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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.

Faith over Frustration

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”                   

                                                                               Psalm 34:18 ESV                           

Can I get an Amen on how much we miss our “handyman” around our homes?!

My husband was the ultimate “handyman” around our house. He could look at any situation and in his creative mind come up with a solution to make it work better.

I was reminded of this recently when I had to tackle an issue as a result of one of my husband’s ingenious work. He designed and installed a drain pipe to catch the over flow of pool water away from our deck. It was a genius idea. The pipe carried the water away, which over time could have damaged our deck. It also carried away pesky bugs and foliage debris.

But, what I didn’t know, was the need for this drain pipe to be flushed on a regular basis. A scheduled cleansing of pure water to flush the pipe to keep it clean and running free was needed. So, after months of no cleaning, I learned real quick the consequences. Stagnant water began to sit on my deck as a result of a completely clogged pipe. And as I began to tackle this clogged pipe, I thought how perfect an illustration it was in how I was feeling.

The past few months, my life has felt just like that clogged pipe. Clogged with frustrations. An abundance of frustrations! Frustration upon frustration pouring over me clogging my heart and thoughts. You know the feeling when every day presents another challenge and you feel as though you are drowning?

I am ashamed to say it, but, I have let these frustrations grab ahold and cause a struggle with my faith. A struggle not in the sense of questioning God’s faithfulness, but, more in the sense of questioning, “why the abundance of problems?”  And if I can continue to be honest, I have been living in complete defeat lately.

Frustrations were winning and controlling my life. How did I get to this level? I am the first one to stand up and give testimony of how faithful God has been to me since my husband’s death. How could I allow these pesky annoyances to become so debilitating!

As I move towards freeing myself from this debilitating feeling, let me share a few of my steps toward that goal.

  • Own the Struggles   

I have made a hand written list and I am laying them at the Cross. While God already knows what my struggles are, giving them to Him acknowledges His sovereignty.

  • It’s Okay To Say No

I am clearing my life of commitments for awhile (the ones I can). By clearing some time, I am able to spend more time in fellowship with God in study and prayer. Both necessary to conquer any struggles we may have.

  • Relish Solitude

 I am taking some time for me right now. I am scheduling in time for exercise and focusing on healthy eating. I am taking time to slow down and enjoy the little things like evening strolls and reading. It’s okay to not conquer life at mach speed all the time.

I don’t like the feelings I’ve had recently. As a child of God, I want to be strong and a constant testimony to His faithfulness. I do not want to be a weak Christian. And yet it is during these times He reminds me,

 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,  for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.                                                                                        

                                                                                        2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

His grace will not permit us to fall. His strength and power is manifested even greater by sustaining our weaknesses. And ultimately His power is like a tent over us, giving us shelter, protection, and rest. He is with us. Always. The promise of Grace will never fail us.

Precious Father, thank you for reminding me that it is Your Grace that carries me through the floods of frustrations. Thank you, Lord, for giving us protection and rest through Your Grace. May all my widowed sisters and I glorify Your strength through our weaknesses. Amen


 

My life took a radical turn in the spring of 2009 when the “C word” was introduced into our family.  Cancer.  My healthy husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and life as we knew it would never be the same.  I was able to live the words “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” as I walked along side this fight for his life.  After a timg_2753wenty month battle, God called my love home in the wee hours of an October morning in 2010.  I was devastated and could not imagine how I would be able to move forward without the love of my life by my side.

The answer was simple.  Jesus.  His love.  His mercy.  His grace.  He carried me when I was at my lowest.  And I carried Him in my heart even when I 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                                                           

I love reading, baking and long walks along the Florida coastline.  A good portion of my time is spent flying around the country as a flight attendant for over thirty years.  My husband and I were blessed to have shared twenty six years of marriage.  As I watch our daughters grow up, I enjoy seeing his traits and teaching evolve in their character.  He is greatly missed by his three girls.  But, he would be so proud to know we continue to fight the good fight and living out loud for our Savior.

See more from Bonnie at http://anewseason.net/author/bvickers

Read more about overcoming frustrations by Sherry and Kit.

 

Why

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

My kids’ favorite word as toddlers was why.  Their curious little minds were like sponges, and they eagerly wanted to know the answers to everything.  There were times I was so worn by their why’s I’d count down the minutes until my husband would arrive home from work, so the “why monsters” would turn to him instead.

After my husband died by suicide, I overheard lots of questions from those around me, and I had a great deal of my own deep questions, many centered on my own “why monsters.”

I knew God could’ve chosen to change the circumstances of that horrible day, and the days leading up to it.  He can do anything!  But He didn’t, that was hard to accept.

So the questions before God went something like this:  Why not protect my husband or us from this hurt and suffering?  Why not use this as a powerful testimony in keeping Scott here? Why allow such a horrific thing to occur?

Why us?

I can only assume He probably grew as weary as I used to of my kids.  But, I wasn’t challenging God’s authority or denying His power, I was seeking His divine answers and plans for us.  I wanted to know why, so I could know how.  Because my why questions were followed with how questions such as: How do I move forward?  How do I get my children through this?  How do I do all that lies ahead without my husband?

I meditated on God’s Word because I thought I would find the elaborate answers we all sought.  But, the bottom line is that no one, not one, is above pain and suffering, even God himself.  He sent His Son who took on sin at the Cross and suffered a most unimaginably painful death to pay the price for us.  If God allowed His own Son to suffer for THE greatest purpose, then in this broken world He’s going to allow me to as well.

In fact as a believer God’s word is clear that at times I will suffer in one way or another.  (I Peter 2:21)

From the time sin entered the world, until Christ comes again,  it’s a part of this life. Yet, I can rest assured that my suffering has purpose and is never wasted, even if I really don’t like or understand it.

He didn’t reveal specific answers to my questions, but He reminded me of His promises and encouraged me to trust His plan and His provision for me.

The questions many others and I had were normal.  They stemmed from hurt, fear, even anger, and a lack of understanding.  In the Bible there are several who cry out to God during their trials, asking the inevitable questions, because the burdens are great and the flesh is weak:  The Psalmists ask why, Job asks why, even Jesus at the cross cries out to God the Father as He paid the price for us all, “Why have you forsaken me?”

I realize God may or may not reveal the answers to the questions I have on this side of heaven, but when I need to I ask.  I humbly go before the cross and cry out to God, recognizing His divine authority and accepting His greater purpose and plans for me, choosing to TRUST Him with everything.  

Heavenly Father, this world is so hard and our trials can be so tough.  We come before You with our questions, not out of a place of an arrogant, hard heart but out of a place of humble love and brokenness before You.  Father we ask that You continue to reveal your divine plans to us, that You go before us continuing to bring all glory to You.  Lord, help us to accept what we don’t understand, help us to choose to trust You throughout this journey.  Reveal Yourself to us in ways we could never imagine.  Help us to seek You and Your answers whenever we are weak and hurting.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen


Erika Graham is Vice President, 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. 

Articles with a similar theme: Why Did This Happen? and Why Now?

Give it to God

The trauma my body and mind went through that day is indescribable. I still have aftershocks from that day and the moments leading up to my husband Michael’s death. These aftershocks trigger my mind, making me believe something awful is happening or about to happen. In fact, seeing an ambulance or fire truck parked outside of a home brings extreme stress that, within seconds, can build to anxiety.

The aftermath of death brings so many emotions – anxiety, fear, anger, sorrow, guilt, shock, loneliness – and these feelings can continue thoughout our grief journey. It makes sense that our emotions are so high. The Holmes and Rah Stress Scale rates the loss of a spouse as the number one most stressful life event, not only because you lose your husband, but also because of the numerous secondary losses.

Sadly, you don’t have to tell us. As widows, we know this firsthand. We lost our husband, our best friend, lover, father of our children, confidant, financial advisor, prayer warrior, spiritual leader, our supporter, trash taker outer and partner in this life.

Whether it’s anxiety over the day you lost your husband, the stress of change or having to do everything on your own – raising your children without their father, figuring out finances – or the loss of relationships that were once close, what do we do when these feelings become so overwhelming that they almost paralyze us?

I attended a Suicide Survivors group and also went to counseling for several months following my husband’s death. I truly believe the Lord places people, like counselors, in our lives to help us sort through feelings and emotions. The time I spent in a group and with my counselor also helped me find a way to cope with the anxiety and trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) caused from it. I use these coping skills regularly, but there are times when they don’t seem to fulfill my heart or bring peace and comfort. That’s when I turn to the only ONE who can.

I find that when I try to do things on my own, I can’t seem to fully get past that moment and those feelings. But when I give those feelings to the Lord, I know He can do more than I ever thought possible.

The Lord says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

When I find myself in a place consumed by darkness and overwhelming circumstances, I pray and look to this verse. I have and continue to find comfort and peace here. Though I know what waits for me after this life, I have always trusted the Lord would bring goodness here on earth, too.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm  27:13)

From day one, after my husband passed, I saw this goodness in our son and in the people who surrounded me. God had placed these people in my life, not necessarily for the time I met them, but for that time of need when my world fell apart. And, presently, I am recently remarried and have seen so much goodness that the Lord has provided through my husband Keith.

As we continue to walk this journey of grief, and trauma and anxiety attempt to creep their way back in, let’s remember to pray and give it all to the ONE who knows our heart and our circumstances. Because He is the only one who can heal what is broken.

Lord, Each of us have our own story, but we all have been impacted by the trauma from our husbands’ deaths. Comfort us and remind us of Your eternal perspective. And though, we know eternal life with You awaits, we are confident you have goodness in store for us on earth. I pray you open our hearts and minds to listen to know where You are leading so we can experience Your goodness. 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.

Will We Choose Misery or Ministry?

No one would willingly choose this widow path we have been assigned to walk. It is a painful, definitive part of our whole journey, no matter what the future holds. In an instant every choice we had about the direction of life with our husband was taken out of our grasp; however, we do still have at least one choice to make about the direction of our life going forward — whether we will respond to our circumstance by living a life of misery or ministry.

As a new widow, the pain is overwhelming. Understandably, we may not envision a time when we will have the ability to help others as we so badly need others to minister to our needs and those of our family members. In the early days it takes every bit of strength and focus just to process what goes on around us from minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day; but at some point  as the fog clears and healing begins, opportunities to serve people outside of our family will present themselves. At that time, we choose to either remain focused only on self and the misery of our loss or to begin focusing on others and how we can minister to them.

It has been like medicine to my soul to meditate on passages of Scripture that encourage me to focus on something beyond the pain of my own circumstance and to recognize opportunities to practice serving others. One such passage expresses the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

From this we can see at least eight things that can encourage us. We are

  1. to rejoice
  2. to let our reasonableness be known to everyone
  3. not to be anxious about anything
  4. to let our requests be known to God through prayer, with thanksgiving
  5. to know that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
  6. to think on the positive list of things given in this passage
  7. to practice what we learned in this passage
  8. and when we do practice these things, he says the God of peace will be with us.

It is natural and beneficial to grieve at our own pace; but it is detrimental to wallow in grief, both to us and to those around us. Just as with open wounds, we need to apply the medicine that will help us to heal, even though scars will remain. Wounds that remain open can fester, cause infection, and decay. Scars can be a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness to bring healing and purpose to our lives and can be instrumental in helping others to heal as well.

What will we choose? Misery or ministry?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21 (ESV)

Lord, please bring us all to a place of healing from the pain of loss, leaving only the scars that testify to Your mercy and goodness in carrying us through our trials. You have promised us Your peace that surpasses all understanding and You have promised to be with us when we practice what we have learned. Please help us choose ministry over misery so that we can be used to minister to other people for Your glory. Amen.


Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 

 

 

If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Articles with a similar theme: Breathing In HopeNew Paint

This Isn’t What I Planned

WE HAD PLANS.

My husband Michael and I were going to have at least two children and possibly adopt a third. We were going to continue traveling the world, start a nonprofit, raise our children together, become grandparents, grow old and grey together. We were just 31 and had our entire lives ahead of us.

But what happens when our plans don’t align with the Lord’s plans or what He allows for our lives?

I have always known that being a Christian does not make me immune to the troubles of this world, but I never imagined that suicide would impact my life. I never imagined becoming a widow and sole parent at 31. It just wasn’t part of my plan.

But it happened.

And when it did, I begged and pleaded with God for another way for His will to be done until I surrendered to His will and not mine.

It can be difficult to understand when our hopes and dreams for this life don’t go along with what actually happens, bringing doubt and questions. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old son is questioning how his father is not part of the plan here on earth.

A few days ago we went by the home we shared to pick up mail – I sold the house last year before I remarried in September (that wasn’t a part of the plan either, but I am so thankful God led my husband Keith and me to each other. He is a miracle in my life!)

As we drove away my eyes began to fill with tears, and anxiety attempted to creep its way back in. My son noticed and asked, “Mommy, do you miss our house? Do you miss daddy? Why did daddy have to go to heaven before we moved? It was too soon.”

Those words, from my son, missing his daddy, are heartbreaking and a pain we will live with for a lifetime. But I’m going to share with you exactly what I shared with him.

“I do miss him very much. When we love someone and they are not here, it makes us sad. And, I don’t know the answer, buddy. When our lives don’t go as we plan and don’t look the way we always envisioned, all we can do is trust in the Lord and trust in His bigger purpose that we may not see. We have to be open to letting Him work in our lives,” I said. “I don’t understand why God allowed daddy to go to heaven so soon. I see how daddy’s life and our experience are impacting others for good, but I don’t really know the reason. We aren’t always called to understand but to trust in the Lord,” I tried to explain.

God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This was the verse written on a notecard that I found in my husband Michael’s truck. Little did I know, that notecard and this verse would help sustain me through my deepest side of grief.

I shared my heart and this verse with my son. Though I know he is so very young, I pray these words and thoughts build a foundation for his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as He grows and experiences his own grief journey.

Leaning on the Lord and not on my own understanding is how I am walking forward in this life and not just surviving but also finding joy again.

There is peace that cannot be explained when you know there is a God who sent His SON for each of us – that the Father is in control – and every single decision we make, though there is free will, doesn’t change the final outcome that He has planned.

Lord, I pray that even when we cannot understand the horrific things of this life, that you will bring us peace. Help us to walk forward with trust and without doubt, knowing you have a plan, you are with us, and you are in control. 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.

A Great Love

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: Psalm 34:18 KJV

My husband passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2011. 

He had been battling a rare blood cancer for over four years.  In November, 2010, it became apparent that the only chance to save his life would be to undergo a bone marrow transplant.  After much prayer, tremendous love from our family and  friends, and a divine certainty that we were in God’s will, we took a leave of absence from our jobs and left Northern Virginia for Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

My husband, Bill, received his transplant on January 14, 2011.  Bill was forty-two and strong in body and spirit.  The first few days were fine. However as we waited for the engrafting to occur, Bill began to contract infections (viral, fungal, bacterial, etc.) because he had no immune system.  

As we watched Christina Aguilera sing the Super Bowl National Anthem on February 6, 2011, I turned to comment on her mistake and Bill was unresponsive.  A team rushed in, and he was whisked away to ICU.  I called our family, and they started making plans to come from various areas of the country.  I will never forget the last words that Bill spoke to me a few days before he passed away.  He said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife!”   Bill fought for several days more.

For a whole day on February 13, the word “Goodbye” kept whispering in my head and heart.  I knew it was the Lord and that He was lovingly preparing me for His answer to my prayers, but I kept pushing it away, hiding from it.  Finally, on the morning of February 14, I couldn’t sleep, woke up early and prayed.  God lovingly reminded me that I had to say goodbye…not forever, but for now.

As I made my way to the hospital with Bill’s wedding band and his favorite blanket, I realized that I had to tell Bill it was okay to go.  I entered the ICU,  covered him gently with his favorite soft blanket and slipped his wedding band on his finger.  I gently laid my head on the pillow beside his ear and whispered, “I don’t want you to go, but if Jesus comes for you, go ahead, I’ll be OK.  I love you!”  He opened and closed his eyes several times and made eye contact with me.

As eighteen of our family gathered around his bedside in the ICU, we sang hymns, took turns kissing and hugging him as he looked each one of us in the eyes and blinked goodbye.  I know the moment our Savior showed up and took my sweet Bill by the hand and led him over into Gloryland.  His countenance became that of a little boy full of wonder and his beautiful lips formed a perfect “O” as though he was already singing praises to the Lord.

Later, we made our way back to the hotel and as I sat in the lobby surrounded by family, the front desk found me and handed me a beautiful flower arrangement.  I thought friends had sent it – after all it was Valentine’s Day.  I opened the card and it said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife. Love, Bill”

God didn’t leave me in that room in the ICU.  He didn’t leave me in that hotel lobby crying over the last Valentine’s flowers I would receive from my husband.  He gave me hope.  I will see my husband again.  I have a Savior that who cares about my every thought and need.  He seeks my company all day and never fails me.

I have discovered I would not have picked this journey if given the choice, but I like who I have become because of what has happened to me.  God’s not done with me yet, and I’m excited to see the plans He has for my life and future.

My husband loved the Lord and, on a day all about love, he went Home to be with his Love.  That is hopeful!

This Valentine’s Day, on the day that celebrates love, may you think about the Lord who loves you—and will never leave you, no matter what.  That’s a promise from Him.

Dear Lord, Thank You for allowing me to love and be loved.   Thank You for assurance that I have an eternal home in Heaven with You when my earthly ministry is finished.  Thank You for Valentine’s Day and a new understanding of love that I have because of You.


Sherry 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 active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 20 years old and is in her second year of 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 

Another great article about Valentine’s Day is Holding HIS Hand… by Linda Lint

In Your Steadfast Love, Give Me Life!

“In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.”

Psalm 119:88 (ESV)

 

The waves of grief crash over my heart. I groan in the agony of distress; then just as quickly peace washes over my soul but a longing for HOME remains there. Oh, have mercy on me, Dear Lord! My heart is torn open and I feel numb! Nothing seems to mean anything…

The family on the beach is unaware of what I see as I sit here on my ninth floor balcony.  A mother laughingly videos daddy holding their little girl’s hand as the pair walk away from  her. “HOLD ON TIGHT!” I want to scream at them. Now, the daddy is filming the mother and daughter as they walk away, alone. Will they one day walk by themselves again, without him because they have no choice? Will their hearts break as they watch another family video on the beach? Will this pain I feel ever go away? How can the world keep turning and life for everyone just be normal? My life seemingly ended on April 20, 2012; yet I am still stuck here, supposed to carry on…how? By Your strength and Your steadfast love alone, Lord.

The above is taken from a piece of paper that has been in my Bible since May 8, 2012. It was written just two weeks after my husband’s sudden death. Our family was blessed with a trip to the beach to help us process our grief. This paper remains nestled between  two pages of Psalm 119, where I was studying during that time. It is a reminder to me of how far the Lord has carried me since that time.

It has been almost five years since my first husband died, and never once did God leave me or forsake me.

That sunny morning He gave me just the first of many reminders that His strength alone would carry me through the worst of times. My mind and heart were screaming in pain, but He gently took me back to where He wanted me to remain, enfolded in His arms and constantly in His Word. He has been so gracious to provide just what I needed each day to help me grow in my love and trust for Him over the years. Now He has blessed me with another man to call my husband; but I never want to forget how God provided strength and comfort to me right from the beginning of my widow journey. I leave this paper reminder in my Bible so that I will tangibly touch both my grief and my confidence in God whenever I turn to that passage of Scripture.

Sisters, God’s love is a STEADFAST. In our lives as widows it may seem that everything is topsy-turvy and that nothing is steady or trustworthy. But we know from Scripture that God’s love is ALWAYS steady and reliable when our world is crashing down around us.

I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 119 if you have never done so. It is long, but taken in pieces, it can be a balm to the hurting, weary soul. I pray that you will allow God to bathe you in His words of comfort and to give you the heart knowledge of His steadfast love today as you go with me to Psalm 119:81-88.

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, When will you comfort me? For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.” Psalm 119:81-88 (ESV)

Father, today I pray that we will be strengthened and overwhelmed with Your steadfast love that leads to life in the midst of turmoil! I pray that it will be so real to us that we want to share You with everyone around us today and every day.


Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Articles with a similar theme:  Is This My Hope?

Unpacking the Memories

“What is it like, Sherry?”

Have you been asked this question about your widowhood? I am at the point on this road that people feel more comfortable asking me.

What is it like to lose your husband, friend, soulmate?  I have given a lot of thought to this, and the best description I can give that others can understand follows:

Think about when you plan and take the vacation of a lifetime — sometimes it turns out better than you expected.  You plan for it, save money, buy tickets, purchase special clothing, pack.

When you arrive at your destination, you begin to experience wonderful things.  You take pictures, drinking in the experience.  No matter how long your vacation is, you have to return home eventually.  You pull out your suitcase to start packing the clothes and souvenirs you know you won’t need for the rest of the trip.  Finally  you pack everything away for the trip home.

There you unpack once more.  As you pull out the clothes, some go in a pile for laundry and others go straight into your closet, unworn.  You find a place for your souvenirs.  Your pictures are printed. Seeing the photos allows wonderful memories to flood through you.  This unpacking brings both good and not-so-good memories and feelings with it.  You often long to return to your vacation, but must stay in your day-to-day world, perhaps saving money for your next vacation.

Grieving the loss of my husband has been like what I described above.  We had a wonderful life – full of memories.  With his death, I had to start packing away parts of that life.  It’s a slow process, because I have kept my “suitcase” on the floor of my bedroom, unlatched– I couldn’t bear to finish unpacking.  Once you totally unpack, the vacation is really over.  I still go to the “suitcase” to take out the souvenirs, handling them carefully, letting them flood my heart with memories.  Wonderful memories.

Each time I unpack and pack this virtual “suitcase”, the sharp pain of my loss lessens.  It doesn’t hurt as much each time I ponder our life together.  There are memories that I would say should go in the laundry pile – hospital visions, bandages, tears.  Then there are the memories that remind me of the breath-taking life we had – his smile, our laughter, shared meals, snuggling.  My heart has a tug of pain when I think of these things, but then it swells with happiness at having been the recipient of such a wonderful love, even if it ended too soon.

As I prepare to commemorate the sixth year since his death, I look back on our wonderful life and do not feel the sharp pain I once felt.  I thank God that He allowed me such a sweet time with my husband and that my memories of that time are still fresh.  I ponder them in my heart, like Mary, the mother of Jesus.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 KJV

I encourage you to go to your “suitcase” and allow yourself to experience the wonderful memories of a life well-lived.  Ponder these memories in your heart, and let the pain be replaced by the sweetness of a wonderful time remembered.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the gift of love and for the wonderful memories we hold in our hearts of time spent with loved ones. Amen


 

Sherry 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 active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 20 years old and is in her second year of 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 

A great article about healing is here by Linda.