ravaged by tragedy and restored by a King.

Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul, and the son of Jonathan, the beloved friend of David, the giant slayer. (After Mephibosheth’s father was killed, his life changed drastically when he was being rushed to safety, his servant dropped him. As a result, he walked with a limp for the rest of his days. )

His story isn’t exactly like mine, but it isn’t hard to empathize with the devastating details. In the blink of an eye, my whole world changed too. I often liken moving forward in this life as walking with a limp.

At the beginning, there was an abundance of people tending to my needs like Mephibosheth’s servants did for him and it helped tame the wiles of uncertainty. However, as time passed into weeks, months and years the hovering stopped and the uncertainty remained. Mephibosheth must have experienced similar bouts of uncertainty as well. He must have longed for family connections and the love of a father.

The journey of loss offers us moments we have to endure without the presence of individuals surrounding us. It’s one of the most difficult aspects of walking on this path, but it is necessary and it doesn’t go unnoticed by our King.

In the midst of this devastation we walk through, remember, our King is never far off. God may seem silent at times, but we’re never forgotten. God remembers the promises He’s made to the people who have gone on before us and He “administers justice and equality to all his people.” Our God invites us to sit at His table and share His bounty as daughters and sons.

David remembered his promise to Jonathan approximately eight years after he was crowned King of all Israel and he went seeking out Jonathan’s household. The King went seeking out Mephibosheth.

Read the sentence again. The King went seeking out Mephibosheth and

He found him!

He restored the land of Mephibosheth’s descendants to him and gave him the right to sit and eat at the King’s table. He humbly accepted this act of generosity from the King.  Although he was unsure about his own worthiness, he received the gift and from that day forward he enjoyed the benefits of being adopted into the King’s family.

Mephibosheth’s life displays so much truth about how our Heavenly Father provides and pursues us throughout our lives and more so in the midst of our loneliest times. Our King is never far off; He seeks us out until He finds us and offers us a place at His table. His provision for us is out of this world perfection and He loves to keep His promises to us.

Dear Heavenly Father, As we remember the great gift of Your son during this Christmas season, please remind us, You are never far off. You see the struggles all of us face as we have one less at our table and we pray Your peace would cover us.  Help us to remember this is not the end. Love wins. We win. In Your Mighty Name, amen.

 

jill325325Jill 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 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.

Other related articles: Full Victory and God in the Details

More articles by this author can be found at: https://anewseason.net/author/jillb

To invite Jill  or one of our writers to speak please email us at: admin@anewseason.net

 

Solitude vs Loneliness

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

Matthew 14:22-23 (ESV)

This is solitude.

Choosing to be alone.

Choosing to have that time when it’s just you and the Father Almighty.

Choosing relationship at the most intimate level with the entity of the highest level.

 

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Matthew 26:28 ESV

This is loneliness.

Grasping at friends to fill what they cannot fill—that chasm between the human soul and God’s love when relationship with Him is cut off.

Christ said those words in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his crucifixion. He knew that He was to take the sin of mankind upon him so that God could reject him and punish Him as a substitute for all the sin on earth. He knew that in order to accomplish redemption for all men, he had to experience God, His own Father, turning His back on Him.

Christ had to experience being truly separated from God.

That is what true loneliness comes from— a separation from God.

So when you are in that place of acute pain, reach out for the truth like a rescue line. Know it’s your flesh keeping you in that state of temporary separation. You’ve temporarily forgotten—you’re not alone.

As He draws you in, you’re still soaked with fear and trembling from the cold waters of desperation. Don’t be afraid of that. Those are feelings. We all have them.   And if you choose to go up on the mountain to be alone with God, you’ll take that loneliness with you, but you’ll leave it there with God and exchange it for solitude. Do that enough, and you will grow strong.

And growing strong allows you to see the world around you differently. You’re now more anchored in the Holy Spirit, because He is around you, with you, and in you at all times. You rest in Him. You radiate Him. And the world responds, because everyone wants to know the secret to what makes you radiate.

Lord God, Help my sister know she need not be afraid for You are with her, even to the ends of the earth. Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
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/khinkle

Would you like to read more about being vulnerable?  Here are some articles you might try:

Lonely?  Exchange it for Peace by Ami Adkins

Want to See God More Clearly? by Teri Cox

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.

Goodness

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

She stands and shares how her faithful God has answered her prayers with “yes” and life is great and God is good.  People smile and encourage her.

I sit in silence, aware that my prayers were not answered with the “yes” I desired, my life is not the “great” I dreamed it would be; but my God is still faithful and good.

Bless it.  My mind can’t help but wonder what her picture perfect life must be like.  If I think back, I realize I used to be her.  Shame on me, I sin in my frustration over her “easy life”.  I confess my jealousy to God.

Widowhood is ugly.

God is beauty.

The longing for our departed is overwhelming.

God is un-overwhelm-able.

When you have been traumatized by medical treatments and procedures yet still known the comfort of God in the midst of endless hospital stays;

when you have experienced loss and truly felt the peace that passes all understanding;

when you have stood flanked by your children, with your arms lifted high in praise, singing “Blessed Be the Name” at your husband’s service, then you know the extent of full surrender.

You will know the goodness of your Lord on a whole new level when you have crawled through the darkest of valleys and thrilled at the tiniest sliver of His light reaching through the darkness to you.

You will comprehend a love so deep, a faith so intense, a truth so piercing.

The goodness of the Lord is not dependent on how He answers my prayers or if my life is going the way I want it to.  The goodness of the Lord is just that:  HIS GOODNESS.  It does not waiver.

On my good days, God is good.  On my bad days, God is good.  He just is.

Widowhood is lonely.

God is ever-present.

Our shattered pieces seem irreparable.

God is a God of redemption and restoration.

I know a depth of my God’s character that I didn’t know before this journey.  He has revealed facets of Himself that I cannot begin to put into words.  His presence has carried me through horrendous events and His goodness has been constant.

Lord, I marvel at You.  Eternity is not enough time to explore Your goodness.  Thank You for revealing more of Yourself to us in the depths of despair.  Amen.

 

Lori Reynolds StrellerLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season /A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

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

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

Other articles on this topic:

Jesus is Enough by Bonnie Vickers

God is Sovereign. I am not. by Ami Atkins

 

 

Silence the Silence

In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  (Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

One of the nicest compliments on my marriage of twenty-six years came from a young lady who was serving us one evening in a restaurant.  She asked how long we had been married – at the time, we were at our twenty-three year mark.  When we told her, she was astounded.  She shared how she was drawn to our connection while she served us.  She was mesmerized by how deep we were lost in conversation, captivated by each other’s presence, as if no one else existed in that restaurant.  As she lingered at our table, she mentioned how sad it was to serve so many couples who just sit and eat in complete silence.  No laughs shared, no words – only silence.

Looking back,  I did not fully recognize it for the compliment it was.  But, now, no longer able to share those dinners with my husband and when I do go out for a meal, I understand what this young lady was referencing.  I, too, see so many couples share nothing but a table. Their silence is almost tangible. Now, more than ever, I miss the ease of that relationship and those conversations with my life partner.

Today,  those conversations are with God. The dynamic of talking with Him, though, is different.  You must get used to this form of conversation, learn it’s differences.  Although I do not physically see Him, I know He is listening.  And if I sit quietly, I hear His answers.

Since my husband’s departure from this earth, I have spent many nights in silence.  Gone is the easy banter he and I shared. Gone is the support of the one person who helped me out when trouble arrived.  Gone are the simple words of encouragement that lifted my spirits.  Gone is the soothing sound of his voice.  For so many nights, the room that once echoed with his infectious laugh now only serves as a chamber for complete quiet.

Silence – It can be deafening.

But, it can also be golden.

It takes a concentrated step to move beyond that silence.  It takes steps toward the One who is always present and always near, if we just reach out to Him.  In fact, the Bible tells us that it takes complete silent solitude to hear His voice.  It is His love that will carry you through the deafening days of your grief.  When everyone else has moved on with their lives and you feel there is no one left to listen, there is always Jesus.

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear.  (Psalm 10:17 ESV)

There are many ways to move toward breaking the bond silence has on you.  Healthy choices may include a shift from less world to more Jesus.  Less television, more Christian music.  Less internet surfing, more Bible study.  Less sleeping, more prayer. These moves toward Christ can break the quiet evenings when you feel the walls closing in.  It is the first flutter of your heart towards God on any given lonely day when He comes racing to your side.

I am so thankful I serve a Lord who is always available.  I know when my sleepless nights turn into tearful prayers at three AM, He is listening. I know when I am wrecked with loneliness, He is near.  I know when I feel the stranglehold of deep grief surrounding me, He is my comfort.  I have moved toward an even deeper fellowship with my Lord so I am better able to silence the silence.  Or rather, I can FILL the silence with His voice.  His word encourages and His promises are still true.

This temporary life is made for fellowship with Him.  And although, I greatly miss those conversations with my husband, I will choose to fill the moments we shared,  with the One who calls me His own.

Heavenly Father, please be with these ladies, Lord. We hurt  from missing the conversations we shared with our husbands.  Please give us strength to keep our eyes focused on You.  We know You have a plan for all of us even in the midst of this pain.  Thank You for always being with us when the walls of silence close in.  Amen.

Where Does My Help Come From

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

Imagine driving through windy roads and gradually climbing to the top of the mountain.  Along the way you pass streams of water flowing over beautiful natural rocks.  The natural wildflowers are blooming in colors of red, pink, white, and purple.  The trees are beginning to bloom in many shades of green covering the mountain from the bottom to the top.  Springtime in the mountains – a place I once called “home”!

Yes, my husband and I spent several years living near the Smoky Mountains. I moved there with much reservation. I grew up in the flat land and did not like all the curvy roads and hills.  It took a “long” time to get comfortable and finally be able to call this place “home”.  However, my husband loved the mountains!  He loved the beauty, the terrain, and all that went with it.  He never wanted to even think of leaving the area, and his wish was granted, as it was the place we were living when God called him home.

I distinctly remember driving in those mountains many days, and my husband would gently remind me of the words in Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heavens and earth.”  He would always express his awe and gratitude for being able to be in the midst of the mountains, and the way it reminded him of where his help came from.

After the sudden unexpected loss of my husband, it was a very scary thing to understand I no longer had him beside me to love and care for me and make decisions for us.  We certainly had not prepared for such a loss.  Even though I was very thankful for the help of my family and friends, it soon became evident that I was the one who ultimately had to decide what was best for me.

How was I to do that – it all seemed so overwhelming!

Within a span of just four short weeks, I not only lost my husband and best friend, but the ability to earn an income, to stay in the area we loved, our home, our church, and our friends.  With much help, I was able to clean out our home, keep a small amount of our belongings, and move hundreds of miles to be with family.

As I searched and continued to ask God “how can I do this”, many verses of scripture began to come to my mind.  One of them was Psalm 121: 2 “My help comes from the Lord”.   I began to realize, as a child of God, all the help I would ever need was available from Him.  Nothing had changed, His help was always there, but now it was time for me to totally put my trust in Him.

Over the past months, I have come to realize just how many lessons and, yes, how many blessings were brought my way while living in those mountains!  I believe God placed me there so I could learn to “look up” and realize He will provide “all” the help I will ever need when I trust Him.

I am so thankful for the time I called those mountains “my home”.   Even though I had to leave them, I really do miss them and will keep many memories from there tucked in my heart forever!

Lord, help me to remember that you are the strength of my life.  You are the source of my strength.  I lift my heart to You in praise – there is nothing too difficult for You, and that is why I can say, “My help comes from the Lord.”  Amen

Blessed Among Women!

Judges 5: 24 ~ Most blessed of women be Jael…(esv)

Feeling alone? Invisible? Tired of doing menial tasks?

I can answer all three questions with a resounding YES!

This road of widowhood can be so difficult and it isn’t unusual to feel alone, invisible and exhausted from all the responsibilities that knock on the door of our one adult household.

In the pages of Judges, chapters four and five I have discovered a woman named Jael. She spent her life as a shepherdess roaming from place to place, living in the shadows of the men in the Kenite tribe. Her work was preparing food, putting up tents, pounding tent stakes only to pull up tent stakes and tear down tents so she could move to another spot and repeat the process all over again.

Exhausting!

Not much time for a life of bonbons and relaxation. Not much chance to be seen, let alone noticed.

I can identify!

No bonbons for this girl, either. There is little time for relaxation with all the responsibilities that have been placed on my shoulders as a widowed woman.

At the proper time, God used Jael to crush an oppressing Israelite enemy.

Jael’s arsenal came in the form of her skills and her tools she worked with every day.

An  enemy of the Israelites came to her tent when she was alone, looking for protection and hiding.

He asked for water. She gave him milk and covered him with a blanket.

When the time was right, she took hold of her simple hammer and her simple tent stake and eliminated the Israelite enemy.

When Jael showed her loyalty for the Israelites, she was honored and considered “most blessed of women.” Deborah was a powerful leader of the Hebrew people, and to honor Jael was significant. They were at opposite ends of the social realm, and Deborah took it upon herself to take notice and honor Jael.

There are two traits we can glean from Jael and Deborah. Jael’s work ethic and her willingness to go above, and beyond in her tasks prepared her to bring honor to God’s people.  When we do the work, God will bring the notice.  Secondly, Deborah’s act of honoring Jael shows us the importance of honoring another sister in Christ, no matter their position or the call God has placed on them. All of us have the ability to play a role in moving His kingdom forward.

Everyday tasks and everyday responsibilities prepare us for the role we will play in God’s story in both our community and in His kingdom.

Dear Father, Please help us to see the importance of everything we do. Lord, Please remind us that we are never invisible and we are never alone. You always see us. You are always with us. Please guide us as we try to honor our sisters in Christ, so the world will take notice the benefits of being united in our purpose.  Help us to stand together despite our stories, our circumstances or our pasts. Help us to realize when we honor each other we are honoring You and Your kingdom story. We want to be faithful to our calling and to You. In Your Mighty Name, Amen!