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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.

Title Yourself ‘Daughter of the King’

Decidedly, I now write from the perspective of a remarried widow. Yeah, that’s how I title myself, a remarried widow. Although some may not see it that way our self-titling is one of those topics like when, or if, we remove our wedding rings as widows. It’s very personal and ultimately purposeful. The way we title ourselves reflects what we think about our roles, past and present, and consequently reflects who we believe we are and how we operate in the world around us.

And the truth is, although remarried, I never want to forget. Losing my first love reshaped so many parts of me. The initial stages hit me fast and furious in the first two years. At first I worshiped, reveling in my husband losing his earthly life. It’s true. I remember literally hitting my knees in on the hospice floor overflowing with joyous relief that he now resides in heaven without pain, without worry, without cancer eating him away from the inside out. Then I entered the fog of deep disbelief, putting one foot in front of the other for pure survival. Finally, I slowly started to drown in my own attempts to create a life out of my calling to widowhood. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s the moment you realize your life must take on a shape of its own without the defining title of ‘wife’. It feels like replacing appendages after sudden amputation and figuring out how to function again.

Strangely, I don’t want to forget any of those fretful moments. Mostly because God was in every single detail doing what He does best: loving me, saving me and molding me into more of who He wanted me to be. Looking back I see the amazing truths revealed to me that were once buried under all the tough stuff, beneath all the mud and the muck leading up to the today ‘me’. My suffering and struggling dug out characteristics God desired to surface and mature in me. Sure, I lost it…ummm…a lot! But in my losing it I learned to love harder, surrender to my Savior, serve with a greater depth of heart and trust God with all things.

Now, truth is, I still stager and stumble. Sometimes I forget to surrender, trying to take back the control and retitling myself ‘chief mom in charge’ (it’s that Type A tendency I tangle with!). Other times, I hold back my heart for fear of loss or failure until God reminds me He defines my success. But amidst my slips, I’m still steps ahead in my faith and relationship with Jesus because of what I went through. And that’s what this life is all about, right? The process of sanctification until we receive our eternal title in heaven!

Back to my still fresh perspective as a ‘remarried widow’.  It means I’m redeemed in an earthly way with another chance at love and life alongside a wonderful man! But it reminds me of the lessons I learned and defines my present alongside all the details God so perfectly planned for my past. After all, we are products of His hand’s plan, all parts included!

I bring all I am into my marriage today, which at times makes things interesting (probably more specifically defined as challenging) for my new, very patient man. But I’ve realized when God is in all the details, it’s amazing what He can do. Here’s where I’m telling a little more of my love story one year later on Happily Whole, where I usually write about wellness from a faith perspective: One Year Later…and He’s still in all the details

So, I ask you: How do you title yourself today? How does your self-titling define your experience in your role as widow, woman, mom and on and on?

You may or may not be on a path towards remarriage. But, you ARE on a path someplace. And when God’s in all the details, He’s defining you and He’s refining you. So, no matter where you on in His plan, posture yourself upright in Him. Stand tall and title yourself His daughter. It’s a title you take with you everywhere! Daughter of the KING. We are all redeemed!

Lord, Father God, no matter where each of these precious daughters of yours are on their journeys I pray you reveal all you offer them through the perfectly planned details of their lives. Love them, guide them and carry them to a place where they stand tall, titling themselves first as Your daughters. Amen

Your Beautiful Body, His Bountiful Blessing

Hello again, my sweet sisters! Lately I’ve been talking a lot about life, widowhood and what comes next. But for today I’m turning my attention back to self-care, specifically eating well, a topic I often ponder on my own blog, Happily Whole.

You see, I possess this pesky passion about how women think about, feel about and consequently behave towards food. I believe behaviors are born of mind more than body and caving in to cravings fill us with only momentary comfort because what we really need more of is Christ.  After many years of fighting with food, I realized my philosophy didn’t match my mindset or, of course, many times my behaviors.  But I’ve closed that gap with Christ as the bridge and now I enjoy a healthy love affair with all aspects of real, whole food! Which is why I want to uncork an often bottled-up topic in case you’re wandering in your wellness or fighting with food.

But why this topic on a widow’s blog? Aren’t we here to share moments of loss, grief, coping, healing and hope? Absolutely! But even in the midst of our unique struggles, we must somehow learn to live well and we must eat. Too often I’ve watched widows nourish themselves poorly, under-valuing, over-analyzing or simply ignoring the healing value of food.

  • Some allow health to fall by the wayside completely, immersed with matters more pressing like simply staying standing as the weight of loss presses hard on their shoulders and in their hearts.
  • Others swing to the other side of the spectrum where eating develops into unhealthy obsession, a means to avoid dealing with real feelings by focusing hard on controlling food.
  • Still there are those who use food as an emotional cushion stuffing their bodies with false comfort with what they consume.

Each perspective, I’d argue, is equally destructive when dealing with the daily challenges of widowhood whether you’re new to the walk or wading into a new chapter. Constantly careening with amplified emotions you may feel drained, left with little energy to nourish your body.

Oddly, food often teeters between something we simply need to survive and an object personified as our worst enemy or best friend. But have you ever wondered what our great God may say about His creative design to sustain our lives? Like anything else in the life of a child of God, we can look to the Bible for guidance:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 (ESV)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

You see!? Even in just these two examples we see how God considers the nourishment and care of our beautifully created bodies important reflections of Him in this world. Dare I say it sounds like the treatment of our bodies is dearly woven into the condition of our souls? Our physical, emotional and spiritual health together contribute to a holy purpose and means to glorify our heavenly Father.

So, let’s not neglect what God gave us in our bodies! I believe developing a healthy relationship with food and an understanding of God’s true intention when He created it can help us change whatever destructive habits we have.

And that’s exactly what I’m writing all about over on Happily Whole. If you’d like to sink into this topic more deeply with me, grab your coffee, get cozy and come on over. We’ll sit together, consider self-care with gratitude in our hearts and learn to give God all the glory!

Here’s a post close to my heart and pleasing to my palate!: Grain Free Chocolate Cake…and my food attitude

Next, here are some simple steps to renewing your own food attitude: 3 Simple Steps to Taking Back the Blessing in Food

Finally, here’s a post I created to help you put all the pieces of personal wellness together. It comes with a free printable to help you draft health into your every day! Draft Each Day 

The Hard Side of Hope

Your story is essential. Yeah, that’s right. Even the suffering and the struggling and the stalemate you’re sometimes sitting at. You see, God doesn’t give widows a death sentence. He gives us hope. And sometimes there’s hard side of hope.

And, sisters, we have seen the hard side of hope. It’s not just something our minds have heard. We ‘get’ it. Our souls understand how perfection was never promised this side of heaven. We aren’t searching for perfection or fairy tale endings because they’ve already dissolved in the dissonance death caused.

But the real kind of expectant hope that comes from Him heals hurt in a way we’d never be able to experience without widowhood. HOPE  Yeah, it’s got a hard side and we found it in widowhood.

Here’s the thing, though. This hope our souls understand, the bitterness we’ve been blessed with, can be used as someone else’s blessing. We’re still here on the mission He crafted for our lives, learning to lean hard on Him. We have been offered lessons that can be given away as gifts. We can hold this kind of hard hope and mold it into a message made to bless others.

Your story is essential. So is mine. You see, my story has all kinds of chapters I never thought would be written. Like the chapter when I got remarried (um…after reluctantly beginning to date in year four of widowhood). That’s hope after He proved me wrong, right?! Then this next chapter when my head started spinning with the sacred truth that second times are complicated when the baggage from both sometimes break our backs.

But, that’s hope too! Because, it’s our brokenness always bringing us back to Him. So my husband and I cling hard to stay on the same page…or at least in the same chapter of the same story surrounded by the five girls God gave us to raise together.  Remember, we already know perfection wasn’t promised this side of heaven. So we wait for the next opportunity to find His grace and guidance in the tough stuff.  And I’m learning every day how He puts people in my life to give or receive His grace.

That’s the very reason we must view the hard side of hope, the struggles and the suffering, as essential parts of our stories to uncovering the gift of God’s grace for someone else. We don’t know what’s coming in the next chapter. But we do know we’ll bring with us all our widowhood wisdom and we can write it into someone else’s story.

There’s no right or wrong way. There’s no formula for giving away the hard hope you’ve experienced but when God gives you a heart for Him, you have to give parts of your heart away to make space for more of His molding. So, pray about ways your hurt can help heal others. And pray about how other’s stories can heal you, too, because we are all essential to each other.

Read more about how your imperfections have an amazing purpose here: Your Bittersweet, Someone Else’s Blessing

 

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!

Living Well in Widowhood

As widows, it’s easy to lose motivation to care for the beautiful bodies God gave us. Living alone means no one is watching. Or even those of us with children still find ourselves searching for something soothing to munch on as we sink into the couch cushions wishing for comfort…comfort food can’t give.

Why would a widow really care about wellness!? After losing that one person we felt this life was worth living for, what’s the point of caring about what we wear, how much we eat or if we exercise at all?

I know how that feels. I recall wondering whether I’d ever feel appealing, if my ‘presentation’ truly mattered or if caring for my own body’s health was enough to make me want to move again.

But because, before the death of my husband, I already possessed the professional mindset and personal passion for eating well and exercising regularly, I forced myself into my old healthy lifestyle. I felt relief at first simply because I could return to something that felt normal to me.

But, it was still different. As a widow, even my most ingrained habits felt surreal and uncomfortable. What was I doing it all for anyways? My drive, my motivation and even my energy waned when I thought about living well all alone. I certainly didn’t need to try to look good naked!

But then my perspective started changing. I felt this conviction to live well but in a new ‘inside-out’ way. You see, I sought healthy habits starting with my soul and then let that perspective seep out into how I treated my body. Living well in widowhood had nothing to do with what the world taunts us with–all those empty messages of diets, fitness fads and socially acceptable aesthetics held no weight in my new little world.

I had learned that living well as a widow, my own self-care, had a lot more to do with my sanity than any opinions or my appearance. I lost the love of my life but gained a new perspective as a woman working in wellness.

Even after I started dating (under protest, I might add…more on that in THIS POST), I refused to admit I cared about my aesthetics. And you know what? I honestly didn’t! Even if I married this guy, I wanted to maintain the more soul-satisfying, ‘inside-out’ approach I’d been exploring.

What’s so interesting about this new approach to my old habits is that I’d never felt so comfortable in my own skin. It’s like God was blessing me with peace and new purpose in an area I’d always felt I was racing in.

I realized, like all the other aspects of my life, self-care was another area I needed to surrender to my Savior. I mean, if God made my body and then sacrificed His Son for my salvation, I’d better honor the vessel He gave me for my process of sanctification!

And when I embraced that belief, God got all the glory and my mind relaxed with new motivation to live well.

Sisters, God gave us our bodies. He calls us to care for the temple of His Holy Spirit out of honor, no matter what stage we are in. And as long as we’re alive on earth, let’s remember we are each blessed with a mission to carry out and we need our bodies to do it.

I have so much more to say about your inherent worth in Him and how lovely you already are! But for now, feel free to read more in this post on Happily Whole: Prepare to Surrender for Self-Cleaning

Love and Prayers to you…now go and LIVE WELL as WIDOWS!

~ Katie