Always of Good Courage – Day 1,826


Always of good courage

1,826 days since my husband took his final breath.

 

Please indulge me as I take time to ponder. How would he see us on this five year anniversary?

There are certain things I know without a doubt. You may recognize some of them in your own circumstance.

He would be:

SURPRISED how much has changed in the world since he was alive, even small things like changes to our city roadways.

I had one of those irrational moments that makes sense only to those who experience grief. One day as I viewed massive changes to the interstate close to our home I began to panic. I worried he wouldn’t recognize how to get home. I then remembered he would never need that information again.

 

PROUD of the accomplishments of our children.

His coworkers mentioned repeatedly during visitation how often he talked about his family. They spoke of how he hurried to get back home to us when he traveled. One sorrow that never fades is that he cannot be physically present for milestones with our children now. However, they can be assured he would be bursting with pride and giving big hugs if he could be there.

 

THRILLED to know his grandson and future grandchildren!

He looked forward to spoiling grands. Though none of them will ever meet him here on earth they will still know who he was and what he loved. Papa G is present in photos and videos. He is mentioned often with love and laughter — he will not be forgotten.

 

PLEASED that I have been always of good courage from the day of his death to the present, have walked by faith, drawn strength from God’s word, and encouraged other widows to do the same.

He loved to serve. He supported anything I pursued, and it made him happy when we helped others. During our last prayer together, he asked God,  “Please shine Your light through my family and through me”. God has done that abundantly and the prayer continues to be answered.

 

HAPPY to know God provided a wonderful man to be my new husband.

Before his first military deployment we argued. He had the nerve to suggest that he would want me to marry again if he died. I adamantly stated it was NOT going to happen! He gently took my face, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You have too much love to give to be alone for the rest of your life. I would want you to remarry.”

I don’t think either of us believed it would become a reality; even twenty years later I did not. I had no intention of obeying his wishes when I found myself alone. But God’s timing is perfect and after almost three years as a widow, He opened my heart to the possibility of new love, then brought an incredible man into my life in a way that was clearly from Him. My first husband got his wish.

 

CONTENT to be exactly where he is right now.

 

Without a doubt,

nothing would entice him to return to this life.

 

He has been in the presence of the Lord every day for the past 1,826 days.

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

 

The Apostle Paul says,

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

 

Lord, while we remain here please help us to walk by faith and not by sight. We want to be always of good courage as we rely on Your direction in our daily lives, through Your word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please make us to continue to shine as a reflection of Your love. 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:   Piece By Piece  or Walk This

Secret to Joy

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

James 4:14 (ESV)

I stood gripping the edge of the counter, steadying myself, the memory of Tom washing through me like a flash flood of warm splashes, both refreshing and threatening at the same time.

Refreshing, because Tom exuded joy in his life—a twinkle in his eye and a keen sense of how to look at every moment and see the irony in it, the joy in it.

Threatening, because like Tom himself, I knew that immediacy of feeling the warmth of those moments would be lost when the cold hard reality would set in again—he’s gone.  He’s gone.

Life made a certain sense to Tom more so than it did to others, and anyone around him wanted that.

Even I.

It was his secret to joy. And most of us walking about on this earth don’t have it.

What was Tom’s secret?

Was it Christ? Yes, that was part of it—Tom sought after Christ like no one I had ever seen.

But it was more than that.  It was a wisdom—a sense that nothing on this planet is permanent, and that truth is okay. Because there is more. There is permanence in the next life.

When Tom finally chased after the Truth in the Gospels, he did so with this burning desire to understand, what’s next, God?  He had raised kids from his first marriage, and they were now grown.  He had started businesses, watched some grow, and watch some close down.  We had gone through ups and downs in our marriage.  And he would notice one thing…

It all eventually vanishes.

Children grow up and leave.  Businesses are never the same.  Friendships shift and people’s lives can change on a dime.  There’s got to be something more.

There is, and Tom found it.

When you know you are eternally safe with God, you can stop clutching on to this life, hoping the sands will stop shifting beneath your feet.  You will begin to just enjoy the ride of the shifting sands—enjoy that little toddler who is creating havoc in your home. Enjoy the brooding teen for who he is, a wonderful mixed up ball of hormonal creation whom God placed in your care because He entrusted you. Enjoy each of these dinner dates in that crazy process called dating. Laugh at the moments when you discover incompatibilities, trusting that God has a plan for the rest of your life.

Grab hold of every moment with laughter and purpose.

Because each of us as widows have learned something.  Our precious husbands left this world too soon, and since then, our lives were never the same.  We’ve learned that everything changes in the end.

But we also know that our husbands still exist somewhere.  We have a connectedness in our souls, a relational memory of someone we know is behind that curtain we might call the gates of Heaven.

Like a window into Heaven.

It makes a tragic view of this world, a view that says, it all goes away in the end, okay.

Not just okay, but encouraging.

Because we can rise above the pain and sorrow of events around us, knowing Heaven awaits.

Lord Jesus, help us find Your perspective through our window into Heaven. Help us enjoy the ride of life and see more humor in each moment.  Teach us to grasp each moment and decide to impact those around us so they see a window into Heaven like the rest of us.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

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

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Fill My Days with the Living

Daddyisms

Contentment as a Single Mom

 

Draw Closer

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

                                                                                                                John 16:7 ESV

I AM SICK OF DEATH!

Raw, heartfelt words exchanged with one of my closest friends this week as we tried to deal with the loss of one of our young friends. Our friend entered the gates of heaven after a tragic car accident while traveling home from a holiday visit with family. Our hearts are broken once again as we dwell on thoughts of the devastation and loss her husband and two young kids are experiencing. Once again, it just feels like too much. Way too much!

When I am struggling, I sometimes think about the disciples and their journey. This week as I struggled to deal with yet another death, I found myself almost envious of their time with Jesus. The disciples had the opportunity to walk with Jesus in the flesh, face-to face, every day. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could see Him in the flesh? To have a tangible, visual reminder He is with us? Would it change things for me?

If Jesus were here in the flesh, I don’t think I would sit in front of Him and tell him I feel so alone, it would seem silly if He was sitting right there. I don’t think I would do many of the things I do. Can you imagine binge watching the latest reality show with our Lord and Savior sitting in the room?  My guess is I would scurry around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to serve Him until eventually the light bulb would come on and I would remember the story of Martha and Mary. Then hopefully, I’d finally sit at his feet and totally immerse myself in His presence. I wouldn’t want any distractions. Ahhh, if only He were here in the flesh…

It is sad how off track we can get in our thinking. Why would I ever want Jesus in the flesh when what I have is SO MUCH MORE! JESUS LIVES IN ME! I never, ever have to do this alone! One of the most powerful lessons we can learn from the disciples is we can never be faithful enough or close enough to God on our own – even if Jesus were physically standing right in front of us as He was with the disciples. God’s plan is bigger and so much more. His plan was to send the Helper -the Holy Spirit.

To dwell in us.

                                So we could draw closer.

                                                                                                To Him.

I hate death, but at the same time I recognize it is a powerful time to see God at work.  In the midst of the devastation, we tend to falter, show our weakness, and the Helper becomes more visible. If we know Him, we recognize it is He who helps us draw closer. Maybe not in the way we would have thought or in the time-frame we wished it had happened, but He is there. Always. Helping. Drawing us closer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Father, we praise You for who You are. You are the creator of the Heavens and the Earth and You are our Creator. Father, we thank You for loving us and giving us Eternal Life with You. We thank You for the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. We thank You for helping us to draw closer. In Your Son’s precious and holy name. Amen.

 


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

If you are interested in having Sheryl or another team member speak please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Want to read another article by this author? Extravagant Love

Want to read other  articles about drawing close to God? I Choose You, Lord by Teri Cox

 


 

A New Word for a New Year

Galatians 3:11 (The Message)

The person who lives in

right relationship with God

does it by EMBRACING

what God arranges for him.

My mouth fell open. I sat in shock as the speaker seemed to look directly at me. How could she have known what God had been doing in my life for the past six months? It appeared she could see directly into my heart as she spoke.

But the verse she used almost made me stand up and shout, “Thank You, Jesus!” She had us turn to this verse in Galatians, and when she read it from The Message, it gave me chills.

You see, in 2016, I found a word, just one seven-letter word, that was to be my “word for the year”.

Embrace.

When I saw this verse had MY word in it, I knew I needed to take careful note.

God had shown me the word EMBRACE often over the past six months before I ever thought to see if there were any verses about it. I should have known that if God was going to lead me to a “word”, He would include His Word with it!

So what did I have to EMBRACE in 2016?

  • my widowhood – it is what God has arranged for me, and it is my story to bring Him glory.

  • my family – having children was arranged by God, so I embrace parenting with God as the father to the fatherless.

  • my past marriage – its difficulties  have allowed me to minister to others in similar circumstances. Its greatness has allowed me wonderful memories.

  • moving –  selling the home full of memories of my husband and purchasing a smaller home ready for new memories was a roller coaster of emotions.

As I develop my relationship with God by spending time with Him in His Word, I will EMBRACE what He arranged for me. I like to use my One Year Bible since it is a version I don’t use often. I see familiar passages in an entirely new light.

Recently I asked God if EMBRACE  was to continue as my word for 2017. Driving around with my son one day, our discussion turned to a relationship I was struggling with. What came to mind was how I should handle rejection by praying for the person. That’s when a new word for the new year hit me –

RELEASE! 

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will RELEASE my feet from the snare. 

Psalm 25:15 NIV

What do I need to RELEASE for 2017?

  • people – certain folk I am releasing to God (some on social media and some in real life).

  • situations – those I can’t control (like the Serenity Prayer says) need to be released to God’s control.

  • expectations – of myself and of others are being released.

All of these are snares for me personally. And keeping my eyes “ever on the Lord” is the best way to release these people or feelings to His control.

Happy 2017, sisters. Let’s make this a year of EMBRACING what God has arranged for us and of RELEASING what God doesn’t have for us.

Heavenly Father, as we start a new year, help us embrace all You have arranged. Energize our time spent building our relationship with You this coming year. We are grateful for Your love and care in our lives. We release what we cannot control to Your control. Amen

 


 

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. 

Would you like to read some articles for the start of a new year? Click here and here.

 

What It’s Not

But He gives more grace…

James 4:6a ESV

Are you dating anyone?

Why haven’t you dated?

How do you feel about dating?

Ah. The endless questions. And no one seems to understand…some days, least of all me…why nearly eight years later, it is still not a priority to find an answer to these questions.

For me, it’s not a simple thing to put into words. Just like this journey, it’s complicated. It is almost easier to tell what are not the reasons than what are. So here goes.

  • It’s not improperly mourning Keith…holding a torch for him that I should not hold, not willing to give my heart to anyone else, should God bring the right guy to me.
  • It’s not feeling there are no good men out there…I have seen God bring great guys to several of my widow friends.
  • It’s not a fear of losing someone else: while I cannot imagine going through this journey again, it does not scare me to the point that I would be unwilling to trust in love again.
  • It’s not worrying how my kids will accept someone else, how a blended family will work, or parenting other children if he should happen to have some…God is bigger than that.
  • It’s not that I don’t miss being married, or don’t get lonely, or don’t miss companionship…I do, just like anyone else.

What it is:

  • It’s being on the path of singleness that God has for me right now…a path I may always be on.
  • It’s concentrating on running the race that God has put before me to run, even if I run that alone—taking care of the tasks at home, school, and church that I must handle at this time.
  • It’s putting my Lord first as my Husband, regardless of the fact that He is not flesh-and-blood…and being confident in that place.
  • It’s being groomed for a future that I cannot see at this moment…trusting a Lord who can.

Maybe you are there, too, sister…tiring of explaining, working on rebuilding pieces of this torn life, trying to live the life God has now laid before you. My words for you are the same ones I tell myself in the mirror every day (and they come from Jesus Himself):

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

I must view any and all questions and struggles on this journey through the lens of His love and His Word…regardless of what well-meaning others may say or do, regardless of how I am feeling at the particular moment.

And…I must give grace…to them and to myself…whether any of us understand or not.

Father, You are the Giver of all good gifts. Thank You for the gift of my life as it is now. Help me to see You in it, even if it hurts like the dickens sometimes, even if it confusing and complicated. You love me. You love me! I rest in that knowledge. And that is enough. Thank You, Father. Amen.


 

liz325Liz Anne Wright is a homeschooling mom of four boys who enjoys meeting new people, walking, and reading. Since losing her husband in November of 2007, she has felt led to reach out to the grieving. With the help of friends, she started a local widows’ ministry to connect widows in her local area. She also renewed her childhood passion for writing and began her own blog, and a book about her widow experience. In all that she has been able to accomplish since the death of her husband, she gives full credit to her Lord and Savior. She is very thankful that, while she is very ordinary, the God she serves is extraordinary. Because of that, she is able to rebuild after her loss. She is not just surviving, but thriving! To Him be the glory!
Would you like to read more articles by Liz Anne Wright?  Click here
To read more articles like this, click here.
For booking a speaker from our ministry email us at: admin@anewseason.net

Serving Up Simplicity with Summer ‘Soft Serve’

Sisters, sometimes we simply need to slow down and savor the sweetness of summer. And a couple of years ago when I wrote this piece for Happily Whole, that’s exactly what I was doing: learning to slow down and savor blessings even inside the biggest burden I’d met in my life: widowhood.

You see, I’d been all caught up in the net of structure and my ‘need-to’know’. But suddenly He pricked my heart and soothed my tired soul with simplicity. For some of you, slowing down might come naturally. For me, I had to learn savoring in the slowness as a skill because He made my feet move fast from the time I touched the ground.

But, when my world stopped in the first moments of widowhood, I learned to walk more slowly. God showed up all over in the mundane and in my quest for healing! I can almost taste the simplicity from that time.

So, reading this blog from back then reminded me of my longing to linger a little more. Since then things have sped up and gotten more complicated….a LOT. I seem to have lost it to my type A tendencies once again in my new routine as a re-married widow and step mom. Relearning my own lessons is like a ‘soul-tap’, reminding me there’s always something sweet to savor.

So, sisters, will you stop and savor simple sweetness with me this summer? Come with me…read and then try the simplest soft serve recipe to remind you of His blessings in the small things.

Ruth Revisited

Recently I had a conversation with a close friend about my finances. We were discussing how I am TRYING to show my family how we are TRYING to live within our means. What do we do when my son is on the track team and needs a new pair of good running shoes? Or when the high school adds a policy of charging for being a part of the marching band? When there is still part of the month left at the end of our money? Do my children see me running to God for direction, running to use the credit cards, or calling a friend to ask for financial help?

This is a widow’s website; so naturally, we have written about Ruth. She lost her young love and found another love in Boaz. Eventually, down her line of offspring King David came and then, Jesus the Messiah. It is a great story, but I sometimes forget about her life BEFORE Boaz. I can get caught up in the romance and intrigue of finding new love and forget some of the details of her early life as a widow. And that’s when I noticed a verse for the first time.

Ruth 2:12 ESV… the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!

People noticed that Ruth had found her security and worth under the wings of the Lord of Hosts, God Almighty. This pagan widow, caring for her bitter mother-in-law, living off the good graces of the crop owners nearby, had found the true God of Israel to be her strength.

Can others see that in me?

For the first time, this verse in Ruth jumped out at me. Especially in light of my conversation about my finances. What does it mean to “take refuge” under God’s wings? Was Ruth from a wealthy family? Was begging in the fields totally new to her? Did she have to change what she was wearing-from lovely rich cloth to rough dirty cloth? Naomi may have had wealthy family members, and maybe she wasn’t much help in instructing her daughter-in-law in the skills of clearing a field.  What a testimony to God’s love, it could have been to the pagan Ruth, to have Naomi’s family members take them in and love on them. What if they had been feeding and caring for them, in the name of Jehovah? But that wasn’t God’s plan. Did Ruth discuss with Naomi any other way to provide for them? Did they ever think they were “above” this kind of work?

“Taking refuge” includes humility. We definitely see that in the way Ruth handled it all.

Ruth never demanded kindness from the Israelites. Never. She gleaned the fields “in hope” that someone would show her kindness. Their kindness was not a “debt” she felt entitled to. She humbly offered her service to Naomi.

Ruth was industrious – we have no record of her offering to go to the relatives for hand-outs. She got busy in the fields. “Taking refuge” also includes getting after the work God provides at the time, not concerned about the work that might come somewhere in the future, while sitting around doing nothing.

Ruth didn’t ask Naomi to help glean. These were Naomi’s people.Perhaps she should have been the one gleaning, but Ruth knew respect and, in respect, she “took refuge” by being respectful of the people in her life.

Ruth ventured out into the unknown, while God directed her steps. Sometimes “taking refuge” means taking a new direction.

So today I ask myself – is it evident to those around me that I have taken refuge under the shelter of God?

Is it evident to all around me that I take refuge NOT in myself, NOT in some trust fund, NOT in a new spouse, NOT in pride, NOT in my perfect budget?

My shelter is in God alone:

  • Humbly doing what God has put before me
  • Never demanding kindness from others
  • Being industrious and busy with the work He provides
  • Being respectful
  • Taking a new direction perhaps

Lord Jesus, Almighty God, thank You for being my shelter. Help me accept the kindness of others without expecting kindness or feeling entitled to anyone’s generosity. I declare today that I take refuge in You alone. I pray that others can see this in my life. Amen


 

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Elizabeth is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might. She lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars! Oh, and 1 hermit crab that continues to hold onto life some how. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that 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.”

 

If you are interested in having our team speak at your next event, contact us at admin@anewseason.net

Would you like to read more articles by Elizabeth? Click here!

Want to read more on Ruth? I am Mara by Sherry  & The Widow Ruth by Kit

 

Why Did This Happen, God?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

“Content” ?
In any and every situation?

“Really, Lord”?
How can this be!

A few months ago, God’s timing was to take my husband “home” to heaven to be with Him. We were “aging” and had issues we dealt with on a daily basis, but had not given consideration that any of them were at a point of taking us “home”! So needless to say, my husband’s unexpected “journey” to his heavenly home was a total surprise to me.

Oh, what a tough time! I was sure God did not really understand what He was doing. I was sure it was not my husband’s time to go “home”. In a matter of seconds, all of my hopes and dreams were gone! I could not understand how God thought I was going to be able to continue living! So many questions entered in my mind. Why did this happen? Why would God take my husband, now….

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever had a situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow something like this to happen!

As I have had time to work at making changes in my life and think about many things, I realize asking “why” is perfectly normal and isn’t unspiritual.

In other words: “Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?”

What can I learn from this?

What part of this is for my protection?

What other opportunities could God be providing for me?

What maturity could God be building into me?

If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in his good time he will lift you up. Let him have
all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.
I Peter 5: 6-7

Sisters, I must admit to you, this journey of “widowhood” has not been an easy one for me. My life changed completely in a matter of a few seconds. In just a couple of weeks after losing my husband, I disposed of most of our personal possessions, left my friends, my church, and moved to another state to be with family.

Was it easy?  No!  But, it was a way for me to find a perspective beyond situations where I felt God had allowed something in my life I didn’t understand.

I will be the first to tell you how much I still miss my husband of 48 years, but I will also tell you that time has allowed many changes in my life too! I am so thankful for my family and dear friends who walk with me, but most of all for my God who is there for every step I take! He has certainly given me an increased desire to draw closer to Him  than I ever did before!

God is there for you too …. just trust Him and ask Him to walk with you, too!

Lord, help me to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You.  Please help me to trust you, completely – thank you!

Five years and counting

      …Do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith….
                                                                                                                                              Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

“It’s been five years,” I whined to a friend.  “Five years, and I’m not sure God really understands my prayers and deepest desires.”

“I want to remarry.  I want to have a partner again, a father for my kids!”

“I know God is working, healing, and moving us.  I’ve seen Him do amazing things these last five years.  BUT.  He hasn’t provided anyone.  And it’s been five years.  FIVE!”

“I honestly thought God would provide by now.  What is He waiting on?”

Then I shifted the drama into overdrive.

“It’s like my kids and I are the Israelites in the desert.”

Yes, I went there with abandonment!

My friend asked gently, probably choking back a bit of laughter. “Have you wandered for forty years? Are you hot, tired, uncomfortable nomads who keep facing God’s wrath for disobedience?
Are you essentially lost in the desert really?”

“Well, no.  But still.  I want this!” I argued.

You can see from this conversation it’s clear, my timetable is obviously not being adhered to by God.

I’m even starting to consider, what if God doesn’t provide anytime soon or ever?

It’s been almost five years.  This was the rule of thumb for me.  I’m young and my kids so little, so I thoughtfully set the bar for God about a year after Scott passed, by the five year mark I’ll need to be remarried.

As I reflect on this recent conversation with my friend and as I sit just a few weeks away from the five year mark, I am reminded of Mary and Martha as they waited on Jesus to heal Lazarus.  In John 11:21 Martha believes and even let’s Jesus know if only He had been there earlier Lazarus wouldn’t have died.  Jesus hadn’t adhered to her timetable.

But, we have the privilege of seeing that Jesus knows what He’s doing.  We read He even waits two extra days after learning of Lazarus’ illness and probable death before heading to see him.

In this story we learn, God’s plans and purposes are far greater than our own, and beyond anything we can even fathom at times.

Mary and Martha believed because Jesus was “too late” it was over.

Instead, God had a far greater purpose!

Jesus in fact had perfect timing, because He was able to perform one of His greatest miracles by raising Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:43)

Mary and Martha lost sight of the fact that JESUS DOESN’T ADHERE TO HUMAN TIMING.  Instead, He’s all about the eternal, and He knows the plans and The Planner better than anyone.  He doesn’t go too slow or too fast.

God is making me wait.  No let me rephrase that, He is allowing me to wait.  I realize He has great purpose in the wait.

He wants me to grow in Him, to trust Him, to seek Him, and to serve Him. He has me wait, so I can grow into who He needs me to be.

I now realize like Mary and Martha I wasn’t well focused.  I was focused on the timing and chapters of my story and not on the Author!

Today, as I prepare to step into the first days of year six, I’m committing to look to the Author and Perfecter of all things each day, even as I wait… or even if the the answer isn’t the one I desire.

Father God, help me to trust You no matter what.  Help me to not get caught up in the time frame and the days and months.  Instead remind me of Your perfect plans for me and my kids.  Grow us into who You desire us to be.  Provide for us in the ways You see fit.  Help us to trust You in each moment of this life, whether You are having us wait or are just steering us in a different direction.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.

Anticipating Tomorrow

The countdown began. The ball descended slowly, inching to its destination. 3-2-1! Happy New Year! The room filled with streamers, noise makers, and lingering kisses. He wrapped me in a giant hug, eyes dancing, grinning broadly. When he smiled, his whole face smiled. And of course, he kissed me with gusto. Goodbye, 2012. Hello, 2013!

The trip to the emergency room several days earlier already seemed a fading dream. I stole a tender glance at my husband. Thoroughly alive, passionate, vivacious, charismatic, and definitely goofy; these embodied him. Sure, there’d be valve replacement surgery in the near future, but medication would manage the problem till then. Jon would recover, and we’d go on living, dreaming, and pursuing Christ, worshiping Him together. We expected the trial, but we were ready. God had always taken care of us. He’d see us through this one as well.

But our hearts were light, hopeful, looking toward the new year with anticipation. We’d recently moved to a new home. Jon had started a new job. And we hoped this year God would bring a child.

New Year’s Day I awoke thinking about fresh starts and new beginnings.

“Lord, You’ve brought us so far this year! 2o12 was a year of abundance. I’m so thankful.  Father, in the coming year, consume our hearts with You. More than anything we want You to be magnified. Would You use us for the sake of Your kingdom, Your gospel? We’re hopeful, Lord. We’re excited.”

Fresh Starts. New Beginnings. Hope.

In the middle of the night, less than a month after we greeted the new year with gladness, I lay in a tight ball, clutching my husband’s wedding ring. How does one describe that first horrific night? Shock. Numbness. Nausea. I think there are no adequate words. A single thought repeated endlessly, “Jon died. My husband is dead.” My brain could not process reality.

Hope? Excitement for the future? What future? It died with him.

Or so it seemed.

Almost two years later, at the dawn of 2015, again I look toward the coming year with hope and anticipation.

“But how could that possibly be? You were utterly crushed, your dreams wrenched away, ripped apart like a doll house in a hurricane.”

Yes, that’s true. But remember what I prayed that New Year’s Day.

“Consume our hearts with You. More than anything we want You to be magnified.”

He has done it. Through tragedy, God was there, meeting me with grace upon grace. Gradually I remembered that I had not also died, and I recalled the One who promises a “future and a hope.”(Jeremiah 29:11)

It was the death of my beloved that caused me to be captivated with Christ. I’m mesmerized by Him, utterly fascinated with Him, and long for eternity with Him. And in this place, there is profound, penetrating, soul satisfaction that this world cannot hope to provide.

It’s an anticipation of things to come, the not yet. I’m looking toward a day when the church will be perfectly united, glorified in heart and mind, rejoicing forevermore, face to face with the One who redeemed it!

I wouldn’t have chosen God’s answer, but He faithfully heard the cry of my heart. “Teach us to know You. Lord, be magnified through us.” With the apostle Paul I’m learning to say, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8 ESV).

Yet I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the second prayer. “Would You use us for the sake of Your kingdom?” If you had known my husband, you’d know this prayer was his heartbeat, even more so than mine.

And, oh, how God has granted that desire, multiplying the fruit! Confidently I see God using Jon’s life and death to strengthen marriages, to call a man to preach, to save the life of another heart patient—literally, to push me to things I never would have tried. Through writing, I get to proclaim to thousands that Jesus is hope, that He is life, and that He alone makes reconciliation between God and man!

These are merely glimpses. I know there’s exponentially more than I understand. So, I kneel in awe and humility. For God does not need me or my husband. I cannot add to His sufficiency. When I ask that God be magnified, it’s a prayer that men would ascribe the honor to Him that He already has.

Through Christ there are always fresh starts and new beginnings. And He satisfies. How then, could I not face tomorrow with gladness?

Lord, another year approaches. Would You fill the hearts of Your children with anticipation? Teach us that You are hope. Teach us that we can anticipate good things, that we can expect Jesus in sorrow and in joy. Amen.