When the Shoe is On the Other Foot

My cell phone rang one afternoon. I glanced at the caller ID and saw it was one of my “widow sisters”.

Our “small talk” was cut short when she jumped right into the reason for her calling. She felt awful because of a friendship that has been wounded.

Remember all the times you have struggled with losing friendships after the loss of your husband?

“Why would she avoid me like this?”

“What did I do to make them not want to include me anymore?”

“She never even called me after my greatest loss!”

We have written several articles about these situations because the loss of friendships after the loss of our husbands is like a double-whammy. We needed these friends, and they weren’t there for us.

My friend was in tears because she realized she was ONE of those friends this time. A high- profile death occurred in her city, and she wasn’t in the closest circle of friends. The husband passed away suddenly, and my friend was advised to “lay low” for a while, but was in constant prayer for the family. The families had such an interesting relationship over about twenty years. Picture frames held glimpses of outrageously fun trips with her children. Always her prayer list included members of this family.

Now, many months after the man’s death, an email showed up in my friend’s mail.

“Where have you been?”

“Of all people, you should have been here.”

Like a knife, it stuck in her heart.

The shoe was on HER foot this time. She was ONE of those friends. My friend is so thoughtful and a true prayer-warrior. She never would be like this. But she listened to advice that now had come back to hurt them both. She remembered those friends who stepped out of the picture when her own husband died as a young father. She remembered the empty feeling of not having a close connection during the most painful time as a young solo parent. And now the pain of knowing she had done the same thing unintentionally was devastating.

As I listened, one word came to my mind.

Grace.

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

Sometimes we have to give ourselves grace, not to mention others.

Sometimes we have to embrace our failures so Christ is able to shine through. Just like the pieces of a stained glass window are most beautiful when the sun shines through, we are most beautiful when we let Christ show through our weaknesses. The people who see this will know for sure it is God and not our own strength.

My advice to my beautiful friend was to do what she had already been led by God to do: contact her immediately and apologize. She needed to let this friend know she had never ceased praying for her and her family. Not sure of the new widow’s spiritual standing, my friend never intended to be a stumbling block to her faith journey.

Guilt over mistakes and weaknesses is not from God.

But allowing Christ to shine through our cracks and broken pieces is often when others see Him the brightest.

Have you been unintentionally aloof to another new widow, just waiting for the “right time” to say something but never seeing a chance? Have you not reached out to another friend when you should have? We all are guilty of things in friendships that hurt others. But I find it so easy to point out the people in my life who have not been the friend I needed. This call from my friend was a reminder to me to evaluate MY part in friendships.

Lord Jesus, thank You for opportunities to share the comfort You have given us through our deepest valley and darkest days. Give us chances each day to shine Your light so others can see it in our weaknesses. Friends are a gift so help us appreciate the friends we have while looking for ways we can be a better friend to others. Amen 


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

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.

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

Here’s a great article about friendships from Erika.

Another great article from Kit.

 

Solo Mom

“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

I had lunch with a friend awhile back. She told me she was in awe of me.  Not because I’m really awesome, which I usually am until I get out of bed in the morning. But, because I parent three kids all on my own.  Let me just share she’s a new mom, so she’s in that phase of being totally sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I call it “first baby syndrome”!  So to see me do it with three kids, right now to her I look pretty awesome.

Although she’s never there in the morning when we have exactly two minutes before we need to leave for school.  There’s a whole level of crazy she doesn’t see!

The life my kids and I lead is an intimate dance usually meant just for us.

Yet, from the outside in the glimpses she and others might get, we look pretty “good”.  After lunch I sat considering our conversation and her impressions of me, realizing that I am being watched by many; as a woman, as a widow, as a Christian, and particularly as a mom. That fact was heavy!

Because-

I fail every day.  I mess up and make mistakes.  I yell.  I lose my patience.  I say things I shouldn’t. I wonder sometimes if my kids’ poor behavior or attitudes are totally due to my lack luster parenting.

As a solo mom, I have made many bad decisions. And just the other day my teenage daughter reminded me in a “most helpful” way, I don’t follow through with my threats sometimes.

I’m pretty mediocre at best.

I am certainly no one to be watched.

Honestly, solo parenting is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done!

I never have a day off. Every decision is on me. Every time I need to discipline it’s just me.  I can’t “tag” out and pass them off to anyone.  Ever.

I have a village of people who help me.  And I’m blessed by that group in so many ways.  But, the bottom line is, I’m it!  I don’t get any days off.  I can’t call on my hubby to deal with a behavior issue for me.  I can’t talk out the decisions or issues I have with each of them with the guy who got them as well as I do.  When there’s an issue.  It’s just me!

And that’s just the character molding…

There’s also the schedule managing, homework completing, lunch making, clothing washing, appointment managing, taxiing, sport watching, feeding, project completing, and meet every other need I do daily.

So what’s my secret?  What’s the big epiphany to this calling as a widow?  Why does my friend admire me?  Well.  You ready?

I’m a terrible sinful person.  My kids are terrible sinful people. It’s really not us.  It’s all by the blood of Christ.

It’s the Him in us that others see.

We aren’t perfect, yet HE is.

We keep it real.  We are authentic.  We show people it’s okay to be a messy unorthodox family.  It’s okay to have grief as a family member.  It’s okay to not be totally okay.  And yes, I am even showing others, solo parenting is possible by God’s amazing grace, provision, and mercy.

I need daily love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  And I receive that and so much more when I approach His throne and lay it all before Him.

For me, I know for certain, right now there’s no greater time than this, and no greater need than the needs of a widow trying to solo parent her kids.

Father, thank You for the grace You give me as a solo mom.  Thank You that You’re the constant I can rely on when I especially fail as a solo mom.  Your mercy and grace covers me every day, and for that I am so grateful. Lord, I lift up other solo moms to You now.  Come alongside them.  And be all they need right now.  Convict them to go before Your throne and find Your grace and mercy to be exactly what they need. 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 on Solo Momming: A Mom’s Grace-filled Saga & Mission: Parenting!

Love Lessons

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 13:34-35 (KJV)

They will know we are Christians by our love.

My latest course in God’s “love lesson curriculum” has been learning to love people.  I thought I knew what love looked like and felt like, and I always thought I was good at love.  I even learned sacrificial love as I walked my husband Home.  I thought I had “love” down…no further lessons needed.  Next topic…faith, hope, stewardship…what will it be?

God has been gently showing me that I have several more lessons to go.  It started with me realizing and embracing the fact that people are messy.  Next I realized, I can’t control anything or anyone, but myself.  Let’s be honest, that’s not always possible either.  Then I learned, everyone is working on something, even those who don’t call Jesus their Savior.

Recently, something happened in my life that rocked my world to its foundation. (Out of respect of those involved, I won’t share the intimate details.) Someone I love made a choice that turned their world upside down and as a result, my world was blown apart too.  My heart became collateral damage. I had to watch them walk the path of desolation back to hope and restoration.  I anticipated the consequences coming before they arrived.  I spoke of the choices they were making and the consequences that could come.  I spoke about how the consequences might be hard, long-lasting, and would change life forever.  But, my warnings went unheeded.

So, when the day came, my loved one was so ashamed, they did not approach me for help for almost twenty-four hours, because they thought I would stop loving them.  When I finally learned of their predicament, I was devastated. So, I began to just pray during the phone call.  I asked my Father how I should respond; not only to the news, but to the fears this person had about me not loving them anymore. As I prayed and the conversation continued, my Savior sent me very clear instructions…..

Love.

“Excuse me, Savior, did You say love them?”  “Yes, daughter, love them, pursue them, fill them to overflowing with love.  Remind them of My love and that MY love flows through you.”

Love them.

Then, love them some more.

Let everywhere they turn be filled with love.  Don’t chastise them or remind them of your warnings.  No “I told you so” conversations.  Just love them and then love them some more.

So, for once in my life, I listened the very first time, and I showed love, acceptance, grace and mercy.  At every opportunity, I sent loving messages, phone calls, notes and scripture references.  I reminded them that the Savior loved them, even at their worst, and by taking Jesus into their heart, things could be made new. He would make things right.  It might take some time, but I assured them that I would walk this path with them.

A beautiful thing occurred.  Love grew love.  Our relationship is deeper and has more abundant love.  The more love I poured out, the more it bonded us tighter together.  There are consequences to the choices made and those will be hard.  But, we are walking this road together and our load is lighter because we are filled to overflowing with love -for the Savior and for each other.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Dear Lord, Thank You for modeling Love.  Thank You for modeling Grace and Restoration.  Thank You for walking this path with me.  I’m so blessed.  Amen

Sherry bioSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 18 years old and a college freshman.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s prayer that Christ will shine through her and that Christ will 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 liked this article, you may be blessed by reading the article by Erika Graham, “I Said Yes

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

 

What’s in Your Eye?

 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:3-5

 

Have you ever prayed for God’s grace and mercy? I’m sure you have, each of us on this grief journey most likely pray for grace and mercy at some point along the way. I recently suffered another heartbreak in my life. Sometimes, I get weary and just plain tired of heartbreak. It’s as if I want to scream, “God have I not suffered enough? Has my price not been great enough?” Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that even in the midst of my tragedy, I am still abundantly blessed. But sometimes, this life and its struggles just wear me out. It’s then that I’ve to go “old-school” and simply fall on my knees.

There is nothing that says we have to pray on our knees for it to be heard or have “more power”, but I find that when I am on my knees, my heart changes. When I still have the strength to stand, I don’t seem to need God as much or completely depend upon His power. When I am on my knees, I am saying, “God, this is Yours. I have no control, no resource within myself, all I have is You. I bow before You.” Yet, isn’t that EXACTLY where He wants us to be? Isn’t being totally dependent upon Him what truly gives us strength and power, because it’s His not ours?

As I was going through this recent heartbreak, I found myself being critical of others involved and how they handled the situation. As I prayed through it, I felt convicted. I ALWAYS want God to show grace and mercy to me, but I was not showing near enough of it to those around me, nor was I sure how merciful I wanted Him to be with them. WRONG-I was just wrong. It is the Matthew 7 speck vs. log thought process. I wanted to point out to God what they did wrong; like He needs my help. I wanted God to heal me and change them.

Grief is hard and messy. Not everyone grieves the same way and not everyone respects the way we grieve. Yet, if I want God to be loving and kind to me, I have to be willing for Him to be just as loving and kind to them. I can’t ask for God to be creative with me and not allow Him to be just as creative with others. We are all His works in progress. Our stories are not finished and our pictures are not yet completed. He is working His masterpiece in each of us. Some days I have to remember we ALL need grace and mercy. At the end of the day, I simply need to ask God to heal and change me, (that’s examining my own eye) and to have His way in the lives of those around me.

Lord, Help us to love others as we love ourselves and to work on removing the logs from our own eyes, through Your healing hands. In Jesus name. 

  

.Tcas1Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012; after she lost her best friend Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry; with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

For booking information, please contact her at admin@anewseason.net or call 501-438-9028

To read more articles by Teri, click here.

Other articles on this topic: Finding the Good & A New Year… Another Try

Out of Order

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48 (ESV)

Until recently this verse would make me cringe. It was that word—perfect.  I’m so far from perfect, and hearing from Christ Himself that we must be perfect–oh, how to live up!

Several years into my journey as a single mom, I took a closer look at this passage. After all, having to do it all myself only made me more aware of just how imperfect I was.

Especially with my home which had sunken into a state of disrepair.  Not total shambles, mind you.  Come visit, and you’d notice it was kept neat, and, at first glance, you might have thought I did quite well with the upkeep.

That was at first glance–that first impression where I can fool you into thinking I’ve got it together.

But God knew what lurked behind the neat home. Look a little more closely, and you would see a corian counter top cracked down the middle, a built-in microwave with an OUT OF ORDER sign on the door—the cheaper counter-top model taking up space underneath, and a broken faucet dripping in the guest bath. Try the keypad on the sound system in the house, and you’d get only an odd blinking light with no sound. Try the doorbell, and you’d hear an odd sound of electrical fuzz instead of a singsongy ding-dong.

I’ll stop with the list—you get the idea. These broken things were symptoms that half of me was missing—the half that always took care of the home. Without him, each time something broke, I found myself shrugging my shoulders and telling myself—well, here’s something else I’ll have to go without.

So if Christ calls us to be perfect, do I chase the ideal of a perfect home?

After all, I could have fixed the corian counter.  An estimator came out and started to hard-sell me on replacing it altogether with new granite. Who knows whether he was on the up and up? Without a man around, he might have been seeing me as an opportunity for some easy money.

But how I wish someone would help. It was a source of pain for me daily, my not managing things well. Every time I used that countertop microwave, I thought about the should-have’s and would have’s of repairing things in my kitchen.  When a guest would  remind me that I still haven’t fixed that faucet, I felt so forgetful. And I wanted to ring the next person’s neck for telling me I really should get that doorbell fixed.

I knew this was a season to have grace with myself. But unlike so many problems during that season, this one never seemed to get an answer to my prayers.

Until I studied this verse and saw a deeper purpose for this struggle. How could I be perfect as Matthew 4:48 demands when I simply didn’t have the resources or know-how to keep the home up and chase my four boys?

In today’s culture of perfectionism, we put so much pressure on ourselves to have it together in order to be acceptable.  Sometimes failure allows us to recognize just how flawed we are and how much we need a Savior.  When Jesus walked this earth He asked us to be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48).  But think about it.  Did Jesus look perfect?  Did He have the best garments?  Did He hang with the most popular crowd? Did he have a perfect house? No. In fact He didn’t have a home!

But, did He have a perfect heart?  Yes. And He didn’t worry about what He wore or what He would eat.

Not all matters of a widow come with answers.  The storm whirling around our lives can teach us the joy that comes with accepting our circumstances.

Heavenly Father, I don’t know why sharing my house of items in disrepair is what You put on my heart to share, but perhaps my being real about my failure in this area and the Grace You’ve given me to have for myself is something a widow out there needs to hear.  Lord if so, help her know she is completely accepted by You, even if she’s unable to keep up in a certain area of her life.  Amen.

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

Would you like to read more about having trouble keeping up?  Here are some articles you might try:

Draw a Picture! Simple Advice from the Lord by guest blogger Gwen Rogers

A Single Mom’s Grace Filled Saga by Katie Hagen

Pride is NOT Pretty

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1Peter 5:5b-11 ESV

There is a lot of power in scripture.

God’s Word speaks for itself.

It speaks LOUDLY!

What part of this text from 1 Peter stands out to you? Is there a sentence or two that brings you comfort or perhaps makes you uncomfortable? Does part of it make you want to learn more or dig deeper? Is there a truth you need to read, or a reminder that hits you like a baseball bat cracking on opening day?

For me, it is the first 10 words; “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

I have by my own admission, always struggled with pride, and it has become apparent to me that I am often too proud to let others know when I am in real need of assistance.   On this journey of widowhood,  it’s hard to say when I’m pressed physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually.   I am supposed to be strong. 

Pride is not pretty, and it can leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks as he prowls around seeking whom he can devour.  Pride actually makes us weaker, not stronger! Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”ESV Yet, oh the promises of God sisters, if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will exalt us in His time. If we cast our cares on Him, He will shoulder them because He cares for us. After we have suffered, His grace will be sufficient. His mercy and strength will fall on us. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.

We are not alone and we DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS ON OUR OWN. Sometimes, it is hard for us to ask for help, or reach out, or seek wise counsel because we do not want to appear foolish. This too, is pride and arrogance. Let it go and seek any assistance you may need. Someone may be waiting to bless you, if you will just ask. God may be waiting on you to say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t fix it, but You can.” That may be all He needs to shout, “FINALLY, I’ve got this!”

So, this is my honest prayer today:

God, I give up. You and You alone can help me fix the messes I have made. You and You alone can bring healing and peace. I step down Lord and long to get out of Your way. Please rescue me, right now. I need Your grace. AMEN!

Delight in Weakness – Part One: Grace is Sufficient

By Kitty Hinkle

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

When I read of Paul’s affliction—his thorn in his side, and how he pleaded with God to remove it only to hear God say, “my Grace is sufficient”, I think of the many times I’ve pleaded to the Lord to relieve me from the struggles of widowhood.

While there are times I know there is so much victory in my life, there are equally times I find myself feeling lonely, overwhelmed or ridiculously inadequate.

Like when I can’t keep up with it all. There’s four of them (my kids) and one of me and I long for those times when my husband would take them all swimming and let me have that uninterrupted time to just collect myself, pay the bills, clean up my office and plan the next week’s schedule.

It seems that’s something I’ll never get over loosing, that feeling of having the time to pull it all together in a nice organized neat bow. Seems I’m barely able to get out the door to meet whatever appointment is next on my plate, and I’m terribly embarrassed when I’m late.

So what do I do when I’m late?  I rush in and hide in the back, hoping no one notices.  It’s kind of silly when you think about it.  Who would harshly judge a single mom with four kids just because she struggles with her schedule?

I know who—me.  For example, this morning I was to meet the summer camp busses dropping my son and all the other campers off. I knew where the meeting point was—I had met there a half a dozen times in past years. So when I arrived five minutes early, I congratulated myself—who says being a single mom of four boys is hard?

So as though to humble me, God arranged for the office park were we were to meet to be moved!

Yes, can you believe it?  Six story buildings gone, replaced by a strip mall.  The nerve of him!  I was positive the office part was on the corner of Providence and Route 51.

Or was it Providence and McKee Road.  Oops.

I glanced at my watch. Five minutes late. I turned around only to get stuck at the same light that I waited for going in the other direction!  I’m going to look so stupid, I said to myself.

By the time I pulled in to the parking lot, I was fifteen minutes late and saw familiar faces of moms and dads.  Oh, no, how long has my son been waiting. He’s probably the last one to be picked up!

Right behind me, the busses started pulling in and I relaxed. God’s so good! Not only would my son not know, but I betted none of the other parents would know either!

I parked the car and move toward the busses, saying hello to the other parents with a big smile like: see? No egg on my face!

Then I remembered—it isn’t me who got there before the busses.  It’s God who planned all along to save my son from having to wait there by himself.  In my weakness Christ’s power was revealed.  Who was I to hide that from others?

I finally admitted to another mother how hard it was for me to keep track of the location. I was surprised when she laughed and thanked me. “Sometimes I think all the other ladies but me have it together!” she said. “It’s nice to see someone being rescued by busses arriving late!”

It’s a small step to telling a testimony of God’s strength, but I never underestimate these small steps. God knows our weaknesses and reveals His glory each time He steps in where we fall short. Tomorrow I’ll write to you about a close sister who has an affliction she has struggled with her whole life and can testify to God shining through your weaknesses. Her story gives new perspective on how our struggles with grief and loneliness can create a character in us humble and worthy of being a testimony to God’s strength.

For when I am weak, He is strong.

There Are No Do-Overs

I have a secret to tell…I am selfish, controlling, and I’m not always happy.  Phew!  I got that out!  Now, for an explanation…

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the likeness of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be- James 3:8-10 KJV

I am almost four years into this grief journey, and as I type this article I am preparing for this ministry’s upcoming November 2014 conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I will be co-presenting on the topics of Dating and Courage.  Then, I will be speaking at our Love Lights ceremony about grieving with hope and being open to God’s new calling in our lives.

As I march into the days and hours leading up to the conference, I have been bombarded with flashbacks of terrible moments at the end of my husband’s life; the moments where I did not use my tongue to God’s glory.  Those moments are moments I wish I could erase.  The things I said and decisions I made were made in my flesh, thinking I had more time.

Several days before what would be Bill’s death, we were in the transplant wing and it was getting late so I was preparing to leave to go to the hotel for the night.  Bill asked me to spend the night in his room.  On the transplant wing, you cannot use the patient’s bathroom or their bedding.  There is no comfortable place to lie down in the room, and any time you have to use the restroom you have to leave the wing. Then, to come back, you have to go through a series of doors and a hand-washing station to enter again.  I had been on caregiver watch for several weeks, had been at the hospital since before breakfast, and I was very tired.  I told him I needed to go home, so I could re-fuel and come back to love on him the next day.  I thought we’d have “tomorrow”.  I never slept with my husband again; nor did I ever wake up near him again.

The last conversation I had with my husband was in ICU on Friday, February 11, 2011.  He had just had his breathing tube removed and his voice was raspy.  He was lucid for the first time in days, and his medical team was talking about taking him back up to the transplant wing.  There was a lot of hope in that ICU cubical that day.  Bill’s best friend from work and two other friends were visiting us, and they had travelled a long distance to visit him.  Bill wanted just me and kept saying to me, “I love you; I love you; I love you” and holding tightly to my hands and pulling me close and kissing me – over and over again.  I felt the pull of his friends wanting time with him and I told him I would see him soon and gave some of my time to them…I would never have another conversation with him again.

I am not looking back when I share these moments (and there are many more).  I am simply sharing lessons with you.  Do not take the present moment for granted.  Love like you don’t have tomorrow.  Forgive as though your life depends on it.  Share as though you are the only resource available.  Speak with love.  Once the moment is over, you will regret it if you didn’t handle it with grace and love.  There are no do-overs.  Satan uses these moments to attack me and stunt my grief journey.  I have to call on my sisters and brothers in Christ to carry me when I am attacked with these moments.

God is good and He sustains me, through the Holy Spirit who strengthens and comforts me. Prayer supports me.  I can, through Christ, move past these memories and into the Truth.  Bill knows I loved him and knows that in both of those moments; I made the correct choice with the information I had at the time.  Bill has forgiven and, in Heaven, he has forgotten those moments and is busy worshipping his Savior.  That thought helps to remind me that I need to be busy about the Lord’s work here.  If I sit and think on these moments that I could have handled better, I am looking back and not moving forward.  If I am busy about the Lord’s work, then I am moving forward and thinking about my Savior; not regrets, memories, and what ifs.

Sweet Father,   Thank You for reminding me to look to You when the memories of what ifs come to mind.  Thank You for Your Grace and Mercy and for Your Word which sustains me.  Thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to point me to You.  I love You, Lord!  In Jesus name, Amen

 

 

 

Palm Sunday

By Danita Hiles

I had a great post all written for this morning.   Then Palm Sunday happened.

It was one of those sermons where everyone else could have stayed home- this one was just for me !

It’s been a rough two weeks at my house.   Mean girls and standardized testing both chipped away at my girls’ self-confidence.   Crumbling stucco showed evidence of my house’s need of repair.    I made a HUGE financial mistake –which will cost me time and money to rectify. My precious sister continues to struggle in her fight against a debilitating disease.    And so on….

Then I heard these words on Sunday morning:

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, throngs of people crowded around, waving palm branches, singing praises, straining for a glimpse of the King.  The One who would end it all. The One who was promised to save them.   ‘Hosanna, Hosanna’, they cried.   ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’

One week later, those same crowds cried out again.

‘Crucify Him, Crucify Him’, they cried.  ‘Give us Barabbas instead.’   One week.   Seven days.

What had happened in one week to change their cry from praise to accusation?

To cause them to put down their palm branches of praise and to raise clenched fists in the air?

Simply this.  Things were not working out the way they thought they should.

They imagined a King riding in victory to change it all.  Prosperity.  Victory.   Freedom.

Instead, they got a humble servant, carrying a Cross- walking to His death.   Followed by taunts and jeers.   Sentenced to die.

Where is the victory in that ?

I can relate.

Can I be really honest with you? Somehow in the back of my mind is the thought that since we have lost so much, since my girls have lost their dad and grandparents, since I have had to walk the path of widowhood,   things should be a little easier.  The way should be smoother.

Sometimes I get mad because things are not working out the way I think they should.

And in those times, I can easily switch from a heart of praise and thankfulness and trust to a heart of disappointment and dismay.   How quickly my cry can shift from adoration to accusation.    ‘Why, Lord why’?   ‘How can you let this happen?’  ‘Where is there any victory in this ugly’?

Precious Jesus – as I walk through this Easter week, forgive me for my doubt.  Forgive me for my lack of trust.  Forgive me for joining the crowd and raising my fist in the air in accusation against the ugliness of life.  I choose to trust you. No matter what.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  That you were willing to die.  For me.   That you have promised to work all things together for good.   Even when things are not working out that way I think they should, you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  And your kingdom is forever.  I pray you meet each of my sweet sisters right where they are.  And that even in the middle of whatever life is throwing at them right now; they would still see You as King and choose to say ‘Hosanna.”

He is risen!!!

Let’s take a few minutes and praise Him together!

 

The Bout with Doubt: Part Five – Freedom to Greive Healing Tears

By Kitty Hinkle

If you’re coming to us for the first time this week, begin with the part one of our posting on The Bout with Doubt- Part One:  Occasional Wallow or Habit? After reading the introduction to the series, follow through each part of the series as we walk through the steps of eliminating the habit of unhealthy anxiety.

Step one: Recognizing habitual tears (Tuesday’s posting)

Step two: Observing the habit (Wednesday’s posting)

Step Three: Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)Step Four: Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)

The more I heal from the loss, the easier it has become to recognize and welcome the tears at a moment when I know God wants me to work through something. I recognize it by listening only to God- feeling that connection and feeling His encouragement as I grieve.

Sometimes I crawl into bed at night with my laptop and flip over to the youtube video I uploaded. It’s a video tribute to my husband put to the song, Captain Sunshine.  You’re welcome to check it out here.

It’s been three years, so usually when I look at it, I have warm thoughts and a sad smile and that is it.  But there are those days where a surge of sadness comes over me as music plays and I erupt into tears.  I’m sobbing heaving tears, but I’m feeling relief—peaceful and healing. It’s God led grief, and I know it.

My prayer is that all of us lean more on the tears that heal the wounds.

Dear Lord, there are many reasons for tears when we grieve. Even patterns that may turn habitual are part of the grieving process.  You made each of us with specific design, and the grieving of a loss has to take its own particular path through each of our hearts.  I pray, Lord, that somewhere in all the different perspectives we’ve covered on the bouts of tears this week, someone finds Truth to help her better understand her tears so she can embrace her grief as a part of Your healing.