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Grief is a Fickle Friend

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

It happened again, on a Tuesday, about a week ago. I was driving to work, dressed and ready, makeup on, prepared to conquer the day. Being a freelance writer, I usually only go into the office on Tuesdays. I was stopped at a red light, and my late husband Michael’s favorite song played on the radio – Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.

The first several months after his death, I would break down every time I heard the song. Now, usually, I can listen to it with a thankful heart. But that day, that Tuesday, it hit me – the extreme wave of grief – catching me off guard.

I sat at the light, tears pouring down, trying to pull myself together. I was just five minutes away from the office. “Of all days,” I thought, “I do not want to be late, and I can’t go in there in tears. It’s been more than two-and-a-half years. I can’t be this upset; no one will understand.”

But the truth is, we can be. Grief is a fickle friend and doesn’t just go away when we hit the one-year mark, or two-year or 10-year marks. We never “get over it.” Grief shows up whenever she feels like it – at work, with a client, the grocery store,  your child’s sporting event and so on. And, whether it’s been five weeks or five years since the loss of your beloved, it still happens, and that is our reality.

Though this journey is long and treacherous, with unexpected twists and turns, with the Lord’s’ strength and comfort, it gets better, and joy can still be found. The grief and sadness we have from the loss of our husbands will never go away, but that all-consuming sorrow will, if we let Jesus in.



“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)

Today, though I miss Michael every day, that all-consuming, paralyzing grief comes on days and moments that are fewer and farther between. And when they do come, I know that the Lord will be there, arms wide open, to comfort, and give peace and strength. He is the reason I’ve come this far, and though circumstances can be difficult to understand, I KNOW He will uphold me and never let me down.

The Lord never promised a life without pain, but He did promise to be by our side every step of the way.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLV)

Lord, Remind us to rely on your strength, not our own. It is the only way we can step forward in this life ‘after’. Guide us through the valleys, and help us be at peace when joy comes our way. Thank you for your faithfulness through it all. Amen.

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Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible.

Another article by Jennifer: When the Days Pile Up

An article with a similar theme: Unexpected Moments

 

The Heart Expands – Love After Loss

“Who do you like better?”

This is the awkward, yet somewhat serious and comical question my eight-year-old son by marriage asked a couple of months ago as we were leaving the cemetery. The five of us – my husband Keith and I and our three boys – visited my late husband Michael’s graveside, for the first time all together, on Father’s Day.

While there, we prayed, and I cried. As we got into the car he was curious – “You were fine on the way here. Why did you get so upset?”

We talk about Michael in our home often and he seems to get that my son Ty lost his father, but I am not sure he understands the role Michael played in my life as my husband. So I tried to explain, “You know how your dad and I are married, and he is my husband? Well, Ty’s dad, Michael, was also my husband. And just like I love your dad very much, I love Michael too, and I miss him. God has blessed me with two amazing men and marriages!”

Just as I was getting those words out, his question quickly came, “Who do you like better?” Keith and I looked at each other and tried not to chuckle but to him, and so many others who have not experienced the horrific loss of a spouse, it can be nearly impossible to understand how our hearts can expand. It was difficult for me to understand, too, until it happened to me. The Lord allowed my husband Michael to make his way to heaven sooner than I ever planned and finding love again was never in my plans either, but it was in the Lord’s.

Since that June day, this question has stuck with me. I believe widowhood is a journey God calls us on and I know we are not all called to remarry, but for those of us who are, let me try to explain.

“I don’t like either of them better,” I said, “They are two different people. Just as God loves all of us as His children and how your dad loves you and your brother the same, no more, no less – that is how I feel about your dad and Michael.”

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

You see, God made us for love, and when our husbands move from this life to heaven, that love never changes or goes away. Our hearts are made bigger, there’s an expansion, just as they would when a family has another child. Their love for their first child is not replaced or diminished when they have the second. The same goes for a remarried widow. Our late husbands and the love we have for them can never be replaced. And because we know that loving and losing is a reality – it takes great strength and courage to allow ourselves to fall in love again. That is where we have to lean on the Lord and follow where He is leading.

Learning to love again can be full of fear and “what ifs” and if God does lead you there, the duality of grief and the love for our late husbands will always stand. But that doesn’t mean our hearts aren’t large enough to love another.

God made us to love, and life can still be beautiful.

Lord, We want to stay close to you, so we know where you are leading. Open our hearts to what you have planned for us. Give us strength and courage for this new life, wherever you call us. Amen.

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Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible.

Want to read another article by Jennifer? I am not Equipped

Want to read another article about love after loss? When Joy and Sorrow Mingle

I am not Equipped.

Some days are just hard. Some days my patience wears thin, and I feel like I’ve had enough. From the grief of losing my husband Michael to the challenges of blending a family and raising three boys, along with normal life stressors – emotions can TRY to take control – making us feel unqualified and unequipped for this journey. But as many of us have learned, emotions can be misleading.

There are many things I’ve learned since my husband Michael passed more than two years ago, but one thing continues to stand out:

God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.

We were not equipped for the emotions that come with losing our husbands … on our own. I was not equipped for January 15, 2015, and everything following that day.

On my own, I could not handle my husband and the father of my child dying by suicide. I was not prepared for my entire world and future to fall apart in just one moment.

On my own, I was not prepared to be a widow at thirty one.

On my own, I couldn’t fathom doing all of the things that come with being a widow and sole parent.

On my own, the fear felt suffocating.

On my own, I could not have faced another day.

No human being is equipped to deal with that kind of trauma, ON OUR OWN.

Though I may not have been equipped to face those horrific circumstances or the challenges of blending a family and becoming a step mom on my own, the Lord equipped me to lean on Him – to lean into His strength, comfort and peace to make it through the unbearable days and even the impatient ones. He knows none of us are equipped to handle trials of this magnitude alone. That’s why He stands by our side and never leaves us, equipping us with His strength. He tells us this time and time again.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him …” Hebrews 13:20-21

I was not prepared to lose my husband, but the Lord did equip me to lean on Him for strength. His faithfulness is the reason I stand strong today. Sisters, He wants you to lean in, too. His strength will get you through.

Lord, We are all broken and in need of Your strength. Equip us accordingly to step forward in this new life, ready to do Your will. Protect us from the evil one and from self doubt that can sometimes overwhelm us. You have placed us on this path, and we know you will stand by us today and every day. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible.

 

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

 Here’s another article you might like about battling Satan by Elizabeth, Catch the Foxes! 

Several members of our team have written on the experiences of losing a spouse to suicide. You can read the articles here.

Finding Your Brave

Please join us today as we share a post written by our dear sister, Nancy, on finding our “brave” so we can keep stepping forward, even when it’s scary and hard.


Where’s Your Brave? by Nancy Howell

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

Where’s your brave?

Is it buried deep inside you, where no one else can see?

When was the last time you pulled it out and used it?

You know what I’m talking about, sisters–the confidence, the boldness, the fearlessness–of stepping out in faith.  Many times stepping out into uncharted territory, murky waters.

 Being brave doesn’t come easy for most….certainly not for me.  I spent most of my adolescent years conforming to what society dictated.  I just wanted to “fit in”.  Going along with the crowd is much easier than taking a stand and pulling out your “brave” from deep within.  Or so I thought.

But life isn’t always perfect, and circumstances change.  Death, divorce, loss of job, sickness, or a myriad of other bad things happen–hopefully not all at the same time.

When you find yourself in less-than-perfect surroundings, it may be hard to find your brave.

“It’s easy to be a Christian when everything’s going your way.”

In good times, brave is an asterisk on the great happenings in your life.

In not-so-good times, it’s the hope we cling to.

In all times, we are told to approach the throne of grace with confidence.

Grace is unmerited favor–meaning God gives it to us, even when and if we don’t deserve it.  By doing so, we are given compassion, forgiveness, and strength to carry us through our times of need.

Fitting in, going with the flow, conforming with society?  I’ve found it to be over-rated.  Many times it’s 180 degrees from God’s plan for us.

To fulfill God’s specific, meticulous plan He has just for you, you must find your brave.

Step out in faith.  Use your brave.  Come boldly before Him.

And watch what happens.

Father God,  Help us to have confidence, to approach Your throne of grace with boldness, finding our “brave” as we mature and live out the purpose You have in each of our lives.  Sometimes the first step is the hardest.  Let us always know we are not alone–ever.  Thank You for the unmerited favor You give, and give, and give.  Remind us it never runs out.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Waiting

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

Lamentations 3:25

Waiting rooms are no fun!  I am not a fan of sitting or waiting for my name to be called.

In general I don’t like to wait.  I am not a very patient person.

Yet, I find myself in a season of waiting right now.

I am in the, “God has me waiting room.”

But, this “waiting room” has many doors.  As I stand and look around at all the doors, I see just one that’s locked.  There are many more that SEEM inviting and they’re not locked!

When I open the unlocked doors I see my past.  Some doors open wide, and inside the images are vast, deep and extremely meaningful.  Many of those doors are from my life with my late husband. Precious memories and longings that still exist from the life I had.

There are other unlocked doors too.  They’re glimpses of smaller parts of my life.  Some contain images of broken or lost friendships.  Others reveal men that I’ve met over the last six years; men I thought might be my “next chapter”.  Others are glimpses of past sins I know I’ve laid at the Cross, but they seem to still be there when I open that door.

Sometimes, I stand staring at the ONE locked door.  See, that door is my future.  But unlike my past, I don’t get glimpses behind it.  I can’t crack it open or even open it wide and check out what’s going on behind there.

Lately, I find myself opening lots of the unlocked doors. Looking back with longing, bitterness or even regret.  I’m in a season of “waiting” right now. And as I wait for that big beautiful door of the future to be unlocked I get impatient.  Instead of trusting, believing and seeking, I go back and open the other doors.  When I do, I start to lose sight of what is and try to cling tightly to what was or what might have been.  I start to doubt and question God, because He’s had me waiting in this season “too long”.

As I was studying and doing some research recently, I came across an article that outlined all the great faithful people from the Bible that God made wait.  The list was impressive and humbling.

Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Noah, David, Abraham, and yes… even Jesus.

If He made these great, influential, faithful people wait, then why in the world would little ‘ole me think I’m too good to wait?

I was reminded there’s great purpose in the wait.  God can grow me, transform me, teach me, protect me, and prepare me if I’m willing to trust Him, focus on Him and serve Him while I wait.

I was also reminded that I’ll never get the key to unlock that future door if I’m still clinging too tightly to all the keys of the doors of my past.

So, today as I sit in the ‘God has me waiting’ room I am convicted to shift my focus to the One who’s brought me this far. I will strive to keep my eyes on Him.  I’m choosing to let go of the desire to get a few last peeks at the past. He’s convicted me I can’t prepare for what’s ahead if I’m trying to carry or focus on what’s behind me.

I wait. Yet, I will no longer look around at the many unlocked doors or even focus on the one locked door.  Instead, I’ll look up and seek God in my waiting.

Father God, waiting is hard stuff.  I am so impatient.  Thank You for knowing me and still loving me.  Help me to trust You in this waiting room.  Grow me and draw me nearer to You.  Reveal to me all You have for me, prepare my heart and mind, so I am ready for what You have next for me.  Lord, thank You for being right with me while I wait.  In Your matchless name, amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika 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 Erika or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles written by our team with a similar theme: The Waiting Room & Lady in Waiting

 


 

He Makes My Way Perfect

God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.

                                                                  2 Samuel 22:33 NLT

 

Do you ever second-guess your decisions? Do others second-guess your decisions?

It happens all the time, whether you are a widow or not. But as widows, we are often forced to make big decisions that we have either never had to make before or never had to make alone before. It can be so overwhelming, especially when we are already exhausted from grief.

One such decision can be whether to move.

I remember those first few weeks when I was trying to wrap my mind around my financial situation, the question about whether I should move started popping up. And so did the well-meaning advice. Some touted the traditional wisdom – don’t make any big decisions the first year. Some looked at the size of my house and immediately decided I should move–I didn’t need that much space or expense. While their hearts were in the right place, only one had the right answer for me and my situation.

God.

God was the only one who knew how my story would unfold over the next couple years.

He knew…

I needed to stay at my church for a couple years, surrounded by people who loved me and encouraged me through the darkest days.

I needed the structure from my job to help me as I dealt with the crazy ups and downs of various court cases related to my husband’s death that lasted for over eighteen months.

when I was ready to say yes for the next step in His plan which required me to move to a new city.

when I should sell the home I had shared with my husband for fifteen years.

it would comfort me for years to come, if I packed up my husband’s clothes and carefully arranged them in my closet at my new home.

I had to move quickly because I would soon be dealing with the death of my father.

God was the only One who knew what was to come and what I would need. He is the only One who knows it all and can make our path perfect. 

Lately, I have been reading in the Books of Samuel, and I have been reminded how closely David walked with God. Before David went into battle, He would seek God’s leading so he would be victorious. We can be victorious in every battle too, if we do what David did, and seek God’s leading. God will make our path perfect.

Perfect doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It was not easy to move to a new city. It will be two years next month, and it is still not easy. I miss my dear friends and church family in Plano, Texas. I miss being around people who actually knew my husband. I miss being around people who knew me before my heart was broken. I miss going places and being able to visualize being there with my husband. I miss the home we shared. I miss so many things, but I have tremendous peace.

I am where I am supposed to be.

My well-meaning friends had no way of knowing all that I would need as my journey progressed, but God did.

 I asked, He answered.

He led, I followed.

God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.

Lord, Thank You for watching over us and for loving us. Remind us to seek You every step of the way and to wait for You to lead. Help us to rely on Your wisdom, for only You can make the way perfect. In Your Son’s Precious Name.  Amen.


 

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.

If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

 

Want to read another great article by Sheryl? Hello, my name is

Want to read another article about moving? Are You at Home by Teri Cox

 

Go North!

And for many days we traveled around Mount Seir.  Then the Lord said to me, “You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough.  Turn northward and command the people.” 

Deuteronomy 2:1-4 KJV

My sister, Kathy, has been reading through the Bible using a journaling study.  This is where you read scripture and pray about what God is saying to you. Then using a special Bible with wide margins, you draw a piece of artwork to represent the scripture.  My sister is a very talented artist, amongst other things, and she has been posting on social media some of her beautifully inspired artwork.  The other day, she posted the artwork associated with this verse and God used her artwork to catapult me out of a rut.

I’ve been circling a mountain for a long time.  I’ve been wanting something for a long time and asking God for it and His answer has been, “Wait, my child, you’re not ready yet!”  So, I’ve been circling the mountain and re-asking, re-hashing, beseeching…over and over and over again.

I think as widows we often get stuck circling mountains and sometimes we need help moving north, so to speak.  We circle the mountains of anger, jealousy, hurt, longing and self-indulgence, to name just a few.  We fill our back packs with: “This shouldn’t be happening to me.” “I don’t want this.” “I shouldn’t have to do this.”  “I’m tired.” And of course, “Why?”

This week as I was scrolling through my social media account up popped my sister’s post and her beautiful artwork, which further and much more directly gave me the answer God has for me.  It is His sweet answer to my prayer!

Stop circling this mountain and move north!  God spoke to me and basically told me to pick myself up and move north – look to Him and move toward Him.

Do you sometimes find that when you want something and ask for it and don’t get it in your time, you float away from Christ in the process?  You don’t mean to, but you do.  It’s a gradual wearing down, a slow movement south.

I find it so interesting that God knows me, knows what I need, when I need it and sends the perfect message in the perfect person at the perfect time.  His answer always feeds my soul and sustains me.

I’m finding that when I start circling a mountain, it is often a man-made mountain.  And as I am wearing a trail around its base, I am adding to the height of the mountain I am circling.  I get caught up in the circling and looking at the mountain and I forget to look north…true north.

So, this girl is going through her backpack and I am leaving some of my stuff on this mountain trail – the stuff I’ve added.  I am lightening up my backpack and looking north…going north.  I’m still hiking, but I’m looking to my beacon- my true North – Christ, my Savior.

Who’s with me?  Let’s open our backpacks up and get rid of some of the stuff we’ve been carrying!  Let’s leave this trail and go north.  I’ll meet you on a new trail and we can encourage one another along the way.

Stop circling this mountain and move north!  Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your God-given talent and allowing God to work through you to encourage others!

Dear Lord, Thank You for Your scripture which is new every day!  Thank You for using people in my life to encourage me and to speak light and truth into my life!  I am moving north and leaving this mountain trail for a new trail being paved by 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 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

If you liked this article, you might like:

Moving Forward by Teri

 Full Victory by Erika

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

I Said Yes

The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost to the locusts…”

Joel 2:25a  

One year ago today, I said yes.

A yes to so much new.  New adventures.  New home.  New state.  New church.  New love. New children. New family.  New life.  I said yes to a man and his two kids, believing God was using this to restore in our lives what the locusts had destroyed.

On November 16, 2014, I believed I had found my new chapter, my chapter two as some widows call it. My kids would have an earthly father again and a bonus even, new siblings to love.  I would have love again and a partner to go through life with.

But in just a few short weeks after that monumental yes, it unraveled.   And on December 5th, I had to say no.  No to this new life.  No to this man.  No to moving.  No to having romantic love. No to being married again. No to two new precious kids to love. No to it all.

That “no” day was insanely hard.  But it was completely right!

God had made it clear in a hundred different ways through many different people and situations that this was not His will for our life. I knew to the very core of my being I was not to do this thing.  I was not to keep going forward in this direction. God was clearly closing that door.  And a few short months later He even locked it.

If I had been earlier in my journey.  If I had been in a place where the lonely ache ruled.  If I had not healed enough.  If I had not found my only need was in Christ.  I’m not sure I would’ve obeyed God. I’m not sure if I didn’t wait, listen, and seek the Lord, I would not be remarried today.  Because up to that point, I completely believed that remarriage was the way God would restore us.

Yet, even as much as I believed in remarriage as our restoration, my obedience to God in my journey trumped all else.  So, I said a tear filled no, returned the engagement ring, and a gave a final goodbye.

My faithfulness to Him now comes from a deep place.  A place I never knew before the locusts of suicide destroyed our life.  A place I now can completely trust Him in, that leaves no doubt when I come out of it and am called to act.

It’s almost a year after that significant no moment.  God has still not chosen to give me love again or a chance at remarriage.  (And I’m sort of ok with that. ;))

I’ve spent this year growing and reflecting instead.  And I realize now that God is restoring our locust eaten lives every single day.  We wake up.  We do life.  We heal. We laugh. We love.  We live. We move forward.  We are being restored in the life God has called us to because

it’s not the circumstance or the people He gives or withholds from us that restores us.  It’s the ONE who is doing the restoring.

God is here. He is working and growing us every day.  A man and his kids won’t restore our life, because God already has.  A new family won’t fix the suffering, because Jesus already paid it all to fix us.

As I look to our future I really have no clue what’s in store, and I am no longer a hundred percent sure that remarriage will be in my future.  I’ve learned though, I don’t need to know or see.  Instead, I can live in today.  Being obedient and faithful in this moment to a God whose mercies, provision, and protection have been profound over the last five plus years of my life.

Today, I choose to live for HIM and to trust the unique restoration He is doing in and through me and my kids daily.

Father God, I thank you for Your leadings in my life over this last year. I thank You for Your provision and protection.  Lord, continue to reveal Your best good for me and my kids.  I lift up any sister who’s struggling right now with the new You’re calling her to.  I pray You give her perfect peace and clear direction as she looks to step into each day with You. I thank You for Your constant faithfulness to each of us.  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 click here.

Related articles: Moving Forward & The Window

 

I don’t want to write about grief

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalm 30:11-12 ESV

I don’t want to write about grief.

I sat brainstorming for my upcoming post. “How can I encourage other widows today? What do these hurting sisters need to hear?”

A revelation lodged itself firmly in my heart. Though I’m responsible for a post about grief, I don’t want to write about it.

How utterly marvelous and liberating!

“Why? What do you mean?”

Let me back up a moment. Two weeks after my husband died, I was compelled to chronicle the aftermath publicly, to let others see the crushing pain, to not shy away from places some fear to tread.

I’m not one to run away, so I attacked grief, aggressively processing facet after facet. I allowed myself to be in the deep places. And it was not wrong for me to be there.

I’ve unpacked layer upon layer of sorrow, filling 100s of journal pages and constructing nearly 60 blog posts. Writing is an outlet where confusion turns to clarity, where tears funnel into something productive.

More importantly, writing is the place where I preach truth to myself. I had to be raw and honest, but I also had to show the radical hope found in Jesus Christ. Writing about my grief cemented the truths God made clear in the valley:

It’s been an immensely necessary and beautiful part of the journey. I think it may yet have its place, but today my heart says, “It’s time to write about other things.”

Perhaps then, the most liberating and radical truth I can share is this: we don’t have to stay in the stranglehold. Through Jesus, grief cannot utterly destroy. Rather, He crushed death to death, and He turns mourning into dancing. He teaches us to write about other things.

Grief does not define me, nor is it my identity.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV

Christ lives in me, and He defines me. Redeemed. Chosen. Adopted. Beloved. Complete. Whole.

Now don’t miss this, I’m still madly in love with my husband and ache for him daily. I’m sure tears will still come at needed moments. Yet by grace, I walk forward.

And today, I don’t want to write about grief.

Father, through Jesus there is immense hope, confident expectation. Jesus took my spiritual death, and one day even physical death will be no more. Eternity awaits, forever with You. And these things fill my heart with joy! You will turn mourning into dancing and sorrow into gladness. God You have been with me in the valley of death. You wept beside me there for many weeks. But now, I’m thankful You are leading me from it. 

Lord, be near those who are weeping, but remind them who they are. Give them grace to be defined by You instead of by sorrow.